The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire
By Edward Gibbon
          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
          shipbuilding; 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 Tiber, 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 friend. His merit was rewarded by the
          favour 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  honours  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 tot 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,  thy
          reign began and  ended  with  the same dinner;" a well-known
          allusion,  which  Fulgentius   afterwards   repeated  as  an
          instructive lesson for princes and subjects.(3) 
          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 Palladius
          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  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 honour, 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 Tiber, the
          emperor  was  suddenly  roused  from  his  lethargy  by  the
          clamours 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  honour  of  the  first  wound;  his  mangled  body  was
          ignominiously cast into the Tiber; the Roman people rejoiced
          in the punishment  which they had inflicted on the author of
          the  public  calamities;   and   the  domestics  of  Eudoxia
          signalised their zeal in the service of their mistress.(5) 
          On the third  day after the tumult, Genseric boldly advanced
          from the port of Ostia to the gates of the defenceless city.
          Instead of a sally of the Roman youth, there issued from the
          gates an unarmed  and  venerable procession of the bishop at
          the head of  his  clergy. (6) The fearless spirit of Leo, his 
          authority and eloquence, again mitigated the fierceness of a
          barbarian conqueror: the  king  of  the  Vandals promised to
          spare the unresisting  multitude,  to  protect the buildings
          from fire, and  to  exempt  the  captives  from torture; and
          although  such orders  were  neither  seriously  given,  nor
          strictly  obeyed, the  mediation  of  Leo  was  glorious  to
          himself, and in  some  degree beneficial to his country. But
          Rome   and   its   inhabitants   were   delivered   to   the
          licentiousness  of  the   Vandals  and  Moors,  whose  blind
          passions revenged the  injuries  of  Carthage.  The  pillage
          lasted fourteen days  and  nights; and all that yet remained
          of public or  private wealth, of sacred or profane treasure,
          was diligently transported to the vessels of Genseric. Among
          the spoils, the splendid relics of two temples, or rather of
          two  religions,  exhibited   a   memorable  example  of  the
          vicissitudes of human and divine things. Since the abolition
          of Paganism, the  Capitol  had  been violated and abandoned;
          yet the statues of the gods and heroes were still respected,
          and the curious  roof  of  gilt  bronze was reserved for the
          rapacious hands of  Genseric. (7) The holy instruments of the 
          Jewish worship,(8)  the  gold table, and the gold candlestick 
          with seven branches,  originally  framed  according  to  the
          particular  instructions of  God  himself,  and  which  were
          placed  in  the   sanctuary   of   his   temple,   had  been
          ostentatiously displayed to  the Roman people in the triumph
          of Titus. They  were  afterwards  deposited in the temple of
          Peace; and at  the  end of four hundred years, the spoils of
          Jerusalem were transferred  from  Rome  to  Carthage,  by  a
          barbarian who derived  his  origin  from  the  shores of the
          Baltic. These ancient  monuments might attract the notice of
          curiosity as well as of avarice. But the Christian churches,
          enriched and adorned  by  the prevailing superstition of the
          times, afforded more  plentiful materials for sacrilege; and
          the pious liberality  of  pope  Leo,  who  melted six silver
          vases, the gift  of  Constantine,  each of an hundred pounds
          weight, is an  evidence  of the damage which he attempted to
          repair. In the  forty-five  years that had elapsed since the
          Gothic invasion, the  pomp  and  luxury of Rome were in some
          measure restored; and  it was difficult either to escape, or
          to satisfy, the avarice of a conqueror who possessed leisure
          to collect, and  ships  to  transport,  the  wealth  of  the
          capital.  The  Imperial   ornaments   of   the  palace,  the
          magnificent furniture and  wardrobe, the sideboards of massy
          plate, were accumulated with disorderly rapine: the gold and
          silver amounted to  several  thousand  talents; yet even the
          brass and copper  were laboriously removed. Eudoxia herself,
          who advanced to meet her friend and deliverer, soon bewailed
          the imprudence of  her  own conduct. She was rudely stripped
          of her jewels;  and  the  unfortunate  empress, with her two
          daughters,  the  only   surviving   remains   of  the  great
          Theodosius, was compelled,  as  a  captive,  to  follow  the
          haughty Vandal, who  immediately  hoisted sail, and returned
          with a prosperous navigation to the port of Carthage.(9) Many 
          thousand Romans of  both  sexes,  chosen  for some useful or
          agreeable qualifications, reluctantly  embarked on board the
          fleet of Genseric;  and their distress was aggravated by the
          unfeeling barbarians, who,  in  the  division  of the booty,
          separated the wives  from  their  husbands, and the children
          from their parents.  The  charity  of  Deogratias, bishop of
          Carthage,(10) was  their  only  consolation  and  support. He 
          generously sold the  gold  and silver plate of the church to
          purchase the freedom  of  some,  to alleviate the slavery of
          others, and to assist the wants and infirmities of a captive
          multitude, whose health  was impaired by the hardships which
          they had suffered  in  the  passage from Italy to Africa. By
          his  order,  two   spacious  churches  were  converted  into
          hospitals: the sick were distributed in convenient beds, and
          liberally supplied with  food  and  medicines;  and the aged
          prelate repeated his  visits both in the day and night, with
          an assiduity that  surpassed  his  strength,  and  a  tender
          sympathy which enhanced  the  value of his services. Compare
          this scene with  the  field  of  Cannae;  and  judge between
          Hannibal and the successor of St. Cyprian.(11) 
          The deaths of  Aetius  and  Valentinian had relaxed the ties
          which  held  the   barbarians   of   Gaul   in   peace   and
          subordination. The sea-coast was infested by the Saxons; the
          Alemanni and the  Franks  advanced  from  the  Rhine  to the
          Seine; and the ambition of the Goths seemed to meditate more
          extensive  and  permanent  conquests.  The  emperor  Maximus
          relieved himself, by  a judicious choice, from the weight of
          these distant cares;  he  silenced  the solicitations of his
          friends, listened to  the  voice  of  fame,  and  promoted a
          stranger to the  general  command  of  the  forces  in Gaul.
          Avitus,(12) the  stranger  whose merit was so nobly rewarded, 
          descended  from a  wealthy  and  honourable  family  in  the
          diocese of Auvergne.  The convulsions of the times urged him
          to embrace, with  the  same  ardour,  the civil and military
          professions; and the indefatigable youth blended the studies
          of literature and  jurisprudence  with  the exercise of arms
          and hunting. Thirty years of his life were laudably spent in
          the public service;  he alternately displayed his talents in
          war  and negotiation;  and  the  soldier  of  Aetius,  after
          executing the most  important  embassies,  was raised to the
          station of Praetorian  praefect of Gaul. Either the merit of
          Avitus excited envy,  or  his  moderation  was  desirous  of
          repose, since he  calmly  retired  to  an  estate  which  he
          possessed  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Clermont.  A  copious
          stream, issuing from  the  mountain, and falling headlong in
          many a loud  and foaming cascade, discharged its waters into
          a  lake about  two  miles  in  length,  and  the  villa  was
          pleasantly seated on  the margin of the lake. The baths, the
          porticoes, the summer and winter apartments, were adapted to
          the purposes of  luxury  and  use;  and the adjacent country
          afforded  the various  prospects  of  woods,  pastures,  and
          meadows.(13) In this retreat, where Avitus amused his leisure 
          with books, rural sports, the practice of husbandry, and the
          society of his friends,(14) he received the Imperial diploma, 
          which constituted him  master-general  of  the  cavalry  and
          infantry of Gaul.  He  assumed  the  military  command;  the
          barbarians suspended their fury; and whatever means he might
          employ, whatever concessions he might be forced to make, the
          people enjoyed the  benefits of actual tranquillity. But the
          fate of Gaul  depended  on  the  Visigoths;  and  the  Roman
          general, less attentive  to  his  dignity than to the public
          interest, did not disdain to visit Toulouse in the character
          of an ambassador. He was received with courteous hospitality
          by Theodoric, the  king  of the Goths; but while Avitus laid
          the foundations of  a  solid  alliance  with  that  powerful
          nation, he was  astonished  by  the  intelligence  that  the
          emperor Maximus was  slain,  and that Rome had been pillaged
          by the Vandals.  A  vacant  throne,  which  he  might ascend
          without guilt or  danger,  tempted  his ambition:(15) and the 
          Visigoths were easily  persuaded  to  support  his  claim by
          their  irresistible  suffrage.  They  loved  the  person  of
          Avitus;  they respected  his  virtues;  and  they  were  not
          insensible of the advantage, as well as honour, of giving an
          emperor to the West. The season was now approaching in which
          the annual assembly  of  the  seven  provinces  was  held at
          Arles; their deliberations  might  perhaps  be influenced by
          the presence of  Theodoric  and  his  martial  brothers; but
          their choice would naturally incline to the most illustrious
          of their countrymen.  Avitus,  after  a  decent  resistance,
          accepted the Imperial  diadem  from  the  representatives of
          Gaul; and his  election  was ratified by the acclamations of
          the  barbarians  and  provincials.  The  formal  consent  of
          Marcian, emperor of  the  East,  was solicited and obtained;
          but the senate,  Rome,  and  Italy,  though humbled by their
          recent calamities, submitted  with  a  secret  murmur to the
          presumption of the Gallic usurper.
          Theodoric, to whom  Avitis  was indebted for the purple, had
          acquired the Gothic  sceptre  by  the  murder  of  his elder
          brother Torismond; and  he  justified this atrocious deed by
          the design which his predecessor had formed of violating his
          alliance with the  empire. (16)  Such  a  crime  might not be 
          incompatible  with the  virtues  of  a  barbarian;  but  the
          manners of Theodoric  were  gentle and humane; and posterity
          may contemplate without  terror  the  original  picture of a
          Gothic king, whom  Sidonius  had  intimately observed in the
          hours of peace  and  of  social  intercourse. In an epistle,
          dated from the  court  of Toulouse, the orator satisfies the
          curiosity  of  one   of   his   friends,  in  the  following
          description  : (17)   "By  the  majesty  of  his  appearance, 
          Theodoric  would  command  the  respect  of  those  who  are
          ignorant of his merit; and although he is born a prince, his
          merit would dignify  a  private  station.  He is of a middle
          stature, his body  appears rather plump than fat, and in his
          well-proportioned  limbs agility  is  united  with  muscular
          strength. (18) If  you  examine  his  countenance,  you  will 
          distinguish  a high  forehead,  large  shaggy  eyebrows,  an
          aquiline nose, thin  lips, a regular set of white teeth, and
          a fair complexion, that blushes more frequently from modesty
          than from anger.  The  ordinary distribution of his time, as
          far as it  is  exposed  to the public view, may be concisely
          represented. Before daybreak he repairs, with a small train,
          to his domestic  chapel,  where  the service is performed by
          the Arian clergy;  but  those  who  presume to interpret his
          secret sentiments consider  this  assiduous  devotion as the
          effect of habit  and  policy.  The  rest  of  the morning is
          employed in the  administration of his kingdom. His chair is
          surrounded by some  military  officers  of decent aspect and
          behaviour: the noisy  crowd of his barbarian guards occupies
          the hall of  audience,  but  they are not permitted to stand
          within   the   veils    or   curtains   that   conceal   the
          council-chamber from vulgar  eyes.  The  ambassadors  of the
          nations are successively  introduced: Theodoric listens with
          attention, answers them  with  discreet  brevity, and either
          announces  or delays,  according  to  the  nature  of  their
          business, his final  resolution.  About  eight  (the  second
          hour) he rises  from  his  throne,  and  visits  either  his
          treasury or his  stables. If he chooses to hunt, or at least
          to exercise himself  on  horseback,  his bow is carried by a
          favourite youth; but  when  the  game is marked, he bends it
          with his own  hand, and seldom misses the object of his aim:
          as a king, he disdains to bear arms in such ignoble warfare;
          but as a  soldier  he  would  blush  to  accept any military
          service which he  could  perform himself. On common days his
          dinner  is not  different  from  the  repast  of  a  private
          citizen;  but every  Saturday  many  honourable  guests  are
          invited to the  royal  table,  which, on these occasions, is
          served with the  elegance of Greece, the plenty of Gaul, and
          the order and  diligence  of  Italy. (19)  The gold or silver 
          plate  is less  remarkable  for  its  weight  than  for  the
          brightness and curious  workmanship:  the taste is gratified
          without the help  of foreign and costly luxury; the size and
          number of the  cups  of  wine  are  regulated  with a strict
          regard to the laws of temperance; and the respectful silence
          that prevails is  interrupted  only by grave and instructive
          conversation.  After  dinner  Theodoric  sometimes  indulges
          himself in a short slumber; and as soon as he wakes he calls
          for the dice  and  tables,  encourages his friends to forget
          the royal majesty, and is delighted when they freely express
          the passions which  are excited by the incidents of play. At
          this  game,  which   he  loves  as  the  image  of  war,  he
          alternately displays his eagerness, his skill, his patience,
          and his cheerful  temper.  If  he  loses,  he  laughs: he is
          modest and silent  if  he  wins.  Yet,  notwithstanding this
          seeming indifference, his  courtiers  choose  to solicit any
          favour in the  moments  of  victory;  and  I  myself,  in my
          applications to the  king, have derived some benefit from my
          losses.(20) About  the ninth hour (three o'clock) the tide of 
          business again returns,  and  flows  incessantly  till after
          sunset, when the  signal  of  the royal supper dismisses the
          weary crowd of  suppliants  and  pleaders.  At the supper, a
          more familiar repast,  buffoons and pantomimes are sometimes
          introduced, to divert,  not  to offend, the company by their
          ridiculous wit: but  female singers, and the soft effeminate
          modes of music,  are  severely  banished,  and  such martial
          tunes as animate  the  soul  to  deeds  of  valour are alone
          grateful to the ear of Theodoric. He retires from table; and
          the nocturnal guards  are immediately posted at the entrance
          of the treasury, the palace, and the private apartments."
