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Book III
Chapter 5

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Italy and Her Invaders

Thomas Hodgkin

2nd edition
Oxford University Press
London, 1892

The text, and illustrations except as noted,
are 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,
please let me know!


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Book III
Chapter 7

Book 3 (continued)

Vol. II
Chapter VI

Supremacy of Ricimer (continued). Severus II, the Lucanian, A.D. 461‑465. Anthemius, the Client of Byzantium, A.D. 467‑472.


Sources: —

The Panegyric and Epistles of Sidonius, as quoted in the text.

The Chroniclers as before, with the addition of Cassiodorus, minister of Theodoric the Ostrogoth (480‑575). Now that he no longer has Prosper to copy from, his chronicle becomes valuable as an independent authority.

We are also compelled here, in the great dearth of contemporary information, to rely occasionally on Theophanes, though a Byzantine historian of a poor type. Theophanes was born in 758 and died in 817. He was of noble birth, embraced the monastic life, and took part in the Iconoclastic controversy as a vehement upholder of the worship of images. His 'Chronographia' extends from the accession of Diocletian to the second year of the Emperor Michael I (284‑813).​a

For the life of Marcellinus our chief authority is the Lexicon of Suidas (of uncertain date, possibly not later than Theophanes).

For the quarrel between Anthemius and Ricimer the main authority is Ennodius, De Vitâ Epiphanii, described in the text. Ennodius, Bishop of Ticinum, lived from about 473 to 521.

For the close of the reign of Anthemius some valuable details are furnished by the recently discovered fragments of the history  p431 of Joannes Antiochenus. The author was an orator of Antioch, probably of the seventh century, who wrote the history of the Empire from the Creation to the great earthquake and fire at Antioch in 526. Holder-Egger (Neues Archiv, I.295) considers that Joannes had before him the history of Priscus and thence drew some valuable information. The few remains of his work which have been discovered are published in Müller's 'Fragmenta veterum Historicorum Graecorum.' Priscus, of Panium (described Book II, Chap. 2), gives the diplomatic history of the times with some fulness. Unfortunately we have his work only in fragments, relating to the negotiations in which the Empire was engaged, but as far as his information goes we may trust him thoroughly, as a contemporary and a man of truthful character.

Paulus Diaconus (about 720 to 790) in his Historia Romana, a continuation of Eutropius, gives us some valuable fragments of information, but cannot be considered a first-rate authority for this period, though he will be invaluable for later centuries.

Guide: —

From this point onwards to the close of the Western Empire I am under constant obligation to Pallmann, Geschichte der Völkerwanderung. His second volume deals with the cycle of events which led to the elevation of Odovacar to supreme power in Italy, and with his subsequent overthrow by Theodoric the Ostrogoth.

Accession of Severus II, the Lucanian. Libius Severus, 'a Lucanian by nation,' was the man whom Ricimer had selected to wear the diadem snatched from the head of the murdered Majorian. Anonymus Cuspiniani. He was proclaimed Emperor at Ravenna, on the nineteenth of November, 461. He died at Rome on the fifteenth of August, 465. These two dates sum up in truth the whole of our knowledge respecting this faint shadow of an Emperor. It should, perhaps, be added that one authority states that he 'lived religiously.'1

 p432  His meek character To one who is familiar with the name of the Lucanians, and who remembers the part which this stern Sabellian tribe, dwelling in the extreme south of Italy, played in three of Rome's greatest wars (the Pyrrhic, Second Punic, and Social), it seems strangely incongruous that the only contribution which Lucania furnished to the list of Roman Emperors should have been this meek inoffensive cipher-Augustus, who 'lived religiously,' and died quietly at Rome after four years of sovereignty, neither by his life nor by his death making a ripple on the downward stream of the Empire's fortunes.

and death. Did Ricimer poison him? The only question which can raise a momentary interest in connection with this Emperor is as to the manner of his death. Was it due to the ordinary course of nature or to the hand of Ricimer? Cassiodorus, who is a good authority, and who wrote about half a century after these events, says cautiously, 'as some aver, by the hand of Ricimer, Severus was taken off by poison in the palace at Rome.' On the other hand, all the other chroniclers, one or two of whom are yet nearer in date than Cassiodorus, tell us simply that 'Lord Severus died;' and Sidonius, in a poem recited in the presence of Ricimer and his succeeding puppet, says,

'August Severus now by Nature's Law

Hath mingled with the company of the gods.'​2

Though it is hazardous to determine what a poet bent on praising Power will not say, it seems probable that had the common voice of fame in the year 467 connected  p433 the death of Severus with the poison‑cup in the hand of Ricimer, that subject would have been judiciously evaded by Sidonius.3

Foreign relations of Italy —. The four years of the nominal reign of Severus seem to have been a time of desultory and exhausting strife. The rule of Ricimer, if accepted as a disagreeable necessity by the inhabitants of Italy, was regarded with aversion by their neighbours, and we may infer that the hatefulness of the man more than counterbalanced the undeniable capacity of the general and the statesman. To understand the course of events during this obscure​4 time, we must look at the relations existing between the court of Ravenna and those of the four following cities, Constantinople, Carthage, Soissons, and Spalato.

with Leo, Emperor of the East; 1. Leo, 'the Emperor of the Eastern Romans,' beheld, evidently with deep displeasure, the downfall and murder of Majorian, a kindred spirit to his own, and the substitution of the puppet-Emperor Severus. The chronicler, who most faithfully represents the sympathies of the Byzantine Court,​5 uses such expressions as these: 'Severus invaded the place of Majorian,' 'Severus, who snatched the sovereignty of the West,' and refuses to insert him in his proper year in the list of Consuls. When the 'Romans of the West' applied for ships to replace the three hundred destroyed at Carthagena, the loss of which left them at the mercy of Gaiseric's invasions, Constantinople  p434 coldly replied that the existing treaties with the Vandals would not allow of its rendering this assistance. It despatched indeed during this interval one or two embassies to the court of Gaiseric, exhorting him to abstain from invading Sicily and the Italian provinces; but an embassy more or less was a matter of no concern to the Vandal monarch, and he continued his depredations unmoved by the Byzantine rhetoric.

with Gaiseric, king of the Vandals; 2. Gaiseric himself had his reasons for viewing the course of events at Rome with displeasure. He had a candidate of his own for the Imperial Purple, and was deeply offended at that candidate's rejection. It will be remembered that after the sack of Rome he carried the Empress Eudoxia and her two daughters as state-prisoners to Carthage. Incessant embassies​6 from Byzantium had prayed for the surrender of these royal ladies whose captivity, like that of Placidia half a century before, was felt to be an especial insult to the majesty of an Augustus. At length, in the seventh year of their exile, Gaiseric sent the widowed Empress with one daughter to Constantinople, and this was no doubt the occasion of that treaty of alliance between Africa and the East which Leo refused to endanger when the Romans applied to him for help.  p435 The other daughter, Eudocia, Gaiseric had already given in marriage to his son Hunneric — an ill‑assorted union, for the lady was a devout Catholic and her husband a most bitter Arian. Placidia, the sister who was allowed to retire to Constantinople, was the wife of a Roman Senator, named Olybrius, and it was this man, bound to him by a somewhat loose tie of affinity, as being his son's brother-in‑law, whom Gaiseric desired to place, and as we shall see, eventually did place for a few months on the Western throne.

Here then was one grievance of the Vandal against Ricimer. Another was the refusal to comply with his claim to have all the property of Valentinian III and Aetius given up to him. The claim to the late Emperor's wealth of course rested on the alliance between his daughter and the Vandal prince. The more preposterous demand for the property of Aetius was probably in some way connected with the fact that his son Gaudentius had been also carried captive to Carthage. But, whatever the foundation for them, these two demands were urged by the Vandal king with insolent pertinacity, and were the occasion of countless embassies. As they were not complied with, and as the friendship now established between Carthage and Constantinople forbade him to molest the coasts of Greece, Gaiseric decided that 'the nation with whom God was angry'​7 was the Italian. Every year, with the return of spring, he sailed his piratical fleet to the coasts of Campania, or Sicily, or Apulia. He avoided the large towns, fearing to find there sufficiently large bodies of troops to check his advance, and fell by preference on the villages and unwalled towns, carrying off all  p436 the moveable wealth, and making slaves of the inhabitants. This man's instincts were essentially those of the robber rather than the conqueror. He was, so to speak, the representative of that brood of pirates whom Pompey exterminated, the forerunner of those countless spoilers of the sea, Saracen, Moorish, Algerian, by whom the Mediterranean coasts have been wasted, almost down to our own day.

with Aegidius, 'tyrant' of Soissons; 3. The romantic and mysterious career of Aegidius, comrade of Majorian, Master of the Roman Soldiery, voluntarily chosen king of the Franks during the exile of an unpopular chieftain, lies beyond our proper limits, and some of its chief events rest on too doubtful authorities to make it desirable here to describe it at length. But we are fully warranted in saying that he ruled as an independent governor, possibly with the title of king, at Soissons (in Belgic Gaul), that he bitterly resented the death of his old companion-in‑arms, Majorian, and was preparing to avenge it upon Italy — that is, upon Ricimer — that, probably in order to further these purposes of revenge, he sent ambassadors 'across the Ocean to the Vandals,' and that Rome​8 remained for a considerable time in the greatest terror and distress in anticipation of this new Gaulish invasion. Eventually however he was 'drawn off from a war with the Italians by a difference with the Visigoths respecting frontiers, which led to a campaign, in which Aegidius performed acts of the greatest heroism.'​9 In this war Frederic, brother of the Visigothic king, was killed, and apparently Aegidius himself died (or was treacherously  p437 slain) soon after. The Visigoths annexed a large part of his territory, but the city of Soissons and his strange ill‑defined power descended to his son Syagrius, whose acquaintance we have already made as a correspondent of Sidonius, and with whose overthrow by Clovis every student of French history is familiar, as one of the earliest incidents in the career of the young Merovingian.10

Possibly the English reader is more familiar with the name of Aegidius than he is aware of. For some unaccountable reason the French have modified that name into Gilles. Saint Gilles, the hermit of Languedoc, who lived about a hundred years after Count Aegidius, attained great renown both in France and England. The parish of St. Giles' in London and the name Giles, onc so common, especially in the rural districts of England, are thus linked certainly, if somewhat obscurely, with the memory of the 'Tyrannus' of Soissons and the friend of Majorian.

with Marcellinus, Dynast of Dalmatia. 4. We pass from Soissons by the Aisne to the long arcades of Spalato, among the bays and islands of the Dalmatian coast. Here,​11 in the vast palace of Diocletian, lived and reigned Marcellinus,​12 'Patrician of the East,' 'ruler of Dalmatia and of the Epirote Illyrians.' The pupil of Aetius and the counsellor of Majorian, he had in the deaths of those two men a double reason for withdrawing from the blood-stained  p438 circle of Roman politics. Yet he does not seem, like Aegidius, to have broken with Ricimer immediately upon the death of his friend. He fought in Sicily at the head of the Imperial troops, and achieved some considerable successes over the Vandals. Finding however that Ricimer was endeavouring, by bribes, to steal away the hearts of his soldiers, and knowing that he could not hope to vie in wealth with the Suevic Patrician, he retired to Dalmatia, and there founded an independent and hostile principality. 'A reasonable and noble man,' we are told,​13 'learned, courageous, and statesmanlike, keeping his government free, not serving the Roman Emperor, nor any prince or nation, but ruling his own subjects in righteousness.' Apparently one of the few men in high office who still clung to the old Pagan religion and worshipped Jupiter Capitolinus, while all the rest of the world was ranging itself for or against the Council of Chalcedon; practising divination and holding long conversations with a certain philosopher Sallust, who shared his most secret counsels and dwelt in his palace; this relic of an earlier world, deposited by the vicissitudes of the times upon the shores of Dalmatia, is one of the most unique figures of the age, and we would gladly know more of his history. What concerns our present purpose however is the settled hostility which he displayed for some years to the domination of Ricimer, and the constant fear which pervaded Italy during that time of an invasion from the opposite coast of the Adriatic. At length (probably about 465) the good offices of Byzantium were asked and obtained; an ambassador was sent by  p439 the Eastern Emperor to entreat Marcellinus to lay aside his plans of revenge; he complied with the request, and, as we shall soon see, even co‑operated once more with Rome against the Vandals.

No Roman adventurer succeeded in founding a kingdom for himself in the breaking up of the Empire. Neither of these two men, Aegidius and Marcellinus, founded any enduring monarchy out of the fragments of the Empire; nor did any other Roman succeed in the attempt. All the political reconstruction was the work of barbarian hands. Yet on the dissolution of Alexander's Empire, states and monarchies innumerable were established throughout Asia and Africa by Greek adventurers. When the Khalifate fell, Saracen chiefs profited by the ruin. When the Mogul Empire of Delhi lost its vitality, Mohammedan as well as Hindoo Rajahs founded sovereignties which endured for many generations. In the early part of this century the Ali Pasha of Egypt entirely succeeded, and the Ali Pasha of Albania all but succeeded, in rendering themselves virtually independent of the Ottoman Porte. Reasons might probably be easily assigned why no such success was attainable by a Roman Prefect of the Praetorium, or Master of the Soldiery, but we cannot wonder that the experiment was made, nor should we have been surprised if it had been made more frequently.

Invasion of Alans. Other enemies besides those whom we have enumerated were probably making Ricimer's position at the helm of the Commonwealth a difficult one. 6 February In the year 464 Beorgor, king of the Alans, was routed and killed by the Patrician, 'at Bergamo, at the foot of the mountains.'​14 We hear nothing more about this  p440 descent of the savage half-Tartar tribe into the plains of Lombardy. Possibly Beorgor was the successor of that Sangiban, king of the Alans, who fought, with doubtful fidelity, under Aetius on the Mauriac Plains, and he may have forced his way over the Splugen from Coire to Chiavenna, and thence to Bergamo. For one invasion of this kind, leading to a pitched battle, which has claimed a place in the meagre pages of the chroniclers, there were probably many lesser inroads and skirmishes of which no record has been preserved.

Interregnum of twenty months after the death of Severus. It was in August, 465, as was before said, that the unnoticeable Severus died. For a year and eight months from that time no man was saluted as Augustus in the Western half of the Roman Empire. This absolute vacancy of the Imperial office tells a far more striking tale in a pure autocracy, such as the Roman Government had become, than in a constitutional state, where the powers of the sovereign may be, so to speak, 'put in commission.' During all those twenty months, the Patrician must have been avowedly the sole source of power, legislative, military, judicial, and the question must have forced itself on many minds, 'What is the use of wasting the dwindling income of the state on the household of an Emperor, when all the work of ruling is done by the Patrician?' Thus the interregnum of 465‑467 prepared the way for the abolition of the dignity of Augustus in 476. It is doubtful, however, whether Ricimer at this period entered any thoughts of dispensing with the 'fainéant' Emperors. It seems more probable that he was balancing in his mind the respective advantages to be derived from an alliance with Carthage or with Constantinople, the isolated position which Italy had  p441 occupied for the last six years being obviously no longer tenable. If this view be correct, there is perhaps a slightly greater probability of his innocence of the death of Severus. An inoffensive and almost useful tool would hardly have been removed by force, if his employer had not decided how he was to be replaced.

Ricimer allies himself with Constantinople and gives the purple to Anthemius. However this may be, the interregnum was terminated by a decision in favour of Constantinople. Not Olybrius, the brother-in‑law of the son of Gaiseric, but Anthemius, the son-in‑law of the deceased Emperor Marcian, was selected by Ricimer to be the wearer of the purple; and great was the Vandal's rage in consequence. The equivalent which the Eastern Empire was to pay for the still-coveted honour of giving an Augustus to Rome was hearty support against the African enemy, with whom it is probable that her own relations had for some months been growing less friendly. A great combined campaign of 468 against the Vandals — a campaign in which Leo, Marcellinus, and Ricimer all joined their forces — was the fruit of this alliance, and it will be well first to describe this campaign, postponing for the moment the merely complimentary proceedings noted with the new Emperor's accession to the Western throne.

Factions at the Byzantine Court. The Court of Constantinople must have been at this time a curious study for any unprejudiced observer who could keep his head cool in the whirlpool of its contending factions. Passions and ambitions as old as humanity were there, striving side by side with special theological formulae whose very names are almost forgotten among men. While the mob of Constantinople were eagerly discussing Bishop Timothy the Weasel's revolt against the Council of Chalcedon, or Bishop Peter  p442 the Fuller's addition of four words to the Trisagion, Basiliscus, the brother of the Emperor's wife, and Zeno, the husband of the Emperor's daughter, were playing their stealthy, remorseless, bloody game for the succession to the throne of the Emperor, Leo.

