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Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 5 [1776]

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Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. J.B. Bury with an Introduction by W.E.H. Lecky (New York: Fred de Fau and Co., 1906), in 12 vols. Vol. 5.

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About this Title:

The fifth volume of a 12 volume set of Gibbon’s magesterial history of the end of the Roman Empire, one of the greatest works of history written during the Enlightenment.

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The text is in the public domain.

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This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.

Table of Contents:

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vol. v
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A Roman Gladiator. From a drawing by Jan Styka.
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new york



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Copyright, 1907,


Norwood Press

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  • List of Illustrations . . . . . . . . . page xi
  • CHAPTER XXVII Death of Gratian — Ruin of Arianism — St. Ambrose — First Civil War, against Maximus — Character, Administration, and Penance of Theodosius — Death of Valentinian II. — Second Civil War, against Eugenius — Death of Theodosius.
    • 379-383 Character and Conduct of the Emperor Gratian . . 1
    • His Defects . . . . . . . . . . 2
    • 383 Discontent of the Roman Troops . . . . . . 4
    • Revolt of Maximus in Britain . . . . . . . 5
    • 383 Flight and Death of Gratian . . . . . . . 6
    • 383-387 Treaty of Peace between Maximus and Theodosius . . 8
    • 380 Baptism and orthodox Edicts of Theodosius . . . . 10
    • 340-380 Arianism of Constantinople . . . . . . 13
    • 378 Gregory Nazianzen accepts the Mission of Constantinople . 16
    • 380 Ruin of Arianism at Constantinople . . . . . . 18
    • 381 Ruin of Arianism in the East . . . . . . . 19
    • The Council of Constantinople . . . . . . . 20
    • Retreat of Gregory Nazianzen . . . . . . . 23
    • 380-394 Edicts of Theodosius against the Heretics . . . . 24
    • 385 Execution of Priscillian and his Associates . . . . 26
    • 375-397 Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan . . . . . . 30
    • 385 His successful Opposition to the Empress Justina . . . 31
    • 387 Maximus invades Italy . . . . . . . . 37
    • Flight of Valentinian . . . . . . . . 38
    • Theodosius takes Arms in the Cause of Valentinian . . . 39
    • 388 Defeat and Death of Maximus . . . . . . . 41
    • Virtues of Theodosius . . . . . . . . 43
    • Faults of Theodosius . . . . . . . . 45
    • 387 The Sedition of Antioch . . . . . . . . 46
    • Clemency of Theodosius . . . . . . . . 49
    • 390 Sedition and Massacre of Thessalonica . . . . . 50
    • 388 Influence and Conduct of Ambrose . . . . . . 52
    • 390 Penance of Theodosius . . . . . . . . 54
    • 388-391 Generosity of Theodosius . . . . . . . 56
    • 391 Character of Valentinian . . . . . . . . 58
    • 392 His Death . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Edition: current; Page: [vi]
    • 392-394 Usurpation of Eugenius . . . . . . . 61
    • Theodosius prepares for War . . . . . . . 62
    • 394 His Victory over Eugenius . . . . . . . 63
    • 395 Death of Theodosius . . . . . . . . 67
    • Corruption of the Times . . . . . . . . 68
    • The Infantry lay aside their Armour . . . . . 69
  • CHAPTER XXVIII Final Destruction of Paganism — Introduction of the Worship of Saints, and Relics, among the Christians
    • 378-395 The Destruction of the Pagan Religion . . . . 71
    • State of Paganism at Rome . . . . . . . 72
    • 384 Petition of the Senate for the Altar of Victory . . . . 75
    • 388 Conversion of Rome . . . . . . . . . 77
    • 381 Destruction of the Temples in the Provinces . . . . 80
    • The Temple of Serapis at Alexandria . . . . . 84
    • 389 Its final Destruction . . . . . . . . . 86
    • 390 The Pagan Religion is prohibited . . . . . . 90
    • Oppressed . . . . . . . . . . . 92
    • 390-420 Finally extinguished . . . . . . . . 94
    • The Worship of the Christian Martyrs . . . . . 96
    • General Reflections . . . . . . . . . 99
      • I. Fabulous Martyrs and Relics . . . . . . 99
      • II. Miracles . . . . . . . . . . 100
      • III. Revival of Polytheism . . . . . . . 102
      • IV. Introduction of Pagan Ceremonies . . . . . 104
  • CHAPTER XXIX Final Division of the Roman Empire between the Sons of Theodosius — Reign of Arcadius and Honorius — Administration of Rufinus and Stilicho — Revolt and Defeat of Gildo in Africa
    • 395 Division of the Empire between Arcadius and Honorius . . 107
    • 386-395 Character and Administration of Rufinus . . . . 108
    • 395 He oppresses the East . . . . . . . . 112
    • He is disappointed by the Marriage of Arcadius . . . 115
    • Character of Stilicho, the Minister, and General of the Western Empire . . . . . . . . . . 117
    • 385-408 His Military Command . . . . . . . 119
    • 395 The Fall and Death of Rufinus . . . . . . 121
    • 376 Discord of the two Empires . . . . . . . 124
    • 386-398 Revolt of Gildo in Africa . . . . . . . 126
    • 397 He is condemned by the Roman Senate . . . . . 128
    • 398 The African War . . . . . . . . . 129
    • 398 Defeat and Death of Gildo . . . . . . . 132
    • 398 Marriage and Character of Honorius . . . . . 134
    Edition: current; Page: [vii]
  • CHAPTER XXX Revolt of the Goths — They plunder Greece — Two great Invasions of Italy by Alaric and Radagaisus — They are repulsed by Stilicho — The Germans over-run Gaul — Usurpation of Constantine in the West — Disgrace and Death of Stilicho
    • 395 Revolt of the Goths . . . . . . . . . 137
    • 396 [395] Alaric marches into Greece . . . . . . 139
    • 397 [396] He is attacked by Stilicho . . . . . . . 143
    • Escapes to Epirus . . . . . . . . . 144
    • 398 Alaric is declared Master-general of the Eastern Illyricum . 145
    • Is proclaimed King of the Visigoths . . . . . . 147
    • 400-403 He invades Italy . . . . . . . . 148
    • 403 Honorius flies from Milan . . . . . . . . 150
    • He is pursued and besieged by the Goths . . . . . 152
    • 403 [402] Battle of Pollentia . . . . . . . . 154
    • Boldness and Retreat of Alaric . . . . . . . 156
    • 404 The triumph of Honorius at Rome . . . . . . 159
    • The Gladiators abolished . . . . . . . . 160
    • Honorius fixes his Residence at Ravenna . . . . . 161
    • 400 The Revolutions of Scythia . . . . . . . 163
    • 405 Emigration of the northern Germans . . . . . 165
    • 406 [405] Radagaisus invades Italy . . . . . . . 167
    • Radagaisus besieges Florence . . . . . . 168
    • Radagaisus threatens Rome . . . . . . 169
    • 406 Defeat and Destruction of his Army by Stilicho . . . 169
    • The Remainder of the Germans invade Gaul . . . . 172
    • 407 Desolation of Gaul . . . . . . . . . 175
    • Revolt of the British Army . . . . . . . 177
    • Constantine is acknowledged in Britain and Gaul . . . 178
    • 408 He reduces Spain . . . . . . . . . 180
    • 404-408 Negotiation of Alaric and Stilicho . . . . . 182
    • 408 Debates of the Roman Senate . . . . . . . 183
    • Intrigues of the Palace . . . . . . . . 185
    • 408 Disgrace and Death of Stilicho . . . . . . . 187
    • 408 His Memory persecuted . . . . . . . . 189
    • The Poet Claudian among the Train of Stilicho’s Dependents 191
  • CHAPTER XXXI Invasion of Italy by Alaric — Manners of the Roman Senate and People — Rome is thrice besieged, and at length pillaged by the Goths — Death of Alaric — The Goths evacuate Italy — Fall of Constantine — Gaul and Spain are occupied by the Barbarians — Independence of Britain
    • 408 Weakness of the Court of Ravenna . . . . . . 195
    • Alaric marches to Rome . . . . . . . . 197
    • Hannibal at the Gates of Rome . . . . . . 199
    • Genealogy of the Senators . . . . . . . 200
    • The Anician Family . . . . . . . . 202
    • Wealth of the Roman Nobles . . . . . . . 204
    • Their Manners . . . . . . . . . . 206
    • Character of the Roman Nobles, by Ammianus Marcellinus . 208 Edition: current; Page: [viii]
    • State and Character of the people of Rome . . . . 216
    • Public Distribution of Bread, Bacon, Oil, Wine, &c. . . 218
    • Use of the public Baths . . . . . . . . 219
    • Games and Spectacles . . . . . . . . 220
    • Populousness of Rome . . . . . . . . 222
    • 408 First Siege of Rome by the Goths . . . . . . 225
    • Famine . . . . . . . . . . . 226
    • Plague . . . . . . . . . . . 227
    • Superstition . . . . . . . . . . 227
    • 409 Alaric accepts a Ransom, and raises the Siege . . . . 228
    • Fruitless Negotiations for Peace . . . . . . 231
    • Change and Succession of Ministers . . . . . . 232
    • 409 Second Siege of Rome by the Goths . . . . . . 235
    • Attalus is created Emperor by the Goths and Romans . . 237
    • 410 He is degraded by Alaric . . . . . . . 239
    • Third Siege and Sack of Rome by the Goths . . . . 241
    • 410 Respect of the Goths for the Christian Religion . . . 242
    • Pillage and Fire of Rome . . . . . . . . 243
    • Captives and Fugitives . . . . . . . . 248
    • Sack of Rome by the Troops of Charles V . . . . . 250
    • Alaric evacuates Rome, and ravages Italy . . . . . 252
    • 408-412 Possession of Italy by the Goths . . . . . 254
    • 410 Death of Alaric . . . . . . . . . 255
    • 412 Adolphus, King of the Goths, concludes a Peace with the Empire, and marches into Gaul . . . . . 256
    • 414 His Marriage with Placidia . . . . . . . 258
    • The Gothic Treasures . . . . . . . . 260
    • 410-417 Laws for the Relief of Italy and Rome . . . . 262
    • 413 Revolt and Defeat of Heraclian, Count of Africa . . . 263
    • 409-413 Revolutions of Gaul and Spain . . . . . . 265
    • Character and Victories of the General Constantius . . . 267
    • 411 Death of the Usurper Constantine . . . . . . 268
    • 411-416 Fall of the Usurpers, Jovinus, Sebastian, and Attalus . 269
    • 409 Invasion of Spain by the Suevi, Vandals, Alani, &c. . . 271
    • 414 Adolphus, King of the Goths, marches into Spain . . . 274
    • 415 His Death . . . . . . . . . . 274
    • 415-418 The Goths conquer and restore Spain . . . . 275
    • 419 Their Establishment in Aquitain . . . . . . 277
    • The Burgundians . . . . . . . . . 278
    • 420, &c. State of the Barbarians in Gaul . . . . . 279
    • 409 Revolt of Britain and Armorica . . . . . . 280
    • 409-449 State of Britain . . . . . . . . . 282
    • 418 Assembly of the Seven Provinces of Gaul . . . . . 286
  • CHAPTER XXXII Arcadius Emperor of the East — Administration and Disgrace of Eutropius — Revolt of Gainas — Persecution of St. John Chrysostom — Theodosius II. Emperor of the East — His Sister Pulcheria — His Wife Eudocia — The Persian War, and Division of Armenia
    • 395-1453 The Empire of the East . . . . . . . 288
    • 395-408 Reign of Arcadius . . . . . . . . 288
    • 395-399 Administration and Character of Eutropius . . . 290 Edition: current; Page: [ix]
    • His Venality and Injustice . . . . . . . 293
    • Ruin of Abundantius . . . . . . . . 294
    • Destruction of Timasius . . . . . . . 295
    • 397 A cruel and unjust Law of Treason . . . . . . 297
    • 399 Rebellion of Tribigild . . . . . . . . 299
    • Fall of Eutropius . . . . . . . . . 302
    • 400 Conspiracy and Fall of Gainas . . . . . . . 304
    • 398 Election and Merit of St. John Chrysostom . . . . 308
    • 398-403 His Administration and Defects . . . . . . 310
    • 403 Chrysostom is persecuted by the Empress Eudoxia . . . 313
    • Popular Tumults at Constantinople . . . . . . 314
    • 404 Exile of Chrysostom . . . . . . . . 315
    • 407 His Death . . . . . . . . . . . 317
    • 438 His Relics transported to Constantinople . . . . . 317
    • 408 Death of Arcadius . . . . . . . . . 318
    • His supposed Testament . . . . . . . . 319
    • 408-415 Administration of Anthemius . . . . . . 320
    • 414-453 Character and Administration of Pulcheria . . . 321
    • Education and Character of Theodosius the Younger . . 324
    • 421-460 Character and Adventures of the Empress Eudocia . . 326
    • 422 The Persian War . . . . . . . . . 329
    • 431-440 Armenia divided between the Persians and the Romans . 331
  • CHAPTER XXXIII Death of Honorius — Valentinian III. Emperor of the West — Administration of his Mother Placidia — Aetius and Boniface — Conquest of Africa by the Vandals
    • 423 Last Years and Death of Honorius . . . . . . 335
    • 423-425 Elevation and Fall of the Usurper John . . . . 337
    • 425-455 Valentinian III. Emperor of the West . . . . 338
    • 425-450 Administration of his Mother Placidia . . . . 340
    • Her two Generals, Aetius and Boniface . . . . . 340
    • 427 Error and Revolt of Boniface in Africa . . . . . 342
    • 428 He invites the Vandals . . . . . . . . 343
    • Genseric King of the Vandals . . . . . . . 344
    • 429 He lands in Africa . . . . . . . . . 344
    • Reviews his Army . . . . . . . . . 345
    • The Moors . . . . . . . . . . 346
    • The Donatists . . . . . . . . . . 346
    • 430 Tardy Repentance of Boniface . . . . . . . 348
    • Desolation of Africa . . . . . . . . . 349
    • 430 Siege of Hippo . . . . . . . . . . 350
    • 430 Death of St. Augustin . . . . . . . . 351
    • 431 Defeat and Retreat of Boniface . . . . . . 352
    • 432 His Death . . . . . . . . . . . 353
    • 431-439 Progress of the Vandals in Africa . . . . . 354
    • 439 They surprise Carthage . . . . . . . . 355
    • African Exiles and Captives . . . . . . . 357
    • Fable of the Seven Sleepers . . . . . . . 358
  • Appendix . . . . . . . . . . . . 363
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  • A Roman Gladiator . . . . . . Frontispiece
    • From a drawing by Jan Styka.
  • Obelisk of Theodosius . . . . . . . . page 56
    • From a photograph.
  • The Favourites of Honorius . . . . . . 134
    • From a painting by J. W. Waterhouse, R.A.
  • Armour of Gladiators . . . . . . . 160
    • Found at Ercolano, and now in the National Museum, Naples.
  • The Pillage and Fire of Rome . . . . . . 244
    • From a drawing by Jan Styka.
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Death of Gratian — Ruin of Arianism — St. Ambrose — First Civil War, against Maximus — Character, Administration, and Penance of Theodosius — Death of Valentinian II. — Second Civil War, against Eugenius — Death of Theodosius

The fame of Gratian, before he had accomplished the twentieth year of his age, was equal to that of the most celebrated princes. His gentle and amiable disposition endeared him to his private friends, the graceful affability of his manners engaged the affection of the people: the men of letters, who enjoyed the liberality, acknowledged the taste and eloquence, of their sovereign; his valour and dexterity in arms were equally applauded by the soldiers; and the clergy considered the humble piety of Gratian as the first and most useful of his virtues. The victory of Colmar had delivered the West from a formidable invasion; and the grateful provinces of the East ascribed the merits of Theodosius to the author of his greatness and of the public safety. Gratian survived those memorable events only four or five years; but he survived his reputation; and, before he fell a victim to rebellion, he had lost, in a great measure, the respect and confidence of the Roman world.

The remarkable alteration of his character or conduct may not be imputed to the arts of flattery which had besieged the Edition: current; Page: [2] son of Valentinian from his infancy; nor to the headstrong passions which that gentle youth appears to have escaped. A more attentive view of the life of Gratian may perhaps suggest the true cause of the disappointment of the public hopes. His apparent virtues, instead of being the hardy productions of experience and adversity, were the premature and artificial fruits of a royal education. The anxious tenderness of his father was continually employed to bestow on him those advantages which he might perhaps esteem the more highly, as he himself had been deprived of them; and the most skilful masters of every science and of every art had laboured to form the mind and body of the young prince.1 The knowledge which they painfully communicated was displayed with ostentation and celebrated with lavish praise. His soft and tractable disposition received the fair impression of their judicious precepts, and the absence of passion might easily be mistaken for the strength of reason. His preceptors gradually rose to the rank and consequence of ministers of state;2 and, as they wisely dissembled their secret authority, he seemed to act with firmness, with propriety and with judgment, on the most important occasions of his life and reign. But the influence of this elaborate instruction did not penetrate beyond the surface; and the skilful preceptors, who so accurately guided the steps of their royal pupil, could not infuse into his feeble and indolent character the vigorous Edition: current; Page: [3] and independent principle of action which renders the laborious pursuit of glory essentially necessary to the happiness, and almost to the existence, of the hero. As soon as time and accident had removed those faithful counsellors from the throne, the emperor of the West insensibly descended to the level of his natural genius; abandoned the reins of government to the ambitious hands which were stretched forwards to grasp them; and amused his leisure with the most frivolous gratifications. A public sale of favour and injustice was instituted, both in the court and in the provinces, by the worthless delegates of his power, whose merit it was made sacrilege to question.3 The conscience of the credulous prince was directed by saints and bishops,4 who procured an Imperial edict to punish as a capital offence, the violation, the neglect, or even the ignorance of the divine law.5 Among the various arts which had exercised the youth of Gratian, he had applied himself with singular inclination and success to manage the horse, to draw the bow, and to dart the javelin; and these qualifications, which might be useful to a soldier, were prostituted to the viler purposes of hunting. Large parks were enclosed for the Imperial pleasures, and plentifully stocked with every species of wild beasts; and Gratian neglected the duties, and even the dignity, of his rank, to consume whole days in the vain display of his dexterity and boldness in the chase. The pride and wish of the Roman emperor to excel in an art in which he might be surpassed Edition: current; Page: [4] by the meanest of his slaves reminded the numerous spectators of the examples of Nero and Commodus; but the chaste and temperate Gratian was a stranger to their monstrous vices; and his hands were stained only with the blood of animals.6

The behaviour of Gratian, which degraded his character in the eyes of mankind, could not have disturbed the security of his reign, if the army had not been provoked to resent their peculiar injuries. As long as the young emperor was guided by the instructions of his masters, he professed himself the friend and pupil of the soldiers; many of his hours were spent in the familiar conversation of the camp; and the health, the comforts, the rewards, the honours, of his faithful troops appeared to be the object of his attentive concern. But, after Gratian more freely indulged his prevailing taste for hunting and shooting, he naturally connected himself with the most dexterous ministers of his favourite amusement. A body of the Alani was received into the military and domestic service of the palace; and the admirable skill which they were accustomed to display in the unbounded plains of Scythia was exercised, on a more narrow theatre, in the parks and enclosures of Gaul. Gratian admired the talents and customs of these favourite guards, to whom alone he entrusted the defence of his person; and as if he meant to insult the public opinion, he frequently shewed himself to the soldiers and people, with the dress and arms, the long bow, the sounding quiver, and the fur garments of a Scythian warrior. The unworthy spectacle of a Roman prince who had renounced the dress and manners of his country filled the minds of the legions with grief and indignation.7 Even the Germans, so Edition: current; Page: [5] strong and formidable in the armies of the empire, affected to disdain the strange and horrid appearance of the savages of the North, who, in the space of a few years, had wandered from the banks of the Volga to those of the Seine. A loud and licentious murmur was echoed through the camps and garrisons of the West; and, as the mild indolence of Gratian neglected to extinguish the first symptoms of discontent, the want of love and respect was not supplied by the influence of fear. But the subversion of an established government is always a work of some real, and of much apparent, difficulty; and the throne of Gratian was protected by the sanctions of custom, law, religion, and the nice balance of the civil and military powers, which had been established by the policy of Constantine. It is not very important to inquire from what causes the revolt of Britain was produced. Accident is commonly the parent of disorder; the seed of rebellion happened to fall on a soil which was supposed to be more fruitful than any other in tyrants and usurpers;8 the legions of that sequestered island had been long famous for a spirit of presumption and arrogance;9 and the name of Maximus was proclaimed by the tumultuary but unanimous voice both of the soldiers and of the provincials. The emperor, or the rebel, for his title was not yet ascertained by fortune, was a native of Spain, the countryman, the fellow-soldier, and the rival of Theodosius, whose elevation he had not seen without some emotions of envy and resentment. The events of his life had long Edition: current; Page: [6] since fixed him in Britain; and I should not be unwilling to find some evidence for the marriage which he is said to have contracted with the daughter of a wealthy lord of Caernarvonshire.10 But this provincial rank might justly be considered as a state of exile and obscurity; and, if Maximus had obtained any civil or military office, he was not invested with the authority either of governor or general.11 His abilities, and even his integrity, are acknowledged by the partial writers of the age; and the merit must indeed have been conspicuous, that could extort such a confession in favour of the vanquished enemy of Theodosius. The discontent of Maximus might incline him to censure the conduct of his sovereign, and to encourage, perhaps without any views of ambition, the murmurs of the troops. But in the midst of the tumult he artfully, or modestly, refused to ascend the throne; and some credit appears to have been given to his own positive declaration that he was compelled to accept the dangerous present of the Imperial purple.12

But there was a danger likewise in refusing the empire; and from the moment that Maximus had violated his aliegiance to his lawful sovereign, he could not hope to reign, or even to live, if he confined his moderate ambition within the narrow limits of Britain. He boldly and wisely resolved to prevent Edition: current; Page: [7] the designs of Gratian; the youth of the island crowded to his standard, and he invaded Gaul with a fleet and army, which were long afterwards remembered as the emigration of a considerable part of the British nation.13 The emperor, in his peaceful residence of Paris, was alarmed by their hostile approach; and the darts which he idly wasted on lions and bears might have been employed more honourably against the rebels. But his feeble efforts announced his degenerate spirit and desperate situation, and deprived him of the resources which he still might have found in the support of his subjects and allies. The armies of Gaul, instead of opposing the march of Maximus, received him with joyful and loyal acclamations; and the shame of the desertion was transferred from the people to the prince. The troops whose station more immediately attached them to the service of the palace abandoned the standard of Gratian the first time that it was displayed in the neighbourhood of Paris. The emperor of the West fled towards Lyons, with a train of only three hundred horse; and in the cities along the road, where he hoped to find a refuge, or at least a passage, he was taught, by cruel experience, that every gate is shut against the unfortunate. Yet he might still have reached in safety the dominions of his brother, and soon have returned with the forces of Italy and the East, if he had not suffered himself to be fatally deceived by the perfidious governor of the Lyonese province. Gratian was amused by protestations of doubtful fidelity and the hopes of a support which could not be effectual, till the arrival of Andragathius, the general of the cavalry of Maximus, put Edition: current; Page: [8] an end to his suspense. That resolute officer executed without remorse the orders, or the intentions, of the usurper. Gratian, as he rose from supper, was delivered into the hands of the assassin; and his body was denied to the pious and pressing entreaties of his brother Valentinian.14 The death of the emperor was followed by that of his powerful general Mellobaudes, the king of the Franks; who maintained, to the last moment of his life, the ambiguous reputation which is the just recompense of obscure and subtle policy.15 These executions might be necessary to the public safety; but the successful usurper, whose power was acknowledged by all the provinces of the West, had the merit and the satisfaction of boasting that, except those who had perished by the chance of war, his triumph was not stained by the blood of the Romans.16

The events of this revolution had passed in such rapid succession that it would have been impossible for Theodosius to march to the relief of his benefactor, before he received the intelligence of his defeat and death. During the season of sincere grief, or ostentatious mourning, the Eastern emperor was interrupted by the arrival of the principal chamberlain of Maximus; and the choice of a venerable old man, for an Edition: current; Page: [9] office which was usually exercised by eunuchs, announced to the court of Constantinople the gravity and temperance of the British usurper. The ambassador condescended to justify, or excuse, the conduct of his master, and to protest in specious language that the murder of Gratian had been perpetrated, without his knowledge or consent, by the precipitate zeal of the soldiers. But he proceeded, in a firm and equal tone, to offer Theodosius the alternative of peace or war. The speech of the ambassador concluded with a spirited declaration that, although Maximus, as a Roman and as the father of his people, would choose rather to employ his forces in the common defence of the republic, he was armed and prepared, if his friendship should be rejected, to dispute in a field of battle the empire of the world. An immediate and peremptory answer was required; but it was extremely difficult for Theodosius to satisfy, on this important occasion, either the feelings of his own mind or the expectations of the public. The imperious voice of honour and gratitude called aloud for revenge. From the liberality of Gratian he had received the Imperial diadem: his patience would encourage the odious suspicion that he was more deeply sensible of former injuries than of recent obligations; and, if he accepted the friendship, he must seem to share the guilt, of the assassin. Even the principles of justice and the interest of society would receive a fatal blow from the impunity of Maximus; and the example of successful usurpation would tend to dissolve the artificial fabric of government, and once more to replunge the empire in the crimes and calamities of the preceding age. But, as the sentiments of gratitude and honour should invariably regulate the conduct of an individual, they may be overbalanced in the mind of a sovereign by the sense of superior duties; and the maxims both of justice and humanity must permit the escape of an atrocious criminal, if an innocent people would be involved in the consequences of his punishment. The assassin of Gratian had usurped, but he actually possessed, the most warlike provinces of the Edition: current; Page: [10] empire; the East was exhausted by the misfortunes, and even by the success, of the Gothic war; and it was seriously to be apprehended that, after the vital strength of the republic had been wasted in a doubtful and destructive contest, the feeble conqueror would remain an easy prey to the Barbarians of the North. These weighty considerations engaged Theodosius to dissemble his resentment and to accept the alliance of the tyrant. But he stipulated that Maximus should content himself with the possession of the countries beyond the Alps. The brother of Gratian was confirmed and secured in the sovereignty of Italy, Africa, and the Western Illyricum; and some honourable conditions were inserted in the treaty, to protect the memory and the laws of the deceased emperor.17 According to the custom of the age, the images of the three Imperial colleagues were exhibited to the veneration of the people: nor should it be lightly supposed that, in the moment of a solemn reconciliation, Theodosius secretly cherished the intention of perfidy and revenge.18

The contempt of Gratian for the Roman soldiers had exposed him to the fatal effects of their resentment. His profound veneration for the Christian clergy was rewarded by the applause and gratitude of a powerful order, which has claimed, in every age, the privilege of dispensing honours both on earth and in heaven.19 The orthodox bishops bewailed his death and their own irreparable loss; but they were soon comforted by the discovery that Gratian had committed the sceptre of the East to the hands of a prince whose humble faith and fervent zeal were supported by the spirit Edition: current; Page: [11] and abilities of a more vigorous character. Among the benefactors of the church, the fame of Constantine has been rivalled by the glory of Theodosius. If Constantine had the advantage of erecting the standard of the cross, the emulation of his successor assumed the merit of subduing the Arian heresy and of abolishing the worship of idols in the Roman world. Theodosius was the first of the emperors baptised in the true faith of the Trinity. Although he was born of a Christian family, the maxims, or at least the practice, of the age encouraged him to delay the ceremony of his initiation; till he was admonished of the danger of delay by the serious illness which threatened his life towards the end of the first year of his reign. Before he again took the field against the Goths, he received the sacrament of baptism20 from Acholius, the orthodox bishop of Thessalonica;21 and, as the emperor ascended from the holy font, still glowing with the warm feelings of regeneration, he dictated a solemn edict, which proclaimed his own faith and prescribed the religion of his subjects. “It is our pleasure (such is the Imperial style) that all the nations which are governed by our clemency and moderation should steadfastly adhere to the religion which was taught by St. Peter to the Romans; which faithful tradition has preserved; and which is now professed by the pontiff Damasus, and by Peter, bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the discipline of the apostles and the doctrine of the gospel, let us believe the sole deity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; under an equal majesty and a pious Trinity. We authorise the followers of this doctrine to assume the title of Catholic Christians; Edition: current; Page: [12] and, as we judge that all others are extravagant madmen, we brand them with the infamous name of Heretics; and declare that their conventicles shall no longer usurp the respectable appellation of churches. Besides the condemnation of Divine justice, they must expect to suffer the severe penalties which our authority, guided by heavenly wisdom, shall think proper to inflict upon them.”22 The faith of a soldier is commonly the fruit of instruction rather than of inquiry; but, as the emperor always fixed his eyes on the visible land-marks of orthodoxy, which he had so prudently constituted, his religious opinions were never affected by the specious texts, the subtle arguments, and the ambiguous creeds of the Arian doctors. Once indeed he expressed a faint inclination to converse with the eloquent and learned Eunomius, who lived in retirement at a small distance from Constantinople.22a But the dangerous interview was prevented by the prayers of the empress Flaccilla, who trembled for the salvation of her husband; and the mind of Theodosius was confirmed by a theological argument, adapted to the rudest capacity. He had lately bestowed on his eldest son Arcadius the name and honours of Augustus; and the two princes were seated on a stately throne to receive the homage of their subjects. A bishop, Amphilochius of Iconium, approached the throne, and, after saluting with due reverence the person of his sovereign, he accosted the royal youth with the same familiar tenderness which he might have used towards a plebeian child. Provoked by this insolent behaviour, the monarch gave orders that the rustic priest should be instantly driven from his presence. But, while the guards were forcing him to the door, the dexterous polemic had time to execute his design, by exclaiming with a loud voice, “Such is the treatment, O emperor! which the King of heaven has Edition: current; Page: [13] prepared for those impious men who affect to worship the Father but refuse to acknowledge the equal majesty of his divine Son.” Theodosius immediately embraced the bishop of Iconium, and never forgot the important lesson which he had received from this dramatic parable.23

Constantinople was the principal seat and fortress of Arianism; and, in a long interval of forty years,24 the faith of the princes and prelates who reigned in the capital of the East was rejected in the purer schools of Rome and Alexandria. The archiepiscopal throne of Macedonius, which had been polluted with so much Christian blood, was successively filled by Eudoxus and Damophilus. Their diocese enjoyed a free importation of vice and error from every province of the empire; the eager pursuit of religious controversy afforded a new occupation to the busy idleness of the metropolis; and we may credit the assertion of an intelligent observer, who describes, with some pleasantry, the effects of their loquacious zeal. “This city,” says he, “is full of mechanics and slaves, who are all of them profound theologians, and preach in the shops and in the streets. If you desire a man to change a piece of silver, he informs you wherein the Son differs from the Father; if you ask the price of a loaf, you are told by way of reply that the Son is inferior to the Father; and, if you enquire whether the bath is ready, the answer is that the Son was made out of nothing.”25 The heretics of various Edition: current; Page: [14] denominations subsisted in peace under the protection of the Arians of Constantinople; who endeavoured to secure the attachment of those obscure sectaries; while they abused, with unrelenting severity, the victory which they had obtained over the followers of the council of Nice. During the partial reigns of Constantius and Valens, the feeble remnant of the Homoousians was deprived of the public and private exercise of their religion; and it has been observed, in pathetic language, that the scattered flock was left without a shepherd, to wander on the mountains, or to be devoured by rapacious wolves.26 But, as their zeal, instead of being subdued, derived strength and vigour from oppression, they seized the first moments of imperfect freedom, which they acquired by the death of Valens, to form themselves into a regular congregation under the conduct of an episcopal pastor. Two natives of Cappadocia, Basil and Gregory Nazianzen,27 were distinguished above all their contemporaries28 by the rare union of profane eloquence and of orthodox piety. These orators, who might sometimes be compared, by themselves and by the public, to the most celebrated of the ancient Greeks, were united by the ties of the strictest friendship. They had cultivated, with equal ardour, the same liberal studies in the schools of Athens; they had retired, with equal devotion, to the same solitude in the deserts of Pontus; and Edition: current; Page: [15] every spark of emulation, or envy, appeared to be totally extinguished in the holy and ingenuous breasts of Gregory and Basil. But the exaltation of Basil, from a private life to the archiepiscopal throne of Cæsarea, discovered to the world, and perhaps to himself, the pride of his character; and the first favour which he condescended to bestow on his friend was received, and perhaps was intended, as a cruel insult.29 Instead of employing the superior talents of Gregory in some useful and conspicuous station, the haughty prelate selected, among the fifty bishoprics of his extensive province, the wretched village of Sasima,30 without water, without verdure, without society, situate at the junction of three highways, and frequented only by the incessant passage of rude and clamorous waggoners. Gregory submitted with reluctance to this humiliating exile; he was ordained bishop of Sasima; but he solemnly protests that he never consummated his spiritual marriage with this disgusting bride. He afterwards consented to undertake the government of his native church of Nazianzus,31 of which his father had been Edition: current; Page: [16] bishop above five-and-forty years. But, as he was still conscious that he deserved another audience and another theatre, he accepted, with no unworthy ambition, the honourable invitation which was addressed to him from the orthodox party of Constantinople. On his arrival in the capital, Gregory was entertained in the house of a pious and charitable kinsman; the most spacious room was consecrated to the uses of religious worship; and the name of Anastasia was chosen to express the resurrection of the Nicene faith. This private conventicle was afterwards converted into a magnificent church; and the credulity of the succeeding age was prepared to believe the miracles and visions, which attested the presence, or at least the protection, of the Mother of God.32 The pulpit of the Anastasia was the scene of the labours and triumphs of Gregory Nazianzen; and, in the space of two years, he experienced all the spiritual adventures which constitute the prosperous or adverse fortunes of a missionary.33 The Arians, who were provoked by the boldness of his enterprise, represented his doctrine as if he had preached three distinct and equal Deities; and the devout populace was excited to suppress, by violence and tumult, the irregular assemblies of the Athanasian heretics. From the cathedral of St. Sophia there issued a motley crowd “of common beggars, who had forfeited their claim to pity; of monks, who had the appearance of goats or satyrs; and of Edition: current; Page: [17] women, more terrible than so many Jezebels.” The doors of the Anastasia were broke open; much mischief was perpetrated, or attempted, with sticks, stones, and firebrands; and, as a man lost his life in the affray, Gregory, who was summoned the next morning before the magistrate, had the satisfaction of supposing that he publicly confessed the name of Christ. After he was delivered from the fear and danger of a foreign enemy, his infant church was disgraced and distracted by intestine faction. A stranger who assumed the name of Maximus34 and the cloak of a Cynic philosopher, insinuated himself into the confidence of Gregory; deceived and abused his favourable opinion; and, forming a secret connection with some bishops of Egypt, attempted by a clandestine ordination to supplant his patron in the episcopal seat of Constantinople. These mortifications might sometimes tempt the Cappadocian missionary to regret his obscure solitude. But his fatigues were rewarded by the daily increase of his fame and his congregation; and he enjoyed the pleasure of observing that the greater part of his numerous audience retired from his sermons satisfied with the eloquence of the preacher35 or dissatisfied with the manifold imperfections of their faith and practice.36

The Catholics of Constantinople were animated with joyful confidence by the baptism and edict of Theodosius; and they impatiently waited the effects of his gracious Edition: current; Page: [18] promise. Their hopes were speedily accomplished; and the emperor, as soon as he had finished the operations of the campaign, made his public entry into the capital at the head of a victorious army. The next day after his arrival, he summoned Damophilus to his presence, and offered that Arian prelate the hard alternative of subscribing the Nicene creed, or of instantly resigning, to the orthodox believers, the use and possession of the episcopal palace, the cathedral of St. Sophia, and all the churches of Constantinople. The zeal of Damophilus, which in a Catholic saint would have been justly applauded, embraced, without hesitation, a life of poverty and exile,37 and his removal was immediately followed by the purification of the Imperial City. The Arians might complain, with some appearance of justice, that an inconsiderable congregation of sectaries should usurp the hundred churches, which they were insufficient to fill; whilst the far greater part of the people was cruelly excluded from every place of religious worship. Theodosius was still inexorable: but, as the angels who protected the Catholic cause were only visible to the eyes of faith, he prudently reinforced those heavenly legions with the more effectual aid of temporal and carnal weapons; and the church of St. Sophia38 was occupied by a large body of the Imperial guards. If the mind of Gregory was susceptible of pride, he must have felt a very lively satisfaction, when the emperor conducted him through the streets in solemn triumph; and, with his own hand, respectfully placed him on the archiepiscopal throne of Constantinople. But the saint Edition: current; Page: [19] (who had not subdued the imperfections of human virtue) was deeply affected by the mortifying consideration that his entrance into the fold was that of a wolf, rather than of a shepherd; that the glittering arms, which surrounded his person, were necessary for his safety; and that he alone was the object of the imprecations of a great party, whom, as men and citizens, it was impossible for him to despise. He beheld the innumerable multitude, of either sex and of every age, who crowded the streets, the windows, and the roofs of the houses; he heard the tumultuous voice of rage, grief, astonishment, and despair; and Gregory fairly confesses that, on the memorable day of his installation, the capital of the East wore the appearance of a city taken by storm, and in the hands of a Barbarian conqueror.39 About six weeks afterwards, Theodosius declared his resolution of expelling, from all the churches of his dominions, the bishops and their clergy who should obstinately refuse to believe, or at least to profess, the doctrine of the council of Nice. His lieutenant Sapor was armed with the ample powers of a general law, a special commission, and a military force;40 and this ecclesiastical revolution was conducted with so much discretion and vigour that the religion of the emperor was established, without tumult or bloodshed, in all the provinces of the East. The writings of the Arians, if they had been permitted to exist,41 would perhaps contain the lamentable story of the persecution which afflicted the church under the reign of the Edition: current; Page: [20] impious Theodosius; and the sufferings of their holy confessors might claim the pity of the disinterested reader. Yet there is reason to imagine that the violence of zeal and revenge was, in some measure, eluded by the want of resistance; and that, in their adversity, the Arians displayed much less firmness than had been exerted by the orthodox party under the reigns of Constantius and Valens. The moral character and conduct of the hostile sects appear to have been governed by the same common principles of nature and religion; but a very material circumstance may be discovered, which tended to distinguish the degrees of their theological faith. Both parties in the schools, as well as in the temples, acknowledged and worshipped the divine majesty of Christ; and, as we are always prone to impute our own sentiments and passions to the Deity, it would be deemed more prudent and respectful to exaggerate, than to circumscribe, the adorable perfections of the Son of God. The disciple of Athanasius exulted in the proud confidence that he had entitled himself to the divine favour; while the follower of Arius must have been tormented by the secret apprehension that he was guilty, perhaps, of an unpardonable offence, by the scanty praise, and parsimonious honours, which he bestowed on the Judge of the World. The opinions of Arianism might satisfy a cold and speculative mind; but the doctrine of the Nicene Creed, most powerfully recommended by the merits of faith and devotion, was much better adapted to become popular and successful in a believing age.

The hope that truth and wisdom would be found in the assemblies of the orthodox clergy induced the emperor to convene, at Constantinople, a synod of one hundred and fifty bishops, who proceeded, without much difficulty or delay, to complete the theological system which had been established in the council of Nice. The vehement disputes of the fourth century had been chiefly employed on the nature of the Son of God; and the various opinions, which were embraced concerning the Second, were extended and transferred, by a natural Edition: current; Page: [21] analogy, to the Third, person of the Trinity.42 Yet it was found, or it was thought, necessary, by the victorious adversaries of Arianism, to explain the ambiguous language of some respectable doctors; to confirm the faith of the Catholics; and to condemn an unpopular and inconsistent sect of Macedonians, who freely admitted that the Son was consubstantial to the Father, while they were fearful of seeming to acknowledge the existence of Three Gods. A final and unanimous sentence was pronounced to ratify the equal Deity of the Holy Ghost; the mysterious doctrine has been received by all the nations and all the churches of the Christian world; and their grateful reverence has assigned to the bishops of Theodosius the second rank among the general councils.43 Their knowledge of religious truth may have been preserved by tradition, or it may have been communicated by inspiration; but the sober evidence of history will not allow much weight to the personal authority of the fathers of Constantinople. In an age when the ecclesiastics had scandalously degenerated from the model of apostolical purity, the most worthless and corrupt were always the most eager to frequent, and disturb, the episcopal assemblies. The conflict and fermentation of so many opposite interests and tempers inflamed the passions of the bishops; and their ruling passions were the love of gold and the love of dispute. Many of the same prelates Edition: current; Page: [22] who now applauded the orthodox piety of Theodosius had repeatedly changed, with prudent flexibility, their creeds and opinions; and in the various revolutions of the church and state, the religion of their sovereign was the rule of their obsequious faith. When the emperor suspended his prevailing influence, the turbulent synod was blindly impelled by the absurd or selfish motives of pride, hatred, and resentment. The death of Meletius, which happened at the council of Constantinople, presented the most favourable opportunity of terminating the schism of Antioch, by suffering his aged rival, Paulinus, peaceably to end his days in the episcopal chair. The faith and virtues of Paulinus were unblemished. But his cause was supported by the Western churches; and the bishops of the synod resolved to perpetuate the mischiefs of discord by the hasty ordination of a perjured candidate,44 rather than to betray the imagined dignity of the East, which had been illustrated by the birth and death of the Son of God. Such unjust and disorderly proceedings forced the gravest members of the assembly to dissent and to secede; and the clamorous majority, which remained masters of the field of battle, could be compared only to wasps or magpies, to a flight of cranes, or to a flock of geese.45

A suspicion may possibly arise that so unfavourable a picture of ecclesiastical synods has been drawn by the partial hand of some obstinate heretic or some malicious infidel. Edition: current; Page: [23] But the name of the sincere historian who has conveyed this instructive lesson to the knowledge of posterity must silence the impotent murmurs of superstition and bigotry. He was one of the most pious and eloquent bishops of the age; a saint and a doctor of the church; the scourge of Arianism, and the pillar of the orthodox faith; a distinguished member of the council of Constantinople, in which, after the death of Meletius, he exercised the functions of president: in a word — Gregory Nazianzen himself. The harsh and ungenerous treatment which he experienced,46 instead of derogating from the truth of his evidence, affords an additional proof of the spirit which actuated the deliberations of the synod. Their unanimous suffrage had confirmed the pretensions which the bishop of Constantinople derived from the choice of the people and the approbation of the emperor. But Gregory soon became the victim of malice and envy. The bishops of the East, his strenuous adherents, provoked by his moderation in the affairs of Antioch, abandoned him, without support, to the adverse faction of the Egyptians; who disputed the validity of his election, and rigorously asserted the obsolete canon that prohibited the licentious practice of episcopal translations. The pride, or the humility, of Gregory prompted him to decline a contest which might have been imputed to ambition and avarice; and he publicly offered, not without some mixture of indignation, to renounce the government of a church which had been restored, and almost created, by his labours. His resignation was accepted by the synod, and by the emperor, with more readiness than he seems to have expected. At the time, when he might have hoped to enjoy the fruits of his victory, his episcopal throne was filled by the senator Edition: current; Page: [24] Nectarius; and the new archbishop, accidentally recommended by his easy temper and venerable aspect, was obliged to delay the ceremony of his consecration, till he had previously despatched the rites of his baptism.47 After this remarkable experience of the ingratitude of princes and prelates, Gregory retired once more to his obscure solitude of Cappadocia; where he employed the remainder of his life, about eight years, in the exercises of poetry and devotion. The title of Saint has been added to his name; but the tenderness of his heart48 and the elegance of his genius reflect a more pleasing lustre on the memory of Gregory Nazianzen.

It was not enough that Theodosius had suppressed the insolent reign of Arianism, or that he had abundantly revenged the injuries which the Catholics sustained from the zeal of Constantius and Valens. The orthodox emperor considered every heretic as a rebel against the supreme powers of heaven, and of earth; and each of those powers might exercise their peculiar jurisdiction over the soul and body of the guilty. The decrees of the council of Constantinople had ascertained the true standard of the faith; and the ecclesiastics who governed the conscience of Theodosius suggested the most effectual methods of persecution. In the space of fifteen years, he promulgated at least fifteen severe edicts against the heretics;49 more especially against Edition: current; Page: [25] those who rejected the doctrine of the Trinity; and to deprive them of every hope of escape, he sternly enacted that, if any laws or rescripts should be alleged in their favour, the judges should consider them as the illegal productions either of fraud or forgery. The penal statutes were directed against the ministers, the assemblies, and the persons of the heretics; and the passions of the legislator were expressed in the language of declamation and invective. I. The heretical teachers, who usurped the sacred titles of Bishops or Presbyters, were not only excluded from the privileges and emoluments so liberally granted to the orthodox clergy, but they were exposed to the heavy penalties of exile and confiscation, if they presumed to preach the doctrine, or to practise the rites, of their accursed sects. A fine of ten pounds of gold (above four hundred pounds sterling) was imposed on every person who should dare to confer, or receive, or promote an heretical ordination: and it was reasonably expected that, if the race of pastors could be extinguished, their helpless flocks would be compelled by ignorance and hunger to return within the pale of the Catholic church. II. The rigorous prohibition of conventicles was carefully extended to every possible circumstance in which the heretics could assemble with the intention of worshipping God and Christ according to the dictates of their conscience. Their religious meetings, whether public or secret, by day or by night, in cities or in the country, were equally proscribed by the edicts of Theodosius; and the building or ground which had been used for that illegal purpose was forfeited to the Imperial domain. III. It was supposed that the error of the heretics could proceed only from the obstinate temper of their minds; and that such a temper was a fit object of censure and punishment. The anathemas of the church were fortified by a sort of civil excommunication, which separated them from their fellow-citizens by a peculiar brand of infamy; and this declaration of the supreme magistrate tended to justify, or at least to excuse, the insults of a fanatic populace. The sectaries were gradually disqualified Edition: current; Page: [26] for the possession of honourable or lucrative employments; and Theodosius was satisfied with his own justice, when he decreed that, as the Eunomians distinguished the nature of the Son from that of the Father, they should be incapable of making their wills or of receiving any advantage from testamentary donations. The guilt of the Manichæan heresy was esteemed of such magnitude that it could be expiated only by the death of the offender; and the same capital punishment was inflicted on the Audians, or Quartodecimans,50 who should dare to perpetrate the atrocious crime of celebrating, on an improper day, the festival of Easter. Every Roman might exercise the right of public accusation; but the office of Inquisitors of the Faith, a name so deservedly abhorred, was first instituted under the reign of Theodosius. Yet we are assured that the execution of his penal edicts was seldom enforced; and that the pious emperor appeared less desirous to punish than to reclaim, or terrify, his refractory subjects.51

The theory of persecution was established by Theodosius, whose justice and piety have been applauded by the saints; but the practice of it, in the fullest extent, was reserved for his rival and colleague Maximus, the first, among the Christian princes, who shed the blood of his Christian subjects on account of their religious opinions. The cause of the Priscillianists,52 a recent sect of heretics, who disturbed the provinces Edition: current; Page: [27] of Spain, was transferred, by appeal, from the synod of Bourdeaux to the Imperial consistory of Treves; and, by the sentence of the Prætorian prefect, seven persons were tortured, condemned, and executed. The first of these was Priscillian53 himself, bishop of Avila,54 in Spain; who adorned the advantages of birth and fortune by the accomplishments of eloquence and learning. Two presbyters and two deacons accompanied their beloved master in his death, which they esteemed as a glorious martyrdom; and the number of religious victims was completed by the execution of Latronian, a poet, who rivalled the fame of the ancients; and of Euchrocia, a noble matron of Bourdeaux, the widow of the orator Delphidius.55 Two bishops, who had embraced the sentiments of Priscillian, were condemned to a distant and dreary exile;56 and some indulgence was shown to the meaner criminals who assumed the merit of an early repentance. Edition: current; Page: [28] If any credit could be allowed to confessions extorted by fear or pain, and to vague reports, the offspring of malice and credulity, the heresy of the Priscillianists would be found to include the various abominations of magic, of impiety, and of lewdness.57 Priscillian, who wandered about the world in the company of his spiritual sisters, was accused of praying stark naked in the midst of the congregation; and it was confidently asserted that the effects of his criminal intercourse with the daughter of Euchrocia had been suppressed by means still more odious and criminal. But an accurate, or rather a candid, inquiry will discover that, if the Priscillianists violated the laws of nature, it was not by the licentiousness, but by the austerity, of their lives. They absolutely condemned the use of the marriage-bed; and the peace of families was often disturbed by indiscreet separations. They enjoined, or recommended, a total abstinence from all animal food; and their continual prayers, fasts, and vigils inculcated a rule of strict and perfect devotion. The speculative tenets of the sect, concerning the person of Christ and the nature of the human soul, were derived from the Gnostic and Manichæan system; and this vain philosophy, which had been transported from Egypt to Spain, was ill adapted to the grosser spirits of the West. The obscure disciples of Priscillian suffered, languished, and gradually disappeared: his tenets were rejected by the clergy and people, but his death was the subject of a long and vehement controversy; while some arraigned, and others applauded, the justice of his sentence. It is with pleasure that we can observe the humane inconsistency of the most illustrious saints and bishops, Ambrose of Milan,58 and Martin of Tours;59 who, Edition: current; Page: [29] on this occasion, asserted the cause of toleration. They pitied the unhappy men, who had been executed at Treves; they refused to hold communication with their episcopal murderers; and, if Martin deviated from that generous resolution, his motives were laudable, and his repentance was exemplary. The bishops of Tours and Milan pronounced, without hesitation, the eternal damnation of heretics; but they were surprised, and shocked, by the bloody image of their temporal death, and the honest feelings of nature resisted the artificial prejudices of theology. The humanity of Ambrose and Martin was confirmed by the scandalous irregularity of the proceedings against Priscillian and his adherents. The civil and ecclesiastical ministers had transgressed the limits of their respective provinces. The secular judge had presumed to receive an appeal, and to pronounce a definitive sentence, in a matter of faith and episcopal jurisdiction. The bishops had disgraced themselves by exercising the function of accusers in a criminal prosecution. The cruelty of Ithacius,60 who beheld the tortures, and solicited the death, of the heretics, provoked the just indignation of mankind; and the vices of that profligate bishop were admitted as a proof that his zeal was instigated by the sordid motives of interest. Since the death of Priscillian, the rude attempts of persecution have been refined and methodised in the holy office, which assigns their distinct parts to the ecclesiastical and secular powers. The devoted victim is regularly delivered by the priest to the magistrate, and by the magistrate to the executioner; and the inexorable sentence of the church, which declares the spiritual guilt of the offender, is expressed in the mild language of pity and intercession.

Among the ecclesiastics, who illustrated the reign of Theodosius, Edition: current; Page: [30] Gregory Nazianzen was distinguished by the talents of an eloquent preacher; the reputation of miraculous gifts added weight and dignity to the monastic virtues of Martin of Tours;61 but the palm of episcopal vigour and ability was justly claimed by the intrepid Ambrose.62 He was descended from a noble family of Romans; his father had exercised the important office of Prætorian prefect of Gaul; and the son, after passing through the studies of a liberal education, attained, in the regular gradation of civil honours, the station of consular of Liguria, a province which included the Imperial residence of Milan. At the age of thirty-four, and before he had received the sacrament of baptism, Ambrose, to his own surprise, and to that of the world, was suddenly transformed from a governor to an archbishop. Without the least mixture, as it is said, of art or intrigue, the whole body of the people unanimously saluted him with the episcopal title; the concord and perseverance of their acclamations were ascribed to a preternatural impulse; and the reluctant magistrate was compelled to undertake a spiritual office, for which he was not prepared by the habits and occupations of his former life. But the active force of his genius soon qualified him to exercise, with zeal and prudence, the duties of his ecclesiastical jurisdiction; and, while he cheerfully renounced the vain and splendid trappings of temporal greatness, he condescended, for the good of the church, to direct the conscience of the emperors and to control the administration of the empire. Gratian loved and revered him as a father; and the elaborate treatise on the faith of the Trinity was designed for Edition: current; Page: [31] the instruction of the young prince. After his tragic death, at a time when the empress Justina trembled for her own safety and for that of her son Valentinian, the archbishop of Milan was despatched, on two different embassies, to the court of Treves. He exercised, with equal firmness and dexterity, the powers of his spiritual and political characters; and perhaps contributed, by his authority and eloquence, to check the ambition of Maximus and to protect the peace of Italy.63 Ambrose had devoted his life and his abilities to the service of the church. Wealth was the object of his contempt; he had renounced his private patrimony; and he sold, without hesitation, the consecrated plate for the redemption of captives. The clergy and people of Milan were attached to their archbishop; and he deserved the esteem, without soliciting the favour or apprehending the displeasure, of his feeble sovereigns.

The government of Italy, and of the young emperor, naturally devolved to his mother Justina, a woman of beauty and spirit, but who, in the midst of an orthodox people, had the misfortune of professing the Arian heresy, which she endeavoured to instil into the mind of her son. Justina was persuaded that a Roman emperor might claim, in his own dominions, the public exercise of his religion; and she proposed to the archbishop, as a moderate and reasonable concession, that he should resign the use of a single church, either in the city or suburbs of Milan. But the conduct of Ambrose was governed by very different principles.64 The palaces of the earth might indeed belong to Cæsar; but the churches were the houses of God; and, within the limits of his diocese, he himself, as the lawful successor of the Edition: current; Page: [32] apostles, was the only minister of God. The privileges of Christianity, temporal as well as spiritual, were confined to the true believers; and the mind of Ambrose was satisfied that his own theological opinions were the standard of truth and orthodoxy. The archbishop, who refused to hold any conference or negotiation with the instruments of Satan, declared, with modest firmness, his resolution to die a martyr rather than to yield to the impious sacrilege; and Justina, who resented the refusal as an act of insolence and rebellion, hastily determined to exert the Imperial prerogative of her son. As she desired to perform her public devotions on the approaching festival of Easter, Ambrose was ordered to appear before the council. He obeyed the summons with the respect of a faithful subject, but he was followed, without his consent, by an innumerable people: they pressed, with impetuous zeal, against the gates of the palace; and the affrighted ministers of Valentinian, instead of pronouncing a sentence of exile on the archbishop of Milan, humbly requested that he would interpose his authority, to protect the person of the emperor and to restore the tranquillity of the capital. But the promises which Ambrose received and communicated were soon violated by a perfidious court, and during six of the most solemn days which Christian piety has set apart for the exercise of religion the city was agitated by the irregular convulsions of tumult and fanaticism. The officers of the household were directed to prepare, first the Porcian, and afterwards the new Basilica, for the immediate reception of the emperor and his mother. The splendid canopy and hangings of the royal seat were arranged in the customary manner; but it was found necessary to defend them, by a strong guard, from the insults of the populace. The Arian ecclesiastics who ventured to shew themselves in the streets were exposed to the most imminent danger of their lives; and Ambrose enjoyed the merit and reputation of rescuing his personal enemies from the hands of the enraged multitude.

But, while he laboured to restrain the effects of their zeal, Edition: current; Page: [33] the pathetic vehemence of his sermons continually inflamed the angry and seditious temper of the people of Milan. The characters of Eve, of the wife of Job, of Jezebel, of Herodias, were indecently applied to the mother of the emperor; and her desire to obtain a church for the Arians was compared to the most cruel persecutions which Christianity had endured under the reign of Paganism. The measures of the court served only to expose the magnitude of the evil. A fine of two hundred pounds of gold was imposed on the corporate body of merchants and manufacturers: an order was signified, in the name of the emperor, to all the officers, and inferior servants, of the courts of justice, that, during the continuance of the public disorders, they should strictly confine themselves to their houses: and the ministers of Valentinian imprudently confessed that the most respectable part of the citizens of Milan was attached to the cause of their archbishop. He was again solicited to restore peace to his country, by a timely compliance with the will of his sovereign. The reply of Ambrose was couched in the most humble and respectful terms, which might, however, be interpreted as a serious declaration of civil war. “His life and fortune were in the hands of the emperor; but he would never betray the church of Christ or degrade the dignity of the episcopal character. In such a cause, he was prepared to suffer whatever the malice of the demon could inflict; and he only wished to die in the presence of his faithful flock, and at the foot of the altar; he had not contributed to excite, but it was in the power of God alone to appease, the rage of the people: he deprecated the scenes of blood and confusion which were likely to ensue; and it was his fervent prayer that he might not survive to behold the ruin of a flourishing city and perhaps the desolation of all Italy.”65 The obstinate bigotry of Justina Edition: current; Page: [34] would have endangered the empire of her son, if, in this contest with the church and people of Milan, she could have depended on the active obedience of the troops of the palace. A large body of Goths had marched to occupy the Basilica which was the object of the dispute: and it might be expected from the Arian principles and barbarous manners of these foreign mercenaries that they would not entertain any scruples in the execution of the most sanguinary orders. They were encountered, on the sacred threshold, by the archbishop, who, thundering against them a sentence of excommunication, asked them, in the tone of a father and a master, Whether it was to invade the house of God that they had implored the hospitable protection of the republic? The suspense of the Barbarians allowed some hours for a more effectual negotiation; and the empress was persuaded, by the advice of her wisest counsellors, to leave the Catholics in possession of all the churches of Milan; and to dissemble, till a more convenient season, her intentions of revenge. The mother of Valentinian could never forgive the triumph of Ambrose; and the royal youth uttered a passionate exclamation that his own servants were ready to betray him into the hands of an insolent priest.

The laws of the empire, some of which were inscribed with the name of Valentinian, still condemned the Arian heresy, and seemed to excuse the resistance of the Catholics. By the influence of Justina an edict of toleration was promulgated in all the provinces which were subject to the court of Milan; the free exercise of their religion was granted to those who professed the faith of Rimini; and the emperor declared that all persons who should infringe this sacred and salutary constitution should be capitally punished as the enemies of the public peace.66 The character and language of the archbishop of Milan may justify the suspicion that his conduct Edition: current; Page: [35] soon afforded a reasonable ground, or at least a specious pretence, to the Arian ministers, who watched the opportunity of surprising him in some act of disobedience to a law which he strangely represents as a law of blood and tyranny. A sentence of easy and honourable banishment was pronounced, which enjoined Ambrose to depart from Milan without delay; whilst it permitted him to choose the place of his exile and the number of his companions. But the authority of the saints who have preached and practised the maxims of passive loyalty appeared to Ambrose of less moment than the extreme and pressing danger of the church. He boldly refused to obey; and his refusal was supported by the unanimous consent of his faithful people.67 They guarded by turns the person of their archbishop; the gates of the cathedral and the episcopal palace were strongly secured; and the Imperial troops, who had formed the blockade, were unwilling to risk the attack, of that impregnable fortress. The numerous poor, who had been relieved by the liberality of Ambrose, embraced the fair occasion of signalising their zeal and gratitude; and, as the patience of the multitude might have been exhausted by the length and uniformity of nocturnal vigils, he prudently introduced into the church of Milan the useful institution of a loud and regular psalmody. While he maintained this arduous contest, he was instructed by a dream to open the earth in a place where the remains of two martyrs, Gervasius and Protasius,68 had been deposited above three hundred years. Immediately under the pavement of the church two perfect skeletons were found,69 with the heads Edition: current; Page: [36] separated from their bodies, and a plentiful effusion of blood. The holy relics were presented, in solemn pomp, to the veneration of the people; and every circumstance of this fortunate discovery was admirably adapted to promote the designs of Ambrose. The bones of the martyrs, their blood, their garments, were supposed to contain a healing power; and their preternatural influence was communicated to the most distant objects, without losing any part of its original virtue. The extraordinary cure of a blind man,70 and the reluctant confessions of several demoniacs, appeared to justify the faith and sanctity of Ambrose; and the truth of those miracles is attested by Ambrose himself, by his secretary Paulinus, and by his proselyte, the celebrated Augustin, who, at that time, professed the art of rhetoric in Milan. The reason of the present age may possibly approve the incredulity of Justina and her Arian court; who derided the theatrical representations which were exhibited by the contrivance, and at the expense, of the archbishop.71 Their effect, however, on the minds of the people was rapid and irresistible; and the feeble sovereign of Italy found himself unable to contend with the favourite of heaven. The powers likewise of the earth interposed in the defence of Ambrose; the disinterested advice of Theodosius was the general result of piety and friendship; and the mask of religious zeal concealed the hostile and ambitious designs of the tyrant of Gaul.72

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The reign of Maximus might have ended in peace and prosperity, could he have contented himself with the possession of three ample countries, which now constitute the three most flourishing kingdoms of modern Europe. But the aspiring usurper, whose sordid ambition was not dignified by the love of glory and of arms, considered his actual forces as the instruments only of his future greatness, and his success was the immediate cause of his destruction. The wealth which he extorted73 from the oppressed provinces of Gaul, Spain, and Britain was employed in levying and maintaining a formidable army of Barbarians, collected, for the most part, from the fiercest nations of Germany. The conquest of Italy was the object of his hopes and preparations; and he secretly meditated the ruin of an innocent youth, whose government was abhorred and despised by his Catholic subjects. But, as Maximus wished to occupy, without resistance, the passes of the Alps, he received, with perfidious smiles, Domninus of Syria, the ambassador of Valentinian, and pressed him to accept the aid of a considerable body of troops for the service of a Pannonian war. The penetration of Ambrose had discovered the snares of an enemy under the professions of friendship;74 but the Syrian Domninus was corrupted, or deceived, by the liberal favour of the court of Treves; and the council of Milan obstinately rejected the suspicion of danger, with a blind confidence which was the effect, not of courage, but of fear. The march of the auxiliaries was guided by the ambassador; and they were admitted, without distrust, into the fortresses of the Alps. But the crafty tyrant followed, with hasty and silent footsteps, in the rear; Edition: current; Page: [38] and, as he diligently intercepted all intelligence of his motions, the gleam of armour and the dust excited by the troops of cavalry first announced the hostile approach of a stranger to the gates of Milan. In this extremity, Justina and her son might accuse their own imprudence and the perfidious arts of Maximus; but they wanted time, and force and resolution to stand against the Gauls and Germans, either in the field or within the walls of a large and disaffected city. Flight was their only hope, Aquileia their only refuge; and, as Maximus now displayed his genuine character, the brother of Gratian might expect the same fate from the hands of the same assassin. Maximus entered Milan in triumph; and, if the wise archbishop refused a dangerous and criminal connection with the usurper, he might indirectly contribute to the success of his arms by inculcating, from the pulpit, the duty of resignation rather than that of resistance.75 The unfortunate Justina reached Aquileia in safety; but she distrusted the strength of the fortifications; she dreaded the event of a siege; and she resolved to implore the protection of the great Theodosius, whose power and virtue were celebrated in all the countries of the West. A vessel was secretly provided to transport the Imperial family; they embarked with precipitation in one of the obscure harbours of Venetia or Istria; traversed the whole extent of the Hadriatic and Ionian seas; turned the extreme promontory of Peloponnesus; and, after a long but successful navigation, reposed themselves in the port of Thessalonica. All the subjects of Valentinian deserted the cause of a prince who, by his abdication, had absolved them from the duty of allegiance; and, if the little city of Æmona, on the verge of Italy, had not presumed to stop the career of his inglorious victory, Maximus would have obtained, without a struggle, the sole possession of the Western empire.

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Instead of inviting his royal guests to the palace of Constantinople, Theodosius had some unknown reasons to fix their residence at Thessalonica; but these reasons did not proceed from contempt or indifference, as he speedily made a visit to that city, accompanied by the greatest part of his court and senate. After the first tender expressions of friendship and sympathy, the pious emperor of the East gently admonished Justina that the guilt of heresy was sometimes punished in this world as well as in the next; and that the public profession of the Nicene faith would be the most efficacious step to promote the restoration of her son, by the satisfaction which it must occasion both on earth and in heaven. The momentous question of peace or war was referred, by Theodosius, to the deliberation of his council; and the arguments which might be alleged on the side of honour and justice had acquired, since the death of Gratian, a considerable degree of additional weight. The persecution of the Imperial family, to which Theodosius himself had been indebted for his fortune, was now aggravated by recent and repeated injuries. Neither oaths nor treaties could restrain the boundless ambition of Maximus; and the delay of vigorous and decisive measures, instead of prolonging the blessings of peace, would expose the Eastern empire to the danger of an hostile invasion. The Barbarians, who had passed the Danube, had lately assumed the character of soldiers and subjects, but their native fierceness was yet untamed; and the operations of a war which would exercise their valour and diminish their numbers might tend to relieve the provinces from an intolerable oppression. Notwithstanding these specious and solid reasons, which were approved by a majority of the council, Theodosius still hesitated whether he should draw the sword in a contest which could no longer admit any terms of reconciliation; and his magnanimous character was not disgraced by the apprehensions which he felt for the safety of his infant sons and the welfare of his exhausted people. In this moment of anxious doubt, while the fate of the Roman Edition: current; Page: [40] world depended on the resolution of a single man, the charms of the princess Galla most powerfully pleaded the cause of her brother Valentinian.76 The heart of Theodosius was softened by the tears of beauty; his affections were insensibly engaged by the graces of youth and innocence; the art of Justina managed and directed the impulse of passion; and the celebration of the royal nuptials was the assurance and signal of the civil war. The unfeeling critics, who consider every amorous weakness as an indelible stain on the memory of a great and orthodox emperor, are inclined, on this occasion, to dispute the suspicious evidence of the historian Zosimus. For my own part, I shall frankly confess that I am willing to find, or even to seek, in the revolutions of the world some traces of the mild and tender sentiments of domestic life; and, amidst the crowd of fierce and ambitious conquerors, I can distinguish, with peculiar complacency, a gentle hero, who may be supposed to receive his armour from the hands of love. The alliance of the Persian king was secured by the faith of treaties; the martial Barbarians were persuaded to follow the standard, or to respect the frontiers, of an active and liberal monarch; and the dominions of Theodosius, from the Euphrates to the Hadriatic, resounded with the preparations of war both by land and sea. The skilful disposition of the forces of the East seemed to multiply their numbers, and distracted the attention of Maximus. He had reason to fear that a chosen body of troops, under the command of the intrepid Arbogastes, would direct their march along the banks of the Danube and boldly penetrate through the Rhætian provinces into the centre of Gaul. A powerful fleet was equipped in the harbours of Greece and Epirus, with an apparent design that, as soon as a passage had Edition: current; Page: [41] been opened by a naval victory, Valentinian and his mother should land in Italy, proceed, without delay, to Rome, and occupy the majestic seat of religion and empire. In the meanwhile, Theodosius himself advanced at the head of a brave and disciplined army, to encounter his unworthy rival, who, after the siege of Æmona, had fixed his camp in the neighbourhood of Siscia, a city of Pannonia, strongly fortified by the broad and rapid stream of the Save.

The veterans, who still remembered the long resistance and successive resources of the tyrant Magnentius, might prepare themselves for the labours of three bloody campaigns. But the contest with his successor, who, like him, had usurped the throne of the West, was easily decided in the term of two months77 and within the space of two hundred miles. The superior genius of the emperor of the East might prevail over the feeble Maximus; who, in this important crisis, shewed himself destitute of military skill or personal courage; but the abilities of Theodosius were seconded by the advantage which he possessed of a numerous and active cavalry. The Huns, the Alani, and, after their example, the Goths themselves, were formed into squadrons of archers; who fought on horseback and confounded the steady valour of the Gauls and Germans by the rapid motions of a Tartar war. After the fatigue of a long march, in the heat of summer, they spurred their foaming horses into the waters of the Save, swam the river in the presence of the enemy, and instantly charged and routed the troops who guarded the high ground on the opposite side. Marcellinus, the tyrant’s brother, advanced to support them with the select cohorts which were considered as the hope and strength of the army. The action, which had been interrupted by the approach of night, was renewed in the morning; and, after a sharp conflict, the surviving remnant of the bravest soldiers of Maximus threw down their arms at the feet of the conqueror. Without suspending his march to receive the Edition: current; Page: [42] loyal acclamations of the citizens of Æmona, Theodosius pressed forwards, to terminate the war by the death or captivity of his rival, who fled before him with the diligence of fear. From the summit of the Julian Alps, he descended with such incredible speed into the plain of Italy that he reached Aquileia on the evening of the first day; and Maximus, who found himself encompassed on all sides, had scarcely time to shut the gates of the city. But the gates could not long resist the effort of a victorious enemy; and the despair, the disaffection, the indifference of the soldiers and people, hastened the downfall of the wretched Maximus. He was dragged from his throne, rudely stripped of the Imperial ornaments, the robe, the diadem, and the purple slippers; and conducted, like a malefactor, to the camp and presence of Theodosius, at a place about three miles from Aquileia. The behaviour of the emperor was not intended to insult, and he shewed some disposition to pity and forgive, the tyrant of the West, who had never been his personal enemy and was now become the object of his contempt. Our sympathy is the most forcibly excited by the misfortunes to which we are exposed; and the spectacle of a proud competitor, now prostrate at his feet, could not fail of producing very serious and solemn thoughts in the mind of the victorious emperor. But the feeble emotion of involuntary pity was checked by his regard for public justice and the memory of Gratian; and he abandoned the victim to the pious zeal of the soldiers, who drew him out of the Imperial presence and instantly separated his head from his body. The intelligence of his defeat and death was received with sincere, or well-dissembled, joy: his son Victor, on whom he had conferred the title of Augustus, died by the order, perhaps by the hand, of the bold Arbogastes; and all the military plans of Theodosius were successfully executed. When he had thus terminated the civil war with less difficulty and bloodshed than he might naturally expect, he employed the winter months of his residence at Milan to restore the state of the afflicted Edition: current; Page: [43] provinces; and early in the spring he made, after the example of Constantine and Constantius, his triumphal entry into the ancient capital of the Roman empire.78

The orator, who may be silent without danger, may praise without difficulty and without reluctance;79 and posterity will confess that the character of Theodosius80 might furnish the subject of a sincere and ample panegyric. The wisdom of his laws, and the success of his arms, rendered his administration respectable in the eyes both of his subjects and of his enemies. He loved and practised the virtues of domestic life, which seldom hold their residence in the palaces of kings. Theodosius was chaste and temperate; he enjoyed, without excess, the sensual and social pleasures of the table; and the warmth of his amorous passions was never diverted from their lawful objects. The proud titles of Imperial greatness were adorned by the tender names of a faithful husband, an indulgent father; his uncle was raised, by his affectionate esteem, to the rank of a second parent; Theodosius embraced, as his own, the children of his brother and sister; and the expressions of his regard were extended to the most distant and obscure branches of his numerous Edition: current; Page: [44] kindred. His familiar friends were judiciously selected from among those persons who, in the equal intercourse of private life, had appeared before his eyes without a mask; the consciousness of personal and superior merit enabled him to despise the accidental distinction of the purple; and he proved by his conduct that he had forgotten all the injuries, while he most gratefully remembered all the favours and services, which he had received before he ascended the throne of the Roman empire. The serious, or lively, tone of his conversation was adapted to the age, the rank, or the character of his subjects whom he admitted into his society; and the affability of his manners displayed the image of his mind. Theodosius respected the simplicity of the good and virtuous; every art, every talent, of an useful, or even of an innocent, nature was rewarded by his judicious liberality; and, except the heretics whom he persecuted with implacable hatred, the diffusive circle of his benevolence was circumscribed only by the limits of the human race. The government of a mighty empire may assuredly suffice to occupy the time and the abilities of a mortal; yet the diligent prince, without aspiring to the unsuitable reputation of profound learning, always reserved some moments of his leisure for the instructive amusement of reading. History, which enlarged his experience, was his favourite study. The annals of Rome, in the long period of eleven hundred years, presented him with a various and splendid picture of human life; and it has been particularly observed that, whenever he perused the cruel acts of Cinna, of Marius, or of Sylla, he warmly expressed his generous detestation of those enemies of humanity and freedom. His disinterested opinion of past events was usefully applied as the rule of his own actions; and Theodosius has deserved the singular commendation that his virtues always seemed to expand with his fortune; the season of his prosperity was that of his moderation; and his clemency appeared the most conspicuous after the danger and success of the civil war. The Moorish Edition: current; Page: [45] guards of the tyrant had been massacred in the first heat of the victory; and a small number of the most obnoxious criminals suffered the punishment of the law. But the emperor shewed himself much more attentive to relieve the innocent than to chastise the guilty. The oppressed subjects of the West, who would have deemed themselves happy in the restoration of their lands, were astonished to receive a sum of money equivalent to their losses; and the liberality of the conqueror supported the aged mother, and educated the orphan daughters, of Maximus.81 A character thus accomplished might almost excuse the extravagant supposition of the orator Pacatus, that, if the elder Brutus could be permitted to revisit the earth, the stern republican would abjure, at the feet of Theodosius, his hatred of kings; and ingenuously confess that such a monarch was the most faithful guardian of the happiness and dignity of the Roman people.82

Yet the piercing eye of the founder of the republic must have discerned two essential imperfections, which might, perhaps, have abated his recent love of despotism. The virtuous mind of Theodosius was often relaxed by indolence,83 and it was sometimes inflamed by passion.84 In the pursuit of an important object, his active courage was capable of the most vigorous exertions; but, as soon as the design was Edition: current; Page: [46] accomplished or the danger was surmounted, the hero sunk into inglorious repose; and, forgetful that the time of a prince is the property of his people, resigned himself to the enjoyment of the innocent, but trifling, pleasures of a luxurious court. The natural disposition of Theodosius was hasty and choleric; and, in a station where none could resist and few would dissuade the fatal consequence of his resentment, the humane monarch was justly alarmed by the consciousness of his infirmity, and of his power. It was the constant study of his life to suppress or regulate the intemperate sallies of passion; and the success of his efforts enhanced the merit of his clemency. But the painful virtue which claims the merit of victory is exposed to the danger of defeat; and the reign of a wise and merciful prince was polluted by an act of cruelty which would stain the annals of Nero or Domitian. Within the space of three years, the inconsistent historian of Theodosius must relate the generous pardon of the citizens of Antioch and the inhuman massacre of the people of Thessalonica.