          When the king  of  the Visigoths encouraged Avitus to assume
          the purple, he  offered  his  person  and  his  forces  as a
          faithful  soldier  of  the  republic. (21)  The  exploits  of 
          Theodoric  soon  convinced   the   world  that  he  had  not
          degenerated from the warlike virtues of his ancestors. After
          the establishment of  the Goths in Aquitain, and the passage
          of the Vandals  into  Africa, the Suevi, who had fixed their
          kingdom in Gallicia,  aspired  to the conquest of Spain, and
          threatened to extinguish  the  feeble  remains  of the Roman
          dominion.  The  provincials  of  Carthagena  and  Tarragona,
          afflicted by an hostile invasion, represented their injuries
          and their apprehensions. Count Fronto was despatched, in the
          name of the  emperor  Avitus,  with  advantageous  offers of
          peace and alliance;  and  Theodoric  interposed  his weighty
          mediation to declare  that,  unless  his brother-in-law, the
          king of the Suevi, immediately retired, he should be obliged
          to arm in  the  cause  of  justice  and of Rome. "Tell him,"
          replied  the  haughty   Rechiarius,   "that  I  despise  his
          friendship and his  arms;  but that I shall soon try whether
          he will dare  to  expect  my  arrival  under  the  walls  of
          Toulouse." Such a  challenge  urged Theodoric to prevent the
          bold designs of  his  enemy:  he  passed the Pyrenees at the
          head of the  Visigoths;  the  Franks  and Burgundians served
          under his standard;  and  though  he  professed  himself the
          dutiful servant of  Avitus,  he  privately  stipulated,  for
          himself and his  successors,  the absolute possession of his
          Spanish  conquests.  The  two  armies,  or  rather  the  two
          nations, encountered each  other  on  the banks of the river
          Urbicus, about twelve  miles  from Astorga; and the decisive
          victory of the Goths appeared for a while to have extirpated
          the name and  kingdom of the Suevi. From the field of battle
          Theodoric advanced to  Braga,  their metropolis, which still
          retained the splendid  vestiges  of its ancient commerce and
          dignity.(22) His  entrance  was  not polluted with blood; and 
          the Goths respected  the  chastity of their female captives,
          more especially of the consecrated virgins: but the greatest
          part of the clergy and people were made slaves, and even the
          churches  and  altars   were  confounded  in  the  universal
          pillage. The unfortunate  king  of  the Suevi had escaped to
          one of the  ports  of  the  ocean;  but the obstinacy of the
          winds opposed his flight: he was delivered to his implacable
          rival; and Rechiarius,  who  neither  desired  nor  expected
          mercy, received, with  manly  constancy,  the death which he
          would probably have  inflicted.  After this bloody sacrifice
          to policy or  resentment,  Theodoric  carried his victorious
          arms as far  as  Merida,  the  principal  town of Lusitania,
          without meeting any  resistance,  except from the miraculous
          powers of St. Eulalia; but he was stopped in the full career
          of success, and  recalled from Spain before he could provide
          for the security  of  his  conquests. In his retreat towards
          the Pyrenees he  revenged  his disappointment on the country
          through which he  passed;  and,  in the sack of Polentia and
          Astorga he showed  himself  a  faithless  ally, as well as a
          cruel enemy. Whilst  the  king  of  the Visigoths fought and
          vanquished in the  name  of  Avitus, the reign of Avitus had
          expired; and both  the honour and interest of Theodoric were
          deeply wounded by  the  disgrace  of  a  friend  whom he had
          seated on the throne of the Western empire.(23) 
          The  pressing  solicitations   of   the  senate  and  people
          persuaded the emperor  Avitus  to fix his residence at Rome,
          and to accept  the  consulship  for the ensuing year. On the
          first day of  January, his son-in-law, Sidonius Apollinaris,
          celebrated his praises in a panegyric of six hundred verses;
          but this composition,  though  it  was rewarded with a brass
          statue,(24) seems  to  contain  a  very  moderate  proportion 
          either of genius  or  of  truth. The poet, if we may degrade
          that sacred name, exaggerates the merit of a sovereign and a
          father; and his  prophecy  of  a long and glorious reign was
          soon contradicted by  the  event. Avitus, at a time when the
          Imperial dignity was  reduced  to a pre-eminence of toil and
          danger, indulged himself in the pleasures of Italian luxury:
          age had not extinguished his amorous inclinations; and he is
          accused  of  insulting,   with   indiscreet  and  ungenerous
          raillery,  the  husbands  whose  wives  he  had  seduced  or
          violated.(25) But  the  Romans  were  not  inclined either to 
          excuse his faults or to acknowledge his virtues. The several
          parts of the  empire  became  every  day more alienated from
          each other; and  the  stranger  of  Gaul  was  the object of
          popular  hatred and  contempt.  The  senate  asserted  their
          legitimate claim in  the  election  of an emperor; and their
          authority, which had  been  originally  derived from the old
          constitution, was again  fortified by the actual weakness of
          a declining monarchy.  Yet  even  such a monarchy might have
          resisted the votes of an unarmed senate, if their discontent
          had  not been  supported,  or  perhaps  inflamed,  by  Count
          Ricimer, one of  the  principal  commanders of the barbarian
          troops  who  formed  the  military  defence  of  Italy.  The
          daughter of Wallia, king of the Visigoths, was the mother of
          Ricimer; but he  was  descended,  on the father's side, from
          the nation of the Suevi:(26) his pride or patriotism might be 
          exasperated by the  misfortunes  of  his  countrymen; and he
          obeyed with reluctance  an emperor in whose elevation he had
          not been consulted.  His  faithful  and  important  services
          against the common enemy rendered him still more formidable;
         (27) and, after  destroying on the coast of Corsica a fleet of 
          Vandals, which consisted  of sixty galleys, Ricimer returned
          in triumph with the appellation of the 'Deliverer of Italy'.
          He chose that moment to signify to Avitus that his reign was
          at an end;  and  the  feeble emperor, at a distance from his
          Gothic allies, was  compelled,  after a short and unavailing
          struggle, to abdicate  the purple. By the clemency, however,
          or the contempt  of  Ricimer,(28) he was permitted to descend 
          from the throne  to  the more desirable station of bishop of
          Placentia:  but the  resentment  of  the  senate  was  still
          unsatisfied; and their  inflexible  severity  pronounced the
          sentence of his  death.  He  fled towards the Alps, with the
          humble hope, not  of  arming the Visigoths in his cause, but
          of securing his  person  and  treasures  in the sanctuary of
          Julian, one of  the  tutelar saints of Auvergne.(29) Disease, 
          or the hand  of  the  executioner, arrested him on the road;
          yet his remains  were  decently  transported  to  Brivas, or
          Brioude, in his  native province, and he reposed at the feet
          of his holy  patron. (30)  Avitus left only one daughter, the 
          wife of Sidonius Apollinaris, who inherited the patrimony of
          his  father-in-law;  lamenting,   at   the  same  time,  the
          disappointment of his  public  and private expectations. His
          resentment prompted him to join, or at least to countenance,
          the measures of  a  rebellious faction in Gaul; and the poet
          had contracted some  guilt, which it was incumbent on him to
          expiate by a  new  tribute  of  flattery  to  the succeeding
          The successor of  Avitus presents the welcome discovery of a
          great and heroic  character,  such  as sometimes arise, in a
          degenerate  age,  to  vindicate  the  honour  of  the  human
          species. The emperor  Majorian  has  deserved the praises of
          his contemporaries and  of  posterity; and these praises may
          be strongly expressed  in  the  words  of  a  judicious  and
          disinterested  historian:  "That   he   was  gentle  to  his
          subjects; that he  was  terrible to his enemies; and that he
          excelled  in every  virtue  all  his  predecessors  who  had
          reigned over the Romans."(32) Such a testimony may justify at 
          least the panegyric of Sidonius; and we may acquiesce in the
          assurance that, although  the  obsequious  orator would have
          flattered with equal zeal the most worthless of princes, the
          extraordinary merit of  his  object  confined  him,  on this
          occasion, within the  bounds  of  truth.(33) Majorian derived 
          his name from his maternal grandfather, who, in the reign of
          the  great Theodosius,  had  commanded  the  troops  of  the
          Illyrian frontier. He  gave  his daughter in marriage to the
          father of Majorian,  a respectable officer, who administered
          the  revenues  of   Gaul   with  skill  and  integrity;  and
          generously  preferred  the   friendship  of  Aetius  to  the
          tempting offers of  an  insidious court. His son, the future
          emperor,  who  was  educated  in  the  profession  of  arms,
          displayed, from his early youth, intrepid courage, premature
          wisdom, and unbounded  liberality  in  a  scanty fortune. He
          followed the standard of Aetius, contributed to his success,
          shared, and sometimes  eclipsed,  his  glory,  and  at  last
          excited the jealousy  of  the  patrician,  or  rather of his
          wife,  who  forced  him  to  retire  from  the  service. (34) 
          Majorian,  after the  death  of  Aetius,  was  recalled  and
          promoted: and his intimate connection with Count Ricimer was
          the immediate step  by  which  he ascended the throne of the
          Western  empire.  During  the  vacancy  that  succeeded  the
          abdication of Avitus,  the  ambitious barbarian, whose birth
          excluded him from the Imperial dignity, governed Italy, with
          the  title  of   Patrician;   resigned  to  his  friend  the
          conspicuous station of  master-general  of  the  cavalry and
          infantry, and, after  an  interval of some months, consented
          to the unanimous  wish  of the Romans, whose favour Majorian
          had solicited by  a  recent victory over the Alemanni.(35) He 
          was invested with  the  purple  at  Ravenna: and the epistle
          which he addressed  to  the  senate  will  best describe his
          situation and his sentiments.
