Authari in Paul the Deacon’s Historia Langobardorum, Secundus of Trent, and the Alexander Tradition in Early Lombard Italy
The vivid anecdotes in Paul the Deacon’s account of the Lombard king Authari have regularly been explained as the result of Lombard oral tradition, but, when compared with the historical and legendary accounts of Alexander the Great probably available in sixth-century Italy, they seem rather more likely to have a literary source. Authari seems to be modeled on Alexander, and the resulting portrait is not a flattering one. He is compared unfavorably to Agilulf, his successor as king and as husband to Queen Theudelinda. The author of this invidious comparison appears to be Secundus of Trent, one of Paul’s sources. Secundus’s authorship has not previously been widely considered, because it was generally assumed that his historiola must have been a severely abbreviated chronicle, without any kind of literary elaboration. If, however, we allow for the possibility that his history was more expansive and full-bodied, we can see Secundus pursuing a personally and politically important interest in his comparison of Authari and Agilulf. Not only did Secundus write under the patronage of Agilulf and Theudelinda—and so owed Agilulf some support—he officiated at the baptism of their son, Adaloald, while Authari had forbidden Catholic baptism to his Lombard subjects.
The Historia Langobardorum of Paul the Deacon includes an account of the life and deeds of the Lombard king Authari (reigned 584–590). Not only is Paul’s account of Authari considerably more substantial than the information [End Page 218] contained in such sparse historical records as the Auctarii Havniensis extrema1 and the Origo gentis Langobardorum;2 it is also picked out with a few particularly vivid and memorable episodes. These passages have in the past been understood to originate in Lombard oral traditions known to Paul or his sources and to belong to the vast, if inconsistently preserved, tradition of Germanic legendry.3 More recent scholarship continues to refer to oral tradition when seeking a source for the narrative passages on Authari.4 If the investigation of early medieval literature has almost entirely abandoned the quest for the myths and legends of the German invaders, it has yet to offer a viable substitute as a source for these passages. Closer examination suggests that a literary source is at least as likely as an oral one. Specifically, the overall pattern of Authari’s life and a number of incidents in it appear to be modeled on the life of Alexander the Great. This is not to say that the account of Authari is entirely recondite artifice. The exploitation of the model of Alexander may have been suggested by the fortuitous coincidence of certain historical events and led to the tendentious elaboration of certain other, equally historical events. The presentation of Authari along the lines of Alexander was not intended to create an historical narrative where none existed before, but rather to leave the reader with a definite impression of Authari. This rhetorical effort at characterization by implication, moreover, can be traced back to the historiola of Secundus of Trent, and so to the time when Authari was held in living memory. It seems intended to establish a contrast between Authari and his successor, Agilulf (reigned 590–616), which favored the latter. [End Page 219]
Alexander in History and Legend
We have spoken of a literary source, but no one work on Alexander seems to have informed Paul’s history and we would probably do better to speak of a literate tradition on Alexander. In addition to innumerable passing references in the classical and patristic corpus, a number of works which treated the Macedonian conqueror at some length were available in early medieval Italy, even if we exclude Greek sources (some of which may, in fact, have still been accessible) and confine ourselves to Latin sources.5 Quintus Curtius Rufus, of perhaps Augustan date but almost certainly no later than the first century ce, wrote a history of Alexander in ten books (of which the first two are lost) and in a highly rhetorical style, which was read throughout the Middle Ages.6 Pompeius Trogus wrote the Philippic History as an ambitious universal history from the Assyrian kingdom to his own day in the reign of Augustus, but his work has survived only in the Epitome of Justin (M. Junianius Justinus), perhaps prepared in the second century (144 or 145 has been suggested) or perhaps at the end of the fourth (around 395); books eleven and twelve are occupied with Alexander.7 Justin’s Epitome was regularly consulted as an historical source in the Latin West;8 in at least one passage, on the Gallic invasion of Italy, Paul himself clearly depends on Justin.9 In the early fifth century Orosius, elaborating on a theme from St. Augustine, wrote his Historia adversus paganos to demonstrate that calamities and bloodshed were a perennial feature of human history, not a novelty due to the abandonment of the cult of the gods; his treatment of Alexander was appropriately bleak and condemnatory.10 Due to his explicitly Christian perspective and broad coverage, Orosius was one of the most popular historical sources of the medieval period.11 [End Page 220]
Alongside these sober and gravely intentioned histories there were also fabulous accounts of Alexander, practically all stemming from the Alexander Romance, which enjoyed at least as wide a readership. The Alexander Romance was composed in Greek sometime in the third century ce, in part from various preexisting elements, some of considerable antiquity, but was quickly given a rather free Latin translation by Julius Valerius at some point between 270 and 330.12 Interest in the Alexander Romance seems to have continued unabated in Italy throughout the early middle ages, since we have a manuscript of Julius Valerius copied in a north Italian hand, perhaps from Bobbio, in the early eighth century,13 and around 950 the Archpriest Leo brought back a later version of the Greek Romance from Constantinople to Naples and translated it into Latin.14 The fourth and fifth centuries saw the production of a number of minor works on Alexander: the Itinerarium Alexandri Magni, a partial account of the conqueror’s life based on Julius Valerius and Arrian; the Epitoma rerum gestarum Alexandri, a summary of Alexander’s career from the death of Darius, originally composed in Latin from various sources; and the Liber de morte Alexandri testamentoque eius, a translation of a very ancient propaganda piece from the time of Alexander’s earliest Successors (the latter two of which are preserved in the Metz Codex and are known as the Metz Epitome).15
These are the most prominent sources specifically concerned with Alexander available in Italy at the end of the sixth century. None of them contains all of the details and anecdotes that seem to inform the stories of Authari. In some instances, the apparent source material occurs in a number of them. I doubt that it is possible to isolate one source on Alexander for Secundus; rather, we must entertain the possibility of a number of sources contributing to an overall picture. In addition to specific texts concentrating on Alexander, we should also bear in mind a general impression of Alexander which every literate and educated person would have acquired from an even moderately extensive reading and which he would have required in order to understand the allusions to the Macedonian king that liberally peppered the literature of antiquity. [End Page 221]
Parallel Lives: Alexander and Authari
The first parallel with Alexander to be found in Paul the Deacon’s account of Authari is the fate, or perhaps more accurately the entire presentation, of his father, Cleph (reigned 572–574), the second king of the Lombards in Italy.
Langobardi vero aput Italiam omnes communi consilio Cleph, nobilissimum de suis virum, in urbe Ticinensium sibi regem statuerunt. Hic multos Romanorum viros potentes, alios gladiis extinxit, alios ab Italia exturbavit. Iste cum annum unum et sex menses cum Masane sua coniuge regnum obtinuisset, a puero de suo obsequio gladio iugulatus est.16
All of the Lombards in Italy by common consent established Cleph, the most noble man from amongst them, as their king in the city of Pavia. This man slew many of the influential men of the Romans, some with the sword, and others he drove out of Italy. When he had held the kingdom for one year and six months with his wife Masane, he was slain with a sword by a boy in his service.
This is a good example of one of those suggestive coincidences which made Alexander a plausible model for Authari. Given the violent political life of the Lombards, there is nothing inherently unlikely in the murder of a king, and the notice of this assassination is corroborated by an independent source, Marius of Avenches.17 The murder of Cleph did indeed take place, but its parallelism with the murder of Philip, the father of Alexander, is notable. Philip II of Macedon also died by the hand of an assassin, a certain Pausanias, whose youth is remarked upon (he is said to have been an adulescens) as was that of Cleph’s anonymous murderer, and who as a Macedonian nobleman owed his fealty to Philip, much as Cleph’s killer was bound to him (de suo obsequio), and—though our Latin sources do not mention it—was one of Philip’s bodyguards, and so was involved in the more intimate service suggested by the term obsequium.18 The summary of Cleph’s brief reign in the Historia Langobardorum bolsters this parallelism. It mentions only the persecution of the Roman nobility under Cleph. Likewise, Orosius, after telling of the murder of Philip, sums up his (albeit much longer) reign in terms of the bloodshed and depredations he brought to his neighbors and subjects: [End Page 222]
per uiginti et quinque annos incendia ciuitatem, excidia bellorum, subiectiones prouinciarum, caedes hominum, opum rapinas, praedas pecorum, mortuorum uenditiones captiuitatesque uiuorum unius regis fraus ferocia et dominatus agitauit.19
For twenty-five years the deceit, presumption, and domineering rule of a single king stirred up the burning of cities, the destruction of wars, the subjection of provinces, the slaughter of men, the pillage of wealth, the rustling of herds, the sale [?] of the dead, and the bondage of the living.
Nevertheless, Authari and Alexander are hardly alone in being kings whose royal fathers were murdered and this parallel might have gone unnoticed if its significance were not indicated by other episodes in the Historia Langobardorum’s life of Authari.
The influence of the Alexander tradition seems more obvious in one of the lengthiest and most interesting passages devoted to Authari. Paul the Deacon tells of Authari’s wooing of his future bride, the Bavarian princess Theude-linda, with colorful and romantic elaboration.
Flavius vero rex Authari legatos post haec ad Baioariam misit, qui Garibaldi eorum regis filiam sibi in matrimonium peterent. Quos ille benigne suscipiens, Theudelindam suam filiam Authari se daturum promisit. Qui legati revertentes cum haec Authari nuntiassent, ille per semet ipsum suam sponsam videre cupiens, paucis secum sed expeditis ex Langobardis adhibitis, unumque sibi fidelissimum et quasi seniorem secum ducens, sine mora ad Baiorariam perrexit. Qui cum in conspectum Garibaldi regis iuxta morem legatorum introducti essent, et his qui cum Authari quasi senior venerat post salutationem verba, ut moris est, intulisset: Authari, cum a nullo illius gentis cognosceretur, ad regem Garibaldum propinquius accedens ait: “Dominus meus Authari rex me proprie ob hoc direxit, ut vestram filiam, ipsius sponsam, quae nostra domina futura est, debeam conspicere, ut, qualis eius forma sit, meo valeam domino certius nuntiare.” Cumque rex haec audiens filiam venire iussisset, eamque Authari, ut erat satis eleganti forma, tacito nutu contemplatus esset, eique satis per omnia complacuisset, ait ad regem: “Quia talem filiae vestrae personam cernimus, ut eam merito nostram reginam fieri optemus, si placet vestrae potestati, de eius manu, sicut nobis postea factura est, vini poculum sumere praeoptamus.” Cumque rex id, ut fieri deberet, annuisset, illa, accepto vini poculo, ei prius qui senior esse videbatur propinavit. Deinde cum Authari, quem suum esse sponsum nesciebat, porrexisset, ille, postquam bibit ac poculum redderet, eius manu, nemine animadvertente, digito tetigit dexteramque suam sibi a fronte per [End Page 223] nasum ac faciem produxit. Illa hoc suae nutrici rubore perfusa nuntiavit. Cui nutrix sua ait: “Iste nisi ipse rex et sponsus tuus esset, te omnino tangere non auderet. Sed interim sileamus, ne hoc patri tuo fiat cognitum. Re enim vera digna persona est, quae tenere debeat regnum et tuo sociari coniugio.” Erat autem tunc Authari iuvenali aetate floridus, statura decens, candido crine perfusus et satis decorus aspectu. Qui mox, a rege comeatu accepto, iter patriam reversuri arripiunt deque Noricorum finibus festinanter abscedunt. … Igitur Authari cum iam prope Italiae fines venisset secumque adhuc qui eum deducebant Baioarios haberet, erexit se quantum super equum cui praesidebat potuit et toto adnisu securiculam, qua manu gestabat, in arborem quae proximior aderat fixit eamque fixam reliquit, adiciens haec insuper verbis: “Talem Authari feritam facere solet.” Cumque haec dixisset, tunc intellexerunt Baioarii qui cum eo comitabantur, eum ipsum regem Authari esse.20
After these things King Flavius Authari sent ambassadors to Bavaria, who were to seek the hand of the daughter of Garibald their king for him in marriage. He received them kindly and promised that he would give his daughter Theudelinda to Authari. When the ambassadors returned and reported these things to Authari, he conceived a desire to see his betrothed for himself and along with a few of the Lombards, but ready men summoned [for the purpose], taking one in particular with him who was especially faithful to him as if he were the leader, he left without delay for Bavaria. When they had been brought into the presence of King Garibald according to the custom of ambassadors, and the one who had come with Authari as the leader, after a greeting, had delivered his speech as is the custom, Authari, since he was not recognized by anyone of that people, drew up closer to King Garibald and said, “My lord King Authari gave me strict orders in this regard, that I must be sure to see your daughter, the betrothed of this same man, who is destined to be our mistress, so that I might be able accurately to report to my lord what sort of appearance she has.” And when the king had heard these things and ordered his daughter to come, and Authari had beheld her with silent approval, that she was of quite a refined appearance, and she had altogether rather pleased him, he said to the king, “Since we have seen that your daughter has such a visage that we might justly hope for her to become our queen, if it please your sovereignty, we wish to take a cup of wine from her hand, just as she will do it for us in the future.” And when the king assented that this ought to be done, and the cup of wine had been received, she offered the drink first to him who seemed to be the leader. Then once she had held it out to Authari, whom she did not know to be her fiancé, he, after he drank and [End Page 224] was returning the cup, touched her hand with his finger, though no one took notice, and brought her right hand from his forehead, along his nose, and over to his face. She reported this, red with blushing, to her nurse. Her nurse said to her, “Unless this man were the king himself and your fiancé, he should not dare to touch you at all. But for the present let us keep silent, lest this should become known to your father. For in truth he is a worthy individual, who deserves to possess a kingdom and to be associated with your husband.” Indeed, Authari was then in the bloom of youth, comely in stature, covered with shining white hair, and quite handsome in appearance. Soon, leave having been granted by the king, they took the road going back to their homeland, and swiftly took their leave of the bounds of the Noricans. … And so when Authari had already come close to the borders of Italy and he still had with him the Bavarians who were escorting him, he raised himself up over the horse on which he was mounted as high as he was able and with all his strength he drove a hatchet he was holding in his hand into a tree which stood nearby and left it stuck there, and added these words besides, “Authari is accustomed to land such a blow.” When he had said these things, then the Bavarians understood who they were accompanying, that it was King Authari himself.
Scholars in the nineteenth century considered this tale an example of Lombard legend preserved in the pages of Paul the Deacon.21 More recent scholarship has continued to read it in terms of Germanic literature and custom.22 Enright found here another example of a Germanic queen exercising her influence in the war band through the distribution of liquor, comparable to other scenes of cup-sharing, especially in Beowulf.23 It has also been suggested that Authari’s wooing belongs to the narrative pattern of Brautwerbung or bridal quest, with identifiable parallels in the heroic literature of northwestern Europe.24 [End Page 225] This story may have some affinities with certain ritual and literary patterns and it does have an undeniable legendary quality about it, but that quality may not be so much derived from the lost legends of the Lombards as borrowed from the fabulous histories of Alexander.
The distinguishing feature of the account of Authari’s courting is that he goes in disguise as one of his own emissaries to catch a glimpse of his betrothed. This deception is unnecessary and seems to be an act of sheer bravado, unless it is intended to imply by imitation of Alexander the character of Authari.25 There are several instances in the Alexander Romance, and so in Julius Valerius, of Alexander going disguised as one of his own messengers, usually to spy on an enemy before a crucial battle. This ploy is first mentioned without actually being used; the Tyrians assume that Alexander himself is amongst the envoys he sent and crucify them, but Alexander had been warned in a dream not to go as one of his own messengers and escaped this fate.26 The warning and the execution both indicate the danger Alexander courts in such an enterprise, and perhaps suggest Alexander’s rash bravery and foolhardiness when he does undertake it. In a subsequent episode Alexander does go alone to the palace of the Persian king, presenting himself as one of his own messengers, and after an exciting chase manages an escape by a hair’s breadth.27 Notably, this story, like that of Authari, also involves a cup (Alexander pockets several in plain view of the Persians in order to make a point—or sow suspicion—about his own generosity) and an exciting finale on the borders of the land visited by the hero (Alexander makes it across the River Stranga, but his horse does not). Alexander again goes alone to the Indian king Porus disguised as his own emissary, although this episode is not found [End Page 226] in Julius Valerius.28 This pattern culminates in Alexander’s encounter with the Ethiopian queen Candace.29 Alexander has Ptolemy Soter don his crown, sit on his throne, and impersonate him when the Candace’s son is received in his camp, helps him regain his wife from kidnappers, and then goes without his army to visit the queen herself in her exotic and wonderful kingdom. In all of these dealings with the Ethiopians Alexander pretends to be Antigonus, his own chief bodyguard. By a clever stratagem, however, Candace discovers his true identity, but keeps his secret and so protects him from the wrath of her other son, who is intent on avenging his father-in-law, Porus. The Alexander Romance, in its Greek original and in Julius Valerius’s translation, established Authari’s device of masquerading as his own messenger, as well as having one of his followers take his place, as one of Alexander’s usual tricks, employed repeatedly as a demonstration of the king’s bravery and an opportunity for thrilling storytelling. It also presented in Candace a royal woman who does not reveal the secret of the adventurer and thus shields him from the consequences of his brash deed, as Theudelinda and her nurse do for Authari.
In none of the episodes in the Alexander Romance does Alexander go in the guise of his own ambassador seeking or finding a wife, as Authari does. This is, however, precisely what happens in a recasting of the Alexander Romance material found in the Greek world chronicle of John Malalas, the final edition of which was written some time shortly after the death of Justinian in 565.30 Malalas includes all of the details about Alexander meeting Candace incognito and Candace recognizing him, but in this version Candace, who expresses no more than maternal admiration for Alexander in the Romance,31 offers herself to him as a wife, and the offer is duly accepted.32 The romantic motif of a courting of sorts is thus introduced to the story of a king disguised as his own messenger, and the parallel with Authari’s wooing of Theudelinda completed. The date of Malalas’s work, moreover, demonstrates that this version of the story of Alexander and Candace was in circulation in the later sixth century, close to the lifetime of Authari and, as we shall see, at the time when Secundus of Trent wrote. [End Page 227]
If it is tempting to propose that Malalas was a source for this episode, however, it is also problematic. We do not have grounds for assuming that Secundus knew Greek or that he had access to Malalas’s text. We do know that the Excerpta Latina Barbari, a work that shared Malalas’s source on Alexander, arrived from the Greek east and circulated in the Latin west, probably first in sixth-century Frankish court circles, and was eventually translated into Latin, in the eighth century.33 But the passages on Alexander in the Excerpta do not mention Candace or Alexander’s penchant for going in disguise. The Laterculus Malalianus is largely comprised of a Latin translation of Malalas’s tenth book (on the life of Christ), and Stevenson has persuasively argued that it was the work of Theodore of Tarsus while he was archbishop of Canterbury (668–690).34 While the Laterculus attests to the circulation of some part of Malalas’s text in the Latin sphere in Late Antiquity, it provides evidence that only a single book (containing no material on Alexander) was known, and that only after the West was inundated with refugees from the Arab invasions (and so after the death of Secundus). A copy of Malalas’s Chronicle may have been available in Italy at the turn of the seventh century, but we have little enough evidence for the distribution of the text of Malalas at the center of the Greek-speaking world, let alone its periphery, and we cannot point to a firm route of transmission.35
The parallel introduction of an erotic or nuptial element into the story of a king going disguised as his own ambassador may be a coincidence, although the two instances being nearly contemporary must make it a suspicious coincidence. John Malalas (or his source) and Secundus of Trent (or the author of the account of Authari’s wooing) might have both drawn the same conclusions from certain implications in the Alexander tradition. The theme of confused identity combined with an approach to a future wife also appears in the more reliable histories of Alexander. One tradition, recorded by Curtius along with certain Greek sources, holds that after the battle of Issus Alexander, in the company of his great friend Hephaestion, went to visit the tent of his royal Persian prisoners, the mother, wife, and virgin daughters of King Darius. The queen and the queen-mother mistook Hephaestion for Alexander because he was taller and Alexander excused their error by saying, “You have not made a mistake, mother, for this is also Alexander.”36 This is not a case of intentional misrepresentation, but the king is still taken for one of his attendants and, as [End Page 228] events transpire, it turns out to be an encounter with the king’s future bride. Alexander eventually married one of the daughters of Darius he met in the tent that day, in the mass wedding at Susa in the last full year of his reign.37 The record of this incident may be the source for the device of the masquerade in the Romance and its derivatives. It may also have served as inspiration or corroboration of the combination of the motifs of disguise and courting in the story of Authari. At any rate, there is plenty of material in the Alexander tradition to which the salient details of the story of Authari’s wooing of Theude-linda come quite close, closer than to a vaguely conceived legendary complex or a narrative scheme of bridal quest.
Another story is told of Authari that also has a decidedly legendary quality and recalls certain details of the historical, as well as fabulous, career of Alexander the Great. This is the account of Authari’s progress to the tip of the Italian peninsula to establish the limits of the Lombard realm.
Circa haec tempora putatur esse factum, quod de Authari rege refertur. Fama est enim, tunc eundem regem per Spoletium Beneventum pervenisse eandemque regionem cepisse et usque etiam Regiam, extremam Italiae civitatem vicinam Siciliae, perambulasse; et quia ibidem intra maris undas columna quaedam esse posita dicitur, usque ad eam equo sedens accessisse eamque de hastae suae cuspide tetigisse, dicens: “Usque hic erunt Langobardorum fines.” Quae columna usque hodie dicitur persistere et columna Authari appellari.38
About this time, that which is related concerning King Authari is thought to have taken place. For the story goes that then this same king came to Spoleto and Benevento and conquered this region and marched through Reggio as well, the furthest city of Italy, next to Sicily; and because a certain column is said to be set there in the midst of the waves of the sea, that he went up to the column mounted on his horse and touched it with the tip of his spear, saying, “The borders of the Lombards will be up to this point.” It is said that this column still stands up to the present day and it is called Authari’s column.
The phrase indicating that the column is there “up to the present day” (usque hodie dicitur persistere) is quite as likely to belong to Paul’s source as to Paul himself and is certainly no insistence upon autopsy. There may actually have been a column in the sea in Authari’s time or the column in this account might be something of a literary reference to the Columna Regia or “Pillar of Rhegium” mentioned by Pliny as a landmark on the Straits of Messina, which [End Page 229] separated Italy from Sicily.39 At any rate, the significance of the column as the most distant point of the Italian peninsula, far from the center of Lombard power in the Po valley—and therefore the most ambitious place for Authari to set the limit of his kingdom—is obvious. It is by no means inconceivable that Authari did in fact lead an expedition to the southern extremities of Italy, even if he was unable to establish effective Lombard control over these regions permanently; Calabria was to remain in Byzantine hands until it was conquered by the Normans in the eleventh century. Nevertheless, it has more than once been noted that the narrative of Authari at Reggio is more legendary than historical.40
But we are faced once again with the question of which legend is evident here, the tradition of the Lombards or the literary figure of Alexander the Great. Grimm took this episode as an example of the Germanic custom of taking a measure or establishing a limit by touch.41 It has also been suggested that the Lombards used lances in various ceremonial contexts and we might place Authari’s gesture amongst these ritual usages, but none is a precise parallel for Authari’s act and the suggestion as a whole rests on questionable grounds.42 Delogu, in contrast, places this story in the context of the Romanizing tendencies of Authari’s reign and insists that its import depends not so much on Germanic custom as on the classical concept of the territorial integrity of the Italian peninsula from the Alps to the Straits of Messina.43 There are, moreover, elements of the equally classical Alexander tradition that, it can be demonstrated, seem to have informed this narrative. [End Page 230]
Firstly, Authari is depicted pursuing his career of conquest as far as he can, until he is stopped by a watery barrier. Alexander likewise led his conquering army to the ends of the earth, to India, and drew the limit of his conquests at the Ocean, where the waves forbid his advance. Curtius mentions the Ocean several times as the goal and the terminus of Alexander’s progress.44 Justin and then Orosius, borrowing his phrase, say that Alexander headed for India, the most distant of lands, in order to set the limit of his realm at the furthest shore, in terms remarkably similar to those detailing Authari’s advance in the Historia Langobardorum: Post haec Indiam petit, ut Oceano ultimoque Oriente finiret imperium45 (“After these things he set out for India, so that the Ocean and the furthest East might bound his empire”). The Metz Epitome also notes Alexander’s progress to the Ocean.46 His arrival at the Ocean is, moreover, one of those incidents in the career of Alexander that fired the imagination of successive generations and frequently elicited comment and speculation.47 Authari’s campaign to conquer all of Italy as far as the furthest shore may be seen as a version in miniature of Alexander’s expedition to conquer the whole world up to the shores of the encircling Ocean. No matter the scale, both undertakings were enormously ambitious and the results of each equally ephemeral.
