« ForrigeFortsett »
But the stipulation, the most offensive to the Goths and the most important to the Romans, was shamefully eluded. The barbarians, who considered their arms as the ensigns of honour and the pledges of safety, were disposed to offer a price which the lust or avarice of the Imperial officers was easily tempted to accept. To preserve their arms, the haughty warriors consented, with some reluctance, to prostitute their wives or their daughters; the charms of a beauteous maid, or a comely boy, secured the connivance of the inspectors, who sometimes cast an eye of covetousness on the fringed carpets and linen garments of their new allies,68 or who sacrificed their duty to the mean consideration of filling their farms with cattle and their houses with slaves. The Goths, with arms in their hands, were permitted to enter the boats; and, when their strength was collected on the other side of the river, the immense camp which was spread over the plains and the hills of the Lower Maesia assumed a threatening and even hostile aspect. The leaders of the Ostrogoths, Alatheus and Saphrax, the guardians of their infant king, appeared soon afterwards on the northern banks of the Danube, and immediately despatched their ambassadors to the court of Antioch to solicit, with the same professions of allegiance and gratitude, the same favour which had been granted to the suppliant Visigoths. The absolute refusal of Valens suspended their progress, and discovered the repentance, the suspicions, and the fears of the Imperial council.
An undisciplined and unsettled nation of barbarians required the
firmest temper and the most dexterous management The
dintress «nd daily subsistence of near a million of extraordinary subjects
could be supplied only by constant and skilful diligence, and might continually be interrupted by mistake or accident. The insolence or the indignation of the Goths, if they conceived themselves to be the objects either of fear or of contempt, might urge them to the most desperate extremities, and the fortune of the state seemed to
"Eunapius and ZoBimus curiously specify these articles of Gothic wealth and luxury. Yet it must be presumed that they were the manufactures of tho provinces, which the barbarians had acquired as the spoils of war, or as the gifts or merchandise of peace.
follows:—"The Goths transported over "black raiment, to be wicked, and held
"the river their native deities, with their "in respect, *»»«> Ti I7>«< M) rimitr
"priests of both sexes, but concerning t*t." (Eunapius hated the " black-robed
"their rites they maintained a deep and monks, as appears in another passage,
"' adamantine silence.' To the Romans with the cordial detestation of a heathen
"they pretended to be generally Chris- philosopher.) "Thus, while they faith
"tians, and placed certain persons to re- "fully but secretly adhered to their own
"present bishops in a conspicuous manner "religion, the Romans were weak enough
"on their waggons. There was even "to suppose them perfect Christians."
"among them a sort of what are called Mai, p. 277. Eunapius, edit. Niebuhr, p.
"monks, persons whom it was not ililli- 82.—M. "cult to mimic; it was enough to wear
A.D. 376. THEIR DISTRESS AND DISCONTENT. 323
depend on the prudence, as well as the integrity, of the generals of Valens. At this important crisis the military government of Thrace was exercised by Lupicinus and Maximus, in whose venal minds the slightest hope of private emolument outweighed every consideration of public advantage, and whose guilt was only alleviated by their incapacity of discerning the pernicious effects of their rash and criminal administration. Instead of obeying the orders of their sovereign, and satisfying, with decent liberality, the demands of the Goths, they levied an ungenerous and oppressive tax on the wants of the hungry barbarians. The vilest food was sold at an extravagant price, and, in the room of wholesome and substantial provisions, the markets were filled with the flesh of dogs and of unclean animals who had died of disease. To obtain the valuable acquisition of a pound of bread, the Goths resigned the possession of an expensive though serviceable slave, and a small quantity of meat was greedily purchased with ten pounds of a precious but useless metal69 When their property was exhausted, they continued this necessary traffic by the sale of their sons and daughters; and notwithstanding the love of freedom which animated every Gothic breast, they submitted to the humiliating maxim that it was better for their children to be maintained in a servile condition than to perish in a state of wretched and helpless independence. The most lively resentment is excited by the tyranny of pretended benefactors, who sternly exact the debt of gratitude which they have cancelled by subsequent injuries; a spirit of discontent insensibly arose in the camp of the barbarians, who pleaded, without success, the merit of their patient and dutiful behaviour, and loudly complained of the inhospitable treatment which they had received from their new allies. They beheld around them the wealth and plenty of a fertile province, in the midst of which they suffered the intolerable hardships of artificial famine. But the means of relief, and even of revenge, were in their hands, since the rapaciousness of their tyrants had left to an injured people the possession and the use of arms. The clamours of a multitude, untaught to disguise their sentiments, announced the first symptoms of resistance, and alarmed the timid and guilty minds of Lupicinus and Maximus. Those crafty
• Decern libras • the word silver must be understood. Jornondes betrays the passions and prejudices of a Goth. The servile Greeks, Eunapius" and Zosimus, disguise the Roman oppression, and execrate the perfidy of the barbarians. Ammianus, a patriot historian, slightly and reluctantly touches on the odious subject. Jerom, who wrote almost on the spot, is fair, though concise. Per avaritiam Haximi ducis, ad rebellionem fame coacti sunt (in Chron. [torn. viii. p. 817, ed. Vallars.]).
