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Ch. 17
This webpage reproduces a section of
History of the Later Roman Empire

by J. B. Bury

published by Macmillan & Co., Ltd.,
1923

The text is in the public domain.

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Ch. 18, §3‑4

p151 CHAPTER XVIII

THE RECONQUEST OF ITALY (I)

(Part 1 of 5)

§ 1. The last Years of King Theoderic (died A.D. 526)

The ecclesiastical reunion of Rome with the East, accomplished by Justinian and Pope Hormisdas, soon produced political effects. It would be rash to suppose that the idea of abolishing the Gothic viceroyalty and reasserting the immediate power of the Emperor in Italy had assumed a definite shape in the mind of Justinian in the early years of his uncle's reign. His own strong theological convictions may suffice to account for his policy. But the restoration of ecclesiastical unity was evidently the first step that would have been taken by a statesman who nursed the design of overthrowing the Gothic power. The existence of the schism did not indeed reconcile the Italian Catholics to the administration of the Goths, but it tended to render many of them less eager for a close political bond with Constantinople.

The death of Anastasius, with whom Theoderic never had been on terms of amity, was an important event for the Italian government. It can hardly be a coincidence that it was after Justin's succession that arrangements were made for the succession to the Ostrogothic throne. Theoderic had no male children. His daughter Amalasuntha had received a Roman education, and he had selected as her husband Eutharic, an Ostrogoth of royal lineage who was living obscurely in Spain.1 p152 The marriage was celebrated in A.D. 515, and a son, Athalaric, was born three years later. This infant Theoderic destined to be his successor. It was the right of the Goths to choose their own king, but the choice could hardly be made without an understanding with the Emperor if the future king was to be also the Emperor's viceroy and Master of Soldiers in Italy. That Justin was consulted, and that he agreed to Theoderic's plan, seems to be clearly shown by the fact that Eutharic was nominated consul for A.D. 519. As Goths were strictly excluded from the consulship, this could only be done by the personal motion of the Emperor, who thus signified his approbation of the settlement of the succession to the Italian throne.

When the reunion of the Churches was accomplished, Justin paid a marked compliment both to Theoderic and to the Senate by resigning the nomination of an eastern consul for A.D. 522 in order that the two sons of the distinguished Roman senator Boethius might fill the consulship as colleagues.2 It seemed as if cordial relations between Ravenna and Constantinople might now be firmly established, yet within a year the situation became more difficult and dangerous than ever.

We have no precise information as to the views of Eutharic.3 It appears that he entertained strong national feelings and was devoted to his Arian faith; and he may have been somewhat impatient of the moderate policy of his father-in‑law and the compromises to which it led. We do not know whether he would have been prepared to denounce the capitulations and cut Italy off from the Empire as an independent Gothic state. But he was suspicious of the intentions of the Emperor and of the loyalty of the Roman Senate. He died in the course of A.D. 522, but he may have influenced the situation by propagating these suspicions in Gothic circles. And the suspicions seemed to be confirmed by the edicts which Justin issued against the Arians. The Goths connected these efforts for the extinction of Arianism with the reunion of the Church; they feared that the Imperial policy would provoke an anti-Arian movement p153 in Italy; and the consequence was a growing mistrust of the Senate, and especially of these senators who had taken a prominent part in terminating the schism. Pope Hormisdas was trusted by Theoderic, but he died in August A.D. 523, and his successor, John I, was associated with those who desired a closer dependency of Italy on the Imperial government, as a means of attaining greater power and freedom for the Roman Senate.

It had been a token of Theoderic's goodwill when in autumn, A.D. 522, he appointed Boethius to the post of Master of Offices. Anicius Manlius Torquatus Severinus Boethius was a man of illustrious birth and ample fortune, whose life was dedicated to philosophy and science.4 Translated from the society of his kinsmen and friends at Rome into the court circles of Ravenna, he did not find himself at home and could not make himself popular. His severe ethical standards repelled the pliant and opportune palatine officials who surrounded the king, and probably he was not very tactful.5 He had held office for about a year when a storm suddenly burst over his head.

An official seized letters which had been despatched by some Roman senators to the Emperor.6 In this correspondence passages occurred which could be interpreted as disloyal to the government of Theoderic,7 and the patrician Faustus Albinus junior was particularly compromised. The matter passed into the hands of Cyprian, a referendarius whose duty it was to prepare the case for the king's Consistorium, which was the p154 tribunal for cases of treason.8 It is important to note that Cyprian was a man of unusual parts, and enjoyed the confidence of Theoderic, whom he used often to accompany on his rides.9 The intercepted letters of the friends of Albinus justified an investigation. Boethius was a member of the Consistory ex officio, and he spoke in defence of Albinus.10 It was impossible to deny the material facts, and Boethius took the line that Albinus was acting not in his private capacity but as a senator, and therefore was not alone responsible for his act. "The whole Senate, including myself, is responsible; there can be no action against Albinus as an individual." This defence was construed as a confession, and made the ground of a charge of treason against Boethius himself, and three men who belonged to ministerial circles but were under a cloud came forward to support the charge. He was arrested, and, as a matter of course, deprived of his office. Cassiodorus was appointed in his stead, and it may be ascribed to his influence that no attempt was made to involve other members of the Senate in the crime.11