          "Your election, Conscript Fathers ! and the ordinance of the
          most valiant army,  have  made  me  your emperor.(36) May the 
          propitious Deity direct  and prosper the counsels and events
          of my administration  to  your  advantage  and to the public
          welfare  ! For  my  own  part  I  did  not  aspire,  I  have
          submitted,  to reign;  nor  should  I  have  discharged  the
          obligations of a  citizen  if  I  had refused, with base and
          selfish ingratitude, to  support the weight of those labours
          which were imposed  by  the republic. Assist, therefore, the
          prince whom you have made; partake the duties which you have
          enjoined;  and  may   our   common  endeavours  promote  the
          happiness of an  empire  which  I  have  accepted  from your
          hands. Be assured  that,  in our times, justice shall resume
          her ancient vigour,  and  that  virtue shall become not only
          innocent  but meritorious.  Let  none,  except  the  authors
          themselves, be apprehensive  of  'delations',(37) which, as a 
          subject, I have  always  condemned,  and,  as a prince, will
          severely punish. Our  own vigilance, and that of our father,
          the patrician Ricimer,  shall  regulate all military affairs
          and provide for the safety of the Roman world, which we have
          saved  from  foreign   and  domestic  enemies. (38)  You  now 
          understand the maxims  of  my government: you may confide in
          the faithful love and sincere assurances of a prince who has
          formerly been the  companion  of  your life and dangers, who
          still glories in  the  name  of  senator, and who is anxious
          that you should  never repent of the judgment which you have
          pronounced in his  favour."  The  emperor,  who,  amidst the
          ruins of the  Roman  world,  revived the ancient language of
          law and liberty,  which  Trajan  would  not have disclaimed,
          must have derived  those  generous  sentiments  from his own
          heart, since they were not suggested to his imitation by the
          customs of his age or the example of his predecessors.(39) 
          The  private  and   public  actions  of  Majorian  are  very
          imperfectly known: but  his laws, remarkable for an original
          cast of thought  and  expression,  faithfully  represent the
          character  of  a   sovereign   who  loved  his  people,  who
          sympathised in their distress, who had studied the causes of
          the decline of  the  empire, and who was capable of applying
          (as far as  such  reformation was practicable) judicious and
          effectual  remedies  to   the   public   disorders. (40)  His 
          regulations concerning the  finances  manifestly  tended  to
          remove,  or at  least  to  mitigate,  the  most  intolerable
          grievances I. From  the  first  hour  of  his  reign  he was
          solicitous (I translate  his own words) to relieve the weary
          fortunes of the  provincials,  oppressed  by the accumulated
          weight of indictions and superindictions.(41) With this view, 
          he  granted an  universal  amnesty,  a  final  and  absolute
          discharge of all  arrears  of  tribute,  of all debts which,
          under any pretence,  the  fiscal  officers might demand from
          the people. This  wise  dereliction  of obsolete, vexatious,
          and unprofitable claims,  improved  and purified the sources
          of the public  revenue;  and the subject, who could now look
          back without despair,  might  labour with hope and gratitude
          for himself and  for  his country. II. In the assessment and
          collection  of  taxes   Majorian   restored   the   ordinary
          jurisdiction of the  provincial  magistrates, and suppressed
          the extraordinary commissions  which  had been introduced in
          the  name of  the  emperor  himself  or  of  the  Praetorian
          praefects.  The  favourite   servants   who   obtained  such
          irregular  powers  were  insolent  in  their  behaviour  and
          arbitrary in their  demands:  they  affected  to despise the
          subordinate tribunals, and  they  were discontented if their
          fees and profits  did  not  twice  exceed the sum which they
          condescended to pay into the treasury. One instance of their
          extortion would appear  incredible were it not authenticated
          by the legislator himself. They exacted the whole payment in
          gold: but they  refused  the current coin of the empire, and
          would accept only  such  ancient pieces as were stamped with
          the names of  Faustina or the Antonines. The subject who was
          unprovided with these  curious  medals  had  recourse to the
          expedient of compounding  with  their rapacious demands; or,
          if he succeeded  in the research, his imposition was doubled
          according to the  weight  and  value  of the money of former
          times. (42)  III.   "The  municipal  corporations  (says  the 
          emperor), the lesser senates (so antiquity has justly styled
          them), deserve to  be  considered as the heart of the cities
          and the sinews  of the republic. And yet so low are they now
          reduced, by the injustice of magistrates and the venality of
          collectors, that many  of  their  members,  renouncing their
          dignity and their  country, have taken refuge in distant and
          obscure exile." He  urges, and even compels, their return to
          their respective cities;  but he removes the grievance which
          had forced them  to  desert  the exercise of their municipal
          functions. They are  directed,  under  the  authority of the
          provincial magistrates, to  resume  their  office of levying
          the tribute; but,  instead of being made responsible for the
          whole sum assessed on their district, they are only required
          to produce a regular account of the payments which they have
          actually received, and  of  the  defaulters  who  are  still
          indebted to the  public.  IV.  But Majorian was not ignorant
          that  these Corporate  bodies  were  too  much  inclined  to
          retaliate  the  injustice  and  oppression  which  they  had
          suffered, and he  therefore revives the useful office of the
          defenders of cities.  He  exhorts  the people to elect, in a
          full and free assembly, some man of discretion and integrity
          who would dare  to  assert  their  privileges,  to represent
          their grievances, to  protect  the  poor from the tyranny of
          the rich, and  to inform the emperor of the abuses that were
          committed under the sanction of his name and authority.
          The spectator who  casts  a  mournful view over the ruins of
          ancient Rome is  tempted  to  accuse the memory of the Goths
          and Vandals for the mischief which they had neither leisure,
          nor  power, nor  perhaps  inclination,  to  perpetrate.  The
          tempest of war  might  strike  some  lofty  turrets  to  the
          ground; but the destruction which undermined the foundations
          of those massy  fabrics was prosecuted, slowly and silently,
          during  a period  of  ten  centuries;  and  the  motives  of
          interest, that afterwards operated without shame or control,
          were severely checked by the taste and spirit of the emperor
          Majorian. The decay  of  the city had gradually impaired the
          value of the  public  works.  The  circus and theatres might
          still excite, but  they seldom gratified, the desires of the
          people: and the  temples  which  had escaped the zeal of the
          Christians were no  longer  inhabited either by gods or men;
          the diminished crowds of the Romans were lost in the immense
          space  of  their   baths  and  porticoes;  and  the  stately
          libraries and halls of justice became useless to an indolent
          generation whose repose was seldom disturbed either by study
          or business. The monuments of consular or Imperial greatness
          were no longer revered as the immortal glory of the capital;
          they  were  only   esteemed  as  an  inexhaustible  mine  of
          materials, cheaper, and  more  convenient,  than the distant
          quarry. Specious petitions were continually addressed to the
          easy magistrates of  Rome which stated the want of stones or
          bricks for some  necessary  service:  the  fairest  forms of
          architecture were rudely defaced for the sake of some paltry
          or  pretended  repairs;   and  the  degenerate  Romans,  who
          converted the spoil to their own emolument, demolished, with
          sacrilegious hands, the labours of their ancestor. Majorian,
          who had often  sighed  over  the  desolation  of  the  city,
          applied a severe  remedy to the growing evil.(43) He reserved 
          to the prince  and senate the sole cognisance of the extreme
          cases which might  justify  the  destruction  of  an ancient
          edifice;  imposed a  fine  of  fifty  pounds  of  gold  (two
          thousand pounds sterling)  on  every  magistrate  who should
          presume to grant  such  illegal  and scandalous licence; and
          threatened  to chastise  the  criminal  obedience  of  their
          subordinate officers by a severe whipping and the amputation
          of both their  hands.  In  the  last instance the legislator
          might seem to forget the proportion of guilt and punishment;
          but his zeal  arose  from a generous principle, and Majorian
          was anxious to  protect the monuments of those ages in which
          he would have  desired  and  deserved  to  live. The emperor
          conceived that it was his interest to increase the number of
          his subjects; that  it  was  his duty to guard the purity of
          the  marriage-bed:  but  the  means  which  he  employed  to
          accomplish these salutary  purposes are of an ambiguous, and
          perhaps exceptionable, kind. The pious maids who consecrated
          their virginity to  Christ  were  restrained from taking the
          veil till they had reached their fortieth year. Widows under
          that age were compelled to form a second alliance within the
          term of five  years,  by the forfeiture of half their wealth
          to  their  nearest   relations  or  to  the  state.  Unequal
          marriages were condemned  or  annulled.  The  punishment  of
          confiscation and exile was deemed so inadequate to the guilt
          of adultery, that,  if  the  criminal  returned to Italy, he
          might, by the express declaration of Majorian, be slain with
          While the emperor  Majorian  assiduously laboured to restore
          the happiness and  virtue  of the Romans, he encountered the
          arms of Genseric,  from  his  character  and situation their
          most formidable enemy.  A  fleet of Vandals and Moors landed
          at the mouth  of  the  Liris or Garigliano; but the Imperial
          troops surprised and attacked the disorderly barbarians, who
          were encumbered with  the  spoils  of  Campania,  they  were
          chased with slaughter  to their ships, and their leader, the
          king's brother-in-law, was found in the number of the slain.
         (45) Such vigilance  might  announce  the character of the new 
          reign, but the  strictest  vigilance  and  the most numerous
          forces were insufficient  to protect the long-extended coast
          of Italy from  the  depredations  of a naval war. The public
          opinion had imposed  a  nobler  and more arduous task on the
          genius  of  Majorian.  Rome  expected  from  him  alone  the
          restitution of Africa,  and  the  design  which he formed of
          attacking the Vandals  in  their  new  settlements  was  the
          result of bold and judicious policy. If the intrepid emperor
          could have infused  his  own spirit into the youth of Italy;
          if he could  have  revived  in  the  field of Mars the manly
          exercises in which  he  had  always surpassed his equals; he
          might have marched  against  Genseric at the head of a Roman
          army.  Such a  reformation  of  national  manners  might  be
          embraced by the  rising generation; but it is the misfortune
          of  those  princes   who  laboriously  sustain  a  declining
          monarchy, that, to  obtain  some  immediate advantage, or to
          avert some impending danger, they are forced to countenance,
          and even to  multiply, the most pernicious abuses. Majorian,
          like the weakest  of  his  predecessors,  was reduced to the
          disgraceful expedient of  substituting barbarian auxiliaries
          in the place  of  his  unwarlike  subjects: and his superior
          abilities  could  only   be  displayed  in  the  vigour  and
          dexterity with which  he  wielded a dangerous instrument, so
          apt  to recoil  on  the  hand  that  used  it.  Besides  the
          confederates who were  already engaged in the service of the
          empire, the fame  of his liberality and valour attracted the
          nations of the  Danube,  the Borysthenes, and perhaps of the
          Tanais. Many thousands  of  the  bravest subjects of Attila,
          the Gepidae, the  Ostrogoths,  the Rugians, the Burgundians,
          the Suevi, the  Alani,  assembled  in the plains of Liguria,
          and their formidable  strength  was balanced by their mutual
          animosities.(46) They passed the Alps in a severe winter. The 
          emperor led the way on foot and in complete armour, sounding
          with his long  staff  the  depth  of  the  ice  or snow, and
          encouraging the Scythians,  who  complained  of  the extreme
          cold,  by  the   cheerful  assurance  that  they  should  be
          satisfied with the heat of Africa. The citizens of Lyons had
          presumed  to shut  their  gates:  they  soon  implored,  and
          experienced,  the  clemency   of   Majorian.  He  vanquished
          Theodoric in the  field,  and admitted to his friendship and
          alliance a king  whom he had found not unworthy of his arms.
          The beneficial though  precarious  reunion  of  the greatest
          part of Gaul  and Spain was the effect of persuasion as well
          as of force;(47)  and  the  independent  Bagaudae,  who  had 
          escaped or resisted  the  oppression  of former reigns, were
          disposed to confide in the virtues of Majorian. His camp was
          filled with barbarian  allies;  his  throne was supported by
          the zeal of  an  affectionate  people;  but  the emperor had
          foreseen that it  was impossible without a maritime power to
          achieve the conquest  of  Africa. In the first Punic war the
          republic had exerted  such incredible diligence that, within
          sixty days after  the first stroke of the axe had been given
          in the forest,  a  fleet  of  one  hundred and sixty galleys
          proudly rode at  anchor  in  the sea.(48) Under circumstances 
          much  less favourable,  Majorian  equalled  the  spirit  and
          perseverance  of  the  ancient  Romans.  The  woods  of  the
          Apennine  were felled,  the  arsenals  and  manufactures  of
          Ravenna and Misenum  were restored; Italy and Gaul vied with
          each other in  liberal  contributions to the public service;
          and the Imperial  navy  of three hundred large galleys, with
          an adequate proportion  of  transports  and smaller vessels,
          was  collected  in  the  secure  and  capacious  harbour  of
          Carthagena in Spain.(49) The intrepid countenance of Majorian 
          animated his troops  with a confidence of victory; and if we
          might credit the  historian Procopius, his courage sometimes
          hurried  him beyond  the  bounds  of  prudence.  Anxious  to
          explore with his  own  eyes  the  state  of  the Vandals, he
          ventured, after disguising  the colour of his hair, to visit
          Carthage  in  the  character  of  his  own  ambassador:  and
          Genseric was afterwards  mortified  by the discovery that he
          had entertained and  dismissed  the  emperor  of the Romans.
          Such an anecdote  may  be rejected as an improbable fiction,
          but it is  a  fiction  which  would  not  have been imagined
          unless in the life of a hero.(50) 
          Without the help  of  a  personal  interview,  Genseric  was
          sufficiently acquainted with  the  genius and designs of his
          adversary. He practised  his  customary  arts  of  fraud and
          delay,  but  he   practised   them   without   success.  His
          applications for peace became each hour more submissive, and
          perhaps  more  sincere;  but  the  inflexible  Majorian  had
          adopted the ancient  maxim  that  Rome  could not be safe as
          long as Carthage existed in a hostile state. The king of the
          Vandals distrusted the  valour  of  his native subjects, who
          were enervated by  the  luxury of the South;(51) he suspected 
          the fidelity of  the  vanquished people, who abhorred him as
          an Arian tyrant; and the desperate measure which he executed
          of reducing Mauritania into a desert(52) could not defeat the 
          operations of the  Roman emperor, who was at liberty to land
          his troops on  any  part  of the African coast. But Genseric
          was  saved  from   impending  and  inevitable  ruin  by  the
          treachery of some powerful subjects, envious or apprehensive
          of  their  master's   success.   Guided   by   their  secret
          intelligence, he surprised the unguarded fleet in the bay of
          Carthagena: many of the ships were sunk, or taken, or burnt;
          and the preparations  of  three  years  were  destroyed in a
          single day.(53)  After  this  event  the behaviour of the two 
          antagonists  showed them  superior  to  their  fortune.  The
          Vandal, instead of  being elated by this accidental victory,
          immediately renewed his solicitations for peace. The emperor
          of the West, who was capable of forming great designs and of
          supporting heavy disappointments,  consented to a treaty, or
          rather to a  suspension  of arms, in the full assurance that
          before he could  restore his navy he should be supplied with
          provocations to justify  a  second war. Majorian returned to
          Italy to prosecute his labours for the public happiness; and
          as he was  conscious  of  his  own  integrity, he might long
          remain ignorant of  the dark conspiracy which threatened his
          throne and his  life.  The  recent  misfortune of Carthagena
          sullied  the  glory  which  had  dazzled  the  eyes  of  the
          multitude: almost every  description  of  civil and military
          officers were exasperated  against  the Reformer, since they
          all  derived  some   advantage  from  the  abuses  which  he
          endeavoured to suppress;  and the patrician Ricimer impelled
          the inconstant passions  of  the barbarians against a prince
          whom he esteemed  and  hated.  The virtues of Majorian could
          not protect him  from the impetuous sedition which broke out
          in the camp  near  Tortona  at  the foot of the Alps. He was
          compelled to abdicate  the  Imperial purple; five days after
          his abdication it  was reported that he died of a dysentery,
         (54)  and the  humble  tomb  which  covered  his  remains  was 
          consecrated  by the  respect  and  gratitude  of  succeeding
          generations.(55) The  private  character of Majorian inspired 
          love and respect.  Malicious  calumny and satire excited his
          indignation, or if he himself were the object, his contempt;
          but he protected  the freedom of wit, and in the hours which
          the emperor gave  to  the familiar society of his friends he
          could indulge his taste for pleasantry without degrading the
          majesty of his rank.(56) 
          It  was  not   perhaps  without  some  regret  that  Ricimer
          sacrificed his friend  to  the interest of his ambition: but
          he resolved in  a  second  choice  to  avoid  the  imprudent
          preference of superior  virtue and merit. At his command the
          obsequious senate of  Rome  bestowed  the  Imperial title on
          Libius Severus, who  ascended the throne of the West without
          emerging from the  obscurity of a private condition. History
          has scarcely deigned to notice his birth, his elevation, his
          character, or his death. Severus expired as soon as his life
          became inconvenient to  his  patron; (57)  and  it  would  be 
          useless to discriminate  his  nominal  reign  in  the vacant
          interval of six  years between the death of Majorian and the
          elevation of Anthemius.  During  that  period the government
          was in the  hands  of Ricimer alone; and although the modest
          barbarian  disclaimed  the  name  of  king,  he  accumulated
          treasures,  formed  a   separate  army,  negotiated  private
          alliances, and ruled  Italy  with  the  same independent and
          despotic authority which was afterwards exercised by Odoacer
          and Theodoric But  his  dominions  were bounded by the Alps;
          and two Roman  generals, Marcellinus and Agidius, maintained
          their allegiance to  the republic, by rejecting with disdain
          the phantom which  he  styled  an emperor. Marcellinus still
          adhered to the  old  religion;  and  the  devout Pagans, who
          secretly  disobeyed  the  laws  of  the  church  and  state,
          applauded his profound  skill  in the science of divination.
