« ForrigeFortsett »
contracted tc fifty; *• and this narrow distance had suggested to Pyrrhus and Pompey the sublime or extravagant idea of a bridge. Before the general embarkation, the Norman duke despatched Bohemoud with fifteen galleys to seize or threaten the Isle of Corfu, to survey the opposite coast, and to secure a harbor in the neighborhood of Vallona for the landing of the troops. They passed and landed without perceiving an enemy; and this successful experiment displayed the neglect and decay of the naval power of the Greeks. The islands of Epirus and the maritime towns were subdued by the arms or the natne of Robert, who led his fleet and army from Corfu (I use the modern appellation) to the siege of Durazzo. That city, the western key of the empire, was guarded by ancient renown, and recent fortifications, by George Palaeologus, a patrician, victorious in the Oriental wars, and a numerous garrison of Albanians and Macedonians, who, in every age, have maintained the character of soldiers. In the prosecution of his enterprise, the courage of Guiscard was assailed by every form of danger and mischance. In the most propitious season of the year, as his fleet passed along the coast, a storm of wind and snow unexpectedly arose: the Adriatic was swelled by the raging blast of the south, and a new shipwreck confirmed the old infamy of the Acroceraunian rocks." The sails, the masts, and the oars, were shattered or torn away; the sea and shore were covered with the fragments of vessels, with arms and dead bodies; and the greatest part of the provisions were either drowned or damaged. The ducal galley was laboriously rescued from the waves, and Robert halted seven days on the adjacent cape, to collect the relics of his loss, and revive the drooping spirits of his soldiers. The Normans were no longer the bold and experienced mariners who
which is strangely doubled by Strabo (L vi. p. 433) and Pliny, (Hist Natur. iii. 16.)
•• Pliny (Hist. Nat. iii. 6, 16) allows quinquaginta millia for this brevissimus cursus, and agrees with the real distance from Otr&nto to La Vallona, or Auion, (D'Anville, Analyse de sa Carte de9 Cotes de la Grace, <fcc, p. 3—6.) Hermolaus Barbaras, who substitutes centum, (Harduin, Not. lxvi. in Plin. 1. iii.,) might have been corrected by eveiy Venetian pilot who had sailed out of the gulf.
** Infamen scopulos Acroceraunia, Horat. carm. i. S. The praecipi tem Africum decertanteni Aquilonibus, et rabiem Noti and the mon»tra natantia of ihe Adriatic, are somewhat enlarged; but Horac« trembling for the life of Virgil, is an interesting moment in the historr of poetry and friendship.
had explored the ocean from Greenland to Mount Atlas, and who smiled at the petty dangers of the Mediterranean. They had wept during the tempest; they were alarmed by the hostile approach of the Venetians, who had been solicited by the prayers and promises of the Byzantine court. The first day's action was not disadvantageous to Bohemond, a beardless youth,** who led the naval powers of his father. All night the galleys of the republic lay on their anchors in the form .if a crescent; and the victory of the second day was decided fT the dexterity of their evolutions, the station of their archers, the weight of their javelins, and the borrowed aid of the Greek fire. The Apulian and Ragusian vessels fled to the shore, several were cut from their cables, and dragged away by the conqueror; and a sally from the town carried slaughter and dismay to the tents of the Norman duke. A seasonable relief was poured into Durazzo, and as soon as the besiegers had lost the command of the sea, the islands and maritime towns withdrew from the camp the supply of tribute and provision. That camp was soon afflicted with a pestilential disease; five hundred knights perished by an ingloh 'US death ; and the list of burials (if all could obtain a decent b irial) amounted to ten thousand persons. Under these calamities, the mind of Guiscard alone was firm and invincible; *>A while he collected new forces from Apulia and Sicily, he biOtered, or scaled, or sapped, the walls of Durazzo. But his it mstry and valor were encountered by equal valor and more p rfect industry. A movable turret, of a size and capacity to > ntain five hundred soldiers, had been rolled forwards to the f«ot of the rampart: but the descent of the door or drawLidge was checked by an enormous beam, and the wooden i«iucture was constantly consumed by artificial flames.
