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ment was formed, to command the bridge and the river. For eighteen days, the besiegers collected and prepared every instrument of attack which antiquity supplied, or the occasion suggested, for a successful assault. Belisarius assigned to each of his lieutenants the defence of a single gate, and his simple instructions were, that whatever might be the confusion, each should adhere to his post, and
trust to their general for the safety of Rome.' To Theodoric was assigned the guard of the Prænestine Gate, a post of danger and honor, for which he was indebted to the confidence of his commander.
On the morning of the nineteenth day, seven Gothic columns, with military engines, advanced to the assault, and made à general attack, from the Prænestine Gate to the Vatican. As the solid mass of the besiegers advanced, the Romans stationed on the ramparts watched with breathless silence the moment when the enemy should come within reach of the bow; and it was not till two of the Goths fell pierced by arrows from the bow of Belisarius, that they were suffered to hurl destruction on their foes. By the command of the Roman general, the oxen which moved the towers were shot down, which threw the whole plan of attack into disorder. The Gothic columns faltered for an instant, when the besieged overwhelmed them with arrows, and other missiles, which soon completed their confusion. Vitiges, defeated in the principal attack upon the walls, feigned an assault on the Salarian Gate, while the main force of his army was pointed to the Prænestine, and the Sepulchre of Hadrian. The Goths approached with fascines to fill the ditches, with ladders, turrets, and battering-rams, of immense size and power, as if they had determined that at these points should be decided the fate of Rome.
Theodoric stood high upon the rampart, and with calmness and silence awaited the attack. • Death to the Goths !' he shouted; and this was the signal to the besieged to begin the work of death. In an instant the heavens were darkened with the flying missiles. The ditch was soon filled with the dying and the dead, and the advancing columns were mowed to the earth by the javelins and the 'balistra,' or powerful cross-bow. Huge rocks were thrown by the 'onagri,' which, like the cannon balls of modern times, swept away every thing that stood in their way. Still the barbarians advanced, and climbing over the dead bodies of their slaughtered countrymen, attempted to scale the walls.
In the meantime the battering-rams, worked by fifty men, began to shake the walls to their foundation; and the turrets, moved on wheels or rollers, by those who were protected from danger, approached so near, that those who occupied the platform could almost touch the lances of the besieged. Burning pitch, and combustibles of all kinds, soon covered the machinery of the Goths, and they were either deserted or destroyed. While the fury and desperation of the barbarians were confined to these two points of attack, owing to the strict commands of Belisarius, her could receive assistance from the other divisions of the army. But amidst the tumult and dismay, every thing was distinctly present to the mind of Theodoric. He lost no advantage which his own situation or that of his enemy presented, and encouraged his men by words and deeds, as if the safety of Rome depended alone upon his arm.
For four hours the Goths continued their incessant assault; but after the sixth repulse, they evinced a disposition to retreat, when Theodoric made a vigorous sally, and put them to a total rout. About the same time the barbarians were repulsed and defeated at the Sepulchre of Hadrian, by Belisarius, when their whole line fell back in dismay and confusion toward their encampment. Thirty thousand slain, and as many wounded, closed the disasters of the Goths, in their first attack upon the city; and such was the consternation which the result inspired, that from that time to the abandonment of the enterprise, the siege was converted into a blockade. But the dulness of the blockade was enlivened and diversified by frequent sallies, and by the exhibition of individual prowess and bravery. If an eye-witness is to be believed, one third of the barbarians perished in these bloody contests, under the walls of the city.
Having seized two important points, which commanded the port, and the country on the right of the Tiber, they were in a fair way to effect by famine what they had failed to do by the sword. But the genius of Belisarius bad foreseen and provided against all difficulties; and while it was yet in his power, he dismissed the useless multitude, not excepting the women and children ; and if he limited the allowance of provisions to his soldiers, the deficiency was made up in money. As adversity pressed upon the Romans, treason began to make its appearance; and in a short time the brave general of Rome had not only to contend against famine and the Goths, but the treachery of his subjects. Amid his multiplied calamities, he wrote to the Emperor, and while he announced his victory, he demanded succors. But the efforts of Justinian were not equal to the wants of his lieutenant; and only sixteen hundred Sclavonians and Huns were sent to his relief. A large sum of money was landed at Anxur, for the payment of the troops; and as Euthaleus cautiously proceeded along the Appian Way, his movements were discovered by the vigilant Goths, who, suspecting the character of the convoy, made a furious attack upon the escort. The movements of the enemy were discovered by Theodoric, who sallied forth with a chosen band, and throwing himself and his forces between the barbarians and their prey, a desperate battle was the result. The squadrons met at the utmost speed of their horses, and as the opposing columns of a thousand men on either side encountered, both recoiled for a moment, and more than one half of both parties were unhorsed, and hurled to the earth.