The lively impatience of the inhabitants of Antioch was never satisfied with their own situation, or with the character or conduct of their successive sovereigns. The Arian subjects of Theodosius deplored the loss of their churches; and, as three rival bishops disputed the throne of Antioch, the sentence which decided their pretensions excited the murmurs of the two unsuccessful congregations. The exigencies of the Gothic war, and the inevitable expense that accompanied the conclusion of the peace, had constrained the emperor to aggravate the weight of the public impositions; and the provinces of Asia, as they had not been involved in the distress, were the less inclined to contribute to the relief, of Europe. The auspicious period now approached of the tenth year of his reign; a festival more grateful to the soldiers, who received a liberal donative, than to the subjects, whose voluntary offerings had been long since converted into an extraordinary and oppressive burthen. The edicts of taxation Edition: current; Page: [47] interrupted the repose and pleasures of Antioch; and the tribunal of the magistrate was besieged by a suppliant crowd; who, in pathetic, but, at first, in respectful language, solicited the redress of their grievances. They were gradually incensed by the pride of their haughty rulers, who treated their complaints as a criminal resistance; their satirical wit degenerated into sharp and angry invectives; and, from the subordinate powers of government, the invectives of the people insensibly rose to attack the sacred character of the emperor himself. Their fury, provoked by a feeble opposition, discharged itself on the images of the Imperial family, which were erected as objects of public veneration in the most conspicuous places of the city. The statues of Theodosius, of his father, of his wife Flaccilla, of his two sons, Arcadius and Honorius, were insolently thrown down from their pedestals, broken in pieces, or dragged with contempt through the streets; and the indignities which were offered to the representations of Imperial majesty, sufficiently declared the impious and treasonable wishes of the populace. The tumult was almost immediately suppressed by the arrival of a body of archers; and Antioch had leisure to reflect on the nature and consequences of her crime.85 According to the duty of his office, the governor of the province despatched a faithful narrative of the whole transaction; while the trembling citizens entrusted the confession of their crime, and the assurance of their repentance, to the zeal of Flavian their bishop and to the eloquence of the senator Hilarius, the friend, and most probably the disciple, of Libanius, whose genius, on this melancholy occasion, was not useless to his country.86 But the two capitals, Antioch and Edition: current; Page: [48] Constantinople, were separated by the distance of eight hundred miles; and, notwithstanding the diligence of the Imperial posts, the guilty city was severely punished by a long and dreadful interval of suspense. Every rumour agitated the hopes and fears of the Antiochians, and they heard with terror that their sovereign, exasperated by the insult which had been offered to his own statues, and, more especially, to those of his beloved wife, had resolved to level with the ground the offending city; and to massacre, without distinction of age or sex, the criminal inhabitants;87 many of whom were actually driven by their apprehensions to seek a refuge in the mountains of Syria and the adjacent desert. At length, twenty-four days after the sedition, the general Hellebicus and Cæsarius, master of the offices, declared the will of the emperor and the sentence of Antioch. That proud capital was degraded from the rank of a city; and the metropolis of the East, stripped of its lands, its privileges, and its revenues, was subjected, under the humiliating denomination of a village, to the jurisdiction of Laodicea.88 The baths, the circus, and the theatres were shut; and, that every source of plenty and pleasure might at the same time be intercepted, the distribution of corn was abolished by the severe instructions of Theodosius. His commissioners then proceeded to inquire into the guilt of individuals; of those who had perpetrated, and of those who had not prevented, the destruction of the sacred statues. The tribunal of Hellebicus and Cæsarius, encompassed with armed soldiers, was erected in the midst of the Forum. The noblest and Edition: current; Page: [49] most wealthy of the citizens of Antioch appeared before them in chains; the examination was assisted by the use of torture, and their sentence was pronounced or suspended, according to the judgment of these extraordinary magistrates. The houses of the criminals were exposed to sale, their wives and children were suddenly reduced, from affluence and luxury, to the most abject distress; and a bloody execution was expected to conclude the horrors of a day89 which the preacher of Antioch, the eloquent Chrysostom, has represented as a lively image of the last and universal judgment of the world. But the ministers of Theodosius performed, with reluctance, the cruel task which had been assigned them; they dropped a gentle tear over the calamities of the people; and they listened with reverence to the pressing solicitations of the monks and hermits, who descended in swarms from the mountains.90 Hellebicus and Cæsarius were persuaded to suspend the execution of their sentence; and it was agreed that the former should remain at Antioch, while the latter returned, with all possible speed, to Constantinople; and presumed once more to consult the will of his sovereign. The resentment of Theodosius had already subsided; the deputies of the people, both the bishop and the orator, had obtained a favourable audience; and the reproaches of the emperor were the complaints of injured friendship rather than the stern menaces of pride and power. A free and general pardon was granted to the city and citizens of Antioch; the prison-doors were thrown open; the senators who despaired of their lives recovered the possession of their houses Edition: current; Page: [50] and estates; and the capital of the East was restored to the enjoyment of her ancient dignity and splendour. Theodosius condescended to praise the senate of Constantinople, who had generously interceded for their distressed brethren; he rewarded the eloquence of Hilarius with the government of Palestine; and dismissed the bishop of Antioch with the warmest expressions of his respect and gratitude. A thousand new statues arose to the clemency of Theodosius; the applause of his subjects was ratified by the approbation of his own heart; and the emperor confessed that, if the exercise of justice is the most important duty, the indulgence of mercy is the most exquisite pleasure, of a sovereign.91

The sedition of Thessalonica is ascribed to a more shameful cause,91a and was productive of much more dreadful consequences. That great city, the metropolis of all the Illyrian provinces, had been protected from the dangers of the Gothic war by strong fortifications and a numerous garrison. Botheric, the general of those troops, and, as it should seem from his name, a Barbarian, had among his slaves a beautiful boy, who excited the impure desires of one of the charioteers of the Circus. The insolent and brutal lover was thrown into prison by the order of Botheric; and he sternly rejected the importunate clamours of the multitude, who, on the day of the public games, lamented the absence of their favourite, and considered the skill of a charioteer as an object of more Edition: current; Page: [51] importance than his virtue. The resentment of the people was embittered by some previous disputes; and, as the strength of the garrison had been drawn away for the service of the Italian war, the feeble remnant, whose numbers were reduced by desertion, could not save the unhappy general from their licentious fury. Botheric, and several of his principal officers, were inhumanly murdered; their mangled bodies were dragged about the streets; and the emperor, who then resided at Milan, was surprised by the intelligence of the audacious and wanton cruelty of the people of Thessalonica. The sentence of a dispassionate judge would have inflicted a severe punishment on the authors of the crime; and the merit of Botheric might contribute to exasperate the grief and indignation of his master. The fiery and choleric temper of Theodosius was impatient of the dilatory forms of a judicial inquiry; and he hastily resolved that the blood of his lieutenant should be expiated by the blood of the guilty people. Yet his mind still fluctuated between the counsels of clemency and of revenge; the zeal of the bishops had almost extorted from the reluctant emperor the promise of a general pardon; his passion was again inflamed by the flattering suggestions of his minister Rufinus; and, after Theodosius had despatched the messengers of death, he attempted, when it was too late, to prevent the execution of his orders. The punishment of a Roman city was blindly committed to the undistinguishing sword of the Barbarians; and the hostile preparations were concerted with the dark and perfidious artifice of an illegal conspiracy. The people of Thessalonica were treacherously invited, in the name of their sovereign, to the games of the Circus; and such was their insatiate avidity for those amusements that every consideration of fear, or suspicion, was disregarded by the numerous spectators. As soon as the assembly was complete, the soldiers, who had secretly been posted round the Circus, received the signal, not of the races, but of a general massacre. The promiscuous carnage continued Edition: current; Page: [52] three hours, without discrimination of strangers or natives, of age or sex, of innocence or guilt; the most moderate accounts state the number of the slain at seven thousand;92 and it is affirmed by some writers, that more than fifteen thousand victims were sacrificed to the manes of Botheric. A foreign merchant, who had probably no concern in his murder, offered his own life and all his wealth, to supply the place of one of his two sons; but, while the father hesitated with equal tenderness, while he was doubtful to choose and unwilling to condemn, the soldiers determined his suspense by plunging their daggers at the same moment into the breasts of the defenceless youths. The apology of the assassins that they were obliged to produce the prescribed number of heads serves only to increase, by an appearance of order and design, the horrors of the massacre which was executed by the commands of Theodosius. The guilt of the emperor is aggravated by his long and frequent residence at Thessalonica. The situation of the unfortunate city, the aspect of the streets and buildings, the dress and faces of the inhabitants, were familiar and even present to his imagination; and Theodosius possessed a quick and lively sense of the existence of the people whom he detroyed.93

The respectful attachment of the emperor for the orthodox clergy had disposed him to love and admire the character of Ambrose; who united all the episcopal virtues in the most eminent degree. The friends and ministers of Theodosius Edition: current; Page: [53] imitated the example of their sovereign; and he observed, with more surprise than displeasure, that all his secret counsels were immediately communicated to the archbishop; who acted from the laudable persuasion that every measure of civil government may have some connection with the glory of God and the interest of the true religion. The monks and populace of Callinicum, an obscure town on the frontier of Persia, excited by their own fanaticism and by that of their bishop, had tumultuously burnt a conventicle of the Valentinians and a synagogue of the Jews. The seditious prelate was condemned by the magistrate of the province either to rebuild the synagogue or to repay the damage, and this moderate sentence was confirmed by the emperor. But it was not confirmed by the archbishop of Milan.94 He dictated an epistle of censure and reproach, more suitable, perhaps, if the emperor had received the mark of circumcision and renounced the faith of his baptism. Ambrose considers the toleration of the Jewish, as the persecution of the Christian, religion; boldly declares that he himself and every true believer would eagerly dispute with the bishop of Callinicum the merit of the deed and the crown of martyrdom; and laments, in the most pathetic terms, that the execution of the sentence would be fatal to the fame and salvation of Theodosius. As this private admonition did not produce an immediate effect, the archbishop, from his pulpit,95 publicly addressed the emperor on his throne;96 Edition: current; Page: [54] nor would he consent to offer the oblation of the altar, till he had obtained from Theodosius a solemn and positive declaration, which secured the impunity of the bishop and monks of Callinicum. The recantation of Theodosius was sincere;97 and, during the term of his residence at Milan, his affection for Ambrose was continually increased by the habits of pious and familiar conversation.

When Ambrose was informed of the massacre of Thessalonica,97a his mind was filled with horror and anguish. He retired into the country to indulge his grief, and to avoid the presence of Theodosius. But, as the archbishop was satisfied that a timid silence would render him the accomplice of his guilt, he represented, in a private letter, the enormity of the crime; which could only be effaced by the tears of penitence. The episcopal vigour of Ambrose was tempered by prudence; and he contented himself with signifying98 an indirect sort of excommunication, by the assurance that he had been warned in a vision not to offer the oblation in the name or in the presence of Theodosius; and by the advice that he would confine himself to the use of prayer, without presuming to approach the altar of Christ or to receive the holy eucharist with those hands that were still polluted with the blood of an innocent people. The emperor was deeply affected by his own reproaches and by those of his spiritual father; and, after he had bewailed the mischievous and irreparable consequences of his rash fury, he proceeded, in the accustomed Edition: current; Page: [55] manner, to perform his devotions in the great church of Milan. He was stopped in the porch by the archbishop; who, in the tone and language of an ambassador of Heaven, declared to his sovereign that private contrition was not sufficient to atone for a public fault or to appease the justice of the offended Deity. Theodosius humbly represented that, if he had contracted the guilt of homicide, David, the man after God’s own heart, had been guilty, not only of murder, but of adultery. “You have imitated David in his crime, imitate then his repentance,” was the reply of the undaunted Ambrose. The rigorous conditions of peace and pardon were accepted; and the public penance of the emperor Theodosius has been recorded as one of the most honourable events in the annals of the church. According to the mildest rules of ecclesiastical discipline which were established in the fourth century the crime of homicide was expiated by the penitence of twenty years;99 and, as it was impossible, in the period of human life, to purge the accumulated guilt of the massacre of Thessalonica, the murderer should have been excluded from the holy communion till the hour of his death. But the archbishop, consulting the maxims of religious policy, granted some indulgence to the rank of his illustrious penitent, who humbled in the dust the pride of the diadem; and the public edification might be admitted as a weighty reason to abridge the duration of his punishment. It was sufficient that the emperor of the Romans, stripped of the ensigns of royalty, should appear in a mournful and suppliant posture; and that, in the midst of the church of Milan, he should humbly solicit, with sighs and tears, the pardon of his sins.100 In this spiritual cure, Edition: current; Page: [56] Ambrose employed the various methods of mildness and severity. After a delay of about eight months, Theodosius was restored to the communion of the faithful; and the edict, which interposes a salutary interval of thirty days between the sentence and the execution, may be accepted as the worthy fruits of his repentance.101 Posterity has applauded the virtuous firmness of the archbishop; and the example of Theodosius may prove the beneficial influence of those principles which could force a monarch, exalted above the apprehension of human punishment, to respect the laws, and ministers, of an invisible Judge. “The prince,” says Montesquieu, “who is actuated by the hopes and fears of religion, may be compared to a lion, docile only to the voice, and tractable to the hand, of his keeper.”102 The motions of the royal animal will therefore depend on the inclination and interest of the man who has acquired such dangerous authority over him; and the priest who holds in his hand the conscience of a king may inflame or moderate his sanguinary passions. The cause of humanity, and that of persecution, have been asserted by the same Ambrose, with equal energy and with equal success.

After the defeat and death of the tyrant of Gaul, the Roman world was in the possession of Theodosius. He derived from the choice of Gratian his honourable title to the provinces of the East; he had acquired the West by the right of conquest; and the three years which he spent in Italy were usefully employed to restore the authority of the laws, and to correct the abuses, which had prevailed with impunity under the usurpation of Maximus and the minority of Valentinian. The Edition: current; Page: [none] Edition: current; Page: [57] name of Valentinian was regularly inserted in the public acts; but the tender age, and doubtful faith, of the son of Justina appeared to require the prudent care of an orthodox guardian; and his specious ambition might have excluded the unfortunate youth, without a struggle and almost without a murmur, from the administration, and even from the inheritance, of the empire. If Theodosius had consulted the rigid maxims of interest and policy, his conduct would have been justified by his friends; but the generosity of his behaviour on this memorable occasion has extorted the applause of his most inveterate enemies. He seated Valentinian on the throne of Milan; and, without stipulating any present or future advantages, restored him to the absolute dominion of all the provinces from which he had been driven by the arms of Maximus. To the restitution of his ample patrimony, Theodosius added the free and generous gift of the countries beyond the Alps, which his successful valour had recovered from the assassin of Gratian.103 Satisfied with the glory which he had acquired, by revenging the death of his benefactor and delivering the West from the yoke of tyranny, the emperor returned from Milan to Constantinople; and, in the peaceful possession of the East, insensibly relapsed into his former habits of luxury and indolence. Theodosius discharged his obligation to the brother, he indulged his conjugal tenderness to the sister, of Valentinian; and posterity, which admires the pure and singular glory of his elevation, must applaud his unrivalled generosity in the use of victory.

Obelisk of Theodosius. From a photograph.

The empress Justina did not long survive her return to Italy; and, though she beheld the triumph of Theodosius, she was not allowed to influence the government of her son.104 Edition: current; Page: [58] The pernicious attachment to the Arian sect, which Valentinian had imbibed from her example and instructions, was soon erased by the lessons of a more orthodox education. His growing zeal for the faith of Nice and his filial reverence for the character and authority of Ambrose disposed the Catholics to entertain the most favourable opinion of the virtues of the young emperor of the West.105 They applauded his chastity and temperance, his contempt of pleasure, his application to business, and his tender affection for his two sisters; which could not, however, seduce his impartial equity to pronounce an unjust sentence against the meanest of his subjects. But this amiable youth, before he had accomplished the twentieth year of his age, was oppressed by domestic treason; and the empire was again involved in the horrors of a civil war. Arbogastes,106 a gallant soldier of the nation of the Franks, held the second rank in the service of Gratian. On the death of his master, he joined the standard of Theodosius; contributed, by his valour and military conduct, to the destruction of the tyrant; and was appointed, after the victory, master-general of the armies of Gaul. His real merit and apparent fidelity had gained the confidence both of the prince and people; his boundless liberality corrupted the allegiance of the troops; and, whilst he was universally esteemed as the pillar of the state, the bold and crafty Barbarian was secretly determined either to rule or to ruin the empire of the West. The important commands of the army were distributed among the Franks; the creatures of Arbogastes were promoted to all the honours and offices of the civil government; the progress Edition: current; Page: [59] of the conspiracy removed every faithful servant from the presence of Valentinian; and the emperor, without power and without intelligence, insensibly sunk into the precarious and dependent condition of a captive.107 The indignation which he expressed, though it might arise only from the rash and impatient temper of youth, may be candidly ascribed to the generous spirit of a prince who felt that he was not unworthy to reign. He secretly invited the archbishop of Milan to undertake the office of a mediator, as the pledge of his sincerity and the guardian of his safety. He contrived to apprise the emperor of the East of his helpless situation; and he declared that, unless Theodosius could speedily march to his assistance, he must attempt to escape from the palace, or rather prison, of Vienna in Gaul, where he had imprudently fixed his residence in the midst of the hostile faction. But the hopes of relief were distant and doubtful; and, as every day furnished some new provocation, the emperor, without strength or counsel, too hastily resolved to risk an immediate contest with his powerful general. He received Arbogastes on the throne; and, as the count approached with some appearance of respect, delivered to him a paper, which dismissed him from all his employments. “My authority,” replied Arbogastes with insulting coolness, “does not depend on the smile, or the frown, of a monarch;” and he contemptuously threw the paper on the ground.108 The indignant monarch snatched at the sword of one of the guards, which he struggled to draw from its scabbard; and it was not without some degree of violence that he was prevented from using the deadly weapon against his enemy, or against himself. A few days after this extraordinary quarrel, in which he had exposed his resentment and his Edition: current; Page: [60] weakness, the unfortunate Valentinian was found strangled in his apartment; and some pains were employed to disguise the manifest guilt of Arbogastes, and to persuade the world that the death of the young emperor had been the voluntary effect of his own despair.109 His body was conducted with decent pomp to the sepulchre of Milan; and the archbishop pronounced a funeral oration, to commemorate his virtue and his misfortunes.110 On this occasion, the humanity of Ambrose tempted him to make a singular breach in his theological system, and to comfort the weeping sisters of Valentinian, by the firm assurance that their pious brother, though he had not received the sacrament of baptism, was introduced, without difficulty, into the mansions of eternal bliss.111

The prudence of Arbogastes had prepared the success of his ambitious designs; and the provincials, in whose breasts every sentiment of patriotism or loyalty was extinguished, expected, with tame resignation, the unknown master, whom the choice of a Frank might place on the Imperial throne. But some remains of pride and prejudice still opposed the elevation of Arbogastes himself; and the judicious Barbarian thought it more advisible to reign under the name of some dependent Roman. He bestowed the purple on the rhetorician Edition: current; Page: [61] Eugenius;112 whom he had already raised from the place of his domestic secretary to the rank of master of the offices.112a In the course both of his private and public service, the count had always approved the attachment and abilities of Eugenius; his learning and eloquence, supported by the gravity of his manners, recommended him to the esteem of the people; and the reluctance with which he seemed to ascend the throne may inspire a favourable prejudice of his virtue and moderation. The ambassadors of the new emperor were immediately despatched to the court of Theodosius, to communicate, with affected grief, the unfortunate accident of the death of Valentinian; and, without mentioning the name of Arbogastes, to request that the monarch of the East would embrace, as his lawful colleague, the respectable citizen who had obtained the unanimous suffrage of the armies and provinces of the West.113 Theodosius was justly provoked that the perfidy of a Barbarian should have destroyed, in a moment, the labours and the fruit of his former victory; and he was excited by the tears of his beloved wife114 to revenge the fate of her unhappy brother and once more to assert by arms the violated majesty of the throne. But, as the second conquest of the West was a task of difficulty and danger, he dismissed, with splendid presents and an ambiguous answer, the ambassadors of Eugenius; and almost two years were consumed Edition: current; Page: [62] in the preparations of the civil war. Before he formed any decisive resolution, the pious emperor was anxious to discover the will of Heaven; and, as the progress of Christianity had silenced the oracles of Delphi and Dodona, he consulted an Egyptian monk, who possessed, in the opinion of the age, the gift of miracles and the knowledge of futurity. Eutropius, one of the favourite eunuchs of the palace of Constantinople, embarked for Alexandria, from whence he sailed up the Nile as far as the city of Lycopolis, or of Wolves, in the remote province of Thebais.115 In the neighbourhood of that city, and on the summit of a lofty mountain, the holy John116 had constructed, with his own hands, an humble cell, in which he had dwelt above fifty years, without opening his door, without seeing the face of a woman, and without tasting any food that had been prepared by fire or any human art. Five days of the week he spent in prayer and meditation; but on Saturdays and Sundays he regularly opened a small window, and gave audience to the crowd of suppliants who successively flowed from every part of the Christian world. The eunuch of Theodosius approached the window with respectful steps, proposed his questions concerning the event of the civil war, and soon returned with a favourable oracle, which animated the courage of the emperor by the assurance of a bloody but infallible victory.117 The accomplishment of the prediction was forwarded by all the means that human Edition: current; Page: [63] prudence could supply. The industry of the two master-generals, Stilicho and Timasius, was directed to recruit the numbers, and to revive the discipline, of the Roman legions. The formidable troops of Barbarians marched under the ensigns of their national chieftains. The Iberian, the Arab, and the Goth, who gazed on each other with mutual astonishment, were enlisted in the service of the same prince; and the renowned Alaric acquired, in the school of Theodosius, the knowledge of the art of war which he afterwards so fatally exerted for the destruction of Rome.118

The emperor of the West, or, to speak more properly, his general Arbogastes, was instructed by the misconduct and misfortune of Maximus, how dangerous it might prove to extend the line of defence against a skilful antagonist, who was free to press or to suspend, to contract or to multiply, his various methods of attack.119 Arbogastes fixed his station on the confines of Italy: the troops of Theodosius were permitted to occupy without resistance the provinces of Pannonia as far as the foot of the Julian Alps; and even the passages of the mountains were negligently, or perhaps artfully, abandoned to the bold invader. He descended from the hills, and beheld, with some astonishment, the formidable camp of the Gauls and Germans that covered with arms and tents the open country which extends to the walls of Aquileia and the banks Edition: current; Page: [64] of the Frigidus,120 or Cold River.121 This narrow theatre of the war, circumscribed by the Alps and the Hadriatic, did not allow much room for the operations of military skill; the spirit of Arbogastes would have disdained a pardon; his guilt extinguished the hope of a negotiation; and Theodosius was impatient to satisfy his glory and revenge by the chastisement of the assassins of Valentinian. Without weighing the natural and artificial obstacles that opposed his efforts, the emperor of the East immediately attacked the fortifications of his rivals, assigned the post of honourable danger to the Goths, and cherished a secret wish that the bloody conflict might diminish the pride and numbers of the conquerors. Ten thousand of those auxiliaries, and Bacurius, general of the Iberians, died bravely on the field of battle. But the victory was not purchased by their blood; the Gauls maintained their advantage; and the approach of night protected the disorderly flight, or retreat, of the troops of Theodosius. The emperor retired to the adjacent hills; where he passed a disconsolate night, without sleep, without provisions, and without hopes;122 except that strong assurance which, under the most desperate circumstances, the independent mind may derive from the contempt of fortune and of life. The triumph of Eugenius was celebrated by the insolent and dissolute joy of his camp; whilst the active and vigilant Arbogastes secretly detached a considerable body of troops, to occupy the passes of the mountains, and to encompass the rear of the Eastern army. Edition: current; Page: [65] The dawn of day discovered to the eyes of Theodosius the extent and the extremity of his danger: but his apprehensions were soon dispelled by a friendly message from the leaders of those troops, who expressed their inclination to desert the standard of the tyrant. The honourable and lucrative rewards, which they stipulated as the price of their perfidy, were granted without hesitation; and, as ink and paper could not easily be procured, the emperor subscribed, on his own tablets, the ratification of the treaty. The spirit of his soldiers was revived by this seasonable reinforcement; and they again marched with confidence, to surprise the camp of a tyrant whose principal officers appeared to distrust either the justice or the success of his arms. In the heat of the battle, a violent tempest,123 such as is often felt among the Alps, suddenly arose from the East. The army of Theodosius was sheltered by their position from the impetuosity of the wind, which blew a cloud of dust in the faces of the enemy, disordered their ranks, wrested their weapons from their hands, and diverted or repelled their ineffectual javelins. This accidental advantage was skilfully improved; the violence of the storm was magnified by the superstitious terrors of the Gauls; and they yielded without shame to the invisible powers of heaven, who seemed to militate on the side of the pious emperor. His victory was decisive; and the deaths of his two rivals were distinguished only by the difference of their characters. The rhetorician Eugenius, who had almost acquired the dominion Edition: current; Page: [66] of the world, was reduced to implore the mercy of the conqueror; and the unrelenting soldiers separated his head from his body, as he lay prostrate at the feet of Theodosius. Arbogastes, after the loss of a battle in which he had discharged the duties of a soldier and a general, wandered several days among the mountains. But, when he was convinced that his cause was desperate, and his escape impracticable, the intrepid Barbarian imitated the example of the ancient Romans, and turned his sword against his own breast. The fate of the empire was determined in a narrow corner of Italy, and the legitimate successor of the house of Valentinian embraced the archbishop of Milan, and graciously received the submission of the provinces of the West. Those provinces were involved in the guilt of rebellion; while the inflexible courage of Ambrose alone had resisted the claims of successful usurpation. With a manly freedom, which might have been fatal to any other subject, the archbishop rejected the gifts of Eugenius, declined his correspondence, and withdrew himself from Milan, to avoid the odious presence of a tyrant, whose downfall he predicted in discreet and ambiguous language. The merit of Ambrose was applauded by the conqueror, who secured the attachment of the people by his alliance with the church; and the clemency of Theodosius is ascribed to the humane intercession of the archbishop of Milan.124

After the defeat of Eugenius, the merit, as well as the authority, of Theodosius was cheerfully acknowledged by all the inhabitants of the Roman world. The experience of his past conduct encouraged the most pleasing expectations of his future reign; and the age of the emperor, which did not Edition: current; Page: [67] exceed fifty years, seemed to extend the prospect of the public felicity. His death, only four months after his victory, was considered by the people as an unforeseen and fatal event, which destroyed in a moment the hopes of the rising generation. But the indulgence of ease and luxury had secretly nourished the principles of disease.125 The strength of Theodosius was unable to support the sudden and violent transition from the palace to the camp; and the increasing symptoms of a dropsy announced the speedy dissolution of the emperor. The opinion, and perhaps the interest, of the public had confirmed the division of the Eastern and Western empires; and the two royal youths, Arcadius and Honorius, who had already obtained, from the tenderness of their father, the title of Augustus, were destined to fill the thrones of Constantinople and of Rome. Those princes were not permitted to share the danger and glory of the civil war;126 but, as soon as Theodosius had triumphed over his unworthy rivals, he called his younger son Honorius to enjoy the fruits of the victory and to receive the sceptre of the West from the hands of his dying father. The arrival of Honorius at Milan was welcomed by a splendid exhibition of the games of the Circus; and the emperor, though he was oppressed by the weight of his disorder, contributed by his presence to the public joy. But the remains of his strength were exhausted by the painful effort which he made to assist at the spectacles of the morning. Honorius supplied, during the rest of the day, the place of his father; and the great Theodosius expired in the ensuing night. Notwithstanding the recent animosities of a civil war, his death was universally lamented. Edition: current; Page: [68] The Barbarians, whom he had vanquished, and the churchmen, by whom he had been subdued, celebrated with loud and sincere applause, the qualities of the deceased emperor which appeared the most valuable in their eyes. The Romans were terrified by the impending dangers of a feeble and divided administration; and every disgraceful moment of the unfortunate reigns of Arcadius and Honorius revived the memory of their irreparable loss.

In the faithful picture of the virtues of Theodosius, his imperfections have not been dissembled: the act of cruelty, and the habits of indolence, which tarnished the glory of one of the greatest of the Roman princes. An historian, perpetually adverse to the fame of Theodosius, has exaggerated his vices and their pernicious effects; he boldly asserts that every rank of subjects imitated the effeminate manners of their sovereign; that every species of corruption polluted the course of public and private life; and that the feeble restraints of order and decency were insufficient to resist the progress of that degenerate spirit which sacrifices, without a blush, the consideration of duty and interest to the base indulgence of sloth and appetite.127 The complaints of contemporary writers, who deplore the increase of luxury and depravation of manners, are commonly expressive of their peculiar temper and situation. There are few observers who possess a clear and comprehensive view of the revolutions of society; and who are capable of discovering the nice and secret springs of action which impel, in the same uniform direction, the blind and capricious passions of a multitude of individuals. If it can be affirmed, with any degree of truth, that the luxury of the Romans was more shameless and dissolute in the reign of Theodosius than in the age of Constantine, perhaps, or of Augustus, the alteration cannot be ascribed to any beneficial improvements, which had gradually increased the stock of national riches. A long period of Edition: current; Page: [69] calamity or decay must have checked the industry, and diminished the wealth, of the people; and their profuse luxury must have been the result of that indolent despair which enjoys the present hour and declines the thoughts of futurity. The uncertain condition of their property discouraged the subjects of Theodosius from engaging in those useful and laborious undertakings which require an immediate expense and promise a slow and distant advantage. The frequent examples of ruin and desolation tempted them not to spare the remains of a patrimony which might, every hour, become the prey of the rapacious Goth. And the mad prodigality which prevails in the confusion of a shipwreck or a siege may serve to explain the progress of luxury amidst the misfortunes and terrors of a sinking nation.

The effeminate luxury which infected the manners of courts and cities had instilled a secret and destructive poison into the camps of the legions; and their degeneracy has been marked by the pen of a military writer who had accurately studied the genuine and ancient principles of Roman discipline. It is the just and important observation of Vegetius that the infantry was invariably covered with defensive armour, from the foundation of the city to the reign of the emperor Gratian. The relaxation of discipline and the disuse of exercise rendered the soldiers less able, and less willing, to support the fatigues of the service; they complained of the weight of the armour, which they seldom wore; and they successfully obtained the permission of laying aside both their cuirasses and their helmets. The heavy weapons of their ancestors, the short sword and the formidable pilum, which had subdued the world, insensibly dropped from their feeble hands. As the use of the shield is incompatible with that of the bow, they reluctantly marched into the field; condemned to suffer either the pain of wounds or the ignominy of flight, and always disposed to prefer the Edition: current; Page: [70] more shameful alternative. The cavalry of the Goths, the Huns and the Alani had felt the benefits, and adopted the use, of defensive armour; and, as they excelled in the management of missile weapons, they easily overwhelmed the naked and trembling legions, whose heads and breasts were exposed, without defence, to the arrows of the Barbarians. The loss of armies, the destruction of cities, and the dishonour of the Roman name ineffectually solicited the successors of Gratian to restore the helmets and cuirasses of the infantry. The enervated soldiers abandoned their own and the public defence; and their pusillanimous indolence may be considered as the immediate cause of the downfall of the empire.128

Edition: current; Page: [71]


Final Destruction of Paganism — Introduction of the Worship of Saints, and Relics, among the Christians

The ruin of Paganism,1 in the age of Theodosius, is perhaps the only example of the total extirpation of any ancient and popular superstition; and may therefore deserve to be considered as a singular event in the history of the human mind. The Christians, more especially the clergy, had impatiently supported the prudent delays of Constantine and the equal toleration of the elder Valentinian; nor could they deem their conquest perfect or secure, as long as their adversaries were permitted to exist. The influence which Ambrose and his brethren had acquired over the youth of Gratian and the piety of Theodosius was employed to infuse the maxims of persecution into the breasts of their Imperial proselytes. Two specious principles of religious jurisprudence were established, from whence they deduced a direct and rigorous conclusion against the subjects of the empire who still adhered to the ceremonies of their ancestors: that the magistrate is, in some measure, guilty of the crimes which he neglects to prohibit or to punish; and, that the idolatrous worship of fabulous deities and real demons is the most abominable crime against the supreme majesty of the Creator. The laws of Moses and the examples of Jewish history2 were hastily, perhaps erroneously, applied by the Edition: current; Page: [72] clergy to the mild and universal reign of Christianity.3 The zeal of the emperors was excited to vindicate their own honour, and that of the Deity; and the temples of the Roman world were subverted, about sixty years after the conversion of Constantine.

From the age of Numa to the reign of Gratian the Romans preserved the regular succession of the several colleges of the sacerdotal order.4 Fifteen Pontiffs exercised their supreme jurisdiction over all things and persons that were consecrated to the service of the gods; and the various questions which perpetually arose in a loose and traditionary system were submitted to the judgment of their holy tribunal. Fifteen grave and learned Augurs observed the face of the heavens, and prescribed the actions of heroes, according to the flight of birds. Fifteen keepers of the Sybilline books (their name of Quindecemvirs was derived from their number) occasionally consulted the history of future, and as it should seem, of contingent, events. Six Vestals devoted their virginity to the guard of the sacred fire and of the unknown pledges of the duration of Rome; which no mortal had been suffered to behold with impunity.5 Seven Edition: current; Page: [73] Epulos6 prepared the table of the gods, conducted the solemn procession, and regulated the ceremonies of the annual festival. The three Flamens7 of Jupiter, of Mars, and of Quirinus were considered as the peculiar ministers of the three most powerful deities who watched over the fate of Rome and of the universe. The King of the Sacrifices represented the person of Numa, and of his successors, in the religious functions which could be performed only by royal hands. The confraternities of the Salians, the Lupercals, &c., practised such rites as might extort a smile of contempt from every reasonable man, with a lively confidence of recommending themselves to the favour of the immortal gods. The authority which the Roman priests had formerly obtained in the counsels of the republic was gradually abolished by the establishment of monarchy and the removal of the seat of empire. But the dignity of their sacred character was still protected by the laws and manners of their country; and they still continued, more especially the college of pontiffs, to exercise in the capital, and sometimes in the provinces, the rights of their ecclesiastical and civil jurisdiction. Their robes of purple, chariots of state, and sumptuous entertainments attracted the admiration of the people; and they received, from the consecrated lands and the public revenue, an ample stipend, which liberally supported the splendour of the priesthood and all the expenses of the religious worship of the state. As the service of the altar was not incompatible with the command of armies, the Romans, after their consulships and triumphs, aspired to the place of pontiff or of augur; the seats of Cicero8 and Pompey were filled, in the Edition: current; Page: [74] fourth century, by the most illustrious members of the senate; and the dignity of their birth reflected additional splendour on their sacerdotal character. The fifteen priests who composed the college of pontiffs enjoyed a more distinguished rank as the companions of their sovereign; and the Christian emperors condescended to accept the robe and ensigns which were appropriated to the office of supreme pontiff. But, when Gratian ascended the throne, more scrupulous, or more enlightened, he sternly rejected those profane symbols;9 applied to the service of the state, or of the church, the revenues of the priests and vestals; abolished their honours and immunities; and dissolved the ancient fabric of Roman superstition, which was supported by the opinions and habits of eleven hundred years.10 Paganism was still the constitutional religion of the senate. The hall, or temple, in which they assembled, was adorned by the statue and altar of Victory;11 a majestic female standing on a globe, with flowing garments, expanded wings, and a crown of laurel in her outstretched hand.12 The senators were sworn on the altar of the goddess to observe the laws of the emperor and of the empire; and a solemn offering of wine and incense was the ordinary prelude of their public deliberations.13 The removal of this ancient monument was the only injury which Constantius had offered to the superstition of the Romans. The altar of Victory was again restored by Julian, tolerated by Valentinian, and once more banished from the Edition: current; Page: [75] senate by the zeal of Gratian.14 But the emperor yet spared the statues of the gods, which were exposed to the public veneration; four hundred and twenty-four temples, or chapels, still remained to satisfy the devotion of the people; and in every quarter of Rome the delicacy of the Christians was offended by the fumes of idolatrous sacrifice.15

But the Christians formed the least numerous party in the senate of Rome;16 and it was only by their absence that they could express their dissent from the legal, though profane, acts of a Pagan majority. In that assembly, the dying embers of freedom were, for a moment, revived and inflamed by the breath of fanaticism. Four respectable deputations were successively voted to the Imperial court17 to represent the grievances of the priesthood and the senate; and to solicit the restoration of the altar of Victory. The conduct of this important business was entrusted to the eloquent Symmachus,18 a wealthy and noble senator, who united the sacred characters of pontiff and augur with the civil dignities of proconsul of Africa and prefect of the city. The breast of Symmachus was animated by the warmest zeal for the cause of expiring Paganism; and his religious antagonists lamented Edition: current; Page: [76] the abuse of his genius, and the inefficacy of his moral virtues.19 The orator, whose petition is extant to the emperor Valentinian, was conscious of the difficulty and danger of the office which he had assumed. He cautiously avoids every topic which might appear to reflect on the religion of his sovereign; humbly declares that prayers and entreaties are his only arms; and artfully draws his arguments from the schools of rhetoric rather than from those of philosophy. Symmachus endeavours to seduce the imagination of a young prince, by displaying the attributes of the goddess of victory; he insinuates that the confiscation of the revenues, which were consecrated to the service of the gods, was a measure unworthy of his liberal and disinterested character; and he maintains that the Roman sacrifices would be deprived of their force and energy, if they were no longer celebrated at the expense, as well as in the name, of the republic. Even scepticism is made to supply an apology for superstition. The great and incomprehensible secret of the universe eludes the inquiry of man. Where reason cannot instruct, custom may be permitted to guide; and every nation seems to consult the dictates of prudence by a faithful attachment to those rites and opinions which have received the sanction of ages. If those ages have been crowned with glory and prosperity, if the devout people has frequently obtained the blessings which they have solicited at the altars of the gods, it must appear still more advisable to persist in the same salutary practice; and not to risk the unknown perils that may attend any rash innovations. The test of antiquity and success was applied with singular advantage to the religion of Numa; and Rome herself, the celestial genius that presided over the Edition: current; Page: [77] fates of the city, is introduced by the orator to plead her own cause before the tribunal of the emperors. “Most excellent princes,” says the venerable matron, “fathers of your country! pity and respect my age, which has hitherto flowed in an uninterrupted course of piety. Since I do not repent, permit me to continue in the practice of my ancient rites. Since I am born free, allow me to enjoy my domestic institutions. This religion has reduced the world under my laws. These rites have repelled Hannibal from the city, and the Gauls from the capitol. Were my grey hairs reserved for such intolerable disgrace? I am ignorant20 of the new system that I am required to adopt; but I am well assured that the correction of old age is always an ungrateful and ignominious office.”21 The fears of the people supplied what the discretion of the orator had suppressed; and the calamities which afflicted, or threatened, the declining empire were unanimously imputed, by the Pagans, to the new religion of Christ and of Constantine.

But the hopes of Symmachus were repeatedly baffled by the firm and dexterous opposition of the archbishop of Milan; who fortified the emperors against the fallacious eloquence of the advocate of Rome. In this controversy, Ambrose condescends to speak the language of a philosopher, and to ask, with some contempt, why it should be thought necessary to introduce an imaginary and invisible power, as the cause of those victories which were sufficiently explained by the valour and discipline of the legions? He justly derides the absurd reverence for antiquity which could only tend to discourage the improvements of art and to replunge the human race into Edition: current; Page: [78] their original barbarism. From thence gradually rising to a more lofty and theological tone, he pronounces that Christianity alone is the doctrine of truth and salvation, and that every mode of Polytheism conducts its deluded votaries, through the paths of error, to the abyss of eternal perdition.22 Arguments like these, when they were suggested by a favourite bishop, had power to prevent the restoration of the altar of Victory; but the same arguments fell, with much more energy and effect, from the mouth of a conqueror; and the gods of antiquity were dragged in triumph at the chariot-wheels of Theodosius.23 In a full meeting of the senate, the emperor proposed, according to the forms of the republic, the important question, Whether the worship of Jupiter or that of Christ should be the religion of the Romans?24 The liberty of suffrages, which he affected to allow, was destroyed by the hopes and fears that his presence inspired; and the arbitrary exile of Symmachus was a recent admonition that it might be dangerous to oppose the wishes of the monarch. On a regular division of the senate, Jupiter was condemned and degraded by the sense of a very large majority; and it is rather surprising that any members should be found bold enough to declare by their speeches and votes that they were still attached to the interest of an abdicated deity.25 Edition: current; Page: [79] The hasty conversion of the senate must be attributed either to supernatural or to sordid motives; and many of these reluctant proselytes betrayed, on every favourable occasion, their secret disposition to throw aside the mask of odious dissimulation. But they were gradually fixed in the new religion, as the cause of the ancient became more hopeless; they yielded to the authority of the emperor, to the fashion of the times, and to the entreaties of their wives and children,26 who were instigated and governed by the clergy of Rome and the monks of the East. The edifying example of the Anician family was soon imitated by the rest of the nobility: the Bassi, the Paullini, the Gracchi, embraced the Christian religion; and “the luminaries of the world, the venerable assembly of Catos (such are the high-flown expressions of Prudentius), were impatient to strip themselves of their pontifical garment: to cast the skin of the old serpent; to assume the snowy robes of baptismal innocence; and to humble the pride of the consular fasces before the tombs of the martyrs.”27 The citizens, who subsisted by their own industry, and the populace, who were supported by the public liberality, filled the churches of the Lateran and Vatican with an incessant throng of devout Edition: current; Page: [80] proselytes. The decrees of the senate, which proscribed the worship of idols, were ratified by the general consent of the Romans;28 the splendour of the capitol was defaced, and the solitary temples were abandoned to ruin and contempt.29 Rome submitted to the yoke of the Gospel; and the vanquished provinces had not yet lost their reverence for the name and authority of Rome.

The filial piety of the emperors themselves engaged them to proceed, with some caution and tenderness, in the reformation of the eternal city. Those absolute monarchs acted with less regard to the prejudices of the provincials. The pious labour, which had been suspended near twenty years since the death of Constantius,30 was vigorously resumed, and finally accomplished, by the zeal of Theodosius. Whilst that warlike prince yet struggled with the Goths, not for the glory, but for the safety, of the republic, he ventured to offend a considerable party of his subjects, by some acts which might perhaps secure the protection of Heaven, but which must seem rash and unseasonable in the eye of human prudence. The success of his first experiments against the Pagans encouraged the pious emperor to reiterate and enforce his edicts of proscription; the same laws which had been originally published in the provinces of the East were applied, after the defeat of Maximus, to the whole extent of the Western empire; and every victory of the orthodox Theodosius contributed to the triumph of the Edition: current; Page: [81] Christian and Catholic faith.31 He attacked superstition in her most vital part by prohibiting the use of sacrifices, which he declared to be criminal as well as infamous; and, if the terms of his edicts more strictly condemned the impious curiosity which examined the entrails of the victims,32 every subsequent explanation tended to involve, in the same guilt, the general practice of immolation, which essentially constituted the religion of the Pagans. As the temples had been erected for the purpose of sacrifice, it was the duty of a benevolent prince to remove from his subjects the dangerous temptation of offending against the laws which he had enacted. A special commission was granted to Cynegius, the Prætorian prefect of the East, and afterwards to the counts Jovius and Gaudentius, two officers of distinguished rank in the West; by which they were directed to shut the temples, to seize or destroy the instruments of idolatry, to abolish the privileges of the priests, and to confiscate the consecrated property for the benefit of the emperor, of the church, or of the army.33 Here the desolation might have stopped, and the naked edifices, which were no longer employed in the service of idolatry, might have been protected from the destructive rage of fanaticism. Many of those temples were the most splendid and beautiful monuments of Grecian architecture: and the emperor himself was interested not to deface the splendour of his own cities or to diminish the value of his own possessions. Those stately edifices might be suffered to remain as so many lasting trophies of the victory of Christ. In the decline of the Edition: current; Page: [82] arts, they might be usefully converted into magazines, manufactures, or places of public assembly; and perhaps, when the walls of the temple had been sufficiently purified by holy rites, the worship of the true Deity might be allowed to expiate the ancient guilt of idolatry. But, as long as they subsisted, the Pagans fondly cherished the secret hope that an auspicious revolution, a second Julian, might again restore the altars of the gods; and the earnestness with which they addressed their unavailing prayers to the throne34 increased the zeal of the Christian reformers to extirpate, without mercy, the root of superstition. The laws of the emperors exhibit some symptoms of a milder disposition;35 but their cold and languid efforts were insufficient to stem the torrent of enthusiasm and rapine, which was conducted, or rather impelled, by the spiritual rulers of the church. In Gaul, the holy Martin, bishop of Tours,36 marched at the head of his faithful monks, to destroy the idols, the temples, and the consecrated trees of his extensive diocese; and in the execution of this arduous task, the prudent reader will judge whether Martin was supported by the aid of miraculous powers or of carnal weapons. In Syria, the divine and excellent Marcellus,37 as he is styled by Theodoret, a bishop animated with Edition: current; Page: [83] apostolic fervour, resolved to level with the ground the stately temples within the diocese of Apamea. His attack was resisted by the skill and solidity with which the temple of Jupiter had been constructed. The building was seated on an eminence; on each of the four sides, the lofty roof was supported by fifteen massy columns, sixteen feet in circumference; and the large stones, of which they were composed, were firmly cemented with lead and iron. The force of the strongest and sharpest tools had been tried without effect. It was found necessary to undermine the foundations of the columns, which fell down as soon as the temporary wooden props had been consumed with fire; and the difficulties of the enterprise are described under the allegory of a black demon, who retarded, though he could not defeat, the operations of the Christian engineers. Elated with victory, Marcellus took the field in person against the powers of darkness; a numerous troop of soldiers and gladiators marched under the episcopal banner, and he successively attacked the villages and country temples of the diocese of Apamea. Whenever any resistance or danger was apprehended, the champion of the faith, whose lameness would not allow him either to fight or fly, placed himself at a convenient distance, beyond the reach of darts. But this prudence was the occasion of his death; he was surprised and slain by a body of exasperated rustics; and the synod of the province pronounced, without hesitation, that the holy Marcellus had sacrificed his life in the cause of God. In the support of this cause, the monks, who rushed with tumultuous fury from the desert, distinguished themselves by their zeal and diligence. They deserved the enmity of the Pagans; and some of them might deserve the reproaches of avarice and intemperance: of avarice, which they gratified with holy plunder, and of intemperance, which they indulged at the expense of the people, who foolishly admired their tattered garments, loud psalmody, and artificial paleness.38 Edition: current; Page: [84] A small number of temples was protected by the fears, the venality, the taste, or the prudence, of the civil and ecclesiastical governors. The temple of the celestial Venus at Carthage, whose sacred precincts formed a circumference of two miles, was judiciously converted into a Christian church;39 and a similar consecration has preserved inviolate the majestic dome of the Pantheon at Rome.40 But, in almost every province of the Roman world, an army of fanatics, without authority and without discipline, invaded the peaceful inhabitants; and the ruin of the fairest structures of antiquity still displays the ravages of those Barbarians, who alone had time and inclination to execute such laborious destruction.

In this wide and various prospect of devastation, the spectator may distinguish the ruins of the temple of Serapis, at Alexandria.41 Serapis does not appear to have been one of the native gods, or monsters, who sprung from the fruitful soil of superstitious Egypt.42 The first of the Ptolemies had been commanded, by a dream, to import the mysterious stranger from the coast of Pontus, where he had been long adored by the inhabitants of Sinope; but his attributes and his reign were so imperfectly understood that it became a subject of dispute, whether he represented the bright orb of Edition: current; Page: [85] day or the gloomy monarch of the subterraneous regions.43 The Egyptians, who were obstinately devoted to the religion of their fathers, refused to admit this foreign deity within the walls of their cities.44 But the obsequious priests, who were seduced by the liberality of the Ptolemies, submitted, without resistance, to the power of the god of Pontus; an honourable and domestic genealogy was provided; and this fortunate usurper was introduced into the throne and bed of Osiris,45 the husband of Isis, and the celestial monarch of Egypt. Alexandria, which claimed his peculiar protection, gloried in the name of the city of Serapis. His temple,46 which rivalled the pride and magnificence of the capitol, was erected on the spacious summit of an artificial mount, raised one hundred steps above the level of the adjacent parts of the city; and the interior cavity was strongly supported by arches, and distributed into vaults and subterraneous apartments. The consecrated buildings were surrounded by a quadrangular portico; the stately halls, and exquisite statues, displayed the triumph of the arts; and the treasures of ancient learning were preserved in the famous Alexandrian library, which had arisen with new splendour from its ashes.47 After the edicts Edition: current; Page: [86] of Theodosius had severely prohibited the sacrifices of the Pagans, they were still tolerated in the city and temple of Serapis; and this singular indulgence was imprudently ascribed to the superstitious terrors of the Christians themselves: as if they had feared to abolish those ancient rites which could alone secure the inundations of the Nile, the harvests of Egypt, and the subsistence of Constantinople.48

At that time49 the archiepiscopal throne of Alexandria was filled by Theophilus,50 the perpetual enemy of peace and virtue; a bold, bad man, whose hands were alternately polluted with gold and with blood. His pious indignation was excited by the honours of Serapis; and the insults which he offered to an ancient chapel of Bacchus51 convinced the Pagans that he meditated a more important and dangerous enterprise. In the tumultuous capital of Egypt, the slightest provocation was sufficient to inflame a civil war. The votaries of Serapis, whose strength and numbers were much inferior to those of their antagonists, rose in arms at the instigation of the philosopher Olympius,52 who exhorted them to die in the defence of the altars of the gods. These Pagan fanatics fortified themselves in the temple, or rather fortress, of Serapis; repelled the besiegers by daring sallies and a Edition: current; Page: [87] resolute defence; and, by the inhuman cruelties which they exercised on their Christian prisoners, obtained the last consolation of despair. The efforts of the prudent magistrate were usefully exerted for the establishment of a truce till the answer of Theodosius should determine the fate of Serapis. The two parties assembled, without arms, in the principal square; and the Imperial rescript was publicly read. But, when a sentence of destruction against the idols of Alexandria was pronounced, the Christians set up a shout of joy and exultation, whilst the unfortunate Pagans, whose fury had given way to consternation, retired with hasty and silent steps, and eluded, by their flight or obscurity, the resentment of their enemies. Theophilus proceeded to demolish the temple of Serapis, without any other difficulties than those which he found in the weight and solidity of the materials; but these obstacles proved so insuperable that he was obliged to leave the foundations and to content himself with reducing the edifice itself to a heap of rubbish; a part of which was soon afterwards cleared away, to make room for a church erected in honour of the Christian martyrs. The valuable library of Alexandria was pillaged or destroyed; and, near twenty years afterwards, the appearance of the empty shelves excited the regret and indignation of every spectator whose mind was not totally darkened by religious prejudice.53 The compositions of ancient genius, so many of which have irretrievably perished, might surely have been excepted from the wreck of idolatry, for the amusement and instruction of succeeding ages; and either the zeal or the avarice of the archbishop54 Edition: current; Page: [88] might have been satiated with the rich spoils which were the reward of his victory. While the images and vases of gold and silver were carefully melted, and those of a less valuable metal were contemptuously broken and cast into the streets, Theophilus laboured to expose the frauds and vices of the ministers of the idols; their dexterity in the management of the loadstone; their secret methods of introducing an human actor into a hollow statue; and their scandalous abuse of the confidence of devout husbands and unsuspecting females.55 Charges like these may seem to deserve some degree of credit, as they are not repugnant to the crafty and interested spirit of superstition. But the same spirit is equally prone to the base practice of insulting and calumniating a fallen enemy; and our belief is naturally checked by the reflection that it is much less difficult to invent a fictitious story than to support a practical fraud. The colossal statue of Serapis56 was involved in the ruin of his temple and religion. A great number of plates of different metals, artificially joined together, composed the majestic figure of the Deity, who touched on either side the walls of the sanctuary. The aspect of Serapis, his sitting posture, and the sceptre which he bore in his left hand were extremely similar to the ordinary representations of Jupiter. He was distinguished from Jupiter by the basket, or bushel, which was placed on his head; and by the emblematic monster, which he held in his right hand: the head and body of a serpent branching into three tails, which were again terminated by the triple heads of a dog, a lion, and a wolf. It was Edition: current; Page: [89] confidently affirmed that, if any impious hand should dare to violate the majesty of the god, the heavens and the earth would instantly return to their original chaos. An intrepid solider, animated by zeal and armed with a weighty battle-axe, ascended the ladder; and even the Christian multitude expected, with some anxiety, the event of the combat.57 He aimed a vigorous stroke against the cheek of Serapis; the cheek fell to the ground; the thunder was still silent, and both the heavens and the earth continued to preserve their accustomed order and tranquillity. The victorious soldier repeated his blows; the huge idol was overthrown, and broken in pieces; and the limbs of Serapis were ignominiously dragged through the streets of Alexandria. His mangled carcase was burnt in the Amphitheatre, amidst the shouts of the populace; and many persons attributed their conversion to this discovery of the impotence of their tutelar deity. The popular modes of religion that propose any visible and material objects of worship have the advantage of adapting and familiarising themselves to the senses of mankind; but this advantage is counterbalanced by the various and inevitable accidents to which the faith of the idolater is exposed. It is scarcely possible that, in every disposition of mind, he should preserve his implicit reverence for the idols or the relics which the naked eye and the profane hand are unable to distinguish from the most common productions of art or nature; and, if, in the hour of danger, their secret and miraculous virtue does not operate for their own preservation, he scorns the vain apologies of his priest, and justly derides the object, and the folly, of Edition: current; Page: [90] his superstitious attachment.58 After the fall of Serapis, some hopes were still entertained by the Pagans that the Nile would refuse his annual supply to the impious masters of Egypt; and the extraordinary delay of the inundation seemed to announce the displeasure of the river-god. But this delay was soon compensated by the rapid swell of the waters. They suddenly rose to such an unusual height as to comfort the discontented party with the pleasing expectation of a deluge; till the peaceful river again subsided to the well-known and fertilising level of sixteen cubits, or about thirty English feet.59

The temples of the Roman empire were deserted, or destroyed; but the ingenious superstition of the Pagans still attempted to elude the laws of Theodosius, by which all sacrifices had been severely prohibited. The inhabitants of the country, whose conduct was less exposed to the eye of malicious curiosity, disguised their religious, under the appearance of convivial, meetings. On the days of solemn festivals, they assembled in great numbers under the spreading shade of some consecrated trees; sheep and oxen were slaughtered and roasted; and this rural entertainment was sanctified by the use of incense, and by the hymns which were sung in honour of the gods. But it was alleged that, as no part of the animal was made a burnt-offering, as no altar was provided to receive the blood, and as the previous oblation of salt cakes and the concluding ceremony of libations were carefully omitted, these festal meetings did not involve the guests in the guilt, or penalty, of an illegal sacrifice.60 Edition: current; Page: [91] Whatever might be the truth of the facts or the merit of the distinction,61 these vain pretences were swept away by the last edict of Theodosius; which inflicted a deadly wound on the superstition of the Pagans.62 This prohibitory law is expressed in the most absolute and comprehensive terms. “It is our will and pleasure,” says the emperor, “that none of our subjects, whether magistrates or private citizens, however exalted or however humble may be their rank and condition, shall presume, in any city or in any place, to worship an inanimate idol by the sacrifice of a guiltless victim.” The act of sacrificing and the practice of divination by the entrails of the victim are declared (without any regard to the object of the inquiry) a crime of high-treason against the state; which can be expiated only by the death of the guilty. The rites of Pagan superstition, which might seem less bloody and atrocious, are abolished, as highly injurious to the truth and honour of religion; luminaries, garlands, frankincense, and libations of wine are specially enumerated and condemned; and the harmless claims of the domestic genius, of the household gods, are included in this rigorous proscription. The use of any of these profane and illegal ceremonies subjects the offender to the forfeiture of the house or estate where they have been performed; and, if he has artfully chosen the property of another for the scene of his impiety, he is compelled Edition: current; Page: [92] to discharge, without delay, a heavy fine of twenty-five pounds of gold, or more than one thousand pounds sterling. A fine, not less considerable, is imposed on the connivance of the secret enemies of religion, who shall neglect the duty of their respective stations, either to reveal or to punish the guilt of idolatry. Such was the persecuting spirit of the laws of Theodosius, which were repeatedly enforced by his sons and grandsons, with the loud and unanimous applause of the Christian world.63

In the cruel reigns of Decius and Diocletian, Christianity had been proscribed, as a revolt from the ancient and hereditary religion of the empire; and the unjust suspicions which were entertained of a dark and dangerous faction were, in some measure, countenanced by the inseparable union and rapid conquests of the Catholic church. But the same excuses of fear and ignorance cannot be applied to the Christian emperors, who violated the precepts of humanity and of the Gospel. The experience of ages had betrayed the weakness, as well as folly, of Paganism; the light of reason and of faith had already exposed, to the greatest part of mankind, the vanity of idols; and the declining sect, which still adhered to their worship, might have been permitted to enjoy, in peace and obscurity, the religious customs of their ancestors. Had the Pagans been animated by the undaunted zeal which possessed the minds of the primitive believers, the triumph of the church must have been stained with blood; and the martyrs of Jupiter and Apollo might have embraced the glorious opportunity of devoting their lives Edition: current; Page: [93] and fortunes at the foot of their altars. But such obstinate zeal was not congenial to the loose and careless temper of Polytheism. The violent and repeated strokes of the orthodox princes were broken by the soft and yielding substance against which they were directed; and the ready obedience of the Pagans protected them from the pains and penalties of the Theodosian Code.64 Instead of asserting that the authority of the gods was superior to that of the emperor, they desisted, with a plaintive murmur, from the use of those sacred rites which their sovereign had condemned. If they were sometimes tempted, by a sally of passion or by the hopes of concealment, to indulge their favourite superstition, their humble repentance disarmed the severity of the Christian magistrate; and they seldom refused to atone for their rashness by submitting, with some secret reluctance, to the yoke of the Gospel. The churches were filled with the increasing multitude of these unworthy proselytes, who had conformed, from temporal motives, to the reigning religion; and, whilst they devoutly imitated the postures, and recited the prayers, of the faithful, they satisfied their conscience by the silent and sincere invocation of the gods of antiquity.65 If the Pagans wanted patience to suffer, they wanted spirit to resist; and the scattered myriads, who deplored the ruin of the temples, yielded, without a contest, to the fortune of their adversaries. The disorderly opposition66 of the peasants of Syria, and the populace of Alexandria, to the rage of private fanaticism was silenced by the name and Edition: current; Page: [94] authority of the emperor. The Pagans of the West, without contributing to the elevation of Eugenius, disgraced, by their partial attachment, the cause and character of the usurper. The clergy vehemently exclaimed that he aggravated the crime of rebellion by the guilt of apostacy; that, by his permission, the altar of Victory was again restored; and that the idolatrous symbols of Jupiter and Hercules were displayed in the field against the invincible standard of the cross. But the vain hopes of the Pagans were soon annihilated by the defeat of Eugenius; and they were left exposed to the resentment of the conqueror, who laboured to deserve the favour of heaven by the extirpation of idolatry.67

A nation of slaves is always prepared to applaud the clemency of their master, who, in the abuse of absolute power, does not proceed to the last extremes of injustice and oppression. Theodosius might undoubtedly have proposed to his Pagan subjects the alternative of baptism or of death; and the eloquent Libanius has praised the moderation of a prince, who never enacted, by any positive law, that all his subjects should immediately embrace and practise the religion of their sovereign.68 The profession of Christianity was not made an essential qualification for the enjoyment of the civil rights of society, nor were any peculiar hardships imposed on the sectaries who credulously received the fables of Ovid and obstinately rejected the miracles of the Gospel. The palace, the schools, the army, and the senate were filled with declared and devout Pagans; they obtained, without distinction, the civil and military honours of the empire. Theodosius distinguished his liberal regard for virtue and genius, by the consular dignity which he bestowed Edition: current; Page: [95] on Symmachus,69 and by the personal friendship which he expressed to Libanius;70 and the two eloquent apologists of Paganism were never required either to change or to dissemble their religious opinions. The Pagans were indulged in the most licentious freedom of speech and writing; the historical and philosophical remains of Eunapius, Zosimus,71 and the fanatic teachers of the school of Plato, betray the most furious animosity, and contain the sharpest invectives, against the sentiments and conduct of their victorious adversaries. If these audacious libels were publicly known, we must applaud the good sense of the Christian princes who viewed, with a smile of contempt, the last struggles of superstition and despair.72 But the Imperial laws which prohibited the sacrifices and ceremonies of Paganism were rigidly executed; and every hour contributed to destroy the influence of a religion which was supported by custom rather than by argument. The devotion of the poet or the philosopher may be secretly nourished by prayer, meditation, and study; but the exercise of public worship appears to be the only solid foundation of the religious sentiments of the people, which derive their force from imitation and habit. The interruption of that public exercise may consummate, Edition: current; Page: [96] in the period of a few years, the important work of a national revolution. The memory of theological opinions cannot long be preserved without the artificial helps of priests, of temples, and of books.73 The ignorant vulgar, whose minds are still agitated by the blind hopes and terrors of superstition, will be soon persuaded by their superiors to direct their vows to the reigning deities of the age; and will insensibly imbibe an ardent zeal for the support and propagation of the new doctrine, which spiritual hunger at first compelled them to accept. The generation that arose in the world after the promulgation of the Imperial laws was attracted within the pale of the Catholic church: and so rapid, yet so gentle, was the fall of Paganism that only twenty-eight years after the death of Theodosius the faint and minute vestiges were no longer visible to the eye of the legislator.74

The ruin of the Pagan religion is described by the sophists as a dreadful and amazing prodigy which covered the earth with darkness and restored the ancient dominion of chaos and of night. They relate, in solemn and pathetic strains, that the temples were converted into sepulchres, and that the holy places, which had been adorned by the statues of the gods, were basely polluted by the relics of Christian martyrs. “The monks” (a race of filthy animals, to whom Eunapius is tempted to refuse the name of men) “are the authors of the new worship, which, in the place of one of those deities, who are conceived by the understanding, has substituted the meanest and most contemptible slaves. The heads, salted and pickled, of those infamous malefactors, who for the Edition: current; Page: [97] multitude of their crimes have suffered a just and ignominious death; their bodies, still marked by the impression of the lash, and the scars of those tortures which were inflicted by the sentence of the magistrate; such” (continues Eunapius) “are the gods which the earth produces in our days; such are the martyrs, the supreme arbitrators of our prayers and petitions to the Deity, whose tombs are now consecrated as the objects of the veneration of the people.”75 Without approving the malice, it is natural enough to share the surprise, of the Sophist, the spectator of a revolution which raised those obscure victims of the laws of Rome to the rank of celestial and invisible protectors of the Roman empire. The grateful respect of the Christians for the martyrs of the faith was exalted, by time and victory, into religious adoration; and the most illustrious of the saints and prophets were deservedly associated to the honours of the martyrs. One hundred and fifty years after the glorious deaths of St. Peter and St. Paul, the Vitican and the Ostian road were distinguished by the tombs, or rather by the trophies, of those spiritual heroes.76 In the age which followed the conversion of Constantine, the emperors, the consuls, and the generals of armies devoutly visited the sepulchres of a tent-maker and a fisherman;77 and their venerable bones were deposited under the altars of Christ, on which the bishops of the royal city continually offered the unbloody sacrifice.78 The new Edition: current; Page: [98] capital of the Eastern world, unable to produce any ancient and domestic trophies, was enriched by the spoils of dependent provinces. The bodies of St. Andrew, St. Luke, and St. Timothy had reposed, near three hundred years, in the obscure graves from whence they were sent, in solemn pomp, to the church of the Apostles, which the magnificence of Constantine had founded on the banks of the Thracian Bosphorus.79 About fifty years afterwards, the same banks were honoured by the presence of Samuel, the judge and prophet of the people of Israel. His ashes, deposited in a golden vase and covered with a silken veil, were delivered by the bishops into each other’s hands. The relics of Samuel were received by the people with the same joy and reverence which they would have shown to the living prophet; the highways, from Palestine to the gates of Constantinople, were filled with an uninterrupted procession; and the emperor Arcadius himself, at the head of the most illustrious members of the clergy and senate, advanced to meet his extraordinary guest, who had always deserved and claimed the homage of kings.80 The example of Rome and Constantinople confirmed the faith and discipline of the Catholic world. The honours of the saints and martyrs, after a feeble and ineffectual murmur of profane reason,81 were Edition: current; Page: [99] universally established; and in the age of Ambrose and Jerom, something was still deemed wanting to the sanctity of a Christian church, till it had been consecrated by some portion of holy relics, which fixed and inflamed the devotion of the faithful.

In the long period of twelve hundred years which elapsed between the reign of Constantine and the reformation of Luther the worship of saints and relics corrupted the pure and perfect simplicity of the Christian model; and some symptoms of degeneracy may be observed even in the first generations which adopted and cherished this pernicious innovation.

I. The satisfactory experience that the relics of saints were more valuable than gold or precious stones82 stimulated the clergy to multiply the treasures of the church. Without much regard for truth or probability, they invented names for skeletons and actions for names. The fame of the apostles, and of the holy men who had imitated their virtues, was darkened by religious fiction. To the invincible band of genuine and primitive martyrs, they added myriads of imaginary heroes, who had never existed except in the fancy of crafty or credulous legendaries; and there is reason to suspect that Tours might not be the only diocese in which the bones of a malefactor were adored instead of those of a saint.83 A superstitious practice, which tended to increase the temptations of fraud and credulity, insensibly extinguished the light of history and of reason in the Christian world.

II. But the progress of superstition would have been Edition: current; Page: [100] much less rapid and victorious, if the faith of the people had not been assisted by the seasonable aid of visions and miracles, to ascertain the authenticity and virtue of the most suspicious relics. In the reign of the younger Theodosius, Lucian,84 a presbyter of Jerusalem, and the ecclesiastical minister of the village of Caphargamala, about twenty miles from the city, related a very singular dream, which, to remove his doubts, had been repeated on three successive Saturdays. A venerable figure stood before him, in the silence of the night, with a long beard, a white robe, and a gold rod; announced himself by the name of Gamaliel, and revealed to the astonished presbyter that his own corpse, with the bodies of his son Abibas, his friend Nicodemus, and the illustrious Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian faith, were secretly buried in the adjacent field. He added, with some impatience, that it was time to release himself and his companions from their obscure prison; that their appearance would be salutary to a distressed world; and that they had made choice of Lucian to inform the bishop of Jerusalem of their situation and their wishes. The doubts and difficulties which still retarded this important discovery were successively removed by new visions; and the ground was opened by the bishop, in the presence of an innumerable multitude. The coffins of Gamaliel, of his son, and of his friend were found in regular order; but when the fourth coffin, which contained the remains of Stephen, was shown to the light, the earth trembled, and an odour, such as that of paradise, was smelt, which instantly cured the various diseases of seventy-three of the assistants. The companions of Stephen were left in their Edition: current; Page: [101] peaceful residence of Caphargamala; but the relics of the first martyr were transported in solemn procession to a church constructed in their honour on Mount Sion; and the minute particles of those relics, a drop of blood,85 or the scrapings of a bone were acknowledged in almost every province of the Roman world to possess a divine and miraculous virtue. The grave and learned Augustin,86 whose understanding scarcely admits the excuse of credulity, has attested the innumerable prodigies which were performed in Africa by the relics of St. Stephen; and this marvellous narrative is inserted in the elaborate work of the City of God, which the bishop of Hippo designed as a solid and immortal proof of the truth of Christianity. Augustin solemnly declares that he has selected those miracles only which were publicly certified by the persons who were either the objects, or the spectators, of the power of the martyr. Many prodigies were omitted or forgotten; and Hippo had been less favourably treated than the other cities of the province. And yet the bishop enumerates above seventy miracles, of which three were resurrections from the dead, in the space of two years and within the limits of his own diocese.87 If we enlarge our view to all the dioceses and all the saints of the Christian world, it will not be easy to calculate the fables and the errors which issued from this inexhaustible source. But we may surely be allowed to observe that a miracle, in Edition: current; Page: [102] that age of superstition and credulity, lost its name and its merit, since it could scarcely be considered as a deviation from the ordinary and established laws of nature.

III. The innumerable miracles of which the tombs of the martyrs were the perpetual theatre revealed to the pious believer the actual state and constitution of the invisible world; and his religious speculations appeared to be founded on the firm basis of fact and experience. Whatever might be the condition of vulgar souls, in the long interval between the dissolution and the resurrection of their bodies, it was evident that the superior spirits of the saints and martyrs did not consume that portion of their existence in silent and inglorious sleep.88 It was evident (without presuming to determine the place of their habitation or the nature of their felicity) that they enjoyed the lively and active consciousness of their happiness, their virtue, and their powers; and that they had already secured the possession of their eternal reward. The enlargement of their intellectual faculties surpassed the measure of the human imagination; since it was proved by experience that they were capable of hearing and understanding the various petitions of their numerous votaries; who, in the same moment of time, but in the most distant parts of the world, invoked the name and assistance of Stephen or of Martin.89 The confidence of their petitioners was founded on the persuasion that the saints, who reigned with Christ, cast an eye of pity upon earth; that they were Edition: current; Page: [103] warmly interested in the prosperity of the Catholic church; and that the individuals, who imitated the example of their faith and piety, were the peculiar and favourite objects of their most tender regard. Sometimes, indeed, their friendship might be influenced by considerations of a less exalted kind: they viewed, with partial affection, the places which had been consecrated by their birth, their residence, their death, their burial, or the possession of their relics. The meaner passions of pride, avarice, and revenge may be deemed unworthy of a celestial breast; yet the saints themselves condescended to testify their grateful approbation of the liberality of their votaries; and the sharpest bolts of punishment were hurled against those impious wretches who violated their magnificent shrines or disbelieved their supernatural power.90 Atrocious, indeed, must have been the guilt, and strange would have been the scepticism, of those men, if they had obstinately resisted the proofs of a divine agency which the elements, the whole range of the animal creation, and even the subtle and invisible operations of the human mind were compelled to obey.91 The immediate, and almost instantaneous, effects, that were supposed to follow the prayer or the offence, satisfied the Christians of the ample measure of favour and authority which the saints enjoyed in the presence of the Supreme God; and it seemed almost superfluous to inquire whether they were continually obliged to intercede before the throne of grace, or whether they might not be permitted to exercise, according to the dictates of their benevolence and justice, the delegated powers of their subordinate ministry. The imagination, which had been raised by a painful effort to the Edition: current; Page: [104] contemplation and worship of the Universal Cause, eagerly embraced such inferior objects of adoration as were more proportioned to its gross conceptions and imperfect faculties. The sublime and simple theology of the primitive Christians was gradually corrupted; and the monarchy of heaven, already clouded by metaphysical subtleties, was degraded by the introduction of a popular mythology, which tended to restore the reign of polytheism.92

IV. As the objects of religion were gradually reduced to the standard of the imagination, the rites and ceremonies were introduced that seemed most powerfully to affect the senses of the vulgar. If, in the beginning of the fifth century,93 Tertullian or Lactantius94 had been suddenly raised from the dead, to assist at the festival of some popular saint or martyr,95 they would have gazed with astonishment and indignation on the profane spectacle, which had succeeded to the pure and spiritual worship of a Christian congregation. As soon as the doors of the church were thrown open, they must have been offended by the smoke of incense, the perfume of flowers, and the glare of lamps and tapers, which diffused, at noon-day, a gaudy, superfluous, and, in their opinion, a sacrilegious light. If they approached the balustrade of the altar, they made their way through the prostrate crowd, Edition: current; Page: [105] consisting, for the most part, of strangers and pilgrims, who restored to the city on the vigil of the feast; and who already felt the strong intoxication of fanaticism, and, perhaps, of wine. Their devout kisses were imprinted on the walls and pavement of the sacred edifice; and their fervent prayers were directed, whatever might be the language of their church, to the bones, the blood, or the ashes of the saints, which were usually concealed by a linen or silken veil from the eyes of the vulgar. The Christians frequented the tombs of the martyrs, in the hope of obtaining, from their powerful intercession, every sort of spiritual, but more especially of temporal, blessings. They implored the preservation of their health or the cure of their infirmities; the fruitfulness of their barren wives or the safety and happiness of their children. Whenever they undertook any distant or dangerous journey, they requested that the holy martyrs would be their guides and protectors on the road; and, if they returned without having experienced any misfortune, they again hastened to the tombs of the martyrs, to celebrate, with grateful thanksgivings, their obligations to the memory and relics of those heavenly patrons. The walls were hung round with symbols of the favours which they had received; eyes, and hands, and feet, of gold and silver; and edifying pictures, which could not long escape the abuse of indiscreet or idolatrous devotion, represented the image, the attributes, and the miracles of the tutelar saint. The same uniform original spirit of superstition might suggest, in the most distant ages and countries, the same methods of deceiving the credulity, and of affecting the senses, of mankind;96 but it must ingenuously be confessed that the ministers of the Catholic church imitated the profane model which they were impatient to destroy. The most respectable bishops had Edition: current; Page: [106] persuaded themselves that the ignorant rustics would more cheerfully renounce the superstitions of Paganism, if they found some resemblance, some compensation, in the bosom of Christianity. The religion of Constantine achieved, in less than a century, the final conquest of the Roman empire: but the victors themselves were insensibly subdued by the arts of their vanquished rivals.97

Edition: current; Page: [107]


Final Division of the Roman Empire between the Sons of Theodosius — Reign of Arcadius and Honorius — Administration of Rufinus and Stilicho — Revolt and Defeat of Gildo in Africa

The genius of Rome expired with Theodosius; the last of the successors of Augustus and Constantine, who appeared in the field at the head of their armies, and whose authority was universally acknowledged throughout the whole extent of the empire. The memory of his virtues still continued, however, to protect the feeble and inexperienced youth of his two sons. After the death of their father, Arcadius and Honorius were saluted, by the unanimous consent of mankind, as the lawful emperors of the East, and of the West; and the oath of fidelity was eagerly taken by every order of the state; the senates of old and new Rome, the clergy, the magistrates, the soldiers, and the people. Arcadius, who then was about eighteen years of age, was born in Spain, in the humble habitation of a private family. But he received a princely education in the palace of Constantinople; and his inglorious life was spent in that peaceful and splendid seat of royalty, from whence he appeared to reign over the provinces of Thrace, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, from the Lower Danube to the confines of Persia and Æthiopia. His younger brother, Honorius, assumed, in the eleventh year of his age, the nominal government of Italy, Africa, Gaul, Spain, and Britain; and the troops which guarded the frontiers of his kingdom were opposed, on one side, to the Caledonians, and on the other, to the Moors. The great and martial prefecture of Illyricum was divided between the two princes; the Edition: current; Page: [108] defence and possession of the provinces of Noricum, Pannonia, and Dalmatia still belonged to the Western empire; but the two large dioceses of Dacia and Macedonia, which Gratian had entrusted to the valour of Theodosius, were for ever united to the empire of the East. The boundary in Europe was not very different from the line which now separates the Germans and the Turks; and the respective advantages of territory, riches, populousness, and military strength were fairly balanced and compensated in this final and permanent division of the Roman empire. The hereditary sceptre of the sons of Theodosius appeared to be the gift of nature, and of their father; the generals and ministers had been accustomed to adore the majesty of the royal infants; and the army and people were not admonished of their rights and of their power by the dangerous example of a recent election. The gradual discovery of the weakness of Arcadius and Honorius, and the repeated calamities of their reign, were not sufficient to obliterate the deep and early impressions of loyalty. The subjects of Rome, who still reverenced the persons or rather the names of their sovereigns, beheld, with equal abhorrence, the rebels who opposed, and the ministers who abused, the authority of the throne.