Secondly, Authari does not merely advance up to the land’s end and the furthest shore; his arrival there is also marked by his reaching a column at the Straits of Messina. Just as Authari arrived at a column at the furthest extent of his conquests, so Alexander, in legend at least, came to a column, or rather a pair of them, at the outer limits of his march. In the Romance tradition Alexander goes not only to the eastern edge of the world but also to the ends of the earth in the west: he comes to the Pillars of Hercules at the Straits of Gibraltar. In the Greek Romance and in Julius Valerius Alexander proceeds to the western extremities of the world after his return to Babylon from India and reports in detail in a letter to his mother on his visit to the Pillars of Hercules, which he finds as a pair of solid gold and silver columns.48 The Latin text of the Testament includes another mention of Alexander’s journey to the Pillars of Hercules from the Romance that does not appear in Julius Valerius; here Alexander opens his address to the Rhodians, [End Page 231] the executors of his will, by mentioning that he has passed beyond the Pillars of Hercules, as if to indicate that his career has reached its climax and he is preparing to die.49 In legend Alexander actually reaches the Pillars of Hercules, but even a more trustworthy text like Curtius’s Histories notes Alexander’s unfulfilled intention to mount an expedition to the Pillars of Hercules.50 And it is not just that both Authari and Alexander reach a landmark at the straits of the sea. We may speak of pillars and a column respectively, but in Latin the distinction between the Pillars or Columns of Hercules (Columnae Herculis) and the column or pillar (columna) that Authari finds at Reggio, or the Rhegian Column (Columna Regia) it might be intended to signify, is no more than that between plural and singular; the same word, columna, is used of all of these monuments.51 Authari, like Alexander, comes to a pillar at the edge of the mainland and the end of his campaign and sets the limit of his conquest there.
Lastly, it is possible to explain what Authari does at this column—touch it with his spear—not as an example of some doubtful Lombard ritual act but as an erudite allusion to a gesture of Alexander’s.52 According to Justin, when the Macedonian army first crossed over to Asia, as they were about to make landfall Alexander first hurled his spear into the land and leapt fully armed from the ship, “like a dancer.”53 In a parallel passage Diodorus makes it clear that by this act Alexander intended to symbolize that Asia had been received from the gods as a “spear-won prize” (δορίκτητον).54 This term, doriktetos, is a judicial one and indicates the legitimate claim to possession of plunder, captives, or territory by right of conquest.55 It was the principal basis of Alexander’s claim to kingship over the former Persian Empire, and it was a term eagerly adopted by a number of his successors.56 The spear cast recurs in the Alexander Romance and Julius Valerius, only it is transposed from the Hellespont to the passes of the Taurus mountains, the gateway to the heartland of Asia: [End Page 232]
tumque summo in culmine Tauri montis hasta defixa dixisse fertur, quisque illam rex milesve Graecus aut barbarus humo evellere ausus foret, edictum sibi urbis ac patriae suae suisque excidium meminisset.57
And then he fixed a spear in the summit of the Taurus range and he is supposed to have said that if any king or soldier, either Greek or Barbarian, should dare to pull it out of the earth, he should bear in mind that the destruction of his city and fatherland was ordained for him and his.
It is not necessary for a reader of Justin or Julius Valerius to comprehend all of the implications of the gesture they describe in order to understand adequately its basic import. By planting his spear in the ground Alexander laid claim to territory he intended to win by hard fighting and victory. Authari employs an identical instrument and a similar gesture to signal his claim to the Italian peninsula up to its furthest extremities, even if the form of his act, by analogy with Alexander, might concede that his conquest still resided for the most part in intention, rather than accomplished fact.
The story of Authari’s expedition to the toe of Italy in the Historia Langobardorum does indeed read more like a hero tale than a sober historical account. This does not seem to be, however, because it is a rendition of some Lombard legend, but because it draws on a few of the more dramatic and fabulous incidents in the career of Alexander the Great as it was known by the end of antiquity. Whatever Authari did on his march south, his deeds are colored in the telling by allusions to Alexander’s drive to the Ocean, his visit to the Pillars of Hercules, and his staking his claim to the territory of Asia by a flourish of his spear.
The last detail of Paul the Deacon’s life of Authari that bears a resemblance to the life of Alexander is, indeed, the last detail. Paul relates that Authari was poisoned to death.
Interim dum legati Authari regis in Francia morarentur, rex Authari apud Ticinum Nonas Septembris, veneno, ut tradunt, accepto, moritur, postquam sex regnaverat annos.58
Meanwhile, at the time when King Authari’s ambassadors were staying in France, at Pavia on the Nones of September [5 September] King Authari received poison, as they say, and died, after he had reigned for six years. [End Page 233]
In a time when natural causes and the results of poison were practically indistinguishable and in the turbulent atmosphere of Lombard politics, any premature death must have raised the suspicion of poisoning, especially when the deceased’s father had been assassinated.59 So it was perhaps with good reason that the suggestion of poison arose, but it is noteworthy that in the Historia Langobardorum the report of poisoning is qualified as hearsay or testimony at second-hand (ut tradunt) and is not elaborated in any way; no motive or suspects, for instance, are proposed. The emphasis is on the mere fact—or rumor—of poisoning itself. And this would be sufficient if the story of poisoning were intended to suggest a biographical parallel as much as relate an historical event.
The development of the tradition concerning Alexander, and particularly its translation into Latin, saw the king’s death by poison grow from a barely credible rumor to the generally accepted account of his demise. Our Greek historical sources offer the story that Antipater led a conspiracy that succeeded in poisoning Alexander by the agency of his cupbearer as a variant version of the record of his last days, for the most part with unconcealed disbelief.60 Curtius likewise presents the suspicion of a conspiracy and poisoning after he relates the events of Alexander’s death, but introduces this passage by saying that “many believed” (credidere plerique) that he had been poisoned.61 The ut tradunt (“as they relate”) of Paul’s Historia may be intended to recall this qualification. Justin, however, categorically asserts that Alexander was poisoned by a conspiracy and dismisses the assertion that he died from excessive drinking as a blind.62 Orosius accepts this version, apparently from Justin, and simply says that Alexander died after he drank poison.63 Certainly, the Liber de morte is largely concerned with unfolding the details of the plot to poison Alexander.64 The Alexander Romance and Julius Valerius also maintain this version in which Alexander is assassinated by poison.65 The preponderance of the sources on Alexander available in the late antique Latin west, then, held that the king had been poisoned, just as Authari was supposed to have been. [End Page 234]
The circumstances of Authari’s death may, in fact, have led to a suspicion that he had been poisoned, perhaps even a valid one, but the bare bones nature of the report of this event in the Historia Langobardorum suggests that its value was to point to a parallel in the life of Alexander as it was known in the early Middle Ages, with even a possible nod to the hesitation of the most circumspect of our Latin sources, laying the authority for the account on the report of unnamed others.
On balance, most of the events of the six years of Authari’s reign recorded in Paul’s Historia have nothing whatever to do with Alexander the Great. But if we concentrate on the incidents which involve Authari personally, and then amongst these on the episodes that are drawn with particular liveliness and detail, we see remarkable affinities with certain events in the life of Alexander, historical, or fabulous, or both. This is not to say that the account of Authari is a thoroughgoing fabrication on the basis of literary sources. Some events in the life of Authari, the fate of his father, and the circumstances of his own death, may have suggested the analogy in the first place and were then recorded in such a way as to indicate the analogy. Other events, at their core, might be no less historical, but the color and the details of their description in the Historia Langobardorum are largely derived from the histories of Alexander and insist on a similarity between Authari and Alexander. Authari most likely did go to Bavaria to court his future wife, perhaps even masquerading as one of his own ambassadors, and probably did lead an expedition to the southern reaches of the Italian peninsula. It would be unlikely for Paul’s putative source for the narrative of these events, Secundus of Trent, to make them up altogether while Authari was still a living memory. But Authari’s actions on these occasions are narratologically countoured and even obscured by the imitation of literary models meant to suggest Alexander, and especially his bravado and vainglory.
Secundus of Trent as Historian and Source for Paul’s Narrative of Authari
If it has been demonstrated that the Alexander tradition is at least a plausible alternative to Germanic lore and oral tradition as a source for the salient episodes in the account of Authari, it remains to be asked who is ultimately responsible for the depiction of Authari along these lines and why he exploited the model of Alexander.
It is possible that Authari himself had some hand in his own comparison with Alexander. His reign certainly saw a significant willingness to engage with the forms of Graeco–Roman culture on the part of the Lombard king. We know from the notice of Authari’s election to the kingship in the Historia Langobardorum that he was the first Lombard king to adopt the title Flavius. [End Page 235]
At vero Langobardi cum per annos decem sub potestate ducum fuissent, tandem communi consilio Authari, Clephonis filium supra memorati principis, regem sibi statuerunt. Quem etiam ob dignitatem Flavium appellarunt. Quo praenomine omnes qui postea fuerunt Langobardorum reges feliciter usi sunt.66
But once the Lombards had been under the rule of dukes for ten years, at length by common consent they established Authari, the son of the abovementioned prince, Cleph, as their king. Because of his rank, as well, they called him Flavius. All of the kings of the Lombards who came afterward used this name auspiciously.
Flavius was the name of the imperial dynasty founded by Constantine, and from the fourth century on it was granted as a gentilicium to practically all Roman officials in the civil and military administration.67 In taking Flavius as a royal title Authari was following the precedent of the Ostrogothic kings of Italy and the Visigothic kings of Spain.68 It was a gesture no doubt intended to garner support from his native Italian subjects and to augment the mystique of his reign (as is suggested by Paul’s adverb feliciter).69 Identifying himself in his propaganda with one of the greatest kings of the Graeco–Roman tradition would not be inconsistent with such a move. Going from the observation that Authari adopted a Roman imperial title to the insistence that he presented himself in terms of Alexander, however, would require reckless speculation, and we can do no more than entertain the possibility of some kind of imitatio Alexandri. As we examine the sort of character the analogy with Alexander creates for Authari, moreover, we shall see that it is not the kind of presentation one is likely to invite on oneself. And, of course, if we are right in taking the manner of Authari’s death as one of the parallels with Alexander, Authari himself cannot be wholly responsible for the analogy between Alexander and himself, as we find it in the Historia Langobardorum.
As I have indicated above, I consider Secundus of Trent (also known as Secundus of Non), a contemporary of Authari’s who outlived him and authored a brief history of the Lombards (now lost), to be the most likely [End Page 236] source of the parallelism with Alexander. We depend upon Paul the Deacon for everything we know about Secundus’s historiola, and that is frustratingly little.70 In his notice on the death of Secundus in 612, Paul takes care to remember his writing.
Sequenti quoque mense Martio defunctus est aput Tridentum Secundus servus Christi, de quo saepe iam diximus, qui usque ad sua tempora succinctam de Langobardorum gestis conposuit historiolam.71
And in the following month of March Secundus the servant of Christ died at Trent, about whom I have often spoken already, and who wrote a brief little history about the deeds of the Lombards up to his own times.
Although Paul says he has often mentioned Secundus, he has, in fact, referred to him only twice before, and to the historiola only once, suggesting that what he means is that there are several unattributed quotations or paraphrases of Secundus’s historiola throughout the preceding chapters of the Historia Langobardorum. The one other time when Paul refers to the historiola of Secundus, he expresses surprise that it made no mention of a great victory over the Franks by the Lombards under Authari in 588.
Mirandum sane est, cur Secundus, qui aliqua de Langobardorum gestis scripsit, hanc tantam eorum victoriam praeterierit, cum haec quae praemisimus de Francorum interitum in eorum historia hisdem ipsis pene verbis exarata legantur.72
It is surely a cause for wonder, why Secundus, who wrote some other things concerning the deeds of the Lombards, should omit so great a victory of theirs as this, when these things which we have set out about the destruction of the Franks may be read in their history set down in almost these very same words.
Paul makes it clear that Secundus’s historiola covered the reign of Authari and he expected to find in it some mention of the king’s signal victory; he could not and had to turn instead to the history of Gregory of Tours for information on this event.73 Secundus’s neglect of Authari’s victory and Paul’s surprise at [End Page 237] this neglect are, in my opinion, critical to the attribution of the analogy with Alexander to Secundus, but more of this later.