          But  he  possessed   the  more  valuable  qualifications  of
          learning, virtue, and  courage; (58)  the  study of the Latin 
          literature had improved  his taste, and his military talents
          had recommended him  to  the  esteem  and  confidence of the
          great Aetius, in  whose  ruin  he  was involved. By a timely
          flight Marcellinus escaped  the  rage  of  Valentinian,  and
          boldly asserted his  liberty  amidst  the convulsions of the
          Western empire. His voluntary or reluctant submission to the
          authority of Majorian  was  rewarded  by  the  government of
          Sicily and the  command  of an army stationed in that island
          to oppose or  to  attack  the  Vandals;  but  his  barbarian
          mercenaries, after the  emperor's  death,  were  tempted  to
          revolt by the artful liberality of Ricimer. At the head of a
          band of faithful followers the intrepid Marcellinus occupied
          the province of  Dalmatia, assumed the title of patrician of
          the West, secured  the  love  of  his subjects by a mild and
          equitable reign, built a fleet which claimed the dominion of
          the Hadriatic, and  alternately  alarmed the coasts of Italy
          and of Africa. (59) Aegidius, the master-general of Gaul, who 
          equalled, or at  least  who  imitated, the heroes of ancient
          Rome,(60) proclaimed  his  immortal  resentment  against  the 
          assassins of his  beloved  master. A brave and numerous army
          was attached to  his standard and though he was prevented by
          the arts of  Ricimer  and  the  arms  of  the Visigoths from
          marching to the gates of Rome, he maintained his independent
          sovereignty  beyond  the  Alps  and  rendered  the  name  of
          Aegidius respectable both  in peace and war. The Franks, who
          had punished with  exile  the youthful follies of Childeric,
          elected the Roman  general for their king; his vanity rather
          than his ambition was gratified by that singular honour; and
          when the nation  at  the  end  of four years repented of the
          injury which they  had offered to the Merovingian family, he
          patiently  acquiesced  in  the  restoration  of  the  lawful
          prince. The authority  of Aegidius ended only with his life,
          and the suspicions  of  poison  and  secret  violence, which
          derived some countenance from the character of Ricimer, were
          eagerly  entertained by  the  passionate  credulity  of  the
          The kingdom of Italy, a name to which the Western empire was
          gradually reduced, was afflicted under the reign of Ricimer,
          by the incessant  depredations  of the Vandal pirates.(62) In 
          the spring of  each  year they equipped a formidable navy in
          the port of Carthage, and Genseric himself, though in a very
          advanced age, still  commanded  in person the most important
          expeditions. His designs  were  concealed  with impenetrable
          secrecy till the  moment  that  he hoisted sail. When he was
          asked by his  pilot  what  course he should steer "Leave the
          determination to the  winds  (replied  the  barbarian,  with
          pious arrogance): they will transport us to the guilty coast
          whose inhabitants have  provoked the divine justice"; but if
          Genseric himself deigned  to  issue  more precise orders, he
          judged the most wealthy to be the most criminal. The Vandals
          repeatedly visited the  coasts  of  Spain, Liguria, Tuscany,
          Campania,  Lucania,  Bruttium,   Apulia,  Calabria,  Venetia
          Dalmatia, Epirus, Greece,  and  Sicily: they were tempted to
          subdue the island  of  Sardinia, so advantageously placed in
          the centre of  the  Mediterranean;  and  their  arms  spread
          desolation or terror  from  the  Columns  of Hercules to the
          mouth of the Nile. As they were more ambitious of spoil than
          of glory, they  seldom  attacked  any  fortified  cities, or
          engaged any regular  troops  in  the  open  field.  But  the
          celerity of their  motions  enabled  them almost at the same
          time to threaten  and  to  attack  the  most distant objects
          which attracted their desires; and as they always embarked a
          sufficient number of  horses, they had no sooner landed than
          they  swept the  dismayed  country  with  a  body  of  light
          cavalry. Yet, notwithstanding the example of their king, the
          native Vandals and  Alani  insensibly declined this toilsome
          and perilous warfare;  the  hardy  generation  of  the first
          conquerors was almost extinguished, and their sons, who were
          born in Africa,  enjoyed  the  delicious  baths  and gardens
          which had been  acquired  by  the  valour  of their fathers.
          Their place was  readily  supplied by a various multitude of
          Moors  and  Romans,  of  captives  and  outlaws;  and  those
          desperate wretches, who  had  already  violated  the laws of
          their country, were  the most eager to promote the atrocious
          acts which disgraced  the  victories  of  Genseric.  In  the
          treatment of his  unhappy  prisoners  he sometimes consulted
          his avarice, and  sometimes  indulged  his  cruelty; and the
          massacre  of  five   hundred  noble  citizens  of  Zante  or
          Zacynthus, whose mangled bodies he cast into the Ionian Sea,
          was  imputed  by   the  public  indignation  to  his  latest
          Such crimes could  not  be  excused by any provocations, but
          the war which the king of the Vandals prosecuted against the
          Roman empire was  justified  by  a  specious  and reasonable
          motive. The widow  of  Valentinian, Eudoxia, whom he had led
          captive from Rome  to  Carthage, was the sole heiress of the
          Theodosian house; her  eldest  daughter, Eudocia, became the
          reluctant wife of  Hunneric,  his  eldest son; and the stern
          father, asserting a  legal  claim  which could not easily be
          refuted or satisfied,  demanded  a  just  proportion  of the
          Imperial patrimony. An  adequate,  or  at  least a valuable,
          compensation was offered  by the Eastern emperor to purchase
          a necessary peace. Eudoxia and her younger daughter Placidia
          were honourably restored,  and  the  fury of the Vandals was
          confined to the  limits of the Western empire. The Italians,
          destitute of a  naval  force,  which  alone  was  capable of
          protecting  their coasts,  implored  the  aid  of  the  more
          fortunate nations of the East, who had formerly acknowledged
          in peace and  war  the  supremacy of Rome. But the perpetual
          division of the two empires had alienated their interest and
          their  inclinations;  the  faith  of  a  recent  treaty  was
          alleged; and the  Western Romans, instead of arms and ships,
          could only obtain  the  assistance of a cold and ineffectual
          mediation. The haughty  Ricimer, who had long struggled with
          the difficulties of  his situation, was at length reduced to
          address the throne  of Constantinople in the humble language
          of a subject; and Italy submitted, as the price and security
          of the alliance,  to  accept a master from the choice of the
          emperor of the East.(63) It is not the purpose of the present 
          chapter, or even  of  the  present  volume,  to continue the
          distinct series of the Byzantine history; but a concise view
          of the reign  and  character  of the emperor Leo may explain
          the last efforts  that  were  attempted  to save the falling
          empire of the West.(64) 
          Since the death  of  the  younger  Theodosius,  the domestic
          repose of Constantinople  had  never been interrupted by war
          or faction. Pulcheria had bestowed her hand, and the sceptre
          of the East,  on the modest virtue of Marcian: he gratefully
          reverenced her august  rank  and virgin chastity; and, after
          her death, he  gave  his people the example of the religious
          worship that was due to the memory of the Imperial saint.(65) 
          Attentive to the  prosperity  of  his own dominions, Marcian
          seemed to behold  with indifference the misfortunes of Rome;
          and the obstinate  refusal  of  a brave and active prince to
          draw his sword  against the Vandals was ascribed to a secret
          promise which had formerly been exacted from him when he was
          a captive in the power of Genseric.(66) The death of Marcian, 
          after a reign of seven years, would have exposed the East to
          the danger of  a popular election, if the superior weight of
          a single family  had not been able to incline the balance in
          favour of the  candidate  whose interest they supported. The
          patrician Aspar might  have  placed  the  diadem  on his own
          head, if he  would  have  subscribed  the  Nicene  creed.(67) 
          During  three  generations  the  armies  of  the  East  were
          successively commanded by his father, by himself, and by his
          son Ardaburius his  barbarian guards formed a military force
          that overawed the  palace  and  the capital; and the liberal
          distribution of his  immense  treasures  rendered  Aspar  as
          popular as he  was powerful. He recommended the obscure name
          of Leo of  Thrace,  a  military  tribune,  and the principal
          steward of his  household.  His  nomination  was unanimously
          ratified by the  senate;  and  the servant of Aspar received
          the Imperial crown  from  the  hands  of  the  patriarch  or
          bishop,  who was  permitted  to  express,  by  this  unusual
          ceremony, the suffrage  of  the  Deity.(68) This emperor, the 
          first of the  name  of  Leo,  has  been distinguished by the
          title  of the  Great,  from  a  succession  of  princes  who
          gradually fixed in  the  opinion of the Greeks a very humble
          standard of heroic,  or  at  least of royal, perfection. Yet
          the  temperate  firmness   with   which   Leo  resisted  the
          oppression of his benefactor showed that he was conscious of
          his duty and  of  his  prerogative.  Aspar was astonished to
          find that his  influence  could no longer appoint a praefect
          of Constantinople: he  presumed  to  reproach  his sovereign
          with  a breach  of  promise,  and,  insolently  shaking  his
          purple, "It is  not  proper  (said  he)  that the man who is
          invested with this  garment should be guilty of lying." "Nor
          is it proper (replied Leo) that a prince should be compelled
          to resign his  own judgment, and the public interest, to the
          will of a  subject." (69)  After this extraordinary scene, it 
          was impossible that  the  reconciliation  of the emperor and
          the patrician could  be sincere; or, at least, that it could
          be solid and permanent. An army of Isaurians(70) was secretly 
          levied and introduced  into  Constantinople;  and  while Leo
          undermined the authority,  and prepared the disgrace, of the
          family of Aspar,  his mild and cautious behaviour restrained
          them from any  rash and desperate attempts, which might have
          been fatal to  themselves  or their enemies. The measures of
          peace and war  were affected by this internal revolution. As
          long as Aspar degraded the majesty of the throne, the secret
          correspondence  of religion  and  interest  engaged  him  to
          favour the cause of Genseric. When Leo had delivered himself
          from  the  ignominious   servitude,   he   listened  to  the
          complaints  of  the  Italians;  resolved  to  extirpate  the
          tyranny of the  Vandals;  and declared his alliance with his
          colleague Anthemius, whom  he  solemnly  invested  with  the
          diadem and purple of the West.
          The virtues of  Anthemius have perhaps been magnified, since
          the Imperial descent,  which  he  could only deduce from the
          usurper Procopius, has been swelled into a line of emperors.