Theodosius had tarnished the glory of his reign by the elevation of Rufinus: an odious favourite, who, in an age of civil and religious faction, has deserved, from every party, the imputation of every crime. The strong impulse of ambition and avarice1 had urged Rufinus to abandon his native country, an obscure corner of Gaul,2 to advance his fortune in the Edition: current; Page: [109] capital of the East; the talent of bold and ready elocution3 qualified him to succeed in the lucrative profession of the law; and his success in that profession was a regular step to the most honourable and important employments of the state. He was raised, by just degrees, to the station of master of the offices. In the exercise of his various functions, so essentially connected with the whole system of civil government, he acquired the confidence of a monarch, who soon discovered his diligence and capacity in business, and who long remained ignorant of the pride, the malice, and the covetousness of his disposition. These vices were concealed beneath the mask of profound dissimulation;4 his passions were subservient only to the passions of his master; yet, in the horrid massacre of Thessalonica, the cruel Rufinus inflamed the fury, without imitating the repentance, of Theodosius. The minister, who viewed with proud indifference the rest of mankind, never forgave the appearance of an injury; and his personal enemies had forfeited in his opinion the merit of all public services. Promotus, the master-general of the infantry, had saved the empire from the invasion of the Ostrogoths; but he indignantly supported the pre-eminence of a rival whose character and profession he despised; and, in the midst of a public council, the impatient soldier was provoked to chastise with a blow the indecent pride of the favourite. This act of violence was represented to the emperor as an insult which it was incumbent on his dignity to resent. The disgrace and exile of Promotus were signified by a peremptory order to repair, without delay, to a military station on the banks of the Danube; and the death of that general (though he was slain in a skirmish with the Barbarians) was imputed to the perfidious arts of Rufinus.5 The sacrifice of an hero gratified his revenge; the honours of the consulship elated Edition: current; Page: [110] his vanity; but his power was still imperfect and precarious, as long as the important posts of prefect of the East and of prefect of Constantinople were filled by Tatian6 and his son Proculus; whose united authority balanced, for some time, the ambition and favour of the master of the offices. The two prefects were accused of rapine and corruption in the administration of the laws and finances. For the trial of these illustrous offenders, the emperor constituted a special commission; several judges were named to share the guilt and reproach of injustice; but the right of pronouncing sentence was reserved to the president alone, and that president was Rufinus himself. The father, stripped of the prefecture of the East, was thrown into a dungeon; but the son, conscious that few ministers can be found innocent where an enemy is their judge, had secretly escaped; and Rufinus must have been satisfied with the least obnoxious victim, if despotism had not condescended to employ the basest and most ungenerous artifice. The prosecution was conducted with an appearance of equity and moderation, which flattered Tatian with the hope of a favourable event; his confidence was fortified by the solemn assurances and perfidious oaths of the president, who presumed to interpose the sacred name of Theodosius himself; and the unhappy father was at last persuaded to recall, by a private letter, the fugitive Proculus. He was instantly seized, examined, condemned, and beheaded, in one of the suburbs of Constantinople, with a precipitation which disappointed the clemency of the emperor. Without respecting the misfortunes of a consular senator, the cruel judges of Tatian compelled him to behold the execution of his Edition: current; Page: [111] son; the fatal cord was fastened round his own neck; but, in the moment when he expected, and perhaps desired, the relief of a speedy death, he was permitted to consume the miserable remnant of his old age in poverty and exile.7 The punishment of the two prefects might perhaps be excused by the exceptionable parts of their own conduct; the enmity of Rufinus might be palliated by the jealous and unsociable nature of ambition. But he indulged a spirit of revenge, equally repugnant to prudence and to justice, when he degraded their native country of Lycia from the rank of Roman provinces; stigmatised a guiltless people with a mark of ignominy; and declared that the countrymen of Tatian and Proculus should ever remain incapable of holding any employment of honour or advantage under the Imperial government.8 The new prefect of the East (for Rufinus instantly succeeded to the vacant honours of his adversary) was not diverted, however, by the most criminal pursuits, from the performance of the religious duties which in that age were considered as the most essential to salvation. In the suburb of Chalcedon, surnamed the Oak, he had built a magnificent villa; to which he devoutly added a stately church, consecrated to the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, and continually sanctified by the prayers and penance of a regular society of Edition: current; Page: [112] monks. A numerous, and almost general, synod of the bishops of the Eastern empire was summoned to celebrate, at the same time, the dedication of the church and the baptism of the founder. This double ceremony was performed with extraordinary pomp; and, when Rufinus was purified, in the holy font, from all the sins that he had hitherto committed, a venerable hermit of Egypt rashly proposed himself as the sponsor of a proud and ambitious statesman.9

The character of Theodosius imposed on his minister the task of hypocrisy, which disguised, and sometimes restrained, the abuse of power; and Rufinus was apprehensive of disturbing the indolent slumber of a prince, still capable of exerting the abilities and the virtue which had raised him to the throne.10 But the absence, and soon afterwards the death, of the emperor confirmed the absolute authority of Rufinus over the person and dominions of Arcadius: a feeble youth, whom the imperious prefect considered as his pupil rather than his sovereign. Regardless of the public opinion, he indulged his passions without remorse and without resistance; and his malignant and rapacious spirit rejected every passion that might have contributed to his own glory or the happiness of the people. His avarice,11 which seems to have prevailed Edition: current; Page: [113] in his corrupt mind over every other sentiment, attracted the wealth of the East by the various arts of partial, and general, extortion: oppressive taxes, scandalous bribery, immoderate fines, unjust confiscations, forced or fictitious testaments, by which the tyrant despoiled of their lawful inheritance the children of strangers, or enemies; and the public sale of justice, as well as of favour, which he instituted in the palace of Constantinople. The ambitious candidate eagerly solicited, at the expense of the fairest part of his patrimony, the honours and emoluments of some provincial government; the lives and fortunes of the unhappy people were abandoned to the most liberal purchaser; and the public discontent was sometimes appeased by the sacrifice of an unpopular criminal, whose punishment was profitable only to the prefect of the East, his accomplice and his judge. If avarice were not the blindest of the human passions, the motives of Rufinus might excite our curiosity; and we might be tempted to inquire, with what view he violated every principle of humanity and justice, to accumulate those immense treasures which he could not spend without folly nor possess without danger. Perhaps he vainly imagined that he laboured for the interest of an only daughter, on whom he intended to bestow his royal pupil and the august rank of empress of the East. Perhaps he deceived himself by the opinion that his avarice was the instrument of his ambition. He aspired to place his fortune on a secure and independent basis, which should no longer depend on the caprice of the young emperor; yet he neglected to conciliate the hearts of the soldiers and people, by the liberal distribution of those riches which he had acquired with so much toil, and with so much guilt. The extreme parsimony of Rufinus left him only the reproach and envy of ill-gotten wealth; his dependents served him without Edition: current; Page: [114] attachment; the universal hatred of mankind was repressed only by the influence of servile fear. The fate of Lucian proclaimed to the East that the prefect whose industry was much abated in the despatch of ordinary business was active and indefatigable in the pursuit of revenge. Lucian, the son of the prefect Florentius, the oppressor of Gaul, and the enemy of Julian, had employed a considerable part of his inheritance, the fruit of rapine and corruption, to purchase the friendship of Rufinus and the high office of Count of the East. But the new magistrate imprudently departed from the maxims of the court and of the times; disgraced his benefactor, by the contrast of a virtuous and temperate administration; and presumed to refuse an act of injustice, which might have tended to the profit of the emperor’s uncle. Arcadius was easily persuaded to resent the supposed insult; and the prefect of the East resolved to execute in person the cruel vengeance which he meditated against this ungrateful delegate of his power. He performed with incessant speed the journey of seven or eight hundred miles from Constantinople to Antioch, entered the capital of Syria at the dead of night, and spread universal consternation among a people ignorant of his design but not ignorant of his character. The count of the fifteen provinces of the East was dragged, like the vilest malefactor, before the arbitrary tribunal of Rufinus. Notwithstanding the clearest evidence of his integrity, which was not impeached even by the voice of an accuser, Lucian was condemned, almost without a trial, to suffer a cruel and ignominious punishment. The ministers of the tyrant, by the order, and in the presence, of their master, beat him on the neck with leather thongs, armed at the extremities with lead; and, when he fainted under the violence of the pain, he was removed in a close litter, to conceal his dying agonies from the eyes of the indignant city. No sooner had Rufinus perpetrated this inhuman act, the sole object of his expedition, than he returned, amidst the deep and silent curses of a trembling people, from Antioch to Constantinople; and his diligence Edition: current; Page: [115] was accelerated by the hope of accomplishing, without delay, the nuptials of his daughter with the emperor of the East.12

But Rufinus soon experienced that a prudent minister should constantly secure his royal captive by the strong, though invisible, chain of habit; and that the merit, and much more easily the favour, of the absent are obliterated in a short time from the mind of a weak and capricious sovereign. While the prefect satiated his revenge at Antioch, a secret conspiracy of the favourite eunuchs, directed by the great chamberlain Eutropius, undermined his power in the palace of Constantinople. They discovered that Arcadius was not inclined to love the daughter of Rufinus, who had been chosen, without his consent, for his bride; and they contrived to substitute in her place the fair Eudoxia, the daughter of Bauto,13 a general of the Franks in the service of Rome; and who was educated, since the death of her father, in the family of the sons of Promotus. The young emperor, whose chastity had been strictly guarded by the pious care of his tutor Arsenius,14 eagerly listened to the artful and flattering descriptions of the charms of Eudoxia; he gazed with impatient ardour on her picture, and he understood the necessity of concealing his amorous designs from the knowledge of a minister who was so deeply interested to oppose the consummation Edition: current; Page: [116] of his happiness. Soon after the return of Rufinus, the approaching ceremony of the royal nuptials was announced to the people of Constantinople, who prepared to celebrate, with false and hollow acclamations, the fortune of his daughter. A splendid train of eunuchs and officers issued, in hymeneal pomp, from the gates of the palace; bearing aloft the diadem, the robes and the inestimable ornaments of the future empress. The solemn procession passed through the streets of the city, which were adorned with garlands and filled with spectators; but, when it reached the house of the sons of Promotus, the principal eunuch respectfully entered the mansion, invested the fair Eudoxia with the Imperial robes, and conducted her in triumph to the palace and bed of Arcadius.15 The secrecy and success with which this conspiracy against Rufinus had been conducted imprinted a mark of indelible ridicule on the character of a minister who had suffered himself to be deceived in a post where the arts of deceit and dissimulation constitute the most distinguished merit. He considered, with a mixture of indignation and fear, the victory of an aspiring eunuch, who had secretly captivated the favour of his sovereign; and the disgrace of his daughter, whose interest was inseparably connected with his own, wounded the tenderness, or, at least, the pride, of Rufinus. At the moment when he flattered himself that he should become the father of a line of kings, a foreign maid, who had been educated in the house of his implacable enemies, was introduced into the Imperial bed; and Eudoxia soon displayed a superiority of sense and spirit, to improve the ascendant which her beauty must acquire over the mind of a fond and youthful husband. The emperor would soon be instructed to hate, to fear, and to destroy the powerful subject Edition: current; Page: [117] whom he had injured; and the consciousness of guilt deprived Rufinus of every hope, either of safety or comfort, in the retirement of a private life. But he still possessed the most effectual means of defending his dignity, and perhaps of oppressing his enemies. The prefect still exercised an uncontrolled authority over the civil and military government of the East; and his treasures, if he could resolve to use them, might be employed to procure proper instruments for the execution of the blackest designs that pride, ambition, and revenge could suggest to a desperate statesman. The character of Rufinus seemed to justify the accusations that he conspired against the person of his sovereign to seat himself on the vacant throne; and that he had secretly invited the Huns and the Goths to invade the provinces of the empire and to increase the public confusion. The subtle prefect, whose life had been spent in the intrigues of the palace, opposed, with equal arms, the artful measures of the eunuch Eutropius; but the timid soul of Rufinus was astonished by the hostile approach of a more formidable rival, of the great Stilicho, the general, or rather the master, of the empire of the West.16

The celestial gift which Achilles obtained, and Alexander envied, of a poet worthy to celebrate the actions of heroes has been enjoyed by Stilicho in a much higher degree than might have been expected from the declining state of genius and of art. The muse of Claudian,17 devoted to his service, was always prepared to stigmatise his adversaries, Rufinus or Eutropius, with eternal infamy; or to paint, in the most splendid colours, the victories and virtues of a powerful Edition: current; Page: [118] benefactor. In the review of a period indifferently supplied with authentic materials, we cannot refuse to illustrate the annals of Honorius from the invectives or the panegyrics of a contemporary writer; but, as Claudian appears to have indulged the most ample privilege of a poet and a courtier, some criticism will be requisite to translate the language of fiction or exaggeration into the truth and simplicity of historic prose. His silence concerning the family of Stilicho may be admitted as a proof that his patron was neither able nor desirous to boast a long series of illustrious progenitors; and the slight mention of his father, an officer of Barbarian cavalry in the service of Valens, seems to countenance the assertion that the general who so long commanded the armies of Rome was descended from the savage and perfidious race of the Vandals.18 If Stilicho had not possessed the external advantages of strength and stature, the most flattering bard, in the presence of so many thousand spectators, would have hesitated to affirm that he surpassed the measure of the demigods of antiquity; and that, whenever he moved, with lofty steps, through the streets of the capital, the astonished crowd made room for the stranger, who displayed, in a private condition, the awful majesty of a hero. From his earliest youth he embraced the profession of arms; his prudence and valour were soon distinguished in the field; the horsemen and archers of the East admired his superior dexterity; and in each degree of his military promotions the public judgment always prevented and approved the choice of the sovereign. He was named by Theodosius to ratify a solemn treaty with the monarch of Persia; he supported, during that important embassy, the dignity of the Roman name; and, after his return to Constantinople, his merit was rewarded by an intimate and honourable alliance with Edition: current; Page: [119] the Imperial family. Theodosius had been prompted by a pious motive of fraternal affection to adopt for his own the daughter of his brother Honorius; the beauty and accomplishments of Serena19 were universally admired by the obsequious court; and Stilicho obtained the preference over a crowd of rivals, who ambitiously disputed the hand of the princess and the favour of her adoptive father.20 The assurance that the husband of Serena would be faithful to the throne, which he was permitted to approach, engaged the emperor to exalt the fortunes and to employ the abilities of the sagacious and intrepid Stilicho. He rose, through the successive steps of master of the horse and count of the domestics, to the supreme rank of master-general of all the cavalry and infantry of the Roman, or at least of the Western, empire;21 and his enemies confessed that he invariably disdained to barter for gold the rewards of merit, or to defraud the soldiers of the pay and gratifications which they deserved or claimed from the liberality of the State.22 The valour and conduct which he afterwards displayed in the defence of Italy against the arms of Alaric and Radagaisus may justify the fame of his early achievements; and, in an age less attentive to the laws of honour or of pride, the Roman generals might Edition: current; Page: [120] yield the pre-eminence of rank to the ascendant of superior genius.23 He lamented and revenged the murder of Promotus, his rival and his friend; and the massacre of many thousands of the flying Bastarnæ is represented by the poet as a bloody sacrifice which the Roman Achilles offered to the manes of another Patroclus. The virtues and victories of Stilicho deserved the hatred of Rufinus; and the arts of calumny might have been successful, if the tender and vigilant Serena had not protected her husband against his domestic foes, whilst he vanquished in the field the enemies of the empire.24 Theodosius continued to support an unworthy minister, to whose diligence he delegated the government of the palace and of the East; but, when he marched against the tyrant Eugenius, he associated his faithful general to the labours and glories of the civil war; and, in the last moments of his life, the dying monarch recommended to Stilicho the care of his sons, and of the republic.25 The ambition and the abilities of Stilicho were not unequal to the important trust; and he claimed the guardianship of the two empires during the minority of Arcadius and Honorius.26 Edition: current; Page: [121] The first measure of his administration, or rather of his reign, displayed to the nations the vigour and activity of a spirit worthy to command. He passed the Alps in the depth of winter; descended the stream of the Rhine from the fortress of Basel to the marshes of Batavia; reviewed the state of the garrisons; repressed the enterprises of the Germans; and, after establishing along the banks a firm and honourable peace, returned with incredible speed to the palace of Milan.27 The person and court of Honorius were subject to the master-general of the West; and the armies and provinces of Europe obeyed, without hesitation, a regular authority, which was exercised in the name of their young sovereign. Two rivals only remained to dispute the claims, and to provoke the vengeance, of Stilicho. Within the limits of Africa, Gildo, the Moor, maintained a proud and dangerous independence; and the minister of Constantinople asserted his equal reign over the emperor and the empire of the East.

The impartiality which Stilicho affected, as the common guardian of the royal brothers, engaged him to regulate the equal division of the arms, the jewels, and the magnificent wardrobe and furniture of the deceased emperor.28 But the most important object of the inheritance consisted of the numerous legions, cohorts and squadrons of Romans or Barbarians, whom the event of the civil war had united under the standard of Theodosius. The various multitudes of Europe and Asia, exasperated by recent animosities, were overawed by the authority of a single man; and the rigid discipline of Stilicho protected the lands of the citizen from Edition: current; Page: [122] the rapine of the licentious soldier.29 Anxious, however, and impatient to relieve Italy from the presence of this formidable host, which could be useful only on the frontiers of the empire, he listened to the just requisition of the minister of Arcadius, declared his intention of re-conducting in person the troops of the East, and dexterously employed the rumour of a Gothic tumult to conceal his private designs of ambition and revenge.30 The guilty soul of Rufinus was alarmed by the approach of a warrior and a rival, whose enmity he deserved; he computed with increasing terror the narrow space of his life and greatness: and, as the last hope of safety, he interposed the authority of the emperor Arcadius. Stilicho, who appears to have directed his march along the sea coast of the Hadriatic, was not far distant from the city of Thessalonica, when he received a peremptory message to recall the troops of the East and to declare that his nearer approach would be considered by the Byzantine court as an act of hostility. The prompt and unexpected obedience of the general of the West convinced the vulgar of his loyalty and moderation; and, as he had already engaged the affection of the Eastern troops, he recommended to their zeal the execution of his bloody design, which might be accomplished in his absence with less danger, perhaps, and with less reproach. Stilicho left the command of the troops of the East to Gainas the Goth, on whose fidelity he firmly relied; with an assurance, at least, that the hardy Barbarian would never be diverted from his purpose by any consideration of fear or remorse. The soldiers were easily persuaded to punish the enemy of Stilicho Edition: current; Page: [123] and of Rome; and such was the general hatred which Rufinus had excited that the fatal secret, communicated to thousands, was faithfully preserved during the long march from Thessalonica to the gates of Constantinople. As soon as they had resolved his death, they condescended to flatter his pride; the ambitious prefect was seduced to believe that those powerful auxiliaries might be tempted to place the diadem on his head; and the treasures which he distributed with a tardy and reluctant hand were accepted by the indignant multitude as an insult rather than as a gift. At the distance of a mile from the capital, in the field of Mars, before the palace of Hebdomon,31 the troops halted; and the emperor, as well as his minister, advanced according to ancient custom respectfully to salute the power which supported their throne. As Rufinus passed along the ranks and disguised with studied courtesy his innate haughtiness, the wings insensibly wheeled from the right and left and enclosed the devoted victim within the circle of their arms. Before he could reflect on the danger of his situation Gainas gave the signal of death; a daring and forward soldier plunged his sword into the breast of the guilty prefect, and Rufinus fell, groaned and expired at the feet of the affrighted emperor. If the agonies of a moment could expiate the crimes of a whole life, or if the outrages inflicted on a breathless corpse could be the object of pity, our humanity might perhaps be affected by the horrid circumstances which accompanied the murder of Rufinus. His mangled body was abandoned to the brutal fury of the populace of either sex, who hastened in crowds from every quarter of the city to trample on the remains of the haughty minister at whose frown they had so lately trembled. His right hand was cut off and carried through the streets of Constantinople in cruel mockery to extort contributions for the avaricious tyrant, whose head was publicly exposed, borne aloft on the point of a long lance.32 According to the savage Edition: current; Page: [124] maxims of the Greek republics his innocent family would have shared the punishment of his crimes. The wife and daughter of Rufinus were indebted for their safety to the influence of religion. Her sanctuary protected them from the raging madness of the people; and they were permitted to spend the remainder of their lives in the exercises of Christian devotion in the peaceful retirement of Jerusalem.33

The servile poet of Stilicho applauds, with ferocious joy, this horrid deed, which, in the execution, perhaps, of justice, violated every law of nature and society, profaned the majesty of the prince, and renewed the dangerous examples of military licence. The contemplation of the universal order and harmony had satisfied Claudian of the existence of the Deity; but the prosperous impunity of vice appeared to contradict his moral attributes; and the fate of Rufinus was the only event which could dispel the religious doubts of the poet.34 Such an act might vindicate the honour of Providence; but it did not much contribute to the happiness of the people. In less than three months they were informed of the maxims of the new administration by a singular edict, which established the exclusive right of the treasury over the spoils of Rufinus; and silenced, under heavy penalties, the presumptuous claims of the subjects of the Eastern empire, who had been injured by his rapacious tyranny.35 Even Stilicho did Edition: current; Page: [125] not derive from the murder of his rival the fruit which he had proposed; and, though he gratified his revenge, his ambition was disappointed. Under the name of a favourite, the weakness of Arcadius required a master; but he naturally preferred the obsequious arts of the eunuch Eutropius, who had obtained his domestic confidence; and the emperor contemplated, with terror and aversion, the stern genius of a foreign warrior. Till they were divided by the jealousy of power, the sword of Gainas and the charms of Eudoxia supported the favour of the great chamberlain of the palace; the perfidious Goth, who was appointed master-general of the East, betrayed, without scruple, the interest of his benefactor; and the same troops who had so lately massacred the enemy of Stilicho were engaged to support, against him, the independence of the throne of Constantinople. The favourites of Arcadius fomented a secret and irreconcileable war against a formidable hero who aspired to govern and to defend the two empires of Rome and the two sons of Theodosius. They incessantly laboured, by dark and treacherous machinations, to deprive him of the esteem of the prince, the respect of the people, and the friendship of the Barbarians. The life of Stilicho was repeatedly attempted by the dagger of hired assassins; and a decree was obtained, from the senate of Constantinople, to declare him an enemy of the republic and to confiscate his ample possessions in the provinces of the East. At a time when the only hope of delaying the ruin of the Roman name depended on the firm union, and reciprocal aid, of all the nations to whom it had been gradually communicated, the subjects of Arcadius and Honorius were instructed, by their respective masters, to view each other in a foreign, and even hostile, light; to rejoice in their mutual calamities, and to embrace, as their faithful allies, the Barbarians whom they excited to invade the territories of their Edition: current; Page: [126] countrymen.36 The natives of Italy affected to despise the servile and effeminate Greeks of Byzantium, who presumed to imitate the dress, and to usurp the dignity, of Roman senators;37 and the Greeks had not yet forgot the sentiments of hatred and contempt which their polished ancestors had so long entertained for the rude inhabitants of the West. The distinction of two governments, which soon produced the separation of two nations, will justify my design of suspending the series of the Byzantine history, to prosecute, without interruption, the disgraceful, but memorable, reign of Honorius.

The prudent Stilicho, instead of persisting to force the inclinations of a prince and people who rejected his government, wisely abandoned Arcadius to his unworthy favourites; and his reluctance to involve the two empires in a civil war displayed the moderation of a minister who had so often signalised his military spirit and abilities. But, if Stilicho had any longer endured the revolt of Africa, he would have betrayed the security of the capital and the majesty of the Western emperor to the capricious insolence of a Moorish rebel. Gildo,38 the brother of the tyrant Firmus, had preserved and obtained, as the reward of his apparent fidelity, the immense patrimony which was forfeited by treason; long and meritorious service, in the armies of Rome, raised Edition: current; Page: [127] him to the dignity of a military count; the narrow policy of the court of Theodosius had adopted the mischievous expedient of supporting a legal government by the interest of a powerful family; and the brother of Firmus was invested with the command of Africa. His ambition soon usurped the administration of justice and of the finances, without account and without control; and he maintained, during a reign of twelve years, the possession of an office from which it was impossible to remove him without the danger of a civil war. During those twelve years, the province of Africa groaned under the dominion of a tyrant who seemed to unite the unfeeling temper of a stranger with the partial resentments of domestic faction. The forms of law were often superseded by the use of poison; and, if the trembling guests, who were invited to the table of Gildo, presumed to express their fears, the insolent suspicion served only to excite his fury, and he loudly summoned the ministers of death. Gildo alternately indulged the passions of avarice and lust;39 and, if his days were terrible to the rich, his nights were not less dreadful to husbands and parents. The fairest of their wives and daughters were prostituted to the embraces of the tyrant; and afterwards abandoned to a ferocious troop of Barbarians and assassins, the black, or swarthy, natives of the desert, whom Gildo considered as the only guardians of his throne. In the civil war between Theodosius and Eugenius, the count, or rather the sovereign, of Africa maintained a haughty and suspicious neutrality; refused to assist either of the contending parties with troops or vessels, expected Edition: current; Page: [128] the declaration of fortune, and reserved for the conqueror the vain professions of his allegiance. Such professions would not have satisfied the master of the Roman world; but the death of Theodosius, and the weakness and discord of his sons, confirmed the power of the Moor; who condescended, as a proof of his moderation, to abstain from the use of the diadem and to supply Rome with the customary tribute, or rather subsidy, of corn. In every division of the empire, the five provinces of Africa were invariably assigned to the West; and Gildo had consented to govern that extensive country in the name of Honorius; but his knowledge of the character and designs of Stilicho soon engaged him to address his homage to a more distant and feeble sovereign. The ministers of Arcadius embraced the cause of a perfidious rebel; and the delusive hope of adding the numerous cities of Africa to the empire of the East tempted them to assert a claim which they were incapable of supporting either by reason or by arms.40

When Stilicho had given a firm and decisive answer to the pretensions of the Byzantine court, he solemnly accused the tyrant of Africa before the tribunal which had formerly judged the kings and nations of the earth; and the image of the republic was revived, after a long interval, under the reign of Honorius. The emperor transmitted an accurate and ample detail of the complaints of the provincials and the crimes of Gildo to the Roman senate; and the members of that venerable assembly were required to pronounce the condemnation of the rebel. Their unanimous suffrage declared him the enemy of the republic; and the decree of the senate added a sacred and legitimate sanction to the Roman arms.41 A Edition: current; Page: [129] people who still remembered that their ancestors had been the masters of the world would have applauded, with conscious pride, the representation of ancient freedom; if they had not long since been accustomed to prefer the solid assurance of bread to the unsubstantial visions of liberty and greatness. The subsistence of Rome depended on the harvests of Africa; and it was evident that a declaration of war would be the signal of famine. The prefect Symmachus, who presided in the deliberations of the senate, admonished the ministers of his just apprehension that, as soon as the revengeful Moor should prohibit the exportation of corn, the tranquillity, and perhaps the safety, of the capital would be threatened by the hungry rage of a turbulent multitude.42 The prudence of Stilicho conceived and executed without delay the most effectual measure for the relief of the Roman people. A large and seasonable supply of corn, collected in the inland provinces of Gaul, was embarked on the rapid stream of the Rhone, and transported, by an easy navigation, from the Rhone to the Tiber. During the whole term of the African war, the granaries of Rome were continually filled, her dignity was vindicated from the humiliating dependence, and the minds of an immense people were quieted by the calm confidence of peace and plenty.43

The cause of Rome and the conduct of the African war were entrusted, by Stilicho, to a general active and ardent to avenge his private injuries on the head of the tyrant. The spirit of discord which prevailed in the house of Nabal had excited a deadly quarrel between two of his sons, Gildo and Mascezel.44 Edition: current; Page: [130] The usurper pursued, with implacable rage, the life of his younger brother, whose courage and abilities he feared; and Mascezel, oppressed by superior power, took refuge in the court of Milan; where he soon received the cruel intelligence that his two innocent and helpless children had been murdered by their inhuman uncle. The affliction of the father was suspended only by the desire of revenge. The vigilant Stilicho already prepared to collect the naval and military forces of the Western empire; and he had resolved, if the tyrant should be able to wage an equal and doubtful war, to march against him in person. But, as Italy required his presence, and as it might be dangerous to weaken the defence of the frontier, he judged it more advisable that Mascezel should attempt this arduous adventure, at the head of a chosen body of Gallic veterans, who had lately served under the standard of Eugenius. These troops, who were exhorted to convince the world that they could subvert, as well as defend, the throne of an usurper, consisted of the Jovian, the Herculian, and the Augustan legions; of the Nervian auxiliaries; of the soldiers who displayed in their banners the symbol of a lion, and of the troops which were distinguished by the auspicious names of Fortunate and Invincible. Yet such was the smallness of their establishments, or the difficulty of recruiting, that these seven bands,45 of high dignity and reputation in the service of Rome, amounted to no more than five thousand effective men.46 The fleet of galleys and transports sailed in tempestuous weather from the port of Pisa, in Tuscany, and steered their course to the little island of Capraria; which had borrowed that name from the wild goats, its original inhabitants, Edition: current; Page: [131] whose place was now occupied by a new colony of a strange and savage appearance. “The whole island (says an ingenious traveller of those times) is filled, or rather defiled, by men who fly from the light. They call themselves Monks, or solitaries, because they choose to live alone, without any witnesses of their actions. They fear the gifts of fortune, from the apprehension of losing them; and, lest they should be miserable, they embrace a life of voluntary wretchedness. How absurd is their choice! how perverse their understanding! to dread the evils, without being able to support the blessings, of the human condition. Either this melancholy madness is the effect of disease, or else the consciousness of guilt urges these unhappy men to exercise on their own bodies the tortures which are inflicted on fugitive slaves by the hand of justice.”47 Such was the contempt of a profane magistrate for the monks of Capraria, who were revered, by the pious Mascezel, as the chosen servants of God.48 Some of them were persuaded, by his entreaties, to embark on board the fleet; and it is observed, to the praise of the Roman general, that his days and nights were employed in prayer, fasting, and the occupation of singing psalms. The devout leader, who, with such a reinforcement, appeared confident of victory, avoided the dangerous rocks of Corsica, coasted along the eastern side of Sardinia, and secured his ships against the violence of the south wind, by casting anchor in the safe and capacious harbour of Cagliari, at the distance of one hundred and forty miles from the African shores.49

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Gildo was prepared to resist the invasion with all the forces of Africa. By the liberality of his gifts and promises, he endeavoured to secure the doubtful allegiance of the Roman soldiers, whilst he attracted to his standard the distant tribes of Gætulia and Æthiopia. He proudly reviewed an army of seventy thousand men, and boasted, with the rash presumption which is the forerunner of disgrace, that his numerous cavalry would trample under their horses’ feet the troops of Mascezel and involve, in a cloud of burning sand, the natives of the cold regions of Gaul and Germany.50 But the Moor who commanded the legions of Honorius was too well acquainted with the manners of his countrymen to entertain any serious apprehension of a naked and disorderly host of Barbarians; whose left arm, instead of a shield, was protected only by a mantle; who were totally disarmed as soon as they had darted their javelin from their right hand; and whose horses had never been taught to bear the control, or to obey the guidance, of the bridle. He fixed his camp of five thousand veterans in the face of a superior enemy, and, after the delay of three days, gave the signal of a general engagement.51 As Mascezel advanced before the front with fair offers of peace and pardon, he encountered one of the foremost standard-bearers of the Africans, and, on his refusal to yield, struck him on the arm with his sword. The arm, and the standard, sunk under the weight of the blow; and the imaginary act of submission was hastily repeated by all the standards of the line. At this signal, the disaffected cohorts proclaimed the name of their lawful sovereign; Edition: current; Page: [133] the Barbarians, astonished by the defection of their Roman allies, dispersed, according to their custom, in tumultuary flight; and Mascezel obtained the honours of an easy, and almost bloodless, victory.52 The tyrant escaped from the field of battle to the seashore, and threw himself into a small vessel, with the hope of reaching in safety some friendly port of the empire of the East; but the obstinacy of the wind drove him back into the harbour of Tabraca,53 which had acknowledged, with the rest of the province, the dominion of Honorius and the authority of his lieutenant. The inhabitants, as a proof of their repentance and loyalty, seized and confined the person of Gildo in a dungeon; and his own despair saved him from the intolerable torture of supporting the presence of an injured and victorious brother.54 The captives and the spoils of Africa were laid at the feet of the emperor; but Stilicho, whose moderation appeared more conspicuous and more sincere in the midst of prosperity, still affected to consult the laws of the republic, and referred to the senate and people of Rome the judgment of the most illustrious criminals.55 Their trial was public and solemn; but the judges, in the exercise of this obsolete and precarious jurisdiction, were impatient to punish the African magistrates, Edition: current; Page: [134] who had intercepted the subsistence of the Roman people. The rich and guilty province was impressed by the Imperial ministers, who had a visible interest to multiply the number of the accomplices of Gildo; and, if an edict of Honorius seems to check the malicious industry of informers, a subsequent edict, at the distance of ten years, continues and renews the prosecution of the offences which had been committed in the time of the general rebellion.56 The adherents of the tyrant who escaped the first fury of the soldiers and the judges might derive some consolation from the tragic fate of his brother, who could never obtain his pardon for the extraordinary services which he had performed. After he had finished an important war in the space of a single winter, Mascezel was received at the court of Milan with loud applause, affected gratitude, and secret jealousy;57 and his death, which, perhaps, was the effect of accident, has been considered as the crime of Stilicho. In the passage of a bridge, the Moorish prince, who accompanied the master-general of the West, was suddenly thrown from his horse into the river; the officious haste of the attendants was restrained by a cruel and perfidious smile which they observed on the countenance of Stilicho; and, while they delayed the necessary assistance, the unfortunate Mascezel was irrecoverably drowned.58

The joy of the African triumph was happily connected with the nuptials of the emperor Honorius and of his cousin Maria, the daughter of Stilicho: and this equal and honourable alliance seemed to invest the powerful minister with the authority of a parent over his submissive pupil. The muse Edition: current; Page: [none] Edition: current; Page: [135] of Claudian was not silent on this propitious day:59 he sung, in various and lively strains, the happiness of the royal pair, and the glory of the hero, who confirmed their union and supported their throne. The ancient fables of Greece, which had almost ceased to be the object of religious faith, were saved from oblivion by the genius of poetry. The picture of the Cyprian grove, the seat of harmony and love; the triumphant progress of Venus over her native seas, and the mild influence which her presence diffused in the palace of Milan; express to every age the natural sentiments of the heart, in the just and pleasing language of allegorical fiction. But the amorous impatience which Claudian attributes to the young prince60 must excite the smiles of the court; and his beauteous spouse (if she deserved the praise of beauty) had not much to fear or to hope from the passions of her lover. Honorius was only in the fourteenth year of his age; Serena, the mother of his bride, deferred, by art or persuasion, the consummation of the royal nuptials; Maria died a virgin, after she had been ten years a wife; and the chastity of the emperor was secured by the coldness, or perhaps the debility, of his constitution.61 His subjects, who attentively studied the character of their young sovereign, discovered that Honorius was without passions, and consequently without Edition: current; Page: [136] talents; and that his feeble and languid disposition was alike incapable of discharging the duties of his rank or of enjoying the pleasures of his age. In his early youth he made some progress in the exercises of riding and drawing the bow: but he soon relinquished these fatiguing occupations, and the amusement of feeding poultry became the serious and daily care of the monarch of the West,62 who resigned the reins of empire to the firm and skilful hand of his guardian Stilicho. The experience of history will countenance the suspicion that a prince who was born in the purple received a worse education than the meanest peasant of his dominions; and that the ambitious minister suffered him to attain the age of manhood without attempting to excite his courage or to enlighten his understanding.63 The predecessors of Honorius were accustomed to animate by their example, or at least by their presence, the valour of the legions; and the dates of their laws attest the perpetual activity of their motions through the provinces of the Roman world. But the son of Theodosius passed the slumber of his life, a captive in his palace, a stranger in his country, and the patient, almost the indifferent, spectator of the ruin of the Western empire, which was repeatedly attacked, and finally subverted, by the arms of the Barbarians. In the eventful history of a reign of twenty-eight years, it will seldom be necessary to mention the name of the emperor Honorius.

The Favourites of Honorius. From a painting by J.W. Waterhouse, R.A..
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Revolt of the Goths — They plunder Greece — Two great Invasions of Italy by Alaric and Radagaisus — They are repulsed by Stilicho — The Germans overrun Gaul — Usurpation of Constantine in the West — Disgrace and Death of Stilicho

If the subjects of Rome could be ignorant of their obligations to the great Theodosius, they were too soon convinced how painfully the spirit and abilities of their deceased emperor had supported the frail and mouldering edifice of the republic. He died in the month of January; and before the end of the winter of the same year the Gothic nation was in arms.1 The Barbarian auxiliaries erected their independent standard; and boldly avowed the hostile designs which they had long cherished in their ferocious minds. Their countrymen, who had been condemned by the conditions of the last treaty to a life of tranquillity and labour, deserted their farms at the first sound of the trumpet, and eagerly resumed the weapons which they had reluctantly laid down. The barriers of the Danube were thrown open; the savage warriors of Scythia issued from their forests; and the uncommon severity of the winter allowed the poet to remark “that they rolled their ponderous waggons over the broad and icy back of the indignant river.”2 The unhappy natives of the Edition: current; Page: [138] provinces to the south of the Danube submitted to the calamities which, in the course of twenty years, were almost grown familiar to their imagination; and the various troops of Barbarians who gloried in the Gothic name were irregularly spread from the woody shores of Dalmatia to the walls of Constantinople.3 The interruption, or at least the diminution, of the subsidy which the Goths had received from the prudent liberality of Theodosius was the specious pretence of their revolt; the affront was embittered by their contempt for the unwarlike sons of Theodosius; and their resentment was inflamed by the weakness or treachery of the minister of Arcadius. The frequent visits of Rufinus to the camp of the Barbarians, whose arms and apparel he affected to imitate, were considered as a sufficient evidence of his guilty correspondence: and the public enemy, from a motive either of gratitude or of policy, was attentive, amidst the general devastation, to spare the private estates of the unpopular prefect. The Goths, instead of being impelled by the blind and headstrong passions of their chiefs, were now directed by the bold and artful genius of Alaric. That renowned leader was descended from the noble race of the Balti;4 which yielded only to the royal dignity of the Amali: he had solicited the command of the Roman armies; and the Imperial Edition: current; Page: [139] court provoked him to demonstrate the folly of their refusal and the importance of their loss. Whatever hopes might be entertained of the conquest of Constantinople, the judicious general soon abandoned an impracticable enterprise. In the midst of a divided court and a discontented people, the emperor Arcadius was terrified by the aspect of the Gothic arms; but the want of wisdom and valour was supplied by the strength of the city; and the fortifications, both of the sea and land, might securely brave the impotent and random darts of the Barbarians. Alaric disdained to trample any longer on the prostrate and ruined countries of Thrace and Dacia, and he resolved to seek a plentiful harvest of fame and riches in a province which had hitherto escaped the ravages of war.5

The character of the civil and military officers, on whom Rufinus had devolved the government of Greece, confirmed the public suspicion that he had betrayed the ancient seat of freedom and learning to the Gothic invader. The proconsul Antiochus was the unworthy son of a respectable father; and Gerontius, who commanded the provincial troops, was much better qualified to execute the oppressive orders of a tyrant than to defend, with courage and ability, a country most remarkably fortified by the hand of nature. Alaric had traversed, without resistance, the plains of Macedonia and Thessaly, as far as the foot of Mount Oeta, a steep and woody range of hills, almost impervious to his cavalry. They stretched from east to west, to the edge of the seashore; and left, between the precipice and the Malian Gulf, an interval of three hundred feet, which, in some places, was contracted to a road capable of admitting only a single carriage.6 In this narrow pass of Thermopylæ, where Edition: current; Page: [140] Leonidas and the three hundred Spartans had gloriously devoted their lives, the Goths might have been stopped, or destroyed, by a skilful general; and perhaps the view of that sacred spot might have kindled some sparks of military ardour in the breasts of the degenerate Greeks. The troops which had been posted to defend the straits of Thermopylæ retired, as they were directed, without attempting to disturb the secure and rapid passage of Alaric;7 and the fertile fields of Phocis and Bœotia were instantly covered by a deluge of Barbarians, who massacred the males of an age of bear arms, and drove away the beautiful females, with the spoil and cattle, of the flaming villages. The travellers who visited Greece several years afterwards could easily discover the deep and bloody traces of the march of the Goths; and Thebes was less indebted for her preservation to the strength of her seven gates than to the eager haste of Alaric, who advanced to occupy the city of Athens and the important harbour of the Piræus. The same impatience urged him to prevent the delay and danger of a siege, by the offer of a capitulation: and, as soon as the Athenians heard the voice of the Gothic herald, they were easily persuaded to deliver the greatest part of their wealth, as the ransom of the city of Minerva and its inhabitants. The treaty was ratified by solemn oaths, and observed with mutual fidelity. The Gothic prince, with a small and select train, was admitted within the walls; he indulged himself in the refreshment of the bath, accepted a splendid banquet which was provided by the magistrate, and affected to show that he was not ignorant of the manners of civilised nations.8 But the Edition: current; Page: [141] whole territory of Attica, from the promontory of Sunium to the town of Megara, was blasted by his baleful presence; and, if we may use the comparison of a contemporary philosopher, Athens itself resembled the bleeding and empty skin of a slaughtered victim. The distance between Megara and Corinth could not much exceed thirty miles; but the bad road, an expressive name, which it still bears among the Greeks, was, or might easily have been made, impassable for the march of an enemy. The thick and gloomy woods of Mount Cithæron covered the inland country; the Scironian rocks approached the water’s edge, and hung over the narrow and winding path, which was confined above six miles along the seashore.9 The passage of those rocks, so infamous in every age, was terminated by the isthmus of Corinth; and a small body of firm and intrepid soldiers might have successfully defended a temporary intrenchment of five or six miles from the Ionian to the Ægean Sea. The confidence of the cities of Peloponnesus in their natural rampart had tempted them to neglect the care of their antique walls; and the avarice of the Roman governors had exhausted and betrayed the unhappy province.10 Corinth, Argos, Sparta, yielded without resistance to the arms of the Goths; and the most fortunate of the inhabitants were saved by death from beholding the slavery of their families and the conflagration of their cities.11 The vases and statues were Edition: current; Page: [142] distributed among the Barbarians, with more regard to the value of the materials than to the elegance of the workmanship; the female captives submitted to the laws of war; the enjoyment of beauty was the reward of valour; and the Greeks could not reasonably complain of an abuse, which was justified by the example of the heroic times.12 The descendants of that extraordinary people, who had considered valour and discipline as the walls of Sparta, no longer remembered the generous reply of their ancestors to an invader more formidable than Alaric: “If thou art a god, thou wilt not hurt those who have never injured thee; if thou art a man, advance: — and thou wilt find men equal to thyself.”13 From Thermopylæ to Sparta, the leader of the Goths pursued his victorious march without encountering any mortal antagonists; but one of the advocates of expiring Paganism has confidently asserted that the walls of Athens were guarded by the goddess Minerva, with her formidable Ægis, and by the angry phantom of Achilles;14 and that the conqueror was dismayed by the presence of the hostile deities of Greece. In an age of miracles, it would perhaps be unjust to dispute the claim of the historian Zosimus to the common benefit; yet it cannot be dissembled that the mind of Alaric was ill prepared to receive, either in sleeping or waking visions, the impressions of Greek superstition. The songs of Homer and the fame of Achilles had probably never reached the ear of the illiterate Barbarian; and the Edition: current; Page: [143] Christian faith, which he had devoutly embraced, taught him to despise the imaginary deities of Rome and Athens. The invasion of the Goths, instead of vindicating the honour, contributed, at least accidentally, to extirpate the last remains, of Paganism; and the mysteries of Ceres, which had subsisted eighteen hundred years, did not survive the destruction of Eleusis and the calamities of Greece.15

The last hope of a people who could no longer depend on their arms, their gods, or their sovereign was placed in the powerful assistance of the general of the West; and Stilicho, who had not been permitted to repulse, advanced to chastise the invaders of Greece.16 A numerous fleet was equipped in the ports of Italy; and the troops, after a short and prosperous navigation over the Ionian Sea, were safely disembarked on the isthmus, near the ruins of Corinth. The woody and mountainous country of Arcadia, the fabulous residence of Pan and the Dryads, became the scene of a long and doubtful conflict between two generals not unworthy of each other. The skill and perseverance of the Roman at length prevailed; and the Goths, after sustaining a considerable loss from disease and desertion, gradually retreated to the lofty mountain of Pholoe, near the sources of the Peneus, and on the frontiers of Elis: a sacred country, which had formerly been exempted from the calamities of war.17 The camp of the Barbarians was immediately besieged; the waters of the Edition: current; Page: [144] river18 were diverted into another channel; and, while they laboured under the intolerable pressure of thirst and hunger, a strong line of circumvallation was formed to prevent their escape. After these precautions, Stilicho, too confident of victory, retired to enjoy his triumph in the theatrical games and lascivious dances of the Greeks; his soldiers, deserting their standards, spread themselves over the country of their allies, which they stripped of all that had been saved from the rapacious hands of the enemy. Alaric appears to have seized the favourable moment to execute one of those hardy enterprises, in which the abilities of a general are displayed with more genuine lustre than in the tumult of a day of battle. To extricate himself from the prison of Peloponnesus, it was necessary that he should pierce the intrenchments which surrounded his camp; that he should perform a difficult and dangerous march of thirty miles as far as the Gulf of Corinth; and that he should transport his troops, his captives, and his spoil over an arm of the sea which, in the narrow interval between Rhium and the opposite shore, is at least half a mile in breadth.19 The operations of Alaric must have been secret, prudent, and rapid; since the Roman general was confounded by the intelligence that the Goths, who had eluded his efforts, were in full possession of the important province of Epirus. This unfortunate delay allowed Alaric sufficient time to conclude the treaty, which he secretly negotiated with the ministers of Constantinople. Edition: current; Page: [145] The apprehension of a civil war compelled Stilicho to retire, at the haughty mandate of his rivals, from the dominions of Arcadius; and he respected in the enemy of Rome the honourable character of the ally and servant of the emperor of the East.

A Grecian philosopher,20 who visited Constantinople soon after the death of Theodosius, published his liberal opinions concerning the duties of kings and the state of the Roman republic. Synesius observes and deplores the fatal abuse which the imprudent bounty of the late emperor had introduced into the military service. The citizens and subjects had purchased an exemption from the indispensable duty of defending their country; which was supported by the arms of Barbarian mercenaries. The fugitives of Scythia were permitted to disgrace the illustrious dignities of the empire; their ferocious youth, who disdained the salutary restraint of laws, were more anxious to acquire the riches than to imitate the arts of a people, the object of their contempt and hatred; and the power of the Goths was the stone of Tantalus, perpetually suspended over the peace and safety of the devoted state. The measures which Synesius recommends are the dictates of a bold and generous patriot. He exhorts the emperor to revive the courage of his subjects by the example of manly virtue; to banish luxury from the court and from the camp; to substitute in the place of the Barbarian mercenaries, an army of men interested in the defence of their laws and of their property; to force, in such a moment of public danger, the mechanic from his shop and the philosopher from his school; to rouse the indolent citizen from his dream of pleasure, and to arm, for the protection of Edition: current; Page: [146] agriculture, the hands of the laborious husbandman. At the head of such troops, who might deserve the name, and would display the spirit, of Romans, he animates the son of Theodosius to encounter a race of Barbarians who were destitute of any real courage; and never to lay down his arms, till he had chased them far away into the solitudes of Scythia; or had reduced them to the state of ignominious servitude which the Lacedæmonians formerly imposed on the captive Helots.21 The court of Arcadius indulged the zeal, applauded the eloquence, and neglected the advice of Synesius. Perhaps the philosopher, who addresses the emperor of the East in the language of reason and virtue which he might have used to a Spartan king, had not condescended to form a practicable scheme, consistent with the temper and circumstances of a degenerate age. Perhaps the pride of the ministers, whose business was seldom interrupted by reflection, might reject as wild and visionary every proposal which exceeded the measure of their capacity and deviated from the forms and precedents of office. While the oration of Synesius and the downfall of the Barbarians were the topics of popular conversation, an edict was published at Constantinople, which declared the promotion of Alaric to the rank of master-general of the Eastern Illyricum. The Roman provincials and the allies, who had respected the faith of treaties, were justly indignant that the ruin of Greece and Epirus should be so liberally rewarded. The Gothic conqueror was received as a lawful magistrate, in the cities which he had so lately besieged. The fathers whose sons he had massacred, the husbands whose wives he had violated, were subject to his authority; and the success of his rebellion encouraged the ambition of every leader of the foreign mercenaries. The use to which Alaric applied his new command distinguishes the firm and judicious character of his policy. He issued his orders to the Edition: current; Page: [147] four magazines and manufactures of offensive and defensive arms, Margus, Ratiaria, Naissus, and Thessalonica, to provide his troops with an extraordinary supply of shields, helmets, swords, and spears; the unhappy provincials were compelled to forge the instruments of their own destruction; and the Barbarians removed the only defect which had sometimes disappointed the efforts of their courage.22 The birth of Alaric, the glory of his past exploits, and the confidence in his future designs insensibly united the body of the nation under his victorious standard; and with the unanimous consent of the Barbarian chieftains, the mastergeneral of Illyricum was elevated, according to ancient custom, on a shield, and solemnly proclaimed king of the Visigoths.23 Armed with this double power, seated on the verge of the two empires, he alternately sold his deceitful promises to the courts of Arcadius and Honorius;24 till he declared and executed his resolution of invading the dominions of the West. The provinces of Europe which belonged to the Eastern emperor were already exhausted; those of Edition: current; Page: [148] Asia were inaccessible; and the strength of Constantinople had resisted his attack. But he was tempted by the fame, the beauty, the wealth of Italy, which he had twice visited; and he secretly aspired to plant the Gothic standard on the walls of Rome, and to enrich his army with the accumulated spoils of three hundred triumphs.25

The scarcity of facts26 and the uncertainty of dates27 oppose our attempts to describe the circumstances of the first invasion of Italy by the arms of Alaric. His march, perhaps from Thessalonica, through the warlike and hostile country of Pannonia, as far as the foot of the Julian Alps; his passage of those mountains, which were strongly guarded by troops and intrenchments; the siege of Aquileia, and the conquest of the provinces of Istria and Venetia, appear to have employed a considerable time. Unless his operations were extremely cautious and slow, the length of the interval would suggest a probable suspicion that the Gothic king retreated towards the banks of the Danube and reinforced his army with fresh swarms of Barbarians, before he again attempted to penetrate into the heart of Italy. Since the public and important events escape the diligence of the historian, he may amuse himself with contemplating, for a moment, the influence of the arms of Alaric on the fortunes of two obscure Edition: current; Page: [149] individuals, a presbyter of Aquileia and an husbandman of Verona. The learned Rufinus, who was summoned by his enemies to appear before a Roman synod,28 wisely preferred the dangers of a besieged city; and the Barbarians, who furiously shook the walls of Aquileia, might save him from the cruel sentence of another heretic, who, at the request of the same bishops, was severely whipped and condemned to perpetual exile on a desert island.29 The old man,30 who had passed his simple and innocent life in the neighbourhood of Verona, was a stranger to the quarrels both of kings and of bishops; his pleasures, his desires, his knowledge, were confined within the little circle of his paternal farm; and a staff supported his aged steps, on the same ground where he had sported in his infancy. Yet even this humble and rustic felicity (which Claudian describes with so much truth and feeling) was still exposed to the undistinguishing rage of war. His trees, his old contemporary trees,31 must blaze in the conflagration of the whole country; a detachment of Gothic cavalry might sweep away his cottage and his family; and the Edition: current; Page: [150] power of Alaric could destroy this happiness which he was not able either to taste or to bestow. “Fame,” says the poet, “encircling with terror her gloomy wings, proclaimed the march of the Barbarian army, and filled Italy with consternation;” the apprehensions of each individual were increased in just proportion to the measure of his fortune; and the most timid, who had already embarked their valuable effects, meditated their escape to the island of Sicily or the African coast. The public distress was aggravated by the fears and reproaches of superstition.32 Every hour produced some horrid tale of strange and portentous accidents; the Pagans deplored the neglect of omens and the interruption of sacrifices; but the Christians still derived some comfort from the powerful intercession of the saints and martyrs.33

The emperor Honorius was distinguished, above his subjects, by the pre-eminence of fear, as well as of rank. The pride and luxury in which he was educated had not allowed him to suspect that there existed on the earth any power presumptuous enough to invade the repose of the successor of Augustus. The arts of flattery concealed the impending danger, till Alaric approached the palace of Milan. But, when the sound of war had awakened the young emperor, instead of flying to arms with the spirit, or even the rashness, of his age, he eagerly listened to those timid counsellors who proposed to convey his sacred person and his faithful attendants to some secure and distant station in the provinces of Gaul. Stilicho alone34 had courage and authority to resist Edition: current; Page: [151] this disgraceful measure, which would have abandoned Rome and Italy to the Barbarians; but, as the troops of the palace had been lately detached to the Rhætian frontier, and as the resource of new levies was slow and precarious, the general of the West could only promise that, if the court of Milan would maintain their ground during his absence, he would soon return with an army equal to the encounter of the Gothic king. Without losing a moment (while each moment was so important to the public safety) Stilicho hastily embarked on the Larian lake, ascended the mountains of ice and snow, amidst the severity of an Alpine winter, and suddenly repressed, by his unexpected presence, the enemy who had disturbed the tranquillity of Rhætia.35 The Barbarians, perhaps some tribes of the Alemanni, respected the firmness of a chief who still assumed the language of command; and the choice which he condescended to make of a select number of their bravest youths was considered as a mark of his esteem and favour. The cohorts, who were delivered from the neighbouring foe, diligently repaired to the Imperial standard; and Stilicho issued his orders to the most remote troops of the West to advance, by rapid marches, to the defence of Honorius and of Italy. The fortresses of the Rhine were abandoned; and the safety of Gaul was protected only by the faith of the Germans and the ancient terror of the Roman name. Even the legion which had been stationed to guard the wall of Britain against the Caledonians of the North was hastily recalled;36 and a numerous body of the cavalry Edition: current; Page: [152] of the Alani was persuaded to engage in the service of the emperor, who anxiously expected the return of his general. The prudence and vigour of Stilicho were conspicuous on this occasion, which revealed, at the same time, the weakness of the falling empire. The legions of Rome, which had long since languished in the gradual decay of discipline and courage, were exterminated by the Gothic and civil wars; and it was found impossible, without exhausting and exposing the provinces, to assemble an army for the defence of Italy.

When Stilicho seemed to abandon his sovereign in the unguarded palace of Milan, he had probably calculated the term of his absence, the distance of the enemy, and the obstacles that might retard their march. He principally depended on the rivers of Italy, the Adige, the Mincius, the Oglio, and the Addua; which, in the winter or spring, by the fall of rains, or by the melting of the snows, are commonly swelled into broad and impetuous torrents.37 But the season happened to be remarkably dry; and the Goths could traverse, without impediment, the wide and stony beds, whose centre was faintly marked by the course of a shallow stream. The bridge and passage of the Addua were secured by a strong detachment of the Gothic army; and, as Alaric approached the walls, or rather the suburbs, of Milan, he enjoyed the proud satisfaction of seeing the emperor of the Romans fly before him. Honorius, accompanied by a feeble train of statesmen and eunuchs, hastily retreated towards the Alps, with a design of securing his person in the city of Arles, which had often been the royal residence of his predecessors. But Honorius38 had scarcely passed the Po, before he was overtaken Edition: current; Page: [153] by the speed of the Gothic cavalry;39 since the urgency of the danger compelled him to seek a temporary shelter within the fortification of Asta, a town of Liguria or Piemont, situate on the banks of the Tanarus.40 The siege of an obscure place, which contained so rich a prize and seemed incapable of a long resistance, was instantly formed and indefatigably pressed by the king of the Goths; and the bold declaration, which the emperor might afterwards make, that his breast had never been susceptible of fear, did not probably obtain much credit, even in his own court.41 In the last and almost hopeless extremity, after the Barbarians had already proposed the indignity of a capitulation, the Imperial captive was suddenly relieved by the fame, the approach, and at length the presence of the hero whom he had so long expected. At the head of a chosen and intrepid vanguard, Stilicho swam the stream of the Addua, to gain the time which he must have lost in the attack of the bridge; the passage of the Po was an enterprise of much less hazard and difficulty; and the successful action, in which he cut his way through the Gothic camp under the walls of Asta, revived the hopes, and vindicated the honour, of Rome. Instead of grasping the fruit of his victory, the Barbarian was gradually invested, on every side, by the troops of the West, who successively issued through all the passes of the Alps; his quarters were straitened; his convoys were intercepted; and the vigilance of the Romans prepared to form a chain of fortifications, and to besiege the lines of the Edition: current; Page: [154] besiegers. A military council was assembled of the longhaired chiefs of the Gothic nation; of aged warriors, whose bodies were wrapped in furs, and whose stern countenances were marked with honourable wounds. They weighed the glory of persisting in their attempt against the advantage of securing their plunder; and they recommended the prudent measure of a seasonable retreat. In this important debate, Alaric displayed the spirit of the conqueror of Rome; and, after he had reminded his countrymen of their achievements and of their designs, he concluded his animating speech by the solemn and positive assurance that he was resolved to find in Italy either a kingdom or a grave.42

The loose discipline of the Barbarians always exposed them to the danger of a surprise; but, instead of choosing the dissolute hours of riot and intemperance, Stilicho resolved to attack the Christian Goths, whilst they were devoutly employed in celebrating the festival of Easter.43 The execution of the stratagem, or, as it was termed by the clergy, of the sacrilege, was entrusted to Saul, a Barbarian and a Pagan, who had served, however, with distinguished reputation among the veteran generals of Theodosius. The camp of the Goths, which Alaric had pitched in the neighbourhood of Pollentia,44 was thrown into confusion by the sudden and impetuous Edition: current; Page: [155] charge of the Imperial cavalry; but, in a few moments, the undaunted genius of their leader gave them an order, and a field, of battle; and, as soon as they had recovered from their astonishment, the pious confidence, that the God of the Christians would assert their cause, added new strength to their native valour. In this engagement, which was long maintained with equal courage and success, the chief of the Alani, whose diminutive and savage form concealed a magnanimous soul, approved his suspected loyalty by the zeal with which he fought, and fell, in the service of the republic; and the fame of this gallant Barbarian has been imperfectly preserved in the verses of Claudian, since the poet, who celebrates his virtue, has omitted the mention of his name. His death was followed by the flight and dismay of the squadrons which he commanded; and the defeat of the wing of cavalry might have decided the victory of Alaric, if Stilicho had not immediately led the Roman and Barbarian infantry to the attack. The skill of the general and the bravery of the soldiers surmounted every obstacle. In the evening of the bloody day, the Goths retreated from the field of battle; the intrenchments of their camp were forced, and the scene of rapine and slaughter made some atonement for the calamities which they had inflicted on the subjects of the empire.45 The magnificent spoils of Corinth and Argos enriched the veterans of the West; the captive wife of Alaric, who had impatiently claimed his promise of Roman jewels and Patrician handmaids,46 was reduced to implore the mercy of the insulting Edition: current; Page: [156] foe; and many thousand prisoners, released from the Gothic chains, dispersed through the provinces of Italy the praises of their heroic deliverer. The triumph of Stilicho47 was compared by the poet, and perhaps by the public, to that of Marius; who, in the same part of Italy, had encountered and destroyed another army of Northern Barbarians. The huge bones, and the empty helmets, of the Cimbri and of the Goths would easily be confounded by succeeding generations; and posterity might erect a common trophy to the memory of the two most illustrious generals who had vanquished, on the same memorable ground, the two most formidable enemies of Rome.48

The eloquence of Claudian49 has celebrated with lavish applause the victory of Pollentia, one of the most glorious days in the life of his patron; but his reluctant and partial muse bestows more genuine praise on the character of the Gothic king. His name is indeed branded with the reproachful epithets of pirate and robber, to which the conquerors of every age are so justly entitled; but the poet of Stilicho is compelled to acknowledge that Alaric possessed the invincible temper of mind which rises superior to every misfortune and derives new resources from adversity. After the total defeat of his infantry he escaped, or rather withdrew, from the field of battle, with the greatest part of his cavalry entire Edition: current; Page: [157] and unbroken. Without wasting a moment to lament the irreparable loss of so many brave companions, he left his victorious enemy to bind in chains the captive images of a Gothic king;50 and boldly resolved to break through the unguarded passes of the Apennine, to spread desolation over the fruitful face of Tuscany, and to conquer or die before the gates of Rome.51 The capital was saved by the active and incessant diligence of Stilicho: but he respected the despair of his enemy; and, instead of committing the fate of the republic to the chance of another battle, he proposed to purchase the absence of the Barbarians. The spirit of Alaric would have rejected such terms, the permission of a retreat and the offer of a pension, with contempt and indignation; but he exercised a limited and precarious authority over the independent chieftains, who had raised him, for their service, above the rank of his equals; they were still less disposed to follow an unsuccessful general, and many of them were tempted to consult their interest by a private negotiation with the minister of Honorious. The king submitted to the voice of his people, ratified the treaty with the empire of the West, and repassed the Po, with the remains of the flourishing army which he had led into Italy. A considerable part of the Roman forces still continued to attend his motions; and Stilicho, who maintained a secret correspondence with some of the Barbarian chiefs, was punctually apprized of the designs that were formed in the camp and council of Alaric. The king of the Goths, ambitious to signalise his retreat by some splendid achievement, had resolved to occupy the important city of Verona, Edition: current; Page: [158] which commands the principal passage of the Rhætian Alps; and directing his march through the territories of those German tribes, whose alliance would restore his exhausted strength, to invade, on the side of the Rhine, the wealthy and unsuspecting provinces of Gaul. Ignorant of the treason, which had already betrayed his bold and judicious enterprise, he advanced towards the passes of the mountains, already possessed by the Imperial troops; where he was exposed, almost at the same instant, to a general attack in the front, on his flanks, and in the rear. In this bloody action, at a small distance from the walls of Verona,52 the loss of the Goths was not less heavy than that which they had sustained in the defeat of Pollentia; and their valiant king, who escaped by the swiftness of his horse, must either have been slain or made prisoner, if the hasty rashness of the Alani had not disappointed the measures of the Roman general. Alaric secured the remains of his army on the adjacent rocks; and prepared himself with undaunted resolution to maintain a siege against the superior numbers of the enemy, who invested him on all sides. But he could not oppose the destructive progress of hunger and disease; nor was it possible for him to check the continual desertion of his impatient and capricious Barbarians. In this extremity he still found resources in his own courage, or in the moderation of his adversary; and the retreat of the Gothic king was considered as the deliverance of Italy.53 Yet the people and even the clergy, incapable of forming any rational judgment of the business of peace and war, presumed to arraign the policy of Stilicho, who so often vanquished, so often surrounded, and so often dismissed the implacable enemy of the republic. The first moment of the public safety is devoted to gratitude and joy; but the second is diligently occupied by envy and calumny.54

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The citizens of Rome had been astonished by the approach of Alaric; and the diligence with which they laboured to restore the walls of the capital confessed their own fears and the decline of the empire. After the retreat of the Barbarians, Honorius was directed to accept the dutiful invitation of the senate, and to celebrate in the Imperial city the auspicious era of the Gothic victory and of his sixth consulship.55 The suburbs and the streets from the Milvian bridge to the Palatine mount, were filled by the Roman people, who, in the space of an hundred years, had only thrice been honoured with the presence of their sovereigns. While their eyes were fixed on the chariot where Stilicho was deservedly seated by the side of his royal pupil, they applauded the pomp of a triumph, which was not stained, like that of Constantine, or of Theodosius, with civil blood. The procession passed under a lofty arch, which had been purposely erected: but in less than seven years the Gothic conquerors of Rome might read, if they were able to read, the superb inscription of that monument, which attested the total defeat and destruction of their nation.56 The emperor resided several months in the capital, and every part of his behaviour was regulated with care to conciliate the affection of the clergy, the senate, and the people of Rome. The clergy was edified by his frequent visits and liberal gifts to the shrines of the apostles. The senate, who in the triumphal procession had been excused from the humiliating ceremony of preceding on foot the Imperial chariot, was treated with the decent reverence which Stilicho always affected for that assembly. The people was repeatedly gratified by the attention and courtesy of Honorius in the Edition: current; Page: [160] public games, which were celebrated on that occasion with a magnificence not unworthy of the spectator. As soon as the appointed number of chariot races was concluded, the decoration of the Circus was suddenly changed; the hunting of wild beasts afforded a various and splendid entertainment; and the chase was succeeded by a military dance, which seems in the lively description of Claudian to present the image of a modern tournament.

In these games of Honorius, the inhuman combats of gladiators57 polluted, for the last time, the amphitheatre of Rome. The first Christian emperor may claim the honour of the first edict which condemned the art and amusement of shedding human blood;58 but this benevolent law expressed the wishes of the prince, without reforming an inveterate abuse, which degraded a civilised nation below the condition of savage cannibals. Several hundred, perhaps several thousand, victims were annually slaughtered in the great cities of the empire; and the month of December, more peculiarly devoted to the combats of gladiators, still exhibited to the eyes of the Roman people a grateful spectacle of blood and cruelty. Amidst the general joy of the victory of Pollentia, a Christian poet exhorted the emperor to extirpate by his authority the horrid custom which had so long resisted the voice of humanity and religion.59 The pathetic representations of Prudentius were less effectual than the generous boldness of Telemachus, an Asiatic monk, whose death was more useful to mankind than his life.60 The Romans were provoked by the interruption Edition: current; Page: [none] Edition: current; Page: [161] of their pleasures; and the rash monk, who had descended into the arena to separate the gladiators, was overwhelmed under a shower of stones. But the madness of the people soon subsided; they respected the memory of Telemachus, who had deserved the honours of martyrdom; and they submitted, without a murmur, to the laws of Honorius, which abolished for ever the human sacrifices of the amphitheatre. The citizens who adhered to the manners of their ancestors, might perhaps insinuate that the last remains of a martial spirit were preserved in this school of fortitude, which accustomed the Romans to the sight of blood and to the contempt of death: a vain and cruel prejudice, so nobly confuted by the valour of ancient Greece and of modern Europe.61

Armour of Galadiators. Found at Ercolano, and now in the National Museum, Naples.

The recent danger to which the person of the emperor had been exposed in the defenceless palace of Milan urged him to seek a retreat in some inaccessible fortress of Italy, where he might securely remain while the open country was covered by a deluge of Barbarians. On the coast of the Hadriatic, about ten or twelve miles from the most southern of the seven mouths of the Po, the Thessalians had founded the ancient colony of Ravenna,62 which they afterwards resigned to the natives of Umbria. Augustus, who had observed the opportunity of the place, prepared, at the distance of three miles from the old Edition: current; Page: [162] town, a capacious harbour for the reception of two hundred and fifty ships of war. This naval establishment, which included the arsenals and magazines, the barracks of the troops, and the houses of the artificers, derived its origin and name from the permanent station of the Roman fleet; the intermediate space was soon filled with buildings and inhabitants, and the three extensive and populous quarters of Ravenna gradually contributed to form one of the most important cities of Italy. The principal canal of Augustus poured a copious stream of the waters of the Po through the midst of the city to the entrance of the harbour; the same waters were introduced into the profound ditches that encompassed the walls; they were distributed by a thousand subordinate canals into every part of the city, which they divided into a variety of small islands; the communication was maintained only by the use of boats and bridges; and the houses of Ravenna, whose appearance may be compared to that of Venice, were raised on the foundation of wooden piles. The adjacent country, to the distance of many miles, was a deep and impassable morass; and the artificial causeway, which connected Ravenna with the continent, might be easily guarded or destroyed on the approach of an hostile army. These morasses were interspersed, however, with vineyards; and, though the soil was exhausted by four or five crops, the town enjoyed a more plentiful supply of wine than of fresh water.63 The air, instead of receiving the sickly and almost pestilential exhalations of low and marshy grounds, was distinguished, like the neighbourhood of Alexandria, as uncommonly pure and salubrious; and this singular advantage was ascribed to the regular tides of the Hadriatic, which swept the canals, interrupted the unwholesome stagnation of the waters, and floated every day the vessels of the adjacent Edition: current; Page: [163] country into the heart of Ravenna. The gradual retreat of the sea has left the modern city at the distance of four miles from the Hadriatic; and as early as the fifth or sixth century of the Christian era the port of Augustus was converted into pleasant orchards, and a lonely grove of pines covered the ground where the Roman fleet once rode at anchor.64 Even this alteration contributed to increase the natural strength of the place; and the shallowness of the water was a sufficient barrier against the large ships of the enemy. This advantageous situation was fortified by art and labour; and in the twentieth year of his age the emperor of the West, anxious only for his personal safety, retired to the perpetual confinement of the walls and morasses of Ravenna. The example of Honorius was imitated by his feeble successors, the Gothic kings, and afterwards the Exarchs, who occupied the throne and palace of the emperors; and, till the middle of the eighth century, Ravenna was considered as the seat of government and the capital of Italy.65

The fears of Honorius were not without foundation, nor were his precautions without effect. While Italy rejoiced in her deliverance from the Goths, a furious tempest was excited among the nations of Germany, who yielded to the irresistible impulse that appears to have been gradually communicated from the eastern extremity of the continent of Asia. The Chinese annals, as they have been interpreted by the learned industry of the present age, may be usefully applied to reveal the secret and remote causes of the fall of the Roman empire. The extensive territory to the north of the great wall was possessed, Edition: current; Page: [164] after the flight of the Huns, by the victorious Sien-pi, who were sometimes broken into independent tribes, and re-united under a supreme chief; till at length, styling themselves Topa, or masters of the earth, they acquired a more solid consistence and a more formidable power. The Topa soon compelled the pastoral nations of the eastern desert to acknowledge the superiority of their arms; they invaded China in a period of weakness and intestine discord; and these fortunate Tartars, adopting the laws and manners of the vanquished people, founded an Imperial dynasty, which reigned near one hundred and sixty years over the northern provinces of the monarchy. Some generations before they ascended the throne of China one of the Topa princes had enlisted in his cavalry a slave of the name of Moko, renowned for his valour; but who was tempted by the fear of punishment to desert his standard and to range the desert at the head of an hundred followers. This gang of robbers and outlaws swelled into a camp, a tribe, a numerous people, distinguished by the appellation of Geougen; and their hereditary chieftains, the posterity of Moko, the slave, assumed their rank among the Scythian monarchs. The youth of Toulun, the greatest of his descendants, was exercised by those misfortunes which are the school of heroes. He bravely struggled with adversity, broke the imperious yoke of the Topa, and became the legislator of his nation and the conqueror of Tartary. His troops were distributed into regular bands of an hundred and of a thousand men; cowards were stoned to death; the most splendid honours were proposed as the reward of valour; and Toulun, who had knowledge enough to despise the learning of China, adopted only such arts and institutions as were favourable to the military spirit of his government. His tents, which he removed in the winter season to a more southern latitude, were pitched during the summer on the fruitful banks of the Selinga. His conquests stretched from Corea far beyond the river Irtish. He vanquished in the country to the north of the Caspian Sea the nation of the Edition: current; Page: [165] Huns; and the new title of Khan or Cagan expressed the fame and power which he derived from this memorable victory.66

The chain of events is interrupted, or rather is concealed, as it passes from the Volga to the Vistula, through the dark interval which separates the extreme limits of the Chinese and of the Roman geography. Yet the temper of the Barbarians and the experience of successive emigrations sufficiently declare that the Huns, who were oppressed by the arms of the Geougen, soon withdrew from the presence of an insulting victor. The countries towards the Euxine were already occupied by their kindred tribes; and their hasty flight, which they soon converted into a bold attack, would more naturally be directed towards the rich and level plains through which the Vistula gently flows into the Baltic Sea. The North must again have been alarmed and agitated by the invasion of the Huns; and the nations who retreated before them must have pressed with incumbent weight on the confines of Germany.67 The inhabitants of those regions which the ancients have assigned to the Suevi, the Vandals, and the Burgundians might embrace the resolution of abandoning to the fugitives of Sarmatia their woods and morasses; or at least of discharging their superfluous numbers on the provinces of the Roman empire.68 About four years after the victorious Edition: current; Page: [166] Toulun had assumed the title of Khan of the Geougen, another Barbarian, the haughty Rhodogast or Radagaisus,69 marched from the northern extremities of Germany almost to the gates of Rome, and left the remains of his army to achieve the destruction of the West. The Vandals, the Suevi, and the Burgundians formed the strength of this mighty host; but the Alani, who had found an hospitable reception in their new seats, added their active cavalry to the heavy infantry of the Germans; and the Gothic adventurers crowded so eagerly to the standard of Radagaisus that, by some historians, he has been styled the king of the Goths. Twelve thousand warriors, distinguished above the vulgar by their noble birth or their valiant deeds, glittered in the van;70 and the whole multitude, which was not less than two hundred thousand fighting men, might be increased by the accession of women, of children, and of slaves, to the amount of four hundred thousand persons. This formidable emigration issued from the same coast of the Baltic which had poured forth the myriads of the Cimbri and Teutones to assault Rome and Italy in the vigour of the republic. After the departure of those Barbarians, their native country, which was marked by the vestiges of their greatness, long ramparts and gigantic moles,71 remained during some ages a vast and dreary solitude; till the human species was renewed by the powers of generation, Edition: current; Page: [167] and the vacancy was filled by the influx of new inhabitants. The nations who now usurp an extent of land which they are unable to cultivate would soon be assisted by the industrious poverty of their neighbours, if the government of Europe did not protect the claims of dominion and property.

