|8 - 1 KING ATHALARIC TO THE EMPEROR JUSTIN (A.D. 526): The accession of Athalaric announced to the Emperor
'Most earnestly do I seek your friendship, oh most clement of Princes,
who are made even more illustrious by the wide extension of your
favours than by the purple robe and the kingly throne. On this
friendship I have an hereditary claim. My father was adorned by you
with the palm-enwoven robe of the Consul [Eutharic, Consul 519] and
adopted as a son in arms, a name which I, as one of a younger
generation, could more fittingly receive. My grandfather also
received curule honours from you in your city. Love and
friendship should pass from parents to their offspring, while hatred
should be buried in the tomb; and therefore with confidence, as one
who by reason of my tender years cannot be an object of suspicion to
you, and as one whose ancestors you have already known and cherished,
I claim from you your friendship on the same compacts and conditions
on which your renowned predecessors granted it to my lord and
grandfather of Divine memory. It will be to me something better
than dominion to have the friendship of so excellent and so mighty a
ruler. My ambassadors (A and B) will open the purport of their
commission more fully to your Serenity.'
|8 - 2 KING ATHALARIC TO THE SENATE OF THE CITY OF ROME ON HIS ACCESSION
(A.D. 526): To the Senate.
'Great must be the joy of all orders of the State at hearing of the
accession of a new ruler, above all of a peaceful succession, without
war, without sedition, without loss of any kind to the Republic.
'Such has been our succession to our grandfather. On account of the
glory of the Amal race, which yields to none, the hope of our
youth has been preferred to the merits of all others. The chiefs,
glorious in council and in war, have flocked to recognise us as King
so gladly, so unmurmuringly, that it seems like a Divine inspiration,
and the kingdom has been changed as one changes a garment.
'The institution of royalty is consolidated when power thus passes
from one generation to another, and when a good prince lives again,
not in statues of brass but in the lineaments and the character of his
'The general consent of Goths and Romans [at Ravenna] has crowned us
King, and they have confirmed their allegiance by an oath. You, though
separated from us by space, are, we know, as near to us in heart as
they; and we call upon you therefore to follow their example. We all
know that the most excellent fathers of the Senate love their King
more fervently than other ranks of the State, in proportion to the
greater benefits which they have received at his hand.
'And since one should never enter your Curia empty-handed, we have
sent our Count, the Illustrious Sigismer, with certain persons to
administer the oath to you. If you have any requests to make to us
which shall be for the common benefit of the Republic, make them
through him, and they are granted beforehand.'
|8 - 3 KING ATHALARIC TO THE ROMAN PEOPLE (A.D. 526): To the citizens of Rome.
'If a stranger to the royal line were succeeding to the throne, you
might doubt whether the friendship between him and you would endure,
and might look for a reversal of the policy of his predecessors. But
now the person of the King only, not his policy, is changed. We are
determined to follow the revered maxims of our predecessor, and to
load with even more abundant benefits those whom he most kindly
'Everything was so ordered by our glorious grandfather that on his
death the glad consent of Goths called us to our kingdom; and that no
doubt might remain upon the matter they pledged themselves by an oath
most cordially taken, to accept us as their ruler. We invite you to
follow their example, and like Trajan, we, the Sovereign, in whose
name all oaths are made, will also swear to you. The bearers of this
letter will receive your sworn promise, and will give you ours, "by
the Lord's help to observe justice and fair clemency, the nourisher of
the nations; that Goths and Romans shall meet with impartial
treatment at our hands; and that there shall be no other division
between the two nations, except that _they_ undergo the labours of war
for the common benefit, while _you_ are increased in numbers by your
peaceable inhabitancy of the City of Rome." Raise then your
spirits, and hope for even better things and more tranquillity, under
God's blessing, from our reign than from that of our predecessor.'
|8 - 5 KING ATHALARIC TO ALL THE GOTHS SETTLED IN ITALY (A.D. 526): To the Goths.
'Gladly would we have announced to you the prolonged life of our lord
and grandfather; but inasmuch as he has been withdrawn by hard fate
from us who loved him, he has substituted us, by Divine command, as
heirs of his kingdom, that through us his successors in blood, he
might make the benefits which he has conferred on you perpetual. And
in truth we hope not only to defend but to increase the blessings
wrought by him. All the Goths in the Royal City [Ravenna] have taken
the oaths to us. Do you do the same by this Count whom we send to you.
'Receive then a name which ever brought prosperity to your race, the
royal offshoot of the Amals, the sprout of the Balthae, a
childhood clad in purple. Ye are they by whom, with God's help, our
ancestors were borne to such a height of honour, and obtained an ever
higher place amid the serried ranks of kings.'
|8 - 7 KING ATHALARIC TO ALL THE PROVINCIALS SETTLED IN GAUL (A.D. 526): To the Gaulish subjects of Athalaric.
'Our grandfather of glorious memory is dead, but we have succeeded
him, and will faithfully repay, both on his account and our own, the
loyalty of our subjects.
'So unanimous was the acclamation of our [Italian] subjects when we
succeeded to the throne, that the thing seemed to be of God rather
than of man.
