Although ambassadors were dispatched to treat of peace, the enemies of Alaric at the court of the emperor sedulously guarded against the conclusion of any treaty with him. But after this, when an embassy had been sent to him by Innocent, bishop of Rome, and Alaric was summoned by a letter of the emperor, he repaired to the city of Ariminum, which is two hundred and ten stadia distant from Ravenna.
He encamped beyond the walls of the city; and Jovius, the prefect of Italy, held a conference with him and conveyed his demands to the emperor, one of which was, that he might be appointed by an edict to the generalship of the cavalry and infantry. The emperor gave full power to Jovius to grant Alaric as much money and provision as he might desire, but refused ever to confer this dignity upon him. Jovius unadvisedly awaited the messenger from the palace, in the camp of Alaric; and commanded the decision of the emperor to be read in the presence of all the barbarians. On finding that the dignity was denied him, Alaric was enraged at the result, ordered the trumpets to be sounded, and marched towards Rome. Jovius, apprehensive of being suspected by the emperor of siding with Alaric, committed a still greater act of imprudence by taking an oath on the safety of the emperor, and compelling the principal officers to swear that they would never consent to any terms of peace with Alaric. The barbarian chief, however, soon after changed his mind, and sent word he did not desire any post of dignity, but was willing to act as an ally of the Romans, provided that they would grant him a certain quantity of corn, and some territory of secondary importance to them, in which he might establish himself.