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

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It was the opinion of Marcian, that war should be avoided,
as long as it is possible to preserve a secure and honorable
peace; but it was likewise his opinion, that peace cannot be
honorable or secure, if the sovereign betrays a pusillanimous
aversion to war. This temperate courage dictated his reply to
the demands of Attila, who insolently pressed the payment of the
annual tribute. The emperor signified to the Barbarians, that
they must no longer insult the majesty of Rome by the mention of
a tribute; that he was disposed to reward, with becoming
liberality, the faithful friendship of his allies; but that, if
they presumed to violate the public peace, they should feel that
he possessed troops, and arms, and resolution, to repel their
attacks. The same language, even in the camp of the Huns, was
used by his ambassador Apollonius, whose bold refusal to deliver
the presents, till he had been admitted to a personal interview,
displayed a sense of dignity, and a contempt of danger, which
Attila was not prepared to expect from the degenerate Romans. ^1
He threatened to chastise the rash successor of Theodosius; but
he hesitated whether he should first direct his invincible arms
against the Eastern or the Western empire. While mankind awaited
his decision with awful suspense, he sent an equal defiance to
the courts of Ravenna and Constantinople; and his ministers
saluted the two emperors with the same haughty declaration.
"Attila, my lord, and thy lord, commands thee to provide a palace
for his immediate reception." ^2 But as the Barbarian despised,
or affected to despise, the Romans of the East, whom he had so
often vanquished, he soon declared his resolution of suspending
the easy conquest, till he had achieved a more glorious and
important enterprise. In the memorable invasions of Gaul and
Italy, the Huns were naturally attracted by the wealth and
fertility of those provinces; but the particular motives and
provocations of Attila can only be explained by the state of the
Western empire under the reign of Valentinian, or, to speak more
correctly, under the administration of Aetius. ^3

[Footnote 1: See Priscus, p. 39, 72.]

[Footnote 2: The Alexandrian or Paschal Chronicle, which
introduces this haughty message, during the lifetime of
Theodosius, may have anticipated the date; but the dull annalist
was incapable of inventing the original and genuine style of

[Footnote 3: The second book of the Histoire Critique de
l'Etablissement de la Monarchie Francoise tom. i. p. 189 - 424,
throws great light on the state of Gaul, when it was invaded by
Attila; but the ingenious author, the Abbe Dubos, too often
bewilders himself in system and conjecture.]

After the death of his rival Boniface, Aetius had prudently
retired to the tents of the Huns; and he was indebted to their
alliance for his safety and his restoration. Instead of the
suppliant language of a guilty exile, he solicited his pardon at
the head of sixty thousand Barbarians; and the empress Placidia
confessed, by a feeble resistance, that the condescension, which
might have been ascribed to clemency, was the effect of weakness
or fear. She delivered herself, her son Valentinian, and the
Western empire, into the hands of an insolent subject; nor could
Placidia protect the son- in-law of Boniface, the virtuous and
faithful Sebastian, ^4 from the implacable persecution which
urged him from one kingdom to another, till he miserably perished
in the service of the Vandals. The fortunate Aetius, who was
immediately promoted to the rank of patrician, and thrice
invested with the honors of the consulship, assumed, with the
title of master of the cavalry and infantry, the whole military
power of the state; and he is sometimes styled, by contemporary
writers, the duke, or general, of the Romans of the West. His
prudence, rather than his virtue, engaged him to leave the
grandson of Theodosius in the possession of the purple; and
Valentinian was permitted to enjoy the peace and luxury of Italy,
while the patrician appeared in the glorious light of a hero and
a patriot, who supported near twenty years the ruins of the
Western empire. The Gothic historian ingenuously confesses, that
Aetius was born for the salvation of the Roman republic; ^5 and
the following portrait, though it is drawn in the fairest colors,
must be allowed to contain a much larger proportion of truth than
of flattery. ^* "His mother was a wealthy and noble Italian, and
his father Gaudentius, who held a distinguished rank in the
province of Scythia, gradually rose from the station of a
military domestic, to the dignity of master of the cavalry.
Their son, who was enrolled almost in his infancy in the guards,
was given as a hostage, first to Alaric, and afterwards to the
Huns; ^! and he successively obtained the civil and military
honors of the palace, for which he was equally qualified by
superior merit. The graceful figure of Aetius was not above the
middle stature; but his manly limbs were admirably formed for
strength, beauty, and agility; and he excelled in the martial
exercises of managing a horse, drawing the bow, and darting the
javelin. He could patiently endure the want of food, or of
sleep; and his mind and body were alike capable of the most
laborious efforts. He possessed the genuine courage that can
despise not only dangers, but injuries: and it was impossible
either to corrupt, or deceive, or intimidate the firm integrity
of his soul." ^6 The Barbarians, who had seated themselves in the
Western provinces, were insensibly taught to respect the faith
and valor of the patrician Aetius. He soothed their passions,
consulted their prejudices, balanced their interests, and checked
their ambition. ^* A seasonable treaty, which he concluded with
Genseric, protected Italy from the depredations of the Vandals;
the independent Britons implored and acknowledged his salutary
aid; the Imperial authority was restored and maintained in Gaul
and Spain; and he compelled the Franks and the Suevi, whom he had
vanquished in the field, to become the useful confederates of the
[Footnote 4: Victor Vitensis (de Persecut. Vandal. l. i. 6, p. 8,
edit. Ruinart) calls him, acer consilio et strenuus in bello: but
his courage, when he became unfortunate, was censured as
desperate rashness; and Sebastian deserved, or obtained, the
epithet of proeceps, (Sidon. Apollinar Carmen ix. 181.) His
adventures in Constantinople, in Sicily, Gaul, Spain, and Africa,
are faintly marked in the Chronicles of Marcellinus and Idatius.
In his distress he was always followed by a numerous train; since
he could ravage the Hellespont and Propontis, and seize the city
of Barcelona.]
[Footnote 5: Reipublicae Romanae singulariter natus, qui
superbiam Suevorum, Francorumque barbariem immensis caedibus
servire Imperio Romano coegisset. Jornandes de Rebus Geticis, c.
34, p. 660.]

[Footnote *: Some valuable fragments of a poetical panegyric on
Aetius by Merobaudes, a Spaniard, have been recovered from a
palimpsest MS. by the sagacity and industry of Niebuhr. They
have been reprinted in the new edition of the Byzantine
Historians. The poet speaks in glowing terms of the long
(annosa) peace enjoyed under the administration of Aetius. The
verses are very spirited. The poet was rewarded by a statue
publicly dedicated to his honor in Rome.

Danuvii cum pace redit, Tanaimque furore
Exuit, et nigro candentes aethere terras
Marte suo caruisse jubet. Dedit otia ferro
Caucasus, et saevi condemnant praelia reges.
Addidit hiberni famulantia foedera Rhenus
Orbis ......
Lustrat Aremoricos jam mitior incola saltus;
Perdidit et mores tellus, adsuetaque saevo
Crimine quaesitas silvis celare rapinas,
Discit inexpertis Cererem committere campis;
Caesareoque diu manus obluctata labori
Sustinet acceptas nostro sub consule leges;
Et quamvis Geticis sulcum confundat aratris,
Barbara vicinae refugit consortia gentis.

Merobaudes, p. 1]

[Footnote !: - cum Scythicis succumberet ensibus orbis,

Telaque Tarpeias premerent Arctoa secures,
Hostilem fregit rabiem, pignus quesuperbi
Foederis et mundi pretium fuit. Hinc modo voti
Rata fides, validis quod dux premat impiger armis
Edomuit quos pace puer; bellumque repressit
Ignarus quid bella forent. Stupuere feroces
In tenero jam membra Getae. Rex ipse, verendum
Miratus pueri decus et prodentia fatum
Lumina, primaevas dederat gestare faretras,
Laudabatque manus librantem et tela gerentem
Oblitus quod noster erat Pro nescia regis
Corda, feris quanto populis discrimine constet
Quod Latium docet arma ducem.

Merobaudes, Panegyr. p. 15. - M.]

[Footnote 6: This portrait is drawn by Renetus Profuturus
Frigeridus, a contemporary historian, known only by some
extracts, which are preserved by Gregory of Tours, (l. ii. c. 8,
in tom. ii. p. 163.) It was probably the duty, or at least the
interest, of Renatus, to magnify the virtues of Aetius; but he
would have shown more dexterity if he had not insisted on his
patient, forgiving disposition.]

[Footnote *: Insessor Libyes, quamvis, fatalibus armis
Ausus Elisaei solium rescindere regni,
Milibus Arctois Tyrias compleverat arces,
Nunc hostem exutus pactis proprioribus arsit

Romanam vincire fidem, Latiosque parentes
Adnumerare sib, sociamque intexere prolem.

Merobaudes, p. 12. - M.]

From a principle of interest, as well as gratitude, Aetius
assiduously cultivated the alliance of the Huns. While he
resided in their tents as a hostage, or an exile, he had
familiarly conversed with Attila himself, the nephew of his
benefactor; and the two famous antagonists appeared to have been
connected by a personal and military friendship, which they
afterwards confirmed by mutual gifts, frequent embassies, and the
education of Carpilio, the son of Aetius, in the camp of Attila.
By the specious professions of gratitude and voluntary
attachment, the patrician might disguise his apprehensions of the
Scythian conqueror, who pressed the two empires with his
innumerable armies. His demands were obeyed or eluded. When he
claimed the spoils of a vanquished city, some vases of gold,
which had been fraudulently embezzled, the civil and military
governors of Noricum were immediately despatched to satisfy his
complaints: ^7 and it is evident, from their conversation with
Maximin and Priscus, in the royal village, that the valor and
prudence of Aetius had not saved the Western Romans from the
common ignominy of tribute. Yet his dexterous policy prolonged
the advantages of a salutary peace; and a numerous army of Huns
and Alani, whom he had attached to his person, was employed in
the defence of Gaul. Two colonies of these Barbarians were
judiciously fixed in the territories of Valens and Orleans; ^8
and their active cavalry secured the important passages of the
Rhone and of the Loire. These savage allies were not indeed less
formidable to the subjects than to the enemies of Rome. Their
original settlement was enforced with the licentious violence of
conquest; and the province through which they marched was exposed
to all the calamities of a hostile invasion. ^9 Strangers to the
emperor or the republic, the Alani of Gaul was devoted to the
ambition of Aetius, and though he might suspect, that, in a
contest with Attila himself, they would revolt to the standard of
their national king, the patrician labored to restrain, rather
than to excite, their zeal and resentment against the Goths, the
Burgundians, and the Franks.
[Footnote 7: The embassy consisted of Count Romulus; of Promotus,
president of Noricum; and of Romanus, the military duke. They
were accompanied by Tatullus, an illustrious citizen of Petovio,
in the same province, and father of Orestes, who had married the
daughter of Count Romulus. See Priscus, p. 57, 65. Cassiodorus
(Variar. i. 4) mentions another embassy, which was executed by
his father and Carpilio, the son of Aetius; and, as Attila was no
more, he could safely boast of their manly, intrepid behavior in
his presence.]

[Footnote 8: Deserta Valentinae urbis rura Alanis partienda
traduntur. Prosper. Tyronis Chron. in Historiens de France, tom.
i. p. 639. A few lines afterwards, Prosper observes, that lands
in the ulterior Gaul were assigned to the Alani. Without
admitting the correction of Dubos, (tom. i. p. 300,) the
reasonable supposition of two colonies or garrisons of Alani will
confirm his arguments, and remove his objections.]

[Footnote 9: See Prosper. Tyro, p. 639. Sidonius (Panegyr. Avit.
246) complains, in the name of Auvergne, his native country, -
Litorius Scythicos equites tunc forte subacto
Celsus Aremorico, Geticum rapiebat in agmen
Per terras, Averne, tuas, qui proxima quaedue
Discursu, flammis, ferro, feritate, rapinis,
Delebant; pacis fallentes nomen inane.

another poet, Paulinus of Perigord, confirms the complaint: -

Nam socium vix ferre queas, qui durior hoste.

See Dubos, tom. i. p. 330.]

