Page 0995

995 ROMECONSTANTINE AND HIS SUCCESSORS.

assailants of Italy. A great expedition was

undertaken against Genseric, and an immense

land and naval force was sent into Spain.

Genseric, however, succeeded in destroying

the fleet in the harbor of Carthagena, and

Majorian was driven back. Ricimer became

jealous of the influence which the Emperor

had acquired, and contrived his overthrow. In

A. D. 461, Majorian was driven from the

throne, and in a few days afterwards died,

with the suspicion of poison as the cause.

Another creature of Ricimer, named SEVERUS, was now advanced to the so-called throne.

About the same time some young pagans at

Rome, amusing themselves with the speculation that the reinstitution of heathendom was

the thing demanded by the times, set up a

certain MARCELLINUS as Emperor. This amusing specter, playing among the shadows, managed, in default of opposition, to gain possession of Dalmatia and hold it for a brief

season as his "Empire." He was Caesar!

Presently the other shadowSeverusdied.

For two years Ricimer, who still forebore to

become Emperor himself, ruled as chief patrician of Italy. The actual limits of the Western Empire were now contracted to the peninsula, which was the native seat of Roman glory.

After an interregnum the Suevian leader

nominated a certain ATHEMIUS to the throne

of the West. This movement was favored by

the party of Marcellinus, and the belief is

prevalent among historians that the new Emperor was the representative of the pagans,

who, in the general demolition of institutions,

had gained a brief ascendancy over the Christians.

Athemius, like Majorian, began to show

signs of strength and independence. He obtained the daughter of Ricimer in marriage.

He sought the favor of the Emperor of the

East, by whom he was recognized. He promoted the reorganization of civil government

in Italy. But these abilities and their exercises aroused the jealousy of his father-in-law)

who, unable to control the movements of his

protege by legitimate means, called from the

never-failing source beyond the Alps a new

army of barbarians. The horde bore down on

the city, and in 472 appeared before the gates.

Athemius, in the mean time, had called to his

assistance a certain GILIMER, the Vandal governor of Gaul, who readily accepted the summons and came to the relief of Rome. Between

him and the Suevians a battle was fought before the city, and Gilimer was routed. Rome

was taken, and for the third time pillaged by

the. barbarians. Athemius was captured and

executed.

Ricimer, having thus reasserted his authority, next called to the throne a nobleman

named OLYBRIUS, to whom, by the command

of Genseric, Eudoxia had given her second

daughter in marriage. The shadow of legitimacy was thus again seen in the court of

Ravenna. In a short time, however, both

Genseric and Olybrius died. GLYCERIUS was

proclaimed by the army of Ricimer, but he

resigned almost immediately in favor of JULIUS

NEPOS. In the following year (A. D. 475)

the latter was also to lay down his authority.

Meanwhile death had cut short Ricimer's

career as a king-maker, and his power was

transferred to a Pannonian, named ORESTES,

who had passed a part of his life in the stockade

of Attila. It was this Orestes who, with his

title of patrician, compelled Nepos to retire

from the throne of Ravenna. Following the

example of Ricimer, he forebore to take the

throne for himself in order to confer it upon

his son, who now at the ripe age of six flourished

under the tremendous name of ROMULUS AUGUSTHLUS. With him the farce, so long protracted, was destined to come to an end.

Now out of the North came ODOACER, king

of the Heruli, a nation of Germansjoined as

he was by many other tribesand demanded

that his soldiers (for he had recently been in

the service of the Empire) should receive as

their reward one-third of the lands of Italy.

Orestes refused compliance with this demand,

and appealed to the Emperor of the East.

The latter could give no aid. The crisis was

at hand. The great clock in the tower of fate

sounded solemnly from the direction of the

Alps and was heard to the coast-lines of Bruttium. The ghosts of Caesar's victims rose from

the earth, and hovered in dense clouds along

the north. Then the apparition became real.

Orestes fled behind the walls of Pavia. The