The Goths at Constantinople
Bis domitum civile nefas, bis rupimus Alpes:

Tot nos bella docent, nulli servire tyranno.

Claud. In Ruf., ii.389, 390.

Rufinus, who, under the merely nominal emperor, had wielded the sceptre of the world, had been lynched under the very eyes of Arcadius by vengeful Goths; Eutropius, who succeeded him as the arbiter of the fortunes of the nations, had been also flung by their influence from the dizzy pinnacles of greatness into headlong infamy. Gaïnas the Goth was now the most formidable personage in the Eastern world. On him the inevitable doom was next to fall. The Empress Eudoxia was the inheritress of the influence of the two murdered Ministers; but for her also this dread summit of Cæsarean power' involved nothing better than a few years of storms, remorse, and torturing anxiety, to be followed by an early, miserable, and unregretted death.

Thrown on his own helplessness by the fall of Eutropius, and feeling under the absolute necessity of being governed by someone, the fainéant Arcadius was thankful, rather than otherwise, to succumb to the more virile yoke of his haughty wife. But Eudoxia, in a State distracted by rival parties, not one of which could be neglected with impunity, felt the necessity of holding the balance between them. The Court party of slaves and officials had, for the time, been annihilated by the overthrow of the Chamberlain, and Eudoxia thought that she could herself represent the whole power of the Court if she formed against the Goths an alliance with the Roman party -- the party of Aurelian, the friend of Chrysostom, and of Synesius, whose ideal object was the repression of the barbarian element which had recently sprung to such abnormal prominence, both in the East and in the West.

She had, accordingly, procured the nomination of Aurelian to the great office of Prætorian Præfect, and of her favourite, Count John, to the position of Comptroller of the Sacred Largesses, while she also brought into power and influence the soldierly ex-Consul Saturninus, the husband of her friend Castricia.

She had, however, to counterbalance the forces, not only of the Goths, but of the Arians. The majority of the Goths were Arians of the moderate school of their saintly apostle, Wulfila, to whom they owed the precious treasure of their vernacular Bible. But there were many other Arians in Constantinople, Greeks and Romans. In the days of Valens they completely outnumbered the Catholic party, and they had never acquiesced in the triumph gained by the orthodox Christians through the ability of Gregory Nazianzus and the repressive edicts of Theodosius. They were constantly plotting to regain their ascendency, which they hoped to do through the power of Gaïnas.

At the head of these Arians, but more through policy than conviction, was a dark and dangerous conspirator, whose very name, by one of the curious accidents of history, remains unknown to us, but who is usually called by the nickname of Typhos, the Egyptian Satan, given to him in a narrative of this epoch, written in an allegorical form, by Synesius. This little romance is called The Egyptians,' and, not deeming it safe to describe actual events, the Bishop threw his reminiscences into the form of a story of the struggles between the good Osiris and the evil Typhos. Typhos was the brother of Aurelian, but hated him with a deadly hatred, and watched him with devouring envy.

When Aurelian was made Prætorian Præfect and Consul-designate, Typhos, who had set his heart on the office, was sick with rage; and his no less evilly disposed wife, who had longed for the prestige of a more exalted rank, did her utmost to abet him. They represented the most abandoned class of aristocratic society, and their private entertainments were scenes of gross licentiousness. For some reason unknown to us, but connected either with contumacious blasphemy or coarse dissipation, Typhos had established the practice of snoring-matches, and highly honoured those of his base companions who excelled in producing what Synesius calls the roundest snorts.' His wife, who spent her days in the insatiable pursuit of excitement at the Theatre and in the Forum, devoted hours to the adornment of her person, and filled her assembly-rooms with women of abandoned character. The object, both of Typhos and his wife, seemed to be the enlisting of false religion, immoral pleasures, and ostentatious Philistinism into a league of contrast with, and defiance to, the literary culture, orthodox faith, and noble propriety of Aurelian and his consort. When Typhos was disappointed of his ambitious desire, he flung himself alike into reckless debauchery and deep-laid treason, for which he also was shortly to meet his doom. He and his party became the Arrabiati of Constantinople.

To console his disappointment by yet more shameless luxury, he had a lake constructed in his garden, in which were artificial islands and warm baths. Here he and his adherents of both sexes abandoned themselves to shocking orgies. Meanwhile both he and his wife were in secret communication with the unworthy wife of Gaïnas, through whose means they ceaselessly endeavoured to seduce the Gothic chieftain from all semblance of allegiance. He was already the chief general of the Eastern Empire. The Goths accepted his sway, and the army under him was largely composed of German elements. He aspired to re-establish Arianism and to be the Stilico of the East -- perhaps ultimately to wear the diadem, or at least to be the Consul, and king of his tribe, as Alaric was. Gaïnas was by no means contented with the scanty results which he had obtained from the ruin of Eutropius. So far from bringing him the additional honours which he had expected, it had only issued in the promotion and strengthening of the heads of the Roman party, whose opposition to all barbarian interests had found voice in the outspoken harangue of Synesius before the Emperor. The alliance with Typhos and his party seemed to put in his grasp the fulfilment of his wildest ambition.

