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VOL. IV. a 

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Oxford University Press Warehouse 
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Authorities .... 
535 Troops sent to Dalmatia under command of 
MunduB .... 

Belisarius commander-in-chief of Italian army 

His subordinate officers 

Number of his army ... 

Its composition and equipment 

Sicily occupied 

Palermo taken 
3 1 Dec. 535 Belisarius lays down the consulship . 

Theodahad's negotiations for peace 

His strange letter to Justinian 

Ambassadors sent to accept his proffered abdi 
cation .... 

Imperial reverses in Dalmatia 

Death of Mundus. Sibylline prophecy 

Subsequent history of Dalmatia 

Theodahad goes back from his bargain 

The Gothic nobles support him in his resist- 
ance ..... 














Digitized by 







Authorities .... 
536 Belisarius ordered at once to invade Italy 

Delayed by tidings of the mutiny in Africa 

The Moors and the Imperial Gk)yemor 

The African land-question 

The religious difficulty 

Return of four hundred Vandals 

Plot for the murder of Solomon 

His flight to Syracuse 

Stutza leader of the rebels 

Carthage on the point of surrendering 

Arrival of Belisarius at Carthage 

He defeats the rebels at the Bagradas 

He returns to Sicily . 

After-course of the rebellion 

Death of Solomon 

Death of Stutza 

Belisarius sets foot in Italy 

The Byzantines in Magna Oraecia 

Defection of Evermud the Goth 

Advance to Naples .... 

Comparison of ancient Neapolis and modem Naples 

Siege operations of Belisarius . 

Speech of Stephanus a Neapolitan, and Belisarius'i 
reply ..... 

Debates in the city as to surrender : Pastor and Ascle- 
piodotus persuade to resistance . 

Jewish loyalty to the Goths . 

Theodahad's omen of the hogs 

Vigorous resistance of the besieged. Despair of Beli' 
sarins ..... 

An Isaurian discovers an entrance into the Aque- 
duct .... 

Belisarius again offers terms of capitulation 

Preparations for the assault . 

The Aqueduct party . 











Digitized by 




The city taken . 

The citizens spared 

Fate of Pastor and Aflclepiodotas 





AuthoritieB .... 

Indignation of the Goths against Theodahad 

Armed assembly at Begeta 

Deposition of Theodahad 

Election of Witigis 

Death of Theodahad 

Witigis abandons Borne, leaving a small garrison 

He marries Matasnentha sister of Athalaric 

He sends an Embassy \0 Constantinople . 

Part taken by Cassiodoms 

Provence ceded to the Franks . 




AuthoritieB « . . . . 83-84 

Slight information as to movements of Belisarius 

after capture of Naples .84 

Procopins probably at Beneventnm 85 

Consolidation of the Emperor's power in Southern 

Italy ..... 86 

Defection of Pitaas the Goth ... 86 
Papal History I Felix IH ; Boniface II ; John II 87 
Attempt of Boni&ce to nominate Vigilius as his 

successor . .88 

Apparent diveigence between teaching of Hor- 

misdas and John 11 . .89 

535-536 Agapetus Pope ..... 89 
Agapetus sent by Theodahad to Constantinople . 90 
He procures the removal of Anthimus from See 

of Constantinople . • .91 

He dies at Constantinople .92 

Digitized by 




536 Silverius the new Pope . . . 93 

His message to Belisarios ... 93 

The Goths evacoate Borne ... 94 

Entry of Belisarios into Borne • . • 95 

Belisarius at the Pincian Palace . 96 

Preparations for defence of the City . 98 

The Walls of Borne .... 99-106 
General survey of Borne before the siege 107 

Imaginary progress of Procopius through the 

City .... 109-123 

Christian buildings of Bome : the five Patriarchal 

Churches .... 134-126 

The parish churches or TitvJli . . 126 

Features of ecclesiastical architecture . . 127 




Authority . . . . .129 

Narni, Spoleto, and Perugia occupied by Im- 

perial troops . . . .130 

Gothic operations in Dalmatia . . . 130 


Witigis marches Southwards with 150,000 men 131 

Belisarius concentrates his forces . . 133 

Skirmish at Narni . . • . 133 

Witigis at the Milvian Bridge . 134-136 

Battles between the Milvian- Bridge and the 

City-walls. . . . 1 36-1 41 

Belisarius's arrangements for the night . 141 

Harangue by Wacis . . . '' . 142 

Mar. 53^ 

r The Siege of Bome begun . . . 143 

The Gates of the City . . . I44-M5 

The seven Gothic Camps . . 145-149 



Authorities .... 
A traveller's view of the Aqueducts of Bome 


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Water-Bupply before the Aqueducts 


B.C. 312 

Ap^ .... 


„ 272 

Amo VettM 


M 144 

Marcia .... 


M 125 

Tepula .... 


>> 33 

Jw/ia : Agrippa as an Aqueduct builder 


» 19 

Aqua Virgo 


k.D. I0(?) 

Aldeiina .... 


Caligula as an Aqueduct builder . 


« 38-52 

Claudia and Anio Novus . 


„ IO9-IIC 

> Trajana .... 


„ 2 20(1) 

ii7^a»nJrtna : Aqua Felice 


Table of the Aqueducts of Frontinus 


Maintenance of the Aqueducts 


Beservoirs : CasteUa Aquae : pipes 


„ 97 

Appointment of Frontinus as CurcUar Aqua- 

rum .... 


He grapples with the abuses of the water- 



Estimates of the total water-supply of Home 

» 172 

Comparison with modem cities 


How was the water distributed 1 . 


The Aqueduct and the Bath 


Gothic destruction of the Aqueducts 


Change wrought in habits of Boman people 

> 177 

Note A. I. The Schedules of Frontinus, 

showing the waste of water 

in the Aqueducts . 


n. Account of Distribution {Era- 



m. Detailed account of expendi- 

ture of water for public pur- 





Authority. . . 


Stoppage of the flour-mills 


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Water-mills on the Tiber 

The Cloacae .... 

Omen of the Samnite boys 

Discontent in Bome . 

Gothic Embassy to Belisarius and the Senate 

Gothic preparations for the assault 

Moveable towers : battering rams : fascines 

Preparations of Belisarius : Onagsr ; Lv^ms ; 

BaKskt0 .... 
Arrangement of defending forces 
The legend of the Miiro Tortp . 
The ansault begun 
The towers made useless 
Fighting at Porta Salaria 
At Porta Praenestiua (Maggiore) 
Description of the Porta Mt^ggiore (Plai^) 
Gothic attack on the Vivarium 
Fighting at the Porta Aurelia . 
The Tomb of Hadrian . 
Gothic attack : tbe statues thrown down 
Complete failure of the assault 









1^6, 197 



Authority . . . .206 

Letter from BelisariuB to Justinian . 206-209 

Beinforcements frou^ Constantinople . 209 

Non-combatants sent out of Bome . 210 

The Goths occupy Portus . . . 211 

Murder of the hostages 
Timidity of the besiegers 
Defence of the walls . 

Attempt of Pagan party to open Temple of 
Janus .... 
April 537 Imperial reinforcements arrive 
Successful sallies of besieged . 
Witigis vainly attempts to imitate their tactics 
Cause of uniform superiority of Imperial troops 





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Soldiers of Belisarius clamour for a pitched 

battle ..... 218 
Haraogae of Witigis .... 219 
Infuitry ask to be employed by Belisarius . 222 

Battle at the Pinoian and Salarian Gates . 223 

Battle under Monte Mario : a tragedy of errors 224 

General rout of Imperial army . . 228 

Belisarius reverts to his former defraisiye tactics 228 
Brave deeds of Chorsamantis . 229 

Constantine and his Huns . . .230 

The Eoman and Gk>th in the corn-magazine 231 

June 537 Euthalius brings pay to the Imperialists 234 

Skirmish : exploits of Cutila, Aizes, and Buehas 234, 235 
Interesting surgical cases .236 



Authorities «... 

Doubtful issue of the contest 

Intersection of the Aqueducts fortified by the 

Goths .... 
Discouragement in the City 
Sibylline prophecy 
Famine beginning 

Deputation from the citizens to Belisarius 
Reinforcements promised 
Procopius despatched to Naples 
Antonina also sent thither 
The Mosaic of Theodoric 
Procopius's description of Vesuvius 
Belisarius hems in the Goths . 
Tivoli occupied .... 
Basilica of St. Paul occupied 
Pestilence in both camps 
Betum of Antonina to Rome • 
Papal history. Theodora's bargain with Vigilius 
SilveriuB accused of treachery . 
He is summoned to the Pincian Palace . 










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Silverius in exile . . . -255 
Fresh Imperial troops. John nephew of Vitalian 256 
The reinforcements reach Ostia • . 257 
Gothic camp stormed • . • .260 
Gothic Embassy to Belisarios . . . 261 
Becriminations between Goths and Belisarios . 263 
Sicily and Britain : their relative value . 266 
A trace for three months arranged 267-270 
Belisarius revictuals Bome . . .268 
Grothic positions evacuated . . . 270 
John sent towards Picenum . . . 272 
538 Visit of Datius Bishop of Milan . . 272 
Quarrel between Belisarius and Constantine . 273 
Fresidius and his daggers . . . 274 
Constantine put to death . . • 276 
Goths attempt to enter by the Aqua Virgo • 277 
Scheme for drugging the guards on the river- 
wall • , . . . 280 
John's campaign in Hcenum . . 281 
He takes Bimini . . . .282 
Mar. 538 The Goths raise the siege . . 283 
Battle at the Milvian Bridge . . . 284 



Authority . . . . .286 

538-539 Desultory warfare .... 286 

Sketch Map of Central Italy in 538 . . 287 

Arrangement of forces of the combatants 288 

Belisarius recalls John from Bimini . . 290 

Ildiger and Martin on the Flaminian Way. Ima- 
ginary stages of their journey 291-301 
Description of Fetra Fertusa . . . 295 
The Gothic garrison surrender to Ildiger and 

Martin . . ' . . 298 

Description of Bimini . . . .301 

John refuses to obey the orders of Belisarius . 302 

Siege of Bimini by Witigis 


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Narrow escape of the garrison of Ancona 

Surrender of Qoths at Tuder and Clnsium . 

Beinforcements from Constantinople 

Narses the Eunuch .... 

Council of war at Fermo 

Narses advocates the relief of Rimini 

Scheme of Belisarius for this purpose 

March of Belisarius across the mountains 

Arrival of the relieving columns and of the fleet 

Deliverance of Rimini 

John refuses to thank any hut Narses 

Note B. On the March of Belisarius . 








Authority ..... 


Party of Narses in the Council of Generals . 


Belisarius's speech .... 


Reply of Narses .... 


Letter from Justinian : its limiting clause . 


Temporary compromise- . . . . 


Urbino besieged .... 


Narses and John march off to the Aemilia . 


Urbino surrenders .... 


Campaign in the Aemilia 


539 Belisarius takes Orvieto 

. 328 

538 Milan taken from the Goths . 


Uraias besieges the city 


Martin and Uliaris sent to relieve it 


Their delays ..... 


John will not help .... 


539 Narses gives way, but too late 


Surrender of Milan : massacre of the citizens 


The brothers of Vigilius 


Justinian recalls Narses 


Note C. On the Topography of Orvieto 


Digitized by 







Authority .... 
Desolation of Italy. CannibalisB. Faaune 
The boy of Urbs Salvia 
539 Witigis sends an embaesy to P^ma . 
Jnstinian shows a disposition to treat 
Siege of Fiesol^ 
The Franks reappear in Italy 
They massacre the Qoths 
They plunder the Imperialists 
They breed a pestilence 
And return to their own land 
Description of Osimo 
The siege of Osimo by Belisarius 
Advice of Procopius as to trumpet-calls 
The traitor Burcentius 
The battle at the well 
FiesoU surrenders, and then Osimo . 










Authorities ..... 
540 Preparations for siege of Ravenna 
Embassy of the Franks to Ravenna . 
Witigis prefers the Imperial to th« Friinkish alliance 
Uraias fails in attempt to relieve Bavekma . 
Embassy from Constantinople 
Belisarius over-rules his master 
Increasing fiamine in the city 
The Goths would make Belisarius Emperor of the West 
He apparently accepts their offer 
His entry into Ravenna 
He drops the mask .... 
Favourable treatment of Oothic inhabitants . 
Later fortunes of Ravenna . 
Uraias refuses the Gothic crown 



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BdibadEing .... 

Last appeal to Belisarins . 

Betirement of CassiodoraB from o&cial life 

His treatise on the Soul • 

Monastery and hermitage founded by him at Sqnil 
lace ..... 

The stream, the firii-ponds, and the baths of Yl 
variom .... 

The book-room .... 

Cassiodoms made his monastery a place of intel- 
lectual labour 

Writings of Cassi^Mbnis in his old age 
673(1) His death ..... 









Authorities . '397 

540 Antioch taken by the Persians 397 
Arriyal of Belisarins at Constantinople 398 
The Qothic captives at Constantinople 399 
Death of Witigis. Be^txiarriage of Matasuentha . 399 
Daily triumph of Belisurius in the streets of the 

capital ..... 400 

His appearance and chairacter .401 

Infidelities of Ant(^na .... 403 

541 Departure of Belisarins for the East 404 
His punishment of Antonina and her lover 405 
John of Cappadocia, his character and financial ad- 
ministration .... 406-409 

His domestic life .... 409-412 

His ambitious schemes and belief in diviners 413 

Theodora's dislike to him . .414 

John's jealousy of Belisarins 414 

Antonina by a plot achieves his ruin 415-418 

Hardships of his exile .... 418 

Antonina in iavour with Theodora 419 

Belisarins humbled . .420 

Abolition of the Consulship by Justinian . . 421 

Digitized by 






Authority .... 


Confusion in Italy after departure of Beli- 

sariuB .... 


No supreme commander . 


Financial oppression 


The Logothetes .... 


* Alexander the Scissors ' . 


The soldiery alienated 


Wrongs of the provincials 


The Gothic cause revives . 



Defeat of VitaliuB 

Dissensions between the wives of Ildibad 


and TJraias .... 


Death of Uraias .... 


May (1)64 

I Assassination of Ildibad . 


May to Oct. 

(1) Reign of Eraric the Rugian 

The Goths turn to Baduila, nephew of 


Ildibad .... 


Baduila, better known as Totila, chosen 

King .... 


Death of Eraric .... 


Character of Totila 



Unsuccessful attempt by Imperial generals 

on Verona . . . 439-443 

Battle of Faenza. Victory of Totila 44a 


Totila in Tuscany. Florence besieged 



Battle of Mugello. Victory of Totila 


Central and Southern Italy opened to the 

Goths .... 


Totila besieges Naples 


Inaction and timidity of Imperial generals 


Maximin commander-in-chief 


Vain endeavours to relieve Naples 450-464 


Surrender of Naples 


Humanity of Totila 


The fortifications of Naples demolished , 


Digitized by LjOOQIC 



Totila's seyerity towards a Gothic criminal . 457 

544 Despairing message of Imperial generals to Justinian 458 

Totila's letter to the Boman Senate . 459 

Totila besieges Bome and Otranto . 460 

Justinian decides to send Belisarius back to Italy 460 



Authorities . 

The world-wide fame of Benedict 

Pope Gregory's biography of him 

His birth-place and his boyhood 

Flight from Home 

First miracle 

Life as an anchorite at Subiaco 

Abbot of Vicovaro 

He returns to the wilderness 

St. MauruB and St. Placidus . 

Machinations of Florentius . 

Benedict migrates to Monte Cassino 

Miracles of the Saint 

His contests with the Evil One 

The MediflBval Devil . 

Social conditions of the time 

Benedict's interview with Totila 

Death of Scholastica, sister of Benedict 

The heavenly vision . 

Death of Benedict . 

His Bule the reason of his surpassing fame 









Authority .... 


The unhappiness of Belisarius 


542 Plague of Constantinople 


Justinian's sickness and recovery 


Mutual accusations of the generals . 


VOL. IV. b 

Digitized by V^jOC 





Theodora's vengeance on Bozea . . 503 

Disgrace of Belisarius .... 504 

His military household broken up . . 506 
Theodora determines to reconcile Belifiariufl and 

Antonijua . 507 

Her letter to Belisarius .... 509 

The reconciliation .... 509 

Frocopius probably condemned this reconciliation 510 

Partial restoration of Belisarius to favour 511 



Authorities . . . . -513 

May 544 Preparations of Belisarius . 513 

Junction with Yitalius . . • S'S 

Relief of Otranto . . . .514 

Belisarius at Ravenna : Totila near Rome 515 

The Hlyrian foederati desert and return to th«r 

own land ..... 516 

545 Relief of Osimo . . . . . Q17 
Pesaro adroitly refortified . . . -• -* 
Piteous letter from Belisarius to Justinian 5^9 
John at Constantinople. He marries Justinian's 

niece . . . . .521 

Belisarius and John meet at Dyrrhachium 521 

Totila lays formal siege to Rome : Bessas 522 

546 Valentine slain at Portus . . . 525 
The corn-ships of Vigilius boarded by the Goths 526 
Placentia surrendered to the Goths . 526 
Famine in Rome. Pelagius ambassador to Totila 527 
Three points reserved by Totila 528-529 
Reply of Pelagius .... 530 
Misery of the Roman citizens. The hard heart 

of Bessas the governor . . 530"534 

Dispute between John and Belisarius . 535 

Belisarius at Portus . . . -63^ 

John recovers Bruttii and Lucania 537 

John is stopped by Totila's horsemen at Capua . 537 

Digitized by 






Description of Ostia . 

Description of Portus 

The Tiber barred by the Goths • . 

Belisarins attempts to force the passage 547 

Isaac's rashness turns the victory of Belisarius 

into defeat .... 549 

Sickness of Belisarius . . 549 

Demoralisation of the garrison in Home 550 

Frocopius's remarks on the conduct of Bessas 552 

1 7 Dec. 545 The Porta Asinaria opened to Totila by Isau- 

rian deserters . . . 553-555 

The Goths in Rome .... 556 



Authority .... 

Flight of Bessas and Conon . 

Ravages of the Gothic soldiery 

Totila at St. Peter's. Interview with Pelagius 

The widow of Boethius 

Totila's harangue to the Goths 

And to the Senate 

His letter to Justinian 

His presence required in Lucania « 

He throws down part of the walls of Rome 

Belisarius dissuades him from destroying the 

City .... 
Could Rome have been entirely obliterated ? 





Authorities . . . . 570 

5417 Totila marches into Lucania . . 570 

Spoleto lost to the Goths . . 571 
JohnatTarentum: Totilagarrisons Acherontia 572 

Rome for forty days without inhabitants 572 

Belisarius decides to re-occupy Rome 573 


Digitized by 




▲.D. PAQI 

Totila retams and is repalsed from the walls 575 

Discontent of the Ooths with Totila . - 576 

He retires to Tivoli .... 577 

The keys of Borne sent to Justinian . 577 

Limits of Gothic and Imperial occupation 579 

Justinian starves the war 579 

Discord in the Imperial army 580 
John's dash into Campania. The Senators 

liberated .... 581 

Totila attacks John. He retreats to Otranto 583 

547-"549 Two years of desultory fighting . 583 

Incapable Imperial officers. Yerus : Valerian 584 
Siege of Roscianum by Totila ^^^"^^9 

Sybaris and Crotona . . 585 

Surrender of Boscianum . 589 

June 548 Humiliating position of Belisaiius . 590 

Mission of Antonina to Constantinople . 590 

I July 548 Death of Theodora .... 590 

Antonina obtains the recall of Belisarius . 591 

Lcntter days of Bdiaaaius 592-604 

559 The Kotrigur Huns invade Thrace 592 

Alarm in Constantinople. Inefficiency of the 

Scholarii .... 595 

Belisarius appointed to the chief command . 597 

His curious stratagems . . 598 
Victory over the Huns . . -599 

Return to Constantinople . . . 600 

562 Accused of conspiring against Justinian 601 
Disgraced ..... 602 

563 Restored to fevour .... 602 
Death of Belisarius .... 603 
Note D. On the alleged Blindness and Beg- 
gary of Belisarius . 605-608 




Capture of Perugia by Totila 


Digitized by 




Mutiny of the garrison in Rome. Death of 

Conon ..... 


Totila's Buit for a Frankish princess « 61 


gold ..... 



Totila presses the siege of Borne. Diogenes 


Isaunans open the Gate of St. Paul to the Ooths 


Escape of Diogenes .... 


Defence of the Tomb of Hadrian 


Rome re-edified .... 


Totila's Embassy to Justinian . 


Summons to Centumcellae to surrender 



Fall of Rhegium .... 



Sicily ravaged and then evacuated 



Justinian vacillates. Liberius commander-in- 

chief ..... 



Artabanes commander in Sicily . 


Expectation of arrival of Qermanus 




Authorities . . . . .625 

Oenealogy of Justinian . .624 

Character of Justinian's nephew, Clermanus 625 

Theodora's enmity to him . 626 

Grievances of Artabanes . . . 627 

Grievances of Arsaces .... 628 
548 These two attempt to draw Germanus into a 

conspiracy against his uncle , . 630 

Ckrmanus consults Marcellus . . . 631 

The conspiracy disclosed. The Senate summoned 633 
Germanus accused of complicity, but honourably 

acquitted ..... 634 
Wars with barbarians : Gepids, Lombards, Scla- 

vonians .... 636-638 

550 Germanus commander-in-chief for Italian war . 638 

He marries Matasuentha . . 639 

Digitized by 





He beats back the SclayonianB 
His death ..... 
Matasuentha bears a posthumoas son 
Fortunes of Germanus Postomus and his family 
Extinction of the Amal line . . . 








Authorities .... 645-646 

Early career of Vigilius . . .647 

537 Made Pope on the deposition of Silverius . 649 

His letter to the Monophysite Patriarchs 651 

Befuses to obey Theodora's bidding . 653 

Accused of homicide . . '653 

545 Arrested by emissary of Theodora 654 

Besides in Sicily .... 655 

546-7 Sails for Constantinople . . 655 

CorUroversy of the Three Chapters 656-684 

Its political importcmce 656 

Theodore of Mopsuestia 657 

Theodoret of Cyrrhus . 658 

Ibas of Edessa .... 659 

544 (?) Edict of Justinian against the Three Chapters 661 

Qualified acceptance of the Edict in the East 663 

25 Jan. 547 Arrival of Pope Vigilius at Constantinople . 665 

He and Hennas, Patriarch of Constantinople, 

excommunicate one another . 665 

548 In his Judicatum he condemns the Three 

Chapters .... 666 

Mutiny of the Western Ecclesiastics . 667 

550 The African Bishops excommunicate Vigilius 668 

A General Council convened . . .669 

551 (1) The Emperor's second Edict . .670 

Mennas and Theodore of Csesarea excommuni- 
cated by the Pope . . .670 
Vigilius takes refuge in Basilica of St. Peter . 671 
Attempt to arrest him. Scandalous scene . 672 

Digitized by 


Contents. xxiii 

BelisariuB and other Senators swear for his 

safety ..... 674 

YigiliuB retams to his palace 675 
His second flight. He takes refuge at Chal-"" 

cedon . . . « . 676 
Angry letters hetween Pope and Emperor 677 
5 May 553 The Fifth General Cooncil meets at Constan- 
tinople ..... 678 
The Pope will not preside 679 
The Council condemns the Three Chapters 679 
14 May The Pope in his Conttituium defends them . 680 
VigiliuB anathematised by the Council 681 
He is banished to Proconnesns 681 
8 Dec. He surrenders and writes a letter of retracta- 
tion ..... 682 
2 3 Feb. 554 He issues a new ConsiiUiitum condemning the 

Three Chapters .... 683 
f Jan. 555 On his return journey to Italy he dies in Sicily 683 
Mistakes of the Pope : difficulties of his posi- 
tion ..... 685 



Authority ..... 688 

Justinian disgusted with the war . 688 
551 Narses OenenJ-in-chief: his character 689-692 

He is hindered by a Hunnish iuTasion 692 

Effect on Totila of news of his appointment . 693 

Fleet of Totila ravages coast of Greece 694 
John and Valerian determine to raise siege of 

Ancona ..... 694 
Sea-fight off Sinigaglia. The Goths defeated 695-698 
Final loss of Sicily by the Goths . . 698 
Ineffectual attempt of Imperial forces on Sar- 
dinia ..... 699 
Goths and Franks .... 699 
Totila's overtures to Justinian 700 
Justinian's embassy to the Franks . 701 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

xxiv Contents. . 



552 Crotona relieved by JuBtinian 


The army of Narses : Heruli, Lombards, Huns 


Teias at Verona . . 


March of Narses round the head of the Hadriatic 


Skirmish at Kimini : Usdrilas slain . 


Line of march chosen by Narses 


Movements of Totila. The armies meet 


Description of the battle-field 


The site of the battle probably near Scheggia 


The battle of the Apennines 



Defeat of the Goths . , . . 


Flight and death of Totila . 


Not^E. On the Site of the Battle of 552 . 




Authorities . . . , , 


Narses gets rid of his Lombard allies 


Teias crowned King of the Goths 


Surrender of Gothic fortresses 


Tarentum not surrendered . 


Rome taken ..... 


Hard fate of the Eoman Senators 


Siege of Cumae .... 


Teias marches Southwards . 


The armies fieice one another on the Sarno for twc 

months ..... 


The Goths retire to Mons Lactarius , 


553 The last battle, near the Samo 


Teias slain ..... 


The Goths offer to leave Italy 


Narses accepts their offer 


Yale, atque in aetemum vale, Italia ! 


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JoBtmiaii and his Courtien 

Map of Europe, aj>. 535 . 

Map of Italy .... 

Mi^ of Naples .... 

M^ of Rome .... 

ConidoT inside the Walls of Borne 

Map of the Boman Aqueducts 

SpecoB of the Anio Novus and Aqua Claudia as 
above the Porta Magg^iore 

The Muro Torto .... 

Porta Maggiore (exterior). 

Plan of the Walls of Rome near the Porta Maggi< 

Sketch Map of Central Italy in 538 

PetraPertusa .... 

Map of PortuB and Ostia . 

Porta Asmaria .... 

Mi^. Via Flaminia, Spoletium to Ariminum 


. To precede page i . 

To face page 25. 

Between pages 48, 49. 

Between pages 96, 97. 

Between pages Z04, 105. 

Between pages 152, 153. 

Between pages 160, 161. 

Between pages 190, 191. 

Between pages 194, 195. 

lore . . Bage 197. 

. Page 287. 

Between pages 294, 295. 

. To face page $ii). 

Between pages 552, 553. 

. To face page 711. 

Digitized by 


Digitized by 



P. 9, line 19, for 'twelve' read 'eleven/ 

On pages 5, 63, and 64, for 'Ennes' read 'Ennea;' and p. 223 
for < Ennaa ' read also ' Ennes.' 

P. 39, marginal note, for ' Bagradus' read 'Bagradas.' 

P. 92, 1. 14, for * 2 1st' read ' 22nd.' 

P. 144, transpose order of Porta Praenestina and Porta Labi- 
cana, in List of Qates, the Praenestina being the more northerly 
of the two. 

P. 163, 1. 3. According to S. Lanciani (Acqne e Acquedotti, 
p. 163), Trajan did not bring in his aquedact the water of the 
Sabatine Lake itself, but the intercepted waters of some of the 
mountain streams that feed it. His object was to provide potable 
water for the inhabitants of the Trastevere, who would only drink 
that supplied to them from the ALdetine Lake in case of extreme 

P. 190, 1. I. The name of Peranius shoidd be in Roman not 
Italic letters. 

P. 240, 1. 2, for ' Anio Vetus' read 'Anio Novus.' 

P. 488, 1. 13 from bottom, ' Ruderic and Blidi.' Probably these 
two Counts in attendance upon Totila are the same as the com- 
manders of the troops sent to form the siege of Florence (see 
p. 446, n. i). This is an interesting coincidence, as probably Pope 
Qregory had not read the Histories of Procopius. 

P. 518, IL 2 and 3, dele 'Thorimuth and Sabinian in the 
number ' and insert these words after ^ relieving army.' (These 
two officers were not slain but escaped.) 

P. 538, note. Quaere as to the correctness of the first sentence. 
Reggio was evidently Imperial three years after, as it had then to 
be taken by Totila. See p. 619. 

P. 609, 1. 9, dele ' Isaurian ' before ' Conon.' Though we fre- 
quently read of this officer as commanding Isaurian soldiers, I am 

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xxviii Additions and Corrections. 

not sure that we have any evidence that he himself belonged to 
that nation. 

Pp. 612 and 613, for * Theudebert' read * Theudibert.' 
P. 615, 1. 5, for *One of the bravest soldiers/ etc, read, 'A 
gallant Cilician, who bore the name of his great countryman Paul, 
and who after acting for some time as superintendent of the house- 
hold of Belisarius, now commanded a troop of cavalry under 
Diogenes, collected a band/ etc. 

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Digitized by 


To pf^etd/* y ay J 

■ itafyyoLiv: - 

zed by 







Sources: — 
Prooopius de Bello Grotthico, i. 5-7 ; ii. ^6-38. BOOK v. 

(When qaotations are made thus, iL 26, the reference ^^ ^' 
is to the volume and page of the Bonn edition^ When 
they are made thus, De Bell. Gotth. i. 5, the reference 
is to the book and chapter of the History of the Grothic 

It was *a truceless wax' which Jufitinian's am- Hie Trace- 
bassador had deQouDoed against the cringing 
Theodahad when he heard of the murder of Amal- 
asuntha And in truth all the schemings and 
machinations of the Byzantine Court had been 
rewarded beyond their deservings by as &ir and 
honourable an excuse for war as ever prince could 
allege. Lilybaeum and Gratiana, Sicilian forts and 
Hunnish deserters, had all faded into the back- 
ground. The great Emperor now appeared upon 
the scene in his proper character as Earthly Pro- 


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2 The First Year of the War. 

BOOK V. vidence, preparing to avenge, on an ungrateful and 
^"••^' cowardly tyrant, the murder of the noble daughter 
^^^' of Theodoric. The pretext was better than that 
put forth for the Vandal War, the foe infinitely 
baser. At the same time it might perhaps be dis- 
covered that, notwithstanding the ambassadors 
brave words about a truceless war, the Earthly 
Providence was not unwilling to arrange terms 
with the murderer if it could secure any advantage 
for itself by doing so. 

In the summer of 535, nine years after Justi- 
nian's accession to the throne^, the armies were 
sent forth from Constantinople, and the Gothic 
War began. 
TroopB Troops, the number of whom is not stated, but 

DaimatJa. probably not more than 3000 or 4000, were sent 
by land to invade the great Gothic province of 
Dalmatia, on the east of the Hadriatic. This pro- 
vince (as was explained in a previous volume*) 
was larger than the present kingdom of Dalmatia, 
since it included also a good deal of Bosnia and 
Herzegovina. ;Its capital was still Salona, that 
great city close to which rose the vast palace of 
Diocletian (now represented by half of the modem 
town of Spalato), the city where Nepos reigned 
after he had been driven from the halls of the Pa- 
latine, where his rival Glycerius chanted mass in 

^ Justinian's reign commenced April i, 526. The words of 
Frocopius do not necessarily imply that the war began on the 
ninth anniversary of the accession, and Peter's report of his 
mission could hardly reach Constantinople till June, 535. 

' Vol. i. p. 276. 

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The Army of Dalmatia. 3 

the basilica, yrhere Odovacar avenged his murder Br-:.K v. 

by the death of Ovida and Tlator. 1- 

The commander of the Dalmatian army ^ktism^v 
himself a barbarian by birth, a Gepid of the name ^Sk*- 
of Mundus; a man whose fiery valour was not^^***™'^' 
chilled by age, and who was heartily loyal to the 
Emperor^ It was Mundus who, during the sedi- -5- 
tipn of the Xika, when the throne of Justinian 
seemed rocking to its overthrow, had penetrated 
with a band of Heruli to the Hippodrome, where 
Hypatius at that moment was being saluted as 
Emperor, and had, in cooperation with Belisarius, 
by a ruthless massacre of the insurgents, succeeded 
in stamping out the rebellion. At the out^t of 
the present campaign his operations were com- 
pletely successful The Goths who met his in- 
vading army were defeated, and he marched on to 
Salona, which he entered unopposed^ 

The chief interest, however, was excited Lv tlie Y^^^jmr^ 
Italian expedition, commanded by Belisarius, the cr.s^«f 
successful combatant with Persia, the conqueror bjuk »%▼. 
. of Africa — Belisarius who had been drawn a few 
months before in his triumphal car through the 
streets of Constantinople, and who now, sole Consul 
for the year, was setting forth to gather fresh 
laurels in the country where the Marcelli and the 
Fabii gathered theirs eight centuries ago. 

' Clinton thinJcB that this Mundus ib tlie same as the Mnndo. 
grandson of Attila, whom, in the war of Sirmiimi, Theo* sos. 
doric's troops delivered from the Byzantine general SaKiniaj^ns 
(vol. iii p. 439). This is poe^Ue, bat does cot to me teem 

B 2 

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4 The First Year of the War. 

BooKv. The chief generals under Belisarius were Con- 

Ch. 1 

stantine, Bessas, and Peranius. Constantine was a 
^^^' native of Thrace, a brave and strenuous lieutenant 
generals : ^f ^j^g great commauder, but rapacious, fierce, and 
tine, not imbued with the soldierly instinct of subordi- 
nation, as was eventually proved by the strange 
events which ended his career. 
BesBss, Bessas also came from Thrace, but was of Gothic 

descent, and we are expressly told* that he was 
* one of the race who had of old dwelt in Thrace, 
but did not follow Theodoric/ He too, though 
brave and warlike, showed on a critical occasion 
a selfish and grasping nature, which preferred its 
own ignoble gains to military duty and the most 
obvious interests of the Empire*. 
PenuuDfl. Peranius came from the far east of the Empire. 
He was the eldest son of Gurgenes, king of Iberia, 
part of that province between Caucasus and Ararat 
which we now call Georgia. In the course of the 
sas^ endless tussle between the Roman Emperor and the 
Persian King, Iberia was invaded by the Persian 
army; and Gurgenes, finding himself unable to. 
defend his dominions, and disappointed of the 
expected help from Justinian, fled to the moun- 
tains which divided his country from Colchis, and 
there seems to have maintained a straitened but 
honourable independence. As the dynasty was 
Christian, its princes naturally inclined to Constan- 

* Procopius, De Bell. Gotth. i. i6; ii. 8i. 
' The career of Bessas suggests some points of comparison 
with that of Marshal Bazaine. 

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Belisarius and his Staff. 5 

tinople rather than to CtesiphoBu Thus it was book v. 

that Peranius entered the service of the Emperor, L 

in which he soon rose to all but the highest ^^^' 

The subordinate officers were — of the cavalry, Sabordm- 
Valentine,Magnus,andInnocentius; of the infantry, 
Herodian, Paulus, Demetrius, and Ursicinus ; none 
of whom require at present any special notice on 
our part. The commander of the Isaurian contin- 
gent was named Eijines. BeUsarius was attended 
by a large body-guard of tried and daring soldiers; 
and, in a capacity perhaps resembling that of a 
modem aide-de-camp, Photius, Antonina's son by a 
former marriage, accompanied his renowned step- 

The total number of the army which was setting Number of 
forth to reconquer Italy was only 7500 men, 
scarcely more than the equivalent of one legion 
out of the thirty which followed CsBsar's foot- 
steps. How it figured on the muster-rolls of the 
Empire it is not easy to say. We are told that 
there were 4000 soldiers *of the Catalogues and 
the Foederati,' 3CK)0 Isaurians, 200 confederate 
Huns, and 300 Moors. The * Catalogues' must in 
some way represent the dwindled Legions ; as the 
Foederaii, drawn perhaps firom the medley of Teu- 
tonic and Slavonic peoples who roamed along the 
banks of the Lower Danube, represent the Socii of 
the early days of Eome. It will be observed by 
the reader how large a proportion the gallant 
Isaurian highlanders, those Swiss of the Byzantine 

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6 The First Year of the War. 

BOOK V. empire, bore to the whole army, and we shall have 
' frequent occasion in the course of the war to notice 
^^^' the service rendered to Belisarius by their moun- 
taineering skill and headlong bravery. 
The army After all, the armament, though it gloried in the 

only , , , 

nominally title of Romau, and was sometimes called Greek in 
derision by its enemies, was Roman or Greek only 
in name. It was essentially a barbarian band. 
Every great exploit which we hear of in connection 
with it was performed, as a rule, by some Gepid, or 
Herul, or Isaurian. But the barbaric strength and 
stolid stalwart courage of the soldiers were directed 
by generals who still cherished some of the tradi- 
tions of scientific warfare which had been elaborated 
in the twelve centuries of the Roman Republic and 
Empire; and at the centre of the whole machine 
was the busy brain of Belisarius, a man of infinite 
resource and patience as well as courage, and cer- 
tainly one of the greatest strategists that the world 
has ever seen. 

CavaVy The studcut who remembers how the battles of 

the chief -n 1 T Tfc \ 

arm. EcpubUcan Rome were generally*^ won, namely, by 
the disciplined valour of the heavy-armed foot- 
soldiers of the Legion, experiences some surprise 
when he finds that the victories of Belisarius were 
chiefly won by his cavalry, armed with the bow and 
arrow, a force which, as has been already observed, 
may perhaps be compared to the mounted rifles of 
a modern army, but which certainly five centuries 
before was more celebrated in the tactics of Parthia 
than in those of Rome. 

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Imperial Mounted Cavalry. 7 

At the outset of the first campaign it may be book v. 
interesting to quote from a later page of Proco- 

pius^ the reasons which Belisarius himself, in con-^^^^^^^ 
versation with his friends, assigned for the long*^^*^- 
series of victories which he had then achieved over "^^"^ 

the Goths : was to win. 

*In public the Romans naturally expressed their The Goth» 
wonder at the genius of Belisarius which had force of 
achieved such a victory, but in private his friends bowmen, 
[no doubt including Procopius himself] enquired 
of hina what was the token which, in the first day 
of successful engagement with the enemy, had led 
hun to conclude that in this war he should be 
uniformly victorious. Then he told them that, at 
the beginning, when the engagement had been 
limited to a few men on each ride, he had studied 
what were the characteristic difierences of each 
army, in order that when the battles commenced on 
a larger scale he might not see his small army 
overwhelmed by sheer force of numbers. The 
chief difierence which he noted was that all the 
Romans and their Hunnish allies were good archers 
on horseback. The Goths, on the other hand, had 
none of them practised this art. Their cavalry 
fought only with javelins and swords, and their 
archers were drawn up for battle as infantry, and 
covered by the cavalry. Thus the horsemen, un- 
less the battle became a hand-to-hand encounter, 
having no means of replying to a discharge of 
weapons from a distance, were easily thrown into 
^ ii. 128-9. 

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8 The First Year of the War. • 

BOOK V. confusion and cut to pieces, while the foot-soldiers, 

U- though able to reply to a volley of arrows from 

^^^* a distance, could not stand against sudden charges 
of horse. For this reason Belisarius maintained 
that the Goths in these encounters would always 
be worsted by the Eomans/ 
Easyoccu- As yet, howevcr, there was little opportunity for 
SicUy, the display of military skill on the part of Beli- 
sarius, for his first laurels were all easily gathered, 
in the region of politics rather than of war. His 
instructions were to land in Sicily, nominally 
again making of that island only a house of call on 
his way to Carthage : if he found that he could 
occupy the island with little trouble he was to do 
so, but if there was likely to be tough opposition 
he was to leave it for the present and proceed to 
Africa. The former alternative was that which he 
adopted. He found the Sicilians all ready and 
eager to become subjects of the Emperor. Catana, 
Syracuse ^ and every other city in Sicily, opened 
except her gates to him. Only in Panormus (Palermo) 
was there a Gothic garrison strong enough to op- 
pose the wishes of the inhabitants ; and to the siege 
of Palermo he now addressed himself. 
The Goths This eager defection of the islanders from the 

deeply re- 

sent the Gothic rulc was a deep disappointment to their 

of the sici- late lords, and was long and bitterly remembered 

by them. Sicily was stiU rich in the wealth that 

had been stored up there since the days of Gelon, 

* Sinderith was the name of the Gothic governor of Syracuse 
(Jord. De Reb. Qeticis, Ix). 

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Sicily welcomes the Invaders. 9 

rich in all manner of fruits, above all rich in com, book v. 
of which it sent large exports every year to Rome. ^^'^' 
For this reason the Roman inhabitants had prayed ^^^* 
Theodoric that they might be left to themselves, 
and not vexed by the presence of large bodies of 
Gothic troops. Their request had been listened 
to ; they had been left for the most part to their 
own sense of honour to defend the connection which 
had benefited them so greatly and had imposed 
such light burdens upon them. And this was their 
return. Not a city defended, not a skirmish fought, 
no pretence of overwhelming necessity forthcoming; 
but as soon as the insignificant armament of Beli- 
sarius hove in sight, every emblem of Gothic do- 
mination torn down and the islanders vying with 
one another in demonstrations of servility towards 
Belisarius and his master. So keenly was this 
ingratitude felt by the Goths that, as we shall see, 
4wq1vo years afterwards, when there was a talk of 
peace between them and the Empire, and the 
Gothic King seemed to be in a position to dictate 
its terms, one of his indispensable conditions was 
that there should be no interference with the re- 
venge of his nation on ungrateful Sicily ^ 

Belisarius, having reconnoitred Palermo, decided siege of 
that the fortifications on the landward side were 
too strong to be attacked with any hope of success. 
Of these fortifications no vestige now remains, and 
indeed the very site of the ancient city, succes- 
sively Carthaginian, Greek, and Roman, is hope- 
* Procopius, iL 342 (De Bell. Gotth. iii. 16). 

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10 The First Year of the War. 

BOOK V. lessly obliterated by the busy prosperity of tlie 
"' modern capital of Sicily. Three features of the 
^^^* landscape only can we indisputably claim as iden- 
tical with those which met the eyes of Belisarius. 
They are (i) the beautiful, almost land-locked bay 
(reminding the traveller of the bay of Naples), 
from which the city derived its Greek name, Mh 
Anchorage^) (2) the rich plain stretching inland, 
and now known as The Golden Shell (Concha 
d*Oro); (3) the grand natural fortress of Monte 
Pellegrino, 2000 feet high, a few miles out of the 
city, rising, like the Rock of Gibraltar, square and 
steep out of the sea to Lorthward of the bay. 

B.C. 247 Here Hamilcar Barca maintained for three years 
a sturdy opposition to Rome near the close of the 
First Punic War. But the Gothic garrison of 
Sicily resorted to no such desperate measure of 
defence against the army of Belisarius. Trusting 
in the strength of their walls, they refused to sur- 
render the city and bade him begone with all 

Palermo The line of wall skirting the harbour was that 
which attracted the attention of the Byzantine 
general. It was detached from the ordinary line 
of circumvallation, it was left altogether bare of 
soldiers, and, high as it was, when he had collected 
his navy in the harbour he found that their masts 
overtopped the battlements. With his usual fer- 
tility of resource he at once hoisted the ships' boats 
filled with soldiers up to the yard-arms of the vessels, 

* 1Idp-opfiO£, 

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Palermo taken. 1 1 

and told his men to clamber from the boats out book v. 
on to the parapet. The manoeuvre, though some- ^"' ^' 
what resembling that tried by the Venetians at ^^^' 
the Latin siege of Constantinople, would have been a.d. 1204. 
too perilous to be executed in the face of an active 
foe. As it was, practised against an unguarded 
wall, it was completely successful. Soon the By- 
zantine soldiers, from their position of vantage on 
the high sea-wall, were shooting their arrows down 
into the ranks of the enemy in the city. The Goths 
were cowed by the unexpected sight, and oflfered 
terms of capitulation which Belisarius at once ac- 

Thus was all Sicily now subject to the Empe- Conquest 
ror s rule, and soon found itself paying heavy tax complete. 
and toll to the imperial exchequer. The conquest 
of Sicily, peaceful comparatively as was its charac- 
ter, had occupied about seven months. On the last 31 Dec. 
day of the year the Consul Belisarius, who had Beiisarius 
commenced his year of oflSce while his victories J^^^^j^^^^. 
over the Vandals were fresh in every one's mouth, ^^^p* 
closed it by a solemn procession through the streets 
of Syracuse, greeted by the loud and genuine ap- 
plause of his soldiers and the Sicilians, upon whom 
his lavish hands scattered a welcome largesse of 
Justinian's aurei. 

Meanwhile, the tidings which were coming from Effect of 
Sicily to Rome^ cleverly enlarged upon at re- quest on 
peated audiences by the ambassador Peter, threw had. 

^ It eeems probable that Theodahad through the greater 
part of 535 was at Rome, not at Bavenna. 

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12 The First Year of the War. 

BOOKV. the wretched Theodahad into an agony of terror. 
°' Already in imagination he saw himself walking, as 
^^^* Gelimerhad walked, a captive before his conqueror 
Belisarius, and heard the well-deserved cry, * Death 
to the murderer of Amalasuntha!^ thundered forth 
Negotia- by the populace of Byzantium. In a private con- 
peace, ference with Peter he consented to make peace with 
Justinian on the following humiliating conditions : 
(i) Sicily was to be abandoned to the Emperor; 
(2) Theodahad was to send to Justinian every year 
a golden crown weighing not less than 300 pounds 
[at present values worth about £12,000]; (3) he 
was to furnish 3000 warlike Goths whenever Jus- 
tinian should require their services ; (4) except 
with the Emperor's leave, the Gothic King was 
not to sentence any senator or any priest [Catholic 
priests, of course, were here meant] either to death or 
confiscation of goods ^; (5) he was not to confer the 
dignity of Patrician, or any office involving senato- 
rial rank, upon any of his subjects without the same 
gracious permission ; (6) at the Hippodrome, the 
Theatre, and all places of public resort the people 
were always to shout * Vivat Justinianus ' before 
they shouted 'Vivat Theodatus;' (7) never was 
a statue of bronze or any other material to be 
raised to Theodahad alone, but wherever he stood 
Jufctinian must stand beside him on his right side. 

^ This stipulation seems to me to confirm the suggestion 
made in a previous chapter (vol. iii. p. 550) as to the meaning 
of the charge against Boethius that he was * guilty of desiring 
the safety of the Senate,' 

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Theodahads offer of Stibmission. 13 

The conditions were degrading enough and well book v. 
exemplified the Byzantine habit of making the ^°'^' 
subjection of an inferior as galling and as wound- qj^^^^ 
ing to his self-love as possible. That undefined °^*5?. 

*=' ^ ■* oonditions 

relation of dependence on the Empire which Odo- imposed 

, , * on Theo- 

vacar and Theodoric had ignored rather than con- daJhad. 
tradicted, and into which Amalasuntha had been 
gradually sinking, was here proclaimed as offen- 
sively as possible by the Augustus, and admitted 
as abjectly as possible by the Thiudans. Though 
the word belongs to a later century, Theodahad 
would have become by this compact virtually the 
vassal of Justinian. Still, even this relationship, 
though marking a great fall from the proud ' moral 
hegemony' of Theodoric, might in the course of 
centuries have worked not unfavourably for the 
happiness of Italy. Leaning on the arm of her 
elder sister of Byzantium, the new Romano-Gothic 
state might have gradually reconciled Teutonic 
force with classical culture. In the convulsions 
which shook the Eastern world in the seventh cen- 
tury, her loyalty might have been a stay and staff 
to the Eastern Caesar. Greece and Italy united, 
and occupying their natural place at the head of 
European civilisation, might have formed front 
against the Saracen in the East, against the Frank 
in the West. At the least, had such a confederacy 
been possible, the Hesperian land would have es- 
caped the extortions of Byzantine blood-suckers on 
the one hand, the ravages of half-savage Lombards 
H)n the other. 

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14 The First Year of the War. 

BOOKV. But it is useless to speculate on what might 
have been. The portentous cowardice of Theo- 

^^^^dahad rendered him unable even to wait for an 

raises the interchange of embassies with Constantinople to 

against kuow whether his terms were accepted or rejected. 

He had not yet despatched his own ambassador, 

when he sent for Peter, who on his leisurely journey 

had now reached Albano, the second station on the 

Appian Way, that delightful little town which, 

nesthng under the high volcanic cone of Monte 

Cavo, looks down on the one side over its own 

peaceful little Alban Lake, and on the other over 

the broad Campagna to the faintly-seen towers of 

Rome. Peter came, when summoned, to yet another 

private audience with the King. The following 

strange dialogue then passed between them : — 

Dialogue Theodahud. ' Do you think. Ambassador, that 

the^King the Empcror will be pleased with the compact 

Ambawa- ^^^o which we havo entered ? * 

^''^' Peter. ' I conjecture that he will.' 

Theod. * But if he should chance to quarrel with 
the terms, what will happen then ? ' 

Peter. ' Then, noble sir, the next thing will 
be that you will have to fight.' 

Theod. * Is that fair, dear Ambassador ? ' 
Peter, ' Where is the unfairness, my good 
friend, in each of you following the bent of his 
own genius]' 

Theod. * What do you mean by that ? ' 
Peter. * I mean this. All your pleasure is in 
acting the part of a philosopher; but Justinian 

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Dialogue between Theodahad and Peter. 15 

finds his, in acting as beseems a noble Koman book v. 

Emperor. For a man who practises the precepts L 

of philosophy to devise the death of his fellow- ^^^' 
creatures, especially on so large a scale as this 
war involves, is quite unbecoming; and for a 
Platonist, it is pre-eminently necessary to keep 
his hands dean from human blood. But for the 
Emperor to vindicate his rights to a land which 
once formed part of his Empire is in no way 

The result of this dialogue (in which it suited Thcodahjki 
both King and Ambassador to ignore the fact that to make a 
the hands of the former were already stained with derof hia 
the blood of his benefactress) was, that Theodahad ^^^' 
swore to the Ambassador to sell his crown to 
Justinian if he should be required to do so ; and 
for some reason which is not expressly stated, but 
probably because of her admitted ascendency 
over the mind of Theodahad, his Queen Gude- 
lina was made a partner in the oath. Peter on 
his pai-t was made to swear that he would not 
disclose the last and highest offer till he had 
fairly put the lower offer before the Emperor, and 
found that it was hopeless to press it. What 
prudent man would thus bid against himself even 
in the purchase of a field ? With such utter 
fatuity did these children of the barbarians play 
their little bungling game against the veteran 
diplomatists of Constantinople. 

Peter was accompanied on the return embassy 
by Eusticus, a Roman, a priest (probably of the 

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16 The First Year of the War. 

BOOKV. orthodox Church), and an intimate friend of Theo- 

Ch. 1 

dahad ^ They arrived at Constantinople ; they 
Rotoi of ^^^^^ ^^ *^^ presence of the Emperor ; they set 
Pet^o forth the first oflfer of Theodahad. Had Peter 

tinople, gent a private messenger to his master, or did 

he now, by ever so slight and scarcely perceptible 

a gesture, imply that, were he in Justinian's place, 

he would not accept the offered vassalage ? 

We know not, but it is certain that Justinian 

declared that the terms, abject as was their 

humbleness of surrender, did not at all please 

Theod»- him. Then Kusticus produced the Gothic King s 

produced, letter, which had been reserved for this stage 

of the negotiations. It was a strange letter to 

be written by a member of the race whose 

forefathers swept like night over the shores of 

the iEgean, by a grandson and great-nephew of 

the brave Amal kings who stood unfl.inching by 

^ BaronioB, and most of the ecclesiastical historians following 
him, suppose that this is the embassy on which Pope Agapetos 
was sent to Constantinople, and that either Kusticus is another 
name for Agapetus or else that Procopius has blundered. 
Neither supposition seems to me probable or necessary. The 
mission of Agapetus to Constantinople took place (according to 
the conjecturally altered text of Anastasius; see Clinton, 
F. R. i. 763) on the 20th of February, 536 : at least that was 
the day on which he entered Constantinople. Procopius does 
not give us precise dates for the return embassy of Peter and 
Rusticus, but according to the natural sequence of the narrative 
October or November of the previous year would be a probable 
time for it. It is most unlikely that a literary official like 
Procopius would make a mistake as to the person of Theodahad's 
ambassador at such a crisis. The mission of the Pope was 
probably a separate event. 

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TfteodahacTs Epistle, 17 

the side of Attila * in that world-earthquake ' book v. 

Ch 1 

on the Catalaunian plains. !_L 


* Theodahad to Justinian. 

' I am not, Emperor, a new comer into the 
halls of kings. It was my fortune to be born a 
king's nephew and to be reared in a manner 
worthy of my race : but I am not altogether well 
versed in war and its confusions. From the first 
I have been passionately fond of literature and 
have spent my time in the study thereof, and thus 
it has been till now my lot to be always far from 
the clash of arms. It seems therefore unwise of 
me to continue to lead a life full of danger for 
the sake of the royal dignity, when neither danger 
nor dignity is a thing that I enjoy. Not danger, 
since that new and strange sensation perturbs 
my thoughts ; not the royal dignity, since pos- 
session of it has, according to the general law, 
brought satiety. 

* Therefore, if some landed property could be 
secured to me, bringing in a yearly income of 
not less than twelve cwt. of gold [£48,000], I 
should consider that more valuable to me than 
my kingship : and I am willing on those terms to 
hand over to thee the sovereignt}'- of the Goths 
and Italians. I think that I shall thus be happier 
as a peaceful tiller of the soil than as a king 
immersed in kingly cares, no sooner out of one 
danger than into another. Send me then as 
speedily as possible a commissioner to whom I 

VOL. rv. c 

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IB The First Year of the War. 

BOOK V. may hand over Italy and all that pertains to 
^"' ^' my kingship/ 

The letter gave supreme delight to the ^m- 
peror, and obtained the following reply. 

Justinian to Theodahad. 
justinian'B * I heard long ago by cjommon fame that you 
were a man of high intelligence, and now I find 
by experience that this is true. You show your 
wisdom in declining to await the arbitrament of 
war, which has plunged some men who staked 
their all upon it into terrible disasters. You 
will never have occasion to repent having turned 
us from an enemy into a friend. You shall 
receive aU the property that you ask for, and, 
in addition, your name shall be inscribed in the 
highest rank of Roman nobility. I now send 
Athanasius and Peter to exchange the needful 
ratifications, and in a very short time Belisarius 
will come to complete the transaction thus settled 
between us/ 
Ambasaa- Athauasius was the brother of Alexander who 
to com- was sent the year before as ambassador to Athal- 
traiwao- arfc. The duties entrusted to him and to Peter 
were miiinlv to settle the boundaries of the new 
Patrimonlum which was to be assigned to Theoda- 
had, to piit the compact in writing, and to secure 
BeUswius it by oaths given and taken/ Belisarius was sent 
from SicUy for iu all spced from Sicily/ to receive charge of 
^* the fortresses, arsenals, and all the machinery 
of governmeat from the foyal trafficker. These 

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The War in Dalmatia. 19 

arrangements were probably made towards the end book v. ^ 
of the year 535. °' 

When the ambassadors arrived at the Gothic »- ^^^' . 

The war m 

Court they found the mood of Theodahad strangely i>aimAti»- 
altered. To understand the reason of the change 
we must look again at the affairs of Dalmatia. 
We left Mundus the Gepid there, holding the 
retaken capital, Salona, for Justinian. A large 
Gothic army under the command of Asiuarius 
and Grippas entered the province, apparently 
about the middle of autumn, and approached 
Salona. Maurice the son of Mundus, on a re- 
connoitring expedition, approached too near the 
main body of the Gothic army and was slain. 
Maddened with grief, the old barbarian, his father, 
fell upon the Gothic host. Though he attacked 
in too loose order he was at first successful, and 
broke the ranks of the foe, but pressing on too 
hotly in pursuit, he was pierced by the spear 
of one of the fugitives and fell dead. His fall ^^"^ <>* 

*^ ^ Mundus. 

stopped the onward movement of his troops. Both 
armies dispersed, and neither dared to appropriate 
the prize of war, the city of Salona ; the Romans 
having got altogether out of hand since the death 
of their general, and the Goths misdoubting both 
the strength of the walls and the loyalty of the 

It was some slight consolation to the Romans SibyUine • 

, prophecy, 

that these reverses robbed of its terrors an old 
Sibylline prophecy which had been much of late 
in the mouths of men. This prophecy, couched in 

c 2 

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20 The First Year of the War. 

BOOK V. mysterious characters, which are a marvel upon tlie 

^°' ^' page of Procopius ^, had been thus interpreted : — 

^^^' * First Eome reconquers Afric. Then the World 

Is with its progeny to ruin hurled.' 

Beh'sarius' capture of Carthage had seemed to 
bring the end of the world alarmingly near. But 
now the battle of Salona reassured men's minds. 
It was not the world and all its inhabitants, but 
only Mundus and his too daring son, with whose 
fate the oracle was full. 
Sftiona re- The fortuuc of the Roman arms in Dalmatia was 


by the soou retrieved. Constantian, who held the office 


troops. of Comes Stahuli^ in the imperial household, was 
536. , . 

sent with a well-equipped army to recover Salona, 

which had been entered by the Goths. Having 
apparently the entire command of the sea, he sailed 
northwards from Epidamnus (Durazzo), and was 
soon to be seen in the offing from the coast of 
Epidaurus (a little south of the modem Cattaro). 
The panic-stricken Gothic general Grippas, who was 
* informed by his scouts that * myriads of Romans were 
approaching by sea,' evacuated Salona and pitched 
his camp a little to the west of that city. Con- 
stantian sailed some hundred miles or so up the 
gulf and anchored at the island of Lissa, memorable 

* In the hope of attracting philologists to make another 
attempt at the decipherment of these characters (which have no 
doubt suffered much from transcription), I here reprint them : — 


' The Comes Stahuli is not mentioned in the Notitia, but is 
in the Theodosian Code (Lib. xi. Tit. 17. 1. 3). The Conn^table 
of mediaeval France derives his name from this officer. 

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The War in Dalmatia. 21 

to this generation for the naval battle fought there book v. 
between the Italians and Austrians in 1866. Find- ^°'^' 
ing from his scouts that Salona was deserted he *^^' 
landed his troops, occupied it in force, repaired its 
ruinous walls, and posted 500 men to occupy the 
narrow pass by which it was approached from the 
west. After seven days of tarriance, the two Gothic 
generals, with that feebleness and absence of re- 
source which mark the barbarian strategy in the 
earlier stages of this war, simply marched back 
again to Ravenna. 

Dalmatia and Libumia (or the 'province of Illy- Daimatia 
ricum'), which had for the most part followed the from the 

, Italian 

fortunes of Italy for a century and a half since the state. 
death of Theodosius, were thus permanently re- 
covered by the State, which we must in this con- 
nection call the Eastern Empire, although it was, 
to a loyal Roman, simply the Empire, one and 
undivided. From this time forward the eastern 
coast of the Hadriatic, though subject to Avar in- 
vasions, Sclavonic migrations, Bosnian kingships, 
maintained a more or less intimate political con- 
nection with Constantinople, till the conquests of 
the Venetians in the tenth century brought it back 
once more into the world of Italian domination. 

But these were the far-reaching results of the Effect of 
expedition of Mimdus. We have to do with the successes*' 
more immediate effects of the early disasters of the iL on The- 
imperial forces on that feeble and futile thing, ^ ^ ' 
the mind of King Theodahad. That royal student, 

* See vol. i. p. 276. 

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22 The First Year of the War. 

BOOKV. if versed in the 'Republic' of Plato, had not 
^ laid equally to heart the more popular philo- 
^^^' sophy of Horace. At least he conspicuously dis- 
obeyed the precepts of that familiar ode in which 
* the mortal Dellius ' is exhorted to preserve a 
temper 'serene in arduous and reasonable in pros- 
perous' circumstances. As pusillanimous as he 
had shown himself at the news of the successes of 
Belisarius, so intolerably arrogant did he become 
when the tidings reached him of the death of 
Mundus and his son. When the ambassadors who 
arrived about the same time as the news (probably 
somewhere about December 535) ventured to claim 
the fulfilment of his solemn promise to surrender 
HiBdiflpute the kingdom, he flatly refused. Peter spoke some- 
imperiai what plainly as to the royal faithlessness. Theo- 
dore, dahad petulantly answered, 'The privilege of 
ambassadors is a holy thing, but it is conceded on 
the supposition that it be not abused. It is admitted 
that the person of an ambassador who seduces the 
wife of a citizen of the country to which he is 
accredited is not sacrosanct ; and I shall not scruple 
to apply the same principle to an ambassador who 
insults the King.' Peter and Athanasius made a 
spirited reply: '0 ruler of the Goths, you are 
seeking by flimsy pretexts to cover unholy deeds. 
An ambassador may be watched as strictly as his 
entertainer pleases, and therefore the talk about 
injury to female honour is altogether beside the 
mark. But as for what the ambassador says^ be it 
good or bad, the praise or blame for it rests solely 

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The Privilege of Ambassadors, 23 

on him who sent him. The ambassador is a mere book v. 
mouthpiece, and to him attaches no responsibility ^"' ^' 
for his words. We shall therefore say all that we ^^^" 
heard jfrom the lips of the Emperor : and do you 
listen patiently, for if you become excited you 
will perhaps commit some outrage on our sacred 
character. We declare then that the time is come 
for you loyally to fulfil your compact with the 
Emperor. Here is the letter which he wrote to you. 
The notes which he has addressed to the chief men 
among the Goths we shall hand to no one but 
themselves only.' 

However, the Gothic nobles who were present Letters to 
authorised the ambassadors to hand over their nobles, 
letters to Theodahad. These despatches congra- 
tulated the Goths on the near prospect of their ab- 
sorption in the great polity of Rome, a state with 
whose laws and customs they had long ago become 
acquainted [in their capacity of Foederaii\\ and 
Justinian promised that they should find their 
dignity and credit increased, not diminished, by 
the change. 

This was not, however, the view which the The nobles 
Gothic nobles took of the situation. Whatever S*^iaha<i 
their secret contempt for the weakly truculent liUanJ^ 
character of their King, they were ready to second 
him heartily in his present mood of defiance to the 
Empire. Both sides therefore prepared for that 
which was now to be really *a truceless war\' 

^ Apparently however Theodahad, perhaps on hearing of 
Constantian's successes in Dalmatia, made one more effort at 

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24 The First Year of the War. 

BOOKV. In these preparations the winter of 535-536 wore 
"' away, and the second year of the great Gothic War 

peace by sending Pope AgapetuB to Constantinople: but the 
story of that mission will be best told a little later on, when 
we resume the thread of the Papal history. 

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Digitized by 




Sources: — 

Pjftocopius, De Bello Vandalico, ii. 10-17 (vol. i. pp. 447- BOOK v. 
490, ed. Bonn), and De Bello Gotthico, i. 8-10 (vol. ii. ^^-^ . 

PP- 38-57). 

For some African events Flavius Cresconius Corippus, 
an African man of letters, who wrote a panegyric of the 
Emperor Justin II (565-578), and a poem called ^ Jobannis ' 
in praise of the victorious campaign of John^ governor 
of Africa, against the Moors (550). This latter poem, 
which was discovered by Mazuchelli in 1814, and first 
published in i8ao, is included in the Bonn edition of the 
Byzantine historians. The style is good for so late an 
age of Latin literature. 

Guides :— 

In studying the topography of Neapolis I have received 
some assistance from Summons's 'Storia di Napoli,' but 
mj chief guides are Beloch and Capasso. 

Julius Beloch^ a German student of Italian antiquities, 
is the author of a valuable monograph (* Campanien,' 
Berlin, 1879) on the cities of Campania. Its usefulness 
is greatly increased by the beautifully executed Atlas with 
which it is accompanied. 

The Commendatore Bariolommeo Capasso, one of the first 
archseologists of Naples, has written a tract ^ Sull ' antico 
silo di Napoli e Palepoli,' which is a perfect quarry of 
information as to the Greek and Roman cities. A few 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

26 Belisarius at Carthage and at Naples. 

BOOK V details as to the course of the Neapolitan aqueducts were 
^'"- ^- furnished to me by S. Capasso personally in 1882, when I 
536. had the privilege of making his acquaintance in Naples. 

^ixi'^"" When the news of the double-dyed treachery 
to invad« of TLeodahad reached the Court of Constantinople 

Italy at . , ^ 

once. orders were despatched to Belisarius to proceed 

with all speed to Italy and push the war against 

the Goths to the uttermost. He was, however, 

hindered for some weeks from obeying these orders, 

by a sudden call to another post of danger ; a call 

which well illustrates the precarious and un- 

enduring character of Justinian's conquests and 

the inherent vices of Byzantine domination. 

^^te/b* ^^ ^^® * ^^^ ^^y® aft^r Easter, in the year 536, 

bad news probably therefore about the 30th or 31st of 

thage. March ^ when a single ship rounded the headland 

of Plemmyrium, passed the fountain of Arethusa, 

and reached the landing-place of Syracuse. A few 

fugitives leaped on land and hastened to the 

presence of Belisarius. Chief among them waa 

the Eunuch Solomon, in whose keeping, two years 

before, he had left the fortress and city of Carthage 

guarded by a triumphant Roman army. What 

causes had brought a man placed in such height 

of power, and a brave and prudent soldier, into 

so great disaster ? 

Relations Not his wars with the declared enemies of the 

theimpe- Empire, though it is worth our while to notice 

vernorof eveu here how Justinian^s conquests really paved 

* Easter Sunday fell on the 23rd of March in the year 536 
(L'Art de verifier lea Dates, p. 11). 

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Revolution at Carthage. 27 

the way for the barbariana The Vandals had book v. 

reared a kingdom in North AjGrica, semi-civilised !l^ 

it is true, but which, if left to itself, would have^^^*"*^ 

» ' ' ' the Moors. 

become wholly civilised, and which meanwhile 
was strong enough to keep the wild sons of the 
desert in check. Now, the Vandals overthrown, 
the Moors came on\ They pushed their forays 
far into the African province ; in hosts of 30,000 
and 50,000 at a time they invaded Numidia and 
Byzacene; they loudly complained that the pro- 
mises by which they had been lured into the 
Koman alliance had been left unfulfilled; and 
when Solomon ventured to remind the chiefs that 
he held their children as hostages for their good 
behaviour they replied, * You monogamist Romans 
may fret about the loss of your children. We who 
may have fifty wives apiece if it so pleases us, 
feel no fear that we shall ever have a deficiency 
of sons.' 

In two battles the Eunuch-Governor had de- 535- 
feated his Moorish antagonists ^ But still the 

' It is in a digi-ession as to the Moors, inserted at this point 
of his history, that Pmcopius introduces the often-quoted but 
improbable story of the two pillars erected by Canaanitish 
exiles near Tigisis in Numidia, with this inscription in Phceni- 
cian characters : ' We are they who fled from the face of Joshua 
the robber the son of Nun.* 

' These were the battles of Mammas and Burgaon. The 
sites of these places do not appear to be identified. Mammas 
was the only engagement that deserved to be called a pitched 
battle, and here the chief difficulty arose from the confusion 
caused in the Koman cavalry by the sight and smell of the 
camels. At Burgaon the Moors were encamped on a precipitous 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 


28 Belisarius at Carthage and at Naples. 

BooKv, Moorish chief labdas remained encamped on the 

' high and fruitful table-land of Mount Auras, thirteen 

^^^' days' journey from Carthage, and from thence at 

every favourable opportunity swept down into the 

plain, pillaging, slaying, leading into captivity; nor 

had Solomon, though he led one expedition against 

him, yet been able to dislodge him thence. 

Mutiny of Thus had events passed till the Easter of 536, 

the Roman ^ ^"^ ' 

Boidiers, and then the real, the tremendous danger of the 

Eunuch's position was suddenly revealed to him, 

in the shape of an almost universal mutiny of 

the Koman soldiers. We call them Koman in 

accordance with the usage of the times, because 

they served that peculiar political organisation at 

Constantinople which still called itself the Roman 

Republic \ and because the banners under which 

they marched to battle still bore the world-known 

letters S. P. Q. R. But, as has been already hinted, 

probably not one soldier out of a himdred in the 

imperial army could speak Latin, and many of 

them may have hardly known sufficient Greek to 

find their way about the streets of Constantinople, 

They were Heruli from the Danube, Isaurians 

from the Asiatic highlands, Huns from the steppes 

hill. By a daring night-march — not unlike that by which 
Wolfe scaled the Heights of Abraham — Solomon posted some 
troops on the summit of the hill. The Moors, panic-stricken at 
finding themselves between two attacks, rushed down the hill, 
and (according to Procopius) 50,000 of them perished in a 
precipitous ravine, without one Roman soldier being slain. 

* I think the frequent references of Procopius in the account 
of this very mutiny to r\ vo\iT€ia, illustrated by the usage of 
his contemporary Cassiodorus, justify this statement. 

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The African Land-question. 29 

of Scythia, Armenians from under the shadow of book v. 

Ararat, anything and everything but true scions 

of the old Oscan and Hellenic stocks whose deeds 
are commemorated by Livy and Thucydides. 

These men, Teutons many of them by birth, Their dis- 
and Arians by religious profession, having been hopes, 
permitted to marry the Vandal widows whose 
husbands they had slain, had expected to set- 
tle in comfort upon the Vandal lands, and live The land 
thenceforward in peace, under some loose bond of 
allegiance to the Emperor, as the new lords of 
Africa. Not such, however, was the intention of 
the bureaucracy of Constantinople. The usual' 
swarm of Logothetae^ of Agentes in rebuSy of Scri- 
niarii, settled down upon the province, intent 
upon sucking the last available aureus out of 
it for the public treasury. The lands of the 
conquered Vandals were all deemed to have re- 
verted to the state, and if the husband of a Vandal 
widow, whether he were soldier or civilian, cul- 
tivated them, it must be under the burden of a 
land-tax revised every fifteen years, so strictly as 
to make him virtually tenant at a rack-rent under 
the tax-gatherer. In many cases, not even on 
these unfavourable terms was this occupancy of 
the land assigned to the soldiers. Here, then, 
were plentiful materials for a quarrel. On .the 
one hand, a number of hot-blooded, stalwart men, 
flushed with the pride of conquest, each one with 
a remembrancer of his wrongs for ever at his ear, 
reminding him, * Such an estate or such a villa 

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30 Belisarius at Carthage and at Naples, 

BOOK V. belonged to me when I was the wife of a Vandal 

LJ_ warrior, yet thou who hast conquered Vandals art 

thyself landless/ On the other side, the Eunuch- 
Governor and the oflScial hierarchy, pleading the 
law of the State, the custom of the Empire. ' It 
was reasonable that the slaves, the ornaments, 
the portable property, should be the spoil of the 
soldiers. But the land, which once belonged to 
the Eoman Empire, must revert to the Emperor 
and the Commonwealth of Rome, who called you 
forth as soldiers, trained you, armed you, paid you, 
not in order that you should conquer these lands 
for yourselves, but that they might become public 
property and furnish rations not for you only, but 
for all the soldiers of the Empire/ 
ReiigiouB Thus was the African land-question raised. But 
there was also a religious difficulty. Many of the 
soldiers in the late army of Belisarius, especially the 
martial Heruli, were Arians. The Vandal priests 
who still remained in Africa found access to these 
men, and inflamed their minds with a recital of 
the religious disabilities to which they, the con- 
querors as much as the conquered, were subject. 
The prohibition of Justinian was positive. No 
baptism nor any other religious rite was to be 
performed by or upon any man not holding the 
full, orthodox, Athanasian faith. The time of 
Easter was drawing nigh, at which it was usual to 
baptize all the children who had been born in the 
preceding year. No child of a Herulian would be 
admitted to the holy font, no Herulian himself 

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Return of Vandals to Africa. 31 

would be permitted to share in the solemnities of book v. 

Ch 2 

Easter, unless he first renounced the creed of his Ll- 

forefathers, the creed which had perhaps been 
brought to his rude dwelling on the Danubian 
shore by some Arian bishop, disciple or successor 
of the sainted Ulfilas. 

As the evil genius of the Empire would have it, R«turn of 

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ four hun- 

there was yet a third element of disaifection cast ^^ v»n- 

•^ , dais. 

into the African cauldron. The Vandals whom 
BeUsaxius carried captive to Byzantium had been 
enrolled in five regiments of cavalry, had received 
the honourable name of ' Justinian's Vandals,' and 
had been ordered to garrison the cities of Syria 
against the Persians. The greater part proceeded 
to their appointed stations and faithfully served the 
Empire which had robbed them of their country. 
But four hundred of them, finding themselves at 
Lesbos with a favouring wind, hoisted their sails, 
forced the mariners to obey their orders, and started 
for Peloponnesus first and then for Africa. Arrived 
at the weU-remembered shore, they ran their ships 
aground, landed, and marched ofi" for the uncaptured 
stronghold of Mount Aurasius. Here they re- 
ceived a message firom the soldiers at Carthage 
who contemplated mutiny, soliciting their assist- 
ance, which, after solemn oaths and promises given 
and received, they agreed to furnish to the muti- 
neers. So, when Easter drew on, all was ripe for 

The mutineers agreed among tliemselves that Soiojnon to 
Solomon should be slain in the great Basilica of »» March. 

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32 Belisarius at Carthage and at Naples, 

BOOKv, Carthage on Good Friday, and that this crime 

—L should be the signal for the insurrection to break 

^^ ■ out. They took little care about secresy: the 
guards, the shield-bearers, many even of the house- 
hold servants of the Eunuch, were in the plot, but 
none betrayed it, so great was the longing of all 
for the Vandal lands. So, unsuspecting evil, sat 
Solomon in the great Basilica, while the ceremonies 
went forward which commemorated the death of 
Christ, and which were meant to be signalised by 
his own. The conspirators gathered round him. 
Each man, with frowns and gestures of impatience, 
motioned to his neighbour to do the deed of blood, 
but none could bring himself with his own arm 

The plot to strike the blow. Either the sanctity of the 
place, or old loyalty to their general, or else the 
still unstifled voice of conscience, prevented any 
from volunteering for the service ; and they had 
not taken the precaution of selecting the arch- 
murderer before they entered the sacred building. 
When the words 'Ite.jam missa est' came from 
the lips of the ofiSciating prelate, they hastened 
from the Basilica, each cursing the other for his 
cowardice and softness of heart. But * To-morrow,' 
said they, 4n the same place the deed shall be 

22 March, done/ On the morrow Solomon again sat in the 
great Basilica; again his would-be murderers 
assembled round him, again the same invisible 
influence stayed their hands. When the service 
was over they foamed out into the Forum, a dis- 
appointed and angry crowd. The epithets ' Traitor,' 

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Failure of the Assassination Plot. 33 

'Coward/ * Faint-heart ' were freely bandied about book v. 
among tbem, so freely that, feeling sure that their ^°'^' 
design must now be generally known, the chiefs ^^^ 
of the plot left the city and began freebooting in 
the country districts. 

When Solomon discovered the danger with which Themutiny 
he had to deal, he went round to the soldiers' quar- 
ters and exhorted those who were still remaining 
in the city to abide faithful to the Emperor. For five 
days the mutiny seemed to have been checked, but 
at the end of that time, when the soldiers within 
the city saw that their revolted comrades were 
pursuing their career of ravage outside unchecked, 
it burst out with fresh fury. The soldiers col- 
lected in the Hippodrome, and shouted out the 
names of Solomon and the other chief authorities 
in the state, loading them with every kind of coarse 
abuse* Theodore the Cappadocian, apparently the Theodore 
most popular of Solomon^s officers, was sent by him dodan 
to harangue them in soothing terms. Not a word i!^er. 
of his soft eloquence was listened to ; but believing 
him to be secretly opposed to Solomon and his 
policy, the mutineers with loud shouts acclaimed 
him as their leader. Theodore appears to have 
been a man of staimch loyalty, but he humoured 
the whim of the rebels for a few hours, in order to 
favour Solomon s escape. With loud and tumult- 
uous shouts the mutineers, self-constituted guards 
of Theodore, escorted him to the palace of the Pre- 
fect. There they found another Theodore, captain 
of the guards, a man of noble character and a 


Digitized by LjOOQIC 

34 Belisarius at Carthage and at Naples. 

BOOKV. skilled soldier, but for the moment unpopular with 
^'^' these rebels- Him they slew, and having thus 
^^^" tasted blood, they dispersed themselves through the 
city, killing every man whom they met, Koman or 
Provincial, who was suspected of being a friend of 
Solomon, or who had money enough about him to 
make murder profitable. They entered all the 
houses which were not guarded by the few still 
loyal soldiers, and carried off all the portable plun- 
der that they found there. At length night came 
on, and the mutineers, stretched in drunken sleep 
in the streets and forums of the city, rested from 

Flight of their orgie of rapine. Then Solomon and his next 

Solomon. . . 

in command, Martin, who had been cowering for 
refuge all day in the chapel of the Governor's 
palace, stole forth to the house of Theodore the 
Cappadocian. He pressed them to take food, 
though sadness and fear had well-nigh deprived 
them of appetite, and then had them conveyed to 
the harbour. A little company of eight persons 
embarked in a boat belonging to one of the ships 
under Martin's command. These eight persons 
were Solomon, Martin, five officers of the Eunuch's 
household, and — most important of all in our 
eyes — the Councillor Procopius, to whom we owe 
the whole of this narrative. After rowing in an 
open boat for nearly forty miles, the fugitive 
Governor and his suite reached Missua, on the 
opposite (eastward) shore of the bay of Tunis, a 
place which was apparently used as a kind of sup- 
plemental port, owing to the original harbour of 

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Flight of Solomon. 35 

Carthage having become too small for its traded book v. 
At Missua they felt themselves in comparative 

safety, and from hence the Eunuch despatched ^^ ' 
Martin to Valerian and the other generals com- 
manding in Numidia, on the west of the Carthagi- 
nian province, to warn them of the mutiny, and to 
endeavour, under the shelter of their forces, to win 
back by gold or favour as many as possible of the 
mutineers to their old loyalty. He also wrote to 
Theodore, giving him a general commission to act for 
the imperial interests in Carthage as might seem 
best at the time, and then Solomon himself, prob- 
ably taking some ship of war out of the roadstead 
at Missua, set sail for Syracuse with Procopius in 
his train, and, as we have seen, arrived there in 
safety to claim the assistance of Belisarius. ""^ 

Meanwhile the insurgents, who had by this time 8tut» 
found that Theodore the Cappadocian would not leader of 

, . . the rebels. 

lend himself to their seditious designs, assembled 
on the plains of Bulla ^^ a short distance to the 
south of Carthage, and there chose out Stutza^ one 

* See the very carefully written article on Carthage in 
Smith's Diet, of Greek and Roman Geography, i. 551 a. The 
words of Procopius are : Sradiovr rr rptoKoaiovs avwrcan-tt aufntanno 
it Muravvaof t6 Kapxrfiopi<op eniytiop (vol. i. p. 474)* 

* Prohahly the Bulla Mensa of Ptolemy, not Bulla Begia in 
Numidia, which is four days' journey from Carthage. (See 
Smith's Diet, of Geography, s. v. Bulla.) 

* The Byzantine form of the name, found in Procopius and 
Marcellinus, is Stotzas. But the African-bom writers, Corippus 
and Viator of Tunnuna, call him Stuzas and Stutias respectively 
(the latter change pevkaps for metrical reasons). The editor 
of Corippus suggests the German < Stutzer ' (strutter) as a deri- 
vation (p. 245, ed. Bonn). 

D 2 

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36 Belisarius at Carthage and at Naples. 

BOOK V. of the body-guard of Martin, and acclaimed him as 
— LI- their king^. Stutza, if not endowed with any great 
^^ ' strategic talents, was a man of robustness and har- 
dihood. He found under his standards no fewer 
than 8000 revolted soldiers. These were soon 
joined by 1000 Vandals, partly the recent fugitives 
from Constantinople, partly those who had escaped 
the notice of the conquering host two years before. 
They were further joined by that usual result of 
anarchy in the Roman state, a large number of 
slaves. The united host aimed at nothing less 
than driving out the imperial generals and making 
themselves lords of the whole northern coast of 
Carthiige Africa \ They at once marched to Carthage (which 
of 8u^*^ it is hard to understand why they should ever have 
rebeh. * quitted), and called upon Theodore to surrender the 
city. Josephius, one of the literary attendants of 
Belisarius^, who happened to have just arrived at 
the capital, was sent to persuade them not to 
resort to any further acts of violence ; but Stutza 
showed the soldier s disdain of the scribe and the 
mutineer s contempt of the rules of civilised war- 

* Tvpatfpov o-^iciv €iXoim>. The man who was ' tyrant ' in the 
eyes of legitimate authority can hardly have been less than 
king to his own followers. 

' Much in the same way as the Mamertine mercenaries of 
Agathocles obtained dominion in Sicily b.c. 282, or the Mame- 
lukes in Egypt in the thiirteenth century of our era. 

' The description of the character and office of Josephius 
(ii. 476), * clerk of the imperial guards' {riuf fiaaiKiw <fw\dK»w 
ypaniiaT€vs\ ^ a man of distinction and one of the household of 
Belisarius,' may at least illustrate the position of Procopius 
himself in the army. 

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Arrival of Belisarius. 87 

fare by at once putting him to death. Despair at book v. 
this ruthless deed filled the hearts of the scanty " ' 
defenders of Carthage, and they were on the point ^^ ' 
of surrendering the city to the insurgents. 

Such was the state of affairs when in an hour Amvai of 
all was changed by the arrival of Belisarius. 
He sailed from Syracuse with one ship, probably 
the same which had brought the Eunuch, aud 
with one hundred picked men of his body-guard 
on board. It was twilight when he arrived. The 
mutineers were encamped round the city, con- 
fident that on the morrow it would be theirs. 
Day dawned: they heard that Belisarius was 
inside the walls : awed by the mere name of the Departure 
mighty commander, they broke up their camp and rebels. 
commenced a disorderly retreat, or rather flight, 
never halting till they reached the city of Mem- 
bressa on the Bagradas, fifty-one Boman miles 
south-west from the capital ^ Here they at length Beiisanua 
ventured to encamp ; and here the terrible Beli- ^'*"'*"' 
sarins came up with them, having only 2000 men 
under his standards, whom by gifts and promises 
he had persuaded to return to their former loyalty. 
As Membressa itself was unwalled, neither army 
dared to occupy it. Belisarius seems to have 
crossed the Bagradas S which is not a rapid though 
a pretty copious stream, without opposition, and 

^ Equivalent to nearly 47 English milets. Procopius' measure- 
ment, 350 stadia, agrees very nearly with the 51 miles of the 
Antonine Itinerary. 

' The Bagradas i« the modem Medjerdah. 

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38 Belisarius at Carthage and at Naples. 

BOOKV. encamped near to its banks. The mutineers, 
^"•^' whose army must have been five times as large 
^^^' as his, pitched their camp on an elevated spot, 
difficult of access. Both commanders, according to 
classic custom, harangued their men, or at least the 
Thucydidean historian whom we are following thinks 
proper to represent them as thus encouraging 

Speech of their troops, Belisarius, while deploring the hard 
" necessity which compelled him to take up arms 
against the men who had once echoed his own 
pass-word, declared that they had brought their 
ruin on themselves by their unholy deeds, and 
that the devastated fields of Africa, and the 
corpses of the comrades slain by them, men whose 
only crime was their loyalty, demanded ven- 
geance. He was persuaded that the newly-raised 
tyrant Stutza would want that confidence in 
himself and in the prompt obedience of his troops 
which alone ensures success. And he ended with 
a maxim of which his own career was tp afford 
a signal verification: *It is not by the mass of 
combatants but by their disciplined courage that 
victories are won/ 

Speech of Stutza enlarged on the ingratitude which, after 
ihey had undergone the toils of war, had given 
to idle non-combatants the fruits of victory. After 
the one gleam of freedom which they had enjoyed 
during the last few weeks, a return to slavery 
would be ten times bitterer than their previous 
condition. If indeed even to live as slaves would 
be granted them, — but after the dangerous ex- 

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Defeat of the Mutineers. 39 

ample which they had set, they must expect, if book v. 
vanquished, to suffer imutterable punishments, ^^^' 
perhaps to expire in torment. They could die ^^' 
but once : let them die, if need were, free warriors 
on that battle-field. Nay, rather, let them conquer, 
as they must do, a foe so greatly their inferior 
in numbers, and whose troops in their secret 
hearts were only longing to share their freedom. 

After all this eloquence the battle was hardly Batue of 
a battle. The mutineers, finding that the windgndoa. 
blew strongly in their faces, and fearing that 
their spears would thus fail to penetrate, endea- 
voured to make a flank movement, and so to 
get to windward of the enemy. Belisarius did 
not give them time to execute this manoeuvre, 
but ordered his men to come to close quarters 
at once while the mutineers were still in disorder. 
This unexpected attack threw them into utter i>rf«^ of 
confusion. They fled in headlong rout, and did 
not draw bridle till they reached Numidia. The 
Vandals, less demoralised than the disloyal soldiers, 
for the most part refased to fly, and died upon 
the field of battle. Belisarius' army was too 
small to venture with safety upon a long pursuit, 
but the camp of the enemy was given up to be 
plundered by them. They found it richly fur- 
nished with gold and silver, the spoil of Carthage ; 
utterly deserted by the men, but fiill of women, the 
original abettors of the war, who had now, probably 
in obedience to the laws of Mars, to contract a 
third marriage, with their new conquerors. 

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40 Beltsarius at Carthage and at Naples. 

BOOKV. The rebellion appeared sufficiently crushed to 
°* ' justify Belisarius in returning to Sicily, especially 

Keto^of ^ there was a danger that the example set by 

tosf^n*"" *^® Carthaginian insurgents might be followed by 
the army stationed there. Accordingly, leaving 
his son-in-law Udiger and Theodore of Cappadoda 
in charge of the African capital, he sailed away 
to Syracuse. 

The interest which the mutiny at Carthage pos- 
sesses for us consists in the light which it throws 
on the character of Belisarius, and the ascendency 
which he exercised over a greedy and licentious 
soldiery. Its course after he disappears from the 
scene must be described as briefly as possibla 

After- The Boman generals in Numidia, five in number, 

course of ^ ° 

the rebel- finding Stutza with his band close to their frontier, 
marched hastily against him, thinking to crush 
him before he could re-form his scattered army. 
He advanced, however, into the space between 
the hostile ranks, and delivered a short and 
spirited harangue, the result of which was that 
the generals found themselves deserted by their 
troops, who went over in a body to the insur- 
gents. The generals took shelter in a neighbouring 
church, surrendered on the promise of their lives 
being spared, and were all slain by Stutza, a man 
without pity and without feith. 

MisBionof The mutlnv having thus become more formid- 

GennAniu. "^ _ , . 

able than ever, Justinian took a step which he 
would have done well to take sooner. He sent 
his nephew, the best of the nobles of the imperial 

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Germanus governor of Africa. 41 

house, the gentle and statesman-like Germanus, book v. 
with a suflScient supply of treasure to discharge ^°'^' 
the soldiers' arrears of pay, which had evidently *^^' 
been accumulating for some time ; and with in- 
structions to pursue a policy of conciliation towards 
the insurgents, declaring that the Emperor only 
desired the good of his brave soldiers, and would 
severely punish all who had injured them. The 
man and the policy were so well matched that 
Germanus, who at first found under the imperial 
standard only a third of the troops Entered on the 
African muster-rolls, had soon imder his command a 
larger number of soldiers than followed the fortunes 
of Stutza. The rebels lost heart and fled again 
into Numidia. A battle ensued at a place called Battle of 
Scalae Veteres \ the site of which does not appear Veteros. 
to have been identified. The fight was desperate 
and confrised. Bebels and loyalists were so like 
one another in outward appearance, that the troops 
of Germanus were obliged to be continually asking 
for the pass-word, in order to distioguish friend 
from foe. The horse of Germanus was killed 
under him; but in the end his standards tri- 
umphed. Stutza fled : the rebel camp was sacked 
by the victorious imperialists, who in the fury of 
plunder refused to listen even to the restraining 
voice of the general. A squadron of Moors who 

' So the translators agree in rendering the x^P^^ ^ ^h K<^* 
Xaafiarapas Kakovvi 'P»fuuoi of Procopiiis (ii. 486) : but possibly 
some other name, which might lead to the identification of the 
dte, is concealed nnder it. 

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42 Belisarius at Carthage and at Naples. 
BOOK V. had beeu hovering on the outskirts of the battle, 

Ch 2 . • 

— 1_ the professed allies of the insurgents, but waiting 

to see which side was favoured by Fortune, now 

joined the Emperor s forces in a headlong chase 

of the defeated soldiers. 

536 or 537. With the battle of Scalae Veteres the military 

idiitery rebellion was at an end. Stutza with some of 

rebeUion. ^^ Vaudals succecded in escaping to Mauritania, 

where he married the daughter of one of the 

Ketnrnof Moorish chicfs. Solomou, who on the departure 

Solomon, ■*■ 

539- of Germanus was sent to resume the government 
of Africa, expelled the Moors from Numidia as 
well as from the Carthaginian province, and for 
four years ruled these regions in peace and pros- 
Hie death, perity. In 543 some acts of ill faith on the part 
of the Eomans roused the hitherto loyal Moors 
of Tripoli and Tunis into insurrection. The chief, 
Antalas, long a faithful ally of the Eomans, headed 
the movement : and in one of the first battles of 
the war, the Eunuch Solomon, deserted by a large 
body of his troops, who accused him of parsi- 
moniously withholding from them their share of 
the spoils, fell into the hands of the enemy and 
Sergiua was slaiu. His nephew Sergius, a young ma^^ of 
governor, g^g^gg^j^jj^^g demcauour, ignorant of the art of war, 
unpopular with the generals for his arrogance, 
with the soldiers for his cowardice and effeminacy, 
with the provincials for his avarice and lust, was 
entrusted with the government of the province, 
which under his sway went rapidly to ruin. 

And now for a brief space Stutza reappeared on 

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Mtsgavernntent of Sergtus. 43 

the scene, co-operaiing with Antalas, and labouring book v. 
not altogether in vain to combine with the Moorish °* 
invasion a revival of the old military mutiny. R«»ppe«-- 

^ •' anoe of 

Sergius prosecuted the war with feebleness and^*"*"* 
ill-success. John the son of Sisinniolus S his best 
subordinate, was so disgusted by the governor's 
arrogance that he ceased to exert himself in the 
imperial cause. And after every defeat which Ser- 
gius sustained, after every successful siege by the 
Moors, a number of soldiers joined the standards 
of Stutza, who doubtless still harangued as voliibly 
as eight years ago on the grievances of the army 
and the rapacity of the oflBcials. 

At length Justinian, though by this time he^ppo^a*- 
was heartily weary of his Western conquests and Areobin- 
the endless cares in which they involved him, sent 545' 
a few soldiers and many generals to do their 
utmost towards finishing the war in AMca. Among 
the generals was Areobindus, a descendant prob- 
ably of the great Aspar, all-powerful under Mar- 
cian and Leo in the middle of the previous cen- 
tury. He was himself allied to the imperial house, 
having married Justinian's niece. Under Areo- 
bindus, John the son of Sisinniolus was willing 
to fight, and not only willing but eager. There 
was only one man in the world whom he hated 
more than Sergius, and that was the upstart 
Stutza. The hatred was mutual, and each of 
these men had been heard to say, that if he could 
only kill the other he would himself cheerfully 
* Who IB called by Coiippos, Joazmes Primus, . 

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44 Belisarius at Carthage and at Naples. 

BOOK V. expire. The double prayer was, practically, granted. 

°' ' A slender army of the imperialists — for Sergius 

Battu of '^^^^^^y refused his co-operation — met the Moorish 

Sicca Ve- \iVM and the veteran mutineer on the plain below 


Sicca Venerea, on the confines of the African and 
Numidian provinces, about lOO miles south-west 
of Carthage ^ Before the battle commenced, 
John and Stutza, instinct with mutual hatred, rode 
forth between the two armies to try conclusions 
with one another in single combat. An arrow 
from the bow of the imperial general wounded 
Death of Stutza in the groin. He fell to the earth mor- 
tally wounded, but not dead. The mutineers and 
the army of the Moors swept across the plain, 
and found him lying under a tree, gasping out 
the feeble remains of life. Full of rage they 
dashed on, overpowered the scanty numbers of 
the imperialists, and turned them to flight. John's 
horse stumbled as he was galloping down a steep 
incline : while he was vainly endeavouring to 
mount, the enemy surrounded and slew him. In 
a few minutes Stutza died, happy in hearing that 
his great enemy had fallen. In the first moment 
of the flight John had said, * Any death is sweet 
now, since my prayer that I might slay Stutza 
has been granted.' 

The events of this campaign induced Justinian 

^ An interesting deiscription of Keff, the modem representa-* 
tiye of Sicca Venerea, and a sketch of the rocky eminence on 
which its citadel stands, is given in Dr. Davis's Carthage and 
her Remains (London, 1861), pp. 604-614. Sicca played a 
not unimportant part in the war with Jugurtha. 

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Death of Stutza. 45 

at last to remove Sergius from the government book v. 
of Africa and send him to prosecute the ww in °' 

Italy. After murders, insurrections, changes of^^^^ 
ruler which it is not necessary to relate here* ^"^**** 

^ ' govemor- 

another John, distinguished as the brother of«%» 
Pappus, was appointed Magister Militum^, and 
sent to govern Africa ^ Under his administra- 54^. 

* Areobindus governor 545. Slain by Gontharls, Roman 
general in Numidia. Tyranny of Gontharis. He is slain by 
Artabanes, after thiriy-siz days' role, 545. Artabanes governor 

* It seems that at this time all pretence of goyeming Africa 
by a civil officer had vanished. The chief ruler appears to be 
always Magister Militum, not Praefectos Fraetorio. 

' The great number of persons bearing the name of the 
Apostle John is a confusing element in the history of these 
times. In the absence of surnames Frocopius is very careful to 
distinguish them by means of their family relationships. We 
ihall have two generals of the name of John to deal with in the 
Italian campaigns of Belisarius. Meanwhile in the history of 
these African affairs we distinguish the following bearers of the 
name: — 

I, John the son of Siainniolus, the enemy of Sergius and the 
alayer of Stutza. 

H. John the brother of Pappus, governor of Africa for some 
^ years after 546. He was the hero of the poem of Corippus^ 
and husband (probably) of Justina, niece of Justinian. 

m. John the Armenian, brother of Artabanes, slain in the 
same battle as No. L 

IV. John the usurper (6 rvpaivof), also called Stutza Junior, 
whom the soldiers made their leader after the death of Stutza. 
With a following of 1000 soldiers he joined the usurper Gon- 
tharis (545). After the death of Gontharis he took refuge with 
tome Vandals in a church, surrendered to Artabanes on re- 
eeiving a promise that his life should be spared, and was sent 
bound to Constantinople (545V 

(Frocop. de B. Y. iL 28, and Marcellinus Comes, s. a. 547 — 
two years too late.) 

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46 Belisarius at Carthage and at Naples. 

BOOKV. tion the province again enjoyed some years of 

L_ tolerable tranquillity, and the Moors were brought 

into order and subjection. But from decade to 
decade, the fine country which had once owned 
the sway of the Vandals sank deeper into 
ruin. Many of the provincials fled to Sicily and 
the other islands of the Mediterranean ^. The 
traveller, in passing through those regions which 
had once been most thickly peopled, now scarcely 
met a single wayfarer*. Languishing under 
barbarian inroads, imperial misgovemment, and 
iniquitous taxation, the country was ripening 
fast for the time when even Saracen invasion 
should seem a relief from yet more intolerable 
BeUwriuB Our rapid survey of events in Africa has carried 
in Italy. US ftdly ten years beyond the point which we have 
reached in the history of Italy. We go back to 
Belisarius, landing at Syracuse, on his return 
voyage from Carthage in April or May 536. The 
fears which were entertained of a re|)etition in 
Sicily of the mutinies of Carthage proved ground- 
less ; or, if there had been disaffection, the soldiers 
at the mere sight of a bom ruler like Belisarius 
at once returned to their accustomed obedience. 
He was able to administer the best antidote to 
mutiny, employment. Leaving sufficient garrisons 
in Syracuse and Palermo, he crossed from Messina 
to Beggio, and planting his standard on the 

* Procopius, De Bello Vandalico, ii. 23 (i. 512). 

• Procopius, Anecdota, xviii. (iii. 106). 

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The Byzantines in Magna Graecia, 47 

Italian soil, was daily joined by large numbers of book v. 
the inhabitants. °' 

Belisarius was now in Magna Graecia, that region f^^^\ 
which, in the seventh century before the birth q{^)j^^ 

. . . *"* Magna 

Christ, was so thickly sown with Hellenic colonies Graeda. 
that it seemed another Hellas. Down to the time 
of the wars of Eome with Pyrrhus and the Taren- 
tines (b. c. 281-272) this Grecian influence had 
lasted unimpaired. How far it had in the suc- 
ceeding eight centuries been obliterated by the 
march of Roman legions, by the foundation of 
Roman colonies, by the formation of the slave- 
tilled latifundia of Roman proprietors, there are 
perhaps not sufficient materials to enable us to 
decide. Certainly the Byzantine re-conquest was 
both easier and more secure in Calabria and 
Apulia than in any other part of Italy. One 
cause of this was that there were fewer Goths 
in the south than in the north. Possibly another 
cause may have been that still existing remem- 
brances of the golden age of Magna Graecia took 
the sting out of the taunt, * They are but Greek- 
lings ^' which was sometimes applied, not by 
Goths only, but by Italian provincials, to the 
invaders from Byzantium. To trace out the re- 
mains of this lingering Hellenic feeling, and to 
distinguish them from the undoubted and con- 
siderable influence exerted on Southern Italy by 
the Greeks of Constantinople from the sixth 
century to the twelfth, would be an interesting 
* * Qraeculi ieti* 

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48 Belisarius at Carthage and at Naples. 
BOOK V. labour ; but it is one which lies beyond our 

Ch. 2. , . - 

present province \ 

Evimud -^^ ^^gg^o Belisaxius received an accession to 
th6Goth jj^ig ranks, which showed the weakness of the 

jouiB the ' 

invftdors. national feeling of the Goths. No less a person- 
age than Evermud, the son-in-law of Theodahad, 
who had been entrusted with a detachment of 
troops to guard the Straits, came with all his 
retinue * into the Roman camp, prostrated himself 
at the feet of Belisarius, and expressed his desire 
to be subject to the will of the Emperor*. His 
unpatriotic subserviency was rewarded. He was 
at once sent to Constantinople, that haven of rest 
and luxury, which all Romanised Goths languished 
to behold, and there received the dignity of Patri- 
cian and many other rewards from the hand of 

Advance The Romau army marched on imopposed and 

to Naples. i i i n i V i /i 

supported by the parallel movement oi the fleet, 
through the province of Bruttii and Lucania*. 
They crossed the wide bed of the Silarus ; they 
entered the province of Campania. Still no Gothic 
army disputed the passage of any river, nor 

* Of course all tliat is bere said about the old and new 
Helleniam of South Italy applies, with certain modifications, to 
Sicily also. 

■ For the received text f w itomtI ro« ^o/ACMur, the altemative 
reading ^i^ voxtk r. c., found in HoeschePs edition, seems to give 
a better sense. 

' Jordanes (De Reb. Oet. Iz. and De Beg. Succ. 370) gives 
the Qothic form of Procopius' Ebrimuth, and supplies a few 

^ One province, not two, at the time of the Notitia. 

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* r 

^.-iikftia. :. 


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Naples^ Ancient and Modern. 49 

threatened them from any mountain height. At book v. 
length they reached a strong city by the sea^ °' 
defended by a large Gothic garrison, the city of *^^" 
Neapolis, the modem Naples. Before this place 
Belisarius was to tarry many days. 

The modern city o£ Naples is divided into twelve Compari- 
quartieri. It is built along a winding and beauti- cient and 
fully irregular shore-line, of which it occupies four Naples, 
miles in length, varying in breadth from one mile 
to two and a-half, according to the nature of the 
ground. By a recent census it contained about 
46o,cxx) inhabitants. The Neapolis of the Koman 
Empire occupied a space only a little overlapping 
one of the twelve modem quartieri^ that of S. Lo- 
renzo. It formed an oblong about looo yards in 
length by 800 in breadth. Apparently we have 
no means of stating its exact population at any 
period of the Empire ; but, if we conjecture it at 
a twelfth of the population of the modem city, we 
shall probably be exaggerating rather than depre- 
ciating the number of its inhabitants. 

It is thus evident that the modem traveller 
must unclothe himself of many of his remem- 
brances of the existing city of Naples in order 
to form anything like an accurate idea of the place 
which Belisarius besieged. It may be well to pro- 
ceed by the method of rejection, and to indicate 
the chief points, conspicuous in a modem panorama 
of Naples, which we must eliminate in order to 
obtain the true value of the ancient Neapolis. 
Starting, then, from the western extremity, from 

VOL. rv. E 

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50 Belisarius at Carthage and at Naples. 

BOOK V. Posilippo and the Tomb of Virgil, we come first to 
°' the houses which look upon the long drives and 
shrubberies of the Kiviera di Chiaia. We see at a 
glance that these are modem. They no more be- 
long to the classical, or even the mediasval, city 
than the Champs filysdes of the French capital 
belong to the Lutetia of Julian or the Paris of the 
Valois kings. But two natural strongholds arrest 
the eye as we move onwards towards the city : on 
the right the little fortress-crowned peninsula of 
Castello deir Ovo, on the left the frowning ridge 
of the all-commanding Castle of St. Elmo. With 
the first we have already made acquaintance. The 
site of the villa of LucuUus, the luxurious gilded 
cage of the deposed Augustulus, the shrine of the 
sainted Severinus, it suggests interesting specu- 
lations as to who may have been its occupants 
when the trumpets of Belisarius sounded before 
its walls, but it is emphatically no part of the city 
of Neapolis. Saint Elmo brings vividly before us 
the differences between ancient and modern warfare. 
From the fourteenth century onwards (at least till 
the most recent changes in the science of gunnery 
deprived it of its importance) it was emphatically 
{he stronghold of Naples. He who held that ^ 
tyrannous crest of rock virtually held the town. 
And yet in the wars of the Eomans and the Goths 
this magnificent natural fortress seems to have 
been absolutely unimportant. The nearest houses 
of Neapolis were about three-quarters of a mile 
distant from the base of Saint Elmo, and in those 

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Naples^ Ancient and Modern. 51 

days of catapults and bab'stae this distance would book v. 
seem to have been enough to rob even such an °' 
eminence of its terrors ; otherwise we must surely 
have heard of its being occupied by BeUsarius. We 
move forwards to the east, still keeping tolerably 
near the shore. The far-famed Theatre of San 
Carlo, the Bourbon Palace with its rearing horses in 
bronze, the massive Castel Nuovo, and the two har- 
bours below it, all these are outside of the ancient 
city. Outside of it too is the quaint and dingy 
Largo del Mercato, that most interesting spot to 
a lover of mediaeval Naples, where market-women 
chatter and chaflFer over the stone once reddened 
with the blood of Conradin, where a poet's ear 
might still almost hear the gauntlet of the last 
of the Swabians ring upon the pavement, sum- 
moning his Aragonese kinsman to the age-long 
contest with the dynasty of Anjou. All this is 
Naples, but not Neapolis. Where then is the an- 
cient city? Turn back towards the north-west, 
strike the busy street of the Toledo about a third 
of the way up on its course from the sea. Here at Limits of 

. Neapolis. 

length we are, not at, but near, the site of the 
classical city, whose western wall once ran parallel 
to the Toledo at a distance of about 150 yards 
to the right. The Piazza Cavour (Largo delle 
Pigne) and Strada Carbonara lie a little outside 
of the northern boundary of Neapolis. Castel 
Capuano (near the modern railway station) marks 
its extreme eastern point. The southern wall ran 
along a little 'range of higher ground (now nearly 

E 2 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

52 Beltsarius at Carthage and at Naples. 

BOOKv. levelled with the plain below it), at a distance of 
U_ some two or three hundred yards from the coast- 
line, from the Church of the Annunziata to the Uni- 
versity. One suburb on the west perhaps once 
extended about half-way from the western wall of 
the ancient city to the Toledo, and another on the 
south may probably have filled up in a similar way 
the interval between the city and the sea^ 
Tracee of The block of OTound thus indicated once stood 

the old Ro- , f , 

man city. Qut — difficult as it is uow to bcUeve it — somewhat 
abruptly above the surrounding plain ^. Even now, 
looking at it on the map, we can trace in it the 
handiwork of the Roman surveyors. Its three 
broad 'Decuman' streets running from east to 
west (Strada Nilo\ Strada dei Tribunali, and Strada 
Anticaglia), intersected by twenty-three * Cardines* 
running from north to south, still, notwithstanding 
the alterations made in them to gratify the Nea- 
politan passion for church building, exhibit an 
appearance of regularity and rectangularity con- 
spicuously absent in the other part of the city, 
the haphazard growth of the Middle Ages. Roman 
remains have at various times been discovered 
under almost the whole of the space denoted 

^ CapaBso thinks that the sea has not here receded more than 
a few yards since the days of the Eomans. 

' This seems to be the general opinion of the topographers, 
yet the measurements given by Beloch (p. 63) of the level at 
which Eoman remains have been found, do not seem to give 
a depth of more than about twenty feet for the depression 
north of the city. 

^ With its continuation Strada Biagio and Strada Forcella. 

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Naples and Pompdu 63 

above, but nothing is now left for the lover of book v. 

• • Ch 2 

Boman antiquity to gaze upon save two Co- L_L 

rinthian eolumns of the Temple of the Dioscuri 
built into the church of S. Paolo Maggiore, and 
some faint traces of the ancient Theatre lingering 
in the yards and cellars of the Strada Antlcaglia^ 

Fortunately we have an excellent aid to theLikemeMof 
imagination in endeavouring to bring before the PompeU. 
mental vision the Neapolis which Procopius gazed 
upon. The neighbouring town of Pompeii is very 
similar in dimensions and shape, and was probably 
very similar in character ^ Only we must suppose 
that nearly five centuries — centuries upon the 
whole rather of the decay of art than of its de- 
velopment — had passed over the Tahlina and the 
Triclinia of the buried city to make it correspond 
with its surviving neighbour. The heathen tem- 
ples must be imagined to have fallen somewhat 
into decay, and several Christian basilicas must be 
allowed to have grown up under their shadow. The 
fact that the four oldest parish churches in Naples' 
— S. Giovanni Maggiore, Santi Apostoli, 8. Giorgio 
Maggiore, and S. Maria Maggiore — all . belong to 
the district whose confines we have traced, is an in- 
teresting confirmation of the truth of its antiquity*. 

^ Between the Vico di S. Paolo and the Vico dei Giganti. 

' Pompeii as well as Neapolis seems to hare been about 
looo yards long by 8oo broad. 

' The Duomo (dedicated to S. Gennaro), though situated 
within this district and on the site of the temples of Neptune 
and Apollo, dates from the period of the Angevin kings. 

* The alluring pursuit of all enquirers into the earliest 

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54 Beltsartus at Carthage and at Naples. 

BOOKV. Belisarius stationed his fleet in the harbour, 

' where they were beyond the range of the pro- 

%\^\ jectiles of the enemy. A Gothic garrison stationed 

op^tioM in c ^jjg suburb ' (possibly the suburb between the 

""«• city and the sea) at once surrendered to the in- 

Embassy vadcrs. Then a message was sent to the Roman 

citizens, general asking him if he would consent to receive 

a deputation of some of the principal inhabitants 

of the city, anxious to confer with him for the 

public welfare. He consented, and the deputation, 

with one Stephanus at its head, appeared before 

Kpeechof him. Stephauus pleaded the hard case of the 

p anu8. jj^jjjg^j^ citizens of Naples, summoned by a Roman 

army to surrender their town, and prevented from 

doing so by a Gothic garrison. Nor were even 

these Gothic soldiers free agents. Their wives 

and children were in the hands of Theodahad, who 

would assuredly visit upon them any fault which 

history of Neapolis is the attempt to fix the site of Palaepolis, 
the elder sister of that city, like her founded from Cumae, but 
ultimately absorbed in or obliterated by the greatness of her 
younger rival. Many Neapolitan archaeologists fix Palaepolis 
on the east of the other city. Niebuhr, with a somewhat 
amusing positiveness, fixes it far to the west, near Posilippo. 
S. Capasso contends for a nearer position on the south-west, at 
the Castel Nuovo and on the site of the present Palazzo Reale. 
Beloch argues that there never was such a city as Palaepolis, 
and that the mention of it is due to a misunderstanding of the 
word Palaepolitani — the old citizens of Neapolis as opposed to 
some new settlers. But in the face of Livy's clear statement 
(viii. 22) as to the situation of the two cities, and the record in 
the Triumphal Fasti of the victory of Publilius over the 
' Samnites Palaeopolitanei,' this seems too bold a stroke of 
historical scepticism. 

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speech of Stephanus. 65 

the garrison might commit towards him. In these book v. 
cruel circumstances the citizens begged Belisarius ^'^' 
not to press upon them his summons to surrender. ^^^' 
After all, it was not there, but under the walls of 
Eome, that the decisive engagement would have to 
be fought. If Eome were reduced to the Emperor's 
obedience, Neapolis must inevitably follow its ex- 
ample. If the general were repulsed from Eome, 
the possession of a little city like Neapolis would 
avail him nothing. 

Belisarius coldly thanked the orator for his Reply of 
advice as to the course of the campaign, but 
announced his intention of conducting the war 
according to his own notions of military expe- 
diency. To the Roman inhabitants he oflFered the 
choice of freedom to be achieved by his arms ; or 
slavery, they themselves fighting to keep the yoke 
upon their necks. He could hardly doubt what in 
such circumstances their choice would be, especially 
as the prosperous condition of the loyal Sicilians 
showed that he was both able and willing to keep 
the promises which he made in the name of the 
Emperor. Even to the Goths he could oflFer 
honourable terms. Let them either enter his 
army and become the servants of the great Monarch 
whom the civilised world obeyed, or, if they refused 
this proposal, on the surrender of the city they 
should march out unharmed (it is to be presumed 
with the honours of war), and depart whither they 

Stephanus, whose patriotism had been quick- 

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56 Belisarius at Cartfiage and at Naples. 

BOOK V. ened by the promise of large rewards to himself 
"' if he could bring about the surrender of the city, 
DedtoLin ^trove earnestly to induce his fellow-citizens to 
the city, accept the terms of Belisarius. He was seconded 
in these eflForts by a Syrian merchant named Antio- 
chus, long resident in Neapolis, a man of great 
wealth and high reputation. Two orators how- 
ever, named Pastor and Asclepiodotus, also men 
of great influence in the city, stood forth as the 
advocates of an opposite policy, one of loyalty 
to the Goths and resistance to Byzantium. If we 
are perplexed at finding professed rhetoricians and 
men of letters (one of whom bears a Greek name) 
championing the cause of the barbarians, we 
may remember the life-long loyalty of Cassiodorus 
to the house of Theodoric, and may conjecture 
that other men of like training to his had been 
induced to enter the Gothic service. Some of 
these, like the two rhetoricians now before us, 
may have had statesmanship enough to see that 
the so-called * Roman liberty' which was oflered 
to the Italians would mean only a change of 
masters, and that change not necessarily one for 
the better, 
Belisarius By the advicc of Pastor and Asclepiodotus, the 
offered dcmauds of the Neapolitans were raised so high 
capituia- that iu their opinion Belisarius would never grant 
*^' them. A memorandum containing these demands 
was presented by Stephanus to the General, who 
accepted them and confirmed his acceptance by 
an oath. On the news of this favourable reply 

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Pastor and Asckpiodotns. 57 

the pressure in favour of surrender became so book v. 
strong that the Gothic garrison alone would not ^'^' 
have ventured to resist it. The common people ^^^" 
had begun to stream down towards the gates 
with the intention of opening them : but then the 
two orators 'whose sentence was for open war' 
gathered the Goths and the principal Neapolitans 
together and again harangued them in support of 
their views : ' The mob have taken this thought of Pastor and 
surrender into their minds and are eager to execute dotua 
it^ But we, who deem that they are rushing oppweSie 
headlong to ruin, are bound to consult you, the ""™" ^'* 
leaders of the state, and to put our thoughts before 
vou, the last contribution that we can make to the 
w^elfare of our country. Tou think that, because 
you have the promise and the oath of Belisarius, 
you are now relieved from all further danger of 
the horrors of war. And if that were so, we 
should be the first to advise you to surrender. 
But how can Belisarius guarantee your future 
security? He is going to fight the nation of 
the Goths under the walls of Rome. Suppose 
that he does not gain the victory : you will have 
the Gothic warriors in a few days before your 
gates breathing vengeance against the cowardly 
betrayers of their trust*. And on the other hand, 
if he wins, even on that most favourable supposi- 

' From this and other passages there seems some reason to 
conclude that the aristocratic party at Naples were at this time 
in favour of the Gk)thic dominion, the democracy in favour of 
the Byzantine. 

