Posted by: ken98 | April 23, 2010

Italian Food Kills and Two Saints Give Rome a Three Year Reprieve

Day 224 – Ken here (F)(4-23-2010)
(DEF II, v.3, ch.34 pp.340-350)(pages read: 1440)

The Story
 
Battle of Chalons, Retreat and Aftermath
 
  • Primarily a conflict between Visigoths of Gaul (Theodoric) and Attila’s Huns
  • Approximations of dead at end of battle at the end of the day – 160,000 – 300,000
  • Great defeat of Attila
  • Visigothic king Theodoric killed in battle
  • Attila retreats to circle of wagons – a bad situation for the Huns – unused to siege warfare
  • Attila expects to be annihilated, so he threatens the Goths from behind his wall of wagons all night
  • Visigoths and the new king (Torismond – son of Theodoric) swear vengeance on Huns for Theodoric’s death
  • Start on seige, but give up – it is said the roman General Aetius persuaded them to forego it – because he feared the Goths would gain the ascendancy if they defeated the Huns
  • Attila retreats back up to Middle Europe – his allies the Thuringians massacre the Franks as they pass thru Frankish terr. – the Franks will in turn (in 80 years) massacre the thuringians
  •  

    Attila’s Invasion of Italy (452)
     
  • Attila moves slowly in, besieges Aquileia with war engines. (Aquileia is the most prosperous city in Northern Italy on the Hadriatic) – Almost leaves it untaken, but at the last minute continues the siege – he takes it and 100 years later Cassiodorus cannot even find the site of the city accurately
  • He roams thru Venetia, Lombardy – destroying the cities of Lombardy (or sparing them as the legends – not history exactly) tell us about this time
  • cities of Venetia destroyed – Altinum, Concordia, Padua, Bergamo, Verona destroyed – Milan and Pavia submitted. Comum, Turin, Modena ravaged
  • The emperor Valentinian III abandons Ravenna and moves to Rome (not for defensive purposes, apparently but to allow him to escape more easily to the East when the West should fall to Attila)
  •  

    Foundation of Venice – Attila was the Last Straw
     
  • Attila does Venice a favor – utterly destroys the 50 cities of Venetia – forces the citizens to move into the swamps and low-lying islands at the head of the Hadriatic where their wealth cannot be in land, but in salt, fish, and most importantly trade
  • This is the end of Antiquity for the Venetians and the beginning of the Republic – or at least the city on the sea – 450’s
  • Cassiodorus writes in the 520’s of the poverty, but safety of the Venetians under the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy
  •  

    Attila Gives Peace to Rome – the Legends of Attila and Leo and the City
     
  • Attila debates whether to attack and sack Rome or not (452)
  • The Romans negotiate through Pope Leo and the Senator Avienus – Attila is deflected from attacking Rome
  • Rome promises to deliver the dowry of Honoria in exchange for no attack – the dowry of Honoria is 1/2 the Western empire – hardly the negotiating triumph – whether Rome will actually follow thru on its agreement is anyone’s guess – knowing their track record probably not
  • Legand has it that Attila is deferred from attacking because “bad luck” attends all who sack the Eternal City – Attila IS SUPERSTITIOUS but he is more pragmatist than ignorant barbarian – this seems pretty unlikely to me – besides he had 1/2 the roman empire at this point
  • Another legend – that St Peter and Paul appeared personally in front of Attila and warned him to stop – i won’t comment on that – except to say that in 3 years (455) the Vandals and Alaric will utterly sack Rome and the Sts Peter and Paul had no effect on them at that time – but I suppose the Huns cast a longer legendary shadow than the mere Vandals did
  •  

     
     

    Painting of Visigoths Sack Of Rome (410) by J N Sylvestre 1890.  The first time the city of Rome was sacked, no saintly appearances marked the event, and the sack went off without a hitch

    Painting of Visigoths Sack Of Rome (410) by J N Sylvestre 1890. The first time the city of Rome was sacked, no saintly appearances marked the event, and the sack went off without a hitch. the Visigoths apparently worked out a lot

     

    A Legendary Meeting, But a Divine Enigma – One Sack Avoided, Many Allowed
     

    Pope Leo in 452 met and pleaded (eloquently) for the sparing of Rome by the Huns during Attila’s Italian Campaign. The Huns were a high-profile invasion (after all, they seemed as luck-filled, unstoppable, and undefeatable as Napolean in the first decade of the 1800’s), and personages no less important than the apostles Peter and Paul were reported to have accompanied Leo and severely cautioned Attila from attacking Rome.