The correspondence of nations was in that age so imperfect and precarious that the revolutions of the North might escape the knowledge of the court of Ravenna; till the dark cloud which was collected along the coast of the Baltic burst in thunder upon the banks of the Upper Danube. The emperor of the West, if his ministers disturbed his amusements by the news of the impending danger, was satisfied with being the occasion, and the spectator, of the war.72 The safety of Rome was entrusted to the counsels and the sword of Stilicho; but such was the feeble and exhausted state of the empire that it was impossible to restore the fortifications of the Danube, or to prevent, by a vigorous effort, the invasion of the Germans.73 The hopes of the vigilant minister of Honorius were confined to the defence of Italy. He once more abandoned the provinces, recalled the troops, pressed the new levies, which were rigorously exacted and pusillanimously eluded, employed the most efficacious means to arrest, or allure, the deserters, and offered the gift of freedom, and of two pieces of gold, to all the slaves who would enlist.74 By these efforts he painfully Edition: current; Page: [168] collected, from the subjects of a great empire, an army of thirty or forty thousand men, which, in the days of Scipio or Camillus, would have been instantly furnished by the free citizens of the territory of Rome.75 The thirty legions of Stilicho were reinforced by a large body of Barbarian auxiliaries; the faithful Alani were personally attached to his service; and the troops of Huns and of Goths, who marched under the banners of their native princes, Huldin and Sarus, were animated by interest and resentment to oppose the ambition of Radagaisus. The king of the confederate Germans passed, without resistance, the Alps, the Po, and the Apennine, leaving on one hand the inaccessible palace of Honorius, securely buried among the marshes of Ravenna, and, on the other, the camp of Stilicho, who had fixed his headquarters at Ticinum, or Pavia, but who seems to have avoided a decisive battle, till he had assembled his distant forces. Many cities of Italy were pillaged, or destroyed, and the siege of Florence76 by Radagaisus is one of the earliest events in the history of that celebrated republic, whose firmness checked and delayed the unskilful fury of the Barbarians. The senate and people trembled at their approach within an hundred and eighty miles of Rome, and anxiously compared the danger which they had escaped with the new perils to which they were exposed. Alaric was a Christian and a soldier, the leader of a disciplined army; who understood the laws of war, who respected the sanctity of treaties, and who Edition: current; Page: [169] had familiarly conversed with the subjects of the empire in the same camps, and the same churches. The savage Radagaisus was a stranger to the manners, the religion, and even the language of the civilised nations of the South. The fierceness of his temper was exasperated by cruel superstition, and it was universally believed that he had bound himself by a solemn vow to reduce the city into a heap of stones and ashes, and to sacrifice the most illustrious of the Roman senators on the altars of those gods who were appeased by human blood. The public danger, which should have reconciled all domestic animosities, displayed the incurable madness of religious faction. The oppressed votaries of Jupiter and Mercury respected, in the implacable enemy of Rome, the character of a devout Pagan; loudly declared that they were more apprehensive of the sacrifices than of the arms of Radagaisus, and secretly rejoiced in the calamities of their country, which condemned the faith of their Christian adversaries.77

Florence was reduced to the last extremity, and the fainting courage of the citizens was supported only by the authority of St. Ambrose, who had communicated, in a dream, the promise of a speedy deliverance.78 On a sudden, they beheld, from their walls, the banners of Stilicho, who advanced, with his united force, to the relief of the faithful city, and who soon marked that fatal spot for the grave of the Barbarian host. The apparent contradictions of those writers who variously relate the defeat of Radagaisus may be reconciled, without offering much violence to their respective testimonies. Orosius and Augustin, who were intimately connected by friendship Edition: current; Page: [170] and religion, ascribe this miraculous victory to the providence of God rather than to the valour of man.79 They strictly exclude every idea of chance, or even of bloodshed, and positively affirm that the Romans, whose camp was the scene of plenty and idleness, enjoyed the distress of the Barbarians, slowly expiring on the sharp and barren ridge of the hills of Fæsulæ, which rise above the city of Florence. Their extravagant assertion that not a single soldier of the Christian army was killed, or even wounded, may be dismissed with silent contempt; but the rest of the narrative of Augustin and Orosius is consistent with the state of the war and the character of Stilicho. Conscious that he commanded the last army of the republic, his prudence would not expose it in the open field to the headstrong fury of the Germans. The method of surrounding the enemy with strong lines of circumvallation, which he had twice employed against the Gothic king, was repeated on a larger scale, and with more considerable effect. The examples of Cæsar must have been familiar to the most illiterate of the Roman warriors; and the fortifications of Dyrrachium, which connected twenty-four castles by a perpetual ditch and rampart of fifteen miles, afforded the model of an intrenchment which might confine and starve the most numerous host of Barbarians.80 The Roman troops had less degenerated from the industry than from the valour of their ancestors, and, if the servile and laborious Edition: current; Page: [171] work offended the pride of the soliders, Tuscany could supply many thousand peasants who would labour, though perhaps they would not fight, for the salvation of their native country. The imprisoned multitude of horses and men81 was gradually destroyed by famine rather than by the sword; but the Romans were exposed, during the progress of such an extensive work, to the frequent attacks of an impatient enemy. The despair of the hungry Barbarians would precipitate them against the fortifications of Stilicho; the general might sometimes indulge the ardour of his brave auxiliaries, who eagerly pressed to assault the camp of the Germans; and these various incidents might produce the sharp and bloody conflicts which dignify the narrative of Zosimus and the Chronicles of Prosper and Marcellinus.82 A seasonable supply of men and provisions had been introduced into the walls of Florence, and the famished host of Radagaisus was in its turn besieged. The proud monarch of so many warlike nations, after the loss of his bravest warriors, was reduced to confide either in the faith of a capitulation or in the clemency of Stilicho.83 But the death of the royal captive, who was ignominiously beheaded, disgraced the triumph of Rome and of Christianity, and the short delay of his execution was sufficient to brand the conqueror with the guilt of cool and deliberate cruelty.84 The famished Germans who escaped the fury of the auxiliaries were sold as slaves, at the contemptible Edition: current; Page: [172] price of as many single pieces of gold; but the difference of food and climate swept away great numbers of those unhappy strangers; and it was observed that the inhuman purchasers, instead of reaping the fruits of their labour, were soon obliged to provide the expense of their interment. Stilicho informed the emperor and the senate of his success; and deserved, a second time, the glorious title of Deliverer of Italy.85

The fame of the victory, and more especially of the miracle, has encouraged a vain persuasion that the whole army, or rather nation, of Germans, who migrated from the shores of the Baltic, miserably perished under the walls of Florence. Such indeed was the fate of Radagaisus himself, of his brave and faithful companions, and of more than one third of the various multitude of Sueves and Vandals, of Alani and Burgundians, who adhered to the standard of their general.86 The union of such an army might excite our surprise, but the causes of separation are obvious and forcible; the pride of birth, the insolence of valour, the jealousy of command, the impatience of subordination, and the obstinate conflict of opinions, of interests, and of passions, among so many kings and warriors, who were untaught to yield, or to obey. After the defeat of Radagaisus, two parts of the German host, which must have exceeded the number of one hundred thousand men, still remained in arms, between the Apennine and the Alps, or between the Alps and the Danube. It is uncertain Edition: current; Page: [173] whether they attempted to revenge the death of their general; but their irregular fury was soon diverted by the prudence and firmness of Stilicho, who opposed their march, and facilitated their retreat; who considered the safety of Rome and Italy as the great object of his care, and who sacrificed, with too much indifference, the wealth and tranquillity of the distant provinces.87 The Barbarians acquired, from the junction of some Pannonian deserters, the knowledge of the country and of the roads; and the invasion of Gaul, which Alaric had designed, was executed by the remains of the great army of Radagaisus.88

Yet, if they expected to derive any assistance from the tribes of Germany, who inhabited the banks of the Rhine, their hopes were disappointed: The Alemanni preserved a state of inactive neutrality; and the Franks distinguished their zeal and courage in the defence of the empire. In the rapid progress down the Rhine, which was the first act of the administration of Stilicho, he had applied himself, with peculiar attention, to secure the alliance of the warlike Franks, and to remove the irreconcileable enemies of peace and of the republic. Marcomir, one of their kings, was publicly convicted before the tribunal of the Roman magistrate, of violating the faith of treaties. He was sentenced to a mild, but distant, exile in the province of Tuscany; and this degradation of the regal dignity was so far from exciting the resentment of his subjects that they punished with death the turbulent Edition: current; Page: [174] Sunno, who attempted to revenge his brother; and maintained a dutiful allegiance to the princes who were established on the throne by the choice of Stilicho.89 When the limits of Gaul and Germany were shaken by the northern emigration, the Franks bravely encountered the single force of the Vandals, who, regardless of the lessons of adversity, had again separated their troops from the standard of their Barbarian allies. They paid the penalty of their rashness, and twenty thousand Vandals, with their king Godigisclus, were slain in the field of battle. The whole people must have been extirpated if the squadrons of the Alani, advancing to their relief, had not trampled down the infantry of the Franks, who, after an honourable resistance, were compelled to relinquish the unequal contest. The victorious confederates pursued their march; and on the last day of the year, in a season when the waters of the Rhine were most probably frozen, they entered, without opposition, the defenceless provinces of Gaul. This memorable passage of the Suevi, the Vandals, the Alani, and the Burgundians, who never afterwards retreated, may be considered as the fall of the Roman empire in the countries beyond the Alps; and the barriers, which had so long separated the savage and the civilised nations of the earth, were from that fatal moment levelled with the ground.90

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While the peace of Germany was secured by the attachment of the Franks, and the neutrality of the Alemanni, the subjects of Rome, unconscious of their approaching calamities, enjoyed the state of quiet and prosperity, which had seldom blessed the frontiers of Gaul. Their flocks and herds were permitted to graze in the pastures of the Barbarians; their huntsmen penetrated, without fear or danger, into the darkest recesses of the Hercynian wood.91 The banks of the Rhine were crowned, like those of the Tiber, with elegant houses, and well-cultivated farms; and, if a poet descended the river, he might express his doubt on which side was situated the territory of the Romans.92 This scene of peace and plenty was suddenly changed into a desert; and the prospect of the smoking ruins could alone distinguish the solitude of nature from the desolation of man. The flourishing city of Mentz was surprised and destroyed; and many thousand Christians were inhumanly massacred in the church. Worms perished after a long and obstinate siege; Strasburg, Spires, Rheims, Tournay, Arras, Amiens, experienced the cruel oppression of the German yoke; and the consuming flames of war spread from the banks of the Rhine over the greatest part of the seventeen provinces of Gaul. That rich and extensive country, as far as the ocean, the Alps, and the Pyrenees, was delivered to the Barbarians, who drove before them, in a promiscuous crowd, the bishop, the senator, and the virgin, laden with the spoils of their houses and altars.93 The ecclesiastics, to whom we are Edition: current; Page: [176] indebted for this vague description of the public calamities, embraced the opportunity of exhorting the Christians to repent of the sins which had provoked the Divine Justice, and to renounce the perishable goods of a wretched and deceitful world. But, as the Pelagian controversy,94 which attempts to sound the abyss of grace and predestination, soon became the serious employment of the Latin clergy; the Providence which had decreed, or foreseen, or permitted such a train of moral and natural evils was rashly weighed in the imperfect and fallacious balance of reason. The crimes and the misfortunes of the suffering people were presumptuously compared with those of their ancestors; and they arraigned the Divine Justice, which did not exempt from the common destruction the feeble, the guiltless, the infant portion of the human species. These idle disputants overlooked the invariable laws of nature, which have connected peace with innocence, plenty with industry, and safety with valour. The timid and selfish policy of the court of Ravenna might recall the Palatine legions for the protection of Italy; the remains of the stationary troops might be unequal to the arduous task; and the Barbarian auxiliaries might prefer the unbounded licence of spoil to the benefits of a moderate and regular stipend. But the provinces of Gaul were filled with a numerous race of hardy and robust youth, who, in the defence of their houses, their families, and their altars, if they had dared to die, would have deserved to vanquish. The knowledge of their native country would have enabled them to oppose continual and insuperable obstacles to the progress of an invader; and the deficiency of the Barbarians, Edition: current; Page: [177] in arms as well as in discipline, removed the only pretence which excuses the submission of a populous country to the inferior numbers of a veteran army. When France was invaded by Charles the Fifth, he inquired of a prisoner how many days Paris might be distant from the frontier. “Perhaps twelve, but they will be days of battle;”95 such was the gallant answer which checked the arrogance of that ambitious prince. The subjects of Honorius and those of Francis I. were animated by a very different spirit; and in less than two years the divided troops of the savages of the Baltic, whose numbers, were they fairly stated, would appear contemptible, advanced without a combat to the foot of the Pyrenæan mountains.

In the early part of the reign of Honorius, the vigilance of Stilicho had successfully guarded the remote island of Britain from her incessant enemies of the ocean, the mountains, and the Irish coast.96 But those restless Barbarians could not neglect the fair opportunity of the Gothic war, when the walls and stations of the province were stripped of the Roman troops. If any of the legionaries were permitted to return from the Italian expedition, their faithful report of the court and character of Honorius must have tended to dissolve the bonds of allegiance and to exasperate the seditious temper of the British army. The spirit of revolt, which had formerly disturbed the age of Gallienus, was revived by the capricious Edition: current; Page: [178] violence of the soldiers; and the unfortunate, perhaps the ambitious, candidates, who were the objects of their choice, were the instruments, and at length the victims, of their passion.97 Marcus was the first whom they placed on the throne, as the lawful emperor of Britain, and of the West. They violated, by the hasty murder of Marcus, the oath of fidelity which they had imposed on themselves; and their disapprobation of his manners may seem to inscribe an honourable epitaph on his tomb. Gratian was the next whom they adorned with the diadem and the purple; and, at the end of four months, Gratian experienced the fate of his predecessor. The memory of the great Constantine, whom the British legions had given to the church and to the empire, suggested the singular motive of their third choice. They discovered in the ranks a private soldier of the name of Constantine, and their impetuous levity had already seated him on the throne, before they perceived his incapacity to sustain the weight of that glorious appellation.98 Yet the authority of Constantine was less precarious, and his government was more successful, than the transient reigns of Marcus and of Gratian. The danger of leaving his inactive troops in those camps which had been twice polluted with blood and sedition urged him to attempt the reduction of the Western provinces. He landed at Boulogne with an inconsiderable force; and, after he had reposed himself some days, he summoned the cities of Gaul, which had escaped the yoke of the Barbarians, to acknowledge their Edition: current; Page: [179] lawful sovereign. They obeyed the summons without reluctance. The neglect of the court of Ravenna had absolved a deserted people from the duty of allegiance; their actual distress encouraged them to accept any circumstances of change, without apprehension, and perhaps with some degree of hope; and they might flatter themselves that the troops, the authority, and even the name of a Roman emperor, who fixed his residence in Gaul, would protect the unhappy country from the rage of the Barbarians. The first successes of Constantine against the detached parties of the Germans were magnified by the voice of adulation into splendid and decisive victories; which the reunion and insolence of the enemy soon reduced to their just value. His negotiations procured a short and precarious truce; and, if some tribes of the Barbarians were engaged, by the liberality of his gifts and promises, to undertake the defence of the Rhine, these expensive and uncertain treaties, instead of restoring the pristine vigour of the Gallic frontier, served only to disgrace the majesty of the prince and to exhaust what yet remained of the treasures of the republic. Elated, however, with this imaginary triumph, the vain deliverer of Gaul advanced into the provinces of the South, to encounter a more pressing and personal danger. Sarus the Goth was ordered to lay the head of the rebel at the feet of the emperor Honorius; and the forces of Britain and Italy were unworthily consumed in this domestic quarrel. After the loss of his two bravest generals Justinian and Nevigastes, the former of whom was slain in the field of battle, the latter in a peaceful and treacherous interview, Constantine fortified himself within the walls of Vienna. The place was ineffectually attacked seven days; and the Imperial army supported, in a precipitate retreat, the ignominy of purchasing a secure passage from the freebooters and outlaws of the Alps.99 Those mountains now separated the dominions of Edition: current; Page: [180] two rival monarchs: and the fortifications of the double frontier were guarded by the troops of the empire, whose arms would have been more usefully employed to maintain the Roman limits against the Barbarians of Germany and Scythia.

On the side of the Pyrenees, the ambition of Constantine might be justified by the proximity of danger; but his throne was soon established by the conquest, or rather submission, of Spain; which yielded to the influence of regular and habitual subordination, and received the laws and magistrates of the Gallic prefecture. The only opposition which was made to the authority of Constantine proceeded not so much from the powers of government, or the spirit of the people, as from the private zeal and interest of the family of Theodosius. Four brothers100 had obtained by the favour of their kinsman, the deceased emperor, an honourable rank, and ample possessions, in their native country; and the grateful youths resolved to risk those advantages in the service of his son. After an unsuccessful effort to maintain their ground at the head of the stationary troops of Lusitania, they retired to their estates; where they armed and levied, at their own expense, a considerable body of slaves and dependents, and boldly marched to occupy the strong posts of the Pyrenæan mountains. This domestic insurrection alarmed and perplexed the sovereign of Gaul and Britain; and he was compelled to negotiate with some troops of Barbarian auxiliaries, for the service of the Spanish war. They were distinguished by the title of Honorians;101 a name which might have Edition: current; Page: [181] reminded them of their fidelity to their lawful sovereign; and, if it should candidly be allowed that the Scots were influenced by any partial affection for a British prince, the Moors and Marcomanni could be tempted only by the profuse liberality of the usurper, who distributed among the Barbarians the military, and even the civil, honours of Spain. The nine bands of Honorians, which may be easily traced on the establishment of the Western empire, could not exceed the number of five thousand men; yet this inconsiderable force was sufficient to terminate a war which had threatened the power and safety of Constantine. The rustic army of the Theodosian family was surrounded and destroyed in the Pyrenees: two of the brothers had the good fortune to escape by sea to Italy, or the East; the other two, after an interval of suspense, were executed at Arles; and, if Honorius could remain insensible of the public disgrace, he might perhaps be affected by the personal misfortunes of his generous kinsmen. Such were the feeble arms which decided the possession of the Western provinces of Europe, from the wall of Antoninus to the columns of Hercules. The events of peace and war have undoubtedly been diminished by the narrow and imperfect view of the historians of the times, who were equally ignorant of the causes and of the effects of the most important revolutions. But the total decay of the national strength had annihilated even the last resource of a despotic government; and the revenue of exhausted provinces could no longer purchase the military service of a discontented and pusillanimous people.

The poet whose flattery has ascribed to the Roman eagle Edition: current; Page: [182] the victories of Pollentia and Verona pursues the hasty retreat of Alaric, from the confines of Italy, with a horrid train of imaginary spectres, such as might hover over an army of Barbarians, which was almost exterminated by war, famine, and disease.102 In the course of this unfortunate expedition, the king of the Goths must indeed have sustained a considerable loss, and his harassed forces required an interval of repose, to recruit their numbers and revive their confidence. Adversity had exercised, and displayed, the genius of Alaric; and the fame of his valour invited to the Gothic standard the bravest of the Barbarian warriors, who, from the Euxine to the Rhine, were agitated by the desire of rapine and conquest. He had deserved the esteem, and he soon accepted the friendship, of Stilicho himself. Renouncing the service of the emperor of the East, Alaric concluded, with the court of Ravenna, a treaty of peace and alliance, by which he was declared master-general of the Roman armies throughout the prefecture of Illyricum; as it was claimed, according to the true and ancient limits, by the minister of Honorius.103 The execution of the ambitious design, which was either stipulated, or implied, in the articles of the treaty, appears to have been suspended by the formidable irruption of Radagaisus; and the neutrality of the Gothic king may perhaps be compared to the indifference of Cæsar, who, in the conspiracy of Catiline, refused either to assist or to oppose the enemy of the republic. After the defeat of the Vandals, Stilicho resumed his pretensions to the provinces of the East; appointed civil magistrates for the administration of justice, and of the finances; and declared his impatience to lead to Edition: current; Page: [183] the gates of Constantinople the united armies of the Romans and of the Goths. The prudence, however, of Stilicho, his aversion to civil war, and his perfect knowledge of the weakness of the state may countenance the suspicion that domestic peace, rather than foreign conquest, was the object of his policy; and that his principal care was to employ the forces of Alaric at a distance from Italy. This design could not long escape the penetration of the Gothic king, who continued to hold a doubtful, and perhaps a treacherous, correspondence with the rival courts, who protracted, like a dissatisfied mercenary, his languid operations in Thessaly and Epirus, and who soon returned to claim the extravagant reward of his ineffectual services. From his camp near Æmona,104 on the confines of Italy, he transmitted, to the emperor of the West, a long account of promises, of expenses, and of demands; called for immediate satisfaction and clearly intimated the consequences of a refusal. Yet, if his conduct was hostile, his language was decent and dutiful. He humbly professed himself the friend of Stilicho, and the soldier of Honorius; offered his person and his troops to march, without delay, against the usurper of Gaul; and solicited, as a permanent retreat for the Gothic nation, the possession of some vacant province of the Western empire.

The political and secret transactions of two statesmen, who laboured to deceive each other and the world, must for ever have been concealed in the impenetrable darkness of the cabinet, if the debates of a popular assembly had not thrown some rays of light on the correspondence of Alaric and Stilicho. The necessity of finding some artificial support for a government, which, from a principle, not of moderation, Edition: current; Page: [184] but of weakness, was reduced to negotiate with its own subjects, had insensibly revived the authority of the Roman senate; and the minister of Honorius respectfully consulted the legislative council of the republic. Stilicho assembled the senate in the palace of the Cæsars; represented, in a studied oration, the actual state of affairs; proposed the demands of the Gothic king, and submitted to their consideration the choice of peace or war. The senators, as if they had been suddenly awakened from a dream of four hundred years, appeared on this important occasion to be inspired by the courage, rather than by the wisdom, of their predecessors. They loudly declared, in regular speeches, or in tumultuary acclamations, that it was unworthy of the majesty of Rome to purchase a precarious and disgraceful truce from a Barbarian king; and that, in the judgment of a magnanimous people, the chance of ruin was always preferable to the certainty of dishonour. The minister, whose pacific intentions were seconded only by the voices of a few servile and venal followers, attempted to allay the general ferment, by an apology for his own conduct, and even for the demands of the Gothic prince. “The payment of a subsidy, which had excited the indignation of the Romans, ought not (such was the language of Stilicho) to be considered in the odious light either of a tribute or of a ransom, extorted by the menaces of a Barbarian enemy. Alaric had faithfully asserted the just pretensions of the republic to the provinces which were usurped by the Greeks of Constantinople; he modestly required the fair and stipulated recompense of his services; and, if he had desisted from the prosecution of his enterprise, he had obeyed, in his retreat, the peremptory though private letters of the emperor himself. These contradictory orders (he would not dissemble the errors of his own family) had been procured by the intercession of Serena. The tender piety of his wife had been too deeply affected by the discord of the royal brothers, the sons of her adopted father; and the sentiments of nature had too easily prevailed Edition: current; Page: [185] over the stern dictates of the public welfare.” These ostensible reasons, which faintly disguise the obscure intrigues of the palace of Ravenna, were supported by the authority of Stilicho; and obtained, after a warm debate, the reluctant approbation of the senate. The tumult of virtue and freedom subsided; and the sum of four thousand pounds of gold was granted, under the name of a subsidy, to secure the peace of Italy, and to conciliate the friendship of the king of the Goths. Lampadius alone, one of the most illustrious members of the assembly, still persisted in his dissent; exclaimed with a loud voice, “This is not a treaty of peace, but of servitude;”105 and escaped the danger of such bold opposition by immediately retiring to the sanctuary of a Christian church.

But the reign of Stilicho drew towards its end, and the proud minister might perceive the symptoms of his approaching disgrace. The generous boldness of Lampadius had been applauded; and the senate, so patiently resigned to a long servitude, rejected with disdain the offer of invidious and imaginary freedom. The troops, who still assumed the name and prerogatives of the Roman legions, were exasperated by the partial affection of Stilicho for the Barbarians; and the people imputed to the mischievous policy of the minister the public misfortunes, which were the natural consequence of their own degeneracy. Yet Stilicho might have continued to brave the clamours of the people, and even of the soldiers, if he could have maintained his dominion over the feeble mind of his pupil. But the respectful attachment of Honorius was converted into fear, suspicion, and hatred. The crafty Olympius,106 who concealed his vices Edition: current; Page: [186] under the mask of Christian piety, had secretly undermined the benefactor by whose favour he was promoted to the honourable offices of the Imperial palace. Olympius revealed to the unsuspecting emperor, who had attained the twenty-fifth year of his age, that he was without weight, or authority, in his own government; and artfully alarmed his timid and indolent disposition by a lively picture of the designs of Stilicho, who already mediated the death of his sovereign, with the ambitious hope of placing the diadem on the head of his son Eucherius. The emperor was instigated, by his new favourite, to assume the tone of independent dignity; and the minister was astonished to find that secret resolutions were formed in the court and council, which were repugnant to his interest or to his intentions. Instead of residing in the palace at Rome, Honorius declared that it was his pleasure to return to the secure fortress of Ravenna. On the first intelligence of the death of his brother Arcadius, he prepared to visit Constantinople, and to regulate, with the authority of a guardian, the provinces of the infant Theodosius.107 The representation of the difficulty and expense of such a distant expedition checked this strange and sudden sally of active diligence; but the dangerous project of showing the emperor to the camp of Pavia, which was composed of the Roman troops, the enemies of Stilicho, and his Barbarian auxiliaries, remained fixed and unalterable. The minister was pressed, by the advice of his confidant Justinian, a Roman advocate of a lively and penetrating genius, to oppose a journey so prejudicial to his reputation and safety. Edition: current; Page: [187] His strenuous, but ineffectual, efforts confirmed the triumph of Olympius; and the prudent lawyer withdrew himself from the impending ruin of his patron.

In the passage of the emperor through Bologna, a mutiny of the guards was excited and appeased by the secret policy of Stilicho; who announced his instructions to decimate the guilty, and ascribed to his own intercession the merit of their pardon. After this tumult, Honorious embraced, for the last time, the minister whom he now considered as a tyrant, and proceeded on his way to the camp of Pavia, where he was received by the loyal acclamations of the troops who were assembled for the service of the Gallic war. On the morning of the fourth day, he pronounced, as he had been taught, a military oration in the presence of the soldiers, whom the charitable visits, and artful discourses, of Olympius had prepared to execute a dark and bloody conspiracy. At the first signal, they massacred the friends of Stilicho, the most illustrious officers of the empire; two Prætorian prefects, of Gaul, and of Italy; two masters-general, of the cavalry and infantry; the master of the offices; the quæstor, the treasurer, and the count of the domestics. Many lives were lost; many houses were plundered; the furious sedition continued to rage till the close of the evening; and the trembling emperor, who was seen in the streets of Pavia without his robes or diadem, yielded to the persuasions of his favourite, condemned the memory of the slain, and solemnly approved the innocence and fidelity of their assassins. The intelligence of the massacre of Pavia filled the mind of Stilicho with just and gloomy apprehensions; and he instantly summoned, in the camp of Bologna, a council of the confederate leaders who were attached to his service, and would be involved in his ruin. The impetuous voice of the assembly called aloud for arms, and for revenge; to march, without a moment’s delay, under the banners of a hero whom they had so often followed to victory; to surprise, to oppress, to extirpate the guilty Olympius, and his degenerate Romans; Edition: current; Page: [188] and perhaps to fix the diadem on the head of their injured general. Instead of executing a resolution, which might have been justified by success, Stilicho hesitated till he was irrecoverably lost. He was still ignorant of the fate of the emperor; he distrusted the fidelity of his own party; and he viewed with horror the fatal consequences of arming a crowd of licentious Barbarians against the soldiers and people of Italy. The confederates, impatient of his timorous and doubtful delay, hastily retired, with fear and indignation. At the hour of midnight, Sarus, a Gothic warrior, renowned among the Barbarians themselves for his strength and valour, suddenly invaded the camp of his benefactor, plundered the baggage, cut in pieces the faithful Huns, who guarded his person, and penetrated to the tent, where the minister, pensive and sleepless, meditated on the dangers of his situation. Stilicho escaped with difficulty from the sword of the Goths; and, after issuing a last and generous admonition to the cities of Italy, to shut their gates against the Barbarians, his confidence, or his despair, urged him to throw himself into Ravenna, which was already in the absolute possession of his enemies. Olympius, who had assumed the dominion of Honorius, was speedily informed that his rival had embraced, as a suppliant, the altar of the Christian church. The base and cruel disposition of the hypocrite was incapable of pity or remorse; but he piously affected to elude, rather than to violate, the privilege of the sanctuary. Count Heraclian, with a troop of soldiers, appeared, at the dawn of day, before the gates of the church of Ravenna. The bishop was satisfied by a solemn oath that the Imperial mandate only directed them to secure the person of Stilicho: but, as soon as the unfortunate minister had been tempted beyond the holy threshold, he produced the warrant for his instant execution. Stilicho supported, with calm resignation, the injurious names of traitor and parricide; repressed the unseasonable zeal of his followers, who were ready to attempt an ineffectual rescue; and, with a firmness not unworthy of Edition: current; Page: [189] the last of the Roman generals, submitted his neck to the sword of Heraclian.108

The servile crowd of the palace, who had so long adored the fortune of Stilicho, affected to insult his fall, and the most distant connection with the master-general of the West, which had so lately been a title to wealth and honours, was studiously denied and rigorously punished. His family, united by a triple alliance with the family of Theodosius, might envy the condition of the meanest peasant. The flight of his son Eucherius was intercepted, and the death of that innocent youth soon followed the divorce of Thermantia, who filled the place of her sister Maria, and who, like Maria, had remained a virgin in the Imperial bed.109 The friends of Stilicho, who had escaped the massacre of Pavia, were persecuted by the implacable revenge of Olympius, and the most exquisite cruelty was employed to extort the confession of a treasonable and sacrilegious conspiracy. They died in silence: their firmness justified the choice,110 and perhaps absolved the innocence, of their patron, and the despotic power which could take his life without a trial, and stigmatise his memory without a proof, has no jurisdiction over the impartial suffrage of posterity.111 The services of Stilicho are great and manifest; his crimes, as they are vaguely stated in the language of flattery Edition: current; Page: [190] and hatred, are obscure, at least, and improbable. About four months after his death an edict was published in the name of Honorius to restore the free communication of the two empires which had been so long interrupted by the public enemy.112 The minister whose fame and fortune depended on the prosperity of the state was accused of betraying Italy to the Barbarians, whom he repeatedly vanquished at Pollentia, at Verona, and before the walls of Florence. His pretended design of placing the diadem on the head of his son Eucherius could not have been conducted without preparations or accomplices, and the ambitious father would not surely have left the future emperor, till the twentieth year of his age, in the humble station of tribune of the notaries. Even the religion of Stilicho was arraigned by the malice of his rival. The seasonable and almost miraculous deliverance was devoutly celebrated by the applause of the clergy, who asserted that the restoration of idols and the persecution of the church would have been the first measure of the reign of Eucherius. The son of Stilicho, however, was educated in the bosom of Christianity, which his father had uniformly professed and zealously supported.113 Serena had borrowed her magnificent necklace from the statue of Vesta,114 and the Pagans execrated the memory of the sacrilegious minister, by whose order the Sybilline books, the oracles of Rome, had been committed to the flames.115 The pride and power of Edition: current; Page: [191] Stilicho constituted his real guilt. An honourable reluctance to shed the blood of his countrymen appears to have contributed to the success of his unworthy rival; and it is the last humiliation of the character of Honorius that posterity has not condescended to reproach him with his base ingratitude to the guardian of his youth and the support of his empire.

Among the train of dependents whose wealth and dignity attracted the notice of their own times our curiosity is excited by the celebrated name of the poet Claudian, who enjoyed the favour of Stilicho, and was overwhelmed in the ruin of his patron. The titular offices of tribune and notary fixed his rank in the Imperial court; he was indebted to the powerful intercession of Serena for his marriage with a very rich heiress of the province of Africa,116 and the statue of Claudian, erected in the forum of Trajan, was a monument of the taste and liberality of the Roman senate.117 After the praises of Stilicho became offensive and criminal, Claudian was exposed to the enmity of a powerful and unforgiving courtier, whom he had provoked by the insolence of wit. He had compared, in a lively epigram, the opposite characters of two Prætorian prefects of Italy; he contrasts the innocent repose of a Edition: current; Page: [192] philosopher who sometimes resigned the hours of business to slumber, perhaps to study, with the interested diligence of a rapacious minister, indefatigable in the pursuit of unjust or sacrilegious gain. “How happy,” continues Claudian, “how happy might it be for the people of Italy if Mallius could be constantly awake, and if Hadrian would always sleep!”118 The repose of Mallius was not disturbed by this friendly and gentle admonition, but the cruel vigilance of Hadrian watched the opportunity of revenge, and easily obtained from the enemies of Stilicho the trifling sacrifice of an obnoxious poet. The poet concealed himself, however, during the tumult of the revolution, and, consulting the dictates of prudence rather than of honour, he addressed, in the form of an epistle, a suppliant and humble recantation to the offended prefect. He deplores, in mournful strains, the fatal indiscretion into which he had been hurried by passion and folly; submits to the imitation of his adversary the generous examples of the clemency of gods, of heroes, and of lions; and expresses his hope that the magnanimity of Hadrian will not trample on a defenceless and contemptible foe, already humbled by disgrace and poverty, and deeply wounded by the exile, the tortures, and the death of his dearest friends.119 Whatever might be the success of his Edition: current; Page: [193] prayer, or the accidents of his future life, the period of a few years levelled in the grave the minister and the poet: but the name of Hadrian is almost sunk in oblivion, while Claudian is read with pleasure in every country which has retained, or acquired, the knowledge of the Latin language. If we fairly balance his merits and his defects, we shall acknowledge that Claudian does not either satisfy or silence our reason. It would not be easy to produce a passage that deserves the epithet of sublime or pathetic; to select a verse that melts the heart or enlarges the imagination. We should vainly seek, in the poems of Claudian, the happy invention and artificial conduct of an interesting fable, or the just and lively representation of the characters and situations of real life. For the service of his patron he published occasional panegyrics and invectives; and the design of these slavish compositions encouraged his propensity to exceed the limits of truth and nature. These imperfections, however, are compensated in some degree by the poetical virtues of Claudian. He was endowed with the rare and precious talent of raising the meanest, of adoring the most barren, and of diversifying the most similar topics; his colouring, more especially in descriptive poetry, is soft and splendid; and he seldom fails to display, and even to abuse, the advantages of a cultivated understanding, a copious fancy, an easy, and sometimes forcible, expression, and a perpetual flow of harmonious versifications. To these commendations, independent of any accidents of time and place, we must add the peculiar merit which Claudian derived from the unfavourable circumstances of his birth. In the decline of arts and of empire a native of Egypt,120 who had received the education of a Greek, assumed, in a mature age, the familiar use and absolute command Edition: current; Page: [194] of the Latin language,121 soared above the heads of his feeble contemporaries, and placed himself, after an interval of three hundred years, among the poets of ancient Rome.122

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Invasion of Italy by Alaric — Manners of the Roman Senate and People — Rome is thrice besieged and at length pillaged by the Goths — Death of Alaric — The Goths evacuate Italy — Fall of Constantine — Gaul and Spain are occupied by the Barbarians — Independence of Britain

The incapacity of a weak and distracted government may often assume the appearance, and produce the effects, of a treasonable correspondence with the public enemy. If Alaric himself had been introduced into the council of Ravenna, he would probably have advised the same measures which were actually pursued by the ministers of Honorius.1 The king of the Goths would have conspired, perhaps with some reluctance, to destroy the formidable adversary by whose arms, in Italy as well as in Greece, he had been twice overthrown. Their active and interested hatred laboriously accomplished the disgrace and ruin of the great Stilicho. The valour of Sarus, his fame in arms, and his personal, or hereditary, influence over the confederate Barbarians could recommend him only to the friends of their country, who despised, or detested, the worthless characters of Turpilio, Varanes, and Vigilantius. By the pressing instances of the new favourites, these generals, unworthy as they had shewn themselves of the name of soldiers,2 were promoted to the command of the cavalry, of the infantry, and of the domestic troops. The Gothic prince Edition: current; Page: [196] would have subscribed with pleasure the edict which the fanaticism of Olympius dictated to the simple and devout emperor. Honorius excluded all persons who were adverse to the catholic church from holding any office in the state; obstinately rejected the service of all those who dissented from his religion; and rashly disqualified many of his bravest and most skilful officers, who adhered to the Pagan worship, or who had imbibed the opinions of Arianism.3 These measures, so advantageous to an enemy, Alaric would have approved, and might perhaps have suggested; but it may seem doubtful whether the Barbarian would have promoted his interest at the expense of the inhuman and absurd cruelty which was perpetrated by the direction, or at least with the connivance, of the Imperial ministers. The foreign auxiliaries who had been attached to the person of Stilicho lamented his death; but the desire of revenge was checked by a natural apprehension for the safety of their wives and children; who were detained as hostages in the strong cities of Italy, where they had likewise deposited their most valuable effects. At the same hour, and as if by a common signal, the cities of Italy were polluted by the same horrid scenes of universal massacre and pillage, which involved, in promiscuous destruction, the families and fortunes of the Barbarians. Exasperated by such an injury, which might have awakened the tamest and most servile spirit, they cast a look of indignation and hope towards the camp of Alaric, and unanimously swore to pursue, with just and implacable war, the perfidious nation that had so basely violated the laws of hospitality. By the imprudent conduct of the ministers of Honorius, the republic lost the assistance, and deserved the enmity, of thirty thousand of her bravest soldiers; and the weight of that formidable Edition: current; Page: [197] army, which alone might have determined the event of the war, was transferred from the scale of the Romans into that of the Goths.

In the arts of negotiation, as well as in those of war, the Gothic king maintained his superior ascendant over an enemy whose seeming changes proceeded from the total want of counsel and design. From his camp, on the confines of Italy, Alaric attentively observed the revolutions of the palace, watched the progress of faction and discontent, disguised the hostile aspect of a Barbarian invader, and assumed the more popular appearance of the friend and ally of the great Stilicho; to whose virtues, when they were no longer formidable, he could pay a just tribute of sincere praise and regret. The pressing invitation of the malcontents, who urged the king of the Goths to invade Italy, was enforced by a lively sense of his personal injuries; and he might speciously complain that the Imperial ministers still delayed and eluded the payment of the four thousand pounds of gold, which had been granted by the Roman senate either to reward his services or to appease his fury. His decent firmness was supported by an artful moderation, which contributed to the success of his designs. He required a fair and reasonable satisfaction; but he gave the strongest assurances that, as soon as he had obtained it, he would immediately retire. He refused to trust the faith of the Romans, unless Aetius and Jason, the sons of two great officers of state, were sent as hostages to his camp; but he offered to deliver, in exchange, several of the noblest youths of the Gothic nation. The modesty of Alaric was interpreted, by the ministers of Ravenna, as a sure evidence of his weakness and fear. They disdained either to negotiate a treaty or to assemble an army; and with a rash confidence, derived only from their ignorance of the extreme danger, irretrievably wasted the decisive moments of peace and war. While they expected, in sullen silence, that the Barbarians should evacuate the confines of Italy, Alaric, with bold and rapid marches, passed the Alps and the Po; hastily pillaged the cities of Edition: current; Page: [198] Aquileia, Altinum, Concordia, and Cremona, which yielded to his arms;4 increased his forces by the accession of thirty thousand auxiliaries; and without meeting a single enemy in the field, advanced as far as the edge of the morass which protected the impregnable residence of the emperor of the West. Instead of attempting the hopeless siege of Ravenna, the prudent leader of the Goths proceeded to Rimini, stretched his ravages along the sea-coast of the Hadriatic, and meditated the conquest of the ancient mistress of the world. An Italian hermit, whose zeal and sanctity were respected by the Barbarians themselves, encountered the victorious monarch, and boldly denounced the indignation of heaven against the oppressors of the earth; but the saint himself was so confounded by the solemn asseveration of Alaric, that he felt a secret and preternatural impulse, which directed, and even compelled, his march to the gates of Rome. He felt that his genius and his fortune were equal to the most arduous enterprises; and the enthusiasm which he communicated to the Goths insensibly removed the popular, and almost superstitious, reverence of the nations for the majesty of the Roman name. His troops, animated by the hopes of spoil, followed the course of the Flaminian way, occupied the unguarded passes of the Apennine,5 descended into the rich plains of Umbria; and, as they lay encamped on the banks of the Clitumnus, might wantonly slaughter and devour the milk-white oxen, which had been so long reserved for the use of Roman triumphs.6 A lofty situation and a seasonable Edition: current; Page: [199] tempest of thunder and lightning preserved the little city of Narni; but the king of the Goths, despising the ignoble prey, still advanced with unabated vigour; and, after he had passed through the stately arches, adorned with the spoils of Barbaric victories, he pitched his camp under the walls of Rome.7

During a period of six hundred and nineteen years, the seat of empire had never been violated by the presence of a foreign enemy. The unsuccessful expedition of Hannibal8 served only to display the character of the senate and people; of a senate degraded, rather than ennobled, by the comparison of an assembly of kings; and of a people to whom the ambassador of Pyrrhus ascribed the inexhaustible resources of the Hydra.9 Each of the senators, in the time of the Punic war, had accomplished his term of military service, either in a subordinate or a superior station; and the decree which invested with temporary command all those who had been consuls or censors or dictators gave the republic the immediate assistance of many brave and experienced generals. In the beginning of the war, the Roman people consisted of two hundred and fifty thousand citizens of an age to bear arms.10 Edition: current; Page: [200] Fifty thousand had already died in the defence of their country; and the twenty-three legions which were employed in the different camps of Italy, Greece, Sardinia, Sicily, and Spain required about one hundred thousand men. But there still remained an equal number in Rome, and the adjacent territory, who were animated by the same intrepid courage; and every citizen was trained, from his earliest youth, in the discipline and exercises of a soldier. Hannibal was astonished by the constancy of the senate, who, without raising the siege of Capua or recalling their scattered forces, expected his approach. He encamped on the banks of the Anio, at the distance of three miles from the city; and he was soon informed that the ground on which he had pitched his tent was sold for an adequate price at a public auction and that a body of troops was dismissed by an opposite road, to reinforce the legions of Spain.11 He led his Africans to the gates of Rome, where he found three armies in order of battle, prepared to receive him; but Hannibal dreaded the event of a combat from which he could not hope to escape, unless he destroyed the last of his enemies; and his speedy retreat confessed the invincible courage of the Romans.

From the time of the Punic war the uninterrupted succession of senators had preserved the name and image of the republic; and the degenerate subjects of Honorius ambitiously derived their descent from the heroes who had repulsed the arms of Hannibal and subdued the nations of the earth. The temporal Edition: current; Page: [201] honours which the devout Paula12 inherited and despised are carefully recapitulated by Jerom, the guide of her conscience and the historian of her life. The genealogy of her father, Rogatus, which ascended as high as Agamemnon, might seem to betray a Grecian origin; but her mother, Blæsilla, numbered the Scipios, Æmilius Paulus and the Gracchi, in the list of her ancestors; and Toxotius, the husband of Paula, deduced his royal lineage from Æneas, the father of the Julian line. The vanity of the rich who desired to be noble was gratified by these lofty pretensions. Encouraged by the applause of their parasites, they easily imposed on the credulity of the vulgar, and were countenanced in some measure by the custom of adopting the name of their patron, which had always prevailed among the freedmen and clients of illustrious families. Most of those families, however, attacked by so many causes of external violence or internal decay, were gradually extirpated; and it would be more reasonable to seek for a lineal descent of twenty generations among the mountains of the Alps, or in the peaceful solitude of Apulia, than on the theatre of Rome, the seat of fortune, of danger, and of perpetual revolutions. Under each successive reign and from every province of the empire, a crowd of hardy adventurers, rising to eminence by their talents or their vices, usurped the wealth, the honours, and the palaces of Rome; and oppressed or protected the poor and humble remains of consular families; who were ignorant perhaps of the glory of their ancestors.13

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In the time of Jerom and Claudian, the senators unanimously yielded the pre-eminence to the Anician line; and a slight view of their history will serve to appreciate the rank and antiquity of the noble families which contended only for the second place.14 During the first five ages of the city the name of the Anicians was unknown; they appear to have derived their origin from Præneste; and the ambition of those new citizens was long satisfied with the Plebeian honours of tribunes of the people.15 One hundred and sixty-eight years before the Christian era, the family was ennobled by the prætorship of Anicius, who gloriously terminated the Illyrian war by the conquest of the nation and the captivity of their king.16 From the triumph of that general, three consulships in distant periods mark the succession of the Anician name.17 From the reign of Diocletian to the final extinction of the Western empire that name shone with a lustre which was not eclipsed in the public estimation by the majesty of the Imperial purple.18 The several branches to whom it was communicated Edition: current; Page: [203] united, by marriage or inheritance, the wealth and titles of the Annian, the Petronian, and the Olybrian houses; and in each generation the number of consulships was multiplied by an hereditary claim.19 The Anician family excelled in faith and in riches; they were the first of the Roman senate who embraced Christianity; and it is probable that Anicius Julian, who was afterwards consul and prefect of the city, atoned for his attachment to the party of Maxentius by the readiness with which he accepted the religion of Constantine.20 Their ample patrimony was increased by the industry of Probus, the chief of the Anician family; who shared with Gratian the honours of the consulship, and exercised four times the high office of Prætorian prefect.21 His immense estates were scattered over the wide extent of the Roman world; and, though the public might suspect or disapprove the methods by which they had been acquired, the generosity and magnificence of that fortunate statesman deserved the Edition: current; Page: [204] gratitude of his clients and the admiration of strangers.22 Such was the respect entertained for his memory that the two sons of Probus in their earliest youth, and at the request of the senate, were associated in the consular dignity: a memorable distinction without example in the annals of Rome.23

“The marbles of the Anician palace” was used as a proverbial expression of opulence and splendour;24 but the nobles and senators of Rome aspired in due gradation to imitate that illustrious family. The accurate description of the city, which was composed in the Theodosian age, enumerates one thousand seven hundred and eighty houses, the residence of wealthy and honourable citizens.25 Many of these stately mansions might almost excuse the exaggeration of the poet: that Rome contained a multitude of palaces, and that each palace was equal to a city; since it included within its own precincts everything which could be subservient either to use or luxury: markets, hippodromes, temples, fountains, baths, porticos, shady groves, and artificial aviaries.26 The historian Olympiodorus, who represents the state of Rome when it was besieged by the Goths,27 continues to observe that several of the richest senators received Edition: current; Page: [205] from their estates an annual income of four thousand pounds of gold, above one hundred and sixty thousand pounds sterling; without computing the stated provision of corn and wine, which, had they been sold, might have equalled in value one third of the money. Compared to this immoderate wealth, an ordinary revenue of a thousand or fifteen hundred pounds of gold might be considered as no more than adequate to the dignity of the senatorian rank, which required many expenses of a public and ostentatious kind. Several examples are recorded in the age of Honorius, of vain and popular nobles who celebrated the year of their prætorship by a festival, which lasted seven days and cost above one hundred thousand pounds sterling.28 The estates of the Roman senators, which so far exceeded the proportion of modern wealth, were not confined to the limits of Italy. Their possessions extended far beyond the Ionian and Ægean seas to the most distant provinces; the city of Nicopolis, which Augustus had founded as an eternal monument of the Actian victory, was the property of the devout Paula;29 and it is observed by Seneca that the rivers which had divided hostile nations now flowed through the lands of private Edition: current; Page: [206] citizens.30 According to their temper and circumstances, the estates of the Romans were either cultivated by the labour of their slaves or granted, for a certain and stipulated rent, to the industrious farmer. The economical writers of antiquity strenuously recommend the former method whereever it may be practicable; but, if the object should be removed by its distance or magnitude from the immediate eye of the master, they prefer the active care of an old hereditary tenant, attached to the soil and interested in the produce, to the mercenary administration of a negligent, perhaps an unfaithful, steward.31

The opulent nobles of an immense capital, who were never excited by the pursuit of military glory, and seldom engaged in the occupations of civil government, naturally resigned their leisure to the business and amusements of private life. At Rome, commerce was always held in contempt; but the senators, from the first age of the republic, increased their patrimony, and multiplied their clients, by the lucrative practice of usury; and the obsolete laws were eluded, or violated, by the mutual inclinations and interest of both parties.32 A considerable mass of treasure must always have existed at Rome, either in the current coin of the empire Edition: current; Page: [207] or in the form of gold and silver plate; and there were many sideboards, in the time of Pliny, which contained more solid silver than had been transported by Scipio from vanquished Carthage.33 The greater part of the nobles, who dissipated their fortunes in profuse luxury, found themselves poor in the midst of wealth, and idle in a constant round of dissipation. Their desires were continually gratified by the labour of a thousand hands; of the numerous train of their domestic slaves, who were actuated by the fear of punishment; and of the various professions of artificers and merchants, who were more powerfully impelled by the hopes of gain. The ancients were destitute of many of the conveniencies of life which have been invented or improved by the progress of industry; and the plenty of glass and linen has diffused more real comforts among the modern nations of Europe than the senators of Rome could derive from all the refinements of pompous or sensual luxury.34 Their luxury and their manners have been the subject of minute and laborious disquisition; but, as such inquiries would divert me too long from the design of the present work, I shall produce an authentic state of Rome and its inhabitants, which is more peculiarly applicable to the period of the Gothic invasion. Ammianus Marcellinus, who prudently chose the capital of the empire as the residence the best adapted to the historian of his own times, has mixed with the narrative of public events a lively representation of the scenes with which he was familiarly conversant. The judicious reader will not always approve the asperity of censure, the choice of circumstances, or the style of expression; he will perhaps detect the latent prejudices Edition: current; Page: [208] and personal resentments which soured the temper of Ammianus himself; but he will surely observe, with philosophic curiosity, the interesting and original picture of the manners of Rome.35

“The greatness of Rome” (such is the language of the historian) “was founded on the rare and almost incredible alliance of virtue and of fortune. The long period of her infancy was employed in a laborious struggle against the tribes of Italy, the neighbours and enemies of the rising city. In the strength and ardour of youth, she sustained the storms of war; carried her victorious arms beyond the seas and the mountains; and brought home triumphal laurels from every country of the globe. At length, verging towards old age, and sometimes conquering by the terror only of her name, she sought the blessings of ease and tranquillity. The venerable city, which had trampled on the necks of the fiercest nations, and established a system of laws, the perpetual guardians of justice and freedom, was content, like a wise and wealthy parent, to devolve on the Cæsars, her favourite sons, the care of governing her ample patrimony.36 A secure and profound peace, such as had been once enjoyed in the reign of Numa, succeeded to the tumults of a republic; while Rome was still adored as the queen of the earth, and the subject nations still reverenced the name of the people and Edition: current; Page: [209] the majesty of the senate. But this native splendour” (continues Ammianus) “is degraded and sullied by the conduct of some nobles; who, unmindful of their own dignity and of that of their country, assume an unbounded licence of vice and folly. They contend with each other in the empty vanity of titles and surnames; and curiously select or invent the most lofty and sonorous appellations, Reburrus, or Fabunius, Pagonius, or Tarrasius,37 which may impress the ears of the vulgar with astonishment and respect. From a vain ambition of perpetuating their memory, they affect to multiply their likeness in statues of bronze and marble; nor are they satisfied, unless those statues are covered with plates of gold: an honourable distinction, first granted to Acilius the consul, after he had subdued, by his arms and counsels, the power of king Antiochus. The ostentation of displaying, of magnifying perhaps, the rent-roll of the estates which they possess in all the provinces, from the rising to the setting sun, provokes the just resentment of every man who recollects that their poor and invincible ancestors were not distinguished from the meanest of the soldiers by the delicacy of their food or the splendour of their apparel. But the modern nobles measure their rank and consequence according to the loftiness of their chariots38 and the weighty magnificence of their dress. Edition: current; Page: [210] Their long robes of silk and purple float in the wind; and, as they are agitated, by art or accident, they occasionally discover the under garments, the rich tunics, embroidered with the figures of various animals.39 Followed by a train of fifty servants, and tearing up the pavement, they move along the streets with the same impetuous speed as if they travelled with post horses; and the example of the senators is boldly imitated by the matrons and ladies, whose covered carriages are continually driving round the immense space of the city and suburbs. Whenever these persons of high distinction condescend to visit the public baths, they assume, on their entrance, a tone of loud and insolent command, and appropriate to their own use the conveniencies which were designed for the Roman people. If, in these places of mixed and general resort, they meet any of the infamous ministers of their pleasures, they express their affection by a tender embrace; while they proudly decline the salutations of their fellow-citizens, who are not permitted to aspire above the honour of kissing their hands or their knees. As soon as they have indulged themselves in the refreshment of the bath, they resume their rings, and the other ensigns of their dignity; select from their private wardrobe of the finest linen, such as might suffice for a dozen persons, the garments the most agreeable to their fancy, and maintain till their departure the same haughty demeanour; which perhaps might have been excused in the great Marcellus, after the conquest of Syracuse. Sometimes, indeed, these heroes undertake more arduous Edition: current; Page: [211] achievements; they visit their estates in Italy, and procure themselves, by the toil of servile hands, the amusements of the chase.40 If at any time, but more especially on a hot day, they have courage to sail, in their painted galleys, from the Lucrine lake41 to their elegant villas on the sea-coast of Puteoli and Caieta,42 they compare their own expeditions to the marches of Cæsar and Alexander. Yet should a fly presume to settle on the silken folds of their gilded umbrellas, should a sunbeam penetrate through some unguarded and imperceptible chink, they deplore their intolerable hardships, and lament in affected language that they were not born in the land of the Cimmerians,43 the regions of eternal darkness. In these journeys into the country44 the whole body of the Edition: current; Page: [212] household marches with their master. In the same manner as the cavalry and infantry, the heavy and the light armed troops, the advanced guard and the rear, are marshalled by the skill of their military leaders; so the domestic officers, who bear a rod as an ensign of authority, distribute and arrange the numerous train of slaves and attendants. The baggage and wardrobe move in the front; and are immediately followed by a multitude of cooks and inferior ministers employed in the service of the kitchens and of the table. The main body is composed of a promiscuous crowd of slaves, increased by the accidental concourse of idle or dependent plebeians. The rear is closed by the favourite band of eunuchs, distributed from age to youth, according to the order of seniority. Their numbers and their deformity excite the horror of the indignant spectators, who are ready to execrate the memory of Semiramis for the cruel art which she invented of frustrating the purposes of nature and of blasting in the bud the hopes of future generations. In the exercise of domestic jurisdiction the nobles of Rome express an exquisite sensibility for any personal injury, and a contemptuous indifference for the rest of the human species. When they have called for warm water, if a slave has been tardy in his obedience, he is instantly chastised with three hundred lashes: but should the same slave commit wilful murder, the master will mildly observe that he is a worthless fellow; but that, if he repeats the offence, he shall not escape punishment. Hospitality was formerly the virtue of the Romans; and every stranger who could plead either merit or misfortune was relieved or rewarded by their generosity. At present, if a foreigner, perhaps of no contemptible rank, is introduced to one of the proud and wealthy senators, he is welcomed indeed in the first audience, with such warm professions and such kind inquiries that he retires, enchanted with the affability of his illustrious friend, and full of regret that he had so long delayed his journey to Rome, the native seat of manners as well as of empire. Secure of a favourable Edition: current; Page: [213] reception, he repeats his visit the ensuing day, and is mortified by the discovery that his person, his name, and his country are already forgotten. If he still has resolution to persevere, he is gradually numbered in the train of dependents, and obtains the permission to pay his assiduous and unprofitable court to a haughty patron, incapable of gratitude or friendship; who scarcely deigns to remark his presence, his departure, or his return. Whenever the rich prepare a solemn and popular entertainment;45 whenever they celebrate, with profuse and pernicious luxury, their private banquets; the choice of the guests is the subject of anxious deliberation. The modest, the sober, and the learned are seldom preferred; and the nomenclators, who are commonly swayed by interested motives, have the address to insert, in the list of invitations, the obscure names of the most worthless of mankind. But the frequent and familiar companions of the great are those parasites who practise the most useful of all arts, the art of flattery; who eagerly applaud each word and every action of their immortal patron; gaze with rapture on his marble columns and variegated pavements; and strenuously praise the pomp and elegance which he is taught to consider as a part of his personal merit. At the Roman tables the birds, the squirrels,46 or the fish, which appear of an uncommon Edition: current; Page: [214] size, are contemplated with curious attention; a pair of scales is accurately applied to ascertain their real weight; and, while the more rational guests are disgusted by the vain and tedious repetition, notaries are summoned to attest by an authentic record the truth of such a marvellous event. Another method of introduction into the houses and society of the great is derived from the profession of gaming, or, as it is more politely styled, of play. The confederates are united by a strict and indissoluble bond of friendship, or rather of conspiracy; a superior degree of skill in the Tesserarian art (which may be interpreted the game of dice and tables47) is a sure road to wealth and reputation. A master of that sublime science, who in a supper or assembly is placed below a magistrate, displays in his countenance the surprise and indignation which Cato might be supposed to feel when he was refused the prætorship by the votes of a capricious people. The acquisition of knowledge seldom engages the curiosity of the nobles, who abhor the fatigue and disdain the advantages of study; and the only books which they peruse are the satires of Juvenal, and the verbose and fabulous Edition: current; Page: [215] histories of Marius Maximus.48 The libraries which they have inherited from their fathers are secluded, like dreary sepulchres, from the light of day.49 But the costly instruments of the theatre, flutes, and enormous lyres, and hydraulic organs, are constructed for their use; and the harmony of vocal and instrumental music is incessantly repeated in the palaces of Rome. In those palaces sound is preferred to sense; and the care of the body to that of the mind. It is allowed as a salutary maxim that the light and frivolous suspicion of a contagious malady is of sufficient weight to excuse the visits of the most intimate friends; and even the servants who are despatched to make the decent inquiries are not suffered to return home till they have undergone the ceremony of a previous ablution. Yet this selfish and unmanly delicacy occasionally yields to the more imperious passion of avarice. The prospect of gain will urge a rich and gouty senator as far as Spoleto; every sentiment of arrogance and dignity is subdued by the hopes of an inheritance, or even of a legacy; and a wealthy, childless citizen is the most powerful of the Romans. The art of obtaining the signature of a favourable testament, and sometimes of hastening the moment of its execution, is perfectly understood; and it has happened that in the same house, though in different apartments, a husband and a wife, with the laudable design of over-reaching each other, have summoned their respective lawyers, to declare, at the same time, their mutual but contradictory intentions. The distress which follows and chastises extravagant luxury often reduces the great to Edition: current; Page: [216] the use of the most humiliating expedients. When they desire to borrow, they employ the base and supplicating style of the slave in the comedy; but, when they are called upon to pay, they assume the royal and tragic declamation of the grandsons of Hercules. If the demand is repeated, they readily procure some trusty sycophant, instructed to maintain a charge of poison or magic against the insolent creditor; who is seldom released from prison till he has signed a discharge of the whole debt. These vices, which degrade the moral character of the Romans, are mixed with a puerile superstition that disgraces their understanding. They listen with confidence to the predictions of haruspices, who pretend to read in the entrails of victims the signs of future greatness and prosperity; and there are many who do not presume either to bathe, or to dine, or to appear in public, till they have diligently consulted, according to the rules of astrology, the situation of Mercury and the aspect of the moon.50 It is singular enough that this vain credulity may often be discovered among the profane sceptics, who impiously doubt or deny the existence of a celestial power.”

In populous cities which are the seat of commerce and manufactures, the middle ranks of inhabitants, who derive their subsistence from the dexterity or labour of their hands, are commonly the most prolific, the most useful, and in that sense the most respectable part of the community. But the plebeians of Rome, who disdained such sedentary and servile arts, had been oppressed from the earliest times, by the weight of debt and usury; and the husbandman, during the term of his military service, was obliged to abandon the cultivation of his farm.51 The lands of Italy, which had been originally Edition: current; Page: [217] divided among the families of free and indigent proprietors, were insensibly purchased or usurped by the avarice of the nobles; and in the age which preceded the fall of the republic it was computed that only two thousand citizens were possessed of any independent substance.52 Yet, as long as the people bestowed, by their suffrages, the honours of the state, the command of the legions, and the administration of wealthy provinces, their conscious pride alleviated, in some measure, the hardships of poverty; and their wants were seasonably supplied by the ambitious liberality of the candidates, who aspired to secure a venal majority in the thirty-five tribes, or the hundred and ninety-three centuries, of Rome. But, when the prodigal commons had imprudently alienated not only the use, but the inheritance, of power, they sunk, under the reign of the Cæsars, into a vile and wretched populace which must, in a few generations, have been totally extinguished, if it had not been continually recruited by the manumission of slaves and the influx of strangers. As early as the time of Hadrian it was the just complaint of the ingenuous natives that the capital had attracted the vices of the universe and the manners of the most opposite nations. The intemperance of the Gauls, the cunning and levity of the Greeks, the savage obstinacy of the Egyptians and Jews, the servile temper of the Asiatics, and the dissolute, effeminate prostitution of the Syrians, were mingled in the various multitude, which, under the proud and false denomination of Romans, presumed to despise their fellow-subjects, and even their sovereigns, who dwelt beyond the precincts of the eternal city.53

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Yet the name of that city was still pronounced with respect: the frequent and capricious tumults of its inhabitants were indulged with impunity; and the successors of Constantine, instead of crushing the last remains of the democracy by the strong arm of military power, embraced the mild policy of Augustus, and studied to relieve the poverty, and to amuse the idleness, of an innumerable people.54 I. For the convenience of the lazy plebeians the monthly distributions of corn were converted into a daily allowance of bread; a great number of ovens was constructed and maintained at the public expense; and at the appointed hour each citizen who was furnished with a ticket ascended the flight of steps which had been assigned to his peculiar quarter or division, and received, either as a gift or at a very low price, a loaf of bread of the weight of three pounds for the use of his family. II. The forests of Lucania, whose acorns fattened large droves of wild hogs,55 afforded, as a species of tribute, a plentiful supply of cheap and wholesome meat. During five months of the year a Edition: current; Page: [219] regular allowance of bacon was distributed to the poorer citizens; and the annual consumption of the capital, at a time when it was much declined from its former lustre, was ascertained by an edict of Valentinian the Third, at three millions six hundred and twenty-eight thousand pounds.56 III. In the manners of antiquity the use of oil was indispensable for the lamp as well as for the bath; and the annual tax, which was imposed on Africa for the benefit of Rome, amounted to the weight of three millions of pounds, to the measure, perhaps, of three hundred thousand English gallons. IV. The anxiety of Augustus to provide the metropolis with sufficient plenty of corn was not extended beyond that necessary article of human subsistence; and, when the popular clamour accused the dearness and scarcity of wine, a proclamation was issued by the grave reformer to remind his subjects that no man could reasonably complain of thirst since the aqueducts of Agrippa had introduced into the city so many copious streams of pure and salubrious water.57 This rigid sobriety was insensibly relaxed; and, although the generous design of Aurelian58 does not appear to have been executed in its full extent, the use of wine was allowed on very easy and liberal terms. The administration of the public cellars was delegated to a magistrate of honourable rank; and a considerable part of the vintage of Campania was reserved for the fortunate inhabitants of Rome.

