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Book VI

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.
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please let me know!


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Book VI
Chapter 2

Book VI (continued)

Vol. V
Chapter I

The Alamannic Brethren


Sources: —

For the chief events recorded in this chapter we have the advantage of a strictly contemporary, though not always accurate, authority, Agathias, a poetical lawyer of Constantinople. Agathias was born, probably about 536, at the little town of Myrina, on the north-west coast of Asia Minor, just where the borders of Mysia and Lydia meet.​1 His father, who was an advocate, appears to have removed to Constantinople while Agathias was still a boy. The future historian studied law at Alexandria, but in the year 554 he returned to Constantinople, where he probably completed the usual five years' course of a barrister. When he was just about to pass his final examination he crossed the Golden Horn to Pera, then a quiet country retreat, in order that he might study undisturbed. He describes, with some poetic feeling, the fresh green of the woods around him, and the thickets made musical by the songs of goldfinches, but all these natural charms could not atone for the absence of his friend Paul the life-guardsman, to whom he was writing, or of his sweetheart, 'the slender antilope' Damalis.

He must have been successful in his studies, for he obtained the title 'Scholasticus,' which is practically equivalent to that  p4 of barrister, and his life was passed in the courts of law, but he gives us to understand that his heart was always not in law, but in literature. 'Writing history,' says he,​2 'is the greatest and noblest of all achievements, but with me it has to take the place of a mere side-pursuit and accessory of my life.​3 For when I would gladly have my spirit clear and my mind unruffled, in order that I might hold communion with the wise of old and catch something of their manner of speech, or else that I might inquire accurately into the precise circumstances of each event that I have to record, instead of this I have to sit in the law‑courts from dawn to dark, turning over parchments which are full of endless lawsuits. I am worried when clients come and beset me with their questions, but I am yet more worried when they leave me alone, for then I begin to despair of earning my daily bread.' Upon the whole he seems to have suffered more from clients than from the absence of clients, for he speaks of himself as having built a fine house, and the statues erected to him and to his father and brother at Myrina were an acknowledgment of important benefits conferred by him on his native town.

His first literary productions were amatory poems and epigrams, of which only a few survive, and with which we have here no concern. It was probably at the instigation of his friend Paul the life-guardsman that about the year 566 he conceived the idea of writing a history in continuation of the work of Procopius, and began to collect materials for that end. Some cause with which we are not acquainted, probably his death, prevented his completing his work. We have no information whatever as to the date of his death, and can only say that it must have been after 578, since he alludes to the death of Justin II, which occurred in that year, and which he intended to describe in his history.​4 But the history itself, which begins with the events of 533, ends abruptly with the repulse of Kotrigur Huns by Belisarius in 559.​5 Evidently the picture was not filled up according to the intention of the artist.

Owing to the inevitable comparison with Procopius, Agathias has scarcely received the credit to which he is justly entitled as a historian. He is undoubtedly too diffuse, too fond of interlarding  p5 his story with reflections, which are sometimes vapid and commonplace: his affection of an archaic style is often ridiculous and we are provoked when we find some rare and half-forgotten Homeric epithet thrust into the middle of what should be a plain narrative of a campaign in the sixth century after Christ. Thus we are not wholly indisposed to sympathize with Gibbon's sarcasm, 'We must now relinquish a statesman and soldier, to attend the footsteps of a poet and rhetorician.' But on the other hand there is something about the character of Agathias which tends to inspire us with confidence, with more confidence indeed than we can always give to the cynical and perhaps​6 insincere Procopius. Agathias, in the Introduction to his history, makes some remarks on the duty of the historian to inquire after truth without fear or favour. These remarks, if somewhat trite, teach a lesson which the partisan-historian, whether of the sixth century or the nineteenth, would have done well to lay to heart: and we have every reason to believe that Agathias has striven to practise his own precepts, and to convey to the mind of the reader la vraie vérité of the events which he records.​7 At the same time it must be admitted that his information, especially with reference to the affairs of the west of  p6 Europe, is often very imperfect, and that, partly from want of personal knowledge of the ground. His accounts of campaigns in Italy are sometimes confused and difficult to follow.

Remnants of the Gothic nation in Italy. The Goths, who had fought under their last king, Teias, at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, made, as the reader will remember, a compact with their conqueror Narses that they should receive certain sums of money, and march forth out of Italy to live as free men, somewhere among their barbarian kinsmen. Either similar conditions were not offered to the other Goths scattered up and down through Italy, or having been offered and accepted they had been afterwards repented of, for when the history of Agathias commences, the curtain rises on a number of detachments of Gothic soldiers, some settled in Tuscia and Liguria, some wandering about from city to city of Venetia, all of them bent on remaining in Italy, and equally determined to abjure the service of the Emperor. With this intent, knowing themselves to be too weak to fight the Emperor single-handed, they decided to make one more desperate appeal to the Franks.

As the history of Italy now becomes almost inextricably entwined with that of the Franks, and will so continue for a large part of the period embraced by this volume, it will be well briefly to summarize some of the chief events in Frankish history during the forty-three years which elapsed after the death of Clovis.

Frankish affairs. The founder of the Frankish monarchy, dying in 511, was succeeded by his four sons, who divided his  p7 unwieldy and ill‑compacted kingdom between them. The division was conducted on a most singular plan: all kinds of outlying cities and districts being allotted to each brother. It was perhaps not desired, certainly it was not attempted, to give to each brother a well-rounded territory with a defensible frontier. But as a mere approximation to the truth, we may say that the eldest son, Theodoric, received for his portion the country on both banks of the Rhine, Lorraine, Champagne and Auvergne, with the city of Metz for his capital. Chlodomir, from the city of Orleans, ruled the provinces watered by the Loire. Childebert had the country by the Seine, Brittany and Normandy, and Paris was his chief city. Chlotochar, the youngest of the brothers, but the one who was destined one day to reunite the whole inheritance, had his capital at Soissons, and governed the country by the Meuse and the plains of Flanders.

But the sons of Clovis had no intention of remaining satisfied with the ample dominions won by their father. In 523 the three younger brothers invaded the neighbouring kingdom of Burgundy, defeated its king, their cousin Sigismund, and seemed on the point of conquering the country. But the vigour of Sigismund's younger brother, Godomar, averted for a time the threatened calamity. In the battle of Veseronce, Chlodomir, the eldest of the three brothers, was slain, and his fall so discouraged the Franks that they fled from the field, and their army retired from the rescued land.8

Then followed a well-known domestic tragedy. The two royal brothers, Childebert and Chlotochar, determined  p8 to lay hands on the heritage of the dead Chlodomir, and for that purpose to put his little children out of the way. With cruel courtesy they sent a messenger to their mother, the aged Clotilda, to ask whether she would prefer that her grandchildren should receive the priestly tonsure or be slain with the sword, and when she in her agony cried out, 'I would rather see them slain than shorn of their royal locks,' they chose to consider this as sanctioning their crime, and slew the children with their own hands, the cold-blooded, saturnine Chlotochar preventing his brother, the weaker villain of the two, from faltering in the execution of their common purpose.

In 531 Theodoric overthrew the kingdom of the Thuringians, defeating and slaying Hermanfrid, who had married Amalaberga, the niece of the great Theodoric.9

In 532 a fresh invasion of Burgundy was begun, Theodoric apparently now joining his younger brothers in the enterprise. This invasion was ultimately, though not immediately, successful. In 534, Godomar was defeated while attempting to raise the siege of Autun, and the Frankish kings divided his dominions between them.​10 Henceforward Burgundy was 'a geographical expression' — of much historical interest indeed, and with wide and varying boundaries — but no longer a national kingdom.

The Frankish tribe had now subjected to themselves almost the whole of the fair land which to‑day goes by their name, together with a vast extent of territory  p9 in what we now call Germany. We may omit for the present further reference to the concerns of western Gaul, not troubling ourselves with the feuds and reconciliations of Childebert and Chlotochar, and may concentrate our attention on the kings of Metz, or, as they were perhaps already called, the kings of Austrasia (Eastern-land).

