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the Gothic conflagration." Yet a contemporary historian has observed, that fire could scarcely consume the enormous beams of solid brass, and that the strength of man was insufficient to subvert the foundations of ancient structures. Some truth may possibly be concealed in his devout assertion, that the wrath of Heaven supplied the imperfections of hostile rage; and that the proud Forum of Rome, decorated with the statues of so many gods and heroes, was levelled in the dust by the stroke of lightning.p
Whatever might be the numbers of equestrian,
Captives Pi • i i • i
md fugi- or plebeian rank, who perished in the massacre L" of Rome, it is confidently affirmed, that only one senator lost his life by the sword of the enemy.q But it ,was not easy to compute the multitudes, who, from an honourable station, and a prosperous fortune, were suddenly reduced to the miserable condition of captives and exiles. As the barbarians had more occasion for money than for slaves, they fixed, at a moderate price, the redemption of their indigent prisoners; and the ransom was often paid by the benevolence of their friends, or the charity of strangers/ The captives, who were regularly sold, either in open market, or by private contract, would have legally regained their native freedom, which it was impossible for a citizen to lose, or to alienate." But as it was soon discovered, that the vindication of their liberty would endanger their lives; and that the Goths, unless they were tempted to sell, might be provoked to murder, their useless prisoners; the civil jurisprudence had been already qualified by a wise regulation, that they should be obliged to serve the moderate term of five years, till they had discharged by their labour the price of their redemption.' The nations who invaded the Roman empire, had driven before them, into Italy, whole troops of hungry and affrighted provincials, less apprehensive of servitude than of famine. The calamities of Rome and Italy dispersed the inhabitants to the most lonely, the most secure, the most distant places of refuge. While the Gothic cavalry spread terror and desolation along the sea-coast of Campania and Tuscany, the little island of Igilium, separated by a narrow channel from the Argentarian promontory, repulsed, or eluded, their hostile attempts; and at so small a distance from Rome, great numbers of citizens were securely concealed in the thick woods of that sequestered spot." The ample patrimonies, which many senatorian families possessed in Africa, invited them, if they had time and prudence, to escape from the ruin of their country, to embrace the shelter of that hospitable province. The most illustrious of these fugitives was the noble and pious Proba,* the widow of the prefect Petronius. After the death of her husband, the most powerful subject of Rome, she had remained at the head of the Anician family,and successively supplied, fromher private fortune, the expense of the consulships of her three sons. When the city was besieged and taken by the Goths, Proba supported, with Christian resignation, the loss of immense riches; embarked a small vessel, from whence she beheld, at sea, the flames of her burning palace, and fled with her daughter Laeta, and her grand-daughter, the celebrated virgin, Demetrias, to the coast of Africa. The benevolent profusion with which the matron distributed the fruits, or the price, of her estates, contributed to alleviate the misfortunes of exile and captivity. But even the family of Proba herself was not exempt from the rapacious oppression of count Heraclian, who basely sold, in matrimonial prostitution, the noblest maidens of Rome to the lust or avarice of the Syrian merchants. The Italian fugitives were dispersed through the provinces, along the coast of Egypt and Asia, as far as Constantinople and Jerusalem; and the village of Bethlehem, the solitary residence of St Jerome and his female converts, was crowded with illustrious beggars of either sex, and every age, who excited the public compassion by the remembrance of their past fortune.31 This awful catastrophe of Rome filled the astonished empire with grief and terror. So interesting a contrast of greatness and ruin, disposed the fond credulity of the people to deplore, and even to exaggerate, the afflictions of the queen of cities. The clergy, who applied to recent events the lofty metaphors of oriental prophecy, were sometimes tempted to confound the destruction of the capital and the dissolution of the globe. Sack of There exists in human nature a strong proRomeby pensity to depreciate the advantages, and to
0 The expressions of Procopius are distinct and moderate- (de Bell. Vandal. lib. I. <:. i,) The Chronicle of Marcellinus speaks too strongly, pattem urbis Romae cremavit; and the words of Philostorgius, (ev tftimut fa rut voXix uipnn;, lib. 19. '- 3.) convey a false and exaggerated idea. Bargaeus has composed a. particular dissertation (see tom. 4. Antiquit . Rom. Gncv.) to prove that the edifices of Rome were not subverted by the Goths and Vandals.
i' Orosius, lib. 2. c. 19. p. 143. He speaks as if he disapproved utl statues; vel Deuiu vel hominem meutiuutur. They consisted of the kings of Alba and Rome from . Km -a-, the Romans, illustrious either inarms or arts, and the deified Caesars. The expression which he uses of Forum, is somewhat ambiguous, since there existed fte principal Fora; but as they were all contiguous and adjacent, in the plainwhich is surrounded by the Capitoline, the Quirinal, the Esquiliue, and the Palatine bills, they might fairly be considered as one. See the Roma Antiqua of Donatus, p. 162 —-ill. and the Roma Antica of Nardini, p. _'!'_'—£73. The former is more useful for the ancient descriptions, the latter for the actual topography.
'• Orosius (lib. 2. c. 19. p. 142.) compares the cruelty of the Gauls and the clemency of the Goths. Ibi vix quemquam inventum senatorum, qui vel absens evaserit: hie vix quemquam requiri, qui forte ut latens perierit. But there is an air of rhetoric, and perhaps of falsehood, in this antithesis; and Socrates (lib. 7. c. 10.) affirms, perhaps by an opposite exaggeration, that many senators were put to death *ith various and exquisite tortures.
r Multi.. .Christian! in captivitatem ducti sunt. Augustin, dc Civ. Dei, lib. 1. c. 11- and the Christians experienced no peculiar hardships.
