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