Affairs in the West
She saw her glories star by star expire,

And up the steep barbarian monarchs ride

Where the car climbed the Capitol.

Byron, Childe Harold, viii.

So Philip returned to Antioch a great man, wearing the emerald ring of the Emperor, and elevated to a rank which placed him among the first men of the city. And to crown his felicity Miriam presented him with another fine little son, whom he baptised by the name of 'John.'

Macedonius gently warned him against the peril of being intoxicated by such sudden and immense success. 'You are still young, Philip,' he said, and you are now rich and ennobled, and high in the favour of the Count of the East, and of the Emperor himself. You have a fair wife and two beautiful little boys, and your future seems to be assured. But, my son, "

What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"'

My father,' said Philip, Misfortune has been a blessed, if a stern, teacher. She has taught me to estimate things at their true value. I know that

riches make to themselves wings, and fly away; I know that earthly fortune is more brittle than glass; I know that life is uncertain, and at the best but short. It is my daily prayer that no treasure on earth shall make me forget the treasure in heaven.'

I believe it, my son,' said Macedonius; and may God ever keep you in this mind!'

Philip received from Kallias a letter of congratulation. Kallias was neither so old nor so dear a friend as David was, or Eutyches had been; but Philip was attached to him, and knew him to be honest and true.

Kallias in his letter, and in subsequent letters, told him some of the news of the West. He told him first the thrilling intelligence of the murder of Stilico, and the extinction of all the hopes and ambitions of his family; and this was of the deepest interest to Philip, because he had been taught by the poems of Claudian to admire the brave and magnificent Vandal.

Stilico fell a victim to the vile Court intrigues of palace-cliques, and to the fact that he was the object of fierce jealousy as an alien. Men of narrow hearts and limited insight could not understand his large and far-sighted policy. That act of dastardly assassination was chiefly due to the hypocritic Olympius, whom he himself had first raised from the dust, who had insinuated himself into the confidence of Honorius, and who hid his craftiness under a Pharisaism which deceived men like St. Augustine. The base intrigues to overthrow the great Vandal warrior came to a head at Pavia, where the troops were secretly instigated to rise and massacre his partisans. He might have marched from Bologna, where he then was, might have crushed the conspiracy, and made himself master of the fleet. But he kept his loyalty, and thereby so deeply disgusted the strong and savage Gothic chieftain, Sarus, that he surprised Stilico's camp, killed his bodyguard of Huns, and compelled the Vandal to fly to Ravenna for his life. As troubles thickened around him he fled into the church for asylum. There his tragic end was brought about by one of those hideous pieces of chicanery, the prevalence of which shows that a nation is ripe for destruction. Heraclian came with a body of troops to seize him. He agreed to leave the sanctuary if he received the Emperor's oath that his life should be spared. He was shown a letter from Honorius to that effect, and went forth. No sooner had he stepped out of the church than a second letter of Honorius was produced, ordering that he should be slain as a public enemy. Even at that supreme moment his friends and soldiers would have rescued him at all costs; but he forbade and repressed their efforts, and, kneeling on the ground, offered his neck to the blow of the miserable Heraclius, who struck off his head with his sword, and for this brutal assassination was elevated to the rank of Count of Africa. He went forth to meet his own just doom thereafter.

Stilico's ruin involved that of his family. His daughter Thermantia was divorced by Honorius -- who had already divorced her elder sister, Maria -- and was sent under an escort to her mother, Serena, at Rome, with her brother Eucherius. Eucherius was murdered by the Emperor's orders as soon as he reached Rome. The jealousy of the Romans, and their groundless dread that Serena would betray the city to Alaric, caused them to order her execution; and rumour said that she was strangled in prison, wearing on her neck the pearl necklace which she had taken from the statue of Vesta. Thermantia and Maria died not long afterwards; and with them the family of Stilico, the father-in-law of the Emperor, and for so long a period the chief man in the Western world, came to a disastrous end.

Swift retribution fell on all concerned in this vile plot. The removal of the only great general who could have checked his career made the path of Alaric more easy. Thrice he had Rome in his grasp. On one of these occasions he held the memorable interview with the Roman ambassadors -- at which Kallias was present as a reporter on behalf of Pope Innocent -- which has been immortalised in history from the notes which he took. The ambassadors first assumed a grandiloquent tone, which did not for a moment deceive Alaric, and which (as Kallias told Philip) made Thorismund and Walamir break into broad smiles as they stood beside the royal Visigoth. They spoke boastfully of the immense multitudes of inhabitants in the Eternal City, and of its boundless resources.

The thicker the hay, the more easily it is mown,' replied Alaric.

What, then, will you leave us?'

Your lives!' he answered, with a grim laugh.