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58 Belisarius at Carthage and at Naples. 

BOOKV. tion you will have to make up your minds to 

!!l1. the permanent presence of an imperial garrison 

^^ ' in your town. For the Emperor, though he may 
be much obliged to you for the moment for re- 
moving an obstacle out of his path, will not 
fail to make a note of the fact that the Nea- 
politans are a fickle and disloyal people, not safe 
to be trusted with the defence of their city. No : 
depend upon it, you will stand better both with 
friends and foes if you do not lightly surrender 
the trust committed to your hands. Belisarius 
cannot take the city : the magnitude of the 
promises which he makes to you is the plainest 
proof of that. You have strong walls and an 
abundant supply of provisions. Only stand firm 
for a few days and you will see the cloud of war 
Jewish roll away from your borders.' With this the ora- 
the Goths, tors brought forward some Jews to vouch for the 
fact that Neapolis was well provisioned for a siege. 
The Israelite nation were always in favour of the 
tolerant rule of Theodoric and his successors as 
against the narrow bigotry of Byzantium. Ap- 
parently, in this instance, they were able to speak 
with authority, being the merchants by whose aid 
the needful stores of provision had been procured. 
Negotia- The rcsult of the harangue of the two orators, 
slSlnder backcd by the assurances of the Hebrews, was 
ro en o . j^^^ ^^ party of surrender was outvoted, and 
Belisarius, sorely vexed at the delay, but unwilling 
to leave so strong a place untaken in his rear, had 
to set about the siege of Neapolis. 

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The Omen of tJu H:;s. Vb 

The citizens, having rescJTed -u a svi.\*ztzl £— b>:« 
fence, appealed, as thev had ab^ 

do, to Theodahad for assistance. TLit r:S^*eri *> ^J^". 
prince, utterly imreadv for war, se*-L:^ t:- LiTr^-'*'*^ 
allowed the precious winter n::::tLs :: flz- :/ 
without making any preparatioos -if Iii:».r:iij:^. 
and was now seeking to divineis arfi ?.•: ii=£ j-er^ 
for knowledge as to that furore wl:;L 1^ L. i 
done nothing to mould. His r l^i>s=? '^t r^z^i's^z 
might have made him femn-^r w:tL tL-r v^- 
known saying of Hector, — 

But instead of this robust deterc::i-^t; :-n Vj czzl-ti^.u:.^:, 
quer Fortune, the dreamy mystickm of lis owti ff ^ 
Etruria, intent for centuries on foricz over tie 
page of futurity, swayed the nerveless sibiz of 
Theodahad. The manner of divinatkn. e:r.ciertie*l 
between him and a Jewidi magician, was rAi-Ti' 
lous enough to have been practised by any ThOTL^in 
augur. Thirty hogs, divided into three l«atcLes o:*Oh« if 
ten each, were shut up in three separate j'eii^. 
One was labelled ' Troops of the Emperor,' an-jther 
* Goths,' and the last * Romans.' The unfortunate 
animals were then left for a certain number of 
days without food. When the pens were opened, 
it was found that the Gothic hogs had all perished 
save two, that of the Roman animals half had 
died and the remaining half had lost all their 

^ 'No better omen than his own ri^^ hand 
Inspires the warrior for his natire land.' 

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60 Beltsarius at Carthage and at Naples. 

BOOKv. bristles, while the Imperialists were nearly all 
^°'^' alive and seemed to have suflered nothing from 
^^^' their captivity. The inference was obvious. The 
Gothic race was doomed to almost utter exter- 
mination; the provincials of Italy should suffer 
cruel hardships and the loss of all their property, 
but half of the nation should survive the war ; 
while the Byzantine invaders alone should emerge 
from it fat and flourishing. After this augury 
of the hogs, Theodahad felt himself even less pre- 
pared than before to send effectual succour to the 
Vigorous The citizens, however, were making so good a 
oftheNe- defence that it seemed as if they might be able 
*^° ' to do without reinforcements. The steepness of 
the approaches to the walls, the narrow space 
between them and the sea, which left no room 
for the evolutions of troops, and possibly some 
defect in the harbourage which made it difficult for 
the ships to approach near enough to hurl pro- 
jectiles into the city, all made the task of Beli- 
sarius one of unusual difficulty. He had cut off 
the aqueduct which brought water from Serino, in 
the valley of the Samnite river Sabatus, into 
Neapolis ; but there were so many excellent wells 
within the enclosure that the inhabitants scarcely 
perceived any diminution of their water-supply. 
Discou- As day passed on after day and still no breach 
of Bdisa- was made in the walls, and many of his bravest 
soldiers were falling in the useless assaults, Belisa- 
rius, chafing at the delay, began bitterly to repent 

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The Isaurian in the Aqueduct, 61 

that he had ever undertaken the siege. It was book v. 
Btill perhaps only Jane ^ but twenty days of the -^.^ 
siege had ahready elapsed, and at this rate it would ^^^* 
be winter before he met Theodahad and the great 
Gothic host under the walls of Rome. 

At this crisis, when he was on the point ofTi^eiMu- 

li&n in the 

giving the order to the soldiers to collect their aq^edact. 
baggage and raise the siege, one of his body-guard, 
an Isaurian named Faucaris, brought him tidings 
which gave him a gleam of hope. One of his 
fellow-countrymen, a private soldier, clambering, 
as these Isaurian mountaineers were in the habit 
of doing, up every steep place that they could 
scale, had come to the end of the broken aqueduct. 
Curious to see the «pecti« or channel along which 
the water had once flowed, he had entered through 
the aperture, which had been imperfectly closed by 
the defenders of the city, and crept for some dis- 
tance along the now waterless conduit. At length 
he came to a part of its course where it was taken 
through the solid rock, and here, to save labour, 
the diameter of the B'pecu^ was smaller, too small 
for a man in armour to creep through it. Yet he 
deemed that the hole might be widened suffi- 
ciently to remove this difficulty, and that it 
would then be possible to penetrate by this 
forgotten passage into the city itself. Belisa- 

* Procopius' indications of time are not very clear at this 
point) but I conjecture that the siege of Neapolis may have 
occupied the last twenty days of June, perhaps reaching on 
into July. The deposition of Theodahad, which was its imme- 
diate result, occurred in August. 

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62 Belisarius at Carthage and at Naples, 
BOOKV. rius at once perceived the importance of the dis- 

Ch. 2 

covery, and sent some Isaurians, with the utmost 
^^ ' secrecy, under the guidance of their countryman 
Theaque- to accomplish the desired excavation. They used 

duct made 

practica- no axc OX hammer, that they might not alarm the 


enemy. Patiently, with sharp instruments of steel 
they filed away at the rock, and at length returned 
to the General, announcing that there was now a 
practicable passage through the aqueduct. 
BeiianriuB But bcfore attempting by this means the assault 
citizens of the city, Belisarius determined to make one 
chance of morc cfiort to pcrsuadc the inhabitants to sur* 
render. Sending for Stephanus, he said to him 
(in words which remind us of a well-known utter- 
ance of our own Duke of Wellington), * Many are 
now the cities that I have seen taken, and I am 
perfectly familiar with all that goes on at such 
a time, — the grown men slain with the edge of 
the sword ; the women suffering the last extremity 
of outrage, longing for death but unable to find 
one friendly destroyer ; the children driven oflF into 
bondage, doomed to sink from an honourable con- 
dition into that of half-fed and ignorant boors, 
slaves of the very men whose hands are red with 
the blood of their parents : and besides all this, 
the leaping flames destroying in an hour all the 
comeliness of the city. I can see as in a mirror, 
my dear Stephanus, your fair city of Neapolis 
undergoing all these horrors which I have beheld 
in so many of the towns that I have taken ; and 
my whole soul is stirred with pity for her and 

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Belisarius on the horrors of War. 63 

her inhabitants. She is a city of old renown, book v. 
They are Romans and Christians, and I have ^•^- 
many barbarians in my army, hard to restrain 53<>- 
at any time, and now maddened by the loss of 
brethren and comrades who have fallen in the 
siege. I will tell you honestly that you cannot 
escape me. The plans which I have made are 
such that the city mu^ fall into my hands. Be 
advised by me, and accept an honourable capitu- 
lation while you can. If you refuse, blame not 
Fortune, but your own perversity for all the 
miseries that shall come upon you.' With tears The citi- 
and lamentations Stephanus delivered to his fellow- not accept 
citizens the message of Belisarius ; but they, con- 
fident in the impregnability of their city, still 
abjured every thought of surrender. 

As there was no possibility of avoiding thePrep«r»- 
assault, Belisarius proceeded to make his plans theMsauit. 
for it as perfect as possible. At twilight he 
chose out four hundred men whom he placed 
under the command of Magnus, a cavalry officer, 
and E/nes, a leader of the Isaurians. Though 
we are not expressly told that it was so, there 
seems some reason to suppose that the half of 
this force commanded by EtiSpes was itself of 
Isaurian nationality; and no doubt both Paucaris 
and the original discoverer of the passage took 
part in the expedition. The men were fully 
armed with shield, breastplate, and sword, and 
two trumpeters went with them. The whole 
secret of the plan was then disclosed to Magnus 

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64 Belisarius at Carthage and at Naples. 

BOOK V. and Evies ; the spot was indicated where they 

1-L were to enter the aqueduct, and from whence with 

^^ ' lighted torches they and their four hundred were 

to creep stealthily into the city. Meanwhile the 

Roman host was kept under arms ready for action, 

and the carpenters were set to work preparing 

ladders for the assault. 

Some of the At first the General had to endure a disappoint- 

party turn mcut. Fully ouo half of the aqueduct party — the 

hearted. uon-Isaurian half if our conjecture be correct — 

when they had crept for some distance through 

the dark channel, declared that the deed was too 

dangerous, and marched back to the entrance, the 

reluctant and mor-tified Magnus at their head. 

others Bclisarius, who was still standing there surrounded 

volunteer. , /» i i • i 

by some oi the bravest men in the army, had no 
diflSculty in at once selecting two hundred volun- 
teers to take the place of the recreants ; and his 
gallant stepson Photius, claiming to be allowed 
to head the expedition, leapt eagerly into the 
aqueduct. The General thought of Antonina, and 
forbade her son to venture through the channel ; 
All go for- but the example of his bravery and the bitter 
taunts of Belisarius so stung the waverers, that 
they too returned into the aqueduct, thus appar- 
ently raising the numbers of the storming party to 
six hundred. 
Bessas en- Fearing that so large a detachment might make 
Stention some uoisc which would be heard by the Gothic 
riBon^ ^" sentinels, the General ordered his lieutenant Bessas 
to draw near to the walls and engage their attention. 

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The Soldiers in the Aqueduct 66 

Bessas harangued them accordingly in his and book v. 
their native tongue, enlarging on the rich rewards °' 
of the imperial service, and advising them to enter *^^' 
it without delay. They replied with taunts and 
insults ; but the object was gained. In the storm 
of the debate, amid all the crash of Teutonic 
gutturals, any muffled soimds ifrom the region of 
the aqueduct passed unheeded. 

The storming party were now within the circuit Exit from 
of the walls of Neapolis, but they found themselves dnct. 
penetrating further than they wished; and how 
to emerge into the city was as yet by no means 
apparent. A lofty vaulted roof of brick was over 
their heads. They seem to have been standing 
in what would have been a great reservoir had 
the aqueduct been still flowing. Despair seized 
the heart of those who had already entered the 
place, and the column of soldiers still pressing 
on from behind made their situation each moment 
more perilous. At length those in front saw a 
break in the vaulting above them, by the break 
the outlines of a cottage, by the cottage an olive- 
tree. It was hopeless for armed soldiers to climb 
up that steep reservoir-side ; but one brave fellow, 
an Isaurian doubtless, laid aside helmet and 
shield, and with hands and feet scrambled up the 
wall. In the cottage he found one old woman 
in a state of abject poverty. He threatened her 
with death if she stirred or shrieked. She was 
mute. He fastened a strong strap which he had 
brought with him to the stem of the olive-tree. 


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66 Belisartus at Carthage and at Naples. 

BOOKV. His comrades grasped the other end, and one 
^' by one all the six hundred mounted without 
*^^" accident. 
The aque. By this time the fourth ^atch of the night had 
lignai to begun. The storming party rushed to the north- 
radeB. om ramparts, beneath which they knew that Beli- 
sarius and Bessas would be stationed, slew two 
of the sentinels who were taken unawares, and 
then blew a long blast on their bugles. At once 
the Byzantine soldiers placed the ladders against 
the walls and began to mount. Destruction! 
The ladders, which had been hurriedly made in 
the darkness by the army-carpenters, were tok) 
short, and did not rea^h to the foot of the battle- 
ments. They were taken down again, and two 
of them were hastUy but securely fastened to- 
gether. Now the soldiers could mount. They 
poured over the battlements. On the north side 
at any rate the city 'was won. 

On the south, between the sea and the wall, 
the task of the assailants was somewhat harder. 
There, not the Goths, but the Jews kept watch; 
the Jews ever embittered against the persecuting 
Government of Constantinople, and now fighting 
with the courage of despair, since they knew that 
the part which they had taken in opposing the 
surrender had marked them out for vengeance. 
But when day dawned, and they were attacked 
in their rear by assailants ifrom the other part of 
the city, even the Jews were obliged to flee, and the 
southern gates were opened to the Byzantines. 

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Neapolis sacked. 67 

The besiegers on the east side, where no serious book v. 
assault had been contemplated, had no sealing '^" ' 
ladders, and were obliged to burn the gates of the ^he^^t 
city before they could effect an entrance. By this **^®"- 
time the whole troop of semi-barbarians called the 
Boman army was pouring through the town, mur- 
dering, ravishing, plundering, binding for slavery, 
even as Belisarius had prophetically described. 
The Huns who were serving under the banners 
of the Empire, and who were no doubt still 
heathens, did not respect even the sanctity of the 
churches, but slew those who had taken refuge 
at the altars. 

Then Belisarius collected his troops together, Beiisanus 

6zliorti hiH 

probably in the great Forum of the city, and de-aoidier»to 
livered a harangue in which he besought them not fui. 
to tarnish the victory which God had given them 
by unholy deeds. The Neapolitans were now 
no longer enemies, but fellow-subjects: let them 
not sow the seeds of irreconcilable hatred by a 
bloody butchery in the first city which they had 
taken. With these words, and with the assurance 
that all the wealth which they could lay hands 
upon should be theirs, as the fitting reward of 
their valour, he persuaded the soldiers to sheathe 
their swords, and even to unbind their captives 
cmd restore wives to their husbands, children to 
their parents. Thus, says the historian, did the 
Neapolitans — those at least of them who escaped 
the massacre — pass in a few hours from jBreedom 
to slavery, and back again firom slavery to freedom, 

F 2 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

68 Belisartus at Carthage and at Naples 

BooKV. and even to a certain measure of comfort. For 
^°'^' they had succeeded in burying their gold and 
^^^' all their most precious property; and after the 
storm of war had passed they were able to re- 
cover it. 

The Gothic Eight hundred Gothic warriors were taken pri- 

^*" soners in the city. Belisarius protected them from 

outrage at the hands of his soldiery and kept them 

in honourable captivity, treating them in all respects 

like soldiers of his own. 

Fate of The unhappy leaders of the war-party attested 

by their end the sincerity of their advice. Pastor, 
who was previously in perfect health, when he saw 
that the city was taken, received so violent a shock 
that he had a stroke of apoplexy which proved im- 
mediately fatal. Asclepiodotus with some of the 
nobles of the city presented himself boldly before 

Violent r6- Bclisarius. Stephanus, in his grief at the calami- 

stephanuB. tics which had befallen his native city, assailed 
with bitter reproaches 'that betrayer of his country, 
that wickedest of men, who had sold his city in 
order to curry favour with the Groths. Had the 
cause of the barbarians triimiphed, Asclepiodotus 
would have enounced the pa riots as traitors and 
hounded them to the death. Only the valour of 
Belisarius had delivered them from this calamity.' 
With some dignity Asclepiodotus replied that the 
invective of Stephanus was really his highest praise, 
since it showed that lie had been firm in his duty 
to those whom he found set over him. Now 
that by the fortune of war Neapolis had passed 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Fate of the orators of the war-party. 69 

under the power of the Emperor, Asclepiodotus book v. 
would be found as faithful a servant of the 

Empire as he had been of the Goths, while *^' 
Stephanus at the first whisper of ill-fortune 
would be found veering back again from his new 
to his old allegiance. 

We are not told what part Belisarius took in Deatib of 
this quarrel. The populace followed Asclepio- dotnc 
dotus on his departure from the general's tent, 
assailed him with reproaches as author of all their 
miseries, and at length slew him and mangled his 
remains. Then seeking the house of Pastor, they 
would not for a long time believe his slaves who 
assured them of his death. Satisfied at last by 
the sight of his dead body, they dragged it forth 
from the city and himg it ignominiously on a gibbet. 
They then repaired to the quarters of Belisarius, 
told him what they had done, and craved pardon 
for the display of their righteous indignation, a 
pardon which was readily granted. 

So ended the Byzantine siege of Naples. The 
only remembrance of it which, in the changed 
circumstances of the city, a modem traveller can 
obtain, is fiirnished by a few red arches which, 
under the name of Ponti Bossi, traverse one of 
the roads leading north-eastwards from the city, 
a little below the royal palace of Capo di Monte. 
At this point apparently the aqueduct which Jed 
into the city of Naples branched off from the 
main line which held on its course westwards to 
Puteoli and Baiae. Over these arches marched 

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70 Belisarius at Carthage and at Naples. 

BOOKV. the hardy iBaurians on that perilous midnight 
adventm-e which resulted in the capture of 

^^ ' Neapolis^ 

* Lord Stanhope (Life of ^liflariiis, p. i8o), following 
Maratori, says that it was through this same aqueduct that 
Alfonso of Arragon entered the city in 1442. But this, I am 
informed hy S. Capasso, is an error. The aqueduct through 
which the Spaniards entered the city was called ' della Bolla.' 
It hrought water from Somma under Mount Vesuvius, and 
entered the city through the eastern, not the northern wall. 

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Sources: — 

Pttocopius, De Bello Gotthico, i. 11-13. Cassiodoeus, BOOK v. 
Variaram, x, 3I-35- Jokdanes, De Reg^orum Sncces- ^°'^- 
sione, 372-3; De Rebus Geticis^ 309-10. 

The &ilure of the Gothic King to avert the 53^- 
fall of Neapolis exasperated beyond endurance the tion rf*^ 
warlike subjects of Theodahad. His avarice andi^^t***' 
his ingratitude were known ; his want of loyalty to S^l*^*" 
the nation of his fathers was more than suspected. 
Rumours of his negotiations with Constantinople, 
even the most secret and the most discreditable of 
them, had reached the ears of his subjects, and 
DOW the worst of those rumours seemed to be 
confirmed by his desertion of the defenders of 
Neapolis, a desertion so extraordinary that mere 
incompetence seemed insufficient to account for it. 

That which our ancestors would have called Assembly 

of the Da- 

a Folc-mote, an assembly of the whole Gothic tion under 

111 BTBUi at 

nation under arms, was convened, by what au-Regeu, 

Aug., 536'. 
^ We get the date of the deposition of Theodahad from the 

Liher Fontificalis *(Muratori, iii. 129), which states that it 

occurred two months after the election of Pope Silverius. 

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72 The Elevation of Witigis, 

BOOKV. thority we know not, to deliberate on the perilous 
°' condition of the country. The place of meeting 
^^^' was forty-three miles ^ from Rome. It has been 
hitherto impossible to discover any clue to the 
name given by Procopius, who says * The Romans 
call the place Regeta ;' but the other indications 
afforded by him show that it was situated in the 
Pomptine Marshes, and in that part of them which 
the draining operations of Decius, who had ap- 
parently cleared out the old DecennoviaP Canal, 
had restored to productiveness, perhaps even to 
fertility *. 

Allusion has already been made to Theodoric's 
share in the promotion of this useful work, and 
to the palace bearing his name which crowned the 
heights of Terracina *. If not that palace itself, 
yet at any rate the hill on which it stood, rose 
conspicuously on the southern horizon some fifteen 
miles from the Gothic meeting-place. The reason 
for choosing this spot was that, thanks to the 

^ English miles : forty-seven Roman : see Procopius, De 
B. G. i. II. This passage is very important for the informa- 
tion which it affords as to the length of Procopius' stadium, 
which was evidently 272 yards, 70 yards longer than the 
stadium of Attic historians. Procopius says, in explaining the 
Latin word Decennovium : nom/i^r . . . cWoicaidcira n-cpucoy my- 
ficMi, ^€p (vptictv is rp€ls K€ti deica koi tKorhp aradicvs. Since 
113 stadia=i9 Roman miles (of 1618 yards each) =30,742 
yards, it follows that one 6tadium=2 72jfj yards. 

' The Decennovial Canal derived its name from the fact that 
it flowed past nineteen miles of the Appian Way. 

' See Abstract of the letters of Cassiodorus, ii. 32, for Theo- 
doric's ' concession ' to Decius. 

* See vol. iii. p. 308. 

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Armed assembly of Goths. 73 

draining operations just referred to, the vast plain book v. 
furnished a plentiful supply of grass for the 

horses of the assembled warriors *. ^^ * 

As soon as the nation met upon the plain of Deposition 
Eegeta, it was clear that the deposition of Theo- Ld. 
dahad was inevitable, and that the only question 
was who should succeed him. The line of the great 
Theodoric was practically extinct (only a young 
girl, the sister of Athalaric, remained) ; and in the 
great necessity of the nation, they travelled beyond 
the circle not only of royal, but even of noble blood, 
to find a deliverer. A warrior named Witigfis, not Election of 
sprung from any illustrious house ^ but who had 
rendered himself illustrious by great deeds wrought 
against the Gepids in the war of Sirmium ^ was 
raised upon the buckler and acclaimed as king^ 



' Scholars seem to have given up in despair the attempt 
to identify Kegeta. Lord Stanhope suggests Lake Regillus, 
which is absurd, neither the distance nor any of the other 
indications furnished by Procopius agreeing therewith. The 
nei^^hbonrhood of Terracina and of the Decennoyian Canal is 
clearly pointed out by Procopius. He seems, however, not to 
be aware that the stream in question was not a natural river. 
Is it possible that Begeta is an error for Regesta^ and has some- 
thing to do with the dykes or embankments of the Decian 
drainage-scheme? It seems to me that the site should be 
looked for pretty near Ad Mediae (Mesa Posta), the station on 
the Appian Way between Appii Forum and Terracina, Pro- 
copius here displays a little archaeological learning about the 
Homeric island of Circe in connection with Terracina and the 
neighbouring promontory of Circseum. 

' OviTtyw (iXorrOf a»bpa oiKias ov#c imxpavwi livra, 

* See vol. iii. p. 438. 

* The account given by Jordanes (De Kegnorum Successione, 
372) makes the elevation of Witigis more the result of his own 

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74 The Elevation of Witigis. 

BOOKV. The pen of the veteran Cassiodorus was employed 
°' to draw up the document in which was announced 
^^ • to the Goths the elevation of a king, ' not chosen 
in the recesses of a royal bedchamber, but in the 
expanse of the boundless Campagna ; of one who 
owed his dignity first to Divine grace, but secondly 
to the free judgment of the people ; of one who 
knew the brave men in his army by comradeship, 
having stood shoulder to shoulder with them 
in the day of battle/ His countrymen were 
exhorted to relinquish that attitude of fear and 
mutual suspicion which the rule of the craven 
Theodahad had only too naturally produced, and 
to work with one accord for the deliverance of 
their nation. 
^^^ Witigis decided without hesitation that the de- 
had, throned monarch must die. He gave the word to 
a Goth named Optaris to follow Theodahad and 
bring him back, dead or alive. Optaris had the 
stimulus of revenge besides that of obedience to 
urge him to fulfil his bloody commission, since he 
had lost a bride rich and lovely, whose hand had 
been plighted to him, by Theodahad's venal inter- 
ference on behalf of a rival suitor. Night and 
day he spurred on his steed. He came up with 

contriyance and less the spontaneous act of the nation than 
that of Procopius. * Vitiges . . . qui Campania[m] ingressua 
mox ad campos venisset Barbaricos, ilico exercitus favore, quod 
contra Theodahadum suspectum habebat excepit. . . . Facto im- 
petu in eo consona voce Vitigis [Vitigem] regem denuntiant. 
At ille regno levatus qui^d, ipse optaverat mox populi vota 
consentit,' etc. 

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Theodahad slain. 75 

the flying King before he had reached Bavenna, book v. 
threw him to the ground, and cut his throat as ' 
a priest would slay a sheep for sacrifice. ^^^ 

So vanishes the Platonist Ostrogoth, the remover 
of land-marks, the perjurer and the coward, from 
the page of history. It is not often that the his- 
torian has to describe a character so thoroughly 
contemptible as that of Theodahad. 

Witigis on his accession to the throne found an Deplorable 
utter absence of effective preparation to meet the the Gothic 
enemy. The two enemies, we should rather say, °^®°*^y' 
since the Franks, in fulfilment of a secret com- 
pact with Justinian, were in arms against the 
Goths, and a considerable part of the army of 
Theodahad was stationed in Provence and Dau- 
phind, endeavouring to defend that part of the 
kingdom against the sons of Clovis. In these Witigig 
circumstances Witigis determined to retire forSTu^ 
a time to Eavenna, not indeed evacuating Kome, ^^' 
since the gallant veteran Leudaris was to be left in 
ch&rge of that city with 4000 picked troops, but 
withdrawing the bulk of his army to the stronger 
capital, and there at his leisure preparing for the 
defence of the kingdom. In a speech to the army 
he set forth the reasons for this course, the neces- 
sity for getting the Frankish war off their hands 
and so of reducing the number of their invaders, 
the difference between a withdrawal dictated by 
motives of high policy and a cowardly flight, and so 
forth. The most important point of all, the effect 
of such a movement on the Roman population, was 

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76 The Elevation of Witigis. 

BOOKV. thus slightly handled: 'If the Romans be well 
affected towards us, they will help to guard the 

^^ ' city for the Goths, and will not put Fortune to 
the proof, knowing that we shall speedily return. 
But if they are meditating any intrigue against 
us, they will do us less harm by delivering the 
city to the enemy than by continuing in secret 
conspiracy; for we shall then know who are on 
our side, and shall be able to distinguish friends 
from foes/ 
Error of With thcsc and similar arguments Witigis per- 
' suaded his countrymen to retire with the bulk of 
the army into North Italy. It is easy to see now, 
and surely it should have been easy to see then, 
that this was a fatal blunder. The Franks, as the 
events of the next few months were to prove, were 
fighting only for their own hand, and might easily 
be bought off by territorial concessions in Gaul. 
The real and only inevitable enemy was Belisarius, 
the daring strategist who was now at Neapolis, and 
who had come to the Italian peninsula to conquer 
it, the whole of it, for his master or to die. All- 
important in this struggle was the attitude of the 
Roman population, not in Rome only, but over the 
whole of Italy. They could still look back on the 
peace and plenty which had marked the just reign 
of Theodoric. Though by no means welded into 
one nation with their Gothic guests, there was not 
as yet, we have good reason to believe, any impass- 
able chasm between the two races ; and if they could 
be persuaded to cast in their lot with the Teutonic 

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Abandonment of Rome, 77 

defenders of their land, if they could practise the book v. 
lesson which they had been lately learning, of sub- °' 
stituting the name * Italy ' for * the Empire ; * above ^^^' 
aU, if they could be induced to think of Belisarius 
and his troops as Greek intruders into their coun- 
try, the new Komano-Gothic people and fatherland 
might yet be formed. The example of the resist- 
ance of Neapolis showed that this was not a mere 
idle dream. But all these hopes would be blasted, 
aU the great work of Theodoric and Cassiodorus 
would be unravelled, and the Ostrogoths would 
sink into the position of a mere countryless horde, 
themselves invaders of Italy rather than the in- 
vaded, if the general of Justinian could once get 
within the walls of Rome, if the name of that 
venerable city with its thirteen centuries of glory 
could once be his to conjure with, if the head and 
the members being again joined together he could 
display himself to the world as the defender of the 
Roman Empire, in Rome, against the barbarians. 

The chance, if chance there was, of so defending Departure 
the Gothic kingdom was thrown away. The un- Gothic 
wise counsel of Witigis — who, it may be, could Ravenna, 
not believe himself a king till he had actually sat gmS^ar- 
in Theodoric's audience-chamber at Ravenna — ^pre- ^^l^ 
vailed, and the Gothic host marched off north- 
wards, leaving only Leudaris and his 4000 braves 
to hold the capital against Belisarius. Witigis 
took, indeed, some precautions, such as they were, 
to assure the fidelity of the citizens. He harangued 
Pope Silverius, the Senate, and the people of 

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78 The Elevation of Wttigis. 

BOOKV. Rome, calling to their remembrance the great 

Ch. 8. 

benefits which they had received from Theodoric ; 
^^ * he bound them under most solemn oaths to be 
faithful to the Gothic rule; he took a large number 
of Senators with him as hostages for the loyalty of 
the rest. To force the subjects whom he was 
not defending to swear eternal allegiance to his 
rule was the work of a weak man ; to hint that, 
if they did not, their innocent friends should 
suffer for it, was the threat of a cruel one. This 
taking of hostages, though it might seem for the 
moment an easy expedient for securing the fidelity 
of an unguarded city, was essentially a bad se- 
curity. If the bond were forfeited by the sur- 
render of the city, to exact the penalty, namely, 
the death of the chief citizens of Rome, helpless 
and innocent, was to put an absolutely impassable 
barrier of hate between the Gothic King and the 
vast majority of the inhabitants of Italy, 
witigis On his arrival at Ravenna Witigis took part in 

Matasu- a pageant which may have both amazed and 
amused his Gothic subjects. He, the elderly war- 
rior, the husband of a wife probably of his own 
age, having divorced that companion of his humbler 
fortunes, proceeded to marry the young and bloom- 
ing Matasuentha, sister of Athalaric and grand- 
daughter of the great Theodoric. Reasons of state 
were of course alleged for these strange nuptials. 
An alliance with the royal house might cause men 
to forget the lowliness of the new King's origin ; 
and the danger of his finding a rival to the crown 

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Marriage ivith Matasuentha. 79 

in Matasuentha's husband, or even of her making book v. 
over her rights, such as they might be, to the ^^!l. 
Emperor, was barred by her becoming the Lady of ^^^" 
the Goths. But the marriage was against nature, 
and brought no blessing with it. The unfortunate 
girl, as weary of her elderly husband as Athalaric 
had been of his grey-headed tutors, chafed against 
the yoke, and made no secret of the fact that she 
loved not her consort; and he, divided between 
the pride of the low-bom adventurer exalted to 
a splendid position, and the unhappiness of the 
husband who is unloved and who lives in an 
atmosphere of daily reproaches, lost any power 
which he may ever have possessed^ of devising 
measures for the deliverance of the Gothic nation 
from its peril ^. 

Altogether, the elevation of Witigis was a mis- The eie- 
take for the Gothic monarchy. It was the oldwitigiBa 
and often repeated error of supposing that because 
a man till he has reached middle life has played 
a subordinate part with some credit, he will be 
able to rise to the sudden requirements of a great 
and diflficult position ; that respectability will serve 
instead of genius. Against a general, perhaps the 

^ All our accounts agree as to the unliappiness of this marriage. 
ProcopiuB says (p. 6 1) : Marao'cvy^cw . . . vapBtvov re xal mpaiav 
fp^ff dda-op, ywaUa yafurrjv o0 ri iBfXowrioif inou^traro, Jordanes 
(De Begnomm Successione, 373): 'Regnoque suo confirmans, 
expediiioDem solvit et privata conjuge repudiata regiam puellam 
Mathesuentam Theodorici regis neptem sibi plus ri copolat 
quam amori.' The same words are used by Marcellinus Comes, 
from whom possibly Jordanes has borrowed them. 

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Ch. 8. 

80 The Elevation of Witigis. 

BOOKV. greatest that the world has ever seen for fertility 
of resource and power of rapid combination, the 
Goths had given themselves for a leader a mere 
brave and honest blunderer, whose notions of 
strategy were like those which Demosthenes re- 
proved in his Athenian countrymen, who, as 
unskilful pugilists, were always trying to parry 
a blow after it had been struck and always being 
surprised by its successor. Yet as, with all his 
incapacity, he was loyal to the nation, the nation 
was loyal to him, and during the three following 
years of his disastrous leadership they never seem 
to have entertained the thought of replacing him 
by a better commander \ 

Embassy Haviuff uow allied himself with the daughter of 

toConstan- i a i ... 

tinopie. the murdered Amalasuntha, Witigis sent an em- 
bassy to Constantinople, urging, with some reason, 
that the cause of quarrel between the Emperor and 
the Goths was at an end. The vile Theodahad 
had paid the penalty of his crimes, a penalty 
which Witigis himself had exacted from him. 
The daughter of Amalasuntha sat on the Gothic 
throne. What more did Justinian require ? Why 
should he not stop the effusion of blood and 
restore peace to Italy? This letter to the Emperor 

^ There is something in this attitude of the Goths towards 
Witigis which reminds one of the French confidence in General 
Trochu during the siege of Paris. But this comparison is 
probably unfair to Trochu. Victory over the Germans was 
scarcely possible when the French general took the command 
in September 1870. Victory over the Byzantines was abund- 
antly possible for the Gothic King in 536. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Correspondence with Justinian. 8i 

was supplemented by one to the orthodox bishops book v. 

of Italy, calling upon them to pray for the success L-L. 

of the embassy; to the Prefect of Thessalonica, ^^^' 
praying him to speed the two ambassadors on 
their way ; and to the Master of the Offices at 
Constantinople, beseeching him to use his influ- 
ence in favour of peace \ 

The letters relating to this embassy were pre* Part taken 

^ . J r byCMsio- 

pared by Cassiodorus, and were perhaps among doms. 
the latest documents which proceeded from his 
pen. Though he did not yet apparently retire 
formally from public affairs, he seems to have per- 
ceived at this point that the dream of his life 
was a hopeless one, that fusion between Goth 
and Eoman was impossible, and consequently to 
have retired from all active participation in the 
conflict which must now be fought out to the 
bitter end, but in which nevertheless he could 
pray for the success of neither party. 

The letters written in reply to Witiffis have not Presumed 

* '' ° answer of 

been preserved ; but there can be no doubt that Justinian. 
such letters were received by the Gothic king, 
probably in the late autumn of 536, and they 
must have been to the intent that the war must 
now proceed, since nothing but unqualified sub- 
mission would satisfy the demand of Justinian. 

One of the first acts of the reign of Witigis Gaulish 


was to buy 9^ the opposition of the Franks by ceded to 


* See Cassiodori Yariamm, x. 32—35. It is not quite clear 

whether Witigis is addressing his own or Justinian's Mobster 

Officiorwn : but I think the latter. 

VOL, IV. a 

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82 The Elevation of Witigis. 

BOOKV. the cession of the Ostrogothic possessions in Gaul 
— !^'_ (Provence and part of Dauphind) and by the pay- 
^^ ' ment of twenty hundredweight of gold (£80,000) ^ 
Negotiations for this purpose had been commenced 
by Theodahad, but were interrupted by his death. 
Childebert, Theudibert, and Chlotochar now divided 
among them the treasure and the towns ceded by 
the Goths, and concluded a secret alliance with 
them, promising to send some of their horde of 
subject nations to assist in the defence of Italy. 
More they durst not do, being desirous still to 
keep up the appearance of friendship with By- 

In thus resuming the pacific policy of Theoda- 
had towards the Franks, — a policy which enabled 
him to recall the general Marcias and many thou- 
sands of the bravest of the Goths to the south 
of the Alps, — ^Witigis seems to have been only 
recognising an inevitable necessity. His great 
error was in not making this concession earlier. 
If he could thus purchase the friendship of the 
Franks, and secure his northern frontier from 
their attacks, he ought to have done so at once, 
and thus to have avoided the necessitv for the 
fetal abandonment of Rome. 

^ In the wild legend which figures as the story of Amala- 
Buntha in the pages of Gregory of Tours (Hist. Franc, iii. 31), 
this payment, reduced to 50,000 aurei (£30,000), is repre- 
sented as the weregUd paid by Theodahad to the sons of Clovis 
for the murder of their cousin Amalasuntha. It is possible that 
some such claim may have been put forward by the Frankish 
princes, never at a loss for a plausible pretext for ^wr. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 



Sources : — 

Pbocopius, De Bello Gotthico, i. I4--I5. 

For ecclesiastical history, Liberatus, cap. xxi, and the BOOK V. 
so-called Anastasius Bibliothecarius in his life of Pope ^°' ^' 
Agapetas (apud Muratori, iii. 128). It is convenient to 
use the name of this, the reputed author of the Liber 
Pontificalis, who died about 886. He seems, however, to 
be really responsible, even as compiler, only for some of 
the later portion of the book. The lives of the several 
Popes, at any rate at the point which we have now 
reached, were probably composed by various, and for the 
most part contemporary, biographers. 

Guides : — 

For ecclesiastical events, Milman's History of Latin 
Christianity and Bower's History of the Popes (1750). 
This last book is far too bitter and polemical in its 
plaidoyerie against the Popes, but contains many useful 
references, apparently taken for the most part from Baro- 
nins and Pagi. 

For the almost infinite subject of Roman arcbssology 
I have consulted chiefly the following : — 

Canina's Edifizi di Roma Antica (1848- 1856). Canina's 
conjectural restorations of the buildings of ancient Rome, 
even if they cannot always stand the test of detailed criti- 
cism, are a great help to an unprofessional student. 

H. Jordan's Topographic der Stadt Rom im Alterthum. 
G 2 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

84 Belisarius in Rome. 

BOOK V. His criticism of the late imperial and early mediaeval guide- 

^^' ^' books to Rome, the Curiosum Urbis, Mirabilia Romae, and 

Itinerary of the Monk of Einsiedeln, is extremely helpful, 

the more so as he publishes the text of the documents 

on which he comments. 

Among my other guides are J. H. Parker's Archaeology 
of Rome and his splendid collection of photographs, espe- 
cially those of the Walk and Gates; Gregorovius's Ge- 
schichte der Stadt Rom, vol. i; E. A. Freeman's Historical 
and Architectural Sketches^ and a paper by the same 
author in the British Quarterly Review (1882) on Rome 
during the Sieges of the Sixth Century; T. H. Dyers 
article on Ancient Rome contributed to Smith's Dictionary 
of Greek and Roman Geography (requiring modification in 
a few points owing to the discoveries of the last twenty 
years), and the same author's History of the City of 
Rome ; Rev. Robert Burn's Old Rome (which contains 
all the chief discoveries down to 1880) ; Hemans's Ancient 
Christianity and Sacred Art in Italy, and the lust and very 
carefully prepared edition of Murray's Handbook (1881). 

I have also to thank the Commendatore Lanciani, one 
of the most eminent Roman archaeologists, for some valu- 
able information^ especially as to the Walls of Rome. 

Slight in- The events described in the preceding chapter 
as to the occupicd the summer and autumn of 536. How 

movements t>t • •ii* ii«»i i»i» 

of Beiiaa- JtJelisarms was occupied during this interval it is 
iatter\aif not easj to Say. The notes of time given us by 
o 53 . Procopius in this part of his narrative are in- 
distinct; nor have we betw^een the siege of Nea- 
polis and the siege of Rome any of those little 
personal touches which indicate the presence of an 
eye-witness. Possibly the historian was still at 
Carthage, attached to the staff of the African army. 
If in Italy, he was perhaps engaged in administrative 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Procopius in Southern Italy. 85 

work in some one of the towns of Southern Italy, book v. 

Ch 4 

such as Beneventum, of which he gives at this point — -'— 1- 
of his narrative a short account full of archseo- pr JLins 
logical information. The name of the place, at ^^^Jt^j^^^" 
first Maleventum, from the fierce winds which rage p«^«^'en- 
there as well as in Dalmatian but afterwards 
changed to Beneventum, to avoid the ill sound 
of the other (* for the Latins call wind ventu% 
[jScWoy] in their language*) — the traditions of Dio- 
med the founder of the city — the grinning tusks of 
the Calydonian boar ^ slain by his uncle Meleager, 
still preserved down to the days of Procopius — the 
legend of the Palladium stolen by Diomed and 
Ulysses from the temple of Athen^ at Troy and 
handed on by the former to ^^neas — the doubt 
where this Palladium was then preserved, whether 
at Rome or Constantinople^ — all this archaeological 

* In Dalmatia, sayB Procopius, the wind is often strong 
enough to lift up a man and the horse which he is riding and 
dashing them down again to slay them. When it blows in its 
strength all prudent persons keep indoors. This is that Bora 
of which mention has already been made in connection with the 
battle of Frigidus. See vol. L p. 165. A similar riolent wind, 
' the Helm Wind,' blows in the neighbourhood of Cross Fell in 
Cumberland. (See Sopwith's Account of the Mining Districts 
of Alston Moor, pp. 58-63.) 

* ' Three palms in circumference.' 

' Frocopius's account of the Palladium is worth transcribing 
at length for its bearing on the history of early Greek and 
Asiatic art, especially with reference to Dr. Schliemann's dis* 
coveries. ' Where the original statue is, the Romans say that 
they do not know, but they show a copy of it carved in stone 
which even down to my time has remained in the temple of 
Fortune before the brazen image of Athene. The latter is in 
an open space eastward of the temple. . This stone statue [the 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

86 Belisarius in Rome. 

BooKV. gossip flows from the Herodotean pen of our his- 

"' torian with a fulness which suggests that to him the 

^^^' autumn of 536 was in after days chiefly memorable 

as the time of his sojourn at Beneventum. 

conaoiida- It secms likely that Belisarius devoted the 

Emperor's summcr and autumn months of 536 to the con- 

sourhera solidation of his conquests in Southern Italy. Cu- 

^**^^* mse, that town by Lake Avernus of old Sibylline 

fame, which was the only fortress besides Neapolis 

in the province of Campania, was occupied by him 

with a gufficient garrison. Calabria and Apulia, 

as has been already said, offered themselves as 

willing subjects to the Byzantine Emperor. A 

hardy and martial people like the Goths, holding 

the central Apennine chain, might have given 

Belisarius some trouble by separating Apulia from 

Campania and intercepting the, communications 

Deuertion betwecu the Hadriatic and Tyrrhene seas ; but 

ofPitzas. T . T nil 

this danger was removed by the convenient trea- 
chery of Pitzas the Goth, probably the same 
person as the Pitzias who was victor in the war 
of Sirmium ^ He now commanded in the pro- 
vince of Samnium, and brought over with him 

copy of the Palladium] represents the goddess in a martial 
attitude, raising her spear as if for battle and clad in a chiton 
reaching down to her feet. The face is not like the ordinary 
Greek effigies of Athene, hut is altogether of the oh! JSgi/ptian 
type. The Byzantines say that the original statue was buried 
by the Emperor Constantino in the Forum [at Constantinople] 
which bears his name ' (De B. G. i. 15). Of course the Byzan- 
tines' version of the story was prompted by the hope of eternal 
dominion for their city. 
* See vol. iii. p. 438. 

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Papal History. 87 

not only his personal followers, but at least half book v. 
of the province, to the allegiance of the Emperor ^ ^"'^' 

Thus, with scarcely a stroke struck, had nearly ^^^' 
the whole of that fair territory which modem geo- 
graphy knows as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies 
been lost to the Goths and recovered by * the com- 
monwealth of Rome.* Belisarius might well pause 
for a few months to secure these conquests and to 
await the result of the negotiations which Witigis, 
evidently somewhat half-hearted about his resist- 
ance, had opened up with Constantinople. Besides, 
he had reason to expect that he would soon receive 
an important communication from the Bishop of 
Rome himself; and before the winter had fairly 
commenced that commimication came. To under- 
stand its fiill importance we must rapidly turn 
over a few pages of Papal history. 

It has been already said that, after the death Attitudes 

of the unfortunate Pope John in the prison of Pope«to- 

Theodoric, a succession of somewhat inconspicu- successora 

ous Popes filled the chair of St. Peter. Neither done T 

Felix III, Boniface II, nor John II did anything f^'^j^J/,^' 

to recall the stirring times of the previous Felix lept.^.if; 

or of Hormisdas : but the long duel with Con- ^"^^ [^^ ^ 

stantinople had ended in the glorious triumph 53°. ^17 

of Rome : and the hard fate of John I had warned ^^}^ ^^' 
. . ' J»n. 533, 

the pontiffs that their time was not yet come for *<> ^7 May, 

' Procopiufl says that the Goths * beyond the river which 
passes through the middle of the province refdsed to follow 
Pitzas and become subject to the Emperor.' He does not 
specify the river more particularly. It was probably either 
the Tifemus {fiifemo) or the Sagrus {Sangro). 

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88 Belisartus in Rome. 

BOOK V. an open rupture with ' Dominus Noster ' the King 
^"•^' of the Goths and Romans, in his palace by the 
Hadriatic. A cordial theological alliance therefore 
with Byzantium, and trembling lip-loyalty to Ea- 
venna, was the attitude of the Popes during these 
years of transition. There were the customary 
disputes and disturbances at the election of each 
Pontiff, varied by stringent decrees of the Roman 
Senate against bribery, by attempts on the part 
of the King's counsellors to magnify his share in 
the nomination to the vacant see, and by one yet 
Attempt stranger attempt on the part of Pope Boniface 
BoniScetoto acquirc the power of nominating his successor 
vi^^sae to the Pontificate — a power such as a servile 
^wsucces- Parliament of the sixteenth century conferred 
on Henry VIII with reference to the English 
crown. This scheme, however, was too audacious 
to succeed. Boniface was forced, probably by 
the pressure of public opinion, to revoke and even 
to bum the decree of nomination. The chief 
interest of this event for posterity lies in the 
fact that the person who was to have been bene- 
fited by the decree was the adroit but restless 
and unprincipled deacon Vigilius, of whose later 
intrigues for the acquisition of the Papal throne, 
and sorrows when he had obtained the coveted 
dignity, we shall hear abundantly in the future 
course of this history. 
Appamit Theologically this uneventful period has a con- 
of teaching spicuous interest of its own, as being one of the 
HonniBdaa great battlc-fiolds of the assertors and impugners 

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Papal History^ 89 

of the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. One of the book v. 
usual childish logomachies of the East was im- ^°'^' 
ported into Eome by certain Scythian monks, who ^ ^^"^^ 
pressed, as a matter of life and death, the ortho- 
doxy of the formula ' One of the Trinity suffered 
in the flesh ' as against the heretical ' One per- 
son of the Trinity suffered in the flesh/ Hor- 
misdas, before whom the matter was at first 521. 
brought, had showed the usual good sense of 
Rome by trying simply to crush out the unin- 
telligible and unprofitable discussion. In doing 
so, however, he used words which certainly seemed 
to convey to the non-theological mind the idea that 
he regarded the phrase ' One of the Trinity 
suffered in the flesh ^ as heretical. That phrase 
a later Pope, John II, under some pressure from 533- 
Justinian that he might not seem to countenance 
Nestorianism, adopted, as agreeing with the apo- 
stolic teaching ; and it has consequently ever since 
been considered strictly orthodox to use it. Here 
are obviously the materials for a discussion, very 
interesting to theologians. The literature of the 
Honnisdas controversy is already considerable, and 
it is quite possible that the last word has not yet 
been spoken regarding it. 

The successor of John II, Pope Agapetus, Agapetus 
during his short episcopate of ten months, saw 2 Tune, 
more of the world than many of his predecessors ApkCsze, 
in much longer pontificates. After the mission of 
Peter and Kusticus had failed, through his own 
treachery atnd vacillation, King Theodahad deter- 

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90 Bdisarius in Rome. 

BOOKV. mined to make one more attempt to assuage tlie 
"' just resentment of Justinian. Knowing the great 
^^^"^* influence which since the reunion of the Churches 
the Roman pontiff exerted over the Eastern 
Caesar, he decided that Agapetus should be sent 
to Constantinople on an embassy of peace. To 
overcome the natural reluctance of a person of 
advanced age, and in a position of such high 
dignity, to act as his letter-carrier on a long 
and toilsome winter jovirney, Theodahad sent 
a message to him and to the Eoman Senate 
informing them that, unless they succeeded in 
making his peace with Justinian, the senators, 
their wives, their sons, and their daughters 
should all be put to the swords Truly the in- 
stincts of self-preservation in the coward are cruel. 

The Pope Agapctus entered Constantinople on the 20th 

sent on an • i • i i 

embaflsyto February, 536 ^ and was received with great de- 
nopie. monstrations of respect by the Emperor and the 
citizens. In the fulfilment of Theodahad's com- 
mission, as we know, he met with no success. The 
Emperor replied, — and his reply is characteristic 
of the huckstering spirit in which he made war, — 
that after the great expenses to which his treasury 
had been put in preparing the expedition for Italy 
he could not now draw back, leaving its object un- 
attained ^ But if Agapetus could not or would 

* LiberatuB, Breviarium, cap. xad. 

' See Clinton's Fasti Romani, 8. a. 535. It is admitted that 
the date in Anastasius, ' 10 Kalend. Maii,* is a mistake for 
* Martii; 

• This characteristic touch is only in Liberatus. 

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Pope Agapetus at Consta7itinople. 91 

not effect anything on behalf of his Gothic sove- book v. 

reign he effected much for the advancement of his U« 

own and his successors^ dignity ; and this visit of ^^ * 
his is a memorable step in the progress of the 
Papacy towards an Universal Patriarchate. The 
see of Constantinople was at this time filled by 
Anthimus, recently translated thither from Trebi- 
zond by the influence of Theodora, and strongly 
suspected of sharing the Eutychian views of his 
patroness. Agapetus sternly refused to recognise Agapetus 
Anthimus as lawful Patriarch of Constantinople, recognise 
on the double ground of the ecclesiastical canon as Patri- 
against translations and of his suspected heresy, crastenti- 
Justinian tried the effect, so powerful on all others, prSjureT 
of the thunder of the imperial voice and the frown mov^. 
on the imperial brow. * Either comply with my 
request or I will cause thee to be carried away 
into banishment.' Quite unmoved, the noble old 
man replied in these memorable words : * I who am 
but a sinner came with eager longing to gaze upon 
the most Christian Emperor Justinian. In his 
place I find a Diocletian, whose threats do not one 
whit terrify me.' It must be recorded, for the 
credit of Justinian, that this bold language moved 
his admiration rather than his anger. He allowed 
the Bishop of Eome to question the Patriarch of 
Constantinople whether he admitted the two natures 
in Christ ; and when the faltering answers of An- 
thimus proclaimed him a secret Monophysite, Jus- 
tinian, who always assumed in public the attitude . 
of an opponent of his wife's heresy, at once drove 

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92 Belisarius in Rome. 

BOOKv. him from the see and from the city. A new pre- 

^°'^' late, Mennas, of undoubted Chalcedonian ortho- 

536. doxy, was consecrated by Agapetus. Technically 

consecratea the rights of the sce of Constantinople may have 

Patriarch, bceu savcd, but there was certainly something 

536. ' in the whole proceeding which suggested the idea 

that, after all, the so-called Patriarch of New 

Rome was only a suffragan bishop in the presence 

of the successor of St. Peter. 

Much had Agapetus done, and more was he 
doing, to repress the reviving Eutychianism of 
the East — encouraged though it was by the favour 
of Theodora — when death ended his career. He 
died on the 21st of April, 536 (when Belisarius 
was on the point of returning from Carthage to 
Sicily), and his body, enclosed in a leaden coflSn, 
was brought from Constantinople to Rome and 
buried in the Basilica of St. Peter, 
siiveriufl The new Pope, Silverius, is said to have been 

Pope, , , 

8 June, intruded into the see by the mere will of *the 
Nov. 537. tyrant Theodahad,* who, moved himself by a bribe, 
brought terror to bear on the minds of the clergy 
to prevent any resistance to his will. It is, how- 
ever, strongly suspected that this suggestion of 
an election vitiated by duresse is a mere after- 
thought in order to excuse the highly irregular 
proceedings which, as we shall hereafter see, were 
connected with his deposition ^ One fact, rare 

^ Liberatus says distinctly that he was elected by the citizens 
of Rome. ' De cujus [Agapeti] dece88u audiens RomaTia civltas^ 
Silverium snbdiaconum, Hormisdae quondam papae filium elegit 
ordinandum ' (Breviariuni; cap. xxii). 

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Pope Silverius, 93 

if not unique in the history of the Papacy, dis- book v. 

tinguishes the personal history of Silverius. A LI- 

Pope himself, he was also the son of a Pope. He ^^^^ ' 
was the offspring, bom in lawful wedlock, of the ^^ff ^" 
sainted and strong-willed Hormisdas, who of 
course must have been a widower when he en- 
tered the service of the Church. We fail, how- 
ever, to find in the gentle and peace-loving 
Silverius any trace of the adamantine character 
of his dictatorial father. Not of a noble or inde- 
pendent nature, he appears to be pushed about 
by ruder men and women, Gothic and Roman, 
according to their own needs and caprices, and 
is at last hustled out of the way more ignomi- 
niously than any of his predecessors. Domineer- 
ing fathers make not unfrequently timorous and 
abject sons. 

Such, then, was the Pope Silverius — for we Measage 

11 i* 1 from the 

now return to contemplate the progress of the Pope to 

• T 1 1 • 1 ii BeliBarius, 

imperial army — who, havmg sworn a solemn oath offering to 
of fealty to Witigis, now, near the end of 536, thrcUy!' 
sent messengers to Belisarius to offer the peaceful 
surrender of the city of Rome. It was not, how- 
ever, with any chivalrous intention of throwing 
themselves into the breach, and doing battle for 
the commonwealth of Rome that this invitation 
was sent. Silverius and the citizens had heard, 
of course, full particulars of the siege and sack 
of Naples, and wished to avoid similar calamities 
falling upon them. Weighing one danger against 
another, they thought that they should run less 

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94 Belisarius in Rome. 

BOOK V. risk from the wrath of the Goths than from that 

^"'^' of the Byzantines, and therefore sent Fidelius, the 

^^^' late Quaestor of Athalaric, to invite Belisarius to 

Eome, and to promise that the City should be 

surrendered to him without a struggle. Belisarius 

gladly accepted the invitation, and leaving Hero- 

dian with a garrison of 300 foot-soldiers in charge 

of Naples, he marched by the Latin Way from 

BeiieariuB Campania to Rome. While the Via Appia was 

marches by . i -rk i tt« t • 

the Via the great sea-coast road to Borne, the Via Latma 
took a more inland course by the valley of the 
Liris and along the base of the Volscian hills, 
a course in fact very nearly coinciding with that 
of the modern railway between Rome and Naples. 
Belisarius and his army passed therefore through 
the town of Casinum, and immediately under its 
steep hill, upon the summit of which a man who 
was to attain even wider fame than Belisarius 
had reared, amid the ruins of Apollo's temple, the 
mother-edifice of a thousand European convents. 
It was Benedict of Nursia, who, little heeding the 
clash of opposing races, and scarce hearing the 
tramp of invading armies, was making for Monte 
Cassino an imperishable name in the history of 
The Gothic Whou the Gotliic garrison of Rome learned that 
ev^uate Belisarius was at hand, and that the Romans were 
^°^^* disposed to surrender the City, they came to the 
conclusion that against such a general, aided by 
the good-will of the citizens, they should never 
be able to prevail, and that they would therefore 

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B disarms enters Rome, 95 

withdraw peaceably from Kome. Leuderis alone, book v. 
their brave old general, refused to quit the — 1_ 
post which had been assigned to him, but was ^^ ' 
unable to command the obedience of his sol- 
diers, or to recall them to some resolution more 
worthy of the Gothic name. They therefore 
.marched quietly out by the Flaminian Gate (on 
the site of the modem Porta del Popolo), while 
Belisarius and his host entered by the Porta En^y of 
Asinaria, that stately gate flanked by two semi- into Rome, 
circular towers which^ though walled up, still 
stands near the Porta San Giovanni and behind 
the great Lateran Basilica. Leuderis was quietly 
taken prisoner, and sent with the keys of the city 
to Justinian, So mucli for the infallible precau- 
tions which Witigis assured the Goths he had 
taken against the surrender of the city, the 
* numerous men and highly intelligent oflScer who 
would never allow it to fall into the hands of 
Belisarius ^l 

The entry of the Byzantine troops into Rome 
took place on the 9th of December, 536 ^ Thus, 

' (From the speech of Witigis.) *Oira>ff \Uvrot, firjbh fv/x^jj- 
ircrac rotovrov, rya> npovorjirio, "Avdpas re yap noXkovs Koi apxovra 
^tfmrcairaTov diroXct^ofieif ot 'F«itfij}v <l>v\d(ai ixavoi ta-ovrai, (Procopias, 
DeB. G. i. 11). 

* This date rests on the authority of Evagrius, the eccle- 
siastical historian, who was bom possibly in this very year 
536 (H. E. iv. 19). The Liber Pontificalis fixes it on the 4th 
of the Ides of December, the loth of the month. The text of 
Procopias seems to be corrupt: *P<b/ijj re aZOis i^riKovra (reaiv 
utrrtpov \mh prp^os . . . ^o. It is suggested that V7r6 represents 
B. aire, ' the pth of Apellaeus/ that being, as stated by Evagrius, 

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96 Belisarius in Rome. 

BOOK V. as Procopius remarks, after sixty years of barbarian 

"' ' domination, was the city recovered for the Empire. 

^ ,?^^; Belisarius seems not to have taken up his abode 

BeliBanuB ^ ... -r* i • 

fixes his in any of the imperial residences on the Palatine 

quarters in , 

the Pin- Hill, whcie the representative of the Byzantine 
lace. Caesar might naturally have been expected to 
dwell, but, prescient of the coming struggle, to • 
have at once fixed his quarters on the Pincian 
Hill. This ridge on the north of Rome, so well 
known by every visitor to the modern city, who, 
however short his stay, is sure to have seen the 
long train of carriages climbing to or returning 
from the fashionable drive, and who has probably 
stood upon its height in order to obtain the splendid 
view which it affords of the dome of St. Peter s, was 
not one of the original seven hills of the city, 
nor formed, strictly speaking, a part even of 
imperial Rome. Known in earlier times as the 
Collis Hortulorum, or Hill of Gardens, it occupied 
too commanding a position to be safely left out- 
side the defences, and had therefor^ been included 
within the circuit of the walls of Honorius, some 
of the great retaining walls of the gardens of 
M. Q. Acilius Glabrio having been incorporated 
with the new defences ^. Here then, in the Domus 

the Greek name of December. It would seem more natural (if 
grammar would tolerate this use of wrrf) to understand Procopius 
as saying that Rome was subject to the barbarians sixty years 
all but a month. Had he some tradition, which we have lost, as 
to the precise date of the capture of Rome by Odovacar 1 

* I give this fact on the authority of S. Lanciani, who con- 
siders this part of the wall to belong to the Republican age. 

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Digitized by 


Belisarius in the Pincian Palace. 97 

Pinciana \ the imperial General took up his abode, book v. 
Albeit probably somewhat dismantled, it was 

doubtless still a stately and spacious palace, though ^^v^^ 
it has now disappeared and left no trace behind. **^^|°^^^® 
It was admirably adapted for his purpose, being in 
fact a watch-tower commanding a view all round 
the northern horizon, from the Vatican to the Mons 
Sacer ^. From this point a ride of a few minutes 
on his swift charger would bring him to the next 
great vantage-ground, the Castra Praetoria, whose 
square enclosure, projecting beyond the ordinary 
line of the Honorian walls, made a tempting 
object of attack, but also a splendid watch-tower 
for defence, carrying on the general's view to 
the Praenestine Gate (Porta Maggiore) on the 
south-east of the city. Thus, from these two 
points, about a third of the whole circuit of the 
walls, and nearly all of that part which was 
actually attacked by the Goths, was visible. 
That the city would have to be defended, and 

Its comparatively early date is shown by the large masses of 
o^nM retidUatum which it contains, this diamond-shaped style of 
brickwork not haying been used in Home after the earliest age 
of the Empire. 

^ The Domus Pinciana is mentioned in Cassiodori Variarum, 
iii. lo, where Theodoric orders Festus to transport the marbles 
which it appears have been taken down from the Pincian 
house (*qaae de domo Pinciana constat esse deposita') to 

' I think that this is correct, and probably an under- 
statement of the extent of the view. But the groves and 
gardens of the Villas Borghese and Albani outside the walls 
make it difficult now to say exactly how much was visible from 
the Pincian in the time of Belisarius. 


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98 Belisarius in Rome. 

BOOKV. that it would tax all his powers to defend it 
°'^* successfully, was a matter that was perfectly clear 
Pre^wa- *^ *^® mind of Belisarius, though the Romans, 
^wf*' dwelling in a fool's paradise of false security, 
of Rome, deemed that all their troubles were over when 
the 4CX)0 Goths marched forth by the Flaminian 
Gate. They thought that the war would inevit- 
ably be decided elsewhere by some great pitched 
battle. It seemed to them obvious that so skilful 
a general as Belisarius would never consent to be 
besieged in a city so little defended by nature as 
was the wide circuit of imperial Kome, nor under- 
take the almost superhuman task of providing for 
the sustenance of that vast population in addition 
to his own army. Such, however, was the scheme 
of Belisarius, who knew that behind the walls of 
Rome his little army could offer a more effectual 
resistance to the enemy than in any pitched battle 
on the Campanian plains. Slowly and sadly the 
citizens awoke to the fact that their hasty defec- 
tion from the Gothic cause was by no means to 
relieve them from the hardships of a siege. Pos- 
sibly some of them, in the year of misery that lay 
before them, even envied the short and sharp agony 
of Neapolis. 
CommiB- The commissariat of the city was naturally one 
of the chief objects of the General s solicitude. 
From Sicily, still the granary of the State, his 
ships had brought and were daily bringing large 
supplies of grain, ^ These were carried into the 
great warehouses Qiorrea 'publico), which were 

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Repair of the Walls. 99 

under the care of the Praefectus Aimonae ^ At the book v. 
same time the citizens, sorely grumbling, were set — '-^ 
busily to work to bring into the city the com and ^^ ' 
provisions of all kinds that were stored in the 
surroundiDg country. 

Side by side with this great work went on the Repair of 
repair of the walls, which Belisarius found in 
many places somewhat ruinous. Two hundred 
and sixty years had elapsed since they were 
erected by Aurelian and Probus, one hundred and 
thirty since they were renewed by Honorius, and 
in the latter interval they may have suffered not 
only from the slow foot of time, but from the 
destroying hands of the soldiers of Alaric, of 
Gaiseric, and of Eicimer. Theodoric's steady and 
persevering labours had effected something, but 
much still remained to be done. Belisarius re- 
paired the rents which still existed, drew a deep 
and wide fosse round the outer side of the wall, 
and supplied what he considered to be a deficiency 
in the battlements by adding a cross-wall to each, 
on the left hand, so that the soldier might dispense 
with the use of a shield, being guarded against 
arrows and javelins hurled agfednst him from that 

* See voL ii- pp. 471 and 585-596. 

' I presume that this is the meaning of Procopins : "Etrak^tv 
dc ^Kocm/y tyyavuiv snoUit ahcoiofuap dtf rtph Mpaof tK wXayiav rou 
fvuvvfjunf TtBifitvof, oirMf ol Mhf^t Tocr hrimnn fiax^l'^t^oi wp6t rim iw 
apuTTtpa aiplirt reixoftaxowTW ^xurra pakkumu (De B. G. i. 1 4). 
I am not able to state whether any traces of these cross- 
battlements or of the Belisarian fosse have been discoYered. 

H 2 

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100 Belisarius in Rome. 

BOOKV. The walls and gates of imperial Rome, sub- 

^°'^ stantiallv the same walls which Belisarius de- 

^^^' fended, and many of the same gates at which the 

aspect of Goths battered, are still visible; and few historical 

these walls. , . . t^-t 

monuments surpass them m interest. Wo survey 
of them has yet been made sufficiently minute to 
enable us to say with certainty to what date each 
portion of them belongs: but some general con- 
clusions may be safely drawn even by the super- 
ficial observer. Here you may see the ojpt^s 
reticulatumy that cross-hatched brickwork which 
marks a building of the Julian or Flavian age ; 
there the fine and regular brickwork of Aurelian; 
there again the poor debased work of the time of 
Honorius. A little further on, you come to a place 
where layers of bricks regularly laid cease alto- 
gether. Mere rubble-work thrust in anyhow, 
blocks of marble, firagments of columns ; such is 
the material with which the fatal holes in the 
walls have been darned and patched; and here 
antiquaries are generally disposed to see the ' tu- 
multuary' restorations of Belisarius working in 
hot haste to complete his repairs before Witigis 
or the later Totila should appear before the walls. 
In a few places the gap in the brickwork is 
supplied by different and more massive materials. 
Great square blocks of the black volcanic stone 
called tufa, of which the wall of Servius Tullius 
was composed, are the sign of this intrusive for- 
mation. Are these also due to the rapid resto- 
rations of Belisarius, or was it part of the original 

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Present aspect of the Walls of Rome, loi 

plan to make the now superseded wall of the book v. 
King do duty, after nine centuries, in the rampart ' 
of the Emperor \ We turn an angle of the walls, ^^^* 
and we see the mighty arches of the interlacing 
aqueducts by which Rome was fed with water 
from the Tiburtine and the Alban hills, with ad- 
mirable skill made available for the defence of the 
city. We move onward, we come to Christian 
monograms, to medis&val inscriptions, to the ar- 
morial bearings of Popes. At the south of the 
city we look upon the grand Bastion, which marks 
the restoring hand of the great Farnese Pope, 
Paul III, employing the genius of Sangallo. We 
pass the great gate of Ostia, that gate through 
which St. Paul is believed to have been led forth 
to martyrdom, and which now bears his name. 
The wall runs down sharply to the Tiber, at the 
foot of that strange artificial hiU the Monte Tes- 
taccio ; for half a mile it lines the left bank of the 
stream ; then at the gate of Porto it reappears on 
the opposite side of the Tiber. Here it changes its 
character, and the change is itself a compendium of 
mediaeval history. The wall which on the eastern 
shore was Imperial, with only some marks of Papal 
repair, now becomes purely Papal; the turrets give 
place to bastions ; Urban VIII, as name-giver to 
the rampart, takes the place of Aurelian*. We see 

^ The course of the wall of Aurelian is indeed visible in 
many places in the Trans-tiberine region, but it is merely an 
archaeological curiosity there, quite eclipsed in importance by 
the Papal fortification. 

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102 Belisarius in Rome. 

BooKV. at once how dear *the Leonine city' was to the 
°' Pontifical heart; we discern that St. Peters and 
^^ * the Vatican have taken the place which in im- 
perial Kome was occupied by the Palatine, in 
Republican Rome by the Forum, the Capitol, and 

_ the Temple of Concord. 

Contrasted As everywhere in Rome, so pre-eminently in our 
histor^. circuit of the wall, the oldest and the newest ages 
are constantly jostling against one another. At 
the east of the city we were looking at the tufa 
blocks hewn by the masons of Servius Tullius. 
Now on the west we see the walls by the Porta 
Aurelia showing everywhere the dints of French 
bullets hurled against them when Oudinot in 1849 
crushed out the little life of the Roman Republic 
of Mazzini. For yet more recent history we turn 
again to our northern starting-point, and there, 
almost under the palace of Belisarius, we see the 
stretch of absolutely new wall which marks the 
extent of the practicable breach through which 
the troops of Victor Emmanuel entered Rome in 
September, 1870. 
Object of A first and even a second perambulation of the 
in building walls of Romc, especially on the outside, may 
hardly give the observer an adequate conception 
of their original completeness as a work of defence. 
It has been well pointed out by one of our German 
authorities* that Aurelians object in constructing 
it cannot have been merelv to furnish cover for 
the comparatively small numbers of the cohortes 
^ Jordan, Topographie der Stadt Eom, i. 348. 

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Gallery inside the Wall. 103 

wibanae^ the ordinary city-guaxd, but that he book v. 
must have contemplated the necessity of a whole 

army garrisoning the city and defending his work. ^^ ' 
For this reason we have in Aurelian's original line 
of circumvallation, and to some extent, but less per- 
fectly, in the Honorian restoration of it, a complete The inner 
gallery or covered way carried all round the inside 
of the wall^. Nowhere can this original idea of 
the wall be better studied than on the south-east 
of the city, in the portion between the Amphi- 
theatrum Castrense and the Porta Asinaria, or, 
in ecclesiastical language, between the Church of 
Santa Crooe and that of St. John Lateran. Here, 
if we walk outside, we see the kind of work with 
which the rest of our tour of inspection has already 
made us familiar, that is, a wall from 50 to 60 
feet high, with square towers some 20 feet higher 
than the rest of the work, projecting from the 
circuit of the wall at regular intervals of 33 
yards ^ If we now pass in, not by the Porta 

* In the works erected at ChoUerford in Northumberland 
(Cilumum), for the defence of the bridge over the North Tyne, 
we find a hombler specimen of the same kind of covered 

' Exactly 100 Boman feet. The face of the tower (C D) is 
24 feet long, the sides (B C, D E) la feet. 

C D 


Many maps of modem Rome indicate the presence of these 
square towers. The greater or less regularity of their occur- 

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104 Belisarius in Rome. 

BOOKV. Asinaria, which is closed, but by its represen- 
tative the modem Porta San Giovanni, we find 

^^ * ourselves looking upon a structure greatly re- 
sembling one of the great Koman aqueducts, and 
probably often taken for such by travellers. We 
can see of course the backs of the square towers, 
but between every two of these there are seven 
tall arches about 33 feet high. A window through 
the wall near the bottom of each of these cor- 
responds with an opening outside about half-way 
up the face of the wall, and thus lets us see that 
the level of the ground inside is from 20 to 30 
feet higher than outside, the apparent height of 
the wall inside being of course reduced by the 
same amount. In the wall behind the arches we 
can see the holes marking the places where the 
ends of two sets of rafters, one* above the other, 
have rested. Moreover, the piers which separate 
the arches are pierced by another set of tall thin 
arches at right angles to the others. A glance at 
the accompanying engravings will give a clearer 
idea of the construction of the walls than a page 
of description. The meaning of all these indi- 
cations evidently is that a corridor or covered way 
ran round the whole inner circuit of the wall of 
Aurelian, where that was finished according to the 
design of the imperial builder. This gallery was 
two stories high between the towers; a third 
story would be added where these gave the needful 

rence is generally a safe mdication of the better or worse 
preservation of the original wall. 

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Digitized by 


Digitized by 


The Pilgrim of Einsiedeln. 105 

height^. Besides these covered galleries, which book v. 

were used for the rapid transfer of troops from L-L 

one part of the circuit to another, there was the ^^ ' 
regular path at the top of the walls, partially 
protected by battlements, on which the defenders 
were doubtless mustered when actual fighting was 
going forward. 

For our knowledge of the fortifications of the state of the 

• •111 walls in 

City we are not entirely dependent on our present the eighth 
observation of the walls, battered as they have been ^^ pn- 
by the storms of the Middle Ages, and still more ^^j^gin 
grievously as they have suffered at the hands of 
restorers and modernisers in the last three cen- 
turies. The * Pilgrim of Einsiedeln,' as he is con- 
ventionally termed, a visitor to Eome in the eighth 
or ninth century, recorded the most noteworthy 
objects of the Eternal City in a MS. which is pre- 
served in the monastery of Einsiedeln in Switzer- 
land. Among other information, he gives us the 
precise number of the towers, the battlements, and 
the loopholes in each section of the wall, including 
even the sanitary arrangements rendered neces- 
sary by the permanent presence of a large body of 
troops. It has been generally supposed that the 

' In the corridor on the western side of the Porta S. Sebas- 
tiano, at the third tower from the gate, Mr. Parker discovered 
an early fresco representing the Virgin with the infant Christ, 
which he believes to be ^ the earliest Madonna that is known as 
distinct from the offering of the Magi.' Whether his inference 
that a chapel was constructed here for the soldiers at the time 
of Theodoric's repairs be correct or not, at any rate the exist- 
ence of the fresco is an interesting fact (Archseology of Rome, 
i. 1 68). 

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106 B^lisarius in Rome, 

BOOKv. Einsiedeln Pilgrim himself counted the towers of 
°' the sacred city of St. Peter ; but one of our best 
*^ * German authorities ^ suggests, with great proba- 
bility, that he is really transcribing some much 
earlier official document, possibly that drawn up 
by the architects of Honorius at the beginning of 
the fifth century *. 

* Jordan, Topographie der Stadt Rom, ii. 156, 170. He 
suggests 'Ammon the geometer,* who, according to Olympio- 
doniB (apud Photiom, Bonn edition, p. 469), ' took the measure 
of the walls of Bome at the time when the Goths made their 
attack upon the city/ 

' The reader may be interested in seeing this technical 
description of that portion of the defences *which was chiefly 
conspicuous in the Gothic siege of Rome. The tum% and 
fenestras (towers and looj^^les) need no explanation : the ^o- 
pugtMcula are the battlements, or, to speak more accurately, 
the merlons of the embattled wall : necesaariae are believed to 
be equivalent to latrinae. It will be remembered that 100 
Roman feet was the regulation distance between tower and 

'A port& FlamineS cum ipsS port& usque ad portam Pin- 
cianam clausam: 

Turres xxviii, propugnacnla DCXLiin, necessariae m, fenes- 
trae majores forinsecus lxxv, minores cxvii. 

A port& Pincian& dausft cum ipsi porta usque ad portam 
Salariam : 

Turrs xxn, ppg ccxlyi, necess xvn, fenesL majo? forins cc, 
minor CLX. 

A porti Salari& cum ips& port& usque Numentanam : 

Turr X, ppg cxcvun, nee n, fen major forins lxxi, min 


A porta Numentan& cum ipsd porta usque Tiburtinam : 
Tu]T Lvn, ppg DCCCYi, nece^ n, fen major forins ccxmi, 

minor cc. 

A porti Tiburtind cum ips& porti usque ad Praenestinam : 
Turr xvnn, ppg cum port& Praenestin^ cccn, necess i, fen 

major forins lxxx, minor cvm. 

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General survey of the City. 107 

While Belisarius is repaiiing the mouldering book v. 
walls and assigning to the rude cohorts of his many- °* 
nationed army their various duties in the antici- ^^^ 
pated siege, we may allow ourselves to cast a?°^«7^ 
hasty glance over the city which he has set him- ^ *hc 
self to defend. A hasty glance, for this is not the 
time nor the place for minute antiquarian discus- 
sion ; yet a glance of some sad and earnest in- 
terest, since we know that this is the last time 
that Rome in her glory will be seen by mortal 
man. The things which have befallen her up to 
this time have been only slight and transitory 
shocks, which have left no lasting dint upon her 
armour — Alaric s burning of the palace of Sallust, 
Graiseric s half-accomplished spoliation of the golden 
roof of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, some 
havoc wrought in the insolence of their triumph 
by the /oeierafi of Ricimer. * More destructive, no 
doubt, was the slow process of denudation already 
commenced by the unpatriotic hands of the 
Romans themselves, and only partially checked by 
the decrees of Majorian and Theodoric. Still, as a 
whole, Rome the Golden City, the City of Consuls 
and Emperors, the City of Cicero's orations, of 
Horace's idle perambulations, of Trajan s magnifi- 

A porUL Praenestiiia usque ad Asinariam : 

Turr xxn, p^ Dnu, uec vi, fenst major forms clxxx, 
minor CL. 

A porta Aflinaria osque Metroviam : 

Turr XX, ^^ cccxLn, nee un, fene^t major forinS cxxx, 
minor clxxx.' 

(From Jordan's Tt^ograpbie der Stadt Bom, ii« 57^.> 

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. 108 Belisarius in Rome. 

BOOK V. cent constructions, yet stood when the Gothic war 

^°'^' began. In the squalid, battered, depopulated 

^^^* cluster of ruins, over which twenty-eight years 

later sounded the heralds' trumpets proclaiming 

that the Gothic war was ended, it would have been 

hard for Cicero, Horace, or Trajan to recognise his 

home. Classical Rome we are looking on for the 

last time ; the Rome of the Middle Ages, the city 

of sacred shrines and relics and pilgrimages, is 

about to take her place. 

Silence of It is impossible not to regret that Procopius has 

a/toThr allowed himself to say so little as to the impression 

du^^on made on him by Rome. He must have entered 

Ji^t^Jf *^® the city soon after his chief, travelling by the 

^™®' Appian Way, the smooth and durable construction 

of which moved him to great admiration^. But 

of the city itself, except of its gates and walls in so 

far as these require description in order to illustrate 

the siege, he has very little to say. It is easy to 

* These are his words : ' Now the Via Appia is a five days' 
journey for a good pedestrian, leading from Borne to Capua. 
It is so broad that two waggons can pass one another along 
its whole course, and it is eminently worthy of observation. . . . 
For all the stones composing it being mill-stones and very hard 
by nature were brought by Appius from quarries a long way 
off, there being none like them in the district itself. Having 
made these stones smooth and even and cut them into polygons, 
they fitted them one into another without using brass or any 
other solder. Now these stones cohere so perfectly with one 
another that they look as if they had not been artificially 
joined but had grown together. Nor has their smoothness been 
impaired by the daily passage of horses and waggons over them 
for so great a length of time. They still fit as perfectly as ever 
and have lost nothing of their original beauty.' 

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Procopiuss first view of Rome. 109 

understand his silence. Most authors shrink from book v. 
writing about the obvious and well-known. It ^°' ^' 
would perhaps be easier to meet with ten vivid ^^^' 
descriptions of the Island of Skye than one of the 
Strand or Gheapside. But not the less is it a loss 
for us that that quick and acciu-ate observer, the 
Herodotus of the Post-Christian age, has not re- 
corded more of his impressions of the streets, the 
buildings, and the people of Borne. Let us en- 
deavour, however, to put ourselves in his place, 
and to reconstruct the city, at least in general 
outline, as he must have beheld it. 

Journeying, as it is most probable that Procopius imaginary 
did, by the Appian Way, he would enter Rome by iwlpTuB 
the gate then called the Porta Appia, but nowthe^dty. 
the Porta di San Sebastiano, one of the finest oi^^^^ 
the still remaining entrances through the wall of 
Aurelian, with two noble towers, square within 
and semicircular without, the upper part of 
which, according to a careful English observers 
bears traces of the restoring hand of Theodoric ^. 
Immediately after entering the city, Procopius 
would find himself passing under the still-pre- 
served Arch of Drusus ; and those of Trajan and 

^ Mr. J. H. Parker. 

' A curions inscription on the lefVhand wall inside this gate 
(accompanied by the figure of an archangel) records the in- 
vasion of gens foresteria on the last day but one before the feast 
of St. Michael, and their 'abolition * by the Boman people under 
the command of Jacobus de Pontianis. The gens foresteria 
were the troops of King Bobert of Naples co-operating with 
the Orsini, in the year 1327. 

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lio^ Belisarius in Rome. 

BOOKV. Verus, Bpanning the intra-mural portion of the 
__L-L Appian Way, would before long attract his notice. 
*^ ' This portion of the city, now so desolate and empty 
of inhabitants, was then probably thickly sown 
with the houses of the lower order of citizens. 
The Batha High ou his left, whcu he had proceeded some- 
caiia. what more than half-a-mile, rose the mighty pile 
known to the ancients as the Thermae Antoninianae, 
and to the moderns as the Baths of Caracalla. 
Even in its ruins this building gives to the spec- 
tator an almost overwhelming idea of vastness and 
solidity. But when Procopius first saw it, the 
1600 marble seats for bathers^ were probably all 
occupied, the gigantic swimming-bath was filled 
with clear cold water from the Marcian aqueduct, 
the great circular Caldarium, 160 feet in diameter, 
showed dimly through the steam the forms of 
hundreds of bathing Romans. Men were wrestling 
in the Palaestra and walking up and down in the 
Peristyle connected with the baths. Polished 
marble and deftly wrought mosaics lined the walls 
and covered the floors. At every turn one came 
upon some priceless work of art, like the Farnese 
Bull, the Hercules, the Flora, those statues the 
remnants of which, dug out of these ruins as from 
an unfailing quarry, have immortalised the names 
of Papal Nephews and made the fortunes of 
the museums of Bourbon Kings *. 

* Olympiodorus apud Photium, p. 469 (ed. Bonn). 

' The first impression of a visitor to the Musenms of Sculp- 
ture at Rome and Naples is that every important work came 
either from the Baths of Caracalla or from the Villa of Hadrian. 

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The Palatine. Ill 

And now, as the traveller moved on, there rose book v. 
more and more proudly above him the hill which ^°'^' 
has become for all later ages synonymous with ^36. 
regal power and magnificence, the imperial Pala- mgs on the 
tine. Not as now, with only a villa and a convent 
standing erect upon it, the rest, grass and wild- 
flowers, and ruins for the most part not rising 
above the level of the ground, the whole hill was 
crowded with vast palaces, in which each successive 
dynasty had endeavoured to outshine its prede- 
cessor in magnificence. Here, first, rose the tall but 
perhaps somewhat barbarous edifice with which 
Severus had determined to arrest the attention of 
his fellow-provincials fix)m Afiica travelling along 
the Appian Way, in order that their first question 
about Rome might be answered by his name. Just 
below it was the mysterious Septizonium, the work 
of the same Emperor, the porch of his palace and 
the counterpart of his tomb, of whose seven sets 
of columns, rising tier above tier, three were yet 
remaining only three centuries ago, when the re- 
morseless Sixtus V transported them to the 
Vatican. Behind the palace of Severus, on the 
summit of the Palatine, were visible the immense 
banqueting halls of the Flavian Emperors, Ves- 
pasian and Domitian ; behind them agaiii the more 
modest house of Tiberius, and the labyrinth of 
apartments reared by the crazy Caligula. 

In what condition are we to suppose that aU Probable 
these impeiial dwellings were maintained when of the 
the troops of the Eastern Csesar came to reclaim peaces. 

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112 Belisarius in Rome. 

BOOK V. them for their lord ? Certainly not with all that un- 
— 1-L tarnished magnificence which they possessed before 
^^ * the troubles of the third century commenced ; hardly 
even with the show of affluence which they may 
still have worn when Constantius visited Rome in 
357. Two centuries had elapsed since then — ^two 
centuries of more evil than good fortune — centuries 
in which the struggle for mere existence had left 
the rulers of the State little money or time to spare 
for repairs or decorations. But nothing, it may fairly 
be argued, had yet occurred to bring these massive 
piles into an obviously ruinous condition. If the 
comparison may be allowed, these dwellings on the 
Palatine probably presented in the state apart- 
ments that dingy appearance of faded greatness 
which one sees in the country-house of a noble 
family long resident abroad, but externally they 
had lost nothing of the stateliness with which they 
were meant to impress the mind of the beholder. 
Circus If Procopius ascended to the summit of the Pala- 


tine he may perchance have seen from thence, in 
the valley of the Circus Maximus, between the 
Palatine and Aventine hills, a chariot-race ex- 
hibited by the General to keep the populace in 
good-humour. Here the Byzantine official would 
feel himself to be at once at home. Whether he 
favoured the Blue or the Green faction we know 
not (though his animosity against Theodora makes 
us inclined to suspect him of sympathy with the 
Greens), but to whichsoever he belonged he could 
see his own faction striving for victory, and would 

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The Colosseum. 113 

hear, from at any rate a large portion of the crowd, book v. 
the shouts with which they hailed the triumph, or "' ^' 
the groans with which they lamented the defeat, of ^^^' 
their favourite colour. 

Continuing his journey, the historian passed ^pch of 
under the eastern summit of the Palatine, and tine, 
then beneath the Arch of Constantine, that Arch 
which stands at this day comparatively undefaced, 
showing how the first Christian emperor purloined 
the work of the holier heathen Trajan to comme- 
morate his own less worthy' victories. Emerging The CoIob- 
firom the shadow of the Arch he stood before the the Coioe- 
Flavian Amphitheatre and looked up to the im-'"** 
mense Colossus of Nero, that statue of the Sun-god 
1 20 feet in height, towering almost as high as the 
mighty edifice itself, to which it gave its best- 
known name, the Colosseum. It is generally felt 
that the Colosseum is one of those buildings which 
has gained by ruin. The topmost story, consisting, 
not of arches like the three below it, but of mere 
blank wall-spaces divided by pilasters, must have 
had when unbroken a somewhat heavy appearance; 
while, on the other hand, no beholder of the still 
perfect building could derive that impression of 
massive strength which we gain by looking, through 
the very chasms and rents in its outer shell, at the 
gigantic circuit of its concentric ellipses, at the 
massive walls radiating upwards and outwards 
upon which the seats of its 87,ckdo spectators 
rested. Altogether there is a pathetic majesty in 
the ruined Colosseum which can hardly have be- 

VOL. rv. I 

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114 Belisarius in Rome. 

BOOKV. longed to it in its days of prosperity, and, as one 
^°'^' is almost inclined to say, of vulgar self-assertion ^ 
^^^' But if this be true of the Colosseum itself, it is 

not true of the surroimding objects. The great 
Colossus has already been referred to. It is now- 
represented only by a shapeless and unsightly heap 
of stones which once formed part of its pedestal. 

Meta The ugly conical mass of brickwork near the same 
spot, and known as the Meta Sudans, was a beau- 
tiful upspringing fountain thirty or forty feet high 
when Procopius passed that way. 

The Bathfl Eastwards, on the Oppian hill, stretched the long 
line of the Thermae Titi, the baths reared by Titus 
above the vast ruins of the Golden House of Nero. 
Immediately in front of the Colosseum (on the 

Temple of uorth-wcst) was the double temple reared by 

Rome. Hadrian in honour of Venus and Rome ^, perhaps 
one of the most beautiful edifices in the whole 
enclosure of the city. It was composed of two 
temples placed back to back. In one was the 
statue of Venus the Prosperous" (Venus Felix), 
looking towards the Colosseum, in the other Boma 
Eterna sat gazing towards her own Capitol. In the 
curvilinear pediment of the latter was a frieze, 

* This remark is made in Bum's Old Rome, p. 71. 

' This was the Temple which according to Dion Cassius cost 
the architect Apollodorus his life. Hadrian sent him a draw- 
ing of the Temple which he had himself designed, expecting 
a compliment on his artistic skill, and received for answer, 
'You have made your goddesses so large that they cannot 
stand up in their own houses,* a criticism in return for which 
Hadrian is said to have put him to death (Ixix. 4). 

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The Forum. lis 

according to the opinion of some archaeologists book v. 
representing Mars caressing Rhea Sylvia, and the ^"' ^' 
wolf suckling their heroic offspring. Around the ^^^* 
whole structure ran a low colonnade containing 
four hundred pillars. 

The famous Sacred Way, where once Horace The via 


loitered, a well-marked street, not as now a mere 
track through the midst of desolation, led the 
historian up to the marble arch of Titus. Here he AjcH of 
doubtless looked, as we may yet look, upon the 
representation of the seven-branched candlestick 
and the other spoils of Jerusalem, the strange story 
of whose wanderings he has himself recorded for 
us in his history of the Vandalic War ^ 

Descending the slope of the Via Sacra, and Basilica of 

7 . . . Constan- 

having on his right the lofty Basilica of Constan- tine. 
tine, whose gigantic arches (long but erroneously 
called the Temple of Peace) stand on their hill 
over against the Palatine, and seem to assert a 
predominance over its yet remaining ruins, Pro- 
copius now with each downward step saw the 
glories of the Homan Forum more fully revealed. 
On his left^ the temple of the Great Twin Brethren, Forum Eo- 

, manum. 

three of whose gracefiil Corinthian columns still 
survive, a well-known object to all visitors to the 
Forum. Hard by, the fountain from which the 
celestial horsemen gave their horses to drink after 
the battle of Lake Regillus. Further on, the long 
colonnades of the Basilica of Julius, four law- 
courts under the same roof. On his right, the tall 
* ii. 9. (See vol. ii p. 286, and vol. iii. p. 694.) 
I 2 

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116 Beltsarius in Rome. 

BOOK V. columns of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, 

!_ perhaps already supporting the roof of a Christian 

^^ ■ shrine, though not the unsightly edifice which at 
present clings to and defaces them ; the chapel of 
the great Julius, the magnificent Basilica of MaiX" 
lius ; and, lastly, those two venerable objects, 
centres for so many ages of all the political life of 
Kome, the Senate-house and the Eostra. The 
Senate was still a living body, though its limbs 
had long been shaken by the palsies of a timid old 
age ; but the days when impassioned orators 
thundered to the Roman people from the lofty 
Rostra had long passed away. Yet we may be 
permitted to conjecture that Procopius, with that 
awe-struck admiration which he had for *the 
Romans of old time,' gazed upon those weather- 
worn trophies of the sea and mused on the strange 
contradictoriness of Fate, which had used aU the 
harangues of those impetuous orators as instru- 
ments to fashion the serene and silent despotism 
of Justinian, 
capitoiin© At the cud of the Forum, with an embarrassment 

Hill and 

buildings of Wealth which perplexes us even in their ruins, 
of it. rise the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Temple 
of Concord, the Temple of Vespasian, the ill- 
restored Temple of Saturn. Between them pene- 
trated the Clivus Capitolinus, up which once slowly 
mounted the car of many a triumphing general. 
Behind all stretched the magnificent background 
of the Capitoline Hill, on the left-hand summit 
of which stood the superb mass of the Temple of 

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The For a of the Caesars. \Vt 

Jupiter Capitolinus, robbed by Gaiseric of half book v. 
its golden tiles, but still resplendent under the "' 
western sun. Then came the saddle-shaped de- ^^^' 
pression faced by the long Tabularium : and then 
the right-hand summit of the Capitoline, crowned 
by the Temple of Juno Moneta\ 

We have supposed our historian to deviate aTheimpe- 
little from the straight path in order to explore 
to the uttermost the buildings of the Bepublican 
Forum ; but as his business lies at the northern 
extremity of the city, he must retrace a few of 
his steps and avail himself of the line of com- 
munication between the Via Sacra and the Via 
Flaminia which was opened up by the beneficent 
despotism of the Emperors. That is to say, he must 
leave the Forum of the Kepublic and traverse the 
long line of the spacious and well-planned Fora 
of the Caesars. In no part is the contrast be- 
tween ancient and modern Rome more humiliating 
than here. In our day, a complex of mean and ir- 
regular streets % almost entirely destitute of classical 
interest or mediaeval picturesqueness, fills up the 
interval between the Capitoline and the Quirinal 
hills. The deeply cut entablature of the Temple 
of Minerva resting upon the two half-buried 
'Colonnacce' in front of the bakers shop, the 

* A long and bitter controversy appears to be at length 
put to rest by the attribution of the Temple of Jupiter 
Capitolinus to the height now occupied by the Palazzo Caffa- 
relli, and by placing the Arz where now stands the Church of 
Ara Coeli. 

* Via Bonella, Via Alessandrina, and so forth. 

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118 Be It sarins in Rome. 

BOOKV. three pillars of the Temple of Mars Ultor, the 
^°' ' great feudal fortress of the Tor de Conti, and that 
^^^' most precious historical monument the Column 
of Trajan, alone redeem this region from utter 
wearisomeness. But this space, now so crowded 
and so irregular, was once the finest bit of archi- 
tectural landscape-gardening in Rome. The Forum 
of Vespasian, the Forum of Nerva, the Forum of 
Augustus, the Forum of Julius, the Forum of 
Trajan, a series of magnificent squares and arcades, 
opening one into the other, occupying a space 
some 600 yards long by 100 wide and ter- 
minating in the mighty granite pillars of the 
Temple of Trajan, produced on the mind of the 
beholder the same kind of effect, but on a far 
grander scale, which is wrought by Trafalgar 
Square in London or the Place de la Concorde in 
Paris. Let not the modem traveller, who, passing 
from the Corso to the Colosseum, is accosted by 
his driver with the glibly uttered words * Foro 
Trajano,* suppose that the little oblong space, with 
a few pillar-bases which he beholds at the foot of 
the memorable Column, is indeed even in ruin the 
entire Forum of the greatest of the Emperors. 
The column is Trajan's column doubtless, though 

< Apostolic statnes climb 
The imperial urn whose ashes slept sublime 
Buried in air, the deep blue sky of £ome, 
And looking to the stars/ 

The Forum But the so-callcd * Foro Trajano' is only a small 
^*^* transverse section of one member of the Trajanic 

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The Libraries of Trajan. 119 

series, the Basilica TJlpia, The column, as is well look t. 
known, measured the height of earth which had ^ 
to be dug away from a spur of the Capitoline hill **^' 
in order to form the Forum. Between it and the 
Basilica Ulpia rose the two celebrated libraries 
of Greek and Latin authors, and between these 
two buildings stood once, and probably yet stood 
in the days of Procopius, that 'everlasting statue* 
of brass which by the Senate's orders was erected 
in honour of Sidonius, Poet-laureate and son-in- 
law of an Emperor ^ In those Libraries Procopius, ii» li- 
in the intervals of the business and peril of the 
siege, may often have wandered in order to in- 
crease his acquaintance with the doings of 'the 
Eomans of old/ What treasures of knowledge, now 
for evler lost to the world, were still enshrined in 
those apartments ! There all the rays of classical 
Art and Science were gathered into a focus. More 
important perhaps for us, all that the Greeks and 
Bomans knew (and it was not a little, tliough 
carelessly recorded) concerning the Oriental civi- 
lisation which preceded theirs, and concerning the 
Teutonic barbarism which encompassed it, was 
still contained in those magnificent literary col- 
lections. There was the Chaldsean history of 
Berosus, there were the authentic Egyptian king- 
lists of Manetho, there was Livy s story of the 
last days of the Bepublic and the first days of the 
Empire, there was Tocitus's full history of the 
conquest of Britain, all that Ammianus could tell 
' See voL ii. p. 390. 

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120 Belisarius in Rome. 

BOOKv. about the troubles of the third century and the 
°' conversion of Constantine, all that Cassiodorus had 
^^ ' written about the royal Amals and the dim original 
of the Goths. All this perished, apparently in 
those twenty years of desolating war which now 
lie before us. It may be doubted whether for us 
the loss of the Bibliothecae Ulpiae is not even 
more to be regretted than that of the Library of 

Emperor Ammiauus tells us- that when the Emperor 

Constan- ... . . 

tiusonthe Coustantius visitcd Rome he ffazed with admi- 

Forum of , , ^ 

Trajan, ratiou ou the Capitol, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, 
and the Theatre of Pompey, but still with admi- 
ration which could express itself in words. *But 
when,* says the historian, *he came to the Forum 
of Trajan, that structure unique in all theVorld, 
and, as I cannot but think, marvellous in the eyes 
of the Divinity himself, he beheld with silent^ 
amazement those gigantic interlacings of stones 
which it is past the power of speech to describe, 
and which no mortal must in futiu:e hope to 

' The words of Vopiscus (Vita Probi, II), * Ubus sum prae- 
cipue libris ex Bibliotheca Ulpia, aeiaJU mea thermit Diode- 
tianisy' have been intei-preted as meaning that all the contents 
of Trajan's libraries had been transported to the Baths of 
Diocletian. I think, however, we may fairly infer from Sido- 
nius's verses about his statue, 

'Inter auctores utriusque fixam 

either that this removal had been only partial, or that at some 
time between 300 and 450 the books had been brought back to 
their original home. 
■ xvi. 10. 15. 

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The Forum of Trajan. 121 

imitate. Hopeless of ever attempting any such book v. 
work himself, he would only look at the horse of '^' 
Trajan, placed in the middle of the vestibule' ^^^ 
and bearing the statue of the Emperor. " That," 
said Constantius, ''I can imitate, and I wilL*' 
Hormisdas, a royal refugee from the court of 
Persia, replied, with his nation s quickness of 
repartee, " But first, Emperor, if you can do 
so, order a stable to be built as fair as that 
before us, that your horse may have as fine an 
exercising ground as the one we are now look- 
ing upon.*" 

Emerging from the imperial Fora, Procopius vu Lata, 
would now enter upon the Via Lata, broad as its 
name denotes, one of the longest streets, if not the 
longest, in Bome, and very nearly corresponding to* 
the modem Corso. The Subura, which lay a little 
to the east of the Forum of Augustus, was once 
at any rate one of the most thickly peopled dis- 
tricts of Rome, and we shall perhaps not be wrong 
in assuming that in the regions east of the Yia 
Lata, upon the Quirinal, Yiminal, and Esquiline 
Hills, where the tall buildings of the Fourth 
Bome, the Bome of Victor Emmanuel and United 
Italy, are now arising, the humbler classes of the 
Second or Imperial Bome had chiefly fixed their 

On the left side of the Via Lata, where the 
Third or Papal Bome has spun its web of streets 
thickest, all or nearly all was yet given up to 
^ Atrimn. 

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122 Belisarius in Rome. 

BOOKV. pleasure. This was the true West End of Rome, 
^°' ^' the region in which her parks and theatres were 
Cai^pui chiefly placed. Here were the great open spaces 
di^'i^? of the Campus Martins and Campus Flaminius ; 
andthea- jj^^^ ^^q racc-courses, those of Flaminius and 

ires weet ' 

of the Via Pomitiau ; here the great theatres of Pompey, of 
Balbus, and of Marcellus, and the Porticoes of the 
Argonauts and of Octavia. Altogether it was a 
region devoted to pleasure and idleness by the side 
of the tawny Tiber, and most unlike the closely- 
built and somewhat dingy quarters of the city 
which now occupy it. 

Pantheon. As Procopius movcd along the straight course 
of the Via Lata his eye would probably be caught 
by the airy dome of the Pantheon of Agrippa, 
hovering over the buildings on his left^ He 
would thread the Arch of Claudius, would stand 
at the foot of the Column of Marcus Aurelius, 
and then pass beneath that Emperors Arch of 
Triumph. Two mighty sepulchres would then 

Tomb of arrest his attention: the Tomb of Hadrian ^ seem- 
ing by its massive bulk almost close at hand, 

MauBo- though on the other bank of the Tiber ; and the 

A^ijrtus. Mausoleum of Augustus rising immediately on his 
left, a rotunda of white marble below, a green and 
shady pleasaunce above, recalling, by its wonderful 
admixture of Nature and Art, the far-famed Hang- 
ing Gardens of Babylon. 

^ 'Pantheum velut regioaem teretem speciosa celsitudine 
fomicatam' (Ammianus, xyi. lo. 14). 
■ Now the Castle of S. Angelo. 

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Procopius at the Pincian Palace. 123 

And now at length his never-to-be-forgotten book v. 
first view of Rome was drawing to a close. The ^"'^^ 
soon-sinking sun of late autumn warned him, *^^" 
perchance, to quicken his pace. He bore off to 
the right: by some steep steps where the receivers 
of the public alimony^ were wont to cluster, he 
climbed the high garden-decked Pincian. He 
entered the palace, bowed low before Belisarius, 
lower yet before the imperious Antonina, and 
received the General's orders as to the share of 
work that he was to undertake in connection 
with the provisionment of the city. Such is an 
account, imaginary indeed, but not improbable, 
of the circumstances in which the soldier-secretary 
first entered and first beheld Rome reunited to the 
Roman Empire. 

It remains for us briefly to notice the rising christian 
importance of the Christian buildings of Rome, ofRom^ 
though we will here dispense with the imaginary 
companionship of Procopius, whose somewhat 
sceptical temper, ' well acquainted with the subjects 
in dispute among Christians, but determined to 
say as little as possible about them, holding it 
to be proof of a madman's foUy to enquire into 
the nature of God*,' would make him an un- • 
congenial guest at the sacred shrines. Of the five 
great patriarchal churches of Rome, three were 
beyond the walls of the city, and one was on 
its extreme verge. The last, and at the period 
that we have now reached still the foremost 
' PaniB gradilis. ' De Bello Ootthico, i. 3. 

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124 Belisarius in Rome. 

BOOKV. in dignity, is St. John Lateran, or the Basilica 
.J^Ll^ of Constantine, the so-called Mother-Church of 

Bwm^of Christendom, * Omnium Urbis et Orbis Ecdesiarum 
CoMUn- Qaput/ It stands near the Asinarian (late, on 
ilti^* the property which Fausta, the unhappy wife of 
Constantino, inh^ited from her father Maximian, 
and which had once belonged to the senatorial 
family of the Laterani ; and it formed the subject 
of that real and considerable donation of the first. 
Christian Emperor to the Bishops of Rome which 
later ages distorted into a quasi-feudal investiture 
„.^ of the Imperial City. 
Vatican Upou the Vatican Hill, outside the walls of 
St. Petei*8. Aurelian, looking down upon the Tiber and the 
Tomb of Hadrian, rose the five long aisles, the 
semicircular apse, and the nearly square entrance- 
Atrium of the Basilica of St. Peter. The region 
immediately surrounding it was perhaps still called 
the Gardens of Nero. It is certain that the reason 
for placing the Basilica on that spot was that there 
was the traditional site of the martyrdom of the 
Apostle, as well as of the suflferings of the name- 
less Christian crowd who, dressed in cloaks covered 
with pitch and set on fire, served as living torches 
• to light that throned Satan to his revels and his 
chariot-races on the Vatican-mount. 
St. Paul's. Outside the gate of Ostia, and also near the 
traditional scene of the martyrdom of the Apostle 
to whom it was dedicated, stood the noble Basi- 
lica of St. Paul. This edifice, commenced by 
Theodosius, completed by Honorius, and having 

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The Christian Basilicas. 125 

received the finishing touches to its decorations book v. 
at the hand of Placidia under the guidance of '^' 
Pope Leo\ subsisted with but little change to *^^' 
the days of our fathers. The lamentable fire of 
1823, by which the greater part of it was de- 
stroyed, took firom us the most interesting relic 
of Christian Imperial Borne. Happily the restor- 
ation, though it cannot give us back the imdimi- 
nished interest of the earlier building, has been 
carried on with admirable fidelity to the original 

This cannot be said of the Liberian Basilica, the liberfan 
great church now known as S. Maria Maggiore, sta. Muia 
which, standing high on the Esquiline Hill, looked *^*^* 
down westwards on the crowded Subura, and 
northwards towards the palatial Baths of Dio- 
cletian. The outside of the building has sustained 
the extremity of insult and wrong at the hands 
of the tasteless pseudo-classical restorers of the 
eighteenth century; and the inside, though not 
absolutely ruined by them, though its mosaics are 
still visible and much of its long colonnade still 
remains, shows too plainly how unsafe were the 
treasures of Christian antiquity in the hands of 
the conceited architects of the Benaissance. 

The last of the great Basilicas, that of the st. Law- 
martyred S. Lawrence, one mile outside the Tibur- 
tine Gate, has suffered less ravage at the hands 

^ 'Placidiae pia mens operis decus ^mne (sic) patemi 
Gaudet pontificis studio splendere Leonis.* 

(iDBcription over the arch in S. Paolo faori le Mura.) 

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126 Belisarius in Rome. 

BOOKv. of restorers. It was in the thirteenth century 
singularly re-arranged and transformed, its apse 

^^^' being pulled down and turned into a nave, and 
its original vestibule being turned into a choir ^: 
still we have substantially before us the same 
church which was surrounded by the Gothic armies 
in their siege of Rome. With that blending of 
the old and of the very new which at once charms 
and bewilders the visitor to Eome, we have here 
again an inscription recording the work of *the 
pious mind of Placidia' under the guidance of 
Attila s Pope Leo, and in the crypt the just 
erected tomb of Pio Nono. The latter is so placed 
as to command a view of the slab of marble dyed 
red with the blood of the deacon Laurentius, 
martyr for the faith under the Emperor Claudius 
Gothicus. This marble slab was a favourite relic 
with the late PontifiF. 
The parish Bcsidcs thcsc fivc great patriarchal churches 

churches, •^•1111 

orTituii. there were twenty-eight parish churches, known 
by the technical name of T%tul% from which the 
Cardinal-presbyters of a later age took their eccle- 
siastical designations ^. Some of these which have 
been preserved to this day are more interesting 
than the churches of greater dignity, having by 
reason of their comparative insignificance escaped 
the hand of the Eenaissance destroyer ^ 

^ See Freeman's Historical and Architectural Sketches, 213- 
215, for an account of these transformations. 

^ See a very complete list of the Tituli in Gregorovius, 
i. 251-259. 

' Such are Santa Prassede, San Clemente, and Santa Agneee. 

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Th4 Christian Basilicas. 127 

The main features, which were evidently com- book v. 
men to all the Christian edifices of Kome in the ^"•^' 
fifth and sixth centuries, were (i) a long line of ^^^' 
columns, not by any means always uniform or of turesofthe 
the same order of architecture, and generally taken ^ ^hi- 
from the outside of some heathen temple; (2) a^*Sui° 
semicircular apse at the eastern end, in which the ^t^^. 
bishop or presbyter sat surrounded by his inferior 
clergy, as the Boman magistrate in the original 
Basilica sat surrounded by the various members of 
his * officium / (3) an arch in front of the apse, the 
idea of which was probably borrowed from the 
triumphal arches of the Emperors ; (4) upon the 
arch, upon the apse, on the flat wall-space above 
the arches, in fact wherever they could conveni- 
ently be introduced, a blaze of bright mosaics, 
like those still preserved to us at Kavenna and 
in a very few of these Koman churches. The 
subjects represented are the Saviour, the symbols 
of the four Evangelists, the twelve Apostles 
under the guise of sheep, the mystic cities Jeru- 
salem and Bethlehem, the Jordan and the four 
rivers of Paradise, and other emblems of the same 

The fact that the columns of these churches 
were as a rule taken from heathen temples must 
of course qualify to some extent the statement 
that the splendour of the city was undiminished 
when Procopius entered it. Temples, not merely 
abandoned to silence and solitude, but rudely 
stripped of their pillared magnificence, must in 

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128 Belisarius in Rome. 

BOOKV. many places have offended the eye of a beholder 
^°'^' more sensitive to beauty than to religious enthu- 
^^^* siasm. Still upon the whole, and with this abate- 
ment, we may repeat our proposition that it was 
the stately Kome of Consuls and Emperors which 
men then looked upon, and which after the middle 
of the sixth century they never beheld again. 

'Alas, for Earth, for never shall we see 
That brightness in her eye she bore when Borne was free.' 

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Source: — 

Procopius, De Bello Gotthico, i, 16-19. BOOK v. 

Ch. 5. 

Vacillation and feebleness of purpose marked 536. 
the counsels of Witigis, as the consequences of the '^'^^f i^^^ 
fatal error which he had committed in abandoning 
Rome made themselves manifest to his mind. At 
first his chief desire was to wait till his forces 
should be strengthened by the return of Marcias 
with the considerable army which he had under 
his command for the defence of Gothic Gaul 
against the Franks. Then came tidings which Energy of 
showed that Belisarius felt his hold of Rome so 
secure that he might venture onwards into the 
Tuscan province. Bessas was sent to Narni, about Occupation 

, , of Nami. 

fifty miles from Rome, the first strong position 
on the Flaminian Way. The inhabitants being 
well affected to the imperial cause, he occupied 
this post without difficulty. Constantine, the rival 
of Bessas in martial glory, was sent with some of 
the body guards of Belisarius, and other troops, 
among whom figured several Hims^ in order to 

^ The barbaric-Boanding names of the HoimiBh generals are * 
Zanter, Chorsoman, and Aeschman. 

VOL. rv. K 

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130 The Long Siege begun. 

BOOKV. seize some positions yet further from the city. 
°' Spoleto, twenty-five miles further from Kome on 

s leto *^^ Flaminian Way, was occupied by a garrison. 

and Peru- Etruriau Perugia on her lofty hill-top, some forty 
miles further north than Spoleto, but lying a little 
oflF the great Flaminian highway, was next taken 
possession of, and here Constantine fixed his head- 
quarters. The troops which Witigis despatched 
against Perugia were defeated, and their generals^ 
were sent as prisoners to Kome. 

Gothic The tidings of these reverses roused Witigis to 

operations . . , , i r 

in Daima- morc vigorous actiou ; but, strangely enough, after 
tarrying so long in order to be joined by the 
recalled troops from Gaul, he must now weaken 
himself still further by sending a division into 
Dalmatia. It is true that of the two generals 
despatched on this errand, one, Asinarius, was 
sent round the head of the Hadriatic Gulf, to 
gather round his standard the barbarians who 
dwelt in the districts which we now call Camiola 
and Croatia. But the other, XJligisal, who sailed 
straight to Dalmatia, must have taken with him 
some troops who could be ill-spared from the 
defence of Italy, It is not necessary to trouble 
the reader with the details of these ill-advised, 
and in the end resultless, operations on the east 
of the Hadriatic. The Goths met with reverses ^, 

^ Unilas and a second Pitzas (not of course the commander 
in Samnium who went over to BeHsarius). 
« '^ XJligisal was defeated at Scardona and shut up in Bamum, 
bat liberated by the arrival of his colleague Asinarius. 

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Wttigis marches Southwards, 131 

but succeeded for some time in closely investing book v. 
Salona both by sea and land^ The Dalmatian 

capital, however, fell not; and after a siege of ^^^' 
uncertain duration, the Gothic soldiers probably 
recrossed the Hadriatic to take part in the more 
urgent work of resisting Belisarius in Italy ^ 

About this time word was brought to the Gothic Tidings of 


King that the citizens of Rome viewed with im- disaifection 
patience the presence and the exactions of the imperial 

Imperial army. That there was some foimdation 
of truth for this statement will appear by a refer- 
ence to the last chapter; but it was evidently 
much exaggerated, and it by no means followed 
that the citizens who grumbled the most bitterly 
at the general's preparations for the siege would 
lift a finger for the surrender of the city to the 
justly enraged Gothic army. However, the tidings 
kindled immediately a flame of hope in the feebly 
forecasting soul of Witigis : and now he, who had 
wasted precious months in purposeless inaction, 
thought every day an age till he had recovered 
possession of the abandoned city. With the whole witigiB 
armed nation of the Goths (except the division eouth- 
that had been ordered to Dalmatia) he marched 150,000 
southwards in hot haste along the Flaminian Way. ^^^' 
The numbers of his army amounted, if we trust 
the estimate of Procopius, to 1 50,000 men. The 

^ It is interesting to note the tactics of besiegers and be- 
sieged. Constantian had surrounded Salona with a deep ditch. 
The Qoths surrounded this ditch again with a liigh mound. 

• Procopius appears to have forgotteik to tell us the sequel of 
the Dalmatian war. 


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132 The Long Siege begun. 

BOOKv. historian evidently uses round numbers, and has 

Ch. 5. . 

— '-^ probably exaggerated the size of the besieging host 
^^^' in order to increase the fame of Belisarius ; but 
there can be no doubt that Witigis was followed 
by a very large army, outnumbering many times 
over the little band of the Imperialists. The 
proportions of infantry and cavalry are not stated, 
but we are told that the greater number, both of 
the horses and men, were completely encased in 
defensive armour \ 

Eagerneas Oncc started ou- his march, Witigis was tor- 

ofWitigiB. .° . 

mented by a fond fear that Belisarius would 
escape him, and was earnest in his prayers by 
night and by day that he might behold the walls 
of Kome while yet the Imperial forces stood 
behind them. On the journey the army fell in 
with a priest who had just quitted the city, and 
who was brought with shouts to the King's tent. 
*Is Belisarius yet in Rome?' asked Witigis, 
breathless with anxiety. *Ay, and likely to 
remain there,' was the answer of the priest, who 
had a better idea of the state of the game than 
his questioner. 

StiU, the Imperial general was for a moment 

^ Kai airSof T€$cDpaKtafi€Voi (yif rois ttnrois oi ytXciotoc ^crov. From 
the mention of the horses we may probably infer that they 
wore suits of flexible chain armour. Compare the remarks of 
the young lady in Claudian's poem on the sixth consulship of 
Honorius (569-572) : — 

*Ut chalybem indutos equites, et in aere latentes 
Yidit comipedes: *-'Quanam de gente" rogabat 
"Ferrati venere viri? Quae terra metallo 
Nascentes informat equos?"' 

