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Bill Thayer

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Ch. 8
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 been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
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Ch. 10

Vol. I
Chapter IX

The Empire of Attila

[image ALT: A map of the Balkan peninsula in Antiquity.]

§ 1. The Geography of the Balkan Peninsula

The misfortunes of the Balkan Peninsula have been almost uninterrupted from the fourth century to the present day. In the fifth and sixth centuries their plight was almost unendurable. They suffered not only from the terrible raids of nomad savages who had come from beyond the Volga, but also from the rapacious cruelty of the Germans. From the reign of Valens to that of Heraclius the unhappy inhabitants might any morning wake up to find a body of barbarians at their gates. As we shall be concerned in these volumes with the successive invasions of Huns, Ostrogoths, Slavs, and Bulgars, it will be well for the reader to have a general idea of the conformation and geography of the peninsula.1

We may consider Mount Vitoš, and the town of Sardica, now Sofia, which lies at its base as the central point. Rising in the shape of an immense cone to a height of 7500 feet, Vitoš affords to the climber who ascends it a splendid view of the various intricate mountain chains which diversify the surrounding lands — a view which has been pronounced finer than that at Tempe or that at Vodena. In the group of which this mountain and another named Ryl, to southward, are the highest peaks, two  p266  rivers of the lower Danube system, the Oescus (Isker) and the Nišava have their sources, as well as the two chief rivers of the Aegean system, the Hebrus (Maritsa) and the Strymon (Struma).

From this central region stretches in a south-easterly direction the double chain of Rhodope, cleft in twain by the valley of the Nestos (Mesta). The easterly range, Rhodope proper, forms the western boundary of the great plain of Thrace, while the range of Orbelos separates the Nestos valley from the Strymon valley.

The Haemus or Balkan chain which runs from west to east is also double, like Rhodope, but is not divided by a large river. The Haemus mountains begin near the sources of the Timacus (Timok) and the Margus (Morava), from which they stretch to the shores of the Euxine. To a traveller approaching them from the northern or Danubian side they do not present an impressive appearance, for the ascent is very gradual; plateau rises above plateau, or the transition is accomplished by gentle slopes, and the height of the highest parts is lost through the number of intervening degrees. But on the southern side the descent is precipitous, and the aspect is imposing and sublime. This contrast between the two sides of the Haemus range is closely connected with the existence of the second and lower parallel range, called the Srêdna Gora, which runs through Roumelia from Sofia to Sliven. It seems as if a convulsion of the earth had cloven asunder an original and large chain by a sudden rent, which gave its abrupt and sheer character to the southern side of the Haemus mountains, and interrupted the gradual upward incline from the low plain of Thrace.

The chain of Srêdna Gora, which is not to be confused with the northern chain of Haemus, is divided into three parts, which may be distinguished as the Karadža Dagh, the Srêdna Gora, and the Ichtimaner. The Karadža Dagh mountains are the most easterly, and are separated from Srêdna Gora by the river Strêma (a tributary of the Maritsa), while the valley of the Tundža (Taenarus), with its fields of roses and pleasantly situated towns, divides it from Mount Haemus. Srêdna Gora reaches a greater height than the mountains to east or to west, and is divided by the river Topolnitsa from the most westerly portion, the Ichtimaner mountains, which connect the Balkan system  p267  with the Rhodope system, whilst at the same time they are the watershed between the tributaries of the Hebrus and those of the Danube.

There are eight chief passes across the Haemus range from Lower Moesia to southern Thrace. If we begin from the eastern extremity, there is the coast pass which a traveller would take who, starting from Odessus (Varna), wished to reach Anchialus. The next pass was one of the most important. It crossed the Kamcija at Pannysus, and through it ran the road from Trajan's Marcianopolis (near Provad, between Šumla and Varna) southward. Farther west were the two adjacent passes of Veregava and Verbits (together known as the Gylorski pass).2 Passing over the Kotel and Vratniti passes, which seem to have been little used for military purposes in the period which concerns us, we come to the celebrated pass of Šipka which connects the valley of the Jatrus (Jantra) with that of the Tundža. Through it ran the direct road from Novae (Šistova) on the Danube to Beroe (Stara Zagora), Philippopolis, and Hadrianople.

From this pass eastward extend the wildest regions of the Balkans, which have always been the favourite home of outlaws — scamars, as they were called, or klephts — who could defy law in thick forests and inaccessible ravines, regions echoing with the songs and romances of outlaw life.

The traveller from Novae or Oescus (at Gigen, at the mouth of the river Isker) could also reach Philippopolis by the pass of Trojan, close to the sources of the river Asemus (Osma). Finally the long pass of Succi lay on the road from Sardica to Constantinople.

The journey from Singidunum to Constantinople along the main road was reckoned as 670 Roman miles. Singidunum (Belgrade), situated at the junction of the Save with the Danube, was the principal city of the province of Upper Moesia, and was close to the frontier between the eastern and western divisions of the Empire. The road ran at first along the right shore of the Danube, passing Margus (near the village of Dubravica, where the Margus or Morava joins the greater river), till it reached,  p268  ten miles from the Viminacium (close to Kostolats), an important station of the Danube flotilla. Here the traveller, instead of pursuing the eastward road to Durostorum (Silistria), turned southward and again reached the Morava at the town of Horreum Margi, one of the chief factories of arms in the peninsula. The next important town was Naissus (Niš), on the north bank of the Nišava, so strongly fortified that hitherto no enemy had ever captured it. To‑day it is the junction of railways, in old days it was the junction of many roads. The Byzantium route continued south-eastward, passing Remesiana (Ak Palanka) to Sardica, the chief town of the province of Dacia Mediterranea, beautifully situated in the large oval plain, under the great mountains, Vitoš on the west and Ryl to the south. From here south-westward ran a road to Ulpia Pautalia (Küstendil) and Dyrrhachium. The traveller pressing to Constantinople, when he left the plain of Sardica, ascended to the pass of Succi in the Ichtimaner mountains. This pass was considered the key of Thrace and was strongly fortified. Descending from this defile the road followed the left bank of the Heberus to Philippopolis (the chief city of the province of Thracia), standing on its three great syenite rocks, with a magnificent view of Mount Rhodope to the south-west. From Philippopolis to Hadrianople (the capital of the province of Haemimontus) was a journey of six days. On the way one passed the fort of Arzus, on a river of the same name (probably the Uzundža). Hadrianople lies at the junction of three rivers; here the Tonzus (Tundža) from the north, and the Artiscus (Arda) from the south, flow into the Hebrus. Another journey of six days brought the traveller to the shore of the Propontis. He passed Arcadiopolis (Lüle Burgas) the ancient Bergule, which the Emperor Arcadius had renamed, on a tributary of the river Erginus.3 He passed Drusipara (near Karištaran), from which a road led northward to Anchialus on the Black Sea. Then he came to Tzurulon (Corlu), and at last to Heraclea (the old Samian colony of Perinthus) on the sea, now a miserable village. Here the road joined the road from Dyrrhachium and Thessalonica, and the rest of the way ran close to the seashore, past Selymbria4 and the fort of Athyras (near  p269  Boyuk-Chekmedže) and Rhegium (at Kuchuk-Chekmedže), to the Golden Gate, which the traveller who tarried not on his way would reach on the thirty-first day after he had left Singidunum.5

When we turn to the western half of the Peninsula, the lands of Illyria and Macedonia, we find an irregular network of mountains, compared with which the configuration of Thrace is simple. In these highlands there are no great plains, and perhaps the first thing to be grasped is that the rivers which water them belong to the systems of the Black Sea and the Aegean, except in the south-west where the Drin and other smaller streams fall into the Hadriatic. Thus the line of watershed between the western and eastern seas runs near the Hadriatic eastward to the range of Scardus (Šar Dagh), which divides the streams that feed the Drilo (Drin) from the western tributaries of the Vardar. The Alpine lands of Dalmatia, using this name in its ancient and wider meaning, are watered by the river Drinus (Drina) and other tributaries of the Save. They are inhospitable and were thinly inhabited and their chief value lay in their mineral wealth.6 The principal roads connecting these highlands with the Hadriatic were those from Jader (Zara) to Siscia on the Save, and from Salona to Ad Matricem, which corresponds to the modern Sarajevo though it is not on the same site.

The Drina is the western boundary of modern Serbia which answers roughly to the ancient provinces of Moesia prima, Dacia mediterranea, and Dardania. In the centre of this country is the high range known as Kopaonik (mountain of Mines), which with the Yastrebac Planina and the Petrova Gora forms a huge triangle round which the two great branches of the river Morava flow in many curves and windings. The western branch is now known as the Ibar in its upper course and the eastern is sometimes called the Bulgarian Morava.7

The three places marked out to be the most important inland centres in Illyricum were Naissus, Scupi (Uskub), and Ulpiana. We have seen that the great road from Constantinople to  p270  Singidunum and the west passed Naissus, which lay near the right bank of the western branch of the Margus. Another road connected Naissus directly with Ratiaria (Widin) on the Danube, while south-westward it was linked by a route passing over the Prepolać saddle with Ulpiana,8 which was on the site of the modern village of Lipljan but corresponded in importance to Priština. This town was situated at the southern end of the Kossovo Polje, a plain about twenty miles long, famous as a battlefield in the later Middle Ages. Through this plain ran a road to Ad Matricem which passed Arsa, close to the modern Novipazar, and then turning westward continued its course by Plevlje and Goradža. Two other roads converged at Ulpiana, one from Scupi, which followed the course of the Lepenac, a tributary of the Vardar, and crossed the Kačanik Pass. The other road led to the Hadriatic: crossing the hills it emerged in the open country watered by the upper streams of the Drilo, and known as Metochia, from which it descended to Scodra (Scutari), whence the coast was reached either at Ulcinium (Dulcigno) or at Lissus (Alessio).

Scupi lay on the great road through the valley of the Vardar which brought Thessalonica into communication with the central districts of Illyricum and the Danube. From this centre Naissus could be reached not only by the Kačanik Pass and Ulpiana, but also by another road which skirted the mountains of Kara Dagh and followed the course of the western Margus. The most important station between Thessalonica and Scupi was Stobi, where a north-eastward road diverged to Pautalia and Sardica, while a cross-road connected Stobi with Heraclea (Monastir).

The land communication of Constantinople and Thessalonica with the ports on the Hadriatic was by the great Via Egnatia.9 Westward of Thessalonica, this road ran through western Macedonia and Epirus by Pella, Edessa (Vodena), Heraclea, Lychnidus (Ochrida), Scampae (El Basan), and Clodiana, where it diverged in a northerly direction to Dyrrhachium and in a southerly to Apollonia and Aulon (Valona).10

 p271  Throughout the greater part of the peninsula, north of the Egnatian Way, Latin had become the general language when the Roman conquest was consolidated,11 except in Thrace south of Mount Haemus and the southern towns of Macedonia near the coast-line, where the Greek tongue continued to be spoken.

§ 2. The Hun Invasions of the Balkan Peninsula (A.D. 441‑448)

At the beginning of the reign of Theodosius an invasion of the peninsula by a host of Huns was a prelude and a warning. They were led by Uldin, who boasted that he could subdue the whole earth or even the sun. He captured Castra Martis,12 but as he advanced against Thrace he was deserted by a large multitude of his followers, who joined the Romans in driving their king beyond the Danube. The Romans followed up their victory by defensive precautions. The strong cities in Illyricum were fortified, and new walls were built to protect Byzantium; the fleet on the Danube was increased and improved. But a payment of money was a more effectual barrier against the barbarians than walls, and about A.D. 424 Theodosius consented to pay 350 lbs. of gold to King Rugila.

The tribes of the Huns were ruled each by its own chieftain, but Rugila seems to have brought together all the tribes into a  p272  sort of political unity.13 He had established himself between the Theiss and the Danube. The treaty which the government of Ravenna made with Rugila, when the Huns withdrew from Italy in A.D. 425 after the subjugation of the tyrant John, seems to have included the provision that the Huns should evacuate the Pannonian province of Valeria which they had occupied for forty-five years.14 But soon afterwards a new arrangement was made by which another part of Pannonia was surrendered to them, apparently districts on the lower Save,15 but not including Sirmium. We may conjecture that this concession was made by Aetius in return for Rugila's help in A.D. 433.16

Rugila died soon after this,17 and he was succeeded by his nephews Bleda and Attila,18 the sons of Mundiuch, as joint rulers. Bleda played no part on the stage of history. Attila was a leading actor for twenty years, and his name is still almost a household word. He was not well favoured. His features, according to a Gothic historian, "bore the stamp of his origin; and the portrait of Attila exhibited the genuine deformity of a modern Kalmuck: a large head, a swarthy complexion, small, deep-seated eyes, a flat nose, a few hairs in the place of a beard, broad shoulders, and a short square body of nervous strength though of a disproportioned form. The haughty step and demeanour of the king of the Huns expressed the consciousness of his superiority above the rest of mankind, and he had the custom of fiercely rolling his eyes as if he wished to enjoy the terror which he inspired."19 He was versed in all the arts of diplomacy, but  p273  the chief aim of his policy was plunder. He was far less cruel than the great Mongolian conqueror of the thirteenth century, Chingiz Khan, with whom he has sometimes been compared; he was capable of pity and could sometimes pardon his enemies.

