[Illustration: ROMULUS AUGUSTUS RESIGNS THE CROWN.]
Rome could make no defence, and fell into Theodoric’s hands with the rest of Italy; but he was by far the best of the conquerors—he did not hurt or misuse them, and only wished his Goths to learn of them and become peaceful farmers. He gave them the lands which had lost their owners; about thirty or forty thousand families were settled there by him on the waste lands, and the Romans who were left took courage and worked too. He did not live at Rome, though he came thither and was complimented by the Senate, and he set a sum by every year for repairing the old buildings; but he chiefly lived at Verona, where he reigned over both the Eastern and Western Goths in Gaul and Italy.
He was an Arian, but he did not persecute the Catholics, and to such persons as changed their profession of faith to please him he showed no more favor, saying that those who were not faithful to their God would never be faithful to their earthly master. He reigned thirty-three years, but did not end as well as he began, for he grew irritable and distrustful with age; and the Romans, on the other hand, forgot that they were not the free, prosperous nation of old, and displeased him. Two of their very best men, Boethius and Symmachus, were by him kept for a long time prisoners at Rome and then put to death. While Boethius was in prison at Pavia, he wrote a book called The Consolations of Philosophy, so beautiful that the English king Alfred translated it into Saxon four centuries later. Theodoric kept up a correspondence with the other Gothic kings wherever a tribe of his people dwelt, even as far as Sweden and Denmark; but as even he could not write, and only had a seal with the letters [Greek: THEOD] with which to make his signature, the whole was conducted in Latin by Roman slaves on either side, who interpreted to their masters. An immense number of letters from Theodoric’s secretary are preserved, and show what an able man his master was, and how well he deserved his name of “The Great.” He died in 526, leaving only two daughters. Their two sons, Amalric and Athalaric, divided the Eastern and Western Goths between them again.
Seven Gothic kings reigned over Northern Italy after Theodoric. They were fierce and restless, but had nothing like his strength and spirit, and they chiefly lived in the more northern cities—Milan, Verona, and Ravenna, leaving Rome to be a tributary city to them, where there still remained the old names of Senate and Consuls, but the person who was generally most looked up to and trusted was the Pope. All this time Rome was leavening the nations who had conquered her. When they tried to learn civilized ways, it was from her; they learned to speak her tongue, never wrote but in Latin, and worshipped with Latin prayers and services. Far above all, these conquerors learned Christianity from the Romans. When everything else was ruined, the Bishop and clergy remained, and became the chief counsellors and advisers of many of these kings.