« ForrigeFortsett »
DEFEAT OP THE CTGIANS. [CH. XXXXT.
who had so long insulted the feeble race of Theodosius. Odoacer passed the Hadriaitic, 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.* , Notwithstanding the prudence and success of Odoacer, I his kingdom 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the winds and waves, t In the division and the decline of the empire, the tributary harvests of Egypt and Africa were withdrawn ; the numbers of the inhabitants continually diminished with the means of subsistence; and the country was exhausted by the irretrievable losses of war,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,J
to extend the power of the church, are ably shown in Zedler's Lexicon, 41. 711.—Ed.] * The wars of Odoacer are concisely men
tioned by Paul the deacon, (De Gest. Langobard. 1 . 1, c. 19, p. 757, edit. Grot.) and in the two Chronicles of Cassiodorus and Cuspinian. The life of St. Severinus, by Eugippius, which the count de Buat (Hist. des Peuples, &c., tom, viii, c. 1. 4. 8, 9) has diligently studied, illustrates the ruin of Noricum and the Bavarian antiquities. [We now see the work completed. So entirely was the Roman empire overthrown, that its barbarian conqueror is said to have proposed the abolition of its very name, and to have thought ot immortalizing his own by giving to the venerable city the new designation ol Odoacria. (Zedler, 25. 502.) Still we see no sudden darkness overspreading the land, no ruthless destroyers converting it into one wide desert. On the contrary, the state of Italy had so far improved, that security had succeeded to terror, and a regular, even a milder, government, to the capricious exactious of an impoverished tyranny. If "the sad prospect of misery and desolation" still deformed the scene, it waa not consequent on the great change; it had been there for ages before, nor could it be brightened all at once.—Ed.]
+ Tacit. Annal. 3. 53. The Recherches sur 1'Administration des Terres chez les Romains (p. 351—361), clearly state the progress of internal decay.
X A famine, which afflicted Italy at the time of the irruption ol Odoacer, king of the Heruli, is eloquently described iu prose and verse, by a French poet. (Les Hois, tom. ii, p. 174. 206, edit. in 12mo.) I am ignorant from whence he derives his information; but I am well A.D. 476-490.] MISEEABLE STATE OF ITALT.
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.* Pope Gelasius was a subject of Odoacer, and he affirms, with strong exaggeration, that in ^Emilia, Tuscany, and the adjacent provinces, the human species was almost extirpated.f The plebeians of Home, 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,J 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 distress of Italy was mitigated by the prudence and humanity of Odoacer, who had bound himself, as the price of his elevation, to satisfy the demands of a licentious and turbulent multitude. The kings of the barbarians were frequently resisted, deposed, or murdered, by their native subjects; and the various
assured that he relates some facts incompatible with the truth of history. * See the thirty-ninth epistle ot St. Ambrose, as it is
quoted by Muratori, sopra le Antichita Italiane, tom. i, Dissert. 21, 354. + ^Emilia, Tuscia, ceterseque provincial in quibus
minum prope nullus exsistit. Gelasius, Epist. ad Andromachum, ap Earonium, Annal. Eccles. A.d. 496, No. 36. J Yerumque
confitentibus, latifundia perdidere Italiam. Plin. Hist. Natur. 18. 7.
§ Such are the topics of consolation, or rather oi patience, which Cicero (ad Familiares, 1. 9, epist. 17) suggests to his friend Papirius Partus under the military despotism ot Ctcsar. The argument, however, of "vivere pulcherrimum duxi," is more forcibly addressed to a Roman philosopher, who possessed the ii-ee alternative of life or death.
THE MONASTIC LIFE. [OH. XXXVII.
bands of Italian mercenaries, who associated under the standard of an elective general, claimed a larger privilege of Ireedom and rapine. A monarchy destitute of national union, and hereditary right, hastened to its dissolution. After a reign of fourteen years, Odoacer was oppressed by the superior genius of Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, a hero alike excellent in the arts of war and of government, who restored an age of peace and prosperity, and whose name still excites and deserves the attention of mankind.
CHAPTER XXXVII. — Origin, Progress, And Effects Of The
MONASTIC LIFE. CONVERSION OF TIIE BARBARIANS TO CHRISTIANITY
AND ARIANR5M.—PERSECUTION OF THE VANDALS IN AFRICA.—EXTINCTION OF ARIANISM AMONG THE BARBARIANS.
The indissoluble connection of civil and ecclesiastical affairs has compelled and encouraged me to relate the progress, the persecutions, the establishment, the divisions, the final triumph, and the gradual corruption of Christianity. I have purposely delayed the consideration of two religious events, interesting in the study of human nature, and important in the decline and fall of the Iioman empire. I. The institution of the monastic life; • and, II. The conversion of the northern barbarians.
I. Prosperity and peace introduced the distinction of the vulgar and the Ascetic Christians.^ The loose and imperfect practice of religion satisfied the conscience of the multitude. The prince or magistrate, the soldier or mer
* The origin of the monastic institution has been laboriously discussed by Thomassin, (Discipline de l'Eglise, tom. i, p. 1419—1426) and Helyot, (Hist. des Ordres Monastiques, tom. i, p. 1—66.) These authors are very learned and tolerably honest, and their difference of opinion shows the subject in its full extent. Yet the cautious Protestant, who distrusts any Popish guides, may consult the seventh book of Bingham's Christian Antiquities.
t See Euseb. Demonstrat. Evangel. (1. 1, p. 20, 21, edit. Grsec. Eob. Stephani, Paris, 1545.) In his Ecclesiastical History, published twelve years after the Demonstration, Eusebius (1 . 2, c. 17) asserts the Christianity of the Therapeutic; but he appears ignorant that a similar institution was actually revived in Egypt. [Neander (Hist. ol Chris. Vol. iii, p. 323) justly remarks that "the ascetic tendency cannot, in X.b. 251-356.] Oeight Of The Sioxks.