Up to this point there is no reason for thinking that there was anything illegal in the procedure; but now, instead of completing the process of Albinus and trying Boethius before the p155 Consistory, the matter was taken out of the hands of that body, and the two men were thrown into prison at Ticinum (late autumn, A.D. 523). Thither the Prefect of Rome was summoned, and with him the king proceeded with the investigation of the case.12 Boethius was found guilty and condemned to death. Albinus drops out of the story, his fate is not recorded. Theoderic was determined to teach the Senate a lesson, but perhaps he thought it better to let the course of political events guide him to an ultimate decision as to the fate of the distinguished philosopher. In his dungeon13 Boethius composed his famous book on the Consolation of Philosophy, and probably expected that his sentence would be mitigated. But he was put to death (in the late summer or autumn of A.D. 524),14a and, it was said, in a cruel manner. A cord was tightened round his head, and he was despatched with a club.14

While Boethius was awaiting his trial, the senators met and debated. They were thoroughly alarmed, and passed decrees designed to exculpate themselves, and therefore repudiating Boethius and Albinus. The only man perhaps who stood by Boethius was his father-in‑law Symmachus, the head of the Senate. He may have used strong language; he declined at least to associate himself with the subservient decrees. Thereby he laid himself open to the charge that he defended treason and sympathised with traitors. He was arrested, taken to Ravenna, and executed. It was a foolish act, the precaution of a tyrant.15

p156 It is probable that these events had some connexion with an Imperial edict which was issued about this time, threatening Arians with severe penalties, excluding them from public offices and from service in the army, and closing their churches. Theoderic was alarmed. He resented the revival of pains and penalties against his fellow-religionists in the East, and he saw in the edict an encouragement to the Italians to turn against their Arian fellow-subjects. But the edict is not preserved, and we do not know the exact date of its promulgation; so that we cannot decide whether it influenced Theoderic's policy before the execution of Boethius. It may not have been issued till after his death.16 We can only say that severe measures against the Arians had been adopted, and reported in Italy, before the autumn of A.D. 525. Theoderic determined to bring matters to an issue at Constantinople by coming forward as the protector of his fellow-heretics in the East. He selected as his ambassador John, the bishop of Rome, who was induced to undertake the distasteful commission of urging the Emperor to relax his policy and of conveying to him the royal threat that, if he persisted, reprisals on Italian Catholics would be the consequence. The Pope set forth, accompanied by several bishops and prominent senators, some time between the beginning of September and p157 the end of November, A.D. 525.17 He was received in the eastern capital with an honourable welcome, and remained there at least five months. He celebrated Christmas and Easter in St. Sophia, and successfully vindicated his right to sit on a higher throne than the Patriarch's. It is recorded, and perhaps we have no right to question the statement, that Justin, though long since duly crowned, caused the Pope to crown him again.18 The mission succeeded in its principal object. The Emperor agreed to restore their churches to the Arians and permit them to hold their services. He refused to allow converted Arians to return to their old faith, but the main demand of Theoderic was conceded. Yet when the Pope and his companions returned to Ravenna in the middle of May19 their reception was the reverse of that which successful envoys might expect. They were arrested and thrown into prison.20 John, who had been ailing when he started for the East, died a few days later (May 18, A.D. 526);21 his body was taken to Rome and interred in St. Peter's; there was a popular demonstration at his funeral and he was regarded as a martyr.

There was a contested election for the succession to the vacant see. It was probably a contest of strength between the Italians who were friendly to the Ostrogothic regime and those who were not. The former succeeded in securing the victory of their candidate after a struggle of two months, and the election of Felix IV (July 12) was a satisfaction to Theoderic, who had expressly signalised his wishes in the matter to the members of the Senate.22

p158 But the days of Theoderic were numbered. Seven weeks later he was seized by dysentery, and died on August 30. Before his death he called together the Goths of his entourage and, presenting to them his grandson Athalaric as their future king, enjoined upon them to keep on good terms with the Senate and the Roman people, and always to show the becoming respect to the Emperor.23 Popular legend did not fail to connect his end with his recent acts of tyranny. It was said that a huge fish had been served at the royal table, and that to the king's imagination, tortured by conscience, its head, with long teeth and wild eyes, assumed the appearance of Symmachus. Theoderic took to his bed in terror, and declared to his physician his remorse for the slaughter of the illustrious senators.24

During the last year of his life he had been distressed by the fate of his sister Amalafrida, the widow of king Trasamund.25 She had remained in Africa after her husband's death, and was probably useful to her brother in maintaining the good relations between the courts of Ravenna and Carthage which her marriage had inaugurated. But as king Hilderic leaned more and more towards Constantinople, and fell under the influence of Justinian, he drew away from the Goths, and his friendship with Theoderic cooled. Amalafrida, who had her own Gothic entourage in her adopted country, was accused, rightly or wrongly, of conspiring against the king, and was thrown into prison, where she died, from natural causes it was given out, but it was suspected that her death was violent. All her Goths were killed. Theoderic, if he had lived, would doubtless have attempted to wreak vengeance on Hilderic. After his death his daughter was not in a position to do more than address to the king of the Vandals a strong remonstrance.26

p159 § 2. The Regency of Amalasuntha (A.D. 526‑534)

