[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

[image ALT: link to previous section]
Ch. 13, §§1‑4
This webpage reproduces a chapter of
History of the Later Roman Empire

by J. B. Bury

published by Macmillan & Co., Ltd.,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has not been proofread.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


[image ALT: link to next section]
Ch. 14

Chapter XIII


(Part 2 of 2)

 p453  § 5. Italy under Theoderic

The rule of the Patrician Theoderic in Italy, if we date it from the battle of the Adda in A.D. 490, lasted thirty-six years. In its general constitutional and administrative principles it was a continuation of the rule of Odovacar. One of the first things Theoderic had to do was to settle his own people in the land, and this settlement was exactly similar to that which had been carried out by his predecessor. The Ostrogoths for the most part replaced Odovacar's Germans, who had been largely killed or driven out, though some of them who had submitted were permitted to retain their lands. The general principle was the assignment of one-third of the Roman estates to the Goths;106 but the commission which carried out the division was under the presidency of a senator, Liberius, so that we may be sure the senatorial domains were spared so far as possible.

For six years the Emperor Anastasius hesitated to define his attitude to Theoderic,107 but Theoderic carefully refrained from taking any measures that were incompatible with the position of a viceroy or that would render subsequent recognition difficult. At length they came to terms (A.D. 497), and a definite arrangement was made which determined the position of Italy and the  p454  status of the Ostrogothic kingdom. Theoderic still held the office of Master of Soldiers which Zeno had conferred upon him. Anastasius confirmed him in this office and recognised him as Governor of Italy under certain conditions, which in their general scope must have corresponded to the arrangement which Zeno had made with Odovacar. These conditions determined the constitutional position of Theoderic.

Under this arrangement Italy remained part of the Empire, and was regarded as such officially both at Rome and at Constantinople. In one sense Theoderic was an independent ruler, but there were a number of limitations to his power, which implied the sovranty of the Emperor and which he loyally observed.108

The position of the Ostrogothic king as a deputy comes out in the fact that he never used the years of his reign for the purpose of dating official documents. It comes out in the fact that he did not claim the right of coining money except in subordination to the Emperor.109 It comes out, above all, in the fact that he did not make laws.110 To make laws, leges in the full sense of the term, was reserved as the supreme prerogative of the Emperor. Ordinances of Theoderic exist, but they are not leges, they are only edicta; and various high officials, especially the Praetorian Prefect, could issue an edictum. Nor was this difference between law and edict, in Theoderic's case, a mere difference in name. Theoderic did promulgate general edicts, that is, laws which did not apply only to special cases, but were of a general kind permanently valid, and which if they had been enacted by the Emperor would have been called laws. But the Praetorian Prefect had the right of issuing a general  p455  edict, provided it did not run counter to any existing law. This meant that he could modify existing laws in particular points, whether in the direction of mildness or of severity, but could not originate any new principle or institution. The ordinances of Theoderic, which are collected in his code known as the Edictum Theoderici, exhibit conformity to this rule. They introduce no novelties, they alter no established principle. We are told that, when Theoderic first appeared in Rome, he addressed the people and promised that he would preserve inviolate all the ordinances of the Emperors in the past.111 Thus in legislation, Theoderic is neither nominally nor actually co-ordinate with the Emperor. His powers in this department are those of a high official, and though he employed them to a greater extent than any Praetorian Prefect could have done, on account of the circumstances of the case, yet his edicts are qualitatively on the same footing.

The right of naming one of the consuls of the year, which had belonged to the Emperor reigning in the West, was transferred by the Emperors Zeno and Anastasius to Odovacar and Theoderic.112 From A.D. 498 Theoderic nominated one of the consuls. On one occasion (A.D. 522) the Emperor Justin waived his own nomination and allowed Theoderic to name both consuls — Symmachus and Boethius. But in exercising this right the Ostrogothic king was bound by one restriction. He could not nominate a Goth; only a Roman could fill the consulship. The single exception corroborates the existence of the rule. In A.D. 519 Eutharic, the king's son-in‑law, was consul. But it is expressly recorded that the nomination was not made by Theoderic; it was made by the Emperor, as a special favour.113

The capitulation which excluded Goths from the consulship extended also to all the civil offices, which were maintained under Ostrogothic rule, as under that of Odovacar.114 There was still the Praetorian Prefect of Italy, and when Theoderic acquired Provence, the office of Praetorian Prefect of Gaul was revived. There was the Vicarius of Rome; there were all the provincial governors, divided as before into the three ranks of consulars,  p456  correctors, and praesides. There was the Master of Offices. There were the two great finance ministries.115 There was the Quaestorship of the Palace.116 It may be added that Goths were also excluded from the honorary dignity of Patricius. Under Theoderic no Goth bore that title but Theoderic himself, who had received it from the Emperor.