'We now invite you to follow their example, that the Goths may give
their oath to the Romans, and the Romans may confirm it by a
_Sacramentum_ to the Goths, that they are unanimously devoted to our
'Thus will your loyalty be made manifest, and concord and justice
flourish among you.'
|8 - 8 KING ATHALARIC TO VICTORINUS, VIR VENERABILIS AND BISHOP (A.D. 526): To Bishop Victorinus.
'Saluting you with all the veneration due to your character and
office, we inform you with grief of the death of our lord and
grandfather. But your sadness will be moderated when you hear that his
kingdom is continued in us. Favour us with your prayers, that the King
of Heaven may confirm to us the kingdom, subdue foreign nations before
us, forgive us our sins, and propitiously preserve all that He was
pleased to bestow on our ancestors. Let your Holiness exhort all the
Provincials to concord.'
|8 - 9 KING ATHALARIC TO TULUM, PATRICIAN: Praises of Tulum, who is raised to the Patriciate.
'As our grandfather used to refresh his mind and strengthen his
judgment by intercourse with you, so, _à fortiori_, may we in our
tender years do the same. We therefore make you, by this present
letter, Patrician, that the counsels which you give us may not seem to
proceed from any unknown and obscure source.
'Greece adorned our hero [Tulum] with the chlamys and the painted
silken buskin; and the Eastern peoples yearned to see him, because
for some reason civic virtues are most prized in him who is believed
to be of warlike disposition. Contented with this repayment of
honour he laboured with unwearied devotion for foreign countries (?),
and with his relations (or parents) he deigned to offer his obedience
to the Sovereign, who was begotten of the stock of so many Kings.
[Footnote 510: 'Hac igitur honoris remuneratione contentus, pro
exteris partibus indefessa devotione laboravit: et praestare com suis
parentibus principi dignabatur obsequium, qui tantorum regum fuerat
stirpe procreatus.' This sentence is full of difficulties. What can he
mean by the labour 'pro exteris partibus?' Who is the 'Princeps' whom
Tulum deigns to serve: the Eastern Emperor or Theodoric? Above all,
who is 'tantorum regum stirpe procreatus?' I think the turn of the
sentence requires that it should be Tulum; but Dahn has evidently not
so understood it, for in his Könige der Germanen (iii. 29, 30) he
makes Tulum a conspicuous example of a man not of noble birth raised
to high dignity, and says that the two long letters about him in the
Variae contain no allusion to illustrious descent.]
'His toil so formed your character that we have the less need to
labour. With you he discussed the sure blessings of peace, the
doubtful gains of war; and--rare boon from a wise King--to you, in his
anxiety, he confidently opened all the secrets of his breast. You,
however, responded fully to his trust. You never put him off with
doubtful answers. Ever patient and truthful, you won the entire
confidence of your King, and dared even, hardest of all tasks, to
argue against him for his own good.
'Thus did your noble deeds justify your alliance with the Amal race
[apparently he has received an Amal princess in marriage], and thus
did you become worthy to be joined in common fame with Gensemund, a
man whose praises the whole world should sing, a man only made son by
adoption in arms to the King, yet who exhibited such fidelity to the
Amals that he transferred it even to their heirs, although he was
himself sought for to be crowned. Therefore will his fame live
for ever, so long as the Gothic name endures.
'We look for even nobler things from you, because you are allied to us
|8 - 10 KING ATHALARIC TO THE SENATE OF THE CITY OF ROME: On the elevation of Tulum to the Patriciate.
'We are conferring new lustre on your body by the promotion of Tulum.
A man sprung from the noblest stock he early undertook the duties
of attendance in the King's bedchamber, a difficult post, where
the knowledge that you share the secret counsels of royalty itself
exposes you to enmity.
'In the dawn of manhood he went forth with our army to the war of
Sirmium [A.D. 504], showed what one of our young nobles bred in peace
could do in war, triumphed over the Huns, and gave to slaughter
the Bulgarians, terrible to the whole world. Such warriors do even our
nurseries send forth: thus does the preparation of a courageous heart
supersede the necessity for martial training.
'Returned to the Court he became the most intimate counsellor of the
King, who arranged with him all his plans for campaign, and so
admitted him to his most secret thoughts that Tulum could always
anticipate how Theodoric would act in every fresh conjuncture of
events; and it may be said "by offering him counsel he ruled the
'He then distinguished himself in the Gaulish campaign [A.D. 508],
where he was already enrolled among the generals, directing the
campaign by his prudence, and bravely sharing its dangers. In the
fierce fight which was waged at Arles for the possession of the
covered bridge across the Rhone, the bravery of our _candidatus_
was everywhere conspicuous, and he received many honourable wounds,
those best and most eloquent champions of a soldier's courage.
'But a general ought not to be always fighting. I have pleasure in
relating his next success, which was brilliant yet achieved without
bloodshed. When the Frank and Burgundian again fell out, he was sent
to Gaul [A.D. 523] to defend our frontier from hostile incursion. He
then obtained for the Roman Republic, without any trouble, a whole
Province while others were fighting. It was a triumph without a
battle, a palm-branch without toil, a victory without slaughter.
'So great were his services in this campaign that Theodoric considered
that he ought to be rewarded by the possession of large lands in the
district which he had added to our dominions.
