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to divert, not to offend, the company, by their ridiculouj wit: but female singers, and the soft effeminate modes of music, are severely banished, and such martial tunes as animate the soul to deeds of valour are alone grateful to the ear of Theodoric. He retires from table; and the nocturnal guards are immediately posted at the entrance of the treasury, the palace, and the private apartments."
When the king of the Visigoths encouraged Avitus to assume the purple, he offered his person and his forces as a faithful soldier of the republic* The exploits of Theodoric soon convinced the world that he had not degenerated from the warlike virtues of his ancestors. After the establishment of the Goths in Aquitain, and the passage of the Vandals into Africa, the Suevi, who had fixed their kingdom in Gallicia, aspired to the conquest of Spain, and threatened to extinguish the feeble remains of the Roman dominion. The provincials of Carthagena and Tarragona, afflicted by a hostile invasion, represented their injuries and their apprehensions. Count Fronto was dispatched, in the name of the emperor Avitus, with advantageous offers of peace and alliance; and Theodoric interposed his weighty mediation, to declare that, unless his brother-in-law, the king of the Suevi, immediately retired, he should be obliged to arm in the cause of justice and of Rome. "Tell him," replied the haughty Rechiarius, "that I despise his friendship and his arms: but that I shall soon try whether he will dare to expect my arrival under the walls of Thoulouse." Such a challenge urged Theodoric to prevent the bold Jesigns of his enemy: he passed the Pyrenees at the head of the Visigoths; the Franks and Burgundians served under his standard; and though he professed himself the dutiful servant of Avitus, he privately stipulated, for himself and his successors, the absolute possession of his Spanish conquests. The two armies, or rather the two nations, encountered each other on the banks of the river Urbicus, about twelve miles from Astorga; and the decisive victory of the Goths appeared for a while to have extirpated the
or favour at the court of Thoulouse. * Theodoric himself
had given a solemn and voluntary promise of fidelity, which was understood both in Gaul and Spain.
Romse sum, te duce, Amicus,
Principe te, Mn.ES. Sidon. Panegyr. Avit. 511.
name and kingdom of the Suevi. From the field of battle Theodoric advanced to Braga, their metropolis, which still retained the splendid vestiges of its ancient commerce and dignity.* His entrance was not polluted with blood, and the Goths respected the chastity of their female captives, more especially of the consecrated virgins; but the greatest part of the clergy and people were made slaves, and even the churches and altars were confounded in the universal pillage. The unfortunate king of the Suevi had escaped to one of the ports of the ocean; but the obstinacy of the winds opposed his flight; he was delivered to his implacable rival; and Rechiarius, who neither desired nor expected mercy, received with manly constancy the death which ho would probably have inflicted. After this bloody sacrifice to policy or resentment, Theodoric carried his victorious arms as far as Merida, the principal town of Lusitania, without meeting any resistance, except from the miraculous powers of St. Eulalia; but he was stopped in the full career of success, and recalled from Spain, before he could provide for the security of his conquests. In his retreat towards the Pyrenees, he revenged his disappointment on the country through which he passed; and in the sack of Pallantia and Astorga ho showed himself a faithless ally as well as a cruel enemy. Whilst the king of the Visigoths fought and vanquished in the name of Avitus, the reign of Avitus had expired, and both the honour and the interest of Theodoric were deeply wounded by the disgrace of a friend whom he had seated on the throne ot the western empire.f
The pressing solicitations of the senate and people, per
* Quaeque sina pekgi jactat se Bracara dives.—Auson. de Claris Urbibus, p. 245. From the design of the king of the Suevi, it is evident that the navigation from the ports of Gallicia to the Mediterranean was known and practised. The ships of Bracara, or Braga, cautiously steered along the coast, without daring to lose themselves in the Atlantic. [The Urbicus is the Orbega of the present day, which rises in the mountains of the Asturias, takes a southward course and is joined by the Esla, when the united streams, flowing by Leon, fall into the Douro at Zamora. Braga now one of the principal cities of Portugal, had the Roman name of Bracara Augusta. The place where Kechiarius embarked was probably Calle, at the mouth of the Douro, now the well-known harbour of Oporto.—Kd.]
