Manners Of The Pastoral Nations. — Progress Of The Huns, From China To Europe. — Flight Of The Goths. — They Pass The Danube. — Gothic War. — Defeat And Death Of Valens. — Gratian Invests Theodosius With The Eastern Empire. — His Character And Success. — Peace And Settlement Of The Goths.
In the second year of the reign of Valentinian and Valens, on the morning of the twenty-first day of July, the greatest part of the Roman world was shaken by a violent and destructive earthquake. The impression was communicated to the waters; the shores of the Mediterranean were left dry, by the sudden retreat of the sea; great quantities of fish were caught with the hand; large vessels were stranded on the mud; and a curious spectator 1 amused his eye, or rather his fancy, by contemplating the various appearance of valleys and mountains, which had never, since the formation of the globe, been exposed to the sun. But the tide soon returned, with the weight of an immense and irresistible deluge, which was severely felt on the coasts of Sicily, of Dalmatia, of Greece, and of Egypt: large boats were transported, and lodged on the roofs of houses, or at the distance of two miles from the shore; the people, with their habitations, were swept away by the waters; and the city of Alexandria annually commemorated the fatal day, on which fifty thousand persons had lost their lives in the inundation. This calamity, the report of which was magnified from one province to another, astonished and terrified the subjects of Rome; and their affrighted imagination enlarged the real extent of a momentary evil. They recollected the preceding earthquakes, which had subverted the cities of Palestine and Bithynia: they considered these alarming strokes as the prelude only of still more dreadful calamities, and their fearful vanity was disposed to confound the symptoms of a declining empire and a sinking world. 2 It was the fashion of the times to attribute every remarkable event to the particular will of the Deity; the alterations of nature were connected, by an invisible chain, with the moral and metaphysical opinions of the human mind; and the most sagacious divines could distinguish, according to the color of their respective prejudices, that the establishment of heresy tended to produce an earthquake; or that a deluge was the inevitable consequence of the progress of sin and error. Without presuming to discuss the truth or propriety of these lofty speculations, the historian may content himself with an observation, which seems to be justified by experience, that man has much more to fear from the passions of his fellow-creatures, than from the convulsions of the elements. 3 The mischievous effects of an earthquake, or deluge, a hurricane, or the eruption of a volcano, bear a very inconsiderable portion to the ordinary calamities of war, as they are now moderated by the prudence or humanity of the princes of Europe, who amuse their own leisure, and exercise the courage of their subjects, in the practice of the military art. But the laws and manners of modern nations protect the safety and freedom of the vanquished soldier; and the peaceful citizen has seldom reason to complain, that his life, or even his fortune, is exposed to the rage of war. In the disastrous period of the fall of the Roman empire, which may justly be dated from the reign of Valens, the happiness and security of each individual were personally attacked; and the arts and labors of ages were rudely defaced by the Barbarians of Scythia and Germany. The invasion of the Huns precipitated on the provinces of the West the Gothic nation, which advanced, in less than forty years, from the Danube to the Atlantic, and opened a way, by the success of their arms, to the inroads of so many hostile tribes, more savage than themselves. The original principle of motion was concealed in the remote countries of the North; and the curious observation of the pastoral life of the Scythians, 4 or Tartars, 5 will illustrate the latent cause of these destructive emigrations.
1 Such is the bad taste of Ammianus, (xxvi. 10,) that it is not easy to distinguish his facts from his metaphors. Yet he positively affirms, that he saw the rotten carcass of a ship, ad Modon, in Peloponnesus.]
2 The earthquakes and inundations are variously described by Libanius, (Orat. de ulciscenda Juliani nece, c. x., in Fabricius, Bibl. Graec. tom. vii. p. 158, with a learned note of Olearius,) Zosimus, (l. iv. p. 221,) Sozomen, (l. vi. c. 2,) Cedrenus, (p. 310, 314,) and Jerom, (in Chron. p. 186, and tom. i. p. 250, in Vit. Hilarion.) Epidaurus must have been overwhelmed, had not the prudent citizens placed St. Hilarion, an Egyptian monk, on the beach. He made the sign of the Cross; the mountain — wave stopped, bowed, and returned.]
3 Dicaearchus, the Peripatetic, composed a formal treatise, to prove this obvious truth; which is not the most honorable to the human species. (Cicero, de Officiis, ii. 5.)]
4 The original Scythians of Herodotus (l. iv. c. 47 — 57, 99 — 101) were confined, by the Danube and the Palus Maeotis, within a square of 4000 stadia, (400 Roman miles.) See D’Anville (Mem. de l’Academie, tom. xxxv. p. 573 — 591.) Diodorus Siculus (tom. i. l. ii. p. 155, edit. Wesseling) has marked the gradual progress of the name and nation.]
5 The Tatars, or Tartars, were a primitive tribe, the rivals, and at length the subjects, of the Moguls. In the victorious armies of Zingis Khan, and his successors, the Tartars formed the vanguard; and the name, which first reached the ears of foreigners, was applied to the whole nation, (Freret, in the Hist. de l’Academie, tom. xviii. p. 60.) In speaking of all, or any of the northern shepherds of Europe, or Asia, I indifferently use the appellations of Scythians or Tartars.
Note: The Moguls, (Mongols,) according to M. Klaproth, are a tribe of the Tartar nation. Tableaux Hist. de l’Asie, p. 154. — M.]
The different characters that mark the civilized nations of the globe, may be ascribed to the use, and the abuse, of reason; which so variously shapes, and so artificially composes, the manners and opinions of a European, or a Chinese. But the operation of instinct is more sure and simple than that of reason: it is much easier to ascertain the appetites of a quadruped than the speculations of a philosopher; and the savage tribes of mankind, as they approach nearer to the condition of animals, preserve a stronger resemblance to themselves and to each other. The uniform stability of their manners is the natural consequence of the imperfection of their faculties. Reduced to a similar situation, their wants, their desires, their enjoyments, still continue the same: and the influence of food or climate, which, in a more improved state of society, is suspended, or subdued, by so many moral causes, most powerfully contributes to form, and to maintain, the national character of Barbarians. In every age, the immense plains of Scythia, or Tartary, have been inhabited by vagrant tribes of hunters and shepherds, whose indolence refuses to cultivate the earth, and whose restless spirit disdains the confinement of a sedentary life. In every age, the Scythians, and Tartars, have been renowned for their invincible courage and rapid conquests. The thrones of Asia have been repeatedly overturned by the shepherds of the North; and their arms have spread terror and devastation over the most fertile and warlike countries of Europe. 6 On this occasion, as well as on many others, the sober historian is forcibly awakened from a pleasing vision; and is compelled, with some reluctance, to confess, that the pastoral manners, which have been adorned with the fairest attributes of peace and innocence, are much better adapted to the fierce and cruel habits of a military life. To illustrate this observation, I shall now proceed to consider a nation of shepherds and of warriors, in the three important articles of, I. Their diet; II. Their habitations; and, III. Their exercises. The narratives of antiquity are justified by the experience of modern times; 7 and the banks of the Borysthenes, of the Volga, or of the Selinga, will indifferently present the same uniform spectacle of similar and native manners. 8
6 Imperium Asiae ter quaesivere: ipsi perpetuo ab alieno imperio, aut intacti aut invicti, mansere. Since the time of Justin, (ii. 2,) they have multiplied this account. Voltaire, in a few words, (tom. x. p. 64, Hist. Generale, c. 156,) has abridged the Tartar conquests.
Oft o’er the trembling nations from afar,
Has Scythia breathed the living cloud of war. *
* Gray. — M.]
7 The fourth book of Herodotus affords a curious though imperfect, portrait of the Scythians. Among the moderns, who describe the uniform scene, the Khan of Khowaresm, Abulghazi Bahadur, expresses his native feelings; and his genealogical history of the Tartars has been copiously illustrated by the French and English editors. Carpin, Ascelin, and Rubruquis (in the Hist. des Voyages, tom. vii.) represent the Moguls of the fourteenth century. To these guides I have added Gerbillon, and the other Jesuits, (Description de la China par du Halde, tom. iv.,) who accurately surveyed the Chinese Tartary; and that honest and intelligent traveller, Bell, of Antermony, (two volumes in 4to. Glasgow, 1763.)
Note: Of the various works published since the time of Gibbon, which throw fight on the nomadic population of Central Asia, may be particularly remarked the Travels and Dissertations of Pallas; and above all, the very curious work of Bergman, Nomadische Streifereyen. Riga, 1805. — M.]
8 The Uzbecks are the most altered from their primitive manners; 1. By the profession of the Mahometan religion; and 2. By the possession of the cities and harvests of the great Bucharia.]
I. The corn, or even the rice, which constitutes the ordinary and wholesome food of a civilized people, can be obtained only by the patient toil of the husbandman. Some of the happy savages, who dwell between the tropics, are plentifully nourished by the liberality of nature; but in the climates of the North, a nation of shepherds is reduced to their flocks and herds. The skilful practitioners of the medical art will determine (if they are able to determine) how far the temper of the human mind may be affected by the use of animal, or of vegetable, food; and whether the common association of carniverous and cruel deserves to be considered in any other light than that of an innocent, perhaps a salutary, prejudice of humanity. 9 Yet, if it be true, that the sentiment of compassion is imperceptibly weakened by the sight and practice of domestic cruelty, we may observe, that the horrid objects which are disguised by the arts of European refinement, are exhibited in their naked and most disgusting simplicity in the tent of a Tartarian shepherd. The ox, or the sheep, are slaughtered by the same hand from which they were accustomed to receive their daily food; and the bleeding limbs are served, with very little preparation, on the table of their unfeeling murderer. In the military profession, and especially in the conduct of a numerous army, the exclusive use of animal food appears to be productive of the most solid advantages. Corn is a bulky and perishable commodity; and the large magazines, which are indispensably necessary for the subsistence of our troops, must be slowly transported by the labor of men or horses. But the flocks and herds, which accompany the march of the Tartars, afford a sure and increasing supply of flesh and milk: in the far greater part of the uncultivated waste, the vegetation of the grass is quick and luxuriant; and there are few places so extremely barren, that the hardy cattle of the North cannot find some tolerable pasture.
The supply is multiplied and prolonged by the undistinguishing appetite, and patient abstinence, of the Tartars. They indifferently feed on the flesh of those animals that have been killed for the table, or have died of disease. Horseflesh, which in every age and country has been proscribed by the civilized nations of Europe and Asia, they devour with peculiar greediness; and this singular taste facilitates the success of their military operations. The active cavalry of Scythia is always followed, in their most distant and rapid incursions, by an adequate number of spare horses, who may be occasionally used, either to redouble the speed, or to satisfy the hunger, of the Barbarians. Many are the resources of courage and poverty. When the forage round a camp of Tartars is almost consumed, they slaughter the greatest part of their cattle, and preserve the flesh, either smoked, or dried in the sun. On the sudden emergency of a hasty march, they provide themselves with a sufficient quantity of little balls of cheese, or rather of hard curd, which they occasionally dissolve in water; and this unsubstantial diet will support, for many days, the life, and even the spirits, of the patient warrior. But this extraordinary abstinence, which the Stoic would approve, and the hermit might envy, is commonly succeeded by the most voracious indulgence of appetite. The wines of a happier climate are the most grateful present, or the most valuable commodity, that can be offered to the Tartars; and the only example of their industry seems to consist in the art of extracting from mare’s milk a fermented liquor, which possesses a very strong power of intoxication. Like the animals of prey, the savages, both of the old and new world, experience the alternate vicissitudes of famine and plenty; and their stomach is inured to sustain, without much inconvenience, the opposite extremes of hunger and of intemperance.
9 Il est certain que les grands mangeurs de viande sont en general cruels et feroces plus que les autres hommes. Cette observation est de tous les lieux, et de tous les temps: la barbarie Angloise est connue, &c. Emile de Rousseau, tom. i. p. 274. Whatever we may think of the general observation, we shall not easily allow the truth of his example. The good-natured complaints of Plutarch, and the pathetic lamentations of Ovid, seduce our reason, by exciting our sensibility.]
II. In the ages of rustic and martial simplicity, a people of soldiers and husbandmen are dispersed over the face of an extensive and cultivated country; and some time must elapse before the warlike youth of Greece or Italy could be assembled under the same standard, either to defend their own confines, or to invade the territories of the adjacent tribes. The progress of manufactures and commerce insensibly collects a large multitude within the walls of a city: but these citizens are no longer soldiers; and the arts which adorn and improve the state of civil society, corrupt the habits of the military life. The pastoral manners of the Scythians seem to unite the different advantages of simplicity and refinement. The individuals of the same tribe are constantly assembled, but they are assembled in a camp; and the native spirit of these dauntless shepherds is animated by mutual support and emulation. The houses of the Tartars are no more than small tents, of an oval form, which afford a cold and dirty habitation, for the promiscuous youth of both sexes. The palaces of the rich consist of wooden huts, of such a size that they may be conveniently fixed on large wagons, and drawn by a team perhaps of twenty or thirty oxen. The flocks and herds, after grazing all day in the adjacent pastures, retire, on the approach of night, within the protection of the camp. The necessity of preventing the most mischievous confusion, in such a perpetual concourse of men and animals, must gradually introduce, in the distribution, the order, and the guard, of the encampment, the rudiments of the military art. As soon as the forage of a certain district is consumed, the tribe, or rather army, of shepherds, makes a regular march to some fresh pastures; and thus acquires, in the ordinary occupations of the pastoral life, the practical knowledge of one of the most important and difficult operations of war. The choice of stations is regulated by the difference of the seasons: in the summer, the Tartars advance towards the North, and pitch their tents on the banks of a river, or, at least, in the neighborhood of a running stream. But in the winter, they return to the South, and shelter their camp, behind some convenient eminence, against the winds, which are chilled in their passage over the bleak and icy regions of Siberia. These manners are admirably adapted to diffuse, among the wandering tribes, the spirit of emigration and conquest. The connection between the people and their territory is of so frail a texture, that it may be broken by the slightest accident. The camp, and not the soil, is the native country of the genuine Tartar. Within the precincts of that camp, his family, his companions, his property, are always included; and, in the most distant marches, he is still surrounded by the objects which are dear, or valuable, or familiar in his eyes. The thirst of rapine, the fear, or the resentment of injury, the impatience of servitude, have, in every age, been sufficient causes to urge the tribes of Scythia boldly to advance into some unknown countries, where they might hope to find a more plentiful subsistence or a less formidable enemy. The revolutions of the North have frequently determined the fate of the South; and in the conflict of hostile nations, the victor and the vanquished have alternately drove, and been driven, from the confines of China to those of Germany. 10 These great emigrations, which have been sometimes executed with almost incredible diligence, were rendered more easy by the peculiar nature of the climate. It is well known that the cold of Tartary is much more severe than in the midst of the temperate zone might reasonably be expected; this uncommon rigor is attributed to the height of the plains, which rise, especially towards the East, more than half a mile above the level of the sea; and to the quantity of saltpetre with which the soil is deeply impregnated. 11 In the winter season, the broad and rapid rivers, that discharge their waters into the Euxine, the Caspian, or the Icy Sea, are strongly frozen; the fields are covered with a bed of snow; and the fugitive, or victorious, tribes may securely traverse, with their families, their wagons, and their cattle, the smooth and hard surface of an immense plain.
10 These Tartar emigrations have been discovered by M. de Guignes (Histoire des Huns, tom. i. ii.) a skilful and laborious interpreter of the Chinese language; who has thus laid open new and important scenes in the history of mankind.]
11 A plain in the Chinese Tartary, only eighty leagues from the great wall, was found by the missionaries to be three thousand geometrical paces above the level of the sea. Montesquieu, who has used, and abused, the relations of travellers, deduces the revolutions of Asia from this important circumstance, that heat and cold, weakness and strength, touch each other without any temperate zone, (Esprit des Loix, l. xvii. c. 3.)]
III. The pastoral life, compared with the labors of agriculture and manufactures, is undoubtedly a life of idleness; and as the most honorable shepherds of the Tartar race devolve on their captives the domestic management of the cattle, their own leisure is seldom disturbed by any servile and assiduous cares. But this leisure, instead of being devoted to the soft enjoyments of love and harmony, is use fully spent in the violent and sanguinary exercise of the chase. The plains of Tartary are filled with a strong and serviceable breed of horses, which are easily trained for the purposes of war and hunting. The Scythians of every age have been celebrated as bold and skilful riders; and constant practice had seated them so firmly on horseback, that they were supposed by strangers to perform the ordinary duties of civil life, to eat, to drink, and even to sleep, without dismounting from their steeds. They excel in the dexterous management of the lance; the long Tartar bow is drawn with a nervous arm; and the weighty arrow is directed to its object with unerring aim and irresistible force. These arrows are often pointed against the harmless animals of the desert, which increase and multiply in the absence of their most formidable enemy; the hare, the goat, the roebuck, the fallow-deer, the stag, the elk, and the antelope. The vigor and patience, both of the men and horses, are continually exercised by the fatigues of the chase; and the plentiful supply of game contributes to the subsistence, and even luxury, of a Tartar camp. But the exploits of the hunters of Scythia are not confined to the destruction of timid or innoxious beasts; they boldly encounter the angry wild boar, when he turns against his pursuers, excite the sluggish courage of the bear, and provoke the fury of the tiger, as he slumbers in the thicket. Where there is danger, there may be glory; and the mode of hunting, which opens the fairest field to the exertions of valor, may justly be considered as the image, and as the school, of war. The general hunting matches, the pride and delight of the Tartar princes, compose an instructive exercise for their numerous cavalry. A circle is drawn, of many miles in circumference, to encompass the game of an extensive district; and the troops that form the circle regularly advance towards a common centre; where the captive animals, surrounded on every side, are abandoned to the darts of the hunters. In this march, which frequently continues many days, the cavalry are obliged to climb the hills, to swim the rivers, and to wind through the valleys, without interrupting the prescribed order of their gradual progress. They acquire the habit of directing their eye, and their steps, to a remote object; of preserving their intervals of suspending or accelerating their pace, according to the motions of the troops on their right and left; and of watching and repeating the signals of their leaders. Their leaders study, in this practical school, the most important lesson of the military art; the prompt and accurate judgment of ground, of distance, and of time. To employ against a human enemy the same patience and valor, the same skill and discipline, is the only alteration which is required in real war; and the amusements of the chase serve as a prelude to the conquest of an empire. 12
12 Petit de la Croix (Vie de Gengiscan, l. iii. c. 6) represents the full glory and extent of the Mogul chase. The Jesuits Gerbillon and Verbiest followed the emperor Khamhi when he hunted in Tartary, Duhalde, Description de la Chine, tom. iv. p. 81, 290, &c., folio edit.) His grandson, Kienlong, who unites the Tartar discipline with the laws and learning of China, describes (Eloge de Moukden, p. 273 — 285) as a poet the pleasures which he had often enjoyed as a sportsman.]