Aspar and his sons. When Ricimer's proposals for an alliance reached Constantinople, power was slipping from the hands of the general who had for forty years been the most powerful man in the Eastern Court — Aspar, the son of Ardaburius. An Alan by extraction, he, with his father, had been sent as long ago as 424 on the expedition to Italy, which overthrew the usurper Joannes and established the young Valentinian on the throne of his uncle Honorius.​15 Since then he had been a consul (434), and the father of consuls (447, 459, 465). He was called 'First of the Patricians';​16 he stood on the very steps of the throne, and might have been Emperor himself, but he was an Arian. Being therefore by his theological tenets, which he had probably inherited from his barbarian ancestors, and was too proud to forego, disqualified from himself reigning over 'the orthodox Romans,' he made it his care that the purple should at least be always worn by men subservient to his interests. The brave young soldier who stretched himself to sleep in the courtyard of Gaiseric's palace, whom the hovering eagle overshadowed, and whom the Vandal dismissed with a true presage of his future greatness, was Marcian, 'domesticus' of Aspar.​17 So long as he reigned (450‑457) the influence of his patron appears to have remained unshaken. On his death there seems to have been some expectation that  p443 his son-in‑law, Anthemius, would succeed him,​18 but the predominant influence of Aspar and his son Ardaburius again secured the election of a dependant, their curator, Leo.

Accession of Leo. Servility of the Eastern Courtiers. But, whatever might be the manner of a man's elevation to the supreme dignity of the state, even though, as in the cases of Marcian and Leo, something like domestic service might be the ladder of his promotion, when once he was hailed Augustus, the elaborate court-ceremonial of Byzantium enveloped him in the eyes of acclaiming crowds and literally adoring courtiers with all 'the divinity that doth hedge a king.' We have an apt illustration of this in one of those anecdotes with which the chroniclers so curiously diversify their otherwise meagre pages. 462 A few years after Leo's accession, as we are informed by Marcellinus, he fell sick of a fever. Jacobus, a man of Greek nationality and Pagan faith, and one in whom a great natural genius for the healing art had been enriched by a long course of study, was called in to prescribe for the Imperial patient. When he entered 'the sacred bed‑chamber,' he presumed to take a seat by the Emperor's bedside without having received any sign that he was at liberty to do so, and then proceeded to make his diagnosis of the case. When he returned at noon to 'the sacred couch,' he found the possibility of such impertinence averted by the removal of the chair. He perceived the meaning of the hint, and at once, with awful 'intrepidity,' sat down upon the Imperial couch itself, explaining to the sick Emperor that he did so in conformity with the rules  p444 laid down by the old masters of his art, and not out of any disrespect to him.

Breach between Leo and Aspar. To Leo the servility of the Byzantine Court was perhaps useful, as giving him courage to resist the too imperious mandates of his old master. It happened, apparently in the first year of his reign, that Aspar asked him to appoint one of his brother Arians to the post of Prefect of the City. Cowed by his long habit of deference Leo assented, but regretted his compliance the moment afterwards. That night he sent for an orthodox senator, and installed him, stealthily and with haste, in the vacant office. Great was Aspar's wrath when he heard of this act of disobedience on the part of his sovereign. He came black-browed into the purple presence-chamber, and grasping the Emperor's robe, said to him, 'Emperor! it is not fitting that he who is wrapped in purple should tell lies!' To which Leo replied, 'Yes, rather, it is not fitting that the Emperor should be bound to do the bidding of any of his subjects, especially when by his compliance he injures the state.'19

 p445  For thirteen years the breach between the First of the Patricians and his late curator went on widening. Yet Aspar was still a great power in the State, and it seemed not improbable that one of his three sons, Ardaburius, Patricius, or Hermenric, would succeed the sonless Leo who was already passing the prime of life. New favourites. To strengthen himself against the anger of his former patron, the Emperor began to cultivate the friendship of some of the Isaurian adventurers who at that time abounded in Constantinople, wild, rugged, unpopular men from the highlands of Asia Minor, but men who were not likely to fail him 'when hard came to hard.' Zeno the Isaurian. One of these men, who was known by the barbarous appellation Tarasicodissa, son of Rusumbladeotus, changed his name to Zeno, and received the Emperor's daughter Ariadne in marriage. Thenceforward it was understood that Zeno was the head of the party opposed to Aspar, and that he would, if possible, compass for himself, or at least for the younger Leo, his son by Ariadne, the succession to the Imperial throne.

Basiliscus. On the other hand, a powerful counterpoise to the influence of Zeno was found in Basiliscus, the brother of the Emperor's wife Verina. This man's craving to wear one day the Imperial diadem was so passionate and so ill‑concealed, that it made him almost the laughing-stock of the Court; but it was well-known that he was the confidant of the still influential Aspar, and that in the fierce resentment of himself and his party against the Council of Chalcedon, they were willing to accept help even from the Arians in order to annul its decrees. Basiliscus, the Monophysite, practically denied the true Manhood of Jesus Christ; Aspar, the Arian, denied his true Godhead; but they were ready to co‑operate in  p446 order to drive out of Church and State the men who, in obedience to the Council of Chalcedon, maintained the combined Manhood and Godhead of the Saviour.

Great armament against the Vandals under the command of Basiliscus. Such was the state of parties at Constantinople when in the spring of 468 Leo despatched his long prepared armament against the Vandals. It was meant to deal a crushing blow. The Western Empire contributed probably some supplies both of men and money; Marcellinus left his Dalmatian palace and his independent principality to serve as a general under the orders of the Roman Emperors; but the chief weight of the preparations fell, as was natural, on the comparatively unexhausted Empire of the East. Leo, who was a man of courage and capacity, was determined to spare neither trouble nor expense on this great enterprise. A thousand ships, a hundred thousand men, a hundred and thirty thousand pounds' weight of gold (£5,850,000 sterling), had been collected at Constantinople.​20 All seemed to promise well for the success of the armament, but all was ruined by the selection of its head. Basiliscus was appointed Generalissimo: and showed such miserable weakness in his command that later generations believed that Vandal gold, or the secret orders of  p447 Aspar, anxious that his Arian fellow-believers should not be too hardly pressed, caused his failure. Either hypothesis may be true, but historians are too apt to forget the infinite depths of simple human stupidity.

Marcellinus sailed to Sardinia, and expelled the Vandals from that island. Heraclius, another Byzantine general, made a successful descent on Tripolis, took the cities of the Vandals in that region, and marched from thence westwards to the city of Carthage. The proceedings of Basiliscus and the main body of the host shall be told in the very words of the historian Procopius, who is here our only authority. Though he wrote more than half a century after the event, yet as he was an Eastern Roman, 533 and served in that very campaign against Carthage, in which Belisarius did what Basiliscus failed to do, we may listen to his story with some confidence in its general correctness.

Success at the outset. Basiliscus meanwhile, with his whole force, sailed for a town about thirty-five miles from Carthage, called Mercurion, from an old temple of Hermes there; and if he had not with evil purpose lingered at that place, but had at once commenced his march to Carthage, he would have taken the city at the first shout, annihilated the strength of the Vandals, and reduced them to slavery; so thoroughly was Gaiseric now alarmed at the irresistible might of the Emperor Leo, who had taken from him Sardinia and Tripolis, and had sent against him such an armament under Basiliscus as all men said the Romans had never fitted out before. All this was now hindered by the general's procrastination, which was due either to cowardice or treachery. Profiting by the supineness  p448 of Basiliscus, Gaiseric armed all his subjects as well as he could, and put them on board troop-ships. Other ships, fast-sailors and carrying no soldiers, he held in reserve. Then sending ambassadors to Basiliscus he begged for a delay of five days, pretending that if this were granted him he would consider how he might best comply with the wishes of the Emperor. And some say that he sent a large sum of money to Basiliscus, unknown to his soldiers, in order to purchase this armistice. He devised this scheme in the expectation, which was justified by the event, that in the meantime a wind would spring up which would be favourable to his purposes. Basiliscus then, either in obedience to the recommendation of Aspar, or as having been bribed to grant this truce, or because he really believed that it would be better for the army, stayed quietly in his camp waiting the convenience of the enemy. But the Vandals, as soon as ever the wind arose which they had patiently been expecting, unfurled their sails, and, taking the empty ships in tow, sailed against the enemy. Vandal Fire‑ships. As soon as they came near they set the empty ships on fire, and sent them with bellying sails full against the anchorage of the Romans. The ships of the latter, being tightly packed together in the quarter to which the fire-ships were directed, soon caught fire, and readily communicated it to one another.

