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Circling round the eastern extremity of the Euxine Sea, the navigation from Pityus to Trebizond is about three hundred miles. 107 The course of the Goths carried them in sight of the country of Colchis, so famous by the expedition of the Argonauts; and they even attempted, though without success, to pillage a rich temple at the mouth of the River Phasis. Trebizond, celebrated in the retreat of the ten thousand as an ancient colony of Greeks, 108 derived its wealth and splendor from the magnificence of the emperor Hadrian, who had constructed an artificial port on a coast left destitute by nature of secure harbors. 109 The city was large and populous; a double enclosure of walls seemed to defy the fury of the Goths, and the usual garrison had been strengthened by a reinforcement of ten thousand men. But there are not any advantages capable of supplying the absence of discipline and vigilance. The numerous garrison of Trebizond, dissolved in riot and luxury, disdained to guard their impregnable fortifications. The Goths soon discovered the supine negligence of the besieged, erected a lofty pile of fascines, ascended the walls in the silence of the night, and entered the defenseless city sword in hand. A general massacre of the people ensued, whilst the affrighted soldiers escaped through the opposite gates of the town. The most holy temples, and the most splendid edifices, were involved in a common destruction. The booty that fell into the hands of the Goths was immense: the wealth of the adjacent countries had been deposited in Trebizond, as in a secure place of refuge. The number of captives was incredible, as the victorious barbarians ranged without opposition through the extensive province of Pontus. 110 The rich spoils of Trebizond filled a great fleet of ships that had been found in the port. The robust youth of the sea-coast were chained to the oar; and the Goths, satisfied with the success of their first naval expedition, returned in triumph to their new establishment in the kingdom of Bosphorus. 111
Footnote 107: Arrian (in Periplo Maris Euxine, p. 130) calls the distance 2610 stadia.
Footnote 108: Xenophon, Anabasis, l. iv. p. 348, edit. Hutchinson. Note: Fallmerayer (Geschichte des Kaiserthums von Trapezunt, p. 6, &c) assigns a very ancient date to the first (Pelasgic) foundation of Trapezun (Trebizond) - M.
Footnote 109: Arrian, p. 129. The general observation is Tournefort's.
Footnote 110: See an epistle of Gregory Thaumaturgus, bishop of Neo- Caeoarea, quoted by Mascou, v. 37.
Footnote 111: Zosimus, l. i. p. 32, 33.
The second expedition of the Goths was undertaken with greater powers of men and ships; but they steered a different course, and, disdaining the exhausted provinces of Pontus, followed the western coast of the Euxine, passed before the wide mouths of the Borysthenes, the Niester, and the Danube, and increasing their fleet by the capture of a great number of fishing barks, they approached the narrow outlet through which the Euxine Sea pours its waters into the Mediterranean, and divides the continents of Europe and Asia. The garrison of Chalcedon was encamped near the temple of Jupiter Urius, on a promontory that commanded the entrance of the Strait; and so inconsiderable were the dreaded invasions of the barbarians that this body of troops surpassed in number the Gothic army. But it was in numbers alone that they surpassed it. They deserted with precipitation their advantageous post, and abandoned the town of Chalcedon, most plentifully stored with arms and money, to the discretion of the conquerors. Whilst they hesitated whether they should prefer the sea or land Europe or Asia, for the scene of their hostilities, a perfidious fugitive pointed out Nicomedia, * once the capital of the kings of Bithynia, as a rich and easy conquest. He guided the march which was only sixty miles from the camp of Chalcedon, 112 directed the resistless attack, and partook of the booty; for the Goths had learned sufficient policy to reward the traito whom they detested. Nice, Prusa, Apamaea, Cius, ! cities that had sometimes rivalled, or imitated, the splendor of Nicomedia, were involved in the same calamity, which, in a few weeks, raged without control through the whole province of Bithynia. Three hundred years of peace, enjoyed by the soft inhabitants of Asia, had abolished the exercise of arms, and removed the apprehension of danger. The ancient walls were suffered to molder away, and all the revenue of the most opulent cities was reserved for the construction of baths, temples, and theatres. 113
Footnote *: It has preserved its name, joined to the preposition of place in that of Nikmid. D'Anv. Geog. Anc. ii. 28. - G.
