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B. V. II.21‑28

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Gothic Wars

of
Procopius

published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1919

The text is in the public domain.

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B. G. I.8‑13

(Vol. III) Procopius
Gothic Wars

Book I (beginning)

 p3  1 1 Such, then, were the fortunes of the Romans in Libya. I shall now proceed to the Gothic War, first telling all that befell the Goths and Italians before this war.

2 During the reign of Zeno in Byzantium the power in the West was held by Augustus, whom the Romans used to call by the diminutive name Augustulus because he took over the empire while still a lad, his father Orestes, a man of the greatest discretion, administering it as regent for him. 3 Now it happened that the Romans a short time before had induced the Sciri and Alani and certain other Gothic nations to form an alliance with them; and from that time on it was their fortune to suffer at the hand of Alaric and Attila those things which have been told in the previous narrative.1 4 And in proportion as the barbarian element among them became strong, just so did the prestige of the Roman soldiers forthwith decline, and under the fair name of alliance  p5 they were more and more tyrannized over by the intruders and oppressed by them; so that the barbarians ruthlessly forced many other measures upon the Romans much against their will and finally demanded that they should divide with them the entire land of Italy. 5 And indeed they commanded Orestes to give them the third part of this, and when he would by no means agree to do so, they killed him immediately. 6 Now there was a certain man among the Romans named Odoacer, one of the bodyguards of the emperor, and he at that time agreed to carry out their commands, on condition that they should set him upon the throne. 7 And when he had received the supreme power in this way, he did the emperor no further harm, but allowed him to live thenceforth as a private citizen. 8 And by giving the third part of the land to the barbarians, and in this way gaining their allegiance most firmly he held the supreme power securely for ten years.2

9 It was at about this time that the Goths also, who were dwelling in Thrace with the permission of the emperor, took up arms against the Romans under the leadership of Theoderic, a man who was of patrician rank and had attained the consular office in Byzantium. 10 But the Emperor Zeno, who understood how to settle to his advantage any situation in which he found himself, advised Theoderic to proceed to Italy, attack Odoacer, and win for himself and the Goths the western dominion. 11 For it was better for him, he said, especially as he had attained the senatorial dignity, to force out a usurper and be ruler  p7 over all the Romans and Italians than to incur the great risk of a decisive struggle with the emperor.

12 Now Theoderic was pleased with the suggestion and went to Italy, and he was followed by the Gothic host, who placed in their waggons the women and children and such of their chattels as they were able to take with them. 13 And when they came near the Ionian Gulf,3 they were quite unable to cross over it, since they had no ships at hand; and so they made the journey around the gulf, advancing through the land of the Taulantii and the other nations of that region. 14 Here the forces of Odoacer encountered them, but after being defeated in many battles, they shut themselves up with their leader in Ravenna and such other towns as were especially strong. 15 And the Goths laid siege to these places and captured them all, in one way or another, as it chanced in each case, except that they were unable to capture, either by surrender or by storm, the fortresses of Caesena,4 which is three hundred stades distant from Ravenna,a and Ravenna itself, where Odoacer happened to be. 16 For this city of Ravenna lies in a level plain at the extremity of the Ionian Gulf, lacking two stades of being on the sea, and it is so situated as not to be easily approached either by ships or by a land army. 17 Ships cannot possibly put in to shore there because the sea itself prevents them by forming shoals for not less than thirty stades; consequently the beach at Ravenna, although to the eye of mariners it is very  p9 near at hand, is in reality very far away by reason of the great extent of the shoal-water. 18 And a land army cannot approach it at all; for the river Po, also called the Eridanus, which flows past Ravenna, coming from the boundaries of Celtica, and other navigable rivers together with some marshes, encircle it on all sides and so cause the city to be surrounded by water. 19 In that place a very wonderful thing takes place every day. For early in the morning the sea forms a kind of river and comes up over the land for the distance of a day's journey for an unencumbered traveller and becomes navigable in the midst of the mainland, and then in the late afternoon it turns back again, causing the inlet to disappear, and gathers the stream to itself.5 20 All those, therefore, who have to convey provisions into the city or carry them out from there for trade or for any other reason, place their cargoes in boats, and drawing them down to the place where the inlet is regularly formed, they await the inflow of the water. 21 And when this comes, the boats are lifted little by little from the ground and float, and the sailors on them set to work and from that time on are seafaring men. 22 And this is not the only place where this happens, but it is the regular occurrence along the whole coast in this region as far as the city of Aquileia. 23 However, it does not always take place in the same way at every time, but when the light of the moon is faint, the advance of the sea is not strong either, but from the first6 half-moon until the  p11 second the inflow has a tendency to be greater. So much for this matter.

24 But when the third year had already been spent by the Goths and Theoderic in their siege of Ravenna, the Goths, who were weary of the siege, and the followers of Odoacer, who were hard pressed by the lack of provisions, came to an agreement with each other through the mediation of the priest of Ravenna, the understanding being that both Theoderic and Odoacer should reside in Ravenna on terms of complete equality. 25 And for some time they observed the agreement; but afterward Theoderic caught Odoacer, as they say, plotting against him, and bidding him to a feast with treacherous intent slew him,7 and in this way, after gaining the adherence of such of the hostile barbarians as chanced to survive, he himself secured the supremacy over both Goths and Italians. 26 And though he did not claim the right to assume either the garb or the name of emperor of the Romans, but was called "rex" to the end of his life (for thus the barbarians are accustomed to call their leaders),8 still, in governing his own subjects, he invested himself with all the qualities which appropriately belong to one who is by birth an emperor. 27 For he was exceedingly careful to observe justice, he preserved the laws on a sure basis, he protected the land and kept it safe from the barbarians dwelling round about, and attained the highest possible degree of wisdom and manliness. 28 And he himself committed scarcely a single act of injustice against his subjects, nor would he brook such conduct on the part of  p13 anyone else who attempted it, except, indeed, that the Goths distributed among themselves the portion of the lands which Odoacer had given to his own partisans. 29 And although in name Theoderic was a usurper, yet in fact he was as truly an emperor as any who have distinguished themselves in this office from the beginning; and love for him among both Goths and Italians grew to be great, and that too contrary to the ordinary habits of men. 30 For in all states men's preferences are divergent, with the result that the government in power pleases for the moment only those with whom its acts find favour, but offends those whose judgment it violates. 31 But Theoderic reigned for thirty-seven years, and when he died, he had not only made himself an object of terror to all his enemies, but he also left to his subjects a keen sense of bereavement at his loss. And he died in the following manner.