         (71) But the  merit  of  his immediate parents, their honours, 
          and  their  riches,  rendered  Anthemius  one  of  the  most
          illustrious subjects of  the  East,  His  father, Procopius,
          obtained, after his Persian embassy, the rank of general and
          patrician; and the  name  of  Anthemius was derived from his
          maternal   grandfather,   the   celebrated   praefect,   who
          protected, with so  much  ability  and  success,  the infant
          reign of Theodosius. The grandson of the praefect was raised
          above the condition  of  a  private  subject by his marriage
          with Euphemia, the  daughter  of  the  emperor Marcian. This
          splendid alliance, which  might  supersede  the necessity of
          merit, hastened the promotion of Anthemius to the successive
          dignities of count,  of  master-general,  of  consul, and of
          patrician; and his merit or fortune claimed the honours of a
          victory which was  obtained  on the banks of the Danube over
          the Huns. Without  indulging  an  extravagant  ambition, the
          son-in-law of Marcian  might  hope  to be his successor; but
          Anthemius  supported the  disappointment  with  courage  and
          patience;  and  his  subsequent  elevation  was  universally
          approved by the  public,  who  esteemed  him worthy to reign
          till he ascended  the  throne. (72)  The  emperor of the West 
          marched from Constantinople,  attended  by several counts of
          high distinction and  a  body  of guards almost equal to the
          strength and numbers  of  a regular army: he entered Rome in
          triumph, and the  choice of Leo was confirmed by the senate,
          the people, and  the barbarian confederates of Italy.(73) The 
          solemn  inauguration  of   Anthemius  was  followed  by  the
          nuptials  of his  daughter  and  the  patrician  Ricimer;  a
          fortunate  event,  which   was  considered  as  the  firmest
          security of the union and happiness of the state. The wealth
          of  two  empires  was  ostentatiously  displayed;  and  many
          senators completed their  ruin,  by  an  expensive effort to
          disguise their poverty.  All  serious business was suspended
          during this festival;  the  courts of justice were shut; the
          streets of Rome,  the  theatres,  the  places  of public and
          private resort, resounded  with  hymenaeal  song and dances:
          and the royal  bride,  clothed in silken robes, with a crown
          on her head, was conducted to the palace of Ricimer, who had
          changed his military  dress  for the habit of a consul and a
          senator. On this  memorable  occasion, Sidonius, whose early
          ambition had been so fatally blasted, appeared as the orator
          of Auvergne, among the provincial deputies who addressed the
          throne with congratulations or complaints.(74) The calends of 
          January were now  approaching,  and  the venal poet, who had
          loved Avitus and  esteemed  Majorian,  was  persuaded by his
          friends  to celebrate,  in  heroic  verse,  the  merit,  the
          felicity, the second  consulship, and the future triumphs of
          the emperor Anthemius.  Sidonius  pronounced, with assurance
          and success, a panegyric which is still extant; and whatever
          might be the  imperfections, either of the subject or of the
          composition, the welcome  flatterer was immediately rewarded
          with the praefecture  of  Rome;  a  dignity which placed him
          among the illustrious  personages  of  the  empire,  till he
          wisely preferred the more respectable character of a bishop,
          and a saint.(75) 
          The Greeks ambitiously  commend the piety and catholic faith
          of the emperor  whom  they  gave  to  the  West; nor do they
          forget to observe  that,  when  he  left  Constantinople, he
          converted his palace  into  the pious foundation of a public
          bath, a church,  and  an  hospital  for old men.(76) Yet some 
          suspicious appearances are  found  to  sully the theological
          fame of Anthemius.  From  the  conversation of Philotheus, a
          Macedonian sectary, he  had  imbibed the spirit of religious
          toleration and the  heretics  of  Rome  would have assembled
          with impunity, if  the  bold and vehement censure which pope
          Hilary pronounced in the church of St. Peter had not obliged
          him to abjure  the unpopular indulgence.(77) Even the Pagans, 
          a feeble and  obscure  remnant,  conceived  some vain hopes,
          from the indifference,  or partiality, of Anthemius; and his
          singular friendship for  the  philosopher  Severus,  whom he
          promoted to the consulship, was ascribed to a secret project
          of reviving the  ancient worship of the gods.(78) These idols 
          were crumbled into  dust:  and  the mythology which had once
          been the creed  of  nations  was so universally disbelieved,
          that it might  be  employed  without  scandal,  or  at least
          without suspicion, by  Christian  poets.(79) Yet the vestiges 
          of superstition were  not  absolutely  obliterated,  and the
          festival of the  Lupercalia,  whose  origin had preceded the
          foundation of Rome,  was still celebrated under the reign of
          Anthemius. The savage and simple rites were expressive of an
          early state of  society  before  the  invention  of arts and
          agriculture. The rustic  deities who presided over the toils
          and pleasures of  the  pastoral life, Pan, Faunus, and their
          train of satyrs,  were  such as the fancy of shepherds might
          create, sportive, petulant,  and lascivious; whose power was
          limited, and whose  malice  was  inoffensive. A goat was the
          offering the best adapted to their character and attributes;
          the flesh of the victim was roasted on willow spits; and the
          riotous youths, who  crowded  to  the feast, ran naked about
          the   fields,  with   leather   thongs   in   their   hands,
          communicating, as it was supposed, the blessing of fecundity
          to the women  whom  they  touched. (80)  The altar of Pan was 
          erected, perhaps by  Evander  the Arcadian, in a dark recess
          in the side  of  the  Palatine  hill, watered by a perpetual
          fountain, and shaded  by  a hanging grove. A tradition that,
          in the same  place,  Romulus  and  Remus were suckled by the
          wolf, rendered it  still  more  sacred  and venerable in the
          eyes of the  Romans;  and  this  sylvan  spot  was gradually
          surrounded by the  stately  edifices  of the Forum.(81) After 
          the conversion of  the  Imperial  city, the Christians still
          continued, in the  month of February, the annual celebration
          of the Lupercalia;  to  which  they  ascribed  a  secret and
          mysterious influence on  the genial powers of the animal and
          vegetable world. The  bishops  of  Rome  were  solicitous to
          abolish a profane  custom  so  repugnant  to  the  spirit of
          Christianity;  but their  zeal  was  not  supported  by  the
          authority of the  civil  magistrate:  the  inveterate  abuse
          subsisted till the  end  of  the  fifth  century,  and  pope
          Gelasius, who purified  the  capital  from the last stain of
          idolatry, appeased, by  a formal apology, the murmurs of the
          senate and people.(82) 
          In all his  public  declarations the emperor Leo assumes the
          authority, and professes  the  affection of a father for his
          son Anthemius, with  whom  he had divided the administration
          of  the  universe.  (83)   The  situation,  and  perhaps  the 
          character, of Leo  dissuaded him from exposing his person to
          the toils and  dangers  of an African war. But the powers of
          the Eastern empire were strenuously exerted to deliver Italy
          and the Mediterranean  from  the  Vandals; and Genseric, who
          had so long  oppressed both the land and sea, was threatened
          from every side with a formidable invasion. The campaign was
          opened by a  bold  and successful enterprise of the praefect
          Heraclius.(84) The  troops  of Egypt, Thebais, and Libya were 
          embarked under this  command  and the Arabs, with a train of
          horses and camels  opened the roads of the desert. Heraclius
          landed on the  coast  of  Tripoli, surprised and subdued the
          cities of that province, and prepared, by a laborious march,
          which Cato had  formerly  executed, (85) to join the Imperial 
          army under the  walls  of Carthage. The intelligence of this
          loss extorted from Genseric some insidious and in. effectual
          propositions of peace:  but  he  was  still  more  seriously
          alarmed by the  reconciliation  of  Marcellinus with the two
          empires. The independent  patrician  had  been  persuaded to
          acknowledge  the  legitimate  title  of  Anthemius  whom  he
          accompanied in his  journey to Rome, the Dalmatian fleet was
          received into the  harbours  of  Italy; the active valour of
          Marcellinus  expelled  the   Vandals   from  the  island  of
          Sardinia; and the  languid  efforts  of  the West added some
          weight to the  immense  preparations  of the Eastern Romans.
          The expense of  the  naval  armament, which Leo sent against
          the Vandals has been distinctly ascertained; and the curious
          and instructive account displays the wealth of the declining
          empire. The Royal  demesnes,  or  private  patrimony  of the
          prince,  supplied  seventeen   thousand   pounds   of  gold;
          forty-seven  thousand pounds  of  gold,  and  seven  hundred
          thousand of silver,  were  levied and paid into the treasury
          by the Praetorian  praefects. But the cities were reduced to
          extreme poverty; and  the  diligent calculation of fines and
          forfeitures, as a  valuable  object of the revenue, does not
          suggest the idea of a just, or merciful, administration. The
          whole expense, by  whatsoever  means it was defrayed, of the
          African campaign, amounted  to  the  sum  of one hundred and
          thirty thousand pounds  of  gold,  about  five  millions two
          hundred thousand pounds  sterling,  at a time when the value
          of money appears,  from  the  comparative  price of corn, to
          have been somewhat  higher  than  in the present age.(86) The 
          fleet that sailed  from Constantinople to Carthage consisted
          of eleven hundred  and  thirteen  ships,  and  the number of
          soldiers and mariners  exceeded  one  hundred  thousand men.
          Basiliscus, the brother of the empress Verina, was intrusted
          with this important  command.  His  sister, the wife of Leo,
          had exaggerated the merit of his former exploits against the
          Scythians. But the  discovery  of  his guilt, or incapacity,
          was reserved for the African war; and his friends could only
          save  his military  reputation  by  asserting  that  he  had
          conspired with Aspar  to  spare  Genseric, and to betray the
          last hope of the Western empire.
          Experience has shown  that  the  success  of an invader most
          commonly  depends  on   the   vigour  and  celerity  of  his
          operations.  The  strength   and   sharpness  of  the  first
          impression are blunted  by  delay;  the health and spirit of
          the troops insensibly  languish  in  a  distant climate; the
          naval and military  force, a mighty effort which perhaps can
          never be repeated, is silently consumed, and every hour that
          is wasted in  negotiation accustoms the enemy to contemplate
          and examine those  hostile  terrors  which,  on  their first
          appearance, he deemed  irresistible.  The formidable navy of
          Basiliscus  pursued  its   prosperous  navigation  from  the
          Thracian Bosphorus to  the  coast  of  Africa. He landed his
          troops at Cape  Bona,  or  the  promontory of Mercury, about
          forty miles from Carthage.(87) The army of Heraclius, and the 
          fleet of Marcellinus, either joined or seconded the Imperial
          lieutenant; and the  Vandals who opposed his progress by sea
          or land were  successively  vanquished.(88) If Basiliscus had 
          seized the moment  of  consternation, and boldly advanced to
          the capital, Carthage must have surrendered, and the kingdom
          of the Vandals  was extinguished. Genseric beheld the danger
          with firmness, and  eluded it with his veteran dexterity. He
          protested, in the  most  respectful  language,  that  he was
          ready to submit  his person and his dominions to the will of
          the emperor; but  he  requested  a  truce  of  five  days to
          regulate the terms of his submission; and it was universally
          believed  that his  secret  liberality  contributed  to  the
          success of this  public  negotiation  Instead of obstinately
          refusing  whatever  indulgence   his   enemy   so  earnestly
          solicited,  the  guilty,   or   the   credulous,  Basiliscus
          consented to the  fatal  truce;  and  his imprudent security
          seemed to proclaim that he already considered himself as the
          conqueror of Africa.  During  this  short  interval the wind
          became favourable to  the designs of Genseric. He manned his
          largest ships of  war  with  the  bravest  of  the Moors and
          Vandals; and they  towed  after them many large barks filled
          with combustible materials.  In  the obscurity of the night,
          these  destructive  vessels   were   impelled   against  the
          unguarded and unsuspecting  fleet  of  the  Romans, who were
          awakened by the  sense  of their instant danger. Their close
          and crowded order  assisted  the progress of the fire, which
          was communicated with  rapid  and irresistible violence; and
          the noise of  the  wind,  the  crackling  of  the flames the
          dissonant cries of  the  soldiers  and  mariners,  who could
          neither  command nor  obey,  increased  the  horror  of  the
          nocturnal  tumult.  Whilst   they   laboured   to  extricate
          themselves from the  fire-ships, and to save at least a part
          of the navy,  the  galleys  of  Genseric assaulted them with
          temperate and disciplined  valour;  and  many of the Romans,
          who escaped the  fury of the flames, were destroyed or taken
          by  the  victorious   Vandals.  Among  the  events  of  that
          disastrous night, the  heroic,  or rather desperate, courage
          of John, one  of  the  principal officers of Basiliscus, has
          rescued his name  from  oblivion. When the ship which he had
          bravely defended was  almost  consumed,  he threw himself in
          his armour into  the  sea,  disdainfully rejected the esteem
          and pity of  Genso,  the son of Genseric, who pressed him to
          accept  honourable  quarter,   and  sunk  under  the  waves;
          exclaiming, with his  last  breath, that he would never fall
          alive into the  hands  of  those impious dogs. Actuated by a
          far different spirit, Basiliscus, whose station was the most
          remote from danger,  disgracefully  fled in the beginning of
          the engagement, returned  to Constantinople with the loss of
          more than half  of  his  fleet  and  army, and sheltered his
          guilty head in the sanctuary of St. Sophia, till his sister,
          by her tears  and  entreaties,  could obtain his pardon from
          the  indignant  emperor.   Heraclius  effected  his  retreat
          through the desert;  Marcellinus retired to Sicily, where he
          was assassinated, perhaps  at the instigation of Ricimer, by
          one of his  own  captains;  and  the  king  of  the  Vandals
          expressed his surprise  and  satisfaction  that  the  Romans
          themselves should remove  from the world his most formidable
          antagonists.(89) After  the failure of this great expedition, 
          Genseric again became  the  tyrant of the sea: the coasts of
          Italy, Greece, and  Asia,  were again exposed to his revenge
          and avarice; Tripoli and Sardinia returned to his obedience;
          he added Sicily  to the number of his provinces; and, before
          he died, in the fulness of years and of glory, he beheld the
          final extinction of the empire of the West.(90) 
          During his long  and  active  reign  the African monarch had
          studiously cultivated the  friendship  of  the barbarians of
          Europe, whose arms  he  might  employ  in  a  seasonable and
          effectual diversion against the two empires. After the death
          of Attila he  renewed  his  alliance  with  the Visigoths of
          Gaul; and the  sons of the elder Theodoric, who successively
          reigned over that  warlike nation, were easily persuaded, by
          the sense of  interest,  to  forget  the cruel affront which
          Genseric had inflicted  on their sister.(91) The death of the 
          emperor Majorian delivered  Theodoric  the  Second  from the
          restraint of fear,  and  perhaps  of honour; he violated his
          recent treaty with  the  Romans;  and the ample territory of
          Narbonne, which he  firmly  united  to his dominions, became
          the immediate reward  of  his perfidy. The selfish policy of
          Ricimer encouraged him to invade the provinces which were in
          the possession of Aegidius, his rival; but the active count,
          by the defence  of  Arles  and the victory of Orleans, saved
          Gaul, and checked  during  his  lifetime the progress of the
          Visigoths. Their ambition was soon rekindled; and the design
          of extinguishing the  Roman  empire  in  Spain  and Gaul was
          conceived and almost  completed  in  the reign of Euric, who
          assassinated his brother  Theodoric,  and  displayed, with a
          more savage temper,  superior  abilities  both  in peace and
          war. He passed  the Pyrenees at the head of a numerous army,
          subdued the cities of Saragossa and Pampeluna, vanquished in
          battle  the martial  nobles  of  the  Tarragonese  province,
          carried his victorious arms into the heart of Lusitania, and
          permitted the Suevi  to  hold  the kingdom of Gallicia under
          the Gothic monarchy  of  Spain.(92) The efforts of Euric were 
          not less vigorous or less successful in Gaul; and throughout
          the country that  extends from the Pyrenees to the Rhone and
          the Loire, Berry  and  Auvergne  were  the  only  cities  or
          dioceses which refused  to  acknowledge him as their master.