'A storm overtook him on his return to Italy: the remembrance of the
vanished danger of that storm is sweet to us now. In the wide,
foaming sea his ship was swallowed up. He had to save himself by
rowing; the sailors perished; he alone with the dear pledge of his
love [one child?] escaped. Theodoric rushed to the shore, and would
have dashed into the waves to save his friend, but had the delight of
receiving him unharmed, saved manifestly by Divine protection for his
'Favour then, Conscript Fathers, the ambition of our _candidatus_, and
open for the man of our choice the Hall of Liberty. The race of
Romulus deserves to have such martial colleagues as Tulum.'
|8 - 11 TULUM, ILLUSTRIS AND PATRICIAN, TO THE SENATE OF THE CITY OF ROME: Tulum's address to the Senate.
'I pray you to receive favourably the order of the King which makes me
a member of your body.
'I have ever favoured the dignity of the Senate, as if with a
prescience that I should one day hold it. When I shared the counsels
of Theodoric, that chief of Kings, of glorious memory, I often by my
intercessions obtained for members of your body Consulships,
Patriciates, Praefectures; and now, behold, I am similarly honoured
myself. Reflect, I pray, that by my accepting it, the genius of the
Patriciate is exalted, since none of my fellow-countrymen will hold
cheaply that rank in you which he sees honoured in me. Live in
security, by the blessing of God; enjoy your prosperity with your
children; and strive, now as always, to show forth the true Roman type
of character. I shall defend those with whom I am now associated.'
|8 - 12 KING ATHALARIC TO ARATOR, VIR ILLUSTRIS: Bestowing on him the rank of Comes Domesticorum.
'By raising Tulum to the Patriciate we have provided for the military
strength of the State. Now must we see to it that she is equally
adorned by the glory of letters, and for this purpose we raise you,
still in the prime of life, to the rank of _Comes Domesticorum_. By
your example it was seen that eloquence could be acquired elsewhere
than at Rome, since in your own Province [probably Dalmatia] your
father, who was an extremely learned man, taught you to excel in this
art: a happy lot for you, who obtained from your father's love that
accomplishment which most youths have to acquire with terror from a
'That I may say something here of a very _recherché_ character, I
may mention that, according to some, letters were first invented by
Mercury, who watched the flight of cranes by the Strymon, and turned
the shapes assumed by their flying squadron into forms expressive of
the various sounds of the human voice.
'You were sent upon a stately embassy by the Provincials of
Dalmatia to our grandfather; and there, not in commonplace words but
with a torrent of eloquence, you so set forth their needs and the
measures which would be for the advantage of the public, that
Theodoric, a man of cautious temperament, listened to your flow of
words without weariness, and all men desired still to listen, when you
|8 - 13 KING ATHALARIC TO AMBROSIUS: Conferring on him the Quaestorship.
'A steady gradation of honours secures good servants for the State.
You have already served with credit the office of Count of the Private
Largesses. And you have also filled satisfactorily the place of a high
official who was dismissed in disgrace. We now therefore promote
you to the office of Quaestor, and expect you to be the Pliny to the
new Trajan. Let your eloquent tongue adorn all that we have to say,
and be fearless in suggesting to us all that is for the welfare of the
State. A good Sovereign always allows his ministers to speak to him on
behalf of justice, while it is the sure mark of a tyrant to refuse to
listen to the voice of the ancient maxims of law. Remember that
celebrated saying of Trajan to an orator: "Plead, if I am a good
ruler, for the Republic and me; if I am a bad one, for the Republic
against me." But remember, that if we are thus severe upon
ourselves we are equally strict with regard to you, and expect you to
follow the example of your noble ancestors, and to abstain from
everything like an infraction of the laws. We confer upon you the
insignia of the Quaestorship for this fifth Indiction' [Sept. 1,
526--Sept. 1, 527].
|8 - 14 KING ATHALARIC TO THE SENATE OF THE CITY OF ROME: elevation of Ambrosius to the Quaestorship.
'As a kind of door to our royal favour do we appoint Ambrosius to be
our Quaestor. You know his merits of old: but, to speak only of recent
matters, we may remind you that when your hearts were wrung with
grief for the death of our glorious grandfather, it was by his mouth
that we assured you of our determination to continue to you the
blessings of good government.
'The presence of Ambrosius is full of dignity, and has a soothing
influence which the words of his speech do but confirm. It is
unfortunate for an orator to have eloquence for his only gift, and to
have to obliterate by his oration the unfavourable effect produced on
the multitude by his appearance.
'We consider it not necessary to praise his eloquence. Of course a
Quaestor is eloquent. While some have the government of a Province
committed to them, others the care of the Treasury, he receives the
ensigns of his dignity in order that by him his Sovereign's fame may
be spread abroad through the whole world.'
|8 - 15 KING ATHALARIC TO THE SENATE OF THE CITY OF ROME: Election of Pope Felix III.
'We profess that we hear with great satisfaction that you have
responded to the judgment of our glorious lord and grandfather in your
election of a Bishop. It was right in sooth to obey the will of a good
Sovereign, who, handling the matter with wise deliberation, although
it had reference to a form of faith alien from his own, thought
fit to select such a Pontiff as could rightfully be displeasing to
none. You may thus recognise that his one chief desire was that
Religion might flourish by good priests being supplied to all the
'You have received then a man both admirably endowed with Divine grace
and approved by royal scrutiny. Let no one any longer be involved in
the old contention. There is no disgrace in being conquered when the
King's power has helped the winning side. That man makes him [the
successful candidate] his own, who manifests to him pure affection.