The miserable Romans, crippled by Alaric's possession of Ostia and by imminent starvation, were barely able to pay the ransom which Alaric demanded, and in order to do it were compelled -- a terrible omen! -- to melt down the statue of Virtus. It was as though they abnegated all right to claim the manliness' for which Rome was so famed of old. Kallias was the eyewitness of many other memorable scenes during that time of terror. He saw the investiture of the rhetorician puppet, Attalus -- who was little more than a frivolous æsthete -- with the imperial insignia, when Alaric thought to reduce Honorius to reason by setting up a rival emperor. In the dire stress of famine caused by Heraclian's closing of the grain stores of Africa, Kallias heard the multitude yelling to Attalus in the amphitheatre, 'Pone pretium carni humanæ' (Set a price on human flesh!'). He stood by the side of Walamir -- who entertained towards him an intense gratitude for the aid which he had given to his escape from slavery -- when Alaric contemptuously stripped Attalus of his purple and diadem, and sent them as a present to conciliate Honorius.

Alaric had felt a tremendous sense that he was but an instrument in the hands of destiny when, for the third time, he besieged the Eternal City, which had never been captured for seven hundred years. A hermit had warned him not to be guilty of an outrage so tremendous upon the capital which, for a thousand years, had overwhelmed and dominated the world. The reply of the young Visigothic king was that, so far from challenging the wrath of Heaven by a deed which shook the hearts of the nations, he was only obeying a Divine behest, since a voice rang perpetually in his ears which bade him capture the city. And so on August 24, 410, Alaric, with Thorismund and Walamir in full armour by his side, burst at midnight through the Salarian Gate of Rome, and delivered over the city to three days of pillage.

Although most of the Goths were Christians, and although they respected the asylum of sanctuaries, it was not possible that a vast horde of Gothic soldiers should for many days remain master of such a city as Rome, with its long-accumulated treasures, without the occurrence of many sad and cruel scenes. The two young Ostrogoths, Thorismund and Walamir, had hearts which burned with the sense of wrongs which their almost extirpated nation had suffered at the hands of a corrupt civilisation; but they had a deep respect for religion, and while they freely availed themselves of the plunder of patrician houses, they used their utmost exertions to prevent cruelty and massacre. Walamir knew the home assigned to Kallias by Pope Innocent, in the precincts of the Lateran, and it had been his early care to get from Alaric a safeguard which would secure the immunity of his friend. The Pope himself was, providentially, absent, for he had gone to Honorius at Ravenna, to induce that poor sluggard to arouse himself to defend the interests of his capital. Kallias, bearing letters to Innocent, accompanied the messenger who was despatched from Rome with the tidings -- which made men's hearts stand still as though the end of the world had come -- that

She who was named Eternal, and arrayed

Her warriors to conquer; she who veiled

Earth with her haughty shadow, and displayed

E'en till the o'er-canopied horizon failed,

Her rushing wings; oh! she who was Almighty, hailed

was now the helpless prey of barbarians! He went with the messenger into the imperial palace, and a deeply agitated eunuch, with unwonted obliteration of etiquette, in the supreme excitement of the moment, pushed aside the purple curtains unbidden, and abruptly announced to the Emperor:

Sire, Rome has perished!'

Has she?' said Honorius, quite startled. How can that be? Why, she was quite well an hour ago, and was feeding out of my hand!'

I do not mean Rome, your hen,' said the Chamberlain, 'but the city Rome.'

Oh!' said Honorius, much relieved. I was afraid, my friend, you meant Rome, my favourite hen.'

The eunuch came out with his lips tightened into a grim, sardonic smile. What a master,' he said, even for eunuchs to serve!'

But when Alaric had withdrawn his forces and advanced to the south of Italy the condition of Rome became so wretched and uncertain -- it presented such an aspect of squalor and desolation, and suffered so constantly from the pressure of famine -- that Kallias longed to leave it. He did so the more because a beautiful Roman maiden had promised to be his bride. Her family had suffered severely in the Gothic pillage, and as there was no security that other barbarian raids might not be imminent, he was anxious to find for her a more secure and happy home. He mentioned this in a letter to Philip.

Philip was now in the full tide of success and prosperity. He had Anthemius as a friend at Court, and a claim for real services, which was all the more prominent because officials of perfect loyalty and incorruptible integrity were far from common. Theodosius II. had raised him with unusual rapidity from the rank of an Illustris to that of a Spectabilis. A third son, whom he named David, had been born to him, and a daughter, whom he christened Anthusa. The house at Singon Street was now neither large enough for his requirements nor suitable to his high rank as one of the leading senators of Antioch. He therefore built himself a residence not far from the Orontes, with a garden, and a vineyard, and a grove, and more than one fountain tinkling musically into its marble basin. He was never tempted to plunge into luxury. The furniture and adornments of his house were refined and beautiful, but with no trace of vulgar ostentation. He was mindful of the duties of generous hospitality, and he, as well as Miriam, exercising a wise and watchful charity, were surrounded by the benedictions of the poor.

He knew the ability of his old friend, and wrote to Kallias, offering to him the house in Singon Street for his abode, and the certainty of ample and honourable employment in the offices of the Præfect of the East. Kallias gratefully accepted the offer. He was wedded to his Marcia, by Pope Innocent himself, in the Lateran basilica. The Pope was sorry to lose his services, and gave him a handsome token of his regard in the form of a gilt ampulla, at the bottom of which was painted the picture of the Three Children in the Furnace.' But the Pope himself had been greatly impoverished by the sack of Rome, and was little able to bear the expense of a skilled secretary. He saw that far better prospects opened before Kallias in Antioch, and sent him to his new home with his patriarchal blessing. Philip and Miriam gladly welcomed him and his bride, and he found the house in Singon Street all that he could have desired.

>From the two young Gothic Amalings Philip was separated by the wide diversity of their destinies, but he occasionally heard of them, and even from them. They followed the fortunes of Alaric, and it was ever their delight to temper with mercy the inevitable cruelties which attended the victorious raids of their countrymen. When the Goths were devastating Campania, they came to Nola, and seized the good Bishop Paulinus. The decorations which he had lavished on the church and monastic buildings of St. Felix made the Goths suspect that he was the lord of vast hidden treasures; but, as St. Augustine says of him, he had long ago placed his treasures in the bosom of the poor.' Of this, however, it was difficult to persuade his Gothic captors, and while he was in their hands he offered the prayer, Lord, let me not suffer torture for the sake of silver and gold, for whither all my goods are gone Thou knowest.' It was owing to the energetic remonstrance and interference of Walamir that he was set free by the rude soldiers and saved from further molestation, though he lost what little he had left, and was reduced from comparative opulence to extreme poverty. He was grateful to Walamir for that efficient act of protection, gave him his episcopal blessing, and said that he would pray to St. Felix for him.

I thank you, Father,' said Walamir; but would you mind offering your prayer for me to God instead?'

The brothers marched with Alaric to the town of Rhegium, witnessed his wild grief at the loss in the stormy straits of the fleet with which he had intended to sail and conquer Africa, and stood by his death-bed at Consentia in 410, when he passed away, at the early age of thirty-one, leaving so many of his vast designs still unaccomplished. Alaric had learnt to love and trust them more than almost any of his comrades. They closed his eyes; they received the last faint pressure of his dying hands. The Goths diverted the course of the little river Busentinus, raised a mound over his remains, heaped it high with precious spoils and trophies of Rome, and then turned the rushing torrent into its course again. They slew the captives who had performed the task, that none might know where their hero lay, or disturb or plunder his tumultuous resting-place.

Thorismund and Walamir had not approved this last act of barbarity. Savage deeds like that made them despair of the Goths acquiring enough of civilisation and self-control to make them the permanent lords of the Kingdom of the West.

The Goths chose Ataulph, the brave and beautiful brother-in-law of Alaric, as their new king, elevating him on their shields immediately after the burial of his kinsman.

But there was one man against whom Thorismund cherished an intense feeling of wrath, and on whom he desired to inflict the vengeance which he regarded as his due. It was Sarus, whom Thorismund regarded as a traitor to his countrymen, the practical murderer of Stilico, the insulter and hereditary foe of Alaric. Sarus was a warrior of gigantic size and of herculean strength, and had been made Magister Militum for his treacherous services. But the same levity of spirit which had made him turn against Stilico caused him to desert Honorius for the usurper Jovinus. Ataulph heard that he was scouring the country with only a handful of followers. He sent a large detachment under Thorismund to seize him; but the chivalrous young Ostrogoth rushed upon Sarus in person at the head of a small contingent. Sarus and his bodyguard performed prodigies of valour. Thorismund spurred his horse against him, and wounded him with his spear, but was struck down dead by the chieftain's mighty arm. Seizing the opportunity of the personal encounter, a Goth flung some sacking over the head of Sarus; he was entangled in it, flung to the ground, overpowered, and dragged alive into the presence of Ataulph, who, after bitter reproaches, ordered him to be executed.

Walamir mourned long over the dead body of his brother. He was now the last Amal of his race, and nothing but the higher lessons of his boyhood, learnt with Eutyches in the Patriarcheion, prevented him from sinking into sullen melancholy and despair. Ataulph loved and honoured him no less than Alaric had done; and he exercised over the Visigoth a strong influence for good. He was present at the famous marriage of Ataulph with the Roman princess, Placidia, at Narbonne, when the Gothic king presented his beautiful bride with fifty youths, clad in silver robes, to be her slaves, and when each youth knelt and presented her a golden bowl full of rubies and other priceless gems, the spoils of Rome. He became Ataulph's constant companion, and was by his side at Barcelona when he fell a victim to the murderous stab in the back by which the deformed slave, Wernulf, avenged the wrongs of his former master, Sarus. Walamir smote the murderous villain to the earth with his own sword. Contrary to all his wishes and to his strongest entreaties, the Goths chose as their new king Sigeric, the brother of Sarus. Sigeric cherished a fierce grudge against him. When the new king, who was even a worse savage than his brother Sarus, heaped insults on the daughter of the great Theodosius by forcing Placidia to walk twelve miles on foot before his chariot, Walamir so openly and hotly expressed his indignation, that a quarrel arose, and Sigeric in a fit of fury stabbed him with his own hands.

Thus ended the race of Ostrogothic Amalings of the House of Gaïnas. Their lives were brief and tragic. They had taken the sword, and, like so many chieftains of those days, they perished by the sword.

chapter lxix a last visit
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