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Eagerness of Witigis. 133 

perplexed by the tidings that so vast a host was book v. 
rolling on towards him. It was not for his own ' ' 
position that he was in fear, but he felt that he ^^^; 
could scarcely hold the latest conquests in Tuscany ooncen- 
in the face of such an army. After some anxious forces, 
deliberation he ordered Constantino and Bessas to 
garrison three towns only, and then to fall back 
on Kome. The three towns were Spoleto, Perugia, 
and Nami, all situated on the top of high hills, 
and therefore easily defended. Narni especially, 
built on 

'that grey crag where girt with towers 
The fortress of Nequinum lowers 

O'er the pale waves of Nar,' 

and commanding the entrance to a deep and 
picturesque gorge spanned by the stately bridge 
of Augustus (x)ne of whose arches still remains), 
struck the mind of the historian by the grand 
inaccessibility of its position \ Bessas, who lin- skirmiah 
gered somewhat over the execution of the orders 
of his chief, had the excitement of a successful 
skirmish with the vanguard of the Gothic army 
before he retired from this fortress to Rome. 

Notwithstanding the fact that these strongholds witigisat 

1 • i» ii iTT'i* • the Milvi- 

were m the possession oi the enemy, Witigis an Bridge, 
appears to have pushed on by the Flaminian Way 
which winds at their feet ; and was soon standing 

* ' This bridge Caesar Augustus built in the times long ago, 
a sight about which much might be said. For of all the arches 
that we know this is the loftiest ' (ii. 85). The remaining 
arch is 60 feet high and about 30 feet broad. 

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134 The Long Siege begun. 

BOOK V. with his 1 50,000 men at the Etrurian end of the 
"' Milvian Bridge over the Tiber, two miles from 
^^^* Rome^. This bridge, so well known under its 
modem name of Ponte MoUe to the fashionable 
loungers in Eorae, is in its present shape the 
handiwork of Papal architects ; but the founda- 
tions of the piers are ancient, and the general 
appearance of the six arches with which it spans 
the stream is not probably very different from 
that which it wore in the davs of Belisarius. 
A bridge whose name had often been in the 

^ I follow Gibbon, and almost all other historians who have 
described this march of the Goths, in interpreting Procopius' 
' bridge over the Tiber at 14 stadia from Rome by the Milvian 
Bridge.' Gregorovius, however, points out (i. 349, n. i) that if 
Witigis marched, as Procopius says he did, * through the Sabine 
territory' (dic^ Zo^iwuy ti^v nop€ta¥ votovfi^vos)^ he would be on 
the east bank of the Tiber and would not need to cross that 
river at all. He therefore suggests that Procopius has here as 
elsewhere confused the Tiber with the Anio, and that we must 
understand by his words one of the bridges over the latter 
stream, probably the Ponte Salaro, which is about the right 
distance from Eome. I do not think, however, that this bridge 
corresponds with the description. of the battle nearly so well as 
the Milvian. As we must admit some inaccuracy in Procopius, 
I prefer to sacrifice the words bia 2afiuf«»v rather than the words 
T(/3cpido( noTOfjLov yt<t>vp^. It is not necessary to admit that the 
large army of the Goths would be prevented, by the hostile 
occupation of Spoleto and Nami, from using the broad and 
convenient Via Flaminia, The view usually taken receives 
further confirmation from the fact that in the 19th chapter (p. 94) 
Procopius mentions the bridge fj MiKfilov iw&pv/juk coriy as in the 
possession of the Goths, and essential to the combined opera- 
tions of their army on the two banks of the river. He gives 
no hint that this is not the same bridge which they wrested 
from the soldiers of Belisarius at the commencement of the 

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The Milvian Bridge abandoned. 135 

mouths of the Boman people in stirring times, book v. 
in the crises of Punic wars and CatiUnarian con- 1_L 

spiracies, it had earned yet greater fame two ^^^' 
centuries ago (a. d. 312) by the bloody battle 
fought under its parapets between the soldiers 
of Constantino and those of Maxentiue, a battle 
the result of which ensured the triumph of 
Christianity through the whole Boman world, 
and which has been for this reason commemorated 
by Baffaele and Bomano with splendid strength 
in the Stanze of the Vatican. 

Expecting that the Goths would attempt to BeiiBarias^s 
cross the river here, and anxious to retard their S^^for 
progress S though without hope of finally pre- of Ae ^"^^^ 
venting them from reaching the eastern bank of ^*^" 
the river, Belisarius had erected a fortress on the 
Etrurian bank, and decided to pitch his camp close 
to the stream on the Latian side, in order to 
over-awe the barbarians by this show of con- 
fidence. And, indeed, the ardour of the Goths 
was not a little chilled when they saw the castle 
above, and the tawny river before them. They 
bivouacked between Monte Mario and the Tiber 
for the night, postponing till the morrow the 
assault on the bridge-fort. The night, however, 

^ Bat ProcopiuB must surely be mistaken in saying that any 
other route than that by the Milyian Bridge would cause them 
a delay of twenty days. Doubtless they could have crossed by 
the bridge near Borghetto, about thirty-six miles from Rome. 
This assertion, however, makes it more probable that Procopios 
is really thinking of the Milvian Bridge than of the little bridges 
over the Anio. 

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136 The Long Siege begun. 

BOOK V. brought gloomy forebodings to other hearts than 
°' theirs. It seemed to the garrison impossible that 
^^^' the bridge could be effectually defended against 
d^JtodT* ^^^ ^2jA horde of men whose camp-fires filled 
byitedfr- tij0 plain. Twenty-two soldiers of the Boman 
army, themselves of barbarian origin, horsemen 
in the troop of Innocentius, went over to the 
foes and informed them of the state of discourage* 
ment which prevailed in the garrison. As night 
wore on, the rest of the men on duty in the 
bridge-fort deserted their post. They did not. dare 
to show themselves in Bome, but dunk away to 
Campania. When day dawned the Goths marched 
without difl&culty through the empty guard-house, 
across the undefended bridge, and now they stood 
on the eastern bank of the Tiber with no natural 
obstacle between them and Bome. 
Skirmish Little dreaming of the cowardice of the garrison, 
eastern Belisarius, who thought the barbarians were still 
bridge. on the other side of the river, sent looo picked 
horsemen to the bridge-end to reconnoitre for a 
suitable camping-ground. They fell in with a 
party of the Gothic horsemen who had just crossed 
the bridge, and an equestrian battle followed. 
Then, says the historian, Belisarius forgot for a 
moment the discretion which ought to be mani- 
fested by a general, and by exposing himself like a 
common soldier brought the Imperial cause into 
BeUsariuB the extrcmcst peril. Springing upon his charger 
battle. he hurried to the place whence the clash of arms 
was heard, and was soon in the thickest of the 

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Balan! Balan! 137 

fight. His horse, a noble creature, which did book v. 
everything that a horse could do to carry its ^^* ^' 
rider harmless through the fray, was well known ^^^" 
to aU the army. Dark-roan ^ with a white star 
upon its forehead, it was called by the Greeks 
Phallus^, and by the barbarians in the army 
Balan ^ The deserters knew the steed and his 
rider, and strove to direct the weapons of the 
Goths against them. 'Balan! Balan! Aim for 
the horse with the white star,' was their eager 
exclamation. The cry was caught up by the 
Goths, scarce one of whom understood its mean- 
ing. But they knew that the horse with the 
white star must carry some personage of import- 
ance : and 'Balan! Balan!' resounded from a 
thousand Gothic throats through the confused 
roar of the battle. All their bravest thronged 
to the place, some with lances, some with swords, 
striving to transfix or to hew down the horse 
and his rider. To right, to left, Belisarius dealt 
his swashing blows. The best men of his body- 
guard gathered round him, some protecting his 
body and that of his horse with their shields, 
others thrusting back the onset of the barbarians 
by impetuous counter-charges. It was a true 
Homeric battle, in which all that was most mar- 
tial in the two armies was drawn to a single 

* The Oreek word for an animal with a white patch on its 

* Is this a Honnish word, or (more probably) the equivalent 
of Phalius on barbarian lipe ? 

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138 The Long Siege begun. 

BOOKV. point, and on one group of fighting men rested 

!!l-L the whole fortune of the day. At length Boman 

^^^' arms and Boman discipline prevailed. After a 
thousand Gothic warriors of the foremost rank 
and many of the bravest men of the Boman 
general's household had fallen, the barbarians fled 
to their camp ^ and Belisarius emerged absolutely 
unwounded from the fray. 
Second When the fugitives reached the Gothic camp 

nearer their comradcs poured out in support of them. 
The Bomans retreated to a hill near at hand, and 
here again a battle of cavalry took place, in which 
the deeds of greatest daring were wrought by a 
certain Valentine, who served in the humble capa- 
city of groom to the son-in-law of Belisarius. 
Alone the brave menial charged an advancing 
squadron of the Goths, and rescued his comrades 
Flight of from imminent peril. The advance of the bar- 
riai troops, barians was, however, too strong to be resisted, 
and at length the whole Boman army, with 
Belisarius at their head, were in full flight to 
the walls of the city. They reached the Pincian 
Gate S which, from that memorable day, was long 
afterwards known by the name of the Gate of 
Eelisarius. Down the sides of the fosse swarmed 

^ Which most kaye been hastily pitched on the east bank of 
the Tiber. 

■ The words of Procopius are, o^^k t^k vvkt^v ^ BcXioopia «i«i5- 
fuurTQi vw. We seem to be forced, by the language of Pro- 
copius in the 22nd chapter, to understand by this the Pincian 
Qate, although Procopius is generally car«ful to speak of that 
as a nvKis, not a irvXi;. 

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The Pincian Gate closed against Belisarius. 139 

the crowd of fugitives, but only to find to their book v. 
despair the folding doors of the Porta Pinciana ^"'^' 
obstinately dosed against them. The hoarse ^^^* 

. . . The gate 

voice of Belisarius was heard, loudly and withdoBed 
threats calling to the sentinels to open the gate, BeiiBanue. 
but in vain. In that face, all covered with sweat, 
and dust and gore, they did not recognise, now 
that twilight was coming on, the countenance of 
the general whom they had so often seen serene 
in his hours of triumph : his voice they could 
not distinguish through the din of the refluent 
tide of war. Above all, the terrible rumour had 
reached their ears, brought by the first fiigitives 
from the field, that Belisarius, after performing 
prodigies of valour, had been left dead upon the 
plain. This thought most of all unnerved them. 
They were left, it seemed, without a general and 
without a plan, and as they stooped forward from 
the round towers^ by the gate, to see by the fading 
light how went the fortime of the fight, they felt 
themselves to be doomed men whose only chance 
of safety lay in keeping fast the doors by which, 
if opened, Goth and Roman would enter together. 

This was the state of affairs, the Boman soldiers BeUsanus 
huddled together under the wall, so close to one the Goths. 
another that they could hardly move, their com- 
rades above reftising to open the gates, the Goths 
just preparing to rush down the fosse and make 
an exterminating charge, when the lost battle was 
retrieved by the wise rashness of Belisarius. 

^ Still viBible, though the gate itself is closed. , 

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140 The Long Siege begun. 

BOOKV. Collecting his men into a small but orderly army 

1- he faced round and made a vigorous charge upon 

^^^' the pursuing Gotha Already thrown into dis- 
order by the ardour of their pursuit, tmable by 
the fading light to discern the small number of 
their foes, and naturally concluding that a new 
army was issuing from the gates of Bome to attack 
them, the barbarians turned and fled. Belisarius 
wisely pursued them but a short distance, re- 
formed his ranks, and marched back in good order 
to the gate, where he had now no diflficulty in 
obtaining an entrance, 
d^^of Thus did the battle, which had commenced at 
BeUaariiia dawn and lasted till dark, end after all not dis- 
viaandne. astrously for the Imperial troops. By universal 
consent the praise of highest daring on that day 
was awarded to two men, to Belisarius on the 
side of the Bomans, and on that of the barbarians 
to a standard-bearer^ named Visandus. The latter 
was conspicuous in the thickest of the fight round 
Belisarius and the dark-roan steed, and it was 
not till he had received his thirteenth wound 
that he ceased from the combat. TTih victorious 
comrades saw and passed on from what they 
deemed to be the corpse of their champion ; but 
three days after, when they came at their leisure 

' Gibbon first poiDted out that this is the meaning of the 
word fioMkaptos, which had preyiously been looked af>on as 
a proper name. Procopias (De Bello Yandalico, iL 2) speaks 
of 'the standard, which the Romans call bandnm,' and (iL 10) 
' of the man accustomed to carry the general's standard in the 
ranks, whom the Romans caU bandifer.' 

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False alarm of Gothic entrance. Hi 

to bury their dead, a soldier thought he saw book v. 
signs of life in the body of Visandus and implored ^°'^' 
him to speak. Hunger and a raging thirst pre- 5^^' 
vented him from doing more than make one 
gasping request for water. When that was 
brought him consciousness fully returned, and he 
was able to be carried into the camp. He lived 
after this many years, having achieved great glory 
among his countrymen by his prowess and his 
narrow escape from death. 

For Belisarius, not even yet were the labours Beiisa- 
and anxieties of this long day ended. He mustered Il^nge- 
the soldiers and the greater part of the citizens STnigbt. 
upon the walls, and ordered them to kindle fre- 
quent fires along their circuit and to watch the 
whole night through. Then he went round the 
walls himself, arranging who was to be responsible 
for the defence of each portion, and especially 
which generals were to be on guard at each of 
the gates. While he was thus engaged, a mes-Faiae 
senger came in breathless haste from the Pree- the Goths 
nestine Gate^ at the south-east of the city to say ofst^^n- 
that Bessas, who was commanding there, had^^^"*' 
learned that the enemy were pouring in by the 
Gate of St Pancratius* on the other side of the 
Tiber. Hearing this, the officers round him be- 
sought him to save himself and the army by 
marching out at some other gate. Unshaken by 
these disastrous tidings, Belisarius calmly said 
that he did not believe the report. A horseman, 

* Poiia Maggiore. " Still cadled Porta San Pancrazio. 

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142 The Long Siege begun. 

BOOKV. despatched with all speed to the Trastevere, 

"' returned with the welcome news that the enemy 

^^^' had not been seen in that part of the city. 

Belisarius improved the opportunity by issuing 

a general order that under no circumstances, not 

even if he heard that the Goths were inside the 

walls, was the officer entrusted with the defence 

of one gate to leave it in order to carry assistance 

to another. Each one was to attend to his own 

allotted portion of work and leave the care of the 

general defence to the commander-in-chief. 

Harangue 'J'Ijq eamest work of the defence was inter- 
by WaciR. 

rupted by the comedy of a harangue from a 
Gothic chief named Wacis, who, by order of 
Witigis, drew near to the walls. With much 
vehemence he inveighed against the fitithlessness 
of the Bomans, who had betrayed their brave 
Gothic defenders and handed themselves over, 
instead, to the guardianship of a company of 
Greeks, men who had hitherto never been heard 
of in Italy except as play-actors, mimics, or vaga- 
bond sailors. Belisarius bade the men on the 
walls to treat this tirade with silent contempt : 
and in truth, after the deeds of that day, to 
revive the taunts which had passed current for 
centuries against Grecian effeminacy was an im- 
pertinence which refuted itself. None the less, 
however, did the Roman citizens marvel at and 
secretly condenm the calm confidence of success, 
the absolute contempt for his foe which was 
displayed on this occasion by Belisarius, so lately 

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A long day ended. 143 

a fugitive from the Gothic sworcL He understood book v. 
the rules of the game, however, better than they, ^' 
and having repaired the error of the morning, ^^^" 
knew that no second opportunity of the same kind 
would be afforded by him to the enemy. 

And now^ at last, when the night was already BeiwanuB 
fea* advanced, was the general, who had fasted first re- 
trom early morning, prevailed on by his wife and 
friends to take some care for the refreshment of 
his body, hastily snatching a simple meaL 

This memorable day was the beginning of the The siege 

First Siege of Bome by the Ostrogoths, the longest begun. 

and one of the deadliest that the Eternal City has 

ever endured. It began in the early days of March 537. 

March 537, and was not to end till a year and 

nine days later in the March of 538^. When 

morning dawned, the Goths, who entertained no 

doubt of an early success against so large and 

helpless a city, proceeded to intrench themselves in 

seven camps, six on the eastern and one on the . 

western side of the Tiber. They did not thus 

^ Lord Mahon (Earl Stanhope), in his life of Belisarios 
(p. 246), endeavours to fix the date of the beginning of the 
siege to March 12. He does this by assigning the vernal 
equinox (March 21) for its close. The words of Procopius, 
however (ii. 186, ed. Bonn), rh ftiv cZp h-og cSft^l Tponhs tapivas Ijv^ 
seem to me too vague to support this exact conclusion : and, 
on the other hand, his statement that it began ' at the outset 
of March ' (Mapriov Urrofidvov ff irokiopida tear dpxas y€yop€v, 
p. 117), coupled with the general course of the narrative which 
describes a large number of events before ' the winter ended 
and the second year of the war' (p. 154), indicates a very early 
date in March for the beginning of the siege. It does not seem 
possible to define it more accurately than this. 

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144 The Long Siege begun, 

BooKv, accomplish a perfect blockade of the city, but 

Gates of 

they did obstruct, in a tolerably effectual manner, 
eight out of its fourteen gates. As frequent re- 
Rome, ference in the course of this history will be made 
to one or other of these gates, it will be well to 
give a list of them here, with their ancient and 
modem names, printing those that were obstructed 
by the Goths in italics. 

Ancient Name. Modebn Name. No. of Towers. 

East bank of the Tiber :— 

1. ForfxL Flaminia . . , P. del Popolo, 

2. Porta Solaria .... P. SdUvra, 

3. Porta Nomentana near to P, Pia. 

4. Porta Tibu/rtina , , , P, San Lorenzo. 

5. Porta Labicana &) t* ,^ . 
6.P<rrtaPra.nuHna] ' ^^•^-99^<^'- ^^ 

7. Porta Asinaria . near to P. San Oiovanni. 

8. Porta Metrovia (or Me- 
tronia) Closed. 

9. Porta Latina .... Closed. 

10. Porta Appia .... P.San Sebastiano. 

11. Porta Ostiensis . . . P. San Paolo. ^^' 

35 to the Tiber. 

West bank of the Tiber :— ^' 

12. Porta Portuensis, near to P. Portese. 29. 

13. Porta Aurelia^ (or Sancti 
Fancratt{) . . . .P.SanPanerazio. ^^^^^^,j,.^^ 

14. Porta CWn«/ta (or /SiiR6<t Destroyed (oppo- ^' 
Petri) site Ponte S. 

Angelo). jg 


^ There is some little confusion about the application of the 
•term Porta Aurelia. It seems clear that Procopius uses it 





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The Gates of the City. 145 

To give some idea of the distance of one gate book v. 
from another the number of square towers be- — 1-1- 
tween each pair of gates is added on the autho- ^^^' 
rity of the Pilgrim of Einsiedehi. The intervals 
between the towers varied from loo to 300 and 
even 400 feet, the wider spaces being chiefly 
found on the west side of the Tiber. 

Between the Flaminian and the Salarian gates 
stood the somewhat smaller Porta Pinciana, now 
closed, which was the scene of some hot encounters 
during the siege. It is possible that Procopius 
may have reckoned the Porta Pinciana as one of 
the fourteen gates belonging to the whole circuit 
of the walls, and one of the six gat«s on the eastern 
side of the Tiber that were blocked by the enemy. 
In that case we must treat the Labicana and Prae- 
nestina as one gate, which their close proximity to 
one another justifies us in doing. It seems more 
probable, however, that Procopius, who is generally 
very careful to denote the Pincian by the term 
gate-let (xvX/y), and who informs us that there 
were fourteen gates 'besides certain gate-lets \' 
did not mean to reckon the Pincian among the 
great gates of Eome. 

of Ckte No. 14, opposite the Tomb of Hadrian (Castle of 
8. Angelo), and equally clear that both in earlier and in later 
times No. 13 was known as Aurelia. Procopius knows the 
latter only by its ecclesiastical name, Porta Sancti Pancratii. 
lather there were two Portae Aareliae, or the memory of the 
historian, writing as he did some thirteen years after his visit 
to Eome, has played him false. 

^ ^E;(Ci [kkp r^s 9r<$Xecoff 6 Trtpifiokos dU cirra irvXns Kal irvkidas 


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146 The Long Siege begun. 

BOOKv. The total circuit of the walls of Aurelian and 
^°'^' Honorius was about twelve miles. The space 
^'^' blockaded by the Goths amounted probably to 
tent of the about two-thirds of this circumference. 


The seven The camps of the barbarians were works of 

camps. some solidity. Deep fosses were dug around them: 
the earth dug out of the fosse was piled on its 
inner face so as to make a high rampart, and a 
fence of sharp stakes was inserted therein. Al- 
together, as Procopius says, these Gothic camps 
lacked none of the defences of a regular castle. 
A careful observer (Mr. Parker), who has had the 
advantage of several years' residence in Rome, 
considers that the traces of all these camps are 
still visible. Without venturing to pronounce an 
opinion on a question requiring such minute local 
knowledge, it will not be amiss to place before 
the reader the result of his investigations. In 
any event the Gothic camps must have been near 
the sites which he has assigned to them. 

First camp. Xhc first camp was placed 'within a stones 
throw of the Porta Flaminia (to the north-east), 
in the grounds which formerly belonged to the 
villa of the Domitii ^! This camp was obviously 
required in order to obstruct the great northern 
road of Rome and to threaten the gate leading 
to it. 

Second The sccoud, probably the largest and most 

important of all, was erected in what are now 
the gardens of the Villa Borghese. The woods 
* Which, when Mr. Parker wrote, belonged to Mr. Esmeade. 

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The Gothic Camps. 147 

and shady coverts of this, which is one of the book v. 

most beautiful of the parks surrounding the walls L-L 

of Kome, make it now very difficult to get a clear ^^^' 
view of the ground and to reconstruct in imagina- 
tion the scene of so many terrible encounters. 
Still it is possible to behold the quickly-rising 
groimd on which the camp was placed. *The 
raised platform for the tents to stand upon ' (one 
of these tents was probably the royal pavilion 
of Witigis) *and the cliffs around it are' (says 
Mr. Parker) *very visible.' Clearly seen from it 
were doubtless the high walls of the city, the 
Pincian gat€-let, and the Pincian gardens sur- 
rounding the palace in which Belisarius dwelt. 

The third camp, * concealed from view by Third 
modern walls,' says Parker, *lay on the left 
hand of the Via Nomentana, about half-way 
(or rather less) to the ancient church of * St. 
Agnes outside the walls.' 

Rounding the sharp projecting angle of the Fourth 
Castra Praetoria we come to two camps, the camps. 
fourth and fifth, one on the north and one on 
the south of the Via Tiburtina. The fifth, savs 
Parker, 'is very near to the great church and 
burial-ground of St. Laurence outside the walls, 
from which the cliffs of it are distinctly seen.' 
The fourth is apparently placed by him only 
about a couple of hundred yards away near the 
Villa Santo Spirito. It may perhaps be doubted 
whether Parker is right in putting these two 
camps so near to one another. 

L 2 

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H8 The Long Siege begun, 

BOOKV. The sixth, and last on this side of the river, 
is placed about half-a-mile from the south-eastern 
corner of the walls along the Via Praenestina, 

On the other side of the Tiber the Goths 
built a camp to assure their hold upon the Mil- 
vian Bridge and to threaten the gates of St. Peter 
and St. Pancratius. We are told that it was in 
the Campus Neronis. It must have been there- 
fore not far from where the Vatican palace now 
stands : but after the vast changes which the 
Popes, from the fifteenth century onwards, have 
made in that region, it would be futile now to 
look for its remains ^. Marcias, who had by this 
time arrived with the troops from Gaul, took 
the command of this trans-Tiberine camp. A 
Gothic officer was placed in charge of each of 
the other camps, Witigis having a general over- 
sight of all on the east of the Tiber and the 
particular oversight of one, which, as has been 
before said, was probably that in the Borghese 
gardens ^. 

On the Roman side Belisarius himselP took 
the command of the portion of the wall be- 
tween the Pincian gate-let and the Salarian 
gate ; the part which was considered least secure, 
and where the Roman opportunities for a sally 
were the most inviting. The Prsenestine Gate 

^ I venture to differ here from Mr. Parker, who places this 
camp close to the Ponte Molle and just at the foot of Monte 
Mario, where he thinka remains of it are still visible. 

* Procopius is rather vague here : T»v hi StCKvxv Ovlnyi^ ^yrtro 
€KT09 aMs. "Ap^aif yap ^p its Kara xapcucmfui tKaarop, 

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The Gothic Camps. 149 

(Maggiore) was assigned to Bessas, the Flaminia book v. 
(P. del Popolo) to Constantine, The last-named °'^ 
gate was blocked up with large stones (perhaps ^^^' 
taken from the old wall of King Servius), so that 
it might not be possible for traitors to open it to 
the enemy. For, on account of the close prox- 
imity of the first Gothic camp, a surprise at this 
gate was considered more probable than at any 

The building of the seven camps of the bar- 
barians was a temporary expedient, and when the 
war was over the traces of them, except for the 
eye of an archaeologist, soon passed away. Not 
so, however, with the next operation resorted to by 
the Goths, which may be said to have influenced 
the social life of Rome, and through Bome the 
social life of the kingdoms of Western E«rope, 
throughout the ten centuries which we call the 
Middle Ages. This operation was the cutting of 
the Aqueducts. A deed of such far-reaching im- 
portance requires to be treated of in a chapter by 
itself; nor will the reader possibly object to turn 
for a little space from the tale of barbarous battle 
to the story of the wise forethought of * the Ro- 
mans of ancient days,' the builders of the mighty 
water-courses wliich fed the Eternal City. 

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Sources: — 
BOOK V. The chief authority for the history of the Roman Aque- 
^^'^' duets is Sbxtus Julius Frontinus (cir. a.d. 97) in his 
two books De Aqiiaeduciihus Urbis Romae. I have used 
chiefly Dederich's edition in the Bibliotheca Teabneriana 
(Leipzig, J 855). 

Guides : — 

The admirable monograph of the Commendatore R. 
Lanciani^ *Le Acque e gli Acquedotti di Roma Antica' 
(Rome, 1880), has superseded the treatise of Fabretti, 
valuable as that was in its day, and will probably now 
be always the standard work of reference on this subject. 
An English student may also express his gratitude for 
the assistance afforded by /. H. Parier^s volume, *The 
Aqueducts' (Oxford, 1876). The existing information on 
the subject is well summarised by H, Jordan, * Topogra- 
phic der Stadt Rom,' i. 452-480. 

A travel- The least obscrvant visitor to Rome is awed 

lor^B viow 

of the and impressed by the ruins of the Aqueducts. As 

ofRome. ho stands on the top of the Colosseum, or as he 

is carried swiftly past them on the railway to 

Naples, he sees their long arcades stretching away 

in endless perspective across the monotonous 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Early Water-supply of Rome. 151 

Campagna, and, ignorant perhaps of the valuable book v. 
service which some of them yet render to the ^°'^' 
water-supply of Rome, he is only touched and 
saddened by the sight of so much wasted labour, 
by the ever-recurring thought of the nothingness 
of man. But when he comes to enquire a little 
more closely into the history of these wonderfiil 
structures, he finds, not only that the ignorance 
of scientific principles to which it was once the 
fashion to attribute their origin, did not exist; 
not only that the Popes of later days have suc- 
ceeded in restoring a few of them so as to make 
them practically useful in quenching the thirst 
of the modem Roman : but also that the aque- 
ducts have a curious and interesting history of 
their own which admirably illustrates the life and 
progress of the great Republic. As her fortunes 
mounted, so the arches rose, higher and higher. 
As her dominion extended, so those mighty fila- 
ments stretched further and further up into the 
hills. Like a hand upon the clock-face of Empire 
was the ever-rising level of the water-supply of 

For four hundred and forty-two years, that is Water- 

. . supply of 

during the whole period of the Kings and for the Rome be- 
first two centuries of the Republic, the Romans aqueductg 
were satisfied with such water as they could B.c.^754 ' 
obtain from the tawny Tiber ; from the wells, ^"' 
of which there was a considerable number ; from 
the upspringing fountains, many of which were 
the objects of a simple religious worship ; and 

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152 The Cutting of the Aqtieducts. 

BOOKV. from the cisterns in which they collected the not 

Ch 6 

1_1_ very abundant rain-fall. 

appia, At length, in the year 312 B. c, when the 

Second Samnite War was verging towards its 

successful conclusion, the great Censor Appius 

Claudius bestowed upon Rome her first great 

road and her first aqueduct, both known through 

all after ages by his name^. He went for his 

water-supply seven miles along the road to 

Palestrina, to a spot now called La Bustica, about 

half way between Eome and the hills, and hence, 

by a circuitous underground channel more than 

eleven miles long, he brought the water to the 

city. Not till it got to the Porta Capena, one 

of the old gates of the city on its southern 

side, did it emerge into the light of day, and 

then it was carried along arches only for the 

spaxje of sixty paces. Thus, according to our 

modem use of the term, it might be considered as 

rather a conduit than an aqueduct. It has been 

remarked upon as an interesting fact that Appius 

Claudius, the first Eoman author in verse and 

prose, the first considerable student of Greek 

literature, was also the first statesman to take 

* Though Appius Claudius received the whole honour of the 
work, Frontinus hints that he was not solely entitled to it. 
His colleague in the Censorship, C. Plautius, obtained the 
surname Venox by reason of his persistent search after veins of 
water. Finding that Appius was not taking his fiedr share of 
this work he resigned office, after he had held it eighteen 
months. Appius availed himself of the discoveries of Venox, 
and by fair means or foul clung to office till the aqueduct was 

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Wefjr:- jLfut^uctji mfvmn tn hrvkeii Jurat ttfn 
to Jtttne. artMU ottt^meiuinL 


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Digitized by 


Appia and Anio Vetus. 163 

thought for the water-supply of Rome. And book v. 

further, that he whose censorship was marked "' 

by a singular coalition between the haughtiest 
of the aristocracy and the lowest of the commons, 
and who was suspected of aiming at the tyranny 
by the aid of the latter class, carried the water 
to that which was not only physically but socially 
one of the lowest quarters of Rome, the humble 
dwellings between the Aventine and the Caelian 
hills ^ 

Forty years later, a much bolder enterprise in anio 
hydraulics was successfully attempted, when the b.c. 273. 
stream afterwards known as the Anio Vetus was 
brought into the city by a course of 43 miles, 
at a level of 147 feet above the sea, or nearly 
100 feet higher than the Aqua Appia ^. The last 
public act of the blind old Appius Claudius (the 
builder of the first aqueduct) had been to adjure 
the Roman Senate to listen to no proposals of b.c. 280. 
peace from King Pyrrhus so long as a single 
Epirote soldier remained on the soil of Italy. 
Eight years later, when the war with Pyrrhus b.c 272 

* 'When we remember,' says Dr. Arnold (Hist, of Rome, 
ii. 289), 'that this part of Rome was particularly inhabited 
by the poorest citizens, we may suspect that Appius wished 
to repay the support which he had already received from them, 
or to purchase its continuance for the time to come : but we 
shall feel unmixed pleasure in observing that the first Roman 
aqueduct was constructed for the benefit of the poor and of 
those who most needed it/ 

* Lanciani (p. 49) gives to the Anio Vetus at its entry into 
Rome 45*40 metres, < di altezza assoluta.' To the Appia (p. 40) 
15 metres. It is true that this is at the motUh of Uie Appia.' 

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154 The Cutting of the Aqueducts. 

BOOK V. had been triumphantly concluded, Manius Curius, 
"' the hero of that war, signalised his censorship 

by beginning to build the second aqueduct, the 
spoils won in battle from the King of Epirus 
furnishing the pay of the workmen engaged in 
the operation. He died before the work was 
finished, and the glory of completing it belonged 
to Fulvius Flaccus, created with him 'duumvir 
for bringing the water to EomeV 

This time the hydraulic engineers went further 
afield for the source of their supply. They looked 
across the Campagna to the dim hills of Tivoli — 

*To the green steeps whence Anio leaps 
In sheets of snow-white foam,' — 

and daringly determined to bring the river Anio 
himself, or at least a considerable portion of his 
waters, to Eome. At a point about ten miles 
above Tivoli, near the mountain of S. Cosimato, 
the river was tapped. The water which was 
drawn from it was carried through tunnels in 
the rock, and by a generally subterranean course, 
till, after a journey as before stated of forty-three 
miles, it entered Rome just at the level of the 
ground, but at a point (the Porta Maggiore) where 
that level was considerably higher than the place 
where the Appian water crept into the city. 
mabcia, Four generations passed before any further 
addition was made to the water-supply of Rome. 
Then, after the lapse of 128 years, the Marcian 

* * Duumvir aquae perducendae.' 

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B. C. 144. 

Marcia. 155 

water, best of all the potable waters of Eome, book v. 
was introduced into the city by the first aque- ^'^' 
duct, in the common acceptation of the term, 
the first channel carried visibly above ground 
on arches over long reaches of country. Its 
source was at thirty-eight miles* from Eome in 
the upper valley of the Anio, between Tivoli 
and Subiaco. Here lay a tranquil pool of water 
emerging from a natural grotto and of a deep 
green colour, whence came the liquid treasure of 
the Marcia. The changes in the conformation of 
the valley make it difficult to identify the spot 
with certainty, but it is thought that the furthest 
east of three springs known as the Acque Serene 
is probably the famous Marcia. From a spot 
close to this, the Marcia-Pia aqueduct, constructed 
by a company in our own days, and named after 
Pope Pius the Ninth, now brings water to the 
city. The original Marcian aqueduct was built 
B. c. 144, two years after the close of the Third 
Punic War, and the work was entrusted by 
the Senate, not this time to a Censor, but to 
the Praetor XJrbanus, the highest judicial officer 
in Eome, who bore the name of Q. Marcius 
Eex. The aqueduct had a course of sixty-one 
miles, for seven of which it was carried upon 
arches, and it entered the city at 176 feet above 
the sea-level. The cost of its construction was 
180 million sesterces S or nearly £1,600,000 ster- 

* * Legimns apud Fenestellam, in haec opera Marcio decretum 
sestertium milies octingenties' (Frontinus de Aquaeductibus, 7). 

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156 The Cutting of the Aqueducts. 

BOOKv. ling, and it carried water into the lofty Capitol 
^' itself, not without some opposition on the part 
of the Augurs, who, after an inspection of the 
Sibylline books, averred that only the water of 
the Anio, not that of any spring adjacent to it, 
might be brought into the temple of Jupiter. 

tepula, Only nineteen years had elapsed, but years of 
continued conquest, especially in the Spanish 
peninsula, when in B.C. 125 another aqueduct, 
smaller, but at a slightly higher level, was added 
to the water-bringers of Rome. This was the 
Aqua T&pula^ thirteen miles in length, of which 
only six were subterraneous, and entering Rome 
at a height of 184 feet above the sea-level. 
Servilius Caepio and Longinus Ravilla were the 
Censors to whom the execution of this work was 
entrusted. They resorted to a new source of 
supply, not utilising this time either springs 
or streams in the Anio valley, but journeying to 
the foot of the conical Alban Mount (Monte Cavo), 
which rises to the south-east of Rome, and there 
wooing the waters of the tepid ^ springs which 
bubbled up jiear the site of the modem village 
of Grotta Ferrata. 

Agrippa Another century passed, the century which saw 

aqueduct tho risc of Marius, Sulla, and the mighty Julius. 

Absorbed in foreign war and the factions of the 

* This spring still shows a temperatare of 61** (Fahrenheit) 
when the atmosphere is only 46*^. The neighhouring Julia is 
only 50° at the same time. S. Lanciani appears to accept the 
suggestion that the name Tepula is derived from this cir- 

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Tepula and Julia. 157 

Forum, Eome had no leisure for great works of book v. 
industry, and did not even preserve in good con- "' 
dition those which she ah^ady possessed. At 
length in the year B.C. 33, three years before the 
battle of Actium, M. Vipsanius Agrippa, the ablest 
of the ministers of Augustus, bestirred himself on 
behalf of the water-supply of the vastly expanded 
city. He restored the Appia, the Anio Vetus, 
and the Marcia, which had fallen into ruins, but he 
was not satisfied with mere reconstruction. The 
same hand which gave the Pantheon and its 
adjoining baths to the citizens of Rome gave 
them also two more aqueducts, the Julia (b. c. 33) 
and the Aqua Virgo (b. c. 19). 

The Julia bore the name of its builder, who, Jdlia, 
himself of the plebeian Vipsanian gens, had been 
adopted, by reason of his marriage with the 
daughter of Augustus, into the high aristocratic 
family of the Ca^ars ^ Its source was near that 
of the Tepula, but a little further from Rome. 
Apparently, in order that it might impart some 
of its fresh coolness to that tepid stream, its 
waters were first blended with it and then again 
divided into another channel, which flowed into 
Eome at an elevation four feet above the Tepula 
(i88 feet above the sea-level). These two aque- 
ducts, the Tepula and the Julia, are carried through 

^ By a somewhat singalar fate, the name of Agrippa thus 
adopted into the Julian family is probably known most widely 
through his clients and complimentary namesakes, the two 
Agiippa-Herods of the Acts of the Apostles. 

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158 The Cutting of the Aqueducts. 

BOOKV. the greater part of their course upon the same 

Ch. 6. 

arcade with the Marcia. 

'Like friends once parted, 
Grown single-hearted, 
They plied their watery tasks.' 

And, as a rule, wherever in the neighbourhood 
of Rome the spacws (so the mason-wrought channel 
is termed) of the Marcia is descried, one sees also 
first the Tepula and then the Julia rising above it. 
Aqua This work, however, did not end Agrippa s labours 

B.C. 19. for the sanitary well-being of Rome. The Julia, 
though twice as large as the Tepula, was still one 
of the smaller contributors of water to the city. 
Fourteen years after its introduction Agrippa 
brought the Aqua Virgo into Rome. This splendid 
stream, three times as large as the Julia, was ex- 
ceeded in size only by the Anio Vetus and the 
Marcia, among the then existing Aqueducts. To 
obtain it he went eight miles eastward of Rome, 
almost to the same spot where the great Censor 
had gathered the Aqua Appia. The Aqua Virgo 
derived its name from the story that when the 
soldiers of Agrippa were peering about to discover 
some new spring, a little maid pointed out to 
them a streamlet, which they followed up with 
the spade, thus soon finding themselves in pre- 
sence of an immense volume of water. This 
story was commemorated by a picture in a little 
chapel built over the fountain. 

The Virgo was not, like all the more recent 
aqueducts, brought into Rome at a high level- 

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Aqua Virgo and Alsietina. 159 

In fact it was only fifteen feet higher than the book v. 
Appia, as might have been expected from the 1.1. 

nearness of origin of the two streams. Its course 
is perfectly well known, as it is still bringing 
water to Rome, and is in truth that one of all 
the aqueducts which shows the most continuous 
record of useful service from ancient to modern 
times. It comes by a pretty straight course, 
chiefly underground, till within about two miles 
of Rome ; then it circles round the eastern wall 
of the city, winds through the Borghese gardens, 
creeps by a deep cutting through the Pincian 
hill, and enters Rome under what is now the 
Villa Medici. In old days it was carried on to 
the Campus Martins and fiUed the baths of its 
founder Agrippa. It still supplies many of the 
chief fountains of the city, especially the most 
famous of all, the Fountain of Trevi. When the 
stranger steps down in front of the blowing Tri- 
tons and takes his cup of water from the ample 
marble basin, drinking to his return to the Eternal 
City, he is in truth drinking to the memory of 
the wise Agrippa and of the little maid who 
pointed out the fountain to his legionaries. 

The contribution made by Augustus himself alsibtina. 
to the water-supply of Rome was a less worthy 
one than those of his son-in-law, * What possible 
reason,' says Frontinus, * could have induced Au- 
gustus, that most far-sighted prince, to bring the 
water of the Alsietine Lake, which is also called 
Aqua Augusta, to Rome I cannot tell. It has 

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160 The Cutting of the Aqueducts. 

BOOK V. nothing to recommend it. It is hardly even 
— H. wholesome, and it does not supply any consider- 
able part of the population [because of the low 
level at which it enters the city]. I can only 
suppose that when he was constructing his Nau- 
machia* he did not like to use the better class 
of water to fill his lake, and therefore brought 
this stream, granting all of it that he did not 
want himself to private persons for watering their 
gardens and similar purposes. However, as often 
as the bridges are under repair and there is a 
consequent interruption of the regular supply, 
this water is used for drinking purposes by the 
inhabitants of the Trans-Tiberine region.' So fer 
Frontinus. The work was altogether of an in- 
glorious kind. The quantity supplied was small, 
less even than that in the little Aqua Tepula. The 
quality, as has been stated, was poor, the source of 
supply being the turbid Lago di Martignano among 
the Etrurian hills on the north-west of Rome. 
And though it started at a pretty high level 
(680 feet above the sea), after a course of a little 
more than twenty-two miles it entered Rome 
on a lower plane than all the other aqueducts, 
lower even than the modest Appia, only about 
twenty-one feet above the level of the sea. 
caii^ia The frenzied great-grandson of Augustus, the 
aqueduct tcnible Caligula, side by side with all his mad 


* A lake in the Trans-Tiberine region for the exhibition of 
sea-fights and other shows for which a large expanse of water 
was required. 

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Digitized by 


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Woodburyiy^ — Ftvm a Photograph 
in y. H. Parker's Series.] 

\Betxoeen pages i6^>, i6t. 

Specus of the Anio Novus and Aqua Claudia as seen 


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Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Claudia and Anio Novus. lei 

prodigality did accomplish great works for the book v. 
water-supply of Rome. He began, and his uncle 

Claudius finished, the two great aqueducts which ^^^^^^^^ 
closed the ascendinff series of Rome's artificial Novus, 
rivers, the Claudia and the Anio Novus. Thus*o5a- 
by a singular coincidence the work which had 
been begun by a Claudius, the blind Censor of 
the fifth century of Rome, was crowned by another 
Claudius, not indeed a direct descendant, but a 
far distant scion, of the same haughty family, 
when the city waa just entering upon her ninth 

The two works, the Claudia and the Anio Novus, 
seem to have been proceeded with contempora- 
neously, and they travelled across the Campagna 
on the same stately series of arches, highest of all 
the arcades with whose i-uins the traveller is 
familiar. They were, however, works of very 
different degrees of merit. The Claudia drew its 
waters from two fountains, the Caerulus and the 
Curtius, among the hUls overhanging the Upper 
Anio, not many hundred yards away from the 
source of the Marcia^. And the water which it 
brought to the citizens of Rome was always con- 
sidered second only in excellence to the Marcia 

The construction of the Anio Novus, on the other 
hand, was another of those unwise attempts of whieh 

^ Lanciani, who, as we have seeD, identifies the source of the 
Marcia with the third of the Acque Serene, considers that the 
first and second * Serene ' were the sources of the Claudia. 

VOL. rv. M 

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162 The Cutting of the Aqtieducts. 

BOOK V. one would have thought the hydraulic engineers of 
^"•^' the city had had enough, to make the river Anio, 
that turbid and turbulent stream, minister meekly 
to the thirst of Rome. The water was taken out 
of the river itself from a higher point than the 
Anio Vetus, indeed four miles higher than the 
fountains of the Claudia, but that did not remedy 
the evil. The bad qualities of the Aqua Alsietina 
did little harm, beyond some occasional incon- 
venience to the inhabitants of the Trastevere, 
because it lay below all the other aqueducts. But 
of the thick and muddy Anio Novus, flowing 
above the other streams and mixing ite contri- 
butions with theirs, like some tedious and loud- 
voiced talker, whenever they were least desired, 
of this provoking aqueduct a wearied Imperial 
water-director could only say, *It ruins all the 
others^/ The length of its journey to the city 
was more than fifty-eight miles, that of the 
Claudia more than forty-six, and the arcade upon 
which they together crossed the plain was six 
miles and four hundred and ninety-one paces in 
length. The Anio Novus entered the city two 
hundred and fourteen feet above the level of the 
sea, the Claudia nine feet lower. 

Thus were completed the nine great aqueducts 
of Rome ; the aqueducts whose resources and 
machinery are copiously explained to us by the 
curator, Frontinus. Without troubling the reader 
with the names of some doubtful or obsciure addi- 
' * Alias omnes perdit ' (Frontinus, xiii). 

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Trajana and Alexandrina. 163 

tions to the list, it must nevertheless be mentioned book v. 
that the Emperor Trajan, in the year 109-110, ^^'^' 
brought the water of the Sabatine Lake (Lago di tb^J^na, 
Bracciano) to Rome. This lake was immediately "o- 
axljoining to the (much smaller) Lacus Alsietinus 
from which Augustus had drawn his supply. 
Trajan, however, did not fritter away the advan- 
tage of his high fountain-head as Augustus had 
done, but brought his aqueduct right over the hill 
of the Janiculum. Here in the days of Procopius 
its stream might be seen (till Witigis intercepted 
it) turning the wheels of a hundred mills. Here 
now its restored waters may be seen gushing in 
magnificent abundance through the three arches 
of Fontana on the high hill of S. Pietro in 

In the following century the excellent young alkan- 
Emperor Alexander Severus obtained a fresh d^^.D. 
supply from the neighbourhood of the old city of ^^ ' 
Gabii^, about four miles south-east of the source 
of the Aqua Virgo. Little is known of the size 
or the course of the Aqua Alexandrina, whose 
chief interest for us is derived from the fact that 
it is practically the same aqueduct which was 
restored by the imperious old Pope, Sixtus V, 
and which is now called, after the name which Aqu* 
he bore * in religion,' Aqua Felice. A more com- 
plete contrast is hardly presented to us by history 
than between the first founder and the restorer 
of this aqueduct, between the young, fresh, warm- 
^ * Under La Colonna, the ancient Labicum ' (Parker). 

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The Cutting of the Aqueducts. 


s E 

O <0 « lO 'O ^ 





i? iJ I ^ S ? 

1 I I I I ^ 


The height at which the aquedacts entered Rome ia giren in metres ( ~ 39 inches) : 
the distance traversed by them from their source in Roman miles ( ^s 1618 yards). It will 
be seen that no attempt is made to represent the gradient of the aqueducts. The proportion 
of the course above ground is indicated by a thick line. (This is conjectural in the case of 
the Alsietina.) 

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Maintenance of the Aqueducts. 165 

hearted Emperor, only too gentle a ruler and book v. 
too dutiful a son for the fierce times in which he . 

lived, and the proud and lonely old Pope, who 
bent low as if in decrepitude till he had picked 
up the Papal Tiara, and then stood erect, just and 
inflexible, a terror to the world and to Rome. 

With Alexander Severus the history of the 
aqueducts closes. In the terrible convulsions 
which marked the middle of the third century 
there was no time or money to spare for the em- 
bellishment of the city. When peace was restored 
Diocletian and his attendant group of Emperors 
were to be found at Milan, at Nicomedeia, anywhere 
rather than at Bome. Constantine was too much 
engrossed with his new capital and his new creed 
to have leisure for the improvement of the still 
Pagan city by the Tiber. And two generations 
after the death of Constantine the barbarians were 
on the sacred soil of Italy, and it was no longer a 
question of constructing great works, but of feebly 
and fearfully defending them. 

The amount of careful thought and contrivance Mainten- 
which was involved in the construction and main- aqueducts. 
tenance of these mighty works can be but im- 
perfectly estimated by us. Ventilating-shafts, or 
'respirators' as they are sometimes called, were 
introduced at proper intervals into the subterra- 
neous aqueducts in order to let out the imprisoned 
air. At every half mile or so the channel formed 
an angle, to break the force of the water, and a 
reservoir was generally placed at every such 

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166 The Cutting of the Aqueducts. 

BOOKV. comer \ The land for fifteen feet on each side 
"' of the water-course was purchased from the 
neighbouring owners and devoted to the use of 
the aqueduct. Injury from other buildings and 
from the roots of trees was thus avoided, and the 
crops raised on these narrow strips of land con- 
tributed to the sustenance of the little army of 
slaves employed in the maintenance of the water- 
way. Of these at the end of the first century 
there were 700, constituting two familiae. One 
familia, consisting of 240 men, had been formed 
by that indefatigable water-reformer, the Sir Hugh 
Myddelton of Rome, Vipsanius Agrippa, by him 
bequeathed to Augustus, and by Augustus to the 
State. The other and larger body (460 men) had 
been formed by Claudius when he was engaged 
in the construction of the two highest aqueducts, 
and by him were likewise presented to the State. 
The^ command of this little band of men was 
vested in the Curator Aquarum, a high oflBcer \ 
who in the imperial age was generally designated 
for the work of superintending the water-supply. 
In earlier times this work had not been assigned to 
any special oflBcer, but had formed part of the func- 
tions of an Aedile or a Censor. 

Reaorvoirt. Outsidc the walls there were a certain number 
of reservoirs (piscinae), in which some of the aque- 

* Parker, Aqueducts, p. 71. 

* He had a right to the attendance of two lictors, besides an 
unnamed number of ' apparitors,' when he walked through the 
streets of Rome. 

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Castella Aquae. 167 

ducts had the opportunity of clearing their waters book v. 
by depositing the mud or sand swept into them by °'^' 

a sudden storm. 

Inside the city there were 247 * castles of water/ 
heads or reservoirs constructed of masonry, in which 
the water was stored, and out of which the supply- 
pipes for the various regions of Eome were taken. 
For, in theory at least, no pipe might tap the chan- 
nels of communication, but all must draw from 
some castellum aquae* This provision, however, was 
often evaded by the dishonesty of the servile water- 
men, who made a profit out of selling the water of 
the state to private individuals. A vast under- Pipee. 
ground labyrinth of leaden pipes, in Old Rome as 
in a modem city, conveyed the water to the cis- 
terns of the different houses. The lead for this 
purpose was probably brought to a large extent 
from our own island, since we find traces of the 
Romans at work in the lead-mines of the Men- 
dip Hills within six years of their conquest of 
Britain ^ As Claudius was the then reigning 
Emperor, the cargoes of lead so shipped from 
Britain to Rome would be usefully employed in 
distributing the new water-supply brought to the 
higher levels by the Anio Novus and Aqua Clau- 
dia. One thousand kilogrammes of these leaden 
pipes were sent, unchronicled, to the melting-pot 
five years ago by one proprietor alone ^. But by 

^ See Hiibner's article 'Eine Romische Aonexion' in the 
Deutsche Rundschau, May 8, 1878. 

' Prince Alessandro Torlonia (see Lanciani, p. 202). 

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168 The Cutting of the Aqueducts. 

BOOK V. carefully watching his opportunities, the eminent 
"' archseologist Lanciani has succeeded in rescuing 
six hundred inscribed pipes from the havoc neces- 
sarily caused by all building operations in the 
soil intersected by them ; and these six hundred 
inscriptions, classed and analysed by him, throw 
a valuable light on the aquarian laws and ci:is- 
toms of Imperial Borne. 
Appoint- It has been said that fraud was extensively 
Frontkius practised by the slaves in the employment of the 
Aq^a^^^, Curator Aquarum. It may have been some sus- 
^^' picion of these fraudulent practices which caused 

the Emperor Nerva to nominate to that high 
place Sextus Julius Frontinus. This man, ener- 
getic, fearless, thorough, and equally ready to 
grapple with the difficulties of peaceful and of 
warlike administration, reminds us of the best 
HiBprevi- type of our own Anglo-Indian governors. For 
* three years (a.d. 75-78) he successfully admini- 
stered the affairs of the province of Britain, as 
the worth V successor of Cerealis, as the not 
unworthy predecessor of Agricola. The chief 
exploit that marked his tenure of office was the 
subjugation of the Silures, the warlike and power- 
ful tribe who held the hills of Brecknock and 
Glamorgan. Twenty years later, and when he 
was probably past middle life, Nerva, as has 
been said, delegated to him the difficult task of 
investigating and reforming the abuses connected 
with the water-supply of the capital. The 
treatise which he composed during his curatorship 

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Abuses connected with the Water-supply. i69 

is our chief authority on the subject of the Roman book v. 
aqueducts. Containing many careful scientific cal- ^^'^' 
culations and many useful hints as to the best 
means of upholding those mighty structures, it is 
an admirable specimen of the strong, clear common- 
sense and faithful attention to minute detaU which 
were the characteristics of the best specimens of 
Boman oflScials. 

The attention of Frontinus was at once arrested Fpontmua 
by the fact that in the commentarii or registers with the 
of the water-office there was actually a larger connected 
quantity of water accounted for than the whole ^ter- ^ 
amount which, according to the 'isame books/"^^^* 
appeared to be received from the various aque- 
ducts. This slip on the part of the fraudulent 
aquarii caused the new Curator to take careful 
measurements of the water at the source of each 
aqueduct : and these measurements led him to 
the astounding result that the quantity of water 
entering the aqueducts was greater than the 
quantity alleged to be distributed ^ through them 
by nearly one half ^ Some part of this diflTerence 
might be due to unavoidable leakage along the 
line of the aqueducts: but far the larger part 
of it was due to the depredations of private 
persons, assisted by the corrupt connivance of the 
aquarii. When a private person had received a 

* Erogaiio is the technical term for the distribution of the 

' Amount measured at the sources, 24,805 quinariae: amount 
in the commentarii, 12,755: amount of admitted 'erogation,' 
14,343. See Table A at the end of this chapter. 

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170 The Cutting of the Aqueducts. 

BOOK V. grant of water from the State, the proper course 
°' was for him to deposit a model of the pipe which 
had been conceded to him in the office of the 
Curator, whose servants were then directed to 
make an orifice of the same dimensions in the 
side of the reservoir, and permit the consumer 
to attach to it a pipe of the same size. Some- 
times however, for a bribe, the aquarium would 
make a hole of larger diameter than the conces- 
sion. Sometimes, while keeping the hole of the 
right size, he would attach a larger pipe which 
would soon be filled by the pressure of the water 
oozing through the wall of the reservoir. Some- 
times a pipe for which there was absolutely no 
. authority at all would be introduced into the 
reservoir, or yet worse into the aqueduct before 
it reached the reservoir. Sometimes the grant of 
water, which was by its express terms limited to 
the individual for life, would by corrupt conniv- 
ance, without any fresh grant, be continued to 
his heirs. At every point the precious liquid 
treasure of the State was being wasted, that the 
pockets of the familia who served the aqueduct 
might be filled. It was probably some rumour 
of this infidelity of the aquarii to their trust, 
as well as a knowledge of the lavish grants of 
some of the Emperors, which caused Pliny to say, 
a generation before the reforms of Frontinus, 
*The Aqua Virgo excels all other waters to the 
touch, and the Aqua Marcia to the taste ; but 
the pleasure of both has now for long been lost 

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Reforms of Frontinus. 171 

to the city, through the ambition and avarice of book v. 
the men who pervert the fountains of the public ^' 
health for the supply of their own villas and 
suburban estates ^' 

These then were the abuses which the former 
governor of Britain and conqueror of the Silures 
was placed in oflBce to reform; and there can 
be little doubt that, at any rate for a time, he did 
reform them and restore to the people of Rome 
the full water-supply to which they were entitled. 
What was that water-supply, stated in terms with 
which we are familiar ? What was the equi- 
valent of the 24,805 quinariae which Frontinus 
insisted on debiting to the account of the aquarii 
at Rome ? In attempting to answer this question 
we are at once confronted by the difficulty, that 
though Frontinus has given us very exact par- 
ticulars as to the dimensions of the pipes em- 
ployed, he has not put beyond the possibility of 
a doubt the rate at which the water flowed 
through them, and which may have been very 
diflerent for different aqueducts. 

M. Rondelet, a French scholar and engineer of Estimatee 
the early part of this century 2, after enquiring water- 
very carefully into the subject, came to the con- ^ml ^ 
elusion that the value of the quinaria was equi- 
valent to a service of eixty cubic metres per day. 
Lanciani, going minutely over the same ground, 

^ Historia Natoralis, lib. xxxi. 

* His translation of Frontinus, with notes and plates, was 
published at Paris in the year 1820. 

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172 • The Cutting of the Agtieducts. 

BOOKV. slightly alters this figure, which he turns into 
^^•^' 63*18 cubic metres, or 13,906 gallons a day. If 
we may rely on this computation, the whole 
amount of water poured into Rome at the end 
of the first century by the aqueducts, before 
Trajan and Alexander Severus had augmented 
the aquarian treasures of the city by the water- 
courses which bore their names, was not less than 
344,938,330 gallons per day. Adopting the con- 
jecture, in which there seems some probability ^ 
that the population of Rome in its most prosper- 
ous estate reached to about a million and a hal^ 
this gives a supply of 230 gallons daily for each 

Compari- In OUT own couutry at the present day the 

son with j« /» J. • 1 j_ 

modem cousumptiou of watcr m our large towns varies 
between twenty and thirty gallons per head daily, 
and in one or two towns does not rise above ten 
gallons I What the supply may have been in 
the London of the Plantagenets and Tudors, before 
the great water-reform of Sir Hugh Myddelton, 
we have perhaps no means of estimating ; but 
it is stated, apparently on good authority, that 
* in 1 550 the inhabitants of Paris received a supply 

* See vol. i. p. 395. 

* See Table in Humber's Water Supply of Cities and 
Towns (London, 1876), p. 86. The average for many Euro- 
pean towns seems to be about the same as ours : for Berlin and 
Lyons 20 gallons daily, Paris 28 (London 29), Leghorn 30, 
Hamburg 33. Some of the American towns show much larger 
averages: Toronto 77 gallons, Buffalo 87, New York 100, 
Chicago 119, and Washington the extraordinarily high average 
of 155 gallons daily for each inhabitant. 

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Ratio of Supply to Population of Rome. 173 

of only one quart per day, and nine-tenths of the book v. 
people were compelled to obtain their supply ^^'^' 
direct from the Seine \' 

The estimate of the contents of the aqueducts Doubt as 
given above is that which has hitherto ob-tuai value 
tained most acceptance. It is right, however, of mea«ure 
to mention that a recent enquirer * throws some ^thJ 
doubt on Eondelet's calculations. From some^ato^ 
observations made by him on the diameter and*'^*^^"* 
the gradient of the channel of the Aqua Marcia 
he reduces the average velocity of the streams, 
and consequently the volume of water delivered 
by them, by more than one half. The value of 
the quinaria on this computation descends to 
about 6000 gallons a day, the total supply of 
the nine aqueducts in the time of Frontinus to 
i48,ooo,cx)0 gallons, and the allowance per head 
per day to one hundred gallons. Even so, however, 
the Eoman citizen had more than three times 
the amount provided for the inhabitants of our 
English cities by the most liberal of our own 

A reference to the tables at the end of this what 

11 n n ^ share had 

chapter may, however, seem to call for a yet further private 
modification of our statement as to the aquarian the'^ater- 
privileges of the Boman. It will there be seen*^^^^ 
that of the 14,018 quinariae distributed, only 6182 
went to private persons, while 4443 were be- 

* Humber, p. 3. 

* Author of * Brevi notizie buU' acqua pia,' quoted by Lan- 
ciani (who seems more than half convinced by him), p. 361. 

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174 The Cutting of the Aqueducts, 

BOOK V. stowed on public works, and no fewer than 3393 were 
"' • erogated' in the name of CaBsar, the ubiquitous 
all-grasping Emperor. The needful qualification 
is apparent rather than real. Doubtless there 
would be profuse expenditure, even lavish waste 
of water, in the vast halls of the Palatine, espe- 
cially when a Vitellius or a Heliogabalus dwelt 
in them, squandering the wealth of the world 
upon his banquets. But it is pointed out by 
Lanciani^ that the splendid edifices raised by the 
Emperors for the delight of their subjects, the 
Flavian Amphitheatre, the Antonine Baths, the 
Forum of Trajan, and all that class of institutions 
with which the city was embellished at the 
expense of the Fiscus^ would receive their con- 
stant supplies of water *in the name of Caesar/ 
Perhaps therefore it might be asserted that there 
was no part of the distribution by which the poor 
citizen benefited more largely than these 3393 
quinariae of which the Emperor was apparently 
the receiver. 

How was This last consideration brines us to the question 

this vast ^ ^ ^ ^ 

volume of what could havo been done with all this wealth 
pended? of watcr 80 lavishly poured into the Eternal City. 
The sparkling fountains with which every open 
space was adorned and refreshed, the great arti- 
ficial lakes, on which at the occasion of public 
festivals mimic navies fought and in which marine 
monsters sported, are in part an answer to our 
question. But the Thermae, those magnificent 

' P. 369. 

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The great Raman Baths. 175 

ranges of halls in which the poorest citizen of book v. 
Eome could enjoy, free of expense, all and more °' 

than all the luxuries that we associate withS?^?^^^^ 

the baths. 

our mis-named Turkish Bath, the Thermaey those 
splendid temples of health, cleanliness, and civi- 
lisation, must undoubtedly take the responsibility 
of the largest share in the water-consumption of 
Kome. We glanced a little while ago^ at the 
mighty Baths of Caracalla, able to accommodate 
i6cx> bathers at once. Twice that number, we 
are told*, could enjoy the Baths of Diocletian, those 
vast baths in whose central hall a large church^ 
is now erected, large, but occupying a compara- 
tively small part of the ancient building. It is 
true that this was the most extensive of all the 
Koman Thermae] but the Baths of Constantine 
on the ftuirinal, of Agrippa by the Pantheon, 
of Titus and Trajan above the ruins of the Golden 
House of Nero, were also superb buildings, fit to 
be the chosen resort of the sovereign people of 
the world; and all (with the possible exception 
of the Baths of Titus) were still in use, still 
receiving the crystal treasures of the aqueducts, 
when Belisarius recovered Rome for the Roman 

Now, in these first weeks of March 537, alloothic 


this splendid heritage of civilisation perished of the 
as in a moment. *The Goths having thus ar- 
ranged their army destroyed all the aqueducts, 

* p. no. * OlympiodoruB, p. 469 (ed. Bonn). 

* S. Maria degli Angeli. 

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176 The Cutting of the Aqueducts. 

BOOKV. so that no water might enter from them into the 
' city\' The historian's statement is very clear 
and positive : otherwise we might be disposed to 
doubt whether the barbarians burrowed beneath 
the ground to discover and destroy the Aqua 
Appia, which is subterraneous till after it has 
entered the circuit of the walls. One would like 
to be informed also how they succeeded in ar- 
resting these copious streams of water without 
turning the Campagna itself into a morass. The 
waters which came from the Anio vaUey may 
perhaps have been diverted back again into that 
stream, but some of the others which had no 
river-bed near them must surely have been diffi- 
cult to deal with. Possibly the sickness which 
at a later period assailed the Gothic host may 
have sprung in part from the unwholesome ac- 
cumulation of these stagnant waters. 

But our chief interest in the operation, an 

^ Procopius, De Bell. Gotth. i. 19. He goes on to state that 
the aqueducts were fourteen in number, built of baked bricks 
by Hhe men of old,' and of such dimensions that a man on 
horseback could ride through them. This last statement is an 
exaggeration. The specus of the Anio Novus, the highest of all 
the aqueducts, is only 2*70 metres, or 8 feet 9 inches high, and 
most of them are about 4 or 5 feet high. The number of 
fourteen is made up, according to Lanciani (p. 186), by the 
nine of Frontinus, the Trajana, the Alexandrina, and three 
supplemental channels, the Augusta, the Specus Octavianus, 
and the Specus Antonianus, which though not independent 
aqueducts might seem so to Procopius, as they touched the 
wall at different points from the main channels. Jordan 
(i. 479) thinks that Procopius mentioned the number fourteen 
from some remembrance of the fourteen regions of the city. 

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Change in the habits of the Romans. \ii 

interest of regret, arises from the change which book v. 

it must have wrought in the habits of the Roman L 

people. Some faint and feeble attempts to restore ^^^ 
the aqueducts were possibly made when the war ^^^ite" 
was ended: in fact one such, accomplished by**^*^®^^f 
Belisarius for the Aqua Trajana, is recorded in «om«- 
an inscription^. But as a whole, we may con- 
fidently state that the imperial system of aqueducts 
was never restored. Three in the course of ages 
were recovered for the City by the public spirit of 
her pontiffs 2, and one (the Marcia) has been added 
to her resources in our own days by the enterprise 
of a joint-stock company ; but the Rome of the 
Middle Ages was practically, like the Rome of 
the Kings, dependent for her water on a few wells 
and cisterns and on the mud-burdened Tiber. 
The Bath with all its sinful luxuriousness, which 
brought it under the ban of philosophers and 
churchmen, but also with all its favouring in- 
fluences on health, on refinement, even on clear 
and logical thought, the Bath which the eleven 
aqueducts of Rome had once replenished for a 
whole people, now became a forgotten dream of 
the past. As we look onward from the sixth 
century the Romans of the centuries before us 

* On an arch of the Trajana at Vicarello— 


< Maliasimo copiato ' says Lanciani (p. i66), to whom I owe this 

• The Aqua Virgo (perhaps only transiently lost), Aqua 
Paola (Trajana), and Aqua Felice (Alexandrina). 


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178 The Cutting of the Aqueducts. 

BOOK V. will be in some respects a better people than their 
— l-L ancestors, more devout, less arrogant, perhaps less 
licentious, but they will not be so well-washed 
a people. And the sight of Rome, holy but dirty, 
will exert a very different and far less civilising 
influence on the nations beyond the Alps yvho 
come to worship at her shrines than would have 
been exerted by a Rome, Christian indeed, but 
also rejoicing in the undiminished treasixres of her 
artificial streams. Should an author ever arise 
who shall condescend to take the History of 
Personal Cleanliness for his theme (and historians 
have sometimes chosen subjects of less interest 
for humanity than this), he will find that one of 
the darkest days in his story is the day when 
the Gothic warriors of Witigis ruined the aque- 
ducts of Rome. 

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on the 



Amount as 

at the 




Nob. I & 2. 




to be ac- 
counted for. 

Nob. a & 4. 

Appia . . 
Anio VetuB . 
Marcia . . 
Tepula . . 
Julia . . 
Virgo . . 
Alsietina . 
aaudia . . 
Anio Novus 




































+ 446»» 



^ Measured near the city, at seTenth milestone. 
'356 given to Anio Notus and Tepula. '190 given to Tepula. 



1 Outside the City. 

Inside the City. 












Appia . 






t Anio VetuB 







tMarcia . 







Tepula . 














Virgo . 














tClaudia . 
tAnio NoYUE 

J 731 












* This does not correspond with the figures given above (* *). 

t In the lines thus marked, the conjectural alterations of the text in Dederich's 

edition (Leipsic, 1855) ^^^ ^>®^^ adopted in order to make the numbers fit. 

N 2 

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Note A. 

Summary :-^8e8ar 

Private persons 
Public Works . 






All the above measurements are in quinariae. It is 
calculated that each quinaria represents a daily supply 
of 63' 18 cubic metres, or 13,906 gallons. 





Tanks (Lacus). 



439 1 

1206 , 

Appia . . 
Anio VetuB 

Marcia . . 
Tepula . . 

Julia . . 
Virgo . . 
Alsietina . 
Claudia . .) 
Anio Novus j 














































4443 ! 

The Roman numerals in the inner columns show the 
number of public institutions on which the quinariae of 
water detailed in the other columns were bestowed. Add- 
ing these together we get — 19 Castra, 95 Opera Publica, 
39 Munera, and 591 Lacus. It is certain, however, that 
we ou^At not thus to add them except to get a more 
approximate estimate of their number, as the same camp 
or fountain was, perhq)s invariably, fed by two or even 

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Schedules of Frontinus. 181 

three aqueducts, that it might not be dependent on one 
single source of supply. 

The camps are probably chiefly the great Contra Prae- 
taria, but also the smaller camps of the cohortes vigilum 
and other troops quartered in the city. 

The Opera Publica are, partly at least, the great sheets 
of water on which mock sea-fights and other spectacles 
were exhibited. We get a hint of their character 
from the words of Frontinus, who says that of the 1380 
quinariae contributed by the Aqua Virgo to public works 
460 went * to the Euripus alone, to which it gave its own 
name' of Virgo. The name Euripus, from the channel 
which separates Enboea from the mainland of Greece, was 
given to any great artificial channel, particularly (as it 
seems) to a large trench which was dug along the outer 
circumference of the Circus Maximus, and filled with 

The tmnslation of Munera and Imcus is by no means 
certain. It is clear from the Table that the former were 
much larger than the latter — an average of 9 quinariae 
going to each munus and little more than 2 to each locus, 
Jordan (Topographic der Stadt Bom, ii. 49-60} discusses 
the meaning of lacus at great length, and seems upon the 
whole to incline to the meaning which I have adopted 
above, and which is also that favoured by Lanciani (p. 369). 

Evidently at the time of Frontinus the term munus was 
a lately introduced piece of fisishionable slang, whatever 
was the thing which it was meant to describe. He says 
(iii) that he will state ' quantum publicis operibus, quan- 
tum muneribus^i^ euim cuUiores appellant — quantum 
laoibus . . . detur.' 

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Source : 

BOOKV. Procopius, De Bello Gotthico, i. 19-23. 
Ch. 7. 

537. An immediate effect of the cutting off of the 
of^^ water-supply was to endanger the regular delivery 
flour-miiiB. ^f ^YiQ rations of flour to the soldiers and the 
citizens. Now that the water of Trajan's aque- 
duct no longer came dashing down over the 
Janiculan hill, the corn-mills which it had been 
wont to drive were silent. An obvious suggestion 
would have been to use beasts of burden to supply 
the needed power. But unfortunately, in order to 
effect the necessary economy of provisions, all beasts 
of burden, except the horses needed for warlike 
The water- purposcs, had bccu slaiu. Therefore, with his usual 
the Tfiber. fertility of resource, Belisarius contrived to make 
water take the place of water. Stretching ropes 
across the Tiber from bank to bank near the 
iElian Bridge \ he moored two skiffs side by side 
at a distance of two feet apart, placed his mill- 

* Now the Ponte S. Angelo, This is probably what Pro- 
copius means by r^r y€<f>vpa£ ^s Siprn irpot r^ n-c/x/SA^) oiknif 

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The IVater-mills of Beltsarius. . 183 

stones on board and hung his water-wheel between book v. 
the 8ki£&, where the current of the river narrowed ^"' '" 
by the interposition of the bridge was strong ^^'^' 
enough to turn it and move the machinery ^ The 
Goths heard of this contrivance from the deserters 
who still came over to them, and succeeded in 
breaking the water-wheels by throwing huge logs, 
and even the carcases of slain Romans, into the 
stream. Belisarius however by fastening to the The iron 
bridge strong iron chains which stretched across 
the river, not only preserved his water-mills from 
these obstructions, but also, which was more im- 
portant, guarded the city against the peril of a 
sudden attack by the boats' crews of the bar- 
barians. The water-mills of the Tiber thus in- 
vented by Belisarius continued to be used in Rome 
down to our own day, but are now apparently 
all superseded by mills driven by steam. 

The watchful care of Belisarius did not even The cio- 
neglect to take into consideration the cloacae, the 
great sewers, of Rome ; but as the mouths of all 
of them opened into the Tiber, in that part of it 
which was within the circuit of the walls, no 
special provision against a hostile surprise appeared 
to be necessary in this quarter. 

Just at this time, when men s minds were on Omcn of 
the stretch, waiting for the mighty duel to begin, nite boys. 

* I think there was a whole string of these water-mills one 
behind another, but the language of Procopius is not yery clear : 
'EircKCiya dc SXXas re aKarovs €xofA€vag t&v dfl ^nurBtv Kitrii \6yov 

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Ig4 The Gothic Assault. 

BooKv. came the tidings of an incident, trifling and yet 
^^'^' tragical, which the superstitious in either army 
^^^' might easily regard as an omen of success to the one 
and of disaster to the other. Some Samnite lads, 
keeping their sheep on the slopes of the Apennines, 
beguiled the tedium of their occupation by choosing 
out two of their, sturdiest, naming one Witigis 
and the other Belisarius, and setting them to 
wrestle for the victory. As Fate would have it, 
Witigis was thrown. Then said the boys in sport, 
* Witigis shall be hanged.* They had tied him 
up to a tree, meaning to cut him down again 
before he had received any serious harm, when 
suddenly a wolf from the mountains was upon 
them and they fled. The poor boy, abandoned 
to his fate, died in agony. But when the story 
was noised abroad through Samnium, people read 
in it an indication of the predestined victory of 
Belisarius, and took no steps for the punishment 
of the youthful executioners. 

Disoontent Still, notwithstanding omens and auguries, the 

in Rome. ,, /•-rk i •/»i«i 

Citizens 01 fiome were by no means satisfied with 
the turn that things were taking. With their 
food doled out to them in strict daily rations, 
with only water enough for drinking (supplied 
by the river and the wells), and none whatever 
for the gadly remembered delights of the Bath, 
unwashed and short of sleep (since to each man 
his turn for sentry duty at night seemed con- 
stantly recurring) ; above all, with the depressing 
feeling that all these sacrifices were in vain, and 

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Gothic Embassy. 185 

that those myriads of the Goths whom they saw book v. 
burning their villas and ravaging the pleasant ^"' *' 
places all around the city mu^t soon be within ^^^* 
its walls, they began to murmur against Belisarius. 
Speeches were made in the Senate ^ not loud but 
full of angry feeling, against the general who 
had ventured to hold Bome with such an utterly 
inadequate force, and who was bringing the loyal 
subjects of the Emperor, guiltless of any wrong, 
into such extremity of peril by his rashness. 

Witigis, who was informed by the deserters Gothic 
of this change of feeling, tried to turn it to*™ 
account by sending an embassy to Belisarius, 
headed by a certain Albes. In the presence of Speech of 
the Senate and the Generals, Albes delivered an 
harangue in which, not uncourteously, he suggested 
to Belisarius that courage was one thing and 
rashness another. 'If it is courage that has 
brought you here, look forth from the walls, 
survey the vast multitude of the Goths. You 
will have need of all your courage in dealing with 
that mighty host. But if you now feel that it 
was mere rashness that has led you hither, and 
if at the same time you are awakened to the 
thought of all the miseries which you are in- 
flicting on the Bomans by your opposition to their 
lawful ruler, we come to oflter you one more 
opportunity of repentance. The Bomans lived 

^ 01 CK iSovX^f ^ (TvyjcXi/roy icoXovac says Procopius. It is strange 
that he should explain one Greek word by another, and that 
other no real translation of Senatus. 

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186 The Gothic Assault. 

BOOK V. in all comfort and freedom under the rule of the 
* ' good King Theodoric. Now, through your unde- 
sired interposition, they are suffering the extremity 
of misery, and their King, the King both of Goths 
and Italians^, is obliged to encamp outside the 
walls, and practise all the cruel acts of war against 
the people whom he loves. We call upon you 
therefore to evacuate the city of Rome ; but as it 
is not our wish to trample on the fallen we concede 
to you the liberty of marching forth unmolested 
and of taking with you all your possessions.' 

The spirit of the Gothic King was a good deal 
changed by the events of the last few days. Od 
his march to Rome his only fear had been lest 
Belisarius should escape his dreadful vengeance. 
Now he was willing to offer him all the honours 
of war if only he would march out of the city 
which he ought never to have been allowed to 
enter. It may be doubted whether Witigis was 
wise in showing so manifestly his desire for the 
departure of the imperial General. The Senate, 
as we know, had begun to take a very gloomy 
view of the prospects of the defence. Such a 
speech as that of Albes would tend to reassure 
many a waverer, by showing him that the Goths, 
in their secret hearts, felt no great confidence of 

Belisarius in reply said, that the prudence or 

^ Mi;de r^ r<M<»v r^ k6X 'IraXio»r£v deoTnrjj tfurobcap urrairo, 
I must confess that I doubt whether a Gothic orator really 
spoke of Witigis as d€<nr6Trjs of the Ooths. 

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Gothic Embassy. 187 

imprudence of his plan of campaign was his own book v. 
afifedr, and he did not intend to take the advice of ^ ' 
Witigis concerning it. *But I say to you that j^^ ^^^^^^ 
the time will come when you shall long to hide Beiiganus. 
your heads under the thoms of the Campagna 
and shall not be able to do so. When we took 
Rome we laid hands on no alien possession, but 
only undid that work of violence by which you 
seized upon a city to which you had no claim. 
If any one of you fancies that he is going to enter 
Rome without a struggle he is mistaken. While 
Belisarius lives he will never quit his hold of 
this city.' 

So spake Belisarius. The Roman Senators sat 
mute and trembling, not daring to echo the proud 
words of the General, nor to repd the accusations 
of the ambassadors upbraiding them with their 
treachery and ingratitude. Only Fidelius, afore- Answer of 
time QuaBstor under Athalaric^ and now Prse- the g^SSis. 
torian Prefect tmder Belisarius, answered his late 
lords with words of scorn and banter. The am- 
bassadors on their return to the camp were eagerly 
questioned by Witigis, what manner of man 
Belisarius was, and how he received the proposal 
for an evacuation of the city. To which they 
replied that he seemed to be the last man in the 
world to be frightened by mere words. Accord- 
ingly, Witigis set about the task of convincing 
him by more efficacious arguments. 

Having counted the courses of masonry in the 
^ See p. 94. 

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188 The Gothic Assault. 

BooKv. walls, and thus formed as accurate an estimate 

^°'^' as possible of their height, the Goths constructed 

537- several wooden towers of the same height as the 

Gothic pre- ^ ^ 

parations walls, running on wheels placed under their four 
Moveable comcrs, and with ropes featened to them, so that 
towers, ^j^^y could be drawB by oxen. On the highest 
platform of the towers were ladders, which could 
be used if necessary to scale the battlements. 
Battering- In addition to the towers the Goths also made 

^nXOA, I'll • T\ • • 

ready eight battenng-rams. Procopius gives ub 
a detailed description of this engine of war, Boman, 
as it is generally supposed, in its origin, but now 
borrowed from the Romans by the barbarians \ 

The batter- ^ Procopius*s description, which adds a few particulars to the 

mg-ramas well-known sketch in Josephus (De Bellis Judaeorum, iii. 7. 

descnbed v . - ,, r \ » # 

by Proco- I9)> is as follows r-"* 

piuB. ( f'our upright pillars of equal height are erected opposite to 

one another. Eight beams are inserted into these pillars at 
right angles, four above and four at the base. Having thus put 
together the frame of a four-sided hut they surround it on all 
sides with a covering of hides to serve instead of walls, in order 
that the machine may be light for those who have to draw it 
and at the same time that the men inside may be as little as pos- 
sible liable to be hit by the darts of the enemy. Within, and as 
much as possible in the middle of the enclosure, another beam 
crosswise is hung by loose chains from the top of the machine. 
The end, which is shod with iron, is either sharp like the point 
of an arrow or four-square like an anvil. The whole machine 
runs on four wheels, one under each of the four pillars ; and not 
less than fifty men move it from within. When they have got 
it close up to the wall, by turning some sort of machinery they 
draw back the beam of which I spoke and again with great force 
thrust it against the walL By its repeated strokes it can easily 
shatter and destroy whatever it meets with, and hence its name, 
because the stroke of this beam is like that of a ram butting at 
its fellows. Such is the fashion of the rams used by besiegers.' 

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Offensive and defensive Preparations. 189 

They also prepared fascineS) of the boughs of book v. 
trees and the reeds of the Campagna, which they ' 
could throw into the fosse, so filling it up and 5.^^^?^^ 
preparing the way for the adrance of their warlike 

On his side Belisarius armed the towers andconnter 
battlements with a plenteous supply of the de-tionsof 
fensive engines of the period, the BaU«ta, that Baiistae. 
magnified bow, worked by machinery, which shot 
a short square arrow twice the distance of an 
ordinary bow-shot and with such force as to break 
trees or stones*; and the Onager or Wild Ass, onager. 
which was a similarly magnified sling. Each gate 
he obstructed with a machine called a LupuSy Lupus. 
which seems, from the somewhat obscure de- 
scription of Procopius, to have been a kind of 
double portcullis^ worked both from above and 
below, and ready to close its terrible wolf-jaws 
upon any enemy who should venture within reach 
of its fangs*. 

The general disposition of the army of Beli- -A.™n««- 
sarins, which amounted in all to but 5CXX5 men, defending 
was the same as that mentioned in a previous 
chapter ^ Bessas the imperialist Ostrogoth, and 

^ The arrow (or rather holt) of the Balista was half the 
length and four times the width of an ordinary arrow. 

' Procopius gives a minute (hut not very clear) description 
of the Balista, the Wild Ass, and the Wolf, which were em- 
ployed hy Belisarius. It is not easy to understand his object 
in thus minutely describing objects with which every soldier 
must have been £Euniliar. 

• p. 148. 

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190 The Gothic Assault 

BooKv. Peranius the Iberian prince from the shores of 

^°' ^' the Caspian, commanded at the great Praanestine 

^ ^^l: Gate. At the Salarian and Pincian Gates Beli- 

Porta Frae- 

nestina. sarius himsclf took charge of the fight ; at the 

lariaand Flaminian, Ursicinus, who had under him a de- 

PortTFi tachment of infantry known as • The Emperor s 

"^"*- Own^' They had, however, little to do in the 

battle which is about to be described, as the 

Flaminian Gate stood on a precipitous piece of 

groimd and was too difficult of access for the 

v^^ Goths to assault it 2. 

Muro More astonishing was it to Procopius that the 

wall a little to the east of the Flaminian Gate 

should also have been left unassaulted by the 

Goths. Here, to this day, notwithstanding some 

lamentable and perfectly unnecessary* restorations' 

of recent years, may be seen some portions of 

the Muro Torto, a twisted, bulging, overhanging 

mass of opus reticulatum \ It looks as if it might 

fall to morrow (and so, as we shall see, thought 

Belisarius), but it has stood in its present state 

for eighteen centuries. But the story of this piece 

of waU and the superstitions connected with it 

* Ot *Frjy€s §trrav6a n€(iK6p tcXos €<f)v\aa'a'0¥ (Proc. i. 23). No 
doabt these are the same as the Eegit, one of the seventeen 
* Aimlia Palatina ' under the command of the Magister Militum 
Praesentalis, mentioned in the Notitia Orientis, cap. v. 

* We now know certainly that the Porta del Popolo stands 
on the very same site as the Porta Flaminia, and we can only say 
that the configuration of the ground outside it, which is now 
comparatively level, must have changed considerably since the 
sixth century. 

' Not later therefore than the first century a. d. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Digitized by 


Digitized by 



IVaotiht rytype. J 

{BeUvet'ti pa^cs lyo, 191. 

The Muro Torto. 

From an Engraving in Ricciardelli's 'Vedute dclle Porte e Mura di Roma,' 
published 1832. 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 


The Muro Tor to. 191 

is 80 curious that Procopius must tell it in his bookv, 

, Oh. 7. 

own words : — 

' Between the Flaminian Gate and the gate-let 
next in order on the right hand, which is called the 
Piucian, a part of the wall split asunder long ago of 
its own accord. The cleft however did not reach to 
the ground, but only about half-way down. Thus it 
did not fall, nor receive any further damage, but it 
so leaned over in both directions that one part seems 
within, the other without the rest of the enclosure. 
From this circumstance the Romans have from 
of old called that part of the wall, in their own 
language, Murus Muptus. Now when Belisarius 
was at the first minded to pull down this bit and 
build it up again, the Romans stopped him, 
assuring him that Peter (the Apostle whom they 
venerate and admire above all others) had pro- 
mised that he would care for the defence of their 
city at that point ^. And things turned out in 
this quarter exactly as they had expected; for 
neither on the day of the first assault, nor during 
any subsequent part of the siege, did the enemy 
approach this portion of the wall in force, or cause 
any tumult there. We often wondered that in 
all the assaults and midnight surprises of the 
enemy, this part of the fortifications never seemed 
to come into the remembrance either of besiegers 
or besieged. For this reason no one hath since 

* There was a legend (for which I cannot quote the autho- 
rity) that the wall had first lost its perpendicular form by 
bowing towards St. Peter when he was led out to execution. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

192 The Gothic Assault. 

BOOKV. attempted to rebuild it, but the wall remains to 
^"'^* this day cleft in two. So much for the Jfurua 

The reader will probably feel, in perusing this 
passage, that Prooopius himself, though rather a 
Theist than a Christian, and not always constant 
even to Theism, was puzzled whether to accept or 
reject the legend of St. Peter s guardianship of 
the Muro Torto. He shows the same attitude of 
suspended belief towards the Sibylline Oracles 
and many other heathen marvels which are re- 
corded in his pages. 
I'oM Constantine, removed by Belisarius from the 

Aeliufc. , / /. 

Tomb of Porta Flaminia, was placed in charge of the river- 
side wall and the Bridge and Tomb of Hadrian. 

Porta Pan- Paulus Commanded at the Pancratian Gate on the 
other side of the Tiber : but here too, on account 
of the difficulty of the ground, the Goths at- 
tempted nothing worthy of note. A striking 
contrast this to one of the very last sieges of Kome, 
that under General Oudinot in 1849, when the 
Porta S. Pancrazio was riddled with hostile bullets. 
In consequence of the frequent skirmishes in that 
quarter the whole Janiculum was then covered 
with mounds, now grass-grown and peaceful- 
looking, under which French and Italian soldiers, 
slain in those dreary days, slumber side by side. 

The assault The preparations of the Goths being completed, 

about'aiBt ou the eighteenth day of the siege, at sunrise, 

* *^^' they began the assault. With dismay the Romans, 

clustered on the walls, beheld the immense masses 

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The Gothic Towers made useless. 193 

of men converging to the City, the rams, the towers book v. 
drawn by oxen moving slowly towards them. They 

beheld the sight with dismay, but a smile of calm Ter^/of 
scorn curved the lips of Belisarius. The Komans ^^ ^^ 
could not bear to see him thus trifling as they calmness 
thought in the extremity of their danger; im-rfus. 
plored him to use the balistae on the walls before 
the enemy came any nearer ; called him shameless 
and incompetent when he refused : but still Beli- 
sarius waited and still he smiled. At length, when First Wood 
the Goths were now close to the edge of the fosse, 
he drew his bow and shot one of their leaders, 
armed with breastplate and mail, through the 
neck. The chief fell dead, and a roar of applause 
at the fortunate omen rose from the Boman ranks. 
Again he bent his bow and again a Gothic noble 
fell, whereat another shout of applause from the 
walls rent the ain Then Belisarius gave all his 
soldiers the signal to discharge their arrows, 
ordering those immediately around him to leave 
the men untouched and to aim all their shafts 
at the oxen. In a few minutes the milk-white The towers 

, _ , made nse- 

Etrurian oxen were all slain, and then of necessity less. 
the towers, the rams, all the engines of war 
remained immovable at the edge of the fosse, 
useless for attack, only a hindrance to the as- 
saulting host. So close to the walls, it was 
impossible for the Goths to bring up other beasts 
of burden, or to devise any means to repair the 
disaster. Then men understood the reason of 
the smile of Belisarius, who was amused at the 
VOL. rv. o 

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194 The Gothic Assault 

BOOKV. simplicity of the barbarians in thinking that he 

^°'^' would allow them to drive their oxen close up 

537- under his battlements. Then they recognised his 

wisdom in postponing the reply from the balistae 

till the Goths had come so near that their disaster 

WM irreparable. 

chMg6 in The towers and the rams had apparently been 

the Gothic . . rr J 

intended specially for that part of the wall close 
to the Pincian Gate. Foiled in this endeavour, 
Witigis drew back bis men a little distance from 
the fosse^ formed them into deep columns, and 
ordered them not to attempt any farther assault 
on that part of the walls, but so to harass the 
troops by incessant discharges of missile weapons 
as to prevent Belisarius from giving any assistance 
to the other points which he meant to assail, and 
which were especially the Porta Praenestina and 
the Porta Aurelia. 

During this time sharp fighting was going on 
at the other gate which was imder the immediate 
command of Belisarius, the Porta Salaria. Here for 
a little while the barbarians seemed to be getting 
the advantage. A long-limbed Goth, one of their 
nobles and renowned for his prowess in war, armed 
(as perhaps their common soldiers were not) with 
helmet and breastplate, left the ranks of his 
comrades and swung himself up into a tree from 
which he was able to discharge frequent and 
deadly missiles at the defenders of the battlements. 
At length, however, one of the balistae worked 
by the soldiers in the tower on the left of the 

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Attack on the Porta Praenestina. 195 

gateway, more by good fortune than good aim, book v. 
succeeded in striking him. The bolt went right * 

through the warrior s body and half through the ^^^* 
tree : thus pinned to the tree-trunk he was 
left dangling between earth and heaven. At 
this sight a chill fear ran through the Gothic 
ranks, and withdrawing themselves out of the 
range of the balistae they gave no more trouble 
to the defenders of the Salarian Gate. 

The weight of the Gothic assault was directed Attack on 
agamst the PrsBnestme Gate, the modem Porta Praeneg- 
Maggiore. Here they collected a number of their Magg-ore). 
engines of attack, towers, battering-rams, and 
ladders : and here both the hoped-for absence 
of the great general and the dilapidated state 
of the wall inspired some reasonable hope of 
victory. The neighbourhood of the Porta Maggiore i>e«crip- 
IS to this day one of the most interesting portions Porta 
of the wall of Bome. Here you see the two 
stately arches which spanned the diverging roads 
to Labicum and Praeneste. Above them you read 
the clear, boldly-carved inscriptions which record 
the constructions of Claudius, and the restorations 
of Vespasian and Titus. Between them stands 
the curious tomb of the baker Eurysaces, which 
bore the sculptured effigies of the baker and his 
wife and a quaint inscription (still legible) re- 
cording that * in this bread-basket* the fragments 
of Marcus Vergilius Eurysaces and his excellent 
wife are gathered together. High above run the 
channels of the Anio Novus and the Aqua Claudia. 


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196 The Gothic Assault. 

BOOKV. Hard by at a lower level the Julia, Tepula, and 
^°'^' Marcia, and yet lower the Anio Vetus enter the 
*^^' city. This intersection of the aqueducts gave the 
Porta Praenestina a strength peculiar to itself, and 
caused it to take an important place in the forti- 
fications of the later emperors. 
Different When the Goths assaulted Kome the Prasnestine 

aspect at , 

the time of and LaWcau Gates did not show the same fair 
proportions which they displayed in the days 
of Claudius, and which they have recovered by 
the judicious restoration effected in 1838. By the 
operations of the military engineers of Aurelian and 
Honorius^ the Labican Gate' was closed and the 
usual round towers^ were erected, flanking the gate, 
which enclosed and concealed from view till our 
own times the Tomb of Eurysaces- The high line 
of the aqueduct wall still remained (as it does to 
this day), but it had fallen much out of repair, 
and the real line of defence seems to have been 
a lower wall running parallel to it at a distance 
of less than 100 yards and skirting the line of 

^ Over the Prsenestiiie Gate, as well as oyer the Tibnrtine 
and the Portuensian Qates, ran an inBcription recording the 
restoration of the walls, gates, and towers of the city bj the 
most unconquered Emperors Arcadius and Honorios, and the 
clearing away of immense heaps of rubbish at the suggestion of 
the illustrious Count Stilicho. 

' That on the south side. It is now open and the Prse- 
nestine closed. 

' I say towers in the plural, as there can be no doubt there 
would be at least two, though only one is shown in Ricciar- 
delli's picture (published 1832). The square towers there 
depicted are probably medieval : and it is evident that the 
0ate was a good deal altered during the Middle Ages. 

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198 The Gothic Assault. 

BOOK V. the Via Labicana. Between these two walls, which 

^° ' ran thus side by side for about 500 yards, a strip 

^ ^^^ of land was enclosed which was used in old days 

rium, as a menagerie for the wild beasts that were 

about to be employed in the shows of the amphi- 

theatre^ To use the words of Procopius, 'It 

chanced that the [true] wall in that quarter had 

Where was ^ After very carefdl consideration I have come to the con- 
^ X^^*" elusion that Canina and the majority of Roman topographers 
are right in placing the Vivarium A^re, between the main wall 
and the Via Labicana. What most impresses me is the £sict that 
the modem road, which generally keeps close under the wall, 
here deviates from it and leaves this strip of land unoccupied, 
for no particular purpose that we can see, since even now it has 
no substantial buildings upon it, but is chiefly used for stables 
and cow-houses, and has a generally squalid and deserted 
appearance. All this looks very much as if there had been in 
old days some kind of special appropriation of the ground just 
outside the wall : and there is a wall skirting the road now 
which, though itself I think entirely modem, may very well be 
built on ancient foundations. Mr. Freeman's suggestion of the 
Amphitheatrum Castrense (Brit. Quart. Review, Ixxvi. 295) does 
not seem to me quite to meet the necessities of the case. He 
himself alludes to the difference between an amphitheatre and 
a place for storing wild beasts. But besides this, there is a 
very decided ascent from the surrounding country towards the 
Amphitheatrum Castrense, whereas Procopius lays stress on the 
level character of the Vivarium and the facility of approach to 
it i^v dc 6 Tavrji x^P^^ 6iiak6£ KOfuidj Ka\ an avrov T€us €if>6doi£ r&v 
7rpo<n6tfT<dv iyictifuvos). Above all, the opening of the Preenestine 
Gate by Belisarius and the sudden out-rush of the Roman 
soldiers on the rear of the combatants in the Vivarium seems 
to me to forbid us to think of the Amphitheatrum Castrense as 
the scene of the conflict, and almost to require us to place it 
between the Via Labicana and the Wall. 

FulviuB (Antiquitates Urbis, fo. vi) placed the Vivarium 
near to, or in, the Castra Praetoria, but this is now generally 
admitted to be a mistake. 

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Attack on the Vivarium. 199 

in great part crumbled away, as the bricks no book v. 
longer cohered well together. But * another low ^' 
wall had been drawn round it on the outside ^^^' 
by the Eomans of old, not for safety's sake, for 
it had neither towers nor battlements nor any 
other of the appliances for defence, but on account 
of unseemly luxury, that they might there enclose 
in cages the lions and other beasts [for the amphi- 
theatre]. For which cause also they called it the 
Yivarium^ for that is the name given by the 
Eomans to a place where beasts of ungentle nature 
are wont to be kept.' 

To the Vivarium then the Goths directed the Gothic 
weight of their columns and the larger number the vwa- 
of their engines of war. The objective point was 
well chosen. The ground was level and afforded 
easy access to the assailants. There was, it is 
true, a double wall, but the inner one, as the 
Goths well knew, was decayed and ruinous, and 
the outer one, though in better preservation, was 
low and undefended by towers or battlements. 
But the fatal fault of the attack was that in the 
narrow space between the two walls there was 
no room for the barbarians to manoeuvre, and of 
this fault Belisaiius determined to avail himself. 
By this time he had hastened with the most 
valiant men of his little army to the place, but he 
set few defenders on the ramparts and offered little 
opposition to the strokes with which the Goths 
battered a breach in the wall of the Vivarium. 
When this was accomplished, when he saw them 

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200 The Gothic Assault. 

BOOKV. pouring in, in their multitudes, to the narrow 
^^•^' enclosure, he sent Cyprian and some of the bravest 
Th^G^thfl ^^ ^^ troops to man the real wall, formed of 
paaathe t^e arcades of the aqueducts. The unexpected 
strength of this opposition caused some dismay 
in the hearts of the Goths, who had thought their 
work would be at an end when they had pene- 
trated within the first enclosure. Then, when 
they were all intent upon the hand-to-hand 
encounter with the defenders of the wall, Beli- 
sarins ordered the Prsenestine Gate^ to be thrown 
The Gyths opcu. Behind it he had massed his troops armed 
rear. with breastplate and sword ; no javelin or pilum 
to encumber them with its needless aid. They 
had little to do but to slay. Panic seized the 
Goths, who sought to pour out of the Vivarium 
by the narrow breach which they had effected, 
and many of whom were trampled to death by 
their own friends. * They thought no more of valour 
but of flight,' says the historian, *each man as 
best he could.' The Romans followed and slew 
a great number before they could reach the distant 
Gothic camp. Belisarius ordered the engines of 
war collected by the assailants to be burned, and 
the red flames shooting up into the evening sky 
carried terror to the hearts of the fogitives. A 

^ Procopius speaks of 'gates' in the plural. There can, 
I think, be no doubt that the Porta Labicana had been closed 
ever since the time of Honorius, but probably the remembrance 
of the two gates which had so long existed here, which in fetct 
still existed, though one of them was useless, caused the Porta 
Praenestina to be spoken of as 'the gates.' 

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Attack on the Porta Aurelia. 201 

similax sally from the Salarian Gate met with book v. 
like success. ^'^^ 

Meanwhile, however, on the north-west of Rome, ^^^* 
at the Porta Aurelia (opposite the Castle of Sant' SePwIi* 
Angelo), the Goths had been much nearer to ^^ 
achieving victory. Here, as has been said, Con- 
stantine, withdrawn for this purpose from the 
flaminian Gate, had charge of the defence of the 
city. Two points were especially threatened, the 
Porta Aurelia and the stretch of river-side wall 
between it and the Porta Flaminia. This bit of 
wall had been left somewhat weak, the river 
seeming here sufficient defence, nor did Belisarius 
feel himself able to spare a large number of men 
for its protection. But Constantino, seeing that 
the enemy were preparing to cross the stream 
and attack at this place, rushed off himself to 
defend it. He was successful. When the Goths 
found that their landing was not unopposed, and 
that even this piece of wall had defenders, they 
lost heart and gave up the attempt. These move- 
ments, however, occupied precious time, and when, 
probably about noon, Constantine returned to the 
Porta Aurelia, he found that important events had 
taken place in his absence. 

The whole course of the attack and defence The Tomb 
in that quarter was determined then, as it has(theCaBtie 
been in so many subsequent struggles, by Angeio). 

'The Mole which Hadrian reared on highV 

the tomb, the fortress, the prison, of Sant' Angelo. 

^ Childe Harold, iy. isa* 

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202 The Gothic Assault. 

BOOKV. Procopius shall describe it for us, for his is still 
^^'^' the fullest account which we possess of the mighty 
5^^' Mausoleum in its glory : — 

*The tomb of Hadrian the Roman Emperor 
is outside the Porta Aurelia, distant from the 
wall about a bow-shot, a memorable sight. For 
it is made of Parian marble, and the stones fit 
closely one into another with no other fastening. 
It has four equal sides, each about a stone s throw 
in length, and in height overtopping the wall of 
the city. Above there are placed statues of men 
and horses made out of the same stone [Parian], 
and marvellous to behold. This tomb then the 
men of old, since it seemed like an additional 
fortress for their city, joined to the line of forti- 
fication by two walls reaching out from the main 
circuit of the fortifications. And thus the tomb 
seemed like a citadel protecting the gate." 

Conjee- From this description and a few hints given 

tand re- 

constrnc- by travellers who saw the Mausoleum in the 
Tomb. Middle Ages, Eoman archaeologists^ have con- 
jecturally reconstructed its original outline. A 
quadrangular structure of dazzling white marble, 
each side 300 Boman feet long and eighty-five 
feet high, it had upon its sides inscriptions to 
the various Emperors firom Trajan to Severus 
who were buried within its walls. At the comers 
of this structure were equestrian statues of four 
Emperors. Above, two circular buildings, one over 

^ Especially Cauina (Edifisd, cclxzxiy), whose description I 
follow with confidence. 

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The Tomb of Hadrian. 203 

the other, were surrounded with colonnades and book v. 
peopled with marble statues* Over all rose a ^^'^' 
conical cupola whose summit was 300 feet above *^^' 
the ground, so that it might be said of this 
Mausoleum as of the City in the Kevelation, * The 
length and the breadth and the height of it were 
equal.' Visitors to the gardens of the Vatican may 
still see there a bronze fir-cone, eight feet high, 
which according to tradition once surmounted the 
cupola of Hadrian's Tomb. 

Towards this tomb-fortress, then, swarmed the Gothic 
Grothic " bands fi^om their camp in the* Neronian the Tomb, 
gardens. They had no elaborate engines like their 
brethren on the other side of the river, but they 
had ladders and bows in abundance, and hoped 
easily to overpower the scanty forces of the de- 
fenders. A long colonnade led from the iElian 
Bridge to the great Basilica of St. Peter, shel- 
tered by which they approached close under the 
walls of the Tomb before they were perceived 
by the garrison. They were then too near for 
the balistae to be used against them with eflfect, 
the bolts discharged by those unwieldy engines 
flying over the heads of the assailants. The 
arrows shot from the bows of the Imperial soldiers 
could not pierce the large oblong shields of the 
Goths, which reminded Procopius of the enormous 
bucklers^ that he had seen used in the Persian 
wars. Moreover, the quadrangular shape of the 
building which they had to defend put the gar- 

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204 The Gothic Assault. 

BooKV. rison at a disadvantage, since, when they were 

Ch. 7. 

facing the foe on c«ie side, they continually found 

^^^* themselves taken in rear by the assailants on 

the opposite quarter. Altogether, things looked 

ill for the defenders of the Tomb, till a sudden 

instinct drove them to the statues; that silent 

marble chorus which stood watching iiie terrible 

Thestatuee drama. Tearing these down from their bases and 

down. breaking the larger figures into fragments, they 

hurled them down upon the eager Gothic host. 

At once the exultation of the latter was turned 

into panic. They drew back from the avalanche 

of sculpture. They retreated within range of the 

balistae. The garrison plied these engines with 

desperate energy, and with shouts discharged their 

arrows also against the enemy, whose shields now 

no longer formed the compact testudo which had 

The Goths before resisted their missiles. At this moment 

Constantino appeared upon the scene and turned 

repulse into defeat. The Tomb of Hadrian was 

saved, but at a price which would have caused a 

bitter pang to the artistic Emperor who raised and 

adorned that mighty mausoleum ^ 

Complete Thus, ou both sidcs of the Tiber, the confident 

the assaait. onset of the Goths had ended in utter failure. 

The battle, which began with early dawn, lasted 

till evening twilight. All night long the flare 

* The Barberini Faun at Municsh and the Dancing Fann at 
Florence were brought from the foBse below the Tomb of 
Hadrian, and may have been two of the statues hurled on the 
heads of the Qoths. 

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Mourning in the Gothic Camp. 205 

of the burning engines of the Goths reddened the book v. 
sky. All night rose the contrasted clamours of the ^^•^' 
two armies ; from the battlements of the city, the ^^^' 
cheers and the rude songs in which the Eomans 
praised the fame of their hero-general ; from the 
Gothic camps the lamentation for the fallen, the 
groans of the wounded, the hurrying steps of 
men rushing to and fro to bring aid to their 
agonising comrades. 

It was asserted by the Bomans, and, according 
to Procopius, admitted by the Gothic leaders, that 
on this day 30,000 of the barbarians were stretched 
dead upon the field, beside the vast numbers of 
the wounded. 

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BOOK V. Procopius, De Bello Gotthico, i. 24-ii. 2. 

Ch. 8. 

537. After the Gothic assault was repulsed, Beli- 
firomlBeU- ^^^^^ Sent a messenger to Justinian with a letter 
y^^^ announcing the victory and praying for reinforce- 
ments. The letter, which was probably composed 
by Procopius himself, is worth reading, especially 
as it helps us to understand the light in which the 
invasion of Italy was regarded at Constantinople. 
*The King shall enjoy his own again' was the 
key-note of all the Imperial proceedings both at 
Carthage and at Bome. It was not a young and 
vigorous nationality, with a feir prospect of an 
honourable career, that Justinian and his generals 
seemed to themselves to be suppressing. It was 
simply an inalienable right that they were assert- 
ing, a right that generations of barbaric domination 
could not weaken, the right of the Imperator 
Romanus to Eome and to every country that her 
legions had once subdued, 

* We have arrived in Italy ' (said Belisarius) * in 
obedience to your orders, and after possessing our- 

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Belisarius to yustinian. 207 

selves of a large extent of its territory have also book v. 
taken Rome, driving away the barbarians whom 

we found there, whose captain, Leuderis, we lately ^^^' 
sent to you. Owing, however, to the large number 
of soldiers whom we have had to detach for gar- 
rison duty in the various towns of Italy and Sicily 
which we have taken, our force here is dwindled to 
5000 men. The enemy has come against us with 
an army 150,000 strong ; and in the first engage- 
ment, when we went out to reconnoitre by the 
banks of the Tiber, being forced, contrary to our 
intention, to fight, we were very nearly buried 
imder the multitude of their spears. Then, when 
the barbarians tried a general assault upon our 
walls with all their forces and with many engines 
of war, they were within a little of capturing 
us and the city at the first rush. Some good 
fortune however (for one must refer to Fortune 
not to our valour the accomplishment of a deed 
which in the nature of things was not to be 
expected) saved us from their hands. 

'So far however, whether Valour or Fortune 
have decided the struggle, your affairs have gone 
as well as could be desired, but I should like that 
this success should continue in days to come. I 
will say without concealment what I think you 
ought now to do, knowing well that human affairs 
turn out as God wills, but knowing also that 
those who preside over the destinies of nations 
are judged according to the event of their en- 
terprises, be that event good or bad. I pray you, 

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208 Roman Sorties. 

BOOK v. then, let arms and soldiers be sent to us in such 
^^•^' numbers that we may no longer have to continue 
55^" the war on terms of such terrible inequality with 
our enemies. For it is not right to trust every- 
thing to Fortune, since if she favoiurs us at one 
time she will turn her back upon us at another. 
But I pray you^ Emperor, to let this thought 
into your mind, that if the barbarians should now 
vanquish us, not only shall we be driven out of 
your own Italy and lose our army too, but deep 
disgrace will accrue to us all as the result of our 
actions. We shall certainly be thought to have 
ruined the Komans who have preferred loyalty 
to your Empire above their own safety. And 
thus even the good luck which has attended us 
so far will prove in the end calamitous to our 
frienda If we had failed in our attempts on 
Eome, on Campania, or on Sicily, we should only 
have had the slight mortification of not being able 
to appropriate the possessions of others. Veiy 
different will be our feelings now when we lose 
what we have learned to look upon as our own, 
and drag those who have trusted us down into 
the same abyss of ruin. 

* Consider this too, I pray you, that it is only 
the good-will of the citizens which has enabled 
us to hold Rome for ever so short a time against 
the myriads who besiege it. With a wide extent 
of open coimtry round it, with no access to the 
sea, shut off from supplies, we could do nothing 
if the citizens were hostile. They are still ani- 

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Reinforcements from Constantinople. 209 

mated by firiendly feelings towards xis, but if their book v. 
hardships should be greatly prolonged it is only ' 

natural that they should choose for themselves ^^^' 
the easier lot. For a recently formed friendship 
like theirs requires prosperity to enable it to 
endure : and the Romans especially may be com- 
pelled by himger to do many things which are 
very contrary to their inclination. 

'To conclude: I know that I am bound to 
sacrifice life itself to your Majesty, and therefore 
no man shall force me, living, from this place. 
But consider, I pray you, what kind of fame would 
accrue to Justinian from such an end to the career 
of Belisarius^/ 

The efiect of this letter was to accelerate the Reinforce- 
preparations already made for reinforcing the from Con- 
gallant band in Rome, Valerian and Martin had pie. 
been sent, late in 536, with ships and men to 
the help of Belisarius, but, fearing to face the 
winter storms, had lingered on the coast of iEtolia. 
They now received a message from the Emperor 
to quicken their movements ; and at the same 
time the spirits of the general and the citizens 
were raised by the tidings that reinforcements 
were on their way to relieve them. 

On the very next day after the failure of the Noncom- 
Grothic assault the unmenaced gates of Rome sent out 
opened, and a troop of aged men, women, and 

* *E'yo) /icv o^v otha Bavorov o^c/Xcjy tJ (t^ /SatriXfig, jcal dm tovto 
(i&pra /i€ ovdclff h» hSivht (fcXeif hvvavrti, Sjcoft-ci de hmolav troi 7tot€ 
ddfav fi TOUSvTTj Btkuraplov TtXtvrrj </>cpoi. 


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210 Roman Sorties. 

BOOK V. children, set forth from the city. Some went out 
by the Appian Gate and along the Appian Way, 

•'^^'' others went forth by the Porta Portuensis and sailed 
down the Tiber to the sea. They were accom- 
panied by all the slaves, male and female, except 
such of the former as Belisarius had impressed 
for the defence of the walls. Even the soldiers 
had to part with the servants who generally 
followed them to war. In thus immediately 
sending the useless mouths out of Eome Belisarius 
showed his prompt appreciation of the necessities 
of his position. He had repelled an assault ; he 
would now guard as well as he might against 
the dangers of a blockade. Had Witigis been as 
great a master as Belisarius of the cruel logic 
of war, he would undoubtedly have prevented 
the Byzantine general from disencxmibering him- 
self of the multitude, who by their necessities 
would have been the most eflfectual allies of the 
Goths inside the city. Imperfect as was the 
Gothic line of circumvallation, it is impossible to 
believe that more than ioo,chx) warriors, including 
a large body of cavalry, could not by occupying 
the main roads have prevented at least some of 
a large and defenceless multitude from escaping, 
and have driven them back within the walls of 
Kome. But, in fact, all of them, without fear 
or molestation, reached the friendly shelter of the 
cities of Campania, or crossed the straits and took 
refuge in Sicily. 

The fact seems to have been that, except by 

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Portus occupied by the Goths. 211 

a series of brave and blundering assaults upon the book v. 
actual walls of the city, the Goths, or perhaps we 

should rather say the Gothic King, had no notion ^^^^^^^^ 
how to handle the siege. One right step indeed ^^ 
he took, in view of the now necessary blockade. 
Three days after the failure of the assault he Twenty- 
sent a body of troops to Portus, which they found the siege. 
practically undefended, notwithstanding its mas- 
sive wall (the ruins of which are still visible), and 
it was at once occupied by them with a garrison 
of ICXX5 men. Procopius is of opinion that even 
300 Eoman soldiers would have been sufficient 
to defend Portus, but they could not be spared by 
Belisarius from the yet more pressing duty of 
watching on the Eoman ramparts. The occu- 
pation of Portus caused great inconvenience to 
the Eomans, although they still remained in pos- 
session of Ostia and the neighbouring harbour 
of Antium. From Portus (which since the second 
century had practically displaced Ostia as the chief 
emporirun of Eome) merchants were accustomed 
to bring all heavy cargoes up the Tiber in barges 
drawn by oxen, for which there was an excellent 
towpath all along the right bank of the river. 
From Ostia, on the other hand, merchandise had 
to be brought in skiffs dependent on the favour 
of the wind, which, owing to- the winding character 
of the river, seldom served them for a straight 
run from the harbour to the city. 

Besides the occupation of Portus, Witigis could Murder 
bethink him of no better device to annoy the hostages. 

P 2 

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212 Roman Sorties. 

BOOKV. Eomans than the cruel and senseless one of mur- 

L_L dering their hostages. He sent orders to Eavenna 

*^^* that all the Senators whom he had confined there 
at the outbreak of the war should be put to death. 
A few escaped to Milan, having had some warning 
of their impending fate. Among them were a 
certain Cerventinus, and Eeparatus a brother of 
the deacon Virgilius, who was in a few months 
to become Pope. The others all perished, and 
with them went the Goth^s last chance of ruling 
^ the Roman otherwise than by fear. 
Timidity Meanwhile the Gothic blockade, into which the 

of the b6- 

siegeni. sicgc was rcsolving itself, was of the feeblest and 
most inefiScient kind. Leaving all the praise of 
dash and daring to the scanty bands of their 
enemies, the Goths clung timidly to their un- 
wieldy camps, in which no doubt already pestilence 
was lurking. They never ventiu-ed forth by night, 
seldom except in large companies by day. The 
light Moorish horsemen were their especial terror. 
If a Goth wandered forth into the Campagna 
alone, to cut fodder for his horse or to bring one 
of the oxen in from pasture, he was almost sure 
to see one of these children of the desert bearing 
down upon him- With one cast of the Moor s 
lance the Goth was slain, his arms and his barbaric 
adornments were stripped from him, and the Moor 
was off again full speed towards Eome before the 
avenger could be upon his track. 