Attila had some reason for his haughty disdain if he could trace his line of ancestry back for a thousand years and was directly descended from the great chieftains of the Hiung‑nu,20 whose names have been recorded by early Chinese writers. And if we accept this descent as a genuine tradition, we can infer that he was not of pure Turkish blood. Some of his forefathers had married Chinese princesses, and there may also have been an admixture of the blood of Indo-Scythians.21

At the beginning of the new reign several points of dispute which had arisen between Rugila and Theodosius were settled. The settlement was entirely to the advantage of the Huns. The Imperial government undertook to double the annual payment, which was thus raised to 700 lbs. of gold; not to receive Hun deserters; to surrender all those who had already deserted; to restore or pay a ransom for Roman prisoners who had escaped; not to form an alliance with any barbarian people at war with the Huns; and to place no restrictions on the trade between the two peoples. The prohibition of receiving fugitives from Attila's empire was particularly important, because the Roman army was largely recruited from barbarians beyond the Danube.

During the early years of his reign, from A.D. 434 to 441, he seems to have been engaged in extending his power in the east towards the Caucasian Mountains. But in A.D. 441 an irresistible opportunity offered itself for attacking the provinces of Theodosius, for in that year the Imperial armies were engaged in operations against both the Vandals and the Persians.

He condescended to allege reasons for his aggression. He complained that the tribute had not been regularly paid, and  p274  that deserters had not been restored. When the Imperial government disregarded his complaints,22 he appeared on the Danube and laid siege to Ratiaria. Here Roman ambassadors arrived to remonstrate with him for breaking the peace. He replied by alleging that the bishop of Margus had entered the land of the Huns and robbed treasures from the tombs of their kings, and he demanded the surrender of these treasures as well as of deserters. The negotiations broke down, and, having captured and plundered Ratiaria, the Hunnic horsemen rode up the course of the Danube to take the great towns on the banks. Viminacium and Singidunum itself were overwhelmed in the onslaught. Margus, which faces Constantia on the opposite side of the river, fell by treachery; the same bishop whom Attila accused as a grave-robber betrayed a Roman town and its Christian inhabitants to the cruelty of the heathen destroyer. Advancing up the valley of the Margus, the invaders halted before the walls of Naissus, and though the inhabitants made a brave defence, the place yielded to the machines of Attila and the missiles of a countless host. Then the marauders rode south-eastward and approached Constantinople. He did not venture to attack the capital, but he took Philippopolis and Arcadiopolis and the fort of Athyras.23

The strong fortress of Asemus on the Danube, in Lower Moesia,24 won high praise for its valiant resistance to Hunnic squadrons, which separating from the main body had invaded Lower Moesia. They besieged Asemus, and the garrison so effectually harassed them by sallies that they were forced to retreat. A successful defence was not enough for the men of Asemus. Their scouts discovered the times when plundering bands were returning to the camp with spoils, and these moments were seized by the garrison, who unexpectedly assailed these small bodies of Huns and rescued many Roman prisoners.

The Imperial troops, which had been operating against the Persians and the Vandals, must have been available for operations against the Huns in A.D. 442 or 443, but it is not recorded  p275  that Aspar or Areobindus took the field when they returned from Persia and Sicily. We hear that a battle was fought in the Thracian Chersonese and that Attila was victorious, and after this a peace was negotiated by Anatolius (A.D. 443). The terms were humiliating for the Emperor. Henceforward the annual Hun-tribute of 700 lbs. of gold was to be trebled, and an additional payment of 6000 lbs. was to be made at once. All Hun deserters were to be surrendered to Attila, while Roman deserters were to be handed over to the Emperor for a payment of ten solidi a head.

Hitherto the realm of the Huns had been divided between the two brothers, Bleda and Attila. Of Bleda's government and deeds we hear nothing. We may conjecture that he ruled in the east, from the Lower Danube to the Volga, and Attila in the west. Soon after the Peace of Anatolius, Attila found means to put Bleda to death and unite all the Huns and vassal peoples under his own sway. For the next nine years (A.D. 444‑453) he was the most powerful man in Europe.

The Illyrian and Thracian provinces enjoyed a respite from invasion for three years. But in A.D. 447 the Huns appeared again south of the Danube. The provinces of Lower Moesia and Scythia, which had suffered less in the previous incursions, were now devastated. Marcianopolis was taken, and the Roman general Arnegisclus fell in a battle on the banks of the river Utus (Wid). At the same time, another host of the enemy descended the valley of the Vardar and advanced, it is said, to Thermopylae.25 Others approached Constantinople, and many of its inhabitants fled from it in terror. So we are told by a contemporary, who says that more than a hundred towns were taken, and that the monks and nuns in the monasteries near the capital were slain, if they had not already fled.26

Attila was now in a position to enlarge his demands. A new peace was concluded (A.D. 448) by which a district, along the right bank of the Danube, extending from Singidunum eastward to Novae, and of a breadth of five days' journey, should be left waste and uninhabited, as a march region between the two realms, and Naissus, which was now desolate, should mark the  p276  frontier.27 But Attila continued to vex the government at Constantinople with embassies, complaints, and demands, and as the drain on the treasury was becoming enormous, the eunuch Chrysaphius conceived the base idea of bribing an envoy of Attila to murder his master. Edecon, the principal minister of Attila, accepted the money and returned to his master's residence, which was somewhere between the rivers Theiss and Körös, in company of a Roman embassy the head of which was Maximin. But the plot was revealed to Attila. He respected the person of the ambassador, but he sent to Constantinople Orestes (a Roman provincial of Pannonia who served him as secretary) with the bag which had held the bribe tied round his neck, and ordered him to ask Chrysaphius in the Emperor's presence whether he recognised it. The punishment of the eunuch was to be demanded. The Emperor then sent two men of patrician rank, Anatolius (Master of Soldiers in praesenti) and Nomus (formerly Master of Offices), to pacify the anger of the Hun. Attila treated them haughtily at first, but then showed surprising magnanimity and no longer insisted on the punishment of Chrysaphius. He promised to observe the treaty and not to cross the Danube (A.D. 449‑450).

Until the end of the reign of Theodosius the oppressive Hun-money was paid to Attila, but, as we saw, Marcian refused to pay it any longer. It seemed that the Illyrian provinces would again be trampled under the horse-hoofs of the Hun cavalry, though little spoil can have been left to take. But Attila turned his eyes westward, where there was hope of richer plunder, and the realm of Valentinian, not that of Marcian, was now to be exposed to the fury of the destroyer.

§ 3. The Empire and Court of Attila

Under the rule of Rugila and Attila the Hunnic empire had assumed an imposing size and seemed a formidable power. The extent of Attila's dominion has doubtless been exaggerated, but his sway was effective in the lands (to use modern names) of Austria, Hungary, Roumania, and Southern Russia. How  p277  far northward it may have reached cannot be decided. The most important of the German peoples who were subject to Attila were the Gepids (apparently in the mountainous regions of northern Dacia),28 the Ostrogoths (who had migrated westward from their old homes on the Euxine),29 and the Rugians (somewhere near the Theiss)30 — all in the neighbourhood of the lands where the Huns themselves had settled. The Gepid king, Ardaric, was Attila's most trusted counsellor, and next to him, Walamir, one of the Ostrogothic kings. On these peoples he could rely in his military enterprises. Before A.D. 440 the Huns had made an incursion into the Persian empire, and such was the prestige of their arms and Attila's power eight years later that the Roman officers talked of the chances of the overthrow of Persia and the possible consequences of such an event for the Roman world.

Attila indeed looked upon himself as overlord of all Europe, including the Roman Empire. Theodosius paid him a huge sum yearly, Valentinian paid him gold too; were they not then his tributaries and slaves? He dreamed of an empire reaching to the islands of the Ocean,31 and he was soon to make an attempt to extend it actually to the shores of the Atlantic.32 In his dealings with the Empire he had one great military advantage. We have already seen how the Imperial government depended on the Huns and on the Germans beyond the frontier for the recruiting of its armies. Without his Hunnic auxiliaries Aetius would hardly have been able to save as much of Gaul as he succeeded in saving from the rapacity of the German settlers. Attila was in a position to stop these sources of supply. He could refuse to send Hunnic contingents to help the Romans again their enemies; he could forbid individual Huns to leave  p278  their country and enter Roman service; and he could bring pressure to bear on his vassal German kings to issue a similar prohibition to their subjects. That he was fully conscious of this power and made it a feature of his policy, is shown by his stern insistence, in negotiating with Theodosius, that all Hun deserters should be surrendered; perhaps by the device of keeping a strip of neutral territory south of the Danube in order to make it more difficult for his own subjects to pass into the Roman provinces; and particularly by the fact that when his empire was broken up after his death, the empire was inundated by Germans seeking to make their fortunes in Roman service.

Since their entry into Europe the Huns had changed in some important ways their life and institutions. They were still a pastoral people, they did not learn to practise tillage, but on the Danube and the Theiss the nomadic habits of the Asiatic steppes were no longer appropriate or necessary. And when they became a political power and had dealings with the Roman Empire — dealings in which diplomacy was required as well as the sword — they found themselves compelled to adapt themselves, however crudely, to the habits of more civilised communities. Attila found that a private secretary who knew Latin was indispensable, and Roman subjects were hired to fill the post. But the most notable fact in the history of the Huns at this period is the ascendancy which their German subjects appear to have gained over them. The most telling sign of this influence is the curious circumstance that some of their kings were called by German names. The names of Rugila,33 Mundiuch (Attila's father), and Attila are German or Germanised. This fact clearly points to intermarriages, but it is also an unconscious acknowledgment of the Huns that their vassals were higher in the scale of civilisation. If the political situation had remained unchanged for another fifty years the Asiatic invader would probably have been as thoroughly  p279  Teutonised as the Alans, whom the Romans had now come to class among the Germanic peoples.34

Of Attila himself we have a clearer impression than of any of the German kings who played leading parts in the period of the Wandering of the Nations. The historian Priscus, who accompanied his friend Maximin, the ambassador to Attila, in A.D. 448, and wrote a full account of the embassy, drew a vivid portrait of the monarch and described his court. The story is so interesting that it will be best to reproduce it in a free translation of the original.35

We set out with the barbarians, and arrived at Sardica, which is thirteen days for a fast traveller from Constantinople. Halting there we considered it advisable to invite Edecon and the barbarians with him to dinner. The inhabitants of the place sold us sheep and oxen, which we slaughtered, and we prepared a meal. In the course of the feast, as the barbarians lauded Attila and we lauded the Emperor, Bigilas remarked that it was not fair to compare a man and a god, meaning Attila by the man and Theodosius by the god. The Huns grew excited and hot at this remark. But we turned the conversation in another direction, and soothed their wounded feelings; and after dinner, when we separated, Maximin presented Edecon and Orestes with silk garments and Indian gems. . . .

When we arrived at Naissus we found the city deserted, as though it had been sacked; only a few sick persons lay in the churches. We halted at a short distance from the river, in an open space, for all the ground adjacent to the bank was full of the bones of men slain in war. On the morrow we came to the station of Agintheus, the commander-in‑chief of the Illyrian armies (magister militum per Illyricum), who was posted not far from Naissus, to announce to him the Imperial commands, and to receive five of those seventeen deserters, about whom Attila had written to the Emperor. We had an interview with him, and having treated the deserters with kindness, he committed them to us. The next day we proceeded from the district of Naissus towards the Danube; we entered a covered valley with many bends and windings and circuitous paths. We thought we were travelling due west, but when the day dawned the sun rose in front; and some of us unacquainted with the topography cried out that the sun was going the wrong way, and portending unusual events. The fact was that that part of the road faced the east, owing to the irregularity of the ground. Having passed these rough places we arrived at a plain which was also well wooded. At the river we were received by barbarian ferrymen, who rowed us across the river in boats made by themselves out of single trees hewn and hollowed. These preparations had not been made for our sake, but to convey across a company of Huns; for Attila pretended that he wished to hunt in Roman territory, but his intent was really hostile, because all the deserters  p280  had not been given up to him. Having crossed the Danube, and proceeded with the barbarians about seventy stadia, we were compelled to wait in a certain plain, that Edecon and his party might go on in front and inform Attila of our arrival. As we were dining in the evening we heard the sound of horses approaching, and two Scythians arrived with directions that we were to set out to Attila. We asked them first to partake of our meal, and they dismounted and made good cheer. On the next day, under their guidance, we arrived at the tents of Attila, which were numerous, about three o'clock, and when we wished to pitch our tent on a hill the barbarians who met us prevented us, because the tent of Attila was on low ground, so we halted where the Scythians desired. . . . (Then a message is received from Attila, who was aware of the nature of their embassy, saying that if they had nothing further to communicate to him he would not receive them, so they reluctantly prepared to return.) When the baggage had been packed on the beasts of burden, and we were perforce preparing to start in the night time, messengers came from Attila bidding us wait on account of the late hour. Then men arrived with an ox and river fish, sent to us by Attila, and when we had dined we retired to sleep. When it was day we expected a gentle and courteous message from the barbarian, but he again bade us depart if we had no further mandates beyond what he already knew. We made no reply, and prepared to set out, though Bigilas insisted that we should feign to have some other communication to make. When I saw that Maximin was very dejected, I went to Scottas (one of the Hun nobles, brother of Onegesius), taking with me Rusticius, who understood the Hun language. He had come with us to Scythia, not as a member of the embassy, but on business with Constantius, an Italian whom Aetius had sent to Attila to be that monarch's private secretary. I informed Scottas, Rusticius acting as interpreter, that Maximin would give him many presents if he would procure him an interview with Attila; and, moreover, that the embassy would not only conduce to the public interests of the two powers, but to the private interest of Onegesius, for the Emperor desired that he should be sent as an ambassador to Byzantium, to arrange the disputes of the Huns and Romans, and that there he would receive splendid gifts. As Onegesius was not present it was for Scottas, I said, to help us, or rather help his brother, and at the same time prove that the report was true which ascribed to him an influence with Attila equal to that possessed by his brother. Scottas mounted his horse and rode to Attila's tent, while I returned to Maximin, and found him in a state of perplexity and anxiety, lying on the grass with Bigilas. I described my interview with Scottas, and bade him make preparations for an audience of Attila. They both jumped up, approving of what I had done, and recalled the men who had started with the beasts of burden. As we were considering what to say to Attila, and how to present the Emperor's gifts, Scottas came to fetch us, and we entered Attila's tent, which was surrounded by a multitude of barbarians. We found Attila sitting on a wooden chair. We stood at a little distance and Maximin advanced and saluted the barbarian, to whom he gave the Emperor's letter, saying that the Emperor prayed for the safety of him and his. The king replied, "It shall be unto the Romans as they wish it to  p281  be unto me," and immediately addressed Bigilas, calling him a shameless beast, and asking him why he ventured to come when all the deserters had not been given up.36 . . .