While the Roman empire was attacked by the Turks in the East, and the Normans in the West, the aged successor of Michael surrendered the sceptre to the hands of Alexius, an illustrious captain, and the founder of the Comnenian dynasty. The princess Anne, his daughter and historian, observes, in her affected style, that even Hercules was un equal to a double combat; and, on this principle, she ap
Twv it IK rov -rtwywva Iivtov itpv0piaiivro)i; (Alexias, 1. IV. p. lOfl.j
Yet the Normals shaved, and the Venetians wore, their beards: they must have derided the no beard of Bohemond ; a harsh interpretation (Dncange, N <t, ad Alexiad. p. 283.)
p.oves ;t hasty peice with the Turks, which allcwed het father to undertake in person the relief of Durazzo. On his accession, Alexius found the camp without soldiers, and the
treasury without money; yet such were the vigor and activity of his measures, that in six months he assembled an anny of seventy thousand men," and performed a march of Ave hundred miles. His troops were levied in Europe and Asia, from Peloponnesus to the Black Sea; his majesty was displayed in the silver arms and rich trappings of the companies of Horse-guards; and the emperor was attended by a train of nobles and princes, some of whom, in rapid succession, had been clothed with the purple, and were indulged >y the lenity of the times in a life of affluence and dignity. Their youthful ardor might animate the multitude; but their iove of pleasure and contempt of subordination were pregnant with disorder and mischief; and their importunate clamors for speedy and decisive action disconcerted the prudence of Alexius, who might have surrounded and starved the besieging army. The enumeration of provinces recalls a sad comparison of the past and present limits of the Roman world: the raw levies were drawn together in haste and terror; and the garrisons of Anatolia, or Asia Minor, had been purchased by the evacuation of the cities which were immediately occupied by the Turks. The strength of the Greek army consisted in the Varangians, the Scandinavian guards, whose numbers were recently augmented by a colony of exiles and volunteers from the British Island of Thule. Under the yoke of the Norman conqueror, the Danes and English were oppressed and united; a baud of adventurous youths resolved to desert a land of slavery; the sea was open to their escape and, in their long pilgrimage, they visited every coast tha afforded any hope of liberty and revenge. They were en tertained in the service of the Greek emperor; and their
M Muratori (Annali d' Italia, torn. ix. p. 136, 137) observes, that tome authors (Petrus Diacon. Chron. Casinen. 1. iii. c. 49) compose the Greek army of 170,000 men, but that the hundred may be struck off, an", that Malaterra reckons only 70,000; a slight inattention. The passage to which he alludes is in the Chronicle of Lupus Protospata, (Script. Ital. torn. v. p. 45.) Malaterra (1. iv. c. 27) speaks in high, but indefinite terms of the emperor, cum copiis innumerabilibus: llk« the Apulian poet, (1. iv. p. 272:)—
More locustarum montea at p.ana teguntut.
