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Ch. 18, §§1‑2
This webpage reproduces a section of
History of the Later Roman Empire

by J. B. Bury

published by Macmillan & Co., Ltd.,

The text is in the public domain.

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Ch. 18, §5


(Part 2 of 5)

 p168  § 3. The Reign of Theodahad, and Outbreak of Hostilities (A.D. 535‑536)

Soon after the crime Peter returned to Constantinople. He bore letters from Theodahad and his wife to Justinian and Theodora; and he was to be followed presently by an Italian ecclesiastical, perhaps Pope Agapetus himself.​52 The object of Theodahad was to avert hostilities, and it is clear that he relied, above all, on the influence of Theodora. It is said that he forced the Roman senators to address Justinian in behalf of peace, by threatening to slay them, with their wives and children, if they refused. And we possess a letter of the Senate, drawn up by the Praetorian Prefect Cassiodorus, professing deep affection for the Amal ruler, nourished at the breasts of Rome, and imploring the Emperor to keep the peace. But the king's hopes of a peaceful settlement were vain. The Emperor immediately prepared for war. The idea of restoring the Imperial power in Italy had probably and long in his mind, his diplomacy had been occupied with it during the past year, and in a law issued six weeks before the murder of the queen he seems to allude to the  p169  Italian enterprise.​53 If Theodahad were willing to abdicate and give the Emperor peaceful possession, well and good, but the only alternative was war. On this Justinian was fully resolved, and Peter, who returned to Italy during the summer (A.D. 535), must have been the bearer of this ultimatum. In the meantime Justinian pushed on the preparations for war.54

The war against the Goths was begun in a very different way from the war against the Vandals. The Emperor had taken his subjects into his confidence when he prepared the African expedition; all the world knew that he was committed to the subjugation of Africa. But the outbreak of hostilities, which was to lead to the subjugation of Italy, was carefully concealed so long as concealment was possible; and the first steps were so contrived as not to commit the government to immediate operations on an extensive scale, if the task should appear too formidable. It is probable that Justinian was still waiting on events in Italy, and calculating that Theodahad, who was devoid of military spirit and capacity, would on the first symptoms of danger yield to all his demands. It was a calculation in which too little account was taken of the feelings of the Ostrogothic people.

The first operations in the war would indeed have been dictated, in any case, by geographical considerations. To occupy the Gothic province of Dalmatia, which was accessible by land, and that of Sicily, which was the most easily accessible by sea, were obviously, for a power which commanded the sea, the first  p170  things to be done. The possession of these two provinces would provide the bases for the conquest of Italy. Mundus, the loyal Gepid, Master of Soldiers in Illyricum, led the forces against Dalmatia. The resistance there seems to have been weak. He defeated the Goths and occupied Salona.55

The conqueror of Africa was marked out for the command of the overseas expedition, and the full powers of an imperator were again conferred upon him.​56 But the army which was entrusted to him was hardly half as strong as that which he had led against the Vandals. It consisted of 4000 legionaries and Federates; a special division of 3000 Isaurians under Eunes; 200 Huns, 300 Moors; and the armed retainers of Belisarius, who may have amounted to several hundreds. Thus the total strength was about 8000. The principal generals were Constantine and Bessas, both Thracians; and the Iberian prince Peranius.​57 Belisarius was accompanied by his stepson Photius, still a stripling, but strong and intelligent beyond his age.

The purpose of the expedition was kept secret. It was given out that destination of the fleet was Carthage, and no one had any idea that its sailing was the first step in a new enterprise. Belisarius was instructed that on landing in Sicily he should still pretend to be on his way to Africa, and should do nothing until he had discovered whether the island could be subjugated without trouble. This would evidently depend on the disposition of the Sicilians and the strength of the Gothic garrisons. If it appeared that he was likely to meet with a serious resistance, he was to proceed to Africa as if no other intention had been entertained. He was to run no risks with his small army. This cautious plan of action shows that the Emperor was not yet prepared to commit himself to an Italian campaign. The operations of Belisarius and Mundus were designed, in the first instance, as auxiliary to the Imperial diplomacy.

If war could not be avoided, Justinian calculated upon obtaining some aid from beyond the Alps. He sent an embassy to the kings of the Franks, urging that it was their interest as a Catholic power to co-operate with him against the Arian Goths,  p171  and as he supported his arguments by gold, he secured unreserved promises of assistance.58

Belisarius disembarked at Catane and he found his work easier than he could well have anticipated. Having seized Catane, he occupied Syracuse, and from the summary statement which has come down it would almost seem that no resistance was offered anywhere and that no military operations were necessary, except at Panormus. Here the fortifications were strong, and the Gothic garrison, which was probably larger than in the other cities, refused to surrender. The Imperial fleet sailed into the harbour, which was unfortified. The masts of the ships overtopped the walls of the town, and Belisarius conceived the device of hoisting boats, full of soldiers, to the tops of the masts, so that they could shoot down upon the defenders. To this menace the Goths, who must have been half-hearted in their resistance, immediately yielded. The restoration of Roman rule in the island was completed before the end of December. Belisarius was one of the consuls of the year, and on December 31 he was able to enter Syracuse and formally lay down his office. The coincidence seemed to his contemporaries a signal favour of fortune.

The ease with which Sicily was reduced shows that the Sicilians were ready to exchange the yoke of Ravenna for that of New Rome, and that there were not large Gothic forces in the island. It may be observed that it would have been far more difficult for a small garrison, in those days, to hold a town of considerable size against a foe, in spite of the wishes of the inhabitants, than in modern times. A slender force, armed with sword and spear, could not defy a numerous populace, as they might if they were supplied with firearms.

In the meantime communications had passed between Rome and Constantinople.​59 Alarmed by the operations in  p172  Dalmatia and Sicily, king Theodahad made a new effort to persuade the Emperor to desist from his purpose. He induced Pope Agapetus to undertake the office of ambassador to Constantinople (early winter, A.D. 535).​60 The appeal did not avail. We are not told how the Pope discharged the duties of a mission which he seems to have undertaken reluctantly, but he soon became absorbed in the ecclesiastical controversies of Constantinople, where he remained till his death (April 22, 536). Meanwhile the successes of Mundus and Belisarius increased the fears of Theodahad, and the fall of Panormus seems to have been decisive. The Imperial envoy Peter, who had returned from Constantinople to Rome, was able to take advantage of the completion of the conquest of Sicily to persuade the vacillating king to attempt to come to terms with his master.​61 Theodahad's fears made him amenable, and he handed to Peter a letter in which he offered to resign Sicily and to submit to a number of capitulations, which would clearly establish and confirm the Emperor's overlord­ship.​62 Peter set out, but he had only reached  p173  Albano when he was recalled. Theodahad's craven spirit was tortured by the fear that his terms would be rejected, and he had decided to seek Peter's advice. The historian Procopius records a curious conversation between the king and the ambassador.​63 "Suppose my terms do not satisfy Justinian, what will happen?" asked the king. "You will have to fight," said Peter. "Is that fair, my dear ambassador?" "Why not?" replied Peter; "it is fair that every man should be true to his own character." "What do you mean?" "Your interest is philosophy," said Peter, "while Justinian's is to be a good Roman Emperor. Observe the difference. It could never be seemly for a philosopher to cause death to men, and in such numbers; especially for a Platonist, whose hands should be pure of blood. Whereas it is natural that an Emperor should seek to recover territory which of old belongs to his dominion." Theodahad then swore, in Peter's presence, and caused queen Gudeliva to swear likewise, that he would deliver Italy over to Justinian, in case his first proposals were rejected. He wrote a letter to this effect, stipulating only that lands producing a yearly revenue of 1200 lbs. of gold should be secured to him; but he made Peter promise by oath that he would first deliver the previous letter, and only produce the second in case the first proved unacceptable. In agreeing to this arrangement, Peter may seem to have had a strange idea of the duties of an ambassador, but we may take it for granted that he was perfectly certain that the compromise offered in the first communication would be rejected.​64 Rejected it was; the second letter was presented, and the Emperor was highly pleased. Peter was sent once more to Italy, along with another agent, to confirm the agreement, and to arrange that the estates of the patrimonium should be assigned to Theodahad's use.​65 Instructions  p174  were sent to Belisarius, who was still in Sicily, to be prepared to take possession of the royal palaces and assume the control of Italy.

When the ambassadors arrived they found Theodahad no longer in the same mood. Things in the meantime had been occurring in Dalmatia, where a considerable Gothic army had arrived to recover the province. Maurice, the son of Mundus, went out with a small force to reconnoitre, and fell in a sanguinary skirmish. His father, excited by grief and anger, immediately marched against the Goth, and almost annihilated their forces, but in the heat of a rash pursuit was mortally wounded.​66 His death rendered the victory equivalent to a defeat. The Imperial army, in which it seems that there was none competent to take his place, withdrew from Dalmatia. The field was left to the Goths, but they too had lost their commander, and they did not at first venture to occupy Salona, where the Roman population was not friendly.

The news of these events elated Theodahad, whose unstable mind was vacillating between fear of war and the pleasures of royalty. When the Imperial ambassadors arrived, full of confidence and disregardful of his oath, he refused to fulfill his contract. The Gothic notables, to whom Justinian had sent a conciliatory letter, supported him in his refusal, and he went so far as to detain the ambassadors in close confinement.

On learning what had occurred the Emperor appointed Constantian, his Count of the Stable, to lead the Illyrian army to recover Dalmatia, and sent orders to Belisarius to invade Italy. The task of Constantian was easily enough accomplished. He transported his troops by sea from Dyrrhachium to Epidaurus (Ragusa), and the Goths, who had meanwhile seized Salona, believing that they could not defend it, withdrew towards Scardona. Marching to Salona, Constantian rebuilt parts of  p175  the walls, which were in disrepair, and the Gothic army then retired to Ravenna.67

§ 4. Siege of Naples, and Accession of Witigis (A.D. 536)

Belisarius was preparing to transport his army to Italy when he was summoned to Africa to suppress the military mutiny, with which Solomon was unable to cope (last days of March).​68 On his return, leaving garrisons in Syracuse and Panormus, he crossed the straits and landed at Rhegium. The defence of the straits was in the hands of Evermud, son-in‑law of the king. His forces were probably insignificant; he deserted to Belisarius, was sent to Constantinople, and rewarded by the patrician dignity. The general advanced by the coast road to Naples, accompanied by the fleet, and he met with no opposition.

He encamped before Naples, and received a deputation of citizens, who implored him not to press them to surrender; Naples is a place of no importance, they said, let him pass on and take Rome. The general, observing that he had not asked them for advice, promised that the Gothic garrison would be allowed to depart unharmed, and he privately promised large rewards to Stephen, the head of the deputation, if he could prevail upon the citizens to surrender. A meeting was held, and two influential orators, Pastor and Asclepiodotus, who were loyal to the Goth interest, induced the citizens to put forward demands which they were sure would not be granted. But Belisarius agreed to everything. Then Pastor and his fellow in public harangues urged that the general was not in a position to guarantee their security, and that the city was too strong to be taken. This view was supported by the Jews, who, favoured by Theoderic's policy, were deeply attached to Gothic rule, and it carried the day.

 p176  Belisarius decided to besiege the place, but it proved a more difficult operation than he had expected. He cut the aqueduct, but this caused little inconvenience, as the town had good wells. The besiegers had no points of vantage from which they could conduct the attack. Ancient Naples included within its walls only a small portion of the modern city. It corresponded to a rectangular area of about 1000 by 800 yards, in which the church of San Lorenzo would be close to the centre. But the ground must have been distinctly higher than the modern level, to give the besieged the advantages which they possessed.​69 Having wasted some weeks and incurred serious losses in men, Belisarius, impatient to advance against Rome and meet Theodahad, determined to abandon the siege. But the luck which had signally favoured him hitherto was again with him. He had given orders to the army to prepare for departure, when a curious Isaurian, climbing into the broken aqueduct in order to inspect its construction, discovered that, near the walls, the channel had been pierced through solid rock, and that the aperture was still open, too narrow to admit a man in armour, but capable of being enlarged. Belisarius acted promptly. Files were employed to enlarge the opening, so as to make no noise. But before making use of this means of entering the city, the general gave the Neapolitans another chance to avoid bloodshed and the horrors of a sack. He summoned Stephen to his camp, assured him that it was now impossible that the city should not fall into his hands, and implored him to persuade his fellow-citizens to capitulate and avoid the miseries which would befall them. Stephen returned in tears, but the people refused to listen. They were convinced that the appeal of Belisarius was merely a ruse.

Six hundred men crept through the aqueduct at night, slew the sentinels on the northern wall, and enabled the Roman troops who were waiting below with scaling-ladders to ascend on the battlements. The horrors which Belisarius had anticipated ensued, and the Huns particularly distinguished themselves in the work of murder and plunder. At length the general succeeded in gathering the troops together and staying the carnage. Swords were sheathed and captives were released. Eight hundred Goths who were taken were well treated. The Neapolitans turned with anger against the two demagogues  p177  whom they held responsible for all that had befallen them. They slew Asclepiodotus; they found Pastor already dead, stricken by apoplexy when he knew that the city was taken.70

The people of Naples had confidently expected that king Theodahad would have sent an army to relieve their city. He seems to have been paralysed by fear; he took no measures for defence of his kingdom or of any part of it. Disgusted with his inactivity, the Goths of Rome and the province of Campania decided, after the fall of Naples, to depose him and elect a leader of military experience. They met at Regata in the Pomptine marshes,​71 and, as there was no suitable member of the royal family of the Amals, their choice fell on Witigis, a man of undistinguished birth, who had earned some repute in the campaigns against the Gepids. He was acclaimed king (November, A.D. 536),​72 and Cassiodorus, whose impartial pen was prepared to serve him, as it had served Theoderic and Amalasuntha, and as it had served Theodahad, announced to all the Goths the election of one not chosen, like Theodahad, "in the recesses of a royal bedchamber, but in the expanse of the boundless Campagna;​73 of one who owed his dignity first to Divine grace, but secondly to the free judgment of the people; of one who knew the brave men in his army by comrade­ship, having  p178  stood shoulder to shoulder with them in the day of battle."​74 The event proved that the choice of the Goths was undiscerning. Witigis was a responsible soldier, and would have been a valuable leader of a division under an able commander, but he possessed none of the higher qualities demanded in one who was called to lead a nation against a formidable invader.

Theodahad, who had hitherto been residing at Rome, fled incontinently to Ravenna. Witigis decided that he must die, and sent a certain Optaris to bring him alive or dead. Optaris was selected because he had a personal grudge against Theodahad. Travelling night and day without a pause, he overtook the fugitive, flung him on the ground, and butchered him like a sacrificial victim.

The new king immediately marched to Rome and held a council. Everything depended on the plan of campaign that was now formed. The Goths were menaced by two dangers, the imminent advance of Belisarius from the south, and the hostile attitude of the Franks in the north. The main forces of the Goths were stationed in the northern frontier provinces, in Provence and Venetia. Witigis proposed, and the proposal was accepted, first of all to deal with the Franks, and then to take the field against Belisarius with all the forces of the kingdom. It is safe to say that this plan of postponing the encounter with the most dangerous enemy was unwise.​75 The best chance of the Goths would have been to hurry the main part of their troops from the north, and either join battle with the Imperial army before it reached Rome, or else hold Rome strongly and force Belisarius to undertake a siege which would be long and difficult. In the meantime an envoy could be sent to negotiate with the Franks. The place of Witigis himself was at Rome, the threatened point, and he committed a fatal blunder when he started for Ravenna "to make arrangements for the war." He left a garrison of 4000 men in Rome, under Leuderis, extracted an oath of fidelity from Silverius, the Pope,​76 and from  p179  the Senate and people, and took a number of senators with him as hostages.

At Ravenna, Witigis married, against her will, Matasuntha, the sister of Athalaric, in order to link himself with the dynasty of Theoderic; and the wedding was celebrated in a florid oration by Cassiodorus.​77 He then proceeded to negotiate with the Franks. We saw how they had been induced by Justinian to promise their co-operation. But Theodahad had made them an attractive offer. He proposed to hand over to them the Ostrogothic territory in Gaul, along with 2000 lbs. of gold, in return for their engagement to assist him in the war. He died before the transaction was concluded. Witigis saw that the best thing to be done was to carry out this arrangement. The Frank kings consented, but, as they did not wish openly to break their compact with Justinian, they promised secretly to send as auxiliaries "not Franks, but men of their tributary peoples."78

At the same time a last attempt was made to come to terms with the Emperor. It was plausible to argue that, as the murder of Amalasuntha had been the alleged reason for invading Italy, the cause for war was removed by the punishment of Theodahad and the elevation of Matasuntha to the throne. What more could the Goths do? Witigis wrote to Justinian to this effect,​79 and likewise to the Master of Offices urging him to work for peace.​80 As to these negotiations we possess only the documents drawn up at Ravenna, and have no information as to the Emperor's reply. We may conjecture that he offered Witigis the simple alternative between war and submission.

In the meantime Belisarius had left Naples and was marching  p180  northward. The Romans, warned by the experiences of Naples, and urged by the Pope, who had no scruples in breaking his oath to Witigis, sent a messenger inviting him to come. He had placed small garrisons in Naples and Cumae, the only forts in Campania, and marching by the Via Latina he entered Rome on December 9, A.D. 536,​81 by the Porta Asinaria, close to the Basilica of the Lateran.​82 On the same day the Gothic garrison discreetly withdrew by the Porta Flaminia. Their leader, Leuderis, remained, and was sent to the Emperor with the keys of the city gates.

The Author's Notes:

52 If we read the six letters in Cass. Var. X.19‑24 together, it appears unquestionable that they were despatched about the same time. 19 (Theod. to Justinian), 20 (Theod. to Theodora), 21 (Gudeliva to Theodora) were entrusted to Peter; 22 (Theod. to Justinian), 23 (Theod. to Theodora), 24 (Gudeliva to Theodora) were to be committed to the unnamed ecclesiastic, who is referred to in the same terms, in five of the letters, as illum virum venerabilem. It is obvious from the tenor that hostilities had not yet begun, and that Theodahad's object in writing was to avert them. Further, 19 was the first communication addressed by him to the Emperor since Peter's arrival early in 535, as is clear from the first sentence, in which he thanks Justinian for congratulating him on his elevation (gratias divinitati referimus quod provectum nostrum clementiae vestrae gratissimum esse declarastis). We may therefore confidently date these documents to summer 535. Another document also belongs here, xi.13, an appeal of the Roman Senate to preserve peace. The tenor seems to point to a date before the outbreak of war, and the statement that the letter would be delivered per illum virum venerabilem legatum piissimi regis nostri seems conclusive. We may naturally connect this letter with the record found only in Liberatus, Brev. 21, that Theodahad compelled the Senate by threats to make such an appeal. This vir venerabilis is supposed by some to have been Rusticus, who afterwards accompanied Peter to Constantinople in 536 (see below, p173; cp. Dahn, Kön. der Germ. II.203). Leuthold, Körbs, and others have attempted to prove that Pope Agapetus is meant, and that the letters were written and sent in February 536. But the tenor of the letters is quite inappropriate to the situation then. The important passage is 19.4, 5, and I am inclined to think that Theodahad means he will send the Pope, not with Peter, but later on, as his own envoy. The Pope, however, did not start till a much later date (see below, p172).

53 Justinian, Nov. 6 (March 6, 535) ad init.: ea quae sunt firma habebimus et quae nondum hactenus venerunt adquirimus.

54 Procopius, B. G. I.5.1, "as soon as he learned what had happened to Amalasuntha, being in the ninth year of his reign, he entered upon war" (the ninth regnal year began April 1, 535). Justinian must have heard the news by the end of May, and Belisarius may have sailed at the end of June. His sailing marked the beginning of the war, and thus we can understand (cp. Körbs, Untersuchungen, p60) why the years of the war as reckoned by Procopius run from summer solstice to summer solstice. This reckoning is quite clear; it was pointed out by Eckhardt and Leuthold and has been established by Körbs. Thus year 1 = end of June 535 to end of June 536. The system has been misunderstood because, in noting the end of each year, Procopius uses the formula "the winter was over and the 1st (2nd, etc.) year of the war came to an end," in imitation of Thucydides. The inference that the new year began with the spring equinox was natural, but is inconsistent with the narrative. The end of the winter and the end of the year of war are not coincident, and the former is only introduced to remind the reader of Thucydides (Körbs, 56 sqq.).

55 Perhaps in August or September 535.

56 He is named a στρατηγὸς αὐτοκράτωρ (Procopius, B. G. I.5.4. See above, p127).

57 Son of king Gurgen.

58 The Merovingian kingdom was now divided among three rulers, Choltachar and Childebert, sons of Chlodwig, and their nephew Theodebert. It was Theodebert who was the leading spirit in the Italian policy of the Franks (see below, § 8).

59 It is highly probable that Theodahad was at Rome during the whole winter 535‑536, and directed the negotiations from there (Cassiodorus, Var. X.14 and 18, cp. xii.18 and 19)., and that it was then that (as Wroth saw) he issued the fine bronze coins which bear his bust, with Dn Theodahatus rex on the obverse, and Victoria Principum on the reverse. On these coins the head is "neither bare nor bound with a diadem, but wearing a closed crown ornamented with jewels and two stars. His robe is also richly ornamented with jewels (p172) and a cross. The hair is cut short; the face beardless, but with a moustache such as has been seen already on the portrait coins of Odovacar and Theoderic": Wroth (Coins of Vandals, etc., p. xxxiv), who sees no reason not to regard it as a true portrait, and suggests that it should be connected with Cassiodorus, Var. VI.7 ut figura vultus nostri metallis usualibus imprimatur, etc. The other (Ravennate) coinage of Theodahad is of the ordinary type.

60 Liberatus, Brev. 21, ipsi papae et senatui Romano interminatur non solum senatores sed et uxores et filios filiasque eorum gladio se interemturum nisi egissent apud imperatorem ut destinatum exercitum suum de Italia submoveret (Italia is used in its political sense, including Sicily). The date 535 is supplied by Cont. Marcellinis.a. It has generally been supposed that Agapetus was sent in 536, on account of a passage in the life of this Pope in Lib. pont. p287 ambulavit Constantinopolim X kal. Mai., where Clinton read X kal. Mart. = Feb. 21, which is taken to be the date of his arrival at Constantinople, though it would naturally be that of his departure from Rome. Now as X kal. Mai., April 22, is the date of the Pope's death, Duchesne is certainly right in regarding the date as an interpolation. Against the emendation it may further be urged that Feb. 21-March 13, on which day Agapetus consecrated the Patriarch Menas, is too short a time for the proceedings preliminary to this ecclesiastical victory. Finally, the mission of the Pope after the despatch of Peter with the two letters is unintelligible. These objections are conclusive. The view that Agapetus accompanied Peter is quite untenable. Agapetus was in Italy on Sept. 9 (see his letters in Mansi, viii.848, 850) and as late as Oct. 15, if the date of the letter to Justinian (ib. 850) is correct. He may have started in November or December.

61 From the order of the narrative in Procopius, i.6 ad init., it is natural to infer that Peter's interviews with the king were later than Dec. 31, 535. The inference, however, is not quite certain, for ταῦτα (ἐπεὶ δὲ ταῦτα Πέτρος ἔμαθεν) might mean loosely the progress of Belisarius in Sicily.

62 Theodahad undertook (1) to send to the Emperor yearly a gold crown weighing 300 lbs.; (2) to furnish 300 Gothic soldiers, when required; (3) not to put to death, or confiscate the property of, any senator or cleric, without the Emperor's consent; (4) not to confer the patrician or the senatorial dignity, except with the same consent; (5) not to suffer his name to be acclaimed before that of the Emperor, in the circus or theatre; (6) to allow no statue to be set up to himself alone, without a statue of the Emperor standing on the right.

63 There seems no reason to suppose that this conversation was invented by the historian. I take it as an important indication that Procopius was personally acquainted with Peter, and that Peter was his source for diplomatic history of the years 534‑536.

64 Along with Peter, Theodahad sent Rusticus, an ecclesiastic, probably a bishop (cp. Leuthold, Untersuchungen, p40).

65 Probably in Tuscany. B. G. I.6.26, cp. 4.1.

66 The deaths of Mundus and his son seemed to the Italians to supply the interpretation of a Sibylline oracle, which had evidently been in their minds since the conquest of the Vandals. The Latin words, as handed down in the MSS. of Procopius (B. G. I.7, p33) present some difficulty. Africa capta mundus cum nat is quite clear, but is followed by uperistal in one MS., ζρεριστασι in another. The Greek version, given by Procopius, ἡνίκα ἂν Ἀφρικὴ ἔχεται, ὁ κόσμος ξὺν τῷ γόνῷ ὀλεῖται, points to the future of pereo. Braun and Haury read cum nato peribit, Comparetti peribunt. Periet, a form which occurs in Corippus, would be nearer (cp. Bury, B.Z. xv.46).

67 The loss of Dalmatia may be placed in March 536; the recovery in May-June. Peter must have returned to Italy by the beginning of April. Procopius notes the end of the first year of the war, after the recovery of Dalmatia (i.7 ad fin.).

68 See above, p143. Belisarius must have started for Carthage in the first days of April. He cannot have been back in Sicily before May, and he did not cross to Italy before the end of June (the second year of the war had already begun, Procopius B. G. I.7.37 and 8.1). He did not reach Naples till October (winter was approaching, ib. 9. 9).

69 Hodgkin, iv.49 sqq.

70 Naples probably fell early in November. The siege lasted twenty days. We must allow some time for the march to Rome, which was reached on Dec. 9.

71 Regata (not Regeta) was 280 stades from Rome, near the Decennovian canal, which drained the marshes and reached the sea at Terracina. The text of Procopius (i.11) in this passage equates 19 miles with 113 stades (τρισκαίδεκα και ἐκατόν). The reading cannot be sound. Procopius reckoned 7 stades to a mile (see above, p132). We should probably read τρεῖς καὶ τριάκοντα (λγ´ instead of ιγ´), 1337 = 19. See Haury, B.Z. xv.297, who conjectures that Regata is a later name for Forum Appii.

72 Procopius, ib. Jordanes, Rom. 372, Get. 310. The date of the accession of Witigis cannot have been prior to October. For Theodahad, who was put to death a few days afterwards, was in the third year of his reign (B. G. I.11), which began not earlier than October 3. There is no reason for rejecting the record in Cons. Ital. (loc. cit.) that he was slain mense Decembris, and thus we obtain the end of November for the elevation of Witigis. This accords with the probable date of the siege of Naples (see above, p177, n1). The date usually assigned is August (so Clinton, Hodgkin, Martroye, etc.) on the testimony of a passage in Lib. pont., Silverius, p290), where it is stated that two months after the ordination of Pope silverius (June 20) Theodahad was killed and Witigis elected. As this contradicts all the other evidence, we must reject it. I have little doubt that the text (post menses vero ii.) offers an instance of the very common numerical confusion of ii with v. Leuthold (op. cit. 48), who is right in his view of the chronology, makes a subtle and unsatisfactory attempt to explain the wrong date in this text.

73 In campis late patentibus.

74 Cassiodorus, x.31 (Hodgkin's paraphrase, iii.74).

75 Compare the remarks of Hodgkin, iv.76.

76 Silverius (son of a previous Pope, Hormisdas) succeeded Agapetus in June 536. It is said that he was imposed on the electors by Theodahad (Lib. pont., loc. cit.), but this may be only an invention. Cp. Liberatus, Brev. c22; Hodgkin, iv.92.

77 Fragments have been preserved and, edited by Traube, are included in Mommsen's ed. of the Variae, p473 sqq. The orator refers contemptuously to the effeminate training of Athalaric by his mother, and enlarges on the military career and prowess of Witigis. An elaborate description of the sumptuous pomp of the nuptials follows. There are coins with the monogram of Matasuntha, and they have been generally attributed to the reign of Witigis, but for another view see below, p254. The coinage of Witigis is of the ordinary type.

78 Procopius says that the three Frank kings divided the money and the land (B. G. I.13.27). But they did not consider their title secure until the land was formally ceded by the Emperor, and Justinian deemed it wise to agree (III.33.3).

79 Cassiodorus, Var. X.32. Witigis at the same time appealed to the Catholic bishops of Italy to pray for peace, and wrote to the Praet. Pref. of Illyricum asking him to help his ambassadors at Thessalonica on their journey. Ib. 34, 35.

80 Ib. 33.

81 There is a lacuna in the text of Procopius (I.14.14), but it can be supplied from Evagrius, H. E. IV.19. See Haury, ad loc.

82 The old gate, which is walled up, stands beside the Porta San Giovanni.

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