History of the Wars/Book III

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History of the Wars by Procopius
Book III: The Vandalic War (pt. 1)

I[edit]

Such, then, was the final outcome of the Persian War for the Emperor Justinian; and I shall now proceed to set forth all that he did against the Vandals and the Moors. But first shall be told whence came the host of the Vandals when they descended upon the land of the Romans. After Theodosius, the Roman Emperor, had departed from the world, having proved himself one of the most just of men and an able warrior, his kingdom was taken over by his two sons, Arcadius, the elder, receiving the Eastern portion, and Honorius, the younger, the Western. [Jan. 17, 395 A.D.] But the Roman power had been thus divided as far back as the time of Constantine and his sons; for he transferred his government to Byzantium, and making the city larger and much more renowned, allowed it to be named after him.

Now the earth is surrounded by a circle of ocean, either entirely or for the most part (for our knowledge is not as yet at all clear in this matter); and it is split into two continents by a sort of outflow from the ocean, a flow which enters at the western part and forms this Sea which we know, beginning at Gadira[1] and extending all the way to the Maeotic Lake.[2] Of these two continents the one to the right, as one sails into the Sea, as far as the Lake, has received the name of Asia, beginning at Gadira and at the southern[3] of the two Pillars of Heracles. Septem[4] is the name given by the natives to the fort at that point, since seven hills appear there; for "septem" has the force of "seven" in the Latin tongue. And the whole continent opposite this was named Europe. And the strait at that point separates the two continents[5] by about eighty-four stades, but from there on they are kept apart by wide expanses of sea as far as the Hellespont. For at this point they again approach each other at Sestus and Abydus, and once more at Byzantium and Chalcedon as far as the rocks called in ancient times the "Dark Blue Rocks," where even now is the place called Hieron. For at these places the continents are separated from one another by a distance of only ten stades and even less than that.

Now the distance from one of the Pillars of Heracles to the other, if one goes along the shore and does not pass around the Ionian Gulf and the sea called the Euxine but crosses from Chalcedon[6] to Byzantium and from Dryous[7] to the opposite mainland,[8] is a journey of two hundred and eighty-five days for an unencumbered traveller. For as to the land about the Euxine Sea, which extends from Byzantium to the Lake, it would be impossible to tell everything with precision, since the barbarians beyond the Ister River, which they also call the Danube, make the shore of that sea quite impossible for the Romans to traverse--except, indeed, that from Byzantium to the mouth of the Ister is a journey of twenty-two days, which should be added to the measure of Europe by one making the computation. And on the Asiatic side, that is from Chalcedon to the Phasis River, which, flowing from the country of the Colchians, descends into the Pontus, the journey is accomplished in forty days. So that the whole Roman domain, according to the distance along the sea at least, attains the measure of a three hundred and forty-seven days' journey, if, as has been said, one ferries over the Ionian Gulf, which extends about eight hundred stades from Dryous. For the passage across the gulf[9] amounts to a journey of not less than four days. Such, then, was the size of the Roman empire in the ancient times.

And there fell to him who held the power in the West the most of Libya, extending ninety days' journey--for such is the distance from Gadira to the boundaries of Tripolis in Libya; and in Europe he received as his portion territory extending seventy-five days' journey--for such is the distance from the northern[10] of the Pillars of Heracles to the Ionian Gulf.[11] And one might add also the distance around the gulf. And the emperor of the East received territory extending one hundred and twenty days' journey, from the boundaries of Cyrene in Libya as far as Epidamnus, which lies on the Ionian Gulf and is called at the present time Dyrrachium, as well as that portion of the country about the Euxine Sea which, as previously stated, is subject to the Romans. Now one day's journey extends two hundred and ten stades,[12] or as far as from Athens to Megara. Thus, then, the Roman emperors divided either continent between them. And among the islands Britain, which is outside the Pillars of Heracles and by far the largest of all islands, was counted, as is natural, with the West; and inside the Pillars, Ebusa,[13] which lies in the Mediterranean in what we may call the Propontis, just inside the opening where the ocean enters, about seven days' journey from the opening, and two others near it, Majorica and Minorica, as they are called by the natives, were also assigned to the Western empire. And each of the islands in the Sea itself fell to the share of that one of the two emperors within whose boundaries it happened to lie.


II[edit]

Now while Honorius was holding the imperial power in the West, barbarians took possession of his land; and I shall tell who they were and in what manner they did so. [395-423 A.D.] There were many Gothic nations in earlier times, just as also at the present, but the greatest and most important of all are the Goths, Vandals, Visigoths, and Gepaedes. In ancient times, however, they were named Sauromatae and Melanchlaeni;[14] and there were some too who called these nations Getic. All these, while they are distinguished from one another by their names, as has been said, do not differ in anything else at all. For they all have white bodies and fair hair, and are tall and handsome to look upon, and they use the same laws and practise a common religion. For they are all of the Arian faith, and have one language called Gothic; and, as it seems to me, they all came originally from one tribe, and were distinguished later by the names of those who led each group. This people used to dwell above the Ister River from of old. Later on the Gepaedes got possession of the country about Singidunum[15] and Sirmium,[16] on both sides of the Ister River, where they have remained settled even down to my time.

But the Visigoths, separating from the others, removed from there and at first entered into an alliance with the Emperor Arcadius, but at a later time (for faith with the Romans cannot dwell in barbarians), under the leadership of Alaric, they became hostile to both emperors, and, beginning with Thrace, treated all Europe as an enemy's land. Now the Emperor Honorius had before this time been sitting in Rome, with never a thought of war in his mind, but glad, I think, if men allowed him to remain quiet in his palace. But when word was brought that the barbarians with a great army were not far off, but somewhere among the Taulantii,[17] he abandoned the palace and fled in disorderly fashion to Ravenna, a strong city lying just about at the end of the Ionian Gulf, while some say that he brought in the barbarians himself, because an uprising had been started against him among his subjects; but this does not seem to me trustworthy, as far, at least, as one can judge of the character of the man. And the barbarians, finding that they had no hostile force to encounter them, became the most cruel of all men. For they destroyed all the cities which they captured, especially those south of the Ionian Gulf, so completely that nothing has been left to my time to know them by, unless, indeed, it might be one tower or one gate or some such thing which chanced to remain. And they killed all the people, as many as came in their way, both old and young alike, sparing neither women nor children. Wherefore even up to the present time Italy is sparsely populated. They also gathered as plunder all the money out of all Europe, and, most important of all, they left in Rome nothing whatever of public or private wealth when they moved on to Gaul. But I shall now tell how Alaric captured Rome.

After much time had been spent by him in the siege, and he had not been able either by force or by any other device to capture the place, he formed the following plan. Among the youths in the army whose beards had not yet grown, but who had just come of age, he chose out three hundred whom he knew to be of good birth and possessed of valour beyond their years, and told them secretly that he was about to make a present of them to certain of the patricians in Rome, pretending that they were slaves. And he instructed them that, as soon as they got inside the houses of those men, they should display much gentleness and moderation and serve them eagerly in whatever tasks should be laid upon them by their owners; and he further directed them that not long afterwards, on an appointed day at about midday, when all those who were to be their masters would most likely be already asleep after their meal, they should all come to the gate called Salarian and with a sudden rush kill the guards, who would have no previous knowledge of the plot, and open the gates as quickly as possible. After giving these orders to the youths, Alaric straightway sent ambassadors to the members of the senate, stating that he admired them for their loyalty toward their emperor, and that he would trouble them no longer, because of their valour and faithfulness, with which it was plain that they were endowed to a remarkable degree, and in order that tokens of himself might be preserved among men both noble and brave, he wished to present each one of them with some domestics. After making this declaration and sending the youths not long afterwards, he commanded the barbarians to make preparations for the departure, and he let this be known to the Romans. And they heard his words gladly, and receiving the gifts began to be exceedingly happy, since they were completely ignorant of the plot of the barbarian. For the youths, by being unusually obedient to their owners, averted suspicion, and in the camp some were already seen moving from their positions and raising the siege, while it seemed that the others were just on the point of doing the very same thing. But when the appointed day had come, Alaric armed his whole force for the attack and was holding them in readiness close by the Salarian Gate; for it happened that he had encamped there at the beginning of the siege. And all the youths at the time of the day agreed upon came to this gate, and, assailing the guards suddenly, put them to death; then they opened the gates and received Alaric and the army into the city at their leisure. [Aug. 24, 410 A.D.] And they set fire to the houses which were next to the gate, among which was also the house of Sallust, who in ancient times wrote the history of the Romans, and the greater part of this house has stood half-burned up to my time; and after plundering the whole city and destroying the most of the Romans, they moved on. At that time they say that the Emperor Honorius in Ravenna received the message from one of the eunuchs, evidently a keeper of the poultry, that Rome had perished. And he cried out and said, "And yet it has just eaten from my hands!" For he had a very large cock, Rome by name; and the eunuch comprehending his words said that it was the city of Rome which had perished at the hands of Alaric, and the emperor with a sigh of relief answered quickly: "But I, my good fellow, thought that my fowl Rome had perished." So great, they say, was the folly with which this emperor was possessed.

But some say that Rome was not captured in this way by Alaric, but that Proba, a woman of very unusual eminence in wealth and in fame among the Roman senatorial class, felt pity for the Romans who were being destroyed by hunger and the other suffering they endured; for they were already even tasting each other's flesh; and seeing that every good hope had left them, since both the river and the harbour were held by the enemy, she commanded her domestics, they say, to open the gates by night.

Now when Alaric was about to depart from Rome, he declared Attalus, one of their nobles, emperor of the Romans, investing him with the diadem and the purple and whatever else pertains to the imperial dignity. And he did this with the intention of removing Honorius from his throne and of giving over the whole power in the West to Attalus. With such a purpose, then, both Attalus and Alaric were going with a great army against Ravenna. But this Attalus was neither able to think wisely himself, nor to be persuaded by one who had wisdom to offer. So while Alaric did not by any means approve the plan, Attalus sent commanders to Libya without an army. Thus, then, were these things going on.

And the island of Britain revolted from the Romans, and the soldiers there chose as their king Constantinus, a man of no mean station. [407 A.D.] And he straightway gathered a fleet of ships and a formidable army and invaded both Spain and Gaul with a great force, thinking to enslave these countries. But Honorius was holding ships in readiness and waiting to see what would happen in Libya, in order that, if those sent by Attalus were repulsed, he might himself sail for Libya and keep some portion of his own kingdom, while if matters there should go against him, he might reach Theodosius and remain with him. For Arcadius had already died long before, and his son Theodosius, still a very young child,[18] held the power of the East. [408-450 A.D.] But while Honorius was thus anxiously awaiting the outcome of these events and tossed amid the billows of uncertain fortune, it so chanced that some wonderful pieces of good fortune befell him. For God is accustomed to succour those who are neither clever nor able to devise anything of themselves, and to lend them assistance, if they be not wicked, when they are in the last extremity of despair; such a thing, indeed, befell this emperor. For it was suddenly reported from Libya that the commanders of Attalus had been destroyed, and that a host of ships was at hand from Byzantium with a very great number of soldiers who had come to assist him, though he had not expected them, and that Alaric, having quarrelled with Attalus, had stripped him of the emperor's garb and was now keeping him under guard in the position of a private citizen. [411 A.D.] And afterwards Alaric died of disease, and the army of the Visigoths under the leadership of Adaulphus proceeded into Gaul, and Constantinus, defeated in battle, died with his sons. However the Romans never succeeded in recovering Britain, but it remained from that time on under tyrants. And the Goths, after making the crossing of the Ister, at first occupied Pannonia, but afterwards, since the emperor gave them the right, they inhabited the country of Thrace. And after spending no great time there they conquered the West. But this will be told in the narrative concerning the Goths.


III[edit]

Now the Vandals dwelling about the Maeotic Lake, since they were pressed by hunger, moved to the country of the Germans, who are now called Franks, and the river Rhine, associating with themselves the Alani, a Gothic people. Then from there, under the leadership of Godigisclus, they moved and settled in Spain, which is the first land of the Roman empire on the side of the ocean. At that time Honorius made an agreement with Godigisclus that they should settle there on condition that it should not be to the detriment of the country. But there was a law among the Romans, that if any persons should fail to keep their property in their own possession, and if, meanwhile, a time amounting to thirty years should pass, that these persons should thenceforth not be entitled to proceed against those who had forced them out, but they were excluded by demurrer[19] from access to the court; and in view of this he established a law that whatever time should be spent by the Vandals in the Roman domain should not by any means be counted toward this thirty-year demurrer. And Honorius himself, when the West had been driven by him to this pass, died of disease. [Aug. 27, 423 A.D.] Now before this, as it happened, the royal power had been shared by Honorius with Constantius, the husband of Placidia, the sister of Arcadius and Honorius; but he lived to exercise the power only a few days, and then, becoming seriously ill, he died while Honorius was still living, [421 A.D.] having never succeeded in saying or in doing anything worth recounting; for the time was not sufficient during which he lived in possession of the royal power. Now a son of this Constantius, Valentinian, a child just weaned, was being reared in the palace of Theodosius, but the members of the imperial court in Rome chose one of the soldiers there, John by name, as emperor. This man was both gentle and well-endowed with sagacity and thoroughly capable of valorous deeds. At any rate he held the tyranny five years[20] and directed it with moderation, and he neither gave ear to slanderers nor did he do any unjust murder, willingly at least, nor did he set his hand to robbing men of money; but he did not prove able to do anything at all against the barbarians, since his relations with Byzantium were hostile. Against this John, Theodosius, the son of Arcadius, sent a great army and Aspar and Ardaburius, the son of Aspar, as generals, and wrested from him the tyranny and gave over the royal power to Valentinian, who was still a child. And Valentinian took John alive, and he brought him out in the hippodrome of Aquileia with one of his hands cut off and caused him to ride in state on an ass, and then after he had suffered much ill treatment from the stage-performers there, both in word and in deed, he put him to death. [426 A.D.] Thus Valentinian took over the power of the West. But Placidia, his mother, had reared this emperor and educated him in an altogether effeminate manner, and in consequence he was filled with wickedness from childhood. For he associated mostly with sorcerers and those who busy themselves with the stars, and, being an extraordinarily zealous pursuer of love affairs with other men's wives, he conducted himself in a most indecent manner, although he was married to a woman of exceptional beauty. [455 A.D.] And not only was this true, but he also failed to recover for the empire anything of what had been wrested from it before, and he both lost Libya in addition to the territory previously lost and was himself destroyed. And when he perished, it fell to the lot of his wife and his children to become captives. Now the disaster in Libya came about as follows.

