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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Supplied the rustic plenty of the Sclavonians


concealed, in the depth of

forests, on the banks of rivers, or the edges of morasses, we may not perhaps, without flattery, compare them to the architecture of the beaver; which they resembled in a double issue, to the land and water, for the escape of the savage inhabitant, an animal less cleanly, less diligent, and less social, than that marvellous quadruped. The fertility of the soil, rather than the labor of the natives, supplied the rustic plenty of the Sclavonians. Their sheep and horned cattle were large and numerous, and the fields which they sowed with millet or panic [14] afforded, in place of bread, a coarse and less nutritive food. The incessant rapine of their neighbors compelled them to bury this treasure in the earth; but on the appearance of a stranger, it was freely imparted by a people, whose unfavorable character is qualified by the epithets of chaste, patient, and hospitable. As their supreme god, they adored an invisible master of the thunder. The rivers and the nymphs obtained their subordinate honors, and the popular worship was expressed in vows and sacrifice. The Sclavonians disdained to obey a despot, a prince, or even a magistrate; but their experience was too narrow, their passions too headstrong, to compose a system of equal law or general defence. Some voluntary respect was yielded to age and valor; but each tribe or village existed as a separate republic, and all must be persuaded where none could be compelled. They fought on foot, almost naked, and except an unwieldy shield,
without any defensive armor; their weapons of offence were a bow, a quiver of small poisoned arrows, and a long rope, which they dexterously threw from a distance, and entangled their enemy in a running noose. In the field, the Sclavonian infantry was dangerous by their speed, agility, and hardiness: they swam, they dived, they remained under water, drawing their breath through a hollow cane; and a river or lake was often the scene of their unsuspected ambuscade. But these were the achievements of spies or stragglers; the military art was unknown to the Sclavonians; their name was obscure, and their conquests were inglorious. [15]

[Footnote 11: I adopt the appellation of Bulgarians from Ennodius, (in Panegyr. Theodorici, Opp. Sirmond, tom. i. p. 1598, 1599,) Jornandes, (de Rebus Geticis, c. 5, p. 194, et de Regn. Successione, p. 242,) Theophanes, (p. 185,) and the Chronicles of Cassiodorus and Marcellinus. The name of Huns is too vague; the tribes of the Cutturgurians and Utturgurians are too minute and too harsh. * Note: The Bulgarians are first mentioned among the writers of the West in the Panegyric on Theodoric by Ennodius, Bishop of Pavia. Though they perhaps took part in the conquests of the Huns, they did not advance to the Danube till after the dismemberment of that monarchy on the death of Attila. But the Bulgarians are mentioned much earlier by the Armenian writers. Above 600 years before Christ, a tribe of Bulgarians, driven from their native possessions


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