For what cause for regret can there be, when you find in this man,
those very qualities which you looked for in the other when you
embraced his party?
'These are family quarrels, a battle without cold steel, a
contest without hatred: by shouts, not wounds, a matter like this is
'For even though the person who is desired be taken from you, yet
naught is lost by the faithful, since the longed-for priesthood is
possessed by them. [They have a Pope, if not just the Pope whom they
wished for.] Wherefore on the return of your Legate, the Illustrious
Publianus, we have thought it right to send to your assembly these
letters of salutation. For we taste one of our highest pleasures when
we exchange words with our nobles; and we doubt not that this is very
sweet to you also, when you reflect that what you did by our
grandsire's order is personally agreeable to ourselves.'
|8 - 16 KING ATHALARIC TO OPILIO, COUNT OF THE SACRED LARGESSES (527): Opilio appointed Comes Sacrarum Largitionum.
'It is generally necessary to weigh carefully the merits of a new
aspirant to the honours of the Court (aulicas dignitates); but in your
case the merits of your family render this examination needless. Both
your father and brother held the same office which we are now
entrusting to you, and one may say that this dignity has taken up its
abode in your house.
'You learned the duties of a subordinate in the office under your
brother; and often did he, leaning upon you as on a staff, take a
little needful repose, knowing that all things would be attended to by
you. The crowds of suppliants who resorted to him with their
grievances, shared the confidence which the people had in you, and saw
that you were already assuming the character of a good judge.
'Most useful also were your services to the throne at the commencement
of the new reign, when men's minds were in trouble as to what should
happen next. You bore the news of our accession to the Ligurians, and
so strengthened them by your wise address that the error into which
they had been betrayed by the sun-setting was turned into joy at the
rising of our empire.'
'We therefore confer upon you the dignity of Count of the Sacred
Largesses from this sixth Indiction (Sept. 1, 527). Enjoy all the
privileges and emoluments which belonged to your predecessors. God
forbid that those whose own actions are right should be shaken by any
machinations of calumny. There was a time when even Judges were
harassed by informers (delatores); but that time is over. Lay aside
then all fear, you who have no errors to reproach yourself with, and
freely enjoy the advantages of your dignity. Imitate your brother:
even though a little way behind him you will still be before most
holders of the office. He was a man of the highest authority and of
proved constancy, and the highest testimony to his merits was afforded
by the fact that even under a successor who was hostile to him the
whole official staff of the palace was loud in his praises.'
[This letter is of great importance, as containing indirectly the
expression of Cassiodorus' opinion on the trial of Boethius, and the
tendency of that opinion seems to be against him and in favour of his
accusers. Comparing this letter with v. 40, addressed to Cyprian,
Cornes Sacrarum Largitionum and _son of Opilio_, we may with something
like certainty construct this genealogical table:
C.S.L. (? son of the Consul of 453).
C.S.L. 524. C.S.L. 527.
Now Cyprian, whose ready wit and ingenious eloquence had rendered him
a favourite with Theodoric, is represented to us in the 'Philosophiae
Consolatio' of Boethius (I. iv.) and in the 'Anonymus Valesii' (85) as
the informer by whom Albinus and Boethius were accused of high
treason. Opilio too (no doubt the same as the receiver of this letter)
is described by Boethius (loc. cit.) as a man who on account of his
numberless frauds had been ordered by the King to go into banishment,
had taken refuge at the altar, and had been sternly bidden to leave
Ravenna before a given day, and then had purchased pardon by coming
forward as a _delator_ against Boethius.
Against all this passionate invective it is fair to set this
remarkable letter of Cassiodorus, written it is true in the young
King's name and presenting the Court view of these transactions, but
still written after the death of Theodoric, and perhaps republished by
Cassiodorus in the 'Variarum' after the downfall of the Gothic
Monarchy. In any case the allusions to _delatores_ in this letter,
considering the history of Opilio and his brother, are extraordinary.]
|8 - 17 KING ATHALARIC TO THE SENATE OF THE CITY OF ROME: The same subject.
This letter, though it does not mention the name of Opilio, is
evidently written on his promotion to the office of Comes Sacrarum
Largitionum. It enumerates his good qualities, and declares that it is
marvellous and almost fortunate for Athalaric that so suitable a
candidate should not have been promoted in the reign of his
grandfather. The father of Opilio was a man of noble character and
robust body, who distinguished himself by his abstinence from the
vices of the times and his preference for dignified repose in the
stormy period of Odovacar.
'He was reputed an excellent man in those times, when the Sovereign
was not a man of honour. But why go back to his parentage, when
his brother has set so noble an example. The friendship, the rivalry
in virtue of these two brothers, is worthy of the good old times. Both
are true to their friends; both are devoid of avarice. Both have kept
their loyalty to their King unspotted, and no marvel, since they have
first shown themselves true to their friends and colleagues.
'Distinguished by these virtues, our candidate has been fittingly
allied by marriage with the noble family of Basilius.
