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The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon

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mangled body was ignominiously cast into the Tyber; the Roman
people rejoiced in the punishment which they had inflicted on the
author of the public calamities; and the domestics of Eudoxia
signalized their zeal in the service of their mistress. ^5
[Footnote 4: Notwithstanding the evidence of Procopius, Evagrius,
Idatius Marcellinus, &c., the learned Muratori (Annali d'Italia,
tom. iv. p. 249 doubts the reality of this invitation, and
observes, with great truth, "Non si puo dir quanto sia facile il
popolo a sognare e spacciar voci false." But his argument, from
the interval of time and place, is extremely feeble. The figs
which grew near Carthage were produced to the senate of Rome on
the third day.]

[Footnote 5: - Infidoque tibi Burgundio ductu
Extorquet trepidas mactandi principis iras.

Sidon. in Panegyr. Avit. 442.

A remarkable line, which insinuates that Rome and Maximus were
betrayed by their Burgundian mercenaries.]

On the third day after the tumult, Genseric boldly advanced
from the port of Ostia to the gates of the defenceless city.
Instead of a sally of the Roman youth, there issued from the
gates an unarmed and venerable procession of the bishop at the
head of his clergy. ^6 The fearless spirit of Leo, his authority
and eloquence, again mitigated the fierceness of a Barbarian
conqueror; the king of the Vandals promised to spare the
unresisting multitude, to protect the buildings from fire, and to
exempt the captives from torture; and although such orders were
neither seriously given, nor strictly obeyed, the mediation of
Leo was glorious to himself, and in some degree beneficial to his
country. But Rome and its inhabitants were delivered to the
licentiousness of the Vandals and Moors, whose blind passions
revenged the injuries of Carthage. The pillage lasted fourteen
days and nights; and all that yet remained of public or private
wealth, of sacred or profane treasure, was diligently transported
to the vessels of Genseric. Among the spoils, the splendid
relics of two temples, or rather of two religions, exhibited a
memorable example of the vicissitudes of human and divine things.

Since the abolition of Paganism, the Capitol had been violated
and abandoned; yet the statues of the gods and heroes were still
respected, and the curious roof of gilt bronze was reserved for
the rapacious hands of Genseric. ^7 The holy instruments of the
Jewish worship, ^8 the gold table, and the gold candlestick with
seven branches, originally framed according to the particular
instructions of God himself, and which were placed in the
sanctuary of his temple, had been ostentatiously displayed to the
Roman people in the triumph of Titus. They were afterwards
deposited in the temple of Peace; and at the end of four hundred
years, the spoils of Jerusalem were transferred from Rome to
Carthage, by a Barbarian who derived his origin from the shores
of the Baltic. These ancient monuments might attract the notice
of curiosity, as well as of avarice. But the Christian churches,
enriched and adorned by the prevailing superstition of the times,
afforded more plentiful materials for sacrilege; and the pious
liberality of Pope Leo, who melted six silver vases, the gift of
Constantine, each of a hundred pounds weight, is an evidence of
the damage which he attempted to repair. In the forty-five years
that had elapsed since the Gothic invasion, the pomp and luxury
of Rome were in some measure restored; and it was difficult
either to escape, or to satisfy, the avarice of a conqueror, who
possessed leisure to collect, and ships to transport, the wealth
of the capital. The Imperial ornaments of the palace, the
magnificent furniture and wardrobe, the sideboards of massy
plate, were accumulated with disorderly rapine; the gold and
silver amounted to several thousand talents; yet even the brass
and copper were laboriously removed. Eudoxia herself, who
advanced to meet her friend and deliverer, soon bewailed the
imprudence of her own conduct. She was rudely stripped of her
jewels; and the unfortunate empress, with her two daughters, the
only surviving remains of the great Theodosius, was compelled, as
a captive, to follow the haughty Vandal; who immediately hoisted
sail, and returned with a prosperous navigation to the port of
Carthage. ^9 Many thousand Romans of both sexes, chosen for some
useful or agreeable qualifications, reluctantly embarked on board
the fleet of Genseric; and their distress was aggravated by the
unfeeling Barbarians, who, in the division of the booty,
separated the wives from their husbands, and the children from
their parents. The charity of Deogratias, bishop of Carthage,
^10 was their only consolation and support. He generously sold
the gold and silver plate of the church to purchase the freedom
of some, to alleviate the slavery of others, and to assist the
wants and infirmities of a captive multitude, whose health was
impaired by the hardships which they had suffered in their
passage from Italy to Africa. By his order, two spacious
churches were converted into hospitals; the sick were distributed
into convenient beds, and liberally supplied with food and
medicines; and the aged prelate repeated his visits both in the
day and night, with an assiduity that surpassed his strength, and
a tender sympathy which enhanced the value of his services.
Compare this scene with the field of Cannae; and judge between
Hannibal and the successor of St. Cyprian. ^11
[Footnote 6: The apparant success of Pope Leo may be justified by
Prosper, and the Historia Miscellan.; but the improbable notion
of Baronius A.D. 455, No. 13) that Genseric spared the three
apostolical churches, is not countenanced even by the doubtful
testimony of the Liber Pontificalis.]
[Footnote 7: The profusion of Catulus, the first who gilt the
roof of the Capitol, was not universally approved, (Plin. Hist.
Natur. xxxiii. 18;) but it was far exceeded by the emperor's, and
the external gilding of the temple cost Domitian 12,000 talents,
(2,400,000l.) The expressions of Claudian and Rutilius (luce
metalli oemula .... fastigia astris, and confunduntque vagos
delubra micantia visus) manifestly prove, that this splendid
covering was not removed either by the Christians or the Goths,
(see Donatus, Roma Antiqua, l. ii. c. 6, p. 125.) It should seem
that the roof of the Capitol was decorated with gilt statues, and
chariots drawn by four horses.]

[Footnote 8: The curious reader may consult the learned and
accurate treatise of Hadrian Reland, de Spoliis Templi
Hierosolymitani in Arcu Titiano Romae conspicuis, in 12mo.
Trajecti ad Rhenum, 1716.]

[Footnote 9: The vessel which transported the relics of the
Capitol was the only one of the whole fleet that suffered
shipwreck. If a bigoted sophist, a Pagan bigot, had mentioned
the accident, he might have rejoiced that this cargo of sacrilege
was lost in the sea.]

[Footnote 10: See Victor Vitensis, de Persecut. Vandal. l. i. c.
8, p. 11, 12, edit. Ruinart. Deogratius governed the church of
Carthage only three years. If he had not been privately buried,
his corpse would have been torn piecemeal by the mad devotion of
the people.]

[Footnote 11: The general evidence for the death of Maximus, and
the sack of Rome by the Vandals, is comprised in Sidonius,
(Panegyr. Avit. 441 - 450,) Procopius, (de Bell. Vandal. l. i. c.
4, 5, p. 188, 189, and l. ii. c. 9, p. 255,) Evagrius, (l. ii. c.
7,) Jornandes, (de Reb. Geticis, c. 45, p. 677,) and the
Chronicles of Idatius, Prosper, Marcellinus, and Theophanes,
under the proper year.]

The deaths of Aetius and Valentinian had relaxed the ties
which held the Barbarians of Gaul in peace and subordination.
The sea-coast was infested by the Saxons; the Alemanni and the
Franks advanced from the Rhine to the Seine; and the ambition of
the Goths seemed to meditate more extensive and permanent
conquests. The emperor Maximus relieved himself, by a judicious
choice, from the weight of these distant cares; he silenced the
solicitations of his friends, listened to the voice of fame, and
promoted a stranger to the general command of the forces of Gaul.

Avitus, ^12 the stranger, whose merit was so nobly rewarded,
descended from a wealthy and honorable family in the diocese of
Auvergne. The convulsions of the times urged him to embrace,
with the same ardor, the civil and military professions: and the
indefatigable youth blended the studies of literature and
jurisprudence with the exercise of arms and hunting. Thirty
years of his life were laudably spent in the public service; he
alternately displayed his talents in war and negotiation; and the
soldier of Aetius, after executing the most important embassies,
was raised to the station of Praetorian praefect of Gaul. Either
the merit of Avitus excited envy, or his moderation was desirous
of repose, since he calmly retired to an estate, which he
possessed in the neighborhood of Clermont. A copious stream,
issuing from the mountain, and falling headlong in many a loud
and foaming cascade, discharged its waters into a lake about two
miles in length, and the villa was pleasantly seated on the
margin of the lake. The baths, the porticos, the summer and
winter apartments, were adapted to the purposes of luxury and
use; and the adjacent country afforded the various prospects of
woods, pastures, and meodows. ^13 In this retreat, where Avitus
amused his leisure with books, rural sports, the practice of
husbandry, and the society of his friends, ^14 he received the
Imperial diploma, which constituted him master-general of the
cavalry and infantry of Gaul. He assumed the military command;
the Barbarians suspended their fury; and whatever means he might
employ, whatever concessions he might be forced to make, the
people enjoyed the benefits of actual tranquillity. But the fate
of Gaul depended on the Visigoths; and the Roman general, less
attentive to his dignity than to the public interest, did not
disdain to visit Thoulouse in the character of an ambassador. He
was received with courteous hospitality by Theodoric, the king of
the Goths; but while Avitus laid the foundations of a solid
alliance with that powerful nation, he was astonished by the
intelligence, that the emperor Maximus was slain, and that Rome
had been pillaged by the Vandals. A vacant throne, which he
might ascend without guilt or danger, tempted his ambition; ^15
and the Visigoths were easily persuaded to support his claim by
their irresistible suffrage. They loved the person of Avitus;
they respected his virtues; and they were not insensible of the
advantage, as well as honor, of giving an emperor to the West.
The season was now approaching, in which the annual assembly of
the seven provinces was held at Arles; their deliberations might
perhaps be influenced by the presence of Theodoric and his
martial brothers; but their choice would naturally incline to the
most illustrious of their countrymen. Avitus, after a decent
resistance, accepted the Imperial diadem from the representatives
of Gaul; and his election was ratified by the acclamations of the
Barbarians and provincials. The formal consent of Marcian,
emperor of the East, was solicited and obtained; but the senate,
Rome, and Italy, though humbled by their recent calamities,
submitted with a secret murmur to the presumption of the Gallic
usurper.

[Footnote 12: The private life and elevation of Avitus must be
deduced, with becoming suspicion, from the panegyric pronounced
by Sidonius Apollinaris, his subject, and his son-in-law.]
[Footnote 13: After the example of the younger Pliny, Sidonius
(l. ii. c. 2) has labored the florid, prolix, and obscure
description of his villa, which bore the name, (Avitacum,) and
had been the property of Avitus. The precise situation is not
ascertained. Consult, however, the notes of Savaron and
Sirmond.]

[Footnote 14: Sidonius (l. ii. epist. 9) has described the
country life of the Gallic nobles, in a visit which he made to
his friends, whose estates were in the neighborhood of Nismes.
The morning hours were spent in the sphoeristerium, or
tennis-court; or in the library, which was furnished with Latin
authors, profane and religious; the former for the men, the
latter for the ladies. The table was twice served, at dinner and
supper, with hot meat (boiled and roast) and wine. During the
intermediate time, the company slept, took the air on horseback,
and need the warm bath.]

[Footnote 15: Seventy lines of panegyric (505 - 575) which
describe the importunity of Theodoric and of Gaul, struggling to
overcome the modest reluctance of Avitus, are blown away by three
words of an honest historian. Romanum ambisset Imperium, (Greg.
Turon. l. ii. c. 1l, in tom. ii. p. 168.)]
Theodoric, to whom Avitus was indebted for the purple, had
acquired the Gothic sceptre by the murder of his elder brother
Torismond; and he justified this atrocious deed by the design
which his predecessor had formed of violating his alliance with
the empire. ^16 Such a crime might not be incompatible with the
virtues of a Barbarian; but the manners of Theodoric were gentle
and humane; and posterity may contemplate without terror the
original picture of a Gothic king, whom Sidonius had intimately
observed, in the hours of peace and of social intercourse. In an
epistle, dated from the court of Thoulouse, the orator satisfies
the curiosity of one of his friends, in the following
description: ^17 "By the majesty of his appearance, Theodoric
would command the respect of those who are ignorant of his merit;
and although he is born a prince, his merit would dignify a
private station. He is of a middle stature, his body appears
rather plump than fat, and in his well-proportioned limbs agility
is united with muscular strength. ^18 If you examine his
countenance, you will distinguish a high forehead, large shaggy
eyebrows, an aquiline nose, thin lips, a regular set of white
teeth, and a fair complexion, that blushes more frequently from
modesty than from anger. The ordinary distribution of his time,
as far as it is exposed to the public view, may be concisely
represented. Before daybreak, he repairs, with a small train, to
his domestic chapel, where the service is performed by the Arian
clergy; but those who presume to interpret his secret sentiments,
consider this assiduous devotion as the effect of habit and
policy. The rest of the morning is employed in the
administration of his kingdom. His chair is surrounded by some
military officers of decent aspect and behavior: the noisy crowd
of his Barbarian guards occupies the hall of audience; but they
are not permitted to stand within the veils or curtains that
conceal the council-chamber from vulgar eyes. The ambassadors of
the nations are successively introduced: Theodoric listens with
attention, answers them with discreet brevity, and either
announces or delays, according to the nature of their business,
his final resolution. About eight (the second hour) he rises
from his throne, and visits either his treasury or his stables.
If he chooses to hunt, or at least to exercise himself on
horseback, his bow is carried by a favorite youth; but when the
game is marked, he bends it with his own hand, and seldom misses
the object of his aim: as a king, he disdains to bear arms in
such ignoble warfare; but as a soldier, he would blush to accept
any military service which he could perform himself. On common
days, his dinner is not different from the repast of a private
citizen, but every Saturday, many honorable guests are invited to
the royal table, which, on these occasions, is served with the
elegance of Greece, the plenty of Gaul, and the order and
diligence of Italy. ^19 The gold or silver plate is less
remarkable for its weight than for the brightness and curious
workmanship: the taste is gratified without the help of foreign
and costly luxury; the size and number of the cups of wine are
regulated with a strict regard to the laws of temperance; and the
respectful silence that prevails, is interrupted only by grave
and instructive conversation. After dinner, Theodoric sometimes
indulges himself in a short slumber; and as soon as he wakes, he
calls for the dice and tables, encourages his friends to forget
the royal majesty, and is delighted when they freely express the
passions which are excited by the incidents of play. At this
game, which he loves as the image of war, he alternately displays
his eagerness, his skill, his patience, and his cheerful temper.
If he loses, he laughs; he is modest and silent if he wins. Yet,
notwithstanding this seeming indifference, his courtiers choose
to solicit any favor in the moments of victory; and I myself, in
my applications to the king, have derived some benefit from my
losses. ^20 About the ninth hour (three o'clock) the tide of
business again returns, and flows incessantly till after sunset,
when the signal of the royal supper dismisses the weary crowd of
suppliants and pleaders. At the supper, a more familiar repast,
buffoons and pantomimes are sometimes introduced, to divert, not
to offend, the company, by their ridiculous wit: but female
singers, and the soft, effeminate modes of music, are severely
banished, and such martial tunes as animate the soul to deeds of
valor are alone grateful to the ear of Theodoric. He retires
from table; and the nocturnal guards are immediately posted at
the entrance of the treasury, the palace, and the private
apartments."

[Footnote 16: Isidore, archbishop of Seville, who was himself of
the blood royal of the Goths, acknowledges, and almost justifies,
(Hist. Goth. p. 718,) the crime which their slave Jornandes had
basely dissembled, (c 43, p. 673.)]
[Footnote 17: This elaborate description (l. i. ep. ii. p. 2 - 7)
was dictated by some political motive. It was designed for the
public eye, and had been shown by the friends of Sidonius, before
it was inserted in the collection of his epistles. The first
book was published separately. See Tillemont, Memoires Eccles.
tom. xvi. p. 264.]

[Footnote 18: I have suppressed, in this portrait of Theodoric,
several minute circumstances, and technical phrases, which could
be tolerable, or indeed intelligible, to those only who, like the
contemporaries of Sidonius, had frequented the markets where
naked slaves were exposed to male, (Dubos, Hist. Critique, tom.
i. p. 404.)]

[Footnote 19: Videas ibi elegantiam Graecam, abundantiam
Gallicanam; celeritatem Italam; publicam pompam, privatam
diligentiam, regiam disciplinam.]

[Footnote 20: Tunc etiam ego aliquid obsecraturus feliciter
vincor, et mihi tabula perit ut causa salvetur. Sidonius of
Auvergne was not a subject of Theodoric; but he might be
compelled to solicit either justice or favor at the court of
Thoulouse.]

When the king of the Visigoths encouraged Avitus to assume
the purple, he offered his person and his forces, as a faithful
soldier of the republic. ^21 The exploits of Theodoric soon
convinced the world that he had not degenerated from the warlike
virtues of his ancestors. After the establishment of the Goths
in Aquitain, and the passage of the Vandals into Africa, the
Suevi, who had fixed their kingdom in Gallicia, aspired to the
conquest of Spain, and threatened to extinguish the feeble
remains of the Roman dominion. The provincials of Carthagena and
Tarragona, afflicted by a hostile invasion, represented their
injuries and their apprehensions. Count Fronto was despatched, in
the name of the emperor Avitus, with advantageous offers of peace
and alliance; and Theodoric interposed his weighty mediation, to
declare, that, unless his brother-in-law, the king of the Suevi,
immediately retired, he should be obliged to arm in the cause of
justice and of Rome. "Tell him," replied the haughty Rechiarius,
"that I despise his friendship and his arms; but that I shall
soon try whether he will dare to expect my arrival under the
walls of Thoulouse." Such a challenge urged Theodoric to prevent
the bold designs of his enemy; he passed the Pyrenees at the head
of the Visigoths: the Franks and Burgundians served under his
standard; and though he professed himself the dutiful servant of
Avitus, he privately stipulated, for himself and his successors,
the absolute possession of his Spanish conquests. The two armies,
or rather the two nations, encountered each other on the banks of
the River Urbicus, about twelve miles from Astorga; and the
decisive victory of the Goths appeared for a while to have
extirpated the name and kingdom of the Suevi. From the field of
battle Theodoric advanced to Braga, their metropolis, which still
retained the splendid vestiges of its ancient commerce and
dignity. ^22 His entrance was not polluted with blood; and the
Goths respected the chastity of their female captives, more
especially of the consecrated virgins: but the greatest part of
the clergy and people were made slaves, and even the churches and
altars were confounded in the universal pillage. The unfortunate
king of the Suevi had escaped to one of the ports of the ocean;
but the obstinacy of the winds opposed his flight: he was
delivered to his implacable rival; and Rechiarius, who neither
desired nor expected mercy, received, with manly constancy, the
death which he would probably have inflicted. After this bloody
sacrifice to policy or resentment, Theodoric carried his
victorious arms as far as Merida, the principal town of
Lusitania, without meeting any resistance, except from the
miraculous powers of St. Eulalia; but he was stopped in the full
career of success, and recalled from Spain before he could
provide for the security of his conquests. In his retreat
towards the Pyrenees, he revenged his disappointment on the
country through which he passed; and, in the sack of Pollentia
and Astorga, he showed himself a faithless ally, as well as a
cruel enemy. Whilst the king of the Visigoths fought and
vanquished in the name of Avitus, the reign of Avitus had
expired; and both the honor and the interest of Theodoric were
deeply wounded by the disgrace of a friend, whom he had seated on
the throne of the Western empire. ^23

[Footnote 21: Theodoric himself had given a solemn and voluntary
promise of fidelity, which was understood both in Gaul and Spain.

- Romae sum, te duce, Amicus,
Principe te, Miles.

Sidon. Panegyr. Avit. 511.]

[Footnote 22: Quaeque sinu pelagi jactat se Bracara dives.
Auson. de Claris Urbibus, p. 245.

From the design of the king of the Suevi, it is evident that the
navigation from the ports of Gallicia to the Mediterranean was
known and practised. The ships of Bracara, or Braga, cautiously
steered along the coast, without daring to lose themselves in the
Atlantic.]

[Footnote 23: This Suevic war is the most authentic part of the
Chronicle of Idatius, who, as bishop of Iria Flavia, was himself
a spectator and a sufferer. Jornandes (c. 44, p. 675, 676, 677)
has expatiated, with pleasure, on the Gothic victory.]

Chapter XXXVI: Total Extinction Of The Western Empire.

Part II.

The pressing solicitations of the senate and people
persuaded the emperor Avitus to fix his residence at Rome, and to
accept the consulship for the ensuing year. On the first day of
January, his son-in-law, Sidonius Apollinaris, celebrated his
praises in a panegyric of six hundred verses; but this
composition, though it was rewarded with a brass statue, ^24
seems to contain a very moderate proportion, either of genius or
of truth. The poet, if we may degrade that sacred name,
exaggerates the merit of a sovereign and a father; and his
prophecy of a long and glorious reign was soon contradicted by
the event. Avitus, at a time when the Imperial dignity was
reduced to a preeminence of toil and danger, indulged himself in
the pleasures of Italian luxury: age had not extinguished his
amorous inclinations; and he is accused of insulting, with
indiscreet and ungenerous raillery, the husbands whose wives he
had seduced or violated. ^25 But the Romans were not inclined
either to excuse his faults or to acknowledge his virtues. The
several parts of the empire became every day more alienated from
each other; and the stranger of Gaul was the object of popular
hatred and contempt. The senate asserted their legitimate claim
in the election of an emperor; and their authority, which had
been originally derived from the old constitution, was again
fortified by the actual weakness of a declining monarchy. Yet
even such a monarchy might have resisted the votes of an unarmed
senate, if their discontent had not been supported, or perhaps
inflamed, by the Count Ricimer, one of the principal commanders
of the Barbarian troops, who formed the military defence of
Italy. The daughter of Wallia, king of the Visigoths, was the
mother of Ricimer; but he was descended, on the father's side,
from the nation of the Suevi; ^26 his pride or patriotism might
be exasperated by the misfortunes of his countrymen; and he
obeyed, with reluctance, an emperor in whose elevation he had not
been consulted. His faithful and important services against the
common enemy rendered him still more formidable; ^27 and, after
destroying on the coast of Corsica a fleet of Vandals, which
consisted of sixty galleys, Ricimer returned in triumph with the
appellation of the Deliverer of Italy. He chose that moment to
signify to Avitus, that his reign was at an end; and the feeble
emperor, at a distance from his Gothic allies, was compelled,
after a short and unavailing struggle to abdicate the purple. By
the clemency, however, or the contempt, of Ricimer, ^28 he was
permitted to descend from the throne to the more desirable
station of bishop of Placentia: but the resentment of the senate
was still unsatisfied; and their inflexible severity pronounced
the sentence of his death He fled towards the Alps, with the
humble hope, not of arming the Visigoths in his cause, but of
securing his person and treasures in the sanctuary of Julian, one
of the tutelar saints of Auvergne. ^29 Disease, or the hand of
the executioner, arrested him on the road; yet his remains were
decently transported to Brivas, or Brioude, in his native
province, and he reposed at the feet of his holy patron. ^30
Avitus left only one daughter, the wife of Sidonius Apollinaris,
who inherited the patrimony of his father-in-law; lamenting, at
the same time, the disappointment of his public and private
expectations. His resentment prompted him to join, or at least
to countenance, the measures of a rebellious faction in Gaul; and
the poet had contracted some guilt, which it was incumbent on him
to expiate, by a new tribute of flattery to the succeeding
emperor. ^31

[Footnote 24: In one of the porticos or galleries belonging to
Trajan's library, among the statues of famous writers and
orators. Sidon. Apoll. l. ix. epist, 16, p. 284. Carm. viii. p.
350.]

[Footnote 25: Luxuriose agere volens a senatoribus projectus est,
is the concise expression of Gregory of Tours, (l. ii. c. xi. in
tom. ii. p. 168.) An old Chronicle (in tom. ii. p. 649) mentions
an indecent jest of Avitus, which seems more applicable to Rome
than to Treves.]

[Footnote 26: Sidonius (Panegyr. Anthem. 302, &c.) praises the
royal birth of Ricimer, the lawful heir, as he chooses to
insinuate, both of the Gothic and Suevic kingdoms.]

[Footnote 27: See the Chronicle of Idatius. Jornandes (c. xliv.
p. 676) styles him, with some truth, virum egregium, et pene tune
in Italia ad ex ercitum singularem.]

