Short URL for this page:

[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Click here for the text in ancient Greek.]

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

[image ALT: link to previous section]

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Gothic Wars


published in the Loeb Classical Library,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has not yet been proofread.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


[image ALT: link to next section]

(Vol. IV) Procopius
Gothic Wars

Book III (beginning)

 p151  1 1 Thus Belisarius departed, though the situation was still unsettled, and he arrived at Byzantium in company with Vittigis and the notables of the Goths and the children of Ildibadus, bringing with him all the treasure; and he was escorted by Ildiger, Valerian, Martinus, and Herodian only. 2 Now the Emperor Justinian did indeed take pleasure in seeing Vittigis and his wife, and marvelled at both the beauty and the great stature of the barbarian throng. 3 But upon receiving the wealth of Theoderic, a notable sight in itself, he merely set it forth for the members of the senate to view privately in the palace, being jealous because of the magnitude and splendour of the achievement; and neither did he bring it out before the people, nor did he accord to Belisarius the customary triumph, as he had done when he returned from his victory of Gelimer and the Vandals. 4 However, the name of Belisarius was on the lips of all: to him were ascribed two victories, such as had never before fallen to the lot of any one man to achieve; he had brought two kings captive to Byzantium, and unexpectedly had made both the race and the possessions of Gizeric and of Theoderic Roman spoil — two kings than whom none,  p153 among barbarians at least, has ever been more illustrious; and he had brought back their wealth from the enemy and restored it once more to the state, and recovered for the empire in a short space of time almost one half of its territory on land North Sea. 5 And the Byzantines took delight in watching Belisarius as he came forth from his house each day and proceeded toward the market-place or as he returned to his house, and none of them could get enough of this sight. 6 For his progress resembled a crowded festival procession, since he was always escorted by a large number of Vandals, as well as Goths and Moors. Furthermore, he had a fine figure and was tall and remarkably handsome. 7 But his conduct was so meek and his attitude toward those who met him so affable that he seemed like a very poor man and one of no repute.

8 As a commander the love ever felt for him both by soldiers and peasants was irresistible, seeing that, in his treatment of the soldiers on the one hand, he was surpassed by none in generosity; (for when any had met with misfortune in battle, he used to console them by large presents of money for the wounds they had received, and to those who had distinguished themselves he presented bracelets and necklaces to wear as prizes, and when a soldier had lost in battle horse or bow or anything else whatsoever, another was straightway provided in its place by Belisarius); and in his treatment of the peasants, on the other hand, he won their affection because he shewed so much restraint and such consideration for them that it never fell to their lot to suffer any  p155 violence when Belisarius was general — nay, rather, all those whose land was visited by a large body of troops under his command unexpectedly found that they were enriched; 9 for they always set their own price upon everything sold to the soldiers. And whenever the crops were ripe, Belisarius used to watch closely that the caravan in passing should not damage any man's grain. 10 Also, when the fruit was ripe on the trees, not a single man was permitted to touch it. 11 Furthermore, he possessed the virtue of restraint in a marvellous degree; and hence it was that he never would touch any woman other his wedded wife. 12 And so, although he took captive such great numbers of women from both the Vandals and the Goths, and such beautiful women as no man in the world, I suppose, has ever seen, he refused to allow any of them to come into his presence or meet him in any other way. 13 In addition to all his other qualities, he was also remarkably shrewd, and in difficult situations he was able with unerring judgment to decide upon the best course of action. 14 Furthermore, in the dangers of war he was both courageous without incurring unnecessary risks and daring to a degree without losing his cool judgment, either striking quickly or holding back his attack upon the enemy according to the requirements of the situation. 15 Nay more, in desperate situations, on the one hand he shewed a spirit which was both full of confidence and unruffled by excitement, and in the fulness of success, on the other hand, he neither gave way to vanity nor rushed into indulgence; at any rate no man ever saw Belisarius intoxicated.

16 Now as long as he was in command of the Roman  p157 army both in Libya and in Italy, he was continually victorious and always acquired whatever lay before him. 17 But when he had been brought back to Byzantium by imperial summons, his ability was recognized still more fully than in previous times and received most generous appreciation. 18 For since by his own outstanding merit in every field he was prominent above all his fellows, and surpassed the generals of all time in the vastness of his wealth and the number of his bodyguards and spearmen, he was naturally looked upon by all officers and soldiers alike as a formidable person. 19 For no one, I am sure, had the hardihood to resist his commands, and his men never refused to carry out whatever orders he gave, both respecting as they did his ability and fearing his power. 20 For he used to equip seven thousand horsemen from his own household,​1 and not one of these was an inferior man, but each of them could claim to stand first in the line of battle and to challenge the best of the enemy. 21 Indeed, when Rome was beleaguered by the Goths and the Roman elders were watching the progress of the struggle through the various engagements,​2 they marvelled greatly and cried out that one man's household was destroying the power of Theoderic.