Footnote 112: Itiner. Hierosolym. p. 572. Wesseling.
Footnote !: Now Isnik, Bursa, Mondania Ghio or Kemlik D'Anv. ii. 23. - G.
Footnote 113: Zosimus, l. . p. 32, 33.
When the city of Cyzicus withstood the utmost effort of Mithridates, 114 it was distinguished by wise laws, a naval power of two hundred galleys, and three arsenals, of arms, of military engines, and of corn. 115 It was still the seat of wealth and luxury; but of its ancient strength, nothing remained except the situation, in a little island of the Propontis, connected with the continent of Asia only by two bridges. From the recent sack of Prusa, the Goths advanced within eighteen miles. 116 of the city, which they had devoted to destruction; but the ruin of Cyzicus was delayed by a fortunate accident. The season was rainy, and the Lake Apolloniates, the reservoir of all the springs of Mount Olympus, rose to an uncommon height. The little river of Rhyndacus, which issues from the lake, swelled into a broad and rapid stream, and stopped the progress of the Goths. Their retreat to the maritime city of Heraclea, where the fleet had probably been stationed, was attended by a long train of wagons, laden with the spoils of Bithynia, and was marked by the flames of Nico and Nicomedia, which they wantonly burnt. 117 Some obscure hints are mentioned of a doubtful combat that secured their retreat. 118 But even a complete victory would have been of little moment, as the approach of the autumnal equinox summoned them to hasten their return. To navigate the Euxine before the month of May, or after that of September, is esteemed by the modern Turks the most unquestionable instance of rashness and folly. 119
Footnote 114: He besieged the place with 400 galleys, 150,000 foot, and a numerous cavalry. See Plutarch in Lucul. Appian in Mithridat Cicero pro Lege Manilia, c. 8.
Footnote 115: Strabo, l. xii. p. 573.
Footnote 116: Pocock's Description of the East, l. ii. c. 23, 24.
Footnote 117: Zosimus, l. i. p. 33.
Footnote 118: Syncellus tells an unintelligible story of Prince Odenathus, who defeated the Goths, and who was killed by Prince Odenathus.
Footnote 119: Voyages de Chardin, tom. i. p. 45. He sailed with the Turks from Constantinople to Caffa.
When we are informed that the third fleet, equipped by the Goths in the ports of Bosphorus, consisted of five hundred sails of ships, 120 our ready imagination instantly computes and multiplies the formidable armament but, as we are assured by the judicious Strabo, 121 that the piratical vessels used by the barbarians of Pontus and the Lesser Scythia, were not capable of containing more than twenty-five or thirty men we may safely affirm, that fifteen thousand warriors, at the most, embarked in this great ]expedition]. Impatient of the limits of the Euxine, they steered their destructive course from the Cimmerian to the Thracian Bosphorus. When they had almost gained the middle of the Straits, they were suddenly driven back to the entrance of them; till a favorable wind, springing up the next day, carried them in a few hours into the placid sea, or rather lake, of the Propontis. Their landing on the little island of Cyzicus was attended with the ruin of that ancient and noble city. From thence issuing again through the narrow passage of the Hellespont, they pursued their winding navigation amidst the numerous islands scattered over the Archipelago, or the Aegean Sea. The assistance of captives and deserters must have been very necessary to pilot their vessels, and to direct their various incursions, as well on the coast of Greece as on that of Asia. At length the Gothic fleet anchored in the port of Piraeus, five miles distant from Athens, 122 which had attempted to make some preparations for a vigorous defence. Cleodamus, one of the engineers employed by the emperor's orders to fortify the maritime cities against the Goths, had already begun to repair the ancient walls, fallen to decay since the time of Scylla. The efforts of his skill were ineffectual, and the barbarians became masters of the native seat of the muses and the arts. But while the conquerors abandoned themselves to the license of plunder and intemperance, their fleet, that lay with a slender guard in the harbor of Piraeus, was unexpectedly attacked by the brave Dexippus, who, flying with the engineer Cleodamus from the sack of Athens, collected a hasty band of volunteers, peasants as well as soldiers, and in some measure avenged the calamities of his country. 123
Footnote 120: Syncellus (p. 382) speaks of this expedition, as undertaken by the Heruli.