So he threw off the mask, and having up to this time been in secret communication with Tribigild, now openly joined him at Thyatira. The two Gothic contingents entered into a perfect understanding with each other. Gaïnas marched to Chalcedon, plundering as he went. Tribigild, with equal impunity, advanced to Lampsacus. At Chalcedon Typhos and his wife paid secret visits to the camp of Gaïnas, and encouraged him to undisguised rebellion. Inspired by them, Gaïnas insolently demanded that Arcadius should come to him in person at Chalcedon, and one of the terms upon which he chose to insist was that the unnatural hatred of Typhos to his noble brother should be gratified by Aurelian's execution.

Gaïnas accordingly sent to tell the Emperor that he did not choose to treat with inferior ambassadors, and that Arcadius must come in person to Chalcedon, that he might hear the conditions on which his life, his capital, and his empire would be spared.

Arcadius had no choice but to submit. The Roman forces on which he could rely were few, and were scattered in garrisons throughout the Empire. He had no soldiers to oppose to the army of the Gothic chief. It seemed as if the worse fears of Synesius were about to be justified, and half of the once undivided Roman Empire was now to be enfeoffed to barbarian aliens.

On the summit of a gentle hill near Chalcedon stood a Church of St. Euphemia, famous for its supernatural sacredness. Here the meeting was to take place, and here the helpless Arcadius had the humiliation of receiving the dictates of the rebel chieftain. Gaïnas was to be promised the Consulship; he was to be made Generalissimo of the East; he and Tribigild were to be permitted to cross the Bosporus unmolested. Worse than all, the Emperor was at once to deliver up Aurelian, the Consular Saturninus, and Count John, to be put to death, or to be kept as hostages, as the Goth should choose. Arcadius must consent to this, or -- -- Gaïnas emphasised the alternative by pointing to the hilt of his sword, and by a wave of his arm towards the camp of his army of 30,000 men.

What could the wretched son of Theodosius do? To yield was infamy, to refuse was destruction. The concession of the other demands was inevitable. But how could he, without bitter shame, betray the lives of his blameless Consul-designate and Prætorian Præfect, at that moment the first man in his Court and capital, and of the Consular Saturninus, who had in 382 suppressed the forces of Athanaric, and was the husband of his wife's kinswoman and most intimate friend? And what was the significance of the demand for the extradition of Count John? His rank and importance were purely official. He had no independent authority. He could not be regarded, like the two others, as a leader of the Roman party. Eudoxia saw, if Arcadius did not see, that this demand was simply aimed at her. Everyone except the Emperor knew that Count John was in a very special sense her favourite, and many believed that he was her accepted lover. She read in the inclusion of his name a sign that Gaïnas, with Typhos and his wife to help him, intended to strike her down as they had struck down her enemy, Eutropius.

Her anger was intense, and she even ventured to taunt the wretched Emperor with his impotence.

Surely,' she said, you will never consent to this insolently outrageous condition! You might as well take off your diadem, and place it on the brow of that gross barbarian.'

What can I possibly do?' said Arcadius, as he sat in limpest attitude on his embroidered cushions.

Better abdicate,' she said, at once than give up at a breath one after another of your greatest and most faithful servants. Is this Goth a Cerberus, that at every bark he is to be pacified by flinging to him the head of your noblest subjects? Do you think that your father, Theodosius, would for a moment have tolerated such dictation? Is the Empire worth having if you are to sit in chains under the feet of a Scythian?'

How can I refuse the general of 30,000 men? Do you think that my handful of Silentiarii and Palatini could stand for five minutes against them?'

Then you will betray your noble servants?' she said, rising from her seat with contemptuous indignation. You are emperor in name alone! Would God I were emperor in your place! If the Archbishop John were emperor he would die a thousand times rather than yield.'

Eudoxia stood up before him with her face aflame, and took no pains to veil the scorn which sat upon her beautiful lips.

What can I do?' asked Arcadius again in querulous helplessness.

Do?' she cried. Be a man! You have millions of subjects. Appeal to their protection. Throw yourself on their loyalty. Why, even that half-man, Eutropius, would have shown more dignity and more courage!'

I should simply be murdered,' he said.

Then die like a man!' she answered. 'It were better not to be than not to be noble.'

But as her words kindled no spark of generosity, she turned away with a gesture of proud despair, and left him.

Arcadius simply collapsed into a dishevelled heap of imbecility. Not knowing what to do, and feeling equally incapable of thought or of action, he let things take their own course. He was not obliged to give an answer to Gaïnas as before the next day; meanwhile something might turn up.

The terms which Gaïnas had laid down soon became known, and the crisis was terrible. Civil war seemed the least of possible alternatives, for before any Roman forces could be summoned and concentrated there was nothing to prevent the sack of the undefended city, full as it was of Goths and Arians -- and perhaps the establishment of a new and barbarian dynasty.

Under these circumstances Aurelian invited Saturninus and Count John to meet him at his house for consultation. He pointed out to them that the other conditions were inevitable, but that Arcadius could not hand them over against their will without infinite disgrace. And then he made a proposal worthy of the Decii. Let us,' he said, go voluntarily and secretly to Chalcedon, and there let us place ourselves in the hands of the Goth. He will throw us into prison. It is too probable that he will put us to death. But we shall have saved this distracted Empire -- at any rate, we shall have given it a little breathing-space.'

Saturninus readily accepted the noble proposition. Count John murmured and hesitated; but if such was the decision of two men so much greater than himself, he felt it impossible to refuse.

They agreed to cross the Bosporus at once, and to be landed a little to the east of Chalcedon. Thence they advanced alone and unattended, and, announcing their name and rank, handed themselves over to the first Gothic sentries whom they encountered. By them they were conducted to the tent of Gaïnas. His eye gleamed with vengeful ferocity and gratified ambition as he informed them that by that day week he would decide their ultimate fate. They were manacled with heavy iron chains, and Aurelian, as he was led out of the presence of Gaïnas, was almost certain that through the partly open tent-folds of the inner room he caught sight of the dark eyes and malignant features of his brother. He was quite sure that, mingled with the tones of the wife of Gaïnas, he heard the shameless laugh of the wife of Typhos.

News always spread with miraculous rapidity through the populace of Constantinople, and David soon heard in the Chalkoprateia, where he was visiting his father, of the glorious self-devotion of Aurelian and his colleagues. He hurried to convey the news to his two friends, who shared the tension of the general anxiety.

It is my turn now to be newsbearer,' he said. 'Eutyches told us of the Consulship of Eutropius; you, Philip, of his fall. Neither of you deserved the rewards of good tidings; but I do. For the present we are saved. Philip, your friend Aurelian, and Saturninus, and Count John, voluntarily went to Chalcedon an hour ago, and gave themselves up to Gaïnas to save the Empire.'

A noble sacrifice!' said Philip; but "he" must be told of it instantly.'

He went into the Patriarch's study, and told him. Chrysostom was struck with admiration at the heroic conduct of the doomed three, but he was also deeply moved. In the whole Court of Arcadius there was no one for whom he felt a warmer regard or a higher esteem than for Aurelian, the Prætorian Præfect.

I must,' he said, go to Gaïnas instantly, and intercede for their lives. You, Philip and Eutyches, come with me. I will leave our steady David to look after all business in our absence, and Heracleides and Serapion can attend to the visitors.'

But the Goths are all Arians,' said Philip.

It matters not,' said Chrysostom. Am I not by my office the common father of all? And, though Arians, they are still Christians. Come, there is no time to be lost. Those barbarians are liable to sudden and perilous impulses.'

They started immediately, and on landing the Archbishop, with his two youthful attendants, was conducted with great respect into the presence of the Gothic chieftain.

Gaïnas was a Goth who had never really identified himself with the interests of the Empire. The veneer of civilisation which he had received was far more superficial than that which made the Romans accept the authority of Stilico, Vandal as he was; and, unlike Stilico, Gaïnas had married a Gothic wife. He was a barbarian whose nobler qualities had been almost obliterated by contact with culture, while the inherent vices of his race -- ambition, avarice and revenge -- had only been stimulated into excessive violence. He was a noble-looking Amal, like those whom Chrysostom had admired in the streets of Antioch, though the natural beauty and manliness of his countenance had been spoiled by the dominance of selfish passions.

But, like all men who were really men, he felt a deep and genuine reverence for the Archbishop of Constantinople. He was struck by his natural dignity; and won by his transparent sincerity and straightforwardness. He distinguished between him and the ordinary mass of soft nobles and corrupt officials with whom he had to do. He recognised in him a prophet and a man of God. He felt that if there had been such a religious leader among the Arians his own religious convictions might have exercised a more real sway over his heart. Mentally, he always compared him to the Apostle of the Goths, as he had been described to him by his father, whom Wulfila had converted.

And something of admiration, with more of pity, filled the heart of Chrysostom as he thought how different, under better influences, this tall, fair-haired barbarian might have become. Had he but been orthodox -- had he but been thrown with true Christians, not with nominal professors of the faith -- this noble specimen of humanity might have been one of the glories of the Gospel in the day when Christ made up His jewels.

It was impossible to mistake the genuine reverence of the warrior's manner as he rose to receive his visitor. In sign of deep humility he took the hands of Chrysostom, and laid them on his own eyes. Then he summoned his two sons, Thorismund and Walamir, from the neighbouring tent, and, leading them to Chrysostom, bade them kneel and embrace his holy knees, while he asked the Archbishop to bless them. Chrysostom laid his hand on the fair, short curls of each sunny head, and made over them the sign of benediction. Then the two youths advanced eagerly to Philip, who at once recognised them, as they recognised him, with cordial greeting, though several years had passed since they had met at Antioch during the visit of Rufinus. They had never seen Eutyches before, but looked with frank admiration at his winning face.

While the youths stood apart the Archbishop told Gaïnas that he had not been commissioned to come to him either by the Emperor, or by Eudoxia, or by any official. He had come at the spontaneous instigation of compassion. Aurelian was a friend whom he highly esteemed, and Saturninus had been a worthy and valued servant of the Empire. Of Count John he knew less, but none of the three had ever injured Gaïnas, and it was unworthy of him to wreak on them a vague desire for vengeance.

They are the foes of my countrymen,' said Gaïnas. 'The Roman party, of which Aurelian is the head, wants to sweep us back across the Ister. It was Aurelian who procured for Bishop Synesius the permission to deliver that oration before Arcadius in which he openly argued that we should be cashiered from all offices, and not even be suffered to serve in the army.'

I do not share those opinions,' said Chrysostom. I am one of those who have long thought that our race, weakened by luxury and indolence, needs the infusion of fresh blood. I have long looked forward to see Roman and Teuton united in one nobler nation. Yet, remember that the views of the Roman party are not unnatural. The Goths in the Empire are but of yesterday in a nation which has been dominant for a thousand years.'

Yes, and foully have we been treated,' said the Goth. 'Consider how we are subjected to the infamous exactions of Lupicinus, the corrupt and greedy Governor of Valens in Thrace. Consider the massacre of our glorious youth in the cities of the East. Know you that my own eldest son was murdered in that foul butchery?'

I knew it not,' said the Archbishop. I grieve for thee. But there have been wrongs on both sides. It is needless now to enter into the terrible and chequered past -- the massacre of Adrianople, the devastation of Elyria by Alaric, of Phrygia by Tribigild, your kinsman. Aurelian and the others are in nowise responsible for the old wrongs. Surely your sense of nobleness may be touched by the fearless loyalty with which they have, of their own accord, placed their lives at your disposal? Spare them, Gaïnas, and rise superior to your own lower self. Eutropius may have injured you; Aurelian never did.'

We still have bitter wrongs to avenge,' said the warrior.

Which is nobler,' said Chrysostom, revenge or forgiveness? Revenge and wrong still bring forth fresh tiger-whelps which resemble their parents. Since I came to Constantinople I have learnt a little Gothic, that I might sometimes minister in the church of the orthodox Goths. Have you never read these words?' He repeated from the version of the Lord's Prayer by Wulfila the words:

'Yah aflet uns thatei skulans siyaima, swa swe yah weis afletain thaim skulam unseraim' (And let off us that which debtors we are, so as also we let off our debtors').

I cannot answer you now,' said Gaïnas. 'Your eloquence and your presence bewitch me, and calm down the rancour in my heart. Come again, Patriarch; I love to talk to you. And, ere you go, bless me. I am not altogether the demon you take me for.'

A demon! -- no!' said the Patriarch. Not a demon, Gaïnas, but a noble human being who has too much given place to the devil. But promise me you will take no step until you have told me of your decision.'

I promise,' said Gaïnas.

Thorismund,' said Philip to the Gothic youth, intercede with your father for the life of Aurelian when we have gone. Aurelian is a noble fellow.'

Let that lad with the angel's face make me the same request,' said Thorismund. I should like to hear his voice.'

I don't wonder at that,' said Philip, for he is a chorister, and has the sweetest voice in Constantinople.'

What makes him look so unlike the Greeks and Romans here?' asked Thorismund.

Is it your Gothic way to compliment each other?' said Eutyches, blushing. But I do beg you to intercede with your father. And you also, Walamir. And you must listen to me, for though my father was a Roman, my mother was a Gothic lady.'

Ah!' said Thorismund, I thought that you must have some Gothic blood in you, from the colour of your hair; you look too ingenuous for a Roman.'

Babai!' exclaimed Philip; that's a poor compliment to me.'

Oh! you are a Syrian,' said Thorismund; but we will speak to our father for your friends.'

chapter xxix eutyches is indignant
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