22 So Belisarius, having become, as was noted above, a man of power, both because of the respect accorded him and because of his sound judgment, continued to advise such measures as would prove in the interest of the emperor's cause and to carry out with independent judgment the decisions reached. 23 But the other commanders, being, unlike him, on an equality with one another, and having no single thought in mind except to make sure of their own personal gain, had  p159 already begun both to plunder the Romans​3 and to put the civil population at the mercy of the soldiers, and neither were they themselves any longer giving heed to the requirements of the situation, nor could they secure obedience to their commands on the part of the soldiers. 24 Consequently, many blunders were committed by them, and the entire fabric of the Roman power was utterly destroyed in a short space of time. And I shall now proceed to recount the story of these events as best I can.

25 When Ildibadus learned that Belisarius had departed from Ravenna and was on his way, he began to gather about him all the barbarians and as many of the Roman soldiers as were inclined to favour a revolution. 26 And he sought by every means to strengthen his rule, and laboured diligently to recover for the Gothic nation the sovereignty of Italy. 27 Now at the first not more than a thousand men followed him and they held only one city, Ticinum, but little by little all the inhabitants of Liguria and Venetia came over to his side.

28 Now there was a certain Alexander in brochure who held the office of comptroller of the state treasury; this official the Romans call "logothete,"​4 using a Greek name. 29 This man was always making charges against the soldiers for the losses they caused to the treasury of the state.​5 And by subjecting them to trial for offices of this sort, he on his part quickly rose from obscurity to fame and  p161 from poverty to immense wealth, and not only this, but he also succeeded in collecting great sums of money for the emperor, surpassing all predecessors in this; but it was he, more than any other man, who was chiefly responsible for the deterioration of the army, in that the soldiers were both few and poor and reluctant to face the perils of war. 30 The Byzantines indeed went so far as to call him by the name "Snips," because it was an easy feat for him to cut off the edge all around a golden coin, and while thus making it as much smaller as he wished, still to preserve the circular shape it originally had. 31 For they call the tool with which such work is done "snips." This Alexander, then, it was whom the emperor sent to Italy after summoning Belisarius to return. 32 And directly upon his arrival at Ravenna, he proved an altogether unreasonable financial reckoning. For though the Italians had neither laid hands upon the emperor's money nor committed any offence against the state, he summoned them, first of all, to face an investigation, laying to their charge the wrongs they had done Theoderic and the other Gothic rulers, and compelling them to pay whatever gains they had made, as he alleged, by deceiving the Goths. 33 In the second place, he disappointed the soldiers by the niggardliness of the reckoning with which he repaid them for their wounds and dangers. Hence not only did the Italians become disaffected from the Emperor Justinian, but not one of the soldiers was willing any longer to undergo the dangers of war, and by wilfully refusing to fight, they caused the strength of the enemy to grow continually greater.

 p163  34 While the other commanders were remaining quiet on account of this situation, Vitalius alone (for he happened to have in Venetia a numerous army comprising with others a great throng of barbarian Eruli) had the courage to do battle with Ildibadus, fearing, as actually happened, that at a later time when his power had grown greatly they would be no longer able to check him. 35 But in the fierce battle which took place near the city of Tarbesium,​6 Vitalius was badly defeated and fled, saving some few men, but losing the most of them there. In this battle many Eruli fell and among them Visandus, the leader of the Eruli, was killed. 36 And Theudimund, the son of Mauricius and grandson of Mundus, a mere lad at the time, came indeed into danger of death, but succeeded in making his escape in company with Vitalius. As a result of this achievement the name of Ildibadus reached the emperor and spread over the whole world.

37 But after a time it so fell out that enmity sprang up between Uraïas and Ildibadus for the following reason. Uraïas had a wife who in wealth and personal beauty was adjudged first among all the women of these barbarians. 38 This woman once went down to the bath clad in great magnificence of ornament and taking with her a very notable company of attendants. 39 And seeing the wife of Ildibadus there in plain garments, she not only did her no obeisance as the consort of the king but otherwise too ignored and did her insult. For Ildibadus was still in poverty, having by no means come into royal wealth. 40 And the wife of Ildibadus, being very much offended by the uncalled‑for insult, came to  p165 her husband in tears and demanded that he avenge her for the outrageous treatment she had received from the wife of Uraïas. 41 Accordingly Ildibadus first slandered Uraïas of the barbarians, imputing to him that he was intending to desert to the enemy, but a little later he put him to death by treachery, and thereby incurred the enmity of the Goths. 42 For it was by no means in accordance with their wish that Uraïas should be thus unceremoniously removed from the world. And forthwith a large number of them formed a party and began to denounce Ildibadus vehemently as having committed an unholy deed. However, no one was willing to exact vengeance from him for this murder.