'When the fire was kindled, great terror naturally seized the Roman host. Soon, the whistling of the wind, the roar of the fire, the shouts of the soldiers to the sailors, and of the sailors to the soldiers, the strokes of the poles with which they strove to push off the fire-ships or their own burning companions, created a wild hubbub of discordant noises. Roman Defeat. And now were the  p449 Vandals upon them, hurling javelins, sinking ships, or stripping the fugitive soldiers of their armour. Even in this crisis there were some among the Romans who played the man, most of all Joannes, second in command to Basiliscus, and quite guiltless of all his treachery. For when a great multitude of the enemy surrounded his ship, he from the deck killed numbers of them with his furious blows right and left; and when he saw that the ship was taken, he sprang in full armour from the quarter-deck into the sea. Then did Genzo, the son of Gaiseric, earnestly importune him to surrender, offering him assistance and promising him safety, but he none the less committed his body to the sea, with this one cry, "Never will Joannes fall into the hands of dogs."

Basiliscus pardoned on his return to Constantinople. 'With this the war was ended. Heraclius returned home. Basiliscus, when he arrived at Byzantium, seated himself as a suppliant in the temple which is dedicated to the great Christ and God, and which is called Sophia [Wisdom] because the Byzantines think that epithet the most appropriate to God. On the earnest entreaty of his sister, the Empress Verina, he escaped death, but his hopes of the throne, for the sake of which he had done all these things, were for the present dashed'​21 by the soon following fall of Aspar and Ardaburius.

Truly in reading Procopius' account of all the valour and treasure wasted in this campaign, one can heartily echo the saying of a more recent Byzantine historian,​22 'Better is an army of stags led by lions than an army of lions led by a stag.'

In some mysterious manner the close of this campaign  p450 was connected with the fall of the brilliant and courageous Marcellinus. We are told that he 'perished by the treachery of one of his colleagues,'​23 that he was 'killed in Sicily,'​24 that 'while bringing aid and succour to the Romans fighting against the Vandals near Carthage, Death of Marcellinus. Aug. 468​25 he was guilefully struck down by the very men whom he was coming to help.'​26 We know that the Dalmatian palace was left empty, that there were no more talks by the shore of the plashing Adriatic between the general and his philosopher friend Sallust, concerning the nature of the gods and the causes of the ruin of this perplexing world. But why or by whom Marcellinus died remains a mystery.

Entry of Anthemius into Rome. The unsuccessful campaign against Carthage occurred, as has been said, in the spring and summer of 468. We return to the events of the preceding spring in Italy. On the 12th of April 467, the population of Rome poured forth to meet the new Emperor who was henceforth to rule over them in firm alliance with his brother Augustus of Constantinople. At the third milestone from the city​27 Anthemius was solemnly proclaimed Emperor of Rome in the presence probably of a brilliant escort from Byzantium, including his wife Euphemia, daughter of an Emperor, and now Empress herself, of his three sons, Marcian, Romulus, and Procopius, and a daughter, Alypia,​28 who was to play an important part in cementing the new alliance between  p451 East and West. The Patrician Ricimer was there doubtless, scanning the features of the new sovereign, and endeavouring to find an answer to the question, 'To rule or to be ruled?' There too were the Senate, the copious German guards, the dwindled ranks of the legionaries, and the Roman populace, those jaded and dissipated sons of slaves who still called themselves Quirites, and talked of Father Mars and the She‑Wolf's nurslings.

Pedigree and early history of Anthemius. The new Emperor was not merely son-in‑law of Marcian, but in his own right a great Byzantine noble. On his father's side he was descended from that Procopius, TWO NOTES IN THE IMAGE​2930 whose revolt against Valentinian and whose short-lived sovereignty were described at the beginning of this  p452 history.​31 On his mother's side he traced his descent from Anthemius, Praetorian Prefect of the East, and virtual Regent during the early years of the minority of Theodosius II. Both this Anthemius (his maternal grandfather) and Procopius (his father) had been employed in important embassies to the Persian Court.​32 He himself, aided no doubt by his fortunate marriage to Euphemia, had in early manhood attained the successive dignities of Count of Illyricum, Master of the Soldiery, Consul (455), and Patrician. The expectation of some of the courtiers had marked him out as a probable successor of Marcian, but when the all‑powerful voice of Aspar decreed the diadem to Leo, Anthemius sensibly took the disappointment in good part, attached himself loyally to the fortunes of the new Emperor, and was soon entrusted by him with an important command on the Lower Danube. Walamir the Ostrogoth, and Hormidac the Hun, were apparently both threatening the Roman inhabitants of the country which we now call Bulgaria. The populous city of Sardica (now Sofia), upon the northern slope of the Balkans, was in especial danger. Anthemius distinguished himself by the strict discipline which he maintained among his troops — often in those degenerate days more terrible to friend than to foe — and in a pitched battle with Hormidac, he  p453 obtained, we are told, a decisive victory, notwithstanding the treacherous conduct of a subordinate — probably a barbarian — officer, who in the very crisis of the battle drew off all his cavalry, and left the Imperial flank exposed. After the victory the Roman general imposed one indispensable condition of peace upon the conquered Huns — the surrender of his traitorous colleague, who was put to death in the sight of both armies.33

Such was the past history of the richly-clothed Byzantine official who, in the spring of 467, rode proudly in through the gate of Rome, amidst the acclamations of soldiery and populace. 'Long live Anthemius Augustus! Long live Ricimer, the Patrician! Long live the Concord of the Emperors!'

Sidonius hears of the accession of Anthemius and meditates a new Panegyric. When the tidings of these Roman pageants reached the banks of the Rhone, one can imagine what envy they raised in the heart of Sidonius. 'An Emperor acclaimed, and I not there to weave his praises into hexameters!' was a bitter reflection for the Gaulish poet. He had still some unused metaphors in his head; the necessary compliments to the Eastern Empire would give a motive entirely different from those of his two previous panegyrics; there was always the possibility of turning a few chapters of Livy into sonorous verse, and, in short, he resolved to resume the 'useful toil' of a Panegyrist. A deputation of the citizens of Auvergne was appointed to congratulate Anthemius on his accession, perhaps to solicit the redress of grievances, or help against the Visigoths; but it is plain from Sidonius' letters​34 that the message entrusted to the  p454 deputation was the last thing in his thoughts; the real business to him was the Panegyric.

His journey to Rome. His errand having received the sanction of the 'sacred autograph,' he was entitled to travel at the public charge, by that admirably-organised postal service (the cursus) which was probably about the last to perish of the Imperial institutions. In a letter to a friend, he describes his journey with a few life-like touches, though some sentences reveal the rhetorician. But the friendly aspect of the well-known villas by the Rhone, the short climb up the torrent-beds and over the snows of the Alps, the voyage from Ticinum (Pavia) down the Ticino and the Po, past cities which recalled the honoured name of Virgil, and though woods of oak and maple alive with the sweet song of birds, are all vividly brought before us. He admired the situation of Ravenna,​35 so strong for defence, so convenient for commerce, and was in doubt whether to say that the city and the harbour (Classis) were connected or divided by the long 'Street of Caesar' which passed between them. But, though provisions of all kinds were to be had at Ravenna in abundance, he found, as other poets had found before him, that water fit for drinking was an unattainable luxury in that city, and he suffered the pangs of thirst though surrounded by streams.​36 Across the historic Rubicon and Metaurus, through the plains of Picenum and the valleys of Umbria, the Gaulish poet journeyed, no doubt with the lines of the fateful Panegyric churning in his head. But either the Sirocco blowing over the plains, or (as was probably  p455 the case) the imperfect drainage of Ravenna,​37 had by this time touched him with a fever. Alternately burning and shivering, he quaffed, but in vain, the waters of every stream and fountain near which his journey led him; and when the towers of Rome appeared upon the horizon, his feeling was that all the aqueducts of the City, and all the mimic seas of the amphitheatres,​38 would be insufficient to quench his thirst.