32 Symmachus and his son-in‑law Boetius were men of noble and ancient lineage, and both had been leading men9 in the Roman senate and had been consuls. 33 But because they practised philosophy and were mindful of justice in a manner surpassed by no other men, relieving the destitution of both citizens and strangers by generous gifts of money, they attained great fame and thus led men of the basest sort to envy them. 34 Now such persons slandered them to Theoderic, and he, believing their slanders, put these two men to death, on the ground that they were setting about a revolution, and made their property confiscate to the public treasury. 35 And a few days later, while he was dining, the servants set before him  p15 the head of a great fish. This seemed to Theoderic to be the head of Symmachus newly slain. 36 Indeed, with its teeth set in its lower lip and its eyes looking at him with a grim and insane stare, it did resemble exceedingly a person threatening him. 37 And becoming greatly frightened at the extraordinary prodigy and shivering excessively, he retired running to his own chamber, and bidding them place many covers upon him, remained quiet. 38 But afterwards he disclosed to his physician Elpidius all that had happened and wept for the wrong he had done Symmachus and Boetius. 39 Then, having lamented and grieved exceedingly over the unfortunate occurrence, he died not long afterward. This was the first and last act of injustice which he committed toward his subjects, and the cause of it was that he had not made a thorough investigation, as he was accustomed to do, before passing judgment on the two men.

2 1 After his death the kingdom was taken over by Atalaric the son of Theoderic's daughter; he had reached the age of eight years and was being reared under the care of his mother Amalasuntha. 2 For his father had already departed from among men. And not long afterward Justinian succeeded to the imperial power in Byzantium. 3 Now Amalasuntha, as guardian of her child, administered the government, and she proved to be endowed with wisdom and regard for justice in the highest degree, displaying to a great extent the masculine temper. 4 As long as she stood at the head of the government she inflicted punishment  p17 upon no Roman in any case either by touching his person or by imposing a fine. 5 Furthermore, she did not give way to the Goths in their mad desire to wrong them, but she even restored to the children of Symmachus and Boetius their fathers' estates. 6 Now Amalasuntha wished to make her son resemble the Roman princes in his manner of life, and was already compelling him to attend the school of a teacher of letters. 7 And she chose out three among the old men of the Goths whom she knew to be prudent and refined above all the others, and bade them live with Atalaric. But the Goths were by no means pleased with this. 8 For because of their eagerness to wrong their subjects they wished to be ruled by him more after the barbarian fashion. 9 On one occasion the mother, finding the boy doing some wrong in his chamber, chastised him; and he in tears went off thence to the men's apartments. 10 And some Goths who met him made a great to‑do about this, and reviling Amalasuntha insisted that she wished to put the boy out of the world as quickly as possible, in order that she might marry a second husband and with him rule over the Goths and Italians. 11 And all the notable men among them gathered together, and coming before Amalasuntha made the charge that their king was not being educated correctly from their point of view nor to his own advantage. 12 For letters, they said, are far removed from manliness, and the teaching of old men results for the most part in a cowardly and submissive spirit. 13 Therefore the man who is to shew daring in any work and be great in renown ought to be freed from the timidity which teachers inspire and to take his training in arms.  p19 14 They added that even Theoderic would never allow any of the Goths to send their children to school; 15 for he used to say to them all that, if the fear of the strap once came over them, they would never have the resolution to despise sword or spear. 16 And they asked her to reflect that her father Theoderic before he died had become master of all this territory and had invested himself with a kingdom which was his by no sort of right, although he had not so much as heard of letters. 17 "Therefore, O Queen," they said, "have done with these tutors now, and do you give to Atalaric some men of his own age to be his companions, who will pass through the period of youth with him and thus give him an impulse toward that excellence which is in keeping with the custom of barbarians."

18 When Amalasuntha heard this, although she did not approve, yet because she feared the plotting of these men, she made it appear that their words found favour with her, and granted everything that barbarians desired of her. 19 And when the old men had left Atalaric, he was given the company of some boys who were to share his daily life, — lads who had not yet come of age but were only a little in advance of him in years; and these boys, as soon as he came of age, by enticing him to drunkenness and to intercourse with women, made him an exceptionally depraved youth, and of such stupid folly that he was disinclined to follow his mother's advice. 20 Consequently he utterly refused to champion her cause, although the barbarians were by now openly leaguing together against her: for they were boldly commanding the  p21 woman to withdraw from the palace. 21 But Amalasuntha neither became frightened at the plotting of the Goths nor did she, womanlike, weakly give way, but still displaying the dignity befitting a queen, she chose out three men who were the most notable among the barbarians and at the same time the most responsible for the sedition against her, and bade them go to the limits of Italy, not together, however, but as far apart as possible from one another; but it was made to appear that they were being sent in order to guard the land against the enemy's attack. 22 But nevertheless these men by the help of their friends and relations, who were all still in communication with them, even travelling a long journey for the purpose, continued to make ready the details of their plot against Amalasuntha.

