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Book IV
Chapter 2

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Italy and Her Invaders

Thomas Hodgkin

2nd edition
Oxford University Press

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 IV
Chapter 4

Book 4 (continued)

Vol. III
Chapter III

The Two Theodorics in Thrace


Sources: —

Our chief source for this chapter is Malchus (cir. 500) whose graphic touches make us continually regret that we have no longer the entire work, as it lay before Constantine Porphyrogenitus in the tenth century, when he made his Excerpts as to Embassies. I have quoted from Müller's edition (Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, vol. IV), as he arranges the fragments in a better order than that adopted in the Bonn edition. His order is that indicated in Köpke's 'Anfänge des Königthums' (pp155‑6, n. 3).

A little further information is supplied by Joannes Antiochenus (610‑650?), and by Eustathius (502) as quoted by Evagrius. Ennodius (Panegyric on Theodoric — about 510), Jordanes (552), and Procopius (550) describe Theodoric's negotiations with Zeno as to the Italian expedition.

Guides: —

Dahn, 'Könige der Germanen', Part II.67‑77 (especially helpful as to the relative position of the two Theodorics); and Köpke, 'Anfänge des Königthums bei den Gothen, pp148‑164. Bury, 'History of the Later Roman Empire;' and Brooks, 'The Emperor Zenon and the Isaurians' (see p69).

 p73  Chronology of the Early Life of Theodoric

Anno Aetatis A.D.
Born the day of Ostrogothic victory over Huns (possibly a year or two before the date here given) 454
 7 Sent as hostage to Emperor Leo at Constantinople 461
Remains at Byzantine ten years, till 471
17 Conquers Sarmatians and takes Singidunum (Belgrade) 471
20 Death of his father Theudemir and of Emperor Leo 474
23 Assists Zeno against Basiliscus 477
23 Patricius, Magister Militiae, adopted son of Emperor 477
24 Abortive campaign against Theodoricus Triarii 478
24 Coalition with him against Zeno 478
25 Theodoricus Triarii enters service of Emperor 479
25 Campaign of Theodoric the Amal in Epirus Nova. Revolt of Marcian 479
27 Attempt of Theodoricus Triarii against Constantinople. His death 481
28 Theodoric ravages the two Macedonias and Thessaly, and plunders Larissa 482
29 Magister Militiae Praesentalis 483
30 Consul. He assassinates Recitach 484
30 Sent against Illus and Leontius, but recalled 484
33 Ravages up to the gates of Constantinople. Burns Melantias. Returns to Nova whence he had set out 487
34 Starts for Italy 488

Theodoric's aims. Such as has been described in the last chapter was the wild welter of sedition, intrigue, religious rancour, military insubordination, imperial tyranny in which the young Ostrogoth was to spend the fourteen years following the death of his father and his own elevation to sole kingship over his people. What were his own aims? Confused and uncertain enough, doubtless; but they gradually grew clearer, and the clearer they became the more they drew him away from Byzantium. What did he require? First and foremost food for  p74 his people, who were suffering, as all the world was suffering, from that movement of nations in which they had borne so large a share; who had wandered from the Middle Danube to the Balkans, and had not yet found an unravaged land where they could dwell in plenty. For himself, he wanted, sometimes, a great place in the Roman official hierarchy, in the midst of that civilitas which, in his ten years of hostage-ship, he had learned to love so well. To be saluted as Illustris; to command the sumptuously clothed 'silentiaries' in the imperial palace; himself to wear the laticlave and take his seat in that most venerable assembly in the world, the Roman Senate; to stand beside Augustus when ambassadors from the ends of the earth came to prostrate themselves before him, — this was what seemed sometimes supremely to be desired. But then, again, there were times when he felt that the love and loyalty of his own yellow-haired barbarians were worth all the pomp and flatteries of the purple presence-chamber. He was himself by birth a king, ruler of a dwindled people, it was true, but still a king; an Amal sprung from the seed of gods, and with the blood of countless generations of kings coursing in his veins. Was such an one to wait obsequiously outside the purple veil; to deem it a high honour when the voice of the sensual poltroon who might happen to be the Augustus of the hour, and whom some woman's favour had raised from nothingness to the diadem, called him into 'the sacred presence'? No: the King of the Goths was greater than any Illustris of Byzantium. And yet how could he keep his kingship, how sway this mass of brave but stolid souls whose only trade was fighting, without  p75 putting himself at enmity with the Empire which, after all, he loved?

The two Theodorics. The perplexities of his position were not lessened by the fact that he was not the undisputed representative even of the Gothic nation in the eyes of the Eastern Romans. Over against him, the Amal king, stood another Theodoric the Goth, his senior in age, his inferior by birth, brought forward into notice by his connection with other barbarian chiefs, once all‑powerful at court, and regarded probably by the Byzantine statesmen as the foremost 'Scythian' in their land. This was Theodoric the before-mentioned son of Triarius, surnamed Strabo (the Squinter), nephew of the wife of the great Aspar, distantly connected by blood with the Ostrogothic king, but not belonging to the Amal line.​1 These two Theodorics cross and recross one another's paths like Una and Duessa in the 'Faery Queen.' By the Greek historians the older chieftain is generally spoken of as 'Theuderichus' simply, while the more nobly born is invariably called 'the son of Walamir.' This mistake, for such it must certainly have been, since the family historian​2 asserts him to have been the son of Theudemir, was probably due to the circumstances of his first introduction to the Byzantine Court. Walamir being then king of the Goths, this child, which was brought as a pledge of his fidelity, was known as the son of Walamir;  p76 and, that title once given him, the courtiers of Leo and Zeno were too supercilious or too careless to change it. With his own name and his father's name thus denied to him, and wavering, as he sometimes felt his own soul to waver, between the gorgeous bondage of the one career and the uncultured freedom of the other, he may well have sometimes doubted of his own identity. In order that we may be under no such confusion between the two leaders of the Goths, it will be well to drop the name which is common to both of them, for a while, and to call Theodoric son of Theudemir 'the Amal' and Theodoric Strabo 'the son of Triarius.'3

Theodoricus Triarii in revolt. Our first undoubted information as to the son of Triarius belongs to the later years of the Emperor Leo.​4 We may infer that ever since the fall of his great kinsman Aspar he had assumed, with his barbarians, an attitude of sullen opposition or of active hostility to the Empire. 473? At length it became necessary to send an embassy to ascertain what terms would purchase his friendship. For this mission Leo selected Pelagius the Silentiary, the same officer, doubtless, who seventeen years later was foully  p77 murdered by the dying Zeno. The son of Triarius received Pelagius courteously, and sent a return-embassy to Constantinople, expressing his willingness to live in friendship with the Romans, but claiming the concession of three points, — that the whole of Aspar's inheritance should be made over to him, that he should succeed to all his military commands, and that his people should have settlements assigned to them in Thrace. Only the confirmation of the nephew in the military rank of his uncle was Leo willing to concede, and accordingly the war went forward. The son of Triarius divided his fortunes, and attacked both Philippi and Arcadiopolis.​5 Against the first city he achieved no considerable success, but he pressed the blockade of the second so closely that the inhabitants, after feeding on horseflesh, and even on the corpses of their fellow-citizens, were compelled to surrender. Meanwhile, however, the Goths themselves were suffering all the miseries of famine. Food, not empire, was probably the prize for which many of these campaigns were planned. Peace arranged. And thus the high contracting parties came to an agreement, the terms being that the son of Triarius was to receive the highly honourable post of Magister Equitum et Peditum Praesentalis, and faithfully to serve the Emperor Leo against all his enemies, the Vandals only excepted; to receive for himself and followers a yearly subsidy of 2000 lbs. of gold (£80,000), and further to be recognised as king (αὐτοκράτορα) of the Goths, while the Emperor bound himself not to harbour any rebels against the  p78 new king's authority. This last clause possibly points to some growing tendency on the part of the Triarian Goths to enlist under the banners of his better-born rival, the true Amal king. It has been well remarked​6 that this proposal to accept a patent of Gothic royalty from the Roman Augustus distinctly indicates inferior ancestry, an absence of true royal descent on the part of the son of Triarius. With the kingship of Alaric, of Walamir, and of the young Theodoric, Roman emperors had had no concern. It was no doubt tacit­ly assumed that the Goths would find settlements in Thrace, and in consideration of their yearly subsidy would abstain from promiscuous raids upon their neighbours.

