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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Footnote 411 Corripus Johannidos lib


by the superior numbers and

fierce aspect of the Barbarians. He proposed a treaty; solicited a reconciliation; and offered to bind himself by the most solemn oaths. "By what oaths can he bind himself?" interrupted the indignant Moors. "Will he swear by the Gospels, the divine books of the Christians? It was on those books that the faith of his nephew Sergius was pledged to eighty of our innocent and unfortunate brethren. Before we trust them a second time, let us try their efficacy in the chastisement of perjury and the vindication of their own honor." Their honor was vindicated in the field of Tebeste, by the death of Solomon, and the total loss of his army. [411] The arrival of fresh troops and more skilful commanders soon checked the insolence of the Moors: seventeen of their princes were slain in the same battle; and the doubtful and transient submission of their tribes was celebrated with lavish applause by the people of Constantinople. Successive inroads had reduced the province of Africa to one third of the measure of Italy; yet the Roman emperors continued to reign above a century over Carthage and the fruitful coast of the Mediterranean. But the victories and the losses of Justinian were alike pernicious to mankind; and such was the desolation of Africa, that in many parts a stranger might wander whole days without meeting the face either of a friend or an enemy. The nation of the Vandals had disappeared: they once amounted to a hundred and sixty thousand warriors, without including the children,
the women, or the slaves. Their numbers were infinitely surpassed by the number of the Moorish families extirpated in a relentless war; and the same destruction was retaliated on the Romans and their allies, who perished by the climate, their mutual quarrels, and the rage of the Barbarians. When Procopius first landed, he admired the populousness of the cities and country, strenuously exercised in the labors of commerce and agriculture. In less than twenty years, that busy scene was converted into a silent solitude; the wealthy citizens escaped to Sicily and Constantinople; and the secret historian has confidently affirmed, that five millions of Africans were consumed by the wars and government of the emperor Justinian. [5]

[Footnote 3: The Moorish wars are occasionally introduced into the narrative of Procopius, (Vandal. l. ii. c. 19--23, 25, 27, 28. Gothic. l. iv. c. 17;) and Theophanes adds some prosperous and adverse events in the last years of Justinian.]

[Footnote 4: Now Tibesh, in the kingdom of Algiers. It is watered by a river, the Sujerass, which falls into the Mejerda, (Bagradas.) Tibesh is still remarkable for its walls of large stones, (like the Coliseum of Rome,) a fountain, and a grove of walnut-trees: the country is fruitful, and the neighboring Bereberes are warlike. It appears from an inscription, that, under the reign of Adrian, the road from Carthage to Tebeste was constructed by the third legion, (Marmol, Description de l'Afrique, tom. ii. p. 442, 443. Shaw's Travels, p. 64, 65, 66.)]

[Footnote 411: Corripus (Johannidos lib. iii. 417--441) describes the defeat and death of Solomon.--M.]

[Footnote 5: Procopius, Anecdot. c. 18. The series of the African history at tests this melancholy truth.]

The jealousy of the Byzantine court had not permitted Belisarius to achieve the conquest of Italy; and his abrupt departure revived the courage of the Goths, [6] who respected his genius, his virtue, and even the laudable motive which had urged the servant of Justinian to deceive and reject them. They had lost their king, (an inconsiderable loss,) their capital, their treasures, the provinces from Sicily to the Alps, and the military force of two hundred thousand Barbarians, magnificently equipped with horses and arms. Yet all was not lost, as long as Pavia was defended by one thousand Goths, inspired by a sense of honor, the love of freedom, and the memory of their past greatness. The supreme command was unanimously offered to the brave Uraias; and it was in his eyes alone that the disgrace of his uncle Vitiges could appear as a reason of exclusion. His voice inclined the election in favor of Hildibald, whose personal merit was recommended by the vain hope that his kinsman Theudes, the Spanish monarch, would support the common interest of the Gothic nation. The success of his arms in Liguria and Venetia seemed to justify their choice; but he soon declared to the world that he was incapable of forgiving or commanding his benefactor. The consort of Hildibald was deeply wounded by the beauty, the riches, and the pride, of the wife of Uraias; and the death of that virtuous patriot excited the indignation of a free people. A bold assassin executed their sentence by striking off the head of Hildibald in the midst of a banquet; the Rugians, a foreign tribe, assumed the privilege of election: and Totila, [611] the nephew of the late king, was tempted, by revenge, to deliver himself and the garrison of Trevigo into the hands of the Romans.


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