Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

cious granaries for the use of the capital. As soon as Alaric was in possession of that important place, he summoned the city to surrender at discretion; and his demands were enforced by the positive declaration, that a refusal, or even a delay, should be instantly followed by the destruction of the magazines, on which the life of the Roman people depended. The clamours of that people, and the terror of famine, subdued the pride of the senate; they listened, without reluctance, to the proposal of placing a new emperor on the throne of the unworthy Honorius; and the suffrage of the Gothic conqueror bestowed the purple on Attalus, prefect of the city. The grateful monarch immediately acknowledged his protector as master-general of the armies of the west; Adolphus, with the rank of count of the domestics, obtained the custody of the person of Attalus; and the two hostile nations seemed to be united in the closest bands of friendship and alliance. y

The gates of the city were thrown open, and the new emperor of the Romans, encompassed the on every side by the Gothic arms, was conud ducted, in tumultuous procession, to the palace Homans- of Augustus and Trajan. After he had distributed the civil and military dignities among his favourites and followers, Attalus convened an assembly of the senate; before whom, in a formal and florid speech, he asserted his resolution of restoring the majesty of the republic, and of uniting to the empire the provinces of Egypt and the east, which had once acknowledged the sovereignty of Rome. Such extravagant promises inspired every reasonable citizen with a just contempt for the character of an unwarlike usurper; whose elevation was the deepest and most ignominious wound which the republic had yet sustained from the insolence of the barbarians. But the populace, with their usual levity, applauded the change of masters. The public discontent was favourable to the rival of Honorius; and the sectaries, oppressed by his persecuting edicts, expected some degree of countenance, or at least of toleration, from a prince, who, in his native country of Ionia, had been educated in the Pagan superstition, and who had since received the sacrament of baptism from the hands of an Arian bishop.2 The first days of the reign of Attalus were fair and prosperous. An officer of consequence was sent with an inconsiderable body of troops to secure the obedience of Africa; the greatest part of Italy submitted to the terror of the Gothic powers; and though the city of Bologna made a vigorous and effectual resistance, the people of Milan, dissatisfied perhaps with the absence of Honorius, accepted with loud acclamations, the choice of the Roman senate. At the head of a formidable army, Alaric conducted his royal captive almost to the gates of Ravenna; and a solemn embassy of the principal ministers of Jovius, the praetorian prefect, of Valens, m'aster of the cavalry and infantry, of the quaestor Potamius, and of Julian, the first of the notaries, was introduced, with martial pomp, into the Gothic camp. In the name of their sovereign, they consented to acknowledge the lawful election of his competitor, and to divide the provinces of Italy and the west between the two emperors. Their proposals were rejected with disdain; and the refusal was aggravated by the insulting clemency of Attalus, who condescended to promise, that, if Honorius would instantly resign the purple, he should be permitted to pass the remainder of his life in the peaceful exile of some remote island." So desperate, indeed, did the situation of the son of Theodosius appear to those who were the best acquainted with his strength and resources, that Jovius and Valens, his minister and his general, betrayed their trust, infamously deserted the sinking cause of their benefactor, and devoted their treacherous allegiance to the service of his more fortunate rival. Astonished by such examples of domestic treason, Honorius trembled at the approach of every servant, at the arrival of every messenger. He dreaded the secret enemies, who might lurk in his capital, his palace, his bedchamber; and some ships lay ready in the harbour of Ravenna, to transport the abdicated monarch to the dominions of his infant nephew, the emperor of the east.

p. gg—92.) or at least the fourth, century, (Carol. a. Sancto Paulo, Notit. Eccles. p. 47.) the port of Home was an episcopal city, which was demolished, as it should seem, in the ninth century, by pope Gregory IV. during the. incursions of the Arabs. It is now reduced to an inn, a church, and the house or palace of the bishop; who ranks as one of six cardinal bishops of the Roman church. See Eschinard, Descrizione di Roma et dell' Agro Romano, p. 328.

'For the elevation of Attalus, consult Zosimus, lib. 6. p. 377—380. Sozomen, Kb. 9. c. 8. 9. Olympiodor. ap. Phot. p. 180,181. Philostorg. lib. IS. c. 3. and Godefroy, Diaaertat. p. 470.

i We may admit the evidence of Sozomen for the Arian baptism, and that of Philostorgius for the Pagan education of Attalus. The visible joy of Zosimus, and the discontent which he imputes to the Anician family, are very unfavourable to the Christianity of the new emperor.

