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A.D. 249. REIGN OF DECIUS. 619
IERUPTIONS OF THE BARBARIANS. FROM DECIUS TO DIOCLETIAN. A.D. 249 TO A.D. 284.
"A multitude, like winch the populous North
KEIQN OP DECIUS—MISERY OP THE ROMAN WORLD—PERSECUTION 0? TUE CHRISTIANS— ORIGIN OF THE GOTHS—THEIR MIGRATION TO SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE— OSTROGOTHS AND VISIGOTHS—THEIR CONNECTION WITH OTHER TRIBES—THEY CROSS TUB DANUBE—GOTHIC CAMPAIGN AND DEATH OF DECIUS— 0ALLU3 TRBBONIANUS— ASMILIANUS — VALERIAN AND GALL1BSUS— ORIGIN OF THE FRANKS—THEY INVADE GAUL, SPAIN, AND AFRICA—THE ALBMANNI INVADE ITALY AND ARE DEFEATED BY AtJRELIAN—PERSIAN SUCCESSES ON THE EUPHRATES—VALERIAN MADE PRISONER BY SAPOR—AN IMPERIAL HORSE-BLOCK AND STUFFED SKIN—SAPOR SAGES ANTI0C1I AND OESAREA—THE SARACEN KINGDOM OF PALMYRA— ODENATHUS DEFEATS SAPOR— NAVAL INCURSIONS OF THE GOTnS —THEY TAKE TREBIZOND, RAVAGE BITHTNIA, SACK OYZICUS, PASS THE HELLESPONT, AND RAVAGE GREECE—THEIR RETREAT—BURNING OF TnP. TEMPLE OP EPnESUS—CONDUCT OF THE GOTnS AT ATHENS—THE THIRTY TYRANTS—ODENATHUS AND ZENOBIA IN THE EAST—POS
TUMUS AND TETRICUS IN THE WEST MACRIANUS AND AUREOLUS — DEATH OF
OALLIENUS—PUBLIC CALAMITIES—CLAUDIUS II. 00TB1CUS DEFEATS THE ALEMANNI AND GOTHS— AURELIAN EMPEROR—DEFEATS THE MARCOMANNI AND ALEMANNI—NEW WALLS OF ROME—AURELIAN DEFEATS ZENOBIA—DEATH OF LONOINUS—AURELIAN PUTS DOWN TETRICUS IN GAUL — HIS TRIUMPH AND DEATH— TACITUS—PROBUS DEFEATS THE h.KRBARIAX3— CA11r>-, CAR1NUS, AND NUMERIANUS— SARMATIAN AND PERSIAN WARS—ACCESSION OF DIOCLETIAN.
"Fkom the great Secular Games celebrated by Philip, to the death of the emperor Gallienus, there elapsed twenty years of shame and misfortune. During that calamitous period, every instant of time was marked, every province of the Roman world was afflicted, by barbarous invaders and military tyrants, and the ruined empire seemed to approach the last and fatal moment of its dissolution." From this summary by our great historian, it might seem that the period could be of little interest; but in truth it carries us beyond the boundaries of the empire, to sec how new nations are approaching to fill their place in the History of the World. The emperor Decius * is lauded by the pagan writers for his firm and wise administration, and execrated by the Christians as the author of the Seventh great Persecution. One of its victims was Fabianus, bishop of Rome, and the emperor's motive of jealousy at tho increasing importance of the church may be traced in the saying, that he would rather have a second emperor by his side, than have a bishop at Rome. But he had only enjoyed a few months of quiet on his new throne, when he was called to the Danube to meet an invasion of the Goths (a.d. 250). "This," as Gibbon observes, "is the first considerable occasion in which history mentions that great people, who afterwards broke the Roman power, sacked the Capitol, and reigned in Gaul, Spain and Italy. So memorable is the part they acted in the subversion of the Western Empire, that the name of Goths is frequently but improperly used as a general appellation of rude and warlike barbarism."*
* His full name was C. Messius Quintns Trajanus Decius. He was a Dative of Ulyricuin, and had no real connection with the Oens Decia.