After the departure of Bigilas, who returned to the Empire (nominally to find the deserters whose restoration Attila demanded, but really to get the money for his fellow-conspirator Edecon), we remained one day in that place, and then set out with Attila for the northern parts of the country. We accompanied the barbarian for a time, but when we reached a certain point took another route by the command of the Scythians who conducted us, as Attila was proceeding to a village where he intended to marry the daughter of Eskam, though he had many other wives, for the Scythians practise polygamy. We proceeded along a level road in a plain and met with navigable rivers — of which the greatest, next to the Danube, are the Drecon, Tigas, and Tiphesas — which we crossed in the monoxyles, boats made of one piece, used by the dwellers on the banks: the smaller rivers we traversed on rafts which the barbarians carry about with them on carts, for the purpose of crossing morasses. In the villages we were supplied with food — millet instead of corn,º and mead (μέδος), as the natives call it, instead of wine. The attendants who followed us received millet, and a drink made of barley, which the barbarians call kam. Late in the evening, having travelled a long distance, we pitched our tents on the banks of a fresh-water lake, used for water by the inhabitants of the neighbouring village. But a wind and storm, accompanied by thunder and lightning and heavy rain, arose, and almost threw down our tents; all our utensils were rolled into the waters of the lake. Terrified by the mishap and the atmospherical disturbance, we left the place and lost one another in the dark and the rain, each following the road that seemed most easy. But we all reached the village by different ways, and raised an alarm to obtain what we lacked. The Scythians of the village sprang out of their huts at the noise, and, lighting the reeds which they use for kindling fires, asked what we wanted. Our conductors replied that the storm had alarmed us; so they invited us to their huts and provided warmth for us by lighting large fires of reeds. The lady who governed the village — she had been one of Bleda's wives — sent us provisions and good-looking girls to console us (this is a Scythian compliment). We treated the young women to a share in the eatables, but declined to take any further advantage of their presence. We remained in the huts till day dawned and then went to look for our lost utensils, which we found partly in the place where we had pitched the tent, partly on the bank of the lake, and partly in the water. We spent that day in the village drying our things; for the storm had ceased and the sun was bright. Having looked after our horses and cattle, we directed our steps to the princess, to whom we paid our respects and presented gifts in return for her courtesy. The gifts consisted of things which are esteemed by the barbarians as not produced in the country — three silver phialai, red skins, Indian pepper, palm fruit, and other delicacies.

 p282  Having advanced a distance of seven days farther, we halted at a village; for as the rest of the route was the same for us and Attila, it behoved us to wait, so that he might go in front. Here we met with some of the "western Romans," who had also come on an ambassador to Attila — the count Romulus, Promotus governor of Noricum, and Romanus a military captain. With them was Constantius whom Aetius had sent to Attila to be his secretary, and Tatulus, the father of Orestes; these two were not connected with the embassy, but were friends of the ambassadors. Constantius had known them of old in the Italies, and Orestes had married the daughter of Romulus.37

The object of the embassy was to soften the soul of Attila, who demanded the surrender of one Silvanus, a dealer in silver plate38 in Rome, because he had received golden vessels from a certain Constantius. This Constantius, a native of Gaul, had preceded his namesake in the office of secretary to Attila. When Sirmium in Pannonia was besieged by the Scythians, the bishop of the place consigned the vessels to his (Constantius') care, that if the city were taken and he survived they might be used to ransom him; and in case he were slain, to ransom the citizens who were led into captivity. But when the city was enslaved, Constantius violated his engagement, and, as he happened to be at Rome on business, pawned the vessels to Silvanus for a sum of money, on condition that if he gave back the money within a prescribed period the dishes should be returned, but otherwise should become the property of Silvanus. Constantius, suspected of treachery, was crucified by Attila and Bleda; and afterwards, when the affair of the vessels became known to Attila, he demanded the surrender of Silvanus on the ground that he had stolen his property. Accordingly Aetius and the Emperor of the Western Romans sent to explain that Silvanus was the creditor of Constantius, the vessels having been pawned and not stolen, and that he had sold them to priests and others for sacred purposes. If, however, Attila refused to desist from his demand, he, the Emperor, would send him the value of the vessels, but would not surrender the innocent Silvanus.

Having waited for some time until Attila advanced in front of us, we proceeded, and having crossed some rivers we arrived at a large village, where Attila's house was said to be more splendid than his residences in other places. It was made of polished boards, and surrounded with a wooden enclosure, designed, not for protection, but for appearance. The house of Onegesius was second to the king's in splendour, and was also encircled with a wooden enclosure, but it was not adorned with towers like that of the king. Not far from the enclosure was a large bath which Onegesius — who was the second in power among the Scythians — built, having transported the stones from Pannonia; for the barbarians in this district had no stones or trees, but used imported material. The builder of the bath was a captive from Sirmium, who expected to win his freedom as payment for making the bath. But he was disappointed, and greater trouble befell him than mere captivity among the Scythians, for Onegesius  p283  appointed him bathman, and he used to minister to him and his family when they bathed.

When Attila entered the village he was met by girls advancing in rows, under thin white canopies of linen, which were held up by the outside women who stood under them, and were so large that seven or more girls walked beneath each. There were many lines of damsels thus canopied, and they sang Scythian songs. When he came near the house of Onegesius, which lay on his way, the wife of Onegesius issued from the door, with a number of servants, bearing meat and wine, and saluted him and begged him to partake of her hospitality. This is the highest honour that can be shown among the Scythians. To gratify the wife of his friend, he ate, just as he sat on his horse, his attendants raising the tray to his saddle-bow; and having tasted the wine, he went on to the palace, which was higher than the other houses and built on an elevated site. But we remained in the house of Onegesius, at his invitation, for he had returned from his expedition with Attila's son. His wife and kinsfolk entertained us to dinner, for he had no leisure himself, as he had to relate to Attila the result of his expedition, and explain the accident which had happened to the young prince, who had slipped and broken his right arm. After dinner we left the house of Onegesius, and took up our quarters nearer the palace, so that Maximin might be at a convenient distance for visiting Attila or holding intercourse with his court. The next morning, at dawn of day, Maximin sent me to Onegesius, with presents offered by himself as well as those which the Emperor had sent, and I was to find out whether he would have an interview with Maximin and at what time. When I arrived at the house, along with the attendants who carried the gifts, I found the doors closed, and had to wait until some one should come out and announce our arrival. As I waited and walked up and down in front of the enclosure which surrounded the house, a man, whom from his Scythian dress I took for a barbarian, came up and addressed me in Greek, with the word Χαῖρε, "Hail!" I was surprised at a Scythian speaking Greek. For the subjects of the Huns, swept together from various lands, speak, besides their own barbarous tongues, either Hunnic or Gothic,39 or — as many have commercial dealings with the western Romans — Latin; but none of them easily speak Greek, except captives from the Thracian or Illyrian sea-coast; and these last are easily known to any stranger by their torn garments and the squalor of their heads, as men who have met with a reverse. This man, on the contrary, resembled a well-to‑do Scythian, being well dressed, and having his hair cut in a circle after the Scythian fashion. Having returned his salutation, I asked him who he was and whence he had come into a foreign land and adopted Scythian life. When he asked me why I wanted to know, I told him that his Hellenic speech had prompted my curiosity. Then he smiled and said that he was born a Greek40 and had gone as a merchant to Viminacium, on the Danube, where he had stayed a long time, and married a very rich  p284  wife. But the city fell a prey to the barbarians, and he was stript of his prosperity, and on account of his riches was allotted to Onegesius in the division of the spoil, as it was the custom among the Scythians for the chiefs to reserve for themselves the rich prisoners. Having fought bravely against the Romans and the Acatiri, he had paid the spoils he won to his master, and so obtained freedom. He then married a barbarian wife had children, and had the privilege of eating at the table of Onegesius.

He considered his new life among the Scythians better than his old life among the Romans, and the reasons he gave were as follows: "After war the Scythians live in inactivity, enjoying what they have got, and not at all, or very little, harassed. The Romans, on the other hand, are in the first place very liable to perish in war, as they have to rest their hopes of safety on others, and are not allowed, on account of their tyrants, to use arms. And those who use them are injured by the cowardice of their generals, who cannot support the conduct of war. But the condition of the subjects in time of peace is far more grievous than the evils of war, for the exaction of the taxes is very severe, and unprincipled men inflict injuries on others, because the laws are practically not valid against all classes. A transgressor who belongs to the wealthy classes is not punished for his injustice, while a poor man, who does not understand business, undergoes the legal penalty, that is if he does not depart this life before the trial, so long is the course of lawsuits protracted, and so much money is expended on them. The climax of the misery is to have to pay in order to obtain justice. For no one will give a court to the injured man unless he pay a sum of money to the judge and the judge's clerks."

In reply to this attack on the Empire, I asked him to be good enough to listen with patience to the other side of the question. "The creators of the Roman republic," I said, "who were wise and good men, in order to prevent things from being done at haphazard, made one class of men guardians of the laws, and appointed another class to the profession of arms, who were to have no other object than to be always ready for battle, and to go forth to war without dread, as though to their ordinary exercise, having by practice exhausted all their fear beforehand. Others again were assigned to attend to the cultivation of the ground, to support both themselves and those who fight in their defence, by contributing the military corn-supply. . . . To those who protect the interests of the litigants a sum of money is paid by the latter, just as a payment is made by the farmers to the soldiers. Is it not fair to support him who assists and requite him for his kindness? The support of the horse benefits the horseman. . . . Those who spend money on a suit and lose it in the end cannot fairly put it down to anything but the injustice of their case. And as to the long time spent on lawsuits, that is due to concern for justice, that judges may not fail in passing correct judgments, by having to give sentence offhand; it is better that they should reflect, and conclude the case more tardily, than that by judging in a hurry they should both injure man and transgress against the Deity, the institutor of justice. . . . The Romans treat their servants better than the king of the Scythians treats  p285  his subjects. They deal with them as fathers or teachers, admonishing them to abstain from evil and follow the lines of conduct which they have esteemed honourable; they reprove them for their errors like their own children. They are not allowed, like the Scythians, to inflict death on them. They have numerous ways of conferring freedom; they can manumit not only during life, but also by their wills, and the testamentary wishes of a Roman in regard to his property are law."41

My interlocutor shed tears, and confessed that the laws and constitution of the Romans were fair, but deplored that the governors, not possessing the spirit of former generations, were ruining the State.

As we were engaged in this discussion a servant came out and opened the door of the enclosure. I hurried up, and inquired how Onegesius was engaged, for I desired to give him a message from the Roman ambassador. He replied that I should meet him if I waited a little, as he was about to go forth. And after a short time I saw him coming out, and addressed him, saying, "The Roman ambassador salutes you, and I have come with gifts from him, and with the gold which the Emperor sent you. The ambassador is anxious to meet you, and begs you to appoint a time and place." Onegesius bade his servants receive the gold and the gifts, and told me to announce to Maximin that he would go to him immediately. I delivered the message, and Onegesius appeared in the tent without delay. He expressed his thanks to Maximin and the Emperor for the presents, and asked why he sent for him. Maximin said that time had come for Onegesius to have greater renown among men, if he would go to the Emperor, and by his wisdom arrange the objects of dispute between the Romans and Huns, and establish concord between them; and thereby he will procure many advantages for his own family, as he and his children will always be friends of the Emperor and the Imperial family. Onegesius inquired what measures would gratify the Emperor and how he could arrange the disputes. Maximin replied: "If you cross into the lands of the Roman Empire you will lay the Emperor under an obligation, and you will arrange the matters at issue by investigating their causes and deciding them on the basis of the peace." Onegesius said he would inform the Emperor and his ministers of Attila's wishes, but the Romans need not think they could ever prevail with him to betray his master or neglect his Scythian training and his wives and children, or to prefer wealth among the Romans to bondage with Attila. He added that he would be of more service to the Romans by remaining in his own land and softening the anger of his master, if he were indignant for aught with the Romans, than by visiting them and subjecting himself to blame if he made arrangements that Attila did not approve of. He then retired, having consented that I should act as an intermediary in conveying messages from Maximin to himself, for it would not have been consistent with Maximin's dignity as ambassador to visit him constantly.