    This became a well-beloved and often-pictured event in Rome’s (and the Papacy’s ) history. Why was Rome saved in 452, but not in 410 when it was sacked for the 1st time since 387 BCE (nearly 800 years)? Puzzling. Why was Rome saved in 452, and not in 455 (3 years later) when the Vandals sailed in and really pillaged it. Was it because the Vandals were German and not Asian like the Huns, or because the Vandals were nominally Christian (Arian Christians)?

    This from Gibbon on the appearance of Peter and Paul to save the Romans from the pagan Huns:

    The pressing eloquence of Leo, his majestic aspect and sacerdotal robes, excited the veneration of Attila for the spiritual father of the Christians. The apparition of the two apostles of St. Peter and St. Paul, who menaced the barbarian with instant death if he rejected the prayer of their successor, is one of the noblest legends of ecclesiastical tradition. The safety of Rome might deserve the interposition of celestial beings; and some indulgence is due to a fable which has been represented by the pencil of Raphael and the chisel of Algardi.(66)

    and from the footnote:

    Note 066
    The picture of Raphael is in the Vatican; the basso (or perhaps the alto) relievo of Algardi on one of the altars of St. Peter’s (see Dubos, Reflexions sur la Poesie et sur la Peinture, tom. i. p. 519, 520). Baronius (Annal. Eccles. A.D. 452, No. 57, 58) bravely sustains the truth of the apparition, which is rejected, however, by the most learned and pious Catholics.

    (DEF II, V.35, p.349 fn.66)
     

    Fresco of Raphael - Pope Leo arguing before Attila for Rome - accompanied by the apostles Peter and Paul.  It is a well-known event in the history of the Papacy - this argument of the Bishop of Rome (Leo the Great) augmented by the admonitions of 2 of the most powerful saints.  It doesn't make much sense politically (Rome was to be utterly destroyed and pillaged in just 3 years by Germans (the Vandals).  But as an example of the rising absolute political importance of (all) Bishops in Late Roman political life - it is a very good example of significant shifts in power

    Fresco of Raphael - Pope Leo arguing before Attila for Rome - accompanied by the apostles Peter and Paul. It is a well-known event in the history of the Papacy - this argument of the Bishop of Rome (Leo the Great) augmented by the admonitions of 2 of the most powerful saints. It doesn't make much sense politically (Rome was to be utterly destroyed and pillaged in just 3 years by Germans (the Vandals). But as an example of the rising absolute political importance of (all) Bishops in Late Roman political life - it is a very good example of significant shifts in power

     
     
     

    Gibbon suggest this is the Secret Weapon of the Ancient Italians - a photo of Italian Food - admittedly modern and not Late Antique - but then maybe weaponry has progressed in the last 1500 years

    Gibbon suggest this is the Secret Weapon of the Ancient Italians - a photo of Italian Food - admittedly modern and not Late Antique - but then maybe weaponry has progressed in the last 1500 years

    Last Word…

    Huns Undone by Italian Cooking
     

    The poor Huns, during the conquest of Italy suffered horribly from some digestive malady that swept through their camp. Gibbon, writing from the un-medically-enlightened Enlightenment of the last decade of the 18th century, takes the ancient sources at their word, and assigns the blame to a change in diet. The Huns STOPPED eating raw flesh and milk (bad move) and started eating wine, bread, and cooked meat (very bad idea). They suffered and died. Who knew that the secret weapon of the Roman Empire was cooking their food?

    This from Gibbon:

    Their martial spirit was relaxed by the wealth and indolence of a warm climate. The shepherds of the North, whose ordinary food consisted of milk and raw flesh, indulged themselves too freely in the use of bread, of wine, and of meat prepared and seasoned by the arts of cookery; and the progress of disease revenged in some measure the injuries of the Italians.

    and this from the footnote:

    Note 064
    Si statim infesto agmine urbem petiissent, prande discrimen esset: sed in Venetia quo fere tractu Italia mollissima est, ipsa soli coelique clementia robur elanguit. Ad hoc panis usu carnisque coctae, et dulcedine vini mitigatos, etc. This passage of Florus (iii. 3) is still more applicable to the Huns than to the Cimbri, and it may serve as a commentary on the celestial plague with which Idatius and Isidore have afflicted the troops of Attila.

    (DEF II, v.3, p.349)

    Why is he trusting Florus on this one?

    Advertisements

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

    Connecting to %s

    Categories

    %d bloggers like this: