« ForrigeFortsett »
thousand pieces of gold, and assigned the castle of Lucullus, in Campania, for the place of his exile or retirement." 1 As soon as the Romans breathed from the toils of the .Punic war, they were attracted by the beauties and the pleasures of Campania; and the country-house of the elder Scipio at Liternum, exhibited a lasting model of their rustic simplicity." The delicious shores of the bay of Naples were crowded with villas; and Sylla applauded the masterly skill of his rival, who had seated himself on the lofty promontory of Misenum, that commands, on every side, the sea and land, as far as the boundaries of the horizon.0 The villa of Marius was purchased, within a few years, by Lucullus, and the price had increased from two thousand five hundred, to more than fourscore thousand, pounds sterling.p It was adorned by the new proprietor with Grecian arts and Asiatic treasures; and the houses and gardens of Lucullus obtained a distinguished rank in the list of imperial palaces.q When the Vandals became formidable to the sea-coast, the Lucullan villa, on the promontory of Misenum, gradually assumed the strength and appellation of a strong castle, the obscure retreat of the last emperor of the west. About twenty years after that great revolution, it was converted into a church and monastry, to receive the bones of St. Severinus. They securely reposed, amidst the broken trophies of Cimbric and Armenian victories, till the beginning of the tenth century; when the fortifications, which might afford a dangerous shelter to the Saracens, were demolished by the people of Naples/
m Ingrediens autem Ravennam deposuit Augustulum da icgno, cujus infantiam misertus concessit ci sanguinem; et quia pulcher erat, lumen donavit ei reditum sei mi Ilia solidos, et misiteum intra Campaniam cum parentibus suis libere vivere. 'Anonym. Vales- p. 716. Jomandes says, (c. 46. p. 660.) in LucuUano Campania e castello ciilii pinia damnavit .
"See the eloquent Declamation of Seneca, (epist. 86.) The philosopher might have recollected, that all luxury is relative; and that the elder Scipio, whose manners were polished by study and conversation, was himself accused of that vice by his ruder contemporaries. (Livy, 29. 19.)
« Sylla, in the language of a soldier, praised his peritia costrametmdi. (Plin. Hist. Natur. 18. 7.) Phaedms, who makes its shady walki (lirta viridia) the scene of an insipid fable, (2. 5.) hai thus described the situation: Caesar Tiberius quam petens Neapolim, In Misenensem villam venisset suam; Qun montc aumrao posita Luculli manu Prospectat Siculum et prospicit Tuscum mare.
i From seven myriads and a half to two hundred and fifty myriads of drachmae. Yet even in the possession of Marius, it was a luxurious retirement. The Romans derided his indolence: they soon bewailed his activity. See Plutarch, in Mario, tom. 2. p. 5t4.
i Lucullus had other villas of equal though various magnificence, at Bai&, Naples, Tusculum, &c. He boasted that he changed his climate with the storks and cranes. 1'lutaich, in Lucull. tom. 3. p. 193.
VOL. IV. 2 C
Odoacer was the first barbarian who reigned
Decay of ° j
the Roman in Italy, over a people who had once asserted "'"" their just superiority above the rest of mankind. The disgrace of the Romans still excites our respectful compassion, and we fondly sympathize with the imaginary grief and indignation of their degenerate posterity. But the calamities of Italy had gradually subdued the proud consciousness of freedom and glory. In the age of Roman virtue, the provinces were subject to the arms, and the citizens to the laws, of the republic; till those laws were subverted by civil discord, and both the city and the provinces became the servile property of a tyrant. The forms of the constitution, which alleviated or disguised their abject slavery, were abolished by time and violence; the Italians alternately lamented the presence or the absence of the sovereigns, whom they detested or despised; and the succession of five centuries inflicted the various evils of military licence, capricious despotism, and elaborate oppression. During the same period, the barbarians had emerged from obscurity and contempt, and the warriors of Germany and Scythia were introduced into the provinces, as the servants, the allies, and at length the masters, of the Romans, whom they insulted or protected. The hatred of the people was suppressed by fear; they respected the spirit and splendour of the martial chiefs who were invested with the honours of the empire; and the fate of Rome had long depended on the sword of those formidable strangers. The stern Ricimer, who trampled on the ruins of Italy, had exercised the power, without assuming the title, of a king; and the patient Romans were insensibly prepared to acknowledge the royalty of Odoacer and his barbaric successors. Character The king of Italy was not unworthy of the andreignof high- station to which his valour and fortune
r Severinus died in Noricum, A. D. 482. Si* years afterward, his body .which scattered miracles as it passed, was transported by his disciples into Italy. Thr devotion of a Neapolitan lady invited the saint to the Lucullan villa, in the place of Augustulus, who was probably no more. See Baronius (Annal. Eccles. A. D. 496. no. 50, 51.) and Tillfimont, (Mem. Eccles. tom. 16.'p. 178—181.) from the original life by Eugipius. The narrative of the last migration of Severinus to Naples, is likewise an authentic piece.