He is de- But there is a providence (such at least was padedby tQe opinion of the historian Procopiusb) that A. a no. watches over innocence and folly; and the pretensions of Honorius to its peculiar care cannot reasonably be disputed. At the moment when his despair, incapable of any wise or manly resolution, meditated a shameful flight, a seasonable reinforcement of four thousand veterans unexpectedly landed in the port of Ravenna. To these valiant strangers, whose fidelity had not been corrupted by the factions of the court, he committed the walls and gates of the city; and the slumbers of the emperor were no longer disturbed by the apprehension of imminent and internal danger. The favourable intelligence which was received from Africa, suddenly changed the opinions of men, and the state of public affairs. The troops and officers, whom Attalns had sent

* He carried his insolence so far, as to declare that he should mutilate Honorius before ha sent him into exile. But this assertion of Zoaim.us is destroyed by the •ore impartial testimony of Olympiodorus, who attributes the ungenerous proposal (which was absolutely rejected by Attains) to the baseness, and perhaps the treach«ry, of Joy in u.

b Procop. de Bell. Vandal, lib. 1. c. 2.

into that province, were defeated and slain; and the active zeal of Heraclian maintained his own allegiance, and that of his people. The faithful count of Africa transmitted a large sum of money, which fixed the attachment of the imperial guards; and his vigilance, in preventing the exportation of corn and oil, introduced famine, tumult, and discontent, into the walls of Rome. The failure of the African expedition was the source of mutual complaint and recrimination in the party of Attalus; and the mind of his protector was insensibly alienated from the interest of a prince, who wanted spirit to command, or docility to obey. The most imprudent measures were adopted, without the knowledge, or against the advice of Alaric; and the obstinate refusal of the senate, to allow, in the embarkation, the mixture even of five hundred Goths, betrayed a suspicious and distrustful temper, which, in their situation, was neither generous nor prudent. The resentment of the Gothic king was exasperated by the malicious arts of Jovius, who had been raised to the rank of patrician, and who afterward excused his double perfidy, by declaring, without a blush, that he had only seemed to abandon the service of Honorius, more effectually to ruin the cause of the usurper. In a large plain near Rimini, and in the presence of an innumerable multitude of Romans and barbarians, the wretched Attalus was publicly despoiled of the diadem and purple; and those ensigns of royalty were sent by Alaric, as the pledge of peace and friendship, to the son of Theodosius.0 The officers who returned to their duty, were reinstated in their employments, and even the merit of a tardy repentance was graciously allowed: but the degraded emperor of the Romans, desirous of life, and insensible of disgrace, implored the permission of following the Gothic camp, in the train of a haughty and capricious harbarian.d

'• See the cause and circumstances of the fall of Attalus in Zosimue, lib. 6. p. 380 —383. Sozomen, lib. 9. c. 8. Philostorg. lib. 12. c. 3. The two acts of indemnity in the Theodosian Code, lib. 9. tit. 38. leg. 11. 22. which were published the I2tb of February, and the 8th of August, A- D. 410, evidently relate to this usurper-.

Third The degradation of Attains removed the only

siege and real obstacle to the conclusion of the peace; and Rome by Alaric advanced within three miles of Ravenna, A. 0.404) topress the irresolution of the imperial ministers, ug- 24' whose insolence soon returned with the return of fortune. His indignation was kindled by the report, that a rival chieftain, that Sarus, the personal enemy of Adolphus, and the hereditary foe of the house of Balti, had been received into the palace. At the head of three hundred followers, that fearless barbarian immediately sallied from the gates of Ravenna; surprised, and cut in pieces, a considerable body of Goths; re-entered the city in triumph; and was permitted to insult his adversary, by the voice of a herald, who publicly declared that the guilt of Alaric had for ever excluded him from the friendship and alliance of the emperor." The crime and folly of the court of Ravenna was expiated, a third time; by the calamities of Rome. The kingof the Goths, who no longer dissembled his appetite for plunder and revenge, appeared in arms under the walls of the capital; and the trembling senate, without any hopes of relief, prepared, by a desperate resistance, to delay the ruin of their country. But they were unable to guard against the secret conspiracy of their slaves and domestics; who, either from birth or interest, were attached to the cause of the enemy. At the hour of midnight, the Salarian gate was silently opened, and the inhabitants were awakened by the tremendous sound of the Gothic trumpet. Eleven hundred and sixty-three years after the foundation of Rome, the imperial city, which had sub

•' In hoc, Alaricus, imperatore, facto, infecto, refecto, ac defecto Mimum

riait, et ladum spectavit imperil. Orosius, lib. 7. c. 42. p. 582.

• Zosimue, lib. 6. p. 384. Sozomen, lib. 9. c. 9. Philostorgius, lib. U. c. 3. In this place the text of Zosimus Is mutilated, and we have lost the remainder of bis sixth and last book, which ended with the sack of Rome. Credulous and paaial as he is, we must take our leave of that historian with some regret,

VOL. IV. K

« ForrigeFortsett »