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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.

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(Vol. V) Procopius

Book VIII (end)

 p389  33 1 Narses was overjoyed at the outcome and ceased not attributing everything to God, an opinion which was indeed true; and he proceeded to arrange all urgent matters. 2 And first of all he was eager to be rid of the outrageous behaviour of the Lombards under his command, for in addition to the general lawlessness of their conduct, they kept setting fire to whatever buildings they chanced upon and violating by force the women who had taken refuge in the sanctuaries. He accordingly propitiated them by a large gift of money and so released them to go to their homes,  p391 commanding Valerian and Damianus, his nephew, with their commands to escort them on the march as far as the Roman boundary, so that they might harm no one on the return journey. 3 And after the Lombards had departed from Roman territory, Valerian went into camp near the city of Verona, intending to besiege it and win it for the emperor. 4 But the garrison of this city became frightened and opened negotiations with Valerian, with the purpose of making a conditional surrender of themselves and the city. 5 When this was learned by the Franks who were keeping guard in the towns of Venetia, they tried with all eagerness to prevent it, claiming the right to take charge of the land as belonging to themselves. And as a result of this, having accomplished nothing, Valerian retired from there with his whole army.

6 As for the Goths who had saved themselves by fleeing from the battle, they crossed the Po River and occupied the city of Ticinum and the adjacent country, appointing Teïas as ruler over them. 7 And he found all the money which Totila had deposited in Ticinum, and was purposing to draw the Franks into an alliance; he also began to organize and put in order the Goths as well as circumstances permitted, eagerly gathering them all about him. 8 When Narses heard this, he ordered Valerian with all his force to maintain a guard near the Po River so that the Goths might not be at liberty to assemble freely, while he himself with all the rest of the army marched against Rome. 9 And when he came into Tuscany, he took Narnia by surrender and left  p393 a garrison at Spolitium, which was then without walls, instructing them to rebuild as quickly as possible such parts of the fortifications as the Goths had torn down. 10 And he also sent some men to make trial of the garrison in Perusia. Now the garrison of Perusia was commanded by two Romans who had become deserters, Meligedius and Ulifus; the latter had formerly been a bodyguard of Cyprian, but had been won over by the large promises made to him by Totila and had treacherously killed Cyprian who then commanded the garrison of that place. 11 Now Meligedius was for accepting the proposals of Narses and was planning with the men under his command to hand the city over to the Romans, but the party of Ulifus perceived what was going on and banded together openly against them. 12 In the fight that followed Ulifus was destroyed together with those who thought as he did, and Meligedius immediately surrendered Perusia to the Romans. And Ulifus obviously suffered retribution from Heaven in being destroyed at the very place where he himself had murdered Cyprian. Such was the course of these events.

13 But the Goths who were keeping guard in Rome, upon learning that Narses and the Roman army were coming against them and were now very near, made preparations to offer the strongest resistance possible. 14 Now it happened that Totila had burned many buildings of the city when he captured it for the first time. . . . But finally, reasoning that the Goths, reduced as they were to a small number,  p395 were no longer able to guard the whole circuit of the wall of Rome, he enclosed a small part of the city with a short wall around the Tomb of Hadrian and, by connecting this with the earlier wall, he made a kind of fortress. 15 There the Goths had deposited their most precious possessions and they were keeping a careful guard over this fortress, disregarding the rest of the city wall which lay neglected. 16 So on this occasion they left a few of their number as guards over this place while all the rest took their stand all along the battlements of the city wall, because they were eager to test their opponents' skill in attacking walls.

17 Now the whole circuit-wall of Rome was so extraordinarily long that neither could the Romans encompass it in their attack nor the Goths guard it. 18 So the Romans scattered here and there at random and began to make their attacks, while the others defended themselves as well as circumstances permitted. Thus, Narses brought up a great force of archers and delivered an attack on a certain portion of the fortifications, while John the nephew of Vitalian was making an assault with his command at another point. 19 Meanwhile Philemuth and the Eruli were harassing another section, and the rest followed at a great distance from them. Indeed, all were fighting at the wall with very considerable intervals between them. 20 And the barbarians gathered at the points of attack and were receiving the assault. But the other parts of the fortifications, where there was no attack being made by the Romans, were altogether destitute of men, all the Goths being gathered, as I have said, wherever the enemy were attacking. 21 In this situation Narses  p397 directed Dagisthaeus to take a large number of soldiers and the standards of both Narses and John, and, equipped with a large number of ladders, to make a sudden assault upon a certain part of the fortifications which was altogether destitute of guards. 22 So he immediately placed all the ladders against the wall without any opposition, and with no trouble got inside the fortifications with his followers, and they opened the gates at their leisure. 23 This was immediately discovered by the Goths, who no longer thought of resistance but began to flee, every man of them, wherever each one could. And some of them rushed into the fortress, while others went off on the run to Portus.

