Page 1058

1058 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

into Italy. The whole country south of Campania was speedily reduced. Capua and Naples were taken. Theodatus showing no signs of leadership in the emergency of his country

was deposed by the Gothic chiefs, who lifted

their general Vitigus upon their bucklers and

proclaimed him king. Theodatus fled and was

murdered in the Flaminian Way.

The old Roman faction of Italy, thoroughly

orthodox and thoroughly tired of the supremacy of the Goths, went over to Belisarius, and

the city of the Caesars was once more rescued

from barbarism. The king of the Goths, however, collected a formidable army in the North

and in the spring of 537 besieged Belisarius

in Rome. A line of fortifications was drawn

around the city. Many of the ancient structures were demolished and the material rebuilt

into the ramparts. The mausoleums of the

old Emperors were converted into citadels.

When the Goths swarmed around the sepulcher of Hadrian, the immortal marbles of

Praxiteles and Lysippus were torn from their

pedestals and hurled down upon the heads of

the barbarians in the ditch. Belisarius made

one audacious sortie after another, hurling

back his inveterate assailants. Nearly the

whole Gothic nation gathered around the

Eternal City, but Belisarius held out until reinforcements arrived from the East, and after

a siege of a year and nine days' duration,

Rome was delivered from the clutch of her assailants. Vitiges was obliged to burn his tents

and retreat before his pursuing antagonist to

Ravenna.

Great were the present afflictions of Italy.

In the brief interval which followed the withdrawal of the Gothic king from Rome, the

Frank, Theodebert, king of Gaul, sent down

from the Alps an army of Burgundians to espouse the cause of the Goths. The city of

Milan, which had gone over to Belisarius, was

by them besieged, taken, and dismantled. In

the next year (A. D. 539) Theodebert himself, with an army of a hundred thousand

Frankish warriors, entered Italy, and encamped on the Po. It soon became evident

that by him the Goth and the Roman were to

be treated without discrimination. Theodebert

fell at the same time upon the opposing camps of Belisarius and Vitiges, and drove every

thing before him. Soon, however, the provisions of the Franks were exhausted, and a pestilence broke out among them which swept

away a third of their army. The turbulent

warriors demanded to be led back to their

homes beyond the Alps, and Theodebert was

constrained to comply with their wishes. The

barbarian horde was quickly withdrawn, and

Belisarius again found opportunity to follow

up his successes against Vitiges.

The king of the Goths now shut himself

up in the impregnable fortifications of Ravenna. The Roman general laid siege to the

place, and awaited the results of impending

famine. He vigilantly guarded the approaches

to the city, cut off supplies, fired the exposed

granaries, and even poisoned the waters of the

city. In the midst of their distress the Goths,

conceiving that Belisarius, but for his obedience to Justinian, would make them a better

king than their own, offered to surrender

if he would renounce his allegiance to the

Emperor of the East and accept the crown of

Italy. Belisarius seemed to comply. Ravenna

was given up by the Goths, and the victor

took possession. It was, however, no part of

the purpose of Belisarius to prove a traitor to

the Emperor, though the conduct of Justinian

towards himself furnished an excellent excuse

for treason. The suspicion of the thing done

soon reached Constantinople, and Justinian

made haste to recall the conqueror from the

West. So the hero, who had well-nigh recovered the entire Western Empire of the Romans, took ship at Ravenna and sailed for the

Eastern capital.

With the departure of Belisarius the courage of the Goths revived. They still possessed

Pavia, which was defended by a thousand warriors, and, what was far more valuable, the

unconquerable love of freedom. Totila, a

nephew of Vitiges,was called to the throne,

and entrusted with the work of reestablishing

the kingdom. Of the Roman generals whom

Belisarius left behind him in Italy, not one

proved equal to the task of meeting the Goth

in the field. The latter traversed the country

without opposition, marched through the heart

of Italy, and compelled submission even to