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III.25‑29

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Gothic Wars

of
Procopius

published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1928

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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III.36‑40

(Vol. IV) Procopius
Gothic Wars

Book III (continued)

 p407  30 1 The Emperor Justinian now sent not less than two thousand infantry by sea to Sicily and ordered Valerian to join Belisarius without any delay. 2 He accordingly crossed the sea and put in at Dryus, where he found Belisarius together with his wife. 3 At about this time Antonina, the wife of Belisarius, set off for Byzantium, intending to beg the empress to make larger provision for carrying on the war. 4 But the Empress Theodora had fallen sick and passed from the world, having lived as queen twenty‑one years and three months.1

5 Meanwhile the Romans who were being held under siege in the fortress near Rusciane, hard pressed, as they were, by the lack of necessary supplies, opened negotiations with the enemy and agreed that precisely at the middle of the summer season they would hand over the fortress, unless some relief came to them in the interval, on condition, however, that they should all remain free from harm. 6 Now there were in this fortress many notables of the Italians, among whom was Deopheron the brother of Tullianus, while the Roman army was represented by three hundred Illyrian horsemen whom John had stationed in that place, appointing as commanders over them Chalazar the guardsman, a Massagete by birth and an especially able warrior, and Gudilas the Thracian; and there were also a p409hundred infantry sent by Belisarius to guard the fortress.

7 At that time also the soldiers who had been detailed by Belisarius for the garrison of Rome killed their commander Conon, bringing against him the charge of trafficking in grain and the other provisions to their detriment. 8 And they sent some of the priests as envoys, firmly declaring that if the emperor did not exonerate them from guilt for this deed and remit to them within a specified time the back payment which the state owed them, they would without the slightest hesitation go over to Totila and the Goths. And the emperor fulfilled their request.

9 Belisarius now summoned John to Dryus and, together with him and Valerian and other commanders, he gathered a great fleet and sailed straight for Rusciane with all speed, being intent upon bringing relief to the besieged. 10 And those in the fortress, seeing this fleet from their elevated position, revived their hopes and now decided not to yield to the enemy, although the day upon which they had agreed was already close at hand. 11 First then a terrific storm came on, and for this reason and also because the coast there is altogether without harbours, the ships came to be scattered far apart from one another; 12 thus it came about that considerable time was wasted. And when they had been collected in the harbour of Croton, they put out a second time for Rusciane. But when the barbarians saw them, they leaped upon their horses  p411 and came down to the beach, intending to prevent the disembarkation of their enemy. 13 And Totila placed them for a great distance along the shore face to face with the prows of the ships, some with spears and some with bows ready strung. 14 This army struck terror to the hearts of the Romans when they saw it and they had not the courage to come close, but they first stopped their ships at a great distance and remained quiet for some time, and then, giving up the landing in despair, they all backed off and put to sea and sailed once more into the harbour of Croton.

15 There, after taking council together, they decided that it was better that Belisarius should proceed to Rome and there set matters in order as well as possible and bring in provisions, while John and Valerian should first disembark the men and horses on the shore and then march overland into Picenum, in order to throw into confusion those of the barbarians who were besieging the strongholds in that region. 16 For they entertained the hope that Totila would be led by such moves to abandon the siege and follow them. 17 Accordingly, John, for his part, accompanied by his troops, a thousand in number, carried out this plan; but Valerian, fearing the danger, went around through the Ionian Gulf with the ships and sailed straight for Ancon. For he thought that he could in this way reach Picenum with safety and unite with John. 18 But even so Totila was unwilling to abandon the siege, but, while he himself remained settled there, he selected two thousand horsemen from the army and sent them into  p413 Picenum, in order to unite with the barbarians there and throw back the forces of John and Valerian.

19 The Romans who were besieged in the fortress at Rusciane, seeing that their provisions had now completely failed them and that they had no further hope of assistance from the Romans, sent Gudilas the guardsman and Deopheron the Italian to Totila and opened negotiations concerning their safety, begging him to pardon them for their deeds. 20 And Totila promised that he would inflict punishment upon no one except Chalazar, seeing that he had disregarded the previous agreement, but he would remit the charge against all the others. On such terms he in person took over the fortress. 21 And he cut off both the hands of Chalazar and his private parts and then killed him immediately; as for the soldiers, he ordered those who wished to do so to remain, keeping their own possessions, on condition that they array themselves thereafter with the Goths on terms of complete equality; indeed this was the same procedure which he had regularly followed when the other strongholds were captured; 22 those, on the other hand, who were not at all satisfied to remain, he commanded to depart from there and go without equipment wherever they pleased, in order that no man in the world might march unwillingly under his standard. 23 Thus, while eighty of the Roman army abandoned their possessions and came to Croton, the rest remained where they were with their possessions. 24 The Italians, however, he deprived of all their property, though he left their persons entirely unharmed.

 p415  25 When Antonina, the wife of Belisarius, reached Byzantium after the decease of the empress, she begged the emperor to summon her husband thither. This she accomplished very readily. For the Persian war was now pressing the Emperor Justinian to the utmost, and influenced him to this decision.

