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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Footnote 6011 Zabergan was king of the Cutrigours


[Footnote

6011: Zabergan was king of the Cutrigours, a tribe of Huns, who were neither Bulgarians nor Sclavonians. St. Martin, vol. ix. p. 408--420.--M]

[Footnote 61: In the decay of these military schools, the satire of Procopius (Anecdot. c. 24, Aleman. p. 102, 103) is confirmed and illustrated by Agathias, (l. v. p. 159,) who cannot be rejected as a hostile witness.]

[Footnote 62: The distance from Constantinople to Melanthias, Villa Caesariana, (Ammian. Marcellin. xxx. 11,) is variously fixed at 102 or 140 stadia, (Suidas, tom. ii. p. 522, 523. Agathias, l. v. p. 158,) or xviii. or xix. miles, (Itineraria, p. 138, 230, 323, 332, and Wesseling's Observations.) The first xii. miles, as far as Rhegium, were paved by Justinian, who built a bridge over a morass or gullet between a lake and the sea, (Procop. de Edif. l. iv. c. 8.)]

[Footnote 63: The Atyras, (Pompon. Mela, l. ii. c. 2, p. 169, edit. Voss.) At the river's mouth, a town or castle of the same name was fortified by Justinian, (Procop. de Edif. l. iv. c. 2. Itinerar. p. 570, and Wesseling.)]

But the eyes of the prince and people were directed to a feeble veteran, who was compelled by the public danger to resume the armor in which he had entered Carthage and defended Rome. The horses of the royal stables, of private citizens, and even of the circus, were hastily collected; the emulation of the

old and young was roused by the name of Belisarius, and his first encampment was in the presence of a victorious enemy. His prudence, and the labor of the friendly peasants, secured, with a ditch and rampart, the repose of the night; innumerable fires, and clouds of dust, were artfully contrived to magnify the opinion of his strength; his soldiers suddenly passed from despondency to presumption; and, while ten thousand voices demanded the battle, Belisarius dissembled his knowledge, that in the hour of trial he must depend on the firmness of three hundred veterans. The next morning the Bulgarian cavalry advanced to the charge. But they heard the shouts of multitudes, they beheld the arms and discipline of the front; they were assaulted on the flanks by two ambuscades which rose from the woods; their foremost warriors fell by the hand of the aged hero and his guards; and the swiftness of their evolutions was rendered useless by the close attack and rapid pursuit of the Romans. In this action (so speedy was their flight) the Bulgarians lost only four hundred horse; but Constantinople was saved; and Zabergan, who felt the hand of a master, withdrew to a respectful distance. But his friends were numerous in the councils of the emperor, and Belisarius obeyed with reluctance the commands of envy and Justinian, which forbade him to achieve the deliverance of his country. On his return to the city, the people, still conscious of their danger, accompanied his triumph with acclamations of joy and gratitude, which were imputed as a crime to the victorious general. But when he entered the palace, the courtiers were silent, and the emperor, after a cold and thankless embrace, dismissed him to mingle with the train of slaves. Yet so deep was the impression of his glory on the minds of men, that Justinian, in the seventy-seventh year of his age, was encouraged to advance near forty miles from the capital, and to inspect in person the restoration of the long wall. The Bulgarians wasted the summer in the plains of Thrace; but they were inclined to peace by the failure of their rash attempts on Greece and the Chersonesus. A menace of killing their prisoners quickened the payment of heavy ransoms; and the departure of Zabergan was hastened by the report, that double-prowed vessels were built on the Danube to intercept his passage. The danger was soon forgotten; and a vain question, whether their sovereign had shown more wisdom or weakness, amused the idleness of the city. [64]


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