43 But there was one among them, Velas by name, who, though a Gepid by birth, had attained the dignity of serving among the king's guards. 44 This man had wooed a woman fair to look upon, and he loved her with an extraordinary love; but while he was off on an expedition against the enemy, in order to make some attack upon them in company with certain others, Ildibadus, meantime, either through ignorance or prompted by some other motive, married his intended bride to someone else among the barbarians. 45 And when Velas, returning from the army, heard this, being passionate by nature, he could not bear the insult thus done him, but decided immediately to kill Ildibadus, thinking that he would thereby render a welcome service to all the Goths. 46 And so, when the king on a certain occasion was entertaining the noblest of the Goths at a banquet, he watched for an opportunity and put his plot into execution. 47 For while the king is dining, it is customary for many persons to stand about him and  p167 among them his bodyguards. So when he had stretched out his hand to the food as he lay reclining upon the couch, Velas suddenly smote his neck with his sword. 48 And so, while the food was still grasped in the man's fingers, his head was severed and fell upon the table, and filled all those present with great consternation and amazement. 49 Such, then, was the vengeance which overtook Ildibadus for the murder of Uraïas. 541 A.D. And the winter drew to a close and the sixth year ended in this war, the history of which Procopius has written.

2 1 There was a certain Eraric in the Gothic army, one of the Rogi by birth, a man possessed of great power among these barbarians. Now these Rogi are indeed a Gothic nation, but in ancient times they used to live as an independent people. 2 But Theoderic had early persuaded them, along with certain other nations, to form an alliance with him, and they were absorbed into the Gothic nation and acted in common with them in all things against their enemies. 3 But whence they had absolutely no intercourse with women other than their own, each successive generation of children was of unmixed blood, and thus they had preserved the name of their nation among themselves. 4 This Eraric in the midst of the turmoil consequent upon the murder of Ildibadus, was suddenly proclaimed king by the Rogi. 5 This act pleased the Goths not at all; however, the most of them had in fact fallen into great despondence because  p169 the hopes they had formerly placed in Ildibadus had been frustrated; for he, they felt, would have been able to recover the kingdom and the sovereignty of Italy for the Goths. 6 Eraric, however, did nothing at all worthy of note; for after living in office five months he died in the following manner. 7 There was a certain Totila, a nephew of Ildibadus, a man gifted with remarkable discretion, energetic in the extreme, held in high esteem among the Goths. This Totila happened at that time to be in command of the Goths in Tarbesium. 8 But when he learned that Ildibadus had been removed from among men in the manner described, he sent to Constantianus at Ravenna asking that pledges be given him for his safety, on condition that he hand over to the Romans both himself and the Goths whom he commanded along with Tarbesium. 9 This proposal Constantianus heard gladly and swore to everything just as Totila requested, and a fixed day for the transaction was agreed upon by both, on which Totila and the Goths who were keeping guard in Tarbesium were to receive into the city some of the associates of Constantianus and put themselves and the city into their hands.

10 But already the Goths were becoming dissatisfied with the rule of Eraric, seeing the man to be incompetent to carry on the war against the Romans, and the most of them were openly abusing him as one who had stood in their way to great achievements, alleging that he had done away with Ildibadus.​7 11 And finally they made an agreement among themselves  p171 and sent to Totila at Tarbesium, urging him to assume the royal power. For by now they were beginning to feel generally a keen sense of regret for the lost rule of Ildibadus, and so they began to turn their hope of victory toward his relative Totila, having come to feel confidence in the man because his wish was the same as theirs. 12 As for Totila, when the messengers came before him, he, without any concealment, disclosed his agreement with the Romans, but said that, if the Goths should kill Eraric before the appointed day, he would both follow them and carry out everything in accordance with their desires. 13 When the barbarians heard this, they set about forming a plot to compass the destruction of Eraric. Such was the progress of events in the Gothic camp.

14 But in the meantime the Roman armies, though enjoying security as a result of the preoccupation of the enemy, were neither moving to unite their forces, nor were they planning any action against the barbarians. 15 As for Eraric, he called together all the Goths and persuaded them to send envoys to the Emperor Justinian, who should beg him to make peace with them on the same terms on which he had been willing previously to conclude a treaty with Vittigis, on the condition, namely, that the Goths, holding the territory north of the Po, should withdraw from the rest of Italy. 16 And since this was approved by the Goths, he chose out some of those especially intimate with him, including one Caballarius by name, and sent them as envoys. 17 Now these envoys were ostensibly to treat of those matters which I have mentioned above, but secretly he instructed them to treat with the emperor of nothing  p173 else than how he might himself receive a great sum of money and be enrolled among the patricians in return for handing over the whole of Italy and laying aside his official title. 18 So the envoys, upon reaching Byzantium, proceeded to treat of these matters. It was at this time that the Goths killed Eraric by treachery. And after his death, Totila took over the rule in accordance with the agreement made with them.

3 1 Now when the Emperor Justinian learned of the fate which had befallen Eraric and that the Goths had established Totila as ruler over them, he began to rebuke and censure the commanders of the army in Italy and gave them no respite. 2 The consequence of this was that John, the nephew of Vitalian, and Bessas and Vitalius and all the others, after establishing garrisons in each city, gathered at Ravenna, where Constantianus and Alexander, whom I have mentioned previously,​8 were quartered. 3 And when they were all gathered together, it was decided that the best procedure for them was to march first against Verona, which is in Venetia, and then, after capturing that city and the Goths there, to move against Totila and Ticinum. 4 So this Roman army was assembled with a strength of twelve thousand men, and its commanders were eleven in number,  p175 the first of whom were, as it happened, Constantianus and Alexander; and they marched straight toward the city of Verona. 5 And when they had come to a place close to the city, about sixty stades away, they made camp in the plain there. For plains which are suitable for cavalry stretch out in every direction from this place and extend as far as the city of Mantua, which is one day's justly distant from the city of Verona.

6 Now there was a man of note among the Veneti, Marcian by name, who lived in a fortress not far distant from the city of Verona, and began as he was a staunch adherent of the emperor, he eagerly undertook to hand over the city to the Roman army. 7 And since one of the guards had been known to him from childhood, he sent to him some of his intimates and persuaded the man by means of a bribe to receive the emperor's army into the city. 8 Then, when the guard of the gate had agreed, Marcian sent those who had arranged the matter with the guard to the commanders of the nearly, in order both to report to them the arrangements made and to join them in forcing an entrance into the city by night. 9 The commanders then decided that it was advisable for one of their number to go in advance with some few men; and if the guard should set the gates open for them, they were to hold them fast and receive the army in safety into the city. 10 Now no one among them all was willing to undertake this perilous enterprise except Artabazes alone, an Armenian by birth but a man of exceptional ability in war, who not at all unwillingly offered himself for  p177 the undertaking. 11 This man commanded some Persians whom Belisarius had, as it happened, sent to Byzantium from Persian territory along with Bleschames a little before this, after his capture of the fortress Sisauranon.​9 12 So he on the present occasion selected one hundred men from the whole army and at a late hour of the night went up close to the fortifications. 13 And when the guard, true to his agreement, opened the gate for them, some of them took their stand there and were urging the army to come, while the others mounted the wall and killed the men on guard there, assailing them as they did without warning. 14 Then the whole Gothic force, upon perceiving their evil plight, rushed off in flight through another gate.

Now there is a certain rock which rises to a great height facing the fortifications of Verona, from which it is possible to observe everything which is taking place in the city and to count the people in it, and, besides, to see for a very great distance over the plain. 15 Thither the Goths retreated and remained quiet during the whole night. As for the Roman army, it advanced to a point within forty stades of the city, but proceeded no further, the generals being engaged in a dispute among themselves over the money In the city. 16 And they still continued to wrangle over this plunder until day had now clearly dawned; but the Goths, after observing accurately from the height both the number of the enemy scattered through the city and the distance at which the rest of the army had halted from Verona, made a rush toward the city, and passed through the very  p179 gate through which, as it happened, they had previously departed; for those who had entered the city were unable even to hold this gate. 17 So the Romans, taking counsel together, hastily sought safety on the parapet along the circuit-wall; and when the barbarians in great numbers assailed them at close quarters, they all, and Artabazes especially, made a display of remarkable deeds and warded off their assailants most vigorously.

18 At that moment the commanders of the Roman army had at last reached an agreement with each other regarding the money in Verona, and decided to proceed against the city with all the rest of the army. 19 But finding the gates closed to them and the enemy warding them off most vigorously, they quickly marched to the rear, although they saw the others fighting inside the fortifications and begging them not to abandon them, but to remain there until they should save themselves by fleeing to them. 20 So Artabazes and his men, being overcome by the numbers of the enemy and despairing of assistance from their own army, all leaped down outside the wall. 21 Now all those who had the fortune to fall on smooth ground betook themselves unscathed to the Roman army, among whom was Artabazes also, but as many as fell on rough ground were all killed instantly. 22 And when Artabazes had reached the Roman army, he proceeded with them, having heaped abuse and contumely upon them all; and after crossing the Eridanus,​10 they entered the city of Faventia,​11 which  p181 is in the land of Aemilia, one hundred and twenty stades distant from Ravenna.

4 1 Totila, upon learning what had taken place at Verona, summoned many of the Goths from that city, and upon their arrival moved with his whole army, amounting to five thousand men, against his opponents. Now when the commanders of the Roman army learned this, they began to deliberate over their situation. 2 And Artabazes came forward and spoke as follows: "Fellow-commanders, let no one of you think fit at the present time to despise the enemy because they are inferior to us in number, nor, because he is fighting against men enslaved by Belisarius, let him advance against them in a reckless frame of mind. 3 For many a man, deceived by a false estimate of a situation, has brought about his own downfall, while others who have been filled with unjustified contempt of their foes have seen their whole power ruined thereby; and even apart from this, the very fact of their previous ill fortune lures these men on to attain a fairer lot. 4 For when fortune has reduced a man to despair and robbed him of his fair hopes, it changes his nature and leads him to feel an extraordinary degree of daring. 5 And it is not because I am moved by mere suspicion that I have made these statements before you, but because of the thorough acquaintance I have recently made with the daring of these men while engaged in  p183 mortal combat with them. 6 And let no one think that I now marvel at their power because I was defeated along with a handful of men. For it is to those who shall come to blows with them that men's valour becomes revealed, whether those men are superior in number or inferior. 7 My opinion then is that it will be more to our advantage to watch for the crossing of the river by the barbarians, and, while the crossing is in progress, and about half their men are across, to engage with them then, rather than after they have already assembled, all in one body. 8 And let no man consider such a victory inglorious. For the outcome of events alone is wont to decide whether a deed shall be named glorious or inglorious, and it is the victors whom men are accustomed to praise without investigating the manner of the victory." 9 So spoke Artabazes. But the commanders, owing to the divergence of their opinions, did nothing that they should, but continued to remain where they were and lose their opportunity by delay.

10 And now the army of the Goths had come very near, and when they were about to cross the river, Totila called them all together and exhorted them as follows: "My kinsmen, all other battles give promise, as a general thing, of a contest that will be more or less even and thereby incite the contending armies to the struggle, but we are entering this combat, not on an equality with our enemy as regards the advantages of fortune, but facing a very different situation. 11 For they, even in case of a possible defeat, will be able after no long time to renew the fight  p185 against us. For there is left behind for them a numerous army quartered in the island strongholds throughout the whole of Italy, and, furthermore, it is not at all improbable that another army will at a very early date come to their assistance from Byzantium. But if we, on the other hand, suffer this same fate, there will be a final end of the name and hopes of the Goths. 12 For from an army of two hundred thousand we have been reduced in the course of events to five thousand men. Having made such a preface, I think it not inappropriate to recall to your minds this fact also, that when you decided to take up arms with Ildibadus against the emperor, the number of your band amounted to no more than one thousand men, while your entire territory consisted of the city of Ticinum. 13 But since you came off victors in the engagement, both our army and our territory have increased. So that if you are willing in this battle to display the same spirit of manly courage, I am hopeful that, as the war goes on, following its natural course, we shall accomplish the complete defeat of our opponents. 14 For it always proves true that the victors increase both in numbers and in power. Let each one of you, therefore, be eager to join battle with the enemy with all your strength, understanding clearly that if we do not succeed in the present battle, it will be impossible to renew the struggle against our opponents. 15 It is reasonable, furthermore, for us to grapple with the enemy with high hopes, taking courage from the unjust acts committed by them. 16 For such has been their conduct towards their subjects that the Italians at the  p187 present time need no further punishment for the flagrant treason which they dared to commit against the Goths; so true is it that every form of evil, to put all in a word, has fallen to their lot from the hands of those whom they cordially received. 17 And what enemy could be more easy to overcome than men whose deeds, even those done in God's name, are utterly wicked?​12 Nay more, the very fear we inspire in them should properly be a further cause for confidence on our part as we enter the struggle. 18 For those against whom we proceed are no other men than those who recently first penetrated into the middle of Verona, then abandoned it for no good reason, and, although not a man pursued them, yet even so rushed off in a disgraceful flight."

19 After delivering this exhortation Totila commanded three hundred of his troops to cross the river at a distance of about twenty stades from where he stood and get behind the enemy's camp, and when the battle should come to it is written away, to fall upon their rear, harassing them with their missiles and assailing them with all their strength, in order that the Romans might be thrown into confusion and abandon all thought of resistance. 20 He himself, meanwhile, with the rest of the army straightway crossed the river and advanced directly upon his opponents; and the Romans immediately came out to meet him. 21 And when, as both armies advanced, they came nearer to each other, a Goth, Valaris by name, tall of stature and of most terrifying mien, an active man withal and a good fighter, rode his horse out before the rest of the army and  p189 took his stand in the open space between the armies, clad in a corselet and wearing a helmet on his head; and he challenged all the Romans, if anyone was willing to do battle with him. 22 Whereupon all remained quiet, being stricken with terror, save Artabazes alone, who advanced to fight the man. 23 So they rode their horses toward each other, and when they came close, both thrust their spears, but Artabazes, anticipating his opponent, delivered the first blow and pierced the right side of Valaris. 24 And the barbarian, mortally wounded, was about to fall backward to the earth, but his spear, resting on the ground behind him and being braced against a rock, did not permit him to fall. 25 As for Artabazes, he continued to press forward still more vigorously, driving the spear into the man's vitals; for as yet he did not suppose that he had already suffered a mortal wound. 26 Thus it came about that Valaris' spear stood practically upright and its iron point encountered the corselet of Artabazes, and first, engt little by little, it went clear through the corselet, and then, slipping further, grazed the skin of Artabazes' neck. 27 And by some chance the iron, as it pushed forward, cut an artery which lies in that region, and there was immediately a great flow of blood. 28 However, the man experienced no feeling of pain, and he rode back to the Roman army, while Valaris fell dead on the spot. 29 But the flow of blood from Artabazes' wound did not abate and on the third day afterwards he departed from among men; and this mishap shattered all the hopes of the Romans, since he was rendered unfit for fighting in the engagement which followed, and  p191 himself injured their cause in no small degree. 30 For while he went out of range of missiles and was caring for his wound, the two armies engaged with each other.

31 But when the engagement was hottest, the three hundred barbarians suddenly appeared advancing behind the Roman army; and when the Romans saw these men, supposing as they did that their assailants were a great multitude, they fell into a panic and straightway rushed off in flight, each man as best he could. 32 And the barbarians kept up a slaughter of Romans as they fled in complete disorder, and many of them they captured and held under guard, and they captured all the standards besides, a thing which had never before happened to the Romans.​13 As for the commanders, each one of them as he could fled with only a few men, and finding safety in whatever cities they happened to reach they continued to guard them.

5 1 Not long after this Totila sent an army against Justinus and Florentia,​14 putting in command of the force the most warlike of the Goths, Vledas, Roderic, and Uliaris. And when they came up to Florentia, they established themselves in camp about the wall and entered upon a siege. 2 Thereupon Justinus, in great agitation because, as it happened, he had brought no provisions at all into the city, sent to Ravenna to the commanders of  p193 the Roman army, begging them to come to his assistance with all speed. 3 And the messenger slipped unobserved through the enemy's lines by night, and upon reaching Ravenna reported the situation which confronted the garrison. 4 As a result of this intelligence a considerable Roman army immediately started on the way to Florentia, under command of Bessas, Cyprian and John the nephew of Vitalian. 5 When the Goths learned of this army through their scouts, they broke up the siege and withdrew to a place called Mucellis,​15 one day's journey distant from Florentia. 6 And when the Roman army had joined forces with Justinus, the commanders left there a few of his men to guard the city, but took the rest along with them and proceeded against the enemy.

7 And as they proceeded on their way it was decided that the most advantageous plan was for one of the commanders to choose out the most famous fighters in the whole army and with them go in advance of the others, and make a sudden and unexpected attack upon the enemy, while the rest of the army should proceed without quickening its pace and come upon the scene later. 8 So they cast lots with this plan in view and awaited the decision of fortune in this matter. Now the lot fell out for John, but the commanders were no longer willing to carry out the agreement. 9 Thus it was that John was compelled with his own troops alone to go in advance of the others and make an account upon the enemy. But the barbarians, learning that their opponents were advancing upon them and being greatly terrified, decided to abandon the plain  p195 where they had established their camp, and in confusion ran to the top of a high hill which rises near by. 10 And when the force of John arrived there, they too ran up against the enemy and opened the attack. 11 But since the barbarians defended themselves vigorously, a violent struggle took place and many men on both sides, while making a remarkable display of heroism, were beginning to fall. 12 Now though John had led a charge with loud shouting and tumult against the enemy opposite him, it so happened that one of his bodyguards was hit by a javelin thrown by one of the enemy and fell, as a result of this the Romans, now repulsed, began to retire to the rear.

13 By this time the remainder of the Roman army also had reached the plain, where they formed a phalanx and stood waiting. And if they had stood fast to give support to John's troops, which were now in full flight, they could advanced all together upon the enemy, and not only would they have defeated them in the battle, but they would have been able also to capture practically the whole force. 14 But by some chance it so fell out that an untrue report was circulated through the Roman army to the effect that John had perished at the hand of one of his own bodyguards during the action then in progress. 15 And when the report came to the commanders, they were no longer willing to hold their position, but they one and all began to retire in a disgraceful sort of retreat. 16 For neither did they keep their troops in order, nor did they move off in any kind of groups, but each man for himself, just as he could, rushed off in headlong flight. And many indeed perished in  p197 this flight, and as for the rest, all such as were saved continued their flight for many days although they were not pursued at all. 17 And some time afterwards they entered such strongholds as each one happened upon, and the report they carried to those they chanced to meet was only this, that John was dead. 18 And consequently they were no longer in contact with each other, nor had they any purpose of uniting thereafter against the enemy, but each remained inside the circuit-wall of his own fort and began to prepare for a siege, fearing that the barbarians would come against him. 19 Totila, meanwhile, was shewing great kindness to his prisoners, and thereby succeeded in winning their allegiance, and henceforth the most of them voluntarily served under him against the Romans. And the winter drew to its close, and the seventh year ended in this war, the history of which Procopius has written.

6 1 After this Totila took the fortresses of Caesena​16 and Petra. And a little later he entered Tuscany and made trial of the places there; but since no one was willing to yield to him, he crossed the Tiber, and, carefully refraining from entering the territory of Rome at all, he advanced immediately into Campania and Samnium and with no trouble won the strong city of Beneventum, the walls of which he razed to the ground, in order that any army coming from Byzantium might not be able, by using this strong base, to cause trouble for the Goths. 2 After this he decided to besiege Naples,  p199 because the inhabitants, in spite of his many winning words, were quite unwilling to receive him into the city. For Conon was keeping guard there with a force of a thousand Romans and Isaurians. 3 And Totila himself with the greater part of the army made camp not far from the fortifications and remained quiet, but he sent off a part of the army and captured the fortress of Cumae and certain other strongholds, from which he succeeded in gathering in great sums of money. 4 And finding the wives of the senators there, he not only refrained from offering them any insult, but actually shewed such kindness as to let them go free, and by this act he won a great name for wisdom and humanity among all Romans.

And since ho hostile force was operating against him, he was constantly sending small detachments of the army round about and accomplishing results of great importance. 5 In this way he brought the Bruttii and Lucani under his sway, and gained Apulia as well as Calabria. And he himself collected the public taxes and also received the revenues from the land instead of those who owned the estates, and in all other matters he conducted himself as having become master of Italy. 6 In consequence of this the Roman soldiers naturally did not receive their customary payments at the times appointed, and the emperor owed them great sums of money. 7 Because of this situation the Italians, on the one hand, having been evicted from their property and finding themselves for the second time in very grave peril, were beginning to feel greatly dejected, while the soldiers, on the other hand, were shewing this for increasingly insubordinate to their commanders, and were  p201 glad to remain inside the cities. 8 So Constantianus was holding Ravenna, John Rome, Bessas Spolitium,​17 Justinus Florentia, and Cyprian Perusia;​18 and each one of the others was holding whatever town had originally provided him shelter and safety in his flight.

9 Upon hearing of these things, the emperor, in sore distress, made all haste to appoint Maximinus pretorian prefect​19 of Italy, commissioning him to exercise authority over the commanders for the purpose of carrying on the war, and to furnish the soldiers with provisions according to their needs. 10 And he sent a fleet of ships with him, manning them with Thracian and Armenian soldiers. The leader of the Thracians was Herodian, and of the Armenians Phazas the Iberian, nephew of Peranius;​20 and a few Huns also sailed with them. 11 So Maximinus sailed forth from Byzantium with the whole fleet and reached Epirus in Greece, where for no good reason he proceeded to settle down and waste precious time. 12 For he was utterly inexperienced in with like deeds, and was consequently both timid and exceedingly prone to delay.

13 Later on the emperor sent Demetrius also as general, a man who had previously served under Belisarius as commander of a detachment of infantry.​21 14 So Demetrius sailed to Sicily, and, upon learning that Conon and the inhabitants of Naples were exceedingly hard pressed by the siege, being altogether out of provisions, he wished indeed to go to their  p203 assistance with all speed, but was unable to do so because the force which followed him was so small as but of little consequence, and so devised the following plan. 15 Gathering as many ships as possible from all Sicily and filling them with grain and other provisions, he set sail, making it appear to his opponents that some enormous army was aboard the ships. 16 And he judged the mind of the enemy correctly; for they thought that a great army was coming upon them, reaching this conclusion just because they had learned that a huge fleet was sailing from Sicily. 17 And if for Demetrius had been willing at the very first to steer straight for Naples, I believe that he would have both struck terror into the enemy and saved the city, without a man opposing him. 18 But as it was, he felt that the danger involved was too great, and so did not put in to Naples at all, but sailing to the harbour of Rome began hastily to gather soldiers from there. 19 But the soldiers at Rome, having been defeated by the barbarians and still regarding them with great awe, were by no means willing to follow Demetrius against Totila and the Goths. Thus it came about that he was compelled to go to Naples with only the troops who had come with him from Byzantium.

20 Now there was another Demetrius, a Cephalenian by birth, who had previously been a sailor and was thoroughly skilled in all matters pertaining to the sea and its dangers, and having sailed with Belisarius to Libya and to Italy, he had become noted for this skill of his; and for this reason the emperor had appointed him governor of Naples. 21 And when the barbarians began to besiege the town, he was so carried away by a spirit of utter wantonness that  p205 he commenced to heap insults upon Totila, and continued often to do so, and the man was observed to have an exceedingly reckless tongue during this time of stress.

22 As the situation became worse and the loss of life among the besieged was becoming serious, this man, acting on the advice of Conon, had the daring to embark secretly of a skiff and go alone to the general Demetrius. 23 And having, to everybody's surprise, made the voyage in safety and coming before Demetrius, he endeavoured with all his power to stir him to boldness, and urged him on to undertake the task before him. 24 But Totila had heard the whole truth about this fleet and was holding many ships of the swiftest sort in readiness; and when the enemy put in at that part of the coast, not far from Naples, he came upon them unexpectedly, and filling them with consternation turned the whole force to flight. 25 And although he helped many of them, he captured a very large number, and there escaped only as many as succeeded at the first in leaping into the small boats of the ships, 26 among whom was Demetrius the general. For the barbarians captured all the ships with their cargoes, crews and all, among whom they found Demetrius, the governor of Naples. And cutting off his tongue and both hands, they did not indeed kill him, but released him thus mutilated to go where he would. This then was the penalty which Demetrius paid to Totila for an unbridled tongue.

7 1 Later on Maximinus also put in at Sicily with all his ships, and upon reaching Syracuse he remained  p207 quiet, being terrified at the perils of war. 2 Now when the commanders of the Roman army learned of his coming, they all sent to him with great eagerness, begging him to come to the rescue with all speed; and Conon sent a particularly urgent message from Naples, where he was most vigorously besieged by the barbarians; for by this time all their provisions had been exhausted. 3 But Maximinus, after delaying through the whole critical period in such a state of terror, was finally moved by his fear of the emperor's threats and gave way before the abuse of the other commanders; so, while he himself still remained just where he was, he sent the whole army to Naples with Herodian, Demetrius and Phazas, the winter season being already very close upon them.

4 But when the Roman fleet had reached a point close to Naples, a violent wind came down upon them, raising an extraordinarily severe tempest. 5 And the darkness covered​22 everything, while the surging waters prevented the sailors from pulling their oars or handling the ships in any other way. And because of the roar of foaming waves they were no longer able to hear one another, but complete confusion prevailed and they were at the mercy of the wind's violence, which carried them, little as they wished it, to the very shore where the enemy were encamped. 6 The barbarians, therefore, boarding the craft of their opponents at their leisure, began to kill the men and sink the ships without meeting any opposition. And they also captured along with many others the general Demetrius. 7 But Herodian and Phazas with some few men succeeded in making  p209 their escape, because the ships did not come very close to the enemy's camp. Such was the fate of the Roman fleet.

8 And Totila fastened a cord about Demetrius' neck and so dragged him up to the wall of Naples, where he ordered him to advise the besieged no longer to ruin themselves by trusting in hopes of no avail, but to hand the city over as quickly as possible to the Goths and thus rid themselves of bitter hardships; 9 for the emperor, he said, was unable thereafter to send them further aid, but in this fleet both their strength and their hope had utterly perished. So Demetrius spoke the words which Totila commanded. 10 And the besieged, being now exceedingly hard pressed by famine and utter destitution, upon seeing the fate of Demetrius and hearing all his words, began to despair of every hope, and gave way to sorrowing and helplessness, and the city was filled with loud tumult and lamentation.

11 Afterward Totila himself called them up to the battlement, and addressed them as follows: "Men of Naples, it is not because we have any charge or reproach to bring against you, that we have undertaken this present siege, but in order that we may be able, by freeing you from most hated masters, to repay you for the service you have rendered us during this war — a service which had induced the enemy to treat you with the utmost severity. 12 For it has come about that you alone among all the Italians have manifested the greatest loyalty to the  p211 Gothic nation and have fallen most unwillingly under the power of our opponents. 13 So that, in the present circumstances, when we have been compelled to besiege you along with them, we naturally have a feeling of reluctance on account of your loyalty to us, although we are not carrying on the siege in order to harm the Neapolitans. 14 Do not, therefore, in vexation at the miseries arising from the siege, think that you ought to regard the Goths with anger. For those who are striving to benefit their friends merit from them no blame, even though they be compelled to use unpleasant means in accomplishing the service they afford them. 15 And as for the enemy, let not the least fear of them enter your hearts, and be not led by past events to think that they will gain the victory over us. For the unreasonable events of life,​23 which are due to chance and contrary to expectation, are apt as time goes on to come to naught again. 16 And such is the good-will which we feel toward you that we make the concession that both Conon and all his strangers may go free from harm wherever they may wish, on the one condition that they yield the city to us and depart hence, taking with them all their own possessions; and nothing shall prevent our taking an oath to secure these promises and to guarantee the safety of the Neapolitans."

17 Thus spoke Totila; and both the Neapolitans natural the soldiers under command of Conon expressed approval; for the keen necessity of famine was pressing them hard. 18 However, by way of guarding their allegiance to the emperor, and still expecting, as they did, that some assistance would come to  p213 them, they agreed to give up the city after thirty days. 19 But Totila, wishing to dispel from their minds every hope of assistance from the emperor, appointed three months' time, with the stipulated that after this time they should do as had been agreed. He declared, further, that until the time was achieved he would make no assault on the wall, nor employ any stratagem of any kind. The agreement was accordingly approved in this sense. 20 But the besieged, without awaiting the appointed day (for they were utterly overcome by the lack of necessities), a little later received Totila and the barbarians into there. And the winter drew to its close, and the eighth year ended in this war, the history of which Procopius has written.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 His official retinue.

2 Described in Book V.xix‑VI.x.

3 In Italy.

4 "One who audits accounts."

5 The maintenance of the army seemed to John to involve unnecessary details of expenditure.

6 Modern Treviso.

7 This is the first intimation that Eraric had had anything to do with the murder of Ildibadus, which in the previous chapter was ascribed to Velas.

8 Chap. i.28, foll., above.

9 Cf.  Book II.xix.24.

10 Modern Po.

11 Modern Faenza.

12 Referring to their violation of their oaths.

13 Incorrect of course; the loss of the standards by Crassus in 53 B.C. and by varius in 9 A.D. should have been known to Procopius.

14 Modern Florence.

15 Modern Mugello (a valley).

16 Modern Cesena.

17 Modern Spoleto.

18 Modern Perugia.

19 Praefectus praetorio, though the praetorians in Italy were no longer an imperial bodyguard.

20 See Book I.xii.11, etc.

21 See Book V.v.3.

22 The MSS. do not offer a readable text; the translation represents Christ's conjecture.

23 He means the Roman successes.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 14 Sep 20