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Book VI
Chapter 1

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 VI
Chapter 3

Book VI (continued)

Vol. V
Chapter II

The Rule of Narses


Sources: —

Our chief sources for this period, and very scanty ones, are Theophanes, Paulus Diaconus (see next chapter), the Liber Pontificalis (Vita Pelagii), Marcellinus Comes, Marius Aventicensis, and the so‑called Fredegarius. (All of these sources of information, except Paulus Diaconus, have been described in previous volumes.)a

555‑567 Of the twelve years during which the Eunuch Narses bore sway in Italy after the last of the Goths had been driven forth, we possess very scanty memorials.

Repair of the cities of Italy. It was undoubtedly a time of general depression and misery. The fever of war was past, and the pain of the sore wounds which twenty years of bloodshed had inflicted upon Italy was felt now perhaps more bitterly than ever. All over the land, doubtless, were cities lying desolate; the chasms still left in their walls, where the Gothic battering-rams had pounded into them; long streets of burnt houses, where the fiery bolts from the catapult had carried the wasting flame. To repair these ruined cities seems to have been the chief work of the busy Eunuch, whose official title seems to have been 'the Patrician.'1 The great  p50 city of Mediolanum, that Milan which has been more than once destroyed, and more than once has arisen in splendour from its ashes, felt especially the benefit of his restoring hand.2

The great law‑giving Emperor, too, contributed, after his manner, to the healing of the wounds of Italy. Justinian's 'Pragmatic Sanction.' On the 13th of August, 554, he put forth a 'Pragmatic Sanction,'3 the object of which was to bring back social peace into the chaos left by the expulsion of the Ostrogoths. All the legislative acts of Theodoric and his family, down to Theodahad, were thereby confirmed: only those of Witigis and his successors (but even these covered a period of sixteen years) were treated as absolutely null and void.4

Narses at Rome, assisting in the elevation of Pelagius to the Papal throne. In the year 555, probably soon after his reduction of the Gothic stronghold of Campsa, Narses was called upon to take part in an ecclesiastical ceremony of an extraordinary kind, in connection with the newly consecrated pope, Pelagius I. It will be remembered that at the end of all his vacillations as to the miserable controversy of the 'Three Chapters,' Pope Vigilius submitted himself to the Emperor's will, but there was still considerable delay before he was suffered to depart from Constantinople. After the  p51 defeat of Totila, the assembled clergy of Rome sought an audience with Narses, and, while congratulating him on the restoration of the Imperial rule, suggested (apparently) that the return of Vigilius, and of all the bishops who had gone into exile with him for their refusal to condemn the Three Chapters, would be a fitting acknowledgment of the Divine goodness which had thus blessed the arms of the Emperor.5 Justinian, on receiving this message from Narses, caused the banished bishops to be gathered together from Egypt, from the island of Proconnesus, and from all the various places of their exile, and asked them whether they were willing to recognise Vigilius (now, it must be remembered, a condemner of the Three Chapters) as their pope, or any they would prefer the archdeacon Pelagius, the only other candidate whom he would permit them to choose.6 They replied with one accord, 'Restore to us Vigilius; let him be pope again, and when it shall please God to remove him from this world, then, with your consent, archdeacon Pelagius shall succeed him.'

Then all those bishops were allowed to depart from Constantinople, and, setting sail for Italy, they touched at Syracuse, where, as has been already  p52 related, Vigilius died, after suffering much agony from the cruel malady with which he was afflicted, and which, as his biographers thought, was itself caused by his mental misery.7