Threatening attitude of Theodoricus Triarii. The death of Leo and the proclamation of Zeno brought about a change in the attitude of the son of Triarius towards the Empire. The opposition was probably sharper between the Gothic party once headed by Aspar, and the Isaurians, then between any other two factions; and the son of Triarius may have speculated on the elevation of Basiliscus rather than Zeno to the vacant throne. At any rate he now threw off the mask, divested himself, we must suppose, of his dignity as Commander of the Household Troops, and advanced in a threatening attitude to the long wall which defended the Thracian Chersonese. Against him Zeno sent some troops under the command of Heraclius, son of Florus, a brave general, but harsh, unpopular, and destitute of forethought. In his over-confidence he stumbled apparently into some trap prepared for him by the barbarians, was defeated, and  p79 taken prisoner. The Emperor sent an embassy to the son of Triarius to arrange for the liberation of his general, whose ransom was fixed at 100 talents (£20,000). This sum, with delicate consideration for the feelings of the captive, Zeno ordered to be paid by the near relations of Heraclius, saying that if any one else (himself for instance) found the money, it would seem as if the great Heraclius was being bought and sold like a slave. The money was paid to the Goths, and an escort of barbarians was told off to escort him to the friendly shelter of Arcadiopolis. On the march, while Heraclius, who seems not to have been allowed the dignity of a horse, was walking along the road, one of the Goths smote him roughly on the shoulder. An attendant of the general returned the blow, and said, 'Fellow! remember what you are. Do you not know who it is that you have struck?' 'I know him quite well,' was the reply, 'and I know that he is going to perish miserably by my hand.' With that, he and his companions drew their swords, and one cut off the head of Heraclius, another his hands. What became of the ransom we are not told. The story is not creditable to the good faith or the humanity of the barbarians; but it was stated in explanation, though not in justification of the deed, that Heraclius had once ordered some soldiers serving under him, who had committed a trifling military offence, to be thrown into a dry well, and had then compelled their comrades to bury them under a shower of stones. It was the memory of this cruel deed which now cost him his life.7

 p80  Rebellion of Basiliscus, 475‑477. Instead of Heraclius, Illus was sent to prosecute the war against the Gothic mutineers: but soon the face of affairs was changed by the success of the conspiracy in favour of Basiliscus, which was in fact hatched at the head-quarters of Illus. Zeno was now a fugitive, Basiliscus was draped in the purple, and the son of Triarius resumed his place in the Court of Byzantium. He was, however, indignant at finding himself, the veteran and the representative of the great Aspar, constantly postponed to the young dandy Harmatius, 'a man who seemed to think about nothing but the dressing of his hair and other adornments of his person.'​8 Possibly this jealousy made him somewhat slack in upholding the tottering fortunes of Basiliscus. His namesake the Amal, on the other hand, co‑operated zealously with Illus and the other generals in bringing about the return of Zeno, who contrived to send messengers to him at his quarters at Novi asking for help.​9 A panegyrist of the great Theodoric​10 in his later years ascribed to him the sole glory of restoring the fugitive and helpless Emperor to his throne; but this no doubt is the exaggeration of a courtier.

Theodoric the Amal in favour at Court. The upshot of the whole matter is that in the year 478 we find the son of Triarius again outside the pale of the commonwealth, wandering probably up and down the passes of the Balkan, in a state of chronic hostility to the Empire, while his rival, the young  p81 Amal king, holds the dignities of Patrician and Magister Utriusque Militiae, dignities usually reserved for much older men,​11 and is, by some process in which Roman and barbarian ideas must have been strangely blended, adopted as the Emperor's son-in‑arms.​12 It is, however, a curious commentary on the double and doubtful position of the young Ostrogoth, that his duties as Magister Utriusque Militiae do not appear to have prevented him from continuing to reside with his people, in the Province of Scythia by the mouth of the Danube.

Embassy from Gothic foederati, 478. Soon after the restoration of Zeno to the throne, an embassy came to Constantinople from 'the Goths in Thrace allied with the Empire whom the Romans call foederati,' and who were evidently the bands under the command of the son of Triarius. This description, which we owe to the accurate pen of Malchus, is interesting as showing that the term foederati was still employed, that these wandering hordes, formidable as they were to the peaceful husbandman, were still nominally the allies of Rome. Nay, the word carries us back a hundred years to the time when Theodosius enlisted the disheartened fragments of the Gothic nation under his eagles, and perhaps permits us to see the son of Triarius the natural successor of the Ostrogothic chiefs, Alatheus and Saphrax.

 p82  Will the Emperor receive Theodoricus Triarii into favour? The request preferred by this embassy was that the Emperor would be pleased to be reconciled with their Theodoric, who wished for nothing better than to lead a quiet and peaceable life, and refrain from vexing the republic with his arms. On the other hand, they begged the Emperor to consider what harm Theodoric the Amal had done to the State, and how many cities he had destroyed when he too was in opposition. Let Zeno bury old grudges in the grave of Basiliscus, and only consider which cause was really most for the advantage of the Roman world.

Consultation with the Senate, On receiving this message the Emperor convoked a meeting of the Senate and desired the advice of that body as to his reply. The Senators answered that it was out of the question to think of taking both the Theodorics into his pay, inasmuch as the revenues, even now, scarcely sufficed to supply the regular soldiers with their rations. Which of the two the Emperor would select to honour with his friendship, was a matter for Augustus himself to decide. and with the army. He then called in to the palace all the common soldiers who were in the city and all the scholae (regiments of household troops); mounted the platform (suggestum),​13 from which a Roman imperator was accustomed to harangue his men; and delivered a long oration of invective against the son of Triarius. 'This man has always been the enemy of the Roman name. He has wandered, ravaging, through the plains of Thrace. He has joined in the cruel deeds of Harmatius, cutting off, like him, the hands of his captives,14  p83 and has frightened all the agricultural population from their homes. He exercised a disastrous influence on the commonwealth in the affair of Basiliscus, and persuaded that usurper to make away with his Roman troops, on the plea that the Goths would suffice for his defence. And now he sends an embassy, nominally to sue for peace, but really to demand the office of Magister. If you therefore have any opinion on these matters, utter it boldly, for, indeed, for this purpose have I summoned you into the place, knowing that that emperor is likely to succeed who calls his brave soldiers into his counsels.' War resolved on. The soldiers, seeing which way their advice was asked for, all shouted for war with the son of Triarius; and, after a short interval of hesitation, a defiant answer was returned to his ambassadors. Zeno's resentment against him was further increased by the fact of the discovery of the secret practices of three of the Gothic chief's adherents in the city. These men (one of whom was 'Anthemius the physician') had not only written letters to him themselves, but had forged others (if in truth they were forgeries) from men holding high office in the State, bidding the son of Triarius be of good heart since he had many well-wishers in the city. The  p84 three traitors were punished with stripes and exile, the sentence of death being commuted at the express request of the Emperor.

Theodoricus Triarii gets the best of it. War then, open war, was declared by Zeno on the Gothic foederati. It seems, however, soon to have suggested itself to the Emperor, that his Theodoric was every day growing weaker, while the son of Triarius was accumulating a larger and larger army; and he accordingly determined, if it were possible, to make peace with the latter on reasonable conditions. He sent therefore to offer him his own previous terms, restoration of his private property (including probably the estates of Aspar), a life unmolesting and unmolested, and the surrender of his son as a hostage for the fulfilment of this compact. But the books of the Sibyl were not now for sale at the same price as before. He would not send his son as a hostage, nor could he (so he said), now that he had collected so vast a force, live upon the estates which, carefully husbanded, might have sufficed for his previous wants. No! He would keep his men about him, till some great success, or some great catastrophe, had decided the quarrel between him and Zeno.

Imperial preparations. The Emperor therefore had no resourceº but to prosecute the war with vigour. The dioceses of Pontus, Asia, and the East (representing the whole of Asia Minor and Syria) were emptied of their legions, which came flocking to Constantinople. Waggons were procured for the transport of arms, draught oxen were bought, cornº and all other necessaries for a campaign were laid up in store, and the great Illus himself was expected to take the command.

 p85  Theodoric the Amal urged into action, For some reason or other, not Illus, but his brother-in‑law Martinianus, a much weaker man, was named general. As the imperial army, consisting probably of a number of discordant elements without cohesion or mutual reliance, was rapidly becoming disorganised under the nominal command of this man, Zeno determined to accelerate matters by urging the Amal into action. He sent him a pressing message, urging him to do some deed against the son of Triarius, which might show that he was not unworthily styled Magister of the Roman army. Theodoric however, who was no doubt aware of the recent attempt to resume negotiations with his rival, refused to stir until the Emperor and Senate had both bound themselves by a solemn oath to make no treaty with the son of Triarius. He then arranged a plan of campaign, which involved a march with all his forces from Marcianople (Shumla) to the Gates of the Balkan. There he was to be met by the Magister Militum of Thrace,​15 with 2000 cavalry and 10,000 heavy-armed soldiers. After crossing the Balkans he was also to be met in the valley of the Hebrus and near Hadrianople by 20,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry, troops being drawn, if necessary, from Heraclea​16 (on the sea of Marmora) and all the cities and garrisons near Constantinople.

and left unsupported. All these junctions of troops were promised: none of them were performed; and thus Theodoric, who punctually fulfilled his share of the bargain, found himself, after an exhausting march over the rugged  p86 Balkan country, with only his Goths, unsupported by the imperial troops, in presence of his enemy, who was encamped on the steep and unassailable cliff of Sondis.​17 A pitched battle was impossible; but skirmishes constantly took place between the soldiers of both armies, when engaged in getting fodder for their horses. Insulting words of Theodoricus Triarii. Every day, too, did the son of Triarius ride within earshot of his rival's camp, and pour forth a stream of insulting epithets on the head of 'that perjurer, that enemy and traitor to the whole Gothic race, Theodoric. Silly and conceited boy! He does not understand the disposition of the Romans, nor see through their design, which is to let the Goths tear one another to pieces, while they sit by and watch the game at their ease, sure of the real victory, whichever side is defeated. And we the while, turning our hands against our brethren, like the men who in that story of theirs sprang from the seed of Cadmus, are to be left few in number, an easy prey to the machinations of the Romans. Oh, son of Theudemir! Which of all the promises have they kept by which they lured you hither? Which of all their cities opened her gates to you and feasted your soldiers? They have enticed you to your own destruction, and the penalty of your rashness and stupidity will fall on the people whom you have betrayed.'