Sidonius finds Rome en fête on account of the marriage of Ricimer. However, before entering the city he visited the tombs of the Apostles, and after he had prostrated himself there, he felt that the languor of the fever departed from his limbs. He found the whole city in an uproar, on account of the wedding between the Patrician Ricimer and the daughter of the Ever-August Emperor; an union which, while it reversed the relations between 'the Father of the Emperor' and his new father-in‑law, was avowedly based on state considerations, and was looked upon as affording a new guarantee for the public tranquillity by cementing the alliance between Byzantine legitimacy and the rough strength of Ricimer's barbarians. Theatres, markets, temples, were all resounding with the Fescennine verses in which the populace, sometimes not too decorously, expressed their congratulations to the wedded pair. The bridegroom, with a crown upon his head, and the flowered robe (palmata) of the Consular upon his shoulders, went to fetch the bride from the house of  p456 her father. In the universal hubbub, no one had any ears for the Gallic deputation, and the Transalpine poet, seeking the comparative quiet of his inn, drew, for the benefit of his correspondent at Lyons, an amusing picture of the 'earnest holiday'​39 of the humming city.

Sidonius chooses a patron. When he next took up the pen he was able to announce a brilliant success. The great poem had been recited on New Year's Day (468), and had earned for its author applause and a high office in the state. As soon as the wedding turmoil was over, and the riches of two empires had been sufficient displayed to public view, the affairs of the state resumed their ordinary course. The Gallic deputies met with entertainment and a courteous reception at the house of one Paulus, a venerable man and an ex‑prefect. Sidonius describes with amusing naïveté how he then set to work to attach himself to a patron, Paulus being presumably too old to give him efficient assistance. The choice lay between two men, both of consular rank, and confessedly the most influential persons in the state after the Emperor, 'always excepting the predominant power of the military party' — a most significant exception, which probably included Ricimer and all his immediate followers.

Characters of Avienus and Basilius. These two possible patrons were Gennadius Avienus and Caecina Basilius. Avienus had obtained the consul­ship in 450, and had been congratulated by all his friends on his early promotion. Basilius had been made consul in 463, and all the City had said, 'Why was not so good a man raised to the office before?'  p457 Either nobleman saw his gate thronged with suitors, and was followed through the forum by a crowd of obsequious clients; but the composition of the two bands of retainers was very different, and so was the nature of their hopes. Avienus was most successful in pushing the fortunes of his sons, his sons-in‑law, and his brothers: when all this had been accomplished, there was not much court-influence left for more distant clients, whom he accordingly charmed with his affable demeanour, but who somehow found that they were not drawing any nearer to the goal of the wishes, notwithstanding all the hours that they spent at their patron's vestibule. Basilius had far fewer of his own friends to provide for, and his manner with those whom he admitted into the circle of his dependents was much more reserved, almost haughty; but when he did accept the homage of a client, he was almost certain to obtain for him the fulfilment of his desires. Upon this estimate of their respective characters, Sidonius wisely decided to attach himself to the clientèle of Basilius, while not omitting to pay frequent visits of ceremony at the door of Avienus.

Basilius proposes to Sidonius the production of a panegyric on Anthemius. Favoured by the efficient help of Basilius, the affairs of the Arvernian deputation were soon in good train for settlement. One day the Patron said to the Poet, 'Come, my Sollius! The Kalends of January are at hand, and the name of our Emperor is to be inscribed on the Fasti of this New Year. Though I know that you are weighed down with the responsibility of your deputation, can you not call upon your old Muse to inspire you with some lines in honour of the new consul? It is true that in so short a time they will have to be almost the result of improvisation, but I can  p458 promise you a hearing for your verses, and at least my hands for their applause.'

The Panegyric recited on New Year's Day. It needs not to be said that the suggestion of Basilius was eagerly accepted, and that upon the morning of the first day of 468 Sidonius was ready with an 'impromptu' of 547 lines in praise of Anthemius. There is no need to describe this poem with any fulness of detail, since the reader can easily imagine its character from the two similar performances by the same hand in praise of Avitus and Majorian. There is an eloquent passage in praise of Constantinople,​40 and a graphic account of the manners of the Huns,​41 very closely corresponding with the pictures drawn by Jordanes and Ammianus. The lineage of Anthemius is described; the conventional prodigies which marked his birth and infancy; the events of his military and official career; and great stress is laid on his unwillingness — real or imaginary — to accept the Western Crown, till commanded to do so by Leo. The real interest of the poem for us lies in its hints as to the course of contemporary politics, in its portraiture of Gaiseric and Ricimer.

'Each Emperor that on Western soil born

Fails from the helm and perishes forlorn.

Here the stern Vandal spreads his thousand sails

And yearly for our ruin courts the gales.

Strange fate! Upon our shores swart Afric throws

The nations reared amid Caucasian snows.​42

 p459  Alone, till now, with Mars his only friend,

He on whose arm the fates of Rome depend,

Unconquered Ricimer has held at bay

The Freebooter​43 who makes our fields his prey,

Who skulks from battle, yet can still contrive

To reap the victor's spoils, a fugitive.

Whose strength by such a foe would not be spent

Who gives nor Peace nor War's arbitrament?

"No peace with Ricimer,' his watchword dire,

And this the cause that fills his veins with fire.

He knows himself the offspring of a slave,

The sire he knows not who his being gave.

Hence envy gnaws him, that his rival springs,

Great Ricimer, on either side from kings.

His sire a Sueve, a royal Gothic dame

His mother, who of Walia's lineage came;

The noble Walia, whose redoubted sword

Drove forth from Spain the motley, mongrel horde

Of Vandals, Alans, worsted in the fray,

And with their corpses covered Calpé's bay.'​44

But Ricimer alone, says the poet, can no longer ward off the perils of the Empire. There is need of an Emperor of the old type, one who can not only order wars, but wage them. Such an Emperor the East can furnish, and, on the intercession of Rome, she does furnish, in the bronzed veteran Anthemius. He and his son-in‑law have prepared fleets and armies which will surely reduce Africa to its ancient obedience. In some future year, when Anthemius shall be consul for a third, or Ricimer for a second time, Sidonius promises himself the delight of again appearing before them to chant the fall of Gaiseric.

Success of the Panegyric. The florid Panegyric was received, its author tells us,  p460 with rapturous applause. Shouts of 'Sophos! Sophos!'​45 (the Greek equivalent of 'bravo') resounded from the benches where sat the senators conspicuous by their purple laticlaves,​46 and from the higher tiers of seats where swarmed the common people, the representatives of the once omnipotent Roman tribes.​47 Sidonius appointed Prefectus Urbis. A more striking proof of approbation was given by the Emperor, who, on the recommendation of Basilius, named Sidonius Prefect of the City of Rome.​48 Thus, as he himself piously expresses it, 'I have now, by the help of Christ and an opportune use of my pen, arrived at the Prefecture.' In modern states (China and the great American Republic alone excepted) it would be hard to find an instance of honours such as this conferred on the votaries of literature.

His duties and anxieties in that capacity. Sidonius was now in theory the third personage in the Empire, on a level with the Praetorian Prefects of Italy and Gaul, inferior only to the Emperor and the Patrician. In practice, however, it is probable that many a rude Herulian centurion or tribune counted for more than the versatile thin-minded poet. Besides his presidency over the Senate, the aqueducts, the market-places, the fores-shores, the harbour, the statues, were all under his care.​49 But his chief business — an infinitely harassing one in those dying days of the Empire  p461 — was the care of the provisioning of the City, which rested upon him and his subordinate, the Commissary General (Praefectus Annonae), as the Earthly Providence of Rome. It is curious to read a letter from the new Prefect to a Gaulish friend, in which he expresses his fear lest, when he next visits the amphitheatre, he should hear a harsh cry of rage from the assembled multitude,​50 imputing their hunger to his incapacity. A gleam of hope shines upon him when he is informed that five ships, laden with cornº and honey, have arrived at Ostia from Brindisi, and he despatches his Praefectus Annonae with all speed, to receive and distribute the precious cargoes.

His retirement from office. Sidonius retained his new dignity for only one year, but on laying it down he probably received the title of Patrician​51 — a title which was in his case purely honorary, conferring no power and imposing no responsibility. The short tenure of his office does not exactly imply disgrace, but it may probably be asserted that if the Gaulish man of letters had shown any conspicuous ability in his Prefectorate, his office would have been renewed to him at least for two or three years.​52 He  p462 quitted Rome in the year 469, never to return to that scene of petty intrigues and worn‑out splendours — pigmies masquerading in the armour of giants — a scene which must have filled a thoughtful man with sadness and a cynic with a rapture of scorn.