The political society of the ancient Germans has the appearance of a voluntary alliance of independent warriors. The tribes of Scythia, distinguished by the modern appellation of Hords, assume the form of a numerous and increasing family; which, in the course of successive generations, has been propagated from the same original stock. The meanest, and most ignorant, of the Tartars, preserve, with conscious pride, the inestimable treasure of their genealogy; and whatever distinctions of rank may have been introduced, by the unequal distribution of pastoral wealth, they mutually respect themselves, and each other, as the descendants of the first founder of the tribe. The custom, which still prevails, of adopting the bravest and most faithful of the captives, may countenance the very probable suspicion, that this extensive consanguinity is, in a great measure, legal and fictitious. But the useful prejudice, which has obtained the sanction of time and opinion, produces the effects of truth; the haughty Barbarians yield a cheerful and voluntary obedience to the head of their blood; and their chief, or mursa, as the representative of their great father, exercises the authority of a judge in peace, and of a leader in war. In the original state of the pastoral world, each of the mursas (if we may continue to use a modern appellation) acted as the independent chief of a large and separate family; and the limits of their peculiar territories were gradually fixed by superior force, or mutual consent. But the constant operation of various and permanent causes contributed to unite the vagrant Hords into national communities, under the command of a supreme head. The weak were desirous of support, and the strong were ambitious of dominion; the power, which is the result of union, oppressed and collected the divided force of the adjacent tribes; and, as the vanquished were freely admitted to share the advantages of victory, the most valiant chiefs hastened to range themselves and their followers under the formidable standard of a confederate nation. The most successful of the Tartar princes assumed the military command, to which he was entitled by the superiority, either of merit or of power. He was raised to the throne by the acclamations of his equals; and the title of Khan expresses, in the language of the North of Asia, the full extent of the regal dignity. The right of hereditary succession was long confined to the blood of the founder of the monarchy; and at this moment all the Khans, who reign from Crimea to the wall of China, are the lineal descendants of the renowned Zingis. 13 But, as it is the indispensable duty of a Tartar sovereign to lead his warlike subjects into the field, the claims of an infant are often disregarded; and some royal kinsman, distinguished by his age and valor, is intrusted with the sword and sceptre of his predecessor. Two distinct and regular taxes are levied on the tribes, to support the dignity of the national monarch, and of their peculiar chief; and each of those contributions amounts to the tithe, both of their property, and of their spoil. A Tartar sovereign enjoys the tenth part of the wealth of his people; and as his own domestic riches of flocks and herds increase in a much larger proportion, he is able plentifully to maintain the rustic splendor of his court, to reward the most deserving, or the most favored of his followers, and to obtain, from the gentle influence of corruption, the obedience which might be sometimes refused to the stern mandates of authority. The manners of his subjects, accustomed, like himself, to blood and rapine, might excuse, in their eyes, such partial acts of tyranny, as would excite the horror of a civilized people; but the power of a despot has never been acknowledged in the deserts of Scythia. The immediate jurisdiction of the khan is confined within the limits of his own tribe; and the exercise of his royal prerogative has been moderated by the ancient institution of a national council. The Coroulai, 14 or Diet, of the Tartars, was regularly held in the spring and autumn, in the midst of a plain; where the princes of the reigning family, and the mursas of the respective tribes, may conveniently assemble on horseback, with their martial and numerous trains; and the ambitious monarch, who reviewed the strength, must consult the inclination of an armed people. The rudiments of a feudal government may be discovered in the constitution of the Scythian or Tartar nations; but the perpetual conflict of those hostile nations has sometimes terminated in the establishment of a powerful and despotic empire. The victor, enriched by the tribute, and fortified by the arms of dependent kings, has spread his conquests over Europe or Asia: the successful shepherds of the North have submitted to the confinement of arts, of laws, and of cities; and the introduction of luxury, after destroying the freedom of the people, has undermined the foundations of the throne. 15
13 See the second volume of the Genealogical History of the Tartars; and the list of the Khans, at the end of the life of Geng’s, or Zingis. Under the reign of Timur, or Tamerlane, one of his subjects, a descendant of Zingis, still bore the regal appellation of Khan and the conqueror of Asia contented himself with the title of Emir or Sultan. Abulghazi, part v. c. 4. D’Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orien tale, p. 878.]
14 See the Diets of the ancient Huns, (De Guignes, tom. ii. p. 26,) and a curious description of those of Zingis, (Vie de Gengiscan, l. i. c. 6, l. iv. c. 11.) Such assemblies are frequently mentioned in the Persian history of Timur; though they served only to countenance the resolutions of their master.]
15 Montesquieu labors to explain a difference, which has not existed, between the liberty of the Arabs, and the perpetual slavery of the Tartars. (Esprit des Loix, l. xvii. c. 5, l. xviii. c. 19, &c.)]
The memory of past events cannot long be preserved in the frequent and remote emigrations of illiterate Barbarians. The modern Tartars are ignorant of the conquests of their ancestors; 16 and our knowledge of the history of the Scythians is derived from their intercourse with the learned and civilized nations of the South, the Greeks, the Persians, and the Chinese. The Greeks, who navigated the Euxine, and planted their colonies along the sea-coast, made the gradual and imperfect discovery of Scythia; from the Danube, and the confines of Thrace, as far as the frozen Maeotis, the seat of eternal winter, and Mount Caucasus, which, in the language of poetry, was described as the utmost boundary of the earth. They celebrated, with simple credulity, the virtues of the pastoral life: 17 they entertained a more rational apprehension of the strength and numbers of the warlike Barbarians, 18 who contemptuously baffled the immense armament of Darius, the son of Hystaspes. 19 The Persian monarchs had extended their western conquests to the banks of the Danube, and the limits of European Scythia. The eastern provinces of their empire were exposed to the Scythians of Asia; the wild inhabitants of the plains beyond the Oxus and the Jaxartes, two mighty rivers, which direct their course towards the Caspian Sea. The long and memorable quarrel of Iran and Touran is still the theme of history or romance: the famous, perhaps the fabulous, valor of the Persian heroes, Rustan and Asfendiar, was signalized, in the defence of their country, against the Afrasiabs of the North; 20 and the invincible spirit of the same Barbarians resisted, on the same ground, the victorious arms of Cyrus and Alexander. 21 In the eyes of the Greeks and Persians, the real geography of Scythia was bounded, on the East, by the mountains of Imaus, or Caf; and their distant prospect of the extreme and inaccessible parts of Asia was clouded by ignorance, or perplexed by fiction. But those inaccessible regions are the ancient residence of a powerful and civilized nation, 22 which ascends, by a probable tradition, above forty centuries; 23 and which is able to verify a series of near two thousand years, by the perpetual testimony of accurate and contemporary historians. 24 The annals of China 25 illustrate the state and revolutions of the pastoral tribes, which may still be distinguished by the vague appellation of Scythians, or Tartars; the vassals, the enemies, and sometimes the conquerors, of a great empire; whose policy has uniformly opposed the blind and impetuous valor of the Barbarians of the North. From the mouth of the Danube to the Sea of Japan, the whole longitude of Scythia is about one hundred and ten degrees, which, in that parallel, are equal to more than five thousand miles. The latitude of these extensive deserts cannot be so easily, or so accurately, measured; but, from the fortieth degree, which touches the wall of China, we may securely advance above a thousand miles to the northward, till our progress is stopped by the excessive cold of Siberia. In that dreary climate, instead of the animated picture of a Tartar camp, the smoke that issues from the earth, or rather from the snow, betrays the subterraneous dwellings of the Tongouses, and the Samoides: the want of horses and oxen is imperfectly supplied by the use of reindeer, and of large dogs; and the conquerors of the earth insensibly degenerate into a race of deformed and diminutive savages, who tremble at the sound of arms. 26
16 Abulghasi Khan, in the two first parts of his Genealogical History, relates the miserable tales and traditions of the Uzbek Tartars concerning the times which preceded the reign of Zingis.
Note: The differences between the various pastoral tribes and nations comprehended by the ancients under the vague name of Scythians, and by Gibbon under inst of Tartars, have received some, and still, perhaps, may receive more, light from the comparisons of their dialects and languages by modern scholars. — M]
17 In the thirteenth book of the Iliad, Jupiter turns away his eyes from the bloody fields of Troy, to the plains of Thrace and Scythia. He would not, by changing the prospect, behold a more peaceful or innocent scene.]
18 Thucydides, l. ii. c. 97.]
19 See the fourth book of Herodotus. When Darius advanced into the Moldavian desert, between the Danube and the Niester, the king of the Scythians sent him a mouse, a frog, a bird, and five arrows; a tremendous allegory!]
20 These wars and heroes may be found under their respective titles, in the Bibliotheque Orientale of D’Herbelot. They have been celebrated in an epic poem of sixty thousand rhymed couplets, by Ferdusi, the Homer of Persia. See the history of Nadir Shah, p. 145, 165. The public must lament that Mr. Jones has suspended the pursuit of Oriental learning.
Note: Ferdusi is yet imperfectly known to European readers. An abstract of the whole poem has been published by Goerres in German, under the title “das Heldenbuch des Iran.” In English, an abstract with poetical translations, by Mr. Atkinson, has appeared, under the auspices of the Oriental Fund. But to translate a poet a man must be a poet. The best account of the poem is in an article by Von Hammer in the Vienna Jahrbucher, 1820: or perhaps in a masterly article in Cochrane’s Foreign Quarterly Review, No. 1, 1835. A splendid and critical edition of the whole work has been published by a very learned English Orientalist, Captain Macan, at the expense of the king of Oude. As to the number of 60,000 couplets, Captain Macan (Preface, p. 39) states that he never saw a MS. containing more than 56,685, including doubtful and spurious passages and episodes. — M.
Note: The later studies of Sir W. Jones were more in unison with the wishes of the public, thus expressed by Gibbon. — M.]
21 The Caspian Sea, with its rivers and adjacent tribes, are laboriously illustrated in the Examen Critique des Historiens d’Alexandre, which compares the true geography, and the errors produced by the vanity or ignorance of the Greeks.]
22 The original seat of the nation appears to have been in the Northwest of China, in the provinces of Chensi and Chansi. Under the two first dynasties, the principal town was still a movable camp; the villages were thinly scattered; more land was employed in pasture than in tillage; the exercise of hunting was ordained to clear the country from wild beasts; Petcheli (where Pekin stands) was a desert, and the Southern provinces were peopled with Indian savages. The dynasty of the Han (before Christ 206) gave the empire its actual form and extent.]
23 The aera of the Chinese monarchy has been variously fixed from 2952 to 2132 years before Christ; and the year 2637 has been chosen for the lawful epoch, by the authority of the present emperor. The difference arises from the uncertain duration of the two first dynasties; and the vacant space that lies beyond them, as far as the real, or fabulous, times of Fohi, or Hoangti. Sematsien dates his authentic chronology from the year 841; the thirty-six eclipses of Confucius (thirty — one of which have been verified) were observed between the years 722 and 480 before Christ. The historical period of China does not ascend above the Greek Olympiads.]
24 After several ages of anarchy and despotism, the dynasty of the Han (before Christ 206) was the aera of the revival of learning. The fragments of ancient literature were restored; the characters were improved and fixed; and the future preservation of books was secured by the useful inventions of ink, paper, and the art of printing. Ninety-seven years before Christ, Sematsien published the first history of China. His labors were illustrated, and continued, by a series of one hundred and eighty historians. The substance of their works is still extant; and the most considerable of them are now deposited in the king of France’s library.]
25 China has been illustrated by the labors of the French; of the missionaries at Pekin, and Messrs. Freret and De Guignes at Paris. The substance of the three preceding notes is extracted from the Chou-king, with the preface and notes of M. de Guignes, Paris, 1770. The Tong-Kien — Kang-Mou, translated by P. de Mailla, under the name of Hist. Generale de la Chine, tom. i. p. xlix. — cc.; the Memoires sur la Chine, Paris, 1776, &c., tom. i. p. 1 — 323; tom. ii. p. 5 — 364; the Histoire des Huns, tom. i. p. 4 — 131, tom. v. p. 345 — 362; and the Memoires de l’Academie des Inscriptions, tom. x. p. 377 — 402; tom. xv. p. 495 — 564; tom. xviii. p. 178 — 295; xxxvi. p. 164 — 238.]
26 See the Histoire Generale des Voyages, tom. xviii., and the Genealogical History, vol. ii. p. 620 — 664.]
The Huns, who under the reign of Valens threatened the empire of Rome, had been formidable, in a much earlier period, to the empire of China. 27 Their ancient, perhaps their original, seat was an extensive, though dry and barren, tract of country, immediately on the north side of the great wall. Their place is at present occupied by the forty-nine Hords or Banners of the Mongous, a pastoral nation, which consists of about two hundred thousand families. 28 But the valor of the Huns had extended the narrow limits of their dominions; and their rustic chiefs, who assumed the appellation of Tanjou, gradually became the conquerors, and the sovereigns of a formidable empire. Towards the East, their victorious arms were stopped only by the ocean; and the tribes, which are thinly scattered between the Amoor and the extreme peninsula of Corea, adhered, with reluctance, to the standard of the Huns. On the West, near the head of the Irtish, in the valleys of Imaus, they found a more ample space, and more numerous enemies. One of the lieutenants of the Tanjou subdued, in a single expedition, twenty-six nations; the Igours, 29 distinguished above the Tartar race by the use of letters, were in the number of his vassals; and, by the strange connection of human events, the flight of one of those vagrant tribes recalled the victorious Parthians from the invasion of Syria. 30 On the side of the North, the ocean was assigned as the limit of the power of the Huns. Without enemies to resist their progress, or witnesses to contradict their vanity, they might securely achieve a real, or imaginary, conquest of the frozen regions of Siberia. The Northren Sea was fixed as the remote boundary of their empire. But the name of that sea, on whose shores the patriot Sovou embraced the life of a shepherd and an exile, 31 may be transferred, with much more probability, to the Baikal, a capacious basin, above three hundred miles in length, which disdains the modest appellation of a lake 32 and which actually communicates with the seas of the North, by the long course of the Angara, the Tongusha, and the Jenissea. The submission of so many distant nations might flatter the pride of the Tanjou; but the valor of the Huns could be rewarded only by the enjoyment of the wealth and luxury of the empire of the South. In the third century † before the Christian aera, a wall of fifteen hundred miles in length was constructed, to defend the frontiers of China against the inroads of the Huns; 33 but this stupendous work, which holds a conspicuous place in the map of the world, has never contributed to the safety of an unwarlike people. The cavalry of the Tanjou frequently consisted of two or three hundred thousand men, formidable by the matchless dexterity with which they managed their bows and their horses: by their hardy patience in supporting the inclemency of the weather; and by the incredible speed of their march, which was seldom checked by torrents, or precipices, by the deepest rivers, or by the most lofty mountains. They spread themselves at once over the face of the country; and their rapid impetuosity surprised, astonished, and disconcerted the grave and elaborate tactics of a Chinese army. The emperor Kaoti, 34 a soldier of fortune, whose personal merit had raised him to the throne, marched against the Huns with those veteran troops which had been trained in the civil wars of China. But he was soon surrounded by the Barbarians; and, after a siege of seven days, the monarch, hopeless of relief, was reduced to purchase his deliverance by an ignominious capitulation. The successors of Kaoti, whose lives were dedicated to the arts of peace, or the luxury of the palace, submitted to a more permanent disgrace. They too hastily confessed the insufficiency of arms and fortifications. They were too easily convinced, that while the blazing signals announced on every side the approach of the Huns, the Chinese troops, who slept with the helmet on their head, and the cuirass on their back, were destroyed by the incessant labor of ineffectual marches. 35 A regular payment of money, and silk, was stipulated as the condition of a temporary and precarious peace; and the wretched expedient of disguising a real tribute, under the names of a gift or subsidy, was practised by the emperors of China as well as by those of Rome. But there still remained a more disgraceful article of tribute, which violated the sacred feelings of humanity and nature. The hardships of the savage life, which destroy in their infancy the children who are born with a less healthy and robust constitution, introduced a remarkable disproportion between the numbers of the two sexes. The Tartars are an ugly and even deformed race; and while they consider their own women as the instruments of domestic labor, their desires, or rather their appetites, are directed to the enjoyment of more elegant beauty. A select band of the fairest maidens of China was annually devoted to the rude embraces of the Huns; 36 and the alliance of the haughty Tanjous was secured by their marriage with the genuine, or adopted, daughters of the Imperial family, which vainly attempted to escape the sacrilegious pollution. The situation of these unhappy victims is described in the verses of a Chinese princess, who laments that she had been condemned by her parents to a distant exile, under a Barbarian husband; who complains that sour milk was her only drink, raw flesh her only food, a tent her only palace; and who expresses, in a strain of pathetic simplicity, the natural wish, that she were transformed into a bird, to fly back to her dear country; the object of her tender and perpetual regret. 37
27 M. de Guignes (tom. ii. p. 1 — 124) has given the original history of the ancient Hiong-nou, or Huns. The Chinese geography of their country (tom. i. part. p. lv. — lxiii.) seems to comprise a part of their conquests.
Note: The theory of De Guignes on the early history of the Huns is, in general, rejected by modern writers. De Guignes advanced no valid proof of the identity of the Hioung-nou of the Chinese writers with the Huns, except the similarity of name.
Schlozer, (Allgemeine Nordische Geschichte, p. 252,) Klaproth, (Tableaux Historiques de l’Asie, p. 246,) St. Martin, iv. 61, and A. Remusat, (Recherches sur les Langues Tartares, D. P. xlvi, and p. 328; though in the latter passage he considers the theory of De Guignes not absolutely disproved,) concur in considering the Huns as belonging to the Finnish stock, distinct from the Moguls the Mandscheus, and the Turks. The Hiong-nou, according to Klaproth, were Turks. The names of the Hunnish chiefs could not be pronounced by a Turk; and, according to the same author, the Hioung-nou, which is explained in Chinese as detestable slaves, as early as the year 91 J. C., were dispersed by the Chinese, and assumed the name of Yue-po or Yue-pan. M. St. Martin does not consider it impossible that the appellation of Hioung-nou may have belonged to the Huns. But all agree in considering the Madjar or Magyar of modern Hungary the descendants of the Huns. Their language (compare Gibbon, c. lv. n. 22) is nearly related to the Lapponian and Vogoul. The noble forms of the modern Hungarians, so strongly contrasted with the hideous pictures which the fears and the hatred of the Romans give of the Huns, M. Klaproth accounts for by the intermingling with other races, Turkish and Slavonian. The present state of the question is thus stated in the last edition of Malte Brun, and a new and ingenious hypothesis suggested to resolve all the difficulties of the question.
Were the Huns Finns? This obscure question has not been debated till very recently, and is yet very far from being decided. We are of opinion that it will be so hereafter in the same manner as that with regard to the Scythians. We shall trace in the portrait of Attila a dominant tribe or Mongols, or Kalmucks, with all the hereditary ugliness of that race; but in the mass of the Hunnish army and nation will be recognized the Chuni and the Ounni of the Greek Geography. the Kuns of the Hungarians, the European Huns, and a race in close relationship with the Flemish stock. Malte Brun, vi. p. 94. This theory is more fully and ably developed, p. 743. Whoever has seen the emperor of Austria’s Hungarian guard, will not readily admit their descent from the Huns described by Sidonius Appolinaris. — M]
28 See in Duhalde (tom. iv. p. 18 — 65) a circumstantial description, with a correct map, of the country of the Mongous.]