The origin of this celebrated people is involved in obscurity; and their apparent good fortune in having an historian of their own has only had the effect of giving a deceitful appearance of authority to the very doubtful traditions of their early history, t From the testimony of Tacitus and other writers, and from the decisive evidence of the language, as preserved in the Gothic translation of the Bible made by the bishop Ulphilas in the fourth century, wc learn that the Got/is were a German people, and neither Slavonic, like some of their immediate neighbours even within the Vistula, nor Scandinavian, like the people of the peninsula of Norway and Sweden.}: Their native name, which, we learn from Ulphilas, was Gutthiuda, assumes, in the Greek and Roman writers, the various forms of Gotones or Gotkones or Guttones, Gut<e, and, last of all Gothl As early as the time of Alexander the Great,
* One most unfortunate misapplication of the name is its use to describe that magnificent style of architecture, which the native genius of the northern conquerors developed out of the Byzantine, and which, as far as our own island is concerned, attained such perfection between the tenth and fifteen centuries, as justly to claim the name of English. Another, and not unobjectionable use of the word in a vride generic sense, is that made of it in comparative grammar, to designate all the dialects both of Low and High German, in contradistinction to the Scandinavian languages.
+ The work referred to is the De Gelarum (i.e., Gothorum) Origins et Rebus Gcstis of Jornandes, a Goth, and secretary to the king of tho Alani, in the time of Justinian. He became a Christian, and held a bishopric in Italy. His work was founded on the lost History of Uu Goths by Cassiodorus, a Roman, who was the chief minister of Theodoric the Great, in the first half of the sixth century.
J The tradition of the Ostrogoths, preserved by Jornandes, and adopted by Gibbon, traces the origin of the people from the peninsula of Scandia, where Ptolemy places a tribe of Gulu; and where their former existence is still attested by the Swedish province of Gothland, as well as by several other names. These facts can only bo accounted for by an early immigration from the opposite shores of the Baltic The Goths of Sweden remained in tho peninsula, after the southern immigration of the main body, ana the temple of Upsala became the chief seat of their worship of Odin, Thor, and Freya, tho deities of War, of Thunder, and of Generation.
A.D. 250.] ORIGIN OF THE GOTHS. 621
Pytheas, the navigator of Marseilles, found Gothones on the southern coast of the Baltic, in the neighbourhood of the Gulf of Danzig; and about the Christian era, the chief abodes of the people were on this coast, and along the left bank of the Vistula. By the beginning of the third century, they had made a great migration from the shores of Prussia on the Baltic, to the steppes of the Ukraine north of the Black Sea, and had begun to press forward into Dacia. The nation was now divided into the two great branches of the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths* that is, the Eastern and the Western Goths; the former inhabiting the sandy steppes in the East, the latter the more fertile and woody countries in the west. The Visigoths now found themselves in the country formerly occupied by the Thracian Getce; and this curious resemblance of the names has caused much confusion between the two peoples, f Nay more, the Goths have been confounded with the Sarmatians (the Scythians of the older Greek writers), whose country in the south of Russia they now occupied. "Those two great portions of human kind"—observes Gibbon—" were principally distinguished by fixed huts or moveable tents, by a close dress or flowing garments, by the marriage of one or of several wives, by a military force consisting, for the most part, either of infantry or cavalry; and, above all, by the uses of the Teutonic or of the Slavonian language." Still it must not be forgotten that the Goths, in their march across the wide plains and steppes between the Baltic and the Black Seas, the border region of the Teutonic and Slavonian nations, would naturally gather into their vast moving mass other tribes of various origin, from the Vandals,^ who were their neighbours in the north, to the Sarmatians and Alani in the south, whom we have already seen united with the German Marchmen (Marcomanni) in their wars with Trajan. But, whatever other elements helped to swell the mighty wave that now buret upon the Danubian frontier, it derived its prevalent complexion and its name from the predominance of the Goths.
* Also called Austrogothi and Wesegothi. The Gepidcc, who are usually considered a third branch of the nation, followed the southward movement later.
+ Dr. Latham regards the resemblance as no mere accident, and maintains that the name of Get or Goth was the general name given by the Slavonic nations to tho Lithuanians, to which people ho considers both the Goths at tho mouth of the Vistula, and tho QeUc on tho Danube, to have belonged. He believes that the Goths of history were a German people, who migrated to the Danube, and first received the name of Goths when"they settled in the country of the Getse.
J It is still disputed whether the Vandals were a Teutonic or a Slavonic people. Their name is in favour of the latter view, as the Germans have always called the Slavonians Wends or Vends; and the authority of Tacitus is not decisive, as ho would be apt to confound with tho Germans any tribes of other race within their territory.
