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the blockade of Eavenna, he was surprised by the arrival of two ambassadors from Constantinople, with a treaty of peace, which Justinian had imprudently signed, without deigning to consult the author of his victory. By this disgraceful and precarious agreement, Italy and the Gothic treasure were divided, and the provinces beyond the Po were left with the regal title to the successor of Theodoric. The ambassadors were eager to accomplish their salutary commission; the captive Vitiges accepted, with transport, the unexpected offer of a crown; honour was less prevalent among the Goths than the want and appetite of food; and the Roman chiefs, who murmured at the continuance of the war, professed implicit submission to the commands of the emperor. If Belisarius had possessed only the courage of a soldier, the laurel would have been snatched from his hand by timid and envious counsels; but, in this decisive moment, he resolved, with the magnanimity of a statesman, to sustain alone the danger and merit of generous disobedience. Each of his officers gave a written opinion, that the siege of Eavenna was impracticable and hopeless: the general then rejected the treaty of partition, and declared his own resolution of leading Vitiges in chains to the feet of Justinian. The Goths retired with doubt and dismay: this peremptory refusal deprived them of the only signature which they could trust, and filled their minds with a just apprehension, that a sagacious enemy had discovered the full extent of their deplorable state. They eompared the fame and fortune of Belisarius with the weakness of their ill-fated king; and the comparison suggested an extraordinary project, to which Vitiges, with apparent resignation, was compelled to acquiesce. Partition would ruin the strength, exile would disgrace the honour, of the nation; but they offered their arms, their treasures, and the fortifications of Eavenna, if Belisarius would disclaim the authority of a master, accept the choice of the Goths, and assume, as he had deserved, the kingdom
A. 259, &o.) and Florua (1 . 2, c . 20, No. 7, ult.); and in the other, the examples of Solon (Pausanias, 1. 10, c. 37) and Belisarius. See his great work De Jure Belli et Paeis, 1. 3, c. 4, s. 15—17, and in Barbeyrac's version, tom, ii, p. 257, &c. Yet I can understand the benefit and validity of an agreement, tacit or express, mutually to abstain from certain modes of hostility. See the Amphictyooic oath in Escbines, de Falsa Legatione.
430 BELISAEirs ENTEES EAYENNA. [CH. 3X1.
of Italy. If the false lustre of a diadem could have tempted the loyalty of a faithful subject, his prudence must have foreseen the inconstancy of the barbarians, and his rational ambition would prefer the safe and honourable station of a Roman general. Even the patience and seeming satisfaction with which he entertained a proposal of treason, might be susceptible of a malignant interpretation. But the lieutenant of Justinian was conscious of his own rectitude: he entered into a dark and crooked path, as it might lead to the voluntary submission of the Goths; and his dexterous policy persuaded them that he was disposed to comply with their wishes, without engaging an oath or a promise for the performance of a treaty which he secretly abhorred. The day of the surrender of Ravenna was stipulated by the Gothic ambassadors: a fleet, laden with provisions, sailed as a welcome guest into the deepest recess of the harbour: the gates were opened to the fancied king of Italy; and Belisarius, without meeting an enemy, triumphantly marched through the streets of an impregnable city.* The Romans were astonished by their success; the multitudes of tall and robust barbarians were confounded by the image of their own patience; and the masculine females, spitting in the faces of their sons and husbands, most bitterly reproached them for betraying their dominion and freedom to these pigmies of the south, contemptible in their numbers, diminutive in their stature. Before the Goths could recover from their first surprise, and claim the accomplishment of their doubtful hopes, the victor established his power in Ravenna, beyond the danger of repentance and revolt. Vitiges, who perhaps had attempted to escape, was honourably guarded in his palace ;f the flower of the Gothic
* Ravenna was taken, not in the year 540, but in the latter end of 539; and Pagi (tom. ii, p. 569) is rectified by Muratori (Annali d'ltalia, tom. v, p. 62), who proves, from an original act on papyrus, (Antiquit. Italise Medii JEvi, tom. ii, dissert. 32, p. 999—1007. Maffei, Istoria Diplomat. p. 155—160,) that before the 3d of January, 540, peace and free correspondence were restored between Ravenna and Faenza.
+ He was seized by John the Sanguinary, but an oath or sacrament was pledged for his safety in the Basilica Julii. (Hist. Miscel1 . 1 . 17, in Muratori, tom. i, p. 107.) Anastasius (in Vit. Pont. p. 40,) gives a dark but probable account. Montfaucon is quoted by Hascou (Hist. of the Germans, 12,21) for a votive shield representing the captivity of Vitiges, and now in the collection of Signor Landi at Rome.
youth was selected for the service of the emperor; the remainder of the people was dismissed to their peaceful habitations in the southern provinces; and a colony of Italians was invited to replenish the depopulated city. The submission of the capital was imitated in the towns and villages of Italy, which had not been subdued, or even visited, by the Romans; and the independent Goths, who remained in arms at Pavia and Verona, were ambitious only to become the subjects of Belisarius. But his inflexible loyalty rejected, except as the substitute of Justinian, their oaths of allegiance; and he was not offended by the reproach of their deputies, that he rather chose to be a slave than a king.