29 The Igours, or Vigours, were divided into three branches; hunters, shepherds, and husbandmen; and the last class was despised by the two former. See Abulghazi, part ii. c. 7.
Note: On the Ouigour or Igour characters, see the work of M. A. Remusat, Sur les Langues Tartares. He conceives the Ouigour alphabet of sixteen letters to have been formed from the Syriac, and introduced by the Nestorian Christians. — Ch. ii. M.]
30 Memoires de l’Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xxv. p. 17 — 33. The comprehensive view of M. de Guignes has compared these distant events.]
31 The fame of Sovou, or So-ou, his merit, and his singular adventurers, are still celebrated in China. See the Eloge de Moukden, p. 20, and notes, p. 241 — 247; and Memoires sur la Chine, tom. iii. p. 317 — 360.]
32 See Isbrand Ives in Harris’s Collection, vol. ii. p. 931; Bell’s Travels, vol. i. p. 247 — 254; and Gmelin, in the Hist. Generale des Voyages, tom. xviii. 283 — 329. They all remark the vulgar opinion that the holy sea grows angry and tempestuous if any one presumes to call it a lake. This grammatical nicety often excites a dispute between the absurd superstition of the mariners and the absurd obstinacy of travellers.]
† 224 years before Christ. It was built by Chi-hoang-ti of the Dynasty Thsin. It is from twenty to twenty-five feet high. Ce monument, aussi gigantesque qu’impuissant, arreterait bien les incursions de quelques Nomades; mais il n’a jamais empeche les invasions des Turcs, des Mongols, et des Mandchous. Abe Remusat Rech. Asiat. 2d ser. vol. i. p. 58 — M.]
33 The construction of the wall of China is mentioned by Duhalde (tom. ii. p. 45) and De Guignes, (tom. ii. p. 59.)]
34 See the life of Lieoupang, or Kaoti, in the Hist, de la Chine, published at Paris, 1777, &c., tom. i. p. 442 — 522.
This voluminous work is the translation (by the P. de Mailla) of the Tong-Kien — Kang-Mou, the celebrated abridgment of the great History of Semakouang (A.D. 1084) and his continuators.]
35 See a free and ample memorial, presented by a Mandarin to the emperor Venti, (before Christ 180 — 157,) in Duhalde, (tom. ii. p. 412 — 426,) from a collection of State papers marked with the red pencil by Kamhi himself, (p. 354 — 612.) Another memorial from the minister of war (Kang — Mou, tom. ii. p 555) supplies some curious circumstances of the manners of the Huns.]
36 A supply of women is mentioned as a customary article of treaty and tribute, (Hist. de la Conquete de la Chine, par les Tartares Mantcheoux, tom. i. p. 186, 187, with the note of the editor.)]
37 De Guignes, Hist. des Huns, tom. ii. p. 62.]
The conquest of China has been twice achieved by the pastoral tribes of the North: the forces of the Huns were not inferior to those of the Moguls, or of the Mantcheoux; and their ambition might entertain the most sanguine hopes of success. But their pride was humbled, and their progress was checked, by the arms and policy of Vouti, 38 the fifth emperor of the powerful dynasty of the Han. In his long reign of fifty-four years, the Barbarians of the southern provinces submitted to the laws and manners of China; and the ancient limits of the monarchy were enlarged, from the great river of Kiang, to the port of Canton. Instead of confining himself to the timid operations of a defensive war, his lieutenants penetrated many hundred miles into the country of the Huns. In those boundless deserts, where it is impossible to form magazines, and difficult to transport a sufficient supply of provisions, the armies of Vouti were repeatedly exposed to intolerable hardships: and, of one hundred and forty thousand soldiers, who marched against the Barbarians, thirty thousand only returned in safety to the feet of their master. These losses, however, were compensated by splendid and decisive success. The Chinese generals improved the superiority which they derived from the temper of their arms, their chariots of war, and the service of their Tartar auxiliaries. The camp of the Tanjou was surprised in the midst of sleep and intemperance; and, though the monarch of the Huns bravely cut his way through the ranks of the enemy, he left above fifteen thousand of his subjects on the field of battle. Yet this signal victory, which was preceded and followed by many bloody engagements, contributed much less to the destruction of the power of the Huns than the effectual policy which was employed to detach the tributary nations from their obedience. Intimidated by the arms, or allured by the promises, of Vouti and his successors, the most considerable tribes, both of the East and of the West, disclaimed the authority of the Tanjou. While some acknowledged themselves the allies or vassals of the empire, they all became the implacable enemies of the Huns; and the numbers of that haughty people, as soon as they were reduced to their native strength, might, perhaps, have been contained within the walls of one of the great and populous cities of China. 39 The desertion of his subjects, and the perplexity of a civil war, at length compelled the Tanjou himself to renounce the dignity of an independent sovereign, and the freedom of a warlike and high-spirited nation.
He was received at Sigan, the capital of the monarchy, by the troops, the mandarins, and the emperor himself, with all the honors that could adorn and disguise the triumph of Chinese vanity. 40 A magnificent palace was prepared for his reception; his place was assigned above all the princes of the royal family; and the patience of the Barbarian king was exhausted by the ceremonies of a banquet, which consisted of eight courses of meat, and of nine solemn pieces of music. But he performed, on his knees, the duty of a respectful homage to the emperor of China; pronounced, in his own name, and in the name of his successors, a perpetual oath of fidelity; and gratefully accepted a seal, which was bestowed as the emblem of his regal dependence.
After this humiliating submission, the Tanjous sometimes departed from their allegiance and seized the favorable moments of war and rapine; but the monarchy of the Huns gradually declined, till it was broken, by civil dissension, into two hostile and separate kingdoms. One of the princes of the nation was urged, by fear and ambition, to retire towards the South with eight hords, which composed between forty and fifty thousand families. He obtained, with the title of Tanjou, a convenient territory on the verge of the Chinese provinces; and his constant attachment to the service of the empire was secured by weakness, and the desire of revenge.
From the time of this fatal schism, the Huns of the North continued to languish about fifty years; till they were oppressed on every side by their foreign and domestic enemies. The proud inscription 41 of a column, erected on a lofty mountain, announced to posterity, that a Chinese army had marched seven hundred miles into the heart of their country. The Sienpi, 42 a tribe of Oriental Tartars, retaliated the injuries which they had formerly sustained; and the power of the Tanjous, after a reign of thirteen hundred years, was utterly destroyed before the end of the first century of the Christian aera. 43
38 See the reign of the emperor Vouti, in the Kang-Mou, tom. iii. p. 1 — 98. His various and inconsistent character seems to be impartially drawn.]
39 This expression is used in the memorial to the emperor Venti, (Duhalde, tom. ii. p. 411.) Without adopting the exaggerations of Marco Polo and Isaac Vossius, we may rationally allow for Pekin two millions of inhabitants. The cities of the South, which contain the manufactures of China, are still more populous.]
40 See the Kang-Mou, tom. iii. p. 150, and the subsequent events under the proper years. This memorable festival is celebrated in the Eloge de Moukden, and explained in a note by the P. Gaubil, p. 89, 90.]
41 This inscription was composed on the spot by Parkou, President of the Tribunal of History (Kang-Mou, tom. iii. p. 392.) Similar monuments have been discovered in many parts of Tartary, (Histoire des Huns, tom. ii. p. 122.)]
42 M. de Guignes (tom. i. p. 189) has inserted a short account of the Sienpi.]
43 The aera of the Huns is placed, by the Chinese, 1210 years before Christ. But the series of their kings does not commence till the year 230, (Hist. des Huns, tom. ii. p. 21, 123.)]
The fate of the vanquished Huns was diversified by the various influence of character and situation. 44 Above one hundred thousand persons, the poorest, indeed, and the most pusillanimous of the people, were contented to remain in their native country, to renounce their peculiar name and origin, and to mingle with the victorious nation of the Sienpi. Fifty-eight hords, about two hundred thousand men, ambitious of a more honorable servitude, retired towards the South; implored the protection of the emperors of China; and were permitted to inhabit, and to guard, the extreme frontiers of the province of Chansi and the territory of Ortous. But the most warlike and powerful tribes of the Huns maintained, in their adverse fortune, the undaunted spirit of their ancestors. The Western world was open to their valor; and they resolved, under the conduct of their hereditary chieftains, to conquer and subdue some remote country, which was still inaccessible to the arms of the Sienpi, and to the laws of China. 45 The course of their emigration soon carried them beyond the mountains of Imaus, and the limits of the Chinese geography; but we are able to distinguish the two great divisions of these formidable exiles, which directed their march towards the Oxus, and towards the Volga. The first of these colonies established their dominion in the fruitful and extensive plains of Sogdiana, on the eastern side of the Caspian; where they preserved the name of Huns, with the epithet of Euthalites, or Nepthalites. * Their manners were softened, and even their features were insensibly improved, by the mildness of the climate, and their long residence in a flourishing province, 46 which might still retain a faint impression of the arts of Greece. 47 The white Huns, a name which they derived from the change of their complexions, soon abandoned the pastoral life of Scythia. Gorgo, which, under the appellation of Carizme, has since enjoyed a temporary splendor, was the residence of the king, who exercised a legal authority over an obedient people. Their luxury was maintained by the labor of the Sogdians; and the only vestige of their ancient barbarism, was the custom which obliged all the companions, perhaps to the number of twenty, who had shared the liberality of a wealthy lord, to be buried alive in the same grave. 48 The vicinity of the Huns to the provinces of Persia, involved them in frequent and bloody contests with the power of that monarchy. But they respected, in peace, the faith of treaties; in war, she dictates of humanity; and their memorable victory over Peroses, or Firuz, displayed the moderation, as well as the valor, of the Barbarians. The second division of their countrymen, the Huns, who gradually advanced towards the North-west, were exercised by the hardships of a colder climate, and a more laborious march. Necessity compelled them to exchange the silks of China for the furs of Siberia; the imperfect rudiments of civilized life were obliterated; and the native fierceness of the Huns was exasperated by their intercourse with the savage tribes, who were compared, with some propriety, to the wild beasts of the desert. Their independent spirit soon rejected the hereditary succession of the Tanjous; and while each horde was governed by its peculiar mursa, their tumultuary council directed the public measures of the whole nation. As late as the thirteenth century, their transient residence on the eastern banks of the Volga was attested by the name of Great Hungary. 49 In the winter, they descended with their flocks and herds towards the mouth of that mighty river; and their summer excursions reached as high as the latitude of Saratoff, or perhaps the conflux of the Kama. Such at least were the recent limits of the black Calmucks, 50 who remained about a century under the protection of Russia; and who have since returned to their native seats on the frontiers of the Chinese empire. The march, and the return, of those wandering Tartars, whose united camp consists of fifty thousand tents or families, illustrate the distant emigrations of the ancient Huns. 51
44 The various accidents, the downfall, and the flight of the Huns, are related in the Kang-Mou, tom. iii. p. 88, 91, 95, 139, &c. The small numbers of each horde may be due to their losses and divisions.]
45 M. de Guignes has skilfully traced the footsteps of the Huns through the vast deserts of Tartary, (tom. ii. p. 123, 277, &c., 325, &c.)]
* The Armenian authors often mention this people under the name of Hepthal. St. Martin considers that the name of Nepthalites is an error of a copyist. St. Martin, iv. 254. — M.]
46 Mohammed, sultan of Carizme, reigned in Sogdiana when it was invaded (A.D. 1218) by Zingis and his moguls. The Oriental historians (see D’Herbelot, Petit de la Croix, &c.,) celebrate the populous cities which he ruined, and the fruitful country which he desolated. In the next century, the same provinces of Chorasmia and Nawaralnahr were described by Abulfeda, (Hudson, Geograph. Minor. tom. iii.) Their actual misery may be seen in the Genealogical History of the Tartars, p. 423 — 469.]
47 Justin (xli. 6) has left a short abridgment of the Greek kings of Bactriana. To their industry I should ascribe the new and extraordinary trade, which transported the merchandises of India into Europe, by the Oxus, the Caspian, the Cyrus, the Phasis, and the Euxine. The other ways, both of the land and sea, were possessed by the Seleucides and the Ptolemies. (See l’Esprit des Loix, l. xxi.)]
48 Procopius de Bell. Persico, l. i. c. 3, p. 9.]
49 In the thirteenth century, the monk Rubruquis (who traversed the immense plain of Kipzak, in his journey to the court of the Great Khan) observed the remarkable name of Hungary, with the traces of a common language and origin, Hist. des Voyages, tom. vii. p. 269.)]
50 Bell, (vol. i. p. 29 — 34,) and the editors of the Genealogical History, (p. 539,) have described the Calmucks of the Volga in the beginning of the present century.]
51 This great transmigration of 300,000 Calmucks, or Torgouts, happened in the year 1771. The original narrative of Kien-long, the reigning emperor of China, which was intended for the inscription of a column, has been translated by the missionaries of Pekin, (Memoires sur la Chine, tom. i. p. 401 — 418.) The emperor affects the smooth and specious language of the Son of Heaven, and the Father of his People.]
It is impossible to fill the dark interval of time, which elapsed, after the Huns of the Volga were lost in the eyes of the Chinese, and before they showed themselves to those of the Romans. There is some reason, however, to apprehend, that the same force which had driven them from their native seats, still continued to impel their march towards the frontiers of Europe. The power of the Sienpi, their implacable enemies, which extended above three thousand miles from East to West, 52 must have gradually oppressed them by the weight and terror of a formidable neighborhood; and the flight of the tribes of Scythia would inevitably tend to increase the strength or to contract the territories, of the Huns. The harsh and obscure appellations of those tribes would offend the ear, without informing the understanding, of the reader; but I cannot suppress the very natural suspicion, that the Huns of the North derived a considerable reenforcement from the ruin of the dynasty of the South, which, in the course of the third century, submitted to the dominion of China; that the bravest warriors marched away in search of their free and adventurous countrymen; and that, as they had been divided by prosperity, they were easily reunited by the common hardships of their adverse fortune. 53 The Huns, with their flocks and herds, their wives and children, their dependents and allies, were transported to the west of the Volga, and they boldly advanced to invade the country of the Alani, a pastoral people, who occupied, or wasted, an extensive tract of the deserts of Scythia. The plains between the Volga and the Tanais were covered with the tents of the Alani, but their name and manners were diffused over the wide extent of their conquests; and the painted tribes of the Agathyrsi and Geloni were confounded among their vassals. Towards the North, they penetrated into the frozen regions of Siberia, among the savages who were accustomed, in their rage or hunger, to the taste of human flesh; and their Southern inroads were pushed as far as the confines of Persia and India. The mixture of Samartic and German blood had contributed to improve the features of the Alani, * to whiten their swarthy complexions, and to tinge their hair with a yellowish cast, which is seldom found in the Tartar race. They were less deformed in their persons, less brutish in their manners, than the Huns; but they did not yield to those formidable Barbarians in their martial and independent spirit; in the love of freedom, which rejected even the use of domestic slaves; and in the love of arms, which considered war and rapine as the pleasure and the glory of mankind. A naked cimeter, fixed in the ground, was the only object of their religious worship; the scalps of their enemies formed the costly trappings of their horses; and they viewed, with pity and contempt, the pusillanimous warriors, who patiently expected the infirmities of age, and the tortures of lingering disease. 54 On the banks of the Tanais, the military power of the Huns and the Alani encountered each other with equal valor, but with unequal success. The Huns prevailed in the bloody contest; the king of the Alani was slain; and the remains of the vanquished nation were dispersed by the ordinary alternative of flight or submission. 55 A colony of exiles found a secure refuge in the mountains of Caucasus, between the Euxine and the Caspian, where they still preserve their name and their independence. Another colony advanced, with more intrepid courage, towards the shores of the Baltic; associated themselves with the Northern tribes of Germany; and shared the spoil of the Roman provinces of Gaul and Spain. But the greatest part of the nation of the Alani embraced the offers of an honorable and advantageous union; and the Huns, who esteemed the valor of their less fortunate enemies, proceeded, with an increase of numbers and confidence, to invade the limits of the Gothic empire.
52 The Khan-Mou (tom. iii. p. 447) ascribes to their conquests a space of 14,000 lis. According to the present standard, 200 lis (or more accurately 193) are equal to one degree of latitude; and one English mile consequently exceeds three miles of China. But there are strong reasons to believe that the ancient li scarcely equalled one half of the modern. See the elaborate researches of M. D’Anville, a geographer who is not a stranger in any age or climate of the globe. (Memoires de l’Acad. tom. ii. p. 125-502. Itineraires, p. 154-167.]
53 See Histoire des Huns, tom. ii. p. 125 — 144. The subsequent history (p. 145 — 277) of three or four Hunnic dynasties evidently proves that their martial spirit was not impaired by a long residence in China.]
* Compare M. Klaproth’s curious speculations on the Alani. He supposes them to have been the people, known by the Chinese, at the time of their first expeditions to the West, under the name of Yath-sai or A-lanna, the Alanan of Persian tradition, as preserved in Ferdusi; the same, according to Ammianus, with the Massagetae, and with the Albani. The remains of the nation still exist in the Ossetae of Mount Caucasus. Klaproth, Tableaux Historiques de l’Asie, p. 174. — M. Compare Shafarik Slawische alterthumer, i. p. 350. — M. 1845.]
54 Utque hominibus quietis et placidis otium est voluptabile, ita illos pericula juvent et bella. Judicatur ibi beatus qui in proelio profuderit animam: senescentes etiam et fortuitis mortibus mundo digressos, ut degeneres et ignavos, conviciis atrocibus insectantur. [Ammian. xxxi. 11.] We must think highly of the conquerors of such men.]
55 On the subject of the Alani, see Ammianus, (xxxi. 2,) Jornandes, (de Rebus Geticis, c. 24,) M. de Guignes, (Hist. des Huns, tom. ii. p. 279,) and the Genealogical History of the Tartars, (tom. ii. p. 617.)]
The great Hermanric, whose dominions extended from the Baltic to the Euxine, enjoyed, in the full maturity of age and reputation, the fruit of his victories, when he was alarmed by the formidable approach of a host of unknown enemies, 56 on whom his barbarous subjects might, without injustice, bestow the epithet of Barbarians. The numbers, the strength, the rapid motions, and the implacable cruelty of the Huns, were felt, and dreaded, and magnified, by the astonished Goths; who beheld their fields and villages consumed with flames, and deluged with indiscriminate slaughter. To these real terrors they added the surprise and abhorrence which were excited by the shrill voice, the uncouth gestures, and the strange deformity of the Huns. * These savages of Scythia were compared (and the picture had some resemblance) to the animals who walk very awkwardly on two legs and to the misshapen figures, the Termini, which were often placed on the bridges of antiquity. They were distinguished from the rest of the human species by their broad shoulders, flat noses, and small black eyes, deeply buried in the head; and as they were almost destitute of beards, they never enjoyed either the manly grace of youth, or the venerable aspect of age. 57 A fabulous origin was assigned, worthy of their form and manners; that the witches of Scythia, who, for their foul and deadly practices, had been driven from society, had copulated in the desert with infernal spirits; and that the Huns were the offspring of this execrable conjunction. 58 The tale, so full of horror and absurdity, was greedily embraced by the credulous hatred of the Goths; but, while it gratified their hatred, it increased their fear, since the posterity of daemons and witches might be supposed to inherit some share of the praeternatural powers, as well as of the malignant temper, of their parents. Against these enemies, Hermanric prepared to exert the united forces of the Gothic state; but he soon discovered that his vassal tribes, provoked by oppression, were much more inclined to second, than to repel, the invasion of the Huns. One of the chiefs of the Roxolani 59 had formerly deserted the standard of Hermanric, and the cruel tyrant had condemned the innocent wife of the traitor to be torn asunder by wild horses. The brothers of that unfortunate woman seized the favorable moment of revenge.
