Posted by: ken98 | February 24, 2010

Goths Fall, Not to Arms, but to Smiles

Day 166 – Ken here (W)(2-24-2010)
(DEF I, v.2, ch.25, pp.1080-1085)

Sorry for the shortness of today’s entry – just not feeling all that well at present.. but I’ll forge on…

But we finish the 26th chapter with the Goths stalemated, not by military prowess, but by diplomacy and bravado. Theodosius, in a bankrupt state has to get creative in order to save the empire once again from imminent destruction due to being overwhelmed by barbarian nations clamoring to be let into the frontiers of the empire.

We also finish the first volume – a major milestone in finishing the entire series of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall.


The Story
Destruction, Defeat of Goths (379-382)

  • Romans play off Visigoths off Ostrogoths, also the divisions within the Goth camp of pro and anti-Roman. They feast new king of Goths Athanaric, but Athanaric dies and Romans give him an expensive funeral. Goths are tranquilized. The nation is moved into the barren lands of Asia Minor – and allowed to keep their customs and local chieftains. Rome appoints the master-general Goths though
  • It is a comment on the general poverty and depopulation of the later 4th century that so many lands, once densely populated in ancient times now lie fallow and ready to be put to use by entire barbarian nations transferred onto the deserted farm lands – no wonder the empire is in such dire straits
  • Much Roman outcry over the immigrant problem and the lack of a melting pot – Goths remain separate population.
  • ACTUALLY a GOOD THING – Goths (see Jordanes) will solid Roman citizens in the next century – those in the Eastern Empire – actually this is the OLD ROMAN way – a federal union of nationalities, rather than a homogeneous imperial population – Romans have forgotten this
  • Ostrogoths (from beyond the Rhine) attack
    Ostrogoths (from beyond the Danube) attack

  • easily cross Danube now
  • but fall for Roman trap – Romans feed false information to spies – and lead the Goths into a slaughter while the Goths cross the Danube
  • The last pages of MY EDITION of the second volume of Gibbon - this is the end of my mammoth first book of the Decline and Fall.  It's been a wild and crazy ride so far - WHEW!!!!

    The last pages of MY EDITION of the second volume of Gibbon - this is the end of my mammoth first book of the Decline and Fall. It's been a wild and crazy ride so far - WHEW!!!!

    And We End the 2nd Volume
    We have now officially finished the second volume AND my first book (of the 3 books the 6 volumes are published in).
    An amazing adventure so far! Man! I’m kind of bushed.

    Theodosius I from the Missorium of Theodosius.  We are definitely in a different age.

    Theodosius I from the Missorium of Theodosius. We are definitely in a different age.

    We are in a New Age – Byzantine Politics of Poison, Spies and Diplomacy
    I’ve often wondered how Rome evolved from a military state to a highly rich and diplomatic state, which used spies, poison, and diplomacy to accomplish what legions accomplished before. I think partly it is due to scarcity of resources. Theodosius at this point is working with a razor thin margin between supporting the vast military necessary for maintaining the borders of the empire and total imperial bankruptcy. All he can do is do the cheapest thing (example: throw an elaborate banquet to impress the Goths, rather than marching his army to meet them in battle) – this is a very Byzantine solution to the problem of barbarian invasions – one which the empire will use over and over again in the future.



    Last Word…

    Gibbon on the state of the Imperial Dining Room
    The center of the empire has become little more than a stage for barbarians to strut and boast (and die). This from Gibbon:

    The Goths who considered themselves as the friends of peace, of justice, and of Rome, were directed by the authority of Fravitta, a valiant and honourable youth, distinguished above the rest of his countrymen by the politeness of his manners, the liberality of his sentiments, and the mild virtues of social life. But the more numerous faction adhered to the fierce and faithless Priulf, who inflamed the passions and asserted the independence of his warlike followers.

    On one of the solemn festivals, when the chiefs of both parties were invited to the Imperial table, they were insensibly heated by wine, till they forgot the usual restraints of discretion and respect, and betrayed in the presence of Theodosius the fatal secret of their domestic disputes. The emperor, who had been the reluctant witness of this extraordinary controversy, dissembled his fears and resentment, and soon dismissed the tumultuous assembly. Fravitta, alarmed and exasperated by the insolence of his rival, whose departure from the palace might have been the signal of a civil war, boldly followed him and, drawing his sword, laid Priulf dead at his feet. Their companions flew to arms; and the faithful champion of Rome would have been oppressed by superior numbers if he had not been protected by the seasonable interposition of the Imperial guards.

    Such were the scenes of barbaric rage which disgraced the palace and table of the Roman emperor; and, as the impatient Goths could only be restrained by the firm and temperate character of Theodosius, the public safety seemed to depend on the life and abilities of a single man

    (DEF I, v.2, ch.26, p. 1083)

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