Defence of Bclisariup, OH the other hand, organised his de- 
fence of the city so thoroughly as to leave as little 

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Precauiio7i$ of Belisarius, 213 

as possible to the caprice of Fortune. To prevent book v. 

Oh. 8. 

his own little band of soldiers from being worn 
out by continual sentinel-duty, especially at night, ^^^' 
and at the same time to keep from starvation 
the Boman proletariat, all of whose ordinary work 
was stopped by the siege, he instituted a kind 
of National Guard, He mixed a certain number 
of these citizen soldiers with his regular troops, 
paying each of them a small sum for his daily 
maintenance, and dividing the whole amalgamated 
force into companies, to each of whom was assigned 
the duty of guarding a particular portion of the 
walls by day or by night. To obviate the danger 
of treachery, these companies were shifted every 
fortnight to some part of the circuit at a con- 
siderable distance from that which they last 
guai-ded. After the same interval the keys of 
every gate of the city were brought to him, 
melted down and cast afresh with different wards, 
the locks of course being altered to suit them. 
The names of the sentinels were entered upon a 
list which was called over each day. The place 
of any absent soldier or citizen was at once filled * 
up, and he was summoned to the general*s quarters 
to be punished, perhaps capitally punished, for his 
delinquency. All the night, bands of music played 
at intervals along the walls, to keep the defenders 
awake and to cheer their drooping courage. All 
night too, the Moors, the terrible Moors, were 
instructed to prowl round the base of the walls, 
accompanied by bloodhounds, in order to detect 

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214 Roman Sorties, 

BOOKV. any attempt by the Goths at a nocturnal escalade. 
About this time a curious attempt was made, 

A*/^^*** which shows that there was still an undercurrent 

Attempt to 

""^tes^/ of the old Paganism in the apparently Christian 
the temple ^^^A Orthodox City. The little square temple of 
Janus, nearly coeval with the Kepublic, still stood 
in the Forum in front of the Senate-house and 
a little above the Tria Fata or temple of the 
Fates. The temple was all overlaid with brass; 
of brass was the double-faced statue of Janus, 
seven and a-half feet high, which stood within it, 
looking with one face to the rising and with one 
to the setting sun ; of brass were the renowned 
gates which the Komans of old shut only in time 
of peace, when all good things abounded, and 
opened in time of war. Since the citizens of 
Kome had become zealous above all others in 
their attachment to Christianity, these gates had 
been kept equally shut whether peace or war 
were in the land. Now, however, some secret 
votaries of the old faith tried, probably under 
cover of night, to open these brazen gates, that the 
god might march out as of old to help the Koman 
armies. They did not succeed in opening wide the 
massive doors, but they seem to have wrenched 
them a little from their hinges, so that they would 
no longer shut tightly as aforetime ; an apt symbol 
of the troubled state of things, neither settled 
peace nor victorious war, which was for many 
centuries to prevail in Kome. This evidence of 
still existing Paganism must have shocked the 

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The Reinforcements arrive. 215 

servants of the pious Justinian ; but owing to the book v. 
troublous state of affairs no enquiry was made as 

to the authors of the deed ^ *^^* 

At length, on the forty-first day from the com- Arrival of 
mencement of the siege, the long-looked-for re- reinforce- 
inforcements under Martin and Valerian arrived in about 13 
Kome. They were but 1600 men after all, but p"'^^^' 
they were cavalry troops, hardy horsemen from 
the regions beyond the Danube, Huns, Sclavoni- 
ans, and Antes ^ ; and their arrival brought joy to 
the heart of Belisarius, who decided that now the 
time was come for attempting offensive operations 
against the enemy. The first sallying party was BeiiaanuB 
under the command of Trajan, one of the body- saUy. * 
guard of the General, a brave and capable man. 
He was ordered to lead forth 200 light-armed 
horsemen from^ the Salarian Gate, and to occupy 
a little eminence near to one of the Gothic camps. 
There was to be no hand-to-hand fighting ; neither 
sword nor spear was to be used ; only each man's 
bow was to discharge as many arrows as possible, 
and when these were exhausted the soldiers were 
to seek safety in flight. These orders were obeyed. 
Each Koman arrow transfixed some Gothic warrior 

* This temple of Janus— the most celebrated but not the 
only one in Eome — ^must have stood a little to the right of 
the Arch of Septimius Sevems (as one looks towards the 
Capitol) and a little in front of the Mamertine Prison. No 
traces whatever of it or of the Tria Fata appear to have been 

' A people akin to the Sclavonians, who dwelt at this time, 
according to Jordanes (De Reb. Get. v), between the Dniester 
and the Dnieper on the shores of the Black Sea. 

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216 Roman Sorties. 

BOOKV. or his steed. When their quivers were empty, 

^^'^' the skirmishers hastened back under the shelter 

^^^' of the walls of the city. The Goths pursued, but 

soon found themselves within range of the balistae, 

which were in full activity on the battlements. 

it was believed in the Eoman camp that looo 

of their enemies had been laid low by this day's 


other A second sortie under Mundilas and Dioffenes 

sallieB. . , ° 

and a third under Wilas, all three brave guards- 
men of Belisarius, were equally destructive to the 
enemy, and the result was achieved with equally 
little cost to the troop, 300 strong in each case, 
by whom the sortie was effected. 
witigis Seeing the success of these manoeuvres, Witi- 

tries to 

imitate gis, who had uot yet apprehended the difference of 
tactics. training and equipment between his countrymen 
and the Imperialists, thought he could not do 
better than imitate them. Victory was evidently 
to be had if a general made his army small enough : 
and he accordingly sent 500 horsemen with orders 
to go as near as they could to the walls, without 
coming within range of the balistae, and avenge 
upon the Komans all the evils which they had 
suffered at their hands. The Goths accordingly 
took up their position on a little rising ground ; 
and Belisarius, perceiving them, sent Bessas with 
1000 men to steal round and take them in rear. 
The Goths soon found themselves overmastered : 
many of them fell; the rest fled to their camp 
and were upbraided by Witigis for their cowardice. 

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Causes of success of the Imperial Troops, 217 

* Why could not they win a victory with a handful book v. 
of men as the troops on the otlier side did V So 

did the clumsy workman quarrel with his tools. ^^^' 
Three days after he got together another band 
of 500 men, picking them from each of the Gothic 
camps that he might be sure to have some valiant 
men among them, and sent them with the same 
general directions, * to do brave deeds against the 
enemy/ When they drew near, Belisarius sent 
I5cx> horsemen against them under the newly- 
arrived generals Martin and Valerian. An eques- 
trian battle ensued. Again the Goths, hopelessly 
outnumbered, were easily put to flight, and great 
numbers of them were slain. 

Not in the Gothic camp only did this uniform Cause of 
success of the Imperial troops, apparently on the fom supe- 
most different lines of encounter, excite much and SiTim-^ 

... , -1 Tk • 1 • . 1 perialists. 

eager questionmg : the Roman citizens, whose "^ 
former criticisms had given place to abject admi- 
ration, attributed it all to the marvellous genius 
of Belisarius* In the Pincian Palace, however, 
the question was earnestly debated by the friends 
of the General. Upon this occasion it was that 
Belisarius expressed that opinion which has been 
already quoted^, that the superiority of the Im- 
perial army in mounted archers ^ was the cause of 
its imvarying victories over the Goths, whether 
the battles were fought by larger or smaller bodies 
of men. 

The repeated and brilliant successes of the 

* See p. 7. * iTHroTofdrat. 

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218 Roman Sorties. 

BooKV. Imperial troops were almost as embarrassing to 

"' Belisarius as to the Gothic King, though in a 

fiden^of different way. They fostered both in oflBicers and 

the impe- goldiers such an overweeninff contempt of the bar- 

nal troops. ^ . . 

barians, that now nothing would satisfy them but 
to be led forth to a regular pitched battle under 
the walls of Eome, and make an end once for all 
of the presumptuous besiegers. The method which 
Belisarius preferred, and which was far safer, was 
to wear out the barbarians by an incessant suc- 
cession of such movements as Shakespeare indi- 
cates by * alarums, excursions.' He dreaded putting 
Fortune to the test with the whole of his little 
army at once. He found, however, at last that 
to keep that army at all in hand it was necessary 
(as it had been at the battle of Sura) to yield 
to their wish in this thing ; and he indulged the 
hope that their confidence of victory might be 
one powerful factor in the process which would 
enable him to secure it. Still he would have 
made his grand attack somewhat by way of a 
surprise, but was foiled in this endeavour by the 
Prepant- information given by deserters to the Goths. At 
a pitched length, therefore, he resigned himself to fight a 
regular pitched battle with full notice on either 
side. The customary harangues were delivered 
Speech of by cach commander. Belisarius reminded his 

Belisarius. _, 

soldiers that this battle was one of their own 
seeking, and that they would have to justify the 
advice which they had ventured to give, and to 
maintain the credit of their previous victories, 

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Belisarius consents to fight a pitched Battle. 219 
by their conduct on that day. He bade them bookv 

Ch. 8. 

not spare either horse or javelin or bow in the 
coming fray, since all such losses should be abun- ^^^' 
dantly made up to them out of his military stores. 
The purport of the speech of Witigis — ^if Pro- Speech of 
copiuss account of it be not a mere rhetoncal 
exercise — was to assure his brethren in arms that 
it was no selfish care for his crown and dignity 
which made him the humble suitor for their best 
assistance on that day. *For the loss of life or 
kingship I care not; nay, I would pray to put 
off this purple robe to day if only I were assured 
that it would hang upon Gothic shoulders to- 
morrow. Even Theodahad's end seems to me an 
enviable one, since he died by Gothic hands and 
lost life and power by the same stroke. But what 
I cannot bear to contemplate is ruin falling not 
only on me but on my race. I think of the 
calamity of the Vandals, and imagine that I see 
you and your sons carried away into captivity, 
your wives suffering the last indignities from our 
implaxsable foes, myself and my wife, the grand- 
daughter of the great Theodoric, led whithersoever 
the insulting conqueror sh^l please to order. 
Think of all these things, my countrymen, and 
vow in your own hearts that you will die on this 
field of battle rather than they shall come to pass. 
If this be your determination, an easy victory is 
yours. Few in number are the enemy, and after 
all they are but Greeks and Greek-like people. 
The only thing which keeps them together is a 

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220 Roman Sorties. 

BOOK V. vain confidence derived from some recent disasters 
of ours. Be true to yourselves, and you will soon 
shatter that confidence and inflict a signal punish- 
ment upon them for all the insults that we have 
received at their hands/ 
Arrange- After this ^harauguo Witigis drew up his army 
the Gothic in line of battle, the infantry in the middle, the 
roops. ^ygjj.y Qi^ either wing. He stationed them as 
near as might be to the Gothic camps, in order 
that when the Romans were defeated, as he made 
no doubt they would be, owing to their enormous 
inferiority in numbers, their long flight to the 
shelter of their walls might be as disastrous to 
them as possible. 
DiHpofli- Belisarius on his side determined to make his 
byBeii- real attack from the Pincian and Salarian Gates. 


Double -^ti the same time a feigned attack towards the 
attack. Q-Qthic camp under Monte Mario was to be made 
from the Porta Aurelia and the neighbourhood of 
the Tomb of Hadrian, The object of this feigned 
attack was of course to prevent the large number 
of Goths on the right bank of the Tiber from 
swarming across the Milvian Bridge to the as- 
sistance of their brethren. Strict orders were, 
however, given to Valentine, who commanded the 
troops in this quarter, on no account to advance 
really within fighting distance of the enemy, but 
to harass him with a perpetual apparent oflPer of 
battle never leading to a decided result. 
The citizen* In fuither pursuanco of the same policy the 
^^^' General accepted the service of a large number 

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Plan of the Battle. 221 

of volunteers from among the mechanics of Eome, book v. 
equipped them with shield and spear, and sta- ^^'^^ 
tioned them in front of the Pancratian Gate. He ^^^' 
placed no reliance on the services of these men 
for actual fighting, utterly unused as they were 
to the art of war, but he reckoned, not without 
cause, on the eflfect which the sight of so large a 
body of men would have in preventing the Goths 
from quitting their camp under Monte Mario. 
Meanwhile, the orders to the mechanic-volunteers 
were, not to stir till they should receive the signal 
from him, a signal which he was fully determined 
never to give. — 

The battle, according to the original plan of Battietou 
Belisarius, was to be fought entirely with cavalry, battle. 
the arm in which he knew himself to be strongest, 
many of his best foot-soldiers, who were already 
well-skilled in horsemanship, having provided 
themselves with horses at the expense of the 
enemy, and so turned themselves into cavalry. 
He feared too the instability of such infantry 
as he had, and their liability to sudden panics, 
and therefore determined to keep them near to 
the fosse of the city walls, there to act simply 
as a slight support for any of the cavalry who 
might chance to be thrown into confusion. This The plan 
intention was changed at the last moment — the ^^^ " 
General was in a mood that day for receiving 
advice from all quarters — by the earnest repre- 
sentations of two valiant Asiatic highlanders, 
Piincipius a Pisidian, and Tarmutus an Isaurian, 

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222 Roman Sorties. 

BOOKV. whose brother E««raS commanded the contingent 
of those hardy mountaineers. These men besought 

Ad^^ of ^^^ ^^* further to lessen the numbers of his gal- 
r^^Tw^ lant little army by withdrawing the foot-soldiers, 
mutuB. t}je representatives of those mighty legions by 
which 'the Komans of old' had won their great- 
ness, from active service. They asserted their 
conviction that if, in recent engagements, the 
* infantry had done something less than their duty, 
the fault lay not with the common soldiers but 
with the oflScers, who insisted on being mounted, 
and who were, too often, only looking about for 
a favourable moment for flight. Thus the troops 
were discouraged, because they felt that the men 
who were giving them orders did not share their 
dangers. But if Belisarius would allow these 
horsemen officers to fight that day with the horse- 
men, and would allow them^ Principius and Tar- 
mutus, to share on foot the dangers of the men 
under their command, and with them to advance 
boldly against the enemy, they trusted with God's 
help to do some deeds against them that the 
world should wot of. Belisarius for long would 
not yield. He loved the two valiant highlanders : 
he was loth to run the risk of losing them : he 
was also loth to run the risk of losing his little 
army of foot-soldiers. At length, however, he con- 
sented. He left the smallest possible number of 
soldiers to guard, with the help of the Koman 
populace, the machines on the battlements and 
at the gates : and placing the main body of his 

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Battle on the north-east of the City, 223 

infantry under the command of Principius and book v. 
Tarmutus, he gave them orders to march behind ' 
the cavalry against the enemy. Should any ^^^' 
portion of the cavalry be put to flight they were 
to open their ranks and let them pass through, 
themselves engaging the enemy till the horsemen 
had time to re-form. 

It was felt on both sides that this was to be Battle at 
a decisive trial of strength. Witigis had put in imd Saia- 
battle array every man of his army available for "*^ 
service, leaving in the camps only the camp-fol- 
lowers and the men who were disabled by their 
wounds. Early in the morning the hostile ranks 
closed for battle. The troops in front of the 
Pincian and Salarian Gates soon got the upper 
hand of the enemy, among whose clustered masses 
their arrows fell with terrible eflPect. But the 
Gothic multitudes were too thick, and the men 
too stout-hearted for even this slaughter to pro- 
duce complete rout. As one rank of the barbarians 
was mown down, another pressed forward to supply 
its place. Thus the Eomans, who had slowly 
pressed forward, found themselves by noon close 
to the Gothic camp, but surrounded still by so 
compact a body of their foes that they began 
to feel that any pretext which would enable them 
to return in good order under the shelter of their 
walls would be a welcome thing. The heroes of 
this period of the struggle were an Isaurian 
guardsman named Athenodorus and two Cappa- 
docians, Theodoret and Georgius, who darted forth 

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224 Roman Sorties. 

BOOKv. in front of the Koman line and with their spears 

Ch. 8. 


transfixed many of the enemy. Thus again the 
men who came from the rough sides of Mount 
Taurus showed themselves conspicuous among the 
most warlike spirits of the Imperial army. 
Battle on- While this hot strife was being waged on the 

der Monte i /• -i • i • 

Mario. north-east of the city, strange events were taking 
place on the other side of the river in the 
Neronian plain under Monte Mario. Here the 
Gothic general Marcias had been- enjoined by his 
King to play a waiting game, and above all things 
to watch the Milvian Bridge in order that no 
Bomans should cross by it to succour their country- 
men. The Romans, it will be remembered, had 
received a similar order from their general, and it 
might therefore have been expected that there 
would be no battle. But as the day wore on, 
it chanced that one of the feigned assaults of the 
Roman troops was turned into a real one by the 
sudden giving way of the Gothic ranks. The 
flying Goths were unaHe to reach their camp, but 
turned and re-formed upon one of the hills in the 
neighbourhood of the Monte Mario. Among the 
Roman troops were many sailors and slaves acting 
the soldier for the first time, and ignorant of 
discipline. Possibly, though this is not expressly 
stated, some of the mechanic crew who were 
stationed in front of the Pancratian Gate joined 
in the pursuit. At any rate the successful Romans 
soon became quite unmanageable by their leaders. 
The loudly-shouted commands of their general, 

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The Battle an the Neronian Plain. 226 

Valentine, were unheard or disregarded. They book v. 
did not concern themselves with the slaughter ^°'^' 
of the flying Goths. They did not press on to ^^^' 
seize and cross the Milvian Bridge, in which case 
their opportune assistance to Belisarius might 
almost have enabled him to end the war at a 
stroke. They only occupied themselves with the 
plunder of the Gothic camp, where silver vessels 
and many other precious things (evidences of the 
enriching efiFect of the long peace on the Ostro- 
gothic warriors) attracted their greedy eyes. The 
natural consequence followed. The Goths, so long 
left unmolested, and leisurely re-forming on Monte 
Mario, looked on for a time quietly at the plunder 
of their camp. Then taking heart from their long 
reprieve, and reading the signs of disorder in 
the hostile forces, they dashed on with a savage 
yell, leaped the ramparts of their camp, and scat- 
tered the invaders of it like chaff before the wind. 
Silver vessels and golden trappings, all the spoils 
for the sake of which the greedy crew had sacrificed 
the chance of a splendid victory, were dashed in 
terror to the ground, while the slaves and sailors 
dressed up in military garb fled on all sides in utter 
rout and confusion from the camp, or fell by hun- 
dreds under the Gothic sword. The day s fighting 
on the Neronian Plain had been a series of blunders 
on both sides, but the eventual victory rested with 
the side which made fewest, Marcias and his Goths. 

At the same time the fortunes of the Imperial 
army on the north-east of the city began to 

VOL. rv. Q 

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226 Roman Sorties. 

BOOKV. decline. The Goths, driven to bay at the rampart 
' '^' of their camp, formed a testudo with their shields 

Geiwrai ^^^ succceded in withstanding the Roman on- 

fm'**erili'* set, and in slaying many men and many horses. 

army. The smallness of the attacking army became 
more and more terribly apparent both to itself 
and the enemy; and at length the right wing 
of the Gothic cavalry, bending round, diarged 
the Eomans in flank. They broke and fled. The 
cavalry reached the ranks of the supporting infan- 
try, who did not support them, but turned and 
fled likewise; and soon the whole Eoman army, 
horse and foot, generals and common soldiers, were 
in headlong flight toward the city walls* 

Death of Like Nolau at the charge of Balaklava, Prin- 

Principius , • 

and Tar- cipius and Tarmutus atoned by a brave death 
for the disastrous counsels which in all good faith 
they had given to the General. With a little knot 
of faithful friends they for a time arrested the 
headlong torrent of the Gothic pursuit, and the 
delay thus caused saved numberless lives in the 
Imperial army. Then Principius fell, hacked to 
pieces by countless wounds, and forty-two of his 
brave foot-soldiers fell around him. Tarmutus 
with two Isaurian javelins in his hand long kept 
the enemy at bay. He found his strength failing 
him, and was just about to sink down in exhaustion, 
when a charge of his brother Ennes, at the head 
of some of his cavalry, gave him a few moments' 
relief. Then plucking up heart again, he shook 
himself loose from his pursuers and ran at full speed 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Repulse of the Imperial Troops. 227 

(he was ever swift of foot) towards the walls of book v. 

Ch. 8. 

the City- He reached the Pincian Gate, pierced 
with many wounds and bedabbled with gore, but 
still holding his two Isaurian javelins in his hand. 
At the gate he fell down fainting. His comrades 
thought him dead, but laid him on a shield and 
bore him into the City. He was not dead, how- 
ever : he still breathed ; but two days afterwards 
he expired of his wounds, leaving a name memor- 
able to the whole army, but especially to his trusty 
Isaurian comrades. 

The soldiers who had already entered the City The fugi- 

^ tives under 

shut the gates with a dash, and refused to let the shelter 
the fugitives enter, lest the Goths should enter iiatae. 
with them. Panic-stricken, and with scarcely a 
thought of self-defence, the defeated soldiers hud- 
dled up under the shelter of the walls, their spears 
all broken or cast away in the flight, their bows 
useless by reason of the dense masses in which 
they were packed together. The Goths appeared 
in menacing attitude at the outer edge of the fosse. 
Had they poured down across it, as they were at first 
minded to, they might have well-nigh annihilated 
the army of Belisarius. But when they saw the 
citizens and the soldiers within the City clustering 
more thickly upon the walls, afraid of the terrible 
balistae they retired, indulging only in the luxury 
of taunts and epithets of barbarian scorn hurled 
at the beaten army. 

The events of the day had fully justified the 
intuitive judgment of Belisarius. The besieged, 

Q 2 

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228 Roman Sorties. 

BOOK v. though terrible in Bkirmishes and sudden ex- 
^"•^' cursions, were too few in number for a pitxjhed 
^^^* battle. * The fight/ says Procopius, * which began 
at the camps of the barbarians ended in the trench 
and close to the walls of the City^' 
Theimpe- After this disastrous day the Imperial troops 
wvc^Tto reverted to their old method of unexpected sallies 
foraer by Small bodies of troops, and practised it with 
'***^^"* much of their former success. There is something 
of a Homeric, something of a mediaeval character 
in the stories which Procopius tells us of this 
period of the siege. No masses of troops were 
engaged on either side. -Infantry were unused, 
save that a few bold and fleet-footed soldiers gene- 
rally accompanied the horsemen. Single combats 
between great champions on horseback on either 
side were the order of the day. 

Thus in one sally the general Bessas transfixed 
three of the bravest of the Gothic horsemen in suc- 
cession with his spear, and with little aid from his 
followers put the rest of their squadron to flight. 
Brave Thus also Chorsamantis, a Hun and one of the body- 
chona- guard of Belisarius, in a charge on the Neronian 
man a. YhXn pursued too far, and was separated from his 
comrades. Seeing this the Goths closed round him, 
but he, standing on his defence, slew the foremost 
of their band. . They wavered and fled before him. 
Drawing near to the walls of their camp and 
feeling that the eyes of their fellows were upon 
them, they turned, for very shame that so many 
^ Here ends the First Bopk of the Gothic War of Procopius. 

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A Drunken Champion. 22a 

should be chaaed by one. Again he slew their bookv 
bmvest, and again they fled. Thus he pursued 
them up to the very gates of the camp, and then 
returned across the plain unharmed. Soon after, 
in another combat, a Gothic arrow pierced his left 
thigh, penetrating even to the bone. The army 
surgeons insisted upon a rest of several days after 
so grave an injury, but the sturdy barbarian bore 
with impatience so long a seclusion from the 
delights of battle, and was often heard to murmur, 
'I will make those Gothic fellows pay for my 
wounded leg.' Before long the wound healed and 
he was out of the doctors' hands. One day at the 
noontide meal, according to his usual custom, he 
became intoxicated, and determined that he would 
sally forth alone against the enemy, and, as he 
said over and over again to himself in the thick 
tones of a drunkard, ' make them pay for my leg.' 
Biding down to the Pincian Gate he declared that 
he was sent by the General to go forth against the 
enemy. The sentinels, not daring to challenge 
the assertion of one of the body-guard of Beli- 
sarius, and perhaps not perceiving his drunken 
condition, allowed him to pass through the gate. 
When the Goths saw a solitary figure riding forth 
from the city their first thought was * Here comes 
a deserter,' but the bent bow and flying arrows 
of Ghorsamantis soon undeceived them. Twenty 
of them came against him, whom he easily dis- 
persed. He rode leisurely forward to the camp. 
The Bomans from the ramparts, not recognising 

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230 ' Raman Sorties. 

BOOKV. who he was, took him for some madman. Soon 

Ch. 8. 


he was surrounded by the outstreaming Goths, 
and after performing prodigies of valour fell dead 
amid a ring of slaughtered enemies, leaving a name 
to be celebrated for many a day in the camp-fire 
songs of his savage countiymen. 

In reading this and many similar stories told 
us by Procopius we are of course bound to re- 
member that we do not hear the Gothic accounts 
of their own exploits, accounts which might some- 
times exhibit a Gothic champion chasing scores 
of flying Byzantines. But after making all need- 
ful abatement on this account, we shall probably 
be safe in supposing that the balance of hardihood, 
of wild reckless daring, was on the side of the 
Imperial army. Though the members of it called 
themselves Komans they were really for the most 
part, like Chorsamantis, barbarians, fresher from 
the wilderness than the Ostrogothic soldiers, every 
one of whom had been bom and bred amid the 
delights of Italy. And the stem stuff of which 
the Imperial soldiers were made was tempered 
and pointed by what still remained of Boman 
discipline, and driven by the matchless skill of 
Belisarius straight to the heart of the foe. 
Constan- On another occasion, the general Constantine, 
his Huns, perhaps desiring to vie with the achievements 
of his rival Bessas, sallied out with a small body 
of Huns from the Porta Aurelia and found himself 
surrounded by a large troop of the enemy. To 
preserve himself from being attacked on all sides 

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Constantine and his Huns. 231 

he retreated with his men into one of the narrow book v. 
streets opening on Nero's Stadium ^ Here his °' 
men, dismounting, discharged their arrows at the ^^^' 
enemy, who menaced them from the opposite ends 
of the street. The Goths thought, * Their quivers 
must soon be empty, and then we will rush in 
upon them from both sides and destroy them.' 
But such was the deadly effect of the Hunnish 
missiles that the Goths found before long that 
their number was reduced more than one half. 
Night was closing in. They were seized with 
panic and fled. The pursuing Huns still aimed 
their deadly arrows at the backs of the flying 
foe. Thus, after effecting a frightful slaughter 
among the Goths, Constantine with his 'Massa- 
getic' horsemen returned in safety to Rome that 

At another time it befell that Peranius, the TheRoman 
general who came from the slopes of Caucasus, Goth in 
headed a sortie from the Salarian Gate. It was magazine. 
at first successful, and the Goths fled before the 

^ The exact position of this ' Stadium of Nero ' does not 
seem to he clearly ascertained. Canina (Edifizi, iii. 54) makes 
it the same huilding as the Cajanum or Stadium of Caligula 
and places it on the site of the Vatican Palace. We might 
have thought this too lofty a position for a huilding which was 
<v Nc^KOff ircd/^: hut FrocopiuB seems to apply this term 
(equivalent to Campus Neronianvs) to a large tract of country 
on the right hank of the Tiher, stretching from the Ponte 
Molle to St. Peter's. 

' Procopius, De Bell. Gk>tth. ii. i. This is one of the many 
passages which show that Procopius uses the name Mcusagetas 
as equivalent to Huns. 

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232 Raman Sorties. 

BOOKV. Romans. Then, when tiie sun was going down, 
the tide of battle turned. An Imperial soldier 
flying headlong before the Goths fell unawares 
into an underground vault prepared by * the Ro- 
mans of old' as a magazine for com. Uiic^ble 
to climb the steep sides of the vault, and afraid 
to call for help, he passed all night in that con- 
finement, in evil case. Next day another Roman 
sortie, more successful than the last, sent the 
Goths flying over the same tract of country, and 
lol a Gothic soldier fell headlong into the same 
vault. The two companions in misfortune began 
to consult as to their means of escape, and bound 
themselves by solemn vows each to be as careful 
for his companion's safety as his own. Then they 
both sent up a tremendous shout, which was 
heard, as it chanced, by a band of Gothic soldiers. 
They came, they peeped over the mouth of the 
vault, and asked in Gothic tongue who ever was 
shouting from that darksome hole. The Goth 
alone replied, told his tale, and begged his com- 
rades to deliver him from that horrible pit. They 
let down ropes into the vault, the ropes were 
made fast, they hauled up a man out of the 
pit, and to their astonishment a Roman soldier 
stood before them. The Roman — ^who had saga- 
ciously argued that if his companion came up first 
no Gothic soldiers would trouble themselves to 
haul up him — explained the strange adventure 
and besought them to lower the ropes again for 
their own comrade. They did so, and when the 

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Ch. 8. 

The friendly Enemies. 233 

Goth was drawn up he told them of his plighted book v. 
faith, and entreated them to let his companion in 
danger go free. They complied, and the Boman 
returned unharmed to the City. As Ariosto sings 
of Ferraii and Binaldo, when those fierce enemies 
agreed to roam together in search of AngeKca> 
who was beloved by both of them, — 

'O gran bont^ de' cavalieri antiqai! '' 
Eran rivali, eran di fb diversi, 
£ si sentian degli aspri colpi iniqui, 
Per tutta la persona anco dolersi; 
E pur per selve oscure, e calli obliqui 
Insieme van, senza aspetto aversi^' 

A breath of the age of chivalry seems wafted over 
the savage battle-field, as we read of the vow 
between the two deadly enemies in the vault 
so loyally observed, and we half persuade ourselves 
that we perceive another aura from that still 
future age when men everywhere, recognising that 
they have all fallen into the same pit of ruin and 
longing for deliverance, shall listen to the voice of 
the Divine Keconciler, * Sirs, ye are brethren : why 
do ye wrong one to another T 

The month of June was now begun. TheButiiaiine 

brings PftY 

combatants had reached the third month of the to the &. 
siege and had finished two years of the war, A 

^ ' Oh loyal knights of that long vanished day I 

Their faiths were two, they wooed one woman's smile, 
And still they felt rude tokens of their fray, 

The blows which each on other rained erewhile : 
Tet through dark woods by paths that seemed to stray 
They rode, and each nor feared nor harboured guile.' 

(Orlando Furioso, i. 22.) 

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234 Roman Sorties. 

BOOKV. certain Euthalius had landed at Tarracina^ bring- 
ing from Byzantium some much-needed treasure 

skimish ^^^ ^^ P^^ ^^ ^^ soldiers. In order to secure 
to cover {q^ him and for his escort of loo men a safe 

hiB en- 

<«»<»• entrance at nightfall into the city, Belisarius 
harassed the enemy through the long • summer's 
day with incessant expectations of attack, ex- 
pectations which, after the soldiers had taken 
their mid-day meal, were converted into realities. 
As usual the attacks were made on both sides, 
from the Pincian Gate and over the Neronian 
Plain« At the former place the Komans were 
commanded by three of Belisarius's guards, the 
Persian Artasines, Buchas the Hun, and Cutila 
the Thracian. The tide of war rolled backwards 
and forwards many times, and many succours 
poured forth both from the City and from the 
Gothic camp, over both of which the shouts and 
the din of battle resounded. At length the Bomans 
stoicigm of prevailed, and drove back their foes. In this 
Araes. action the splendid contempt of pain shown by 
Cutila and by a brother-guardsman Arzes greatly 
impressed the mind of Procopius, Cutila had been 
wounded by a javelin which lodged in his skull. 
He still took part in the fight, and at sunset rode 
back with his comrades to the city, the javelin 
nodding to and fro in his head with every move- 
ment of his body. Arzes had received a Gothic 
arrow at the angle of the eye and nose, which 
came with such violence that it almost penetrated 
* On the Appian Way, sixty-two miles from Rome. 

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The Treasure brought into Rome. 235 

to the nape of his neck. He too rode back to book v. 
Kome, like Cutila apparently heedless of the weapon ^^'^' 
which was shaking in the wound. ^^^' 

Meanwhile things were going ill with Martin Exploits of 
and Valerian, who commanded the Imperial troops 
on the Neronian Plain. They were surroimded by 
large numbers of the enemy, and seemed on the 
point of being overwhelmed by them. At this 
crisis — it was now growing late — an opportune 
charge under Buchas the Hun, withdrawn for this 
purpose from the sortie on the other side of the 
city, saved the day. Buchas himself performed 
prodigies of valour. For a long time he alone, 
though still but a stripling, kept twelve of the 
enemy at bay. At length one Goth was able to 
deal him a slight wound under the right arm-pit, 
and another, a more serious wound, transversely, 
through the muscles of the thigh. By this time, 
however, he and his men had restored the fortunes 
of the Imperial troops. Valerian and Martin rode 
up with speed, scattered the barbarians who sur- 
rounded Buchas, and led him home between them, 
each holding one of his reins. 

The object of all this bloody skirmishing was Euthaiiug 
attained. Euthalius with the treasure, creeping treMur© 
along the Appian Way, stole at nightfall, un- into the 
perceived, into the City. When all were returned 
within the walls, the wounded heroes were of 
course attended to; and Procopius, insatiable in 
his desire to widen his experience of human life, 
seems to have visited the surgical wards. The 

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236 Roman Sorties. 

BOOK V. case of Arzes, who was looked upon as one of the 
bravest men in the household of Belisarius, gave 

*^^* the surgeons much anxious thought. To save the 
sight of the eye they held to be altogether im- 
possible ; but moreover they feared that the lace- 
ration of the multitude of nerves through which 
the arrow must be drawn, if it were extracted. 
The Ufa would cause the death of the patient. A physician, 
Mved. Theoctistus by name, pressed his finger on the 
nape of his neck and asked if that gave him pain. 
When Arzes replied that it did, Theoctistus gave 
him the glad assurance, * Then we shall be able 
to save your life and your eye too/ At once 
cutting off" the feather end of the arrow where it 
projected from the face, the surgeons dissected the 
comparatively unsensitive tissues at the end of 
the neck till they grasped the triangular point of 
the arrow, and drawing it out endways gave the 
patient but little pain and left him with his eye 
Death of uuinjurcd and his &ce unscarred. The cases of 
BuchftB. Cutila and Buchas terminated less favourably. 
When the javelin was drawn from the head of 
the former he fainted. Inflammation of the mem- 
branes of the brain ^ set in, followed by delirium, 
and he died not many days after. Buchas also 
died after three days, of the terrible hemorrhage 
from his wounded thigh. The physicians assured 
Procopius that had the lance penetrated straight 
in, his life might have been preserved, but the 
transverse wound was fatal. 

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Hospital Scenes. 237 

The deaths of these heroes filled the Boman book v. 
army with sorrow, which was only mitigated by °' 
the sounds of lamentation arising from the Gothic ^^J* 
camp. These bewailings, not previously heard ^•^^^ 
after much fiercer encounters, were due to the 
exalted rank of the warriors who had fallen by 
the sword of Buchas. 

Such were some of the sallies and skirmishes 
which occurred in this memorable siege. Sixty-nine 
encounters in all took place, and Frocopius wisely 
remarks that it is not needful for him to give 
the details of all of them. He himself, aa we shall 
soon see, left the scene of action for a time ; and 
for some months of the remainder of the siege 
we miss the minute descriptive touches (though 
some readers may find them tedious) which reveal 
the personal presence of the historian in the earlier 
acts of the great drama. 

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BOOKV. Sources:— 

Gh 9 

L-L Procopius, De Bello Gotthico, ii. 3-10. 

537- For Papal history, the so-called Anastasius Bibliothe- 

carius, Vita Silverii (apud Muratori, iii. 129-130), and the 
Breviariam of Liberatus, cap. xxii. 

The Cam- In the terrible struggle of the Thirty Years' 
famine, War there was a memorable interlude when 
' ^*' Gustavus Adolphus and Wallenstein watched 
one another for eleven weeks before the walls of 
Nuremberg, the Swede in vain attempting to 
storm the intrenchments of the Bohemian, the 
Bohemian hoping that famine and pestilence would 
force the Swede to move off and leave Nuremberg 
to his mercy. That 'Campaign of Famine' was 
virtually a drawn game. Gustavus was forced 
to evacuate his position, but Wallenstein's army 
was so weakened by hunger and disease that he 
had to leave the famine-stricken city unattacked. 
poubtfni Somewhat similar to this was the position of 
thecontert. the two armies that now struggled for the pos- 
session of Bome. It was clear that the Goths 
could not carry the defences of the City by 
simply rushing up to them in undisciplined valour 

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Limos and Loimos, 239 

with their rude engines of war, and seeking to book v. 
swarm over them. It was equally clear that — '— 
the little band of Belisarius could not beat off ^^^' 
the enemy by a pitched battle on the plains of 
the Campagna. The siege must therefore become 
a mere blockade, and the question was which party 
in the course of this blockade would be soonest 
exhausted. In the covirse of the Crimean War 
a Kussian diplomatist uttered the famous saying, 
*My master has three good generals, and their 
names are January, February, and March.* Even 
so in the dread conflict that was impending, two 
spectral forms, each marshalling a grim and 
shadowy army, were to stalk around the walls 
of the City and the six camps of the Goths. 
They would fight (5n both sides, but the terrible 
question for Belisarius and for Witigis was, to 
which side would they lend the more effectual 
aid. The names of these two invisible champions 
were Limos and Loimos (Famine and Pestilence). 

Kecognising the changed character of the siege, The inter- 
Witigis took one step which he would have done the aque- 
well to have taken three months before, towards fied by the 
completing the blockade of Kome. About three and 
a-half miles from the city^ there is a point now 
marked by a picturesque mediaeval tower called 
Torre Fiscale, where two great lines of aqueducts 
cross one another, run for about 500 yards side by 

^ ProcopiuB says fifty stadia, bat his memory has clearly played 
him Mee. Torre Fiscale is a little less than thirty stadia from 

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240 The Blockade. 

BOOKV. side, and then cross again. The lofby arcade of 
the Anio Yetus and Claudia is one of these lines, 
running at first to the south of its companion, 
then north, and then south again. The other is 
the arcade of the Marcian, Tepulan, and Julian 
waters, which has been used by Pope Sixtus V 
as the support of his hastily-constructed aqueduct, 
the Aqua Felice. Even now, in their ruined state, 
these long rows of lofty arches^ crossing and re- 
crossing one another, wear an aspect of solemn 
strength ; and were a battle to be fought over this 
ground to-day they might play no unimportant 
part in the struggle of the contending armies. 
Here then the Goths, filling up the lower arches 
with day and rubble, fashioned . for themselves 
a fprtress, rude perchance, but of considerable 
strength. They placed in it a garrison of 70cx> 
men, who commanded not only the Via Latina 
(which was absolutely dose to the aqueducts), but 
also the Via Appia^ (which runs nearly parallel 
to the Latina at about a mile's distance), so efiec- 
tually that the transport of provisions to Bome 
along either of those roads seems to have become 
practically impossible. 

When the citizens saw these two great roads 

^ ProcopiuB says that the intersection of the aqueducts was 
between the Appian and Latin Ways. This, however, must be 
a slight lapse of memory on his part, like his overstatement of 
the distance from Rome, since Torre Fiscale is actually upon 
the Via Latina or quite close to it. S. Lanciani assures me 
that there is no place precUely answering to the description by 
ProcopiuB at all suitable for the purpose. 

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Sibylline Prophecies, 241 

to the south blocked, dificouragement began to fill book v. 
their hearts. They had long looked forward to "'^' 
the month of Quintilis^ — that month which also j^^' 
bore the name of the great Julius, and in which ragenient 

^ in the city. 

they had celebrated for a thousand years the 
victory of the Lake Regillus — as the month of 
their deliverance from the Goths; and indeed asibyiiine 
prophecy of the Sibyl was in circulation among ^^^ ^^' 
the remnant of the Patricians which intimated 
not very obscurely that this should come to pass 2. 

' July. 

' ' And in Eome certain of the Patricians produced oracles Prooopius 
of the Sibyl affirming that the danger of the city should con- gnj*rH«e 
tinue only till the month of July. For then a king was to prophecies, 
arise for the Romans, by whose means the Getic fear was to be 
removed in future from Eome. But the Getae mean the Goths* 
This was how the oracle ran : — 

Quintili Mense yeuio ? 

NH2I rP 20ENmiHY ETI 20 mAmETA * 

(De B. G. i. 24; p. 117.) 

The absolute unintelligibility of these lines probably arises 
from their being Latin words copied and corrupted by a series 
of Greek scribes who did not understand Latin. The xai's are 
perhaps put in by Procopius himself to connect some frag- 
mentary utterances. We seem able to distinguish Quintili 
Mense at the beginning, but of the words ' Boma nihil Geticum 
metuet/ which should come at the end, I cannot see any trace. 

Procopius goes on to explain that Quintilis meant July, but, 
as he says, the whole prophecy was fallacious, for no deliyerance 
was wrought in that month; no king arose. to save Rome; 
and afterwards she suffered as much 'Getic terror* under 
Totila as she had ever done under Witigis. But, he continues, 
it is quite impossible to understand any prophecy of the Sibyl 
till after the event. For she observes no order in her predic- 
tions, but rushes about so wildly from Libya to Persia and from 
Bome to Assyria, and then from Assyria darts off so strangely 


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242 The Blockade. 

BOOKV. Yet Quintilis with its burning heat had come, 
°' was passing away, and still the yellow-haired 

FM^^e barbarians clustered about the walls. So long as 
beginning. ^^ crops stood in the Campagna some slight 
mitigation of the impending famine was afforded 
by bands of daring horsemen who rode forth at 
nightfall, hurriedly reaped the standing ears, laid 
them on their horses' backs, and galloped back to 
Bome to sell the furtive harvest at a high price 
to the wealthy citizens. But now even this re- 
source was beginning to fail, and all the citizens, 
rich and poor alike, were being reduced to live 
on the grass which, as Procopius remarks, always, 
in winter and summer alike, covers with its green 
robe the land of the Romans. For animal food 
the resource of the moment was to make a kind 
of sausage out of the flesh of the army-mules 
which had died of disease. Thus was the General, 
Limo8y beginning to show himself in great force 
on the side hostile to Bome. 
Depnta- Bclisarius, who was already sorely harassed by 
thecitizeni the daily increasing difficulties of commissariat, 
riui. had the additional vexation of receiving, one day, 
an embassy from the hunger-stricken Bomans. 
They told him in plain words that the patriotism 
and the loyalty to the Empire, on which they 
prided themselves when they opened to him the 

to describe the sufferings of Britain, that it is quite beyond the 
• human intellect to understand her meaning till time has made 
it clear. This last hint that the Sibylline prophecies included 
Britain is important (jcai iraXiy a/i^i *Ptt>/Aaioif fiatn-fvofieini irpoXryri 
ta Bptrrap&v vdBfj). 

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Roman Deputation to Belisarius. 243 

gates of the city, now seemed to them the ex- book v. 
tremity of foolishness. They felt that they were ^'^' 
'Cursed with the burden of a granted prayer,' ^^^* 

and longed for nothing so much as to be put back 
into the same happy state they were in, before a 
soldier from Byzantium showed his face among 
them. But that now could never be. Their 
estates in the country round were wasted. The 
city was so shut up that none of the necessaries 
of life could enter it. Many of their fellow-citizens 
were already dead ; and upon these they thought 
with envy, wishing that they could be laid quietly 
underground beside them. Hunger made them 
bold to speak thus to the mighty Belisarius. 
Hunger made every other evil that they had ever 
endured seem light. The thought of death by 
hunger made any other mode of death seem 
a delightful prospect. In one word, let him lead 
them forth against the enemy, and they promised 
that he should not find them fail from his side 
in the stress of battle. 

With a haughty smile and a profession of equa- Anawer of 
nimity which masked his real discouragement, 
Belisarius replied : * I have expected all the events 
that have occurred in this siege, and among them 
some such proposal as this of yours. I know what 
the populace is ; fickle, easily discouraged, always 
ready to suggest impossible enterprises, and to 
throw away real advantages. I have no intention, 
however, of complying with your counsels, and so 
pacrificing the interests of my master and your 

E 2 

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244 The Blockade. 

BOOK V. lives as well We do not make war in this way 
^"*^' by a series of ill-considered, spasmodic efTorts. 
537- 'War is a matter of calm and serious calculation, 
and my calculations of the game teU me that to 
wait is our present policy. You are anxious to 
hazard all upon a single throw of the dice, but 
it is not my habit to take any such short cuts 
to success. You announce that you are willing 
to go with me to battle. Pray when did you 
learn your drill ? Have you never heard that a 
certain amount of practice is necessary to enable 
men to fight ; and do you imagine that the enemy 
will be kind enough to wait while you are learning 
how to use your weapons? Still, I thank you 
for your readiness to fight, and I praise the martial 

Beinforee- spirit which now animates you. To explain to 

mentspro- . t . 

miwjd. you some of my reasons for delay, I will inform 
you that the largest armament ever sent forth by 
the Empire has been collected by Justinian out 
of every land, and is now covering the Ionian 
Gulf and the Campanian shore. In a few days 
I trust they will be with us, relieving your 
necessities by the supplies which they will bring, 
and buryiDg the barbarians under the multitude 
of their darts. Now retire. I forgive you for the 
impatience which you have shown, and I proceed 
to my arrangements for hastening the arrival of 
the reinforcements.' 

Having with these boastful words revived the 
spirits of the Bomans, the General despatched the 
trusty Procopius to Naples to find out what truth 

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Procopius and Antonina in Naples, 245 

there might be in the rumours of coming help, book v. 
The historian set out at nightfall, escorted by the ^ ^' 
guardsman Mundilas with a small body of horse. p,J^' 
The little party stole out of the Porta San Paolo, ^*^*^®^ 
escaped the notice of the Gothic garrison at Torre 
Fiscale, and felt themselves, before long, past the 
danger of pursuit by the barbarians. Procopius 
. then dismissed his escort and proceeded un- 
attended to Naples. Soon the General's wife Antonina 
Antonina followed him thither, under the escort*'^ ^^ 
of Martin and Trajan, partly in order that Beli- 
sarius might know that she was in a place of 
safety, but also that her considerable adminis- 
trative talents might be employed in organising 
expeditions of relief. Certainly they did not find 
that vast Byzantine host darkening all the bays 
of Magna Graecia of which Belisarius had bragged 
to the Boman populace. But they did. find in 
Campania a considerable number of unemployed 
cavalry^ ; they also found that it was possible 
safely to diminish some of the Campanian and 
Apulian garrisons, and above all, as the Bomans 
had command of the sea, it was easy to collect 
a goodly number of well-loaded provision-ships. 
Procopius alone, before he was joined by Antonina, 
had forwarded five hundred soldiers to Bome, 
together with a great number of provision-ships, 
which possibly unloaded their cargoes at Ostia. 

^ I do not quite understand what Procopius means when he 
says (p. 159) that these men fj wirtav <l>vkaKrjs htxa 1j akkov 
Sroifow ivrm/Ba \§Ktiift6ai, 

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246 The Blockade. 

BOOK V. During the time, probably lasting four months 

' -!_ (July to November), that Procopius was engaged 

The^Moeaic ^^ ^^^ important mission, we miss (as has been 
dori^^ already remarked) all the minutely graphic touches 
of his pen as to the siege of Bome, and these 
are not compensated by much that is interesting 
as to his stay at Neapolis. He saw there the 
remains of a fine mosaic picture of Theodoric 
which had been set up in that monarch's reign^ 
Apparently the cement with which the little 
coloured stones were fastened to the wall was 
badly made. The head had fallen shortly before 
Theodoric^s death ; eight years after, the breast 
and belly had fallen, and Athalaric had died a 
few days afterward. The fall of the part repre- 
senting the loins had preceded only by a little 
space the murder of Amalasuntha. And now the 
legs and feet had also fallen, evidently showing 
that the whole Gothic monarchy was shortly to 
come to an end, 
^**^*^<^^^ It was at this time also that Procopius studied 
Vesuvius, the volcanic phenomena of Vesuvius, whose sullen 
caprices he describes very much in the lan- 
guage that would be used by a modem traveller. 
When he was there the mountain was bellowing 
in its well-known savage style, but had not yet 
begun to fling up its lava-stream ; though this 
was daily expected. The upper part was exces- 
sively steep, the lower densely wooded. In the 
summit there was a cave so deep that it seemed 
* i. 24 (p. 117). 

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Mount Vesuvius. 247 

to reach down to the very roots of the moun- book v. 
tain, and in that cave, if one dared to bend ^^'^' 
over and look in, one could see the fire. People ^^^' 
still kept alive the remembrance of the great 
eruption of 472^, even as they now speak with 
awe of the eruption which occurred exactly 
fourteen centuries later, and point out to the 
traveller the wide-wasting desolation caused by 
the *lava di settanta due/ In that earlier eruption 
the light volcanic stones were carried as far as 
Constantinople, so alarming the citizens that (as 
was mentioned in the last volume 2) an annual 
ceremony (something like the Kogations in the 
Church at Vienne) was instituted for deliverance 
from this peril. By another eruption the stones 
were thrown as far as Tripoli in Africa. But 
Vesuvius upon the whole had not an evil repu- 
tation. The husbandmen had observed that when 
it was in a state of activity their crops of all kinds 
were more abundant than in other years : and the 
fine pure air of the mountain was deemed so con- 
ducive to health that physicians sent consumptive 
patients to dwell upon its flanks. 

Leaving Procopius and Antonina at Naples, we Beiisarius 
return with their escorts to Home. Great joyhS^nthe 
was brought to the citizens when Mundilas re-^^^" 
ported that the Appian Way was practically 
clear by night, the Goths not venturing to stir 
far fi-om their aqueduct fortress after sunset. 

^ The date is fixed by Marcellinus Comes (Boncalli, ii. 296). 
■ Vol. iii. p. 455. 

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24S The Blockade. 

BOOKv. Belisarius hence inferred that while still post- 
' poning a general engagement he might adopt a 
^^^* somewhat bolder policy with the enemy, a policy 
which would make them besieged as well as 
besiegers. Martin and Trajan, after they had 
escorted Antonina on the road to Naples, were 
directed to take up their quarters at Tarracina. 
Gontharis and a band of Herulians occupied the 
yet nearer post of Albano, situated, like Tarracina, 
on the Appian Way, but at only one-fourth of the 
distance from Borne ^ 

TivoH Albano, it is true, was before long taken by the 

occupied. , , 

Goths, but the general policy of encompassing, 
harassing, and virtually besieging the besiegers 
remained successful Magnus, one of the generals 
of cavalry, and Sinthues, another of the brave 
guardsmen of Belisarius, were sent up the Anio 
valley to Tibur. They occupied and repaired the 
old citadel which stood where Tivoli now stands, 
surromided by the steaming cascades of Anio, 
and, from this coign of vantage, by their frequent 
excursions grievoudy harassed the barbarians, 
whose reserves were perhaps quartered not far 
from the little town. In one of these forays 
Sinthues had the sinews of his right hand severed 
by a spear-thrust, and was thus disabled from 
actual fighting ever after. 
BasUioaof On the southern side of Bome the Basilica of 
occupied. St. Paul, conncctcd by its long colonnade with 
the Ostian Gate of the city (where stands the 
* Fourteen miles instead of sixty-two. 

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Malaria in the Gothic Camps. 249 

pyramid of Caius Cestius), and protected on one book v. 
side by the stream of the Tiber, furnished a ^°'^' 
capital stronghold, but one which, from religious ^^^' 
reasons, the Goths had hitherto refrained from 
including in their sphere of operations ^ The 
orthodox Belisarius was troubled with no such 
scruples. All the Huns in his army — ^the Huns 
were still heathen — ^were sent thither under the 
command of Valerian to form a camp between 
the Basilica and the river. Here they could both 
obtain forage for their own horses and grievously 
interfere with the foraging excursions of the 
Goths from their fortress at Torre Fiscale. In 
truth, hunger, as the result of all these operations 
of Belisarius, was now beginning to tell severely 
on the unwieldy Gothic host. And not Hunger Pestilence 
only : the other great general, Pestilence, began to Gothic 
lay his hand heavily on the barbarians. He was 
present in all their camps, but in none more ter- 
ribly than in the new one between the Aqueducts. 
At length that stronghold had to be abandoned, 
and the dwindled remnant of its defenders returned 
to the camps nearer Bome. The deadly malaria and among 
had communicated itself also to the Huns in their 
trenches by S. Paolo, and they too returned to 
Bome. Already- we seem to perceive in the sixth 
century the phenomenon with which we are so 

* *To neither of the Apostles' temples during the whole 
period of the war was any unkind act done by the Goths, but 
all the accustomed sacred rites continued to be performed in 
them by the priests' (p. i6o). 

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250 The Blockade. 

BOOK V. familiar in the nineteenth, that the malaria is more 
^ "•^' fatal in the solitary Campagna than in the crowded 
537- city. 

Return of So the autumn wore on, both armies suffering 

to Rome, terrible privations, but each hoping to outlast the 
other. Probably about the month of October, 
Antonina returned to her fond and anxious hus- 
band. At least, on the i8th of November^ we 
find her taking part in a strange transaction, the 
particulars of which are preserved for us with 
dramatic vividness by the old Papal biographer. 
To understand it we must turn back a page or 
two in the tedious history of the Monophysite 

Papal controversy. It will be remembered that the 
venerable Pope Agapetus during his visit to Con- 
stantinople in 536 had convicted Anthiraus, the 
Byzantine Patriarch, of Monophysite heresy, had 
brought about his deposition from his see, and had 

Theodora cousccrated Mcunas in his room. The Empress 

deBires the ^ ^ 

reetoration Thcodora, who clung to her Monophysite creed 
mu8. as passionately as if it had been some new form 

* The deposition of Silverius which is related here is placed 
by Procopius at an earlier date. He describes it in the 25th 
chapter of his First Book, and in the/offomn^ chapter recounts 
the events of the 4i8t day of the siege (about 13th April, 537). 
But against this has to be set the very precise testimony of 
Anastasius Bibliothecarius, who puts the death of Agapetus on 
the 22nd April, 536, accession of Silverius 8th June in the 
same year, duration of his pontificate one year, five months, 
eleven days, thus bringing his deposition down to x8th Novem- 
ber, 537 (see Clinton's Fasti Bomani, pp. 767 and 769). Against 
these apparently precise dates of the Papal biographer I do not 
think that the mere recollections of Procopius, writing after an 
interval of thirteen years, ought to prevail. 

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Return of Antonina. 251 

of sensual gratification, set her heart on the re- book v. 

versal of this deposition ; and seeing the influence f !_ 

exerted over her husband's mind by the successors ^^^* 
of St. Peter, determined that Anthimus should be 
recalled by the mediation of the Roman Pontiff. 
To the restless and intriguing intellect of the 
Empress the torrents of noble blood which were 
being shed in desperate conflict round the walls 
of the Eternal City meant merely that she was 
a little nearer to or a little further from the 
accomplishment of her project for having her own 
Bishop reinstated in his see. With this view she 
sent letters to the new Pope, Silverius, urging 
bim to pay a speedy visit to Constantinople, or, 
failing in that act of courtesy, at least to restore 
Anthimus to his old dignity. Silverius, when he 
read the letters, said, * Now I know that this woman 
will compass my death ; ' but trusting in God and 
St. Peter he returned a positive refusal to recall 
the heretic who was justly condemned for his 

Finding Silverius inflexible, Theodora listened shedeoiden 
to the offer which had been already made by the silverius 
archdeacon Vigilius, who was at this time acting iius. 
as Apocrisiarius, or, in the language of later times, 
Nuncio of the Eoman Bishop at the Imperial 
Court. This man, who, it may be remembered, 
was the expectant legatee of the Papal dignity, 
if Pope Boniface II. had obtained the power to 
will away that splendid heritage ^ now offered 
* See p. 88. 

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252 The Blockade. 

BOOKV. full compliance with all Theodora's demands in 
favour of the Monophysites, and in addition, it 

**^' is said, a bribe of 200 pounds weight of gold 
(about £8000) if he were enthroned instead of 
Silverius in the chair of St. Peter. The Empress 
therefore addressed a letter * to the Patrician Beli- 
sarius/ directing him to find some occasion against 
Silverius to depose him from the Pontificate, or, 
if that were impossible, to force him to repair to 
Constantinople. The noble Belisarius, who had 
Utde liking for the task, and had enough upon 
his hands in the defence of Rome without plunging 
into the controversy concerning the Two Natures, 
had perhaps lingered in the fulfilment of this 
odious commission. Now, if our reading of the 
course of events be correct, Antonina, anxious to 
win the favour of Theodora, having returned from 
her successful mission to Campania, urged her 
unwilling husband to execute the commands of 
their patroness. . 
Silverius A letter was produced, written in the name of 

accused of , , 

treason- Silvcrius and addrcsscd to King Witigis, oflfering 
spondenoe to opcu the Asiuarian Gate to the Goths. There 
Goths. was this much of plausibility in the alleged treason, 
that the Lateran Church is close to the Asinarian 
Gate, and possibly it might seem not inconsistent 
with the office of a Christian bishop to end the 
frightful sufferings of his flock even by such an 
act of disloyalty as thia The contemporaries, 
however, of Silverius seem to have entirely ac- 
quitted him of responsibility in this matter : and 

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Accusation of Pope Silverius. 253 

even the names of the forgers of the document book v. 

are given by one historian. They were, Marcus a ^!„1. 

clerk, probably employed at the General's head- ^^'^' 
quarters, and a guardsman named Julian ^ 

With this letter in his hand, Belisarius sent siiveiius 
for Silverius and urged him to avert his ownbyiEteii- 
ruin by obeying the mandates of the terrible ^y the 
Augusta, renouncing the decrees of Chalcedon and ^^p'®*** 
entering into communion with the Monophysites. 
For a moment Silverius seems to have wavered. 
He left the palace, withdrew from the dan- 
gerous Lateran, shut himself up in the church of 
St. Sabina on the desolate Aventine, and there 
took counsel with his friends what he should do. 
Photius, the son of Antonina, was sent to lure 
him from his retreat by promises of safety. The 
Pope went once to the Pincian, notwithstanding 
the advice of his friends *to put no confidence 
in the oaths of the Greeks ^Z He returned that 
time in safety though still unyielding ; but going 
a second time with a heavy heart and fearing 
the malice of his enemies, he was, liberatus 
tells us, * seen by his friends no more.' The ex- 
pressive silence of this historian corresponds with 
the fuller details given by the, perhaps later, Papal 
biographer : * At the first and the second veils ' Siivenua 
(such were the semi-regal pomp and seclusion which pindan 
the great General maintained) 'all the clergy 

' liberatuB calls them 'Marcum quemdam scholasticuin et 
Jnlianum qaemdam praetorianum.' 

* * Qni autem Silverio adstabant, persuadebant ei, ne Graeco- 
ram crederet juramentis ' (Liberatus, xxii). 

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254 The Blockade. 

BOOKV. were parted from him. Then Silverius, entering 

Ch 9 

with Vigilius only into the Mausoleum^ found 

^^^' Antonina the Patrician's wife Ijing on a couch, 
and Vilisarius [Belisarius] sitting at her feet. And 
when Antonina the Patrician's wife saw him, she 
said to him, " Tell us, Lord Pope Silverius, what 
have we done to thee and to the Bomans that 
thou shouldest wish to betray us into the hands of 
the Goths ?" While she was yet speaking the sub- 
deacon John, District-visitor* of the first Begion, 
stripped the pallium from his shoulders and led 
him into a bed-room. There he stripped him, put 
on him the monastic dress, and concealed him. 
Then Sixtus the sub-deacon. District- visitor of the 
sixth Region, seeing him already turned into a 
monk, went forth and made this announcement to 
the clergy, " The Lord Pope has been deposed and 
made a monk." Then they, hearing this, all fled ; 
and Vigilius the Archdeacon received Silverius as if 
into his protection, and sent him to banishment in 
Pontus,' — or rather, as Liberatus tells us, to Patara 
in Lycia. Assuredly the first-fruits of the restored 
Imperial dominion in Italy were bitter for the 
Boman Bishops who had so large a share in bring* 
ing about the change. That a Pope, the son of a 
Pope and a great Boman noble, should have the 
pallium torn from him and be thrust forth into 

^ I am unable to explain this name. 

' B^gionarius. According to Ducange the Begionarii wer^ 
ecclesiastical notaries who, each in his own Region of the city, 
represented the absent pontiff in the assembly of the clergy. 

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Degradation and Exile of Silverius. 255 

obscure exile at the bidding of a woman, and that book v. 
woman the daughter of an actress and a circus- °' 
rider, was a degradation to which the Arian Theo- ^^^~^* 
done and his successors had never subjected the 
representative of St. Peter. 

We will anticipate the course of the narrative suveriue 
by a few months in order to finish the story of 
Silverius. When he arrived at Patara his wrongs 
stirred the compassion of the Bishop of that city, 
who sought an audience with the Emperor and 
said, *0f all the many kings who reign in the 
world not one has suflFered such cruel reverses of 
fortune as this man, who, as Pope, is over the 
whole Church ^\ Justinian, who was perhaps 
ignorant of his wife's machinations, ordered that 
Silverius should be carried back to Eome and put 
on his trial. If the letters attributed to him were 
genuine, he should still have the choice of the epi- 
scopate of any other city but Kdme ; if forged, he 
should be restored to the Papal throne. Vigi- 
lius — so his enemies asserted — terrified by the 
return of his rival, sent a message to Belisarius, 
* Hand over to me Silverius ; else can I not pay 
the price which I promised for the popedom/ 
The unhappy ex-pontiff was transferred to the 
custody of two of the body-guard^ of Vigilius, 
and by them taken to the desolate island of Pal- 
maria, where, being fed on the bread of adversity 

^ An important assertion of Papal supremacy in the sixth 

* * Traditus est duobus Vigilii defensoribus et servis.' 

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256 The Blqckade. 

BooKv. dpDd the water of affliction, he expired on the 2i8t 

^"•^' of June, 538. Posterity reverenced him as a 

Hw death, martyr, and many sick persons were cured at his 

Fredi We rctum to the siege of Borne. The month of 

troops for ^ 

Kome, December was now reached. Fresh troops, whose 
numbers were considerable when compared with 
the little band of Belisarius, though not when 
compared with the still remaining multitudes of the 
besiegers, had been despatched from the East, and 
were collecting in the harbours of Southern Italy. 
There were at Naples 3000 Isaurians under 
Paulus and Conon, at Otranto 800 Thracian 
horsemen under John, and 1000 other cavahry 
under Alexander and Marcentius. There had 
already arrived in Bome by the Via Latina 300 
horsemen under Zeno; and the 500 soldiers (per- 
haps infantry) collected by Procopius were stiU in 
Campania waiting to enter Bome. 
John Of the fresh generals who thus appear upon the 

guinary, sccue, the ouly ouc of whom we need take special 
vuftuln*! notice is John. He was the nephew of Vitalian, 

^ Anastasius and Liberatua both substantially agree in at- 
tributing the death of Silverius to Vigilius. However strong 
may have been the prejudice against the latter Pope, I do not 
think we are justified in setting aside this double testimony 
against him on the strength of a passage in the Anecdota (p. 16, 
ed. Bonn), where Procopius says that Eugenius, one of the slaves 
of Antonina, ' wrought the deed of wickedness against Silverius' 
(0 h^ mX rh €g SiX/Scpioy €ipyairrtu fuacfia), Alemannus says that 
the Editio Augustana reads Liberiua instead of Silverius : but 
I do not understand this, as the Editio Princeps published at 
Augsburg (Editio Augustana) does not contain the Anecdota, 

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John the Nephew of Vitalian. 267 

and from that relationship might have been sup- book v. 
posed to be not a safe servant for Justinian, by ^' 
m^hom Yitalian had been murdered. But we can ^^^' 
discern no evidence of his being regarded with 
suspicion on this account. He was a skilful 
general and a stout-hearted soldier, absolutely 
incapable of fear, and able to vie with any of the 
barbarians in the endurance of hardship and in 
contentment with the coarsest fare^. Either a 
cruel disposition, or, possibly, mere love for the 
gory revel of battle, had procured for him the 
epithet of Sanguinaritis, under which he appears 
in the Papal Biography ^. Next to Bessaa and Con- 
stantine, he was probably the most important 
officer now in the Imperial service in Italy, and, 
as we shall see hereafter, his fame was viewed 
with some jealousy by Belisarius. Although there 
were other officers bearing the same popular name, 
to prevent the tedious repetition either of his 
gory epithet or of his relationship to Vitalian, 
he will in these pages be called simply John, 
the others being distinguiahed by their peculiar 

The large number of troops under Paulus and The rein- 
Conon were ordered to sail with all speed to Ostia. reach 
John, with his 1800 horsemen, to whom were 
joined the 500 soldiers raised by Procopius, 

* See hia character in Procopius, De Bello Qotthico, ii. lo 
(p. 185). 

' AnastasiiiB Bibliothecarius, p. 130 (apud Maratori). This 
epithet is never given him by Procopius. 


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258 The Blockade. 

BOOK V. marched along the Appian Way, escorting a long 
"' train of waggons laden with provisions for the 
^^^' famishing citizens of Rome. If the enemy should 
attack them their purpose was to form the wag- 
gons in a circle round them and fight behind this 
hastily raised barrier. No such attack, however, 
appears to have been made. The Goths at this 
time were thinking of embassies and oratory rather 
than of cutting off the enemy's supplies. It was 
no small disappointment to John and his troops to 
find Tarracina destitute of Roman forces. They 
had reckoned on meeting there Martin and Trajan, 
whom Belisarius had a few days before withdrawn 
into the city. However, favoured perhaps in 
part by the fight which was at the same time 
going on round the walls of Rome, both divisions 
of the army, by sea and land, arrived safely at 
Ostia, with all the stores of com and wine with 
which they had freighted their ships and piled 
their waggons. The Isaurians dug a deep ditch 
round their quarters in the harbour-city, and the 
troops of John placed themselves * in laager ' (to 
use the phrase with which South African warfare 
has made us familiar) behind their waggons. 
Sortie of Meanwhile to divert the attention of the bar- 
riaiistB barians from the movements of the relieving armies 
' Belisarius had planned a fresh sortie ^ The story 
of these sallies is becoming monotonous, from their 

^ Some little vivid touches of detail introduced into the 
narrative of this sortie would seem to show that by this time 
Procopius was again in Rome. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

The Gothic Camps attacked. 259 

almost uniform success, but we are ueariug the book v. 
end of the catalogue. The main attack was to "'^' 
be made this time from the Porta Flaminia, a ^^'^* 
gate which had been so fast closed up by Beli- 
sarius that the Goths had practically come to 
regard it not only as imassailable, but also as 
containing for them no menace of a sally. Now, 
however, the General removed by night the large 
masses of stone (taken very likely from the agger 
of Servius Tullius) with which he had filled it up 
and drew up the great body of his troops behind 
it. A feigned attack made by looo horsemen 
under Trajan and Diogenes, issuing from the 
Pincian Gate, distracted the attention of the Goths, 
and caused them to pour out from the neigh- 
bouring camps in chase of the flying Romans. 
When they were in all the confusion of pursuit, 
Belisarius ordered the Flaminian Gate to be opened 
and launched his well-drilled troops against the 
imsuspecting foe. The Eomans charged across the 
intervening space, and were soon close up to the 
ramparts of that which we have called the First First 


Gothic Camp, nearest of all the camps to the walls Camp at- 
of Rome, A steep and narrow pathway which 
led to the main gate of the camp was held for 
a time, in Thermopylae fashion, by a courageous 
and well-armed barbarian, but Mundilas, the 
brave guardsman, at length slew the Gothic Leo- 
nidas and suffered no one to fill his place. The 
Roman soldiers pressed on, and swarmed roimd 
the ramparts of the camp, but, few as were the 

s 2 

Digitized by 


260 The Blockade. 

BooKV. defenders within it, they were kept for some time 
^°'^' at bay by the strength of the works. * For the 
*^^* fosse/ says our historian, 'was dug to a great 
depth, and the earth taken out from it, being all 
thrown to the inside, had made a very high bank 
which served the purpose of a wall, and was 
strongly armed with very sharp stakes and many 
of them^/ Then one of the household guard of 
Belisarius, an active soldier named Aquilinus, 
catching hold of a horse's bridle leaped upon its 
back, and was carried by its spring right over the 
rampart into the camp*. Here he slew many of 
the Goths, but gathering round him they hurled 
upon him a shower of missiles. The horse was 
killed, but the brave and nimble Aquilinus escaped 
unhurt, and leaping down from the wall, joined 
on foot the stream of Eoman soldiers who were 
pouring southwards from the Gothic camp^ to- 
wards the Pincian Gate, where the barbarians 
were still pursuing the flying troops of Trajan. 

Flight of A shower of arrows in their rear slew many of 

the Gotha. , •^ 

the Goths: the survivors looked round and halted: 
the lately flying Eomans also turned : the Goths 
found themselves caught between two attacks*; 
^ Again the Pfahlgraben style of fortification. 

• Was the Gothic camp actually taken by the Bomansl 
I think not : certainly not held by them ; bat the language of 
Procopius is not very clear on this point. 

* I must not say ' between two fires,' though that expression 
has become so natural to us that it is difficult to dispense 
with it 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Trajan wounded. 261 

they lost all cohesion and fell by hundreds. A book v. 
few with difficulty escaped to the nearest camps, °'^' 
the occupants of which kept close and dared not ^^^* 
stir forth to help them. 

In this battle, successful as were its main re- Trajan 
suits for the Bomans, Trajan received a wound 
which was weU-nigh fatal. An arrow struck his 
face, a little above his right eye, in the angle 
ibrmed by the eye and the nose. The whole of 
the iron tip, though long and large, entered and 
was hidden in the wound : the wooden part of 
the arrow, not well joined to the iron, fell to the 
earth. Notwithstanding his wound Trajan went 
on pursuing and slaying, and no ill results came 
of it. * Five years after,* says the historian, * the 
arrow-tip of its own accord worked its way to the 
surface and showed itself in his face. For three 
years it has protruded a little from the surface. 
Every one expects that in course of time it will 
work out altogether. Meanwhile Trajan has 
suffered no inconvenience from it of any kind^.' 

The result of this sally was to strike deep iiie Goths, 

discouragement into the hearts of the barbarians, send an 

* Already,' said they to one another, 'we are asMi^us!' 

' At first sight it would seem that this passage must have 
been written eight years after the wound was received, i. e. in 
545-6 : and possibly this may have been the case, though the 
De BeUo €k)tthico as a whole was published (according to 
Dahn) in 550. But if we examine the passage minutely we 
shall see that there may be an interval of a few years between 
ircfurry vorcpoy ivutvr^ and rpirop rtnrro Zros (*The point first 
showed itself after five years, and now for three years has been 
absolutely projecting from his face ')» 

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262 The Blockade. 

BOOKV. much the besieged as the besiegers. Famine and 
°' Pestilence are stalking through all our camps. 
New armies, we cannot tell how large, are on their 
way from Constantinople, and the terrible Beli- 
sarius, who knows that only a few of us are left 
to represent the many myriads who sat down 
before Eome, is actually daring to assault us in 
our camps, one of which he has aU but taken.* In 
some kind of assembly, which the historian calls 
their Senate, they debated the question of raising 
the siege, and decided on the desperate expedient 
of an appeal to the justice and generosity of 
Byzantium, while sending an embassy to Eome 
to plead their cause with Belisarius. The embassy 
consisted of an official of high rank in the Gothic 
state but of Roman lineage (one who occupied 
in fact nearly the same position formerly held by 
Cassiodorus, but whose name Procopius has not 
recorded), and with him two Gothic nobles. The 
arguments used by the Gothic envoy and the 
replies of Belisarius, which are probably in the 
main correctly reported by the historian, himself 
present at the interview, may best be presented 
in the form of a dialogue. 

Gothic Envoys. ' This war is inflicting upon both 
the combatants indescribable miseries. Let us 
each moderate our desires, and see if some means 
cannot be found of bringing it to an end. The 
ruler should think not merely of the gratification 
of his own ambition, but also of the happiness 
of his subjects, and that assuredly is not being 

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The Conference. 263 

promoted on either side by the continuance • of book v. 
the war. We suggest that the conference be °'^' 
not conducted by means of studied orations on *^^' 
either side, but that each party say out that 
which is in their minds without preparation, and 
that if anything be said which seems improper, 
exception be taken to it at once.' 

Bdisarius. *I shall interpose no hindrance to 
the dialogue proceeding as ye propose : but see 
that ye utter words that are just and that tend 
towards peace.' 

Gothic Envoys. * We complain of you, Romans, 
that you have taken up arms without cause 
against an allied and friendly people : and we shall 
prove our complaint by facts which no man can 
gainsay. The Goths came into possession of this Gothic 
land not by violently wresting it from the Romans, Theodo- 
but by taking it from Odovacar, who, having over- quest of 
turned the Emperor of that day, changed the ^ 
constitutional government which existed here into 
a tyranny^. Now Zeno who was then Emperor 
of the East was desirous to avenge his colleague 
on the usurper and to free the country, but was 
not strong enough to cope with the forces of 
Odovacar. He therefore persuaded our ruler 
Theodoric, who was at that very time meditating 
the siege of Byzantium, to forego his hostility to 

' The term ' coQBtitational government* ib of course an 
anachronism, but perhaps conveys best to a modem reader the 
meaning of poUteia : eV rvpavvida rfjp r^dc n-oXtrcuiy fUTofiaXiiw 

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264 The Blockade. 

BOOK V. the Empire in remembrance of the dignities which 
he had akeady received in the Boman State, (those 

^^^' namely of Patrician and Consul), to avenge upon 
Odovacar his injustice to Augustulus, and to confer 
upon this country and his own people the blessings 
of a just and stable government. Thus then did 
our nation come to be guardians of this land of 
Italy. The settled order of things which we found 
here we preserved, nor can any man point to any 
new law, written or unwritten, and say "That was 
introduced by Theodoric^.*' As for religious affiiirs^ 
so anxiously have we guarded the liberty of the 
Bomans that there is no instance of one of them 
having voluntarily or under compulsion adopted 
our creed, while there are many instances of Goths 
who have gone over to yours, not one of whom 
has suffered any punishment. The holy places 
of the Komans have received the highest honour 
from us, and their right of sanctuary has been 
uniformly respected. The high oflSces of the State 
have been always held by Bomans, not once by 
a Goth. We challenge contradiction if any of our 
statements are incorrect. Then, too, the Bomans 
have been permitted by the Goths to receive a 
Consul every year, on the nomination of the 
Emperor of the East. 

*To sum up. You did nothing to help Italy 
when, not for a few months but for ten long 
years, she was groaning under the oppression of 

^ In the £Btce of the Edictum Theodorici it is difficult to 
believe that the Qothic envoys are here reported correctly. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

The Conference. 265 

Odovacar and \m barbarians: but now you are book v. 
putting forth all yoTir strength upon no valid ^^'^' 
pretext against her rightful occupants. We call ^^^' 
upon you therefore to depart hence, to enjoy in 
quiet your own possessions and the plunder which 
during this war you have collected in our 

Beli&ariu8 (in wrath). * You promised that you 
would speak briefly and with moderation, but you 
have given us a long harangue, full of something 
very like bragging. The Emperor Zeno sent Byantine 
Theodoric to make war upon Odovacar, not in the same 
order that he himself should obtain the kingship ti^!*^ 
of Italy (for what would have been the advantage 
of replacing one tyrant by another?), but that the 
country might be restored to freedom and its obe- 
dience to the Emperor. Now all that Theodoric 
did against the usurper was well done, but his 
later behaviour, in refusing to restore the country 
to its rightful lord, was outrageously ungrateful : 
nor can I see any difference between the conduct 
of a man who originally lays hands on another's 
property, and his who, when such a stolen treasure 
comes into his possession, refuses to restore it to 
its true owner. Never, therefore, will I surrender 
the Emperor s land to any other lord. But if you 
have any other request to make, speak on/ 

Ooihic Envoys. * How true is all that we have Gotha offer 
advanced every member of this company knows dersidiy. 
right well. But, as a proof of our moderation, we 
will relinquish to you the large and wealthy island 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

266 The Blockade. 

BOOKV. of Sicily, without which your possession of Africa 

Ch. 9. . . > 
IS insecure. 

Bei^ufl Belisamus (with sarcastic courtesy). * Such 

su^to g^^^i^osity ^s^ for ^ return in kind. We will 

Briuin. freely grant permission to the Goths to occupy the 

whole of Britain, a much larger island than you 

oflFer to us, and one which once belonged to the 

Komans as Sicily once belonged to the Goths.' 

Gothic Envoys. * Well then, if we talk about 
adding Naples and Campania to our offer, will you 
consider it V 

Bdisarius. * Certainly not. We have no power 
to grant away the lands of the Emperor in a man- 
ner which he might not approve of.' 

Grothic Envoys. * Or if we pledged ourselves to 
pay a certain yearly tribute to your master V 

BelisariuLS. * No, not so. We can treat on no 

conditions but those which secure that the 

Emperor shall have his own again.' 

A trace GotMc Euvoys. * Comc then : allow us to send 

and ac- ambassadors to the Emperor to treat about all the 

^^ ■ matters in dispute, and let there be a cessation of 

hostilities on both sides for a fixed period, to give 

the ambassadors time to go and return.' 

Belisarius. * Be it so. Never shall my voice 
be raised against any proposition which is really 
made in the interests of peace.' And thereupon 
the ambassadors returned to the Gothic camp to 
make arrangements for the coming truce. 

Thus ended this memorable interview between 
the representative of Caesar and the servants of 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

The Conference. 267 

the Gothic King. Memorable, if for no others, book v. 
assuredly for us, the dwellers in that well-nigh for- ^' 
gotten island whose sovereignty Belisarius tossed ^^^' 
contemptuously to the Goths as a reply to their 
proposed surrender of Sicily. Would that we had 
a Procopius to tell us what was passing at that 
moment in *the island much larger than Sicily, 
which had belonged aforetime to the Romans!' 
Three years before, as we are told, Cerdic, the 534- 
half-mythical ancestor of King Alfred and of 
Queen Victoria, had died (if indeed he had ever 
lived), perchance in some palace rudely put toge- 
ther on the ruins of the Roman Praetorium at 
Winchester. His people had been for near twenty 
years pausing in their career of conquest, during 
that mysterious interval, or even refluence of the 
Saxon wave, which legend has glorified by con- 
necting it with the great deeds of Arthur. In the 
far north, ten years after this time. King Ida was 547. 
to rear upon the basaltic rock of Bamborough, 
overlooking the misty flock of the Fame Islands, 
that fortress which was to be the capital of the 
Bemician kingdom, and which narrowly missed 
being the capital of England itself and rivalling 
the world-wide fame of London. When we have 
said this we have told nearly all that is known of 
the deeds of our fathers and the fortunes of our 
land during this central portion of the sixth cen- 
tury after Christ. 

The negotiations for a truce, and the consequent Beiisanui 


slackening of the vigilance of the Goths, came at cover of 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

268 The Blockade. 

BOOK V. the most opportune moment possible for the plans 
"' of Belisarius. Vast quantities of com, wine, and 
the tolU ^*^^^ provisions for the relief of the hunger-«tricken 
re-victuals cStj Were collected at Ostia, but a murderous 
struggle would have been necessary to cover their 
entrance into Bome. On the very evening of the 
day of conference Belisarius, accompanied appar- 
ently by his wife and attended by lOO horsemen, 
rode to Ostia to meet the generals who were in 
command of the Isaurians at that port. He 
encouraged them by the tidings of the negotia- 
tions that had been commenced, urged them to 
use all possible diligence in the transport of the 
provisions to Bome, and promised to do all in his 
power to secure them a safe passage. With th« 
first grey of the morning he returned to the City, 
leaving Antonina behind to consult with the 
generals as to the best means of conveying the 
stores. The only practicable towpath — as was be- 
fore said — ran along the right bank of the river, and 
was commanded by the Gothic garrison of Portus. 
Moreover, the draught-oxen were half dead with 
hunger and hardship. In these circumstances 
Antonina and the generals decided to trust to 
sails and oars alone. They selected all the largest 
boats belonging to the navy at Ostia, fitted each 
one with rude battlements of tall planks to pro- 
tect the rowers from the arrows of the enemy, 
freighted them with the cargoes of provisions, 
and began their perilous voyage. A considerable 
part of the army accompanied them along the 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Rome Re-victualled. 269 

left bank of the river by way of escort, but book v. 
several of the Isaurians were also left at Ostia °' 
to guard the ships. Apparently the wind blew ^^^* 
from the south-west, for wherever the stream 
pursued a straight course their sails were full 
and all went pleasantly; but in the windings 
of the river they had to resort to their oars, 
and hard was the toil needed to traverse these 
portions of the stream. 

Strangely enough, the Goths, though no truce The Goths 
was formally concluded, oflfered no opposition tOopposTtion. 
this proceeding, though they must have known 
that that day s work, if successful, would undo, 
in great measure, the results of the last six 
months of blockade. The garrison at Portus lay 
quiet, marvelling at the ingenuity of the Romans, 
and saw the heavy barges saQ almost imder the 
towers of their fortress. The Goths in the six 
camps lay quiet too, partly comforting them- 
selves with the assurance that the Bomans would 
never get their city re-victualled in that way, 
partly thinking that it was not worth while to 
imperil the results of the conference and lose 
the longed-for truce by any hostile action which 
might offend the terrible Belisarius. So they let 
their opportunity slip. The barges passed and 
repassed till all the stores were safely transported 
to Borne. The ships then returned to Constan- ai djc. 
tinople with all speed to avoid the peril of 
storms, the winter solstice being now reached 
A few Isaurians, under the command of Paulus, 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

270 The Blockade. 

BOOKV. were left at Ostia, but the great mass of the 

Ch 9 • • 

L_L new soldiers entered Borne in safety. 

Tru^ for When the Goths had quietly looked on at all 
m.^^ these important operations, they might just as 
^Th'^t? well have at once recognised the hopelessness of 
ages ex. their task and marched away from Rome. They 

changed. , •' ^ , •' 

still clung however, or rather perhaps their King 
alone still clung, to the expedient of a truce and 
an embassy, and to the hope of obtaining favour- 
able terms from the justice of Justinian. It was 
arranged that Gothic ambassadors should be sent 
under Roman escort to Constantinople, that a truce 
for three months should be concluded between the 
two armies to give the embassy time to go and 
return, and that hostages of high rank should be 
given on both sides. The Gothic hostage was a 
nobleman named Ulias ; the Roman hostage was 
Zeno, a cavalry oflScer who, as was before stated, 
had recently entered Rome by the Latin Way. 
Gothic In the whole course of these negotiations the 


evacuated Goths had becu thoroughly outwitted by Beli- 

and occu- • ^ • • • 

pied by sarius. Nothing had been said about the question 
of revictualling Rome ; and Belisarius had quietly 
decided that question in his own favour, under the 
very eyes of the puzzled barbarians. Neither 
does anything seem to have been said expressly 
as to the case of either army ceasing to occupy 
all its positions in force, a case which soon arose. 
Shut off from the coast by the Byzantines' com- 
mand of the sea, and having, very likely, failed to 
maintain the Roman roads in good condition, the 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 


Truce for Three Months. 271 

Goths found great diflSculty in provisioning the book v. 
garrisons at some of their distant posts. Under 

the stress of this diflSculty they withdrew their ^^^* 
garrisons from Portus, from Centiimcellae (the 
modem Civita Vecchia), and from Albanum. As 
fast as each square was thus left vacant on the 
chess-board, Belisarius moved up a piece to take 
possession of it. The Goths, who found them- The Gotha 


selves thus ever more and more hemmed in by «trate. 
the Roman outposts, sent an embassy of angry 
complaint to Belisarius. ' Was this in accordance 
with the terms of the armistice ? Witigis had 
sent for the Goths in Portus to come to him for a 
temporary service, and Paulus and his Isaurians 
had marched in and taken possession of the unde- 
fended fortress. So, too, with Albanum and Centum- 
cellae. All these places must be given back to 
them or they would do terrible things/ Belisarius 
simply laughed at their threats, and told them 
that all the world knew perfectly well for what 
reason those fortresses had been abandoned. The 
truce* still formally continued, but both parties 
eyed one another with jealousy and distrust. 

By the new reinforcements which had been Troops sent 
poured into Rome, Belisarius found himself atAbroz25i 
the head of so large a number of troops that he john. 
could even spare some for distant operations. He 
therefore despatched John at the head of 800 
horsemen to the mountains of the Abruzzi. Two 
other bodies of troops, amounting to 1 200 in all, were 
to follow his motions and adapt their movements 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

272 The Blockade. 

BOOKV. to his, but, perhaps for reasons of commissariat, 

Ch 9 

not to occupy the same quarters. One of these 

*^ ■ supporting armies was commanded by Damian, 
nephew of Valerian, and his troops were drawn 
from that general's army. The orders given to 
John were to pass the winter at Alba [Fucentia], 
a city about seventy miles from Borne, in the 
heart of the Apennines and near to the little lake 
of Fucinus. Here he was to rest, not disturbing 
the Goths so long as they attempted no hostile 
operation. The moment that he perceived the 
truce to be broken, he was to sweep like a whirl- 
wind on the territory of Picenum, between the 
Apennines and the Hadriatic, to ravage the Gothic 
possessions (scrupulously respecting those of the 
Eomans), to collect plunder from every quarter, 
and to carry off their women and children into 
slavery. All this could be easily effected, since 
the men of the district were all serving in the 
Gothic armies. He was to take every fortress 
that threatened his route, leaving none to molest 
his rear, and he was to keep his plunder intact 
till the time came for dividing it among the whole 
army. * For it is not fair,* said Belisarius, with a 
laugh, ' that we should have the trouble of killing 
the drones and that you should divide all the honey.' 
Visitor Two events relieved the tedium of the siege 
A^ch-"' during the early months of the year 538: the 
Mii^/ visit of the Archbishop of Milan and the quarrel 
between Belisarius and Constantino. Datius, the 
Ligurian Archbishop, came at the head of a depu- 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Visit of Archbishop of Milan. 27 Z 

tation of influential citizens to entreat Belisarius book v. 
to send a small garrison to enable them to hold ^^'^' 
their city (which had apparently already revolted ^*^' 
from the Gothic King) for the Empire, They 
enlarged on the popnlousness and wealth of 
Mediolanum, the second city of Italy, its important 
position (eight days' journey from Ravenna and 
the same distance from the frontiers of Gaul), and 
the certainty that Liguria would follow whitherso- 
ever its capital might lead. Belisarius promised 
to grant their request as soon as possible, and 
meanwhile persuaded Datius and his companions 
to pass the winter with him in Rome. 

The quarrel with Constantine, in which Pro-Quwrei 
copius sees the hand of Nemesis resenting theBeHwrius 
uniform prosperity of the Imperial cause, arose ^ntine. 
out of small beginnings. A certain Presidius, one 
of the leading citizens of Ravenna, having some 
cause of complaint against the Goths, determined 
to flee to the Imperial army. Leaving Ravenna 
on pretence of hunting, he passed through the 
Gothic lines (this happened just before Witigis 
started for the siege of Rome) and made his way 
to the army which under Constantine was then 
quartered at Spoleto. Of all his possessions he Affair of 
was able to bring with him nothing but two and wr* 
daggers in golden scabbards set with precious ^^"' 
stones. The fame of the refugee from Ravenna 
and his jewelled poniards reached the ears of 
Constantine, who sent one of his guards named the church outside the walls, where 


Digitized by LjOOQIC 

274 The Blockade. 

BOOKV. Presidius had taken refuge, to demand the daggers 
'' in the Generars name. Presidius was forced to 
*^^' submit to this spoliation, but hastened to Rome 
to lay his complaint before the General. In the 
turmoil of the Gothic assault and the Roman 
sorties, he found for long no suitable opportunity 
for stating his case ; but now that the truce had 
been proclaimed he sought and obtained an ait- 
dience with the General, before whom he laid his 
complaint. Belisarius had other reasons for cen- 
suring his lieutenant ; but at present he confined 
himself to a gentle remonstrance with Constantine, 
and the expression of a wish that he would abstain 
from such acts of rapacity. The Fate which was 
brooding over the covetous general prevented him 
from * leaving well alone.' He must needs taunt 
Presidius, whenever he met him, with the loss of 
his daggers, and ask him what he had gained by 
complaining to Belisarius. At length the refugee 
could bear it no longer ; but one day when Beli- 
sarius was riding through the Forum he seized 
his horse's bridle add cried out with a loud voice, 
' Are these the far-famed laws of Justinian^ that 
when a man takes refuge with you from the 
barbarians ye should spoil him of his goods by 
force V The Generals retinue shouted to him to 
let go the horse's bridle, but he dung to it, re- 
peating his cries and passionate appeals for justice, 
till Belisarius, who knew the rightness of bis 
cause, promised that the daggers should be re- 
stored to him* 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Consiantine and the stolen Daggers. 276 

The next day there was an assembly of the book v. 
generals in a chamber of the palace on the Pincian. 

Constantino was there, and Bessas and Valerian. j^J^{^i 
There was also present Ildiger, son-in-'law of^K***^*^"* 
Antonina^ who had lately come to Borne with a 
large troop of horsemen from Africa. Before all 
this assembly Belisarius related what had occurred 
on the previous day, blamed the unjust deed of 
Constantino, and exhorted him to make a tardy 
reparation for his fitult by restoring the daggers 
to their owner. * No/ replied Constantine, * I will 
do nothing of the kind. I would rather throw 
the daggers into the Tiber than give them back 
to Presidius.' Belisarius asked him with some 
warmth if he remembered who was his general. 
*In everjrthing else/ said Constantine, *I am willing 
to obey you, since the Emperor orders me to do 
so, but as for the matter that you are now talking 
about I will never obey you.' Belisarius ordered 
the guards to enter. ' To kill me, I suppose,' said 
Constantine. * No,' was the answer, * but since 
your armour-bearer Maxentiolus by force took 
these daggers away, by force to compel him to 
restore them.' Constantine, however, believing that Constan- 

. tiDe stabs 

his death was decided upon, determined to doBeUeariuff. 
some memorable deed while he yet lived, and 
drawing the dagger which hung at his side stabbed 
Belisarius in the belly. Wounded, but not fatally, 
the General staggered back, and clasping Bessas 
in his arms interposed the portly form of the 
Ostrogoth between himself and the assassin. He 

T 2 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

276 The Blockade, 

BOOKv. then glided out of the chamber. Constantino, 

^L_L mad with rage, was on the point of following him, 

^^^* but Tidiger seized him by the right hand and 

Bessas by the left, and they together pulled him 

in an opposite direction. Then the guards entered, 

and with much diflBculty wrested the dagger from 

Consun- the furious oflScer. He was draffged off to a place 

tine pot . °^ ^ 

to death, of Confinement in the palace, thence, after some 
days, to another house, and eventually was put to 
death by the order of Belisarius. 

other rea- The exccution of a lieutenant who had so grossly 

Bonfl as* , , 

signed for insultcd his suporior oflScer and attempted his life 
«ionofCon-does uot appear to be a deed diflBcult to justify. 
Procopius remarks, however, that 'this waa the 
only unlioly action which Belisarius ever com- 
mitted, and it was unlike his usual disposition. 
For he generally showed great gentleness in his 
dealings with all men. But, as before remarked, 
it was fated that Constantino should come to a 
bad end.' This reflection convinces us that we 
have not heard the whole story, and that the 
affair of the jewelled poniards was rather the 
pretext than the cause of the death of Constan- 
tino. In the Anecdota, that Scandalous Chronicle 
written in the old age of Procopius, he informs 
us that when all Constantinople was talking about 
the gallantries of Antonina and the punishment 
inflicted on her lover by Belisarius, Constantino, 
in his condolence with the injured husband, said, 
*It is not the young man but the lady that 
I should punish in such a case.' Antonina heard 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Death of Constantine. 277 

of the saying and treasured up her wrath till an book v. 
occasion was found for wreaking it upon the in- "'^' 
judicious oflBcer. ^2^' 

Not long after this affair, the Goths attempted Attempt of 
to enter the City by guile. Agricola's aqueduct, to enter by 
the Aqua Virgo, is so constructed, for engineering virgo. 
reasons, as to form a long circuit round the east 
and north of the City. The course which it now 
pursues is almost entirely in the rear of the Gothic 
position, but there seems reason to think that 
in 538 it passed through the Gothic lines, that 
it touched the Wall of Aurelian near the Salarian 
Gate, and was then carried for some distance 
round the Wall on a low arcade only some three 
or four feet in heights However this may be, 
there is no doubt that then as now it burrowed 
under the Pincian Hill, and emerged into a deep 
well-like chamber communicating with one of the 
palaces on that eminence. That palace was then 
the Pincian Palace inhabited by Belisarius. The 
dwelling which now rises immediately above the 
receptacle of the Aqua Virgo is the Villa Medicis, 
the home of the French Academy. A strong 
argument is thus furnished in favour of identi- 
fying the two sites. From the Pincian the water 
was carried, then as now, to the Campus Martius, 

* Depicted in one of Mr. Parker's photographs (No. 5). 
I follow his statement (Aqueducts, p. 47. n. i, and pp. 121, 122) 
as to the alteration in the line of the Aqua Virgo, because 
some such deviation seems necessary to explain the narrative 
of Procopius, the present course of this part of the aqueduct 
being, I think, entirely subterranean. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

278 The Blockade. 

BOOKV. the fountain of Trevi, and the neighhourhood of 
^'^' the Pantheon; in fact the aqueduct ran right into 

^^^* the very heart of Bome. 
The Goth* A party of Goths, during this treacherous truce- 

in uio 

Aquoduot. time, determined to attempt an entrance into the 
City by this aqueduct, which of course, like all the 
others, was now only a tunnel bare of water. 
With lighted torches they groped their way 
through the sfpecus, which is about six feet high 
by a foot and a half wide. They crept along 
unopposed, perhaps for a distance of one or two 
miles, till at last they were actually within the 
City, and dose to the foot of the steps leading to 
the very palace of Belisarius. Here they found 
their ftirther progress barred by a newly-erected 
wall. This wall had been built by command of 
Belisarius soon after his entry into the City. The 
wary General, who knew every move that his 
enemy ought to make upon the board, was not 
going to allow Borne to be taken from him as he 
had taken Naples from the Goths, by stealing 
through an aqueduct. Foiled in their present 
purpose, the Goths broke off a bit of stone from 
this wall as a record of their perilous expedition, 
and returned to teU Witigis how near they had 
been to success and why they had missed it. 
Tiie light But while the explorers were moving along 
torches through the small part of the Aqua Virgo which 
Bentinei. was abovc gTouud, the flash of their torches 
through a chink in the walls attracted the atten- 
tion of a sentinel, stationed perhaps in the fosse 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

The Goths seek to enter by an Aqueduct. 279 

somewhere near the Pindan Gate. He talked to book v. 

his comrades about this mysterious light, seen only U- 

a foot or two above the surface of the earth ; but *^ ' 
they only laughed at him, telling him that he 
must have seen a wolfs eyes gleaming through 
the darkness. However, the story of the sentinel 
and his wonderful light reached the ears of Beli- 
sarius. In a moment its true meaning flashed 
upon him. ' This is no wolf,' he said to himself; 
*the Goths are trying the aqueduct.' At once 
he sent the guardsman Diogenes with a body of 
picked men to examine the channel We must 
suppose that they took down part of the obstruct- 
ing wall, and so entered the %^ecu%. They saw 
the place where the stone had been chipped off 
which was shown to Witigis. They pressed on : 
they found everywhere the droppings from the 
Gothic flambeaux, and at length discovered some 
Gothic lamps. It was clear that the enemy had 
been trying by these means to steal into Eome. 
The Goths soon perceived that- Belisarius was 
acquainted with their adventure, and the design, 
which Witigis had discussed in a council of war, 
of following up the quest opened by the exploring 
party, was promptly abandoned ^ 

' For Bome nsefal hints about this aqueduct-scheme I am 
indebted to Mr. Bryce, whose example I foUowed in exploring 
the entrance into the Aqua Virgo in the Borghese Gardens 
and the two flights of steps leading down to it from the summit 
of the Fincian Hill. It seems to me possible that the steep 
spiral staircase outside the Villa Medicis, the entrance to which 
is by a door called ' Porta del Cocchigliare delF Acqua Vergine/ 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

280 The Blockade. 

BooKV. During the remainder of the three months of 
^^'^' nominal truce two more attempts upon the City 
*^^' were made, or at any rate planned, by the bar- 
barians. One was upon the Pincian Gate, and 
was arranged for the hour of the mid-day meal, 
when but few soldiers were likely to be behind 
the battlements. The Goths were coming on in 
loose order, with ladders to mount the walls and 
fire to bum the gate. But not even in truce- 
time were the walls ever left quite bare of guards. 
Fortunately, it was then the turn of the gallant 
Hdiger to keep watch. He saw the loosely mar- 
shalled band advancing, at once divined their 
traitorous design, sallied out with his followers, 
easily changed their disorderly advance into an 
equally disorderly retreat, and slew the greater 
number of them. A great clamour was raised in 
Eome ; the Goths saw that their design was 
discovered, and all returned to their camps. 
Scheme for The ucxt schcme was of a baser kind, and was 
theguardfl worthy of the' confused brain from which it 
river-wall. Sprung. It has been said that the wall of the 
City between the Tomb of Hadrian and the 
Flaminian Gate was low and destitute of towers, 
the military engineers of Aurelian having thought 
that the river would here be a suflScient protec- 
tion. Witigis therefore argued thus with himself : 
* If I could only lull to sleep the vigilance of the 
Koman sentinels on that piece of wall, a strong 

may be the same cochlea by which the troops of Belisarins de- 
scended and by which the Goths hoped to ascend into the City. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Scheme for drugging the Raman sentinels. 281 

detachment of my army might cross the river in book v 
boater, climb the wall, and open the gates of the 

City to the rest of the army, who shall be all wait- ^^^' 
ing outside/ He therefore took into his pay two 
Romans, probably of the labouring class, who 
dwelt near the great basilica of St. Peter. They 
promised to take a large skin of wine to these 
sentinels about nightfall, offer them refreshment, 
keep them drinking and talking till far into the 
night, and when they were too drunk to observe 
anything, throw an opiate, with which Witigis 
provided the traitors, into their cups. The 
infamous scheme was revealed to Belisarius by 
one of its intended instruments ^ who revealed 
also the name of his accomplice. The latter 
under torture confessed the criminal intention, 
and surrendered the opiate which he had received 
from Witigis. Belisarius cut off the nose and 
ears of the unhappy traitor, — these barbarous 
mutilations were becoming part of the penal code 
of Constantinople, — and sent him mounted on an 
aas to the Gothic camp to tell his dismal tale to 
his royal confederate. ' When the barbarians saw 
him they recognised that God did not bring their 
plans to a successful issue, and therefore that they 
would never be able to capture the City.' 

By these two attempts (if we may trust the John com- 

. -1111 mences 

statement of Procopius, who probably throws more retaliatory 


blame on the Goths than they deserve) the three in Pice- 

* *For it was not destined,' says Procopius, 'that Borne 
should be taken by this army.' 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

282 The Blockade. 

BOOKV. months' truce waa sufficiently broken to justify 
' Belisarius in commencing a campaign of retali- 
*^^' atioD. He sent letters to John ordering him to 
begin the operations in Picenum which had been 
arranged between them. John marched with his 
two thousand horsemen through the settlements 
of the Goths^ burning, plundering, wasting all 

Death of that belonged to the enemy. Ulitheus, the aged 
uncle of Witigis, dared to meet him in battle, but 
was slain, and almost his whole army fell with 
him. After this, none would fiice him in the field. 
Pressing on through the country on the eastern 
slopes of the Apennines, he came to the fortresses 
of Urbino and Osimo, neither of them garrisoned 
by a large force of Goths, but both strong by their 
natural position. According to the orders of 
Belisarius he should have reduced each of these 
fortresses before proceeding further, but the cry 
of his army and his own military instinct both 

Ariminum directed a bold forward movement to Eimini. To 


that city by the Hadriatic he accordingly marched, 
and such was the terror of the Goths that he carried 
it at the first assault. It is true that he had not 
here, as in the cases of Urbino and Osimo, to 
attack a high hill fortress, for Bimini, though 
surrounded with walls, lies in a wide plain at the 
mouth of the Marecchia ; and the supremacy by sea 
which the Byzantines possessed would have made 
it a difficult city for the Goths to hold against a 
united attack by sea and land. 

But whatever the cause, here was the victorious 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Treachery of Matasuentka. 283 

army of John in possession of an important city book v. 


two hundred miles in the rear of the Gothic army, 
and only thirty-three, a single day's march, from jjff^fof 
their capital, Bavenna. John had rightly calcu- ^^^^^^^^^ 
lated that this step of his would lead to -the raising: beBiegere 

^ ° of Rome. 

of the siege of Bome. The Goths, thoroughly 
alarmed for the safety of their capital, began to 
chafe at every day spent in sight of those walls 
which, as they felt, they never should surmount. 
Their King too had his own reasons for sharing their 
impatience when it began to be whispered that his Treachery 
young wife Matasuentha, proud and petulant, and suentha. 
never forgiving her lowly-bom husband for the com- 
pulsion which had brought her to his side in wed- 
lock, had sent secret messages to John at Bimini 
congratulating him on his success, and holding out 
to him hopes that she would betray the Gothic 
cause if he would accept her hand in marriage. 

So it came to pass that when the three months The siege 
of truce had expired, although no tidings hadaboat' 
been received from the ambassadors, the Goths 538^ "' 
resolved to abandon their blockade of Rome. It 
was near the time of the Vernal Equinox, and 374 
days from the commencement of the siege, when 
they carried this resolution into effect. At dawn 
of day, having set all their seven camps on fire, 
the dispirited mass of men began to move north- 
ward along the Flaminian Way. 

The Romans, who saw them departing, were for The Gotha 
some time in doubt whether to pursue them or * 
rather * to make a bridge of gold for a retreating 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

284 The Blockade. 

BOOK V. foe/ The absence of so many of their cavaby in 
Picenum was a reason for leaving them nnmo- 

^ *^^' lested. But Belisarius hastily armed as large a 

Tliey are ^ o 

attacked force as he could muster, both of horse and 

by Belisa- 
rius while foot, and when half the Gothic army had crossed 

the Miivi- the Milvian Bridge he launched his soldiers forth 
"^ *'' from the Flaminian Gate, and made a furious 
attack on the Gothic rear. Mundilas, the escort 
of Procopius, conspicuous in so many pre- 
vious battles, wrought great deeds of valour in 
this, fighting four barbarians at once and killing 
them all. Longinus^ an Isaunan, was also 
among the foremost in the fight, which, having 
been for some time doubtful, ended in the flight 
of the barbarians. Then followed a terrible scene, 
Goth struggling with Goth for a place upon the 
bridge and for a way of escape from the devouring 
sword. Many fell by the hands of their own 
comrades, many were pushed off the bridge, and, 
encumbered by the weight of their armour, sank 
in the stream of the Tiber. Few, according to the 
account of Procopius, succeeded in struggling 
across to the opposite shore, where the other half 
of the army stood awaiting them. In this state- 
ment there is probably some exaggeration, but 
there can be no doubt that the well-timed attack 
of Belisarius inflicted a severe blow upon the 
retreating enemy. The joy of the Komans in their 
victory was alloyed by grief for the death of the 
valiant Longinus. 

^ Named probably after LoDginns the brother of Zeno. 

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End of the long Siege. 285 

So ended the long siege of Rome by Witigis, a book v. 
siege in which the numbers and prowess of the 

Goths were rendered useless by the utter inca- ^^ ' 
pacity of their commander. Ignorant how to 
assault, ignorant how to blockade, he allowed 
even the sword of Hunger to be wrested from 
him and used against his army by Belisarius. He 
suffered the flower of the Gothic nation to perish, 
not so much by the weapons of the Romans as by 
the deadly dews of the Campagna. With heavy 
hearts the barbarians must have thought, as they 
turned them northwards, upon the many graves 
of gallant men which they were leaving on that 
fatal plain. Some of them must have suspected 
the melancholy truth that they had dug one grave, 
deeper and wider than all, the grave of the Gothic 
monarchy in Italy. 

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Source: — 
BOOK V. Pkocopius, De Bello Ootthico, ii. 11-18 (pp. 191-217). 

Ch. 10. 

538. The utter failure of the Gothic enterprise 
against Rome did not, as might have been ex- 
pected, immediately bring about the fall of Ra- 
venna. Unskilful to was the strategy of the 
Ostrogoths, there was yet far mpre power of 
resistance shown by them than by the Vandals. 
In three months the invasion of Africa had been 
brought to a triumphant conclusion. The war 
in Italy had now lasted for three years, two more 
were still to elapse before the fall of the Gothic 
capital announced even its apparent conclusion. 
Desultory Theso two ycars were passed in somewhat 
the next dcsultory fighting, waged partly in the neighbour- 
wo years. ^^^^ ^£ Milan and partly along the course of the 
great Haminian Way. Leaving the valley of 
the Po for the present out of our calculations, 
we will confine our attention to the long struggle 
which wasted the Umbrian lands, traversed by 
the great north road of Italy which bore the name 
of Proconsul Flaminius. It had been always an 

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Sketch Map of 


in 538. 

Jianuoipositiatta ^ms-AmooML 

Digitized by 


288 The Relief of Rimini. 

BOOKv. important highway. By it the legions of CaBsar 
^' had marched forth to conquer Gaul, and had 

The^vta ^ctumed to conquer the Kepublic. The course 

Fiwmnia. of evcnts in the fifth and sixth centuries which 
made Eome and Kavenna both, in a certain sense, 
capitals of Italy, gave to the two hundred and 
thirty miles of road between those capitals an 
importance, political and military, such as it had 
never possessed before. 

General ar- Notwithstanding some slight curves, we mav 

rangement ... " 

of the think of this road as running due north and south, 

forces of . , . , -it 

the com- smcc Raveuna is m almost precisely the same 
longitude as Eome : and at the point of the history 
which we have now reached the fortresses to the 
right of it are for the most part in the hands of 
the Emperor's generals, while nearly all those on 
the left are held for the Gothic King. This was 
the manner in which the latter disposed of his 
forces. At Urbs Vetus, the modem Orvieto, were 
looo men under the command of Albilas. At 
Clusium^, that tomb of old Etruscan greatness, 
lOOO under Gelimer. At Tuder, now Todi, which 
also still preserves the memory of Etruria by its 
ancient walls, there were 400 Goths under Uli- 
gisalus. Fiesole, which from her high perch looks 

^ I must ask the reader to excuse some apparent incon- 
sistency in my use of ancient and modem names. I prefer 
Clusium to Chiusi because 'Lars Porsena of Clusium' has 
made every schoolboy familiar with the former: but for the 
sake of Signorelli's frescoes and Francesca's death I prefer 
Orvieto and Bimini to the less easily recognised Urbs Vetus 
and Ariminum. 

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Arrangement of Gothic and Roman Armies. 289 

down upon Florence and the vale of Arno, was book v. 
another Gothic stronghold, but we are not told °'^^' 
by how many men it was occupied. Osimo, which ^^^' 
similarly overlooks Ancona and the Hadriatic, 
was held by 4000 picked troops imder Visandus, 
and here, the advance of Belisarius was to be 
checked by a more stubborn resistance than was 
maintained by any of the other Gothic garrisons. 
At Urbino were stationed 20cx> Goths under 
Morras. Mons Feletris (the high rock of S. Leo 
and the original capital of the mediaeval princi- 
pality of Montefeltro^) was occupied by 500 Goths, 
and Cesena by the like number. All of these 
places were high city-crowned hills of the kind 
with which not only the traveller in Italy but 
the student of pictures painted by the Umbrian 
masters is so familiar. They all bring back to 
the memory of an Englishman those graphic lines 
of Macaulay , — 

'Like an eagle's nest 
Perched on the crest 
Of pui-ple Apennine.' 

Such were the Gothic strongholds. 

On the other side the Romans held Narni, 
Spoleto, Perugia, and, across the central mountain- 
chain, Ancona and Eimini. 

A glance at the map will show how the com- 
batants were ranged, as if for one vast pitched 
battle, along the line of the Flaminian Way : and 

* See Dennistoun's Dukes of Urbino, i. 71, where there is a 
striking view of this most peculiar cliff-fortress. 


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290 The Relief of Rimini. 

BOOKV. the reader will not fail to notice the outlyinsr 

Ch. 10. 

— '. — 1 posts held by each party : Orvieto, within 
^^ ■ seventy-four miles of Eome, garrisoned by 
Goths; Eimini, within thirty-three miles of 
Eavenna, garrisoned by Eomans. If we may 
be permitted to take a simile from chess, each 
player has one piece pushed far up towards 
the enemy's line, threatening to cry check to the 
king, but itself in serious danger if not strongly 
^^"^ Belisarius had no mind to leave his piece so 
^hnfrom dangerously advanced. By a brilliant display of 
rashness, and it must be added of insubordination, 
John, with his 20cx> Isaurian horsemen, had ad- 
vanced to Eimini; and now the commander-in- 
chief, wanting the Isaurians for other service, 
ordered them to withdraw from that perilous 
position. Simimoning his son-in-law Ildiger, and 
Martin (the veteran of the Vandal war and the 
sharer in the flight of Solomon), who had come 
out with the recent reinforcements to Italy, he 
put looo horsemen under their command and gave 
them a commission to take his orders to John. 
These orders were that he should withdraw with 
all his troops from Eimini, leaving in it a small 
garrison of picked soldiers drawn from the too 
numerous defenders of Ancona, which had been 
taken possession of by Conon at the head of his 
Thracians and Isaurians. The very smallness of 
the garrison at Eimini would, Belisarius hoped, 
induce the Goths to pass it by unmolested ; while, 

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Ildiger and Martin on the Flaminian Way. 291 

on the other hand, two thousand cavalry soldiers, book v. 
the flower of the Isaurian reinforcements, would 

offer a tempting prize to the enemy, to whom they ^^ ' 
would, if left at Rimini, soon be compelled to sur- 
render by shortness of provisions. 

Ildiger and Martin, whose watchword was speed, ndigerand 
soon distanced the barbarian army who were the riami- 
marching in the same direction, but who were^ 
an unwieldy host, and were obliged to make a 
long circuit whenever they came near a Roman 
fortress. As many of our actors have to traverse Probable 
the same Flaminian Way in the course of the next their 
few years, it may be well briefly to describe the ^**^^®^* 
journey of these two officers, though assuredly they, 
in their breathless haste, took not much note of 
aught beside castles and armies. 

Issuing forth from Rome by the Flaminian Fin* day: 
Gate (Porta del Popolo), and after two miles' Tiber 
journey crossing the Tiber by the Ponte MoUe, 
they would keep along the high table-land on the 
right bank of that river till they reached the 
base of precipitous Soracte — 

*Not now in snow,' 
but which 

'from out the plain 
Heaved like a long-swept wave about to break, 
And on the curl hung pausing^/ 

Soon after Soracte was left behind, they would 
pass through the long ravine-girdled street of 
Falerii (near Civita Castellana), and then at 

* Childe Harold, iv. 74, 75. 
U 2 

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292 The Relief of Rimini. 

BOOKv. Borghetto, thirty-eight miles ^ from Kome, would 

\ 1 cross the Tiber again and strike into the Sabine 

^^^' hills. The town, which is called in inscriptions 
' splendidissima civitas Ocricolana/ now represented 
by the poor little village of Otricoli, at a distance of 
forty-five miles from Kome, might possibly receive 
them at the end of their first day's journey. 
Second Ncxt day they would fairly enter the old 

thevaUey proviuco of Umbria^, exchange greetings with the 

of the NaT. , c^ C3 c? ^ 

friendly garrison of Nami, high up on its hill, and 
gaze down on the magnificent bridge of Augustus, 
whose single arch still stands so proudly in the 
ravine through which Nar's white waters are 
rolling. Perchance on a still summer's day they 
might hear the roar of the cascades of Velinus as 
- they rode out from the city of Interamnia (Temi). 
The second day s journey of forty miles would be 
ended as they wound up the hill of Spoleto and 
entered the strong fortress built upon its height 
by King Theodoric. They are still mounting up 
the valley of the sulphurous Nar, and are now 
in the heart of what was formerly one of the most 
prosperous pastoral regions of Italy. The softly- 
flowing Clitumnus, by which perchance Virgil once 
walked, viewing with a farmer s admiring eye the 
cattle in its meadows ^ accompanies them when 

^ These distances are all given in Boman miles. The Roman 
mile is about eight per cent, shorter than the English. 
' At this time forming part of Tuscia et Umbria. 
' Hinc albi, Clitumne, greges et maxima taurus 
Victima, saepe tuo perfiisi flumine sacro, 
Bomanos ad templa deum duxere triumphos.' 