The aged king of the Goths languished some time after the dangerous wound which he received from their daggers; but the conduct of the war was retarded by his infirmities; and the public councils of the nation were distracted by a spirit of jealousy and discord. His death, which has been imputed to his own despair, left the reins of government in the hands of Withimer, who, with the doubtful aid of some Scythian mercenaries, maintained the unequal contest against the arms of the Huns and the Alani, till he was defeated and slain in a decisive battle. The Ostrogoths submitted to their fate; and the royal race of the Amali will hereafter be found among the subjects of the haughty Attila. But the person of Witheric, the infant king, was saved by the diligence of Alatheus and Saphrax; two warriors of approved valor and fiedlity, who, by cautious marches, conducted the independent remains of the nation of the Ostrogoths towards the Danastus, or Niester; a considerable river, which now separates the Turkish dominions from the empire of Russia. On the banks of the Niester, the prudent Athanaric, more attentive to his own than to the general safety, had fixed the camp of the Visigoths; with the firm resolution of opposing the victorious Barbarians, whom he thought it less advisable to provoke. The ordinary speed of the Huns was checked by the weight of baggage, and the encumbrance of captives; but their military skill deceived, and almost destroyed, the army of Athanaric. While the Judge of the Visigoths defended the banks of the Niester, he was encompassed and attacked by a numerous detachment of cavalry, who, by the light of the moon, had passed the river in a fordable place; and it was not without the utmost efforts of courage and conduct, that he was able to effect his retreat towards the hilly country. The undaunted general had already formed a new and judicious plan of defensive war; and the strong lines, which he was preparing to construct between the mountains, the Pruth, and the Danube, would have secured the extensive and fertile territory that bears the modern name of Walachia, from the destructive inroads of the Huns. 60 But the hopes and measures of the Judge of the Visigoths was soon disappointed, by the trembling impatience of his dismayed countrymen; who were persuaded by their fears, that the interposition of the Danube was the only barrier that could save them from the rapid pursuit, and invincible valor, of the Barbarians of Scythia. Under the command of Fritigern and Alavivus, 61 the body of the nation hastily advanced to the banks of the great river, and implored the protection of the Roman emperor of the East. Athanaric himself, still anxious to avoid the guilt of perjury, retired, with a band of faithful followers, into the mountainous country of Caucaland; which appears to have been guarded, and almost concealed, by the impenetrable forests of Transylvania. 62 *
56 As we are possessed of the authentic history of the Huns, it would be impertinent to repeat, or to refute, the fables which misrepresent their origin and progress, their passage of the mud or water of the Maeotis, in pursuit of an ox or stag, les Indes qu’ils avoient decouvertes, &c., (Zosimus, l. iv. p. 224. Sozomen, l. vi. c. 37. Procopius, Hist. Miscell. c. 5. Jornandes, c. 24. Grandeur et Decadence, &c., des Romains, c. 17.)]
* Art added to their native ugliness; in fact, it is difficult to ascribe the proper share in the features of this hideous picture to nature, to the barbarous skill with which they were self-disfigured, or to the terror and hatred of the Romans. Their noses were flattened by their nurses, their cheeks were gashed by an iron instrument, that the scars might look more fearful, and prevent the growth of the beard. Jornandes and Sidonius Apollinaris:—
Obtundit teneras circumdata fascia nares,
Ut galeis cedant.
Yet he adds that their forms were robust and manly, their height of a middle size, but, from the habit of riding, disproportioned.
Stant pectora vasta,
Insignes humer, succincta sub ilibus alvus.
Forma quidem pediti media est, procera sed extat
Si cernas equites, sic longi saepe putantur
57 Prodigiosae formae, et pandi; ut bipedes existimes bestias; vel quales in commarginandis pontibus, effigiati stipites dolantur incompte. Ammian. xxxi. i. Jornandes (c. 24) draws a strong caricature of a Calmuck face. Species pavenda nigredine . . . quaedam deformis offa, non fecies; habensque magis puncta quam lumina. See Buffon. Hist. Naturelle, tom. iii. 380.]
58 This execrable origin, which Jornandes (c. 24) describes with the rancor of a Goth, might be originally derived from a more pleasing fable of the Greeks. (Herodot. l. iv. c. 9, &c.)]
59 The Roxolani may be the fathers of the the Russians, (D’Anville, Empire de Russie, p. 1 — 10,) whose residence (A.D. 862) about Novogrod Veliki cannot be very remote from that which the Geographer of Ravenna (i. 12, iv. 4, 46, v. 28, 30) assigns to the Roxolani, (A.D. 886.)
Note: See, on the origin of the Russ, Schlozer, Nordische Geschichte, p. 78 — M.]
60 The text of Ammianus seems to be imperfect or corrupt; but the nature of the ground explains, and almost defines, the Gothic rampart. Memoires de l’Academie, &c., tom. xxviii. p. 444 — 462.]
61 M. de Buat (Hist. des Peuples de l’Europe, tom. vi. p. 407) has conceived a strange idea, that Alavivus was the same person as Ulphilas, the Gothic bishop; and that Ulphilas, the grandson of a Cappadocian captive, became a temporal prince of the Goths.]
62 Ammianus (xxxi. 3) and Jornandes (de Rebus Geticis, c. 24) describe the subversion of the Gothic empire by the Huns.]
* The most probable opinion as to the position of this land is that of M. Malte-Brun. He thinks that Caucaland is the territory of the Cacoenses, placed by Ptolemy (l. iii. c. 8) towards the Carpathian Mountains, on the side of the present Transylvania, and therefore the canton of Cacava, to the south of Hermanstadt, the capital of the principality. Caucaland it is evident, is the Gothic form of these different names. St. Martin, iv 103. — M.]
After Valens had terminated the Gothic war with some appearance of glory and success, he made a progress through his dominions of Asia, and at length fixed his residence in the capital of Syria. The five years 63 which he spent at Antioch was employed to watch, from a secure distance, the hostile designs of the Persian monarch; to check the depredations of the Saracens and Isaurians; 64 to enforce, by arguments more prevalent than those of reason and eloquence, the belief of the Arian theology; and to satisfy his anxious suspicions by the promiscuous execution of the innocent and the guilty. But the attention of the emperor was most seriously engaged, by the important intelligence which he received from the civil and military officers who were intrusted with the defence of the Danube. He was informed, that the North was agitated by a furious tempest; that the irruption of the Huns, an unknown and monstrous race of savages, had subverted the power of the Goths; and that the suppliant multitudes of that warlike nation, whose pride was now humbled in the dust, covered a space of many miles along the banks of the river. With outstretched arms, and pathetic lamentations, they loudly deplored their past misfortunes and their present danger; acknowledged that their only hope of safety was in the clemency of the Roman government; and most solemnly protested, that if the gracious liberality of the emperor would permit them to cultivate the waste lands of Thrace, they should ever hold themselves bound, by the strongest obligations of duty and gratitude, to obey the laws, and to guard the limits, of the republic. These assurances were confirmed by the ambassadors of the Goths, * who impatiently expected from the mouth of Valens an answer that must finally determine the fate of their unhappy countrymen. The emperor of the East was no longer guided by the wisdom and authority of his elder brother, whose death happened towards the end of the preceding year; and as the distressful situation of the Goths required an instant and peremptory decision, he was deprived of the favorite resources of feeble and timid minds, who consider the use of dilatory and ambiguous measures as the most admirable efforts of consummate prudence. As long as the same passions and interests subsist among mankind, the questions of war and peace, of justice and policy, which were debated in the councils of antiquity, will frequently present themselves as the subject of modern deliberation. But the most experienced statesman of Europe has never been summoned to consider the propriety, or the danger, of admitting, or rejecting, an innumerable multitude of Barbarians, who are driven by despair and hunger to solicit a settlement on the territories of a civilized nation. When that important proposition, so essentially connected with the public safety, was referred to the ministers of Valens, they were perplexed and divided; but they soon acquiesced in the flattering sentiment which seemed the most favorable to the pride, the indolence, and the avarice of their sovereign. The slaves, who were decorated with the titles of praefects and generals, dissembled or disregarded the terrors of this national emigration; so extremely different from the partial and accidental colonies, which had been received on the extreme limits of the empire. But they applauded the liberality of fortune, which had conducted, from the most distant countries of the globe, a numerous and invincible army of strangers, to defend the throne of Valens; who might now add to the royal treasures the immense sums of gold supplied by the provincials to compensate their annual proportion of recruits. The prayers of the Goths were granted, and their service was accepted by the Imperial court: and orders were immediately despatched to the civil and military governors of the Thracian diocese, to make the necessary preparations for the passage and subsistence of a great people, till a proper and sufficient territory could be allotted for their future residence. The liberality of the emperor was accompanied, however, with two harsh and rigorous conditions, which prudence might justify on the side of the Romans; but which distress alone could extort from the indignant Goths. Before they passed the Danube, they were required to deliver their arms: and it was insisted, that their children should be taken from them, and dispersed through the provinces of Asia; where they might be civilized by the arts of education, and serve as hostages to secure the fidelity of their parents.
63 The Chronology of Ammianus is obscure and imperfect. Tillemont has labored to clear and settle the annals of Valens.]
64 Zosimus, l. iv. p. 223. Sozomen, l. vi. c. 38. The Isaurians, each winter, infested the roads of Asia Minor, as far as the neighborhood of Constantinople. Basil, Epist. cel. apud Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. v. p. 106.]
* Sozomen and Philostorgius say that the bishop Ulphilas was one of these ambassadors. — M.]
During the suspense of a doubtful and distant negotiation, the impatient Goths made some rash attempts to pass the Danube, without the permission of the government, whose protection they had implored. Their motions were strictly observed by the vigilance of the troops which were stationed along the river and their foremost detachments were defeated with considerable slaughter; yet such were the timid councils of the reign of Valens, that the brave officers who had served their country in the execution of their duty, were punished by the loss of their employments, and narrowly escaped the loss of their heads. The Imperial mandate was at length received for transporting over the Danube the whole body of the Gothic nation; 65 but the execution of this order was a task of labor and difficulty. The stream of the Danube, which in those parts is above a mile broad, 66 had been swelled by incessant rains; and in this tumultuous passage, many were swept away, and drowned, by the rapid violence of the current. A large fleet of vessels, of boats, and of canoes, was provided; many days and nights they passed and repassed with indefatigable toil; and the most strenuous diligence was exerted by the officers of Valens, that not a single Barbarian, of those who were reserved to subvert the foundations of Rome, should be left on the opposite shore. It was thought expedient that an accurate account should be taken of their numbers; but the persons who were employed soon desisted, with amazement and dismay, from the prosecution of the endless and impracticable task: 67 and the principal historian of the age most seriously affirms, that the prodigious armies of Darius and Xerxes, which had so long been considered as the fables of vain and credulous antiquity, were now justified, in the eyes of mankind, by the evidence of fact and experience. A probable testimony has fixed the number of the Gothic warriors at two hundred thousand men: and if we can venture to add the just proportion of women, of children, and of slaves, the whole mass of people which composed this formidable emigration, must have amounted to near a million of persons, of both sexes, and of all ages. The children of the Goths, those at least of a distinguished rank, were separated from the multitude. They were conducted, without delay, to the distant seats assigned for their residence and education; and as the numerous train of hostages or captives passed through the cities, their gay and splendid apparel, their robust and martial figure, excited the surprise and envy of the Provincials. * But the stipulation, the most offensive to the Goths, and the most important to the Romans, was shamefully eluded. The Barbarians, who considered their arms as the ensigns of honor and the pledges of safety, were disposed to offer a price, which the lust or avarice of the Imperial officers was easily tempted to accept. To preserve their arms, the haughty warriors consented, with some reluctance, to prostitute their wives or their daughters; the charms of a beauteous maid, or a comely boy, secured the connivance of the inspectors; who sometimes cast an eye of covetousness on the fringed carpets and linen garments of their new allies, 68 or who sacrificed their duty to the mean consideration of filling their farms with cattle, and their houses with slaves. The Goths, with arms in their hands, were permitted to enter the boats; and when their strength was collected on the other side of the river, the immense camp which was spread over the plains and the hills of the Lower Maesia, assumed a threatening and even hostile aspect. The leaders of the Ostrogoths, Alatheus and Saphrax, the guardians of their infant king, appeared soon afterwards on the Northern banks of the Danube; and immediately despatched their ambassadors to the court of Antioch, to solicit, with the same professions of allegiance and gratitude, the same favor which had been granted to the suppliant Visigoths. The absolute refusal of Valens suspended their progress, and discovered the repentance, the suspicions, and the fears, of the Imperial council.
65 The passage of the Danube is exposed by Ammianus, (xxxi. 3, 4,) Zosimus, (l. iv. p. 223, 224,) Eunapius in Excerpt.
Legat. (p. 19, 20,) and Jornandes, (c. 25, 26.) Ammianus declares (c. 5) that he means only, ispas rerum digerere summitates. But he often takes a false measure of their importance; and his superfluous prolixity is disagreeably balanced by his unseasonable brevity.]
66 Chishull, a curious traveller, has remarked the breadth of the Danube, which he passed to the south of Bucharest near the conflux of the Argish, (p. 77.) He admires the beauty and spontaneous plenty of Maesia, or Bulgaria.]
Quem sci scire velit, Libyci velit aequoris idem
Discere quam multae Zephyro turbentur harenae.
Ammianus has inserted, in his prose, these lines of Virgil, (Georgia l. ii. 105,) originally designed by the poet to express the impossibility of numbering the different sorts of vines. See Plin. Hist. Natur l. xiv.]
* A very curious, but obscure, passage of Eunapius, appears to me to have been misunderstood by M. Mai, to whom we owe its discovery. The substance is as follows: “The Goths transported over the river their native deities, with their priests of both sexes; but concerning their rites they maintained a deep and ‘adamantine silence.’ To the Romans they pretended to be generally Christians, and placed certain persons to represent bishops in a conspicuous manner on their wagons. There was even among them a sort of what are called monks, persons whom it was not difficult to mimic; it was enough to wear black raiment, to be wicked, and held in respect.” (Eunapius hated the “black-robed monks,” as appears in another passage, with the cordial detestation of a heathen philosopher.) “Thus, while they faithfully but secretly adhered to their own religion, the Romans were weak enough to suppose them perfect Christians.” Mai, 277. Eunapius in Niebuhr, 82. — M]
68 Eunapius and Zosimus curiously specify these articles of Gothic wealth and luxury. Yet it must be presumed, that they were the manufactures of the provinces; which the Barbarians had acquired as the spoils of war; or as the gifts, or merchandise, of peace.]
An undisciplined and unsettled nation of Barbarians required the firmest temper, and the most dexterous management. The daily subsistence of near a million of extraordinary subjects could be supplied only by constant and skilful diligence, and might continually be interrupted by mistake or accident. The insolence, or the indignation, of the Goths, if they conceived themselves to be the objects either of fear or of contempt, might urge them to the most desperate extremities; and the fortune of the state seemed to depend on the prudence, as well as the integrity, of the generals of Valens. At this important crisis, the military government of Thrace was exercised by Lupicinus and Maximus, in whose venal minds the slightest hope of private emolument outweighed every consideration of public advantage; and whose guilt was only alleviated by their incapacity of discerning the pernicious effects of their rash and criminal administration.
Instead of obeying the orders of their sovereign, and satisfying, with decent liberality, the demands of the Goths, they levied an ungenerous and oppressive tax on the wants of the hungry Barbarians. The vilest food was sold at an extravagant price; and, in the room of wholesome and substantial provisions, the markets were filled with the flesh of dogs, and of unclean animals, who had died of disease. To obtain the valuable acquisition of a pound of bread, the Goths resigned the possession of an expensive, though serviceable, slave; and a small quantity of meat was greedily purchased with ten pounds of a precious, but useless metal, 69 when their property was exhausted, they continued this necessary traffic by the sale of their sons and daughters; and notwithstanding the love of freedom, which animated every Gothic breast, they submitted to the humiliating maxim, that it was better for their children to be maintained in a servile condition, than to perish in a state of wretched and helpless independence. The most lively resentment is excited by the tyranny of pretended benefactors, who sternly exact the debt of gratitude which they have cancelled by subsequent injuries: a spirit of discontent insensibly arose in the camp of the Barbarians, who pleaded, without success, the merit of their patient and dutiful behavior; and loudly complained of the inhospitable treatment which they had received from their new allies. They beheld around them the wealth and plenty of a fertile province, in the midst of which they suffered the intolerable hardships of artificial famine. But the means of relief, and even of revenge, were in their hands; since the rapaciousness of their tyrants had left to an injured people the possession and the use of arms. The clamors of a multitude, untaught to disguise their sentiments, announced the first symptoms of resistance, and alarmed the timid and guilty minds of Lupicinus and Maximus. Those crafty ministers, who substituted the cunning of temporary expedients to the wise and salutary counsels of general policy, attempted to remove the Goths from their dangerous station on the frontiers of the empire; and to disperse them, in separate quarters of cantonment, through the interior provinces. As they were conscious how ill they had deserved the respect, or confidence, of the Barbarians, they diligently collected, from every side, a military force, that might urge the tardy and reluctant march of a people, who had not yet renounced the title, or the duties, of Roman subjects. But the generals of Valens, while their attention was solely directed to the discontented Visigoths, imprudently disarmed the ships and the fortifications which constituted the defence of the Danube. The fatal oversight was observed, and improved, by Alatheus and Saphrax, who anxiously watched the favorable moment of escaping from the pursuit of the Huns. By the help of such rafts and vessels as could be hastily procured, the leaders of the Ostrogoths transported, without opposition, their king and their army; and boldly fixed a hostile and independent camp on the territories of the empire. 70
69 Decem libras; the word silver must be understood. Jornandes betrays the passions and prejudices of a Goth. The servile Geeks, Eunapius and Zosimus, disguise the Roman oppression, and execrate the perfidy of the Barbarians. Ammianus, a patriot historian, slightly, and reluctantly, touches on the odious subject. Jerom, who wrote almost on the spot, is fair, though concise. Per avaritaim aximi ducis, ad rebellionem fame coacti sunt, (in Chron.)
Note: A new passage from the history of Eunapius is nearer to the truth. ‘It appeared to our commanders a legitimate source of gain to be bribed by the Barbarians: Edit. Niebuhr, p. 82. — M.]