Theudebert, King of Austrasia, 534‑548. Theodoric died in 534, apparently before the conquest of Burgundy was completed, and was succeeded by his son Theudebert,​11 who hastened home from his camp when he heard of his father's sickness, and by prompt action and timely liberality to his leudes (the warrior-chiefs who stood nearest to his throne), defeated his uncles' endeavours to possess themselves of his inheritance. For Theudebert was no puny boy, to be thrust contemptuously into a cloister, as had been done with St. Cloud, the only one of the sons of Chlodomir who escaped his uncles' daggers. He was a bold and enterprising prince,​12 with far‑reaching schemes of conquest and government, dreaming of invasions of Moesia and Thrace, accomplishing the subjection of his haughty Frankish warriors to a land‑tax, and issuing — the first barbarian king who took so much upon him — gold coins like those of the Emperor, with his own name and effigy.13

Theudebert's connexion with Italian affairs. The sore troubles of the Ostrogothic people, caused  p10 by Belisarius's invasion of Italy, brought much increase of power to their Frankish neighbours. We have seen that Witigis in the autumn of 546, or ever he marched to his fatal siege of Rome, ceded to them Provence and all the countries on the lower course of the Rhone, which had formed part of the kingdom of Theodoric, and at the same time handed over £80,000 from the Gothic to the Frankish treasury. At this crisis also we have reason to believe that the protection which the Ostrogothic monarchy had afforded to the Alamanni and the Bavarians in the province of Raetia was withdrawn,​14 and that they too were absorbed in the great Frankish monarchy which now stretched over the larger part of southern Germany till it reached the frontier of Pannonia.15

The long siege of Rome ended, as we have seen, in the spring of 538, disastrously for the Gothic besiegers. But the one event which shed a momentary gleam of prosperity on their cause was the capture of the great city of Milan (which had welcomed an imperial garrison), after a siege which lasted about half a year. This capture was accomplished by the aid of 10,000 Burgundians, subjects of King Theudebert, whom he had permitted to cross the Alps, and serve under the Ostrogothic standards, while representing to the ambassadors of Justinian that they went of their  p11 own free will, and that he was not responsible for their action. The very suggestion of such an excuse shows how little solidarity as yet existed in the great unwieldy mass of the Frankish dominions.16

Soon, however, this pretence of feebleness was laid aside, and in the same year which witnessed the fall of Milan, Theudebert descended the Alps with 100,000 men, prepared to make war impartially on both the combatants, shedding Gothic and Greek blood with equal unconcern, but determined to pluck out of their calamities no small advantage for himself. Their savage deeds at Pavia, their rout of both armies under the walls of Tortona, the pestilence which carried off a third of their number, as they lay encamped on the plains of Liguria, and compelled their return to their own land, have already been described.​17 It seems clear, however, that though Theudebert returned to the north of the Alps, he did not relinquish all the advantages which he had gained. It is true that Witigis in the supreme moment of the Gothic despair, just before the surrender of Ravenna, refused to avoid submission to Justinian by accepting the dangerous help of Theudebert,​18 but that refusal did not compel the entire evacuation of Italy by the Franks. Even Procopius, who dislikes that nation and seeks to minimize their success, admits that the larger part of Venetia, a good deal of Liguria, and the province known as Alpes Cottiae​19 were retained by Theudebert.20

A king whose unscrupulous energy had so greatly  p12 enlarged the borders of his realm, a king who, more than any other of his kindred, reproduced the type of character seen in their great ancestor Clovis, was probably obeyed with enthusiasm by his barbarous subjects, and was disposed to hold his head high among the monarchs of the world. He watched the gallant defence of the Gothic nation made by Totila perhaps with increasing sympathy, certainly with increasing dislike for the arrogant pretensions which, both in victory and in defeat, were urged by Justinian. Theudebert's indignation at the titles assumed by Justinian. For Justinian, so Theudebert was truly told, called himself (as in the well-known preface to the Institutes) 'victor of the Franks and the Alamanni, of the Gepidae and the Langobardi,' and added many other proud titles derived from conquered and enslaved peoples.​21 Why should this pampered Eastern despot, who had never himself set armies in the field, nor felt the shock of battle, give himself out as the lord of so many brave nations, the least of whose chieftains was a better man than he?​22 Such were the self-colloquies that set the brain of Theudebert on fire. He contemplated a sort of league of the new barbarian kingdoms,  p13 Frankish, Gepid, Langobard, to quell the arrogance of the Emperor, and he would probably have led an army into Thrace or Illyria — who can say with what result? — but that all his great projects were cut short by his early death. Death of Theudebert, 548. The authorities differ as to the cause of this premature ending of what might have been a great career. Both Procopius​23 and Gregory of Tours​24 attribute it to lingering disease; but Agathias, who is singularly well informed on Frankish affairs, says that when Theudebert was hunting in the forest, a buffalo which he was about to pierce with his javelin, rushed towards him, overthrowing a tree by the fury of its onset. Not the stroke of the buffalo's horns, but the crash of a branch of the tree on the king's head, gave him a fatal wound, of which he died on the same day.25

Accession of Theudebald. But whatever the cause of death, the gallant king of the eastern Franks was dead, and his son, a sickly and feeble child named Theudebald, sat on his throne.​26 To him, as we have seen,​27 Justinian sent an embassy in 551, endeavouring to persuade him to recall his troops from northern Italy. The ambassador, Leontius,  p14 returned unsuccessful; but though the Frankish soldiers remained south of the Alps, guarding the territories which they had won, they do not appear to have rendered any effective assistance to Totila or Teias in the last struggle of those brave men for Gothic independence.

Embassy from the Goths of Italy to the Court of Theudebald. And now, in the early months of 553, when Teias had met a warrior's death in sight of the cone of Vesuvius, another embassy came from the slender remnant of the Goths who still held out in Upper Italy,​28 beseeching the Frankish king to undertake the champion­ship of their cause. According to the report of the speech supplied — possibly from his own imagination — by Agathias, the ambassadors implored the Franks in their own interest not to allow this all‑devouring Emperor to destroy the last relics of the Gothic name. If they did, they would soon have cause bitterly to repent it, for, the Goths once rooted out, it would be the turn of the Franks next. The Empire would never lack specious pretexts for a quarrel, but would go back, if need were, to the times of Camillus or Marius for a grievance against the inhabitants of Gaul. Even thus had the Emperors treated the Goths, permitting, nay inviting their King Theodoric to enter Italy and root out the followers of Odovacar, and then, on the most shadowy and unjust pretexts, invading their land, butchering their sons, and selling their wives and daughters into slavery. And yet these Emperors called themselves wise and religious men, and boasted that they alone could rule  p15 a kingdom righteously. 'Help us,' said the Gothic orators, in conclusion, 'help us in this crisis of our fortunes; so shall you earn the everlasting gratitude of our nation, and enrich yourselves with enormous wealth, not only the spoils of the Romans, but the treasures of the great Gothic hoard, which we will gladly make over to you.29

Theudebald declines to help the Goths. The appeal of the Goths fell on unheeding ears, as far as the Frankish king was concerned. The timid and delicate Theudebald shrank from the hardships of war, and had none of his father's desire to measure his strength against Justinianus Francicus et Alamannicus. But there were two chieftains standing beside his throne, whose eyes gleamed at the mention of the spoils of Italy, and who — so loosely compacted was the great congeries of states which called itself the kingdom of the Franks — could venture to undertake on their own responsibility the war which Theudebald declined. Leuthar and Butilin, chiefs of the Alamanni, accept the Gothic invitation. These were two brothers named Leuthar​30 and Butilin, who were leaders of that great Alamannic tribe which, as we have seen, after being after being protected by Theodoric against Clovis,​31 had recently received the Frank instead of the Goth for their over-lord. A wild and savage people they were, still heathen, worshipping trees and mountains and waterfalls (in those Alamanni who dwelt in Switzerland, such nature-worship was  p16 perhaps excusable), cutting off the heads of horses and oxen, and offering them in sacrifice to their gods, but gradually becoming slightly more civilized owing to their contact with the Franks. Deep, indeed, must have been the barbarism of that nation which could gain any increased softness of manners from intercourse with the Franks of the sixth century.32

Thus then, with high hopes and confident of victory the two chiefs at the head of their barbarous hordes rushed down into Italy. Already they saw in imagination the whole fair peninsula their own; they discussed the question of the conquest of Sicily; they marvelled at the slackness of the Goths who had allowed themselves to be conquered by such a delicate and womanish thing, such a haunter of the thalamus, such a mere shadow of a man as the Eunuch Narses.​33 The despised general was, however, meanwhile pressing on the war with the utmost vigour, in order to obtain the surrender of the fortresses still held for the Goths in Etruria and Campania, before their barbarian allies could appear upon the scene. His chief  p17 endeavours were directed to procure the early surrender of Cumae, where Aligern, the brother of Teias, still guarded the Gothic hoard, and in order that no point in the game might be lost, he superintended the siege in person.