Trial of Arvandus, Praetorian Prefect of Gaul. But before he went he witnessed the commencement of a process which attracted his deepest interest, and filled him with various emotions — the trial and condemnation of Arvandus. This man, a fellow-countryman of Sidonius, had for five years held the office of Praetorian Prefect of Gaul. The popularity which marked his earlier years of office had utterly deserted him before its close. He had become involved in debt, from which he had sought to free himself by the most unjust exactions from the provincials; he had grown moody, suspicious, implacable; and finally, knowing the universal disfavour with which the Roman population regarded him, he had commenced a traitorous correspondence with the Visigothic king. Three Gaulish noblemen were sent as a deputation to Rome to impeach Arvandus before the Senate on charges of extortion and high treason ('rerum repetundarum et laesae majestatis').

The arrival of this deputation, and of the accused governor, placed Sidonius in an awkward position. The deputies were all of them acquaintances of his, and one (Tonantius Ferreolus) was his relative and intimate friend.​53 On the other hand, Arvandus had been long known, though never liked by him, and he says that he would have thought it base and barbarous to desert him in the day of his calamity. This difficulty however was soon solved by the accused himself, who,  p463 when Sidonius and a fellow-noble ventured to give him some hints as to the necessity of tact and moderation in the conduct of his case, flamed out upon them with the words, 'Away with you, ye degenerate sons of Prefects! Who wants your fussy anxiety on my behalf? Arvandus' conscience suffices for Arvandus. I can scarcely bring myself even to hire an advocate to defend me from the charge of extortion.'

All the rest of his conduct was of a piece with this outburst of petulance. While the Gaulish deputies were walking about in sad‑coloured garments, with downcast faces, as men who had a painful duty to perform on behalf of the oppressed, Arvandus, in a white toga, with scented hair and pumice-stoned face, gaily promenaded the Forum, nodding to his friends as if his salutation were still of the highest value, frequenting the jewellers' shops, chaffering over the price of fashionable knick-knacks, and all the while keeping up a running fire of complaints against the Emperor, the Senate, and the laws, for allowing a person of his quality to be subjected to the indignity of a trial.

The eventful day arrived. The Senate-house was crowded. The defendant, fresh from the hair-dresser's hands, walked boldly up to the benches of the 'prefectorians,' and took his seat, as if of right, in the most honourable place among his judges. Ferreolus, on the contrary, equally entitled to a seat among the 'prefectorians,' placed himself, along with his fellow-deputies, on one of the lowest benches of the Senate-house. The deputation set forth their case, and read the mandate which they had received from their fellow-citizens. Instead of lingering over the outworks of the indictment,  p464 the charges of peculation and extortion, they went rapidly to the heart of the matter, the accusation of treasonable intrigues with the Barbarians. A letter was produced, in the handwriting of the amanuensis of Arvandus, addressed to the Visigothic king. It tended to dissuade him from making peace with 'the Greek Emperor' (Anthemius), suggested that he should attack the Bretons,​54 who were allies of the Empire, and recommended that 'the Visigoths and the Burgundians should divide Gaul between them, according to the law of nations.' There might have been some difficulty in tra­cing the composition of this letter to Arvandus, but the infatuated culprit aimed the weapon against himself by at once boldly proclaiming that he was the author. Condemnation of Arvandus. 'Then you are guilty of high-treason' (laesa majestas), said every voice in the assembly. He then tried to retract and to qualify his previous admissions, for with incredible folly​55 he had hitherto supposed that nothing short of the actual assumption of the Imperial purple would have justified a condemnation for high-treason. But it was too late; his guilt was manifest. He was stripped of all his dignities, and the delicately-dressed and scented culprit was hurled, with every mark of disgrace, into a squalid dungeon on the Insula Tiberina, sentenced to be there killed by the executioner, to have his body dragged by an iron hook through the streets, and then to be cast into the Tiber.

 p465  Sidonius pleads for a mitigation of the sentence. By the wise and merciful legislation of Theodosius, due to the suggestion of Ambrose,​56 an interval of thirty days necessarily elapsed between the utterance and the execution of a capital sentence. This interval Sidonius employed in pleading for the mitigation of the punishment of the fallen Prefect, though, as he contemptuously remarked, 'No greater calamity can befall them than that he should wish to live, after all the ignominy that has been heaped upon him.' An entry in one of the Chroniclers​57 seems to justify the inference that the intervention of Sidonius was successful, and that the capital sentence was commuted into one of perpetual exile.

Anthemius and Ricimer at feud. It is not improbable that one cause of Sidonius' departure from Rome may have been that he saw the political horizon darkening with the impending rupture between Ricimer and Anthemius. The great enterprise against Carthage, which should have united them, had failed, as was before stated (468); and thus, both Rome and the Suevic chief had humbled themselves before Byzantium for nothing. Anthemius was hot‑tempered, and probably felt himself by intellect as well as by birth fitted for something better than to be the mere puppet of a barbarian. We have no hint as to the part taken by his daughter, in soothing or in exciting the combatants, but we can imagine that she let the middle-aged Patrician, her husband, see too plainly how vast she considered her condescension in becoming the wife of a barbarian. In 470 another event added fuel to the  p466 fire. The Emperor, who found his health failing him, believed that he was the victim of magical arts, and arrested many persons upon the charge of thus compassing his death. A certain Romanus, an adherent of Ricimer, himself bearing the title of Patrician as well as that of Master of the Army, was among the persons put to death on this accusation. Thereat Ricimer, in a fury, flung out of Rome and called to his standards 6000 men who had served under him in the Vandal war.58

Ricimer's head-quarters at Mediolanum. In the spring of the year 471​59 Ricimer was at Milan, surrounded, no doubt, by the Teutonic auxiliaries, and leaning perhaps somewhat on the aid of his brother-in‑law, the king of the Burgundians, who held all the northern passes of the Western Alps, since he ruled in Valais and Savoy, in Dauphiné and the Lower Valley of the Rhone. Anthemius was not at Ravenna, but in Rome, relying on the favour with which he was regarded by the populace of the City,​60 on the sympathies of the official class, and on the patriotism of whatsoever purely Roman and Italian elements might be left in the legions. Between these two men, all Italy perceived with horror that war was inevitable.

The Ligurian numbers interpose. Such being the state of things, the nobles of Liguria  p467 assembled at the palace of Ricimer, and adoring the Suevic Patrician with self-prostration, after the manner of the Orientals, besought him to consent to an accommodation with his father-in‑law. Ricimer was, or professed to be, mollified by their arguments. 'But whom will ye send as mediator?' said he; 'Who can bring this hot‑headed Galatian​61 prince to reason? If you ask him for the smallest favour he bubbles over with fury, and there is not a man living who can remain in a passion so long as he.' 'There is a person in this province,' said the nobles, 'to whom you may safely entrust this commission; a man to whom even wild beasts would bow their necks; a man whom a Catholic and a Roman must venerate, and whom even the little Greek Emperor cannot help loving if he is privileged to behold him.'​62 And then they proceeded to sketch the life and recount the virtues of Epiphanius, the saintly young Bishop of Pavia, in somewhat similar words possibly to those in which they are now recorded for us by his admiring disciple Ennodius, from whom we derive our knowledge of this incident.

Life of Epiphanius the chosen mediator. In the life of Epiphanius we meet of course with many incidents and traits of character common to a saint of that period of the Church. A supernatural light shone round his cradle when he was still busy with  p468 the rattle and the baby's-bottle.​63 On the strength of this omen he was at eight years old received into the Ministry of the Church as a Reader (lector), and before long distinguished himself by the rapidity and accuracy with which he practised the art of an ecclesiastical short-hand writer (exceptor). Ordained a Deacon at twenty, Priest at twenty-eight, and almost immediately afterwards elected Bishop of Pavia, he was already in his early manhood marked out for the veneration of his contemporaries. 'He knew not that he was a man,' says his biographer, 'except by his power of enduring toil; he forgot that he was in the flesh except when he meditated on his mortality.' No great miracles are recorded of his earlier years, but the saintly patience and dignity with which he, a young Ligurian of noble blood, endured the cudgelling administered to him by a rustic boor named Burco, who had a dispute with the Church of Pavia about boundaries, endeared him to his fellow-citizens, and enabled him to plead successfully for the life of his antagonist when the indignant populace clamoured for his execution. Altogether, though the robes of these ecclesiastical personages are beginning to fall stiffly, and though the fifth-century type of holiness lacks, to our thinking, the freshness of a true humanity, we cannot but feel that Epiphanius was one of those men to whom mere goodness gives a wonderful magnetic power over all who come in contact with them. His sweet and pure figure is a refreshing contrast to the wild passions and base treacheries with which his age is filled.