70 Ammianus, xxxi. 4, 5.]
Under the name of Judges, Alavivus and Fritigern were the leaders of the Visigoths in peace and war; and the authority which they derived from their birth was ratified by the free consent of the nation. In a season of tranquility, their power might have been equal, as well as their rank; but, as soon as their countrymen were exasperated by hunger and oppression, the superior abilities of Fritigern assumed the military command, which he was qualified to exercise for the public welfare. He restrained the impatient spirit of the Visigoths till the injuries and the insults of their tyrants should justify their resistance in the opinion of mankind: but he was not disposed to sacrifice any solid advantages for the empty praise of justice and moderation. Sensible of the benefits which would result from the union of the Gothic powers under the same standard, he secretly cultivated the friendship of the Ostrogoths; and while he professed an implicit obedience to the orders of the Roman generals, he proceeded by slow marches towards Marcianopolis, the capital of the Lower Maesia, about seventy miles from the banks of the Danube. On that fatal spot, the flames of discord and mutual hatred burst forth into a dreadful conflagration. Lupicinus had invited the Gothic chiefs to a splendid entertainment; and their martial train remained under arms at the entrance of the palace. But the gates of the city were strictly guarded, and the Barbarians were sternly excluded from the use of a plentiful market, to which they asserted their equal claim of subjects and allies. Their humble prayers were rejected with insolence and derision; and as their patience was now exhausted, the townsmen, the soldiers, and the Goths, were soon involved in a conflict of passionate altercation and angry reproaches. A blow was imprudently given; a sword was hastily drawn; and the first blood that was spilt in this accidental quarrel, became the signal of a long and destructive war. In the midst of noise and brutal intemperance, Lupicinus was informed, by a secret messenger, that many of his soldiers were slain, and despoiled of their arms; and as he was already inflamed by wine, and oppressed by sleep he issued a rash command, that their death should be revenged by the massacre of the guards of Fritigern and Alavivus.
The clamorous shouts and dying groans apprised Fritigern of his extreme danger; and, as he possessed the calm and intrepid spirit of a hero, he saw that he was lost if he allowed a moment of deliberation to the man who had so deeply injured him. “A trifling dispute,” said the Gothic leader, with a firm but gentle tone of voice, “appears to have arisen between the two nations; but it may be productive of the most dangerous consequences, unless the tumult is immediately pacified by the assurance of our safety, and the authority of our presence.” At these words, Fritigern and his companions drew their swords, opened their passage through the unresisting crowd, which filled the palace, the streets, and the gates, of Marcianopolis, and, mounting their horses, hastily vanished from the eyes of the astonished Romans. The generals of the Goths were saluted by the fierce and joyful acclamations of the camp; war was instantly resolved, and the resolution was executed without delay: the banners of the nation were displayed according to the custom of their ancestors; and the air resounded with the harsh and mournful music of the Barbarian trumpet. 71 The weak and guilty Lupicinus, who had dared to provoke, who had neglected to destroy, and who still presumed to despise, his formidable enemy, marched against the Goths, at the head of such a military force as could be collected on this sudden emergency. The Barbarians expected his approach about nine miles from Marcianopolis; and on this occasion the talents of the general were found to be of more prevailing efficacy than the weapons and discipline of the troops. The valor of the Goths was so ably directed by the genius of Fritigern, that they broke, by a close and vigorous attack, the ranks of the Roman legions. Lupicinus left his arms and standards, his tribunes and his bravest soldiers, on the field of battle; and their useless courage served only to protect the ignominious flight of their leader. “That successful day put an end to the distress of the Barbarians, and the security of the Romans: from that day, the Goths, renouncing the precarious condition of strangers and exiles, assumed the character of citizens and masters, claimed an absolute dominion over the possessors of land, and held, in their own right, the northern provinces of the empire, which are bounded by the Danube.” Such are the words of the Gothic historian, 72 who celebrates, with rude eloquence, the glory of his countrymen. But the dominion of the Barbarians was exercised only for the purposes of rapine and destruction. As they had been deprived, by the ministers of the emperor, of the common benefits of nature, and the fair intercourse of social life, they retaliated the injustice on the subjects of the empire; and the crimes of Lupicinus were expiated by the ruin of the peaceful husbandmen of Thrace, the conflagration of their villages, and the massacre, or captivity, of their innocent families. The report of the Gothic victory was soon diffused over the adjacent country; and while it filled the minds of the Romans with terror and dismay, their own hasty imprudence contributed to increase the forces of Fritigern, and the calamities of the province. Some time before the great emigration, a numerous body of Goths, under the command of Suerid and Colias, had been received into the protection and service of the empire. 73 They were encamped under the walls of Hadrianople; but the ministers of Valens were anxious to remove them beyond the Hellespont, at a distance from the dangerous temptation which might so easily be communicated by the neighborhood, and the success, of their countrymen. The respectful submission with which they yielded to the order of their march, might be considered as a proof of their fidelity; and their moderate request of a sufficient allowance of provisions, and of a delay of only two days was expressed in the most dutiful terms. But the first magistrate of Hadrianople, incensed by some disorders which had been committed at his country-house, refused this indulgence; and arming against them the inhabitants and manufacturers of a populous city, he urged, with hostile threats, their instant departure. The Barbarians stood silent and amazed, till they were exasperated by the insulting clamors, and missile weapons, of the populace: but when patience or contempt was fatigued, they crushed the undisciplined multitude, inflicted many a shameful wound on the backs of their flying enemies, and despoiled them of the splendid armor, 74 which they were unworthy to bear. The resemblance of their sufferings and their actions soon united this victorious detachment to the nation of the Visigoths; the troops of Colias and Suerid expected the approach of the great Fritigern, ranged themselves under his standard, and signalized their ardor in the siege of Hadrianople. But the resistance of the garrison informed the Barbarians, that in the attack of regular fortifications, the efforts of unskillful courage are seldom effectual. Their general acknowledged his error, raised the siege, declared that “he was at peace with stone walls,” 75 and revenged his disappointment on the adjacent country. He accepted, with pleasure, the useful reenforcement of hardy workmen, who labored in the gold mines of Thrace, 76 for the emolument, and under the lash, of an unfeeling master: 77 and these new associates conducted the Barbarians, through the secret paths, to the most sequestered places, which had been chosen to secure the inhabitants, the cattle, and the magazines of corn. With the assistance of such guides, nothing could remain impervious or inaccessible; resistance was fatal; flight was impracticable; and the patient submission of helpless innocence seldom found mercy from the Barbarian conqueror. In the course of these depredations, a great number of the children of the Goths, who had been sold into captivity, were restored to the embraces of their afflicted parents; but these tender interviews, which might have revived and cherished in their minds some sentiments of humanity, tended only to stimulate their native fierceness by the desire of revenge. They listened, with eager attention, to the complaints of their captive children, who had suffered the most cruel indignities from the lustful or angry passions of their masters, and the same cruelties, the same indignities, were severely retaliated on the sons and daughters of the Romans. 78
71 Vexillis de more sublatis, auditisque trisie sonantibus classicis. Ammian. xxxi. 5. These are the rauca cornua of Claudian, (in Rufin. ii. 57,) the large horns of the Uri, or wild bull; such as have been more recently used by the Swiss Cantons of Uri and Underwald. (Simler de Republica Helvet, l. ii. p. 201, edit. Fuselin. Tigur 1734.) Their military horn is finely, though perhaps casually, introduced in an original narrative of the battle of Nancy, (A.D. 1477.) “Attendant le combat le dit cor fut corne par trois fois, tant que le vent du souffler pouvoit durer: ce qui esbahit fort Monsieur de Bourgoigne; car deja a Morat l’avoit ouy.” (See the Pieces Justificatives in the 4to. edition of Philippe de Comines, tom. iii. p. 493.)]
72 Jornandes de Rebus Geticis, c. 26, p. 648, edit. Grot. These splendidi panm (they are comparatively such) are undoubtedly transcribed from the larger histories of Priscus, Ablavius, or Cassiodorus.]
73 Cum populis suis longe ante suscepti. We are ignorant of the precise date and circumstances of their transmigration.]
74 An Imperial manufacture of shields, &c., was established at Hadrianople; and the populace were headed by the Fabricenses, or workmen. (Vales. ad Ammian. xxxi. 6.)]
75 Pacem sibi esse cum parietibus memorans. Ammian. xxxi. 7.]
76 These mines were in the country of the Bessi, in the ridge of mountains, the Rhodope, that runs between Philippi and Philippopolis; two Macedonian cities, which derived their name and origin from the father of Alexander. From the mines of Thrace he annually received the value, not the weight, of a thousand talents, (200,000l.,) a revenue which paid the phalanx, and corrupted the orators of Greece. See Diodor. Siculus, tom. ii. l. xvi. p. 88, edit. Wesseling. Godefroy’s Commentary on the Theodosian Code, tom. iii. p. 496. Cellarius, Geograph. Antiq. tom. i. p. 676, 857. D Anville, Geographie Ancienne, tom. i. p. 336.]
77 As those unhappy workmen often ran away, Valens had enacted severe laws to drag them from their hiding-places. Cod. Theodosian, l. x. tit xix leg. 5, 7.]
78 See Ammianus, xxxi. 5, 6. The historian of the Gothic war loses time and space, by an unseasonable recapitulation of the ancient inroads of the Barbarians.]
The imprudence of Valens and his ministers had introduced into the heart of the empire a nation of enemies; but the Visigoths might even yet have been reconciled, by the manly confession of past errors, and the sincere performance of former engagements. These healing and temperate measures seemed to concur with the timorous disposition of the sovereign of the East: but, on this occasion alone, Valens was brave; and his unseasonable bravery was fatal to himself and to his subjects. He declared his intention of marching from Antioch to Constantinople, to subdue this dangerous rebellion; and, as he was not ignorant of the difficulties of the enterprise, he solicited the assistance of his nephew, the emperor Gratian, who commanded all the forces of the West. The veteran troops were hastily recalled from the defence of Armenia; that important frontier was abandoned to the discretion of Sapor; and the immediate conduct of the Gothic war was intrusted, during the absence of Valens, to his lieutenants Trajan and Profuturus, two generals who indulged themselves in a very false and favorable opinion of their own abilities. On their arrival in Thrace, they were joined by Richomer, count of the domestics; and the auxiliaries of the West, that marched under his banner, were composed of the Gallic legions, reduced indeed, by a spirit of desertion, to the vain appearances of strength and numbers. In a council of war, which was influenced by pride, rather than by reason, it was resolved to seek, and to encounter, the Barbarians, who lay encamped in the spacious and fertile meadows, near the most southern of the six mouths of the Danube. 79 Their camp was surrounded by the usual fortification of wagons; 80 and the Barbarians, secure within the vast circle of the enclosure, enjoyed the fruits of their valor, and the spoils of the province. In the midst of riotous intemperance, the watchful Fritigern observed the motions, and penetrated the designs, of the Romans. He perceived, that the numbers of the enemy were continually increasing: and, as he understood their intention of attacking his rear, as soon as the scarcity of forage should oblige him to remove his camp, he recalled to their standard his predatory detachments, which covered the adjacent country. As soon as they descried the flaming beacons, 81 they obeyed, with incredible speed, the signal of their leader: the camp was filled with the martial crowd of Barbarians; their impatient clamors demanded the battle, and their tumultuous zeal was approved and animated by the spirit of their chiefs. The evening was already far advanced; and the two armies prepared themselves for the approaching combat, which was deferred only till the dawn of day.
While the trumpets sounded to arms, the undaunted courage of the Goths was confirmed by the mutual obligation of a solemn oath; and as they advanced to meet the enemy, the rude songs, which celebrated the glory of their forefathers, were mingled with their fierce and dissonant outcries, and opposed to the artificial harmony of the Roman shout. Some military skill was displayed by Fritigern to gain the advantage of a commanding eminence; but the bloody conflict, which began and ended with the light, was maintained on either side, by the personal and obstinate efforts of strength, valor, and agility. The legions of Armenia supported their fame in arms; but they were oppressed by the irresistible weight of the hostile multitude the left wing of the Romans was thrown into disorder and the field was strewed with their mangled carcasses. This partial defeat was balanced, however, by partial success; and when the two armies, at a late hour of the evening, retreated to their respective camps, neither of them could claim the honors, or the effects, of a decisive victory. The real loss was more severely felt by the Romans, in proportion to the smallness of their numbers; but the Goths were so deeply confounded and dismayed by this vigorous, and perhaps unexpected, resistance, that they remained seven days within the circle of their fortifications. Such funeral rites, as the circumstances of time and place would admit, were piously discharged to some officers of distinguished rank; but the indiscriminate vulgar was left unburied on the plain. Their flesh was greedily devoured by the birds of prey, who in that age enjoyed very frequent and delicious feasts; and several years afterwards the white and naked bones, which covered the wide extent of the fields, presented to the eyes of Ammianus a dreadful monument of the battle of Salices. 82
79 The Itinerary of Antoninus (p. 226, 227, edit. Wesseling) marks the situation of this place about sixty miles north of Tomi, Ovid’s exile; and the name of Salices (the willows) expresses the nature of the soil.]
80 This circle of wagons, the Carrago, was the usual fortification of the Barbarians. (Vegetius de Re Militari, l. iii. c. 10. Valesius ad Ammian. xxxi. 7.) The practice and the name were preserved by their descendants as late as the fifteenth century. The Charroy, which surrounded the Ost, is a word familiar to the readers of Froissard, or Comines.]
81 Statim ut accensi malleoli. I have used the literal sense of real torches or beacons; but I almost suspect, that it is only one of those turgid metaphors, those false ornaments, that perpetually disfigure to style of Ammianus.]
82 Indicant nunc usque albentes ossibus campi. Ammian. xxxi. 7. The historian might have viewed these plains, either as a soldier, or as a traveller. But his modesty has suppressed the adventures of his own life subsequent to the Persian wars of Constantius and Julian. We are ignorant of the time when he quitted the service, and retired to Rome, where he appears to have composed his History of his Own Times.]
The progress of the Goths had been checked by the doubtful event of that bloody day; and the Imperial generals, whose army would have been consumed by the repetition of such a contest, embraced the more rational plan of destroying the Barbarians by the wants and pressure of their own multitudes. They prepared to confine the Visigoths in the narrow angle of land between the Danube, the desert of Scythia, and the mountains of Haemus, till their strength and spirit should be insensibly wasted by the inevitable operation of famine. The design was prosecuted with some conduct and success: the Barbarians had almost exhausted their own magazines, and the harvests of the country; and the diligence of Saturninus, the master-general of the cavalry, was employed to improve the strength, and to contract the extent, of the Roman fortifications. His labors were interrupted by the alarming intelligence, that new swarms of Barbarians had passed the unguarded Danube, either to support the cause, or to imitate the example, of Fritigern. The just apprehension, that he himself might be surrounded, and overwhelmed, by the arms of hostile and unknown nations, compelled Saturninus to relinquish the siege of the Gothic camp; and the indignant Visigoths, breaking from their confinement, satiated their hunger and revenge by the repeated devastation of the fruitful country, which extends above three hundred miles from the banks of the Danube to the straits of the Hellespont. 83 The sagacious Fritigern had successfully appealed to the passions, as well as to the interest, of his Barbarian allies; and the love of rapine, and the hatred of Rome, seconded, or even prevented, the eloquence of his ambassadors. He cemented a strict and useful alliance with the great body of his countrymen, who obeyed Alatheus and Saphrax as the guardians of their infant king: the long animosity of rival tribes was suspended by the sense of their common interest; the independent part of the nation was associated under one standard; and the chiefs of the Ostrogoths appear to have yielded to the superior genius of the general of the Visigoths. He obtained the formidable aid of the Taifalae, * whose military renown was disgraced and polluted by the public infamy of their domestic manners. Every youth, on his entrance into the world, was united by the ties of honorable friendship, and brutal love, to some warrior of the tribe; nor could he hope to be released from this unnatural connection, till he had approved his manhood by slaying, in single combat, a huge bear, or a wild boar of the forest. 84 But the most powerful auxiliaries of the Goths were drawn from the camp of those enemies who had expelled them from their native seats. The loose subordination, and extensive possessions, of the Huns and the Alani, delayed the conquests, and distracted the councils, of that victorious people. Several of the hords were allured by the liberal promises of Fritigern; and the rapid cavalry of Scythia added weight and energy to the steady and strenuous efforts of the Gothic infantry. The Sarmatians, who could never forgive the successor of Valentinian, enjoyed and increased the general confusion; and a seasonable irruption of the Alemanni, into the provinces of Gaul, engaged the attention, and diverted the forces, of the emperor of the West. 85
83 Ammian. xxxi. 8.]
* The Taifalae, who at this period inhabited the country which now forms the principality of Wallachia, were, in my opinion, the last remains of the great and powerful nation of the Dacians, (Daci or Dahae.) which has given its name to these regions, over which they had ruled so long. The Taifalae passed with the Goths into the territory of the empire. A great number of them entered the Roman service, and were quartered in different provinces. They are mentioned in the Notitia Imperii. There was a considerable body in the country of the Pictavi, now Poithou. They long retained their manners and language, and caused the name of the Theofalgicus pagus to be given to the district they inhabited. Two places in the department of La Vendee, Tiffanges and La Tiffardiere, still preserve evident traces of this denomination. St. Martin, iv. 118. — M.]
84 Hanc Taifalorum gentem turpem, et obscenae vitae flagitiis ita accipimus mersam; ut apud eos nefandi concubitus foedere copulentur mares puberes, aetatis viriditatem in eorum pollutis usibus consumpturi. Porro, siqui jam adultus aprum exceperit solus, vel interemit ursum immanem, colluvione liberatur incesti. Ammian. xxxi. 9.
Among the Greeks, likewise, more especially among the Cretans, the holy bands of friendship were confirmed, and sullied, by unnatural love.]
85 Ammian. xxxi. 8, 9. Jerom (tom. i. p. 26) enumerates the nations and marks a calamitous period of twenty years. This epistle to Heliodorus was composed in the year 397, (Tillemont, Mem. Eccles tom xii. p. 645.)]