Siege of Cumae by Narses. The city of Cumae, founded by settlers from Euboea on a promontory just outside the bay of Naples, was for many generations the stronghold of Hellenic civilisation in southern Italy, and it was from her walls that the emigrants went forth to found that colony of Neapolis which was one day so immeasurably to surpass the greatness of the mother-city. For two centuries (700‑500 B.C.) Cumae successfully resisted the attacks of her Etruscan neighbours, but at last (about 420 B.C.) she was stormed by the Samnite mountaineers, and from that day her high place in history knew her no more. Now, after so many centuries, the half-forgotten Campanian city became once more the theatre of mighty deeds; and even as the fortress on the lonely promontory saw the waves of the Mediterranean breaking on the rocks at its foot, so were Narses and his Greek-speaking host now foiled by the very fortress which had once sheltered the Greek against the Etruscan.

The old city of Cumae, which stretched down into the plain, had probably vanished long before the Gothic war began: at any rate it seems to have been the rock-perched citadel, not the city, which Narses had now to besiege. The chief gate of the fortress was situated on its least inaccessible, south-eastern side,​34 and against this the chief efforts of the besiegers  p18 were directed. The mighty engines of the Imperial army discharged their huge missiles, but were met by equally formidable preparations on the part of the besieged, who from their ramparts hurled great stones, trunks of trees, axes, whatever came readiest to hand, upon the ranks of the besiegers. It is strange that we hear nothing of Herodian, that deserter from the Imperial cause,​35 whose utter despair of forgiveness must surely have made him one of the chief leaders of the fierce resistance. Aligern, the youngest brother of Teias, strode around the ramparts, not only cheering on the defenders but setting them an example of warlike prowess. The arrows shot from his terrible bow broke even stones to splinters: and when a certain Palladius, one of the chief officers of Narses, trusting too confidently in his iron breastplate, came rushing to the walls at the head of one of the storming parties, Aligern took careful aim at him from the ramparts, and transfixed him with an arrow which pierced both shield and breastplate.

The Sibyl's Cave. This long delay before so comparatively insignificant a fortress chaffed the Eunuch's soul, and he began to meditate other schemes for its reduction. The trachyte rock on which Cumae stands is still honeycombed with caves and grottoes, and one of these at the south-eastern corner of the cliffs, which bore the name of Virgil's Sibyl, was so situated that the walls of the fortress at that point actually rested on its roof.36  p19 Into this grotto Narses sent a troop of sappers and miners, who with their mining tools hewed away the rock above them, till the foundation stones of the walls of the fortress were actually visible. They were of course careful to underpin the roof with wooden beams so that no premature subsidence should reveal their operations, and to prevent the noise of their tools from being heard the troops made perpetual alarums and excursions against that part of the wall while the work was proceeding. At length, when all was completed, the workmen set fire to a mass of dry leaves and other rubbish which they had collected within it and fled from the Sibyl's cavalry. As a piece of engineering the work was successful. The walls began slowly to sink into the ground: the great gate, tightly barred against the enemy, fell, carrying a large piece of the wall with it: base and wall, cornice and battlement, rolled down the cliffs into the gorge below.​37 And yet, when the Imperial troops were hoping to press in through the breach thus made, and capture the fortress as if with a shout, they were baulked of their desire. For such was the nature of the igneous rock on which the citadel was built, so seamed with cracks and fissures, that when this piece of the wall was gone, there was still a narrow ravine, steep and untraversable, intervening between  p20 them and the towers in which lay hidden the Gothic hoard.

Siege of Cumae turned into a blockade. Foiled in this endeavour and in one more attempt to carry the fortress by storm, Narses was reluctantly compelled to turn the siege into a blockade. He left a considerable body of troops who surrounded the citadel with a deep ditch and watched, to cut off any of the garrison who might wander faith in search of fodder. Narses himself, still anxious to complete as far as possible the subjugation of Italy ere Leuthar and Butilin, who had already reached the Po, should penetrate further into the peninsula, marched into Tuscia to reduce the cities in that province, while he directed the other generals to cross the Apennines, occupy the strongest places in the valley of the Po, and, without risking a general engagement, harass the enemy as much as possible by skirmishing warfare.

These generals were of course chiefly those with whom we have already made acquaintance in the course of the Gothic war.

Imperial Generals. There was John, the nephew of Vitalian, the old ally of Narses against Belisarius, the kinsman of Justinian through his marriage with the daughter of Germanus.​38 There were the ineffective Valerian,​39 and Artabanes the Armenian prince whom Justinian had so generously forgiven for his share in a foul conspiracy against his life.​40 But there was not the king of the Heruli, Philemuth,​41 whose name had been so often coupled with theirs, for he had died of disease a few days previously and had been succeeded in the command of the 3,000 Herulian foederati by his  p21 nephew Phulcaris, a brave soldier but an unskilful general.

Siege of Lucca. Most of the cities of Etruria surrendered speedily to the Imperial officers. Centumcellae,​42 'lordly Volaterrae,' Luna, Florence, Pisa, all opened their gates, on condition that they were to be treated as friends of their restored lord and not to suffer pillage from his troops. There was one exception which caused the impatient Narses some days of tedious delay. The garrison of Lucca had pledged themselves to surrender their city within thirty days if no succour reached them, and had given hostages for the fulfilment of their promise. But when the specified days had passed, being elated by the hope of the speedy arrival of the Alamannic host, they refused to keep their pledge. At this there were loud and angry voices in Imperial camp, calling for the slaughter of the hostages. But Narses, though chaffing at the delay, could not bring himself to kill these men for the fault of their fellows. He determined, however, to work upon the fears of the garrison and therefore ordered the hostages to be brought out into the plain with their hands tied behind their backs, their heads bent forward, and all the appearance of criminals awaiting execution. As the threat of punishment did not shake the resolution of the garrison he proceeded to a sham execution of his prisoners. The soldiers on the walls could see their friends kneeling down as if for death, and the executioners with their bright blades standing over each. They could not see, for the comedy was enacted too far from their walls, that each prisoner had in  p22 fact a wooden lath fastened to the nape of his neck and covered with an apparent head-dress projecting above his real head. The town would not surrender, the bright swords flashed, the heads of the hostages were apparently severed from their bodies: obedient to the word of command they fell prostrate on the ground and after a few well-feigned wrigglings all apparently was over.

Then arose from the walls of Lucca a cry of agony and indignation. The hostages were among the noblest of the Gothic host, and while their mothers and wives gashed their faces and rent their garments in grief, the soldiers, with shrill cries, exclaimed against the hard and arrogant heart of the Eunuch who had put so many brave men to death, and against the disgusting hypocrisy of the votary of the Virgin, who had shed so much innocent Christian blood. Narses thereupon drew near to the walls and severely rebuked the garrison for the breach of faith which had been the cause of this slaughter. 'But even now,' said he, if you will repent of your evil deeds and surrender the city according to your promise, no harm shall happen to you, and you shall receive your friends once more alive from the dead.' 'Agreed! agreed!' shouted the garrison, 'the city shall be thine if thou canst call the dead back to life.' With that Narses bade his prostrate prisoners arise and marched them all up to the wall of the city. The garrison, who were dimly conscious of trick that had been played upon them, again went back from their plighted word and refused to surrender the city. Then Narses, with really astonishing magnanimity, sent the hostages all back, unharmed and unransomed, to their Gothic friends. Even the  p23 garrison marvelled: but he said to them: 'It is not my way to raise fond hopes and then to dash them to the ground. And it is not upon the hostages that I rely: it is this,' and therewith he touched his sword, 'which shall soon reduce you to submission.' But, in fact, the liberated and grateful hostages, moving about among their fellow-countrymen and telling every one of the courtesy and affability of their late captor and the mingled mercy and justice of his rule, soon formed a strong Imperialist party within the walls of Lucca and familiarised the minds of the garrison with the thought of surrender.

Death of Phulcaris the Herulian. While Narses was still busied with the siege of Lucca, an unexpected disaster befell a portion of his army. He had ordered his chief generals, John, Artabanes, Phulcaris, to concentrate his forces for the capture of Parma, in order that, from that strong city, placed as it was right across the great Aemilian Way, they might effectually bar the march of the Franks and Alamanni into central and southern Italy, and cover his own operations before the walls of Lucca. The other generals would seem to have performed at any rate part of their march in safety, but the unfortunate Herulian, Phulcaris, moving blindly forward, without making any proper reconnaissance, fell headlong into a trap prepared for him by Butilin, who had posted a considerable body of troops in the Amphitheatre near the town. At a given signal these men rushed forth and fell upon the Herulians who were marching along the highway in careless disorder. Fearful butchery was followed by disgraceful flight: only the brave blunderer Phulcaris and his comitatus remained upon the field. They took up a position in  p24 front of a lofty tomb which bordered on the Aemilian, as that of Caecilia Metella borders on the Appian Way, and there prepared to die the death of soldiers. They made many a fierce and murderous onslaught on their foes, returning in an ever-narrower circle to the momentary shelter of their tomb. Still flight was possible, and some of the henchmen of Phulcaris advised him to fly. But he, who feared dishonour more than death, answered them, 'And how then should I abide the speech of Narses when he chides me for the carelessness which has brought about this calamity?' And therewith he sallied forth again to the combat, but was speedily over­powered by numbers. His breast was pierced by many javelins, his head was cloven by a Frankish battle‑axe, and he fell dead upon his unsurrendered shield. All his henchmen were seen lying dead around him, some having perished by their own swords and some by the weapons of the enemy.