And the woman, being unable to endure these things any longer, devised the following plan. 23 Sending to Byzantium she enquired of the Emperor Justinian whether it was his wish that Amalasuntha, the daughter of Theoderic, should come to him; for she wished to depart from Italy as quickly as possible. 24 And the emperor, being pleased by the suggestion, bade her come and sent orders that the finest of the houses in Epidamnus should be put in readiness, in order that when Amalasuntha should come there, she might lodge in it and after spending such time there as she wished might then betake herself to Byzantium. 25 When Amalasuntha learned this, she chose out certain Goths who were energetic men and especially devoted  p23 to her and sent them to kill the three whom I have just mentioned, as having been chiefly responsible for the sedition against her. 26 And she herself placed all her possessions, including four hundred centenaria10 of gold, in a single ship and embarked on it some of those most faithful to her and bade them sail to Epidamnus, and, upon arriving there, to anchor in its harbour, but to discharge from the ship nothing whatever of its cargo until she herself should send orders. 27 And she did this in order that, if she should learn that the three men had been destroyed, she might remain there and summon the ship back, having no further fear from her enemies; but if it should chance that any one of them was left alive, no good hope being left her, she purposed to sail with all speed and find safety for herself and her possessions in the emperor's land. 28 Such was the purpose with which Amalasuntha was sending the ship to Epidamnus; and when it arrived at the harbour of that city, those who had the money carried out her orders. 29 But a little later, when the murders had been accomplished as she wished, Amalasuntha summoned the ship back and remaining at Ravenna strengthened her rule and made it as secure as might be.

3 1 There was among the Goths one Theodatus by name, son of Amalafrida, the sister of Theoderic, a man already of mature years, versed in the Latin literature and the teachings of Plato, but without  p25 any experience whatever in war and taking no part in active life, and yet extraordinarily devoted to the pursuit of money. 2 This Theodatus had gained possession of most of the lands in Tuscany, and he was eager by violent methods to wrest the remainder from their owners. For to have a neighbour seemed to Theodatus a kind of misfortune. 3 Now Amalasuntha was exerting herself to curb this desire of his, and consequently he was always vexed with her and resentful. 4 He formed the plan, therefore, of handing over Tuscany to the Emperor Justinian, in order that, upon receiving from him a great sum of money and the senatorial dignity, he might pass the rest of his life in Byzantium. 5 After Theodatus had formed this plan, there came from Byzantium to the chief priest of Rome two envoys, Hypatius, the priest of Ephesus, and Demetrius, from Philippi in Macedonia, to confer about a tenet of faith, which is a subject of disagreement and controversy among the Christians. 6 As for the points in dispute, although I know them well, I shall by no means make mention of them; for I consider it a sort of insane folly to investigate the nature of God, enquiring of what sort it is. For man cannot, I think, apprehend even human affairs with accuracy, much less those things which pertain to the nature of God. 7 As for me, therefore, I shall maintain a discreet silence concerning these matters, with the sole object that old and venerable beliefs may not be discredited. 8 For I, for my part, will say nothing whatever about God save that He is altogether good and has all things in His power. 9 But let each one say whatever he thinks he knows about these matters, both priest and layman.  p27 As for Theodatus, he met these envoys secretly and directed them to report to the Emperor Justinian what he had planned, explaining what has just been set forth by me.

10 But at this juncture Atalaric, having plunged into a drunken revel which passed all bounds, was seized with a wasting disease. 11 Wherefore Amalasuntha was in great perplexity; for, on the one hand, she had no confidence in the loyalty of her son, now that he had gone so far in his depravity, and, on the other, she thought that if Atalaric also should be removed from among men, her life would not be safe thereafter, since she had given offence to the most notable of the Goths. 12 For this reason she was desirous of handing over the power of the Goths and Italians to the Emperor Justinian, in order that she herself might be saved. 13 And it happened that Alexander, a man of the senate, together with Demetrius and Hypatius, had come to Ravenna. 14 For when the emperor had heard that Amalasuntha's boat was anchored in the harbour of Epidamnus, but that she herself was still tarrying, although much time had passed, he had sent Alexander to investigate and report to him the whole situation with regard to Amalasuntha; 15 but it was given out that the emperor had sent Alexander as an envoy to her because he was greatly disturbed by the events at Lilybaeum which have been set forth by me in the preceding narrative,11 and because ten Huns from the army in Libya had taken flight and reached Campania, and Uliaris, who was guarding Naples, had received them not at all against the will of Amalasuntha, and also because the Goths, in making war on the Gepaedes about  p29 Sirmium,12 had treated the city of Gratiana, situated at the extremity of Illyricum, as a hostile town. 16 So by way of protesting to Amalasuntha with regard to these things, he wrote a letter and sent Alexander.

And when Alexander arrived in Rome, he left there the priests busied with the matters for which they had come, and he himself, journeying on to Ravenna and coming before Amalasuntha, reported the emperor's message secretly, and openly delivered the letter to her. 17 And the purport of the writing was as follows: "The fortress of Lilybaeum, which is ours, you have taken by force and are now holding, and barbarians, slaves of mine who have run away, you have received and have not even yet decided to restore them to me, and besides all this you have treated outrageously my city of Gratiana, though it belongs to you in no way whatever. 18 Wherefore it is time for you to consider what the end of these things will some day be." 19 And when this letter had been delivered to her and she had read it, she replied in the following words: "One may reasonably expect an emperor who is great and lays claim to virtue to assist an orphan child who does not in the least comprehend what is being done, rather than for no cause at all to quarrel with him. 20 For unless a struggle be waged on even terms, even the victory it gains brings no honour. 21 But thou dost threaten Atalaric on account of Lilybaeum, and ten runaways, and a mistake, made by soldiers in going against their enemies, which through some misapprehension chanced to affect a friendly city. 22 Nay! do not thus; do not thus, O Emperor, but call to mind  p31 that when thou wast making war upon the Vandals, we not only refrained from hindering thee, but quite zealously even gave thee free passage against the enemy and provided a market in which to buy the indispensable supplies,13 furnishing especially the multitude of horses to which thy final mastery over the enemy was chiefly due. 23 And yet it is not merely the man who offers an alliance of arms to his neighbours that would in justice be called their ally and friend but also the man who actually is found assisting another in war in regard to his every need. 24 And consider that at that time thy fleet had no other place at which to put in from the sea except Sicily, and that without the supplies bought there it could not go on to Libya. 25 Therefore thou art indebted to us for the chief cause of thy victory; for the one who provides a solution for a difficult situation is justly entitled also to the credit for the results which flow from his help. 26 And what could be sweeter for a man, O Emperor, than gaining the mastery over his enemies? And yet in our case the outcome is that we suffer no slight disadvantage, in that we do not, in accordance with the custom of war, enjoy our share of the spoils. 27 And now thou art also claiming the right to despoil us of Lilybaeum in Sicily, which has belonged to the Goths from ancient times, a lone rock, O Emperor, worth not so much as a piece of silver, which, had it happened to belong to thy kingdom from ancient times, thou mightest in equity at least have granted to Atalaric as a reward for his services, since he lent thee assistance in the times of thy most pressing necessity." 28 Such was the message which Amalasuntha wrote openly to the emperor; but  p33 secretly she agreed to put the whole of Italy into his hands. 29 And the envoys, returning to Byzantium, reported everything to the Emperor Justinian, Alexander telling him the course which had been decided upon by Amalasuntha, and Demetrius and Hypatius all that they had heard Theodatus say, adding that Theodatus enjoyed great power in Tuscany, where he had become owner of the most of the land and consequently would be able with no trouble at all to carry his agreement into effect. 30 And the Emperor, overjoyed at this situation, immediately sent to Italy Peter, an Illyrian by birth, but a citizen of Thessalonica, a man who was one of the trained speakers in Byzantium, a discreet and gentle person withal and fitted by nature to persuade men.

4 1 But while these things were going on as I have explained, Theodatus was denounced before Amalasuntha by many Tuscans, who stated that he had done violence to all the people of Tuscany and had without cause seized their estates, taking not only all private estates but especially those belonging to the royal household, which the Romans are accustomed to call "patrimonium." 2 For this reason the woman called Theodatus to an investigation, and when, being confronted by his denouncers, he had been proved guilty without any question, she compelled him to pay back everything which he had wrongfully seized and then dismissed him. 3 And since in this way she had given the greatest offence to the man, from that time on she was on hostile terms with him,  p35 exceedingly vexed as he was by reason of his fondness for money, because he was unable to continue his unlawful and violent practices.

4 At about this same time Atalaric, being quite wasted away by the disease, came to his end, having lived eight years in office. As for Amalasuntha, since it was fated that she should fare ill, she took no account of the nature of Theodatus and of what she had recently done to him, and supposed that she would suffer no unpleasant treatment at his hands if she should do the man some rather unusual favour. 5 She accordingly summoned him, and when he came, set out to cajole him, saying that for some time she had known well that it was to be expected that her son would soon die; for she had heard the opinion of all the physicians, who agreed in their judgment, and had herself perceived that the body of Atalaric continued to waste away. 6 And since she saw that both Goths and Italians had an unfavourable opinion regarding Theodatus, who had now come to represent the race of Theoderic, she had conceived the desire to clear him of this evil name, in order that it might not stand in his way if he were called to the throne. 7 But at the same time, she explained, the question of justice disturbed her, at the thought that those who claimed to have been wronged by him already should find that they had no one to whom they might report what had befallen them, but that they now had their enemy as their master. 8 For these reasons, then, although she invited him to the throne after his name should have been cleared in this way, yet it was necessary, she said, that he should be bound by the most solemn oaths that while the title of the office should  p37 be conferred upon Theodatus, she herself should in fact hold the power no less than before. 9 When Theodatus heard this, although he swore to all the conditions which Amalasuntha wished, he entered into the agreement with treacherous intent, remembering all that she had previously done to him. 10 Thus Amalasuntha, being deceived by her own judgment and the oaths of Theodatus, established him in the office. 11 And sending some Goths as envoys to Byzantium, she made this known to the Emperor Justinian.

12 But Theodatus, upon receiving the supreme power, began to act in all things contrary to the hopes she had entertained and to the promises he had made. 13 And after winning the adherence of the relatives of the Goths who had been slain by her — and they were both numerous and men of very high standing among the Goths — he suddenly put to death some of the connections of Amalasuntha and imprisoned her, the envoys not having yet reached Byzantium. 14 Now there is a certain lake in Tuscany called Vulsina,14 within which rises an island,15 exceedingly small but having a strong fortress upon it. 15 There Theodatus confined Amalasuntha and kept her under guard. But fearing that by this act he had given offence to the emperor, as actually proved to be the case, he sent some men of the Roman senate, Liberius and Opilio and certain others, directing them to excuse his conduct to the emperor with all their power by assuring him that Amalasuntha had met with no harsh treatment at his hands, although  p39 she had perpetrated irreparable outrages upon him before. 16 And he himself wrote in this sense to the emperor, and also compelled Amalasuntha, much against her will, to write the same thing.

