Attila

Attila Read Online Free PDF Page A

Book: Attila Read Online Free PDF
Author: Ross Laidlaw
loyal to a fault. Anyway, whether we like them or not is academic. They’re here to stay. We can’t beat them, we need them in the army; the best thing we can do is try to get along with them. You know, they actually admire most things Roman, and
want
to integrate with us as stakeholders in the empire. We’d be insane not to take full advantage of that. Constantius made a good start, forging friendships with the tribes before he died. And this new general, Aetius, seems to have the same idea.’
    â€˜Defeatist talk,’ retorted Gaius, his voice hardening again. ‘Aetius is a traitor to his people. We destroyed the Cimbri and the Teutones under Marius. We can do the same again.’
    â€˜That was five hundred years ago,’ Titus exclaimed in exasperation. ‘Things have changed just a little since then, don’t you think. What about Hadrianopolis? You were there, remember? Rome’s worst disaster since Cannae, they say.’
    â€˜Rome recovered after Cannae,’ Gaius retorted, ‘and went on to defeat Hannibal.’
    â€˜I can’t believe I’m hearing this,’ Titus sighed. He plucked the first scroll of the
Liber Rufinorum
from its pigeon-hole, unrolled a section and began to read: ‘“Having inflicted severe losses on the Goths, as we ourselves had sustained many casualties we decided on a tactical withdrawal to the city in order to regroup.”’ He furled the scroll and replaced it. ‘You’ve convinced yourself Hadrianopolis really
was
like that, haven’t you? You know what your trouble is, Father – you can’t face the truth about what’s happening to Rome. You blame the Germans, when you should be blaming Rome herself.’
    â€˜Explain yourself,’ snapped Gaius, nettled by his son’s blunt criticism.
    â€˜If Rome really wants to get rid of the Germans, she needs one thing above all else: patriotism. Well, that’s being very efficiently destroyed by the Roman government’s corrupt tax policy. The “barbarians”, as you call them, are being welcomed asdeliverers by the poor, who are being taxed out of existence. People are ceasing to care whether Rome survives or goes under. Is any of this registering with you? No, I can see it isn’t. I take it, then, you’re not having second thoughts about my marrying Clothilde?’
    â€˜Once he has made his mind up, a true Roman does not change it.’
    â€˜That’s the most pompous, stupid thing I’ve ever heard!’ Titus shouted, aware that he was widening the gulf that yawned between them, but past caring. ‘There’s something else you should know. I’d meant to break it gently, but we seem to have gone beyond such niceties. I’ve decided to become a Christian.’
    A terrible silence grew. At length Gaius rose. ‘Go,’ he said, in a flat, expressionless voice. ‘And take your German slut with you. You are no longer my son.’
    With his ties to home and family irrevocably sundered, Titus felt a huge loss and sadness. But in a curious way he also felt free. He knew that, like Julius Caesar five hundred years before, he had reached a crossroads in his life, a Rubicon. In a flash of insight, he saw what he must do. First, he would send Clothilde back to her own people, pending arrangements for his baptism and their marriage. (There might be tribal barriers to overcome, but no religious ones; unlike most of her fellow Germans, who were Arians, Clothilde had been raised a Catholic.) Then he would try, somehow, to join Aetius, whose policy of integrating the German tribes into the structure of the empire seemed to offer the best, perhaps the only, way forward for Rome. Having come to a decision, Titus felt relief tinged with excitement sweep over him. The die was cast.
    Â 
    1 Lake Constance
    2 12 October
    3 Milan.

TWO
    Hail Valentinian, Augustus of the West
    The Patrician Helion, presenting the child
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