Effect of the tidings on Narses. The defeat and death of Phulcaris seemed as if it would turn the whole tide of war. The Franks were beyond measure elated by their success. The Goths of Aemilia and Liguria, who had before only corresponded with them in secret, now openly fell away to the invaders. And the Imperial generals, losing heart when they heard of the Herulian's misfortune, relinquished the march upon Parma and skulked off to Faventia,​43 some hundred miles or so further down the Aemilian Way and almost in sight of Ravenna. Great was the grief and indignation of Narses when he heard of the death of the brave Herulian and the cowardly retreat of the generals. It seemed as if he might have to raise the tedious  p25 siege of Lucca, deprived as he now was of his covering army; and what was worse, the dejection and discouragement of his own soldiers when they heard the fatal tidings, appeared to forebode yet further disasters. But the little withered Eunuch had in him a dauntless heart and was inclined by nature to follow the advice given to Aeneas by the Sibyl of Cumae —

'The mightier ills thy course oppose

Press the more boldly on thy foes.'​44

First he called his own troops together and addressed them in tones of rough but spirit-stirring eloquence. He told them that they had been spoiled by an unbroken course of victory, and were now ascribing an absurd importance to one solitary defeat, the result of a barbarian's neglect of the rules of scientific warfare. Nay, this very disaster if it taught them prudence and moderation in the hour of success would be well worth its cost. The Goths were really already subdued; they had only the Franks to deal with, strangers to the land, ill‑supplied with provisions, and destitute of the shelter of fortified towns which the Imperial troops enjoyed. Only let them address themselves with vigour to the siege of Lucca, and they would soon see a satisfactory end to their labours. The words of the general revived the fainting spirits of his army, and the siege was pressed more closely than ever.

Stephanus sent to the generals at Faventia. At the same time Narses sent a certain Stephanus of Dyrrhachium, with 200 horsemen, brave in battle, to chide the timid generals who were cowering behind the walls of Faventia. Stephanus had been charged  p26 with a message of fierce rebuke, and the sights and sounds which he saw as he marched through the devastated land, the ruined homesteads, the felled forests, the wailing of the peasantry, the lowing of the cattle driven from their stalls, all gave vehemence to his discourse: 'What spell had come upon you, good sirs? Where is the memory of your former deeds? How can Narses take Lucca and complete the subjugation of Etruria while you are selling the passage over Italy to the foe? I should not like to use the words "cowardice" and "treason," but be assured that others will be less fastidious, and if you do not at once march to Parma and take your allotted share in the campaign, it is not the indignation of Narses merely, but the heavy hand of the Emperor, that you may expect to encounter.'

The generals faltered out their excuses for their inaction. No pay had been received for the troops, and the entire failure of the commissariat, for which they blamed Antiochus, the Praetorian Prefect, who had not fulfilled his promises towards them, had compelled them to relinquish the camp at Parma. There was apparently some ground for these complaints, and accordingly Stephanus betook himself straightway to Ravenna. Having brought back with him Antiochus, and presumably some of the much needed aurei, having composed the differences between the civil and military authorities, and ordered the generals to march without further delay to Parma, Stephanus returned to camp and assured Narses that he might now prosecute the siege with confidence as the returning generals would effectually secure him from the attacks of the barbarians. The Eunuch brought  p27 up his engines close to the walls, and poured a terrible shower of stones and darts upon the garrison who manned the battlements. There was division in the counsels of the besieged, the liberated hostages strongly urging the expediency of surrender to their magnanimous foe, while some Frankish officers​45 who happened to be in the city exhorted the Gothic garrison to resist with greater pertinacity than ever. But the complete failure of a sortie planned by the party of resistance, the terrible gaps made by the besiegers' engines in the ranks of the besieged, and the ruin of a portion of the city walls completed the victory of the party of surrender. Surrender of Lucca, Narses received their overtures gladly, showing no sign of resentment at the previous dishonourable conduct of the garrison. The siege, which had lasted three months, was ended; the Imperial troops entered the gates amid the acclamations of the inhabitants, and Lucca was once more a city of the Roman Empire.

and of Cumae. The surrender of Lucca was followed by a more important event of the same kind, the surrender of Cumae. In the long hours of the blockade, Aligern had had leisure to reflect on the past and to ponder the future of the Gothic race in Italy, and he perceived more and more clearly that the Frankish alliance which his countrymen were so eager to accept meant not alliance but domination. The part which the great Transalpine nation would play in the affairs of Italy was already marked out for it, not by any great  p28 moral turpitude of its own, but by geographical position and by the inevitable laws of human conduct. They would offer themselves as champions and remain as masters, would undertake to free Italy 'from the Alps to the Adriatic,' and would, if they were victorious, make it not free but Frankish.​46 Of the two lordships, the choice between which alone lay before him, Aligern preferred that which, though practically wielded from Constantinople, was exercised in the name of Rome, which rested on a legitimate foundation, and was still in accordance with the wishes of the people of the land. Influenced by these self-reasonings he signified to the besieging general his desire to visit Narses. A safe-conduct was gladly granted him and he repaired to Classis, where the Eunuch was then abiding. He produced the keys of his rock-fortress, handed them over to Narses, and promised to become the loyal subject of the Emperor, a promise which he faithfully kept, so that, as we shall see hereafter, in the decisive battle with the Alamannic invaders, Justinian had no braver champion than the Ostrogoth, the brother of Teias.

Aligern, governor of Cesena. A portion of the army which had been besieging Cumae was ordered to occupy that fortress, the great Gothic hoard being of course handed over at once to the finance-ministers of the Empire. Aligern received  p29 the post of governor of Cesena, which is situated on the great Aemilian Way, about twenty miles south of Ravenna. Narses desired him to show himself conspicuously on the wall, that all men know and perceive that the former champion of the Goths was now the champion of Rome. An excellent opportunity soon arrived for this display of himself in his new character. The Franco-Alamannic host arrived under the walls of Cesena, marching southward, intent on the plunder of Campania. They beheld to their astonishment the stalwart figure of Gothic Aligern erect upon the walls of this Imperial city, and heard his words of scorn shouted down from his airy pinnacle:​47 'You are going on a fool's errand, oh ye Franks, and are come a day after the feast. All the Gothic hoard has been taken by the Romans, yea, and the ensigns of the Gothic sovereignty. If we should ever hereafter proclaim a king of the Goths he will wear no crown or torque of gold, thanks to our Frankish allies, but will have to be dressed as a private soldier.' Then the Franks upbraided him for a deserter and traitor; and they debated among themselves whether it was worth while to continue the war; but they decided in the end not to relinquish their project, and marched on for the Flaminian Way and the passage of the Apennines.

Narses goes into winter quarters. Winter was now coming on and the chief care of Narses was to house his troops in the fortified cities of Italy. He knew that he was thus surrendering the open country to the ravages of the Alamannic brethren, but this seemed a lesser evil than keeping his men, children of the south and dependent on warmth,  p30 shivering through the winter in the open fields, while the Franks, still fresh from the chilly north and from the marshes of the Scheldt, sustained no inconvenience and felt no hardship. He himself repaired to Rimini with his train of household troops in order to receive the military oath from Theudebald, king of the Warni, swears fealty to the Emperor. Theudebald, king of the Warni (a namesake of the young king of the Austrasian Franks), who had just succeeded to the wandering royalty of his father Wakar, a chieftain in the Imperial army. Simultaneously with the administration of the oath,​48 presents were given in the Emperor's name to the young king, and perhaps a donative to all the tribesmen who followed his standard, and thus the bond (for it is difficult to find a suitable name) that united these Germans from the distant Elbe to 'the Roman Republic' was strengthened and renewed.49