'He has managed his private affairs so as to avoid the two extremes of
parsimony and extravagance. He has become popular with the Goths by
his manner of life, and with the Romans by his righteous
judgments; and has been over and over again chosen as a referee
(Judex privatus), thus showing the high opinion in which his integrity
'The Conscript Fathers are exhorted to endorse the favourable judgment
of the King, by welcoming the new Count of Sacred Largesses into their
|8 - 18 KING ATHALARIC TO FELIX, QUAESTOR (527): Promotion of Felix to the Quaestorship.
'It is desirable that those who are appointed as Judges should know
something of law, and most unfitting that he whom so many officials
(_milites_) obey should be seen to be dependent for his law on some
one of his subordinates.
'You long ago, when engaged in civil causes as an Advocate, were
marked out by your Sovereign's eye. He noted your eloquence, your
fidelity, your youthful beauty, and your maturity of mind. No client
could ask for more devotion than you showed in his cause; no Judge
found in you anything to blame.
'Receive then now the dignity of Quaestor for this sixth Indiction
(Sept. 1, 527), and judge in the Courts where hitherto you have
'You are called Felix; act so as always to merit that name; for it is
absurd to have a name which denotes one thing and to display the
opposite in one's character. We think we have now said enough for a
man of your good conscience. Many admonitions seem to imply a doubt of
the character of him who receives them.' [A maxim often forgotten by
|8 - 19 KING ATHALARIC TO THE SENATE OF THE CITY OF ROME: promotion of Felix.
'As the sky with stars, or the meadow with flowers, so do we wish the
Senate to be resplendent with the men of eminence whom we introduce
into it. It is itself a seminary of Senators; but our favour and the
dignities of our Court also rear them.
'The Quaestorship is the true mother of the senatorial dignity, since
who can be fitter to take his seat in the Curia than he who has shared
the counsels of his Sovereign?
'You know the eloquence of our candidate [Felix], his early triumphs,
his modesty, his fidelity. To leave such a man unpromoted were a
public loss; and he will always love the laws by the practice of which
he has risen to eminence.
'Nor is he the first of his race to earn rhetorical distinction. His
father shone so brilliantly in the Forum of Milan, that he bloomed
forth with undying fruits from the soil of Cicero. He stood
against Magnus Olybrius, he was found equal in fluency to
Eugenius and many others whom Rome knew as foremost in their
art. If the transmission of material wealth by long descent makes men
noble, how much more should the inheritance of the treasures of the
intellect give nobility.'
|8 - 20 KING ATHALARIC TO ALBIENUS, VIR ILLUSTRIS AND PRAEFECTUS
PRAETORIO (527): Albienus made Praetorian Praefect.
'Your predecessor has been the model of a bad governor. As the North
wind clears the face of the sky from the rain and clouds brought by
the South wind, so do we look to you to repair the evils wrought by
his misgovernment. In all things your best maxim will be to do exactly
the opposite of what he did. He made himself hateful by his unjust
prosecutions: do you become popular by your righteous deeds. He was
rapacious: be you moderate. Soothe and relieve the harassed people
entrusted to your charge. Receive for this sixth Indiction [Sept. 1,
527-528] the fasces of the Praefecture, and let the office of
Praetorian Praefect return to its ancient fame, an object of praise to
the whole world. This office dates from Joseph, and rightly is he
who holds it called by our laws Father of the Provinces, Father of the
'See that you avoid all unjust exactions. We cannot bear that our
Treasury should be filled by unrighteous means.
'Your descent from a father who has held the same high office, and
your intimate knowledge of the _Dicta prudentum_, warrant us in
believing that you will make a good judge.'
|8 - 22 KING ATHALARIC TO THE SENATE OF THE CITY OF ROME: Cyprian's elevation to the Patriciate.
In these two letters the high character and distinguished services of
Cyprian are commemorated. 'Under Theodoric he distinguished himself
both in war and peace. At the time of the war of Sirmium he was
conspicuous both in his resistance to the fiery onslaught of the
Bulgarians and in his active pursuit of them when their ranks were
broken. He then filled, with great credit to himself, the office
of Referendarius. Great was the responsibility of exercising
peaceful as well as warlike offices under such a master as Theodoric.
In fact the training for one was helpful for the other, since it
required a soldier's courage and promptness to be always ready with a
truthful and accurate reply to that keen, firm-minded ruler of
'Thence he was promoted to the dignity of Count of the Sacred
Largesses, a post well suited to his pure, self-restrained
character. He is now growing old in body, but ever young in fame,
and the King heartily wishes him increase of years to enjoy his
'Rightly, too, is there now conferred upon him the dignity of
_Patricius_, since he is the father of such noble sons, men whose
childhood was passed in the palace under the very eye of Theodoric
(thus like young eagles already learning to gaze upon the sun), and
who now cultivate the friendship of the Goths, learn from them all
martial exercises, speak their language, and thus give evident tokens
of their future fidelity to the Gothic nation.
'The Senate is therefore exhorted to welcome its thus promoted
colleague, who at each accession of rank has shown himself yet
worthier of his high place, and whom grandfather and grandson have
both delighted to honour. Thus will it renew the glories of the Decii
and the Corvini, who were its sons in the days of old.'
|8 - 23 KING ATHALARIC TO BERGANTINUS, VIR ILLUSTRIS AND COMES PATRIMONII: Gifts to Theodahad.
'Kings should always be generous, but especially to those of their own
'Therefore we desire your Greatness to transfer the farms herein
described, to the exalted and most honourable Theodahad, weighing out
to him so many solidi, out of that which was formerly the patrimony of
his magnificent Mother; and we guarantee to him the absolute ownership
of such farms, free from any claims to the inheritance on our
'We trust to his sincerity and good faith, that in the future he will
deserve the remainder of the above-mentioned patrimony, with the
addition of the whole quantity.
'What can we deny to such a man, whose obedience might claim a higher
reward even were he not our cousin--a man who is not puffed up by any
pride of his noble birth, humble in his modesty, always uniform in his
prudence? Therefore instruct the Cartarii of your office to make over
the aforesaid farms to his Actores without delay.'
|8 - 24 KING ATHALARIC TO THE CLERGY OF THE ROMAN CHURCH: Ecclesiastical immunities.
'For the gift of kingly power we owe an infinite debt to God, whose
ministers ye are.
'Ye state in your tearful memorial to us that it has been an ordinance
of long custom that anyone who has a suit of any kind against a
servant of the sacrosanct Roman Church should first address himself to
the chief Priest of that City, lest haply your clergy, being profaned
by the litigation of the Forum, should be occupied in secular rather
than religious matters. And you add that one of your Deacons has, to
the disgrace of religion, been so sharply handled by legal process
that the Sajo has dared actually to take him into his own
'This dishonour to the Ministers of holy things is highly displeasing
to our inborn reverence, yet we are glad that it gives us the
opportunity of paying part of our debt to Heaven.
'Therefore, considering the honour of the Apostolic See, and wishing
to meet the desires of the petitioners, we by the authority of this
letter decree in regular course:
'That if anyone shall think he has a good cause for going to law with
a person belonging to the Roman clergy, he shall first present himself
for hearing at the judgment-seat of the most blessed Pope, in order
that the latter may either decide between the two in his own holy
manner, or may delegate the cause to a Jurisconsult to be ended by
him. And if, perchance, which it is impiety to believe, the
reasonable desire of the petitioner shall have been evaded, then may
he come to the secular courts with his grievance, when he can prove
that his petitions have been spurned by the Bishop of the aforesaid
'Should any litigant be so dishonest and so irreverent, both towards
the Holy See and our authority, as to disregard this order [and
proceed first in our tribunals against one of the Roman clergy], he
shall forfeit 10 lbs. of gold [£400], to be exacted by the officers of
the Count of Sacred Largesses and distributed by the Pope to the poor;
and he shall lose his suit in addition, notwithstanding any decree
which he may have gained in the secular court.
'Meanwhile do you, whom our judgments thus venerate, live according to
the ordinances of the Church. It is a great wickedness in you to admit
such crimes as do not become the conversation even of secular men.
Your profession is the heavenly life. Do not condescend to the
grovelling wishes and vulgar errors of ordinary mortals. Let the men
of this world be coerced by human laws; do you obey the precepts of
|8 - 25 KING ATHALARIC TO JOANNES, VIR SPECTABILIS, REFERENDARIUS: Confirmation of Tulum's gift of property in the
'It is a very fitting thing to confirm the generosity of others
towards persons who might well have received gifts from oneself. We
therefore declare that in your case the gift is another's but the will
to give is our own, and the King has only been anticipated by the
rapid bounty of the subject.
'Everyone knows that our grandfather wished to give you the house of
Agnellus in the Castrum Lucullanum, but could not do so having already
given it to the Patrician Tulum. Tulum, however, with his usual
generosity, seconding the wishes of his master, formally conveyed the
property to you; and that conveyance we now confirm, guaranteeing the
quiet possession of it to you and your heirs for all time to come. If
any doubt exist as to your title, by any mischance, or by reason of
any enquiry, such doubt is exploded by the authority of this letter of
'And should any envious person, in contempt of our royal will, dare to
raise any question in this matter hereafter, either on behalf of the
Fiscus or of any private individual, we declare that he shall pay to
you, or to the person to whom you may have assigned the said house,
100 lbs. of gold (£4,000) by way of penalty.'
[Why should there be the necessity of this royal confirmation of a
transaction between two private individuals, Tulum and Joannes, and
this tremendous penalty on all future impugners of it?
Evidently because the property had been impressed with the character
of State domain, and it was doubtful how far Tulum's alienation of it
might stand good against the claims of future Sovereigns.
This becomes quite clear when we reflect what is the property to which
this letter refers. It is either the whole or a part of the
Lucullanum, to which the deposed Emperor, Romulus Augustulus, was
banished in 476. On his death, as we may conjecture, this property,
one of the most delightful places of residence in Italy, has been
given by Theodoric to Tulum, perhaps just after he had distinguished
himself in the Gaulish campaign of 508. For some reason or other,
Tulum has alienated it (ostensibly, given it) to the Reporter Joannes,
no doubt a Roman, who is apparently nervous lest his title to it
should hereafter be impugned on the ground that the palace of the last
Roman Emperor was national property. Hence this letter. There is some
difficulty and variation between the MSS. in the words describing the
property: 'Saepe dicta domus paternae recordationis Agnelli, in
Lucullano castro posita.' For _paternae_, Migne's editor reads
_patriciae_. The forthcoming critical edition of the 'Variae' will
show whether there is any support in the MSS. for a conjecture which I
cannot help entertaining that _Agnelli_ is an error for _Augustuli_.]
|8 - 26 KING ATHALARIC TO ALL THE INHABITANTS OF REATE AND NURSIA: Gothic settlers in the Sabine territory exhorted to
obedience to their Prior, Quidila.
