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I.1‑7

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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I.14‑23

(Vol. III) Procopius
Gothic Wars

Book I (continued)

 p69  8 1 And Belisarius, leaving guards in Syracuse and Panormus, crossed with the rest of the army from Messana to Rhegium (where the myths of the poets say Scylla and Charybdis were), and every day the people of that region kept coming over to him. 2 For since their towns had from of old been without walls, they had no means at all of guarding them, and because of their hostility toward the Goths they were, as was natural, greatly dissatisfied with their present government. 3 And Ebrimous came over to Belisarius as a deserter from the Goths, together with all his followers; this man was the son-in‑law of Theodatus, being married to Theodenanthe, his daughter. And  p71 he was straightway sent to the emperor and received many gifts of honour and in particular attained the patrician dignity. 4 And the army of Belisarius marched from Rhegium through Bruttium and Lucania, and the fleet of ships accompanied it, sailing close to the mainland. 5 But when they reached Campania, they came upon a city on the sea, Naples by name, which was strong not only because of the nature of its site, but also because it contained a numerous garrison of Goths. 6 And Belisarius commanded the ships to anchor in the harbour, which was beyond the range of missiles, while he himself made his camp near the city. He then first took possession by surrender of the fort which is in the suburb, and afterwards permitted the inhabitants of the city at their own request to send some of their notables into his camp, in order that they might tell what their wish was and, after hearing his reply, report to the populace. 7 Straightway, therefore, the Neapolitans sent Stephanus. And he, upon coming before Belisarius, spoke as follows:

"You are not acting justly, O general, in taking the field against men who are Romans and have done no wrong, who inhabit but a small city and have over us a guard of barbarians as masters, so that it does not even lie in our power, if we desire to do so, to oppose them. 8 But it so happens that even these guards had to leave their wives and children, and their most precious possessions in the hands of Theodatus before they came to keep guard over us. 9 Therefore, if they treat with you at all, they will plainly be betraying, not the city, but themselves.  p73 10 And if one must speak the truth with no concealment, you have not counselled to your advantage, either, in coming against us. For if you capture Rome, Naples will be subject to you without any further trouble, whereas if you are repulsed from there, it is probable that you will not be able to hold even this city securely. 11 Consequently the time you spend on this siege will be spent to no purpose."

So spoke Stephanus. And Belisarius replied as follows:

12 "Whether we have acted wisely or foolishly in coming here is not a question which we propose to submit to the Neapolitans. But we desire that you first weigh carefully such matters as are appropriate to your deliberations and then act solely in accordance with your own interests. 13 Receive into your city, therefore, the emperor's army, which has come to secure your freedom and that of the other Italians, and do not choose the course which will bring upon you the most grievous misfortunes. 14 For those who, in order to rid themselves of slavery or any other shameful thing, go into war, such men, if they fare well in the struggle, have double good fortune, because along with their victory they have also acquired freedom from their troubles, and if defeated they gain some consolation for themselves, in that they have not of their own free will chosen to follow the worse fortune. 15 But as for those who have the opportunity to be free without fighting, but yet enter into a struggle in order to make their condition of slavery permanent, such men, even if it so happens that they conquer, have failed in the most vital point, and if in the battle they fare less happily than they wished, they will have, along with their general ill‑fortune,  p75 also the calamity of defeat. As for the Neapolitans, then, let these words suffice. 16 But as for these Goths who are present, we give them the choice, either to array themselves hereafter on our side under the great emperor, or to go to their homes altogether immune from harm. 17 Because, if both you and they, disregarding all these considerations, dare to raise arms against us, it will be necessary for us also, if God so wills, to treat whomever we meet as an enemy. 18 If, however, it is the will of the Neapolitans to choose the cause of the emperor and thus to be rid of so cruel a slavery, I take it upon myself, giving you pledges, to promise that you will receive at our hands those benefits which the Sicilians lately hoped for, and with regard to which they were unable to say that we had sworn falsely."

19 Such was the message which Belisarius bade Stephanus take back to the people. But privately he promised him large rewards if he should inspire the Neapolitans with good-will toward the emperor. 20 And Stephanus, upon coming into the city, reported the words of Belisarius and expressed his own opinion that it was inexpedient to fight against the emperor. 21 And he was assisted in his efforts by Antiochus, a man of Syria, but long resident in Naples for the purpose of carrying on a shipping business, who had a great reputation there for wisdom and justice. But there were two men, 22 Pastor and Asclepiodotus, trained speakers and very notable men among the Neapolitans, who were exceedingly friendly toward the Goths, and quite unwilling to have any change made in the present state of affairs. 23 These two men, planning how they might block the negotiations, induced the multitude to demand many serious  p77 concessions, and to try to force Belisarius to promise on oath that they should forthwith obtain what they asked for. 24 And after writing down in a document such demands as nobody would have supposed that Belisarius would accept, they gave it to Stephanus. 25 And he, returning to the emperor's army, showed the writing to the general, and enquired of him whether he was willing to carry out all the proposals which the Neapolitans made and to take an oath concerning them. And Belisarius promised that they should all be fulfilled for them and so sent him back. 26 Now when the Neapolitans heard this, they were in favour of accepting the general's assurances at once and began to urge that the emperor's army be received into the city with all speed. 27 For he declared that nothing unpleasant would befall them, if the case of the Sicilians was sufficient evidence for anyone to judge by, since, as he pointed out, it had only recently been their lot, after they had exchanged their barbarian tyrants for the sovereignty of Justinian, to be, not only free men, but also immune from all difficulties. 28 And swayed by great excitement they were about to go to the gates with the purpose of throwing them open. And though the Goths were not pleased with what they were doing, still, since they were unable to prevent it, they stood out of the way.

29 But Pastor and Asclepiodotus called together the people and all the Goths in one place, and spoke as follows: "It is not at all unnatural that the populace of a city should abandon themselves and their own safety, especially if, without consulting any of their notables, they make an independent decision regarding their all. 30 But it is necessary for us, who are on  p79 the very point of perishing together with you, to offer as a last contribution to the fatherland this advice. 31 We see, then, fellow citizens, that you are intent upon betraying both yourselves and the city to Belisarius, who promises to confer many benefits upon you and to swear the most solemn oaths in confirmation of his promises. 32 Now if he is able to promise you this also, that to him will come the victory in the war, no one could deny that the course you are taking is to your advantage. 33 For it is great folly not to gratify every whim of him who is to become master. But if this outcome lies in uncertainty, and no man in the world is competent to guarantee the decision of fortune, consider what sort of misfortunes your haste is seeking to attain. 34 For if the Goths overcome their adversaries in the war, they will punish you as enemies and as having done them the foulest wrong. 35 For you are resorting to this act of treason, not under constraint of necessity, but out of deliberate cowardice. So that even to Belisarius, if he wins the victory of his enemies, we shall perhaps appear faithless and betrayers of our rulers, and having proved ourselves deserters, we shall in all probability have a guard set over us permanently by the emperor. 36 For though he who has found a traitor is pleased at the moment of victory by the service rendered, yet afterwards, moved by suspicion based upon the traitor's past, he hates and fears his benefactor, since he himself has in his own possession the evidences of the other's faithlessness. 37 If however, we shew ourselves faithful to the Goths at the present time, manfully submitting to the danger, they will give us great rewards in case they win  p81 the mastery over the enemy, and Belisarius, if it should happen that he is the victor, will be prone to forgive. 38 For loyalty which fails is punished by no man unless he be lacking in understanding. 39 But what has happened to you that you are in terror of being besieged by the enemy, you who have no lack of provisions, have not been deprived by blockade of any of the necessities of life, and hence may sit at home, confident in the fortifications and in your garrison here?1 And in our opinion even Belisarius would not have consented to this agreement with us if he had any hope of capturing the city by force. 40 And yet if what he desired were that which is just and that which will be to our advantage, he ought not to be trying to frighten the Neapolitans or to establish his own power by means of an act of injustice on our part toward the Goths; but he should do battle with Theodatus and the Goths, so that without danger to us or treason on our part the city might come into the power of the victors."

41 When they had finished speaking, Pastor and Asclepiodotus brought forward the Jews, who promised that the city should be in want of none of the necessities, and the Goths on their part promised that they would guard the circuit-wall safely. 42 And the Neapolitans, moved by these arguments, bade Belisarius depart thence with all speed. He, however, began the siege. 43 And he made many attempts upon the circuit-wall, but was always repulsed, losing many of his soldiers, and especially those who laid some claim to valour. 44 For the wall of Naples was inaccessible, on one side by reason of the sea, and on the other  p83 because of some difficult country, and those who planned to attack it could gain entrance at no point, not only because of its general situation, but also because the ground sloped steeply. 45 However, Belisarius cut the aqueduct which brought water into the city; but he did not in this way seriously disturb the Neapolitans, since there were wells inside the circuit-wall which sufficed for their needs and kept them from feeling too keenly the loss of the aqueduct.

9 1 So the besieged, without the knowledge of the enemy, sent to Theodatus in Rome begging him to come to their help with all speed. But Theodatus was not making the least preparation for war, being by nature unmanly, as has been said before.2 2 And they say that something else happened to him, which terrified him exceedingly and reduced him to still greater anxiety. I, for my part, do not credit this report, but even so it shall be told. 3 Theodatus even before this time had been prone to make enquiries of those who professed to foretell the future, and on the present occasion he was at a loss what to do in the situation which confronted him — a state which more than anything else is accustomed to drive men to seek prophecies; so he enquired of one of the Hebrews, who had a great reputation for prophecy, what sort of an outcome the present war would have. 4 The Hebrew commanded him to confine three groups of ten swine in three huts, and after giving them respectively the names of Goths, Romans, and the soldiers of the  p85 emperor, to wait quietly for a certain number of days. And Theodatus did as he was told. 5 And when the appointed day had come, they both went into the huts and looked at the swine; and they found that of those which had been given the name of Goths all save two were dead, whereas all except a few were living of those which had received the name of the emperor's soldiers; and as for those which had been called Romans, it so happened that, although the hair of all of them had fallen out, yet about half of them survived. 6 When Theodatus beheld this and divined the outcome of the war, a great fear, they say, came upon him, since he knew well that it would certainly be the fate of the Romans to die to half their number and be deprived of their possessions, but that the Goths would be defeated and their race reduced to a few and that to the emperor would come, with the loss of but a few of his soldiers, the victory in the war. 7 And for this reason, they say, Theodatus felt no impulse to enter into a struggle with Belisarius. As for this story, then, let each one express his views according to the belief or disbelief which he feels regarding it.

8 But Belisarius, as he besieged the Neapolitans both by land and by sea, was beginning to be vexed. For he was coming to think that they would never yield to him, and, furthermore, he could not hope that the city would be captured, since he was finding that the difficulty of its position was proving to be a very serious obstacle. 9 And the loss of the time which was being spent there distressed him, for he was making his calculations so as to avoid being compelled to go against Theodatus and Rome in the winter season. 10 Indeed he had already even given orders to the army to pack up, his intention  p87 being to depart from there as quickly as possible. But while he was in the greatest perplexity, it came to pass that he met with the following good fortune. 11 One of the Isaurians was seized with the desire to observe the construction of the aqueduct, and to discover in what manner it provided the supply of water to the city. 12 So he entered it at a place far distant from the city, where Belisarius had broken it open, and proceeded to walk along it, finding no difficulty, since the water had stopped running because the aqueduct had been broken open. 13 But when he reached a point near the circuit-wall, he came upon a large rock, not placed there by the hand of man, but a part of the natural formation of the place. 14 And those who had built the aqueduct many years before, after they had attached the masonry to this rock, proceeded to make a tunnel from that point on, not sufficiently large, however, for a man to pass through, but large enough to furnish a passage for the water. 15 And for this reason it came about that the channel of the aqueduct was not everywhere of the same breadth, but one was confronted by a narrow place at that rock, impassable for a man, especially if he wore armour or carried a shield. 16 And when the Isaurian observed this, it seemed to him not impossible for the army to penetrate into the city, if they should make the tunnel at that point broader by a little. 17 But since he himself was a humble person, and never had come into conversation with any of the commanders, he brought the matter before Paucaris, an Isaurian, who had distinguished himself among the guards of Belisarius. So Paucaris immediately reported the whole matter to the general. 18 And Belisarius, being pleased by the report, took new courage, and by promising to reward  p89 the man with great sums of money induced him to attempt the undertaking, and commanded him to associate with himself some of the Isaurians and cut out a passage in the rock as quickly as possible, taking care to allow no one to become aware of what they were doing. 19 Paucaris then selected some Isaurians who were thoroughly suitable for the work, and secretly got inside the aqueduct with them. 20 And coming to the place where the rock caused the passage to be narrow, they began their work, not cutting the rock with picks or mattocks, lest by their blows they should reveal to the enemy what they were doing, but scraping it very persistently with sharp instruments of iron. 21 And in a short time the work was done, so that a man wearing a corselet and carrying a shield was able to go through at that point.

22 But when all his arrangements were at length in complete readiness, the thought occurred to Belisarius that if he should by act of war make his entry into Naples with the army, the result would be that lives would be lost and that all the other things would happen which usually attended the capture of a city by an enemy. 23 And straightway summoning Stephanus, he spoke as follows: "Many times have I witnessed the capture of cities and I am well acquainted with what takes place at such a time. 24 For they slay all the men of every age, and as for the women, though they beg to die, they are not granted the boon of death, but are carried off for outrage and are made to suffer treatment that is abominable and most pitiable. 25 And the children, who are thus deprived of their proper maintenance and education, are forced to be slaves, and that, too, of the men who are the most odious of all — those on whose hands  p91 they see the blood of their fathers. 26 And this is not all, my dear Stephanus, for I make no mention of the conflagration which destroys all the property and blots out the beauty of the city. When I see, as in the mirror of the cities which have been captured in times past, this city of Naples falling victim to such a fate, I am moved to pity both it and you its inhabitants. 27 For such means have now been perfected by me against the city that its capture is inevitable. But I pray that an ancient city, which has for ages been inhabited by both Christians and Romans, may not meet with such a fortune, especially at my hands as commander of Roman troops, not least because in my army are a multitude of barbarians, who have lost brothers or relatives before the wall of this town; for the fury of these men I should be unable to control, or if they should capture the city by act of war. 28 While, therefore, it is still within your power to choose and to put into effect that which will be to your advantage, adopt the better course and escape misfortune; for when it falls upon you, as it probably will, you will not justly blame fortune but your own judgment." 29 With these words Belisarius dismissed Stephanus. And he went before the people of Naples weeping and reporting with bitter lamentations all that he had heard Belisarius say. 30 But they, since it was not fated that the Neapolitans should become subjects of the emperor without chastisement, neither became afraid nor did they decide to yield to Belisarius.

 p93  10 1 Then at length, Belisarius, on his part, made his preparations to enter the city as follows. Selecting at nightfall about four hundred men and appointing as commander over them Magnus, who led a detachment of cavalry, and Ennes, the leader of the Isaurians, he commanded them all to put on their corselets, take in hand their shields and swords, and remain quiet until he himself should give the signal. 2 And he summoned Bessas3 and gave him orders to stay with him, for he wished to consult with him concerning a certain matter pertaining to the army. 3 And when it was well on in the night, he explained to Magnus and Ennes the task before them, pointed out the place where he had previously broken open the aqueduct, and ordered them to lead the four hundred men into the city, taking lights with them. 4 And he sent with them two men skilled in the use of the trumpet, so that as soon as they should get inside the circuit-wall, they might be able both to throw the city into confusion and to notify their own men what they were doing. 5 And he himself was holding in readiness a very great number of ladders which had been constructed previously.

So these men entered the aqueduct and were proceeding toward the city, while he with Bessas and Photius4 remained at his post and with their help was attending to all details. 6 And he also sent to the camp, commanding the men to remain awake and to keep their arms in their hands. At the same time  p95 he kept near him a large force — men whom he considered most courageous. Now of the men who were on their way to the city above half became terrified at the danger and turned back. 7 And since Magnus could not persuade them to follow him, although he urged them again and again, he returned with them to the general. 8 And Belisarius, after reviling these men, selected two hundred of the troops at hand, and ordered them to go with Magnus. And Photius also, wishing to lead them, leaped into the channel of the aqueduct, but Belisarius prevented him. 9 Then those who were fleeing from the danger, put to shame by the railings of the general and of Photius, took heart to face it once more and followed with the others. 10 And Belisarius, fearing lest their operations should be perceived by some of the enemy who were maintaining a guard on the tower which happened to be nearest to the aqueduct, went to that place and commanded Bessas to carry on a conversation in the Gothic tongue with the barbarians there, his purpose being to prevent any clanging of the weapons from being audible to them. 11 And so Bessas shouted to them in a loud voice, urging the Goths to yield to Belisarius and promising that they should have many rewards. 12 But they jeered at him, indulging in many insults directed at both Belisarius and the emperor. Belisarius and Bessas, then, were thus occupied.

13 Now the aqueduct of Naples is not only covered until it reaches the wall, but remains covered as it extends to a great distance inside the city, being carried on a high arch of baked bricks. Consequently, when the men under the command of Magnus and Ennes had got inside the fortifications, they were  p97 one and all unable even to conjecture where in the world they were. 14 Furthermore, they could not leave the aqueduct at any point until the foremost of them came to a place where the aqueduct chanced to be without a roof and where stood a building which had entirely fallen into neglect. 15 Inside this building a certain woman had her dwelling, living alone with utter poverty as her only companion; and an olive tree had grown out over the aqueduct. 16 So when these men saw the sky and perceived that they were in the midst of the city, they began to plan how they might get out, but they had no means of leaving the aqueduct either with or without their arms. For the structure happened to be very high at that point and, besides, offered no means of climbing to the top. 17 But as the soldiers were in a state of great perplexity and were beginning to crowd each other greatly as they collected there (for already, as the men in the rear kept coming up, a great throng was beginning to gather), the thought occurred to one of them to make trial of the ascent. 18 He immediately therefore laid down his arms, and forcing his way up with hands and feet, reached the woman's house. 19 And seeing her there, he threatened to kill her unless she should remain silent. And she was terror-stricken and remained speechless. He then fastened to the trunk of the olive tree a strong strap, and threw the other end of it into the aqueduct. So the soldiers, laying hold of it one at a time, managed with difficulty to make the ascent. 20 And after all had come up and a fourth part of the night still remained, they proceeded toward the wall; and they slew the garrison of two of the towers before the men in them  p99 had an inkling of the trouble. These towers were on the northern portion of the circuit-wall, where Belisarius was stationed with Bessas and Photius, anxiously awaiting the progress of events. 21 So while the trumpeters were summoning the army to the wall, Belisarius was placing the ladders against the fortifications and commanding the soldiers to mount them. 22 But it so happened that not one of the ladders reached as far as the parapet. For since the workmen had not made them in sight of the wall, they had not been able to arrive at the proper measure. 23 For this reason they bound two together, and it was only by using both of them for the ascent that the soldiers got above the level of the parapet. Such was the progress of these events where Belisarius was engaged.

24 But on the side of the circuit-wall which faces the sea, where the forces on guard were not barbarians, but Jews, the soldiers were unable either to use the ladders or to scale the wall. 25 For the Jews had already given offence to their enemy by having opposed their efforts to capture the city without a fight, and for this reason they had no hope if they should fall into their hands; so they kept fighting stubbornly, although they could see that the city had already been captured, and held out beyond all expectation against the assaults of their opponents. 26 But when day came and some of those who had mounted the wall marched against them, then at last they also, now that they were being shot at from behind, took to flight, and Naples was captured by storm. By this time the gates were thrown open and the whole Roman army came in. 27 But those who were stationed  p101 about the gates which fronted the east, since, as it happened, they had no ladders at hand, set fire to these gates, which were altogether unguarded; 28 for that part of the wall had been deserted, the guards having taken to flight. 29 And then a great slaughter took place; for all of them were possessed with fury, especially those who had chanced to have a brother or other relative slain in the fighting at the wall. And they kept killing all whom they encountered, sparing neither old nor young, and dashing into the houses they made slaves of the women and children and secured the valuables as plunder; and in this the Massagetae outdid all the rest, for they did not even withhold their hand from the sanctuaries, but slew many of those who had taken refuge in them, until Belisarius, visiting every part of the city, put a stop to this, and calling all together, spoke as follows:

30 "Inasmuch as God has given us the victory and has permitted us to attain the greatest height of glory, by putting under our hand a city which has never been captured before, it behooves us on our part to shew ourselves not unworthy of His grace, but by our humane treatment of the vanquished, to make it plain that we have conquered these men justly. 31 Do not, therefore, hate the Neapolitans with a boundless hatred, and do not allow your hostility toward them to continue beyond the limits of the war. For when men have been vanquished, their victors never hate them any longer. 32 And by killing them you will not be ridding yourselves of enemies for the future, but you will be suffering a loss through the death of your subjects. Therefore, do these men no further harm, nor continue to give  p103 way wholly to anger. 33 For it is a disgrace to prevail over the enemy and then to shew yourselves vanquished by passion. So let all the possessions of these men suffice for you as the rewards of your valour, but let their wives, together with the children, be given back to the men. And let the conquered learn by experience what kind of friends they have forfeited by reason of foolish counsel."

34 After speaking thus, Belisarius released to the Neapolitans their women and children and the slaves, one and all, no insult having been experienced by them, and he reconciled the soldiers to the citizens. 35 And thus it came to pass for the Neapolitans that on that day they both became captives and regained their liberty, and that they recovered the most precious of their possessions. 36 For those of them who happened to have gold or anything else of value had previously concealed it by burying it in the earth, and in this way they succeed in hiding from the enemy the fact that in getting back their houses they were recovering their money also. And the siege, which had lasted about twenty days, ended thus. 37 As for the Goths who were captured in the city, not less than eight hundred in number, Belisarius put them under guard and kept them from all harm, holding them in no less honour than his own soldiers.

38 And Pastor, who had been leading the people upon a course of folly, as has been previously5 set forth by me, upon seeing the city captured, fell into a fit of apoplexy and died suddenly, though he had neither been ill before nor suffered any harm from anyone. 39 But Asclepiodotus, who was engaged in this  p105 intrigue with him, came before Belisarius with those of the notables who survived. 40 And Stephanus mocked and reviled him with these words: "See, O basest of all men, what evils you have brought to your fatherland, by selling the safety of the citizens for loyalty to the Goths. 41 And furthermore, if things had gone well for the barbarians, you would have claimed the right to be yourself a hireling in their service and to bring to court on the charge of trying to betray the city to the Romans each one of us who have given the better counsel. 42 But now that the emperor has captured the city, and we have been saved by the uprightness of this man, and you even so have had the hardihood recklessly to come into the presence of the general as if you had done no harm to the Neapolitans or to the emperor's army, you will meet with the punishment you deserve." 43 Such were the words which Stephanus, who was deeply grieved by the misfortune of the city, hurled against Asclepiodotus. And Asclepiodotus replied to him as follows: "Quite unwittingly, noble Sir, you have been heaping praise upon us, when you reproach us for our loyalty to the Goths. 44 For no one could ever be loyal to his masters when they are in danger, except it be by firm conviction. As for me, then, the victors will have in me as true a guardian of the state as they lately found in me an enemy, since he whom nature has endowed with the quality of fidelity does not change his conviction when he changes his fortune. 45 But you, should their fortunes not continue to prosper as before, would readily listen to the overtures of their assailants. For he who has the disease of inconstancy of mind no sooner takes fright than he denies his pledge to those most dear."  p107 46 Such were the words of Asclepiodotus. But the populace of the Neapolitans, when they saw him returning from Belisarius, gathered in a body and began to charge him with responsibility for all that had befallen them. And they did not leave him until they had killed him and torn his body into small pieces. 47 After that they came to the house of Pastor, seeking for the man. And when the servants insisted that Pastor was dead, they were quite unwilling to believe them until they were shown the man's body. And the Neapolitans impaled him in the outskirts of the town. 48 Then they begged Belisarius to pardon them for what they had done while moved with just anger, and receiving his forgiveness, they dispersed. Such was the fate of the Neapolitans.

11 1 But the Goths who were at Rome and in the country round about had even before this regarded with great amazement the inactivity of Theodatus, because, though the enemy was in his neighbourhood, he was unwilling to engage them in battle, and they felt among themselves much suspicion toward him, believing that he was betraying the cause of the Goths to the Emperor Justinian of his own free will, and cared for nothing else than that he himself might live in quiet, possessed of as much money as possible. Accordingly, when they heard that Naples had been captured, they began immediately to make all these charges against him openly and gathered  p109 at a place two hundred and eighty stades distant from Rome, which the Romans call Regata.6 And it seemed best to them to make camp in that place; for there are extensive plains there which furnish pasture for horses. 2 And a river also flows by the place, which the inhabitants call Decennovium7 in the Latin tongue, because it flows past nineteen milestones, a distance which amounts to one hundred and thirteen stades,a before it empties into the sea near the city of Taracina;º and very near that place is Mt. Circaeum, where they say Odysseus met Circe, though the story seems to me untrustworthy, for Homer declares that the habitation of Circe was on an island. 3 This, however, I am able to say, that this Mt. Circaeum, extending as it does far into the sea, resembles an island, so that both to those who sail close to it and to those who walk to the shore in the neighbourhood it has every appearance of being an island. And only when a man gets on it does he realize that he was deceived in his former opinion. 4 And for this reason Homer perhaps called the place an island. But I shall return to the previous narrative.

5 The Goths, after gathering at Regata, out of as king over them and the Italians Vittigis, a man who, though not of a conspicuous house, had previously won great renown in the battles about Sirmium, when Theoderic was carrying on the war against the Gepaedes.8 6 Theodatus, therefore, upon hearing this, rushed off in flight and took the road to Ravenna.  p111 But Vittigis quickly sent Optaris, a Goth, instructing him to bring Theodatus alive or dead. 7 Now it happened that this Optaris was hostile to Theodatus for the following cause. Optaris was wooing a certain young woman who was an heiress and also exceedingly beautiful to look upon. 8 But Theodatus, being bribed to do so, took the woman he was wooing from him, and betrothed her to another. And so, since he was not only satisfying his own rage, but rendering a service to Vittigis as well, he pursued Theodatus with great eagerness and enthusiasm, stopping neither day nor night. 9 And he overtook him while still on his way, laid him on his back on the ground, and slew him like a victim for sacrifice. Such was the end of Theodatus' life and of his rule, which had reached the third year.

10 And Vittigis, together with the Goths who were with him, marched to Rome. And when he learned what had befallen Theodatus, he was pleased and put Theodatus' son Theodegisclus under guard. 11 But it seemed to him that the preparations of the Goths were by no means complete, and for this reason he thought it better first to go to Ravenna, and after making everything ready there in the best possible way, then at length to enter upon the war. He therefore called all the Goths together and spoke as follows:

12 "The success of the greatest enterprises, fellow-soldiers, generally depends, not upon hasty action at critical moments, but upon careful planning. 13 For many a time a policy of delay adopted at the opportune moment has brought more benefit than the opposite course, and haste displayed at an unseasonable  p113 time has upset for many men their hope of success. 14 For in most cases those who are unprepared, though they fight on equal terms so far as their forces are concerned, are more easily conquered than those who, with less strength, enter the struggle with the best possible preparation. 15 Let us not, therefore, be so lifted up by the desire to win momentary honour as to do ourselves irreparable harm; for it is better to suffer shame for a short time and by so doing gain an undying glory, than to escape insult for the moment and thereby, as would probably be the case, be left to obscurity for all after time. 16 And yet you doubtless know as well as I that the great body of the Goths and practically our whole equipment of arms is in Gaul and Venetia and the most distant lands. 17 Furthermore, we are carrying on against the nations of the Franks a war which is no less important than this one, and it is great folly for us to proceed to another war without first settling that one satisfactorily. For it is natural that those who become exposed to attack on two sides and do not confine their attention to a single enemy should be worsted by their opponents. 18 But I say that we must now go straight from here to Ravenna, and after bringing the war against the Franks to an end and settling all our other affairs as well as possible, then with the whole army of the Goths we must fight it out with Belisarius. 19 And let no one of you, I say, try to dissemble regarding this withdrawal, nor hesitate to call it flight. 20 For the title of coward, fittingly applied, has saved many, while the reputation for bravery which some men have gained at the  p115 wrong time, has afterward led them to defeat. 21 For it is not the names of things, but the advantage which comes from what is done, that is worth seeking after. For a man's worth is revealed by his deeds, not at their commencement, but at their end. 22 And those do not flee before the enemy who, when they have increased their preparation, forthwith go against them, but those who are so anxious to save their own lives for ever that they deliberately stand aside. And regarding the capture of this city, let no fear come to any one of you. 23 For if, on the one hand, the Romans are loyal to us, they will guard the city in security for the Goths, and they will not experience any hardship, for we shall return to them in a short time. 24 And if, on the other hand, they harbour any suspicions toward us, they will harm us less by receiving the enemy into the city; for it is better to fight in the open against one's enemies. 25 None the less I shall take care that nothing of this sort shall happen. For we shall leave behind many men and a most discreet leader, and they will be sufficient to guard Rome so effectively that not only will the situation here be favourable for us, but also that no harm may possibly come from this withdrawal of ours."

26 Thus spoke Vittigis. And all the Goths expressed approval and prepared for the journey. After this Vittigis exhorted at length Silverius, the priest9 of the city, and the senate and people of the Romans, reminding them of the rule of Theoderic, and he urged upon all to be loyal to the nation of the Goths, binding them by the most solemn oaths to do so; and he chose out no fewer than four thousand men,  p117 and set in command over them Leuderis, a man of mature years who enjoyed a great reputation for discretion, that they might guard Rome for the Goths. Then he set out for Ravenna with the rest of the army, keeping the most of the senators with him as hostages. 27 And when he had reached that place, he made Matasuntha, the daughter of Amalasuntha, who was a maiden now of marriageable age, his wedded wife, much against her will, in order that he might make his rule more secure by marrying into the family of Theoderic. 28 After this he began to gather all the Goths from every side and to organize and equip them, duly distributing arms and horses to each one; and only the Goths who were engaged in garrison duty in Gaul he was unable to summon, through fear of the Franks. 29 These Franks were called "Germani" in ancient times. And the manner in which they first got a foothold in Gaul, and where they had lived before that, and how they became hostile to the Goths, I shall now proceed to relate.

12 1 As one sails from the ocean into the Mediterranean at Gadira, the land on the left, as was stated in the preceding narrative,10 is named Europe, while the land opposite to this is called Libya, and, farther on, Asia. 2 Now as to the region beyond Libya,11 I am unable to speak with accuracy;12 for it is almost wholly destitute of men, and for this reason the  p119 first source of the Nile, which they say flows from that land toward Egypt, is quite unknown. 3 But Europe at its very beginning is exceedingly like the Peloponnesus, and fronts the sea on either side. And the land which is first toward the ocean and the west is named Spain, extending as far as the alps of the Pyrenees range. 4 For the men of this country are accustomed to call a narrow, shut‑in, pass "alps." And the land from there on as far as the boundaries of Liguria is called Gaul. And in that place other alps separate the Gauls and the Ligurians. 5 Gaul, however, is much broader than Spain, and naturally so, because Europe, beginning with a narrow peninsula, gradually widens as one advances until it attains an extraordinary breadth. 6 And this land is bounded by water on either side, being washed on the north by the ocean, and having on the south the sea called the Tuscan Sea. 7 And in Gaul there flow numerous rivers, among which are the Rhone and the Rhine. But the course of these two being in opposite directions, the one empties into the Tuscan Sea, while the Rhine empties into the ocean. 8 And there are many lakes13 in that region, and this is where the Germans lived of old, a barbarous nation, not of much consequence in the beginning, who are now called Franks. 9 Next to these lived the Arborychi,14 who, together with all the rest of Gaul, and, indeed, Spain also, were subjects of the Romans from of old. 10 And beyond them toward the east were settled the Thuringian barbarians,  p121 Augustus, the first emperor, having given them this country.15 11 And the Burgundians lived not far from them toward the south,16 and the Suevi17 also lived beyond the Thuringians, and the Alamani,18 powerful nations. All these were settled there as independent peoples in earlier times.

12 But as time went on, the Visigoths forced their way into the Roman empire and seized all Spain and the portion of Gaul lying beyond19 the Rhone River and made them subject and tributary to themselves. 13 By that time it so happened that the Arborychi had become soldiers of the Romans. And the Germans, wishing to make this people subject to themselves, since their territory adjoined their own and they had changed the government under which they had lived from of old, began to plunder their land and, being eager to make war, marched against them with their whole people. 14 But the Arborychi proved their valour and loyalty to the Romans and shewed themselves brave men in this war, and since the Germans were not able to overcome them by force, they wished to win them over and make the two peoples kin by intermarriage. 15 This suggestion the Arborychi received not at all unwillingly; for both, as it happened, were Christians. And in this way they were united into one people, and came to have great power.

16 Now other Roman soldiers, also, had been stationed at the frontiers of Gaul to serve as guards. 17 And these soldiers, having no means of returning to Rome, and at the same time being unwilling to yield  p123 to their enemy20 who were Arians, gave themselves, together with their military standards and the land which they had long been guarding for the Romans, to the Arborychi and Germans; and they handed down to their offspring all the customs of their fathers which were thus preserved, and this people has held them in sufficient reverence to guard them even up to my time. 18 For even at the present day they are clearly recognized as belonging to the legions to which they were assigned when they served in ancient times, and they always carry their own standards when they enter battle, and always follow the customs of their fathers. 19 And they preserve the dress of the Romans in every particular, even as regards their shoes.

20 Now as long as the Roman polity remained unchanged,21 the emperor held all Gaul as far as the Rhone River; but when Odoacer changed the government into a tyranny, then, since the tyrant yielded to them, the Visigoths took possession of all Gaul as far as the alps which mark the boundary between Gaul and Liguria. 21 But after the fall of Odoacer, the Thuringians and the Visigoths began to fear the power of the Germans, which was now growing greater (for their country had become exceedingly populous and they were forcing into subjection without any concealment those who from time to time came in their way), and so they were eager to win the alliance of the Goths and Theoderic. And since Theoderic wished to attach these peoples to himself, he did not refuse to intermarry with them. 22 Accordingly he betrothed to Alaric the younger, who was then leader of the Visigoths, his  p125 own unmarried daughter Theodichusa, and to Hermenefridus, the ruler of the Thuringians, Amalaberga, the daughter of his sister Amalafrida. 23 As a result of this the Franks refrained from violence against these peoples through fear of Theoderic, but they began a war against the Burgundians. 24 But later on the Franks and the Goths entered into an offensive alliance against the Burgundians, agreeing that each of the two should send an army against them; 25 and it was further agreed that if either army should be absent when the other took the field against the nation of the Burgundians and overthrew them and gained the land which they had, then the victors should receive as a penalty from those who had not joined in the expedition a fixed sum of gold, and that only on these terms should the conquered land belong to both peoples in common. 26 So the Germans went against the Burgundians with a great army according to the agreement between themselves and the Goths; but Theoderic was still engaged with his preparations, as he said, and purposely kept putting off the departure of the army to the following day, and waiting for what would come to pass. 27 Finally, however, he sent the army, but commanded the generals to march in a leisurely fashion, and if they should hear that the Franks had been victorious, they were thenceforth to go quickly, but if they should learn that any adversity had befallen them, they were to proceed no farther but remain where they were. 28 So they proceeded to carry out the commands of Theoderic, but meanwhile the  p127 Germans joined battle alone with the Burgundians. 29 The battle was stubbornly contested and a great slaughter took place on both sides, for the struggle was very evenly matched; 30 but finally the Franks routed their enemy and drove them to the borders of the land which they inhabited at that time, where they had many strongholds, while the Franks took possession of all the rest. 31 And the Goths, upon hearing this, were quickly at hand. And when they were bitterly reproached by their allies, they blamed the difficulty of the country, and laying down the amount of the penalty, they divided the land with the victors according to the agreement made. 32 And thus the foresight of Theoderic was revealed more clearly than ever, because, without losing a single one of his subjects, he had with a little gold acquired half of the land of his enemy. Thus it was that the Goths and Germans in the beginning got possession of a certain part of Gaul.

33 But later on, when the power of the Germans was growing greater, they began to think slightingly of Theoderic and the fear he inspired, and took the field against Alaric and the Visigoths. 34 And when Alaric learned this, he summoned Theoderic as quickly as possible. And he set out to his assistance with a great army. 35 In the meantime, the Visigoths, upon learning that the Germans were in camp near the city of Carcasiana,22 went to meet them, and making a camp, remained quiet. 36 But since much time was being spent by them in blocking the enemy in this way, they began to be vexed, and seeing that their land  p129 was being plundered by the enemy, they became indignant. 37 And at length they began to heap many insults upon Alaric, reviling him on account of his fear of the enemy and taunting him with the delay of his father-in‑law. 38 For they declared that they by themselves were a match for the enemy in battle and that even though unaided they would easily overcome the gardens in the war. 39 For this reason Alaric was compelled to do battle with the enemy before the Goths had as yet arrived. 40 And the Germans, gaining the upper hand in this engagement, killed the most of the Visigoths and their ruler Alaric. 41 Then they took possession of the greater part of Gaul and held it; and they laid siege to Carcasiana with great enthusiasm, because they had learned that the royal treasure was there, which Alaric the elder in earlier times had taken as booty when he captured Rome.23 42 Among these were also the treasures of Solomon, the king of the Hebrews, a most noteworthy sight. For the most of them were adorned with emeralds; and they had been taken from Jerusalem by the Romans in ancient times.24 43 Then the survivors of the Visigoths declared Giselic, an illegitimate son of Alaric, ruler over them, Amalaric, the son of Theoderic's daughter, being still a very young child. 44 And afterwards, when Theoderic had come with the army of the Goths, the Germans became afraid and broke up the siege. 45 So they retired from there and took possession of the part of Gaul beyond the Rhone River as far as the  p131 ocean. And Theoderic, being unable to drive them out from there, allowed them to hold this territory, but he himself recovered the rest of Gaul. 46 Then, after Giselic had been put out of the way, he conferred the rule of the Visigoths upon his grandson Amalaric, for whom, since he was still a child, he himself acted as regent. 47 And taking all the money which lay in the city of Carcasiana, he marched quickly back to Ravenna; furthermore, he continued to send commanders and armies into Gaul and Spain, thus holding the real power of government himself, and by way of providing that he should hold it securely and permanently, he ordained that the rulers of those countries should bring tribute to him. 48 And though he received this every year, in order not to give the appearance of being greedy for money he sent it as an annual gift to the army of the Goths and Visigoths. 49 And as a result of this, the Goths and Visigoths, as time went on, ruled as they were by one man and holding the same land betrothed their children to one another and thus joined the two races in kinship.

50 But afterwards, Theudis, a Goth, whom Theoderic had sent as commander of the army, took to wife a woman from Spain; she was not, however, of the race of the Visigoths, but belonged to the house of one of the wealthy inhabitants of that land, and not only possessed great wealth but also owned a large estate in Spain. 51 From this estate he gathered about two thousand soldiers and surrounded himself with a force of bodyguards, and while in name he was a ruler over the Goths by the gift of Theoderic, he was in fact an out and out tyrant. 52 And Theoderic, who was  p133 wise and experienced in the highest degree, was afraid to carry on a war against his own slave, lest the Franks meanwhile should take the field against him, as they naturally would, or the Visigoths on their part should begin a revolution against him; accordingly he did not remove Theudis from his office, but even continued to command him, whenever the army went to war, to lead it forth. 53 However, he directed the first men of the Goths to write to Theudis that he would be acting justly and in a manner worthy of his wisdom, if he should come to Ravenna and salute Theoderic. 54 Theudis, however, although he carried out all the commands of Theoderic and never failed to send in the annual tribute, would not consent to go to Ravenna, nor would he promise those who had written to him that he would do so.

13 1 After Theoderic had departed from the world, the Franks, now that there was no longer anyone to oppose them, took the field against the Thuringians, and not only killed their leader Hermenefridus but also reduced to subjection the entire people. 2 But the wife of Hermenefridus took her children and secretly made her escape, coming to Theodatus, her brother, who was at that time ruling over the Goths. 3 After this the Germans made an attack upon the Burgundians who had survived the former war,25 and defeating them in battle confined their leader in one of the fortresses of the country and kept him under guard, while they reduced the people to subjection  p135 and compelled them, as prisoners of war, to march with them from that time forth against their enemies, and the whole land which the Burgundians had previously inhabited they made subject and tributary to themselves. 4 And Amalaric, who was ruling over the Visigoths, upon coming to man's estate, became thoroughly frightened at the power of the Germans and so took to wife the sister of Theudibert, ruler of the Germans, and divided Gaul with the Goths and his cousin Atalaric. 5 The Goths, namely, received as their portion the land to the east of the Rhone River, while that to the west fell under the control of the Visigoths. 6 And it was agreed that the tribute which Theoderic had imposed should no longer be paid to the Goths, and Atalaric honestly and justly restored to Amalaric all the money which he had taken from the city of Carcasiana. 7 Then, since these two nations had united with one another by intermarriage, they allowed each man who had espoused a wife of the other people to choose whether he wished to follow his wife, or bring her among his own people. 8 And there were many who led their wives to the people they preferred and many also who were led by their wives. 9 But later on Amalric, having given offence to his wife's brother, suffered a great calamity. 10 For while his wife was of the orthodox faith, he himself followed the heresy of Arius, and he would not allow her to hold to her customary beliefs or to perform the rites of religion according to the tradition of her fathers, and, furthermore, because she was unwilling to conform to his customs, he held her in great dishonour. And since the woman was unable to bear this, she disclosed the whole matter to her mother. 11 For this  p137 reason, then, the Germans and Visigoths entered into war with each other. And the battle which took place was for a long time very stoutly contested, but finally Amalric was defeated, losing many of his men, and was himself slain. 12 And Theudibert took his sister with all the money, and as much of Gaul as the Visigoths held as their portion. 13 And the survivors of the vanquished migrated from Gaul with their wives and children and went to Theudis in Spain, who was already acting the tyrant openly. Thus did the Goths and Germans gain possession of Gaul.

14 But at a later time26 Theodatus, the ruler of the Goths, upon learning that Belisarius had come to Sicily, made a compact with the Germans, in which it was agreed that the Germans should have that portion of Gaul which fell to the Goths, and should receive twenty centenaria27 of gold, and that in return they should assist the Goths in this war. 15 But before he had as yet carried out the agreement he fulfilled his destiny. It was for this reason, then, that many of the noblest of the Goths, with Marcias as their leader, were keeping guard in Gaul. 16 It was these men whom Vittigis was unable to recall from Gaul,28 and indeed he did not think them numerous enough even to oppose the Franks, who would, in all probability, overrun both Gaul and Italy, if he should march with his whole army against Rome. 17 He therefore called together all who were loyal among the Goths and spoke as follows:

"The advice which I have wished to give you,  p139 fellow-countrymen, in bringing you together here at the present time, is not pleasant, but it is necessary; and do you hear me kindly, and deliberate in a manner befitting the situation which is upon us. 18 For when affairs do not go as men wish, it is inexpedient for them to go on with their present arrangements in disregard of necessity or fortune. Now in all other respects our preparations for war are in the best possible state. 19 But the Franks are an obstacle to us; against them, our ancient enemies, we have indeed been spending both our lives and our money, but nevertheless we have succeeded in holding our own up to the present time, since no other hostile force has confronted us. 20 But now that we are compelled to go against another foe, it will be necessary to put an end to the war against them, in the first place because, if they remain hostile to us, they will certainly array themselves with Belisarius against us; 21 for those who have the same enemy are by the very nature of things induced to enter into friendship and alliance with each other. 22 In the second place, even if we carry on the war separately against each army, we shall in the end be defeated by both of them. 23 It is better, therefore, for us to accept a little less and thus preserve the greatest part of our kingdom, than in our eagerness to hold everything to be destroyed by the enemy and lose at the same time the whole power of our supremacy. 24 So my opinion is that if we give the Germans the provinces of Gaul which adjoin them, and together with this land all the money which Theodatus agreed to give them, they will not only be turned from their enmity against us, but will even lend us assistance in this war. 25 But as to how at a later time, when matters  p141 are going well for us, we may regain possession of Gaul, let no one of you consider this question. For an ancient saying29 comes to my mind, which bids us 'settle well the affairs of the present.' "

26 Upon hearing this speech the notables of the Goths, considering the plan advantageous, wished it to be put into effect. Accordingly envoys were immediately sent to the nation of the Germans, in order to give them the lands of Gaul together with the gold, and to make an offensive and defensive alliance. 27 Now at that time the rulers of the Franks were Ildibert, Theudibert, and Cloadarius, and they received Gaul and the money, and divided the land among them according to the territory ruled by each one, and they agreed to be exceedingly friendly to the Goths, and secretly to send them auxiliary troops, not Franks, however, but soldiers drawn from the nations subject to them. 28 For they were unable to make an alliance openly with them against the Romans, because they had a little before agreed to assist the emperor in this war. 29 So the envoys, having accomplished the mission on which they had been sent, returned to Ravenna. At that time also Vittigis summoned Marcias with his followers.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 i.e. the Goths: cf. § 5 above.

2 Chap. iii.1.

3 Cf. chap. v.3.

4 Cf. chap. v.5.

5 Chap. viii.22.

6 Near Terracina.

7 The name is made from decem and novem, "nineteen," apparently a late formation. The "river" was in reality a canal, extending from Appii Forum to Terracina.

8 Chap. iii.15.

9 Silverius was Pope 536‑537 A.D.

10 Book III.i.7.

11 i.e. equatorial Africa.

12 Cf. Book IV.xiii.29.

13 This vague statement is intended to describe the country, west of the Rhine, at that time a land of forests and swamps.

14 The people whom Procopius names Arborychi must be the Armorici. If so, they occupied the coast of what is now Belgium.

15 Now south-eastern Germany.

16 Now south-eastern France.

17 Between the Germans and Burgundians.

18 In modern Bavaria.

19 i.e. west of the Rhone.

20 i.e. the Visigoths.

21 i.e. under a recognised imperial dynasty.

22 In Gallia Narbonensis, modern Carcassonne. Procopius has been misled. The battle here described was fought in the neighbourhood of Poitiers.

23 Cf. Book III.11.14‑24.

24 At the capture of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 A.D. The treasures here mentioned were removed from Rome in 410 A.D. The remainder of the Jewish treasure formed part of the spoil of Gizeric, the Vandal. Cf. Book IV.ix.5 and note.

25 Cf. chap. xii.24 ff.

26 Procopius resumes his narrative, which was interrupted by the digression beginning in chap. xii.

27 Cf. Book I.xxii.4; III.vi.2 and note.

28 Cf. chap. xi.28.

29 Cf. Thuc. I.35, θέσθαι τὸ παρόν, "to deal with the actual situation"; Hor. Od. III.29.32, "quod adest memento | Componere."


Thayer's Note:

a We all know, or think we know, that one Roman mile was equal to 8 stadia. Here we have another proof (among many) that the equivalence was neither exact nor fixed. While the customary 8 stadia = 1 mile is often a satisfactory approximation, there is no exact conversion, since the units belong to different systems; and the conversion varies depending on the period, the place, and the writer. Here, assuming no manuscript corruption in the number of stadia, Procopius puts 1 mile at about 5.9 stadia. Since the Roman mile is firmly known to correspond to 1481 m, the stadion here would represent about 250 meters; this figure is an outlier across all of ancient literature.

Mind you, a cardinal rule in the study of ancient texts is this: If you don't like what you read, emend. So: here we could plausibly emend by supposing that in a previous manuscript somewhere along the line (that might not have written the numbers out in full) a copyist read ρν´ — the round figure 150 — and miscopied it as ριγ´, 113. A figure of 150 stadia would put the stadion at 7.89 to the mile.

Procopius does give us distance figures in stadia elsewhere, from which one would think we could determine the length of his stadion; but his figures are for the most part wrong, or yield widely varying equivalences: to sum up, no inference can be made, his equivalences ranging, when it can be determined, from the outlier here (5.9) to the equally preposterous 17½ stadia to the mile, with most of them higher than the commonly cited 8. For a typical difficulty, see V.26.4 and my note there; for the details, see my notes to Anecdota II.24; Buildings II.4.1; B. V. I.1.17; B. V. I.17.17 and my note there; B. G. I.1.15, 14.3, 17.6, 26.4, II.3.4, 4.7, 13.7, 23.6, 23.7.


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