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
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