Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

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

Part 5 out of 14

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

usurped the wealth, the honors, and the palaces of Rome; and
oppressed, or protected, the poor and humble remains of consular
families; who were ignorant, perhaps, of the glory of their
ancestors. ^12

[Footnote 11: See Jerom, tom. i. p. 169, 170, ad Eustochium; he
bestows on Paula the splendid titles of Gracchorum stirps,
soboles Scipionum, Pauli haeres, cujus vocabulum trahit, Martiae
Papyriae Matris Africani vera et germana propago. This
particular description supposes a more solid title than the
surname of Julius, which Toxotius shared with a thousand families
of the western provinces. See the Index of Tacitus, of Gruter's
Inscriptions, &c.]
[Footnote 12: Tacitus (Annal. iii. 55) affirms, that between the
battle of Actium and the reign of Vespasian, the senate was
gradually filled with new families from the Municipia and
colonies of Italy.]

In the time of Jerom and Claudian, the senators unanimously
yielded the preeminence to the Anician line; and a slight view of
their history will serve to appreciate the rank and antiquity of
the noble families, which contended only for the second place.
^13 During the five first ages of the city, the name of the
Anicians was unknown; they appear to have derived their origin
from Praeneste; and the ambition of those new citizens was long
satisfied with the Plebeian honors of tribunes of the people. ^14
One hundred and sixty-eight years before the Christian aera, the
family was ennobled by the Praetorship of Anicius, who gloriously
terminated the Illyrian war, by the conquest of the nation, and
the captivity of their king. ^15 From the triumph of that
general, three consulships, in distant periods, mark the
succession of the Anician name. ^16 From the reign of Diocletian
to the final extinction of the Western empire, that name shone
with a lustre which was not eclipsed, in the public estimation,
by the majesty of the Imperial purple. ^17 The several branches,
to whom it was communicated, united, by marriage or inheritance,
the wealth and titles of the Annian, the Petronian, and the
Olybrian houses; and in each generation the number of consulships
was multiplied by an hereditary claim. ^18 The Anician family
excelled in faith and in riches: they were the first of the Roman
senate who embraced Christianity; and it is probable that Anicius
Julian, who was afterwards consul and praefect of the city,
atoned for his attachment to the party of Maxentius, by the
readiness with which he accepted the religion of Constantine. ^19
Their ample patrimony was increased by the industry of Probus,
the chief of the Anician family; who shared with Gratian the
honors of the consulship, and exercised, four times, the high
office of Praetorian praefect. ^20 His immense estates were
scattered over the wide extent of the Roman world; and though the
public might suspect or disapprove the methods by which they had
been acquired, the generosity and magnificence of that fortunate
statesman deserved the gratitude of his clients, and the
admiration of strangers. ^21 Such was the respect entertained for
his memory, that the two sons of Probus, in their earliest youth,
and at the request of the senate, were associated in the consular
dignity; a memorable distinction, without example, in the annals
of Rome. ^22

[Footnote 13: Nec quisquam Procerum tentet (licet aere vetusto

Floreat, et claro cingatur Roma senatu)
Se jactare parem; sed prima sede relicta
Aucheniis, de jure licet certare secundo.

Claud. in Prob. et Olybrii Coss. 18.

Such a compliment paid to the obscure name of the Auchenii has
amazed the critics; but they all agree, that whatever may be the
true reading, the sense of Claudian can be applied only to the
Anician family.]

[Footnote 14: The earliest date in the annals of Pighius, is that
of M. Anicius Gallus. Trib. Pl. A. U. C. 506. Another tribune,
Q. Anicius, A. U. C. 508, is distinguished by the epithet of
Praenestinus. Livy (xlv. 43) places the Anicii below the great
families of Rome.]

[Footnote 15: Livy, xliv. 30, 31, xlv. 3, 26, 43. He fairly
appreciates the merit of Anicius, and justly observes, that his
fame was clouded by the superior lustre of the Macedonian, which
preceded the Illyrian triumph.]
[Footnote 16: The dates of the three consulships are, A. U. C.
593, 818, 967 the two last under the reigns of Nero and
Caracalla. The second of these consuls distinguished himself
only by his infamous flattery, (Tacit. Annal. xv. 74;) but even
the evidence of crimes, if they bear the stamp of greatness and
antiquity, is admitted, without reluctance, to prove the
genealogy of a noble house.]

[Footnote 17: In the sixth century, the nobility of the Anician
name is mentioned (Cassiodor. Variar. l. x. Ep. 10, 12) with
singular respect by the minister of a Gothic king of Italy.]
[Footnote 18: - Fixus in omnes
Cognatos procedit honos; quemcumque requiras

Hac de stirpe virum, certum est de Consule
nasci. Per fasces numerantur Avi, semperque
renata Nobilitate virent, et prolem fata
(Claudian in Prob. et Olyb. Consulat. 12, &c.) The Annii, whose
name seems to have merged in the Anician, mark the Fasti with
many consulships, from the time of Vespasian to the fourth

[Footnote 19: The title of first Christian senator may be
justified by the authority of Prudentius (in Symmach. i. 553) and
the dislike of the Pagans to the Anician family. See Tillemont,
Hist. des Empereurs, tom. iv. p. 183, v. p. 44. Baron. Annal.
A.D. 312, No. 78, A.D. 322, No. 2.]

[Footnote 20: Probus ... claritudine generis et potentia et opum
magnitudine, cognitus Orbi Romano, per quem universum poene
patrimonia sparsa possedit, juste an secus non judicioli est
nostri. Ammian Marcellin. xxvii. 11. His children and widow
erected for him a magnificent tomb in the Vatican, which was
demolished in the time of Pope Nicholas V. to make room for the
new church of St.Peter Baronius, who laments the ruin of this
Christian monument, has diligently preserved the inscriptions and
basso-relievos. See Annal. Eccles. A.D. 395, No. 5 - 17.]
[Footnote 21: Two Persian satraps travelled to Milan and Rome, to
hear St. Ambrose, and to see Probus, (Paulin. in Vit. Ambros.)
Claudian (in Cons. Probin. et Olybr. 30 - 60) seems at a loss how
to express the glory of Probus.]

[Footnote 22: See the poem which Claudian addressed to the two
noble youths.]

Chapter XXXI: Invasion Of Italy, Occupation Of Territories By

Part II.

"The marbles of the Anician palace," were used as a
proverbial expression of opulence and splendor; ^23 but the
nobles and senators of Rome aspired, in due gradation, to imitate
that illustrious family. The accurate description of the city,
which was composed in the Theodosian age, enumerates one thousand
seven hundred and eighty houses, the residence of wealthy and
honorable citizens. ^24 Many of these stately mansions might
almost excuse the exaggeration of the poet; that Rome contained a
multitude of palaces, and that each palace was equal to a city:
since it included within its own precincts every thing which
could be subservient either to use or luxury; markets,
hippodromes, temples, fountains, baths, porticos, shady groves,
and artificial aviaries. ^25 The historian Olympiodorus, who
represents the state of Rome when it was besieged by the Goths,
^26 continues to observe, that several of the richest senators
received from their estates an annual income of four thousand
pounds of gold, above one hundred and sixty thousand pounds
sterling; without computing the stated provision of corn and
wine, which, had they been sold, might have equalled in value one
third of the money. Compared to this immoderate wealth, an
ordinary revenue of a thousand or fifteen hundred pounds of gold
might be considered as no more than adequate to the dignity of
the senatorian rank, which required many expenses of a public and
ostentatious kind. Several examples are recorded, in the age of
Honorius, of vain and popular nobles, who celebrated the year of
their praetorship by a festival, which lasted seven days, and
cost above one hundred thousand pounds sterling. ^27 The estates
of the Roman senators, which so far exceeded the proportion of
modern wealth, were not confined to the limits of Italy. Their
possessions extended far beyond the Ionian and Aegean Seas, to
the most distant provinces: the city of Nicopolis, which Augustus
had founded as an eternal monument of the Actian victory, was the
property of the devout Paula; ^28 and it is observed by Seneca,
that the rivers, which had divided hostile nations, now flowed
through the lands of private citizens. ^29 According to their
temper and circumstances, the estates of the Romans were either
cultivated by the labor of their slaves, or granted, for a
certain and stipulated rent, to the industrious farmer. The
economical writers of antiquity strenuously recommend the former
method, wherever it may be practicable; but if the object should
be removed, by its distance or magnitude, from the immediate eye
of the master, they prefer the active care of an old hereditary
tenant, attached to the soil, and interested in the produce, to
the mercenary administration of a negligent, perhaps an
unfaithful, steward. ^30

[Footnote 23: Secundinus, the Manichaean, ap. Baron. Annal.
Eccles. A.D. 390, No. 34.]

[Footnote 24: See Nardini, Roma Antica, p. 89, 498, 500.]

[Footnote 25: Quid loquar inclusas inter laquearia sylvas;

Vernula queis vario carmine ludit avis.

Claud. Rutil. Numatian. Itinerar. ver. 111. The
poet lived at the time of the Gothic invasion. A moderate palace
would have covered Cincinnatus's farm of four acres (Val. Max.
iv. 4.) In laxitatem ruris excurrunt, says Seneca, Epist. 114.
See a judicious note of Mr. Hume, Essays, vol. i. p. 562, last
8vo edition.]

[Footnote 26: This curious account of Rome, in the reign of
Honorius, is found in a fragment of the historian Olympiodorus,
ap. Photium, p. 197.]
[Footnote 27: The sons of Alypius, of Symmachus, and of Maximus,
spent, during their respective praetorships, twelve, or twenty,
or forty, centenaries, (or hundred weight of gold.) See
Olympiodor. ap. Phot. p. 197. This popular estimation allows some
latitude; but it is difficult to explain a law in the Theodosian
Code, (l. vi. leg. 5,) which fixes the expense of the first
praetor at 25,000, of the second at 20,000, and of the third at
15,000 folles. The name of follis (see Mem. de l'Academie des
Inscriptions, tom. xxviii. p. 727) was equally applied to a purse
of 125 pieces of silver, and to a small copper coin of the value
of 1/2625 part of that purse. In the former sense, the 25,000
folles would be equal to 150,000l.; in the latter, to five or six
ponuds sterling The one appears extravagant, the other is
ridiculous. There must have existed some third and middle value,
which is here understood; but ambiguity is an excusable fault in
the language of laws.]

[Footnote 28: Nicopolis ...... in Actiaco littore sita
possessioris vestra nunc pars vel maxima est. Jerom. in Praefat.

Comment. ad Epistol. ad Titum, tom. ix. p. 243. M. D. Tillemont
supposes, strangely enough, that it was part of Agamemnon's
inheritance. Mem. Eccles. tom. xii. p. 85.]
[Footnote 29: Seneca, Epist. lxxxix. His language is of the
declamatory kind: but declamation could scarcely exaggerate the
avarice and luxury of the Romans. The philosopher himself
deserved some share of the reproach, if it be true that his
rigorous exaction of Quadringenties, above three hundred thousand
pounds which he had lent at high interest, provoked a rebellion
in Britain, (Dion Cassius, l. lxii. p. 1003.) According to the
conjecture of Gale (Antoninus's Itinerary in Britain, p. 92,) the
same Faustinus possessed an estate near Bury, in Suffolk and
another in the kingdom of Naples.]
[Footnote 30: Volusius, a wealthy senator, (Tacit. Annal. iii.
30,) always preferred tenants born on the estate. Columella, who
received this maxim from him, argues very judiciously on the
subject. De Re Rustica, l. i. c. 7, p. 408, edit. Gesner.
Leipsig, 1735.]