(Qeorgic u. 146-148.) 

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The Flaminian Way, 293 

they start on their next day's journey, and they book v. 
pass ahnost within sight of Mevania, which, like ^°' ^^' 
Clitumnus, nourished the far-famed milk-white ^^^* 
oxen that were slain for sacrifice on Eome's great 
days of triimiph ^ 

On this their third day's march they would pass Third day: 
the low-lying city of Fulginium, now Foligno. Topino 
They might look down the valley of the Topino, Jte A^n- 
past the hill on which now stand the terraced '^^'*®^' 
sanctuaries of Assisi, to the dim rock where the 
stronghold of Perugia was held by the faithful 
soldiers of the Emperor. But their course lies up 
the stream in a different direction. It is here that 
they begin to set themselves definitely to cross the 
great chain of the Apennines, whose high peaks 
have long been breaking the line of their northern 
horizon. Past the city and market which bore the 
name of the great road-maker Flaminius^ they 
ride, ascending ever, but by no severe gradient, 
till they reach the upland region in which Nucera, 
Tadinum^ Helvillum are situated, and see rising 
on their left the sharp serrated ridge at the foot 
of which, on the other side, lies the ancient Umbrian 
capital of Iguvium*. They are breathing moun- 
tain air, and, if it be now the month of June, the 
snow is still lingering in patches on the summits of 

' *And deck the bull, Mevania's bull, 

The bull as white as snow.' 

(Macaulay, Lays of Ancient Rome.) 
' Forum Flaminii, now curiously metamorphosed into S. Gio- 
vanni in Forifiamma. 

* Now Nocera, Tadino, Sigillo, * Now Qubbio. 

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294 The Relief of Rimini. 

BOOKV. the Apennines; but the road is good, and easily 
passable everywhere, even by a large and encum- 

^^^* bered army. And here, it may be on the summit 
of the pass just beyond the place* where the 
waters divide, these flowing southwards to the 
Tiber, those northwards and eastwards towards the 
Adriatic, our horsemen end their day's journey ; a 
long and toilsome one, for we have supposed them 
to travel on this day fifty-six miles. At the place 
where they halt for the night there is a posting 
station*, with a sword for its sign^. This sign 
might have been of prophetic import, for here 
probably, upon the crest of the Apennines, on the 
site of the modern village of Scheggia, was fought, 
fourteen years later, the decisive battle between 
the chosen Gothic champion and the lieutenant 
of the Byzantine Emperor. 
Fourth The fourth morning dawns, and the flying 

battle of column must be early in their saddles, fur they 
t»wa* " suspect that there is tough work awaiting them 
to-day. Down through the narrow gorge of the 
Burano, over at least one bridge whose Koman 
masonry still endures to our own days, they ride 
for two hours till they reach the fair city of Cales*, 

* Now called Casa di due Acque. 

* 'Mutatio/ Ordinary travellers would choose a 'manaio' 
like that at Helyillum rather than a mere *• mutatio ' to spend 
the night in. 

' Ad Ensem in the Tabula Peutingeriana. Corrupted into 
Ad Aesim in the Itinerary of Antoninus. 

* Its site was a little above its present representative Cagli, 
which was built in the thirteenth century (Mochi, Storia di 

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Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Digitized by 


Woitdburytype. ] 

[Bi'hveen pages 294, 295, 

Petra Pertusa. 

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Digitized by 


Petra Pertusa. 295 

situated on the flanks of the precipitous Monte book v. 
Petrano. And now at last, at the station which '^ ' 
goes sometimes by the name of Intercivsa, some- ^^^* 
times by that of Petra Pertusa^, and which is 
twenty-three miles from their morning's starting- 
point, they find their onward course checked, and 
recognise that only by hard fighting can they win 
through to bear the all -important message to 
Kimini. For what happened at Intercisa we need 
not draw upon our imaginations, since we find our- 
selves here again under the guidance of Procopius. 
This is his description of Petra, a description 
evidently the result of personal observation : — 

' This fortress was not built by the hands of man, Procopius's 
but was called into being ^ by the nature of the ^v^tvT^ 
place, for the road is here through an extremely (PassTdi 
rocky country. On the right of this road rims a ^ 
river, fordable by no man on account of the 
swiftness of its current. On the left, near at 
hand, a clifi" rises, abrupt and so lofty that if there 
should chance to be any men on its summit they 
seem to those at its base only like very little birds. 
At this point, long ago, there was no possibility 
of advance to the traveller ; the rock and river 
between them barring all further progress. Here 
then the men of old hewed out a passage through 

Cagli, pp. 13 and 14). Cagli boasts a lovely picture by the 
father of Raffaelle. 

' Procopius generally calls it simply Petra: twice (vol. ii. 
pp. 609 and 636) Petra Pertusa. 

" More literally, * was invented by the nature of the place ' 
(oXXA Tov x^p^ov ^ (jivais i^fvptv). 

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296 The Relief of Rimini. 

BooKv. the rock, and thus made a doorway into the 

^°' ^^' country beyond. A few fortifications above and 

^^^' around the gate turned it into a natural fortress of 

great size, and they called its name Petra [Pertusa].' 

Present The slight additional fortifications which the 

appearanoe , 

of the place received from the hand of man have disap- 
Rock. peared, but the natural features of the Passo di 
Furlo^ — so the passage is now called — precisely 
correspond to this description of Procopius. Coming 
from Cagli on the south, one enters a dark and 
narrow gorge, as grand, though not as long, as the 
Via Mala in Switzerland, and sees the great wall 
of rock rising higher and higher on the left, the 
mountain torrent of the Candigliano foaming and 
chafing angrily below. At length, when all further 
progress seems barred, the end of a tunnel is per- 
ceived ; we enter, and pass for 1 20 feet through the 
heart of the cliff. Emerging, we find the mountain 
pass ended : we see a broad and smiling landscape 
before us, and looking back we read upon the 
northern face of the rock the following inscription, 
telling us that the passage was hewn at the com- 
mand of the founder of the Flavian dynasty, 
seventy-six years after the birth of Christ : — 


TBiB . POT . VII . IMP. xvn .P.P. COS . vm* 


* The modem name Furlo, probably from/oru/w« (medieeval 
Latin for a sheath), Petra Pertusa (of Procopius), and Intercisa 
(of the Jemsalem Itinerary), all express the same idea, and may 
all be translated *The Tunnelled Rock.' 

' There certainly appears to be a stroke after the consular 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Petra Periusa. .. '"'297 

An inscription, probably of similar purport, over bookv; 
the southern end of the tunnel has been obli- ^' 

terated. "®- 

Of course to our generation, which has seen the 
St. Gothard and the Mont Cenis pierced by tunnels 
twelve miles in length, or even to the generation 
before us which beheld the galleries hewn in the 
rock for the great Alpine roads of Napoleon and 
his imitators, this work has nothing that is in 
itself marvellous. But when we remember that 
the Komans were unacquainted with the use of 
gunpowder, and consequently, as blasting was 
impossible, every square inch of rock had to be 
hewn out with axe and chisel, we shall see that 
there is something admirable in the courage 
which planned and the patience which accom- 
plished so arduous a work^ 

vn, but the chronology requires vn not vni. S. Mochi (p. 56) 
argues that the first i, which is an imperfect letter, has been 
added by a later hand. 

^ According to S. Mochi, another much smaller tunnel, 
running nearly at right angles to that of Vespasian, was made 
by the Umbrians before their subjection to Rome. This is very 
possibly true, but Mochi's argument that it is proved by Pro- 
copius*8 language about ' the men of old ' is not, I think, a sound 
one. The dimensions of this little tunnel (now almost or 
entirely concealed by a wall) are 26 feet long, 15 feet high, 
and 1 1 feet wide. The similar dimensions of Vespasian's tunnel 
are 125 feet of length, 17 J feet average width, and 17 feet 
average height. It is considerably wider and higher in the 
middle than at either en4» and the northern end is somewhat 
lower and narrower than the southern. Mochi thinks that the 
Romans, before Vespasian's tunnel was constructed, carried the 
road round outside the rock on an artificial platform raised 
above the stream. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

298 The Relief of Rimini. 

BooKV. Before this mountain gateway, additionally 
"' fenced and guarded by some few towers and 

The^wn- battlements, and provided with chambers for the 

fljct. accommodation of the sentinels, Ildiger and Mar- 
tin, with their thousand travel-stained horsemen, 
appeared and summoned its garrison to surrender. 
The garrison refused : and for some time the 
Boman horsemen discharged their missiles to no 
purpose. The Goths attempted no reply, but 
simply remained quiet and invulnerable in their 
stronghold. Then the Imperialist troops — among 
whom there were very probably some sure-footed 
Isaurian highlanders — clambered up the steep hill- 
side and rolled down vast masses of rock on the 
fortress below. Wherever these missiles came 
in their thundering course they knocked off some 
piece of masonry or some battlement of a tower. 
In the tunnel itself, the Goths would have been 
safe even from this rocky avalanche : but they 
were in the watch-towers, and it was perhaps too 

The Goths latc to seck the tunnels shelter. Utterly cowed, 
they stretched forth their hands to such of the 
Imperialist soldiers as still remained in the road- 
way, and signified their willingness to surrender. 
Their submission was accepted. They promised 
to become the faithful servants of the Emperor, 
and to obey the orders of Belisarius. A few, 
with their wives and children, were left as the 
Imperialist garrison of the fortress : the rest 
appear to have marched under the banner of 
their late assailants onward to Bimini. Petra 

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The Flaminian Way. 299 

Pertusa was won, and the Maminian Way was book v. 
cleared, from Eome to the Hadriatic. ^' 

If there was yet time the successful assailants ^^^' 

^ Journey 

would probably push on in order to spend the csontmued 
night in comfortable quarters at Forum Sem- raiiey of 

.^ -,, . . i? • ., , the Me- 

proniL It IS a journey oi nine miles down taunw. 
the broadening valley of the Metaurus. To 
every loyal Eoman heart this is classic ground, 
for here Livius and Nero won that famous victory 
over Hasdrubal, which saved Italy from becoming 
a dependency of Carthage. One of the high 
mountains that we have passed on our left bears 
yet the name of Monte Nerone in memory of the 
battle. What more immediately concerns the 
soldiers of Justinian is that the side valley, the 
mouth of which they are now passing, leads up to 
Urbino, thirteen miles off, and that Morras with 
his 2000 Goths holds that place for Witigis. But 
the barbarians seem to be keeping close in their 
rock-fortress, and without molestation from their 
foraging parties, Ildiger and Martin reach the 
friendly shelter of Forum Sempronii. This place, of 
which there are still some scanty ruins left about 
a mile from its successor and strangely disguised 
namesake, Fossombrone, was in Koman times an 
important centre of trade and government, a fact 
which is vouched for by the large collection of in- 
scriptions now preserved at the modem city^ 
Next day, the fifth of their journey according to 

' In the Seminario. Some of them have a curious mixture 
of Qreek and Latin characters. 

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300 The Relief of Rimini. 

BOOK V. our calculations, the horsemen would travel, still by 

Gh 10 

\ L the banks of the Metaurus and under the shade of 

YihhdAY' ^^ beautiful groves of oak. Sea-breezes and a 
Uiey reach touch of coolucss in the air warn them that they 

Fano on •^ 

the Hadri- are approaching the Hadriatic ; but still, if they 
look back over the route which they have traversed, 
they can see the deep cleft in the Apennine wall 
caused by the gorge of Petra, a continuing memorial 
of the hard-fought fight of yesterday. At the end 
of sixteen miles they reach the little city by the 
sea which bears the proud name of the Temple of 
Fortune (Fanum Fortunae). Its modern represen- 
tative, Fano, still keeps its stately walls, medisBval 
themselves, but by the quadrangular shape of 
their enclosure marking the site of their Eoman 
predecessors : and we can still behold the Arch 
of Augustus, added to by Constantino, under 
which in all probability rode the horsemen of 

Southwards from Fano the great highway runs 
along the seashore to Sena Gallica (Sinigaglia) and 
Ancona, which latter place is distant forty miles from 

The officers ^he Fauo of Fortuno. To Ancona the two ofl&cers 

go south- 
ward to proceed, turning their backs for a moment on 

and return Kimiui. They collect a considerable number of 

from , •' 

thence to foot-soldicrs at Ancoua, wend back with them to 
Fano, and then, turning northwards and passing 
through the little town of Pisaurum, traverse the 
forty-four miles which separate Rimini from Fano. 
They reach Rimini on the third day after leaving 
Ancona, the ninth (according to our conjectural 

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Ariminunt. 301 

arrangement of their journey) since their departure book v. 
from Eomei. ^°-''- 

Eimini is now a tolerably bright and cheerful ^^^' 

View of 

Italian city, with a considerable wealth of mediaeval Ariminum 
interest. The great half-finished church (instinct '""^ ' 
with the growing Paganism of the early Eenais- 
sance), which bears the name of ' The Temple of the 
Malatestas/ and which shows everywhere the sculp- 
tured elephant, badge of that lawless house, every- 
where the intertwined initials of Sigismund and his 
mistress Isotta, — ^the chapel in the market-place, 
where a Saint Anthony of Padua, distressed that 
men would not hearken to him, preached to the silent 
congregation of the fishes, — the house of Francesca 
da Eimini, where she read the story of Lancelot 
with her ill-fated lover, and * that day read no 
further,' — these are some of the chief spots hal- 
lowed by the associations of the Middle Ages ^ 
But the classical interests of the city are at least 
equally strong. Here, in the market-place, is the 
little square suggestus on which, so men say, Julius 
Caesar sprang to harangue his troops after the 
passage of the Eubicon. Here is a fine triumphal 
arch of Augustus, perhaps somewhat spoiled by 

^ 'Ev^cVdc re €9 *AyK&va (\66vt€S jcoa noXkovt oTrayaySfuvoi t&v cVct 
irc^tfv €9 'Apifitfvoy rpiTaiot d<f>UovrOy r^v re Btkitrapiov yv&fiijv dirrfy- 
ycXXov. The rpircuoA of course refers to their departure from 
Ancona. Eighty-four miles would be three good days' marches 
for the 'many foot-soldiers' by whom they were accompanied 
from Ancona. 

' For a full description of the architectural interests both of 
Rimini and Ancona I must refer my readers to Freeman's 
Historical and Architectural Sketches (1876, pp. 135-156). 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

302 The Relief of Rimini. 

BOOK V. the incongruous additions of the Middle Ages, but 
^"' ^^' still bearing on its two fronts, the faces, in good 
^^^* preservation, of Jupiter and Minerva, of Venus 
and Neptune. Above all, here still stands the 
Roman bridge of five stately arches spanning the 
wide stream of the Marecchia. Two slabs in the 
parapet of this bridge, which the contadino, coming 
in to market, brushes with his sleeve, record, in fine 
and legible characters, that the bridge was begun 
in the last year of Augustus and finished in the 
seventh year of Tiberius. Below the parapet, on 
the centre-stones of the arches, are yet visible the 
Augur s wand, the civic wreath, the funeral urn, 
and other emblems attesting the religious character 
of the rites with which the Imperial bridge-maker 
{Pontifex Maximus) consecrated his handiwork. 
John re- When Hdigcr and Martin stood before John in 
obey the the Practorium at Ariminimi and delivered the 
BeiSLiuB. message of Belisarius, that general flatly refused 
to obey it. It is difficult to -understand how 
John could have excused to himself such a 
violation of that implicit obedience which is 
the first duty of the soldier : but the one defect 
in the military character of Belisarius — a defect 
which parts him off from the general whom in 
many respects he so greatly resembles, Marl- 
borough — was his failure to obtain the hearty 
and loyal co-operation of his subordinate officers. 
There may have been a strain of capricious un- 
reasonableness in his own character to produce 
this result : or it may have been due to the fact 

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Siege of Rimini by Witigis. 303 

that he was too obviously guided in important affairs book v. 

Ch. 10. 

by the whims and the animosities of Antonina, 

Whatever the cause, John refused to part with ^^^* 
the 2CXX) horsemen under his command, or to 
evacuate Bimini. Damian also, his lieutenant, 
elected to abide with him. All that Ildiger and 
Martin could do was to withdraw the soldiers who 
belonged to the household of Belisarius, to leave 
the infitntry brought from Anoona, and to depart, 
which they did with all speed \ 

Before long, Witigis and his army stood before Rimini be- 
the walls of Ariminum. They constructed awiti^s. 
wooden tower high enough to overtop the battle- 
ments and resting on four strong wheels. Taking 
wamiDg by their experience at the siege of Eome, 
they did not, this time, avail themselves of oxen to 
draw their tower, but arranged that it should be 
pushed along by men inside, protected from the 
arrows of the foe. A broad and winding staircase The move- 
inside — perhaps not unlike that which leads to the 
top of the Campanile of St. Mark's at Venice — 
enabled large bodies of troops to ascend and de- 
scend rapidly. On the night after this huge 
machine was completed, they betook themselves 
to peaceful slumber, making no doubt that next 
day the city would be theirs ; a belief which was 
fully shared by the disheartened garrison, who 
saw that no obstacle existed to hinder the progress 
of the dreaded tower to their walls. Not yet, 

^ Ol dc rovff ircfbvff ovrov oiroXiircSyrcff mxra riixoi ci^Vdc ^v rots 
Btkurapttw dopvipSpois rr km imturniaraig dif€xo»prja'av. 

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304 The Relief of Rimini. 

BOOK V. however, would the energetic John yield to despair. 
°' Leaving the main body of the garrison to guard 
^^^' the walls in their usual order, he secretly sallied 
forth at dead of night with a band of hardy Isau- 
rians, all supplied with mattocks and trenching 
tools. Working with a will, but in deep silence, 
the brawny mountaineers succeeded, before day- 
break, in excavating a deep trench in front of the 
tower: and, moreover, the earth which they had 
dug out from the trench being thrown up on the 
inside interposed the additional obstacle of a 
mound between the besiegers and their prey*. 
Neither trench nor mound seems to have gone all 
round the city, but they sufficiently protected a 
weak portion of the walls, against which the Goths 
had felt secure of victory. Just before dawn the 
barbarians discovered what was being done, and 
rushed at full speed against the trenching party; 
but John, well satisfied with his night s work, 
retreated quietly within the city. 

The tower At dav-brcak Witims, who saw with sore heart- 
found use- •' . 
lew. ache the hated obstacle to his hopes, put to death 

the careless guards whose slumbers had made it 

possible to construct it. He still determined, 

however, to try his expedient of the tower, and 

ordered his men to fill up the trench with fascinea 

This they did, though under a fierce discharge of 

stones and arrows &om the walls. But when the 

* An interesting passage, as illustrating the way in which 
fosse and agger were constructed in the great limitary works 
of the Romans in Britain and Germany. 

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The Gothic Tower made useless. 305 

ponderous engiiae advanced over the edge of the book v. 
trench, the fascines bent and cracked under its _!!ll»L 
weight, and the impelling soldiers found it im- ^^^' 
possible to move it further. Moreover, were even 
the trench surmounted, the heaped-up mound 
beyond would have been an insuperable difficulty. 
As the day wore on, the weary barbarians, fearing 
lest the tower should be set on fire in a nocturnal 
sally, prepared to draw their ineflfectual engine 
back into their own lines. John saw the move- ■ 
ment, and longed to prevent it. He addressed his 
soldiers in kindling words, in which, while com- 
plainiug of his desertion by Belisarius, he urged 
upon his men the thought that their only chance 
of seeing again the dear ones whom they had lefb 
behind, lay in their own prowess, in that supreme 
crisis of their fate when life and death himg upon 
a razors edge^. He then led nearly his whole 
army forth to battle, leaving only a few men to 
guard the ramparts- The Goths resisted stub- 
bornly, and, when evening closed in, succeeded in 
drawing back the tower ; but the contest had been 
so bloody, and they had lost in it so many of 
their heroes, that they determined to try no more 
assaults, but to wait and see what their ally. 
Hunger, whose hand was already making itself felt 
upon the besieged, would do towards opening the 
gates of Eimini^. 

^ OXs rk irpoy/iora hsi (vpoC oxft^r &air€p fffiip reanhf urraprai, 
A Homeric siinile borrowed by Procopius. 

* Soon after these events Procopius puts ' the end of winter 
and of the third year of the war' (May-Jane, 538). 

VOL. rv. X 

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906 The Relief of Rimini, 

BooKv. Not long after the sucoessful repulse of the 
"' Gothic attack on this Umbrian searport, her rival 
Na^w *^^ sea-port of Picenum, Ancona, all but fell a prey 
(^pe of to a similar afisault. Witigis had sent a general 
•on of An- named Wakim to Osimo with orders to lead the 


troops assembled in that stronghold to the siege of 
the neighbouring Ancona. The fortress of this city 
was very strong, situated probably on the high 
hill where the cathedral now stands S looking down 
on the magnificent harbour. But if the Boman 
castellum was strong, the town below it was weak 
E1TOP8 of and diflScult to defend. Conon, one of the generals 
commiind- of Isauriaus recently despatched from Constanti- 
coiia! * nople, either from a tender-hearted desire to pro- 
tect the peaceful citizens, or from a wish to 
distinguish himself by performing that which 
seemed impossible, included not the fortress only 
but the city in his line of defence, and drew up 
his forces on the plain about half-a-mile inland 
from the city. Here he professed to entrench him- 
self,, but his trench, says Procopius contemptuously, 
winding all round the foot of the mountain, might 
have been of some service in a chase after game, 
but was quite useless for war. The defenders of 
this line soon found themselves hopelessly out- 
numbered by the Gotha They turned and fled 
towards the castle. The first comers were received 
without diflSculty, but when the pursuing Goths 
began to be mingled with the pursued, the 

^ Not actually on the same spot as the cathedral, as It is 
generally thought that this replaces the Temple of Venus, 

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Siege of Ancona. 307 

defenders wisely closed the gates. Conon him- book v. 
self was among those who were thus shut out, "* ^^' 

and who had to be ignominiously hauled up by *^^* 
ropes let down from the battlements. The bar- 
barians applied scaling ladders to the walls, and 
all but succeeded in surmounting them. They 
probably would have succeeded altogether but 
for the eflforts of two brave men, Ulimun the 
Thracian and Bulgundus the Him, the former in 
the body-guard of Belisarius, the latter in that of 
Valerian, who by mere chance happened to have 
recently landed at Ancona. These men kept the 
enemy at bay with their swords till the garrison 
had all re-entered the fort. Then they too, 
with their bodies hacked all over, and half-dead 
from their wounds, turned back from the field 
of fight. 

Procopius does not say what became of the city 
of Ancona, but it was probably sacked by the 

We hear but little of the doings of Belisarius Surronder 
while these events were passing^. His scheme Tader and 
for gradually and cautiously reducing the district 
which lay nearest to Rome, before advancing north- 
wards, was rewarded by the surrender of Tuder 
and Clusium. The four hundred Goths who occu- 
pied the former place and the thousand Goths in 
the latter surrendered at the mere rumour that 
his army was approaching, and having received a 

^ Possibly Procopius was himself shut up in Rimini at this time, 
but quitted it and joined Belisarius before the siege was raised. 


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308 The Relief of Rimini. 

BOOKV. promise that their lives should be spared, were 
^•^^' sent away unharmed to Sicily and Naples. 
*^^* . But now the arrival of fresh and large reinforce^ 
forcemcnte meuts from Constantinople in Picenum^ drew Beli- 
■tantino- sarius, almost in spite of himself, to the regions of 
^ ^* the Hadriatic, and forced him to reconsider the de- 

cision which he had formed, to leave the mutinous 
general at Eimini to his fete. 
Nanesthe At the head of this new army* sent forth from 


Constantinople was the Eunuch Naraes, a man 
destined to exert a more potent inSuence on the 
fiiture fortunes of Italy than even. Belisarius him- 
self. He was bom in Persarmenia — that portion 
of Armenia which was allotted to Persia at the 
partition of 384 — and the year of his birth was 
probably about 478. As the practice of rearing, 
boys for service as eunuchs in the Eastern Courts 
had by this time become common, it is quite 
possible that he was not of servile origin- But 
whatever his birth and original condition may 
have been, we find him in middle life occupying 
a high place in the Byzantine Court. After filling 
the post of Chartularivs ®, or Keeper of the Archives 

^ Probably at Ancona, where they may have rescued the 
city from the troops of WaJdm, but we are not expressly told 
this by Procopius. 

' The number of these reinforcements is not very clearly 
stated by Procopius, but it seems to have been 5000 men of 
various nationalities beside 2000 of the barbarous Heruli (D# 
Bello Qotthico, iL 13 ; p. 199)* 

' We get this fact from Marcellinus Comes (s.a. 552) : < Jus- 
tinianus . • . Narsem eunuchum Chartularinm et Cubicularium 
8uum principem militiae fecit.' For the CharttdarU Saeri 

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TTie Eunuch Narses. 309 

of the Imperial Bed-chamber, an office which he book v. 
shared with two colleagues and which gave him 

the rank of a Spectabilis, he rose (some time ^^^' 
before the year 530) to the splendid position 
of Praepositua 8acri OvhiouUy or Grand Chamber- 
lain. He thus became an Illustris, and one of the 
greatest of the Ulustres, standing in the same 
front rank with the Praetorian Prefects and the 
Masters of the Soldiery, and probably, in practice, 
more powerful than any of those ministers, as 
having more continual and confidential access to 
the person of the sovereign \ 

It has been already stated that in the terrible Sendoes at 
days of the insurrection of the Neka the Eunuch not. 
Chamberlain rendered essential service to his^^'* 
master. While the newly proclaimed Emperor 
Hypatius was sitting in the Circus receiving the 
congratulations of his friends and listening to 
their invectives against Justinian, Narses crept 
forth into the streets with a bag in his hand 
filled fi-om the Imperial treasury, met with some 
of the leaders of the Blue faction, reminded them 
of old benefits of Justinian's, of old grudges 
against the Greens, judiciously expended the 
treasures in his bag, and finally succeeded in 
persuading them to shout 'Justiniane Imperator 
Tu vincas.' The coalition of the two factions 

Cubictdi Tres, see Bocldng'B Notitia Imperii (Orientis, 233 ; 
Occidentis, 293), and the passages there quoted from the Codes 
of Theododus and Justinian. 

* See vol. i. pp. 221-2 for a sketch of the office of the Prae- 
positos Sacri Cubiculi. 

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SlO The Relief of Rimini. 

BOOKV, was dissolved and the throne of the Emperor was 
^12^ saved. 

^}^' This then was the man, hitherto versed only in 
the Em- the intrigues of the cabinet, or at best in the dis- 
■(^n^' cussions of the cabinet, whom Justinian placed at 
a^wLi. of the head of the new army which was sent to Italy 
to secure the conquests of Belisarius. What was 
the Emperor's motive in sending so trusty a coun- 
sellor but so inexperienced a soldier, a man too 
who had probably reached the sixth decade of his 
life, on such a martial mission 1 The motive, as 
we shall see, was not stated in express terms to the 
Eunuch : perhaps it was not fully confessed by the 
Emperor even to himself. But there can be little 
doubt that there was growing up in the Imperial 
mind a feeling that the splendid victories of Beli- 
sarius might make of him a dangerous rival for 
the Empire, and that it was desirable to have him 
closely watched, but not seriously hampered, by a 
devoted partisan of the dynasty, a man who from 
his age and condition could never himself aspire 
to the purple. Like an Aulic counsellor in the 
camp of Wallenstein, like the Commissioners of the 
Convention in the camp of Dumouriez, was Narses 
in the praetorium of Belisarius. 
Council of A great council of war was held at Firmum 
Fermo. (uow Fermo), a town of Picenum about forty 
miles south of Ancona and six miles inland from 
the Hadriatic. There were present at it not only 
the two chiefs Belisarius and Narses, but Martin 
and Ildiger, Justin the Master of the Soldiery for 

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Council of War. 311 

niyricum, another Narses with his brother Aratius book v. 
(Persarmenians Kke the Eunuch Narses^, who had 

deserted the service of Persia for that of Byzan- ^^ ' 
tium), and some wild Herulian chieftains named 
Wisand, Alueth, and Fanotheus^. The one great 
subject of discussion was, of course, whether 
Rimini should be relieved or left to its fate. To 
march so far northwards, leaving the strong posi- 
tion of Osimo untaken in their rear, seemed like 
courting destruction for the whole army. On the 
other hand, the distress of the defenders of 
Rimini for want of provisions was growing so 
severe that any day some terrible tidings might 
be expected concerning them. The opinion of the 
majority of the oflSicers was bitterly hostile to John. 
* By his raahness, his vanity, his avaricious thirst 
for plunder, he had brought a Roman army into 
this extremity of danger. He had disobeyed 
orders, and not allowed the commander-in-chief to 
conduct the campaign according to his own ideas 
of strategy.' They did not say ' Let him suffer 
the penalty of his folly/ but the conclusion to be 
drawn was obvious. 

When the younger men had blurted out their Advice of 
invectives against the unfortunate general, the&vourof 

* Narses' reception of these countrymen of his into the Im- 
perial service is the first event of his career that is recorded 
(Proc. De Bell. Pers. i. 12). 

' Procopius here interposes a long hut interesting digression 
on the Heruli, whose savage hahits and inconstant temper seem 
to have filled him with loathing and yet to have fascinated 
his gaze. 

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312 The Relief of Rimini. 

BOOKV. grey-headed Narses arose. Admitting his own 
^^ inexperience in the art of war, he urged that in 
relief the extraordinary circumstances in which they 
Rimini, ^ere placed, even an amateur soldier might be 
listened to with advantage. The question pre- 
sented itself to bis mind in this way. Were the 
evil results which might follow from one or other 
of the two courses proposed, of equal magnitude 1 
If Osimo were left untaken, if the garrison of 
Osimo were allowed to recruit itself from without, 
stm the enterprise on that fortress might be 
resumed at some future time, and probably with 
success. But if Bimini were allowed to surrender, if 
a city recovered for the Emperor were suffered to 
be retaken by the barbarians, if a gallant general, a 
brave army were permitted to fall into their cruel 
hands, what remedy could be imagined for these 
reverses ? The Goths were still far more numerous 
than the soldiers of the Emperor, but it was the 
consciousness of uniform disaster which cowed 
their spirits and prepared them for defeat. Let 
them gain one such advantage as this, so signal, 
so manifest to all Italy, they would derive new 
courage from their success, and twice the present 
number of Imperial soldiers could not beat them. 
* Therefore,' concluded Narses, * if John has treated 
your orders with contempt, most excellent Beli- 
sarius, take your own measures for punishing him, 
since there is nothing to prevent your throwing 
him over the walls to the enemy when once you 
have relieved Bimini. But see that you do not, 

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A Letter from John. 31S 

in punishiDg what I firmly believe to have been book v. 
the involuntary error of Johp, take vengeance on ^'^^' . 
us and on all loyal subjects of the Emperor.' ^^^' 

This speech, uttered by the most trusted coun- Letter re- 
seller of Justinian, and coming from one who John, 
loved the besieged general with strong personal 
aflfection, produced a great effect upon the coimcil; 
an effect which was increased by the reading of 
the following letter, which, just at the right 
moment of time, was brought by a soldier who 
had escaped from the besieged town and passed 
unnoticed through the ranks of the enemy. 

'John to the Illustrious Belisarius, Master of the 
Soldiery ^ 

' Know that all our provisions have now long 
ago been exhausted, and that henceforward we are 
no longer strong enough to defend ourselves.from 
the besiegers, nor to resist the citizens should they 
insist on a surrender. In seven days therefore, 
much against our will, we shall have to give up 
this city and oursdves to the enemy, for we can- 
not longer avert the impending doom. I think 
you will hold that our act, though it will tarnish 
the lustre of your arms, is excused by absolute 

In sore perplexity, Belisarius, yielding to the Scheme for 
wishes of the council of war, devised the following of Eimim. 
almost desperate scheme for the relief of Eimini. 
To keep in check the garrison of Osimo a detach- 
ment of 1000 men were directed to encamp on 
^ The snperscription of the letter is ooigectaral. 

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314 The Relief of Rimini. 

BOOKV. the sea-ooast, about thirty miles ^ from the Gothic 
^^' ^^' BtroDgbold, with orders vigilantly to watch its de- 
*^^' fenders, but on no account to attack them. The 
largest part of the army was put on ship-board, 
and the fleet, under the command of Ildiger^ was 
ordered to cruise slowly towards Bimini, not out- 
stripping the troops which were to march by 
land, and when arrived, to anchor in front"^ the 
besieged city. Martin, with another division, was 
to march along the great highway, close to the 

March of coast, through Ancona, Fano, and Pesaro. Beli- 
the sarins himself and the Eunuch Narses led a flying 
column, which was intended to relieve Eimini by 
a desperate expedient if all the more obvious 
methods should faiL Marching westwards from 
Fermo they passed through Urbs Salvia, once an 
important city, but so ruined by an onslaught of 
Alaric that when irrocopius passed through it he 
saw but a single gateway and the remains of a 
tesselated pavement, attesting its former greatness '. 
From thence they struck into the heart of the 
Apennines, and in the high region near Nocera 
descried the great Flaminian Way coming north- 
wards from Spoleto*. Keeping upon this great 

^ nActtf Av^lfiov arabiovt dioicoo-tovp mr€xov. The distance 
seems too great. 

' Subordinate officers, Herodian, Uliares, and Narses the 
Less (brother of Aratius). 

' Urbs Salvia is represented by the modem village of 
Urbesaglia, near Macerata. It seems that the scanty Boman 
remains mentioned by Procopius have since disappeared. 

^ In strictness they had joined it at an earlier point : for the 
old Via Flaminia went from Nuceria through Septempeda to 

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Mountain march of Belisartus. 316 

highway they recrossed the Apennine chain, but book v. 
before they were clear from the intricacies of the "' ' 
mountains, and when they were at the distance of . ?i^\ , 
a day's journey from Rimini ^ they fell in with a®^^^''^*®' 
party of Goths who were casually passing that Goths. 
way, possibly marching between the two Gothic 
strongholds of Osimo and Urbino. So little were 
the barbarians thinking of war that the wounds 
received from the arrows of the Romans were the 
first indications of their presence. They sought 
cover behind the rocks of the mountain-pass, aiid 
some thus escaped death. Peeping forth from 
their hiding-places, they perceived the standards 
of Belisarius;. they saw an apparently countless 
multitude streaming over the mountains — for the 
army was marching in loose order by many moun- 
tain pathways, not in column along the one high 
road — and they fled in terrci" to the camp of 
Witigis, to show their wounds, to tell of the 
standards of Belisarius and to spread panic by 
the tidings that the great general was on his 
march to encompass them. In fact, the troops Terror in 
of Belisarius, who bivouacked for the night on the of witigis. 
scene of this little skirmish, did not reach Rimini 
till all the fighting was over; but its Gothic be- 
siegers expected every moment to see him emerge 
fi-om the mountains, march towards them from 
the north, and cut off their retreat to Ravenna. 

Ancona : but I adopt the later usage and keep the name for the 
main tirack leading northwards through Petra Pertusa to Fanum. 
\ One may conjecttire, not far from Fossombrone. 

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316 The Relief of Rimini. 

BOOKv. While the Goths were thus anxiously looking 

^°' ^^' towards the north, suddenly upon the south, be- 

^ ^^^' tween them and Pesaro, blazed the watch-fires of 

Appear- ' 

anceofthe qj^ enomious armv. These were the troops of 

army of ^ ^ ^ 

Martin, Martin, who had been CMrdwed by Belisarius to 
adopt this familiar stratagem, to make his Hne 
appear in the night-time larger than it actually 
and of the was. Then, to complete the discouragement of 
^*' the Goths, the Imperial war-ships, which indeed 
bore a formidable army, appeared in the twilight 
in the harbour of Bimini. Fancying themselves 
on the point of being surrounded, the soldiers of 
Witigis left their camp, filled as it was with the 
trappings of their barbaric splendour, and fled in 
headlong haste to Bavenna. Had there been any 
strength or spirit left in the Boman garrison, 
they might, by one timely sally, have well-nigh 
destroyed the Gothic army and ended the war 
upon the spot ; but hunger and misery had re- 
duced them too low for this. They had enough 
life left in them to be rescued, and that was all. 
Successive Of the relieving army, Ildiger and his division 
of the re- wcrc the first to appear upon the scene. They 
Jdk^. sacked the camp of the Goths and made slaves of 
the sick barbarians whom they found there. Then 
came Martin and his division ^ Last of all, about 
noon of the following day, Belisarius and the 
Eunuch appeared upon the scene. When they 
saw the pale faces and emaciated forms of the 

* Procopius does not say this, but we may feirly conjec- 
ture it. 

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yo&n and his Army delivered. 317 

squalid defenders of Eimini, Belisarius, who was book v. 
still thinking of the original disobedience to 

orders which had brought about all this suffer- ^^^' 
ing, could not suppress the somewhat ungenerous 
taunt, * Oh, Joannes ! you will not find it easy to 
pay your debt of gratitude to Ildiger for this 
delirerance/ * No thanks at all do I owe to Ildi- John at- 
ger, but all to Narses the Emperor's Chamberlain,* deliverance 
answered John, who either knew or conjectured 
what had passed in the council of war at Fermo 
regarding his deliverance. 

Thus were sown the seeds of a dissension which 
wrought much harm, and might conceivably have 
wrought much more, to the affairs of the Emperor. 

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NOTE B. On thb March o? Beusauius. 

NOTEB. I HAVE endeavoured to construct the most probable 
-,8 theory that I could out of the not very intelligible account 
given by Frocopius (who himself accompanied the General) 
concerning Belisarius's march to Bimini. That he struck 
inland to the Apennines and that he passed through Urbs 
Salvia is clear. This route would lead him to the Flami- 
nian Way, and I cannot think that, having gained it, 
the road being now clear of the obstruction at Petra Per- 
tusa, and time being of such vast importance to him, he 
would again depart from it, or continue among the Apen- 
nines longer than was absolutely needful. But if so, his 
route would, from Fanum onwards, coincide with that of 
Martin, and it must be admitted that the language of 
Procopius, without precisely denying this, does not easily 
harmonise with it. Other weak points of my theory are, 
that the Ooths expected Belisarius from the norths and 
that the soldiers were scattered all over the rocky paths ^j 
which does not exactly correspond with the notion of 
an orderly march along the Via Flaminia. Those who 
consider these difficulties insurmountable may suppose 
Belisarius to have crossed the Flaminian Way, entered 
Tuscany, marched by Perugia and Arezzo, traversed the 
Apennines in the neighbourhood of Vallombrosa and de- 
scended the valley of the Marecchia or one of the parallel 
streams. But they will have to face the difficulty of the 
loss of time involved in so circuitous a route, and they 
must also remember that both Cesena and Mens Feletris 
were garrisoned by Ooths. 

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Source : — 
Procopius, De Bello Gotthico, ii. i% and ii-%2 (pp. 195, BOOK v. 
ai7-235). ^"■^'- 

The relief of Eimini greatly strengthened the The party 

party of Narses at the council-table of the Imperial in the 
generals. It was indeed the arm of Belisarius 
that had wrought that great achievement, but the 
directing brain, as John asserted, and as most men 
in the army believed, was the brain of the Imperial 
Chamberlain. Accordingly friends and flatterers 
of this successful amateur general gathered round 
him in large numbers, with theil: unwise yet only 
too gratifying suggestions. * It was surely,* they 
said, * beneath his dignity to allow himself to be 
dragged about, as a mere silbordinate officer, in 
the train of Belisarius. When the Emperor sent 
a minister of such high rank, the sharer of his 
most secret counsels, into the field, he must have 
intended him to hold a separate command, to win 
glory for himself by his great actions, and not 
merely to help in gathering fresh laurels for the brow 
of the already too powerful Master of the Soldiery. 

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320 Dissensions in the Imperial Camp. 

BOOK V. The suggestion that he should himself be general- 
°' in-chief over a separate army was one which would 
*^ ' meet with ready acceptance from the bravest of 
the officers and the best part of the troops. All 
the Herulian auxiliaries, all his own body-guard, 
all John's soldiers and those of Justin, all the 
men who followed the standards of the other 
Narses and his brother Aratius, a gallant host 
amounting in all to folly 10,000 men, would be 
proud to fight imder the deliverer of Kimini, and 
to vindicate for Narses at least an equal share with 
Belisarius in the glory of the recovery of Italy. 
An equal, or even henceforward a greater share ; 
for the army of Belisarius was so weakened by the 
detachment of soldiers doing garrison-duty in all 
the towns from Sicily to Picenum, that he would 
have to follow rather than to lead in the opera- 
tions which were yet necessary to finish the 
BdUsariiu These insidious counsels, urged at every possible 
a ooundi Opportunity, bore their expected fruit in the mind 
of the Eunuch, elated as he was by his great 
success in the affair of Rimini. Order after order 
which he received from Belisarius was quietly 
disregarded, as not suited to the present posture 
of affairs ; and the General was made to feel, 
without the possibility of mistake, that, though he 
might advise,'he must not presume to command, so 
great a personage as the Praepositus of the Sacred 
Bed-chamber. When Belisarius understood that 
this was really the position taken up by Narses he 

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speech of Belisarius to the Generals. 321 

summoned all the generals to a council of war. book v. 
Without directly complaining of the spirit of in- 

subordination which he saw creeping in among ^^^ ' ^ 
them, he told them that he saw their views did 
not coincide with his as to the present crisis. The 
enemy, in his view, were still essentially stronger 
than their own forces. By dexterity and good- 
luck the Goths had hitherto been successfully out- 
generalled; but, let them only redeem their for- 
tunes by one happy stroke, the opportunity for 
which might be offered them by the over-confidence 
of the Imperial oflScers, and, passing from despair 
to the enthusiasm of success, they would become 
dangerous, perhaps irresistible. To the mind of 
Belisarius the present aspect of the theatre of war 
brought grave anxiety. With Witigis and thirty 
or forty thousand^ Goths at Bavenna, with his 
nephew besieging Milan ^ and dominating Liguria, 
with Osimo held by a numerous and gallant Gothic 
garrison, with even Orvieto, so near to Bome, still in 
the possession of the enemy, and with the Franks, of 
old so formidable to the Bomans, hanging like a 
thunder-doud upon the Alps, ready at any moment 
to sweep down on Upper Italy, there was danger 
that the Imperial army might soon find itself 
surrounded by foes. He proposed therefore that 
the host should part itself into two and only two 
strong divisions, that the one should march into 

^ T&r6»v fivptdbts froXXcu. 

• The history of this siege will be related consecutively a 
few pages farther on. 


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322 Dissensions in the Imperial Camp. 

BOOK V. Liguria for the relief of Milan, and the other should 
^ L undertake the reduction of Osimo and such 

*^^' other exploits in Umbria and Picenum as they 
might find themselves capable of performing. We 
are led to infer, though the fisu^ is not expressly 
stated, that Belisarius offered to Narses and the 
generals of his fection the choice of undertaking 
independ«itly either of these alternative opera- 

Reply of When the speech of Belisarius was ended, Narses 
said curtly, and with little deference to the 
General's authority, * What you have laid before us 
is doubtless true as far as it goes. But I hold 
that it is quite absurd to say that this great army 
is equal only to the atccomplishment of these two 
objects, the relief of Milan and the reduction of 
Osimo. While you are leading such of the Bomans 
as you think fit to those cities, I and my friends 
will proceed to recover for the Emperor the pro- 
vince of Aemilia [in other words, the southern bank 
of the Po from Piacenza to the Hadriatic]. This 
is a province which the Goths are said especially 
to prize. We shall thus so terrify them that they 
will not dare to issue forth from Kavenna and 
cut off your supplies, an operation which they are 
sure to undertake if we all march off together to 
besiege Osimo.' 

Belisarius So spako Narscs, and thus forced Belisarius to 

readfl a 

letter from fall back ou his Imperial commission, which gave 

the Siin* 

peror. him the supreme and ultimate responsibility for 
the movements of the whole army of Italy. That 

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Tenour of Narses' commission. 323 

this authority was not impaired by recent changes book V^ 
was proved by a letter from the Emperor, »^Ll 
which he read to the council, and which ran as ^^^* 
follows : — 

*We have not sent our chamberlain Narses to 
Italy to take the command of the army. For we 
wish Belisarius alone to lead the whole army, 
whithersoever it may seem best to him; and it 
behoves you aU to follow him in whatsoever makes 
for the good of our Empire.' 

So ran the letter of Justinian, which seemed at Singular 
first sight entirely to negative the claims of Narses clause in 
to an independent command. But, as the Eunuch ment. 
pointed out, a singular limitation was contained in 
the last clause, * you are to follow him in whatsch 
ever makes for the good of our Empire.' * We do 
not think,' said Narses, ' that your present plan of 
campaign is for the good of the Empire, and 
therefore we decline to follow you.' The clause 
had possibly been introduced in order to guard 
against the contingency of Belisarius aspiring to 
the purple. Or perhaps, now as in the case of 
Odovacar's embassy to Constantinople, if seemed 
to the guiding spirits in the Imperial Chancery a 
stroke of statesmanship to put forth an ambiguous 
document which might be interpreted by each side 
according to its own inclination. The Empire by 
the Bosporus was already developing those qualities 
which we, perhaps unfairly, term Oriental. 

For the moment some kind of compromise seems Temporary 
to have been patched up. Peranius, with a large S^I^- 

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324 Dissensions in the Imperial Camp. 

BOOK V. army, was sent to besiege Orvieto, which, from its 

^ L nearness to Borne, was admitted by all to be a point 

^^^* of danger. Belisarius, with the rest of the army, 
moved oflF to attack Urbino, which was a day's 
journey to the south of Kimini Narses and John, 
and the other generals of that party, followed or 
accompanied Belisarius ; but when they came in 
sight of the city, the disaffected generals encamped 
on the west, leaving Belisarius and his adherents 
to bit down on the eastern side. 
Siege of Urbino, the * Athens of Italy/ as she was called 

Urbino , 

bc^run. in the short but glorious summer of her fame, 
acquired imperishable renown under the rule of 
the princes of the house of Montefeltro ^ in the 
fifteenth century. The influence exerted on Italian 
Literature by the fostering care of these princes 
is known to all scholars; but in the history of 
Painting the name of their little capital is of 
mightier meaning, since the utmost ends of the 
earth have heard the fame of Eaffaelle of Urbino. 
Now, she is again not much more than she was 
in the days of Belisarius, a little bleak fortress 
looking 'forth upon the bare horizon of Umbrian 
hills, herself highest of them all. No river has 
she of her own, but is reached by a steep ascent of 
five miles from the fair valley of the Metaurus. 

^ K, as seems probable, tbe Movi^ptrpov of Procopius (ii. 1 1) 
is the same as the Montefeltro of the Middle Ages, it is curioiis 
to observe that these two strongholds, the chief fortresses of 
the Goths in Northern Umbria in the sixth century, were yet 
more closely associated in the Middle Ages under the sway of 
' the Counts of Montefeltro and Urbino.' 

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Siege of Urbino. 825 

This was the city to which, in the autumn of 538, book v. 
Belisarius sent ambassadors, promising all kinds of ^°' ^^' 
favours to the garrison if they would anticipate ^^^* 
their inevitable fate by a speedy suiTender. Strong 
in their belief of the impregnability of their fort- 
ress, in the good store of provisions which they 
had accumulated within its walls, and in the pos- 
session of an excellent spring of water, the gar- 
rison refused to surrender, and haughtily bade the 
ambassadors to depart from the gates imme- 

Seeing that Belisarius was bent upon reducing Nawes and 
the place, by a tedious blockade if that were need- mlrdi 
ful, Narses and John decided to take their ownu^bmo.™ 
course. John had slightly attempted Urbino be- 
fore, on his first entry into Picenum, and had 
found it impregnable. Since then a much larger 
garrison and stores of provisions had been intro- 
duced. Why linger any longer on these bleak 
highlands, winter now approaching, and success 
well-nigh impossible ? They broke up their camp 
on the west of the city, and marched away, intent 
upon their favourite scheme of the annexation of 
the Aemilia. 

The garrison, seeing that half their enemies had Operations 
marched away, flouted and jeered those who re- riue. 
mained. The city, though it did not stand on a 
precipitous cliff like others of these Umbrian fort- 
resses, was nevertheless at the top of an exceed- 
ingly steep hill ; and only on the north side was 
the approach anything like level. On this side 

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326 Dissensions in the Imperial Camp. 

BOOKV. Belisaxius proposed to make his attack. He 
"' ' ordered his soldiers to collect a quantity of trunks 
^^^' and boughs of trees, and out of these to construct 
a machine which they called the Porch ^ The 
trunks being fixed upright, and the boughs, perhaps 
still covered with leaves, being wattled together 
to form the sides, the machine, worked by soldiers 
within, was to be moved along the one level 
approach to the city, and the soldiers under its 
shelter were to begin battering at the walL But 
no sooner had they reached the vicinity of the 
fortress, than, instead of being met by a shower 
of arrows, they saw the battlements thronged 
with Goths stretching out their right hands in 
the attitude of suppliants and praying for mercy. 

Urbino This suddeu change in the attitude of the garri- 


son, lately so bent on resistance to the death, was 
caused by the mysterious failure of their one 
hitherto copious spring. It had for three days 
fallen lower and lower, and now, when the soldiers 
went to draw water, they obtained nothing but 
liquid mud. Without a spring of water defence 
was impossible, and they did wisely to surrender. 
The characteristic good-fortune of Belisarius had 
prevailed. Urbino was his, and some of its late 
defenders appear to have taken service in the 
Imperial army. 

The news of the speedy surrender of Urbino 
brought not only surprise but grief to the heart 

^ aroa. But is it not the same which Boman miliJbaiy writers 
call xinea % 

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Surrender of Urbino. 327 

of Narses, who was still quartered at Eimini. He book v. 

• Ch II 

urged John to undertake the reduction of the — '. — L 
strong city of Cesena, twenty miles inland on^,^^*^^ 
the -zEmilian Way, John took scaling ladders, ^®°gP*^ 
and attempted an assault. The ganison resisted 
vigorously, slaying many of the assailants, among 
them Fanotheus, the King of the wild Herulian 
auxiliaries of the Empire. John, whose temper 
was impatient of the slow work of a siege, pro^ 
nounced this, as he had pronounced so many other 
cities under whose walls he had stood, impreg- 
nable, and marched off for the easier exploit of 
overrunning the uEmilian province. The ancient imoia 
city of Forum Comelii (now Imola) was carried by xhe Aemi- 
a surprise, and the whole province was recovered ^n!^^^ 
for the Emperor ; an easy conquest, but probably 
not one of great strategic value. 

The winter solstice was now past, and the new 539- 
year, 539, begun. The heart of Belisarius wasonmoto 
still set upon what he knew to be the necessary from 
task of the capture of Osimo ; but he would not in *™^* 
the winter season expose his troops to the hard- 
ships of a long encampment in the open country 
while he was blockading the city. He therefore 
sent Aratius, with the bulk of the army, into winter 
quarters at Fermo, with orders to watch the garri- 
son of Osimo and prevent their wandering at will 
over Picenum: and he himself marched with aBeUaanng 

marches to 

detachment of moderate size to Orvieto, which had oryieto, 

which BUT- 

been for many months besieged by Peranius, and renders, 
the garrison of which were hard pressed by famine. 

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328 Dissensions in the Imperial Camp. 

BOOKv. AlbilaB their general had long kept up their spirila 
^i L by delusive hopes of coming reinforcements, but 
^^^* they were already reduced to feed upon hides 
steeped in water to soften them : and when they 
saw the standards of the mighty Belisarius under 
their walls, they soon surrendered at discretion. 
It was well for the Boman cause that the blockade 
had been so complete, for, to an assault, the rock- 
built city of the Clanis would have been, in the 
judgment of Belisarius, quite inaccessible ^ 

It was now nine months since the raising of the 
siege of Bome. The progress of the Imperial arms 
since that time had not been rapid, but it had been 
steady. Bimini had been relieved, Urbino taken, 
the Aemilia re-annexed to the Empire, Orvieto, that 
Milan dangerous neighbour to Bome, reduced. Now, 

recovered . 

by the howcvcr, in the early months of 530, the Imperial 

Imperial , , , 

troope arms sustained a terrible reverse in the reoonquest 
raising of of Milan by the Goths. To understand the course 
of Rome, of cvcuts which led up to this disaster, we must 
go back twelve months, to the early part of 538, 
shortly after the conclusion of the three months' 
truce between Belisarius and Witigis. The reader 
may remember that at that time Datius, the Arch- 
bishop of Milan, made his appearance in Bome, at 
the head of a deputation, entreating Belisarius to 
send troops to rescue the capital of Liguria from 
the barbarians. The General, perhaps unwisely, 
complied, thus in appearance committing the 
' same faults, of advancing too far and extending 
^ See Note at the end of this chapter. 

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Affairs in Liguria. 329 

his Kne of defence too widely, which he had book v. 
blamed in the case of his subordinate John, when 

that officer occupied Bimini. After the siege of ^^ " 
Borne was raised he sent one thousand troops to 
escort Datius back to his diocese. The little army 
was composed of Isaurians under Ennes, and Thra- 
cians under Paulus. Mundilas, whose Praetorium 
was sentinelled by a few picked soldiers from 
Belisarius's own body-guard, commanded the whole 
expedition, which was also accompanied by Fide- 
lius, formerly Quaestor under Athalaric, now Prae- 
torian Prefect of Italy under Justinian, and the 
most important civil functionary in the restored 

The expedition sailed from Porto to Genoa. April (i). 
There the soldiers left the ships, but took the ^^ " 
ships' boats with them on waggons, and by their 
means crossed the river Po without difficulty. 
Under the walls of Pavia (Ticinum) they fought BatUe of 
a bloody battle with the Goths, in which the Im- 
perial arms triumphed. The fiigitive barbarians 
were only just able to close the gates of their city 
in time to prevent it from being taken by the 
conquerors. It would have been an important 
prize; for Pavia, even more perhaps than Ra- 
venna, was the treasury and arsenal of the Gothic 
monarchy. The exultation of Mmidilas at his 
victory in the field was damped by the disap- 
pointment of not occupying Pavia, and yet more 
by the death of the lUustris, Fidelius, who had 
tarried behind to offer his devotions in a church 

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330 Dissensions in the Imperial Camp, 

BOOKV. near the field of battle. On his departure, his 
^ ' horse fell with him : the Goths perceived his help- 

^^^* less condition, and sallying forth from the city 
slew the recreant official, whom they doubtless 
considered a traitor to the house of Theodoric. 
Milan and When the expedition arrived at Milan, the city, 

aU the Blu^ ^ . . . * ^ 

rounding thoroughly Koman in its sympathies, surrendered 
risonedby itself gladly iuto their hands. Bergamo, Como, 
troops. Novara, and other towns in the neighbourhood, 
followed the example of the capital, and were 
garrisoned by Eoman troops. In this way Mun- 
dilas reduced his own immediate following in 
Milan to three hundred men, among whom, however, 
were his two capable officers, Paulus and Ennes. 
Uraias the On hearing of the defection of Milan, Witigis 
to besiege despatched a large army, under the command of 
his nephew Uraias, for its recovery. Uraias was 
one of the favourite heroes of the Gothic nation, 
as brave and energetic as his uncle was help- 
less and timid. He was not the only enemy by 
which the re-Romanised city was threatened. 
TheFranks Theudibcrt, King of the Franks^ intent, aa his 

also appear , 

upon the nation used ever to be, on turning the calamities of 
Italy to profit, but not wishing^ at present openly 
to quarrel with the Emperor, ordered, or permit- 
ted, ten thousand of his Burgundian subjects to 
cross the Alps and to encamp before Milan, hold- 
ing himself ready to disavow the action of the 
invaders should it suit his purpose to conciliate 
the Court of Byzantium ^. By these two armies, the 
* The language of Procopios is curious, as showing the loose 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Milan revolts from the Goths. 3ai 

Frankish and the Gothic, Milan was, in the spring book v. 
months of 538, so closely invested that it was im- 

possible to cany any food into the city. The little ^^^' 
band of three hundred Thracians and Isaurians 
being quite inadequate to guard the wide circuit 
of the city-walls, Mundilas was forced to call 
upon the citizens themselves to man the ramparts. 

When Belisarius heard that Uraias had formed Martin 
the siege of Milan, he sent two generals, Martin sent to 
and Uliaris, with a large army, to relieve the be- muml 
leaguered city. Martin had shared with Ildiger 
the perils of his bold dash through Umbria, and 
Uliaris had taken, apparently, a creditable part 
in the expedition for the relief of Kimini^; but 
neither officer now behaved in a manner worthy 
of his former reputation. When they reached the MoBsage 
river Po, they encamped upon its southern bank, dUaatothe 
and there remained for a long time timidly con- ^J^. 
suiting how they should cross the stream. 

natnre of the tie which bound the BargoBdians to the Frankish 
monarchy. 'He sent 10,000 men to help the Goths, not from 
among the Franks themselves, bnt from the Burgundians, in 
order not to seem to hnrt the Emperor's interest. For the 
Burgundians were represented as going willingly and by their 
own independent resolution (i&^KoviTiM rs kqX avTov6iu^ y^n)^ 
not as obeying the command of Theudibert ' (De B^llo Gotthico, 
ii. 12 ; p. 196). 

^ Was this Uliaris the man whose drunken sportsmanship 
proved fatal to John the Armenian during the pursuit of 
Gelimer 1 (See vol. iii. p. 688.) Possibly ; but names beginning 
with Uli- were common among the barbarians. Belisarius seems 
to be more indignant with Uliaris than with his comrade for the 
£ailure of the expedition : as if there were already some old 
score against him not wiped out.. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

332 Dissensions in the Imperial Camp. 

fioOK V. A messenger despatched by MuDdilas, Paulus by 
— ! — L name ^, stole through the ranks of the besiegers, 
^^ ' swam across the river, and was admitted to the 
tent of the generala With burning words he 
told them that their delay was ruining the cause 
of the Emperor, and that they would be no better 
than traitors if they allowed the great city of 
Mediolanum, wealthiest and most populous of all 
the cities of Italy ^ her great bulwark against 
the Franks and all the other Transalpine barba- 
rians^ to £Jl into the hands of the enemy. The 
generals promised speedy assistance, a promise 
with which Paulus, returning by night through 
the ranks of the enemy, gladdened the hearts 
of his fellow-citizens. But still they sat, week 
after week, in unaccountable hesitation, cowering 
by the southern bank of the great river. 
John re- At length, in order to justify themselves to 
march to Bclisarius, they wrote him a letter saying that 
ance of they feared their forces were insuflScient to cope 
with the great armies of the Goths and Franks 
that were roaming through the plains of Liguria, 
and begging him to order John and Justin to 
march from the neighbouring province of Aemilia 
to their aid. Such an order was sent to those 
generals, who openly refused to obey any com- 

^ Not Paulus the commander of the Thracians, apparently. 
FrocopiuB would hardly have called him rwf two, 'P^fiomv^ UavXay 

* n<$Xftty T&v €v 'iraXifi ircur&p fsdkurra fi€yeB€i re km ndkvavBptavi^ 
KOI if SOifj €vdaifu>pi^ iraph iroXv npoCxova-a (ii. 2i). He does not, 
apparently, except even Home. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 


Milan retaken by the Goths. 333 

mand of Belisarius, saying that Narses was their book v. 

1 J Ch. 11. 


In these wretched delays, the fruit of cowardice ^^^* 
and of insubordination, more than six months giveaway, 
must have passed from the first investment of late. 
Milan. At length Narses, having received a 
letter from Behsarius frankly settiDg before him 
the dangers which his insubordinate policy was 
preparing for the Empire, gave the required 
order. John began collecting boats upon the 
Venetian coast to enable the army to make the 
passage of the river, but was attacked by fever 
— apparently a genuine, not a feigned attack — 
and when he recovered, the opportunity was lost. 

For, in the meantime, the disgracefully aban- Mundiias 
doned defenders of Milan had been undergoing the bup- 
terrible privations. They were reduced at last Milan, 
to eat dogs and mice and such creatures as no 
man had ever thought of before in connection 
with the idea of food. The besiegers, who knew 
how matters stood with them, sent ambassadors, 
calling on Mundiias to surrender the city, and 
promising that the lives of all the soldiers should 
be preserved. Mundiias was willing to agree to 
these terms if the citizens might be included in 
the capitulation ; but the enemy, indignant at 
the treachery of the Milanese, avowed that every 
one of them should perish. Then Mundiias made 
a spirit-stirring address to his soldiers, exhorting 
them to seize their arms and burst forth with him 
in one last desperate sally. He could not bear, by 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

334 Dissensions in the Imperial Camp. 

BOOKV. looking on, to make himself a partaker in the 
"•^^' dreadful deeds which would assuredly he done 
539- against these unhappy subjects of the Emperor, 
whose only crime was having invited him within 
their walls. ' Every man/ said he, * has his ap- 
pointed day of death, which he can neither hasten 
nor delay. The only difference between men is 
that some meet this inevitable doom gloriously, 
while others, struggling to escape 'from it, die just 
as soon, but by a coward s deaths Let us show 
that we are worthy of the teaching of Belisarius, 
which we have all shared, and which makes it an 
impiety for us to be anything else but brave and 
glorious in our dying. We may achieve some un- 
dreamed-of victory over the enemy : and if not, 
we are nobly freed from aU our present miseries.' 

The city The cxhortatiou was in vain. The soldiers, dis- 


derod. heartened by the hardships of the siege, could not 
rise to the height of the desperate courage of their 
leader, and insisted on surrendering the city to the 
Goths. The barbarians honourably observed to- 
wards the soldiers the terms of the capitulation, 
but wreaked their full vengeance on the wretched 

Terrible inhabitants of Milan. All the men were slain, and 


of the these, if the information given to Procopius was 

dticeiiB. _ rm 

correct, amounted to 300,ocxD. The women were 
made slaves, and handed over by the Goths to their 
Burgundian allies in payment of their services. 
The city itself was rased to the ground : not the 

^ In this passage (p. 333) Mundilas uses almost the very 
language of the companions of Mohammed, 

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Narses Recalled. 335 

only time that signal destruction has overtaken book v. 
the fair capital of Lombardy. All the sur- °' 
rounding cities, notwithstanding their Imperial ^^^' 
garrisons, had to open their gates to the foe ; but 
we do not read that they shared the same terrible 
fate. Liguria was once again part of the Gothic 

Keparatus, the Praetorian Prefect, and successor ReDaratos 
of Fidelius, fell into the hands of the Goths, ventiniM, 
and, not being included in the army's capi-ofPope 
tulation, was cut up by the barbarians into small 
pieces, which were then contemptuously thrown to 
the dogs. Cerventinus his brother — the two were 
also brothers of Pope Vigilius — had shared the 
flight of Reparatus from Bavenna. More for- 
tunate than his brother, he now escaped from the 
doomed city, and making his way through Venetia, 
bore the terrible tidings to Justinian. Martin and 
IJliaris, returning from their inglorious campaign, 
brought the same tidings to Belisarius, who re- 
ceived them with intense grief and anger, and 
refused to admit Uliaris to his presence. In his Belisarius 
letter to the Emperor he doubtless laid the blame diaaster to 
of the fall of Milan on the divided counsels by "* ^^' 
which for the last twelve months his arm had 
been paralysed. Justinian, among whose many 
faults cruelty was not included, inflicted no signal 
punishment on any of the blunderers by whom his 
interests had been so grievously injured, but took 
now the step which he should have taken on the 
first news of the disseniBions of the generals, by 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

336 Dissensions in tfie Imperial Camp. 

BOOK V. sending to Narses a letter of recall, and formally 

"' _L constituting Belisarius Generalissimo of the Impe- 

539- rial forces in Italy. 

Narses re- Naxses accordingly returned with a few soldiers 

constan- to Constantinople. The wild Herulians who had 

^ *' come in his train refused to serve under any other 

leader, marched off into Liguria, sold their captives 

and their beasts of burden to the Goths, took an 

oath of perpetual friendship with that nation, 

marched through Venetia into Illyria, again 

changed their minds, and accepted service under 

the Emperor at Constantinople. An unstable and 

brutish people, and one for which Procopius never 

spares a disparaging word when an opportunity 

of uttering it is afforded by the course of his 


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NOTE C On the TopoaEAPflT op Ortisto. 

Paocopius's account of the capture of Orvieto is more NOTE C. 
allusive and less clear than is usual with him. It is only 
in a parenthesis (oirep iydvero) that we are informed of the 
surrender of the city, and we are left to infer that it was 
the result of famine. For the sake of travellers to this 
city, now so desolate, yet so noble in its desolation, I trans- 
late the description given by Procopius : — ' Belisarius went 
round the city to see if he could spy out any place suitable 
for an assault, but came to the conclusion that it was im- 
pregnable by open attack^ though it might perhaps be 
taken by some well-contrived stratagem. For it rises, a 
solitary hill out of a hollow country, evenly sloping and level 
above> but precipitous below * [a very accurate description]. 
But round this hill other cliffs of the same height range 
themselves in a circle, not in the immediate neighbour- 
hood, but about a stone's throw distant. [The nearest hill, 
that on the east of the city, is quite half a mile distant, 
further assuredly than any catapult could throw.] On this 
hill the men of old founded a city, but did not surround it 
with walls or any other kind of fortification, thinking that 
Nature had herself made it impregnable. For there is only 
one way of access to it from the [neighbouring] heights, 
and if this is guarded the defenders need fear attack from 
no other quarter. For round all the rest of the city, except 
this one point, runs a broad and unfordable stream filling 
up the chasm between the city and the surrounding emi- 
nences. A little fortress was accordingly erected by the 
Romans of old at this point of access, and in it is a postern 
gate (ttvA^v), which was guarded by the Goths. 

' Belisarius therefore ranged all his anny round the city, 
on the chance of effecting something against it by the way 
of the river, but having also some hope that the enemy 

^ A4$^ff yap T(ff €K Kotkfis yfjs dyf^ft fi6votj ra fiiv vntpdtp vvrtdt 
re Koi 6fuik6s, rii dc icdr» Kpfifiv^dris (p. 225). 


Digitized by LjOOQIC 

338 Note C 

NOTE c. would be compelled to surrender by hunger ' [which appa- 

""""""" rently is what actually occurred]. 

The assertion of Procopius as to the course of the river 
encircling the whole city except at one point is not true 
now. Orvieto is situated near the confluence of the Paglia 
and the Chiana (Clanis). The former stream flows diagon- 
ally past the northern and eastern sides of the city, but its 
southern and western sides have no river below them. The 
course of the Paglia, however, has been a good deal changed 
even in recent times (so I was assured by the canons of the 
cathedral) : and all the land about the railway station 
(in the fork between the two rivers) is * made ground.* It 
is therefore possible that the river may in former times 
have wound more than half round the city, and afterwards 
joined the Clanis at a lower point than it does now. The 
one side by which it could be approached would probably 
be from the hills to the west, between it and Bolsena. 

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Source: — 

•Paocopius, De Bello Gotthico, ii. 23-27 (pp. 238-260). bookv. 

Ch. 12. 

The war had now lasted four years \ and it was May, 539. 
over a ruined and wasted Italy that the wolves ^^^y^y 
of war were growling. The summer of 538 was*^®'^"' 
long remembered as the time when Famine and 
her child Disease in their fiiU horror first fell upon 
Tuscany, Liguria, and the Aemilia. The fields had 
now been left for two years uncultivated, A self- 
sown crop, poor but stiD a crop, sprang up in the 
summer of 537. Unreaped by the hand of man, it 
lay rotting on the ground : no plough stirred the 
furrows, no hand scattered fresh seed upon the 
earth, and in the following summer there was of 
course mere desolation. The inhabitants of Tus- 
cany betook them to the mountains, and fed upon 
the acorns which they gathered in the oak-forests 
that cling round the shoulders of the Apennines. 
The dwellers in the Aemilia flocked into Picenum, 
thinking that the nearness of the seaboard would 

^ ProcopiuB puts the end of the fourth year of the war (May, 
S39) j^^ ^^^^ ^® recall of Narees. 

Z 2 

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340 Sieges of FiesoU and Ositno. 

BOOK V. at least preserve them from absolute starvation ; 
yet, even in Picenum, it was computed that not 


less than 50,cxx> peasants perished of famine. 

Effecte of Procopius marked the stages of decline in this 
the people. hungcT-smitten people, and describes it in words 
which were perhaps meant to remind the reader of 
Thucydides description of the Plague of Athens. 
First the pinched face and yellow complexion sur- 
charged with bile ; then the natural moisture dried 
up, and the s\in, looking like tanned leather, 
adhering to the bones ; the yellow colour turning 
to a livid purple, and the purple to black, which 
made the poor i^ine-stricken countryman look 
like a burned-out torch ; the expression of dazed 
wonder in the face sometimes changing to the 
wild eyes of the maniac ; — he saw and noted it alL 
As is always the case after long endurance of 
hunger, some men, \^'hen provisions were brought 
into the country, could not profit by them. How- 
ever carefully the nourishment was doled out to 
them, in small quantities at a time as one feeds a 
little child, still in many cases their digestions 
could not bear it, and those who had survived the 
famine died of food. 
Cannibal- In somc placcs cannibalism made its appearance. 
Two women dwelt in a lonely house near Kimini, 
and were wont to entice into their dwelling the 
passers-by, whom they slew in their sleep, and on 
whose flesh they feasted. Seventeen men had thus 
perished. The eighteenth started up out of sleep 
just as the hags were approaching for his destruc- 

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Miseries of Italy. 841 

tion- With drawn sword he stood over them, book v. 
forced them to confess all their wickedness, and ^°' ^^' 
then slew them. ^^' 

Elsewhere the famine-wasted inhabitants might 
be seen streaming forth into the fields to pluck any 
green herb that could be made available for food. 
Often when they had knelt down for this purpose 
their strength would not serve them to pull it out 
of the ground. And so it came to pass that they 
lay down and died upon the ungathered herbage, 
unburied, for there was none to bury them, but 
undesecrated, for even the birds of carrion found 
nothing to attract them in those fleshless corpses. 

One little story told by Procopius brings vividly stor^ of 
before us the misery caused in Italy by the move- 
ments of the hostile armies. When the historian 
accompanied Belisarius on his march over the 
Apennines for the relief of Kimini, he saw a child 
which was suckled and watched over by a goat. 
The mother of this child, a woman of Urbs Salvia, 
had fled before the approach of John's army — ^the 
liberating army — into the province of Picenum. 
In her flight she had been for a moment, as she 
supposed, parted from her new-born babe ; but 
either death or captivity had prevented her from 
returning to the place where she had laid it down. 
The babe, wrapped in its swaddling-clothes, lifted 
up its voice and wept. A she-goat which was near 
ran to it, and pitying its cry, nourished it as she 
would have nourished her own little one, and 
guarded it from all other animals. When the 

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342 Sieges of Ftesold and Osimo. 

BOOK V. inhabitants of Urbs Salvia found that John s army 

Ch. 12. 

had friendly thoughts towards them, they returned 
*^^' to their homes; but among them was not the 
mother of the child. One after another of the 
women offered to give suck to the child, but it 
refiised all nourishment save that of its four-footed 
nurse ; and she with loud bleatings and gestures 
of anger claimed the child as her own charge. 
It was therefore left to the care of the goat, and 
named, like the outcast prince of Argos, Aegisthus, 
* the goat's child/ Procopius, as has been said, 
saw this marvel on his way through Urbs Salvia. 
The goat was at the time at some little distance 
from her charge, but when Procopius and his 
friends pinched it and made it cry, she came 
bounding towards it with a bleat of distress, 
and standing over it, signified with butting horn 
that she would guard it against all. assailants. 
witigiB Notwithstanding the cruel exhaustion of Italy, 

■ends two - , ... 

ecdeeias- the parties were still too evenly matched for the 
embawyto strugglc to como to an end; Witigis, who by his 
*"**' tardy and resourceless policy reminds us not a little 
of our Saxon Ethelred, began to cast about him 
for allies, a step which, if he had taken it three 
years ago, might perhaps have saved him from 
ruin. The Franks were too utterly untrustworthy; 
the Lombards, to whose King Wacis he sent an 
embassy offering great gifts as the price of his 
alliance, refused to break with Byzantium. He 
therefore called an assembly of the elders, such an 
assembly as our ancestors would have called a 

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Gothic Embassy to the Persian King. 343 

Witena-gemote, and there setting forth the dif- book v. 
ficnlties of his situation, asked for the advice of his °' 
subjects. After long deliberations and many idle ^^^' 
suggestions, a proposal was made which was fitted 
to the present state of affairs. It was pointed out 
by one of the Gothic statesmen that the peace 
which Justinian concluded on the accession of 
Chosroes in 531 was the true cause of the disasters 
both of the Vandal and the Grothic monarchies. 
Had the Caesar of Constantinople not felt secure 
of attack from the Persian King, he had never 
dared to employ the matchless skill of Belisarius 
on the banks of Libyan rivers and under the walls 
of Umbrian towns. It was therefore proposed 
and decided to send ambassadors to Chosroes to 
stir him up, if possible, to a renewal of hostilities 
against the Boman Empire. The ambassadors 
chosen were not Goths, whose nationality might 
have prevented them from traversing in safety the 
wide provinces of the East, but two priests of 
Liguria, probably Arian by their creed though 
Eoman by speech and parentage, who for the 
promise of a large sum of money undertook this 
hazardous enterprise. One of these assumed the 
style of a bishop \ to give weight to his represen- 
tations, and the other accompanied him as an 
ecclesiastical attendant. 

The journey of these men to the Persian Court 

* Very probably he was really a bishop, whose Arian title 
was treated as of no account by the orthodox persons from 
whom Frocopius received his information. 

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344 Sieges of Fiesoli and Osimo. 

BOOKv. of course occupied a considerable time, and the 

^"' ^^' full results of their mission were not apparent for 

^ f?^ more than a year after the period which we have 

shows a now reached. The mere rumour, however, that 


to teeat negotiations were being opened between the Goths 
Goths. and the Persians made Justinian, who knew the 
weakness of his eastern frontier, so anxious to 
dose the Italian war that he at once sent home 
the Gothic envoys, who for a twelvemonth had 
been waiting in his ante-chambers, suffering all 
those heart-breaking delays which seem to be en- 
gendered by the very air of Constantinople. Now 
they were bidden to return, offering to the Goths 
a long truce on terms which should be beneficial 
to both the combatants. Belisarius, however, who 
throughout this stage of the proceedings overruled 
with little hesitation the decisions of his master, 
refused to allow the Gothic envoys to enter Ea- 
Return of vcnua- till the sanctity of the persons of ambas- 
AthiwiA- sadors had been vindicated by the return of 
constan- Pctcr and A.thanasiu8, the Emperor s envoys to 
mope. Xheodahad, who, for nearly four years, had been 
kept in unjustifiable captivity. They returned^ 
and as a reward of their devotion were promoted 
to high .offices in the Empire. Athanasius was 
made Prsetorian Prefect of Italy in the room of 
Beparatus, slain at Milan ; and Peter, the brave 
and outspoken disputant with Theodahad, was 
hailed as Illustrious Master of the Offices, and 
received the embassies of foreign rulers in the 
palace-hall of Byzantium. 

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FiesoU. 345 

In these negotiations the winter and early book v. 
spring of 539 wore away. In May 539 Belisarius °' 

addressed himself to the capture of the two fort- ^^jf^^g 
resses which still held out for the Goths south of °^<^«'^^«» 

the reduc- 

Kayenna : and such was the strength of their *Jo^o^^« 
position, perched upon their almost inaccessible maining 
heights, that all the rest of the year was consumed holds of 

1 1 mi *. -mi the Goths 

upon the task. The two fortresses were Faesulae in Central 
and Auximum, represented by the modem towns 
of Fiesold and Osimo, the one overlooking the 
gleaming Amo, the other beholding the blue 
Eadriatic upon its horizon. 

Every Italian traveller knows the little Tuscan Fiesoi^. 
town to which we climb for our finest view of the 
dome of Brnnelleschi and the tower of Giotto, 
pausing in our ascent to visit the villa of the 
Magnificent Lotrenzo, and thinking of Milton's 
conversations with Galileo as we gaze upon 

*The moon whose orb 
Through optic glass the TuBcan artist Tiewed 
At eyeniDg from the top of Fiesol^.' 

Instead of all this cluster of enchanting sights 
and memories, what had the Faesulae of the sixth 
century to show 1 She had, no doubt in greater 
extent, that stupendous Etruscan wall, the mere 
fragments of which make the Roman ruins by the 
side of it look like the handiwork of pigmies. 
She had the high fortress or Arx, a thousand feet 
above the Plain of Amo, where the friars of St. 
Francis' order now kneel for worship ; the Temple 
of Bacchus, which was perhaps even then turned 

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346 Sieges of FiesoU and Osinto. 

BOOKV. into a Christian basilica; and the Theatre, on 
whose stone seats we may still sit and imagine 

*^^ that we see from thence the couriers of Belisarius 
or Witigis spurring their steeds along the Cassian 

B.C. 6 J. Koad below. She had perhaps some remembrance 
of the day, six centinries ago, when Petreius de- 
feated Catiline under her clife. More probably, • 
her inhabitants yet pointed to the spot, near to 
405. her walls, where the vast horde of Badagaisus 
was surrounded and starved into submission by 

Cyprian Ficsol^ was held by a body of Gothic troops, 

andJustin . 

sent to of whose uumbcrs we ar« not informed ^ To 
Fie^. compel their surrender, Cyprian, one of the old 
officers who had fought under Belisarius at the 
siege of Bome, and Justin, one of the new arrivals 
under Narses, were sent with some of their own 
soldiers (probably cavalry) and a band of Isaurian 
auxiliaries, together with five hundred of the 
regular infantey, who still represented, though 
faintly, the old Boman legion \ John, now again 
obedient to the orders of Belisarius ; another John, 
whose mighty appetite procured him in the camp 
the nickname of the Glutton* ; and Martin, ap- 
parently forgiven for his disgraceful failure before 
Milan, were sent with a large body of troops to 

* See vol. i. p. 307. 

* It is strange that in the careful enumeration of the Gothic 
garrisons given by Frocopius (De B. G. ii. 12 ; pp. 187-8) he 
does not mention Faesulae. 

' These were under the special command of Demetrius. 

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The Imperialists occupy Tortana. 347 

cover the siege of Fiesol^ and to hover about the book v, 
upper waters of the Po, If possible, they were to 

intercept the communications of Uraias with Ka- ^^^' 
venna ; if that were impossible, and if he should 
march to the relief of his uncle Witigis, they were 
to keep up an active pursuit of his army. These Torton» 
generals found the town of Tortona (then called basis of 
Dertona), by the bank of the Po, a convenient operations, 
basis of operations. As it was unwalled, it could 
be easily occupied by them ; but by the command 
of Theodoric it had been plenti ully supplied with 
houses suitable for the quartering of troops S and 
these were now taken advantage of by the generals 
who came to overthrow his kingdom. After a few 
skirmishes the siege of Fiesol^ settled down into a 
mere blockade. The Boman soldiers w. re unable riesow 
to scale the heights on which the city stood, but 
they could easily surround them and see that no 
provisions were brought into Fiesold. Pressed by 
famine, the garrison called on Witigis, who ordered 
his nephew Uraias to advance to their assistance. 
Uraias with a large army marched to Pavia,Ur«ia8 
crossed the Po, and sat down over against to Pavia. 
John and Martin, at a distance of some seven 
miles from their camp at Tortona. Neither party 
was willing to begin the fight. The Komans felt 
that their end was gained if they prevented Uraias 

* This we learn firom Cassiodorus, Variarum, i. 17. See the 
anfalfilled anticipations of Theodoric as to the 'dorissimae 
mansiones ' in which his enemies would he compelled to shelter 

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d4S Sieges of FUsoU and Osimo. 

BOOKV. from attacking the besiegers of Tortona. The 
_ '__L Goths fc»red that one lost battle would shatter 
^^^' the last hope of their monarchy. Both armies 
therefore resumed that waiting game which they 
had played before the fall of Milan, and for which 
the Lombard plain (as we now call it) is so emi- 
nently adapted. 
TiieFnuikB While this was the position of affairs, a new 
^S^!*""* enemy swept like a torrent down the ravines of 
the Alps of St. Bernard, an enemy whose advent 
for a time changed the whole aspect of the war in 
TheFranks Upper Italy. * The Franks/ says Prooopius, 'seeing 
by Proco- the mischief which Goths and Komans were in- 
flicting on one another, and the length to which 
the war was being protracted, began to take it very 
ill that they should obtain no advantage from the 
calamities of a country of which they were such 
near neighbours. Forgetting, therefore, the oaths 
which they had sworn and the covenants which 
they had ratified only a short time before with 
both kingdoms — for this nation is the most slip- 
pery of all mankind in its observance of its plighted, 
word^ — they marched into Italy to the number of 
100,000 men under the guidance of their King 
Theudibert. A few horsemen armed with spears 
surrounded the person of their King : all the rest 
fought on foot, having neither bow nor spear, but 
each with a sword and shield and one axe. The 
iron of this axe is stout, sharp, and two-edged ; the 

^ Compare the ' gens Francorum infidelifi ' of Salvian (quoted 
in vol. i. p. 509). 

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Horrors of ike Prankish Invasion. 849 

handle^ made of wood^ is e:icceedingly short. At a book v. 
signal given they all tlirow these ares, and thus at ^°' ^^' 
the first onset are wont to break the shields of the ^^' 
enemy and slay his men.* 

When the Goths heard that this new host under TheFranka 
Theudibert's own command was descending from ^ * *^ 

the passes of the Alps^ they trusted that thetheo^thB. 
Franks were about to throw their weight into 
the opposite scale to that of the Empire, and that 
the hard struggle of the last four years was at 
length to be terminated by their co-op^ation. The 
Franks took care not to undeceive them so long as 
the Po had still to be crossed, but marched as a 
fnendly force, harming no one, through Liguria. 
Having entered Pavia, having been allowed Their 
quietly to obtain possession of the bridge at the at Pavia. 
confluence of the Ticino and the Po, they threw 
off all disguise, and slaying the Gothic women 
and children whom they found there, cast their 
dead bodies into the stream, as an offering to the 
unseal powers and as the first-fruits of the war. 
Procopius assures us that this savage deed hadFrankiBh 
really a religious significance, ' since these barba- 
rians, Christians though they be, preserve much of 
their old creed, still practising human sacrifices and 
other unhallowed rites, by which they seek to 
divine the future/ Thin as the varnish of Christi- 
anity was over the Frankish nation, * the eldest 
daughter of the Catholic Church,* it is hardly 
possible that this statement can be literally true. 
There were many Alamanni, doubtless, and other 

Digitized by 


350 Sieges of FiesoU and Osimo. 

BOOK V. men of tribes confessedly still heathen, in the wild 
°' horde which clustered round the horse of King 
^^^ Theudibert ; and it may have been some of these 
who performed the ;religious part of the rite, the 
Christian Franks only sharing in the brutal 
butchery which preceded it. 
The Goths When the Gothic sentinels on the bridge saw 
vemuu the horrid deed perpetrated by these savages, they 
fled without striking a blow. The Franks pro- 
ceeded towards Tortona; the main body of the 
Gothic army, still believing in their friendly inten- 
tions, advanced to meet them, but were soon un- 
deceived by the storm of flying axes, swung by 
Frankish hands, laying their bravest low. In 
their consternation they turned to flee, and fled 
right through the Boman camp, never stopping 
till they reached Ravenna. 
Theimpe- When the Imperial troops saw the flight of the 
aiaoBcat- Goths, deeming that Belisarius must certainly 
flight b6- have arrived, must have conquered, and must be 
^^^dh^, now pursuing, they advanced, as they supposed, 
to meet him. They too were cruelly undeceived, 
and being easily routed by the vast host of the 
Franks, fled across the Apennines, some into 
Tuscany to join the besiegers of Fiesol6, others to 
Osimo to tell the grievous tidings to Belisarius. 
The Franks, having thus won an easy victory over 
both armies, and sacked both camps, rioted for 
some time in the enjoyment of all the good things 
that they foimd there ^ When these came to an 

^ In the course of this invasioii they sacked the city of 

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Pestilence in the Prankish Army. 351 

end, having no proper commissariat, and, like the book v. 
brutish barbarians that they were, having no skill ^°' ^^' 
ipr aught but mere ravage of the country in which ^^^" 
they found themselves, they fell short of provi- 
siona The large draught-oxen of Liguria furnished 
them for a time with beef, but their only drink 
was the water of the great river. The combina-Diseanein 

... . . the Frank- 

tion proved injurious to the digestion of theiahanny. 
greedy soldiers, and diarrhoea and dysentery soon 
scourged the army of Theudibert, a third part of 
wliich, so it was reported^ fell victims to these 

Belisarius was filled with anxiety for the fate Beiisarius 
of the besiegers of Fiesol^ when he heard of the Theudi- 
FrankisK invasion. He wrote a letter to Theudi- retires 
bert charging him with conduct which the basest ^ 
of mankind could scarcely have been guilty of, in 
violating his sworn and written promise to join in 
a league against the Goths, nay more, in actually 
turning his arms against the Empire. He warned 
him that the wrath of the Emperor for such a 
wanton outrage would not be easily turned aside, 
and recommended him to take care lest, in his 
light-hearted search after adventures, he fell him- 
self into the extreme of peril. The letter reached 
Theudibert just at a time when his fickle soldiers 
were loudly complaining of the loss of so many 

Oenoa. Marcellinus Comes says: ' Theudibertus Francoram 
Bex cum magno exercitu adveniens Ligariam totamque de- . . 

praedat Aemiliam. Qenuam oppidum in littore Tyrreni maris 
sitom evertit ac praedat' (ap. Roucalli, ii. 327). 

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862 Sieges of Fiesoli and Osim^. 

BOOK V. thousands of their comrades by disease. The pur* 

^"•^ ' pose of his soul was changed, and he Yanished 

^^^ across the Alps with the remainder of his host as 

speedily as be came, having done nearly as much 

mischief and reaped as little advantage as Charles 

VIII, the typical Frank of the fifteenth century, 

• in Ai« invasion of Italy, Thus already is the 

melancholy strain begun which for a thousand 

years and more was to be the dirge of Italy. 

. Already might a truly statesmanlike Roman see 

the mistake which had been made in rejecting 

— for merely sentimental reasons — ^the wise policy 

of Theodoric and Cassiodorus, that policy which 

would have made the Roman the brain and 

the Ostrogoth the sword-arm of Italy. Might that 

scheme have had fair play, — 

'Then, still untired, 
Would not be seen the arm^d torrents poured 
Down the steep Alps, nor would the hostile horde 
Of many-nationed spoilers from the Po 

Quaff blood and water, nor the stranger's sword 
Be her sad weapon of defence, and so, 
Yictor or vanquished, she, the slave of friend or foe^' 

Auximum While thoso events were passing in the north 

osi^o) : and west of Italy, Belisarins was prosecuting, with 

p^nlT^ less success than had hitherto fallen to his lot, the 

h?^^^^ slow siege of Osimo. This little city, which stands 

on a hill 900 feet above the sea, is ten miles 

south of Ancona, and about nine west of the 

Hadriatic shore. Few travellers now climb up 

to its difficult height except those who may be 

^ Childe Hardd, iv. 43 (after Filicaja)« 

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Situation of Osinto. 353 

disposed to take it on their way, when making pil- book v. 
grimage to the Holy House of the Virgin brought, ^^' ^^' 
as the story goes, by angels from Nazareth and ^^^' 
deposited on the neighbouring hill of Loretto. 
The journey leads us through one of the fairest 
districts of Italy; a fertile undulating land, each 
height crowned with its own village, a stronghold 
in former days. We meet the stalwart peasants of 
La Marca driving their milk-white oxen in their 
antique chariot-like carts. Each cart is adorned 
with some picture of virgin or saint, or, for those 
who do not soar so high, of wife or sweetheart, 
rudely painted, but testifying to that yearning 
after the beautiful in Art which is the Italian's 
heritage. At length the road mounts steeply 
upward. After a toilsome ascent we stand upon 
the mountain crest of Osimo and survey the wide 
panorama. Almost at our feet lies Castelfidardo, 
where, in i860, Lamoricifere, commanding the 
soldiers of the Pope, sustained a crushing defeat 
at the hands of the general of Victor Emmanuel. 
The curving coast of Ancona on the north, the 
Hadriatic filling up the eastern horizon, the long 
line of the Apennines on the west, and their king 
the Gran Sasso d' Italia in the dim south, may all 
be seen from our airy watch-tower. In the Palazzo 
Pubblico of the town we find abundant evidence of 
its vanished greatness. Here are many inscrip- 
tions, belonging to the age both of republican 
and imperial Eome, betokeniDg the pride of 
the Auximates in their city, once like Philippi 

VOL- IV. A a 

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354 Sieges of FiesoU and Ostmo. 

BooKV. in Macedonia^ 'a chief city in that country and 
a colony.' The gens Oppia seems for some time to 

*^^* have supplied the chief persons of the miniature 
senate, but all, of whatever family, proudly claim 
the title of * Decurio of the Roman colony of the 
Auximates,' that word Decurio being still a badge 
of honour, not yet the branded mark of servitude. 
Looking at these tombs we recall with interest 
the words of Caesar, who tells us that at the be- 
B.C. 49. ginning of the Civil "War, the Decuriones ofAuxi- 
mum sent a message to the Senatorial general who 
commanded the garrison, *that neither they nor 
their fellow-townsmen could endure that after all 
his services to the Republic, Caius Caesar the 
general should be excluded from their walls/ In 
the years, nearly six hundred, which had passed 
since that important resolution was formed, Auxi- 
mum had generally played its pait with credit, as 
the leading city of Picenum. Ancona, which now 
far surpasses it in importance, was then its humble 
dependent, bearing to it nearly the same relation 
that Ostia bore to Rome or Peiraeus to Athens ^ 
The siege Auximum was garrisoned by some of the noblest 
formed, and most martial of the Goths, who rightly looked 
upon it as the key of Ravenna. The Roman 
troops were quartered in huts all round the foot 
of the hill ; and the garrison saw a chance of 
success by making a charge at evening upon a 
portion of the host while Belisarius was still en- 

^ This change in the relative importance of the two cities is 
pointed out in Lord Mahon's Life of Belisarius (p. 248). 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Osinto blockaded. 355 

gaged with his body-guard in measuring the book v. 

Oh. 12. 


ground for the camp. The attack was bravely 
repelled, and the garrison retired, but the moment 
they stood again on their precipitous hill-top the 
battle again inclined in their fevour. Night fell : 
a number of the garrison, who had gone out to 
forage the day before, returning, found the camp- 
fires between them and Auximum. A few managed 
to steal through the lines of the Eomans into the 
city, but the .greater number took refuge in some 
woods near, and were there found by the besiegers 
and killed. 

Keluctantly Belisarius, having carefully sur- Beiiaanua 

T0Bolv66 to 

veyed the ground, came to the conclusion that blockade 
the place being absolutely unapproachable all 
round, except by a steep ascent, was invulnerable 
to any sudden stroke, and must be blockaded. 
The blockade took him seven months, months of 
weariness and chafing delay, during which the 
Frank was descending into Lombardy, the Courts 
of Eavenna and Ctesiphon were spinning their 
negotiations for alliance, and the position of the 
Empire under the grasping policy of Justinian 
was becoming every day more full of peril. 

Th^re was a green patch of ground not far from The forag- 
the walls of Osimo which was the scene of many 
a bloody encounter. Each party by turns resorted 
to it to obtain forage for their horses and cattle, 
sometimes, in the case of the hard-pressed garrison, 
to pluck some herbs by which men could allay the 
pangs of hunger ; and each party when thus en- 

Aa 2 

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356 Sieges of FiesoU and Ositno. 

BOOK V. gaged was of course harassed by the enemy. Once 
_JLLl the Goths, seeing a number of Romans on the 
^^^' foraging-ground, detached some heavy waggon- 
wheels from their axles and rolled them down the 
hill upon their foes : but the Romans easily opened 
their ranks and let the waggon-wheels thunder 
past them into the plain, guiltless of a single 
besieger s life. In reading of these naive expe- 
dients of the Goths for inflicting injury on their 
foes, one feels that they were but overgrown 
schoolboys, playing the game of war with a cer- 
tain heartiness and joviality, but quite ignorant of 
the conditions of success. 
JJj^j^* Their next move, however, showed a little more 
tactical skill. They stationed an ambuscade in a 
valley at some little distance from the town, by 
judicious appearance of flight drew the Romans 
towards it, and then with their combined forces in- 
flicted heavy loss on the besiegers. The misfortune 
of the position was that the Romans who remained 
in the camp could plainly see the ambuscade, and 
shouted to their comrades not to venture further 
in that direction : but in the din of battle the 
shouts were either unheard or supposed to be 
shouts of encouragement, and thus the Gothic 
stratagem succeeded. 
The advice While Belisaxius was brooding over this dis- 
piuB as to appomting day s work, bis secretary, the literary 
pet-caiis. Procopius, approaclicd him with a suggestion 
drawn from his reading of the war-books written 
by * the men of old/ ' In ancient times,' said he. 

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Sounding the recall. 357 

'armies used to have one note on the bugle for book v. 
advance, another for recall It may be that your ^^' ^^' 
troops, largely recruited from among the bar- *''^' 
barians^ are too untutored to learn this difference 
of note, but at least you may have a difference of 
instrument. Let the light and portable cavalry- 
trumpet, made as it is only of wood and leather, 
be always used to sound the advance : and when 
the deep note of the brazen trumpet of the in- 
fantry is heard, let the army know that that is the 
signal for retreat/ The general adopted his secre- 
tary's suggestion, and caUing his soldiers together 
delivered a short harangue in which he explained 
the new code of signals, at the same time caution- 
ing them against headlong rashness, and as- 
suring them that, in the skirmishing kind of 
warfare in which they were now engaged, there 
was no shame in retreat, or even in flight when 
the exigencies of the position required it. Of 
those exigencies the general must be the judge, 
and he would give the signal for retreat, when he 
deemed it necessary, by a blast from the infantry 

In the next skirmish at the foraging-ground The Moor 
under the new tactics the Romans were victorious, suit of 
One of the swart Moorish horsemen from Mount ^^. 
Atlas seeing the dead body of a Goth covered 
with gold armour — haply such as Theodoric was 
buried in at Ravenna — began dragging him from 
the field by the hair of his head. A Goth shot 
an arrow which pierced the spoiler through the 

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358 Sieges of FiesoU and Ostmo. 

BOOKv. calves of both of his legs* Still, says Procopius, 
^^' ^^' the Moor persisted in dragging the golden-ar- 
5^^' moured hero by his hair. Suddenly the trumpet 
of retreat was heard, and the Romans hurried back 
to the camp carrying off with them both the Moor 
and his prize ^. 
Thegarri- The garrisou, who were beginning to be hard 
message to prossod with hungor, resolved to send messengers 
venna. ^^ Ravonua to ckim the help of their King. The 
letters were written and the messengers prepared. 
Upon the first moonless night the Goths crowded 
to the ramparts and uttered a mighty shout, which 
made the besiegers think that a sally was in 
progress or that assistance was arriving from 
Ravenna. Even Belisarius was deceived, and fear- 
ing the confusion of a nocturnal skirmish he ordered 
his soldiers to keep quiet in their quarters. This 
was exactly what the barbarians desired, since 
it enabled their messengers to steal through the 
Roman lines in safety. The letter which they 
delivered to Witigis was worded in that inde- 
pendent tone which the German warriors feared 
not to adopt to their King. *When you placed 
us, O King, as a garrison in Auximum, you 
asserted that you were committing to us the keys 
of Ravenna and of your kingdom. You bade us 

* The respoDBibility for this fiiory most rest with Procopius 
(p. 243); I cannot believe that a man could walk even two 
steps who had both his legs transfixed by one arrow: TorBtK 
Tig avT^p axovTUf fiak^v /iv&v re ot omo'BfV eZcrc r&tf anjft&p cjcorcj^y, 
€VtTvx»Vy €V€pirti rov okowtIov ifixfm r» irdde (ymhritrw, *AXX' ov&V 
Ti IJcrcroy VLavpovctos r&p Tpix»v €)(6yutiKts riy V€Kp6p ctXrcy. 

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TJie Garrison send to Ravenna for help. 359 

hold the place manfully, and you promised that book v. 
you with all your army would promptly move to 

our assistance. We, who have had to fight both ^^^' 
with hunger and Belisarius, have been faithful to 
our trust, but you have not lifted a finger to help 
lis. But remember, that if the Bomans take 
Auximum, the keys of your house, there is not 
a chamber therein from which you will be able 
to bar them/ Witigis read the letter, heard the witi^is 
messengers, sent them back to buoy up the be-Edp^mn, 
leaguered garrison with hopes of speedy assistance, nothi^ 
but took not a single step in fulfilment of his 
promise. He was afraid of John and Martin, 
hovering over the valley of the Po : he was 
perhaps more justly afraid of the difficulty of 
provisioning his troops on the long march into 
Picenum. To the Bomans who had possession of 
the sea, and who could import all that they needed 
from Sicily and Calabria, this difficulty was far less 
formidable than to him. Still, if the relief of 
Osimo was dangerous, its reduction meant certain 
ruin. Anything would have been better than to 
let his brave soldiers, trusting to his plighted 
word, starve slowly on their battlements, while he 
himself, like another Honorius, skulked behind 
the lagoons of Bavenna. 

After these events came the mad torrent of the 
Frankish invasion, bringing equal consternation 
to Goths and Bomans, and affording to Witigis 
something more than a mere pretext for the post- 
ponement of his promise. The garrison of Osimo 

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360 Sieges of Fiesoli and Osimo, 

BOOK V. of course knew nothing of this invasion ; and Beli- 

°' sarins, informed of the previous embassy by de- 

^^^* serters, watched the fortress with added diligence 

to prevent any second* message from being sent. 

Si^^tor ^^ ^^^ circumstances, the Goths, bent on bring- 
ing their case again before their King, began to 
parley with a certain Burcentius, a soldier (prob- 
ably an Armenian) who had come, to Italy with 
Narses the Less, and who was stationed in a 
lonely place to prevent the foraging expeditions 
of the garrison. Large moneys in hand and the 
promise of more on his return from Kavenna 
induced this man to turn traitor and to bear the 

Second letter of the Goths to Witigis. The letter ran 

message to ^ ^ ^ 

witigis. thus: 'You will best inform yourself as to our 
present condition by enquiring who is the bearer 
of this despatch. For it is absolutely impos- 
sible for any Goth to get through the enemy's 
lines. Our best food is now the herbage which 
grows near the city wall, and even this cannot 
be obtained without the sacrifice of many lives. 
Whither such facts as these tend we leave 
to be judged of by you and all the Goths in 

TheKin/s To this short and pathetic letter Witigis re- 
turned a long and shifty answer, laying the blame 
of his past inactivity on Theudibert and the 
Franks; promising now with all speed to come 
to the assistance of his brave soldiers, and beseech- 
ing them to continue to act worthily of the 
reputation for valour which had caused him to 

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Burcentius the traitor. 361 

single them out from all others as the defenders booky. 
of his kingdom. ^°' ^^' 

With the King's letter and many pieces of ^^^' 
Gothic gold in his girdle, Burcentius returned to 
his station by the foraging-ground. His six days' 
absence was easily explained to his comrades. He 
had been seized with illness, and had been obliged 
to spend those days, oflf duty, in a neighbouring 
church. At a suitable time he gave the King's 
letter to the garrison, who were greatly encouraged 
thereby, and persevered many days longer in their 
diet of salad, ever hoping that the trumpet of 
Witigis would be heard next day beneath their 

Still the slothful and cowardly King came not. The third 
Once more the Goths employed the services of the 
traitor Burcentius, who this time bore a letter 
from them saying that they would wait five days, 
no longer, and would then surrender the city. 
Again Burcentius returned after his opportune 
illness, bringing yet further flattering words and 
false hopes from the Nithing (as our Saxon fore- 
fathers would have called him) in his palace at 
Ravenna. Again they were duped, and waited 
on in the extremity of hardship, resisting all the 
kind and coaxing words of Belisarius, to whom it 
began to be a matter of life and death to get the 
siege speedily ended. 

Utterly perplexed by this extraordinary per-BeUsanua 
tinacity of the Goths, and longing to find out its piexity. 
cause, the General discussed with his subordinate 

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362 Sieges of FiesoU and Ositno. 

BOOK V. Valerian, whether it would be possible to capture 
some prisoner of distinction and extort from him 

^^^ the desired knowledge. Valerian mentioned that 
he had in his train some Slovenes from the banks 
of the Danube, and that these men were wont to 
crouch behind some small rock or shrub and 
stealing forth from thence to capture imwary 
travellers, either Eomans, or barbarians of another 
tribe. This savage accomplishment, as it seemed, 
might now be turned to useful account. A tall 
and powerful Slovene was chosen and told that 
he should receive a large sum if he would capture 
a living Goth. He went forth accordingly in the 
dim morning twilight, and, bending his stalwart 
limbs into the smallest possible compass, hid be- 
hind a bush close to the foraging-ground. Thither 
came soon a Gothic noble to pick some herbs for 
his miserable meaJ. He cast many a look towards 
the Roman camp, to see if danger threatened him 
from thence, but suspected nothing of his nearer 
A GotKio foe. While he was stooping down, suddenly the 
napped. Slovcuc was upou him, grasped him tightly round 
the waist^ and in spite of his struggles carried him 
into the camp to Belisarius^ The prisoner, when 
questioned as to the cause of his countrymen's 
extraordinary pertinacity, revealed the history of 
the last two messages to Bavenna, and pointed to 

^ Procopius's story of the manner in which these Slovenes 
captured their prisoners seems to require the use of a noose of 
some kind to render it probable, but none such is mentioned 
by him. All seems to have been done by sheer physical 
strength, aided by surprise. 

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The Slovene man-catcJier. 363 

Burcentius as the bearer of them. The wretched book v. 
Armenian confessed his guilt, and was handed over ^'^^' 
to his comrades to be dealt with according to their ^^^' 
pleasure. The pleasure of these barbarians was Burcentius 
that he should be burned alive in the full sight of alive, 
the garrison, his employers. 'Thus/ says Pro- 
copius, *did Burcentius reap the fruit of his 
greediness for gain.' 

Still the indomitable Goths would not surrender Beiisanu* 
the fortress which had been confided to them by to cut off 
the faithless Witigis — faithless, but yet their king, supply.^ 
Belisarius therefore determined to cut off their 
supply of water, and thus force them to a capitula- 
tion. There was outside the city, but near the 
walls, a cistern constructed of massive masonry, 
from which the Goths used to draw water, each 
excursion for the purpose being a sortie, which 
had to be effected hurriedly and by stealth. The 
General's design was to break down the masonry 
of this cistern sufficiently to prevent any large 
accumulation of water therein, as the Goths 
would never have time to wait and fill their 
amphorae from the slowly-running stream. Draw- 
ing up all his troops in battle array and threaten- 
ing the town with an attack, he kept the garrison 
occupied while five Isaurians, equipped with axes 
and crowbars, stole into the cistern. They were, 
however, perceived by the garrison, who guessed 
their errand, and assailed them with a cloud of 
missiles. The strong vaulted roof over their heads, 
placed there by the builders of the cistern to keep 

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364 Sieges of FiesoU and Osim^. 

BOOK V. ite waters from the noon-day sun, proved to the 
"' Isaurians an eflFectual shelter. Hereupon the 
*^^' garrison issued forth to dislodge them. So fierce 
was their onset that the besiegers' line wavered 
Narrow before them. Belisarius rushed to the spot, by 
SSftwriuB. voice and gesture exhorting them to stand firm. 
While he was thus engaged an arrow from a 
Gothic bow came whizzing ^ towards him, and 
would certainly have inflicted on him a fatal 
wound in the belly, had not one of his guards, 
named Unigat, seeing the General's danger, in- 
terposed his hand and in it received the hostile 
weapon. The faithful guardsman was forced to 
quit the field in agony, and lost for the remainder 
of his days the use of his hand ; but the General's 
life was saved : — his narrowest escape this, since he 
rode the dark roan charger on the first day of the 
siege of Kome. At the same time, seven Armenian 
heroes (soldiers of Narses the Less and Aratius) 
did great deeds of valour, charging uphill against 
the Goths, dispersing their forces on the level 
ground, and at length, about noon-day, turning the 
battle, which had begun at dawn and seemed at 
one time likely to be a Boman defeat, into a 
Koman victory. Great, however, was the disap- 
pointment of Belisarius when he found that all 
this bravery had been wasted. The Isaurians, 
emerging from the cistern, were obliged to confess 
that in six hours of labour they had not been able 
to loosen a single stone. ' For the masons of old 

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Belisarius poisons the WelL 365 

time,' says the historian, ' put such thoroughly book v. 
good work into this as into all their other build- 

ings, that they yielded not easily either to time or ^^^* 
to the hand of an enemy/ This remark, which is 
fully confirmed by all that we see of the earlier 
work of the Romans in our own land, is perhaps 
meant as a covert criticism on the ostentatious but 
unenduring edifices of Justinian ^ 

Thus foiled in his attempt to destroy the cistern, BdiaanuB 
Belisarius, regardless of those general instincts of ^JSl**^ 
humanity which have endeavoured to formulate 
themselves under the title of ' The Laws of War,' 
resolved to poison the welL The bodies of dead ani- 
mals, poisonous herbs, and heaps of quicklime* were 
thrown by his orders into the cistern. Still, how- 
ever, the brave garrison held out, drawing their water 
from one tiny well in the city, and looking forth daily 
for the Gothic banners on the northern horizon. 

At length the end of this tedious siege came The sur- 
from an unexpected quarter. The garrison of FiesoW 
Fiesol^, unable to endure their hardships anyit^^t^ 
longer, surrendered to Cyprian and Justin, on "°^^' 
condition that their lives should be spared. Bring- 
ing their new prisoners with them, the generals 
marched to Osimo. The sight of their captive 
fellow-countrymen, aided by the remonstrances of 
Belisarius, broke down the long endurance of the 

^ Mr. Bryce informs me that some remains of this cistern 
are still visible. 

' Ai^oy KoraKfKavfifvrjp fjv irdXai fuv riravov ravvv de acr/Scoroy 
KoXcIv pwvofiiKagriv, "AaPtarw is still the ordinary term used in 
modem Greek for quicklime. 

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366 Sieges of Fiesoli and Osimo. 

BOOKV. defenders of the capital of Picenum, and they 
°' offered to surrender if they might march forth with 
^^^ all their possessions to join their coimtrymen at 
Kavenna. Belisarius was earnestly desiroos to 
end the siege at once, before an alliance which he 
dreaded between Franks and Goths should have 
had time to consolidate itself. On the other hand, 
he was reluctant to allow so many noble Goths, 
the bravest of the brave, to swell the ranks of 
the defenders of Ravenna ; and his soldiers loudly 
murmured that it was monstrous, after subjecting 
them to the hardships of a siege, and such a siege, 
to deprive them of a soldier's heritage, the spoil. 
At length the two parties came to a fair arrange- 
ment. The Goths were to surrender half their 
property to the besiegers, taking a solemn oath to 
conceal nothing, and were allowed to retain the 
other half. So satisfied were they with these terms, 
and probably also so exasperated at the ^lithlessness 
of their King, that they appear to have actually 
taken service under the standards of the Emperor. 
There were evidently still many Goths to whom 
only two relations towards the Empire suggested 
themselves as possible, hostile invasion of its terri- 
tory, or settlement eiafoederati within its borders. 
The siege of Osimo had lasted, according to one 
authority, seven months. It probably began in May, 
539, and ended in December of the same year^ 

^ MarcellinuB ComeB (ap. Boncalli, ii. 327): 'Belisarius 
obsidens Auximum septimo mense ingreditur, slmiliterqtie et 

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Source: — 
Pbocx)piu8, De Bello Gotthico, ii. 28-30 (pp. 260-276). 

Guides: — 
For the history of Cassiodorns, two excellent mono- BOOKV. 
graphs, one by Thorbecke (Heidelberg, 1867), and the ^°- ^^' 
other by Franz (Breslau, 1872), the former dealing ebiefly 
with the political, and the latter with the monastic life of 

OsiMO being taken, Belisaxius collected all his 540. 
energies for the siege of Ravenna. Ravenna, tioMfo^ 
defended by a power having command of the eea, SS^nna. 
would have been practically impregnable; Ravenna, 
beleaguered by land and by sea, had delayed 
Theodoric for three years before its walls, and had 
at length only surrendered on a capitulation which, 
if faithfully observed, would have left Theodoric 
but half a victory. Belisarius therefore, while 
making all his preparations for a siege, determined 
not to leave untried the path of negotiation, which 
in the present state of the Emperor's affairs, with 
Persia menacing and the Franks eager for mischief, 
might shorten this dangerous last act of the drama. 
The Franks, aa the General had been informed, 

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368 The Fall of Ravenna. 

BOOK V. were sending their embassy to Witigis, proposing 
an alliance for the reconquest and division of Italy; 

Emb^s *^^ Belisarius sent his ambassadors to confront 
^iSkBto ^^^°^ there, and argue against Metz for Con- 
lUvenni, stantinoplo. At the head of the Imperial embassy 

met by am- ^ ^ . . 

bassadow was Thoodosius, an officer of high rank in the 
riu«. semi-regal household of Belisarius, but whose 
guilty intimacy with Antonina, the mistress of 
that household, had already been spoken of by his 
retinue under their breath, and was at a later 
period to be blazed abroad in court and market- 
place, and to exercise a disastrous influence on the 
fortunes and character of the uxorious General. 
MagnuB As was bcforc said, Belisarius was not trusting 
liuBinthe wholly to negotiation. Magnus and Vitalius, with 

▼alleY of 1 1 i* p 

the Po. two large bodies of troops, were sent to operate on 
the two banks of the Po, and to prevent provisions 
from its fertile valley being introduced into Ra- 
venna. Their efforts were marvellously seconded 
by a sudden failure of the waters of the river, which 
caused the Gothic flotilla, prepared for the trans- 
port of provisions, to be stranded on the banks and 
to fall a prey to the Roman soldiers. In a very 
short time the river resumed its usual course, and 
navigable once more, served the purposes of the 
besiegers as it had failed to serve those of the 
besieged ^ It was therefore in a city which was 

^ In his reflections on this event, which he says never 
happened before or after, Procopius remarks as to the all- 
mastering power of Fortune : bffKwrw tivriKpvt jrotovfiemj in A; 
avTTi 7rpvTay€va-ti dfKl>OT€p(HS ra ir pay par a (p. 260). 

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Prankish alliance offered to Witigis. 369 

already feeling some of the hardships of scarcity, book v. 
if not yet of actual famine, that the envoys of 

Belisarius and of Theudibert set forth their com- ^^^' 

The Franks declared that * their master was even Argu- 

, meiits of 

now sending 500,000 warriors over the Alps, whose theFrankB. 
hatchets flying through the air would soon bury 
the Roman army in one heap of ruin. Theudibert 
had heard with sorrow of the sufferings of his 
good friends the Goths at the hands of the 
Romans, the natural and perfidious enemy of all 
barbarian nations. He offered them therefore 
victory if they would accept his companionship 
in arms, and a peaceable division of the land 
of Italy between them ; or, on the other hand, 
if they were mad enough to choose the Ro- 
man alliance, defeat, ignominious defeat, to be 
shared with their bitterest and most irreconcilable 

The ambassadors of Belisarius had an easy Reply of 
task in enlarging on the faithlessness of the nation tines. 

of Clovis. 

'Trust not for freedom to the Franks, 
They have a king who buys and sells,' 

could be said as truly fcy the Greeks in the 
sixth century as it was said to the Greeks in 
the nineteenth. The present depressed condition 
of the Thuringians and Burgundians showed 
too plainly what an alliance with this all-grasping 
nation foreboded to those who were foolish enough 
to enter into such a compact. The corpses of 
VOL. IV. B b 

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370 The Fall of Ravenna. 