         (93) In the  defence  of  Clermont,  their principal town, the 
          inhabitants of Auvergne sustained with inflexible resolution
          the  miseries  of  war,  pestilence,  and  famine;  and  the
          Visigoths, relinquishing the  fruitless siege, suspended the
          hopes of that  important conquest. The youth of the province
          were animated by  the heroic and almost incredible valour of
          Ecdicius, the son  of  the  emperor  Avitus, (94)  who made a 
          desperate sally with only eighteen horsemen, boldly attacked
          the Gothic army,  and,  after maintaining a flying skirmish,
          retired safe and  victorious  within  the walls of Clermont.
          His charity was  equal  to his courage: in a time of extreme
          scarcity four thousand poor were fed at his expense; and his
          private influence levied  an  army  of  Burgundians  for the
          deliverance of Auvergne. From his virtues alone the faithful
          citizens of Gaul derived any hopes of safety or freedom; and
          even such virtues  were  insufficient to avert the impending
          ruin of their  country,  since  they  were anxious to learn,
          from his authority  and  example, whether they should prefer
          the  alternative  of  exile  or  servitude. (95)  The  public 
          confidence  was  lost;  the  resources  of  the  state  were
          exhausted; and the Gauls had too much reason to believe that
          Anthemius, who reigned in Italy, was incapable of protecting
          his distressed subjects  beyond the Alps. The feeble emperor
          could only procure  for  their defence the service of twelve
          thousand  British  auxiliaries.   Riothamus,   one   of  the
          independent kings or chieftains of the island, was persuaded
          to transport his  troops to the continent of Gaul: he sailed
          up the Loire  and  established  his quarters in Berry, where
          the people complained  of these oppressive allies, till they
          were destroyed or dispersed by the arms of the Visigoths.(96) 
          One of the  last acts of jurisdiction which the Roman senate
          exercised over their  subjects  of  Gaul  was  the trial and
          condemnation of Arvandus, the Praetorian praefect. Sidonius,
          who rejoices that  he  lived under a reign in which he might
          pity  and  assist  a  state-criminal,  has  expressed,  with
          tenderness and freedom,  the  faults  of  his indiscreet and
          unfortunate friend.(97) From the perils which he had escaped, 
          Arvandus imbibed confidence rather than wisdom; and such was
          the various, though  uniform,  imprudence  of his behaviour,
          that his prosperity  must  appear  much more surprising than
          his downfall. The  second  praefecture,  which  he  obtained
          within the term  of  five  years,  abolished  the  merit and
          popularity of his  preceding administration. His easy temper
          was corrupted by  flattery and exasperated by opposition; he
          was forced to  satisfy  his  importunate  creditors with the
          spoils of the  province;  his  capricious insolence offended
          the nobles of  Gaul;  and  he  sunk  under the weight of the
          public hatred. The  mandate  of his disgrace summoned him to
          justify his conduct before the senate; and he passed the sea
          of Tuscany with a favourable wind, the presage, as he vainly
          imagined, of his future fortunes. A decent respect was still
          observed for the  Praefectorian  rank; and on his arrival at
          Rome Arvandus was  committed to the hospitality, rather than
          to the custody,  of Flavius Asellus, the count of the sacred
          largesses, who resided  in  the  Capitol. (98) He was eagerly 
          pursued by his accusers, the four deputies of Gaul, who were
          all distinguished by  their birth, their dignities, or their
          eloquence. In the name of a great province, and according to
          the forms of  Roman  jurisprudence,  they instituted a civil
          and criminal action,  requiring  such  restitution  as might
          compensate the losses of individuals, and such punishment as
          might satisfy the  justice  of  the  state. Their charges of
          corrupt  oppression were  numerous  and  weighty;  but  they
          placed their secret  dependence  on  a letter which they had
          intercepted, and which  they could prove, by the evidence of
          his secretary, to  have  been  dictated by Arvandus himself.
          The author of this letter seemed to dissuade the king of the
          Goths from a  peace with the Greek emperor: he suggested the
          attack of the  Britons  on  the  Loire  and he recommended a
          division of Gaul,  according  to the law of nations, between
          the  Visigoths and  the  Burgundians. (99)  These  pernicious 
          schemes,  which  a   friend   could  only  palliate  by  the
          reproaches of vanity and indiscretion, were susceptible of a
          treasonable interpretation; and  the  deputies  had artfully
          resolved not to  produce  their most formidable weapons till
          the decisive moment  of  the  contest.  But their intentions
          were discovered by  the  zeal  of  Sidonius.  He immediately
          apprised  the  unsuspecting  criminal  of  his  danger;  and
          sincerely  lamented,  without  any  mixture  of  anger,  the
          haughty presumption of  Arvandus,  who  rejected,  and  even
          resented, the salutary  advice  of  his friends. Ignorant of
          his real situation,  Arvandus  showed himself in the Capitol
          in the white  robe  of  a candidate, accepted indiscriminate
          salutations and offers of service, examined the shops of the
          merchants,  the  silks,   and   gems,   sometimes  with  the
          indifference of a spectator and sometimes with the attention
          of a purchaser;  and complained of the times, of the senate,
          of the prince,  and of the delays of justice. His complaints
          were soon removed. An early day was fixed for his trial; and
          Arvandus appeared, with  his  accusers,  before  a  numerous
          assembly of the  Roman  senate. The mournful garb which they
          affected excited the  compassion  of  the  judges,  who were
          scandalised  by  the   gay   and  splendid  dress  of  their
          adversary: and when the praefect Arvandus, with the first of
          the Gallic deputies,  were  directed to take their places on
          the senatorial benches,  the  same  contrast  of  pride  and
          modesty was observed  in  their behaviour. In this memorable
          judgment,  which  presented   a  lively  image  of  the  old
          republic, the Gauls  exposed,  with  force  and freedom, the
          grievances of the  province; and as soon as the minds of the
          audience were sufficiently  inflamed, they recited the fatal
          epistle.  The obstinacy  of  Arvandus  was  founded  on  the
          strange supposition that a subject could not be convicted of
          treason, unless he  had  actually  conspired  to  assume the
          purple. As the  paper  was  read,  he repeatedly, and with a
          loud voice, acknowledged it for his genuine composition; and
          his astonishment was  equal to his dismay when the unanimous
          voice  of the  senate  declared  him  guilty  of  a  capital
          offence. By their  decree he was degraded from the rank of a
          praefect  to  the  obscure  condition  of  a  plebeian,  and
          ignominiously dragged by servile hands to the public Prison.
          After  a  fortnight's   adjournment  the  senate  was  again
          convened to pronounce  the  sentence of his death: but while
          he expected, in the island of Alsculapius, the expiration of
          the thirty days  allowed  by  an  ancient  law to the vilest
          malefactors, (100)  his   friends   interposed,  the  emperor 
          Anthemius relented, and  the  praefect  of Gaul obtained the
          milder punishment of  exile  and confiscation. The faults of
          Arvandus  might deserve  compassion;  but  the  impunity  of
          Seronatus accused the  justice  of the republic, till he was
          condemned and executed  on  the  complaint  of the people of
          Auvergne. That flagitious  minister, the Catiline of his age
          and country, held a secret correspondence with the Visigoths
          to betray the  province which he oppressed: his industry was
          continually exercised in  the  discovery  of  new  taxes and
          obsolete offences; and  his  extravagant  vices  would  have
          inspired  contempt  if   they   had  not  excited  fear  and
          Such criminals were  not  beyond  the  reach of justice; but
          whatever  might be  the  guilt  of  Ricimer,  that  powerful
          barbarian was able  to  contend  or  to  negotiate  with the
          prince whose alliance  he  had  condescended  to accept. The
          peaceful and prosperous  reign  which Anthemius had promised
          to the West  was  soon  clouded  by  misfortune and discord.
          Ricimer, apprehensive or  impatient  of  a superior, retired
          from Rome and  fixed his residence at Milan; an advantageous
          situation, either to  invite  or to repel the warlike tribes
          that were seated  between the Alps and the Danube.(102) Italy 
          was  gradually divided  into  two  independent  and  hostile
          kingdoms; and the  nobles  of  Liguria,  who trembled at the
          near approach of  a civil war, fell prostrate at the feet of
          the patrician, and  conjured  him  to  spare  their  unhappy
          country. "For my  own  part,"  replied Ricimer, in a tone of
          insolent moderation, "I  am  still  inclined  to embrace the
          friendship of the  Galatian; (103)  but who will undertake to 
          appease his anger,  or  to  mitigate  the pride which always
          rises in proportion  to  our  submission?" They informed him
          that Epiphanius, bishop  of  Pavia,(104) united the wisdom of 
          the serpent with  the  innocence  of  the dove; and appeared
          confident that the  eloquence  of  such  an  ambassador must
          prevail against the strongest opposition, either of interest
          or  passion.  Their   recommendation   was   approved;   and
          Epiphanius, assuming the  benevolent  office  of  mediation,
          proceeded without delay  to  Rome where he was received with
          the honours due  to his merit and reputation. The oration of
          a bishop in  favour  of  peace  may  be  easily supposed: he
          argued that, in  all possible circumstances, the forgiveness
          of injuries must  be  an  act  of  mercy, or magnanimity, or
          prudence; and he seriously admonished the emperor to avoid a
          contest with a  fierce  barbarian,  which  might be fatal to
          himself, and must  be  ruinous  to  his dominions. Anthemius
          acknowledged the truth  of  his  maxims; but he deeply felt,
          with grief and  indignation,  the  behaviour of Ricimer; and
          his passion gave  eloquence  and  energy  to  his discourse.
          "What favours," he  warmly  exclaimed,  "have  we refused to
          this ungrateful man?  What provocations have we not endured?
          Regardless of the  majesty of the purple, I gave my daughter
          to a Goth;  I  sacrificed  my own blood to the safety of the
          republic. The liberality  which  ought  to  have secured the
          eternal attachment of  Ricimer  has  exasperated him against
          his benefactor. What  wars  has  he  not excited against the
          empire? How often has he instigated and assisted the fury of
          hostile  nations?  Shall   I   now   accept  his  perfidious
          friendship? Can I  hope that he will respect the engagements
          of a treaty,  who has already violated the duties of a son?"
          But the anger  of  Anthemius  evaporated in these passionate
          exclamations: he insensibly  yielded  to  the  proposals  of
          Epiphanius; and the  bishop returned to his diocese with the
          satisfaction  of  restoring   the   peace   of  Italy  by  a
          reconciliation,(105) of  which  the sincerity and continuance 
          might be reasonably  suspected.  The clemency of the emperor
          was extorted from  his  weakness;  and Ricimer suspended his
          ambitious designs till  he had secretly prepared the engines
          with which he  resolved  to subvert the throne of Anthemius.