The opulent nobles of an immense capital, who were never
excited by the pursuit of military glory, and seldom engaged in
the occupations of civil government, naturally resigned their
leisure to the business and amusements of private life. At Rome,
commerce was always held in contempt: but the senators, from the
first age of the republic, increased their patrimony, and
multiplied their clients, by the lucrative practice of usury; and
the obselete laws were eluded, or violated, by the mutual
inclinations and interest of both parties. ^31 A considerable
mass of treasure must always have existed at Rome, either in the
current coin of the empire, or in the form of gold and silver
plate; and there were many sideboards in the time of Pliny which
contained more solid silver, than had been transported by Scipio
from vanquished Carthage. ^32 The greater part of the nobles, who
dissipated their fortunes in profuse luxury, found themselves
poor in the midst of wealth, and idle in a constant round of
dissipation. Their desires were continually gratified by the
labor of a thousand hands; of the numerous train of their
domestic slaves, who were actuated by the fear of punishment; and
of the various professions of artificers and merchants, who were
more powerfully impelled by the hopes of gain. The ancients were
destitute of many of the conveniences of life, which have been
invented or improved by the progress of industry; and the plenty
of glass and linen has diffused more real comforts among the
modern nations of Europe, than the senators of Rome could derive
from all the refinements of pompous or sensual luxury. ^33 Their
luxury, and their manners, have been the subject of minute and
laborious disposition: but as such inquiries would divert me too
long from the design of the present work, I shall produce an
authentic state of Rome and its inhabitants, which is more
peculiarly applicable to the period of the Gothic invasion.
Ammianus Marcellinus, who prudently chose the capital of the
empire as the residence the best adapted to the historian of his
own times, has mixed with the narrative of public events a lively
representation of the scenes with which he was familiarly
conversant. The judicious reader will not always approve of the
asperity of censure, the choice of circumstances, or the style of
expression; he will perhaps detect the latent prejudices, and
personal resentments, which soured the temper of Ammianus
himself; but he will surely observe, with philosophic curiosity,
the interesting and original picture of the manners of Rome. ^34
[Footnote 31: Valesius (ad Ammian. xiv. 6) has proved, from
Chrysostom and Augustin, that the senators were not allowed to
lend money at usury. Yet it appears from the Theodosian Code,
(see Godefroy ad l. ii. tit. xxxiii. tom. i. p. 230 - 289,) that
they were permitted to take six percent., or one half of the
legal interest; and, what is more singular, this permission was
granted to the young senators.]

[Footnote 32: Plin. Hist. Natur. xxxiii. 50. He states the
silver at only 4380 pounds, which is increased by Livy (xxx. 45)
to 100,023: the former seems too little for an opulent city, the
latter too much for any private sideboard.]

[Footnote 33: The learned Arbuthnot (Tables of Ancient Coins, &c.
p. 153) has observed with humor, and I believe with truth, that
Augustus had neither glass to his windows, nor a shirt to his
back. Under the lower empire, the use of linen and glass became
somewhat more common.

Note: The discovery of glass in such common use at Pompeii,
spoils the argument of Arbuthnot. See Sir W. Gell. Pompeiana, 2d
ser. p. 98. - M.]
[Footnote 34: It is incumbent on me to explain the liberties
which I have taken with the text of Ammianus. 1. I have melted
down into one piece the sixth chapter of the fourteenth and the
fourth of the twenty-eighth book. 2. I have given order and
connection to the confused mass of materials. 3. I have softened
some extravagant hyperbeles, and pared away some superfluities of
the original. 4. I have developed some observations which were
insinuated rather than expressed. With these allowances, my
version will be found, not literal indeed, but faithful and

"The greatness of Rome" - such is the language of the
historian - "was founded on the rare, and almost incredible,
alliance of virtue and of fortune. The long period of her infancy
was employed in a laborious struggle against the tribes of Italy,
the neighbors and enemies of the rising city. In the strength
and ardor of youth, she sustained the storms of war; carried her
victorious arms beyond the seas and the mountains; and brought
home triumphal laurels from every country of the globe. At
length, verging towards old age, and sometimes conquering by the
terror only of her name, she sought the blessings of ease and
tranquillity. The venerable city, which had trampled on the
necks of the fiercest nations, and established a system of laws,
the perpetual guardians of justice and freedom, was content, like
a wise and wealthy parent, to devolve on the Caesars, her
favorite sons, the care of governing her ample patrimony. ^35 A
secure and profound peace, such as had been once enjoyed in the
reign of Numa, succeeded to the tumults of a republic; while Rome
was still adored as the queen of the earth; and the subject
nations still reverenced the name of the people, and the majesty
of the senate. But this native splendor," continues Ammianus,
"is degraded, and sullied, by the conduct of some nobles, who,
unmindful of their own dignity, and of that of their country,
assume an unbounded license of vice and folly. They contend with
each other in the empty vanity of titles and surnames; and
curiously select, or invent, the most lofty and sonorous
appellations, Reburrus, or Fabunius, Pagonius, or Tarasius, ^36
which may impress the ears of the vulgar with astonishment and
respect. From a vain ambition of perpetuating their memory, they
affect to multiply their likeness, in statues of bronze and
marble; nor are they satisfied, unless those statues are covered
with plates of gold; an honorable distinction, first granted to
Acilius the consul, after he had subdued, by his arms and
counsels, the power of King Antiochus. The ostentation of
displaying, of magnifying, perhaps, the rent-roll of the estates
which they possess in all the provinces, from the rising to the
setting sun, provokes the just resentment of every man, who
recollects, that their poor and invincible ancestors were not
distinguished from the meanest of the soldiers, by the delicacy
of their food, or the splendor of their apparel. But the modern
nobles measure their rank and consequence according to the
loftiness of their chariots, ^37 and the weighty magnificence of
their dress. Their long robes of silk and purple float in the
wind; and as they are agitated, by art or accident, they
occasionally discover the under garments, the rich tunics,
embroidered with the figures of various animals. ^38 Followed by
a train of fifty servants, and tearing up the pavement, they move
along the streets with the same impetuous speed as if they
travelled with post-horses; and the example of the senators is
boldly imitated by the matrons and ladies, whose covered
carriages are continually driving round the immense space of the
city and suburbs. Whenever these persons of high distinction
condescend to visit the public baths, they assume, on their
entrance, a tone of loud and insolent command, and appropriate to
their own use the conveniences which were designed for the Roman
people. If, in these places of mixed and general resort, they
meet any of the infamous ministers of their pleasures, they
express their affection by a tender embrace; while they proudly
decline the salutations of their fellow-citizens, who are not
permitted to aspire above the honor of kissing their hands, or
their knees. As soon as they have indulged themselves in the
refreshment of the bath, they resume their rings, and the other
ensigns of their dignity, select from their private wardrobe of
the finest linen, such as might suffice for a dozen persons, the
garments the most agreeable to their fancy, and maintain till
their departure the same haughty demeanor; which perhaps might
have been excused in the great Marcellus, after the conquest of
Syracuse. Sometimes, indeed, these heroes undertake more arduous
achievements; they visit their estates in Italy, and procure
themselves, by the toil of servile hands, the amusements of the
chase. ^39 If at any time, but more especially on a hot day, they
have courage to sail, in their painted galleys, from the Lucrine
Lake ^40 to their elegant villas on the seacoast of Puteoli and
Cayeta, ^41 they compare their own expeditions to the marches of
Caesar and Alexander. Yet should a fly presume to settle on the
silken folds of their gilded umbrellas; should a sunbeam
penetrate through some unguarded and imperceptible chink, they
deplore their intolerable hardships, and lament, in affected
language, that they were not born in the land of the Cimmerians,
^42 the regions of eternal darkness. In these journeys into the
country, ^43 the whole body of the household marches with their
master. In the same manner as the cavalry and infantry, the heavy
and the light armed troops, the advanced guard and the rear, are
marshalled by the skill of their military leaders; so the
domestic officers, who bear a rod, as an ensign of authority,
distribute and arrange the numerous train of slaves and
attendants. The baggage and wardrobe move in the front; and are
immediately followed by a multitude of cooks, and inferior
ministers, employed in the service of the kitchens, and of the
table. The main body is composed of a promiscuous crowd of
slaves, increased by the accidental concourse of idle or
dependent plebeians. The rear is closed by the favorite band of
eunuchs, distributed from age to youth, according to the order of
seniority. Their numbers and their deformity excite the horror
of the indignant spectators, who are ready to execrate the memory
of Semiramis, for the cruel art which she invented, of
frustrating the purposes of nature, and of blasting in the bud
the hopes of future generations. In the exercise of domestic
jurisdiction, the nobles of Rome express an exquisite sensibility
for any personal injury, and a contemptuous indifference for the
rest of the human species. When they have called for warm water,
if a slave has been tardy in his obedience, he is instantly
chastised with three hundred lashes: but should the same slave
commit a wilful murder, the master will mildly observe, that he
is a worthless fellow; but that, if he repeats the offence, he
shall not escape punishment. Hospitality was formerly the virtue
of the Romans; and every stranger, who could plead either merit
or misfortune, was relieved, or rewarded by their generosity. At
present, if a foreigner, perhaps of no contemptible rank, is
introduced to one of the proud and wealthy senators, he is
welcomed indeed in the first audience, with such warm
professions, and such kind inquiries, that he retires, enchanted
with the affability of his illustrious friend, and full of regret
that he had so long delayed his journey to Rome, the active seat
of manners, as well as of empire. Secure of a favorable
reception, he repeats his visit the ensuing day, and is mortified
by the discovery, that his person, his name, and his country, are
already forgotten. If he still has resolution to persevere, he
is gradually numbered in the train of dependants, and obtains the
permission to pay his assiduous and unprofitable court to a
haughty patron, incapable of gratitude or friendship; who
scarcely deigns to remark his presence, his departure, or his
return. Whenever the rich prepare a solemn and popular
entertainment; ^44 whenever they celebrate, with profuse and
pernicious luxury, their private banquets; the choice of the
guests is the subject of anxious deliberation. The modest, the
sober, and the learned, are seldom preferred; and the
nomenclators, who are commonly swayed by interested motives, have
the address to insert, in the list of invitations, the obscure
names of the most worthless of mankind. But the frequent and
familiar companions of the great, are those parasites, who
practise the most useful of all arts, the art of flattery; who
eagerly applaud each word, and every action, of their immortal
patron; gaze with rapture on his marble columns and variegated
pavements; and strenuously praise the pomp and elegance which he
is taught to consider as a part of his personal merit. At the
Roman tables, the birds, the squirrels, ^45 or the fish, which
appear of an uncommon size, are contemplated with curious
attention; a pair of scales is accurately applied, to ascertain
their real weight; and, while the more rational guests are
disgusted by the vain and tedious repetition, notaries are
summoned to attest, by an authentic record, the truth of such a
marvelous event. Another method of introduction into the houses
and society of the great, is derived from the profession of
gaming, or, as it is more politely styled, of play. The
confederates are united by a strict and indissoluble bond of
friendship, or rather of conspiracy; a superior degree of skill
in the Tesserarian art (which may be interpreted the game of dice
and tables) ^46 is a sure road to wealth and reputation. A master
of that sublime science, who in a supper, or assembly, is placed
below a magistrate, displays in his countenance the surprise and
indignation which Cato might be supposed to feel, when he was
refused the praetorship by the votes of a capricious people. The
acquisition of knowledge seldom engages the curiosity of nobles,
who abhor the fatigue, and disdain the advantages, of study; and
the only books which they peruse are the Satires of Juvenal, and
the verbose and fabulous histories of Marius Maximus. ^47 The
libraries, which they have inherited from their fathers, are
secluded, like dreary sepulchres, from the light of day. ^48 But
the costly instruments of the theatre, flutes, and enormous
lyres, and hydraulic organs, are constructed for their use; and
the harmony of vocal and instrumental music is incessantly
repeated in the palaces of Rome. In those palaces, sound is
preferred to sense, and the care of the body to that of the mind.

It is allowed as a salutary maxim, that the light and frivolous
suspicion of a contagious malady, is of sufficient weight to
excuse the visits of the most intimate friends; and even the
servants, who are despatched to make the decent inquiries, are
not suffered to return home, till they have undergone the
ceremony of a previous ablution. Yet this selfish and unmanly
delicacy occasionally yields to the more imperious passion of
avarice. The prospect of gain will urge a rich and gouty senator
as far as Spoleto; every sentiment of arrogance and dignity is
subdued by the hopes of an inheritance, or even of a legacy; and
a wealthy childless citizen is the most powerful of the Romans.
The art of obtaining the signature of a favorable testament, and
sometimes of hastening the moment of its execution, is perfectly
understood; and it has happened, that in the same house, though
in different apartments, a husband and a wife, with the laudable
design of overreaching each other, have summoned their respective
lawyers, to declare, at the same time, their mutual, but
contradictory, intentions. The distress which follows and
chastises extravagant luxury, often reduces the great to the use
of the most humiliating expedients. When they desire to borrow,
they employ the base and supplicating style of the slave in the
comedy; but when they are called upon to pay, they assume the
royal and tragic declamation of the grandsons of Hercules. If
the demand is repeated, they readily procure some trusty
sycophant, instructed to maintain a charge of poison, or magic,
against the insolent creditor; who is seldom released from
prison, till he has signed a discharge of the whole debt. These
vices, which degrade the moral character of the Romans, are mixed
with a puerile superstition, that disgraces their understanding.
They listen with confidence to the predictions of haruspices, who
pretend to read, in the entrails of victims, the signs of future
greatness and prosperity; and there are many who do not presume
either to bathe, or to dine, or to appear in public, till they
have diligently consulted, according to the rules of astrology,
the situation of Mercury, and the aspect of the moon. ^49 It is
singular enough, that this vain credulity may often be discovered
among the profane sceptics, who impiously doubt, or deny, the
existence of a celestial power."

[Footnote 35: Claudian, who seems to have read the history of
Ammianus, speaks of this great revolution in a much less courtly
style: -

Postquam jura ferox in se communia Caesar
Transtulit; et lapsi mores; desuetaque priscis
Artibus, in gremium pacis servile recessi.

De Be. Gildonico, p. 49.]

[Footnote 36: The minute diligence of antiquarians has not been
able to verify these extraordinary names. I am of opinion that
they were invented by the historian himself, who was afraid of
any personal satire or application. It is certain, however, that
the simple denominations of the Romans were gradually lengthened
to the number of four, five, or even seven, pompous surnames; as,
for instance, Marcus Maecius Maemmius Furius Balburius
Caecilianus Placidus. See Noris Cenotaph Piran Dissert. iv. p.
[Footnote 37: The or coaches of the romans, were often of solid
silver, curiously carved and engraved; and the trappings of the
mules, or horses, were embossed with gold. This magnificence
continued from the reign of Nero to that of Honorius; and the
Appian way was covered with the splendid equipages of the nobles,
who came out to meet St. Melania, when she returned to Rome, six
years before the Gothic siege, (Seneca, epist. lxxxvii. Plin.
Hist. Natur. xxxiii. 49. Paulin. Nolan. apud Baron. Annal.
Eccles. A.D. 397, No. 5.) Yet pomp is well exchange for
convenience; and a plain modern coach, that is hung upon springs,
is much preferable to the silver or gold carts of antiquity,
which rolled on the axle-tree, and were exposed, for the most
part, to the inclemency of the weather.]

[Footnote 38: In a homily of Asterius, bishop of Amasia, M. de
Valois has discovered (ad Ammian. xiv. 6) that this was a new
fashion; that bears, wolves lions, and tigers, woods,
hunting-matches, &c., were represented in embroidery: and that
the more pious coxcombs substituted the figure or legend of some
favorite saint.]

[Footnote 39: See Pliny's Epistles, i. 6. Three large wild boars
were allured and taken in the toils without interrupting the
studies of the philosophic sportsman.]

[Footnote 40: The change from the inauspicious word Avernus,
which stands in the text, is immaterial. The two lakes, Avernus
and Lucrinus, communicated with each other, and were fashioned by
the stupendous moles of Agrippa into the Julian port, which
opened, through a narrow entrance, into the Gulf of Puteoli.
Virgil, who resided on the spot, has described (Georgic ii. 161)
this work at the moment of its execution: and his commentators,
especially Catrou, have derived much light from Strabo,
Suetonius, and Dion. Earthquakes and volcanoes have changed the
face of the country, and turned the Lucrine Lake, since the year
1538, into the Monte Nuovo. See Camillo Pellegrino Discorsi
della Campania Felice, p. 239, 244, &c. Antonii Sanfelicii
Campania, p. 13, 88

Note: Compare Lyell's Geology, ii. 72. - M.]

[Footnote 41: The regna Cumana et Puteolana; loca caetiroqui
valde expe tenda, interpellantium autem multitudine paene
fugienda. Cicero ad Attic. xvi. 17.]
[Footnote 42: The proverbial expression of Cimmerian darkness was
originally borrowed from the description of Homer, (in the
eleventh book of the Odyssey,) which he applies to a remote and
fabulous country on the shores of the ocean. See Erasmi Adagia,
in his works, tom. ii. p. 593, the Leyden edition.]
[Footnote 43: We may learn from Seneca (epist. cxxiii.) three
curious circumstances relative to the journeys of the Romans. 1.
They were preceded by a troop of Numidian light horse, who
announced, by a cloud of dust, the approach of a great man. 2.
Their baggage mules transported not only the precious vases, but
even the fragile vessels of crystal and murra, which last is
almost proved, by the learned French translator of Seneca, (tom.
iii. p. 402 - 422,) to mean the porcelain of China and Japan. 3.
The beautiful faces of the young slaves were covered with a
medicated crust, or ointment, which secured them against the
effects of the sun and frost.]

[Footnote 44: Distributio solemnium sportularum. The sportuloe,
or sportelloe, were small baskets, supposed to contain a quantity
of hot provisions of the value of 100 quadrantes, or twelvepence
halfpenny, which were ranged in order in the hall, and
ostentatiously distributed to the hungry or servile crowd who
waited at the door. This indelicate custom is very frequently
mentioned in the epigrams of Martial, and the satires of Juvenal.
See likewise Suetonius, in Claud. c. 21, in Neron. c. 16, in
Domitian, c. 4, 7. These baskets of provisions were afterwards
converted into large pieces of gold and silver coin, or plate,
which were mutually given and accepted even by persons of the
highest rank, (see Symmach. epist. iv. 55, ix. 124, and Miscell.
p. 256,) on solemn occasions, of consulships, marriages, &c.]
[Footnote 45: The want of an English name obliges me to refer to
the common genus of squirrels, the Latin glis, the French loir; a
little animal, who inhabits the woods, and remains torpid in cold
weather, (see Plin. Hist. Natur. viii. 82. Buffon, Hist.
Naturelle, tom. viii. 153. Pennant's Synopsis of Quadrupeds, p.
289.) The art of rearing and fattening great numbers of glires
was practised in Roman villas as a profitable article of rural
economy, (Varro, de Re Rustica, iii. 15.) The excessive demand of
them for luxurious tables was increased by the foolish
prohibitions of the censors; and it is reported that they are
still esteemed in modern Rome, and are frequently sent as
presents by the Colonna princes, (see Brotier, the last editor of
Pliny tom. ii. p. 453. epud Barbou, 1779.)

Note: Is it not the dormouse? - M.]

[Footnote 46: This game, which might be translated by the more
familiar names of trictrac, or backgammon, was a favorite
amusement of the gravest Romans; and old Mucius Scaevola, the
lawyer, had the reputation of a very skilful player. It was
called ludus duodecim scriptorum, from the twelve scripta, or
lines, which equally divided the alvevolus or table. On these,
the two armies, the white and the black, each consisting of
fifteen men, or catculi, were regularly placed, and alternately
moved according to the laws of the game, and the chances of the
tesseroe, or dice. Dr. Hyde, who diligently traces the history
and varieties of the nerdiludium (a name of Persic etymology)
from Ireland to Japan, pours forth, on this trifling subject, a
copious torrent of classic and Oriental learning. See Syntagma
Dissertat. tom. ii. p. 217 - 405.]

[Footnote 47: Marius Maximus, homo omnium verbosissimus, qui, et
mythistoricis se voluminibus implicavit. Vopiscus in Hist.
August. p. 242. He wrote the lives of the emperors, from Trajan
to Alexander Severus. See Gerard Vossius de Historicis Latin. l.
ii. c. 3, in his works, vol. iv. p. 47.]
[Footnote 48: This satire is probably exaggerated. The
Saturnalia of Macrobius, and the epistles of Jerom, afford
satisfactory proofs, that Christian theology and classic
literature were studiously cultivated by several Romans, of both
sexes, and of the highest rank.]

[Footnote 49: Macrobius, the friend of these Roman nobles,
considered the siara as the cause, or at least the signs, of
future events, (de Somn. Scipion l. i. c 19. p. 68.)]

Chapter XXXI: Invasion Of Italy, Occupation Of Territories By

Part II.

In populous cities, which are the seat of commerce and
manufactures, the middle ranks of inhabitants, who derive their
subsistence from the dexterity or labor of their hands, are
commonly the most prolific, the most useful, and, in that sense,
the most respectable part of the community. But the plebeians of
Rome, who disdained such sedentary and servile arts, had been
oppressed from the earliest times by the weight of debt and
usury; and the husbandman, during the term of his military
service, was obliged to abandon the cultivation of his farm. ^50
The lands of Italy which had been originally divided among the
families of free and indigent proprietors, were insensibly
purchased or usurped by the avarice of the nobles; and in the age
which preceded the fall of the republic, it was computed that
only two thousand citizens were possessed of an independent
substance. ^51 Yet as long as the people bestowed, by their
suffrages, the honors of the state, the command of the legions,
and the administration of wealthy provinces, their conscious
pride alleviated in some measure, the hardships of poverty; and
their wants were seasonably supplied by the ambitious liberality
of the candidates, who aspired to secure a venal majority in the
thirty-five tribes, or the hundred and ninety-three centuries, of
Rome. But when the prodigal commons had not only imprudently
alienated the use, but the inheritance of power, they sunk, under
the reign of the Caesars, into a vile and wretched populace,
which must, in a few generations, have been totally extinguished,
if it had not been continually recruited by the manumission of
slaves, and the influx of strangers. As early as the time of
Hadrian, it was the just complaint of the ingenuous natives, that
the capital had attracted the vices of the universe, and the
manners of the most opposite nations. The intemperance of the
Gauls, the cunning and levity of the Greeks, the savage obstinacy
of the Egyptians and Jews, the servile temper of the Asiatics,
and the dissolute, effeminate prostitution of the Syrians, were
mingled in the various multitude, which, under the proud and
false denomination of Romans, presumed to despise their fellow-
subjects, and even their sovereigns, who dwelt beyond the
precincts of the Eternal City. ^52

[Footnote 50: The histories of Livy (see particularly vi. 36) are
full of the extortions of the rich, and the sufferings of the
poor debtors. The melancholy story of a brave old soldier
(Dionys. Hal. l. vi. c. 26, p. 347, edit. Hudson, and Livy, ii.
23) must have been frequently repeated in those primitive times,
which have been so undeservedly praised.]
[Footnote 51: Non esse in civitate duo millia hominum qui rem
habereni. Cicero. Offic. ii. 21, and Comment. Paul. Manut. in
edit. Graev. This vague computation was made A. U. C. 649, in a
speech of the tribune Philippus, and it was his object, as well
as that of the Gracchi, (see Plutarch,) to deplore, and perhaps
to exaggerate, the misery of the common people.]
[Footnote 52: See the third Satire (60 - 125) of Juvenal, who
indignantly complains,

Quamvis quota portio faecis Achaei!
Jampridem Syrus in Tiberem defluxit Orontes;
Et linguam et mores, &c.

Seneca, when he proposes to comfort his mother (Consolat. ad
Helv. c. 6) by the reflection, that a great part of mankind were
in a state of exile, reminds her how few of the inhabitants of
Rome were born in the city.]
Yet the name of that city was still pronounced with respect:
the frequent and capricious tumults of its inhabitants were
indulged with impunity; and the successors of Constantine,
instead of crushing the last remains of the democracy by the
strong arm of military power, embraced the mild policy of
Augustus, and studied to relieve the poverty, and to amuse the
idleness, of an innumerable people. ^53 I. For the convenience
of the lazy plebeians, the monthly distributions of corn were
converted into a daily allowance of bread; a great number of
ovens were constructed and maintained at the public expense; and
at the appointed hour, each citizen, who was furnished with a
ticket, ascended the flight of steps, which had been assigned to
his peculiar quarter or division, and received, either as a gift,
or at a very low price, a loaf of bread of the weight of three
pounds, for the use of his family. II. The forest of Lucania,
whose acorns fattened large droves of wild hogs, ^54 afforded, as
a species of tribute, a plentiful supply of cheap and wholesome
meat. During five months of the year, a regular allowance of
bacon was distributed to the poorer citizens; and the annual
consumption of the capital, at a time when it was much declined
from its former lustre, was ascertained, by an edict from
Valentinian the Third, at three millions six hundred and
twenty-eight thousand pounds. ^55 III. In the manners of
antiquity, the use of oil was indispensable for the lamp, as well
as for the bath; and the annual tax, which was imposed on Africa
for the benefit of Rome, amounted to the weight of three millions
of pounds, to the measure, perhaps, of three hundred thousand
English gallons. IV. The anxiety of Augustus to provide the
metropolis with sufficient plenty of corn, was not extended
beyond that necessary article of human subsistence; and when the
popular clamor accused the dearness and scarcity of wine, a
proclamation was issued, by the grave reformer, to remind his
subjects that no man could reasonably complain of thirst, since
the aqueducts of Agrippa had introduced into the city so many
copious streams of pure and salubrious water. ^56 This rigid
sobriety was insensibly relaxed; and, although the generous
design of Aurelian ^57 does not appear to have been executed in
its full extent, the use of wine was allowed on very easy and
liberal terms. The administration of the public cellars was
delegated to a magistrate of honorable rank; and a considerable
part of the vintage of Campania was reserved for the fortunate
inhabitants of Rome.
[Footnote 53: Almost all that is said of the bread, bacon, oil,
wine, &c., may be found in the fourteenth book of the Theodosian
Code; which expressly treats of the police of the great cities.
See particularly the titles iii. iv. xv. xvi. xvii. xxiv. The
collateral testimonies are produced in Godefroy's Commentary, and
it is needless to transcribe them. According to a law of
Theodosius, which appreciates in money the military allowance, a
piece of gold (eleven shillings) was equivalent to eighty pounds
of bacon, or to eighty pounds of oil, or to twelve modii (or
pecks) of salt, (Cod. Theod. l. viii. tit. iv. leg. 17.) This
equation, compared with another of seventy pounds of bacon for an
amphora, (Cod. Theod. l. xiv. tit. iv. leg. 4,) fixes the price
of wine at about sixteenpence the gallon.]