There is general agreement that Secundus of Trent was one of Paul’s sources for the reign of Authari,74 but this does not mean that the suggestion that Secundus is responsible for depicting Authari in the mold of Alexander is unproblematic. Two presumptions have dominated the reconstruction of Secundus’s lost history and the nature of Paul’s dependence on it. The first is derived from nineteenth-century German Quellenforschung and holds that sources for historical and legendary material must be distinct, and so while events and their dates may be assigned to Secundus, anything that smacks of a passably entertaining story is consigned to the realm of legend. In his survey of Paul the Deacon’s sources, Jacobi, as a result, considered Secundus to be the source of the notices on the deaths of Cleph and Authari (they stick to the “facts”), as well as the date of Authari and Theudelinda’s marriage, but not the story of Authari’s courting (that’s legendary); he does not even mention Authari’s expedition to Reggio.75 The two narratives Jacobi denied to Secundus as too legendary had already been included in the Grimms’ collection of Germanic legends, the Deutsche Sagen.76 This separation undoubtedly says more about the ideal of historiography in nineteenth-century Germany than the models of history writing available to Secundus. Lively stories and the interruption of a succession of unimpeachably historical events with a diverting narrative are not absent from the pages of Sallust, Livy, or the Bible, for that matter. Nor have the scholars responsible for instigating this separation been consigned to the oblivion of academic neglect; both Bethmann and Jacobi appear in the most recent bibliography on Secundus of Trent.77
The second presumption is that a succincta historiola will be made up of entries no less brief and succinct in their kind than the history as a whole; it seems to have carried the day in twentieth-century Anglophone scholarship on Secundus. Gardiner notes a change in the Historia Langobardorum’s style from extended narrative in the manner of the sagas to a series of “terse, annalistic entries” beginning with the opening of the fourth book and assumed that the first forty chapters of Book Four reflected the content of Secundus’s [End Page 238] history, drawing a comparison with the chronicle of Marius of Avenches.78 He proposes an independent origin for the story of Authari’s courting specifically, because of its “obvious literary tone,” and suspects that “Paul is here dressing up an oral tradition.”79 Gardiner’s determinations are no more than assumptions, yet they have garnered some support, or at least repetition. Bullough’s view of the matter is ambiguous. He considers the “detailed narrative (with dates) in the later chapters of Book III and Book IV … substantially from abbot Secundus of Trento’s otherwise-lost” history, but elsewhere denies that “Paul’s ‘anecdotal’ material on the early kings” was found in Secundus and expresses his belief that, while it may have contained names and outlines, “narrative passages are unlikely to have figured in Secundus’s work.”80 The views on the nature of Secundus’s history asserted by Capo in her commentary on Paul’s Historia are more or less in agreement with those of Gardiner and Bullough, that it was an annalistic work with no room for the saga material with its “deep-seated ‘Germanness.’”81 Pohl does not appear far from this opinion, claiming that those passages in Paul’s History, which can be shown to go back to Secundus “are succinct in the style of the late Roman Chronica minora” and Secundus probably “followed an annalistic scheme” like John of Biclar and Marius of Avenches, but then he goes on to argue that this brief chronicle with its terse entries contained a lengthy and involved account of an incident in the Three Chapters controversy, including a full list of the bishops subscribing to the decisions of a certain synod.82 Pohl seems to add a further dimension to the limitations on Secundus’s historiola by explaining his neglect of Authari’s victory over the Franks as a result of an intensely parochial concentration on events that occurred in the region of Trent.83 Borri also assumes that Secundus wrote an annalistic chronicle in the manner of Marius of Avenches and John of Biclar, but does say that “[n]owhere else … does the History of the Lombards offer such richness of detail as in the passages stemming from Secundus’s Short History” and entertains the possibility that the fuller narrative episodes might also be attributed to Secundus, his work perhaps exhibiting the “mixed modes of historical narrative” described by Pizarro.84 The considerations predominating in the scholarship, if they were [End Page 239] valid, would exclude any protracted narrative or reflection on an entire reign from the pages of Secundus’s history, but there is nothing in Paul’s tantalizing hints about that history to substantiate them. And certainly recourse to an oral tradition or saga material grafted onto Secundus’s outline seems unlikely when we can indicate literary models for the narratives in question. Nevertheless, as a consequence of presumptions about Secundus he has been largely ignored as a possible source for Paul’s anecdotes about Authari.
For a long time Bognetti seems to have been practically alone in recognizing the potential of Secundus’s situation and its implications for Paul’s debt to him. Far from being merely a cloistered monk out of touch with all but chance reports from the wider world, Secundus was to all appearances a respected courtier and the spiritual counselor of the Lombard queen. Bognetti likens his position to that of Cassiodorus, who undertook to write a history of the Goths with all the advantages of a royal secretary and an intimate of the court. Secundus could rely on the confidences of Theudelinda for anecdotes about Authari, Agilulf, and herself. If Paul’s stories concerning these figures have a certain picturesque quality, he is more likely to have found it already in the pages of Secundus’s historiola than to have derived it from the national sagas of the Lombards.85 According to Bullough, Bognetti “sought to revive the discredited view that Paul’s ‘anecdotal’ material on the early kings was already to be found in Secundus’ historiola.”86 But this misrepresents the state of affairs. The position adopted by Bognetti has never actually been refuted; it has been ignored and neglected in favor of theories that insist on a clear, but doubtful, distinction between historiography and storytelling and the importance of a suppositious oral tradition.
In fact, Bognetti’s picture of Secundus as a worldly and well-connected cleric seems to be corroborated by the acknowledgement of his influence at the Lombard court in the correspondence of Gregory the Great.87 It has also received some support at either end of the historiographic tradition. The venerable Mommsen would have allowed a broader scope to the historical work of Secundus, but he was more concerned with the relationship of the Origo gentis Langobardorum to the historiola and does not discuss the attribution of the passages on Authari.88 And Hammer has very recently said,
I suspect that it is wrong to consider Secundus’ “succinctam de Langobardorum gestis … historiolam” as only terse annals of local history much like Marius of Avenches (so Gardiner). Rather, it seems likely that Theodelinda’s pronounced interest in the Langobard past may have inspired a more [End Page 240] discursive history of Langobard gesta which in some way paralleled the gesta depicted in her palace murals … and undoubtedly glorified her role in Langobard history.89
The nature of Secundus’s work is due for a reappraisal that does not depend on a set of assumptions that have gained authority in repetition.
Paul’s term for Secundus’s work also appears to have misled scholars, quite unnecessarily. If not a neologism, historiola is not a classical word and does not easily lend itself to definition on the basis of usage in other authors. Nevertheless, the simple diminutive form of historia seems to reinforce or reduplicate succincta, the adjective Paul also applies to the historiola. Secundus wrote a brief or concise history, admittedly a vague and relative description, but there is nothing in it to suggest that an historiola is made up of brief entries. On the contrary, Paul’s description of the historiola as “concerned with the deeds of the Lombards” (de Langobardorum gestis) would suggest, if anything, not the briefest possible indication of events (as we find in Gardiner’s comparandum, the chronicle of Marius of Avenches), but rather some narration of what the Lombards did.90 Moreover, if the definitions of Secundus’s contemporary Isidore of Seville were known and meaningful to him (or to Paul), we should expect the sort of compilation of “terse, annalistic entries” imagined by Gardiner and others to be referred to as annales or chronica.91 Isidore himself uses the word historiola of the work of Maximus of Zaragoza: scripsit et brevi stylo historiolam de iis quae temporibus Gothorum in Hispaniis acta sunt, historico et composito sermone (“he also wrote in concise fashion a short history of what happened in Spain in the time of the Goths, in an historical and well-ordered manner”), but this does not tell us much, since Maximus’s historiola is also lost.92 Most tellingly, Paul uses the word historiola only twice in the Historia Langobardorum, once to refer to Secundus’s work and once previously to refer to his own work, the history on which he was presently engaged: … sicut nos in hac historiola inseruimus. … (“ … just as we have inserted in this little history. …”).93 Anyone who does not [End Page 241] impose an incredible weight of meaning on the succinctam used to describe Secundus’s history will have to concede the possibility, at the very least, that Paul intended his reference to Secundus’s historiola to suggest a work not dissimilar to his own history, which is, of course, by no means insubstantial in length and elaboration. Zecchini has suggested that historiola was Secundus’s own term for his work, used as a gesture of modesty and a recognition that he stood in a tradition of more weighty, or at least more authoritative, histories.94 There is no reason not to think of Secundus’s historiola as a collection, perhaps shorter than most, of anecdotes and full-bodied narratives much as we find them in Paul’s own history and perhaps exemplified by those episodes we have examined above.
If we allow that some of the extended narratives of events around the turn of the seventh century need not be derived from another source, but may rather reflect the content of Secundus of Trent’s historiola, we can find other examples in the Historia Langobardorum of accounts of contemporary history having been colored by classical models and mistaken for Lombard lore, as in the case of Authari’s career and the model of Alexander.95 For instance, the account of Romilda has been assumed to be taken from oral tradition or a putative “Grimoald-saga.”96 But there are at least two stories from the core of the Latin canon that should be considered as models that determined the form of the narrative as we have it in Paul the Deacon. After her husband’s death, the duchess Romilda was left in charge of the defense of Cividale (Forum Julii) against the invading Avars, but she caught sight of the Avar Cagan from the battlements and fell in love with him; in exchange for a promise of marriage she opened the gates of the city to the enemy, but the Cagan respected his oath only so far as to sleep with Romilda for one night “as if in marriage” before turning her over to be used by twelve of his men and then impaled on a stake, “the sort of husband she deserved.”97 In Propertius’s telling of the story of Tarpeia, a woman who has fallen in love with the enemy commander likewise betrayed the besieged city in exchange for a promise of marriage, but the conqueror rejected the traitor and punished her by preparing a marriage bed of the shields his men piled on her.98 Livy’s account of Tarpeia also emphasizes [End Page 242] the punishment of the traitor by the conquerors who respect the letter of an ambiguous promise of recompense: Tarpeia bartered her city for what the Sabines wore on their left arms, and while she intended their gold bracelets, they crushed her to death by throwing their shields on her.99 Ovid’s Meta-morphoses includes the story of Scylla, the daughter of Nisus, who observed Minos from the walls as he besieged her father’s city of Megara and became enamored with him; she also betrayed her city for a desperate love only to be rejected by the conqueror.100 Rather than either one of these stories being the sole source, both seem to have contributed elements to the account of Romilda. In this case it may not be altogether clear whether Paul or his source is responsible for recasting, at least in part, the story of Romilda according to classical models.101 But the consistency with the method we have attributed to Secundus in regard to Authari and Alexander should lead us to entertain the possibility that it is Secundus and to see this as corroboration of our reconstruction of his modus scribendi.
Possible Motives for Secundus’s Narrative Reshaping of the Authari Story
If the issue of the authorship of the narrative sequences concerning Authari may not be considered decided, it should at least be seen as far from settled on the terms that have been favored in English-speaking scholarship. We are thus justified in proceeding, for the sake of argument, on the assumption that these passages reflect the content of Secundus of Trent’s historiola. We must now turn to ask why Secundus depicted Authari in the mold of Alexander. We have already raised the possibility that Authari’s own propaganda might have presented him as a new Alexander. But such an encomiastic depiction of Authari can only have been a starting point or foil for the picture we have preserved in the Historia Langobardorum. Surely, we would expect the keynote of any laudatory comparison of Authari with Alexander to be the martial exploits of the Lombard king. And we have already seen Paul noting with some surprise that Secundus passed over the great Lombard defeat of the Franks in 588, likely the greatest military success of Authari’s reign, in silence.102 In fact, Authari’s war record as found in the Historia [End Page 243] Langobardorum is, on the whole, rather lackluster. This is particularly true in comparison with the Auctarii Havniensis extrema, which credits Authari with restoring the military fortunes of the Lombards and by his “genius and prudence” soundly defeating the Franks who were plundering Italy.103 According to Paul’s text, after an initial victory over the rebel duke Droctulf, Authari faced a Frankish invasion, which failed due to dissension in its own ranks; dispatched an expedition to Istria that he did not command himself; saw the Byzantine stronghold on the island of Comacina surrender to a Lombard force; and in the last year of his reign responded to another Frankish invasion by withdrawing inside the walls of Pavia, giving the attackers a free hand to pillage and destroy until they were undone by dysentery and famine.104 Apart from the defeat of Droctulf, and that in a civil conflict, none of these events redound to the credit of Authari as a warrior or a general—some of them quite the opposite—and if the record of these events is supposed to be taken from his historiola, it can be seen as consistent with Secundus’s neglect of that victory in which Authari did prove himself an eminently effective war leader. Secundus’s purpose in using the model of Alexander was quite clearly not to present Authari as a great conqueror.