The kingdom established by the Visigoths in the southern
provinces of Gaul, had gradually acquired strength and maturity;
and the conduct of those ambitious Barbarians, either in peace or
war, engaged the perpetual vigilance of Aetius. After the death
of Wallia, the Gothic sceptre devolved to Theodoric, the son of
the great Alaric; ^10 and his prosperous reign of more than
thirty years, over a turbulent people, may be allowed to prove,
that his prudence was supported by uncommon vigor, both of mind
and body. Impatient of his narrow limits, Theodoric aspired to
the possession of Arles, the wealthy seat of government and
commerce; but the city was saved by the timely approach of
Aetius; and the Gothic king, who had raised the siege with some
loss and disgrace, was persuaded, for an adequate subsidy, to
divert the martial valor of his subjects in a Spanish war. Yet
Theodoric still watched, and eagerly seized, the favorable moment
of renewing his hostile attempts. The Goths besieged Narbonne,
while the Belgic provinces were invaded by the Burgundians; and
the public safety was threatened on every side by the apparent
union of the enemies of Rome. On every side, the activity of
Aetius, and his Scythian cavalry, opposed a firm and successful
resistance. Twenty thousand Burgundians were slain in battle;
and the remains of the nation humbly accepted a dependent seat in
the mountains of Savoy. ^11 The walls of Narbonne had been shaken
by the battering engines, and the inhabitants had endured the
last extremities of famine, when Count Litorius, approaching in
silence, and directing each horseman to carry behind him two
sacks of flour, cut his way through the intrenchments of the
besiegers. The siege was immediately raised; and the more
decisive victory, which is ascribed to the personal conduct of
Aetius himself, was marked with the blood of eight thousand
Goths. But in the absence of the patrician, who was hastily
summoned to Italy by some public or private interest, Count
Litorius succeeded to the command; and his presumption soon
discovered that far different talents are required to lead a wing
of cavalry, or to direct the operations of an important war. At
the head of an army of Huns, he rashly advanced to the gates of
Thoulouse, full of careless contempt for an enemy whom his
misfortunes had rendered prudent, and his situation made
desperate. The predictions of the augurs had inspired Litorius
with the profane confidence that he should enter the Gothic
capital in triumph; and the trust which he reposed in his Pagan
allies, encouraged him to reject the fair conditions of peace,
which were repeatedly proposed by the bishops in the name of
Theodoric. The king of the Goths exhibited in his distress the
edifying contrast of Christian piety and moderation; nor did he
lay aside his sackcloth and ashes till he was prepared to arm for
the combat. His soldiers, animated with martial and religious
enthusiasm, assaulted the camp of Litorius. The conflict was
obstinate; the slaughter was mutual. The Roman general, after a
total defeat, which could be imputed only to his unskilful
rashness, was actually led through the streets of Thoulouse, not
in his own, but in a hostile triumph; and the misery which he
experienced, in a long and ignominious captivity, excited the
compassion of the Barbarians themselves. ^12 Such a loss, in a
country whose spirit and finances were long since exhausted,
could not easily be repaired; and the Goths, assuming, in their
turn, the sentiments of ambition and revenge, would have planted
their victorious standards on the banks of the Rhone, if the
presence of Aetius had not restored strength and discipline to
the Romans. ^13 The two armies expected the signal of a decisive
action; but the generals, who were conscious of each other's
force, and doubtful of their own superiority, prudently sheathed
their swords in the field of battle; and their reconciliation was
permanent and sincere. Theodoric, king of the Visigoths, appears
to have deserved the love of his subjects, the confidence of his
allies, and the esteem of mankind. His throne was surrounded by
six valiant sons, who were educated with equal care in the
exercises of the Barbarian camp, and in those of the Gallic
schools: from the study of the Roman jurisprudence, they acquired
the theory, at least, of law and justice; and the harmonious
sense of Virgil contributed to soften the asperity of their
native manners. ^14 The two daughters of the Gothic king were
given in marriage to the eldest sons of the kings of the Suevi
and of the Vandals, who reigned in Spain and Africa: but these
illustrious alliances were pregnant with guilt and discord. The
queen of the Suevi bewailed the death of a husband inhumanly
massacred by her brother. The princess of the Vandals was the
victim of a jealous tyrant, whom she called her father. The
cruel Genseric suspected that his son's wife had conspired to
poison him; the supposed crime was punished by the amputation of
her nose and ears; and the unhappy daughter of Theodoric was
ignominiously returned to the court of Thoulouse in that deformed
and mutilated condition. This horrid act, which must seem
incredible to a civilized age drew tears from every spectator;
but Theodoric was urged, by the feelings of a parent and a king,
to revenge such irreparable injuries. The Imperial ministers,
who always cherished the discord of the Barbarians, would have
supplied the Goths with arms, and ships, and treasures, for the
African war; and the cruelty of Genseric might have been fatal to
himself, if the artful Vandal had not armed, in his cause, the
formidable power of the Huns. His rich gifts and pressing
solicitations inflamed the ambition of Attila; and the designs of
Aetius and Theodoric were prevented by the invasion of Gaul. ^15
[Footnote 10: Theodoric II., the son of Theodoric I., declares to
Avitus his resolution of repairing, or expiating, the faults
which his grandfather had committed, -

Quae noster peccavit avus, quem fuscat id unum,
Quod te, Roma, capit.

Sidon. Panegyric. Avit. 505.

This character, applicable only to the great Alaric,
establishes the genealogy of the Gothic kings, which has hitherto
been unnoticed.]
[Footnote 11: The name of Sapaudia, the origin of Savoy, is first
mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus; and two military posts are
ascertained by the Notitia, within the limits of that province; a
cohort was stationed at Grenoble in Dauphine; and Ebredunum, or
Iverdun, sheltered a fleet of small vessels, which commanded the
Lake of Neufchatel. See Valesius, Notit. Galliarum, p. 503.
D'Anville, Notice de l'Ancienne Gaule, p. 284, 579.]

[Footnote 12: Salvian has attempted to explain the moral
government of the Deity; a task which may be readily performed by
supposing that the calamities of the wicked are judgments, and
those of the righteous, trials.]
[Footnote 13: - Capto terrarum damna patebant
Litorio, in Rhodanum proprios producere
fines, Thendoridae fixum; nec erat pugnare
necesse, Sed migrare Getis; rabidam trux
asperat iram Victor; quod sensit Scythicum
sub moenibus hostem Imputat, et nihil est
gravius, si forsitan unquam Vincere
contingat, trepido. Panegyr. Avit. 300, &c.
Sitionius then proceeds, according to the duty of a panegyrist,
to transfer the whole merit from Aetius to his minister Avitus.]
[Footnote 14: Theodoric II. revered, in the person of Avitus, the
character of his preceptor.

- Mihi Romula dudum
Per te jura placent; parvumque ediscere jussit
Ad tua verba pater, docili quo prisca Maronis
Carmine molliret Scythicos mihi pagina mores.

Sidon. Panegyr. Avit. 495 &c.]

[Footnote 15: Our authorities for the reign of Theodoric I. are,
Jornandes de Rebus Geticis, c. 34, 36, and the Chronicles of
Idatius, and the two Prospers, inserted in the historians of
France, tom. i. p. 612 - 640. To these we may add Salvian de
Gubernatione Dei, l. vii. p. 243, 244, 245, and the panegyric of
Avitus, by Sidonius.]

The Franks, whose monarchy was still confined to the
neighborhood of the Lower Rhine, had wisely established the right
of hereditary succession in the noble family of the Merovingians.
^16 These princes were elevated on a buckler, the symbol of
military command; ^17 and the royal fashion of long hair was the
ensign of their birth and dignity. Their flaxen locks, which
they combed and dressed with singular care, hung down in flowing
ringlets on their back and shoulders; while the rest of the
nation were obliged, either by law or custom, to shave the hinder
part of their head, to comb their hair over the forehead, and to
content themselves with the ornament of two small whiskers. ^18
The lofty stature of the Franks, and their blue eyes, denoted a
Germanic origin; their close apparel accurately expressed the
figure of their limbs; a weighty sword was suspended from a broad
belt; their bodies were protected by a large shield; and these
warlike Barbarians were trained, from their earliest youth, to
run, to leap, to swim; to dart the javelin, or battle-axe, with
unerring aim; to advance, without hesitation, against a superior
enemy; and to maintain, either in life or death, the invincible
reputation of their ancestors. ^19 Clodion, the first of their
long-haired kings, whose name and actions are mentioned in
authentic history, held his residence at Dispargum, ^20 a village
or fortress, whose place may be assigned between Louvain and
Brussels. From the report of his spies, the king of the Franks
was informed, that the defenceless state of the second Belgic
must yield, on the slightest attack, to the valor of his
subjects. He boldly penetrated through the thickets and morasses
of the Carbonarian forest; ^21 occupied Tournay and Cambray, the
only cities which existed in the fifth century, and extended his
conquests as far as the River Somme, over a desolate country,
whose cultivation and populousness are the effects of more recent
industry. ^22 While Clodion lay encamped in the plains of Artois,
^23 and celebrated, with vain and ostentatious security, the
marriage, perhaps, of his son, the nuptial feast was interrupted
by the unexpected and unwelcome presence of Aetius, who had
passed the Somme at the head of his light cavalry. The tables,
which had been spread under the shelter of a hill, along the
banks of a pleasant stream, were rudely overturned; the Franks
were oppressed before they could recover their arms, or their
ranks; and their unavailing valor was fatal only to themselves.
The loaded wagons, which had followed their march, afforded a
rich booty; and the virgin- bride, with her female attendants,
submitted to the new lovers, who were imposed on them by the
chance of war. This advance, which had been obtained by the skill
and activity of Aetius, might reflect some disgrace on the
military prudence of Clodion; but the king of the Franks soon
regained his strength and reputation, and still maintained the
possession of his Gallic kingdom from the Rhine to the Somme. ^24
Under his reign, and most probably from the thee enterprising
spirit of his subjects, his three capitals, Mentz, Treves, and
Cologne, experienced the effects of hostile cruelty and avarice.
The distress of Cologne was prolonged by the perpetual dominion
of the same Barbarians, who evacuated the ruins of Treves; and
Treves, which in the space of forty years had been four times
besieged and pillaged, was disposed to lose the memory of her
afflictions in the vain amusements of the Circus. ^25 The death
of Clodion, after a reign of twenty years, exposed his kingdom to
the discord and ambition of his two sons. Meroveus, the younger,
^26 was persuaded to implore the protection of Rome; he was
received at the Imperial court, as the ally of Valentinian, and
the adopted son of the patrician Aetius; and dismissed to his
native country, with splendid gifts, and the strongest assurances
of friendship and support. During his absence, his elder brother
had solicited, with equal ardor, the formidable aid of Attila;
and the king of the Huns embraced an alliance, which facilitated
the passage of the Rhine, and justified, by a specious and
honorable pretence, the invasion of Gaul. ^27

[Footnote 16: Reges Crinitos se creavisse de prima, et ut ita
dicam nobiliori suorum familia, (Greg. Turon. l. ii. c. 9, p.
166, of the second volume of the Historians of France.) Gregory
himself does not mention the Merovingian name, which may be
traced, however, to the beginning of the seventh century, as the
distinctive appellation of the royal family, and even of the
French monarchy. An ingenious critic has deduced the Merovingians
from the great Maroboduus; and he has clearly proved, that the
prince, who gave his name to the first race, was more ancient
than the father of Childeric. See Memoires de l'Academie des
Inscriptions, tom. xx. p. 52 - 90, tom. xxx. p. 557 - 587.]
[Footnote 17: This German custom, which may be traced from
Tacitus to Gregory of Tours, was at length adopted by the
emperors of Constantinople. From a MS. of the tenth century,
Montfaucon has delineated the representation of a similar
ceremony, which the ignorance of the age had applied to King
David. See Monumens de la Monarchie Francoise, tom. i. Discours
[Footnote 18: Caesaries prolixa ... crinium flagellis per terga
dimissis, &c. See the Preface to the third volume of the
Historians of France, and the Abbe Le Boeuf, (Dissertat. tom.
iii. p. 47 - 79.) This peculiar fashion of the Merovingians has
been remarked by natives and strangers; by Priscus, (tom. i. p.
608,) by Agathias, (tom. ii. p. 49,) and by Gregory of Tours, (l.
viii. 18, vi. 24, viii. 10, tom. ii. p. 196, 278, 316.)]

[Footnote 19: See an original picture of the figure, dress, arms,
and temper of the ancient Franks, in Sidonius Apollinaris,
(Panegyr. Majorian. 238 - 254;) and such pictures, though
coarsely drawn, have a real and intrinsic value. Father Daniel
(History de la Milice Francoise, tom. i. p. 2 - 7) has
illustrated the description.]

[Footnote 20: Dubos, Hist. Critique, &c., tom. i. p. 271, 272.
Some geographers have placed Dispargum on the German side of the
Rhine. See a note of the Benedictine Editors, to the Historians
of France, tom. ii p. 166.]
[Footnote 21: The Carbonarian wood was that part of the great
forest of the Ardennes which lay between the Escaut, or Scheldt,
and the Meuse. Vales. Notit. Gall. p. 126.]