          The mask of  peace and moderation was then thrown aside. The
          army of Ricimer was fortified by a numerous reinforcement of
          Burgundians and Oriental Suevi: he disclaimed all allegiance
          to the Greek  emperor,  marched  from  Milan to the gates of
          Rome, and, fixing  his  camp  on  the  banks  of  the  Anio,
          impatiently expected the  arrival  of Olybrius, his Imperial
          The senator Olybrius,  of  the  Anician family, might esteem
          himself the lawful  heir  of  the  Western  empire.  He  had
          married Placidia, the younger daughter of Valentinian, after
          she was restored  by Genseric, who still detained her sister
          Eudoxia, as the  wife, or rather as the captive, of his son.
          The  king  of   the   Vandals   supported,  by  threats  and
          solicitations, the fair  pretensions  of his Roman ally, and
          assigned, as one  of  the motives of the war, the refusal of
          the senate and  people  to  acknowledge their lawful prince,
          and the unworthy  preference  which  they  had  given  to  a
          stranger.(106) The  friendship  of  the  public  enemy  might 
          render Olybrius still  more  unpopular  to the Italians; but
          when Ricimer meditated the ruin of the emperor Anthemius, he
          tempted, with the  offer of a diadem the candidate who could
          justify his rebellion  by  an  illustrious  name and a royal
          alliance. The husband  of  Placidia,  who,  like most of his
          ancestors, had been  invested  with  the  consular  dignity,
          might have continued  to enjoy a secure and splendid fortune
          in the peaceful  residence  of  Constantinople;  nor does he
          appear to have  been tormented by such a genius as cannot be
          amused  or occupied  unless  by  the  administration  of  an
          empire. Yet Olybrius  yielded  to  the  importunities of his
          friends,  perhaps of  his  wife;  rashly  plunged  into  the
          dangers and calamities  of a civil war; and, with the secret
          connivance of the  emperor Leo, accepted the Italian purple,
          which was bestowed, and resumed, at the capricious will of a
          barbarian. He landed  without  obstacle  (for  Genseric  was
          master of the  sea)  either at Ravenna or the port of Ostia,
          and immediately proceeded  to  the camp of Ricimer, where he
          was received as the sovereign of the Western world.(107) 
          The patrician, who  had  extended his posts from the Anio to
          the Milvian bridge,  already possessed two quarters of Rome,
          the Vatican and  the  Faniculum,  which are separated by the
          Tiber  from the  rest  of  the  city; (108)  and  it  may  be 
          conjectured that an  assembly of seceding senators imitated,
          in the choice  of  Olybrius,  the forms of a legal election.
          But the body  of the senate and people firmly adhered to the
          cause of Anthemius;  and  the  more  effectual  support of a
          Gothic army enabled him to prolong his reign, and the public
          distress, by a  resistance  of  three months, which produced
          the concomitant evils  of  famine  and pestilence. At length
          Ricimer made a  furious assault on the bridge of Hadrian, or
          St. Angelo; and  the  narrow  pass  was  defended with equal
          valour by the Goths till the death of Gilimer, their leader.
          The victorious troops,  breaking  down every barrier, rushed
          with irresistible violence  into  the heart of the city, and
          Rome (if we may use the language of a contemporary pope) was
          subverted by the  civil  fury  of Anthemius and Ricimer.(109) 
          The unfortunate Anthemius  was  dragged from his concealment
          and inhumanly massacred  by  the  command of his son-in-law,
          who thus added  a third, or perhaps a fourth, emperor to the
          number of his  victims. The soldiers, who united the rage of
          factious citizens with  the  savage  manners  of barbarians,
          were indulged without  control  in the licence of rapine and
          murder:  the  crowd   of  slaves  and  plebeians,  who  were
          unconcerned  in  the   event,   could   only   gain  by  the
          indiscriminate pillage; and  the  face of the city exhibited
          the  strange  contrast   of   stern  cruelty  and  dissolute
          intemperance.(110) Forty  days  after  this calamitous event, 
          the  subject,  not   of  glory,  but  of  guilt,  Italy  was
          delivered, by a  painful  disease,  from the tyrant Ricimer,
          who  bequeathed the  command  of  his  army  to  his  nephew
          Gundobald, one of  the  princes  of  the Burgundians. In the
          same year all  the principal actors in this great revolution
          were  removed  from  the  stage;  and  the  whole  reign  of
          Olybrius,  whose death  does  not  betray  any  symptoms  of
          violence, is included  within  the  term of seven months. He
          left one daughter,  the  off-spring  of  his  marriage  with
          Placidia;  and  the   family   of   the   great  Theodosius,
          transplanted from Spain to Constantinople, was propagated in
          the female line as far as the eighth generation.(111) 
          Whilst the vacant  throne  of Italy was abandoned to lawless
          barbarians, (112)  the   election  of  a  new  colleague  was 
          seriously  agitated in  the  council  of  Leo.  The  empress
          Verina, studious to promote the greatness of her own family,
          had married one of her nieces to Julius Nepos, who succeeded
          his uncle Marcellinus in the sovereignty of Dalmatia, a more
          solid possession than  the  title  which he was persuaded to
          accept of Emperor  of  the  West.  But  the  measures of the
          Byzantine court were  so  languid  and irresolute, that many
          months elapsed after  the  death  of  Anthemius, and even of
          Olybrius,  before  their   destined   successor  could  show
          himself, with a  respectable force, to his Italian subjects.
          During that interval,  Glycerius,  an  obscure  soldier, was
          invested with the  purple  by  his patron Guniobald; but the
          Burgundian prince was  unable  or  unwilling  to support his
          nomination by a civil war: the pursuits of domestic ambition
          recalled  him beyond  the  Alps, (113)  and  his  client  was 
          permitted to exchange the Roman sceptre for the bishopric of
          Salona. After extinguishing  such  a competitor, the emperor
          Nepos was acknowledged  by  the senate, by the Italians, and
          by the provincials  of  Gaul; his moral virtues and military
          talents were loudly  celebrated,  and  those who derived any
          private benefit from  his  government announced in prophetic
          strains the restoration  of  the  public felicity.(114) Their 
          hopes ( if  such hopes had been entertained) were confounded
          within the term  of  a single year, and the treaty of peace,
          which ceded Auvergne  to the Visigoths, is the only event of
          his short and  inglorious  reign. The most faithful subjects
          of Gaul were sacrificed by the Italian emperor to he hope of
          domestic security;(115)  but his repose was soon invaded by a 
          furious sedition of  the  barbarian confederates, who, under
          the command of  Orestes,  their  general, were in full march
          from Rome to Ravenna. Nepos trembled at their approach; and,
          instead of placing  a  just  confidence  in  the strength of
          Ravenna, he hastily escaped to his ships, and retired to his
          Dalmatian  principality,  on   the  opposite  coast  of  the
          Hadriatic. By this  shameful  abdication  he  protracted his
          life about five  years, in a very ambiguous state between an
          emperor and an  exile, till he was assassinated at Salona by
          the ungrateful Glycerius, who was translated, perhaps as the
          reward of his crime, to the archbishopric of Milan.(116) 
          The nations who  had  asserted  their independence after the
          death of Attila were established, by the right of possession
          or conquest, in  the boundless countries to the north of the
          Danube; or in  the Roman provinces between the river and the
          Alps. But the bravest of their youth enlisted in the army of
          confederates, who formed  the  defence  and  the  terror  of
          Italy;(117) and  in  this promiscuous multitude, the names of 
          the Heruli, the  Sciri,  the  Alani, the Turcilingi, and the
          Rugians, appear to  have  predominated. The example of these
          warriors was imitated  by  Orestes,(118) the son of Tatullus, 
          and the father  of  the  last  Roman  emperor  of  the West.
          Orestes, who has been already mentioned in this history, had
          never deserted his  country. His birth and fortunes rendered
          him one of  the  most illustrious subjects of Pannonia. When
          that province was  ceded  to  the  Huns, he entered into the
          service of Attila, his lawful sovereign, obtained the office
          of his secretary,  and  was  repeatedly  sent  ambassador to
          Constantinople, to represent  the  person  and  signify  the
          commands  of  the  imperious  monarch.  The  death  of  that
          conqueror restored him  to  his  freedom;  and Orestes might
          honourably refuse either  to  follow the sons of Attila into
          the Scythian desert,  or  to  obey  the  Ostrogoths, who had
          usurped the dominion  of  Pannonia. He preferred the service
          of the Italian  princes, the successors of Valentinian; and,
          as he possessed the qualifications of courage, industry, and
          experience, he advanced  with  rapid  steps  in the military
          profession, till he  was  elevated,  by  the favour of Nepos
          himself, to the dignities of patrician and master-general of
          the  troops.  These  troops  had  been  long  accustomed  to
          reverence  the  character  and  authority  of  Orestes,  who
          affected their manners,  conversed  with  them  in their own
          language, and was  intimately  connected with their national
          chieftains by long  habits of familiarity and friendship. At
          his solicitation they rose in arms against the obscure Greek
          who presumed to  claim  their  obedience;  and when Orestes,
          from  some  secret   motive,   declined   the  purple,  they
          consented, with the  same  facility,  to acknowledge his son
          Augustulus as the  emperor of the West. By the abdication of
          Nepos, Orestes had  now attained the summit of his ambitious
          hopes; but he  soon  discovered, before the end of the first
          year, that the  lessons  of  perjury and ingratitude which a
          rebel must inculcate  will  be retorted against himself, and
          that the precarious sovereign of Italy was only permitted to
          choose whether he  would  be  the slave or the victim of his
          barbarian  mercenaries.  The  dangerous  alliance  of  these
          strangers had oppressed  and  insulted  the  last remains of
          Roman freedom and  dignity. At each revolution their pay and
          privileges were augmented;  but their insolence increased in
          a still more  extravagant degree; they envied the fortune of
          their brethren in  Gaul, Spain, and Africa, whose victorious
          arms had acquired  an independent and perpetual inheritance;
          and they insisted  on  their  peremptory demand that a third
          part of the  lands  of  Italy  should be immediately divided
          among  them.  Orestes,  with  a  spirit  which,  in  another
          situation, might be  entitled to our esteem, chose rather to
          encounter the rage  of  an armed multitude than to subscribe
          the ruin of  an  innocent  people. He rejected the audacious
          demand; and his  refusal  was  favourable to the ambition of
          Odoacer, a bold  barbarian,  who assured his fellow-soldiers
          that, if they  dared  to  associate  under his command, they
          might soon extort the justice which had been denied to their
          dutiful petitions. From all the camps and garrisons of Italy
          the confederates, actuated  by  the  same resentment and the
          same hopes, impatiently  flocked  to  the  standard  of this
          popular leader; and  the  unfortunate patrician, overwhelmed
          by the torrent,  hastily  retreated  to  the  strong city of
          Pavia, the episcopal seat of the holy Epiphanites. Pavia was
          immediately besieged, the  fortifications  were stormed, the
          town was pillaged;  and  although  the  bishop might labour,
          with much zeal and some success, to save the property of the
          church and the chastity of female captives, the tumult could
          only be appeased  by  the  execution  of  Orestes. (119)  His 
          brother Paul was  slain  in  an action near Ravenna; and the
          helpless  Augustulus,  who   could  no  longer  command  the
          respect, was reduced to implore the clemency, of Odoacer.
          That successful barbarian  was  the  son  of Edecon; who, in
          some remarkable transactions,  particularly  described  in a
          preceding chapter had been the colleague of Orestes himself.
          The honour of an ambassador should be exempt from suspicion;
          and Edecon had  listened to a conspiracy against the life of
          his sovereign. But  this  apparent guilt was expiated by his
          merit or repentance:  his  rank was eminent and conspicuous;
          he enjoyed the  favour  of  Attila; and the troops under his
          command,  who guarded  in  their  turn  the  royal  village,
          consisted of a  tribe of Sciri, his immediate and hereditary
          subjects. In the revolt of the nations they still adhered to
          the Huns; and,  more  than twelve years afterwards, the name
          of Edecon is  honourably  mentioned in their unequal contest
          with the Ostrogoths;  which was terminated, after two bloody
          battles, by the  defeat  and  dispersion  of  the Sciri.(120) 
          Their gallant leader,  who  did  not  survive  this national
          calamity, left two sons, Onulf and Odoacer, to struggle with
          adversity, and to  maintain  as  they  might,  by  rapine or
          service,  the  faithful  followers  of  their  exile.  Onulf
          directed his steps towards Constantinople, where he sullied,
          by the assassination  of  a  generous  benefactor,  the fame
          which he had  acquired  in  arms.  His brother Odoacer led a
          wandering life among  the barbarians of Noricum, with a mind
          and a fortune  suited  to the most desperate adventures; and
          when he had fixed his choice, he piously visited the cell of
          Severinus, the popular  saint of the country, to solicit his
          approbation and blessing.  The lowness of the door would not
          admit the lofty stature of Odoacer: he was obliged to stoop;
          but in that  humble  attitude  the  saint  could discern the
          symptoms of his  future  greatness;  and addressing him in a
          prophetic tone, "Pursue  (said  he)  your design; proceed to
          Italy, you will soon cast away this coarse garment of skins;
          and your wealth  will  be adequate to the liberality of your
          mind.''(121) The  barbarian, whose daring spirit accepted and 
          ratified the prediction,  was  admitted  into the service of
          the Western empire,  and soon obtained an honourable rank in
          the  guards.  His   manners  were  gradually  polished,  his
          military skill was  improved,  and the confederates of Italy
          would not have  elected  him  for  their  general unless the
          exploits of Odoacer  had  established  a high opinion of his
          courage  and  capacity.  (122)  Their  military  acclamations 
          saluted him with  the title of king, but he abstained during
          his whole reign  from  the use of the purple and diadem,(123) 
          lest he should offend those princes whose subjects, by their
          accidental mixture, had  formed  the  victorious  army which
          time and policy might insensibly unite into a great nation.