17 Such was the course of these events. But Peter had already been despatched by the emperor on an embassy to Italy with instructions to meet Theodatus without the knowledge of any others, and after Theodatus had given pledges by an oath that none of their dealings should be divulged, he was then to make a secure settlement with him regarding Tuscany; 18 and meeting Amalasuntha stealthily he was to make such an arrangement with her regarding the whole of Italy as would be to the profit of either party. 19 But openly his mission was to negotiate with regard to Lilybaeum and the other matters which I have lately mentioned. For as yet the emperor had heard nothing about the death of Atalaric or the succession of Theodatus to the throne, or the fate which had befallen Amalasuntha. 20 And Peter was already on his way when he met the envoys of Amalasuntha and learned, in the first place, that Theodatus had come to the throne; 21 and a little later, upon reaching the city of Aulon,16 which lies on the Ionian Gulf, he met there the company of Liberius and Opilio, and learned everything which had taken place, and reporting this to the emperor he remained there.

22 And when the Emperor Justinian heard these things, he formed the purpose of throwing the Goths and Theodatus into confusion; accordingly he wrote  p41 a letter to Amalasuntha, stating that he was eager to give her every possible support, and at the same time he directed Peter by no means to conceal this message, but to make it known to Theodatus himself and to all the Goths. 23 And when the envoys from Italy arrived in Byzantium, they all, with a single exception, reported the whole matter to the emperor, and especially Liberius; 24 for he was a man unusually upright and honourable, and one who knew well how to shew regard for the truth;25 but Opilio alone declared with the greatest persistence that Theodatus had committed no offence against Amalasuntha. Now when Peter arrived in Italy, it so happened that Amalasuntha had been removed from among men. 26 For the relatives of the Goths who had been slain by her came before Theodatus declaring that neither his life nor theirs was secure unless Amalasuntha should be put out of their way as quickly as possible. 27 And as soon as he gave in to them, they went to the island and killed Amalasuntha, — 28 an act which grieved exceedingly all the Italians and the Goths as well. 29 For the woman had the strictest regard for every kind of virtue, as has been stated by me a little earlier.17 30 Now Peter protested openly18 to Theodatus and the other Goths that because this base deed had been committed by them, there would be war without truce between the emperor and themselves. 31 But Theodatus, such was his stupid folly, while still holding the slayers of Amalasuntha in honour and favour kept trying to persuade Peter and the  p43 emperor that this unholy deed had been committed by the Goths by no means with his approval, but decidedly against his will.

5 1 Meanwhile it happened that Belisarius had distinguished himself by the defeat of Gelimer and the Vandals. And the emperor, upon learning what had befallen Amalasuntha, immediately entered upon the war, being in the ninth year of his reign. 2 And he first commanded Mundus, the general of Illyricum, to go to Dalmatia, which was subject to the Goths, and make trial of Salones.19 Now Mundus was by birth a barbarian, but exceedingly loyal to the cause of the emperor and an able warrior. Then he sent Belisarius by sea with four thousand soldiers from the regular troops and the foederati,20 and about three thousand of the Isaurians. 3 And the commanders were men of note: Constantinus and Bessas from the land of Thrace, and Peranius from Iberia21 which is hard by Media, a man who was by birth a member of the royal family of the Iberians, but had before this time come as a deserter to the Romans through enmity toward the Persians; and the levies of cavalry were commanded by Valentinus, Magnus, and Innocentius, and the infantry by Herodian, Paulus, Demetrius, and Ursicinus, while the leader of the Isaurians was Ennes. 4 And there were also two hundred Huns as  p45 allies and three hundred Moors. But the general in supreme command over all was Belisarius, and he had with him many notable men as spearmen and guards. 5 And he was accompanied also by Photius, the son of his wife Antonina by a previous marriage; he was still a young man wearing his first beard, but possessed the greatest discretion and shewed a strength of character beyond his years. 6 And the emperor instructed Belisarius to give out that his destination was Carthage, but as soon as they should arrive at Sicily, they were to disembark there as if obliged for some reason to do so, and make trial of the island. 7 And if it should be possible to reduce it to subjection without any trouble, they were to take possession and not let it go again; but if they should meet with any obstacle, they were to sail with all speed to Libya, giving no one an opportunity to perceive what their intention was.

8 And he also sent a letter to the leaders of the Franks as follows: "The Goths, having seized by violence Italy, which was ours, have not only refused absolutely to give it back, but have committed further acts of injustice against us which are unendurable and pass beyond all bounds. 9 For this reason we have been compelled to take the field against them, and it is proper that you should join with us in waging this war, which is rendered yours as well as ours not only by the orthodox faith, which rejects the opinion of the Arians, but also by the enmity we both feel toward the Goths." 10 Such was the emperor's letter; and making a gift of money to them, he agreed to give more as soon as they should take an active part. And they with all zeal promised to fight in alliance with him.