Dacia, whose fields cultivated by the Roman colonists offered a tempting prize, had been overrun during the reign of Philip; and such was the disorder of the Roman soldiers, that many took service under the barbarians. The Danube was crossed without resistance, and the colonies of Trajan in Moesia were assailed. The bribe by which the people of Marcianopolis purchased the retreat of the barbarians proved but a retaining fee to ensure their return; and in A.D. 250, an immense host of Goths, under the king Cniva, crossed the Danube, and laid siege to Nicopolis in Lower Moesia. On the approach of Decius, they retired to Philippopolis, at the southern foot of Mount Haemus in Thrace, a foundation of the great Macedonian, which now became the scene of great events. Decius, incautiously pursuing them, was overwhelmed by a sudden countermarch of the Goths. The city was taken by storm, with the slaughter of 100,000 inhabitants. But the long siege had consumed the flower of the Gothic host, and exhausted the resources of the country. Decius, with his army recruited, barred their return across Mount Hasmus, and refused their offer to restore their prisoners and booty as the price of a safe retreat, believing their destruction to be sure. The armies met at a place called Abrutum or Forum Trebonii. The first and second lines of the Goths were broken through; but the third was posted behind a morass, which Decius rashly attempted at once to force. The defence was easy and triumphant The Roman army perished in the marsh: and the body of the emperor was never found. His son, Herennius Etruscus, whom he had named Csesar, had fallen early in the battle (Nov. A.d. 251). The younger son Hostilianus was named as Augustus, in conjunction with Gallus TheboniaKus, one of the generals of Decius, who returned to Rome, after purchasing the retreat of the Goths by a disgraceful peace, and the promise of an annual bribe. The policy even of Hadrian and the Antonines had staved off barbarian invasion by bribes; but this was the first time that Rome had bound herself to a regular payment as the price of peace. The public sense of humiliation was embittered by the sufferings of a terrible pestilence, to which Hostilianus was one of the first victims, and which scourged the whole empire for fifteen years; and when the vigour of -<emilianus, the governor of Pannonia and Moesia, proved that the Ganls were not invincible, he was at once saluted emperor on the field of his
A.D. 254.] VALERIAN AND GALL1ENUS. 623
victory. Gallus, marching to meet liim as far as Spoleto, was put to death, with his son Volusianus, by his own soldiers, who passed over to JCmilianus. The new emperor was still (May, A.d. 253) at Spoleto, exchanging compliments with the Senate, and promising to chase away the barbarians both of the East and North, when he was overtaken by the same fate as Gallus. Publius Licinius Valerianus, a noble of such distinction that he had been called to the censorship by the unanimous voice of the Senate, when Decius made the attempt to revive the office,* had been sent by Gallus to bring the legions of Gaul and Germany to his aid. When the news of his master's murder met Valerian in lthaetia, his troops proclaimed him emperor, and he no sooner appeared at Spoleto, than iEmilianus was murdered by his own soldiers (Aug. A.D. 253).
Valerian's first act was to associate his son Gaixienus in the government; and the vices of an effeminate youth went far to neutralize the tried virtue of the father's threescore years, at a time when the falling empire demanded all the energy of youth combined with all the wisdom of age. At the very time when the new and vigorous power of the Persians overran Syria, the northern barbarians, banded in confederacies under names before unheard but destined to lasting fame, broke in upon the empire across the Rhine and Danube, while the Goths opened a new path to its destruction over the waters of the JSgsean Sea. The many names of German tribes, which furnish us with such intricate problems in the pages of Tacitus, are now replaced by the two great leagues of the Franci (Franks) and the Alemanni, the Freemen and the All-men, the former in the north, the latter in the south; names which are still preserved as those of France and Germany, f
The Franks, who are supposed to have assumed the name as a proud contrast to the subject and Romanized Germans of the Tithed Lands,$ embraced those tribes on the Lower Rhine and Weser, who had long since been famed for their resistance to the arms of Rome,—the Sigambri, Bructeri, Chatti, and others—and may be regarded as successors to the ancient league of the Cherusci. Under their new name, they finally burst the barrier of the Rhine, though the time was still distant when they were to give their name to France. Gallienus, sent into Gaul to oppose them, displayed the luxury of his court at Treves, while his able general, M. Cassianus Latinius Postumus, gained successes, which
* This was during the interval occupied by tho siege of Phil ippopolis.