One of the most dangerous inconveniences of the introduction of the Barbarians into the army and the palace, was sensibly felt in their correspondence with their hostile countrymen; to whom they imprudently, or maliciously, revealed the weakness of the Roman empire. A soldier, of the lifeguards of Gratian, was of the nation of the Alemanni, and of the tribe of the Lentienses, who dwelt beyond the Lake of Constance. Some domestic business obliged him to request a leave of absence. In a short visit to his family and friends, he was exposed to their curious inquiries: and the vanity of the loquacious soldier tempted him to display his intimate acquaintance with the secrets of the state, and the designs of his master. The intelligence, that Gratian was preparing to lead the military force of Gaul, and of the West, to the assistance of his uncle Valens, pointed out to the restless spirit of the Alemanni the moment, and the mode, of a successful invasion. The enterprise of some light detachments, who, in the month of February, passed the Rhine upon the ice, was the prelude of a more important war. The boldest hopes of rapine, perhaps of conquest, outweighed the considerations of timid prudence, or national faith. Every forest, and every village, poured forth a band of hardy adventurers; and the great army of the Alemanni, which, on their approach, was estimated at forty thousand men by the fears of the people, was afterwards magnified to the number of seventy thousand by the vain and credulous flattery of the Imperial court. The legions, which had been ordered to march into Pannonia, were immediately recalled, or detained, for the defence of Gaul; the military command was divided between Nanienus and Mellobaudes; and the youthful emperor, though he respected the long experience and sober wisdom of the former, was much more inclined to admire, and to follow, the martial ardor of his colleague; who was allowed to unite the incompatible characters of count of the domestics, and of king of the Franks. His rival Priarius, king of the Alemanni, was guided, or rather impelled, by the same headstrong valor; and as their troops were animated by the spirit of their leaders, they met, they saw, they encountered each other, near the town of Argentaria, or Colmar, 86 in the plains of Alsace. The glory of the day was justly ascribed to the missile weapons, and well-practised evolutions, of the Roman soldiers; the Alemanni, who long maintained their ground, were slaughtered with unrelenting fury; five thousand only of the Barbarians escaped to the woods and mountains; and the glorious death of their king on the field of battle saved him from the reproaches of the people, who are always disposed to accuse the justice, or policy, of an unsuccessful war. After this signal victory, which secured the peace of Gaul, and asserted the honor of the Roman arms, the emperor Gratian appeared to proceed without delay on his Eastern expedition; but as he approached the confines of the Alemanni, he suddenly inclined to the left, surprised them by his unexpected passage of the Rhine, and boldly advanced into the heart of their country. The Barbarians opposed to his progress the obstacles of nature and of courage; and still continued to retreat, from one hill to another, till they were satisfied, by repeated trials, of the power and perseverance of their enemies. Their submission was accepted as a proof, not indeed of their sincere repentance, but of their actual distress; and a select number of their brave and robust youth was exacted from the faithless nation, as the most substantial pledge of their future moderation. The subjects of the empire, who had so often experienced that the Alemanni could neither be subdued by arms, nor restrained by treaties, might not promise themselves any solid or lasting tranquillity: but they discovered, in the virtues of their young sovereign, the prospect of a long and auspicious reign. When the legions climbed the mountains, and scaled the fortifications of the Barbarians, the valor of Gratian was distinguished in the foremost ranks; and the gilt and variegated armor of his guards was pierced and shattered by the blows which they had received in their constant attachment to the person of their sovereign. At the age of nineteen, the son of Valentinian seemed to possess the talents of peace and war; and his personal success against the Alemanni was interpreted as a sure presage of his Gothic triumphs. 87
86 The field of battle, Argentaria or Argentovaria, is accurately fixed by M. D’Anville (Notice de l’Ancienne Gaule, p. 96 — 99) at twenty-three Gallic leagues, or thirty-four and a half Roman miles to the south of Strasburg. From its ruins the adjacent town of Colmar has arisen.
Note: It is rather Horburg, on the right bank of the River Ill, opposite to Colmar. From Schoepflin, Alsatia Illustrata. St. Martin, iv. 121. — M.]
87 The full and impartial narrative of Ammianus (xxxi. 10) may derive some additional light from the Epitome of Victor, the Chronicle of Jerom, and the History of Orosius, (l. vii. c. 33, p. 552, edit. Havercamp.)]
While Gratian deserved and enjoyed the applause of his subjects, the emperor Valens, who, at length, had removed his court and army from Antioch, was received by the people of Constantinople as the author of the public calamity. Before he had reposed himself ten days in the capital, he was urged by the licentious clamors of the Hippodrome to march against the Barbarians, whom he had invited into his dominions; and the citizens, who are always brave at a distance from any real danger, declared, with confidence, that, if they were supplied with arms, they alone would undertake to deliver the province from the ravages of an insulting foe. 88 The vain reproaches of an ignorant multitude hastened the downfall of the Roman empire; they provoked the desperate rashness of Valens; who did not find, either in his reputation or in his mind, any motives to support with firmness the public contempt. He was soon persuaded, by the successful achievements of his lieutenants, to despise the power of the Goths, who, by the diligence of Fritigern, were now collected in the neighborhood of Hadrianople. The march of the Taifalae had been intercepted by the valiant Frigeric: the king of those licentious Barbarians was slain in battle; and the suppliant captives were sent into distant exile to cultivate the lands of Italy, which were assigned for their settlement in the vacant territories of Modena and Parma. 89 The exploits of Sebastian, 90 who was recently engaged in the service of Valens, and promoted to the rank of master-general of the infantry, were still more honorable to himself, and useful to the republic. He obtained the permission of selecting three hundred soldiers from each of the legions; and this separate detachment soon acquired the spirit of discipline, and the exercise of arms, which were almost forgotten under the reign of Valens. By the vigor and conduct of Sebastian, a large body of the Goths were surprised in their camp; and the immense spoil, which was recovered from their hands, filled the city of Hadrianople, and the adjacent plain. The splendid narratives, which the general transmitted of his own exploits, alarmed the Imperial court by the appearance of superior merit; and though he cautiously insisted on the difficulties of the Gothic war, his valor was praised, his advice was rejected; and Valens, who listened with pride and pleasure to the flattering suggestions of the eunuchs of the palace, was impatient to seize the glory of an easy and assured conquest. His army was strengthened by a numerous reenforcement of veterans; and his march from Constantinople to Hadrianople was conducted with so much military skill, that he prevented the activity of the Barbarians, who designed to occupy the intermediate defiles, and to intercept either the troops themselves, or their convoys of provisions. The camp of Valens, which he pitched under the walls of Hadrianople, was fortified, according to the practice of the Romans, with a ditch and rampart; and a most important council was summoned, to decide the fate of the emperor and of the empire. The party of reason and of delay was strenuously maintained by Victor, who had corrected, by the lessons of experience, the native fierceness of the Sarmatian character; while Sebastian, with the flexible and obsequious eloquence of a courtier, represented every precaution, and every measure, that implied a doubt of immediate victory, as unworthy of the courage and majesty of their invincible monarch. The ruin of Valens was precipitated by the deceitful arts of Fritigern, and the prudent admonitions of the emperor of the West. The advantages of negotiating in the midst of war were perfectly understood by the general of the Barbarians; and a Christian ecclesiastic was despatched, as the holy minister of peace, to penetrate, and to perplex, the councils of the enemy. The misfortunes, as well as the provocations, of the Gothic nation, were forcibly and truly described by their ambassador; who protested, in the name of Fritigern, that he was still disposed to lay down his arms, or to employ them only in the defence of the empire; if he could secure for his wandering countrymen a tranquil settlement on the waste lands of Thrace, and a sufficient allowance of corn and cattle. But he added, in a whisper of confidential friendship, that the exasperated Barbarians were averse to these reasonable conditions; and that Fritigern was doubtful whether he could accomplish the conclusion of the treaty, unless he found himself supported by the presence and terrors of an Imperial army. About the same time, Count Richomer returned from the West to announce the defeat and submission of the Alemanni, to inform Valens that his nephew advanced by rapid marches at the head of the veteran and victorious legions of Gaul, and to request, in the name of Gratian and of the republic, that every dangerous and decisive measure might be suspended, till the junction of the two emperors should insure the success of the Gothic war. But the feeble sovereign of the East was actuated only by the fatal illusions of pride and jealousy. He disdained the importunate advice; he rejected the humiliating aid; he secretly compared the ignominious, at least the inglorious, period of his own reign, with the fame of a beardless youth; and Valens rushed into the field, to erect his imaginary trophy, before the diligence of his colleague could usurp any share of the triumphs of the day.
88 Moratus paucissimos dies, seditione popularium levium pulsus Ammian. xxxi. 11. Socrates (l. iv. c. 38) supplies the dates and some circumstances.
Note: Compare fragment of Eunapius. Mai, 272, in Niebuhr, p. 77. — M]
89 Vivosque omnes circa Mutinam, Regiumque, et Parmam, Italica oppida, rura culturos exterminavit. Ammianus, xxxi. 9. Those cities and districts, about ten years after the colony of the Taifalae, appear in a very desolate state. See Muratori, Dissertazioni sopra le Antichita Italiane, tom. i. Dissertat. xxi. p. 354.]
90 Ammian. xxxi. 11. Zosimus, l. iv. p. 228 — 230. The latter expatiates on the desultory exploits of Sebastian, and despatches, in a few lines, the important battle of Hadrianople. According to the ecclesiastical critics, who hate Sebastian, the praise of Zosimus is disgrace, (Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. v. p. 121.) His prejudice and ignorance undoubtedly render him a very questionable judge of merit.]
On the ninth of August, a day which has deserved to be marked among the most inauspicious of the Roman Calendar, 91 the emperor Valens, leaving, under a strong guard, his baggage and military treasure, marched from Hadrianople to attack the Goths, who were encamped about twelve miles from the city. 92 By some mistake of the orders, or some ignorance of the ground, the right wing, or column of cavalry arrived in sight of the enemy, whilst the left was still at a considerable distance; the soldiers were compelled, in the sultry heat of summer, to precipitate their pace; and the line of battle was formed with tedious confusion and irregular delay. The Gothic cavalry had been detached to forage in the adjacent country; and Fritigern still continued to practise his customary arts. He despatched messengers of peace, made proposals, required hostages, and wasted the hours, till the Romans, exposed without shelter to the burning rays of the sun, were exhausted by thirst, hunger, and intolerable fatigue. The emperor was persuaded to send an ambassador to the Gothic camp; the zeal of Richomer, who alone had courage to accept the dangerous commission, was applauded; and the count of the domestics, adorned with the splendid ensigns of his dignity, had proceeded some way in the space between the two armies, when he was suddenly recalled by the alarm of battle. The hasty and imprudent attack was made by Bacurius the Iberian, who commanded a body of archers and targeteers; and as they advanced with rashness, they retreated with loss and disgrace. In the same moment, the flying squadrons of Alatheus and Saphrax, whose return was anxiously expected by the general of the Goths, descended like a whirlwind from the hills, swept across the plain, and added new terrors to the tumultuous, but irresistible charge of the Barbarian host. The event of the battle of Hadrianople, so fatal to Valens and to the empire, may be described in a few words: the Roman cavalry fled; the infantry was abandoned, surrounded, and cut in pieces. The most skilful evolutions, the firmest courage, are scarcely sufficient to extricate a body of foot, encompassed, on an open plain, by superior numbers of horse; but the troops of Valens, oppressed by the weight of the enemy and their own fears, were crowded into a narrow space, where it was impossible for them to extend their ranks, or even to use, with effect, their swords and javelins. In the midst of tumult, of slaughter, and of dismay, the emperor, deserted by his guards and wounded, as it was supposed, with an arrow, sought protection among the Lancearii and the Mattiarii, who still maintained their ground with some appearance of order and firmness. His faithful generals, Trajan and Victor, who perceived his danger, loudly exclaimed that all was lost, unless the person of the emperor could be saved. Some troops, animated by their exhortation, advanced to his relief: they found only a bloody spot, covered with a heap of broken arms and mangled bodies, without being able to discover their unfortunate prince, either among the living or the dead. Their search could not indeed be successful, if there is any truth in the circumstances with which some historians have related the death of the emperor.
By the care of his attendants, Valens was removed from the field of battle to a neighboring cottage, where they attempted to dress his wound, and to provide for his future safety. But this humble retreat was instantly surrounded by the enemy: they tried to force the door, they were provoked by a discharge of arrows from the roof, till at length, impatient of delay, they set fire to a pile of dry magots, and consumed the cottage with the Roman emperor and his train. Valens perished in the flames; and a youth, who dropped from the window, alone escaped, to attest the melancholy tale, and to inform the Goths of the inestimable prize which they had lost by their own rashness. A great number of brave and distinguished officers perished in the battle of Hadrianople, which equalled in the actual loss, and far surpassed in the fatal consequences, the misfortune which Rome had formerly sustained in the fields of Cannae. 93 Two master-generals of the cavalry and infantry, two great officers of the palace, and thirty-five tribunes, were found among the slain; and the death of Sebastian might satisfy the world, that he was the victim, as well as the author, of the public calamity. Above two thirds of the Roman army were destroyed: and the darkness of the night was esteemed a very favorable circumstance, as it served to conceal the flight of the multitude, and to protect the more orderly retreat of Victor and Richomer, who alone, amidst the general consternation, maintained the advantage of calm courage and regular discipline. 94
91 Ammianus (xxxi. 12, 13) almost alone describes the councils and actions which were terminated by the fatal battle of Hadrianople. We might censure the vices of his style, the disorder and perplexity of his narrative: but we must now take leave of this impartial historian; and reproach is silenced by our regret for such an irreparable loss.]
92 The difference of the eight miles of Ammianus, and the twelve of Idatius, can only embarrass those critics (Valesius ad loc.,) who suppose a great army to be a mathematical point, without space or dimensions.]
93 Nec ulla annalibus, praeter Cannensem pugnam, ita ad internecionem res legitur gesta. Ammian. xxxi. 13. According to the grave Polybius, no more than 370 horse, and 3,000 foot, escaped from the field of Cannae: 10,000 were made prisoners; and the number of the slain amounted to 5,630 horse, and 70,000 foot, (Polyb. l. iii. p 371, edit. Casaubon, 8vo.) Livy (xxii. 49) is somewhat less bloody: he slaughters only 2,700 horse, and 40,000 foot. The Roman army was supposed to consist of 87,200 effective men, (xxii. 36.)]
94 We have gained some faint light from Jerom, (tom. i. p. 26 and in Chron. p. 188,) Victor, (in Epitome,) Orosius, (l. vii. c. 33, p. 554,) Jornandes, (c. 27,) Zosimus, (l. iv. p. 230,) Socrates, (l. iv. c. 38,) Sozomen, (l. vi. c. 40,) Idatius, (in Chron.) But their united evidence, if weighed against Ammianus alone, is light and unsubstantial.]
While the impressions of grief and terror were still recent in the minds of men, the most celebrated rhetorician of the age composed the funeral oration of a vanquished army, and of an unpopular prince, whose throne was already occupied by a stranger. “There are not wanting,” says the candid Libanius, “those who arraign the prudence of the emperor, or who impute the public misfortune to the want of courage and discipline in the troops. For my own part, I reverence the memory of their former exploits: I reverence the glorious death, which they bravely received, standing, and fighting in their ranks: I reverence the field of battle, stained with their blood, and the blood of the Barbarians. Those honorable marks have been already washed away by the rains; but the lofty monuments of their bones, the bones of generals, of centurions, and of valiant warriors, claim a longer period of duration. The king himself fought and fell in the foremost ranks of the battle. His attendants presented him with the fleetest horses of the Imperial stable, that would soon have carried him beyond the pursuit of the enemy. They vainly pressed him to reserve his important life for the future service of the republic. He still declared that he was unworthy to survive so many of the bravest and most faithful of his subjects; and the monarch was nobly buried under a mountain of the slain. Let none, therefore, presume to ascribe the victory of the Barbarians to the fear, the weakness, or the imprudence, of the Roman troops. The chiefs and the soldiers were animated by the virtue of their ancestors, whom they equalled in discipline and the arts of war. Their generous emulation was supported by the love of glory, which prompted them to contend at the same time with heat and thirst, with fire and the sword; and cheerfully to embrace an honorable death, as their refuge against flight and infamy. The indignation of the gods has been the only cause of the success of our enemies.” The truth of history may disclaim some parts of this panegyric, which cannot strictly be reconciled with the character of Valens, or the circumstances of the battle: but the fairest commendation is due to the eloquence, and still more to the generosity, of the sophist of Antioch. 95
95 Libanius de ulciscend. Julian. nece, c. 3, in Fabricius, Bibliot Graec. tom. vii. p. 146 — 148.]
The pride of the Goths was elated by this memorable victory; but their avarice was disappointed by the mortifying discovery, that the richest part of the Imperial spoil had been within the walls of Hadrianople. They hastened to possess the reward of their valor; but they were encountered by the remains of a vanquished army, with an intrepid resolution, which was the effect of their despair, and the only hope of their safety. The walls of the city, and the ramparts of the adjacent camp, were lined with military engines, that threw stones of an enormous weight; and astonished the ignorant Barbarians by the noise, and velocity, still more than by the real effects, of the discharge. The soldiers, the citizens, the provincials, the domestics of the palace, were united in the danger, and in the defence: the furious assault of the Goths was repulsed; their secret arts of treachery and treason were discovered; and, after an obstinate conflict of many hours, they retired to their tents; convinced, by experience, that it would be far more advisable to observe the treaty, which their sagacious leader had tacitly stipulated with the fortifications of great and populous cities. After the hasty and impolitic massacre of three hundred deserters, an act of justice extremely useful to the discipline of the Roman armies, the Goths indignantly raised the siege of Hadrianople. The scene of war and tumult was instantly converted into a silent solitude: the multitude suddenly disappeared; the secret paths of the woods and mountains were marked with the footsteps of the trembling fugitives, who sought a refuge in the distant cities of Illyricum and Macedonia; and the faithful officers of the household, and the treasury, cautiously proceeded in search of the emperor, of whose death they were still ignorant. The tide of the Gothic inundation rolled from the walls of Hadrianople to the suburbs of Constantinople. The Barbarians were surprised with the splendid appearance of the capital of the East, the height and extent of the walls, the myriads of wealthy and affrighted citizens who crowded the ramparts, and the various prospect of the sea and land. While they gazed with hopeless desire on the inaccessible beauties of Constantinople, a sally was made from one of the gates by a party of Saracens, 96 who had been fortunately engaged in the service of Valens. The cavalry of Scythia was forced to yield to the admirable swiftness and spirit of the Arabian horses: their riders were skilled in the evolutions of irregular war; and the Northern Barbarians were astonished and dismayed, by the inhuman ferocity of the Barbarians of the South.
A Gothic soldier was slain by the dagger of an Arab; and the hairy, naked savage, applying his lips to the wound, expressed a horrid delight, while he sucked the blood of his vanquished enemy. 97 The army of the Goths, laden with the spoils of the wealthy suburbs and the adjacent territory, slowly moved, from the Bosphorus, to the mountains which form the western boundary of Thrace. The important pass of Succi was betrayed by the fear, or the misconduct, of Maurus; and the Barbarians, who no longer had any resistance to apprehend from the scattered and vanquished troops of the East, spread themselves over the face of a fertile and cultivated country, as far as the confines of Italy and the Hadriatic Sea. 98
96 Valens had gained, or rather purchased, the friendship of the Saracens, whose vexatious inroads were felt on the borders of Phoenicia, Palestine, and Egypt. The Christian faith had been lately introduced among a people, reserved, in a future age, to propagate another religion, (Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. v. p. 104, 106, 141. Mem. Eccles. tom. vii. p. 593.)]
97 Crinitus quidam, nudus omnia praeter pubem, subraunum et ugubre strepens. Ammian. xxxi. 16, and Vales. ad loc. The Arabs often fought naked; a custom which may be ascribed to their sultry climate, and ostentatious bravery. The description of this unknown savage is the lively portrait of Derar, a name so dreadful to the Christians of Syria. See Ockley’s Hist. of the Saracens, vol. i. p. 72, 84, 87.]
98 The series of events may still be traced in the last pages of Ammianus, (xxxi. 15, 16.) Zosimus, (l. iv. p. 227, 231,) whom we are now reduced to cherish, misplaces the sally of the Arabs before the death of Valens. Eunapius (in Excerpt. Legat. p. 20) praises the fertility of Thrace, Macedonia, &c.]
