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his dominions; and that the ambitious minister suffered him to attain the age of manhood, without attempting to excite his courage, or to enlighten his understanding.'1 The predecessors of Honorius were accustomed to animate, by their example, or at least by their presence, the valour of the legions; and the dates of their laws attest the perpetual activity of their motions through the provinces of the Roman world. But the son of Theodosius passed the slumber of his life, a captive in his palace, a stranger in his country, and the patient, almost the indifferent, spectator of the ruin of (he western empire, which was repeatedly attacked, and finally subverted, by the arms of the barbarians. In the eventful history of a reign of twenty-eight-years, it will seldom be necessary to mention the name of the emperor Honorius.
Revolt of the Goths.—They plunder Greece.—Two great invasions of Italy by Alaric and Radagaisus.—They are repulsed by Stilicho.—The Germans overrun Gaul.—Usurpation of Confitantine in the west.—Disgrace and death of Stilicho.
... If the subjects of Rome could be ignorant of the Goths, their obligations to the great Theodosius, they 'were too soon convinced, how painfully the spirit and abilities of their deceased emperor had supported the frail and mouldering edifice of the republic. He died in the month of January; and before the end of the winter of the same year, the Gothic nation was in arms." The barbarian auxiliaries erected their independent standard; and boldly avowed the hostile
« The lessons of Theodosius, or rather Claudian, (4 Cons. Honor. 214—418.) might compose a fine institution for the future prince of a great and free nation. It was far above Honorius, and his degenerate subjects.
•'- The revolt of the Goths, and the blockade of Constantinople, are distinctly mentioned by Claudian, (in Rufin. lib. 2. 7—100.) Zosimvs, (lib. 5. p. 292.) and Jomandes, (de Rebus Geticis, c. 29.)
designs which they had long cherished in their ferocious minds. Their countrymen, who had been condemned, by the conditions of the last treaty, to a life of tranquillity and labour, deserted their farms at the first sound of the trumpet; and eagerly resumed the weapons which they had reluctantly laid down. The barriers of the Danube were thrown.open; the savage warriors of Scythia issued from their forests; and the uncommon severity of the winter allowed the poet to remark, that they rolled their ponderous waggons over the broad and icy bank of the indignant river* The unhappy natives of the provinces to the south of the Danube, submitted to the calamities, which in the course of twenty years were almost grown familiar to their imagination; and the various troops of barbarians, who gloried in the Gothic name, were irregularly spread from the woody shores of Dalmatia, to the walls of Constantinople.0 The interruption, or at least the diminution, of the subsidy, which the Goths had received from the prudent liberality of Theodosius, was the specious pretence of their revolt: the affront was imbittered by their contempt of the unwarlike sons of Theodosius; and their resentment was inflamed by the weakness, or treachery, of the minister of Arcadius. The frequent visits of Rufinus to the camp of the barbarians, whose arms and apparel he affected to imitate, were considered as a sufficient evidence of his guilty correspondence: and the public enemy, from a motive either of gratitude or of policy, was attentive, amidst the general devastation, to spare the private estates of the unpopular prefect. The Goths, instead of being impelled by the blind and headstrong passions of their chiefs, were now directed by the bold and artful genius of Alaric. That renowned leader was descended from the noble race of the Balti ;d which yielded only to the royal dignity of the Amali: he had solicited the command of the Roman armies; and the imperial court provoked him to demonstrate the folly of their refusal, and the importance of their loss. Whatever hopes might be entertained of the conquest of Constantinople, the judicious general soon abandoned an impracticable enterprise. In the midst of a divided court, and a discontented people, the emperor Arcadius was terrified by the aspect of the Gothic arms: but the want of wisdom and valour was supplied by the strength of the city; and the fortifications, both of the sea and land, might securely brave the impotent and random darts of the barbarians. Alaric disdained to trample any longer on the prostrate and ruined countries of Thrace and Dacia, and he resolved to seek a plentiful harvest of fame and riches in a province which had hitherto escaped the ravages of war.'
b Alii per terga ferocis
Danubii solidatu ruunt; expertaque ranis
Frangunt stagna rotis.
Claudian and Ovid often amuse their fancy by interchanging the metaphors and properties of liquid water, and solid ice. Much false wit has been expended in this easy exercise.
'Jerome, tom. 1. p. 26. He endeavours to comfort his friend Heliodorus, bishop of i Uinuiu, for the loss of his nephew Nepotian, by a curious recapitulation of all the public and private misfortunes of the times. Se.e Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. torn. 12. p. «00, &c.