1 See Heineccius, Antiquitat. Juris Roman- tom. 1. p. 96. 1 Appendix Cod. Theodos. 16. in Sirmond. Opera, tom. 1. p. 735. This edict was published the llth of December, A. D. 408, and is more reasonable than properly belonged to the ministers of Honorius.
"Emmas Igilii sylvosa cacumina miror;
Quem fraudare oefas laudis honore sutc
Sive loci ingenie, seu Domini genio.
Tanquam loginquo dissociata man.
Hie fcssis posito certa timore salus.
Contra naturam clasee timendus equcs
Kntilin.s in ltinerar.lib. 1. 325. The island is now called Giglio. See Gluver. Ital. Antiq. lib. 2. p. 502.
1 As the adventures of Proba and her family are connected with the life of St. August in, they arc diligently illustrated by Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. tom. 13. p. 620 —635. Some time after their arrival in Africa, Demetrias took the veil, and made a vow of virginity; an event which was considered as of the highest importance to Rome and to the world. All the Saints wrote congratulatory letters to her; thatof Jerome is still extant, (tom. 1. p. 62—73. ad Dcmetriadadeservandft Virginitat.) and contains a mixture of absurd reasoning, spirited declamation, and curious facts, some of which relate to the siege and sack of Rome.
'Sec the pathetic complaint of Jerome, (tom. p. 400.) in his preface to the xcond book of his Commentaries on the prophet Ezckiel.
the troops r .• r tr
ofCharies magmly the evils, of the present times. Yet, when the first emotions had subsided, and a fair estimate was made of the real damage, the more learned and judicious contemporaries were forced to confess, that infant Rome had formerly received more essential injury from the Gauls, than she had now sustained from the Goths in her declining age.2 The experience of eleven centuries has enabled posterity to produce a much more singular parallel; and to affirm with confidence thatthe ravages of the barbarians, whom Alaric had led from the banks of the Danube, were less destructive than the hostilities exercised by the troops of Charles V. a Catholic prince, who styled himself emperor of the Romans.3 The Goths evacuated the city at the end of six days, but Rome remained above nine months in the possession of the imperialists; and every hour was stained by some atrocious act of cruelty, lust, and rapine. The authority of Alaric preserved some order and moderation among the ferocious multitude, which acknowledged him for their leader and king; but the constable of Bourbon had gloriously fallen in the attack of the walls; and the death of the general removed every restraint of discipline, from an army
1 Orosius, though with some theological partiality, states this comparison, lib. 2. c. 19. p. IK'- lib. 7. c. 39. p. 575. But, in the history of the taking of Rome by the Gauls,every thing is uncertain, and perhaps fabulous. See Beaufort sur l'Iucertitude, &c. de I'Histoire Bomaine, p. 356; and Melot, in the Mem. de 1'Academie des Inscript. tom. 15. p. 1—21.
1 The reader who wishes to inform himself of the circumstances of this famous event may peruse an admirable narrative in Dr. Robertson's History of Charles V. vol. 2. p. 283. or consult the Annali d'ltalia of the leamed Muratori, tom. II. p. 230—244. octavo edition. If he is desirous of examining the originals, he may have recourse to the eighteenth book of the great, but unfinished, history of Guicciardiiu. But the account which most truly deserves the name of authentic and original, is a little book, entitled, '/ Sacco di Roma, composed, within less than a month after the assault of the city, by the brother of the historian Guicciardini, who appears to have been an able magistrate, ajad a dispassionate writer.
which consisted of three independent nations, the Italians, the Spaniards, and the Germans. In the beginning of the sixteenth century, the manners of Italy exhibited a remarkable scene of the depravity of mankind. They united the sanguinary crimes that prevail in an unsettled state of society, with the polished vices that spring from the abuse of art and luxury; and the loose adventurers, who had violated every prejudice of patriotism and superstition, to assault the palace of the Roman pontiff, must deserve to be considered as the most profligate of the Italians. At the same era, the Spaniards were the terror both of the Old and New World; but their high-spirited valour was disgraced by gloomy pride, rapacious avarice, and unrelenting cruelty. Indefatigable in the pursuit of fame and riches, they had improved, by repeated practice, the most exquisite and effectual methods of torturing their prisoners; many of the Castilians, who pillaged Rome, were familiars of the holy inquisition; and some volunteers, perhaps, were lately returned from the conquest of Mexico. The Germans were less corrupt than the Italians, less cruel than the Spaniards; and the rustic, or even savage, aspect of those Tramontane warriors, often disguised a simple and merciful disposition. But they had imbibed, in the first fervour of the Reformation, the spirit as well as the principles, of Luther. It was their favourite amusement to insult, or destroy, the consecrated objects of Catholic superstition: they indulged, without pity or remorse, a devout hatred against the clergy of every denomination and degree, who form so considerable a part of the inhabitants of modern Rome; and their fanatic zeal might aspire to subvert the throne of Antichrist, to purify, with blood and fire, the abominations of the spiritual Babylon.1 "
k The furious spirit of Luther, the effect of temper and enthusiasm, has been •"nrribly attacked (Bossuet. Hist. des Variations des Eglises Protestantes, livre 1. p. 20—,''/o and feebly defended. (Seckendorf, Comment, de Lutheranismo, especially lib. 1. no. 78. p. 130. and lib. 3. no. 122. p. 556.)