 p47  11 Now Mundus and the army under his command entered Dalmatia, and engaging with the Goths who encountered them there, defeated them in the battle and took possession of Salones. 12 As for Belisarius, he put in at Sicily and took Catana. And making that place his base of operations, he took over Syracuse and the other cities by surrender without any trouble; except, indeed, that the Goths who were keeping guard in Panormus,22 having confidence in the fortifications of the place, which was a strong one, were quite unwilling to yield to Belisarius and ordered him to lead his army away from there with all speed. 13 But Belisarius, considering that it was impossible to capture the place from the landward side, ordered the fleet to sail into the harbour, which extended right up to the wall. 14 For it was outside the circuit-wall and entirely without defenders. Now when the ships had anchored there, it was seen that the masts were higher than the parapet. 15 Straightway, therefore, he filled all the small boats of the ships with bowmen and hoisted them to the tops of the masts. 16 And when from these boats the enemy were shot at from above, they fell into such an irresistible fear that they immediately delivered Panormus to Belisarius by surrender. 17 As a result of this the emperor held all Sicily subject and tributary to himself. And at that time it so happened that there fell to Belisarius a piece of good fortune beyond the power of words to describe. 18 For, having received the dignity of the consulship because of his victory over the Vandals, while he was still holding this honour, and after he had won the whole of Sicily, on the last day of  p49 his consulship, he marched into Syracuse, loudly applauded by the army and by the Sicilians and throwing golden coins to all. 19 This coincidence, however, was not intentionally arranged by him, but it was a happy chance which befell the man, that after having recovered the whole of the island for the Romans he marched into Syracuse on that particular day; and so it was not in the senate house in Byzantium, as was customary, but there that he laid down the office of the consuls and so became an ex‑consul. Thus, then, did good fortune attend Belisarius.

6 1 And when Peter learned of the conquest of Sicily, he was still more insistent in his efforts to frighten Theodatus and would not let him go. 2 But he, turning coward and reduced to speechlessness no less than if he himself had become a captive with Gelimer,23 entered into negotiations with Peter without the knowledge of any others, and between them they formed an agreement, providing that Theodatus should retire from all Sicily in favour of the Emperor Justinian, and should send him also a golden crown every year weighing three hundred litrae,24 and Gothic warriors to the number of three thousand whenever he should wish; and that Theodatus himself should have no authority to kill any priest or senator, or to confiscate his property for the public treasury except by the decision of the emperor; 3 and  p51 that if Theodatus wished to advance any of his subjects to the patrician or some other senatorial rank this honour should not be bestowed by him, but he should ask the emperor to bestow it; 4 and that the Roman populace, in acclaiming their sovereign, should always shout the name of the emperor first, and afterward that of Theodatus, both in the theatres and in the hippodromes and wherever else it should be necessary for such a thing to be done; 5 furthermore, that no statue of bronze nor of any other material should ever be set up to Theodatus alone, but statues must always be made for both, and they must stand thus: on the right that of the emperor, and on the other side that of Theodatus. And after Theodatus had written in confirmation of this agreement he dismissed the ambassador.

6 But, a little later, terror laid hold upon the man's soul and brought him into fear which knew no bound and tortured his mind, filling him with dread at the name of war, and reminding him that if the agreement drawn up by Peter and himself did not please the emperor at all, war would straightway come upon him. 7 Once more, therefore, he summoned Peter, who had already reached Albani,25 for a secret conference, and enquired of the man whether he thought that the agreement would be pleasing to the emperor. 8 And he replied that he supposed it would. "But if," said Theodatus, "these things do not please the man at all, what will happen then?" 9 And Peter replied "After that you will have to wage war, most noble Sir." "But what is this," he said; "is it just, my dear ambassador?" And Peter, immediately taking him up, "And how is it not just, my good Sir, that  p53 the pursuits appropriate to each man's nature should be preserved?" "What, pray, may this mean?" asked Theodatus. 10 "It means," was the reply, "that your great interest is to philosophize, while Justinian's is to be a worthy emperor of the Romans. And there is this difference, that for one who has practised philosophy it would never be seemly to bring about the death of men, especially in such great numbers, and it should be added that this view accords with the teachings of Plato, which you have evidently espoused, and hence it is unholy for you not to be free from all bloodshed; but for him it is not at all inappropriate to seek to acquire a land which has belonged from of old to the realm which is his own." 11 Thereupon Theodatus, being convinced by this advice, agreed to retire from the kingship in favour of the Emperor Justinian, and both he and his wife took an oath to this effect. 12 He then bound Peter by oaths that he would not divulge this agreement until he should see that the emperor would not accept the former convention. 13 And he sent with him Rusticus, a priest who was especially devoted to him and a Roman citizen, to negotiate on the basis of this agreement. And he also entrusted a letter to these men.

14 So Peter and Rusticus, upon reaching Byzantium, reported the first decision to the emperor, just as Theodatus had directed them to do. But when the emperor was quite unwilling to accept the proposal, they revealed the plan which had been committed to writing afterwards. 15 This was to the following effect:  p55 "I am no stranger to royal courts, but it was my fortune to have been born in the house of my uncle while he was king and to have been reared in a manner worthy of my race; and yet I have had little experience of wars and of the turmoils which wars entail. 16 For since from my earliest years I have been passionately addicted to scholarly disputations and have always devoted my time to this sort of thing, I have consequently been up to the present time very far removed from the confusion of battles. 17 Therefore it is utterly absurd that I should aspire to the honours which royalty confers and thus lead a life fraught with danger, when it is possible for me to avoid them both. 18 For neither one of these is a pleasure to me; the first, because it is liable to satiety, for it is a surfeit of all sweet things, and the second, because lack of familiarity with such a life throws one into confusion. 19 But as for me, if estates should be provided me which yielded an annual income of no less than twelve centenaria,26 I should regard the kingdom as of less account than them, and I shall hand over to thee forthwith the power of the Goths and Italians. 20 For I should find more pleasure in being a farmer free from all cares than in passing my life amid a king's anxieties, attended as they are by danger after danger. 21 Pray send a man as quickly as possible into whose hands I may fittingly deliver Italy and the affairs of the kingdom."

22 Such was the purport of the letter of Theodatus. And the emperor, being exceedingly pleased, replied as follows: "From of old have I heard by report that you were a man of discretion, but now, taught by experience, I know it by the decision you have reached  p57 not to await the issue of the war. 23 For certain men who in the past have followed such a course have been completely undone. And you will never repent having made us friends instead of enemies. 24 But you will not only have this that you ask at our hands, but you will also have the distinction of being enrolled in the highest honours of the Romans. 25 Now for the present I have sent Athanasius and Peter, so that each party may have surety by some agreement. And almost immediately Belisarius also will visit you to complete all the arrangements which have been agreed upon between us." 26 After writing this the emperor sent Athanasius, the brother of Alexander, who had previously gone on an embassy to Atalaric, as has been said,27 and for the second time Peter the orator, whom I have mentioned above,28 enjoining upon them to assign to Theodatus the estates of the royal household, which they call "patrimonium"; and not until after they had drawn up a written document and had secured oaths to fortify the agreement were they to summon Belisarius from Sicily, in order that he might take over the palace and all Italy and hold them under guard. 27 And he wrote to Belisarius that as soon as they should summon him he should go thither with all speed.

7 1 But meantime, while the emperor was engaged in these negotiations and these envoys were travelling to Italy, the Goths, under command of Asinarius and Gripas and some others, had come with a great army into Dalmatia. 2 And when they had reached the  p59 neighbourhood of Salones, Mauricius, the son of Mundus, who was not marching out for battle but, with a few men, was on a scouting expedition, encountered them. 3 A violent engagement ensued in which the Goths lost their foremost and noblest men, but the Romans almost their whole company, including their general Mauricius. 4 And when Mundus heard of this, being overcome with grief at the misfortune and by this time dominated by a mighty fury, he went against the enemy without the least delay and regardless of order. 5 The battle which took place was stubbornly contested, and the result was a Cadmean victory29 for the Romans. For although the most of the enemy fell there and their rout had been decisive, Mundus, who went on killing and following up the enemy wherever he chanced to find them and was quite unable to restrain his mind because of the misfortune of his son, was wounded by some fugitive or other and fell. Thereupon the pursuit ended and the two armies separated. 6 And at that time the Romans recalled the verse of the Sibyl, which had been pronounced in earlier times and seemed to them a portent. For the words of the saying were that when Africa should be held, the "world" would perish together with its offspring. 7 This, however, was not the real meaning of the oracle, but after intimating that Libya would be once more subject to the Romans, it added this statement also, that when that time came Mundus would perish together with his son. For it runs as follows: "Africa capta Mundus cum nato peribit."30 8 But since "mundus" in the Latin tongue has the force of "world," they thought  p61 that the saying had reference to the world. So much, then, for this. As for Salones, it was not entered by anyone. 9 For the Romans went back home, since they were left altogether without a commander, and the Goths, seeing that not one of their nobles was left them, fell into fear and took possession of the strongholds in the neighbourhood; 10 for they had no confidence in the defences of Salones, and, besides, the Romans who lived there were not very well disposed towards them.

11 When Theodatus heard this, he took no account of the envoys who by now had come to him. For he was by nature much given to mistrust, and he by no means kept his mind steadfast, but the present fortune always reduced him now to a state of terror which knew no measure, and this contrary to reason and the proper understanding of the situation, and again brought him to the opposite extreme of unspeakable boldness. 12 And so at that time, when he heard of the death of Mundus and Mauricius, he was lifted up exceedingly and in a manner altogether unjustified by what had happened, and he saw fit to taunt the envoys when they at length appeared before him. 13 And when Peter on one occasion remonstrated with him because he had transgressed his agreement with the emperor, Theodatus called both of them publicly and spoke as follows: 14 "The position of envoys is a proud one and in general has come to be held in honour among all men; but envoys preserve for themselves these their progressives only so long as they guard the dignity of their embassy by the propriety of their own conduct. 15 For men have sanctioned as just the killing of an envoy whenever he is either found to have insulted a  p63 sovereign or has had knowledge of a woman who is the wife of another." 16 Such were the words with which Theodatus inveighed against Peter, not because he had approached a woman, but, apparently, in order to make good his claim that there were charges which might lead to the death of an ambassador. But the envoys replied as follows: 17 "The facts are not, O Ruler of the Goths, as thou hast stated them, nor canst thou, under cover of flimsy pretexts, wantonly perpetrate unholy deeds upon men who are envoys. 18 For it is not possible for an ambassador, even if he wishes it, to become an adulterer, since it is not easy for him even to partake of water except by the will of those who guard him. 19 And as for the proposals which he has received from the lips of him who has sent him and then delivers, he himself cannot reasonably incur the blame which arises from them, in case they be not good, but he who has given the command would justly bear this charge, while the sole responsibility of the ambassador is to have discharged his mission. 20 We, therefore, shall say all that we were instructed by the emperor to say when we were sent, and do thou hear us quickly; for if thou art stirred to excitement, all thou canst do will be to wrong men who are ambassadors. 21 It is time, therefore, for thee of thine own free will to perform all that thou didst promise the emperor. This, indeed, is the purpose for which we have come. And the letter which he wrote to thee thou hast already received, but as for the writing which he sent to the foremost of the Goths, to no others shall we give it than to them." 22 When the leading men of the barbarians, who were present, heard this speech of the envoys, they bade  p65 them give to Theodatus what had been written to them. 23 And it ran as follows: "It has been the object of our care to receive you back into our state, whereat you may well be pleased. For you will come to us, not in order to be made of less consequence, but that you may be more honoured. 24 And, besides, we are not bidding the Goths enter into strange or alien customs, but into those of a people with whom you were once familiar, though you have by chance been separated from them for a season. For these reasons Athanasius and Peter have been sent to you, and you ought to assist them in all things." 25 Such was the purport of this letter. But after Theodatus had read everything, he not only decided not to perform in deed the promises he had made to the emperor, but also put the envoys under a strict guard.