The stupendous aqueducts, so justly celebrated by the praises of Augustus himself, replenished the Thermæ, or baths, which had been constructed in every part of the city, with Imperial magnificence. The baths of Antoninus Edition: current; Page: [220] Caracalla, which were open, at stated hours, for the indiscriminate service of the senators and the people, contained about sixteen hundred seats of marble; and more than three thousand were reckoned in the baths of Diocletian.59 The walls of the lofty apartments were covered with curious mosaics, that imitated the art of the pencil in the elegance of design and the variety of colours. The Egyptian granite was beautifully incrusted with the precious green marble of Numidia; the perpetual stream of hot water was poured into the capacious basons, through so many wide mouths of bright and massy silver; and the meanest Roman could purchase, with a small copper coin, the daily enjoyment of a scene of pomp and luxury, which might excite the envy of the kings of Asia.60 From these stately palaces issued a swarm of dirty and ragged plebeians, without shoes, and without a mantle; who loitered away whole days in the street or Forum, to hear news, and to hold disputes; who dissipated, in extravagant gaming, the miserable pittance of their wives and children; and spent the hours of the night in obscure taverns and brothels in the indulgence of gross and vulgar sensuality.61

But the most lively and splendid amusement of the idle multitude depended on the frequent exhibition of public games and spectacles. The piety of Christian princes had suppressed the inhuman combats of gladiators; but the Roman people still considered the Circus as their home, their temple, and the seat of the republic. The impatient crowd rushed at the dawn of day to secure their places, and there were Edition: current; Page: [221] many who passed a sleepless and anxious night in the adjacent porticos. From the morning to the evening, careless of the sun or of the rain, the spectators, who sometimes amounted to the number of four hundred thousand, remained in eager attention; their eyes fixed on the horses and charioteers, their minds agitated with hope and fear, for the success of the colours which they espoused: and the happiness of Rome appeared to hang on the event of a race.62 The same immoderate ardour inspired their clamours and their applause, as often as they were entertained with the hunting of wild beasts and the various modes of theatrical representation. These representations in modern capitals may deserve to be considered as a pure and elegant school of taste, and perhaps of virtue. But the Tragic and Comic Muse of the Romans, who seldom aspired beyond the imitation of Attic genius,63 had been almost totally silent since the fall of the republic;64 and their place was unworthily occupied by licentious farce, effeminate music, and splendid pageantry. The pantomimes,65 Edition: current; Page: [222] who maintained their reputation from the age of Augustus to the sixth century, expressed, without the use of words, the various fables of the gods and heroes of antiquity; and the perfection of their art, which sometimes disarmed the gravity of the philosopher, always excited the applause and wonder of the people. The vast and magnificent theatres of Rome were filled by three thousand female dancers, and by three thousand singers, with the masters of the respective choruses. Such was the popular favour which they enjoyed that, in a time of scarcity, when all strangers were banished from the city, the merit of contributing to the public pleasures exempted them from a law which was strictly executed against the professors of the liberal arts.66

It is said that the foolish curiosity of Elagabalus attempted to discover, from the quantity of spiders’ webs, the number of the inhabitants of Rome. A more rational method of inquiry might not have been undeserving of the attention of the wisest princes, who could easily have resolved a question so important for the Roman government and so interesting to succeeding ages. The births and deaths of the citizens were duly registered; and, if any writer of antiquity had condescended to mention the annual amount, or the common average, we might now produce some satisfactory calculation, which would destroy the extravagant assertions of critics, and perhaps confirm the modest and probable conjectures of philosophers.67 The most diligent researches have collected Edition: current; Page: [223] only the following circumstances; which, slight and imperfect as they are, may tend, in some degree, to illustrate the question of the populousness of ancient Rome. I. When the capital of the empire was besieged by the Goths, the circuit of the walls was accurately measured by Ammonius, the mathematician, who found it equal to twenty-one miles.68 It should not be forgotten that the form of the city was almost that of a circle, the geometrical figure which is known to contain the largest space within any given circumference. II. The architect Vitruvius, who flourished in the Augustan age, and whose evidence on this occasion has peculiar weight and authority, observes that the innumerable habitations of the Roman people would have spread themselves far beyond the narrow limits of the city; and that the want of ground, which was probably contracted on every side by gardens and villas, suggested the common, though inconvenient, practice of raising the houses to a considerable height in the air.69 But the loftiness of these buildings, which often consisted of hasty work and insufficient materials, was the cause of frequent and fatal accidents; and it was repeatedly enacted by Augustus, as well as by Nero, that the height of private edifices within the walls of Rome should not exceed the measure of seventy feet from the ground.70 III. Edition: current; Page: [224] Juvenal71 laments, as it should seem from his own experience, the hardships of the poorer citizens, to whom he addresses the salutary advice of emigrating, without delay, from the smoke of Rome, since they might purchase, in the little towns of Italy, a cheerful, commodious dwelling, at the same price which they annually paid for a dark and miserable lodging. House-rent was therefore immoderately dear; the rich acquired, at an enormous expense, the ground, which they covered with palaces and gardens; but the body of the Roman people was crowded into a narrow space; and the different floors and apartments of the same house were divided, as it is still the custom of Paris and other cities, among several families of plebeians. IV. The total number of houses in the fourteen regions of the city is accurately stated in the description of Rome composed under the reign of Theodosius, and they amount to forty-eight thousand three hundred and eighty-two.72 The two classes of domus and of insulæ, into which they are divided, include all the habitations of the capital, of every rank and condition, from the marble palace of the Anicii, with a numerous establishment of freedmen and slaves, to the lofty and narrow lodging-house, where the poet Codrus and his wife were permitted to hire a wretched garret immediately under the tiles. If we adopt the same average which, under similar circumstances, has been found applicable to Paris,73 and indifferently allow about twenty-five Edition: current; Page: [225] persons for each house of every degree, we may fairly estimate the inhabitants of Rome at twelve hundred thousand: a number which cannot be thought excessive for the capital of a mighty empire, though it exceeds the populousness of the greatest cities of modern Europe.74

Such was the state of Rome under the reign of Honorius; at the time when the Gothic army formed the siege, or rather the blockade, of the city.75 By a skilful disposition of his numerous forces, who impatiently watched the moment of an assault, Alaric encompassed the walls, commanded the twelve principal gates, intercepted all communication with the adjacent country, and vigilantly guarded the navigation of the Tiber, from which the Romans derived the surest and most plentiful supply of provisions. The first emotions of the nobles and of the people were those of surprise and indignation, that a vile Barbarian should dare to insult the capital of the world; but their arrogance was soon humbled by misfortune; and their unmanly rage, instead of being directed against an enemy in arms, was meanly exercised on a defenceless and innocent victim. Perhaps in the person of Serena the Romans might have respected the niece of Theodosius, the aunt, nay even the adopted mother, of the reigning emperor: but they abhorred the widow of Stilicho; and they listened with credulous passion to the tale of calumny which Edition: current; Page: [226] accused her of maintaining a secret and criminal correspondence with the Gothic invader. Actuated, or overawed, by the same popular frenzy, the senate, without requiring any evidence of her guilt, pronounced the sentence of her death. Serena was ignominiously stranged; and the infatuated multitude were astonished to find that this cruel act of injustice did not immediately produce the retreat of the Barbarians and the deliverance of the city. That unfortunate city gradually experienced the distress of scarcity, and at length the horrid calamities of famine. The daily allowance of three pounds of bread was reduced to one half, to one third, to nothing; and the price of corn still continued to rise in a rapid and extravagant proportion. The poorer citizens, who were unable to purchase the necessaries of life, solicited the precarious charity of the rich; and for a while the public misery was alleviated by the humanity of Læta, the widow of the emperor Gratian, who had fixed her residence at Rome, and consecrated to the use of the indigent the princely revenue which she annually received from the grateful successors of her husband.76 But these private and temporary donatives were insufficient to appease the hunger of a numerous people; and the progress of famine invaded the marble palaces of the senators themselves. The persons of both sexes, who had been educated in the enjoyment of ease and luxury, discovered how little is requisite to supply the demands of nature; and lavished their unavailing treasures of gold and silver, to obtain the coarse and scanty sustenance which they would formerly have rejected with disdain. The food the most repugnant to sense or imagination, the aliments the most unwholesome and pernicious to the constitution, were eagerly devoured and fiercely disputed by the rage of hunger. A dark suspicion was entertained that some desperate wretches fed on the bodies of their fellow-creatures, whom they had secretly Edition: current; Page: [227] murdered; and even mothers (such was the horrid conflict of the two most powerful instincts implanted by nature in the human breast) — even mothers are said to have tasted the flesh of their slaughtered infants!77 Many thousands of the inhabitants of Rome expired in their houses, or in the streets, for want of sustenance; and, as the public sepulchres without the walls were in the power of the enemy, the stench which arose from so many putrid and unburied carcases infected the air, and the miseries of famine were succeeded and aggravated by the contagion of pestilential disease. The assurances of speedy and effectual relief, which were repeatedly transmitted from the court of Ravenna, supported for some time the fainting resolution of the Romans, till at length the despair of any human aid tempted them to accept the offers of a preternatural deliverance. Pompeianus, prefect of the city, had been persuaded, by the art or fanaticism of some Tuscan diviners, that, by the mysterious force of spells and sacrifices, they could extract the lightning from the clouds, and point those celestial fires against the camp of the Barbarians.78 The important secret was communicated to Edition: current; Page: [228] Innocent, the bishop of Rome; and the successor of St. Peter is accused, perhaps without foundation, of preferring the safety of the republic to the rigid severity of the Christian worship. But, when the question was agitated in the senate; when it was proposed, as an essential condition, that those sacrifices should be performed in the Capitol, by the authority, and in the presence, of the magistrates; the majority of that respectable assembly, apprehensive either of the Divine or of the Imperial displeasure, refused to join in an act which appeared almost equivalent to the public restoration of Paganism.79

The last resource of the Romans was in the clemency, or at least in the moderation, of the king of the Goths. The senate, who in this emergency assumed the supreme powers of government, appointed two ambassadors to negotiate with the enemy. This important trust was delegated to Basilius, a senator, of Spanish extraction, and already conspicuous in the administration of provinces: and to John, the first tribune of the notaries, who was peculiarly qualified by his dexterity in business as well as by his former intimacy with the Gothic prince. When they were introduced into his presence, they declared, perhaps in a more lofty style than became their abject condition, that the Romans were resolved to maintain their dignity, either in peace or war; and that, if Alaric refused them a fair and honourable capitulation, he might sound his trumpets, and prepare to give battle to an innumerable people, exercised in arms and animated by despair. “The thicker the hay, the easier it is mowed,” was Edition: current; Page: [229] the concise reply of the Barbarian; and this rustic metaphor was accompanied by a loud and insulting laugh, expressive of his contempt for the menaces of an unwarlike populace, enervated by luxury before they were emaciated by famine. He then condescended to fix the ransom, which he would accept as the price of his retreat from the walls of Rome: all the gold and silver in the city, whether it were the property of the state or of individuals; all the rich and precious moveables; and all the slaves who could prove their title to the name of Barbarians. The ministers of the senate presumed to ask, in a modest and suppliant tone, “If such, O king! are your demands, what do you intend to leave us?” “Your lives,” replied the haughty conqueror: they trembled and retired. Yet, before they retired, a short suspension of arms was granted, which allowed some time for a more temperate negotiation. The stern features of Alaric were insensibly relaxed; he abated much of the rigour of his terms; and at length consented to raise the siege, on the immediate payment of five thousand pounds of gold, of thirty thousand pounds of silver, of four thousand robes of silk, of three thousand pieces of fine scarlet cloth,80 and of three thousand pounds weight of pepper.81 But the public treasury was exhausted; the annual rents of the great estates in Italy and the provinces were intercepted by the calamities of war; the gold and gems had been exchanged during the famine for the vilest sustenance; the hoards of secret wealth were still concealed by the obstinacy of avarice; and some remains of consecrated spoils afforded the only resource that could avert the impending ruin of the city. As soon as the Romans had satisfied the rapacious demands of Alaric, they were Edition: current; Page: [230] restored, in some measure, to the enjoyment of peace and plenty. Several of the gates were cautiously opened; the importation of provisions from the river and the adjacent country was no longer obstructed by the Goths; the citizens resorted in crowds to the free market, which was held during three days in the suburbs; and, while the merchants who undertook this gainful trade made a considerable profit, the future subsistence of the city was secured by the ample magazines which were deposited in the public and private granaries. A more regular discipline than could have been expected was maintained in the camp of Alaric; and the wise Barbarian justified his regard for the faith of treaties by the just severity with which he chastised a party of licentious Goths, who had insulted some Roman citizens on the road to Ostia. His army, enriched by the contributions of the capital, slowly advanced into the fair and fruitful province of Tuscany, where he proposed to establish his winter-quarters; and the Gothic standard became the refuge of forty thousand Barbarian slaves, who had broke their chains, and aspired, under the command of their great deliverer, to revenge the injuries and the disgrace of their cruel servitude. About the same time, he received a more honourable reinforcement of Goths and Huns, whom Adolphus,82 the brother of his wife, had conducted, at his pressing invitation, from the banks of the Danube to those of the Tiber, and who had cut their way, with some difficulty and loss, through the superior numbers of the Imperial troops. A victorious leader, who united the daring spirit of a Barbarian with the art and discipline of a Roman general, was at the head of an hundred thousand fighting men; and Italy pronounced, with terror and respect, the formidable name of Alaric.83

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At the distance of fourteen centuries, we may be satisfied with relating the military exploits of the conquerors of Rome without presuming to investigate the motives of their political conduct. In the midst of his apparent prosperity, Alaric was conscious, perhaps, of some secret weakness, some internal defect; or perhaps the moderation which he displayed was intended only to deceive and disarm the easy credulity of the ministers of Honorius. The king of the Goths repeatedly declared that it was his desire to be considered as the friend of peace and of the Romans. Three senators, at his earnest request, were sent ambassadors to the court of Ravenna, to solicit the exchange of hostages and the conclusion of the treaty; and the proposals, which he more clearly expressed during the course of the negotiations, could only inspire a doubt of his sincerity, as they might seem inadequate to the state of his fortune. The Barbarian still aspired to the rank of master-general of the armies of the West; he stipulated an annual subsidy of corn and money; and he chose the provinces of Dalmatia, Noricum, and Venetia for the seat of his new kingdom, which would have commanded the important communication between Italy and the Danube. If these modest terms should be rejected, Alaric shewed a disposition to relinquish his pecuniary demands, and even to content himself with the possession of Noricum: an exhausted and impoverished country, perpetually exposed to the inroads of the Barbarians of Germany.84 But the hopes of peace were disappointed by the weak obstinacy, or interested views, of the minister Olympius. Without listening to the salutary remonstrances of the senate, he dismissed their ambassadors under the conduct of a military escort, too numerous for a retinue of honour and too feeble for an army of defence. Edition: current; Page: [232] Six thousand Dalmatians, the flower of the Imperial legions, were ordered to march from Ravenna to Rome, through an open country, which was occupied by the formidable myriads of the Barbarians. These brave legionaries, encompassed and betrayed, fell a sacrifice to ministerial folly; their general, Valens, with an hundred soldiers, escaped from the field of battle; and one of the ambassadors, who could no longer claim the protection of the law of nations, was obliged to purchase his freedom with a ransom of thirty thousand pieces of gold. Yet Alaric, instead of resenting this act of impotent hostility, immediately renewed his proposals of peace; and the second embassy of the Roman senate, which derived weight and dignity from the presence of Innocent, bishop of the city, was guarded from the dangers of the road by a detachment of Gothic soldiers.85

Olympius86 might have continued to insult the just resentment of a people who loudly accused him as the author of the public calamities; but his power was undermined by the secret intrigues of the palace. The favourite eunuchs transferred the government of Honorius and the empire to Jovius, the Prætorian prefect: an unworthy servant, who did not atone by the merit of personal attachment for the errors and misfortunes of his administration. The exile or escape of the guilty Olympius reserved him for more vicissitudes of fortune: he experienced the adventures of an obscure and wandering life; he again rose to power; he fell a second time into disgrace; his ears were cut off; he expired under the lash; and his ignominious death afforded a grateful spectacle to the friends of Stilicho. After the removal of Olympius, whose character was deeply tainted with religious Edition: current; Page: [233] fanaticism, the Pagans and heretics were delivered from the impolitic proscription which excluded them from the dignities of the state. The brave Gennerid,87 a soldier of Barbarian origin who still adhered to the worship of his ancestors, had been obliged to lay aside the military belt; and, though he was repeatedly assured by the emperor himself that laws were not made for persons of his rank or merit, he refused to accept any partial dispensation, and persevered in honourable disgrace till he had extorted a general act of justice from the distress of the Roman government. The conduct of Gennerid in the important station, to which he was promoted or restored, of master-general of Dalmatia, Pannonia, Noricum and Rhætia88 seemed to revive the discipline and spirit of the republic. From a life of idleness and want his troops were soon habituated to severe exercise and plentiful subsistence; and his private generosity often supplied the rewards which were denied by the avarice or poverty of the court of Ravenna. The valour of Gennerid, formidable to the adjacent Barbarians, was the firmest bulwark of the Illyrian frontier; and his vigilant care assisted the empire with a reinforcement of ten thousand Huns, who arrived on the confines of Italy, attended by such a convoy of provisions and such a numerous train of sheep and oxen as might have been sufficient not only for the march of an army but for the settlement of a colony. But the court and councils of Honorius still remained a scene of weakness and distraction, of corruption and anarchy. Edition: current; Page: [234] Instigated by the prefect Jovius the guards rose in furious mutiny, and demanded the heads of two generals, and of the two principal eunuchs. The generals, under a perfidious promise of safety, were sent on shipboard, and privately executed; while the favour of the eunuchs procured them a mild and secure exile at Milan and Constantinople. Eusebius the eunuch and the Barbarian Allobich succeeded to the command of the bedchamber and of the guards; and the mutual jealousy of these subordinate ministers was the cause of their mutual destruction. By the insolent order of the count of the domestics the great chamberlain was shamefully beaten to death with sticks before the eyes of the astonished emperor; and the subsequent assassination of Allobich in the midst of a public procession is the only circumstance of his life in which Honorius discovered the faintest symptom of courage or resentment. Yet, before they fell, Eusebius and Allobich had contributed their part to the ruin of the empire by opposing the conclusion of a treaty which Jovius, from a selfish and perhaps a criminal motive, had negotiated with Alaric in a personal interview under the walls of Rimini. During the absence of Jovius the emperor was persuaded to assume a lofty tone of inflexible dignity, such as neither his situation nor his character could enable him to support: and a letter signed with the name of Honorius was immediately despatched to the Prætorian prefect, granting him a free permission to dispose of the public money, but sternly refusing to prostitute the military honours of Rome to the proud demands of a Barbarian. This letter was imprudently communicated to Alaric himself; and the Goth, who in the whole transaction had behaved with temper and decency, expressed in the most outrageous language his lively sense of the insult so wantonly offered to his person and to his nation. The conference of Rimini was hastily interrupted; and the prefect Jovius on his return to Ravenna was compelled to adopt, and even to encourage, the fashionable opinions of the court. By his advice and example the Edition: current; Page: [235] principal officers of the state and army were obliged to swear that, without listening, in any circumstances, to any condition of peace, they would still persevere in perpetual and implacable war against the enemy of the republic. This rash engagement opposed an insuperable bar to all future negotiation. The ministers of Honorius were heard to declare that, if they had only invoked the name of the Deity, they would consult the public safety and trust their souls to the mercy of Heaven; but they had sworn by the sacred head of the emperor himself; they had touched in solemn ceremony that august seat of majesty and wisdom; and the violation of their oath would expose them to the temporal penalties of sacrilege and rebellion.89

While the emperor and his court enjoyed, with sullen pride, the security of the marshes and fortifications of Ravenna, they abandoned Rome almost without defence to the resentment of Alaric. Yet such was the moderation which he still preserved or affected that, as he moved with his army along the Flaminian way, he successively despatched the bishops of the towns of Italy to reiterate his offers of peace and to conjure the emperor that he would save the city and its inhabitants from hostile fire and the sword of the Barbarians.90 These impending calamities were however averted, not indeed by the wisdom of Honorius, but by the prudence or humanity of the Gothic king; who employed a milder, though not less effectual, method of conquest. Instead of assaulting the capital, he successfully directed his efforts against the Port of Ostia, Edition: current; Page: [236] one of the boldest and most stupendous works of Roman magnificence.91 The accidents to which the precarious subsistence of the city was continually exposed in a winter-navigation and an open road had suggested to the genius of the first Cæsar the useful design which was executed under the reign of Claudius. The artificial moles which formed the narrow entrance advanced far into the sea and firmly repelled the fury of the waves, while the largest vessels securely rode at anchor within three deep and capacious basons, which received the northern branch of the Tiber, about two miles from the ancient colony of Ostia.92 The Roman Port insensibly swelled to the size of an episcopal city,93 where the corn Edition: current; Page: [237] of Africa was deposited in spacious granaries for the use of the capital. As soon as Alaric was in possession of that important place, he summoned the city to surrender at discretion, and his demands were enforced by the positive declaration that a refusal or even a delay should be instantly followed by the destruction of the magazines, on which the life of the Roman people depended. The clamours of that people and the terror of famine subdued the pride of the senate; they listened without reluctance to the proposal of placing a new emperor on the throne of the unworthy Honorius; and the suffrage of the Gothic conqueror bestowed the purple on Attalus, prefect of the city. The grateful monarch immediately acknowledged his protector as master-general of the armies of the West; Adolphus, with the rank of count of the domestics, obtained the custody of the person of Attalus; and the two hostile nations seemed to be united in the closest bands of friendship and alliance.94

The gates of the city were thrown open, and the new emperor of the Romans, encompassed on every side by the Gothic arms, was conducted in tumultuous procession, to the palace of Augustus and Trajan. After he had distributed the civil and military dignities among his favourites and followers, Attalus convened an assembly of the senate; before whom, in a formal and florid speech, he asserted his resolution of restoring the majesty of the republic, and of uniting to the empire the provinces of Egypt and the East, which had once acknowledged the sovereignty of Rome. Such extravagant promises inspired every reasonable citizen with a just contempt for the character of an unwarlike usurper; whose elevation was the deepest and most ignominious wound which the republic had yet sustained from the Edition: current; Page: [238] insolence of the Barbarians. But the populace, with their usual levity, applauded the change of masters. The public discontent was favourable to the rival of Honorius; and the sectaries, oppressed by his persecuting edicts, expected some degree of countenance, or at least of toleration, from a prince who, in his native country of Ionia, had been educated in the Pagan superstition, and who had since received the sacrament of baptism from the hands of an Arian bishop.95 The first days of the reign of Attalus were fair and prosperous. An officer of confidence was sent with an inconsiderable body of troops to secure the obedience of Africa; the greatest part of Italy submitted to the terror of the Gothic powers; and, though the city of Bologna made a vigorous and effectual resistance, the people of Milan, dissatisfied perhaps with the absence of Honorius, accepted, with loud acclamations, the choice of the Roman senate. At the head of a formidable army Alaric conducted his royal captive almost to the gates of Ravenna; and a solemn embassy of the principal ministers, of Jovius, the Prætorian prefect, of Valens, master of the cavalry and infantry, of the quæstor Potamius, and of Julian, the first of the notaries, was introduced with martial pomp into the Gothic camp. In the name of their sovereign they consented to acknowledge the lawful election of his competitor, and to divide the provinces of Italy and the West between the two emperors. Their proposals were rejected with disdain; and the refusal was aggravated by the insulting clemency of Attalus, who condescended to promise that, if Honorius would instantly resign the purple, he should be permitted to pass the remainder of his life in the peaceful exile of some remote island.96 So desperate indeed did the Edition: current; Page: [239] situation of the son of Theodosius appear to those who were the best acquainted with his strength and resources, that Jovius and Valens, his minister and his general, betrayed their trust, infamously deserted the sinking cause of their benefactor, and devoted their treacherous allegiance to the service of his more fortunate rival. Astonished by such examples of domestic treason, Honorius trembled at the approach of every servant, at the arrival of every messenger. He dreaded the secret enemies, who might lurk in his capital, his palace, his bedchamber; and some ships lay ready in the harbour of Ravenna to transport the abdicated monarch to the dominions of his infant nephew, the emperor of the East.

But there is a Providence (such at least was the opinion of the historian Procopius97) that watches over innocence and folly; and the pretensions of Honorius to its peculiar care cannot reasonably be disputed. At the moment when his despair, incapable of any wise or manly resolution, meditated a shameful flight,98 a seasonable reinforcement of four thousand veterans unexpectedly landed in the port of Ravenna. To these valiant strangers, whose fidelity had not been corrupted by the factions of the court, he committed the walls and gates of the city; and the slumbers of the emperor were no longer disturbed by the apprehension of imminent and internal danger. The favourable intelligence which was received from Africa suddenly changed the opinions of men, and the state of public affairs. The troops and officers whom Attalus had sent into that province were defeated and slain; and the active zeal of Heraclian maintained his own allegiance and that of his people. The faithful count of Africa transmitted a large sum of money, which fixed the Edition: current; Page: [240] attachment of the Imperial guards; and his vigilance, in preventing the exportation of corn and oil, introduced famine, tumult, and discontent into the walls of Rome. The failure of the African expedition was the source of mutual complaint and recrimination in the party of Attalus; and the mind of his protector was insensibly alienated from the interest of a prince who wanted spirit to command or docility to obey. The most imprudent measures were adopted, without the knowledge, or against the advice, of Alaric; and the obstinate refusal of the senate to allow, in the embarkation, the mixture even of five hundred Goths betrayed a suspicious and distrustful temper, which, in their situation, was neither generous nor prudent. The resentment of the Gothic king was exasperated by the malicious arts of Jovius, who had been raised to the rank of patrican, and who afterwards excused his double perfidy by declaring, without a blush, that he had only seemed to abandon the service of Honorius, more effectually to ruin the cause of the usurper. In a large plain near Rimini, and in the presence of an innumerable multitude of Romans and Barbarians, the wretched Attalus was publicly despoiled of the diadem and purple; and those ensigns of royalty were sent by Alaric, as the pledge of peace and friendship, to the son of Theodosius.99 The officers who returned to their duty were reinstated in their employments, and even the merit of a tardy repentance was graciously allowed; but the degraded emperor of the Romans, desirous of life and insensible of disgrace, implored the permission of following the Gothic camp in the train of a haughty and capricious Barbarian.100

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The degradation of Attalus removed the only real obstacle to the conclusion of the peace; and Alaric advanced within three miles of Ravenna, to press the irresolution of the Imperial ministers, whose insolence soon returned with the return of fortune. His indignation was kindled by the report that a rival chieftain, that Sarus, the personal enemy of Adolphus and the hereditary foe of the house of Balti, had been received into the palace. At the head of three hundred followers, that fearless Barbarian immediately sallied from the gates of Ravenna; surprised, and cut in pieces, a considerable body of Goths; re-entered the city in triumph; and was permitted to insult his adversary by the voice of a herald, who publicly declared that the guilt of Alaric had for ever excluded him from the friendship and alliance of the emperor.101 The crime and folly of the court of Ravenna was expiated a third time by the calamities of Rome. The king of the Goths, who no longer dissembled his appetite for plunder and revenge, appeared in arms under the walls of the capital; and the trembling senate, without any hopes of relief, prepared, by a desperate resistance, to delay the ruin of their country. But they were unable to guard against the secret conspiracy of their slaves and domestics; who, either from birth or interest, were attached to the cause of the enemy. At the hour of midnight, the Salarian gate was silently opened, and the inhabitants were awakened by the tremendous sound of the Gothic trumpet. Eleven hundred and sixty-three years after the foundation of Rome, the Imperial city, which had subdued and civilised so considerable a part of mankind, was delivered to the licentious fury of the tribes of Germany and Scythia.102

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The proclamation of Alaric, when he forced his entrance into a vanquished city, discovered, however, some regard for the laws of humanity and religion. He encouraged his troops boldly to seize the rewards of valour, and to enrich themselves with the spoils of a wealthy and effeminate people; but he exhorted them at the same time to spare the lives of the unresisting citizens, and to respect the churches of the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, as holy and inviolable sanctuaries. Amidst the horrors of a nocturnal tumult, several of the Christian Goths displayed the fervour of a recent conversion; and some instances of their uncommon piety and moderation are related, and perhaps adorned, by the zeal of ecclesiastical writers.103 While the Barbarians roamed through the city in quest of prey, the humble dwelling of an aged virgin, who had devoted her life to the service of the altar, was forced open by one of the powerful Goths. He immediately demanded, though in civil language, all the gold and silver in her possession; and was astonished at the readiness with which she conducted him to a splendid hoard of massy plate, of the richest materials, and the most curious workmanship. The Barbarian viewed with wonder and delight this valuable acquisition, till he was interrupted by a serious admonition, addressed to him in the following words: Edition: current; Page: [243] “These,” said she, “are the consecrated vessels belonging to St. Peter; if you presume to touch them, the sacrilegious deed will remain on your conscience. For my part, I dare not keep what I am unable to defend.” The Gothic captain, struck with reverential awe, despatched a messenger to inform the king of the treasure which he had discovered; and received a peremptory order from Alaric that all the consecrated plate and ornaments should be transported, without damage or delay, to the church of the apostle. From the extremity, perhaps, of the Quirinal hill to the distant quarter of the Vatican, a numerous detachment of Goths, marching in order of battle through the principal streets, protected, with glittering arms, the long train of their devout companions, who bore aloft, on their heads, the sacred vessels of gold and silver; and the martial shouts of the Barbarians were mingled with the sound of religious psalmody. From all the adjacent houses, a crowd of Christians hastened to join this edifying procession; and a multitude of fugitives, without distinction of age, or rank, or even of sect, had the good fortune to escape to the secure and hospitable sanctuary of the Vatican. The learned work, concerning the City of God, was professedly composed by St. Augustin, to justify the ways of Providence in the destruction of the Roman greatness. He celebrates with peculiar satisfaction this memorable triumph of Christ; and insults his adversaries by challenging them to produce some similar example of a town taken by storm in which the fabulous gods of antiquity had been able to protect either themselves or their deluded votaries.104

In the sack of Rome, some rare and extraordinary examples of Barbarian virtue have been deservedly applauded. But the holy precincts of the Vatican and the apostolic churches could Edition: current; Page: [244] receive a very small proportion of the Roman people: many thousand warriors, more especially of the Huns, who served under the standard of Alaric, were strangers to the name, or at least to the faith, of Christ; and we may suspect, without any breach of charity or candour, that in the hour of savage licence, when every passion was inflamed and every restraint was removed, the precepts of the gospel seldom influenced the behaviour of the Gothic Christians. The writers, the best disposed to exaggerate their clemency, have freely confessed that a cruel slaughter was made of the Romans;105 and that the streets of the city were filled with dead bodies, which remained without burial during the general consternation. The despair of the citizens was sometimes converted into fury; and, whenever the Barbarians were provoked by opposition, they extended the promiscuous massacre to the feeble, the innocent, and the helpless. The private revenge of forty thousand slaves was exercised without pity or remorse; and the ignominious lashes, which they had formerly received, were washed away in the blood of the guilty, or obnoxious, families. The matrons and virgins of Rome were exposed to injuries more dreadful in the apprehension of chastity than death itself; and the ecclesiastical historian has selected an example of female virtue, for the admiration of future ages.106 A Roman lady of singular beauty and orthodox faith Edition: current; Page: [none] Edition: current; Page: [245] had excited the impatient desires of a young Goth, who, according to the sagacious remark of Sozomen, was attached to the Arian heresy. Exasperated by her obstinate resistance, he drew his sword, and, with the anger of a lover, slightly wounded her neck. The bleeding heroine still continued to brave his resentment and to repel his love, till the ravisher desisted from his unavailing efforts, respectfully conducted her to the sanctuary of the Vatican, and gave six pieces of gold to the guards of the church, on condition that they should restore her inviolate to the arms of her husband. Such instances of courage and generosity were not extremely common. The brutal soldiers satisfied their sensual appetites, without consulting either the inclination or the duties of their female captives; and a nice question of casuistry was seriously agitated, Whether those tender victims who had inflexibly refused their consent to the violation which they sustained had lost, by their misfortune, the glorious crown of virginity.107 There were other losses indeed of a more substantial kind and more general concern. It cannot be presumed that all the Barbarians were at all times capable of perpetrating such amorous outrages; and the want of youth or beauty or chastity protected the greatest part of the Roman women from the danger of a rape. But avarice is an insatiate and universal passion; since the enjoyment of almost every object that can afford pleasure to the different tastes and Edition: current; Page: [246] tempers of mankind may be procured by the possession of wealth. In the pillage of Rome, a just preference was given to gold and jewels, which contain the greatest value in the smallest compass and weight; but, after these portable riches had been removed by the more diligent robbers, the palaces of Rome were rudely stripped of their splendid and costly furniture. The sideboards of massy plate, and the variegated wardrobes of silk and purple, were irregularly piled in the waggons that always followed the march of a Gothic army. The most exquisite works of art were roughly handled or wantonly destroyed: many a statue was melted for the sake of the precious materials; and many a vase, in the division of the spoil, was shivered into fragments by the stroke of a battle-axe. The acquisition of riches served only to stimulate the avarice of the rapacious Barbarians, who proceeded by threats, by blows, and by tortures to force from their prisoners the confession of hidden treasure.108 Visible splendour and expense were alleged as the proof of a plentiful fortune; the appearance of poverty was imputed to a parsimonious disposition; and the obstinacy of some misers, who endured the most cruel torments before they would discover the secret object of their affection, was fatal to many unhappy wretches, who expired under the lash for refusing to reveal their imaginary treasures. The edifices of Rome, though the damage has been much exaggerated, received some injury from the violence of the Goths. At their entrance through the Salarian gate, they fired the adjacent houses, to guide their march and to distract the attention of the citizens; the flames, which encountered no obstacle in the disorder of the night, consumed many private and public buildings; Edition: current; Page: [247] and the ruins of the palace of Sallust109 remained in the age of Justinian, a stately monument of the Gothic conflagration.110 Yet a contemporary historian has observed that fire could scarcely consume the enormous beams of solid brass, and that the strength of man was insufficient to subvert the foundations of ancient structures. Some truth may possibly be concealed in his devout assertion that the wrath of Heaven supplied the imperfections of hostile rage, and that the proud Forum of Rome, decorated with the statues of so many gods and heroes, was levelled in the dust by the stroke of lightning.111

The Pillage and Fire of Rome. From a drawing by Jan Styka.

Whatever might be the numbers, of equestrian or plebeian rank, who perished in the massacre of Rome, it is confidently affirmed that only one senator lost his life by the sword of the enemy.112 But it was not easy to compute the multitudes, Edition: current; Page: [248] who, from an honourable station and a prosperous fortune, were suddenly reduced to the miserable condition of captives and exiles. As the Barbarians had more occasion for money than for slaves, they fixed at a moderate price the redemption of their indigent prisoners; and the ransom was often paid by the benevolence of their friends or the charity of strangers.113 The captives, who were regularly sold, either in open market or by private contract, would have legally regained their native freedom, which it was impossible for a citizen to lose or to alienate.114 But, as it was soon discovered that the vindication of their liberty would endanger their lives, and that the Goths, unless they were tempted to sell, might be provoked to murder, their useless prisoners, the civil jurisprudence had been already qualified by a wise regulation that they should be obliged to serve the moderate term of five years, till they had discharged by their labour the price of their redemption.115 The nations who invaded the Roman empire had driven before them, into Italy, whole troops of hungry and affrighted provincials, less apprehensive of servitude than of famine. The calamities of Rome and Italy dispersed the inhabitants to the most lonely, the most secure, the most distant places of refuge. While the Gothic cavalry spread terror and desolation along the sea-coast of Campania and Tuscany, the little Island of Igilium, separated by a narrow channel from the Argentarian promontory, repulsed, or eluded, their hostile attempts; and, at so small a distance Edition: current; Page: [249] from Rome, great numbers of citizens were securely concealed in the thick woods of that sequestered spot.116 The ample patrimonies, which many senatorian families possessed in Africa, invited them, if they had time and prudence, to escape from the ruin of their country, to embrace the shelter of that hospitable province. The most illustrious of these fugitives was the noble and pious Proba,117 the widow of the prefect Petronius. After the death of her husband, the most powerful subject of Rome, she had remained at the head of the Anician family, and successively supplied, from her private fortune, the expense of the consulships of her three sons. When the city was besieged and taken by the Goths, Proba supported, with Christian resignation, the loss of immense riches; embarked in a small vessel, from whence she beheld, at sea, the flames of her burning palace; and fled with her daughter Læta, and her granddaughter, the celebrated virgin Demetrias, to the coast of Africa. The benevolent Edition: current; Page: [250] profusion with which the matron distributed the fruits, or the price, of her estates contributed to alleviate the misfortunes of exile and captivity. But even the family of Proba herself was not exempt from the rapacious oppression of Count Heraclian, who basely sold, in matrimonial prostitution, the noblest maidens of Rome to the lust or avarice of the Syrian merchants. The Italian fugitives were dispersed through the provinces, along the coast of Egypt and Asia, as far as Constantinople and Jerusalem; and the village of Bethlem, the solitary residence of St. Jerom and his female converts, was crowded with illustrious beggars of either sex and every age, who excited the public compassion by the remembrance of their past fortune.118 This awful catastrophe of Rome filled the astonished empire with grief and terror. So interesting a contrast of greatness and ruin disposed the fond credulity of the people to deplore, and even to exaggerate, the afflictions of the queen of cities. The clergy, who applied to recent events the lofty metaphors of Oriental prophecy, were sometimes tempted to confound the destruction of the capital and the dissolution of the globe.

There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify the evils, of the present times. Yet, when the first emotions had subsided, and a fair estimate was made of the real damage, the more learned and judicious contemporaries were forced to confess that infant Rome had formerly received more essential injury from the Gauls than she had now sustained from the Goths in her declining age.119 The experience of eleven centuries has enabled posterity to produce a much more singular parallel; Edition: current; Page: [251] and to affirm with confidence that the ravages of the Barbarians, whom Alaric had led from the banks of the Danube, were less destructive than the hostilities exercised by the troops of Charles the Fifth, a Catholic prince, who styled himself Emperor of the Romans.120 The Goths evacuated the city at the end of six days, but Rome remained above nine months in the possession of the Imperialists; and every hour was stained by some atrocious act of cruelty, lust, and rapine. The authority of Alaric preserved some order and moderation among the ferocious multitude, which acknowledged him for their leader and king; but the constable of Bourbon had gloriously fallen in the attack of the walls; and the death of the general removed every restraint of discipline from an army which consisted of three independent nations, the Italians, the Spaniards, and the Germans. In the beginning of the sixteenth century, the manners of Italy exhibited a remarkable scene of the depravity of mankind. They united the sanguinary crimes that prevail in an unsettled state of society, with the polished vices that spring from the abuse of art and luxury; and the loose adventurers, who had violated every prejudice of patriotism and superstition to assault the palace of the Roman pontiff, must deserve to be considered as the most profligate of the Italians. At the same era, the Spaniards were the terror both of the Old and New World; but their high-spirited valour was disgraced by gloomy pride, rapacious avarice, and unrelenting cruelty. Indefatigable in the pursuit of fame and riches, they had Edition: current; Page: [252] improved, by repeated practice, the most exquisite and effectual methods of torturing their prisoners; many of the Castillans, who pillaged Rome, were familiars of the holy inquisition; and some volunteers, perhaps, were lately returned from the conquest of Mexico. The Germans were less corrupt than the Italians, less cruel than the Spaniards; and the rustic, or even savage, aspect of those Tramontane warriors often disguised a simple and merciful disposition. But they had imbibed, in the first fervour of the reformation, the spirit, as well as the principles, of Luther. It was their favourite amusement to insult or destroy the consecrated objects of Catholic superstition; they indulged, without pity or remorse, a devout hatred against the clergy of every denomination and degree, who form so considerable a part of the inhabitants of modern Rome; and their fanatic zeal might aspire to subvert the throne of Anti-christ, to purify, with blood and fire, the abominations of the spiritual Babylon.121

The retreat of the victorious Goths, who evacuated Rome on the sixth day,122 might be the result of prudence, but it was not surely the effect of fear.123 At the head of an army, encumbered with rich and weighty spoils, their intrepid leader advanced along the Appian way into the southern provinces of Italy, destroying whatever dared to oppose his passage, and contenting himself with the plunder of the unresisting country. The fate of Capua, the proud and luxurious metropolis of Campania, and which was respected, even in its Edition: current; Page: [253] decay, as the eighth city of the empire,124 is buried in oblivion; whilst the adjacent town of Nola125 has been illustrated, on this occasion, by the sanctity of Paulinus,126 who was successively a consul, a monk, and a bishop. At the age of forty, he renounced the enjoyment of wealth and honour, of society and literature, to embrace a life of solitude and penance; and the loud applause of the clergy encouraged him to despise the reproaches of his worldly friends, who ascribed this desperate act to some disorder of the mind or body.127 An early and passionate attachment determined him to fix his humble dwelling in one of the suburbs of Nola, near the miraculous tomb of St. Felix, which the public devotion had already surrounded with five large and populous churches. The remains of his fortune, and of his understanding, were dedicated to the service of the glorious martyr; whose praise, on the day of his festival, Paulinus never failed to celebrate by a solemn hymn; and in whose name he erected a sixth church, of superior elegance and beauty, which was decorated with many curious pictures, from the history of the Old and New Testament. Such assiduous zeal secured the favour of the saint,128 or at least of the people; and, after fifteen years’ Edition: current; Page: [254] retirement, the Roman consul was compelled to accept the bishopric of Nola, a few months before the city was invested by the Goths. During the siege, some religious persons were satisfied that they had seen, either in dreams or visions, the divine form of their tutelar patron; yet it soon appeared by the event that Felix wanted power, or inclination, to preserve the flock of which he had formerly been the shepherd. Nola was not saved from the general devastation;129 and the captive bishop was protected only by the general opinion of his innocence and poverty. Above four years elapsed from the successful invasion of Italy by the arms of Alaric to the voluntary retreat of the Goths under the conduct of his successor Adolphus; and, during the whole time, they reigned without control over a country which, in the opinion of the ancients, had united all the various excellencies of nature and art. The prosperity, indeed, which Italy had attained in the auspicious age of the Antonines, had gradually declined with the decline of the empire. The fruits of a long peace perished under the rude grasp of the Barbarians; and they themselves were incapable of tasting the more elegant refinements of luxury which had been prepared for the use of the soft and polished Italians. Each soldier, however, claimed an ample portion of the substantial plenty, the corn and cattle, oil and wine, that was daily collected and consumed in the Gothic camp; and the principal warriors insulted the villas and gardens, once inhabited by Lucullus and Cicero, along the beauteous coast of Campania. Their trembling captives, the sons and daughters of Roman senators, presented in goblets of gold and gems large draughts of Falernian wine to the haughty victors; who stretched their huge limbs under the shade of plane-trees,130 artificially disposed to Edition: current; Page: [255] exclude the scorching rays, and to admit the genial warmth, of the sun. These delights were enhanced by the memory of past hardships; the comparison of their native soil, the bleak and barren hills of Scythia, and the frozen banks of the Elbe and Danube, added new charms to the felicity of the Italian climate.131

Whether fame or conquest or riches were the object of Alaric, he pursued that object with an indefatigable ardour, which could neither be quelled by adversity nor satiated by success. No sooner had he reached the extreme land of Italy than he was attacked by the neighbouring prospect of a fertile and peaceful island. Yet even the possession of Sicily he considered only as an intermediate step to the important expedition which he already meditated against the continent of Africa. The straits of Rhegium and Messina132 are twelve miles in length, and in the narrowest passage about one mile and a half broad; and the fabulous monsters of the deep, the rocks of Scylla and the whirlpool of Charybdis, could terrify none but the most timid and unskilful mariners. Yet, as soon as Edition: current; Page: [256] the first division of the Goths had embarked, a sudden tempest arose, which sunk or scattered many of the transports; their courage was daunted by the terrors of a new element; and the whole design was defeated by the premature death of Alaric, which fixed, after a short illness, the fatal term of his conquests. The ferocious character of the Barbarians was displayed in the funeral of a hero, whose valour and fortune they celebrated with mournful applause. By the labour of a captive multitude they forcibly diverted the course of the Busentinus, a small river that washes the walls of Consentia. The royal sepulchre, adorned with the splendid spoils and trophies of Rome, was constructed in the vacant bed the waters were then restored to their natural channel, and the secret spot, where the remains of Alaric had been deposited, was for ever concealed by the inhuman massacre of the prisoners who had been employed to execute the work.133

The personal animosities and hereditary feuds of the Barbarians were suspended by the strong necessity of their affairs; and the brave Adolphus, the brother-in-law of the deceased monarch, was unanimously elected to succeed to his throne. The character and political system of the new king of the Goths may be best understood from his own conversation with an illustrious citizen of Narbonne, who afterwards, in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, related it to St. Jerom, in the presence of the historian Orosius. “In the full confidence of valour and victory I once aspired” (said Adolphus) “to change the face of the universe; to obliterate the name of Rome; to erect on its ruins the dominion of the Goths; and to acquire, like Augustus, the immortal fame of the founder of a new empire. By repeated experiments I was gradually convinced that laws are essentially necessary to maintain and regulate a well-constituted state, and that the fierce untractable humour of the Goths was incapable of bearing the salutary yoke of laws and civil government. From that moment I Edition: current; Page: [257] proposed to myself a different object of glory and ambition; and it is now my sincere wish that the gratitude of future ages should acknowledge the merit of a stranger who employed the sword of the Goths, not to subvert, but to restore and maintain, the prosperity of the Roman empire.”134 With these pacific views the successor of Alaric suspended the operations of war, and seriously negotiated with the Imperial court a treaty of friendship and alliance. It was the interest of the ministers of Honorius, who were now released from the obligation of their extravagant oath, to deliver Italy from the intolerable weight of the Gothic powers; and they readily accepted their service against the tyrants and barbarians who infested the provinces beyond the Alps. Adolphus,135 assuming the character of a Roman general, directed his march from the extremity of Campania to the southern provinces of Gaul. His troops, either by force or agreement, immediately occupied the cities of Narbonne, Toulouse, and Bourdeaux; and though they were repulsed by Count Boniface from the walls of Marseilles, they soon extended their quarters from the Mediterranean to the Ocean. The oppressed provincials might exclaim that the miserable remnant which the enemy had spared was cruelly ravished by their pretended allies; yet some specious colours were not wanting to palliate, or justify, the violence of the Goths. The cities of Gaul which they attacked might perhaps be considered as in a state of rebellion against the government of Honorius; the articles of the treaty, or the secret instructions of the court, might sometimes be alleged in favour of the seeming usurpations Edition: current; Page: [258] of Adolphus; and the guilt of any irregular, unsuccessful act of hostility might always be imputed, with an appearance of truth, to the ungovernable spirit of a Barbarian host, impatient of peace or discipline. The luxury of Italy had been less effectual to soften the temper than to relax the courage of the Goths; and they had imbibed the vices, without imitating the arts and institutions, of civilised society.136

The professions of Adolphus were probably sincere, and his attachment to the cause of the republic was secured by the ascendant which a Roman princess had acquired over the heart and understanding of the Barbarian king. Placidia,137 the daughter of the great Theodosius and of Galla, his second wife, had received a royal education in the palace of Constantinople; but the eventful story of her life is connected with the revolutions which agitated the Western empire under the reign of her brother Honorius. When Rome was first invested by the arms of Alaric, Placidia, who was then about twenty years of age, resided in the city; and her ready consent to the death of her cousin Serena has a cruel and ungrateful appearance, which, according to the circumstances of the action, may be aggravated or excused by the consideration of her tender age.138 The victorious Barbarians detained, either as a hostage or a captive,139 the sister of Honorius; but, while she was exposed to the disgrace of following round Italy the motions of a Gothic camp, she experienced, however, a decent and respectful treatment. The authority of Jornandes, who praises the beauty of Placidia, may perhaps be Edition: current; Page: [259] counterbalanced by the silence, the expressive silence, of her flatterers; yet the splendour of her birth, the bloom of youth, the elegance of manners, and the dexterous insinuation which she condescended to employ, made a deep impression on the mind of Adolphus; and the Gothic king aspired to call himself the brother of the emperor. The ministers of Honorius rejected with disdain the proposal of an alliance so injurious to every sentiment of Roman pride, and repeatedly urged the restitution of Placidia as an indispensable condition of the treaty of peace. But the daughter of Theodosius submitted, without reluctance, to the desires of the conqueror, a young and valiant prince, who yielded to Alaric in loftiness of stature, but who excelled in the more attractive qualities of grace and beauty. The marriage of Adolphus and Placidia140 was consummated before the Goths retired from Italy; and the solemn, perhaps the anniversary, day of their nuptials was afterwards celebrated in the house of Ingenuus, one of the most illustrious citizens of Narbonne in Gaul. The bride, attired and adorned like a Roman empress, was placed on a throne of state; and the king of the Goths, who assumed on this occasion the Roman habit, contented himself with a less honourable seat by her side. The nuptial gift, which according to the custom of his nation141 was offered to Placidia, Edition: current; Page: [260] consisted of the rare and magnificent spoils of her country. Fifty beautiful youths, in silken robes; carried a bason in each hand; and one of these basons was filled with pieces of gold, the other with precious stones of an inestimable value. Attalus, so long the sport of fortune and of the Goths, was appointed to lead the chorus of the Hymenæal song, and the degraded emperor might aspire to the praise of a skilful musician. The Barbarians enjoyed the insolence of their triumph; and the provincials rejoiced in this alliance, which tempered by the mild influence of love and reason the fierce spirit of their Gothic lord.142

The hundred basons of gold and gems, presented to Placidia at her nuptial feast, formed an inconsiderable portion of the Gothic treasures; of which some extraordinary specimens may be selected from the history of the successors of Adolphus. Many curious and costly ornaments of pure gold, enriched with jewels, were found in their palace of Narbonne when it was pillaged in the sixth century by the Franks: sixty cups or chalices; fifteen patens, or plates, for the use of the communion; twenty boxes, or cases, to hold the books of the gospel; this consecrated wealth143 was distributed by the son of Clovis among the churches of his dominions, and his pious liberality seems to upbraid some former sacrilege of the Goths. Edition: current; Page: [261] They possessed, with more security of conscience, the famous missorium, or great dish for the service of the table, of massy gold of the weight of five hundred pounds, and of far superior value from the precious stones, the exquisite workmanship, and the tradition that it had been presented by Aetius the patrician to Torismond king of the Goths. One of the successors of Torismond purchased the aid of the French monarch by the promise of this magnificent gift. When he was seated on the throne of Spain, he delivered it with reluctance to the ambassadors of Dagobert; despoiled them on the road; stipulated, after a long negotiation, the inadequate ransom of two hundred thousand pieces of gold; and preserved the missorium as the pride of the Gothic treasury.144 When that treasury, after the conquest of Spain, was plundered by the Arabs, they admired, and they have celebrated, another object still more remarkable, a table of considerable size, of one single piece of solid emerald,145 encircled with three rows of fine pearls, supported by three hundred and sixty-five feet of gems and massy gold, and estimated at the price of five hundred thousand pieces of gold.146 Some portion of the Gothic treasures might be the gift of friendship or the tribute of obedience; but the far greater part had been the fruits of war and rapine, the spoils of the empire, and perhaps of Rome.

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After the deliverance of Italy from the oppression of the Goths some secret counsellor was permitted, amidst the factions of the palace, to heal the wounds of that afflicted country.147 By a wise and humane regulation the eight provinces which had been the most deeply injured, Campania, Tuscany, Picenum, Samnium, Apulia, Calabria, Bruttium, and Lucania, obtained an indulgence of five years: the ordinary tribute was reduced to one fifth, and even that fifth was destined to restore and support the useful institution of the public posts. By another law the lands which had been left without inhabitants or cultivation were granted, with some diminution of taxes, to the neighbours who should occupy, or the strangers who should solicit, them; and the new possessors were secured against the future claims of the fugitive proprietors. About the same time a general amnesty was published in the name of Honorius, to abolish the guilt and memory of all the involuntary offences which had been committed by his unhappy subjects during the term of the public disorder and calamity. A decent and respectful attention was paid to the restoration of the capital; the citizens were encouraged to rebuild the edifices which had been destroyed or damaged by hostile fire; and extraordinary supplies of corn were imported from the coast of Africa. The crowds that so lately fled before the sword of the Barbarians were soon recalled by the hopes of plenty and pleasure; and Albinus, prefect of Rome, informed the court, with some anxiety and surprise, that in a single day he had taken an account of the arrival of fourteen thousand strangers.148 In less than seven years the vestiges of the Gothic invasion Edition: current; Page: [263] were almost obliterated, and the city appeared to resume its former splendour and tranquillity. The venerable matron replaced her crown of laurel which had been ruffled by the storms of war; and was still amused, in the last moment of her decay, with the prophecies of revenge, of victory, and of eternal dominion.149

This apparent tranquillity was soon disturbed by the approach of an hostile armament from the country which afforded the daily subsistence of the Roman people. Heraclian, count of Africa, who, under the most difficult and distressful circumstances, had supported, with active loyalty, the cause of Honorius, was tempted, in the year of his consulship, to assume the character of a rebel and the title of emperor. The ports of Africa were immediately filled with the naval forces, at the head of which he prepared to invade Italy; and his fleet, when it cast anchor at the mouth of the Tiber, indeed surpassed the fleets of Xerxes and Alexander, if all the vessels, including the royal galley and the smallest boat, did actually amount to the incredible number of three thousand two hundred.150 Yet with such an armament, which might have subverted or restored the greatest empires of the earth, the African usurper made a very faint and feeble impression on the provinces of his rival. As he marched from the port along the road which leads to the gates of Rome, Edition: current; Page: [264] he was encountered, terrified, and routed by one of the Imperial captains; and the lord of this mighty host, deserting his fortune and his friends, ignominiously fled with a single ship.151 When Heraclian landed in the harbour of Carthage, he found that the whole province, disdaining such an unworthy ruler, had returned to their allegiance. The rebel was beheaded in the ancient temple of Memory; his consulship was abolished;152 and the remains of his private fortune, not exceeding the moderate sum of four thousand pounds of gold, were granted to the brave Constantius, who had already defended the throne which he afterwards shared with his feeble sovereign. Honorius viewed with supine indifference the calamities of Rome and Italy;153 but the rebellious attempts of Attalus and Heraclian against his personal safety awakened, for a moment, the torpid instinct of his nature. He was probably ignorant of the causes and events which preserved him from these impending dangers; and, as Italy was no longer invaded by any foreign or domestic enemies, he peaceably existed in the palace of Ravenna, while the tyrants beyond the Alps were repeatedly vanquished in the name, and by the lieutenants, of the son of Theodosius.154 Edition: current; Page: [265] In the course of a busy and interesting narrative, I might possibly forget to mention the death of such a prince, and I shall therefore take the precaution of observing, in this place, that he survived the last siege of Rome about thirteen years.

The usurpation of Constantine, who received the purple from the legions of Britain, had been successful; and seemed to be secure. His title was acknowledged, from the wall of Antoninus to the columns of Hercules; and, in the midst of the public disorder, he shared the dominion, and the plunder, of Gaul and Spain with the tribes of Barbarians, whose destructive progress was no longer checked by the Rhine or Pyrenees. Stained with the blood of the kinsmen of Honorius, he extorted from the court of Ravenna, with which he secretly corresponded, the ratification of his rebellious claims. Constantine engaged himself by a solemn promise to deliver Italy from the Goths; advanced as far as the banks of the Po; and, after alarming rather than assisting his pusillanimous ally, hastily returned to the palace of Arles, to celebrate, with intemperate luxury, his vain and ostentatious triumph. But this transient prosperity was soon interrupted and destroyed by the revolt of Count Gerontius, the bravest of his generals; who, during the absence of his son Constans, a prince already invested with the Imperial purple, had been left to command in the provinces of Spain. For some reason of which we are ignorant, Gerontius, instead of assuming the diadem, placed it on the head of his friend Maximus,155 who fixed his residence at Tarragona, while the active count pressed forwards, through the Pyrenees, to surprise the two emperors, Constantine and Constans, before they could prepare for their defence. The son was made prisoner at Vienna and immediately put to death; and the unfortunate youth had scarcely leisure to deplore the elevation of his family, which Edition: current; Page: [266] had tempted or compelled him sacrilegiously to desert the peaceful obscurity of the monastic life. The father maintained a siege within the walls of Arles; but those walls must have yielded to the assailants had not the city been unexpectedly relieved by the approach of an Italian army. The name of Honorius, the proclamation of a lawful emperor, astonished the contending parties of the rebels. Gerontius, abandoned by his own troops, escaped to the confines of Spain; and rescued his name from oblivion by the Roman courage which appeared to animate the last moments of his life. In the middle of the night, a great body of his perfidious soldiers surrounded and attacked his house, which he had strongly barricaded. His wife, a valiant friend of the nation of the Alani, and some faithful slaves were still attached to his person; and he used with so much skill and resolution a large magazine of darts and arrows that above three hundred of the assailants lost their lives in the attempt. His slaves, when all the missile weapons were spent, fled at the dawn of day; and Gerontius, if he had not been restrained by conjugal tenderness, might have imitated their example; till the soldiers, provoked by such obstinate resistance, applied fire on all sides to the house. In this fatal extremity, he complied with the request of his Barbarian friend, and cut off his head. The wife of Gerontius, who conjured him not to abandon her to a life of misery and disgrace, eagerly presented her neck to his sword; and the tragic scene was terminated by the death of the count himself, who, after three ineffectual strokes, drew a short dagger, and sheathed it in his heart.156 The unprotected Maximus, whom he had invested with the purple, was indebted for his life to the contempt that was entertained of his power and abilities. The caprice of the Edition: current; Page: [267] Barbarians, who ravaged Spain, once more seated this Imperial phantom on the throne; but they soon resigned him to the justice of Honorius; and the tyrant Maximus, after he had been shown to the people of Ravenna and Rome, was publicly executed.

The general, Constantius was his name, who raised by his approach the siege of Arles, and dissipated the troops of Gerontius, was born a Roman; and this remarkable distinction is strongly expressive of the decay of military spirit among the subjects of the empire. The strength and majesty which were conspicuous in the person of that general157 marked him, in the popular opinion, as a candidate worthy of the throne which he afterwards ascended. In the familiar intercourse of private life his manners were cheerful and engaging; nor would he sometimes disdain, in the licence of convivial mirth, to vie with the pantomimes themselves in the exercises of their ridiculous profession. But, when the trumpet summoned him to arms; when he mounted his horse, and, bending down (for such was his singular practice) almost upon the neck, fiercely rolled his large animated eyes round the field, Constantius then struck terror into his foes, and inspired his soldiers with the assurance of victory. He had received from the court of Ravenna the important commission of extirpating rebellion in the provinces of the West; and the pretended emperor Constantine, after enjoying a short and anxious respite, was again besieged in his capital by the arms of a more formidable enemy. Yet this interval allowed time for a successful negotiation with the Franks and Alemanni; and his ambassador, Edobic, soon returned, at the head of an army, to disturb the operations of the siege of Arles. The Roman general, instead of expecting the Edition: current; Page: [268] attack in his lines, boldly, and perhaps wisely, resolved to pass the Rhone, and to meet the Barbarians. His measures were conducted with so much skill and secrecy that, while they engaged the infantry of Constantius in the front, they were suddenly attacked, surrounded, and destroyed by the cavalry of his lieutenant Ulphilas, who had silently gained an advantageous post in their rear. The remains of the army of Edobic were preserved by flight or submission, and their leader escaped from the field of battle to the house of a faithless friend; who too clearly understood that the head of his obnoxious guest would be an acceptable and lucrative present for the Imperial general. On this occasion, Constantius behaved with the magnanimity of a genuine Roman. Subduing or suppressing every sentiment of jealousy, he publicly acknowledged the merit and services of Ulphilas; but he turned with horror from the assassin of Edobic; and sternly intimated his commands that the camp should no longer be polluted by the presence of an ungrateful wretch, who had violated the laws of friendship and hospitality. The usurper, who beheld from the walls of Arles the ruin of his last hopes, was tempted to place some confidence in so generous a conqueror. He required a solemn promise for his security; and after receiving, by the imposition of hands, the sacred character of a Christian Presbyter, he ventured to open the gates of the city. But he soon experienced that the principles of honour and integrity, which might regulate the ordinary conduct of Constantius, were superseded by the loose doctrines of political morality. The Roman general, indeed, refused to sully his laurels with the blood of Constantine; but the abdicated emperor and his son Julian were sent under a strong guard into Italy; and before they reached the palace of Ravenna they met the ministers of death.

At a time when it was universally confessed that almost every man in the empire was superior in personal merit to the princes whom the accident of their birth had seated on the throne, a rapid succession of usurpers, regardless of the fate Edition: current; Page: [269] of their predecessors, still continued to arise. This mischief was peculiarly felt in the provinces of Spain and Gaul, where the principles of order and obedience had been extinguished by war and rebellion. Before Constantine resigned the purple, and in the fourth month of the siege of Arles, intelligence was received in the Imperial camp that Jovinus had assumed the diadem at Mentz in the Upper Germany, at the instigation of Goar, king of the Alani, and of Guntiarius, king of the Burgundians; and that the candidate on whom they had bestowed the empire advanced with a formidable host of Barbarians from the banks of the Rhine to those of the Rhone. Every circumstance is dark and extraordinary in the short history of the reign of Jovinus. It was natural to expect that a brave and skilful general, at the head of a victorious army, would have asserted in a field of battle the justice of the cause of Honorius. The hasty retreat of Constantius might be justified by weighty reasons; but he resigned, without a struggle, the possession of Gaul: and Dardanus, the Prætorian prefect, is recorded as the only magistrate who refused to yield obedience to the usurper.158 When the Goths, two years after the siege of Rome, established their quarters in Gaul, it was natural to suppose that their inclinations could be divided only between the emperor Honorius, with whom they had formed a recent alliance, and the degraded Attalus, whom they reserved in their camp for the occasional purpose of acting the part of a musician or a monarch. Yet in a moment of disgust (for which it is not easy to assign a cause or a date) Adolphus connected himself with the usurper of Gaul, and imposed on Edition: current; Page: [270] Attalus the ignominious task of negotiating the treaty which ratified his own disgrace. We are again surprised to read that, instead of considering the Gothic alliance as the firmest support of his throne, Jovinus upbraided, in dark and ambiguous language, the officious importunity of Attalus; that, scorning the advice of his great ally, he invested with the purple his brother Sebastian; and that he most imprudently accepted the service of Sarus, when that gallant chief, the soldier of Honorius, was provoked to desert the court of a prince who knew not how to reward or punish. Adolphus, educated among a race of warriors, who esteemed the duty of revenge as the most precious and sacred portion of their inheritance, advanced with a body of ten thousand Goths to encounter the hereditary enemy of the house of Balti. He attacked Sarus at an unguarded moment, when he was accompanied only by eighteen or twenty of his valiant followers. United by friendship, animated by despair, but at length oppressed by multitudes, this band of heroes deserved the esteem, without exciting the compassion, of their enemies; and the lion was no sooner taken in the toils159 than he was instantly despatched. The death of Sarus dissolved the loose alliance which Adolphus still maintained with the usurpers of Gaul. He again listened to the dictates of love and prudence; and soon satisfied the brother of Placidia, by the assurance that he would immediately transmit to the palace of Ravenna the heads of the two tyrants, Jovinus and Sebastian. The king of the Goths executed his promise without difficulty or delay; the helpless brothers, unsupported by any personal merit, were abandoned by their Barbarian auxiliaries; and the short opposition of Valentia was Edition: current; Page: [271] expiated by the ruin of one of the noblest cities of Gaul. The emperor, chosen by the Roman senate, who had been promoted, degraded, insulted, restored, again degraded, and again insulted, was finally abandoned to his fate; but, when the Gothic king withdrew his protection, he was restrained by pity or contempt from offering any violence to the person of Attalus. The unfortunate Attalus, who was left without subjects or allies, embarked in one of the ports of Spain, in search of some secure and solitary retreat; but he was intercepted at sea, conducted to the presence of Honorius, led in triumph through the streets of Rome or Ravenna, and publicly exposed to the gazing multitude, on the second step of the throne of his invincible conqueror. The same measure of punishment with which, in the days of his prosperity, he was accused of menacing his rival was inflicted on Attalus himself: he was condemned, after the amputation of two fingers, to a perpetual exile in the isle of Lipari, where he was supplied with the decent necessaries of life. The remainder of the reign of Honorius was undisturbed by rebellion; and it may be observed that, in the space of five years, seven usurpers had yielded to the fortunes of a prince, who was himself incapable either of counsel or of action.

The situation of Spain, separated, on all sides, from the enemies of Rome, by the sea, by the mountains, and by intermediate provinces, had secured the long tranquillity of that remote and sequestered country; and we may observe, as a sure symptom of domestic happiness, that in a period of four hundred years Spain furnished very few materials to the history of the Roman empire. The footsteps of the Barbarians, who, in the reign of Gallienus, had penetrated beyond the Pyrenees, were soon obliterated by the return of peace; and in the fourth century of the Christian era, the cities of Emerita, or Merida, of Corduba, Seville, Bracara, and Tarragona, were numbered with the most illustrious of the Roman world. The various plenty of the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral kingdoms was improved and manufactured Edition: current; Page: [272] by the skill of an industrious people; and the peculiar advantages of naval stores contributed to support an extensive and profitable trade.160 The arts and sciences flourished under the protection of the emperors; and, if the character of the Spaniards was enfeebled by peace and servitude, the hostile approach of the Germans, who had spread terror and desolation from the Rhine to the Pyrenees, seemed to rekindle some sparks of military ardour. As long as the defence of the mountains was entrusted to the hardy and faithful militia of the country, they successfully repelled the frequent attempts of the Barbarians. But no sooner had the national troops been compelled to resign their post to the Honorian bands in the service of Constantine than the gates of Spain were treacherously betrayed to the public enemy, about ten months before the sack of Rome by the Goths.161 The consciousness of guilt and the thirst of rapine promoted the mercenary guards of the Pyrenees to desert their station; to invite the arms of the Suevi, the Vandals, and the Alani; and to swell the torrent which was poured with irresistible violence from the frontiers of Gaul to the sea of Africa. The misfortunes of Spain may be described in the language of its most eloquent historian, who has concisely expressed the passionate, and perhaps exaggerated, declamations of contemporary writers.162 “The irruption of these nations was Edition: current; Page: [273] followed by the most dreadful calamities; as the Barbarians exercised their indiscriminate cruelty on the fortunes of the Romans and the Spaniards, and ravaged with equal fury the cities and the open country. The progress of famine reduced the miserable inhabitants to feed on the flesh of their fellow-creatures; and even the wild beasts, who multiplied, without control, in the desert, were exasperated, by the taste of blood and the impatience of hunger, boldly to attack and devour their human prey. Pestilence soon appeared, the inseparable companion of famine; a large proportion of the people was swept away; and the groans of the dying excited only the envy of their surviving friends. At length the Barbarians, satiated with carnage and rapine, and afflicted by the contagious evils which they themselves had introduced, fixed their permanent seats in the depopulated country. The ancient Gallicia, whose limits included the kingdom of Old Castille, was divided between the Suevi and the Vandals; the Alani were scattered over the provinces of Carthagena and Lusitania, from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean; and the fruitful territory of Bætica was allotted to the Silingi, another branch of the Vandalic nation. After regulating this partition, the conquerors contracted with their new subjects some reciprocal engagements of protection and obedience; the lands were again cultivated; and the towns and villages were again occupied by a captive people. The greatest part of the Spaniards was even disposed to prefer this new condition of poverty and barbarism to the severe oppressions of the Roman government; yet there were many who still asserted their native freedom; and who refused, more especially in the mountains of Gallicia, to submit to the Barbarian yoke.”163

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The important present of the heads of Jovinus and Sebastian had approved the friendship of Adolphus and restored Gaul to the obedience of his brother Honorius. Peace was incompatible with the situation and temper of the king of the Goths. He readily accepted the proposal of turning his victorious arms against the Barbarians of Spain; the troops of Constantius intercepted his communication with the seaports of Gaul, and gently pressed his march towards the Pyrenees;164 he passed the mountains, and surprised, in the name of the emperor, the city of Barcelona. The fondness of Adolphus for his Roman bride was not abated by time or possession; and the birth of a son, surnamed, from his illustrious grandsire, Theodosius, appeared to fix him for ever in the interest of the republic. The loss of that infant, whose remains were deposited in a silver coffin in one of the churches near Barcelona, afflicted his parents; but the grief of the Gothic king was suspended by the labours of the field; and the course of his victories was soon interrupted by domestic treason. He had imprudently received into his service one of the followers of Sarus: a Barbarian of a daring spirit, but of a diminutive stature; whose secret desire of revenging the death of his beloved patron was continually irritated by the sarcasms of his insolent master. Adolphus was assassinated in the palace of Barcelona; the laws of the succession were violated by a tumultuous faction;165 and a stranger to the royal race, Singeric, the brother of Sarus himself, was seated on the Gothic throne. The first act of his reign was the inhuman murder of the six children of Adolphus, the issue Edition: current; Page: [275] of a former marriage, whom he tore, without pity, from the feeble arms of a venerable bishop.166 The unfortunate Placidia, instead of the respectful compassion which she might have excited in the most savage breasts, was treated with cruel and wanton insult. The daughter of the emperor Theodosius, confounded among a crowd of vulgar captives, was compelled to march on foot above twelve miles, before the horse of a Barbarian, the assassin of a husband whom Placidia loved and lamented.167

But Placidia soon obtained the pleasure of revenge; and the view of her ignominious sufferings might rouse an indignant people against the tyrant who was assassinated on the seventh day of his usurpation. After the death of Singeric, the free choice of the nation bestowed the Gothic sceptre on Wallia; whose warlike and ambitious temper appeared in the beginning of his reign extremely hostile to the republic. He marched in arms from Barcelona to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, which the ancients revered and dreaded as the boundary of the world. But, when he reached the southern promontory of Spain,168 and, from the rock now covered by the fortress of Gibraltar, contemplated the neighbouring and fertile coast of Africa, Wallia resumed the designs of conquest which had been interrupted by the death of Alaric. The winds and waves again disappointed the enterprise of the Goths, and the minds of a superstitious people were deeply affected by the repeated disasters of Edition: current; Page: [276] storms and shipwrecks. In this disposition, the successor of Adolphus no longer refused to listen to a Roman ambassador, whose proposals were enforced by the real, or supposed, approach of a numerous army under the conduct of the brave Constantius. A solemn treaty was stipulated and observed: Placidia was honourably restored to her brother; six hundred thousand measures of wheat were delivered to the hungry Goths;169 and Wallia engaged to draw his sword in the service of the empire. A bloody war was instantly excited among the Barbarians of Spain; and the contending princes are said to have addressed their letters, their ambassadors, and their hostages to the throne of the Western emperor, exhorting him to remain a tranquil spectator of their contest; the events of which must be favourable to the Romans, by the mutual slaughter of their common enemies.170 The Spanish war was obstinately supported, during three campaigns, with desperate valour and various success; and the martial achievements of Wallia diffused through the empire the superior renown of the Gothic hero. He exterminated the Silingi, who had irretrievably ruined the elegant plenty of the province of Bætica. He slew, in battle, the king of the Alani; and the remains of those Scythian wanderers who escaped from the field, instead of choosing a new leader, humbly sought a refuge under the standard of the Vandals, with whom they were ever afterwards confounded. The Vandals themselves and the Suevi yielded to the efforts of the invincible Goths. The promiscuous multitude of Barbarians, whose retreat had been intercepted, were driven into the mountains of Gallicia; where they still continued, in a narrow compass Edition: current; Page: [277] and on a barren soil, to exercise their domestic and implacable hostilities. In the pride of victory, Wallia was faithful to his engagements: he restored his Spanish conquests to the obedience of Honorius; and the tyranny of the Imperial officers soon reduced an oppressed people to regret the time of their Barbarian servitude. While the event of the war was still doubtful, the first advantages obtained by the arms of Wallia had encouraged the court of Ravenna to decree the honours of a triumph to their feeble sovereign. He entered Rome like the ancient conquerors of nations; and, if the monuments of servile corruption had not long since met with the fate which they deserved, we should probably find that a crowd of poets and orators, of magistrates and bishops, applauded the fortune, the wisdom, and the invincible courage, of the emperor Honorius.171

Such a triumph might have been justly claimed by the ally of Rome, if Wallia, before he repassed the Pyrenees, had extirpated the seeds of the Spanish war. His victorious Goths, forty-three years after they had passed the Danube, were established, according to the faith of treaties, in the possession of the second Aquitain: a maritime province between the Garonne and the Loire, under the civil and ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Bourdeaux. That metropolis, advantageously situated for the trade of the ocean, was built in a regular and elegant form; and its numerous inhabitants were distinguished among the Gauls by their wealth, their learning, and the politeness of their manners. The adjacent province, which has been fondly compared to the garden of Eden, is blessed with a fruitful soil and a temperate climate: the face of the country displayed the arts and the rewards of industry; and the Goths, after their Edition: current; Page: [278] martial toils, luxuriously exhausted the rich vineyards of Aquitain.172 The Gothic limits were enlarged by the additional gift of some neighbouring dioceses; and the successors of Alaric fixed their royal residence at Toulouse, which included five populous quarters, or cities, within the spacious circuit of its walls. About the same time, in the last years of the reign of Honorius, the Goths, the Burgundians, and the Franks obtained a permanent seat and dominion in the provinces of Gaul. The liberal grant of the usurper Jovinus to his Burgundian allies was confirmed by the lawful emperor; the lands of the First, or Upper, Germany were ceded to those formidable Barbarians; and they gradually occupied, either by conquest or treaty, the two provinces which still retain, with the titles of Duchy and of County, the national appellation of Burgundy.173 The Franks, the valiant and faithful allies of the Roman republic, were soon tempted to imitate the invaders, whom they had so bravely resisted. Treves, the capital of Gaul, was pillaged by their lawless bands; and the humble colony, which they so long maintained in the district of Toxandria, in Brabant, insensibly multiplied along the banks of the Meuse and Scheld, till their independent power filled the whole extent of the Second or Lower Germany. These facts may be sufficiently justified by historic evidence; but the foundation of the French monarchy by Pharamond, the conquests, the laws, and even the existence of that hero, have been justly arraigned by the impartial severity of modern criticism.174

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The ruin of the opulent provinces of Gaul may be dated from the establishment of these Barbarians, whose alliance was dangerous and oppressive, and who were capriciously impelled, by interest or passion, to violate the public peace. A heavy and partial ransom was imposed on the surviving provincials, who had escaped the calamities of war; the fairest and most fertile lands were assigned to the rapacious strangers, for the use of their families, their slaves, and their cattle; and the trembling natives relinquished with a sigh the inheritance of their fathers. Yet these domestic misfortunes, which are seldom the lot of a vanquished people, had been felt and inflicted by the Romans themselves, not only in the insolence of foreign conquest, but in the madness of civil discord. The Triumvirs proscribed eighteen of the most flourshing colonies of Italy; and distributed their lands and houses to the veterans who revenged the death of Cæsar and oppressed the liberty of their country. Two poets, of unequal fame, have deplored, in similar circumstances, the loss of their patrimony; but the legionaries of Augustus appeared to have surpassed, in violence and injustice, the Barbarians who invaded Gaul under the reign of Honorius. It was not without the utmost difficulty that Virgil escaped from the sword of the centurion who had usurped his farm in the neighbourhood of Mantua;175 but Paulinus of Bourdeaux Edition: current; Page: [280] received a sum of money from his Gothic purchaser, which he accepted with pleasure and surprise; and, though it was much inferior to the real value of his estate, this act of rapine was disguised by some colours of moderation and equity.176 The odious name of conquerors, was softened into the mild and friendly appellation of the guests, of the Romans; and the Barbarians of Gaul, more especially the Goths, repeatedly declared that they were bound to the people by the ties of hospitality and to the emperor by the duty of allegiance and military service. The title of Honorius and his successors, their laws, and their civil magistrates, were still respected in the provinces of Gaul of which they had resigned the possession to the Barbarian allies; and the kings, who exercised a supreme and independent authority over their native subjects, ambitiously solicited the more honourable rank of master-generals of the Imperial armies.177 Such was the involuntary reverence which the Roman name still impressed on the minds of those warriors who had borne away in triumph the spoils of the Capitol.

