Page 0983

983 ROME.CONSTANTINE AND HIS SUCCESSORS

a Gothic kingdom on the right bank of the

river. It was believed that by such a measure

a barrier could be built up against the barbarians who roamed at large through the forests

of Dacia, beyond the Danube. A division of

the Gothic nation into Ostrogoths and Visigoths was effected; the latter name, signifying

West Goths, being applied to the civilized and

Christianized inhabitants who by permission of

the Emperors had become fixed in Hither

Dacia; and the former designating the native

tribes that spread out from the left bank of

the Danube to the steppes of Scythia.

Such was the condition of affairs when the

Asiatic HUNS, a vast and barbarous horde,

crossed the Volga and the Don, and about the

year 374driving the Alani before themfell

upon the dominions of the Goths, now ruled

by their great king HERMANARIC. The latter

was defeated and slain. His subjects were

driven pell-mell before the hungry savages of

the North-east. Thus, by the sheer force of

barbarian pressure in the rear, vast masses

of Ostrogoths were flung across the Danube

and precipitated, nolens volens, upon their

former countrymen, the Visigoths of Dacia.

The latter were thus agitated, displaced, forced

from their settlements upon other districts of

the Empire. By these great movements the

passes of the Danube fell into the hands of

the barbarian nations; and Valens, then Emperor, attempting to regain what was lost, was

himself, in A. D. 378, disastrously defeated by

the Goths. The flood of barbarism then spread

over Thrace and Macedonia, and even Constantinople was threatened with capture.

On the accession of Theodosius the Great,

he at once attempted to recover the lost territories and to restore the line of the Danube.

Nor were his efforts unattended with success.

As much as military force could do to repress

the barbarian hordes was accomplished during

the reign of this distinguished prince. But

no power short of a counter deluge could effectually overwhelm the swarming tribes that

kept beating upon the Danubian frontier.

Before his death Theodosius had designated

his two sons, ARCADIUS and HONORIUS, as his

successors in the Empire. The line dividing

the Imperial dominions into an East and a

West was drawn through Illyria. The Western

division was assigned to Honorius, while the

Eastern was retained by Arcadius. The latter

at his accession, A. D. 395, was but eighteen

years of age; the younger brother, eleven.

It was the bad fortune of the former to select

as his minister a certain Rufinus, who presently proved disloyal; but Honorius selected

as his main reliance in the state a man of

different character. A certain Stilicho, son of

a Vandal officer who had served with distinction in the army of Valens, had been appointed by Theodosius as guardian of his

younger son, and the latter on his accession to

the throne of the West had the good sense to

retain the veteran general as his minister.

The first care of the latter was to strengthen

the northern boundaries of the Empire intrusted to his ward. To this end he added

fresh garrisons to the fortresses on the Rhine,

and reestablished the Wall of Severus in

Britain. Soon afterwards he suppressed a revolt in Africa, headed by a rebellious governor named Gildo. This being done he turned

his attention to the East, where his rival, Rufinus, was in the ascendant. The latter had

been suspected, not without good grounds, of

having procured by intrigue the invasion of

the Eastern Empire by the Goths. Nor could

his suppression and death by Stilicho have been

Justly condemned, but for the fact that his

taking off was by the hand of an assassin.

The year 396 was marked by the great

Gothic invasion conducted by the celebrated

king Alaric. The inter-Danubian Goths had

been so badly treated by the government of

Arcadius that they beckoned to their kinsmen

across the river to come to their aid, and then

with united forces swept down upon Macedonia and Greece. It was, so far as the remaining monuments of Greek art were concerned,

a bitter business; for the Gothic Christians regarded every statue as a relic of that paganism which they had been led to abhor. The

devastating flood had already rolled into Peloponnesus before Stilicho, taking up without

authority the cause of the East, succeeded, in

398, in checking and turning back the tide.

Alaric withdrew into Epirus, where he established himself, and was soon employed by the