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the Visigoths, is the only event of his short and inglorious reign. The most faithful subjects of Gaul were sacrificed by the Italian emperor to the hope of domestic security ;
122 but his repose was soon invaded by a furious sedition of the Barbarian confederates, who, under the command of Orestes, their general, were in full march from Rome to Ravenna. Nepos trembled at their approach ; and, instead of placing a just confidence in the strength of Ravenna, he hastily escaped to his ships, and retired to his Dalmatian principality, on the opposite coast of the Hadriatic. By this shameful abdication, he protracted his life about five years, in a very ambiguous state, between an emperor and an exile, till he was assassinated at Salona by the ungrateful Glycerius, who was translated, perhaps as the reward of his crime, to the archbishopric of Milan. 123
The nations who had asserted their independence after the The patrician death of Attila were established, by the right of possession or AD. 475 conquest, in the boundless countries to the north of the Danube, or in the Roman provinces between the river and the Alps. But the bravest of their youth enlisted in the army of confederates, who formed the defence and the terror of Italy;
124 and in this promiscuous multitude, the names of the Heruli, the Scyri, the Alani, the Turcilingi, and the Rugians, appear to have predominated. The example of these warriors was imitated by Orestes, the son of Tatullus, and the father of the last Roman emperor of the West. Orestes, who has been already mentioned in this history, had never deserted his country. His birth and fortunes rendered him one of the most illustrious subjects of Pannonia. When that province was ceded to the Huns, he entered into the service of Attila, his lawful sovereign, obtained the office of his secretary, and was repeatedly sent ambassador to Constantinople, to represent the person, and signify the commands of the imperi
122 Epiphanius was sent ambassador from Nepos to the Visigoths for the purpose of ascertaining the fines Imperii Italici (Ennodius in Sirmond, tom. I. p. 16651669). His pathetic discourse concealed the disgraceful secret, which soon excited the just and bitter complaints of the bishop of Clermont. [On the negotiations between king Euric and Nepos, cp. Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders, ii. 491.]
123 Malchus, apud Phot. p. 172. [Müller, F.H.G., iv. p. III. Cp. John of Antioch, fr. 209, ib., 618.] Ennod. Epigram. l. lxxxii. in Sirmond, Oper. tom. i. p. 1879. [Cc., p. 164, ed. Vogel.] Some doubt may however be raised on the identity of the emperor and the archbishop.
124 Our knowledge of these mercenaries, who subverted the Western empire, is derived from Procopius (de Bell. Gothico, 1. i. c. i. p. 308). The popular opinion and the recent historians represent Odoacer in the false light of a stranger and a king, who invaded Italy with an army of foreigners, his native subjects.
125 Orestes, qui eo tempore quando Attila ad Italiam venit se iíli junxit, et ejus notarius factus fuerat. Anonym. Vales. p. 716 [8, § 38). He is mistaken in the date; but we may credit his assertion that the secretary of Attila was the father of Augustulus.
His son Au gustulus, the
ous monarch. The death of that conqueror restored him to his freedom ; and Orestes might honourably refuse either to follow the sons of Attila into the Scythian desert or to obey the Ostrogoths, who had usurped the dominion of Pannonia. He preferred the service of the Italian princes, the successors of Valentinian; and, as he possessed the qualifications of courage, industry, and experience, he advanced with rapid steps in the military profession, till he was elevated, by the favour of Nepos himself, to the dignities of patrician and master-general of the troops. These troops had been long accustomed to reverence
the character and authority of Orestes, who affected their manners, conversed with them in their own language, and was intimately connected with their national chieftains, by long habits of familiarity and friendship. At his solicitation they rose in arms against the obscure Greek, who presumed to claim their obedience; and, when Orestes, from some secret motive, declined the purple, they consented, with the same facility, to acknowledge
his son Augustulus as the emperor of the West. By the abdilastnem perecation of Nepos, Orestes had now attained the summit of his