A singular scene of confusion ensued; and each of the combatants seemed more eager to remount, than to encounter or slaughter his adversary. But the truce soon ended; and no sooner had the surprise and confusion of the first shock subsided, than the battle was renewed, with fury on both sides; each man selecting his foe, and fighting as if his arm alone could decide the fate of the day. In some instances, the Romans forced their way into the dense mass of the Gothic forces, and in others, the barbarians made similar inroads into the ranks of their enemy; so that it was difficult to tell, by those who looked on at a distance, the true situation of either party. Such was the impetuosity with which Theodoric charged at the head of a column, that he forced his way through the opposing squadrons,
strewing his path with the dead and dying, and reached the rear of the enemy. He shouted aloud, ‘Death to the Goths !' in a voice that was distinctly heard amid the clash of swords and lances; and the barbarians, seeing his standard in their rear, imagining themselves surrounded, sounded a retreat. They were pursued, with great slaughter, to the very lines of their encampment, when Theodoric drew off his forces, amid the shouts of thousands who beheld the struggle from the walls.
In the midst of the strife, the convoy safely entered the Carperian Gate. Succors now flowed in from different quarters to the relief of Rome; and the heroism and skill of Antonina afforded seasonable supplies of men and provisions from Isauria, Thrace, and Campania. The miseries of famine were now in turn inflicted on the Goths; and the seven camps of the besiegers were gradually encompassed with the calamities of a siege. To complete the misfortunes of Vitiges, a messenger informed him that his country, from the Appenines to the Hadriatic, was laid waste by the sword; and the fidelity of his wife endangered, by the arts of John the Sanguinary. A fruitless attempt to intoxicate the guards, at the Aurelian Gate, was the last effort of the King of the Goths upon the capital of Italy. One year and nine days after the commencement of the siege, at the hour of midnight, the flames of ten thousand tents announced the despair and retreat of the enemy. As Theodoric stood on the walls, gazing upon
the burning camp,
his arm was grasped by one who seemed anxious to withdraw his attention from the scene of ruin, which he beheld with delight and wonder.
Young man!' said the intruder, whom Theodoric recognized at a glance, as Gilimer, 'I have found you at last! Your prowess in arms has spread far and wide ; but while I rejoice at your success, I tremble lest the giddy height on which you stand, will only render your destruction more certain. If you would know the secret of your birth, and the dangers which surround you, you may learn it from the lips of Ecebolus, who is now ill of a lingering fever, and is anxious, in his last moments, to impart to you that which from his lips you alone can learn.'
From none other can I learn this ?' inquired Theodoric. • From no mortal, but him !' replied Gilimer, with an emphasis, a solemnity of tone and manner, which left neither room for doubt or reply.
. Then will I go !' exclaimed the youthful hero. • A hasty summons to a sick friend,' excused him to the Roman general ; and in a brief space he was on his way to the Euphrates, whither we shall follow him, in the second division of this historical narrative of his eventful fortunes.
'I feign would exchange my condition for thine,
Leave this hill and its solitude drear,
And the rose and the lily are near.
"O could I but dress in thy mantle of flowers,
And vie with the lily and rose,
And the nymph seek my shade to repose!
*Then say, canst thou change, with no sorrow, nor sigh?
If this thy approval but meets,
And load every zephyr with sweets !!
The Apple-tree read the epistle with care,
And hastened to answer it then;
That a favorite blossom had been.
The wind was now coming away from the lake,
(It had slept on the lake all night,) And it skipped up the fields, over bramble and brake,
As free as a sun-beam or light.
It took the epistle from off the gay bough,
As joy doth a tear from the cheek,
Prepared for a merrisome week.
A moment the wind seemed to flirt with the leaves,
And sing of the Spring on its lute;
That smiles are so transient and mute.
The Oak took the letter, in raptures of joy,
Perused its fair lines o'er and o'er;
His pleasures, oft saddened before.
"Proud King of the Forest ! forgive my surprise ;
Dost thou truly sorrow and pine?
And had wished thy condition were mine.
"There is pleasure in solitude; oft have I longed
To escape from this cluster of trees,
To grow in the sun and the breeze.
"Where zephyrs which kissed the pure dew from my flowers,
Could sing on my branches alone, And stars looking down through the moon's silver showers,
Could watch but the slumbers of one.
'I'll change with thee gladly!- the hill shall be mine!
(Farewell, little wild rose, farewell!) Come down, if thou scornest that glory of thine,
And with the pale jessamine dwell.'
At the root of the Oak, a moss-covered Stone
Heard both of the letters read o'er,
Till he could be sileni no more.