The next day I entered the enclosure of Attila's palace, bearing gifts to his wife, whose name was Kreka. She had three sons, of whom the eldest governed the Acatiri and the other nations who dwell in Pontic  p286  Scythia. Within the enclosure were numerous buildings, some of carved boards beautifully fitted together, others of straight, fastened on round wooden blocks which rose to a moderate height from the ground. Attila's wife lived here, and, having been admitted by the barbarians at the door, I found her reclining on a soft couch. The floor of the room was covered with woollen mats for walking on. A number of servants stood round her, and maids sitting on the floor in front of her embroidered with colours linen cloths intended to be placed over the Scythian dress for ornament. Having approached, saluted, and presented the gifts, I went out, and walked to another house, where Attila was, and waited for Onegesius, who, as I knew, was with Attila. I stood in the middle of a great crowd — the guards of Attila and his attendants knew me, and so no one hindered me. I saw a number of people advancing, and a great commotion and noise, Attila's egress being expected. And he came forth from the house with a dignified gait, looking round on this side and on that. He was accompanied by Onegesius, and stood in front of the house; and many persons who had lawsuits with one another came up and received his judgment. Then he returned into the house, and received ambassadors of barbarous peoples.

As I was waiting for Onegesius, I was accosted by Romulus and Promotus and Romanus, the ambassadors who had come from Italy about the golden vessels; they were accompanied by Rusticius and by Constantiolus, a man from the Pannonian territory, which was subject to Attila. They asked me whether we had been dismissed or areº constrained to remain, and I replied that it was just to learn this from Onegesius that I was waiting outside the palace. When I inquired in my turn whether Attila had vouchsafed them a kind reply, they told me that his decision could not be moved, and that he threatened war unless either Silvanus or the drinking-vessels were given up. . . .

As we were talking about the state of the world, Onegesius came out; we went up to him and asked him about our concerns. Having first spoken with some barbarians, he bade me inquire of Maximin what consular the Romans areº sending as an ambassador to Attila. When I came to our tent I delivered the message to Maximin, and deliberated with him what answer we should make to the question of the barbarian. Returning to Onegesius, I said that the Romans desired him to come to them and adjust the matters of dispute, otherwise the Emperor will send whatever ambassador he chooses. He then bade me fetch Maximin, whom he conducted to the presence of Attila. Soon after Maximin came out, and told me that the barbarian wished Nomus or Anatolius or Senator to be the ambassador, and that he would not receive any other than one of these three; when he (Maximin) replied that it was not meet to mention men by name and so render them suspected in the eyes of the Emperor, Attila said that if they do not choose to comply with his wishes the differences will be adjusted by arms.

When we returned to our tent the father of Orestes came with an invitation from Attila for both of us to a banquet at three o'clock. When the hour arrived we went to the palace, along with the embassy from the western Romans, and stood on the threshold of the hall in the presence  p287  of Attila. The cup-bearer gave us a cup, according to the national custom, that we might pray before we sat down. Having tasted the cup, we proceeded to take our seats; all the chairs were ranged along the walls of the room on either side. Attila sat in the middle on a couch; a second couch was set behind him, and from it steps led up to his bed, which was covered with linen sheets and wrought coverlets for ornament, such as Greeks42 and Romans use to deck bridal beds. The places on the right of Attila were held chief in honour, those on the left, where we sat, were only second. Berichus, a noble among the Scythians, sat on our side, but had the precedence of us. Onegesius sat on a chair on the right of Attila's couch, and over against Onegesius on a chair sat two of Attila's sons; his eldest son sat on his couch, not near him, but at the extreme end, with his eyes fixed on the ground, in shy respect for his father. When all were arranged, a cup-bearer came and handed Attila a wooden cup of wine. He took it, and saluted the first in precedence, who, honoured by the salutation, stood up, and might not sit down until the king, having tasted or drained the wine, returned the cup to the attendant. All the guests then honoured Attila in the same way, saluting him, and then tasting the cups; but he did not stand up. Each of us had a special cup-bearer, who would come forward in order to present the wine, when the cup-bearer of Attila retired. When the second in precedence and those next to him had been honoured in like manner, Attila toasted us in the same way according to the order of the seats. When this ceremony was over the cup-bearers retired, and tables, large enough for three or four, or even more, to sit at, were placed next the table of Attila, so that each could take of the food on the dishes without leaving his seat. The attendant of Attila first entered with a dish full of meat, and behind him came the other attendants with bread and viands, which they laid on the tables. A luxurious meal, served on silver plate, had been made ready for us and the barbarian guests, but Attila ate nothing but meat on a wooden trencher. In everything else, too, he showed himself temperate; his cup was of wood, while to the guests were given goblets of gold and silver. His dress, too, was quite simple, affecting only to be clean. The sword he carried at his side, the latchets of his Scythian shoes, the bridle of his horse were not adorned, like those of the other Scythians, with gold or gems or anything costly. When the viands of the first course had been consumed we all stood up, and did not resume our seats until each one, in the order before observed, drank to the health of Attila in the goblet of wine presented to him. We then sat down, and a second dish was placed on the table with eatables of another kind. After this course the same ceremony was observed as after the first. When evening fell torches were lit, and two barbarians coming forward in front of Attila sang songs they had composed, celebrating his victories and deeds of valour in war. And of the guests, as they looked at the singers, some were pleased with the verses, others reminded of wars were excited in their souls, while yet others, whose bodies were feeble with age and their spirits compelled to  p288  rest, shed tears. After the songs a Scythian, whose mind was deranged, appeared, and by uttering outlandish and senseless words forced the company to laugh. After him Zerkon, the Moorish dwarf, entered. He had been sent by Attila as a gift to Aetius, and Edecon had persuaded him to come to Attila in order to recover his wife, whom he had left behind him in Scythia; the lady was a Scythian whom he had obtained in marriage through the influence of his patron Bleda. He did not succeed in recovering her, for Attila was angry with him for returning. On the occasion of the banquet he made his appearance, and threw all except Attila into fits of unquenchable laughter by his appearance, his dress, his voice, and his words, which were a confused jumble of Latin, Hunnic, and Gothic. Attila, however, remained immovable and of unchanging countenance, nor by word or act did he betray anything approaching to a smile of merriment except at the entry of Ernas, his youngest son, whom he pulled by the cheek, and gazed on with a calm look of satisfaction. I was surprised that he made so much of this son, and neglected his other children; but a barbarian who sat beside me and knew Latin, bidding me not reveal what he told, gave me to understand that prophets had forewarned Attila that his race would fall, but would be restored by this boy. When the night had advanced we retired from the banquet, not wishing to assist further at the potations.

§ 4. Attila's Invasions of Gaul and Italy,
and the Fall of the Hun Empire (A.D. 450‑454)

If the western provinces of the Empire had hitherto escaped the depredations of the Huns, this was mainly due to the personality and policy of Aetius, who had always kept on friendly terms with the rulers. But a curious incident happened, when Attila was at the height of his power, which diverted his rapacity from the east to the west, and filled his imagination with a new vision of power.

Of the court of Valentinian, of his private life, of his relations to his wife and to his mother we know no details. We have seen that he was intellectually and morally feeble, as unfitted for the duties of the throne as had been his uncles Honorius and Arcadius. But his sister Justa Grata Honoria had inherited from her mother some of the qualities we should expect to find in a granddaughter of Theodosius and a great-granddaughter of the first Valentinian. Like Placidia, she was a woman of ambition and selfwill, and she had inherited the temperament of her father which chafed against conventionality. We saw that she had been elevated to the rank of an Augusta probably about the same time that the Imperial title had been conferred  p289  on her brother.43 During her girlhood and until Valentinian's marriage her position in the court was important, but when her nieces were born she had the chagrin of realising that henceforward from a political and dynastic point of view she would have to play an obscure part. She would not be allowed to marry except a thoroughly safe man who could be relied upon to entertain no designs upon the throne. We can understand that it must have irked a woman of her character to see the power in the hands of her brother, immeasurably inferior to herself in brain and energy; she probably felt herself quite as capable of conducting affairs of state as her mother had proved herself to be. We can divine that she was a thorn in the side of Valentinian, but we are given no glimpse into the domestic drama played in the Palaces of Ravenna and Rome.

She had passed the age of thirty when her discontent issued in action. She had a separate establishment of her own, within the precincts of the Palace, and a comptroller or steward to manage it. His name was Eugenius, and with him she had an amorous intrigue in A.D. 449.44 She may have been in love with him, but love was subsidiary to the motive of ambition. She designed him to be her instrument in a plot to overthrow her detested brother. The intrigue was discovered,45 and her paramour was put to death. She was herself driven from the Palace, and betrothed compulsorily to a certain Flavius Bassus Herculanus, a rich senator of excellent character, whose sobriety assured the Emperor that a dangerous wife would be unable to draw him into revolutionary schemes.46

The idea of this union was hateful to Honoria and she bitterly  p290  resented the compulsion. She must often have heard — she had perhaps been old enough to have some recollection herself — of the breach between her mother and her uncle after her father's death. In that crisis of her life Placidia had turned for help to a barbarian power. Her daughter now decided to do likewise. She despatched by the hands of a trustworthy eunuch, Hyacinthus, her ring and a sum of money to Attila, asking him to come to her assistance and prevent the hateful marriage. Attila was the most powerful monarch in Europe and she boldly chose him to be her champion.

The proposal of the Augusta Honoria was welcome to Attila, and was to determine his policy for the next three years. The message probably reached him in the spring of A.D. 450.º She had sent her ring to show that the message was genuine, but he interpreted, or chose to interpret, it as a proposal of marriage. He claimed her as his bride, and demanded that half the territory over which Valentinian ruled should be surrendered to her.47 At the same time he made preparations to invade the western provinces. He addressed his demand to the senior Emperor, Theodosius, and Theodosius immediately wrote to Valentinian advising him to hand over Honoria to the Hun. Valentinian was furious. Hyacinthus was tortured, to reveal all the details of his mistress's treason, and then beheaded. Placidia had much to do to prevail upon her son to spare his sister's life. When Attila heard how she had been treated, he sent an embassy to Ravenna to protest; the lady, he said, had done no wrong, she was affianced to him, and he would come to enforce her right to a share in the Empire. Attila longed to extend his sway to the shores of the Atlantic, and he would now be able to pretend that Gaul was the portion of Honoria.

Meanwhile Theodosius had died and we saw how Marcian refused to pay the annual tribute to the Huns. This determined attitude may have helped to decide Attila to turn his arms against the weak realm of Valentinian instead of renewing his attacks upon exhausted Illyrian lands which he had so often wasted. There was another consideration which urged  p291  him to a Gallic campaign. The King of the Vandals had sent many gifts to the King of the Huns and used all his craft to stir him up against the Visigoths. Gaiseric feared the vengeance of Theoderic for the shameful treatment of his daughter,48 and longed to destroy or weaken the Visigothic nation. We are told by a contemporary writer, who was well informed concerning the diplomatic intrigues at the Hun court, that Attila invaded Gaul "to oblige Gaiseric."49 But that was only one of his motives. Attila was too wary to unveil his intentions. It was his object to guard against the possibility of the co-operation of the Goths and Romans and he pretended to be friendly to both. He wrote to Tolosa that his expedition was aimed against the enemies of the Goths, and to Ravenna that he proposed to smite the foes of Rome.50

Early in A.D. 45151 he set forth with a large army composed not only of his own Huns, but of the forces of all his German subjects. Prominent among these were the Gepids, from the mountains of Dacia, under their king Ardaric, and the Ostrogoths under their three chieftains, Walamir, Theodemir, and Widimir;52 the Rugians from the regions of the Upper Theiss; the Scirians from Galicia; the Heruls from the shores of the Euxine; the Thuringians;53 Alans, and others. When they reached the Rhine they were joined by the division of the Burgundians who dwelled to the east of that river and by a portion of the Ripuarian Franks. The army poured into the Belgic provinces, took Metz (April 7),54 captured many other cities, and laid waste the  p292  land. It is not clear whether Aetius had really been lulled into security by the letter of Attila disclaiming any intention of attacking Roman territory. Certainly his preparations seem to have been hurried and made at the last moment. The troops which he was able to muster were inadequate to meet the huge army of the invader. The federate Salian Franks, some of the Ripuarians, the federate Burgundians of Savoy, and the Celts of Armorica obeyed his summons.55 But the chance of safety and victory depended on securing the co-operation of the Visigoths, who had decided to remain neutral. Avitus, whom we have already met as a persona grata at the court of Tolosa, was chosen by Aetius to undertake the mission of persuading Theoderic. He was successful; but it has been questioned whether his success was due so much to his diplomatic arts as to the fact that Attila was already turning his face towards the Loire.56 There was a settlement of Alans57 in the neighbourhood of Valence, and their king had secretly agreed to help Attila to the possession of that city. The objective then of Attila was Orleans, and the first strategic aim of the hastily cemented arrangement between the Romans and Goths was to prevent him from reaching it. The accounts of what happened are contradictory.58 The truth seems to be that the forces of the allies — the mixed army of Aetius, and the Visigothic host under Theoderic, who was accompanied by his son Thorismud — reached the city before the Huns arrived, and Attila saw that he would only court disaster if he attempted to assault their strongly fortified camp. No course was open but retreat. Aetius had won a bloodless strategic victory (summer A.D. 451).59

 p293  The Huns took the road to Troyes (Tricasses), and not very far from this town, in a district known as the Mauriac place,60 they halted, and prepared to oppose the confederate army which was marching close upon their heels.61 The battle, which began in the afternoon and lasted into the night, was drawn; there was immense slaughter,62 and king Theoderic was among the slain. Next day, the Romans found that Attila was strongly entrenched behind his wagons, and it was said that he had prepared a funeral pyre in which he might perish rather than fall into the hands of his foes. Thorismud, burning to avenge his father's death, was eager to storm the entrenchment. But this did not recommend itself to the policy of Aetius. It was not part of his design to destroy the Hunnic power, of which throughout his career he had made constant use in the interests of the Empire; nor did he desire to increase the prestige of his Visigothic allies. He persuaded Thorismud to return with all haste to Tolosa, lest his brothers should avail themselves of his absence to contest his succession to the kingship. He also persuaded the Franks to return immediately to their own land. Disembarrassed of these auxiliaries, he was able to pursue his own policy and permit Attila to escape with the remnant of his host.

The battle of Maurica was a battle of nations, but its significance  p294  has been enormously exaggerated in conventional history. It cannot in any reasonable sense be designated as one of the critical battles of the world. The Gallic campaign had really been decided by the strategic success of the allies in cutting off Attila from Orleans. The battle was fought when he was in full retreat, and its value lay in damaging his prestige as an invincible conqueror, in weakening his forces, and in hindering him from extending the range of his ravages. But can the invasion and the campaign regarded as a whole be said to assume the proportions of an ecumenical crisis? The danger did not mean so much as has been commonly assumed. If Attila had been victorious, if he had defeated the Romans and the Goths at Orleans, if he had held Gaul at his mercy and had translated — and we have no evidence that this was his design — the seat of his government and the abode of his people from the Theiss to the Seine or the Loire, there is no reason to suppose that the course of history would have been seriously altered. For the rule of the Huns in Gaul could only have been a matter of a year or two; it could not have survived here, any more than it survived in Hungary, the death of the great king, on whose brains and personal character it depended. Without depreciating the achievement of Aetius and Theoderic we must recognise that at worst the danger they averted was of a totally different order from the issues which were at stake on the fields of Plataea and the Metaurus. If Attila had succeeded in his campaign, he would probably have been able to compel the surrender of Honoria, and if a son had been born of their marriage and proclaimed Augustus in Gaul, the Hun might have been able to exercise considerable influence on the fortunes of that country; but that influence would probably not have been anti-Roman.

Attila lost little time in seeking to take revenge for the unexpected blow which had been dealt him. He again came forward as the champion of the Augusta Honoria, claiming her as his affianced bride,63 and invaded Italy in the following year (A.D. 452). Aquileia, the city of the Venetian march, now fell before the Huns, and was razed to the ground, never to rise again;  p295  in the next century hardly a trace of it could be seen. Verona and Vicentia did not share this fate, but they were exposed to the violence of the invader, while Ticinum and Mediolanum were compelled to purchase exemption from fire and sword.

The path of Attila was now open to Rome. Aetius, with whatever forces he could muster, might hang upon his line of march, but was not strong enough to risk a battle. But the land south of the Po, and Rome herself, were spared the presence of the Huns. According to tradition, the thanks of Italy were on this occasion due not to Aetius but to Leo, the bishop of Rome. The Emperor, who was at Rome, sent Leo and two leading senators, Avienus64 and Trygetius, to negotiate with the invader. Trygetius had diplomatic experience; he had negotiated the treaty with Gaiseric in A.D. 435. Leo was an imposing figure, and the story gives him the credit for having persuaded Attila to retreat. He was supported by celestial beings; the apostles Peter and Paul are said to have appeared to Attila and by their threats terrified him into leaving the soil of Italy.65

The fact of the embassy cannot be doubted. The distinguished ambassadors visited the Hun's camp near the south shore of Lake Garda. It is also certain that Attila suddenly retreated. But we are at a loss to know what considerations were offered him to induce him to depart.66 It is unreasonable to suppose that this heathen king would have cared for the thunders or persuasions of the Church. The Emperor refused to surrender Honoria, and it is not recorded that money was paid. A trustworthy chronicle hands down another account which does not conflict with the fact that an embassy was sent, but evidently furnishes the true reasons which moved Attila to receive it favourably. Plague broke out in the barbarian host and their food ran short,67 and at the same time troops arrived from the east, sent by Marcian to the aid of Italy.

 p296  If his host was suffering from pestilence, and if troops arrived from the east, we can understand that Attila was forced to withdraw. But whatever terms were arranged, he did not pretend that they meant a permanent peace. The question of Honoria was left unsettled, and he threatened that he would come again and do worse things in Italy unless she were given up with the due portion of the Imperial possessions.68

Attila survived his Italian expedition by only one year. His attendants found him dead one morning, and the bride whom he had married the night before sitting beside his bed in tears.69 His death was ascribed to the bursting of an artery, but it was also rumoured that he had been slain by the woman in his sleep.70

With the death of Attila, the Empire of the Huns, which had no natural cohesion, was soon scattered to the winds. Among his numerous children there was none of commanding ability, none who had the strength to remove his brothers and step into his father's place, and they proposed to divide the inheritance into portions. This was the opportunity of their German vassals, who did not choose to allow themselves to be allotted to various masters like herds of cattle. The rebellion was led by Ardaric, the Gepid, Attila's chief adviser. In Pannonia near the river Nedao another battle of the nations was fought, and the coalition of German vassals, Gepids, Ostrogoths, Rugians, Heruls and the rest, utterly defeated the host of their Hun lords (A.D. 454). It is not improbable that the Germans received encouragement and support from the Emperor Marcian.71

This event led to considerable changes in the geographical distribution of the barbarian peoples. The Huns themselves were scattered to the winds. Some remained in the west, but the greater part of them fled to the regions north of the Lower Danube, where we shall presently find them, under two of Attila's sons, playing a part in the troubled history of the Thracian provinces. The Gepids extended their power over the whole of Dacia (Siebenbürgen), along with the plains between the Theiss  p297  and the Danube which had been the habitation of the Huns.72 The Emperor Marcian was deeply interested in the new disposition of the German nations, and his diplomacy aimed at arranging them in such a way that they would mutually check each other. He seems to have made an alliance with the Gepids which proved exceptionally permanent.73 He assigned to the Ostrogoths settlements in northern Pannonia, as federates of the Empire. The Rugians found new abodes on the north banks of the Danube, opposite to Noricum, where they also were for some years federates of Rome. The Scirians settled farther east, and were the northern neighbours and foes of the Ostrogoths in Pannonia; and the Heruls found territory in the same vicinity — perhaps between the Scirians and Rugians.74 But from all these peoples there was a continual flow into the Roman Empire, men seeking military service. In the depopulated provinces of Illyricum and Thrace there was room and demand for new settlers. Rugians were settled in Bizye and Arcadiopolis;75 Scirians in Lower Moesia.76

The battle of the Nedao was an arbitrament far more momentous than the battle of Maurica. The catastrophe of the Hun power was indeed inevitable, for the social fabric of the Huns and all their social instincts were opposed to the concentration and organisation which could alone maintain the permanence of their empire. But it was not the less important that the catastrophe arrived at this particular moment — important both for the German peoples and for the Empire. Although their power disappeared, at one stroke, into the void from which it had so suddenly arisen, we shall see, if we reflect for a moment, that it affected profoundly the course of history. The invasion of the nomads in the fourth century had precipitated the Visigoths from Dacia into the Balkan peninsula and led to the disaster of Hadrianople, and may be said to have determined the whole chain of Visigothic history. But apart from this special consequence of the Hun invasion, the Hun empire performed a function of much greater significance in European history. It  p298  helped to retard the whole process of the German dismemberment of the Empire. It did this in two ways: in the first place, by controlling many of the East German peoples beyond the Danube, from whom the Empire had most to fear; and in the second place, by constantly supplying Roman generals with auxiliaries who proved an invaluable resource in the struggle with the German enemies. The devastations which some of the Roman provinces suffered from the Huns in the last years of Theodosius II and Valentinian III must be esteemed a loss which was more than set off by the support which Hunnic arms had for many years lent to the Empire; especially if we consider that, as subsequent events showed, the Germans would have committed the same depredations if the Huns had not been there. This retardation of the process of dismemberment, enabling the Imperial government to maintain itself, for a longer period, in those lands which were destined ultimately to become Teutonic kingdoms, was all in the interest of civilisation; for the Germans, who in almost all cases were forced to establish their footing on Imperial territory as foederati, then by degrees converted this dependent relation into independent sovranty, were more likely to gain some faint apprehension of Roman order, some slight taste for Roman civilisation, than if their careers of conquest had been less gradual and impeded.

§ 5. Deaths of Aetius (454) and Valentinian III (455)

The reward of Aetius for supporting Valentinian's throne for nearly thirty years was that he should fall by Valentinian's hand. One of the most prominent senators and ministers since the later years of Honorius was Petronius Maximus.77 He had been twice Prefect of Rome, twice Praetorian Prefect of Italy; he had twice held the consulship; and in A.D. 445 we find him a Patrician. He had a distinguished pedigree, though we do not know it; perhaps he was connected with the great Anician gens. But he probably owed his prestige and influence more to his immense wealth than to his family or to his official career.  p299  He was a notable figure at Rome, "with his conspicuous way of life, his banquets, his lavish expense, his retinues, his literary pursuits, his estates, his extensive patronage,"78 In A.D. 454 he was approaching his sixtieth year. He bore personal enmity against Aetius and determined to oust him from power.

He discovered that the sentiments of Heraclius, a eunuch who had the Emperor's ear, were similar to his own. The two conspired together, and persuaded Valentinian that he would perish at the hands of Aetius unless he hastened to slay him first.79

Valentinian listened to this counsel and devised death against his powerful general. One day, when Aetius was in the Palace, laying some financial statement before the Emperor, Valentinian suddenly leaping from his throne accused him of treason, and not allowing him time to defend himself, drew his sword and rushed upon the defenceless minister, who was at the same moment attacked by the chamberlain Heraclius. Thus perished the Patrician Aetius (September 21, A.D. 454). A poet wrote his epitaph:80

Aetium Placidus mactavit semivir amens;

and it is said that some one afterwards boldly told the truth to Valentinian, "You have cut off your right hand with your left." Who was now to save Italy from the Vandals?

Petronius Maximus assuredly was not the man for the task. It was his ambition to be "the Patrician" of the Emperor, but he reckoned without Heraclius. The eunuch persuaded Valentinian that, being well rid of the oppressive influence of Aetius, he would act foolishly if he transferred the power to Maximus. Bitterly disappointed, Maximus wove another murderous plot. He sought out two barbarians, Optila and Thraustila, who had been personal retainers of Aetius, had fought in his campaigns, and enjoyed the favour of the Emperor.81 He urged these men to avenge their master, and the issue may be told in a chronicler's words:

"It seemed good to Valentinian to ride in the Campus Martius with a few guards accompanied by Optila and Thraustila and  p300  their attendants. And when he dismounted and proceeded to practise archery, Optila and those with him attacked him.82 Optila struck Valentinian on the temple, and when the prince turned to see who struck him dealt him a second blow on the face and felled him. Thraustila slew Heraclius. And the two assassins taking the Imperial diadem and the horse hastened to Maximus. They escaped all punishment for their deed."83 The day of the murder was March 16, A.D. 455.

These two bloody deeds mark the beginning of a new disastrous period in the history of the western provinces. The strong man who might have averted the imminent danger from the Vandals, and the weak man whose mere existence held Italy, Gaul, and Spain together, were removed; there was no general to take the place of Aetius, "the last of the Romans,"84 as there was no male member of the Theodosian house to succeed Valentinian. A chronicler speaks85 of the Patrician Aetius as "the great safety of the western republic" (magna occidentalis reipublicae salus), the terror of king Attila; "and with him the Hesperian realm fell, and up to the present day has not been able to raise its head." We can comprehend this judgment; the death of Aetius was a grave event. He was the greatest of the three Romans who had been responsible for the defence of Italy and the western provinces since the fall of Stilicho, and he was to have no Roman successor. Two years after his death the supreme command of the Imperial forces would again pass into the hands of a Romanised German. But we must not leave out of sight the importance of the death of his master Valentinian without male offspring. A legitimate heir of the Theodosian house would have prevented some of the troubles which befell Italy in the following years.

 p301  § 6. Christian and Pagan Speculations on the Calamities of the Empire

An amazing sequence of events had surprised the Empire after the death of Theodosius the Great. Provinces had been seized by barbarous invaders, and the very soil of Italy desecrated by German violence. The sight of Rome herself stricken and insulted, no longer able to speak the language of a mistress but compelled to bargain with the intruders on her own territory, could not fail to make men ask, "What is the cause of these disasters? Civil wars there have been in the past, our frontiers have been crossed, our provinces invaded, but since the Gauls bore down on Rome nearly eight hundred years ago, the queen of the world has never been violated and plundered by a foreign enemy till now, and it hardly entered any man's dream that such a horror might some day come to pass." In that age there was probably no one who held the view that political and social changes depend on the series of antecedent events and that sudden catastrophes are no exception. It was in the will of heaven, the anger of divine tyrants, or the inscrutable operations of the stars, that men were prone to seek explanations of shocking or unexpected public calamities.

Pagan patriots had no difficulty in solving the problem. "So long," they said, "as the gods under whose favour Rome won her Empire were supreme, so long as the traditions of the ancient religion were preserved, our empire flourished and was impregnable. But now their temples are destroyed, impious hands have been laid on the altars, the worship of our divinities has been proclaimed a crime. And what is the result? Has the alien deity, who has usurped the time-honoured prerogatives, conducted the state to new glory or even to its old prosperity? On the contrary, the result of his supremacy is rapine and ruin. The Empire is inundated by a wild tide of rapacious savages, the dominions of Rome are at their mercy, her sword is broken, and her lofty walls have been scaled. These are the gifts that Constantine and the religion of Galilee, which he embraced in a disastrous hour, have bestowed upon the world."86

 p302  Similar arguments indeed had been urged long before. In the third century pagans had made Christianity answerable for plagues, droughts, and wars; nature herself, they cried, had changed, since the advent of this abominable religion. Two African divines had replied to the charge. Cyprian the bishop of Carthage declared87 that the disasters of his day were signs of the approaching end of the world, and the inference might be drawn that they did not much matter in view of the vast event so soon to happen. Arnobius of Sicca, half a century later, in his Seven Books against the Nations, met the arguments of the heathen by pointing out that before the appearance of Christianity the world had been the scene of as great or rather of greater calamities.