The Amal's troops insist on a coalition between the two Theodorics. These words, frequently repeated, produced their effect on the Amal's followers, who came to him, and said that indeed the adversary spoke reasonably, and that it was absurd for them to continue an internecine conflict with their kinsmen for the benefit of the  p87 common enemy. The son of Triarius, perceiving that his words were finding entrance, came next day to the crest of an overhanging hill, and thence shouted forth his upbraidings to Theodoric: 'Oh, scoundrel! why art thou thus leading my brethren to perdition? why hast thou made so many Gothic women widows? Where are now their husbands? What has become of all that abundance of good things which filled their waggons, when they first set forth from their homes to march under thy standard? Then did they own their two or three horses apiece. Now, without a horse, they must needs limp on foot through Thrace, following thee as if they were thy slaves. Yet they are free men, and of no worse lineage than thine. Ay! and the time hath been when these penniless wanderers would use a bushel to measure their aurei.' When the army heard these too truly taunting words, men and women alike came clamouring round the tent of Theodoric, 'Peace, Peace with our brethren! Else will we quit they standards, and take our own road to safety.' The king, who was truly head of a limited monarchy, recognising an expression of that popular voice to which he must defer, came down (doubtless with difficulty smothering his wrath) to the banks of the stream appointed for a conference, met and consulted with the man who had just been calling him a scoundrel and a boy, settled the conditions of peace, and then took and received a solemn oath, that there should be no war thenceforward between the son of Theudemir and the son of Triarius.

Joint embassy to the Emperor. The reconciled Gothic chiefs sent a joint embassy to the Emperor, demanding, on the part of the son of Triarius, the fulfilment of all promises made to him by  p88 Leo, the arrears of pay due for past years, and the restoration of his relatives [the family of Aspar] if still alive, if not, an oath concerning them from Illus, and any of the Isaurian chiefs to whose keeping they might have been consigned.​18 The claim of the Amal prince (mingled with complaints of the broken promises of the Emperor) was, that some district should be assigned him for a permanent dwelling-place, that rations of corn should be provided for his people till they could reap their own harvest, and that some of the imperial revenue officers, who were called Domestici, should be immediately sent to take account of (and no doubt to legalise) the re­quisitions which the Goths were then levying on the province. If this were not done, the Amal said, he could not prevent his men, famished and destitute, from supplying their needs in any way they could. This last request curiously illustrates Theodoric's desire not to sink into a mere chief of lawless plunderers, nor to make an irretrievable breach with the Roman civilitas.

Zeno's reply. To the son of Triarius, Zeno does not appear to have vouchsafed any reply. He answered the Amal's complaints with a wrangling 'Tu quoque:' 'You said nothing at first about requiring the help of imperial troops to beat your rival; that was an afterthought, when you had already made up your mind to negotiate with him, and you hoped to betray our soldiers into a snare. So, at least, our generals thought, and  p89 that was why they would not carry into effect the proposed combinations. Nevertheless, if you will even yet be faithful to our cause, and will vanquish the son of Triarius, you shall receive £40,000 in gold and £35,000 in silver, paid down, a yearly revenue of £6,000, and the daughter of Olybrius (sprung from the mighty Theodosius) or some other noble Byzantine damsel to wife.'

Zeno's vacillation. Though aided by high dignities bestowed on most of the Gothic emissaries, all these attempts to break the league between the two Theodorics proved fruitless, and the Emperor saw himself once more compelled to face the reality of war. He again called out his army and announced that he in person would share the hardships, and applaud the valour, of his soldiers. The announcement that, after a century of seclusion in his palace, the Roman Augustus was going to be once more, in the antique sense of the word, an Imperator, roused indescribable enthusiasm in the troops. The very men who had before paid large sums to the generals for exemption from military duty, now gladly paid for liberty to fight. The scouts who had been sent forward by the son of Triarius were taken prisoners: a portion of the Amal's guard, who had pressed forward to the Long Wall, were bravely repulsed by the soldiers who were guarding it. This was the outlook one day, and its shows us what immense recuperative energy yet lay in the Roman state-system, if only it had been guided by worthy hands. The next day, all was changed by the palace-bred sloth and cowardice of the Emperor. It was announced that Zeno would not go forth to the campaign. The soldiers heard the tidings with indignation.  p90 They gathered together in angry clusters, and began taunting one another with cowardice. 'Are you men?' they said; 'have you arms in your hands, and will you patiently endure such womanish softness, by which city after city has been sacrificed, and now the whole fair Empire of Rome is going to ruin, and every one who pleases may have a hack at it?' The temper of the troops was so mutinous that by the advice of Martinianus (himself, as has been said, an incompetent commander) they were ordered to disperse into winter quarters, the pretext being alleged that there was a prospect of peace with the son of Triarius. The dispersion was successfully effected, but, as they went, the soldiers growled over their own folly in quitting the neighbourhood of the capital before they had bestowed the purple on some man worthy to wear it and able to save the state.

He wins over Theodoricus Triarii and dissolves the coalition. However, if Zeno failed to exhibit the courage of the lion, he possessed, and could use with some success, the cunning of the fox. The hope of dissolving the Gothic coalition by intrigue proved to be not illusory. He had tried it before, at the wrong end, when he dangled his bribes and his heiresses before the eyes of the loyal-hearted son of Theudemir. He now sent his ambassadors to the son of Triarius, to see upon what terms he could buy peace with him. They arrived at a critical moment. Theodoric the Amal had swooped down on the fertile country at the foot of Rhodope, was carrying off flocks and herds, expelling or slaying the cultivators and wasting their substance. The son of Triarius watched with grim delight these proceedings of 'the friend of the Romans, the son of Augustus:' but at the same time  p91 professed to mourn that the punishment was falling on the guiltless peasants, not on Zeno or Verina, whose happiness could not be interfered with, though they were reduced to the extreme of misery. In this mood the ambassadors found him: but all his newly-kindled and virtuous indignation against the Court, as well as his recently professed horror of Goth warring against Goth, vanished before the splendour of their offers. The promise of regular pay and rations to 13,000 Goths to be chosen by himself, the command of two Scholae, the dignity of Magister Praesentalis,​19 the re‑grant of all the offices which he had held under Basiliscus, and the restitution of all his former property, these were the terms which detached the fervid German patriot from his young confederate. As for his relations (the family of Aspar) the Emperor returned a mysterious reply: 'If they were dead, it was of no use to say anything more about the subject; but if they were alive they too should receive their old possessions and go to dwell in some city which he would point out to them.'​20 The negotiation was finally ratified on these lines. Money was sent for distribution among the Triarian Goths, and their leader stepped into all the dignities which were previously held by the Amal, but of which the latter was now formally divested. In this 'triangular duel' each combination had now been tried. 'Zeno and the  p92 Amal against the son of Triarius' had given place to 'the two Theodorics against Zeno,' which in its turn was now replaced by 'Zeno and the son of Triarius against the Amal.'

Theodoric invades Macedonia. Of the immediate effect of the announcement of this combination on the Amal king we have no information. We find him, however, 479 early in the next year, exasperated by recent losses, bursting, an angry fugitive, into Macedonia, burning towns and killing garrisons without quarter. Stobi having been thus severely handled, he pressed on to Thessalonica. The inhabitants of that city, ever an excitable and suspicious people, conceived an idea that the Emperor and the Prefect meant to surrender them, unresisting, to the Barbarian. A kind of revolution took place in the city. The statues of Zeno were thrown down, and the mob were on the point of tearing the Prefect to pieces and setting his palace on fire. At the critical moment, the intervention of the clergy and of some of the most respected citizens averted these crimes. The populace, who were asked to confide the defence of their city to whom they would, took the keys of Thessalonica from the Prefect and handed them to the Archbishop, whose zeal against the Arian invaders they doubtless felt to be a sufficient guarantee for the tenacity of his defence. A civic guard was formed, a commander was chosen, and his orders were obeyed. In perusing the few lines which the Byzantine historian devotes to these events we might fancy ourselves to be reading the story of Paris in the early days of 'Madam Ligue.'

Another embassy from Zeno to the Amal. Meanwhile Zeno, finding himself not strong enough to crush Theodoric, determined at least to soothe him,  p93 and to avert, if possible, the conflagration of towns and the slaughter of garrisons. He sent an embassy (consisting of his relative Artemidorus and of a certain Phocas who had been his secretary when he himself filled the office of Magister Militum)​21 to remind Theodoric of past favours and dignities conferred upon him, a barbarian by birth, in full reliance on his loyalty. 'All these advantages he had lost, through no fault of the Emperor, by giving heed to the crafty suggestions of a man who was their common enemy. But let him at least, in order not to make his case more desperate, refrain from inflicting on the cities of a powerful nation such injuries as it would be impossible to forgive, and let him send an embassy to obtain from the goodness of the Emperor such requests as he could reasonably prefer.' Theodoric, whose own better instincts were ever on the side of civilisation, issued orders that his soldiers should abstain from conflagration and from needless bloodshed, though they were still to live at free-quarters in Macedonia. His messengers returned with the Emperor's ambassadors to Constantinople, and were graciously received there. He himself moved with his army to Heraclea.