Theoderic was succeeded by a child, his grandson Athalaric, whom his daughter Amalasuntha had borne to Eutharic, and Amalasuntha held the reins of government as regent during her son's minority. She had received a Roman education at Ravenna; she was brave and intelligent,27 and perhaps sincerely believed in the ideal of blending the Italians and Goths into a united nation. Even if her convictions and sentiments had been different, the inherent weakness of a regency would have forced her to follow her father's last advice, to keep on good terms with the Emperor and to conciliate the Senate. The restoration of the confiscated properties of Boethius and Symmachus to their children was a pledge of the change. The Roman people was assured that no difference would be made in the treatment of Romans and Goths,28 and when the Senate and people swore loyalty to the young king, he also took an oath of good government to them. The Senate was invited to express its demands and desires.29 Ambassadors were sent to the Emperor bearing a letter30 in which he was requested to aid the youth of Athalaric, and it was suggested that the tomb should be allowed to bury old hatreds: Claudantur odia cum sepultis.

Amalasuntha determined to give her son the education of Roman princes, and she confided him to the care of three civilised p160 Goths, who shared her own views. But the Goths, as a whole, had no comprehension of the ideal of Italian civilisation at which she, like her father, aimed; they believed only in the art of war; and they regarded themselves as victors living in the midst of a vanquished population. It outraged their barbarian sentiments that their king should receive an education in the humanities. Their indignation was aroused when Athalaric, chastised by his mother for some fault, was found in tears. They whispered that the queen wished to do away with her son and marry again. Some of the leaders of this faction then sought an audience of Amalasuntha, and protested against the system of training which she had chosen for the king. A literary education, they urged, promotes effeminacy and cowardice; children who fear the whip cannot face the sword and spear; look at Theoderic, who had no idea of letters; let Athalaric be brought up in manly exercises with companions of his own age. Amalasuntha feigned to be persuaded by arguments with which she profoundly disagreed. She feared that, if she refused, she would be deposed from the regency, for there were but few among the Goths who sympathised with her ideas and policy. Athalaric was released from the discipline of pedagogues, but even the enemies of a liberal education would hardly have contended that the new system was a success. He was of a weak and degenerate nature, and the Gothic youths with whom he associated soon led him into precocious debauchery which ruined his health.

As time went on, the dissatisfaction of the Goths with the rule of Amalasuntha increased, and she became aware that a plot was on foot to overthrow her. She sent three of the most dangerous men who were engaged in the agitation against her to different places on the northern frontier, on the pretext of military duty. Finding that they still carried on their intrigues, she decided on stronger measures. Fully estimating the hazards of her position, she took the precaution of providing herself with a retreat. She wrote to Justinian, asking if he would receive her in case of need. The Emperor, who probably did not view with dissatisfaction the situation in Italy, cordially agreed, and prepared a mansion at Dyrrhachium for the queen's reception on her journey to Constantinople. Thus secured, Amalasuntha proceeded to the commission of murders, which it is common to palliate or justify by the plea of political necessity. p161 She sent some devoted Goths to assassinate the three arch-conspirators. She stowed 40,000 gold pieces in a vessel, which she sent to Dyrrhachium, directing that it should not be unloaded before her arrival. When she learned that the murders had been duly accomplished she recalled the ship and remained at Ravenna.

It is important to realise that the Ostrogothic kingdom was now politically isolated. The system of friendly understandings, cemented by family alliances, which Theoderic had laboured to build up among the western Teutonic powers was at the best a weak guarantee of peace; after his death it completely broke down. We have seen how the alliance with the Vandals was ruptured, and how Amalafrida, Theoderic's sister, was put to death by Hilderic,31 an injury which Amalasuntha was not in a position to avenge. The Thuringians, whose queen was her cousin, were attacked and conquered by the Franks.32 The Franks were also intent on driving the Visigoths from the corner of Gaul which they still retained; the young king Amalaric, the grandson of Theoderic, was killed (A.D. 531), and Theudis, who succeeded him, had enough to do to maintain the possession of Septimania. From that quarter the Ostrogoths could look for no support. The power of the Franks became more formidable by their conquest of Burgundy (A.D. 532‑534),33 and there was also the danger that the Ostrogothic provinces in Gaul might be attacked by their insatiable ambition. Thus the Italian regency would have been forced, even if there had been no internal difficulties, to conduct itself demurely and respectfully towards the Imperial power to which constitutionally it owed allegiance.