Mission of Epiphanius. Such was the man who, on the invitation of the Ligurians, with the assent of Ricimer, while greatly  p469 doubting his own sufficiency for the task, undertook the mission to Anthemius. When he reached Rome, all the officers of the household went forth to meet him without the gates. They brought him into the Imperial hall of audience, where the flash of gems and the sombre magnificence of the purple still, as in the mightiest days of the Empire, attested the presence of Augustus. But all eyes were fixed, not on the Emperor, but on the tall ecclesiastic, with brow of marble whiteness and delicately formed limbs,​64 who, sparing of words in his ordinary conversation, was about to speak on behalf of Italy and Peace.

Speech of Epiphanius to the Emperor. 'Dread sovereign!' he began, 'we recognise the hand of God in calling to the highest place in this commonwealth you who have shewn yourself a faithful adherent to the teaching of the Catholic faith, in permitting you to eclipse the triumphs of war by the triumphs of peace, and to restore the interrupted harmony of the Roman world. Be this still your glory, oh Emperor! Still blend gentleness with force, and thereby make your rule a copy of the heavenly kingdom.​65 Remember how David, by sparing King Saul when he was in his power, earned more glory than would have accrued from the most righteous vengeance. This is the request of Italy, this the message which Ricimer has entrusted to the mouth of my Littleness. Earn for yourself a bloodless victory, overcome even this proud Goth by your benefits. Or,  p470 if you are still in doubt, consider all the chances of war, war in which you may be defeated, and in which even victory must lessen the resources of your Empire, while by a peaceful compact with Ricimer you might have enjoyed them undiminished.'

He ended, and Anthemius, raising his eyes, saw that the hearts of all the by‑standers were won by the words of peace. Reply of Anthemius. With a deep sigh he said,

'Holy Bishop! The causes of my anger against Ricimer are such as cannot be fully set forth in words. I have loaded him with benefits; I have not even spared my own flesh and blood, but have given my daughter to this skin-clothed Goth,​66 an alliance which I cannot think upon without shame for myself, my family, and my kingship. But the more I have distinguished him with my gifts, the more bitterly has he become mine enemy. He has stirred up foreign nations to war against the Commonwealth; where he would not himself hurt, he has suggested to others schemes for hurting me. I myself believe that it is better to treat such a man as an open foe. To feel your enemy is the first step towards overcoming him, and anything is better than the machinations of secret hatred. But since you interpose your venerable office and your holy character as a pledge for his sincere desire for peace, be it so. I cannot resist anything which such a man as you pleads for. If your perceptions have been deceived, and if he still have war in his heart, on him shall rest the guilt of renewing  p471 the combat. I commit and commend myself and the commonwealth, whose pilot I am, entirely into your hands, and I grant to you the pardon which Ricimer himself should not have obtained, no, not if he had been grovelling in the dust before my feet.'

Return of Epiphanius to Liguria. The Bishop thanked God for having put these peaceful counsels into the heart of him whom he had chosen as the Vicar of his supreme power among men;​67 he then took a solemn oath from Anthemius to hold fast the newly re‑cemented alliance, and departed in all haste for Liguria. He travelled so rapidly, although his strength was reduced by a rigorous Lenten fast, that he returned to Pavia on the sixth day after he had quitted it, and the joyful shouts of the people surrounding his house, and learning from his own mouth the news of the ratified treaty of peace, were the first intimation to Ricimer that his messenger had quitted Rome.

The quarrel breaks out anew. However, this peace between the two rival Powers in the State was of short duration. Some expressions in the narrative would lead us to suppose that the position of Anthemius, at the time of the embassy, was slightly the stronger of the two, and that Ricimer showed his usual cunning in accepting the good offices of the Bishop. 472 Within fourteen months (possibly within two months) after the negotiations at Milan, we find the two parties again in arms against one another. Proclamation of Olybrius, April 472. Ricimer proclaimed Olybrius Emperor, thereby conciliating the support of the Vandal king, and perhaps neutralising the opposition of the friends of Anthemius at Constantinople, for Olybrius was also a Byzantine, and also  p472 allied to the Imperial family.​68 He marched to the outskirts of Rome and pitched his camp near a bridge over the Anio, probably the Ponte Salaro.​69 Within the walls opinion was divided, some even of the citizens ranging themselves on the side of Ricimer, though the majority no doubt adhered to Anthemius. For five months the siege lasted, Ricimer keeping a strict watch upon the upper and lower waters of the Tiber, and suffering no provisions to enter the city. The pressure of the famine was so great that (as Theophanes tells us) 'the soldiers were reduced to feed upon leather and other unusual articles of food.' Then an unexpected auxiliary appeared upon the scene.​70 'Bilimer, ruler of the Gauls' (we have no clue to the true character of this mysterious personage), 'hearing of the conspiracy against Anthemius, came to Rome earnestly desiring to give him assistance. He joined battle with Ricimer by the bridge of Hadrian (the bridge leading to the castle of S. Angelo) 'and was immediately overcome and slain. Death of Anthemius On his death Ricimer entered the city as conqueror, and slew Anthemius with the sword.' Another authority (Joannes Antiochenus) tells us that 'the followers of Anthemius opened the gates to the  p473 barbarians, leaving their master defenceless, that he mixed with the crowd of mendicants, and sought refuge at the tomb of the martyr Chrysogonus,​71 and being there discovered was instantly beheaded by Gundobad, the nephew​72 of Ricimer. He received a royal burial at the hands of his enemies.' Anthemius perished on the 11th July, 472; and of Ricimer. and only five weeks afterwards his turbulent son-in‑law followed him to the grave. On the 18th August, Ricimer, the Patrician, who had held supreme power in Italy for sixteen years, died of a sudden hemorrhage, and thus the stage was left clear for new actors. What they will make of the defence or extension of the Roman Empire we shall see in the following chapter.

The Author's Notes:

1 'Severus Romae imperavit annis quatuor: ibique religiosè vivens decessit' (Catalogus Imperatorum, ed. Roncalli).


'Auxerat Augustus naturae lege Severus

Divorum numerum.'

(Carm. II.317‑318.)

3 Holder-Egger (Neues Archiv, I.303, n. 1) pronounces without hesitation for the natural character of the death of Severus.

4 Obscure, but fitfully enlightened by the fragmentary information preserved by Priscus.

5 Marcellinus.

6 About the year 456, Marcian, as we are informed by Priscus, sent on this errand 'an ambassador named Bledas, a Bishop of Gaiseric's own sect (for it so happens that even the Vandals adhere to the religion of the Christians). This Bledas, when he found that his embassy was not going to be successful, took a bolder tone and said, "It will not turn out to your advantage, Gaiseric! if, puffed up by your present prosperity, you challenge the Eastern Emperor to war and refuse to give up the royal ladies." But neither his former blandishments nor his present threats availed to bring Gaiseric to reason, for he sent Bledas about his business and again despatched his forces to ravage Sicily and Italy' (Priscus, p216, ed. Bonn).

7 See p252.

8 Priscus (p156) is our authority for attributing so much importance to the hostile enterprises of Aegidius and Marcellinus.

9 Priscus (as quoted above).

10 This was the event which led to the quarrel between Clovis and one of his soldiers. 'Thus didst thou serve the vase of Soissons.'

11 The assignment of Spalato as the scene of the Court of Marcellinus is only a conjecture, but it seems probable that a ruler of Dalmatia would make that place his head-quarters.

12 Not to be confounded with the chronicler of that name.

13 By Suidas>, himself a late writer, but almost certainly here preserving in his Dictionary some scraps of contemporary tradition.

14 Cuspiniani Anon.: 'Rustico et Olybrio Coss. occisus est Beorgor Rex Alanorum Bergamo ad Pedem Montis VIII Idus Februarias.' Though Bergamo is in the district which we now call the Milanese, does not this description look like the beginning of the name Piedmont?

15 See vol. I p846.

16 Marcellinus, s. a. 471.

17 See p261.

18 Sidonius represents Anthemius as refusing the diadem and as not choosing to be indebted to his wife for the purple (Carm. II.210‑219), but it is quite possible that they were never offered to him.