But in the early fifth century there was stuff for a more telling indictment, and one to which the average Christian of that age might find it hard to produce a convincing answer. And the Christian himself might have his own difficulties. How, he might wonder, is it compatible with a wise and just government of the universe that the godly who hold the right opinion concerning the nature of the Trinity should suffer all these horrors at the hands of barbarians, and that those barbarians who believe in a blasphemous heresy, which places them as much as the heathen outside the Christian pale, should triumph over us and wrest our provinces from us.88

Such questionings evoked three books. Africa, Spain, and Gaul each contributed an answer, one a work of genius, the other two dull but remarkable each in its way.

The first, as it was the greatest, was Augustine's City of God. Augustine had been deeply impressed by the capture of Rome by Alaric, and he recognised that the situation of the world called  p303  for a Christian explanation in reply to the criticisms of the pagans who made the new religion responsible for Rome's misfortunes. The motive and occasion of the work, which seems to have outgrown its original scope, may account for some of its defects.89 It is one of the greatest efforts of Christian speculation, but the execution is not equal to the conception, and the fundamental conception itself was not original. The work consists of two distinct sections which might just as well have formed two independent treatises. The first section (Bks. I‑X) is a polemic against pagan religion and pagan philosophies, in which it is shown that polytheism is not necessary to secure happiness either in this world or in the next. The most effective argument is that which had been already used by Arnobius: the miseries which we suffer to‑day are no exception to the general course of experience, for we have only to read the history of Rome to find them paralleled or exceeded. The writer insists that earthly glory and prosperity are unnecessary for true happiness. These things were bestowed on Constantine the Great, but that was in order to prove that they are not incompatible with the life of a Christian. On the other hand, if the reign of Christian Jovian was shorter than that of the apostate Julian, and if Gratian was assassinated, these were divine intimations that glory and long life are not the true reward of the Christian faith.90 Such an argument was not likely to make much impression upon pagans.

But the answer of Augustine to the questions which were perplexing the world is not to be found in the first part of his work. He realised that any satisfactory solution of the problem must lie in discovering a harmony between the actual events of history and the general plan of the universe. The synthesis which he framed for the interpretation of history as part of a general scheme of things is an essay in that field of speculation which is known nowadays as the philosophy of history. It can hardly, however, be described as philosophical, for the premisses  p304  on which it is based are not derived from reason but from revelation.91

Augustine's conception is that the key to the history of the human race is to be found in the coexistence side by side of two cities or states which are radically opposed to each other in their natures, principles, and ends, the Civitas Dei and the Civitas Terrena. It may be observed that this conception was not original; Augustine derived it from his Donatist friend Tychonius. The origins of both these states go back to a time when man did not yet exist; the City of God was founded by the creation of the angels, the other city by the rebellion of the angels who fell. Since the sin of Adam the history of each of these cities, "intertwined and mutually mixed" (perplexas quodam modo invicemque permixtas), has been running its course. The vast majority of the human race have been and are citizens of the earthly city, of which the end is death. The minority who belong to the heavenly city are during their sojourn on earth merely foreigners or pilgrims (peregrini) in the earthly city. Till the conversion of the first Gentile to Christianity the members of the City of God belonged exclusively to the Hebrew race and its patriarchal ancestors; and Augustine determines the chief divisions of universal history by the great epochs of the biblical record: the Flood, Abraham, David, the Captivity, and the birth of Christ.92 This last event is the beginning of the sixth period, in which we are living at present; and the sixth period is the last. For the periods of history correspond to the days of Creation, and as God rested on the seventh day, so the seventh period will witness the triumph of the heavenly City and the eternal rest of its citizens. To the question how long will the sixth period last, Augustine replies that he does not know.93 In this connexion he tells us an interesting fact. An oracle was current among the pagans, and seems to have given them much consolation, that the Christian religion would disappear from the world at the end of 365 years. It was said that the disciple Peter had been able by his sorceries to impose upon the world the worship of Christ for this period, but at its termination the work of the wizard would dissolve like a dream.  p305  Augustine observes triumphantly, and perhaps with a certain relief, that more years than 365 had already elapsed since the Crucifixion, and that there was no sign of the fulfilment of the oracle.94

To a modern, and possibly also to an ancient, inquirer, Augustine's work would have been more interesting if he had seriously addressed himself to an historical study of the Babylonian and Roman Empires, which according to him were the two principal embodiments of the earthly City. But he entrenches himself and remains almost immovably fixed in his headquarters in Judaea, and the excursions which he makes into other regions are few and slight. Many of his notices of events in secular history are simply trivial.

Having completed his historical survey he devotes the last portion of his work to an exposition of the ultimate goal to which the world and the human race are travelling. He examines the question of the Last Judgment, expatiates on the fiery death which is the destiny of the earthly City, and ends with a discussion on the bliss which awaits the citizens of the City of God.

Among the thinkers of the Middle Ages the influence of Augustine's work went far and deep. But his fruitful conception was lodged in a somewhat dreary mansion. If the polemical section which he intends to be a preliminary defeat of the enemies of the City of God95 had been omitted, the work would have gained in simplicity. But the main argument itself, although it has a definite architectural scheme,96 is marred by diffuseness and digressions. Augustine did not possess the literary art or command the method of lucid exposition whereby the prince of Greek philosophers compels his readers to assist in the building of the City, "of which a model perchance is in heaven," with breathless interest from page to page and from section to section. There is at least one part which may hold the attention of the reader, fascinated by the very horror, the Book in which this arch-advocate of theological materialism and vindictive punishment expends all his ingenuity in proving that the fire  p306  of hell is literal fire and spares no effort to cut off the slenderest chance that the vast majority of his fellow-beings will not be tormented throughout eternity.

Augustine had produced a book which transcended in importance its original motive. But it is this motive which concerns us here. It was to teach the world to take a right view of the misfortunes which were befalling the Empire, and to place them in their true perspective. He says in effect to the pagans, "These misfortunes are nothing exceptional, they are simply part of the heritage of your City of sin and death."97 To the Christians he said, "These things do not really concern you. Your interests are not affected by the calamities of a country in which you are merely foreigners." This theory might be consolatory, but if it were pressed to its logical conclusion it would assuredly be destructive of the spirit of patriotism; and, though the author would doubtless have deprecated this criticism, he does not consider the secular duties of Christians towards the state of which they are citizens in the earthly sense.

He was conscious that his treatment of the history of Rome was casual and superficial, and he thought that a fuller development of his historical argument in reply to the pagans was desirable. He requested his friend Orosius, a Spanish priest, to supply this need. He said to Orosius, "Search the annals of the past, collect all the calamities which they record, wars, plagues, famines, earthquakes, fires, and crimes, and write a history of the world. Thus my general refutation of the charges of the unbelievers who impute to our religion the present misfortunes, which they allege to be unusual, will be proved abundantly by a long array of facts."98 A work entitled Histories to confute the Pagans was the outcome of this request, and it may thus be regarded as a sort of supplement to the City of God.99 Perhaps it deserves more than any other book to be described as the first attempt at a universal history, and it was probably the worst. But it had considerable vogue in the Middle Ages, and gave currency to the idea of four great monarchies, the  p307  Babylonian, Carthaginian, Macedonian, and Roman, corresponding to the four points of the compass.100

Fifteen or twenty years after the completion of Augustine's work Salvian, a priest of Marseilles, wrote his treatise On the Government of God,101 dealing from a different point of view with the same problem which had suggested the books of Augustine and Orosius. Salvian addresses his discourse expressly to Christians, for he has no hope that his arguments would have any effect upon pagans.102 He propounds the question: How comes it that we Christians who believe in the true God are more miserable than all men? Is God indifferent to us? Has he renounced the business of governing the world? If he regards human affairs, why are we weaker and more unfortunate than all other peoples? Why are we conquered by the barbarians? Salvian's answer is, We suffer these evils because we deserve them. If, living in such vice and wickedness as we do, we flourished and were happy, then indeed God might be accused of not governing. In support of his argument the author paints an appalling picture of the condition of the Empire. His descriptions of the corruptness of the administration and of the oppression of the poor by the rich furnish the modern historian with an instructive commentary on those Imperial laws which attempt to restrain the rapacity of public officials. Salvian does not forget to dwell, with the zeal of a churchman, on the general love of unedifying pleasures, the games of the circus and licentious plays in the theatre, amusements of which the average Christian was not less avid than the average pagan.

But, it might be objected, we, whatever our faults, have at least right theological beliefs, whereas the barbarians who are permitted to overcome us are heathen or heretics. That is true, replies Salvian; in just one point we are better than they; but otherwise they are better than we. He then proceeds to enlarge on the virtues of the barbarians, which he uses, somewhat as Tacitus did in the Germania, as a foil to Roman civilisation. Among the Germans, or even among the Huns, we do not see the poor oppressed by the rich. If the Alamanni are  p308  given to drunkenness, if the Franks and Huns are perjured and perfidious, if the Alans are rapacious, are not all these vices found among us? On the other hand, the Vandals have put the provincials to shame by their high standard of sexual morality, and if the Saxons are ferocious and the Goths perfidious, both these peoples are wonderfully chaste.

There is no relief in Salvian's gloomy picture. It must be accepted with the reserves with which we must always qualify the rhetoric of preachers or satirists when they denounce the vices of their age. But the tone of despondency is genuine. He says that "the Roman Republic is either dead, or at least is drawing her last breath in those parts in which she still seems to be alive."103 He speaks as if this were a fact which was beyond dispute and to which men had already become accustomed. More than thirty years had elapsed since the news of the Goths at Rome had surprised Jerome in his retreat at Bethlehem and extorted the cry, Quid salvum est si Roma perit? Meanwhile the Romans had quickly recovered from the shock and had almost forgotten it. The calamity of the provinces did not move them to alter their way of life or renounce their usual amusements. And the one phrase that is worth remembering in Salvian's gloomy, declamatory book is the epigram on Rome, Moritur et ridet.

§ 7. Modern Views on the Collapse of the Empire

The explanations of the calamities of the Empire which have been hazarded by modern writers are of a different order from those which occurred to witnesses of the events, but they are not much more satisfying. The illustrious historian whose name will always be associated with the "Decline" of the Roman Empire invoked the "principle of decay," a principle which has itself to be explained. Depopulation, the Christian religion, the fiscal system have all been assigned as causes of the Empire's decline in strength.104 If these or any of them were responsible  p309  for its dismemberment by the barbarians in the West, it may be asked how it was that in the East, where the same causes operated, the Empire survived much longer intact and united.

Consider depopulation. The depopulation of Italy was an important fact and it had far-reaching consequences.105 But it was a process which had probably reached its limit in the time of Augustus. There is no evidence that the Empire was less populous in the fourth and fifth centuries than in the first.106 The "sterility of the human harvest" in Italy and Greece affected the history of the Empire from its very beginning, but does not explain the collapse in the fifth century. The truth is that there are two distinct questions which have been confused. It is one thing to seek the causes which changed the Roman State from what it was in the best days of the Republic to what it had become in the age of Theodosius the Great — a change which from certain points of view may be called a "decline." It is quite another thing to ask why the State which could resist its enemies on many frontiers in the days of Diocletian and Constantine and Julian suddenly gave way in the days of Honorius. "Depopulation" may partly supply the answer to the first question, but it is not an answer to the second. Nor can the events which transferred the greater part of western Europe to German masters be accounted for by the numbers of the peoples who invaded it. The notion of vast hosts of warriors, numbered by the hundreds of thousands, pouring over the frontiers, is, as we saw, perfectly untrue.107 The total number of one of the large East German nations probably seldom exceeded 100,000, and its army of fighting men can rarely have been more than from 20,to 30,000. They were not a deluge, overwhelming and irresistible, and the Empire had a well-organised military establishment at the end of the fourth century, fully sufficient in capable hands to beat them back. As a matter of fact, since the defeat at Hadrianople which was due to the blunders of Valens, no very important battle was won by German over Imperial forces during the whole course of the invasions.

It has often been alleged that Christianity in its political effects was a disintegrating force and tended to weaken the power of Rome to resist her enemies. It is difficult to see that  p310  it had any such tendency, so long as the Church itself was united. Theological heresies were indeed to prove a disintegrating force in the East in the seventh century, when differences in doctrine which had alienated the Christians in Egypt and Syria from the government of Constantine facilitated the conquests of the Saracens. But, after the defeat of Arianism, there was no such vital or deep-reaching division in the West, and the effect of Christianity was to unite, not to sever, to check, rather than to emphasise, national or sectional feeling. In the political calculations of Constantine it was probably this ideal of unity, as a counterpoise to the centrifugal tendencies which had been clearly revealed in the third century, that was the great recommendation of the religion which he raised to power.108 Nor is there the least reason to suppose that Christian teaching had the practical effect of making men less loyal to the Empire or less ready to defend it. The Christians were as pugnacious as the pagans. Some might read Augustine's City of God with edification, but probably very few interpreted its theory with such strict practical logic as to be indifferent to the safety of the Empire. Hardly the author himself, though this has been disputed.