Footnote 121: Strabo, l. xi. p. 495.
Footnote 122: Plin. Hist. Natur. iii. 7.
Footnote 123: Hist. August. p. 181. Victor, c. 33. Orosius, vii. 42. Zosimus, l. i. p. 35. Zonaras, l. xii. 635. Syncellus, p. 382. It is not without some attention, that we can explain and conciliate their imperfect hints. We can still discover some traces of the partiality of Dexippus, in the relation of his own and his countrymen's exploits. According to a new fragment of Dexippus, published by Mai, he 2000 men. He took up a strong position in a mountainous and woods district, and kept up a harassing warfare. He expresses a hope of being speedily joined by the Imperial fleet. Dexippus in rov. Byzantinorum Collect a Niebuhr, p. 26, 8 - M.
But this exploit, whatever lustre it might shed on the declining age of Athens, served rather to irritate than to subdue the undaunted spirit of the northern invaders. A general conflagration blazed out at the same time in every district of Greece. Thebes and Argos, Corinth and Sparta, which had formerly waged such memorable wars against each other, were now unable to bring an army into the field, or even to defend their ruined fortifications. The rage of war, both by land and by sea, spread from the eastern point of Sunium to the western coast of Epirus. The Goths had already advanced within sight of Italy, when the approach of such imminent danger awakened the indolent Gallienus from his dream of pleasure. The emperor appeared in arms; and his presence seems to have checked the ardor, and to have divided the strength, of the enemy. Naulobatus, a chief of the Heruli, accepted an honorable capitulation, entered with a large body of his countrymen into the service of Rome, and was invested with the ornaments of the consular dignity, which had never before been profaned by the hands of a barbarian. 124 Great numbers of the Goths, disgusted with the perils and hardships of a tedious voyage, broke into Maesia, with a design of forcing their way over the Danube to their settlements in the Ukraine. The wild attempt would have proved inevitable destruction, if the discord of the Roman generals had not opened to the barbarians the means of an escape. 125 The small remainder of this destroying host returned on board their vessels; and measuring back their way through the Hellespont and the Bosphorus, ravaged in their passage the shores of Troy, whose fame, immortalized by Homer, will probably survive the memory of the Gothic conquests. As soon as they found themselves in safety within the basin of the Euxine, they landed at Anchialus in Thrace, near the foot of Mount Haemus; and, after all their toils, indulged themselves in the use of those pleasant and salutary hot baths. What remained of the voyage was a short and easy navigation. 126 Such was the various fate of this third and greatest of their naval enterprises. It may seem difficult to conceive how the original body of fifteen thousand warriors could sustain the losses and divisions of so bold an adventure. But as their numbers were gradually wasted by the sword, by shipwrecks, and by the influence of a warm climate, they were perpetually renewed by troops of banditti and deserters, who flocked to the standard of plunder, and by a crowd of fugitive slaves, often of German or Sarmatian extraction, who eagerly seized the glorious opportunity of freedom and revenge. In these expeditions, the Gothic nation claimed a superior share of honor and danger; but the tribes that fought under the Gothic banners are sometimes distinguished and sometimes confounded in the imperfect histories of that age; and as the barbarian fleets seemed to issue from the mouth of the Tanais, the vague but familiar appellation of Scythians was frequently bestowed on the mixed multitude. 127
Footnote 124: Syncellus, p. 382. This body of Heruli was for a long time faithful and famous.
Footnote 125: Claudius, who commanded on the Danube, thought with propriety and acted with spirit. His colleague was jealous of his fame Hist. August. p. 181.
Footnote 126: Jornandes, c. 20.
Footnote 127: Zosimus and the Greeks (as the author of the Philopatris) give the name of Scythians to those whom Jornandes, and the Latin writers, constantly represent as Goths.

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To cite original text:

Gibbon, Edward, 1737-1794. The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. 1st ed. (London : Printed for W. Strahan ; and T. Cadell, 1776-1788.), pp. 266-271.

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