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MAJOEIAK PBEPABES TO [CH. XXXVI.
such illegal and scandalous license; and threatened to chastise the criminal obedience of their subordinate officers by a severe whipping, and the amputation of both their hands. In the last instance, the legislator might seem to forget the proportion of guilt and punishment; but his zeal arose from a generous principle, and Majorian was anxious to protect the monuments of those ages in which he would have desired, and deserved to live. The emperor conceived, that it was his interest to increase the number of his subjects; that it was his duty to guard the purity of the marriage-bed: but the means which he employed to accomplish these salutary purposes are of an ambiguous, and perhaps exceptionable kind. The pious maids who consecrated their virginity to Christ, were restrained from taking the veil till they had reached their fortieth year. "Widows under that age were compelled to form a second alliance within the term of five years, by the forfeiture of half their wealth to their nearest relations, or to the state. Unequal marriages were condemned or annulled. The punishment of confiscation and exile was deemed so inadequate to tho guilt of adultery, that if the criminal returned to Italy, he might, by the express declaratian of Majorian, be slain with impunity.* While the emperor Majorian assiduously laboured to restore the happiness and virtue of the Romans, he encountered the arms of Genseric, from his character and situation, their most formidable enemy. A fleet of Vandals and Moors landed at the mouth of the Liris or Garigliano: but the imperial troops surprised and attacked the disorderly barbarians, who were encumbered with the spoils of Campania; they were chased with slaughter to their ships, and their leader, the king's brother-in-law, was found in the number of the slain.f Such vigilance might announce the character of the new reign; but the strictest vigilance and the most numerous forces were insufficient to protect tho long-extended coast of Italy from the depredations of a naval war. The public opinion had imposed a nobler and
true authors of the mischief.—Ed.] * The emperor chicles
the lenity of Rogatian, consular of Tuscany, in a style of acrimonious reproof, which sounds almost like personal resentment. (Novell, tit. 9, p. 37.) The law of Majorian, which punished obstinate widows, was soon after repealed by his successor Severus. (Novell. Sever, tit. 1 p. 87.) + Sidon. Panegyr. Majorian. 385—440.
more arduous task on tho genius of Majorian. Rome expected from him alone the restitution of Africa; and the design which he formed of attacking the Vandals in their new settlements, was the result of bold and judicious policy. If the intrepid emperor could have infused his own spirit into the youth of Italy; if he could have revived in the field of Mars the manly exercises in which lie had always surpassed his equals; he might have marched against Genseric at the head of a Soman army. Such a reformation of national manners might be embraced by the rising generation; but it is the misfortune of those princes who laboriously sustain a declining monarchy, that, to obtain some immediate advantage or to avert some impending danger, they are forced to countenance, and even to multiply the most pernicious abuses. Majorian, like the weakest of his predecessors, was reduced to the disgraceful expedient of substituting barbarian auxiliaries in the place of his unwarlike subjects: and his superior abilities could only be displayed in the vigour and dexterity with which he wielded a dangerous instrument, so apt to recoil on the hand that used it. Besides the confederates who were already engaged in the service of the empire, the fame of his liberality and valour attracted the nations of the Danube, the Borysthenes, and perhaps of the Tanais. Many thousands of the bravest subjects of Attila, the Gepidm, the Ostrogoths, the Rugians, the Burgundians, the Suevi, the Alani, assembled in the plains of Liguria; and their formidable strength "was balanced by their mutual animosities.* They passed the Alps in a severe winter. The emperor led the way on foot, and in complete armour; sounding, with his long staff, the depth of the ice or snow, and encouraging the , Scythians, who complained of the extreme cold, by the' cheerful assurance, that they should be satisfied with the heat of Africa. The citizens of Lyons had presumed to shut their gates: they soon implored and experienced the clemency of Majorian. He vanquished Theodoric in the field; and admitted to his friendship and alliance a king whom he had found not unworthy of his arms. The beneficial though precarious reunion of the greatest part of
* The review of tho army, and passage of the Alps, contain the most tolerable passages of the Panegyric. (470—552.) M. de Bunt (Hist, des Peuples, Sc. tom, viii, p. 49—55) is a more satisfactory commentator than either Savaron or Sirmond.
VOL. 1Y. 1
Gaul and Spain, was the effect of persuasion as well as of force ;* and the independent Bagaudae, who had escaped or resisted the oppression of former reigns, were disposed to confide in the virtues of Majorian. His camp was filled with barbarian allies; his throne was supported by the zeal of an affectionate people; but the emperor had foreseen, that it was impossible, without a maritime power, to achieve the conquest of Africa. In the first Punic war, the republic had exerted such incredible diligence, that, within sixty days after the first stroke of the axe had been given in the forest, a fleet of one hundred and sixty galleys proudly rode at anchor in the sea.f Under circumstances much less favourable, Majorian equalled the spirit and perseverance of the ancient Romans. The woods of the Apennine were felled; the arsenals and manufactures of Ravenna and Misenum were restored; Italy and Gaul vied with each other in liberal contributions to the public service; and the imperial navy of three hundred large galleys, with an adequate proportion of transports and smaller vessels, was collected in the secure and capacious harbour of Carthagena in Spain.J The intrepid countenance of Majorian animated his troops with a confidence of victory; and if we might credit the historian Procopius, his courage sometimes hurried him beyond the bounds of prudence. Anxious to explore, with his own eyes, the state of the Vandals, he ventured, after disguising the colour of his hair, to visit Carthage in the character of his own ambassador: and Genseric was afterwards mortified by the dis
* Td fiiv oVXoic, Tu dt X6yoig, is the just and forcible distinction of Priscus (Excerpt. Legat. p. 42), in a short fragment which throws much light on the history of Majorian. Jornandes has suppressed the defeat and alliance of the Visigoths, which were solemnly proclaimed in Gallicia; and are marked in the Chronicle of Idatius.