It was not long after Alaric's capture of Rome that Volusian, a pagan senator of a distinguished family,109 whose mother was a Christian and a friend of Augustine, proposed the question whether the teaching of Christianity is not fatal to the welfare of a State, because a Christian smitten on one cheek would if he followed the precepts of the Gospel turn the other to the smiter. We have the letter110 in which Augustine answers the question and skilfully explains the texts so as to render it consistent with common sense. And to show that warfare is not forbidden another text is quoted in which soldiers who ask "What shall we do?" are bidden to "Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely, and be content with your wages." They are not told not to serve or fight. The bishop goes on to suggest that those who wage a just war are really acting misericorditer, in a spirit of mercy and kindness to their enemies, as it is to the true  p311  interests of their enemies that their vices should be corrected. Augustine's misericorditer laid down unintentionally a dangerous and hypocritical doctrine for the justification of war, the same principle which was used for justifying the Inquisition. But his definite statement that the Christian discipline does not condemn all wars was equivalent to saying that Christians were bound as much as pagans to defend Rome against the barbarians. And this was the general view. All the leading Churchmen of the fifth century were devoted to the Imperial idea, and when they worked for peace or compromise, as they often did, it was always when the cause of the barbarians was in the ascendant and resistance seemed hopeless.111

The truth is that the success of the barbarians in penetrating and founding states in the western provinces cannot be explained by any general consideration. It is accounted for by the actual events and would be clearer if the story were known more fully. The gradual collapse of the Roman power in this section of the Empire was the consequence of a series of contingent events. No general causes can be assigned that made it inevitable.

The first contingency was the irruption of the Huns into Europe, an event resulting from causes which were quite independent of the weakness or strength of the Roman Empire. It drove the Visigoths into the Illyrian provinces, and the difficult situation was unhappily mismanaged. One Emperor was defeated and lost his life; it was his own fault. That disaster, which need not have occurred, was a second contingency.112 His successor allowed a whole federate nation to settle on provincial soil; he took the line of least resistance and established an unfortunate precedent. He did not foresee consequences which, if he had lived ten or twenty years longer, might not have ensued. His death was a third contingency. But the situation need have given no reason for grave alarm if the succession had passed to an Emperor like himself, or Valentinian I, or even Gratian. Such a man was not procreated by Theodosius and the government of the West was inherited by a feeble-minded boy. That  p312  was a fourth event, dependent on causes which had nothing to do with the condition of the Empire.

In themselves these events need not have led to disaster. If the guardian of Honorius and director of his government had been a man of Roman birth and tradition, who commanded the public confidence, a man such as Honorius himself was afterwards to find in Constantius and his successor in Aetius, all might have been tolerably well. But there was a point of weakness in the Imperial system, the practice of elevating Germans to the highest posts of command in the army. It had grown up under Valentinian I, Gratian, and Theodosius; it had led to the rebellion of Maximus, and had cost Valentinian II his life. The German in whom Theodosius reposed his confidence and who assumed the control of affairs on his death probably believed that he was serving Rome faithfully, but it was a singular misfortune that at a critical moment when the Empire had to be defended not only against Germans without but against a German nation which had penetrated inside, the responsibility should have devolved upon a German. Stilicho did not intend to be a traitor, but his policy was as calamitous as if he had planned deliberate treachery. For it meant civil war. The dissatisfaction of the Romans in the West was expressed in the rebellion of Constantine, the successor of Maximus, and if Stilicho had had his way the soldiers of Honorius and of Arcadius would have been killing one another for the possession of Illyricum. When he died the mischief was done; Goths had Italy at their mercy, Gaul and Spain were overrun by other peoples. His Roman successors could not undo the results of events which need never have happened.

The supremacy of a Stilicho was due to the fact that the defence of the Empire had come to depend on the enrolment of barbarians, in large numbers, in the army, and that it was necessary to render the service attractive to them by the prospect of power and wealth. This was, of course, a consequence of the decline in military spirit, and of depopulation, in the old civilised Mediterranean countries. The Germans in high command had been useful, but the dangers involved in the policy had been shown in the cases of Merobaudes and Arbogastes. Yet this policy need not have led to the dismemberment of the Empire, and but for that series of chances its western provinces would not  p313  have been converted, as and when they were, into German kingdoms. It may be said that a German penetration of western Europe must ultimately have come about. But even if that were certain, it might have happened in another way, at a later time, more gradually, and with less violence. The point of the present contention is that Rome's loss of her provinces in the fifth century was not an "inevitable effect of any of those features which have been rightly or wrongly described as causes or consequences of her general 'decline.' " The central fact that Rome could not dispense with the help of barbarians for her wars (gentium barbararum auxilio indigemus) may be held to be the cause of her calamities, but it was a weakness which might have continued to be far short of fatal but for the sequence of contingencies pointed out above.

The Author's Notes:

1 The following works have been useful: Jireček, Die Gesch. der Bulgaren and Die Heerstrasse v. Belgrad nach Constantinopel; Evans, Antiquarian Researches in Illyricum, with good sketch maps; W. Tomaschek, Haemus-halbinsel (in S.B. of Vienna Acad. 1881); F. Kanitz, Römische Studien in Serbien (Denksch. of Vienna Acad., ph.-hist. Kl. XLI., 1892); Kiepert, Formae orbis antiqui, Map xvii Illyricum et Thracia; the maps in CIL vol. III. There is a good military map of Serbia, Montenegro, and Albania, attached to an article of O. Kreutzbruch v. Lilienfels, in Petermann's Mitteilungen, Nov. 1912.

2 Veregava is now called the Rish pass, and is to be identified with the Iron Gate of Greek historians. These routes became important in the eighth century when the Bulgarians had built their royal capital at Aboba, near Šumla; for they connected it directly with the towns of Marcellae (Karnobad) and Diampolis (Jambol on the Tundža).

3 Not far away was the port of Vrysis, now Bunar Hissar.

4 Arcadius renamed it Eudoxiopolis in honour of his wife, but the new name, like so many other names of the kind, soon fell out of use, though it appears in the Synecdemus of Hierocles.

5 From Aquileia the distance was calculated as 47 days. For a pilgrim to Jerusalem walking from Burdigala (Bordeaux) by Aquileia and Singidunum, the distance to Byzantium was 112 days. See the full description of the route in Jireček, Die Heerstrasse.

6 Especially iron and gold. Statius uses Dalmaticum metallum as a name for gold (Silvae, 1.2.154). For the whole subject of the Illyrian mine-fields see Evans, op. cit. III.6, sqq.

7 Also known as the Binačka.

8 Afterwards Justiniana secunda.

9 See Tafel, De via mil. Rom. Egnatia.

10 The provincial divisions of the Dioceses of Thrace and Dacia may here be enumerated.

The D. of Thrace (which belonged to the Prefecture of the East) contained six provinces, two north and four south of the Haemus range.

The northern were:

(1) Lower Moesia — towns: Marcianopolis, Odessus, Durostorum, Novae, Nicopolis (Nicup);

(2) Scythia (corresponding to the Dobrudža) — towns: Tomi (near Constanza), Callatis (p271) (Mangalia), Tropaeum (Adamclissi).

The southern were:

(3) south-eastern, Europa — towns: Selymbria, Heraclea, Arcadiopolis, Bizye;

(4) south-western, Rhodope — towns: Aenus, Traianopolis, Maroneia, Rusion;

(5) north-western, Thrace — towns: Philippopolis, Beroe;

(6) north-eastern, Haemimontus — towns: Hadrianople, Anchialus.

The D. of Dacia contained five provinces:

(1) Upper Moesia — towns: Singidunum, Viminacium, Margum;

(2) Dacia ripensis — towns: Bononia, Ratiaria, Castra Martis, Oescus (Gigen);

(3) Dacia mediterranea — towns: Sardica, Naissus, Pautlia (Küstendil), Remesiana (Ak-Palanka);

(4) Dardania — towns: Scupi, Ulpiana;

(5) Praevalitana — towns: Scodra, Lissus.

The D. of Macedonia contained besides (1) Thessaly, (2) Achaea, (3) Crete, the provinces of

(4) Macedonia Prima — towns: Thessalonica, Pella, Beroea, Edessa;

(5) Macedonia Secunda (Salutaris) — towns: Stobi, Heraclea;

(6) Old Epirus — towns: Nicopolis, Dodona;

(7) New Epirus — towns: Dyrrhachium, Scampae, Apollonia, Aulon.

11 That Latin prevailed in the central and northern provinces there are many indications. For instance, the bishop of Marcianopolis used it in his correspondence with the Council of Chalcedon. Priscus in describing his journey to the court of Attila (see below, p283) says that Latin was the language everywhere. Nicetas, bishop of Remesiana (in the fourth century), who converted the Thracian Bessi, was a Latin writer. The Emperor Justinian, a native of Dardania, speaks of Latin as his own language. The first traces of the development of Latin into Roumanian are found in the sixth century.

12 On the Danube, near Oescus.

13 About 430 there seems to have been at least three Hun kings — Rugila, his brother Mundiuch, and Octar (probably another brother). Socrates, VII.30; Jordanes, Get. 105.

14 Marcellinus, Chron., sub 427.

15 Priscus, fr. 5, De leg. gent. p579 τὴν πρὸς τῷ Σάῳ ποταμῷ Παιόνων χώραν. I am sure that Mommsen and others are wrong in assuming that the province of Savia is meant. The words can equally apply to the parts of Pannonia Secunda west and north of Sirmium, between the Save and the Drave, districts which (like Valeria) were only separated by the Danube from Hunland. I am inclined to suspicion that Valeria was again handed over to the Hun at the same time.

16 See above, p248.

17 According to Socrates, VII.33 (cp. Theodoret, H.E. V.37), he was killed by lightning in an invasion of Thrace.

18 The indications are that Bleda was older than Attila, cp. Chron. Gall. (A.D. 434), p660 Rugila rex Chunorum, cum quo pax firmata, moritur cui Bleda successit; Marcellinus, sub 442, Bleda et Attila. Bleda is the historical prototype of Blödel, as Attila is of Etzel, in the Nibelungen Lied.

19 Gibbon, III. p443, after Jordanes, Get. 182. For Attila and his relations and wars with the Empire the main source was the history of Priscus. Of this we have one long and a good many small fragments; but we have a great deal of important matter derived from Priscus, through Cassiodorus, in Jordanes.

20 See above, Chap. IV, p101.

21 The pedigree is preserved in John of Thurócz, Chronica Hungarorum, in Schwandtner's Script. rer. Hung. I. p81, and has been discussed and compared with Chinese records in the interesting inquiry of Hirth, Die Ahnentafel Attilas. In this list Bendegus or Bendeguck appears as Attila's father, and Hirth gives reasons for believing that it is the same name as Mundiuch of the Greek sources. He also seems to succeed in identifying the names of some of the remoter ancestors of the list with the names of Hiung‑nu chiefs (between 200 and 60 B.C.) mentioned in Chinese documents.

22 Cp. Güldenpenning, op. cit. p341. The sources for these invasions of Attila in 441‑448 are fragments of Priscus (De leg. gent. fr. 1‑6; De leg. Rom., fr. 2‑5; and fr. 2 in F.H.G., V. p25); Marcellinus; Chron. Pasch. (ultimate source: Priscus).

23 Theophanes, A.M. 5942. Güldenpenning, ib. p344.

24 Asamum near Nicopoli. The name is preserved in that of the river Osma, which flows into the Danube near the place. See CIL III p141.

25 It was perhaps in this invasion that Sardica was destroyed. See Priscus, fr. 3, De leg. Rom. p123.

26 Callinicus, Vit. Hypatii, p108. Callinicus wrote this life in 447‑450.

27 Priscus, fr. 5, De leg. gent. It seems to have been in 447‑448 that the Huns got possession of Sirmium (id. fr. 3, De leg. Rom. p133). The seat of the Praet. Prefect of Illyricum, which had been moved there in A.D. 437 (see above, p221), was now moved back to Thessalonica.

28 Cp. Schmidt, Deutsche Stämme, I.306‑307.

29 Ib. 124.

30 Ib. 327. The Scirians were also, no doubt, under Hun rule.

31 Priscus, fr. 3, De leg. Rom. p141. Britain, as Mommsen suggests, is probably meant.

32 Priscus says that Attila thought himself destined to be lord of the whole world by virtue of the accidental discovery of "the Sword of Mars." A cowherd one day had seen a heifer limping, and following the tracks of blood that had dripped from her wounded foot found a sword on which she had trodden, and brought it to Attila. It was declared to be the Sword of Mars — that ἀκινάκης σιδήρεος to which the Scythians used to sacrifice animals and men (Herodotus, IV.62). So the Alans used to fix a naked sword in the ground and worship it as the god of war (Amm. Marc. XXXI.2.23). See Jordanes, Get. 183, and Priscus, fr. 3, De leg. Rom., p142.

33 Priscus calls him Ruas (= Roas in Jordanes); Rugas in Socrates and Roilas in Theodoret (H.E. V.37) point to the form Rugila, which is independently preserved in Chr. Gall., sub 433. Ruga and Rugila are probably both right, the termination -ila being hypocoristic. Attila (as Mr. H. M. Chadwick informs me) could mean "little father." The derivation of Marquart (Chron. der alttürk. Insch. p77) from the Hunnic name of the Volga, Atil or Itil (Ἀττίλας in Menander, p8, De leg. gent.), should be rejected.

34 Cp. Jung, op. cit. 210, 221. Gothic was the lingua franca in Central Europe. Cp. below, p283.

35 Priscus in Exc. de leg. p123 sqq.

36 Edecon had betrayed to Attila the design which he and Bigilas had formed against Attila's life. This was the real reason of Attila's roughness towards the latter.

37 Romulus and his daughter were of Poetovio in Noricum.

38 MSS. ἀρμίου or ἀσμίου τραπέζης. Valesius amended ἀργυρίου. I conjecture ἀσήμου, plate or bullion. ἀσήμι is used in modern Greek for silver plate.

