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Book V
Chapter 3

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 V
Chapter 5

Book V (continued)

Vol. IV
Chapter IV

Belisarius in Rome


Sources: —

Procopius De Bello Gotthico, I.14‑15.

For ecclesiastical history, Liberatus, cap. xxi, and the so‑called Anastasius Bibliothecarius in his life of Pope Agapetus (apud Muratori, III.128). It is convenient to use the name of this, the reputed author of the Liber Pontificalis, who died about 886. He seems, however, to be really responsible, even as compiler, only for some of the later portion of the book. The lives of the several Popes, at any rate at the point which we have now reached, were probably composed by various, and for the most part contemporary, biographers. (In this edition I follow the chronology of Abbé Duchesne, the latest and incomparably the best editor of the Liber Pontificalis.)

Guides: —

For ecclesiastical events, Milman's History of Latin Christianity and Bower's History of the Popes (1750). This last book is far too bitter and polemical in its plaidoyerie against the Popes, but contains many useful references, apparently taken for the most part from Baronius and Pagi.

For the almost infinite subject of Roman archaeology I have consulted chiefly the following: —

Canina's Edifizi di Roma Antica (1848‑1856). Canina's conjectural restorations of the buildings of ancient Rome, even if they cannot always stand the test of detailed criticism, are a great help to an unprofessional student.

p74 H. Jordan's Topographie der Stadt Rom im Alterthum. His criticism of the late imperial and early mediaeval guidebooks to Rome, the Curiosum Urbis, Mirabilia Romae, and Itinerary of the Monk of Einsiedeln, is extremely helpful, the more so as he publishes the text of the documents on which he comments.

Among my other guides are J. H. Parker's Archaeology of Rome and his splendid collection of photographs, especially those of the Walls and Gates; Gregorovius's Geschichte der Stadt Rom, vol. I; E. A. Freeman's Historical and Architectural Sketches, and a paper by the same author in the British Quarterly Review (1882) on Rome during the Sieges of the Sixth Century; T. H. Dyer's article on Ancient Rome contributed to Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (requiring modification in a few points owing to the discoveries of the last twenty years), and the same author's History of the City of Rome; Rev. Robert Burn's Old Rome (which contains all the chief discoveries down to 1880); Hemans' Ancient Christianity and Sacred Art in Italy, and Murray's Handbook (1881).º

I have also to thank the Commendatore Lanciani, the well-known Roman archaeologist, for some valuable information, especially as to the Walls of Rome.

Slight information as to the movements of Belisarius in the latter half of 536. The events described in the preceding chapter occupied the summer and autumn of 536. How Belisarius was occupied during this interval it is not easy to say. The notes of this time given us by Procopius in this part of his narrative are indistinct; nor have we between the siege of Neapolis and the siege of Rome any of those little personal touches which indicate the presence of an eye‑witness. Possibly the historian was still at Carthage, attached to the staff of the African army. Procopius was probably at Beneventum. If in Italy, he was perhaps engaged in administrative work in some one of the towns of Southern Italy, such as Beneventum, of which he gives at this point of his narrative a short account full of archaeological information. The name of the place, at  p75 first Maleventum, from the fierce winds which rage there as well as in Dalmatia,1 but afterwards changed to Beneventum, to avoid the ill sound of the other ('for the Latins call wind ventus [βέντος] in their language') — the traditions of Diomed the founder of the city — the grinning tusks of the Calydonian boar2 slain by his uncle Meleager, still preserved down to the days of Procopius — the legend of the Palladium stolen by Diomed and Ulysses from the temple of Athené at Troy and handed on by the former to Aeneas — the doubt where this Palladium was then preserved, whether at Rome or Constantinople3 — all this archaeological  p76 gossip flows from the Herodotean pen of our historian with a fulness which suggests that to him the autumn of 536 was in after days chiefly memorable as the time of his sojourn at Beneventum.

Consolidation of the Emperor's power in Southern Italy. It seems likely that Belisarius devoted the summer and autumn months of 536 to the consolidation of his conquests in Southern Italy. Cumae, that town by Lake Avernus of old Sibylline fame, which was the only fortress besides Neapolis in the province of Campania, was occupied by him with a sufficient garrison. Calabria and Apulia, as has been already said, offered themselves as willing subjects to the Byzantine Emperor. A hardy and martial people like the Goths, holding the central Apennine chain, might have given Belisarius some trouble by separating Apulia from Campania and intercepting the communications between the Hadriatic and Tyrrhene seas; Desertion of Pitzas. but this danger was removed by the convenient treachery of Pitzas the Goth, probably the same person as the Pitzias who was victor in the war of Sirmium.4 He now commanded in the province of Samnium, and brought over with him not only his personal followers, but at least half of the province, to the allegiance of the Emperor.5

Thus, with scarcely a stroke struck, had nearly the whole of that fair territory which modern geography knows as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies been lost to the Goths and recovered by 'the commonwealth of  p77 Rome.' Belisarius might well pause for a few months to secure these conquests and to await the result of the negotiations with Witigis, evidently somewhat half-hearted about his resistance, had opened up with Constantinople. Beside, he had reason to expect that he would soon receive an important communication from the Bishop of Rome himself; and before the winter had fairly commenced that communication came. To understand its full importance we must rapidly turn over a few pages of Papal history.

Attitudes of the Popes towards the successors of Theodoric: Felix III, 12 July, 526, to 22 Sept. 530; Boniface II, 22 Sept. 530, to 17 Oct. 532; John II, 2 Jan. 533, to 8 May, 535. It has been already said that, after the death of the unfortunate Pope John in the prison of Theodoric, a succession of somewhat inconspicuous Popes filled the chair of St. Peter. Neither Felix III, Boniface II, nor John II did anything to recall the stirring times of the previous Felix or of Hormisdas: but the long duel with Constantinople had ended in the glorious triumph of Rome; and the hard fate of John I had warned the pontiffs that their time was not yet come for an open rupture with 'Dominus Noster' the King of the Goths and Romans, in his palace by the Hadriatic. A cordial theological alliance therefore with Byzantium, and trembling lip‑loyalty to Ravenna, was the attitude of the Popes during these years of transition. There were the customary disputes and disturbances at the election of each Pontiff, varied by stringent decrees of the Roman Senate against bribery, by attempts on the part of the King's counsellors to magnify his share in the nomination to the vacant see, and by one yet stranger attempt on the part of Pope Boniface to acquire the power of nominating his successor to the Pontificate — a power such as a servile Parliament of the sixteenth century  p78 conferred on Henry VIII with reference to the English crown. This scheme, however, was too audacious to succeed. Boniface was forced, probably the pressure of public opinion, to revoke and even to burn the decree of nomination. The chief interest of this event for posterity lies in the fact that the person who was to have been benefited by the decree was the adroit but restless and unprincipled deacon Vigilius, of whose later intrigues for the acquisition of the Papal throne, and sorrows when he had obtained the coveted dignity we shall hear abundantly in the future course of this history.

Apparent divergence of teaching between Hormisdas and John II. Theologically this uneventful period has a conspicuous interest of its own, as being one of the great battle-fields of the assertors and impugners of the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. One of the usual childish logomachies of the East was imported into Rome by certain Scythian monks, who pressed, as a matter of life and death, the orthodoxy of the formula 'One of the Trinity suffered in the flesh' as against the heretical 'One person of the Trinity suffered in the flesh.' Hormisdas, before whom the matter was at first brought, had showed the usual good sense of Rome by trying simply to crush out the unintelligible and unprofitable discussion. In doing so, however, he used words which certainly seemed to convey to the non‑theological mind the idea that he regarded the phrase 'One of the Trinity suffered in the flesh' as heretical. That phrase a later Pope, John II, under some pressure from Justinian, that he might not seem to countenance Nestorianism, adopted as agreeing with the apostolic teaching; and it has consequently ever since been  p79 considered strictly orthodox to use it. Here are obviously the materials for a discussion, very interesting to theologians. The literature of the Hormisdas controversy is already considerable, and it is quite possible that the last word has not yet been spoken regarding it.

Agapetus Pope, 13 May, 535, to 22 April, 536. The successor of John II, Pope Agapetus, during his short episcopate of ten months, saw more of the world than many of his predecessors in much longer pontificates. After timidity of Peter and Rusticus had failed, through his own treachery and vacillation, King Theodahad determined to make one more attempt to assuage the just resentment of Justinian. Knowing the great influence which since the reunion of the Churches the Roman pontiff exerted over the Eastern Caesar, he decided that Agapetus should be sent to Constantinople on an embassy of peace. To overcome the natural reluctance of a person of advanced age, and in a position of such high dignity, to act as his letter-carrier on a long and toilsome winter journey, Theodahad sent a message to him and to the Roman Senate informing him that, unless they succeeded in making his peace with Justinian, the senators, their wives, their sons, and their daughters should all be put to the sword.6 Truly the instincts of self-preservation in the coward are cruel.

535‑6 The Pope sent on an embassy to Constantinople. Agapetus entered Constantinople early in 536,7 and  p80 was received with great demonstrations of respect by the Emperor and the citizens. In the fulfilment of Theodahad's commission, as we know, he met with no success. The Emperor replied — and his reply is characteristic of the huckstering spirit in which he made war, — that after the great expenses to which his treasury had been put in preparing the expedition for Italy he could not now draw back, leaving its object unattained.8 But if Agapetus could not or would not effect anything on behalf of his Gothic sovereign he effected much for the advancement of his own and his successors' dignity; and this visit of his is a memorable step in the progress of the Papacy towards an Universal Patriarchate. The see of Constantinople was at this time filled by Anthimus, recently translated thither from Trebizond by the influence of Theodora, and strongly suspected of sharing the Eutychian views of his patroness. Agapetus refuses to recognise Anthimus as Patriarch of Constantinople, and procures his removal. Agapetus sternly refused to recognise Anthimus as lawful Patriarch of Constantinople, on the double ground of the ecclesiastical canon against translations and of his suspected heresy. Justinian tried the effect, so powerful on all others, of the thunder of the imperial voice and the frown on the imperial brow. 'Either comply with my request or I will cause thee to be carried away into banishment.' Quite unmoved, the noble old man replied in these memorable words: 'I who am but a sinner came with eager longing to gaze upon the most Christian Emperor Justinian. In his place I find a Diocletian, whose threats do not  p81 one whit terrify me.' It must be recorded, for the credit of Justinian, that this bold language moved his admiration rather than his anger. He allowed the Bishop of Rome to question the Patriarch of Constantinople whether he admitted the two natures in Christ; and when the faltering answers of Anthimus proclaimed him a secret Monophysite, Justinian, who always assumed in public the attitude of an opponent of his wife's heresy, at once drove him from the see and from the city. Agapetus consecrates the new Patriarch, 13 March, 536. A new prelate, Mennas of undoubted Chalcedonian orthodoxy, was consecrated by Agapetus. Technically the rights of the see of Constantinople may have been saved, but there was certainly something in the whole proceeding which suggested the idea that, after all, the so‑called Patriarch of New Rome was only a suffragan bishop in the presence of the successor of St. Peter.

Much had Agapetus done, and more was he doing, to repress the reviving Eutychianism of the East — encouraged though it was by the favour of Theodora — when death ended his career. He died on the 22nd of April, 536 (when Belisarius was on the point of returning from Carthage to Sicily), and his body, enclosed in a leaden coffin, was brought from Constantinople to Rome and buried in the Basilica of St. Peter.

Silverius Pope, 8 June, 536, to 11 March, 537. The new Pope, Silverius, is said to have been intruded into the see by the mere will of 'the tyrant Theodahad,' who, moved himself by a bribe, brought terror to bear on the minds of the clergy to prevent any resistance to his will. It is, however, strongly suspected that this suggestion of an election vitiated by duress is a mere afterthought in order to excuse the highly irregular proceedings which, as we shall  p82 hereafter see, were connected with his deposition.9 One fact, rare if not unique in the history of the Papacy, distinguishes the personal history of Silverius. Son of Pope Hormisdas. A Pope himself, he was also the son of a Pope. He was the offspring, born in lawful wedlock, of the sainted and strong-willed Hormisdas, who of course must have been a widower when he entered the service of the Church. We fail, however, to find in the gentle and peace-loving Silverius any trace of the adamantine character of his dictatorial father. Not of a noble or independent nature, he appears to be pushed about by ruder men and women, Gothic and Roman, according to their own needs and caprices, and is at last hustled out of the way more ignominiously than any of his predecessors. Domineering fathers make not unfrequently timorous and abject sons.

Message from the Pope to Belisarius, offering to surrender the city. Such, then, was the Pope Silverius — for we now return to contemplate the progress of the imperial army — who, having sworn a solemn oath of fealty to Witigis, now, near the end of 536, sent messengers to Belisarius to offer the peaceful surrender of the city of Rome. It was not, however, with any chivalrous intention of throwing themselves into the breach, and doing battle for the commonwealth of Rome, that this invitation was sent. Silverius and the citizens had heard, of course, full particulars of the siege and sack of Naples and wished to avoid similar calamities falling upon them. Weighing one danger against another, they thought that they should run less risk from the wrath of the  p83 Goths than from that of the Byzantines, and therefore sent Fidelius, the late Quaestor of Athalaric, to invite Belisarius to Rome, and to promise that the City should be surrendered to him without a struggle. Belisarius marches by the Via Latina. Belisarius gladly accepted the invitation, and leaving Herodian with a garrison of 300 foot-soldiers in charge of Naples, he marched by the Latin Way from Campania to Rome. While the Via Appia was the great sea‑coast road to Rome, the Via Latina took a more inland course by the valley of the Liris and along the base of the Volscian hills, a course in fact very nearly coinciding with that of the modern railway between Rome and Naples. Belisarius and his army passed therefore through the town of Casinum, and immediately under its steep hill, upon the summit of which a man who was to attain even wider fame than Belisarius had reared, amid the ruins of Apollo's temple, the mother-edifice of a thousand European convents. It was Benedict of Nursia, who, little heeding the clash of opposing races, and scarce hearing the tramp of invading armies, was making for Monte Cassino an imperishable name in the history of humanity.

The Gothic garrison evacuate Rome. When the Gothic garrison of Rome learned that Belisarius was at hand, and that the Romans were disposed to surrender the City, they came to the conclusion that against such a general, aided by the good-will of the citizens, they should never be able to prevail, and that they would therefore withdraw peaceably from Rome. Leuderis alone, their brave old general, refused to quit the post which had been assigned to him, but was unable to command the obedience of his soldiers, or to recall them to some resolution more worthy of the Gothic name. They  p84 therefore marched quietly out by the Flaminian Gate (on the site of the modern Porta del Popolo), Entry of Belisarius into Rome. while Belisarius and his host entered by the Porta Asinaria, that stately gate flanked by two semicircular towers which, though walled up, still stands near the Porta San Giovanni and behind the great Lateran Basilica. Leuderis was quietly taken prisoner, and sent with the keys of the city to Justinian. So much for the infallible precautions which Witigis assured the Goths he had taken against the surrender of the city, the 'numerous men and highly intelligent officers who would never allow it to fall into the hands of Belisarius.'10

The entry of the Byzantine troops into Rome took place on the 9th of December, 536.11 Thus, as Procopius remarks, after sixty years of barbarian domination, was the city recovered for the Empire.

