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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

The inspiration of the Virgin revealed to Narses the day


[Footnote

37: Theophanes, Chron. p. 193. Hist. Miscell. l. xvi. p. 108.]

As soon as Narses had paid his devotions to the Author of victory, and the blessed Virgin, his peculiar patroness, [38] he praised, rewarded, and dismissed the Lombards. The villages had been reduced to ashes by these valiant savages; they ravished matrons and virgins on the altar; their retreat was diligently watched by a strong detachment of regular forces, who prevented a repetition of the like disorders. The victorious eunuch pursued his march through Tuscany, accepted the submission of the Goths, heard the acclamations, and often the complaints, of the Italians, and encompassed the walls of Rome with the remainder of his formidable host. Round the wide circumference, Narses assigned to himself, and to each of his lieutenants, a real or a feigned attack, while he silently marked the place of easy and unguarded entrance. Neither the fortifications of Hadrian's mole, nor of the port, could long delay the progress of the conqueror; and Justinian once more received the keys of Rome, which, under his reign, had been five times taken and recovered. [39] But the deliverance of Rome was the last calamity of the Roman people. The Barbarian allies of Narses too frequently confounded the privileges of peace and war. The despair of the flying Goths found some consolation in sanguinary revenge; and three hundred youths of the noblest families, who had been sent as hostages beyond the Po, were

inhumanly slain by the successor of Totila. The fate of the senate suggests an awful lesson of the vicissitude of human affairs. Of the senators whom Totila had banished from their country, some were rescued by an officer of Belisarius, and transported from Campania to Sicily; while others were too guilty to confide in the clemency of Justinian, or too poor to provide horses for their escape to the sea-shore. Their brethren languished five years in a state of indigence and exile: the victory of Narses revived their hopes; but their premature return to the metropolis was prevented by the furious Goths; and all the fortresses of Campania were stained with patrician [40] blood. After a period of thirteen centuries, the institution of Romulus expired; and if the nobles of Rome still assumed the title of senators, few subsequent traces can be discovered of a public council, or constitutional order. Ascend six hundred years, and contemplate the kings of the earth soliciting an audience, as the slaves or freedmen of the Roman senate! [41]

[Footnote 38: Evagrius, l. iv. c. 24. The inspiration of the Virgin revealed to Narses the day, and the word, of battle, (Paul Diacon. l. ii. c. 3, p. 776)]

[Footnote 39: (Procop. Goth. lib. iv. p. 33.) In the year 536 by Belisarius, in 546 by Totila, in 547 by Belisarius, in 549 by Totila, and in 552 by Narses. Maltretus had inadvertently translated sextum; a mistake which he afterwards retracts; out the mischief was done; and Cousin, with a train of French and Latin readers, have fallen into the snare.]

[Footnote 40: Compare two passages of Procopius, (l. iii. c. 26, l. iv. c. 24,) which, with some collateral hints from Marcellinus and Jornandes, illustrate the state of the expiring senate.]


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