A.d. 476 had exalted him; his savage manners were polished by the habits of conversation; and he respected, though a conqueror and a barbarian, the institutions, and even the prejudices, of his subjects. After an interval of seven years, Odoacer restored the consulship of the west. For himself, he modestly, or proudly, declined an honour which was still accepted by the emperors of the east; but the curule chair was successively filled by eleven of the most illustrious senators;' and the Irst is adorned by the respectable name of Basilius, whose virtues claimed the friendship and grateful applause of Sidonius, his client.' The laws of the emperors were strictly enforced, and the civil administration of Italy was still exercised by the praetorian prefect, and his subordinate officers. Odoacer devolved on the Roman magistrates the odious and oppressive task of collecting the public revenue; but he reserved for himself the merit of seasonable and popular indulgence." Like the rest of the barbarians, he had been instructed in the Arian heresy; but he revered the monastic and episcopal characters; and the silence of the Catholics attests the toleration which they enjoyed. The peace of the city required the interposition of his prefect Basilius in the choice of a Roman pontiff: the decree which restrained the clergy from alienating'their lands, was ultimately designed for the benefit of the people whose devotion would have been taxed to repair the dilapidations of the church/ Italy was protected by the arms of its conqueror; and its frontiers were respected by the barbarians of Gaul and Germany, who had so long insulted the feeble race of Theodosius. Odoacer passed the Hadriatic, to chastise the assassins of the emperor Nepos, and to acquire the maritime province of Dalmatia. He passed the Alps, to rescue the remains of Noricum from Fava, or Feletheus, king of the Rugians, who held his residence beyond the Danube. The king was vanquished in battle, and led away prisoner; a numerous colony of captives and subjects was transplanted into Italy; and Rome, after a long period of defeat and disgrace, might claim the triumph of her barbarian master. y Miserable Notwithstanding the prudence and success of state of Odoacer, this kingdon exhibited the sad prospect of misery and desolation. Since the age of Tiberius, the decay of agriculture had been felt in Italy; and it was a just subject of complaint, that the life of the Roman people depended on the accidents of the winds and waves.1 In the division and decline of the empire, the tributary harvests of Egypt and Africa were withdrawn; the numbers of the inhabitants continually diminished with the means of subsistence; and the country was exhausted by the irretrievable losses of war, famine,* and pestilence. St. Ambrose has deplored the ruin of a populous district, which had been once adorned with the flourishing cities of Bologna, Modena, Regium, and Placentia.b Pope Gelasius was a subject of Odoacer, and he affirms, with strong exaggeration, that in .ZEmilia, Tuscany, and the adjacent provinces, the human species was almost extirpated.0 The plebeians of Rome, who were fed by the hand of their master, perished or disappeared, as soon as his liberality was suppressed; the decline of the arts reduced the industrious mechanic to idleness and want; and the senators, who might support with patience the ruin of their country, bewailed their private loss of wealth and luxury. One-third of those ample estates, to which the ruin of Italy is originally imputed/ was extorted for the use of the conquerors. Injuries were aggravated by insults; the sense of actual sufferings was imbittered by the fear of more dreadful evils; and as new lands were allotted to new swarms of barbarians, each senator was apprehensive lest the arbitrary surveyors should approach his favourite villa, or his most profitable farm. The least unfortunate were those who submitted without a murmur to the power which it was impossible to resist. Since they desired to live, they owed some gratitude to the tyrant who had spared their lives; and since he was the absolute master of their fortunes, the portion which he left must be accepted as his pure and voluntary gift."
• The consular Fasti may be found in Pagi or Muratori. The consuls named by Odoacer, or perhaps by the Roman senate, appear to have been acknowledged in the eastem empire.
'Sidonius Apollinarifl (lib. 1. cpist. 9. p. 22. edit. Sirmond) has compared the two leading senators of Ma time, (A. D. 468.) Gennadius Avienus and Caecina Basilius. To the former he assigns the specious, to the latter the solid, virtues of public and private life. A. Basilius, junior, possibly his son, was consul in the year 480.
° Epiphanius interceded for the people of Pavia; and the king first granted an indulgence of five years, and afterward relieved them from the oppression of Pelagius, the praetorian prefect. (Ennodius, in Vit. St. Epiphan. in Sirmond.Oper. tom. 1. p. 1670.1672.)
* See Baronius, Aimal. Eccles. A. D. 483. no. 10—15. Sixteenyears afterward, the irregular proceedings of Basilius were condemned by pope Symmachos in a Roman synod.
f The wars of Odoacer are concisely mentioned by Paul the deacon, (de Gest. Langobard. lib. 1. c. 19. p. -757. edit. Grot.) and in the two Chronicles of Cassiodorius and Cuspinian. The life of St. Severinus, by Eugipius, which the count de Huat (Hist. des Peuples, &c. tom. 8. c. 184.108.40.206.) has diligently studied, illustrates the ruin of Noricum and the Bavarian antiquities.
* Tacit. Annul. 3.53. The Recherches sur I'A i! minis! ration des Terres chez let Koto runs, (p- 351.—361.) clearly state the progress of intemal decay.
» A famine, which afflicted Italy at the time of the irruption of Odoacer, king of the Hemli, ia eloquently described in prose and verse, by a French poet. (Les Mois, tom. 2. p. 174.206. edit. in 12mo.) I am ignorant from whence he derives his information; but I am well assured that he relates some facts incompatible with the troth of history.
11 See the thirty-ninth epistle of St. Ambrose, as it is quoted by Mum tori, sopra le Aatichita Itahane, tom. 1. Dissert. 21. p. 354.
'"• /Emilin, Tnscia,ceteneque provinciae in quibushominum prope nullus exsistit. Gelasius, Epist. ad Andromachum, ap. Baroniura, Annal. Eccles. A. D. 496. no. 36.
d Verumque confitentibus, latifundia perdidere Italiam. Plin. Hist. Natur. 18. 7.
« Such are the topics of consolation, or rather of patience, which Cicero (ad Familiares, lib. 9. epist. 17.) suggests to his friend Papirlus Paetus under the military despotism of Osar. The argument, however, of "vivere pulcherrimum duxi," is more forcibly addressed to a Roman philosopher, who possessed the free altemative of life or death.