Amalasuntha had one near relative in Italy, her cousin Theodahad, the son of Amalafrida, queen of the Vandals, by a first marriage. He was the last person to whom she could look for help in her difficulties. Theodahad had none of the soldierly instincts of his race. He had enjoyed a liberal education and was devoted to the study of the philosophy of Plato. But he was far from being free from the passions which philosophy condemns. The ruling trait of his character was cupidity. p162 He had estates in Tuscany, and by encroachments on the properties of his neighbours he had gradually acquired a great part of that province.34 "He considered it a misfortune to have a neighbour." The Tuscans had complained of his rapacity, and Amalasuntha had forced him to make some restitutions, earning his undying hatred. He was not, however, naturally ambitious of power. His ideal was to spend the last years of his life in the luxury and society of Constantinople. When he first appears on the stage of history he takes a step to realise this desire. Two eastern bishops had come to Rome on business connected with theological doctrine.35 Theodahad entrusted them with a message to Justinian, proposing to hand over to him his Tuscan estates in return for a large sum of money, the rank of senator, and permission to live at Constantinople.

Along with these two bishops, Alexander, an Imperial agent, had arrived in Italy. His ostensible business was to present to the regent some trifling complaints of unfriendly conduct.36 At a public audience, Amalasuntha replied to the charges, dwelt on their triviality, and alleged her services to the Emperor in allowing his fleet to make use of Sicily in the expedition against the Vandals. But this performance was only intended to deceive the Goths. Justinian had followed closely events in Italy, and the real purpose of Alexander's visit was to conclude a secret arrangement with the regent. Her position was now more critical than ever. The premature indulgences of Athalaric had brought on a decline, and he was not expected to live. On his death her position, unpopular as she was with the Goths, would hardly be tenable, and she thought of resigning her power into the p163 hands of the Emperor.37 She communicated her intention to Alexander, who then returned to Constantinople with the bishops. On receiving the messages of Amalasuntha and of Theodahad, Justinian sent a new agent to Italy, Peter of Thessalonica, an able and persuasive diplomatist.

Meanwhile Athalaric died.38 But now that the critical moment had come, Amalasuntha, who enjoyed power, could not bear to part with it, and she committed a fatal blunder. She sent for her cousin Theodahad, assured him that, in attempting to curb his rapacity, her intention had been to prevent him from making himself unpopular, and offered him the title of king, on condition that she should retain in her own hands the exercise of government. Dissembling the bitter animosity which he felt towards her and of which she can have had little conception, he consented to her terms, and took a solemn oath to fulfil all she demanded. As soon as he was proclaimed king,39 formal letters were addressed to the Senate, in which Amalasuntha dwelled upon Theodahad's literary tastes, and Theodahad enlarged on Amalasuntha's wisdom, professing his resolve to imitate her.40 Letters were also despatched to Justinian, informing him of what had happened.41

But after the first hypocritical formalities, Theodahad lost little time in throwing off the mask. He gathered together the relatives of the three Goths who had been murdered by Amalasuntha's orders; the Gothic notables who were faithful to her were slain, and she was herself seized and imprisoned in an island in Lake Bolsena in Tuscany, which probably belonged to the king.42 She was then forced to write a letter to Justinian, assuring him that she had suffered no wrong. Theodahad wrote himself p164 to the same effect, and committed the letters to two senators — Liberius, the Praetorian Prefect of Gaul, and Opilio — to bear to Constantinople.

In the meantime, Peter, the new agent whom the Emperor had selected to continue the secret negotiations, had started. Travelling by the Egnatian Road, Peter met on his way the Goths who bore the news of Athalaric's death and Theodahad's elevation to the throne; and on reaching the port of Aulon (Valona), he met Liberius and Opilio, who informed him of the queen's captivity. Peter sent a fast messenger to Constantinople and awaited further orders.43 Justinian immediately wrote a letter to Amalasuntha, assuring her of his protection, and instructed Peter to make it clear to Theodahad and the Goths that he was prepared to support the queen. But the Emperor's authority and his envoy's representations did not avail to save Amalasuntha.44 She was killed — strangled, it was said, in a bath — in the lonely island by the relatives of the Goths whom she had slain, and who had persuaded Theodahad that her death was necessary to his own safety. Goths and Romans were alike shocked by the fate of Theoderic's daughter, whose private virtues were acknowledged by all. Peter told Theodahad, in the name of Justinian, that the criticism which had been perpetrated meant "a war without truce." The king pleaded that it had been committed against his will, but he continued to hold the assassins in honour.45

p165 This brief story of Amalasuntha's tragic end, told by Procopius in his History of the Wars, raises some perplexing questions, which might compel us, even if we had no other evidence, to suspect the presence of unexplained circumstances in the background. It is difficult to understand Theodahad's motive in permitting the murder, knowing, as well he knew, that such an act would cause the highest displeasure to Justinian and might lead to war, which, as his subsequent policy shows, he desired, almost at any cost, to avoid. Peter was in Italy at the time, and had been there for some months before the event. He had been instructed by the Emperor to champion the cause of Amalasuntha. How was it that he was not only unable to restore her to liberty but could not even save her life? When we find that Procopius is silent as to any efforts of the ambassador in the queen's behalf, and even, by an ambiguous sentence, allows his readers to believe that Peter arrived too late to interfere, there is ground for suspecting that the tale is only half told.