The archdeacon Pelagius, who was, in accordance with the declared wish of the Emperor, April 13, 535. consecrated pope in the room of Vigilius, was the same whom we have seen bravely interceding for his fellow-citizens with the victorious Totila at the time of the siege of Rome.8 At that critical time he seemed to bear himself like an upright citizen and a patriotic Roman, but there must have been something in his character which suggested to onlookers the idea of a disposition to selfish intrigue. Under the pontificate of Silverius, who had appointed him his apocrisiarius (nuncio) at the Court of Constantinople, he was thought to have caballed with Theodora against that pope;9 and, under the pontificate of Vigilius, though he had followed that unhappy exile in all his waverings backwards and forwards about the Three Chapters, he was apparently suspected of having been all the while intriguing to supersede him, a suspicion to which the singular proposal of Justinian, which has just been quoted, seems to lend some probability. Now an even darker, and, it would seem, absolutely unjust suspicion of having in some way caused or hastened the death of Vigilius rested upon him. So nearly universal was  p53 the dislike and distrust with which he was regarded that only two bishops, John of Perugia and Bonus of Florence, can be found willing to consecrate him; and Andrew, a presbyter of Ostia, had to be joined with them in order to give the rite some semblance of canonical regularity. All the rest of the clergy, all the religious persons who filled the monasteries of Rome, all the more influential nobles of the city, shrank from communion with a man whom they openly accused of being responsible for the death of his predecessor.10

In order to silence these calumnies and to reconcile the pontiff with the citizens of Rome, Narses and Pelagius together devised a striking ceremony. Starting from the Church of St. Pancratius on the Janiculan Hill, the two men, the chief of Italy and the chief of the Church, walked in solemn procession till they came to the great basilica of St. Peter. Up the long dim nave, lined with ninety‑six columns taken from heathen temples, they proceeded till they came to the semi-circular apse where, under the majestic figure of the Christ, displayed in mosaics on the vault, was placed the tomb of his boldest disciple. All the while that they were thus marching, Narses, Pelagius, and such of the priests as had been willing to join them, were chanting solemn litanies. Then Pelagius mounted the hexagonal pulpit or ambo, and, taking the Gospels in his  p54 hand and putting a cross upon his head, swore an awful oath that he had had neither part nor lot in the death of his predecessor. The earliest adjuration of the pontiff, made more impressive by the presence of the Patrician, who seems to have acted as a kind of compurgator of the accused man, appears to have satisfied the people.11 Pelagius proceeded to deliver one of those exhortations against simony which were becoming, by reason of the need for them, almost a commonplace in the mouth of an ecclesiastical ruler, and took measures for the restoration to the Roman churches of the golden vessels of which they had been plundered. As far as we can tell, the deep distrust and suspicion of the new pontiff, which had hitherto prevailed, were now laid aside. The chief occupation of his short pontificate12 was the endeavour to persuade the Western bishops that they might, without derogating from the authority of the Council of Chalcedon, accept the decree of the Council of Constantinople,13 condemn the Three Chapters, and anathematise the memory of the unfortunate Theodore, Ibas and Theodoret. In this labour, which was the price paid to the Emperor for his nomination to the pontificate, Pelagius was only partly successful, as we shall perceive in a later chapter, when we come to deal  p55 with the question of the Istrian schismatics. Though the period of the rule of Narses was generally peaceful, we still hear vaguely of conflicts with barbarian chiefs, the heavings of the ocean after the subsidence of the great storm of the Gothic war. Revolt of Aming and Widin. A certain Aming, probably a Frankish chieftain, who had entered Italy in 539 with King Theudebert, returned or remained, and offered his assistance to a Gothic count, named Widin. They fell, however, before the victorious Eunuch. Aming was slain by the sword of Narses,14 and Widin was sent to Constantinople, whither so many captive barbarian chiefs had preceded him, all ministering to the pride of 'Justinianus Victor et Triumphator, semper Augustus.'

Verona and Brescia taken. It may possibly have been in connection with this victory over Aming and Widin that, as we are told by Theophanes, 'letters of victory came from Rome, written by Narses the Patrician, announcing that he had taken two strong cities of the Goths, Verona and Brescia.' This event is placed by the chronicler in the year 563. It is hardly possible that such important cities can have been left untaken for ten years after the defeat of Totila, but either Widin the Gothic count, or some such champion of a lost cause, may have arisen and, collecting the scattered remnants of his countrymen, may have taken Verona and Brescia by surprise and held them for some time against the empire.