Theodoric at Heraclea. This city, the Monastir of our own day, was situated on the great Egnatian Way, a little less than half‑way from Thessalonica on the Aegean to Dyrrhachium on the Adriatic. 'Built at the western edge of a noble plain, surrounded by the most exquisitely shaped hills, in a recess or bay formed by two very  p94 high mountains, between which magnificent snow-capped barriers is the pass to Akridha,'​22 and with one of the main branches of the Axius (Vardar) flowing through it, 'a broad and shifting torrent, crossed by numerous bridges,' the city has been for centuries, under Caesar and Sultan alike, a highly important centre of civil and military administration for the great plain of Macedonia. Of that plain, indeed, it does not strictly form a part, being raised as it were a step above it towards the central highlands, but the great chain of Scardus stretching behind it (to which belong the snow-capped barriers mentioned above) far more decisively separates it from the western regions, which were then known as Epirus and Illyria, now as Albania.

Illness of his sister. The rich presents of the bishop of Heraclea to Theodoric and his followers preserved that city at present from pillage. He made it his head-quarters, and was in fact detained there for a considerable time by the sickness of his sister, a sickness which in the end proved fatal. This fact illustrates the domestic aspect of the events which we are now following. It was not an army merely, it was an aggregation of families that was roaming over the regions of Thrace and Macedon, and suffering, too often, the hardships so insultingly pourtrayed by the son of Triarius.

Adamantius arrives with Zeno's offers. While Theodoric was at Heraclea the answer of Zeno arrived. Theodoric had urged that the ambassador should be a man of high rank and large powers, as he could not undertake to keep the masses  p95 of his followers from lawless pillage, if negotiations were unnecessarily protracted. In compliance with this request the Emperor selected as his ambassador, Adamantius the son of Vivianus, patrician, ex‑prefect of the city, and consul.​23 Adamantius was empowered to offer the Goths the district of Pantalia (a little south of Sardica, the modern Sofia) for their habitation, and a sum of £8000 as subsistence-money, till they reaped their first harvests in the new settlement. The Emperor's secret motive in selecting this region was, that the Amal would there act, to some extent, as a restraint on the son of Triarius (of whose precise location we are not informed), while, on the other hand, if he himself relapsed into disloyalty, he could be crushed by the converging forces of the Thracian and Illyrian provinces. Possibly Theodoric saw the imperial game: at any rate he was not eager to accept the Pantalian settlement.

Theodoric plans a campaign in Epirus. For, meanwhile, another idea had been ripening in his brain. Thrace, Moesia, Macedon, — all these districts were impoverished by the marching to and fro of Romans and Barbarians for the last hundred years. Why should he not cross those soaring Scardus ranges on the western horizon, descend upon the rich and flourishing cities of Epirus Nova, which (except perhaps in an occasional visit from Gaiseric) had not known an invader for centuries, and there, carving out a kingdom for himself, bring the long wanderings of the Ostrogoths to an end? Sidimund at Dyrrhachium. With this view he commenced a correspondence with Sidimund, a wealthy landowner near Dyrrhachium, who had formerly served in the imperial army, and, though a Goth, was supposed  p96 to be loyal to the Romans. This Sidimund was nephew of a certain Edwin​24 (with what pleasure do we come upon these true Teutonic names in the Byzantine historian's pages!), a man who had great influence with the empress-mother Verina, and had held the high office of captain of the Domestici. To him, then, Theodoric sent, reminding him of the tie of relation­ship which existed between them, and begging his help in obtaining possession of Dyrrhachium and the rest of Epirus, 'that he might thus end his long rovings, and having established himself in a city defended by walls, might there receive whatever Fortune should send him.' Sidimund, notwithstanding his presumed Philo-Romanism, elected to live under a ruler of his own nation rather than under the Emperor, and at once, repairing to Dyrrhachium, propounded to all his acquaintances the friendly counsels of panic. 'The barbarian was certainly coming among them: the Emperor acquiesced in his doing so: arrangements for that end were at that very moment being concerted with Adamantius. He would advise them, as a friend and neighbour, to use the short interval still left, in removing their families and most precious possessions to the shelter of some other city or some island, before the Goths were upon them.' By these suggestions, coupled with hints of the Emperor's displeasure, if the city were defended against his will, and judiciously aided by the continual fabrication of fresh and more alarming rumours, he persuaded not only the chief citizens, but even two  p97 thousand soldiers who were stationed there, to flock out of the city, and was soon able to send word to Theodoric inviting him to claim an unresisting prize.

He sets forth to cross Mount Scardus. The messenger arrived, just when the death of his sister had set Theodoric free to march from Heraclea. He called for a parley with the inhabitants of that city, who, notwithstanding the absence of outrages, had taken the alarm, and gone forth to a stronghold in the neighbourhood.​25 To these refugees he offered that he would withdraw with all his people from the town, if they would supply him with a considerable quantity of corn and wine as provision for the journey. They declined, saying that their own stores in so small a fortress were scanty; and Theodoric in a rage burned the greater part of Heraclea, all deserted as it was. He then set forth upon his westward journey over the wild and rugged Scardus Mountains, which none of the enemy had dreamed of his attempting to cross. A few Gothic horsemen, sent forward to secure the heights, struck such terror into the garrison of a fortress, erected probably on a shoulder of the snow-crowned Mount Peristeri​26 on purpose to guard the road, that they gave no thought to the defence of the position, but fled from it helter-skelter. Quite reassured as to the success of his expedition by this disgraceful cowardice, Theodoric marched on, with few or no precautions, in joyous boldness of heart, through the wild and lonely country which the Via Egnatia  p98 traverses in this part of its course. This was the order of march: Theodoric himself at the head, pushing cheerily forward, eager to see and to surprise the first city on the other side of the mountains; Soas, 'the greatest of all the generals under him,' in the centre; and Theudimund, brother of Theodoric, commanding the rear. It was no slight sign of the King's confidence in the Roman unwillingness to fight or to pursue, that he dared to give to the waggoners and the drivers of the beasts of burden, the signal to follow him into this rocky region, where, even against unencumbered troops, brave men might easily, in a hundred places, have 'made a new Thermopylae.'

Theodoric at Ochrida. Soon after crossing the highest part of the Scardus range (about 3000 feet high), Theodoric and his men came in sight of the broad expanse of what is now called the Lake of Ochrida,​27 larger than any other piece of water between the Danube and the Aegean. At its northern edge rose conspicuous from afar a steep and isolated cliff,​28 dominating the lake and all the surrounding country. Here, where now stands the castle of Ochrida, stood then the town and fortress of Lychnidus, unassailable by storm of armed men, and moreover well supplied with stores of corn, and with abundance of fountains springing up in its enclosure. At this place, therefore, the eagerness of the young Gothic chief was doomed to meet with disappointment. Even Roman soldiers of the fifth century could maintain such a post as this: and Lychnidus refused to surrender. Its garrison did not, however, attempt to bar his way, and when, descending into  p99 the valley of the rock-chafed Genusus, after two days' march he reached Scampae,​29 he found that city (the modern Elbassan) left bare of all inhabitants in the midst of its beautiful plain and rich olive-groves, a prey ready to his hand. A day and a‑half or two days more brought him to the shores of the Adriatic, half-islanded in whose blue waters, on its long and slender promontory, stood the main object of his quest, the usually rich and busy city of Dyrrhachium.

Past history of Dyrrhachium. Dyrrhachium, which our Greek historian insists on calling by its old name of Epidamnus, and which we know as Durazzo, is a city of many associations for the classical student. In the pages of Thucydides it figures as the cause, or pretext, of the Peloponnesian War. Caesar faithfully records the severe check which he met with before its walls,​a and which had well-nigh turned the current of the Civil War and changed the whole after-history of Europe. Owing to the shortness of the crossing between Brundisium and Dyrrhachium the Epirote town was a place familiar to the memory of many a Roman general setting forth to administer an Eastern province, of many a Greek man of letters, with his face set westward, coming to seek his fortune in Rome. As far as Theodoric is concerned, but little of historical interest is added by his connection with the town. Apparently, the discouraging counsels of Sigismundº had produced all their intended effect, and the place was already abandoned, for we are simply told that 'pushing on from Scampae he took Epidamnus.' But it may be allowable to conjecture that now, finding himself  p100 beside the waters of Hadria, knowing that he was within eighty miles of Apulia, and perhaps seeing the cloud-like form of Italy in the western horizon, he may then dreamed the dream, which became a reality when all that fair land from Alps to Aetna was his own.

Expostulations of Adamantius. When news of this unexpected turn in affairs reached Adamantius, who, as has been said, was especially charged with the conduct of the treaty with Theodoric, he sent one of the mounted messengers, who, being under the orders of the Magister Officiorum, were called Magistriani,​30 to expostulate with the Gothic king for resuming hostilities while negotiations were still pending. He entreated Theodoric not to take any further steps in the path of hostility to the Emperor; above all things not to fit out a naval expedition in the harbour of Dyrrhachium, but to send a trusty messenger who should assure him of a safe-conduct, going and returning, if he came in person to renew the conferences. In order to be nearer to the spot, he himself left Thessalonica and came westward, two days' journey,​31 along the Egnatian Way to Edessa.