An explanation is forthcoming from the pen of Procopius himself. In his Secret History he had added a sinister supplement, which, he says, "it was impossible for me to publish through fear of the Empress."46 According to this story, Theodora viewed with alarm the prospect of Amalasuntha seeking refuge at Constantinople. She feared that this handsome and strong-minded woman might gain an influence over the Emperor, and she suborned Peter, by promises of money and office, to procure the death of the queen of the Goths. "On arriving in Italy, Peter persuaded Theodahad to despatch Amalasuntha. And p166 in consequence of this he was promoted to the dignity of Master of Offices, and won great power and general detestation."47 The credibility of this story has been doubted,48 but the evidence in its favour is considerably stronger than has been realised.

It may be observed, in the first place, that it supplies an adequate explanation of the conduct of Theodahad in consenting to the crime. Relying on the influence of the powerful Empress, he might feel himself safe in complying with the wishes of the Gothic enemies of Amalasuntha and ignoring the Emperor's threats. And, in the second place, there is nothing incredible in Theodora's complicity. There is nothing in her record to make us suppose that she was incapable of such a crime, and the motive was surely sufficient. It must be remembered that, on the scene of public affairs, Amalasuntha was, next to Theodora herself, the most remarkable living woman. She possessed advantages of person and education, which report might magnify, and in her eight years of government she had shown strength of mind and even unscrupulousness. But if in these respects she might compete with the Empress, her unblemished private character and her royal birth were advantages which Theodora could perhaps be hardly expected to forgive. Whatever be the truth about Theodora's early career, her origin was of the lowest, and report, rightly or wrongly, was busy with the licentiousness of her youth. We can well understand that Theodora would have been ready to go far in order to prevent the arrival at Constantinople of a king's daughter who might gain an influence over the Emperor and would in any case inevitably challenge comparisons unfavourable to herself.

The statement of Procopius respecting Theodora's part in the drama must be admitted to be perfectly credible, but, in the absence of corroborative evidence, it would be open to us to dismiss it as the specious invention of malice. We have, p167 however, independent evidence which corroborates Procopius in one important particular. It is an essential point in his story that Peter was the devoted agent of Theodora, and that she procured his appointment as ambassador to Ravenna. This is fully borne out by letters which Theodahad addressed to the Empress, when Peter returned to Constantinople after the murder. In these letters the ambassador is unambiguously described as her confidential envoy.49 Here too we learn the significant fact that she enjoined on Theodahad that, if he made any request to the Emperor, he should first submit it to her.50 Moreover, in a letter of Theodahad's wife Gudeliva to Theodora, there is a mysterious passage which, in the light of what Procopius tells us, can be most easily explained as a veiled reference to the crime. "While it is not seemly," wrote Gudeliva, "that there should be any discord between the Roman realms, an affair has occurred of such a kind as fitly to render us dearer to you."51 In a letter despatched immediately after the murder, this sentence bears an ominous significance.

The story of Procopius implies that the secret intrigues were known to a wide circle. Even if that were not so, he might have received information from Antonina, who was in Theodora's confidence, or from Peter himself. We must remember too that Theodahad, when he abandoned all thoughts of peace, had no motive to conceal the guilty intervention of Theodora. The conclusion that she did intervene and that Peter, acting by her orders, promoted the murder of Amalasuntha by hints and indirections, while he was ostensibly, in obedience to Justinian, acting in the interests of the queen, seems to be warranted by the evidence considered as a whole. This evidence would, of course, be far from sufficient to procure her conviction in a legal court. No public prosecutor could act on it. But where a jury would not be justified in convicting, public opinion is frequently justified in judging that a charge is true.


The Author's Notes:

1 He was descended from the famous king Hermanric (Jordanes gives the genealogy, Get. 81), and was discovered by Theoderic when he assumed the regency of Spain. His full name was Eutharic Cilliga (CIL VI.32003; Cassiodorus, Chron., sub 518). Rome was surprised and delighted by the magnificent shows of wild beasts procured from Africa and the lavish largesses which signalised his assumption of the consulship in January 519 (ib., sub a.). It was probably on the occasion of his consulship (p152) that Cassiodorus eulogised him in the Senate house (Var. ix.25) in an oration of which a fragment is preserved (Paneg. pp465 sqq., cp. p470).

2 On this occasion Boethius pronounced a panegyric on the king.

3 See Anon. Val. (the writer hostile to Theoderic) 80.

4 He had been consul in 510. He constructed a sun-dial, a water-clock, and a celestial globe at Theoderic's request, to be sent as gifts to the Burgundian king. For his writings see below, § 11.

5 He seems to have opposed and prevented the appointment of a certain Decoratus to the Quaestorship, because he considered him as having mentem nequissimi scurrae delatorisque (De consol. Phil. iii.4). Decoratus became Quaestor after the fall of Boethius. The epitaph in Rossi, Inscr. Chr. ii p113, may be his.