There were two Roman generals, Aetius and Boniface, especially valiant men and in experience of many wars inferior to none of that time at least. These two came to be at variance in regard to matters of state, but they attained to such a degree of highmindedness and excellence in every respect that if one should call either of them "the last of the Romans" he would not err, so true was it that all the excellent qualities of the Romans were summed up in these two men. One of these, Boniface, was appointed by Placidia general of all Libya. Now this was not in accord with the wishes of Aetius, but he by no means disclosed the fact that it did not please him. For their hostility had not as yet come to light, but was concealed behind the countenance of each. But when Boniface had got out of the way, Aetius slandered him to Placidia, saying that he was setting up a tyranny and had robbed her and the emperor of all Libya, and he said that it was very easy for her to find out the truth; for if she should summon Boniface to Rome, he would never come. And when the woman heard this, Aetius seemed to her to speak well and she acted accordingly. But Aetius, anticipating her, wrote to Boniface secretly that the mother of the emperor was plotting against him and wished to put him out of the way. And he predicted to him that there would be convincing proof of the plot; for he would be summoned very shortly for no reason at all. Such was the announcement of the letter. And Boniface did not disregard the message, for as soon as those arrived who were summoning him to the emperor, he refused to give heed to the emperor and his mother, disclosing to no one the warning of Aetius. So when Placidia heard this, she thought that Aetius was exceedingly well-disposed towards the emperor's cause and took under consideration the question of Boniface. But Boniface, since it did not seem to him that he was able to array himself against the emperor, and since if he returned to Rome there was clearly no safety for him, began to lay plans so that, if possible, he might have a defensive alliance with the Vandals, who, as previously stated, had established themselves in Spain not far from Libya. There Godigisclus had died and the royal power had fallen to his sons, Gontharis, who was born to him from his wedded wife, and Gizeric,[21] of illegitimate birth. But the former was still a child and not of very energetic temper, while Gizeric had been excellently trained in warfare, and was the cleverest of all men. Boniface accordingly sent to Spain those who were his own most intimate friends and gained the adherence of each of the sons of Godigisclus on terms of complete equality, it being agreed that each one of the three, holding a third part of Libya, should rule over his own subjects; but if a foe should come against any one of them to make war, that they should in common ward off the aggressors. On the basis of this agreement the Vandals crossed the strait at Gadira and came into Libya, and the Visigoths in later times settled in Spain. But in Rome the friends of Boniface, remembering the character of the man and considering how strange his action was, were greatly astonished to think that Boniface was setting up a tyranny, and some of them at the order of Placidia went to Carthage. There they met Boniface, and saw the letter of Aetius, and after hearing the whole story they returned to Rome as quickly as they could and reported to Placidia how Boniface stood in relation to her. And though the woman was dumbfounded, she did nothing unpleasant to Aetius nor did she upbraid him for what he had done to the emperor's house, for he himself wielded great power and the affairs of the empire were already in an evil plight; but she disclosed to the friends of Boniface the advice Aetius had given, and, offering oaths and pledges of safety, entreated them to persuade the man, if they could, to return to his fatherland and not to permit the empire of the Romans to lie under the hand of barbarians. And when Boniface heard this, he repented of his act and of his agreement with the barbarians, and he besought them incessantly, promising them everything, to remove from Libya. But since they did not receive his words with favour, but considered that they were being insulted, he was compelled to fight with them, and being defeated in the battle, he retired to Hippo[22] Regius, a strong city in the portion of Numidia that is on the sea. There the Vandals made camp under the leadership of Gizeric and began a siege; for Gontharis had already died. And they say that he perished at the hand of his brother. The Vandals, however, do not agree with those who make this statement, but say that Gontharis' was captured in battle by Germans in Spain and impaled, and that Gizeric was already sole ruler when he led the Vandals into Libya. This, indeed, I have heard from the Vandals, stated in this way. But after much time had passed by, since they were unable to secure Hippo Regius either by force or by surrender, and since at the same time they were being pressed by hunger, they raised the siege. And a little later Boniface and the Romans in Libya, since a numerous army had come from both Rome and Byzantium and Aspar with them as general, decided to renew the struggle, and a fierce battle was fought in which they were badly beaten by the enemy, and they made haste to flee as each one could. And Aspar betook himself homeward, and Boniface, coming before Placidia, acquitted himself of the suspicion, showing that it had arisen against him for no true cause.


IV[edit]

So the Vandals, having wrested Libya from the Romans in this way, made it their own. And those of the enemy whom they took alive they reduced to slavery and held under guard. Among these happened to be Marcian, who later upon the death of Theodosius assumed the imperial power. At that time, however, Gizeric commanded that the captives be brought into the king's courtyard, in order that it might be possible for him, by looking at them, to know what master each of them might serve without degradation. And when they were gathered under the open sky, about midday, the season being summer, they were distressed by the sun and sat down. And somewhere or other among them Marcian, quite neglected, was sleeping. Then an eagle flew over him spreading out his wings, as they say, and always remaining in the same place in the air he cast a shadow over Marcian alone. And Gizeric, upon seeing from the upper storey what was happening, since he was an exceedingly discerning person, suspected that the thing was a divine manifestation, and summoning the man enquired of him who he might be. And he replied that he was a confidential adviser of Aspar; such a person the Romans call a "domesticus" in their own tongue. And when Gizeric heard this and considered first the meaning of the bird's action, and then remembered how great power Aspar exercised in Byzantium, it became evident to him that the man was being led to royal power. He therefore by no means deemed it right to kill him, reasoning that, if he should remove him from the world, it would be very clear that the thing which the bird had done was nothing (for he would not honour with his shadow a king who was about to die straightway), and he felt, too, that he would be killing him for no good cause; and if, on the other hand, it was fated that in later times the man should become king, it would never be within his power to inflict death upon him; for that which has been decided upon by God could never be prevented by a man's decision. But he bound Marcian by oaths that, if it should be in his power, he would never take up arms against the Vandals at least. [450 A.D.] Thus, then, Marcian was released and came to Byzantium, and when at a later time Theodosius died he received the empire. And in all other respects he proved himself a good emperor, but he paid no attention at all to affairs in Libya. But this happened in later times.

At that time Gizeric, after conquering Aspar and Boniface in battle, displayed a foresight worth recounting, whereby he made his good fortune most thoroughly secure. For fearing lest, if once again an army should come against him from both Rome and Byzantium, the Vandals might not be able to use the same strength and enjoy the same fortune, (since human affairs are wont to be overturned by Heaven and to fail by reason of the weakness of men's bodies), he was not lifted up by the good fortune he had enjoyed, but rather became moderate because of what he feared, and so he made a treaty with the Emperor Valentinian providing that each year he should pay to the emperor tribute from Libya, and he delivered over one of his sons, Honoric, as a hostage to make this agreement binding. So Gizeric both showed himself a brave man in the battle and guarded the victory as securely as possible, and, since the friendship between the two peoples increased greatly, he received back his son Honoric. And at Rome Placidia had died before this time, and after her, Valentinian, her son, also died, having no male offspring, but two daughters had been born to him from Eudoxia, the child of Theodosius. And I shall now relate in what manner Valentinian died.

There was a certain Maximus, a Roman senator, of the house of that Maximus[23] who, while usurping the imperial power, was overthrown by the elder Theodosius and put to death, and on whose account also the Romans celebrate the annual festival named from the defeat of Maximus. This younger Maximus was married to a woman discreet in her ways and exceedingly famous for her beauty. For this reason a desire came over Valentinian to have her to wife. And since it was impossible, much as he wished it, to meet her, he plotted an unholy deed and carried it to fulfilment. For he summoned Maximus to the palace and sat down with him to a game of draughts, and a certain sum was set as a penalty for the loser; and the emperor won in this game, and receiving Maximus' ring as a pledge for the agreed amount, he sent it to his house, instructing the messenger to tell the wife of Maximus that her husband bade her come as quickly as possible to the palace to salute the queen Eudoxia. And she, judging by the ring that the message was from Maximus, entered her litter and was conveyed to the emperor's court. And she was received by those who had been assigned this service by the emperor, and led into a certain room far removed from the women's apartments, where Valentinian met her and forced her, much against her will. And she, after the outrage, went to her husband's house weeping and feeling the deepest possible grief because of her misfortune, and she cast many curses upon Maximus as having provided the cause for what had been done. Maximus, accordingly, became exceedingly aggrieved at that which had come to pass, and straightway entered into a conspiracy against the emperor; but when he saw that Aetius was exceedingly powerful, for he had recently conquered Attila, who had invaded the Roman domain with a great army of Massagetae and the other Scythians, the thought occurred to him that Aetius would be in the way of his undertaking. And upon considering this matter, it seemed to him that it was the better course to put Aetius out of the way first, paying no heed to the fact that the whole hope of the Romans centred in him. And since the eunuchs who were in attendance upon the emperor were well-disposed toward him, he persuaded the emperor by their devices that Aetius was setting on foot a revolution. And Valentinian, judging by nothing else than the power and valour of Aetius that the report was true, put the man to death. [Sept. 21, 454 A.D.] Whereupon a certain Roman made himself famous by a saying which he uttered. For when the emperor enquired of him whether he had done well in putting Aetius to death, he replied saying that, as to this matter, he was not able to know whether he had done well or perhaps otherwise, but one thing he understood exceedingly well, that he had cut off his own right hand with the other.

So after the death of Aetius,[24] Attila, since no one was a match for him, plundered all Europe with no trouble and made both emperors subservient and tributary to himself. For tribute money was sent to him every year by the emperors. At that time, while Attila was besieging Aquileia, a city of great size and exceedingly populous situated near the sea and above the Ionian Gulf, they say that the following good fortune befell him. For they tell the story that, when he was able to capture the place neither by force nor by any other means, he gave up the siege in despair, since it had already lasted a long time, and commanded the whole army without any delay to make their preparations for the departure, in order that on the morrow all might move from there at sunrise. And the following day about sunrise, the barbarians had raised the siege and were already beginning the departure, when a single male stork which had a nest on a certain tower of the city wall and was rearing his nestlings there suddenly rose and left the place with his young. And the father stork was flying, but the little storks, since they were not yet quite ready to fly, were at times sharing their father's flight and at times riding upon his back, and thus they flew off and went far away from the city. And when Attila saw this (for he was most clever at comprehending and interpreting all things), he commanded the army, they say, to remain still in the same place, adding that the bird would never have gone flying off at random from there with his nestlings, unless he was prophesying that some evil would come to the place at no distant time. Thus, they say, the army of the barbarians settled down to the siege once more, and not long after that a portion of the wall--the very part which held the nest of that bird--for no apparent reason suddenly fell down, and it became possible for the enemy to enter the city at that point, and thus Aquileia was captured by storm. Such is the story touching Aquileia.

Later on Maximus slew the emperor with no trouble and secured the tyranny, and he married Eudoxia by force. [455 A.D.] For the wife to whom he had been wedded had died not long before. And on one occasion in private he made the statement to Eudoxia that it was all for the sake of her love that he had carried out all that he had done. And since she felt a repulsion for Maximus even before that time, and had been desirous of exacting vengeance from him for the wrong done Valentinian, his words made her swell with rage still more against him, and led her on to carry out her plot, since she had heard Maximus say that on account of her the misfortune had befallen her husband. And as soon as day came, she sent to Carthage entreating Gizeric to avenge Valentinian, who had been destroyed by an unholy man, in a manner unworthy both of himself and of his imperial station, and to deliver her, since she was suffering unholy treatment at the hand of the tyrant. And she impressed it upon Gizeric that, since he was a friend and ally and so great a calamity had befallen the imperial house, it was not a holy thing to fail to become an avenger. For from Byzantium she thought no vengeance would come, since Theodosius had already departed from the world and Marcian had taken over the empire. [Mar. 17, 455 A.D.]


V[edit]

And Gizeric, for no other reason than that he suspected that much money would come to him, set sail for Italy with a great fleet. And going up to Rome, since no one stood in his way, he took possession of the palace. Now while Maximus was trying to flee, the Romans threw stones at him and killed him, and they cut off his head and each of his other members and divided them among themselves. But Gizeric took Eudoxia captive, together with Eudocia and Placidia, the children of herself and Valentinian, and placing an exceedingly great amount of gold and other imperial treasure[25] in his ships sailed to Carthage, having spared neither bronze nor anything else whatsoever in the palace. He plundered also the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, and tore off half of the roof. Now this roof was of bronze of the finest quality, and since gold was laid over it exceedingly thick, it shone as a magnificent and wonderful spectacle.[26] But of the ships with Gizeric, one, which was bearing the statues, was lost, they say, but with all the others the Vandals reached port in the harbour of Carthage. Gizeric then married Eudocia to Honoric, the elder of his sons; but the other of the two women, being the wife of Olybrius, a most distinguished man in the Roman senate, he sent to Byzantium together with her mother, Eudoxia, at the request of the emperor. Now the power of the East had by now fallen to Leon, who had been set in this position by Aspar, since Marcian had already passed from the world. [457 A.D.]

Afterwards Gizeric devised the following scheme. He tore down the walls of all the cities in Libya except Carthage, so that neither the Libyans themselves, espousing the cause of the Romans, might have a strong base from which to begin a rebellion, nor those sent by the emperor have any ground for hoping to capture a city and by establishing a garrison in it to make trouble for the Vandals. Now at that time it seemed that he had counselled well and had ensured prosperity for the Vandals in the safest possible manner; but in later times when these cities, being without walls, were captured by Belisarius all the more easily and with less exertion, Gizeric was then condemned to suffer much ridicule, and that which for the time he considered wise counsel turned out for him to be folly. For as fortunes change, men are always accustomed to change with them their judgments regarding what has been planned in the past. And among the Libyans all who happened to be men of note and conspicuous for their wealth he handed over as slaves, together with their estates and all their money, to his sons Honoric and Genzon. For Theodorus, the youngest son, had died already, being altogether without offspring, either male or female. And he robbed the rest of the Libyans of their estates, which were both very numerous and excellent, and distributed them among the nation of the Vandals, and as a result of this these lands have been called "Vandals' estates" up to the present time. And it fell to the lot of those who had formerly possessed these lands to be in extreme poverty and to be at the same time free men; and they had the privilege of going away wheresoever they wished. And Gizeric commanded that all the lands which he had given over to his sons and to the other Vandals should not be subject to any kind of taxation. But as much of the land as did not seem to him good he allowed to remain in the hands of the former owners, but assessed so large a sum to be paid on this land for taxes to the government that nothing whatever remained to those who retained their farms. And many of them were constantly being sent into exile or killed. For charges were brought against them of many sorts, and heavy ones too; but one charge seemed to be the greatest of all, that a man, having money of his own, was hiding it. Thus the Libyans were visited with every form of misfortune.

The Vandals and the Alani he arranged in companies, appointing over them no less than eighty captains, whom he called "chiliarchs,"[27] making it appear that his host of fighting men in active service amounted to eighty thousand. And yet the number of the Vandals and Alani was said in former times, at least, to amount to no more than fifty thousand men. However, after that time by their natural increase among themselves and by associating other barbarians with them they came to be an exceedingly numerous people. But the names of the Alani and all the other barbarians, except the Moors, were united in the name of Vandals. At that time, after the death of Valentinian, Gizeric gained the support of the Moors, and every year at the beginning of spring he made invasions into Sicily and Italy, enslaving some of the cities, razing others to the ground, and plundering everything; and when the land had become destitute of men and of money, he invaded the domain of the emperor of the East. And so he plundered Illyricum and the most of the Peloponnesus and of the rest of Greece and all the islands which lie near it. And again he went off to Sicily and Italy, and kept plundering and pillaging all places in turn. And one day when he had embarked on his ship in the harbour of Carthage, and the sails were already being spread, the pilot asked him, they say, against what men in the world he bade them go. And he in reply said: "Plainly against those with whom God is angry." Thus without any cause he kept making invasions wherever chance might lead him.


VI[edit]

And the Emperor Leon, wishing to punish the Vandals because of these things, was gathering an army against them; and they say that this army amounted to about one hundred thousand men. And he collected a fleet of ships from the whole of the eastern Mediterranean, shewing great generosity to both soldiers and sailors, for he feared lest from a parsimonious policy some obstacle might arise to hinder him in his desire to carry out his punishment of the barbarians. Therefore, they say, thirteen hundred centenaria[28] were expended by him to no purpose. But since it was not fated that the Vandals should be destroyed by this expedition, he made Basiliscus commander-in-chief, the brother of his wife Berine, a man who was extraordinarily desirous of the royal power, which he hoped would come to him without a struggle if he won the friendship of Aspar. For Aspar himself, being an adherent of the Arian faith, and having no intention of changing it for another, was unable to enter upon the imperial office, but he was easily strong enough to establish another in it, and it already seemed likely that he would plot against the Emperor Leon, who had given him offence. So they say that since Aspar was then fearful lest, if the Vandals were defeated, Leon should establish his power most securely, he repeatedly urged upon Basiliscus that he should spare the Vandals and Gizeric.

[467 A.D.] Now before this time Leon had already appointed and sent Anthemius, as Emperor of the West, a man of the senate of great wealth and high birth, in order that he might assist him in the Vandalic war. And yet Gizeric kept asking and earnestly entreating that the imperial power be given to Olybrius, who was married to Placidia, the daughter of Valentinian, and on account of his relationship[29] well-disposed toward him, and when he failed in this he was still more angry and kept plundering the whole land of the emperor. Now there was in Dalmatia a certain Marcellianus, one of the acquaintances of Aetius and a man of repute, who, after Aetius had died in the manner told above,[30] no longer deigned to yield obedience to the emperor, but beginning a revolution and detaching all the others from allegiance, held the power of Dalmatia himself, since no one dared encounter him. But the Emperor Leon at that time won over this Marcellianus by very careful wheedling, and bade him go to the island of Sardinia, which was then subject to the Vandals. And he drove out the Vandals and gained possession of it with no great difficulty. And Heracleius was sent from Byzantium to Tripolis in Libya, and after conquering the Vandals of that district in battle, he easily captured the cities, and leaving his ships there, led his army on foot toward Carthage. Such, then, was the sequence of events which formed the prelude of the war.

But Basiliscus with his whole fleet put in at a town distant from Carthage no less than two hundred and eighty stades (now it so happened that a temple of Hermes had been there from of old, from which fact the place was named Mercurium; for the Romans call Hermes "Mercurius"), and if he had not purposely played the coward and hesitated, but had undertaken to go straight for Carthage, he would have captured it at the first onset, and he would have reduced the Vandals to subjection without their even thinking of resistance; so overcome was Gizeric with awe of Leon as an invincible emperor, when the report was brought to him that Sardinia and Tripolis had been captured, and he saw the fleet of Basiliscus to be such as the Romans were said never to have had before. But, as it was, the general's hesitation, whether caused by cowardice or treachery, prevented this success. And Gizeric, profiting by the negligence of Basiliscus, did as follows. Arming all his subjects in the best way he could, he filled his ships, but not all, for some he kept in readiness empty, and they were the ships which sailed most swiftly. And sending envoys to Basiliscus, he begged him to defer the war for the space of five days, in order that in the meantime he might take counsel and do those things which were especially desired by the emperor. They say, too, that he sent also a great amount of gold without the knowledge of the army of Basiliscus and thus purchased this armistice. And he did this, thinking, as actually did happen, that a favouring wind would rise for him during this time. And Basiliscus, either as doing a favour to Aspar in accordance with what he had promised, or selling the moment of opportunity for money, or perhaps thinking it the better course, did as he was requested and remained quietly in the camp, awaiting the moment favourable to the enemy.

But the Vandals, as soon as the wind had arisen for them which they had been expecting during the time they lay at rest, raised their sails and, taking in tow the boats which, as has been stated above, they had made ready with no men in them, they sailed against the enemy. And when they came near, they set fire to the boats which they were towing, when their sails were bellied by the wind, and let them go against the Roman fleet. And since there were a great number of ships there, these boats easily spread fire wherever they struck, and were themselves readily destroyed together with those with which they came in contact. And as the fire advanced in this way the Roman fleet was filled with tumult, as was natural, and with a great din that rivalled the noise caused by the wind and the roaring of the flames, as the soldiers together with the sailors shouted orders to one another and pushed off with their poles the fire-boats and their own ships as well, which were being destroyed by one another in complete disorder. And already the Vandals too were at hand ramming and sinking the ships, and making booty of such of the soldiers as attempted to escape, and of their arms as well. But there were also some of the Romans who proved themselves brave men in this struggle, and most of all John, who was a general under Basiliscus and who had no share whatever in his treason. For a great throng having surrounded his ship, he stood on the deck, and turning from side to side kept killing very great numbers of the enemy from there, and when he perceived that the ship was being captured, he leaped with his whole equipment of arms from the deck into the sea. And though Genzon, the son of Gizeric, entreated him earnestly not to do this, offering pledges and holding out promises of safety, he nevertheless threw himself into the sea, uttering this one word, that John would never come under the hands of dogs.

So this war came to an end, and Heracleius departed for home; for Marcellianus had been destroyed treacherously by one of his fellow-officers. And Basiliscus, coming to Byzantium, seated himself as a suppliant in the sanctuary of Christ the Great God ("Sophia"[31] the temple is called by the men of Byzantium who consider that this designation is especially appropriate to God), and although, by the intercession of Berine, the queen, he escaped this danger, he was not able at that time to reach the throne, the thing for the sake of which everything had been done by him. For the Emperor Leon not long afterwards destroyed both Aspar and Ardaburius in the palace, because he suspected that they were plotting against his life. [471 A.D.] Thus, then, did these events take place.


VII[edit]

[Aug. 11, 472 A.D.] Now Anthemius, the emperor of the West, died at the hand of his son-in-law Rhecimer, and Olybrius, succeeding to the throne, a short time afterward suffered the same fate. [Oct. 10, 472 A.D.] And when Leon also had died in Byzantium, the imperial office was taken over by the younger Leon, the son of Zeno and Ariadne, the daughter of Leon, while he was still only a few days old. And his father having been chosen as partner in the royal power, the child forthwith passed from the world. [474 A.D.] Majorinus also deserves mention, who had gained the power of the West before this time. For this Majorinus, who surpassed in every virtue all who have ever been emperors of the Romans, did not bear lightly the loss of Libya, but collected a very considerable army against the Vandals and came to Liguria, intending himself to lead the army against the enemy. For Majorinus never showed the least hesitation before any task and least of all before the dangers of war. But thinking it not inexpedient for him to investigate first the strength of the Vandals and the character of Gizeric and to discover how the Moors and Libyans stood with regard to friendship or hostility toward the Romans, he decided to trust no eyes other than his own in such a matter. Accordingly he set out as if an envoy from the emperor to Gizeric, assuming some fictitious name. And fearing lest, by becoming known, he should himself receive some harm and at the same time prevent the success of the enterprise, he devised the following scheme. His hair, which was famous among all men as being so fair as to resemble pure gold, he anointed with some kind of dye, which was especially invented for this purpose, and so succeeded completely in changing it for the time to a dark hue. And when he came before Gizeric, the barbarian attempted in many ways to terrify him, and in particular, while treating him with engaging attention, as if a friend, he brought him into the house where all his weapons were stored, a numerous and exceedingly noteworthy array. Thereupon they say that the weapons shook of their own accord and gave forth a sound of no ordinary or casual sort, and then it seemed to Gizeric that there had been an earthquake, but when he got outside and made enquiries concerning the earthquake, since no one else agreed with him, a great wonder, they say, came over him, but he was not able to comprehend the meaning of what had happened. So Majorinus, having accomplished the very things he wished, returned to Liguria, and leading his army on foot, came to the Pillars of Heracles, purposing to cross over the strait at that point, and then to march by land from there against Carthage. And when Gizeric became aware of this, and perceived that he had been tricked by Majorinus in the matter of the embassy, he became alarmed and made his preparations for war. And the Romans, basing their confidence on the valour of Majorinus, already began to have fair hopes of recovering Libya for the empire. [461 A.D.] But meantime Majorinus was attacked by the disease of dysentery and died, a man who had shewn himself moderate toward his subjects, and an object of fear to his enemies. [July 24, 474 A.D.] And another emperor, Nepos, upon taking over the empire, and living to enjoy it only a few days, died of disease, and Glycerius after him entered into this office and suffered a similar fate. [474-475 A.D.] And after him Augustus assumed the imperial power. There were, moreover, still other emperors in the West before this time, but though I know their names well, I shall make no mention of them whatever. For it so fell out that they lived only a short time after attaining the office, and as a result of this accomplished nothing worthy of mention. Such was the course of events in the West.

But in Byzantium Basiliscus, being no longer able to master his passion for royal power, made an attempt to usurp the throne, and succeeded without difficulty, since Zeno, together with his wife, sought refuge in Isauria, which was his native home. [471 A.D.] And while he was maintaining his tyranny for a year and eight months he was detested by practically everyone and in particular by the soldiers of the court on account of the greatness of his avarice. And Zeno, perceiving this, collected an army and came against him. And Basiliscus sent an army under the general Harmatus in order to array himself against Zeno. But when they had made camp near one another, Harmatus surrendered his army to Zeno, on the condition that Zeno should appoint as Caesar Harmatus' son Basiliscus, who was a very young child, and leave him as successor to the throne upon his death. And Basiliscus, deserted by all, fled for refuge to the same sanctuary as formerly. And Acacius, the priest of the city, put him into the hands of Zeno, charging him with impiety and with having brought great confusion and many innovations into the Christian doctrine, having inclined toward the heresy of Eutyches. And this was so. And after Zeno had thus taken over the empire a second time, he carried out his pledge to Harmatus formally by appointing his son Basiliscus Caesar, but not long afterwards he both stripped him of the office and put Harmatus to death. And he sent Basiliscus together with his children and his wife into Cappadocia in the winter season, commanding that they should be destitute of food and clothes and every kind of care. And there, being hard pressed by both cold and hunger, they took refuge in one another's arms, and embracing their loved ones, perished. And this punishment overtook Basiliscus for the policy he had pursued. These things, however, happened in later times.

But at that time Gizeric was plundering the whole Roman domain just as much as before, if not more, circumventing his enemy by craft and driving them out of their possessions by force, as has been previously said, and he continued to do so until the emperor Zeno came to an agreement with him and an endless peace was established between them, by which it was provided that the Vandals should never in all time perform any hostile act against the Romans nor suffer such a thing at their hands. And this peace was preserved by Zeno himself and also by his successor in the empire, Anastasius And it remained in force until the time of the emperor Justinus. But Justinian, who was the nephew of Justinus, succeeded him in the imperial power, and it was in the reign of this Justinian that the war with which we are concerned came to pass, in the manner which will be told in the following narrative. [477 A.D.] Gizeric, after living on a short time, died at an advanced age, having made a will in which he enjoined many things upon the Vandals and in particular that the royal power among them should always fall to that one who should be the first in years among all the male offspring descended from Gizeric himself. So Gizeric, having ruled over the Vandals thirty-nine years from the time when he captured Carthage, died, as I have said.


VIII[edit]

And Honoric, the eldest of his sons, succeeded to the throne, Genzon having already departed from the world. During the time when this Honoric ruled the Vandals they had no war against anyone at all, except the Moors. For through fear of Gizeric the Moors had remained quiet before that time, but as soon as he was out of their way they both did much harm to the Vandals and suffered the same themselves. And Honoric shewed himself the most cruel and unjust of all men toward the Christians in Libya. For he forced them to change over to the Arian faith, and as many as he found not readily yielding to him he burned, or destroyed by other forms of death; and he also cut off the tongues of many from the very throat, who even up to my time were going about in Byzantium having their speech uninjured, and perceiving not the least effect from this punishment; but two of these, since they saw fit to go in to harlots, were thenceforth no longer able to speak. And after ruling over the Vandals eight years he died of disease; and by that time the Moors dwelling on Mt. Aurasium[32] had revolted from the Vandals and were independent (this Aurasium is a mountain of Numidia, about thirteen days' journey distant from Carthage and fronting the south); and indeed they never came under the Vandals again, since the latter were unable to carry on a war against Moors on a mountain difficult of access and exceedingly steep.

After the death of Honoric the rule of the Vandals fell to Gundamundus, the son of Genzon, the son of Gizeric. [485 A.D.] For he, in point of years, was the first of the offspring of Gizeric. This Gundamundus fought against the Moors in numerous encounters, and after subjecting the Christians to still greater suffering, he died of disease, being now at about the middle of the twelfth year of his reign. [496 A.D.] And his brother Trasamundus took over the kingdom, a man well-favoured in appearance and especially gifted with discretion and highmindedness. However he continued to force the Christians to change their ancestral faith, not by torturing their bodies as his predecessors had done, but by seeking to win them with honours and offices and presenting them with great sums of money; and in the case of those who would not be persuaded, he pretended he had not the least knowledge of what manner of men they were.[33] And if he caught any guilty of great crimes which they had committed either by accident or deliberate intent, he would offer such men, as a reward for changing their faith, that they should not be punished for their offences. And when his wife died without becoming the mother of either male or female offspring, wishing to establish the kingdom as securely as possible, he sent to Theoderic, the king of the Goths, asking him to give him his sister Amalafrida to wife, for her husband had just died. And Theoderic sent him not only his sister but also a thousand of the notable Goths as a bodyguard, who were followed by a host of attendants amounting to about five thousand fighting men. And Theoderic also presented his sister with one of the promontories of Sicily, which are three in number,--the one which they call Lilybaeum,--and as a result of this Trasamundus was accounted the strongest and most powerful of all those who had ruled over the Vandals. He became also a very special friend of the emperor Anastasius. It was during the reign of Trasamundus that it came about that the Vandals suffered a disaster at the hands of the Moors such as had never befallen them before that time.

There was a certain Cabaon ruling over the Moors of Tripolis, a man experienced in many wars and exceedingly shrewd. This Cabaon, upon learning that the Vandals were marching against him, did as follows. First of all he issued orders to his subjects to abstain from all injustice and from all foods tending towards luxury and most of all from association with women; and setting up two palisaded enclosures, he encamped himself with all the men in one, and in the other he shut the women, and he threatened that death would be the penalty if anyone should go to the women's palisade. And after this he sent spies to Carthage with the following instructions: whenever the Vandals in going forth on the expedition should offer insult to any temple which the Christians reverence, they were to look on and see what took place; and when the Vandals had passed the place, they were to do the opposite of everything which the Vandals had done to the sanctuary before their departure. And they say that he added this also, that he was ignorant of the God whom the Christians worshipped, but it was probable that if He was powerful, as He was said to be, He should wreak vengeance upon those who insulted Him and defend those who honoured Him. So the spies came to Carthage and waited quietly, observing the preparation of the Vandals; but when the army set out on the march to Tripolis, they followed, clothing themselves in humble garb. And the Vandals, upon making camp the first day, led their horses and their other animals into the temples of the Christians, and sparing no insult, they acted with all the unrestrained lawlessness natural to them, beating as many priests as they caught and lashing them with many blows over the back and commanding them to render such service to the Vandals as they were accustomed to assign to the most dishonoured of their domestics. And as soon as they had departed from there, the spies of Cabaon did as they had been directed to do; for they straightway cleansed the sanctuaries and took away with great care the filth and whatever other unholy thing lay in them, and they lighted all the lamps and bowed down before the priests with great reverence and saluted them with all friendliness; and after giving pieces of silver to the poor who sat about these sanctuaries, they then followed after the army of the Vandals. And from then on along the whole route the Vandals continued to commit the same offences and the spies to render the same service. And when they were coming near the Moors, the spies anticipated them and reported to Cabaon what had been done by the Vandals and by themselves to the temples of the Christians, and that the enemy were somewhere near by. And Cabaon, upon learning this, arranged for the encounter as follows. He marked off a circle in the plain where he was about to make his palisade, and placed his camels turned sideways in a circle as a protection for the camp, making his line fronting the enemy about twelve camels deep. Then he placed the children and the women and all those who were unfit for fighting together with their possessions in the middle, while he commanded the host of fighting men to stand between the feet of those animals, covering themselves with their shields.[34] And since the phalanx of the Moors was of such a sort, the Vandals were at a loss how to handle the situation; for they were neither good with the javelin nor with the bow, nor did they know how to go into battle on foot, but they were all horsemen, and used spears and swords for the most part, so that they were unable to do the enemy any harm at a distance; and their horses, annoyed at the sight of the camels, refused absolutely to be driven against the enemy. And since the Moors, by hurling javelins in great numbers among them from their safe position, kept killing both their horses and men without difficulty, because they were a vast throng, they began to flee, and, when the Moors came out against them, the most of them were destroyed, while some fell into the hands of the enemy; and an exceedingly small number from this army returned home. Such was the fortune which Trasamundus suffered at the hands of the Moors. And he died at a later time, having ruled over the Moors twenty-seven years.