Adamantius at Edessa. Edessa (now Vodena) has derived both its ancient and modern name​32 from the wealth of waters with which it is encircled. It stands on a curving shelf of rock, over­looking the whole wide plain of Lower  p101 Macedonia; and the river Lydias, dividing itself behind the city into several branches, comes foaming over this rocky screen in innumerable cascades, which remind a traveller, familiar with Italian scenery, of Tivoli.​33 Behind the city, tier on tier, rise three ranges of magnificent mountains, Scardus himself apparently dominating all. The fact that it commands the chief pass leading into these Macedonian highlands is no doubt the reason why the early Macedonian kings fixed their capital there; as it was also the reason why, in this awkward crisis of the Gothic campaign, Adamantius selected it as the scene of his council of war.

Conference with Sabinianus. At this council he met Sabinianus, a man, as we shall see, of somewhat peculiar and stubborn character, but who, as a skilful general and a firm disciplinarian, towered far above the dead level of inefficiency, reached by most of the commanders of that time.​34 He also met there Philoxenus, a Byzantine official of high rank, who had been employed in some of the earlier negotiations with Theodoric. After opening the imperial letters, appointing Sabinianus Magister Utriusque Militiae per Illyricum,​35 they proceeded to discuss the military position, which they found truly deplorable. Sabinianus had with him only a small  p102 band of soldiers, consisting chiefly of his own followers and dependants, while the bulk of the regular army, such as it was, was scattered through the cities of Thrace, or followed the banners of Onoulf, brother of Odovacar and murderer of Harmatius, who still held some high rank in the imperial service. They could only resolve to send notices of the appointment of Sabinianus in all directions, and summon the troops to his standard.

Negotiations for a conference with Theodoric. Meanwhile the horseman sent by Adamantius to Theodoric returned, bringing with him a Gothic priest who had been sent to ensure his safe passage through the barbarian ranks.​36 They took the priest with them, and at once proceeded to Lychnidus (Ochrida), which still held out for the Empire; and were met at the gates by the magistrates and chief citizens of that strong and wealthy city by the lake. Negotiations followed for an interview with Theodoric, who was asked either to come, himself, to some place in the neighbourhood of Lychnidus, or to allow Adamantius to visit him at Dyrrhachium, sending his lieutenant Soas and another eminent Goth, to be kept as pledges for the ambassador's safe return. The two Goths were sent, but ordered not to advance beyond Scampia (Elbassan) till Sabinianus should take a solemn oath that, on the return of Adamantius, they too should be dismissed safe and sound. This was indeed negotiating at arm's length, but no doubt Theodoric, during his  p103 ten years's residence at Byzantium, had learned how far it was safe to their to Roman honour. To this proposition, however, Sabinianus returned an answer, as to which we would gladly know whether it was a mere piece of contrariety, or whether it was founded on loyalty to the Teacher who said 'Swear not at all.' He declared that he had never in his life sworn about any matter, and would not now break a resolution of this kind, which he had formed long ago. Adamantius begged him to make some concession for the necessity of the times, and not to allow all the negotiations to collapse for want of those few words from him; but all that he would reply was, 'I know my duty, and shall not deviate from the rule which I have laid down for myself.'

Adamantius at the torrent's edge. Finding it impossible to overcome the scruples of this obstacle Non‑Juror, Adamantius, whose heart was set on fulfilling his mission, started at evening; and by a series of difficult mountain-paths, on which, it was said, no horse-hoof had yet trodden, he worked round to a steep hill over­looking Dyrrhachium, but separated from it by a precipitous ravine through which a deep river ran. Halting here, he sent messengers for Theodoric, who came with a few horsemen to the river's brink. Adamantius, having posted some men on the crown of the hill to prevent a surprise, came down to his side of the river. Theodoric dismissed his two attendants, and the two chiefs conversed with one another alone, the mountain torrent foaming and brawling between them. The Gothic King unfolded his complaints against the Roman Emperor, complaints which the Byzantine historian who records them considers well founded.

Complaints of Theodoric.

 p104  'I was willing enough,' said he, 'to dwell quietly outside the limits of Thrace, in my Moesian home, almost on the very confines of Scythia, obeying the Emperor and harming no man. Who brought me forth from my retirement, and insisted on my taking the field against the son of Triarius? The Emperor and his ministers. They promised that the Master of the Soldiery for Thrace should join me with an army: he never made his appearance. Then that Claudius, the steward of the Gothic funds, should meet me with the pay for my troops:​37 he, too, was invisible. Thirdly, the guides who were assigned to me, instead of taking the smooth and easy roads which would have brought me straight to the enemy's camp, led me up and down all sorts of break-neck places, where, if the enemy had attacked me, with all my long train of horses and waggons and camp furniture, I must inevitably have been destroyed. Thus brought at a disadvantage into the presence of our enemies, I was obliged to make peace with them. And in truth I owe them great thanks for having saved me alive, when owing to your treachery they might easily have annihilated me.'

Reply of Adamantius. Adamantius tried to answer these just complaints. He reminded Theodoric that he, when quite a young man, had received from the Emperor the dignities of Patrician and Magister Militum, dignities which  p105 were generally reserved for old and long-tried public servants. For these and many other favours he was indebted to the Emperor, whom he ought to look up to and reverence as a father.​38 His recent conduct, however, was quite intolerable. By the artifice of sham negotiations he had contrived to break out of Thrace, in which the Romans, had they been so minded, could easily have penned him up between the rivers and mountains by which that province was girdled, and had attacked the splendid and flourishing cities of Epirus. It was impossible for the Romans to abandon these cities to him, and equally impossible for him permanently to resist the Romans. Let him therefore go into Dardania,​39 where was a wide and pleasant and fertile country, absolutely longing for cultivators, and there see all his followers well nourished, while at the same time he lived in peace with the Empire.

Theodoric's rejoinder. Theodoric replied with a solemn asseveration that he himself would gladly accede to this proposition; but his army, worn out with long marches, must be allowed to repose for the winter in their present quarters. When spring came, he would be willing to deposit all his goods and all the non‑combatant population in some city to be indicated by the Emperor, to surrender his mother and sister as hostages of his fidelity, and then to march with all speed into Thrace, with 6000 of his bravest warriors. With these and the troops quartered in Illyricum and such  p106 other forces as the Emperor might please to send him, he would undertake to destroy every Goth in Thrace.​40 A strange promise certainly to be made by this, the ideal Teutonic hero. Of course, as his own followers were all now quartered in Epirus, this sweeping destruction was intended only for the bands which followed the son of Triarius; but even so, considering his recent alliance with that chief and the appeal to their common Gothic nationality on which that alliance had been based, one would be glad to think that the Byzantine historian had misreported the proposals of the son of Theudemir. The reward which he claimed for these services was that he should again receive his old office of Magister Militum, the insignia of which should be stripped off from the hated son of Triarius, and that he should be received into the capital, 'there to live as a citizen after the Roman fashion.'​41 A striking evidence this of Theodoric's genuine appreciation of that 'civilitas' which we shall hereafter find so persistently commended by his most famous minister.​42 An indication that his thoughts were already turning, if not yet with any steadiness of purpose, towards Italy, is furnished by a still more startling proposal, that if the Emperor would but give the word, he would march off into Dalmatia in order to restore the exiled Nepos — a kinsman, be it remembered, of Zeno — to the Western throne.

They part. To all these overtures Adamantius as yet could only reply, that he had no power to treat while Theodoric remained in Epirus. But let him abstain  p107 from offensive warfare, and all these matters should be laid before the Emperor for his decision. And thus they parted.

Signal disaster of the Goths. While these negotiations were proceeding between Adamantius and the Gothic King, the troops summoned to the standard of Sabinianus had been flocking in to the lake-mirrored fortress of Lychnidus, with an alacrity rare in those degenerate days. Word was brought to the Roman general that a large detachment of the barbarians was descending, in leisurely fashion, the Candavian range of hills which intervene between Dyrrhachium and Lychnidus. They were encumbered with baggage and a long train of waggons; and the rear of the army, commanded by Theudimund brother of Theodoric, had not yet reached the plain. To render the prize more tempting, it was stated that the mother of Theodoric and Theudimund was also with the rear-guard. The conscience of Sabinianus, too scrupulous to swear, could not resist the opportunity of striking so easy a blow, although the pending negotiations of Adamantius rendered such a course somewhat dishonourable. He sent a small body of infantry round over the mountains, with precise instructions when and where to attack the barbarians. He himself started after supper with the main body of his army, and fell upon the Goths at dawn. Surprised and panic-stricken, Theudimund fled with his mother into the plain, breaking down, as he went, a bridge by which they had crossed a very deep ravine. This precaution secured their own retreat, but prevented the escape of the rest of their countrymen. The latter at first, with the courage of despair, fought against the cavalry of Sabinianus.  p108 But when the other body of troops, the infantry who had been sent round, appeared over the crest of the mountain, there was no longer any hope of escape. Most of the Goths were cut to pieces, but more than 5000 were taken prisoners, the more nobly-born of whom were kept in ward, no doubt for the sake of their ransoms, while the rank and file were assigned as slaves to the soldiers, among whom also the booty was divided. Two thousand Gothic waggons fell into the hands of the Romans. Only a short time before, Sabinianus had issued re­quisitions on the Macedonian cities for a large number of those vehicles. These re­quisitions were at once countermanded, and indeed, after the wants of the army were fully supplied, so many waggons remained that the blaze of their burning soon lighted up the defiles of Mount Candavia, over which the general despaired of transporting them in safety.