+ This Suevic war is the most authentic part of the Chronicle of Idatius, who, as bishop of Iria Flavia, was himself a spectator and a sufferer. Jornandes (c. 44, p. 675—677) has expatiated with pleasure
suaded the emperor Avitus to fix his residence at Home, and to accept the consulship for the ensuing year. On the first day of January, his son-in-law, Sidonius Apollinaris, celebrated his praises in a panegyric of six hundred verses; but this composition, though it was rewarded with a brass statue,* seems to contain a very moderate proportion either of genius or of truth. The poet, if we may degrade that sacred name, exaggerates the merit of a sovereign and a father; and his prophecy of a long and glorious reign was soon contradicted by the event. Avitus, at a time when the imperial dignity was reduced to a pre-eminence of toil and danger, indulged himself in the pleasures of Italian luxury; age had not extinguished his amorous inclinations; and he is accused of insulting, with indiscreet and ungenerous raillery, the husbands whose wives he had seduced or violated.f But the Bomans were not inclined either to excuse his faults or to acknowledge his virtues. The several parts of the empire became every day more alienated from each other; and the stranger of Gaul was the object of popular hatred and contempt. The senate asserted their legitimate claim in the election of an emperor; and their authority, which had been originally derived from the old constitution, was again fortified by the actual weakness of a declining monarchy. Yet even such a monarchy might have resisted the votes of an unarmed senate, if their discontent had not been supported, or perhaps inflamed, by Count Ricimer, one of the principal commanders of the barbarian troops, who formed the military defence of Italy. The daughter of Wallia, king of the Visigoths, was the mother of Bicimer; but he was descended, on the father's side, from the nation of the Suevi;J his pride or patriotism might be exasperated by the misfortunes of his countrymen;
on the Gothic victory. [Idatius waa three months a captive in the hands of the Suevi, under Frumarius. Pallantia, called by him Palantina civitas, bears now the name of Polencia, to the north of Valladolid. The village of Padron, south of Santiago de Compostella, was the ancient Iria Flavia.—Ed.] * In one of the porticoes or
galleries belonging to Trajan's library, among the statues of famous writers and orators. Sidon. Apoll. lib.9, epist. 16, p. 284. Carm. 8, p. 350.
+ Luxuriose agere volens a senatoribus projectus est, is the concise expression of Gregory of Tours (1 . 2, c. 11, in tom, ii, p. 168). An old Chronicle in tom, ii, p. 649) mentions an indecent jest of Avitus, which seems more applicable to Rome than to Treves. 5 Sidonius (Panegyr.
Anthem. 302, &c.) praises the royal birth of Eicimer, the lawful heir, as he chooses to insinuate, both of the Gothic and Suevic kingdoms.
and he obeyed with reluctance an emperor in whose elevation he had not been consulted. His faithful and important services against the common enemy rendered him still more formidable ;* and after destroying, on the coast of Corsica, a fleet of Vandals, which consisted of sixty galleys, Bieimer returned in triumph with the appellation of the Deliverer of Italy. He chose that moment to signify to Avitus that his reign was at an end; and the feeble emperor, at a distance from his Gothic allies, was compelled, after a short and unavailing struggle, to abdicate the purple. By the clemency, however, or the contempt of Ricimer,f he was permitted to descend from the throne to the more desirable station of bishop of Placentia; but the resentment of the senate was still unsatisfied; and their inflexible severity pronounced the sentence of his death. He fled towards the Alps, with the humble hope, not of arming the Visigoths in his cause, but of securing his person and treasures in the sanctuary of Julian, one of the tutelar saints of Auvergne.J Disease, or the hand of the executioner, arrested him on the road; yet his remains were decently transported to Brivas or Brioude, in his native province, and he reposed at the feet of his holy patron.§ Avitus left only one daughter, the wife of Sidonius Apollinaris, who inherited the patrimony of his father-in-law; lamenting, at the same time, the disappointment of his public and private expectations. His resentment prompted him to join, or at least to countenance, the measures of a rebellious faction in Gaul; and the poet had contracted some guilt, which it
* See the Chronicle of Idatius. Jornandes (c. 44, p. 676) styles him, with some truth, virum egregium, et poone tune in Italia ad exercitum singularem. + Parcens innocentise Aviti, is
the compassionate but contemptuous language of Victor Tunnunensis (in Chron. apud Scaliger. Euseb.). In another place he calls him vir totius simplicitatis. This commendation is more humble, but it is more solid and sincere, than the praises of Sidonius.