After the second victory of Belisarius, envy again whispered, Justinian listened, and the hero was recalled. "The remnant of the Gothic war was no longer worthy of his presence: a gracious sovereign was impatient to reward his services, and to consult his wisdom: and he alone was capable of defending the East against the innumerable armies of Persia." Belisarius understood the suspicion, accepted the excuse, embarked at Ravenna his spoils and trophies; and proved, by his ready obedience, that such an abrupt removal from the government of Italy was not less unjust than it might have been indiscreet. The emperor received, with honourable courtesy, both Vitiges and his more noble consort: and as the king of the Goths conformed to the Athanasian faith, he obtained with a rich inheritance of lands in Asia, the rank of senator and patrician.* Every spectator admired, without peril, the strength and stature of the young barbarians: they adored the majesty of the throne, and promised to shed their blood in the service of their benefactor. Justinian deposited in the Byzantine palace the treasures of the Gothic monarchy. A flattering senate was sometimes admitted to gaze on the magnificent spectacle; but it was enviously secluded from the public view; and the conqueror of Italy renounced, without a murmur, perhaps without a sigh, the well-earned honours of a second triumph. His glory was indeed ex
* Vitiges lived two years at Constantinople, and, imperatoris in affeotu convictus (or conjunctus) rebus exoessit humanis. His widow, Mathamintha, the wife and mother of the patricians, the elder and younger Germanus, united the streams of Anician and Aniali blood.
sited above all external pomp: and the faint and hollow praises of the court were supplied, even in a servile age, by the respect and admiration of his country. Whenever he appeared in the streets and public places of Constantinople, Be li sarins attracted and satisfied the eyes of the people. His lofty stature and majestic countenance fulfilled their expectations of a hero; the meanest of his fellow-citizens were emboldened by his gentle and gracious demeanour; and the martial train which attended his foosteps left his person more accessible than in a day of battle. Seven thousand horsemen, matchless for beauty and valour, were maintained in the service, and at the private expense, of the general.* Their prowess was always conspicuous in single combats, or in the foremost ranks; and both parties confessed, that in the siege of Rome, the guards of Belisarius had alone vanquished the barbarian host. Their numbers were continually augmented by the bravest and most faithful of the enemy; and his fortunate captives, the Vandals, the Moors, and the Goths, emulated the attachment of his domestic followers. By the union of liberality and justice, he acquired the love of the soldiers, withoutalienating the affections of the people. The sick and wounded were relieved with medicines and money; and still more efficaciously, by the healing visits and smiles of their commander. The loss of a weapon or a horse was instantly repaired, and each deed of valour was rewarded by the rich and honourable gifts of a bracelet or a collar, which were rendered more precious by the judgment of Belisarius. He was endeared to the husbandmen, by the peace and plenty which they enjoyed under the shadow of his standard. Instead of being injured, the country was enriched by the march of the Roman armies; and such was the rigid discipline of their camp, that not an apple was gathered from the tree, not a path could be traced in the fields of corn. Belisarius was chaste and sober. In the license of a military life, none could boast that they had
(Jornandes, e. 60, p. 221, in Muratori, torn, i.) * Prooopiua,
Goth. 1. 3, c. 1. Aimoin, a French monk of the eleventh century, who had obtained, and has disfigured, some authentic information of Belisarius, mentions, in his name, twelve thousand pueri or slaves— quos propriis alimus stipendiis—besides eighteen thousand soldiers. (Historians of France, tom. iu. De Gestis Franc . 1. 2, c. 6, p. 48.)
S.D. 538.] SECEET HISTOEY OF HIS WIFE AlfTONINA. 433
seen him intoxicated with wine: the most beautiful captives of Gothic or Vandal race were oifered to his embraces; but he turned aside from their charms, and the husband of Antonina was never suspected of violating the laws of conjugal fidelity. The spectator and historian of his exploits has observed, that amidst the perils of war, he was daring without rashness, prudent without fear, slow or rapid according to the exigencies of the moment; that in the deepest distress he was animated by real or apparent hope, but that he was modest and humble in the most prosperous fortune. By these virtues, he equalled or excelled the ancient masters of the military art. Victory, by sea and land, attended his arms, He subdued Africa, Italy, and the adjacent islands; led away captives the successors of Genseric and Theodoric; filled Constantinople with the spoils of their palaces, and in the space of six years recovered half the provinces of the Western empire. In his fame and merit, in wealth and power, he remained without a rival, the first of the .Roman subjects: the voice of envy could only magnify his dangerous importance; and the emperor might applaud his own discerning spirit which had discovered and raised the genius of Belisarius.
It was the custom of the Eoman triumphs, that a slave should be placed behind the chariot to remind the conqueror of the instability of fortune, and the infirmities of human nature. Procopius, . in his Anecdotes, has assumed that servile and ungrateful office. The generous reader may cast away the libel, but the evidence ot facts will adhere to his memory; and he will reluctantly confess, that the fame, and even the virtue, of Belisarius, were polluted by the lust and cruelty of his wife; and that the hero deserved an appellation which may not drop from the pen of the decent historian. The mother of Antonina * was a theatrical prostitute, and both her father and grandfather exercised at Thessalonica and Constantinople the vile, though lucrative, profession of charioteers. In the various situations of their fortune, she became the companion, the enemy, the servant, and the favourite of tbe
* The diligence of Alemannus could add but little to the four firsi and most curious chapters of the Anecdotes. Of these strange Aneo" dotes, a part may be true, because probable—and a part true, becau* improbable. Procopius must have known the former, and the latt»!
TOL. IV. 2 E