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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Wars


published in the Loeb Classical Library,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
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(Vol. V) Procopius

Book VIII (continued)

 p303  24 1 At about the same time Roman affairs stood as follows in Sicily. Liberius had been summoned from there by the emperor and had gone to Byzantium, while Artabanes, for thus the emperor had decided, commanded the whole Roman army in Sicily. 2 He had laid siege to those Goths who had been left in the fortresses of the island, a very small number indeed, and whenever they made sallies he had defeated them in battle and had reduced them to a state of absolute destitution as regards the necessities of life, and finally he had taken them all by surrender. 3 At this the Goths became fearful, being deeply moved by the outcome of the naval battle, so that they were beginning to despair of the war, having by now become utterly hopeless; for they reasoned that even in the existing circumstances they had been shamefully defeated by their enemy and completely demoralized, and if assistance should come to the Romans, even in small measure, they would be unable by any means to hold out against them even for the least space of time or to keep a foothold in Italy. Nor indeed had they any hope of accomplishing anything by negotiation with the emperor. 4 For Totila had, as it happened, sent envoys to him often. These envoys had indeed come before Justinian and explained that the Franks had occupied the greater part of  p305 Italy, while the rest of it had become for the most part deserted on account of the war; yet the Goths were willing to retire in favour of the Romans from Sicily and Dalmatia, which alone had remained intact, and agreed to pay tribute and taxes for the abandoned land every year and would fight as allies against whomsoever the emperor should wish and would be in other respects subject to him. 5 But the emperor would pay no attention to what they said and dismissed the envoys one and all, hating as he did the Gothic name and intending to drive it out absolutely from the Roman domain. Thus then did these events take place.

6 But Theudibert, the ruler of the Franks, had not long before been taken from the world by disease, having without justification made some parts of Liguria and the Cottian Alps and the most of Venetia subject to the payment of tribute. 7 For the Franks had treated the preoccupation of the warring nations as their own opportunity, and without danger were enriching themselves with the lands for which the combatants were fighting. 8 And the Goths indeed had a few fortresses left in Venetia, while the Romans held the coast towns; but the Franks had brought all the others under their sway. 9 Now while the Romans and the Goths were waging this war against each other as I have described it and were unable to take on new enemies in addition, the Goths and the Franks had negotiated with each other and come to an agreement that, as long as the Goths were waging war against the Romans, both of them should remain  p307 quiet holding what they had secured and there should be no hostilities between them. 10 But if indeed Totila should ever have the fortune to overcome Justinian in the war, the Goths and the Franks should at such time settle these matters in such a way as should seem likely to benefit both of them. So much for this agreement. 11 But Theudibert was succeeded by his son Theudibald. And the emperor sent Leontius, the son-in‑law of Athanasius, a member of the senate, as envoy to him, inviting him to an offensive alliance against Totila and the Goths and demanding that he withdraw from the parts of Italy on which Theudibert had set his mind wrongfully to trespass.

12 Now Leontius, upon coming before Theudibald, spoke as follows. "It may perhaps be true that on other occasions events have gone contrary to the expectations of men, but such a thing as has been done to the Romans in the present case by you has, I think, never happened to anyone else in the world. 13 For the Emperor Justinian, on his part, did not enter into this war, nor did he let it appear that he was about to fight the Goths, until the Franks, in the name of alliance and friendship, had received from him great sums of money and agreed to assist him in the struggle. 14 They, however, have not only seen fit to fulfil none of their promises, but they have further wronged the Romans in a way which no one could have easily imagined. 15 For your father Theudibert undertook to trespass upon territory to which he had no just claim and which the emperor  p309 had mastered with great labour by the perils of war, and that too while all the Franks were standing out of the way. 16 Consequently I now come to you, not to reproach you or lay charges against you, but in order to make demands and to counsel you as to what will be of advantage to you yourselves. 17 I say, then, that you, on the one hand, should preserve the prosperity which you now enjoy, and allow the Romans, on the other hand, to have that which is their own; 18 for when a nation is possessed of great power, the unholy acquisition of even some trifling thing has many a time been of sufficient moment to rob it of the advantages it has enjoyed from of old, since prosperity is by no means wont to associate itself with injustice; and I demand, furthermore, that you join with us in carrying on the war against Totila, thus fulfilling your father's agreement. 19 For the conduct which above all others would become true-born sons is this — to correct whatever mistakes have been made by their parents, but to continue and confirm whatever deeds of excellence they have done. 20 Indeed this would be a thing most ardently prayed for by the most understanding of men, that their children might emulate the best of their activities, and that whatever has not been well done by them should be corrected by no one else than their children. 21 In fact you ought to have taken up this war with the Romans unsummoned. For our struggle is against the Goths, who have been from the being bitter enemies of the Franks and altogether untrustworthy toward them, waging  p311 a truceless and implacable​1 war upon them through all the ages. 22 Of course they do not hesitate now, through fear of us, to adopt a wheedling air toward you; but if ever they should get rid of us, they will at no distant time display their real attitude toward the Franks. 23 For evil men cannot change their character either in prosperity or in adversity, though it is true as a general thing that, during periods of ill fortune, they are wont to conceal it, particularly when they need something from their neighbours, their need compelling them to cover up their baseness of heart. 24 Call to mind then these things and renew, on the one hand, your friendship with the emperor, and defend yourselves, on the other hand, against your ancient enemies with all your power."

25 So spoke Leontius. And Theudibald replied as follows: "You summon us, in the first place, to be allies against the Goths contrary to rectitude and justice; for it so happens that the Goths at the present time are our friends. And if the Franks should be unfaithful to them, neither will they ever be faithful to you. 26 For men whose sentiments have once been seen to be base toward their friends are always of such a nature as to turn aside from the path of justice. And, in the second place, as to the lands you have mentioned, we shall say only this — that my father Theudibert never set his mind upon doing violence to any one of his neighbours or usurping the possessions of others. 27 In proof of this witness the fact that I am not rich. Consequently he did not acquire these lands by robbing the Romans of them, but he took possession of them as a gift from Totila, who already held them and expressly  p313 handed them over to him, and upon this the Emperor Justinian should certainly have congratulated the Franks. 28 For he who sees men who have robbed him of some of his private possessions roughly handled by any others would naturally rejoice, believing that those who wronged him have rightly and justly paid the penalty, except in case he be privately envious of those who have done the violence — for men feel that the appropriation by others of property which is claimed by an enemy tends, as a general thing, to envy. 29 We are, however, able to leave to arbiters the decision of these matters, with the understanding that, if it becomes evident that my father robbed the Romans of anything, it shall be obligatory for us to restore this without delay. And envoys will be sent to Byzantium by us in regard to this matter not long hence." 30 With which words he dismissed Leontius and despatched Leudardus, a Frank, with three others to the Emperor Justinian. And upon their arrival at Byzantium they treated of the matters for which they had come.

31 Totila was now eager to seize the islands which belong to Libya. He accordingly gathered a fleet of ships immediately and, putting an adequate army on board, sent it to Corsica and Sardinia. 32 This fleet first sailed off to Corsica and, finding no defenders, took the island, and afterwards took possession of Sardinia likewise. 33 And Totila made both these  p315 islands subject to the payment of tribute. But when this was learned by John, who was commanding the Roman army in Libya, he sent a fleet of ships and a strong force of soldiers to Sardinia. 34 And when they came close to the city of Caranalis, they made camp with the purpose of instituting a siege; for they did not consider themselves able to storm the wall, since the Goths had a sufficient garrison there. 35 But when the barbarians learned this, they made a sally against them from the city, and falling suddenly upon their enemy routed them with no difficulty and slew many. 36 And the rest saved themselves for the moment by fleeing to the ships, but a little later they cast off from there and went to Carthage with the whole fleet. 37 There they remained through the winter, in order that at the opening of spring they might again make an expedition to Corsica and Sardinia with fuller preparation. Now this island of Sardinia was formerly called Sardo. 38 In that place there grows a certain herb such that, if men taste of it, a fatal convulsion immediately comes over them, and they die not long afterward, having the appearance of laughing, as it were, as a result of the convulsion, this laughter they call "Sardonic" from the name of the place. 39 But Corsica was called by men of ancient times Cyrnus. On that island are found apes just like men, and there is also a breed of horses only a little larger than sheep. So much for this.

 p317  25 1 A great throng of Sclaveni now descended upon Illyricum and inflicted sufferings there not easily described. And the Emperor Justinian sent an army against them commanded by the sons of Germanus with others. 2 But since this army was far outnumbered by the enemy, it was quite unable to engage with them, but remained always in the rear and cut down the stragglers left by the barbarians. 3 And they slew many of them but took some few prisoners, whom they sent to the emperor. But nevertheless these barbarians continued their work of devastation. 4 And spending as they did a long time in this plundering expedition, they filled all the roads with corpses, and enslaved countless multitudes and pillaged everything without meeting any opposition; then finally they departed on the homeward journey with all their plunder. 5 Nor could the Romans ambuscade them while crossing the Ister River or harm them in any other way, since the Gepaedes, having engaged their services, took them under their protection and ferried them across, receiving large payment for their labour. For the payment was at the rate of one gold stater per head. 6 At this the emperor was grievously vexed, seeing that for the future he had no possible means of checking the barbarians when crossing the Ister River to plunder the Roman domain, or when taking their departure from such expeditions with the booty they gained, and he wished for these reasons to enter into some sort of treaty with the nation of the Gepaedes.

 p319  7 Meanwhile the Gepaedes and the Lombards were once more moving against each other determined to make war. But the Gepaedes, fearing the power of the Romans (for they had by no means failed to hear that the Emperor Justinian had made a sworn alliance for offence and defence with the Lombards), were eager to become friends and allies of the Romans. 8 They accordingly straightway sent envoys to Byzantium inviting the emperor to accept an offensive and defensive alliance with them also. So he without any hesitation gave them the pledges of alliance. 9 And at the request of the same envoys twelve members of the senate also furnished them with a sworn statement confirming this treaty. 10 But not long after this, when the Lombards according to the terms of their alliance requested an army to fight with them against the Gepaedes, the Emperor Justinian sent it, laying the charge against the Gepaedes that after the treaty they had transported certain of the Sclaveni across the Ister River to the detriment of the Romans.

11 Now the leaders of this army were, first, Justinus and Justinian, the sons of Germanus; second, Aratius; third, Suartuas, who had previously been appointed by Justinian ruler over the Eruli (but when those who had come from the island of Thule rose against him, as told by me in the previous narrative,​2 he had returned in flight to the emperor, and immediately become general of the Roman forces in Byzantium); and, lastly, Amalafridas, a Goth, grandson of Amalafrida the sister of Theoderic  p321 king of the Goths, and son of Hermenefridus the former ruler of the Thuringians. 12 This man had been brought by Belisarius to Byzantium with Vittigis, and the emperor had appointed him a Roman commander and betrothed his sister to Auduin the ruler of the Lombards. 13 But not a man of that army reached the Lombards except this Amalafridas with his command. For the others, by direction of the emperor, stopped at the city of Ulpiana​3 in Illyricum, since a civil war had arisen among the inhabitants of that place concerning those matters over which the Christians fight among themselves, as will be told by me in the treatise on this subject.4

14 So the Lombards in full force and accompanied by Amalafridas came into the lands of the Gepaedes, and when the Gepaedes encountered them a fierce battle ensued in which the Gepaedes were defeated, and they say that a vast number of them perished in this engagement. 15 Whereupon Auduin, the king of the Lombards, sent some of his followers to Byzantium, first to announce the good news to the Emperor Justinian, since the enemy had been vanquished, and, secondly, to reproach him because the emperor's army had not been present in accordance with the terms of their alliance, although such a host of Lombards had recently been sent to march with Narses against Totila and the Goths. Such was the course of these events.

 p323  16 It was at this time that extraordinary earthquakes occurred throughout Greece, both Boeotia and Achaea and the country on the Crisaean Gulf​5 being badly shaken. 17 And countless towns and eight cities were levelled to the ground, among which were Chaeronea and Coronea and Patrae and all of Naupactus,​6 where there was also great loss of life. 18 And the earth was rent asunder in many places and formed chasms. Now some of these openings came together again so that the earth presented the same form and appearance as before, but in other places they remained open, with the consequence that the people in such places are not able to intermingle with each other except by making use of many detours. 19 But in the gulf between Thessaly and Boeotia​7 there was a sudden influx of the sea at the city called Echinus and at Scarphea in Boeotia. 20 And advancing far over the land it deluged the towns there and levelled them immediately. And for a long time the sea thus visited the mainland, so that for a very considerable period it was possible for men on foot to walk to the islands which are inside the gulf, since the water of the sea, obviously, had abandoned its proper place, and, strange to say, spread over the land as far as the mountains which rise there. 21 But when the sea returned to its proper place, fish were left on the ground, and since their appearance was altogether unfamiliar to the people of the country, they seemed a kind of prodigy. 22 And thinking them edible they picked them up to  p325 boil them, but when the heat of the fire touched them the whole body was reduced to a liquid putrefaction of an unbearable sort. 23 But in that locality where the so‑called Cleft is located there was a tremendous earthquake which caused more loss of life than in all the rest of Greece, particularly on account of a certain festival which they happened to be celebrating there and for which many had gathered in that place from all Greece.

24 In Italy the following took place. The people of Croton and the soldiers who constituted the garrison there, commanded by Palladius, were being very closely besieged by the Goths; and hard pressed as they were by scarcity of provisions, they had many times sent to Sicily without being detected by the enemy, calling to witness the commanders of the Roman army there, especially Artabanes, and saying that, 25 if they did not relieve them at the earliest possible moment, they would, little as they wished it, surrender themselves and the city to the enemy not long thereafter. But no one came from there to assist them. And the winter drew to a close, and the seventeenth year ended in this war, the history of which Procopius has written.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Lit. "unheralded"; cf. Demosthenes, De Corona 262, ἄσπονδος καὶ ἀκήρυκτος πόλεμος.

2 Book VI.xv.32‑26.

3 Modern Lipljan.

4 This promise seems not to have been fulfilled by Procopius.

5 A northern arm of the Gulf of Corinth.

6 Modern Lepanto.

Thayer's Note: The ancient name was gradually revived during the 19c; the strict modern transliteration is Nafpaktos.

7 The Maliac Gulf.

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Page updated: 14 Sep 20