Page 0986

986 UNIVERSAL HISTORYTEE ANCIENT WORLD.

of theology. He issued an edict, in a fit of

zeal, for the discharge of all pagan officers

from the army. Generides, the best general

of the legions, was thus deposed at the very

time when his services were most needed.

When, however, the resolute Alaric, descending from Cisalpine Gaul, marched directly on

Rome, leaving the puny Emperor shut up in

the marshes of Ravenna, the edict was hastily

revoked and Generides restored to his command.

The condition and moods of the intellectual

life of Rome in the fifth century are well

illustrated in the events that followed. The

people knew not whither to turn for help in

the great emergency now upon them. Alaric

was rapidly advancing from the North. The

city had no adequate force of defenders. As

the invader swept down through Etruria many

fugitives fleeing before him sought safety where

it was least likely to be affordedin the capital. Several of these perturbed spirits of the

old Etruscan stock rushed to Pompeianus,

prefect of the city, and told him how the gods

of Etruria when properly worshipped had rescued a town from the foe. Lightning, blazing

out of the skies, had flashed into the faces of

the sacrilegious enemy. The prefect gulped

down the morsel, and Innocent, the bishop of

Rome, gave his assent that the same pagan

formula might be tried for the salvation of the

imperial city, but that Christendom must not

be scandalized by a public celebration of the

heathen rites! The Etruscan magi, however,

would not yield the point. The rites, to be

of any avail, must be public. The Senate

must ascend the Capitol in solemn procession,

and every thing be done just as the sphinx of

antiquity should dictate. The bishop said

nothing. And so the ceremonies were performed. The living emergency was postponed

while the ghost of Etruscan superstition led

the Roman Senate to perform its mummeries

on the Capitoline Hill. Meanwhile Alaric sat

down with his hosts before the city and waited

for famine to open the gates.

When starvation began to gnaw at her

vitals the humiliated metropolis sent out an

embassy to purchase peace. When Alaric

stated his demands and the ambassadors in

despair asked him what he would leave them

he coolly answered, "Your lives!" The stern

barbarian fixed the price which he would accept in lieu of the surrender of the city at

five thousand pounds of gold, thirty thousand

pounds of silver, four thousand silken robes,

three thousand pieces of scarlet cloth, and

three thousand pounds of pepper! In order to

raise the required ransom the idols of the city

were despoiled of their gold and silver trappings to the everlasting mortification of the

pagans.

No sooner had Alaric withdrawn than Honorius began to act in bad faith, insomuch

that in the following year (A. D. 409) the

Goth returned to Rome and again invested

the city. This time he refused a ransom, but

insisted on the renunciation of Honorius and

the substitution of Attalus in his stead. The

latter assumed the offices of pontiff and consul,

and Alaric again withdrew in the direction of

Ravenna. Later in the same year the anti pagan party gained the ascendancy and Attalus was obliged to fly for his life. Hearing

of the contempt thus shown to his officer,

Alaric. speedily returned and for the third time

fell upon the city. The hour of doom had

struck. It was August of A. D. 410, just

eight hundred years from the date of the

capture of Rome by the Gauls. An attempted

defense by the people proved to be worse than

futile. The dty was taken. For six days

the soldiers of the North were loosed among

the remaining palaces and temples of the once

imperial capitol. Still the city was not destroyed as in the days of Brennus. There was

no burning except of separate buildings and

for particular reasons. Many persons were

killedmen in defense of their homes, women

in defense of their honor.

After twelve days of pillage Alaric and his

army left Rome and continued their course

into Southern Italy. Town after town was

sacked until little remained to appease the

vengeance or satisfy the greed of the invaders.

The social system of Italy was completely

broken up. The estates and villas of noblemen were reduced to a ruin; their slaves liberated; themselves reduced to beggary. As to

Alaric, he had little skill in statecraft. His