Veranilda eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 419 pages of information about Veranilda.
hoping, rather than resolving, to hold his state upon the Palatine before Belisarius could advance against him.  He felt the fatigue of those about him, and it was doubtless under the stress of such a situation, bearing himself the whole burden of the war, that he had ordered, or permitted, barbarous revenge upon the city of Tibur.  For this reason he would not, even now, centre all his attention upon the great siege; he knew what a long, dispiriting business it was likely to be, and feared to fall into that comparative idleness.  Soon after the incident of the Sicilian corn-ship, he was once more commanding in the north, where a few cities yet held out against him.  Dreadful stories were told concerning the siege of Placentia, whose inhabitants were said to have eaten the bodies of their dead ere they yielded to the Goth.  So stern a spirit of resistance was found only in places where religious zeal and national sentiment both existed in their utmost vigour, and Totila well knew that, of these two forces ever threatening to make his conquests vain, it was from religion that he had most to fear.  In vain was the history of Gothic tolerance known throughout Italy; it created no corresponding virtue in the bosom of Catholicism; the barbaric origin of the Goths might be forgotten or forgiven, their heresy—­never.

Totila, whose qualities of heart and mind would have made him, could he but have ruled in peace, a worthy successor of the great Theodoric, had reflected much on this question of the hostile creeds; he had talked of it with ministers of his own faith and with those of the orthodox church; and it was on this account that he had sought an interview with the far-famed monk of Casinum.  Understanding the futility of any hope that the Italians might be won to Arianism, and having sufficient largeness of intellect to perceive how idle was a debate concerning the ‘substance’ of the Father and of the Son, Totila must at times have felt willing enough to renounce the heretical name, and so win favour of the Italians, the greater part of whom would assuredly have preferred his rule to that of the Emperor Justinian.  But he knew the religious obstinacy of his own people; to imagine their following him in a conversion to Catholicism was but to dream.  Pondering thus, he naturally regarded with indulgence the beautiful and gentle Gothic maiden delivered into his power. by a scheming Roman ecclesiastic.  After his conversations with Veranilda, he had a pensive air; and certain persons who observed him remarked on it to each other, whence arose the rumour that Totila purposed taking to wife this last descendant of the Amals.  Whatever his temptations, he quickly overcame them.  If ever he thought of marriage, policy and ambition turned his mind towards the royal Franks; but the time for that had not yet come.  Meanwhile, having spoken with the young Roman whom Veranilda loved, he saw in Basil a useful instrument, and resolved, if his loyalty to the Goths bore every test, to reward him with Veranilda’s hand.  The marriage would be of good example, and might, if the Gothic arms remained triumphant, lead to other such.

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Veranilda from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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