Even apart from his mediocre military exploits, the Authari of the Historia Langobardorum, and so presumably Secundus’s Authari, is, if not negatively depicted, then certainly a dissatisfying hero. Goffart understands Authari as something of a comic character, who anticipates Agilulf, the true hero of the piece, but ultimately falls short of him.105 Alexander might seem to be a particularly extravagant and inappropriate model for such an anti-hero, a buffoon even. But Goffart’s proposal is, in fact, consistent with the view of Alexander in the patristic literature that immediately precedes and forms the context of Secundus’s historiola, predominated as it is by censure and derogation.106 Alexander is condemned as a vicious, blood-drenched tyrant, who in his arrogance was incapable of appreciating the True God, Who rather uses him as His unwitting tool. In Secundus’s day Alexander would have provided a fine pattern for the king who might seem to succeed according to some worldly measure, but fails in regard to a more spiritual one.107
But it is not as if even the worldly success of Authari is unqualified, in spite of the description of his reign as a time remarkable for the absence of crime.108 [End Page 244] The deficiencies of Authari’s character and career are accentuated by the selection of episodes from the life of Alexander to serve as models for his deeds. The brief and dismissive notice on Authari’s father Cleph, mentioning nothing but his violence toward his subjects and his death at an assassin’s hand, finds its parallel in Orosius’s summing up of Philip’s reign as one long catalogue of rapine and murder punctuated by the king’s assassination. Authari’s masquerade as his own messenger imitates a number of episodes in which Alexander risks his life for no apparent advantage apart from the opportunity to make a display of bravado. This incident is closest to an episode in which Alexander is outwitted by a woman and falls into her hands; the account of Alexander in the Chronicle of John Malalas, a critical presentation of the Macedonian that opens with his crime of human sacrifice, dwells upon his encounter with Candace at length.109 If Authari’s expedition to Reggio recalls Alexander’s ventures to the Ocean and the Pillars of Hercules, it also recalls the boundless ambition that impelled him. Authari’s boast at the pillar in the sea, “The borders of the Lombards will be up to this point!” reminds us that this was also an occasion on which his intention outstripped his ability. Authari may have marched to the extremities of Italy, but he failed to establish effective and permanent Lombard rule in Calabria, and none who followed him ever did.110 And on the model of Alexander Authari’s gesture with his spear on this occasion is tellingly more appropriate to the outset of a campaign and impending conquests than to the climax of a career of supposed territorial acquisition; it signals a task begun but not completed. Like the impressive realm claimed by Authari, Alexander’s remarkable conquests began to disintegrate shortly after his death and the far-flung territories in India and on the Ocean were among the first to be lost by his successors.111 That Authari’s death by poison reflects Alexander’s end indicates not only a ruler’s vulnerability but also the arrogance of Alexander that alienated his closest friends and associates, as well as the dismal end he made to a brilliant career.112 Each of the episodes from the life of Alexander chosen as models for the account of Authari points to the shortcomings of his person and his reign, but the imitation of Alexander [End Page 245] overall also seems to be intended as a criticism and the construction of an invidious comparison.
It may not seem easy to gauge just how we are to read the construction of Authari’s character in emulation of Alexander. References to Alexander are hardly common in the writing (if not the reading) of sixth-century Italy. One might search in vain through the pages of Boethius, Cassiodorus, or Gregory the Great for any mention of Alexander, and the expatriate Italian Venantius Fortunatus offers only a single passing reference to Alexander, and that of the briefest.113 In an almost offhanded fashion Jordanes remarks that the Gothic king Ermanaric, who conquered many of his neighbors, was with good reason compared to Alexander the Great, but he does not indicate the grounds for this comparison, leaving the reader to assume that it was made because they were both successful conquerors.114 But while Jordanes’s Getica may have been intended for an Italian audience, it was almost certainly composed in Constantinople by a denizen of the Eastern Empire who probably never visited Italy, and there is no sound reason to assume that the comparison of Ermanaric and Alexander was simply taken over from one of Jordanes’s sources.115 The one instance from sixth-century Italy of a discussion of Alexander [End Page 246] of any length therefore merits our attention. In the course of his Panegyric to Theodoric, Ennodius brings up Alexander to set him against his laudable subject; not surprisingly, Alexander comes off poorly in the comparison.
Eat nunc et coturnatis relationibus Alexandrum iactet antiquitas, cui famae opulentiam peperit dos loquentium, ut per adiutricem facundiam videatur crescere rebus mendica laudatio. Regis nostri merita solacium non postulant adserentis: minora sunt eius veris actibus, quamvis aucta sint veterum gesta mendaciis. Simulastis, poetae, grandia, sed fateri vos convenit praesentem dominum gessisse potiora. Pellaeus ductor praeconiorum suorum summam Choerili voluit constare beneficio, ne fallendi votum multitudo deprehenderet et fieret testis inpudentiae, qui adsciscebatur in adstipulatione victoriae. Nihil detraho senioribus, quos praecipuos habuisset antiquitas, nisi Romani nominis erectio te dedisset. Illum verae religionis ignarum obtinuit erroris mater inscitia: te summi dei cultorem ab ipso lucis lumine instructio vitalis instituit. Numquam applicas laboribus tuis, quod eventus dexter obtulerit: scis in te curam, penes deum perfectionis esse substantiam. Agis ut prospera merearis adipisci, sed potitus universa adscribis auctori. Exhibes robore, vigilantia, prosperitate principem, mansuetudine sacerdotem.116
Now let antiquity go and boast of Alexander with lofty reports, for whom the talent of speakers procured a wealth of fame, so that his commendation, wanting in deeds, might appear to increase with eloquence as a helper. The merits of our king do not require the support of someone declaring them: the deeds of the ancients, no matter how much they have been exaggerated by lies, are small in comparison with what he has actually done. Poets, you have counterfeited great things, but it is meet for you to confess that that ruler before us has done mightier things. The general from Pella wished the height of his praises to stand upon the good offices of Choerilus, lest the crowd seize upon his intention to deceive and he become a witness of impudence, who was being acquired for the affirmation of his victory. I take nothing away from our ancestors, whom antiquity considered famous, if the elevation of the Roman name had not offered yourself. His mother in the ignorance of error kept him without knowledge of the true religion: a lively upbringing established you as a worshipper of the Highest God from the very threshold of life. You never ascribe to your own labors what a happy fortune offers: you know that yours is the responsibility for achievement, but its means lie in the power of God. You conduct yourself so that you might deserve to [End Page 247] attain success, but having gained it you ascribe all things to the Creator. In strength, vigilance, and success you show yourself a prince, in gentleness a priest.
First, let it be noted that Alexander is offered as a foil. Alexander is not only a character to be surpassed and outdone by the hero of the piece, Theodoric, but also contrasted with him. Moreover, Ennodius does not hesitate to praise the martial exploits of Theodoric, but he does not take any mention of his virtues or his warlike prowess as an opportunity to compare him with Alexander.117 The crux of the comparison of Theodoric with Alexander is not success in war but religion and the apprehension of truth in this regard. Alexander is denounced as a pagan, while Theodoric is praised as a Christian.
A similar comparison on similar terms may be intended by the casting of Authari as an Alexander-figure. We have already seen that Goffart understands Authari to be presented as a foil to his successor (as king and as husband to Theudelinda) Agilulf, and a contrast between Authari and Agilulf does indeed seem evident. But unlike Goffart, I think that this contrast can be credited to Secundus of Trent, not Paul the Deacon. If Paul were responsible for, or even aware of, the negative construction of Authari’s character in contrast to Agilulf in the terms we have noted, he would not have expressed such surprise at Secundus’s neglect of Authari’s great victory; as it is, the subtleties of one of his sources seem to be lost on Paul. By his own admission, Paul cannot see why Secundus failed to mention a great Lombard victory, but we have suggested such a mention would run counter to the characterization of Authari that Secundus was carefully constructing. Attributing the Alexander analogies to Paul reintroduces more problems than it solves.
Secundus wrote under the patronage of Theudelinda and her new husband Agilulf,118 and we would expect any eulogy of Theudelinda’s previous husband to be measured, and the late husband to suffer in any comparison with the present one. But there is a circumstance that draws the contrast of Authari and Agilulf very close to the terms of Ennodius’s contrast of Alexander with Theodoric and indicates that such a contrast was a matter of intense personal interest to Secundus. Secundus was not merely a subject of Agilulf and Theudelinda, nor just the recipient of their literary patronage, he was also [End Page 248] a member of the court circle and sponsored the son of the royal couple at his baptism. Paul mentions the event and Secundus’s role in it, perhaps on the authority of Secundus himself.
Tunc etiam baptizatus est praenominatus puer Adaloald, filius Agilulfi regis, in Sancto Iohanne in Modicia, et susceptus de fonte est a Secundo servo Christi de Tridento, cuius saepe fecimus mentionem.119
Then also [in 603] the boy child named above, Adaloald, the son of King Agilulf, was baptized at St. John in Monza, and was taken up from the font by Secundus the servant of Christ from Trent, of whom we have often made mention.
This event, in which Secundus was personally involved and heavily invested, was pivotal in the religious history of Italy.120 For the first time a Lombard king had allowed his heir to be baptized as a Catholic and so identified with the creed of the majority of his subjects.121 It is also a significant point of contrast between Agilulf and Authari, for Authari had forbidden the Lombards from baptizing their children as Catholics.122 We know of Authari’s decree only from a letter of Gregory the Great;123 the absence of any notice of it in the Historia Langobardorum—and so the presumed silence of Secundus on the matter—could be taken to be just as significant as Secundus’s attested silence on another event in Authari’s reign. He did not neglect it by happenstance but rather because it was critical to his muted and subtle characterization of Authari. The difference between Authari and Agilulf can be summed up [End Page 249] in their actions in regard to Catholic baptism: the one forbade it to all of his Lombard subjects, and the other permitted it even for his own son. The contrasting presentation of these two men in Secundus’s historiola, and so Paul’s Historia Langobardorum, likewise stems from this crucial difference. This contrast between Agilulf and Authari is also constructed on the same basis as Ennodius’s contrast between Theodoric and Alexander: the cognizance of religious truth. It would be that much more piquant for Authari to be likened to Alexander if Fanning is right in thinking that Authari’s position was more anti-Catholic than pro-Arian and could have stemmed from pagan sympathies.124 Authari is like Alexander in many ways, but ultimately he is most like Alexander in not acknowledging the True God.
Certainly the correspondence of Gregory the Great would suggest that he, as well as the rest of the Church, viewed baptism as a central issue in his dealings with the Lombards and a major difference between the policies of Authari and Agilulf.125 On the one hand, Gregory castigated the recently deceased Authari, “the altogether wicked Authari” (nefandissimus Autharith), for prohibiting Lombard children from receiving Catholic baptism and urged his bishops to view Authari’s death as divine punishment and an opportunity to persuade Lombard parents to have their children rebaptized as Catholics.126 On the other hand, he wrote to congratulate Theudelinda on the birth of her son and, more profusely, on his baptism into the Catholic faith.127 Agilulf’s permission is not mentioned in this letter, but then perhaps Gregory was at liberty to see matters as they were, not as he wished them to be. Secundus, in contrast to Gregory, seems not to have emphasized Theudelinda’s decisive role, at the expense of Agilulf’s active participation in the baptism. Perhaps he did this as an incentive to Agilulf, perhaps to fulfill in some way the wishes of Theudelinda. Secundus likewise seems to be behind Paul the Deacon’s farfetched claim that at Theudelinda’s urging Agilulf became a Catholic.128
The Logic of Secundus’s Narrative of Contrast in the Court of Theudelinda and Agilulf
The matter of baptism and the Catholic faith seems to be the lynchpin of the contrast between Authari and Agilulf, but a broader opposition of the two figures is found in passages from the Historia Langobardorum that might be traced back to Secundus. This opposition, moreover, concerns issues that [End Page 250] could make casting Authari in the mold of Alexander particularly appropriate. Authari’s wooing of Theudelinda, in which he imitates the hazardous bravado of Alexander, emphasizes his brave and reckless character, and it is immediately juxtaposed with an incident that reveals the discretion and circumspection of Agilulf. The wooing in Bavaria is followed without interruption in the Historia Langobardorum by the wedding of Authari and Theudelinda. At the wedding celebration lightning struck a tree and Agilulf, then the duke of Turin, who was in attendance, asked a soothsayer the meaning of the omen, and he said it portended that the new queen would soon be Agilulf’s own wife. Agilulf commanded the soothsayer on pain of death to keep silent about his prediction,129 and so displayed more sense and caution than Authari had in the adventure that preceded his wedding.