[Footnote 22: Gregor. Turon. l. ii. c. 9, in tom. ii. p. 166,
167. Fredegar. Epitom. c. 9, p. 395. Gesta Reg. Francor. c. 5,
in tom. ii. p. 544. Vit St. Remig. ab Hincmar, in tom. iii. p.

[Footnote 23: - Francus qua Cloio patentes
Atrebatum terras pervaserat.

Panegyr. Majorian 213

The precise spot was a town or village, called Vicus Helena; and
both the name and place are discovered by modern geographers at
Lens See Vales. Notit. Gall. p. 246. Longuerue, Description de
la France tom. ii. p. 88.]
[Footnote 24: See a vague account of the action in Sidonius.
Panegyr. Majorian 212 - 230. The French critics, impatient to
establish their monarchy in Gaul, have drawn a strong argument
from the silence of Sidonius, who dares not insinuate, that the
vanquished Franks were compelled to repass the Rhine. Dubos, tom.
i. p. 322.]

[Footnote 25: Salvian (de Gubernat. Dei, l. vi.) has expressed,
in vague and declamatory language, the misfortunes of these three
cities, which are distinctly ascertained by the learned Mascou,
Hist. of the Ancient Germans, ix. 21.]

[Footnote 26: Priscus, in relating the contest, does not name the
two brothers; the second of whom he had seen at Rome, a beardless
youth, with long, flowing hair, (Historians of France, tom. i. p.
607, 608.) The Benedictine Editors are inclined to believe, that
they were the sons of some unknown king of the Franks, who
reigned on the banks of the Neckar; but the arguments of M. de
Foncemagne (Mem. de l'Academie, tom. viii. p. 464) seem to prove
that the succession of Clodion was disputed by his two sons, and
that the younger was Meroveus, the father of Childeric.

Note: The relationship of Meroveus to Clodion is extremely
doubtful. - By some he is called an illegitimate son; by others
merely of his race. Tur ii. c. 9, in Sismondi, Hist. des
Francais, i. 177. See Mezeray.]
[Footnote 27: Under the Merovingian race, the throne was
hereditary; but all the sons of the deceased monarch were equally
entitled to their share of his treasures and territories. See
the Dissertations of M. de Foncemagne, in the sixth and eighth
volumes of the Memoires de l'Academie.]

Chapter XXXV: Invasion By Attila.

Part II.

When Attila declared his resolution of supporting the cause
of his allies, the Vandals and the Franks, at the same time, and
almost in the spirit of romantic chivalry, the savage monarch
professed himself the lover and the champion of the princess
Honoria. The sister of Valentinian was educated in the palace of
Ravenna; and as her marriage might be productive of some danger
to the state, she was raised, by the title of Augusta, ^28 above
the hopes of the most presumptuous subject. But the fair Honoria
had no sooner attained the sixteenth year of her age, than she
detested the importunate greatness which must forever exclude her
from the comforts of honorable love; in the midst of vain and
unsatisfactory pomp, Honoria sighed, yielded to the impulse of
nature, and threw herself into the arms of her chamberlain
Eugenius. Her guilt and shame (such is the absurd language of
imperious man) were soon betrayed by the appearances of
pregnancy; but the disgrace of the royal family was published to
the world by the imprudence of the empress Placidia who dismissed
her daughter, after a strict and shameful confinement, to a
remote exile at Constantinople. The unhappy princess passed
twelve or fourteen years in the irksome society of the sisters of
Theodosius, and their chosen virgins; to whose crown Honoria
could no longer aspire, and whose monastic assiduity of prayer,
fasting, and vigils, she reluctantly imitated. Her impatience of
long and hopeless celibacy urged her to embrace a strange and
desperate resolution. The name of Attila was familiar and
formidable at Constantinople; and his frequent embassies
entertained a perpetual intercourse between his camp and the
Imperial palace. In the pursuit of love, or rather of revenge,
the daughter of Placidia sacrificed every duty and every
prejudice; and offered to deliver her person into the arms of a
Barbarian, of whose language she was ignorant, whose figure was
scarcely human, and whose religion and manners she abhorred. By
the ministry of a faithful eunuch, she transmitted to Attila a
ring, the pledge of her affection; and earnestly conjured him to
claim her as a lawful spouse, to whom he had been secretly
betrothed. These indecent advances were received, however, with
coldness and disdain; and the king of the Huns continued to
multiply the number of his wives, till his love was awakened by
the more forcible passions of ambition and avarice. The invasion
of Gaul was preceded, and justified, by a formal demand of the
princess Honoria, with a just and equal share of the Imperial
patrimony. His predecessors, the ancient Tanjous, had often
addressed, in the same hostile and peremptory manner, the
daughters of China; and the pretensions of Attila were not less
offensive to the majesty of Rome. A firm, but temperate, refusal
was communicated to his ambassadors. The right of female
succession, though it might derive a specious argument from the
recent examples of Placidia and Pulcheria, was strenuously
denied; and the indissoluble engagements of Honoria were opposed
to the claims of her Scythian lover. ^29 On the discovery of her
connection with the king of the Huns, the guilty princess had
been sent away, as an object of horror, from Constantinople to
Italy: her life was spared; but the ceremony of her marriage was
performed with some obscure and nominal husband, before she was
immured in a perpetual prison, to bewail those crimes and
misfortunes, which Honoria might have escaped, had she not been
born the daughter of an emperor. ^30
[Footnote 28: A medal is still extant, which exhibits the
pleasing countenance of Honoria, with the title of Augusta; and
on the reverse, the improper legend of Salus Reipublicoe round
the monogram of Christ. See Ducange, Famil. Byzantin. p. 67,

[Footnote 29: See Priscus, p, 39, 40. It might be fairly
alleged, that if females could succeed to the throne, Valentinian
himself, who had married the daughter and heiress of the younger
Theodosius, would have asserted her right to the Eastern empire.]

[Footnote 30: The adventures of Honoria are imperfectly related
by Jornandes, de Successione Regn. c. 97, and de Reb. Get. c. 42,
p. 674; and in the Chronicles of Prosper and Marcellinus; but
they cannot be made consistent, or probable, unless we separate,
by an interval of time and place, her intrigue with Eugenius, and
her invitation of Attila.]

A native of Gaul, and a contemporary, the learned and
eloquent Sidonius, who was afterwards bishop of Clermont, had
made a promise to one of his friends, that he would compose a
regular history of the war of Attila. If the modesty of Sidonius
had not discouraged him from the prosecution of this interesting
work, ^31 the historian would have related, with the simplicity
of truth, those memorable events, to which the poet, in vague and
doubtful metaphors, has concisely alluded. ^32 The kings and
nations of Germany and Scythia, from the Volga perhaps to the
Danube, obeyed the warlike summons of Attila. From the royal
village, in the plains of Hungary his standard moved towards the
West; and after a march of seven or eight hundred miles, he
reached the conflux of the Rhine and the Neckar, where he was
joined by the Franks, who adhered to his ally, the elder of the
sons of Clodion. A troop of light Barbarians, who roamed in
quest of plunder, might choose the winter for the convenience of
passing the river on the ice; but the innumerable cavalry of the
Huns required such plenty of forage and provisions, as could be
procured only in a milder season; the Hercynian forest supplied
materials for a bridge of boats; and the hostile myriads were
poured, with resistless violence, into the Belgic provinces. ^33
The consternation of Gaul was universal; and the various fortunes
of its cities have been adorned by tradition with martyrdoms and
miracles. ^34 Troyes was saved by the merits of St. Lupus; St.
Servatius was removed from the world, that he might not behold
the ruin of Tongres; and the prayers of St. Genevieve diverted
the march of Attila from the neighborhood of Paris. But as the
greatest part of the Gallic cities were alike destitute of saints
and soldiers, they were besieged and stormed by the Huns; who
practised, in the example of Metz, ^35 their customary maxims of
war. They involved, in a promiscuous massacre, the priests who
served at the altar, and the infants, who, in the hour of danger,
had been providently baptized by the bishop; the flourishing city
was delivered to the flames, and a solitary chapel of St. Stephen
marked the place where it formerly stood. From the Rhine and the
Moselle, Attila advanced into the heart of Gaul; crossed the
Seine at Auxerre; and, after a long and laborious march, fixed
his camp under the walls of Orleans. He was desirous of securing
his conquests by the possession of an advantageous post, which
commanded the passage of the Loire; and he depended on the secret
invitation of Sangiban, king of the Alani, who had promised to
betray the city, and to revolt from the service of the empire.
But this treacherous conspiracy was detected and disappointed:
Orleans had been strengthened with recent fortifications; and the
assaults of the Huns were vigorously repelled by the faithful
valor of the soldiers, or citizens, who defended the place. The
pastoral diligence of Anianus, a bishop of primitive sanctity and
consummate prudence, exhausted every art of religious policy to
support their courage, till the arrival of the expected succors.
After an obstinate siege, the walls were shaken by the battering
rams; the Huns had already occupied the suburbs; and the people,
who were incapable of bearing arms, lay prostrate in prayer.
Anianus, who anxiously counted the days and hours, despatched a
trusty messenger to observe, from the rampari, the face of the
distant country. He returned twice, without any intelligence
that could inspire hope or comfort; but, in his third report, he
mentioned a small cloud, which he had faintly descried at the
extremity of the horizon. "It is the aid of God!" exclaimed the
bishop, in a tone of pious confidence; and the whole multitude
repeated after him, "It is the aid of God." The remote object, on
which every eye was fixed, became each moment larger, and more
distinct; the Roman and Gothic banners were gradually perceived;
and a favorable wind blowing aside the dust, discovered, in deep
array, the impatient squadrons of Aetius and Theodoric, who
pressed forwards to the relief of Orleans.

[Footnote 31: Exegeras mihi, ut promitterem tibi, Attilae bellum
stylo me posteris intimaturum .... coeperam scribere, sed operis
arrepti fasce perspecto, taeduit inchoasse. Sidon. Apoll. l.
viii. epist. 15, p. 235]
[Footnote 32: - Subito cum rupta tumultu
Barbaries totas in te transfuderat Arctos,

Gallia. Pugnacem Rugum comitante Gelono,
Gepida trux sequitur; Scyrum Burgundio cogit:

Chunus, Bellonotus, Neurus, Basterna, Toringus,

Bructerus, ulvosa vel quem Nicer abluit unda

Prorumpit Francus. Cecidit cito secta bipenni
Hercynia in lintres, et Rhenum texuit alno. Et
jam terrificis diffuderat Attila turmis In campos
se, Belga, tuos.

Panegyr. Avit.]

[Footnote 33: The most authentic and circumstantial account of
this war is contained in Jornandes, (de Reb. Geticis, c. 36 - 41,
p. 662 - 672,) who has sometimes abridged, and sometimes
transcribed, the larger history of Cassiodorus. Jornandes, a
quotation which it would be superfluous to repeat, may be
corrected and illustrated by Gregory of Tours, l. ii. c. 5, 6, 7,
and the Chronicles of Idatius, Isidore, and the two Prospers.
All the ancient testimonies are collected and inserted in the
Historians of France; but the reader should be cautioned against
a supposed extract from the Chronicle of Idatius, (among the
fragments of Fredegarius, tom. ii. p. 462,) which often
contradicts the genuine text of the Gallician bishop.]

[Footnote 34: The ancient legendaries deserve some regard, as
they are obliged to connect their fables with the real history of
their own times. See the lives of St. Lupus, St. Anianus, the
bishops of Metz, Ste. Genevieve, &c., in the Historians of
France, tom. i. p. 644, 645, 649, tom. iii. p. 369.]
[Footnote 35: The scepticism of the count de Buat (Hist. des
Peuples, tom. vii. p. 539, 540) cannot be reconciled with any
principles of reason or criticism. Is not Gregory of Tours
precise and positive in his account of the destruction of Metz?
At the distance of no more than a hundred years, could he be
ignorant, could the people be ignorant of the fate of a city, the
actual residence of his sovereigns, the kings of Austrasia? The
learned count, who seems to have undertaken the apology of Attila
and the Barbarians, appeals to the false Idatius, parcens
Germaniae et Galliae, and forgets that the true Idatius had
explicitly affirmed, plurimae civitates effractoe, among which he
enumerates Metz.]