19 This characteristic story rests directly upon nothing but the poor authority of Cedrenus (11th or 12th century). But it harmonises with the circumstances of the Byzantine court at this time, and it receives, I think, quite sufficient confirmation from the following passage of the contemporary historian Candidus (quoted by Photius, Bibliotheca Cod. LXXIX), 'He also speaks [at the beginning of Leo's reign] concerning Tatian and Vivianus, and how there was a dispute between Aspar and the Emperor concerning them, and what words they uttered to one another.' One may almost venture to assign the parts to the two rivals. Tatian, a trusted and orthodox counsellor (who presided at the Council of Chalcedon), is probably the Senator who was installed in the dead of night as prefect; Vivianus the disappointed competitor for this post, is soothed by being appointed consul in the year 463. The whole of this excerpt of Photius is of great value for the history of the Emperor Leo.

20 Joannes Lydus, who as an official had good means of ascertaining the facts, though he wrote in the following century, puts the expenditure on this expedition at 65,000 lbs. weight of gold and 700,000 lbs. of silver, say a little over £5,000,000 sterling. He quite confirms the view taken by Procopius as to the mismanagement of the expedition, and the ruinous result of its failure. He says Καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα πάντα ναυάγιον τῆς πολιτείας (De Magistratibus, III.43). Candidus, who is an even better authority than Joannes Lydus, says that the treasure collected for this expedition amounted to 47,000 lbs. weight of gold and 700,000 lbs. of silver, and that this was partly raised from the sale of confiscated estates, partly contributed by Anthemius.

21 Procopius, De Bello Vandalico, I.6.

22 Cedrenus.

23 Procopius, as quoted above.

24 Cassiodorus, s. a. 468.

25 Cuspiniani Anon. s. a.

26 Marcellinus, s. a. 468.

27 Presumably on the road to Ostia, and 'at a place called Brontotus,' says Cassiodorus. I have not found any other passage which throws light on this name.

28 The name of Alypia is mentioned by Joannes Antiochenus, frag. 209.

29 Ariadne begged her husband the Emperor Anastasius to bestow on this Anthemius the office of Praetorian Prefect, but he refused, with some anger, saying that it ought to be held only by men of letters (Joannes Lydus, De Magist. III.50).

30 Marcian married Leontia, daughter of the Emperor Leo. He was therefore brother-in‑law of Ariadne, and through her, of the Emperors Zeno and Anastasius (Evagrius, III.26).

31 See vol. I pp139‑160.

32 The embassy of Anthemius, which was before 405, is mentioned by Theodoret (de Vita Patrum, cap. 8), that of Procopius by Sidonius (Carm. II.75 et seq.) —

'Huic [Procopio] quondam juveni reparatio credita pacis

Assyriae: stupuit primis se Parthus in annis

Consilium non ferre senis' &c.

But I confess that I doubt whether Sidonius has not made a blunder between the grandfather and the father of his hero.

33 Or perhaps slain by the Huns and his corpse delivered to the Romans. 'Atque peregrino cecidit tua victima ferro' (Sidonius, Carm. II.298).

34 Sidonius, Ep. I.5 and 9.

35 This description of Ravenna was quoted in vol. I (p859).

36 'In medio undarum sitiebamus.' I need not quote the parallel passage from the 'Ancient Mariner.'

37 Sidonius himself speaks of the 'Cloacalis puls fossarum discursu lintrium ventilata.'

38 'Inter haec patuit et Roma conspectui: cujus mihi non solum formas, verum etiam naumachias videbar epotaturus' (Sidonius, Ep. I.5).

39 'Occupatissimam vacationem totius civitatis.'


'At tu circumflua ponto

Europae atque Asiae commissam carpis utrimque

Temperiem nam Bistonios Aquilonis hiatus

Proxima Chalcidici sensim tuba temperat Euri,' &c.

Carm. II.46‑49.

41 Carm. II.243‑269.

42 This is mere poetic generalisation. Of course the Vandals had had nothing to do with Caucasus. For their Alan confederates the reference is less incorrect.

43 Gaiseric.

44 Carm. II.346‑365.

45 σοφῶς.

46 A broad stripe on the tunic.

47 'Ad Sophos meum non modo laticlavi sed tribulium quoque fragor concitaretur' (Sidonius, Ep. I.9).

48 Sidonius' words are 'egit cum consule meo ut me praefectum faceret senatui suo.' But the Presidency of the Senate was one of the functions of the Praefectus Urbis.

49 See the 'Notitia Dignitatum in partibus Occidentis,' cap. IV, for a sketch of the duties of the Praefectus Urbis. See also vol. I p608.

50 Like the 'Pretium pone carnis humanae', which was shouted by the people in the Colosseum, in 410, when Attalus was Emperor.

Thayer's Note: Hodgkin, I.790.

51 This is inferred by his biographers from the letter to his wife, Papianilla, quoted above (p347), in which he speaks of himself as having achieved Patrician honours.

52 In the list of Prefects of the City from 254 to 354, published by Mommsen (Abhandlungen der Königl. Sächs. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, 1850, pp627‑630), there is one instance of the office being held for four years. A tenure of two years is the most frequent, one of three years is not uncommon. About forty-five Prefects in the century did not hold office for two consecutive years; but these more frequent changes generally coincide with periods of unsettlement and revolution in the Empire.

53 See the letter, quoted on p324, describing the visit to his house.


'Britannos super Ligerim sitos impugnari oportere'

(Sidonius, Ep. I.7.)

55 Possibly the dislocated relations of all the members of the Western Empire at this time might have afforded some precedents as a basis for this wild notion.

56 See vol. I p533.

57 Cassiodorus s. a. 469, 'Marcianus et Zeno. His conss. Arabundus imperium temptans jussum Anthemii exilio deportatur.' The old reading Ardaburius is no doubt rightly rejected by Mommsen.

58 Joannes Antiochenus, fr. 207; Cassiodorus, s. a. 470.

59 Or 472; but as Epiphanius returned from his embassy on the 14th day before Easter, as he was for the time successful and as Olybrius was raised to the throne by Ricimer in April, 472, it seems almost certain that we must refer the first outbreak of civil war and the mediation of Epiphanius to 471. Easter fell on the 16th of April in the year 472 (see 'l'Art de vérifier les Dates'). Tillemont assigns the embassy of Epiphanius to 469, but, I think, on insufficient grounds. It might be 470.

60 Joannes Antiochenus expressly saysº that 'on the side of Anthemius were ranged those in office and the people, and on that of Ricimer the multitude of his own barbarians.'

61 There is some sting in this word Galatian which we cannot explain. Possibly it is connected with the fact that the ancestral Procopius, who assumed the purple in the year 365, was 'in Ciliciâ natus et educatus' (Ammianus, XXVI.6.1), Cilicia and Galatia being provinces not far distant from one another.

62 'Est nobis persona nuper ad sacerdotium Ticinensis urbis adscita, cui et belluae rabidae colla submittunt . . . cui est vultus vitae similis, quem venerari possit quicunque, si est Catholicus et Romanus; amare certe, si videre mereatur, et Graeculus.'

63 'Dum esset in crepundiis lactentis infantiae.'

64 See the description of the personal appearance of Epiphanius in the beginning of the life by Ennodius.

65 'Supernae namque dominationis instar possidet, qui imperium suum pietate sublimat.'

'And earthly power doth then show likest God's

When Mercy seasons Justice.'

66 'Quis hoc namque veterum retro principum fecit unquam, ut inter munera quae pellito Getae dare necesse erat, pro quiete communi filia poneretur?' Of course the 'skin-clothed Goth' is a figure of speech. Probably the toga of Ricimer was as faultless as that of his father-in‑law.

67 'Princeps, quem ad instar superni dominatus vicarium suae potestatis voluit esse mortalibus.'

68 Paulus Diaconus (Hist. Romana, XV.3) makes Leo himself send Olybrius to Rome to wrest the crown from Anthemius. Perhaps the concurring testimonies of Theophanes and the Paschal Chronicle may be accepted as showing that this was the received version of the story at Constantinople.

69 There can be little doubt that the 'Pons Anicionis' of Paulus is equivalent to Pons Anienis.

70 Paulus, whose sources of information are here unusually good (see Neues Archiv, I.307), is our authority for this element in the story. He says also that from the famine which was raging in Rome two 'regions' were exempt in which Ricimer dwelt with his followers. Perhaps these were on the West of the Tiber.

71 The Basilica of Chrysogonus (one of the martyrs under Diocletian) stands in the Trastevere, about a quarter of a mile west of the Ponte Rotto.

72 Joannes says 'brother,' but this is an error.

Thayer's Note:

a Hodgkin will provide additional details on Theophanes in VII.415.

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