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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Where the nobles of Lucania had taken refuge


[Footnote 13: During the long exile, and after the death of Vigilius, the Roman church was governed, at first by the archdeacon, and at length (A. D 655) by the pope Pelagius, who was not thought guiltless of the sufferings of his predecessor. See the original lives of the popes under the name of Anastasius, (Muratori, Script. Rer. Italicarum, tom. iii. P. i. p. 130, 131,) who relates several curious incidents of the sieges of Rome and the wars of Italy.]

[Footnote 14: Mount Garganus, now Monte St. Angelo, in the kingdom of Naples, runs three hundred stadia into the Adriatic Sea, (Strab.--vi. p. 436,) and in the darker ages was illustrated by the apparition, miracles, and church, of St. Michael the archangel. Horace, a native of Apulia or Lucania, had seen the elms and oaks of Garganus laboring and bellowing with the north wind that blew on that lofty coast, (Carm. ii. 9, Epist. ii. i. 201.)]

[Footnote 15: I cannot ascertain this particular camp of Hannibal; but the Punic quarters were long and often in the neighborhood of Arpi, (T. Liv. xxii. 9, 12, xxiv. 3, &c.)]

[Footnote 16: Totila.... Romam ingreditur.... ac evertit muros, domos aliquantas igni comburens, ac omnes Romanorum res in praedam ac cepit, hos ipsos Romanos in Campaniam captivos abduxit. Post quam devastationem, xl. autamp lius dies, Roma fuit ita desolata, ut nemo ibi hominum, nisi (nulloe?) bestiae morarentur, (Marcellin. in Chron. p. 54.)]

The loss of Rome was speedily retrieved by an action, to which, according to the event, the public opinion would apply the names of rashness or heroism. After the departure of Totila, the Roman general sallied from the port at the head of a thousand horse, cut in pieces the enemy who opposed his progress, and visited with pity and reverence the vacant space of the eternal city. Resolved to maintain a station so conspicuous in the eyes of mankind, he summoned the greatest part of his troops to the standard which he erected on the Capitol: the old inhabitants were recalled by the love of their country and the hopes of food; and the keys of Rome were sent a second time to the emperor Justinian. The walls, as far as they had been demolished by the Goths, were repaired with rude and dissimilar materials; the ditch was restored; iron spikes [17] were profusely scattered in the highways to annoy the feet of the horses; and as new gates could not suddenly be procured, the entrance was guarded by a Spartan rampart of his bravest soldiers. At the expiration of twenty-five days, Totila returned by hasty marches from Apulia to avenge the injury and disgrace. Belisarius expected his approach. The Goths were thrice repulsed in three general assaults; they lost the flower of their troops; the royal standard had almost fallen into the hands of the enemy, and the fame of Totila sunk, as it had risen, with the fortune of his arms. Whatever skill and courage could achieve, had been performed by the Roman general: it remained only that Justinian should terminate, by a strong and seasonable effort, the war which he had ambitiously undertaken. The indolence, perhaps the impotence, of a prince who despised his enemies, and envied his servants, protracted the calamities of Italy. After a long silence, Belisarius was commanded to leave a sufficient garrison at Rome, and to transport himself into the province of Lucania, whose inhabitants, inflamed by Catholic zeal, had cast away the yoke of their Arian conquerors. In this ignoble warfare, the hero, invincible against the power of the Barbarians, was basely vanquished by the delay, the disobedience, and the cowardice of his own officers. He reposed in his winter quarters of Crotona, in the full assurance, that the two passes of the Lucanian hills were guarded by his cavalry. They were betrayed by treachery or weakness; and the rapid march of the Goths scarcely allowed time for the escape of Belisarius to the coast of Sicily. At length a fleet and army were assembled for the relief of Ruscianum, or Rossano, [18] a fortress sixty furlongs from the ruins of Sybaris, where the nobles of Lucania had taken refuge. In the first attempt, the Roman forces were dissipated by a storm. In the second, they approached the shore; but they saw the hills covered with archers, the landing-place defended by a line of spears, and the king of the Goths impatient for battle. The conqueror of Italy retired with a sigh, and continued to languish, inglorious and inactive, till Antonina, who had been sent to Constantinople to solicit succors, obtained, after the death of the empress, the permission of his return.


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