BOOKV. all the brave Gothic warriors lately slain upon 
the banks of the Po attested the peculiar Frankish 

^^°" manner of helping distressed allies. What god 
they could invoke, or what pledge of fidelity 
they could give that had not already been for- 
sworn and violated by them, the ambassadors 
could not conjecture. This last proposition, that 
the Goths should share all their lands with the 
Franks, was the most impudent of all their pro- 
ceedings. Let Witigis and his subjects once make 
trial of it, and they would find, too late, that 
partnership with the insatiable Frank meant the 
loss of all that yet remained to them. 
witigia When the ambassadors had finished their 

accept the° harangucs, Witigis conferred with the leading 
te^r'^" men of the nation as to their proposals. Would 
that the debates of this Gothic Witenagemote had 
been preserved for us! We can, however, only 
record the result of their deliberations, which was, 
that the Emperor s offers should be accepted and 
the Frankish envoys dismissed. Parleys as to 
the terms of peace followed ; but Belisarius, less 
generous or more wary than the Gothic King, 
when similar negotiations were going forward two 
years previously under the waUs of Kome, refused 
to relax by a single sentinel the rigour of his 
blockade of Ravenna. Ildiger commanded the 
flying columns which manoeuvred on each bank of 
the Po, while Vitalius was sent into Venetia to 
force or persuade the cities in that province to 
resume their allegiance to the Empire. During 

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Gothic Magazines burnt. 371 

this pause in the contest the large magazines of book v. 
provisions collected in Kavenna were destroyed by 

L of the 

fire. In the Roman army it was generally believed confl*^ 
that this was brought about by the bribes of^®^,?^* 
Belisarius. The Goths diflfered in opinion from nmgarine^ 
one another, some attributing the disaster to a 
stroke of lightning ^ others to domestic treachery, 
in connection with which the name of Matasuentha, 
the ill-mated wife of Witigis, was freely mentioned. 
They scarcely knew which explanation of the event 
should fill them with the gloomier forebodings, 
since one indicated the faithlessness of man, the 
other the anger of Heaven. 

The brave and loyal TJraias, hearing of the Abortive 
blockade of Ravenna, was about to march to itflUrS^t^ 
assistance with 4000 men, partly natives of Liguria, SavJ^. 
partly Goths whom he had drawn from garrison 
duty in the various fortresses of the Cottian Alps. 
Unfortunately on their march the troops heard 
that the garrisons of these fortresses, at the insti- 
gation of Sisigis, the general upon the Frankish 
frontier, were surrendering themselves wholesale 
to a guardsman of Belisarius named Thomas, who 
had been sent with quite a small body of troops to 
receive them into the Imperial allegiance. Anxious 
for the safety of their wives and children, the 
soldiers of Uraias insisted on retracing their steps 
westward. They were too late : John and Martin, 
who were still stationed in the upper valley of the 
Po, hurried to the Cottian forts before them, took 
the very castles in which the families of these 


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372 The Fall of Ravenna. 

BOOKv. soldiers were lodged, and carried them into cap- 
' tivity. With such precious pledges in the hands 
^^^' of the Romans, the barbarians refused to fight 
against them. They suddenly deserted the stan- 
dards of TJraias, and seeking the encampment of 
John begged to be admitted Bsfoederati into the 
Imperial service. Baffled and powerless, TJraias 
was obliged to retire with a few followers into 
the fastnesses of Liguria. Thus all hope of 
assistance from him for the blockaded city was 
at an end. 
Embaflsy About this time, probably early in the year 540, 
Btantino- camc two scnators from Constantinople, Domnicus 
^ *' and Maximus, bearing the Emperor's offer of terms 

of peace. These terms were unexpectedly favour- 
able to the Goths. Witigis was to b6 allowed to 
retain the title of King and half the royal treasure, 
and to reign over all the rich plains to the north 
of the Po ; the other half of the royal treasure 
and all Italy south of the Po, with Sicily, were to 
be reunited to the Empire. Such concessions, at 
this late period of the struggle, might well seem 
almost absurd to one who watched the fortune of 
ReaaonB the game in Italy alone. But the Emperor knew 
favourable wcU the othcr and terrible dangers which threatened 
offered to his dominious. A swarm of ferocious Huns were 
* ^ *' about to burst upon lUyria, Macedon, and Thrace, 
extending their ravages up to the very suburbs of 
Constantinople ^ Even more formidable than 
these transitory marauders was the more deeply 
^ See Procopius, De Bello Persico, ii. 4 (p. 167). 

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Liberal terms offered by Justinian. 373 

calculated advance of the Persian potentate, book v. 
Chosroes was moving to battle, stirred thereto in "' 
part by the representations of Witigis, in part by ^^°' 
his own hereditary hatred of the Empire: and in 
June of this year he was to fall, with the pitiless 
fiiry of an Oriental despot, on the wealthy and 
luxurious city of Antioch. Decidedly Justinian 
had good reason for wishing to have his matchless 
general and as many as possible of his soldiers 
recalled from Italy. Decidedly he was right in 
oflTering easy terms to the Goths ; and Italy might 
possibly have been spared some centuries of 
misery could those terms have formed the basis of 
a peace. 

The obstacle came not from the Goths, who gave Beiisanns 
a joyful assent to the proposals of the ambassadors. Ws master. 
It came from Belisarius, who had set his heart on 
ending the Italian war with a complete and dra- 
matic success, and on leading Witigis, as he had 
already led Gelimer, a captive to the feet of Jus- 
tinian. He refused to be any party to the proposed 
treaty; and the Goths, fearing some stratagem, 
would not accept it without his counter-signa- 
ture. Murmurs were heard in the tents of the 
Imperial captains against the presumption of the 
General who dared to disobey the orders which 
proceeded from the sacred presence-chamber of the 
Emperor, and who was bent on prolonging the war 
for sinister purposes of his own. Knowing that Council 
these injurious reports were flying about the camp, 
Belisarius called a council of war, at which he in- 

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374 The Fall of Rcwenna. 

BOOKV. vited the presence of the ambassadors. He said 
. to his discontented subordinates, with apparent 

^^^' frankness, ' No one knows better than myself the 
great part which chance plays in war, and how 
a cause apparently qtiite hopeless will sometimes 
revive, and prove after all victorious. By all means 
let us take the best possible advice in debating so 
important a subject as the proposed treaty. Only 
one thing I must protest against. No man must 
hold his peace now, and then lie in wait to censure 
me after the event. Let every one speak his 
opinion now, on the question whether we can re- 
cover the whole of Italy, or whether it is wiser to 
abandon part of it to the barbarians ; and, having 
spoken it, let him stand by it like a man.' Thus 
adjured, the generals without exception stated that 
they thought it politic to let the treaty of peace go 
forward, upon the proposed conditions. Belisarius 
desired them to sign a paper to that eflTect, and 
they signed it. 
increamng While thcsc deliberations were goingf on in the 

famine in _ . , , . ° . . 

Ravenna. Imperial camp, the scarcity was growing into 
famine within the city. Sore pressed by hunger, 
yet determined not to surrender unconditionally to 
the Emperor, fearing, above all things, to be trans- 
ported from their own beloved Italy to the distant 
The GothB and unknown Constantinople, the Goths conceived 
make BeU- the extraordinary idea of oflfering to their victor, 

Barius £m' t>i«« i i-i • /»i ^ - - — - 

perorof to Bchsarius, the Empire of the West. Even 

tlie TTeflt 

Witigis supported this proposal, and besought the 
great General to accept the proffered dignity. The 

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The Goths offer the diadem to Belisarius. 375 

scheme had a certain brilliant audacity about it, book v. 
and was the most striking testimony ever offered 

to the strategical genius of Belisarius. Yet it ^^^' 
probably seemed less strange and (if we may uge 
the word by anticipation) less romantic to contem- 
poraries than it does to us. All t^he traditions of 
the Ostrogoths, except for the thirty years of 
Theodoric's reign, pointed to the Empire as the 
natural employer of armiea of Gothic foederati. 
Even Theodoric, in his mode of working the 
machinery of the state, had shown himself an 
Emperor of the West in everything but the name. 
A Teutonic kingdom in Roman lands was still 
a comparatively new and untried thing, while an 
Empire fought for by Gothic arms was a familiar 

The feelings with which Belisarius received this How Beii- 
startling proposition were probably of a mingled ceived the 
kind. As Plrocopius says, 'he hated the name of 
an usurper with perfect hatred, and had bound 
himself by the most solemn oaths to the Emperor 
to attempt no revolution in his lifetime.' He 
probably looked upon himself as the destined 
successor of his master, shotild he survive Jus- 
tinian, and he knew what ruin the revolutionary 
attempts upon the purple, made by successful 
generals, had wrought for the Empire. On the 
other hand, he saw that a feigned compliance with 
the wishes of the Goths would at once open to 
him the* gates of Kavenna, and, possibly, the 
thought was not altogether absent from his mind 

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376 The Fall of Ravenna. 

BOOK V. that it might be desirable at any moment to turn 
^"' ^^' that feigned compliance into reality. 
^^'^' In order to keep his hands clear, he ordered the 
generals gcnorals of the party which still called itself anti- 

orderedto -r> t • , t • • t i« • i 

disperse. Belisarian to disperse in various directions m order 
to obtain provisions for the army. These generals 
were John and Bessas, Narses the Less, and Ara- 
tius ; and they were accompanied by Athanasius, 
the recently-appointed Praetorian Prefect of Italy \ 
Second Bcforc they went, he convoked another council of 
of war. generals and ambassadors, and asked them what 
they would think of the deed if he succeeded in 
saving all Italy for the Empire and carrying all 
the Gothic nobles, with their treasures, captive to 
Constantinople. They replied that it would be a 
deed past all praise, and bade him by all means 
to accomplish it if he could. He then sent private 
messengers to the Goths offering to do all their 
The Gothic will. The Gothic envoys returned with their 
rentiyac- vaguc talk of pcace for the multitude and their 
secret proposals for Belisarius's own ear. He wil- 
lingly stipulated that the persons and property of 
the Goths should be held harmless, but postponed 
till after the entry into Ravenna, the solemn oath 
(the coronation-oath, as we should term it), by 
which he was to pledge himself to reign as the 
impartial ruler of Goths and Romans alike. The 

* It is generally Buppoeed that Belisarius only played with 
the Goths in this business of his election : but upless he had 
some thoughts of possibly accepting their offer, I do not see 
why he should have sent these officers away. 

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Entry into Ravenna. %ii 

suspicions of the barbarians were not excited even book v. 
by this postponement. They imagined that he ^°' ^^' 
was hungering and thirsting for empire, and never ^^°* 
supposed that he himself would throw any diffi- 
culties in the way of winning it. 

Of all the many dramatic situations in the life Entry into 

/» 1 111 Ravenna. 

of the great general — and they are so many as to 
excite our marvel that no great poet has based 
a tragedy on his story — the most dramatic was 
surely his entry into Kavenna in the spring of 540. 
The Roman fleet, laden with com and other pro- 
visions, had been ordered to cast anchor in the port 
of Classis. Thus, when the gates were opened to 
admit Belisarius, he brought with him plenty to a 
famine-stricken people. Then he rode through the 
streets of the impregnable Queen of the Lagoons, 
with the Gothic ambassadors by his side, and the 
all-observing Procopius in his train. Much did the Mueings of 
secretary ponder, as he rode, on one of his favourite "^°p*"*' 
themes of meditation, that hidden force — he will 
not call it Providence, and perhaps dare not call it 
Fate — which loves to baffle the calculations of men, 
and give the race not to the swift, the battle not 
to the strong, but to the objects of its own ap- 
parently capricious selection. The streets were 
crowded with tall and martial Goths, far surpass- 
ing in number and size the Roman army, and 
through them marched the little band of Beli- 
sarius, under-sized, mean-looking men, but con- 
querors. The Goths, still confiding in what the 
new Emperor of the West would do for them. 

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378 The Fall of Ravenna. 

BOOKV. felt not nor admitted the shame ; but the quick 
— : — 1 instinct of the women told them that their hus- 
Anget^of ^^^ds wcte disgraccd by such an ending to the 
woi^^^° war. They spat in the faces of the barbarians, 
and, pointing to the insignificant-looking men who 
followed the ensigns of the Senatvs Populus Que 
Romanus, 'Are these the mighty heroes,' said 
they, •with whose deeds you have terrified us? 
Are these your conquerors ? Men can we call 
you no longer, who have been beaten by champions 
such as these.' 
BeiiMkrius The cxact time when Belisarius dropped the 
mMk. mask and let the barbarians see that he was not 
their Emperor, but still only the general of Jus- 
tinian, is not clearly indicated. Probably the 
proce8s of disillusion was a gradual one. At the 
moment of his triumphal entry he doubtless al- 
lowed himself to be saluted as Caesar, but any 
thoughts which he may have entertained of keep- 
ing his promise to the Goths and actually assuming 
the purple vanished. 

* His honour rooted in dishonour stood, 
And faith unfaithful, kept him falsely true.* 

The city On oue Doiut, however, he did keep the compact 

not plun- 

dered. to wliich he had sworn. There was no plunder of 
the city, and the Goths were allowed to retain all 
their private property. But the great hoard of 
the kings, stored up in the palace, all that the 
wisdom of Theodoric and the insatiate avarice of 
Theodahad had accumulated, was carried away to 
Constantinople. Some of it may perchance have 

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Ravenna comes under the Emperors. 379 

remained in the treasure-vaults of the palace of book v. 
the Eastern Caesars till Baldwin and Dandolo with °' 

their Franks and Venetians, the soldiers of the ^^^' 
Fourth Crusade, wrenched open the doors of those 
mysterious chambers, nearly seven centuries after 
the accession of Justinian. Witigis himself was Treatment 
treated courteously, but kept for the present in^diXes. 
ward, till he could be taken in the conquerors 
train to Constantinople. Some of his greatest 
nobles were selected to accompany him. The 
mass of the Gothic warriors, at least such of 
them as dwelt south of the Po\ were told to 
return to their own lands. The Koman soldiers 
and the men of Roman extraction thus became 
actually the majority in the former capital of the 

In this way did the strong and stately city of FortuncBof 
Ravenna come again under the sway of a Roman 
Caesar, the stronghold of whose dominion in Italy 
it was destined to remain for two centuries ^ till 
Aistolf the Lombard in 752 reft it from Byzan- 
tium, to be himself despoiled of it a few years 
later by Pepin the Frank. 

Most of the other cities of North-eastern Italy cities of 
which contained Gothic garrisons, Treviso, Cesena^ 

^ 'Ooroi imhi Iladov irora/Aov ^ktivto. *'Ept6s BeemB always to 
mean on this side of the Po, as reckoned from Home. 

' Except for a very short occupation by the Lombard King 
Liutprand about the year 728. 

* The language of Procopius as to the time of the surrender 
of Cesena is not quite clear, but the point is an unimportant 

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380 Tfie Fall of Ravenna. 

BooKv. and many others, surrendered at once to the Im- 

^°' ^^' perial forces on hearing of the fall of Ravenna. 

^^°' Verona and Pavia seem to have been the only cities 

of any importance still held by the unsubdued 

ndibadat Gothic warriors. In Verona the command was 
vested in a brave chief named Ildibad, nephew of 
Theudis, King of the Visigoths in Spain. This man 
refused to transfer his allegiance to the Emperor, 
though Belisarius, by detaining his children cap- 
tives in Eavenna, had it in his power to put sore 

Uraiaaat prcssuro upou him. In Pavia the noble Uraias, 
nephew of Witigis, still commanded- 

ofiTerof When the hope that Belisarius would play an 

to UraiM. independent part as Emperor of the West faded 
from the hearts of the Gothic warriors, the bravest 
of them flocked to Pavia and sought an audience 
with Uraias. With tears such as valiant men 
may shed, they thus addressed him: ' Of all the 
evils which have befallen the nation of the Goths 
thou, Uraias ! art the chief cause, through 
thy very worthiness. For that uncle of thine, so 
cowardly and so unfortunate in war\ would long 
ago have been thrust aside by us from the throne, 
even as we thrust aside Theodoric's own nephew 
Theodahad, if we had not looked with admiration 
on thy prowess, and believed that thou wert in 

^ Ovra>s Svavdpov rt Ka\ drv^fi i^fiyovfttvoif. This passage is one 
of those which I think justify ub in looking upon Witigis as 
not only a blunderer but a coward, at any rate in the later 
part of his career. I suspect that the worry of the siege of 
Borne unnerved him. 

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Uraias declines the Kingship. 381 

truth at the helm of the state, leaving only the book v. 

• Ch 18 

name of kingship to thine uncle. Now is our — \ — L 
good-nature shown to have been folly, and the ^^^' 
very root of all the evils that have come upon us. 
Hosts of our best and bravest, as thou know- 
est, dear Uraias 1 have fallen on our Italian 
battle-fields. Our proudest nobles, with Witigis 
and the Gothic hoard, are being carried off to 
Constantinople by Belisarius. Thou and we alone 
remain, a feeble and miserable remnant, and we 
too shall soon, if we live, share the same fate* 
But we can die, Uraias ! and it is better for us 
to die than to be carried captive with our wives 
and our little ones to the uttermost ends of the 
earth. Be thou our leader, and we shall do some- 
thing worthy of our renown before we find a grave 
in Italy.' 

Uraias replied, that he too, like them, preferred BefuBai of 
death to slavery, but that the kingship he would 
not take, since he would seem to be setting him- 
self up as a rival to his uncle. He strongly 
advised them to offer it to Ildibad, a man of 
bravery and might, and one whose relationship 
to Tlieudis, the Visigothic King, might at this 
crisis prove serviceable to their cause. The advice 
seemed good to the Gothic warriors, who at once 
repaired to Verona and invested Ildibad with the 
purple robe of royalty ^ Though accepting the 

^ *'9 hT\ r^y irop<l>vpay irepi/3aXovrcr. The letter of CassiodorUB 
(Var. i. 2) shows that this is not a mere rhetorical phrase, but 
that the Gothic kings were in fact clad in purple. 

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382 The Fall of Ravenna. 

BOOK V. kingly office, he urged his new subjects not yet to 
^' ^ ' abandon all hope of persuading Belisarius to fulfil 
iidibld ^^ plighted word and ascend the Western throne 
King. by their assistance, in which event Ildibad would 
willingly return into a private station ^. One more 
effort accordingly they made to shake the loyalty 
Lwt ap- of their conqueror. All Italy knew that he was 
BeiisMiuB. under orders to leave Ravenna; to take charge of 
the Persian war, said some ; accused by his brother 
generals of treasonable designs, said others. There 
was some truth in both assertions. Justinian 
needed Belisarius on the banks of the Euphrates, 
but he also feared him in the palace at Eavenna. 
The Gothic envoys appeared in the presence of 
Belisarius : they reproached him for his former 
breach of faith ; they upbraided him as a self-made 
slave, who did not blush to choose the condition of 
a lackey of Justinian when he might, in all the 
dignity of manhood, reign as Emperor of the West 
over brave and loyal warriors. They besought 
him even yet to retrace his steps. Ildibad would 
bring his new purple and gladly Jay it at the feet 
of the monarch of the Goths and Italians. Re- 
preaches and blandishments were alike in vain. 
The Roman General refused to strike a single 
stroke for Empire in the lifetime of Justinian. 
The Envoys returned to Ildibad. Belisarius, in 

* Hdibad's accession-speech in Procopius (p. 275) is vapid and 
rhetorical, a strange contrast to the stirring and pathetic words 
addressed by the Gothic nobles to Uraias. I cannot but enter- 
tain the belief that these at least are truly reported. 

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Ildibad, King of the Goths. 383 

obedience to his master s orders, quitted Ravenna ; book v. 
and with his departure, which coincided with the °' 
end of the fifth year of the war, ended the first act ^•y* 54o* 
of the Byzantine reconquest of Italy. 

At this point also we take our final leave of Retire- 
one whose name has been of continual occurrence caario- 
through many chapters of this history, the late official ufe. 
Praetorian Prefect, Cassiodorus. Since the elec- 
tion of King Witigis he had not, apparently, 
taken any conspicuous part in public affairs. 
Amid the clash of arms his persuasive voice was 
silent : and with the two races, Goth and Roman, 
exasperated against one another by memories 
of battle, massacre, and the privations of ter- 
rible sieges, he recognised but too plainly that 
the labour of his life was wasted. The united 
commonwealth of Goths and Romans was a 
broken bubble, and he might as easily call up 
Theodoric from the grave as recall even one of 
the days of that golden age when Theodoric 
was king. 

Something, however, might yet be done to save 
the precious inheritance of classical antiquity from 
the waves of barbaric invasion which were now too 
obviously about to roll over Italy, from Byzan- 
tium's mercenaries, the Lombard and the Herul, as 
well as from the Frankish neighbour who had 
learned with too fatal aptitude the road across the 
Alps. This service — and it was the greatest he 
could have rendered to humanity — Cassiodorus de- 
termined to perform while he passed the evening 

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384 The Fall of Ravenna. 

BOOKV. of his life in monastic seclusion iu his native 

°'^^' Bruttii, at his own beloved Scyllacium. 
Approri- It was probablv in the year 539 or 540 that the 

mate date , , 

of this veteran statesman laid aside the insignia of a 
Praetorian Prefect and assumed the garb of a 
monk. The chief reason for choosing the earlier 
year, and for supposing Cassiodorus not to have 
continued till the bitter end in the service of 
Witigis, is that had he been present on the 
memorable day when Belisarius and his men 
entered Kavenna, he would probably have met 
and conversed with Procopius. In that case 
his noble character, and the important part 
which he had played for a generation in the 
Ostrogothic monarchy, would surely have im- 
pressed themselves on the mind of the histo- 
rian, and prevented that strange omission which 
he has made in writing so fully about Theo- 
dorics kingdom and never mentioning the name 
of Cassiodorus. 

HiBtrea- In any event the late chief minister was close 

tise on the , 

Soul. upon the 60th year of his age when he retired to 
Squillace. His mind during the last few dreary 
years had been ever more and more turning to the 
two great solaces of a disappointed man, Literature 
and Keligion. After he had completed the collec- 
tion of his Various Epistles* he had, upon the 
earnest entreaty of his friends, composed a short 
treatise on the Nature of the Soul. The philo- 
sophy of this treatise is not new, being chiefly 
^ About 538 (]). 

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Cassiodorus on the Soul. 885 

derived from Plato ^: and the philology, as di&- book v. 
played in some marvellous derivations at the ^' 

outset of the treatise, if new, is not true*. But 
there are some striking thougjbts in this little 
essay, as, for instanoe, on the inefiy>le love which 
the soul bears to her dwelling-place the body, 
fearing death for its sake though herself immortal, 
dreading the body's pain fr^m which she cannot 
herself receive any injury. But the most interest- 
ing passage, coming from so old and astute a 
statesman as Cassiodorus, is one in which he 
naively attempts to describe the outward signs 
by which we distinguish evil men from the good. 

*The bad man's countenance, whatever be itsci»»ct«r- 

iftict of the 

natural beauty, always has a cloud resting upon it^. wioked. 
In the midst of his mirth a deep and secret sadness 
is always waiting to take possession of him, and 
appears on his countenance wh^n he deems him- 
self unobserved. His eye wanders hither ajiid 
thither, and he is ever on the watch to see what 
others tliink of him« His conversation is by fits and 
starts : he takes up one subject after another and 
leaves his narratives unfinished without apparent 

^ Througli Claudiaaus Mamertus, a fiiend of Sidonius, eaya 
Ebert (i. 489). 

' Anima is derived from the Greek avaifta^ * bloodlesB,' because 
the soul is not dependent on flesh and blood. Animus is from 
3p€f»os, ' wind,' because thought is as swift as the wind. Jfan# 
is from fufinfy Hhe moon,' because, though exposed to various 
changes, the mind eventually returns to its own full-orbed per- 
fection (p. 1282, ed. Migne). 

* < Mails nubilus vultus est in qualibet gratia corporal!' 
(p. 1298). 


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386 The Fall of Ravenna. 

BOOK V. cause. He has a look of worry and pre-occupation 
'^ ' in his idlest hours^ and lives in perpetual fear when 
none is pursuing him. Seeking greedily for all 
the pleasures of life, he is incurring the penalty of 
eternal death; and endeavouring to prolong his 
share of this world s light he is preparing for him- 
self the shades of eternal night.' 

Was Cassiodorus when he drew this striking 
picture describing the way in which the memory 
of the murdered Amalasuntha tormented the soul 
Ghtfaettf. ' The good man, on the other hand, has a certain 
good. calm joyousness m his countenance, earned by 
many secret tears. His face is pale and thin, but 
suggests the idea of strength. A long beard gives 
venerableness to his aspect: he is very dean, 
without a trace of foppery. His eyes are dear, and 
brighten naturally when he addresses you. His 
voice is of moderate tone, not so low as to be akin 
to silence, nor swoln into the harsh bluster of the 
bully. His very pace is ordered, neither hurrying 
nor creeping. He does not watch another's eye 
to see how it is regarding him, but holds simply 
straightforward on his way. Even the natural 
sweetness of his breath distinguishes him from the 
evil man, who seeks to hide the fumes of wine 
by the sickening scent of artificial perfumes ^! 
The time was now come for Cassiodorus openly to 

^ Some of the touches in this ideal portrait suggest, as Ehert 
has pointed ont (i. 489), an approach to the mediseval painters' 
manner of representing saintliness. 

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The Monastery of Vivarium. 387 

enter that monastic state towards which, as we can book v. 
perceive from this ideal portraiture of a good man, ^^' ^^' 
his own aspirations had for some time been tend- 9""*** 

• 1 1 Tfc doruB at 

ing. Leaving the lagunes of Ravenna, the pine-wood Squiiiace. 
and the palace of the Ostrogothic kings, where so 
many of the hours of his middle life had been 
spent, he returned to his first love, his own ances- 
tral Scyllacium, its hills, its fish-ponds, its wide out- 
look over the Ionian sea. Here upon his patrimo- 
nial domain he founded two monasteries. High Hermitage 
up on the hill, and perhaps surrounded by theium. 
walls of the older and deserted cityS was placed 
the secluded hermitage of Castellum, destined for 
those who preferred the solitary life of the rigid 
anchorite to the more social atmosphere of the 
monastic brotherhood. The latter and more popular Monaatery 

/. Ill ofViva^ 

tjrpe 01 convent was represented by the monastery num. 
of Vivarium, situated by the little river Pellena, 
and on the edge of the fish-ponds of which Cassio- 
dorus has already given us so picturesque a de- 
scription ^ Here the old statesman erected for 
the monks, who soon flocked round him, a building 
which, though not luxurious, was betH^er supplied 
with the comforts of life than was usual with 
institutions of this kind, at any rate in the first 
fervour of monasticism. These are the terms in 

* I speak doubtfully because the topography of Squiiiace 
does not seem to have been yet fully elucidated. Lenormant 
seems to prove that the Roman and the modem city are prac- 
tically on the same site, but that the Qreek city was at some 

" See vol. iii, p. 317. 

C C 2 

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388 The Fall of Ravenna. 

BOOKV. which Cassiodorus himself describes the place, in a 
"* treatise dedicated to his monks * : — 

* The very situation of the Vivarian monastery 
invites you to exercise hospitality towards travellers 
and the poor. There you have well -watered 
gardens and the streams of the river PeUena, 

The abounding in fish, dose beedde you. A modest and 

useful stream, not overwhelming you by the 
multitude of its waters, but on the other hand 
never running dry, it is ever at your call when 

The fiah- needed for the supply of your gardens. Here, by 
God's help, we have made in the mountain caverns 
safe receptacles for the fish which you may catdi 
from the stream. In these they can swim about and 
feed and disport themselves, and never know that 
they are captives, till the time comes when you 

Thebathg. require them for your food. We have also ordered 
baths to be built, suitably prepared for those who 
are in feeble health ; and into these flows the fitir 
transparent stream, good alike for washing and 
for drinking. We hope therefore that your monas- 
tery will be sought by strangers rather than that 
you will need to go elsewhere to seek delight in " 
strange places. But all these things, as you know, 
pertain to the joys of the present life, and have 
nought to do with the hope of the future which 
belongs to the faithful. Thus placed here, let us 
transfef our desires to those things which shall 
cause us to reign there with Christ.* 

Again, after describing in attractive terms the 
^ De Institutione Divinarain LitteiBram, 08f>. zziz. 

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The book-room of the Monastery. 389 

happy labours of the antiquarii in the cjopying- book v. 
room of the monastery, he goes on to speak of the ^°' ^^' 
permitted luxury of comely book-binding, and of 
his mechanical contrivances for promoting the 
regular employment of the monastic day. * To Book-Wnd- 
these we have also added workmen skilled in 
covering the codices, in order that the glory of the 
sacred books may be decked with robes of fitting 
beauty. Herein we do in some sort imitate that 
householder in our Lord's parable who, when he 
had asked the guests to his supper, desired that 
they should be clothed in wedding garments. By 
these workmen we have caused several kinds of, 
binding to be all represented in one codex S in 
order that the man of taste may choose that form 
of covering which pleases him best* We have also Meohani- 
prepared for your nocturnal studies mechanical *™^* 
lamps, self-trimming and self-supplied with oil, so 
that they bum brightly without any human assist- 
ance. And in order that the division of the hours SunnJiai. 
of the day, so advantageous to the human race, 
may not pass imobserved by you, I have caused 
one measurer of time to be constructed in which 
the indication is made by the sun's rays, and 
another, worked by water, which night and day Water- 
marks regularly the passage of the hours. This is 
also of use in cloudy days, when the inherent force 

^ 'Quibiu moltiplices species &cturanim in uno codice de* 
pictas (ni fallor) decenter expressimus ' (De Inst. Div. Lit- 
teranun, cap. zzx). Apparently the different bindings were 
all represented by facsimiles in this one codex. 

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390 The Fall of Ravenna. 

BOOKV. of water accomplishes what the fiery energy of the 
—1 L sun fails to perform. Thus do we make the two 

most opposite elements, fire and water, concur 

harmoniously for the same purpose/ 
ThemonM- From thcse few passages it will be seen what 

tery to be .... 

atheoiogi- was the Spirit in which Cassiodorus founded his 
monastery of Vivariimi. Religion and learning 
were to be the two poles upon which the daily 
life of the community revolved. He himself tells 
us ^ that he had earnestly striven to persuade Pope 
Agapetus to found a great theological school at 
Rome, like those which were then flourishing at 
Alexandria and Nisibis ^ The wars and tumults 
which had recently afficted the kingdom of Italy 
made the fulfilment of this design impossible ; and 
Cassiodorus thereupon resolved that his own retire- 
ment from the field of political life should be the 
commencement of a vigorous and sustained effort 
to stem the tide of ignorance and barbarism which 
was flowing over Italy. Hitherto the monk re- 
tiring from the world had been too much inclined 
to think only of the salvation of his own individual 
soul. Long hours of mystic musing had filled up 
the day of the Egj^tian anchorite. Augustine 
and Cassian, men so widely divergent in their 

* In the Preface to the Institutio Divinanun Litterarum. 

' 'Sicut apud Alexandriam multo tempore fuisse traditur 
iiiBtitatuiD, nunc etiam in Nisibi Civitate db HdyraeU sednlo 
fertur exponi.' This hint about a recently established Rab- 
binical school at Nisibis (within the limits of the Persian 
empire) is of great interest, especially in connection with the 
origin of Mohammedanism. 

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The Monastery a literary workshop. 391 

theological teaching, had each contributed some- book v. 
thing towards the introduction of healthy work — \ 1 

into the routine of the monastic life ; and Bene- 
dict, with whose life and career we shall soon have 
to concern ourselves in greater detail, had wisely 
ordained in his rule that a considerable part of 
the day should be devoted to actual toil. Still, all 
this had reference only to manual labour. It was Casaiodo- 
the glory of Cassiodorus that he, first and pre- themonaa- 
eminently, insisted on the expediency of including of^u 
intellectual labour in the sphere of monastic duties^ labour. 
Some monks, he freely admitted, would never be 
at home in the cloister library, and might better 
devote their energies to the cloister garden. But 
there were others who only needed training to 
make them apt scholars in divine and human 
learning, and this training he set himself to give 
them. This thought — may we not say this di- 
vinely suggested thought ? — in the mind of Cassio- 
dorus was one of infinite importance to the human 
race. Here, on the one hand, were the vast 
armies of monks, whom both the unsettled state of 
the times and the religious ideas of the age were 
driving irresistibly into the cloister; and who, 
when immured there with only theology to occupy 

* This is well brought out by Franz (M. A. Cass. Senator, 
p. 42) : * Daa Verdienst, zuerst die Pflege der Wissenschaften in 
den Bereicb der Aufgaben des klosterlichen Lebens aufge- 
nommen za haben, kann man mit vollem Becbte filr Caesio- 
doriuB in Aneprucb nehmen.' Franz has drawn up an in- 
teresting imaginary catalogue of the Library at Vivarium from 
the hints furnished by the works of Cassiodoma. 

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392 The Fall of Ravenna. 

BOOK v. their ininds^ became, as the great cities of the East 
^"' ^^' knew too well, preachers of discord and mad 
fanaticism. Here, on the other hand, were the 
accumnlated stores of two thousand years of 
literature, sacred and profane, the writings of 
Hebrew prophets, Greek philosophers, Latin rhe- 
toricians, perishing for want of men at leisure to 
transcribe them. The luxurious Boman noble 
with his slave-amannenses multiplying copies of 
his favourite authors for his own and his friends' 
libraries, was an almost extinct existence. With 
every movement of barbarian troops over Italy, 
whether those barbarians called themselves the 
men of Witigis or of Justinian, some towns were 
being sacked, some precious manuscripts were 
perishing from the world. Cassiodorus perceived 
that the boundless, the often wearisome leisure 
of the convent might be profitably spent in ar- 
resting this work of denudation, in preserving for 
future ages the intellectual treasure which must 
otherwise have inevitably perished. That this 
was one of the great services rendered by monas- 
ticism to the human race, the most superficial 
student of history has learned : but not all who 
have learned it know that the monk's first dedded 
impulse in this direction was derived fi:om Theo- 
doric s minister Cassiodorus. 
c»s8io- The veteran statesman seems to have wisely 

Abbot, abstained fi^om making himself actual Abbot of 
either of his two monasteries. To have done so 
would have plunged him into a sea of petty 

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Writings of the old age of Cassiodorus. 193 

administrative details and prevented him from book v. 
thinking out his schemes for the instruction of ^^' ^^' 
the men who had gathered round him*. 

Cassiodorus (as has been said) was probably writings 
about sixty years of age when he retired from dorua in 
Bavenna and when this 'Indian summer' of his ^^ *^^" 
Hfe, so beautiful and so full of fruit for humanity, 
began. His own writings .after this time were 
copious, and though they have long since ceased 
to have any scientific value, they are interesting 
as showing the many-sided, encyclopsediac cha- 
racter of the attainments of him who had been 
all his life a busy official. A voluminous com-Commen- 
mentary on the Psalms was the. work on which pSms. 
he probably prided himself the most, and which 
is now the most absolutely useless. In the so-Historia 
called *Hi8toria Tripartita,' he and his friend 
Epiphanius wove together, somewhat clumsily, 
into a single narrative the three histories of 
Church affairs from the Conversion of Constantine 
to the days of Theodosius II. given by Socrates, 
Sozomen, and Theodoret. In tlie ' Complexiones' Complex- 


^ In the De Institutione (cap. xxxii) he addresses the abbots 
Chalcedonius and GenmtiuB, apparently the heads of the two 
convents of Oastelliun and YiTarium. The description which 
is often appended to the name of Castsiodoras, * Abbot of YirierB,' 
is doubly incorrect. He was not an abbot ; and there is no 
conceiyable reason for giving the French form of the name of 
his favonrite monastery. Ptobably the second mistake has 
alisen from the &€t that Ste. Marthe's Life of Cassiodoms, 
written in French near the end of the seventeenth centnry, 
was the book by which, a hundred years ago, he was best 
known to the world. 

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394 The Fall of Ravenna. 

BOOKV. he comments upon the Epistles, the Acts of the 
"* Apostles, and the Apocalypse : and here it may be 
remarked in passing, that he includes the Epistle 
to the Hebrews among the writings of the Apostle 
Paul, apparently without a suspicion that this had 
not always been the received view in the Boman 

DeiDBti- Church. In his book *De Institutione Divinarum 

tutione -i • i • i 

Divinarum Litteraxum, from which some quotations have 
rum. already been made, he gives his monks some 
valuable hints how to study and how to transcribe 
the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the 
Fathers. Some precepts for the regulation of 
their daily life are also included herein, and upon 
the whole the book seems to approach nearer to 
the character of the Eule of Cassiodorus^ than any 
DeArtibuB other that he has composed. In the *De Artibus 

ftc Disci' , 

piinisiibe- ac DiscipHnis liberalium Litteraxum' he treats of 
tentfum. the scvcu liberal arts, which are Grammar, Rhe- 
toric, Dialectic, Arithmetic, Music, Geometry, and 
Astronomy. It is characteristic of the writer that 
Rhetoric and Dialectic, the two great weapons in 
the armoury of a Roman official, are treated of at 
considerable length, while of the other five arts 
only the slenderest outline is furnished. 
De Ortho- Lastly, when the veteran statesman had already 
(written rcachcd the ninety-third year of his age, he com- 
posed for his faithful monks a somewhat lengthy 

about 573). 

* Why may we not say < Regula ^anc^t Cassiodori'? It is 
. a mystery why so excellent a man, of orthodox creed and one 
of the founders of the monastic system, should not have been 
deemed worthy of canonisation. 

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Treatise on Orthography. 395 

treatise on Orthography. They said to him, * What book v. 

Gh. 13. 

does it profit us to know what the ancients wrote 
or what your sagacity has added thereto, if we are 
entirely ignorant how we ought to write these 
things, and through want of acquaintance with 
spelling cannot accurately reproduce what we 
read in our own speech V He accordingly collected 
for their benefit the precepts of ten grammarians, 
ending with his contemporary Priscian^, as to the 
art of orthography. One of the greatest dif- 
ficulties even of fairly educated Bomans at that 
day seems to have been to distinguish in writing 
between the two letters b and v, which were alike 
in sound. This diflBculty, which is abundantly :;/,^ ^ 
illustrated by the errors in inscriptions in the . . . 
Imperial age, is strenuously grappled with by S 
Cassiodorus, or rather by the authors from whom 
he quotes, and who give long and elaborate rules 
to prevent the student fi:om spelling Hhero with a 
V, or navigo with a b. 

Amid these literary labours, in the holy se-Endofhi« 
elusion of Squillace, we may suppose Cassiodorus 
to have died, having nearly completed a century 
of life. Even in 573, when he wrote his treatise 
on Orthography, he had already long overpassed 
the limit of time prescribed for the present volume. 
It was then twenty years after the final overthrow 
of the Ostrogothic monarchy. The Lombards had 

* 'Ex Prisciano grammatico, qui nostro tempore Constan- 
tinopoli doctor fuit .... ista collecta sunt ' (cf. vol. ill. pp. 

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a96 The Fall of Ravenna. 

BOOKY. been in Italy five years. Narses was dead, Alboin 
_flJ_L was dead, Justinian's successor had been for eight 
years upon the throne. Yet still the brave and 
patient old man, who had once been the chief 
minister of a mighty realm, toiled on at his self- 
imposed task. The folly of his countrymen, the 
hopelessly adverse current of events, had pre- 
vented him from building up the kingdom of 
Italy : they could not prevent him from conferring 
a priceless gift on mankind by rescuing the 
literature of Bome from the barbarians for the 
benefit of those barbarians' progeny. 

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Wittgis at Constantinople. 399 

Emperor and received the title of Patrician, book v. 
After he had spent two years at the capital, ^°' ^^' 
honoured by the friendship of the Emperor S the^J^.^®^ 
old Gothic King died, A man apparently who 54«- 
in his younger and hungrier days had done the 
State some service: but when his countrvmen 
gave him a palace and a crown and a royal bride 
as rewards for the deliverance which they expected 
at his hands, he replied, by his acts or rather 
by his utter absence of acts, in the words of 
Horace's wealthy soldier 

'Let him fight battles who has lost his all'.' 

His young wife, Matasuentha, soon after his death Second 
married Germanus, at that time the favourite S'SLte^ 
nephew of Justinian. What mattered to her the ' 
ruin of her people and the downfall of the edijSce 
erected by the wise patience of her illustrious 
grandfather 1 She had seen Constantinople, that 
Paradise of all degenerate Teutons, she had been 
able to copy the dresses of the crowned circus- 
dancer Theodora, she was even admitted into the 
family of the Dardanian peasants who swayed the 
destinies of the Empire. 

As for Belisarius himself, the man who had 

* 'Perductum Yitiges [lege Vitigem] Constantinopolim patricii 
honore donavit : ubi plus biennio demoratus imperatorisque in 
affectn conjunctus, rebus excessit humanis ' (Jordanes, De Eeb. 
Get. Ix). 
' •"!, bone, quo virtus tua te vocat, i pede fausto, 
Qrandia laturus meritorum praemia. Quid stas?" 
Post haec ille catus quantumvis rusticus, '^Ibit, 
Ibit eo, quo vis, qui zonam perdidit," inquit.' 

(Horace, Epist. ii. a. 37-40.) 

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400 Affairs at CanstanHnopU, 

BOOK V. brought two king? to the footstool of Justdnian ; 

— L who had subdued the two races of most tanible 

g^^^ij^ renown in the wars of the preceding century, the 
rioBb^ Goths and the Vandals; whohadagain^asitseemed^ 
v*^^- united to the Empire its severed Western portion, — 
his name and fame were in the mouths of all meo. 
Though the well-earned triumph had been denied 
him, every day that he showed himself in the 
streets of Constantinople was in fact a triumph. 
It was a pleasure of which the Byzantines never 
tired, to see him ride through the city from his 
palace to the Agora. Before him went troops of 
tall Vandals and Goths> of swarthy Moors the 
wiry sons of the desert. All had at one time or 
another felt his conquering sword, yet all delighted 
to sound his praises. Behind him rode some of 
his own domestic body-guard, itself a little army 
Hi» body- of 7000 men when aU were mustered ; eadi 


horse a stately charger, eadi man nobly bom and 
of noble aspect, and one who had done great deeds 
fighting in the foremost ranks with the enemy. 
In the course of this history we have heard con- 
tinually of the exploits performed by this * spear- 
man^' or that 'shield-bearer^' of Belisariua No 
wonder that the astonished Senators of Bome had 
said, *One household alone has destroyed the 
kingdom of Theodoric,' when they marked the 
great part played by the body-guard of the General, 
in the world-famous defence of Rome* 

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Glory of Belisarius. 401 

The central figure of this brilliant cavalcade, book v. 
Belisarius himself, was of mighty stature, with 


well-proportioned limbs and a countenance of^ ^ 
manly beauty. Though, as we have seen, he had ^^^^^^^ 
not the power of attaching to himself the loyal <>f^i*»*- 
devotion of his officers of highest rank, his affa- 
bility with the multitude, his tender care over 
the common soldier, even his desire to mitigate 
the horrors of war for the peasants of the invaded 
lands, were the theme of universal praise. .He 
visited his wounded soldiers, doing all that money 
could do to assuage their sufferings. The suc- 
cessful champions received from his own hand 
armlets of costly metal, or chains of gold or silver. 
If a brave but needy warrior had lost his horse 
or his bow in the combat, it was from the private 
stores of the General that the loss was supplied. 
No soldier, where Belisarius commanded, was 
permitted to straggle from the high road and 
tread down the growing crops of graes or of com. 
Even the firuit hanging ripe from the trees was 
safe from depredation when he marched past with 
his men. All provisions were paid for on a 
liberal scale, and thus, like our own Wellington 
on his march from the Pyrenees to Paris, he made 
even the greed of the peasant the most effectual 
helper of his commissariat. 

His military character, as it had thus far re- 

nouwfifva hf rcut roO iroXc/iov (vfiPokais ffiXtnov, iv Bavftari fuyak^ 
irotovfi€Pot ebf€<l)6tyyoyro ms oUda fiia ttjp 6n;dcpt;^ov dvvafuv xoroXtuci 
(De Bello Gotthico, iii. i ; p. 283). 

VOL. IV. T> d 

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402 Affairs at Constantinople. 

BOOK V. vealed itself, has been sufficiently indicated by his 

Ch. 14 

deeds. Its one distinguishing quality was re- 
Sy qlJil sourcefulness. Nothing seemed to daunt or perplex 
luiet. him; and whatever move his antagonist might 
mjike, he was always ready with the reply. He 
was bold to the very verge of rashness, when only 
by audacity could the game be won ; but when 
time was on his side, he could delay like Fabius 
himself. Strong, and even terrible, when stern- 
ness was required, yet with a disposition naturally 
sympathetic, temperate at the banquet, for 'no 
man ever saw Belisarius intoxicated,' chaste in 
morals and faithful to his wedded wife through 
all the licence of a camp, he anticipates, in some 
featiu-es of his character, the ideals of knight 
errantry and Christian soldiership, the Sir Gala- 
had and the Bayard of chivalry, the Gustavus 
and the Havelock of the modern aga 
The worm Such was BoHsarius in the midsummer of his 

at the root. i i • • i 

greatness and renown, at the thirty-sixth year 
of his age, a year younger than Napoleon at 
Austerlitz, four years older than Hannibal at 
Cannae \ Unfortunately, the happiness of his lot 

Compara- * On casting the horoscope, retrospectively, of eight of the 
offfrST greatest generals of ancient and modern times (Alexander, 
generals. Hannibal, Caesar, Belisarius, Marlborough, Frederick, Napoleon, 
and Wellington), I find most accordance between those of ffan- 
nibal, Belisariusy and Napokon, All of these three men did 
their greatest deeds before they were forty, or, to define the age 
more closely, between twenty -five and thirty-seven. After the 
latter age all three seem to lose their vigour, or at any rate 
their luck. Zama in the forty-seventh year of Hannibal is an 
exact pendant to Waterloo in the forty-seventh year of Napo- 

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Domestic unkapptness of Belisarius. 403 

was only in outward seeming. Even while he book v. 
strode through the Agora of Constantinople, fol- ^°' ^^' 
lowed by the yellow-haired giants from Carthage 
or Kavenna, his heart was brooding sadly over 
the thought that the wife whom he loved with 
such passionate devotion no longer cared for him, 
and that all her affection seemed to be reserved 
for a shaven monk at Ephesus. 

The whole story of the infidelities of Antonina, infidelities 
told with a cruel zest in the Anecdota of Pro-nina, 
copius, need not be repeated here. The back- 
stairs-gossip of a palace does not become worthy 
material for history, because it happens to relate 
to the wrongs of a warrior and a statesman. It 
is enough to say that the wife of Belisarius, 
though she had already reached or passed middle 
life^ unmindful of her conjugal duty was passion- 

leon, and corresponds generally with the least eaccessful part 
of Belisarius's second command in Italy. Belisarius and MarU 
borough, whose domestic and political histories resemble one 
another so closely, differ strangely in this respect. Belisarius 
is one of the youngest of conquerors ; Marlborough is quite the 
oldest upon our list, Blenheim and all his great battles having been 
won after his fifty-fourth year, when Belisarius was virtually su- 
perannuated. Wellington and Casdr won most of their victories 
between forty and fifty, and their careers show in many respects 
considerable correspondence. The two bom kings, Alexander 
and Frederick^ have of course exceptional opportunities of early 
distinguishing themselves : but while Alexander wins all his 
great battles before he is thirty and dies at thirty-two, the 
really heroic part of Frederick's life, the Seven Years* War, 
does not begin till he is between the ages of forty-four and 

* Certainly past fifty. She had a grown-up son and daughter 
^^ 535) fti^^ Procopius informs us that she was sixty years old 

Dd 2 

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404 Affairs at Constantinople. 

BOOK V. ately in love with . her handsome chamberlain 
^°' ^^' Theodosius, the godson and adopted child of 
iSth Tteo- ^^^^^'^ ^^^ ^^^ husband. At Carthage and at 
doaiug. Syracuse Belisarius saw and heard enough to 
rouse his suspicions: but he put the terrible 
thought away from him, and even consented, as 
we have seen, to put to death (ostensibly for 
another offence) the oflBcer, Constantino, who had 
expressed an opinion unfavourable to the honour 
of Antonina. So the years had gone by, Theo- 
dosius holding a place of honour and trust in the 
General's palace, passionately loved by its mis- 
tress, and Belisarius the only person therein who 
was ignorant of his dishonour. When the whole 
party returned to the capital, Theodosius felt that 
the risk which he was running was too terrible, 
and retired to Ephesus, where he entered a con- 
vent. Antonina made no attempt to conceal her 
wUd grief at his departure, and actually persuaded 
Belisarius to join her in entreating the Emperor 
to command his return. 
541. At length, in the spring of 541, all his pro- 

of Beli«^^ parations being completed, Belisarius started for 
liTEMt. *1^® East to try conclusions with Chosroes. On 
Photius the eve of Ids departure, Photius, son of Antonina, 
him of driven to despair by the machinations of his 

Antonina 8 ^ ^ ^ 

guilt. unnatural mother against his life, laid before the 
General convincing proof of her past unfaithful- 
ness. He proved to him also that Theodosius, 

in 544, when BeliBarius started the second time for Italy. Bat 
in his spite he may have added a few years to her age. 

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Antonina separated from her lover. 406 

who had refused to leave his convent in obedience book v. 
to the Emperor's orders, was in reality only waiting ^"' ^^' 
for the moment of Belisarius's departure to return ^*'* 
to Constantinople and resume the interrupted 
intrigue. Now at length the emotion of jealousy, 
so long kept at bay, took full possession of the 
General's soul. He made Photius his confederate, 
and devised with him a scheme for separating 
the guilty lovers and imprisoning Theodosiu& 
Then he started for the field; but with a mind 
distracted by these bitter thoughts, and hampered 
by the necessity of keeping open his commu- 
nications with his step-son, he failed to achieve 
any brilliant success over Chosroes. The plan, how- Antonina 
ever, devised between him and Photius was at first and Theo- 
successfully executed. Antonina was kept in harsh baniBhed. 
durance, and her lover was carried ofi" to a fortress 
in Cilicia, the very name of which was known 
only to Photius. So far the avengers of the interfer- 
injured honour of the husband had succeeded ; Theodora, 
but now Theodora appeared upon the scene, her 
aid being invoked by the guilty but furious wife ; 
and whenever Theodora condescended to intervene, 
all laws human and divine must give way before 
her. To understand the Empress's motives for 
interfering, obviously on the wrong side, in this 
wretched matrimonial dispute, we must turn to the 
political history of the times and take note of 
another event which signalised this year 541, the 
fall of John of Cappadocia. 

It will be remembered that in the terrible in- 53a. 

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406 Affairs at Constantinople. 

BOOK V. surrection of the nika, the fury of the populace 
-^. 1 had been especially directed against two ministers 
0^**"^*' of the Emperor, Tribonian the quaestor, and John 
ministers, ^f Cappadocia the Praetorian Prefect. Both had 
bowed before the storm, but both, soon after the 
suppression of the revolt, had been restored to 
TriboniwL their old offices, Tribonian had probably learned 
the lesson that the ministers of a king must at 
least seem to do justice. At any rate, his courteous 
demeanour, his honeyed words, and the vast learn- 
ing of which he was undoubtedly master, caused 
the people to acquiesce patiently in his subsequent 
545. tenure of office, and he died, a few years after 
the time which we have now reached, at peace 
with all men. 
John of Far different was the career of his early partner 

Cappado- . . . 

cia. in unpopularity, the coarse-fibred, ignorant, but 

singularly able John of Cappadocia, For eight 

533-541- years this remorseless tyrant was the ruling spirit 
in the internal administration of the Empire. 
When it came to a question of foreign policy, such 
as the Vandal expedition, which he would fain 
have dissuaded Justinian from undertaking, he 
might be, and was outvoted : but when a new 
tax had to be levied, or a provincial governor 
too chary of the fortunes of his subjects to be 
reprimanded, the voice of John was supreme. 
He had essentially the slave-driver's nature, the 
harsh bullying voice, the strong clear brain, the 
relentless heart, which enable a man in authority 
to get the maximum of work out of those below 

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John of Cappadocia. 407 

him, if they have no choice but to obey. Such book v. 
a man with the powers of a Grand Vizier was "' 

invaluable to Justinian, whose expensive and 
showy policy required that a great number of 
harsh and even cruel deeds should be done, though 
personally his not unkind disposition and his 
studious nature would have shrunk from the doing 
of them. 

Of any such scruples the hard heart of the Hi? 
Cappadocian felt not a trace. As pitiless as he 
was quick-witted, a man who lived for the grati- 
fication of his lusts, and who believed in nothing 
else, except in a sorcerer s spells, John was both 
cruel himself and the cause of cruelty in others. 
He erected the stocks and the rack in a secret 
chamber of the Prefects palace, and there tor- 
tured those whom he suspected of concealing their 
wealtli from him, till they had given up the utter- 
most farthing. One old man, Antiochus by name, 
was found when he was loosed from the ropes ^ 
to have died under the severity of the torture. 
What the Prefect was doing himself in the capital, 
his minions, emulous of his cruelty, were doing 
in all the provinces of the East. One in par-joanne« 
ticular, also named John, and surnamed Baggy- piumadus 
cheek * from the fat and flabby cheeks which made 
his face hideous, laid waste the province of Lydia 

^ Joannes Lydus, on whose authority these particulars are 
given (p. 251), declares that he was an eye-witness of this 

' fta^iXXoTrXov/xdicioff. 

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408 Affairs at Constantinople. 

BOOK v. and the city of Philadelphia with bis cruel exac- 
^' tioDB. A cetiain Petronius possessed a valuable 

Pd^i^ jewel which had been handed down to him by his 
ancestors. Of this jewel the Governor was deter- 
mined to obtain possession ; whether for the Em- 
peror s treasury or his own, who shall say 1 The 
owner was put in irons; was beaten with rods 
by stalwart barbarians; still he refused to part 
with the inheritance of his fathers. He was shut 
up in a mule-stable and compelled to spend his 
days and nights in that filthy dwelling. All his 
fellow-citizens bewailed, but none were able to help 
him. The Bishop of Philadelphia, timidly ven- 
turing on some words of remonstrance, backed by 
an appeal to the sacred writings, was assailed by 
such a torrent of abuse, for himself, for his office, 
for the holy books, as might only have been 
rivalled in the lowest stews of Constantinople. 
The Bishop wept, but Petronius, seeing that he 
had fallen into the hands of a monster who feared 
neither God nor man, sent to his house for the 
jewel, handed it to the tax-collector, and was 
permitted to depart, after he had given several 
pieces of gold to his tormentors as a fee^ for their 
labours in chastising him. 

story of Sadder yet was the history of Proclus, a retired 
veteran, whom the tyrant assailed with a demand 
for twenty aurei (£12), which the unfortimate 
soldier did not possess. The exactors thought 

* Sportuia^ the French douceur. Literary English seems to 
have no word which exactly expresses the idea. 

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Crtulties of the revenue-officers. 409 

that he merely feigned poverty, and blunted all book v. 
their instruments of torture on his miserable — L 

frame ^ Wearied out at length he said, * Very 
well, then, come home with me and I will give 
you the twenty aurei.* On the road he asked 
leave to tarry for a few minutes at a wayside inn. 
His oppressors waited outside, but as he was long 
in returning, they broke into the chamber and 
found the poor wretch hanging by a cord from 
a hook. Indignant at being thus outwitted by 
a man who had dared to die instead of satisfying 
the tax-gatherer, they cast his body into the Agora 
to be trodden under foot of men, and appropriated 
to the Imperial treasury the slender fortune which 
might otherwise have suflSoed, and not more than 
sufficed, for the costs of his burial. 

The collector of the public revenue is always 
and everywhere spoken against^ and we generally 
read the stories of his wrongdoing with some 
abatement for probable exaggeration. But in this 
case the most grievous tales of oppression come 
to us, not from the oppressed provincials, but from 
a leading member of the Civil Service, frpm the 
Somerset House (so to speak) of Constantinople ; 
and the remarkable but unconcerted agreement 
between Joannes Lydus and Procopius gives great 
additional value to the testimony of esu;h. 

The daily life of the' master-extortioner John Domeetic 
of Cappadocia is painted by these writers in vivid cappado- 


* Dttin-a ra t&v niuimv Spyava osr^fi/SXvKc tois v€vpoif roO dBXlov 



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410 Affairs at Constantinople. 

BooKV. colours, too vivid indeed and too horrible to be 
^"' ^*' reproduced here. The official palace in which he 
abode had been built by one of his most virtuous 
predecessors, Constantine, some seventy years pre- 
viously, in the reign of Leo, and was then a modest 
well-proportioned dwelling, such as suited the chief 
minister of a well-ordered state. It was adorned 
— and here we get an interesting glimpse of the 
arts of the Fifth Century — by a picture in mosaic 
representing the installation of its foimder. A 
later Prefect, Sergius, had added a large upper 
story, which somewhat spoilt the proportions of 
the building, and in these upper rooms John of 
Cappadocia spent his nights and days, wallowing 
in all kinds of brutal and sensual indulgences*. 

His glut- Sea and land were ransacked to supply the mate- 
rials for his gluttony, and while he reclined at 
the banquet, with his head covered with a veil 
to look like a king upon the stage, and while 
troops of the most degraded of mankind of both 
sexes shared his orgies, the grave and reverend 
members of his staff, men who had enrolled them- 
selves in the officium of the Prefect, believing that 
they were entering a learned and honourable pro- 
fession, were compelled to wait upon him at table, 

^ One of the accusations brought by Ljdus against his 
enemy is that, he turned the bath on the ground-floor, which 
had been good enough for his predecessors, into a stable, and 
erected another bath in the top story, 'forcing the element of 
water to flow up to an enormous height.' One would like to 
know what were the means employed for this purpose by the 
hydraulic engineers of Constantinople. 

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Daily life of John of Cappadocia. 411 

like the basest of menials, doing his bidding and book v. 
that of the shameless crew by whom he was sur- 

rounded. If any one dared to thwart the will of 
the tyrant in this or any other matter, he was 
handed over to the rough chastisement of John's 
barbarian men-at-arms, *men with wolfish souls 
and wolfish names ^' 

So passed the Cappadocian's evening, in flagi- His cow- 
tious and obscene orgies prolonged far into the 
night ^ When his troop of parasites had left him 
and he had to seek his bed-chamber, then the 
timidity of the bully showed itself. He knew that 
he had many enemies (one especially, mightiest 
and most unscrupulous of them all), and in spite 
of his thousands of body-guards he could never 
shake off the haunting fear that he should wake 
up to see some barbarian's eyes gleaming at him 
from under shaggy eye-brows and the knife raised 
to strike him to the heart. He started up at 
intervals to peep out from under the eaves of his 
dwelling, looking this way and that way at every 
avenue leading to the palace. Thus with fitful 
and broken slumbers the night wore away^ But 
when morning came, the fears, the half-formed 
resolutions of amendment made in the night, had 
all vanished. He perhaps bethought him that itHispopu- 
was well to cultivate his popularity with the mob; hating. 
for this man, whose hand was so heavy on wealthy 

* Tow BrjpuidfcrTaTOts r&» olKtrav^^pPapois icai XCkois raU yjnfxais&fia 
Koi raU irpotnjyopiaig np6s Tifiapiav eiCTiBffitvog (Joann. Lydus, ii. 2 1). 

• Procop. De Bello Persico, i. 24. " Ibid. i. 25. 

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412 Affairs at Constantinople. 

BOOKV. senators and Christian bishops, had a certain fol- 
^°' ^^' lowing among the lowest of the populace, parti- 
cularly among the Green faction and the brawny 
Gappadocian porters, his countrymen. Accordingly, 
dressed in a robe of vivid green^' which made more 
conspicuous the paleness of his sodden face, he 
would rush through the Agora courting the saluta- 
tions and the applause of the multitude. Then 
back to the palace to spend the morning in schemes 
for amassing money by extortion, the evening in 
devices for squandering it on bodily delights : and 
so day was added to day in the life of the Prae- 
torian Prefect of the East. 
Hwam- The man, though enslaved to bestial pleasures, 
flchemM. had yet some stirrings of ambition, and probably 
some intellectual qualities which made him fit to 
rule : and he had a fixed persuasion that he would 
one day be chosen Emperor. It was a natural 
thing for a Praetorian Prefect, already so near the 
summit of the State, — 

'Lifted up 80 high. 
To scorn subjection, and think one step higher 
Would set him highest.' 

Power and He worc already a cloak ^ dyed in the purple of 

the Pre- Cos, but differing from the Emperor's in that it 

feet. reached only to the knees, while the Emperor s 

swept the ground ; and the gold lace with which 

the Prefect's was trimmed was of a different and 

less conspicuous shaped When the Praetorian 

* Mandye. 

* Lydus says that the robe of the Prsstorian Prefect had 

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Ambitious designs of the Prcetorian Prefect. 413 

Prefect entered the room in the palace where book v. 
the Senate was assembled, the chief officers of the ^°' ^*' 
army rose from their seats and fell prostrate before 
him. The etiquette was for him to raise them 
and assure them by a kiss, of his good-will to the 
military power. A minister thus highly distin- 
guished might, as has been said, think the last 
step an easy one, and yet practically we do not 
find in the history of the Empire that it was often 
made^ Officers of the guard and ministers of 
the household were hailed Imperator more often 
than Prefects of the Praetorium. 

In the case of John of Cappadocia the coming John's 
elevation was not a matter of political calculation (5Vine«. 
but of superstitious belief. Though he feared not 
God nor regarded man, he had great faith in the 
power of sorcerers and soothsayers ; and the pre- 
diction with which these men flattered him, *Thou 
shalt be wrapped in the mantle of Augustus,' sank 
deep into his heart. Often might he be seen 
kneeling the whole night through on the pave- 
ment of a Christian church, dressed in the short 
cloak of a priest of Jupiter, and not engaged, so 
men said, in Christian, devotions, but muttering 
some Pagan prayer or spell, which, as he hoped, 
would save his life from the assassin's dagger, and 

TovXiol (1) inBtead of Begmetita (broad stripes) of gold, and that 
the ktter might be worn only by the Emperor (ii. 13). 

^ Philip, afterwards Emperor, was Pr»torian Prefect under 
Decius. I cannot at present recall another instance of the 
same kind. 

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414 Affairs at Constantinople. 

BOOKV. make the mind of the Emperor yet more pliable 
^^' ^^' in his hands than it was already. 
Tii©odor»*B But it was the Emperor only, not his more 
him. quick-witted wife, whose mind submitted to the 
ascendancy of the Cappadocian. Utterly insen- 
sible as Theodora was to the distinction between 
right and wrong, her artistic Greek nature felt 
keenly the difference between the beautiful and 
the uncomely; and the coarse, clumsy profligacy 
of the Prefect filled her with disgust. He 
courted the favour of the Green faction to whom 
she had vowed a life-long enmity. She read 
doubtless his designs on the Imperial succession, 
and knew that, if they prospered, the days of 
Justinian's widow would be numbered. Thus it 
came to pass that, early in the career of John of 
Cappadocia, Theodora was his declared foe. At 
the time of the sedition of the kika she had 
counselled his disgrace, and we may fairly con- 
clude that his second tenure of oflSce, though it 
lasted eight years, was one long struggle for 
power between the Emperor's minister and his 
consort. There is one notable instance, that of 
Richelieu, in which such a struggle has terminated 
in the minister's favour ; but generally speaking, 
however indispensable the counsellor may seem, 
the final victory rests with the wife. 
John's When Belisarius returned from the Gotliic war, 

BeiSul his popularity and his renown were wormwood to 
the jealous Prefect, who laid many an unsuccess- 
ful snare for his rival. Belisarius started for his 

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Antonina and Euphemia. 415 

Eastern campaign ; but his wife, a far more dan- book v. 
gerous foe, remained behind. Antonina, who had °'^^' 
set her heart on obtaining the favour of Theodora, ^ ,^^V 

o ' Antonina 

and knew that Johns destruction would be theP^?****^^ 


surest means to that end, devised a scheme for his 
ruin, so dishonourable that even the brutal Pre- 
fect wins a moment's sympathy when we see him 
thus ensnared. The one amiable feature in his 
character was his fondness for his only child Eu- 
phemia, a young and modest girl, who must assur- 
edly have been brought up out of sight and hearing 
^of her father's orgies. With this child Antonina 
cultivated an apparent fi^endship, and, after many 
visits had established seeming intimacy, she one 
day burst out into angry complaints of the way in 
which the Empire was now governed. ' See what Conversa- 
an ungrateful master Justinian has been to Belisa- john^ 
rius. After extending the bounds of the Roman Euph^a. 
Empire further than it had ever reached before, 
and bringing two kings with all their treasures 
captive to Constantinople, what thanks has my 
husband received 1 ' Other words were added to 
the same effect. Euphemia, who, young as she 
was, shared her father's enmity to Theodora, de- 
lighted at this prelude, replied, ' Dear lady, the 
fault is surely yours and your husband's. You 
could make an end of all this, but will not, and 
seem to be satisfied with things as they are.' * We 
are powerless,' said Antonina, * by ourselves. Our 
strength lies only in the camp, and unless some one in 
the cabinet seconds our efforts, we can do nothing ; 

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416 Affairs at Constantinople. 

BOOK V. but if your father would help us, by God's blessing 
°'^^' we might perhaps accomplish something worth 
«^^- telling of.' 

An inter- All this Conversation was duly reported to John 

viewap- , . . 

ranged of Cappadocia, who, thinking that now at last 
John and the words of the soothsayers were coming true and 
that by the arms of Belisarius he was to be seated 
on the throne of the Caesars, fell headlong into the 
trap prepared for him and pressed for an immediate 
interview with Antonina, at which they might 
arrange their plans and exchange oaths of secresy 
and fidelity. Apparently in order to gain time to 
communicate with Theodora, Antonina replied that 
an interview in the capital would be inexpedient 
and dangerous, but that on her approaching depar- 
ture to join her husband at the camp, John could 
safely pay her a valedictory visit at the suburb 
which marked the first stage of her journey. The 
deceived Prefect willingly accepted the invitation. 
And yet the very scene of their meeting might 
have suggested thoughts of prudence. It was a 
country house of Belisarius, but it was named Ru- 
finianum, having no doubt once belonged to the 
395. aspiring Prefect of Arcadius, who mounted the 
platform to be saluted as Emperor, and descended 
from it a mutilated and dishonoured corpse^. 
Tiie^inter- AH thesc arrangements were duly communicated 
to Theodora, and by her to the Emperor ^ Narses 

* See vol. i. p. 255 for the death of Rufinus. 

' Procopius in the Anecdota affirms that Antonina bound 
herself ' by oaths than which the ChrlBtians knew none more 
terrible ' not to betray the Cappadocian. 

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yohn of Cappadocia arrested. 417 

the Eunuch and Marcellus Captain of the House- book v. 
hold Troops ^ were sent with a considerable number _^! L 

of troops to listen, and if they heard treasonable ^^^' 
words to arrest the traitor. Theodora arrived at 
the country house where she was to pass the night, 
and whence she was to start on the morrow. John 
of Cappadocia came there too, having, so it was 
said, received and disregarded a message from Jus- 
tinian — * Have no secret interview with Antonina.' 
At midnight they met, the deceived and the de- 
ceiver, apparently in the garden of the palace. 
Behind a low fence crouched Narses and Marcellus 
with some of their followers. The Cappadocian 
began open-mouthed about the plot, binding him- 
self and seeking to bind Antonina by the most 
terrible oaths to secrecy. When they had heard John's 
enough, the spies arose and came towards John to arreat. 
arrest him. He uttered a cry: his own guards 
rushed to the spot, and a struggle followed in which 
Marcellus was wounded, but not mortally, by a 
soldier ignorant of his rank. In the scuffle John His escapa 
escaped. Men thought that even then, if he had tore. 
gone straight to Justinian and appealed to the Im- 
perial clemency, he might still have retained his 
office; but by fleeing to a church for refuge he 
left the field free to Theodora, who made his ruin 
sure. Having been seized in the church, he was 
degraded from his dignity of Prefect and taken to 
the city of Cyzicus, on the southern shore of the 

^ "Apx^y T&v cV iroXaTi^ ^vXdxMy. Probably he was (lUustris) 
Magister Militmn Praesentalis. 

VOL. IV, Be 

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418 Affairs at Constantinople. 

BOOKv. Sea of Marmora, where he was forced to assume 
^"' ^^' the priestly oflSce, changing his name from John to 
^^'' Peter. It was noted by those who were present at 
wrapped in the sacred ceremony, that a priestly robe not having 
of aS^ * been specially prepared for the unwilling candidate, 
*^^'* the garment of a clerical by-stander was borrowed 

for the purpose, that the name of this by-stander 
chanced to be Augustus, and that thus the promises 
of the sorcerers to the Prefect were literally ful- 
filled, since he had been * wrapped in the mantle of 
Further By the favour of the Emperor, who had not yet 
John of lost his kindly feeling towards him, the new-made 
cia. priest was allowed to retain a suflBcient portion of 

his vast and ill-gotten wealth to excite the sore 
envy of his fellow - citizens. The murder of a 
highly unpopular bishop of Cyzicus, of which 
crime John was unjustly accused, aflforded a pre- 
text to the Commissioners of the Senate to inflict 
upon him a terrible punishment. The former Con- 
sul, Patrician, and Prefect was stripped naked, like 
the meanest criminal, grievously scourged, and 
compelled to recite in a loud voice all the misdeeds 
of his past life. Then, with no possessions but one 
rough mantle, bought for a few pence, he was 
shipped ou board a vessel bound for the coast of 
Africa. At what port soever the ship touched he 
was constrained to go on shore and beg for a crust of 
bread or a few obols from the passers-by. Such was 
the fall of the man whose wealth had been counted 
by millions, and who had once been practically 

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yohn of Cappadocia a beggar. 419 

lord of Asia. Still, even in his abject misery, he book v. 
cherished his old dreams of coming empire, and in 


fact, after seven years of exile ^ he was, upon the 
death of Theodora, recalled by her husband to the 
capital. He regained, however, none of his former 
honoTUB, but spent the rest of his life in ob- 
scurity, and died a simple presbyter. — 
The help which Antonina had given to the Em- Antonina 

. , . ™ favour 

press in this deadly duel with the Prefect made with The- 
the former one of the most important personages 
in the State. Theodora was not ungrateful, and 
her influence, now all-powerful, was thrown en- 
thusiastically into the scale on behalf of her new 
ally. Hence, to go back to the dreary domestic 
history of Belisarius, it is easy to understand why 
the General was prevented from inflicting punish- 
ment on his faithless wife. Antonina's petition 
for help reached the ears of Theodora. Slie was 
herself delivered from her prison, Photius was ivt-w 
tortured (but in vain) to make him reveal theaoaim- 
place where Tbeodosius was confined, and was**™*' 
then thrown into a dark dungeon. He made two 
attempts to flee, after each of which Theodora 
caused him to be dragged away fix)m the Holy 
Table itself, under which he had taken refuge. 
At length, however, he escaped to Jerusalem, 
^ where, taking the habit of a monk, he, by a life 
of obscurity and hardship, succeeded in evadini!: 
the further persecutions of his unnatural mother 
and her Imperial ally. 

* Passed at Cyzicus and Antinoopolis. 
EC 2 

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420 Affairs at Constantinople. 

BOOKV. The Empress at length succeeded in discovering 

^^' ^^' the retreat of Theodosius, and, as if she were per- 

TheodosiuB forming the most meritorious of actions, restored 

brought o ^ ' 

back to liim to the arms of Antonina. Belisarius, cowed 


Belisarius and spirit-bfoken by the malice of two wicked 
'*™ ® ' women, was forced humbly to beg forgiveness from 
the wife who had so deeply wronged him. Tor- 
tures, banishment, loss of property, were the 
punishments showered upon the tmhappy depen- 
dents of Belisarius and Photius, who had sided 
with their masters against the adulteress. The 
guilty intimacy of Antonina and her lover was 
soon dissolved by the death of Theodosius, who 
fell a victim to an attack of dysentery ; but from 
this time onwards the General was made to feel 
that he was an outcast from the Imperial favour, 
and that only as Antonina's husband was he to 
expect even toleration at the hands of Theodora. 
Such was the reward which services, perhaps the 
most brilliant and the most faithful which ever 
were rendered by a subject to his sovereign, re- 
ceived at the Court of Byzantium. 
Virtual The year 541, which saw the fall of John of 

of the Con- Cappodocia, was also memorable in the history of 
**^ ^ *^' the Roman State, as witnessing the death of that 
venerable institution, which had survived the 
storms of ten centuries and a half, the Roman 
Consulship. For some years the nominations to 
this high ofiSce had been scanty and intermittent. 
There were no consuls in 531 and 532. The Em- 
peror held the office alone in 533, and with a 

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Abolition of the Consulship. 421 

colleague in 534. Belisarius was sole consul in book v. 
535, The two following years, having no consuls "'^^' 
of their own, were styled the First and the 
Second after the Consulship of Belisarius. John 
of Cappadocia gave his name to the year 538, and 
the years 539 and 540 had again consuls, though 
one only for each year. In 541 Albinus Basilius ^ 
sat in the curule chair, and he was practically 
the last of the long list of warriors, orators, de- 
magogues, courtiers, which began (in the year 509 
B. c.) with the names of Lucius Jimius Brutus and 
Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus. All the rest of the 
years of Justinian, twenty-four in number, were 
reckoned as *Post Consulatum Basilii/ Afterwards, 
each succeeding Emperor assumed the style of con- 
sul in the first year of his reign, but the office, thus 
wholly absorbed in the sun of Imperial splendour, 
ceased to have even that faint reflection of its 
former glory, which we have traced in the fifth and 
sixth centuries. The pretext for abolishing a dig- 
nity so closely connected with the remembrance of 
the heroic days of the Eoman State was, that the 
nobles upon whom it was conferred frittered away 
their substance in pompous shows exhibited to the 
people. The real reason doubtless was that pre- 
cisely by means of those glorious associations it 
kept alive in the minds of men some remembrance 

^ His ixdl name was Anicius Faustus Albinus Basilius. He 
was a senator of Old Home, who, after the capture of the city 
in 546, fled to Constantinople. (See Anastasius Bibliothecarius, 
ap. Muratori, iii. 132 : quoted and corrected by Usener, Anecd. 
Holderiy pp. 8 and 14.) 

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422 Affairs at Constantinople, 

BOOKV. of the days when the Emperor was not all in all, 
^"' ^^' nay, was not yet even heard of. Consuls, as the 
centuries rolled on, had found their power en- 
croached upon and limited by the Dictators, who 
seemed to be imperatively called for by the dis- 
orders of the Eoman State. The temporary figure 
of the Dictator had given way to the Imperator, 
the Princeps invested with Tribunician powers, the 
undefined AU-ruler who was yet only first citizen 
in the commonwealth, the wonderful Republican 
Autocrat whom Julius and Augustus had imagined 
and had bodied forth. Gradually the Imperator 
had become more of a king and less of a citizen, till 
under Diocletian the adoring senators, the purple 
sandals, all the paraphernalia of Eastern royalty, 
marked him out as visibly supreme. Still, many 
remains of the old Eoman constitution, especially 
the venerable magistracy of the Consulship, sub- 
sisting side by side with the new dominion, bore 
witness to the old order out of which it sprang. 
Now, the last remains of the withered calyx fall 
away, and the Imperial dignity exhibits itself to 
the world, an absolute and undisguised autocracy. 
The Emperor is the sole source of power ; the 
people have not to elect, but to obey. 

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Anthority. '\ ,/ 

Source: — ,X 

Procopius, De Bello Gotthico, iii. 1-9. BOOK V. 

Ch. 15. 

No stronger proof of the superiority of Belisa- confasion 
rius, both as a general and a ruler, could be aflforded Ster the 
than the disasters which befell the Imperial cause ofS^^ 
in Italy after his departure. There can be little "'*•* 
doubt that Justinian's chief reason for recalling 
him was the fear that he might listen to some such 
proposition as that made to him by the Goths 
during the siege of Ravenna and might claim in- 
dependent sovereignty. The fact that he was not 
sent against Chosroes till the spring of 541 proves 
that jealousy was Justinian's main motive, and 
heavily was he punished for that jealousy by the 
subsequent course of the war. Italy appeared 
to be recovered for the Empire when Belisarius 
entered Eavenna in triumph. Six months more of 
the great General's presence in the peninsula would 
probably have turned that appearance into a re- 
ality. But as it was, the stone of Sisyphus had 
only just touched the topmost angle of the cliffs. 
When Belisarius went, it thundered down again 

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424 The Elevation of Totila. 

BOOK V. into the plains. The struggle had all to be fought 
^"' ^^' over again, and twelve years of war, generally dis- 
astrous to the Imperial arms, had to be encoun- 
tered before Italy was really united to the Eoman 
Officers The ofl&cers who accompanied Belisarius on his 

turned rctum to Constantinople were Hdiger his son-in- 
iCariuB. law. Valerian, Martin, and Herodian. All of these 
generals except Herodian, who was speedily sent 
back to Italy, distinguished themselves in the Per- 
sian war ^. 
Officers The chiefs of the army who were left in Italy 

mahi^in wcre Johu the nephew of Vitalian, John *the 
Italy. Crl^tton,' Bessas the Goth, Vitalius, and Con- 
stantian *the Count of the Imperial Stables V 
The last two had commanded in Dalmatia, till the 
cessation of the Gothic resistance in that quarter 
allowed them to be transferred to Italy. 
No Gene- Amoug all thcsc gcuerals there was none placed 
chief. in supreme command. Constantian as command- 
ant of Kavenna, and Bessas, either at this time or 
soon after governor of Kome, were placed in two 
of the most prominent positions in the country. 
John s military record was the most brilliant, and 
probably with all his faults he would, if appointed 
6eneral-in-chie1^ have soon brought the war to a 
successful termination. But no — the studious 

^ Was Udiger inyolyed in the disgrace of Belisarius in 543 1 
We do not seem to hear of him after this date. 

* * Comes Sacri Stabuli.' The predecessor of the Qrand 
Gonnestable of the French monarchy. 

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No General-ifi'chief in Italy. 425 

Emperor was not going to encounter again the book v. 
same agony of jealous apprehension which had °' ^ ' 
caused each successive bulletin from Belisarius to 
be like a stab in his heart. Forgetful therefore of 
the fine old Homeric maxim, 

' 111 is the rule of the many : let one alone be the ruler ^/ 

he left the generals with an equality of authority 
to hold and govern Italy each according to his 
own ideas ^. Naturally, these ideas were in each 
case to plunder as much and to fight as little as 
possible. The bonds of discipline were soon utterly 
relaxed, and the rapacious, demoralised army of 
the Emperor became formidable to the peaceful 
provincials, but to no one else. 

Now too the power of that terrible engine of Financial 
oppression, the Byzantine taxing-system, began to ^^pp'®*®*^*** 
make itself felt in Italy. Justinian's first care 
with all his conquests was to make them pay. 
With an extravagant wife, a pompous and costly 
court, with that rage for building which seems to 
be engendered by the very air of Constantinople, 
with multitudes of hostile tribes hovering round 
his frontiers who required constant bribes to pre- 
vent them from exposing the showy weakness of 
his Empire, with all these many calls upon him 
Justinian was perpetually in need of money ; and 
the scourge, the rack, the squalid dungeon, as we 

^ OvK aya^v iroXvicoipaWi}' fir Koipa»os ttrrn (Biad, ii. 204). 

* It seems probable that there was some territorial division 
between the different commands, but what it was Procopius 
does not inform us. 

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426 The Elevation of Totila. 

BOOKV. have seen in the last chapter, were freely used in 

__1 L order to obtain it That odious analogy to a great 

Roman household which had now thoroughly es- 
tablished itself in the once free commonwealth of 
Borne, and which made the Emperor a master and 
his subjects slaves, seemed to justify any excess of 
rapine. If we could scrutinise the heart of the 
Dardanian peasant's son who sat on the throne of 
the Caesars, we should probably find that his secret 
thought was something like this : 'It is the busi- 
ness of my generals to conquer for me new pro- 
vinces. The inhabitants of those provinces become 
my slaves, and must pay whatever I command them. 
It is my privilege to spend the money which I 
condescend to receive from them exactly for such 
purposes as I choose.' 
Justinian's With thcsc hiffh uotious of prerofirattive in his 

failure as . . , ^^ r o 

an eoono- mind, Justiuiau became one of the most ruinous 
governors to his Empire that the world has ever 
seen. The reader need not be reminded of the 
dreary story of fiscal oppression which in Con- 
stantinople, in Africa, in Lydia, has already met 
his view ^ The eighteen new taxes with fearful 
and unheard-of names, the stringently-exercised 
rights of preemption, the cruel angaria which, like 
the French corv4es, consumed the strength of the 
peasant in unremunerated labour, all these made 
the yoke of the Emperor terrible to his subjects. 
And yet, as was before pointed out, notwithstand- 
ing this extreme rigour in collecting the taxes, the 
* See vol. iii. pp. 615-616 ; vol. iv. p. 29. 

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The Imperial Logothetes. 427 

reproductive expenditure of the Empire was not book v. 
attended to : the aqueducts were not kept up, the °'^^' 
CUTSU8 'pvihlicus or public post, the best legacy re- 
ceived from the flourishing days of the Empire, 
was suffered to fall into irretrievable ruin. Every- 
where the splendour of the reign of Justinian — 
and there was splendour and an appearance of 
prosperity about it — was obtained by living upon 
the capital of the country. Everywhere, by his fiscal 
oppression as well as by his pei-secuting attempts 
to produce religious conformity, he was preparing 
the provinces of the East, pale, emaciated, and 
miserable, for the advent of the Moslem conquerors, 
who, within a century of his death, were to win the 
fairest of them, and were to hold them even to 
our own day. 

In order to deal with the fiscal questions arising The Logo- 
m the newly-recovered provinces, Justinian appears itaiy. 
to have created a special class of officers, who bore 
the name of Logothetes, and whose functions cor- 
respond to those which with us are exercised by an 
auditor or comptroller. Doubtless some such ma- 
chinery was necessary to enable the Emperor to 
take up the financial administration of two great 
countries, somewhat entangled by the supremacy 
of Vandal and Ostrogothic kings (however true it 
might be that the subordinate officers in the re- 
venue department had remained Boman), and also 
to appraise at their just value, often to reduce, the 
large claims which the soldiers by whom the con- 
quest had been wrought would make against the 

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428 The Elevation of Totila. 

BOOKV. Imperial treasury. Some such machinery was 

! L necessary, but it should have been worked with 

a due regard to the eternal principles of justice 
and to the special and temporary expediency of 
winning the aflfections of a people who for two 
generations had not seen the face of an Imperial 
Alexander Both lusticc and expediency, however, were dis- 

'theScia. Ill 1 o ti . 1 -r 1 

sore.' regarded by the freshly appomted Logothetes, 
and especially by the chief of the new department. 
This man, Alexander by name, received the sur- 
name ofPsalidion or the Scissors, from a bitter joke 
which was current about him among the oppressed 
provincials, who declared that he could clip the 
gold coins that came into his hands without in- 
juring their roundness, and reissue them without 
risk of detection. He, like all the other Logo- 
thetes, was paid by the results of his work, 
receiving one-twelfth of all that by his various 
devices he recovered for the Imperial Treasury. 
From a very humble station in life he soon rose 
to great power and accumulated enormous wealth, 
which he displayed with vulgar ostentation before 
the various classes of men whom his exactions 
were grinding into the dust. 
Alienation The first of thcsc classes were the soldiers, for 
diery. the Logothetc was the natural enemy of the 
soldier, and Justinian deemed himself now secure 
enough in his hold on Italy to kick down the 
ladder by which he had risen. Every offence 
against the public peace — and the wild swarms 

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Alexander the Scissors. 429 

of HuDS, Isaurians, Heruli, whom Belisarius had bookv, 
brought into Italy, when his strong hand was — L 

removed, no doubt committed many such offences 
— had to be atoned for by a heavy fine to the 
Imperial treasury, one-twelfth of which went into 
the coffers of Alexander the Logothete. The 
endeavour to punish was praiseworthy, but it 
would have been -wise to employ some sharp 
military punishment in cases of signal offence, and 
above all, to make the generals feel that they were 
responsible for the good conduct of their men, 
rather than to create the general feeling that while 
the Logothete was rolling in wealth the soldiers 
whose stout hearts had reconquered Italy were 
shrinking into a poor, despised, and beggared 
remnant, and would undertake no more daring 
deeds for the Emperor who had requited them 
with such ingratitude. 

Not in Italy only, but throughout the Empire, Promotion 
another form of embezzlement practised by the 
Logothetes told terribly upon the efficiency of 
the army. The system of payment of the soldiers 
at this time was one of advance according to 
length of service. The young soldier received 
little, perhaps nothing besides his arms and his 
rations. The man who had seen some years' service 
and who was half way up on the rolls of the 
legion was more liberally dealt with. The veteran 
who would shortly leave the ranks received a very 
handsome salary, out of which he was expected to 
provide for his superannuation fund and to leave 

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430 The Elevation of Totila. 

bookV. something to his family. Of course, promotion to 
°' these more favoured positions depended on the 
retirement or death of those who occupied them. 
But the Logothetes, intent on curtailing the 
soldier's allowances for the Emperor^s profit and 
their own, hit upon the expedient of keeping the 
highly paid places full of phantom warriors. A 
veteran might have died a natural death, retired 
from the service, or fallen in battle, but still his 
name was borne on the rolls of his legion ; and 
thus an excuse was afforded for keeping the mid- 
dle-aged and elderly combatant still upon the 
lowest scale of pay. Procopius hints that Justinian 
himself connived at a system so grossly unfair to 
the soldiers and so absurdly deceptive as to the 
real strength of the army^ 
The Greek Among the varfous frivolous pretences for 
S^ed. abridging the soldier s pay or cancelling his right 
to promotion we hear with surprise that one was 
derived from their Greek nationality. * They were 
called Greeks, as if it was quite out of the question 
for one of that nation to show anything like high 
courage 2/ - This passage shows us, what we might 
have expected, that these exactions were tried 
more frequently on the docile native soldier than 
on the fiery and easily unsettled barbarian aux- 
iliary. It also brings before us the oflScials of 
the great monarchy by the Bosporus, men who 

* Procopius, Anecdota, 24 (pp. 133, 134). 

' 'EiriKaXoviTcr roir /icV a>p Vpcuxoi ctcv, &ait€p. ovk i^op tvv ok^ 
tij£ t6 irapdirop riPt ytyvaia y€V€<r6ai (Proc. Joc. cit.). 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

oppression of the Provincials. 431 

were themselves Greek in their names, their Ian- book v. 

guage, and their ideas, still acting the part of — L 

pure-blooded Koman governors, and aflFecting to 
speak of the men who were in fact their country- 
men with the old Koman disdain, the disdain which 
was not altogether unreasonable in the conquerors 
of Pydna and Cynoscephalae. 

Having filled the soldiery with a burning sense Wrongs of 
of wrong, Alexander proceeded to alienate asvinciais. 
thoroughly as possible the Koman inhabitants of 
Italy, whose good-will had so greatly aided the 
progress of Belisarius. All Italians who had had 
any pecuniary transactions with tlie Gothic kings, 
or had held ofl&ce under them, were called upon 
to produce a strict account of all moneys had and 
received, even though such moneys had passed 
through their hands forty years ago in the early 
days of Theodoric. Very possibly the easy-tempered 
King and his Gothic nobles had not been served 
with absolute fidelity by the sharp Italian officials. 
'But what concern is that of yours?* they natu- 
rally enquired. * It is not the Emperor who suf- 
fered : nay, rather, we might have thought that 
we were serving the Emperor by every aureus 
that we withheld from the most powerful of his 
foes.' But now was again exemplified the elas- 
ticity which marked all the reasonings of the 
Imperial cabinet on the subject of the Gothic 
domination in Italy. When that domination ap- 
peared to be hopelessly overthrown, Byzantium 
reverted to the theory which it had so often 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

432 The Elevation of Totila. 

BooKv. played with, that Theodoric and his successors 
^°' ^^' had been the lawful governors of Italy under 
Anastasius, Justin, and Justinian, that they had 
been by no means usurpers, but regular vicegerents, 
and therefore that an action for embezzlement 
(de pecuniis rejpetundis) would lie in the Emperor's 
name against all officials of the Ostrogothic Kings 
who had not faithfully discharged their trust. But 
this theory was not popular in Italy; and enforced 
as it was by grasping Logothetes, regardless of 
all principles of justice as to the kind of evidence 
which they required for transactions long past 
and forgotten, it swelled the chorus of discontent 
which was arising in all parts of the peninsula 
against the tyrant who had been hailed as a 

The Gothic By all these causes the smouldering embers of 
the Gothic, resistance were soon fanned into a 
flame. When Belisarius left Italy, Ildibad held 
only one city, Pavia, and had but one thousand 
soldiers. Before the year was ended \ all Liguria 
and Venetia, that is all Italy north of the Po, 
recognised his sway, and an army of considerable 
size (largely composed of deserters from the Im- 
perial standard) was under his orders. All the 
generals but one watched this sudden development 

Antumn, of the Gothic powcr with apathy. Yitalius alone, 
who was lately commanding in Dalmatia and now 
in Venetia, moved with his hordes of Herulian 

^ Apparently, but the notes of time are not very distinct 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

cause re- 


Female discussions in the Gothic Court. 433 

auxiliaries against Ildibad. A great battle fol- book v. 
lowed near Treviso — not many miles from the \ L 

little trembling colony of salt-manufacturers at^^^^^'^^ 
Venice — and this battle was disastrous for the^^**^"^- 
Imperialists. Vitalius himself with diflSculty es- 
caped. Theudimund son of Maurice and grandson 
of Mundus the Gepid^ a young lad who thus 
represented three generations of Imperial defeat, 
was in imminent peril of his life, but just succeeded 
in escaping, along with Vitalius. Visandus, King 
of the Heruli, lay dead upon the field. 

The tidings of this victory, which were soon Diseen- 
carried to Constantinople, made the name of Ildi- tween the 
bad of great account in the mouths of all men. naTbad 
Domestic dissensions, however, soon cut short a^feo/ 
career which promised to be of great brilliance. '"*** 
If Uraias the nephew of Witigis could forget, his 
wife could not, that the Gothic crown had been 
offered to him and that Ildibad reigned by virtule 
of his refusal. This lady, who was conspicuous 
among all her countrywomen for beauty and for 
the wealth which she lavishly displayed, was one 
day proceeding to the baths with much barbaric 
pomp of raiment and retinue. At the same 
moment the wife of Ildibad happened to pass, 
in mean attire and with scant attendance ; for 
Ildibad had lost his possessions as well as his 
children by the fall of Ravenna, and there had 
been no time as yet to form another royal hoard. 
The wife of the chief who would not reign offered 
* See p. 19. 

VOL. IV. F f 

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434 The Elevation of Totila. 

BOOK V. no obeisance to the wife of the actual King, and 

°' even allowed it to be seen that she was jeering 

^^'' with her attendants at that honourable poverty. 

The insult, and the burning tears with which his 

wife told the tale, maddened the heart of Ddibad. 

Death of He bcgau to traduce his benefactor, accusing him 

of disloyalty to the national cause, and before long 

caused him to be assassinated. 

AssMBina- From that day Ddibad' s hold on the hearts 

ndibad, of his countrymcn was gone, and he also soon 

54*. ' fell a victim to the hand of the assassin. One 

of his guards, named Wilas, a Gepid by birth, 

was betrothed to a young maiden whom he 

loved with passionate ardour. During his absence 

on some military duty, the King, either fix)m 

forgetfulness or caprice, conferred the hand of the 

damsel on another of his followers. From the 

moment that he heard the tidings, Wilas, maddened 

with the wrong, vowed his master's death; and 

he found many willing accomplices, for the blood 

of Uraias cried for vengeance. There came a day 

when Ddibad was feasting right royally in his 

palace, with all his guards in bright armour 

standing round him. The King stretched forth 

his hand to grasp some delicate morsel; but, 

overcome apparently by the wine that he had 

drunks fell forward on the couch. Wilas saw his 

opportunity, stepped forward, drew his sword, 

^ Procopius does not say this, bat his words seem to imply 
it : 'O /Acy oZv Ti\v X^'^P^ fVc/3aX»y is rh fip^futra rirl rijs artfioAos 

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Death of Ildibad. 435 

and severed his master's neck at one blow. With book v. 
amazement and horror the bystanders saw the °' 
head of Ildibad roll upon the festive board, even ^^'' 
while his fingers yet clutched the morsel that was 
never to be eaten. Nothing is said as to any 
punishment of the murderer. ^^ 

The death of Ildibad occurred about May, 54i,Eraricthe 

• Rugiwi 

a year after the departure of Belisarius and six chosen 
years from the commencement of the war. He 
was succeeded by Eraric the Kugian, whose pre- 
carious royalty was, however, never fully acknow- 
ledged by the remnant of the Gothic nation. It 
will be remembered that a part of the Kugian 
people had followed the standards of Theodoric 
into Italy and had shared his victories and his 
revenge over their deadly enemy Odovacar. Not- 
withstanding the subsequent treachery of Frederic 
their King, the bulk of the little nation remained 
faithful subjects of the Ostrogothic royalty, but 
though they loyally did his bidding in battle they 
remained a separate nationality, marrying only 
the women of their own tribe, and probably 
having justice administered by their own chiefs ^ 
This fragment of a nation, in the distress and 
discouragement of their Gothic friends, aspired to 
give a king to the whole confederacy : a pre- 

^ Oi dc 'Poyoi o^oi tBvoi fup tlai VordiKov^ aMpofUH rr ri nakatbp 
§PUav, Qtvdtpixov de avrovs t6 kot dp\iis TrpoatraipiaafjJvov $\fv SKkois 
TiiAv tOvtaiVf ts T€ rb yivog dniMxpufTo kcu ^itv avrois is tov£ noKtiiiovs 
^novta hrpcunrov, yvvat^i fuyroi a>r rfKurra imiuyvvfiepoi dXXorpuur, 
dKp<uff>p€ai iro/doov dtadoxaU t6 rov mBpovs Bvofxa iv oi^icriy avroU 
ditawrcofTo (Procop. De B. Qotth. iii. 2), 

F f 2 

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436 The Elevation of Totila. 

BOOK V. tension almost as audacious as if in the party 

Ch. 15. 


disputes at the close of the reign of Queen Anne 
the Huguenot refugees had signified their wil- 
lingness to place one of their number on the 
throne of Great Britain. 
Reign of Eraric reigned only five months, during which 
May to time he performed not a single noteworthy action 
541. ' against the enemy, but devoted his chief energies 
to those illusory negotiations with Constantinople 
which were the natural resource of a barbarian 
Negotia- king doubtful of the loyalty of his subjects. He 
tween called together a general assembly of the Goths, 
juBtmian. and proposcd to them to send ambassadors to 
Justinian, offering peace upon the same terms 
which had been suggested to Witigis : all Italy 
south of the Po to be the Emperor's, the rest 
to belong to the Goths. The assembly approved, 
and the ambassadors set forth on their journey ; 
but it is scarcely necessary to state that they 
bore also a secret commission by virtue of which 
Eraric offered to sell his people and the whole 
of Italy to Justinian upon the usual terms, the 
Patriciate, a large sum of money, and a splendid 
establishment at Constantinople. 
Dimtis- But in the mean time the hearts of all the 
the Goths. Gothic people, sore for the loss of Ildibad, from 
whose mighty arm they had expected deliverance, 
and impatient at the feeble gropings after a policy 
of this Bugian kinglet whom accident had set 
over them, were turning with more and more of 
hope and loyalty to one still remaining scion of 

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Short rdgn of Eraric, 437 

the house of Ildibad. This was his nephew Ba- book v. 
duila, a man still young for command \ but one "'^^' 
whose courage and capacity had already been ^^^'^^^^^ 
much talked of at the council-table and the*2,^^^» 


banquet. At the moment of his uncles murder ^^ephew of 
he was in command of the garrison at Treviso : 
and when he heard the tidings of that lamentable 
event, thinking that it was all over with Gothic 
freedom, he sent, messengers to Bavenna offering 
to surrender his stronghold on receiving pledges 
from Constantian for the safety of himself and 
his soldiers. The offer was gladly accepted, the 
day for the surrender fixed, the Boman generals 
looked upon Treviso as already theirs, when the 
whole aspect of the case was changed by a depu- 
tation from the discontented Goths offering the 
crown to Baduila. The young chief told them He is made 
with perfect openness all that had passed between stead of 
him and Constantian, but agreed, if the Bugiauwhou 
adventurer were removed before the day fixed 
for his capitulation, to cancel his agreement with 
Bavenna and to accept the dangerous honour of 
the kingship. The negotiations of Eraric with 
the Emperor, both those which were avowed and 
those which were only suspected, no doubt hardened 
the hearts of the Gothic patriots against him and 

^ I think we have no precise indication of Totila's age at his 
accession. We know, however, that he was the nephew of 
Ildibad, who was the nephew of Theudis, who was apparently 
a somewhat yonnger contemporary of Theodoric. Probably 
therefore he was not bom earlier than 515, and was about 
fi^e or six and twenty when he became King. 

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438 The Elevation of Totila. 

BOOK V. quickened their zeal : and thus it came to pass 

^°' ^^' that in the autumn of 541, long before the mes- 

5^'- sengers had returned from Constantinople, Eraric 

had been slain by the conspirators and the young 

Baduila had been raised on the shield as King. 

Double The unanimous testimony of the coins of the 

name, Ba- ncw King provcs that Baduila was that form of 
TotUft. his name by which he himself chose to be known ^ 
From some cause, however, which has not been 
explained, he was also known even to the Goths* 
as Totila, and this name is the only one which 
seems to have reached the ears of the Greek 
historians. It is useless now to attempt to appeal 
from their decision, and the name Totila is that 
by which he wiU be mentioned henceforward in 
this history. 
^ Totua'B The new King wielded the Ostrogothic sceptre 

for eleven years, a longer period than any of his 
predecessors since the great Theodoric. Coming 
to the help of his countrymen when their cause 
seemed sunk below hope, he succeeded in raising 
it to a height of glory such aa even under Theo- 

^ Friedlaender (Die Mdnzen der Ostgothen, 46-51), after 
enumerating several types of silver and copper coinage bearing 
the name of D(ominus) N(oster) Baduila Bex, says emphatically, 
< The name of Totila occurs on not a single coin/ 

' I think the fact that Jordanes uses and prefers this form 
justifies us in making this assertion. He begins by saying (De 
Regn. Successione, 379}, *Malo Italiae Baduila juvenis nepos 
(sic) asciscitur Heldebadi/ A few lines later we find, ' Totila 
qui Baduila hostile opus in Italia peragit : ' and after this he is 
always Totila in Jordanes. It may be noticed that Jordanes 
once makes the accusative Totilam, and twice Totilanemu 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Totila King. 439 

doric himself it had scarcely surpassed. Though BooKy. 
almost the last, he was quite the noblest flower ^°' ^^' 
that bloomed upon the Ostrogothic stem, gentle, ^^^' 
just, and generous, as well as a valiant soldier and 
an able statesman. Though he first appears before 
us, engaged in somewhat doubtful transactions, 
breaking his agreement with Constantian and 
counselling the death of Eraric, he is upon the 
whole one of the best types of the still future age 
of chivalry that the Downfall of the Empire can 
exhibit : and in fact we may truthfully say of him 
in the words of Chaucer — 

'He was a very perfite gentil knight/ 
The tidings of the ill-success of the Imperial The gene- 
arms and of the death of Eraric were conveyed mand^'^by 
to Justinian, who sent a severe reprimand to the "" "'^*^" 
generals for their supineness and misgovemment. 
Stung by this rebuke, having assembled a council 
of war at Kavenna, at which all the chief generals 
were present as well as Alexander the Logothete, 
they resolved to besiege Verona, the key to 
Totila's Venetian province, and as soon as that city 
was taken to press on to Pa via and extinguish the 
Gothic monarchy in its last asylum. The plan 
was strategically sound, and its failure was only 
due to the really ludicrous rapacity of the generals. 
An army of 12,000 men, under the command ofi>wign»on 


eleven generals^ advanced into the wide and fertile 

^ *Apxoyr(g dc avr&v (vd€Ka ^anv (Proc. iii. 3). I am not quite 
sure that Gibbon is right in inferring from this passage that 
the number of generals in Italy with supreme and equal powers 

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440 The Elevation of Totila. 

BOOK V. plains south of Verona, where their cavalry could 
^•^^' operate with great advantages against the enemy- 
^*^' Moreover, a nobleman of the province of Venetia 
named Marcian, who dwelt near to Verona and 
favoured the Imperial cause ^, sent word to the 
generals that he had bribed one of the sentinels 
to open a gate of that city to the Imperial forces. 
The generals, not feeling absolutely sure that this 
oflfer was made in good faith, invited volunteers 
for the dangerous task of commanding a small 
picked force, which should advance in front of the 
army and be admitted under cover of night within 
Artobazefl the walls of Vcroua. No one was willing to under- 
to enter take the duty but Artabazes, a Persian*, who in 
* ^ ^' the Eastern campaign of 541 had attached himself 
to the fortunes of Belisarius and had been sent by 
him to serve in the Italian war. Having selected 
one hundred and twenty of the bravest men in the 
army ^ he advanced at dead of night to the walls, 
and was admitted inside the gate by the sentinel, 
faithful in his treachery : his followers then slew 
the surrounding guards and mounted to the battle- 
was eleven. All the supreme generals might not share the 
expedition to Verona, and all the €vb€Ka Spxovres need not haye 
been supreme generals. 

^ There cannot be much doubt that Marcian was of Boman, 
not Oothic origin, though this is not expressly stated by 

' Probably an inhabitant of Armenia, the Afghanistan of the 
two empires, in which there was always both a Roman and 
a Persian party. 

' Not 'one hundred Persians' (Gibbon, v. 2ig, ed. Smith). 
They were f *c rov irairros arparrfmtbov djroX€;(^CKrf f . 

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Failure of the Imperialists at Verona, 441 

ments. The Goths, finding out what had happened, book v. 
threw up the game, retired through the northern "' 
gate to one of the hills overlooking the town, and ^^^' 
there passed the night. 

With the smallest fraction of military capacity The enter- 

^ •' prize failB. 

the important city of Verona would now have been 
recovered for the Emperor. But the eleven gene- 
rals, having started with the bulk of the army 
at the appointed time, began, when they were still 
five miles distant, to dispute as to the division of 
the spoil The quarrel was at length adjusted, but 
meantime the sun had risen, and there was broad 
daylight over the old amphitheatre, over the 
swirling Adige, over the streets and market-places 
of Verona. The Goths from their hill-side took in 
the whole position of affairs, and saw by what an 
insignificant band they had been ousted from the 
city. Bushing in again by the northern gate, of 
which they had not given up possession, they drove 
Artabazes and his band to take refuge behind the 
battlements of the southern portion of the wall ^. 
At this moment the Koman army and the eleven 
generals arrived under the walls and found all the 
gates barred, and all the circuit of the city, except 
one small part, occupied by their foes. Vainly did 
Artabazes and his friends shout to them for help. 
They withdrew with all speed, and the little band 
whom they thus left to their fate had no resource 
but to leap headlong from the battlements. The 

' Probably a covered way ran ronnd the inner side of the 
wall, as in the fortifications of Rome. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

442 The Elevation of Totila. 

BOOKv. greater number were killed by the fall. A few 
who had the good-fortune to alight on smooth soft 

^^^' ground escaped. Among these latter was Arta- 
bazes, who, when he reached the camp, inveighed 
bitterly against the cowardice and incapacity of the 
generals, which had brought so promising an enter- 
prise to disaster. 
The gene- Eecognisiug the failure of their design to re- 
to Faenza. couqucr Vcnctia, the whole army crossed the Po 
and mustered again near Faventia, a town on the 
iEmilian Way, about twenty miles ^ south-west of 
Ravenna. This place still survives in the modem 
Faenza, a bright little city of the plain, nestling 
under the shadow of the Apennines. Its early 
advances in the ceramic art have made the name 
oi faience familiar to all French dealers in earthen- 
Totaa When Totila learned what had passed at Verona 

after them, he sct forth with his whole army in pursuit of the 
Roman generals. So dwindled, however, was the 
Gothic force, that those words * the whole army ' 
still described a force of only five thousand men. 
Thecoun- While he was still on the northern bank of the Po, 


bazea not Artabazcs, who had not ridden in vain beside Beli- 


sarins to battle, and who is the only soldier whose 
deeds shed a brief lustre across this part of the an- 
nals of the Imperial army, implored his brother gene- 
rals to attack the barbarians in the act of crossing, 
so that they might have only one part of the Gothic 
force to deal with at once. He truly said that they 
^ Procopius's estimate, 1 20 stadia, is rather under the mark. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Battle of Faenza. 443 

need not trouble their minds about the alleged in- book v. 
gloriousness of such a victory. In war success was ^°' ^^' 
everything, and if they defeated the foe, men would ^^^* 
not narrowly scrutinise the means by which they had 
overcome. But the generals, having each his own 
scheme for conducting the campaign, could accept 
no common plan of action, not even the obvious 
one suggested by Artabazes, but remained inactive 
in the plain of Faenza, for which course they had, 
it must be admitted, one excuse, in that they there- 
by barred the iEmilian Way against the southward 
progress of the invader. 

Here then Totila, having crossed the Po without TotiU'a 
opposition, met the many-generaUed forces of the Ws boI- 
enemy. In a most spirit-stirring speech he called 
upon his soldiers for one supreme effort of valour. 
He did not dissemble the diflSculties of their situa- 
tion. The Komans if defeated could take shelter 
in their fortresses, or could await reinforcements 
from Byzantium ; but they had no such hope. 
Defeat for them meant ruin, the utter ruin of the . 
Gothic cause in Italy. But, on the other hand, 
victory earned that day woTild bring with her every 
promise for the days to come. Blundering and 
defeat had reduced the army of the Goths from two 
hundred thousand men to one thousand, and their 
kingdom from the fair land of Italy to the single 
city of Ticinum. But then, one victory gained by 
the gallant Ildibad had multiplied their numbers 
five-fold, and had given them for one city all the 
lands north of the great river. Another victory 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

444 The Elevation of Totila. 

BOOK V. now, with the blessing of God on their endeavours, 
^°' ^^' with the favour and sympathy of all the Italians 
^^' wearied out by the exactions of the Byzantine tax- 
gatherers, might restore to them all that they had 
lost And such a victory they might surely win 
against the recent dastards of Verona. 
Battle of After this harangue Totila selected three hundred 
men, who were to cross the river ^ at a point two 
miles and a-half distant and fall upon the rear of 
the enemy when the battle was joined. Then the 
two armies set themselves in battle array; but 
before the fight began, one of those single combats 
in which the barbarians in both armies delighted, 
and which seem more congenial to the instincts of 
mediaeval chivalry than to the scientific discipline 
of the old Imperial legion, occupied the attention 
Single of both armies. A Goth, mighty in stature and 
between t/crrible in aspect, Wiliaris by name, completely 
andArta- armed, with helmet and coat of mail, rode forth 
into the space between the two armies, and, 
Goliath-like, challenged the Romans to an en- 
counter. All shrank fi:om accepting the challenge 
except the gallant Persian, Artabazes. Couching 
their spears at one another the two champions 
spurred their horses to a gallop. The Persian's 
spear penetrated the right lung of the Goth. In- 
stant death followed, but the spear in the dead 

* What river? Not the Po, which is nearly sixty miles 
north of Faenza. Probably the Anemo (now Lamone), which 
flows in a north-easterly direction past the town. Bnt the 
want of clearness in topographical detail makes it probable 
that Procopius was not an eye-witness of this engagement. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 


Death of Artabazes. 446 

man s hand, having become jammed against a piece book v. 
of rock below him, prevented him from falling and "' ^ ' 
gave him still the erect attitude of life. Artabazes **^' 
pressed on to complete his victory, and drew his 
sword to smite his enemy through his coat of mail, 
but in doing so, by some sudden swerve of his horse, 
his own neck was grazed by the upright spear of 
the dead Wiliaris. It seemed a mere scratch at 
first, and he rode back in triumph to his comrades : 
but an artery had been pierced, the blood would 
not be stanched, and in three days the gallant 
Artabazes was numbered with the dead. Thus did 
a dead man slay the living. 

While Artabazes, out of the reach of bow-shot. Defeat of 
was vainly endeavouring to stanch his wound, the rial army, 
battle was going ill with the Eomana Totila s 
three hundred men appearing in the rear were 
taken for the vanguard of another army, and 
completed the incipient panic. The generals fled 
headlong from the field, one to take refuge in one 
city, another in another. Multitudes of the soldiers 
were slain, multitudes taken prisoners and sent to 
a place of safety ; and all the standards fell into 
the hands of the enemy, a disgrace which, Proco- 
pius assures us, had never before befallen a Roman 

Totila now found himself strong enough to strike Totiia in 
boldly across the Apennines — probably taking, not April (?)! 


^ But tliis must surely be a mistake. At the Caudine Forks 
and at Carrhae, to mention no other defeats of the Bomans, all 
the standards most have been lost. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

446 The Elevation of Totila. 

BOOKV. the Flaminian but the Cassian Way — and so try 

^"' ^^' to gain a footing in Tuscany. With this view he 

^^^' sent a detachment of soldiers^ to besiege Florence. 

Fiesol6, on its inaccessible height, he probably 

Florence deemed too difficult for his little army. Justin, 
who had distinguished himself in these regions 
three years before, was now commandant of the 
Imperial garrison of Florence ; but, fearing that 
he was too weak in men and provisions to hold out 
long, he sent messengers by night to liavenna to 
ask for relief. A force, probably a strong force, was 
sent to his aid under the command of his old 
friend and colleague Cyprian, together with John 
and Besses. At the approach of this large body of 
troops the Goths raised the siege of Florence and 
retreated northwards up the valley of the Sieve, 
which still bears in popular usage the name by 
which Procopius calls it, the valley of Mugello*. 
It was thought unadvisable by the Imperial generals 
to risk an engagement with their whole force in the 
gorges of the mountains, and it was decided that 
one of their number, with a picked body of troops, 
should seek out and engage the Goths, while the 

Battle of rest of the army followed at their leisure. The 
lot feU on John the venturesome and precipitate, 
who, nothing loth, pushed on up the rocky valley. 
The Goths had stationed themselves on a hill, from 

^ Under the command of Bleda, Koderic, and Uliaiis. The 
first name reminds us of the brother of Attila, the second, of 
the last Visigothic King, the third, of the just slain Wiliaris. 

' *Ap€x«»p'i<ra» tls x^P^^ MovKfWijv Hvofui, For some reason or 
other this name Mugello has disappeared from our modem maps. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Battle of Mugello. 447 

which they rushed down with loud shouts upon book v. 

Ch. 15. 

the foe. There was a little wavering in the Eo- 
man ranks. John, with loud shouts and eager ^*^" 
gestures, encouraged his men, but one of his 
guardsmen, a prominent figure in the ranks, was 
slain ; and in the confused noise of the battle it 
was rumoured that John himself had fallen. Then 
came wild panic : the Eoman troops swept down 
the valley, and when they met the solid squadrons 
of their fellow-soldiers, and told them the terrible 
tidings of the death of the bravest of the generals, 
they too caught the infection of fear and fled in 
disgraceful and disorderly flight. Many were slain 
by the pursuing Goths. Some having been taken 
prisoners, were treated with the utmost kindness 
by the politic Totila, and even induced in large 
numbers to take service under his standard. But 
others went galloping on for days through Italy, 
pursued by no man, but bearing everywhere the 
same demoralising tidings of rout and ruin, and 
rested not till they found themselves behind the 
walls of some distant fortress, where they might 
at least for a time breathe in safety from the fear 
of Totila. 

Such, according to Procopius, was the battle, or Central 
rather the headlong rout, of Mugello. He wasemitaiy 
not an eye-witness of the scene, and one is inclined tSeGotiw 
to conjecture that he has overrated the element of bittie.' 
mere panic and underrated the strategic skill of 
the Goths, who had apparently posted themselves 
on some coign of vantage among the hills* from 

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448 The Elevation of Totila. 