The facility with which Attila had penetrated into the heart
of Gaul, may be ascribed to his insidious policy, as well as to
the terror of his arms. His public declarations were skilfully
mitigated by his private assurances; he alternately soothed and
threatened the Romans and the Goths; and the courts of Ravenna
and Thoulouse, mutually suspicious of each other's intentions,
beheld, with supine indifference, the approach of their common
enemy. Aetius was the sole guardian of the public safety; but
his wisest measures were embarrassed by a faction, which, since
the death of Placidia, infested the Imperial palace: the youth of
Italy trembled at the sound of the trumpet; and the Barbarians,
who, from fear or affection, were inclined to the cause of
Attila, awaited with doubtful and venal faith, the event of the
war. The patrician passed the Alps at the head of some troops,
whose strength and numbers scarcely deserved the name of an army.
^36 But on his arrival at Arles, or Lyons, he was confounded by
the intelligence, that the Visigoths, refusing to embrace the
defence of Gaul, had determined to expect, within their own
territories, the formidable invader, whom they professed to
despise. The senator Avitus, who, after the honorable exercise
of the Praetorian praefecture, had retired to his estate in
Auvergne, was persuaded to accept the important embassy, which he
executed with ability and success. He represented to Theodoric,
that an ambitious conqueror, who aspired to the dominion of the
earth, could be resisted only by the firm and unanimous alliance
of the powers whom he labored to oppress. The lively eloquence
of Avitus inflamed the Gothic warriors, by the description of the
injuries which their ancestors had suffered from the Huns; whose
implacable fury still pursued them from the Danube to the foot of
the Pyrenees. He strenuously urged, that it was the duty of
every Christian to save, from sacrilegious violation, the
churches of God, and the relics of the saints: that it was the
interest of every Barbarian, who had acquired a settlement in
Gaul, to defend the fields and vineyards, which were cultivated
for his use, against the desolation of the Scythian shepherds.
Theodoric yielded to the evidence of truth; adopted the measure
at once the most prudent and the most honorable; and declared,
that, as the faithful ally of Aetius and the Romans, he was ready
to expose his life and kingdom for the common safety of Gaul. ^37
The Visigoths, who, at that time, were in the mature vigor of
their fame and power, obeyed with alacrity the signal of war;
prepared their arms and horses, and assembled under the standard
of their aged king, who was resolved, with his two eldest sons,
Torismond and Theodoric, to command in person his numerous and
valiant people. The example of the Goths determined several
tribes or nations, that seemed to fluctuate between the Huns and
the Romans. The indefatigable diligence of the patrician
gradually collected the troops of Gaul and Germany, who had
formerly acknowledged themselves the subjects, or soldiers, of
the republic, but who now claimed the rewards of voluntary
service, and the rank of independent allies; the Laeti, the
Armoricans, the Breones the Saxons, the Burgundians, the
Sarmatians, or Alani, the Ripuarians, and the Franks who followed
Meroveus as their lawful prince. Such was the various army,
which, under the conduct of Aetius and Theodoric, advanced, by
rapid marches to relieve Orleans, and to give battle to the
innumerable host of Attila. ^38

[Footnote 36: - Vix liquerat Alpes
Aetius, tenue, et rarum sine milite ducens

Robur, in auxiliis Geticum male credulus agmen

Incassum propriis praesumens adfore castris.

Panegyr. Avit. 328, &c.]

[Footnote 37: The policy of Attila, of Aetius, and of the
Visigoths, is imperfectly described in the Panegyric of Avitus,
and the thirty-sixth chapter of Jornandes. The poet and the
historian were both biased by personal or national prejudices.
The former exalts the merit and importance of Avitus; orbis,
Avite, salus, &c.! The latter is anxious to show the Goths in
the most favorable light. Yet their agreement when they are
fairly interpreted, is a proof of their veracity.]

[Footnote 38: The review of the army of Aetius is made by
Jornandes, c. 36, p. 664, edit. Grot. tom. ii. p. 23, of the
Historians of France, with the notes of the Benedictine editor.
The Loeti were a promiscuous race of Barbarians, born or
naturalized in Gaul; and the Riparii, or Ripuarii, derived their
name from their post on the three rivers, the Rhine, the Meuse,
and the Moselle; the Armoricans possessed the independent cities
between the Seine and the Loire. A colony of Saxons had been
planted in the diocese of Bayeux; the Burgundians were settled in
Savoy; and the Breones were a warlike tribe of Rhaetians, to the
east of the Lake of Constance.]

On their approach the king of the Huns immediately raised
the siege, and sounded a retreat to recall the foremost of his
troops from the pillage of a city which they had already entered.
^39 The valor of Attila was always guided by his prudence; and as
he foresaw the fatal consequences of a defeat in the heart of
Gaul, he repassed the Seine, and expected the enemy in the plains
of Chalons, whose smooth and level surface was adapted to the
operations of his Scythian cavalry. But in this tumultuary
retreat, the vanguard of the Romans and their allies continually
pressed, and sometimes engaged, the troops whom Attila had posted
in the rear; the hostile columns, in the darkness of the night
and the perplexity of the roads, might encounter each other
without design; and the bloody conflict of the Franks and
Gepidae, in which fifteen thousand ^40 Barbarians were slain, was
a prelude to a more general and decisive action. The Catalaunian
fields ^41 spread themselves round Chalons, and extend, according
to the vague measurement of Jornandes, to the length of one
hundred and fifty, and the breadth of one hundred miles, over the
whole province, which is entitled to the appellation of a
champaign country. ^42 This spacious plain was distinguished,
however, by some inequalities of ground; and the importance of a
height, which commanded the camp of Attila, was understood and
disputed by the two generals. The young and valiant Torismond
first occupied the summit; the Goths rushed with irresistible
weight on the Huns, who labored to ascend from the opposite side:
and the possession of this advantageous post inspired both the
troops and their leaders with a fair assurance of victory. The
anxiety of Attila prompted him to consult his priests and
haruspices. It was reported, that, after scrutinizing the
entrails of victims, and scraping their bones, they revealed, in
mysterious language, his own defeat, with the death of his
principal adversary; and that the Barbarians, by accepting the
equivalent, expressed his involuntary esteem for the superior
merit of Aetius. But the unusual despondency, which seemed to
prevail among the Huns, engaged Attila to use the expedient, so
familiar to the generals of antiquity, of animating his troops by
a military oration; and his language was that of a king, who had
often fought and conquered at their head. ^43 He pressed them to
consider their past glory, their actual danger, and their future
hopes. The same fortune, which opened the deserts and morasses of
Scythia to their unarmed valor, which had laid so many warlike
nations prostrate at their feet, had reserved the joys of this
memorable field for the consummation of their victories. The
cautious steps of their enemies, their strict alliance, and their
advantageous posts, he artfully represented as the effects, not
of prudence, but of fear. The Visigoths alone were the strength
and nerves of the opposite army; and the Huns might securely
trample on the degenerate Romans, whose close and compact order
betrayed their apprehensions, and who were equally incapable of
supporting the dangers or the fatigues of a day of battle. The
doctrine of predestination, so favorable to martia virtue, was
carefully inculcated by the king of the Huns; who assured his
subjects, that the warriors, protected by Heaven, were safe and
invulnerable amidst the darts of the enemy; but that the unerring
Fates would strike their victims in the bosom of inglorious
peace. "I myself," continued Attila, "will throw the first
javelin, and the wretch who refuses to imitate the example of his
sovereign, is devoted to inevitable death." The spirit of the
Barbarians was rekindled by the presence, the voice, and the
example of their intrepid leader; and Attila, yielding to their
impatience, immediately formed his order of battle. At the head
of his brave and faithful Huns, he occupied in person the centre
of the line. The nations subject to his empire, the Rugians, the
Heruli, the Thuringians, the Franks, the Burgundians, were
extended on either hand, over the ample space of the Catalaunian
fields; the right wing was commanded by Ardaric, king of the
Gepidae; and the three valiant brothers, who reigned over the
Ostrogoths, were posted on the left to oppose the kindred tribes
of the Visigoths. The disposition of the allies was regulated by
a different principle. Sangiban, the faithless king of the
Alani, was placed in the centre, where his motions might be
strictly watched, and that the treachery might be instantly
punished. Aetius assumed the command of the left, and Theodoric
of the right wing; while Torismond still continued to occupy the
heights which appear to have stretched on the flank, and perhaps
the rear, of the Scythian army. The nations from the Volga to
the Atlantic were assembled on the plain of Chalons; but many of
these nations had been divided by faction, or conquest, or
emigration; and the appearance of similar arms and ensigns, which
threatened each other, presented the image of a civil war.
[Footnote 39: Aurelianensis urbis obsidio, oppugnatio, irruptio,
nec direptio, l. v. Sidon. Apollin. l. viii. Epist. 15, p. 246.
The preservation of Orleans might easily be turned into a
miracle, obtained and foretold by the holy bishop.]

[Footnote 40: The common editions read xcm but there is some
authority of manuscripts (and almost any authority is sufficient)
for the more reasonable number of xvm.]

[Footnote 41: Chalons, or Duro-Catalaunum, afterwards Catalauni,
had formerly made a part of the territory of Rheims from whence
it is distant only twenty-seven miles. See Vales, Notit. Gall.
p. 136. D'Anville, Notice de l'Ancienne Gaule, p. 212, 279.]
[Footnote 42: The name of Campania, or Champagne, is frequently
mentioned by Gregory of Tours; and that great province, of which
Rheims was the capital, obeyed the command of a duke. Vales.
Notit. p. 120 - 123.]
[Footnote 43: I am sensible that these military orations are
usually composed by the historian; yet the old Ostrogoths, who
had served under Attila, might repeat his discourse to
Cassiodorus; the ideas, and even the expressions, have an
original Scythian cast; and I doubt, whether an Italian of the
sixth century would have thought of the hujus certaminis gaudia.]

The discipline and tactics of the Greeks and Romans form an
interesting part of their national manners. The attentive study
of the military operations of Xenophon, or Caesar, or Frederic,
when they are described by the same genius which conceived and
executed them, may tend to improve (if such improvement can be
wished) the art of destroying the human species. But the battle
of Chalons can only excite our curiosity by the magnitude of the
object; since it was decided by the blind impetuosity of
Barbarians, and has been related by partial writers, whose civil
or ecclesiastical profession secluded them from the knowledge of
military affairs. Cassiolorus, however, had familiarly conversed
with many Gothic warriors, who served in that memorable
engagement; "a conflict," as they informed him, "fierce, various,
obstinate, and bloody; such as could not be paralleled either in
the present or in past ages." The number of the slain amounted to
one hundred and sixty-two thousand, or, according to another
account, three hundred thousand persons; ^44 and these incredible
exaggerations suppose a real and effective loss sufficient to
justify the historian's remark, that whole generations may be
swept away by the madness of kings, in the space of a single
hour. After the mutual and repeated discharge of missile
weapons, in which the archers of Scythia might signalize their
superior dexterity, the cavalry and infantry of the two armies
were furiously mingled in closer combat. The Huns, who fought
under the eyes of their king pierced through the feeble and
doubtful centre of the allies, separated their wings from each
other, and wheeling, with a rapid effort, to the left, directed
their whole force against the Visigoths. As Theodoric rode along
the ranks, to animate his troops, he received a mortal stroke
from the javelin of Andages, a noble Ostrogoth, and immediately
fell from his horse. The wounded king was oppressed in the
general disorder, and trampled under the feet of his own cavalry;
and this important death served to explain the ambiguous prophecy
of the haruspices. Attila already exulted in the confidence of
victory, when the valiant Torismond descended from the hills, and
verified the remainder of the prediction. The Visigoths, who had
been thrown into confusion by the flight or defection of the
Alani, gradually restored their order of battle; and the Huns
were undoubtedly vanquished, since Attila was compelled to
retreat. He had exposed his person with the rashness of a private
soldier; but the intrepid troops of the centre had pushed
forwards beyond the rest of the line; their attack was faintly
supported; their flanks were unguarded; and the conquerors of
Scythia and Germany were saved by the approach of the night from
a total defeat. They retired within the circle of wagons that
fortified their camp; and the dismounted squadrons prepared
themselves for a defence, to which neither their arms, nor their
temper, were adapted. The event was doubtful: but Attila had
secured a last and honorable resource. The saddles and rich
furniture of the cavalry were collected, by his order, into a
funeral pile; and the magnanimous Barbarian had resolved, if his
intrenchments should be forced, to rush headlong into the flames,
and to deprive his enemies of the glory which they might have
acquired, by the death or captivity of Attila. ^45
[Footnote 44: The expressions of Jornandes, or rather of
Cassiodorus, are extremely strong. Bellum atrox, multiplex,
immane, pertinax, cui simile nulla usquam narrat antiquitas: ubi
talia gesta referuntur, ut nihil esset quod in vita sua
conspicere potuisset egregius, qui hujus miraculi privaretur
aspectu. Dubos (Hist. Critique, tom. i. p. 392, 393) attempts to
reconcile the 162,000 of Jornandes with the 300,000 of Idatius
and Isidore, by supposing that the larger number included the
total destruction of the war, the effects of disease, the
slaughter of the unarmed people, &c.]

