The Enigma of the Tomb of Alaric, King of the Visigoths
Legends tell that Alaric, King of the Visigoths, who sacked Rome in the fifth century AD, was buried along with his horse and a vast amount of treasure, in the bed of the Busento River in the Cosenza province of southern Italy. But have the archaeologists and treasure hunters been searching in the wrong place?
King Alaric. Illustration from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493)( Public Domain )
Alaric, Rise of the King and Break with the Romans
Alaric, whose name means 'King of all', was born in 370 AD in Peuce, along the banks of the Danube, in present-day Romania. He is a descendant of the noble Balti family, one of the various tribes of matrix Celtic spread over time in a vast geographical area, from Scandinavia to Ukraine. At the age of 22, he was crowned king of the Visigoths, succeeding Frigiterno.
In 394 AD, as a federate ally of the Roman Emperor Theodosius, head of the Eastern Roman Empire, Alaric led a Gothic force and participated in war campaigns against the usurper Eugene. However, disappointed by the lack of gratification on the part of the emperor himself - who had promised to name him Magister militum (Master of Soldiers) - he broke from the Roman army and ventured into a war against Constantinople, first invading present-day Greece at Boeotia and Attica, then conquering and plundering Megara, Corinth and Sparta. Only Athens, paid the " mercede" request.
Alaric entering Athens, illustration, (circa 1920s) ( Public Domain)
In 401 AD Alaric decided to head towards Italy but, after having conquered Asti and Pavia, he was repeatedly defeated by Stilicho in Pollenza and in 402 AD at the Battle of Verona. Defeated he was forced to retire for a while. In 408, the Western Emperor Honorius (son of Theodosius) had Stilicho and his family executed for he believed Stilicho had made a pact with Alaric, with whom he had become friends, in the meantime. Honorius also executed tens of thousands of wives and children of Goths serving as federates of the Roman army, which led to these soldiers defecting to Alaric, swelling his force to 30,000 men. They set their target on Rome to avenge their families.
The Favorites of the Emperor Honorius , John William Waterhouse , 1883 ( Public Domain )
The Siege and Sacking of Rome
Alaric laid siege to Rome, but as is usually the case, in exchange for 5,000 pounds(2,269 kilograms) of gold and 30,000 pounds (13,607 kilograms) of silver, precious goods and spices - some stripped from the sacred temples - Alaric diverted his attention to the Urbs
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Dr Roberto Volterri is the author of 40 books including Archeologia Dell’Impossible
Top Image : Sack of Rome by Alaric - sacred vessels are brought to a church for safety in Augustine, La Cité de Dieu (circa 1475) ( Public Domain )