'Our glorious grandfather had arranged that, in accordance with your
desire, Quidila, son of Sibia, should be your Captain (Prior). We
confirm this appointment, and desire you to obey him in all things.
You are so far moulded by the character of our grandfather that you
willingly obey both the laws and the Judges. Our enemies are best
vanquished, and the favour both of Heaven and of other nations is best
conciliated for us, by our obeying the principles of justice. If
anyone is in need of anything, let him seek to obtain it from the
generosity of his Sovereign rather than by the strength of his own
right hand, since it is for your advantage that the Romans be at
peace, who, in filling our Treasury, at the same time multiply your
|8 - 28 KING ATHALARIC TO CUNIGAST, VIR ILLUSTRIS: Possessores (or Coloni?) forced to become slaves.
'Our Serenity has been moved by the grievous petition of Constantius
and Venerius, who complain that Tanca [probably a Goth] has wrested
from them the farm which is called Fabricula, which belonged to them
in their own right, together with the stock upon it, and has
compelled them, in order to prevent similar forcible demands upon
their property in future, to allow the worst lot of all--the condition
of slavery--to be imposed upon them, who are really free.
'Let your Greatness therefore summon Tanca to your judgment-seat, and,
after hearing all parties, pronounce a just judgment and one accordant
to your character. For though it is a serious matter to oust a lord
from his right, it is contrary to the feelings of our age to press
down free necks under the yoke of slavery.
'Let Tanca therefore either establish his right to the slaves and
their property, or, if they are proved free, let him give them up,
whole and unharmed: in which case we will inflict upon him no further
|8 - 29 KING ATHALARIC TO THE DIGNIFIED CULTIVATORS AND CURIALS OF THE CITY OF PARMA: Sanitary measures needed in Parma.
'You ought willingly to co-operate in that which is being done for the
advantage of your town. When it was suffering from a long drought, our
grandfather, with God's help, watered it with the life-giving wave.
Cleanse out then the mouths of your sewers, lest otherwise, being
checked in its flow by the accumulated filth, it should surge back
into your houses, and bring into them the pollution which it was meant
to wash away.
'The Spectabilis Genesius is appointed to superintend this work, and
to quicken your zeal regarding it.'
|8 - 30 KING ATHALARIC TO GENESIUS, VIR SPECTABILIS: The same subject.
'Through love of your city our grandfather, with royal generosity,
constructed an aqueduct of the ancient type for you. But it is of
no use to provide a good water-supply unless your sewers are in good
order. Therefore let your Sublimity set the citizens of Parma
diligently to work at this business, that all ancient channels,
whether underground or those which run by the sides of the streets, be
diligently repaired, in order that when the longed-for stream
flows into your town it be not hindered by any obstacle.
'How fair is water in a running stream, but how ugly in puddles and
swamps; it is good then neither for man nor beast. Without water city
and country alike languish; and rightly did the ancients punish one
who was unfit for human society by forbidding all men to give him
water. Therefore you ought all heartily to combine for this most
useful work, since the man who is not touched by the comeliness of his
city has not yet the mind of a citizen.'
|8 - 31 KING ATHALARIC TO SEVERUS, VIR SPECTABILIS: Dissuasions from a country life, and praises of Cassiodorus' native land of Bruttii.
'Since you, when on the staff of the Praefect, have learned the
principles of statesmanship, we are sure that you will agree with us
that cities are the chief ornament of human society. Let the wild
beasts live in fields and woods: men ought to draw together into
cities. Even among birds we see that those of gentle disposition--like
thrushes, storks, and doves--love to flock together, while the greedy
hawk, intent on its bloody pastime, seeks solitude.
'Now we say that the man who shuns human society becomes at once an
object of suspicion. Let therefore the Possessores and Curiales of
Bruttii return to their cities. The Coloni may cultivate the
soil--that is what their name denotes; but the men whom we
decorate with civic honours ought to live in cities.
'In truth it is a lovely land. Ceres and Pallas have crowned it with
their respective gifts (corn and oil); the plains are green with
pastures, the slopes are purple with vineyards. Above all is it rich
in its vast herds of horses, and no wonder, since the dense shade
of its forests protects them from the bites of flies, and provides
them with ever verdant pasture even in the height of summer. Cool
waters flow from its lofty heights; fair harbours on both its shores
woo the commerce of the world.
'There the countryman enjoys the good food of the citizen, the poor
man the abundance of the wealthy. If such then be the charms even
of the country in your Province, why should you shirk living in its
'Why should so many men refined by literature skulk in obscurity? The
boy goes to a good school, becomes imbued with the love of letters,
and then, when he is come to man's estate and should be seeking the
Forum in order to display his talents, he suddenly changes into a
boor, unlearns all that he has learned, and in his love for the fields
forgets what is due to a reasonable love for himself. And yet even
birds love human fellowship, and the nightingale boldly rears her
brood close to the haunts of men.