[Footnote 54: The anonymous author of the Description of the
World (p. 14. in tom. iii. Geograph. Minor. Hudson) observes of
Lucania, in his barbarous Latin, Regio optima, et ipsa omnibus
habundans, et lardum multum foras. Proptor quod est in montibus,
cujus aescam animalium rariam, &c.]
[Footnote 55: See Novell. ad calcem Cod. Theod. D. Valent. l. i.
tit. xv. This law was published at Rome, June 29th, A.D. 452.]
[Footnote 56: Sueton. in August. c. 42. The utmost debauch of
the emperor himself, in his favorite wine of Rhaetia, never
exceeded a sextarius, (an English pint.) Id. c. 77. Torrentius
ad loc. and Arbuthnot's Tables, p. 86.]
[Footnote 57: His design was to plant vineyards along the
sea-coast of Hetruria, (Vopiscus, in Hist. August. p. 225;) the
dreary, unwholesome, uncultivated Maremme of modern Tuscany]
The stupendous aqueducts, so justly celebrated by the
praises of Augustus himself, replenished the Thermoe, or baths,
which had been constructed in every part of the city, with
Imperial magnificence. The baths of Antoninus Caracalla, which
were open, at stated hours, for the indiscriminate service of the
senators and the people, contained above sixteen hundred seats of
marble; and more than three thousand were reckoned in the baths
of Diocletian. ^58 The walls of the lofty apartments were covered
with curious mosaics, that imitated the art of the pencil in the
elegance of design, and the variety of colors. The Egyptian
granite was beautifully encrusted with the precious green marble
of Numidia; the perpetual stream of hot water was poured into the
capacious basins, through so many wide mouths of bright and massy
silver; and the meanest Roman could purchase, with a small copper
coin, the daily enjoyment of a scene of pomp and luxury, which
might excite the envy of the kings of Asia. ^59 From these
stately palaces issued a swarm of dirty and ragged plebeians,
without shoes and without a mantle; who loitered away whole days
in the street of Forum, to hear news and to hold disputes; who
dissipated in extravagant gaming, the miserable pittance of their
wives and children; and spent the hours of the night in the
obscure taverns, and brothels, in the indulgence of gross and
vulgar sensuality. ^60

[Footnote 58: Olympiodor. apud Phot. p. 197.]

[Footnote 59: Seneca (epistol. lxxxvi.) compares the baths of
Scipio Africanus, at his villa of Liternum, with the magnificence
(which was continually increasing) of the public baths of Rome,
long before the stately Thermae of Antoninus and Diocletian were
erected. The quadrans paid for admission was the quarter of the
as, about one eighth of an English penny.]
[Footnote 60: Ammianus, (l. xiv. c. 6, and l. xxviii. c. 4,)
after describing the luxury and pride of the nobles of Rome,
exposes, with equal indignation, the vices and follies of the
common people.]

But the most lively and splendid amusement of the idle
multitude, depended on the frequent exhibition of public games
and spectacles. The piety of Christian princes had suppressed
the inhuman combats of gladiators; but the Roman people still
considered the Circus as their home, their temple, and the seat
of the republic. The impatient crowd rushed at the dawn of day
to secure their places, and there were many who passed a
sleepless and anxious night in the adjacent porticos. From the
morning to the evening, careless of the sun, or of the rain, the
spectators, who sometimes amounted to the number of four hundred
thousand, remained in eager attention; their eyes fixed on the
horses and charioteers, their minds agitated with hope and fear,
for the success of the colors which they espoused: and the
happiness of Rome appeared to hang on the event of a race. ^61
The same immoderate ardor inspired their clamors and their
applause, as often as they were entertained with the hunting of
wild beasts, and the various modes of theatrical representation.
These representations in modern capitals may deserve to be
considered as a pure and elegant school of taste, and perhaps of
virtue. But the Tragic and Comic Muse of the Romans, who seldom
aspired beyond the imitation of Attic genius, ^62 had been almost
totally silent since the fall of the republic; ^63 and their
place was unworthily occupied by licentious farce, effeminate
music, and splendid pageantry. The pantomimes, ^64 who
maintained their reputation from the age of Augustus to the sixth
century, expressed, without the use of words, the various fables
of the gods and heroes of antiquity; and the perfection of their
art, which sometimes disarmed the gravity of the philosopher,
always excited the applause and wonder of the people. The vast
and magnificent theatres of Rome were filled by three thousand
female dancers, and by three thousand singers, with the masters
of the respective choruses. Such was the popular favor which
they enjoyed, that, in a time of scarcity, when all strangers
were banished from the city, the merit of contributing to the
public pleasures exempted them from a law, which was strictly
executed against the professors of the liberal arts. ^65

[Footnote 61: Juvenal. Satir. xi. 191, &c. The expressions of
the historian Ammianus are not less strong and animated than
those of the satirist and both the one and the other painted from
the life. The numbers which the great Circus was capable of
receiving are taken from the original Notitioe of the city. The
differences between them prove that they did not transcribe each
other; but the same may appear incredible, though the country on
these occasions flocked to the city.]

[Footnote 62: Sometimes indeed they composed original pieces.

- Vestigia Graeca
Ausi deserere et celeb rare domestica facta.

Horat. Epistol. ad Pisones, 285, and the learned, though
perplexed note of Dacier, who might have allowed the name of
tragedies to the Brutus and the Decius of Pacuvius, or to the
Cato of Maternus. The Octavia, ascribed to one of the Senecas,
still remains a very unfavorable specimen of Roman tragedy.]
[Footnote 63: In the time of Quintilian and Pliny, a tragic poet
was reduced to the imperfect method of hiring a great room, and
reading his play to the company, whom he invited for that
purpose. (See Dialog. de Oratoribus, c. 9, 11, and Plin.
Epistol. vii. 17.)]

[Footnote 64: See the dialogue of Lucian, entitled the
Saltatione, tom. ii. p. 265 - 317, edit. Reitz. The pantomimes
obtained the honorable name; and it was required, that they
should be conversant with almost every art and science. Burette
(in the Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. i. p. 127,
&c.) has given a short history of the art of pantomimes.]
[Footnote 65: Ammianus, l. xiv. c. 6. He complains, with decent
indignation that the streets of Rome were filled with crowds of
females, who might have given children to the state, but whose
only occupation was to curl and dress their hair, and jactari
volubilibus gyris, dum experimunt innumera simulacra, quae
finxere fabulae theatrales.]

It is said, that the foolish curiosity of Elagabalus
attempted to discover, from the quantity of spiders' webs, the
number of the inhabitants of Rome. A more rational method of
inquiry might not have been undeserving of the attention of the
wisest princes, who could easily have resolved a question so
important for the Roman government, and so interesting to
succeeding ages. The births and deaths of the citizens were duly
registered; and if any writer of antiquity had condescended to
mention the annual amount, or the common average, we might now
produce some satisfactory calculation, which would destroy the
extravagant assertions of critics, and perhaps confirm the modest
and probable conjectures of philosophers. ^66 The most diligent
researches have collected only the following circumstances;
which, slight and imperfect as they are, may tend, in some
degree, to illustrate the question of the populousness of ancient
Rome. I. When the capital of the empire was besieged by the
Goths, the circuit of the walls was accurately measured, by
Ammonius, the mathematician, who found it equal to twenty-one
miles. ^67 It should not be forgotten that the form of the city
was almost that of a circle; the geometrical figure which is
known to contain the largest space within any given
circumference. II. The architect Vitruvius, who flourished in
the Augustan age, and whose evidence, on this occasion, has
peculiar weight and authority, observes, that the innumerable
habitations of the Roman people would have spread themselves far
beyond the narrow limits of the city; and that the want of
ground, which was probably contracted on every side by gardens
and villas, suggested the common, though inconvenient, practice
of raising the houses to a considerable height in the air. ^68
But the loftiness of these buildings, which often consisted of
hasty work and insufficient materials, was the cause of frequent
and fatal accidents; and it was repeatedly enacted by Augustus,
as well as by Nero, that the height of private edifices within
the walls of Rome, should not exceed the measure of seventy feet
from the ground. ^69 III. Juvenal ^70 laments, as it should seem
from his own experience, the hardships of the poorer citizens, to
whom he addresses the salutary advice of emigrating, without
delay, from the smoke of Rome, since they might purchase, in the
little towns of Italy, a cheerful commodious dwelling, at the
same price which they annually paid for a dark and miserable
lodging. House-rent was therefore immoderately dear: the rich
acquired, at an enormous expense, the ground, which they covered
with palaces and gardens; but the body of the Roman people was
crowded into a narrow space; and the different floors, and
apartments, of the same house, were divided, as it is still the
custom of Paris, and other cities, among several families of
plebeians. IV. The total number of houses in the fourteen
regions of the city, is accurately stated in the description of
Rome, composed under the reign of Theodosius, and they amount to
forty-eight thousand three hundred and eighty-two. ^71 The two
classes of domus and of insuloe, into which they are divided,
include all the habitations of the capital, of every rank and
condition from the marble palace of the Anicii, with a numerous
establishment of freedmen and slaves, to the lofty and narrow
lodging-house, where the poet Codrus and his wife were permitted
to hire a wretched garret immediately under the files. If we
adopt the same average, which, under similar circumstances, has
been found applicable to Paris, ^72 and indifferently allow about
twenty-five persons for each house, of every degree, we may
fairly estimate the inhabitants of Rome at twelve hundred
thousand: a number which cannot be thought excessive for the
capital of a mighty empire, though it exceeds the populousness of
the greatest cities of modern Europe. ^73 ^*
[Footnote 66: Lipsius (tom. iii. p. 423, de Magnitud. Romana, l.
iii. c. 3) and Isaac Vossius (Observant. Var. p. 26 - 34) have
indulged strange dreams, of four, or eight, or fourteen, millions
in Rome. Mr. Hume, (Essays, vol. i. p. 450 - 457,) with
admirable good sense and scepticism betrays some secret
disposition to extenuate the populousness of ancient times.]
[Footnote 67: Olympiodor. ap. Phot. p. 197. See Fabricius, Bibl.
Graec. tom. ix. p. 400.]

[Footnote 68: In ea autem majestate urbis, et civium infinita
frequentia, innumerabiles habitationes opus fuit explicare. Ergo
cum recipero non posset area plana tantam multitudinem in urbe,
ad auxilium altitudinis aedificiorum res ipsa coegit devenire.
Vitruv. ii. 8. This passage, which I owe to Vossius, is clear,
strong, and comprehensive.]

[Footnote 69: The successive testimonies of Pliny, Aristides,
Claudian, Rutilius, &c., prove the insufficiency of these
restrictive edicts. See Lipsius, de Magnitud. Romana, l. iii. c.

- Tabulata tibi jam tertia fumant;
Tu nescis; nam si gradibus trepidatur ab imis
Ultimus ardebit, quem tegula sola tuetur
A pluvia. Juvenal. Satir. iii. 199]

[Footnote 70: Read the whole third satire, but particularly 166,
223, &c. The description of a crowded insula, or lodging-house,
in Petronius, (c. 95, 97,) perfectly tallies with the complaints
of Juvenal; and we learn from legal authority, that, in the time
of Augustus, (Heineccius, Hist. Juris. Roman. c. iv. p. 181,) the
ordinary rent of the several coenacula, or apartments of an
insula, annually produced forty thousand sesterces, between three
and four hundred pounds sterling, (Pandect. l. xix. tit. ii. No.
30,) a sum which proves at once the large extent, and high value,
of those common buildings.]
[Footnote 71: This sum total is composed of 1780 domus, or great
houses of 46,602 insuloe, or plebeian habitations, (see Nardini,
Roma Antica, l. iii. p. 88;) and these numbers are ascertained by
the agreement of the texts of the different Notitioe. Nardini,
l. viii. p. 498, 500.]