6 Severus was the name of the official (Suidas, s.v. Σεβῆρος). The sources for the following events are Boethius, De cons. Phil. i.4; Anon. Val. 85‑87; Lib. pont., Vita Johannis, pp275‑276; Procopius, B. G. I.1. The questions relating to the legal procedure and the exact nature of the charges have been much discussed, most recently by Cessi in his introduction to Anon. Val., where the literature of the subject will be found, p. cxxv.

7 Adversus regnum regis. The passage in Suidas suggests that Albinus himself was not the writer of any of the letters; they were written by his friends. He had been consul in 493 and Praet. Pref. of Italy in 513. He seems to have belonged to the Decian family (cp. Sundwall, Abh. p87).

8 For the duties of the referendarii see Cass. Var. vi.17 (per eum nobis causarum ordines exponuntur). Boethius (loc. cit.) speaks of Cyprian as a delator. Severus was the delator, not Cyprian, who only handled the delatio; and Cessi defends him as having simply performed his legal duty. But he may have shown a zeal and partiality in the prosecution which would explain the strong language of Boethius. Cp. Anon. Val. 86.

9 See the panegyrics of Cyprian's qualities in the letters conferring on him the office of Comes s. larg. and recommending him to the Senate of which this appointment made him a member, A.D. 524. Cassiodorus, Var. v.40 and 41. He knew Gothic as well as Greek and Latin (trifarii linguis).

10 I cannot agree with Cessi (p. cxlix) that it can be inferred from Cass. ib. VI.6.2 that it was a duty of the Master of Offices to defend accused senators. But any member of the Consistory could express his opinion on a case.

11 Cp. Sundwall, Abh. p246. Sundwall thinks that the guilt of Boethius lay not in his defence of Albinus, but in trying to suppress the accusation (p243). Cyprian was the subordinate of Boethius, and Boethius appears, on grounds of procedure, to have raised objections to the denunciation of Severus being received (delatorem ne documenta deferret quibus senatum maiestatis reum faceret impedire criminamur (De cons. Phil. i.4)). But surely this was only an incidental point, not the serious charge. The three witnesses were Basilius, Opilio, and Gaudentius, of whom Opilio was Cyprian's brother and a relative, perhaps son-in‑law, of Basilius. Boethius says that Basilius was in debt, and the other two had been condemned to exile ob multiplices fraudes. A year or two after Theoderic's death Opilio was appointed com. sacr. larg. and eulogised by Cassiodorus (Var. viii.16 and 17) in the usual way.

12 Boethius speaks of a forged letter which was used against him, loc. cit. In ordinary criminal trials of senators the tribunal consisted of the Prefect and five senators (Mommsen, Strafrecht, 287), and this procedure may have been adopted as Sundwall suggests (op.cit., 248), although, as it was a case of treason, the proper tribunal was the Consistorium. In any case, I am sure that the ordinary view that the Senate tried the case and sentenced Boethius is mistaken (so Cessi, cxlviii).

13 Probably at Ticinum. But Boethius himself had been transferred to Calvenzano (Anon. Val. 87) near Melegnano, about seven miles south of Milan.

14a 14b We do not know when the sentence was passed. Nine months or more seem to have elapsed between his arrest and execution. October 23 was the date accepted in ecclesiastical tradition for his death, but this tradition only emerges three centuries later and has been questioned (cp. the article on Boethius in D. Chr. B.). See Pfeilschifter, Theod. der Grosse, p164.

15 The passage in Boethius, i.4, an optasse illius ordinis salutem nefas vocabo? ille quidem suis de me decretis uti hoc nefas esset efficeret, is important. In my opinion it supplies the key to the arrest of Symmachus, which historians have not explained. It is evident that he did not subscribe to the decree repudiating his son-in‑law, for whose wrongs he was mourning (p156) (Boethius, op.cit., ii.4), and he can hardly have failed to speak in his defence. This attitude in the Senate furnished Theoderic with an excuse for arresting a man whom he had reason to fear as a near and dear relative of Boethius. The sources say nothing of a trial, but it seems unlikely that this formality was dispensed with. The date of the death of Symmachus fell in 525 (Marius Avent., sub a.), probably in the first half. I cannot agree with the transposition in the text of Anon. Val. proposed by Cessi (op.cit., cxxvii), which, by removing § 88‑91 so as to follow § 84, would make the notice of the death of Symmachus, § 92, follow immediately that of the death of Boethius.

16 We possess the edict against heretics of Justin and Justinian (the beginning of it is lost) issued in 527 (C. J. I.5.12; we are able to date it through the reference in I.5.18, §4), which contains the exception in favour of the Goths, made after the negotiations with Pope John. The date of 523‑524 for a measure against the Arians depends on Theophanes, A.M. 6016, where the mission of Pope John is misdated. I cannot agree with Pfeilschifter (op.cit., 168) that C. J. I.5.12 was issued in 523, with its reserve in favour of the Goths, and that, notwithstanding the reserve, severe measures were taken in winter of 523‑524 as a reprisal for the proceedings against Albinus and Boethius. It seems more probable that there was special legislation against the Arians in 524, provoked perhaps by the wealth of the Arian churches (πλοῦτόν τινα ἀκοῆς κρείττω, Procopius, H. A. 11.16), and that the persecution began without any reference to Italian politics. It must be emphasised that in the prosecution of Boethius there was no anti-Catholic tendency; his opponents (Cyprian, etc.) were Catholics.