■ A new passage from the history of "barbarians: *t(l» miviii iii*u <ynmn T# Eunapius is nearer to the truth. "It "lnftUniiriai T«>« T*» T<xi^i'm." Edit "appeared to our commanders a legiti- Niebuhr, p. 82.—M. "mate source of gain to be bribed by the
ministers, who substituted the cunning of temporary expedients to the wise and salutary counsels of general policy, attempted to remove the Goths from their dangerous station on the frontiers of the empire, and to disperse them, in separate quarters of cantonment, through the interior provinces. As they were conscious how ill they had deserved the respect or confidence of the barbarians, they diligently collected from every side a military force that might urge the tardy and reluctant march of a people who had not yet renounced the title or the duties of Roman subjects. But the generals of Valens, while their attention was solely directed to the discontented Visigoths, imprudently disarmed the ships and the fortifications which constituted the defence of the Danube. The fatal oversight was observed and improved by Alatheus and Saphrax, who anxiously watched the favourable moment of escaping from the pursuit of the Huns. By the help of such rafts and vessels as could be hastily procured, the leaders of the Ostrogoths transported, without opposition, their king and their army, and boldly fixed an hostile and independent camp on the territories of the empire. ~*
Under the name of Judges, Alavivus and Fritigern were the Km*)* leaders of the Visigoths in peace and war; and the auta*iiMh! thority which they derived from their birth was ratified by JJti^ the free consent of the nation. In a season of tranquillity tirt~- their power might have been equal as well as their rank;
but, as soon as their countrymen were exasperated by hunger and oppression, the superior abilities of Fritigern assumed the military command, which he was qualified to exercise for the public welfare. He restrained the impatient spirit of the Visigoths till the injuries and the insults of their tyrants should justify their resistance in the opinion of mankind: but he was not disposed to sacrifice any solid advantages for the empty praise of justice and moderation. Sensible of the benefits which would result from the union of the Gothic powers under the same standard, he secretly cultivated the friendship of the Ostrogoths; and while he professed an implicit obedience to the orders of the Roman generals, he proceeded by slow marches towards Marcianopolis, the capital of the Lower Marsia, about seventy miles from the banks of the Danube. On that fatal spot the flames of discord and mutual hatred burst forth into a dreadful conflagration. Lupicinus had invited the Gothic chiefs to a splendid entertainment; and their martial train remained under arms at the entrance of the palace. But the gates of the city were strictly guarded, and the barbarians were sternly excluded from the use of a