          Royalty was familiar  to  the barbarians, and the submissive
          people of Italy  was prepared to obey, without a murmur, the
          authority which he  should  condescend  to  exercise  as the
          vicegerent of the  emperor  of  the  West.  But  Odoacer had
          resolved to abolish  that  useless and expensive office; and
          such is the  weight  of  antique prejudice, that it required
          some  boldness  and  penetration  to  discover  the  extreme
          facility of the  enterprise.  The unfortunate Augustulus was
          made the instrument  of  his  own disgrace; he signified his
          resignation to the  senate; and that assembly, in their last
          act of obedience  to  a  Roman  prince,  still  affected the
          spirit of freedom  and  the  forms  of  the constitution. An
          epistle was addressed,  by  their  unanimous  decree, to the
          emperor Zeno, the  son-in-law  and successor of Leo, who had
          lately  been restored,  after  a  short  rebellion,  to  the
          Byzantine throne. They  solemnly "disclaim the necessity, or
          even  the  wish,  of  continuing  any  longer  the  Imperial
          succession in Italy; since, in their opinion, the majesty of
          a sole monarch  is sufficient to pervade and protect, at the
          same time, both  the  East  and the West. In their own name,
          and in the name of the people, they consent that the seat of
          universal  empire  shall   be   transferred   from  Rome  to
          Constantinople;  and  they  basely  renounce  the  right  of
          choosing their master, the only vestige that yet remained of
          the  authority which  had  given  laws  to  the  world.  The
          republic (they repeat  that  name  without  a  blush)  might
          safely confide in the civil and military virtues of Odoacer;
          and they humbly  request  that  the emperor would invest him
          with the title  of  Patrician, and the administration of the
          'diocese'  of  Italy."  The  deputies  of  the  senate  were
          received at Constantinople with some mark of displeasure and
          indignation: and when  they were admitted to the audience of
          Zeno, he sternly reproached them with their treatment of the
          two  emperors,  Anthemius  and  Nepos,  whom  the  East  had
          successively granted to  the  prayers  of Italy . "The first
          (continued  he) you  have  murdered;  the  second  you  have
          expelled: but the second is still alive, and whilst he lives
          he is your  lawful  sovereign."  But  the  prudent Zeno soon
          deserted the hopeless  cause of his abdicated colleague. His
          vanity was gratified  by  the  title of sole emperor, and by
          the statues erected to his honour in the several quarters of
          Rome;  he  entertained   a   friendly,   though   ambiguous,
          correspondence  with  the   'patrician'   Odoacer;   and  he
          gratefully  accepted  the   Imperial   ensigns,  the  sacred
          ornaments of the  throne and palace, which the barbarian was
          not unwilling to remove from the sight of the people.(124) 
          In the space of twenty years since the death of Valentinian,
          nine emperors had  successively  disappeared; and the son of
          Orestes, a youth  recommended  only  by his beauty, would be
          the least entitled to the notice of posterity, if his reign,
          which was marked  by  the  extinction of the Roman empire in
          the West, did  not  leave  a memorable era in the history of
          mankind.(125) The  patrician Orestes had married the daughter 
          of  Count Romulus,  of  Petovio  in  Noricum;  the  name  of
          Augustus, notwithstanding the  jealousy  of power, was known
          at Aquileia as  a  familiar surname; and the appellations of
          the two great  founders,  of  the  city and of the monarchy,
          were thus strangely  united in the last of their successors.
         (126) The son  or  Orestes  assumed and disgraced the names of 
          Romulus Augustus; but  the first was corrupted into Momyllus
          by the Greeks, and the second has been changed by the Latins
          into the contemptible  diminutive  Augustulus.  The  life of
          this inoffensive youth  was  spared by the generous clemency
          of Odoacer; who  dismissed  him, with his whole family, from
          the Imperial palace,  fixed  his  annual  allowance  at  six
          thousand  pieces  of   gold,  and  assigned  the  castle  of
          Lucullus,  in Campania,  for  the  place  of  his  exile  or
          retirement.(127) As  soon  as  the  Romans  breathed from the 
          toils of the  Punic war, they were attracted by the beauties
          and the pleasures  of Campania; and the country-house of the
          elder Scipio at  Liternum exhibited a lasting model of their
          rustic simplicity.(128)  The  delicious  shores of the bay of 
          Naples were crowded  with  villas;  and  Sylla applauded the
          masterly skill of  his  rival, who had seated himself on the
          lofty promontory of  Misenum,  that commands, on every side,
          the sea and  land,  as far as the boundaries of the horizon.
         (129) The villa of Marius was purchased within a few years, by 
          Lucullus, and the price had increased from two thousand five
          hundred, to more  than four-score thousand, pounds sterling.
         (130) It was  adorned  by the new proprietor with Grecian arts 
          and  Asiatic  treasures;  and  the  houses  and  gardens  of
          Lucullus  obtained a  distinguished  rank  in  the  list  of
          Imperial palaces.(131)  When the Vandals became formidable to 
          the seacoast, the  Lucullan  villa,  on  the  promontory  of
          Misenum, gradually assumed the strength and appellation of a
          strong castle, the  obscure  retreat  of the last emperor of
          the West. About  twenty years after that great revolution it
          was converted into  a  church  and monastery, to receive the
          bones of St.  Severinus.  They  securely reposed, amidst the
          broken trophies of  Cimbric and Armenian victories, till the
          beginning of the  tenth  century;  when  the fortifications,
          which might afford a dangerous shelter to the Saracens, were
          demolished by the people of Naples.(132) 
          Odoacer was the first barbarian who reigned in Italy, over a
          people who had  once  asserted  their just superiority above
          the rest of  mankind.  The  disgrace  of  the  Romans  still
          excites our respectful  compassion, and we fondly sympathise
          with the imaginary grief and indignation of their degenerate
          posterity. But the calamities of Italy had gradually subdued
          the proud consciousness  of freedom and glory. In the age of
          Roman virtue the provinces were subject to the arms, and the
          citizens to the  laws, of the republic, till those laws were
          subverted by civil  discord,  and  both  the  city  and  the
          provinces became the servile property of a tyrant. The forms
          of the constitution,  which  alleviated  or  disguised their
          abject slavery, were  abolished  by  time  and violence; the
          Italians alternately lamented the presence or the absence of
          the sovereigns whom  they  detested  or  despised;  and  the
          succession of five  centuries inflicted the various evils of
          military  licence,  capricious   despotism,   and  elaborate
          oppression.  During the  same  period,  the  barbarians  had
          emerged from obscurity  and  contempt,  and  the warriors of
          Germany and Scythia  were  introduced into the provinces, as
          the servants, the  allies, and at length the masters, of the
          Romans, whom they  insulted  or protected. The hatred of the
          people was suppressed by fear; they respected the spirit and
          splendour of the  martial  chiefs who were invested with the
          honours of the  empire;  and  the  fate  of  Rome  had  long
          depended on the  sword  of  those  formidable strangers. The
          stern Ricimer, who  trampled  on  the  ruins  of  Italy, had
          exercised the power,  without assuming the title, of a king;
          and  the  patient   Romans   were   insensibly  prepared  to
          acknowledge  the  royalty   of   Odoacer  and  his  barbaric
          The king of  Italy  was  not unworthy of the high station to
          which his valour  and  fortune  had  exalted him: his savage
          manners were polished  by the habits of conversation; and he
          respected,  though  a   conqueror   and   a  barbarian,  the
          institutions, and even  the  prejudices,  of  his  subjects.
          After an interval  of  seven  years,  Odoacer  restored  the
          consulship of the West. For himself he modestly, or proudly,
          declined an honour  which was still accepted by the emperors
          of the East; but the curule chair was successively filled by
          eleven of the most illustrious senators;(133) and the list is 
          adorned by the  respectable  name of Basilius, whose virtues
          claimed the friendship  and  grateful  applause of Sidonius,
          his client.(134)  The  laws  of  the  emperors  were strictly 
          enforced, and the  civil  administration  of Italy was still
          exercised by the  Praetorian  praefect  and  his subordinate
          officers. Odoacer devolved  on  the  Roman  magistrates  the
          odious and oppressive task of collecting the public revenue;
          but he reserved  for  himself  the  merit  of seasonable and
          popular indulgence.(135)  Like the rest of the barbarians, he 
          had been instructed  in the Arian heresy; but he revered the
          monastic and episcopal  characters;  and  the silence of the
          catholics attests the  toleration  which  they  enjoyed. The
          peace of the city required the interposition of his praefect
          Basilius in the  choice of a Roman pontiff: the decree which
          restrained  the  clergy  from  alienating  their  lands  was
          ultimately designed for  the  benefit  of  the people, whose
          devotion would have  been  taxed to repair the dilapidations
          of the church. (136)  Italy  was protected by the arms of its 
          conqueror;  and  its   frontiers   were   respected  by  the
          barbarians of Gaul and Germany, who had so long insulted the
          feeble race of  Theodosius. Odoacer passed the Hadriatic, to
          chastise the assassins  of the emperor Nepos, and to acquire
          the maritime province  of  Dalmatia.  He passed the Alps, to
          rescue the remains  of Noricum from Fava, or Feletheus, king
          of the Rugians,  who  held  his residence beyond the Danube.
          The king was  vanquished in battle, and led away prisoner; a
          numerous colony of  captives  and  subjects was transplanted
          into Italy; and  Rome,  after  a  long  period of defeat and
          disgrace, might claim  the  triumph of her barbarian master.

          Notwithstanding the prudence  and  success  of  Odoacer, his
          kingdom exhibited the sad prospect of misery and desolation.
          Since the age of Tiberius, the decay of agriculture had been
          felt in Italy;  and  it was a just subject of complaint that
          the life of  the  Roman  people depended on the accidents of
          the winds and  waves.(138) In the division and the decline of 
          the empire, the  tributary harvests of Egypt and Africa were
          withdrawn;  the  numbers   of  the  inhabitants  continually
          diminished with the  means  of  subsistence; and the country
          was exhausted by  the  irretrievable  losses of war, famine,
         (139) and pestilence.  St.  Ambrose has deplored the ruin of a 
          populous district, which  had  been  once  adorned  with the
          flourishing  cities  of   Bologna,   Modena,   Rhegium,  and
          Placentia.(140) Pope  Gelasius  was a subject of Odoacer; and 
          he  affirms, with  strong  exaggeration,  that  in  Aemilia,
          Tuscany, and the  adjacent  provinces. the human species was
          almost extirpated.(141) The plebians of Rome, who were fed by 
          the hand of their master, perished or disappeared as soon as
          his liberality was  suppressed;  the  decline  of  the  arts
          reduced the industrious  mechanic  to idleness and want; and
          the senators, who  might  support  with patience the ruin of
          their country, bewailed  their  private  loss  of wealth and
          luxury. One third  of those ample estates, to which the ruin
          of Italy is originally imputed,(142) was extorted for the use 
          of the conquerors.  Injuries were aggravated by insults; the
          sense of actual  sufferings  was  embittered  by the fear of
          more dreadful evils;  and  as new lands were allotted to new
          swarms of barbarians, each senator was apprehensive lest the
          arbitrary surveyors should  approach his favourite villa, or
          his most profitable  farm.  The least unfortunate were those
          who submitted without  a  murmur  to  the power which it was
          impossible to resist.  Since they desired to live, they owed
          some gratitude to the tyrant who had spared their lives; and
          since he was  the  absolute  master  of  their fortunes, the
          portion which he  left  must  be  accepted  as  his pure and
          voluntary gift.(143)  The  distress of Italy was mitigated by 
          the prudence and humanity of Odoacer, who had bound himself,
          as the price  of  his elevation, to satisfy the demands of a
          licentious  and  turbulent   multitude.  The  kings  of  the
          barbarians were frequently  resisted,  deposed, or murdered,
          by their native  subjects;  and the various bands of Italian
          mercenaries,  who  associated   under  the  standard  of  an
          elective general, claimed  a larger privilege of freedom and
          rapine.  A  monarchy   destitute   of   national  union  and
          hereditary right hastened  to its dissolution. After a reign
          of fourteen years  Odoacer  was  oppressed  by  the superior
          genius of Theodoric,  king  of  the Ostrogoths; a hero alike
          excellent in the arts of war and of government, who restored
          an age of peace and prosperity, and whose name still excites
          and deserves the attention of mankind.

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