« הקודםהמשך »
rank with those of Alaric and Genseric, in the decline and fall of the Roman empire.
Genseric landed in Africa in the year 429, and in the following year spread desolation along its coast, throughout the long-extended territory of Rome, which was then finally separated from the empire. Attila invaded the eastern empire in the year 441. From that period, ten years elapsed before he touched the western empire, and twenty-two years intervened, from 429 to 451, between the invasion of Africa by Genseric, and of Gaul by Attila. The burning mountain arose first, though it blazed longer than the falling star.
The connexion between the events predicted under the first and second trumpets, is marked by the passing of the Vandals from Europe to Asia, and the consequent combination with Moors and Mauritanians in the conquest of Africa, “the most important province of the west; and in the overthrow of the naval power of Rome. The sequence and connexion between the events denoted by the second and third trumpets, are, we apprehend, equally definite.
“The alliance of Attila, (A. D. 441,) maintained the Vandals in the possession of Africa. An enterprise had been concerted between the courts of Ravenna and Constantinople, for the recovery of that valuable province, and the ports of Sicily were already filled with the military and naval forces of Theodosius. But the subtle Genseric, who spread his negotiations round the world, prevented their designs, by exciting the king of the Huns (Attila) to invade the eastern empire: and a trifling incident soon became the motive, or pretence, of a destructive war.- - The troops which had been sent against Genseric were hastily recalled from Sicily."*
But if symbolized, or described under the second and third trumpet, the respective nature of their power, or character of their warfare, must needs be described, as well as the order be marked, in
+ Gibbon's Hist. vol. vi. 49, 50, 52, chap. 34.
which Genseric and Attila first assaulted the empire of Rome, and accelerated its ruin.
A great star is the symbol—of which the significancy has to be sustained; burning as it were a lamp, is the character of the warfare. The locality is neither the earth, in the full extent of the term as applicable to the Roman empire, and the wide scene over which the hail and fire swept on the sounding of the first trumpet, nor yet the third part of the sea, as expressive of the second, by which the African coast was for ever separated from the empire, and the ships finally destroyed,—but, as referring to a portion of the remains of the empire of Rome-the fountains and rivers of waters. There fell a great star from heaven.
The name of Attila is to this day a memorial of his greatness, of which a brief description may suffice.
“The crowd of vulgar kings, the leaders of so many martial tribes, who served under the standard of Attila, were ranged in the submissive order of guards and domestics, round the person of their master. They watched his nod: they trembled at his frown; and at the first signal of his will they executed, without murmur or hesitation, his stern and absolute commands. In time of peace, the dependant princes, with their national troops, attended the royal camp in regular succession; but when Attila collected his military forces, he was able to bring into the field an army of five, or, according to another account, of seven hundred thousand barbarians."*
Burning as it were a lamp.-" The armies of the eastern empire were vanquished in three successive engagements; and the progress of Attila may be traced by the fields of battle. From the Hellespont to Thermopylæ, and the suburbs of Constantinople, he ravaged, without resistance and without mercy, the provinces of Thrace and Macedonia. Heraclea and Hadrianople might perhaps escape this dreadful irruption of the Huns; but the words, the most expressive of total extirpation and erasure, are applied to the calamities which they inflicted on seventy cities of the eastern empire.
« Attila threatened to chastise the rash successor of Theodosius; but he hesitated whether he should first direct his invinci
* Gibbon's Hist. vol. vi. pp. 46, 47, c. 34.
ble arms against the eastern or western empire. While mankind awaited his decision with awful suspense; and his ministers saluted the two emperors with the same haughty declaration, Attila, my lord, and thy lord, commands thee to provide a palace for his immediate reception. But as the barbarian despised, or affected to despise, the Romans of the east, whom he had so often vanquished, he soon declared his resolution of suspending the easy conquest, till he had achieved a more glorious and important enterprise. In the memorable invasions of Gaul and Italy, the Huns were naturally attracted by the wealth and fertility of these provinces."*
The trumpet sounded. “ The kings and nations of Germany and Scythia, from the Volga perhaps to the Danube, obeyed the warlike summons of Attila. From the royal village in the plains of Hungary, his standard moved towards the west; and, after a march of seven or eight hundred miles, he reached the conflux of the Rhine and the Necker. The hostile myriads were poured with resistless violence into the Belgic provinces. The consternation of Gaul was universal.”_" From the Rhine and the Moselle, Attila advanced into the heart of Gaul; crossed the Seine at Auxerre ; and, after a long and laborious march, fixed his camp under the walls of Orleans.-An alliance was formed between the Romans and Visigoths. The hostile armies approached.--'I myself,' said Attila, 'will throw the first javelin, and the wretch who refuses to imitate the example of his sovereign, is devoted to inevitable death.' The spirit of the barbarians was rekindled by the presence, the voice, and the example, of their intrepid leader; and Attila, yielding to their impatience, immediately formed his order of battle. At the head of his brave and faithful Huns, Attila occupied in: person the centre of the line. The nations from the Volga to the Atlantic were assembled on the plain of Chalons. The number of the slain amounted to one hundred and sixty-two thousand, or according to another account, three hundred thousand persons and these incredible exaggerations suppose a real or effective loss, sufficient to justify the historian's remark, that whole generations may be swept away, by the madness of kings, in the space of a single hour.”I
The course of the fiery meteor was changed, not stayed ; and, touching Italy for the first time, the great star, after having burned as it were a lamp, fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters.