[Footnote 28: Parcens innocentiae Aviti, is the compassionate,
but contemptuous, language of Victor Tunnunensis, (in Chron. apud
Scaliger Euseb.) In another place, he calls him, vir totius
simplicitatis. This commendation is more humble, but it is more
solid and sincere, than the praises of Sidonius]

[Footnote 29: He suffered, as it is supposed, in the persecution
of Diocletian, (Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. tom. v. p. 279, 696.)
Gregory of Tours, his peculiar votary, has dedicated to the glory
of Julian the Martyr an entire book, (de Gloria Martyrum, l. ii.
in Max. Bibliot. Patrum, tom. xi. p. 861-871,) in which he
relates about fifty foolish miracles performed by his relics.]
[Footnote 30: Gregory of Tours (l. ii. c. xi. p. 168) is concise,
but correct, in the reign of his countryman. The words of
Idatius, "cadet imperio, caret et vita," seem to imply, that the
death of Avitus was violent; but it must have been secret, since
Evagrius (l. ii. c. 7) could suppose, that he died of the
plaque.]

[Footnote 31: After a modest appeal to the examples of his
brethren, Virgil and Horace, Sidonius honestly confesses the
debt, and promises payment. Sic mihi diverso nuper sub Marte
cadenti Jussisti placido Victor ut essem animo.
Serviat ergo tibi servati lingua poetae,
Atque meae vitae laus tua sit pretium.

Sidon. Apoll. Carm. iv. p. 308

See Dubos, Hist. Critique, tom. i. p. 448, &c.]

The successor of Avitus presents the welcome discovery of a
great and heroic character, such as sometimes arise, in a
degenerate age, to vindicate the honor of the human species. The
emperor Majorian has deserved the praises of his contemporaries,
and of posterity; and these praises may be strongly expressed in
the words of a judicious and disinterested historian: "That he
was gentle to his subjects; that he was terrible to his enemies;
and that he excelled, in every virtue, all his predecessors who
had reigned over the Romans." ^32 Such a testimony may justify at
least the panegyric of S donius; and we may acquiesce in the
assurance, that, although the obsequious orator would have
flattered, with equal zeal, the most worthless of princes, the
extraordinary merit of his object confined him, on this occasion,
within the bounds of truth. ^33 Majorian derived his name from
his maternal grandfather, who, in the reign of the great
Theodosius, had commanded the troops of the Illyrian frontier. He
gave his daughter in marriage to the father of Majorian, a
respectable officer, who administered the revenues of Gaul with
skill and integrity; and generously preferred the friendship of
Aetius to the tempting offer of an insidious court. His son, the
future emperor, who was educated in the profession of arms,
displayed, from his early youth, intrepid courage, premature
wisdom, and unbounded liberality in a scanty fortune. He
followed the standard of Aetius, contributed to his success,
shared, and sometimes eclipsed, his glory, and at last excited
the jealousy of the patrician, or rather of his wife, who forced
him to retire from the service. ^34 Majorian, after the death of
Aetius, was recalled and promoted; and his intimate connection
with Count Ricimer was the immediate step by which he ascended
the throne of the Western empire. During the vacancy that
succeeded the abdication of Avitus, the ambitious Barbarian,
whose birth excluded him from the Imperial dignity, governed
Italy with the title of Patrician; resigned to his friend the
conspicuous station of master-general of the cavalry and
infantry; and, after an interval of some months, consented to the
unanimous wish of the Romans, whose favor Majorian had solicited
by a recent victory over the Alemanni. ^35 He was invested with
the purple at Ravenna: and the epistle which he addressed to the
senate, will best describe his situation and his sentiments.
"Your election, Conscript Fathers! and the ordinance of the most
valiant army, have made me your emperor. ^36 May the propitious
Deity direct and prosper the counsels and events of my
administration, to your advantage and to the public welfare! For
my own part, I did not aspire, I have submitted to reign; nor
should I have discharged the obligations of a citizen if I had
refused, with base and selfish ingratitude, to support the weight
of those labors, which were imposed by the republic. Assist,
therefore, the prince whom you have made; partake the duties
which you have enjoined; and may our common endeavors promote the
happiness of an empire, which I have accepted from your hands.
Be assured, that, in our times, justice shall resume her ancient
vigor, and that virtue shall become, not only innocent, but
meritorious. Let none, except the authors themselves, be
apprehensive of delations, ^37 which, as a subject, I have always
condemned, and, as a prince, will severely punish. Our own
vigilance, and that of our father, the patrician Ricimer, shall
regulate all military affairs, and provide for the safety of the
Roman world, which we have saved from foreign and domestic
enemies. ^38 You now understand the maxims of my government; you
may confide in the faithful love and sincere assurances of a
prince who has formerly been the companion of your life and
dangers; who still glories in the name of senator, and who is
anxious that you should never repent the judgment which you have
pronounced in his favor." The emperor, who, amidst the ruins of
the Roman world, revived the ancient language of law and liberty,
which Trajan would not have disclaimed, must have derived those
generous sentiments from his own heart; since they were not
suggested to his imitation by the customs of his age, or the
example of his predecessors. ^39

[Footnote 32: The words of Procopius deserve to be transcribed
(de Bell. Vandal. l. i. c. 7, p. 194;) a concise but
comprehensive definition of royal virtue.]

[Footnote 33: The Panegyric was pronounced at Lyons before the
end of the year 458, while the emperor was still consul. It has
more art than genius, and more labor than art. The ornaments are
false and trivial; the expression is feeble and prolix; and
Sidonius wants the skill to exhibit the principal figure in a
strong and distinct light. The private life of Majorian occupies
about two hundred lines, 107 - 305.]

[Footnote 34: She pressed his immediate death, and was scarcely
satisfied with his disgrace. It should seem that Aetius, like
Belisarius and Marlborough, was governed by his wife; whose
fervent piety, though it might work miracles, (Gregor. Turon. l.
ii. c. 7, p. 162,) was not incompatible with base and sanguinary
counsels.]

[Footnote 35: The Alemanni had passed the Rhaetian Alps, and were
defeated in the Campi Canini, or Valley of Bellinzone, through
which the Tesin flows, in its descent from Mount Adula to the
Lago Maggiore, (Cluver Italia Antiq. tom. i. p. 100, 101.) This
boasted victory over nine hundred Barbarians (Panegyr. Majorian.
373, &c.) betrays the extreme weakness of Italy.]
[Footnote 36: Imperatorem me factum, P.C. electionis vestrae
arbitrio, et fortissimi exercitus ordinatione agnoscite, (Novell.
Majorian. tit. iii. p. 34, ad Calcem. Cod. Theodos.) Sidonius
proclaims the unanimous voice of the empire: -

- Postquam ordine vobis
Ordo omnis regnum dederat; plebs, curia, nules,
Et collega simul. 386.

This language is ancient and constitutional; and we may observe,
that the clergy were not yet considered as a distinct order of
the state.]
[Footnote 37: Either dilationes, or delationes would afford a
tolerable reading, but there is much more sense and spirit in the
latter, to which I have therefore given the preference.]

[Footnote 38: Ab externo hoste et a domestica clade liberavimus:
by the latter, Majorian must understand the tyranny of Avitus;
whose death he consequently avowed as a meritorious act. On this
occasion, Sidonius is fearful and obscure; he describes the
twelve Caesars, the nations of Africa, &c., that he may escape
the dangerous name of Avitus (805 - 369.)]
[Footnote 39: See the whole edict or epistle of Majorian to the
senate, (Novell. tit. iv. p. 34.) Yet the expression, regnum
nostrum, bears some taint of the age, and does not mix kindly
with the word respublica, which he frequently repeats.]

The private and public actions of Majorian are very
imperfectly known: but his laws, remarkable for an original cast
of thought and expression, faithfully represent the character of
a sovereign who loved his people, who sympathized in their
distress, who had studied the causes of the decline of the
empire, and who was capable of applying (as far as such
reformation was practicable) judicious and effectual remedies to
the public disorders. ^40 His regulations concerning the finances
manifestly tended to remove, or at least to mitigate, the most
intolerable grievances. I. From the first hour of his reign, he
was solicitous (I translate his own words) to relieve the weary
fortunes of the provincials, oppressed by the accumulated weight
of indictions and superindictions. ^41 With this view he granted
a universal amnesty, a final and absolute discharge of all
arrears of tribute, of all debts, which, under any pretence, the
fiscal officers might demand from the people. This wise
dereliction of obsolete, vexatious, and unprofitable claims,
improved and purified the sources of the public revenue; and the
subject who could now look back without despair, might labor with
hope and gratitude for himself and for his country. II. In the
assessment and collection of taxes, Majorian restored the
ordinary jurisdiction of the provincial magistrates; and
suppressed the extraordinary commissions which had been
introduced, in the name of the emperor himself, or of the
Praetorian praefects. The favorite servants, who obtained such
irregular powers, were insolent in their behavior, and arbitrary
in their demands: they affected to despise the subordinate
tribunals, and they were discontented, if their fees and profits
did not twice exceed the sum which they condescended to pay into
the treasury. One instance of their extortion would appear
incredible, were it not authenticated by the legislator himself.
They exacted the whole payment in gold: but they refused the
current coin of the empire, and would accept only such ancient
pieces as were stamped with the names of Faustina or the
Antonines. The subject, who was unprovided with these curious
medals, had recourse to the expedient of compounding with their
rapacious demands; or if he succeeded in the research, his
imposition was doubled, according to the weight and value of the
money of former times. ^42 III. "The municipal corporations,
(says the emperor,) the lesser senates, (so antiquity has justly
styled them,) deserve to be considered as the heart of the
cities, and the sinews of the republic. And yet so low are they
now reduced, by the injustice of magistrates and the venality of
collectors, that many of their members, renouncing their dignity
and their country, have taken refuge in distant and obscure
exile." He urges, and even compels, their return to their
respective cities; but he removes the grievance which had forced
them to desert the exercise of their municipal functions. They
are directed, under the authority of the provincial magistrates,
to resume their office of levying the tribute; but, instead of
being made responsible for the whole sum assessed on their
district, they are only required to produce a regular account of
the payments which they have actually received, and of the
defaulters who are still indebted to the public. IV. But Majorian
was not ignorant that these corporate bodies were too much
inclined to retaliate the injustice and oppression which they had
suffered; and he therefore revives the useful office of the
defenders of cities. He exhorts the people to elect, in a full
and free assembly, some man of discretion and integrity, who
would dare to assert their privileges, to represent their
grievances, to protect the poor from the tyranny of the rich, and
to inform the emperor of the abuses that were committed under the
sanction of his name and authority.

[Footnote 40: See the laws of Majorian (they are only nine in
number, but very long, and various) at the end of the Theodosian
Code, Novell. l. iv. p. 32 - 37. Godefroy has not given any
commentary on these additional pieces.]
[Footnote 41: Fessas provincialium varia atque multiplici
tributorum exactione fortunas, et extraordinariis fiscalium
solutionum oneribus attritas, &c. Novell. Majorian. tit. iv. p.
34.]

