[Footnote 1: Gibbon’s free translation of Procopius, iv. 31.]
When Totila had finished his display the two armies faced one another, the imperialists with Narses and John upon the left, the Lombards in the centre, and Valerian upon the right with John the Glutton; the Goths in what order of battle we do not know. At length at noon the battle was joined. The Gothic charge failed, Narses drew his straight line of troops into a crescent, and the short battle ended in the utter rout of the Goths, Totila flying from the field. In that flight one Asbad a Gepid struck at him and fatally wounded him. He was borne by his companions to the village of Caprae, more than twelve miles away, and there he died.
Thus ended Totila the Goth and with him the Gothic cause in Italy. A remnant of his army made its way to Pavia, where it was contained by Valerian; and all over Italy the Gothic fortresses hastened to surrender, Perugia, Spoleto, Narni, all opened their gates, and Narses marched on to occupy Rome which he did without much difficulty. All Italy lay open to the imperialists, and when Totila’s successor Teias was slain all hope of recovery was gone. The Goths offered to leave Italy, and their offer was accepted. For a year longer a desultory war, the reduction of Cumae and Lucca, occupied Narses; but by 554 this too was brought to an end, and unhappy Italy was once more gathered into the government of the empire.
Such was the inevitable end of the Gothic war in Italy. The issue thus decided was, as I have tried to show, something much more tremendous than the mere supremacy of a race. Nothing less than the future of the world was assured upon those stricken fields and about those ruined fortresses, the supremacy of the Catholic religion in which was involved the whole destiny of Europe, the continuance of our civilisation and culture. For let it be said again: these wars of the sixth century were not a struggle to the death between two races, but between two religions; the opponents were not really Roman and Goth, but Catholic and Arian, and in the victory of the former was involved the major interest of mankind. The whole energy of that age was devoted to the final establishment of what for a thousand years was to be the universal religion of Europe, the source of all her greatness and the reason of her being. What was saved in those unhappy campaigns was not Italy, but the soul of Europe.