+ Floras, lib. 2, c. 2. He amuses himself with the poetical fancy, that the trees had been transformed into ships; and indeed the whole transaction, as it is related in the first book of Polybius, deviates too much from the probable course of human events.
X Interea duplici texis dum littore classem
'Sylva tibi, &c.
Sidon. Panegyr. Majorian. 441—461.
The number of ships, which Priscus fixes at three hundred, is magnified by an indefinite comparison with ths fleets of Agamemnon, Xerxes, and Augustus.
covery, that he had entertained and dismissed the emperor of the Romans. Such an anecdote may be rejected as an improbable fiction; but it is a fiction which would not ha?e been imagined unless in the life of a hero.*
Without the help of a personal interview, Genseric was sufficiently acquainted with the genius and designs of bis adversary. He practised his customary arts of fraud and delay ; but he practised them without success. His applications for peace became each hour more submissive, and perhaps more sincere; but the inflexible Majorian had adopted the ancient maxim, that Rome could not be safe, as long as Carthage existed in a hostile state. The king of the Vandals distrusted the valour of his native subjects, who were enervated by the luxury of the south ;t he suspected the fidelity of the vanquished people, who abhorred him as an Arian tyrant; and the desperate measure which he executed, of reducing Mauritania into a desert,J could not defeat the operations of the lloman emperor, who was at liberty to land his troops on any part of the African coast. But Genseric was saved from impending and inevitable ruin, by the treachery of some powerful subjects, envious or apprehensive of their master's success. Guided by their secret intelligence, he surprised the unguarded fleet in the bay of Carthagena: many of the ships were sunk, or taken, or burnt; and the preparations of three years were destroyed in a single day.§ After this event, the behaviour of the two antagonists shewed them superior
* Procopius de Bell. Vandal. 1. 1, c . 8, p. 194. When Genseric conducted his unknown guest into the arsenal of Carthage, the arms clashed of their own accord. Majorian had tinged his yellow locks with a black colour.
+ Spoliisque potitus
Immensis, robur luxu jam perdidit omne,
He afterwards applies to Genseric, unjustly as it should seem, the vices of his subjects. J He burnt the Tillages, and poisoned
the springs. (Priscus, p. 42). Dubos (Hist. Critique, tom, i, p. 475) observes, that the magazines, which the Moors buried in the earth, might escape his destructive search. Two or three hundred pits are sometimes dug in the same place; and each pit contains at least four hundred bushels of corn. Shaw's Travels, p. 139.
§ Idatius, who was safe in Gallicia from the power of Ricimer, boldly and honestly declares, Vandali per proditorea admoniti, &c . He dissembles, however, the name of the traitor.
to their foriune. The "Vandal, instead of being elated by this accidental victory, immediately renewed hia solicitations for peace. The emperor of the West, who was capable of forming great designs, and of supporting heavy disappointments, consented to a treaty, or rather to a suspension of arms; in the full assurance that before he could restore his navy, he should be supplied with provocations to justify a second war. Majorian returned to Italy, to prosecute his labours for the public happiness; and as he was conscious of his own integrity, he might long remain ignorant of the dark conspiracy which threatened his throne and his life. The recent misfortune of Carthagena sullied the glory which had dazzled the eyes of the multitude: almost every description of civil and military officers were exasperated against the reformer, since they all derived some advantage from the abuses which he endeavoured to suppress; and the patrician Ricimer impelled the inconstant passions of the barbarians against a prince whom he esteemed and hated. The virtues of Majorian could not protect him from the impetuous sedition which broke out in the camp near Tortona, at the foot of the Alps. He was compelled to abdicate the imperial purple; five days after his abdication, it was reported that he died of a dysentery,* and the humble tomb which covered his remains, was consecrated by the respect and gratitude of succeeding generations.f The private character of Majorian inspired love and respect. Malicious calumny and satire excited his indignation, or, if he himself were the object, his contempt; but he protected the freedom of wit, and in the hours which, the emperor gave to the familiar society of his friends, he could indulge his taste for pleasantry, without degrading the majesty of his rank. J
* Procop. de Bell. Vandal, I. 1, c. 8, p. 194. The testimony of Idatius is fair and impartial:—" Majorianum de Galliis Romam redeuntem, et Romano imperio vel nomini res necessarias ordinantem; Richimer livore peroitus, et invidormn consilio fultus, fraude interfieit circumventum." Some read Suevorum, and I am unwilling to efface either of the words, as they express the different accomplices who united in the conspiracy against Majorian. + See the
Epigrams of Ennodius, No. 135, inter Sirmond. Opera, tom, i, p. 1903. It is flat and obscure; but Ennodius was made bishop of Pavia fifty years after the death of Majorian, and his praise deserves credit and regard. J Sidonius eives a tedious account 1, epist. 11,