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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Antonina served the passions of the empress


disdain the idea of flight

or capitulation; repressed their clamorous impatience for battle; amused them with the prospect of a sure and speedy relief; and secured himself and the city from the effects of their despair or treachery. Twice in each month he changed the station of the officers to whom the custody of the gates was committed: the various precautions of patroles, watch words, lights, and music, were repeatedly employed to discover whatever passed on the ramparts; out-guards were posted beyond the ditch, and the trusty vigilance of dogs supplied the more doubtful fidelity of mankind. A letter was intercepted, which assured the king of the Goths that the Asinarian gate, adjoining to the Lateran church, should be secretly opened to his troops. On the proof or suspicion of treason, several senators were banished, and the pope Sylverius was summoned to attend the representative of his sovereign, at his head-quarters in the Pincian palace. [89] The ecclesiastics, who followed their bishop, were detained in the first or second apartment, [90] and he alone was admitted to the presence of Belisarius. The conqueror of Rome and Carthage was modestly seated at the feet of Antonina, who reclined on a stately couch: the general was silent, but the voice of reproach and menace issued from the mouth of his imperious wife. Accused by credible witnesses, and the evidence of his own subscription, the successor of St. Peter was despoiled of his pontifical ornaments, clad in the mean habit of a monk, and embarked,
without delay, for a distant exile in the East. [9011] At the emperor's command, the clergy of Rome proceeded to the choice of a new bishop; and after a solemn invocation of the Holy Ghost, elected the deacon Vigilius, who had purchased the papal throne by a bribe of two hundred pounds of gold. The profit, and consequently the guilt, of this simony, was imputed to Belisarius: but the hero obeyed the orders of his wife; Antonina served the passions of the empress; and Theodora lavished her treasures, in the vain hope of obtaining a pontiff hostile or indifferent to the council of Chalcedon. [91]

[Footnote 87: Procopius (Goth. l. ii. c. 3) has forgot to name these aqueducts nor can such a double intersection, at such a distance from Rome, be clearly ascertained from the writings of Frontinus, Fabretti, and Eschinard, de Aquis and de Agro Romano, or from the local maps of Lameti and Cingolani. Seven or eight miles from the city, (50 stadia,) on the road to Albano, between the Latin and Appian ways, I discern the remains of an aqueduct, (probably the Septimian,) a series (630 paces) of arches twenty-five feet high.]

[Footnote 88: They made sausages of mule's flesh; unwholesome, if the animals had died of the plague. Otherwise, the famous Bologna sausages are said to be made of ass flesh, (Voyages de Labat, tom. ii. p. 218.)]

[Footnote 89: The name of the palace, the hill, and the adjoining gate, were all derived from the senator Pincius. Some recent vestiges of temples and churches are now smoothed in the garden of the Minims of the Trinita del Monte, (Nardini, l. iv. c. 7, p. 196. Eschinard, p. 209, 210, the old plan of Buffalino, and the great plan of Nolli.) Belisarius had fixed his station between the Pincian and Salarian gates, (Procop. Goth. l. i. c. 15.)]

[Footnote 90: From the mention of the primum et secundum velum, it should seem that Belisarius, even in a siege, represented the emperor, and maintained the proud ceremonial of the Byzantine palace.]

[Footnote 9011: De Beau, as a good Catholic, makes the Pope the victim of a dark intrigue. Lord Mahon, (p. 225.) with whom I concur, summed up against him.--M.]


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