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were the first who removed the veil that covered the feeble majesty of Italy. A numerous body of Alemanni penetrated across the Danube and through the Rhætian Alps into the plains of Lombardy, advanced as far ar Ravenna, and displayed the victorious banners of barbarians almost in sight of Rome.

The Alemanni, astonished with the sudden appearance of an army more numerous than their own, retired into Germany laden with spoil; and their retreat was esteemed as a victory by the unwarlike Romans.”


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“We have already,” says Gibbon, “traced the emigration of the Goths from Scandinavia, or at least from Prussia, to the mouths of the Borysthenes, and have followed their victorious arms from the Borysthenes to the Danube.

But the great stream of Gothic hostilities was directed into a very different channel. The Goths, in their new settlement of the Ukraine, soon became masters of the northern coasts of the Euxine: to the south of that inland sea were settled the soft and wealthy provinces of Asia Minor, which possessed all that could attract and nothing that could resist the barbarian conqueror.”

They soon became masters of a fleet which gave them the command of the Euxine. They took and destroyed Pityus, the utmost limit of the Roman provinces. They next stormed Trebizond. A general massacre of the people ensued, and the most holy temples and most splendid edifices were involved in common destruction. The booty that fell into the hands of the Goths was immense; the wealth of the adjacent countries had been deposited in Trebizond, as in a secure place of refuge. The number of captives was incredible, as the victorious barbarians ranged without opposition through the extensive provinces of Pontus.

“ The second expedition of the Goths,” says Gibbon,“ was undertaken with greater powers of men and ships; but they steered a different course, and, disdaining the exhausted provinces, followed the western coast of the Euxine, passed before the wide mouths of the Borysthenes, the Niester, and the Danube, increasing their fleet by the capture of a great number of fishing-barks, they approached the narrow outlet through which the

its waters into the Mediterranean, and divides the continents of Europe and Asia. Chalcedon, most plentifully stored with arms and money, and Nicomedia, once the capital of the kings of Bithynia, were

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taken and pillaged. Nice, Prusa, Apæmæa, Cius, cities that had sometime rivalled or imitated the splendour of Nicomedia, were involved in the same calamity, which in a few weeks raged withont control over the whole province of Bithynia.

In a third expedition the Goths, “impatient of the limits of the Euxine, steered their destructive course from the Cimmerian to the Thracian Bosphorus.

Their landing on the little island of Cyzicus was attendedwith the rain of that ancient and noble city. From thence, issuing through the narrow passage of the Hellespont, they pursued their winding navigation amidst the numerous islands scattered over the Archipelago, or the Ægean Sea.

At length the Gothic fleet anchored in the port of the Piræus, five miles distant from Athens. The barbarians became masters of the native seat of the muses and of the arts.

A general conflagration blazed out at the same time in every district of Greece. Thebes and Argos, Corinth and Sparta, which had formerly waged such memorable wars against each other, were now unable to bring an army into the field, or even to defend their ruined fortifications. The rage of war, both by land and by sea, spread from the eastern point of Sunium to the western coast of Epirus. The Goths had already advanced within sight of Italy, when the approach of such imminent danger awakened Gallienus from his dream of pleasure. The emperor appeared in arms; and his presence seems to have checked the ardour and divided the strength of the army. Naulobatus, a chief of the Heruli, accepted an honourable capitulation, entered with a large body of his countrymen into the service of Rome, and was invested with the ornaments of the consular dignity, which had never before been profaned by the hands of a barbarian. Great numbers of the Goths, disgusted with the perils and hardships of a tedious voyage, broke into Mæsia, with a design of forcing their way over the Danube to their settlements in the Ukraine.

The small remainder of this destroying host returned on board their vessels ; and, measuring back their way through the Hellespont and the Bosphorus, ravaged in their passage the shores of Troy, whose fame, immortalized by Homer, will probably survive the memory

of the Gothic conquests. “In the general calamities of mankind, the death of an individual however exalted, the ruin of an edifice however famous, are passed over with careless inattention. Yet we cannot forget the temple of Diana at Ephesus, after having arisen with increasing splendour from seven repeated misfortunes, was finally burnt by the Goths in their third naval invasion. The arts of Greece and the wealth of Asia had conspired to erect that sacred and magnificent structure.

Successive empires, the Persian, the Macedonian, and the Roman, had revered its


sanctity and enriched its splendour. But the rude savages of the Baltic were destitute of a taste for the elegant arts, and they despised the ideal terrors of a foreign superstition.”