[Footnote 42: The learned Greaves (vol. i. p. 329, 330, 331) has
found, by a diligent inquiry, that aurei of the Antonines weighed
one hundred and eighteen, and those of the fifth century only
sixty-eight, English grains. Majorian gives currency to all gold
coin, excepting only the Gallic solidus, from its deficiency, not
in the weight, but in the standard.]
The spectator who casts a mournful view over the ruins of
ancient Rome, is tempted to accuse the memory of the Goths and
Vandals, for the mischief which they had neither leisure, nor
power, nor perhaps inclination, to perpetrate. The tempest of
war might strike some lofty turrets to the ground; but the
destruction which undermined the foundations of those massy
fabrics was prosecuted, slowly and silently, during a period of
ten centuries; and the motives of interest, that afterwards
operated without shame or control, were severely checked by the
taste and spirit of the emperor Majorian. The decay of the city
had gradually impaired the value of the public works. The circus
and theatres might still excite, but they seldom gratified, the
desires of the people: the temples, which had escaped the zeal of
the Christians, were no longer inhabited, either by gods or men;
the diminished crowds of the Romans were lost in the immense
space of their baths and porticos; and the stately libraries and
halls of justice became useless to an indolent generation, whose
repose was seldom disturbed, either by study or business. The
monuments of consular, or Imperial, greatness were no longer
revered, as the immortal glory of the capital: they were only
esteemed as an inexhaustible mine of materials, cheaper, and more
convenient than the distant quarry. Specious petitions were
continually addressed to the easy magistrates of Rome, which
stated the want of stones or bricks, for some necessary service:
the fairest forms of architecture were rudely defaced, for the
sake of some paltry, or pretended, repairs; and the degenerate
Romans, who converted the spoil to their own emolument,
demolished, with sacrilegious hands, the labors of their
ancestors. Majorian, who had often sighed over the desolation of
the city, applied a severe remedy to the growing evil. ^43 He
reserved to the prince and senate the sole cognizance of the
extreme cases which might justify the destruction of an ancient
edifice; imposed a fine of fifty pounds of gold (two thousand
pounds sterling) on every magistrate who should presume to grant
such illegal and scandalous license, and threatened to chastise
the criminal obedience of their subordinate officers, by a severe
whipping, and the amputation of both their hands. In the last
instance, the legislator might seem to forget the proportion of
guilt and punishment; but his zeal arose from a generous
principle, and Majorian was anxious to protect the monuments of
those ages, in which he would have desired and deserved to live.
The emperor conceived, that it was his interest to increase the
number of his subjects; and that it was his duty to guard the
purity of the marriage-bed: but the means which he employed to
accomplish these salutary purposes are of an ambiguous, and
perhaps exceptionable, kind. The pious maids, who consecrated
their virginity to Christ, were restrained from taking the veil
till they had reached their fortieth year. Widows under that age
were compelled to form a second alliance within the term of five
years, by the forfeiture of half their wealth to their nearest
relations, or to the state. Unequal marriages were condemned or
annulled. The punishment of confiscation and exile was deemed so
inadequate to the guilt of adultery, that, if the criminal
returned to Italy, he might, by the express declaration of
Majorian, be slain with impunity. ^44
[Footnote 43: The whole edict (Novell. Majorian. tit. vi. p. 35)
is curious. "Antiquarum aedium dissipatur speciosa constructio;
et ut aliquid reparetur, magna diruuntur. Hinc jam occasio
nascitur, ut etiam unusquisque privatum aedificium construens,
per gratiam judicum ..... praesumere de publicis locis
necessaria, et transferre non dubitet" &c. With equal zeal, but
with less power, Petrarch, in the fourteenth century, repeated
the same complaints. (Vie de Petrarque, tom. i. p. 326, 327.) If
I prosecute this history, I shall not be unmindful of the decline
and fall of the city of Rome; an interesting object to which any
plan was originally confined.]

[Footnote 44: The emperor chides the lenity of Rogatian, consular
of Tuscany in a style of acrimonious reproof, which sounds almost
like personal resentment, (Novell. tit. ix. p. 47.) The law of
Majorian, which punished obstinate widows, was soon afterwards
repealed by his successor Severus, (Novell. Sever. tit. i. p.
37.)]

While the emperor Majorian assiduously labored to restore
the happiness and virtue of the Romans, he encountered the arms
of Genseric, from his character and situation their most
formidable enemy. A fleet of Vandals and Moors landed at the
mouth of the Liris, or Garigliano; but the Imperial troops
surprised and attacked the disorderly Barbarians, who were
encumbered with the spoils of Campania; they were chased with
slaughter to their ships, and their leader, the king's
brother-in-law, was found in the number of the slain. ^45 Such
vigilance might announce the character of the new reign; but the
strictest vigilance, and the most numerous forces, were
insufficient to protect the long-extended coast of Italy from the
depredations of a naval war. The public opinion had imposed a
nobler and more arduous task on the genius of Majorian. Rome
expected from him alone the restitution of Africa; and the
design, which he formed, of attacking the Vandals in their new
settlements, was the result of bold and judicious policy. If the
intrepid emperor could have infused his own spirit into the youth
of Italy; if he could have revived in the field of Mars, the
manly exercises in which he had always surpassed his equals; he
might have marched against Genseric at the head of a Roman army.
Such a reformation of national manners might be embraced by the
rising generation; but it is the misfortune of those princes who
laboriously sustain a declining monarchy, that, to obtain some
immediate advantage, or to avert some impending danger, they are
forced to countenance, and even to multiply, the most pernicious
abuses. Majorian, like the weakest of his predecessors, was
reduced to the disgraceful expedient of substituting Barbarian
auxiliaries in the place of his unwarlike subjects: and his
superior abilities could only be displayed in the vigor and
dexterity with which he wielded a dangerous instrument, so apt to
recoil on the hand that used it. Besides the confederates, who
were already engaged in the service of the empire, the fame of
his liberality and valor attracted the nations of the Danube, the
Borysthenes, and perhaps of the Tanais. Many thousands of the
bravest subjects of Attila, the Gepidae, the Ostrogoths, the
Rugians, the Burgundians, the Suevi, the Alani, assembled in the
plains of Liguria; and their formidable strength was balanced by
their mutual animosities. ^46 They passed the Alps in a severe
winter. The emperor led the way, on foot, and in complete armor;
sounding, with his long staff, the depth of the ice, or snow, and
encouraging the Scythians, who complained of the extreme cold, by
the cheerful assurance, that they should be satisfied with the
heat of Africa. The citizens of Lyons had presumed to shut their
gates; they soon implored, and experienced, the clemency of
Majorian. He vanquished Theodoric in the field; and admitted to
his friendship and alliance a king whom he had found not unworthy
of his arms. The beneficial, though precarious, reunion of the
greater part of Gaul and Spain, was the effect of persuasion, as
well as of force; ^47 and the independent Bagaudae, who had
escaped, or resisted, the oppression, of former reigns, were
disposed to confide in the virtues of Majorian. His camp was
filled with Barbarian allies; his throne was supported by the
zeal of an affectionate people; but the emperor had foreseen,
that it was impossible, without a maritime power, to achieve the
conquest of Africa. In the first Punic war, the republic had
exerted such incredible diligence, that, within sixty days after
the first stroke of the axe had been given in the forest, a fleet
of one hundred and sixty galleys proudly rode at anchor in the
sea. ^48 Under circumstances much less favorable, Majorian
equalled the spirit and perseverance of the ancient Romans. The
woods of the Apennine were felled; the arsenals and manufactures
of Ravenna and Misenum were restored; Italy and Gaul vied with
each other in liberal contributions to the public service; and
the Imperial navy of three hundred large galleys, with an
adequate proportion of transports and smaller vessels, was
collected in the secure and capacious harbor of Carthagena in
Spain. ^49 The intrepid countenance of Majorian animated his
troops with a confidence of victory; and, if we might credit the
historian Procopius, his courage sometimes hurried him beyond the
bounds of prudence. Anxious to explore, with his own eyes, the
state of the Vandals, he ventured, after disguising the color of
his hair, to visit Carthage, in the character of his own
ambassador: and Genseric was afterwards mortified by the
discovery, that he had entertained and dismissed the emperor of
the Romans. Such an anecdote may be rejected as an improbable
fiction; but it is a fiction which would not have been imagined,
unless in the life of a hero. ^50
[Footnote 45: Sidon. Panegyr. Majorian, 385 - 440.]

[Footnote 46: The review of the army, and passage of the Alps,
contain the most tolerable passages of the Panegyric, (470 -
552.) M. de Buat (Hist. des Peuples, &c., tom. viii. p. 49 - 55
is a more satisfactory commentator, than either Savaron or
Sirmond.]

[Footnote 47: It is the just and forcible distinction of Priscus,
(Excerpt. Legat. p. 42,) in a short fragment, which throws much
light on the history of Majorian. Jornandes has suppressed the
defeat and alliance of the Visigoths, which were solemnly
proclaimed in Gallicia; and are marked in the Chronicle of
Idatius.]

[Footnote 48: Florus, l. ii. c. 2. He amuses himself with the
poetical fancy, that the trees had been transformed into ships;
and indeed the whole transaction, as it is related in the first
book of Polybius, deviates too much from the probable course of
human events.]

[Footnote 49: Iterea duplici texis dum littore classem
Inferno superoque mari, cadit omnis in aequor

Sylva tibi, &c.

Sidon. Panegyr. Majorian, 441-461.

The number of ships, which Priscus fixed at 300, is magnified, by
an indefinite comparison with the fleets of Agamemnon, Xerxes,
and Augustus.]
[Footnote 50: Procopius de Bell. Vandal. l. i. c. 8, p. 194.
When Genseric conducted his unknown guest into the arsenal of
Carthage, the arms clashed of their own accord. Majorian had
tinged his yellow locks with a black color.]

Chapter XXXVI: Total Extinction Of The Western Empire.

Part II.

The pressing solicitations of the senate and people
persuaded the emperor Avitus to fix his residence at Rome, and to
accept the consulship for the ensuing year. On the first day of
January, his son-in-law, Sidonius Apollinaris, celebrated his
praises in a panegyric of six hundred verses; but this
composition, though it was rewarded with a brass statue, ^24
seems to contain a very moderate proportion, either of genius or
of truth. The poet, if we may degrade that sacred name,
exaggerates the merit of a sovereign and a father; and his
prophecy of a long and glorious reign was soon contradicted by
the event. Avitus, at a time when the Imperial dignity was
reduced to a preeminence of toil and danger, indulged himself in
the pleasures of Italian luxury: age had not extinguished his
amorous inclinations; and he is accused of insulting, with
indiscreet and ungenerous raillery, the husbands whose wives he
had seduced or violated. ^25 But the Romans were not inclined
either to excuse his faults or to acknowledge his virtues. The
several parts of the empire became every day more alienated from
each other; and the stranger of Gaul was the object of popular
hatred and contempt. The senate asserted their legitimate claim
in the election of an emperor; and their authority, which had
been originally derived from the old constitution, was again
fortified by the actual weakness of a declining monarchy. Yet
even such a monarchy might have resisted the votes of an unarmed
senate, if their discontent had not been supported, or perhaps
inflamed, by the Count Ricimer, one of the principal commanders
of the Barbarian troops, who formed the military defence of
Italy. The daughter of Wallia, king of the Visigoths, was the
mother of Ricimer; but he was descended, on the father's side,
from the nation of the Suevi; ^26 his pride or patriotism might
be exasperated by the misfortunes of his countrymen; and he
obeyed, with reluctance, an emperor in whose elevation he had not
been consulted. His faithful and important services against the
common enemy rendered him still more formidable; ^27 and, after
destroying on the coast of Corsica a fleet of Vandals, which
consisted of sixty galleys, Ricimer returned in triumph with the
appellation of the Deliverer of Italy. He chose that moment to
signify to Avitus, that his reign was at an end; and the feeble
emperor, at a distance from his Gothic allies, was compelled,
after a short and unavailing struggle to abdicate the purple. By
the clemency, however, or the contempt, of Ricimer, ^28 he was
permitted to descend from the throne to the more desirable
station of bishop of Placentia: but the resentment of the senate
was still unsatisfied; and their inflexible severity pronounced
the sentence of his death He fled towards the Alps, with the
humble hope, not of arming the Visigoths in his cause, but of
securing his person and treasures in the sanctuary of Julian, one
of the tutelar saints of Auvergne. ^29 Disease, or the hand of
the executioner, arrested him on the road; yet his remains were
decently transported to Brivas, or Brioude, in his native
province, and he reposed at the feet of his holy patron. ^30
Avitus left only one daughter, the wife of Sidonius Apollinaris,
who inherited the patrimony of his father-in-law; lamenting, at
the same time, the disappointment of his public and private
expectations. His resentment prompted him to join, or at least
to countenance, the measures of a rebellious faction in Gaul; and
the poet had contracted some guilt, which it was incumbent on him
to expiate, by a new tribute of flattery to the succeeding
emperor. ^31

[Footnote 24: In one of the porticos or galleries belonging to
Trajan's library, among the statues of famous writers and
orators. Sidon. Apoll. l. ix. epist, 16, p. 284. Carm. viii. p.
350.]

[Footnote 25: Luxuriose agere volens a senatoribus projectus est,
is the concise expression of Gregory of Tours, (l. ii. c. xi. in
tom. ii. p. 168.) An old Chronicle (in tom. ii. p. 649) mentions
an indecent jest of Avitus, which seems more applicable to Rome
than to Treves.]

[Footnote 26: Sidonius (Panegyr. Anthem. 302, &c.) praises the
royal birth of Ricimer, the lawful heir, as he chooses to
insinuate, both of the Gothic and Suevic kingdoms.]

[Footnote 27: See the Chronicle of Idatius. Jornandes (c. xliv.
p. 676) styles him, with some truth, virum egregium, et pene tune
in Italia ad ex ercitum singularem.]