26 But when the Emperor Justinian heard these things and what had taken place in Dalmatia, he sent Constantianus, who commanded the royal grooms, into Illyricum, bidding him gather an army from there and make an attempt on Salones, in whatever manner he might be able; and he commanded Belisarius to enter Italy with all speed and to treat the Goths as enemies. 27 So Constantianus came to Epidamnus and spent some time there gathering an army. But in the meantime the Goths, under the leadership of Gripas, came with another army into Dalmatia and took possession of Salones; 28 and Constantianus, when all his preparations were as complete as possible, departed from Epidamnus with his whole force and cast anchor at Epidaurus,31 which is on the right as  p67 one sails into the Ionian Gulf. Now it so happened that some men were there whom Gripas had sent out as spies. 29 And when they took note of the ships and the army of Constantianus it seemed to them that both the sea and the whole land were full of soldiers, and returning to Gripas they declared that Constantianus was bringing against them an army of men numbering many tens of thousands. 30 And he, being plunged into great fear, thought it inexpedient to meet their attack, and at the same time he was quite unwilling to be besieged by the emperor's army, since it so completely commanded the sea; 31 but he was disturbed most of all by the fortifications of Salones (since the greater part of them had already fallen down), and by the exceedingly suspicious attitude on the part of the inhabitants of the place toward the Goths. 32 And for this reason he departed thence with his whole army as quickly as possible and made camp in the plain which is between Salones and the city of Scardon.32 And Constantianus, sailing with all his ships from Epidaurus, put in at Lysina,33 which is an island in the gulf. 33 Thence he sent forward some of his men, in order that they might make enquiry concerning the plans of Gripas and report them to him. Then, after learning from them the whole situation, he sailed straight for Salones with all speed. 34 And when he had put in at a place close to the city, he disembarked his army on the mainland and himself remained quiet there; but he selected five hundred from the army, and setting over them as commander Siphilas, one of his own bodyguards, he commanded them to seize the narrow pass34 which, as he had been informed, was in the  p69 outskirts of the city. And this Siphilas did. 35 And Constantianus and his whole land army entered Salones on the following day, and the fleet anchored close by. 36 Then Constantianus proceeded to look after the fortifications of the city, building up in haste all such parts of them as had fallen down; and Gripas, with the Gothic army, on the seventh day after the Romans had taken possession of Salones, departed from there and betook themselves to Ravenna; and thus Constantianus gained possession of all Dalmatia and Liburnia, bringing over to his side all the Goths who were settled there. 37 Such were the events in Dalmatia. And the winter drew to a close, and thus ended the first year of this war, the history of which Procopius has written.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Book III.ii.7 ff., iv.29 ff.

2 Odoacer was defeated and shut up in Ravenna by Theoderic in 489, surrendered to him in 493, and was put to death in the same year. His independent rule (τυραννίς) therefore lasted thirteen years.

3 Meaning the whole Adriatic; cf. chap. xv.16, note.

4 Modern Cesena.

5 He means that an estuary (πορθμός) is formed by the rising tide in the morning, and the water flows out again as the tide falls in the evening.

6 From the first until the third quarter.

7 See note in Bury's edition of Gibbon, Vol. IV p180, for an interesting account of this event.

8 This is a general observation; the title "rex" was current among the barbarians to indicate a position inferior to that of a βασιλεύς or "imperator"; cf. VI.xiv.38.

9 Probably a reminiscence of the "princeps senatus" of classical times.

10 See Book I.xxii.4; III.vi.2 and note.

11 Book IV.v.11 ff.

12 Near modern Mitrowitz.

13 Cf. Book III.xiv.5, 6.

14 Modern Bolsena.

15 Marta; "now entirely uninhabited, but with a few steps cut in the rock which are said to have led to the prison of Amalasuntha." — Hodgkin.

16 Modern Avlona in Albania.

17 Chap. ii.3.

18 See Gibbon's note (chap. xli), amplified in Bury's edition, Vol. IV p304, for additional light on the part played by Justinian and Peter in this affair.

19 Or Salona, near modern Spalato.

20 Auxiliaries; see Book III.xi.3, 4, and note.

21 Corresponding roughly to modern Georgia, just south of the Caucasus.

22 Modern Palermo.

23 The captivity of Gelimer is described in Book IV.vii.12‑17; ix.11‑14.

24 At present values "worth about £12,000." — Hodgkin.

25 Modern Albano; on the Appian Way. Cf.  Book VI.iv.8.

26 See Book I.xxii.4; III.iv.2, note.

27 Chap. iii.13.

28 Chap. iii.30 , iv.17 ff.

29 Proverbial for a victory in which the victor is slain; probably from the story of the Theban, or "Cadmean," heroes Eteocles and Polynices.

30 See Bury's edition of Gibbon, Vol. IV App. 15, for a discussion of the oracle.

31 Modern Ragusa Vecchia.

Thayer's Note: The town has now reverted to its Croatian name, Cavtat.

32 Near Sebenico.

33 Modern Lesina.

34 An important approach to the city from the west.


Thayer's Note:

a The straight-line distance from Cesena to Ravenna (measured from the Rocca Malatestiana to the Mausoleum of Theodoric, taken as approximations to the center of each town respectively) is 21.8 Roman miles, over remarkably flat terrain. By the usual rough reckoning of 8 stadia to the mile, the distance is more like 175 stadia; calling the distance 300 stadia would make the mile equal to more than 13½ stadia.


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