 p85  Belisarius fixes his quarters in the Pincian Palace. Belisarius seems not to have taken up his abode in any of the imperial residences on the Palatine Hill, where the representative of the Byzantine Caesar might naturally have been expected to dwell, but, prescient of the coming struggle, to have at once fixed his quarters on the Pincian Hill. This ridge on the north of Rome, so well known by every visitor to the modern city, who, however short his stay, is sure to have seen the long train of carriages climbing to or returning from the fashionable drive, and who has probably stood upon its height in order to obtain the splendid view which it affords of the dome of St. Peter's, was not one of the original seven hills of the city, nor formed, strictly speaking, a part even of imperial Rome. Known in earlier times as the Collis Hortulorum, or Hill of Gardens, it occupied too commanding a position to be safely left outside the defences, and had therefore been included within the circuit of the walls of Honorius, some of the great retaining walls of the gardens of M. Q. Acilius Glabrio having been incorporated with the new defences.12 Here then, in the Domus Pinciana,13 the imperial General took up his abode. Advantages of the position. Albeit probably somewhat dismantled, it was doubtless still a stately and spacious palace, though it has now  p86 disappeared and left no trace behind. It was admirably adapted for his purpose, being in fact a watch-tower commanding a view all round the northern horizon, from the Vatican to the Mons Sacer.14 From this point a ride of a few minutes on his swift charger would bring him to the next great vantage-ground, the Castra Praetoria, whose square enclosure, projecting beyond the ordinary line of the Honorian walls, made a tempting object of attack, but also a splendid watch-tower for defence, carrying on the general's view to the Praenestine Gate (Porta Maggiore) on the south-east of the city. Thus, from these two points, about a third of the whole circuit of the walls, and nearly all of that part which was actually attacked by the Goths, was visible.

Preparations for the defence of Rome. That the city would have to be defended, and that it would tax all his powers to defend it successfully, was a matter that was perfectly clear to the mind of Belisarius, though the Romans, dwelling in a fool's paradise of false security, deemed that all their troubles were over when the 4000 Goths marched forth by the Flaminian Gate. They thought that the war would inevitably be decided elsewhere by some great pitched battle. It seemed to them obvious that so skilful a general as Belisarius would never consent to be besieged in a city so little defended by nature as was the wide circuit of imperial Rome, nor undertake the almost superhuman task of providing for the sustenance  p87 of that vast population in addition to his own army. Such, however, was the scheme of Belisarius, who knew that behind the walls of Rome his little army could offer a more effectual resistance to the enemy than in any pitched battle on the Campanian plains. Slowly and sadly the citizens awoke to the fact that their hasty defection from the Gothic cause was by no means to relieve them from the hardships of a siege. Possibly some of them, in the year of misery that lay before them, even envied the short and sharp agony of Neapolis.

Commissariat. The commissariat of the city was naturally one of the chief objects of the General's solicitude. From Sicily, still the granary of the State, his ships had brought and were daily bringing large supplies of grain. These were carried into the great warehouses (horrea publica), which were under the care of the Praefectus Annonae.15 At the same time the citizens, sorely grumbling, were set busily to work to bring into the city the cornº and provisions of all kinds that were stored in the surrounding country.

Repair of the walls. Side by side with this great work went on the repair of the walls, which Belisarius found in many places somewhat ruinous. Two hundred and sixty years had elapsed since they were erected by Aurelian and Probus, one hundred and thirty since they were renewed by Honorius, and in the latter interval they may have suffered not only from the slow foot of time, but from the destroying hands of the soldiers of Alaric, of Gaiseric, and of Ricimer. Theodoric's steady and persevering labours had effected something, but much still remained to be done. Belisarius repaired the  p88 rents which still existed, drew a deep and wide fosse round the outer side of the wall, and studied what he considered to be a deficiency in the battlements by adding a cross-wall to each on the left hand, so that the soldier might depend on with the use of a shield, being guarded against arrows and javelins hurled against him from that quarter.16

Present aspect of these walls. The walls and gates of imperial Rome, substantially the same walls which Belisarius defended, and many of the same gates at which the Goths battered, are still visible; and few historical monuments surpass them in interest. No survey of them has yet been made sufficiently minute to enable us to say with certainty to what date each portion of them belongs; but some general conclusions may be safely drawn even by the superficial observer. Here you may see the opus reticulatum, that cross-hatched brickwork which marks a building of the Julian or Flavian age; there the fine and regular brickwork of Aurelian; there again the poor debased work of the time of Honorius. A little further on, you come to a place where layers of bricks regularly laid cease altogether. Mere rubble-work thrust in anyhow, blocks of marble, fragments of columns; such is the material with which the fatal holes in the walls have been darned and patched; and here antiquaries are generally disposed to see the 'tumultuary' restorations of Belisarius  p89 working in hot haste to complete his repairs before Witigis or the later Totila should appear before the wall. In a few places the gap in the brickwork is supplied by different and more massive materials. Great square blocks of the black volcanic stone called tufa, of which the wall of Servius Tullius was composed, are the sign of this intrusive formation. Are these also due to the rapid restorations of Belisarius, or was it part of the original plan to make the now superseded wall of the King do duty, after nine centuries, in the rampart of the Emperor? We turn an angle of the walls, and we see the mighty arches of the interlacing aqueducts by which Rome was fed with water from the Tiburtine and the Alban hills, with admirable skill made available for the defence of the city. We move onward, we come to Christian monograms, to mediaeval inscriptions, to the armorial bearings of the Popes. At the south of the city we look upon the grand Bastion, which marks the restoring hand of the great Farnese Pope, Paul III, employing the genius of Sangallo. We pass the great gate of Ostia, that gate through which St. Paul is believed to have been led forth to martyrdom, and which now bears his name. The wall runs down sharply to the Tiber, at the foot of that strange artificial hill the Monte Testaccio; for half a mile it lines the left bank of the stream; then at the gate of Porto it reappears on the opposite side of the Tiber. Here it changes its character, and the change is itself a compendium of mediaeval history. The wall which on the eastern shore was Imperial, with only some marks of Papal repair, now becomes purely Papal; the turrets give place to bastions; Urban VIII, as name-giver to the  p90 rampart, takes the place of Aurelian.17 We see among other things how dear 'the Leonine city' was to the Pontifical heart; we discern that St. Peter's and the Vatican have taken the place which in imperial Rome was occupied by the Palatine, in Republican Rome by the Forum, the Capitol, and the Temple of Concord.

Contrasting periods of history. As everywhere in Rome, so pre‑eminently in our circuit of the wall, the oldest and the newest ages are constantly jostling against one another. At the east of the city we were looking at the tufa blocks hewn by the masons of Servius Tullius. Now on the west we see the walls by the Porta Aurelia showing everywhere the dints of French bullets hurled against them when Oudinot in 1849 crushed out the little life of the Roman Republic of Mazzini. For yet more recent history we turn again to our northern starting-point, and there, almost under the palace of Belisarius, we see the stretch of absolutely new wall which marks the extent of the practicable breach through which the troops of Victor Emmanuel entered Rome in September, 1870.