31 1 At this time certain men formed a plot to assail the Emperor Justinian. And I shall now set forth how these men came to undertake this plot and the manner in which they were frustrated and never came to the accomplish­ment of their purpose. 2 Artabanes, after slaying the tyrant Gontharis, as told in the preceding narrative,2 conceived an immoderate desire to take to wife the emperor's niece Preïecta, who was betrothed to him. 3 Now she, too, desired this very ardently, not that she was led to this by love for the man, but because she acknowledged a heavy debt of gratitude to him, seeing that he had not only avenged the murder of her husband Areobindus, but had also rescued and snatched her from peril when she was a captive and destined after no long time to become the unwilling consort of the tyrant Gontharis. 4 Since, then, both wanted this, Artabanes sent Preïecta to the emperor, while he himself, though appointed to the post of General of all Libya, invented sundry untruthful pretexts to induce the emperor to summon him to Byzantium. 5 For he was  p417 led on to do this by the hope of this marriage, which suggested to him many blessings that would flow from the union and, in particular, that he would thereafter not be far from the throne. 6 For when men lay hold upon prosperity unexpectedly, their minds cannot remain stable, but in their hopes they ever keep going forward, until they are deprived even of the felicity that has been undeservedly theirs.

However, the emperor fulfilled his request 7 and summoned Artabanes to Byzantium, while he appointed in his place another General of Libya, as has been related above.3 8 Now when Artabanes reached Byzantium, the common people admired him for his achievements and loved him for his other qualities. 9 For he was both tall of stature and handsome, of a noble character and little given to speech. And the emperor had honoured him in a very unusual manner. 10 For he had appointed him general of the troops in Byzantium and commander of the foederati,4 as well as clothing him with the dignity of consul. 11 But as for Preïecta, Artabanes was quite unable to marry her. For he had already a wife who was a relative of his and had been married to him from childhood. 12 This wife he had, for his part, repudiated long before, doubtless because one of those causes had developed such as lead to the estrangement of man and wife. 13 She, for her part, as long as the affairs of Artabanes were not prosperous, had remained at home without causing any trouble,  p419 bearing her lot in silence. But when Artabanes had now become illustrious by his deeds and great by his good fortune, the woman could no longer bear her dishonour and came to Byzantium. There, making herself a suppliant of the empress, she demanded the right to take back her husband. 14 Whereupon the empress, whose nature always led her to assist unfortunate women, decided to force Artabanes to accept her as his wife, although he rebelled violently, while John the son of Pompeius and nephew of Hypatia made Preïecta his wedded wife. 15 This calamity Artabanes did not bear lightly, but he became furious and said that one who had served the Romans so well . . . was now refused permission to lead in marriage the woman to whom he was betrothed and who shared with him a common desire to consummate the marriage, but he was, on the contrary, compelled for ever to share the couch of the one woman in the world most hateful to him — a situation which is bound inevitably to harass a man's soul. 16 Consequently, a little later, as soon as the empress had passed from this world, he, without further ado, promptly and joyfully sent this wife away.

17 Now it happened that Germanus, who was nephew to the emperor, had a brother named Boraïdes. This Boraïdes, then, brother of Germanus, had recently died, leaving the most of his property to his brother and nephews. 18 And though he had a wife and one daughter, he directed that the daughter should have only as much as the law required. Because of this,  p421 the emperor chose to champion the daughter's cause, an act which irritated Germanus exceedingly.