After Authari’s death, Theudelinda is supposed to have selected Agilulf as her new husband and king, and the manner in which he is notified of his election likewise insists on a contrast with Authari as a figure modeled on Alexander. A comparison is inevitable, since in the same way that Authari’s wooing involves a loving cup, a kiss, and a blush, Theudelinda summoned Agilulf to her presence and offered him a drink from her wine cup, and, when he then kissed her hand, she blushed and insisted that he should kiss her lips before turning to discuss their marriage.130 In the first episode Authari imposes himself on Theudelinda, in the second Theudelinda retains the initiative throughout; Authari presumes to make an intimate gesture, Agilulf must be invited to kiss Theudelinda’s lips; Authari’s impudence makes Theudelinda blush, Agilulf’s innocence and reverence have the same effect.131 The overall impression is one of Agilulf’s humility and gentlemanly [End Page 251] conduct, which seem all the more virtuous in light of Authari’s insolence and bravura stunts.
We have already noted Authari’s mediocre war record. The Historia Langobardorum does not counter this with a roster of Agilulf’s victories and warlike accomplishments. Rather the record of Agilulf’s reign is repeatedly punctuated with notices on the peace treaties he made with various neighboring powers, the Exarch in Ravenna, the Pope, the Avars, the Franks, and the Emperor in Constantinople.132 As with their marriage, Agilulf’s peaceful overtures are supposed to come about at Theudelinda’s instigation.133 The picture is a contrived, if pleasing, one; Agilulf was at least as bellicose as any other Lombard king (as the Pope and the citizens of Rome had occasion to realize), but the depiction in the Historia Langobardorum suits purposes we may plausibly assign to Secundus of Trent. So Authari is, like Alexander, a man of war, though unlike Alexander not a very impressive one, and Agilulf is a man of peace, very much in keeping with the Christian ideal held by the clerical authors of Late Antiquity.134 We may strongly suspect the intention of Abbot Secundus behind this presentation of Authari and Agilulf, not only because it is consistent with what we presume the interests of a churchman to be, but also because the catalogue of Agilulf’s peace treaties does not proceed beyond the notice of Secunudus’s death and the putative end of his historiola’s coverage.
In each of these instances there is an implicit, though hardly concealed comparison of Authari and Agilulf, and in each the comparison favors Agilulf. Agilulf is superior to Authari, particularly as he is depicted in the likeness of Alexander. Where Authari is shown to be reckless, arrogant, and warlike (if ineffectually so), Agilulf is presented as circumspect, humble, and sturdily peace-loving. These contrasts also circle back to the nub of Ennodius’s comparison of Alexander and Theodoric and the difference in the policies of the two Lombard kings on baptism. The virtues that Agilulf is seen to display in these episodes are decidedly Christian, and the vices of Authari are those proper to the godless and the heathen.
One last aspect of the treatment of Authari remains to be explained. Whereas Ennodius’s reference to Alexander is clear and explicit, Secundus’s references to Alexander are veiled and his comparison of Authari and Agilulf suggested rather than announced. This is so not because these aspects of his composition should be held in doubt, but for the very good reason [End Page 252] that Secundus could not openly denounce Authari. Nor was this because he wished to spare the tender feelings of Queen Theudelinda for her late husband. Rather, it was because Agilulf, the reigning king when Secundus wrote and his patron, depended on Authari for his own legitimacy. It is significant that when the Lombard dukes chose a new king after the ten-year interregnum following Cleph’s death they selected Cleph’s son, Authari.135 That is, they elected a king from among the candidates produced by a royal family or lineage, perhaps giving preference to the closest male relative of the deceased king.136 Agilulf’s marriage to Theudelinda, the widow of Authari, was his link to that lineage, through Authari. The claim that Agilulf was a blood relative of Authari is almost certainly fictitious, but it had the same purpose of forging a link to the royal bloodline.137 In spite of the romantic coloring in which it has been dressed up, Agilulf’s marriage to Theudelinda was a hard-nosed political move, necessary for him to secure the throne.138 The person of Authari was critical to the legitimacy of both Agilulf’s personal claim to the kingship and the restoration of the monarchy he held. As a consequence, the legitimacy of Authari could not be called into question without undermining the position of Agilulf himself. Secundus had no interest in doing this; he enjoyed the support of Agilulf, or at least his queen, and to all appearances did everything in his power to reciprocate this favor. An explicit identification with Alexander might seem to condemn Authari outright or to question his fitness to rule, and Secundus could not do this, for Agilulf’s sake. But Secundus could by subtle means and without compromising the interests of Agilulf suggest that Authari followed the wrong model of kingship and was somehow deficient as a king, especially in comparison with Agilulf, and that the Lombards and all [End Page 253] Italy were fortunate in the brevity of his reign and in the choice of his successor. The character of Alexander, moreover, permitted a salutary equivocation; depending on the audience and the circumstance he might be understood as either a mighty king or an ambitious, godless tyrant.
The references to Alexander are probably also implicit, and so not altogether clear and unmistakable, for reasons of literary style and effectiveness. The author who is too emphatically insistent on his model loses the effect of apparently accidental coincidences, seemingly indicative of genuine correspondences between model and subject, and must content himself with a virtuoso display of erudition. The latter effect is achieved when Peredeo, Rosemund’s accomplice in the murder of Alboin, is likened to Samson in so many words in the Historia Langobardorum.139 Secundus might have offered Alexander as an unambiguous model, but an explicit comparison would have made his artifice plain and must have come across as so much overblown rhetoric. As it is, the subtle suggestion and the elusive reference give the reader the impression that there really is something of the character of Alexander, his ambition and bravado, perhaps even something of his enviable accomplishment as well, about Authari. And that impression can only have been more resonant if the reader might believe that he had arrived at it by his own intuition, not directed by the writer’s artifice.
If the message of Secundus’s allusions to Alexander was as subtle as it appears, it allows us to say something about his purpose and his intended audience. We should not see the presentation of Authari in the image of Alexander as an attempt to recast Lombard history in terms of the Graeco–Roman past. Nor should we imagine that the discovery of Alexander in Authari was intended for general consumption. The allusions to Alexander convey a carefully-coded message meant to be deciphered by those few who like Secundus participated in a traditional education. That being said, the historiola could be read on two levels, as a plain record of past events occasionally embellished with colorful narrative and as a complex referential work conveying the opinions of its author. The ambivalence of the historiola seems to have been calculated to win support for Agilulf in those intellectual and ecclesiastical circles in which Secundus moved, to praise him without undermining his claims to legitimacy.
More recent scholarship has abandoned the model of the discrete maintenance of classical education and barbarian lore proceeding on parallel lines that never intersect in favor of a more complex picture of “Romans” readily adopting “barbarian” ways and invaders largely integrated into the life of the [End Page 254] Empire before ever they crossed the frontier. But this more nuanced understanding seems to have left the interpretation of the narratives of Authari in the Historia Langobardorum more or less untouched. Recourse is still had to an amorphous oral tradition, and the possibility of classical sources largely ignored. A lingering reverence for the magisterial disquisitions of nineteenth-century Quellenforschung is compounded with the prevalence of a narrow understanding of the nature of one of Paul’s sources. The insistence that Secundus of Trent could only have written a terse annalistic chronicle with laconic entries has precluded the possibility that he was Paul’s source for the extended narratives on Authari and hindered the interpretation of these passages by sending the reader off on a wild goose chase after Lombard legends. But the stories about Authari can be seen to have a consistent literary model in the traditions on Alexander the Great. Demonstrable literary sources, even implicit ones, are always more secure than an oral tradition whose very existence is presumed from subjective judgments on the qualities of a narrative. What little we know of Secundus of Trent, moreover, suggests interests and concerns on his part that explain the contours of the episodes on Authari and the import of their allusions to Alexander.
The character of Authari in Paul’s Historia is a deficient one. And this is consistent with the generally negative depiction of Alexander in the Christian literature of Late Antiquity and with the implications of the specific episodes from the life of Alexander used as models for the anecdotes about Authari. Authari does not resemble Alexander as a great conqueror but as an overly ambitious, brazen, and foolhardy adventurer. This is consistent with what little we know about Secundus’s historiola. Unlike other, contemporary sources that praised Authari as a successful general, Paul’s Historia, presumably depending on Secundus, downplays his military accomplishments and, Paul notes with surprise, Secundus remarkably made no mention of Authari’s greatest victory over the Franks in 588. The worst of Alexander, not the best of him, was the model for Authari.
This characterization of Authari was not simply denigration but the basis of a crucial contrast between Agilulf and Authari. Whereas Authari is impudent and reckless in his dealings with Theudelinda, Agilulf is modest and courteous. Whereas Authari cuts a rather disappointing figure as a soldier, Agilulf makes peace with enemies on every side, displaying the virtues not of a bloody conqueror but of a Christian prince. But the most significant contrast between Authari and Agilulf, which lies at the heart of all these others, goes unmentioned by Secundus, as far as we can tell from Paul’s Historia. While Authari forbid Catholic baptism to his Lombard subjects, Agilulf’s son was baptized into the Catholic faith. This contrast cannot have failed to hold the first importance for Secundus, since he himself acted as godfather to Adaloald. This contrast also brings us back to Alexander, because in that rare [End Page 255] instance of a sixth-century Italian author discussing him, Ennodius compares Alexander’s regrettable upbringing in pagan error with that of Theodoric, “a worshipper of the Highest God from the very threshold of life,” a reference to the Gothic king’s Christian baptism.
We should not be surprised to find Secundus criticizing Authari in favor of his patron, Agilulf; nor should we be surprised at the muted tones of this criticism. Secundus does not condemn Authari outright, rather he depicts him according to the mold of the anti-heroic Alexander, the negative exemplar. He can only go so far in denigrating Authari without undermining Agilulf’s position. Authari was Agilulf’s link, through his marriage to Theudelinda, to the ruling dynasty and the legitimate kingship. An open denial of Authari’s fitness to rule, even in retrospect, might have made Agilulf’s position precarious.
I hope that the investigations undertaken here shed some little light, as Paolo Delogu has urged, on “‘Italy in the time of the Lombards,’ instead of ‘the Lombards in Italy.’”140 The interpretations of this paper have implications for some of the current questions about early Lombard Italy in general. Nicholas Everett’s wide-ranging monograph has asked how literate Italy was under the Lombards, navigating the traditional and antithetical notions that Lombard rule represented a nadir in the cultural life of Italy and that the most impressive figures of the Carolingian renaissance came from Italy and found the resources for their scholarship there.141 Our study has indicated that at least one of our sources from the first decades of Lombard rule is best understood on the assumption of a high degree of literacy in the most refined sense being retained in some circles. Writing early in the seventh century, Secundus can gather learned references from a number of sources, and not necessarily Biblical or Patristic ones, and expect his audience to recognize them. He can depend on allusion rather than blunt declaration to convey his point. We may wonder how many readers picked up on the allusions, or how many Secundus would have wanted to, but they are there for some in the audience as well read as the author.
We are also left to wonder about the relations between the rulers and the ruled in Lombard Italy.142 Gregory the Great and Paul the Deacon paint a rather bleak picture of murder, confiscation, and imposition, but there was obviously more to it. Upon investigation, Secundus of Trent takes shape as a presumably native Italian author whose interest was not in who retained possession of the land but who held to the Catholic faith. As a supporter of the Three Chapters he might even have challenged the Pope on this count! He [End Page 256] worked for the Lombard court, but he was no collaborator. He pursued his own agenda of promoting the Catholic faith and picked and chose amongst the Lombard kings whom he would support and whom he would excoriate. And he used the rhetoric of his historiola to pursue this agenda. Sometimes he boldly created an image with rather tenuous links to reality, as when he makes Agilulf a good Catholic and a man of peace (not an aggressive general who made war on the Pope). Sometimes he was sly and crafted damning characterizations that would go unnoticed by much of his audience, and perhaps in this derived the educated subject’s satisfaction from hoodwinking his nation’s overlords, culture’s last consolation to the conquered.
I would like to dedicate this paper to Haijo Jan Westra, my teacher and friend, who would have been born an Italian, if the choice had been his, but has proven the most cultivated of us barbarous septentrional invaders of his would-be people’s country. I am also grateful for the helpful advice of Richard Stoneman, who read a draft of this paper, patient audiences at the University of Saskatchewan and the 49th International Congress of Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, and the anonymous readers for the Journal of Late Antiquity, who each made helpful contributions.
1. Auct. Haun. Extr. 8–9 (MGH, AA 9: 338): Langobardis intra Italiam post ducum principatum rursum rex praeficitur Autharith ann. VI mens. VI, qui Longobardorum vires in Galliis fractas suo ingenio atque prudentia restauravit superatis Francis, qui intra Italiam diffusi populabantur, interfecto duce eorum Ollone apud Tiligonam castrum. Qui etiam amicitia post cum Francis inita coniugem de Baioariis abductam gloriosissimam Theudelindam reginam, quae non regali tantum iure quantum pietatis affectu Longobardorum gentem enutrivit, sibi matrimonio copulavit. The Auctarii Havniensis extrema was written as a continuation of the Chronicle of Prosper of Aquitaine in northern Italy about 625, quite obviously by an author well disposed to the Lombard court; Muhlberger 1984; Balzaretti 1999, 189–91; Hammer 2011, 232 n. 68; Borri 2014, 45–49.
2. Origo Gent. Lang. 6 (MGH, Scr. Rer. Lang. 5): Et iudicaverunt duces Langobardorum annos duodecim; posthaec levaverunt sibi regem nomine Autarine, filio Claffoni; et accepit Autari uxorem Theudelenda, filia Garipald et Walderade de Baiuaria. Et venit cum Theudelenda frater ipsius nomine Gundoald, et ordinavit eum Autari rex ducem in civitatem Astense. Et regnavit Autari annos septem. On the Origo, its date, and the problems it presents, see Pohl 2000b, 18–19; Everett 2003, 87–98.
5. A survey of the Latin works devoted to Alexander to the end of Late Antiquity is offered in Stoneman 1999, 167–86. The principal Greek sources on Alexander are the seventeenth book of the Bibliotheca of Diodorus Siculus (first century bce), Plutarch’s Life of Alexander in his Parallel Lives (second century ce), and Arrian’s Anabasis of Alexander (second century ce).
7. On the basis of a careful philological examination, Steele 1917 arrived at the former date, as well as concluding that Justin was an African. Syme 1988 exhaustively reviews previous scholarship and favors the later date. See also Develin 1994, 1–10. On Justin’s treatment of Alexander, see Braccesi, Coppola, Cresci Marrone, and Franco 1993; Rubincam 2005.
12. On the Alexander Romance in general and specifically its composition, development, and dissemination, see Cary 1956, 9–12; Stoneman 1991, 1–32; Stoneman 2008. The best text, translation, and commentary on the Alexander Romance material is now Stoneman 2007 and 2012, with a third volume presently awaited. On Julius Valerius and his translation, see Cary 1956, 24; Rosellini 1993; Stoneman 1999, 174–77.
18. Accounts of the assassination of Philip are found in Just. Epit. 9.6–7 (ed. Seel, Teubner) and Oros. 3.14.7. Both mention that Pausanias was a youth and a Macedonian nobleman. It is Diodorus Siculus (16.93.3) who informs us that Pausanias was not only the bodyguard of Philip, but also his beloved. A puer might be a slave of any age, but the word’s primary use to mean “boy” is at least suggestive of Philip’s adolescent assassin.
19. Oros. 3.14.10 (ed. Zangemeister, Teubner).
22. Cervani 1986, 101–2, considers this and other apparently positive treatments of Authari to have a basis in Lombard legend, principally because she considers it unlikely that an author like Secundus, writing under Agilulf, would praise his wife’s previous husband.
24. Andersson 1985, 66–68; 1987, 57–69; Bornholdt 2005, 27–29; cf. Koegel 1894–1897, 1: 119, 2: 291; Althoff 1899–1905, 2: 82; Westra 1980, 54. Of the elements of the Brautwerbung pattern identified by Andersson, three seem applicable to the story of Authari: the hero is seeking to make a first marriage, the first suit is unsuccessful and a second is attempted, and the suitor accomplishes his ends by trickery. All of these motifs are vague, the first so much so as to be practically meaningless. The second usually involves two overtures to the same intended bride, not two different ones, but Authari had first proposed a marriage with a Frankish princess (Paul. Diac. Hist. Lang. 3.27) before turning his attention to the Bavarian Theudelinda, and in the case of Authari this second proposal is probably an historical detail. In regard to the third point, it is worth noting that the object of the marriage proposal has already been gained by the time Authari employs trickery, his deceit providing nothing more than a bravura flourish to the arrangement of the marriage. On the bridal quest narrative in general, see Geissler 1955. It is worth noting that Kalinke 1990, 1–10, insists that as it is found in medieval Icelandic literature the Brautwerbung is a form imported from contemporary continental examples and not an indigenous expression, much as we argue that Authari’s bridal quest is the product of literary precedent and not oral tradition.
25. Bornholdt 2005, 28, remarks that Authari’s journey and his disguise are “unmotivated” and explains the insertion of the story as a result of the author’s desire to incorporate a story pattern with all of its elements: “It seems as if the author wanted to include the secret meeting, even though the logic of the narrative did not require it nor the historical facts support it.” I would argue, rather, that the fact that the king’s mission in disguise was unnecessary was something found in the story’s model in the Alexander legends and this unmotivated quality, far from being a hurdle to the inclusion of the story, was central to the message about Authari meant to be conveyed by the story.
26. Al. Rom. 1.35. As a rule, the citation numbers of Julius Valerius correspond with those for the Alexander Romance. That these incidents of Alexander’s masquerading in the Romance are not altogether separated from the historical record is indicated by the fact that Curtius (4.2.15) writes that Alexander’s heralds to the city were sacrilegiously murdered by the Tyrians; see Atkinson 1980, 298–99.
27. Al. Rom. 2.13–15.
28. Al. Rom. 3.3.
29. Al. Rom. 3.18–23. See Wilmanns 1901, 229–44; Ehlert 1989; Szalc 2014. Pfister 1961, 49–50, has suggested that the expedition of explorers sent to Ethiopia by Alexander, whose mission does not appear in any of our central sources but is attested in a number of more peripheral ones, is probably at the root of Alexander’s visit to Meroe in the Alexander Romance; cf. Burstein 1976, 143.
31. Jul. Val. Res Gest. Alex. 3.23 (ed. Rosellini, Teubner): rursusque secreto: ‘utinam, Alexander mi, te quoque velles ad numerum mihi addere filiorum! quis enim dubitet tunc demum fore Candacem orbis universi reginam, si talis quoque mater filii putaretur? ergo iam credo non te plus ferro vel proeliis quam hac tua tam celebri prudentia gentibus praestitisse.
36. Curt. 3.12.15–17; cf. Diod. Sic. 17.37.5–6; Arr. Anab. 2.12.6–8; see Atkinson 1980, 248–55. The report of this incident has been traced back to Ptolemy’s history of Alexander; Kornemann 1935, 114; but see Atkinson 1980, 248, 252.
37. Curt. 10.3.12; Just. Epit. 12.10.9–10 (ed. Seel, Teubner); cf. Diod. Sic. 17.107.6; Plut. Vit. Alex. 70.2; De Alex. fort. 2.6 (Mor. 338D); Arr. Anab. 7.4.4. See Bosworth 1980, 11–12; Carney 1996, 568, 577–9; Carney 2000, 108–12.
38. Paul. Diac. Hist. Lang. 3.32 (MGH, Scr. Rer. Lang. 112).
39. Plin. HN 3.5.71, 3.5.73, and 8.86. Str. 6.1.5 (257), 2.1 (265), 2.3 (268), also mentions this same landmark, although he refers to it as ἡ στυλὶς Ῥηγίνων (“the little column of the Rhegians”), using the diminutive of the word for pillar or column, στῦλος. At 3.5.5 (171) Strabo compares the Pillars of Hercules to the pillar set up by the Rhegians as the sort of landmark raised in olden times, as well as to the altars set up by Alexander at the eastern limit of his expedition. Perhaps the association with Authari owes something to an error of columna regia as “royal pillar” rather than “pillar of Rhegium”; cf. Pompon. 2.61. Rhegium and the Straits of Messina seem to have been imbued with a terminal significance in Late Antiquity. Writing in the first half of the fifth century, Olympiodorus of Thebes relates that Alaric the Goth was prevented from crossing to Sicily at Rhegium by an ancient statue with magical properties that was supposed to hinder both the fires of Aetna and the barbarians crossing by sea; Olymp. fr. 16 (= Phot. Bibl. 80 ); see Blockley 1981–1983, 2: 176–77.
42. Harrison 1998, 246. The evidence Harrison adduces is extremely problematic. His principal passage, Paul. Diac. Hist. Lang. 6.55 on the proclamation of Hildeprand as king, actually speaks of a contus or “staff,” rather than a lance or spear. The Edict of Rothari 224 instructs that a slave being manumitted will be given gaida et gisil, Germanic words for a whip and an arrow, once again, not a lance; see Drew 1973, 96, 248 n.61; Scardigli 1987, 247–57; Everett 2003, 127–28, 177. Harrison’s further two citations from the Hist. Lang. are given incorrectly and I confess that I cannot trace them.
44. Curt. 3.12.18, 8.5.1, 9.2.26, 3.14, 4.17, 9.1, 10.5.36. Cf. Diod. Sic. 17.104.1; Plut. Vit. Alex. 63.1, 66.1; De Alex. fort. 1.10 (Mor. 332A); Arr. Anab. 5.26.1–3.
46. Epitoma 63, 70 (ed. Thomas, Teubner).
48. Al. Rom./Jul. Val. Res. Gest. Alex. 3.27.
49. Liber de morte 107 (ed. Thomas, Teubner).
50. Curt. 10.1.17. Cf. Diod. Sic., 18.4.4; Arr. Anab. 7.1.2 (cf. 4.7.5, 5.26.2); Plut. Vit. Alex. 68.1.
51. Pillars of Hercules: see, for example, Plin. HN 5.1.2. Rhegian Pillar: Plin. HN 3.5.71, 73, 8.86. In Greek different terms are used for “the column of the Rhegians” (ἡ στυλὶς Ῥηγίνων) and the Pillars of Heracles (αἱ Ἡρακλείους στῆλαι) by, for instance, Str. 2.1 (67), 6.1.5 (257), 2.1 (265), 2.3 (268).
53. Just. Epit. 11.5.10 (ed. Seel, Teubner): Cum delati in continentem essent, primus Alexander iaculum velut in hostilem terram iecit armatusque de navi tripudianti similis prosiluit.
57. Jul. Val. Res. Gest. Alex. 1.42 (ed. Rosellini, Teubner). See Stoneman 2007, 561. In the β recension of the Romance, Alexander also drives his spear into the earth on crossing the Hellespont, claiming he held Asia as “spear-won” (δορύκτητον); see Al. Rom. 1.28 (ed. van Thiel 1974, 38).
59. Cases of poisoning must not have been altogether uncommon in early Lombard Italy, since the Edict of Rothari (139–42) makes several provisions concerning them; cf. Laws of Liutprand 118; see Drew 1973, 74, 195–96.
60. Diod. Sic. 17.117.5–118.2; Plut. Vit. Alex. 77.1–3; Arr. Anab. 7.27.1–2. On the report of Alexander being poisoned, see Bosworth 1971; Engels 1978; Visser 1978, 2–9; Bosworth 1988, 171–73; Green 1991, 475–78; Sbarounis 1997; Oldach et al., 1998; Borza and Reames-Zimmerman 2000; Bosworth 2010.
61. Curt. 10.10.14–19.
62. Just. Epit. 12.13.10–14.9 (ed. Seel, Teubner).
63. Oros. 3.20.4.
64. Liber de morte 87–112 (ed. Thomas, Teubner).
65. Al. Rom./Jul. Val. 3.31 (ed. Rosellini, Teubner).
66. Paul. Diac. Hist. Lang. 3.16 (MGH, Scr. Rer. Lang. 100–101).
68. Wolfram 1967, 56–76, cf. 90–107; Delogu 1980, 33; Wickham 1981, 34; Wolfram 1994, 33; Wolfram 1997, 294; Claude 1998, 129. The adoption of this title was one aspect of a broader engagement with Roman culture by the Gothic kings, especially Theodoric, on which, see Vitiello 2005; 2014, esp. 48–52; Arnold 2014.
70. In addition to the references in Paul’s Historia, we have what appears to be a genuine fragment of Secundus’s work, a comprehensive chronological calculation that seems to have served as an epilogue to his work, in which he gives his name and location; see Borri 2014, 55–58 for complete bibliography and details.
