The New Student's Reference Work/Alaric

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Al'aric, whose name means "all ruler," was a chief and king of the Visigoths. We first find him in 394 A. D., as a commander in the army of the conquered Goths, under the Roman Emperor Theodosius. When Theodosius died, the Goths rebelled, attacked Athens and plundered it of its treasures. A Roman army was now sent against him, under General Stilicho, which drove him to a stronghold in Elis and besieged him there. Managing to escape with his army, the new emperor, Arcadius, decided to make him prefect or governor of the Roman province of Illyricum. This kept Alaric quiet for five years. But about 400 A. D. he set out to invade the empire of the west. It took him two years to reach Milan, where the Emperor Honorius was. He drove him to a fortress and besieged it, but was defeated here, and afterward at Verona, by Stilicho. Still it was thought safest to give Alaric his old place as prefect of Illyricum and a large amount of gold. When the emperor foolishly killed Stilicho, his best general, Alaric marched at once on Rome and laid siege to it. When the people attempted to buy him off, his price was so exorbitant that they said they could not pay it. Alaric's well-known reply was, "The closer hay is pressed, the easier it is mown." He was at last bought off with a great treasure of gold and silver. Honorius, however, broke the treaty, and a second time Alaric attacked Rome. This time the people opened the gates and asked him to name a new emperor. When Honorius became emperor again, he sent, treacherously, a savage chief to attack the camp of the Goths. Alaric marched again on Rome and pillaged it for six days, and then overran all Italy with his troops. He died in 410.