[Footnote 28: Parcens innocentiae Aviti, is the compassionate,
but contemptuous, language of Victor Tunnunensis, (in Chron. apud
Scaliger Euseb.) In another place, he calls him, vir totius
simplicitatis. This commendation is more humble, but it is more
solid and sincere, than the praises of Sidonius]

[Footnote 29: He suffered, as it is supposed, in the persecution
of Diocletian, (Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. tom. v. p. 279, 696.)
Gregory of Tours, his peculiar votary, has dedicated to the glory
of Julian the Martyr an entire book, (de Gloria Martyrum, l. ii.
in Max. Bibliot. Patrum, tom. xi. p. 861-871,) in which he
relates about fifty foolish miracles performed by his relics.]
[Footnote 30: Gregory of Tours (l. ii. c. xi. p. 168) is concise,
but correct, in the reign of his countryman. The words of
Idatius, "cadet imperio, caret et vita," seem to imply, that the
death of Avitus was violent; but it must have been secret, since
Evagrius (l. ii. c. 7) could suppose, that he died of the
plaque.]

[Footnote 31: After a modest appeal to the examples of his
brethren, Virgil and Horace, Sidonius honestly confesses the
debt, and promises payment. Sic mihi diverso nuper sub Marte
cadenti Jussisti placido Victor ut essem animo.
Serviat ergo tibi servati lingua poetae,
Atque meae vitae laus tua sit pretium.

Sidon. Apoll. Carm. iv. p. 308

See Dubos, Hist. Critique, tom. i. p. 448, &c.]

The successor of Avitus presents the welcome discovery of a
great and heroic character, such as sometimes arise, in a
degenerate age, to vindicate the honor of the human species. The
emperor Majorian has deserved the praises of his contemporaries,
and of posterity; and these praises may be strongly expressed in
the words of a judicious and disinterested historian: "That he
was gentle to his subjects; that he was terrible to his enemies;
and that he excelled, in every virtue, all his predecessors who
had reigned over the Romans." ^32 Such a testimony may justify at
least the panegyric of S donius; and we may acquiesce in the
assurance, that, although the obsequious orator would have
flattered, with equal zeal, the most worthless of princes, the
extraordinary merit of his object confined him, on this occasion,
within the bounds of truth. ^33 Majorian derived his name from
his maternal grandfather, who, in the reign of the great
Theodosius, had commanded the troops of the Illyrian frontier. He
gave his daughter in marriage to the father of Majorian, a
respectable officer, who administered the revenues of Gaul with
skill and integrity; and generously preferred the friendship of
Aetius to the tempting offer of an insidious court. His son, the
future emperor, who was educated in the profession of arms,
displayed, from his early youth, intrepid courage, premature
wisdom, and unbounded liberality in a scanty fortune. He
followed the standard of Aetius, contributed to his success,
shared, and sometimes eclipsed, his glory, and at last excited
the jealousy of the patrician, or rather of his wife, who forced
him to retire from the service. ^34 Majorian, after the death of
Aetius, was recalled and promoted; and his intimate connection
with Count Ricimer was the immediate step by which he ascended
the throne of the Western empire. During the vacancy that
succeeded the abdication of Avitus, the ambitious Barbarian,
whose birth excluded him from the Imperial dignity, governed
Italy with the title of Patrician; resigned to his friend the
conspicuous station of master-general of the cavalry and
infantry; and, after an interval of some months, consented to the
unanimous wish of the Romans, whose favor Majorian had solicited
by a recent victory over the Alemanni. ^35 He was invested with
the purple at Ravenna: and the epistle which he addressed to the
senate, will best describe his situation and his sentiments.
"Your election, Conscript Fathers! and the ordinance of the most
valiant army, have made me your emperor. ^36 May the propitious
Deity direct and prosper the counsels and events of my
administration, to your advantage and to the public welfare! For
my own part, I did not aspire, I have submitted to reign; nor
should I have discharged the obligations of a citizen if I had
refused, with base and selfish ingratitude, to support the weight
of those labors, which were imposed by the republic. Assist,
therefore, the prince whom you have made; partake the duties
which you have enjoined; and may our common endeavors promote the
happiness of an empire, which I have accepted from your hands.
Be assured, that, in our times, justice shall resume her ancient
vigor, and that virtue shall become, not only innocent, but
meritorious. Let none, except the authors themselves, be
apprehensive of delations, ^37 which, as a subject, I have always
condemned, and, as a prince, will severely punish. Our own
vigilance, and that of our father, the patrician Ricimer, shall
regulate all military affairs, and provide for the safety of the
Roman world, which we have saved from foreign and domestic
enemies. ^38 You now understand the maxims of my government; you
may confide in the faithful love and sincere assurances of a
prince who has formerly been the companion of your life and
dangers; who still glories in the name of senator, and who is
anxious that you should never repent the judgment which you have
pronounced in his favor." The emperor, who, amidst the ruins of
the Roman world, revived the ancient language of law and liberty,
which Trajan would not have disclaimed, must have derived those
generous sentiments from his own heart; since they were not
suggested to his imitation by the customs of his age, or the
example of his predecessors. ^39

[Footnote 32: The words of Procopius deserve to be transcribed
(de Bell. Vandal. l. i. c. 7, p. 194;) a concise but
comprehensive definition of royal virtue.]

[Footnote 33: The Panegyric was pronounced at Lyons before the
end of the year 458, while the emperor was still consul. It has
more art than genius, and more labor than art. The ornaments are
false and trivial; the expression is feeble and prolix; and
Sidonius wants the skill to exhibit the principal figure in a
strong and distinct light. The private life of Majorian occupies
about two hundred lines, 107 - 305.]

[Footnote 34: She pressed his immediate death, and was scarcely
satisfied with his disgrace. It should seem that Aetius, like
Belisarius and Marlborough, was governed by his wife; whose
fervent piety, though it might work miracles, (Gregor. Turon. l.
ii. c. 7, p. 162,) was not incompatible with base and sanguinary
counsels.]

[Footnote 35: The Alemanni had passed the Rhaetian Alps, and were
defeated in the Campi Canini, or Valley of Bellinzone, through
which the Tesin flows, in its descent from Mount Adula to the
Lago Maggiore, (Cluver Italia Antiq. tom. i. p. 100, 101.) This
boasted victory over nine hundred Barbarians (Panegyr. Majorian.
373, &c.) betrays the extreme weakness of Italy.]
[Footnote 36: Imperatorem me factum, P.C. electionis vestrae
arbitrio, et fortissimi exercitus ordinatione agnoscite, (Novell.
Majorian. tit. iii. p. 34, ad Calcem. Cod. Theodos.) Sidonius
proclaims the unanimous voice of the empire: -

- Postquam ordine vobis
Ordo omnis regnum dederat; plebs, curia, nules,
Et collega simul. 386.

This language is ancient and constitutional; and we may observe,
that the clergy were not yet considered as a distinct order of
the state.]
[Footnote 37: Either dilationes, or delationes would afford a
tolerable reading, but there is much more sense and spirit in the
latter, to which I have therefore given the preference.]

[Footnote 38: Ab externo hoste et a domestica clade liberavimus:
by the latter, Majorian must understand the tyranny of Avitus;
whose death he consequently avowed as a meritorious act. On this
occasion, Sidonius is fearful and obscure; he describes the
twelve Caesars, the nations of Africa, &c., that he may escape
the dangerous name of Avitus (805 - 369.)]
[Footnote 39: See the whole edict or epistle of Majorian to the
senate, (Novell. tit. iv. p. 34.) Yet the expression, regnum
nostrum, bears some taint of the age, and does not mix kindly
with the word respublica, which he frequently repeats.]

The private and public actions of Majorian are very
imperfectly known: but his laws, remarkable for an original cast
of thought and expression, faithfully represent the character of
a sovereign who loved his people, who sympathized in their
distress, who had studied the causes of the decline of the
empire, and who was capable of applying (as far as such
reformation was practicable) judicious and effectual remedies to
the public disorders. ^40 His regulations concerning the finances
manifestly tended to remove, or at least to mitigate, the most
intolerable grievances. I. From the first hour of his reign, he
was solicitous (I translate his own words) to relieve the weary
fortunes of the provincials, oppressed by the accumulated weight
of indictions and superindictions. ^41 With this view he granted
a universal amnesty, a final and absolute discharge of all
arrears of tribute, of all debts, which, under any pretence, the
fiscal officers might demand from the people. This wise
dereliction of obsolete, vexatious, and unprofitable claims,
improved and purified the sources of the public revenue; and the
subject who could now look back without despair, might labor with
hope and gratitude for himself and for his country. II. In the
assessment and collection of taxes, Majorian restored the
ordinary jurisdiction of the provincial magistrates; and
suppressed the extraordinary commissions which had been
introduced, in the name of the emperor himself, or of the
Praetorian praefects. The favorite servants, who obtained such
irregular powers, were insolent in their behavior, and arbitrary
in their demands: they affected to despise the subordinate
tribunals, and they were discontented, if their fees and profits
did not twice exceed the sum which they condescended to pay into
the treasury. One instance of their extortion would appear
incredible, were it not authenticated by the legislator himself.
They exacted the whole payment in gold: but they refused the
current coin of the empire, and would accept only such ancient
pieces as were stamped with the names of Faustina or the
Antonines. The subject, who was unprovided with these curious
medals, had recourse to the expedient of compounding with their
rapacious demands; or if he succeeded in the research, his
imposition was doubled, according to the weight and value of the
money of former times. ^42 III. "The municipal corporations,
(says the emperor,) the lesser senates, (so antiquity has justly
styled them,) deserve to be considered as the heart of the
cities, and the sinews of the republic. And yet so low are they
now reduced, by the injustice of magistrates and the venality of
collectors, that many of their members, renouncing their dignity
and their country, have taken refuge in distant and obscure
exile." He urges, and even compels, their return to their
respective cities; but he removes the grievance which had forced
them to desert the exercise of their municipal functions. They
are directed, under the authority of the provincial magistrates,
to resume their office of levying the tribute; but, instead of
being made responsible for the whole sum assessed on their
district, they are only required to produce a regular account of
the payments which they have actually received, and of the
defaulters who are still indebted to the public. IV. But Majorian
was not ignorant that these corporate bodies were too much
inclined to retaliate the injustice and oppression which they had
suffered; and he therefore revives the useful office of the
defenders of cities. He exhorts the people to elect, in a full
and free assembly, some man of discretion and integrity, who
would dare to assert their privileges, to represent their
grievances, to protect the poor from the tyranny of the rich, and
to inform the emperor of the abuses that were committed under the
sanction of his name and authority.

[Footnote 40: See the laws of Majorian (they are only nine in
number, but very long, and various) at the end of the Theodosian
Code, Novell. l. iv. p. 32 - 37. Godefroy has not given any
commentary on these additional pieces.]
[Footnote 41: Fessas provincialium varia atque multiplici
tributorum exactione fortunas, et extraordinariis fiscalium
solutionum oneribus attritas, &c. Novell. Majorian. tit. iv. p.
34.]