Whilst Italy was ravaged by the Goths and a succession of feeble tyrants oppressed the provinces beyond the Alps, the British island separated itself from the body of the Roman empire. The regular forces, which guarded that remote province, had been gradually withdrawn; and Britain was abandoned, without defence, to the Saxon pirates and the savages of Ireland and Caledonia. The Britons, reduced to this extremity, no longer relied on the tardy and doubtful aid of a declining monarch. They assembled in arms, repelled the invaders, and rejoiced in the important discovery Edition: current; Page: [281] of their own strength.178 Afflicted by similar calamities and actuated by the same spirit, the Armorican provinces (a name which comprehended the maritime countries of Gaul between the Seine and the Loire179) resolved to imitate the example of the neighbouring island. They expelled the Roman magistrates who acted under the authority of the usurper Constantine; and a free government was established among a people who had so long been subject to the arbitrary will of a master. The independence of Britain and Armorica was soon confirmed by Honorius himself, the lawful emperor of the West; and the letters, by which he committed to the new states the care of their own safety, might be interpreted as an absolute and perpetual abdication of the exercise and rights of sovereignty. This interpretation was, in some measure, justified by the event. After the usurpers of Gaul had successively fallen, the maritime provinces were restored to the empire. Yet their obedience was imperfect and precarious: the vain, inconstant, rebellious disposition of the people was incompatible either with freedom or servitude,180 and Armorica, though it could not long maintain Edition: current; Page: [282] the form of a republic,181 was agitated by frequent and destructive revolts. Britain was irrecoverably lost.182 But, as the emperors wisely acquiesced in the independence of a remote province, the separation was not embittered by the reproach of tyranny or rebellion; and the claims of allegiance and protection were succeeded by the mutual and voluntary offices of national friendship.183

This revolution dissolved the artificial fabric of civil and military government; and the independent country, during a period of forty years, till the descent of the Saxons, was ruled by the authority of the clergy, the nobles, and the municipal towns.184 I. Zosimus, who alone has preserved the memory of this singular transaction, very accurately observes that the letters of Honorius were addressed to the cities of Britain.185 Under the protection of the Romans, ninety-two considerable towns had arisen in the several parts of that great province; and, among these, thirty-three cities were distinguished above the rest by their superior privileges and importance.186 Each of these cities, as in all the other Edition: current; Page: [283] provinces of the empire, formed a legal corporation, for the purpose of regulating their domestic policy; and the powers of municipal government were distributed among annual magistrates, a select senate, and the assembly of the people, according to the original model of the Roman constitution.187 The management of a common revenue, the exercise of civil and criminal jurisdiction, and the habits of public counsel and command were inherent to these petty republics; and, when they asserted their independence, the youth of the city and of the adjacent districts would naturally range themselves under the standard of the magistrate. But the desire of obtaining the advantages, and of escaping the burdens, of political society is a perpetual and inexhaustible source of discord; nor can it reasonably be presumed that the restoration of British freedom was exempt from tumult and faction. The pre-eminence of birth and fortune must have been frequently violated by bold and popular citizens; and the haughty nobles, who complained that they were become the subjects of their own servants,188 would sometimes regret the reign of an arbitrary monarch. II. The jurisdiction of each city over the adjacent country was supported by the patrimonial influence of the principal senators; and the smaller towns, the villages, and the proprietors of land consulted their own safety by adhering to the shelter of these rising republics. The sphere of their attraction was proportioned to the respective degrees of their wealth and populousness; but the hereditary lords of ample possessions, who Edition: current; Page: [284] were not oppressed by the neighbourhood of any powerful city, aspired to the rank of independent princes, and boldly exercised the rights of peace and war. The gardens and villas, which exhibited some faint imitation of Italian elegance, would soon be converted into strong castles, the refuge, in time of danger, of the adjacent country;189 the produce of the land was applied to purchase arms and horses, to maintain a military force of slaves, of peasants, and of licentious followers; and the chieftain might assume, within his own domain, the powers of a civil magistrate. Several of these British chiefs might be the genuine posterity of ancient kings; and many more would be tempted to adopt this honourable genealogy, and to vindicate their hereditary claims, which had been suspended by the usurpation of the Cæsars.190 Their situation and their hopes would dispose them to affect the dress, the language, and the customs of their ancestors. If the princes of Britain relapsed into barbarism, while the cities studiously preserved the laws and manners of Rome, the whole island must have been gradually divided by the distinction of two national parties; again broken into a thousand subdivisions of war and faction, by the various provocations of interest and resentment. The public strength, instead of being united against a foreign enemy, was consumed in obscure and intestine quarrels; and the personal merit which had placed a successful leader at the head of his equals might enable him to subdue the freedom of some neighbouring Edition: current; Page: [285] cities, and to claim a rank among the tyrants191 who infested Britain after the dissolution of the Roman government. III. The British church might be composed of thirty or forty bishops,192 with an adequate proportion of the inferior clergy; and the want of riches (for they seem to have been poor193) would compel them to deserve the public esteem by a decent and exemplary behaviour. The interest, as well as the temper, of the clergy was favourable to the peace and union of their distracted country; those salutary lessons might be frequently inculcated in their popular discourses; and the episcopal synods were the only councils that could pretend to the weight and authority of a national assembly. In such councils, where the princes and magistrates sat promiscuously with the bishops, the important affairs of the state, as well as of the church, might be freely debated; differences reconciled, alliances formed, contributions imposed, wise resolutions often concerted, and sometimes executed; and there is reason to believe that, in moments of extreme danger, a Pendragon, or Dictator, was elected by the general consent of the Britons. These pastoral cares, so worthy of the episcopal character, were interrupted, however, by zeal and superstition; and the British clergy incessantly laboured to eradicate the Pelagian heresy, which they abhorred as the peculiar disgrace of their native country.194

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It is somewhat remarkable, or rather it is extremely natural, that the revolt of Britain and Armorica should have introduced an appearance of liberty into the obedient provinces of Gaul. In a solemn edict,195 filled with the strongest assurances of that paternal affection which princes so often express and so seldom feel, the emperor Honorius promulgated his intention of convening an annual assembly of the seven provinces: a name peculiarly appropriated to Aquitain, and the ancient Narbonnese, which had long since exchanged their Celtic rudeness for the useful and elegant arts of Italy.196 Arles, the seat of government and commerce, was appointed for the place of the assembly; which regularly continued twenty-eight days, from the fifteenth of August to the thirteenth of September, of every year. It consisted of the Prætorian prefect of the Gauls; of seven provincial governors, one consular and six presidents; of the magistrates, and perhaps the bishops, of about sixty cities; and of a competent, though indefinite, number of the most honourable and opulent possessors of land, who might justly be considered as the representatives of their country. They were empowered to interpret and communicate the laws of their sovereign; to expose the grievances and wishes of their constituents; to moderate the excessive or unequal weight of taxes; and to deliberate on every subject of local or national importance, that could tend to the restoration of the peace and prosperity of the seven provinces. If such an institution, which gave the people an interest in their own government, had been Edition: current; Page: [287] universally established by Trajan or the Antonines, the seeds of public wisdom and virtue might have been cherished and propagated in the empire of Rome. The privileges of the subject would have secured the throne of the monarch; the abuses of an arbitrary administration might have been prevented, in some degree, or corrected, by the interposition of these representative assemblies; and the country would have been defended against a foreign enemy by the arms of natives and freemen. Under the mild and generous influence of liberty, the Roman empire might have remained invincible and immortal; or, if its excessive magnitude and the instability of human affairs had opposed such perpetual continuance, its vital and constituent members might have separately preserved their vigour and independence. But in the decline of the empire, when every principle of health and life had been exhausted, the tardy application of this partial remedy was incapable of producing any important or salutary effects. The emperor Honorius expresses his surprise that he must compel the reluctant provinces to accept a privilege which they should ardently have solicited. A fine of three or even five pounds of gold was imposed on the absent representatives; who seem to have declined this imaginary gift of a free constitution, as the last and most cruel insult of their oppressors.197

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Arcadius Emperor of the East — Administration and Disgrace of Eutropius — Revolt of Gainas — Persecution of St. John Chrysostom — Theodosius II. Emperor of the East — His Sister Pulcheria — His Wife Eudocia — The Persian War, and Division of Armenia

The division of the Roman world between the sons of Theodosius marks the final establishment of the empire of the East, which, from the reign of Arcadius to the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, subsisted one thousand and fifty-eight years, in a state of premature and perpetual decay. The sovereign of that empire assumed, and obstinately retained, the vain, and at length fictitious, title of Emperor of the Romans; and the hereditary appellations of Cæsar and Augustus continued to declare that he was the legitimate successor of the first of men, who had reigned over the first of nations. The palace of Constantinople rivalled, and perhaps excelled, the magnificence of Persia; and the eloquent sermons of St. Chrysostom1 celebrate, while they condemn, the pompous luxury of the reign of Arcadius. “The emperor,” says he, “wears on his head either a diadem or a crown of gold, decorated with precious stones of inestimable Edition: current; Page: [289] value. These ornaments and his purple garments are reserved for his sacred person alone; and his robes of silk are embroidered with the figures of golden dragons. His throne is of massy gold. Whenever he appears in public, he is surrounded by his courtiers, his guards, and his attendants. Their spears, their shields, their cuirasses, the bridles and trappings of their horses, have either the substance or the appearance of gold; and the large splendid boss in the midst of their shield is encircled with smaller bosses, which represent the shape of the human eye. The two mules that draw the chariot of the monarch are perfectly white, and shining all over with gold. The chariot itself, of pure and solid gold, attracts the admiration of the spectators, who contemplate the purple curtains, the snowy carpet, the size of the precious stones, and the resplendent plates of gold, that glitter as they are agitated by the motion of the carriage. The Imperial pictures are white on a blue ground; the emperor appears seated on his throne, with his arms, his horses, and his guards beside him; and his vanquished enemies in chains at his feet.” The successors of Constantine established their perpetual residence in the royal city which he had erected on the verge of Europe and Asia. Inaccessible to the menaces of their enemies, and perhaps to the complaints of their people, they received, with each wind, the tributary productions of every climate; while the impregnable strength of their capital continued for ages to defy the hostile attempts of the Barbarians. Their dominions were bounded by the Hadriatic and Tigris; and the whole interval of twenty-five days’ navigation, which separated the extreme cold of Scythia from the torrid zone of Ethiopia,2 Edition: current; Page: [290] was comprehended within the limits of the empire of the East. The populous countries of that empire were the seat of art and learning, of luxury and wealth; and the inhabitants, who had assumed the language and manners of Greeks, styled themselves, with some appearance of truth, the most enlightened and civilised portion of the human species. The form of government was a pure and simple monarchy; the name of the Roman Republic, which so long preserved a faint tradition of freedom, was confined to the Latin provinces; and the princes of Constantinople measured their greatness by the servile obedience of their people. They were ignorant how much this passive disposition enervates and degrades every faculty of the mind. The subjects, who had resigned their will to the absolute commands of a master, were equally incapable of guarding their lives and fortunes against the assaults of the Barbarians or of defending their reason from the terrors of superstition.

The first events of the reign of Arcadius and Honorius are so intimately connected that the rebellion of the Goths and the fall of Rufinus have already claimed a place in the history of the West. It has already been observed that Eutropius,3 one of the principal eunuchs of the palace of Constantinople, succeeded the haughty minister whose ruin he had accomplished, and whose vices he soon imitated. Every order of the state bowed to the new favourite; and their tame and obsequious submission encouraged him to insult the laws, and, what is still more difficult and dangerous, the manners, of Edition: current; Page: [291] his country. Under the weakest of the predecessors of Arcadius, the reign of the eunuchs had been secret and almost invisible. They insinuated themselves into the confidence of the prince; but their ostensible functions were confined to the menial service of the wardrobe and Imperial bed-chamber. They might direct, in a whisper, the public counsels, and blast, by their malicious suggestions, the fame and fortunes of the most illustrious citizens; but they never presumed to stand forward in the front of empire,4 or to profane the public honours of the state. Eutropius was the first of his artificial sex, who dared to assume the character of a Roman magistrate and general.5 Sometimes in the presence of the blushing senate he ascended the tribunal, to pronounce judgment or to repeat elaborate harangues; and sometimes appeared on horseback, at the head of his troops, in the dress and armour of a hero. The disregard of custom and decency always betrays a weak and ill-regulated mind; nor does Eutropius seem to have compensated for the folly of the design by any superior merit or ability in the execution. His former habits of life had not introduced him to the study of the laws or the exercises of the field; his awkward and unsuccessful attempts provoked the secret contempt of the spectators; the Goths Edition: current; Page: [292] expressed their wish that such a general might always command the armies of Rome; and the name of the minister was branded with ridicule, more pernicious perhaps than hatred to a republic character. The subjects of Arcadius were exasperated by the recollection that this deformed and decrepid eunuch,6 who so perversely mimicked the actions of a man, was born in the most abject condition of servitude; that, before he entered the Imperial palace, he had been successively sold and purchased by an hundred masters, who had exhausted his youthful strength in every mean and infamous office, and at length dismissed him, in his old age, to freedom and poverty.7 While these disgraceful stories were circulated, and perhaps exaggerated, in private conversations, the vanity of the favourite was flattered with the most extraordinary honours. In the senate, in the capital, in the provinces, the statues of Eutropius were erected in brass or marble, decorated with the symbols of his civil and military virtues, and inscribed with the pompous title of the third founder of Constantinople. He was promoted to the rank of patrician, which began to signify, in a popular and even legal acceptation, the father of the emperor; and the last year of the fourth century was polluted by the consulship of an eunuch and a slave. This strange and inexpiable Edition: current; Page: [293] prodigy8 awakened, however, the prejudices of the Romans. The effeminate consul was rejected by the West, as an indelible stain to the annals of the republic; and, without invoking the shades of Brutus and Camillus, the colleague of Eutropius, a learned and respectable magistrate,9 sufficiently represented the different maxims of the two administrations.

The bold and vigorous mind of Rufinus seems to have been actuated by a more sanguinary and revengeful spirit; but the avarice of the eunuch was not less insatiate than that of the prefect.10 As long as he despoiled the oppressors who had enriched themselves with the plunder of the people, Eutropius might gratify his covetous disposition without much envy or injustice; but the progress of his rapine soon invaded the wealth which had been acquired by lawful inheritance or laudable industry. The usual methods of extortion were practised and improved; and Claudian has sketched a lively and original picture of the public auction of the state. “The impotence of the eunuch” (says that agreeable satirist) “has served only to stimulate his avarice: the same hand which, in his servile condition, was exercised in petty thefts, to unlock the coffers of his master, now grasps the riches of the world; and this infamous broker of the empire appreciates and divides the Roman provinces, from Mount Hæmus to the Tigris. One man, at the expense of his villa, is made proconsul Edition: current; Page: [294] of Asia; a second purchases Syria with his wife’s jewels; and a third laments that he has exchanged his paternal estate for the government of Bithynia. In the ante-chamber of Eutropius, a large tablet is exposed to public view, which marks the respective prices of the provinces. The different value of Pontus, of Galatia, of Lydia, is accurately distinguished. Lycia may be obtained for so many thousand pieces of gold; but the opulence of Phrygia will require a more considerable sum. The eunuch wishes to obliterate, by the general disgrace, his personal ignominy; and, as he has been sold himself, he is desirous of selling the rest of mankind. In the eager contention, the balance, which contains the fate and fortunes of the province, often trembles on the beam; and, till one of the scales is inclined, by a superior weight, the mind of the impartial judge remains in anxious suspense.11 Such” (continues the indignant poet) “are the fruits of Roman valour, of the defeat of Antiochus, and of the triumph of Pompey.” This venal prostitution of public honours secured the impunity of future crimes; but the riches which Eutropius derived from confiscation were already stained with injustice; since it was decent to accuse, and to condemn, the proprietors of the wealth which he was impatient to confiscate. Some noble blood was shed by the hand of the executioner; and the most inhospitable extremities of the empire were filled with innocent and illustrious exiles. Among the generals and consuls of the East, Abundantius12 had Edition: current; Page: [295] reason to dread the first effects of the resentment of Eutropius. He had been guilty of the unpardonable crime of introducing that abject slave to the palace of Constantinople; and some degree of praise must be allowed to a powerful and ungrateful favourite, who was satisfied with the disgrace of his benefactor. Abundantius was stripped of his ample fortunes by an Imperial rescript, and banished to Pityus on the Euxine, the last frontier of the Roman world; where he subsisted by the precarious mercy of the Barbarians, till he could obtain, after the fall of Eutropius, a milder exile at Sidon in Phœnicia. The destruction of Timasius13 required a more serious and regular mode of attack. That great officer, the master-general of the armies of Theodosius, had signalised his valour by a decisive victory, which he obtained over the Goths of Thessaly; but he was too prone, after the example of his sovereign, to enjoy the luxury of peace, and to abandon his confidence to wicked and designing flatterers. Timasius had despised the public clamour, by promoting an infamous dependent to the command of a cohort; and he deserved to feel the ingratitude of Bargus, who was secretly instigated by the favourite to accuse his patron of a treasonable conspiracy. The general was arraigned before the tribunal of Arcadius himself; and the principal ennuch stood by the side of the throne, to suggest the questions and answers of his sovereign. But, as this form of trial might be deemed partial and arbitrary, the farther inquiry into the crimes of Timasius was delegated to Saturninus and Procopius: the former of consular rank, the latter still respected as the father-in-law of the emperor Valens. The appearances of a fair and legal proceeding were maintained by the blunt honesty of Procopius; and he Edition: current; Page: [296] yielded with reluctance to the obsequious dexterity of his colleague, who pronounced a sentence of condemnation against the unfortunate Timasius. His immense riches were confiscated, in the name of the emperor, and for the benefit of the favourite; and he was doomed to perpetual exile at Oasis, a solitary spot in the midst of the sandy deserts of Libya.14 Secluded from all human converse, the master-general of the Roman armies was lost for ever to the world; but the circumstances of his fate have been related in a various and contradictory manner. It is insinuated that Eutropius despatched a private order for his secret execution.15 It was reported that, in attempting to escape from Oasis, he perished in the desert, of thirst and hunger; and that his dead body was found on the sands of Libya.16 It has been asserted with more confidence that his son Syagrius, after successfully eluding the pursuit of the agents and emissaries of the court, collected a band of African robbers; that he rescued Timasius from the place of his exile; and that both the father and son disappeared from the knowledge of mankind.17 But the ungrateful Bargus, instead of being suffered to possess the reward of guilt, was soon afterwards circumvented and destroyed by the more powerful villany of the minister himself; who retained sense and spirit enough to abhor the instrument of his own crimes.

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The public hatred and the despair of individuals continually threatened, or seemed to threaten, the personal safety of Eutropius; as well as of the numerous adherents who were attached to his fortune and had been promoted by his venal favour. For their mutual defence, he contrived the safeguard of a law, which violated every principle of humanity and justice.18 I. It is enacted, in the name and by the authority of Arcadius, that all those who shall conspire, either with subjects or with strangers, against the lives of any of the persons whom the emperor considers as the members of his own body, shall be punished with death and confiscation. This species of fictitious and metaphorical treason is extended to protect, not only the illustrious officers of the state and army, who are admitted into the sacred consistory, but likewise the principal domestics of the palace, the senators of Constantinople, the military commanders, and the civil magistrates of the provinces: a vague and indefinite list, which, under the successors of Constantine, included an obscure and numerous train of subordinate ministers. II. This extreme severity might perhaps be justified, had it been only directed to secure the representatives of the sovereign from any actual violence in the execution of their office. But the whole body of Imperial dependents claimed a privilege, or rather impunity, which screened them, in the loosest moments of their lives, from the hasty, perhaps the justifiable, resentment of their fellow-citizens; and, by a strange perversion of the laws, the same degree of guilt and punishment was applied to a private quarrel and to a deliberate conspiracy against the emperor and the empire. The edict of Arcadius most positively and Edition: current; Page: [298] most absurdly declares that in such cases of treason thoughts and actions ought to be punished with equal severity; that the knowledge of a mischievous intention, unless it be instantly revealed, becomes equally criminal with the intention itself;19 and that those rash men who shall presume to solicit the pardon of traitors shall themselves be branded with public and perpetual infamy. III. “With regard to the sons of the traitors” (continues the emperor), “although they ought to share the punishment, since they will probably imitate the guilt, of their parents, yet, by the special effect of our Imperial lenity, we grant them their lives; but, at the same time, we declare them incapable of inheriting, either on the father’s or on the mother’s side, or of receiving any gift or legacy from the testament either of kinsmen or of strangers. Stigmatised with hereditary infamy, excluded from the hopes of honours or fortune, let them endure the pangs of poverty and contempt, till they shall consider life as a calamity, and death as a comfort and relief.” In such words, so well adapted to insult the feelings of mankind, did the emperor, or rather his favourite eunuch, applaud the moderation of a law which transferred the same unjust and inhuman penalties to the children of all those who had seconded, or who had not disclosed, these fictitious conspiracies. Some of the noblest regulations of Roman jurisprudence have been suffered to expire; but this edict, a convenient and forcible engine of ministerial tyranny, was carefully inserted in the codes of Theodosius and Justinian; and the same maxims have been revived in modern ages, to protect the electors of Germany and the cardinals of the church of Rome.20

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Yet these sanguinary laws, which spread terror among a disarmed and dispirited people, were of too weak a texture to restrain the bold enterprise of Tribigild21 the Ostrogoth. The colony of that warlike nation, which had been planted by Theodosius in one of the most fertile districts of Phrygia,22 impatiently compared the slow returns of laborious husbandry with the successful rapine and liberal rewards of Alaric; and their leader resented, as a personal affront, his own ungracious reception in the palace of Constantinople. A soft and wealthy province, in the heart of the empire, was astonished by the sound of war; and the faithful vassal, who had been disregarded or oppressed, was again respected, as soon as he resumed the hostile character of a Barbarian. The vineyards and fruitful fields, between the rapid Marsyas and the winding Mæander,23 were consumed with fire; the decayed walls of the city crumbled into dust, at the first stroke of an enemy; the trembling inhabitants escaped from a bloody massacre to the shores of the Hellespont; and a considerable part of Asia Minor was desolated by the rebellion of Tribigild. His rapid progress was checked by the resistance of the peasants of Pamphylia; and the Ostrogoths, attacked in a narrow Edition: current; Page: [300] pass, between the city of Selgæ,24 a deep morass, and the craggy cliffs of Mount Taurus, were defeated with the loss of their bravest troops. But the spirit of their chief was not daunted by misfortune; and his army was continually recruited by swarms of Barbarians and outlaws, who were desirous of exercising the profession of robbery, under the more honourable names of war and conquest. The rumours of the success of Tribigild might for some time be suppressed by fear or disguised by flattery; yet they gradually alarmed both the court and the capital. Every misfortune was exaggerated in dark and doubtful hints; and the future designs of the rebels became the subject of anxious conjecture. Whenever Tribigild advanced into the inland country, the Romans were inclined to suppose that he meditated the passage of Mount Taurus and the invasion of Syria. If he descended towards the sea, they imputed, and perhaps suggested, to the Gothic chief the more dangerous project of arming a fleet in the harbours of Ionia, and of extending his depredations along the maritime coast, from the mouth of the Nile to the port of Constantinople. The approach of danger, and the obstinacy of Tribigild, who refused all terms of accommodation, compelled Eutropius to summon a council of war.25 After claiming for himself the privilege of a veteran soldier, the eunuch entrusted the guard of Thrace and the Hellespont to Gainas the Goth; and the command of the Asiatic army to his favourite Leo: two generals who differently, but effectually, promoted the cause of the rebels. Leo,26 Edition: current; Page: [301] who, from the bulk of his body and the dulness of his mind, was surnamed the Ajax of the East, had deserted his original trade of a wool comber, to exercise, with much less skill and success, the military profession; and his uncertain operations were capriciously framed and executed, with an ignorance of real difficulties and a timorous neglect of every favourable opportunity. The rashness of the Ostrogoths had drawn them into a disadvantageous position between the rivers Melas and Eurymedon, where they were almost besieged by the peasants of Pamphylia; but the arrival of an Imperial army, instead of completing their destruction, afforded the means of safety and victory. Tribigild surprised the unguarded camp of the Romans, in the darkness of the night; seduced the faith of the greater part of the Barbarian auxiliaries; and dissipated, without much effort, the troops which had been corrupted by the relaxation of discipline and the luxury of the capital. The discontent of Gainas, who had so boldly contrived and executed the death of Rufinus, was irritated by the fortune of his unworthy successor; he accused his own dishonourable patience under the servile reign of an eunuch; and the ambitious Goth was convicted, at least in the public opinion, of secretly fomenting the revolt of Tribigild, with whom he was connected by a domestic, as well as by a national, alliance.27 When Gainas passed the Hellespont, to unite under his standard the remains of the Asiatic troops, he skilfully adapted his motions to the wishes of the Ostrogoths; abandoning, by his retreat, the country which they desired to invade; or facilitating, by his approach, the desertion of the Barbarian auxiliaries. To the Imperial court he repeatedly magnified the valour, the genius, the inexhaustible resources of Tribigild; confessed his own inability to prosecute the war; and extorted the permission of negotiating with his invincible Edition: current; Page: [302] adversary. The conditions of peace were dictated by the haughty rebel; and the peremptory demand of the head of Eutropius revealed the author and the design of this hostile conspiracy.

The bold satirist, who has indulged his discontent by the partial and passionate censure of the Christian emperors, violates the dignity rather than the truth of history, by comparing the son of Theodosius to one of those harmless and simple animals who scarcely feel that they are the property of their shepherd. Two passions, however, fear and conjugal affection, awakened the languid soul of Arcadius: he was terrified by the threats of a victorious Barbarian; and he yielded to the tender eloquence of his wife Eudoxia, who, with a flood of artificial tears, presenting her infant children to their father, implored his justice for some real or imaginary insult which she imputed to the audacious eunuch.28 The emperor’s hand was directed to sign the condemnation of Eutropius; the magic spell, which during four years had bound the prince and the people, was instantly dissolved; and the acclamations that so lately hailed the merit and fortune of the favourite were converted into the clamours of the soldiers and the people, who reproached his crimes and pressed his immediate execution. In this hour of distress and despair his only refuge was in the sanctuary of the church, whose privileges he had wisely, or profanely, attempted to circumscribe; and the most eloquent of the saints, John Chrysostom, enjoyed the triumph of protecting a prostrate minister, whose choice had raised him to the ecclesiastical throne of Constantinople. The archbishop, ascending the pulpit of the cathedral, that he might be distinctly seen and heard by an innumerable crowd of either sex and of every age, pronounced a seasonable and pathetic discourse on the forgiveness of injuries and the instability Edition: current; Page: [303] of human greatness. The agonies of the pale and affrighted wretch, who lay grovelling under the table of the altar, exhibited a solemn and instructive spectacle; and the orator, who was afterwards accused of insulting the misfortunes of Eutropius, laboured to excite the contempt, that he might assuage the fury, of the people.29 The powers of humanity, of superstition, and of eloquence prevailed. The empress Eudoxia was restrained, by her own prejudices, or by those of her subjects, from violating the sanctuary of the church; and Eutropius was tempted to capitulate, by the milder arts of persuasion, and by an oath that his life should be spared.30 Careless of the dignity of their sovereign, the new ministers of the palace immediately published an edict, to declare that his late favourite had disgraced the names of consul and patrician, to abolish his statues, to confiscate his wealth, and to inflict a perpetual exile in the island of Cyprus.31 A despicable and decrepid eunuch could no longer alarm the fears of his enemies; nor was he capable of enjoying what yet remained, the comforts of peace, of solitude, and of a happy Edition: current; Page: [304] climate. But their implacable revenge still envied him the last moments of a miserable life, and Eutropius had no sooner touched the shores of Cyprus than he was hastily recalled. The vain hope of eluding, by a change of place, the obligation of an oath engaged the empress to transfer the scene of his trial and execution from Constantinople to the adjacent suburb of Chalcedon. The consul Aurelian pronounced the sentence; and the motives of that sentence expose the jurisprudence of a despotic government. The crimes which Eutropius had committed against the people might have justified his death; but he was found guilty of harnessing to his chariot the sacred animals, who, from their breed or colour, were reserved for the use of the emperor alone.32

While this domestic revolution was transacted, Gainas33 openly revolted from his allegiance; united his forces, at Thyatira in Lydia, with those of Tribigild; and still maintained his superior ascendant over the rebellious leader of the Ostrogoths. The confederate armies advanced, without resistance, to the straits of the Hellespont and the Bosphorus; and Arcadius was instructed to prevent the loss of his Asiatic dominions by resigning his authority and his person to the faith of the Barbarians. The church of the holy martyr Euphemia, situate on a lofty eminence near Chalcedon,34 was chosen for the place of the interview. Gainas bowed, with reverence, at the feet of the emperor, Edition: current; Page: [305] whilst he required the sacrifice of Aurelian and Saturninus, two ministers of consular rank; and their naked necks were exposed, by the haughty rebel, to the edge of the sword, till he condescended to grant them a precarious and disgraceful respite. The Goths, according to the terms of the agreement, were immediately transported from Asia into Europe; and their victorious chief, who accepted the title of master-general of the Roman armies, soon filled Constantinople with his troops, and distributed among his dependents the honours and rewards of the empire. In his early youth, Gainas had passed the Danube as a suppliant and a fugitive; his elevation had been the work of valour and fortune; and his indiscreet, or perfidious, conduct was the cause of his rapid downfall. Notwithstanding the vigorous opposition of the archbishop, he importunately claimed, for his Arian sectaries, the possession of a peculiar church; and the pride of the catholics was offended by the public toleration of heresy.35 Every quarter of Constantinople was filled with tumult and disorder; and the Barbarians gazed with such ardour on the rich shops of the jewellers, and the tables of the bankers, which were covered with gold and silver, that it was judged prudent to remove those dangerous temptations from their sight. They resented the injurious precaution; and some alarming attempts were made, during the night, to attack and destroy with fire the Imperial palace.36 In this state of mutual and suspicious hostility, the guards and the people of Constantinople shut the gates, and rose in arms to prevent, or to punish, the conspiracy of the Goths. During the absence of Gainas, his troops were surprised and oppressed; Edition: current; Page: [306] seven thousand Barbarians perished in this bloody massacre. In the fury of the pursuit, the catholics uncovered the roof, and continued to throw down flaming logs of wood, till they overwhelmed their adversaries, who had retreated to the church or conventicle of the Arians. Gainas was either innocent of the design or too confident of his success; he was astonished by the intelligence that the flower of his army had been ingloriously destroyed; that he himself was declared a public enemy; and that his countryman, Fravitta, a brave and loyal confederate, had assumed the management of the war by sea and land. The enterprises of the rebel against the cities of Thrace were encountered by a firm and well-ordered defence; his hungry soldiers were soon reduced to the grass that grew on the margin of the fortifications; and Gainas, who vainly regretted the wealth and luxury of Asia, embraced a desperate resolution of forcing the passage of the Hellespont. He was destitute of vessels; but the woods of the Chersonesus afforded materials for rafts, and his intrepid Barbarians did not refuse to trust themselves to the waves. But Fravitta attentively watched the progress of their undertaking. As soon as they had gained the middle of the stream, the Roman galleys,37 impelled by the full force of oars, of the current, and of the favourable wind, rushed forwards in compact order and with irresistible weight; and the Hellespont was covered with the fragments of the Gothic shipwreck. After the destruction of his hopes, and the loss of many thousands of his bravest soldiers, Gainas, who could no longer aspire to govern, or to subdue, the Romans, determined Edition: current; Page: [307] to resume the independence of a savage life. A light and active body of Barbarian horse, disengaged from their infantry and baggage, might perform, in eight or ten days, a march of three hundred miles from the Hellespont to the Danube;38 the garrisons of that important frontier had been gradually annihilated; the river, in the month of December, would be deeply frozen; and the unbounded prospect of Scythia was opened to the ambition of Gainas. This design was secretly communicated to the national troops, who devoted themselves to the fortunes of their leader; and, before the signal of departure was given, a great number of provincial auxiliaries, whom he suspected of an attachment to their native country, were perfidiously massacred. The Goths advanced, by rapid marches, through the plains of Thrace; and they were soon delivered from the fear of a pursuit by the vanity of Fravitta, who, instead of extinguishing the war, hastened to enjoy the popular applause and to assume the peaceful honours of the consulship. But a formidable ally appeared in arms to vindicate the majesty of the empire and to guard the peace and liberty of Scythia.39 The superior forces of Uldin, king of the Huns, opposed the progress of Gainas; an hostile and ruined country prohibited his retreat; he disdained to capitulate; and, after repeatedly attempting to cut his way through the ranks of Edition: current; Page: [308] the enemy, he was slain, with his desperate followers, in the field of battle. Eleven days after the naval victory of the Hellespont, the head of Gainas, the inestimable gift of the conqueror, was received at Constantinople with the most liberal expressions of gratitude, and the public deliverance was celebrated by festivals and illuminations. The triumphs of Arcadius became the subject of epic poems;40 and the monarch, no longer oppressed by any hostile terrors, resigned himself to the mild and absolute dominion of his wife, the fair and artful Eudoxia; who has sullied her fame by the persecution of St. John Chrysostom.

After the death of the indolent Nectarius, the successor of Gregory Nazianzen, the church of Constantinople was distracted by the ambition of rival candidates, who were not ashamed to solicit, with gold or flattery, the suffrage of the people, or of the favourite. On this occasion, Eutropius seems to have deviated from his ordinary maxims; and his uncorrupted judgment was determined only by the superior merit of a stranger. In a late journey into the East, he had admired the sermons of John, a native and presbyter of Antioch, whose name has been distinguished by the epithet of Chrysostom, or the Golden Mouth.41 A private order Edition: current; Page: [309] was despatched to the governor of Syria; and, as the people might be unwilling to resign their favourite preacher, he was transported with speed and secrecy, in a post-chariot, from Antioch to Constantinople. The unanimous and unsolicited consent of the court, the clergy, and the people ratified the choice of the minister; and, both as a saint and as an orator, the new archbishop surpassed the sanguine expectations of the public. Born of a noble and opulent family, in the capital of Syria, Chrysostom had been educated by the care of a tender mother, under the tuition of the most skilful masters. He studied the art of rhetoric in the school of Libanius; and that celebrated sophist, who soon discovered the talents of his disciple, ingenuously confessed that John would have deserved to succeed him, had he not been stolen away by the Christians. His piety soon disposed him to receive the sacrament of baptism; to renounce the lucrative and honourable profession of the law; and to bury himself in the adjacent desert, where he subdued the lusts of the flesh by an austere penance of six years. His infirmities compelled him to return to the society of mankind; and the authority of Meletius devoted his talents to the service of the church; but in the midst of his family, and afterwards on the archiepiscopal throne, Chrysostom still persevered in the practice of the monastic virtues. The ample revenues, which his predecessors had consumed in pomp and luxury, he diligently applied to the establishment of hospitals; and the multitudes, who were supported by his charity, preferred the eloquent and edifying discourses of their archbishop to the amusements of the theatre or the circus. The monuments of that eloquence, which was admired near twenty years at Antioch and Constantinople, have been carefully Edition: current; Page: [310] preserved, and the possession of near one thousand sermons, or homilies, has authorised the critics42 of succeeding times to appreciate the genuine merit of Chrysostom. They unanimously attribute to the Christian orator the free command of an elegant and copious language; the judgment to conceal the advantages which he derived from the knowledge of rhetoric and philosophy; an inexhaustible fund of metaphors and similitudes, of ideas and images, to vary and illustrate the most familiar topics; the happy art of engaging the passions in the service of virtue; and of exposing the folly as well as the turpitude of vice, almost with the truth and spirit of a dramatic representation.

The pastoral labours of the archbishop of Constantinople provoked, and gradually united against him, two sorts of enemies: the aspiring clergy, who envied his success, and the obstinate sinners, who were offended by his reproofs. When Chrysostom thundered, from the pulpit of St. Sophia, against the degeneracy of the Christians, his shafts were spent among the crowd, without wounding, or even marking, the character of any individual. When he declaimed against the peculiar vices of the rich, poverty might obtain a transient consolation from his invectives; but the guilty were still sheltered by their numbers, and the reproach itself was dignified by some ideas of superiority and enjoyment. But, as the pyramid rose towards the summit, it insensibly diminished to a point; and the magistrates, the ministers, the favourite eunuchs, the ladies of the court,43 the empress Edition: current; Page: [311] Eudoxia herself, had a much larger share of guilt to divide among a smaller proportion of criminals. The personal applications of the audience were anticipated, or confirmed, by the testimony of their own conscience; and the intrepid preacher assumed the dangerous right of exposing both the offence and the offender to the public abhorrence. The secret resentment of the court encouraged the discontent of the clergy and monks of Constantinople, who were too hastily reformed by the fervent zeal of their archbishop. He had condemned, from the pulpit, the domestic females of the clergy of Constantinople, who, under the name of servants or sisters, afforded a perpetual occasion either of sin or of scandal. The silent and solitary ascetics who had secluded themselves from the world were intitled to the warmest approbation of Chrysostom; but he despised and stigmatised, as the disgrace of their holy profession, the crowd of degenerate monks, who, from some unworthy motives of pleasure or profit, so frequently infested the streets of the capital. To the voice of persuasion the archbishop was obliged to add the terrors of authority; and his ardour, in the exercise of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, was not always exempt from passion; nor was it always guided by prudence. Chrysostom was naturally of a choleric disposition.44 Although he struggled, according to the precepts of the gospel, to love his private enemies, he indulged himself in the privilege of hating the enemies of God and of the church; and his sentiments were sometimes delivered with too much energy of countenance and expression. He still maintained, from Edition: current; Page: [312] some considerations of health or abstinence, his former habits of taking his repasts alone; and this inhospitable custom,45 which his enemies imputed to pride, contributed, at least, to nourish the infirmity of a morose and unsocial humour. Separated from that familiar intercourse which facilitates the knowledge and the despatch of business, he reposed an unsuspecting confidence in his deacon Serapion; and seldom applied his speculative knowledge of human nature to the particular characters either of his dependents or of his equals. Conscious of the purity of his intentions, and perhaps of the superiority of his genius, the archbishop of Constantinople extended the jurisdiction of the Imperial city that he might enlarge the sphere of his pastoral labours; and the conduct which the profane imputed to an ambitious motive appeared to Chrysostom himself in the light of a sacred and indispensable duty. In his visitation through the Asiatic provinces, he deposed thirteen bishops of Lydia and Phrygia; and indiscreetly declared that a deep corruption of simony and licentiousness had infected the whole episcopal order.46 If those bishops were innocent, such a rash and unjust condemnation must excite a well-grounded discontent. If they were guilty, the numerous associates of their guilt would soon discover that their own safety depended on the ruin of the archbishop; whom they studied to represent as the tyrant of the Eastern church.

This ecclesiastical conspiracy was managed by Theophilus,47 archbishop of Alexandria, an active and ambitious Edition: current; Page: [313] prelate, who displayed the fruits of rapine in monuments of ostentation. His national dislike to the rising greatness of a city which degraded him from the second to the third rank in the Christian world was exasperated by some personal disputes with Chrysostom himself.48 By the private invitation of the empress, Theophilus landed at Constantinople, with a stout body of Egyptian mariners, to encounter the populace; and a train of attendant bishops, to secure, by their voices, the majority of a synod. The synod49 was convened in the suburb of Chalcedon, surnamed the Oak, where Rufinus had erected a stately church and monastery, and their proceedings were continued during fourteen days, or sessions. A bishop and a deacon accused the archbishop of Constantinople; but the frivolous or improbable nature of the forty-seven articles which they presented against him may justly be considered as a fair and unexceptionable panegyric. Four successive summons were signified to Chrysostom, but he still refused to trust either his person or his reputation in the hands of his implacable enemies, who, prudently declining the examination of any particular charges, condemned his contumacious disobedience, and hastily pronounced a sentence of deposition. The synod of the Oak immediately addressed the emperor to ratify and execute their judgment, and charitably insinuated that the penalties of treason might be inflicted on the audacious preacher who had reviled, under the name of Jezebel, the empress Eudoxia herself. The Edition: current; Page: [314] archbishop was rudely arrested, and conducted through the city, by one of the Imperial messengers, who landed him, after a short navigation, near the entrance of the Euxine; from whence, before the expiration of two days, he was gloriously recalled.

The first astonishment of his faithful people had been mute and passive; they suddenly rose with unanimous and irresistible fury. Theophilus escaped; but the promiscuous crowd of monks and Egyptian mariners were slaughtered without pity in the streets of Constantinople.50 A seasonable earthquake justified the interposition of heaven; the torrent of sedition rolled forwards to the gates of the palace; and the empress, agitated by fear or remorse, threw herself at the feet of Arcadius, and confessed that the public safety could be purchased only by the restoration of Chrysostom. The Bosphorus was covered with innumerable vessels; the shores of Europe and Asia were profusely illuminated; and the acclamations of a victorious people accompanied, from the port to the cathedral, the triumph of the archbishop; who, too easily, consented to resume the exercise of his functions, before his sentence had been legally reversed by the authority of an ecclesiastical synod. Ignorant or careless of the impending danger, Chrysostom indulged his zeal, or perhaps his resentment; declaimed with peculiar asperity against female vices; and condemned the profane honours which were addressed almost in the precincts of St. Sophia, to the statue of the empress. His imprudence tempted his enemies to inflame the haughty spirit of Eudoxia by reporting, or perhaps inventing, the famous exordium of a sermon: Edition: current; Page: [315] “Herodias is again furious; Herodias again dances; she once more requires the head of John:” an insolent allusion, which, as a woman and a sovereign, it was impossible for her to forgive.51 The short interval of a perfidious truce was employed to concert more effectual measures for the disgrace and ruin of the archbishop. A numerous council of the Eastern prelates, who were guided from a distance by the advice of Theophilus, confirmed the validity, without examining the justice, of the former sentence; and a detachment of Barbarian troops was introduced into the city, to suppress the emotions of the people. On the vigil of Easter, the solemn administration of baptism was rudely interrupted by the soldiers, who alarmed the modesty of the naked catechumens, and violated, by their presence, the awful mysteries of the Christian worship. Arsacius occupied the church of St. Sophia and the archiepiscopal throne. The catholics retreated to the baths of Constantine, and afterwards to the fields; where they were still pursued and insulted by the guards, the bishops, and the magistrates. The fatal day of the second and final exile of Chrysostom was marked by the conflagration of the cathedral, of the senate house, and of the adjacent buildings; and this calamity was imputed, without proof but not without probability, to the despair of a persecuted faction.52

Cicero might claim some merit, if his voluntary banishment preserved the peace of the republic;53 but the submission of Chrysostom was the indispensable duty of a Christian and a subject. Instead of listening to his humble prayer that he Edition: current; Page: [316] might be permitted to reside at Cyzicus or Nicomedia, the inflexible empress assigned for his exile the remote and desolate town of Cucusus, among the ridges of Mount Taurus, in the Lesser Armenia. A secret hope was entertained that the archbishop might perish in a difficult and dangerous march of seventy days in the heat of summer through the provinces of Asia Minor, where he was continually threatened by the hostile attacks of the Isaurians and the more implacable fury of the monks. Yet Chrysostom arrived in safety at the place of his confinement; and the three years which he spent at Cucusus and the neighbouring town of Arabissus were the last and most glorious of his life. His character was consecrated by absence and persecution; the faults of his administration were no longer remembered; but every tongue repeated the praises of his genius and virtue, and the respectful attention of the Christian world was fixed on a desert spot among the mountains of Taurus. From that solitude the archbishop, whose active mind was invigorated by misfortunes, maintained a strict and frequent correspondence54 with the most distant provinces; exhorted the separate congregation of his faithful adherents to persevere in their allegiance; urged the destruction of the temples of Phœnicia, and the extirpation of heresy in the isle of Cyprus; extended his pastoral care to the missions of Persia and Scythia; negotiated, by his ambassadors, with the Roman pontiff and the emperor Honorius; and boldly appealed, from a partial synod, to the supreme tribunal of a free and general council. The mind of the illustrious exile was still independent; but his captive body was exposed to the revenge of the oppressors, who continued to abuse the name and authority of Arcadius.55 Edition: current; Page: [317] An order was despatched for the instant removal of Chrysostom to the extreme desert of Pityus: and his guards so faithfully obeyed their cruel instructions that, before he reached the sea-coast of the Euxine, he expired at Comana, in Pontus, in the sixtieth year of his age. The succeeding generation acknowledged his innocence and merit. The archbishops of the East, who might blush that their predecessors had been the enemies of Chrysostom, were gradually disposed, by the firmness of the Roman pontiff, to restore the honours of that venerable name.56 At the pious solicitation of the clergy and people of Constantinople, his relics, thirty years after his death, were transported from their obscure sepulchre to the royal city.57 The emperor Theodosius advanced to receive them as far as Chalcedon; and, falling prostrate on the coffin, implored, in the name of his guilty parents, Arcadius and Eudoxia, the forgiveness of the injured saint.58

Yet a reasonable doubt may be entertained, whether any Edition: current; Page: [318] stain of hereditary guilt could be derived from Arcadius to his successor. Eudoxia was a young and beautiful woman, who indulged her passions and despised her husband; Count John enjoyed, at least, the familiar confidence of the empress; and the public named him as the real father of Theodosius the younger.59 The birth of a son was accepted, however, by the pious husband, as an event the most fortunate and honourable to himself, to his family, and to the eastern world; and the royal infant, by an unprecedented favour, was invested with the titles of Cæsar and Augustus. In less than four years afterwards, Eudoxia, in the bloom of youth, was destroyed by the consequences of a miscarriage; and this untimely death confounded the prophecy of a holy bishop,60 who, amidst the universal joy, had ventured to foretell that she should behold the long and auspicious reign of her glorious son. The catholics applauded the justice of heaven, which avenged the persecution of St. Chrysostom; and perhaps the emperor was the only person who sincerely bewailed the loss of the haughty and rapacious Eudoxia. Such a domestic misfortune afflicted him more deeply than the public calamities of the East;61 the licentious excursions, from Pontus to Palestine, of the Isaurian robbers, whose impunity accused the weakness of the government; and the earthquakes, the Edition: current; Page: [319] conflagrations, the famine, and the flights of locusts,62 which the popular discontent was equally disposed to attribute to the incapacity of the monarch. At length, in the thirty-first year of his age, after a reign (if we may abuse that word) of thirteen years, three months, and fifteen days, Arcadius expired in the palace of Constantinople. It is impossible to delineate his character; since, in a period very copiously furnished with historical materials, it has not been possible to remark one action that properly belongs to the son of the great Theodosius.

The historian Procopius63 has indeed illuminated the mind of the dying emperor with a ray of human prudence or celestial wisdom. Arcadius considered, with anxious foresight, the helpless condition of his son Theodosius, who was no more than seven years of age, the dangerous factions of a minority, and the aspiring spirit of Jezdegerd, the Persian monarch. Instead of tempting the allegiance of an ambitious subject by the participation of supreme power, he boldly appealed to the magnanimity of a king; and placed, by a solemn testament, the sceptre of the East in the hands of Jezdegerd himself. The royal guardian accepted and discharged this honourable trust with unexampled fidelity; and the infancy of Theodosius was protected by the arms and councils of Persia. Such is the singular narrative of Procopius; and his veracity is not disputed by Agathias,64 while he presumes to dissent from his judgment and to Edition: current; Page: [320] arraign the wisdom of a Christian emperor, who so rashly, though so fortunately, committed his son and his dominions to the unknown faith of a stranger, a rival, and a heathen. At the distance of one hundred and fifty years, this political question might be debated in the court of Justinian; but a prudent historian will refuse to examine the propriety, till he has ascertained the truth, of the testament of Arcadius. As it stands without a parallel in the history of the world, we may justly require that it should be attested by the positive and unanimous evidence of contemporaries. The strange novelty of the event, which excites our distrust, must have attracted their notice; and their universal silence annihilates the vain tradition of the succeeding age.

The maxims of Roman jurisprudence, if they could fairly be transferred from private property to public dominion, would have adjudged to the emperor Honorius the guardianship of his nephew, till he had attained, at least, the fourteenth year of his age. But the weakness of Honorius and the calamities of his reign disqualified him from prosecuting this natural claim; and such was the absolute separation of the two monarchies, both in interest and affection, that Constantinople would have obeyed with less reluctance the orders of the Persian, than those of the Italian, court. Under a prince whose weakness is disguised by the external signs of manhood and discretion the most worthless favourites may secretly dispute the empire of the palace, and dictate to submissive provinces the commands of a master whom they direct and despise. But the ministers of a child who is incapable of arming them with the sanction of the royal name must acquire and exercise an independent authority. The great officers of the state and army, who had been appointed before the death of Arcadius, formed an aristocracy, which might have inspired them with the idea of a free republic; and the government of the Eastern empire was fortunately assumed by the prefect Anthemius,65 Edition: current; Page: [321] who obtained, by his superior abilities, a lasting ascendant over the minds of his equals. The safety of the young emperor proved the merit and integrity of Anthemius; and his prudent firmness sustained the force and reputation of an infant reign. Uldin, with a formidable host of Barbarians, was encamped in the heart of Thrace: he proudly rejected all terms of accommodation; and, pointing to the rising sun, declared to the Roman ambassadors that the course of that planet should alone terminate the conquests of the Huns. But the desertion of his confederates, who were privately convinced of the justice and liberality of the Imperial ministers, obliged Uldin to repass the Danube; the tribe of the Scyrri, which composed his rear-guard, was almost extirpated; and many thousand captives were dispersed to cultivate, with servile labour, the fields of Asia.66 In the midst of the public triumph, Constantinople was protected by a strong enclosure of new and more extensive walls; the same vigilant care was applied to restore the fortifications of the Illyrian cities; and a plan was judiciously conceived, which, in the space of seven years, would have secured the command of the Danube, by establishing on that river a perpetual fleet of two hundred and fifty armed vessels.67

But the Romans had so long been accustomed to the authority of a monarch, that the first, even among the females, of the Imperial family who displayed any courage or capacity was permitted to ascend the vacant throne of Theodosius. His sister Pulcheria,68 who was only two years older than himself, Edition: current; Page: [322] received at the age of sixteen the title of Augusta; and, though her favour might be sometimes clouded by caprice or intrigue, she continued to govern the Eastern empire near forty years; during the long minority of her brother, and, after his death, in her own name, and in the name of Marcian, her nominal husband. From a motive, either of prudence or religion, she embraced a life of celibacy; and, notwithstanding some aspersions on the chastity of Pulcheria,69 this resolution, which she communicated to her sisters Arcadia and Marina, was celebrated by the Christian world, as the sublime effort of heroic piety. In the presence of the clergy and people, the three daughters of Arcadius70 dedicated their virginity to God; and the obligation of their solemn vow was inscribed on a tablet of gold and gems; which they publicly offered in the great church of Constantinople. Their palace was converted into a monastery; and all males, except the guides of their conscience, the saints who had forgotten the distinction of sexes, were scrupulously excluded from the holy threshold. Pulcheria, her two sisters, and a chosen train of favourite damsels formed a religious community: they renounced the vanity of dress; interrupted, by frequent fasts, their simple and frugal diet; allotted a portion of their time to works of embroidery; and devoted several hours of the day and night to the exercises of prayer and psalmody. The piety of a Christian virgin was adorned by the zeal and liberality of an empress. Ecclesiastical history Edition: current; Page: [323] describes the splendid churches which were built at the expense of Pulcheria, in all the provinces of the East; her charitable foundations for the benefit of strangers and the poor; the ample donations which she assigned for the perpetual maintenance of monastic societies; and the active severity with which she laboured to suppress the opposite heresies of Nestorius and Eutyches. Such virtues were supposed to deserve the peculiar favour of the Deity; and the relics of martyrs, as well as the knowledge of future events, were communicated in visions and revelations to the Imperial saint.71 Yet the devotion of Pulcheria never diverted her indefatigable attention from temporal affairs; and she alone, among all the descendants of the great Theodosius, appears to have inherited any share of his manly spirit and abilities. The elegant and familiar use which she had acquired both of the Greek and Latin languages was readily applied to the various occasions of speaking or writing on public business; her deliberations were maturely weighed; her actions were prompt and decisive; and, while she moved, without noise or ostentation, the wheel of government, she discreetly attributed to the genius of the emperor the long tranquillity of his reign. In the last years of his peaceful life Europe was indeed afflicted by the arms of Attila; but the more extensive provinces of Asia still continued to enjoy a profound and permanent repose. Theodosius the younger was never reduced to the disgraceful necessity of encountering and punishing a rebellious subject; and, since we cannot applaud the vigour, some praise may Edition: current; Page: [324] be due to the mildness and prosperity, of the administration of Pulcheria.

The Roman world was deeply interested in the education of its master. A regular course of study and exercise was judiciously instituted; of the military exercises of riding and shooting with the bow; of the liberal studies of grammar, rhetoric, and philosophy; the most skilful masters of the East ambitiously solicited the attention of their royal pupil; and several noble youths were introduced into the palace, to animate his diligence by the emulation of friendship. Pulcheria alone discharged the important task of instructing her brother in the arts of government; but her precepts may countenance some suspicion of the extent of her capacity or of the purity of her intentions. She taught him to maintain a grave and majestic deportment; to walk, to hold his robes, to seat himself on his throne, in a manner worthy of a great prince; to abstain from laughter; to listen with condescension; to return suitable answers; to assume, by turns, a serious or a placid countenance; in a word, to represent with grace and dignity the external figure of a Roman emperor. But Theodosius72 was never excited to support the weight and glory of an illustrious name; and, instead of aspiring to imitate his ancestors, he degenerated (if we may presume to measure the degrees of incapacity) below the weakness of his father and his uncle. Arcadius and Honorius had been assisted by the guardian care of a parent whose Edition: current; Page: [325] lessons were enforced by his authority and example. But the unfortunate prince who is born in the purple must remain a stranger to the voice of truth; and the son of Arcadius was condemned to pass his perpetual infancy, encompassed only by a servile train of women and eunuchs. The ample leisure, which he acquired by neglecting the essential duties of his high office, was filled by idle amusements and unprofitable studies. Hunting was the only active pursuit that could tempt him beyond the limits of the palace; but he most assiduously laboured, sometimes by the light of a midnight lamp, in the mechanic occupations of painting and carving; and the elegance with which he transcribed religious books entitled the Roman emperor to the singular epithet of Calligraphes, or a fair writer. Separated from the world by an impenetrable veil, Theodosius trusted the persons whom he loved; he loved those who were accustomed to amuse and flatter his indolence; and, as he never perused the papers that were presented for the royal signature, the acts of injustice the most repugnant to his character were frequently perpetrated in his name. The emperor himself was chaste, temperate liberal, and merciful; but these qualities, which can only deserve the name of virtues when they are supported by courage and regulated by discretion, were seldom beneficial, and they sometimes proved mischievous, to mankind. His mind, enervated by a royal education, was oppressed and degraded by abject superstition; he fasted, he sung psalms, he blindly accepted the miracles and doctrines with which his faith was continually nourished. Theodosius devoutly worshipped the dead and living saints of the Catholic church; and he once refused to eat, till an insolent monk, who had cast an excommunication on his sovereign, condescended to heal the spiritual wound which he had inflicted.73

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The story of a fair and virtuous maiden, exalted from a private condition to the Imperial throne, might be deemed an incredible romance, if such a romance had not been verified in the marriage of Theodosius. The celebrated Athenais74 was educated by her father Leontius in the religion and sciences of the Greeks; and so advantageous was the opinion which the Athenian philosopher entertained of his contemporaries, that he divided his patrimony between his two sons, bequeathing to his daughter a small legacy of one hundred pieces of gold, in the lively confidence that her beauty and merit would be a sufficient portion. The jealousy and avarice of her brothers soon compelled Athenais to seek a refuge at Constantinople; and with some hopes, either of justice or favour, to throw herself at the feet of Pulcheria. That sagacious princess listened to her eloquent complaint; and secretly destined the daughter of the philosopher Leontius for the future wife of the emperor of the East, who had now attained the twentieth year of his age. She easily excited the curiosity of her brother by an interesting picture of the charms of Athenais; large eyes, a well-proportioned nose, a fair complexion, golden locks, a slender person, a graceful demeanour, an understanding improved by study, and a virtue tried by distress. Theodosius, concealed behind a curtain in the apartment of his sister, was permitted to behold the Athenian virgin; the modest youth immediately declared his Edition: current; Page: [327] pure and honourable love; and the royal nuptials were celebrated amidst the acclamations of the capital and the provinces. Athenais, who was easily persuaded to renounce the errors of Paganism, received at her baptism the Christian name of Eudocia; but the cautious Pulcheria withheld the title of Augusta, till the wife of Theodosius had approved her fruitfulness by the birth of a daughter, who espoused, fifteen years afterwards, the emperor of the West. The brothers of Eudocia obeyed, with some anxiety, her Imperial summons; but, as she could easily forgive their fortunate unkindness, she indulged the tenderness, or perhaps the vanity, of a sister by promoting them to the rank of consuls and prefects. In the luxury of the palace, she still cultivated those ingenuous arts which had contributed to her greatness; and wisely dedicated her talents to the honour of religion and of her husband. Eudocia composed a poetical paraphrase of the first eight books of the Old Testament, and of the prophecies of Daniel and Zachariah; a cento of the verses of Homer, applied to the life and miracles of Christ; the legend of St. Cyprian, and a panegyric on the Persian victories of Theodosius; and her writings, which were applauded by a servile and superstitious age, have not been disdained by the candour of impartial criticism.75 The fondness of the emperor was not abated by time and possession; and Eudocia, after the marriage of her daughter, was permitted to discharge her grateful vows by a solemn progress to Jerusalem. Her ostentatious progress through the East may seem inconsistent with the spirit of Christian humility; she pronounced, from a throne of gold and gems, an eloquent oration to the senate of Edition: current; Page: [328] Antioch, declared her royal intention of enlarging the walls of the city, bestowed a donative of two hundred pounds of gold to restore the public baths, and accepted the statues which were decreed by the gratitude of Antioch. In the Holy Land, her alms and pious foundations exceeded the munificence of the great Helena; and, though the public treasure might be impoverished by this excessive liberality, she enjoyed the conscious satisfaction of returning to Constantinople with the chains of St. Peter, the right arm of St. Stephen, and an undoubted picture of the Virgin, painted by St. Luke.76 But this pilgrimage was the fatal term of the glories of Eudocia. Satiated with empty pomp, and unmindful, perhaps, of her obligations to Pulcheria, she ambitiously aspired to the government of the Eastern empire; the palace was distracted by female discord; but the victory was at last decided by the superior ascendant of the sister of Theodosius. The execution of Paulinus, master of the offices, and the disgrace of Cyrus, Prætorian prefect of the East, convinced the public that the favour of Eudocia was insufficient to protect her most faithful friends; and the uncommon beauty of Paulinus encouraged the secret rumour that his guilt was that of a successful lover.77 As soon as the empress perceived that the affection of Theodosius was irretrievably lost, she requested the permission of retiring to the distant solitude of Jerusalem. She obtained her request; but the jealousy of Theodosius, or the vindictive spirit of Pulcheria, pursued her in her last retreat; and Saturninus, count of the domestics, was directed to punish with death two ecclesiastics, her most favoured servants. Eudocia instantly revenged them by the assassination of the Edition: current; Page: [329] count; the furious passions, which she indulged on this suspicious occasion, seemed to justify the severity of Theodosius; and the empress, ignominiously stript of the honours of her rank,78 was disgraced, perhaps unjustly, in the eyes of the world. The remainder of the life of Eudocia, about sixteen years, was spent in exile and devotion; and the approach of age, the death of Theodosius, the misfortunes of her only daughter, who was led a captive from Rome to Carthage, and the society of the Holy Monks of Palestine, insensibly confirmed the religious temper of her mind. After a full experience of the vicissitudes of human life, the daughter of the philosopher Leontius expired at Jerusalem, in the sixty-seventh year of her age; protesting, with her dying breath, that she had never transgressed the bounds of innocence and friendship.79

The gentle mind of Theodosius was never inflamed by the ambition of conquest or military renown; and the slight alarm of a Persian war scarcely interrupted the tranquillity of the East. The motives of this war were just and honourable. In the last year of the reign of Jezdegerd, the supposed guardian of Theodosius, a bishop, who aspired to the crown of martyrdom, destroyed one of the fire temples of Susa.80 His zeal and obstinacy were revenged on his brethren; the Edition: current; Page: [330] Magi excited a cruel persecution; and the intolerant zeal of Jezdegerd was imitated by his son Vararanes, or Bahram, who soon afterwards ascended the throne. Some Christian fugitives, who escaped to the Roman frontier, were sternly demanded and generously refused; and the refusal, aggravated by commercial disputes, soon kindled a war between the rival monarchies. The mountains of Armenia and the plains of Mesopotamia were filled with hostile armies; but the operations of two successive campaigns were not productive of any decisive or memorable events. Some engagements were fought, some towns were besieged, with various and doubtful success; and, if the Romans failed in their attempt to recover the long-lost possession of Nisibis, the Persians were repulsed from the walls of a Mesopotamian city by the valour of a martial bishop, who pointed his thundering engine in the name of St. Thomas the Apostle. Yet the splendid victories, which the incredible speed of the messenger Palladius repeatedly announced to the palace of Constantinople, were celebrated with festivals and panegyrics. From these panegyrics the historians81 of the age might borrow their extraordinary and, perhaps, fabulous tales; of the proud challenge of a Persian hero, who was entangled by the net, and despatched by the sword, of Areobindus the Goth; of the ten thousand Immortals, who were slain in the attack of the Roman camp; and of the hundred thousand Arabs, or Saracens, who were impelled by a panic of terror to throw themselves headlong into the Euphrates. Such events may be disbelieved or disregarded; but the charity of a bishop, Acacius of Amida, whose name might have dignified the saintly calendar, shall not be lost in oblivion. Boldly declaring that vases of gold and silver are useless to a God who neither eats nor drinks, the generous prelate sold the plate of the church of Amida; employed Edition: current; Page: [331] the price in the redemption of seven thousand Persian captives; supplied their wants with affectionate liberality; and dismissed them to their native country, to inform the king of the true spirit of the religion which he persecuted. The practice of benevolence in the midst of war must always tend to assuage the animosity of contending nations; and I wish to persuade myself that Acacius contributed to the restoration of peace. In the conference which was held on the limits of the two empires, the Roman ambassadors degraded the personal character of their sovereign by a vain attempt to magnify the extent of his power; when they seriously advised the Persians to prevent, by a timely accommodation, the wrath of a monarch who was yet ignorant of this distant war. A truce of one hundred years was solemnly ratified; and, although the revolutions of Armenia might threaten the public tranquillity, the essential conditions of this treaty were respected near fourscore years by the successors of Constantine and Artaxerxes.

Since the Roman and Parthian standards first encountered on the banks of the Euphrates, the kingdom of Armenia82 was alternately oppressed by its formidable protectors; and, in the course of this History, several events, which inclined the balance of peace and war, have been already related. A disgraceful treaty had resigned Armenia to the ambition of Sapor; and the scale of Persia appeared to preponderate. But the royal race of Arsaces impatiently submitted to the house of Sassan; the turbulent nobles asserted or betrayed their hereditary independence; and the nation was still attached to the Christian princes of Constantinople. In the Edition: current; Page: [332] beginning of the fifth century, Armenia was divided by the progress of war and faction;83 and the unnatural division precipitated the downfall of that ancient monarchy. Chosroes, the Persian vassal, reigned over the eastern and most extensive portion of the country; while the western province acknowledged the jurisdiction of Arsaces and the supremacy of the emperor Arcadius. After the death of Arsaces, the Romans suppressed the regal government and imposed on their allies the condition of subjects. The military command was delegated to the count of the Armenian frontier; the city of Theodosiopolis84 was built and fortified in a strong situation, on a fertile and lofty ground near the sources of the Euphrates; and the dependent territories were ruled by five satraps, whose dignity was marked by a peculiar habit of gold and purple. The less fortunate nobles, who lamented the loss of their king and envied the honours of their equals, were provoked to negotiate their peace and pardon at the Persian court; and, returning, with their followers, to the palace of Artaxata, acknowledged Chosroes for their lawful sovereign. About thirty years afterwards, Artasires, the nephew and successor of Chosroes, fell under the displeasure of the haughty and capricious nobles of Armenia; and they unanimously desired a Persian governor in the room of an unworthy king. The answer of the archbishop Isaac, whose sanction they earnestly solicited, is expressive of the character of a superstitious Edition: current; Page: [333] people. He deplored the manifest and inexcusable vices of Artasires; and declared that he should not hesitate to accuse him before the tribunal of a Christian emperor who would punish, without destroying, the sinner. “Our king,” continued Isaac, “is too much addicted to licentious pleasures, but he has been purified in the holy waters of baptism. He is a lover of women, but he does not adore the fire or the elements. He may deserve the reproach of lewdness, but he is an undoubted Catholic; and his faith is pure, though his manners are flagitious. I will never consent to abandon my sheep to the rage of devouring wolves; and you would soon repent your rash exchange of the infirmities of a believer for the specious virtues of an heathen.”85 Exasperated by the firmness of Isaac, the factious nobles accused both the king and the archbishop as the secret adherents of the emperor; and absurdly rejoiced in the sentence of condemnation, which, after a partial hearing, was solemnly pronounced by Bahram himself. The descendants of Arsaces were degraded from the royal dignity,86 which they had possessed above five hundred and sixty years,87 and the dominions of the unfortunate Artasires, under the new and significant appellation of Persarmenia, were reduced into the form of a province. Edition: current; Page: [334] This usurpation excited the jealousy of the Roman government; but the rising disputes were soon terminated by an amicable, though unequal, partition of the ancient kingdom of Armenia; and a territorial acquisition, which Augustus might have despised, reflected some lustre on the declining empire of the younger Theodosius.

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Death of Honorius — Valentinian III. Emperor of the West — Administration of his Mother Placidia — Aetius and Boniface — Conquest of Africa by the Vandals

During a long and disgraceful reign of twenty-eight years, Honorius, emperor of the West, was separated from the friendship of his brother, and afterwards of his nephew, who reigned over the East; and Constantinople beheld, with apparent indifference and secret joy, the calamities of Rome. The strange adventures of Placidia1 gradually renewed and cemented the alliance of the two empires. The daughter of the great Theodosius had been the captive and the queen of the Goths; she lost an affectionate husband; she was dragged in chains by his insulting assassin; she tasted the pleasure of revenge, and was exchanged, in the treaty of peace, for six hundred thousand measures of wheat. After her return from Spain to Italy, Placidia experienced a new persecution in the bosom of her family. She was averse to a marriage which had been stipulated without her consent; and the brave Constantius, as a noble reward for the tyrants whom he had vanquished, received, from the hand of Honorius himself, the struggling and reluctant hand of the widow of Adolphus. But her resistance ended with the ceremony of the nuptials; nor did Placidia refuse to become the mother of Honoria and Valentinian the Third, or to assume and exercise an absolute dominion over the mind of her grateful husband. The generous soldier, whose time had hitherto been divided between social pleasure and military service, was taught new lessons of avarice and ambition; he extorted Edition: current; Page: [336] the title of Augustus; and the servant of Honorius was associated to the empire of the West. The death of Constantius, in the seventh month of his reign, instead of diminishing, seemed to increase, the power of Placidia; and the indecent familiarity2 of her brother, which might be no more than the symptoms of a childish affection, were2a universally attributed to incestuous love. On a sudden, by some base intrigues of a steward and a nurse, this excessive fondness was converted into an irreconcilable quarrel; the debates of the emperor and his sister were not long confined within the walls of the palace; and, as the Gothic soldiers adhered to their queen, the city of Ravenna was agitated with bloody and dangerous tumults, which could only be appeased by the forced or voluntary retreat of Placidia and her children. The royal exiles landed at Constantinople, soon after the marrige of Theodosius, during the festival of the Persian victories. They were treated with kindness and magnificence; but, as the statues of the emperor Constantius had been rejected by the Eastern court, the title of Augusta could not decently be allowed to his widow. Within a few months after the arrival of Placidia, a swift messenger announced the death of Honorius, the consequence of a dropsy; but the important secret was not divulged, till the necessary orders had been despatched for the march of a large body of troops to the seacoast of Dalmatia. The shops and the gates of Constantinople remained shut during seven days; and the loss of a foreign prince, who could neither be esteemed nor regretted, Edition: current; Page: [337] was celebrated with loud and affected demonstrations of the public grief.

While the ministers of Constantinople deliberated, the vacant throne of Honorius was usurped by the ambition of a stranger. The name of the rebel was John; he filled the confidential office of Primicerius, or principal secretary; and history has attributed to his character more virtues than can easily be reconciled with the violation of the most sacred duty. Elated by the submission of Italy and the hope of an alliance with the Huns, John presumed to insult, by an embassy, the majesty of the Eastern emperor; but, when he understood that his agents had been banished, imprisoned, and at length chased away with deserved ignominy, John prepared to assert, by arms, the injustice of his claims. In such a cause, the grandson of the great Theodosius should have marched in person; but the young emperor was easily diverted, by his physicians, from so rash and hazardous a design; and the conduct of the Italian expedition was prudently entrusted to Ardaburius and his son Aspar, who had already signalised their valour against the Persians. It was resolved that Ardaburius should embark with the infantry; whilst Aspar, at the head of the cavalry, conducted Placidia and her son Valentinian along the sea-coast of the Hadriatic. The march of the cavalry was performed with such active diligence that they surprised, without resistance, the important city of Aquileia; when the hopes of Aspar were unexpectedly confounded by the intelligence that a storm had dispersed the Imperial fleet; and that his father, with only two galleys, was taken and carried a prisoner into the port of Ravenna. Yet this incident, unfortunate as it might seem, facilitated the conquest of Italy. Ardaburius employed, or abused, the courteous freedom which he was permitted to enjoy, to revive among the troops a sense of loyalty and gratitude; and, as soon as the conspiracy was ripe for execution, he invited, by private messages, and pressed the approach of, Aspar. Edition: current; Page: [338] A shepherd, whom the popular credulity transformed into an angel, guided the Eastern cavalry, by a secret and, it was thought, an impassable road, through the morasses of the Po; the gates of Ravenna, after a short struggle, were thrown open; and the defenceless tyrant was delivered to the mercy, or rather to the cruelty, of the conquerors. His right hand was first cut off; and, after he had been exposed, mounted on an ass, to the public derision, John was beheaded in the circus of Aquileia. The emperor Theodosius, when he received the news of the victory, interrupted the horse-races; and, singing, as he marched through the streets, a suitable psalm, conducted his people from the Hippodrome to the church, where he spent the remainder of the day in grateful devotion.3

In a monarchy, which, according to various precedents, might be considered as elective, or hereditary, or patrimonial, it was impossible that the intricate claims of female and collateral succession should be clearly defined;4 and Theodosius, by the right of consanguinity or conquest, might have reigned the sole legitimate emperor of the Romans. For a moment, perhaps, his eyes were dazzled by the prospect of unbounded sway; but his indolent temper gradually acquiesced in the dictates of sound policy. He contented himself with the possession of the East; and wisely relinquished the laborious task of waging a distant and doubtful war against the Barbarians beyond the Alps; or of securing the obedience of the Italians and Africans, whose minds were alienated by the irreconcileable difference of language and interest. Instead of listening to the voice of ambition, Edition: current; Page: [339] Theodosius resolved to imitate the moderation of his grandfather, and to seat his cousin Valentinian on the throne of the West. The royal infant was distinguished at Constantinople by the title of Nobilissimus; he was promoted, before his departure from Thessalonica, to the rank and dignity of Cæsar; and, after the conquest of Italy, the patrician Helion, by the authority of Theodosius, and in the presence of the senate, saluted Valentinian the Third by the name of Augustus, and solemnly invested him with the diadem and the Imperial purple.5 By the agreement of the three females who governed the Roman world, the son of Placidia was betrothed to Eudoxia, the daughter of Theodosius and Athenais; and, as soon as the lover and his bride had attained the age of puberty, this honourable alliance was faithfully accomplished. At the same time, as a compensation, perhaps, for the expenses of the war, the Western Illyricum was detached from the Italian dominions and yielded to the throne of Constantinople.6 The emperor of the East acquired the useful dominion of the rich and maritime province of Dalmatia, and the dangerous sovereignty of Pannonia and Noricum, which had been filled and ravaged above twenty years by a promiscuous crowd of Huns, Ostrogoths, Vandals, and Bavarians. Theodosius and Valentinian continued to respect the obligations of their public and domestic alliance; but the unity of the Roman government was finally dissolved. By a positive declaration, the validity of all future laws was limited to the dominions of their peculiar author; unless he should think proper to communicate them, subscribed with his own hand, for the approbation of his independent colleague.7

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Valentinian, when he received the title of Augustus, was no more than six years of age; and his long minority was entrusted to the guardian care of a mother, who might assert a female claim to the succession of the Western Empire. Placidia envied, but she could not equal, the reputation and virtues of the wife and sister of Theodosius: the elegant genius of Eudocia, the wise and successful policy of Pulcheria. The mother of Valentinian was jealous of the power, which she was incapable of exercising;8 she reigned twenty-five years, in the name of her son; and the character of that unworthy emperor gradually countenanced the suspicion that Placidia had enervated his youth by a dissolute education and studiously diverted his attention from every manly and honourable pursuit. Amidst the decay of military spirit, her armies were commanded by two generals, Aetius9 and Boniface,10 who may be deservedly named as the last of the Romans. Their union might have supported a sinking empire; their discord Edition: current; Page: [341] was the fatal and immediate cause of the loss of Africa. The invasion and defeat of Attila has immortalised the fame of Aetius; and, though time has thrown a shade over the exploits of his rival, the defence of Marseilles and the deliverance of Africa11 attest the military talents of Count Boniface. In the field of battle, in partial encounters, in single combats, he was still the terror of the Barbarians; the clergy, and particularly his friend Augustin, were edified by the Christian piety which had once tempted him to retire from the world; the people applauded his spotless integrity; the army dreaded his equal and inexorable justice, which may be displayed in a very singular example. A peasant, who complained of the criminal intimacy between his wife and a Gothic soldier, was directed to attend his tribunal the following day; in the evening the count, who had diligently informed himself of the time and place of the assignation, mounted his horse, rode ten miles into the country, surprised the guilty couple, punished the soldier with instant death, and silenced the complaints of the husband by presenting him, the next morning, with the head of the adulterer. The abilities of Aetius and Boniface might have been usefully employed against the public enemies, in separate and important commands; but the experience of their past conduct should have decided the real favour and confidence of the empress Placidia. In the melancholy season of her exile and distress, Boniface alone had maintained her cause with unshaken fidelity; and the troops and treasures of Africa had essentially contributed to extinguish the rebellion. The same rebellion had been supported by the zeal and activity of Aetius, who brought an army of sixty thousand Huns from the Danube to the confines of Italy, for the service of the usurper. The untimely death of John compelled him to accept an advantageous treaty; but he still continued, the subject and the soldier of Valentinian, Edition: current; Page: [342] to entertain a secret, perhaps a treasonable, correspondence with his Barbarian allies, whose retreat had been purchased by liberal gifts and more liberal promises. But Aetius possessed an advantage of singular moment in a female reign: he was present; he besieged, with artful and assiduous flattery, the palace of Ravenna; disguised his dark designs with the mask of loyalty and friendship; and at length deceived both his mistress and his absent rival by a subtle conspiracy, which a weak woman and a brave man could not easily suspect. He secretly persuaded12 Placidia to recall Boniface from the government of Africa; he secretly advised Boniface to disobey the Imperial summons: to the one he represented the order as a sentence of death; to the other he stated the refusal as a signal of revolt; and, when the credulous and unsuspectful count had armed the province in his defence, Aetius applauded his sagacity in foreseeing the rebellion which his own perfidy had excited. A temperate inquiry into the real motives of Boniface would have restored a faithful servant to his duty and to the republic; but the arts of Aetius still continued to betray and to inflame, and the count was urged by persecution to embrace the most desperate counsels. The success with which he eluded or repelled the first attacks could not inspire a vain confidence that, at the head of some loose, disorderly Africans, he should be able to withstand the regular forces of the West, commanded by a rival whose military character it was impossible for him to despise. After some hesitation, the last struggles of prudence and loyalty, Boniface despatched a trusty friend to the court, or rather to the camp, of Gonderic, king of the Vandals, with the proposal of a strict alliance, and the offer of an advantageous and perpetual settlement.

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After the retreat of the Goths, the authority of Honorius had obtained a precarious establishment in Spain; except only in the province of Gallicia, where the Suevi and the Vandals had fortified their camps, in mutual discord and hostile independence. The Vandals prevailed; and their adversaries were besieged in the Nervasian hills, between Leon and Oviedo, till the approach of Count Asterius compelled, or rather provoked, the victorious Barbarians to remove the scene of the war to the plains of Baetica. The rapid progress of the Vandals soon required a more effectual opposition; and the master-general Castinus marched against them with a numerous army of Romans and Goths. Vanquished in battle by an inferior enemy, Castinus fled with dishonour to Tarragona; and this memorable defeat, which has been represented as the punishment, was most probably the effect, of his rash presumption.13 Seville and Carthagena became the reward, or rather the prey, of the ferocious conquerors, and the vessels which they found in the harbour of Carthagena might easily transport them to the isles of Majorca and Minorca, where the Spanish fugitives, as in a secure recess, had vainly concealed their families and their fortunes. The experience of navigation, and perhaps the prospect of Africa, encouraged the Vandals to accept the invitation which they received from Count Boniface; and the death of Gonderic served only to forward and animate the bold enterprise. In the room of a prince, not conspicuous for any superior powers of the mind or body, they acquired his bastard brother, the terrible Genseric:14 a name which, Edition: current; Page: [344] in the destruction of the Roman empire, has deserved an equal rank with the names of Alaric and Attila. The king of the Vandals is described to have been of a middle stature, with a lameness in one leg, which he had contracted by an accidental fall from his horse. His slow and cautious speech seldom declared the deep purposes of his soul: he disdained to imitate the luxury of the vanquished; but he indulged the sterner passions of anger and revenge. The ambition of Genseric was without bounds, and without scruples; and the warrior could dexterously employ the dark engines of policy to solicit the allies who might be useful to his success, or to scatter among his enemies the seeds of hatred and contention. Almost in the moment of his departure he was informed that Hermanric, king of the Suevi, had presumed to ravage the Spanish territories, which he was resolved to abandon. Impatient of the insult, Genseric pursued the hasty retreat of the Suevi as far as Merida; precipitated the king and his army into the river Anas; and calmly returned to the sea-shore, to embark his victorious troops. The vessels which transported the Vandals over the modern Straits of Gibraltar, a channel only twelve miles in breadth,15 were furnished by the Spaniards, who anxiously wished their departure, and by the African general, who had implored their formidable assistance.16

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Our fancy, so long accustomed to exaggerate and multiply the martial swarms of Barbarians that seemed to issue from the North, will perhaps be surprised by the account of the army which Genseric mustered on the coast of Mauritania. The Vandals, who in twenty years had penetrated from the Elbe to Mount Atlas, were united under the command of their warlike king; and he reigned with equal authority over the Alani, who had passed, within the term of human life, from the cold of Scythia to the excessive heat of an African climate. The hopes of the bold enterprise had excited many brave adventurers of the Gothic nation; and many desperate provincials were tempted to repair their fortunes by the same means which had occasioned their ruin. Yet this various multitude amounted only to fifty thousand effective men; and, though Genseric artfully magnified his apparent strength, by appointing eighty chiliarchs, or commanders of thousands, the fallacious increase of old men, of children, and of slaves would scarcely have swelled his army to the number of fourscore thousand persons.17 But his own dexterity, and the discontents of Africa, soon fortified the Vandal powers by the accession of numerous and active allies. The parts of Mauritania, which border on the great desert and the Atlantic ocean, were filled with a fierce and untractable race of men, whose savage temper had been exasperated, rather than Edition: current; Page: [346] reclaimed, by their dread of the Roman arms. The wandering Moors,18 as they gradually ventured to approach the seashore and the camp of the Vandals, must have viewed with terror and astonishment the dress, the armour, the martial pride and discipline of the unknown strangers, who had landed on their coast; and the fair complexions of the blueeyed warriors of Germany formed a very singular contrast with the swarthy or olive hue which is derived from the neighbourhood of the torrid zone. After the first difficulties had in some measure been removed, which arose from the mutual ignorance of their respective language, the Moors, regardless of any future consequence, embraced the alliance of the enemies of Rome; and a crowd of naked savages rushed from the woods and valleys of Mount Atlas, to satiate their revenge on the polished tyrants who had injuriously expelled them from the native sovereignty of the land.