ambitious hopes ; but he soon discovered, before the end of the first year, that the lessons of perjury and ingratitude, which a rebel must inculcate, will be retorted against himself; and that the precarious sovereign of Italy was only permitted to choose whether he would be the slave or the victim of his Barbarian mercenaries. The dangerous alliance of these strangers had oppressed and insulted the last remains of Roman freedom and dignity. At each revolution, their pay and privileges were augmented; but their insolence increased in a still more extravagant degree; they envied the fortune of their brethren in Gaul, Spain, and Africa, whose victorious arms had acquired an independent and perpetual inheritance; and they insisted on their peremptory demand that a third part of the lands of Italy should be immediately divided among them. Orestes, with a spirit which, in another situation, might be entitled to our esteem, chose rather to encounter the rage of an armed multitude than to subscribe the ruin of an innocent people. He rejected the audacious demand ; and his refusal was favourable to the ambition of Odoacer; a bold Barbarian, who assured his fellow soldiers that, if they dared to associate under his command, they might soon extort the justice which had been denied to their dutiful petitions. From all the camps and garrisons of Italy, the confederates, actuated by the same resentment and the same hopes, impatiently flocked to the standard of this popular leader ; and the unfortunate patrician, overwhelmed by the
torrent, hastily retreated to the strong city of Pavia, the episcopal seat of the holy Epiphanius. Pavia was immediately besieged, the fortifications were stormed, the town was pillaged ; and, although the bishop might labour, with much zeal and some success, to save the property of the church and the chastity of female captives, the tumult could only be appeased by the execution of Orestes. 126 His brother Paul was slain in an action near Ravenna ; and the helpless Augustulus, who could no longer command the respect, was reduced to implore the clemency, of Odoacer.
That successful Barbarian was the son of Edecon : who, in Odoacer king some remarkable transactions, particularly described in a pre- A.D. 476.490 ceding chapter, had been the colleague of Orestes himself. The honour of an ambassador should be exempt from suspicion ; and Edecon had listened to a conspiracy against the life of his sovereign. But this apparent guilt was expiated by his merit or repentance; his rank was eminent and conspicuous; he enjoyed the favour of Attila ; and the troops under his command, who guarded in their turn the royal village, consisted in a tribe of Scyrri, his immediate and hereditary subjects. In the revolt of the nations, they still adhered to the Huns; and, more than twelve years afterwards, the name of Edecon is honourably mentioned, in their unequal contest with the Ostrogoths ; which was terminated, after two bloody battles, by the defeat and dispersion of the Scyrri.127 Their gallant leader, who did not survive this national calamity, left two sons, Onulf and Odoacer, to struggle with adversity, and to maintain as they might, by rapine or service, the faithful followers of their exile. Onuif directed his steps towards Constantinople, where he sullied, by the assassination of a generous benefactor, the fame which he had acquired in arms. His brother Odoacer led a wandering life among the Barbarians of Noricum, with a mind and a fortune suited to the most desperate adventures ; and, when he had fixed his choice, he piously visited the cell of Severinus, the
a [The quarto has the misprint Epiphanites, which has remained uncorrected in subsequent editions.)
126 See Ennodius (in Vit. Epiphan. Sirmond, tom. I. p. 1669, 1670). He adds weight to the narrative of Procopius, though we may doubt whether the devil actually contrived the siege of Pavia to distress the bishop and his flock (p. 96, ed. Vogel).
127 Jornandes, c. 53, 54, p. 692-695. M. de Buat (Hist. des Peuples de l'Europe, tom. viii
. p. 221-228) has clearly explained the origin and adventures of Odoacer. I am almost inclined to believe that he was the same who pillaged Angers and commanded a fleet of Saxon pirates on the ocean. Greg. Turon. Lil c. 18, in tom. ii. p. 170. [The genuine form of Odoacer's name is Odovacar, as it appears in the contemporary writer Ennodius.) VOL. IV.
popular saint of the country, to solicit his approbation and blessing. The lowness of the door would not admit the lofty stature of Odoacer : he was obliged to stoop: but in that humble attitude the saint could discern the symptoms of his future greatness; and, addressing him in a prophetic tone, “ Pursue” (said he) “your design; proceed to Italy ; you will soon cast away this coarse garment of skins; and your wealth will be adequate to the liberality of your mind ”. 128 The Barbarian, whose daring spirit accepted and ratified the prediction, was admitted into the service of the Western empire, and soon obtained an honourable rank in the guards. His manners were gradually polished, his military skill was improved, and the confederates of Italy would not have elected him for their general, unless the exploits of Odoacer had established a high opinion of his courage and capacity: 129 Their military acclamations saluted him with the title of King ; but he abstained, during his whole reign, from the use of the purple and diadem,130 lest he should offend those princes whose subjects, by their accidental mixture, had formed the victorious army which time and policy might insensibly unite into a great nation.