first static r. was in a new city on the Asiatic shore: but Alexius soon recalled them to the defence of his person and palace; and bequeathed to his successors the inheritance of their faith and valor.70 The name of a Norman invadei revived the memory of their wrongs: they marched with alacrity against the national foe, and panted to regain in Epirus the glory which they had lost in the battle of Has tings. The Varangians were supported by some companies )f Franks or Latins; and the rebels, who had fled to Constat! iinople from the tyranny of Guiscard, were eager to signalize their zeal and gratify their revenge. In this emergency, tht emperor had not disdained the impure aid of the Paulicians or Manichueans of Thrace and Bulgaria; and these her etics united with the patience of martyrdom the spirit and discipline of active valor.71 The treaty with the sultan had procured a supply of some thousand Turks; and the arrows of the Scythian horse were opposed to the lances of the Norman cavalry. On the report and distant prospect of these formidable numbers, Robert assembled a council of his principal officers. "You behold," said he, "your danger: it is urgent and inevitable. The hills are covered with arms and standards; and the emperor of the Greeks is accus tomed to wars and triumphs. Obedience and union are oui only safety; and I am ready to yield the command to a more worthy leader.*' The vote and acclamation even of his se cret enemies, assured him, in that perilous moment, of their esteem and confidence; and the duke thus continued: "Let us trust in the rewards of victory, and deprive cowardice of the means of escape. Let us burn our vessels and our baggage, and give battle on this spot, as if it were the place of our nativity and our burial." The resolution was unanimously approved; and, without confining himself to his lines, Guiscard awaited in battle-array the nearer approach of the enemy. His rear was covered by a small river; his right wing extended to the sea; his left to the hills: nor was he
*■ See William of Malmsbury, de Gestis Anglorum, L ii. p. 92 Alexius fidem Anglorum suspiciens praecipuis familiaritatibus suis eo» spplicabat, amoretn eorum filio transcribens. Odericus Vitalis (Hist Ecclos. 1. iv. p. 508,1. vii. p. 641) relates their emigration from England, and their service in Greece.
n See the Apulian, (1. i. p 256.) The character and the story o/ these Manich»ars has been the subject of the livtb chapter.
conscious, perhaps, that on the same ground Cassai and Pom pey had formerly disputed the empire of the world." Against the advice of his wisest captains, Alexius resolved
to risk the event of a general action, and exhorted the garrison of Durazzo to assist their own deliverance by a well-timed sally horn the town. He marched in two columns to surprise the Normans before daybresik on two difffc/ent sides: his light cavalry was scattered over the plain; the archers formed the econd line; and the Varangians claimed the honors of the
vanguard. In the first onset, the battle-axes of the strangers' made a deep and bloody impression on the army of Guiscard, which was now reduced to fifteen thousand men. The Lombards and Calabrians ignominiously turned their backs; they fled towards the river and the sea; but the bridge had been broken down to check the sally of the garrison, and the coast was lined with the Venetian galleys, who played their engines among the disorderly throng. On the verge of ruin, they were saved by the spirit and conduct of their chiefs. Gaita, the wife of Robert, is painted by the Greeks as a warlike Ama zon, a second Pallas; less skilful in arts, but not less terrible in arms, than the Athenian goddess:" though wounded by an arrow, she stood her ground, and strove, by her exhortation and example, to rally the flying troops '* Her female voice was seconded by the more powerful .'oice and arm of the Norman duke, as calm in action as he was magnanimous in council: "Whither," he cried aloud, " whither do ye fly?
*J Sec the simple and masterly narrative of Caesar himself, (Comment, de Bell. Civil, iii. 41—lb.) It is a pity that Quintus Icilius (M. Guichard) did not live to analyze these operations, as he has done the campaigns of Africa and Spain.
11 IluXXa; IXXq ndv jit) 'Aftfrq, which is very properly translated by the President Cousin, (Hist, de Constantinople, torn. iv. p. 131, in ! 2mo.,) qui combattoit comme une Pallas, quoiqu'elle ne fut pas aussi •avante que celle d'Athenes. The Grecian goddess was composed of two discordant characters, of Neith, the workwoman of Sais in Egypt and of a virgin Amazon of the Tritonian lake in Libya, (Banier, Mythologie, torn. iv. p. 1—31, in 12mo.)
74 Anna Comnena (1. iv. p. 116) admires, with some degree of te:> ror, her masculine virtues. They were more familiar to the Latins aj\d though the Apulian (1. iv. p. 273) mentions her presence ami hv *ound, he represents her as far less intrepid.
Uxor in hoc bello Roberti forte sagitta
Th* last is an unlucky word for a female prisoner.