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On this page: N As Pc a – Nasamon – Nascio – Nasennius – Nasfca – Nasidienus



the wealth and oriental luxuries with which he surrounded himself in his palace at Ravenna ex­cited the indignation of the Romans. During the life of Justinian, however, they did not complain, knowing that every attempt to shake Justinian's confidence in his great minister would have been in vain ; but no sooner was he dead than a depu­tation of Romans waited upon his successor, ex­posing the extortions of Narses, and declaring that they would prefer the rude yet frank despotism of the Goths to the system of craft and avarice carried on by their present governor. Their complaints were not only listened to with attention, but were taken up by Justin as a pretext for getting rid of a man who was not his creature, and Narses was consequently dismissed, and Longinus appointed in his stead. He might have borne his disgrace with magnanimity but for the insulting message of the empress Sophia, who bade him leave the profession of arms to men, and resume his former occupations among the eunuchs, and spin wool with the maidens of the palace. Stung to the quick by this woman-like yet ungenerous taunt, Narses an­swered that " he would spin her such a thread as she would not unravel during her life." (" Narses dicitur haec responsa dedisse: Talem se eidem telam orditurum qualem ipsa, dum viveret, depo-nere non posset," Paul. Diacon. de Gest. Long. ii. 6.) Narses retired quietly from office and took up his residence at Naples, An opportunity for gra­tifying his revenge was at hand. The Longobards were meditating an invasion of Italy, a scheme of which Justin was well aware when he dismissed Narses, who was, however, the only man able to prevent such a calamity. " Full of rage," says Paulus Diaconus (7. c.), " Narses sent messengers to the Longobards, and invited them to leave the poor fields of Pannonia and take possession of rich Italy. At the same time he sent them all kinds of fruits and other products of Italy, in order to make them greedy and hasten their arrival." King Alboin accordingly descended from the Alps into Italy. No sooner, however, was Narses in­formed of it, than he repaired to Rome, and tried to soothe the emperor by a submissive letter. The invasion of Italy, however, of which he could not but accuse himself as the cause, preyed upon his mind, and he died of grief (568). All this appears strange ; his conduct seems unaccountable ; and weighty doubts have been raised by competent his­torians against the authenticity of the tale. But severe critics, Pagi, Muratori, Horatius Blancus, Petavius, &c., as well as the more modern Le Beau and Gibbon, are of opinion that there is no ground for disbelieving it. One might ask, why the em­peror did not immediately resent his treachery ? and how Narses, after playing such a dangerous game, could venture to repair to Rome, instead of joining the Longobards ? The fact of the Romans being disaffected to Justin and devotedly attached to Narses does not explain the mystery. The fol­lowing hypothesis might perhaps throw some light on the matter. The ambition of Narses was not only unlimited, but it was coupled with that irri­table and resentful temper which is peculiar to wo­men and eunuchs. His deposition was sufficient to rouse the former, and the bitter taunt of the empress Sophia could not but provoke the latter. He thus invited the Longobards, not in order that they might conquer Italy, but to compel Justin to put him once more at the head of the army, since


he was the only man who could check the barba­rians ; and had death not prevented him he would certainly have triumphed over his enemies, and taken ample revenge for the insults he had suffered. Such stratagems have often been invented by ad­venturers aspiring to power, as well as by men high in office, aiming at still greater power. It is said that Narses attained the age of ninety-five. Gibbon doubts it, and perhaps not without reason. " Is it probable," says he, " that all his exploits were performed at fourscore ? " It is certainly not probable ; but when Blucher performed his great exploits he was past seventy, and he was as fresh in the field as a young man.

Narses was one of those rare men who are des­ tined by Providence to rise above all others, and, according to circumstances or the particular shape of their genius, to become either the benefactors or the scourges of mankind. Of low and perhaps barbarian parentage, slave, eunuch, with the body of a boy and the voice of a woman, he made him­ self equal to the greatest, and was inferior to none, for his soul was that of a hero ; his mind, bold and inflexible in its resolutions, was yet of that elastic kind that adapts itself to circumstances; and through the labyrinth of schemes arid intrigues his talents guided him with the same security that leads the plain warrior on the broad way of heroic action. .Equal to Belisarius as a general, he was his superior as a statesman ; but his virtues were less pure than those of the unfortunate hero ; and in a moral point of view he stands far below his rival. (Procop. Bell. Goth. ii. 13, &c., iii. iv. ; Paul. Diacon. de Gest. Long. ii. 1—5 ; Marcellin. Chron.; Agathias, lib. i. ii. ; Zonar. vol. ii. p. 68, £c. ; Cedren. p. 387 ; Malela, p. 83 ; Theoph. p. 201—206 (the index confounds the great Narses with Narses the general of Maurice and Tiberius); Evagrius, iv. 24 ; Anastasius, Histor. p. 62, &c. ; Vita Joan. iii. p. 43 ; Agnellus, Liber Pon- tific.) [W. P.]

NASAMON (Nao-a^wz/), a son of Amphithemis and Tritonis, the ancestral hero of the Nasamones in the north of Africa, who are said to have derived their name from him. (Apollon. Rhod. iv. 1496.) ^ ^ [L. S.]

NASCIO, a Roman divinity, presiding over the birth of children, and accordingly a goddess assist­ ing Lucina in her functions, and analogous to the Greek Eileithyiae, She had a sanctuary in the neighbourhood of Ardea. (Cic. de Nat* Deor. iii. 18.) [L.S.]

NASENNIUS, C., served as a centurion in Crete, under Metellus Creticus, and, after the assas­sination of Julius Caesar, united himself to Cicero, who gave him a letter of introduction to Brutus. (Cic. ad Brut. i. 8.)

N AS PC A, an agnomen in the family of the Scipios. [SciPio.]

NASFCA, CAE'SIUS, commanded a Roman legion under Didius Gallus in Britain. (Tac. Ann. xii. 40.) [gallus,]

NASIDIENUS, a wealthy (leatus) Roman, who gave a supper to Maecenas, which Horace ridicules so unmercifully in the eighth satire of his second book. It appears from v. 58, that Rufus was the cognomen of Nasidienus, The scholiasts tell us that Nasidienus was a Roman eques ; but it is probable that the name is fictitious, as it is not very likely that Horace would have satirised in this way a man who was honoured by Maecenas

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