[Footnote 45: The count de Buat, (Hist. des Peuples, &c., tom.
vii. p. 554 - 573,) still depending on the false, and again
rejecting the true, Idatius, has divided the defeat of Attila
into two great battles; the former near Orleans, the latter in
Champagne: in the one, Theodoric was slain in the other, he was

But his enemies had passed the night in equal disorder and
anxiety. The inconsiderate courage of Torismond was tempted to
urge the pursuit, till he unexpectedly found himself, with a few
followers, in the midst of the Scythian wagons. In the confusion
of a nocturnal combat, he was thrown from his horse; and the
Gothic prince must have perished like his father, if his youthful
strength, and the intrepid zeal of his companions, had not
rescued him from this dangerous situation. In the same manner,
but on the left of the line, Aetius himself, separated from his
allies, ignorant of their victory, and anxious for their fate,
encountered and escaped the hostile troops that were scattered
over the plains of Chalons; and at length reached the camp of the
Goths, which he could only fortify with a slight rampart of
shields, till the dawn of day. The Imperial general was soon
satisfied of the defeat of Attila, who still remained inactive
within his intrenchments; and when he contemplated the bloody
scene, he observed, with secret satisfaction, that the loss had
principally fallen on the Barbarians. The body of Theodoric,
pierced with honorable wounds, was discovered under a heap of the
slain: is subjects bewailed the death of their king and father;
but their tears were mingled with songs and acclamations, and his
funeral rites were performed in the face of a vanquished enemy.
The Goths, clashing their arms, elevated on a buckler his eldest
son Torismond, to whom they justly ascribed the glory of their
success; and the new king accepted the obligation of revenge as a
sacred portion of his paternal inheritance. Yet the Goths
themselves were astonished by the fierce and undaunted aspect of
their formidable antagonist; and their historian has compared
Attila to a lion encompassed in his den, and threatening his
hunters with redoubled fury. The kings and nations who might
have deserted his standard in the hour of distress, were made
sensible that the displeasure of their monarch was the most
imminent and inevitable danger. All his instruments of martial
music incessantly sounded a loud and animating strain of
defiance; and the foremost troops who advanced to the assault
were checked or destroyed by showers of arrows from every side of
the intrenchments. It was determined, in a general council of
war, to besiege the king of the Huns in his camp, to intercept
his provisions, and to reduce him to the alternative of a
disgraceful treaty or an unequal combat. But the impatience of
the Barbarians soon disdained these cautious and dilatory
measures; and the mature policy of Aetius was apprehensive that,
after the extirpation of the Huns, the republic would be
oppressed by the pride and power of the Gothic nation. The
patrician exerted the superior ascendant of authority and reason
to calm the passions, which the son of Theodoric considered as a
duty; represented, with seeming affection and real truth, the
dangers of absence and delay and persuaded Torismond to
disappoint, by his speedy return, the ambitious designs of his
brothers, who might occupy the throne and treasures of Thoulouse.
^46 After the departure of the Goths, and the separation of the
allied army, Attila was surprised at the vast silence that
reigned over the plains of Chalons: the suspicion of some hostile
stratagem detained him several days within the circle of his
wagons, and his retreat beyond the Rhine confessed the last
victory which was achieved in the name of the Western empire.
Meroveus and his Franks, observing a prudent distance, and
magnifying the opinion of their strength by the numerous fires
which they kindled every night, continued to follow the rear of
the Huns till they reached the confines of Thuringia. The
Thuringians served in the army of Attila: they traversed, both in
their march and in their return, the territories of the Franks;
and it was perhaps in this war that they exercised the cruelties
which, about fourscore years afterwards, were revenged by the son
of Clovis. They massacred their hostages, as well as their
captives: two hundred young maidens were tortured with exquisite
and unrelenting rage; their bodies were torn asunder by wild
horses, or their bones were crushed under the weight of rolling
wagons; and their unburied limbs were abandoned on the public
roads, as a prey to dogs and vultures. Such were those savage
ancestors, whose imaginary virtues have sometimes excited the
praise and envy of civilized ages. ^47

[Footnote 46: Jornandes de Rebus Geticis, c. 41, p. 671. The
policy of Aetius, and the behavior of Torismond, are extremely
natural; and the patrician, according to Gregory of Tours, (l.
ii. c. 7, p. 163,) dismissed the prince of the Franks, by
suggesting to him a similar apprehension. The false Idatius
ridiculously pretends, that Aetius paid a clandestine nocturnal
visit to the kings of the Huns and of the Visigoths; from each of
whom he obtained a bribe of ten thousand pieces of gold, as the
price of an undisturbed retreat.]
[Footnote 47: These cruelties, which are passionately deplored by
Theodoric, the son of Clovis, (Gregory of Tours, l. iii. c. 10,
p. 190,) suit the time and circumstances of the invasion of
Attila. His residence in Thuringia was long attested by popular
tradition; and he is supposed to have assembled a couroultai, or
diet, in the territory of Eisenach. See Mascou, ix. 30, who
settles with nice accuracy the extent of ancient Thuringia, and
derives its name from the Gothic tribe of the Therungi]

Chapter XXXV: Invasion By Attila.

Part III.

Neither the spirit, nor the forces, nor the reputation, of
Attila, were impaired by the failure of the Gallic expedition In
the ensuing spring he repeated his demand of the princess
Honoria, and her patrimonial treasures. The demand was again
rejected, or eluded; and the indignant lover immediately took the
field, passed the Alps, invaded Italy, and besieged Aquileia with
an innumerable host of Barbarians. Those Barbarians were
unskilled in the methods of conducting a regular siege, which,
even among the ancients, required some knowledge, or at least
some practice, of the mechanic arts. But the labor of many
thousand provincials and captives, whose lives were sacrificed
without pity, might execute the most painful and dangerous work.
The skill of the Roman artists might be corrupted to the
destruction of their country. The walls of Aquileia were
assaulted by a formidable train of battering rams, movable
turrets, and engines, that threw stones, darts, and fire; ^48 and
the monarch of the Huns employed the forcible impulse of hope,
fear, emulation, and interest, to subvert the only barrier which
delayed the conquest of Italy. Aquileia was at that period one
of the richest, the most populous, and the strongest of the
maritime cities of the Adriatic coast. The Gothic auxiliaries,
who appeared to have served under their native princes, Alaric
and Antala, communicated their intrepid spirit; and the citizens
still remembered the glorious and successful resistance which
their ancestors had opposed to a fierce, inexorable Barbarian,
who disgraced the majesty of the Roman purple. Three months were
consumed without effect in the siege of the Aquileia; till the
want of provisions, and the clamors of his army, compelled Attila
to relinquish the enterprise; and reluctantly to issue his
orders, that the troops should strike their tents the next
morning, and begin their retreat. But as he rode round the
walls, pensive, angry, and disappointed, he observed a stork
preparing to leave her nest, in one of the towers, and to fly
with her infant family towards the country. He seized, with the
ready penetration of a statesman, this trifling incident, which
chance had offered to superstition; and exclaimed, in a loud and
cheerful tone, that such a domestic bird, so constantly attached
to human society, would never have abandoned her ancient seats,
unless those towers had been devoted to impending ruin and
solitude. ^49 The favorable omen inspired an assurance of
victory; the siege was renewed and prosecuted with fresh vigor; a
large breach was made in the part of the wall from whence the
stork had taken her flight; the Huns mounted to the assault with
irresistible fury; and the succeeding generation could scarcely
discover the ruins of Aquileia. ^50 After this dreadful
chastisement, Attila pursued his march; and as he passed, the
cities of Altinum, Concordia, and Padua, were reduced into heaps
of stones and ashes. The inland towns, Vicenza, Verona, and
Bergamo, were exposed to the rapacious cruelty of the Huns. Milan
and Pavia submitted, without resistance, to the loss of their
wealth; and applauded the unusual clemency which preserved from
the flames the public, as well as private, buildings, and spared
the lives of the captive multitude. The popular traditions of
Comum, Turin, or Modena, may justly be suspected; yet they concur
with more authentic evidence to prove, that Attila spread his
ravages over the rich plains of modern Lombardy; which are
divided by the Po, and bounded by the Alps and Apennine. ^51 When
he took possession of the royal palace of Milan, he was surprised
and offended at the sight of a picture which represented the
Caesars seated on their throne, and the princes of Scythia
prostrate at their feet. The revenge which Attila inflicted on
this monument of Roman vanity, was harmless and ingenious. He
commanded a painter to reverse the figures and the attitudes; and
the emperors were delineated on the same canvas, approaching in a
suppliant posture to empty their bags of tributary gold before
the throne of the Scythian monarch. ^52 The spectators must have
confessed the truth and propriety of the alteration; and were
perhaps tempted to apply, on this singular occasion, the
well-known fable of the dispute between the lion and the man. ^53

[Footnote 48: Machinis constructis, omnibusque tormentorum
generibus adhibitis. Jornandes, c. 42, p. 673. In the
thirteenth century, the Moguls battered the cities of China with
large engines, constructed by the Mahometans or Christians in
their service, which threw stones from 150 to 300 pounds weight.
In the defence of their country, the Chinese used gunpowder, and
even bombs, above a hundred years before they were known in
Europe; yet even those celestial, or infernal, arms were
insufficient to protect a pusillanimous nation. See Gaubil.
Hist. des Mongous, p. 70, 71, 155, 157, &c.]
[Footnote 49: The same story is told by Jornandes, and by
Procopius, (de Bell Vandal. l. i. c. 4, p. 187, 188:) nor is it
easy to decide which is the original. But the Greek historian is
guilty of an inexcusable mistake, in placing the siege of
Aquileia after the death of Aetius.]

[Footnote 50: Jornandes, about a hundred years afterwards,
affirms, that Aquileia was so completely ruined, ita ut vix ejus
vestigia, ut appareant, reliquerint. See Jornandes de Reb.
Geticis, c. 42, p. 673. Paul. Diacon. l. ii. c. 14, p. 785.
Liutprand, Hist. l. iii. c. 2. The name of Aquileia was
sometimes applied to Forum Julii, (Cividad del Friuli,) the more
recent capital of the Venetian province.

Note: Compare the curious Latin poems on the destruction of
Aquileia, published by M. Endlicher in his valuable catalogue of
Latin Mss. in the library of Vienna, p. 298, &c.

Repleta quondam domibus sublimibus, ornatis mire, niveis,
marmorels, Nune ferax frugum metiris funiculo ruricolarum.
The monkish poet has his consolation in Attila's sufferings
in soul and body.

Vindictam tamen non evasit impius destructor tuus Attila
sevissimus, Nunc igni simul gehennae et vermibus excruciatur
- P. 290. - M.]
[Footnote 51: In describing this war of Attila, a war so famous,
but so imperfectly known, I have taken for my guides two learned
Italians, who considered the subject with some peculiar
advantages; Sigonius, de Imperio Occidentali, l. xiii. in his
works, tom. i. p. 495 - 502; and Muratori, Annali d'Italia, tom.
iv. p. 229 - 236, 8vo. edition.]

[Footnote 52: This anecdote may be found under two different
articles of the miscellaneous compilation of Suidas.]

[Footnote 53: Leo respondit, humana, hoc pictum manu:
Videres hominem dejectum, si pingere
Leones scirent.

Appendix ad Phaedrum, Fab. xxv.

The lion in Phaedrus very foolishly appeals from pictures to the
amphitheatre; and I am glad to observe, that the native taste of
La Fontaine (l. iii. fable x.) has omitted this most lame and
impotent conclusion.]