The persecution of the Donatists19 was an event not less favourable to the designs of Genseric. Seventeen years before he landed in Africa, a public conference was held at Carthage, by the order of the magistrate. The Catholics were satisfied that, after the invincible reasons which they had alleged, the obstinacy of the schismatics must be inexcusable and voluntary; and the emperor Honorius was persuaded to inflict the most rigorous penalties on a faction which had so long abused his patience and clemency. Three hundred bishops,20 with many thousands of the inferior clergy, were Edition: current; Page: [347] torn from their churches, stripped of their ecclesiastical possessions, banished to the islands, and proscribed by the laws, if they presumed to conceal themselves in the provinces of Africa. Their numerous congregations, both in cities and in the country, were deprived of the rights of citizens, and of the exercise of religious worship. A regular scale of fines, from ten to two hundred pounds of silver, was curiously ascertained, according to the distinctions of rank and fortune, to punish the crime of assisting at a schismatic conventicle; and, if the fine had been levied five times, without subduing the obstinacy of the offender, his future punishment was referred to the discretion of the Imperial court.21 By these severities, which obtained the warmest approbation of St. Augustin,22 great numbers of Donatists were reconciled to the Catholic church; but the fanatics, who still persevered in their opposition, were provoked to madness and despair; the distracted country was filled with tumult and bloodshed; the armed troops of Circumcellions alternately pointed their rage against themselves or against their adversaries; and the calendar of martyrs received on both sides a considerable augmentation.23 Under these circumstances, Genseric, a Christian, but an enemy of the orthodox communion, showed himself to the Donatists as a powerful deliverer, from whom Edition: current; Page: [348] they might reasonably expect the repeal of the odious and oppressive edicts of the Roman emperors.24 The conquest of Africa was facilitated by the active zeal, or the secret favour, of a domestic faction; the wanton outrages against the churches and the clergy, of which the Vandals are accused, may be fairly imputed to the fanaticism of their allies; and the intolerant spirit, which disgraced the triumph of Christianity, contributed to the loss of the most important province of the West.25

The court and the people were astonished by the strange intelligence that a virtuous hero, after so many favours and so many services, had renounced his allegiance, and invited the Barbarians to destroy the province entrusted to his command. The friends of Boniface, who still believed that his criminal behaviour might be excused by some honourable motive, solicited, during the absence of Aetius, a free conference with the count of Africa, and Darius, an officer of high distinction, was named for the important embassy.26 In their first interview at Carthage, the imaginary provocations were mutually explained; the opposite letters of Aetius were produced and compared; and the fraud was easily detected. Placidia and Boniface lamented their fatal error; and the Edition: current; Page: [349] count had sufficient magnanimity to confide in the forgiveness of his sovereign or to expose his head to her future resentment. His repentance was fervent and sincere; but he soon discovered that it was no longer in his power to restore the edifice which he had shaken to its foundations. Carthage, and the Roman garrisons, returned with their general to the allegiance of Valentinian; but the rest of Africa was still distracted with war and faction; and the inexorable king of the Vandals, disdaining all terms of accommodation, sternly refused to relinquish the possession of his prey. The band of veterans, who marched under the standard of Boniface, and his hasty levies of provincial troops, were defeated with considerable loss; the victorious Barbarians insulted the open country; and Carthage, Cirta, and Hippo Regius were the only cities that appeared to rise above the general inundation.

The long and narrow tract of the African coast was filled with frequent monuments of Roman art and magnificence; and the respective degrees of improvement might be accurately measured by the distance from Carthage and the Mediterranean. A simple reflection will impress every thinking mind with the clearest idea of fertility and cultivation: the country was extremely populous; the inhabitants reserved a liberal subsistence for their own use; and the annual exportation, particularly of wheat, was so regular and plentiful that Africa deserved the name of the common granary of Rome and of mankind. On a sudden the seven fruitful provinces, from Tangier to Tripoli, were overwhelmed by the invasion of the Vandals; whose destructive rage has perhaps been exaggerated by popular animosity, religious zeal, and extravagant declamation. War, in its fairest form, implies a perpetual violation of humanity and justice; and the hostilities of Barbarians are inflamed by the fierce and lawless spirit which incessantly disturbs their peaceful and domestic society. The Vandals, where they found resistance, seldom gave quarter; and the deaths of their valiant countrymen were expiated by the ruin of the cities under whose walls they had Edition: current; Page: [350] fallen. Careless of the distinctions of age, or sex, or rank, they employed every species of indignity and torture, to force from the captives a discovery of their hidden wealth. The stern policy of Genseric justified his frequent examples of military execution: he was not always the master of his own passions, or of those of his followers; and the calamities of war were aggravated by the licentiousness of the Moors and the fanaticism of the Donatists. Yet I shall not easily be persuaded that it was the common practice of the Vandals to extirpate the olives, and other fruit trees, of a country where they intended to settle; nor can I believe that it was a usual stratagem to slaughter great numbers of their prisoners before the walls of a besieged city, for the sole purpose of infecting the air and producing a pestilence of which they themselves must have been the first victims.27

The generous mind of Count Boniface was tortured by the exquisite distress of beholding the ruin which he had occasioned, and whose rapid progress he was unable to check. After the loss of a battle he retired into Hippo Regius; where he was immediately besieged by an enemy who considered him as the real bulwark of Africa. The maritime colony of Hippo,28 about two hundred miles westward of Carthage, had formerly acquired the distinguishing epithet of Regius, from the residence of Numidian kings; and some remains Edition: current; Page: [351] of trade and populousness still adhere to the modern city, which is known in Europe by the corrupted name of Bona. The military labours and anxious reflections of Count Boniface were alleviated by the edifying conversation of his friend St. Augustin;29 till that bishop, the light and pillar of the Catholic church, was gently released, in the third month of the siege, and in the seventy-sixth year of his age, from the actual and the impending calamities of his country. The youth of Augustin had been stained by the vices and errors which he so ingenuously confesses; but from the moment of his conversion to that of his death the manners of the bishop of Hippo were pure and austere; and the most conspicuous of his virtues was an ardent zeal against heretics of every denomination: the Manichæans, the Donatists, and the Pelagians, against whom he waged a perpetual controversy. When the city, some months after his death, was burnt by the Vandals, the library was fortunately saved, which contained his voluminous writings: two hundred and thirty-two separate books, or treatises, on theological subjects, besides a complete exposition of the psalter and the gospel, and a copious magazine of epistles and homilies.30 According to the judgment of the most impartial critics, the superficial learning of Augustin was confined to the Latin language;31 and his Edition: current; Page: [352] style, though sometimes animated by the eloquence of passion, is usually clouded by false and affected rhetoric. But he possessed a strong, capacious, argumentative mind; he boldly sounded the dark abyss of grace, predestination, freewill, and original sin; and the rigid system of Christianity, which he framed or restored,32 has been entertained, with public applause and secret reluctance, by the Latin church.33

By the skill of Boniface, and perhaps by the ignorance of the Vandals, the siege of Hippo was protracted above fourteen months; the sea was continually open, and, when the adjacent country had been exhausted by irregular rapine, the besiegers themselves were compelled by famine to relinquish their enterprise. The importance and danger of Africa were deeply felt by the regent of the West. Placidia implored the assistance of her Eastern ally; and the Italian fleet and army were reinforced by Aspar, who sailed from Constantinople with a powerful armament. As soon as the force of the two empires was united under the command of Boniface, he boldly marched against the Vandals; and the loss of a second battle irretrievably decided the fate of Africa. He embarked with the precipitation of despair, and the people of Hippo were permitted, with their families and effects, to occupy the vacant place of the soldiers, the greatest part of whom were Edition: current; Page: [353] either slain or made prisoners by the Vandals. The count, whose fatal credulity had wounded the vitals of the republic, might enter the palace of Ravenna with some anxiety, which was soon removed by the smiles of Placidia. Boniface accepted with gratitude the rank of patrician, and the dignity of master-general of the Roman armies; but he must have blushed at the sight of those medals in which he was represented with the name and attributes of victory.34 The discovery of his fraud, the displeasure of the empress, and the distinguished favour of his rival exasperated the haughty and perfidious soul of Aetius. He hastily returned from Gaul to Italy, with a retinue, or rather with an army, of Barbarian followers; and such was the weakness of the government that the two generals decided their private quarrel in a bloody battle. Boniface was successful; but he received in the conflict a mortal wound from the spear of his adversary, of which he expired within a few days, in such Christian and charitable sentiments that he exhorted his wife, a rich heiress of Spain, to accept Aetius for her second husband. But Aetius could not derive any immediate advantage from the generosity of his dying enemy; he was proclaimed a rebel by the justice of Placidia, and, though he attempted to defend some strong fortresses erected on his patrimonial estate, the Imperial power soon compelled him to retire into Pannonia, to the tents of his faithful Huns. The republic was deprived, by their mutual discord, of the service of her two most illustrious champions.35

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It might naturally be expected, after the retreat of Boniface, that the Vandals would achieve, without resistance or delay, the conquest of Africa. Eight years however elapsed from the evacuation of Hippo to the reduction of Carthage. In the midst of that interval the ambitious Genseric, in the full tide of apparent prosperity, negotiated a treaty of peace, by which he gave his son Hunneric for an hostage, and consented to leave the Western emperor in the undisturbed possession of the three Mauritanias.36 This moderation, which cannot be imputed to the justice, must be ascribed to the policy, of the conqueror. His throne was encompassed with domestic enemies, who accused the baseness of his birth and asserted the legitimate claims of his nephews, the sons of Gonderic. Those nephews, indeed, he sacrificed to his safety; and their mother, the widow of the deceased king, was precipitated, by his order, into the river Ampsaga. But the public discontent burst forth in dangerous and frequent conspiracies; and the warlike tyrant is supposed to have shed more Vandal blood by the hand of the executioner than in the field of battle.37 The convulsions of Africa, which had favoured his attack, opposed the firm establishment of his power, and the various seditions of the Moors Edition: current; Page: [355] and Germans, the Donatists and Catholics, continually disturbed, or threatened, the unsettled reign of the conqueror. As he advanced towards Carthage, he was forced to withdraw his troops from the Western provinces; the sea-coast was exposed to the naval enterprises of the Romans of Spain and Italy; and, in the heart of Numidia, the strong inland city of Cirta still persisted in obstinate independence.38 These difficulties were gradually subdued by the spirit, the perseverance, and the cruelty of Genseric, who alternately applied the arts of peace and war to the establishment of his African kingdom. He subscribed a solemn treaty, with the hope of deriving some advantage from the term of its continuance and the moment of its violation. The vigilance of his enemies was relaxed by the protestations of friendship which concealed his hostile approach; and Carthage was at length surprised by the Vandals, five hundred and eighty-five years after the destruction of the city and republic by the younger Scipio.39

A new city had arisen from its ruins, with the title of a colony; and, though Carthage might yield to the royal prerogatives of Constantinople, and perhaps to the trade of Alexandria or the splendour of Antioch, she still maintained the second rank in the West; as the Rome (if we may use the style of contemporaries) of the African world. That wealthy and opulent metropolis40 displayed, in a dependent condition, the image of a flourishing republic. Carthage contained the manufactures, the arms, and the treasures of the Edition: current; Page: [356] six provinces. A regular subordination of civil honours gradually ascended from the procurators of the streets and quarters of the city to the tribunal of the supreme magistrate, who, with the title of proconsul, represented the state and dignity of a consul of ancient Rome. Schools and gymnasia were instituted for the education of the African youth, and the liberal arts and manners, grammar, rhetoric, and philosophy, were publicly taught in the Greek and Latin languages. The buildings of Carthage were uniform and magnificent; a shady grove was planted in the midst of the capital; the new port, a secure and capacious harbour, was subservient to the commercial industry of citizens and strangers; and the splendid games of the circus and theatre were exhibited almost in the presence of the Barbarians. The reputation of the Carthaginians was not equal to that of their country, and the reproach of Punic faith still adhered to their subtle and faithless character.41 The habits of trade and the abuse of luxury had corrupted their manners; but their impious contempt of monks and the shameless practice of unnatural lusts are the two abominations which excite the pious vehemence of Salvian, the preacher of the age.42 The king of the Vandals severely reformed the vices of a voluptuous people; and the ancient, noble, ingenuous freedom of Carthage (these expressions of Victor are not without energy) was reduced by Genseric into a state of ignominious servitude. Edition: current; Page: [357] After he had permitted his licentious troops to satiate their rage and avarice, he instituted a more regular system of rapine and oppression. An edict was promulgated, which enjoined all persons, without fraud or delay, to deliver their gold, silver, jewels, and valuable furniture or apparel to the royal officers; and the attempt to secrete any part of their patrimony was inexorably punished with death and torture, as an act of treason against the state. The lands of the proconsular province, which formed the immediate district of Carthage, were accurately measured and divided among the Barbarians; and the conqueror reserved for his peculiar domain the fertile territory of Byzacium, and the adjacent parts of Numidia and Getulia.43

It was natural enough that Genseric should hate those whom he had injured; the nobility and senators of Carthage were exposed to his jealousy and resentment; and all those who refused the ignominious terms, which their honour and religion forbade them to accept, were compelled by the Arian tyrant to embrace the condition of perpetual banishment. Rome, Italy, and the provinces of the East were filled with a crowd of exiles, of fugitives, and of ingenuous captives, who solicited the public compassion; and the benevolent epistles of Theodoret still preserve the names and misfortunes of Cælestian and Maria.44 The Syrian bishop deplores the misfortunes of Cælestian, who, from the state of a noble and opulent senator of Carthage, was reduced, with his wife and family, and servants, to beg his bread in a foreign country; but he applauds the resignation of the Christian exile, and the philosophic temper which, under the pressure of such calamities, could enjoy more real happiness than was the ordinary lot of wealth and prosperity. The story of Maria, the daughter of the magnificent Eudæmon, is singular and Edition: current; Page: [358] interesting. In the sack of Carthage, she was purchased from the Vandals by some merchants of Syria, who afterwards sold her as a slave in their native country. A female attendant, transported in the same ship, and sold in the same family, still continued to respect a mistress whom fortune had reduced to the common level of servitude; and the daughter of Eudæmon received from her grateful affection the domestic services which she had once required from her obedience. This remarkable behaviour divulged the real condition of Maria, who, in the absence of the bishop of Cyrrhus, was redeemed from slavery by the generosity of some soldiers of the garrison. The liberality of Theodoret provided for her decent maintenance; and she passed ten months among the deaconesses of the church; till she was unexpectedly informed that her father, who had escaped from the ruin of Carthage, exercised an honourable office in one of the Western provinces. Her filial impatience was seconded by the pious bishop: Theodoret, in a letter still extant, recommends Maria to the bishop of Ægæ, a maritime city of Cilicia, which was frequented, during the annual fair, by the vessels of the West, most earnestly requesting that his colleague would use the maiden with a tenderness suitable to her birth, and that he would entrust her to the care of such faithful merchants as would esteem it a sufficient gain if they restored a daughter, lost beyond all human hope, to the arms of her afflicted parent.

Among the insipid legends of ecclesiastical history, I am tempted to distinguish the memorable fable of the Seven Sleepers;45 whose imaginary date corresponds with the reign of the younger Theodosius and the conquest of Africa Edition: current; Page: [359] by the Vandals.46 When the emperor Decius persecuted the Christians, seven noble youths of Ephesus concealed themselves in a spacious cavern in the side of an adjacent mountain; where they were doomed to perish by the tyrant, who gave orders that the entrance should be firmly secured with a pile of huge stones. They immediately fell into a deep slumber, which was miraculously prolonged, without injuring the powers of life, during a period of one hundred and eighty-seven years. At the end of that time, the slaves of Adolius, to whom the inheritance of the mountain had descended, removed the stones, to supply materials for some rustic edifice; the light of the sun darted into the cavern, and the seven sleepers were permitted to awake. After a slumber, as they thought, of a few hours, they were pressed by the calls of hunger; and resolved that Jamblichus, one of their number, should secretly return to the city, to purchase bread for the use of his companions. The youth (if we may still employ that appellation) could no longer recognise the once familiar aspect of his native country; and his surprise was increased by the appearance of a large cross, triumphantly erected over the principal gate of Ephesus. His singular dress and obsolete language confounded the baker, to whom he offered an ancient medal of Decius as the current coin of the empire; and Jamblichus, on the suspicion of a secret treasure, was dragged before the judge. Their mutual inquiries produced the amazing discovery that two centuries were almost elapsed since Jamblichus and his friends had escaped from the rage of a Pagan tyrant. The bishop of Ephesus, the clergy, the magistrates, the people, and, as it is Edition: current; Page: [360] said, the emperor Theodosius himself, hastened to visit the cavern of the Seven Sleepers; who bestowed their benediction, related their story, and at the same instant peaceably expired. The origin of this marvellous fable cannot be ascribed to the pious fraud and credulity of the modern Greeks, since the authentic tradition may be traced within half a century of the supposed miracle. James of Sarug, a Syrian bishop, who was born only two years after the death of the younger Theodosius, has devoted one of his two hundred and thirty homilies to the praise of the young men of Ephesus.47 Their legend, before the end of the sixth century, was translated from the Syriac into the Latin language, by the care of Gregory of Tours. The hostile communions of the East preserve their memory with equal reverence; and their names are honourably inscribed in the Roman, the Abyssinian, and the Russian calendar.48 Nor has their reputation been confined to the Christian world. This popular tale, which Mahomet might learn when he drove his camels to the fairs of Syria, is introduced, as a divine revelation, into the Koran.49 The story of the Seven Sleepers has Edition: current; Page: [361] been adopted, and adorned, by the nations, from Bengal to Africa, who profess the Mahometan religion;50 and some vestiges of a similar tradition have been discovered in the remote extremities of Scandinavia.51 This easy and universal belief, so expressive of the sense of mankind, may be ascribed to the genuine merit of the fable itself. We imperceptibly advance from youth to age, without observing the gradual, but incessant, change of human affairs, and, even in our larger experiences of history, the imagination is accustomed, by a perpetual series of causes and effects, to unite the most distant revolutions. But, if the interval between two memorable eras could be instantly annihilated; if it were possible, after a momentary slumber of two hundred years, to display the new world to the eyes of a spectator, who still retained a lively and recent impression of the old; his surprise and his reflections would furnish the pleasing subject of a philosophical romance. The scene could not be more advantageously placed than in the two centuries which elapsed between the reigns of Decius and of Theodosius the younger. During this period, the seat of government had been transported from Rome to a new city on the banks of the Thracian Bosphorus; and the abuse of military spirit had been suppressed by an artificial system of tame and ceremonious servitude. The throne of the persecuting Decius was filled by a succession of Christian and orthodox princes, who had extirpated the fabulous gods of antiquity; and the public devotion Edition: current; Page: [362] of the age was impatient to exalt the saints and martyrs of the Catholic church on the altars of Diana and Hercules. The union of the Roman empire was dissolved; its genius was humbled in the dust; and armies of unknown Barbarians, issuing from the frozen regions of the North, had established their victorious reign over the fairest provinces of Europe and Africa.

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The humorous description of the interest taken in theological subtelties by the mechanics and slaves of Constantinople is quoted by Gibbon on the authority of Jortin, but Gibbon acknowledges that he does not know where it comes from, and implies that Jortin does not state his source.

A striking instance of the slumbers of Homer. Jortin indeed omits to give the reference, but he expressly ascribes the passage to “Gregory,” that is, Gregory of Nyssa, with whom he is dealing in the context. It would seem from Gibbon’s note that he took Gregory to be the Nazianzen.

The passage occurs in Gregory Nyssen’s Oratio de deitate Filii et Spiritus Sancti (Migne, Patr. Gr. 46, p. 557) and runs as follows: —

ἐὰν περὶ τω̂ν ὀβολω̂ν ἐρωτήσῃς ὁ δέ σοι περὶ γεννητον̂ καὶ ἀγεννήτου ἐϕιλοσόϕησε κἂν περὶ τιμήματος ἄρτου πύθοιο, Μείζων ὁ πατὴρ, ἀποκρίνεται, καὶ ὁ υἰὸς ὑποχείριος. εἱ δὲ, Τὸ λουτρὸν ἐπιτήδειόν ἐστιν, εἴποις, ὁ δὲ ἐξ οὐκ τὸν υἰὸν εɩ̂̓ναι διωρίσατο.

2.: DID THEODOSIUS VISIT ROME IN ad 394? — (P. 66)

According to Zosimus (iv. 59 and v. 30), Theodosius went to Rome after the battle of the Frigidus. This is likewise attested by Prudentius (against Symm., i.), and is implied in Theodoret’s statement, in reference to the visit of ad 389, χρόνου δὲ συχνον̂ διελθόντος εἰς τὴν Ῥώμην ἀϕικόμενος πάλιν ὁ βασιλεύς. This evidence has been accepted by Jeep; but the objections urged by Tillemont against it seem quite decisive, and it is rejected by Clinton and most authorities. It is a case of a confusion between the suppression of Maximus and the suppression of Eugenius; the visit to Rome after the second war is merely a duplicate of the visit after the first war. Guldenpenning thinks that Theodosius sent a message to the senate signifying his will that pagan worship should cease (Der Kaiser Theodosios, p. 229-30).


“The valuable library of Alexandria was pillaged or destroyed.” That is, the lesser library in the Serapeum, which was situated in the Rhacôtis quarter of the city. Gibbon has failed to distinguish it from the great Library of the Brucheum, of which Zenodotus, Callimachus, and other famous scholars were Edition: current; Page: [364] librarians. This Library is said to have been burnt down when Cæsar was in Alexandria (but see Mahaffy, Egypt under the Ptolemies, p. 454).

For the distinction of the two libraries see Epiphanius, de mensuris et ponderibus, 168 (Migne, Patr. Gr. vol. 43, p. 256): ἔτι δὲ ὕστερον καὶ ἑτέρα ἐγένετο βιβλιοθήκη ἐν τῷ Σεραπίῳ [sic] μικροτέρα τη̂ς πρώτης, ἥτις καὶ θυγατὴρ ὠνομάσθη αὐτη̂ς. For the first or mother library, see ib. 166 (Migne, p. 249). For other references see Susemihl, Geschichte der alexandrinischen Litteratur, i. p. 336.

But is it an attested fact that the lesser or daughter library was destroyed in ad 391? The sanctuary of Serapis was demolished, but does that imply the demolition of all the buildings connected with the Serapeum?2 The only evidence on which Gibbon’s statement rests is the sentence which he quotes from Orosius (p. 87, n. 53). But Orosius does not mention the Serapeum or speak of a large library. He merely says that he had seen bookcases in temples (which he does not name); and that, since then, he had been informed that the temples had been pillaged and the bookcases emptied. It seems to me highly improbable that Orosius is thinking either of the Alexandrian library or of the Serapeum. There is no reason to suppose that the library was in the temple. I conclude then that there is no evidence that the library of the Serapeum did not survive till the Saracen conquest, notwithstanding the verdict of Susemihl (ib. 344): “Omar fand 642 schwerlich noch Bücher in Alexandreia zu verbrennen.”

4.: WORSHIP OF RELICS — (P. 98, 99)

In Gregory Nyssen’s Encomium of St. Theodore (Migne, vol. 46, 736 sqq.) there are passages, which, coming from such an eminent and learned ecclesiastic, are an important illustration of the growth of the veneration of relics. For example, he says: — εἰ δὲ καὶ κόνιν τις δοίη ϕέρειν τὴν ἐπικειμένην τῃ̑ ἐπιϕανείᾳ τη̂ς ἀναπαύσεως, δω̂ρον ὸ χον̂ς λαμβάνεται, καὶ ὼς κειμήλιον ἡ γη̂ θησαυρἰζεται. τὸ γὰρ αὐτον̂ τον̂ λειψάνου προσάψασθαι, εἴ ποτέ τις ἐπιτυχία τοιαύτη παράσχοι τὴν ἐξουσίαν, ὄπως ἐστὶ πολυπόθητον, καὶ εὐχη̂ς τη̂ς ἀνωτάτω τὸ δω̂ρον ἴσασιν οἱ πεπειραμένοι καὶ τη̂ς τοιαύτης ἐπιθυμίας ἐμϕορηθέντες . . . τὸ μὲν ἁπλω̂ς ἀποθανὸν ῤίπτεται ὡς τὸ τυχόν· τὸ δὲ τῷ πάθει τον̂ μαρτυρίου χαριτωθὲν, οὕτως ἐστὶν ἐράσμιον καὶ ἀμϕισβητήσιμον, ὼς ὸ προλαβω̂ν λόγος ἐδίδαξεν (p. 740).

5.: STILICHO IN INSCRIPTIONS — (P. 119, 134, 159)

The inscription celebrating the rescue of Africa by Stilicho, referred to by Gibbon, p. 119 (note) and p. 134 (note), will be found in C.I.L. vi. 1730. It runs as follows: —

  • Flavio Stilichoni inlustrissimo viro, magistro equitum peditumque
  • comiti domesticorum, tribuno prætoriano, et ab ineunte ætate
  • per gradus clarissimæ militiæ ad columen sempiternæ
  • et regiæ adfinitatis evecto, progenero Divi Theodosi, comiti
  • Divi Theodosi in omnibus bellis adque victoriis et ab eo in
  • adfinitatem regiam cooptato itemque socero D. N. Honori
  • Augusti Africa consiliis suis et provisione liberata.
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For inscriptions referring to the restoration of the “walls, gates, and towers” of Rome, undertaken through Stilicho’s influence before Alaric’s first invasion of Italy, see C.I.L. vi. 1188-1190.

Another inscription records Stilicho’s victory over Radagaisus: C.I.L. 6, 1196 (p. 249). Gibbon (after Mascou) refers it to the Gothic was of 402-3, and expresses surprise at the description of Alaric’s defeat as the total extinction of the Gothic nation (p. 159). Pallman took the same view (Volkerwand, p. 243); but the title is rightly referred in the Corpus (loc. cit.) to the events of 405.

Imppp. clementissimis felicissimis toto orbe victoribus DDD NNn Arcadio Honorio Theodosio Auggg. ad perenne indicium triumphorum quod Getarum nationem in omne ævum docuere extingui arcum simulacris eorum tropæisq decoratum S.P.Q.R. totius operis splendore.


An unwary reader of Gibbon might fail to realise that on two separate occasions Stilicho came, an unwelcome helper, to the assistance of Arcadius in the Illyric peninsula. As there has been a difficulty about the dates, and as Zosimus inverts the order of events, it is important to grasp this clearly. On the first occasion (ad 395) Stilicho started from Italy in spring (Claudian, in Rufin. 2, 101), came up with Alaric in Thessaly, and was then commanded to return, before he had accomplished anything, by an order of Arcadius. Gainas and the Eastern troops went to Constantinople, and Rufinus met his fate; while Stilicho returned to Italy. In the following year (ad 396), when Alaric was in southern Greece, Stilicho again, came to help the realm of Arcadius, landed at Corinth, blockaded Alaric in Pholoe, and allowed him to escape. (Zosimus, v. 7, places the blockade of Pholoe before the death of Rufinus. The charge of Zosimus that Stilicho indulged in debauchery in Elis cannot safely be pressed; for the phrase he uses is borrowed from Julian’s Misopogon. See Mendelssohn, ad. loc.)

ad 395. Claudian represents Alaric as shutting himself up in a fortified camp on the news of Stilicho’s approach (in Ruf. 2, 124-9). Stilicho arrives in Thessaly (implet Thessaliam ferri nitor, l. 179) and prepares to attack the enemy. If he had been permitted to do so, the invasion of Greece would have been averted (186 sqq.), but alas! regia mandata arrive from Arcadius, and he has to sacrifice the “publica commoda” to the duty of obedience. This must have been about the beginning of November, if Rufinus was slain on 27th November (as Socrates states, vi. 1; cp. Chron. Pasch. ad ann.). Thus the advance of Stilicho from Italy to Thessaly would have occupied more than six months. What was the cause of this delay? It is significant that the charge brought against Rufinus by Claudian of having incited the Visigoths to the invasion of Greece is uttered only as a suspicion by Socrates (loc. cit., δόξαν ε[Editor: illegible character]χεν ὡς κ.τ.λ. “was supposed to have,” &c.); in the following century the suspicion has developed into a positive statement in the chronicle of Count Marcellinus ad ann. (Alaricum . . . infestum reipublicae fecit et in Graeciam misit).

ad 396. (Gibbon wrongly places the events of this year in ad 397. It is not clear why he deserts the guidance of Tillemont.) Stilicho landed at the Isthmus (Zosimus, 5, 7), and is said to have had Alaric at his mercy at Edition: current; Page: [366] Pholoe. Three views have been held as to the escape of Alaric: (1) he out-witted Stilicho, who was culpably negligent (cp. Zosimus); (2) the suggestion of Claudian (B.G. 516) that Arcadius and his ministers, jealous of Stilicho’s intervention, treated with Alaric and secured his retreat, might be supported by the circumstance that Arcadius created him Master of Soldiers in Illyricum soon afterwards; (3) Stilicho is supposed to have made a secret treaty with Alaric, and permitted his retreat, for purposes of his own.

It is certain that Stilicho’s assertion of the unity of the Empire by appearing with armed forces in the Prefecture of Illyricum was viewed with suspicion and distrust at Constantinople. The feeling at the court of Arcadius is aptly expressed in words which Claudian has put into the mouth of Rufinus (in Ruf. 2, 161): —

  • Deserat (sc. Stilicho) Illyrici fines, Eoa remittat
  • agmina, fraternas ex aequo dividat hastas.

It is certain too that Stilicho afterwards, if not in ad 396, made it the aim of his policy to detach Illyricum from Arcadius and add it to the realm of Honorius. This is stated in so many words by Zosimus (v. 26), and it was doubtless Stilicho’s object from the beginning. This is the view of Jung (Römer and Romanen, p. 188: ich sehe darin vielmehr die consequente Verfolgung der durch Stilicho von Anfang an beabsichtigten Politik), who has some good remarks on the geographical importance of Illyricum; the unsatisfactoriness of the line of division of 395 which cut off Dalmatia from the rest of the Balkan peninsula (p. 186); and the circumstance that all northern Illyricum belonged to the Latin-speaking part of the Empire.

After the first invasion of Italy, Stilicho intended to use the help of Alaric for this purpose, and established him on the borders of the territory on which he had designs; but the execution of the plan was continually deferred, on account of other events which claimed the care of Stilicho. Alaric during this time was playing his own game, between the courts of Ravenna and Constantinople. His object was to obtain permanently Dalmatia, Noricum, Istria, and Venetia, with a regular grant of money from the Empire. This was what he asked in 410 (Zos. v. 48), and his aim throughout was doubtless a settlement of this kind.

The certainty that from ad 402 forward Stilicho made use of Alaric for his Illyric designs rouses the suspicion that he was playing with Alaric, with the same intent, in ad 395 and 396. The famous words of Orosius (vii. 37): Alarico rege cum Gothis suis saepe victo saepe concluso semperque dimisso, are strikingly true of Pollentia, of Verona, and of Pholoe; I suspect that they are also true of the campaign of ad 395, and that the unaccountable delay between Stilicho’s start in the spring and his return to Italy in Oct.-Nov. was due to diplomatic dallyings with Alaric. Of course nothing would be said of that by Claudian.

While Stilicho aimed at annexing eastern Illyricum, the court of Constantinople aimed at the acquisition of Dalmatia. Olympiodorus says that Stilicho employed Alaric to defend it (fr. 3). The object was pursued in the reign of Theodosius ii. and was finally attained at the marriage of Eudoxia with Valentinian iii., when the boundary was changed to the advantage of the East. Compare Cassiodorius, Var. ep. 1, Güldenpenning, das oström. Reich, p. 310. But even as early as ad 414-15 there is epigraphic evidence suggesting the conclusion that at that time Salonae was under the government of Constantinople. See Jung, op. cit. p. 187 note.

It is possible to regard (with Keller; Stilicho, p. 27) Stilicho’s special Edition: current; Page: [367] Illyric policy and his relations with Alaric as part of a larger policy which had two chief aims: to maintain the unity of the Empire, under two emperors, and to infuse new blood into it by absorbing barbarians. Stilicho’s policy has been generally misunderstood. A monograph appeared in the year 1805 with the curious title: Flavius Stilicho, ein Wallenstein der Vorwelt (by C. F. Schulz).

7.: ALARIC IN GREECE — (P. 140-143)

Though no record tells that Alaric burnt down the Temple of Eleusis, it is certain that the invasion of the Goths was coincident with the end of the Eleusinian mysteries. The sanctuary of the two goddesses must have already suffered much under Jovian and Theodosius. The cult, restored by Julian, was suppressed by Jovian, but renewed again under Valentinian through the intervention of Praetextatus, proconsul of Achaia. It must have been affected by the intolerant edicts of Theodosius; certainly the demonstration of the Christian section of the Athenian community forced the last Eumolpid high priest to resign. Subsequently — probably on the death of Theodosius — the pagan party felt themselves strong enough to appoint, as hierophant, a priest of Mithras from Thespiae, and he persided at Eleusis at the time of Alaric’s invasion.

See Gregorovius, Hat Alarich die Nationalgötter Griechenlands zerstört? (Kleine Schriften, vol. i.), and Geschichte der Stadt Athen im Mittelalter, i. p. 35 sqq.

As for Athens, there is no doubt that it capitulated and was spared by Alaric, and that the Goths did not destroy or rob its art treasures. Athens suffered, as Gregorovius remarks, less in the invasion of Alaric than in the invasion in the time of Dexippus. There were of course acts of cruelty; some are recorded in the Vita Prisci of Eunapius. But we must not press the words of Claudian (in Rufin. ii. 189): nec fera Cecropiae traxissent vincula matres, further than at the most to interpret it of the rural inhabitants of Attica. Gregorovius observes that in the other passages where the devastation of Greece is mentioned (iv. Cons. Hon. 471, Eutrop. 2, 199, cons. Stil. i. 180), there is not a word about Athens.

As to the Zeus-temple of Olympia, it is supposed that the Phidiac statue of Zeus had been removed about two years before the Gothic invasion (in ad 394, when Theodosius suppressed the Olympic games) to Constantinople and was afterwards burned in the Palace of Lausus. Cp. Cedrenus, i. p. 364 (Gregorovius i. p. 43). The temple of Olympia was burnt down in the reign of Theodosius ii.

The general conclusion of Gregorovius is that it is a gross exaggeration to ascribe to the Goths the deliberate destruction of the temples and sanctuaries of Greece.


The clear voice which Alaric heard in the grove uttered an acrostich with the help of Claudian’s art. It has been pointed out that the first and last letters of the two verses (B.G. 546-7) spell ROMA.

  • R umpe omnes, Alarice moras; hoc impiger annO
  • A lipibus Italiae ruptis penetrabis ad urbeM.

So it is printed in Koch’s edition.

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9.: ALARIC’S FIRST INVASION OF ITALY — (P. 148, 151 sqq.)

That the battle of Pollentia was fought in 402 is now universally agreed by all competent historians; there is no conflict of evidence on the matter, and there is nothing to be said for 403.1 But there is still room for difference of opinion as to the date of Alaric’s entry into Italy, and possibly as to the date of the battle of Verona.

(1) We have to set the statements of two chronicles against each other. On one hand Prosper, sub ann. 400: Gothi Italiam . . . ingressi (see next Appendix). On the other, the Fasti Vindobonenses (Chronica Italica; see above, vol. iv. Appendix 5, p. 353) have, sub anno 401, the more precise notice: et intravit Alaricus in Italiam, xiv. kl. December.2

Pallmann (followed by Hodgkin) accepts the date of Prosper. Tillemont, also accepting Prosper, but putting (in spite of Prosper) the battle of Pollentia in 403, found himself driven to assume that Alaric having invaded Italy in 400 was driven out of it in 401 and returned in 402 — in fact a double invasion.

As there is little or nothing to choose between Prosper and the Fasti Vindobonenses — both being equally prone to error — we may be disposed to allow the argument of Seeck3 (approved by Birt) to determine us in preferring the date of the Fasti Vindobonenses. In describing the entry of the Goths Claudian speaks of constant eclipses of the moon among the terrors which preyed upon men’s minds: —

  • territat adsiduus lunæ labor atraque Phœbe
  • noctibus aerisonas crebris ululata per urbes.
  • nec credunt vetito fraudatam Sole sororem
  • telluris subeunte globo sed castra secutas
  • barbara Thessalidas patriis lunare venenis
  • incestare iubar.
  • (B.G. 233 sqq.)

These data (cp. adsiduus) are satisfied by the two lunar eclipses which took place on June 21 and December 6, ad 401.

After Pollentia, there must have been another engagement at Asta (vi. cons. Hon. 203). Keller thinks that this took place before that of Pollentia. In any case Gibbon is wrong in supposing that Asta was the town in which Honorius was shut up, till delivered by Stilicho. Honorius was in Milan, as is clear from Claudian’s description (ib. 456 sqq.). To reach Asta Stilicho would have had to cross not only the Addua (488), but the Padus (which is not mentioned).

(2) That the battle of Verona did not take place later than ad 403 is proved by the fact that it is celebrated in the Panegyric composed by Claudian before the end of that year for the sixth consulate of Honorius, which began on Jan. 1, ad 405. That it took place in summer is proved by a line of that poem (our only source for the battle): —

sustinet accensos aestivo pulvere soles

(vi. cons. 215).

Those therefore who like Tillemont and Gibbon set Pollentia in spring 403 Edition: current; Page: [369] were obliged to set Verona in the summer of the same year. The question therefore arises whether, when we have moved Pollentia a year back, we are to move Verona along with it. Pallmann leaves Verona where it was in 403, and he is followed hesitatingly by Mr. Hodgkin. That the victory of Verona was won in 403, and that more than a year elapsed between the two battles, has, I think, been proved convincingly by Birt (Preface to ed. of Claudian, liv.-v.). The argument is that, if Verona had been fought in 402, the long interval of sixteen months would have stultified the whole tone of Claudian’s poem, which breathes the triumph of a recent victory. Such a line as

et sextas Getica praevelans fronde secures


is inconceivable on any save the first First of January following the victory. Cp. also lines 406, 580, 653. The transition in l. 201 is suggestive of a considerable interval between the two battles —

  • te quoque non parvum Getico, Verona, triumpho
  • adiungis cumulum nec plus Pollentia rebus
  • contulit Ausoniis aut moenia vindicis Hastae.

The resulting chronology is: —

  • ad 401. Alaric enters Italy (Venetia) in November; at the same time Radagaisus (see next Appendix) invades Raetia. Stilicho advances against Radagaisus.
  • ad 402. Battle of Pollentia on Easter Day.
  • ad 402-403. Alaric in Istria.
  • ad 403, Summer. Alaric again moves westward; Battle of Verona.

10.: RADAGAISUS — (P. 167)

Radagaisus invaded Italy in 405 ad, at the head of an army of barbarians. He was defeated by Stilicho on the hills of Faesulae. There is no doubt about these facts, in which our Western authorities agree, Orosius (vii. 37), Prosper, ad ann. 405, and Paulinus (Vita Ambrosii, c. 50). Prosper’s notice is: Radagaisus in Tuscia multis Gothorum milibus cæsis, ducente exercitum Stilichone, superatus et captus est. But Zosimus (v. 26) places the defeat of Radagaisus on the Ister. “A strange error,” Gibbon remarks, “which is awkwardly and imperfectly cured by reading Ἄρνον for Ἴστρον.” Awkwardly and contrariwise to every principle of criticism. It is an emendation of Leunclavius, and Reitemeier’s Ἠριδανὸν is no better. But Zosimus knew where the Danube was, and the critic has to explain his mistake.

From Gibbon’s narrative one would draw the conclusion that this invasion of Italy in 405 (406 Gibbon incorrectly; see Clinton, ad ann.) was the first occasion on which Radagaisus appeared on the stage of Imperial events. But he appeared before. A notice of Prosper, which there is not the smallest cause to question, represents him as co-operating with Alaric, when Alaric invaded Italy. Under the year 400 (there may be reason for questioning the year; see last Appendix) in his Chronicle we find the record: Gothi Italiam Alarico et Radagaiso ducibus ingressi. It is perfectly arbitary to assume that the notice of the action of Radagaisus on this occasion is a mere erroneous duplication of his action, which is separately and distinctly recorded under the year 405. Pallmann emphasised the importance of the earlier notice of Prosper, and made a suggestion which has been adopted Edition: current; Page: [370] and developed by Mr. Hodgkin (i. p. 711, 716, 736), that Alaric and Radagaisus combined to attack Italia, Alaric operating in Venetia and his confederate in Raetia in ad 400-1, and that the winter campaign of Stilicho in Raetia in ad 401-2, of which Claudian speaks, was directed against Radagaisus. This combination has everything to recommend it. The passages in Claudian are as follows: —

Bell. Goth. 279 sqq. Non si perfidia nacti penetrabile tempus inrupere Getae, nostras dum Raetia vires occupat atque alio desudant Marte cohortes idcirco spes omnis abit, &c.
Bell. Goth. 329 sqq.      sublimis in Arcton prominet Hercyniae confinis Raetia silvae quae se Danuvii iactat Rhenique parentem utraque Romuleo praetendens flumina regno: &c.
Bell. Goth. 363 sqq.      iam foedera gentes exuerant Latiique audita clade feroces Vindelicos saltus et Norica rura tenebant, &c.
Bell. Goth. 414, 5. adcurrit vicina manus, quam Raetia nuper Vandalicis auctam spoliis defensa probavit.

Leaving aside the question whether (as Birt thinks) the barbarians whom Radagaisus headed in Raetia were the Vandals and Alans who invaded Gaul in 406, we may without hesitation accept the conclusion that in 401 Radagaisus was at the head of Vandals and other barbarians in Raetia. Birt points out the statement that Radagaisus had intended to cross into Italy (εἰς τὴν Ἰταλιαν ὥρμητο διαβη̂ναι), with which Zosimus introduces his account of the overthrow of Radagaisus by Stilicho; and proposes to refer that statement not to the campaign of 405 but to that of 401.

It was satisfactory to find that Birt had already taken a step in a direction in which I had been led before I studied his Preface to Claudian. The fact is that Zosimus really recounts the campaign of 401, as if it were the campaign of 405. His story is that Radagaisus prepared to invade Italy. The news created great terror, and Stilicho broke up with the army from Ticinum, and with as many Alans and Huns as he could muster, without waiting for the attack, crossed the Ister, and assailing the barbarians unexpectedly utterly destroyed their host. This is the campaign of the winter of 401-2, of which we know from Claudian’s Gothic War; only that (1) Zosimus, placing it in 405, has added one feature of the actual campaign in 405, namely the all but total annihilation of the army of Radagaisus, and that (2) Zosimus, in placing the final action beyond the Danube, differs from Claudian, who places it in Noricum or Vindelicia (l. 365, cited above) and does not mention that Stilicho crossed the river. But the winter campaign was in Danubian regions; and the main difficulty, the appearance of the Danube in the narrative of Zosimus, seems to be satisfactorily accounted for by the assumption of this confusion between the two Radagaisus episodes, a confusion which must be ascribed to Zosimus himself rather than to his source Olympiodorus.1

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A new tyrant in Britain at the beginning of the fifth century was discovered by Mr. Arthur Evans through a coin found at Richborough (Rutupiae). See Numismatic Chronicle, 3rd ser. vol. vii. p. 191 sqq., 1887. The obverse of this bronze coin “presents a head modelled in a somewhat barbarous fashion on that of a fourth century Emperor, diademed and with the bust draped in the paludamentum.” The legend is: DOMINO CARAVS IO CES. “The reverse presents a familiar bronze type of Constans or Constantius ii. The Emperor holding phoenix and labarum standard stands at the prow of the vessel, the rudder of which is held by Victory. In the present case, however, in place of the usual legend that accompanies this reverse — FEL. TEMP. REPARATIO — appears the strange and unparalelled inscription: —

DOMIN . . . CONTA . . . NO”

This coin cannot be ascribed to the well-known Carausius of Diocletian’s reign; for the type of the reverse is never found before the middle of the fourth century. The DOMINO (without a pronoun — nostro) on the obverse is quite unexampled on a Roman coin. Mr. Evans conjectures that CONSTANTINO is to be read on the reverse and makes it probable that this obscure Carausius was colleague of Constantine iii., left behind by him, with the title of Caesar, to hold the island while he was himself absent in Gaul; and would refer the issue of the coin to ad 409. “The memory of the brave Carausius, who first raised Britain to a position of maritime supremacy, may have influenced the choice of this obscure Caesar, at a moment when the Romano-British population was about to assert as it had never done before its independence of Continental Empire.” Whether chosen by Constantine or not the coin “may at least be taken as evidence that the new Caesar stood forth as the representative of the interests of the Constantinian dynasty in the island as against the faction of the rebel Gerontius and his barbarian allies.”


The best account of the rise, reign, and fall of the tyrant Constantine, ruler of Britain, Gaul, and Spain, will be found in Mr. Freeman’s article, “Tyrants of Britain, Gaul and Spain,” in English Historical Review, vol. i. (1886) p. 53 sqq.

At first, in 407, Constantine’s Gallic dominions “must have consisted of a long and narrow strip of eastern Gaul, from the Channel to the Mediterranean, which could not have differed very widely from the earliest and most extended of the many uses of the word Lotharingia.” That he was acknowledged in Trier is proved by the evidence of coins (Eckhel, 8, 176). Then he moves down to the land between Rhone and Alps, which becomes the chief theatre of operations, and Arelate becomes his capital. His son Constans he creates Caesar, and a younger son Julian nobilissimus. Early in 408 Sarus is sent against him by Stilicho. Sarus gains a victory over Constantine’s officer (Justinian); and lays siege to Valentia, in which Constantine secured himself. But he raises the siege on the seventh day, on account of the approach of Constantine’s able general Gerontius, from whom he with difficulty escapes (by coming to an understanding with the Bagaudae, who appear to act as a sort of national militia) into Italy.

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Constantine’s next step is to extend his rule over the rest of the Gallic prefecture, — Spain. We are left quite in the dark as to his relations with the Barbarians who in these years (407-9) were ravaging Gaul. Spain at first submitted to those whom Constantine sent; but very soon the influential Theodosian family organised a revolt against it. The main part of the resistance came from Lusitania, where the four Theodosian brothers had most influence. The rustic army that was collected was set to guard the Pyrenees. To put down the rising, Constantine sent troops a second time into Spain — this time under the Caesar Constans, who was accompanied by Gerontius and by Appollinaris (grandfather of the poet Sidonius), who accepted the office of Praetorian Prefect from Constantine. The Theodosian revolt was suppressed; Constans set up his court in Caesar-augusta (Zaragoza), but soon returned to Gaul, leaving Gerontius to defend Spain.

The sources for this story are Orosius, Sozomen, and Zosimus. For the Spanish events we have no fragments of Olympiodorus. “On the other hand the local knowledge of Orosius goes for something, and Sozomen seems to have gained, from some quarter or other, a singular knowledge of detail of some parts of the story” (Freeman, p. 65). It is practically certain that Sozomen’s source (as well as that of Zosimus) was Olympiodorus (cp. above, vol. ii. Appendix 10, p. 365).

Thus master of the West, Constantine forces Honorius, then (ad 409) too weak to resist, to acknowledge him as his colleague and legitimate Augustus. Later in the year he enters Italy with an army, avowedly to help Honorius against Alaric (so Olympiodorus), his real motive being to annex Italy to his own realm (Soz. ix. 12). At this time he probably raised Constans to the rank of Augustus. It appears that Constantine was in league with Allobich, the general of Honorius, to compass his treasonable designs. They were discovered, Allobich was cut down, and then Constantine, who had not yet reached Ravenna, turned back.

Meanwhile the revolt of Gerontius in Spain had broken out, and Constans went to put it down. Gibbon’s account of the revolt is inadequate, in so far as he does not point out its connection with the invasion of Spain by the Vandals, Sueves, and Alans. There is no doubt that Gerontius and Maximus invited them to cross the Pyrenees. (Cp. Olymp.; Oros. 7, 28; Sozom. ix. 113; Zos. 6, 5; Renatus, in Gregory of Tours, 2, 9; Freeman, p. 74: “The evidence seems to go for direct dealings between Gerontius and the invaders, and his treaty with them is more likely to have followed the proclamation of Maximus than to have gone before it.”) The dominion of Maximus was practically confined to the northwestern corner; the seat of his rule was Tarraco. As for the relation of Maximus to Gerontius, it is very doubtful whether παɩ̂δα in Olympiodorus is to be interpreted son and not rather servant or retainer.

The rest of the episode of Constantine’s reign — the sieges of Vienna (which, some have suspected, is a mistake for Narbo) and Arelate — have been well told by Gibbon. These events must be placed in the year 411; for Constantine’s head arrived at Ravenna on 18th September (Idatius ad ann.), and it was in the fourth month of the siege of Arelate that Edobich’s troops came on the scene (Renatus ap. Greg. Tur. ii. 9).

Mr. Freeman thus contrasts the position of Constantine with that of contemporary tyrants: —

“Constantine and Maximus clearly leagued themselves with the barbarians, but they were not mere puppets of the barbarians; they were not even set up by barbarian help. Each was set up by a movement in an army which passed for Roman. But the tyrants who appear in Gaul in the following Edition: current; Page: [373] year, Jovinus, Sebastian, and Attalus — Attalus, already known in Italy, is fresh in Gaul — are far more closely connected with the invaders of the provinces. Attalus was a mere puppet of the Goths, set up and put down at pleasure; his story is merely a part of the marches of Ataulf in Gaul and Spain. Jovinus was set up by Burgundian and Alan help; his elevation to the Empire and the earliest Burgundian settlement in Gaul are simply two sides of one event. Even Maximus was not in this way the mere creature of the invaders of Spain, though he found it convenient at least to connive at their invasion.”


Other readers may, like myself, have been puzzled by this reference of Gibbon. Professor Dowden has supplied me with what must, I believe, be the true explanation. The statue of Voltaire by Pigalle (now in the Institut) was executed in 1770. The actress Mlle. Clairon opened a subscription for it. See Desnoiresterres, Voltaire et la Société au xviii. Siècle, vii. p. 312 sqq.

14.: DEATH OF MAXIMUS — (P. 266)

The chronicle of Count Marcellinus states that the tyrants Maximus and Jovinus were brought in chains from Spain (to Ravenna) and executed in the year 422, on the occasion of the tricennalia of Honorius (sub ann. 422, p. 75, ed. Mommsen, Chron. Min. vol. ii.). This, like some other unique notices in Marcellinus, was doubtless taken by him from the Chronica Italica (see above, vol. iv. Appendix 5, p. 353), which have come down in a mutilated condition (cp. Mommsen, ib. p. 46). It is borne out by Orosius, who, writing in 417, says (vii. 425): Maximus exutus purpura destititusque a militibus Gallicanis — nunc inter barbaros in Hispania egens exulat; which alone is of sufficient authority to refute the statements of the Eastern writers followed by Gibbon.

15.: SEPTIMANIA — (P. 286)

An error prevails in regard to the name Septimania. It first occurs in Sidonius Apollinaris, Ep. iii. 1, 4, where it is said of the Goths of the kingdom of Tolosa: Septimaniam suam fastidiunt vel refundunt, modo invidiosi huius anguli (that is, Arverni) etiam desolata proprietate potiantur. In his Index Locorum to Luetjohann’s ed. of Sidonius, Mommsen points out that Septimania is not derived from septem (the etymon is septimus) and therefore did not signify either the Seven Provinces of the Viennese Diocese, or seven cities granted to the Goths (Greg. Tur. 2, 20). It means the coast-line from the Pyrenees to the Rhone, in Sidonius as well as in Gregory of Tours and later writers; Sidonius means that the Goths declared themselves ready to exchange this coast district (including towns of Narbo, Tolosa, Bæterræ, Nemausus, Luteva) for Arverni. Bæterræ was a town of the Septimani; hence Septimania.


In connection with Gibbon’s note on the length of journeys by sea in the reign of Arcadius, I have found some contemporary data in the Life of Edition: current; Page: [374] Porphyry of Gaza by the deacon Marcus. (1) From Ascalon, in Palestine, to Thessalonica: 13 days, p. 6, ed. Teubner. (2) Back from Thessalonica to Ascalon: 12 days, p. 7. (3) From Gaza to Constantinople: 20 days, p. 24. (4) Back from Constantinople to Gaza: 10 days, p. 25. (5) From Cæsarea (Palæst.) to Rhodes: 10 days in winter, p. 30. (6) From Rhodes to Constantinople: 10 days, winter, p. 33. (7) From Constantinople (starting 18th April) to Rhodes: 5 days, p. 47. It must be remembered that we are not informed about intermediate stoppages. These references may be added to those in Friedläander’s Sittengeschichte, ii. 13-17. With a good wind one could sail 11 or 12 hundred stadia in 24 hours.

17.: ARMENIAN AFFAIRS — (P. 331, 333)

Gibbon wrongly places the division of the Armenian kingdom into Roman and Persian Armenia in the fifth century. This division was arranged between Theodosius the Great and the Persian King. See Saint Martin, Mémoires, p. 316. Persarmenia was at least two-thirds of the whole kingdom. Arsaces, who had already reigned 5 years over all Armenia, continued after the division to rule over Roman Armenia for 2½ years; while Chosrov (a Christian) was appointed by Persia as king of Persian Armenia. On the death of Arsaces, Theodosius committed the rule of the Roman part to a native general, who was induced to recognise the authority of Chosrov; while Chosrov, in order to secure his position in Roman Armenia, acknowledged the suzerainty of the Roman Empire. This did not please Persia, and Jezdegird, son of the Persian king, overthrew him, after he had reigned 5 years. Jezdegird then gave Armenia to Chosrov’s brother; but Chosrov was subsequently restored through the influence of the archbishop Isaac, and reigned about a year. He was succeeded by Sapor, a royal prince of Persia, who made himself hated and attempted to proselytise the Armenians. On his father’s death he returned to Persia, endeavoured to win the crown, failed, and perished. After an interval Ardeshir (Gibbon’s Artasires) was appointed — the last of the Armenian kings. His deposition is described by Gibbon. The government was then placed in the hands of Persian marzbans.

18.: PROCOPIAN LEGENDS — (P. 354, and vol. vi. p. 80)

(1) Boniface and Aetius; (2) Valentinian and Maximus

In his Italy and her Invaders, vol. ii. (p. 206 sqq., ed. 2) Mr. Hodgkin has discussed and rejected the romantic story connected with the death of Valentinian, the elevation of Maximus and his marriage with Eudoxia. The story is told by Procopius (de B. V. i. 4); and, in accordance with Gibbon’s criticism that “Procopius is a fabulous writer for the events which precede his own memory,” Mr. Hodgkin relegates it to “the fables of Procopius.”

In the English Historical Review for July, 1887 (p. 417-465), Mr. Freeman published a long criticism of the historical material for the careers of Aetius and Boniface. He held the account of Procopius (B. V. i. 3) to be “legend of the sixth century and not trustworthy history of the fifth,” and tried to “recover the true story as it may be put together from the annalists, the writings of St. Augustine, and other more trustworthy authorities.” In this case Mr. Hodgkin takes a completely different view and argues (ib., vol. i. p. 889 sqq., ed. 2) that the Procopian legend “has still a reasonable Edition: current; Page: [375] claim to be accepted as history,” while admitting that in some points it has been shaken by Mr. Freeman.

Now, while the two stories need not stand on the same footing so far as historical credibility is concerned, while it may be possible to follow Mr. Hodgkin in rejecting the one and accepting the main part of the other, there is a preliminary question which must be discussed before we attempt to decide the ultimate question of historical fact. Procopius is not the only authority for these stories. They are also found in the Salmasian Excerpts, which were first printed by Cramer in his Anecdota Parisina, ii. 383 sqq., and afterwards included among the fragments of John of Antioch by C. Müller, in the Fragmenta Hist. Græc., vol. iv. p. 535 sqq. The fragments in question are 196 and 200. It was a serious flaw in Mr. Freeman’s essay that he was not aware either of the Salmasian Excerpt 196, or of the Constantinian Excerpt 201, which also bears on the question of Aetius and Boniface. Mr. Hodgkin refers to fr. 196, which (with Müller) he ascribes to Joannes Antiochenus, and says: “Though a comparatively late author (he probably lived in the seventh century) and though he certainly used Procopius freely in his compilation, he had also some good contemporary authorities before him, especially Priscus, and there seems some probability, though I would not state it more strongly than this, that he may have found the story in one of them as well as in Procopius.”

But Mr. Hodgkin, while he takes account of fr. 196 in defending one “Procopian legend,” takes no account of fr. 200 in rejecting the other “Procopian legend,” though fr. 200 bears to the latter the same relation which fr. 196 bears to the former.

Now in the first place it must be clearly understood that the author of the work from which the Salmasian Excerpts are derived cannot have been the same as the author of the work from which the Constantinian Excerpts are derived. There is no question about this, and it could be proved merely by comparing the two (Salmasian) fragments under consideration (frags. 196 and 200) with (the Constantinian) fragment 201. If then we accept the Constantinian Excerpts under the name Joannes of Antioch, we must be careful not to ascribe the Salmasian Excerpts to that writer. Which is the true Joannes, is a question still sub judice. (See below, vol. vi. Appendix 2.)

The vital question then is whether Procopius was the source of S. (as we may designate the author of these Excerpts) for these fragments or not. For if he was, S. adds no weight to the authority of Procopius and may be disregarded; it he were not, his statements have to be reckoned with too. From a careful comparison of the passages, I find myself in complete agreement with C. de Boor (who has dealt with the question in Byz. Ztsch. ii. 204 sqq.) that Procopius was not the source of S. but that the accounts of both authors were derived from a common source.1 The proof in the case of fr. 200 is very complete; because we happen to have in Suidas sub voce θλαδιάς (see Müller ad loc.) a fragment of what was evidently that common source.

The inference, for historical purposes, is important. We cannot speak with Mr. Freeman of “Procopian legend” or “legend of the sixth century.” Procopius cannot be described in these cases as setting down “the received tale that he heard.” He was using a literary source; and there is not the slightest proof that this literary source belonged to the sixth century. It seems more probable that it was a fifth century source. It may have been Priscus or it may not.

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These two episodes therefore depend on the authority of a writer (who has so far not been identified) earlier than Procopius and distinct from John of Antioch. They may for all we know have very early authority, and they cannot be waived away as “Procopian legend.” Each must be judged on its own merits.

It seems to me that there was probably a certain foundation of truth in both stories, but that they have been dressed out with fictitious details (like the story of the Empress Eudocia and Paulinus). I do not feel prepared to reject the main facts implied, that Aetius intrigued against Bonifacius and that Valentinian seduced the wife of Maximus.

The story of the single combat of Aetius and Boniface is derived from Marcellinus (like Procopius, a writer of the sixth century). But rightly interpreted it contains nothing improbable. It does not imply a duel; but a single combat in a battle. It is however important to observe that “John of Antioch” (fr. 201, Müller, p. 615) says nothing of Boniface’s wound but states that he was out-generalled by Aetius, and that he died of diseases due to depression and chagrin.

τὸν δὲ Βονιϕάτιον σὺν πολλῃ̑ διαβάντα χειρὶ ἀπὸ τη̂ς Λιβύης κατεστρατήγησεν, ὥστε ἐκεɩ̂νον μὲν ὺπὸ ϕροντίδων νόσῳ τελευτη̂σαι.

It remains to be added that the essay of Mr. Freeman throws great light on the career of Boniface in Africa and the doings of Castinus, Felix, and Sigisvult.


The interpretation of the Egyptian allegory of Synesius has caused a good deal of trouble, owing to the fact that our other sources supply such meagre material as to the details of the political transactions at Constantinople in the reign of Arcadius. It had long been recognised that Egypt stood for the Empire, and Thebes for Constantinople; and the Praetorian Prefect Aurelian had been detected under the veil of Osiris. But no certainty had been attained as to the identity of Typhos, the wicked brother of Osiris. It was chiefly in consequence of this lacuna that the able attempt of Güldenpenning to reconstruct the history of the years ad 399 and 400 on the basis of the work of Synesius (cp. my Later Roman Empire, i. p. 79 sqq.) did not carry complete conviction. But O. Seeck has recently succeeded in proving the identity of Typhos and in interpreting the allegory more fully (Philologus, 52, p. 442 sqq., 1894). His results must be briefly noted.

1. Taurus. — Synesius states in the Preface that the name of the father of Osiris and Typhos was Taurus. There can be no question that he is the Taurus who appears in the Consular Fasti of ad 361. He was quaestor in 353, and became praetorian prefect in 355. He held this office (the μεγάλη ἀρχή of Synes. c. 2, p. 1213, ed. Migne) till 361. He was appointed to decide a theological disputation (Epiphanius, de Haer. 71, 1); and presided at the Council of Ariminum (359). He was an author as well as an official. The arguments of Borghesi and Seeck establish his identity with Palladius Rutilius Taurus Aemilianus, the author of 14 Books De re rustica. Taurus had a son named Harmonius who was killed by Arbogastes 392 (John Ant., fr. 187).

2. Aurelian. — He appears first about 383 as builder of a Church (Acta Sanctorum, 6th May, p. 610). In 393 we find him (C. Th. 2, 8, 23, &c.) Prefect of Constantinople before Rufinus held that office. Then after the fall of Eutropius, he appears as Praetorian Prefect of the East (399-400). In 400 the revolt of Gainas causes his fall (see above, p. 304-305). But he was Edition: current; Page: [377] to rise again and become Prefect a third time (402-404), as Seeck has shown from two letters of Synesius (31 and 38: cp. Cod. Th. 4, 2, 1, and 5, 1, 5, where the false dates have to be amended). He is therein described as τρισέπαρχον, “thrice Prefect,” in an epigram (Anth. Plan. 4, 73) on a gilt statue dedicated to him by the senate. His son’s name was Taurus (Synes. epist. 31), which confirms the identification.

Osiris (i. c. 3, p. 1217) held a post which is described as ἐπιστάτης δορυϕόρων γενόμενος καὶ ἀκοὰς πιστευθεὶς, explained by Seeck to be that of magister officiorum; he was then Prefect of the city (πολιαρχήσας, ib.); he was consul (ii. 4, p. 1272), and he twice held the μεγάλη ἀρχή or praetorian prefecture, — the second time μετὰ συνθήματος μείζονος (ib.), which means the Patriciate. What happened to Osiris on his fall corresponds even more strikingly to that which happened to Aurelian. The leader of the foreign mercenaries is on the other side of a stream (like Gainas), Aurelian crosses it (p. 1252) and is spared. His companions in misfortune (Saturninus and Johannes) are alluded to, p. 1268.

3. Arcadius. — The insignificance of Arcadius is reflected in the myth by the fact that he is never mentioned except in one passage (p. 1268), where he appears as the High Priest. The person who through his influence over the Emperor had the real power appears in the myth as holding the kingly office — e.g. Osiris while he was in power.

4. Caesarius. — In the allegory Typhos is in close alliance with the barbarian mercenaries, and instigates their attack on Thebes in order to overthrow his brother Osiris. When Osiris surrenders himself to the barbarian leader, Typhos urges that he should be put to death. Typhos then receives the kingdom and administers it tyrannically; nor is his position shaken by the fall of the barbarian leader. Before the first rise of Osiris to power1 he had filled a post which gave him patronage in distributing offices, the power of oppressing towns (p. 1217), and the duty of regulating measures in connection with the payment of taxes in kind (p. 1219). These hints taken along with the mention (ib.) of torch-bearing attendants show that the office was no less than that of Praetorian Prefect. It follows that Typhos was Praetorian Prefect before 399, and again in 400.

Eutropius had endeavoured to reduce the power of Praetorian Prefect of the East by making it a collegial office; and Eutychianus appears as holding that office (1) along with Caesarius while Eutropius was in power; (2) along with Aurelian, 399-400; (3) along with Aurelian when he was restored 402. It may be assumed that he also held it between 400 and 402.

It follows that Caesarius, whom we find Praetorian Prefect from 396-398, and again in 400 and 401, was the prototype of Typhos, the son of Taurus and the brother of Aurelian. Some other points confirm the conclusion. The tendency to Arianism, of which Typhos is accused, is illustrated by C. Th. 16, 5, 25, and the passion of Typhos for his wife by a notice in Sozomen, 9, 2.

The great political object of Aurelian was to break the power of the Germans in the army and at the court — the policy for which Synesius pleaded in his De Regno. The question arises: What was the attitude of the Empress Eudoxia to this policy? The fall of Eutropius which she brought about (Phil. 11, 6) led to the rise of Aurelian, and when Aurelian fell, her intimate friend — scandal said, her lover — Count John, fell with him.2 Further, Edition: current; Page: [378] Seeck makes it probable that the second Praetorian Prefecture of Aurelian ended, and Anthemius succeeded to that post, about end of 404; and it was on 6th October, 404, that the Empress died. We are thus led to infer a close political union between Eudoxia and Aurelian; and, if the inference is right, it is noteworthy that the Empress of German origin, the daughter of the Frank Bauto, should have allied herself with a statesman whose policy was anti-German.


Valentinian was less attentive to the religion of his son, since he entrusted [c. ad 364] the education of Gratian to Ausonius, a professed Pagan (Mém. de l’Académie des Inscriptions, tom. xv. p. 125-138). [But in his poem the Ephemeris (before 367 ad; Schenkl, Pref. to his ed. of Ausonius in M.H.G.) he poses not only as a Christian, but as an orthodox Christian.] The poetical fame of Ausonius condemns the taste of his age.


[Decimus Magnus] Ausonius was successively promoted to the Prætorian prefecture of Italy (ad 377) and of Gaul (ad 378), cp. Aus. ii. 2, 42, præfectus Gallis et Libyæ et Latio, and was at length invested with the consulship (ad 379). He expressed his gratitude in a servile and insipid piece of flattery (Actio Gratiarum, p. 699-736) which has survived more worthy productions. [This statement as to the prefectures of Ausonius is not quite accurate; cp. vol. iv. Appendix 5.]


Disputare de principali judicio non oportet. Sacrilegii enim instar est dubitare, an is dignus sit, quem elegerit imperator. Codex Justinian. l. ix. tit. xxix. leg. 3 [2, ed. Krüger]. This convenient law was revived and promulgated after the death of Gratian by the feeble court of Milan.


Ambrose composed, for his instruction, a theological treatise on the faith of the Trinity; and Tillemont (Hist. des Empereurs, tom. v. p. 158, 169) ascribes to the archbishop the merit of Gratian’s intolerant laws.


Qui divinæ legis sanctitatem [aut] nesciendo omittunt [leg. confundunt] aut negligendo violant et offendunt, sacrilegium committunt. Codex Justinian. l. ix. tit. xxix. leg. 1. Theodosius indeed may claim his share in the merit of this comprehensive law.


Ammianus (xxxi. 10) and the younger Victor [Epit. 47] acknowledge the virtues of Gratian, and accuse, or rather lament, his degenerate taste. The odious parallel of Commodus is saved by “licet incruentus”; and perhaps Philostorgius (l. x. c. 10, and Godefroy, p. 412) had guarded with some similar reserve the comparison of Nero.


Zosimus (l. iv. p. 247 [c. 35]) and the younger Victor [ib.] ascribe the revolution to the favour of the Alani and the discontent of the Roman troops. Dum exercitum negligeret, et paucos ex Alanis, quos ingenti auro ad se transtulerat, anteferret veteri ac Romano militi.


Britannia fertilis provincia tyrannorum, is a memorable expression used by Jerom in the Pelagian controversy, and variously tortured in the disputes of our national antiquaries. The revolutions of the last age appeared to justify the image of the sublime Bossuet, “cette isle, plus orageuse que les mers qui l’environnent.”


Zosimus says of the British soldiers, τω̂ν ἄλλων ἁπάντων πλέον αὐθαδείᾳ καὶ θυμῷ νικωμένους [ib. Ausonius describes Maximus as armigeri sub nomine lixa, Ord. urb. nob. l. 70].


Helena, the daughter of Eudda. Her chapel may still be seen at Caersegont, now Caer-narvon (Carte’s Hist. of England, vol. i. p. 168, from Rowland’s Mona Antiqua). The prudent reader may not perhaps be satisfied with such Welsh evidence.


Cambden (vol. i. introduct. p. ci.) appoints him governor of Britain; and the father of our antiquities is followed, as usual, by his blind progeny. Pacatus and Zosimus had taken some pains to prevent this error, or fable; and I shall protect myself by their decisive testimonies. Regali habitu exulem suum illi exules orbes induerunt (in Panegyr. Vet. xii. 23), and the Greek historian, still less equivocally, αὐτὸς (Maximus) δὲ οὐδὲ εἰς ἀρχὴν ἔντιμον ἔτυχε προελθών (l. iv. p. 248 [c. 35]).


Sulpicius Severus, Dialog. ii. 7, Orosius, l. vii. c. 34, p. 556. They both acknowledge (Sulpicius had been his subject) his innocence and merit. It is singular enough that Maximus should be less favourably treated by Zosimus, the partial adversary of his rival.


Archbishop Usher (Antiquitat. Britan. Eccles. p. 107, 108) has diligently collected the legends of the island and the continent. The whole emigration consisted of 30,000 soldiers, and 100,000 plebeians, who settled in Bretagne. Their destined brides, St. Ursula with 11,000 noble, and 60,000 plebeian, virgins, mistook their way; landed at Cologne, and were all most cruelly murdered by the Huns. But the plebeian sister have been defrauded of their equal honours; and, what is still harder, John Trithemius presumes to mention the children of these British virgins.


Zosimus (l. iv. p. 248, 249 [c. 35]) has transported the death of Gratian from Lugdunum in Gaul (Lyons) to Singidunum in Mæsia. Some hints may be extracted from the Chronicles; some lies may be detected in Sozomen (l. vii. c. 13) and Socrates (l. v. c. 11). Ambrose is our most authentic evidence (tom. i. Enarrat. in Psalm lxi. p. 961 [ed. Migne, i. p. 1173], tom. ii. epist. xxiv. p. 888 [ib. ii. 1035], &c., and de Obitu Valentinian. Consolat. No. 28, p. 1182 [ib. ii. 1368]).


Pacatus (xii. 28) celebrates his fidelity; while his treachery is marked in Prosper’s Chronicle, as the cause of the ruin of Gratian. Ambrose, who has occasion to exculpate himself, only condemns the death of Vallio, a faithful servant of Gratian (tom. ii. epist. xxiv. p. 891, edit. Benedict [Migne, ii. p. 1039]).


He protested, nullum ex adversariis nisi in acie occubuisse. Sulp. Severus, in Vit. B. Martin. c. 23. The orator of Theodosius bestows reluctant, and therefore weighty, praise on his clemency. Si cui ille, pro ceteris sceleribus suis, minus crudelis fuisse videtur (Panegyr. Vet. xii. 28).


Ambrose mentions the laws of Gratian, quas non abrogavit hostis (tom. ii. epist. xvii. p. 827).


Zosimus, l. iv. p. 251, 252 [c. 37]. We may disclaim his odious suspicions; but we cannot reject the treaty of peace which the friends of Theodosius have absolutely forgotten, or slightly mentioned. [His name, afterwards erased, can be discovered along with Valent. ii. and Theodosius on an inscription, C.I.L. 8, 27.]


Their oracle, the archbishop of Milan, assigns to his pupil Gratian an high and respectable place in heaven (tom. ii. de Obit. Val. Consol. p. 1193).


For the baptism of Theodosius, see Sozomen (l. vii. c. 4), Socrates (l. v. c. 6) and Tillemont (Hist. des Empereurs, tom. v. p. 728).


Ascolius, or Acholius [so Ambrose; Ascholius in Socr. and Sozomen], was honoured by the friendship and the praises of Ambrose; who styles him, murus fidei atque sanctitatis (tom. ii. epist. xv. p. 820), and afterwards celebrates his speed and diligence in running to Constantinople, Italy, &c. (epist. xvi. p. 822); a virtue which does not appertain either to a wall, or a bishop.


Codex Theodos. l. xvi. tit. i. leg. 2, with Godefroy’s Commentary, tom. vi. p. 5-9. Such an edict deserved the warmest praises of Baronius, auream sanctionem edictum pium et salutare. — Sic itur ad astra.


[See above, vol. iv. p. 187, n. 37.]