chant, reconciled their fervent zeal, and implicit faith. with the exercise of their profession, the pursuit ol their interest, and the indulgence of their passions; but the Ascetics, who obeyed and abused the rigid precepts of the gospel, were inspired by. the savage enthusiasm, which represents man as a criminal and God as a tyrant. They seriously renounced the business and the pleasures of the age; abjured the use of wine, of flesh, and of marriage; chastised their body, mortified their affections, and embraced a life of misery, as the price of eternal happiness. In the reign of Constantine, the Ascetics fled from a profane and degenerate world, to perpetual solitude, or religious society. Like the fir3t Christians of Jerusalem,* they resigned the use, or the property, of their temporal possessions; established regular communities ol the same sex, and a similar disposition; and assumed the names of Hermits, Monks, and Anachorets, expressive of their lonely retreat in a natural or artificial desert. They soon acquired the respect of the world, which they despised; and the loudest applause was bestowed
itself considered, be regarded as a phenomenon peculiar to Christianity and springing simply out of the spirit of this religion. Something like it is to be found in other religions." Not only in other religions, but in human nature itself. Amid our endless varieties of temper and character, there always will be some more or less disposed to seek retirement from the world. The studious, the toil-worn, the persecuted, the disappointed, the disgusted, all in their own way, withdraw into a solitude where they may escape the cares of social life. Christianity undoubtedly favoured this tendency, by encouraging in its . earnest professors a desire to avoid the contamination of licentious I manners. Mosheim (Institutes, 1. 167) assumes it to be almost coeval with the religion itself, and to have originated in the wish of the earliest Greek believers to assimilate themselves to the Pythagoreans and Flatonists of the day, who aSected a rigid austerity of manners and a sublime dignity of deportment. Like those, the zealous converts desired to elevate themselves to a position where they might "live above nature," and prove the moral superiority to which they laid claim. The connection between primitive Christianity and philosophy, is generally denied by Mosheim; but this very explanation aflords additional evidence of a fact so extensively and lucidly indicated by other circumstances. The monastic system (the organized form of asceticism), would not, however, have grown to such consistency and importance, had not the hierarchy perceived that these devotees might be used, not merely as a defensive, but also as an aggressive host, to fortify and extend their authority.—Ed.]
* Cassian (Collat. 18. 5) claims this origin for the institution of the Coenobites, which gradually decayed till it was restored by Antony and his disciples.
on this Divine Philosophy,* which surpassed, without the aid of science or reason, the laborious virtues of the Grecian schools. The monks might indeed contend with the Stoics, in the contempt of fortune, of pain, and of death: the Pythagorean silence and submission were revived in their servile discipline; and they disdained as firmly as the Cynics themselves all the forms and decencies of civil society. But the votaries of this divine philosophy aspired to imitate a purer and more perfect model. They trod in the footsteps of the prophets, who had retired to the desert ;t and they restored the devout and contemplative life, which had been instituted by the Essenians, in Palestine and Egypt. The philosophic eye of Pliny had surveyed with astonishment a solitary people, who dwelt among the palm-trees near the Dead Sea; who subsisted without money, who were propagated without women, and who derived from the disgust and repentance of mankind, a perpetual supply of voluntary associates.J r Egypt, the fruitful parent of superstition, afforded the first ! example of the monastic life. Antony,§ an illiterate^ youth
* QQeXtpwrarov yap Ti xprtpo tig avBpwirovc tX8ouaa irapa Oiov i) Toiavrr) ipikoffoipia. These are the expressive words of Sozomen, who copiously and agreeably describes (1. 1, c. 12—14) the origin and progress of this monkish philosophy. (See Suicer. Thesaur. Eceles. tom. ii, p. 1441.) Some modern writers, Lipsius, (tom. iv, p. 448. Manuduct. ad Philos. Stoic. 3. 13) and La Mothe le Vayer (tom. ix, de la Vertu des Payens, p. 228—262), have compared the Carmelites to the Pythagoreans, and the Cynics to the Capuchins.
+ The Carmelites derive their pedigree, in regular succession, from the prophet Elijah. (See the Theses of Beziers, A.d. 1682, in Bayle's Nouvelles de la Republique des Lettres, CEuvrea, tom. i, p. 82, &c. and the prolix irony of the Ordres Monastiques, an anonymous work, tom. i, p. 1—433, Berlin, 1751.) Home and the inquisition of Spain silenced the profane criticism of the Jesuits of Flanders (Helyot, Hist, des Ordres Monastiques, tom. i, p. 282—300); and the statue of Elijah, the Carmelite, has been erected in the church of St. Peter. (Voyages du P. Labat. tom. iii, p. 87.) J Plin. Hist. Natur.
6. 15. Gens sola, et in toto orbe prseter cseteras mira, sine ulla femin&, omni venere abdicatS, sine pecuuia, socia palmarum. Ita per seculorum millia (incredibile dictu) gens seterna est in qua nemo nascitur. Tam foecunda illis aliorum vitas poenitentia eat. He places them just beyond the noxious influence of the lake, and names Engaddi and Masada as the nearest towns. The Laura, and monastery of St. Sabas, could not be far distant from this place. See Reland. Palestin. tom. i, p. 295; tom. ii, p. 763. 874. 880. 890. § See Athanas. Op.
tom, ii, p. 450—505, and the Vit. Patrum, p. 26—74, with Rosweyde's Annotations. The former is the Greek original; the latter, a very ancient Latin version by Evagrius, the friend of St. Jerome.
K rpd/j/xora plv p&Quv Ovk i)vi<JxtT0' Athanas. torn, ii, in Vit.