the) might be secure as hostages, and useful at, soldiers.81 On the frequent rebellions of the Quadi and Marcomanni, the irritated emperor resolved to reduce their country into tho form of a province* His designs were disappointed by death. This formidable league, however, the only one that appears iu the two first centuries of the Imperial history, was entirely dissipated, without leaving any traces behind in Germany.

In the course of this introductory chapter, we have confined ourselves to the general outlines of the manners of Germany, without attempting to describe or to distinguish the various tribes which filled that great country in the time of Caesar, of Tacitus, or of Ptolemy. As the ancient, or as new tribes successively present themselves in the series of this history, we shall concisely mention their origin, their situation, and their particular character. Modern nations are fixed and permanent societies, connected among themselves by laws and government, bound to their native soil by arts and agriculture. The German tribes were voluntary and fluctuating associations of soldiers, almost of savages. The same territory often changed its inhabitants in the tide of conquest and emigration. The same communities, uniting in a plan of defence or invasion, bestowed a new title on their new confederacy. The dissolution of an ancient confederacy restored to the independent tribes their peculiar but long-forgotten appellation. A victorious slate often communicated its own name to a vanquished people. Sometimes crowds of volunteers flocked from all parts to the standard of a favorite leader; his camp became their country, and some circumstance of the enterprise soon gave a common denomination to the mixed multitude. The distinctions of the ferocious- invaders were perpetually varied by themselves, and confounded by the astonished subjects of the Roman empire.88

Wars, and the administration of public affairs, are the principal subjects of history; but the number of persons interested in these busy scenes is very different, according to the different condition of mankind. In great monarchies, millions of obedient subjects pursue their useful occupations in peace and obscurity. The attention of the writer, as well as of the

94 Dion, 1 . lxxi. and lxxii.

m See an excellent dissertation on the origin and migrations of nations, in the Memoires de 1'Academic des Inscriptions, torn. xviii. p. 48—71. It is seldom that the antiquarian and the philoeophor am so happily blended.

VOL. I. 24

reader, is solely confined to a court, a capital, a regular army and the districts which happen to be the occasional scene of military operations. But a state of freedom and barbarism, the season of civil commotions, or the situation of petty republics,87 raises almost every member of the community into action, and consequently into notice. The irregular divisions, and the restless motions, of the people of Germany, dazzle our imagination, and seem to multiply their numbers. The profuse enumeration of kings and warriors, of armies and nations, inclines us to forget that the same'objects are continually repeated under a variety of appellations, and that the most splendid appellations have been frequently lavished on the most inconsiderable objects. •

87 Should we suspect that Athens contained only 21,000 citizen*, and Sparta no more than 39,000? See Hume and Wallace on the number of mankind in ancient and modem times.*

• This number, though too positively stated, is probably not far wrong, as an average estimate. On the subject of Athenian population, see St Croix, Acad, des Inscrip. xlviii. Boeckh, Pv blio Economy of Athens, L i7. Eng. Trans. Fynes Clinton, Fasti Hellerici, vo1. i. p. 381. The latter author estimates the citisens of Sparta at 33,'00. — M





From 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. The confusion of the times, and the scarcity of authentic memorials, oppose equal difficulties to the historian, who attempts to preserve a clear and unbroken thread of narration. Surrounded with imperfect fragments, always concise, often obscure, and sometimes contradictory, he is reduced to collect, to compare, and to conjecture: and though he ought never to place his conjectures in the rank of facts, yet the knowledge of human nature, and of the sure operation of its fierce and unrestrained passions, might, on some occasions, supply the want of his tor ical materials.

There is not, for instance, any difficulty in conceiving, that the successive murders of so many emperors had loosened all the ties of allegiance between the prince and people; that all the generals of Philip were disposed to imitate the example of their master; and that the caprice of armies, long since haoituated to frequent and violent revolutions, might every da_ raise to the throne the most obscure of their fellow-soldiers. History can only add, that the rebellion against the emperor Philip broke out in the summer of the year two hundred and forty-nine, among the legions of Mcesia; and that a subaltern officer,1 named Marin us, was the object of their seditious choice. Philip was alarmed. He dreaded lest the treason of •Jie Maesian army should prove the first spark of a general

