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INVASION OF THE GOTHS
DURING the reign of Decius, a new and terrible race of
barbarians, called Goths, came sweeping down from the
north. They were tall and fierce, and traveled with
their wives and children, their flocks, and all they
The Goths were divided into several large tribes: the
Ostrogoths, or East Goths, the Visigoths, or West
Goths, and the Gepidæ, or Laggards, so called
because this tribe followed the others. All these
barbarians spoke a rude Teutonic dialect, like the one
from which the present German
 language has grown; and among the gods whom they
worshiped was Odin.
The Goths met the Romans in several battles, and
spreading always farther, ruined many towns, among
others, Philippopolis, in Thrace, a city which had
been founded by the father of Alexander the Great.
Here they killed more than one hundred thousand people.
Decius marched against the Goths, hoping to punish them
for this massacre; but he fell into an ambush, where he
was killed with his son. His successor, Gallus, made
a dishonorable peace with the barbarians, and allowed
them to settle on the other side of the Danube.
Gallus and his general Æmilian, who succeeded him,
were both slain by their own troops; and the next
emperor was Valerian, who was the choice of the
Roman legions in Rætia. This last named prince was
both brave and virtuous. He arrived in Rome to find
both Gallus and Aemilian dead, and took possession of
the throne without dispute.
Although already a very old man, Valerian directed his
son Gallienus to attend to the wars in Europe, while
he went off to Asia to fight Sapor, King of Persia.
This monarch had overrun much Roman territory, and had
surprised the city of Antioch while the inhabitants
were at the theater.
Valerian recovered Antioch from the enemy, but was
finally defeated and taken prisoner. We are told that
he was treated very harshly by Sapor, who used the
emperor's neck as a mounting block whenever he wanted
to get on his horse.
Some writers of history say that when Valerian died,
 Persian king had him flayed. His skin was then dyed
red, stuffed, and hung up in a temple, where Sapor
insolently pointed it out to the Roman ambassadors,
saying, "Behold your emperor!"