It is a saying worthy of the ferocious pride of Attila, that
the grass never grew on the spot where his horse had trod. Yet
the savage destroyer undesignedly laid the foundation of a
republic, which revived, in the feudal state of Europe, the art
and spirit of commercial industry. The celebrated name of
Venice, or Venetia, ^54 was formerly diffused over a large and
fertile province of Italy, from the confines of Pannonia to the
River Addua, and from the Po to the Rhaetian and Julian Alps.
Before the irruption of the Barbarians, fifty Venetian cities
flourished in peace and prosperity: Aquileia was placed in the
most conspicuous station: but the ancient dignity of Padua was
supported by agriculture and manufactures; and the property of
five hundred citizens, who were entitled to the equestrian rank,
must have amounted, at the strictest computation, to one million
seven hundred thousand pounds. Many families of Aquileia, Padua,
and the adjacent towns, who fled from the sword of the Huns,
found a safe, though obscure, refuge in the neighboring islands.
^55 At the extremity of the Gulf, where the Adriatic feebly
imitates the tides of the ocean, near a hundred small islands are
separated by shallow water from the continent, and protected from
the waves by several long slips of land, which admit the entrance
of vessels through some secret and narrow channels. ^56 Till the
middle of the fifth century, these remote and sequestered spots
remained without cultivation, with few inhabitants, and almost
without a name. But the manners of the Venetian fugitives, their
arts and their government, were gradually formed by their new
situation; and one of the epistles of Cassiodorus, ^57 which
describes their condition about seventy years afterwards, may be
considered as the primitive monument of the republic. ^* The
minister of Theodoric compares them, in his quaint declamatory
style, to water-fowl, who had fixed their nests on the bosom of
the waves; and though he allows, that the Venetian provinces had
formerly contained many noble families, he insinuates, that they
were now reduced by misfortune to the same level of humble
poverty. Fish was the common, and almost the universal, food of
every rank: their only treasure consisted in the plenty of salt,
which they extracted from the sea: and the exchange of that
commodity, so essential to human life, was substituted in the
neighboring markets to the currency of gold and silver. A
people, whose habitations might be doubtfully assigned to the
earth or water, soon became alike familiar with the two elements;
and the demands of avarice succeeded to those of necessity. The
islanders, who, from Grado to Chiozza, were intimately connected
with each other, penetrated into the heart of Italy, by the
secure, though laborious, navigation of the rivers and inland
canals. Their vessels, which were continually increasing in size
and number, visited all the harbors of the Gulf; and the marriage
which Venice annually celebrates with the Adriatic, was
contracted in her early infancy. The epistle of Cassiodorus, the
Praetorian praefect, is addressed to the maritime tribunes; and
he exhorts them, in a mild tone of authority, to animate the zeal
of their countrymen for the public service, which required their
assistance to transport the magazines of wine and oil from the
province of Istria to the royal city of Ravenna. The ambiguous
office of these magistrates is explained by the tradition, that,
in the twelve principal islands, twelve tribunes, or judges, were
created by an annual and popular election. The existence of the
Venetian republic under the Gothic kingdom of Italy, is attested
by the same authentic record, which annihilates their lofty claim
of original and perpetual independence. ^58

[Footnote 54: Paul the Deacon (de Gestis Langobard. l. ii. c. 14,
p. 784) describes the provinces of Italy about the end of the
eighth century Venetia non solum in paucis insulis quas nunc
Venetias dicimus, constat; sed ejus terminus a Pannoniae finibus
usque Adduam fluvium protelatur. The history of that province
till the age of Charlemagne forms the first and most interesting
part of the Verona Illustrata, p. 1 - 388,) in which the marquis
Scipio Maffei has shown himself equally capable of enlarged views
and minute disquisitions.]
[Footnote 55: This emigration is not attested by any contemporary
evidence; but the fact is proved by the event, and the
circumstances might be preserved by tradition. The citizens of
Aquileia retired to the Isle of Gradus, those of Padua to Rivus
Altus, or Rialto, where the city of Venice was afterwards built,

[Footnote 56: The topography and antiquities of the Venetian
islands, from Gradus to Clodia, or Chioggia, are accurately
stated in the Dissertatio Chorographica de Italia Medii Aevi. p.
151 - 155.]

[Footnote 57: Cassiodor. Variar. l. xii. epist. 24. Maffei
(Verona Illustrata, part i. p. 240 - 254) has translated and
explained this curious letter, in the spirit of a learned
antiquarian and a faithful subject, who considered Venice as the
only legitimate offspring of the Roman republic. He fixes the
date of the epistle, and consequently the praefecture, of
Cassiodorus, A.D. 523; and the marquis's authority has the more
weight, as he prepared an edition of his works, and actually
published a dissertation on the true orthography of his name.
See Osservazioni Letterarie, tom. ii. p. 290 - 339.]

[Footnote *: The learned count Figliasi has proved, in his
memoirs upon the Veneti (Memorie de' Veneti primi e secondi del
conte Figliasi, t. vi. Veneziai, 796,) that from the most remote
period, this nation, which occupied the country which has since
been called the Venetian States or Terra Firma, likewise
inhabited the islands scattered upon the coast, and that from
thence arose the names of Venetia prima and secunda, of which the
first applied to the main land and the second to the islands and
lagunes. From the time of the Pelasgi and of the Etrurians, the
first Veneti, inhabiting a fertile and pleasant country, devoted
themselves to agriculture: the second, placed in the midst of
canals, at the mouth of several rivers, conveniently situated
with regard to the islands of Greece, as well as the fertile
plains of Italy, applied themselves to navigation and commerce.
Both submitted to the Romans a short time before the second Punic
war; yet it was not till after the victory of Marius over the
Cimbri, that their country was reduced to a Roman province. Under
the emperors, Venetia Prima obtained more than once, by its
calamities, a place in history. * * But the maritime province was
occupied in salt works, fisheries, and commerce. The Romans have
considered the inhabitants of this part as beneath the dignity of
history, and have left them in obscurity. * * * They dwelt there
until the period when their islands afforded a retreat to their
ruined and fugitive compatriots. Sismondi. Hist. des Rep.
Italiens, v. i. p. 313. -G.

Compare, on the origin of Venice, Daru, Hist. de Venise,
vol. i. c. l. - M.]

[Footnote 58: See, in the second volume of Amelot de la Houssaie,
Histoire du Gouvernement de Venise, a translation of the famous
Squittinio. This book, which has been exalted far above its
merits, is stained, in every line, with the disingenuous
malevolence of party: but the principal evidence, genuine and
apocryphal, is brought together and the reader will easily choose
the fair medium.]

The Italians, who had long since renounced the exercise of
arms, were surprised, after forty years' peace, by the approach
of a formidable Barbarian, whom they abhorred, as the enemy of
their religion, as well as of their republic. Amidst the general
consternation, Aetius alone was incapable of fear; but it was
impossible that he should achieve, alone and unassisted, any
military exploits worthy of his former renown. The Barbarians
who had defended Gaul, refused to march to the relief of Italy;
and the succors promised by the Eastern emperor were distant and
doubtful. Since Aetius, at the head of his domestic troops, still
maintained the field, and harassed or retarded the march of
Attila, he never showed himself more truly great, than at the
time when his conduct was blamed by an ignorant and ungrateful
people. ^59 If the mind of Valentinian had been susceptible of
any generous sentiments, he would have chosen such a general for
his example and his guide. But the timid grandson of Theodosius,
instead of sharing the dangers, escaped from the sound of war;
and his hasty retreat from Ravenna to Rome, from an impregnable
fortress to an open capital, betrayed his secret intention of
abandoning Italy, as soon as the danger should approach his
Imperial person. This shameful abdication was suspended, however,
by the spirit of doubt and delay, which commonly adheres to
pusillanimous counsels, and sometimes corrects their pernicious
tendency. The Western emperor, with the senate and people of
Rome, embraced the more salutary resolution of deprecating, by a
solemn and suppliant embassy, the wrath of Attila. This
important commission was accepted by Avienus, who, from his birth
and riches, his consular dignity, the numerous train of his
clients, and his personal abilities, held the first rank in the
Roman senate. The specious and artful character of Avienus ^60
was admirably qualified to conduct a negotiation either of public
or private interest: his colleague Trigetius had exercised the
Praetorian praefecture of Italy; and Leo, bishop of Rome,
consented to expose his life for the safety of his flock. The
genius of Leo ^61 was exercised and displayed in the public
misfortunes; and he has deserved the appellation of Great, by the
successful zeal with which he labored to establish his opinions
and his authority, under the venerable names of orthodox faith
and ecclesiastical discipline. The Roman ambassadors were
introduced to the tent of Attila, as he lay encamped at the place
where the slow-winding Mincius is lost in the foaming waves of
the Lake Benacus, ^62 and trampled, with his Scythian cavalry,
the farms of Catullus and Virgil. ^63 The Barbarian monarch
listened with favorable, and even respectful, attention; and the
deliverance of Italy was purchased by the immense ransom, or
dowry, of the princess Honoria. The state of his army might
facilitate the treaty, and hasten his retreat. Their martial
spirit was relaxed by the wealth and idolence of a warm climate.
The shepherds of the North, whose ordinary food consisted of milk
and raw flesh, indulged themselves too freely in the use of
bread, of wine, and of meat, prepared and seasoned by the arts of
cookery; and the progress of disease revenged in some measure the
injuries of the Italians. ^64 When Attila declared his resolution
of carrying his victorious arms to the gates of Rome, he was
admonished by his friends, as well as by his enemies, that Alaric
had not long survived the conquest of the eternal city. His
mind, superior to real danger, was assaulted by imaginary
terrors; nor could he escape the influence of superstition, which
had so often been subservient to his designs. ^65 The pressing
eloquence of Leo, his majestic aspect and sacerdotal robes,
excited the veneration of Attila for the spiritual father of the
Christians. The apparition of the two apostles, St. Peter and
St. Paul, who menaced the Barbarian with instant death, if he
rejected the prayer of their successor, is one of the noblest
legends of ecclesiastical tradition. The safety of Rome might
deserve the interposition of celestial beings; and some
indulgence is due to a fable, which has been represented by the
pencil of Raphael, and the chisel of Algardi. ^66

[Footnote 59: Sirmond (Not. ad Sidon. Apollin. p. 19) has
published a curious passage from the Chronicle of Prosper.
Attila, redintegratis viribus, quas in Gallia amiserat, Italiam
ingredi per Pannonias intendit; nihil duce nostro Aetio secundum
prioris belli opera prospiciente, &c. He reproaches Aetius with
neglecting to guard the Alps, and with a design to abandon Italy;
but this rash censure may at least be counterbalanced by the
favorable testimonies of Idatius and Isidore.]

[Footnote 60: See the original portraits of Avienus and his rival
Basilius, delineated and contrasted in the epistles (i. 9. p. 22)
of Sidonius. He had studied the characters of the two chiefs of
the senate; but he attached himself to Basilius, as the more
solid and disinterested friend.]
[Footnote 61: The character and principles of Leo may be traced
in one hundred and forty-one original epistles, which illustrate
the ecclesiastical history of his long and busy pontificate, from
A.D. 440 to 461. See Dupin, Bibliotheque Ecclesiastique, tom.
iii. part ii p. 120 - 165.]
[Footnote 62: - tardis ingens ubi flexibus errat
Mincius, et tenera praetexit arundine ripas

- - - -
Anne lacus tantos, te Lari maxime, teque

Fluctibus, et fremitu assurgens Benace marino.]
[Footnote 63: The marquis Maffei (Verona Illustrata, part i. p.
95, 129, 221, part ii. p. 2, 6) has illustrated with taste and
learning this interesting topography. He places the interview of
Attila and St. Leo near Ariolica, or Ardelica, now Peschiera, at
the conflux of the lake and river; ascertains the villa of
Catullus, in the delightful peninsula of Sirmio, and discovers
the Andes of Virgil, in the village of Bandes, precisely situate,
qua se subducere colles incipiunt, where the Veronese hills
imperceptibly slope down into the plain of Mantua.

Note: Gibbon has made a singular mistake: the Mincius flows
out of the Bonacus at Peschiera, not into it. The interview is
likewise placed at Ponte Molino. and at Governolo, at the conflux
of the Mincio and the Gonzaga. bishop of Mantua, erected a tablet
in the year 1616, in the church of the latter place,
commemorative of the event. Descrizione di Verona a de la sua
provincia. C. 11, p. 126. - M.]

[Footnote 64: Si statim infesto agmine urbem petiissent, grande
discrimen esset: sed in Venetia quo fere tractu Italia mollissima
est, ipsa soli coelique clementia robur elanquit. Ad hoc panis
usu carnisque coctae, et dulcedine vini mitigatos, &c. This
passage of Florus (iii. 3) is still more applicable to the Huns
than to the Cimbri, and it may serve as a commentary on the
celestial plague, with which Idatius and Isidore have afflicted
the troops of Attila.]