Object of Aurelian in building the walls. A first and even a second perambulation of the walls of Rome, especially on the outside, may hardly give the observer an adequate conception of their original completeness as a work of defence. It has been well pointed out by one of our German authorities18 that Aurelian's object in constructing it cannot have been merely to furnish cover for the comparatively small  p91 numbers of the cohortes urbanae, the ordinary city-guard, but that he must have contemplated the necessity of a whole army garrisoning the city and defending his work. For this reason we have in Aurelian's original line of circum­vallation, and to some extent, but less perfectly, in the Honorian restoration of it, The inner gallery. a complete gallery or covered way carried all round the inside of the walls.19 Nowhere can this original idea of the wall be better studied than on the south-east of the city, in the portion between the Amphitheatrum Castrense and the Porta Asinaria, or, in ecclesiastical language, between the Church of Santa Croce and that of St. John Lateran. Here, if we walk outside, we see the kind of work with which the rest of our tour of inspection has already made us familiar, that is, a wall from 50 to 60 feet high, with square towers some 20 feet higher than the rest of the work, projecting from the circuit of the wall at regular intervals of 33 yards.20 If we now pass in, not by the Porta Asinaria, which is closed, but by its representative the modern Porta San Giovanni, we find ourselves looking upon a structure greatly resembling one  p92 of the great Roman aqueducts, and probably often taken for such by travellers. We can see of course the backs of the square towers, but between every two of these there are seven tall arches about 33 feet high. A window through the wall near the bottom of each of these corresponds with an opening outside about half‑way up the face of the wall, and thus lets us see that the level of the ground inside is from 20 to 30 feet higher than outside, the apparent height of the wall inside being of course reduced by the same amount. In the wall behind the arches we can see the holes marking the places where the ends of two sets of rafters, one above the other, have rested. Moreover, the piers which separate the arches are pierced by another set of tall thin arches at right angles to the others. A glance at the accompanying engravings will give a clearer idea of the construction of the walls than a page of description. The meaning of all these indications evidently is that a corridor or covered way ran round the whole inner circuit of the wall of Aurelian, where that was finished according to the design of the imperial builder. This gallery was two stories high between the towers; a third story would be added where these gave the needful height.21 Besides these covered galleries, which were used for the rapid transfer of troops from one part of the circuit  p93 to another, there was the regular path at the top of the walls, partially protected by battlements, on which the defenders were doubtless mustered when actual fighting was going forward.

State of the walls in the eighth century. For our knowledge of the fortifications of the city we are not entirely dependent on our present observation of the walls, battered as they have been by the storms of the Middle Ages, and still more grievously as they have suffered at the hands of restorers and modernisers in the last three centuries. The Pilgrim of Einsiedeln. The 'Pilgrim of Einsiedeln,' as he is conventionally termed, a visitor to Rome in the eighth or ninth century, recorded the most noteworthy objects of the Eternal City in a MS. which is preserved in the monastery of Einsiedeln in Switzerland. Among other information, he gives us the precise number of the towers, the battlements, and the loopholes in each section of the wall, including even the sanitary arrangements rendered necessary by the permanent presence of a large body of troops. It has been generally supposed that the Einsiedeln Pilgrim himself counted the towers of the sacred city of St. Peter; but one of our best German authorities22 suggests, with great probability, that he is really transcribing some much earlier official document, possibly that drawn up by the architects of Honorius at the beginning of the fifth century.23

 p94  General survey of Rome before the siege. While Belisarius is repairing the mouldering wall and assigning to the rude cohorts of his many-nationed army their various duties in the anticipated siege, we may allow ourselves to cast a hasty glance over the city which he has set himself to defend. A hasty glance, for this is not the time nor the place for minute antiquarian discussion; yet a glance of some sad and earnest interest, since we know that this is the last time that Rome in her glory will be seen by mortal man. The things which have befallen her up  p95 to this time have been only slight and transitory shocks, which have left no lasting dint upon her armour — Alaric's burning of the palace of Sallust, Gaiseric's half-accomplished spoliation of the golden roof of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, some havoc wrought in the insolence of their triumph by the foederati of Ricimer. More destructive, no doubt, was the slow process of denudation already commenced by the unpatriotic hands of the Romans themselves, and only partially checked by the decrees of Majorian and Theodoric. Still, as a whole, Rome the Golden City, the City of Consuls and Emperors, the City of Cicero's orations, of Horace's idle perambulations, of Trajan's magnificent constructions, yet stood when the Gothic war began. In the squalid, battered, depopulated cluster of ruins, over which twenty-eight years later sounded the heralds' trumpets proclaiming that the Gothic war was ended, it would have been hard for Cicero, Horace, or Trajan to recognise his home. Classical Rome we are looking on for the last time; the Rome of the Middle Ages, the city of sacred shrines and relics and pilgrimages, is about to take her place.

Silence of Procopius as to the effect produced on him by the sight of Rome. It is impossible not to regret that Procopius has allowed himself to say so little as to the impression made on him by Rome. He must have entered the city soon after his chief, travelling by the Appian Way, the smooth and durable construction of which moved him to great admiration.24 But of the city  p96 itself, except of its gates and walls in so far as these require description in order to illustrate the siege, he has very little to say. It is easy to understand his silence. Most authors shrink from writing about the obvious and well-known. It would perhaps be easier to meet with ten vivid descriptions of the Island of Skye than one of the Strand or Cheapside. But not the less is it a loss for us that that quick and accurate observer, the Herodotus of the Post-Christian age, has not recorded more of his impressions of the streets, the buildings, and the people of Rome. Let us endeavour, however, to put ourselves in his place, and to reconstruct the city, at least in general outline as he must have beheld it.

Imaginary progress of Procopius through the city.

Porta Appia.
Journeying, as it is most probable that Procopius did, by the Appian Way, he would enter Rome by the gate then called the Porta Appia, but now the Porta di San Sebastiano, one of the finest of the still remaining entrances through the wall of Aurelian, with two noble towers, square within and semicircular without, the upper part of which, according to a careful English observer,25 bears traces of the restoring hand of Theodoric.26  p97 Immediately after entering the city, Procopius would find himself passing under the still-preserved Arch of Drusus; and those of Trajan and Verus, spanning the intra-mural portion of the Appian Way, would before long attract his notice. This portion of the city, now so desolate and empty of inhabitants, was then probably thickly sown with the houses of the lower order of citizens.

The Baths of Caracalla. High on his left, when he had proceeded somewhat more than a half-mile, rose the mighty pile known to the ancients as the Thermae Antoninianae, and to the moderns as the Baths of Caracalla. Even in its ruins this building gives to the spectator an almost overwhelming idea of vastness and solidity. But when Procopius first saw it, the 1600 marble seats for bathers27 were probably all occupied, the gigantic swimming-bath was filled with clear cold water from the Marcian aqueduct, the great circular Caldarium, 160 feet in diameter, showed dimly through the steam the forms of hundreds of bathing Romans. Men were wrestling in the Palaestra and walking up and down in the Peristyle connected with the baths. Polished marble and deftly wrought mosaics lined the walls and covered the floors. At every turn one came upon some priceless work of art, like the Farnese Bull, the Hercules, the Flora, those statues the remnants of  p98 which, dug out of these ruins as from an unfailing quarry, have immortalised the names of Papal Nephews and made the fortunes of the museums of Bourbon Kings.28

The buildings on the Palatine. And now, as the traveller moved on, there rose more and more proudly above him the hill which has become for all later ages synonymous with regal power and magnificence, the imperial Palatine. Not as now, with only a villa and a convent standing erect upon it, the rest, grass and wild-flowers, and ruins for the most part not rising above the level of the ground, the whole hill was crowded with vast palaces, in which each successive dynasty had endeavoured to outshine its predecessor in magnificence. Here, first, rose the tall but perhaps somewhat barbarous edifice with which Severus had determined to arrest the attention of his fellow-provincials from Africa travelling along the Appian Way, in order that their first question about Rome might be answered by his name. Just below it was the mysterious Septizonium, the work of the same Emperor, the porch of his palace and the counterpart of his tomb, of whose seven sets of columns, rising tier above tier, three were yet remaining only three centuries ago, when the remorseless Sixtus V transported them to the Vatican. Behind the palace of Severus, on the summit of the Palatine, were visible the immense banqueting halls of the Flavian Emperors, Vespasian and Domitian; behind them again the more modest house of Tiberius and the labyrinth of apartments reared by the crazy Caligula.

 p99  Probable condition of the imperial palaces. In what condition are we to suppose that all these imperial dwellings were maintained when the troops of the Eastern Caesar came to reclaim them for their lord? Certainly not with all that untarnished magnificence which they possessed before the troubles of the third century commenced; hardly even with the show of affluence which they may still have worn when Constantius visited Rome in 357. Two centuries had elapsed since then — two centuries of more evil than good fortune — centuries in which the struggle for mere existence had left the rulers of the State little money or time to spare for repairs or decorations. But nothing, it may fairly be argued, had yet occurred to bring these massive piles into an obviously ruinous condition. If the comparison may be allowed, these dwellings on the Palatine probably presented in the state apartments that dingy appearance of faded greatness which one sees in the country-house of a noble family long resident abroad, but externally they had lost nothing of the stateliness with which they were meant to impress the mind of the beholder.

Circus Maximus. If Procopius ascended to the summit of the Palatine he may perchance have seen from thence, in the valley of the Circus Maximus, between the Palatine and Aventine hills, a chariot-race exhibited by the General to keep the populace in good-humour. Here the Byzantine official would feel himself to be at once at home. Whether he favoured the Blue or the Green faction we know not (though his animosity against Theodora makes us inclined to suspect him of sympathy with the Greens), but to whichsoever he belonged he could see his own faction striving for victory, and  p100 would hear, from at any rate a large portion of the crowd, the shouts with which they hailed the triumph, or the groans with which they lamented the defeat, of their favourite colour.

Arch of Constantine. Continuing his journey, the historian passed under the eastern summit of the Palatine, and then beneath the Arch of Constantine, that Arch which stands at this day comparatively undefaced, showing how the first Christian emperor purloined the work of the holier heathen Trajan to commemorate his own less worthy victories. The Colosseum and the Colossus. Emerging from the shadow of the Arch he stood before the Flavian Amphitheatre and looked up to the immense Colossus of Nero, that statue of the Sun‑god 120 feet in height, towering almost as high as the mighty edifice itself, to which it gave its best-known name,a the Colosseum. It is generally felt that the Colosseum is one of those buildings which has gained by ruin. The topmost story, consisting, not of arches like the three below it, but of mere blank wall-spaces divided by pilasters, must have had when unbroken a somewhat heavy appearance; while, on the other hand, no beholder of the still perfect building could derive that impression of massive strength which we gain by looking, through the very chasms and rents in its outer shell, at the gigantic circuit of its concentric ellipses, at the massive walls radiating upwards and outwards upon which the seats of its 87,000 spectatorsb rested. Altogether there is a pathetic majesty in the ruined Colosseum which can hardly have belonged to it in its days of prosperity, and, as one is almost inclined to say, of vulgar self-assertion.29

 p101  But if this be true of the Colosseum itself, it is true of the surrounding objects. The great Colossus has already been referred to. It is now represented only by a shapeless and unsightly heap of stones which once formed part of its pedestal. Meta Sudans. The ugly conical mass of brickwork near the same spot, and known as the Meta Sudans, was a beautiful upspringing fountain thirty or forty feet high when Procopius passed that way.

The Baths of Titus. Eastwards, on the Oppian hill, stretched the long line of the Thermae Titi, the baths reared by Titus above the vast ruins of the Golden House of Nero. Temple of Venus and Rome. Immediately in front of the Colosseum (on the northwest) was the double temple reared by Hadrian in honour of Venus and Rome,30 perhaps one of the most beautiful edifices in the whole enclosure of the city. It was composed of two temples placed back to back. In one was the statue of Venus the Prosperous (Venus Felix), looking towards the Colosseum, in the other Roma Aeterna sat gazing towards her own Capitol. In the curvilinear pediment of the latter was a frieze, according to the opinion of some archaeologists representing Mars caressing Rhea Sylvia, and the wolf suckling their heroic offspring. Around the whole structure ran a low colonnade containing four hundred pillars.

The Via Sacra. The famous Sacred Way, where once Horace loitered,  p102 a well-marked street, not as now a mere track through the midst of desolation, Arch of Titus. led the historian up to the marble arch of Titus. Here he doubtless looked, as we may yet look, upon the representation of the seven-branched candlestick and the other spoils of Jerusalem, the strange story of whose wanderings he has himself recorded for us in his history of the Vandalic War.31

Basilica of Constantine. Descending the slope of the Via Sacra, and having on his right the lofty Basilica of Constantine, whose gigantic arches (long but erroneously called the Temple of Peace) stand on their hill over against the Palatine, and seem to assert a predominance over its yet remaining ruins, Procopius now with each downward step saw the glories of the Roman Forum more fully revealed. Forum Romanum. On his left, the temple of the Great Twin Brethren, three of whose graceful Corinthian columns still survive, a well-known object to all visitors to the Forum. Hard by, the fountain from which the celestial horsemen gave their horses to drink after the battle of Lake Regillus. Further on, the long colonnades of the Basilica of Julius, four law‑courts under the same roof. On his right, the tall columns of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, perhaps already supporting the roof of a Christian shrine, though not the unsightly edifice which at present clings to and defaces them; the chapel of the great Julius, the magnificent Basilica of Aemilius; and, lastly, those two venerable objects, the Senate-house and the Rostra. The Senate was still a living body, though its limbs had long been shaken by the palsies of a timid old age; but the days when impassioned  p103 orators thundered to the Roman people from the lofty Rostra had long passed away. Yet we may be permitted to conjecture that Procopius, with that awe‑struck admiration which he had for 'the Romans of old time,' gazed upon those weather-worn trophies of the sea and mused on the strange contra­dictoriness of Fate, which had used all the harangues of those impetuous orators as instruments to fashion the serene and silent despotism of Justinian.

Capitoline Hill and buildings in front of it. At the end of the Forum, with an embarrassment of wealth which perplexes us even in their ruins, rise the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Temple of Concord, the Temple of Vespasian, the ill‑restored Temple of Saturn. Between them penetrated the Clivus Capitolinus, up which once slowly mounted the car of many a triumphing general. Behind all stretched the magnificent background of the Capitoline Hill, on the left-hand summit of which stood the superb mass of the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, robbed by Gaiseric of half its golden tiles, but still resplendent under the western sun. Then came the saddle-shaped depression faced by the long Tabularium: and then the right-hand summit of the Capitoline, crowned by the Temple of Juno Moneta.32

The Imperial Fora. We have supposed our historian to deviate a little from the straight path in order to explore to the uttermost the buildings of the Republican Forum; but as his business lies at the northern extremity of the city, he must retrace a few of his steps and avail himself  p104 of the line of communication between the Via Sacra and the Via Flaminia which was opened up by the beneficent despotism of the Emperors. That is to say, he must leave the Forum of the Republic and traverse the long line of the spacious and well-planned Fora of the Caesars. In no part is the contrast between ancient and modern Rome more humiliating than here. In our day, a complex of mean and irregular streets,33 almost entirely destitute of classical interest or mediaeval picturesqueness, fills up the interval between the Capitoline and the Quirinal hills. The deeply cut entablature of the Temple of Minerva resting upon the two half-buried 'Colonnacce' in front of the baker's shop, the three pillars of the Temple of Mars Ultor, the great feudal fortress of the Tor de' Conti, and that most precious historical monument the Column of Trajan, alone redeem this region from utter wearisomeness. But this space, now so crowded and so irregular, was once the finest bit of architectural landscape-gardening in Rome. The Forum of Vespasian, the Forum of Nerva, the Forum of Augustus, the Forum of Julius, the Forum of Trajan, a series of magnificent squares and arcades, opening one into the other, occupying a space some 600 yards long by 100 wide and terminating in the mighty granite pillars of the Temple of Trajan, produced on the mind of the beholder the same kind of effect, but on a far grander scale, which is wrought by Trafalgar Square in London or the Place de la Concorde in Paris. Let not the modern traveller, who, passing from the Corso to the Colosseum, is accosted by his driver with the glibly uttered words 'Foro Trajano,' suppose that the little  p105 oblong space, with a few pillar-bases which he beholds at the foot of the memorable Column, is indeed even in ruin the entire Forum of the greatest of the Emperors. The column is Trajan's column doubtless, though

'Apostolic statues climb

The imperial urn whose ashes slept sublime

Buried in air, the deep blue sky of Rome,

And looking to the stars.'