IX[edit]

[523 A.D.] And Ilderic, the son of Honoric, the son of Gizeric, next received the kingdom, a ruler who was easily approached by his subjects and altogether gentle, and he shewed himself harsh neither to the Christians nor to anyone else, but in regard to affairs of war he was a weakling and did not wish this thing even to come to his ears. Hoamer, accordingly, his nephew and an able warrior, led the armies against any with whom the Vandals were at war; he it was whom they called the Achilles of the Vandals. During the reign of this Ilderic the Vandals were defeated in Byzacium by the Moors, who were ruled by Antalas, and it so fell out that they became enemies instead of allies and friends to Theoderic and the Goths in Italy. For they put Amalafrida in prison and destroyed all the Goths, charging them with revolutionary designs against the Vandals and Ilderic. However, no revenge came from Theoderic, for he considered himself unable to gather a great fleet and make an expedition into Libya, and Ilderic was a very particular friend and guest-friend of Justinian, who had not yet come to the throne, but was administering the government according to his pleasure; for his uncle Justinus, who was emperor, was very old and not altogether experienced in matters of state. And Ilderic and Justinian made large presents of money to each other.

Now there was a certain man in the family of Gizeric, Gelimer, the son of Geilaris, the son of Genzon, the son of Gizeric, who was of such age as to be second only to Ilderic, and for this reason he was expected to come into the kingdom very soon. This man was thought to be the best warrior of his time, but for the rest he was a cunning fellow and base at heart and well versed in undertaking revolutionary enterprises and in laying hold upon the money of others. Now this Gelimer, when he saw the power coming to him, was not able to live in his accustomed way, but assumed to himself the tasks of a king and usurped the rule, though it was not yet due him; and since Ilderic in a spirit of friendliness gave in to him, he was no longer able to restrain his thoughts, but allying with himself all the noblest of the Vandals, he persuaded them to wrest the kingdom from Ilderic, as being an unwarlike king who had been defeated by the Moors, and as betraying the power of the Vandals into the hand of the Emperor Justinus, in order that the kingdom might not come to him, because he was of the other branch of the family; for he asserted slanderously that this was the meaning of Ilderic's embassy to Byzantium, and that he was giving over the empire of the Vandals to Justinus. And they, being persuaded, carried out this plan. [530 A.D.] Thus Gelimer seized the supreme power, and imprisoned Ilderic, after he had ruled over the Vandals seven years, and also Hoamer and his brother Euagees.

[527 A.D.] But when Justinian heard these things, having already received the imperial power, he sent envoys to Gelimer in Libya with the following letter: "You are not acting in a holy manner nor worthily of the will of Gizeric, keeping in prison an old man and a kinsman and the king of the Vandals (if the counsels of Gizeric are to be of effect), and robbing him of his office by violence, though it would be possible for you to receive it after a short time in a lawful manner. Do you therefore do no further wrong and do not exchange the name of king for the title of tyrant, which comes but a short time earlier. But as for this man, whose death may be expected at any moment, allow him to bear in appearance the form of royal power, while you do all the things which it is proper that a king should do; and wait until you can receive from time and the law of Gizeric, and from them alone, the name which belongs to the position. For if you do this, the attitude of the Almighty will be favourable and at the same time our relations with you will be friendly." Such was his message. But Gelimer sent the envoys away with nothing accomplished, and he blinded Hoamer and also kept Ilderic and Euagees in closer confinement, charging them with planning flight to Byzantium. And when this too was heard by the Emperor Justinian, he sent envoys a second time and wrote as follows: "We, indeed, supposed that you would never go contrary to our advice when we wrote you the former letter. But since it pleases you to have secured possession of the royal power in the manner in which you have taken and now hold it, get from it whatever Heaven grants. But do you send to us Ilderic, and Hoamer whom you have blinded, and his brother, to receive what comfort they can who have been robbed of a kingdom or of sight; for we shall not let the matter rest if you do not do this. And I speak thus because we are led by the hope which I had based on our friendship. And the treaty with Gizeric will not stand as an obstacle for us. For it is not to make war upon him who has succeeded to the kingdom of Gizeric that we come, but to avenge Gizeric with all our power."

When Gelimer had read this, he replied as follows: "King Gelimer to the Emperor Justinian. Neither have I taken the office by violence nor has anything unholy been done by me to my kinsmen. For Ilderic, while planning a revolution against the house of Gizeric, was dethroned by the nation of the Vandals; and I was called to the kingdom by my years, which gave me the preference, according to the law at least. Now it is well for one to administer the kingly office which belongs to him and not to make the concerns of others his own. Hence for you also, who have a kingdom, meddling in other's affairs is not just; and if you break the treaty and come against us, we shall oppose you with all our power, calling to witness the oaths which were sworn by Zeno, from whom you have received the kingdom which you hold." The Emperor Justinian, upon receiving this letter, having been angry with Gelimer even before then, was still more eager to punish him. And it seemed to him best to put an end to the Persian war as soon as possible and then to make an expedition to Libya; and since he was quick at forming a plan and prompt in carrying out his decisions, Belisarius, the General of the East, was summoned and came to him immediately, no announcement having been made to him nor to anyone else that he was about to lead an army against Libya, but it was given out that he had been removed from the office which he held. And straightway the treaty with Persia was made, as has been told in the preceding narrative.[35]


X[edit]

And when the Emperor Justinian considered that the situation was as favourable as possible, both as to domestic affairs and as to his relations with Persia, he took under consideration the situation in Libya. But when he disclosed to the magistrates that he was gathering an army against the Vandals and Gelimer, the most of them began immediately to show hostility to the plan, and they lamented it as a misfortune, recalling the expedition of the Emperor Leon and the disaster of Basiliscus, and reciting how many soldiers had perished and how much money the state had lost. But the men who were the most sorrowful of all, and who, by reason of their anxiety, felt the keenest regret, were the pretorian prefect, whom the Romans call "praetor," and the administrator of the treasury, and all to whom had been assigned the collection of either public or imperial[36] taxes, for they reasoned that while it would be necessary for them to produce countless sums for the needs of the war, they would be granted neither pardon in case of failure nor extension of time in which to raise these sums. And every one of the generals, supposing that he himself would command the army, was in terror and dread at the greatness of the danger, if it should be necessary for him, if he were preserved from the perils of the sea, to encamp in the enemy's land, and, using his ships as a base, to engage in a struggle against a kingdom both large and formidable. The soldiers, also, having recently returned from a long, hard war, and having not yet tasted to the full the blessings of home, were in despair, both because they were being led into sea-fighting,--a thing which they had not learned even from tradition before then,--and because they were sent from the eastern frontier to the West, in order to risk their lives against Vandals and Moors. But all the rest, as usually happens in a great throng, wished to be spectators of new adventures while others faced the dangers.

But as for saying anything to the emperor to prevent the expedition, no one dared to do this except John the Cappadocian, the pretorian prefect, a man of the greatest daring and the cleverest of all men of his time. For this John, while all the others were bewailing in silence the fortune which was upon them, came before the emperor and spoke as follows: "O Emperor, the good faith which thou dost shew in dealing with thy subjects enables us to speak frankly regarding anything which will be of advantage to thy government, even though what is said and done may not be agreeable to thee. For thus does thy wisdom temper thy authority with justice, in that thou dost not consider that man only as loyal to thy cause who serves thee under any and all conditions, nor art thou angry with the man who speaks against thee, but by weighing all things by pure reason alone, thou hast often shewn that it involves us in no danger to oppose thy purposes. Led by these considerations, O Emperor, I have come to offer this advice, knowing that, though I shall give perhaps offence at the moment, if it so chance, yet in the future the loyalty which I bear you will be made clear, and that for this I shall be able to shew thee as a witness. For if, through not hearkening to my words, thou shalt carry out the war against the Vandals, it will come about, if the struggle is prolonged for thee, that my advice will win renown. For if thou hast confidence that thou wilt conquer the enemy, it is not at all unreasonable that thou shouldst sacrifice the lives of men and expend a vast amount of treasure, and undergo the difficulties of the struggle; for victory, coming at the end, covers up all the calamities of war. But if in reality these things lie on the knees of God, and if it behoves us, taking example from what has happened in the past, to fear the outcome of war, on what grounds is it not better to love a state of quiet rather than the dangers of mortal strife? Thou art purposing to make an expedition against Carthage, to which, if one goes by land, the journey is one of a hundred and forty days, and if one goes by water, he is forced to cross the whole open sea and go to its very end. So that he who brings thee news of what will happen in the camp must needs reach thee a year after the event. And one might add that if thou art victorious over thy enemy, thou couldst not take possession of Libya while Sicily and Italy lie in the hands of others; and at the same time, if any reverse befall thee, O Emperor, the treaty having already been broken by thee, thou wilt bring the danger upon our own land. In fact, putting all in a word, it will not be possible for thee to reap the fruits of victory, and at the same time any reversal of fortune will bring harm to what is well established. It is before an enterprise that wise planning is useful. For when men have failed, repentance is of no avail, but before disaster comes there is no danger in altering plans. Therefore it will be of advantage above all else to make fitting use of the decisive moment."

Thus spoke John; and the Emperor Justinian, hearkening to his words, checked his eager desire for the war. But one of the priests whom they call bishops, who had come from the East, said that he wished to have a word with the emperor. And when he met Justinian, he said that God had visited him in a dream, and bidden him go to the emperor and rebuke him, because, after undertaking the task of protecting the Christians in Libya from tyrants, he had for no good reason become afraid. "And yet," He had said, "I will Myself join with him in waging war and make him lord of Libya." When the emperor heard this, he was no longer able to restrain his purpose, and he began to collect the army and the ships, and to make ready supplies of weapons and of food, and he announced to Belisarius that he should be in readiness, because he was very soon to act as general in Libya. Meanwhile Pudentius, one of the natives of Tripolis in Libya, caused this district to revolt from the Vandals, and sending to the emperor he begged that he should despatch an army to him; for, he said, he would with no trouble win the land for the emperor. And Justinian sent him Tattimuth and an army of no very great size. This force Pudentius joined with his own troops and, the Vandals being absent, he gained possession of the land and made it subject to the emperor. And Gelimer, though wishing to inflict punishment upon Pudentius, found the following obstacle in his way.

There was a certain Godas among the slaves of Gelimer, a Goth by birth, a passionate and energetic fellow possessed of great bodily strength, but appearing to be well-disposed to the cause of his master. To this Godas Gelimer entrusted the island of Sardinia, in order both to guard the island and to pay over the annual tribute. But he neither could digest the prosperity brought by fortune nor had he the spirit to endure it, and so he undertook to establish a tyranny, and he refused to continue the payment of the tribute, and actually detached the island from the Vandals and held it himself. And when he perceived that the Emperor Justinian was eager to make war against Libya and Gelimer, he wrote to him as follows:

"It was neither because I yielded to folly nor because I had suffered anything unpleasant at my master's hands that I turned my thoughts towards rebellion, but seeing the extreme cruelty of the man both toward his kinsmen and toward his subjects, I could not, willingly at least, be reputed to have a share in his inhumanity. For it is better to serve a just king than a tyrant whose commands are unlawful. But do thou join with me to assist in this my effort and send soldiers so that I may be able to ward off my assailants."

And the emperor, on receiving this letter, was pleased, and he sent Eulogius as envoy and wrote a letter praising Godas for his wisdom and his zeal for justice, and he promised an alliance and soldiers and a general, who would be able to guard the island with him and to assist him in every other way, so that no trouble should come to him from the Vandals. But Eulogius, upon coming to Sardinia, found that Godas was assuming the name and wearing the dress of a king and that he had attached a body-guard to his person. And when Godas read the emperor's letter, he said that it was his wish to have soldiers, indeed, come to fight along with him, but as for a commander, he had absolutely no desire for one. And having written to the emperor in this sense, he dismissed Eulogius.


XI[edit]

The emperor, meanwhile, not having yet ascertained these things, was preparing four hundred soldiers with Cyril as commander, who were to assist Godas in guarding the island. And with them he also had in readiness the expedition against Carthage, ten thousand foot-soldiers, and five thousand horsemen, gathered from the regular troops and from the "foederati." Now at an earlier time only barbarians were enlisted among the foederati, those, namely, who had come into the Roman political system, not in the condition of slaves, since they had not been conquered by the Romans, but on the basis of complete equality.[37] For the Romans call treaties with their enemies "foedera." But at the present time there is nothing to prevent anyone from assuming this name, since time will by no means consent to keep names attached to the things to which they were formerly applied, but conditions are ever changing about according to the desire of men who control them, and men pay little heed to the meaning which they originally attached to a name. And the commanders of the foederati were Dorotheus, the general of the troops in Armenia, and Solomon, who was acting as manager for the general Belisarius; (such a person the Romans call "domesticus." Now this Solomon was a eunuch, but it was not by the devising of man that he had suffered mutilation, but some accident which befell him while in swaddling clothes had imposed this lot upon him); and there were also Cyprian, Valerian, Martinus, Althias, John, Marcellus, and the Cyril whom I have mentioned above; and the commanders of the regular cavalry were Rufinus and Aïgan, who were of the house of Belisarius, and Barbatus and Pappus, while the regular infantry was commanded by Theodorus, who was surnamed Cteanus, and Terentius, Zaïdus, Marcian, and Sarapis. And a certain John, a native of Epidamnus, which is now called Dyrrachium, held supreme command over all the leaders of infantry. Among all these commanders Solomon was from a place in the East, at the very extremity of the Roman domain, where the city called Daras now stands, and Aïgan was by birth of the Massagetae whom they now call Huns; and the rest were almost all inhabitants of the land of Thrace. And there followed with them also four hundred Eruli, whom Pharas led, and about six hundred barbarian allies from the nation of the Massagetae, all mounted bowmen; these were led by Sinnion and Balas, men endowed with bravery and endurance in the highest degree. And for the whole force five hundred ships were required, no one of which was able to carry more than fifty thousand medimni,[38] nor any one less than three thousand. And in all the vessels together there were thirty thousand sailors, Egyptians and Ionians for the most part, and Cilicians, and one commander was appointed over all the ships, Calonymus of Alexandria. And they had also ships of war prepared as for sea-fighting, to the number of ninety-two, and they were single-banked ships covered by decks, in order that the men rowing them might if possible not be exposed to the bolts of the enemy. Such boats are called "dromones"[39] by those of the present time; for they are able to attain a great speed. In these sailed two thousand men of Byzantium, who were all rowers as well as fighting men; for there was not a single superfluous man among them. And Archelaus was also sent, a man of patrician standing who had already been pretorian prefect both in Byzantium and in Illyricum, but he then held the position of prefect of the army; for thus the officer charged with the maintenance of the army is designated. But as general with supreme authority over all the emperor sent Belisarius, who was in command of the troops of the East for the second time. And he was followed by many spearmen and many guards as well, men who were capable warriors and thoroughly experienced in the dangers of fighting. And the emperor gave him written instructions, bidding him do everything as seemed best to him, and stating that his acts would be final, as if the emperor himself had done them. The writing, in fact, gave him the power of a king. Now Belisarius was a native of Germania, which lies between Thrace and Illyricum. These things, then, took place in this way.

Gelimer, however, being deprived of Tripolis by Pudentius and of Sardinia by Godas, scarcely hoped to regain Tripolis, since it was situated at a great distance and the rebels were already being assisted by the Romans, against whom just at that moment it seemed to him best not to take the field; but he was eager to get to the island before any army sent by the emperor to fight for his enemies should arrive there. He accordingly selected five thousand of the Vandals and one hundred and twenty ships of the fastest kind, and appointing as general his brother Tzazon, he sent them off. And so they were sailing with great enthusiasm and eagerness against Godas and Sardinia. In the meantime the Emperor Justinian was sending off Valerian and Martinus in advance of the others in order to await the rest of the army in the Peloponnesus. And when these two had embarked upon their ships, it came to the emperor's mind that there was something which he wished to enjoin upon them,--a thing which he had wished to say previously, but he had been so busied with the other matters of which he had to speak that his mind had been occupied with them and this subject had been driven out. He summoned them, accordingly, intending to say what he wished, but upon considering the matter, he saw that it would not be propitious for them to interrupt their journey. He therefore sent men to forbid them either to return to him or to disembark from their ships. And these men, upon coming near the ships, commanded them with much shouting and loud cries by no means to turn back, and it seemed to those present that the thing which had happened was no good omen and that never would one of the men in those ships return from Libya to Byzantium. For besides the omen they suspected that a curse also had come to the men from the emperor, not at all by his own will, so that they would not return. Now if anyone should so interpret the incident with regard to these two commanders, Valerian and Martinus, he will find the original opinion untrue. But there was a certain man among the body-guards of Martinus, Stotzas by name, who was destined to be an enemy of the emperor, to make an attempt to set up a tyranny, and by no means to return to Byzantium, and one might suppose that curse to have been turned upon him by Heaven. But whether this matter stands thus or otherwise, I leave to each one to reason out as he wishes. But I shall proceed to tell how the general Belisarius and the army departed.


XII[edit]

[533 A.D.] In the seventh year of Justinian's reign, at about the spring equinox, the emperor commanded the general's ship to anchor off the point which is before the royal palace. Thither came also Epiphanius, the chief priest of the city, and after uttering an appropriate prayer, he put on the ships one of the soldiers who had lately been baptized and had taken the Christian name. And after this the general Belisarius and Antonina, his wife, set sail. And there was with them also Procopius, who wrote this history; now previously he had been exceedingly terrified at the danger, but later he had seen a vision in his sleep which caused him to take courage and made him eager to go on the expedition. For it seemed in the dream that he was in the house of Belisarius, and one of the servants entering announced that some men had come bearing gifts; and Belisarius bade him investigate what sort of gifts they were, and he went out into the court and saw men who carried on their shoulders earth with the flowers and all. And he bade him bring these men into the house and deposit the earth they were carrying in the portico; and Belisarius together with his guardsmen came there, and he himself reclined on that earth and ate of the flowers, and urged the others to do likewise; and as they reclined and ate, as if upon a couch, the food seemed to them exceedingly sweet. Such, then, was the vision of the dream.

And the whole fleet followed the general's ship, and they put in at Perinthus, which is now called Heracleia,[40] where five days' time was spent by the army, since at that place the general received as a present from the emperor an exceedingly great number of horses from the royal pastures, which are kept for him in the territory of Thrace. And setting sail from there, they anchored off Abydus, and it came about as they were delaying there four days on account of the lack of wind that the following event took place. Two Massagetae killed one of their comrades who was ridiculing them, in the midst of their intemperate drinking; for they were intoxicated. For of all men the Massagetae are the most intemperate drinkers. Belisarius, accordingly, straightway impaled these two men on the hill which is near Abydus. And since all, and especially the relatives of these two men, were angry and declared that it was not in order to be punished nor to be subject to the laws of the Romans that they had entered into an alliance (for their own laws did not make the punishment for murder such _as_ this, they said); and since they were joined in voicing the accusation against the general even by Roman soldiers, who were anxious that there should be no punishment for their offences, Belisarius called together both the Massagetae and the rest of the army and spoke as follows: "If my words were addressed to men now for the first time entering into war, it would require a long time for me to convince you by speech how great a help justice is for gaining the victory. For those who do not understand the fortunes of such struggles think that the outcome of war lies in strength of arm alone. But you, who have often conquered an enemy not inferior to you in strength of body and well endowed with valour, you who have often tried your strength against your opponents, you, I think, are not ignorant that, while it is men who always do the fighting in either army, it is God who judges the contest as seems best to Him and bestows the victory in battle. Now since this is so, it is fitting to consider good bodily condition and practice in arms and all the other provision for war of less account than justice and those things which pertain to God. For that which may possibly be of greatest advantage to men in need would naturally be honoured by them above all other things. Now the first proof of justice would be the punishment of those who have committed unjust murder. For if it is incumbent upon us to sit in judgment upon the actions which from time to time are committed by men toward their neighbours, and to adjudge and to name the just and the unjust action, we should find that nothing is more precious to a man than his life. And if any barbarian who has slain his kinsman expects to find indulgence in his trial on the ground that he was drunk, in all fairness he makes the charge so much the worse by reason of the very circumstance by which, as he alleges, his guilt is removed. For it is not right for a man under any circumstances, and especially when serving in an army, to be so drunk as readily to kill his dearest friends; nay, the drunkenness itself, even if the murder is not added at all, is worthy of punishment; and when a kinsman is wronged, the crime would clearly be of greater moment as regards punishment than when committed against those who are not kinsmen, at least in the eyes of men of sense. Now the example is before you and you may see what sort of an outcome such actions have. But as for you, it is your duty to avoid laying violent hands upon anyone without provocation, or carrying off the possessions of others; for I shall not overlook it, be assured, and I shall not consider anyone of you a fellow-soldier of mine, no matter how terrible he is reputed to be to the foe, who is not able to use clean hands against the enemy. For bravery cannot be victorious unless it be arrayed along with justice." So spoke Belisarius. And the whole army, hearing what was said and looking up at the two men impaled, felt an overwhelming fear come over them and took thought to conduct their lives with moderation, for they saw that they would not be free from great danger if they should be caught doing anything unlawful.


XIII[edit]

After this Belisarius bethought him how his whole fleet should always keep together as it sailed and should anchor in the same place. For he knew that in a large fleet, and especially if rough winds should assail them, it was inevitable that many of the ships should be left behind and scattered on the open sea, and that their pilots should not know which of the ships that put to sea ahead of them it was better to follow. So after considering the matter, he did as follows. The sails of the three ships in which he and his following were carried he painted red from the upper corner for about one third of their length, and he erected upright poles on the prow of each, and hung lights from them, so that both by day and by night the general's ships might be distinguishable; then he commanded all the pilots to follow these ships. Thus with the three ships leading the whole fleet not a single ship was left behind. And whenever they were about to put out from a harbour, the trumpets announced this to them.

And upon setting out from Abydus they met with strong winds which carried them to Sigeum. And again in calm weather they proceeded more leisurely to Malea, where the calm proved of the greatest advantage to them. For since they had a great fleet and exceedingly large ships, as night came on everything was thrown into confusion by reason of their being crowded into small space, and they were brought into extreme peril. At that time both the pilots and the rest of the sailors shewed themselves skilful and efficient, for while shouting at the top of their voices and making a great noise they kept pushing the ships apart with their poles, and cleverly kept the distances between their different vessels; but if a wind had arisen, whether a following or a head wind, it seems to me that the sailors would hardly have preserved themselves and their ships. But as it was, they escaped, as I have said, and put in at Taenarum, which is now called Caenopolis.[41] Then, pressing on from there, they touched at Methone, and found Valerian and Martinus with their men, who had reached the same place a short time before. And since there were no winds blowing, Belisarius anchored the ships there, and disembarked the whole army; and after they were on shore he assigned the commanders their positions and drew up the soldiers. And while he was thus engaged and no wind at all arose, it came about that many of the soldiers were destroyed by disease caused in the following manner.

The pretorian prefect, John, was a man of worthless character, and so skilful at devising ways of bringing money into the public treasury to the detriment of men that I, for my part, should never be competent to describe this trait of his. But this has been said in the preceding pages, when I was brought to this point by my narrative.[42] But I shall tell in the present case in what manner he destroyed the soldiers. The bread which soldiers are destined to eat in camp must of necessity be put twice into the oven, and be cooked so carefully as to last for a very long period and not spoil in a short time, and loaves cooked in this way necessarily weigh less; and for this reason, when such bread is distributed, the soldiers generally received as their portion one-fourth more than the usual weight.[43] John, therefore, calculating how he might reduce the amount of firewood used and have less to pay to the bakers in wages, and also how he might not lose in the weight of the bread, brought the still uncooked dough to the public baths of Achilles, in the basement of which the fire is kept burning, and bade his men set it down there. And when it seemed to be cooked in some fashion or other, he threw it into bags, put it on the ships, and sent it off. And when the fleet arrived at Methone, the loaves disintegrated and returned again to flour, not wholesome flour, however, but rotten and becoming mouldy and already giving out a sort of oppressive odour. And the loaves were dispensed by measure[44] to the soldiers by those to whom this office was assigned, and they were already making the distribution of the bread by quarts and bushels. And the soldiers, feeding upon this in the summer time in a place where the climate is very hot, became sick, and not less than five hundred of them died; and the same thing was about to happen to more, but Belisarius prevented it by ordering the bread of the country to be furnished them. And reporting the matter to the emperor, he himself gained in favour, but he did not at that time bring any punishment upon John.

These events, then, took place in the manner described. And setting out from Methone they reached the harbour of Zacynthus, where they took in enough water to last them in crossing the Adriatic Sea, and after making all their other preparations, sailed on. But since the wind they had was very gentle and languid, it was only on the sixteenth day that they came to land at a deserted place in Sicily near which Mount Aetna rises. And while they were being delayed in this passage, as has been said, it so happened that the water of the whole fleet was spoiled, except that which Belisarius himself and his table-companions were drinking. For this alone was preserved by the wife of Belisarius in the following manner. She filled with water jars made of glass and constructed a small room with planks in the hold of the ship where it was impossible for the sun to penetrate, and there she sank the jars in sand, and by this means the water remained unaffected. So much, then, for this.


XIV[edit]

And as soon as Belisarius had disembarked upon the island, he began to feel restless, knowing not how to proceed, and his mind was tormented by the thought that he did not know what sort of men the Vandals were against whom he was going, and how strong they were in war, or in what manner the Romans would have to wage the war, or what place would be their base of operations. But most of all he was disturbed by the soldiers, who were in mortal dread of sea-fighting and had no shame in saying beforehand that, if they should be disembarked on the land, they would try to show themselves brave men in the battle, but if hostile ships assailed them, they would turn to flight; for, they said, they were not able to contend against two enemies at once, both men and water. Being at a loss, therefore, because of all these things, he sent Procopius, his adviser, to Syracuse, to find out whether the enemy had any ships in ambush keeping watch over the passage across the sea, either on the island or on the continent, and where it would be best for them to anchor in Libya, and from what point as base it would be advantageous for them to start in carrying on the war against the Vandals. And he bade him, when he should have accomplished his commands, return and meet him at the place called Caucana,[45] about two hundred stades distant from Syracuse, where both he and the whole fleet were to anchor. But he let it be understood that he was sending him to buy provisions, since the Goths were willing to give them a market, this having been decided upon by the Emperor Justinian and Amalasountha, the mother of Antalaric,[46] who was at that time a boy being reared under the care of his mother, Amalasountha, and held sway over both the Goths and the Italians. For when Theoderic had died and the kingdom came to his nephew, Antalaric, who had already before this lost his father, Amalasountha was fearful both for her child and for the kingdom and cultivated the friendship of Justinian very carefully, and she gave heed to his commands in all matters and at that time promised to provide a market for his army and did so.

Now when Procopius reached Syracuse, he unexpectedly met a man who had been a fellow-citizen and friend of his from childhood, who had been living in Syracuse for a long time engaged in the shipping business, and he learned from him what he wanted; for this man showed him a domestic who had three days before that very day come from Carthage, and he said that they need not suspect that there would be any ambush set for the fleet by the Vandals. For from no one in the world had they learned that an army was coming against them at that time, but all the active men among the Vandals had actually a little before gone on an expedition against Godas. And for this reason Gelimer, with no thought of an enemy in his mind and regardless of Carthage and all the other places on the sea, was staying in Hermione, which is in Byzacium, four days' journey distant from the coast; so that it was possible for them to sail without fearing any difficulty and to anchor wherever the wind should call them. When Procopius heard this, he took the hand of the domestic and walked to the harbour of Arethousa where his boat lay at anchor, making many enquiries of the man and searching out every detail. And going on board the ship with him, he gave orders to raise the sails and to make all speed for Caucana. And since the master of the domestic stood on the shore wondering that he did not give him back the man, Procopius shouted out, when the ship was already under way, begging him not to be angry with him; for it was necessary that the domestic should meet the general, and, after leading the army to Libya, would return after no long time to Syracuse with much money in his pocket.

But upon coming to Caucana they found all in deep grief. For Dorotheus, the general of the troops of Armenia, had died there, leaving to the whole army a great sense of loss. But Belisarius, when the domestic had come before him and related his whole story, became exceedingly glad, and after bestowing many praises upon Procopius, he issued orders to give the signal for departure with the trumpets. And setting sail quickly they touched at the islands of Gaulus and Melita,[47] which mark the boundary between the Adriatic and Tuscan Seas. There a strong east wind arose for them, and on the following day it carried the ships to the point of Libya, at the place which the Romans call in their own tongue "Shoal's Head." For its name is "Caputvada," and it is five days' journey from Carthage for an unencumbered traveller.


XV[edit]

And when they came near the shore, the general bade them furl the sails, throw out anchors from the ships, and make a halt; and calling together all the commanders to his own ship, he opened a discussion with regard to the disembarkation. Thereupon many speeches were made inclining to either side, and Archelaus came forward and spoke as follows:

"I admire, indeed, the virtue of our general, who, while surpassing all by far in judgment and possessing the greatest wealth of experience, and at the same time holding the power alone, has proposed an open discussion and bids each one of us speak, so that we shall be able to choose whichever course seems best, though it is possible for him to decide alone on what is needful and at his leisure to put it into execution as he wishes. But as for you, my fellow officers--I do not know how I am to say it easily--one might wonder that each one did not hasten to be the first to oppose the disembarkation. And yet I understand that the making of suggestions to those who are entering upon a perilous course brings no personal advantage to him who offers the advice, but as a general thing results in bringing blame upon him. For when things go well for men, they attribute their success to their own judgment or to fortune, but when they fail, they blame only the one who has advised them. Nevertheless I shall speak out. For it is not right for those who deliberate about safety to shrink from blame. You are purposing to disembark on the enemy's land, fellow-officers; but in what harbour are you planning to place the ships in safety? Or in what city's wall will you find security for yourselves? Have you not then heard that this promontory--I mean from Carthage to Iouce--extends, they say, for a journey of nine days, altogether without harbours and lying open to the wind from whatever quarter it may blow? And not a single walled town is left in all Libya except Carthage, thanks to the decision of Gizeric.[48] And one might add that in this place, they say, water is entirely lacking. Come now, if you wish, let us suppose that some adversity befall us, and with this in view make the decision. For that those who enter into contests of arms should expect no difficulty is not in keeping with human experience nor with the nature of things. If, then, after we have disembarked upon the mainland, a storm should fall upon us, will it not be necessary that one of two things befall the ships, either that they flee away as far as possible, or perish upon this promontory? Secondly, what means will there be of supplying us with necessities? Let no one look to me as the officer charged with the maintenance of the army. For every official, when deprived of the means of administering his office, is of necessity reduced to the name and character of a private person. And where shall we deposit our superfluous arms or any other part of our necessaries when we are compelled to receive the attack of the barbarians? Nay, as for this, it is not well even to say how it will turn out. But I think that we ought to make straight for Carthage. For they say that there is a harbour called Stagnum not more than forty stades distant from that city, which is entirely unguarded and large enough for the whole fleet. And if we make this the base of our operations, we shall carry on the war without difficulty. And I, for my part, think it likely that we shall win Carthage by a sudden attack, especially since the enemy are far away from it, and that after we have won it we shall have no further trouble. For it is a way with all men's undertakings that when the chief point has been captured, they collapse after no long time. It behoves us, therefore, to bear in mind all these things and to choose the best course." So spoke Archelaus.

And Belisarius spoke as follows: "Let no one of you, fellow-officers, think that my words are those of censure, nor that they are spoken in the last place to the end that it may become necessary for all to follow them, of whatever sort they may be. For I have heard what seems best to each one of you, and it is becoming that I too should lay before you what I think, and then with you should choose the better course. But it is right to remind you of this fact, that the soldiers said openly a little earlier that they feared the dangers by sea and would turn to flight if a hostile ship should attack them, and we prayed God to shew us the land of Libya and allow us a peaceful disembarkation upon it. And since this is so, I think it the part of foolish men first to pray to receive from God the more favourable fortune, then when this is given them, to reject it and go in the contrary direction. And if we do sail straight for Carthage and a hostile fleet encounters us, the soldiers will remain without blame, if they flee with all their might--for a delinquency announced beforehand carries with it its own defence--but for us, even if we come through safely, there will be no forgiveness. Now while there are many difficulties if we remain in the ships, it will be sufficient, I think, to mention only one thing,--that by which especially they wish to frighten us when they hold over our heads the danger of a storm. For if any storm should fall upon us, one of two things, they say, must necessarily befall the ships, either that they flee far from Libya or be destroyed upon this headland. What then under the present circumstances will be more to our advantage to choose? to have the ships alone destroyed, or to have lost everything, men and all? But apart from this, at the present time we shall fall upon the enemy unprepared, and in all probability shall fare as we desire; for in warfare it is the unexpected which is accustomed to govern the course of events. But a little later, when the enemy have already made their preparation, the struggle we shall have will be one of strength evenly matched. And one might add that it will be necessary perhaps to fight even for the disembarkation, and to seek for that which now we have within our grasp but over which we are deliberating as a thing not necessary. And if at the very time, when we are engaged in conflict, a storm also comes upon us, as often happens on the sea, then while struggling both against the waves and against the Vandals, we shall come to regret our prudence. As for me, then, I say that we must disembark upon the land with all possible speed, landing horses and arms and whatever else we consider necessary for our use, and that we must dig a trench quickly and throw a stockade around us of a kind which can contribute to our safety no less than any walled town one might mention, and with that as our base must carry on the war from there if anyone should attack us. And if we shew ourselves brave men, we shall lack nothing in the way of provisions. For those who hold the mastery over their enemy are lords also of the enemy's possessions; and it is the way of victory, first to invest herself with all the wealth, and then to set it down again on that side to which she inclines. Therefore, for you both the chance of safety and of having an abundance of good things lies in your own hands."

When Belisarius had said this, the whole assembly agreed and adopted his proposal, and separating from one another, they made the disembarkation as quickly as possible, about three months later than their departure from Byzantium. And indicating a certain spot on the shore the general bade both soldiers and sailors dig the trench and place the stockade about it. And they did as directed. And since a great throng was working and fear was stimulating their enthusiasm and the general was urging them on, not only was the trench dug on the same day, but the stockade was also completed and the pointed stakes were fixed in place all around. Then, indeed, while they were digging the trench, something happened which was altogether amazing. A great abundance of water sprang forth from the earth, a thing which had not happened before in Byzacium, and besides this the place where they were was altogether waterless. Now this water sufficed for all uses of both men and animals. And in congratulating the general, Procopius said that he rejoiced at the abundance of water, not so much because of its usefulness, as because it seemed to him a symbol of an easy victory, and that Heaven was foretelling a victory to them. This, at any rate, actually came to pass. So for that night all the soldiers bivouacked in the camp, setting guards and doing everything else as was customary, except, indeed, that Belisarius commanded five bowmen to remain in each ship for the purpose of a guard, and that the ships-of-war should anchor in a circle about them, taking care that no one should come against them to do them harm.


XVI[edit]

But on the following day, when some of the soldiers went out into the fields and laid hands on the fruit, the general inflicted corporal punishment of no casual sort upon them, and he called all the army together and spoke as follows: "This using of violence and the eating of that which belongs to others seems at other times a wicked thing only on this account, that injustice is in the deed itself, as the saying is; but in the present instance so great an element of detriment is added to the wrongdoing that--if it is not too harsh to say so--we must consider the question of justice of less account and calculate the magnitude of the danger that may arise from your act. For I have disembarked you upon this land basing my confidence on this alone, that the Libyans, being Romans from of old, are unfaithful and hostile to the Vandals, and for this reason I thought that no necessaries would fail us and, besides, that the enemy would not do us any injury by a sudden attack. But now this your lack of self-control has changed it all and made the opposite true. For you have doubtless reconciled the Libyans to the Vandals, bringing their hostility round upon your own selves. For by nature those who are wronged feel enmity toward those who have done them violence, and it has come round to this that you have exchanged your own safety and a bountiful supply of good things for some few pieces of silver, when it was possible for you, by purchasing provisions from willing owners, not to appear unjust and at the same time to enjoy their friendship to the utmost. Now, therefore, the war will be between you and both Vandals and Libyans, and I, at least, say further that it will be against God himself, whose aid no one who does wrong can invoke. But do you cease trespassing wantonly upon the possessions of others, and reject a gain which is full of dangers. For this is that time in which above all others moderation is able to save, but lawlessness leads to death. For if you give heed to these things, you will find God propitious, the Libyan people well-disposed, and the race of the Vandals open to your attack."

With these words Belisarius dismissed the assembly. And at that time he heard that the city of Syllectus was distant one day's journey from the camp, lying close to the sea on the road leading to Carthage, and that the wall of this city had been torn down for a long time, but the inhabitants of the place had made a barrier on all sides by means of the walls of their houses, on account of the attacks of the Moors, and guarded a kind of fortified enclosure; he, accordingly, sent one of his spearmen, Boriades, together with some of the guards, commanding them to make an attempt oh the city, and, if they captured it, to do no harm in it, but to promise a thousand good things and to say that they had come for the sake of the people's freedom, that so the army might be able to enter into it. And they came near the city about dusk and passed the night hidden in a ravine. But at early dawn, meeting country folk going into the city with waggons, they entered quietly with them and with no trouble took possession of the city. And when day came, no one having begun any disturbance, they called together the priest and all the other notables and announced the commands of the general, and receiving the keys of the entrances from willing hands, they sent them to the general.

On the same day the overseer of the public post deserted, handing over all the government horses. And they captured also one of those who are occasionally sent to bear the royal responses, whom they call "veredarii"[49]; and the general did him no harm but presented him with much gold and, receiving pledges from him, put into his hand the letter which the Emperor Justinian had written to the Vandals, that he might give it to the magistrates of the Vandals. And the writing was as follows: "Neither have we decided to make war upon the Vandals, nor are we breaking the treaty of Gizeric, but we are attempting to dethrone your tyrant, who, making light of the testament of Gizeric, has imprisoned your king and is keeping him in custody, and those of his relatives whom he hated exceedingly he put to death at the first, and the rest, after robbing them of their sight, he keeps under guard, not allowing them to terminate their misfortunes by death. Do you, therefore, join forces with us and help us in freeing yourselves from so wicked a tyranny, in order that you may be able to enjoy both peace and freedom. For we give you pledges in the name of God that these things will come to you by our hand." Such was the message of the emperor's letter. But the man who received this from Belisarius did not dare to publish it openly, and though he shewed it secretly to his friends, he accomplished nothing whatever of consequence.


XVII[edit]

And Belisarius, having arrayed his army as for battle in the following manner, began the march to Carthage. He chose out three hundred of his guards, men who were able warriors, and handed them over to John, who was in charge of the expenditures of the general's household; such a person the Romans call "optio."[50] And he was an Armenian by birth, a man gifted with discretion and courage in the highest degree. This John, then, he commanded to go ahead of the army, at a distance of not less than twenty stades, and if he should see anything of the enemy, to report it with all speed, so that they might not be compelled to enter into battle unprepared. And the allied Massagetae he commanded to travel constantly on the left of the army, keeping as many stades away or more; and he himself marched in the rear with the best troops. For he suspected that it would not be long before Gelimer, following them from Hermione, would make an attack upon them. And these precautions were sufficient, for on the right side there was no fear, since they were travelling not far from the coast. And he commanded the sailors to follow along with them always and not to separate themselves far from the army, but when the wind was favouring to lower the great sails, and follow with the small sails, which they call "dolones,"[51] and when the wind dropped altogether to keep the ships under way as well as they could by rowing.

And when Belisarius reached Syllectus, the soldiers behaved with moderation, and they neither began any unjust brawls nor did anything out of the way, and he himself, by displaying great gentleness and kindness, won the Libyans to his side so completely that thereafter he made the journey as if in his own land; for neither did the inhabitants of the land withdraw nor did they wish to conceal anything, but they both furnished a market and served the soldiers in whatever else they wished. And accomplishing eighty stades each day, we completed the whole journey to Carthage, passing the night either in a city, should it so happen, or in a camp made as thoroughly secure as the circumstances permitted. Thus we passed through the city of Leptis and Hadrumetum and reached the place called Grasse, three hundred and fifty stades distant from Carthage. In that place was a palace of the ruler of the Vandals and a park the most beautiful of all we know. For it is excellently watered by springs and has a great wealth of woods. And all the trees are full of fruit; so that each one of the soldiers pitched his tent among fruit-trees, and though all of them ate their fill of the fruit, which was then ripe, there was practically no diminution to be seen in the fruit.

But Gelimer, as soon as he heard in Hermione that the enemy were at hand, wrote to his brother Ammatas in Carthage to kill Ilderic and all the others, connected with him either by birth or otherwise, whom he was keeping under guard, and commanded him to make ready the Vandals and all others in the city serviceable for war, in order that, when the enemy got inside the narrow passage at the suburb of the city which they call Decimum,[52] they might come together from both sides and surround them and, catching them as in a net, destroy them. And Ammatas carried this out, and killed Ilderic, who was a relative of his, and Euagees, and all the Libyans who were intimate with them. For Hoamer had already departed from the world.[53] And arming the Vandals, he made them ready, intending to make his attack at the opportune moment. But Gelimer was following behind, without letting it be known to us, except, indeed, that, on that night when we bivouacked in Grasse, scouts coming from both armies met each other, and after an exchange of blows they each retired to their own camp, and in this way it became evident to us that the enemy were not far away. As we proceeded from there it was impossible to discern the ships. For high rocks extending well into the sea cause mariners to make a great circuit, and there is a projecting headland,[54] inside of which lies the town of Hermes. Belisarius therefore commanded Archelaus, the prefect, and Calonymus, the admiral, not to put in at Carthage, but to remain about two hundred stades away until he himself should summon them. And departing from Grasse we came on the fourth day to Decimum, seventy stades distant from Carthage.


XVIII[edit]

And on that day Gelimer commanded his nephew Gibamundus with two thousand of the Vandals to go ahead of the rest of the army on the left side, in order that Ammatas coming from Carthage, Gelimer himself from the rear, and Gibamundus from the country to the left, might unite and accomplish the task of encircling the enemy with less difficulty and exertion. But as for me, during this struggle I was moved to wonder at the ways of Heaven and of men, noting how God, who sees from afar what will come to pass, traces out the manner in which it seems best to him that things should come to pass, while men, whether they are deceived or counsel aright, know not that they have failed, should that be the issue, or that they have succeeded, God's purpose being that a path shall be made for Fortune, who presses on inevitably toward that which has been foreordained. For if Belisarius had not thus arranged his forces, commanding the men under John to take the lead, and the Massagetae to march on the left of the army, we should never have been able to escape the Vandals. And even with this planned so by Belisarius, if Ammatas had observed the opportune time, and had not anticipated this by about the fourth part of a day, never would the cause of the Vandals have fallen as it did; but as it was, Ammatas came to Decimum about midday, in advance of the time, while both we and the Vandal army were far away, erring not only in that he did not arrive at the fitting time, but also in leaving at Carthage the host of the Vandals, commanding them to come to Decimum as quickly as possible, while he with a few men and not even the pick of the army came into conflict with John's men. And he killed twelve of the best men who were fighting in the front rank, and he himself fell, having shewn himself a brave man in this engagement. And the rout, after Ammatas fell, became complete, and the Vandals, fleeing at top speed, swept back all those who were coming from Carthage to Decimum. For they were advancing in no order and not drawn up as for battle, but in companies, and small ones at that; for they were coming in bands of twenty or thirty. And seeing the Vandals under Ammatas fleeing, and thinking their pursuers were a great multitude, they turned and joined in the flight. And John and his men, killing all whom they came upon, advanced as far as the gates of Carthage. And there was so great a slaughter of Vandals in the course of the seventy stades that those who beheld it would have supposed that it was the work of an enemy twenty thousand strong.

At the same time Gibamundus and his two thousand came to Pedion Halon, which is forty stades distant from Decimum on the left as one goes to Carthage, and is destitute of human habitation or trees or anything else, since the salt in the water permits nothing except salt to be produced there; in that place they encountered the Huns and were all destroyed. Now there was a certain man among the Massagetae, well gifted with courage and strength of body, the leader of a few men; this man had the privilege handed down from his fathers and ancestors to be the first in all the Hunnic armies to attack the enemy. For it was not lawful for a man of the Massagetae to strike first in battle and capture one of the enemy until, indeed, someone from this house began the struggle with the enemy. So when the two armies had come not far from each other, this man rode out and stopped alone close to the army of the Vandals. And the Vandals, either because they were dumbfounded at the courageous spirit of the man or perhaps because they suspected that the enemy were contriving something against them, decided neither to move nor to shoot at the man. And I think that, since they had never had experience of battle with the Massagetae, but heard that the nation was very warlike, they were for this reason terrified at the danger. And the man, returning to his compatriots, said that God had sent them these strangers as a ready feast. Then at length they made their onset and the Vandals did not withstand them, but breaking their ranks and never thinking of resistance, they were all disgracefully destroyed.


XIX[edit]

But we, having learned nothing at all of what had happened, were going on to Decimum. And Belisarius, seeing a place well adapted for a camp, thirty-five stades distant from Decimum, surrounded it with a stockade which was very well made, and placing all the infantry there and calling together the whole army, he spoke as follows: "Fellow-soldiers, the decisive moment of the struggle is already at hand; for I perceive that the enemy are advancing upon us; and the ships have been taken far away from us by the nature of the place; and it has come round to this that our hope of safety lies in the strength of our hands. For there is not a friendly city, no, nor any other stronghold, in which we may put our trust and have confidence concerning ourselves. But if we should show ourselves brave men, it is probable that we shall still overcome the enemy in the war; but if we should weaken at all, it will remain for us to fall under the hand of the Vandals and to be destroyed disgracefully. And yet there are many advantages on our side to help us on toward victory; for we have with us both justice, with which we have come against our enemy (for we are here in order to recover what is our own), and the hatred of the Vandals toward their own tyrant. For the alliance of God follows naturally those who put justice forward, and a soldier who is ill-disposed toward his ruler knows not how to play the part of a brave man. And apart from this, we have been engaged with Persians and Scythians all the time, but the Vandals, since the time they conquered Libya, have seen not a single enemy except naked Moors. And who does not know that in every work practice leads to skill, while idleness leads to inefficiency? Now the stockade, from which we shall have to carry on the war, has been made by us in the best possible manner. And we are able to deposit here our weapons and everything else which we are not able to carry when we go forth; and when we return here again, no kind of provisions can fail us. And I pray that each one of you, calling to mind his own valour and those whom he has left at home, may so march with contempt against the enemy."

After speaking these words and uttering a prayer after them, Belisarius left his wife and the barricaded camp to the infantry, and himself set forth with all the horsemen. For it did not seem to him advantageous for the present to risk an engagement with the whole army, but it seemed wise to skirmish first with the horsemen and make trial of the enemy's strength, and finally to fight a decisive battle with the whole army. Sending forward, therefore, the commanders of the foederati,[55] he himself followed with the rest of the force and his own spearmen and guards. And when the foederati and their leaders reached Decimum, they saw the corpses of the fallen--twelve comrades from the forces of John and near them Ammatas and some of the Vandals. And hearing from the inhabitants of the place the whole story of the fight, they were vexed, being at a loss as to where they ought to go. But while they were still at a loss and from the hills were looking around over the whole country thereabouts, a dust appeared from the south and a little later a very large force of Vandal horsemen. And they sent to Belisarius urging him to come as quickly as possible, since the enemy were bearing down upon them. And the opinions of the commanders were divided. For some thought that they ought to close with their assailants, but the others said that their force was not sufficient for this. And while they were debating thus among themselves, the barbarians drew near under the leadership of Gelimer, who was following a road between the one which Belisarius was travelling and the one by which the Massagetae who had encountered Gibamundus had come. But since the land was hilly on both sides, it did not allow him to see either the disaster of Gibamundus or Belisarius' stockade, nor even the road along which Belisarius' men were advancing. But when they came near each other, a contest arose between the two armies as to which should capture the highest of all the hills there. For it seemed a suitable one to encamp upon, and both sides preferred to engage with the enemy from there. And the Vandals, coming first, took possession of the hill by crowding off their assailants and routed the enemy, having already become an object of terror to them. And the Romans in flight came to a place seven stades distant from Decimum, where, as it happened, Uliaris, the personal guard of Belisarius, was, with eight hundred guardsmen. And all supposed that Uliaris would receive them and hold his position, and together with them would go against the Vandals; but when they came together, these troops all unexpectedly fled at top speed and went on the run to Belisarius.

From then on I am unable to say what happened to Gelimer that, having the victory in his hands, he willingly gave it up to the enemy, unless one ought to refer foolish actions also to God, who, whenever He purposes that some adversity shall befall a man, touches first his reason and does not permit that which will be to his advantage to come to his consideration. For if, on the one hand, he had made the pursuit immediately, I do not think that even Belisarius would have withstood him, but our cause would have been utterly and completely lost, so numerous appeared the force of the Vandals and so great the fear they inspired in the Romans; or if, on the other hand, he had even ridden straight for Carthage, he would easily have killed all John's men, who, heedless of everything else, were wandering about the plain one by one or by twos and stripping the dead. And he would have preserved the city with its treasures, and captured our ships, which had come rather near, and he would have withdrawn from us all hope both of sailing away and of victory. But in fact he did neither of these things. Instead he descended from the hill at a walk, and when he reached the level ground and saw the corpse of his brother, he turned to lamentations, and, in caring for his burial, he blunted the edge of his opportunity--an opportunity which he was not able to grasp again. Meantime Belisarius, meeting the fugitives, bade them stop, and arrayed them all in order and rebuked them at length; then, after hearing of the death of Ammatas and the pursuit of John, and learning what he wished concerning the place and the enemy, he proceeded at full speed against Gelimer and the Vandals. But the barbarians, having already fallen into disorder and being now unprepared, did not withstand the onset of the Romans, but fled with all their might, losing many there, and the battle ended at night. Now the Vandals were in flight, not to Carthage nor to Byzacium, whence they had come, but to the plain of Boulla and the road leading into Numidia. So the men with John and the Massagetae returned to us about dusk, and after learning all that had happened and reporting what they had done, they passed the night with us in Decimum.


XX[edit]

But on the following day the infantry with the wife of Belisarius came up and we all proceeded together on the road toward Carthage, which we reached in the late evening; and we passed the night in the open, although no one hindered us from marching into the city at once. For the Carthaginians opened the gates and burned lights everywhere and the city was brilliant with the illumination that whole night, and those of the Vandals who had been left behind were sitting as suppliants in the sanctuaries. But Belisarius prevented the entrance in order to guard against any ambuscade being set for his men by the enemy, and also to prevent the soldiers from having freedom to turn to plundering, as they might under the concealment of night. On that day, since an east wind arose for them, the ships reached the headland, and the Carthaginians, for they already sighted them, removed the iron chains of the harbour which they call Mandracium, and made it possible for the fleet to enter. Now there is in the king's palace a room filled with darkness, which the Carthaginians call Ancon, where all were cast with whom the tyrant was angry. In that place, as it happened, many of the eastern merchants had been confined up to that time. For Gelimer was angry with these men, charging them with having urged the emperor on to the war, and they were about to be destroyed, all of them, this having been decided upon by Gelimer on that day on which Ammatas was killed in Decimum; to such an extremity of danger did they come. The guard of this prison, upon hearing what had taken place in Decimum and seeing the fleet inside the point, entered the room and enquired of the men, who had not yet learned the good news, but were sitting in the darkness and expecting death, what among their possessions they would be willing to give up and be saved. And when they said they desired to give everything he might wish, he demanded nothing of all their treasures, but required them all to swear that, if they escaped, they would assist him also with all their power when he came into danger. And they did this. Then he told them them the whole story, and tearing off a plank from the side toward the sea, he pointed out the fleet approaching, and releasing all from the prison went out with them.

But the men on the ships, having as yet heard nothing of what the army had done on the land, were completely at a loss, and slackening their sails they sent to the town of Mercurium; there they learned what had taken place at Decimum, and becoming exceedingly joyful sailed on. And when, with a favouring wind blowing, they came to within one hundred and fifty stades of Carthage, Archelaus and the soldiers bade them anchor there, fearing the warning of the general, but the sailors would not obey. For they said that the promontory at that point was without a harbour and also that the indications were that a well-known storm, which the natives call Cypriana, would arise immediately. And they predicted that, if it came upon them in that place, they would not be able to save even one of the ships. And it was as they said. So they slackened their sails for a short time and deliberated; and they did not think they ought to try for Mandracium (for they shrank from violating the commands of Belisarius, and at the same time they suspected that the entrance to Mandracium was closed by the chains, and besides they feared that this harbour was not sufficient for the whole fleet) but Stagnum seemed to them well situated (for it is forty stades distant from Carthage), and there was nothing in it to hinder them, and also it was large enough for the whole fleet. There they arrived about dusk and all anchored, except, indeed, that Calonymus with some of the sailors, disregarding the general and all the others, went off secretly to Mandracium, no one daring to hinder him, and plundered the property of the merchants dwelling on the sea, both foreigners and Carthaginians.

On the following day Belisarius commanded those on the ships to disembark, and after marshalling the whole army and drawing it up in battle formation, he marched into Carthage; for he feared lest he should encounter some snare set by the enemy. There he reminded the soldiers at length of how much good fortune had come to them because they had displayed moderation toward the Libyans, and he exhorted them earnestly to preserve good order with the greatest care in Carthage. For all the Libyans had been Romans in earlier times and had come under the Vandals by no will of their own and had suffered many outrages at the hands of these barbarians. For this very reason the emperor had entered into war with the Vandals, and it was not holy that any harm should come from them to the people whose freedom they had made the ground for taking the field against the Vandals. [Sept. 15, 533 A.D.] After such words of exhortation he entered Carthage, and, since no enemy was seen by them, he went up to the palace and seated himself on Gelimer's throne. There a crowd of merchants and other Carthaginians came before Belisarius with much shouting, persons whose homes were on the sea, and they made the charge that there had been a robbery of their property on the preceding night by the sailors. And Belisarius bound Calonymus by oaths to bring without fail all his thefts to the light. And Calonymus, taking the oath and disregarding what he had sworn, for the moment made the money his plunder, but not long afterwards he paid his just penalty in Byzantium. For being taken with the disease called apoplexy, he became insane and bit off his own tongue and then died. But this happened at a later time.


XXI[edit]

But then, since the hour was appropriate, Belisarius commanded that lunch be prepared for them, in the very place where Gelimer was accustomed to entertain the leaders of the Vandals. This place the Romans call "Delphix," not in their own tongue, but using the Greek word according to the ancient custom. For in the palace at Rome, where the dining couches of the emperor were placed, a tripod had stood from olden times, on which the emperor's cupbearers used to place the cups. Now the Romans call a tripod "Delphix," since they were first made at Delphi, and from this both in Byzantium and wherever there is a king's dining couch they call the room "Delphix"; for the Romans follow the Greek also in calling the emperor's residence "Palatium." For a Greek named Pallas lived in this place before the capture of Troy and built a noteworthy house there, and they called this dwelling "Palatium"; and when Augustus received the imperial power, he decided to take up his first residence in that house, and from this they call the place wherever the emperor resides "Palatium." So Belisarius dined in the Delphix and with him all the notables of the army. And it happened that the lunch made for Gelimer on the preceding day was in readiness. And we feasted on that very food and the domestics of Gelimer served it and poured the wine and waited upon us in every way. And it was possible to see Fortune in her glory and making a display of the fact that all things are hers and that nothing is the private possession of any man. And it fell to the lot of Belisarius on that day to win such fame as no one of the men of his time ever won nor indeed any of the men of olden times. For though the Roman soldiers were not accustomed to enter a subject city without confusion, even if they numbered only five hundred, and especially if they made the entry unexpectedly, all the soldiers under the command of this general showed themselves so orderly that there was not a single act of insolence nor a threat, and indeed nothing happened to hinder the business of the city; but in a captured city, one which had changed its government and shifted its allegiance, it came about that no man's household was excluded from the privileges of the marketplace; on the contrary, the clerks drew up their lists of the men and conducted the soldiers to their lodgings, just as usual,[56] and the soldiers themselves, getting their lunch by purchase from the market, rested as each one wished.

Afterwards Belisarius gave pledges to those Vandals who had fled into the sanctuaries, and began to take thought for the fortifications. For the circuit-wall of Carthage had been so neglected that in many places it had become accessible to anyone who wished and easy to attack. For no small part of it had fallen down, and it was for this reason, the Carthaginians said, that Gelimer had not made his stand in the city. For he thought that it would be impossible in a short time to restore such a circuit-wall to a safe condition. And they said that an old oracle had been uttered by the children in earlier times in Carthage, to the effect that "gamma shall pursue beta, and again beta itself shall pursue gamma." And at that time it had been spoken by the children in play and had been left as an unexplained riddle, but now it was perfectly clear to all. For formerly Gizeric had driven out Boniface and now Belisarius was doing the same to Gelimer. This, then, whether it was a rumour or an oracle, came out as I have stated.

At that time a dream also came to light, which had been seen often before this by many persons, but without being clear as to how it would turn out. And the dream was as follows. Cyprian,[57] a holy man, is reverenced above all others by the Carthaginians. And they have founded a very noteworthy temple in his honour before the city on the sea-shore, in which they conduct all other customary services, and also celebrate there a festival which they call the "Cypriana"; and the sailors are accustomed to name after Cyprian the storm, which I mentioned lately,[58] giving it the same name as the festival, since it is wont to come on at the time at which the Libyans have always been accustomed to celebrate the festival. This temple the Vandals took from the Christians by violence in the reign of Honoric. And they straightway drove out their priests from the temple in great dishonour, and themselves thereafter attended to the sacred festival which, they said, now belonged to the Arians. And the Libyans, indeed, were angry on this account and altogether at a loss, but Cyprian, they say, often sent them a dream saying that there was not the least need for the Christians to be concerned about him; for he himself as time went on would be his own avenger. And when the report of this was passed around and came to all the Libyans, they were expecting that some vengeance would come upon the Vandals at some time because of this sacred festival, but were unable to conjecture how in the world the vision would be realized for them. Now, therefore, when the emperor's expedition had come to Libya, since the time had already come round and would bring the celebration of the festival on the succeeding day, the priests of the Arians, in spite of the fact that Ammatas had led the Vandals to Decimum, cleansed the whole sanctuary and were engaged in hanging up the most beautiful of the votive offerings there, and making ready the lamps and bringing out the treasures from the store-houses and preparing all things with exactness, arranging everything according to its appropriate use. But the events in Decimum turned out in the manner already described. And the priests of the Arians were off in flight, while the Christians who conform to the orthodox faith came to the temple of Cyprian, and they burned all the lamps and attended to the sacred festival just as is customary for them to perform this service, and thus it was known to all what the vision of the dream was foretelling. This, then, came about in this way.


XXII[edit]

And the Vandals, recalling an ancient saying, marvelled, understanding clearly thereafter that for a man, at least, no hope could be impossible nor any possession secure. And what this saying was and in what manner it was spoken I shall explain. When the Vandals originally, pressed by hunger, were about to remove from their ancestral abodes, a certain part of them was left behind who were reluctant to go and not desirous of following Godigisclus. And as time went on it seemed to those who had remained that they were well off as regards abundance of provisions, and Gizeric with his followers gained possession of Libya. And when this was heard by those who had not followed Godigisclus, they rejoiced, since thenceforth the country was altogether sufficient for them to live upon. But fearing lest at some time much later either the very ones who had conquered Libya, or their descendants, should in some way or other be driven out of Libya and return to their ancestral homes (for they never supposed that the Romans would let Libya be held for ever), they sent ambassadors to them. And these men, upon coming before Gizeric, said that they rejoiced with their compatriots who had met with such success, but that they were no longer able to guard the land of which he and his men had thought so little that they had settled in Libya. They prayed therefore that, if they laid no claim to their fatherland, they would bestow it as an unprofitable possession upon themselves, so that their title to the land might be made as secure as possible, and if anyone should come to do it harm, they might by no means disdain to die in behalf of it. Gizeric, accordingly, and all the other Vandals thought that they spoke fairly and justly, and they were in the act of granting everything which the envoys desired of them. But a certain old man who was esteemed among them and had a great reputation for discretion said that he would by no means permit such a thing. "For in human affairs," he said, "not one thing stands secure; nay, nothing which now exists is stable for all time for men, while as regards that which does not yet exist, there is nothing which may not come to pass." When Gizeric heard this, he expressed approval and decided to send the envoys away with nothing accomplished. Now at that time both he himself and the man who had given the advice were judged worthy of ridicule by all the Vandals, as foreseeing the impossible. But when these things which have been told took place, the Vandals learned to take a different view of the nature of human affairs and realized that the saying was that of a wise man.

Now as for those Vandals who remained in their native land, neither remembrance nor any name of them has been preserved to my time.[59] For since, I suppose, they were a small number, they were either overpowered by the neighbouring barbarians or they were mingled with them not at all unwillingly and their name gave way to that of their conquerors. Indeed, when the Vandals were conquered at that time by Belisarius, no thought occurred to them to go from there to their ancestral homes. For they were not able to convey themselves suddenly from Libya to Europe, especially as they had no ships at hand, but paid the penalty[60] there for all the wrongs they had done the Romans and especially the Zacynthians. For at one time Gizeric, falling suddenly upon the towns in the Peloponnesus, undertook to assault Taenarum. And being repulsed from there and losing many of his followers he retired in complete disorder. And while he was still filled with anger on account of this, he touched at Zacynthus, and having killed many of those he met and enslaved five hundred of the notables, he sailed away soon afterwards. And when he reached the middle of the Adriatic Sea, as it is called, he cut into small pieces the bodies of the five hundred and threw them all about the sea without the least concern. But this happened in earlier times.


XXIII[edit]

But at that time Gelimer, by distributing much money to the farmers among the Libyans and shewing great friendliness toward them, succeeded in winning many to his side. These he commanded to kill the Romans who went out into the country, proclaiming a fixed sum of gold for each man killed, to be paid to him who did the deed. And they killed many from the Roman army, not soldiers, however, but slaves and servants, who because of a desire for money went up into the villages stealthily and were caught. And the farmers brought their heads before Gelimer and departed receiving their pay, while he supposed that they had slain soldiers of the enemy.

At that time Diogenes, the aide of Belisarius, made a display of valorous deeds. For having been sent, together with twenty-two of the body-guards, to spy upon their opponents, he came to a place two days' journey distant from Carthage. And the farmers of the place, being unable to kill these men, reported to Gelimer that they were there. And he chose out and sent against them three hundred horsemen of the Vandals, enjoining upon them to bring all the men alive before him. For it seemed to him a most remarkable achievement to make captive a personal aide of Belisarius with twenty-two body-guards. Now Diogenes and his party had entered a certain house and were sleeping in the upper storey, having no thought of the enemy in mind, since, indeed, they had learned that their opponents were far away. But the Vandals, coming there at early dawn, thought it would not be to their advantage to destroy the doors of the house or to enter it in the dark, fearing lest, being involved in a night encounter, they might themselves destroy one another, and at the same time, if that should happen, provide a way of escape for a large number of the enemy in the darkness. But they did this because cowardice had paralyzed their minds, though it would have been possible for them with no trouble, by carrying torches or even without these, to catch their enemies in their beds not only without weapons, but absolutely naked besides. But as it was, they made a phalanx in a circle about the whole house and especially at the doors, and all took their stand there. But in the meantime it so happened that one of the Roman soldiers was roused from sleep, and he, noticing the noise which the Vandals made as they talked stealthily among themselves and moved with their weapons, was able to comprehend what was being done, and rousing each one of his comrades silently, he told them what was going on. And they, following the opinion of Diogenes, all put on their clothes quietly and taking up their weapons went below. There they put the bridles on their horses and leaped upon them unperceived by anyone. And after standing for a time by the court-yard entrance, they suddenly opened the door there, and straightway all came out. And then the Vandals immediately closed with them, but they accomplished nothing. For the Romans rode hard, covering themselves with their shields and warding off their assailants with their spears. And in this way Diogenes escaped the enemy, losing two of his followers, but saving the rest. He himself, however, received three blows in this encounter on the neck and the face, from which indeed he came within a little of dying, and one blow also on the left hand, as a result of which he was thereafter unable to move his little finger. This, then, took place in this way.

And Belisarius offered great sums of money to the artisans engaged in the building trade and to the general throng of workmen, and by this means he dug a trench deserving of great admiration about the circuit-wall, and setting stakes close together along it he made an excellent stockade about the fortifications. And not only this, but he built up in a short time the portions of the wall which had suffered, a thing which seemed worthy of wonder not only to the Carthaginians, but also to Gelimer himself at a later time. For when he came as a captive to Carthage, he marvelled when he saw the wall and said that his own negligence had proved the cause of all his present troubles. This, then, was accomplished by Belisarius while in Carthage.


XXIV[edit]

But Tzazon, the brother of Gelimer, reached Sardinia with the expedition which has been mentioned above[61] and disembarked at the harbour of Caranalis[62]; and at the first onset he captured the city and killed the tyrant Godas and all the fighting men about him. And when he heard that the emperor's expedition was in the land of Libya, having as yet learned nothing of what had been done there, he wrote to Gelimer as follows: "Know, O King of the Vandals and Alani, that the tyrant Godas has perished, having fallen into our hands, and that the island is again under thy kingdom, and celebrate the festival of triumph. And as for the enemy who have had the daring to march against our land, expect that their attempt will come to the same fate as that experienced by those who in former times marched against our ancestors." And those who took this letter sailed into the harbour of Carthage with no thought of the enemy in mind. And being brought by the guards before the general, they put the letter into his hands and gave him information on the matters about which he enquired, being thunderstruck at what they beheld and awed at the suddenness of the change; however, they suffered nothing unpleasant at the hand of Belisarius.

At this same time another event also occurred as follows. A short time before the emperor's expedition reached Libya, Gelimer had sent envoys into Spain, among whom were Gothaeus and Fuscias, in order to persuade Theudis, the ruler of the Visigoths,[63] to establish an alliance with the Vandals. And these envoys, upon disembarking on the mainland after crossing the strait at Gadira, found Theudis in a place situated far from the sea. And when they had come up to the place where he was, Theudis received them with friendliness and entertained them heartily, and during the feast he pretended to enquire how matters stood with Gelimer and the Vandals. Now since these envoys had travelled to him rather slowly, it happened that he had heard from others everything which had befallen the Vandals. For one merchant ship sailing for trade had put out from Carthage on the very same day as the army marched into the city, and finding a favouring wind, had come to Spain. From those on this ship Theudis learned all that had happened in Libya, but he forbade the merchants to reveal it to anyone, in order that this might not become generally known. And when Gothaeus and his followers replied that everything was as well as possible for them, he asked them for what purpose, then, they had come. And when they proposed the alliance, Theudis bade them go to the sea-coast; "For from there," he said, "you will learn of the affairs at home with certainty." And the envoys, supposing that the man was in his cups and his words were not sane, remained silent. But when on the following day they met him and made mention of the alliance, and Theudis used the same words a second time, then at length they understood that some change of fortune had befallen them in Libya, but never once thinking of Carthage they sailed for the city. And upon coming to land close by it and happening upon Roman soldiers, they put themselves in their hands to do with them as they wished. And from there they were led away to the general, and reporting the whole story, they suffered no harm at his hand. These things, then, happened thus. And Cyril,[64] upon coming near to Sardinia and learning what had happened to Godas, sailed to Carthage, and there, finding the Roman army and Belisarius victorious, he remained at rest; and Solomon[65] was sent to the emperor in order to announce what had been accomplished.


XXV[edit]

But Gelimer, upon reaching the plain of Boulla, which is distant from Carthage a journey of four days for an unencumbered traveller, not far from the boundaries of Numidia, began to gather there all the Vandals and as many of the Moors as happened to be friendly to him. Few Moors, however, joined his alliance, and these were altogether insubordinate. For all those who ruled over the Moors in Mauretania and Numidia and Byzacium sent envoys to Belisarius saying that they were slaves of the emperor and promised to fight with him. There were some also who even furnished their children as hostages and requested that the symbols of office be sent them from him according to the ancient custom. For it was a law among the Moors that no one should be a ruler over them, even if he was hostile to the Romans, until the emperor of the Romans should give him the tokens of the office. And though they had already received them from the Vandals, they did not consider that the Vandals held the office securely. Now these symbols are a staff of silver covered with gold, and a silver cap,--not covering the whole head, but like a crown and held in place on all sides by bands of silver,--a kind of white cloak gathered by a golden brooch on the right shoulder in the form of a Thessalian cape, and a white tunic with embroidery, and a gilded boot. And Belisarius sent these things to them, and presented each one of them with much money. However, they did not come to fight along with him, nor, on the other hand, did they dare give their support to the Vandals, but standing out of the way of both contestants, they waited to see what would be the outcome of the war. Thus, then, matters stood with the Romans.

But Gelimer sent one of the Vandals to Sardinia with a letter to his brother Tzazon. And he went quickly to the coast, and finding by chance a merchant-ship putting out to sea, he sailed into the harbour of Caranalis and put the letter into the hands of Tzazon. Now the message of the letter was as follows:

"It was not, I venture to think, Godas who caused the island to revolt from us, but some curse of madness sent from Heaven which fell upon the Vandals. For by depriving us of you and the notables of the Vandals, it has seized and carried off from the house of Gizeric absolutely all the blessings which we enjoyed. For it was not to recover the island for us that you sailed from here, but in order that Justinian might be master of Libya. For that which Fortune had decided upon previously it is now possible to know from the outcome. Belisarius, then, has come against us with a small army, but valour straightway departed and fled from the Vandals, taking good fortune with her. For Ammatas and Gibamundus have fallen, because the Vandals lost their courage, and the horses and shipyards and all Libya and, not least of all, Carthage itself, are held already by the enemy. And the Vandals are sitting here, having paid with their children and wives and all their possessions for their failure to play the part of brave men in battle, and to us is left only the plain of Boulla, where our hope in you has set us down and still keeps us. But do you have done with such matters as rebel tyrants and Sardinia and the cares concerning these things, and come to us with your whole force as quickly as possible. For when men find the very heart and centre of all in danger, it is not advisable for them to consider minutely other matters. And struggling hereafter in common against the enemy, we shall either recover our previous fortune, or gain the advantage of not bearing apart from each other the hard fate sent by Heaven."

When this letter had been brought to Tzazon, and he had disclosed its contents to the Vandals, they turned to wailing and lamentation, not openly, however, but concealing their feelings as much as possible and avoiding the notice of the islanders, silently among themselves they bewailed the fate which was upon them. And straightway setting in order matters in hand just as chance directed, they manned the ships. And sailing from there with the whole fleet, on the third day they came to land at the point of Libya which marks the boundary between the Numidians and Mauretanians. And they reached the plain of Boulla travelling on foot, and there joined with the rest of the army. And in that place there were many most pitiable scenes among the Vandals, which I, at least, could never relate as they deserve. For I think that even if one of the enemy themselves had happened to be a spectator at that time, he would probably have felt pity, in spite of himself, for the Vandals and for human fortune. For Gelimer and Tzazon threw their arms about each other's necks, and could not let go, but they spoke not a word to each other, but kept wringing their hands and weeping, and each one of the Vandals with Gelimer embraced one of those who had come from Sardinia, and did the same thing. And they stood for a long time as if grown together and found such comfort as they could in this, and neither did the men of Gelimer think fit to ask about Godas (for their present fortune had prostrated them and caused them to reckon such things as had previously seemed to them most important with those which were now utterly negligible), nor could those who came from Sardinia bring themselves to ask about what had happened in Libya. For the place was sufficient to permit them to judge of what had come to pass. And indeed they did not make any mention even of their own wives and children, knowing well that whoever of theirs was not there had either died or fallen into the hands of the enemy. Thus, then, did these things happen.


FOOTNOTES[edit]

[1]

Cadiz.

[2]

Sea of Azov.

[3]

Abila.

[4]

Or Septem Fratres.

[5]

Most ancient geographers divided the inhabited world into three continents, but some made two divisions. It was a debated question with these latter whether Africa belonged to Asia or to Europe; of. Sallust, _Jugurtha_, 17.

[6]

Kadi Keui.

[7]

More correctly Hydrous, Lat. Hydruntum (Otranto).

[8]

At Aulon (Avlona).

[9]

Adding these four days to the other items (285, 22, 40), the total is 351 days.

[10]

Calpe (Gibraltar).

[11]

_i.e._, instead of stopping at Otranto, one might also reckon in the coast-line around the Adriatic to Dyrrachium.

[12]

About twenty-four English miles.

[13]

Iviza.

[14]

"Black-cloaks."

[15]

Belgrade.

[16]

Mitrovitz.

[17]

In Illyricum.

[18]

He ascended the throne at the age of seven.

[19]

That is, the actual occupant could enter a demurrer to the former owner's action for recovery, citing his own occupancy for thirty years or more. The new law extended the period during which the ousted proprietor could recover possession, by admitting no demurrer from the occupant so far as the years were concerned during which the Vandals should be in possession of the country.

[20]

This is an error; he really ruled only eighteen months.

[21]

Geiseric, Gaiseric, less properly Genseric.

[22]

Now corrupted to Bona.

[23]

Emperor in Gaul, Britain and Spain 383-388. Aspiring to be Emperor of the West, he invaded Italy, was defeated by Theodosius, and put to death.

[24]

This is an error, for Attila died before Aetius.

[25]

Including the famous treasure which Titus had brought from Jerusalem, cf. IV. ix. 5.

[26]

Domitian had spent 12,000 talents (£2,400,000) on the gilding alone; Plutarch, _Publ._ 15.

[27]

_i.e._ "leaders of a thousand."

[28]

130,000 Roman pounds; cf. Book I. xxii. 4. The modern equivalent is unknown.

[29]

Placidia's sister, Eudocia, was wife of Honoric, Gizeric's son.

[30]

See chap. iv. 27.

[31]

_i.e._ "wisdom."

[32]

Jebel Auress.

[33]

_i.e._ to what sect or religion they belonged.

[34]

Cf. Book IV. xi. 17 ff.

[35]

Book I. xxii. 16.

[36]

The "imperial" taxes were for the emperor's privy purse, the fiscus.

[37]

These foederati were private bands of troops under the leadership of condottiere; these had the title of "count" and received from the state an allowance for the support of their bands.

[38]

The medimnus equalled about one and a half bushels.

[39]

_i.e._ "runners."

[40]

Eregli, on the Sea of Marmora.

[41]

Cape Matapan.

[42]

Book I. xxiv. 12-15; xxv. 8-10.

[43]

The ration of this twice-baked bread represented for the same weight one-fourth more wheat than when issued in the once-baked bread. He was evidently paid on the basis of so much per ration, in weight, of the once-baked bread, but on account of the length of the voyage the other kind was requisitioned.

[44]

Instead of by weight.

[45]

Now Porto Lombardo.

[46]

Or Athalaric.

[47]

Now Gozzo and Malta.

[48]

Cf. III. v. 8 ff.

[49]

_i.e._ couriers, from _veredus_, "post-horse."

[50]

An adjutant, the general's own "choice."

[51]

Topsails.

[52]

_i.e._ _Decimum miliarium_, tenth milestone from Carthage.

[53]

Before 533 A.D.

[54]

Hermaeum, Lat. Mercurii promontorium (Cape Bon).

[55]

"Auxiliaries"; see chap. xi. 3, 4.

[56]

The troops were billeted as at a peaceful occupation.

[57]

St. Cyprian (_circa_ 200-257 A.D.), Bishop of Carthage.

[58]

Chap. xx. 13.

[59]

Compare the remarks of Gibbon, iv. p. 295.

[60]

In _Arcana_, 18, 5 ff., Procopius estimates the number of the Vandals in Africa, at the time of Belisarius, at 80,000 males, and intimates that practically all perished.

[61]

Chap. xi. 23.

[62]

Cagliari.

[63]

On this Theudis and his accession to the throne of the Visigoths in Spain see V. xii. 50 ff.

[64]

The leader of a band of _foederati_. Cf. III. xi. 1, 6, xxiv. 19.

[65]

Also a _dux foederatorum_, and _domesticus_ of Belisarius. Cf. III. xi. 5 ff.