The Roman Senate, to which Goths on the same principle could not belong, continued to meet and to perform much the same functions which it had performed throughout the fifth century. It was formally recognised by Theoderic as possessing an authority similar to his own.117

If all the civil offices were reserved for the Romans, in the case of military posts it was exactly the reverse. Here it was the Romans who were excluded. The army was entirely Gothic; no Roman was liable to military service; and the officers were naturally Goths.118 Theoderic was the commander of the army, as Master of Soldiers, for, though he did not designate himself by the title, he had retained the office, and no Master of Soldiers was appointed, subordinate to himself.119 Though the old Roman troops and their organisation disappeared, it has been shown that the military arrangements were based in many respects on practices which had existed in Italy under Imperial rule.

The various disabilities of the Ostrogoths which have been described depended on the fact that they were not Roman  p457  citizens. They, like the Germans settled by Odovacar, had legally the same status as mercenaries or foreign travellers or hostages who dwelled in Roman territory, but might at any time return to their homes beyond the Roman frontier. The laws which applied only to Roman citizens, for instance those relating to marriage and inheritance, did not apply to them. But what may be called the ius commune, laws pertaining to criminal matters and to the general intercourse of life, applied to all foreigners who happened to be sojourning in Roman territory; and thus the Edict of Theoderic, which is based on Roman law, is addressed to Goths and Romans alike. The status of the Goths reminds us of a fundamental restriction of Theoderic's power. He could not turn a Goth into a Roman; he could not confer Roman citizenship; that power was reserved to the Emperor.

Their quality, as foreign soldiers, determined the character of the courts in which the Ostrogoths were judged. The Roman rule was that the soldier must be tried by a military court, and military courts were instituted for the Goths. But here Theoderic interfered in a serious way with the rights of the Italians. All processes between Romans and Goths, to whichever race the accuser belonged, were brought before these military courts. A Roman lawyer was always present as an assessor, but probably no feature of the Gothic government was so unpopular as this. Like the Emperor, Theoderic had a supreme royal court, which could withdraw any case from a lower court or cancel its decision, and this tribunal seems to have been more active than the corresponding court of the Emperor. It is indeed in the domain of justice, in contrast with the domain of legislation, that the German kings in Italy sharply asserted their actual authority.

Besides being Master of Soldiers in regard to the Ostrogothic host, Theoderic was likewise the king of the people. He did not style himself rex Gotorum; like Odovacar, he adopted the simple title of rex. This indefinite style was hardly due to the circumstance that the foreign settlers in Italy were not all Ostrogoths, that the remnant of Odovacar's Germans, and notably the Rugians,120 acknowledged his kingship. It was perhaps intended also to express his actual, as distinguished from his  p458  constitutional, relation to the Roman population. While the Roman citizens were constitutionally the subjects of the Emperor, of whom the Patrician Theoderic was himself a subject and official, they were actually in the hands of Theoderic, who was their real ruler. To designate this extra-constitutional relation, the word rex, which had no place in the constitutional vocabulary of Rome, was appropriate enough. It served the double purpose of expressing his regular relation to his German subjects, and his irregular relation, his quasi-kingship, to the Romans of Italy.121

The continuity of the administration of Odovacar with that of Theoderic was facilitated by the fact that some of the Roman ministers of Odovacar passed into the service of the Ostrogothic ruler, and probably the mass of subordinate officials remained unchanged. For instance, the first Praetorian Prefect of Italy under Theoderic was Liberius (A.D. 493‑500), who had been one of the trusted ministers of Odovacar. Cassiodorus — father of the famous Cassiodorus whose writings are our chief authority for Theoderic's reign, — who had held both the great financial offices under Odovacar, continued to serve under Theoderic, and in the early years of the sixth century became Praetorian Prefect.122

The constitutional system of administration which Theoderic accepted and observed was not a necessity to which he reluctantly  p459  or lukewarmly yielded. It was a system in which he seems to have been a convinced believer, and he threw his whole heart and best energies into working it. His object was to civilise his own people in the environment of Roman civilisation (civilitas). But he made no premature attempt to draw the two classes of his subjects closer, by breaking down lines of division. They were divided by religion and by legal status. So far as religion was concerned, the king was consistently tolerant, unlike the rulers of the Vandals and the Franks. His principle was: "We cannot impose religion because no one can be compelled to believe against his will" — a maxim which might well have been pondered on by Roman Emperors.123 So extreme was his repugnance to influencing the creed of his fellow-creatures that an anecdote was invented that he put to death a Catholic deacon for embracing Arianism to please him. If there is any foundation for the story, there must have been other circumstances; but it is good evidence as to his religious attitude; if it was entirely invented, it proves his reputation.124

And just as he accepted the duality of religion, he accepted the dual system by which Goths and Romans lived side by side as two distinct and separate peoples. He made no efforts to bring about fusion, his only aim was that the two nations should live together in amity. But little love was lost between them. The rude German barbarians despised the civilised Italians, and the Ostrogothic kingdom was overthrown before fusion could begin; but the development in Visigothic Spain, under similar conditions, makes it probable that fusion would have ensued, if the Ostrogothic power had endured. It says much for Theoderic's authority and tact that he was able to hold an equal balance between the two peoples, and to attain so nearly in practice to the difficult ideal which he set before him

Tors Tyriusque mihi nullo discrimine agetur.

After his death the concealed impatience of the Goths under his philo-Roman policy was soon to burst out and hurry them to disaster.