39 That is, Hunnic and Gothic were the recognised languages of the Hun empire.

40 Ἔφη Γραικὸς μὲν εἶναι τὸ γένος. Γραικός, not Ἔλλην, a Greek, not a Hellene, which would mean a pagan. Ἑλληνικός and ἑλληνίζειν were still used in their old sense; and we even meet τὴν Ἑλλήνων φωνήν. Cp. below, p287, n.

41 This passage is interesting as an illustration of the attitude of the higher classes in the Empire to slavery in the fifth century.

42 Ἕλληνές τε καὶ Ῥωμαῖοι. In using this expression Priscus had ancient times in his mind — times when the Greeks were not Ῥωμαῖοι but Ἕλληνες, and when Ἕλλην was not opposed to Χριστιανός.

43 See above p224. For her coins (solidi with dn Ivst Grat Honoria pf Avg) see Cohen, VIII.219; De Salis, Numismatic Chronicle, VII.203; Bury, Justa Grata Honoria, p4. The early date of her coronation can be inferred from her coins as well as from the inscription, CIL XI.276 (above, p262).

44 See Bury, op. cit., where it is shown that the date commonly accepted for the affair with Eugenius, 434, is due to an error of the chronicler Marcellinus and is inconsistent with the story of Priscus and the evidence of Merobaudes. The error arose from the indictional dating: 449 was a 2nd indiction, and Marcellinus made the entry inadvertently under 434, also a 2nd indiction. The sources for Honoria's life are Merobaudes, Carm. I; Priscus, fr. 2; 7, 8, De leg. gent.; John of Antioch, fr. 84 De insidiis (based on, or taken from, Priscus); Jordanes, Get. 223‑224, Rom. 328 (sources: Cassiodorus, Gothic Hist., of which the source here was Priscus, and Marcellinus).

45 Marcellinus says she was pregnant (concepit), which may or may not be true. He also says that she was sent to Constantinople, but this is inconsistent with the story of Priscus.

46 Fasti cons., sub 452; CIL IX.1371.

47 His theory was that the subject territory of the Empire was the private property of the Emperors, in this case of Constantius I and Honorius, and that the children male or female had a claim to equal portions. Attila's Latin secretaries could have informed him that Roman constitutional custom did not recognise such a principle.

48 See above, p256.

49 Priscus, loc. cit., Jordanes, Get. 184.

50 Prosper, sub 451, Jord. Get. 185, 186. A minor matter on the Gallic frontier also engaged Attila's attention. There had been a struggle for kingship among the Ripuarian Franks; they had appealed to him, and the claimant against whom he decided appealed to Aetius. The route which he chose for the invasion of Gaul was perhaps determined by this affair. When he was already on the march he sent another embassy to Ravenna, renewing his demand for the surrender of Honoria and transmitting her ring as a proof of the betrothal (Priscus, fr. 8).

51 For his account of the Gallic campaign Jordanes used Cassiodorus, and the account of Cassiodorus was derived from Priscus. This narrative, doubtless abbreviated and distorted in a reproduction at third hand, is supplemented by Sidonius Apoll. Carm. VII and the Latin Chroniclers (Prosper, Marcellinus, etc.). Sidonius intended to write a history of the war, but only began it. Cp. Epp. VIII.15.

52 We are not told where precisely the Ostrogoths were settled at this period. Schmidt (op. cit. I.124) conjectures with probability that, after they came under the empire of the Huns, they moved westward from their old territory on the Black Sea.

53 Sid. Apoll. Carm. VII.323.

54 Hydatius, 150.

55 Also Saxons, which shows there were already some Saxon settlements north of the Loire, recognised by the government.

56 Schmidt, ib. 246.

57 Settled there by Aetius in A.D. 440 (Prosper).

58 The narrative of Jordanes-Priscus implies that Orleans was not besieged by the Huns. Nor do I think that the words of Sidonius Apoll. Ep. 8, 15 oppugnatio, inruptio nec direptio (we must allow for the rhetoric) imply that the enemy entered the city. But in this passage we may see the beginning of the ecclesiastical legend, which is expanded in the late Vita Aniani. Bishop Anianus probably did much to keep up the hopes and spirits of the alarmed inhabitants. The arrival of the allies in time to save the city would be interpreted as an answer to his prayers. It was natural to magnify the danger and augment the services of the Church by representing the enemy as already within the gates.

59 The date implied in the Vita Aniani, c. VII p113 octavodecimo kal. Iulias = June 14, for the relief of Orleans probably preserves a true tradition. Clinton (F.R. I.642), combining Isidore (Hist. Goth. p278) with Hydatius, puts the battle of (p293) Troyes after Sept. 27. Hodgkin conjectures that it was fought early in July (II.124). If the Vita is right, the battle may be placed about June 20.

60 The battle has been vulgarly known as the battle of Châlons, because some of the sources (Jordanes, Hydatius) vaguely describe it as fought in the Catalaunian Plains, an expression which probably denoted nearly the whole of Champagne. That the scene was near Troyes and not near Châlons (Durocatalaunum) is shown by the more precise notices in Chron. Gall. p663 Tricassis pugnat loco Mauriacos and Consul. Ital. (Prosper Havn.) p302 in quinto miliario de Trecas loco nuncupato Maurica in eo Campania. (Cp. Greg. Tur. II.7 Mauriacum campum; and in the Lex Burgundionum, XVII.1, the battle is called pugna Mauriacensis.) It has been thought that the Mauriac name may be preserved in Méry-sur-Seine, which is about 20 miles N of Troyes, and it may be that the battle was fought between Méry and Troyes. But Méry cannot be identified with Maurica of Cons. Ital. if the numeral quinto is right. Hodgkin (ib. 139‑142) thinks that the claims of this locality (as against the neighbourhood of Châlons) are made more probable by the discovery in 1842 at Pouan, ten miles from Méry, of bones, weapons, and gold ornaments (including a ring inscribed heva). Peigné-Delacourt was confident that here was the grave of Theoderic. There is, however, no evidence for connecting the bones and ornaments with the battle of 451.

61 Aetius was posted on the right wing, Theoderic on the left; the Alans, whose treacherous designs were suspected, in the centre. On the other side, Attila was in the centre. The action began with a struggle to gain possession of a hill, in which the Romans and Goths were successful.

62 Jordanes gives the absurd figure of 165,000 for the fallen.

63 After 452 we hear nothing more of Honoria. We are left to wonder whether she was compelled to marry Herculanus, who was consul in that year. A word in John of Antioch seems to hint that some grave punishment befell her. Recording her escape from death in 450 he says that "Honoria on that occasion (τότε) escaped from chastisement," suggesting that afterwards she was less lucky.

64 For Gennadius Avienus, consul in 450, see Sidonius Apoll. Epp. I.9.

65 Pope Leo in his Sermo in octavis Apost. Petri et Pauli, LXXXIV (P. L. 54), probably refers to this invasion, not to that of the Vandals in 455 (see Gregorovius, Rome in the Middle Ages, I.200). Was it, he asks, the circus games or the protection of the saints that delivered Rome from death?

66 Hydatius, 154. According to Priscus (Jordanes, Get. 222) it was Attila's own counsellors who decided him to abandon the idea of marching to Rome by reminding him that Alaric had died a few weeks after its capture. There may be something in this. Attila's secretaries were doubtless open to bribes.

67 It may be noted that in the winter of 450‑451 Italy suffered from a severe famine. See Novel 32 of Valentinian (Jan. 31, 451) obscaenissimam famem per totam Italiam desaevisse.

68 Jordanes, Get. 223.

69 Ib. 254. Priscus doubtless is the source and there is no hint at foul play. Ildico was the name of the woman.

70 Marcellinus, sub 454. In Teutonic legend the tradition that he was murdered by a woman was preserved, but the lady was Gudrun, the sister of the Burgundian king. Cp. Chadwick, The Heroic Age, 37, 156.

71 The source for the battle is Jordanes, Get. 260. The Nedao cannot be identified.

72 Jordanes, Get. 264. It is probable that they also had part of Walachia, see Schmidt, op. cit. I.308.

73 Schmidt, 309. Jordanes, ib. They received the yearly payments (annua sollemnia) granted to Federates, and this arrangement lasted till the fall of the Gepid power.

74 Schmidt, 335.

75 Jordanes, ib. 261. Cp. John Ant. fr. 214 (De ins. p137).

76 Jordanes, ib. 265.

77 He was comes sacr. larg. in 415‑417, and Prefect of the City in 420‑421. On laying down this office a statue was erected to him by the Emperors, on the petition of the senate and people, in the Forum of Trajan, and there his distinguished pedigree is referred to, a proavis atavisque nobilitas (CIL VI.1749). His first consulship was in 433, the second in 443.

78 Sidonius, Epp. II.13, tr. Dalton.

79 I follow John of Antioch (fr. 85, ib. p125), because I hold that he followed Priscus. That Maximus played a part in the fall of Actius is confirmed by Marcellinus; Valentinianus dolo Maximi patricii cuius etiam fraude Aetius perierat.

80 Sidonius Apoll. Carm. VII.359.

81 Cp. Prosper, sub a. Gregory of Tours calls Optila Occila bucellarius Aetii (H.F. II.8).

82 The scene of the attack was called the Two Laurels (Prosper, Chron. Pasch.). There was a place of the same name on the Via Labicana. Cp. Holder-Egger in Neues Archiv, I.270, and Hodgkin, II.198.

83 John Ant. ib. p126. The story of Valentinian's adultery with the wife of Maximus may or may not be true. The Salmasian fragment, attributed by Müller to John Ant. (fr. 200), belongs to some other writer. The story is also found in Procopius, B. V. I.4.

84 Procopius, ib., where Aetius and Boniface are so described. The compliment to Aetius is weakened by the inclusion of Boniface.

85 Marcellinus.

86 This point of view appears in the writings of pagan historians like Eunapius and Zosimus.

87 See Cyprian, Ad Demetrianum.

88 The Eunomian historian Philostorgius, who graphically described the miseries which the provinces suffered in the reigns of Arcadius and Theodosius II, attributed the calamities to the persecution of the Eunomians. It seems likely that he shared the view of those who saw in these contemporary events the signs of the end of the world predicted by Jesus in the Gospels. This view is reflected in a clearly contemporary Apocalypse, preserved in Syriac and translated by Arendzen, in Journal of Theological Studies, 1901, 401 sqq. (Cp. Bidez, Proleg. to his ed. of Philostorgius, CXV sqq.). How soon the impression of great events may grow faint is illustrated by the fact that Socrates and Sozomen, who wrote in the middle of the fifth century, notice Alaric's capture of Rome as if it were no extraordinary event; Theodoret does not even mention it. We can see from the abridged notice which has been preserved how differently it struck Philostorgius (XII.3).

89 It was composed in the years 413 to 426 and parts of it were published before it was completed. In reading Augustine it is always well to bear in mind that he was a Neoplatonist before he was a Catholic, and a Manichean before he was a Neoplatonist. The stages of his thought have recently been studied by P. Alfaric, L'Évolution intellectuelle de Saint Augustin, 1918. It is also well to remember that he was a rhetorician. His most interesting work The Confessions is marred for modern taste by its rhetoric.

90 De civ. Dei, V.25.

91 On its influence in later times see J. N. Figgis, The Political Aspects of St. Augustine's City of God.

92 Augustine here depended on the chronological scheme worked out by Hippolytus, Sextus Julius Africanus, and Eusebius.

93 De civ. Dei, XVIII.53; XXII.30.

94 De civ. Dei, XVIII.53, 54.

95 Cp. ib. XI.1.

96 He indicates the design repeatedly in the work itself and in his Retractationes. Bks. XI‑XIV deal with the exortus of the two cities and come down to Cain and Abel; Bks. XV‑XVIII describe the procursus, and survey the historical growth of the Civ. Dei; and the last four Books deal with the future and the debiti fines of the two cities.

97 It is to be observed that Augustine regarded the virtues of the pagans as vices, because vera religio was absent (XIX c25). Chrysostom seems to take a more lenient and human view, Hom. 5, on Ep. ad Rom., P.G. 60, 426 sqq.

98 See Orosius, Hist., Prol.

99 The date of the work is A.D. 418.

100 Hist., Prol. II.1. The number was based on Daniel, chap. II. Sulpicius Severus (Chron. II.3) makes the four kingdoms, the Chaldaean, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman.

101 De gubernatione Dei. It was written not earlier than 439 and before Attila's invasion in 451.

102 III. V.

103 De gubernatione Dei, IV.30.

104 Gibbon, IV. chap. XXXVIII.173 sqq. Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders, II.538 sqq., enumerates as contributory causes Christianity, the destruction of the middle classes, and "barbarous finance." Seeley, "Roman Imperialism," in Macmillan's Magazine, August 1869, makes depopulation mainly responsible. Over-taxation of the rich has sometimes been assigned as one of the causes of the "fall" of the Empire. It has been pointed out above (p153) that under-taxation of the rich was rather the trouble.

105 Seeck, Untergang, vol. I.

106 Cp. above, Chap. III § 4.

107 Cp. above, Chap. IV § 3.

108 Cp. below, Chap. XI § 2, on the political bearing of the law of 445 in favour of the Roman See.

109 On the family of the Albini and Volusiani see Seeck, Praef. to Symmachus, p. clxxiv sqq. Augustine's correspondent was comes rei priv. in 408.

110 Epp. 138, addressed to their common friend Marcellinus.

111 The monastic movement was anti-social, but in the period in question it was young, and cannot have withdrawn so many young men from public service as to affect appreciably the strength of the State.

112 It may be remembered that Valens would not wait for Gratian, who was hastening to his help.

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