[Footnote 65: The historian Priscus had positively mentioned the
effect which this example produced on the mind of Attila.
Jornandes, c. 42, p. 673]
[Footnote 66: The picture of Raphael is in the Vatican; the basso
(or perhaps the alto) relievo of Algardi, on one of the altars of
St. Peter, (see Dubos, Reflexions sur la Poesie et sur la
Peinture, tom. i. p. 519, 520.) Baronius (Annal. Eccles. A.D.
452, No. 57, 58) bravely sustains the truth of the apparition;
which is rejected, however, by the most learned and pious

Before the king of the Huns evacuated Italy, he threatened
to return more dreadful, and more implacable, if his bride, the
princess Honoria, were not delivered to his ambassadors within
the term stipulated by the treaty. Yet, in the mean while,
Attila relieved his tender anxiety, by adding a beautiful maid,
whose name was Ildico, to the list of his innumerable wives. ^67
Their marriage was celebrated with barbaric pomp and festivity,
at his wooden palace beyond the Danube; and the monarch,
oppressed with wine and sleep, retired at a late hour from the
banquet to the nuptial bed. His attendants continued to respect
his pleasures, or his repose, the greatest part of the ensuing
day, till the unusual silence alarmed their fears and suspicions;
and, after attempting to awaken Attila by loud and repeated
cries, they at length broke into the royal apartment. They found
the trembling bride sitting by the bedside, hiding her face with
her veil, and lamenting her own danger, as well as the death of
the king, who had expired during the night. ^68 An artery had
suddenly burst: and as Attila lay in a supine posture, he was
suffocated by a torrent of blood, which, instead of finding a
passage through the nostrils, regurgitated into the lungs and
stomach. His body was solemnly exposed in the midst of the
plain, under a silken pavilion; and the chosen squadrons of the
Huns, wheeling round in measured evolutions, chanted a funeral
song to the memory of a hero, glorious in his life, invincible in
his death, the father of his people, the scourge of his enemies,
and the terror of the world. According to their national custom,
the Barbarians cut off a part of their hair, gashed their faces
with unseemly wounds, and bewailed their valiant leader as he
deserved, not with the tears of women, but with the blood of
warriors. The remains of Attila were enclosed within three
coffins, of gold, of silver, and of iron, and privately buried in
the night: the spoils of nations were thrown into his grave; the
captives who had opened the ground were inhumanly massacred; and
the same Huns, who had indulged such excessive grief, feasted,
with dissolute and intemperate mirth, about the recent sepulchre
of their king. It was reported at Constantinople, that on the
fortunate night on which he expired, Marcian beheld in a dream
the bow of Attila broken asunder: and the report may be allowed
to prove, how seldom the image of that formidable Barbarian was
absent from the mind of a Roman emperor. ^69 [Footnote 67:
Attila, ut Priscus historicus refert, extinctionis suae tempore,
puellam Ildico nomine, decoram, valde, sibi matrimonium post
innumerabiles uxores ... socians. Jornandes, c. 49, p. 683, 684.

He afterwards adds, (c. 50, p. 686,) Filii Attilae, quorum per
licentiam libidinis poene populus fuit. Polygamy has been
established among the Tartars of every age. The rank of plebeian
wives is regulated only by their personal charms; and the faded
matron prepares, without a murmur, the bed which is destined for
her blooming rival. But in royal families, the daughters of Khans
communicate to their sons a prior right. See Genealogical
History, p. 406, 407, 408.]
[Footnote 68: The report of her guilt reached Constantinople,
where it obtained a very different name; and Marcellinus
observes, that the tyrant of Europe was slain in the night by the
hand, and the knife, of a woman Corneille, who has adapted the
genuine account to his tragedy, describes the irruption of blood
in forty bombast lines, and Attila exclaims, with ridiculous

- S'il ne veut s'arreter, (his blood.)
(Dit-il) on me payera ce qui m'en va couter.]

[Footnote 69: The curious circumstances of the death and funeral
of Attila are related by Jornandes, (c. 49, p. 683, 684, 685,)
and were probably transcribed from Priscus.]

The revolution which subverted the empire of the Huns,
established the fame of Attila, whose genius alone had sustained
the huge and disjointed fabric. After his death, the boldest
chieftains aspired to the rank of kings; the most powerful kings
refused to acknowledge a superior; and the numerous sons, whom so
many various mothers bore to the deceased monarch, divided and
disputed, like a private inheritance, the sovereign command of
the nations of Germany and Scythia. The bold Ardaric felt and
represented the disgrace of this servile partition; and his
subjects, the warlike Gepidae, with the Ostrogoths, under the
conduct of three valiant brothers, encouraged their allies to
vindicate the rights of freedom and royalty. In a bloody and
decisive conflict on the banks of the River Netad, in Pannonia,
the lance of the Gepidae, the sword of the Goths, the arrows of
the Huns, the Suevic infantry, the light arms of the Heruli, and
the heavy weapons of the Alani, encountered or supported each
other; and the victory of the Ardaric was accompanied with the
slaughter of thirty thousand of his enemies. Ellac, the eldest
son of Attila, lost his life and crown in the memorable battle of
Netad: his early valor had raised him to the throne of the
Acatzires, a Scythian people, whom he subdued; and his father,
who loved the superior merit, would have envied the death of
Ellac. ^70 His brother, Dengisich, with an army of Huns, still
formidable in their flight and ruin, maintained his ground above
fifteen years on the banks of the Danube. The palace of Attila,
with the old country of Dacia, from the Carpathian hills to the
Euxine, became the seat of a new power, which was erected by
Ardaric, king of the Gepidae. The Pannonian conquests from Vienna
to Sirmium, were occupied by the Ostrogoths; and the settlements
of the tribes, who had so bravely asserted their native freedom,
were irregularly distributed, according to the measure of their
respective strength. Surrounded and oppressed by the multitude
of his father's slaves, the kingdom of Dengisich was confined to
the circle of his wagons; his desperate courage urged him to
invade the Eastern empire: he fell in battle; and his head
ignominiously exposed in the Hippodrome, exhibited a grateful
spectacle to the people of Constantinople. Attila had fondly or
superstitiously believed, that Irnac, the youngest of his sons,
was destined to perpetuate the glories of his race. The
character of that prince, who attempted to moderate the rashness
of his brother Dengisich, was more suitable to the declining
condition of the Huns; and Irnac, with his subject hordes,
retired into the heart of the Lesser Scythia. They were soon
overwhelmed by a torrent of new Barbarians, who followed the same
road which their own ancestors had formerly discovered. The
Geougen, or Avares, whose residence is assigned by the Greek
writers to the shores of the ocean, impelled the adjacent tribes;
till at length the Igours of the North, issuing from the cold
Siberian regions, which produce the most valuable furs, spread
themselves over the desert, as far as the Borysthenes and the
Caspian gates; and finally extinguished the empire of the Huns.

[Footnote 70: See Jornandes, de Rebus Geticis, c. 50, p. 685,
686, 687, 688. His distinction of the national arms is curious
and important. Nan ibi admirandum reor fuisse spectaculum, ubi
cernere erat cunctis, pugnantem Gothum ense furentem, Gepidam in
vulnere suorum cuncta tela frangentem, Suevum pede, Hunnum
sagitta praesumere, Alanum gravi Herulum levi, armatura, aciem
instruere. I am not precisely informed of the situation of the
River Netad.]
[Footnote 71: Two modern historians have thrown much new light on
the ruin and division of the empire of Attila; M. de Buat, by his
laborious and minute diligence, (tom. viii. p. 3 - 31, 68 - 94,)
and M. de Guignes, by his extraordinary knowledge of the Chinese
language and writers. See Hist. des Huns, tom. ii. p. 315 -

Such an event might contribute to the safety of the Eastern
empire, under the reign of a prince who conciliated the
friendship, without forfeiting the esteem, of the Barbarians.
But the emperor of the West, the feeble and dissolute
Valentinian, who had reached his thirty-fifth year without
attaining the age of reason or courage, abused this apparent
security, to undermine the foundations of his own throne, by the
murder of the patrician Aetius. From the instinct of a base and
jealous mind, he hated the man who was universally celebrated as
the terror of the Barbarians, and the support of the republic; ^*
and his new favorite, the eunuch Heraclius, awakened the emperor
from the supine lethargy, which might be disguised, during the
life of Placidia, ^72 by the excuse of filial piety. The fame of
Aetius, his wealth and dignity, the numerous and martial train of
Barbarian followers, his powerful dependants, who filled the
civil offices of the state, and the hopes of his son Gaudentius,
who was already contracted to Eudoxia, the emperor's daughter,
had raised him above the rank of a subject. The ambitious
designs, of which he was secretly accused, excited the fears, as
well as the resentment, of Valentinian. Aetius himself,
supported by the consciousness of his merit, his services, and
perhaps his innocence, seems to have maintained a haughty and
indiscreet behavior. The patrician offended his sovereign by a
hostile declaration; he aggravated the offence, by compelling him
to ratify, with a solemn oath, a treaty of reconciliation and
alliance; he proclaimed his suspicions, he neglected his safety;
and from a vain confidence that the enemy, whom he despised, was
incapable even of a manly crime, he rashly ventured his person in
the palace of Rome. Whilst he urged, perhaps with intemperate
vehemence, the marriage of his son; Valentinian, drawing his
sword, the first sword he had ever drawn, plunged it in the
breast of a general who had saved his empire: his courtiers and
eunuchs ambitiously struggled to imitate their master; and
Aetius, pierced with a hundred wounds, fell dead in the royal
presence. Boethius, the Praetorian praefect, was killed at the
same moment, and before the event could be divulged, the
principal friends of the patrician were summoned to the palace,
and separately murdered. The horrid deed, palliated by the
specious names of justice and necessity, was immediately
communicated by the emperor to his soldiers, his subjects, and
his allies. The nations, who were strangers or enemies to
Aetius, generously deplored the unworthy fate of a hero: the
Barbarians, who had been attached to his service, dissembled
their grief and resentment: and the public contempt, which had
been so long entertained for Valentinian, was at once converted
into deep and universal abhorrence. Such sentiments seldom
pervade the walls of a palace; yet the emperor was confounded by
the honest reply of a Roman, whose approbation he had not
disdained to solicit. "I am ignorant, sir, of your motives or
provocations; I only know, that you have acted like a man who
cuts off his right hand with his left." ^73
[Footnote *: The praises awarded by Gibbon to the character of
Aetius have been animadverted upon with great severity. (See Mr.
Herbert's Attila. p. 321.) I am not aware that Gibbon has
dissembled or palliated any of the crimes or treasons of Aetius:
but his position at the time of his murder was certainly that of
the preserver of the empire, the conqueror of the most dangerous
of the barbarians: it is by no means clear that he was not
"innocent" of any treasonable designs against Valentinian. If
the early acts of his life, the introduction of the Huns into
Italy, and of the Vandals into Africa, were among the proximate
causes of the ruin of the empire, his murder was the signal for
its almost immediate downfall. - M.]

[Footnote 72: Placidia died at Rome, November 27, A.D. 450. She
was buried at Ravenna, where her sepulchre, and even her corpse,
seated in a chair of cypress wood, were preserved for ages. The
empress received many compliments from the orthodox clergy; and
St. Peter Chrysologus assured her, that her zeal for the Trinity
had been recompensed by an august trinity of children. See
Tillemont, Uist. Jer Emp. tom. vi. p. 240.]

[Footnote 73: Aetium Placidus mactavit semivir amens, is the
expression of Sidonius, (Panegyr. Avit. 359.) The poet knew the
world, and was not inclined to flatter a minister who had injured
or disgraced Avitus and Majorian, the successive heroes of his

The luxury of Rome seems to have attracted the long and
frequent visits of Valentinian; who was consequently more
despised at Rome than in any other part of his dominions. A
republican spirit was insensibly revived in the senate, as their
authority, and even their supplies, became necessary for the
support of his feeble government. The stately demeano of an
hereditary monarch offended their pride; and the pleasures of
Valentinian were injurious to the peace and honor of noble
families. The birth of the empress Eudoxia was equal to his own,
and her charms and tender affection deserved those testimonies of
love which her inconstant husband dissipated in vague and
unlawful amours. Petronius Maximus, a wealthy senator of the
Anician family, who had been twice consul, was possessed of a
chaste and beautiful wife: her obstinate resistance served only
to irritate the desires of Valentinian; and he resolved to
accomplish them, either by stratagem or force. Deep gaming was
one of the vices of the court: the emperor, who, by chance or
contrivance, had gained from Maximus a considerable sum,
uncourteously exacted his ring as a security for the debt; and
sent it by a trusty messenger to his wife, with an order, in her
husband's name, that she should immediately attend the empress
Eudoxia. The unsuspecting wife of Maximus was conveyed in her
litter to the Imperial palace; the emissaries of her impatient
lover conducted her to a remote and silent bed-chamber; and
Valentinian violated, without remorse, the laws of hospitality.
Her tears, when she returned home, her deep affliction, and her
bitter reproaches against a husband whom she considered as the
accomplice of his own shame, excited Maximus to a just revenge;
the desire of revenge was stimulated by ambition; and he might
reasonably aspire, by the free suffrage of the Roman senate, to
the throne of a detested and despicable rival. Valentinian, who
supposed that every human breast was devoid, like his own, of
friendship and gratitude, had imprudently admitted among his
guards several domestics and followers of Aetius. Two of these,
of Barbarian race were persuaded to execute a sacred and
honorable duty, by punishing with death the assassin of their
patron; and their intrepid courage did not long expect a
favorable moment. Whilst Valentinian amused himself, in the
field of Mars, with the spectacle of some military sports, they
suddenly rushed upon him with drawn weapons, despatched the
guilty Heraclius, and stabbed the emperor to the heart, without
the least opposition from his numerous train, who seemed to
rejoice in the tyrant's death. Such was the fate of Valentinian
the Third, ^74 the last Roman emperor of the family of
Theodosius. He faithfully imitated the hereditary weakness of
his cousin and his two uncles, without inheriting the gentleness,
the purity, the innocence, which alleviate, in their characters,
the want of spirit and ability. Valentinian was less excusable,
since he had passions, without virtues: even his religion was
questionable; and though he never deviated into the paths of
heresy, he scandalized the pious Christians by his attachment to
the profane arts of magic and divination.

