They passed the Danube, overran Macedon, and spread all over Greece, where, being Arian Christians, they destroyed with all their might all the remaining statues and temples of the old pagans; although, as they did not attack Athens, the pagans, who were numerous there, fancied that they were prevented by a vision of Apollo and Pallas Athene. Arcadius sent to his brother for aid, and Stilicho marched through Thrace; Rufinus was murdered through his contrivance, and then, marching on into the Peloponnesus, he defeated Alaric in battle, and drove him out from thence, but no further than Epirus, where the Goths took up their station to wait for another opportunity; but by this time Arcadius had grown afraid of Stilicho, sent him back to Italy with many gifts and promises, and engaged Alaric to be the guardian of his empire, not only against the wild tribes, but against his brother and his minister.
[Illustration: COLONNADES OF SAINT PETER AT ROME.]
This was a fine chance for Alaric, who had all the temper of a great conqueror, and to the wild bravery of a Goth had added the knowledge and skill of a Roman general. He led his forces through the Alps into Italy, and showed himself before the gates of Milan. The poor weak boy Honorius was carried off for safety to Ravenna, while Stilicho gathered all the troops from Gaul, and left Britain unguarded by Roman soldiers, to protect the heart of the empire. With these he attacked Alaric, and gained a great victory at Pollentia; the Goths retreated; he followed and beat them again at Verona, driving them out of Italy.
It was the last Roman victory, and it was celebrated by the last Roman triumph. There had been three hundred triumphs of Roman generals, but it was Honorius who entered Rome in the car of victory and was taken to the Capitol, and afterwards there were games in the amphitheatre as usual, and fights of gladiators. In the midst of the horrid battle a voice was heard bidding it to cease in the name of Christ, and between the swords there was seen standing a monk in his dark brown dress, holding up his hand and keeping back the blows. There was a shout of rage, and he was cut down and killed in a moment; but then in horror the games were stopped. It was found that he was an Egyptian monk named Telemachus, freshly come to Rome. No one knew any more about him, but this noble death of his put an end to shows of gladiators. Chariot races and games went on, though the good and thoughtful disapproved of the wild excitement they caused; but the horrid sports of death and blood were ended for ever.