32 1 Such then were the relations of the emperor to Artabanes and to Germanus. There was also a certain Arsaces in Byzantium, an Armenian by birth and one of the Arsacidae, related to Artabanes by blood. 2 This man had been detected not long before this in an attempt to harm the state, and he had been clearly convicted of treason, since he was negotiating with Chosroes, the Persian king, to stir up trouble for the Romans. 3 But the emperor did him no further harm than to beat his back with not many blows and parade him through the city mounted on a camel; however, he did him no injury in either his person or his property, nor did he even penalize him by exile. 4 But Arsaces was nevertheless incensed at what had taken place, and began to devise treacherous plans against both Justinian and the state. 5 And when he saw that Artabanes, as his kinsman, was sharing his vexation, he began to stir him up still more, and, gaining the man's attention by crafty speeches, he ceased not day nor night to upbraid him, rebuking him for having been both courageous and faint-hearted out of season. 6 For he had, on the one hand, given proof of his nobility of spirit in his attitude toward the misfortunes of others, in that he had put an end to tyranny; indeed, though Gontharis was his friend and his host, he had laid hold of him with his own hand and slain him under no compulsion whatever. 7 But at the present  p423 juncture, he said, he was utterly cowed, and he continued to sit there without a spark of manhood, though his fatherland was kept under strictest guard and exhausted by unwonted taxes, his father had been slain on the pretext of a treaty and covenant, and his whole family had been enslaved and was kept scattered to every corner of the Roman empire. 8 But in spite of these facts Artabanes thought it sufficient for him to be a general of the Romans and merely bear the name of consul. "And you," he said, "do not share my sorrow in the least, though I am your kinsman and have suffered outrageous treatment, while I, for my part, pity you, my dear fellow, for the fortune you have suffered in the case of both those women, not only the one you have been cheated of wrongfully but also the other with whom you have been compelled to live. 9 And yet it ill becomes anyone who has even a little spirit in him to refuse to undertake the murder of Justinian, nor should he hesitate nor entertain any fear, — a man who always sits unguarded in some lobby to a late hour of the night, eagerly unrolling the Christian scriptures in company with priests who are at the extremity of old age. 10 Furthermore," he continued, "not one of the kinsmen of Justinian will oppose you. Indeed the most powerful of them all, Germanus, will, I believe, assist you with all his heart and his sons as well, seeing that they are young men and consequently boiling with fury against him; and I am in hopes that these men will actually carry through the enterprise of their own accord. 11 For they have already suffered injustice at his hand such as neither we nor anyone else among the Armenians has suffered." By such speeches Arsaces  p425 ever sought to cast a spell over Artabanes, and as soon as ever he saw him beginning to yield, he carried the matter to another Persarmenian, Chanaranges by name. 12 Now this Chanaranges was a young man who, though comely of person, was not a man of serious character, but childish to an extraordinary degree.

13 So when Arsaces had brought him and Artabanes into mutual agreement, both in their thinking and in their speaking, he departed, promising to make Germanus and his sons of the same mind with them in regard to the undertaking. 14 Now Justinus, the elder of the sons of Germanus, was a youth wearing his first beard, but an energetic fellow and unusually keen in action; 15 indeed, as a result of these qualities, he had actually risen to the dignity of the consular chair not long before. Accordingly, Arsaces approached him and said that he wished to speak with him secretly in some sanctuary. 16 When they had both entered the church, Arsaces first required Justinus to affirm on oath that he would never report their conversation to any man in the whole world, except his father alone. 17 And after the man had sworn to this effect, he took him to task because, on the one hand, he, a very close relative of the emperor, saw other men holding the offices of the state, common plebeian fellows with no claim to such distinction, while he himself, on the other hand, though he was now of such age that he was entitled to manage his own affairs, paid no heed to the fact that not only he himself, but also his father, and that, too, in spite of his high achievements,  p427 and his brother Justinian had to sit for ever in the place of private citizens. 18 Nay more, he had not even been allowed to enter into the property of his uncle, to which he and no other had been heir as far as concerned the purpose of Boraïdes, but the greater part of it had been unjustly wrested from him. 19 Still it was probable that they would be still further humiliated forthwith, as soon as Belisarius should arrive from Italy; for he was reported to be already somewhere in the heart of Illyricum. 20 After such an introduction Arsaces sought to compel the youth to take part in the plot against the emperor, disclosing to him the agreement reached between himself, Artabanes and Chanaranges in regard to this business. 21 Upon hearing this Justinus was greatly agitated and his head swam, but he told Arsaces flatly that neither he himself nor his father Germanus could ever do these things.

22 Then, while Arsaces reported to Artabanes what had happened, Justinus referred the whole matter to his father. He thereupon conferred with Marcellus, the commander of the palace guards, and they took the question under consideration whether it was advisable to report this matter to the emperor. 23 Now this Marcellus was a man of very great dignity who observed silence in most matters, neither doing anything for the sake of money nor tolerating buffoonery in word nor deed nor taking any pleasure in other forms of relaxation, but always living a kind of austere life to which pleasure was strange; but at the same time he was  p429 scrupulous in his observance of justice and a most ardent lover of truth. 24 So he naturally would not on that occasion allow the report to be carried to the emperor. "For as for you," he said, "it is inexpedient that you should carry information of this thing. For if you should wish to say anything to the emperor in secret, Artabanes and his friends will straightway become suspicious that the matter has been denounced, and, if perchance Arsaces is able to escape unnoticed, the charge will remain unproved. 25 And I, on the other hand, am not at all accustomed either to believe myself or to report to the emperor anything which I have not thoroughly verified. 26 It is my desire, consequently, either that I hear the words with my own ears or that one of my intimates, by your contriving, hear the man saying something unmistakably clear about these matters."