Although he aimed at maintaining peaceful relations with the Emperor throughout his long reign, this concord was  p460  threatened more than once, and there were even actual hostilities. A campaign which Theoderic undertook against the Gepids, in order to recover Sirmium and adjacent districts of the Prefecture of Italy which this people had occupied, led to a collision with the Imperial troops (A.D. 504‑505). The events are obscure.125 It would seem that the Gepids yielded with little resistance, in consequence of internal dissensions. But the expedition which Theoderic sent against them aroused the suspicions of Anastasius. At this time the central provinces of the Balkan peninsula were exposed to the depredations of a Hun, named Mundo, who had organised a band of brigands. The government sent the Master of Soldiers, Sabinian, to capture him, and Sabinian was supported by a formidable force of allied Bulgarians. Mundo appealed for help to the Ostrogothic general Pitzias, who was engaged in completing the occupation of the territory which he had won from the Gepids. Our informants do not explain why he should have made the brigand's cause his own, or regarded Sabinian's movements as a threat to the Goths; but he marched into Dacia and won a decisive victory over the Bulgarians. Mundo also inflicted a severe defeat on Sabinian at Horrea Margi.126 The key to this episode probably is that Anastasius viewed with alarm the Gothic occupation of the important frontier town of Sirmium; he preferred that it should be in the hands of the Gepids than in those of his viceroy.127 After the defeat of Sabinian, he must have acquiesced in Theoderic's restoration of the Prefecture of Italy to its old limits, for no further hostilities followed.128

These operations in the region of the Save were probably connected with an attempt to make his authority felt in the Pannonian province. Of the conditions in Noricum and Pannonia  p461  at this time we have no clear idea. But we know that about the year 507 Theoderic settled a portion of the Alamannic people in Pannonia, perhaps in Savia. The remnant of this people, after their defeat by Clovis (perhaps in A.D. 495), had wandered southward into Raetia to escape the sword or the yoke of the victor. Clovis requested Theoderic to surrender them, and we possess Theoderic's reply. He deprecated the Frank king's desire to push his victory further. "Hear the counsel," he wrote, "of one who is experienced in such matters. Those wars of mine have been profitable, the ending of which has been guided by moderation." He took the Alamanni under his protection and gave them a home within the borders of his kingdom.129

In his relations with foreign powers, Theoderic acted as an independent sovran. The four chief powers with which he had to reckon were the Visigoths, the Burgundians, the Franks, and the Vandals. It was natural that he should look for special co-operation from the Visigoths, who were a kindred folk. But his policy at first was not to draw the Visigoths into a close intimate alliance, which might seem a threat to the other powers. He sought to form bonds of friendship with all the reigning houses, by means of matrimonial alliances. If he wedded one of his daughters to the Visigothic king, Alaric II, the other married Sigismund (A.D. 494), who became king of the Burgundians after his father Gundobad's death. Theoderic himself took as his second wife a Frankish princess, sister of Clovis. And his own sister married Thrasamund, king of the Vandals (A.D. 500). Thus he formed close ties with all the chief powers of the West.130 One object of this policy was doubtless to maintain the existing order of things, to preserve peace in western Europe,  p462  and secure Italy against attack. But we can hardly be wrong in thinking that it was also the purpose of Theoderic to secure his own position in Italy, in relation to the Imperial power. He could hardly fail to foresee that the day might come when Anastasius or one of his successors might decide to bring Italy under his immediate government or to deal with himself as Zeno had dealt with Odovacar. To meet such a danger, it would be much to have behind him the support of the western powers. As the centre and head of the system, linking together the German royalties, he would be in a far stronger position in regard to his sovran at Constantinople than Odovacar had been standing alone.

The family alliances of Theoderic did not avail to hinder war. He could not avert the inevitable struggle between the Franks and the Visigoths in Gaul. No moment in his reign caused him perhaps more anxiety than when Clovis declared war upon Alaric. Theoderic did what he could. We have the three letters which he wrote at this crisis to Alaric, to Gundobad, and to Clovis himself.131 It was in vain. Theoderic promised armed help to his son-in‑law. But for some reason he was unable to render it. It would seem that he had calculated that the Burgundians would not side with the Franks, and that they cut him off so that he could not reach Aquitaine in time to intervene in the struggle. On the field of Vouillé (near Poictiers) the Visigothic king fell and Aquitaine was annexed to the dominion of the Franks (A.D. 507). But in the following years the generals of Theoderic conducted campaigns in Gaul. They succeeded in rescuing Arles and in saving Narbonensis for the Visigothic kingdom. They wrested Provence from Burgundy and annexed it to Italy. At the same time the personal power of Theoderic received another extension. The heir of Alaric was a child, and the government of his realm was consigned to Theoderic, who was his grandfather and most powerful protector. For the rest of his life Theoderic ruled Spain and Narbonensis. Thus no inconsiderable part of the western section of the old Roman Empire was under his sway: Spain, Narbonensis, and Provence, Italy and Sicily, the two provinces of Raetia, Noricum, part of Pannonia, and Dalmatia.

