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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

That he beheld the angry countenance of Symmachus


[Footnote 98: He was executed in Agro Calventiano, (Calvenzano, between Marignano and Pavia,) Anonym. Vales. p. 723, by order of Eusebius, count of Ticinum or Pavia. This place of confinement is styled the baptistery, an edifice and name peculiar to cathedrals. It is claimed by the perpetual tradition of the church of Pavia. The tower of Boethius subsisted till the year 1584, and the draught is yet preserved, (Tiraboschi, tom. iii. p. 47, 48.)]

[Footnote 99: See the Biographia Britannica, Alfred, tom. i. p. 80, 2d edition. The work is still more honorable if performed under the learned eye of Alfred by his foreign and domestic doctors. For the reputation of Boethius in the middle ages, consult Brucker, (Hist. Crit. Philosoph. tom. iii. p. 565, 566.)]

[Footnote 100: The inscription on his new tomb was composed by the preceptor of Otho III., the learned Pope Silvester II., who, like Boethius himself, was styled a magician by the ignorance of the times. The Catholic martyr had carried his head in his hands a considerable way, (Baronius, A.D. 526, No. 17, 18;) and yet on a similar tale, a lady of my acquaintance once observed, "La distance n'y fait rien; il n'y a que lo remier pas qui coute." Note: Madame du Deffand. This witticism referred to the miracle of St. Denis.--G.]

[Footnote 101: Boethius applauds the virtues of his father-in-law, (l. i. pros. 4, p. 59, l. ii. pros. 4, p. 118.) Procopius, (Goth. l. i. c. i.,) the Valesian Fragment, (p. 724,) and the Historia Miscella, (l. xv. p. 105,) agree in praising the superior innocence or sanctity of Symmachus; and in the estimation of the legend, the guilt of his murder is equal to the imprisonment of a pope.]

Humanity will be disposed to encourage any report which testifies the jurisdiction of conscience and the remorse of kings; and philosophy is not ignorant that the most horrid spectres are sometimes created by the powers of a disordered fancy, and the weakness of a distempered body. After a life of virtue and glory, Theodoric was now descending with shame and guilt into the grave; his mind was humbled by the contrast of the past, and justly alarmed by the invisible terrors of futurity. One evening, as it is related, when the head of a large fish was served on the royal table, [102] he suddenly exclaimed, that he beheld the angry countenance of Symmachus, his eyes glaring fury and revenge, and his mouth armed with long sharp teeth, which threatened to devour him. The monarch instantly retired to his chamber, and, as he lay, trembling with aguish cold, under a weight of bed-clothes, he expressed, in broken murmurs to his physician Elpidius, his deep repentance for the murders of Boethius and Symmachus. [103] His malady increased, and after a dysentery which continued three days, he expired in the palace of Ravenna, in the thirty-third, or, if we compute from the invasion of Italy, in the thirty-seventh year of his reign. Conscious of his approaching end, he divided his treasures and provinces between his two grandsons, and fixed the Rhone as their common boundary. [104] Amalaric was restored to the throne of Spain. Italy, with all the conquests of the Ostrogoths, was bequeathed to Athalaric; whose age did not exceed ten years, but who was cherished as the last male offspring of the line of Amali, by the short-lived marriage of his mother Amalasuntha with a royal fugitive of the same blood. [105] In the presence of the dying monarch, the Gothic chiefs and Italian magistrates mutually engaged their faith and loyalty to the young prince, and to his guardian mother; and received, in the same awful moment, his last salutary advice, to maintain the laws, to love the senate and people of Rome, and to cultivate with decent reverence the friendship of the emperor. [106] The monument of Theodoric was erected by his daughter Amalasuntha, in a conspicuous situation, which commanded the city of Ravenna, the harbor, and the adjacent coast. A chapel of a circular form, thirty feet in diameter, is crowned by a dome of one entire piece of granite: from the centre of the dome four columns arose, which supported, in a vase of porphyry, the remains of the Gothic king, surrounded by the brazen statues of the twelve apostles. [107] His spirit, after some previous expiation, might have been permitted to mingle with the benefactors of mankind, if an Italian hermit had not been witness, in a vision, to the damnation of Theodoric, [108] whose soul was plunged, by the ministers of divine vengeance, into the volcano of Lipari, one of the flaming mouths of the infernal world. [109]


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