71. Paul. Diac. Hist. Lang. 4.40 (MGH, Scr. Rer. Lang. 133).
72. Paul. Diac. Hist. Lang. 3.29 (MGH, Scr. Rer. Lang. 108).
73. Greg. Tur. HF 9.25.
74. Bethmann 1851, 349–51; del Giudice 1889, 32–36; Laistner 1957, 271; Delogu 1980, 24; Goffart 1980, 177; Wickham 1981, 66; Brown 1984, 223; Goffart 1988, 381; Hammer 2014, 241. But see also the partially dissenting opinion of Cervani 1986.
75. Jacobi 1877, 75–77; cf. Bethmann 1851, 346; Foulke 1907, 357–58. Capo 1992, 484, considers the probable source for Hist. Lang. 3.30 to be a tradition circulating in the royal court, and Secundus to be an unlikely source for the same material on account of his noted silence concerning Authari’s victory over the Franks. I do not see what Balzaretti 1999, 198 n. 68, finds convincing about Capo’s latter assertion, but not the former, as they are both based on supposition.
83. Pohl 2002, 140; cf. Wickham 1981, 65; Cervani 1986, 99. Capo 1992, 483, likewise understands Secundus’s silence concerning Authari’s victory as a caution against attributing to Secundus any notices of events that occurred at any distance from Trent, as well as an indication that at this time Secundus was still a stranger to the court.
87. Greg. Ep. 9.148, 14.12 (CCSL 140a: 698–704, 1082–83).
90. The descriptive phrase de Langobardorum gestis occurs in both of Paul’s references to the historical work of Secundus (Hist Lang. 3.29, 4.40 [MGH Scr. Rer. Lang. 108, 133]).
91. See Isid. Etym. 1.41.1, 44.1–4, 5.28. Jacobi 1877, 31 and Mommsen 1880, 83–87 (reprint 1965, 3: 517–32) trace at least Paul’s dependence on Isidore’s Etymologiae particularly for information on Italian place-names; cf. Foulke 1907, 365–66.
92. De viris illustribus, 46 (PL 83: 1106); see MGH, AA 11.221–23. The chronicle ascribed to Maximus edited by Higuera in 1611 and printed in PL 80.617–32 is a forgery.
93. Paul. Diac. Hist. Lang. 1.21 (MGH, Scr. Rer. Lang. 60). Goffart 1980, 177 n. 4, pointed out that Paul describes both his own work and Secundus’s as historiolae in order to suggest that the term was not Secundus’s designation.
98. Prop. 4.4. Sanders 1904, 27–28, and Rohde 1914, 82 n. 3, both trace the story of Romilda to the Propertian form of the Tarpeia story. Krappe 1929, 259–60, and Hetzner 1963, 59–60, also include the story of Romilda amongst the variants of the Tarpeia myth.
99. Livy 1.11.5–9.
102. Paul. Diac. Hist. Lang. 3.29 (MGH, Scr. Rer. Lang. 108). Cervani 1986, 102, tries rather unsatisfactorily to explain Secundus’s silence in regard to Authari’s victory over the Franks as a result of his concentration on the Lombard reges rather than gens.
103. Auct. Haun. Extr. 8 (MGH, AA 9: 338); see above, note 1.
104. Paul. Diac. Hist. Lang. 3.18, 22, 27, 31 (MGH, Scr. Rer. Lang. 101–2, 104, 107–8, 110–12).
108. Paul. Diac. Hist. Lang. 3.16 (MGH, Scr. Rer. Lang. 100–101).
111. Just. Epit. 15.4.12–14 (ed. Seel, Teubner). These territories may, in fact, have been effectively relinquished by Alexander himself, but it is doubtful that this could have been known in Late Antiquity. See Bosworth 1983, 44–45; Holt 1988, 101–2; 1993, 56; 2005, 120.
112. Although Julius Valerius does not say so, the Greek Alexander Romance (3.31.2) maintains that Antipater was motivated to assassinate Alexander not only because he feared punishment for his treatment of Olympias, but also because of Alexander’s increasingly overbearing manner. Although we are concerned here with the indications offered by the literary traditions, irrespective of their historicity, there are certainly signs that as his life drew to a close Alexander slipped into an increasing megalomania; see Hamilton 1953, 156–57.
113. Ven. Fort. Carm., 10.2.12, consoles his addressee by saying that the grief he suffers has bested kings and then asks whether he considers himself superior in their proper virtues to the most famous examples of kings, “stronger than Alexander” (fortior Alexandro) among the clauses; (MGH, AA 4.1: 231). See George 1992, 94–95.
115. On Jordanes’s location, see Goffart 1988, 42–47; Doležal 2014. On his intended audience, see Goffart 1988, 97–111. In the past Jordanes was assumed to have slavishly adhered to the model of the (altogether lost) Gothic history of Cassiodorus, but it has been demonstrated that Jordanes exercised considerable freedom in his adaptation of Cassiodorus’s material; see Goffart 1988, 23–42. Nevertheless, Wolfram 1988, 86, attributes the comparison of Ermanaric and Alexander to Cassiodorus without any defense or explanation. In light of Liebeschuetz’s promising efforts (2011) to resuscitate the notion of Jordanes’s dependence on native Gothic oral material, it might be tempting to take the maiores said to be responsible for the comparison as the repository of Gothic oral tradition, especially if we translate maiores as “elders,” but the circle of native informants who retained a knowledge of the oral history of the Goths and understood it in terms of Graeco–Roman paradigms must have been small indeed. The identification of the maiores not-withstanding, Heather 1989, 114–15, takes the comparison with Alexander as a sure sign that the passage on Ermanaric in the Getica is a literary creation, which he attributes to Cassiodorus (115–16). A reference to Alexander, however, might be less likely to be the work of Cassiodorus, who did not mention Alexander in his extant œuvre, than of Jordanes, whom we know to have discussed Alexander at Rom. 71–72 (MGH, AA 5.1: 8). It seems quite possible that the comparison with Alexander has something to do with how Constantinople preferred to present the figure of Alexander to the barbarian west, since just as Ermanaric in the Getica is said not only to conquer the surrounding peoples but also to impose laws on them, so in the Excerpta Latina Barbari, a text whose original seems to have been prepared in Constantinople for consumption amongst the Franks, Alexander appears as a legislator as well as a conqueror; see Excerpta Latina Barbari 1.6.6, 8.4 (ed. Garstad 2012: 195, 215–17); see Garstad 2011, 25–33.
116. Ennod. Pan. 17.78–80 (ed. Rohr 1995, 252–54). See Wedeck 1965, 11–12; Portmann 1988, 218; Haase 1991, 37; Kennell 2000, 208; Rota 2002, 220–21, 406–9. The contrast with Alexander recurs in Ennodius’s life of Saint Epiphanius, in which Ennodius briefly asserts that the bishop was responsible for ransoming and restoring such a train of prisoners as Alexander, the reputed conqueror of the world, never led into captivity (V. Epiph. 176); see Cook 1942, 27, 103.
117. The military victories of Theodoric are frequently mentioned in the Panegyric: 2.9, 3.12, 5.19–22, 7.29.31–35, 8.38–47, 10.49.53–55, 12.67–69.
118. On the relationship of Secundus to the court of Agilulf and Theudelinda, see Bethmann 1851, 349–51; Bognetti 1966, 272–73; Bognetti 1967, 163–69; Delogu 1980, 40; Goffart 1980, 177; Wickham 1981, 33–34, 65; Capo 1992, 504; Pohl 2000b, 18, 23–24; Everett 2003, 84–86; Pohl 2004a, 37–39; Bonalumi 2006, 130–32, 148–50, 158, 168–70, 175; Geary 2006, 22–23; Pohl 2007, 246–51; Hammer 2014, 241.
119. Paul. Diac. Hist. Lang. 4.27 (MGH, Scr. Rer. Lang. 125).
122. Greg. Ep. 1.17 (CCSL 140: 16–17). Delogu 1980, 32, 49; Wickham 1981, 35; Christie 1995, 185, 188; Pohl 2002, 134; Jarnut 2003, 420. Fanning 1981, 252–54, suggests that Authari’s prohibition might have been primarily intended to prevent Lombard assimilation (which seems inconsistent with such a gesture as his adoption of the title Flavius) and proposes that, on the whole, the evidence indicates that the Lombards were largely heathen, rather than Arian as is usually maintained, before their conversion to orthodox Christianity, with a few isolated examples of Lombard Arianism. Cf. Harrison 1993, 205 as an example of the traditional view being retained. Pohl 2000a, 54–55, sees Authari’s position as pro-Arian and part of an overall policy to co-opt the ecclesiastical and administrative services of the Arian clergy of Italy who had been disenfranchised since the Byzantine conquest; cf. Scardigli 1987, 193–96. Richards 1980, 191, supposes, without any warrant to be found in the evidence, that “Autharis had seen Catholicism as an instrument of the Empire, sapping the warrior vitality of his people, and he had forbidden the sons of Lombards to be baptized according to the Catholic rite,” a view that is repeated by Christie 1995, 185.
126. Greg. Ep. 1.17 (CCSL 140: 16–17).
127. Greg. Ep. 14.12 (CCSL 140a: 1082–83).
128. Paul. Diac. Hist. Lang. 4.6 (MGH, Scr. Rer. Lang.118).
129. Paul. Diac. Hist. Lang. 3.30 (MGH, Scr. Rer. Lang.109–10). Capo 1992, 485, insists that this story, which presents an essentially pagan Agilulf consulting a soothsayer, is unlikely to have come from Secundus, who promoted Christianity amongst the Lombards and especially the royal family. But if Secundus is ultimately responsible for the statement that Agilulf converted to the Catholic faith at Theudelinda’s urging (Hist. Lang. 4.6 [MGH, Scr. Rer. Lang. 118]), we should not be at all surprised to see Secundus indicating from what Agilulf converted (this scene, of course, precedes their marriage and the exercise of Theudelinda’s influence on Agilulf), not least in order to emphasize the pious accomplishment of Theudelinda.
130. Paul. Diac. Hist. Lang. 3.35 (MGH, Scr. Rer. Lang. 113–14). Enright 1988, 192–93, 199–200, and 1996, 25, 32–33, 87–90, again understands this episode in terms of a Germanic queen enacting her influence at court through the ritual distribution of liquor. Pizarro 1989, 109–11, 138–41, offers a careful analysis of the significant gestures in these scenes. Despite her reservations about the attribution of the story of Agilulf and the soothsayer (Hist. Lang. 3.30 [MGH, Scr. Rer. Lang. 109–10]) to Secundus, Capo 1992, 490, is willing to assign this account to either a court tradition or perhaps Secundus.
131. Schneider 1972, 31 and Enright 1988, 199, and 1996, 32, remark on the surprisingly and improbably passive role adopted by Agilulf in this exchange. This depiction of Agilulf is a sure sign that the scene is largely contrived, but contrived with a purpose.
132. Paul. Diac. Hist. Lang. 4.4, 8, 12, 24, 30, 32, 35 (MGH, Scr. Rer. Lang. 117, 118–19, 121, 125, 127, 128).
133. Paul. Diac. Hist. Lang. 4.8 (MGH, Scr. Rer. Lang. 118–19).
135. Paul. Diac. Hist. Lang. 3.16 (MGH, Scr. Rer. Lang. 100–101). See Schneider 1972, 25–27; Delogu 1980, 25; Fröhlich 1980, 1: 89–93; Wickham 1981, 32; Capo 1992, 471–72; Jarnut 2003, 415. The subtleties of the Lombard political organization and their bearing on this event in particular are examined in Dick, 2005.
138. On the validity in Germanic custom of a widow’s right to select her late husband’s successor, as in the case of Theudelinda, see Grierson 1941, 9; Schneider 1972, 246–48; Enright 1988; 1996; Barnwell 1997, 105–8; Joye 2012, 191–93. Theudelinda’s mother, the widow of the Frankish king Theodebald, had likewise helped her second husband, Theudelinda’s father, Garibald, rise in the world, see Greg. Tur. HF 4.9; Hammer 2011, 231. According to Fredegar 4.51, Theudelinda’s daughter is supposed to have married Arioald, who usurped her brother’s throne and after his death forced one of the Lombard dukes to abandon his wife and marry her, cf. Enright 1988, 193; 1996, 25–30. On the marriage of Agilulf and Theudelinda, see Schneider 1972, 29–32; Fröhlich 1980, 1: 104–7; Capo 1992, 490–91. On Theudelinda’s role in Lombard Italy, see Delogu 1980, 34–36; Balzaretti 1999; Moorhead 2005, 5–6; Trout 2005, 132–33; Bonalumi 2006; Hammer 2014.