[Footnote 42: The learned Greaves (vol. i. p. 329, 330, 331) has
found, by a diligent inquiry, that aurei of the Antonines weighed
one hundred and eighteen, and those of the fifth century only
sixty-eight, English grains. Majorian gives currency to all gold
coin, excepting only the Gallic solidus, from its deficiency, not
in the weight, but in the standard.]
The spectator who casts a mournful view over the ruins of
ancient Rome, is tempted to accuse the memory of the Goths and
Vandals, for the mischief which they had neither leisure, nor
power, nor perhaps inclination, to perpetrate. The tempest of
war might strike some lofty turrets to the ground; but the
destruction which undermined the foundations of those massy
fabrics was prosecuted, slowly and silently, during a period of
ten centuries; and the motives of interest, that afterwards
operated without shame or control, were severely checked by the
taste and spirit of the emperor Majorian. The decay of the city
had gradually impaired the value of the public works. The circus
and theatres might still excite, but they seldom gratified, the
desires of the people: the temples, which had escaped the zeal of
the Christians, were no longer inhabited, either by gods or men;
the diminished crowds of the Romans were lost in the immense
space of their baths and porticos; and the stately libraries and
halls of justice became useless to an indolent generation, whose
repose was seldom disturbed, either by study or business. The
monuments of consular, or Imperial, greatness were no longer
revered, as the immortal glory of the capital: they were only
esteemed as an inexhaustible mine of materials, cheaper, and more
convenient than the distant quarry. Specious petitions were
continually addressed to the easy magistrates of Rome, which
stated the want of stones or bricks, for some necessary service:
the fairest forms of architecture were rudely defaced, for the
sake of some paltry, or pretended, repairs; and the degenerate
Romans, who converted the spoil to their own emolument,
demolished, with sacrilegious hands, the labors of their
ancestors. Majorian, who had often sighed over the desolation of
the city, applied a severe remedy to the growing evil. ^43 He
reserved to the prince and senate the sole cognizance of the
extreme cases which might justify the destruction of an ancient
edifice; imposed a fine of fifty pounds of gold (two thousand
pounds sterling) on every magistrate who should presume to grant
such illegal and scandalous license, and threatened to chastise
the criminal obedience of their subordinate officers, by a severe
whipping, and the amputation of both their hands. In the last
instance, the legislator might seem to forget the proportion of
guilt and punishment; but his zeal arose from a generous
principle, and Majorian was anxious to protect the monuments of
those ages, in which he would have desired and deserved to live.
The emperor conceived, that it was his interest to increase the
number of his subjects; and that it was his duty to guard the
purity of the marriage-bed: but the means which he employed to
accomplish these salutary purposes are of an ambiguous, and
perhaps exceptionable, kind. The pious maids, who consecrated
their virginity to Christ, were restrained from taking the veil
till they had reached their fortieth year. Widows under that age
were compelled to form a second alliance within the term of five
years, by the forfeiture of half their wealth to their nearest
relations, or to the state. Unequal marriages were condemned or
annulled. The punishment of confiscation and exile was deemed so
inadequate to the guilt of adultery, that, if the criminal
returned to Italy, he might, by the express declaration of
Majorian, be slain with impunity. ^44
[Footnote 43: The whole edict (Novell. Majorian. tit. vi. p. 35)
is curious. "Antiquarum aedium dissipatur speciosa constructio;
et ut aliquid reparetur, magna diruuntur. Hinc jam occasio
nascitur, ut etiam unusquisque privatum aedificium construens,
per gratiam judicum ..... praesumere de publicis locis
necessaria, et transferre non dubitet" &c. With equal zeal, but
with less power, Petrarch, in the fourteenth century, repeated
the same complaints. (Vie de Petrarque, tom. i. p. 326, 327.) If
I prosecute this history, I shall not be unmindful of the decline
and fall of the city of Rome; an interesting object to which any
plan was originally confined.]

[Footnote 44: The emperor chides the lenity of Rogatian, consular
of Tuscany in a style of acrimonious reproof, which sounds almost
like personal resentment, (Novell. tit. ix. p. 47.) The law of
Majorian, which punished obstinate widows, was soon afterwards
repealed by his successor Severus, (Novell. Sever. tit. i. p.
37.)]

While the emperor Majorian assiduously labored to restore
the happiness and virtue of the Romans, he encountered the arms
of Genseric, from his character and situation their most
formidable enemy. A fleet of Vandals and Moors landed at the
mouth of the Liris, or Garigliano; but the Imperial troops
surprised and attacked the disorderly Barbarians, who were
encumbered with the spoils of Campania; they were chased with
slaughter to their ships, and their leader, the king's
brother-in-law, was found in the number of the slain. ^45 Such
vigilance might announce the character of the new reign; but the
strictest vigilance, and the most numerous forces, were
insufficient to protect the long-extended coast of Italy from the
depredations of a naval war. The public opinion had imposed a
nobler and more arduous task on the genius of Majorian. Rome
expected from him alone the restitution of Africa; and the
design, which he formed, of attacking the Vandals in their new
settlements, was the result of bold and judicious policy. If the
intrepid emperor could have infused his own spirit into the youth
of Italy; if he could have revived in the field of Mars, the
manly exercises in which he had always surpassed his equals; he
might have marched against Genseric at the head of a Roman army.
Such a reformation of national manners might be embraced by the
rising generation; but it is the misfortune of those princes who
laboriously sustain a declining monarchy, that, to obtain some
immediate advantage, or to avert some impending danger, they are
forced to countenance, and even to multiply, the most pernicious
abuses. Majorian, like the weakest of his predecessors, was
reduced to the disgraceful expedient of substituting Barbarian
auxiliaries in the place of his unwarlike subjects: and his
superior abilities could only be displayed in the vigor and
dexterity with which he wielded a dangerous instrument, so apt to
recoil on the hand that used it. Besides the confederates, who
were already engaged in the service of the empire, the fame of
his liberality and valor attracted the nations of the Danube, the
Borysthenes, and perhaps of the Tanais. Many thousands of the
bravest subjects of Attila, the Gepidae, the Ostrogoths, the
Rugians, the Burgundians, the Suevi, the Alani, assembled in the
plains of Liguria; and their formidable strength was balanced by
their mutual animosities. ^46 They passed the Alps in a severe
winter. The emperor led the way, on foot, and in complete armor;
sounding, with his long staff, the depth of the ice, or snow, and
encouraging the Scythians, who complained of the extreme cold, by
the cheerful assurance, that they should be satisfied with the
heat of Africa. The citizens of Lyons had presumed to shut their
gates; they soon implored, and experienced, the clemency of
Majorian. He vanquished Theodoric in the field; and admitted to
his friendship and alliance a king whom he had found not unworthy
of his arms. The beneficial, though precarious, reunion of the
greater part of Gaul and Spain, was the effect of persuasion, as
well as of force; ^47 and the independent Bagaudae, who had
escaped, or resisted, the oppression, of former reigns, were
disposed to confide in the virtues of Majorian. His camp was
filled with Barbarian allies; his throne was supported by the
zeal of an affectionate people; but the emperor had foreseen,
that it was impossible, without a maritime power, to achieve the
conquest of Africa. In the first Punic war, the republic had
exerted such incredible diligence, that, within sixty days after
the first stroke of the axe had been given in the forest, a fleet
of one hundred and sixty galleys proudly rode at anchor in the
sea. ^48 Under circumstances much less favorable, Majorian
equalled the spirit and perseverance of the ancient Romans. The
woods of the Apennine were felled; the arsenals and manufactures
of Ravenna and Misenum were restored; Italy and Gaul vied with
each other in liberal contributions to the public service; and
the Imperial navy of three hundred large galleys, with an
adequate proportion of transports and smaller vessels, was
collected in the secure and capacious harbor of Carthagena in
Spain. ^49 The intrepid countenance of Majorian animated his
troops with a confidence of victory; and, if we might credit the
historian Procopius, his courage sometimes hurried him beyond the
bounds of prudence. Anxious to explore, with his own eyes, the
state of the Vandals, he ventured, after disguising the color of
his hair, to visit Carthage, in the character of his own
ambassador: and Genseric was afterwards mortified by the
discovery, that he had entertained and dismissed the emperor of
the Romans. Such an anecdote may be rejected as an improbable
fiction; but it is a fiction which would not have been imagined,
unless in the life of a hero. ^50
[Footnote 45: Sidon. Panegyr. Majorian, 385 - 440.]

[Footnote 46: The review of the army, and passage of the Alps,
contain the most tolerable passages of the Panegyric, (470 -
552.) M. de Buat (Hist. des Peuples, &c., tom. viii. p. 49 - 55
is a more satisfactory commentator, than either Savaron or
Sirmond.]

[Footnote 47: It is the just and forcible distinction of Priscus,
(Excerpt. Legat. p. 42,) in a short fragment, which throws much
light on the history of Majorian. Jornandes has suppressed the
defeat and alliance of the Visigoths, which were solemnly
proclaimed in Gallicia; and are marked in the Chronicle of
Idatius.]

[Footnote 48: Florus, l. ii. c. 2. He amuses himself with the
poetical fancy, that the trees had been transformed into ships;
and indeed the whole transaction, as it is related in the first
book of Polybius, deviates too much from the probable course of
human events.]

[Footnote 49: Iterea duplici texis dum littore classem
Inferno superoque mari, cadit omnis in aequor

Sylva tibi, &c.

Sidon. Panegyr. Majorian, 441-461.

The number of ships, which Priscus fixed at 300, is magnified, by
an indefinite comparison with the fleets of Agamemnon, Xerxes,
and Augustus.]

[Footnote 50: Procopius de Bell. Vandal. l. i. c. 8, p. 194.
When Genseric conducted his unknown guest into the arsenal of
Carthage, the arms clashed of their own accord. Majorian had
tinged his yellow locks with a black color.]

Chapter XXXVI: Total Extinction Of The Western Empire.

Part III.

Without the help of a personal interview, Genseric was
sufficiently acquainted with the genius and designs of his
adversary. He practiced his customary arts of fraud and delay,
but he practiced them without success. His applications for peace
became each hour more submissive, and perhaps more sincere; but
the inflexible Majorian had adopted the ancient maxim, that Rome
could not be safe, as long as Carthage existed in a hostile
state. The king of the Vandals distrusted the valor of his
native subjects, who were enervated by the luxury of the South;
^51 he suspected the fidelity of the vanquished people, who
abhorred him as an Arian tyrant; and the desperate measure, which
he executed, of reducing Mauritania into a desert, ^52 could not
defeat the operations of the Roman emperor, who was at liberty to
land his troops on any part of the African coast. But Genseric
was saved from impending and inevitable ruin by the treachery of
some powerful subjects, envious, or apprehensive, of their
master's success. Guided by their secret intelligence, he
surprised the unguarded fleet in the Bay of Carthagena: many of
the ships were sunk, or taken, or burnt; and the preparations of
three years were destroyed in a single day. ^53 After this event,
the behavior of the two antagonists showed them superior to their
fortune. The Vandal, instead of being elated by this accidental
victory, immediately renewed his solicitations for peace. The
emperor of the West, who was capable of forming great designs,
and of supporting heavy disappointments, consented to a treaty,
or rather to a suspension of arms; in the full assurance that,
before he could restore his navy, he should be supplied with
provocations to justify a second war. Majorian returned to Italy,
to prosecute his labors for the public happiness; and, as he was
conscious of his own integrity, he might long remain ignorant of
the dark conspiracy which threatened his throne and his life.
The recent misfortune of Carthagena sullied the glory which had
dazzled the eyes of the multitude; almost every description of
civil and military officers were exasperated against the
Reformer, since they all derived some advantage from the abuses
which he endeavored to suppress; and the patrician Ricimer
impelled the inconstant passions of the Barbarians against a
prince whom he esteemed and hated. The virtues of Majorian could
not protect him from the impetuous sedition, which broke out in
the camp near Tortona, at the foot of the Alps. He was compelled
to abdicate the Imperial purple: five days after his abdication,
it was reported that he died of a dysentery; ^54 and the humble
tomb, which covered his remains, was consecrated by the respect
and gratitude of succeeding generations. ^55 The private
character of Majorian inspired love and respect. Malicious
calumny and satire excited his indignation, or, if he himself
were the object, his contempt; but he protected the freedom of
wit, and, in the hours which the emperor gave to the familiar
society of his friends, he could indulge his taste for
pleasantry, without degrading the majesty of his rank. ^56
[Footnote 51: Spoliisque potitus
Immensis, robux luxu jam perdidit omne,
Quo valuit dum pauper erat.

Panegyr. Majorian, 330.

He afterwards applies to Genseric, unjustly, as it should seem,
the vices of his subjects.]

[Footnote 52: He burnt the villages, and poisoned the springs,
(Priscus, p. 42.) Dubos (Hist. Critique, tom. i. p. 475)
observes, that the magazines which the Moors buried in the earth
might escape his destructive search. Two or three hundred pits
are sometimes dug in the same place; and each pit contains at
least four hundred bushels of corn Shaw's Travels, p. 139.]
[Footnote 53: Idatius, who was safe in Gallicia from the power of
Recimer boldly and honestly declares, Vandali per proditeres
admoniti, &c: i. e. dissembles, however, the name of the
traitor.]

[Footnote 54: Procop. de Bell. Vandal. l. i. i. c. 8, p. 194.
The testimony of Idatius is fair and impartial: "Majorianum de
Galliis Romam redeuntem, et Romano imperio vel nomini res
necessarias ordinantem; Richimer livore percitus, et invidorum
consilio fultus, fraude interficit circumventum." Some read
Suevorum, and I am unwilling to efface either of the words, as
they express the different accomplices who united in the
conspiracy against Majorian.]

[Footnote 55: See the Epigrams of Ennodius, No. cxxxv. inter
Sirmond. Opera, tom. i. p. 1903. It is flat and obscure; but
Ennodius was made bishop of Pavia fifty years after the death of
Majorian, and his praise deserves credit and regard.]

[Footnote 56: Sidonius gives a tedious account (l. i. epist. xi.
p. 25-31) of a supper at Arles, to which he was invited by
Majorian, a short time before his death. He had no intention of
praising a deceased emperor: but a casual disinterested remark,
"Subrisit Augustus; ut erat, auctoritate servata, cum se
communioni dedisset, joci plenus," outweighs the six hundred
lines of his venal panegyric.]