'Let the cities then return to their old splendour; let none prefer
the charms of the country to the walls reared by the men of old. Why
should not everyone be attracted by the concourse of noble persons, by
the pleasures of converse with his equals? To stroll through the
Forum, to look in at some skilful craftsman at his work, to push one's
own cause through the law courts, then between whiles to play with the
counters of Palamedes (draughts), to go to the baths with one's
acquaintances, to indulge in the friendly emulation of the
banquet--these are the proper employments of a Roman noble; yet not
one of them is tasted by the man who chooses to live always in the
country with his farm-servants.
'We order therefore that all Possessores and Curiales shall, according
to their relative means, find bail and give bonds, promising that they
will for the larger part of the year reside in some city, such as they
may choose. And thus, while not wholly debarred from the
pleasures of the country, they will furnish to the cities their proper
adornment of citizens.'
|8 - 32 KING ATHALARIC TO SEVERUS, VIR SPECTABILIS: The Fountain of Arethusa.
'Nimfadius (Vir Sublimis) was journeying to the King's Comitatus on
some affair of his own, when, wearied with his journey, he lay down to
rest, and let his beasts of burden graze round the fountain of
'This fountain, situated in the territory of Squillace, at the
foot of the hills and above the sand of the sea, makes a green and
pleasant place all round it, fringed with rustling reeds as with a
crown. It has certain marvellous properties: for let a man go to it in
silence and he sees it calmly flowing, more like a pond than a
fountain. But let him cough or speak with a loud voice, and it becomes
violently agitated, heaving to and fro like a pot boiling. Strange
power this of a fountain to answer a man. I have read that some
fountains can change the colours of the animals that drink at them;
that others can turn wood dropped into them to stone. The human reason
is altogether unable to understand such things as these.
'But let us return to the complaint of our suppliant. Nimfadius
asserts that, while he was resting, the country people artfully drove
off his beasts of burden.
'This kind of crime brings our times into disgrace, and turns the
charm of that quiet resting-place into disgust. Diligently enquire
into it, for the credit of our Comitatus is involved in our subjects
being able to journey to it in safety. At first, no doubt, the
offenders will lie close, and seem as silent as the unmoved Arethusa.
But begin your investigations, and they will soon break forth, like
that fountain, with angry exclamations, in the midst of which you will
discover the truth. Punish the offenders severely; for we should
regret that owing to the excesses of robbers that wonderful and
joy-bringing fountain should be deserted.'
|8 - 33 KING ATHALARIC TO SEVERUS, VIR SPECTABILIS: The Feast of St. Cyprian.
'We hear that the rustics are indulging in disorderly practices, and
robbing the market-people who come from all quarters to the chief fair
of Lucania on the day of St. Cyprian. This must by all means be
suppressed, and your Respectability should quietly collect a
sufficient number of the owners and tenants of the adjoining
farms to overpower these freebooters and bring them to justice.
Any rustic or other person found guilty of disturbing the fair should
be at once punished with the stick, and then exhibited with some
mark of infamy upon him.
'This fair, which according to the old superstition was named
Leucothea [after the nymph], from the extreme purity of the fountain
at which it is held, is the greatest fair in all the surrounding
country. Everything that industrious Campania, or opulent Bruttii, or
cattle-breeding Calabria, or strong Apulia produces, is there to
be found exposed for sale, on such reasonable terms that no buyer goes
away dissatisfied. It is a charming sight to see the broad plains
filled with suddenly-reared houses formed of leafy branches
intertwined: all the beauty of the most leisurely-built city, and yet
not a wall to be seen. There stand ready boys and girls, with the
attractions which belong to their respective sexes and ages, whom not
captivity but freedom sets a price upon. These are with good reason
sold by their parents, since they themselves gain by their very
servitude. For one cannot doubt that they are benefited even as slaves
[or servants?], by being transferred from the toil of the fields to
the service of cities.
'What can I say of the bright and many-coloured garments? what of the
sleek and well-fed cattle offered at such a price as to tempt any
'The place itself is situated in a wide and pleasant plain, a suburb
of the ancient city of Cosilinum, and has received the name of
Marcilianum from the founder of these sacred springs.
'And this is in truth a marvellous fountain, full and fresh, and of
such transparent clearness that when you look through it you think you
are looking through air alone. Choice fishes swim about in the pool,
perfectly tame, because if anyone presumes to capture them he soon
feels the Divine vengeance. On the morning which precedes the holy
night [of St. Cyprian], as soon as the Priest begins to utter the
baptismal prayer, the water begins to rise above its accustomed
height. Generally it covers but five steps of the well, but the brute
element, as if preparing itself for miracles, begins to swell, and at
last covers two steps more, never reached at any other time of the
year. Truly a stupendous miracle, that streams of water should thus
stand still or increase at the sound of the human voice, as if the
fountain itself desired to listen to the sermon.
'Thus hath Lucania a river Jordan of her own. Wherefore, both for
religion's sake and for the profit of the people, it behoves that good
order should be kept among the frequenters of the fair, since in the
judgment of all, that man must be deemed a villain who would sully the
joys of such happy days.'