 p463  Thus the war in Gaul involved Theoderic, in spite of his relations to the royal houses, in hostilities against both the Franks and the Burgundians. The Burgundian alliance does not seem to have led to any close intimacy. Gundobad remained an Arian till his death (A.D. 516), but he took good care to remain on friendly terms with Anastasius. His son Sigismund, Theoderic's son-in‑law, who succeeded him, had been converted to Catholicism132 by Avitus, the bishop of Vienne, and appears to have been completely in the hands of Avitus and the Catholic clergy. He looked to the Emperor as his overlord, and addressed him in almost servile terms.133 Theoderic was alarmed at the prospect of political intimacy between Burgundy and Constantinople, and he would not allow Sigismund's messengers to travel through Italy to the East.134 The strained relations between the courts were shown by the circumstance that the consulship of Eutharic was not accepted in Burgundy as the date of A.D. 519.135 Theoderic probably placed his hopes in his grandson Sigeric, who, though he had been converted to the Catholic creed, was not on good terms with his father. His mother was dead, and Sigismund had taken a second wife. We know nothing authentic of the breach between father and son, but the end was that Sigeric was put to death by his father's orders (A.D. 522).136 Theoderic prepared for war to avenge his grandson, but it was the Franks, not the Ostrogoths, who were to punish Sigismund. It was not to their mind that Theoderic should have a free hand in Burgundy, and moving more quickly, they captured Sigismund and his family and subdued a part of the kingdom. An Ostrogothic force arrived afterwards and annexed the district between the Isère and the Durance to Theoderic's realm (A.D. 523).137

The war between the Franks and Visigoths seems to have led to friction between Theoderic and the Emperor. In that struggle Clovis posed as the champion of Catholic orthodoxy, going forth to drive the Arian heresy from the confines of Gaul,  p464 and all the sympathies of the Gallo-Roman Church were with the Franks. The Emperor afterwards showed his approbation of the Merovingian king by conferring upon him the honorary consulship.138 Theoderic meanwhile was supporting the Visigoths, and we may conjecture that his Gallic policy was disapproved by Anastasius, who (A.D. 508) despatched a squadron of a hundred ships to ravage the coasts of Apulia.139

The ecclesiastical relations between Rome and Constantinople affected the political situation in Italy, more or less, throughout the reign of Theoderic.140 This was partly due to the fact that the great Roman families were now all Christian, and many of the senators held strong opinions on the subject of the schism which the Henotikon of Zeno had provoked. Festus had taken advantage of his political mission to Constantinople in A.D. 497 to attempt to heal the schism. He told the Emperor that he had hopes of inducing theº Pope Anastasius to sign the Henotikon. But when he returned to Italy the Pope was dead.141 Festus, however, only represented the opinion of part of the Senate. There was a marked division in the views of the senators, of whom an influential section were opposed to any compromise on the theological question. This difference of opinion led to a bitter struggle over the election of a new Pope. Two men were elected on the same day (November 22, A.D. 498), Laurentius, the candidate of Festus and the party of reconciliation, and Symmachus, supported by the orthodox, who were prepared to make no concessions. Two rival Popes were enthroned in Rome, each upheld by strong and determined partisans, and for years the city was disturbed by sanguinary tumults.142 An appeal was made to Theoderic to decide between  p465  the two claimants. It is a remarkable episode in the history of the Church that such a question should be referred to an Arian. As the tranquillity of Italy was in peril, the ruler could not stand aloof, and he consented to give a decision. He was conscious of his obligations to Festus, but the clergy, especially the clergy of North Italy, were as a body adherents of Symmachus, and it was in favour of Symmachus that Theoderic decided (A.D. 499).

But the matter was not finally settled by the king's arbitrament. The behaviour of Symmachus was aggressive and uncompromising,143 and charges were brought against him, which were submitted to a synod held two years later. He was acquitted and recognised as the legitimate bishop of Rome,144 but his conduct alienated Theoderic, and no steps were taken to remove or suppress Laurentius, who continued to maintain his papal pretensions at Rome for the next few years. But in A.D. 505 there was a revulsion of feeling. The adherents of Laurentius were chiefly men who considered the maintenance of close relations with the Imperial court a fundamental interest of Italy. But their Italian sentiments were aroused by the incidents connected with Sirmium. Here their sympathy was with Theoderic, and it seems highly probable that the hostilities between the troops of Anastasius and those of his viceroy in Dacia were partly at least responsible for a general change of opinion in favour of Symmachus.145 This made the position of Laurentius impossible, and he was obliged to retire before the end of A.D. 506.

Thus ten years after the settlement which had been arranged between Theoderic and the Emperor, the policy of the Gothic ruler had brought it about that Italy presented a united front, and the influence of Constantinople now reached its lowest point. The Church and the Senate were united against the East on the ecclesiastical question. In the spring of A.D. 507 Ennodius, one of the leading dignitaries of the Italian Church,  p466  pronounced his Panegyric on the Arian king.146 But this situation was only momentary. Hitherto Theoderic had followed the example of Odovacar in basing his government on close co-operation with the great Roman families, members of which were chosen to fill the highest civil posts, especially the Prefecture of Rome and the Praetorian Prefecture of Italy. But from this time forward we can mark the beginning of a new policy. Probus Faustus Niger, who had been the leading champion of Symmachus in the conflict over the Papal throne, is indeed Prefect of Italy from A.D. 507‑512, but we find new men, who do not belong to the senatorial circle, appointed Prefects of the City.147 It was apparently the aim of Theoderic to diminish his dependence on the senate. At Ravenna he had gathered round him a circle of other ministers of provincial origin who were devoted to his interests. To such were entrusted the financial offices; from such were generally selected the Master of Offices and the Quaestor.

Of Theoderic's acts and policy throughout the rest of the reign of Anastasius we know very little. He looked with favour on the vain attempts of Vitalian to restore the unity of the Church, and was ready to co-operate with Pope Hormisdas to bring it about.148 It would be a mistake to read into his Edict, which was probably issued in A.D. 512, any design of diminishing the power or prestige of the senatorial classes.149 Throughout the provinces Romans and Goths alike were constantly attempting to encroach upon the lands of their neighbours; many acts of violence occurred;150 and the principal object of the Edict seems to have been to put an end to these illegalities and disorders.

 p467  The relations between Ravenna and Constantinople were never cordial. Italians who were banished from Italy by Theoderic were treated with marked favour at the Byzantine court, and received posts in the Imperial service. We learn this fact from Priscian, the distinguished African grammarian, who, leaving the realm of the Vandals, had settled in Constantinople and sympathised with the national feeling of the Italians against Gothic rule.151 The presence of these exiles, who, we may be certain, maintained a frequent correspondence with their friends in Rome, is a circumstance which must not be lost sight of in studying the relations of Theoderic with the Emperor and with the Roman Senate.

It is remarkable that Theoderic, who was educated at Constantinople and was imbued with sincere admiration for Greek and Roman civilisation, was illiterate. It is recorded that he was unable to write his own name. He caused a gold stencil plate to be pierced with the four letters legi (I have read), so that he could sign documents by drawing a pen through the holes.152

Theoderic chose Ravenna, the city of Honorius and Placidia and Valentinian, as his capital. The Emperors who reigned in the days of Ricimer had seldom resided in the palace of the Laurelwood (Lauretum), but Odovacar had made it his home. Theoderic built a new palace in another part of the city, and erected beside it a new church dedicated to St. Martin, in which his Arian Goths worshipped. Of the palace only a wall, if anything,  p468  remains. But the church, one of the fine works of the Ravennate school of architecture, still stands. It was afterwards dedicated to St. Apollinaris, and is known as Sant'º Apollinare Nuovo.153 Of the mosaic pictures which adorn the nave only those which are aloft near the roof, — scriptural scenes, — and the figures between the windows, belong to Theoderic's reign; the decoration of the church was not completed till thirty years after his death.154 We may assume that it was he who built the Arian baptistery which survives as S. Maria in Cosmedin. It is interesting to learn that near the State factories at the port of Classis he drained a portion of the marshes and planted an orchard.155

Ravenna has another famous memorial of Theoderic, the round mausoleum which he built for himself. It was "covered by a cupola consisting of a single piece of Istrian limestone, the circumference of which is provided with twelve handles, intended, without doubt, to lift by means of ropes and drop into its place this wonderful inverted basin."156 We must suppose that the body of the king once lay in the sepulchre which was designed to receive it. What befell it is a matter for conjecture; we only know that three hundred years later the tomb had long been empty.157

Under the rule of Theoderic, Italy is said to have enjoyed peace, prosperity, and plenty, such as she had not known for many a long year. His success was due not only to his political and military capacity, but also to his rigorous though humane ideal of justice. The praises of Italian panegyrists are borne  p469  by the verdict of one who was afterwards employed in active hostility against Theoderic's successors. If a Ravennate chronicler asserts that the king "did nothing wrong" (nihil perperam gessit),158 the historian Procopius makes a statement, hardly less unqualified, in regard to the justice of the administration, and dwells on the deserved devotion which his subjects entertained towards him.159 The peace and plenty of his times are illustrated with vivid hyperboles in an Italian chronicle.160 "Merchants from divers provinces used to throng to him. For so perfect was the public order that if a man wished to leave his silver or gold in his field, it was respected as much as if it were within the walls of a town. This was shown by the fact that he built no new gates for any town in all Italy, nor were the gates of any town ever closed. Any one could go about his business at any hour of the night just as if it were day. In his time sixty modii of wheat cost a solidus, and thirty amphorae of wine were sold for the same price."161 If this cheapness of provisions was normal, it would be one of the most convincing signs of the prosperity of Italy under Theoderic's government. But notwithstanding the improvement in their material conditions and in their general security, we can hardly believe that the Italians, with the barbarians settled in their midst, regarded themselves as steeped in felicity.

The Author's Notes:

106 A different view is maintained by Dumoulin (C. Med. H. I.447). He thinks that the lands assigned to the Germans both by Odovacar and by Theoderic were one-third of the State lands (ager publicus). It may be doubted whether the number of the Ostrogothic army exceeded 25,000. Hodgkin (III.202) puts it at 40,000, and the number of the whole nation at 200,000. This figure seems too high.

107 We saw that Theoderic, after his victory in 490, sent Flavius Festus, the chief of the Roman Senate, as an ambassador to Zeno (above, p224). While Festus was still at Constantinople, Anastasius succeeded and refused to recognise Theoderic. A second embassy was sent in 492, led by another distinguished senator, Flavius Anicius Probus Faustus Niger (CIL VI.32, 195), consul in 490, whom Theoderic had appointed Master of Offices. The result of the negotiations of Faustus was a partial recognition, as was shown by the fact that Anastasius permitted two western consuls to be nominated in 494. But Anastasius suspected Theoderic's intentions, and there was a breach. Faustus returned to Italy in 494. Then at the end of 496 (after the death of Pope Gelasius and the election of Anastasius II) Festus was again sent, and succeeded in concluding the definite arrangement of 497. The whole course of these negotiations has been ably examined by Sundwall (Abh. 190 sqq.), who makes it probable that they were closely affected by the ecclesiastical schism, and that the Synod of Rome held in May 495 by Gelasius and the intransigent attitude of the Italian bishops made it difficult for Anastasius to come to terms with the Senate, as the Senate itself was divided on the ecclesiastical question. That Theoderic depended mainly on the support of the Senate for regularising his position comes out very clearly in these transactions.

108 The following account is based on Mommsen's Ostgotische Studien in Hist. Schr. III p362 sqq.

109 Under Theoderic, and under Odovacar before him, gold coins minted at Ravenna and Rome bore the name and types of the contemporary Emperors. Odovacar struck silver and bronze coins with his own name and portrait (the thick moustache is realistic). Theoderic's silver coins have the Emperor's bust on the obverse and his own monogram on the reverse. The bronze have the Imperial bust on the obverse. The only known coin on which Theoderic's bust appears is a large triple solidus, obviously struck for some particular occasion. Only one specimen is extant. It has been supposed that the bust, which is almost a half-length figure, was copied from an actual statue or mosaic picture of Theoderic. We know that such figures existed. See Wroth, Catalogue of the Coins of the Vandals, etc. xxxi‑xxxii. Theoderic's coinage is "singularly neat and even elegant" (ib.).

110 In Procopius this is expressly asserted both of Theoderic and of his successors by representatives of the Goths. B. G. II.6 p176.

111 Anon. Val. 66. Compare Cassiodorus, Var.  I.1; XI.8 ad init. The general conservatism of Theoderic is emphasised in Var. III.9 propositi quidem nostri est nova construere sed amplius vetusta servare. Cp. I.25.

112 For the details of the arrangements as to the consulate see Mommsen, op. cit. 226 sqq.

113 Cassiodorus, Var. VIII.1.

114 It is to be noted that in most of his appointments to important offices Theoderic communicated his intentions to, or consulted with, the Senate.

115comes patrimonii was instituted, Odovacar's vicedominus (see above, p409) under another name. Goths were eligible for this post.

116 All the officia or staffs of subordinate officials were maintained. In the State documents of Cassiodorus, officium nostrum means the staff of the Master of Offices. Both this minister and the Praetorian Prefect resided at Ravenna, but had representatives at Rome who, like themselves, were illustres.

117 Parem nobiscum reipublicae debetis adnisum, Cassiod. Var. II.24.

118 The chief officers were called priors or counts.

119 Mommsen has illustrated this point by certain measures taken after Theoderic's death. His successor, Athalaric, was out of the question as commander of the forces, and the regent Amalasuntha appointed Tuluin, a Gothic warrior, and Liberius, a Roman, who was Praet. Prefect of Gaul, to be patricii praesentales. This involved two deviations from rule. Tuluin as a Goth was debarred from the dignity of patrician, and Liberius, as a Roman, from a military command. The office was simply that of mag. mil.; the moderation of the title illustrates the fact that the Mastership of Soldiers had become closely associated with the kingship through its long tenure by Theoderic. But I question whether Mommsen is right in assuming that Theoderic simply continued throughout his reign to hold the Mastership conferred on him by Zeno in 483. I conjecture that Zeno had appointed him mag. utriusque militiae in Italy before he set out (cp. above, p422), and that this was confirmed by Anastasius.

120 Procopius, B. G. III.2.

121 In an inscription commemorating his draining of the Pomptine marshes he is given the Imperial title of semper Augustus. He is there styled d. n. gloriosissimus adque inclytus rex, victor ac triumfator semper Aug., bono reipublicae natus, custos libertatis et propagator Romani nominis, domitor gentium, CIL X.6850. In one inscription he is mentioned along with an Emperor, probably Anastasius: salvis domino . . . Augusto et gloriossimo rege Theoderico, CIL VI.1794. He never wore the diadem.