Report to the Emperor. On the return of Sabinianus to Lychnidus, he found Adamantius there, having just come back from his mission to Theodoric. Each sent an account of his operations to the Emperor, Adamantius pleading for peace, Sabinianus magnifying his recent success and beseeching Zeno to make no peace with the barbarian, who might certainly now be driven out of the province, if not utterly crushed. The large boasts of the general told on the unstable mind of the Emperor, who decided that war was more honourable than peace, and directed Sabinianus to carry on uncompromising hostilities against Theodoric with all the troops that he could muster. For some unexpected reason there was associated with him in this commission a man named Gento, a Goth by birth, who  p109 had married a wealthy Roman lady of the province of Epirus, and who possessed considerable local influence.

The war to be continued. Adamantius, making a virtue of necessity, assembled the troops, addressed them in an eloquent harangue, praised their past valour, and exhorted them to a continued exercise of that peculiarly Roman quality, courage. He then read them the emperor's proclamation, and stimulated them with the usual promises of special imperial favour for such soldiers as should distinguish themselves by their zeal. He was welcomed with shouts of applause, and had the gratification of making a very successful oration. 'And so,' says Malchus, surely with a slight touch of scorn, 'Adamantius disappeared, not having done anything besides.'

The story left half‑told. From this point onwards we have no further information from Malchus concerning the history of Theodoric, and our most valuable spring of knowledge thus dries up at once. The excuse for narrating so minutely the events of a few months in the life of the Ostrogothic king must be that, for no other part of a life extending over seventy‑two years, and rich in momentous deeds, have we a history, for fulness, clearness, and vividness of colour, at all comparable to these fragments of the work of a Byzantine rhetorician fortunately preserved by the industry of a literary emperor. Compelled as we are to trace, by mere conjecture, the vague outlines of the history of Theodoric for the next nine years, 479‑488 we must conclude that for some reason or other his attempt to establish himself in Epirus proved a failure. Possibly he was too much weakened, and the provincials too much encouraged, by the battle of the Candavian Mountains,  p110 for him to maintain himself with force in the midst of a hostile population. Possibly also it was not altogether safe for him to relinquish entirely his communications with the Lower Danube, across which may have flowed the streams of Teutonic migration constantly refilling his wasted ranks.

Theodoricus Triarii and the revolt of Marcian, 479. The narrative returns for a brief space to his rival, the son of Triarius. At the time of the insurrection of Marcian (which occurred probably a few months after the Amal's invasion of Epirus), he marched with great alacrity to the gates of Constantinople.​43 It was easy to see, however, that this promptness proceeded from no exuberance of loyalty towards Zeno, but rather showed an inclination on the part of the Goth to fight for his own hand. The Emperor sent to thank him for his eagerness, but also to beg him to return without entering the city, lest he should awaken a fresh spasm of panic in the minds of the citizens, only just settling down after the exciting scenes of the Marcianic war. The son of Triarius replied, almost in the words of his namesake, that he himself would gladly comply with the Emperor's command; but his army was large and unruly and he feared that they would not obey the signal of retreat without tasting the pleasures of the capital. Privately, he reckoned not only on the feeble state of the fortifications, but yet more on the hatred of the mob of Constantinople to the Isaurian monopolisers of the favour of the Court, a hatred so intense that even the Goths might be welcomed as deliverers. The Emperor knew that this was his calculation, but knew  p111 also something of the desperation with which his countrymen would cling (as, ten years later, they did cling) to their hold of the capital. On all grounds, therefore, it was of the utmost importance to get the Gothic army quietly away from the gates. Pelagius the Silentiary (the same man who was afterwards sacrificed to the jealousy of the dying Emperor) was sent, with great sums of money for the son of Triarius and his followers, with promises of larger presents to come, and threats of the consequences of disobedience, to adjure them to depart from the city. The avarice inherent in the Gothic mind was roused by the actual sight of the dazzling hoards, and the mission of Pelagius was successful in inducing the barbarians to return. Not so, however, with the demand for the surrender of Procopius the brother of Marcian, and Busalbus his friend. To this request the warrior gave a positive denial, saying 'that he would obey the Emperor in all other matters, but it was not a righteous thing for the Goths, nor for any other else, to betray suppliants, who had fled to them for protection, into the hands of enemies who were thirsting for their blood.' The two refugees accordingly lived for some time under his protection, cultivating a small estate. Eventually, as we have seen, they made their escape to Rome.44

First mention of the Bulgarians. It is probably to this period that we must refer a statement made by Joannes Antiochenus that 'the trouble caused to the state by the pair of Theodorics​45 marching up and down and sacking the cities of Thrace compelled the Emperor to form an alliance  p112 with the Bulgarians, whose name then appears for the first time in history.' A Turanian people, possibly true Huns, without doubt one of the vast medley of tribes who thirty years before had followed the standards of Attila, the Bulgarians have, as is well known, in the course of centuries become thoroughly Slavonised, and now look to Russia, not to Turkestan, as the lode-star of their race. When the diplomatists of Europe, a few years ago, were revising the treaty of St. Stefano at Berlin, and discussing the respective claims of the big and the little Bulgaria, they were but working out the latest terms of an equation which was first stated amid the vexations that 'the pair of Theodorics' caused to the statesmen of Constantinople.

Theodoric the Amal and the Bulgarian king. Theodoric the Amal appears, at some such time as this, to have met the leader of the Bulgarians in single combat, to have wounded him, but not mortally, and to have forced his nation to submit to humbling conditions of peace.46

Theodoricus Triarii again in revolt, 481. Two years later (481) the son of Triarius, now apparently again in open enmity to Zeno, having obtained some successes against these Hunnish-Bulgarian allies of the Empire, drew near to the gates of Constantinople. He had all but succeeded in taking it, in which case perhaps the Eastern Empire would have survived her sister of the West only five years. But either the bravery of Illus,​47 or a cleverly fomented conspiracy among his own followers,​48 obtained  p113 for the capital a fortunate reprieve. The Goth moved across the harbour to Galata; made another attempt, which again failed; marched ten miles up the Bosporus, thinking to cross over into Bithynia; was worsted in a naval engagement, and then moved westwards into Thrace, meditating an expedition into the comparatively undevastated regions of Greece. He rode at the head of thirty thousand Goths; and his wife Sigilda, his two brothers, and his son Recitach accompanied him. We see that in his case, as in that of the other Theodoric, of Alaric, and no doubt of many another Teutonic chieftain, the march of the general meant also the migration of his family.

Death of Theodoricus Triarii. Moving along the Egnatian Way, they had reached a place on the Thracian coast more than 200 miles from Constantinople, which, in memory of that savage Thracian king who in the days of Hercules used to feed his horses on human flesh, still bore the name of The Stables of Diomed. Here the chief, one day wishing to take some exercise, ordered his horse to be brought to his tent-door. In those days, before the invention of stirrups, a Roman noble generally mounted with the assistance of a groom.​49 The son of Triarius, however, though probably past middle life, disdained such effeminate habits, and always vaulted to his seat unaided. The time, however, before he was fairly astride of his horse, the creature, which was wild and mettlesome, reared up in the air and danced about on his hind legs.​50 Theodoric tried to get the  p114 mastery of the horse, but did not dare to grasp the bridle lest he should pull it over upon him. Rider and horse, thus swaying backwards and forwards, came up to the tent-door, before which a spear with a throng fitted to it was hanging, in the fashion of the barbarians. Jostled by his unruly steed against the spear, the chief was pierced by it in his side and forced to dismount. He took to his bed, and soon after died of the wound. Henceforward the undisputed right to the name Theodoric passes over to his Amal rival.51

Dissensions in his family. Sigilda, wife of the dead chief, buried her husband by night. Dissensions broke out in his family. His two brothers tried to grasp the leader­ship and to oust his son, relying perhaps in part on a rumour which strangely obtained currency, that the death which has been so minutely described was, after all, not accidental, but that Recitach, indignant at having received personal chastisement from his father, had repaid the insult by parricide. The lad, however, bided his time. Before long he deprived his uncles of life, and grasped the leader­ship of the thirty thousand followers of his father — a leader­ship which he employed to inflict yet more cruel sufferings on the provincials of Thrace than those which they had endured at his father's hands.52

Recitach his son slain by Theodoric. After this he must have been reconciled to the Empire (there is a wearisome inconsistency both in the friendships and the enmities of these guerilla chiefs),  p115 for the last information that we have concerning him is that the Emperor Zeno, perceiving that Recitach was becoming disaffected through envy of Theodoric, ordered the Gothic king to destroy him, which he accordingly did, 'although Recitach was his cousin, having an old grudge against him because of the murder of his –––––' (A defect in the MS. leaves us in doubt as to the nature of this old grievance.) Theodoric fulfilled the bloody commission by piercing his young rival under the fifth rib when he was on his way from the bath to the banquet.​53 The murder of Recitach is one of the few blots on the generally fair fame of Theodoric.