Skirmish between Narses and the Franks. While Narses was still quartered at Rimini, a band of Franks, 2,000 in number, horsemen and foot-soldiers combined, poured over the plain busied in their work of rapine. From his chamber at top of the house Narses, with indignant heart, beheld them ravaging the fields, driving off the oxen (those great dun‑coloured oxen which plough the fields of Umbria), and carrying away the spoil from hamlet and villa. At length he could bear it no longer, but mounting his war‑horse (high-couraged, but trained to perfect  p31 obedience) and gathering round him his followers to the number of 300 horsemen, he rode in pursuit of the marauders. Too wise in war to allow themselves to be vanquished in detail, the Franks left their work of spoliation and formed themselves into a compact mass, the infantry in the centre resting on a dense forest and the cavalry covering the two wings. Narses soon found that his horsemen could make no impression on this small but cleverly posted army, but rather that his own men were suffering from the discharge of the barbed Frankish spears.​50 Hereupon he resorted to a stratagem which his admirer, Agathias, confesses  p32 to have been of the barbaric type, and more suited to a Hunnish chief than to an Imperial general. He ordered his men to feign panic and flight, and not to return till he gave the signal. The device, however barbaric, justified itself by its success. The Franks, thinking that they saw a chance of ending the war at one stroke by the capture of the great Imperial general, left the safe shelter of the wood and dashed forward in eager pursuit. When all, cavalry and infantry alike, were hurrying in disorder over the plain, Narses gave the signal for return, and the Franks, dreaming of easy victory, found themselves being butchered like sheep by the well-armed and well-mounted horsemen. The cavalry, indeed, made good their return to the wood, but of the infantry 900 fell and the rest with difficulty escaped, disheartened and panic-breeding, to the camp of their generals.

Narses at Ravenna and Rome. After this Narses returned to Ravenna, set in order whatever had gone wrong under the feeble rule of Antiochus,​51 and went thence to Rome, where he passed the winter. For a few months, the land, though disquieted by the marauding invaders, had rest from actual war.

Drilling of the Imperial troops. The interval of rest was employed by Narses in patient and systematic drill of his troops. The arm on which he most relied seems to have been his cavalry; at least we hear how his men were taught to spring nimbly on their horses, and to wheel them to the right or to the left. But the pyrrhic dance, of  p33 which we also hear, was probably performed by the heavy-armed foot-soldier; and all, horsemen and footmen alike, raised in unison the barritus (that proudly ascending war‑song), when the spirit-stirring notes of the trumpet were heard challenging them to this martial melody.​52 Barbarian devastation. Meanwhile the barbarian armies, like two desolating streams of lava, were pouring over the unhappy peninsula. Keeping far from Rome and the fortresses in its neighbourhood, they marched in company as far as Samnium. There they separated, and Butilin, taking the western coast-road, ravaged Campania, Lucania, Bruttii, down to the very Straits of Messina; while Leuthar, marching down by the Adriatic, visited, in his destructive career, Apulia and Calabria, penetrating as far as the city of Otranto. All were bent on plunder, but a difference was observed between the two invading nationalities whenever they drew near to consecrated buildings. The Franks, mindful of their reputation for Christian orthodoxy, did, as a rule, spare the churches, while the heathen or heretic Alamanni seemed to delight in filling the sacred precincts with filth and gore and the unburied carcases of their victims. They stripped off the roofs and shook the foundations of the churches, and the sacred bowls, the chalices, the patens, and the vessels for holy water, which were often of solid gold, were recklessly carried off to minister to the vulgar pomp of some barbarian chieftain.53

 p34  The Alamannic brethren divide. 554 Seven hundred and sixty‑one years before, two brothers (but how different from this pair of blundering barbarians) had led two armies into Italy, hoping, by a combined effort, to crush out the name of Rome. Fortunately for the Imperial cause, the folly and the avarice of the Alamannic brethren brought about now that division of their forces which, in the case of Hannibal and Hasdrubal, was only accomplished by the desperately bold strategy of the consuls who conquered at the Metaurus. Leuthar was anxious to return to his barbarian home (perhaps somewhere in the Black Forest), and there store up in safety the spoils of Italy. Butilin, when he received his brother's message to this effect, refused to return, alleging the specious pretext of the alliance with the Goths, to which their oaths were plighted. The result was that Leuthar set forth on his northward march alone, intending, however, when he had safely housed his captives and his spoil, to return with an army to the help of his brother.

Leuthar's disaster at Fanum. For some distance Leuthar and his army, though encumbered with spoil and captives, marched on in safety; but when they reached the Fane of Fortune,​54 at the mouth of the Metaurus, disaster befell them. The Imperial generals, Artabanes and Uldac the Hun, were quartered in the little town of Pisaurum,​55 about seven miles to the north of Fanum. When these generals saw the van of the Frankish host approaching and making their way with difficulty over the rocky  p35 headlands, they fell suddenly upon them, slew many with their swords, and forced the others to scramble down the steep and slippery sides of the cliff. The paths were so precipitous that a great number of the fugitives fell headlong into the Adriatic waves below. The few who did escape rushed back to Fanum and filled all the barbarian camp with their terrified shouts: 'The Romans are upon us.' Leuthar drew out his army in battle array, expecting an attack, but this the Imperial generals did not feel themselves strong enough to make. When, however, the soldiers, renouncing the thought of battle, returned to their quarters, they found that the greater number of their captives had taken advantage of the alarm to decamp, carrying with them no small part of the spoil.

Leuthar dies of the plague. Fearing the Imperial armies stationed in the fortresses of the Adriatic, Leuthar and his men turned inland and pursued their march along the base of the Apennines.​56 At length they crossed the Po, and came into Venetia, which was now a recognised part of the Frankish kingdom. Here, at length, at Ceneda, under the shadow of the Dolomites, the baneful career of Leuthar came to a fitting end. His army was attacked by a pestilence — the punishment, Agathias thinks, of their cruel and sacrilegious deeds. Some showed symptoms of fever, some of apoplexy, some of other forms of brain-disease, but, whatever form the sickness might assume, it was invariably fatal. The leader was attacked as well as his men, and in his case some of the symptoms seem to point  p36 to delirium tremens. He rolled himself on the ground, uttering fearful cries; he tore the flesh of his own arms with his teeth; and then, like some savage beast, licked the flowing gore. Thus, in uttermost misery, he died — neither the first nor the last of the invaders upon whom the climate of Italy has taken a terrible revenge for her ravaged homesteads.

Butilin marches to the Vulturnus. We have seen how the debased copy of Hasdrubal suffered defeat by the Metaurus; now we have to mark the reverse which befell the other brother near the equally fatal Capua. The army of Butilin, like that of Leuthar, suffered grievously from pestilence. Summer had now ripened into autumn, and the barbarians, unable to procure wholesome food in their marches — the country having been wasted by order of the provident Narses — partook too freely of the fruit which they found in the orchards and of the must which they pressed for themselves out of abundant clusters of the grapes of Campania. Butilin, seeing that his forces were simply wasting away under the influence of disease, determined to strike a blow for Rome, while he still had something that could be called an army. With this view, he marched northward and fixed his camp on the banks of the Vulturnus,​57 not far from Capua.

Topography of Capua. A word or two must be said as to the topography of this city, the capital of Campania, once the second city of Italy, and one which, in the days of the Second Punic War, nourished ambitious hopes of outstripping even Rome. The Capua of mediaeval and modern times, the Capua which gave its title to a prince of  p37 the Royal Family of Naples, and which is surrounded by lunettes and bastions after the manner of Vauban, is situated close to the Vulturnus, on its left bank. This city, however, corresponds not to the Capua of Hannibal or of Narses, but to the little subject town of Casilinum. The older Capua​58 lay about three miles to the south-east, away from the river, in the midst of the fruitful Campanian plain, and of course upon the great Appian Way. It had two spacious squares, — the Albana, the centre of the political life of the city, which contained the senate house and the place of popular assembly, and the Seplasia, the great commercial centre, where men bought and sold the earthenware, the wine, the oil, and pre‑eminently the precious ointments for which Capua was famous on all the shores of the Mediterranean. Just outside the town, at its north-west corner, was the great amphitheatre, built, or at any rate restored, by Hadrian, with dimensions closely corresponding to those of the Colosseum at Rome, and capable of accommodating 60,000 spectators, but the present ruins of which are less than half the height of the ruins of its Roman rival. All round the town are the multitudinous graves, in which archaeologists have been excavating for a century, leaving many still unexplored. The earthenware vases and ornaments of bronze and gold found in these sepulchres, and bearing witness to the three civilisations — Etruscan, Samnite, Roman — whose influence has passed over Capua, are to be found in large numbers in the museums of England and Italy.59  p38 The city in old days abounded in temples, and one, the greatest of all, that of Diana, stood on the commanding eminence of Mount Tifata, some two or three miles to the north of Capua. The thick forests which surrounded it have long ago been felled; the substructures of the temple are still visible, but its pillars now (apparently) adorn the very interesting eleventh-century basilica of S. Angelo in Formis, which stands near the site of the ancient temple.60

Butilin's preparations for defence. In this neighbourhood then Butilin pitched his camp, but as he was close to the river he was probably nearer to Casilinum (the site of modern Capua) than to Capua Vetere. Though had he had 30,000 men under him and the army of Narses numbered only 18,000, he entrenched himself like one in presence of an overwhelming danger. All round his camp, except at one narrow gateway, he planted the heavy waggons which had thus far accompanied his army.​61 To prevent the enemy from putting horses to these waggons and drawing them away, he ordered that they should be banked up with earth as high as the axles of the wheels, and the rude agger  p39 thus formed was fortified with stakes. The river guarded his right flank, but in order to defend himself from an attack by way of the bridge he ordered a wooden tower to be erected, which he manned with some of the most warlike of his troops. Having made all these arrangements he waited for the arrival of the brother whom he was never again to behold.