BOOKV. which they could inflict deadly injury on the 
^°' ^^' foe, themselves almost unharmed. But, whatever 
^^^' were the details of the figlxt, it seems to have 
opened the whole of Central and Southern Italy to 
Totila. Cesena, Urbino, Montefeltro^, Petra Per- 
tusa, all those Umbrian fortresses which it had 
cost Belisarius two years of hard fighting to win, 
were now lost to Justinian. Totila pressed on into 
Etruria. There no great fortress seems to have 
surrendered to him, and he would not repeat the 
error of Witigis by dashing his head against the 
TotiUin stone walls of Eome. He therefore crossed the 
and Cam- Tiber, marched southwards through Campania and 
Samnium, easily took Beneventum, and rased its 
walls, that no Byzantine host might shelter there 
in time to come. The stronghold of Cumae with a 
large store of treasure fell into his hands. In 
the same place was a little colony of aristocratic 
refugees, the wives and daughters of the Senators. 
Totila treated them with every mark of courtesy, 
and dismissed them tmhurt to their husbands and 
fathers, an act of chivalry which made a deep im- 
pression on the minds of the Bomans. All the 
southern provinces of Italy, Apulia, Calabria, 
Bruttii, and Lucania, were overrun by his troops. 
Not all the fortresses in these parts were yet his, 
but he collected securely and at his ease both the 
rent of the landowner and the revenue of the Em- 
peror. The oppressions of the Logothetes had 

^ The names of Urbino and Montefeltro are given on the 
authority of Marcellinus Comes. 

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Inaction of the Imperial Generals. 449 

revealed to all men that one great motive for the bookv.^ 
Imperial re-conquest of Italy was revenue ; and "' 
Totila, by anticipating the visit of the tax-gatherer, ^^^' 
stabbed Justinian's administration in a vital part. 
The barbarian auxiliaries could not be paid : de- 
sertions from the Imperial standard became more 
and more frequent ; all the prizes of valour were 
seen to glitter in the hand of the young Gothic 
hero, who, encouraged by his marvellous success, 
determined to wrest from the Emperor the first- 
fruits of Belisarius s campaigns in Italy. He sat TotUa 
down before the walls of Naples, which was held Naples. 
by a garrison of a thousand men, chiefly Isau- 
rians, under the command of Conon. 

This sudden transformation of the political scene inaction 

and timi- 

took place in the summer of 542. And what mean- dity of the 
while were the Imperial generals doing \ Without generab. 
xmity of action or the semblance of concerted plan 
they were each cowering over the treasure which 
they had succeeded in accumulating, and which 
was stored in the several fortresses under their 
command. Thus Constantian had shut himself 
up in Ravenna; John, not slain but a fugitive 
from Mugello, in Rome ; Bessas at Spoleto ; Justin 
at Florence (which had not, after all, fallen into 
the hands of the Goths) ; and his friend Cyprian 
at Perugia. Like islands these high fortresses 
occupied by the Imperial soldiers stand out above 
the wide-spreading sea of Gothic re-conquest. 
Even the victorious Totila will not be safe till 
he has reduced them also to submission. 
VOL. IV. G g 

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450 The Elevation of Totila. 

BOOK V. The terrible news of the re-establishment of the 

— L Gothic kingdom in Italy filled Justinian with 

Maib^n ^^^^ ^* ^® thought of all his wasted men and 
w^J^ treasure. Not yet, however, was he brought to 
<*»«^- the point of entrusting the sole command to Beli- 
sarius: that remedy still seemed to him worse 
than the disease. He would end, however, the 
anarchy of the generals by appointing one man 
as Praetorian Prefect of Italy ^ who should have 
supreme power over all the armies of the Empire 
within the peninsula. This was a wise measure in 
itself, but the holder of the office was badly chosen. 
Maximin, the new Prefect 2, was quite inexperienced 
in war, of a sluggish and cowardly temper ; and 
though the generals under him, Herodian the com- 
mander of the Thracians ^ and Phazas nephew of 
Peranius, who came fi:om the gorges of the Cau- 
casus and commanded a brave band of Armenian 
mountaineers, knew somewhat more about the 
business of war, their martial energy was dead- 
X- ened by the feebleness of their chief. 
Demetrius This new appointment was made apparently in 
to rXve the autumn of 542. The timid Maximin, afraid to 
*^ ^' face the unquiet Hadriatic in November, lingered, 

^ Apparently the office had heen vacant since the departoro 
of Belisarias. 

^ Probably the same Maximin who had been sent as am- 
bassador to "Witigis in 540 (see p. 379, where his name is in- 
advertently given as Maximus). 

' Herodian was left in charge of Naples after its surrender. 
He also distinguished himself at the siege of Bimini. It was 
perhaps on account of some special devotion to Belisarius that 
he returned with that general to Constantinople in 540. 

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Totila besieges Naples. 451 

upon one pretence or another, on the coast of book v. 
Epirus. All the time the distress of Gonon and ^°' ^^' 
the beleaguered garrison of Naples was growing ^^** 
more severe. Demetrius, another oflSicer of the old 
army of Belisarius, who had been despatched from 
Constantinople after Maximin, perhaps to quicken 
his movements, sailed to Sicily and there collected 
a large fleet of merchantmen, which he filled with 
provisions, hoping by the mere size of his arma- 
ment to overawe the Goths and succeed in re- 
victualling Naples. Had he sailed thither at once 
his bold calculation would probably have been 
verified : but unfortunately he wasted time in a 
fruitless journey to Rome, where he hoped to enlist 
volunteers for the relief of the besieged city. 
The discontented and demoralised soldiers refused 
to follow his standard, and after all he appeared in 
the Bay of Naples with only his provision-ships 
and the troops which he himself had brought 
fi^om Constantinople. 

When the fleet of Demetrius was approaching The other 
the bay a little boat appeared, in which sat his in NapTw! 
namesake, another Demetrius, a Gephalonian sea- 
man whose nautical skill had been of the highest 
service to Belisarius in his Italian and African 
voyages. This man was now Financial Adminis- 
trator^ of the city of Naples for the Emperor. 
He had good reason to wish for the success of his 
namesake the general, since when Totila first sum- 

^ I use a vague term, not knowing into what title of the 
Notitia to translate the Mrporros of Procopins. 


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452 The Elevation of Totila. 

BOOKV. moned the citizens to surrender he had assailed 
_^!li_l the stately and silent barbarian with such a torrent 
^^^' of voluble abuse as only a foul-mouthed Greek 
could utter. He had now come, at great hazard of 
his life, to inform the general of the distress of the 
beleaguered city and to quicken his zeal for its 
Touiade- But, during the ill-advised journey to Rome, 
relieving Totila also had obtained information of the move- 
^ ' ments and character of the relieving squadron. He 
had prepared a fleet of cutters \ lightly loaded 
and easily handled, and with these he dashed into 
the fleet of heavy merchantmen as soon as they 
had rounded the promontory of Misenum and 
entered the Bay of Naples. The unwieldy and 
feebly -armed vessels were at once steered for 
flight. All of the ships, all of their cargoes, most 
of the men on board, were taken. Some of the 
soldiers were slain ; a few who were on board the 
hindermost vessels of the fleet were able to escape 
in boats. Among these fugitives was Demetrius 
HiB cruelty the general. His namesake, the unhappy sailor- 
Neapolitan orator, fell into the hands of Totila, who ordered 
' his abusive tongue and the hands that had been 
probably too greedy of gold to be cut ofi*, and 
then suffered the miserable man to go whither 
he would. A cruel and unkingly deed, not worthy 
of the gallant Totila. 
Maximin Meanwhile the Prefect Maximin arrived with 
fijra3U8e. alj his armament in the harbour of Syracuse. 

* Dromones, 

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Attempts to relieve Naples. 453 

Having reached the friendly shore he would not book v. 
again leave it, though all the generals sent mes- ^^' ^^' 
sages urging him to go to the assistance of Conon. ^^^' 
But, at length, fear of the Emperor's wrath so far 
overcame his other fears that he sent his whole 
armament to Naples under the command of 
Herodian, Demetrius, and Phazas, tarrying himself 
quietly at Syracuse. By this time the winter was Janaary(?), 
far advanced and sailing was indeed dangerous. 
A tremendous storm sprang up just as the fleet The storm, 
entered the Bay of Naples, Phazas the Armenian 
seems to have at once abandoned all hope, and 
fled before the storm. The rowers could not 
draw their oars out of the water, the deafening 
roar of the wind and waves <lrowned the word 
of command if any officer had presence of mind 
enough to utter it, and, in short, all the ships 
but a very few were dashed on shore by the fury 
of the gale. Of course in these circumstances 
their crews fell a helpless prey to the Goths who 
lined the coast. 

Herodian and Phazas with a very few others Demetrius 
escaped. Demetrius, this time, fell into the hands soner. 
of the enemy. With a halter round his neck he 
was led in front of the walls of the city, and was 
then compelled — but a man who called himself 
the countryman of Regulus should not have yielded 
to such compulsion — to harangue the citizens in 
such words as Totila dictated. The speech was 
all upon the necessity of surrender, the impos- 
sibility of resisting the Goths, the powerlessness \ 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

454 The Elevation of Totila. 

BOOKv. of the Emperor, whose great armament had just 

^"' ^^' been shattered before their eyes, to prepare another 

^^^' for their deliverance. Cries and lamentations 

filled all the city when the inhabitants, after their 

long sufferings bravely borne, heard such counsels 

of despair coming from the lips of a Boman general 

standing in such humiliating guise before them. 

Totiia'B Totila, who knew what their frame of mind must 


words to be, invited them to the battlements and there held 

the Nea- 

poUtwiB. parley. He told them that he had no grudge 
in his heart against the citizens of Naples, but, 
on the contrary, would ever remember their fidelity 
to the Gothic crown and the stout defence which 
they had made against Belisarius seven years 
before, when every other city in Italy was rushing 
into rebellion. Neither ought they on their part 
to bear any grudge against him for the hardships 
which the siege had caused them, and which were 
all part of the kindly violence by which he would 
force them back into the path of happiness which 
they had quitted. He then offered his terms: 
leave to Conon and his soldiers to depart whither- 
soever they woidd, taking all their possessions with 
them, and a solemn oath for the safety of every 
Neapolitan citizen. 

Surrender The tcrms wcre ffenerous, and both citizens and 

of Naples. . . 

soldiers, pressed by hunger and pestilence \ were 
eager to accept them. Loyalty to the Emperor, 
however, made them still consent to the surrender 

^ HoXX^ yhp avdyiaj airrovs rot) XocftoO cVic^e. The Latin version 
has (inaccurately), * TJrgente famis necessitate.' 

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Surrender of Naples, 455 

only in the event of no help reaching them book v. 
within thirty days. Totila, with that instinct "' ^^' 
of repartee which shone forth in him, and which ^^^' 
was more like a Greek than a Goth, replied, 
*Take three months if you will. I am certain 
that no succours in that time will arrive frona 
Byzantium/ And with that he promised to ab- 
stain for ninety days from all attacks upon their 
fortifications, but did ngt repeat the blunder of 
Witigis, in allowing the process of revictualling 
to go forward during the truce. • Disheartened 
and worn out with famine, the citizens surrendered 
the place long before the appointed day, and May, 543. 
Naples again became subject to Gothic rule. 

On becoming master of the city, Totila showed TotiWs 
a thoughtful kindness towards the inhabitants, feeding the 
such as, in the emphatic words of Procopius, could ^ ^^' 
have been expected neither from an enemy nor 
a barbarian ^ To obviate the evil consequences 
of overfeeding after their long abstinence, he 
posted soldiers in the gates and at the harbour 
with orders to let none of the inhabitants leave 
the city. Each house was then supplied with 
rations of food on a very moderate scale, and 
the portion given was daily and insensibly in- 
creased till the people were again on full diet. 
Conon and his soldiers were provided with ships, Generous 
which were ordered to take them to any port that orconon 
they might name. Fearing to be taunted withmet.^*^ 

* ^iXcwOpwiriav h roifs ^XmKdrag iirthti^aro otrc 7ro\€fil^ o0r£ pap- 
/3df>^ dv^pl nparovo'av. 

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466 The Elevation of Totila. 

BOOKV. their surrender if they went to Constantinople, 
"' they elected to be taken to Eome. The wind, 
^^' however, proved so contrary that they were obliged 
to return on shore. They feared that the Gothic 
King might regard himself as now absolved from 
his promises and might treat them as foes. Far 
from it: he summoned them to his presence, 
renewed his promises of protection, and bade them 
mingle freely with his soldiers and buy m his 
camp whatever they had need of As the wind 
still continued contrary, he provided them with 
horses and beasts of burden, gave them provisions 
for the way, and started them on their road for 
Rome, assigning to them some Gothic warriors 
of reputation by way of escort. And this, though 
his own heart was set on taking Eome and he 
knew that these men were going to swell the 
ranks of her defenders. 
Fortificft. In conformity with his uniform policy (borrowed 
Naples dis. perhaps from the traditions of Gaiseric), he then 
dismantled the walls of Naples, or at least a 
sufficient portion of them to make the city, as he 
believed, untenable by a Eoman army. * For he 
preferred ever to fight on the open plain, rather 
than to be entangled in the artifices and me- 
chanical contrivances which belong to the attack 
^ and defence of besieged cities.' 
TotiWs About this time an event happened which 

towarda showcd in a striking light the policy of Totila 
criminal, towards the Italians. A countryman of Calabria 
appeared in the royal tent, demanding justice 

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Discipline of the Gothic Army. 457 

upon one of the Gothic King's body-guard who book v. 
had violated his daughter. . The offence was ad- "' 
mitted, and the offender was put in ward till ^^^' 
Totild, should decide upon his punishment. As 
it was generally believed that this punishment 
would be death, some of the men of highest rank 
in the army came to implore the King not to 
sacrifice for such a fault the life of a brave and 
capable soldier. With gentle firmness Totila re- 
fused their request. He pointed out that it is 
easy to earn a character for good-nature by letting 
offenders go unpunished, but that this cheap kind- 
ness is the ruin of good government in the state, 
and of discipline in the army. He enlarged on 
his favourite theme, that all the vast advantages 
with which the Goths commenced the war had 
been neutralised by the vices of Theodahad ; and 
on the other hand, that, by the Divine favour and 
for the punishment of the rapine and extortion 
of their foes, the Gothic banner had in a mar- 
vellous way been raised again from the dust in 
which it had lain drooping. Now, then, let the 
chiefs choose which they would have, the safety 
of the whole Gothic state or the preservation of 
the life of this criminal. Both they could not 
have, for victory would be theirs only so long 
as their cause was good. The nobles were con- 
vinced by his words, and no murmurs were heard 
when, a few days after, the ravieher was put to 
death and his goods bestowed on the maiden 
whom he had wronged. 

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458 The Elevation of Totila, 

BOOKV. SucIj was the just rule of the barbarian King. 
Meanwhile the so-called Eoman officers, shut up 

pemorai- jj^ their scvcral fortresses, seemed intent only on 

iBation of ^ J 

the impe- plundering the country which they could not defend. 

nalarmy. r o j j 

The generals feasted themselves at gorgeous ban- 
quets, where their paramours, decked with the 
spoils of Italy, flaunted their mercenary beauty. 
The soldiers, dead to all sense of discipHne, and 
despising the orders of such chiefs, wandered 
through the country districts, wherever the Goths 
were not^ pillaging both villa and praediuniy and 
making themselves far more terrible to the rural 
inhabitants than the Goths from whom they pro- 
fessed to defend them. Thus was the provincial, 
especially he who had been a rich provincial, of 
Italy in evil case. Totila had appropriated his 
lands and was receiving the revenues which they 
furnished, and all his moveable property was 
stolen from him by the soldiers of John or 
544- The state of the country became at length so 
m^^to intolerable that Constantian, the commandant of 
ufl man. -^yQ^^^^^ wrote to the Emperor that it was no 
longer possible to defend his cause in Italy; and 
all the other officers set their hands to this state- 
ment. Of this state of discouragement among 
his enemies Totila endeavoured to avail himself 
by a letter which he addressed at this time to 
TotiWs the Eoman Senate. * Surely,' he said, * you must 
the Senate, in thcsc cvil days sometimes remember the benefits 
which you received, not so very long ago, at the 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Totilas Letter to the Septate. 459 

hands of Theodoric and Amalasuntha. Dear book v. 
Romans M compare the memory of those rulers _^;_^ 
with what you now know of the kindness of the ^^' 
Greeks towards their subjects. You received these 
men with open arms, and how have they repaid 
you? With the griping exactions of Alexander 
the Logothete, with the insolent oppressions of 
the petty military tyrants who swagger in your 
streets. Do not think that as a young man^ I 
speak presumptuously, or that as a barbarian 
king I speak boastfully when I say that we are 
about to change all this and to rescue Italy 
from her tyrants. I make this assertion, not 
trusting to our own valour alone, but believing 
that we are the ministers of Divine justice against 
these oppressors, and I implore you not to side 
against your champions and with your foes, but 
by such a conspicuous service as the surrender of 
Rome into our hands to wipe out the remembrance 
of your past ingratitude/ 

This letter was entrusted to some of the captive Totiia's 
Romans, with orders to convey it to the Senate. cLdedin 
John forbade those who read the letter to return 
any answer. Thereupon the Gothic King caused 
several copies of the letter to be made, appended 
to them his emphatic assurances, sealed by solemn 
oaths, that he would respect the lives and property 

' *YfiSip 5c oU<T6io fUTfdtU fiXfre virb V€Ov (piKorifxiag rh ovtidt) ravra 
€g avToi/g <f>4pta-6ai. This expression (viov) confirms us in the 
belief that Totila was at this time (544) not over thirty ; and 
that he was therefore probably born at earliest about 515. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

460 The Elevation of Totila. 

BooKv. of such Romans as should surrender, and sent 

Ch. 15. 


the letters at night by trusty messengers into' 
the City. When day dawned the Forum and all 
the chief streets of Eome were found to be pla- 
carded with Totila s proclamation. The doers of 
the deed could not be discovered, but John, sus- 
pecting the Arian priests of complicity in the 
affair, expelled them from the City. 
Totila Finding that this was the only answer to his 

Rome and appeal, Totila resolved to undertake in regular 
form the siege of Rome. He was at the same 
time occupied in besieging Otranto, which he was 
anxious to take, as it was the point at which 
Byzantine reinforcements might be expected to 
land, in order to raise the standard of the Empire 
in Calabria. He considered, however, that he had 
soldiers enough for both enterprises, and, leaving 
a small detachment to prosecute the siege of 
Otranto, he marched with the bulk of his army 
to Rome. 
Justinian Now at length did Justinian, with grief and 
BendBeii- sighing, como to the conclusion that only one man 
again to could cope with this terrible young Gothic cham- 
*^' pion, and that, even though the Persians were 
pressing him hard in the East, Belisarius must 
return to Italy. 

But, before we begin to watch the strange duel 
between the veteran Byzantine General and the 
young Gothic King, before we turn the pages 
which record another and yet another siege of 
Rome, we must devote a little time to the con- 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Belisarius to be recalled, 461 

templation of the figure of one who, more power- book v. 
fully than either Belisarius or Totila, moulded the ^°' ^^' 
destinies of Italy and Western Europe. The 
great Law-giver of European monasticism died 
just at this time. Let us leave for a space the 
marches and counter-marches of Eoman and Bar- 
barian, and stand in spirit with the weeping 
monks of Monte Cassino by the death-bed of 
Benedict of Nursia. 

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Saureet: — 
BOOKV. 'Vita et Miracnla Venerabilis Benedict!/ written by 
Cg- ^^' Pope Gregory I in Latin about 594, and translated into 
Greek by his successor Zacharias (741—752). (The edition 
here used is that printed at Venice 1723.) 

Regula S. p. Benedicti (Migne's edition, Paris, 1866). 

Guides : — 
Les Moines d'Occident, par le Comte de Montalembert 
(i860). Les Monasteres B£n^ictins d'ltalie, par Alphonse 
Dantier (1867). Milman's History of Latin Christianity, 
Book III. Chap. vi. 

The world- By dcvious wajs, and through a tangle of for- 
of Bene- gottcn OF but half-remembered names, we are come 
to a broad highway trodden by the feet of many 
reverent generations and made illustrious by some 
of the best-known figures in the history of me- 
diaeval Christianity. Even in the annals of mo- 
nasticism the saintly Severinus of Noricum, the 
studious Cassiodorus of Squillace, are but faintly 
remembered ; but every one who knows anything 
of the spirit of the Middle Ages is familiar with 
the name of Benedict of Nursia. His face and 
the faces of his sister Scholastica, and his pupils 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Renown of Benedict. 463 

Maurus and Placidus, pourtrayed by some of the book v. 

greatest painters whom the world has known, '. 1 

look softly down from the walls of endless Italian 
galleries. His great monastery on Mount Cassino 
was for centuries, scarcely less than Rome and 
Jerusalem, the object of the reverent homage of 
the Christian world. More than either of those 
two historic cities did it enshrine a still existing 
ideal for the formation of what was deemed the 
highest type of human character. In the ninth 
century the great Emperor Charles ordered an 
enquiry to be made, as inito a point requiring 
abstruse and careful research, * Whether there 
were any monks anywhere in his dominions who 
professed any other rule than the rule of Saint 
Benedicts' And so it continued to be, till in 
the thirteenth century those great twin brethren, 
Francis and Dominic, rose above the horizon, 
and the holiness of the reposeful Monk paled 
before the more enthusiastic holiness of the Friar. 
But during the intervening centuries, from the 
ninth to the thirteenth, all Western- monks, from 
Poland to Portugal and from Cumberland to 
Calabria, looked with fond eyes of filial obedi- 
ence and admiration to that Campanian hill on 
which their founder had fixed his home and of 
which a monastic Isaiah might have prophesied, 
' From Cassino shall go forth the law, and the 
word of the Lord from the mountain of Benedict/ 

* See Guizot's History of Civilisation in France : Lecture 
15, ad fin. 

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464 Saint Benedict. 

BOOK V. The life of Saint Benedict was written in Latin 
"' by Pope Gregory the Great, whose birth-year was 

G^^o '• perhaps the same as the death-year of the Saint. 

bu^phy Such a book, the biography of the greatest Monk, 

Benedict, written by the greatest Pope, obtained of course 
a wide and enduring popularity in the West ; and 
in order that the East might share the benefit, a 
later pope, Zacharias, translated it into Greek. 
It is entitled ' The Life and Miracles of the 
Venerable Benedict, Founder and Abbot of the 
Monastery which is called (of) the Citadel of the 
Province of Campania^/ As we might have ex- 
pected from the title, supernatural events occupy 
a large place in the narrative, and we find our- 
selves at once confi^nted with one of those prob- 
lems as to the growth of belief which so often 
perplex the historian of the Middle Ages. We 
have not here to deal with the mere romancing 
of some idle monk, manufacturing legends for 
the glory of his order about a saint who had 
been in his tomb for centuries. Pope Gregory 
was all but a contemporary of St. Benedict, and 
he professes to have derived his materials from 
four disciples and successors of the Saint, Con- 
stantine, Valentinian, Simplicius, and Honoratus. 
In these circumstances the merely mythical factor 
seems to be excluded from consideration; and 

* *Vita et Miracula venerabilis Benedict! conditoris, vel 
Abbatis Monasterii, quod appellatur Arcis Ph)vinciae Cam- 
paniae.' Yd is no doubt here equivalent to e^, as so often in 
post-classical Latin. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Pope Gregorys Biography. 465 

there is something in the noble character of Gre- book v. 
gory and of the friends of Benedict which makes — f! L 

a historian unwilling to adopt, unless under abso- 
lute compulsion, the theory of a * pious fraud/ 
Yet probably not even the most absolutely sur- 
rendered intellect in the Catholic Church accepts 
all the marvels liere recorded as literally and ex- 
actly true. It is useless to attempt to rationalise 
them down into the ordinary occurrences of every- 
day life. Yet in recounting them one would not 
wish to seem either to sneer or to believe. Our 
best course doubtless is to give them in Pope 
Gregory's own words, studying them as phenomena 
of the age, and remembering that whatever was 
the actual substratiun of fact, natural or super- 
natural, this which we find here recorded was what 
one of the greatest minds of the sixth century, 
the architect of the mediaeval Papacy and the 
restorer of the Christianity of Britain, either 
himself believed or wished to see believed by his 

In the high Sabine uplands^ nearly two thou* ^«^'c*'" 
sand feet above the sea-level^ undw the shadow place, 
of the soaring Monti SibeUini, which are among 
the highest peaks of the Apennine range, lies 
the little city of Norcia, known in Roman days 
as the mwrdGi'£ium of Nursia^ and familiar to 

^ Has this name any connection with tbat of the Etruscan 
goddess Norsia, so well known by Macaulay's lines — 

'And hang rottnd N'orsia's altars 
The golden shields of Borne ' ? 

VOL. IV. H h 

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466 Saint Benedict. 

BOOKV. diligent students of the Aeneid as 'frigida Nur- 
L sia/ A little stranded city, apparently, in its 

sequestered Apennine valley: its nearest point 
of contact with the world of politics and of war 
would be Spoleto, about twenty miles to the west 
of it on the great Flaminian Way, and Spoleto 

cir. 480. was eighty miles from Bome. Here then in 'frigid 
Nursia/ about four years after Odovacar made 
himself supreme in Italy, was bom to a noble 
Boman a son who received the prophetic name 

Sent to of Benedict, ' the blessed one/ He was sent as a 


boy to Bome to pursue his studies, and when there 
he probably saw the statues of Odovacar over- 
thrown and the Forum placarded with the pro- 
clamations of the new ruler of Italy, Theodoric. 
But the young Nursian was thinking, not of the 
rise and fall of empires, but of the salvation of 
his own soul. He was horrified by what he saw 
of the wickedness of the great city ; he feared that 
if he became imbued with what there passed for 
wisdom he too should one day rush headlong into all 
its vices: he elected rather to be poor and ignorant, 
and decided on quitting Bome and assuming the 
Retires to orarb of a mouk. He set out for * the desert,' that 

the valley ? 

of the is, for the wild, thinly-peopled country, by the 
upper waters of the Anio, and (pathetic evidence 
of the still tender years of the fervid anchorite) 
the faithful nurse who had come with him to 
Bome insisted on following him to his retirement. 

At Efide. Before they reached the actual mountain solitudes 
they came to the little town of Efide (the modem 

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He leaves Rome. 467 

village of Afl&le), and there finding many devout book v. 
men who listened with sympathy to his sorrows °' 

and aspirations, he yielded to their advice and 
consented to take up his abode near them, in 
some chamber attached to the church of St. 
Peter ^ While he was dwelling here the first First 
exhibition of his miraculous powers made him 
famous through all the surrounding district and 
drove him into yet deeper solitude. His faithful 
nurse had borrowed from some neighbours a sieve 
to sift some corn with, and this sieve, made not of 
wood but earthenware 2, had been carelessly left .on 
the table, by a fall from which it was broken in 
two. The nurse wept over the broken implement, 
and the youthful saint, taking the fragments from 
her hand and retiring for prayer, found when he 
rose from his knees the sieve so restored that no 
trace of the fracture could be discerned. So great 
was the admiration of the inhabitants at this 
marvel that they hung up the miraculous sieve 
at the entrance of the church, and there it re- 
mained for many years, till it perished, like many 
more precious treasures, in the waves of the Lom- 
bard invasion ^. 

^ ' Multisque honestioribns viris caritate se illic detinentibne, 
in beati Petri ecclesia demorarentur.' I presume that this 
means, as is stated above, some chamber under the same roof as 
the church. 

' A sieve made of earthenware seems to us a very unhandy 
implement: but there seems to be no choice but thus to 
describe a ' capisterium ' which could be also spoken of as a 
* vas fractum.' 

' I have said that I do not propose to rationalise about these 

H h 2 

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468 Saint Benedict. 

BOOEY. The fame of this miracle brought to Benedict 
"' more visitors and more of the praise of this world 
S^^to *^^"^ ^^ could bear. His mind reverted to its 
subiaco. original design, he determined to be absolutely 
unknown^ and flying secretly from his nurse, he 
crossed the little ridge of hills which separates 
Affile from Subiaco and frx^m the deep wild gorge of 
the Anio. Subiaco \ the Sublacus or Sublaqueum of 
the Bomans, derives its name from the lakes which 
had been formed there by Nero, whose stately 
villa waa mirrored in those artificial waters. We 
have already had occasion to notice it in connection 
with the stoiy of the Boman aqueducts. It was 
about three miles above the place where the turbid 
waters of the Anio Novus were diverted from the 
river-bed into the aqueduct which bore that name, 
and some twelve miles above the more serene and 
purer fountains of the Claudia and the Marcia. 
Situated about forty-four miles from Borne, in a 
precipitous and thickly-wooded valley, SuUaqueum 
was the sort of place which an artistic Emperor 
like Nero, who tried to make a solitude even round 
his golden house in Bome, might naturally resort 
to in the First Century, even as Popes made it the 
scene of their villeggiatura in later centuries, and 
even as artists from all countries now throng to it 

miracles: but it seems to me quite possible that here the 
preservation in the church porch of so humble a memorial of 
a great saint's residence at Efide has itself,- without bad £uth 
anywhere, given rise to the story of the miracle. 

^ As Subiaco was only 5} miles from Affile, it is difficult to 
understand why St. Benedict waa not followed by his fiienda. 

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He receives the monastic hoMt. 469 

to transfer to their canvas the pipturesque outlines book v. 
of its rocks, its woods, and its castlea But during ^^' ^^' 
the convulsions of the Fifth Century, when wealthy 
pleasure-lovers were few, it might easily sink into 
solitude and decay : and hence no doubt it was 
that when Benedict, somewhere about the year 
495, sought its recesses, a few rough peasants and 
some scattered anchorites formed its whole popu- 
lation, and his retirement thither could be spoken 
of by his biographer as a retreat into the desert. 

Here he was met by a monk named Bomanus, Receives 
who, hearing of his desires after a solitary life, tic haWt 
bestowed upon him the monastic habit and led him manuB. 
to a narrow cave at the foot of a hill, where the 
delicately nurtured youth spent the next three i>wo11b for 

, , three years 

years, hidden from the eyes of all men, and with in a cave. 
the place of his retreat known only to the faithful 
Bomanua This only friend dwelt in a monastery 
not fiir off^ on the table-land overlooking the 
river. With pious theft he abstracted a small 
portion from each monastic meal, and on stated 
days hastened with his store to the brow of the 
hill. As no path led down to the cave of the 
recluse, the basket of provisions was tied to the 
end of a long rope, to which a bell was also 
attached, and thus the slowly-lowered vessel by 
its tinkling sound called the Saint from prayer 
to food. ' But one day the Ancient Enemy [the 

' 'Under the role of Theodahad' or 'Adeodatus,' say the 
yarpng M8S. of Gregory : but neither rule seems to be known 
to ecclesiastical commentators. 

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470 Saint Benedict 

ooK V. Devil], envying the charity of one brother and the 
refreshment of the other, when he saw the rope 

lowered, threw a stone and broke the beU. Ko- 
manus, however, still continued to minister to him 
at the stated hours/ 
Hie wants After a time, from some unexplained cause, the 
byadis- ministratious of Eomanus ceased ^ and the Saint, 
byter, inscnsiblc to the wants of the body, might easily 
have perished of hunger. But a certain Presbyter 
living a long way from Subiaco, having prepared 
for himself a hearty meal for the next day, the 
festival of Easter, saw the Lord in a night vision 
and heard him say, * While thou art preparing 
for thyself these delicacies, a servant of mine in a 
cavern near Sublaqueum is tortured with hunger.' 
The Presbyter rose at once and set off on that Easter 
morning with the provisions in his hand. Up 
hill and down dale he went, till at last, scrambling 
down the face of the precipice, he found the cave 
where dwelt the holy man. After they had prayed 
and talked together for some time the Presbyter 
said to the Hermit, ' Bise and let us eat: to-day is 
Easter-day.* Benedict, who in his solitude and 
his perpetual fastings had long lost count of Lent 
and Easter-tide, said, * An Easter-day to me truly, 
since I have been allowed to look upon thy face.' 
The other answered, 'In very truth this is the 

^ St. Gregory's words might suggest the idea that Romanns 
died at this time : ' Cum yero jam omnipotens Deus et Bomanum 
vellet a labore quiescere, et Benedicti yitam in ezemplum 
hominibus demonstrare.' But in the Life of St. Maurus bj 
FaustuS; Bomanus is represented as outliving Benedict. 

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At Subiaco. 471 

Easter-day, the day of the Besurrection of the book v. 

Lord, upon which it becomes thee not to keep \ 1 

fast. Eat then, for therefore am I sent, that we 
may share together the gifts of the Lord Almighty/ 
So they ate and drank together, and after long 
converse the Presbyter departed. 

It was soon after this that some shepherds of y^®"^«P- 

^ nerda bring 

the neighbourhood discovered the cave, and found ^^i™ food, 
what they at first supposed to be a wild beast 
coiled up among the bushes. When they found 
that a man, and a holy man, was enveloped in 
that garment of skins, they listened eagerly to 
his preaching : and firom this time forward he was 
never left in want of food, one or other of the 
shepherds bringing him such victuals as he needed, 
and receiving in return, from his lips, the message 
of eternal life. 

After the unnatural calm and utter absorption The temp- 
in the contemplation of heavenly things which 
had marked the Saint's first sojourn in the cave, 
there came a storm of terrible temptation. In 
those years of abstraction the dreamy child had 
grown into a man, with the hot blood of Italy 
in his veins; and his imprisoned and buffeted 
manhood struggled hard for victory. Soft bird- 
like voices sounded in his ears, the form of a 
beautiful woman rose before his eyes, everything 
conspired to tempt him back firom that dreary 
solitude into the sweet world which he had quitted 
before he knew of its delights. He had all but 
yielded to the temptation, he had all but turned 

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472 Saint Benedict. 

BOOKY. his back upon the desert, when a sudden thrill 

_^lLl of emotion recalled him to his old resolve. Bent 

on punishing the rebellious body which had so 

nearly conquered the soul, he plunged naked into 

a dense thicket of thorns and nettles, and rolled 

himself in them till all his skin was torn and 

smarting. The pain of the body relieved the 

anguish of the soul, and, according to the lovely 

poetical fancy of after ages, when seven centuries 

later his great imitator St. Francis visited the 

spot, the thorns which had been the instrument 

of St. Benedict's penance were miraculously turned 

to roses ^ 

Benedict's From a hint which the Saint himself has given 

judgment US, we may infer that his own mature judgment 

concerning « ji.* \ • % •!•/»• in 

hiByoath- Condemned his early impetuosity m facing while 
teritiM. yet a boy the hardships and temptations of an 
anchorite's life in the wilderness. He says in the 
first chapter of his Rule, 'Hermits are' [by 
which he evidently means ' should be'] * men who 
are not in the first fervour of their noviciate, 
but who having first learned by a long course 
of monastic discipline and by the assistance of 
many brethren how to fight against iiie Devil, 
afterwards step forth alono firom the ranks of their 
brethren to engage him in single combat, God 
himself being their aid against the sins of the 
flesh and thoughts of evil *.' 

^ The descendants of which roses are still to be seen in the 
convent garden. 

' This metaphor (^ warriors fighting single-handed in front 

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Abbot of Vicovaro. 473 

The fame of the young Saint was now spread book y. 
abroad throughout the valley, and the inmates °*^^' 

of the convent of Varia^ (now Vicovaro), ^bout^Jj|^^^ 
twenty miles lower down the stream, having lost <^« «>»- 
their abbot by death, besought Benedict to come ^•"»- 
and preside over them. Long he refused, feeling 
sure that his ways of thinking and acting would 
never agree with theirs. For these monks evi- 
dently belonged to that class which he in after 
days^ described as *the evil brood of the Sara- 
baitae/ This name, of Egyptian origin, denoted 
those who had turned back* from the rigour of 
their monastic profession while stiU wearing the 
monastic garb. 'Their law,' as he said, 'is the 
gratification of their own desires. Whatever they 
take a fancy to they call holy: the unlawfiil is 
that to which they feel no temptation*/ 

These men, in a temporary fit of penitence and The monks 
desire after better things, chose Benedict for their Against his 
Abbot, and he at length yielded to their will. 
But soon the passion for reform died away. They 
found it intolerable to be reprimanded at each 
little deviation to the right hand or to the left 

of an army is well iUuetrated by the stories in Procopios of 
similar combats between Gothic and Roman champions. 

^ Gregory does not mention the name of the convent, bat 
tradition identifies it with Yaria. 

* Begula, cap. i. 

' ' Sarabaitae id est renoitae qui jngom regnlaris disciplinae 
renuont ;' Odo of Clugny, quoted in tiie Notes to the Regola, 
p. 254 (ed. Migne). 

^ The same sentiment is expressed in two well-known lines 
of Hudibras. 

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474 Saint Benedict 

BOOK V. from the path of ascetic virtue. . Angry words 
"' were bandied about in whispers, as each accused 
the other of having counselled the mad design 
of making this austere recluse from the wilder- 
ness their Abbot. At length their discontent 
reached such a height that they resolved on 
They at- poisouing him. When the cup containing the 
poison deadly draught was offered to the reclining 
Abbot ^ he, according to monastic usage, made the 
sign of the cross in act of benediction. The 
moment that the holy sign was made, as if a 
stone had fallen from his hands, the cup was 
shivered to pieces and the wine was spilt on the 
ground. Perceiving at once the meaning of the 
miracle, Benedict arose and addressed the pallid 
monks with serene countenance: * Almighty God 
pity you, my brethren. Why have ye designed 
this wickedness against mel Said I not unto 
you that my ways and yours could never agree ? 
He returns Go and scck an Abbot after your own heart, for 
derneas. me yc shall scc here no more/ And with that 

he arose and returned to the wilderness. 

He founds But Benedict's fame was now so far spread 

teries at abroad that it was impossible for him any longer 

to lead the life of an absolutely solitary recluse. 

501-520. During the first twenty years of the sixth centxuy, 

men anxious to commence the monastic career 

under his training were flocking to him from all 

parts of Italy. So numerous were these that he 

established no fewer than twelve monasteries in 

^ ' Becumbenti Patri :' probably reclining for his edesta. 

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Maurus and Placidus. 475 

the neighbourhood of Subiaco ; to each of which book v. 

i«i •!/• i_* Ch, 16. 

he assigned a supenor, chosen irom among his 

intimate friends. While probably exercising a 
general superintendence over all these religious 
houses, he himself dwelt with a few of his friends 
in a small house reared above his cave, the pre- 
decessor of the present Convento del Sacro Speoo 
at Subiaco ^ 

Now too the nobles of Rome began to bring st. Maurus 
him their sons for education, and for dedication PiaciduB. 
if they should still after needful probation desire 
it, to the untroubled life of a coenobite. The 
most celebrated among these noble novices were 
Maurus and Placidus, sons of Aequitius and the 
Patrician Tertullus. They came about the year 5^3- 
523, Placidus a mere child, Maurus a bright, 
earnest lad, already able to enter into some of 
the thoughts of his revered master and to be 
the instrument of his rule over the brethren. In 
the splendid series of frescoes by Signorelli and 
Sodoma which line the cloisters of the great 
Benedictine monastery of Monte Oliveto^ none is 
more interesting than that which depicts the 
arrival of young Maurus and Placidus, brought 
by their fathers, richly dressed and with a long 
train of horses and servants and all the state of a 
Roman noble as imagined by a mediaeval painter. 

' I have ventured here to give a slight conjectural expansion 
to the words of Gregory, which do not very clearly indicate 
where Benedict and his intimate friends dwelt. 

' About fifteen miles S. E. of Siena. 

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476 Saint BenedicU 

BOOKV. Almost pathetic are the immediately following 
^"' ^^' pictures, in which the little heads are already 
marked with the tonsure and the youthfiil faces 
already wear an aspect of too reposeful, imboyish 
holiness ^ 
Mirtdeof One of the most noteworthy and perplexing 
ofPiad- miracles of the Saint is connected with these, 
his young disciples. One day the little Placidus 
having gone to draw water from the neighbouring 
lake, stooping too far forward fell in and was 
swept by the swift current far from the shore. 
Benedict, who was praying in hk cell, suddenly 
called out, ' Brother Maurus ! run ! That child has 
fallen into the water and is being carried away by 
the stream.' Maurus asked and received a hurried 
blessing, hastened to the margin of the lake, ran 
over its surface with rapid course, not perceiving 
that he trod on water, pulled his companion up 
by the hair, and hastily returned. When he had 
reached the shore he looked back over the lake 
and then saw for the first time, with trembling, 
what he had done. He returned and related the 
event to Benedict. * It is a miracle,' said he, 
'granted to thee as a reward of thy prompt 
obedience.' 'Not so,' said the youth, 'it is a 
miracle wrought by thy prayers.' The friendly 

^ The name of Maurus — who was the great missionary of 
Benedictinism in France — is borne by the great ducal house 
of Seymour (= St. Maur), while Benedict is of course repre- 
sented by the Bennet (Lord Arlington) of the Cabal ministry 
of Charles II and the numerous Bennets and Bennetts of Eng- 
land and America. 

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Machinations of Florentius. 477 

controversy was settled by the testimony of the book v. 
rescued Placidus, who declared that when he was ^' 

being drawn out of the water he saw the hood 
of Benedict waving above him^ and felt that it was 
by Benedict's arm that he was delivered. 

The rivalry between the monks and the parish Machina- 


priests, between the regular and the secular clergy, priest 
as they were afterwards called, which was to re- 
appear in so many forms in after ages, already 
began to show itself. Florentius, the priest of 
a neighbouring church ^ filled with jealousy at the 
increasing fame and influence of the Saint, en- 
deavoured by slander and misrepresentation to 
draw away his disciples from following him. As 
years went on and still the fame hi Benedict in- 
creased, while Florentius remained obscure, the 
character of the priest underwent an evil change, 
and from slanderous words he proceeded to mur- 
derous deeds. He sent, according to a not un- 
common custom, a piece of bread to Benedict as a 
token of brotherhood *. The morsel was, however, 
a poisoned one, or at least the Saint believed it to 
be so, though, as he commanded a crow which was 
accustomed to feed out of his hand to bear it 
away into a desert place and there deposit it 

^ ' Grandfather of this Florentiag, who is our sub-deacon,' 
says Gregory, in one of those little touches which give vivid- 
ness and an impression of truthfulness to his narrative. 

' ' Quasi pro benedictione.' Benediotia has a tedinical mean- 
ing which I have tried to render above. In cap. zzxi, where 
the Goth Zalla is brought into the monastery <ut benedic- 
tionem acciperet,' the Greek version has ^«s /icraXo/Si/ rpo^^c. 

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478 Saint Benedict 

BOOK V. where it could be found of no man, it is difficult 
^^' ^^' to see what evidence existed of the wicked designs 
of Florentius. The next step taken by the priest, 
who sent seven women of evil life to the monks' 
cells, was so outrageous and threatened such ruin 
to the community if this was to be the permitted 
manner of warfare, that Benedict resolved to with- 
draw fipom the conflict, and, leaving his twelve 
monasteries imder the rule of their respective 
heads, sought a new home for himself and his 
chosen friends fifty miles to the southward, in 
Benedict the countrics watered by the Liris. We may 
to leave fairly conjecture that the enmity of Florentius 
ciica528. was not the sole cause that urged him to this 
migration. Hfs was one of those characters which 
require solitude, leisure, liberty, in order to at- 
tain their true development. At Subiaco he 
found himself no longer a recluse, but the centre 
of a great system of administration, his name a 
battle-cry, himself the leader of a party. Leaving 
those to strive and conquer who would, he bowed 
his head to the storm and again sought the free- 
Death of dom of the desert. Scarcely, however, had he 

Florentius. i i • i 

started on his southward journey when a mes- 
senger from the faithful Maurus reached him with 
the tidings of the death of his enemy. The 
balcony on which Florentius was standing, to 
watch and to gloat over the departure of his foe, 
had given way, and the wicked priest had been 
killed by his fall. Benedict burst into loud 
lamentations over his death, inflicted penance on 

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Monte Cassino. 479 

the messenger, who seemed to exult in the Booitv. 
tidings which he bore, and continued his journey _^;^ 
towards the Campanian lands. Evidently the 
enmity of Florentius, though it might be one 
cause, was not the sole cause of the great migra- 

The new home of the Father of Monks was Monte 
erected upon a promontory of high table-land, 
just upon the confines of Latium and Campania, 
which then overlooked the Via Latina, as it now 
overlooks the modem railway between Bome and 
Naples, from a point a little nearer to the latter 
city than to the former. Here, * roimd the Cita- 
del of Campania,' grew the shady groves in which, 
two hundred years after Constantine, a rustic 
multitude, still, after the manner of their fore- 
fathers, offered their pagan sacrifices to the statue 
of ApoUo. At the command of Benedict the 
statue was ground to powder, the woods were 
cut down, and where the altar of the Far-darting 
god had stood, there rose, amid much opposition 
from unseen and hellish foes, two chapels to St. 
Martin and St. John, and, hard by, the new 
dwelling of the Coenobites. It was a memorable 
event in the history of the valley of the Liris, 
which turned the obscure Castrum Casinum into 
the world-renowned, the thought-moulding, the 
venerated monastery of Monte Cassino ^ 

* Here is St. Gregory's own description of the place which 
was so dear to him : ' Castrum namque quod Casinum dicitur 
in excelsi montis latere situm est, qui videlicet mons distenso 

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480 Saint Benedict. 

BOOKV. The migration from the Anio to the Liris oo- 

^•^^' curred about 528, and fifteen years were passed 

ijfeat ]jy tjj3 Saint in his new ' citadel'- home. The 

Monte J 

CMBino, record of these years, as of those passed at 

Subiaco, is chiefly a record of miracles. Some of 

the chief characteristics of this miraculous history 

may be here briefly touched upon. 

MindeBof Lcdfit interesting to us, because most obviously 

dik artificial in their character, are those wonders 

]5J^^ recorded of the Saint in which there is an obvious 

*Se He- desire to emulate the miraculous deeds of Elijah 

w pro- and Elisha, When Benedict goes forth into the 

fields with his disciples to work, and by his 

prayers restores the dead son of a peasant to 

life ^ ; when he heals a leper ^ ; when a miraculous 

supply of oil bubbles up in the cask and runs over 

on the convent floor ^; when he provides the 

monks of Subiaco with an easily-accessible spring 

of sweet water*, we feel that^ whether to the 

Saint himself or to his biographers, the idea of 

these supernatural occurrences was suggested by 

what they had read in the Books of Eings. 

Conteats Childish as some of them may seem to us, there 

with the , . , -^ ' , 

EyU One. is a greater psychological interest in those stories 

sinu hoc idem Castram recipit, Bed per iria imllia. in altum se 
subrigenSy velut ad aera cacumen tendit: nbi vetustissimum 
fannm fiiit, in quo ex antiqaomm more gentilium, a fitalto 
roBticorum popnlo, Apollo colebator.' 

^ Cap. zxxii. Comp. i Kings zvii and 2 Kings iy. 

' Cap. xxvi. Comp. 2 Einga v. 

' Cap. zxix. Comp. i Kings xyii and 2 King^ iy. 

^ Cap. y. Comp. 2 Einga ii. 19-22. 

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Antiquus HosHs. 481 

which describe the Saint as struggling for victory book v. 

against the wiles and stratagems of the Devil. The ^ L 

Power of Evil is almost uniformly spoken of by 
Gregory as * the Ancient Enemy' (antiquus hostis), 
and the minute acquaintance which is shown with 
his works and ways, the comparative ease with 
which his plots are foiled and himself brought to 
confusion, remind us rather of the way in which 
a hostile politician is spoken of by the admirers 
of his rival than of the dark and trembling hints 
dropped in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures 
concerning t^e mysterious Being who for ever 
sets his will against the will of the Most High. 
When the monastery was being built at Cassino 
hard by the old idolatrous grove, the 'antiquus 
hostis' continually appeared to the fathers in their 
dreams ; he filled the air with his lamentations ; 
he once stood in bodily presence before the Saint, 
with flaming eyes, calling * Benedict 1 Benedict T 
and when he refused to answer, cried out 'Male- 
diet! not Benedict 1 what hast thou to do with 
me 1 Why wilt thou thus persecute me ?' A stone 
which the builders wished to raise to its place in 
the new building was made immovable to all their 
eflforts by reason of the Ancient Enemy sitting 
upon it, till Benedict by his prayers caused him to 
depart. The kitchen of the monastery appeared to 
the brethren to be on fire, and the work of build- 
ing was interrupted by their causeless panic, till 
again by the prayers of the Saint their eyes were 
opened, and they saw that the imagined fire was 

VOL. IV. I i 

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482 Saint Benedict. 

BOOK V. no fire at all, but only a figment of the Ancient 
^_L Enemy. At one time the Enemy appeared in the 
strange guise of a veterinary surgeon ^, and, visits 
ing one of the monks who was drawing water, 
afficted him with some strange disorder of a 
hysterical kind, which was cured by a sharp buffet 
from the hand of Benedict. At another time a 
monk was afflicted with an unaccountable love of 
roving, which always led him to go forth from the 
monastery just when the brethren were engaged 
in prayer. Admonitions from his own abbot (for 
he was not under the immediate supervision of 
Benedict) were in vain. The Saint, being sent 
^ for to heal him, clearly perceived a little black boy 

tugging at the fringe of the monk's habit, and 
thus coaxing liim to leave the chapel. The Saint 
saw it, and on the following day his friend Maurus 
also saw it ; but to the eyes of Pompeianus, abbot 
of the monastery, the black imp remained in- 
visible. Sharp strokes of the rod corrected the 
wandering spirit of the monk, who thencefor- 
ward sat quietly in the chapel to the end of 
the service. 
The We are here, manifestly, in presence of the 

Satan. Mediaeval figure of the Devil. This is the being 
who, according to the belief of the Middle Ages, 
furnished the design for the Bridge of St. Gotthard 
Tind for the Cathedral of Cologne ; the being who 
is always on the point of outwitting, but is gene- 

^ 'Ei antiquus hoQtis in Mulo-medici specie obyiam factus 
est, coma et tripedicam ferens ' (cap. acxz). 

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The Mediaval Devil. 483 

rally in the end outwitted by, the sons of men ; the book v. 
being at whom Luther, monk in heart if reformer in ^"' ^^' 
brain, threw his inkstand when he sat in the little 
chamber at the Wartburg. Are we not justified 
in saying that this conception of the character of 
man's unseen Foe has more than an accidental 
connection with the monastic system with whose 
birth it is contemporaneous ? Assuredly those 
protracted fasts, those long and lonely vigils of 
anchorite and coenobite, had something to do with 
bringing the Devil of the Middle Ages into the 
field of human imaginings. 

Some of the histories recounted of the Saint Soci&i con- 
bring vividly before us the social conditions of thJtime. 
the age in which he lived, conditions of which 
probably no one had a wider or more accurate 
knowledge than the Superior of a great Monastery. 
Into that safe fold came men from all ranks and 
all stations in life, the lofty and the lowly, some 
seeking shelter, some solace, some rest from the 
hopeless distractions of a turbulent age ; and the 
spiritual father was bound to listen to the tale 
of each, to sympathise with the sorrows of all. 
St. Benedict himself in his rule^, while insisting 
on the duty of the abbot's avoiding all respect 
of persons, hints at the diflSculty of its fulfilment. 
' Let good deeds and obedience be the only means 
of obtaining the abbot's favour. Let not the 
free-born man be preferred to him who was a 
slave before he entered the convent, unless there 
^ Cap. ii : ' Quails debeat esse Abbas.' 
I i 2 

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484 Saint Benedict. 

BooKv. be some other reason for the preference ^' Dis- 

°' tinguished merit may lead to promotion ont of 

the order of seniority, * but if otherwise, let each 

keep his proper place [in that order], since, 

whether slaves or.ficee, we are all one in Christ, 

and, under the same Lord, wear all of us the same 

badge of service/ 

Blending j^ St Benedict's case, Goth * and Roman, peasant 

aiiiiesand and uoblc, the SOU of the tax-ridden Curialis^ 

ranks in 

the monM- and the son of the lordly Defensor \ were all 
The noble subject to his oqual sway. Near to his mo- 
^' nastery, and in some measure subject to his 
oversight, dwelt two noble ladies who had vowed 
themselves to a life of holiness ^ A monk, of 
lower social condition, who performed menial 
offices for these ladies, was often vexed by the 
sharp words which they used towards him, mind- 

' * Non ab eo persona in monasterio discematnr. . . . Non 
praeponatnr ingenuus ex servitio convertenti, nisi alia rationa- 
bilis causa existat.' 

' Cap. yi : ' Qothus qaidam pauper spiritu ad conrersionem 
yenit.' This Goth, when cutting down some briars near the 
edge of the lake, let the iron of his reaping-hook fall into the 
water. The Saint sent the handle after the hook and the iron 
rose from the depths of the lake to join the wood. The Goth 
received his sickle again and was comforted. 

' It was ^ cujusdam curialis filius ' who was iigored by the 
fall of a wall, overturned by the Ancient Enemy, when the 
convent of Cassino was building, and who, being laid on 
the mat on which the Saint was wont to pray, was healed by 
his intercessions; cap. xi. 

* For the condition of the Curialis see vol. ii. 597-617; for 
Defensor f vol. ii. 428-9. 

* ' Sanctimoniales foeminae' is the term usually employed 
by Gregory for nuns. 

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Social inequalities in the Monastery. 485 
ful rather of the past difference in their positions, bookvj 

• Cm 16 

than of their present equality in Christ. On ; L 

hearing the good man s complaints St. Benedict 
visited the ladies, and told them that if they did 
not keep their tongues in better subjection he 
should be compelled to excommunicate them. 
Peevish and froward, however, and probably suf- 
fering in health by reason of the change from a 
palace to a cell, the noble ladies abated none of 
their scolding words. In no long time they bo(th 
died, and were buried within the precincts of the 
church. There was a strange sight seen by their 
nurse, when she attended, according to custom, 
to bring an oblation for her dead mistresses, at 
the solemnisation of the mass. When the Deacon 
called out *Let all who do not communicate depart,' 
two dim figures were seen to rise out of the floor 
and steal away from the sacred building. Seeing 
this happen more than once, and remembering the 
threatened excommunication of the Saint, which 
evidently had power beyond the limits of this life, 
the faithful nurse sought the cell of Benedict and 
told him the marvellous tale. He gave her an 
oblation from his own hand to offer on their 
behalf, in proof that he no longer excommunicated 
them. The oblation was duly made, and thereafter 
the souls of the harassed haraesers had peace ^ 

Once, at evening, the venerable Father was sit- The ton 
ting at table, partaking of the bread and cooked Defensor, 
vegetables which formed his frugal repast. Oppo- 
* Cap. xxiii. 

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486 Saini Benedict. 

BooKV. site him, according to the rule of the monastery, 
.^!li!l stood a young monk, holding the lamp and ready 
to do the Abbot's bidding. It chanced that he who 
upon this evening performed this lowly duty was 
a young noble, son of one of the Imperial Defen- 
sors, whose father therefore was one of the most 
important personages in the state. Suddenly the 
thought flashed through his mind, *Who is this 
man who sits here eating his evening meal, upon 
whom I am waiting like a slave, holding the lamp, 
handing him the dishes ? And what am I, I the 
Defensor's son, that I should condescend to such 
drudgery?' Not a word did the young noble 
utter, but .the Saint, who read his proud thought?, 
said suddenly, with voice of stem rebuke, * Seal 
up thy heart, my brother. What is that which 
thou art saying ? Seal up thy heart.' He called 
in the other brethren, bade the young man hand 
the lamp to them and retire for an hour of silent 
meditation. The monks afterwards asked the 
culprit what he had done to awaken such wrath 
in the Saint's mind. He told them, not what 
he had done, but what he had thought ; and liiey 
all recognised that nothing could escape the 
venerable Benedict, in whose ear men's thoughts 
sounded like spoken words \ 
Benedict's Whatsoever among the miracles attributed to 
S^!di^g the the founder of Cassino we may feel bound to 
of othere. reject, we can hardly refuse to him an extra- 
ordinary, perhaps a supernatural power of reading 
* Cap. XX. 

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Benedict's power of reading the heart. 487 

the human heart. The story just told is one of book v. 
the most striking instances of this power. Other 

cases are recorded, as when he rebuked some 
monks who, contrary to the rule, had partaken 
of refreshment in a religious woman's house, 
outside of the monastery ^, — when he reminded 
another monk of an oflTence which he had him- 
self forgotten, the acceptance of some handker- 
chiefs from the inmates of a nunnery to whom 
he had been sent to preachy — or when he detected 
the dishonesty of a young monk who, when en- 
trusted with two bottles of wine for the use of 
the monastery, had delivered one only^ 

This power of penetrating the secret thoughts interview 
of those who came into his presence was remark- Totiia. 
ably exemplified in St. Benedict's interview with 
Totila ; an interview which took place, probably, 
in the year 542, when the Gothic King was on 
his march to the siege of Naples. Pope Gregory, 
as the champion of orthodoxy and of the Eoman 
nationality, naturally represents the Arian and 
barbarian King somewhat lees favourably thq^n 
he deserves. Still, even in the Papal narrative 
(which it will be well to give in a literal tians- 

* Cap. xii (and cap. xiii). * Cap. xix. 

■ Cap. xviii. In this case the Saint received one bottle with 
thanks, and said to the departing messenger : ^ Take care, my 
son, that thou dost not drink of that other bottle which thou 
hast hidden, but incline it carefully and see what is therein.* 
The youth, when he had left St. Benedict's presence, uncorked 
the bottle, held it up gently, and behold I a serpent crept out 
of it. 

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488 Saint Benedict. 

BOOKV. lation), something of the nobleness of Totila's 
-J!l__l character may be discerned. 

• Chapter xiv. How the feigning of King Totila 
was discovered. 

• In the times of the Goths, Totila their King 
having heard that the holy man possessed the 
spirit of prophecy, and being on his way to 
the monastery halted at some distance and sent 

' word that he would come to him. Having sent 
this message, as he was a man of unbelieving 
mind, he determined to try whether the man of 
God really possessed the prophetic spirit. There 
was a certain sword-bearer of his, named Eiggo, 
to whom he lent his [purple] buskins and ordered 
him to put on the royal robes and to go, per- 
sonating him, to the man of God. To aid the 
deception* he also sent three counts, who before 
all others were wont to attend upon his person, 
namely Vuld [or Vultheric], Kuderic, and Blidi. 
These were to keep close by the side of Riggo, 
to whom he assigned other guards and other 
marks of honour, with the intention that by these 
and by the purple raiment he might be taken for 
the King. When this same Eiggo, thus arrayed 
and thus accompanied, had entered the monastery, 
the man of God was sitting afar oflf. But seeing 
him coming, as soon as his voice could be heard 
he cried out, saying, " Put oflF, my son, put off that 
which thou wearest ; it is not thine." Thereat 
Eiggo fell straightway to the earth, struck 
with terror because he had presumed to mock 

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Interview with Totila. 489 

80 great a man ; and all who had oome with book v. 
him to the man of God grovelled on the ground. °' 
Then arising, they did not dare to approach, but 
hurrying back to their King told him how speedily 
they had been detected/ 

* Chapter xv. Of the Prophecy which was made 
concerning the same King, 

* Then, in his own person, the same Totila ap- 
proached the man of God, but when he saw him 
sitting afar off he did not dare to come close, but 
cast himself upon the ground. Then, when the 
man of God had twice or thrice Baid to him • 
"Eise," but still he did not dare to raise himself 
from the earth, Benedict the servant of Jesus 
Christ condescended himself to approach the pros- 
trate King and cause him to arise. He rebuked 
him for his past deeds, and in few words told him 
all that should come to pass, saying, 

" Much evil hast thou done, 

Much evil ai*t thou doing. 
Now at length cease from sin. 

Thou shalt enter Borne: 

Thou shalt cross the sea. 
Nine years shalt thou reign, 
In the tenth shalt thou die." 

When he had heard these words, the King, 
vehemently terrified, asked for his prayers and 
withdrew; and from that time forward he was 
less cruel than aforetime. Not long afterwards 
he entered Rome, and crossed to Sicily. But in 
the tenth year of his reign, by the judgment of 
Almighty God, he lost his kingdom with his life. 

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490 Saint Benedict. 

BOOK V. ' Moreover, the priest of the church of Canusium 
°' was sent to visit the same servant of God, by 
whom, for his meritorious life, he was held in 
great affection. And once when they were talking 
together concerning the entry of King Totila and 
the destruction of the city of Rome, the priest 
said, " By this King that city will be destroyed so 
that it shall be no more inhabited." To whom 
the man of God made answer, " Eome shall not be 
exterminated by the barbarians^, but, wearied with 
tempests, lightnings, whirlwinds, and earthquakes, 
it shall consume away in itself ^" The mysteries 
of which prophecy are now made clearer than the 
daylight to us, who see in this city, walls shat- 
tered, houses thrown down, churches destroyed by 
the whirlwind, and the great edifices of the city 
loosened by long old age falling around us in 
abounding ruin.' So far Pope Gregory. 

These two scenes, the unmasking of the false 
King and the prediction of the future fortunes of 
the time one, are vividly pourtrayed, not only by 
Signorelli at Monte Oliveto, but also by Spinello 
Aretino on the walls of the large square sacristy 
at San Miniato. Especially well rendered is the 
dismay of the detected impostor. Riggo's knees 
are loosened with terror, and he turns sick with fear 
as he meets the stern mildness of Benedict's gaze 
and hears that voice of command, ' My son, put off, 
put off that which thou wearest, for it is not thine/ 

* * A gentibus non extermiuabitur.' 

• * Marcescet in semetipsa.' 

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Last visit to Sc/wlastica. 491 

Within . a year, probably, from the interview book v. 
with Totila, St. Benedict was dead^ The little f!ll!l 
that has got to be told about him is a histoiy ^*^' 
of farewells. First came the death of his sister 
Scholastica. She had been from infancy dedicated 
to the service of God, and had apparently inhabited 
a cell not far from his monastery, first at Subiaco Death of 
and then at Monte Cassino^. Once a year the tica, sister 
Saint used to come and visit his sister in her cell, diet. 
which, though of course outside the gates of the 
monastery, was within the limits of the modest 
monastic estate. When the time for the last 
yearly visit was come, Benedict with a little knot 
of his disciples went down to his sister's cell and 
spent the whole day in religious conversation and 
in singing with her the praises of the Most High. 
The evening was come ; they were seated at 
supper; it was time for Benedict to depart, but 
still the stream of conversation, which perhaps 
deviated sometimes from the near joys of heaven 
to the far distant past of their common infancy in 
upland Nursia, seemed unexhausted. Scholastica 
pressed her brother to stay that they might on the 
morrow resume their celestial converse. * What 

^ There is a long controyersy as to the year of the Saint's 
death, into which it is not necessary here to enter. Possibly he 
may have lived for some years after 543. 

" The conrent now called after St. Scholastica at Snbiaco is 
near the site of Nero's Villa and about a mile from the Con* 
veTito del Sacra Speco. Her abode in Campania is said to 
have been the convent of Plumbariola, about a mile and a half 
distant from Monte Cassino. 

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492 Saint Benedict. 

BOOK V. dost thou ask me, my sister 1 ' said he ; 'I can by 

° no means pass the night outside of my cell/ At 

this time the evening sky was bright and clear, 

and not a cloud was visible. Scholastica clasped 

her hands tightly together and bowed her head in 

silent prayer. After a time she looked up again. 

The lightning was flashing, the thunder was 

pealing, and such torrents of rain were descending, 

that neither Benedict nor his companions could 

stir across the threshold of the cell. * Almighty 

God have pity on thee,' said Benedict. * What is 

this that thou hast done?' *My brother,' she 

answered, ' I asked thee and thou wouldest not 

hear. Then I asked my Lord, and he heard me. 

Now depart if thou canst : leave me alone and 

return to thy monastery.' Benedict recognised 

and bowed to the divine answer to prayer. He 

passed the night in his sister's cell, and they 

cheered one another with alternate speech upon 

the joys of the spiritual life. In the morning he 

departed to liis own cell, and three days after, 

when he was standing therein, lifting up his eyes 

he saw a white dove lising into the sky. Then he 

knew that his sister Scholastica was dead, and sent 

some of the brotherhood to bring her body and lay 

it in the prepared sepulchre, where it should wait 

a little season for his own^. 

^ That Schoiastica's death happened only a short time before 
her brother's is not expressly stated, but the whole course of 
the narrative implies it. Apparently the loth February is 
fixed for the former eVent, and 2i8t March for the latter by 
ecclesiastical writers. 

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Vision of the World. 493 

It was not long, apparently, after this event book v. 
that the Saint received a visit from his dear fiiend °'^^' 
Servandus, the head of a neighbouring monastery 3P** , 

' ^ o o J heayenly 

founded by Liberius the Patrician, probably the^"^''*- 
same with whom we have already made acquaint- GermMius 
ance as the faithful servant of Odovacar and Theo- ° *^°*' 
doric^ After spending the evening in that kind 
of conversation which was the highest mental 
enjoyment of these venerable men, they retired to 
rest, Benedict in the topmost chamber of a tall 
tower overlooking all the buildings and court- 
yards of the monastery, his guest in a lower story 
of the same tower, the disciples of both below. 
Benedict rose, while all others still slept, before 
the appointed hour of vigils (two o'clock in the 
morning). While he stood at his window and 
looked south-eastwards over the Campanian plain, 
suddenly the darkness of the night was scattered ; 
a radiance as of the sun filled the deep Italian 
sky, and under that strangely flashing light it 
seemed to him that the world was made visible as 
it was to Christ upon the Specular Mount, all 
illumined by one ray only from the sun^ While he 

* Bat possibly the later Liberius, who was sent by Theodahad 
as ambassador to Constantinople iQ 535, and who held an Im- 
perial command in the later years of the Gothic war. 

* 'Mira autem res valde in hac specnlatione secuta est: 
quia, sicut post ipse narravit, omnis etiam mundus velut sub 
uno solis radio collectus ante oculos ejus adductus est.' The 
' sub uno solis radio ' is much insisted upon by Gregory himself 
and by his commentators: but it does not seem to add great 
vividness to the picture. The words ' showed unto him all the 

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494 Saint Benedict. 

BOOK V. was still fixing his earnest gaze on that heavenly 
— ; L radiance, behold a sphere of fire, in which he saw 

the soul of his friend Germanus, Bishop of Capna, 
being borne by angels to heaven. Thrice with a 
loud voice he called on Servandus, sleeping below, 
to arise and see the marvel : but when Servandus 
stood beside his friend at the window, the fiery 
pphere had vanished, the vision of the world was 
ended, and only 

* The few last rays of that far-scattered light ' 

were yet discernible. St. Benedict sent a brother 
at once to Capua to enquire as to the welfare of 
the Bishop, and learned that on that same night, 
at the very moment of the heavenly vision, 
Germanus had given up the ghost 
Premoni- And uow did Benedict's discourse often turn 
end. upon his own approaching end, telling those about 
him under the seal of confidence when it should 
be, and sending word to his absent disciples by 
what signs they should be made certain of his 
decease. Six days before his death he ordered his 
grave to be dug. After this he was seized with 
a sharp attack of fever, which grew daily more 
Death of scvcre. On the sixth day he bade his disciples 
carry him into the oratory, fortified himself for 
death by receiving the body and blood of the 
Lord, and then, leaning his weak limbs upon the 
arms of his disciples, he stood with his hands 

kingdoms of the world in a moment of time/ impress the 
imagination more forcibly. 

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Death of Benedict. 495 

upraised to heaven, and thus passed away in the book v. 
act and attitude of prayer ^ ^°' ^^' 

That same day two of his disciples, one in his Vwioiw 
cell at Monte Cassino and another in a distant heavenly 
monastery, saw the same vision. To each it^ ^^^' 
seemed that a pathway strewn with bright robes » 
and gleaming with innumerable fires stretched 
eastwards from Benedict's cell and upwards into 
the depth of heaven ^ Above stood a man of 
venerable aspect and radiant countenance, who 
asked them if they knew what that pathway was 
which they beheld. They answered, * No ; ' and 
he replied, * This is the path by which Benedict, 
beloved of God, hath ascended up to heaven/ 

He was buried side by side with his sister in the Burai. 
place where he had overthrown the altar of Apollo, 

^ In this passage, as in all which deal with religious ideas, 
I have endeavoured to keep as close as possible to the words of 
the original: 'Exitum suum Dominici corporis et sanguinis 
perceptione munivit, atque inter discipulorum manus imbecillia 
membra sustentans erectis in caelum manibus stetit et ultimum 
spiritum inter verba orationis efflavit.' 

' 'Viderunt namque quia strata palliis, atque innumeris 
corusca lampadibus via, recto Orientis tramite, ab ejus cella in 
caelum usque tendebatur/ Compare the well-known verse in 
Tennyson's ' St. Agnes' Eve' : — 

*' He lifts me to the golden doors. 

The flashes come and go, 
All heaven bursts her starry floors. 

And strows her lights below; 
And deepens on and up! the gates 

Roll back, and &r within 
For me the Heavenly Bridegroom waits 

To make me pure of sin/ 

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496 Saint Benedict. 

BOOKV. and within the walls of the new oratory of St 
.^■•.^!l John. 

St. Bene- Ketuming now to the line of thought indicated 
the raion at the beginning of this chapter, if we ask why 
paaring ' has the £Eune of St. Benedict so entirely eclipsed 
that of all other Western monks, the answer is 
undoubtedly fiimished to us by the one literary 
product of his life, his Begula. This Bule, ex- 
tending only to seventy-three short chapters (many 
of them very short), and not probably designed by 
its author for use much beyond the boimds of the 
communities under his own immediate supervision, 
proved to be the thing which the world of religious 
and thoughtful men was then longing for, a com- 
plete code of monastic duty. Thus by a strange 
parallelism, almost in the very year when the great 
Emperor Justinian was codifying the results of 
seven centuries of Boman secular legislation for the 
benefit of the judges and the statesmen of the new 
Europe, St. Benedict on his lonely mountain-top was 
unconsciously composing his code for the regulation 
of the daily life of the great civilisers of Europe 
for seven centuries to come. The chief principles 
of that code were labour, obedience, and a regulated 
fervour of devotion to the Most High. The life 
prescribed therein, which seems to us so austere, 
so awfully remote from the common needs and the 
common pleasures of humanity, seemed to him, 
and was in reality, gentle and easy when com- 
pared with the anchorite's wild endeavours after 
an impossible holiness, endeavours which had often 

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The Rule of St. Benedict. 497 


culminated in absolute madness, or broken down book v. 
into mere worldliness and despair of all good. It ^^' ^^' 
is therefore in no spirit of affectation that Benedict 
in his Preface to the Eule uses these remarkable 
words : 'We must therefore establish a school of 
service to our Lord, in which institution we trust 
that nothing rough and nothing grievous will be 
found to have been ordained by us ^/ 

It is, however, the man himself rather than the 
vast system almost unconsciously founded by him 
that it has seemed necessary at this point to bring 
before the mind of the reader. St. Benedict died 
only ten years before the extreme limit of time 
reached by this volume. Later on, when we 
have to deal with the history of the Lombard 
domination in Italy, our attention will be attracted 
to the further fortunes of Monte Cassino, ruined, 
restored, endowed with vast wealth, all by the 
same Lombard conquerors. For the present we 
leave the followers of the Saint engaged in their 
holy and useful labours, praying, digging, tran- 
scribing *. * The wilderness and the solitary 
place shall be glad for them, and the desert 
shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.^ The 
«cWptormwi of the Benedictine monastery wiU 
multiply copies not only of missals and theo- 
logical treatises, but of the poems and histories 

^ ' Constitnenda est ergo a nobis dominici scliola Bervitii, in 
qua institntione nihil aspemm, niliilqae grave nos constitaros 

' The work of transcription began as soon as the influence of 
Cassiodorus had made itself felt. 

VOL. IV. K k 

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498 Saint BeneduL 

BOOKV. of axitiquity. Whatever may have been the 
^'^^' religious value or the religious dangers of the 
monastic life, the historian at least is bound 
to express his gratitude to these men, without 
whose life-long toil the great deeds and thoughts 
of Greece and Eome might have been as com- 
pletely lost to us as the wars of the buried 
Lake- dwellers or the thoughts of Palseolithic 
Man. To take an illustration from St. Bene- 
dict's own beloved Subiaco, the work of his 
disciples has been like one of the great aqueducts 
of the valley of the Anio, — sometimes carried 
underground for centtiries through the obscurity 
of unremembered existences, sometimes emerging 
to the daylight and borne high upon the arcade 
of noble lives, but equally through all its course 
bearing the precious stream of ancient thought 
from the far-off hills of time into the humming 
and crowded cities of modem civilisation. 

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Sources : — 

For the private life of Belisarius, the Anecdota or His- BOOK V. 
toria Arcana of Procopius, cap. iv (pp. 30-36). As before ^' ^^* 
said, this book, though almost certainly a genuine work of 
Procopius, must be used with caution on account of the 
tone of rancorous hostility to Antonina and Theodora and 
their husbands, which pervades the whole of it. 

For the plague at Constantinople (542), the De Bello 
Persico of the same author, ii. 22-23 (pp. 249-259). 

At the point where we left the narrative of the 
fight for the possession of Italy the struggle had 
been proceeding for nine years. We had reached 
the spring months of 544. Totila, in the two 
years and a-half of his kingship, had beaten the 
Imperial generals in two pitched battles by land, 
and in one engagement by sea had opened to him- 
self the Flaminian Way by the capture of Petra 
Pertusa, could march freely from one end of Italy 
to the other, had taken Naples and Benevento, 
and was threatening the southern port of Otranto. 
The Roman generals, without concert or courage 

K k 2 

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600 The Return of Belisarius. 

BOOK V. or care for their master's interests, were shut up in 

-!^ L Eome, in Eavenna, in Spoleto, and a few other still 

untaken strongholds, more intent on plundering 
the wretched Italians than on defending the Im- 
perial cause. 
Justinian At this poiut of the struggle the Emperor, with 
send back a hcavy heart, recognised the truth of what all his 
to Italy, subjects had doubtless for many months been 
saying, that the only hope of saving any part 
of his Italian conquests lay in employing the 
man who had first effected them. Belisarius, now 
no longer Master of the Soldiery, but only Count 
of the Sacred Stable, was to be relieved from 
the comparatively useless work of superintending 
the Imperial stud and sent to reconquer Italy. 
Theunhap. But the Bclisarius who came back to the penin- 
Beiisarius. sula in 544 to mcasure swords with Totila was a 
different man from the triumphant and popular 
hero who had sailed away from Bavenna in the 
spring of the year 540. First came the certainty 
of Antonina's unfaithfulness, the attempt to punish 
her, the sacrifice of his brave helper Photius, 
the unworthy and hollow show of reconciliation 
forced upon him by the imperious Theodora; a 
reconciliation which left husband and wife still 
strangers to one another, rival and hostile powers 
though dwelling in the same palace. These events, 
the bitter fruit of the year 541, had aheady aged 
54a. and saddened Belisarius. Then in the year 542 
he lost even the semblance of his master s favour, 
and became an utterly broken and ruined man. 

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The Plague of Constantinople. 601 

It was in that year that a pestilence, one of book v. 
the most terrible that have ever devastated the ^' 

East, visited Constantinople. It arose in Egypt, pjj^^'^^ 
and in its leisurely course sought out and^^^"*^" 
ravaged every comer of the Boman and Persian 
worlds, not sparing the new barbarian king- 
doms. For four months it hung heavily over 
Constantinople, the number of deaths rising at one 
time to five thousand daily. The markets were 
deserted, all ordinary crafts were abandoned, the 
cares of tending the patients in their terrible 
delirium and of burying the dead overtaxed the 
energies of their unstricken relatives. The work 
of burial had at length to be undertaken by the 
Emperor, who employed all the household troops 
for the purpose. Even so, it was impossible to dig 
graves fast enough to supply the terrible demand, 
and at length they were satisfied with stacking the 
corpses in a large and deserted fortress, which was 
roughly roofed over when it would hold no more. 
A sickening odour filled all Constantinople when 
the wind happened to set towards the city from 
this horrible charnel-house. 

Justinian himself was one of those who were Jnitinian 
struck down by this terrible pestilence, and for the pesti- 
a time it seemed that he, like the great majority 
of those attacked, would fall a victim to the 
disease. The situation of Theodora was full of 
peril. The victims of her cruelty and avarice had 
left avengers who were all eager for her blood. 
The life of that weak, plague-stricken, probably 

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602 The Return of Belisarius. 

BOOKV. delirious patient was all that intervened between 
°' her and death at the hands of an infuriated 

Anxit of P^^P^l^^G ; unless, indeed — and this seemed the 
Theodora, desperate woman's only chance of retaining life 
and power — the imminent death of her husband 
could be concealed long enough to give her time 
to assemble the senate in the palace, and to have 
some pliant nephew, or some popular general, who 
would promise to make her his wife, clothed in the 
purple and presented to the Eomans in the am- 
phitheatre as the new Augustus. 
The army Such wcrc the calculatious of Theodora, as, 
under that form of government, they were sure 
to be the more or less avowed calculations of every 
ambitious and childless Empress. There was still, 
however, the army to be reckoned with, that sup- 
posed embodiment of the Eoman people in arms 
by which in old time the title Imperator had 
been exclusively conferred. The Eastern army was 
jealous and uneasy. A rumour reached it that 
Justinian was already dead : and at a hastily- 
summoned military council some generals were 
heard to mutter that if a new Emperor were 
made at Constantinople without their consent they 
would not acknowledge him. 
Recovery Suddenly the whole aspect of affairs was changed 
nian. by the unlooked-for recovery of Justinian. The 
ulcer, which was the characteristic mark of the 
disease, probably began to suppurate freely, and 
the other dangerous symptoms abated : such, at 
least Procopius tells \is, was the almost invariable 

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Conspiracy of the Generals. 503 

course of the malady in the small number who book v. 
recovered. Now were all other voices hushed in ^°' ^^' 
a chorus of servile loyalty to Justinian and Theo- ^^^' 
dora ; and the oflScers who had been present at Mutual ac> 
that dangerous council hastened to clear them- of the 
selves of suspicion by each accusing some one else ^^^^ 
of treason to the present occupants of the throne. 
Two parties soon declared themselves. On the 
one side were John surnamed the Glutton, and 
Peter ^ ; on the other, Belisarius and a general 
named Buzes, a greedy and self-seeking man, but 
one who had held the high oflSces of Consul and 
Magister Militum per Orientem. 

Theodora ordered all the generals to repair to Vengeance 
the capital, caused a strict enquiry to be made into dora;^ 
the proceedings at the so-called treasonable council, 
and decided, whether rightly or wrongly we cannot 
say, that Belisarius and Buzes had acted in opposi- 
tion to her interests. Her vengeance on Buzes on Buzes. 
was swift and terrible. Summoning him to the 
women's apartments in the palace, as if she had 
some important tidings to communicate, she 
ordered him to be bound and conveyed to one 
of her secret dungeons. * Dark, labyrinthine, and 
Tartarean,* says Procopius, were the undergroimd 
chambers in which she immured her victims. 
Here, in utter darkness, unable to distinguish 
day from night, with no employment to divert 
his thoughts, dwelt for twenty-eight months the 
former Consul and Master of the Host. Once a 
^ We do not hear of this officer in the Italian wars. 

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504 The Return of Belisarius. 

BOOK V. day a servant entered the prison, forbidden to hear 
^°' ^^' or ntter a word, and cast his food down before the 
^^'' captive * as to a dumb brute, dumb as a brute him- 
self/ Thus he remained, men generally supposing 
him to be dead and not daring to mention his name, 
till Theodora, taking pity on his misery, in the 
third year of his imprisonment released him from 
his living tomb. Men looked upon him with awe, 
as if he had been the ghost of Buzes. His sight 
was gone and his health was broken, but we hear 
of him again, three years after his liberation, as 
commanding armies and as a person of importance 
at the Imperial court ^. 

Dwgraceof As for Bolisarius, it was not thought desirable 


to proceed to such extreme lengths in his punish- 
ment, and there was probably even less evidence 
against him than against Buzes of having discussed 
the succession to the throne in a treasonable manner. 
There was, however, a charge, which had been 
vaguely tanging over him for years, of having 
appropriated to himself the lion's share of the 
treasures of Gelimer and Witigis, and having 
brought only a remnant of those treasures into the 
palace of the Emperor. His recent Eastern cam- 
paigns, too, though they had not added greatly to 
his fame, were reported to have added unduly to 
his wealth. The law or the custom which regu- 

' De Bello Gotthico, iii. 32 and 34 (pp. 415, 426). Possibly 
Theodora's death, which happened in 548, may have been the 
reason of his being fully restored to favour. I suspect that 
Procopius has exaggerated the horrors of the imprisonment of 


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Disgrace of Belisarius. 605 

lated the division of such booty was perhaps not book v. 
very clearly defined, and it might be urged with ^^' ^^' 
some reason that such splendid successes as those ^^*' 
of BelisariuSy achieved against such overwhelming 
odds, made him an exception to all rules. It is 
admitted, however, by Procopius that ' his wealth 
was enormous and worthy of the halls of kings ;' 
and from the way in which the subject is handled 
by this historian, for so many years his friend and 
follower, we may fairly infer that this charge was 
substantially a just one. The chief blot upon 
the character of Belisarius, as upon the character 
of the general who in modem times most re- 
sembles him, Marlborough, was avarice. Unlike 
Marlborough, however, he was lavish in the spend- 
ing, as well aa greedy in the getting of money. 
His avarice was the child of ostentation rather 
than of me^re love of hoarding. To see himself 
surrounded by the bravest warriors in the world, 
to look at their glittering armour, to feel that 
these men were his dependants, and that the 
world said that his household alone had delivered 
Bome, this was the thought dearest to the heart 
of Belisarius. For this he laboured and heaped 
up treasure, not always perhaps regarding the 
rule of right. 

All this splendour of his, however, was now Command 

, « tftk^^Ti from 

shattered at a blow. If it was not safe to shut Beiisanag 
up Belisarius in a Tartarean dimgeon, it was safe to J^^S. 
to disgrace him, and it was done thoroughly. The 
command of the army of the East was taken from 

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506 The Return of Belisarius. 

Bookv. him and given to his old lieutenant, Martin, the 
"' same who galloped with Ildiger along the Flami- 
^^^" nian Way, bearing the General's message to Rimini, 
the same who was sent with Uliaris to relieve 
Milan, and who failed so disgracefully in his 
Military Not ouly was the command taken from Beli- 
ef Beiisa- sRHus, but, by an unusually high-handed exercise of 
up. power ^, his splendid military household was broken 

up. All those valiant life-guardsmen, both horse 
and foot-soldiers^, taken from the master whom 
they had served with such loyal enthusiasm, were 
divided by lot among the rival generals and the 
eunuchs of the palace. The glittering armour and 
gay accoutrements of course went with the wearers. 
Some portion of the treasure of the chief, that 
which he had brought home from the Eastern 
campaign, was conveyed by one of the Empress's 
eimuchs to her own palace. All the band of 
devoted friends who had hitherto crowded round 
the steps of Belisarius were now forbidden even to 
speak to him. As Procopius, himself no doubt 
one of these forcibly silenced friends, has said, 'A 
bitter sight in truth it was, and one that men would 
have scarce believed possible, to see Belisarius 
walking about Byzantium as a common man, 
almost alone, deep in thought, with sadness in 

* UnleBB there was some sort of action * de rebus repetundis ' 
under which these proceedings were taken. 

' Aopv0<$poi Kai inrcunrurraL It seems probable from this 
passage in Procopius that many of these were slaves, bought 
young by Belisarius and trained to the use of arms. 

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Melancholy estate of Belisarius. 607 

his face, ever fearing death at the hands of an book v. 
assassin/ ^^- ^^• 

All this time Antonina dwelt with him in the ,^1. ^1^' 


same house as a stranger, mutual resentment and determines 

^ *=* to reconcile 

suspicion separating the hearts that had once^i'»»""8 
been so fondly united. Now came out the better mna. 
side of Theodora's character in the scheme which 
she devised to reconcile these two divided souls, 
and at the same time to repay some part of her 
debt of gratitude to Antonina by restoring to her 
the love of her husband. Those who prefer it 
may •accept the theory of Procopius, that the 
whole humiliation of Belisarius had been con- 
trived by the cruel ingenuity of the Empress for 
the sole purpose of bringing him helpless and a 
suppliant to his wife's feet. To me it seems more 
probable that the disgrace of the General was, at 
least in appearance, justified by his questionable 
conduct concerning the treasure ; that it was partly 
caused by the unslumbering jealousy of Justinian, 
and partly by Theodora's resentment for some 
incautious words of his at the military council; 
but that the idea of introducing Antonina's name 
into the settlement of the dispute, and reconciling 
Belisarius by one stroke both to his wife and to 
the Emperor, was due to some unextinguished 
instinct of good in the heart of the cruel Empress, 
and should not be set down against her on the 
page of history. 

One morning Belisarius went early to the palace, 
as was his wont, attended by a few shabbily- 

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608 The Return of Belisarius. 

BOOKV. dressed followers. The Imperial pair appeared to 
be in no gracious mood towards him ; the vcdetatUe 

^ *^^ of the palace, taking the cue from their masters, 
ciouB re- flouted and insulted him. After a day thus drearily 

caption at •/ j 

thepaiAoe. spent, dispirited and anxious, he returned to his 
palace, looking this way and that, to see from which 
side the dreaded assassins would rush forth upon 
him. * With this horror at his heart he went into 
his chamber and sat there upon the couch alone, re- 
volving no noble thoughts in his heart, nor remem- 
bering the hero that he once had been, but dizzy and 
perspiring, full of trembling despair, and gaawed 
with slavish fears and mean anxieties.' So writes 
Procopius, somewhat forgetful of the difference be- 
tween physical and moral courage, and, for private 
reasons of his own, unnecessarily severe on these 

'Fears of ihe braye and follies of the wise.' 
Antonina was walking up and down in the (Urium, 
feigning an attack of indigestion, apparently long- 
ing to comfort her lord, but too proud to do so 
unasked. Then, just after sunset, came a messenger 
from the palace, named Quadratus, who, rapidly 
crossing the court, stood before the door of the 
men's apartment and called in a loud voice, 'A 
message from the Empress.' Belisarius, who made 
no doubt that this was the bearer of his death- 
warrant, drew his feet up on the couch and lay 
there upon his back, with no thought of self- 
defence, expecting death. His hopes revived at 
the sight of the letter which Quadratus handed to 
him, and which ran thus : — 

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Theodards letter. 609 

* Theodora Angusta to the Patrician Belisarius ^ book v. 

Ch. 17. 

* What yon have done to us, good Sir, you know 

very welL But I, on account of my obligations to Theodora's 
your wife, have resolved to cancel all these charges 
against you for her sake, and to make her a present 

of your life. Henceforward, then, you may be 
encouraged as to the safety of your life and pro- 
perty, but it rests with you to show what manner 
of husband you will be to her in future/ 

A rapture of joy thrilled the heart of Belisarius 
as he read these words. Without waiting for the 
departure of the messenger he ran forth and fell 
prostrate before Antonina. He kissed her feet ^ The reoon- 


he clasped her robe ; he called her the author of 
his life and his salvation ; he would be her slave, 
her faithful slave henceforward, and would forget 
the name of husband. It was unheroic, doubtless, 
thus to humble himself at the feet of the woman 
who had so deeply wounded his honour ; but it 
was love, not fear, that made him unheroic. It 
was not the coward's desire of life, it was the 
estranged lover s delight in the thought of ended 
enmity that unmanned Belisarius. For two years 
he had bitterly felt that 

'To be wroth with one we love 
Doth work like madness in the brain.' 

* The superscription is conjectural. 

ykwra-op acl r&v Tap<r&v rrjs ywaiK6g fitToPifiaCap is the ridiculous 
exaggeration of Procopius, who describes the whole scene of the 
reconciliation in a spirit of absolute cynicism. 

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510 The Return of Belisarius. 

BOOKV. And now that a power above them both had ended 
"' this agony, he forgot the dignity of the Patrician 
^^^' and the General in the almost hysterical rapture 
of the reconciled husband. 

The friends That reconciliation was an abiding one. What- 

of Belisa- . . ° 

riaa, in- evcr wcre the later sins of Antonina, we hear no 
ProoopiuB, more of discord between her and Belisarius, rather 
condemned of his iufatuatiou in approving of all her actions. 
ciliation. But the fricuds who had helped the injured hus- 
band in his quarrel found themselves the losers 
by this * renewing of love.' Photius, obliged to 
hide himself in the squalid habit of a monk at 
Jerusalem, called in vain for aid to his mighty 
father-in-law. Procopius probably found his career 
of promotion stopped by the same disastrous recon- 
ciliation, and now began to fashion those periods 
of terrible invective which were one day to be 
stored in the underground chambers of the A necdota, 
menacing ruin to the reputations of Antonina, of 
Theodora, of Justinian, even of the once loved 
Theodora's Out of the scquestered property of the General 
dealing the munificcnt Empress made a present to her hus- 
property of band of thirty hundred-weight of gold (£i35,cxx>), 
* restoring the rest to its former owner. In order 
that her family might become possessed of the 
rest by ordinary course of law, she began to 
arrange a marriage between her grandson Ana- 
stasius ^ and Belisarius's only daughter Joannina. 

^ *AvacTcuri(f r^ rrjs fkurtkidog ^vyarpt^fi^, AlemanuUB in his 
notes to the Anecdota (p. 357, ed. Bonn) thinks that this was 

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Belisarius sent back to Italy. 611 

The entreaties of Belisarius that he might be book v. 
allowed once again to lead the Eastern army against ^°' ^^' 
Chosroes were disregarded, partly on account of ^;^' 
the remonstrances of Antonina, who passionately restoration 
declared that she would never again visit those ^^ to 


countries in which she had undergone the cruel 
indignity of arrest and imprisonment. The * respect- 
able' but not * illustrious ' oflBce of * Count of the 
Sacred Stable' was conferred upon him, to show 
that he was again received into some measure 
of Imperial favour. When it became more and 
more clear that the divided and demoralised 
generals in Italy would never make head against 
Totila, the Emperor graciously assigned him the 
task of repairing all the blunders that had been 
committed in that land since he left it four years 
previously. At the same time a promise (so it is 
said) was exacted from him that he would ask for 
no money from the Imperial treasury for the war, 
but would provide for its whole equipment at 
his own expense. Thus feebly supported by 
his master, with his splendid band of household 
troops dispersed among the eunuchs of the palace, 
with his own spirit half broken by all the sorrows 
and humiliations of recent years, he was not likely 
to threaten the security of Justinian, nor to be 
heard of as Emperor of the West. Whether this 

the son of a legitimate daughter of Justinian and Theodora. 
It seems to me more probable that the mother of Anastasius 
was an illegitimate daughter of Theodora bom before her mar- 
riage with Justinian. 

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612 The Return of Belisarius. 

BOOK V. needy and heart-broken man would cope effectually 
^^^^' in war with the young and gallant Totila was 
5*3. another question, and one which will be answered 
in the following chapters. 

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Source: — 
Pkocopius, De Bello Gotthico, iii. lo-ao (pp. 315-362). BOOKV. 
The reader will observe at every turn how much lees defi- C^- 18. 
nite and vivid is this part of the narrative than the previous 
portions where Frocopius spoke as an eye-witness. 

Guides: — 
My descriptions of Portus and Ostia are founded partly 
on personal observation and partly on Lanciani's ^ Scavi di 
Ostia,' Borne, 1881^ and Grossi and Cancani's 'Descrizione 
delle rovine di Ostia Tiberino e- Porto,' Borne, 1883. 

Belisarius, on receiving the charge of the May, 544. 
Italian war, tried to persuade some of the soldiers ^^8^ 
enlisted for the Persian campaign to serve under ^^«^**"^' 
his banners, but the magic of his name was gone, 
and all refused. He therefore had to spend some 
time moving to and fro in Thrace, where, by a 
large expenditure of money — his own money prob- 
ably — ^he succeeded in raising some young volun- 

Vitalius, whose commands had been hitherto Junction 

with Vitft- 

chiefly in Dalmatia and Venetia, and who nowiius. 
held the high position of Magister Militum per 
Blyricum, met him at Salona; but the united 
VOL. IV. L 1 

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514 The Second Siege of Rome. 

BOOK V. forces of the two generals numbered only 4000 men- 

\ L The first expedition directed by them was a decided 

KeifeVof success. The garrison of Ot^anto^ hard pressed by 
otranto. ^^ besieging Goths, had consented to surrender 
on a certain day if no help arrived previously. 
Valentine, whom the reader may perhaps re- 
member as the groom of Photius who was raised 
from the ranks as a reward for his splendid bravery 
during the siege of Bome, was now sent by sea 
to relieve the outworn and enfeebled defenders 
of Otranto, and to substitute fresh and vigorous 
soldiers in their place. Arriving only four days 
before the stipulated day of surrender, and falling 
suddenly on the unsuspecting Goths, he succeeded 
in cutting his way through them to the citadel. 
The disappointed besiegers shortly after raised 
the siege and returned to Totila. Valentine also, 
having accomplished his commission and having 
left a whole year's supply of provisions in the 
lately beleaguered town, returned to Salona. 
BeUaarius Bclisarius uow movcd up the coast to Pola in 
vennft. Istrfa, and from thence crossed to Bavenna. His 
own opinion was in favour of an immediate march 
to Bome^, but Totila's forces were interposed in 
a menacing manner along the back-bone of Italy 
from Campania to Calabria, and Vitalius persuaded 
tim against his better judgment to make Ravenna 
his base of operations ; Bavenna, which alike in 
the days of Honorius, of Odovacar, and of Witigis, 

* Hydruntum. 

" De Bello Gotthico, iii. 13 (p. 329). 

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Belisartus enters Ravenna. 615 

had been proved to be admirable as a hiding-place, book v. 
but poor as a basis for offensive war. ^°' ^^' 

Totila meanwhile, who, by means of a fictitious ^ ^^^\ 
deputation bearing letters professedly written in**i®™jrJ»- 
the name of the Boman commander of (JenoaofRome. 
and asking for help, had cleverly, if somewhat 
imscrupulously, obtained information as to the 
real size of the new army of reconquest, felt that 
he could afford to despise it, and proceeded in a 
leisurely manner to tighten his grasp on Bome. 
Tivoli was taken, owing to some dispute between 
the inhabitants and the Isaurian garrison, and all 
the citizens, as we hear with regret, were put 
to the sword, the massacre being accompanied 
by circumstances of unusual atrocity \ The Tiber 
was watched to prevent provisions being borne 
down its stream into the city^: and a fleet of 
small swifb sailing ships, stationed at Naples and 
the Lipari Islands, captiured nearly all the vessels ' 
which from the south sought to make the harbour 
of Ostia, bringing com to Borne. 

Belisarius, on entering Bavenna, (an entry how BeUw- 
unlike that moment of supreme triumph when he dress to the 
marched into the same city four years previously), Ravenn*. 

^ * The Ooths kiUed all the inhabitants with the priest of the 
place, in a manner which I shall not describe, although I know 
it, that I may not leave memorials of inhumanity to a later 
age/ says Procopius, setting herein a good example to some 
modem journalists. 

' But Procopius confuses the Tiber and the Anio when he 
states (iii. lo) that the capture of Tivoli enabled Totila to 
block the former river. 

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516 The Second Siege of Rome. 

BOOKV. delivered an address to the inhabitants, Gothic 

Ch. 18. 

aa well as Koman, in which, while freely admitting 
*^' the mistakes that had been made since his 
departure from Italy, he expressed the Emperors 
unabated kindness and love towards all his subjects 
of whatever race, and earnestly entreated them 
to use all their influence with their friends to 
induce them to leave the service of the 'tyrant' 
Totila. The harangue, however, fell flat upon the 
listeners, who had learned in the last few years 
how little the kindness of the Boman Emperor 
was better than the tyranny of the barbarian. 
No defections from Totila's army resulted from 
this appeal.. 
Thorimuth Thorimuth, one of the guardsmen of Belisa- 

andVita- . . . 

Hut in the rius — WO again begin to hear of the militaiy 
household of the General — was next sent into 
the province of Aemilia, to try his fortune with 
the cities in. that rich and populous district. 
Vitalius with his Illyrian troops accompanied 
him, and for a time their eflforts were successful. 
Fort after fort surrendered, and they were able 
to take up a strong position (probably their winter- 
quarters) in the important city of Bologna. Then 
a strange event took place, and one which well 
illustrates the intrinsic worthlessness of these 
Theniy- Justiniauic conquests. The Illyrians determined 
dl^ti^ that they would serve no longer in Italy, and, 
S^^ withdrawing with swift secrecy from Bologna, 
^°8^^ marched back into their own land. The Emperor 
was very wroth, but after their ambassadors had 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Relief of Osimo. 517 

set their case before him he could hardly retain book v. 
his anger. They had in fact two excellent reasons °' ^^' 
for deserting. They had served for years in Italy ^^' 
without receiving any pay from the bankrupt 
treasury; and a great army of Huns was at that 
very moment wasting their homes and carrying 
off their wives and children into slavery. Totila, 
hearing of the defection of the Illyrians, tried to 
intercept the retreat of Vitalius and Thorimuth, 
but was out-generalled and sustained a trifling 
defeat. None the less, however, had Bologna, and 
probably the whole province of Aemilia, to be 
evacuated by the Imperial troops. 

The same brave guardsman Thorimuth, with 545- 
two comrades Kicilas and Sabinian, was next sent ogimo.** 
at the head of 1000 men to relieve the garrison 
of Osimo, which rock-cradled city was now being 
held as stubbornly for the Emperor as, six years 
before, it had been held for Witigis. They suc- 
ceeded in entering the city by night, and appa- 
rently in supplying it with some fresh store of 
provisions. Kicilas however, in a fit of drunken 
hardihood, threw away his life in a fight which he 
had foolishly provoked, and from which he was 
somewhat ignobly trying to escape. Then came the 
necessary work of withdrawing from the city, in 
order not to aid the blockaders by adding to the 
number of mouths to be fed within its walls. 
Totila was informed by a deserter when the with- The impe- 
drawal was to take place, occupied an advantageous defeated. 
position about three miles from Osimo, fell upon 

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518 The Second Siege of Rome. 

BOOKV. them in the confusion of their midnight march, 

^"' ^^' slew two hundred of them, Thorimuth and Sa- 

*^5' binian in the number, and captured all their 

baggage and beasts of burden. The rest of the 

relieving army escaped across the mountains to 


Procopius forgets to inform us of the after- 

fortimes of the garrison of Osimo. They must^ 

however, have surrendered, eventually, to the 

Goths, since seven years later the place was un- 

^ doubtedly held by Gothic soldiers^. 

Pesarore- The ncxt cxploit of Bclisarius was a clever 
reconstruction of the defences of Pesaro. This 
little Hadriatic city, eighteen miles south of Ri- 
mini, had, together with her sister city of Fano, 
been dismantled by Witigis in order to prevent 
its occupation by the Byzantines. The gates had 
been destroyed and half of the circuit of the walls 
pulled down. Now, however, Belisarius, who was 
anxious to secure the town for the sake of the 
good foraging-ground for cavalry which surrounded 
it, sent messengers by night to take exact measure- 
ments of the height and width of the gateways. 
Gates made to fit these openings and bound with 
iron were then sent by sea from Bavenna, and 
were soon erected by the soldiers who had been 
recently commanded by Thorimuth. The walls 
were rebuilt in any fashion, stones or clay or any 
other material that was at hand being used for 

* Compare De Bello Gotthico, iv. 23 (p. 584, 1. 17, ed. 

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The piteous appeal of Belisarius. 619 

the purpose S and Pesaro was once more a walled book v. 
city, which Totila assaulted, but assaulted in vain. 

A twelvemonth had now elapsed since Belisarius May, 545. 
received the charge of the Italian war, and what 
results had he to show? Otranto and Osimo 
relieved, and Pesaro re-fortified : this was not a 
very splendid account of a year's work of the 
famous Belisarius: and against these successes 
had to be set Tivoli captured and the strings of 
the net drawn perceptibly tighter round Borne 
by the leisurely operations of the contemptuous 
Totila. Belisarius keenly felt the impotence to 
which he was reduced, and broke his promise to 
Justinian to ask for no money for the war, — if 
such a promise was ever made, — by sending to 
Constantinople the following piteous epistle : — 

* I have arrived in Italy, best of Emperors ! Letter of 
in great want of men, of horses, of arms, and ofto justi- 
money. A man who has not a sufficient supply 
of these will hardly, I think, ever be found able 
to carry on war. Tis true that after diligent 
perambulation of Thrace and lUyria I was able 
to collect some soldiers there; but they are few 
in numbers, wretched in quality, have no weapons 
in their hands worth speaking of, and are alto- 
gether unpractised in fighting. As for the soldiers 

^ ^£y re rf ocr^aXci ytvofifpovs Saa rov irtpiPokou JcaraireirT»K(( 
&rY ^ ^Uf^Kodofirj<ra» Tp6n^, \i0ovs re icoi inyX^y Koi Sk\o iriovp 
€fjika)iK6fit¥oi, The passage is interesting, as throwing some 
light on the hasty reconstmction of the walls of Borne in the 
following year, and also on such evidently ' tumultuary ' work 
as the strange Heicknmatier at Wiesbaden. 

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520 The Second Siege of Rome. 

BOOKV. whom I found in this country, they are discon- 
^°'^^' tented and disheartened, cowed by frequent defeats, 
^^' and so bent on flight when the foe appears that 
they slip off their horses and dash their arms 
to the ground. As for making Italy provide the 
money necessary for carrying on the war, that 
is impossible; to so large an extent has it been 
reconquered by the enemy. Hence we are unable 
to give to the soldiers the long over-due arrears 
of their pay, and this consciousness of debt takes 
from us all freedom of speech towards them. And 
you ought, SireM to be plainly told that the 
larger part of your nominal soldiers have enlisted 
and are now serving under the banners of the 
enemy. If then the mere sending of Belisarius 
to Italy was all that was necessary, your pre- 
parations for the war are perfect : but if you want 
to overcome your enemies you must do something 
more than this, for a General without subordinates 
is nothing. First and foremost, it behoves you to 
send me my own guards, both mounted and un- 
mounted ^ ; secondly, a large number of Huns and 
other barbarians ; and thirdly, money to pay them 
John sent This letter, so pathetic, but yet so outspoken^ 
thiopie. was sent to Constantinople by the hands of John 

^ This passage in the De Bello Gotthico confirms the state- 
ment in the Anecdota as to the breaking-up of Belisarius's 
body-guard and its distribution among the eunuchs of the 
palace. This is one of several minute points of correspondence 
which prove the genuineness of the Anecdota. 

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Steady progress of Totila. 521 


the nephew of Vitalian, who solemnly promised book v. 
a speedy return. Everything, however, seemed to ^'^^' 
combine against the unfortunate commander of ^^^' 
the Italian war. John saw a favourable oppor- He marries 
tunity for advancing his own interests by a bril-of Justi- 
liant marriage, and while Belisarius languished at 
Bavenna, the Byzantine popidace were admiring 
a splendid pageant, the wedding festival of John 
and the daughter of Germanus, the great-niece 
of the Emperor Justinian. -^ 

So the year wore on. Belisarius felt more keenly BeiisariuM 

Xd&v^tfi lift— 

than ever the mistake which he had made invenna. 
shutting himself up in Bavenna, far from Bome, 
the real key of the position. Leaving Justin (who 
seems to have quitted his charge at Florence or 
possibly had been unable to hold that city against 
the Goths) to take the chief command at Bavenna, 
the General re-crossed the Hadriatic to form a 
new army at Durazzo. There, in course of time. He meets 
he was met by the bridegroom John, raised Dyrrha- 
doubtless above all fear of rebuke for his tardiness ^ ^^^' 
by the splendour of his new connection. With 
him came the Armenian General Isaac \ and they 
brought under their standards an army, apparently 
a considerable army, of Bomans and barbarians. 

Meanwhile Totila, in this year 545, was steadily steady 
advancing, strengthening his position in Central Totila. 
Italy, tightening his grip on Bome. Fermo and 

* Brother of Narses (not the Eunuch Narses), and Aratius. 
Visitors to Eavenna will be reminded of the tomb of a much 
later Isaac, the Exarch, and ' the great ornament of Armenia.' 

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822 The Second Siege of Rome. 

BOOK V. Ascoli, two cities of Picenum, were taken ; Spoleto, 
^"' ^^' perhaps the most important city on the Flaminian 
**5- Way, was surrendered by its governor Herodian ; 
men said too easily surrendered, because Herodian 
feared an investigation which Belisarius was about 
to institute into some irregularities of his past 
life^ Assisi (how little did the men of that day 
think of the wealth of associations which in after 
ages would cluster round the name!) was more 
loyally defended for the Emperor by the valiant 
Goth, Siegfried ^ but he was slain in a sally and 
Assisi opened its gates to Totila. The neighbour- 
ing citadel of Perugia still held out, but its garrison 
was weakened and discouraged by the assassination 
of their brave commander Cyprian by one of his 
body-guard, who, if Procopius's story be correct, was 
bribed by Totila to commit this crime ^. Uliphus, 
the murderer, took refiige in Totila's camp. We 
shall meet with him once again, in the last days of 
the war, and mark his punishment. 
Totila At length, in the autumn probably of 545, 

lays siege Totila marchcd to Borne and formally commenced 
the siege of the city. Both in the Campagna and 
everywhere else throughout Italy he was careful 

^ Aoytcr/io^ y^ om^ BcXuropior rw ^c/Stoficiwy rfntiKiivt wpa^tiM, 
Perhaps the examination related to some embezzlement of the 
public treasure, but it is not easy to get this meaning out 
of the words. 

* I cannot help thinking that the lurU^piJ^ of Frocopius is 
a mis-rendering of this well-known name. 

' The importance of Cyprian's death is shown by Totila's 
allusion to it two years later in his harangue to his troops (De 
Bell. Gotth. iii. 25, p. 386). 

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to Borne, 

Totila lays siege to the City. 523 

to respect the property of the tillers of the soil, book v. 
All that he expected of them was that they should ^°' ^^' 
pay into his hands the rent which the Colonus ^*^" 
would otherwise have remitted to his patron, and 
the taxes which the free husbandman (if such 
there were) would have paid to the Imperial logo- 
thete. No money was to be sent to Constantinople ; 
all that would have gone thither was to go to the 
Gothic King ; and in return for this, the com' and 
the cattle of the peasant were to be left untouched, 
the honour of his wife and his daughter to be held 
inviolate. Such was the motto of Totila, and it is 
not surprising that the Italian peasant viewed with 
indifference, if not with actual pleasure, the exten- 
sion of his kingdom, nor that his own army, 
paying for everything which it consumed, lived in 
comparative comfort, while Famine was coming ever 
nearer and nearer before the eyes of the inhabitants 
of the beleaguered City. 

A sally, against the orders both of Bessad Discou- 
the Commandant of Bome and of Belisarius him- C^me. 
self, had been undertaken by Artasires the Persian 
and Barbatian the Thracian (two of the Generals 
guardsmen whom he had sent to Bome in order to 
keep up the spirits of the inhabitants), but had 
completely failed, and great discouragement was 
the result. Already perhaps a movement was being 
begun to escape from the hardships of a long siege 
by an early surrender. At least we are told that 
Cethegus, a man holding the rank of Patrician and 
Frinceps Senatus, was brought before a council of 

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524 The Second Siege of Rome. 

BOOK V. generals, charged with treasonable designs. Nothing 
"' ^ ' apparently could be proved against him, but he was 
permitted, or ordered, to depart from Rome, and 
repaired to Civita Vecchia^ 
546. The year 546 had probably begun when Beli- 
andlp^tf sarins, still unable himself to repair to the scene of 
rort^ action, sent Valentine to Porto, at the mouth of the 
Tiber, to assist the troops which were posted there 
under the command of Innocentius in harassing the 
besieging army, and to clear the river for the pas- 
sage of provision-ships up to Rome. With Valen- 
tine was sent Phocas, one of the General's mounted 
guards, and an exceedingly brave and capable 
soldier. They had five huncted men under their 
command. It was decided that these new troops 
should make an attack upon the camp of the 
enemy, which was to be seconded by a simul- 
Bossaethe taucous Sally from the city. Bessas however, the 
of Rome Imperial Commandant of Rome, though warned of 
co-operate the intended movement, refused to allow any of the 
i^pB at three thousand men under his command to join in 
it. The attack therefore, though fairly successful, 
achieved nothing, and the assailants returned to 
Porto neither the better nor the worse for what 
they had done. They sent an upbraiding message 

* Then called Centumcellae. Headers of Dahn's * Kampf um 
Rom ' will be interested in this, the only mention by Procopius of 
the Cethegus who figures so largely in the pages of that romance. 
Cethegus was Consul in 504, Magister Officiorum probably about 
521. After the third siege of Home he escaped (as we are told 
by the author of the Life of Yigilius in the Liber Pontificalis) 
to Constantinople. See Usener's Anecdoton Holderi, pp. 6-8. 

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Death of Valentine. 526 

to Bessas, and warned him that on a given day book v. 
and hour they would repeat the attack, which 

they implored him to support by a vigorous sortie. ^^^' 
Bessas, however, whose imderstanding of his duty 
seems to have been entirely summed up in the 
modern phrase * masterly inactivity,' again refused 
to imperil any of his men for such an enterprise. 
A deserter from the army of Innocentius warned 
Totila of the coming attack, and consequently, 
when the Imperialist troops issued from the walls 
of Porto, they soon found themselves in a Gothic 
ambuscade. Most of the five hundred fell, and 
their leaders with them. So perished the brave i>eatii of 

* , Valentine. 

groom of Photius, whom we first saw stemming 
the tide of battle which surged round Belisarius 
and his dark roan horse, hard by the Milvian 
Bridge. Since then his name has been much in 
the mouths of men. Now his aforetime master, 
an emaciated and heart-broken monk, kneels be- 
side the cradle at Bethlehem, and he lies upon the 
desolate Campagna, outside the walls of Porto, 
cloven by a Gothic broadsword. 

Soon after this, some ships laden with corn for Corn-ships 

' *^ ^ , Bent by 

the Koman people were sent by Pope Vigilius, vigUiua. 
who was at this time, for reasons which will after- 
wards appear, residing in the island of Sicily. The 
Goths saw the ships coming, and guessing their 
errand arranged an ambush, probably from that 
side of the Tiber which washes the Isola Sacra, 
between Porto and Ostia. The Komans from their 
battlements saw the whole stratagem — every one 

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626 The Second Siege of Rome. 

BOOKV. who has dirabed the bell-tower of Ostia or of 
^^' ^^' Porto knows how far the sight can travel over 
^^^' that unbroken alluvial plain — and made vigorous 
signs, by waving their garments and pointing with 
their hands, to prevent their friends from choosing 
that channel and urge them to land at some other 
point of the coast. Unfortunately the signals 
which were meant to discourage were interpreted 
as enthusiastic encouragement and acclamation. 
The corn-ships came sailing on, right into the 
Portensian channel, and close past the Gothic 
The corn- ambuscadc. They were at once boarded, their 
boarded by cargocs appropriated for the Gothic army, and a 
' bishop who was on board, and whose name by a 
curious coincidence happened to be also Valentine, 
was straitly interrogated as to the position of 
affiiirs in Sicily. Detecting him in returning false 
answers to his questions, the King, with a flash 
of barbarian rage blazing out from beneath the 
restraints of reason and self-discipline, ordered the 
lying ecclesiastic s hands to be cut off and let him 
go whither he would. 
May, 546. About this time, two years after the re-appoint- 
surren-^* mcut of Bclisarius, the important city of Placentia, 
th^GoUiB. o^^ ^^ ^^ Isi&jB of the iEmilian Way, was sur- 
rendered to the Goths after nearly a year's siege, 
in which the defenders had endured terrible hard- 
ships from famine, being at length reduced, it was 
whispered, to feed upon human flesh. The reduc- 
tion of the important city of Placentia was a great 
gain to Totila, who could now move his troops 

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The Deacon Pelagius sues for peace. 527 

freely between Pavia, the heart of the Gothic resist- book v. 
ance, and the valleys of the Amo and the Tiber. ^^' ^^' 

By this time in Eome also the pressure of j,^^^ 
famine was beginning to be sorely felt, and the"^^°*®- 
citizens — perhaps without the knowledge, perhaps 
against the wish of Bessas — decided to send an 
embassy to Totila, to see if terms could be arranged 
for a truce, and for the eventual, surrender of the 
City, if help came not by a given day. The envoy Peiagius 
chosen was the deacon Pelagius, a man who hadbwgiJdor* 
resided long in Constantinople on terms of close ^ 
friendship with the Emperor, who had recently 
returned to Rome with large stores of wealth, 
which he had generously employed in relieving 
the distresses of the poorer citizens. Nine years 
after this time, on the death of Vigilius, he was to 
be installed in the chair of St. Peter. Already 
during the long absence of Vigilius he wielded an 
influence little less than Papal in the Eternal City. 