70 AmimanuR, xxzi. 4, 5.
A.D. 376, REVOLT OF THE GOTHS IN ILESlA. 325
plentiful market, to which they asserted their equal claim of subjects and allies. Their humble prayers were rejected with insolence and derision; and as their patience was now exhausted, the townsmen, the soldiers, and the Goths were soon involved in a conflict of passionate altercation and angry reproaches. A blow was imprudently given; a sword was hastily drawn; and the first blood that was spilt in this accidental quarrel became the signal of a long and destructive war. In the midst of noise and brutal intemperance Lupicinus was informed by a secret messenger that many of his soldiers were slain and despoiled of their arms; and as he was already inflamed by wine and oppressed by sleep, he issued a rash command, that their death should be revenged by the massacre of the guards of Fritigern and Alavivus. The clamorous shouts and dying groans apprised Fritigern of his extreme danger; and, as he possessed the calm and intrepid spirit of a hero, he saw that he was lost if he allowed a moment of deliberation to the man who had so deeply injured him. "A trifling dispute," said the Gothic leader, with a firm but gentle tone of voice, " appears to have arisen between the "two nations; but it may be productive of the most dangerous conse"quences, unless the tumult is immediately pacified by the assurance "of our safety and the authority of our presence." At these words Fritigern and his companions drew their swords, opened their passage through the unresisting crowd, which filled the palace, the streets, and the gates of Marcianopolis, and, mounting their horses, hastily vanished from the eyes of the astonished Romans. The generals of the Goths were saluted by the fierce and joyful acclamations of the camp; war was instantly resolved, and the resolution was executed without delay: the banners of the nation were displayed according to the custom of their ancestors; and the air resounded with the harsh and mournful music of the barbarian trumpet.71 The weak and guilty Lupicinus, who had dared to provoke, who had neglected to destroy, and who still presumed to despise his formidable enemy, marched against the Goths, at the head of such a military force as could be collected on this sudden emergency. The barbarians expected his approach about nine miles from Marcianopolis; and on this occasion the talents of the general were found to be of more prevailing efficacy than the weapons and discipline of the troops. The valour of the Goths was so ably directed by the genius of Fritigern, that they broke, by a close and vigorous attack, the ranks of the Roman legions. Lupicinus left his arms and standards, his tribunes and his bravest soldiers, on the field of battle; and their useless courage served only to protect the ignominious flight of their leader. "That successful day put an end to the distress of the "barbarians and the security of the Romans: from that day the "Goths, renouncing the precarious condition of strangers and exiles, "assumed the character of citizens and masters, claimed an absolute "dominion over the possessors of land, and held, in their own right, "the northern provinces of the empire, which are bounded by the "Danube." Such are the words of the Gothic historian,12 who celebrates, with rude eloquence, the glory of his countrymen. But the dominion of the barbarians was exercised only for the purposes of rapine and destruction. As they had been deprived by the ministers of the emperor of the common benefits of nature and the fair intercourse of social life, they retaliated the injustice on the subjects of the empire; and the crimes of Lupicinus were expiated by the ruin ,^^ of the peaceful husbandmen of Thrace, the conflagration of
71 Vexillis de more sublatis, auditisque Mate sonantibua clossicis. Ammian. xxxi. 5. These are the rauca cornua of Claudian (in Rufin. ii. 57), the large horns of the Uri, or wild bull—such as have been more recently used by the Swiss cantons of Uri and Unterwald (Simler de Repnblica Helvet. 1. ii. p. 201, edit. Fuselin. Tigur. 1734). Their military horn is finely, though perhaps casually, introduced in an original narrative of the battle of Nancy (a..d. 1477). "Attendant le combat le dit cor fut come "par trois fois, tant que le vent du souffleur pouvoit durer: ce qui esbahit fort Mon"sieur do Bourgoigne; car dejd a Moral I'aroit ouy." (See the Pidces Justificatives in the 4to. edition of Philippe de Comines, torn. iii. p. 493.)
ponetrate their villages, and the massacre or captivity of their innocent families. The report of the Gothic victory was soon diffused over the adjacent country; and while it filled the minds of the Romans with terror and dismay, their own hasty imprudence contributed to increase the forces of Fritigern and the calamities of the province. Some time before the great emigration a numerous body of Goths, under the command of Suerid and Colias, had been received into the protection and service of the empire.73 They were encamped under the walls of Hadrianople: but the ministers of Valens were anxious to remove them beyond the Hellespont, at a distance from the dangerous temptation which might so easily be communicated by the neighbourhood and the success of their countrymen. The respectful submission with which they yielded to the order of their march might be considered as a proof of their fidelity; and their moderate request of a sufficient allowance of provisions and of a delay of only two days was expressed in the most dutiful terms. But the first magistrate of Hadrianople, incensed by some disorders which had been committed at his country-house, refused this indulgence; and arming against them the inhabitants and manufacturers
71 Jornandes de Rebus Getieis, c. 26, p. 648, edit. Grot. These splmdidi panni (they are comparatively such) are undoubtedly transcribed from the larger histories of Prisons, Ablavius, or Cassiodorus.
7,1 Cum populis suis longe ante suscopti. We ore ignorant of the precise date and circumstances of their transmigration.