[Footnote 72: See that accurate writer M. de Messance, Recherches
sur la Population, p. 175 - 187. From probable, or certain
grounds, he assigns to Paris 23,565 houses, 71,114 families, and
576,630 inhabitants.]
[Footnote 73: This computation is not very different from that
which M. Brotier, the last editor of Tacitus, (tom. ii. p. 380,)
has assumed from similar principles; though he seems to aim at a
degree of precision which it is neither possible nor important to

[Footnote *: M. Dureau de la Malle (Economic Politique des
Romaines, t. i. p. 369) quotes a passage from the xvth chapter of
Gibbon, in which he estimates the population of Rome at not less
than a million, and adds (omitting any reference to this
passage,) that he (Gibbon) could not have seriously studied the
question. M. Dureau de la Malle proceeds to argue that Rome, as
contained within the walls of Servius Tullius, occupying an area
only one fifth of that of Paris, could not have contained 300,000
inhabitants; within those of Aurelian not more than 560,000,
inclusive of soldiers and strangers. The suburbs, he endeavors
to show, both up to the time of Aurelian, and after his reign,
were neither so extensive, nor so populous, as generally
supposed. M. Dureau de la Malle has but imperfectly quoted the
important passage of Dionysius, that which proves that when he
wrote (in the time of Augustus) the walls of Servius no longer
marked the boundary of the city. In many places they were so
built upon, that it was impossible to trace them. There was no
certain limit, where the city ended and ceased to be the city; it
stretched out to so boundless an extent into the country. Ant.
Rom. iv. 13. None of M. de la Malle's arguments appear to me to
prove, against this statement, that these irregular suburbs did
not extend so far in many parts, as to make it impossible to
calculate accurately the inhabited area of the city. Though no
doubt the city, as reconstructed by Nero, was much less closely
built and with many more open spaces for palaces, temples, and
other public edifices, yet many passages seem to prove that the
laws respecting the height of houses were not rigidly enforced.
A great part of the lower especially of the slave population,
were very densely crowded, and lived, even more than in our
modern towns, in cellars and subterranean dwellings under the
public edifices.
Nor do M. de la Malle's arguments, by which he would explain
the insulae insulae (of which the Notitiae Urbis give us the
number) as rows of shops, with a chamber or two within the domus,
or houses of the wealthy, satisfy me as to their soundness of
their scholarship. Some passages which he adduces directly
contradict his theory; none, as appears to me, distinctly prove
it. I must adhere to the old interpretation of the word, as
chiefly dwellings for the middling or lower classes, or clusters
of tenements, often perhaps, under the same roof.

On this point, Zumpt, in the Dissertation before quoted,
entirely disagrees with M. de la Malle. Zumpt has likewise
detected the mistake of M. de la Malle as to the "canon" of corn,
mentioned in the life of Septimius Severus by Spartianus. On
this canon the French writer calculates the inhabitants of Rome
at that time. But the "canon" was not the whole supply of Rome,
but that quantity which the state required for the public
granaries to supply the gratuitous distributions to the people,
and the public officers and slaves; no doubt likewise to keep
down the general price. M. Zumpt reckons the population of Rome
at 2,000,000. After careful consideration, I should conceive the
number in the text, 1,200,000, to be nearest the truth - M.

Such was the state of Rome under the reign of Honorius; at
the time when the Gothic army formed the siege, or rather the
blockade, of the city. ^74 By a skilful disposition of his
numerous forces, who impatiently watched the moment of an
assault, Alaric encompassed the walls, commanded the twelve
principal gates, intercepted all communication with the adjacent
country, and vigilantly guarded the navigation of the Tyber, from
which the Romans derived the surest and most plentiful supply of
provisions. The first emotions of the nobles, and of the people,
were those of surprise and indignation, that a vile Barbarian
should dare to insult the capital of the world: but their
arrogance was soon humbled by misfortune; and their unmanly rage,
instead of being directed against an enemy in arms, was meanly
exercised on a defenceless and innocent victim. Perhaps in the
person of Serena, the Romans might have respected the niece of
Theodosius, the aunt, nay, even the adoptive mother, of the
reigning emperor: but they abhorred the widow of Stilicho; and
they listened with credulous passion to the tale of calumny,
which accused her of maintaining a secret and criminal
correspondence with the Gothic invader. Actuated, or overawed, by
the same popular frenzy, the senate, without requiring any
evidence of his guilt, pronounced the sentence of her death.
Serena was ignominiously strangled; and the infatuated multitude
were astonished to find, that this cruel act of injustice did not
immediately produce the retreat of the Barbarians, and the
deliverance of the city. That unfortunate city gradually
experienced the distress of scarcity, and at length the horrid
calamities of famine. The daily allowance of three pounds of
bread was reduced to one half, to one third, to nothing; and the
price of corn still continued to rise in a rapid and extravagant
proportion. The poorer citizens, who were unable to purchase the
necessaries of life, solicited the precarious charity of the
rich; and for a while the public misery was alleviated by the
humanity of Laeta, the widow of the emperor Gratian, who had
fixed her residence at Rome, and consecrated to the use of the
indigent the princely revenue which she annually received from
the grateful successors of her husband. ^75 But these private and
temporary donatives were insufficient to appease the hunger of a
numerous people; and the progress of famine invaded the marble
palaces of the senators themselves. The persons of both sexes,
who had been educated in the enjoyment of ease and luxury,
discovered how little is requisite to supply the demands of
nature; and lavished their unavailing treasures of gold and
silver, to obtain the coarse and scanty sustenance which they
would formerly have rejected with disdain. The food the most
repugnant to sense or imagination, the aliments the most
unwholesome and pernicious to the constitution, were eagerly
devoured, and fiercely disputed, by the rage of hunger. A dark
suspicion was entertained, that some desperate wretches fed on
the bodies of their fellow-creatures, whom they had secretly
murdered; and even mothers, (such was the horrid conflict of the
two most powerful instincts implanted by nature in the human
breast,) even mothers are said to have tasted the flesh of their
slaughtered infants! ^76 Many thousands of the inhabitants of
Rome expired in their houses, or in the streets, for want of
sustenance; and as the public sepulchres without the walls were
in the power of the enemy the stench, which arose from so many
putrid and unburied carcasses, infected the air; and the miseries
of famine were succeeded and aggravated by the contagion of a
pestilential disease. The assurances of speedy and effectual
relief, which were repeatedly transmitted from the court of
Ravenna, supported for some time, the fainting resolution of the
Romans, till at length the despair of any human aid tempted them
to accept the offers of a praeternatural deliverance.
Pompeianus, praefect of the city, had been persuaded, by the art
or fanaticism of some Tuscan diviners, that, by the mysterious
force of spells and sacrifices, they could extract the lightning
from the clouds, and point those celestial fires against the camp
of the Barbarians. ^77 The important secret was communicated to
Innocent, the bishop of Rome; and the successor of St. Peter is
accused, perhaps without foundation, of preferring the safety of
the republic to the rigid severity of the Christian worship. But
when the question was agitated in the senate; when it was
proposed, as an essential condition, that those sacrifices should
be performed in the Capitol, by the authority, and in the
presence, of the magistrates, the majority of that respectable
assembly, apprehensive either of the Divine or of the Imperial
displeasure, refused to join in an act, which appeared almost
equivalent to the public restoration of Paganism. ^78

[Footnote 74: For the events of the first siege of Rome, which
are often confounded with those of the second and third, see
Zosimus, l. v. p. 350 - 354, Sozomen, l. ix. c. 6, Olympiodorus,
ap. Phot. p. 180, Philostorgius, l. xii. c. 3, and Godefroy,
Dissertat. p. 467 - 475.]

[Footnote 75: The mother of Laeta was named Pissumena. Her
father, family, and country, are unknown. Ducange, Fam.
Byzantium, p. 59.]
[Footnote 76: Ad nefandos cibos erupit esurientium rabies, et sua
invicem membra laniarunt, dum mater non parcit lactenti
infantiae; et recipit utero, quem paullo ante effuderat. Jerom.
ad Principiam, tom. i. p. 121. The same horrid circumstance is
likewise told of the sieges of Jerusalem and Paris. For the
latter, compare the tenth book of the Henriade, and the Journal
de Henri IV. tom. i. p. 47 - 83; and observe that a plain
narrative of facts is much more pathetic, than the most labored
descriptions of epic poetry]
[Footnote 77: Zosimus (l. v. p. 355, 356) speaks of these
ceremonies like a Greek unacquainted with the national
superstition of Rome and Tuscany. I suspect, that they consisted
of two parts, the secret and the public; the former were probably
an imitation of the arts and spells, by which Numa had drawn down
Jupiter and his thunder on Mount Aventine.

- Quid agant laqueis, quae carmine dicant,
Quaque trahant superis sedibus arte Jovem,
Scire nefas homini.

The ancilia, or shields of Mars, the pignora Imperii, which were
carried in solemn procession on the calends of March, derived
their origin from this mysterious event, (Ovid. Fast. iii. 259 -
398.) It was probably designed to revive this ancient festival,
which had been suppressed by Theodosius. In that case, we
recover a chronological date (March the 1st, A.D. 409) which has
not hitherto been observed.

Note: On this curious question of the knowledge of
conducting lightning, processed by the ancients, consult Eusebe
Salverte, des Sciences Occultes, l. xxiv. Paris, 1829. - M.]
[Footnote 78: Sozomen (l. ix. c. 6) insinuates that the
experiment was actually, though unsuccessfully, made; but he does
not mention the name of Innocent: and Tillemont, (Mem. Eccles.
tom. x. p. 645) is determined not to believe, that a pope could
be guilty of such impious condescension.]
The last resource of the Romans was in the clemency, or at
least in the moderation, of the king of the Goths. The senate,
who in this emergency assumed the supreme powers of government,
appointed two ambassadors to negotiate with the enemy. This
important trust was delegated to Basilius, a senator, of Spanish
extraction, and already conspicuous in the administration of
provinces; and to John, the first tribune of the notaries, who
was peculiarly qualified, by his dexterity in business, as well
as by his former intimacy with the Gothic prince. When they were
introduced into his presence, they declared, perhaps in a more
lofty style than became their abject condition, that the Romans
were resolved to maintain their dignity, either in peace or war;
and that, if Alaric refused them a fair and honorable
capitulation, he might sound his trumpets, and prepare to give
battle to an innumerable people, exercised in arms, and animated
by despair. "The thicker the hay, the easier it is mowed," was
the concise reply of the Barbarian; and this rustic metaphor was
accompanied by a loud and insulting laugh, expressive of his
contempt for the menaces of an unwarlike populace, enervated by
luxury before they were emaciated by famine. He then
condescended to fix the ransom, which he would accept as the
price of his retreat from the walls of Rome: all the gold and
silver in the city, whether it were the property of the state, or
of individuals; all the rich and precious movables; and all the
slaves that could prove their title to the name of Barbarians.
The ministers of the senate presumed to ask, in a modest and
suppliant tone, "If such, O king, are your demands, what do you
intend to leave us?" "Your Lives!" replied the haughty conqueror:
they trembled, and retired. Yet, before they retired, a short
suspension of arms was granted, which allowed some time for a
more temperate negotiation. The stern features of Alaric were
insensibly relaxed; he abated much of the rigor of his terms; and
at length consented to raise the siege, on the immediate payment
of five thousand pounds of gold, of thirty thousand pounds of
silver, of four thousand robes of silk, of three thousand pieces
of fine scarlet cloth, and of three thousand pounds weight of
pepper. ^79 But the public treasury was exhausted; the annual
rents of the great estates in Italy and the provinces, had been
exchanged, during the famine, for the vilest sustenance; the
hoards of secret wealth were still concealed by the obstinacy of
avarice; and some remains of consecrated spoils afforded the only
resource that could avert the impending ruin of the city. As
soon as the Romans had satisfied the rapacious demands of Alaric,
they were restored, in some measure, to the enjoyment of peace
and plenty. Several of the gates were cautiously opened; the
importation of provisions from the river and the adjacent country
was no longer obstructed by the Goths; the citizens resorted in
crowds to the free market, which was held during three days in
the suburbs; and while the merchants who undertook this gainful
trade made a considerable profit, the future subsistence of the
city was secured by the ample magazines which were deposited in
the public and private granaries. A more regular discipline than
could have been expected, was maintained in the camp of Alaric;
and the wise Barbarian justified his regard for the faith of
treaties, by the just severity with which he chastised a party of
licentious Goths, who had insulted some Roman citizens on the
road to Ostia. His army, enriched by the contributions of the
capital, slowly advanced into the fair and fruitful province of
Tuscany, where he proposed to establish his winter quarters; and
the Gothic standard became the refuge of forty thousand Barbarian
slaves, who had broke their chains, and aspired, under the
command of their great deliverer, to revenge the injuries and the
disgrace of their cruel servitude. About the same time, he
received a more honorable reenforcement of Goths and Huns, whom
Adolphus, ^80 the brother of his wife, had conducted, at his
pressing invitation, from the banks of the Danube to those of the
Tyber, and who had cut their way, with some difficulty and loss,
through the superior number of the Imperial troops. A victorious
leader, who united the daring spirit of a Barbarian with the art
and discipline of a Roman general, was at the head of a hundred
thousand fighting men; and Italy pronounced, with terror and
respect, the formidable name of Alaric. ^81

[Footnote 79: Pepper was a favorite ingredient of the most
expensive Roman cookery, and the best sort commonly sold for
fifteen denarii, or ten shillings, the pound. See Pliny, Hist.
Natur. xii. 14. It was brought from India; and the same country,
the coast of Malabar, still affords the greatest plenty: but the
improvement of trade and navigation has multiplied the quantity
and reduced the price. See Histoire Politique et Philosophique,
&c., tom. i. p. 457.]

[Footnote 80: This Gothic chieftain is called by Jornandes and
Isidore, Athaulphus; by Zosimus and Orosius, Ataulphus; and by
Olympiodorus, Adaoulphus. I have used the celebrated name of
Adolphus, which seems to be authorized by the practice of the
Swedes, the sons or brothers of the ancient Goths.]

[Footnote 81: The treaty between Alaric and the Romans, &c., is
taken from Zosimus, l. v. p. 354, 355, 358, 359, 362, 363. The
additional circumstances are too few and trifling to require any
other quotation.]

Chapter XXXI: Invasion Of Italy, Occupation Of Territories By

Part III.

At the distance of fourteen centuries, we may be satisfied
with relating the military exploits of the conquerors of Rome,
without presuming to investigate the motives of their political
conduct. In the midst of his apparent prosperity, Alaric was
conscious, perhaps, of some secret weakness, some internal
defect; or perhaps the moderation which he displayed, was
intended only to deceive and disarm the easy credulity of the
ministers of Honorius. The king of the Goths repeatedly
declared, that it was his desire to be considered as the friend
of peace, and of the Romans. Three senators, at his earnest
request, were sent ambassadors to the court of Ravenna, to
solicit the exchange of hostages, and the conclusion of the
treaty; and the proposals, which he more clearly expressed during
the course of the negotiations, could only inspire a doubt of his
sincerity, as they might seem inadequate to the state of his
fortune. The Barbarian still aspired to the rank of
master-general of the armies of the West; he stipulated an annual
subsidy of corn and money; and he chose the provinces of
Dalmatia, Noricum, and Venetia, for the seat of his new kingdom,
which would have commanded the important communication between
Italy and the Danube. If these modest terms should be rejected,
Alaric showed a disposition to relinquish his pecuniary demands,
and even to content himself with the possession of Noricum; an
exhausted and impoverished country, perpetually exposed to the
inroads of the Barbarians of Germany. ^82 But the hopes of peace
were disappointed by the weak obstinacy, or interested views, of
the minister Olympius. Without listening to the salutary
remonstrances of the senate, he dismissed their ambassadors under
the conduct of a military escort, too numerous for a retinue of
honor, and too feeble for any army of defence. Six thousand
Dalmatians, the flower of the Imperial legions, were ordered to
march from Ravenna to Rome, through an open country which was
occupied by the formidable myriads of the Barbarians. These
brave legionaries, encompassed and betrayed, fell a sacrifice to
ministerial folly; their general, Valens, with a hundred
soldiers, escaped from the field of battle; and one of the
ambassadors, who could no longer claim the protection of the law
of nations, was obliged to purchase his freedom with a ransom of
thirty thousand pieces of gold. Yet Alaric, instead of resenting
this act of impotent hostility, immediately renewed his proposals
of peace; and the second embassy of the Roman senate, which
derived weight and dignity from the presence of Innocent, bishop
of the city, was guarded from the dangers of the road by a
detachment of Gothic soldiers. ^83

[Footnote 82: Zosimus, l. v. p. 367 368, 369.]

[Footnote 83: Zosimus, l. v. p. 360, 361, 362. The bishop, by
remaining at Ravenna, escaped the impending calamities of the
city. Orosius, l. vii. c. 39, p. 573.]

Olympius ^84 might have continued to insult the just
resentment of a people who loudly accused him as the author of
the public calamities; but his power was undermined by the secret
intrigues of the palace. The favorite eunuchs transferred the
government of Honorius, and the empire, to Jovius, the Praetorian
praefect; an unworthy servant, who did not atone, by the merit of
personal attachment, for the errors and misfortunes of his
administration. The exile, or escape, of the guilty Olympius,
reserved him for more vicissitudes of fortune: he experienced the
adventures of an obscure and wandering life; he again rose to
power; he fell a second time into disgrace; his ears were cut
off; he expired under the lash; and his ignominious death
afforded a grateful spectacle to the friends of Stilicho. After
the removal of Olympius, whose character was deeply tainted with
religious fanaticism, the Pagans and heretics were delivered from
the impolitic proscription, which excluded them from the
dignities of the state. The brave Gennerid, ^85 a soldier of
Barbarian origin, who still adhered to the worship of his
ancestors, had been obliged to lay aside the military belt: and
though he was repeatedly assured by the emperor himself, that
laws were not made for persons of his rank or merit, he refused
to accept any partial dispensation, and persevered in honorable
disgrace, till he had extorted a general act of justice from the
distress of the Roman government. The conduct of Gennerid in the
important station to which he was promoted or restored, of
master-general of Dalmatia, Pannonia, Noricum, and Rhaetia,
seemed to revive the discipline and spirit of the republic. From
a life of idleness and want, his troops were soon habituated to
severe exercise and plentiful subsistence; and his private
generosity often supplied the rewards, which were denied by the
avarice, or poverty, of the court of Ravenna. The valor of
Gennerid, formidable to the adjacent Barbarians, was the firmest
bulwark of the Illyrian frontier; and his vigilant care assisted
the empire with a reenforcement of ten thousand Huns, who arrived
on the confines of Italy, attended by such a convoy of
provisions, and such a numerous train of sheep and oxen, as might
have been sufficient, not only for the march of an army, but for
the settlement of a colony. But the court and councils of
Honorius still remained a scene of weakness and distraction, of
corruption and anarchy. Instigated by the praefect Jovius, the
guards rose in furious mutiny, and demanded the heads of two
generals, and of the two principal eunuchs. The generals, under
a perfidious promise of safety, were sent on shipboard, and
privately executed; while the favor of the eunuchs procured them
a mild and secure exile at Milan and Constantinople. Eusebius the
eunuch, and the Barbarian Allobich, succeeded to the command of
the bed-chamber and of the guards; and the mutual jealousy of
these subordinate ministers was the cause of their mutual
destruction. By the insolent order of the count of the
domestics, the great chamberlain was shamefully beaten to death
with sticks, before the eyes of the astonished emperor; and the
subsequent assassination of Allobich, in the midst of a public
procession, is the only circumstance of his life, in which
Honorius discovered the faintest symptom of courage or
resentment. Yet before they fell, Eusebius and Allobich had
contributed their part to the ruin of the empire, by opposing the
conclusion of a treaty which Jovius, from a selfish, and perhaps
a criminal, motive, had negotiated with Alaric, in a personal
interview under the walls of Rimini. During the absence of
Jovius, the emperor was persuaded to assume a lofty tone of
inflexible dignity, such as neither his situation, nor his
character, could enable him to support; and a letter, signed with
the name of Honorius, was immediately despatched to the
Praetorian praefect, granting him a free permission to dispose of
the public money, but sternly refusing to prostitute the military
honors of Rome to the proud demands of a Barbarian. This letter
was imprudently communicated to Alaric himself; and the Goth, who
in the whole transaction had behaved with temper and decency,
expressed, in the most outrageous language, his lively sense of
the insult so wantonly offered to his person and to his nation.
The conference of Rimini was hastily interrupted; and the
praefect Jovius, on his return to Ravenna, was compelled to
adopt, and even to encourage, the fashionable opinions of the
court. By his advice and example, the principal officers of the
state and army were obliged to swear, that, without listening, in
any circumstances, to any conditions of peace, they would still
persevere in perpetual and implacable war against the enemy of
the republic. This rash engagement opposed an insuperable bar to
all future negotiation. The ministers of Honorius were heard to
declare, that, if they had only in voked the name of the Deity,
they would consult the public safety, and trust their souls to
the mercy of Heaven: but they had sworn by the sacred head of the
emperor himself; they had sworn by the sacred head of the emperor
himself; they had touched, in solemn ceremony, that august seat
of majesty and wisdom; and the violation of their oath would
exposethem to the temporal penalties of sacrilege and rebellion.
^86 [Footnote 84: For the adventures of Olympius, and his
successors in the ministry, see Zosimus, l. v. p. 363, 365, 366,
and Olympiodor. ap. Phot. p. 180, 181. ]

[Footnote 85: Zosimus (l. v. p. 364) relates this circumstance
with visible complacency, and celebrates the character of
Gennerid as the last glory of expiring Paganism. Very different
were the sentiments of the council of Carthage, who deputed four
bishops to the court of Ravenna to complain of the law, which had
been just enacted, that all conversions to Christianity should be
free and voluntary. See Baronius, Annal. Eccles. A.D. 409, No.
12, A.D. 410, No. 47, 48.]

[Footnote 86: Zosimus, l. v. p. 367, 368, 369. This custom of
swearing by the head, or life, or safety, or genius, of the
sovereign, was of the highest antiquity, both in Egypt (Genesis,
xlii. 15) and Scythia. It was soon transferred, by flattery, to
the Caesars; and Tertullian complains, that it was the only oath
which the Romans of his time affected to reverence. See an
elegant Dissertation of the Abbe Mossieu on the Oaths of the
Ancients, in the Mem de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. i. p.
208, 209.]

While the emperor and his court enjoyed, with sullen pride,
the security of the marches and fortifications of Ravenna, they
abandoned Rome, almost without defence, to the resentment of
Alaric. Yet such was the moderation which he still preserved, or
affected, that, as he moved with his army along the Flaminian
way, he successively despatched the bishops of the towns of Italy
to reiterate his offers of peace, and to congradulate the
emperor, that he would save the city and its inhabitants from
hostile fire, and the sword of the Barbarians. ^87 These
impending calamities were, however, averted, not indeed by the
wisdom of Honorius, but by the prudence or humanity of the Gothic
king; who employed a milder, though not less effectual, method of
conquest. Instead of assaulting the capital, he successfully
directed his efforts against the Port of Ostia, one of the
boldest and most stupendous works of Roman magnificence. ^88 The
accidents to which the precarious subsistence of the city was
continually exposed in a winter navigation, and an open road, had
suggested to the genius of the first Caesar the useful design,
which was executed under the reign of Claudius. The artificial
moles, which formed the narrow entrance, advanced far into the
sea, and firmly repelled the fury of the waves, while the largest
vessels securely rode at anchor within three deep and capacious
basins, which received the northern branch of the Tyber, about
two miles from the ancient colony of Ostia. ^89 The Roman Port
insensibly swelled to the size of an episcopal city, ^90 where
the corn of Africa was deposited in spacious granaries for the
use of the capital. As soon as Alaric was in possession of that
important place, he summoned the city to surrender at discretion;
and his demands were enforced by the positive declaration, that a
refusal, or even a delay, should be instantly followed by the
destruction of the magazines, on which the life of the Roman
people depended. The clamors of that people, and the terror of
famine, subdued the pride of the senate; they listened, without
reluctance, to the proposal of placing a new emperor on the
throne of the unworthy Honorius; and the suffrage of the Gothic
conqueror bestowed the purple on Attalus, praefect of the city.
The grateful monarch immediately acknowledged his protector as
master-general of the armies of the West; Adolphus, with the rank
of count of the domestics, obtained the custody of the person of
Attalus; and the two hostile nations seemed to be united in the
closest bands of friendship and alliance. ^91
[Footnote 87: Zosimus, l. v. p. 368, 369. I have softened the
expressions of Alaric, who expatiates, in too florid a manner, on
the history of Rome]
[Footnote 88: See Sueton. in Claud. c. 20. Dion Cassius, l. lx.
p. 949, edit Reimar, and the lively description of Juvenal,
Satir. xii. 75, &c. In the sixteenth century, when the remains of
this Augustan port were still visible, the antiquarians sketched
the plan, (see D'Anville, Mem. de l'Academie des Inscriptions,
tom. xxx. p. 198,) and declared, with enthusiasm, that all the
monarchs of Europe would be unable to execute so great a work,
(Bergier, Hist. des grands Chemins des Romains, tom. ii. p.