17 The determination of this date, which is due to Pfeilschifter, depends (1) on the fact that John was in Constantinople at Christmas (so that he could not have started later than the end of November); this is known from the statement of a contemporary priest Procopius, who, when John arrived, was translating a Latin work into Greek (see note to Bonn ed. of Chron. Pasch. ii.120); (2) on a letter of Boniface, primicerius notariorum, addressed to the Pope before he left Italy in the 4th indiction which began on September 1 (so that he could not have started before September), Pitra, Analecta novissima, i.466, where the addressee is wrongly said to be John IV. Of the senators who were with John, Importunus and Theodorus, members of the great Decian family, and Agapetus were ex-consuls.

18 This is mentioned only in Lib. pont.

19 They must have started immediately after Easter day, which fell in 526 on April 19.

20 Lib. pont., in custodia eos omnes adflictos cremauit (tortured). Anon. Val. 93 says only in offensa sua eum esse iubet, which Cessi interprets (p. clix) as pointing to a rigorous surveillance.

21 Lib. Pont. XV kal. Iun.

22 This is clear from the letter of Athalaric to the Senate commending that body for having accepted his grandfather's choice. Cass. Var. viii.15.

23 Jordanes, Get. 304. As Justin had agreed to the concession which he demanded, and as he had secured the man he desired as head of the Catholic Church, it is perfectly incredible that four days before his death Theoderic should have drawn up a decree empowering the Arians to take possession of Catholic churches, as Anon. Val. 94 asserts. The statement, which stands alone, his generally been accepted, but Pfeilschifter is assuredly right in rejecting it.

24 Procopius, ib.; Jordanes, Get. 69.

25 In his last years it may be noted that he had experienced a succession of losses, which he must have keenly felt, by the deaths of Ennodius, a trusted friend (in 521), his son-in‑law Eutharic (523), his grandson Sigeric of Burgundy (522; see above, chap. xiii § 5); and the death of Pope Hormisdas, with whom he was always on cordial terms, was also a blow.

26 The letter was written by Cassiodorus and is preserved (Var. ix.1). The other sources are Procopius, B. V. III.9.3‑5, and Victor Tonn. (p159) sub 523 (the year of Trasamund's death). This date has been reasonably questioned by Schmidt (Gesch. der Wand. 122). For the letter of Cassiodorus strongly suggests that the queen's death was quite recent. I should be inclined to date it early in 526, and to connect with it (as Schmidt does) Theoderic's urgency in completing his naval armament, and collecting it at Classis on June 13. See Var. V.17.3 non habet quod nobis Graecus imputet aut Afer insultet (also letters 16, 18, and 19).

27 Compare the laudatory remarks of Procopius, B. G. I.2 p10; 4 p24. There is a miniature representation of Amalasuntha on the consular diptych of Orestes (A.D. 530) which is preserved at South Kensington. She wears earrings and pendants from her head-dress (πρεπενδούλια, like those worn by Roman Empresses of the time), but no diadem.

28 Cassiodorus, Var. viii.3.

29 Ibid. 2. A letter was also addressed to the Catholic clergy, requesting their prayers for Athalaric (ib. 8).

30 Ibid. 1. This letter is addressed in the MSS. to Justinian. There is a reference in the text to the Emperor's old age, and it is simpler to adopt Mommsen's correction Iustino than the explanation attempted by Martroye (p158‑159). It is to be noted that the Gothic general Tuluin (who had commanded in all Theoderic's campaigns since 504) was created a Patrician soon after Theoderic's death, and thus became a member of the Senate (Cass. Var. viii.9 and 10). This act must have been sanctioned by Justin.

31 See above, p129.

32 In 529 and following years. See below, Chap. XVIII § 13.

33 Between 529 and 532 Amalasuntha restored to Burgundy districts between the Isère and the Durance, which had been taken by Theoderic in 523. Cass. Var. XI.1.13; cp. VIII.10.8.

34 Theoderic had on more than one occasion to check and reprove his nephew's cupidity. Cass. Var. iv.39; v.12.

35 Hypatius of Ephesus and Demetrius of Philippi. Cp. Liberatus, Brev. xx. They bore a letter from the Emperor to the Pope, which, with the Pope's reply, is preserved in C. J. I.1.8. The former is dated June 6, 533, the latter March 25, 534. Thus the negotiations with Amalasuntha and Theodahad are dated to 533‑534, and we can infer that Alexander and the bishops left Italy at the end of March 534.

36 The three complaints were that she retained the fortress of Lilybaeum, which belonged to the Emperor; that she gave refuge to ten Huns who had deserted from the Imperial army; and that in a campaign against the Gepids in the neighbourhood of Sirmium, the Goths had committed hostile acts against Gratiana, a town in Moesia. The claim of the Emperor to Lilybaeum was founded on the circumstance that Theoderic gave it to his sister when she married Hilderic (see above, Vol. I p461). Belisarius had demanded its surrender at the end of the Vandalic war.