A.D. 260, Valerian, the Roman emperor, was defeated and taken prisoner by Sapor, king of Persia. The Persians immediately crossed the Euphrates and devastated Syria, Cilicia, and Cappadocia

“ So rapid,” says Gibbon, were the motions of the Persian cavalry that, if we may credit a very judicious historian, the city of Antioch was surprised when the idle multitude was fondly gazing on the amusements of the theatre. The splendid buildings of Antioch, private as well as public, were either pillaged or destroyed; and the numerous inhabitants were put to the sword or led away into captivity. The tide of devastation was stopped for a moment by the resolution of the high priest of Emesa. Arrayed in his sacerdotal robes, he appeared at the head of a great body of frantic peasants, armed only with slings, and defended his god and his property from the sacrilegious hands of the followers of Zoroaster. But the ruin of Tarsus, and of many other cities, furnishes a melancholy proof, that, except in this singular instance, the conquests of Syria and Cilicia scarcely interrupted the progress of the Persian armies.

Cæsarea, the capital of Cappadocia, supposed to contain four hundred thousand inhabitants, was betrayed, and many thousand of its citizens were involved in a general massacre. Sapor despaired of having any permanent settlement in the empire, and sought only to leave behind him a wasted desert, whilst he transported into Persia the people and the treasures of the provinces."2

Whilst the empire was thus assailed by the barbarians from without, it was torn to pieces by internal discord and civil wars. During the reign of Gallienus there were nineteen pretenders to the throne, and of these nineteen pretenders “there was not one who enjoyed a life of peace, or a natural death."

So much for the sword. But four characters of the seal yet remain to be illustrated, famine, pestilence, the beasts of the earth, and the fourth part of the earth.


Decline and Fall, vol. i. c. x. pp. 311-320.
2 Ibid. c. x. pp. 323, 325. 3 Ib. p. 332.



Jt was

“Our habits of thinking,” says Gibbon,' “ so fondly connect the order of the universe with the fate of man, that this gloomy period of history has been decorated with inundations, earthquakes, uncommon meteors, preternatural darkness, and a crowd of prodigies, fictitious or exaggerated. But a long and general famine was a calamity of a more serious kind. the inevitable consequence of rapine and oppression, which extirpated the produce of the present and the hope of the future harvests. Famine is almost always followed by epidemical diseases, the effects of scarcity and unwholesome food. Other causes, however, must have contributed to the furious plague, which, from the year 250 to the year 265, raged without interruption in every province, every city, and almost every family, of the Roman empire. During some time five thousand persons died daily in Rome; and many towns that had escaped the hands of the barbarians were entirely depopulated.”


An increase of the beasts of the earth is the natural consequence of depopulation. And “we read in history," says Bishop Newton, in his exposition of the seal, that “five hundred wolves together entered into a city, which was deserted by its inhabitants, and where the young Maximin chanced to be. It is well known that the heathens maliciously ascribed all public calamities to the Christians, and among them we find objected the wars, which they were obliged to wage with lions and wild beasts, as we may collect from Arnobius, who wrote soon after this time.”

This is the interpretation which has been usually given of this part of the seal; but something more appears to be implied, as shall be presently shown.



A considerable difficulty has arisen as to the meaning of the fourth part of the earth. Without distracting the reader with various explanations, I shall give that which seems the true one. The Greek preposition ere, translated “over,” frequently signifies

i Decline and Fall, c. x. p. 337.


" as far as," or "unto."-Acts, x. 16; xi. 10. Rev. xxi. 16. The word translated “earth," often means its inhabitants, as in the Revelation, c. xiii., xiv., and in many other parts of the scrip

, tures. The fourth part of the earth will, therefore, mean a fourth of the inhabitants of the earth or empire. The prophecy, then, foretells a vast decrease of population; which is implied by the beasts increasing in such numbers as to prove formidable and destructive to the surviving inhabitants of a country. For in scripture the multiplying of the beasts of the field against man, is characteristic of a thinly peopled and desolate country. “I will not drive them out (the Hivite, the Canaanite, &c.) from before thee in one year, lest the land become desolate, and the beasts of the field multiply against thee.”—Exodus, xxiii. 29.2

A vast diminution of the inhabitants of the empire is, therefore, a characteristic of the seal; and "Diminution of the human species” is, according to the historian of the Decline and Fall, one of the characters of these gloomy times. Gibbon writes as follows:



“We have the knowledge of a very curious circumstance, of some

use, perhaps, in the melancholy calculation of human “Diminution of calamities.

An exact register was kept at Alexandria of the human species.”

all the citizens entitled to receive the distribution of corn.

It was found that the ancient number of those comprised between the ages of forty and seventy had been equal to the whole sum of claimants, from fourteen to four score years of age, who remained alive after the reign of Gallienus. Applying this authentic fact to the most correct tables of mortality, it evidently proves, that above half the people of Alexandria had perished; and could we venture to extend the analogy to the other provinces, we might suspect that war, pestilence, and famine, had consumed in a few years the moiety of the human species."

This analogy, however, cannot be extended to the other provinces; the Alexandrians being always noted for turbulence,


ETTI otadiwv, many read (Poole Syn.), and Schleusner inclines to, oračious. But may there not be an elipsis, as in Homer, Etti dovpos (ooov diaornua)?

2 We are directed to this passage by Bloomfield. Greek Testament. 3 Gibbon, c. x. p. 337.

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