The Romans, who so coolly, and so concisely, mention the acts of justice which were exercised by the legions, 99 reserve their compassion, and their eloquence, for their own sufferings, when the provinces were invaded, and desolated, by the arms of the successful Barbarians. The simple circumstantial narrative (did such a narrative exist) of the ruin of a single town, of the misfortunes of a single family, 100 might exhibit an interesting and instructive picture of human manners: but the tedious repetition of vague and declamatory complaints would fatigue the attention of the most patient reader. The same censure may be applied, though not perhaps in an equal degree, to the profane, and the ecclesiastical, writers of this unhappy period; that their minds were inflamed by popular and religious animosity; and that the true size and color of every object is falsified by the exaggerations of their corrupt eloquence. The vehement Jerom 101 might justly deplore the calamities inflicted by the Goths, and their barbarous allies, on his native country of Pannonia, and the wide extent of the provinces, from the walls of Constantinople to the foot of the Julian Alps; the rapes, the massacres, the conflagrations; and, above all, the profanation of the churches, that were turned into stables, and the contemptuous treatment of the relics of holy martyrs. But the Saint is surely transported beyond the limits of nature and history, when he affirms, “that, in those desert countries, nothing was left except the sky and the earth; that, after the destruction of the cities, and the extirpation of the human race, the land was overgrown with thick forests and inextricable brambles; and that the universal desolation, announced by the prophet Zephaniah, was accomplished, in the scarcity of the beasts, the birds, and even of the fish.” These complaints were pronounced about twenty years after the death of Valens; and the Illyrian provinces, which were constantly exposed to the invasion and passage of the Barbarians, still continued, after a calamitous period of ten centuries, to supply new materials for rapine and destruction. Could it even be supposed, that a large tract of country had been left without cultivation and without inhabitants, the consequences might not have been so fatal to the inferior productions of animated nature. The useful and feeble animals, which are nourished by the hand of man, might suffer and perish, if they were deprived of his protection; but the beasts of the forest, his enemies or his victims, would multiply in the free and undisturbed possession of their solitary domain. The various tribes that people the air, or the waters, are still less connected with the fate of the human species; and it is highly probable that the fish of the Danube would have felt more terror and distress, from the approach of a voracious pike, than from the hostile inroad of a Gothic army.
99 Observe with how much indifference Caesar relates, in the Commentaries of the Gallic war, that he put to death the whole senate of the Veneti, who had yielded to his mercy, (iii. 16;) that he labored to extirpate the whole nation of the Eburones, (vi. 31;) that forty thousand persons were massacred at Bourges by the just revenge of his soldiers, who spared neither age nor sex, (vii. 27,) &c.]
100 Such are the accounts of the sack of Magdeburgh, by the ecclesiastic and the fisherman, which Mr. Harte has transcribed, (Hist. of Gustavus Adolphus, vol. i. p. 313 — 320,) with some apprehension of violating the dignity of history.]
101 Et vastatis urbibus, hominibusque interfectis, solitudinem et raritatem bestiarum quoque fieri, et volatilium, pisciumque: testis Illyricum est, testis Thracia, testis in quo ortus sum solum, (Pannonia;) ubi praeter coelum et terram, et crescentes vepres, et condensa sylvarum cuncta perierunt. Tom. vii. p. 250, l, Cap. Sophonias and tom. i. p. 26.]
Whatever may have been the just measure of the calamities of Europe, there was reason to fear that the same calamities would soon extend to the peaceful countries of Asia. The sons of the Goths had been judiciously distributed through the cities of the East; and the arts of education were employed to polish, and subdue, the native fierceness of their temper. In the space of about twelve years, their numbers had continually increased; and the children, who, in the first emigration, were sent over the Hellespont, had attained, with rapid growth, the strength and spirit of perfect manhood. 102 It was impossible to conceal from their knowledge the events of the Gothic war; and, as those daring youths had not studied the language of dissimulation, they betrayed their wish, their desire, perhaps their intention, to emulate the glorious example of their fathers The danger of the times seemed to justify the jealous suspicions of the provincials; and these suspicions were admitted as unquestionable evidence, that the Goths of Asia had formed a secret and dangerous conspiracy against the public safety. The death of Valens had left the East without a sovereign; and Julius, who filled the important station of master-general of the troops, with a high reputation of diligence and ability, thought it his duty to consult the senate of Constantinople; which he considered, during the vacancy of the throne, as the representative council of the nation. As soon as he had obtained the discretionary power of acting as he should judge most expedient for the good of the republic, he assembled the principal officers, and privately concerted effectual measures for the execution of his bloody design. An order was immediately promulgated, that, on a stated day, the Gothic youth should assemble in the capital cities of their respective provinces; and, as a report was industriously circulated, that they were summoned to receive a liberal gift of lands and money, the pleasing hope allayed the fury of their resentment, and, perhaps, suspended the motions of the conspiracy. On the appointed day, the unarmed crowd of the Gothic youth was carefully collected in the square or Forum; the streets and avenues were occupied by the Roman troops, and the roofs of the houses were covered with archers and slingers. At the same hour, in all the cities of the East, the signal was given of indiscriminate slaughter; and the provinces of Asia were delivered by the cruel prudence of Julius, from a domestic enemy, who, in a few months, might have carried fire and sword from the Hellespont to the Euphrates. 103 The urgent consideration of the public safety may undoubtedly authorize the violation of every positive law. How far that, or any other, consideration may operate to dissolve the natural obligations of humanity and justice, is a doctrine of which I still desire to remain ignorant.
102 Eunapius (in Excerpt. Legat. p. 20) foolishly supposes a praeternatural growth of the young Goths, that he may introduce Cadmus’s armed men, who sprang from the dragon’s teeth, &c. Such was the Greek eloquence of the times.]
103 Ammianus evidently approves this execution, efficacia velox et salutaris, which concludes his work, (xxxi. 16.) Zosimus, who is curious and copious, (l. iv. p. 233 — 236,) mistakes the date, and labors to find the reason, why Julius did not consult the emperor Theodosius who had not yet ascended the throne of the East.]
The emperor Gratian was far advanced on his march towards the plains of Hadrianople, when he was informed, at first by the confused voice of fame, and afterwards by the more accurate reports of Victor and Richomer, that his impatient colleague had been slain in battle, and that two thirds of the Roman army were exterminated by the sword of the victorious Goths. Whatever resentment the rash and jealous vanity of his uncle might deserve, the resentment of a generous mind is easily subdued by the softer emotions of grief and compassion; and even the sense of pity was soon lost in the serious and alarming consideration of the state of the republic. Gratian was too late to assist, he was too weak to revenge, his unfortunate colleague; and the valiant and modest youth felt himself unequal to the support of a sinking world. A formidable tempest of the Barbarians of Germany seemed ready to burst over the provinces of Gaul; and the mind of Gratian was oppressed and distracted by the administration of the Western empire. In this important crisis, the government of the East, and the conduct of the Gothic war, required the undivided attention of a hero and a statesman. A subject invested with such ample command would not long have preserved his fidelity to a distant benefactor; and the Imperial council embraced the wise and manly resolution of conferring an obligation, rather than of yielding to an insult. It was the wish of Gratian to bestow the purple as the reward of virtue; but, at the age of nineteen, it is not easy for a prince, educated in the supreme rank, to understand the true characters of his ministers and generals. He attempted to weigh, with an impartial hand, their various merits and defects; and, whilst he checked the rash confidence of ambition, he distrusted the cautious wisdom which despaired of the republic. As each moment of delay diminished something of the power and resources of the future sovereign of the East, the situation of the times would not allow a tedious debate. The choice of Gratian was soon declared in favor of an exile, whose father, only three years before, had suffered, under the sanction of his authority, an unjust and ignominious death. The great Theodosius, a name celebrated in history, and dear to the Catholic church, 104 was summoned to the Imperial court, which had gradually retreated from the confines of Thrace to the more secure station of Sirmium. Five months after the death of Valens, the emperor Gratian produced before the assembled troops his colleague and their master; who, after a modest, perhaps a sincere, resistance, was compelled to accept, amidst the general acclamations, the diadem, the purple, and the equal title of Augustus. 105 The provinces of Thrace, Asia, and Egypt, over which Valens had reigned, were resigned to the administration of the new emperor; but, as he was specially intrusted with the conduct of the Gothic war, the Illyrian praefecture was dismembered; and the two great dioceses of Dacia and Macedonia were added to the dominions of the Eastern empire. 106
104 A life of Theodosius the Great was composed in the last century, (Paris, 1679, in 4to-1680, 12mo.,) to inflame the mind of the young Dauphin with Catholic zeal. The author, Flechier, afterwards bishop of Nismes, was a celebrated preacher; and his history is adorned, or tainted, with pulpit eloquence; but he takes his learning from Baronius, and his principles from St. Ambrose and St Augustin.]
105 The birth, character, and elevation of Theodosius are marked in Pacatus, (in Panegyr. Vet. xii. 10, 11, 12,) Themistius, (Orat. xiv. p. 182,) Zosimus, l. iv. p. 231,) Augustin. (de Civitat. Dei. v. 25,) Orosius, (l. vii. c. 34,) Sozomen, (l. vii. c. 2,) Socrates, (l. v. c. 2,) Theodoret, (l. v. c. 5,) Philostorgius, (l. ix. c. 17, with Godefroy, p. 393,) the Epitome of Victor, and the Chronicles of Prosper, Idatius, and Marcellinus, in the Thesaurus Temporum of Scaliger.
Note: Add a hostile fragment of Eunapius. Mai, p. 273, in Niebuhr, p 178 — M.]
106 Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. v. p. 716, &c.]
The same province, and perhaps the same city, 107 which had given to the throne the virtues of Trajan, and the talents of Hadrian, was the orignal seat of another family of Spaniards, who, in a less fortunate age, possessed, near fourscore years, the declining empire of Rome. 108 They emerged from the obscurity of municipal honors by the active spirit of the elder Theodosius, a general whose exploits in Britain and Africa have formed one of the most splendid parts of the annals of Valentinian. The son of that general, who likewise bore the name of Theodosius, was educated, by skilful preceptors, in the liberal studies of youth; but he was instructed in the art of war by the tender care and severe discipline of his father. 109 Under the standard of such a leader, young Theodosius sought glory and knowledge, in the most distant scenes of military action; inured his constitution to the difference of seasons and climates; distinguished his valor by sea and land; and observed the various warfare of the Scots, the Saxons, and the Moors. His own merit, and the recommendation of the conqueror of Africa, soon raised him to a separate command; and, in the station of Duke of Misaea, he vanquished an army of Sarmatians; saved the province; deserved the love of the soldiers; and provoked the envy of the court. 110 His rising fortunes were soon blasted by the disgrace and execution of his illustrious father; and Theodosius obtained, as a favor, the permission of retiring to a private life in his native province of Spain. He displayed a firm and temperate character in the ease with which he adapted himself to this new situation. His time was almost equally divided between the town and country; the spirit, which had animated his public conduct, was shown in the active and affectionate performance of every social duty; and the diligence of the soldier was profitably converted to the improvement of his ample patrimony, 111 which lay between Valladolid and Segovia, in the midst of a fruitful district, still famous for a most exquisite breed of sheep. 112 From the innocent, but humble labors of his farm, Theodosius was transported, in less than four months, to the throne of the Eastern empire; and the whole period of the history of the world will not perhaps afford a similar example, of an elevation at the same time so pure and so honorable. The princes who peaceably inherit the sceptre of their fathers, claim and enjoy a legal right, the more secure as it is absolutely distinct from the merits of their personal characters. The subjects, who, in a monarchy, or a popular state, acquire the possession of supreme power, may have raised themselves, by the superiority either of genius or virtue, above the heads of their equals; but their virtue is seldom exempt from ambition; and the cause of the successful candidate is frequently stained by the guilt of conspiracy, or civil war. Even in those governments which allow the reigning monarch to declare a colleague or a successor, his partial choice, which may be influenced by the blindest passions, is often directed to an unworthy object But the most suspicious malignity cannot ascribe to Theodosius, in his obscure solitude of Caucha, the arts, the desires, or even the hopes, of an ambitious statesman; and the name of the Exile would long since have been forgotten, if his genuine and distinguished virtues had not left a deep impression in the Imperial court. During the season of prosperity, he had been neglected; but, in the public distress, his superior merit was universally felt and acknowledged. What confidence must have been reposed in his integrity, since Gratian could trust, that a pious son would forgive, for the sake of the republic, the murder of his father! What expectations must have been formed of his abilities to encourage the hope, that a single man could save, and restore, the empire of the East! Theodosius was invested with the purple in the thirty-third year of his age. The vulgar gazed with admiration on the manly beauty of his face, and the graceful majesty of his person, which they were pleased to compare with the pictures and medals of the emperor Trajan; whilst intelligent observers discovered, in the qualities of his heart and understanding, a more important resemblance to the best and greatest of the Roman princes.
107 Italica, founded by Scipio Africanus for his wounded veterans of Italy. The ruins still appear, about a league above Seville, but on the opposite bank of the river. See the Hispania Illustrata of Nonius, a short though valuable treatise, c. xvii. p. 64 — 67.]
108 I agree with Tillemont (Hist. des Empereurs, tom. v. p. 726) in suspecting the royal pedigree, which remained a secret till the promotion of Theodosius. Even after that event, the silence of Pacatus outweighs the venal evidence of Themistius, Victor, and Claudian, who connect the family of Theodosius with the blood of Trajan and Hadrian.]
109 Pacatas compares, and consequently prefers, the youth of Theodosius to the military education of Alexander, Hannibal, and the second Africanus; who, like him, had served under their fathers, (xii. 8.)]
110 Ammianus (xxix. 6) mentions this victory of Theodosius Junior Dux Maesiae, prima etiam tum lanugine juvenis, princeps postea perspectissimus. The same fact is attested by Themistius and Zosimus but Theodoret, (l. v. c. 5,) who adds some curious circumstances, strangely applies it to the time of the interregnum.]
111 Pacatus (in Panegyr. Vet. xii. 9) prefers the rustic life of Theodosius to that of Cincinnatus; the one was the effect of choice, the other of poverty.]
112 M. D’Anville (Geographie Ancienne, tom. i. p. 25) has fixed the situation of Caucha, or Coca, in the old province of Gallicia, where Zosimus and Idatius have placed the birth, or patrimony, of Theodosius.]
It is not without the most sincere regret, that I must now take leave of an accurate and faithful guide, who has composed the history of his own times, without indulging the prejudices and passions, which usually affect the mind of a contemporary. Ammianus Marcellinus, who terminates his useful work with the defeat and death of Valens, recommends the more glorious subject of the ensuing reign to the youthful vigor and eloquence of the rising generation. 113 The rising generation was not disposed to accept his advice or to imitate his example; 114 and, in the study of the reign of Theodosius, we are reduced to illustrate the partial narrative of Zosimus, by the obscure hints of fragments and chronicles, by the figurative style of poetry or panegyric, and by the precarious assistance of the ecclesiastical writers, who, in the heat of religious faction, are apt to despise the profane virtues of sincerity and moderation. Conscious of these disadvantages, which will continue to involve a considerable portion of the decline and fall of the Roman empire, I shall proceed with doubtful and timorous steps. Yet I may boldly pronounce, that the battle of Hadrianople was never revenged by any signal or decisive victory of Theodosius over the Barbarians: and the expressive silence of his venal orators may be confirmed by the observation of the condition and circumstances of the times. The fabric of a mighty state, which has been reared by the labors of successive ages, could not be overturned by the misfortune of a single day, if the fatal power of the imagination did not exaggerate the real measure of the calamity. The loss of forty thousand Romans, who fell in the plains of Hadrianople, might have been soon recruited in the populous provinces of the East, which contained so many millions of inhabitants. The courage of a soldier is found to be the cheapest, and most common, quality of human nature; and sufficient skill to encounter an undisciplined foe might have been speedily taught by the care of the surviving centurions. If the Barbarians were mounted on the horses, and equipped with the armor, of their vanquished enemies, the numerous studs of Cappadocia and Spain would have supplied new squadrons of cavalry; the thirty-four arsenals of the empire were plentifully stored with magazines of offensive and defensive arms: and the wealth of Asia might still have yielded an ample fund for the expenses of the war. But the effects which were produced by the battle of Hadrianople on the minds of the Barbarians and of the Romans, extended the victory of the former, and the defeat of the latter, far beyond the limits of a single day. A Gothic chief was heard to declare, with insolent moderation, that, for his own part, he was fatigued with slaughter: but that he was astonished how a people, who fled before him like a flock of sheep, could still presume to dispute the possession of their treasures and provinces. 115 The same terrors which the name of the Huns had spread among the Gothic tribes, were inspired, by the formidable name of the Goths, among the subjects and soldiers of the Roman empire. 116 If Theodosius, hastily collecting his scattered forces, had led them into the field to encounter a victorious enemy, his army would have been vanquished by their own fears; and his rashness could not have been excused by the chance of success. But the great Theodosius, an epithet which he honorably deserved on this momentous occasion, conducted himself as the firm and faithful guardian of the republic. He fixed his head-quarters at Thessalonica, the capital of the Macedonian diocese; 117 from whence he could watch the irregular motions of the Barbarians, and direct the operations of his lieutenants, from the gates of Constantinople to the shores of the Hadriatic. The fortifications and garrisons of the cities were strengthened; and the troops, among whom a sense of order and discipline was revived, were insensibly emboldened by the confidence of their own safety. From these secure stations, they were encouraged to make frequent sallies on the Barbarians, who infested the adjacent country; and, as they were seldom allowed to engage, without some decisive superiority, either of ground or of numbers, their enterprises were, for the most part, successful; and they were soon convinced, by their own experience, of the possibility of vanquishing their invincible enemies. The detachments of these separate garrisons were generally united into small armies; the same cautious measures were pursued, according to an extensive and well-concerted plan of operations; the events of each day added strength and spirit to the Roman arms; and the artful diligence of the emperor, who circulated the most favorable reports of the success of the war, contributed to subdue the pride of the Barbarians, and to animate the hopes and courage of his subjects. If, instead of this faint and imperfect outline, we could accurately represent the counsels and actions of Theodosius, in four successive campaigns, there is reason to believe, that his consummate skill would deserve the applause of every military reader. The republic had formerly been saved by the delays of Fabius; and, while the splendid trophies of Scipio, in the field of Zama, attract the eyes of posterity, the camps and marches of the dictator among the hills of the Campania, may claim a juster proportion of the solid and independent fame, which the general is not compelled to share, either with fortune or with his troops. Such was likewise the merit of Theodosius; and the infirmities of his body, which most unseasonably languished under a long and dangerous disease, could not oppress the vigor of his mind, or divert his attention from the public service. 118
113 Let us hear Ammianus himself. Haec, ut miles quondam et Graecus, a principatu Cassaris Nervae exorsus, adusque Valentis inter, pro virium explicavi mensura: opus veritatem professum nun quam, ut arbitror, sciens, silentio ausus corrumpere vel mendacio. Scribant reliqua potiores aetate, doctrinisque florentes. Quos id, si libuerit, aggressuros, procudere linguas ad majores moneo stilos. Ammian. xxxi. 16. The first thirteen books, a superficial epitome of two hundred and fifty — seven years, are now lost: the last eighteen, which contain no more than twenty-five years, still preserve the copious and authentic history of his own times.]
