988 UNIVERSAL HISTORYTHE ANCIENT WORLD
The barbarians soon afterwards withdrew
from the peninsula. For the present no leader
arose capable of wearing Alaric's mantle. The
sack of Rome was made the occasion of the
promotion of the Christian cause. The pious
pagans had tried their sacrifices and incantations as a means of defending the city; but
the gods were either sick or on a journey.
The Etruscan performance on the Capitol
seemed to have no visible effect on the Goths
outside of the walls. All these failures did
the Christians turn to good account. Not
only did the event furnish them an opportunity to point to the impotency of pagan ceremonies and to assert that if they had been
intrusted with the defense of the capital the
barbarians would have perished as did the
army of Sennacherib, but the zealous believers
proceeded to demonstrate that Rome was the
apocalyptic Babylon, on which for her crimes
the wrath of heaven was now poured out from
the buckets of barbarism. Under these multiplied assaults paganism went to the wall; for
nothing fails like failure.
Alaric, being himself an Arian Christian,
had interposed to save Rome from destruction.
The city, though pillaged, still survived.
With the recession of barbarism the old population in great measure returned and began the
work of restoration. ATAULPHUS, the Gothic
chieftain who succeeded to the command, refused to continue the destructive assaults
which had prostrated civil authority in Italy.
This somewhat refined barbarian had taken to
wife Placidia, the daughter of Theodosius,
and by her his resolution to end the war was
encouraged. He accordingly left Southern
Italy, retired into Spain, and established a