Totila received the generous deacon with great TotUa's 
outward show of reverence and affection, but before 
he began to set forth his request, addressed him 
with courteous but decided words : ^ We Goths feel 
as strongly as the Romans the duty of .showing 
every possible respect to the oflfice of an ambas- 
sador. In my opinion, however, that respect is 
better shown by an early and frank statement of 
what can and what cannot be conceded, than by 
any number of honeyed words, holding out hopes 
which the speaker does not mean to gratify. Let 
me therefore at once and plainly tell you that there 

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528 The Second Siege of Rome. 

BOOKV. are three things which it is useless for you to 
^°' ^^' request. On any other subject I will hear you 
5^^- gladly, and if possible grant your petition, 
excepted * The first is pardon for the inhabitants of Sicily. 

topics. , , 

I. SioUy. It is impossible for us to forget the flourishing 
condition of that island, the very granary of Rome, 
which Theodoric, in reliance on the honour of its 
people and in answer to their earnest request, con- 
sented to leave unoccupied by Gothic garrisons. 
What was the reward of this generous confidence % 
As soon as the Imperial armament appeared in the 
offing, an armament which it was easily within 
their power to have resisted, they sent no tidings 
of its approach to the Goths, they did not occupy 
one of the strong places in the island, but at once, 
like runaway-slaves seeking a new master, they 
crowded down to the shore with suppliant hands 
and said, "Our cities are yours, we are faithful 
subjects of the Emperor.'' This was the turning- 
point in the fortunes of our nation. It was from 
this island that the enemy sallied forth as from a 
fortress to occupy any part of Italy that they 
pleased. It was by the assistance of the Sicilians 
that they gathered those vast stores of com whidi 
enabled them for a whole year to stand a blockade 
in Rome. These are not injuries which the Goths 
can ever forget : therefore ask for no pardon for 
the Sicilians, 
a. The 'The sccoud point is the preservation of the 

Rome. walls of Romc. Behind these walls our enemies 
sheltered themselves for a year, never venturing 

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The three paints reserved by Totila. 529 

to meet us in the open field, but wearing out oiir book v. 
noble army by all sorts of tricks and clever sur- " ^^* 

prises. We should be fools to allow this kind of ^^^* 
stratagem to be practised against us hereafter: 
and moreover, the citizens of Rome will gain by 
the demolition of their walls. No more deadly 
assaults, no more of the yet deadlier blockades for 
them in future. Safe and quiet in their unwalled 
city they wiU await the arbitrament of battle, 
which will be waged on some other field between 
the opposing armies. 

*The third point is the surrender of the slaves 3. The 

1 • -Th fugitive 

who have fled to us from their Boman owners. Biaves. 
We have received these men on a solemn promise 
that we will never give them up to their former 
masters. We have allowed them to stand along- 
side of us in the battle. If after all this we were 
to abandon them to the mercy of their lords, you 
yourselves would know that there was no reliance 
to be placed on the promises of men so faithless 
and so ungrateful.' 

Such in substance was the speech of Totila \ a 
speech which, though too vindictive in its refer- 
ence to the Sicilians, contained much unanswer- 
able aigument from the Gothic' stand-point. The Reply of 
Deacon Pelagius did not attempt to answer it, but 
made a short and ill-tempered speech to the effect 

' No doubt the phraseology of this speech is thoroughly 
ProGopian, and it most be looked upon in great measure cs 
a rhetorician's exercise: but there is every reason to think 
that the three points enumerated were really resenred by 

VOL. IV. Mm 

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630 The Second Siege of Rome. 

BOOK V. that courtesy to an ambassador was only a mockery 

^ L if he had no chance of obtaining what he asked 

^^ * for. For himself he would rather receive a slap 
in the face and return to those who sent him with 
some one of his requests granted, than be received 
with ever so great a show of politeness and return 
unsuccessful. He declined to make any request 
whatever to Totila, in face of the prohibition to 
touch on the three reserved points, and would only 
I'emark that if the King determined to wage a 
truceless war on the unhappy Sicilians, who had 
never borne arms against him, there was little hope 
of mercy for the Bomans in whose hands he had 
seen the spear. He would have nothing more to 
do with the embassy, but would leave the matter 
in the hands of God, who was not unaccustomed 
to punish those who behaved themselves arro- 
gantly towards a suppliant. 
TheKomtn With hcavv hearts the Boman citizens saw 
makeeup. Pelagius rctum from the mission which his own 

plicatioii , 

toBessas. pecvishness had made a fruitless one. In large 
numbers they thronged to the house — perhaps the 
Pineian Palace, perhaps one of the old Imperial 
Palaces overlooking the Forum — ^which served as 
a Preetorium, and where abode the representatives 
of the Emperor. The council of oflScers before 
whom they laid their sad case was presided over 
by Bessas and Conon ; Bessas the Thracian Ostro- 
goth who had defended the Porta Maggiore against 
his countrymen in the earlier siege, Conon the 
leader of Isaurians, who three years before had 

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Prayer of the Citizens to Bessas. 631 

found himself forced by pressure, such as the book v. 
citizens were now bringing to bear, to surrender ^'^^' 
Naples to Totila. In terms of abject misery the ^^^' 
citizens of Rome put up their prayer to these 
iron-hearted men- ' We do not appear before you 
as your fellow-countrymen, as members of the 
same great commonwealth, as men who willingly 
received you within our walls, and have fought 
side by side with you against a common enemy. 
Forget all this: imagine that we are captives 
taken in war, imagine that we are slaves. Yet 
even the slave is fed by his master. And only for 
this do we pray, for food enough to keep us alive. 
If you cannot or will not do this, manumit us, 
give us leave to depart hence, and so save your- 
selves the trouble of digging graves for your 
servants. If that again be impossible then kill 
us outright. Sudden death will be sweet in com- 
parison with this lingering torture, and you will 
be quit of many thousand murmuring Bomans 
by one blow.' 

Bessas and the generals round him gravely Reply of 
replied to this passionate outburst, that they could 
adopt none of the three courses suggested : that 
it was quite impossible to supply rations to the 
non-combatant dwellers in Bome, that it would 
be prejudicial to the Emperors interests to allow 
the citizens to depart, and that to kill them all 
would be an unholy deed. Belisarius and the new 
army from Constantinople would reach Bome before 
long, and they must patiently await their arrival. 

Hm 2 

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534 The Second Siege of Rome. 

BOOK V. * My children 1 follow me.' They followed in 
^"' ^^' the hope that he had some unknown store of 
^^^" food. He walked rapidly to one of the bridges 
over the Tiber, mounted the parapet, veiled his 
face with his robe, his children all the while 
looking OD, and plunged headlong in the stream. 
Death, even a coward's death, leaving his- little 
ones alone with their misery, was better than 
hearing any longer that heart-rending cry. 
Thenon- At length, whou creatures generally deemed 
Ants ai- unfit for food, such as dogs and mice, had become 
d^^. unattainable luxuries ; when men were staying 
the hunger-pang with the most loathsome sub- 
stances ; when stories of cannibalism were becom- 
ing more and more firequent and well-authenticated, 
and when still Belisarius came not ; at length the 
hard heart of Bessas relented, and he agreed for a 
large sum of money to allow the non-combatants 
to leave Rome. A few escaped unhurt through 
the enemy's outposts. Many were pursued and 
slain. Yet more perhaps died of the effects of 
the famine, on the road or on ship-board, before 
they had arrived at their journey's end. * To so 
low a point,' says Procopius, thinking doubtless of 
the four fateful letters which were once carried 
in triumph round the worlds 'to so low a point 
had fallen the fortunes of the Senate and the 
People of Bome\' 

» S. P. Q. R. 

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Horrors of famine in Rome. 633 

walls, which they sold for the comparatively bookv 
moderate price of £30 sterling ^ Fortunate was ^^' ^^' 
the Roman deemed who came upon the carcase ^^^' 
of a horse or other beast of burden, and could 
thus once more have the delight of chewing 
flesh. For the great mass of needy citizens the 
staple article of food was the nettles which grew 
freely under the walls and in the many ruined 
temples and palaces of Bome. To prevent the 
leaves from stinging the lips and throat, they 
were cooked with great care, and in this way a 
tantalising semblance of nourishment was given 
to the craving stomach. These nettles before long 
became the universal food of all classes. No more 
aurei were left in the girdle even of the patri- 
cian, no household goods which he could barter 
for food, and, worst of all, even the soldiers 
rations were growing scantier, so that neither 
buyers nor sellers existed to form a market. The 
flesh of the citizens was all wasted away, their 
skin was dark and livid, they moved about like 
spectres rather than men, and many while still 
walking among the ruins and chewing the nettles 
between their teeth suddenly sank to the earth 
and gave up the ghost. 

One unhappy Roman, the father of five children, The cry 
found himself surrounded by his little ones, who children, 
plucked at his robe and uttered those two terrible 
words, * Father 1 bread ! ' A sudden and terrible 
serenity came over his face, and he said to them. 

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536 The Second Siege of Rome. 

BOOKV. set sail for the Tiber, John -with the remainder 
^"' ^^' was to prosecute the campaign in Calabria and, 
^^^' as soon as might be, meet his comrades under the 
walls of Eome^ 

Beiinriiu Bclisarius first set sail, and meeting with con- 

bru^ trary winds, was forced to take shelter in the 
harbour of Otranto. The Goths, who had r^ 
turned to the siege of that place, fled when they 
saw his fleet approaching, and halted not till they 
reached Brindiei, at the distance of fifty miles. 
From thence they sent messengers to tell their 
King of the invasion of Calabria. Totila sent 
word to them to hold on as long as they could, 
but meanwhile relaxed not the vigilance of his 

ftt Porto, blockade of Rome. Soon the wind changed, and 
Belisarius, after a favourable voyage, reached 
Portus at the mouth of the Tiber. 

johnUnds Soou aftcrwards John crossed the Hadriatic 

in Calft- 

bria. Gulf, and, as good luck would have it, landed not 
far from Brindisi. A Gothic scout who had been 
taken prisoner begged for his life, and promised 
in return to guide him to the enemy. * First of 
all,' said the Imperial General, 'show me where 
the horses pasture.' Accordingly the man led 

copias. One of the many proofs that he does not write tiiis 
part of his history as an eye-witness is the deficiency of accurate 
information on points like these. 

^ In the Anecdota (cap. y) Procopios asserts that John, who 
by his marriage with the daughter of Oermanus had enrolled 
himself in the opposite court-party to that of Theodora, was 
afraid of being assassinated by the contrivance of Antonina, 
and for that reason would never join forces with BelisarioB. 

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Imperial success in the South of Italy. 637 

him to a green plain where the horses of the book v. 
Goths were feeding. On each horse s back leaped ^°' ^^' 
a Byzantine foot-soldier, and then they galloped ^^^' 
to the camp of the unsuspecting foe. An utter victory of 
rout followed, and this defeat opened the whole um. 
province of Calabria to the Imperialists. Canu- 
sium opened its gates to them, and hither came 
Tullianus son of Venantius, long ago governor of 
Bruttii and Lucania under Theodoric. Tullianus 
fearlessly spoke of the oppressions wrought by 
the Emperor 8 generals in Italy, oppressions which 
had compelled the inhabitants of these provinces, 
much against their will, to accept the yoke of the 
Goths, Arians and barbarians though they were, 
as the less intolerable of the two evils. Now, how- 
ever, if John would promise to prevent the ravages 
of his soldiery, Tullianus would use his influence 
to obtain the speedy submission of the two pro- 
vinces. The promise was given, and by the good Brottiiand 
oflBces of Tullianus, Bruttii and Lucania were recsovored 
speedily recovered for the Empire. :^pi^. 

Here, however, John's advance towards Eome Johnoomee 
stopped. Three hundred horsemen sent by Totila towards 
to Capua were sufficient to check his further pro- "*' 
gress, notwithstanding the urgent messages of Beli- 
sarius, who bitterly complained that he who had 
been allowed to select the bravest men in the army, 
' and all of them barbarians,' should allow himself 
to be checked by a little body of three hundred 
men. The qualification thus emphasised by Beli- 
sarius shows clearly enough how little the citizens 

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638 The Second Siege of Rome. 

BOOKV. of the Roman Empire had to do with wimiing 
^^' ^^' the Empire's battles. John now turned south- 
victo^ wards, and inflicted a crushing defeat on Recimund, 
near Rhe- yf\o^ with an army of Goths, Moors, and deserters 
from the Imperial ranks, was holding Eeggio for 
Totila, to prevent any succours being sent from 
Sicily to the mainlands But this victory had 
little effect on the main course of the war. While 
the great duel was going on around the towers 
of Rome, John in his Apulian camp was only a 
listless spectator of the agony of the Empire. 
BeiisariuB The narrative now turns to Belisarius, who, from 
Porto as his base of operations, is about to make 
an attempt for the relief of Rome. At the risk 
of a little repetition it will be well to give a 
somewhat detailed description of the two harbours 
of Rome, which, after several alternations of pros- 
perity and decay, are both now practically deserted, 
Portus and Ostia. 
Deecnj)- Let US take Ostia first, though it makes the 
Ostia. less conspicuous figure in our present narrative. 
It is situated on the south of the Tiber, on the 
left bank, that is to say, of the left-hand channel 
of the stream. The excavations of recent years 
have been fruitful in results for the archaeologist, 
and it may be doubted whether any other ruins, 
except those of Pompeii, enable us more vividly 
to reproduce the actual appearance of a Roman 

^ John does not seem to have taken Reggio. The battle was 
fought * between Rhegiom and Vibo,* which is about forty miles 
to the north of it. 

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Digitized by 



tie" fiber 

•..^?..^'^-^'^.^ cosJ^.p-^j;;:"::^::''^ 


\ v^ 




': Ji^i'Xin't Of iKoy-i 

I Ostia. 639 

city. We see the broad road lined with tombs, book v. 
leading up to the city-gate : we see the narrow ^" ^^' 

streets paved with large flat stones on which the ^^^' 
wheel-marks of the Bomau higa are yet visible : 
we see the semicircular area and columns of a 
theatre : we see the steps and part of the portico 
of the stately Temple of Vulcan: we see the 
chambers of an Imperial palace in which Anto- 
ninus Pius perhaps spent his summers, and among 
them one little chapel, dedicated, probably in the 
second century, to the worship of Mithras, the 
Eastern Sun-god. Almost more interesting, as 
enabling us more vividly to picture the commercial 
life of the city, are the magazines, in one of which 
are still to be found some dozen or so of doliay 
earthenware hogsheads once filled with wine or 
oil, now empty and buried up to their necks in 
the fine sand of the Tiber. Here too is a well- 
preserved gateway once leading into a court-yard 
lined with warehouses, and bearing on the keystone 
of the arch the sculptured resemblance of a Roman 
modius^y as a reminder, perhaps, to the merchant, of 
the duty of giving just measure to all his customers. 
Not far off is a stone on which some public notice, 
possibly for the regulation of the market, has been 
affixed. Everywhere we feel that we are tracing 
the lineaments of a great city of commerce, though 
one that has been dead for centuries. 

One thing disappoints us in Ostia, and yet in 
our disappointment helps to explain its present 
* Peck-measure. 

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540 The Second Siege of Rome. 

BooKV. desolation. We miss the sea. We have read in 
— '- — ^ Minucius Felix how at Ostia the three friends 
Alteration who were about to hold high converse on Fate 
^i^^iine. ^^d Providence and the nature of the gods, first 
walked along the yielding sand, and watched the 
boys playing 'duck and drake' with their smooth 
stones rebounding from the Mediterranean waves. 
We have read how three centuries later Monica 
and Augustine sat upon the same shore and gazed 
over the same expanse of sea, as the mother talked 
with her recovered son of the joys of the heavenly 
kingdom. But the Ostia of to-day gives us no 
help in picturing either of these scenes. The sea 
has retreated to a distance of three miles from 
its walls : we see only the flat and desolate Cam- 
pagna, the muddy Tiber, the grass-grown mounds 
of the deserted city. 
iril^"^ Now let us leave Ostia and turn our steps to 
Portus. A ferry-boat takes us across the Fiumara> 
as the broad, sluggish, turbid southern channel of 
the Tiber is called. Then a walk of two miles 
across the sandy expanse of the Isola Sacra brings 
us to the northern channel. The island called the 
Isola Sacra, which is now, owing to the recession 
of the coast-line, five or six times as large as it 
was in the days of Procopius, was then, though 
solitary, fair as the garden of Venus, full of roses 
and all fragrant flowers, says an enthusiastic geo- 
grapher of the fourth century*. Now, a few low 

^ AethicnB in liis Cosmographia : 'At the 6tli [i6th] mile- 
stone from the City the Tiber parts into two streams, making 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

Partus. 641 

trees provide the inhabitants with fire- wood, and book v. 

Ch. 18. 

a poor and coarse grass affords pasture to the not 

always inoffensive herds of buflSsJoes. A celebrated ^^^' 

temple stood here dedicated to the Great Twin 

Brethren, but even its site is now forgotten. At 

the end of the path however, just opposite Porto, 

we come to the ancient tower which marks the 

spot where once stood the church of Saint Hip- 

polytus, the cathedral church of Portus, separated 

from the city by the Tiber channel, and rightly 

named after the most famous bishop of that see, 

whose great work, a Kefutation of all Heresies, 

has in our own day been recovered for ecclesiastical 

literature ^ 

Again crossing in a ferry-boat the waters of Porto 

the Tiber, but this time the northern channel, we 

reach the village of Porto Modemo. The modem 

successor to Portus as a Mediterranean harbour 

is the little town of Fiumicino, two miles further 

down the stream. There we find a small wooden 

the island between Portns Urbis and tbe city of Ostia, whither 
the Roman people with the Prefect of the City or the Consul 
goes forth to celebrate sacred rites with solemn festivity. The 
island thus made by the Tiber is so green and pleasant that 
never, in winter or summer, does it fail to supply admirable 
grass for pasture. In spring it is so filled with roses and other 
flowers that for its abundance of tints and odours this island is 
called " ipsa Libanus (?) almae Yeneris." ' I take this quota- 
tion from Cluverius's Italia Antiqua, p. 879. 

^ It is thought by some that the title * Sacra,' which was borne 
by the island already in the time of Procopius (De BelL Ootth. 
i. 26), was given to it from this church. Others think it was 
from the festivals held upon it in honour of Caiitor and Pollux 
(Descrizione delle rovine, &c., 39, 40). 

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542 The Second Siege of Rome. 

BOOK V. pier projectmg into the sea, a few ships discharging 

\ L their cargoes, a row of tall lodging-houses, all 

*^ ' filled during a few weeks in spring by the crowd 
of bathers from Borne, aU empty and deserted in 
September from fear of the everywhere brooding 
malaria. Kere^ in this so-called Porto Modemo, 
which was really called into existence by Pope 
Gregory IV ^ a few years before the birth of our 
Alfred the Great, hard by the then ruined Portus 
of the Emperors, there are a modernised church, 
a mediaeval castle, in one room of which are col- 
lected the Latin inscriptions discovered in the 
neighbourhood : not much else to interest the 
archaeologist, except a fallen column, once no doubt 
forming part of the elder Portus, on which, rudely 
carved perhaps by the knife of one of his soldiers, 
appear five letters of the name of the glorious 
Vandal, 8tilicho«. 
Site of the Wc take a few steps northwards and find our- 

ancient ^ * ^ 

Portua. selves looking upon a piece of water which as it 
recedes from us becomes shallower, changes into 
rushes, into marsh, into firm land. We soon 
observe a certain regularity about its sides, and 
find that it is in fact a regular hexagon, each side 

Trajwi's nearly 300 yards long. Yes, this is the celebrated 
hexagonal harbour of Trajan. Long rows of mas- 
sive warehouses, in which were stored the rations 

» 827-844. 

' The letters are shaped thus : ST' LTC. The column is on 
the left-hand side of the gateway looking towards Ostia. Of 
•course the theory that they were carved by a soldier of Stilicho 
is mere conjecture. 

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Partus. 643 

of Egyptian and Sicilian com for all the people book v. 
of Bome^ were once mirrored in its waters : even 

yet some huge blpcks of masonry remain to show ^^ * 
how solid was their building. The greatest ships 
of the ancient world, ships of commerce and of 
war, laden with com or with legions, have glided 
in by the deep canal which is now represented 
only by a little brook that a child could step over, 
and have manoeuvred easily in the capacious dock 
which is now a reedy fish-pond. At each angle 
of the hexagon rose a column, crowned with a 
statue. On our right hand, full fronting the 
opening by which the ships entered the basin, 
stood a colossal statue of the founder himself^ 
the mighty Emperor Trajan. Now, almost on 
the same spot, one may see the neat villa of the 
present owner of Portus and Ostia and all the 
intervening and surrounding country, the Prince 
Torlonia. A fine herd of horses grazes on the 
margin of the pool : the frogs fill the air with 
their harsh melody : other signs of life there are 

Outside of the hexagonal basin, that is to the Harbour of 

_ CUkudiuB. 

north-west of it, was formerly the yet larger har- 
bour of Claudius, with a pier curving round to the 
north-east, the work of Theodoric. This is npw 
even more blended with the desolate Campagna 
than the work of Trajan. The name of Claudius 
is great at Portus as it is in the valley of the 

^ The head of this statue ib now in the Vatican, in the Sala 
del Meleagro. 

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544 The Second Siege of Rome. 

BOOKV. Anio. It was from this port that his fleet sailed 
^' ^^' for the conquest of the 'almost world-severed' 
^^^* island of Britain. The northern channel which 
he cut for the river had the double effect of 
making the new harbour possible and of re- 
moving the inundationJ3 with which Father Tiber 
had been wont to visit the city of his sons. A 
fair inscription, which was found some fifty years 
ago in the excavations of Cardinal Pallavicini 
and has been placed by his orders on the side 
of the modem carriage-road to Porto, records 
these beneficent labours of the dull-witted 
Emperor ^ 
state of We have yielded perhaps too long to the melan- 
PortuB at choly fasciuation of these scenes, once filled with 
BeiiBariuB. the lively hum of commerce, echoing to the voice 
of sailors from every country on the Mediterranean, 
and now abandoned to the bittern and the cor- 
morant. We must return to the sixth century and 
look upon them as they were seen by Belisarius. , 
Ostia in his time was no doubt far fallen from her 
former greatness, impoverished by five centuries of 
competition with the superior advantages of Por- 
tus ; but it was still a considerable commercial city : 
and Portus, except so far as the war itself had 

* The inscription runs thus : — 



TBIB • POTEST . VI . COS . IH . DESIGN . im . IMP . Xn . P . P 




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Ostia and Partus in the Sixth Century. 646 

injured its commerce, was probably well-nigh as book v. 
busy as in the days of Claudius. The great maga- "' 

zines stood there, all waiting for the corn-supplies 
of the Boman people, if only the light cruisers of 
Totila would allow them to be filled. The walls 
with which Constantino had enclosed the city and 
harboiu:, now mere grass mounds over which the 
horses gallop in their play, were then defensible 
fortifications, probably from twelve to fifteen feet 
high. Within the enclosure of these walls, which 
were about a mile and a-half in length, and flanked 
by the river and the sea, lay the army of Beli- 
sarius, who now again, as in his earlier cam- 
paigns, was accompanied by the martial Antonina. 
It is important to remember the difference be- 
tween the position of the combatants in 537 and 
in the present siege. Then, Ostia was held by 
the Bomans, and Portus was a Gothic strong- 
hold. Now, Portus is the one place of van- 
tage left to the Bomans in the neighbourhood 
of the capital, and Ostia is occupied by a Gothic 

The town of Portus was nineteen Boman miles^ Thenver 

1-11 DMrred. 

from Bome. About four miles above it, where the 
river was narrowest, Totila had caused a boom 
to be placed to block the passage of ships bear- 
ing provisions to the starving City. This boom 
consisted of long beams of timber lashed to- 
gether and forming a kind of floating bridge. 
It was protected by a wooden tower at either 

^ Equivalent to 17^ English miles. 
VOL. IV. N n 

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546 The Second Siege of Rome. 

BOOK V. end, and was yet further strengthened by an 
^' iron chain stretched across from shore to shore 
^^ ' a little below it, in order to prevent the boom 
from being broken by the mere impact of a hostile 
^ vessel. 
Prepara- The coimter-prepaKitions of Belisarius were very 
Beiisarins Complete. Having lashed together two broad 
the^-'* barges, he erected a wooden tower upon them 
"*^*' suflSciently high to overtop the bridge. Trusting 
nothing to chance, he had the measurements 
of the bridge taken by two of his soldiers who 
feigned themselves deserters. To the top of the 
tower a boat was hoisted filled with a combus- 
tible mixture, pitch, sulphur, rosin, an antici- 
pation of the dreaded * Greek fire ' of later ages. 
Surrounding the barges, and partly towing 
them, was a fleet of two hundred swift cutters^ 
laden with corn and other necessaries for the 
starving Romans, but also bearing some of the 
bravest of his soldiers, and turned into ships of 
war by high wooden ramparts on the decks, 
pierced with loop-holes for the archers. De- 
tachments of infantry and cavalry were also 
stationed at all the points of vantage on the 
bank to support the operations of the ships, and 
especially to prevent any advance of the enemy 
upon Portus. 
T?a»c of Having made these preparations, Belisarius en- 
in'ch!^ trusted the defence of the sea-port, containing as 
o ortus. 1^ jjj ^ j^j^ stores, his reserve troops, and above 

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Preparations for the relief of Rome. 547 

all his wife, to Isaac of Armenia, with a solemn book v. 
charge that come what might, and even should °'^^' 
he hear that Belisarius himself had fallen before *^^* 
the foe, under no conceivable circumstances was 
he to leave the post thus committed to him. At 
the same time he sent word to Bessas to support 
his movements by a vigorous sortie from the city 
against the Gothic camps. This message however, Bcwas win 
like so many others of the same kind, failed to operate, 
shake the ' masterly inactivity ' of the governor 
of Bome. The Goths had full leisure that day to 
concentrate their whole attention on the operations 
of Belisarius. 

With some labour the rowers urged the laden Suocessfui 
cutters up the river. The Goths, confiding in the the Gothic 
strength of their bridge and chain, remained quiet ^ 
in their camps. Soon they found out their error. 
The archers from the cutters dealt such havock 
among the Gothic guards on either shore that 
resistance was quelled and they were able to sever 
the chain ^ and sail on in triumph up to the bridge. 
Now the Goths perceived the danger and swarmed 
down upon the bridge. The fighting here became 
terrific. Belisarius, watching his opportunity, 
steered the floating tower close up to the Gothic 
fort commanding the north end of the bridge, 
which stood close to the water's edge. The boat 
laden with Greek fire was set alight and skilfully 
thrown into the very middle of the fort, which was 

* Did they employ divers? Procopius does not mention 

Nn 2 

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548 The Second Siege of Rome. 

BOOKY. at once wrapped in flames. In the conflagration 
^^^^' two hundred of the Gothic garrison, headed by 
^^' Osdas, the bravest of the brave, all perished. 
Encouraged by this success, the archers on board 
the Aromone^ sent a yet thicker shower of arrows 
at the Goths on the shore. Terror seized the bar- 
barian ranks; they turned to flee; the Bomans 
began to hew the timbers of the bridge to pieces ; 
the revictualling of the hungry city seemed abready 
Isaac ruing Scfemcd ouly. By ouo of those tricks of Fate 
unflucoMB. upon which our historian delights to moralise, in 
onOrtia. the vcry moment when he seemed to have won 
her, Victory flitted away out of the grasp of Beli- 
sarius. A rumour, perhaps a premature rumour, 
of the success of the morning s operations, especi- 
ally of the severing of the chain, reached the ears 
of Isaac at Portus. Forgetful of his general's 
solemn charge, and only envious at having no 
share in the glory of the triumph, he sallied forth 
with a hundred horsemen, crossed the Insula Sacra, 
and suddenly attacked the Gothic garrison of Ostia, 
who were commanded by the gallant Roderic. 
In the first skirmish Boderic was wounded, and 
his soldiers, whether from fear or guile, turned 
and fled. The Imperialists entered the camp, 
and foimd a store of money and other valuables 
therein, which they began to plunder. While 
they were thus engaged the Goths returned in 
greater numbers, easily overpowered the hundred 
Bomans, slew the greater number of them, and 

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Isaacs rashness ruins alL 649 

took the rest^ among whom was Isaac himself, book v. 

Ch. 18. 

prisoners. !_ 

The mere failure of this foolish attack would ^ ,?^^: 


have heen in itself no great disaster. But as bewildered 

^ , by the 

adverse Fortune would have it, a messenger es- tiding of 
caped from the field and bore the tidings to Beli- faUur©. 
sarins at the bridge, * Isaac is taken/ ' Isaac 
taken,' thought the General: 'then Portus and 
Antonina are taken too/ At this thought, says 
the historian, ' he was bewildered with fear, a 
thing which had never happened to him in any 
previous peril/ Yet even this bewilderment is for 
us the most convincing proof that they were 
chains of love, not of fear, which yet bound him 
to Antonina. He at once gave the signal for 
retreat, in the hope that by a speedy return he 
might surprise the victorious barbarians and rescue 
Portus from their grasp. When he reached the hib retreat 
seaport (which it is to be remembered was only quent ni- 
four miles from the scene of action), found all safe "***"' 
there, and recognised by what foUy of his subor- 
dinate and what mis-reading of the game by 
himself he had been cheated out of an already- 
assured victory, he was seized with such deep 
chagrin, that his bodily strength, perhaps already 
weakened by the unwholesome air of the Cam- 
pagna, quite broke down. He sickened with 
fever, which at one time caused his life to be 
despaired of, and for some months he was un- 
able to take any active share in the conduct of 
the campaign. 


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550 The Second Siege of Rome^ 

BOOKV. Two days after this battle Eoderic the governor 

^ "' ^^' of Ostia died, and Totila, enraged at the loss of 

^^^' his brave comrade, put his feeble Armenian captive 

to death — a deed not worthy of his fame\ 

Demorai- Mcanwhilo, in Rome, there was a daily in- 

the gam- crcBsing demoralisation among the soldiers of the 

Mn m 

Rome. garrison, Procopius attributes this entirely to 
the avarice of Bessas, who according to him was 
so intent on his traffic in com at ^mine-prices 
to the few still remaining citizens, that he neg- 
lected all the duties of a general, and prarposely 
refused to co-operate with Belisarius, knowing 
that the more the siege could be prolonged, the 
richer he would grow. It is almost certain that 
there is some exaggeration here. Bessas was a 
sufficiently capable soldier to know that if no 
watch were kept on the walls the city would 
be taken, and that then even the treasure fw 
the sake of which he had committed so many 
crimes would with difficulty be saved from the 
enemy. Perhaps the true explanation of his con- 
duct is this. He saw the fame which Belisarius 
had acquired by his year-long defence of Rome 
and determined to rival it. The secret of ihak 
success had been the refusal to spend the strength 
of the soldiers on useless sorties, and Bessas 

^ If, aB is very probable, the slain €k>th was tbe 
Roderic of whom Pope Gregory speaks (cap. xiy) as a ocae 
stant attendant upon the King's person, we can nnderst&od 
the especial resentment of the latter at the death of hii 
faithful servant. 

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Probable reasons of the inactivity of Bessas. 651 

showed that he had laid that lesson to heart, book v. 
But there were two reasons for his failure. In ^°' ^^' 
Totila he had to deal with a very different ad- **^* 
versary from the blundering Witigis, with an 
adversary who was also determined to waste 
none of his strength on useless assaults, who never 
hurried himself, but who by a slow, patient, 
scientific blockade consumed the life of Rome. 
And, what was even more important, the noble 
heart of Belisarius had saved him from that crime 
of callous indifference to the sufferings of non- 
combatants which Bessas forsooth gloried in, as 
showing his soldier-like disregard of all that did . 
not bear on the success of the great game, but 
which really lost him the great game itself. No 
doubt he enriched himself by sales of com at 
famine-prices to the Senators. None of these 
barbarian and semi-barbarian generals of Byzan- 
tium had any refined feelings of honour where 
money was concerned. But this can hardly 
have been his sole thought. He had a plan 
for the defence of Rome which he thought he 
could work out independently of the welfare 
or the sufferings of the citizens. And in that 
thought he was wrong even from the military 
point of view. Without the loyal help of the 
great mass of citizens it was impossible to 
keep the vast circuit of the walls effectually 
guarded, and one unguarded spot, on one dark 
night, might make all other precautions use- 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

562 The Second Siege of Rome, 

BOOKV. So much bj way of necessary protest before 
quoting the words of Procopius. * Neither in the 

ProcOT)iiia ***^c^ ^^ *^^ bridge, nor at any previous time, 
®^ ?l* ^ would Bessas assist as he was required to do. 

conduct of '■ 

^•»~- For he had still some com stored up, since the 
supplies previously sent to Bome by the magis- 
trates of Sicily had been intended both for the 
soldiers and the citizens ; but he, giving forth 
a very small quantity to the citizens, kept the 
largest part concealed, nominally on behalf of the 
soldiers, but really that he might retail it to the 
Senators at a high price. Of course therefore the 
end of the siege was the thing which he least 
desired \' *By his transactions in corn Bessas 
was growing ever richer, since the necessity of 
the buyers allowed him to fix the price ac- 
cording to his own fancy. Being wholly immersed 
in this business, he took no thought as to the 
watch upon the walls or any other measure of 
precaution, but if the soldiers chose to be remiss 
he allowed them to be so. Hence there were 
but few sentinels on the walls, and those very 
careless about their duty. The sentinel on guard 
at any given time might indulge, if he pleased, 
in long slumbers, since there was no one set 
over him to call him to account. There were 
none to go the rounds, as aforetime, to chal- 
lenge the sentinels and ascertain what they 
were doing. Nor could any of the citizens assist 
in this work of vigilance ; for, as I have before 
* De Bell. Gotth.iit i8 (pp. 356-7). 

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Digitized by 


Digitized by 


The Traitors at the Asinarian Gate. 653 

said, those who were now left in the City were book v. 
very few in number and terribly reduced in ^"' ^^' 
strength^' 546. 

According to the view suggested above, these 
last words of the historian contain the gist of the 
whole matter. The rest of the description does 
but pourtray the condition of a garrison demo- 
ralised by being set to perform a duty hopelessly 
beyond their powers. 

The Asinarian Gate — by which it may be re-POTUAai- 
membered Belisarius entered Kome in December 
536 — yet stands, with its two round towers, behind 
the Church of the Lateran, one of the finest 
monuments of the great defensive work of Aurelian 
and Honorius. The gateway itself is blocked up, 
and the mediaeval Porta S. Giovanni, a few yards 
to the east of it, now opens upon the great high- 
way to Albano, Capua, and Naples. Notwith- 
standing this alteration, however, there is still a 
lofty and well-preserved piece of the ancient wall, 
and nowhere do we find a better specimen than 
here, of the galleries through which the sentinels 
went their rounds, of the loopholes through which 
the archers shot, of the battlements by which the 
more exposed warriors above were partially de- 
fended. Upon this part of the wall there was a Treachery 
vigilia of four Isaurian soldiers, who, tired of the iwrarian 
siege, disgusted with their failing food, and mind- *^ ^ ' 
ful very probably of the kindness with which 
Totila had treated them after the capture of 
» De Bell. Gotth. iiL 20 (p. 360). 

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554 The Second Siege of Rome. 

BOOKV. Naples ^ resolved to betray the City to the Gothic 
^°' ^^' King. Letting themselves down by ropes from 
^^' the battlements, they sought the camp of the 
barbarians and unfolded their design to Totila. 
He thanked them warmly, oflFered them large sums 
of money if the City should be put in his power, 
and sent two of his guards to view the place 
where the Isaurians kept watch. The men 
cUmbed up by the ropes, inspected the fortifi- 
cations, heard all that the Isaurians had to say, 
and returned to report favourably of the project. 

*rotiU*B There was something about the Isaurians' de- 
meanour, however, which had roused the King's 
suspicion, and a second and even a third visit 
from them (their return being each time accom- 
panied by some of his own followers to examine 
the walls) was necessary before he would trust 
his army in their hands. This extreme caution 
on the part of the daring Totila had well-nigh 
proved fatal to the scheme. It chanced that 
the Roman scouts brought as captives into the 
City ten Gothic soldiers, who, being interrogated 
as to what Totila was meditating next, were 
foolish enough or disloyal enough to disclose, 
what had now become the talk of the camp, that 
he hoped to get possession of the city by the 
help of some Isaurians. Happily, however, Bessas 

* It will be remembered that the garrison of Naples wae 
composed of looo Isawrian soldiers under Conon, and that 
Totila graciously assisted them on their journey to Home. 
(See p. 456.) 

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The Asinarian Gate opened to the Goths. 565 

and Conon paid no further attention to the bookv, 
story, which was perhaps too vague to guide ' 

them to the very Isaurians who were meditating ^^ " 

When the third deputation, headed by a kins- The Asina- 
man of Totila himself, had returned, reporting opened to 
favourably of the Isaurians' proposal, the King ly^nec. 
at length made up his mind to accept the venture, ^^ * 
At nightfall the whole Gothic host, fully armed, 
was drawn up outside the Asinarian Gate. Four 
Goths, men conspicuous for valour and strength, 
mounted by ropes to the place where the friendly 
Isaurians were on guard, the other Koman sen- 
tinels being all wrapped in slumber. As soon as 
they were within the walls they hastened to the 
gateway. With rapid well-directed blows from 
their axes they severed the great bar of wood 
which kept the gates closed, and shattered the 
iron locks, the keys of which were of course in 
other keeping*. The work must have been speedily 
done, for the noise of blows like those would 
break the sleep of even the most over-wearied 
sentinels. Then they opened wide the gates, and 
without diflficulty or opposition, without striking 
a blow except at bolts and bars, the whole Gothic 
army marched in. 

^ We get this date from two sonrces ; the day and month 
from Marcellinns Comee, the year from Procopios. 

* Km TO r€ ^vKw wtktMO-i dia<l>^ipov<n¥, ^rp eWp<rf& roi^ou /icarc- 
pov ivapfiovBivTi rhs vvKas iin(fvyyvviu tlvBturioff rd re <rid^pia fvfi*- 
irayra, Oip d^ riit icXci^ dt\ ol <l>v\aK€t €fAPaXX6fAfvoi liicXcuSy rt riis 
irvkas Koi koto, njv XP^iaif ovcifiyoy. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

556 The Second Siege of Rome, 

BOOKV. After all, it seemed, the hundred and fifty 

^' thousand warriors who in the long siege left their 

*^ * bones under the grass of the Campagna had not 

died in vain. The * hoarded vengeance' of ten 

years might at length be reaped. The Goths 

were again in Bome. 

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' How doth the city sit BoUtary ihat was full of people 1 * 

Source: — 
Pbocopixjs, De Bello Gotthico, iii. ao-2a (pp. 362-373). book v. 

Ch. 19. 

When the Goths had entered by the Asinarian 5^6. 
Gate, Totila, still fearful of some treachery, caused ^^^^^j^L 
them all to halt in good order till day-light i^*^ ^"^«- 
dawned. Meanwhile, universal uproar and con- 
fusion reigned in the panic-stricken City. The 
three thousand Imperial soldiers streamed out of 
the ilaminian Gate^ even as the Gothic garrison 
had done ten years before. Bessas and Conon Flight of 
were mingled with the crowd of fugitives, notconon. 
being compelled by any exaggerated sense of 
honour to die upon the scene of their discomfiture. 
The best proof that Bessas was indeed taken 
unawares is furnished by the fact that all the 
treasure which he had accumulated at the cost 
of so much human suffering was left behind in 
his palace and fell into the hands of the Gothic 
King. Before the night had ended a messenger 

^ Ai^ itvKfi£ rrjs inpas probably means this, though they might 
escape to Fortus by the Porta Fortuensis. 

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658 Roma Capta. 

BOOKV. came in haste to tell the King of the flight of 
_ l!^ the Governor and his army. * Excellent tidings!' 
*^^' said Totila. * No ! I will not pursue after them. 
What more delightful news could any one wish for 
than to hear that his enemies are fleeing? ' Of the 
Boman nobles, a few who were fortunate enough 
to possess horses accompanied the flight of the 
army: the rest sought shelter in the various 
churches. Among the refugees we find the names 
of Decius and Basilius, the former perhaps de- 
scended from the Emperor^ and from the great 
Decii of the Republic, the latter probably the 
same nobleman whom we have already taken note 
of as the last Roman Consul^. Among the sup- 
pliants at the altars the names of Maximus', 
Olybrius*, and Orestes* also remind us, truly 
or falsely, of men eminent in the struggles of the 
preceding century. 
Bavageeof When day da\\Tied, Totila proceeded to St 
soldiery. Pctcr's basilica to return thanks to God for his 
victory. His soldiers roamed through the city, 
slaying and plundering. One horror usually ac- 
companying the sack of a captured city was ab- 
sent. No Roman maid, wife, or widow suflFered 
the least insult from any of the Gothic soldiery, 
so strict were the orders of Totila on this point, 
and so little did his subjects dare to disobey him. 

* Vol. i. pp. 51-54. 

* P. 421, and Usener, Anecdoton Holderi, p. 14. His foil 
name was Anicios Faustus Albinos Basilius. 

' Vol. ii. pp. 221-228, * Vol. ii. pp. 483-488. 

* Vol. ii. pp. 508-535. 

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Totila and Pelagius. 659 

The plunder of the Eoman palaxjes was, however, book v. 
freely permitted to them, on the somewhat am- ^°' ^^' 
biguous condition that the most valuable of the ^^^" 
property — meaning probably silver, gold, and 
jewels — ^was to be brought to the King to form 
the nucleus of a new great Gothic hoard. 

Thus then, amid the noise and confusion of the Totiia at^ 
plunder of a mighty city, amid the shouts of 
the slayers and the groans of the dying, Totila 
proceeded to the great basilica on the Vatican. 
Arrived there, he found the deacon Pelagius interview 

witli Pela- 

awaiting him, bearing a roll of the Sacred Scriptures gius. 
and expressing in every gesture the humility of 
a suppliant. * Spare thine own subjects, our 
Master M' said the submissive ecclesiastic. With 
a scoff which he could not forbear at the haughty 
demeanour of Pelagius on the occasion of their 
last meeting, Totila said, *Now, then, thou art 
willing to make requests of me.' *Tes,' said 
Pelagius, * since God hath made me thy slave. 
But spare thy slaves. Master! henceforward.' 
Totila listened to the request, and at once sent 
messengers all through the City, saying that, 
though the plunder might continue, no more blood 
was to. be shed. Already, twenty-six soldiers and 
sixty citizens had fallen under the swords of the 
Goths. The smallness of these numbers points 

^ ' ^tihov tSw <r»y, & httmora ' cf^rf . There is surely an allusion 
here to the words, * Spare Thy people, Lord, and give not 
Thine heritage to reproach ' (Joel ii. 1 7). The context of the 
verse gives great emphasis to the quotation. 

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560 Roma Capia. 

BOOK V. rather to the depopulation of the City than to the 

^"'^' humanity of the conquerors. Procopius was in- 

^* formed that only five hundred citizens were left 

in Borne, the greater part of whom had fled to 

the churches; nor does there seem any reason 

for supposing that he has underestimated this 

number, notwithstanding the vast contrast with 

the many myriads who once thronged the streets 

of the Eternal City ^ 

Condition The couditiou of the survivors of the Boman 

viving people was so miserable that death from the 

Gothic broadsword might seem in comparison 

scarcely an evil to be dreaded. Proud Senators 

and their delicately nurtured wives, clothed in the 

garb of peasants and of slaves, wandered about 

from house to house, knocking at the doors and 

craving from the charity of the Gothic warriors 

a morsel of food to keep the life within them. 

Among these abject suppliants was one whose 

tale seems to carry us back for two generations. 

The widow Rusticiana, the daughter of Symmachus and the 

thiufl. widow of Boethius, yet lived, and in these darkest 

days of her coimtry she had distinguished herself 

by the generosity with which she had devoted 

her wealth to the relief of her starving fellow- 

^ Gibbon Bays (v. 222, ed. Smith): 'The assertion that only 
five hundred persons [citizens] remained in the capital inspires 
some doubt of the fidelity either of his narrative or of his text' 
But it seems to me that the whole earlier and later course of 
his narrative agrees well enough with this statement. Of 
course all these statistical assertions require to be received 
with a good deal of caution. 

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The Widow of Boethius. 561 

citizens. She too was now a humble petitioner book v. 
for a morsel of bread. When the Goths discovered ^' ^^'- 
who she was, many of them clamoured that she *'*^' 
should be slain, the chief crime of which she was 
accused being that she had given -money to the 
Roman generals as the price of their consent to 
the destruction of the statues of Theodoric. Her 
resentment against the sovereign who had put 
her husband and father to death is easily under- 
stood : but it is not probable that either Belisarius 
or Bessas would require much persuasion to induce 
them to sanction the destruction of the visible 
emblems of the great Ostrogoth. True or false 
as the story might be, TotUa refused to allow 
Rusticiana to be molested on account of it, and 
gave strict orders that the venerable lady should 
be treated with all courtesy. We hear nothing 
more concerning her, and with this incident the 
family of Boethius passes out of history. 

On the day aftor the capture of the City, Totila TotiU's 
addressed two very diflferent harangues to two to the 
very different audiences. The Goths were all 
gathered together, — surely in the same Forum 
which once echoed Cicero's denunciations against 
Catiline, and Antony's praises of the murdered 
Julius : — and here their King congratulated them 
on an event which he almost described in Crom- 

well's words as 'a crowning mercy,' so urgently 
did he insist on the truth that it was not by 
human strength, but by God's manifest blessing 
on the righteous cause, that the victory had been 

VOL. IV, o 

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562 Roma Capta. 

BOOKV. won. *At the beginning of the war, 200,000 
"' valiant Groths, rich in money, in arms, in horses, 
**^' and with numbers of prudent veterans to guide 
their counsels \ lost empire, life, liberty, to a little 
band of 700a Greeks. Now, fix)m more than 
20,000 of the same enemies ^ a scanty remnant 
of the nation, poor, despised, utterly devoid of 
experience, had wrested' the great prize of the 
war. Why this difference? Because aforetime 
the Goths, putting justice last in their thoughts, 
committed, against the subject Eomans and one 
another, all sorts of unholy deeds : but now they 
had been striving to act righteously towards all 
men. In this resolution, even at the risk of 
wearying them, he besought them to continue. 
For if they changed, assuredly God's favour to- 
wards them would change likewise, since it is not 
this race or that nation, as such, on whose side 
God fights, but He assists all men everywhere who 
honour the precepts of eternal righteousness*/ 
It is not without a feeling of pain that we pass 

* Ka2 y€p6yr»p (wrrurdroiv vokw ^cXoy, owtp roit <V oywMlff 
KoBurrafuvots (yfi<f>opJntKrov c&ai doxcl. PoBsibly, like the English 
in the Crimea, the followers of Witigis were overweighted with 
the experience of veteran soldiers. 

* This is no doubt the sum total of the Imperial troops in 
Italy, not in Rome, the number of the latter being, as we 
know, 3000. I think this is the only indication that we have 
of the size of the Imperial army at this time. 

* Ov yhp apOpcnrav ycvci ovii <l>wret tBpav ^Vfjftax*lv «u»BtP [^ 
^€^(], aXX* otp ibf fiaXXov 6 rod dixaiov Xoyor rc/i^o. Golden words, 
whether Totila or Procopius be the true author of them, and an 
admirable answer to the war-cry of some modem politicians, 
* Our country, right or wrong.* 

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Totilds harangue to the Senate. 663 

from the Forum to the Senate House, and listen book v. 
to the bitter words with which the Gothic King ^°' ^^' 
rebuked the cowering Senators of Rome. He ?^f* 
reminded them of all the benefits which they had harangue 
received at the hands of Theodoric and Athalar^c ; Senate. 
how these Kings had left in their keeping all the 
great offices of state and had permitted them to 
accumulate boundless wealth^; and yet after all 
this they had turned against their benefactors 
and brought Greeks into the common fatherland. 
'What harm did the Goths ever do you? And 
now tell me, what good have you ever received 
from Justinian the Emperor ? Has he i^ot taken 
away from you almost all the great offices of 
state? Has he not insulted and oppressed you 
by means of the men who* are called his Logo- 
thetes? Has he not compelled you to give an 
account to him of every aolidus which you received 
from the public funds even under the Gothic 
Kings? All harassed and impoverished as you 
are by the war, has he not compelled you to pay 
to the Greeks the fiill taxes which could be levied 
in a time of profoundest peace?* With words 
like these, the boldness of which astonishes us ii^ 
a subject of Justinian, though he does put them 
into the mouth of a Gothic King^ did Totila 

^ The words are important as a description of Theodoric's 
system of government : HoXX^ wp6g rt ecvdcpi^ou ttaX *AT<ikapixov 
ayaBa ire-novB&res^ iv\ t€ 1^9 <>PX$^ &Kd<rns mnoi is ati Karaardvrfi jcal 
riiv Tt iroXiTCioy dtoticriird^vo^, vXomv T€ vtp^f^rjfUvoi fiiya ri 


' And this hinted disapprobation of the Emperor's govern- 


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564 Roma Capta. 

BOOKV. lash the wincing Senators even as an angry master 

Ch. 19. 

scolds his slaves. Then, pointing to Herodian, 
^^ ' the former Roman General, and to the four Isau- 
rian deserters, ' These men,' he said, ' strangers 
and aliens, have done for ns what you our fellow- 
citizens^ failed to do. Herodian received us into 
Spoleto, the Isaurians into Bome. Wherefore 
they, our friends, shall be received into the places 
of trust and honour, and you henceforward shall 
be treated as slaves.' 
Peiagius Not a siuglc Senator dared to make an answer 
CoMtanti- to this torrcnt of upbraiding. Pelagius, however, 
soothed the wrath of Totila, begged him to have 
compassion on the fallen, and obtained from him 
a promise of kinder treatment than his speech 
had foreshadowed. The Deacon, who had evi- 
dently acquired considerable influence over the 
mind of Totila, was now (after solemnly swearing 
speedily to return) sent to Constantinople, in 
company with a Roman orator named Theodore, 
to propose terms of peace. 
TotiU'g The letter which they bore was in the following 

justiniMi. words: *I shall keep silence about the events 
which have happened in the City of the Romans, 
because I think you will have already heard 
them from other quarters. But I will tell you 
shortly why I have sent these ambassadors. I 
pray you to secure for yourself and to grant 

ment in the De Bellis is a strong confirmation of the genuine- 
ness of the Anecdota, 

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Totilds letter to Justinian. 565 

to 118 the blessings of peace. You and I have book v. 
excellent memorials and models in Anastasius ^°' ^^' 
and Theodoric, who reigned not long ago, and ^^^' 
who filled their own lives and those of their 
subjects with peace and all prosperity. If this 
request should be consented to by you, I shall 
look upon you as a father, and gladly be your 
ally in whatsoever expedition you may meditate.' 
The written courtesies of the letter were sup- 
plemented by a verbal threat, that if the Emperor 
would not consent to peace, the Eternal City 
should be rased to the ground, and Totila, with 
his triumphant Goths, would invade the provinces 
of lUyricum. The only reply, however, which Ju»tiiiian 
Justinian deigned to make to either courtesies to Beiisa- 
or threats was that Belisarius had full powers for 
the conduct of the war and any proposals for 
peace must be addressed to him. 

Meanwhile the war in Lucania, under the guid- Touia's 
ance of TuUianus, who had gathered the peasants required iu 
of the province round him, was being prosecuted 
with some vigour. Three hundred AntaB, wild 
mountaineers from the hills of Bosnia^, were hold- 
ing the fastnesses of the Apenaines against all 
comers, and successfully repulsed some followers 
of Totila who were sent to. dislodge them. The 
Gothic King was desirous to transfer his operations 
to the South of Italy, but feared either to weaken 

' Probably. They were neighboors of the Slovenes (see 
Procop. De B. G.iii. 14), but one cannot pretend to locate these 
niyrian tribes with perfect accuracy. 

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566 Roma Capta. 

BOOK V. his army by leaving a garrison in Rome, or to give 
^°' ^^' Belisarius, still lying sick at Portus, the chance 
on/-^ird ^^ rccovering it if left uogarrisoned. In these 
^J*^^^ circumstances, from no blind rage against the 
f S^ prostrate City, but simply as a matter of strategy, 
he decided to make it untenable and uninhabit- 
able. He thr^w down large portions of the walls, 
BO that it was roughly computed^ that only two- 
thirds of the line of defence remained standing. 
He was about to proceed to burn all the finest 
buildings in Rome, and turn the City by the 
Tiber into a sheep-walk, when ambassadors were 
announced who brought a letter from Belisarius. 
BeiiBariM 'Fair cities,' said the General, * are the glory 
Totiianot of the great men who have been their founders, 
the Sty. and surely no wise man would wish to be re- 
membered as the destroyer of any of them. But 
of all cities under the sun Rome is confessed to 
be the greatest and the most glorious. No one 
man, no single century reared her greatness. A 
long line of kings and emperors, the united efforts 
of some of the noblest of men, a vast interval of 
time, a lavish expenditure of wealth, the most 
costly materials and the most skilful craftsmen 
of the world, have aU united to make Borne. 

^ *0<rov «ff TpiTrift6piov rov vcarrbg fiaXiara, I have no doubt that 
this is a very loose and conjectural statement ; and it is pro- 
bable that a careful survey of the wall, assigning to each part 
its approximate date, would greatly reduce the proportion of 
wall destroyed by Totila. The analogy to the proceedings of 
Gaiseric in Africa (vol. ii. p. 537) will naturally suggest itself 
to the reader. 

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Totila dissuaded from destroying Rome. 567 

Slowlj and gradually hasT each succeeding age book v. 

there reared its monuments. Any act, therefore, ^Jl L 

of wanton outrage against that City will be re- ^^ ' 
sented as an injustice by all men of aU ages, by ' 
those who have gone before us, because it effaces 
the memorials of their greatness, by those who 
shall come after, since the most wonderful sight 
in the world will be no longer theirs to look upon, 
Bemember too, that this war must end either in 
the Emperor s victory or your own. If you should 
prove to be the conqueror, how great will be your 
delight in having preserved the most precious 
jewel of your crown. If yours should turn out 
to be the losing side, great will be the thanks due 
from the conqueror for your preservation of Rome, 
while its destruction would make every plea for 
mercy and humanity on your behalf inadmissible. 
And last of all comes the question what shall 
be your own eternal record in history, whether 
you will be remembered as the preserver or the 
destroyer of the greatest city in the world.' 

Belisarius, in writing this letter, had not mis- 
calculated the temper of his antagonist. Totila 
read it over and over again, laid its warnings to 
heart, and dismissed the ambassadors with the 
assurance that he would do no further damage 
to the monuments of the Eternal City. He then Totiia 
withdrew the greater part of his troops to Mount Rome, but 
Algidus^ a shoulder of the high Alban mount, a^oy it. 

' It seems necessary to translate ^Kkytfi^v Algidos, but the 
topographical indications do not fit. Procopius describes it as 

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568 Roma Capta. 

BOOK V. about twenty miles south-east of Kome, and marched 

^ "• ^^' himself into Lucania to prosecute the war against 

^^^' John and his eager ally Tullianus, The Senators 

had to follow in his train, unwilling hostages. 

Their wives and children were sent to the chief 

cities of Campania. Rome herself, though not 

ruined, was left without a single inhabitant 

Would it The archaeologist who reads how narrowly Eome 

h*ve been ^ ^ 

better for thus escapcd destructiou at the hands of Totila 

oiogy if may, at first, almost regret that he was prevented 

laid the from carrying his purpose into effect. There 

roiM? would then, so he thinks, have been one mighty 

conflagration, in which all that was of wood must 

have perished, but which the mighty walls of 

temple and palace would assuredly have survived. 

Then the City would have become a wilderness of 

grass-grown mounds, amid which the shepherd of 

the Campagna might have wandered while his 

goats nibbled the short grass in the halls of 

Emperors and Consuls. The successive sieges by 

Lombard, Norman, and German, the havoc wrought 

by ignorant feudal barons, the yet worse havoc 

of statue-hunting Papal Nephews, the slow but 

ceaseless ruin effected by the * little citizens' of 

Rome, whose squalid habitations burrowed into 

the foundations of temple and forum and theatre, 

the detestable industry of the lime-kilns, which 

west of Eome, whereas Algidns is a little south of east : and 
though from that high vantage-ground the troops might ob- 
serve Belisarius at Portus, they were surely too distant to 
impose any effectual check on his movements (^«x diy fufit/u^ 
MX!"^ dvyor^ uq rocf ift/^X BeXwraptov ?^ mi rov Ji6pnv ccmu). 

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Could Rome have perished ? 569 

for ten centuries were perpetually burning into book v. 

mortar the noblest monuments of Greek and Roman — L 

art, — all this would have been avoided, and the ^^^' 
buried city might have lain hidden for twelve 
centuries, till another Layard or another Schlie- 
mann revealed its wonders to a generation capable 
of understanding and appreciating them. 

But no : this could never have been. The she must 
religious memories which clustered around Rome rebuut. 
were too mighty to allow of her ever being thus 
utterly deserted. If Rome herself in the plenitude 
of her power could not obliterate Jerusalem, much 
less could the Northern barbarians cause Rome 
to be forgotten. The successor of St. Peter must 
inevitably have come back to the tombs of the 
Fisherman and the Tent-maker ; pilgrims from all 
the countries of the West must have flocked to 
the scenes of the saints* martvrdoms: convents 
and hostelries must again have risen by the Tiber ; 
and in the course of centuries, if not of a few^ 
generations, another city, not very unlike the 
Rome of the Middle Ages, would have covered 
the space of the marble-strewn sheep-walk left 
by Totila*. 

^ The view here arged of the practical indestmctibility of 
Rome is strongly supported by the somewhat similar case 
of Aquileia. If ever an ancient city was thoroughly destroyed, 
Aquileia was thus destroyed by Attila : and as a city of com- 
mercial or political importance she never did rise again. But 
ecclesiastically the city revived, and the Patriarch of Aquileia 
was for centuries one of the most important personages in the 
countries of the Hadriatic 

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Sources t — 
BOOK V. Peocopius, De Belb Gotthico, iii. aa-30 (pp. 37*-405). 
^°- ^^* For the later history of Belisarius, the close of the Fifih 
Book of AoATHiAS, the younger contemporary and continuer 
ofProcopius: Theopuanes (758-816), and the authorities 
quoted in the Note at the end of the chapter. 

546-547. After the capture of Rome a space of a month 
or two elapsed marked bj no great operations on 
either 8ide^ 
Totiia Totila, as has been said, marched into Lucania 

i!^Lu- dragging the Senators in his train. By their orders 
the peasants {cdoni) npon the senatorial estates 
laid down their arms, and Lncania was for a time 
recovered by the Goths. The Senators were then 
sent to rejoin their wives and children in the cities 
of Campania, where they dwelt nnder a strong 
Gothic guard. Totiia pitched his camp first on 

^ The notes of time given hy Procopius for the eleyenth 
year of the war (546-547) are exceediDgly indistinct. Bat 
Marcellinus Comes tells as that Totiia, hy the craft of the 
Isaurians, entered Home on the 17th of Decemher [546]. As 
he speaks of Rome lying desolate forty days after Totila's 
deyastations, we may probahly put its recapture by Belisarius 
about the 9th of February 547, allowing fourteen days for 
Totila's occupation of the City, 


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Totila inarches Southwards. 671 

the high hill of * windy Garganus/ jutting out book v. 
into the Hadriatic Sea. Here, accotding to Pro- ^ .' 
copius, he occupied the vety same lines of en- ^*^' 
trenchment which had been defended by the troops 
of Hannibal during the Second Punic War^. 

Spoleto, which had been won by the treachery Spdeto 
of Herodian, was lost to the Goths by the treachery Goths, 
of Martian, a feigned deserter who won the favour 
of Totila, obtained the command of the fortress 
which had been made out of the amphitheatre 
adjoining the town, and handed it over to some 
Imperial troops invited thither from Perugia 2. By 
the loss of this position the Goths' free use of 
the Maminian Way was doubtless somewhat inter- 
fered with^ 

John sallied forth from his stronghold at Hy- John at 
druntum and occupied Tarentum, which, though 
situated on the sea-coast, by its position at the 
head of its own gulf afforded nearer access into 
the heart of Apulia. He prudently narrowed his 
line of defence*, abandoning all that part of the 

^ '£y r^ 'Avinfia rot) Aiftvog ;(apaic»/iiari orparoTrcdcvo-Jficvoff, i<^XV 
tfiiev€P, I have not found that any other writer speaks of an 
encampment of Hannibal on Mount Oarganus. Is it possible 
that Procopius is thinking of Totila's other camp on Mount 
Algidus, which is not &r from the site still pointed out as that 
of the Campo di Annibale, near Monte Gavo ? 

' The commander of these troops at Perugia was now ' Oldo-^ 
gandon the Hun.' 

^ Not absolutely taken from them, since, for this part of 
the way, there was the altemative route by the uplands of 

* Procopius's description of John's proceedings at Tarentum 

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572 The Re-occupation of Rome. 

BOOK V. town which lay outside the isthmus, and here took 
^i^ up a position of considerable strength. Totila, as 
*^^* a counter-move, quartered four hundred men at 
AcherontiaS a high hill-city on the borders of 
Lucania and Apulia, a well-chosen position for the 
over-awing of both provinces. He then marched 
away towards the north, to menace Bavenna, but 
was soon recalled by tidings as unwelcome as 
they were unexpected. 
Borne in For the spacc of six weeks or more after its 
tion. evacuation by Totila, Rome had been left, we are 
told, absolutely empty of inhabitants*. Few com- 
paratively of the cities and towns in her world- 
wide dominion had to pass through this strange 
experience of an absolute cessation of the life 
which had beat in them for centuries. This 
breach in the continuity of her history, short as 
it was, makes Rome the companion in adversity 

(p. 376) is illustrated in an interesting way by the alterations 
in the camps on the Roman Wall in Northumberland, where 
gateways have been blocked up or reduced in size in order to 
make the camps tenable by a smaller for-ce than that for which 
they were at first intended. 

^ The ' bird's nest of lofty Acherontia,' as Horace calls it, is 
situated in the neighbourhood of Mons Yultur, and about 
fifteen miles from the poet's birth-place, Yenusia. His descrip- 
tion of himself (Sat. 11. i. 34-35)— 

'Lucanus an Appulus anceps, 
Nam Venusinus arat finem sub utrumque colonus' — 
would be even more applicable to an inhabitant of Acherontia. 

' * Suffering not a single person to remain in Rome, but 
leaving her absolutely desolate,' are the words of Procopius. 
' After which devastation,' says Marcellinus Comes, ' for forty 
days or more Rome was so desolate that no one, either man or 
beast, remained there,' 

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Forty days of Desolation. 573 

of Eburaciim and Deva and the other * waste book v. 
Chesters ' of our own island, and puts her to that . 
extent in a different category from cities like Paris, ^'^^' 
Lyons, and we may perhaps add Augsburg and 
Cologne, in which the daily routine of civil life 
has gone on without interruption from the first 
or second century after Christ till modem days. 

As soon as Belisarius was able to rise from the Beiiaariui 
bed on which his fever had prostrated him at Rome and 
Portus, he was possessed with a desire to see for re-occupy 
himself the extent of ruin at Rome ; and then 
there gradually took shape in his mind a scheme 
for the recovery of the City, so bold and original 
that it at first seemed like a dream of delirium, 
but was soon recognised by those who beheld its 
accomplishment as a master-stroke of genius ^ His 
first reconnaissance of the City, made with only one 
thousand soldiers, was interfered with by the Goths 
from Mount Algidus, who were, however, defeated 
in the skirmish which followed. On his second 
visit, made with all the troops under his command, 
except a small garrison left at Portus, the march was 
accomplished without any such interruption. He 
had decided in his own mind that the rents in the 
line of defence made by Totila, though great, were 
not irreparable. All his own soldiers, and all the 
people from the country round who flocked into 
Rome, attracted both by the spell of her undying 

^ ficXctrapi^ dc rSk^a irpofiTjBfis t6t9 yiyovtv, apx^v fiiv fUOfMris 
bo^ava thcu tois re 6pwri Koi wcovova-i npwrov^ iicfiaaa di is dptr^ 
tpyov {n^Xop rt ml daifiovi^s inripoyKOP, 

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574 The Re-occupation of Rome. 

BOOK V. name and by the abundant market for proviaons 

— ^! L which the General immediately established there, 

^^^* were set to work to rebuild the breaches in the 
walls. There was no lime; there could be no 
pretence of regularity in the work. Great blocks 
of tufa from the old wall of Servius, where these 
were nigh at hand\ where they were not, rubble of 
any kind that could be had, were thrust into the 
interstices. The fosse which had been dug for the 
first siege was fortunately still unfilled, and a 
rough palisade of stakes was now added to the 
fosse*. So eagerly did all work that in the space 
of fifteen days the whole circuit of the walls was 
in some fashion or other repaired ; only the gates 
which Totila had destroyed could not be replaced 
for want of skilled workmen in the City. So great 
and so rapid a work of national defence, accom- 
plished by the willing labour of soldiers and citi- 
zens, had perhaps never been seen, since Dionysius 

B.0. 4oa. in twenty days raised those mighty fortifications 
which we still see surrounding, but at how great 
a distance, the dwindled city of Syracuse '. 

Totila re- When Totila heard the news of the re-occu- 

tnniB and , n -rx 

attacks the patiou of Bomo he marched thither with all the 
!^e?^^ speed of anger and mortification. His army 

^ FrocopiuB does not mention this &ct, but it is abundantly 
evident to any one who examines tbe walls that each a trans- 
ference has taken place at some time, and no time is more 
likely than that with which we are now dealing. 

' Again we have to notice the combination of ditch and 
palisade, so well illustrating the Qerman term FfMgraben. 

• Diodorus, xiv. i8. 

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Rome fortified against the Goths. 675 

bivouacked along the banks of the Tiber, and at book v. 
sunrise on the day after their arrival, with wrath °'^^' 
and clamour attacked the defenders of the wall **^' 
The battle lasted from dawn till dark, and was 
fought with all the obstinacy which the one party 
could draw from their rage, the other from their 
despair. To make up for the absence of gates, 
Belisarius stationed all his bravest champions in 
the gateways, there, like Horatius, to keep the foe 
at bay by the might of their arms alone. His 
less trustworthy troops, and perhaps some of the 
civic population, were ranged upon the walls, and 
from their superior elevation dealt deadly damage 
on the barbarians. When night fell the besieffers He is r©- 


withdrew from the attack, forced to confess to one 
another that it was a failure. While they were 
tending their wounded, and repairing their broken 
weapons, the Komans were further strengthening 
their defence by planting caltrops (tribuli) in all the 
gateways. These instruments, minutely described 
by Procopius, were made of four spikes of wood or 
iron, so fitstened together at one end that however 
the trihulus was thrown, there would always be 
three of the spikes resting securely on the ground 
and the fourth projecting upwards — an effectual 
precaution, as Robert Bruce proved at Bannock- 
bum, against a charge of hostile cavalry. 

Next day the Goths again made a fierce assault. Second 
and were again repulsed. The besieged made a 
vigorous sally, but pursuing too far were in some 
danger of being surrounded and cut to pieces. 

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676 The Re-occupation of Rome. 

BOOK V. They were rescued, however, by another sally or- 
^°' ^^' dered by Belisarius, and the barbarians retired. 

ThiPd^ Some days passed, and again the Goths rushed 

attock. with fury to the walls. Again the Roman cham- 
pions sallied forth — from the absence of gates it 
was probably hard to resist without making a 

SucceMfui sortie — and again they got the best of the con- 

BomiMui. *flict. The standard-bearer of TotUa fell stricken 
by a mortal blow, and the royal ensign drooped in 
the dust. Then followed a Homeric combat round 
the dead man's body. The barbarians by a sword- 
stroke through the wrist succeeded in rescuing 
the left hand, which still grasped the standard, and 
was adorned with a gay armlet of gold. The rest 
of the body was seized and stripped of its armour 
by the Romans, who retired with little loss to the 
City, while the Goths fled in disorder. 

Discontent It was too clcar that Kome was indeed lost. 

GothB with The fateful City was again held by the invincible 
General, and all the past labours of the barbarians 
were in vain. Bitterly did the Gothic chiefs now 
reproach their King for not having either rased the 
City to the ground or occupied it in force. A few 
weeks before they had all been chanting the praises 
of * the wise, the unconquered King, who took city 
after city from the Romans, and then marring 
their defences, sprang forth again like a hero to 
fight in the open fields' Such however, as the 

* I have expanded the words of Procopius, but I think he 
means us to understand that such was the burden of the Qothic 

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Totila retreats from Rome. 577 

historian sadly remarks, is the inconsistency of book v. 
human nature, and it is not likely that men will 

ever act more nobly ^. ^^'^' 

Slowly and reluctantly did Totila leave his ToiAia re- 
rival in undisputed possession of the great prize. Tibar 
He retreated to Tivoli, breaking down all the ^ ^ ' ' 
bridges over the Tiber* to prevent Belisarius 
from following him. The city and citadel of 
Tibur which the Goths had before destroyed were 
now rebuilt by them, and received their arms 
and their treasure. If Kome could not be retaken, 
at least Belisarius might be kept in check from 
this w^ell-placed watch-tower. Possibly while the 
bulk of the Gothic army took up its quarters 
on the hill, in sight of the Sibyl's Temple and 
within hearing of the roar of Anio, their King 
may have lodged in the vast enclosure in the 
plain below, a city rather than a palace, which 
goes by the unpretending name of 'the Villa of 

Meanwhile Belisarius, free from molestation. The keys 
caused gates to be prepared and fitted into the sent to 
empty archways round Rome. They were bound 
with iron and fitted with massive locks, the keys 
of which were sent to Constantinople. Amid all 
his anxieties Justinian could once more feel him- 
self Emperor of Rome. And so ended the twelfth May. 547. 

^ *AAXck ravra fiiv luil ra TOtavra ovx ol6v ri cWi fi^ ov^l rois dyBpa- 
nois cV acl AfiapToPtaBcu^ infl km (fwo'ti yiyvtvBcn tla$€. 

■ Except the Ponte Molle, which was too near to the City 
for him to destroy it. 

VOL. IV, P p 

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678 The Re-occupation of Rome. 

BOOKv. year of the war and the third year of the second 

Ch. 20. J r -n r • 

command of Behsanus, 

^^^' There are times when the Muse of History seems 

sMsioii of to relax a little from the majestic calm with which 
leMun- she tells the story of the centuries. A smile 
than it appears to flicker round her statuesque lips as 
"^"^ ' she tells of Cleon forced to go forth to war against 
Sphacteria, and returning, contrary to the expect- 
ation of all men, with his three hundred Spar- 
tan prisoners; of the Genoese besieging Venice, 
and themselves sealed up in Chioggia; of the 
leaders of the Fourth Crusade setting out to 
fight with the infidels and destroying the Christian 
Empire of Constantinople. With even such a 
quiver of amusement in her voice does she de- 
scribe Belisarius slipping, like a hermit-crab, into 
the shattered shell of Empire which was called 
Bome, and making it in so few days into a fortress 
which he could hold against all the onsets of the 
angry Totila. It seems doubtful, however, whether 
the exploit was worth all the trouble and risk 
which attended it. The importance now attached 
to the possession of Rome was chiefly a matter of 
sentiment: its re-occupation had little practical 
effect on the fortunes of the war. 
Limiteof It may be fairly inferred, firom the not very 

Gothic and . / . . . 

Roman prccisc information given us by Procopius, that 

oocapation. , , *f x. 

at this time the north and centre of Italy were 
almost entirely in the possession of the Goths. 
The only exceptions appear to have been Ravenna 
and Ancona on the northern Hadriatic, Perugia 

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Justinian starves the war. 579 

in Tuscany, Spoleto in Umbria, and Rome with book v.. 
her neighbour Portus. Samnium, Campania, and '^'^^' 
Northern Apulia were for the most part strongly ^^^* 
held by the Goths. Calabria was so far dominated 
by the ports of Otranto and Taranto that it might 
be considered as a possession of the Emperor s. 
In Lucania, the hostile family of Venantius were 
perpetually endeavouring to rekindle the flames 
of loyalty to the Empire. Bruttii probably, and 
Sicily certainly, obeyed the generals of the Em- 

One reason for the languid and desultory cha- JuBtinian 
racter of the war was the determination of the war. 
Emperor to spend no more money upon it than 
he could possibly help. From the slender remains 
of loyal Italy, Belisarius had to squeeze out the 
funds necessary for the support of his own army 
and that of John, not neglecting, it is to be feared, 
to add to his own stores in doing so^. Another BLword in 
cause was the evident want of hearty co-operation rial anny. 
between the two generals, due to the fact that 
one belonged to the party of Germanus and the 
other to that of Theodora, at the court of the 
Emperor. This discord between John and Beli- 

^ ProcopiuB in tlie Anecdota (cap. 5) Bays : ' Never did Beli- 
sarius show himself so keen after ignoble gain as at this time, 
having received no supply of money from the Emperor, but 
spoiling without mercy the inhabitants of Ravenna and Sicily 
and any other places which might be in the obedience of the 
Emperor, forcing them to render accounts to him for all 
their past lives ' [that is, no doubt, for taxes and public moneys 
which had passed through their hands]. 

P p 2 

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580 The Re-occupation of Rome. 

BOOK V. sarius was referred to with satisfaction by Totila 
°' in a long harangue which he deKvered to his 
**^" soldiers before marching oflF to form the siege of 

TotiU's Perugia. In it he frankly admitted that he 
knew that they looked upon him with dissatis- 
faction for not having hindered the re-occupation 
of Home ; confessed, in substance if not in express 
words, that this was a blunder ; but pleaded that 
he had not shown himself deaf to the teachings 
of experience, and urged that the step taken by 
Belisarius was one of such extreme rashness, that, 
though it had been justified by success, he could 
not, by the laws of war, have been expected to 
anticipate it^ 

John Not long after this harangue the Gothic King 

dash into lost his othcr great prize of war, the Senator- 
' hostages in Campania, John, who had for some 
time been vainly besieging Acherontia, made a 
sudden dash into that province, marching night 
and day without stopping. He had reached Capua, 
and might have effected his purpose without blood- 
shed, had not Totila, with a kind of instinctive 
apprehension of some such design, also sent a 
detachment of cavalry into Campania. The Gotliic 
horsemen, who had been marching rapidly, reached 
Minturnse (close to the old frontier of Latium and 
Campania and about forty miles from Capua), but 
were in no fit state for marching further that day. 
The least fatigued of the horsemen — about four 

^ This epeech seems to me to have more of Procopius and less 
of Totila in it than most of its kind. 

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The liberation of the Senators. 681 

hundred in number — were mounted on the freshest book v. 
of the horses and pushed forward to Capua, where ^°' ^^' 
they stumbled unawares upon the whole of John's' .^^^ 
army. In the skirmish that ensued this little at Capua. 
band was naturally worsted. The survivors, few 
in number, galloped back to Mintumae, scarcely 
able to describe what had befallen them, but the 
streaming blood, the arrows yet fixed in the 
wounds, told the tale of defeat plainly enough. 
Hereupon the whole body of cavalry retreated in 
all haste from Minturnse, and when they reached 
Totila, gave him an exaggerated account of the 
number of the enemy, in order to excuse their own 

John meanwhile proceeded, unhindered, to liberate The 
the Senators and their wives from captivity. Of ri^vered. 
the senatorial ladies and their children he found the 
tale complete : but many of the fathers and hus- 
bands had escaped to Belisarius at Portus, and con- 
sequently needed no deliverance. There was one 
Eomian noble, Clementinus by name, who fled to a 
church in Capua for refuge from the unwelcome 
rescuers. He feared the vengeance of the Em- 
peror for his too ready surrender to the Goths of 
a fort in the neighbourhood of Naples, and abso- . 
lutely refused to accompany the army of John. 
Another Koman, Orestes by name, who had filled 
the office of Consul, and whom we heard of at the 
capture of Rome as a refugee at the altar of St. 
Peter's, longed to accompany the array of deliver- 
ance, but could not, being unable to find a horse 

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682 The Re-occupalion of Rome, 

BOOKV. to bear hira to their camp. All the rescued pri- 

^"' ^^' soners were straightway sent to the safe harbour- 

^^*' age of Sicily, together with seventy Boman soldiers, 

formerly deserters to the army of Totila, who had 

now returned to their old allegiance. 

Tottia'g Great was the vexation of Totila when he 


•long the learned that he had lost these valuable hostages. 
Determining at least to be revenged, and knowing 
that John, who had retreated into Lucania, would 
carefully watch all the roads leading to his camp, 
he marched rapidly along the rugged heights of 
the Apennines, till at nightfall he was close to the 
camp of the enemy. He had ten thousand men 
with him, John but one thousand. If he could 
but have restrained his impatience till daybreak, 
he might have enclosed his enemy as in a net : but 
in his rage and haste he gave the signal for attack 
at once, and thereby lost much of the advantage 
john'B of his superiority in numbers. About a hundred of 
^^!" the Romans were slain, some of them still only half- 
awake, but the rest escaped. Among the latter 
were John and the Herulian chief Arufus, who 
seems to have been his right hand in this enter- 
prise. Among the few prisoners was an Armenian 
general, Gilacius by name, who, though in the 
service of the Emperor, knew no tongue but his 
native Armenian. The. Gothic soldiers, fearful in 
the confusion of the night of killing one of their 
own friends, asked him who he was, to which he 
could make no reply but Gilacius Strategos (Gi- 
lacius the General), over and over again repeated. 

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The Armenian Strategos. 583 

By often hearing the honourable title Strategos, book v. 
he had just succeeded in learning the name of his °' 
own dignity. The Goths, who soon perceived that ^^*^' 
he was no officer of theirs, took him prisoner ; and 
we regret to find that, not many days after, the 
unfortunate Oriental, * who knew neither the Greek 
nor the Latin nor the Gothic language,' was put 
to death by his Teutonic captors. John with the John re- 
remains of his army succeeded in reaching Otranto, otmnto. 
and again shut himself up in that stronghold. 

For two years after this skirmish no event of great Two years 
importance occurred, but, as far as we can judge tory fight- 
from the not very lucid narrative of Procopius, 54^' to 549. 
the Imperial cause slowly receded. Justinian sent 
indeed fresh troops to Italy, but only in driblets \ ^f^^^' 
and commanded by incapable generals. Incapable mentsfirom 

•^ ^ . ° ^ CoMtanti- 

through want of self-restraint was the fierce Heru- nopie. 
lian Verus, who was constantly in a state of in- dA^nkard! 
toxication. He landed at Otranto, marched with his 
three hundred followers to Brindisi, and encamped 
near to that town. Seeing his force thus en- 
camped in an undefended position, Totila ex- 
claimed, * One of two things must be true. Either 
Verus has a large army, or he is a very imwise 
man. Let us go, either to make trial of his strength 

^ Somewhat more than 2000 men were sent in the autumn 
of 547, viz, : A few men under Pacuriufl son of Peranius, and 
Sergius nephew of Solomon; 300 Heruli under Verus; 800 
men under Warazes the Armenian; more than 1000 under 
Valerian, Magister Militum of Armenia. Again (in the summer 
of 548), 2000 infantry were sent to Sicily, apparently to form 
a reserve for the Italian army. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 

584 - The Re-occupation of Rome, 

BOOKV. or to punish him for his folly/ He axlvanced, 
°'^ ' easily routed the little band commanded by the 
^^^' drunken Herulian, and would have driven them 
into the sea but for the sudden and accidental ap- 
pearance of Byzantine ships in the ofling^ bearing 
Warazes and eight hundred Armenians. 

Valerian Incapable, from utter lack of courage and every 
soldierly quality, was Valerian, who had held the 
high post of Magister Militum in Armenia, but 
was transferred to Italy with more than one thou- 
sand men to co-operate with John and Belisarius. 

^ec- 547- He lingered for months at Salona, afraid of the 
storms of the Hadriatic. Then, when a council of 
war was held at Otranto, and a march northwards 
into Picenum was resolved upon, he would not 
face the perils and hardships of the march, but 
took ship again and sailed tranquilly to Imperialist 
Ancona, where he shut himself up and hoped for 
better days. Evidently he was one of those gene- 
rals whose chief care is to keep their own persons 
out of the stress of battle. 

Defence of The ouly interest of these two campaigns lies in 
the defence of Roscianum (now Rossano). The 
story of this place takes us back — it is true, by 
a circuitous route — to the very dawn of Hellenic 
history. At the westernmost angle of that deep 
hollow in the foot of Italy which is named the 
Gulf of Tarentum stood, in the eighth century 
before the Christian era, the mighty Achaian city 

story of of Sybarfs. The wealth derived from the splendid 
fertility of her soil (though now her ruins lie 

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Sybaris and Crotona. .536 

hidden in a fever-haunted morass), as well as book v. 
from a profitable commerce with the shepherds on 

the Apennines behind their city, enabled the aris- 
tocrats of Sybaris early to acquire that reputation 
for unbounded luxury which has made their name 
proverbial. It was Smindyrides, a citizen of Syba- 
ris, who was the first utterer of the complaint con- 
cerning the crumpled rose-leaf in his bed, and who 
declared that the sight of a peasant working in the 
fields overwhelmed him with fatigue. The neigh- 
bour and rival of Sybaris was the city, also 
populous and powerful, of Crotona, which stood 
at the south-east angle of the Gulf of Tarentum. 
Thither, in the sixth century before Christ, fled 
the languid aristocrats of Sybaris, expelled by a 
popular rising, and by a tyrant the child of revo- 
lution. That tyrant, Telys, insolently demanded 
the surrender of his enemies, but the demand was 
refused by the citizens of Crotona, trembling in- 
deed before the power of Sybaris, but nerved to 
great deeds in the cause of hospitality by the 
exhortations of their guide and philosopljer, 
Pythagoras. In the battle which ensued, thcB.c 510. 
multitudinous host of the Sybarites was defeated 
by the army of the southern city, commanded by 
the mighty Milo of Crotona, famous for ever as an 
athlete, and yet also a disciple of Pythagoras. 
The Crotoniates advanced, sacked the rival city, 
and, so it is said, turned the river Crathis over its 
ruins, that none might know where Sybaris had 

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686 The Re-occupatton of Rome. 

BOOK V. All this happened in the year 510 B.C., the same 
"' year in which, according to tradition, the Tarquins 
were driven from Kome. 
^^o^ Nearly seventy years later (b.g. 443) the Athe- 
nians, on the earnest entreaty of the descendants of 
the Sybarites, sent a colony to the desolate spot; 
and in the near neighbourhood of the obliterated 
city rose the new settlement of Thurii, best known 
in history from the fact that Herodotus was one of 
its original colonists and spent his old age within 
its walls. But either because the mouth of the 
river Crathis had become unnavigable, or for some 
other reason, it had been found necessary to estab- 
lish the docks and harbour of Thurii close to the 
promontory of Koscia, twelve mUes south of the old 
Building of city. In the hills, some seven or eight miles west 
num. of these docks, the Bomans built a strong fortress 
which bore the name of Boscianum, and is repre- 
sented by the modern city of Bossano, with an 
archbishop and twelve thousand inhabitants ^ 
Refugees In Eosciauum was now collected a considerable 
anum. number of wealthy and noble Italians, refugees from 
that part of Italy which was occupied by the bar- 
barians. Conspicuous among them was Deopheron, 
son of Venantius and brother of Tullianus, a mem- 

* Following the writer in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and 
Roman Geography, I speak with some uncertainty as to these 
topographical details. The sites of Syharis and Thurii are 
both doubtful, and the language of Procopius (p. 396) is not 
very clear. The statement in the Itinerary of Antonine, * A 
Turiis ad Roscianum M. P. xii,* is the most precise piece of 
information that we have. 

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Campaign of Roscianum. 687 

ber of a femily animated by bitter hostility to the book v. 
Gothic rule. John had sent from his army for the ^°' ^^' 
defence of Koscianum three hundred Ulyrians, under ^^^' 
the command of Chalazar the Hun, an excellent 
soldier, who seems to have been recognised as head 
over the whole garrison. Belisarius had only been 
able to spare one hundred foot-soldiers for the 
same service. 

Early in 548 Belisarius, who with his martial sidnmah 
wife had sailed round to Crotona, sent a further of the 
detachment of soldiers to relieve Eoscianum. They 
met, apparently by accident, a smaller force sent 
by Totila to attack it. In the skirmish which fol- 
lowed the Goths were completely defeated and 
fled, leaving two hundred of their number dead 
upon the plain. While the victors were lapped in 
all the security of success, leaving the passes un- 
guarded, pitching their tents wide at night, and 
wandering afar for forage by day, suddenly Totila, 
with three thousand men, burst upon them from 
the mountains. Vain was the might of Phazas, the victory of 

° Totila. 

brave Iberian from Caucasus, upon whose quarters 
the blow first descended, to turn the tide of battle. 
He fell fighting bravely in the midst of a band of 
heroea Much fear came upon the Komans when they 
knew him to be dead, for they had expected great 
exploits from him in the future. Barbatian, one of 
the body-guard of Belisarius, who had shared the 
command with Phazas, fled with two of his com- 
rades from the field, and brought the grievous 
news to his master. Belisarius, who seems to have 

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588 The Re-occupation of Rome. 

BOOK V. been alarmed for the safety of Crotona itself, leaped 
"• ^' on shipboard — probably Antonina accompanied him 
548. — g^^j sailed for Messina, which, so fair was the 

Flight of . ... 

BeiiMriua. wind, hc reached in one day, though distant ninety 

miles from Crotona, 
Ineffectual Hard pressod by Totila after this ineffectual 

atteiiq>tto . 

peUeye attempt to relieve them, the garrison at length 
by sea. agreed to surrender Roscianum if no help should 
reach them by the middle of summer (548). The 
appointed day had just dawned, when they saw on 
the horizon the friendly sails of the Bjzantine 
ships. Belisarius, John, and Valerian had met in 
council at Otranto, and had decided to send a fleet 
to the help of the beleaguered city. The hopes of 
the garrison being raised by this sight, they refused 
to fulfil their compact. A storm, however, arose, 
which the captain dared not face on that rock- 
bound coast, and the ships returned to Crotona. 
Many weeks passed, and again the Byzantine ships 
appeared in the offing. The barbarians leaped 
upon their horses and moved briskly along the 
shore, determined to dispute the landing. Totila 
placed his spearmen here, his bowmen there, and 
left not a spot unoccupied where the enemy could 
land. At that sight the Romans* eagerness for 
the fight vanished. They let down their anchors ; 
they hovered about, beholding tlie docks and Ros- 
cianum from afar : at length they weighed anchor 
and sailed back to Crotona. 
Surrender Another couucil of war was held. The generals 

ofRoscia- ^ 

num. resolved to try to effect a diversion. Belisarius 

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Roscianum surrenders. 589 

was to revictual Rome, the others were to march book\^. 
into Pieenum and attack the besieging armies there. ^°' ^^' 
It was upon this occasion that Valerian distin- 5^^* 
guished himself by not marching, but sailing to 
the friendly shelter of Ancona. But all these 
operations were in vain. Totila refused to be 
diverted from the siege of Roscianum; and the 
unfortunate garrison, who had only been tantalised 
by all the attempts to succour them, sent Deopheron 
and a Thracian life-guardsman of Belisarius named 
Gudilas to cry for Totila's mercy on their unfaith- 
fulness. To Chalazar the Hun, whom he looked 
upon as the chief deceiver, the King showed him- 
self unpitying. He cut off both his hands and 
inflicted on him other shameful mutilations before 
he deprived him of life. The rest of the garrison 
were admitted to the benefit of the old capitu- 
lation. The lives of all, and the property of as 
many as chose to accept service under the Gothic 
standard, were left uninjured. The result was 
that all the late defenders of Roscianum, but 
eighty, gladly enlisted with the barbarians. The 
eighty loyal soldiers made their way in honour- 
able poverty to Crotona. Not one of the Italian 
nobles lost his life, but the property of all was 
taken from them. 

Belisarius had now been for more than four HumiUat- 

ing pofli* 

years in Italy, and, chiefly on account of thetionof 
miserable manner in which his efforts had been jnne, 548.' 
seconded by his master, he had but a poor account 
to render of his exploits during that time. * He 

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590 The Re-occupation of Rome. 

BOOKV. had never really grasped the land of Italy during 
this second command,' says Procopins, who cannot 

^^' forgive the triumph of Antonina, and who seems 
to delight in trampling on the fragments of his 
broken idol. *He never made a single regular 
march by land, but skulked about from fortress to 
fortress, stealing from one point of the coast to 
another like a fugitive ; and thus he really gave 
the enemy boldness to capture Rome, and one 
might almost say the whole country ^' His one 
really brilliant exploit, the re-occupation of Rome, 
had not, as we have seen, materially affected the 
fortunes of the war. It was time certaialy that 
he should either be enabled to achieve something 
Miwion of greater, or else quit Italy altogether. Antonina 
toConstan- accordingly set out for Constantinople to obtain 
^"^ ®' from her patroness an assurance of more effectual 
succour than the Imperial cause in Italy had yet 
received. When she arrived she found that an 
event had occurred which changed the whole 
Death of aspcct of affairs at the court of Justinian. On the 
I July, 548. ist of July, 548, Theodora, the beautiful and the 
remorseless, died, after a little more than twenty- 
one years of empire. When we read that the cause 
of her death was cancer ^ of an exceptionally viru- 
lent type, even our remembrance of the misdeeds 
of Theodora is well-nigh swallowed up in pity for 
her fate. 

^ De Bello Gotth. iii. 35 (p. 427). 

* ' Theodora Augosta Chalcedonensis Synodi immica cancri 
plaga corpora toto perfuea vitam prodigiose finivit' (Vict 
Tunnon. ap. Boncalli, ii. 372). 

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Antonina obtains the recall of Belisarius. 691 

Antonina, on arriving at Constantinople and book v. 
hearing of the death of her Imperial friend, at ^^'^^' 

once decided on the necessary changes in her , ^^^l 

^ o Antonina 

tactics- For the last six or seven years tedious b«»k» off 
negotiations had been carried on between the two ment be- 
ladies for the marriage of a grandson of Theodora daughter 
with Joannina, only child of Belisarius, and heiress grandson 
of all his vast wealth. Long had Antonina, while dora. 
seeming to consent to this match, secretly op- 
posed it. And now, though her daughter's heart 
was entirely given to her young betrothed, perhaps 
even her honour surrendered to him, the cold 
schemer relentlessly broke off the engagement. 
We hear nothing more of the fate of either of the 
lovers ; but it seems probable that the daughter 
of Belisarius died before her father ^ 

As for the Italian expedition, Antonina recog- Antonina 
nised the impossibility of now obtaining from the recaU of 
parsimonious Emperor the supplies of men and 
money without which success was impossible. 
Germanus, noblest and most virtuous of all the 
Emperor s nephews, would be now indisputably 
the second person in the state, and if any laurels 
were to be gathered in Italy they would without 
doubt be destined for him. She confined herself 
therefore to petitioning the Emperor for the lesser 
boon of the recall of her husband, and this favour 
was granted to her. Early in the year 549 Belisa- 
rius returned to Constantinople, with wealth much 

^ This may be inferred from the fact that the fortune of 
BelisarioB after his death went into the Imperial Treasury. 

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592 The Re- occupation of Rome. 

BOOKV. increased but glory somewhat tarnished by the 
°' events of those five years of his second command. 
^^^' Justinian, upon whom the hand of Chosroes was 
at that time pressing heavily, had some thought 
of employing him again in the Persian War, but 
though he was named Master of the Soldiery *per 
Orientem,' we find no evidence of his having again 
taken the field for that enterprise. He also held 
the rank of general of the household troops S and 
he took precedence of all other Consuls and Patri- 
cians, even those who had held these dignities for 
a longer period than himself. 
Latter To ciid our noticc of the career of the great 

Beiia«riu8. General it will be necessary to travel a little 
beyond the period properly covered by this 
Hamjish In the year 559 great alarm was created in the 
of Thrace, provinccs of Mocsia and Thrace by the tidings that 
the Kotrigur Huns had crossed the frozen Danube. 
What relation the tribe who were called by this 
uncouth name may have borne to the countrymen of 
Attila it might be diflBcult to say. They seem to 
have acknowledged a closer kinship with the Utigur 
Huns who dwelt alongside of them north of the 
Danube than with any other race of barbarians ; 
but the attitude of the two clans to one another 
was not friendly, and the favour shown by the 
authorities at Constantinople to the Bomanising 
Utigurs was one of the pretexts upon which the 

^ T»p paatkiK&v (ros/xaro^vXaxtty apx^P (De Bell. Qotth. iy. 2l). 
Probably this is equivalent to ' Magister Militum in Praesenti.' 

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Inroad of the Huns. 693 

more savage Eotrigurs took up arms against the book y. 

•CI • Ch. 20. 


Under the command of their King Zabergan the ^^^' 
horde of savage horsemen swept across the ill- 
defended plains of Moesia and through the Balkan 
passes into Thrace. Thence, like Alaric of old/ 
Zabergan sent one division of his army south- 
wards to the cities of Greece, the inhabitants of 
which were dwelling in fancied security. An- 
other division ravaged the Chersonese, and hoped 
to effect a passage into Asia. The third division 
dared to move towards the Imperial City itself. 
To their own astonishment doubtless they found 
their progress practically unopposed. The wall of 
Anastasius, the breakwater which has so often 
turned back the tide of barbaric invasion, was not 
at this time in a state capable of defence. Earth- 
quakes had levelled parts of it with the ground, 
and the Emperor, who had despatched conquering 
expeditions to Carthage and Rome, and imposed 
his theological definitions on a General Council, 
wanted either the leisure or the money needful for 
the obvious duty of repairing this line of fortifi- 
cations. Over the crumbling heaps pressed King 
Zabergan and his seven thousand horsemen. 
Wherever they went they spread terror and de- 
solation. Two captives of illustrious rank fell 
into their hands, — Sergius, the Magister Militum 
per ThraciaSy and Ederman, son of that Grand 
Chamberlain Calopodius whose name twenty-seven 
years before had been uttered with shouts of exe- 
VOL. rv. Q q 

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594 The Re-occupation of Rome. 

BOOK V. cration by the Green party in the Hippodrome at 
^°' ^^' Constantinople^. On the ordinary inhabitants of 
^^^' this district — ^the Home Counties as we should say 
of the Byzantine Empire — the hand of these savage 
spoilers fell very heavily. A vast crowd of cap- 
tives were dragged about with them in their wan- 
derings. Nuns torn from the convent had to 
undergo the last extremity of outrage from their 
brutal conquerors. Pregnant women, when the 
hour of their distress came upon them, had to 
bring forth their little ones on the highway, un- 
tended, unpitied, and unsheltered from the gaze 
of the barbarians. The children bom in these 
terrible days were left naked on the road as the 
squalid host moved on to some fresh scene of de- 
vastation, and were a prey to dogs and vultures. 

The Hum Amid such sccncs of terror the savage Kotri- 

peneirate , , , 

within gurs reached the little village of Melantias on 
mUee of the rivcr Athyras, eighteen miles from Constanti- 
tinopie. nople, a point on the road to Hadrianople about 
seven miles further from the capital than the 
celebrated suburb of San Stefano, to which in our 
own time the invaders from across the Danube 
penetrated ^. There was universal terror and 

^ See vol. iii. p. 6i8. We get these names from Theophanes. 
I have added *per Thracias' to the title of Sergius, con- 
jecturally. It occurs in the Notitia. 

* Both San Stefano and Melantias (now Buyuk Tchekmadg^) 
are described in Walsh's Journey from Constantinople (1828). 
The modem name of Melantias signifies ' Great Bridge,' and is 
derived from the extraordinary length of the bridge over the 
Athyras, which consists of twenty-six arches. 

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Inefficiency of the Scholarii. 695 

dismay in the sovereign city, and men eagerly book v. 

asked one another what force there was to resist ^ 1 

the invader. The mighty armies of the Empire, ^^^' 
which in her prosperous days had amounted to 
six hundred and forty-five thousand men, had 
dwindled in the time of Justinian to one hun- 
dred and fifty thousand ^ And of this diminished 
force some were in Italy, some in Spain ; some 
were watching the defiles of the Caucasus, and 
some were keeping down the Monophysites in 
Alexandria. The number of real fighting men 
available for the defence of the capital was so 
small as to be absolutely contemptible. There The Scho- 
was, however, a body of men, the so-called 
Scholarii ^ the Household Troops of the Empire, 
who, like the life-guards of a modern sovereign, 
should have been available for the defence not 
only of the palace, but of the capital also. But 
eighty years of indiscipline had ruined the effi- 
ciency of a body of troops which under Theodo- 
sius and his sons had contained many men, of 
barbarian origin indeed, but the bravest soldiers in 
the army. Zeno, we are told, had commenced 

^ As this is an important passage for the statistician, I will 
quote it in the very words of Agathias : T^ yap t&v *Pa»fiauBi/ 
arpartv/iaraj ov roaavra ^laiuyxvriK&ra &n6<ra r^v apxffv vtt^ t&v irakai 
fiatrCkwv i^tuprfToiy ts tXaxitrrrjv dc riva ftoipav ir€pi(\66yra, ovKert rf 
fuyiBn Tfjs irdkiTfias e^^pKovv. Aew ycip is V€VT€ xal Tea-orapdKovTa 
KcA i$aK(Hrias x'^^^^^ ftaxlfMP dvfy&¥ rrfp Skrip aytiptaBai Bvvafjuwf 
fuSXif iv T^ Tore els irevrriKovra mil ixarbv [^CKtdbas] v€pui<rTf}Kn 
(Hist. V. 1 3 ; pp. 305-6, ed. Bonn). 

' Perhaps the Yexillationes Palatinae and Legiones Palatinae 
of the Notitia Orientis (cap. v). 


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696 The Re-occupation of Rome. 

BOOK V. the downward course by filling the ranks of the 

Cr 20 

— ! — 1 Scholarii entirely with his own pampered Isau- 
*^^' rian countrymen. Since then the process of 
decay had continued. To wear the gorgeous 
costume of a sckolariusy to have access to the 
palace, and to be employed about the person of 
the Emperor had seemed so desirable to the 
rich citizens of Constantinople that they had 
offered large sums to have their names entered 
on the muster-rolls. The Emperors, especially 
Justinian, hard pressed for money, had gladly 
caught at this means of replenishing their coffers: 
and thus it came to pass that at this crisis of 
the nation's need a number of splendidly-dressed 
luxurious citizen-soldiers, entirely unused to the 
hardships and the exercises of war, were, with 
one exception, all that could be relied upon to 
beat back the wild hordes of Zabergan. 

Alarm of That exception was a little body of veterans, 

Justinian. * ^ "^ 

not more than three hundred in number, who had 
served under Belisarius in Italy. To them and 
to their glorious commander all eyes were now 
turned. The Emperor, now probably in the 
seventy-seventh year of his age, and no longer 
sustained by the proud spirit of the indomitable 
Theodora, was seized, apparently, with such fear 
as had prostrated him during the insurrection of 
the NiKA. He gave orders that all the vessels 
of gold and silver should be stripped from the 
churches iu the suburbs and carried within the 
City He bade the Scholarii, and even the Sena- 

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Belisarius again General. 697 

tors themselves ^ assemble behind the gates of book v. 
the wall with which Theodosius II had encom- ^°' ^^' 
passed Constantinople. And, last mark of the ^^^' 
extremity of his fear, he consented to invest Beli- 
sarius with the supreme command, notwithstand- 
ing the unslumbering jealousy with which he 
regarded the greatest of his servants. 

Belisarius, who seems, notwithstanding his illus- BeUaarius 
trious oflBces, to have been virtually living in take the 
retirement since his return from Italy, accepted mand. 
the charge laid upon him and donned the breast- 
plate and helmet which had been for ten years 
unworn. Though still only in middle life (for, if 
our computation of his birth-year be correct, he 
was but fifty-four, and he cannot possibly have 
been more than two or three years older *), he 
seemed to those around him already outworn 
with age^. The terrible anxieties of even his 
most triumphant campaigns, the strain of the 
long siege of Kome, the fever at Portus, above 
all the exquisite misery of the quarrel with 
Antonina, had aged him before his time. 

But with the familiar sensation of tha helmet Hie plan of 
and the breastplate worn once more came back^ 

' We get this fact from Theophanes : Kal ntpi9<f>v\amp rits 
v6pT€is ndiras tov rci^ovr rov Q€o^io<ruucov al SxoXac, km ol TLpmK^ 
Top€f, Koi ol *Api3fjto\ Koi tratra ^ IvyKKrjTos, The *Api$fiol (Numeri) 
represent the rank and file of the ordinary troops. I cannot 
state the exact relation between Scholae and Frotectores, who 
must both haye been of the Household troops. 

* Since he was vinyi^r, a beardless stripling, in 526, thirty- 
three years before the Hunnish invasion. 

' KtKfjfffKas ffiri vir6 rvv yfiptig. 


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598 The Re-occupation of Rome. 

BOOKV. much of the martial energy of former days. 

Ch. 20. 


Leaving perhaps the dainty Scholarii to man 
the walk of Constantinople, he went forth with 
his three hundred veterans, with all the horses that 
he could collect from the Circus and from the Im- 
perial stables, and with a crowd of rustics eager 
to taste what they supposed to be the pleasures 
of war under the command of the unconquered 
Belisarius. The General accepted their service, 
determining to avail himself of their numbers 
to strike terror into the enemy, but to give them 
no chance of actually mingling in the fray. He 
pitched his camp at the village of Chettus ^, bade 
the peasants draw a deep ditch round it, and, as 
of old at the relief of Rimini, kindled his watch- 
fires on as broad a line as possible, that the bar- 
barians might form an exaggerated idea of his 
numbers. Seeing that his veterans were indulging 
in too contemptuous an estimate of their enemy, 
and already counting the victory as won, he ad- 
dressed them in a military harangue, in which 
he explained that while he fully shared their 
conviction that victory was possible, it was so 
only on the condition of strict obedience to hig 
orders. Nothing but Roman discipline strictly 
observed could enable their little band to triumph 
over the savage hosts of Zabergan \ 

^ I do not find any identification of this site, but it was 
probably about half-way to Melantias. 

' It is interesting to compare this oration, feeble and difiuse 
as it is, with the speeches reported by Procopius. The slyle is 

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Tactics of Belisarius. 699 

Still intent on deceiving the enemy as much book v. 

Ch. 20. 

as possible, he ordered his rustic followers to cut 
down trees and trail them about in the rear of ^^^' 
every column of his troops, so raising a cloud of 
dust which masked their movements, and gave 
them the appearance of a mighty multitude. Then, 
when two thousand of Zabergan's horsemen ad- 
vanced towards him, by a skilful disposition of 
his archers in an adjoining wood, he so galled 
the enemy with a well-directed shower of arrows 
on both flanks, that he compelled them to narrow 
their front and charge him at that part of his line 
where he knew that his hardy veterans would 
repel them. And during the whole time of the 
engagement the rustics and the citizens of Con- 
stantinople were ordered, not to fight, but to keep 
up such a shouting and such a clash of arms 
against one another as might convey to the minds 
of the barbarians the idea that a desperate en- 
counter was going on somewhere near them. 

These tactics, quaint and almost childish as they victory 
seem to us, proved successful. The advancing Huns. 
Huns were vigorously repulsed by the handful 
of Italian veterans; they were dismayed by the 
shouting and the clash of arms ; they turned to 
fly, and in flight forgot their Parthian-like accom- 
plishment of discharging arrows at a pursuing foe. 
Belisarius did not dare to follow them far lest he 
should reveal the weakness of his little band ; but 

very inferior, but the thoughts are substantially the same that 
we meet with in many of those speeches. 

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600 The Re-occupation of Rome. 

BOOK V. four hundred slaughtered Huns, and the hot haste 
in which Zabergan returned to his camp, suffi- 

^*^' dently showed that victory rested with the Im- 
perial troop& Constantinople at any rate was 
saved. The Huns marched back to the other side 
of the wall of Anastasius, and renounced the hope 
of penetrating to the capital. 
Recaoiof The victory might have been made a decisive 
""' one had Belisarius been continued in the command, 
but as soon as Constantinople was delivered from 
its pressing danger, that jealousy of the great 
Greneral, which had become a second nature with 
the aged Emperor, resumed its sway. Belisarius 
was curtly and ungraciously ordered to return to 
the City, and the Kotrigurs, as soon as they 
heard that he was no longer with the army, ceased 
to retreat. The rest of the Hunnish campaign 
need not here be described. It was ended by the 
payment of a large sum of money by Justinian, 
nominally as ransom for Sergius and the other 
captives, but really as a bribe to induce the Kotri- 
gurs to return to their old haunts by the Danube. 
Their hostile kinsmen the Utigurs fell upon them 
in their homeward march, and inflicted upon them 
such grievous slaughter that they never after ven- 
tured on an invasion of the Empire. Both of 
these offshoots of the great Hunnish stock were 
in fact soon uprooted and destroyed by the irrup- 
tion of the terrible Avars. 
His return Belisaiius ou his retum to Constantinople was 
tinopie. hailed with shouts- of joy by the common people, 

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Belisarius accused of Conspiracy. 601 

who beheld in him their deliverer from all the book v. 
horrors of barbarian capture. For a little time — '. — L 
his appearance in the streets and in the Forum ^^^* 
was as veritable a triumph as when he returned 
from the siege of Bavenna. Soon, however, the 
jealous temper of the sovereign, the calumnies 
of the courtiers, the envy of the nobles, who seem 
never to have been reconciled to his rapid elevation, 
prevailed over the enthusiasm of the populace, 
and Belisarius became again, as he had been for 
ten years previously, a man who, though possessed 
of wealth, of renown, and of nominal rank, was 
devoid of any real influence in State affairs. 

Three years after his victory over Zabergan, BeUwuiuB 
Belisarius was accused of connivance at a con- conspiring 
spiracy against the life of Justinian ^. The con- ^i^an, 
spiracy, which was set on foot by one Sergius ^ ^' 
(a person of obscure rank^ and not to be con- 
founded with the Magister Militum who had been 
taken captive by the Huns), was apparently an 
affair of no political importance, a mere villainous 
scheme to murder a venerable old man during 
his siesta : and being revealed by a loquacious 
confederate to an oflScer of the Imperial house- 

* We get all our information as to this conspiracy from 
Theophanes (pp. 201-2, ed. Parifl, 1655). It must be remem- 
bered tbat he begins his years with the commencement of the 
Indiotion (ist Sep.), and conBequently the disgrace of Belisarius 
in December and his restoration to favour in the following July 
are included in the same year. 

* He was grandson of the Curator Aetherius. The Curator 
was probably not higher in rank than ClarissimtM. 

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602 The Re-occupation of Rome. 

BooKV. bold, was suppressed without difficulty. In their 
fall, however, the detected murderers endea- 

*^^' voured to drag down the great General. They 
declared that Belisarius himself had been aware 
of the existence of the conspiracy, and that his 
steward ^ Paulus by name, had taken an active 
part in their deliberations*. The accused men 
being arrested, and probably put to the tor- 
ture, confessed that Belisarius was privy to the 

5 Dec. 563. plot. On the fifth of December the Emperor con- 
voked a meeting of the Senate, to which he pro- 
ceeded in state, accompanied by the Patriarch 
Eutychius. He ordered the confessions to be read 

Beiiflarins iu the prcseucc of the assembly. Belisarius, on 
hearing himself accused, showed not so much of 
indignation as of misery and self-abasements 
Justinian, though his anger was hot against the 
accused General, suflPered him to live, but took 
away his guards and his large retinue of servants, 
and ordered him to remain in his house under 
surveillance. This state of things lasted for seven 

19 July, months. On the nineteenth of July in the folio w- 

restored ing year the veteran General was restored to all his 
former honours and emoluments, and received again 
into the favour of Justinian, who had probably 

* Curator. 

^ For some reaBon which is not explained the plot seems to 
have been chiefly concocted by silversmiths. Marcellus, Isaac, 
and Vitus, all conspirators, or accused of being so, were also all 

' So I think we must understand the words of Theophanes : 

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Death of Belisartus. 603 

satisfied himself that the accusation which he had book v. 
previously believed was a mere calumny invented ^' 
by ruined and desperate men. 

Nearly two years after this, Belisarius died, Death of 
preceding his jealous master to the grave by about Mar. 565/ 
eight months. His wife Antonina, according to 
one late and doubtful authority, also survived him, 
but retired after his death into religious seclusion ^ 
His property, that vast wealth for the sake of 
which he had endured so much humiliation and 
allowed so many stains to rest on his glory, was 
appropriated, perhaps after the death of his widow, 
to the necessities of the Imperial Treasury ^. 

Such, as far as we can now ascertain it, is 

^ If Antonina was living at this time she mnst have been, 
according to Procopius's statement, eighty-two years old (since 
he makes her sixty in 543). The only authority for her sur- 
vivorship of Belisarius is the Anonymous author of Antiquitates 
Gonstantinopolitanae (in Banduri's Imperium Orientale, part i. 
P« 37) ed. Paris), who, in describing the Church of St. Pro- 
copius, says that it occupied the site of the Palace of Yigilantia 
erected by Justinian, and that 'Antonina, the wife of Belisarius 
the Magister, who was Mistress of the Bobes (C»<^) to Theo- 
dora the wife of Justinian, after her widowhood fixed her 
residence here with Yigilantia, and by her persuasion the 
Church of St. Procopius was erected.' But this might potmbly 
mean after Antonina's first widowhood. By Yigilantia is prob- 
ably meant the sister of Justinian and mother of the Emperor 
Justin II. 

' ' And the property of this man went into the Imperial palace 
of Marina ' (Theophanes, p. 203). Ducange (Const. Christiana, 
Lib. ii. vii) says that this palace was built by Marina, daughter 
of Arcadius, and concludes from this passage that it was at the 
time of Justinian converted into a receptacle for the treasures 
of the Emperor [perhaps, rather, turned into an ofiice where the 
business of the Treasury was transacted]. 

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604 The Re-occupation of Rome. 

BOOK V. apparently the true story of the disgrace of Beli- 
"' sarius and his final restoration to the favour of 
hUbSid^ J^tinian. But another story, that which repre- 
^^1!^ sents him as blinded and reduced to beggary, and 
sitting as a mendicant at the gates of CJonstanti- 
nople, or even of Rome ^, has obtained very wide 
currency, partly through the genius of Marmontel, 
who naturally laid hold of so striking a reverse 
of fortune to give point to the romance ofBelisaire. 
The authority for this story, as will be seen in 
the following note, is of the poorest kind, and 
dates only from the eleventh or twelfth century. 
It is a very probable suggestion that in the five or 
six hundred years which intervened between the 
hero's death and the first appearance of this story 
in literature, popular tradition had confounded his 
reverses with those of his contemporary John of 
Cappadocia, who was really reduced to beggary, 
but not to blindness. Yet the idea of so terrible a 
fall from so splendid a position has fastened itself 
too deeply in the popular mind to be ever really 
eradicated, let it be disproved as often as it may. 
In the future, as in the past, for one reader who 
knows of the capture of Gelimer or the marvellous 
defence of Rome, there will be ten who associate the 
great General's name with the thought of a blind 
beggar holding a wooden box before him, and cry- 
ing in pathetic tones ' DcUe obolum Belisario.' 

^ I have seen a Btatement, tbe author of which I cannot 
remember, that the Pincian Gate of Borne was named the 
Beliaarian becanse there BelisariuB sat and begged. 

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NOTE D. On thb allegbd Blindness and Begqart 
OF Belisabitjs. 

For a full discussion of this often-debated