37 If Amalasuntha seriously contemplated this step, it was, though defensible theoretically on constitutional grounds, an act of gross treachery towards her own people.

38 On October 2, 534, according to Con. Ital. (Agnellus), in Chron. min. i.333. This accords with the statements of Procopius (B. G. I.4) and Jordanes (Rom. 367) that Athalaric reigned eight years. For the coins of his reign see Wroth, Coins of the Vandals, p. xxxiii. An inscription records that he constructed seats in the amphitheatre of Ticinum in 528‑529 (d. n. Atalaricus rex gloriosissimus, CIL V.6418).

39 Cons. Ital. loc. cit.: alia die, which seems to mean October 3, the day after Athalaric's death.

40 Cassiodorus, Var. x.3 and 4. Cassiodorus had been appointed Praet. Prefect before the end of Athalaric's reign. Cp. Var. xi.7.

41 Ib. 1 and 2.

42 There are two islands in the lake, Bisentina and Martana; the latter is supposed to be the scene of the tragedy.

43 That Peter's messengers outstripped the Italian ambassadors is clear from the narrative in Procopius. They arrived after Justinian had forwarded his instructions. Liberius told the whole truth, but Opilio sought to defend Theodahad. Historians have not observed that there is an interesting notice of the Emperor's reception of Liberius in Constantine Porph. De cerim. i.87 (taken doubtless from a work of this same Peter): Λίβερ ὁ πατρίκιος καὶ ἔπαρχος Γαλλιῶν ἐπεμφθη ἐνταῦθα παρὰ Θευδᾶ τοῦ ῥηγὸς Γότθων καὶ τῆς συγκλήτου Ῥωμαίων. Justinian accorded him the same honours as were due to a Praet. Pref. of the East. He afterwards passed into Justinian's service, and was Augustal Prefect of Egypt. We shall meet him again in Sicily and Spain.

44 Jordanes, Get. 306.

45 The chronology is beset by serious difficulties. The fact that Peter met the envoys of Amalasuntha at Thessalonica and those of Theodahad at Aulon, shows that her captivity began very soon after Theodahad's accession (we cannot infer anything from the vague post aliquantum tempus of Jordanes, Get. 306). The only evidence for the date of her murder is Cons. Ital., loc. cit., where she is said to have been imprisoned in Lake Bolsena on April 30, 535. It seems probable that this may really be the date of her murder; it cannot be that of her imprisonment, for she was already confined in the island when Theodahad sent his envoys to Justinian (B. G. I.4). In this view, I think, Leuthold (Untersuchungen zur ostgotischen Gesch. 26) is right. Peter, who seems to have left Constantinople (p165) in October, and was detained for some time at Aulon to receive instructions, must have reached Italy before the end of the year, or at latest in January. Here the difficulty arises. Procopius says (ib.) Πέτρου δὲ ἀφικομένου ἐς Ἰταλίαν Ἀμαλασούνθῃ ξυνέβη ἐξ ἀνθρώπων ἀφανισθῆναι. This has been generally interpreted to mean, Peter on his arrival in Italy found that Amalasuntha had already been done away with. We should thus be faced with three alternatives: (1) the rejection of the date April 30; (2) the extremely unlikely hypothesis that Peter remained at Aulon till May; (3) the hypothesis, put forward by Leuthold (ib. 24), that Procopius deliberately falsified facts. But the words of Procopius admit a different interpretation. In fact, they properly mean: After the arrival of Peter in Italy, it occurred that Amalasuntha was done away with (ἀφανισθῆναι is aorist, not pluperfect). My own view is that Procopius designedly made his statement ambiguous. He was treading on delicate ground, and he was afraid to force on the reader's attention the fact that Peter was some time (about four months) in Italy and was unable (or unwilling) to save the queen's life.

46 H.A. 16 ad init. Cp. above, p34.

47 Μάλιστα πάντων ἒχθους, Haury's correction of ἐχθρῶν.

48 Gibbon (c. xli) accepts it in his text, but throws some doubt about it in his note. Hodgkin rejects it as "a malicious after-thought of the revengeful old age of Procopius" (iii.720), but does not discuss the evidence. Diehl (Justinien, 181) observes: "La chose semble bien douteuse, quoique Théodora entretînt à ce moment même avec Théodat et sa femme une assez mystérieuse correspondance et que Pierre lui fût tout dévoué." Dahn thought that the story may perhaps be a pure invention (Prokopius, 379).

49 Cassiodorus, Var. x.20 additum est etiam gaudio meo quod talem virum vestra serenitas destinavit; iv 23 legatum vestrum . . . Petrum . . . vestris obsequiis inhaerentem.

50 Ib. 20 hortamini eum ut quicquid expetendum a triumphali principe domno iugali vestro credimus, vestris ante sensibus ingeramus.

51 Ib. 21 emersit tamen et qualitas rei, quae nos efficere cariores vestrae debeat aequitati. It must be remembered that the interests of Gudeliva were also involved. Her position as wife of the king, with Amalasuntha as the queen, would have been intolerable.

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