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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Footnote 105 In the siege of Auximum


and his rational ambition would

prefer the safe and honorable station of a Roman general. Even the patience and seeming satisfaction with which he entertained a proposal of treason, might be susceptible of a malignant interpretation. But the lieutenant of Justinian was conscious of his own rectitude; he entered into a dark and crooked path, as it might lead to the voluntary submission of the Goths; and his dexterous policy persuaded them that he was disposed to comply with their wishes, without engaging an oath or a promise for the performance of a treaty which he secretly abhorred. The day of the surrender of Ravenna was stipulated by the Gothic ambassadors: a fleet, laden with provisions, sailed as a welcome guest into the deepest recess of the harbor: the gates were opened to the fancied king of Italy; and Belisarius, without meeting an enemy, triumphantly marched through the streets of an impregnable city. [108] The Romans were astonished by their success; the multitudes of tall and robust Barbarians were confounded by the image of their own patience and the masculine females, spitting in the faces of their sons and husbands, most bitterly reproached them for betraying their dominion and freedom to these pygmies of the south, contemptible in their numbers, diminutive in their stature. Before the Goths could recover from the first surprise, and claim the accomplishment of their doubtful hopes, the victor established his power in Ravenna, beyond the danger of repentance and revolt.

justify;">[Footnote 1041: Auximum, p. 175.--M.]

[Footnote 105: In the siege of Auximum, he first labored to demolish an old aqueduct, and then cast into the stream, 1. dead bodies; 2. mischievous herbs; and 3. quicklime. (says Procopius, l. ii. c. 27) Yet both words are used as synonymous in Galen, Dioscorides, and Lucian, (Hen. Steph. Thesaur. Ling. Graec. tom. iii. p. 748.)]

[Footnote 106: The Goths suspected Mathasuintha as an accomplice in the mischief, which perhaps was occasioned by accidental lightning.]

[Footnote 107: In strict philosophy, a limitation of the rights of war seems to imply nonsense and contradiction. Grotius himself is lost in an idle distinction between the jus naturae and the jus gentium, between poison and infection. He balances in one scale the passages of Homer (Odyss. A 259, &c.) and Florus, (l. ii. c. 20, No. 7, ult.;) and in the other, the examples of Solon (Pausanias, l. x. c. 37) and Belisarius. See his great work De Jure Belli et Pacis, (l. iii. c. 4, s. 15, 16, 17, and in Barbeyrac's version, tom. ii. p. 257, &c.) Yet I can understand the benefit and validity of an agreement, tacit or express, mutually to abstain from certain modes of hostility. See the Amphictyonic oath in Aeschines, de falsa Legatione.]

[Footnote 108: Ravenna was taken, not in the year 540, but in the latter end of 539; and Pagi (tom. ii. p. 569) is rectified by Muratori. (Annali d'Italia, tom. v. p. 62,) who proves from an original act on papyrus, (Antiquit. Italiae Medii Aevi, tom. ii. dissert. xxxii. p. 999--1007,) Maffei, (Istoria Diplomat. p. 155-160,) that before the third of January, 540, peace and free correspondence were restored between Ravenna and Faenza.] Vitiges, who perhaps had attempted to escape, was honorably guarded in his palace; [109] the flower of the Gothic youth was selected for the service of the emperor; the remainder of the people was dismissed to their peaceful habitations in the southern provinces; and a colony of Italians was invited to replenish the depopulated city. The submission of the capital was imitated in the towns and villages of Italy, which had not been subdued, or even visited, by the Romans; and the independent Goths, who remained in arms at Pavia and Verona, were ambitious only to become the subjects of Belisarius. But his inflexible loyalty rejected, except as the substitute of Justinian, their oaths of allegiance; and he was not offended by the reproach of their deputies, that he rather chose to be a slave than a king.


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