The Forum of Trajan. But the so‑called 'Foro Trajano' is only a small transverse section of one member of the Trajanic series, the Basilica Ulpia. The column, as is well known, measured the height of earth which had to be dug away from a spur of the Capitoline in order to form the Forum. Between it and the Basilica Ulpia rose the two celebrated libraries of Greek and Latin authors, and between these two buildings stood once, and probably yet stood in the days of Procopius, that 'everlasting statue' of brass which by the Senate's orders was erected in honour of Sidonius, Poet-laureate and son-in‑law of an Emperor.34 The Libraries. In those Libraries Procopius, in the intervals of the business and peril of the siege, may often have wandered in order to increase his acquaintance with the doings of 'the Romans of old.' What treasures of knowledge, now for ever lost to the world, were still enshrined in those apartments! There all the rays of classical Art and Science were gathered into a focus. More important perhaps for us, all that the Greeks and Romans knew (and it was not a little, though carelessly recorded) concerning the Oriental civilisation which preceded theirs, and concerning the Teutonic barbarism which encompassed  p106 it, was still contained in those magnificent literary collections. There was the Chaldaean history of Berosus, there were the authentic Egyptian king-lists of Manetho, there was Livy's story of the last days of the Republic and the first days of the Empire, there was Tacitus's full history of the conquest of Britain, all that Ammianus could tell about the troubles of the third century and the conversion of Constantine, all that Cassiodorus had written about the royal Amals and the dim original of the Goths. All this perished, apparently in those twenty years of desolating war which now lie before us. It may be doubted whether for us the loss of the Bibliothecae Ulpiae is not even more to be regretted than that of the Library of Alexandria.35

Emperor Constantius on the Forum of Trajan, 356. Ammianus tells us36 that when the Emperor Constantius visited Rome he gazed with admiration on the Capitol, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Theatre of Pompey, but still with admiration which could express itself in words. 'But when,' says the historian, 'he came to the Forum of Trajan, that structure unique in all the world, and, as I cannot but think, marvellous in the eyes of the Divinity himself,  p107 he beheld with silent amazement those gigantic interlacings of stones which it is past the power of speech to describe, and which no mortal must in future hope to imitate. Hopeless of ever attempting any such work himself, he would only look at the horse of Trajan, placed in the middle of the vestibule37 and bearing the statue of the Emperor. "That," said Constantius, "I can imitate, and I will." Hormisdas, a royal refugee from the court of Persia, replied, with his nation's quickness of repartee, "But first, O Emperor, if you can do so, order a stable to be built as fair as that before us, that your horse may have as fine an exercising ground as the one we are now looking upon." '

Via Lata. Emerging from the imperial Fora, Procopius would now enter upon the Via Lata, broad as its name denotes, one of the longest streets, if not the longest, in Rome, and very nearly corresponding to the modern Corso. The Subura, which lay a little to the east of the Forum of Augustus, was once at any rate one of the most thickly peopled districts of Rome, and we shall perhaps not be wrong in assuming that in the regions east of the Via Lata, upon the Quirinal, Viminal, and Esquiline Hills, where the tall buildings of the Fourth Rome, the Rome of Victor Emmanuel and United Italy, are now arising, the humbler classes of the Second or Imperial Rome had chiefly fixed their abodes.

On the left side of the Via Lata, where the Third or Papal Rome has spun its web of streets thickest, all or nearly all was yet given up to pleasure. This was the true West End of Rome, the region in which  p108 her parks and theatres were chiefly placed. Campus Martius, circuses, and theatres west of the Via Lata. Here were the great open spaces of the Campus Martius and Campus Flaminius; here two race-courses, those of Flaminius and Domitian; here the great theatres of Pompey, of Balbus, and of Marcellus, and the Porticoes of the Argonauts and of Octavia. Altogether it was a region devoted to pleasure and idleness by the side of the tawny Tiber, and most unlike the closely-built and somewhat dingy quarters of the city which now occupy it.

Pantheon. As Procopius moved along the straight course of the Via Lata his eye would probably be caught by the flat dome of the Pantheon of Agrippa, hovering over the buildings on his left.38 He would thread the Arch of Claudius, would stand at the foot of the Column of Marcus Aurelius, and then pass beneath that Emperor's Arch of Triumph. Two mighty sepulchres would then arrest his attention: Tomb of Hadrian. the Tomb of Hadrian39 seeming by its massive bulk almost close at hand, though on the other bank of the Tiber; Mausoleum of Augustus. and the Mausoleum of Augustus rising immediately on his left, a rotunda of white marble below, a green and shady pleasaunce above, recalling, by its wonderful admixture of Nature and Art, the far‑famed Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

And now at length his never-to‑be-forgotten first view of Rome was drawing to a close. The soon-sinking sun of late autumn warned him, perchance, to quicken his pace. He bore off to the right: by some steep steps where the receivers of the public alimony40  p109 were wont to cluster, he climbed the high garden-decked Pincian. He entered the palace, bowed low before Belisarius, lower yet before the imperious Antonina, and received the General's orders as to the share of work that he was to undertake in connection with the provisionment of the city. Such is an account, imaginary indeed, but not improbable, of the circumstances in which the soldier-secretary first entered and first beheld Rome reunited to the Roman Empire.

Christian buildings of Rome. It remains for us briefly to notice the rising importance of the Christ buildings of Rome, though we will here dispense with the imaginary companionship of Procopius, whose somewhat sceptical temper, 'well acquainted with the subjects in dispute among Christians, but determined to say as little as possible about them, holding it to be proof of a madman's folly to enquire into the nature of God,'41 would make him an uncongenial guest at the sacred shrines. Of the five great patriarchal churches of Rome, three were beyond the walls of the city. Basilica of Constantine: St. John Lateran. On its extreme verge stood what was still the foremost in dignity of all the five, St. John Lateran, or the Basilica of Constantine, the so‑called Mother-Church of Christendom, 'Omnium Urbis et Orbis Ecclesiarum Caput.' It stood near the Asinarian Gate, on the property which Fausta, the unhappy wife of Constantine, inherited from her father Maximian, and which had once belonged to the senatorial family of the Laterani; and it formed the subject of that real and considerable donation of the first Christian Emperor to the Bishops of Rome which later ages distorted into a quasi-feudal investiture of the Imperial City.

 p110  Vatican Basilica: St. Peter's, Upon the Vatican Hill, outside the walls of Aurelian, looking down upon the Tiber and the Tomb of Hadrian, rose the five long aisles, the semicircular apse, and the nearly square entrance-Atrium of the Basilica of St. Peter. The region immediately surrounding it was perhaps still called the Gardens of Nero. It is certain that the reason for placing the Basilica on that spot was that there was the traditional site of the martyrdom of the Apostle, as well as of the sufferings of the nameless Christian crowd who, dressed in cloaks covered with pitch and set on fire, served as living torches to light that throned Satan to his revels and his chariot-races on the Vatican-mount.

St. Paul's. Outside the gate of Ostia, and also near the traditional scene of the martyrdom of the Apostle to whom it was dedicated, stood the noble Basilica of St. Paul. This edifice, commenced by Theodosius, completed by Honorius, and having received the finishing touches to its decorations at the hand of Placidia under the guidance of Pope Leo,42 subsisted with but little change to the days of our fathers. The lamentable fire of 1823, by which the greater part of it was destroyed, took from us the most interesting relic of Christian Imperial Rome. Happily the restoration, though it cannot give us back the undiminished interest of the earlier building, has been executed with admirable fidelity to the original design.

Liberian Basilica: Sta. Maria Maggiore. This cannot be said of the Liberian Basilica, the great church now known as S. Maria Maggiore, which, standing high on the Esquiline Hill, looked down  p111 westwards on the crowded Subura, and outwards towards the palatial Baths of Diocletian. The outside of the building has sustained the extremity of insult and wrong at the hands of the tasteless pseudo-classical restorers of the eighteenth century; and the inside, though not absolutely ruined by them, though its mosaics are still visible and much of its long colonnade still remains, shows too plainly how unsafe were the treasures of Christian antiquity in the hands of the conceited architects of the Renaissance.

St. Lawrence. The last of the great Basilicas, that of the martyred St. Lawrence, one mile outside the Tiburtine Gate, has suffered less ravage at the hands of restorers. It was in the thirteenth century singularly re‑arranged and transformed, its apse being pulled down and turned into a nave, and its original vestibule being turned into a choir:43 still we have substantially before us the same church which was surrounded by the Gothic armies in their siege of Rome. With that blending of the old and of the very new which at once charms and bewilders the visitor to Rome, we have here again an inscription recording the work of 'the pious mind of Placidia' under the guidance of Attila's Pope Leo, and in the crypt the just erected tomb of Pio Nono. The latter is so placed as to command a view of the slab of marble dyed red with the blood of the deacon Laurentius, martyr for the faith under the Emperor Claudius Gothicus. This marble slab was a favourite relic with the late Pontiff.

The parish churches, or Tituli. Besides these five great patriarchal churches there were twenty-eight parish churches, known by the  p112 technical name of Tituli, from which the Cardinal-presbyters of a later age took their ecclesiastical designations.44 Some of these which have been preserved to this day are more interesting than the churches of greater dignity, having by reason of their comparative insignificance escaped the hand of the Renaissance destroyer.45

Chief features of the ecclesiastical architecture of the fifth and sixth centuries. The main features, which were evidently common to all the Christian edifices of Rome in the fifth and sixth centuries, were (1) a long line of columns, not by any means always uniform or of the same order of architecture, and generally taken from the outside of some heathen temple; (2) a semicircular apse at the eastern end, in which the bishop or presbyter sat surrounded by his inferior clergy, as the Roman magistrate in the original Basilica sat surrounded by the various members of his 'officium'; (3) an arch in front of the apse, the idea of which was probably borrowed from the triumphal arches of the Emperors; (4) upon the arch, upon the apse, on the flat wall-space above the arches, in fact wherever they could conveniently be introduced, a blaze of bright mosaics, like those still preserved to us at Ravenna and in a very few of these Roman churches. The subjects represented were the Saviour, the symbols of the four Evangelists, the twelve Apostles under the guise of sheep, the mystic cities Jerusalem and Bethlehem, the Jordan and the four rivers of Paradise, and other emblems of the same character.

The fact that the columns of these churches were  p113 as a rule taken from heathen temples must of course qualify to some extent the statement that the splendour of the city was undiminished when Procopius entered it. Temples, not merely abandoned to silence and solitude, but rudely stripped of their pillared magnificence, must in many places have offended the eye of a beholder more sensitive to beauty than to religious enthusiasm. Still upon the whole, and with this abatement, we may repeat our proposition that it was the stately Rome of Consuls and Emperors which men then looked upon, and which after the middle of the sixth century they never beheld again.

'Alas, for Earth, for never shall we see

That brightness in her eye she bore when Rome was free.'

The Author's Notes:

1 In Dalmatia, says Procopius, the wind is often strong enough to lift up a man and the horse which he is riding and dashing them down again to slay them. When it blows in its strength all prudent persons keep indoors. This is that Bora of which mention has already been made in connection with the battle of Frigidus. See vol. I p575. A similar violent wind, 'the Helm Wind,' blows in the neighbourhood of Cross Fell in Cumberland. (See Sopwith's Account of the Mining Districts of Alston Moor, pp58‑63.)

Thayer's Note: The passage in Procopius is B. G. I.15.4‑14; but the connection of the name of Beneventum with wind belongs to folk etymology: Hodgkin will change his mind in VII.64, note. For details, see my note to Procopius.

2 'Three palms in circumference.'

3 Procopius's account of the Palladium is worth transcribing at length for its bearing on the history of early Greek and Asiatic art, especially with reference to Dr. Schliemann's discoveries.

'Where the original statue is, the Romans say that they do not know, but they show a copy of it carved in stone which even down to my time has remained in the temple of Fortune before the brazen image of Athené. The latter is in an open space eastward of the temple. The stone statue [the copy of the Palladium] represents the goddess in a martial attitude, raising her spear as if for battle and clad in a chiton reaching down to her feet. The face is not like the ordinary Greek effigies of Athené, but is altogether of the old Egyptian type. The Byzantines say that the original statue was buried by the Emperor Constantine in the Forum [at Constantinople] which bears his name' (De B. G. I.15).

Of course the Byzantines' version of the story was prompted by the hope of eternal dominion for their city.

4 See vol. III p395.

5 Procopius says that the Goths 'beyond the river which passes through the middle of the province refused to follow Pitzas and become subject to the Emperor.' He does not specify the river more particularly. It was probably either the Tifernus (Biferno) or the Sagrus (Sangro).

6 Liberatus, Breviarium, cap. xxi.

7 See Clinton's Fasti Romani, s. a. 535. It is admitted that the date in the Liber Pontificalis, '10 Kalend. Maii,' is a mistake for 'Martii.' (Or rather, as Duchesne remarks, it is 'un nouveau spécimen de ces interpolations de dates qui se sont produites d'assez bonne heure dans cette région du L. P.' The same date '10 Kal. Mai' is given a little lower down as that of the death of Agapetus.)

8 This characteristic touch is only in Liberatus.

9 Liberatus says distinctly that he was elected by the citizens of Rome. 'De cujus [Agapeti] decessu audiens Romana civitas, Silverium subdiaconum, Hormisdae quondam papae filium elegit ordinandum' (Breviarium, cap. xxii).

10 (From the speech of Witigis.) Ὅπως μέντοι μηδέν τι ξυμβήσεται τοιοῦτον, ἐγὼ προνοήσω. Ἄνδρας τε γὰρ πολλοῖς καὶ ἄρχοντα ξυνετώτατον ἀπολείψομεν οἳ Ῥώμην φυλάξαι ἱκανοὶ ἔσονται (Procopius, De B. G. I.11).

11 This date rests on the authority of Evagrius, the ecclesiastical historian, who was born possibly in this very year 536 (H. E. IV.19). The Liber Pontificalis fixes it on the 4th of the Ides of December, the 10th of the month. The text of Procopius seems to be corrupt: Ῥώμη τε αὖθις ἑξήκοντα ἔτεσιν ὕστερον ὑπὸ μηνός . . . ἥλω. It is suggested that ὑπό represents θ. απε., 'the 9th of Apellaeus,' that being, as stated by Evagrius, the Greek name of December. It would seem more natural (if grammar would tolerate this use of ὑπό) to understand Procopius as saying that Rome was subject to the barbarians sixty years all but a month. Had he some tradition, which we have lost, as to the precise date of the capture of Rome by Odovacar? [Comparetti in his translation inclines to the above rendering, 'e Roma fu ripresa dopo sessant' anni meno un mese (?) nell' anno undecimo (?) da che Giustiniano teneva l'autorità imperiale.']

12 I give this fact on the authority of S. Lanciani, who considers this part of the wall to belong to the Republican age. Its comparatively early date is shown by the large masses of opus reticulatum which it contains, this diamond-shaped style of brickwork not having been used in Rome after the earliest age of the Empire.

13 The Domus Pinciana is mentioned in Cassiodori Variarum, III.10, where Theodoric orders Festus to transport the marbles which it appears had been taken down from the Pincian house ('quae de domo Pinciana constat esse deposita') to Ravenna.

14 I think that this is correct, and probably an understatement of the extent of the view. But the groves and gardens of the Villas Borghese and Albani outside the walls make it difficult now to say exactly how much was visible from the Pincian in the time of Belisarius.

15 See vol. II pp 461 and 567‑576.

16 I presume that this is the meaning of Procopius: Ἔπαλξιν δὲ ἑκάστην ἐγγώνιον ἐποίει, οἰκοδομίαν δὴ τινὰ ἑτέραν ἐκ πλαγίου τοῦ εὐωνύμου τιθέμενος, ὅπως οἱ ἐνθένδε τοῖς ἐπιοῦσι μαχόμενοι πρὸς τῶν ἐν ἀριστερᾷ σφίσι τειχομαχούντων ἥκιστα βάλλωνται (De B. G. I.14). I am not able to state whether any traces of these cross-battlements or of the Belisarian fosse have been discovered.

17 The course of the wall of Aurelian is indeed visible in many places in the Trans-tiberine region, but it is merely an archaeological curiosity there, quite eclipsed in importance by the Papal fortification.

18 Jordan, Topographie der Stadt Rom, I.348.

19 In the works erected at Chollerford in Northumberland (Cilurnum), for the defence of the bridge over the North Tyne, we find a humbler specimen of the same kind of covered way.

20 Exactly 100 Roman feet. The face of the tower (C D) is 24 feet long, the sides (B C, D E) 12 feet. DIAGRAM

Many maps of modern Rome indicate the presence of these square towers. The greater or less regularity of their occurrence is generally a safe indication of the better or worse preservation of the original wall.

21 In the corridor on the western side of the Porta S. Sebastiano, at the third tower from the gate, Mr. Parker discovered an early fresco representing the Virgin with the infant Christ, which he believes to be 'the earliest Madonna that is known as distinct from the offering of the Magi.' Whether his inference that a chapel was constructed here for the soldiers at the time of Theodoric's repairs be correct or not, at any rate the existence of the fresco is an interesting fact (Archaeology of Rome, I.168).

22 Jordan, Topographie der Stadt Rom, II.156, 170. He suggests 'Ammon the geometer,' who, according to Olympiodorus (apud Photium, Bonn edition, p469), 'took the measure of the walls of Rome at the time when the Goths made their attack upon the city.'

23 The reader may be interested in seeing this technical description of that portion of the defences which was chiefly conspicuous in the Gothic siege of Rome. The turres and fenestrae (towers and loopholes) need no explanation: the propugnacula are the battlements, or, to speak more accurately, the merlons of the embattled wall: necessariae are believed to be equivalent to latrinae. It will be remembered that 100 Roman feet was the regulation distance between tower and tower.

'A porta Flamineâ cum ipsâ portâ usque ad portam Pincianam clausam:

Turres XXVIIII, propugnacula DCXLIIII, necessariae III, fenestrae majores forinsecus LXXV, minores CXVII.

A portâ Pincianâ clausâ cum ipsâ portâ usque ad portam Salariam:

Turrs XXII, ppg CCXLVI, necess XVII, fenest. major forins CC, minor CLX.

A portâ Salariâ cum ipsâ portâ usque Numentanam:

Turr X, ppg CXCVIIII, nec II, fen major forins LXXI, min LXV.

A portâ Numentanâ cum ipsâ portâ usque Tiburtinam:

Turr LVII, ppg DCCCVI, necess II, fenest major forins CCXIIII, minor CC.

A portâ Tiburtinâ cum ipsâ portâ usque ad Praenestinam:

Turr XVIIII, ppg cum portâ Praenestinâ CCCII, necess I, fen major forins LXXX, min CVIII.

A portâ Praenestinâ usque ad Asinariam:

Turr XXVI, ppg DIIII, nec VI, fenst major forins CLXXX, minor CVIII.

A portâ Asinariâ usque Metroviam:

Turr XX, ppg CCCXLII, nec IIII, fenest major forins CXXX, minor CLXXX.

(From Jordan's Topographi.e. der Stadt Rom, II.578‑9.)

24 These are his words (De B. G. I.14): 'Now the Via Appia is a five days' journey for a good pedestrian, leading from Rome to Capua. It is so broad that two waggons can pass one another along its whole course, and it is eminently worthy of observation. For all the stones composing it being mill-stones and very hard by nature were brought by Appius from quarries a long way off, there being none like them in the district itself. Having made these stones smooth and even and cut them into polygons, they fitted them one into another without using rubble or any other cement. Now these stones cohere so perfectly with one another that they look as if they had not been artificially joined but had grown together. Nor has their smoothness been impaired by the daily passage of horses and waggons over them for so great a length of time. They still fit as perfectly as ever and have lost nothing of their original beauty. [Χάλικα, 'rubble or cement,' is Comparetti's conjectural emendation for χαλκά, 'brass.']

25 Mr. J. H. Parker.

26 A curious inscription on the left‑hand wall inside this gate (accompanied by the figure of an archangel) records the invasion of gens foresteria on the last day but one before the feast of St. Michael, and their 'abolition' by the Roman people under the command of Jacobus de Pontianis. The gens foresteria were the troops of King Robert of Naples co‑operating with the Orsini, in the year 1327.

27 Olympiodorus apud Photium, p469 (ed. Bonn).

28 The first impression of a visitor to the Museums of Sculpture at Rome and Naples is that every important work came either from the Baths of Caracalla or from the Villa of Hadrian.

29 This remark is made in Burn's Old Rome, p71.

30 This was the Temple which according to Dion Cassius cost the architect Apollodorus his life. Hadrian sent him a drawing of the Temple which he had himself designed, expecting a compliment on his artistic skill, and received for answer, 'You have made your goddesses so large that they cannot stand up in their own houses,' a criticism in return for which Hadrian is said to have put him to death (LXIX.4).

31 II.9. (See vol. II p286, and vol. III p625.)

32 A long and bitter controversy appears to be at length put to rest by the attribution of the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus to the height now occupied by the Palazzo Caffarelli, and by placing the Arx where now stands the Church of Ara Coeli.

33 Via Bonella, Via Alessandrina, and so forth.

34 See vol. II p388.

35 The words of Vopiscus (Vita Probi, ii), 'Usus sum praecipue libris ex Bibliotheca Ulpia, aetate mea thermis Diocletianis,' have been interpreted as meaning that all the contents of Trajan's libraries had been transported to the Baths of Diocletian. I think, however, we may safely infer from Sidonius's verses about his statue,

'Inter auctores utriusque fixam


either that this removal had been only partial, or that at some time between 300 and 450 the books had been brought back to their original home.

Thayer's Note: Not long after Hodgkin wrote, what scholars had been increasingly suspecting over the centuries was conclusively confirmed — "Vopiscus" and the five other supposed writers of the Historia Augusta were fake personae, and the book itself not true history but a sort of elaborate fraud or if we wish to be charitable, a historical romance, in which facts are mixed in with a good deal of sometimes outrageous fictions; so that nothing in it should be believed if not otherwise confirmed. (For the details, see the excellent page at Livius.)

And here, Sidonius Apollinaris gives us something very much like the opposite of a confirmation: very likely, the libraries were not moved anywhere.

36 XVI.10.15.

37 Atrium.

38 'Pantheum velut regionem teretem speciosa celsitudine fornicatam' (Ammianus, XVI.10.14).

39 Now the Castle of S. Angelo.

40 Panis gradilis.

41 De Bello GotthicoI.3.


'Placidiae pia mens operis decus homne (sic) paterni

Gaudet pontificis studio splendere Leonis.'

(Inscription over the arch in S. Paolo fuori le Mura.)

43 See Freeman's Historical and Architectural Sketches, 213‑215, for an account of these transformations.

44 See a very complete list of the Tituli in Gregorovius, I.251‑259.º

45 Such are Santa Prassede, San Clemente, and Santa Agnese.

Thayer's Notes:

a A commonly-held idea. I don't like it: see my note elsewhere.

b Carried away by Hodgkin's prose, the reader must not imagine 87,000 defined individual seats. The figure, often given, is from the Regionaries, Reg. III (Jordan, Topographie, p544), where it it is given with no explanation, and probably is just intended as an estimate of seating capacity. A common modern estimate puts the figure at about 50,000.

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