122 The thoroughly Roman character of the Italian kingdom is clear. There are one or two points in which Germanic influence has been suspected. (1) The saiones were marshals or messengers whom the king employed to intimate his commands. They might summon the Gothic soldiers to arms or recall a Roman official to a sense of duty. The office of saio may be a German institution, or there may be nothing German about it but the name. The functions of these officials correspond to those of the agentes in rebus, who also existed in Italy at this time, though, as Mommsen has shown, they were called comitiaci. They may have served as a model for the institution of the saiones. (2) By an Imperial law of A.D. 393 any person who considered his personal safety in danger might apply for special protection, tuitio, and a judge was bound to assign a civil officer (apparitor) to protect him. Tuitio is very prominent in Ostrogothic Italy; it was granted by the king himself, and was one of the methods by which he preserved peace and order among the two races. The quickening of this Roman custom, and its special association with the king, may have been partly due to the Germanic idea of the king's duty of protection (munt).

123 Religionem imperare non possumus, quia nemo cogitur ut credat invitus. Cassiodorus, II.27

124 To the Jews also he extended toleration and protection. Cassiodorus, loc. cit.

125 The sources are Ennodius, Pan. Theod. 277‑280; Cassiodorus, Chron., sub 504; Marcellinus, Chron., sub 505; Jordanes, Get. 300‑301; Cassiodorus, Var. VIII.10.4; Or. p473. There are difficulties in reconciling them. Cp. Hodgkin, III.438 sqq.; Schmidt, Gesch. der deutschen Stämme, I.310.

126 The place is given by Marcellinus, who says nothing of Ostrogoths or Bulgarians, and by Jordanes, who does not mention Bulgarians. From Ennodius one might infer that the battle was fought in two sections; he passes lightly over Sabiniani ducis abitionem turpissimam.

127 The words of Ennodius are important: per foederati Mundonis adtrectationem Graecia est professa discordiam, secum Bulgares suos in tutela deducendo. It is to be observed that Mundo is described as an ally of the Ostrogoths. We are told nothing of his subsequent fortunes.

128 Ennodius, loc. cit., ad limitem suum Romana regna remearunt. For the organisation of Sirmian Pannonia by Theoderic see Cass. Var. III.2324.

129 See Cassiodorus, Var. II.41 and cp. III.50, where we see the Alamanni, on their way from Raetia to Pannonia, passing through Noricum. The date of both these letters is 507. Also Ennodius, Paneg. c. xv (this work belongs to the same year). Cp. Mommsen, Preface to Cassiod. pp. xxxiii‑xxxiv; Dahn, Kön. der Germ. IX.1 p64. Parts of Noricum and Raetia were occupied about the year 500 by Marcomanni and Quadi coming from Bohemia, driven westward by the Slavs; they were now known under the name of Bajuvarii, Bavarians (cp. Jordanes, Get. 280). Thus was founded Bavaria.

130 His niece married Hermanfrid, king of the Thuringians. He adopted as a son the king of the Heruls (Cassiodorus, Var. IV.2). He gave Lilybaeum to his sister Amalafrida when she married Thrasamund, acc. to Procopius, B. V. I.8, 11, whose statement is illustrated by an inscription on a boundary stone near that town marking the fines inter Vandalos et Gothos, CIL X.7232. Amalfrida Theodenanada (Dessau, 89990) seems to be a different person from Theoderic's sister, perhaps her daughter.

131 Cass. Var. III.1, 2, 4. He also wrote a circular letter to the kings of the Thuringians, Heruls, and Varni, ib. 3.

132 Avitus, C. Arianos, p2. The letters and works of Avitus, and the Vita of Caesarius, bishop of Arles, throw some general light on the history of Burgundy during the first quarter of the sixth century.

133 Avitus, Epp. 93 and 94. He writes for instance: vester quidem est populus meus et plus me servire vobis quam illi praeesse delectat.

134 Ep. 94.

135 CIL XII.1500.

136 Marius Avent., sub a. A legend grew up that his stepmother, whom he had insulted, accused him of treason, Gregory of Tours, H. F. III.5.

137 Cassiodorus, Var. VIII.10.8. Cp. Vita Caesarii, I.60.

138 Gregory of Tours, Hist. Fr. II.38 ab Anastasio imperatore codecillos de consulato accepit . . . et ab ea die tamquam consul aut augustus est vocitatus. The expression tamquam consul seems to be equivalent here to ex consule, the official title of honorary consuls (augustus seems to be a mistake of Gregory; if Clovis did assume it, it certainly was not conferred on him). In the Lex Salica (ed. Behrend, p125) Clovis is called proconsul. Mommsen has suggested that this is a mistake for praecelsus. It is possible that Gregory has confused consulship with proconsulship, and that Anastasius really conferred an honorary proconsulship. This, perhaps, is less likely.

139 Marcellinus, Chron., sub a. The ships carried 8000 soldiers.

140 This has been best elucidated by Sundwall, op. cit., which I have used much in what follows. Pfeilschifter's Theod. und die Kathol. Kirche is indispensable.

141 Died November 19, 498.

142 Cp. Theodore Lector, II.17. The most prominent supporter of Symmachus was Faustus.

143 He addressed a letter to the Emperor, to which the Emperor after some delay replied by a manifesto, and Symmachus rejoined in a rather violent Apologetic, which will be found in Thiel, Epp. R. Pont. p700 sqq.