[Footnote 89: The Ostia Tyberina, (see Cluver. Italia Antiq. l.
iii. p. 870 - 879,) in the plural number, the two mouths of the
Tyber, were separated by the Holy Island, an equilateral
triangle, whose sides were each of them computed at about two
miles. The colony of Ostia was founded immediately beyond the
left, or southern, and the Port immediately beyond the right, or
northern, branch of hte river; and the distance between their
remains measures something more than two miles on Cingolani's
map. In the time of Strabo, the sand and mud deposited by the
Tyber had choked the harbor of Ostia; the progress of the same
cause has added much to the size of the Holy Islands, and
gradually left both Ostia and the Port at a considerable distance
from the shore. The dry channels (fiumi morti) and the large
estuaries (stagno di Ponente, di Levante) mark the changes of the
river, and the efforts of the sea. Consult, for the present
state of this dreary and desolate tract, the excellent map of the
ecclesiastical state by the mathematicians of Benedict XIV.; an
actual survey of the Agro Romano, in six sheets, by Cingolani,
which contains 113,819 rubbia, (about 570,000 acres;) and the
large topographical map of Ameti, in eight sheets.]

[Footnote 90: As early as the third, (Lardner's Credibility of
the Gospel, part ii. vol. iii. p. 89 - 92,) or at least the
fourth, century, (Carol. a Sancta Paulo, Notit. Eccles. p. 47,)
the Port of Rome was an episcopal city, which was demolished, as
it should seem in the ninth century, by Pope Gregory IV., during
the incursions of the Arabs. It is now reduced to an inn, a
church, and the house, or palace, of the bishop; who ranks as one
of six cardinal-bishops of the Roman church. See Eschinard,
Deserizione di Roman et dell' Agro Romano, p. 328.

Note: Compare Sir W. Gell. Rome and its Vicinity vol. ii p.
134. - M.]
[Footnote 91: For the elevation of Attalus, consult Zosimus, l.
vi. p. 377 - 380, Sozomen, l. ix. c. 8, 9, Olympiodor. ap. Phot.
p. 180, 181, Philostorg. l. xii. c. 3, and Godefroy's Dissertat.
p. 470.]

The gates of the city were thrown open, and the new emperor
of the Romans, encompassed on every side by the Gothic arms, was
conducted, in tumultuous procession, to the palace of Augustus
and Trajan. After he had distributed the civil and military
dignities among his favorites and followers, Attalus convened an
assembly of the senate; before whom, in a format and florid
speech, he asserted his resolution of restoring the majesty of
the republic, and of uniting to the empire the provinces of Egypt
and the East, which had once acknowledged the sovereignty of
Rome. Such extravagant promises inspired every reasonable citizen
with a just contempt for the character of an unwarlike usurper,
whose elevation was the deepest and most ignominious wound which
the republic had yet sustained from the insolence of the
Barbarians. But the populace, with their usual levity, applauded
the change of masters. The public discontent was favorable to
the rival of Honorius; and the sectaries, oppressed by his
persecuting edicts, expected some degree of countenance, or at
least of toleration, from a prince, who, in his native country of
Ionia, had been educated in the Pagan superstition, and who had
since received the sacrament of baptism from the hands of an
Arian bishop. ^92 The first days of the reign of Attalus were
fair and prosperous. An officer of confidence was sent with an
inconsiderable body of troops to secure the obedience of Africa;
the greatest part of Italy submitted to the terror of the Gothic
powers; and though the city of Bologna made a vigorous and
effectual resistance, the people of Milan, dissatisfied perhaps
with the absence of Honorius, accepted, with loud acclamations,
the choice of the Roman senate. At the head of a formidable army,
Alaric conducted his royal captive almost to the gates of
Ravenna; and a solemn embassy of the principal ministers, of
Jovius, the Praetorian praefect, of Valens, master of the cavalry
and infantry, of the quaestor Potamius, and of Julian, the first
of the notaries, was introduced, with martial pomp, into the
Gothic camp. In the name of their sovereign, they consented to
acknowledge the lawful election of his competitor, and to divide
the provinces of Italy and the West between the two emperors.
Their proposals were rejected with disdain; and the refusal was
aggravated by the insulting clemency of Attalus, who condescended
to promise, that, if Honorius would instantly resign the purple,
he should be permitted to pass the remainder of his life in the
peaceful exile of some remote island. ^93 So desperate indeed did
the situation of the son of Theodosius appear, to those who were
the best acquainted with his strength and resources, that Jovius
and Valens, his minister and his general, betrayed their trust,
infamously deserted the sinking cause of their benefactor, and
devoted their treacherous allegiance to the service of his more
fortunate rival. Astonished by such examples of domestic
treason, Honorius trembled at the approach of every servant, at
the arrival of every messenger. He dreaded the secret enemies,
who might lurk in his capital, his palace, his bed-chamber; and
some ships lay ready in the harbor of Ravenna, to transport the
abdicated monarch to the dominions of his infant nephew, the
emperor of the East.
[Footnote 92: We may admit the evidence of Sozomen for the Arian
baptism, and that of Philostorgius for the Pagan education, of
Attalus. The visible joy of Zosimus, and the discontent which he
imputes to the Anician family, are very unfavorable to the
Christianity of the new emperor.]

[Footnote 93: He carried his insolence so far, as to declare that
he should mutilate Honorius before he sent him into exile. But
this assertion of Zosimus is destroyed by the more impartial
testimony of Olympiodorus; who attributes the ungenerous proposal
(which was absolutely rejected by Attalus) to the baseness, and
perhaps the treachery, of Jovius.]

But there is a Providence (such at least was the opinion of
the historian Procopius) ^94 that watches over innocence and
folly; and the pretensions of Honorius to its peculiar care
cannot reasonably be disputed. At the moment when his despair,
incapable of any wise or manly resolution, meditated a shameful
flight, a seasonable reenforcement of four thousand veterans
unexpectedly landed in the port of Ravenna. To these valiant
strangers, whose fidelity had not been corrupted by the factions
of the court, he committed the walls and gates of the city; and
the slumbers of the emperor were no longer disturbed by the
apprehension of imminent and internal danger. The favorable
intelligence which was received from Africa suddenly changed the
opinions of men, and the state of public affairs. The troops and
officers, whom Attalus had sent into that province, were defeated
and slain; and the active zeal of Heraclian maintained his own
allegiance, and that of his people. The faithful count of Africa
transmitted a large sum of money, which fixed the attachment of
the Imperial guards; and his vigilance, in preventing the
exportation of corn and oil, introduced famine, tumult, and
discontent, into the walls of Rome. The failure of the African
expedition was the source of mutual complaint and recrimination
in the party of Attalus; and the mind of his protector was
insensibly alienated from the interest of a prince, who wanted
spirit to command, or docility to obey. The most imprudent
measures were adopted, without the knowledge, or against the
advice, of Alaric; and the obstinate refusal of the senate, to
allow, in the embarkation, the mixture even of five hundred
Goths, betrayed a suspicious and distrustful temper, which, in
their situation, was neither generous nor prudent. The
resentment of the Gothic king was exasperated by the malicious
arts of Jovius, who had been raised to the rank of patrician, and
who afterwards excused his double perfidy, by declaring, without
a blush, that he had only seemed to abandon the service of
Honorius, more effectually to ruin the cause of the usurper. In a
large plain near Rimini, and in the presence of an innumerable
multitude of Romans and Barbarians, the wretched Attalus was
publicly despoiled of the diadem and purple; and those ensigns of
royalty were sent by Alaric, as the pledge of peace and
friendship, to the son of Theodosius. ^95 The officers who
returned to their duty, were reinstated in their employments, and
even the merit of a tardy repentance was graciously allowed; but
the degraded emperor of the Romans, desirous of life, and
insensible of disgrace, implored the permission of following the
Gothic camp, in the train of a haughty and capricious Barbarian.

[Footnote 94: Procop. de Bell. Vandal. l. i. c. 2.]

[Footnote 95: See the cause and circumstances of the fall of
Attalus in Zosimus, l. vi. p. 380 - 383. Sozomen, l. ix. c. 8.
Philostorg. l. xii. c. 3. The two acts of indemnity in the
Theodosian Code, l. ix. tit. xxxviii. leg. 11, 12, which were
published the 12th of February, and the 8th of August, A.D. 410,
evidently relate to this usurper.]

[Footnote 96: In hoc, Alaricus, imperatore, facto, infecto,
refecto, ac defecto ... Mimum risit, et ludum spectavit imperii.
Orosius, l. vii. c. 42, p. 582.]

The degradation of Attalus removed the only real obstacle to
the conclusion of the peace; and Alaric advanced within three
miles of Ravenna, to press the irresolution of the Imperial
ministers, whose insolence soon returned with the return of
fortune. His indignation was kindled by the report, that a rival
chieftain, that Sarus, the personal enemy of Adolphus, and the
hereditary foe of the house of Balti, had been received into the
palace. At the head of three hundred followers, that fearless
Barbarian immediately sallied from the gates of Ravenna;
surprised, and cut in pieces, a considerable body of Goths;
reentered the city in triumph; and was permitted to insult his
adversary, by the voice of a herald, who publicly declared that
the guilt of Alaric had forever excluded him from the friendship
and alliance of the emperor. ^97 The crime and folly of the court
of Ravenna was expiated, a third time, by the calamities of Rome.
The king of the Goths, who no longer dissembled his appetite for
plunder and revenge, appeared in arms under the walls of the
capital; and the trembling senate, without any hopes of relief,
prepared, by a desperate resistance, to defray the ruin of their
country. But they were unable to guard against the secret
conspiracy of their slaves and domestics; who, either from birth
or interest, were attached to the cause of the enemy. At the
hour of midnight, the Salarian gate was silently opened, and the
inhabitants were awakened by the tremendous sound of the Gothic
trumpet. Eleven hundred and sixty-three years after the
foundation of Rome, the Imperial city, which had subdued and
civilized so considerable a part of mankind, was delivered to the
licentious fury of the tribes of Germany and Scythia. ^98

[Footnote 97: Zosimus, l. vi. p. 384. Sozomen, l. ix. c. 9.
Philostorgius, l. xii. c. 3. In this place the text of Zosimus
is mutilated, and we have lost the remainder of his sixth and
last book, which ended with the sack of Rome. Credulous and
partial as he is, we must take our leave of that historian with
some regret.]

[Footnote 98: Adest Alaricus, trepidam Romam obsidet, turbat,
irrumpit. Orosius, l. vii. c. 39, p. 573. He despatches this
great event in seven words; but he employs whole pages in
celebrating the devotion of the Goths. I have extracted from an
improbable story of Procopius, the circumstances which had an air
of probability. Procop. de Bell. Vandal. l. i. c. 2. He
supposes that the city was surprised while the senators slept in
the afternoon; but Jerom, with more authority and more reason,
affirms, that it was in the night, nocte Moab capta est. nocte
cecidit murus ejus, tom. i. p. 121, ad Principiam.]

The proclamation of Alaric, when he forced his entrance into
a vanquished city, discovered, however, some regard for the laws
of humanity and religion. He encouraged his troops boldly to
seize the rewards of valor, and to enrich themselves with the
spoils of a wealthy and effeminate people: but he exhorted them,
at the same time, to spare the lives of the unresisting citizens,
and to respect the churches of the apostles, St. Peter and St.
Paul, as holy and inviolable sanctuaries. Amidst the horrors of
a nocturnal tumult, several of the Christian Goths displayed the
fervor of a recent conversion; and some instances of their
uncommon piety and moderation are related, and perhaps adorned,
by the zeal of ecclesiastical writers. ^99 While the Barbarians
roamed through the city in quest of prey, the humble dwelling of
an aged virgin, who had devoted her life to the service of the
altar, was forced open by one of the powerful Goths. He
immediately demanded, though in civil language, all the gold and
silver in her possession; and was astonished at the readiness
with which she conducted him to a splendid hoard of massy plate,
of the richest materials, and the most curious workmanship. The
Barbarian viewed with wonder and delight this valuable
acquisition, till he was interrupted by a serious admonition,
addressed to him in the following words: "These," said she, "are
the consecrated vessels belonging to St. Peter: if you presume to
touch them, the sacrilegious deed will remain on your conscience.

For my part, I dare not keep what I am unable to defend." The
Gothic captain, struck with reverential awe, despatched a
messenger to inform the king of the treasure which he had
discovered; and received a peremptory order from Alaric, that all
the consecrated plate and ornaments should be transported,
without damage or delay, to the church of the apostle. From the
extremity, perhaps, of the Quirinal hill, to the distant quarter
of the Vatican, a numerous detachment of Goths, marching in order
of battle through the principal streets, protected, with
glittering arms, the long train of their devout companions, who
bore aloft, on their heads, the sacred vessels of gold and
silver; and the martial shouts of the Barbarians were mingled
with the sound of religious psalmody. From all the adjacent
houses, a crowd of Christians hastened to join this edifying
procession; and a multitude of fugitives, without distinction of
age, or rank, or even of sect, had the good fortune to escape to
the secure and hospitable sanctuary of the Vatican. The learned
work, concerning the City of God, was professedly composed by St.
Augustin, to justify the ways of Providence in the destruction of
the Roman greatness. He celebrates, with peculiar satisfaction,
this memorable triumph of Christ; and insults his adversaries, by
challenging them to produce some similar example of a town taken
by storm, in which the fabulous gods of antiquity had been able
to protect either themselves or their deluded votaries. ^100
[Footnote 99: Orosius (l. vii. c. 39, p. 573 - 576) applauds the
piety of the Christian Goths, without seeming to perceive that
the greatest part of them were Arian heretics. Jornandes (c. 30,
p. 653) and Isidore of Seville, (Chron. p. 417, edit. Grot.,) who
were both attached to the Gothic cause, have repeated and
embellished these edifying tales. According to Isidore, Alaric
himself was heard to say, that he waged war with the Romans, and
not with the apostles. Such was the style of the seventh
century; two hundred years before, the fame and merit had been
ascribed, not to the apostles, but to Christ.]

[Footnote 100: See Augustin, de Civitat. Dei, l. i. c. 1 - 6. He
particularly appeals to the examples of Troy, Syracuse, and

In the sack of Rome, some rare and extraordinary examples of
Barbarian virtue have been deservedly applauded. But the holy
precincts of the Vatican, and the apostolic churches, could
receive a very small proportion of the Roman people; many
thousand warriors, more especially of the Huns, who served under
the standard of Alaric, were strangers to the name, or at least
to the faith, of Christ; and we may suspect, without any breach
of charity or candor, that in the hour of savage license, when
every passion was inflamed, and every restraint was removed, the
precepts of the Gospel seldom influenced the behavior of the
Gothic Christians. The writers, the best disposed to exaggerate
their clemency, have freely confessed, that a cruel slaughter was
made of the Romans; ^101 and that the streets of the city were
filled with dead bodies, which remained without burial during the
general consternation. The despair of the citizens was sometimes
converted into fury: and whenever the Barbarians were provoked by
opposition, they extended the promiscuous massacre to the feeble,
the innocent, and the helpless. The private revenge of forty
thousand slaves was exercised without pity or remorse; and the
ignominious lashes, which they had formerly received, were washed
away in the blood of the guilty, or obnoxious, families. The
matrons and virgins of Rome were exposed to injuries more
dreadful, in the apprehension of chastity, than death itself; and
the ecclesiastical historian has selected an example of female
virtue, for the admiration of future ages. ^102 A Roman lady, of
singular beauty and orthodox faith, had excited the impatient
desires of a young Goth, who, according to the sagacious remark
of Sozomen, was attached to the Arian heresy. Exasperated by her
obstinate resistance, he drew his sword, and, with the anger of a
lover, slightly wounded her neck. The bleeding heroine still
continued to brave his resentment, and to repel his love, till
the ravisher desisted from his unavailing efforts, respectfully
conducted her to the sanctuary of the Vatican, and gave six
pieces of gold to the guards of the church, on condition that
they should restore her inviolate to the arms of her husband.
Such instances of courage and generosity were not extremely
common. The brutal soldiers satisfied their sensual appetites,
without consulting either the inclination or the duties of their
female captives: and a nice question of casuistry was seriously
agitated, Whether those tender victims, who had inflexibly
refused their consent to the violation which they sustained, had
lost, by their misfortune, the glorious crown of virginity. ^103
Their were other losses indeed of a more substantial kind, and
more general concern. It cannot be presumed, that all the
Barbarians were at all times capable of perpetrating such amorous
outrages; and the want of youth, or beauty, or chastity,
protected the greatest part of the Roman women from the danger of
a rape. But avarice is an insatiate and universal passion; since
the enjoyment of almost every object that can afford pleasure to
the different tastes and tempers of mankind may be procured by
the possession of wealth. In the pillage of Rome, a just
preference was given to gold and jewels, which contain the
greatest value in the smallest compass and weight: but, after
these portable riches had been removed by the more diligent
robbers, the palaces of Rome were rudely stripped of their
splendid and costly furniture. The sideboards of massy plate, and
the variegated wardrobes of silk and purple, were irregularly
piled in the wagons, that always followed the march of a Gothic
army. The most exquisite works of art were roughly handled, or
wantonly destroyed; many a statue was melted for the sake of the
precious materials; and many a vase, in the division of the
spoil, was shivered into fragments by the stroke of a battle-axe.

The acquisition of riches served only to stimulate the avarice of
the rapacious Barbarians, who proceeded, by threats, by blows,
and by tortures, to force from their prisoners the confession of
hidden treasure. ^104 Visible splendor and expense were alleged
as the proof of a plentiful fortune; the appearance of poverty
was imputed to a parsimonious disposition; and the obstinacy of
some misers, who endured the most cruel torments before they
would discover the secret object of their affection, was fatal to
many unhappy wretches, who expired under the lash, for refusing
to reveal their imaginary treasures. The edifices of Rome,
though the damage has been much exaggerated, received some injury
from the violence of the Goths. At their entrance through the
Salarian gate, they fired the adjacent houses to guide their
march, and to distract the attention of the citizens; the flames,
which encountered no obstacle in the disorder of the night,
consumed many private and public buildings; and the ruins of the
palace of Sallust ^105 remained, in the age of Justinian, a
stately monument of the Gothic conflagration. ^106 Yet a
contemporary historian has observed, that fire could scarcely
consume the enormous beams of solid brass, and that the strength
of man was insufficient to subvert the foundations of ancient
structures. Some truth may possibly be concealed in his devout
assertion, that the wrath of Heaven supplied the imperfections of
hostile rage; and that the proud Forum of Rome, decorated with
the statues of so many gods and heroes, was levelled in the dust
by the stroke of lightning. ^107
[Footnote 101: Jerom (tom. i. p. 121, ad Principiam) has applied
to the sack of Rome all the strong expressions of Virgil: -
Quis cladem illius noctis, quis funera fando,
Explicet, &c.

Procopius (l. i. c. 2) positively affirms that great numbers were
slain by the Goths. Augustin (de Civ. Dei, l. i. c. 12, 13)
offers Christian comfort for the death of those whose bodies
(multa corpora) had remained (in tanta strage) unburied.
Baronius, from the different writings of the Fathers, has thrown
some light on the sack of Rome. Annal. Eccles. A.D. 410, No. 16
- 34.]
[Footnote 102: Sozomen. l. ix. c. 10. Augustin (de Civitat. Dei,
l. i. c. 17) intimates, that some virgins or matrons actually
killed themselves to escape violation; and though he admires
their spirit, he is obliged, by his theology, to condemn their
rash presumption. Perhaps the good bishop of Hippo was too easy
in the belief, as well as too rigid in the censure, of this act
of female heroism. The twenty maidens (if they ever existed) who
threw themselves into the Elbe, when Magdeburgh was taken by
storm, have been multiplied to the number of twelve hundred. See
Harte's History of Gustavus Adolphus, vol. i. p. 308.]

[Footnote 103: See Augustin de Civitat. Dei, l. i. c. 16, 18. He
treats the subject with remarkable accuracy: and after admitting
that there cannot be any crime where there is no consent, he
adds, Sed quia non solum quod ad dolorem, verum etiam quod ad
libidinem, pertinet, in corpore alieno pepetrari potest; quicquid
tale factum fuerit, etsi retentam constantissimo animo pudicitiam
non excutit, pudorem tamen incutit, ne credatur factum cum mentis
etiam voluntate, quod fieri fortasse sine carnis aliqua voluptate
non potuit. In c. 18 he makes some curious distinctions between
moral and physical virginity.]
[Footnote 104: Marcella, a Roman lady, equally respectable for
her rank, her age, and her piety, was thrown on the ground, and
cruelly beaten and whipped, caesam fustibus flagellisque, &c.
Jerom, tom. i. p. 121, ad Principiam. See Augustin, de Civ. Dei,
l. c. 10. The modern Sacco di Roma, p. 208, gives an idea of the
various methods of torturing prisoners for gold.]
[Footnote 105: The historian Sallust, who usefully practiced the
vices which he has so eloquently censured, employed the plunder
of Numidia to adorn his palace and gardens on the Quirinal hill.
The spot where the house stood is now marked by the church of St.
Susanna, separated only by a street from the baths of Diocletian,
and not far distant from the Salarian gate. See Nardini, Roma
Antica, p. 192, 193, and the great I'lan of Modern Rome, by
[Footnote 106: The expressions of Procopius are distinct and
moderate, (de Bell. Vandal. l. i. c. 2.) The Chronicle of
Marcellinus speaks too strongly partem urbis Romae cremavit; and
the words of Philostorgius (l. xii. c. 3) convey a false and
exaggerated idea. Bargaeus has composed a particular
dissertation (see tom. iv. Antiquit. Rom. Graev.) to prove that
the edifices of Rome were not subverted by the Goths and

[Footnote 107: Orosius, l. ii. c. 19, p. 143. He speaks as if he
disapproved all statues; vel Deum vel hominem mentiuntur. They
consisted of the kings of Alba and Rome from Aeneas, the Romans,
illustrious either in arms or arts, and the deified Caesars. The
expression which he uses of Forum is somewhat ambiguous, since
there existed five principal Fora; but as they were all
contiguous and adjacent, in the plain which is surrounded by the
Capitoline, the Quirinal, the Esquiline, and the Palatine hills,
they might fairly be considered as one. See the Roma Antiqua of
Donatus, p. 162 - 201, and the Roma Antica of Nardini, p. 212 -
273. The former is more useful for the ancient descriptions, the
latter for the actual topography.]

Chapter XXXI: Invasion Of Italy, Occupation Of Territories By

Part IV.

Whatever might be the numbers of equestrian or plebeian
rank, who perished in the massacre of Rome, it is confidently
affirmed that only one senator lost his life by the sword of the
enemy. ^108 But it was not easy to compute the multitudes, who,
from an honorable station and a prosperous fortune, were suddenly
reduced to the miserable condition of captives and exiles. As
the Barbarians had more occasion for money than for slaves, they
fixed at a moderate price the redemption of their indigent
prisoners; and the ransom was often paid by the benevolence of
their friends, or the charity of strangers. ^109 The captives,
who were regularly sold, either in open market, or by private
contract, would have legally regained their native freedom, which
it was impossible for a citizen to lose, or to alienate. ^110 But
as it was soon discovered that the vindication of their liberty
would endanger their lives; and that the Goths, unless they were
tempted to sell, might be provoked to murder, their useless
prisoners; the civil jurisprudence had been already qualified by
a wise regulation, that they should be obliged to serve the
moderate term of five years, till they had discharged by their
labor the price of their redemption. ^111 The nations who invaded
the Roman empire, had driven before them, into Italy, whole
troops of hungry and affrighted provincials, less apprehensive of
servitude than of famine. The calamities of Rome and Italy
dispersed the inhabitants to the most lonely, the most secure,
the most distant places of refuge. While the Gothic cavalry
spread terror and desolation along the sea-coast of Campania and
Tuscany, the little island of Igilium, separated by a narrow
channel from the Argentarian promontory, repulsed, or eluded,
their hostile attempts; and at so small a distance from Rome,
great numbers of citizens were securely concealed in the thick
woods of that sequestered spot. ^112 The ample patrimonies, which
many senatorian families possessed in Africa, invited them, if
they had time, and prudence, to escape from the ruin of their
country, to embrace the shelter of that hospitable province. The
most illustrious of these fugitives was the noble and pious
Proba, ^113 the widow of the praefect Petronius. After the death
of her husband, the most powerful subject of Rome, she had
remained at the head of the Anician family, and successively
supplied, from her private fortune, the expense of the
consulships of her three sons. When the city was besieged and
taken by the Goths, Proba supported, with Christian resignation,
the loss of immense riches; embarked in a small vessel, from
whence she beheld, at sea, the flames of her burning palace, and
fled with her daughter Laeta, and her granddaughter, the
celebrated virgin, Demetrias, to the coast of Africa. The
benevolent profusion with which the matron distributed the
fruits, or the price, of her estates, contributed to alleviate
the misfortunes of exile and captivity. But even the family of
Proba herself was not exempt from the rapacious oppression of
Count Heraclian, who basely sold, in matrimonial prostitution,
the noblest maidens of Rome to the lust or avarice of the Syrian
merchants. The Italian fugitives were dispersed through the
provinces, along the coast of Egypt and Asia, as far as
Constantinople and Jerusalem; and the village of Bethlem, the
solitary residence of St. Jerom and his female converts, was

Book of the day: