Page:Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire vol 4 (1897).djvu/21

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THE HISTORY

of the

DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE


CHAPTER XXXVI

Sack of Rome by Genseric, King of the Vandals—His naval Depredations—Succession of the last Emperors of the West, Maximus, Avitiis, Majorian, Severus, Anthemius, Olybrius, Glycerins, Nepos, Augiistulus—Total Kxthiction of the Western Empire—Reign of Odoacer, thefrst Barbarian King of Italy

The loss or desolation of the provinces, from the ocean to the Alps, impaired the glory and greatness of Rome; her internal prosperity was irretrievably destroyed by the separation of Africa. The rapacious Vandals confiscated the patrimonial estates of the senators, and intercepted the regular subsidies which relieved the poverty, and encouraged the idleness, of the plebeians. The distress of the Romans was soon aggravated by an unexpected attack; and the province, so long cultivated for their use by industrious and obedient subjects, was armed against them by an ambitious Barbarian. The Vandals and Alani, who followed the successful standard of Genseric, had acquired a rich and fertile territory, which stretched along the coast above ninety days' journey from Tangier to Tripoli; but their narrow limits were pressed and confined, on either side, by the sandy desert and the Mediterranean. The discovery and conquest of the Black nations, that might dwell beneath the torrid zone, could not tempt the rational ambition of Genseric; but he cast his eyes towards the sea; he resolved to create a naval power; and his bold resolution was executed with steady and active perseverance. The woods of Mount Atlas afforded an inexhaustible nursery of timber; his new subjects were skilled in the arts of navigation and shipbuilding; he animated his daring Vandals to embrace a mode of warfare which would render every mari-

VOL. IV.
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