1 The expression used by Zosimus and Zonaras may signify that Uarinns commanded a century, a cohort, or a legion.

conflagration. Distracted with the consciousness of his guil« and of his danger, he communicated the intelligence to the senate. A gloomy silence prevailed, the effect of fear, and perhaps of disaffection; till at length Decius, one of the assembly, assuming a spirit worthy of his noble extraction, ventured to discover more intrepidity than the emperor seemed to possess. He treated the whole business with contempt, as a nasty and inconsiderate tumult, and Philip's rival as a phantom of royalty, who in a very few days would be destroyed by the same inconstancy that had created him. The speedy completion of the prophecy inspired Philip with a just esteem for so able a counsellor; and Decius appeared to him the only person capable of restoring peace and discipline to an army whose tumultuous spirit did not immediately subside after the murder of Marinus. Decius,9 who long resisted his own nomination, seems to have insinuated the danger of presenting a leader of merit to the angry and apprehensive minds of the soldiers; and his prediction was again confirmed by the event. The legions of Msnsia forced their judge to become their accomplice. They left him only the alternative of death or the purple. His subsequent conduct, after that decisive measure, was unavoidable. He conducted, or followed, his army to the confines of Italy, whither Philip, collecting all his force to repel the formidable competitor whom he had raised up, advanced to meet him. The Imperial troops were superior in number; but the rebels formed an army of .veterans, commanded by an able and experienced leader. Philip was either killed in the battle, or put to death a few days afterwards at Verona. His son and associate in the empire was massacred at Rome by the Praetorian guards; and the victorious Decius, with more favorable circumstances than the ambition of that age can usually plead, was universally acknowledged ty the senate and provinces. It is reported, that, immediately after his reluctant acceptance of the title of Augustus, he had assured Philip, by a private message, of his innocence and

* His birth at Bubalia, a little village in Pannonia, (Eutrop. iz. Victor, in CVsarib. et Epitom.,) seems to contradict, unless it wai merely accidental, his supposed descent from the Decii. Six hundred years had bestowed nobility on the Decii: but at the commencement of that period, they were only plebeians of merit, and among the tirat who shared tho consulship with the haughty patricians. Plebeia Oeoiorum animse, &c. Juvenal, Sat. riii. 254. See the spirited specra of Decius, in Livy, x. 9, 10.

loyalty solemnly protesting, that, on his arrival in Italy, he would resign the Imperial ornaments, and return to the condition of an obedient subject His professions migh! be sincere; but in the situation where fortune had placed him, it was scarcely possible that he could either forgive or be for-. given.3

The emperor Decius had employed a few months in the works of peace and the administration of justice, when he was summoned to the banks of the Danube by the invasion of the Goths This 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 was the part which 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.

In the beginning of the sixth century, and after the conquest of Italy, the Goths, in possession of present greatness, very naturally indulged themselves in the prospect of past and of future glory. They wished to preserve the memory of their ancestors, and to transmit to posterity their own achievements. The principal minister of the court of Ravenna, the learned Cassiodorus, gratified the inclination of the conquerors in a Gothic history, which consisted of twelve books, now reduced to the imperfect abridgment of Jornandes.4 These writers passed with the most artful conciseness over the misfortunes of the nation, celebrated its successful valor, and adorned the triumph with many Asiatic trophies, that more properly belonged to the people of Scythia. On the faith of ancient songs, the uncertain, but the only memorials of barbarians, they deduced the first origin of the Goths from the vast island, or peninsula, of Scandinavia.5 • That extreme

1 Zosimus, 1 . i. p. 20, c. 22. Zonaras, 1. xii. p. 624, edit. Louvre.

4 See the prefaces of Cassiodorus and Jornandes: it is surprising that the latter should be omitted in the excellent edition, published by Qrolius, of the Gothic writers.

* On the authority of Ablavius, Jornandes quotes some old Gothic chronicles in verse. De Reb. Geticis, c. 4.

* The Goths have inhabited Scaadinavia, but it was not their original habitation. This great nation was anciently of the Suevian race; it occupied, in the time of Tacitus, and long before, Mecklenburgh, Pomerania, Southern Prussia, and the north-west of Poland. A little before tbe birth

« ForrigeFortsett »