It was not, perhaps, without some regret, that Ricimer
sacrificed his friend to the interest of his ambition: but he
resolved, in a second choice, to avoid the imprudent preference
of superior virtue and merit. At his command, the obsequious
senate of Rome bestowed the Imperial title on Libius Severus, who
ascended the throne of the West without emerging from the
obscurity of a private condition. History has scarcely deigned
to notice his birth, his elevation, his character, or his death.
Severus expired, as soon as his life became inconvenient to his
patron; ^57 and it would be useless to discriminate his nominal
reign in the vacant interval of six years, between the death of
Majorian and the elevation of Anthemius. During that period, the
government was in the hands of Ricimer alone; and, although the
modest Barbarian disclaimed the name of king, he accumulated
treasures, formed a separate army, negotiated private alliances,
and ruled Italy with the same independent and despotic authority,
which was afterwards exercised by Odoacer and Theodoric. But his
dominions were bounded by the Alps; and two Roman generals,
Marcellinus and Aegidius, maintained their allegiance to the
republic, by rejecting, with disdain, the phantom which he styled
an emperor. Marcellinus still adhered to the old religion; and
the devout Pagans, who secretly disobeyed the laws of the church
and state, applauded his profound skill in the science of
divination. But he possessed the more valuable qualifications of
learning, virtue, and courage; ^58 the study of the Latin
literature had improved his taste; and his military talents had
recommended him to the esteem and confidence of the great Aetius,
in whose ruin he was involved. By a timely flight, Marcellinus
escaped the rage of Valentinian, and boldly asserted his liberty
amidst the convulsions of the Western empire. His voluntary, or
reluctant, submission to the authority of Majorian, was rewarded
by the government of Sicily, and the command of an army,
stationed in that island to oppose, or to attack, the Vandals;
but his Barbarian mercenaries, after the emperor's death, were
tempted to revolt by the artful liberality of Ricimer. At the
head of a band of faithful followers, the intrepid Marcellinus
occupied the province of Dalmatia, assumed the title of patrician
of the West, secured the love of his subjects by a mild and
equitable reign, built a fleet which claimed the dominion of the
Adriatic, and alternately alarmed the coasts of Italy and of
Africa. ^59 Aegidius, the master-general of Gaul, who equalled,
or at least who imitated, the heroes of ancient Rome, ^60
proclaimed his immortal resentment against the assassins of his
beloved master. A brave and numerous army was attached to his
standard: and, though he was prevented by the arts of Ricimer,
and the arms of the Visigoths, from marching to the gates of
Rome, he maintained his independent sovereignty beyond the Alps,
and rendered the name of Aegidius, respectable both in peace and
war. The Franks, who had punished with exile the youthful
follies of Childeric, elected the Roman general for their king:
his vanity, rather than his ambition, was gratified by that
singular honor; and when the nation, at the end of four years,
repented of the injury which they had offered to the Merovingian
family, he patiently acquiesced in the restoration of the lawful
prince. The authority of Aegidius ended only with his life, and
the suspicions of poison and secret violence, which derived some
countenance from the character of Ricimer, were eagerly
entertained by the passionate credulity of the Gauls. ^61

[Footnote 57: Sidonius (Panegyr. Anthem. 317) dismisses him to
heaven: - Auxerat Augustus naturae lege Severus

Divorum numerum.

And an old list of the emperors, composed about the time of
Justinian, praises his piety, and fixes his residence at Rome,
(Sirmond. Not. ad Sidon. p. 111, 112.)]

[Footnote 58: Tillemont, who is always scandalized by the virtues
of infidels, attributes this advantageous portrait of Marcellinus
(which Suidas has preserved) to the partial zeal of some Pagan
historian, (Hist. des Empereurs. tom. vi. p. 330.)]

[Footnote 59: Procopius de Bell. Vandal. l. i. c. 6, p. 191. In
various circumstances of the life of Marcellinus, it is not easy
to reconcile the Greek historian with the Latin Chronicles of the
times.]

[Footnote 60: I must apply to Aegidius the praises which Sidonius
(Panegyr Majorian, 553) bestows on a nameless master-general, who
commanded the rear-guard of Majorian. Idatius, from public
report, commends his Christian piety; and Priscus mentions (p.
42) his military virtues.]
[Footnote 61: Greg. Turon. l. ii. c. 12, in tom. ii. p. 168. The
Pere Daniel, whose ideas were superficial and modern, has started
some objections against the story of Childeric, (Hist. de France,
tom. i. Preface Historique, p. lxxvii., &c.:) but they have been
fairly satisfied by Dubos, (Hist. Critique, tom. i. p. 460-510,)
and by two authors who disputed the prize of the Academy of
Soissons, (p. 131-177, 310-339.) With regard to the term of
Childeric's exile, it is necessary either to prolong the life of
Aegidius beyond the date assigned by the Chronicle of Idatius or
to correct the text of Gregory, by reading quarto anno, instead
of octavo.]

The kingdom of Italy, a name to which the Western empire was
gradually reduced, was afflicted, under the reign of Ricimer, by
the incessant depredations of the Vandal pirates. ^62 In the
spring of each year, they equipped a formidable navy in the port
of Carthage; and Genseric himself, though in a very advanced age,
still commanded in person the most important expeditions. His
designs were concealed with impenetrable secrecy, till the moment
that he hoisted sail. When he was asked, by his pilot, what
course he should steer, "Leave the determination to the winds,
(replied the Barbarian, with pious arrogance;) they will
transport us to the guilty coast, whose inhabitants have provoked
the divine justice;" but if Genseric himself deigned to issue
more precise orders, he judged the most wealthy to be the most
criminal. The Vandals repeatedly visited the coasts of Spain,
Liguria, Tuscany, Campania, Lucania, Bruttium, Apulia, Calabria,
Venetia, Dalmatia, Epirus, Greece, and Sicily: they were tempted
to subdue the Island of Sardinia, so advantageously placed in the
centre of the Mediterranean; and their arms spread desolation, or
terror, from the columns of Hercules to the mouth of the Nile.
As they were more ambitious of spoil than of glory, they seldom
attacked any fortified cities, or engaged any regular troops in
the open field. But the celerity of their motions enabled them,
almost at the same time, to threaten and to attack the most
distant objects, which attracted their desires; and as they
always embarked a sufficient number of horses, they had no sooner
landed, than they swept the dismayed country with a body of light
cavalry. Yet, notwithstanding the example of their king, the
native Vandals and Alani insensibly declined this toilsome and
perilous warfare; the hardy generation of the first conquerors
was almost extinguished, and their sons, who were born in Africa,
enjoyed the delicious baths and gardens which had been acquired
by the valor of their fathers. Their place was readily supplied
by a various multitude of Moors and Romans, of captives and
outlaws; and those desperate wretches, who had already violated
the laws of their country, were the most eager to promote the
atrocious acts which disgrace the victories of Genseric. In the
treatment of his unhappy prisoners, he sometimes consulted his
avarice, and sometimes indulged his cruelty; and the massacre of
five hundred noble citizens of Zant or Zacynthus, whose mangled
bodies he cast into the Ionian Sea, was imputed, by the public
indignation, to his latest posterity.

[Footnote 62: The naval war of Genseric is described by Priscus,
(Excerpta Legation. p. 42,) Procopius, (de Bell. Vandal. l. i. c.
5, p. 189, 190, and c. 22, p. 228,) Victor Vitensis, (de
Persecut. Vandal. l. i. c. 17, and Ruinart, p. 467-481,) and in
three panegyrics of Sidonius, whose chronological order is
absurdly transposed in the editions both of Savaron and Sirmond.
(Avit. Carm. vii. 441-451. Majorian. Carm. v. 327-350, 385- 440.

Anthem. Carm. ii. 348-386) In one passage the poet seems inspired
by his subject, and expresses a strong idea by a lively image: -
- Hinc Vandalus hostis
Urget; et in nostrum numerosa classe quotannis
Militat excidium; conversoque ordine Fati
Torrida Caucaseos infert mihi Byrsa furoree]

Such crimes could not be excused by any provocations; but
the war, which the king of the Vandals prosecuted against the
Roman empire was justified by a specious and reasonable motive.
The widow of Valentinian, Eudoxia, whom he had led captive from
Rome to Carthage, was the sole heiress of the Theodosian house;
her elder daughter, Eudocia, became the reluctant wife of
Hunneric, his eldest son; and the stern father, asserting a legal
claim, which could not easily be refuted or satisfied, demanded a
just proportion of the Imperial patrimony. An adequate, or at
least a valuable, compensation, was offered by the Eastern
emperor, to purchase a necessary peace. Eudoxia and her younger
daughter, Placidia, were honorably restored, and the fury of the
Vandals was confined to the limits of the Western empire. The
Italians, destitute of a naval force, which alone was capable of
protecting their coasts, implored the aid of the more fortunate
nations of the East; who had formerly acknowledged, in peace and
war, the supremacy of Rome. But the perpetual divisions of the
two empires had alienated their interest and their inclinations;
the faith of a recent treaty was alleged; and the Western Romans,
instead of arms and ships, could only obtain the assistance of a
cold and ineffectual mediation. The haughty Ricimer, who had long
struggled with the difficulties of his situation, was at length
reduced to address the throne of Constantinople, in the humble
language of a subject; and Italy submitted, as the price and
security to accept a master from the choice of the emperor of the
East. ^63 It is not the purpose of the present chapter, or even
of the present volume, to continue the distinct series of the
Byzantine history; but a concise view of the reign and character
of the emperor Leo, may explain the last efforts that were
attempted to save the falling empire of the West. ^64
[Footnote 63: The poet himself is compelled to acknowledge the
distress of Ricimer: -

Praeterea invictus Ricimer, quem publica fata
Respiciunt, proprio solas vix Marte repellit
Piratam per rura vagum.

Italy addresses her complaint to the Tyber, and Rome, at the
solicitation of the river god, transports herself to
Constantinople, renounces her ancient claims, and implores the
friendship of Aurora, the goddess of the East. This fabulous
machinery, which the genius of Claudian had used and abused, is
the constant and miserable resource of the muse of Sidonius.]
[Footnote 64: The original authors of the reigns of Marcian, Leo,
and Zeno, are reduced to some imperfect fragments, whose
deficiencies must be supplied from the more recent compilations
of Theophanes, Zonaras, and Cedrenus.]
Since the death of the younger Theodosius, the domestic
repose of Constantinople had never been interrupted by war or
faction. Pulcheria had bestowed her hand, and the sceptre of the
East, on the modest virtue of Marcian: he gratefully reverenced
her august rank and virgin chastity; and, after her death, he
gave his people the example of the religious worship that was due
to the memory of the Imperial saint. ^65 Attentive to the
prosperity of his own dominions, Marcian seemed to behold, with
indifference, the misfortunes of Rome; and the obstinate refusal
of a brave and active prince, to draw his sword against the
Vandals, was ascribed to a secret promise, which had formerly
been exacted from him when he was a captive in the power of
Genseric. ^66 The death of Marcian, after a reign of seven years,
would have exposed the East to the danger of a popular election;
if the superior weight of a single family had not been able to
incline the balance in favor of the candidate whose interest they
supported. The patrician Aspar might have placed the diadem on
his own head, if he would have subscribed the Nicene creed. ^67
During three generations, the armies of the East were
successively commanded by his father, by himself, and by his son
Ardaburius; his Barbarian guards formed a military force that
overawed the palace and the capital; and the liberal distribution
of his immense treasures rendered Aspar as popular as he was
powerful. He recommended the obscure name of Leo of Thrace, a
military tribune, and the principal steward of his household.
His nomination was unanimously ratified by the senate; and the
servant of Aspar received the Imperial crown from the hands of
the patriarch or bishop, who was permitted to express, by this
unusual ceremony, the suffrage of the Deity. ^68 This emperor,
the first of the name of Leo, has been distinguished by the title
of the Great; from a succession of princes, who gradually fixed
in the opinion of the Greeks a very humble standard of heroic, or
at least of royal, perfection. Yet the temperate firmness with
which Leo resisted the oppression of his benefactor, showed that
he was conscious of his duty and of his prerogative. Aspar was
astonished to find that his influence could no longer appoint a
praefect of Constantinople: he presumed to reproach his sovereign
with a breach of promise, and insolently shaking his purple, "It
is not proper, (said he,) that the man who is invested with this
garment, should be guilty of lying." "Nor is it proper, (replied
Leo,) that a prince should be compelled to resign his own
judgment, and the public interest, to the will of a subject."69
After this extraordinary scene, it was impossible that the
reconciliation of the emperor and the patrician could be sincere;
or, at least, that it could be solid and permanent. An army of
Isaurians ^70 was secretly levied, and introduced into
Constantinople; and while Leo undermined the authority, and
prepared the disgrace, of the family of Aspar, his mild and
cautious behavior restrained them from any rash and desperate
attempts, which might have been fatal to themselves, or their
enemies. The measures of peace and war were affected by this
internal revolution. As long as Aspar degraded the majesty of
the throne, the secret correspondence of religion and interest
engaged him to favor the cause of Genseric. When Leo had
delivered himself from that ignominious servitude, he listened to
the complaints of the Italians; resolved to extirpate the tyranny
of the Vandals; and declared his alliance with his colleague,
Anthemius, whom he solemnly invested with the diadem and purple
of the West.