565 Revolt of Sindual the Herulian. Two years later, Sindual, king of the Heruli, whom we last met with making a tardy but effectual charge on the army of Butilin, turned against Narses, from whom he had received many favours, and endeavoured  p56 to set up an independent barbarian sovereignty in Italy, or, as the Imperialist writers call it, to establish a 'tyranny.' Against him, too, the star of Narses prevailed. He was vanquished in war, taken prisoner, and hung from a lofty gallows.15

Death of Belisarius. The same year (565) witnessed the passing away of two great actors in the drama the reconquest of Italy. Belisarius, who, after his last glorious campaign against the Kotrigur Huns, had fallen into disgrace at court, being accused of complicity in a plot against Justinian, and had then, after eight months' obscuration, been restored to the imperial favour,16 enjoyed his recovered honours for something less than  p57 two years, and died in the month of March, 565. Of him, as of Wolsey, might the words be used,

'An old man, broken with the storms of state,'

and yet, like Wolsey, he had not reached extreme old age, since, forty years before, he was still spoken of as in early youth.17

Death of Justinian. Nov. 14, 565. Eight months after Belisarius died his even more famous master. For thirty-eight years Justinian had governed the Roman world, filling a larger space in the eyes of men than any ruler since Theodosius, if not than any ruler since Constantine. He had restored much of the splendour of the Roman name, had re‑united Rome and Carthage to the Empire, and had even displayed his victorious eagles on the coast of Spain. He had been an indefatigable student of theology, had called a General Council, and imposed the dogma which was the fruit of his midnight studies upon the conscience of a resisting pope. Above all, he had evoked from the chaos in which the laws of Rome had been tossing for centuries an orderly and harmonious system, which was to make the influence of Roman Law thenceforward coeval and conterminous with European civilisation and with all that later civilisation which, springing from it, was to overspread four continents. But there was a reverse to this brilliant picture on which perhaps sufficient emphasis has been laid in previous volumes of this book. The conquests of Justinian were not enduring. The financial exhaustion which was the result of his showy and extravagant policy left the provinces weak and anaemic, unable to  p58 resist the new forces which were about to be hurled upon them from the deserts of Arabia. The theological activity of the Emperor alienated many of his subjects, both in the East and West, and probably facilitated the conquests of Mohammed. Nor did even the Emperor's own theology, in the later years of his life, escape the charge of heretical error.18

But were it good or bad, the work of Justinian was done and a new lord looked forth from the windows of the Anactoron, over the wide Propontis and the beautiful Horn of Gold. Accession of Justin II. That lord was Justin the Second, a nephew of Justinian, who had consolidated his position at Court, and secured his succession to the throne by marrying Sophia, niece of the once all‑powerful Theodora. In spite of the praises of the courtly poet, Corippus — who sought to re‑awaken the lyre of Claudian and to sing the praises of Justin and his African general John, as the earlier poet had sung the praises of Honorius and Stilicho — the new Emperor was a narrow, small-minded man, just the kind of  p59 person who was likely to emerge, safe and successful, from the intrigues of a court like Justinian's, but not the man to guide aright the destinies of a mighty Empire. Moreover, when he had been eight years upon the throne the symptoms of a diseased brain were so manifest that it was necessary to provide him with a colleague, who was in fact a regent: and it is probable enough that even at the time of his accession he showed some deficiency of mental power. Whatever the cause, the result seems clear, that in the earlier years of the reign, Sophia, not Justin, was the true ruler of the Empire, and that this Empress, who possessed the ambition of Theodora without her genius,19 governed feebly and unwisely, cutting away a branch here and there of the more unpopular parts of Justinian's administration, but neither resolutely upholding nor broadly remodelling the system which he had inaugurated.

Recall of Narses. It was, no doubt, in accordance with this general plan of change without reform that the Imperial pair decided on the recall of Narses. The popularity which the Patrician had won by the re‑conquest of Italy he had lost by his ten years' government of the peninsula, but whether justly or unjustly lost, who shall say? The full weight of the misery caused by a prolonged war is often not felt till the war is over, when the fever of fighting is followed by the collapse of bankruptcy and famine. This was the experience of our fathers in the decade which followed Waterloo, and it may well have been the experience of the Italians during the years which intervened between Totila and Alboin.  p60 Over such an emaciated and exhausted country Narses had to rule, squeezing out of it by his rationales and his logothetes the solidi which were to be transmitted to Constantinople — a miserable dividend (if so modern a comparison may be allowed) on the vast sums which Justinian had disbursed for the re‑conquest of Italy.

But did Narses plunder for his own private account as well as to fill the coffers of his master? That is the more or less open accusation of later chroniclers, but though it is quite impossible now either to prove or disprove it, the charge does not altogether correspond with what we hear elsewhere of the character of Narses. Ambition rather than avarice seems to have been the master-passion of his soul, and he is represented as a free-handed and generous rewarder of the men who served him well.

But we have had enough of conjecture. Let us listen to the statement, poor and meagre as it is, given us by the Papal biographer,20 of the events which led up to the recall of Narses.

566 (?) 'Then the Romans, influenced by envy, sent representations to Justin21 and Sophia, that it would be more expedient for the Romans to serve the Goths than the Greeks. "Where Narses the Eunuch rules," said they, "he makes us subject to slavery. And the most devout Prince is ignorant of this. Either, therefore, free us and the City of Rome from his hand, or else we will  p61 assuredly become servants of the barbarians."22 Which, when Narses heard, he said "If I have done evil to the Romans I shall find myself in evil plight."23 Then going forth from Rome he came to Campania and wrote to the nation of the Langobardi that they should come and take possession of Italy.'

Narses' alleged invitation to the Lombards to invade Italy. By the last sentence of this extract we are brought face to face with the accusation which is the heaviest charge that has been made against the character of Narses, the accusation that he, in revenge for his recall, invited the Lombard invaders into Italy. It is easy to show how slight is the basis of trustworthy evidence on which this accusation rests; but in order to show what the accusation is, it will be well to quote it in the fully developed and dramatic form which it assumed, two centuries after the event, in the pages of Paulus Diaconus, the great historian of the Lombard people. After copying the passage just quoted, from the Papal biography, Paulus proceeds:

Story of the Empress's insulting message to Narses. 'Then the august Emperor was so greatly moved with anger against Narses that he immediately sent Longinus the praefect into Italy that he might take the place of Narses. But Narses, when he knew these things, was much afraid, and so much was he terrified by the same august Sophia that he did not dare to return to Constantinople.24 To whom, among other [insults], she is said to have sent a message that, as he was an eunuch, she would make him portion out the  p62 days' tasks of wool-work to the girls in the women's apartment.25 To which words Narses is said to have given this answer, that he would spin her such a hank that she should not be able to lay it down so long as she lived.26 Therefore, being racked by fear and hatred, he departed to Naples, and soon sent ambassadors to the nation of the Langobardi, telling them to leave the poverty-stricken fields of Pannonia and come to possess Italy, teeming as it was with all sorts of wealth. At the same time he sent many kinds of fruit and samples of other produce in which Italy abounds, that he might tempt their souls to the journey. The Langobardi received with satisfaction the glad tidings, which corresponded with their own previous desires, and lifted up their hearts at the thought of their future prosperity.'

Improbability of the story. Such is, as I have said, the fully-developed story, and that which has succeeded in inscribing itself on the page of history. It contains some obvious improbabilities. The Langobardi, the flower of whose nation had served in Italy only fifteen years before, certainly needed no elaborate information as to the fruits and produce of that country. It would be strange, too,  p63 though not impossible, if just before sending so traitorous a message, Narses went southward from Ravenna to Naples, thereby at once adding to the labours of his messengers and lessening his own chances of deliverance from punishment by the hosts of the invading barbarians.

But, moreover, if we trace the tale backwards through the centuries, we shall find, as is so often the case, that the nearer we get to the date of the events, the less do the narrators know of these secret motives which are so freely imputed, and these dialogues of great personages which are so dramatically described. Paulus Diaconus wrote, as has been already said about the middle of the eighth century. The chronicler, who is incorrectly quoted as 'Fredegarius' (who wrote about 642 and perhaps put the finishing touches to his history in 658), tells the story in nearly the same words, but, while he gives us the golden distaff, he takes the fruits and other vegetable products. We then come back to the Spanish bishop, Isidore of Seville, who wrote a chronicle coming down to 615. He simply says, 'Narses the Patrician, after he had, under Justinianus Augustus, overcome Totila, king of the Goths in Italy, being terrified by the threats of Sophia Augusta, the wife of Justin, invited the Langobardi from Pannonia, and introduced them into Italy.' This sentence, written probably about fifty years after the recall of Narses, is, after the notice already quoted from the Papal biography, the strongest support of the charge that Narses invited the Lombards into Italy. And if we accept, as we seem bound to do, the early date of the 'Papal Life,' we shall feel compelled to admit that there was a belief among his  p64 contemporaries that Narses had, at the end of his life, proved disloyal to the Empire. Only remembering the parallel case of Stilicho, we shall be careful to distinguish between popular suspicion and judicial evidence of such a crime.27

Our two best contemporary authorities28 are Marius of Aventicum and Gregory of Tours, both of whom died (having passed middle age) in or about the year 594. They are, therefore, strictly contemporary authorities for the events of 567. Neither of them makes any mention of Narses' invitation to the Lombards, though the former describes the recall of Narses (with some suppressed indignation at such a reward to so meritorious a servant of the Emperor), and both notice the entry of Alboin and the Lombards into Italy. Equally silent on the subject are the so‑called Annals of Ravenna,29 though the ecclesiastical chronicler, writing in that Imperial capital, would have been likely to utter the shrillest notes of execration at so signal an act of treachery by the Patrician towards the Empire.

Upon the whole, then, we conclude that there is hardly sufficient evidence for the far‑famed vengeance of the Eunuch on the Empress. His recall, which took place in the year 567,30 was, probably enough, due to the advice of the ambitious and meddlesome  p65 Augusta, and it is in the highest degree likely that the removal of such a man from Ravenna, who had been not only the recoverer of Italy in war, but for twelve years the mainspring of the administrative machinery in peace, may have led to a certain amount of confusion and disturbance, during which the barbarians on the north-eastern frontier perceived that their time had come to re‑enter the beautiful land which they had so unwillingly quitted in 552, when Narses informed them that he had no further occasion for their services.

Later history of Narses. Of the later history of the great Eunuch-Patrician we have scarcely any trustworthy details. The 'Liber Pontificalis,' which, as we have seen, repeats the slander as to the invocation of the Lombards, goes on to describe a mysterious interview between Pope John III and Narses. 'The pope goes in haste to Naples, and asks the ex‑governor to return to Rome. Narses says, "Tell me, most holy Pope, what mischief have I done to the Romans? I will go to the feet of him that sent me [the Emperor], that all Italy may know how I have laboured in its behalf." The pope answered, "I will go more quickly than thou canst return from this land." Therefore Narses returned to Rome with the most holy Pope John, and, after a considerable time, he died there: whose body was placed in a leaden chest, and all his riches were brought back to Constantinople. At the same time Pope John died also.'

If this note of time is to be relayed upon, the death of Narses must have happened about 573, or perhaps a year or two earlier; and, upon the whole, this seems to be the conclusion to which most of the authorities  p66 point: that he died in Rome early in the eighth decade of the sixth century. The statements as to his return to Constantinople and recovery of the favour of the Emperor probably proceed from a confusion between him and another Narses, who, thirty years later, was one of the bravest of the Imperial generals on the Persian frontier.

Legend as to the wealth of Narses. The vast wealth of the Eunuch was perhaps simply confiscated by the Imperial treasury, but in the next generation the following story concerning it reached the ears of Gregory of Tours. Tiberius II (who, as we shall see, was first the colleague and then the successor of Justin II) was a man of generous disposition, and was frequently rebuked for this by his patroness, the Empress Sophia, who declared that he would bring the Imperial treasury to ruin.