Battle of Capua. Instead of Leuthar, Narses soon appointed upon the scene, having marched with all his army from Rome. Great was the excitement in both armies at the thought of the now imminent battle. Almost equally great was the excitement throughout the cities of Italy, at the prospect of the speedy decision of the question whether Justinian or Theudebald was to be their future lord. The engagement was hastened by an impulse of generous indignation. Narses could not bear to witness the Frankish ravage of the villages of Campania, and ordered Charanges the Armenian, a brave and war‑wise officer, whose tents were pitched nearest to the foe, to chastise their presumption. The horsemen of Charanges easily overtook the creaking wains in which the Alamanni were carrying off the plunder of Campania, and slew their drivers. One of these waggons was filled with very dry hay, and by a happy inspiration Charanges ordered that it should be driven up close to the wooden bridge-tower and then set on fire. The fire caught, the garrison were obliged to evacuate the tower and rush to their comrades in the camp and the bridge fell into the hands of the Romans. The mingled rage and terror which was thus engendered in the Frankish host compelled their generals to lead them forth to battle at once, though the day had been pronounced  p40 unlucky by the Alamannic soothsayers, who predicted, so we are told, that if Butilin fought on that day his troops would perish to a man.

The two armies which were now about to meet in deadly combat were strangely dissimilar in arms and equipments. The Franks were almost entirely infantry-soldiers: while Narses, like Belisarius,​62 relied chiefly on his Hippotoxotai, the mounted archers whose Parthian tactics of flight and pursuit so often wrought deadly mischief to the heavy Teutonic hosts. Heavy-armed, however, the Franks and Alamanni were not. Few of them wore either helmet or breastplate, and trousers of linen or leather were the only covering of their legs. A sword hung at each man's thigh and a shield covered his left side. They had neither bows nor slings, but sent their two‑edged axes hurtling through the air, and above all they wielded the terrible ango of which a description has already been given.

While the two armies were striding to the encounter, Narses performed a signal act of retributive justice, which seemed at first as if it would lose, but which eventually gained him the day. A certain Herulian nobleman among his foederati had, for some trifling neglect of duty, put one of his slaves to death with circumstances of savage cruelty. News of the crime was brought to Narses after he had mounted his horse for battle, but wheeling swiftly round he sought the murderer and charged him with the deed. The Herulian neither denied nor excused his offence, but stoutly maintained that in all that he had done  p41 he had acted within his rights as a master, and added that if his other slaves did not take warning by their comrade's fate he would mete out to them the same punishment. The cruelty and insolence of the man raised the indignation of Narses, who also felt, moreover, that to shed the blood of such a monster would be an offering acceptable in the sight of heaven. He therefore ordered his guardsmen to slay the Herulian, who at once received a fatal sword-thrust in his side. His countrymen murmured loudly. They hung back from the march, and it seemed as if they would desert on the very eve of battle. Narses, however, would not change his tactics for them. He relied on the protection of Divine Providence, but he also reckoned on the unwillingness of a warlike tribe like the Herulians to melt away from the field of battle, when that battle was even now almost joined.

In arraying his troops for the combat, Narses repeated, perhaps not altogether of his own will, the tactics which had proved so successful in the battle of the Apennines. Again he left his centre weak and trusted to his flanks for victory. The barbarians on the other hand had formed themselves into a solid wedge shape, like a Greek delta, and meant to pierce the centre of the Imperial host and so to conquer. They were greatly stimulated to the encounter by the arrival of two deserters of the Herulian tribe, who assured Butilin that he would find the Imperial host all in confusion owing to the determination of the Herulians not to fight under the banners of the man who had slain their comrade.

The disposition of the two armies can be best explained by a diagram.


In the van of the Roman host were the Ante-signani, picked troops, clothed in long coats of mail reaching down to their feet, and with stout helmets on their heads. Behind them stood the light-armed troops, the archers and slingers, but all this centre of the host was weak by reason of the tardy movements of the angry Herulians who should have formed its core of resistance. Narses himself with a strong body of Hippotoxotai formed the right wing of the army; and just behind him stood his Major-domo Zandalas with all the slaves in his warlike household that were apt in war, for the family of Narses, like that of his great rival Belisarius, seems to have been a complete nursery of soldiers. On the left wing,  p43 partly resting on a dense wood and partly ambushed behind it, was another strong body of Hippotoxotai under Valerian and Artabanes.

The Frankish army came on with a wild cry and with all the dash and impetuosity of their nation. The Ante-signani were soon over­powered; the weak place in the centre of the line, where the Heruli should have been, but were not, was easily pierced: even the rear guard was scattered in flight, and the point of the attacking wedge was just touching the Imperial camp. But this apparently easy victory of the barbarians, if it had not been actually contrived by Narses, suited his plans exactly. Tranquilly he ordered his two wings to execute a manoeuvre which enabled them to enfold the barbarian host as in a bag.​63 And now the over-confident Franks and Alamanni found themselves exposed to a destructive discharge of arrows aimed by invisible foes. For the orders given to the Hippotoxotai in each wing were to aim not at the breasts of the nearer but at the backs of the more distant enemies, and this they could easily do, because being on horseback they could see over the heads of the barbarian infantry. Thus the Hippotoxotai of Narses were raining their deadly  p44 shower upon the backs of the men who were fighting with Valerian, and in like manner the Hippotoxotai of Valerian were mowing down from behind the antagonists of Narses. In both cases the custom of the barbarians to wear no armour for the back made the manoeuvre more fatal. They could not see the foes by whose arrows they were falling, and even had they been able to confront them, the shorter range of their own missile weapons, the battle‑axe and the ango, would have made the combat still unequal.

While this was going on in the broad part of the barbarian wedge, which was being rapidly thinned down as rank after rank under the back-piercing missiles of the Imperialists, the point of the wedge had also fallen into disaster. For now at last Sindual, king of the Heruli, with his tribesmen had appeared upon the field, to atone for the tardiness of his march by the ferocity of his onset upon the foe. The Franco-Alamannic van perceived that they had fallen into a trap, and rolled back in helpless disorder upon their beaten comrades. A few escaped and made for the river Vulturnus, but perished in its waters. The Roman infantry, both heavy and light-armed, closed in and completed the work of slaughter which had been begun by the Hippotoxotai. Soon, over all the battle-field were heard the groans of the dying barbarians. Butilin fell, the Herulian deserters who had fed him with such false hopes fell also. Undoubtedly the destruction of the Frankish host was complete, though we may refuse to give implicit belief to the statement of Agathias that only five men out of Butilin's 30,000 escaped to their own country.

The chief credit of so splendid a victory must undoubtedly  p45 be ascribed to Narses, that marvellous being who after a lifetime spent in an Emperor's dressing-room emerged from an atmosphere of cosmetics and compliments to show himself 'a heaven-born general,' a perfect master of tactics and most fertile in resource when the hurly-burly of battle was loudest. But the barbarian chiefs whose strong arms had executed what Narses had planned, were deemed also worthy of commendation: and of these the men who most distinguished themselves were Sindual the Herulian and Aligern, brother of Teias, the erewhile enemy of Rome.64

Demoralisation of the victors. Great was the rejoicing in the Imperial host over the victory of Capua. Having buried their slain comrades and stripped the corpses of the foe, having swarmed over the waggon-rampart and plundered the Frankish camp, the soldiers marched to Rome, having their heads crowned with garlands and singing incessant paeans of victory. Quartered in Rome and deeming all the dangers and fatigues of war over for a lifetime, they began to abandon themselves to the sensual delights of a soldier's holiday. Here would you see one of the heroes of the late encounter who  p46 had sold his helmet for a lyre, there a brother in arms who had parted with his shield for an amphora of wine.