Theodoric vibrates between peace and war with the Empire, 481‑487. By the extinction of the house of Triarius, the Amal became the undisputed head of the Gothic nation in the Eastern peninsula. Thirty thousand men were added to his army, but these implied more than thirty thousand mouths for which he must find provisions. It was impossible for him, at the head of his roving bands of hungry warriors, to settle down into an orderly, hard-working magister militum in Thrace. For six years following the death of his elder rival, he vibrated to and fro with apparent absence of purpose between Romanism — using the word in a political sense — and barbarianism. In 482 he laid waste the two Macedonias and Thessaly, and plundered Larissa the capital of the latter province. In 483, 'being almost appeased by the munificence of the Emperor Zeno' (says Count Marcellinus, nearly our only authority here), 'and being made Magister Militiae Praesentis and designated as Consul for the  p116 next year, he and his satellites kept for the time within bounds in the portion of Dacia Ripensis and Lower Moesia which had been allotted to him.' His head-quarters appear to have been Novae,​54 on the Lower Danube. It is noteworthy that he was here within fifty miles of Nicopolis, the town which, 130 years before, had formed the centre of the settlement of the Lesser Goths who followed the guidance of 'their Moses,' the pure-souled and pious Ulfilas. Probably this portion of Moesia had never ceased to be strongly Gothic in the character of its population.

Theodoric Consul, 484. The next year (484) saw him in the full glory of Consul Ordinarius, wearing the toga, doubtless with the peculiar Gabine cincture which marked the Consulate, giving his name to the year, and liberating a slave by a stroke on the day of his inauguration. There are indications that now, at any rate, if not in the previous year, he took up his abode in Constantinople, and that his enjoyment of the pomps and luxuries of the capital, while his followers were suffering the pangs of hunger in their Danubian settlement, was not viewed with approbation by the Goths. They felt the contrast all the more keenly, since his authority, as became a consul and a magister militum, was strenuously exerted to check their old habits of plunder.55

Revolt of Illus. It was in the year of Theodoric's consul­ship that he soiled his hands with the blood of his kinsman Recitach, and received the adhesion of his followers. It was in the same year that the revolt of Illus broke out. Theodoric was at first ordered to march for its suppression, but he had not proceeded further than  p117 Nicomedia in Bithynia, when the timid and suspicious Zeno recalled him and his Goths, and committed the imperial cause to the champion­ship of his strange allies from the middle Danube, the Rugians, under the command of a son of Aspar. This evidence of distrust no doubt alienated the high-mettled Gothic king. 486 In 486 he broke out into open revolt and ravaged a part of Thrace;​56 487 and in the following year with a large army (swollen no doubt by all the Triarian Goths) Theodoric at the gates of Constantinople. he came up to the very gates of Constantinople, and took the town of Melantias on the Sea of Marmora and only fourteen miles from the capital.​57 He found himself, like countless other generals before and after him, unable to take the city of Constantine; but, before he returned to his head-quarters at Novae, the citizens saw the flames ascending from many towns and villages, and knew that they were kindled by the followers of the man who but three years before had ridden through their streets as a Roman Consul.

This endless vacillation between friendship and enmity to Rome was an unfruitful and unstatesmanlike policy; and we may be sure that Theodoric recognised the fact as clearly as any one. But the time was now ripe for the execution of another project, which would find full employment for all the warlike energies of his people, and which, if it succeeded, would give him a fixed and definite position among the rulers of the earth, and would exempt him from the necessity of marching up and down through the thrice-harried Thracian plains, to extort from the  p118 wretched provincials food for his almost equally wretched followers.

Scheme for the invasion of Italy (Gothic version). The scheme shall first be told in the words of Jordanes, who without doubt is here quoting from Cassiodorus, the friend and minister of Theodoric:

'Meanwhile Theodoric, who was bound by covenant to the Empire of Zeno, hearing that his nation, abiding as we have said in Illyricum [?], were not too well supplied with the necessaries of life while he was enjoying all the good things of the capital, and choosing rather, after the old manner of his race, to seek food by labour than to enjoy in luxurious idleness the fatness of the Roman realm while his people were living in hardship, made up his mind and spoke thus to the Emperor: "Though nothing is wanting to me for my service to your Empire, nevertheless, if Your Piety think fit, I pray you to hear freely the desire of my heart." Then, as was wont, leave was granted him to speak without reserve. "The Hesperian clime," said he, 'which was formerly subject to the rule of your predecessors, and that city which was once the capital and mistress of the world, — why should they now be tossed to and fro under the usurped authority of a king of Rugians and Turcilingians? Send me thither, if it please you, with my people, that you may be relieved from the expense which we cause you here, and that there, if by the Lord's help I conquer, the fame of Your Piety may beam brightly forth. For it is fitting that I, your son and servant, if victorious, should hold that kingdom as your gift; but it is not fitting that he, whom you know not, should press his tyrannical yoke upon your Senate, and that a part of the Roman Republic should  p119 languish in the bondage of captivity under him. In brief, if I conquer, I shall possess the land as of your gift and by your grant: if I am conquered, Your Piety will lose nothing, but rather than, as before said, will save the heavy charges which we now bring upon you." On hearing this speech the Emperor, though sorry to part with Theodoric, yet not wishing to sadden him by a refusal, granted what he desired; and, after enriching him with great gifts, dismissed him from his presence, commending to his protection the Senate and People of Rome.'

Byzantine version. This is account of the transaction given by Jordanes. The Byzantine authorities put a slightly different colour upon it. Procopius says,

'The Emperor Zeno, a man skilful in expedients of a temporary kind,​58 exhorted Theodoric to march to Italy, and entering the lists against Odoacer, to win the Western Kingdom for himself and the Goths. He showed him that it was better for him, now especially that he had attained the dignity of Senator, by the overthrow of a tyrant to obtain the rule over all the Romans and Italians, than, by continuing the struggle with the Emperor, to run so many risks as he must do. Theodoric then, being pleased with the bargain, departed for Italy;'

and so on.

The author who generally goes by the name of Anonymus Valesii, and who clearly writes from Byzantine sources and with a particular regard for the Emperor Zeno, says,

'Zeno therefore rewarded Theodoric with his favours, making him Patrician and  p120 Consul, bestowing on him a large sum and sending him to Italy. With whom Theodoric made a bargain that, if Odoachar should be conquered, he should reign in his stead as a reward for all his labours, but only until he [Zeno] should arrive [in Italy].'​59

Both partly true. There is evidently a certain conflict of testimony as to the quarter from which the idea of a Gothic invasion of Italy first proceeded. Odovacar, as we shall see, had made himself obnoxious both to the Byzantine and the Goth. Theodoric's prolonged stay in the Danubian regions was a perpetual menace to Constantinople; and, whatever Jordanes may feign as to the Emperor's sorrow in parting with his adopted son, Zeno certainly desired few things more earnestly than that he might never see his face again; and Theodoric knew this. When matters have reached this point, when the guest has over-stayed his welcome, and both he and the host are keenly conscious of the fact, it may be difficult to say which first gives the signal for departure; and perhaps the means of escape from a position which each finds intolerable, may present itself simultaneously to both by a process of 'double independent discovery.' Only, in the idea of leading his nation away from the shores of the Danube, haunted by them for a hundred weary years, descending the Alps into Italy and founding an Ostrogothic kingdom on 'the Hesperian shore,' there is a touch of genius which disposes one to look for its conception, rather to the bright and vigorous young Amal king than to the tired brain of the imperial voluptuary.

 p121  What were the rights of Theodoric and the Emperor? More important than the question of priority of invention between Zeno and Theodoric is the uncertainty in which the rights of the contracting parties were, no doubt intentionally, left. The Goth asks the Emperor's leave to invade Italy. If Italy was recognised as permanently lost to the Roman Empire, if it was like Dacia or Britain, why was this leave necessary? He says that he will hold the new kingdom as his adoptive father's gift. Did that gift fasten any responsibilities to the receiver? Did it entitle the giver to be consulted in the subsequent disposal of the crown? Was it, to borrow an illustration from English law, like a gift 'for life,' or 'to him and the heirs of his body,' or 'to him and heirs general'? In feudal times a transaction such as this could hardly have taken place without the creation of a fief; but it is some centuries too soon as yet to talk of fiefs and vassals of the Empire.

All that we can say, apparently, is that Theodoric was despatched on his hazardous expedition with the imperial approval; that the future relations between the parties were left to accident to determine; but that there was, underlying the whole conversation, a recognition of the fact that Italy and Rome still formed part of the Respublica Romana; and out of this fact would spring claims which any Imperator, who was strong enough to do so, was certain to enforce.

Before we follow the march of Theodoric and his Goths across the mountains we must first consult our meagre authorities to ascertain what Odovacar has been doing during the thirteen years that he has been undisputed lord of Italy.

The Author's Notes:

1 The statement that there was relation­ship between the two Theodorics rest only on the authority of Joannes Antiochenus, who says that Theodoric the Amal was ἀνεψιὸς τοῦ Ῥεκιτάχ, the latter being a son of Theodoric Strabo. On the other hand, Jordanes distinctly says of the latter that he was 'alia stirpe, non Amala procreatus;' De Reb. Get. LII.