'What I,' said she, 'have been many years in collecting, thou wilt disperse in a very short time.' Then he said, 'Our treasury will be none the poorer, but the poor must receive alms and the captives must be redeemed. Herein will be great treasure according to that saying of the Lord, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." Now Narses, that great Duke of Italy, who had had his palace in a certain city, went forth from Italy with a mighty treasure and came to the aforesaid city of Constantinople, and there, in a secret place in his house, he dug out great cisterns in which he stored up many hundred thousand pounds weight of gold and silver. Then, having slain all who were privy to his plans, he confided the secret of the hoard to one old man, under a solemn oath that he would reveal it  p67 to no man. On the death of Narses these treasures lay concealed under the earth. But when the aforesaid old man saw the daily charities of Tiberius, he went to him, and said, "If it may profit me, O Caesar, I can reveal to thee a great matter. "Say on, what thou wilt," answered Tiberius. "I have the secret of the hoard of Narses," said he, "and, being now at the extreme verge of life, I can conceal it no longer." Then Tiberius Caesar, being filled with joy, sent some servants, who followed the old man to the place with great astonishment. Having arrived at the cistern, they opened it, and entered within, and found there so great a quantity of gold and silver that it was hardly emptied after many days, though men were carrying it away continually. And after this, the Caesar went on more blithely than before, distributing money to the needy.'

So vanishes from history the mysterious figure of the great eunuch-general.

The Author's Notes:

1 Neither Narses nor his immediate successor Longinus seems to have borne the title of Exarch. The precise period of the first introduction of this title will be discussed in a later chapter.

2 So says Marius Aventicensis, a contemporary, who attributes to Narses 'Mediolanum vel reliquas civitates quas Gothi destruxerant laudabiliter reparatas.'

3 Addressed to Antiochus, Praefect of Italy, who was, as we have seen, subordinate to Narses.

4 The positive parts of this enactment, which showed some real desire on the part of the aged Emperor to ameliorate the condition of Italy, will be described in the next volume when the whole condition of Imperial Italy during the centuries of Lombard domination comes before us for review.

5 The extremely bald and obscure narration in the Liber Pontificalis does not distinctly state, but I think it suggests, that this was the tenor of the petition of the clergy.

6 The Liber Pontificalis says 'Et mox misit jussiones suas per diversa loca, ubi fuerant in exilium deportati in Aegypto [al. Gypso] et Proconisso, et adduxit eos ante se Imperator, dicens eis: Vultis recipere [al. retinere] Vigilium, ut fuit [al. sit] Papa vester? Gratias ago. Minus ne hic habetis Archidiaconum vestrum Pelagium, et manus mea erit vobiscum.' The text is perhaps corrupt, but the meaning seems to be something like that given above.

7 'Et ex multa afflictione calculi dolorem habens, defunctus est Vigilius.'

8 See vol. IV p467.º

9 So says Bower (History of the Popes, II.366), apparently on the authority of Liberatus (Breviarium xxiv): 'Illud liquere omnibus credo, per Pelagium diaconum et Theodorum Caesareae Cappadociae episcopum hoc scandalum in ecclesiam fuisse ingressum.'

10 'Tunc non erant in clero, qui poterant eum promovere, quia et monasteria, et multitudo Religiosorum Sapientium et Nobilium [rather a singular expression] subduxerunt se a communione ejus, dicentes quia in morte Vigilii Papae se immiscuit, ut tantis poenis affligeretur.' (Lib. Pont. in vitâ Pelagii.) Perhaps this only means that he had helped to worry Vigilius to death, not that he was literally his murderer.

11 'Satisfecit cuncto populo et plebi' is the expression of the biographer, but this probably is only a technical expression for this kind of solemn asseveration.

12 Pelagius I died March 4, 561, and was succeeded by John III, who presided over the see of Rome for thirteen years (July 17, 561 – July 13, 574). No particular interest attaches to the career of this pope or that of his successor Benedict I (June 2, 575 – July 31, 579). The chronology is that of the Abbé Duchesne.

13 Fifth General Council.

14 'Amingus . . . Narsetis gladio perimitur.' Paulus, II.2.