Royalty was familiar to the Barbarians, and the submissive people of Italy was prepared to obey, without a murmur, the authority which he should condescend to exercise as the vicegerent of the emperor of the West. But Odoacer had resolved to abolish that useless and expensive office; and such is the weight of antique prejudice that it required some boldness and penetration to discover the extreme facility of the enterprise. The unfortunate Augustulus was made the instrument of his own disgrace; he signified his resignation to the senate; and that assembly, in their last act of obedience to a Roman prince, still affected the spirit of freedom and the forms of the constitution. An epistle was addressed, by their unanimous decree, to the emperor Zeno, the son-in-law and successor of Leo; who had lately been restored, after a short rebellion, to the Byzantine throne. They solemnly “ disclaim the necessity, or even the wish, of continuing any longer the Imperial succession in Italy; since, in their opinion, the majesty of a sole monarch is sufficient to pervade and protect, at the same time, both the East and the West. In their own name, and in the name of the people, they consent that the seat of universal empire shall be transferred from Rome to Constantinople; and they basely renounce the right of choosing their master, the only vestige that yet remained of the authority which had given laws to the world. The republic (they repeat that name without a blush) might safely confide in the civil and military virtues of Odoacer; and they humbly request that the emperor would invest him with the title of Patrician and the administration of the diocese of Italy.” The deputies of the senate were received at Constantinople with some marks of displeasure and indignation ; and, when they were admitted to the audience of Zeno, he sternly reproached them with their treatment of the two emperors, Anthemius and Nepos, whom the East had successively granted to the prayers of Italy. “The first " (continued he)
128 Vade ad Italiam, vade vilissimis nunc pellibus coopertus ; sed multis cito plurima largiturus. Anonym. Vales. p. 717 (10, $ 46). He quotes the life of St. Severinus, which is extant, and contains much unknown and valuable history; it was composed by his disciple Eugippius (A.D. 511) thirty years after his death. See Tillemont, Mém. Ecclés. tom. xvi. p. 168-181. (See App. 1.]
129 Theophanes, who calls him a Goth, affirms that he was educated, nursed (Tpapevtos), in Italy (p. 102); and, as this strong expression will not bear a literal interpretation, it must be explained by long service in the Imperial guards.
130 Nomen regis Odoacer assumpsit, cum tamen neque purpurà nec regalibus uteretur insignibus. Cassiodor. in Chron. A.D. 476. He seems to have assumed the abstract title of a king, without applying it to any particular nation or country. (One silver coin (a half siliqua) is extant, which was probably issued by Odovacar. The legend (obv.) is Fl. Od(ov)ac, and the reverse shows the monogram of Odova. Cp. Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders, iii. 722. It is to be noted that Odovacar was not “ King of Italy,” as he is inaccurately styled below on p. 54. The day of territorial royalty had not yet come.]
you have murdered; the second you have expelled; but the second is still alive, and whilst he lives he is your lawful sovereign." But the prudent Zeno soon deserted the hopeless cause of his abdicated colleague. His vanity was gratified by the title of sole emperor and by the statues erected to his honour in the several quarters of Rome; he entertained a friendly, though ambiguous, correspondence with the patrician Odoacer; and he gratefully accepted the Imperial ensigns, the sacred ornaments of the throne and palace, which the Barbarian was not unwilling to remove from the sight of the people.131
In the space of twenty years since the death of Valentinian, Angustulus to nine emperors had successively disappeared ; and the son of tho Laculion Orestes, a youth recommended only by his beauty, would be the least entitled to the notice of posterity, if his reign, which was marked by the extinction of the Roman empire in the West, did not leave a memorable æra in the history of mankind. 132
131 Malchus, whose loss excites our regret, has preserved (in Excerpt. Legat. 93 (fr. 10]) this extraordinary embassy from the senate to Zeno. The anonymous fragment (p. 717) and the extract from Candidus (apud Phot. p. 176 [F.H.G., iv. p. 136]) are likewise of some use.
132 The precise year in which the Western empire was extinguished is not positively ascertained. The vulgar æra of A.D. 476 appears to have the sanction of