Alaric "^h6 character of the civil and military ofmarchea ficers, on whom Rufinus had devolved the go
Greece, vernment of Greece, confirmed the public sus'3 6- picion, that he had betrayed the ancient seat of freedom and learning to the Gothic invader. The proconsul Antiochus was the unworthy son of a respectable father; and Gerontius, who commanded the provincial troops, was much better qualified to execute the oppressive orders of a tyrant, than to defend with courage and ability, a country most remarkably fortified by the hand of nature. Alaric had traversed, without
* Hulthn, or bold: origo mirifica, says Jomandes, (c. 29.) This illustrious race long continued to flourish in France, in the Gothic province of Septimania, or Languedoc; under the corrupted appellation of Btua: and a branch of that family afterward settled in the kingdom of Naples. (Grotius in Prolegom. ad Hist. Gothic. p. 53.) The lords of Brmx, near Aries, and of seventy-nine subordinate places, were independent of the counts of Provence. (Longuerue, Description de la France, tom. I. p. 357.)
Zosimus (lib. 5. p. 293—295.) is our best guide for the conquest of Greece; but the hints and allusions of Claudian are so many rays of historic light.
resistance, the plains of Macedonia and Thessaly, as
far as the foot of mount Oeta, a steep and woody range
of hills, almost impervious to his cavalry. They stretch
ed from east to west, to the edge of the sea-shore; and
left between the precipice and the Malian gulf, an inter
val of three hundred feet, which, in some places, was
contracted to a road capable of admitting only a single
carriage/ In this narrow pass of Thermopylae, where
Leonidas and the three hundred Spartans had gloriously
devoted their lives, the Goths might have been stopped,
or destroyed, by a skilful general; and perhaps the view
of that sacred spot might have kindled some sparks of
military ardour in the breasts of the degenerate Greeks.
The troops which had been posted to defend the straits
of Thermopylas, retired, as they were directed, without
attempting to disturb the secure and rapid passage of
Alaric ;g and the fertile fields of Phocis and Bceotia
were instantly covered by a deluge of barbarians; who
massacred the males of an age to bear arms, and drove
away the beautiful females, with the spoil, and cattle, of
the flaming villages. The travellers, who visited Greece
several years afterward, could easily discover the deep
and bloody traces of the march of the Goths; and
Thebes was less indebted for her preservation to the
strength of her seven gates, than to the eager haste of
Alaric, who advanced to occupy the cities of Athens, and
the important harbour of the Piraeus. The same impa
tience urged him to prevent the delay and danger of a
siege, by the offer of a capitulation; and as soon as the
Athenians heard the voice of the Gothic herald, they
were easily persuaded to deliver the greatest part of their
wealth, as the ransom of the city of Minerva, and its inhabitants. The treaty was ratified by solemn oaths, and observed with mutual fidelity. The Gothic prince, with a small and select train, was admitted within the walls; he indulged himself in the refreshment of the bath, accepted a splendid banquet which was provided by the magistrate, and affected to shew that he was not ignorant of the manners of civilized nations.1' But the whole territory of Attica, from the promontory of Sunium to the town of Megara, was blasted by his baleful presence; and if we may use the comparison of a contemporary philosopher, Athens itself resembled the bleeding and empty skin of a slaughtered victim. The distance between Megara and Corinth could not much exceed thirty miles; but the bad road, an expressive name, which it still bears among the Greeks, was, or might easily have been made, impassable for the march of an enemy. The thick and gloomy woods of mount Cithaeron covered the inland country; the Scironian rocks approached the water's edge, and hung over the narrow and winding path, which was confined above six miles along the sea-shore.1 The passage of those rocks, so infamous in every age, was terminated by the isthmus of Corinth; and a small body of firm and intrepid soldiers might have successfully defended a temporary intrenchment of five or six miles from the Ionian to the jEgean sea. The confidence of the cities of Peloponnesus in their natural rampart, had tempted them to neglect the care of their antique walls; and the avarice of the Roman governors had exhausted
'Compare Herodotus, (lib. 7. c. 176.) and Livy, (36. 25.) The narrow entrance of Greece was probably enlarged by each successive ravisher.
l He passed, says Eunapius, (in Vit. Philosoph. p. 53. edit. Commelin, 1596.) through the straits, Sm -ran fu\m (of Thermopylae) TrupnAOiv, w<rir£p )io a-ralisv, tuu vttuv Tpt^OT.
h In obedience to Jerome and Claudian, (in Kufm. lib. 2. 191.) I have mixed some darker colours in the mild representation of Zosimus, who wished to soften the calamities of Athens.
Nec fera Cecropias traxissent vincula mattes.
Synesius (epist. 156. p. 272. edit. Petav.) observes, that Athens, whose sufferings he imputes to the proconsul's avarice, was at that time less famous for her schools of philosophy than for her trade of honey.
'Vallataman Scironia rupes,
Et duo continue connectens roquora muro
Isthmus Claudiaa de Bell. Getico, 188.
The Scironian rocks are described by Pausnnias, (lib. 1. c. 44. p. 107. edit. Kuhn) and our modem travellers, Wheler (p. 435.) and Chandler. .(p. 298.) Hadrian made the road passable for two carriages.