The general, however, soon perceived the growing demoralisation of his troops, and knowing too surely that all danger from the Franks was not at an end, he called them together and addressed them with grave and earnest words, blaming their over-confidence, beseeching them to show themselves Romans, superior to the arrogant elation and panic fears of the barbarians, expressing his belief that the Franks would ere long renew the war, and exhorting them, whether that were so or not, in no case to relax that warlike discipline which alone could ensure success in the hour of danger. The army heard with shame the reproofs of their great commander, and laying aside their careless and self-indulgent ways, 'returned,' says the historian, 'to the habits of their ancestors.'​65 These ancestors were of course supposed to be the men of Rome. It shows what magic yet lay in that mighty name, that this Armenian Eunuch, addressing his motley host of Huns, Heruli, Isaurians, Warni, could win them back from dissipation and self-indulgence by this single argument, 'They are unworthy of your Roman forefathers.'

Death of Theudebald. Succeeded, by Chlotochar. For the present, notwithstanding the forebodings of Narses, the land had rest from foreign invasion. The sickly child Theudebald, king of Austrasia, died in 555, and his great-uncle Chlotochar, who succeeded to his kingdom, showed no sign of wishing to renew the war for the possession of Italy. The Goths still hold out in Campsa. Only a little band of Goths, 7,000 in number, who had not, like Aligern, renounced the alliance with the Franks and entered  p47 the service of the Emperor, still held out in the little mountain fortress of Campsa.​66 Their leader was Ragnaris the Hun, a much-aspiring man, eager to earn notoriety by the arts of the demagogue,​67 by which he stirred up the Goths to continue a hopeless resistance. The fortress of Campsa was strong and the nature of the ground made it impossible to take it by assault, and Narses was therefore compelled to resort to blockade, a tedious process, as the garrison was well provisioned, and a dangerous one, as they showed their resentment by frequent and not altogether unsuccessful sallies.

In this blockade of Campsa the winter months wore away. In early spring Ragnaris called for a parley, and the two chiefs, the courtly old Armenian and the upstart Hunnish adventurer, met under the castle walls. However, the tone of Ragnaris was so arrogant and his demands were so preposterous that Narses soon broke up the conference in wrath. As each party was returning to its quarters Ragnaris stealthily fitted an arrow to the string, turned suddenly round, and discharged it at the Eunuch. But the treachery heart had ill prepared his aim: the arrow missed Narses and fell harmlessly to the ground. The body-guards of Narses, enraged at the felon deed, at once discharged their arrows at Ragnaris, who fell, having received a mortal wound. His followers carried him  p48 into the fortress, where he died after two days of agony. The war ended. On his death real negotiations for surrender were begun by the garrison, who stipulated only that their lives should be spared. Narses, whose careful fidelity and his plighted word on all occasions excited the wonder of a degenerate age, would not allow one of the Goths to be put to death, but in order to guard against further disturbance to the peace of Italy, sent them all to Constantinople. Here, though we are not expressly told anything of their further fortunes, we may well imagine that the tallest and most soldierlike among them would be enlisted in the body-guards of the aged Justinian. Sixty‑six years, or two generations of men, had passed away since Theodoric led his nation-army from Moesia into Italy, and now the last dwindled remnant of the Ostrogoths came back to dwell beside the Euxine of their forefathers and the Bosporus of their unconquerable foe.

The Author's Notes:

1 In the inscription on the statue to Agathias by the grammarian Michael (see the Bonn edition, p. xxi) Myrina is called πόλις δίζυγος. Perhaps this has reference to the fact of its being situated on the frontier of two provinces.

2 Hist. III.1.

3 ὁδοῦ τε καὶ βίου πάρεργον γίγνεται.

4 Hist. IV.22 (p255 ed. Bonn).

5 See vol. IV.592‑600.º

6 I use the word 'perhaps' to indicate the shade of doubt which hangs over the Procopian author­ship of the Anecdota.

7 There is a very fair estimate of the merits and defects of Agathias in Niebuhr's life of him prefixed to the Bonn edition. He blames, as every one must blame, his affected style, his want of grave and statesmanlike discourse, but he considers him to be perfectly free from adulation and envy, a much better man than Procopius, and even in his diction much superior to the writers who follow him as he is inferior to his master. There is also an excellent, and on the whole favourable, estimate of the literary qualities of Agathias in v. Schubert's Unterwerfung der Alamannen, p95. V. Schubert conjectures (p115), I think with much probability, that Agathias may have derived his full and accurate information as to the Franks, and especially as to the Austrasian monarchy, from one of King Sigebert's ambassadors to Constantinople in the year 566, perhaps from Firminus, one of those ambassadors who was Count of Arverni and belonged to a distinguished Gallo-Roman family.

(The student who is using Agathias in the Bonn edition of the Byzantine Historians must be careful not to trust to the marginal dates, which, at any rate for the Italian part of the history (pp1‑95), are all a year wrong, 552 being put for 553, 553 for 554, and 554 for 555.)

8 See vol. III pp414‑416.º

9 See vol. III p296.º

10 Compare vol. III p592,º and Jahn (Geschichte der Burgundionen, II.71) for the chronology.

11 Agathias spells the name Θευδίβερτος, and I have followed this spelling in an earlier volume, but there is a preponderance of authority in favour of Theudebert, though Gregory calls him Theudobertus.

12 τολμητίας ἐς τὰ μάλιστα καὶ ταραχώδης (Agathias, I.4). 'Magnus et in omni bonitate praecipuus: regnum cum iustitiâ regens, sacerdotes venerans, ecclesias munerans, pauperes relevans' (Greg. Tur., III.25).

13 See vol. IV pp611‑612.º

14 See as to this renunciation v. Schubert, Unterwerfung der Alamannen, pp107‑109, 119‑125. As to the possibly contemporaneous and voluntary incorporation of the Bavarians with the Frankish monarchy, see Quitzmann, Aelteste Geschichte der Baiern, pp137‑143.

15 'Per Danuvium et limitem Pannoniae usque in Oceani litoribus dominatio nostra porrigitur.' Theudebert's letter to Justinian (apud Bouquet, IV p59: quoted by v. Schubert, p121).

16 See vol. IV pp330‑334.º

17 See vol. IV pp348‑351.º

18 See vol. IV p370.º

19 Which included the Western and Eastern Riviera.

20 De Bell. Gott.  III.33; IV.24.

21 Ὅτι δὴ βασιλεὺς Ἰουστινιανὸς ἐν τοῖς προγράμμασι τοῖς βασιλείοις Φραγγικός τε καὶ Ἀλαμανικὸς ἔτι δὲ Γηπαιδικός τε καὶ Λογγεβαρδικός, καὶ ἑτέροις τοιοῖσδε ὀνόμασιν ἀνεκηρύττετο, ὡς δὴ τούτων αὐτῷ τῶν ἐθνῶν ἁπάντων δεδουλωμένων (Agathias, I.4). In the Institutes and Code Justinian proclaims himself 'Alamanicus, Gothicus, Francicus, Germanicus, Anticus, Alanicus, Vandalicus, Africanus, Pius.' The title Gepaedicus, mentioned by Agathias, was probably assumed after some of the skirmishes with the Gepidae alluded to by Procopius in the De Bello Gotthico, III.33‑34. Certainly Justinian had little justification in fact for the title, so unwisely assumed, of Francicus.

22 In describing the emotions of Theudebert I have somewhat simplified the words of Agathias.

23 De Bell. Gott. IV.24.

24 Hist. Franc. III.36.

25 It seems to me that we may nearly reconcile the two accounts if we admit that Agathias is in error in representing death as the immediate result of the accident. His story is in itself probable enough. So young and vigorous a man as Theudebert is rather more likely to have died from the indirect effect of a blow than from constitutional disease.

26 Theudebald was probably about ten years old at his accession. He was born certainly after 534 (Greg. H. F. III.27): he was still 'parvolus' in 554, but able to contract one of the early Merovingian marriages in that year (ibid. IV.69). Cf. Schubert, Unterwerfung der Alamannen, p113.

27 Vol. IV p701.º

28 Πρὸς Θευδίβαλδον ἀναφανδὸν ἐπρεσβεύοντο. οὐ μὴν ἅπαν γε τὸ ἔθνος, μόνοι δὲ οἱ ἐκτὸς Πάδου ποταμοῦ ἱδρυμένοι (Agath. I.5). I suppose that ἐκτός here means 'beyond' from the point of view of a dweller in Rome.

29 So I think we may fairly interpret the hint of the envoys, πρὸς δέ γε καὶ χρήματα ὑμῖν ἔσονται μυρία, οὐ μόνον τὰ Ῥωμαίων ληϊσαμένοις. ἀλλὰ γὰρ δὴ καὶ αὐτοὶ ἕτερα καταθήσομεν (Agathias, I.5).