27 When Germanus heard this, he bade his son Justinus arrange that the requirement of Marcellus should be carried out. 28 He, however, was no longer able to say anything about this matter to Arsaces, since he had, as stated above, given him a flat refusal. 29 Still he did enquire of Chanaranges whether Arsaces had recently approached him at the suggestion of Artabanes. "For I," he said, "should never have had the courage to entrust any of my secrets to him, seeing he is such a man as he is. 30 But if you should be willing yourself to tell me something to the point, we could, by deliberating in common, perhaps accomplish something really worth while." 31 Chanaranges then conferred with Artabanes about this and reported to Justinus each and every thing which Arsaces had previously told him.

 p431  32 Then, since Justinus agreed both to carry out everything himself and to bring his father to agreement with them, it was decided that Chanaranges should meet Germanus in conference, and a definite day was appointed for the interview. 33 Germanus reported this to Marcellus and requested him to provide them one of his intimates who should hear with his own ears the words of Chanaranges. 34 And he provided Leontius, the son-in‑law of Athanasius, a man who had strict regard for justice and thoroughly capable of speaking the truth. 35 This man Germanus introduced into his house and placed in a room where a thick curtain had been hung to conceal the couch on which he was accustomed to dine. 36 And he hid Leontius inside this curtain, while he himself with his son Justinus remained outside. 37 When Chanaranges came there, Leontius clearly heard him say everything which he, Artabanes, and Arsaces had planned. 38 Among these things this too was mentioned, that, if they killed the emperor while Belisarius was still on the way to Byzantium, their purpose would not be advanced at all; for, though they might wish to establish Germanus on the throne, it was probable that Belisarius would gather a vast army from the towns of Thrace, and they would be unable by any device to repulse the man when he came against them in this way. 39 It would consequently be necessary to postpone the execution of the plan until Belisarius should be present, but as soon as the man should reach  p433 Byzantium and should be closeted with the emperor in the palace, then, at some time late in the evening, they should go there unexpectedly, armed with daggers, and kill Marcellus and Belisarius as well as the emperor. 40 For such a course of action would enable them thereafter to make such dispositions as they wished without fear.

Even when Marcellus learned this from Leontius, he could not as yet make up his mind to report the matter to the emperor, being, as he was, still very reluctant to act, lest by excessive haste he should doom Artabanes on imperfect evidence. 41 Germanus, however, revealed everything to Bouzes and Constantianus, fearing, as actually happened, that some suspicion would attach to him as a result of the delay.

42 Many days later, when word came that Belisarius was now close at hand, Marcellus reported the whole matter to the emperor, who immediately commanded Artabanes and his associates to be taken off to prison, entrusting to some of his officers the duty of torturing them.5 43 And when the whole conspiracy had now come to light and was clearly set down in writing, the emperor called a session of all the members of the senate in the palace, where they are accustomed to make their decisions regarding matters in dispute. 44 When they had read over everything which had been stated by the men under examination, they nevertheless sought to involve Germanus and his son Justinus in the accusation, until Germanus, by presenting the testimony of Marcellus and Leontius, succeeded in clearing himself of the suspicion. 45 For  p435 these men, as well as Constantianus and Bouzes, declared under oath that Germanus had concealed from them nothing whatever as far as concerned these matters, but that everything had happened as I have just related. 46 The senators, consequently, straightway acquitted both him and his son unanimously as having committed no offence against the state.

47 But when all had gone within to the emperor's apartment, the emperor himself, who had become violently angry, began to complain and to speak with the great bitterness against Germanus, blaming him for the tardiness of his disclosure, and two of the officials, courting his favour, agreed with his opinion and seemed to share his displeasure. In this way they greatly increased the emperor's anger, eager as they were to be complacent to him in matters involving other men's misfortunes. 48 But the others, cowed by fear, remained silent, yielding to him by not opposing his wish; Marcellus alone, however, by speaking with plain directness succeeded in saving the man. 49 For taking the blame upon himself and speaking with all the emphasis in his power, he said that Germanus, for his part, had told him most seasonably what was going on, but that he himself, making a very careful and detailed investigation, had reported the matter more deliberately. 50 And in this way he allayed the emperor's anger. So Marcellus won for himself great renown from this incident among all men, as one who in a moment of the gravest peril shewed his sterling quality. 51 And the  p437 Emperor Justinian removed Artabanes from the office he held, but he did him no harm, nor in fact any one of the others, beyond keeping them all under guard without dishonour — in the palace, however, not in the public prison.

33 1 At about this point in the war, the barbarians became unquestionably masters of the whole West. Thus, though the Romans had been at first decisively victorious in the Gothic war, as I have previously said, the final result for them was that not only had they consumed money and lives in prodigal fashion to no advantage, but they had also lost Italy besides, and had to look on while practically all the Illyrians and Thracians were being ravaged and destroyed in a pitiable manner by the barbarians, seeing they had now become their neighbours. And it came about as follows.

2 The Goths had at the beginning of this war given to the Germans all of Gaul which was subject to them, believing that they could never be able to array themselves against both nations, as has been said by me in the previous narrative.6 3 This act the Romans were not only unable to prevent, but the Emperor Justinian even encouraged it, in order that no obstacle might confront him through having these particular barbarians roused to war 4 (for the  p439 Franks7 never considered that their possession of Gaul was secure except when the emperor had put the seal of his approval upon their title). And consequently the rulers of the Germans occupied Massilia,8 the colony of Phocaea, and all the sea‑coast towns and gained control of that part of the sea. 5 So as gentlemen of leisure they view the horse races at Arelatum,9 and also make a golden coin from the produce of the mines in Gaul, not stamping the likeness of the Roman emperor on this stater, as is customary, but their own likeness. 6 And yet, while the Persian king is accustomed to make silver coinage as he likes, still it is not considered right either for him or for any other sovereign in the whole barbarian world to imprint his own likeness on a gold stater, and that, too, though he has gold in his own kingdom; for they are unable to tender such a coin to those with whom they transact business, even though the parties concerned in the transaction happen to be barbarians. Thus, then, had matters proceeded as regards the Franks.

7 When the arms of the Goths and Totila had gained the upper hand in the war, the Franks assumed control of the largest part of Venetia with no right at all, the Romans, for their part, being unable to ward them off any longer, and the Goths being unable to carry on the war against the two peoples. 8 Meanwhile the Gepaedes held the city of Sirmium10 and practically all the cities of Dacia, having taken possession of them at the moment the Emperor Justinian took them away from the Goths; and they  p441 not only enslaved the Romans of that region, but they were also constantly moving forward, plundering and doing violence to the Roman territory. 9 Consequently the emperor was no longer giving them the contributions which it had long been customary for them to receive from the Romans. 10 Now the Emperor Justinian had bestowed upon the Lombards the city of Noricum11 and the strongholds of Pannonia, as well as many other towns and a very great amount of money. 11 It was because of this that the Lombards departed from their ancestral homes and settled on the south side of the Ister River, not far from the Gepaedes. 12 They then, in their turn, plundered the population of Dalmatia and Illyricum as far as the boundaries of Epidamnus, taking captives; and since some of the captives escaped and succeeded in getting back to their homes, these barbarians, on the ground that they were at peace with the Romans, went about through the Roman domain, and whenever they recognized any of the escaped captives there, they laid hold of them as if they were their own slaves who had run away, and, dragging them from their parents, carried them off with them to their own homes, no one opposing them. 13 Other towns of Dacia also, about the city of Singidunum,12 had been taken over by the Eruli as a gift from the emperor, and here they are settled at the present time, overrunning and plundering Illyricum and the Thracian towns very generally. Some of them have even become Roman soldiers serving among the foederati,13 as they are  p443 called. 14 So whenever envoys of the Eruli are sent to Byzantium, representing the very men who are plundering Roman subjects, they collect all their contributions from the emperor without the least difficulty and carry them off home.

34 1 Thus had the barbarians apportioned the Roman empire among themselves. But later on the Gepaedes and the Lombards, having come to be neighbours, became exceedingly hostile toward one another. 2 And they were extremely enthusiastic in their desire to fight each other, so that each nation was eager to do battle with the enemy, and a fixed time had been determined upon for the encounter. 3 But the Lombards, thinking that they alone by their own strength would never be a match for the Gepaedes in battle (for they were, in fact, outnumbered by their enemy), decided to invite the Romans to an alliance. 4 Accordingly they sent envoys to the Emperor Justinian begging him to send them an army. And when the Gepaedes learned this, they too sent envoys to Byzantium to present the same request. Now the Gepaedes were ruled at that time by Thorisin, and the others by Audouin. 5 So the Emperor Justinian decided indeed to hear the statement of each of them, but he did not wish them  p445 to come at the same time, but to appear before him separately. 6 First the Lombards came into the emperor's presence and spoke as follows.

"We, for our part, have been astounded at the outrageous conduct of the Gepaedes, seeing that, although they have already perpetrated crimes both many and great against your realm, as we all know, they have now come before you to offer you, in fact, the greatest possible insult. 7 For they, and they only, can be said to put the utmost insult upon their neighbours, who imagine that these are so very easily deceived that they come to them with the intention of profiting by the simplicity of those very men whom they have already wronged. 8 Now we ask you to give careful consideration to one matter only, the question namely as to what attitude the Gepaedes assume toward their friends. For thus you could with the greatest certainty assure the welfare of the Roman empire, since men are always able to infer safely from previous events what the future will bring forth. 9 If now, it were true that the nation of the Gepaedes had displayed their ingratitude only to some other people, it would have been necessary for us to occupy much time with a long speech and to bring in testimony from outside, in striving to demonstrate the base character of the men; but as it is, we are enabled to choose an example near at hand from your own experience.

10 "This is what we would have you consider: the Goths formerly held the land of Dacia as a tributary province, while all the Gepaedes dwelt originally on the other side of the Ister, being in such mortal terror of the Gothic power, on the one hand, that  p447 they never succeeded in crossing the stream, or even attempting it, while they were, on the other hand, on terms of close alliance and friendship with the Romans, and every year they received from the former emperors many gifts in the name of friendship, and indeed they have received them from thee in no less generous measure. 11 We should be glad then to ask these gentlemen what good thing they have done for the Romans in return for these benefits. But they would not be able to mention one such thing, great or small. 12 Now as long as they had no means of doing you wrong, they remained quiet, not because of any conviction on their part, but because they were compelled by lack of opportunity to do so. 13 For you, on your part, did not seek to lay any claim to the country beyond the Ister, while the fear inspired by the Goths always frightened them from the land on this side. 14 But who indeed would call impotence gratitude? And what assurance of friendship could be based on inability to commit an offence? None, O Emperor, none; these things cannot be. For opportunity alone reveals the nature of a man, bringing out his character to the common gaze of all because of his freedom to act. 15 For behold, at the very moment the Gepaedes saw that the Goths had been driven from all Dacia, while you, on your part, were busily engaged in fighting your enemies, the cursed wretches have dared to trespass upon your land in every part.

16 "How could anyone adequately depict in words the outrageous nature of their action? Did they not heap contempt upon the Roman empire? Did they not break the bonds of both treaty and  p449 alliance? 17 Did they not insult those whom they would never have treated thus? Did they not do violence to an empire whose slaves they would crave the privilege of being should you find any leisure to deal with them? The Gepaedes, O Emperor, are holding Sirmium and enslaving Romans, and they make the boast that they are in possession of all Dacia. 18 Yet what war have they ever won fighting in your behalf, or with you, or against you? Or what struggle do they consider has brought them this land as a prize? And in spite of all this, they have often been in your pay and have been receiving their payments, as previously stated, for we know not how long a time. 19 And yet there has never been in all time an act more despicable than this present embassy of theirs. For as soon as they saw that we were eager to make war on them, they had the hardihood to come to Byzantium and appear before the emperor who has been so grievously insulted by them. 20 In sooth they will, perhaps, in their excess of shamelessness, invite you to form an alliance of arms against us who have been so favoured by you. 21 And verily if they have come with the purpose of giving back what they have usurped without any right, the Lombards should be counted by the Romans most responsible for that benefit, if they are really constrained through fear of them unwillingly to change their course and manifest gratitude late in the day. 22 For naturally he who creates the constraint will be thanked by him who receives the benefit. But if indeed they have decided even now to retreat from none of their usurped holdings, what could surpass such baseness?

 p451  23 "This then shall be our plea, expressed with barbarian simplicity, with scant words, and in no way worthily of the situation. 24 But we beg that thou, O Emperor, after carefully weighing what we have said less adequately than the facts deserve, take that course of action which will redound to the benefit both of the Romans and of the Lombards, thy people, calling to mind this, in addition to all other considerations, that while the Romans will justly take sides with us, seeing that we have been in agreement from the first as regards religion, they will stand in opposition to our opponents for the simple reason that they are Arians."

25 Thus spoke the Lombards. On the following day the envoys of the Gepaedes in turn came before the emperor and spoke as follows: "It may fairly be expected, O Emperor, that those who approach a neighbouring state with a request to form an alliance of arms, should first demonstrate that they have come with a just request and with proposals of advantage to those who are to form the alliance, and then speak on the matters of which they have come to treat. 26 In the first place, then, that we have been wronged by the Lombards is evident from the facts themselves; for we are eager to settle our difficulties by arbitration, 27 and those who are bent on arbitration can have nothing to do with violence. 28 In the second place, why should one, in order to prove that the Gepaedes are far superior to the Lombards both in multitude and in valour, address long speeches to those who know? 29 Now the policy of entering a conflict on the side of the weaker contestant and thus getting into an evil plight which has been foreseen, though the  p453 opportunity is offered of having the victory without danger by arraying oneself with the more powerful contestant, is not one, we think, which any men gifted with even a little discretion would choose. 30 Consequently you also will find, when you go forth against another enemy, that the Gepaedes hereafter will array themselves with you, thus paying a debt of gratitude for what you have done, and by their overwhelming power helping you in all probability to achieve the overmastery of your foes. 31 Furthermore, it would be in point for you to consider this fact also, that while the Lombards have become friends of the Romans on the spur of the moment, the Gepaedes have been in alliance with you and well known to you from ancient times. 32 And friendship cemented by long continuance is not easily dissolved. Consequently you will acquire not only powerful, but also steadfast, allies. 33 These, then, are the just grounds on the basis of which we invite you to form this alliance.

"Now observe what manner of men the Lombards are. 34 At first they absolutely refused to settle our differences by arbitration, though we invited them repeatedly to do so, overcome, as they were, by unreasoning boldness. But now that the war has come almost to an actual engagement, they, making a tardy retreat from their position because they realize fully their own weakness, have come to you, asking the Romans to take up the unjust struggle in their behalf. 35 Doubtless these thieves bring up the case of Sirmium and a few other towns in Dacia, and put this forward as a pretext on which you may  p455 enter this war. 36 And yet thy empire comprises such an overabundance both of cities and of lands that thou art actually searching for men upon whom thou couldst confer some part of it for their habitation. 37 Indeed thou hast bestowed upon the Franks and the nation of the Eruli and these Lombards such generous gifts of both cities and lands, O Emperor, that no one could enumerate them all. 38 But we, emboldened by thy friendship, have accomplished that which thou didst wish, and truly, when a man has formed the purpose of parting with some one of his possessions, he thinks far less highly of one who waits to receive his gift than of one who anticipates his purpose and takes the gift by his own decision, provided such an one does not appear to have claimed the right to take this course in a spirit of insolence toward the possessor, but in a spirit of confidence in the strong friendship he feels toward him; and this is exactly the attitude of the Gepaedes toward the Romans. 39 We ask you, then, to recall these things and, probably, to observe the terms of our alliance by throwing all your strength into the conflict on our side against the Lombards; otherwise, to stand aside for both. For in reaching such a decision you are accepting with justice and greatly to the advantage of the Roman empire."

40 Such was the speech of the Gepaedes, whom the Emperor Justinian, after long deliberation, decided to send away with their mission unaccomplished; but he made a sworn alliance of arms with the Lombards, and then sent them more than ten thousand horsemen commanded by Constantianus, Bouzes, and Aratius. 41 Associated with them also was John the nephew of Vitalian, who had received  p457 previous instructions from the emperor that, as soon as they should fight a decisive battle with the nation of the Gepaedes, he should hasten thence to Italy with his troops. For he, too, as it happened, had returned from Italy. 42 They also took with them as allies fifteen hundred Eruli, commanded by Philemuth and others. 43 For, except for these, the whole nation of the Eruli, to the number of three thousand, were arrayed with the Gepaedes, since they had revolted from the Romans not long before for a cause which I have set forth above.14

44 Now a detachment of the Romans who were marching to join the Lombards as allies unexpectedly chanced upon some of the Eruli with Aordus, the brother of their ruler. 45 And a fierce battle ensued in which the Romans were victorious, and they slew both Aordus and many of the Eruli. Then the Gepaedes, upon learning that the Roman army was close at hand, straightway settled their disagreement with the Lombards, and so these barbarians made a treaty of peace with each other, contrary to the will of the Romans. 46 When the Roman army learned this, they found themselves involved in a very perplexing situation. For neither were they able to continue their advance nor could they retrace their steps, because the generals feared lest both Gepaedes and Eruli would overrun and plunder the land of Illyricum. 47 At any rate, they remained there and reported their situation to the emperor. Such was the course of these events. But I shall return to the point in my narrative from which I strayed.15

 p459  35 1 The journey of Belisarius to Byzantium was an inglorious one; for five years he had not disembarked anywhere on the soil of Italy, nor had he succeeded in making a single march there by land, but he had been obliged to conceal himself by flight during the whole time, always sailing without interruption from one fortified coast-town to some other stronghold along the shore. 2 As a result of this the enemy, having now little to fear, had enslaved Rome and everything else, practically speaking. It was on this occasion also that he abandoned Perusia, the leading city of Tuscany, though it was very closely besieged; indeed it was captured by storm while he was still on his way. 3 After reaching Byzantium he took up a permanent residence there, having now amassed a great fortune and being greatly admired because of his earlier successes, just as the Deity had foretold to him by an unmistakable sign before he made the expedition to Libya.

4 Now the sign was as follows. Belisarius had an inherited property in the suburb of Byzantium which is called Panteichion,16 and is situated on the opposite mainland. On this property, shortly before the time when Belisarius was about to lead the Roman army against Gelimer and Libya, it so happened that his vines bore a great abundance of grapes.  p461 5 And with the wine thus produced his servants had filled a great quantity of jars, which they placed in the wine-cellar, burying the lower part of them in the earth and smearing the upper part carefully with clay. 6 But eight months later the wine in some jars, as it began to ferment, burst the clay with which each of them had been sealed; then it ran over the tops of the jars and, flowing copiously, covered the ground around with such a flood that it actually formed a great pool on the floor there. 7 When the servants saw this, they were filled with amazement; and they were able to fill many amphoras from it, after which they again stopped up those same jars with clay and remained silent about the matter. 8 But when they had seen this happen many times at about the same date, they did report the matter to their master, and he, for his part, gathered many of his friends there and displayed the phenomenon; whereupon they foretold that many blessings would fall upon that house, basing their conclusion upon this sign.

9 Such was the fortune of Belisarius. But Vigilius, the chief priest of Rome, together with the Italians who were In the city at that time (and there were many very notable men there), was giving the emperor no respite from his entreaty to stand forth with all his power as champion of Italy. 10 But Justinian was influenced most of all by Gothigus, a man of patrician rank who had long before this time risen to the dignity of the consular office; for he, too, had recently come to Byzantium for this very purpose. 11 Now although the emperor did promise to concern  p463 himself personally with Italy, still he was devoting his time for the most part to the doctrines of the Christians, seeking eagerly and with great determination to make a satisfactory settlement of the questions disputed among them.

12 Such was the situation in Byzantium. Meanwhile one of the Lombards had fled to the Gepaedes for the following reason. 13 When Vaces was ruler of the Lombards, he had a nephew named Ristulfus, who, according to the law, would be called to the royal power whenever Vaces should die. 14 So Vaces, seeking to make provision that the kingdom should be conferred upon his own son, brought an unjustified accusation against Ristulfus and penalized the man with banishment. 15 He then departed from his home with a few friends and fled immediately to the Varni, leaving behind him two children. 16 But Vaces bribed these barbarians to kill Ristulfus. As for the children of Ristulfus, one of them died of disease, while the other, Ildiges by name, fled to the Sclaveni.

17 Now not long after this Vaces fell sick and passed from the world, and the rule of the Lombards fell to Valdarus, the son of Vaces. But whence he was very young, Audouin was appointed regent over him and administered the government. 18 And since he possessed great power as a result of this, he himself seized the rule after no long time, the child having immediately passed from the world by a natural death. 19 Now when the war arose between the Gepaedes and the Lombards, as already told, Ildiges went straight to the Gepaedes taking with him not only those of the Lombards who had followed him,  p465 but also many of the Sclaveni, and the Gepaedes were in hopes of restoring him to the kingdom. 20 But on account of the treaty which had now been made with the Lombards, Audouin straightway requested the Gepaedes, as friends, to surrender Ildiges; they, however, refused absolutely to give up the man, but they did order him to depart from their country and save himself wherever he wished. 21 He, then, without delay, took with him his followers and some volunteers of the Gepaedes and came back to the Sclaveni. 22 And departing from there, he went to join Totila and the Goths, having with him an army of not less than six thousand men. Upon his arrival in Venetia, he encountered some Romans commanded by Lazarus, and engaging with them he routed the force and killed many. He did not, however, unite with the Goths, but recrossed the river Ister and withdrew once more to the Sclaveni.

23 While these events were taking place in the manner described, one of the guardsmen of Belisarius, Indulf by name and of barbarian birth, a passionate and energetic fellow, who had been left in Italy, went over to Totila and the Goths for no good reason. 24 And Totila straightway sent him with a large army and a fleet to Dalmatia. 25 So he came to the place called Mouicurum, which is a coast town situated very near Salones, and at first, being a Roman and a member of Belisarius' suite, he mingled with the people of the town; then however he raised his own sword, urged his followers to do the same, and suddenly killed them all. 26 Then, taking all the valuables as plunder, he departed from  p467 there and descended upon another fortress situated on the coast, which the Romans call Laureate. 27 Here he entered the town and slew those who fell in his way.

When Claudian, who was commander of Salones at that time, learned this, he sent an army against him on dromones,17 as they are called. 28 And when this force reached Laureate, they engaged with the enemy. But they were overwhelmingly defeated in the battle and took to flight, wherever each man could, abandoning their ships in the harbour. And it so happened that the other boats were there laden with grain and other provisions. 29 All these Indulf and the Goths captured, and, after killing all whom they met and making plunder of the valuables, they returned to Totila. 30 And the winter drew to a close and the fourteenth year ended in this war, the history of which Procopius has written.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Since April 1, 527 A.D.

2 Cf.  Book IV.xxviii.29.

3 Cf.  Book IV.xxviii.45.

4 Private bands of troops under the leadership of condottieri. See Book III.xi.2, note.

5 i.e. in order to obtain their testimony.

6 Book V.xiii.15 ff.

7 i.e. the Germans.

8 Modern Marseille.

9 Modern Arles.

10 Modern Mitrovitza.

11 Probably Norcia in the province of Noricum; modern Neumarkt.

12 Modern Belgrade.

13 Cf. chap. xxxi.10, note; Book III.xi.2, note.

14 Cf. Book VI.xiv.37.

15 The digression begins with chap. xxxi.

16 Modern Pendik, on the Asiatic shore.

Thayer's Note: The name (pan-teichion = "all-walled") makes me think of what is now called in the United States a "gated community", that is, a development inhabited by rich people who have found it advantageous to surround it by a wall and maybe other security dispositions. That Belisarius should live in such a place is be expected. We might go further and translate the name as "security compound", but Procopius' wording suggests that Belisarius' property — which must surely have qualified as a security compound — was only one of a number of properties in Panteichion; in sum, we can visualize the general living in a double ring of security.

17 Swift ships.


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