144 The date of the Synodus Palmaris was probably early summer 502: Sundwall, op. cit. p206. Its enemies called it the Synodus absolutionis incongruae, and it was defended in a pamphlet by Ennodius, Libellus Romano Synodo, 287 sqq.

145 Sundwall, p212.

146 Sundwall, pp42‑43, has fixed the date.

147 Agapitus, 507‑509, followed by Artemidorus, and then Argolicus. Sundwall, p215.

148 Hormisdas succeeded Symmachus in 514. It may be mentioned here that it was in these two pontificates that the Scythian monk Dionysius Exiguus worked at Rome under the auspices of the Roman Church, translating into Latin the "Apostolical Canons" and the canons of the great Councils. This collection, to which he added the canons the Council of Sardica and the African Councils, became authoritative, and protected the chancery of the church of Rome (where Greek was little known) from being imposed upon by forgeries. Dionysius also established the custom of dating events from the Nativity, and introduced the cycle of 532 years (= 28 solar cycle × 19 lunar cycle), invented by Victorius of Aquitaine for the computation of Easter. For his works see P. L. 67. Maassen, Gesch. der Quellen u. der Litt. des Canonischen Rechtes, vol. I.

149 See Gaudenzi's article in Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung, VII.1, 1886.

150 Cassiodorus, Var. VIII.27. Lécrivain, Le Sénat, 178 sqq.

151 Priscian, Paneg. in Anastas. vv. 242 sqq. V. 265 expresses the hope that Gothic rule will not last long:

utraque Roma tibi nam spero pareat uni.

Priscian was a friend of Symmachus, to whom he dedicated three minor works (Sandys, Hist. Class. Scholarship, I p258). Cp. Usener, Anecd. Holders, 26.

152 Anon. Val. 79, where, however, it seems to be implied that at the end of ten years he had learned to write the four letters. If there is any truth in this we must suppose that the letters were arranged in an elaborate monogram, which would explain the use of a stencil plate, without having recourse to the inference of the chronicler that Theoderic was unable to write at all. The same device was adopted by the illiterate Emperor Justin, according to Procopius (H. A. 6). In Anon. Val. loc. cit., quattuor litteras legi habentem has manuscript authority and is read by the latest editor, Cessi; cp. the passage of Procopius (γραμμάτων τεττάρων, ἄπερ ἀναγνῶναι τῇ Λατίνων φωνῇ δύναται). The old reading was regis, and Valesius inserted Theod. after habentem. But the signature Theod or Theodoricus has more than four letters. A. J. Evans (Antiquarian Researches in Illyricum, Part III pp22, 23), with the text of Valesius before him, thought that a monument of Theodoricus is meant such as is found on coins and on an engraved gem, apparently a seal of an official of Theoderic.

153 See Rivoira, Lombardic Architecture, I.40 sqq. The Corinthian capitals in the nave and the ambo are of Byzantine workmanship. The palace of Theoderic is represented in the mosaics. The round campanile belongs to the ninth century (ib. 45).

154 Cp. Dalton, Byz. Art, 350. See below, vol. II p285.

155 Rex Theodericus . . . fabricis suis amoena coniugens, sterili palude siccata, hos hortos suavi pomorum fecunditate ditavit. CIL XI.10; Jordanes, Get. 151.

156 Rivoira, ib. 54. He remarks on the ability displayed in the construction of the build and its excellent proportions. Internally it is shaped like a cross with equal arms, must have been inspired by some Roman sepulchral edifice. Rivoira acknowledges the impulse given by Theoderic to art. Many public works were carried out by his direction, e.g. the restoration of the aqueducts of Ravenna, of the walls of Rome, and of the Theatre of Pompey; the construction of baths at Verona. Literature as well as art flourished under Theoderic. Cassiodorus, Boethius, and Ennodius were the most distinguished writers, but they do not exhaust the list.

157 This is recorded by Agnellus (who wrote in the ninth century), Lib. Pont. (in Scr. r. Lang.) p304. The sarcophagus was a porphyry urn.

158 Anon. Val. 60.

159 The encomium of Procopius will be found in B. G. I.1.

160 Anon. Val. 72, 73. The laudatory notices in this chronicler were perhaps inspired by the Panegyric of Ennodius. See Dumoulin's article in Revue historique, 1902.

161 Thus a modius of wheat (= about 2 gallons) cost 2½d., or a bushel cost 10d. and a quarter 6s. 8d. As the Roman amphora was nearly 6 gallons, a gallon of wine cost less than 1d. The price of wheat in Julian's time was between 1/10th and 1/15th of a solidus for a modius (Misopogon, 369), i.e. about a shilling. In the sixth century 16 artabae of Egyptian wheat were sold for two solidi (Pap. Cairo, I.67062). An artaba is generally reckoned = 3⅓ modii, but at this time it was equated with 3 modii (see tables in Pap. Cairo, II.67138), so that the price was 1/24th solidus = about 6d. a modius. On the other hand, in the accounts of Ammonius (ib.) we find 25 art. sold for 99½ keratia, or 1 art. for 1/6th solidus and 1 modius for 8⅓ d. (or somewhat more if the solidus was equated with 22 instead of 24 keratia).

Page updated: 21 Aug 17