2 Cassiodorus.

3 If I followed the example of Tillemont, I should call him 'the Squinter.' The phrase Le Louche haunts with its ugly presence many pages of his Life of Zeno.

4 Jordanes, as we have already seen, carries back the prosperity of Theodorics Triarii (and the Amal jealousy of him) to the war preceding the surrender of the child Theodoric as a hostage (461‑2); but we must not place too much dependence on the accuracy of Jordanes on such a point as this. These are his words (De Reb. Get. LII): 'Missa legatione ad imperatorem Valamir ejusque Germani . . . vident Theodericum Triarii filium . . . omnino florentem cum suis, Romanorumque amicitiis junctum et annua solennia consequentem et se tantum despici.'

5 Tillemont places Arcadiopolis 'between Constantinople and Hadrianople.' I have not found any more exact description of the site.

6 By Köpke (Anfänge der Königthums, p154) and Dahn (Könige der Germanen, II.69).

7 Malchus, fr. 4 and 5 (ap. Müller), combined with Joannes Antiochenus, fr. 210.

8 Malchus, fr. 8, apud Müller.

9 Anon. Valesii, 9: 'Zeno confortans Isauros intra provinciam, deinde misit ad civitatem Novam ubi erat Theodoricus, dux Gothorum, filius Walameris, et eum invitavit in solacium sibi adversus Basiliscum.

10 Ennodius (Panegyricus, p168, ed. Migne).

11 Malchus (ap. Müller, p129). The precise character of Theodoric's military rank is a matter of conjecture.

12 'Et post aliquod tempus ad ampliandum honorem ejus in arma sibi eum filium adoptavit' (Jord. De Reb. Get. LVII). The date is doubtful, but the words of Malchus, ἀνθ’ ὧν ἔδει μηδέποτε πρὸς αὐτὸν ἄλλως πως ἢ πρὸς πατέρα φρονεῖν τε καὶ διατίθεσθαι, seem to refer to the same ceremony, and if so, would fix it to this period.

13 βῆμα is the word used by Malchus. No doubt the kind of structure from which Trajan is represented in the Column as addressing his soldiers is intended by the historian.

14 This is how Gibbon, following the Latin version, translates the passage χεῖράς τε ἀποτέμνων ἅμα τῷ Ἁρματίῳ. In Smith's edition this translation is rebuked and 'cutting off the hands of Harmatius' is proposed instead. But the old interpretation seems to me allowable and the more probable of the two. In fact it is rendered almost certain by the statement of Suidas (also perhaps extracted from Malchus) concerning Harmatius: Ἐπὶ γὰρ Λέοντος πρὸς τοὺς στασιάζοντας, ὅσους λάβοι τῶν Θρᾳκῶν, τὰς χεῖρας ἐκτέμνων ἀπέπεμπε. But it is possible that Ἁρματίῳ is a mistake for Ἡρακλείῳ (see p79).

15 So, on the authority of the Notitia Orientis, cap. vii, I would translate ὁ στρατηγὸς τῆς Θρᾴκης. There was no 'Dux Thraciae.'

16 Not Heraclea in Macedonia (Monastir) as stated in the first edition. See Bury, I.265.

17 Situation unknown. Manso's conjecture, 'Succi,' does not meet with approval.

18 Εἰ δὲ καὶ ἄρα τεθνήκασι, τὸν Ἰλλοῦν περὶ τούτων ἐπομόσαι καὶ ἄλλους, οἷς αὐτὸς ἐπὶ τούτων τῶν Ἰσαύρων πιστεύει. What could be the object of asking for such an oath? Was it in order to furnish legal proof of their death, and enable the son of Triarius to enter on their inheritance?

19 Either Equitum or Peditum.

20 Is it possible that these men, like so many others who had provoked the resentment of the Isaurian party, had been sent under the care of Illus to some stronghold in the Asiatic highlands, and that Zeno himself did not know what had become of them?

21 Ἀρτεμίδωρον πέμπει καὶ Φωκᾶν τὸν ὅτε ἧν στρατηγὸς γραμματέα αὐτῷ τῆς ἀρχῆς ὄντα. We get the fact of the relation­ship between Artemidorus and Zeno from Cassiodorus, Var. I.43.

22 Lear (Journals of a Landscape-painter in Albania, p51). This book and Tozer's 'Highlands of Turkey' furnish many interesting pictures of the cities on the Egnatian Way.

23 I.e. 'Consul Suffectus.' His name is not in the Fasti.

24 Ἀνεψιὸς δὲ ἧν οὖτος Αἰδοΐγγου, Βηρίνης τε μάλιστα ὄντος οἰκειοτάτου καὶ τὴν τῷ λεγομένων δομεστίκων ἀρχὴν ἄρχοντος, μεγάλην τινὰ οὖσαν τῶν περὶ βασιλέα.

25 Was this on the same site where now stands the monastery of Bukova 'several hundred feet above the town' which gives Monastir its modern name? (Tozer, I.170.)

26 This being the mountain which commands the immediate neighbourhood of Monastir (Tozer, I.183.)

27 Or Akhrida.

28 Which Lear compares to the castle-rock of Nice.

29 Or Scampia, whence probably Scumbi, the modern name of the Genusus.

30 Joannes Lydus, who belonged to the rival department of the Praetorian Prefect, pours forth all his gall on 'the pretentious and inane verbosity of the so‑called Magistriani' (ἡ τῶν λεγομένων μαγιστριανῶν κομποφακελλορρημοσύνη); De Magist. III.7.

31 Sixteen hours according to Tozer (II.365).

32 Edessa from bedu, Phrygian for water; Vodena from voda, Slavonic for the same (Tozer, I.157).

33 Lear, p38.

34 'Sabinianus Magnus Illyricianae utriusque militiae ductor creatus, curiam fragilem, collapsum justum Reipublicae censum, vel praepaventem fovit, vel dependentem tutatus est. Disciplinae praeterea militaris ita optimus institutor coercitorque fuit, ut priscis Romanorum ductoribus comparetur. Theodoricum idem Sabinianus regem apud Graeciam debacchantem, ingenio magis quam virtute deterruit.' Marcellinus Comes, s. a. 479.

35 Marcellinus (see above).

36 'Having with him a priest (ἱερέα) of the barbarians whom the Christians call presbyter (πρεσβύτερον).' Photius says that Malchus was 'not outside the Christian religion' (οὐκ ἔξω τοῦ χριστιανικοῦ θιάσου). But it is not easy to understand why any writer, whether Christian or heathen, should think it needful to explain such very obvious words as these.

37 This I presume must be the translation of ἔπειτα καὶ Κλαύδιον τὸν τοῦ Γοτθικοῦ ταμίαν σὺν τῷ ξενικῷ ἥξειν. The 'Gothicum' (somewhat like our Danegeld) must be a fund specially set apart from buying off Gothic depredations: the 'Xenicum' the pay of foreign mercenaries, as distinguished from that of the Roman legionaries.

38 Probably an allusion to Theodoric's adoption as son-in‑arms by Zeno.

39 A district near the modern Sofia, practically equivalent to the previously offered Pantalia.

40 Τοὺς ἐν τῇ Θρᾴκῃ Γότθους ἀναλώσειν ἅπαντας.

41 Καὶ εἰσδεχθῆναι εἰς τὴν πόλιν τὸν Ῥωμαϊκὸν πολιτεύσοντα τρόπον.

42 Cassiodorus.

43 Marcellinus Comes says that he came to Anaplus, at the fourth milestone from the city.

44 Malchus apud Müller, IV.131.

45 Ἡ τῶν Θευδερίχων συζυγία (Jo. Ant. ap. Müller, IV.619).

46 This appears to be the meaning of an obscure and windy paragraph in Ennodius' Panegyric on Theodoric (Migne's Patrologia, LXIII.171).

47 This is the cause alleged by Joan Ant. (p619).

48 This is the account of Evagrius, III.25.

49 Ἀναβολεύς, strator. It was in this capacity that the haughty Persian king, Sapor, made use of the captive emperor Valerian.

50 Ὁ δὲ (ἵππος) ἀγελαῖός τις ὢν καὶ ὑβριστὴς . . . μετεωρίζει τῷ πρόσθε ποδί, τῷ ὀπισθίῳ μόνῳ ἀκροβατῶν. Even the Greek words suggest the idea of a horse in a circus.

51 The death of Theodoric is described with great minuteness by Evagrius (probably quoting from Eustathius), III.25. The above account is taken almost verbatim from him.

52 Joannes Antiochenus, pp619‑620.

53 'In the suburb called Bonifaciana' (Jo. Ant. 620). I have not been able to identify this.

54 Sistova? or Novograd?

55 Historia Miscella, XV.14.

56 Joannes Antiochenus, p621.

57 Marcellinus Comes, s. a.

58 It is difficult to translate τὰ παρόντα εὖ τίθεσθαι ἐπιστάμενος without seeming to convey more blame than Procopius perhaps intended.

59 'Cui Theodoricus pactuatus est, ut, si victus fuisset Odoachar, pro merito laborum suorum loco ejus, dum adveniret tantum, praeregnaret.'

Thayer's Note: Anon. Vales. II.11 (49).

Thayer's Note:

a Half of Book III of Caesar's Civil Wars is given over to the fight against Pompey in and around Dyrrhachium; Caesar's final retreat is told in III.63.

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