15 'Bello superatum et captum celsa de trabe suspendit.' Paulus, Hist. Lang. II.3. The Liber Pontificalis also mentions the revolt of Sindual, as does Marius Aventicensis, who calls him Sindewala, and gives us the date 566, which should no doubt be corrected to 565, as all the dates of Marius at this time are a year too low. Marius calls the revolt a 'tyrannis.' We get the date of Sindual's revolt and the expression 'tyrannis' applied to it, from Marius. There is an interesting passage in Agathias (Hist. I.20) showing how popular election co‑operated with Imperial selection in the succession to these camp-royalties of the barbarians. On the death of Phulcaris (553) 'there were two men in the Herulian host of equal valour and renown, and the favour of the multitude was divided between them. For some of them set most store by Aruth, and thought that all would go well if he were their leader; while others preferred Sindual, a man of commanding energy and well practised in warlike affairs. Narses then, throwing his weight into the scale of this latter party, set Sindual over the Heruli as general and gave them their orders as to the selection of winter quarters.'

Paulus calls Sindual king of the Brenti, by which name Waitz understands the Breones of the Brenner Pass; and at the same time he makes him one of the stock of Heruli who had come into Italy with Odovacar. Neither statement seems to me to be of much ethnological value.

16 See vol. IV pp596‑602.º

17 Νεανίας καὶ πρῶτος ὑπηνήτης (in 526). Procopius, de Bello Persico, I.12. Wolsey was only fifty-eight at the period referred to in the above quotation.

18 I allude of course to the charge (chiefly based on the authority of the ecclesiastical historian Evagrius) that at the very end of his reign Justinian fell into the error of Aphtharto­docetism, teaching that the body of Christ was not subject to death or natural decay and thus venturing perilously near to the borders of Monophysitism if not actually passing them. An anonymous correspondent of the 'Guardian' (W. H. H., August 12, 1891) pleads earnestly and skilfully for the removal of this blot on Justinian's fame; but after all, even on his statement, all the authorities, even the contemporary authorities, appear to be on one side, with only general improbability and previous good character on the other: and in such a case are we not bound to follow the authorities? The improbable is that which is constantly occurring, and great men at the end of their lives, with failing brain and weakened will, often contradict, in the most wonderful way, the whole of their previous career.

19 These are the words of Mr. Bury (II.71), from whom I derive most of my impressions of the characters of Justin and Sophia.

20 The Abbé Duchesne, in the very thorough analysis of the sources of the Liber Pontificalis prefixed to his edition of that book, assigns the composition of the life of Pope John III to the period of Pelagius II (579‑590). It is virtually, therefore, the work of a contemporary.

21 'Justiniano' in the text.

22 'Aut libera nos de manu ejus et civitatem Romanam aut certe nos gentibus deserviemus.' Liber Pontificalis, lxiii: Joannes III.

23 'Si male feci Romanis, male inveniam.' Any translation must be somewhat conjectural.

24 'Ut regredi ultra [?] Constantino­polim non auderet.'

25 'Cui illa inter cetera, quia eunuchus erat, haec fertur mandasse, ut eum puellis in gynaecio lanarum faceret pensa dividere.' In the history of Fredegarius, from which Paulus appears to have borrowed this story, the Augusta sends him 'a golden instrument used by women with which he might spin,' in other words a golden distaff, and tells him that he may henceforward rule over wool-workers, not over nations (III.65).

26 'Talem se eidem telam orditurum, qualem ipsa dum viveret, deponere non possit.' Or, even more dramatically in Fredegarius: 'I will spin a thread of which neither the Emperor Justin nor the Augusta shall be able to find the end' ('Filum filabo de quo Justinus imperator nec Augusta ad caput venire non possent').

27 Prosperi Continuatio Havniensis, which was composed about 625, tells the same story, but is evidently quoting from Isidore and therefore does not add another authority.

28 The Chronicle of Victor Tunnunensis ends in 565 and that of Marcellinus Comes in 558.

29 Excerptum Sangallense.

30 Given as 568, by Marius Aventicensis, all his dates at this period being a year too low.

Thayer's Note:

a Theophanes: III.430; the Liber Pontificalis: I.851 and passim; Marcellinus Comes: I.708; Marius Aventicensis: III.374. 'Fredegarius' is only sketchily dealt with in a previous chapter; Hodgkin will cover him best in VII.149.

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