24 At this point in the narrative it occurs to me to comment on the manner in which Fortune makes sport of human affairs, not always visiting men in the same manner nor regarding them with uniform glance, but changing about with the changes of time and place; and she plays a kind of game with them, shifting the value of the poor wretches according to the variations of time, place, or circumstance, seeing that Bessas, the man who had previously lost Rome, not long afterward recovered Petra in Lazica for the Romans, and that Dagisthaeus, on the contrary, who had let Petra go to the enemy, won back Rome for the emperor in a moment of time. 25 But these things have been happening from the beginning and will always be as long as the same fortune rules over men. Narses now advanced against the fortress with his whole army in warlike array. 26 But the barbarians became  p399 terrified, and, upon receiving pledges for their lives, surrendered both themselves and the fortress with all speed, in the twenty-sixth year of the reign of the Emperor Justinian. 27 Thus Rome was captured for the fifth time during his reign; and Narses immediately sent the keys of its gates to the emperor.

34 1 At that time it was shown to the world with the greatest clearness that in the case of all men who have been doomed to suffer ill, even those things which seem to be blessings turn out for their destruction, and even when they have fared as they wish they are, it may be, destroyed together with this same prosperity. 2 For this victory turned out to be for the Roman senate and people a cause of far greater destruction, in the following manner. 3 The Goths, on the one hand, as by their flight they abandoned the dominion of Italy, made it an incident of their progress to destroy without mercy the Romans who fell in their way. 4 And the barbarians of the Roman army, on the other hand, treated as enemies all whom they chanced upon as they entered the city. 5 Furthermore, this too befell them. Many of the members of the senate, by decision of Totila, had been remaining previously in the towns of Campania. 6 And some of them, upon learning that Rome was held by the emperor's army, departed from Campania and went thither. But when this was learned by the Goths who happened to be in the  p401 fortresses there, they searched the whole country and killed all the patricians. Among these was Maximus, whom I have mentioned in the preceding narrative.​1 7 It happened also that Totila, when he went from there to encounter Narses, had gathered the children of the notable Romans from each city and selected about three hundred of them whom he considered particularly fine in appearance, telling their parents that they were to live with him, though in reality they were to be hostages to him. 8 And at that time Totila merely commanded that they should be north of the Po River, but now Teïas found and killed them all.

9 Now Ragnaris, a Goth, who commanded the garrison at Tarentum, had received pledges from Pacurius at the emperor's wish and agreed that he would submit to the Romans, as previously stated,​2 and had furnished six Goths as hostages to the Romans to make this agreement binding; but upon hearing that Teïas had become king over the Goths and had invited the Franks to an alliance and wished to engage with the enemy with his whole army, he reversed his purpose completely and refused absolutely to fulfil his agreement. 10 But he was eager and determined to get back the hostages, and so devised the following plan. He sent to Pacurius with the request that a few Roman soldiers be sent him in order that it might be possible for his men with safety to go to Dryus​3 and from there to cross the Ionian Gulf and make their way to  p403 Byzantium. 11 So Pacurius, being utterly ignorant of the man's purposes, sent him fifty of his men. 12 And when Ragnaris had received them in the fortress, he immediately put them into confinement and sent word to Pacurius that, if it was his wish to recover his own soldiers, he would be obliged to surrender the Gothic hostages. 13 But when Pacurius heard this, he left a few men to keep guard over Dryus, and immediately marched with all the rest of his army against the enemy. 14 Thereupon Ragnaris killed the fifty men immediately, and then led forth the Goths from Tarentum to encounter his enemy. And when they engaged with each other, the Goths were defeated. 15 Whereupon Ragnaris, having lost great numbers there, set off in flight with the remnant. However, he was quite unable to get back into Tarentum, since the Romans surrounded it on every side, but he went to Acherontis and remained there. 16 Thus, then, did these things happen. And not long afterwards the Romans took Portus by surrender after besieging the place, and likewise a fortress in Tuscany which they call Nepa,​4 as well as the stronghold of Petra Pertusa, as it is called.

17 Meanwhile Teïas, considering the Goths by themselves not a match for the Roman army, sent to Theudibald, the ruler of the Franks, offering a large sum of money and inviting him to an alliance. 18 The Franks, however, out of regard for their own interests, I suppose, wished to die for the benefit neither  p405 of Goths nor Romans, but were eager, rather, to acquire Italy for themselves, and only to attain this were they willing to undergo the perils of war. 19 Now it so happened that, while Totila had deposited some of his money in Ticinum, as previously stated,​5 he had placed the most of it in an exceedingly strong fortress at Cumae, which is in Campania, and he had set guards over this place, appointing as their commander his own brother with Herodian. 20 Narses, then, wishing to capture this garrison, sent some men to Cumae to besiege the fortress, while he himself remained at Rome, putting it in order. And he sent another force with orders to besiege Centumcellae. 21 Teïas then became fearful concerning the guards in Cumae and the money, and despairing of his hope of the Franks, he put his forces in array, intending to engage with his enemy.

22 But when Narses perceived this, he ordered John the nephew of Vitalian and Philemuth to proceed with his own army into the province of Tuscany, in order to take up a position there and check the march of his opponents to Campania, in order that the force besieging Cumae might be able without fear of molestation to capture it either by storm or by surrender. 23 But Teïas, leaving the most direct roads very far on his right, took many very long detours, passing along the coast of the Ionian Gulf, and so reached Campania, having eluded his enemy  p407 entirely. 24 And when Narses learned this, he summoned the forces of John and Philemuth, who were guarding the road through Tuscany, called back Valerian, who was just capturing Petra Pertusa, as it is called, with his men, collected his forces, and himself with his whole army marched into Campania arrayed as for battle.

35 1 Now there is a mountain called Vesuvius in Campania, which I have mentioned in the previous narrative,​6 remarking that it often gives forth a sound like bellowing. And whenever this occurs, the mountain also belches forth a great quantity of hot ashes. So much was said at that point in my narrative. 2 Now the centre of this mountain, just as is the case with Aetna in Sicily, is a natural cavity extending from its base to its peak, and it is at the bottom of this cavity that the fire burns continually. 3 And to such a depth does this cavity descend that, when a man stands on the summit of the mountain and dares to look over the edge from there, the flames are not easily visible. 4 And whenever it comes about that this mountain belches forth the ashes, as stated above, the flames also tear out rocks from the bottom of Vesuvius and hurl them into the air above the summit of this mountain, some of them small, but some exceedingly large, and thus shooting them forth from there it scatters them wherever they chance to fall. 5 And a stream of fire also flows from  p409 the peak extending from the summit to the very base of the mountain and even further, resembling in all respects the phenomenon which is observed at Mt. Aetna. 6 And the stream of fire forms high banks on either side in cutting out its bed. Now as the flame is carried along in the channel it at first resembles a flow of burning water; but as soon as the flame is quenched, the course of the stream is checked immediately and the flow proceeds no further, and the sediment of this fire appears as mud resembling ashes.

7 At the very base of this Mt. Vesuvius there are springs of water fit to drink, and a river named Dracon proceeds from them which passes very near the city of Nuceria.​7 And it was at this river that the two armies then made camp, one on one side and the other on the other. 8 Now while this Dracon is a small stream, it still cannot be crossed either by horsemen or infantry, because, as it flows in a narrow channel and cuts into the earth to a great depth, it makes the banks on both sides overhanging as it were. 9 But whether the cause is to be found in the nature of the soil or of the water, I cannot decide. Now the Goths had seized the bridge over the river, since they had encamped very near it, and placing wooden towers upon it they had mounted various engines in them, among them those called ballistae,​8 in order that they might be able to shoot from the tower down upon the heads of such of their enemy as harassed them. 10  It was consequently impossible  p411 for a hand-to‑hand engagement to take place, since the river, as I have said, lay between; but both armies came as close as possible along the banks of the stream, and for the most part used only bows against each other. 11 Some single encounters also took place, when some Goth on occasion, in answer to a challenge, crossed the bridge. And two months' time was spent by the armies in this way. 12 Now as long as the Goths controlled that part of the sea, they maintained themselves by bringing in provisions by ship, since they were encamped not far from the shore. 13 But later on the Romans captured the enemy's boats by an act of treason on the part of a Goth who was in charge of all their shipping; and at the same time innumerable ships came to them both from Sicily and from the rest of the empire. 14 At the same time Narses also set up wooden towers on the bank of the river, and thus succeeded completely in humbling the spirit of his opponents.

15 The Goths then, becoming alarmed because of these things and being at the same time hard pressed by want of provisions, took refuge on a mountain which is near by, called by the Romans in the Latin tongue "Milk Mountain";​9 here the Romans were quite unable to follow them because the rough terrain made it impossible. 16 But the barbarians immediately repented having gone up there, because they began to be still more in need of provisions, having no means of providing them for themselves and their horses. 17 Thinking, consequently, that death in battle was preferable to that by starvation, they unexpectedly moved out to engage  p413 their enemy, falling upon them suddenly and without warning. 18 But the Romans, to ward them off as well as circumstances permitted, took their stand, not arranging themselves by commanders or by companies or by cohorts, nor distinguished in any other manner from one another, and not so as to hear the commands given them in battle, but still, determined to put forth all their strength against the enemy wherever they should chance to stand. 19 Now the Goths were the first to abandon their horses and all took their stand on foot, facing their enemy in a deep phalanx, and then the Romans too, observing this, let their horses go, and all arrayed themselves in the same manner.

20 Here shall be described a battle of great note and the heroism of one man inferior, I think, to that of none of the heroes of legend, that, namely, which Teïas displayed in the present battle. 21 The Goths, on the one hand, were driven to be courageous by despair of the situation, while the Romans, on the other hand, though they could see that the enemy had become desperate, withstood them with all their strength, blushing to give way to a weaker force; thus from both sides they charged their nearest opponents with great fury, the one army courting death and the other desiring to make a display of valour. 22 Now the battle began early in the morning, and Teïas, easily recognized by all, stood with only a few followers at the head of the phalanx, holding his shield before him and thrusting forward his spear. 23 And when the Romans saw him, thinking that, if he himself should fall, the battle would be instantly decided in their favour, all those who laid claim to  p415 valour concentrated on him — and there was a great number of them — and they all directed their spears at him, some thrusting and others hurling them. 24 He himself meanwhile, covered by his shield, received all their spears in it, and by sudden charges he slew a large number. 25 And whenever he saw that his shield was filled with spears fixed in it, he would hand this over to one of his guards and take another for himself. 26 And he continued fighting in this manner for the third part of the day, and at the end of that time his shield had twelve spears stuck in it and he was no longer able to move it where he wished and repel his assailants. 27 So he eagerly called one of the bodyguards without leaving his post so much as a finger's breadth nor giving ground nor allowing the enemy to advance, nor even turning round and covering his back with his shield, nor, in fact, did he even turn sidewise, but as if fastened to the ground he stood there, shield in hand killing with his right hand and parrying with his left and calling out the name of the bodyguard. 28 And the guard was now at his side with the shield, and Teïas immediately sought to take this in exchange for the one weighed down with spears. 29 But while he was doing so his chest became exposed for a brief instant of time, and it chanced that at that moment he was hit by a javelin and died instantly from the wound. 30 Then some of the Romans raised his head aloft on a pole and went about shewing it to both armies, to the Romans in order that they might be encouraged, and to the Goths that they might in despair make an end of the war.

 p417  31 But not even then did the Goths abandon the struggle, but they kept fighting till night, although well aware that their king was dead. 32 But when it began to grow dark, the two armies separated and passed the night on the battle-field in their equipment. And on the following day they arose at dawn, and arraying themselves in the same manner they fought till nightfall, neither army retreating before the other nor being routed nor even giving ground, though large numbers were being slain on both sides, but they kept at it with the fury of wild beasts by reason of their bitter hatred of each other, the Goths, on the one hand, knowing well that they were fighting their last battle, and the Romans, on the other, refusing to be worsted by them. 33 But finally the barbarians sent to Narses some of their notables, saying that they had learned that the struggle they had taken up was against God; for they recognized, they said, the power that was arrayed against them, and, since they were coming to realize by what had happened the truth of the matter, they were desirous from now to acknowledge defeat and give up the struggle, not, however, to obey the emperor, but to live in independence with some of the other barbarians; and they begged that the Romans concentrated to them a peaceful withdrawal, not begrudging them a reasonable settlement, but presenting them, in fact, with their own money as travelling funds, that money, namely, which each of them had previously deposited  p419 in the fortresses of Italy. 34 These proposals Narses took under consideration. Now John the nephew of Vitalian advised that they should allow this request and not carry on battle further with men who courted death nor expose themselves to those whose daring was sprung from despair of life, an attitude which proves dangerous not only for those possessed by it, but also for their opponents. 35 "For victory," he said, "is sufficient for the wise, but extravagant desires might perhaps turn out even to a man's disadvantage."

36 Narses followed this suggestion, and they came to terms, agreeing that the remainder of the barbarians, after receiving their own money, should depart immediately from all Italy and that they should no longer wage war in any way against the Romans. 37 Now a thousand Goths, in the midst of the negotiations, detached themselves from the main body, and under command of different men, among whom was the Indulf whom I have mentioned before,​10 proceeded to the city of Ticinum and the country beyond the Po. 38 But all the rest gave sworn pledges and confirmed all the details of the agreement. Thus the Romans captured Cumae and all that remained, and the eighteenth year, as it closed, brought the end of this Gothic War, the history of which Procopius has written.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Book V.xxv.15 and Book III.xx.19.

2 Chap. xxvi.4.

3 Mod. Otranto.

4 Modern Nepi.

5 Chap. xxxiii.7.

6 Book VI.iv.21‑30.

7 Modern Nocera.

8 Catapults.

9 Mons Lactarius.

10 Book VII.xxxv.23, etc.

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