114 Ammianus was the last subject of Rome who composed a profane history in the Latin language. The East, in the next century, produced some rhetorical historians, Zosimus, Olympiedorus, Malchus, Candidus &c. See Vossius de Historicis Graecis, l. ii. c. 18, de Historicis Latinis l. ii. c. 10, &c.]
115 Chrysostom, tom. i. p. 344, edit. Montfaucon. I have verified and examined this passage: but I should never, without the aid of Tillemont, (Hist. des Emp. tom. v. p. 152,) have detected an historical anecdote, in a strange medley of moral and mystic exhortations, addressed, by the preacher of Antioch, to a young widow.]
116 Eunapius, in Excerpt. Legation. p. 21.]
117 See Godefroy’s Chronology of the Laws. Codex Theodos tom. l. Prolegomen. p. xcix. — civ.]
118 Most writers insist on the illness, and long repose, of Theodosius, at Thessalonica: Zosimus, to diminish his glory; Jornandes, to favor the Goths; and the ecclesiastical writers, to introduce his baptism.]
The deliverance and peace of the Roman provinces 119 was the work of prudence, rather than of valor: the prudence of Theodosius was seconded by fortune: and the emperor never failed to seize, and to improve, every favorable circumstance. As long as the superior genius of Fritigern preserved the union, and directed the motions of the Barbarians, their power was not inadequate to the conquest of a great empire. The death of that hero, the predecessor and master of the renowned Alaric, relieved an impatient multitude from the intolerable yoke of discipline and discretion. The Barbarians, who had been restrained by his authority, abandoned themselves to the dictates of their passions; and their passions were seldom uniform or consistent. An army of conquerors was broken into many disorderly bands of savage robbers; and their blind and irregular fury was not less pernicious to themselves, than to their enemies. Their mischievous disposition was shown in the destruction of every object which they wanted strength to remove, or taste to enjoy; and they often consumed, with improvident rage, the harvests, or the granaries, which soon afterwards became necessary for their own subsistence. A spirit of discord arose among the independent tribes and nations, which had been united only by the bands of a loose and voluntary alliance. The troops of the Huns and the Alani would naturally upbraid the flight of the Goths; who were not disposed to use with moderation the advantages of their fortune; the ancient jealousy of the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths could not long be suspended; and the haughty chiefs still remembered the insults and injuries, which they had reciprocally offered, or sustained, while the nation was seated in the countries beyond the Danube. The progress of domestic faction abated the more diffusive sentiment of national animosity; and the officers of Theodosius were instructed to purchase, with liberal gifts and promises, the retreat or service of the discontented party. The acquisition of Modar, a prince of the royal blood of the Amali, gave a bold and faithful champion to the cause of Rome. The illustrious deserter soon obtained the rank of master-general, with an important command; surprised an army of his countrymen, who were immersed in wine and sleep; and, after a cruel slaughter of the astonished Goths, returned with an immense spoil, and four thousand wagons, to the Imperial camp. 120 In the hands of a skilful politician, the most different means may be successfully applied to the same ends; and the peace of the empire, which had been forwarded by the divisions, was accomplished by the reunion, of the Gothic nation. Athanaric, who had been a patient spectator of these extraordinary events, was at length driven, by the chance of arms, from the dark recesses of the woods of Caucaland. He no longer hesitated to pass the Danube; and a very considerable part of the subjects of Fritigern, who already felt the inconveniences of anarchy, were easily persuaded to acknowledge for their king a Gothic Judge, whose birth they respected, and whose abilities they had frequently experienced. But age had chilled the daring spirit of Athanaric; and, instead of leading his people to the field of battle and victory, he wisely listened to the fair proposal of an honorable and advantageous treaty. Theodosius, who was acquainted with the merit and power of his new ally, condescended to meet him at the distance of several miles from Constantinople; and entertained him in the Imperial city, with the confidence of a friend, and the magnificence of a monarch. “The Barbarian prince observed, with curious attention, the variety of objects which attracted his notice, and at last broke out into a sincere and passionate exclamation of wonder. I now behold (said he) what I never could believe, the glories of this stupendous capital! And as he cast his eyes around, he viewed, and he admired, the commanding situation of the city, the strength and beauty of the walls and public edifices, the capacious harbor, crowded with innumerable vessels, the perpetual concourse of distant nations, and the arms and discipline of the troops. Indeed, (continued Athanaric,) the emperor of the Romans is a god upon earth; and the presumptuous man, who dares to lift his hand against him, is guilty of his own blood.” 121 The Gothic king did not long enjoy this splendid and honorable reception; and, as temperance was not the virtue of his nation, it may justly be suspected, that his mortal disease was contracted amidst the pleasures of the Imperial banquets. But the policy of Theodosius derived more solid benefit from the death, than he could have expected from the most faithful services, of his ally. The funeral of Athanaric was performed with solemn rites in the capital of the East; a stately monument was erected to his memory; and his whole army, won by the liberal courtesy, and decent grief, of Theodosius, enlisted under the standard of the Roman empire. 122 The submission of so great a body of the Visigoths was productive of the most salutary consequences; and the mixed influence of force, of reason, and of corruption, became every day more powerful, and more extensive. Each independent chieftain hastened to obtain a separate treaty, from the apprehension that an obstinate delay might expose him, alone and unprotected, to the revenge, or justice, of the conqueror. The general, or rather the final, capitulation of the Goths, may be dated four years, one month, and twenty-five days, after the defeat and death of the emperor Valens. 123
119 Compare Themistius (Orat, xiv. p. 181) with Zosimus (l. iv. p. 232,) Jornandes, (c. xxvii. p. 649,) and the prolix Commentary of M. de Buat, (Hist. de Peuples, &c., tom. vi. p. 477 — 552.) The Chronicles of Idatius and Marcellinus allude, in general terms, to magna certamina, magna multaque praelia. The two epithets are not easily reconciled.]
120 Zosimus (l. iv. p. 232) styles him a Scythian, a name which the more recent Greeks seem to have appropriated to the Goths.]
121 The reader will not be displeased to see the original words of Jornandes, or the author whom he transcribed. Regiam urbem ingressus est, miransque, En, inquit, cerno quod saepe incredulus audiebam, famam videlicet tantae urbis. Et huc illuc oculos volvens, nunc situm urbis, commeatumque navium, nunc moenia clara pro spectans, miratur; populosque diversarum gentium, quasi fonte in uno e diversis partibus scaturiente unda, sic quoque militem ordinatum aspiciens; Deus, inquit, sine dubio est terrenus Imperator, et quisquis adversus eum manum moverit, ipse sui sanguinis reus existit Jornandes (c. xxviii. p. 650) proceeds to mention his death and funeral.]
122 Jornandes, c. xxviii. p. 650. Even Zosimus (l. v. p. 246) is compelled to approve the generosity of Theodosius, so honorable to himself, and so beneficial to the public.]
123 The short, but authentic, hints in the Fasti of Idatius (Chron. Scaliger. p. 52) are stained with contemporary passion. The fourteenth oration of Themistius is a compliment to Peace, and the consul Saturninus, (A.D. 383.)]
The provinces of the Danube had been already relieved from the oppressive weight of the Gruthungi, or Ostrogoths, by the voluntary retreat of Alatheus and Saphrax, whose restless spirit had prompted them to seek new scenes of rapine and glory. Their destructive course was pointed towards the West; but we must be satisfied with a very obscure and imperfect knowledge of their various adventures. The Ostrogoths impelled several of the German tribes on the provinces of Gaul; concluded, and soon violated, a treaty with the emperor Gratian; advanced into the unknown countries of the North; and, after an interval of more than four years, returned, with accumulated force, to the banks of the Lower Danube. Their troops were recruited with the fiercest warriors of Germany and Scythia; and the soldiers, or at least the historians, of the empire, no longer recognized the name and countenances of their former enemies. 124 The general who commanded the military and naval powers of the Thracian frontier, soon perceived that his superiority would be disadvantageous to the public service; and that the Barbarians, awed by the presence of his fleet and legions, would probably defer the passage of the river till the approaching winter. The dexterity of the spies, whom he sent into the Gothic camp, allured the Barbarians into a fatal snare. They were persuaded that, by a bold attempt, they might surprise, in the silence and darkness of the night, the sleeping army of the Romans; and the whole multitude was hastily embarked in a fleet of three thousand canoes. 125 The bravest of the Ostrogoths led the van; the main body consisted of the remainder of their subjects and soldiers; and the women and children securely followed in the rear. One of the nights without a moon had been selected for the execution of their design; and they had almost reached the southern bank of the Danube, in the firm confidence that they should find an easy landing and an unguarded camp. But the progress of the Barbarians was suddenly stopped by an unexpected obstacle a triple line of vessels, strongly connected with each other, and which formed an impenetrable chain of two miles and a half along the river. While they struggled to force their way in the unequal conflict, their right flank was overwhelmed by the irresistible attack of a fleet of galleys, which were urged down the stream by the united impulse of oars and of the tide. The weight and velocity of those ships of war broke, and sunk, and dispersed, the rude and feeble canoes of the Barbarians; their valor was ineffectual; and Alatheus, the king, or general, of the Ostrogoths, perished with his bravest troops, either by the sword of the Romans, or in the waves of the Danube. The last division of this unfortunate fleet might regain the opposite shore; but the distress and disorder of the multitude rendered them alike incapable, either of action or counsel; and they soon implored the clemency of the victorious enemy. On this occasion, as well as on many others, it is a difficult task to reconcile the passions and prejudices of the writers of the age of Theodosius. The partial and malignant historian, who misrepresents every action of his reign, affirms, that the emperor did not appear in the field of battle till the Barbarians had been vanquished by the valor and conduct of his lieutenant Promotus. 126 The flattering poet, who celebrated, in the court of Honorius, the glory of the father and of the son, ascribes the victory to the personal prowess of Theodosius; and almost insinuates, that the king of the Ostrogoths was slain by the hand of the emperor. 127 The truth of history might perhaps be found in a just medium between these extreme and contradictory assertions.
124 Zosimus, l. iv. p. 252.]
125 I am justified, by reason and example, in applying this Indian name to the the Barbarians, the single trees hollowed into the shape of a boat. Zosimus, l. iv. p. 253.]
Ausi Danubium quondam tranare Gruthungi
In lintres fregere nemus: ter mille ruebant
Per fluvium plenae cuneis immanibus alni.
Claudian, in iv. Cols. Hon. 623.]
126 Zosimus, l. iv. p. 252 — 255. He too frequently betrays his poverty of judgment by disgracing the most serious narratives with trifling and incredible circumstances.]
127 — Odothaei Regis opima Retulit — Ver. 632.
The opima were the spoils which a Roman general could only win from the king, or general, of the enemy, whom he had slain with his own hands: and no more than three such examples are celebrated in the victorious ages of Rome.]
The original treaty which fixed the settlement of the Goths, ascertained their privileges, and stipulated their obligations, would illustrate the history of Theodosius and his successors. The series of their history has imperfectly preserved the spirit and substance of this single agreement. 128 The ravages of war and tyranny had provided many large tracts of fertile but uncultivated land for the use of those Barbarians who might not disdain the practice of agriculture. A numerous colony of the Visigoths was seated in Thrace; the remains of the Ostrogoths were planted in Phrygia and Lydia; their immediate wants were supplied by a distribution of corn and cattle; and their future industry was encouraged by an exemption from tribute, during a certain term of years. The Barbarians would have deserved to feel the cruel and perfidious policy of the Imperial court, if they had suffered themselves to be dispersed through the provinces. They required, and they obtained, the sole possession of the villages and districts assigned for their residence; they still cherished and propagated their native manners and language; asserted, in the bosom of despotism, the freedom of their domestic government; and acknowledged the sovereignty of the emperor, without submitting to the inferior jurisdiction of the laws and magistrates of Rome. The hereditary chiefs of the tribes and families were still permitted to command their followers in peace and war; but the royal dignity was abolished; and the generals of the Goths were appointed and removed at the pleasure of the emperor. An army of forty thousand Goths was maintained for the perpetual service of the empire of the East; and those haughty troops, who assumed the title of Foederati, or allies, were distinguished by their gold collars, liberal pay, and licentious privileges. Their native courage was improved by the use of arms and the knowledge of discipline; and, while the republic was guarded, or threatened, by the doubtful sword of the Barbarians, the last sparks of the military flame were finally extinguished in the minds of the Romans. 129 Theodosius had the address to persuade his allies, that the conditions of peace, which had been extorted from him by prudence and necessity, were the voluntary expressions of his sincere friendship for the Gothic nation. 130 A different mode of vindication or apology was opposed to the complaints of the people; who loudly censured these shameful and dangerous concessions. 131 The calamities of the war were painted in the most lively colors; and the first symptoms of the return of order, of plenty, and security, were diligently exaggerated. The advocates of Theodosius could affirm, with some appearance of truth and reason, that it was impossible to extirpate so many warlike tribes, who were rendered desperate by the loss of their native country; and that the exhausted provinces would be revived by a fresh supply of soldiers and husbandmen. The Barbarians still wore an angry and hostile aspect; but the experience of past times might encourage the hope, that they would acquire the habits of industry and obedience; that their manners would be polished by time, education, and the influence of Christianity; and that their posterity would insensibly blend with the great body of the Roman people. 132
128 See Themistius, Orat. xvi. p. 211. Claudian (in Eutrop. l. ii. 112) mentions the Phrygian colony:—
— Ostrogothis colitur mistisque Gruthungis Phyrx ager —
and then proceeds to name the rivers of Lydia, the Pactolus, and Herreus.]
129 Compare Jornandes, (c. xx. 27,) who marks the condition and number of the Gothic Foederati, with Zosimus, (l. iv. p. 258,) who mentions their golden collars; and Pacatus, (in Panegyr. Vet. xii. 37,) who applauds, with false or foolish joy, their bravery and discipline.]
130 Amator pacis generisque Gothorum, is the praise bestowed by the Gothic historian, (c. xxix.,) who represents his nation as innocent, peaceable men, slow to anger, and patient of injuries. According to Livy, the Romans conquered the world in their own defence.]
131 Besides the partial invectives of Zosimus, (always discontented with the Christian reigns,) see the grave representations which Synesius addresses to the emperor Arcadius, (de Regno, p. 25, 26, edit. Petav.) The philosophic bishop of Cyrene was near enough to judge; and he was sufficiently removed from the temptation of fear or flattery.]
132 Themistius (Orat. xvi. p. 211, 212) composes an elaborate and rational apology, which is not, however, exempt from the puerilities of Greek rhetoric. Orpheus could only charm the wild beasts of Thrace; but Theodosius enchanted the men and women, whose predecessors in the same country had torn Orpheus in pieces, &c.]
Notwithstanding these specious arguments, and these sanguine expectations, it was apparent to every discerning eye, that the Goths would long remain the enemies, and might soon become the conquerors of the Roman empire. Their rude and insolent behavior expressed their contempt of the citizens and provincials, whom they insulted with impunity. 133 To the zeal and valor of the Barbarians Theodosius was indebted for the success of his arms: but their assistance was precarious; and they were sometimes seduced, by a treacherous and inconstant disposition, to abandon his standard, at the moment when their service was the most essential. During the civil war against Maximus, a great number of Gothic deserters retired into the morasses of Macedonia, wasted the adjacent provinces, and obliged the intrepid monarch to expose his person, and exert his power, to suppress the rising flame of rebellion. 134 The public apprehensions were fortified by the strong suspicion, that these tumults were not the effect of accidental passion, but the result of deep and premeditated design. It was generally believed, that the Goths had signed the treaty of peace with a hostile and insidious spirit; and that their chiefs had previously bound themselves, by a solemn and secret oath, never to keep faith with the Romans; to maintain the fairest show of loyalty and friendship, and to watch the favorable moment of rapine, of conquest, and of revenge. But as the minds of the Barbarians were not insensible to the power of gratitude, several of the Gothic leaders sincerely devoted themselves to the service of the empire, or, at least, of the emperor; the whole nation was insensibly divided into two opposite factions, and much sophistry was employed in conversation and dispute, to compare the obligations of their first, and second, engagements. The Goths, who considered themselves as the friends of peace, of justice, and of Rome, were directed by the authority of Fravitta, a valiant and honorable youth, distinguished above the rest of his countrymen by the politeness of his manners, the liberality of his sentiments, and the mild virtues of social life. But the more numerous faction adhered to the fierce and faithless Priulf, * who inflamed the passions, and asserted the independence, of his warlike followers. On one of the solemn festivals, when the chiefs of both parties were invited to the Imperial table, they were insensibly heated by wine, till they forgot the usual restraints of discretion and respect, and betrayed, in the presence of Theodosius, the fatal secret of their domestic disputes. The emperor, who had been the reluctant witness of this extraordinary controversy, dissembled his fears and resentment, and soon dismissed the tumultuous assembly. Fravitta, alarmed and exasperated by the insolence of his rival, whose departure from the palace might have been the signal of a civil war, boldly followed him; and, drawing his sword, laid Priulf dead at his feet. Their companions flew to arms; and the faithful champion of Rome would have been oppressed by superior numbers, if he had not been protected by the seasonable interposition of the Imperial guards. 135 Such were the scenes of Barbaric rage, which disgraced the palace and table of the Roman emperor; and, as the impatient Goths could only be restrained by the firm and temperate character of Theodosius, the public safety seemed to depend on the life and abilities of a single man. 136
133 Constantinople was deprived half a day of the public allowance of bread, to expiate the murder of a Gothic soldier: was the guilt of the people. Libanius, Orat. xii. p. 394, edit. Morel.]
134 Zosimus, l. iv. p. 267-271. He tells a long and ridiculous story of the adventurous prince, who roved the country with only five horsemen, of a spy whom they detected, whipped, and killed in an old woman’s cottage, &c.]
* Eunapius. — M.]
135 Compare Eunapius (in Excerpt. Legat. p. 21, 22) with Zosimus, (l. iv. p. 279.) The difference of circumstances and names must undoubtedly be applied to the same story. Fravitta, or Travitta, was afterwards consul, (A.D. 401.) and still continued his faithful services to the eldest son of Theodosius. (Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. v. p. 467.)]
136 Les Goths ravagerent tout depuis le Danube jusqu’au Bosphore; exterminerent Valens et son armee; et ne repasserent le Danube, que pour abandonner l’affreuse solitude qu’ils avoient faite, (Oeuvres de Montesquieu, tom. iii. p. 479. Considerations sur les Causes de la Grandeur et de la Decadence des Romains, c. xvii.) The president Montesquieu seems ignorant that the Goths, after the defeat of Valens, never abandoned the Roman territory. It is now thirty years, says Claudian, (de Bello Getico, 166, &c., A.D. 404,)
Ex quo jam patrios gens haec oblita Triones,
Atque Istrum transvecta semel, vestigia fixit
Threicio funesta solo —
the error is inexcusable; since it disguises the principal and immediate cause of the fall of the Western empire of Rome.]
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:09