[Footnote 65: St. Pulcheria died A.D. 453, four years before her
nominal husband; and her festival is celebrated on the 10th of
September by the modern Greeks: she bequeathed an immense
patrimony to pious, or, at least, to ecclesiastical, uses. See
Tillemont, Memoires Eccles. tom. xv p. 181 - 184.]
[Footnote 66: See Procopius, de Bell. Vandal. l. i. c. 4, p.
185.]
[Footnote 67: From this disability of Aspar to ascend the throne,
it may be inferred that the stain of Heresy was perpetual and
indelible, while that of Barbarism disappeared in the second
generation.]

[Footnote 68: Theophanes, p. 95. This appears to be the first
origin of a ceremony, which all the Christian princes of the
world have since adopted and from which the clergy have deduced
the most formidable consequences.]
[Footnote 69: Cedrenus, (p. 345, 346,) who was conversant with
the writers of better days, has preserved the remarkable words of
Aspar.]
[Footnote 70: The power of the Isaurians agitated the Eastern
empire in the two succeeding reigns of Zeno and Anastasius; but
it ended in the destruction of those Barbarians, who maintained
their fierce independences about two hundred and thirty years.]
The virtues of Anthemius have perhaps been magnified, since
the Imperial descent, which he could only deduce from the usurper
Procopius, has been swelled into a line of emperors. ^71 But the
merit of his immediate parents, their honors, and their riches,
rendered Anthemius one of the most illustrious subjects of the
East. His father, Procopius, obtained, after his Persian
embassy, the rank of general and patrician; and the name of
Anthemius was derived from his maternal grandfather, the
celebrated praefect, who protected, with so much ability and
success, the infant reign of Theodosius. The grandson of the
praefect was raised above the condition of a private subject, by
his marriage with Euphemia, the daughter of the emperor Marcian.
This splendid alliance, which might supersede the necessity of
merit, hastened the promotion of Anthemius to the successive
dignities of count, of master-general, of consul, and of
patrician; and his merit or fortune claimed the honors of a
victory, which was obtained on the banks of the Danube, over the
Huns. Without indulging an extravagant ambition, the son-in-law
of Marcian might hope to be his successor; but Anthemius
supported the disappointment with courage and patience; and his
subsequent elevation was universally approved by the public, who
esteemed him worthy to reign, till he ascended the throne. ^72
The emperor of the West marched from Constantinople, attended by
several counts of high distinction, and a body of guards almost
equal to the strength and numbers of a regular army: he entered
Rome in triumph, and the choice of Leo was confirmed by the
senate, the people, and the Barbarian confederates of Italy. ^73
The solemn inauguration of Anthemius was followed by the nuptials
of his daughter and the patrician Ricimer; a fortunate event,
which was considered as the firmest security of the union and
happiness of the state. The wealth of two empires was
ostentatiously displayed; and many senators completed their ruin,
by an expensive effort to disguise their poverty. All serious
business was suspended during this festival; the courts of
justice were shut; the streets of Rome, the theatres, the places
of public and private resort, resounded with hymeneal songs and
dances: and the royal bride, clothed in silken robes, with a
crown on her head, was conducted to the palace of Ricimer, who
had changed his military dress for the habit of a consul and a
senator. On this memorable occasion, Sidonius, whose early
ambition had been so fatally blasted, appeared as the orator of
Auvergne, among the provincial deputies who addressed the throne
with congratulations or complaints. ^74 The calends of January
were now approaching, and the venal poet, who had loved Avitus,
and esteemed Majorian, was persuaded by his friends to celebrate,
in heroic verse, the merit, the felicity, the second consulship,
and the future triumphs, of the emperor Anthemius. Sidonius
pronounced, with assurance and success, a panegyric which is
still extant; and whatever might be the imperfections, either of
the subject or of the composition, the welcome flatterer was
immediately rewarded with the praefecture of Rome; a dignity
which placed him among the illustrious personages of the empire,
till he wisely preferred the more respectable character of a
bishop and a saint. ^75

[Footnote 71: - Tali tu civis ab urbe
Procopio genitore micas; cui prisca propago

Augustis venit a proavis.

The poet (Sidon. Panegyr. Anthem. 67 - 306) then proceeds to
relate the private life and fortunes of the future emperor, with
which he must have been imperfectly acquainted.]

[Footnote 72: Sidonius discovers, with tolerable ingenuity, that
this disappointment added new lustre to the virtues of Anthemius,
(210, &c.,) who declined one sceptre, and reluctantly accepted
another, (22, &c.)]
[Footnote 73: The poet again celebrates the unanimity of all
orders of the state, (15 - 22;) and the Chronicle of Idatius
mentions the forces which attended his march.]

[Footnote 74: Interveni autem nuptiis Patricii Ricimeris, cui
filia perennis Augusti in spem publicae securitatis copulabator.
The journey of Sidonius from Lyons, and the festival of Rome, are
described with some spirit. L. i. epist. 5, p. 9 - 13, epist. 9,
p. 21.]

[Footnote 75: Sidonius (l. i. epist. 9, p. 23, 24) very fairly
states his motive, his labor, and his reward. "Hic ipse
Panegyricus, si non judicium, certa eventum, boni operis,
accepit." He was made bishop of Clermont, A.D. 471. Tillemont,
Mem. Eccles. tom. xvi. p. 750.]

The Greeks ambitiously commend the piety and catholic faith
of the emperor whom they gave to the West; nor do they forget to
observe, that when he left Constantinople, he converted his
palace into the pious foundation of a public bath, a church, and
a hospital for old men. ^76 Yet some suspicious appearances are
found to sully the theological fame of Anthemius. From the
conversation of Philotheus, a Macedonian sectary, he had imbibed
the spirit of religious toleration; and the Heretics of Rome
would have assembled with impunity, if the bold and vehement
censure which Pope Hilary pronounced in the church of St. Peter,
had not obliged him to abjure the unpopular indulgence. ^77 Even
the Pagans, a feeble and obscure remnant, conceived some vain
hopes, from the indifference, or partiality, of Anthemius; and
his singular friendship for the philosopher Severus, whom he
promoted to the consulship, was ascribed to a secret project, of
reviving the ancient worship of the gods. ^78 These idols were
crumbled into dust: and the mythology which had once been the
creed of nations, was so universally disbelieved, that it might
be employed without scandal, or at least without suspicion, by
Christian poets. ^79 Yet the vestiges of superstition were not
absolutely obliterated, and the festival of the Lupercalia, whose
origin had preceded the foundation of Rome, was still celebrated
under the reign of Anthemius. The savage and simple rites were
expressive of an early state of society before the invention of
arts and agriculture. The rustic deities who presided over the
toils and pleasures of the pastoral life, Pan, Faunus, and their
train of satyrs, were such as the fancy of shepherds might
create, sportive, petulant, and lascivious; whose power was
limited, and whose malice was inoffensive. A goat was the
offering the best adapted to their character and attributes; the
flesh of the victim was roasted on willow spits; and the riotous
youths, who crowded to the feast, ran naked about the fields,
with leather thongs in their hands, communicating, as it was
supposed, the blessing of fecundity to the women whom they
touched. ^80 The altar of Pan was erected, perhaps by Evander the
Arcadian, in a dark recess in the side of the Palantine hill,
watered by a perpetual fountain, and shaded by a hanging grove.
A tradition, that, in the same place, Romulus and Remus were
suckled by the wolf, rendered it still more sacred and venerable
in the eyes of the Romans; and this sylvan spot was gradually
surrounded by the stately edifices of the Forum. ^81 After the
conversion of the Imperial city, the Christians still continued,
in the month of February, the annual celebration of the
Lupercalia; to which they ascribed a secret and mysterious
influence on the genial powers of the animal and vegetable world.

The bishops of Rome were solicitous to abolish a profane custom,
so repugnant to the spirit of Christianity; but their zeal was
not supported by the authority of the civil magistrate: the
inveterate abuse subsisted till the end of the fifth century, and
Pope Gelasius, who purified the capital from the last stain of
idolatry, appeased by a formal apology, the murmurs of the senate
and people. ^82

[Footnote 76: The palace of Anthemius stood on the banks of the
Propontis. In the ninth century, Alexius, the son-in-law of the
emperor Theophilus, obtained permission to purchase the ground;
and ended his days in a monastery which he founded on that
delightful spot. Ducange Constantinopolis Christiana, p. 117,
152.]

[Footnote 77: Papa Hilarius ... apud beatum Petrum Apostolum,
palam ne id fieret, clara voce constrinxit, in tantum ut non ea
facienda cum interpositione juramenti idem promitteret Imperator.

Gelasius Epistol ad Andronicum, apud Baron. A.D. 467, No. 3. The
cardinal observes, with some complacency, that it was much easier
to plant heresies at Constantinople, than at Rome.]

[Footnote 78: Damascius, in the life of the philosopher Isidore,
apud Photium, p. 1049. Damascius, who lived under Justinian,
composed another work, consisting of 570 praeternatural stories
of souls, daemons, apparitions, the dotage of Platonic Paganism.]

[Footnote 79: In the poetical works of Sidonius, which he
afterwards condemned, (l. ix. epist. 16, p. 285,) the fabulous
deities are the principal actors. If Jerom was scourged by the
angels for only reading Virgil, the bishop of Clermont, for such
a vile imitation, deserved an additional whipping from the
Muses.]

[Footnote 80: Ovid (Fast. l. ii. 267 - 452) has given an amusing
description of the follies of antiquity, which still inspired so
much respect, that a grave magistrate, running naked through the
streets, was not an object of astonishment or laughter.]

[Footnote 81: See Dionys. Halicarn. l. i. p. 25, 65, edit.
Hudson. The Roman antiquaries Donatus (l. ii. c. 18, p. 173,
174) and Nardini (p. 386, 387) have labored to ascertain the true
situation of the Lupercal.]

[Footnote 82: Baronius published, from the MSS. of the Vatican,
this epistle of Pope Gelasius, (A.D. 496, No. 28 - 45,) which is
entitled Adversus Andromachum Senatorem, caeterosque Romanos, qui
Lupercalia secundum morem pristinum colenda constituebant.
Gelasius always supposes that his adversaries are nominal
Christians, and, that he may not yield to them in absurd
prejudice, he imputes to this harmless festival all the
calamities of the age.]

Chapter XXXVI: Total Extinction Of The Western Empire.

Part IV.

In all his public declarations, the emperor Leo assumes the
authority, and professes the affection, of a father, for his son
Anthemius, with whom he had divided the administration of the
universe. ^83 The situation, and perhaps the character, of Leo,
dissuaded him from exposing his person to the toils and dangers
of an African war. But the powers of the Eastern empire were
strenuously exerted to deliver Italy and the Mediterranean from
the Vandals; and Genseric, who had so long oppressed both the
land and sea, was threatened from every side with a formidable
invasion. The campaign was opened by a bold and successful
enterprise of the praefect Heraclius. ^84 The troops of Egypt,
Thebais, and Libya, were embarked, under his command; and the
Arabs, with a train of horses and camels, opened the roads of the
desert. Heraclius landed on the coast of Tripoli, surprised and
subdued the cities of that province, and prepared, by a laborious
march, which Cato had formerly executed, ^85 to join the Imperial
army under the walls of Carthage. The intelligence of this loss
extorted from Genseric some insidious and ineffectual
propositions of peace; but he was still more seriously alarmed by
the reconciliation of Marcellinus with the two empires. The
independent patrician had been persuaded to acknowledge the

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