“Neither the spirit, nor the forces, nor the reputation of Attila, were impaired by the failure of the Gallic expedition. He passed the Alps, invaded Italy, and besieged Aquileia with an innumer
able host of barbarians.—The succeeding generation could scarcely discover the ruins of Aquileia. After this dreadful chastisement, Attila pursued his march; and, as he passed, the cities of Altinum, Concordia, and Padua were reduced into heaps of stones and ashes. The inland towns, Vicenza, Verona, and Bergamo, were exposed to the rapacious cruelty of the Huns. Milan and Pavia submitted, without resistance, to the loss of their wealth; and applauded the unusual clemency, which preserved from the flames the public as well as private buildings, and spared the lives of the captive multitude. Attila spread his ravages over the rich plains of modern Lombardy; which are divided by the Po, and bounded by the Alps and Appenine. He took possession of the royal palace of Milan. It is a saying worthy of the ferocious pride of Attila, that the grass never grew on the spot where his horse had trod."*
“The western emperor, with the senate and people of Rome, embraced the most salutary resolution of deprecating by a solemn and suppliant embassy, the wrath of Attila. The Roman ambassadors were introduced to the tent of Attila, as he lay encamped at the place where the slow-winding Mincius (Mincio) is lost in the foaming waves of the lake Benacus, and trampled with his Scythian cavalry the farms of Catullus and Virgil. The barbarian monarch listened with favourable, and even respectful attention; and the deliverance of Italy was purchased by the immense ransom, or dowry, of the princess Honoria.”
Attila advanced not farther into Italy than the plains of Lombardy, and the banks of the Po. He reduced the cities, situated on that river and its tributary streams, to heaps of stones and ashes. But there his ravages ceased. The great star, which burned as it were a lamp, no sooner fell upon
the fountains and rivers of waters and turned cities into ashes, than it was extinguished. Unlike to the great mountain burning with fire, the great star that fell from heaven, after suddenly scorching a part of Italy, rapidly disappeared. During the same year in which Attila first invaded the Italian territories, and spread his ravages over the rich plains of modern Lombardy, which are divided by the Po, and bounded by the Alps and Appenine, without advancing beyond the rivers and fountains of waters, he concluded a treaty of peace with the Romans “at the conflux of the lake and river," on the spot where
* Gibbon's Hist. pp. 122-124.
| Ibid. pp. 130, 131.
Mincius issues from lake Benacus (L. di Garda). One paragraph in the history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, describes “the invasion of Italy by Attila, A.D. 452.” Another is entitled, under the same date, “Attila gives peace to the Romans.” The next paragraph describes “the death of Attila, A.D. 453;" and the very next records, without any interval, the destruction of his empire."*
There fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters. Its greatness, its burning course, the place, the severity, and suddenness of its fall, leave nothing more to be here explained, while its falling from heaven seems obviously to imply that it came from beyond the bounds of the Roman empire, on part of which it fell. Allusion will afterwards be made to the significancy of the term third part, which so repeatedly occurs.
But another verse is added, under the third trumpet, which, having thus seen the significancy of the former, we cannot pass over with any vague and general exposition, without calling on history to discharge its task, in expounding the full meaning of the words, which sum up the decline, and are the immediate prelude to the fourth trumpet, the deathknell of the western empire.
And the name of the star is called wormwood. These words, which are more intimately connected with the preceding verse, as even the punctuation in our version denotes,--recall us for a moment to the character of Attila, to the misery of which he was the author or the instrument, and to the terror that was inspired by his name. Our appeal is still to Gibbon.
" Attila, the son of Mụndzuk, deduced his noble, perhaps his regal, descent, from the ancient Huns, who had formerly contended with the monarchs of China. His features, according to the observation of a Gothic historian, bore the stamp of his national
* Gibbon's Hist. Ibid. pp. 41, 42. chap. 34.