which admit the entrance of vessels through some secret and narrow channels.11 Till the middle of the fifth century, these remote and sequestered spots remained without cultivation, with a few inhabitants, and almost without a name. But the manners of die Venetian fugitives, their arts and their government, were gradually formed by their new situation; and one of the epistles of Cassiodorius,' which describes their condition about seventy years afterward, may be considered as the primitive monument -of the republic. The minister of Theodoric compares them, in his quaint declamatory style, to water-fowl, who had fixed their nests Ob the bosom of the waves; and though he allows, that the Venetiaan provinces had formerly contained many noble families, he insinuates, that they were now reduced by misfortune to the same level of humble poverty. Fish was the common, and almost the universal, food of every rank: their only treasure consisted in the plenty of salt, which they extracted from the sea: and the exchange of that commodity, 80 essential to human life, was substituted in the neighbouring markets to the currency of gold and silver. A people, whose habitations might be doubtfully assigned to the earth ot water, soon became alike familiar with the two elements; and the demands of avarice succeeded to those of necessity. The islanders, who, from Grado to Chiozza, were intimately connected with each other, penetrated into the heart of Italy, by the secure, though laborious navigation of rivers and inland canals. Their vessels, which were continually increasing in size and number, visited all the harbours of the gulf; and the marriage, which Venice annually celebrates with the Hadriatic, was contracted in her early infancy. The epistle of Cassiodorius, the praetorian prefect, is addressed to the maritime tribunes; and he exhorts them, in a mild tone of authority, to animate the zeal of their countrymen for the public service, which required their assistance to transport the magazines of wine and oil from the province of Istria to the royal city of Ravenna. The ambiguous office of these magistrates is explained by the tradition, that, in the twelve principal islands, twelve tribunes, or judges, were created by an annual and popular election. The existence of the Venetian republic, under the Gothic kingdom of Italy, is attested by the same authentic record, which annihilates their lofty claim of original and perpetual independence." Attiia The Italians, who had long since renounced Pves the exercise of arms, were surprised, after forty the Ro- years' peace, by the approach of a formidable barbarian, whom they abhorred, as the enemy of their religion, as well as of their republic. Amidst the general consternation, JEtius alone was incapable of fear; but it was impossible that he should achieve alone, and unassisted, any military exploits worthy of his former renown. The barbarians, who had defended Gaul, refused to march to the relief of Italy; and the succours promised by the eastern emperor were distant and doubtful. Since /Etius, at the head of his domestic troops, still maintained the field, and harassed or retarded the march of Attiia, he never shewed himself more truly great, than at the time when his conduct was blamed by an ignorant and ungrateful people." If the

k The topography and antiquities of the Venetian islands, from Grados to Clodia, or Chioggia, are accurately stated in the Dissert at i< ' Chorographica de Italil Medii JEvi, p. 151—155.

1 Cassiodor. Variar.lib. 12. epist. 24. Maffei (Verona Illustrata, part 1. p.-1'1 —254.) has translated and explained this curious letter, in the spirit of a leamed antiquarian and a faithful subject, who considered Venice as the only legitimate offspring of the Roman republic. He fixes the date of the epistle, and consequently the prefecture, of Casswdorius, A. D. 523. and the Marquis's authority has the more weight, as he had prepared an edition of his works, and actually published a dissertation on the true orthography of his name. See Osserrazioni Litteraire, tom. 2. p. 290—339.

•' See, in the second volume of Ardelot de la Houssale Histoire du Gouvemeni. m de Venise, a translation of the'famous Squittinio. This book, which has been exalted fat above its merits, is stained in every line with the disingenuous malevolence of party: but the principal evidence, genuine and apocryphal, is brought together, and the reader will easily choose the fair medium.

"Sirmond (Not. ad Sidon. Apollin. p. 19.) has published a curious passage from the Chronicle of Prosper. Attiia redintegratis viribus, quaa in Gallia amiserat, Italia ingredi per Pannonias intendit- nihil duce nostro -Kuu secundum prioris

mind of Valentinian had been susceptible of any generous sentiments, he would have chosen such a general for his example and his guide. But the timid grandson of Theodosius, instead of sharing the dangers, escaped from the sound of war; and his hasty retreat from Ravenna to Rome, from an impregnable fortress, to an open capital, betrayed his secret intention of abandoning Italy, as soon as the danger should approach his imperial person. This shameful abdication was suspended, however, by the spirit of doubt and delay, which commonly adheres to pusillanimous counsels, and sometimes corrects their pernicious tendency. The western emperor, with the senate and people of Rome, embraced the more salutary resolution of deprecating, by a solemn and suppliant embassy, the wrath of Attila. This important commission was accepted by Avienus, who, from his birth and riches, his consular dignity, the numerous train of his clients, and his personal abilities, held the first rank in the Roman senate. The specious and artful character of Avienus," was admirably qualified to conduct a negotiation either of public or private interest: his colleague Trigetius had exercised the praetorian prefecture of Italy; and Leo, bishop of Rome, consented to expose his life for the safety of his flock. The genius of Leop was exercised and displayed in the public misfortunes; and he has deserved the appellation of great, by the successful zeal with which he laboured to establish his opinions and his authority, under the venerable names of orthodox faith and ecclesiastical discipline. The Roman ambassadors were introduced to the tent of Attila, as he lay encamped at the place where the slow-winding Mincius is lost in the foaming waves of the lake Benacus,q and trampled, with the Scythian cavalry, the farms of Catullus and Virgil/ The barbarian monarch listened with favourable, and even respectful, attention; and the deliverance of Italy was purchased by the immense ransom, or dowry, of the princess Honoria. The state of his army might facilitate the treaty, and hasten his retreat. Their martial spirit was relaxed by the wealth and indolence of a warm climate. The shepherds of the north, whose ordinary food consisted of milk and raw flesh, indulged themselves too freely in the use of bread, of wine, and of meat prepared and seasoned by the arts of cookery: and the progress of disease revenged in some measure the injuries of the Italians.' When Attila declared his resolution of carrying his victorious arms to the gates of Rome, he was admonished by his friends, as well as by his enemies, that Alaric had not long survived the conquest of the eternal city. His mind, superior to real danger, was assaulted by imaginary terrors; nor could he escape the influence of superstition, which had so often been subservient to his designs.' The pressing eloquence of Leo, his majestic aspect, and sacerdotal robes, excited the veneration of Attila for the spiritual father of the Christians. The apparition of the two apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, who menaced the barbarian with instant death, if he rejected the prayer of their successor, is one of the noblest legends of ecclesiastical tradition. The safety of Rome might deserve the interposition of celestial beings; and some indulgence is due to a fable, which has been represented by the pencil of Raphael, and the chisel of Algardi.u

belli opera prospiciente, ice. He reproaches .-V.tiu- with neglecting to guard the Alps, and with a design to abandon Italy; but this rash censure may at least be counterbalanced by the favourable testimonies of Idatius and Isidore.

0 See the original portraits of Avienus, anfl his rival Basilius, delineated and contrasted in the epistles (1. 9. p. 22.) of Sidonius. He had studied the characters of the two chiefs of the senate; but he attached himself to Basilius, Sl» the more solid and disinterested friend.

P The character and principles of Leo may be traced in one hundred and fortyone original epistles, which illustrate the ecclesiastical history of this long and busy pontificate, from A.D. 440 to 461. See Unpin, Bibliotheque Ecclesiastique, tom. 3. part t. p. 120—165.

• tardis ingens ubi llrxilms

Minriiu, et tenera pnetexic urumlim: ripas

Anne lacus tantos, te Lari maximr, teque
Fluctibus, et fremitu assurgens Benace marino.

• The M:iri|uis Maffei(Verona Illustrata,part 1. p. 95.129.221; part 2. p. 2.6.) has illustrated with taste and leaming this mteresting topography. He places the interview of Attila and St. Leo near Ariolica, or Ardelica, now Peschiera, at the conflux of the lake and river; ascertains the villa of Catullus in the delightful peninsula of Sarmio, and discovers the Andes of Virgil, in the village of Bandes, precisely situate qua se subducere colles incipiunt, where the Veronese hills imperceptibly slope down into the plain of Mantua.

• Si statim infesto agmine urbem petiissent, grande discrimen esset: sed in Venetiaquo fere tractu Italia molissima est, ipsa soli ccelique dementia robur elanguit. Adhoc panis usfi camisque coctae, et dulccdine vini mitigates, &c. This passage of Floras (3. 3.) is still more applicable to the Huns than to the Cimbri, and it may serve as a commentary on the celestial plague, with which Idatius and Isidore have afflicted the troops of Attila.

'The historian Priscus had positively mentioned the effect which this example produced on the mind of Attila. Jomandes.c. 42. p. 673.

( Before the king of the Huns evacuated Italy, of Attiin, he threatened to return more dreadful, and more implacable, if his bride, the princess Honoria was not delivered to his ambassadors within the term stipulated by the treaty. Yet, in the meanwhile, Attila relieved his tender anxiety, by adding a beautiful maid, whose name was Ildico, to the list of his innumerable wives/ Their marriage was celebrated with barbaric pomp and festivity, at his wooden palace beyond the Danube; and the monarch, oppressed with wine and sleep, retired at a late hour, from the banquet to the nuptial bed. His attendants continued to respect his pleasures, or his repose, the greatest part of the ensuing day, till the unusual silence alarmed their fears and suspicions; and, after attempting to awaken Attila by loud and repeated cries, they at length broke into the royal apartment. They found the trembling bride sitting by the bedside, hiding her face with her veil,

TM The picture of Raphael is in the Vatican; the basso (or perhaps the alto) relievo of Algardi, on one of the altars of St. Peter, (see Dubos, Reflexions sur la la Poiisie et sur ea Peinture, tom. i. p. 519, 520.) fiaronius (Annal. Kccles. A.D. •152. no. 57,58.) bravely sustains the truth of the apparition; which is rejected, however, by the most leamed and pious Catholics.

* Attila, ut Prjscus historicus refert, extinctionis suae tempore, puellam Ildico nomine, decoram valde, sibi matrimonimn post innumerabiles uxores . . . socians. Jomandes. c. 49. p. 683, 684. He afterward adds, (c. 50. p. 686.) Filii Attila?, quorum per licentiam libidinis pcene populus fuit. Polygamy has been established among the Tartars of every age. The rank of plebeian wives is regulated only by their personal charms: and the faded matron prepares, without a murmur, the bed which is destined for her blooming rival. But in royal families, the daughters of khans communicate to their sons a prior right of inheritance. See Genealogical History, p. 106—-«>8.

« ForrigeFortsett »