30 I think we must not follow Gibbon's example in reading this name as equivalent to Lothair. That name is generally admitted to be another form of Chlotochar, which Agathias writes Χλωθάριος. The Alamannic chieftain's name is written by him Λεύθαρις.

31 Vol. III p391.º

32 We get this interesting little sketch of the customs of the Alamanni from Agathias (I.6, 7). He quotes from the lost 'Germanica' of Asinius Quadratus (third century A.D.) as to the origin of the name Alamanni, and expresses his dislike of the gory sacrifices not only of the Alamanni, but of more cultivated nations like the Greeks and Persians. 'Do not say,' he argues with his reader, 'that discussions of this kind are foreign to the purpose of my history. What is history but an idle tale fit to be told in the apartments of the women to girls busy at their wool-work, unless it deals with the great problems of human life and aims at the improvement of our fellow‑men?'

33 θαυμάζειν δὲ ἔφασαν τῶν Γότθων. εἰ μάλα οὕτω πεφρίκασιν ἀνδραριόν τι θαλαμηπόλον σκιατραφές τε καὶ ὀβροδίαιτον. Καὶ πόρρω τοῦ ἀρρενωποῦ τεταγμένον (Agath. I.7). Have we here a covert allusion to the story of Sophia's insulting message to Narses?

34 So says Beloch (Campanien, p159). I regret that I cannot speak out of Cumae from personal observation.

35 See vol. IV pp 522735.º

36 I think, from Beloch's description (p160), that it is in this part of the Acropolis of Cumae that the following inscription has been discovered,

Apollini Cvmano

Q. Tineivs Rvfvs

confirming the view that it was here that popular tradition under the Empire placed the grotto of the Sibyl. That which is now shown as her grotto, on the south side of Lake Avernus, is apparently an unfinished tunnel like that which Cocceius excavated between Avernus and Cumae.

37 Agathias says 'down to the sea‑shore,' but I do not see how this could well be if the breach was effected in the eastern wall of the city.

38 See vol. IV pp256, 302, 317, 521, &c.

39 Vol. IV p584.

40 Vol. IV pp628‑635.

41 Vol. IV pp704, 733, &c.

42 Now Civita Vecchia.

43 Now Faenza.

44 'Tu ne cede malis; sed contra audentior ito.' Aeneid, VI.95.

45 Agathias calls these officers ἁρμοσταί, rather a well-chosen archaism, recalling the Harmosts whom Sparta sent forth to govern the dependent cities in Asia Minor after their victory at Aegospotami.

46 Agathias says 'it came into the mind of Aligern to consider that the Franks made forsooth a very fine pretence out of the name of Alliance, as though they came into the country in answer to a cry for help, but what they truly purposed and desired would turn out quite a different matter; and that if they got the better of the Romans they would by no means hand over Italy to the Goths but would set over them Frankish rulers and make them live under other laws than those of their fathers' (I.20).

47 ἐπεκερτόμει τε αὐτοὺς ἐκ τοῦ μετεώρου (Agathias, I.20).

48 I infer this from the narrative of Agathias (I.21), but it is not distinctly stated by him.

49 The geographical position of the Warni at this time is rendered obscure by a passage of Procopius (De Bello Gotth. IV.20), which speaks of the Rhine as separating between them and the Franks. But on the whole, it seems safe to speak of the main body of the nation as still dwelling by the Elbe. (See Zeuss, Die Deutschen, &c., p361).

50 The Frankish ango. Of this hooked spear used by the Franks and called by them ango (cf. the Anglo-Saxon anga, a spear-head) Agathias gives elsewhere this account:

'The ango is a spear, not very small nor yet very great, but of such a size that it can be used as a missile if occasion require, and can also be made available in hand-to‑hand encounters. The greater part of this weapon is completely surrounded with iron so that very little of the wood appears, hardly even the whole of the spike at its butt‑end (σαυρωτήρ). Above, round the end of the spear, [two] curved barbs project on each side of the spear‑tip and bend round and under it like hooks. This ango then the Frank hurls in battle, and if it ever hits any one, the point, as may be easily understood, so enters the flesh that it is not easy for the wounded man or any one else to extract it, for the hooks fix themselves in so deeply and inflict such awful agony that the sufferer dies of that pain even though the wound be not in itself fatal. And if it enters the shield it hangs there and cannot be got rid of, but trails on the ground and must be dragged about by the warrior wherever he goes, for the barbs prevent his shaking it out of his shield and the iron sheathing prevents his severing it with his sword. Then when a Frankish soldier sees his enemy thus encumbered, stepping sharply on the butt‑end of the spear he forces down the shield, thus depressing the hand of his antagonist, and leaving his head and breast defenceless. Then he easily kills his unguarded foe, either smashing his head with a battle‑axe, or piercing his throat with another spear' (Agathias, II.5).

51 Ἅπαντα τὰ τῇδε ἄριστα διαθείς. I allow myself a little use of conjecture in connecting these words with what we have before heard of the faults of Antiochus the Praetorian Prefect.

52 See for a description of the barritus, vol. I p115 (p262 in second edition). Agathias' words, καὶ θαμὰ τῇ σάλπιγγα καταβομβεῖσθαι τὸ ἐνυάλιον ἐπηχούσῃ, may, I think, be understood as probably referring to the barritus.

53 Πολλὰς μὲν γὰρ κάλπεις ἱεράς, πολλὰ δὲ περιρραντήρια πάγχρυσα, συχνὰ δὲ κύπελλα καὶ κανᾶ, καὶ ὅσα ταῖς μυστικαῖς ἁγιστείαις ἀνεῖται, ταῦτα ἀφαιρούμενοι, ἅπαντα οἰκεῖα κτήματα ἐποιοῦντο (Agathias, II.1).

54 Fanum Fortunae, now Fano. See vol. IV p300.

55 Pesaro.

56 Between the provinces of Aemilia and Alpes Cottiae, says Agathias, but this surely throws their line of march too much to the west.

57 Agathias calls it 'the river Casilinum,' but I have not met with any other authority for this name of the Vulturnus.

58 Now represented by the little town of S. Maria di Capua Vetere.

59 According to Beloch (p357) the systematic excavation of these sepulchres was first undertaken by Sir William Hamilton, the British Minister at the Neapolitan Court in the year 1764. Some curious bronze tablets containing imprecations by the dead Capuan on his living foe have lately been found. Here is one which was discovered in 1866: Cn. Numidium Astragalum · illius vitam · valetudinem · quaistum · ipsumque uti tabescat morbus · C. Sextius Tabsimaelo rogo.

60 For further details as to the very interesting history of Capua and the traces of the ancient city which may still be found, I must refer the reader to the admirable monograph of Julius Beloch (Campanien, Berlin, 1879).

61 An indication that this Alamannic inroad was meant to be a migration as well as an invasion.

62 See vol. IV pp6 and 7.

63 The technical description of this manoeuvre by Agathias is as follows: Ὁ Ναρσῆς ἐπικάμψας ἠρέμα καὶ ὑπομηκύνας τὰ κέρα, καὶ ἐπικάμπιον ἐμπροσθίαν (ὡς ἂν τακτικοὶ ὀνομάσαιεν) τὴν φάλαγγα καταστήσας, κ. τ. λ.

The manoeuvre seems to be almost the same which Milton describes as executed by the fallen angels when they wished to listen to their chief:

'Whereat their doubled ranks they bend

From wing to wing, and half enclose him round

With all his peers.' Paradise Lost, I.616.

64 At the end of his description of the battle of Capua (which is vivid and clear) Agathias gives us some moral reflections about the victory, comparing it to Marathon, Salamis and Syracuse. He also quotes an epigram of six lines which some one told him was inscribed on a stone pyramid, erected on the banks of the Vulturnus. 'At least,' he says, 'whether that epigram be really engraved on stone, or whether it came to me in some other way through the songs of men, there is nothing to prevent my transcribing it here.' Evidently the epigram is really Agathias' own, and he means us to recognise it as his, and the talk about the stone pyramid is only a literary artifice. The epigram itself is vapid and not worth transcribing.

65 Ἐς τὰ πάτρια ἤθη μετεκοσμοῦντο. Agathias, II.12.

66 Which Muratori identifies with Conza, a little town among the Apennines about 50 miles east of Naples.

67 Agathias says that Ragnaris was one of the so called Βίττυρες (Vittores), who were a Hunnish race; but we seem to have no further clue to their history. If Ragnaris were not a Hun, one would be inclined to look for some connection between his name and that of the Scandinavian Ragnar Lodbrok.

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