[Footnote 74: With regard to the cause and circumstances of the
deaths of Aetius and Valentinian, our information is dark and
imperfect. Procopius (de Bell. Vandal. l. i. c. 4, p. 186, 187,
188) is a fabulous writer for the events which precede his own
memory. His narrative must therefore be supplied and corrected
by five or six Chronicles, none of which were composed in Rome or
Italy; and which can only express, in broken sentences, the
popular rumors, as they were conveyed to Gaul, Spain, Africa,
Constantinople, or Alexandria.]
As early as the time of Cicero and Varro, it was the opinion
of the Roman augurs, that the twelve vultures which Romulus had
seen, represented the twelve centuries, assigned for the fatal
period of his city. ^75 This prophecy, disregarded perhaps in the
season of health and prosperity, inspired the people with gloomy
apprehensions, when the twelfth century, clouded with disgrace
and misfortune, was almost elapsed; ^76 and even posterity must
acknowledge with some surprise, that the arbitrary interpretation
of an accidental or fabulous circumstance has been seriously
verified in the downfall of the Western empire. But its fall was
announced by a clearer omen than the flight of vultures: the
Roman government appeared every day less formidable to its
enemies, more odious and oppressive to its subjects. ^77 The
taxes were multiplied with the public distress; economy was
neglected in proportion as it became necessary; and the injustice
of the rich shifted the unequal burden from themselves to the
people, whom they defrauded of the indulgences that might
sometimes have alleviated their misery. The severe inquisition
which confiscated their goods, and tortured their persons,
compelled the subjects of Valentinian to prefer the more simple
tyranny of the Barbarians, to fly to the woods and mountains, or
to embrace the vile and abject condition of mercenary servants.
They abjured and abhorred the name of Roman citizens, which had
formerly excited the ambition of mankind. The Armorican
provinces of Gaul, and the greatest part of Spain, were-thrown
into a state of disorderly independence, by the confederations of
the Bagaudae; and the Imperial ministers pursued with
proscriptive laws, and ineffectual arms, the rebels whom they had
made. ^78 If all the Barbarian conquerors had been annihilated in
the same hour, their total destruction would not have restored
the empire of the West: and if Rome still survived, she survived
the loss of freedom, of virtue, and of honor.

[Footnote 75: This interpretation of Vettius, a celebrated augur,
was quoted by Varro, in the xviiith book of his Antiquities.
Censorinus, de Die Natali, c. 17, p. 90, 91, edit. Havercamp.]
[Footnote 76: According to Varro, the twelfth century would
expire A.D. 447, but the uncertainty of the true aera of Rome
might allow some latitude of anticipation or delay. The poets of
the age, Claudian (de Bell Getico, 265) and Sidonius, (in
Panegyr. Avit. 357,) may be admitted as fair witnesses of the
popular opinion.

Jam reputant annos, interceptoque volatu
Vulturis, incidunt properatis saecula metis.
Jam prope fata tui bissenas Vulturis alas
Implebant; seis namque tuos, scis, Roma, labores.

See Dubos, Hist. Critique, tom. i. p. 340 - 346.]

[Footnote 77: The fifth book of Salvian is filled with pathetic
lamentations and vehement invectives. His immoderate freedom
serves to prove the weakness, as well as the corruption, of the
Roman government. His book was published after the loss of
Africa, (A.D. 439,) and before Attila's war, (A.D. 451.)]
[Footnote 78: The Bagaudae of Spain, who fought pitched battles
with the Roman troops, are repeatedly mentioned in the Chronicle
of Idatius. Salvian has described their distress and rebellion in
very forcible language. Itaque nomen civium Romanorum ... nunc
ultro repudiatur ac fugitur, nec vile tamen sed etiam abominabile
poene habetur ... Et hinc est ut etiam hi quid ad Barbaros non
confugiunt, Barbari tamen esse coguntur, scilicet ut est pars
magna Hispanorum, et non minima Gallorum .... De Bagaudis nunc
mihi sermo est, qui per malos judices et cruentos spoliati,
afflicti, necati postquam jus Romanae libertatis amiserant, etiam
honorem Romani nominis perdiderunt .... Vocamus rabelles, vocamus
perditos quos esse compulimua criminosos. De Gubernat. Dei, l.
v. p. 158, 159.]

Chapter XXXVI: Total Extinction Of The Western Empire.

Part I.

Sack Of Rome By Genseric, King Of The Vandals. - His Naval
Depredations. - Succession Of The Last Emperors Of The West,
Maximus, Avitus, Majorian, Severus, Anthemius, Olybrius,
Glycerius, Nepos, Augustulus. - Total Extinction Of The Western
Empire. - Reign Of Odoacer, The First Barbarian King Of Italy.
The loss or desolation of the provinces, from the Ocean to
the Alps, impaired the glory and greatness of Rome: her internal
prosperity was irretrievably destroyed by the separation of
Africa. The rapacious Vandals confiscated the patrimonial
estates of the senators, and intercepted the regular subsidies,
which relieved the poverty and encouraged the idleness of the
plebeians. The distress of the Romans was soon aggravated by an
unexpected attack; and the province, so long cultivated for their
use by industrious and obedient subjects, was armed against them
by an ambitious Barbarian. The Vandals and Alani, who followed
the successful standard of Genseric, had acquired a rich and
fertile territory, which stretched along the coast above ninety
days' journey from Tangier to Tripoli; but their narrow limits
were pressed and confined, on either side, by the sandy desert
and the Mediterranean. The discovery and conquest of the Black
nations, that might dwell beneath the torrid zone, could not
tempt the rational ambition of Genseric; but he cast his eyes
towards the sea; he resolved to create a naval power, and his
bold resolution was executed with steady and active perseverance.

The woods of Mount Atlas afforded an inexhaustible nursery of
timber: his new subjects were skilled in the arts of navigation
and ship-building; he animated his daring Vandals to embrace a
mode of warfare which would render every maritime country
accessible to their arms; the Moors and Africans were allured by
the hopes of plunder; and, after an interval of six centuries,
the fleets that issued from the port of Carthage again claimed
the empire of the Mediterranean. The success of the Vandals, the
conquest of Sicily, the sack of Palermo, and the frequent
descents on the coast of Lucania, awakened and alarmed the mother
of Valentinian, and the sister of Theodosius. Alliances were
formed; and armaments, expensive and ineffectual, were prepared,
for the destruction of the common enemy; who reserved his courage
to encounter those dangers which his policy could not prevent or
elude. The designs of the Roman government were repeatedly
baffled by his artful delays, ambiguous promises, and apparent
concessions; and the interposition of his formidable confederate,
the king of the Huns, recalled the emperors from the conquest of
Africa to the care of their domestic safety. The revolutions of
the palace, which left the Western empire without a defender, and
without a lawful prince, dispelled the apprehensions, and
stimulated the avarice, of Genseric. He immediately equipped a
numerous fleet of Vandals and Moors, and cast anchor at the mouth
of the Tyber, about three months after the death of Valentinian,
and the elevation of Maximus to the Imperial throne.

The private life of the senator Petronius Maximus ^1 was
often alleged as a rare example of human felicity. His birth was
noble and illustrious, since he descended from the Anician
family; his dignity was supported by an adequate patrimony in
land and money; and these advantages of fortune were accompanied
with liberal arts and decent manners, which adorn or imitate the
inestimable gifts of genius and virtue. The luxury of his palace
and table was hospitable and elegant. Whenever Maximus appeared
in public, he was surrounded by a train of grateful and
obsequious clients; ^2 and it is possible that among these
clients, he might deserve and possess some real friends. His
merit was rewarded by the favor of the prince and senate: he
thrice exercised the office of Praetorian praefect of Italy; he
was twice invested with the consulship, and he obtained the rank
of patrician. These civil honors were not incompatible with the
enjoyment of leisure and tranquillity; his hours, according to
the demands of pleasure or reason, were accurately distributed by
a water-clock; and this avarice of time may be allowed to prove
the sense which Maximus entertained of his own happiness. The
injury which he received from the emperor Valentinian appears to
excuse the most bloody revenge. Yet a philosopher might have
reflected, that, if the resistance of his wife had been sincere,
her chastity was still inviolate, and that it could never be
restored if she had consented to the will of the adulterer. A
patriot would have hesitated before he plunged himself and his
country into those inevitable calamities which must follow the
extinction of the royal house of Theodosius. The imprudent
Maximus disregarded these salutary considerations; he gratified
his resentment and ambition; he saw the bleeding corpse of
Valentinian at his feet; and he heard himself saluted Emperor by
the unanimous voice of the senate and people. But the day of his
inauguration was the last day of his happiness. He was
imprisoned (such is the lively expression of Sidonius) in the
palace; and after passing a sleepless night, he sighed that he
had attained the summit of his wishes, and aspired only to
descend from the dangerous elevation. Oppressed by the weight of
the diadem, he communicated his anxious thoughts to his friend
and quaestor Fulgentius; and when he looked back with unavailing
regret on the secure pleasures of his former life, the emperor
exclaimed, "O fortunate Damocles, ^3 thy reign began and ended
with the same dinner;" a well-known allusion, which Fulgentius
afterwards repeated as an instructive lesson for princes and

[Footnote 1: Sidonius Apollinaris composed the thirteenth epistle
of the second book, to refute the paradox of his friend Serranus,
who entertained a singular, though generous, enthusiasm for the
deceased emperor. This epistle, with some indulgence, may claim
the praise of an elegant composition; and it throws much light on
the character of Maximus.]

[Footnote 2: Clientum, praevia, pedisequa, circumfusa,
populositas, is the train which Sidonius himself (l. i. epist. 9)
assigns to another senator of rank]

[Footnote 3: Districtus ensis cui super impia
Cervice pendet, non Siculoe dapes
Dulcem elaborabunt saporem:
Non avium citharaeque cantus
Somnum reducent.

Horat. Carm. iii. 1.

Sidonius concludes his letter with the story of Damocles, which
Cicero (Tusculan. v. 20, 21) had so inimitably told.]

The reign of Maximus continued about three months. His
hours, of which he had lost the command, were disturbed by
remorse, or guilt, or terror, and his throne was shaken by the
seditions of the soldiers, the people, and the confederate
Barbarians. The marriage of his son Paladius with the eldest
daughter of the late emperor, might tend to establish the
hereditary succession of his family; but the violence which he
offered to the empress Eudoxia, could proceed only from the blind
impulse of lust or revenge. His own wife, the cause of these
tragic events, had been seasonably removed by death; and the
widow of Valentinian was compelled to violate her decent
mourning, perhaps her real grief, and to submit to the embraces
of a presumptuous usurper, whom she suspected as the assassin of
her deceased husband. These suspicions were soon justified by
the indiscreet confession of Maximus himself; and he wantonly
provoked the hatred of his reluctant bride, who was still
conscious that she was descended from a line of emperors. From
the East, however, Eudoxia could not hope to obtain any effectual
assistance; her father and her aunt Pulcheria were dead; her
mother languished at Jerusalem in disgrace and exile; and the
sceptre of Constantinople was in the hands of a stranger. She
directed her eyes towards Carthage; secretly implored the aid of
the king of the Vandals; and persuaded Genseric to improve the
fair opportunity of disguising his rapacious designs by the
specious names of honor, justice, and compassion. ^4 Whatever
abilities Maximus might have shown in a subordinate station, he
was found incapable of administering an empire; and though he
might easily have been informed of the naval preparations which
were made on the opposite shores of Africa, he expected with
supine indifference the approach of the enemy, without adopting
any measures of defence, of negotiation, or of a timely retreat.
When the Vandals disembarked at the mouth of the Tyber, the
emperor was suddenly roused from his lethargy by the clamors of a
trembling and exasperated multitude. The only hope which
presented itself to his astonished mind was that of a precipitate
flight, and he exhorted the senators to imitate the example of
their prince. But no sooner did Maximus appear in the streets,
than he was assaulted by a shower of stones; a Roman, or a
Burgundian soldier, claimed the honor of the first wound; his

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