J He suffered, as it is supposed, in the persecution of Diocletian. <Tillemont, Mem. EcclSs. tom, v, p. 279, 696.) Gregory of Tours, his peculiar votary, has dedicated to the glory of Julian the Martyr an entire book (de Gloria Martyrum, lib. 2, in Max. Biblioth. Patrum, tom, si, p. 861—871), in which he relates about fifty foolish miracles performed by his relies. § Gregory of Tours (lib. 2.
c. 11, p. 168) is concise, but correct, in the reign of his countryman. The words of Idatius, "caret imperio, caret et vita," seem to imply, that the death of Avitus was violent; but it must have been secret, since Evagrius (lib. 2, c. 7) could suppose that he died of the plague.
was incumbent on him to expiate, by a new tribute of flattery to the succeeding emperor.*
The successor of Avitus presents the welcome discovery of a great and heroic character, such as sometimes arise in a degenerate age, to vindicate the honour of the human species. The emperor Majorian has deserved the praises of his contemporaries, and of posterity; and these praises may be strongly expressed in the words of a judicious and disinterested historian: "That he was gentle to his subjects; that he was terrible to his enemies; and that he excelled in every virtue all his predecessors who had reigned over the Romans."f Such a testimony may justify at least the panegyric of Sidonius; and we may acquiesce in the assurance, that, although the obsequious orator would have flattered, with equal zeal, the most worthless of princes, the extraordinary merit of his object confined him, on this occasion, within the bounds of truth.J Majorian derived his name from his maternal grandfather, who, in the reign of the great Theodosius, had commanded the troops of the Illyrian frontier. He gave his daughter in marriage to the father of Majorian, a respectable officer, who administered the revenues of Gaul with skill and integrity; and generously preferred the friendship of iEtius to the tempting offers of an insidious court. His son, the future emperor, who was educated in the profession of arms, displayed, from his early youth, intrepid courage, premature wisdom, and
* After a modest appeal to the examples of his brethren, Virgil and Horace, Sidonius honestly confesses the debt, and promises payment.
Sic mihi diverso nuper sub Marte cadenti
Sidon. Apoll. carm. 4, p. 308.
+ The words of Procopius deserve to be transcribed; oiroc ydp 6 Mdwplvog Zvfnravrag roue iruirore 'Pa>/icu&>7' /3t/3a<n\suK6rac u7rcpaiQwv dperij irday; and afterwards, aviIp rd fikv ttc roue Vtttiroovc pkrpioc ytyovwg, ^oGtpoc 11 rd ec roic iroXt/uowc: (de Bell. Vandal. lib. 1, c. 7, p. 194) a concise but comprehensive definition of royal virtue.
X The panegyric was pronounced at Lyons before the end of the year 458, while the emperor was still consul. It has more art than genius, and more labour than art. The ornaments are false or trivial, the expression is feeble and prolix; and Sidonius wants the skill to exhibit the principal figure in a stroDg and distinct light . The private life of Majorian occupies about twa hundred lines, 107—305.