Sozomen, l. vii. c. 6. Theodoret, l. v. c. 16. Tillemont is displeased (Mém. Ecclés. tom. vi. p. 627, 628) with the terms of “rustic bishop,” “obscure city.” Yet I must take leave to think that both Amphilochius and Iconium were objects of inconsiderable magnitude in the Roman empire.


Sozomen, l. vii. c. 5. Socrates, l. v. c. 7. Marcellin. in Chron. The account of forty years must be dated from the election or intrusion of Eusebius, who wisely exchanged the bishopric of Nicomedia for the throne of Constantinople.


See Jortin’s Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, vol. iv. p. 71. The thirty-third [27th ap. Migne] Oration of Gregory Nazianzen affords indeed some similar ideas, even some still more ridiculous; but I have not yet found the words of this remarkable passage, which I allege on the faith of a correct and liberal scholar. [But see Appendix 1.]


See the thirty-second [42nd ap. Migne] Oration of Gregory Nazianzen, and the account of his own life, which he has composed in 1800 iambics. Yet every physician is prone to exaggerate the inveterate nature of the disease which he has cured.


I confess myself deeply indebted to the two lives of Gregory Nazianzen, composed, with very different views, by Tillemont (Mém. Ecclés. tom. ix. p. 305-560, 692-731) and Le Clerc (Bibliothèque Universelle, tom. xviii. p. 1-128). [Ullmann, Gregor von Nazianz, 1825; Bénoit, S. Grégoire de Nazianze, 1884.]


Unless Gregory Nazianzen mistook thirty years in his own age; he was born, as well as his friend Basil, about the year 329. The preposterous chronology of Suidas has been graciously received; because it removes the scandal of Gregory’s father, a saint likewise, begetting children, after he became a bishop (Tillem. Mém. Ecclés. tom. ix. p. 693-697).


Gregory’s Poem on his own Life contains some beautiful lines (tom. ii. p. 8), which burst from the heart, and speak the pangs of injured and lost friendship: —

  • . . . πόνοι κοινοὶ λόγων,
  • Ὁμόστεγός τε καὶ συνέστιος βίος,
  • Νον̂ς εἰς ἒν ἀμϕοɩ̂ν . . .
  • Διεσκέδασται πάντα, ἔρριπται χαμαὶ,
  • Αὐραι ϕέρουσαι τὰς παλαιὰς ἐλπίδας
  • [477-483].

In the Midsummer Night’s Dream, Helena addresses the same pathetic complaint to her friend Hermia: —

  • Is all the counsel that we two have shared,
  • The sister’s vows, &c.

Shakespeare had never read the poems of Gregory Nazianzen, he was ignorant of the Greek language; but his mother-tongue, the language of Nature, is the same in Cappadocia and in Britain.


This unfavourable portrait of Sasima is drawn by Gregory Nazianzen (tom. ii. de Vitâ suâ, p. 7, 8 [Migne, 3, p. 1059]). Its precise situation, forty-nine miles from Archelais [Ak Serai], and thirty-two from Tyana, is fixed in the Itinerary of Antoninus (p. 144, edit. Wesseling).


The name of Nazianzus has been immortalised by Gregory; but his native town, under the Greek or Roman title of Diocæsarea (Tillemont, Mém. Ecclés. tom. ix. p. 692), is mentioned by Pliny (vi. 3), Ptolemy, and Hierocles (Itinerar. Wesseling, p. 709). It appears to have been situate on the edge of Isauria. [ὴ Διοκαισαρέων ὀλίγη πόλις, as Gregory calls Nazianzus, is more northerly than Gibbon supposed, lying on the road from Iconium to Tyana; about six hours due east of Archelais; Ramsay, Asia Minor, 285.]


See Ducange, Constant. Christiana, l. iv. p. 141, 142. The θεία δύναμις of Sozomer. (l. vii. c. 5) is interpreted to mean the Virgin Mary. [The site of the Church of Anastasia, S.W. of the Hippodrome, is marked now by the mosque of Mehmed Pasha Djemi; see Paspatês, Βυζάντιναι Μελέται, 369.]


Tillemont (Mém. Ecclés. tom. ix. p. 432, &c.) diligently collects, enlarges, and explains the oratorical and poetical hints of Gregory himself.


He pronounced an oration (tom. i. Orat. xxiii. p. 409 [= xxv. Migne, p. 1197 sqq.]) in his praise; but after their quarrel the name of Maximus was changed into that of Heron (see Jerom, tom. i. in Catalog. Script. Eccles. p. 301). I touch slightly on these obscure and personal squabbles. [For an account of Maximus, see Hodgkin, i. 346 sqq. Cp. also J. Dräseke, Z. f. Wiss. Theologie, 36 (1893), p. 290 sqq.]


Under the modest emblem of a dream, Gregory (tom. ii. carmen ix. p. 78 [ed. Migne, 3, p. 1254]) describes his own success with some human complacency. Yet it should seem, from his familiar conversation with his auditor St. Jerom (tom. i. Epist. ad Nepotian, p. 14 [ep. 52; Migne, i. p. 534]), that the preacher understood the true value of popular applause.


Lachrymæ auditorum, laudes tuæ sint, is the lively and judicious advice of St. Jerom [ib.].


Socrates (l. v. c. 7) and Sozomen (l. vii. c. 5) relate the evangelical words and actions of Damophilus without a word of approbation. He considered, says Socrates, that it is difficult to resist the powerful; but it was easy, and would have been profitable, to submit. [Date of entry of Theodosius, 14th Nov., Idacius, Fast. C.; but 24th Nov., acc. to Pasch. Chron. and Socrates, v. 6, which Clinton accepts and Hodgkin supports.]


[Not St. Sophia, which was not yet the chief church, but the Church of the Twelve Apostles; see Plan in vol. iii. opposite p. 100.]


See Gregory Nazianzen, tom. ii. de Vitâ suâ, p. 21, 22 [l. 1331 sqq.]. For the sake of posterity, the bishop of Constantinople records a stupendous prodigy. In the month of November, it was a cloudy morning, but the sun broke forth when the procession entered the church.


Of the three ecclesiastical historians, Theodoret alone (l. v. c. 2) has mentioned this important commission of Sapor, which Tillemont (Hist. des Empereurs, tom. v. p. 728) judiciously removes from the reign of Gratian to that of Theodosius.


I do not reckon Philostorgius, though he mentions (l. ix. c. 19) the explusion of Damophilus. The Eunomian historian has been carefully strained through an orthodox sieve.


Le Clerc has given a curious extract (Bibliothèque Universelle, tom. xviii. p. 91-105) of the theological sermons which Gregory Nazianzen pronounced at Constantinople against the Arians, Eunomians, Macedonians, &c. He tells the Macedonians, who deified the Father and the Son, without the Holy Ghost, that they might as well be styled Tritheists as Ditheists. Gregory himself was almost a Tritheist; and his monarchy of heaven resembles a well-regulated aristocracy.


The first general council of Constantinople now triumphs in the Vatican: but the popes had long hesitated, and their hesitation perplexes, and almost staggers, the humble Tillemont (Mém. Ecclés. tom. ix. p. 499, 500). [It had no good claim to be ecumenical, for the 150 bishops present were entirely from the eastern provinces of the Empire. It put forward no new doctrines, but simply reasserted the Nicene Creed. See Gwatkin, Studies of Arianism, p. 262.]


Before the death of Meletius, six or eight of his most popular ecclesiastics, among whom was Flavian, had abjured, for the sake of peace, the bishopric of Antioch (Sozomen, l. vii. c. 3, 11. Socrates, l. v. c. 5). Tillemont thinks it his duty to disbelieve the story; but he owns that there are many circumstances in the life of Flavian which seem inconsistent with the praises of Chrysostom and the character of a saint (Mém. Ecclés. tom. x. p. 541). [Gregory of Nyssa pronounced the funeral oration on Meletius.]


Consult Gregory Nazianzen, de Vitâ suâ, tom. ii. p. 25-28 [1509 sqq.]. His general and particular opinion of the clergy and their assemblies may be seen in verse and prose (tom. i. orat. i. p. 33 [= or. ii. Migne], epist. lv. [= ep. cxxx. Migne, iii. p. 225] p. 814, tom. ii. carmen x. [leg. xi.] p. 81 [Migne, ib. p. 1227]). Such passages are faintly marked by Tillemont, and fairly produced by Le Clerc.


See Gregory, tom. ii. de Vitâ suâ, p. 28-31 [1680 sqq.]. The fourteenth [22nd], twenty-seventh [36th], and thirty-second [42nd] orations were pronounced in the several stages of this business. The peroration of the last (tom. i. p. 528), in which he takes a solemn leave of men and angels, the city and the emperor, the East and the West, &c., is pathetic, and almost sublime.


The whimsical ordination of Nectarius is attested by Sozomen (l. vii. c. 8); but Tillemont observes (Mém. Ecclés. tom. ix. p. 719), Après tout, ce narré de Sozomène est si honteux pour tous ceux qu’il y mêle, et surtout pour Théodose, qu’il vaut mieux travailler à le détruire, qu’à le soutenir; an admirable canon of criticism.


I can only be understood to mean that such was his natural temper; when it was not hardened, or inflamed, by religious zeal. From his retirement [at Arianzus, a farm close to the village of Karbala (now Καλβαρή, Turk. Gelvere), 2½ hours south of Nazianzus, containing “a church full of relics of S. Gregory.” Ramsay, Asia Minor, 285], he exhorts Nectarius to prosecute the heretics of Constantinople.


See the Theodosian Code, l. xvi. tit. v. leg. 6-23, with Godefroy’s commentary on each law, and his general summary, or Paratitlon, tom. vi. p. 104-110.


They always kept their Easter, like the Jewish Passover, on the fourteenth day of the first moon after the vernal equinox; and thus pertinaciously opposed to the Roman church and Nicene synod, which had fixed Easter to a Sunday. Bingham’s Antiquities, l. xx. c. 5, vol. ii. p. 309, fol. edit.


Sozomen, l. vii. c. 12.


See the Sacred History of Sulpicius Severus (l. ii. p. 437-452, edit. Ludg. Bat. 1647 [c. 46-51]), a correct and original writer. Dr. Lardner (Credibility, &c., part ii. vol. ix. p. 256-350) has laboured this article, with pure learning, good sense, and moderation. Tillemont (Mém. Ecclés. tom. viii. p. 491-527) has raked together all the dirt of the fathers; an useful scavenger! [It has been debated how far Priscillian is to be regarded as a heretic. J. H. Lübkert, De haeresi Priscillianistarum, 1840, followed by Bernays, held that he was condemned, not as a heretic, but as a lawbreaker. Since then some remains of his own writings (eleven Tractates) were discovered (1885) in a Würzburg MS. of ⅚ cent., and edited (1889) by G. Schepss. His religious position has been investigated by F. Paret, Priscillianus ein Reformator des vierten Jahrhunderts, 1891. It seems clear that Priscillian’s point of view was undogmatic; and he was certainly heretical in so far as he made use of apocryphal books. See too Schepss, Priscillian, 1886. Cp. Jerome’s notice, de vir. ill. c. 21, and Orosius, Commonitorium de errore Priscillianistarum et Origenistarum, published by Schepss at end of his ed. of Priscillian.]


Sulpicius Severus mentions the arch-heretic with esteem and pity. Felix profecto, si non pravo studio corrupisset optimum ingenium; prorsus multa in eo animi et corporis bona cerneres (Hist. Sacra, l. ii. p. 439 [c. 46]). Even Jerom (tom. i. in Script. Eccles. p. 302) speaks with temper of Priscillian and Latronian. [They suffered in 385, Prosper, Epit. Chron.; but Idatius gives 387.]


The bishopric (in Old Castile) is now worth 20,000 ducats a year (Busching’s Geography, vol. ii. p. 308) and is therefore much less likely to produce the author of a new heresy.


Exprobabatur mulieri viduæ nimia religio, et diligentius culta divinitas (Pacat. in Panegyr. Vet. xii. 29). Such was the idea of a humane, though ignorant, polytheist.


One of them was sent in Syllinam insulam quæ ultra Britanniam est. What must have been the ancient condition of the rocks of Scilly (Cambden’s Britannia, vol. ii. p. 1519)?


The scandalous calumnies of Augustin, Pope Leo, &c., which Tillemont swallows like a child, and Lardner refutes like a man, may suggest some candid suspicions in favour of the older Gnostics.


Ambros. tom. ii. epist. xxiv. p. 891.


In the Sacred History, and the Life of St. Martin, Sulpicius Severus uses some caution; but he declares himself more freely in the Dialogues (iii. 15). Martin was reproved, however, by his own conscience, and by an angel; nor could he afterwards perform miracles with so much ease.


The Catholic Presbyter (Sulp. Sever. l. ii. p. 448 [c. 50]) and the Pagan Orator (Pacat. in Panegyr. Vet. xii. 29) reprobate, with equal indignation, the character and conduct of Ithacius.


The life of St. Martin, and the Dialogues concerning his miracles, contain facts adapted to the grossest barbarism, in a style not unworthy of the Augustan age. So natural is the alliance between good taste and good sense that I am always astonished by this contrast.


The short and superficial life of St. Ambrose by his deacon Paulinus (Appendix ad edit. Benedict. p. i.-xv.) has the merit of original evidence. Tillemont (Mém. Ecclés. tom. x. p. 78-306) and the Benedictine editors (p. xxxi.-lxiii.) have laboured with their usual diligence.


Ambrose himself (tom. ii. epist. xxiv. p. 888-891) gives the emperor a very spirited account of his own embassy.


His own representation of his principles and conduct (tom. ii. epist. xx. xxi. xxii. p. 852-880) is one of the curious monuments of ecclesiastical antiquity. It contains two letters to his sister Marcellina, with a petition of Valentinian, and the sermon de Basilicis non tradendis.


Retz had a similar message from the queen, to request that he would appease the tumult of Paris. It was no longer in his power, &c. A quoi j’ajoutai tout ce que vous pouvez vous imaginer de respect, de douleur, de regret, et de soumission, &c. (Mémoires, tom. i. p. 140). Certainly I do not compare either the causes or the men; yet the coadjutor himself had some idea (p. 84) of imitating St. Ambrose.


Sozomen alone (l. vii. c. 13) throws this luminous fact into a dark and perplexed narrative.


Excubabat pia plebs in ecclesiâ mori parata cum episcopo suo. . . . Nos adhuc frigidi excitabamur tamen civitate attonitâ atque turbatâ. Augustin. Confession l. ix. c. 7.


Tillemont, Mém. Ecclés. tom. ii. p. 78, 498. Many churches in Italy, Gaul, &c., were dedicated to these unknown martyrs, of whom St. Gervase seems to have been more fortunate than his companion.


Invenimus miræ magnitudinis viros duos, ut prisca ætas ferebat. Tom. ii. epist. xxii. p. 875. [Mr. Hodgkin, who discusses the discovery, seems disposed to entertain the idea that Ambrose may have practised a pious fraud; i. 440.] The size of these skeletons was fortunately, or skilfully, suited to the popular prejudice of the gradual increase of the human stature; which has prevailed in every age since the time of Homer.

Grandiaque effossis mirabitur ossa sepulchris.


Ambros. tom. ii. epist. xxii. p. 875. Augustin. Confes. l. ix. c. 7, de Civitat. Dei, l. xxii. c. 8. Paulin. in Vitâ St. Ambros., c. 14, in Append. Benedict. p. 4. The blind man’s name was Severus; he touched the holy garment, recovered his sight, and devoted the rest of his life (at least twenty-five years) to the service of the church. I should recommend this miracle to our divines if it did not prove the worship of relics, as well as the Nicene creed.


Paulin. in Vit. St. Ambros. c. 5 [15], in Append. Benedict. p. 5.


Tillemont, Mém. Ecclés. tom. x. p. 190, 750. He partially allows the mediation of Theodosius; and capriciously rejects that of Maximus, though it is attested by Prosper [not the true Prosper; but Chron. Gall. ap. Mommsen, Chron. Min. i. p. 648; cp. Rufin, 11. 16], Sozomen, and Theodoret.


The modest censure of Sulpicius (Dialog. iii. 15) inflicts a much deeper wound than the feeble declamation of Pacatus (xii. 25, 26).


Esto tutior adversus hominem, pacis involucro tegentem, was the wise caution of Ambrose (tom. ii. p. 891) after his return from his second embassy [ad 386-7].


Baronius (ad 387, No. 63) applies to this season of public distress some of the penitential sermons of the archbishop.


The flight of Valentinian and the love of Theodosius for his sister are related by Zosimus (l. iv. p. 263, 264 [c. 43]). Tillemont produces some weak and ambiguous evidence to antedate the second marriage of Theodosius (Hist. des Empereurs, tom. v. p. 740), and consequently to refute ces contes de Zosime, qui seroient trop contraires à la piété de Théodose.


See Godefroy’s Chronology of the Laws, Cod. Theodos. tom. i. p. 119.


Besides the hints which may be gathered from chronicles and ecclesiastical history, Zos. (l. iv. p. 259-267 [c. 44-47]), Oros. (l. vii. c. 35) and Pacatus (in Pan. Vet. xii. 30-47) supply the loose and scanty materials of this civil war. Ambrose (tom. ii. epist. xl. p. 952, 953) darkly alludes to the well-known events of a magazine surprised, an action at Pœtovio, a Sicilian, perhaps a naval, victory, &c. Ausonius (p. 256, edit. Toll. [Ord. Urb. Nob. 66 sqq.]) applauds the peculiar merit, and good fortune, of Aquileia. [For the son of Maximus, Flavius Victor, see C.I.L. 5, 8032 and Eckhel, 8, 66. The victory in Sicilia must have been on sea, over the fleet of Andragathius; cp. Oros. loc. cit.]


Quam promptum laudare principem, tam tutum siluisse de principe (Pacat. in Pan. Vet. xii. 2). Latinus Pacatus Drepanius, a native of Gaul, pronounced this oration at Rome (ad 388). He was afterwards proconsul of Africa; and his friend Ausonius praises him as a poet, second only to Virgil. See Tillemont, Hist. des Emper. tom. v. p. 303.


See the fair portrait of Theodosius by the younger Victor; the strokes are distinct, and the colours are mixed. The praise of Pacatus is too vague: and Claudian always seems afraid of exalting the father above the son.


Ambros. tom. ii. epist. xl. p. 955. [The interpretation of this passage is not certain. The daughters of an inimicus and the mother of a hostis are mentioned. Are the hostis and inimicus the same, viz., Maximus?] Pacatus. from the want of skill, or of courage, omits this glorious circumstance.


Pacat. in Panegyr. Vet. xii. 20.


Zosimus, l. iv. p. 271, 272 [c. 50]. His partial evidence is marked by an air of candour and truth. He observes these vicissitudes of sloth and activity, not as a vice, but as a singularity, in the character of Theodosius.


This choleric temper is acknowledged, and excused, by Victor [Epit. 48] Sed habes (says Ambrose, in decent and manly language, to his sovereign) naturæ impetum, quem si quis lenire velit, cito vertes ad misericordiam: si quis stimulet, in magis exsuscitas, ut eum revocare vix possis (tom. ii. epist. ii. p. 998). Theod. (Claud. in iv. Cons. Hon. 266, &c.) exhorts his son to moderate his anger.


The Christians and Pagans agreed in believing that the sedition of Antioch was excited by the demons. A gigantic woman (says Sozomen, l. vii. c. 23) paraded the streets with a scourge in her hand. An old man (says Libanius, Orat. xii. p. 396 [or. xix. in Reiske’s ed., vol. 7, p. 626 seq.]) transformed himself into a youth, then a boy, &c.


Zosimus, in his short and disingenuous account (l. iv. p. 258, 259 [c. 41]), is certainly mistaken in sending Libanius himself to Constantinople. His own orations fix him at Antioch.


Libanius (Orat. i. p. 6, edit. Venet.) declares that, under such a reign, the fear of a massacre was groundless and absurd, especially in the emperor’s absence; for his presence, according to the eloquent slave, might have given a sanction to the most bloody acts.


Laodicea, on the sea-coast, sixty-five miles from Antioch (see Noris, Epoch. Syro-Maced. Dissert. iii. p. 230). The Antiochians were offended that the dependent city of Seleucia should presume to intercede for them.


As the days of the tumult depend on the movable festival of Easter, they can only be determined by the previous determination of the year. The year 387 has been preferred, after a laborious inquiry, by Tillemont (Hist. des Emper. tom. v. p. 741-744) and Montfaucon (Chrysostom, tom. xiii. p. 105-110). [So Güldenpenning and Ifland; but Baronius and Clinton give 388. Cp. Arnold Hug, Studien aus dem classischen Alterthum, p. 54.]


Chrysostom opposes their courage, which was not attended with much risk, to the cowardly flight of the Cynics.


The sedition of Antioch is represented in a lively, and almost dramatic, manner by two orators, who had their respective shares of interest and merit. See Libanius (Orat. xiv. xv. [leg. xii. xiii.] p. 389-420, edit. Morel., Orat. i. p. 1-14, Venet. 1754 and the twenty orations of St. Chrysostom, de Statuis (tom. ii. p. 1-225, edit. Montfaucon). I do not pretend to much personal acquaintance with Chrysostom; but Tillem. (Hist. des Emper. tom. v. p. 263-283) and Hermant (Vie de St. Chrysostome, tom. i. p. 137-224) had read him with pious curiosity and diligence. [The dates which A. Hug (Antiochia und der Aufstand des Jahres 387 n. Chr.) has endeavoured to establish are not inserted in the present edition.]


[“Cause” in sense of occasion. But the true cause was discontent at the practice of quartering barbarian soldiers in Antioch. Cp. John Malalas, p. 347.]


[Theodoret, v. 17; on the authority of Philostorgius?]


The original evidence of Ambrose (tom. ii. epist. li. p. 998), Augustin (de Civitat. Dei, v. 26), and Paulinus (in Vit. Ambros. c. 24) is delivered in vague expressions of horror and pity. It is illustrated by the subsequent and unequal testimonies of Sozomen (l. vii. c. 25), Theodoret (l. v. c. 17), Theophanes (Chronograph. p. 62), Cedrenus (p. 317 [p. 556, ed. Bonn]), and Zonaras (tom. ii. l. xiii. p. 34 [c. 18]). Zosimus alone, the partial enemy of Theodosius, most unaccountably passes over in silence the worst of his actions. [Further, Rufinus, ii. 18; Moses Choren. iii. 37; and Malalas, p. 347.]


See the whole transaction in Ambrose (tom. ii. epist. xl. xli. p. 946-956) and his biographer Paulinus (c. 23). Bayle and Barbeyrac (Morales des Pères, c. xvii. p. 325, &c.) have justly condemned the archbishop. [The sentence was that the bishop should rebuild the synagogue and pay the value of the destroyed treasures.]


His sermon is a strange allegory of Jeremiah’s rod, of an almond-tree, of the woman who washed and anointed the feet of Christ. But the peroration is direct and personal.


Hodie, Episcope, de me proposuisti. Ambrose modestly confessed it: but he sternly reprimanded Timasius, general of the horse and foot, who had presumed to say that the monks of Callinicum deserved punishment.


Yet, five years afterwards, when Theodosius was absent from his spiritual guide, he tolerated the Jews and condemned the destruction of their synagogue. Cod. Theodos. l. xvi. tit. viii. leg. 9, with Godefroy’s commentary, tom. vi. p. 225.


[A letter from the Bishop of Thessalonica, informing Ambrose, was published (from a Bodl. cod.) by Gaisford in Theodoret, v. 18; genuineness uncertain.]


Ambros. tom. ii. epist. li. p. 997-1001. His Epistle is a miserable rhapsody on a noble subject. Ambrose could act better than he could write. His compositions are destitute of taste, or genius; without the spirit of Tertullian, the copious elegance of Lactantius, the lively wit of Jerom, or the grave energy of Augustin.


According to the discipline of St. Basil (Canon lvi.) the voluntary homicide was four years a mourner; five an hearer; seven in a prostrate state; and four in a standing posture. I have the original (Beveridge, Pandect. tom. ii. p. 47-151) and a translation (Chardon, Hist. des Sacremens, tom. iv. p. 219-277) of the Canonical Epistles of St. Basil.


The penance of Theodosius is authenticated by Ambrose (tom. vi. de Obit. Theodos. c. 34, p. 1207), Augustin (de Civitat. Dei, v. 26), and Paulinus (in Vit. Ambros. c. 24). Socrates is ignorant; Sozomen (l. vii. c. 25) concise [but places it after revolt of Eugenius]; and the copious narrative of Theodoret (l. v. c. 18) must be used with precaution.


Codex Theodos. l. ix. tit. xl. leg. 13. The date and circumstances of this law are perplexed with difficulties; but I feel myself inclined to favour the honest efforts of Tillemont (Hist. des Emp. tom. v. p. 721) and Pagi (Critica, tom. i. p. 578).


Un prince qui aime la religion, et qui la craint, est un lion qui cède à la main qui le flatte, ou à la voix qui l’appaise. Esprit des Lois, l. xxiv. c. 2.


Τον̂το περὶ τοὺς εὐεργέτας καθη̂κον ἔδοξεν ε[Editor: illegible character]ναι, is the niggard praise of Zosimus himself (l. iv. p. 267 [c. 48]). Augustin says, with some happiness of expression, Valentinianum . . . misericordissima veneratione restituit.


Sozomen, l. vii. c. 14. His chronology is very irregular. [She seems to have died just before the defeat of Maximus, Rufinus, Hist. Ecc. ii. 17. Cp. Chron. Gall. (Pseudo-Prosper) 452, ap. Mommsen, Chr. Min. i. p. 648. Otherwise Zosimus, iv. 47.]


See Ambrose (tom. ii. de Obit. Valentinian. c. 15, &c. p. 1178; c. 36, &c. p. 1184). When the young emperor gave an entertainment, he fasted himself; he refused to see an handsome actress, &c. Since he ordered his wild beasts to be killed, it is ungenerous in Philostorgius (l. xi. c. 1) to reproach him with the love of that amusement.


Zosimus (l. iv. p. 275 [c. 53]) praises the enemy of Theodosius. But he is detested by Socrates (l. v. c. 25) and Orosius (l. vii. c. 35). [Acc. to John of Antioch (Müller, F.H.G. iv. fr. 187), Arbogast was son of Bauto, and nephew of Richomer.]


Gregory of Tours (l. ii. c. 9, p. 165, in the second volume of the Historians of France) has preserved a curious fragment of Sulpicius Alexander, an historian far more valuable than himself.


[He tore it in bits with his nails, according to John of Antioch, loc. cit.]


Godefroy (Dissertat. ad Philostorg. p. 429-434) has diligently collected all the circumstances of the death of Valentinian II. The variations and the ignorance of contemporary writers prove that it was secret. [Mr. Hodgkin discusses the evidence (Italy and her Invaders, i. p. 590, note F), which he thinks does not exclude the hypothesis of suicide, though he agrees that there was probably foul play. The passage in Epiphanius, De Mens. 20 (which gives the date), is the most important: εὑρεθεὶς ἄϕνω ἐ ντῷ παλατίῳ πεπνιγημένος, ὡς λόγος.]


De Obitu Valentinian. tom. ii. p. 1173-1196. He is forced to speak a discreet and obscure language; yet he is much bolder than any layman, or perhaps any other ecclesiastic, would have dared to be.


See c. 51, p. 1188; c. 75, p. 1193. Dom. Chardon (Hist. des Sacremens, tom. i. p. 86), who owns that St. Ambrose most strenuously maintains the indispensable necessity of baptism, labours to reconcile the contradiction.


Quem [leg. hunc] sibi Germanus famulum delegerat exul, is the contemptuous expression of Claudian (iv. Cons. Hon. 74). Eugenius professed Christianity; but his secret attachment to Paganism (Sozomen, l. vii. c. 22. Philostorg. l. xi. c. 2) is probable in a grammarian, and would secure the friendship of Zosimus (l. iv. p. 276, 277 [c. 54]). [Gibbon has not sufficiently insisted on the paganism as part of the political programme of Eugenius (cp. chap. xxviii. n. 60).]


[This inference from Philostorgius (xi. 2, μάγιστρος) is not certain.]


Zosimus (l. iv. p. 278 [c. 55]) mentions this embassy; but he is diverted by another story from relating the event. [But see c. 57 ad init.]


Συνετάραξεν ἡ τούτου γαμετὴ Γάλλα τὰ βασίλεια τὸν ἀδελϕὸν ὀλοϕυρομένη. Zosim. l. iv. p. 277 [ib.]. He afterwards says (p. 280 [c. 57]) that Galla died in childbed; and intimates that the affliction of her husband was extreme, but short.


Lycopolis is the modern Siut, or Osiot, a town of Said, about the size of St. Denys, which drives a profitable trade with the kingdom of Sennaar, and has a very convenient fountain, “cujus potu signa virginitatis eripiuntur.” See D’Anville, Description de l’Egypte, p. 181. Abulfeda, Descript. Ægypt. p. 14, and the curious annotations, p. 25, 92, of his editor Michaelis.


The life of John of Lycopolis is described by his two friends, Rufinus (l. ii. c. i. p. 449) and Palladius (Hist. Lausiac. c. 43, p. 738), in Rosweyde’s great Collection of the Vitæ Patrum. [See Acta Sctorum, 27 Mart. iii. 693 sqq.] Tillemont (Mém. Ecclés. tom. x. p. 718, 720) has settled the Chronology.


Sozomen, l. vii. c. 22. Claudian (in Eutrop. l. i. 312) mentions the eunuch’s journey: but he most contemptuously derides the Egyptian dreams and the oracles of the Nile.


Zosimus, l. iv. p. 280 [c. 57]. Socrates, l. vii. 10. Alaric himself (de Bell. Getico, 524) dwells with more complacency on his early exploits against the Romans.

. . . Tot Augustos Hebro qui teste fugavi.

Yet his vanity could scarcely have proved this plurality of flying emperors.


Claudian (in iv. Cons. Honor. 77, &c.) contrasts the military plans of the two usurpers: —

  • . . . Novitas audere priorem
  • Suadebat; cautumque dabant exempla sequentem.
  • Hic nova moliri præceps: hic quærere tutus
  • Providus. Hic fusis; collectis viribus ille.
  • Hic vagus excurrens; hic intra claustra reductus;
  • Dissimiles, sed morte pares. . . .

The Frigidus, a small though memorable stream in the country of Goretz, now called the Vipao [Wipbach], falls into the Sontius, or Lisonzo, above Aquileia, some miles from the Hadriatic. See D’Anville’s Ancient and Modern Maps, and the Italia Antiqua of Cluverius (tom. i. p. 188). [Mr. Hodgkin thinks the battle was fought near Heidenschafft, i. p. 578.]


Claudian’s wit is intolerable: the snow was dyed red; the cold river smoked; and the channel must have been choked with carcases, if the current had not been swelled with blood.


Theodoret affirms that St. John and St. Philip appeared to the waking, or sleeping, emperor, on horseback, &c. This is the first instance of apostolic chivalry, which afterwards became so popular in Spain and in the Crusades.

  • Te propter, gelidis Aquilo de monte procellis
  • Obruit adversas acies; revolutaque tela
  • Vertit in auctores, et turbine reppulit hastas.
  • O nimium dilecte Deo, cui fundit ab antris
  • Æolus armatas hyemes; cui militat Æther,
  • Et conjurati veniunt ad classica venti.

These famous lines of Claudian (in iii. Cons. Honor. 93, &c. ad 396) are alleged by his contemporaries, Augustin and Orosius; who suppress the Pagan deity of Æolus; and add some circumstances from the information of eye-witnesses. Within four months after the victory, it was compared by Ambrose to the miraculous victories of Moses and Joshua.


The events of this civil war are gathered from Ambrose (tom. ii. epist. lxii. p. 1022 [cp. Ep. 57]), Paulinus (in Vit. Ambros. c. 26-34), Augustin (de Civitat. Dei, v. 26), Orosius (l. vii. c. 35), Sozomen (l. vii. c. 24), Theodoret (l. v. c. 24), Zosimus (l. iv. p. 281, 282 [c. 58]), Claudian (in iii. Cons. Hon. 63-105, in iv. Cons. Hon. 70-117), and the Chronicles published by Scaliger. [See also Philostorg. xi. 2; Socrates, v. 25; Victor, Epit.; and cp. Sievers, Studien, p. 326 sqq. Cp. Appendix 2.]


This disease, ascribed by Socrates (l. v. c. 26) to the fatigues of war, is represented by Philostorgius (l. xi. c. 2) as the effect of sloth and intemperance: for which Photius calls him an impudent liar (Godefroy, Dissert. p. 438).


Zosimus supposes that the boy Honorius accompanied his father (l. iv. p. 280 [c. 58]). Yet the quanto flagrabant pectora voto, is all that flattery would allow to a contemporary poet; who clearly describes the emperor’s refusal and the journey of Honorius, after the victory (Claudian in iii. Cons. 78-125).


Zosimus, l. iv. p. 244 [c. 33].


Vegetius, de Re Militari, l. i. c. 10. The series of calamities which he marks compel us to believe that the Hero to whom he dedicates his book is the last and most inglorious of the Valentinians. [This view is maintained by O. Seeck (Hermes, 11, 61 sqq.), who contests the usual identification with Theodosius i. Theodosius ii. has also been conjectured. The minor limit for the date of the Epitome rei Militaris is ad 450 (determined by the entry in some MSS.: Fl. Eutropius emendavi sine exemplario Constantinopolim Valentiniano Aug. vii. et Abieni). The work is by no means critical or trustworthy. Cp. Förster, de fide Vegetii, 1879.]


[Beugnot, Histoire de la déstruction du paganisme, 1835; Chastel, Hist. de la déstr. du pag. dans l’empire d’orient, 1850; Lasaulx, Der Untergang des Hellenismus, 1854; G. Boissier, La fin du paganisme (2 vols.), 1891.]


St. Ambrose (tom. ii. de Obit. Theodos. p. 1208) expressly praises and recommends the zeal of Josiah in the destruction of idolatry. The language of Julius Firmicus Maternus on the same subject (de Errore Profan. Relig. p. 467, edit. Gronov.) is piously inhuman. Nec filio jubet (the Mosaic Law) parci, nec fratri, et per amatam conjugem gladium vindicem ducit, &c.


Bayle (tom. ii. p. 406, in his Commentaire Philosophique) justifies and limits these intolerant laws by the temporal reign of Jehovah over the Jews. The attempt is laudable.


See the outlines of the Roman hierarchy in Cicero (de Legibus, ii. 7, 8), Livy (i. 20), Dionysius Halicarnassensis (l. ii. p. 119-129, edit. Hudson), Beaufort (République Romaine, tom. i. p. 1-90), and Moyle (vol. i. p. 10-55). The last is the work of an English Whig, as well as of a Roman antiquary. [The number of Pontiffs and Augurs first reached fifteen in the time of Sulla. A sixteenth Augur was added by Julius Cæsar. The emperor (after ad 29) had power to create additional Augurs.]


These mystic and perhaps imaginary symbols have given birth to various fables and conjectures. It seems probable that the Palladium was a small statue (three cubits and a half high) of Minerva, with a lance and distaff; that it was usually enclosed in a seria, or barrel; and that a similar barrel was placed by its side to disconcert curiosity or sacrilege. See Mezeriac (Comment. sur les Epitres d’Ovide, tom. i. p. 60-66) and Lipsius (tom. iii. p. 610, de Vestâ, &c. c. 10).


[Cp. Lucan, i. 602. The Epulo was called Septemvir epulonum.]


[In the later Republic there were also a number of minor Flamens; in all fifteen. For some of the names, see Varro, L.L. vii. 44.]


Cicero frankly (ad Atticum, l. ii. epist. 5) or indirectly (ad Familiar. l. xv. epist. 4) confesses, that the Augurate is the supreme object of his wishes. Pliny is proud to tread in the footsteps of Cicero (l. iv. epist. 8), and the chain of tradition might be continued from history and marbles.


Zosimus, l. iv. p. 249, 250 [c. 36]. I have suppressed the foolish pun about Pontifex and Maximus. [Cp. Hodgkin, i. 400. For probable date (375 ad) see Mommsen, Staatsrecht, ii.2 p. 1108. In an inscr. of 370 ad Gratian is Pont. Max.; C.I.L. vi. 1175.]


[Compare C.I.L. 6, 749: antra facit sumptusque tuos nec Roma requirit.]


This statue was transported from Tarentum to Rome, placed in the Curia Julia by Cæsar, and decorated by Augustus with the spoils of Egypt.


Prudentius ([in Symm.] l. ii. in initio) has drawn a very awkward portrait of Victory; but the curious reader will obtain more satisfaction from Montfaucon’s Antiquities (tom. i. p. 341).


See Suetonius (in August. c. 35) and the Exordium of Pliny’s Panegyric.


These facts are mutually allowed by the two advocates, Symmachus and Ambrose.


The Notitia Urbis, more recent than Constantine, does not find one Christian church worthy to be named among the edifices of the city. Ambrose (tom. ii. epist. xvii. p. 825) deplores the public scandals of Rome, which continually offended the eyes, the ears, and the nostrils of the faithful.


Ambrose repeatedly affirms, in contradiction to common sense (Moyle’s Works, vol. ii. p. 147), that the Christians had a majority in the senate.


The first (ad 382) to Gratian, who refused them audience. The second (ad 384) to Valentinian, when the field was disputed by Symmachus and Ambrose. The third (ad 388 [so Güldenpenning, p. 172 (ad 388-9); but Seeck puts it in 391, Chronol. Symmach. in M.G.H. Auct. Ant. vi. p. lviii. See Prosper, de Prom. Dei, iii. 38]) to Theodosius; and the fourth (ad 392 [Ambrose, ep. 57]) to Valentinian. Lardner (Heathen Testimonies, vol. iv. p. 372-399) fairly represents the whole transaction.


Symmachus, who was invested with all the civil and sacerdotal honours, represented the emperor under the two characters of Pontifex Maximus and Princeps Senatus. See the proud description at the head of his works.


As if any one, says Prudentius (in Symmach. i. 639), should dig in the mud with an instrument of gold and ivory. Even saints, and polemic saints, treat this adversary with respect and civility. [One of the chief pagan Senators was Flavianus, Præt. Præf. of Italy. There is extant a virulent attack on him of unknown authorship printed in the Revue Archéologique, 1868, June. Cp. Mommsen, in Hermes, vol. 4, 1870, p. 350 sqq.]




See the fifty-fourth epistle of the tenth book of Symmachus [ = x. iii. ed. Seeck]. In the form and disposition of his ten books of epistles, he imitated the younger Pliny; whose rich and florid style he was supposed, by his friends, to equal or excel (Macrob. Saturnal. l. v. c. 1). But the luxuriancy of Symmachus consists of barren leaves, without fruits, and even without flowers. Few facts, and few sentiments, can be extracted from his verbose correspondence.


See Ambrose (tom. ii. epist. xvii. xviii. p. 825-833). The former of these epistles is a short caution; the latter is a formal reply to the petition or libel of Symmachus. The same ideas are more copiously expressed in the poetry, if it may deserve that name, of Prudentius; who composed his two books against Symmachus (ad 404) while that Senator was still alive. It is whimsical enough that Montesquieu (Considérations, &c. c. xix. tom. iii. p. 487) should overlook the two professed antagonists of Symmachus; and amuse himself with descanting on the more remote and indirect confutations of Orosius, St. Augustin, and Salvian.


See Prudentius (in Symmach. l. i. 545, &c.). The Christian agrees with the Pagan Zosimus (l. iv. p. 283 [c. 59]) in placing this visit of Theodosius after the second civil war, gemini bis victor cæde Tyranni (l. i. 410). But the time and circumstances are better suited to his first triumph.


[This can hardly be inferred from the lines of Prudentius.]


Prudentius, after proving that the sense of the senate is declared by a legal majority, proceeds to say (609, &c.):—

  • Adspice quam pleno subsellia nostra Senatu
  • Decernant infame Jovis pulvinar, et omne
  • Idolium longe purgatâ ex urbe fugandum.
  • Qua vocat egregii sententia Principis, illuc
  • Libera, cum pedibus, tum corde, frequentia transit.

Zosimus ascribes to the conscript fathers an heathenish courage, which few of them are found to possess.


Jerom specifies the pontiff Albinus, who was surrounded with such a believing family of children and grand-children as would have been sufficient to convert even Jupiter himself; an extraordinary proselyte! (tom. i. ad Lætam, p. 54 [iuvenem is the reading of the MSS.; and the correction Iovem is unwarranted. Ep. 107, Migne, Hieron. i. p. 868]).

  • Exsultare Patres videas, pulcherrima mundi
  • Lumina; conciliumque senum gestire Catonum
  • Candidiore togâ niveum pietatis amictum
  • Sumere, et exuvias deponere pontificales.

The fancy of Prudentius is warmed and elevated by victory.


Prudentius, after he has described the conversion of the senate and people, asks, with some truth and confidence,

  • Et dubitamus adhuc Romam, tibi, Christe, dicatam
  • In leges transisse tuas?

Jerom exults in the desolation of the capitol, and the other temples of Rome (tom. i. p. 54 [ep. 107], tom. ii. p. 95).


Libanius (Orat. pro Templis, p. 10, Genev. 1634, published by James Godefroy, and now extremely scarce) accuses Valentinian and Valens of prohibiting sacrifices. Some partial order may have been issued by the Eastern emperor; but the idea of any general law is contradicted by the silence of the Code and the evidence of ecclesiastical history.


See his laws in the Theodosian Code, l. xvi. tit. x. leg. 7-11.


Homer’s sacrifices are not accompanied with any inquisition of entrails (see Feithius, Antiquitat. Homer. l. i. c. 10, 16). The Tuscans, who produced the first Haruspices, subdued both the Greeks and the Romans (Cicero de Divinatione, ii. 23).


Zosimus, l. iv. p. 245, 249 [c. 37]. Theodoret, l. v. c. 21. Idatius in Chron. Prosper Aquitan. [De promissionibus et prædictionibus Dei] l. iii. c. 38, apud Baronium, Annal. Eccles. ad 389, No. 52. Libanius (pro Templis, p. 10) labours to prove that the commands of Theodosius were not direct and positive.


Cod. Theodos. l. xvi. tit. x. leg. 8, 18. There is room to believe that this temple of Edessa, which Theodosius wished to save for civil uses, was soon afterwards a heap of ruins (Libanius pro Templis, p. 26, 27, and Godefroy’s notes, p. 59).


See this curious oration of Libanius pro Templis, pronounced, or rather composed, about the year 390. I have consulted, with advantage, Dr. Lardner’s version and remarks (Heathen Testimonies, vol. iv. p. 135-163). [περὶ τω̂ν ἱερω̂ν, or. xxviii., Reiske, ii. 155 sqq., composed between 385 (Cod. Th. xvi. 10, 9, cp. Lib. 163, &c.) and 391 (Cod. Th. xvi. 10, 10, cp. Lib. 180, 182). But 388 may be the prior limit, cp. Sievers, Das Leben des Libanius, p. 192.]


See the life of Martin, by Sulpicius Severus, c. 9-14. The saint once mistook (as Don Quixote might have done) an harmless funeral for an idolatrous procession, and imprudently committed a miracle.


Compare Sozomen (l. vii. c. 15) with Theodoret (l. v. c. 21). Between them, they relate the crusade and death of Marcellus.


Libanius pro Templis, p. 10-13. He rails at these black-garbed men, the Christian monks, who eat more than elephants. Poor elephants! they are temperate animals.


Prosper Aquitan. l. iii. c. 38, apud Baronium; Annal. Eccles. ad 389, No. 58, &c. The temple had been shut some time, and the access to it was overgrown with brambles.


Donatus, Roma Antiqua et Nova, l. iv. c. 4, p. 468. This consecration was performed by Pope Boniface IV. I am ignorant of the favourable circumstances which had preserved the Pantheon above two hundred years after the reign of Theodosius.


Sophronius composed a recent and separate history (Jerom, in Script. Eccles. tom. i. p. 303), which had furnished materials to Socrates (l. v. c. 16), Theodoret (l. v. c. 22), and Rufinus (l. ii. c. 22). Yet the last, who had been at Alexandria before and after the event, may deserve the credit of an original witness.


Gerard Vossius (Opera, tom. v. p. 80, and de Idololatriâ, l. i. c. 29) strives to support the strange notion of the Fathers; that the patriarch Joseph was adored in Egypt as the bull Apis and the god Serapis.


Origo dei nondum nostris celebrata. Ægyptiorum antistites sic memorant, &c. Tacit. Hist. iv. 83. The Greeks, who had travelled into Egypt, were alike ignorant of this new deity. [Cp. Mahaffy, Empire of the Ptolemies, p. 72-74.]


Macrobius, Saturnal. l. i. c. 7. Such a living fact decisively proves his foreign extraction.


At Rome Isis and Serapis were united in the same temple. The precedency which the queen assumed may seem to betray her unequal alliance with the stranger of Pontus. But the superiority of the female sex was established in Egypt as a civil and religious institution (Diodor. Sicul. tom. i. l. 1, p. 31, edit. Wesseling), and the same order is observed in Plutarch’s Treatise of Isis and Osiris; whom he identifies with Serapis.


Ammianus (xxii. 16). The Expositio totius Mundi (p. 8, in Hudson’s Geograph. Minor. tom. iii.) and Rufinus (l. ii. c. 22) celebrate the Serapeum, as one of the wonders of the world.


See Mémoires de l’Acad. des Inscriptions, tom. ix. p. 397-416. The old library of the Ptolemies was totally consumed in Cæsar’s Alexandrian war. Marc Antony gave the whole collection of Pergamus (200,000 volumes) to Cleopatra, as the foundation of the new library of Alexandria. [See Appendix 3.]


Libanius (pro Templis, p. 21) indiscreetly provokes his Christian masters by this insulting remark.


We may choose between the date of Marcellinus (ad 389) or that of Prosper (ad 391). Tillemont (Hist. des Emp. tom. v. p. 310, 756) prefers the former, and Pagi the latter [which is probably right; so Gothofredus, ad Cod. Th. xvi. 10, 11; Güldenpenning, p. 189. Clinton decides for end of 390 ad].


Tillemont, Mém. Ecclés. tom. xi. p. 441-500. The ambiguous situation of Theophilus, — a saint, as the friend of Jerom; a devil, as the enemy of Chrysostom — produces a sort of impartiality; yet, upon the whole, the balance is justly inclined against him.


[A Mithreum: cp. Socrates, l. c.]


Lardner (Heathen Testimonies, vol. iv. p. 411) has alleged a beautiful passage from Suidas, or rather from Damascius, which shews the devout and virtuous Olympius, not in the light of a warrior, but of a prophet.


[Unde quamlibet hodieque in templis extent, quae et] nos vidimus, armaria librorum, quibus direptis exinanita ea a nostris hominibus nostris temporibus memorant [memorent]. Orosius, l. vi. c. 15, p. 421, edit. Havercamp [p. 216, ed. Zangemeister]. Though a bigot, and a controversial writer, Orosius seems to blush. [See Appendix 3.]


Eunapius, in the lives of Antonius [leg. Antoninus] and Ædesius, execrates the sacrilegious rapine of Theophilus. Tillemont (Mém. Ecclés. tom. xiii. p. 453) quotes an epistle of Isidore of Pelusium, which reproaches the primate with the idolatrous worship of gold, the auri sacra fames.


Rufinus names the priest of Saturn, who, in the character of the god, familiarly conversed with many pious ladies of quality; till he betrayed himself, in a moment of transport, when he could not disguise the tone of his voice. The authentic and impartial narrative of Æschines (see Bayle, Dictionnaire Critique, Scamandre) and the adventure of Mundus (Joseph. Antiquitat. Judaic. l. xviii. c. 3, p. 877, edit. Havercamp) may prove that such amorous frauds have been practised with success.


See the images of Serapis, in Montfaucon (tom. ii. p. 297), but the description of Macrobius (Saturnal. l. i. c. 20) is much more picturesque and satisfactory.

  • Sed fortes tremuere manus, motique verendâ
  • Majestate loci, si robora sacra ferirent
  • In sua credebant redituras membra secures.

(Lucan. iii. 429.) “Is it true (said Augustus to a veteran of Italy, at whose house he supped) that the man who gave the first blow to the golden statue of Anaitis was instantly deprived of his eyes, and of his life?” “I was that man (replied the clear-sighted veteran), and you now sup on one of the legs of the goddess.” (Plin. Hist. Natur. xxxiii. 24.)


The history of the Reformation affords frequent examples of the sudden change from superstition to contempt.


Sozomen, l. vii. c. 20. I have supplied the measure. The same standard of the inundation, and consequently of the cubit, has uniformly subsisted since the time of Herodotus. See Fréret, in the Mém. de l’Académie des Inscriptions, tom. xvi. p. 344-353. Greaves’s Miscellaneous Works, vol. i. p. 233. The Egyptian cubit is about twenty-two inches of the English measure.


Libanius (pro Templis, p. 15, 16, 17) pleads their cause with gentle and insinuating rhetoric. From the earliest age, such feasts had enlivened the country; and those of Bacchus (Georgic ii. 380) had produced the theatre of Athens. See Godefroy, ad loc. Liban. and Codex Theodos. tom. vi. p. 284.


Honorius tolerated these rustic festivals (ad 399). “Absque ullo sacrificio, atque ullâ superstitione damnabili.” But nine years afterwards he found it necessary to reiterate and enforce the same proviso (Codex Theodos. l. xvi. tit. x. leg. 17, 19). [The ordinance of certain heathen feasts in Campania, published by Imperial sanction in 387 ad, is very instructive, proving that Paganism of a kind was tolerated by Theodosius. See Schiller, ii. p. 435.]


Cod. Theodos. l. xvi. tit. x. leg. 12. Jortin (Remarks on Eccles. History, vol. iv. p. 134) censures, with becoming asperity, the style and sentiments of this intolerant law.


Such a charge should not be lightly made; but it may surely be justified by the authority of St. Augustin, who thus addresses the Donatists: “Quis nostrûm, quis vestrûm non laudat leges ab Imperatoribus datas adversus sacrificia Paganorum? Et certe longe ibi pœna severior constituta est; illius quippe impietatis capitale supplicium est.” Epist. xciii. No. 10, quoted by Le Clerc (Bibliothèque Choisie, tom. viii. p. 277), who adds some judicious reflections on the intolerance of the victorious Christians.


Orosius, l. vii. c. 28, p. 537. Augustin (Enarrat. in Psal. cxl. apud Lardner, Heathen Testimonies, vol. iv. p. 458) insults their cowardice. “Quis eorum comprehensus est in sacrificio (cum his legibus ista prohiberentur) et non negavit?”


Libanius (pro Templis, p. 17, 18) mentions, without censure, the occasional conformity, and as it were theatrical play, of these hypocrites.


Libanius concludes his apology (p. 32) by declaring to the emperor that, unless he expressly warrants the destruction of the temples, ἴσθι τοὺς τω̂ν ἀγρω̂ν δεσπότας, καὶ αὑτοɩ̂ς, καὶ τῷ νόμῳ βοηθήσοντας, the proprietors will defend themselves and the laws.


Paulinus, in Vit. Ambros. c. 26. Augustin de Civitat. Dei, l. v. c. 26. Theodoret, l. v. c. 24.


Libanius suggests the form of a persecuting edict, which Theodosius might enact (pro Templis, p. 32): a rash joke, and a dangerous experiment. Some princes would have taken his advice.

  • Denique pro meritis terrestribus æqua rependens
  • Munera, sacricolis summos impertit honores.
  • . . . . . . . . .
  • Ipse magistratum tibi consulis, ipse tribunal
  • Contulit.
  • — Prudent. in Symmach. i. 617, &c.

Libanius (pro Templis, p. 32) is proud that Theodosius should thus distinguish a man, who even in his presence would swear by Jupiter. Yet this presence seems to be no more than a figure of rhetoric.


Zosimus, who styles himself Count and Ex-advocate of the Treasury, reviles, with partial and indecent bigotry, the Christian princes, and even the father of his sovereign. His work must have been privately circulated, since it escaped the invectives of the ecclesiastical historians prior to Evagrius (l. iii. c. 40-42), who lived towards the end of the sixth century. [For date of Zosimus, see above, vol. ii. Appendix 10, p. 365.]


Yet the Pagans of Africa complained that the times would not allow them to answer with freedom the City of God; nor does St. Augustin (v. 26) deny the charge.


The Moors of Spain, who secretly preserved the Mahometan religion above a century, under the tyranny of the Inquisition, possessed the Koran, with the peculiar use of the Arabic tongue. See the curious and honest story of their expulsion in Geddes (Miscellanies, vol. i. p. 1-198).


Paganos qui supersunt, quanquam jam nullos esse credamus, &c. Cod. Theodos. l. xvi. tit. x. leg. 22, ad 423. The younger Theodosius was afterwards satisfied that his judgment had been somewhat premature.


See Eunapius, in the life of the sophist Ædesius [p. 65, ed. Commelin]; in that of Eustathius he foretells the ruin of Paganism, καί τι μυθω̂δες, καὶ ἀειδὲς σκότος τυραννήσει τὰ ἐπὶ γη̂ς κάλλιστα.


Caius (apud Euseb. Hist. Eccles. l. ii. c. 25), a Roman presbyter, who lived in the time of Zephyrinus (ad 202-219), is an early witness of this superstitious practice.


Chrysostom. Quod Christus sit Deus. Tom. i. nov. edit. No. 9. I am indebted for this quotation to Benedict the’s pastoral letter on the jubilee of the year 1750. See the curious and entertaining letters of M. Chais, tom. iii.


Male facit ergo Romanus episcopus? qui, super mortuorum hominum, Petri et Pauli, secundum nos, ossa veneranda . . . offert Domino sacrificia, et tumulos eorum Christi arbitratur altaria. Jerom. tom. ii. advers. Vigilant. p. 153 [c. 8, ed. Migne, ii. p. 346].


Jerom (tom. ii. p. 122 [c. Vigil. c. 5]) bears witness to these translations, which are neglected by the ecclesiastical historians. The passion of St. Andrew at Patræ is described in an epistle from the clergy of Achaia, which Baronius (Annal. Eccles. ad 60, No. 35) wishes to believe and Tillemont is forced to reject. St. Andrew was adopted as the spiritual founder of Constantinople (Mém. Ecclés. tom. i. p. 317-323, 588-594).


Jerom (tom. ii. p. 122) pompously describes the translation of Samuel, which is noticed in the chronicles of the times.


The presbyter Vigilantius, the protestant of his age, firmly, though ineffectually, withstood the superstition of monks, relics, saints, fasts, &c., for which Jerom compares him to the Hydra, Cerberus, the Centaurs, &c., and considers him only as the organ of the demon (tom. ii. p. 120-126). Whoever will peruse the controversy of St. Jerom and Vigilantius, and St. Augustin’s account of the miracles of St. Stephen, may speedily gain some idea of the spirit of the Fathers. [Cp. Appendix 4.]


M. de Beausobre (Hist. du Manichéisme, tom. ii. p. 648) has applied a worldly sense to the pious observation of the clergy of Smyrna who carefully preserved the relics of St. Polycarp the martyr.


Martin of Tours (see his Life, c. 8, by Sulpicius Severus) extorted this confession from the mouth of the dead man. The error is allowed to be natural; the discovery is supposed to be miraculous. Which of the two was likely to happen most frequently?


Lucian composed in Greek his original narrative, which has been translated by Avitus, and published by Baronius (Annal. Eccles. ad 415, No. 7-16). The Benedictine editors of St. Augustin have given (at the end of the work de Civitate Dei) two several copies, with many various readings. It is the character of falsehood to be loose and inconsistent. The most incredible parts of the legend are smoothed and softened by Tillemont (Mém. Ecclés. tom. ii. p. 9, &c.).


A phial of St. Stephen’s blood was annually liquefied at Naples, till he was superseded by St. Januarius (Ruinart. Hist. Persecut. Vandal. p. 529).


Augustin composed the two and twenty books de Civitate Dei in the space of thirteen years, ad 413-426 (Tillemont, Mém. Ecclés. tom. xiv. p. 608, &c.). His learning is too often borrowed, and his arguments are too often his own; but the whole work claims the merit of a magnificent design, vigorously, and not unskilfully, executed.


See Augustin, de Civitat. Dei, l. xxii. c. 22, and the Appendix, which contains two books of St. Stephen’s miracles, by Evodius, bishop of Uzalis. Freculphus (apud Basnage, Hist. des Juifs, tom. viii. p. 249) has preserved a Gallic or Spanish proverb, “Whoever pretends to have read all the miracles of St. Stephen, he lies.”


Burnet (de Statu Mortuorum, p. 56-84) collects the opinions of the fathers, as far as they assert the sleep, or repose, of human souls till the day of judgment. He afterwards exposes (p. 91, &c.) the inconveniencies which must arise, if they possessed a more active and sensible existence.


Vigilantius placed the souls of the prophets and martyrs either in the bosom of Abraham (in loco refrigerii) or else under the altar of God. Nec posse suis tumulis et ubi voluerunt adesse præsentes. But Jerom (tom. ii. p. 122) sternly refutes this blasphemy. Tu Deo leges pones? Tu apostolis vincula injicies, ut usque ad diem judicii teneantur custodiâ, nec sint cum Domino suo; de quibus scriptum est, Sequntur Agnum quocunque vadit. Si Agnus ubique, ergo, et hi, qui cum Agno sunt, ubique esse credendi sunt. Et cum diabolus et dæmones toto vagentur in orbe, &c.


Fleury, Discours sur l’Hist. Ecclésiastique, iii. p. 80.


At Minorca, the relics of St. Stephen converted, in eight days, 540 Jews, with the help, indeed, of some severities, such as burning the synagogue, driving the obstinate infidels to starve among the rocks, &c. See the original letter of Severus, bishop of Minorca (ad calcem St. Augustin. de Civ. Dei), and the judicious remarks of Basnage (tom. viii. p. 245-251).


Mr. Hume (Essays, vol. ii. p. 434) observes, like a philosopher, the natural flux and reflux of polytheism and theism.


D’Aubigné (see his own Mémoires, p. 156-160) frankly offered, with the consent of the Huguenot ministers, to allow the first 400 years as the rule of faith. The Cardinal du Perron haggled for forty years more, which were indiscreetly given. Yet neither party would have found their account in this foolish bargain.


The worship practised and inculcated by Tertullian, Lactantius, Arnobius, &c., is so extremely pure and spiritual that their declamations against the Pagan, sometimes glance against the Jewish, ceremonies.


Faustus the Manichæan accuses the Catholics of idolatry. Vertitis idola in martyres . . . quos votis similibus colitis. M. de Beausobre (Hist. Critique du Manichéisme, tom. ii. p. 629-700), a protestant, but a philosopher, has represented, with candour and learning, the introduction of Christian idolatry in the fourth and fifth centuries.


The resemblance of superstition, which could not be imitated, might be traced from Japan to Mexico. Warburton had seized this idea, which he distorts, by rendering it too general and absolute (Divine Legation, vol. iv. p. 126, &c.).


The imitation of Paganism is the subject of Dr. Middleton’s agreeable letter from Rome. Warburton’s animadversions obliged him to connect (vol. iii. p. 120-132) the history of the two religions, and to prove the antiquity of the Christian copy. [Compare transformation of birthday of Mithra into that of Christ: Momsen, C.I.L. i. p. 409.]


Alecto, envious of the public felicity, convenes an infernal synod. Megæra recommends her pupil Rufinus, and excites him to deeds of mischief, &c. But there is as much difference between Claudian’s fury and that of Virgil, as between the characters of Turnus and Rufinus.


It is evident (Tillemont, Hist. des Emp. tom. v. p. 770), though de Marca is ashamed of his countryman, that Rufinus was born at Elusa, the metropolis of Novempopulania, now a small village of Gascony (d’Anville, Notice de l’Ancienne Gaule, p. 219).


Philostorgius, l. xi. c. 3, with Godefroy’s Dissert. p. 440.


A passage of Suidas is expressive of his profound dissimulation: βαθυγνώμων ἄνθρωπος καὶ κρυψίνους. [F.H.G. iv. p. 42.]


Zosimus, l. iv. p. 272, 273 [c. 51].


Zosimus, who describes the fall of Tatian and his son (l. iv. p. 273, 274 [c. 52]), asserts their innocence; and even his testimony may outweigh the charges of their enemies (Cod. Theodos. tom. iv. p. 489), who accuse them of oppressing the Curiæ. The connection of Tatian with the Arians, while he was prefect of Egypt (ad 373), inclines Tillemont to believe that he was guilty of every crime (Hist. des Emp. tom. v. p. 360. Mém. Ecclés. tom. vi. p. 589). [Rufinus was probably not guilty of the death of Promotus. The silence of Claudian outweighs the charge of Zosimus.]

  • . . . Juvenum rorantia colla
  • Ante patrum vultus strictâ cecidere securi;
  • Ibat grandævus nato moriente superstes
  • Post trabeas exul.
  • — Claudian in Rufin. i. 248 [246-9].

The facts of Zosimus explain the allusions of Claudian; but his classic interpreters were ignorant of the fourth century. The fatal cord I found, with the help of Tillemont, in a sermon of St. Asterius of Amasea.


This odious law is recited, and repealed, by Arcadius (ad 396), in the Theodosian Code, l. ix. tit. xxxviii. leg. 9. The sense, as it is explained by Claudian (in Rufin. i. 234 [232]) and Godefroy (tom. iii. p. 279), is perfectly clear.

  • . . . Exscindere cives
  • Funditus et nomen gentis delere laborat.

The scruples of Pagi and Tillemont can arise only from their zeal for the glory of Theodosius.


Ammonius . . . Rufinum propriis manibus suscepit sacro fonte mundatum. See Rosweyde’s Vitæ Patrum, p. 947 [ed. 2, ad 1628]. Sozomen (l. viii. c. 17) mentions the church and monastery; and Tillemont (Mém. Ecclés. tom. ix. p. 593) records this synod, in which St. Gregory of Nyssa performed a conspicuous part.


Montesquieu (Esprit des Loix, l. xii. c. 12) praises one of the laws of Theodosius, addressed to the prefect Rufinus (l. ix. tit. iv. leg. unic.), to discourage the prosecution of treasonable, or sacrilegious, words. A tyrannical statute always proves the existence of tyranny; but a laudable edict may only contain the specious professions, or ineffectual wishes, of the prince, or his ministers. This, I am afraid, is a just though mortifying canon of criticism.

  • . . . fluctibus auri
  • Expleri ille calor nequit . . .
  • . . . . . . . . . .
  • Congestæ cumulantur opes; orbisque rapinas [ruinas]
  • Accipit una domus . . .

This character (Claudian in Rufin. i. 184 [183]-220) is confirmed by Jerom, a disinterested witness (dedecus insatiabilis avaritiæ, tom. i. ad Heliodor. p. 26 [Ep. 60]), by Zosimus (l. v. p. 286 [c. 1]), and by Suidas, who copied the history of Eunapius [fr. 63, F.H.G. iv. p. 42].

  • . . . Cetera segnis;
  • Ad facinus velox; penitus regione remotas
  • Impiger ire vias.

This allusion of Claudian (in Rufin. i. [239-]241) is again explained by the circumstantial narrative of Zosimus (l. v. p. 288, 289 [c. 2]).


Zosimus (l. iv. p. 243 [c. 33]) praises the valour, prudence and integrity of Bauto the Frank. See Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. v. p. 771.


Arsenius escaped from the palace of Constantinople, and passed fifty-five years in rigid penance in the monasteries of Egypt. See Tillemont, Mém. Ecclés. tom. xiv. p. 676-702; and Fleury, Hist. Ecclés. tom. v. p. 1, &c., but the latter, for want of authentic materials, has given too much credit to the legend of Metaphrastes.


This story (Zosimus, l. v. p. 290 [c. 3]) proves that the hymeneal rites of antiquity were still practised, without idolatry, by the Christians of the East; and the bride was forcibly conducted from the house of her parents to that of her husband. Our form of marriage requires, with less delicacy, the express and public consent of a virgin.


Zosimus (l. v. p. 290 [c. 4]), Orosius (l. vii. c. 37), and the Chronicle of Marcellinus. [Marcellinus used Orosius; but adds the words in Græciam, and missis clam pecuniis, from some other source.] Claudian (in Rufin. ii. 7-100) paints, in lively colours, the distress and guilt of the prefect.


Stilicho, directly or indirectly, is the perpetual theme of Claudian. The youth and private life of the hero are vaguely expressed in the poem on his first consulship, 35-140.


Vandalorum, imbellis, avaræ, perfidæ, et dolosæ, gentis, genere editus. Orosius, l. vii. c. 38. Jerom (tom. i. ad Gerontiam, p. 93) calls him a Semi-Barbarian.


Claudian, in an imperfect poem, has drawn a fair, perhaps a flattering, portrait of Serena. That favourite niece of Theodosius was born, as well as her sister Thermantia, in Spain; from whence, in their earliest youth, they were honourably conducted to the palace of Constantinople.


Some doubt may be entertained whether this adoption was legal or only metaphorical (see Ducange, Fam. Byzant. p. 75). An old inscription gives Stilicho the singular title of Pro-gener Divi Theodosii. [See Appendix 5.]


Claudian (Laus Serenæ, 190, 193) expresses, in poetic language, the “dilectus equorum,” and the “gemino mox idem culmine [inde e germine] duxit agmina.” The inscription adds, “count of the domestics,” an important command, which Stilicho, in the height of his grandeur, might prudently retain.


The beautiful lines of Claudian (in i. Cons. Stilich. ii. 113) display his genius; but the integrity of Stilicho (in the military administration) is much more firmly established by the unwilling evidence of Zosimus (l. v. p. 345 [c. 34]).

  • . . . Si bellica moles [nubes]
  • Ingrueret, quamvis annis et jure minori,
  • Cedere grandævos equitum peditumque magistros
  • Adspiceres. —
  • — Claudian, Laus Seren. p. 196, &c.

A modern general would deem their submission either heroic patriotism or abject servility.


Compare the poem on the first consulship (i. 95 [94]-115) with the Laus Serenæ (227-237 [236], where it unfortunately breaks off). We may perceive the deep inveterate malice of Rufinus.

  • . . . Quem fratribus ipse
  • Discedens clipeumque [leg. clipeum] defensoremque dedisti.

Yet the nomination (iv. Cons. Hon. 443) was private (iii. Cons. Hon. 142), cunctos discedere . . . jubet; and may therefore be suspected. Zosimus and Suidas apply to Stilicho and Rufinus the same equal title of Ἐπίτροποι, guardians, or procurators.


The Roman law distinguishes two sorts of minority, which expired at the age of fourteen and of twenty-five. The one was subject to the tutor, or guardian, of the person; the other to the curator, or trustee, of the estate (Heineccius, Antiquitat. Rom. ad Jurisprudent. pertinent. l. i. tit. xxii. xxiii. p. 218-232). But these legal ideas were never accurately transferred into the constitution of an elective monarchy.


See Claudian (i. Cons. Stilich. i. 188-242), but he must allow more than fifteen days for the journey and return between Milan and Leyden.


I. Cons. Stilich. ii. 88-94. Not only the robes and diadems of the deceased emperor, but even the helmets, sword-hilts, belts, cuirasses, &c., were enriched with pearls, emeralds, and diamonds.

  • . . . Tantoque remoto
  • Principe, mutatas orbis non sensit habenas.

This high commendation (i. Cons. Stilich. i. 149) may be justified by the fears of the dying emperor (de Bell. Gildon. 292-301), and the peace and good order which were enjoyed after his death (i. Cons. Stilich. i. 150-168).


Stilicho’s march, and the death of Rufinus, are described by Claudian (in Rufin. l. ii. 101-453), Zosimus (l. v. p. 296, 297 [c. 7]), Sozomen (l. viii. c. 1), Socrates (l. vi. c. 1), Philostorgius (l. xi. c. 3, with Godefroy, p. 441), and the Chronicle of Marcellinus. [See Appendix 6.]


[See above, vol. iv. p. 184, n. 28, and vol. iii. Appendix 4.]


The dissection of Rufinus, which Claudian performs with the savage coolness of an anatomist (in Rufin. ii. 405-415), is likewise specified by Zosimus [ib.] and Jerom (tom. i. p. 26).


The Pagan Zosimus mentions their sanctuary and pilgrimage. The sister of Rufinus, Sylvania, who passed her life at Jerusalem, is famous in monastic history. 1. The studious virgin had diligently, and even repeatedly, perused the commentators on the Bible, Origen, Gregory, Basil, &c., to the amount of five millions of lines. 2. At the age of threescore, she could boast that she had never washed her hands, face, or any part of her whole body, except the tips of her fingers to receive communion. See the Vitæ Patrum, p. 779, 977. [For the confiscation of the property of Rufinus, cp. Symmachus, ep. vi. 14.]


See the beautiful exordium of his invective against Rufinus, which is curiously discussed by the sceptic Bayle, Dictionnaire Critique, Rufin. Not. E.


See the Theodosian Code, l. ix. tit. xlii. leg. 14, 15. The new ministers attempted, with inconsistent avarice, to seize the spoils of their predecessor and to provide for their own future security.


See Claudian (i. Cons. Stilich. l. i. 275, 292, 296, l. ii. 83) and Zosimus (l. v. p. 302 [c. 11]).


Claudian turns the consulship of the eunuch Eutropius into a national reflection (l. ii. 134 [135]):—

  • . . . Plaudentem cerne senatum
  • Et Byzantinos proceres Graiosque Quirites:
  • O patribus plebes, O digni consule patres.

It is curious to observe the first symptoms of jealousy and schism between old and new Rome, between the Greeks and Latins.


Claudian may have exaggerated the vices of Gildo; but his Moorish extraction, his notorious actions, and the complaints of St. Augustin may justify the poet’s invectives. Baronius (Annal. Eccles. ad 398, No. 35-56) has treated the African rebellion with skill and learning.

  • Instat terribilis vivis, morientibus hæres,
  • Virginibus raptor, thalamis obscænus adulter.
  • Nulla quies: oritur prædâ cessante libido,
  • Divitibusque dies et nox metuenda maritis.
  • . . . Mauris clarissima quæque
  • Fastidita datur. . . .
  • [De B. G. 165 sqq. and 189

Baronius condemns, still more severely, the licentiousness of Gildo; as his wife, his daughter, and his sister were examples of perfect chastity. The adulteries of the African soldiers are checked by one of the Imperial laws.


Inque tuam sortem numerosas transtulit urbes. Claudian (de Bell. Gildonico, 220-324) has touched, with political delicacy, the intrigues of the Byzantine court which are likewise mentioned by Zosimus (l. v. p. 302 [c. 11]).


Symmachus (l. iv. epist. 4 [5, Seeck]) expresses the judicial forms of the senate; and Claudian (i. Cons. Stilich. l. i. 325, &c.) seems to feel the spirit of a Roman. [Cp. Seeck, in his ed. of Symmachus, p. lxvii. sqq.]


Claudian finely displays these complaints of Symmachus in a speech of the goddess of Rome before the throne of Jupiter (de Bell. Gildon. 28-128).


See Claudian (in Eutrop. l. i. 401, &c. i. Cons. Stilich. l. i. 306, &c. ii. Cons. Stilich. 91, &c.).


He was of a mature age; since he had formerly (ad 373) served against his brother Firmus (Ammian. xxix. 5). Claudian, who understood the court of Milan, dwells on the injuries, rather than the merits, of Mascezel (de Bell. Gild. 389-414). The Moorish war was not worthy of Honorius or Stilicho, &c.


Claudian, Bell. Gild. 415-423. The change of discipline allowed him to use indifferently the names of Legio, Cohors, Manipulus. See the Notitia Imperii, S. 38, 40.


Orosius (l. vii. c. 36, p. 565) qualifies this account with an expression of doubt (ut aiunt), and it scarcely coincides with the δυνάμεις ἁδράς of Zosimus (l. v. p. 303 [c. 11]). Yet Claudian, after some declamation about Cadmus’s soldiers, frankly owns that Stilicho sent a small army; lest the rebel should fly, ne timeare times (i. Cons. Stilich. l. i. 314, &c.).


Claud. Rutil. Numatian. Itinerar. i. 439-448. He afterwards (515-526) mentions a religious madman on the Isle of Gorgona. For such profane remarks, Rutilius and his accomplices are styled by his commentator Barthius, rabiosi canes diaboli. Tillemont (mém. Ecclés. tom. xii. p. 471) more calmly observes that the unbelieving poet praises where he means to censure.


Orosius, l. vii. c. 36, p. 564. Augustin commends two of these savage saints of the Isle of Goats (epist. lxxxi. apud. Tillemont, Mém. Ecclés. tom. xiii. p. 317, and Baronius, Annal. Eccles. ad 398, No. 51).


Here the first book of the Gildonic war is terminated. The rest of Claudian’s poem has been lost; and we are ignorant how or where the army made good their landing in Africa.


Orosius must be responsible for the account. The presumption of Gildo and his various train of Barbarians is celebrated by Claudian (i. Cons. Stilich. i. 345-355).


St. Ambrose, who had been dead about a year, revealed, in a vision, the time and place of the victory. Mascezel afterwards related his dream to Paulinus, the original biographer of the saint, from whom it might easily pass to Orosius.


Zosimus (l. v. p. 303 [c. 11]) supposes an obstinate combat; but the narrative of Orosius appears to conceal a real fact, under the disguise of a miracle.


Tabraca lay between the two Hippos (Cellarius, tom. ii. p. ii. p. 112; d’Anville, tom. iii. p. 84). Orosius has distinctly named the field of battle, but our ignorance cannot define the precise situation.


The death of Gildo is expressed by Claudian (i. Cons. Stilich. l. 357) and his best interpreters, Zosimus and Orosius.


Claudian (ii. Cons. Stilich. 99-119) describes their trial (tremuit quos Africa nuper, cernunt rostra reos) and applauds the restoration of the ancient constitution. It is here that he introduces the famous sentence, so familiar to the friends of despotism: —

  • . . . Nunquam libertas gratior exstat
  • Quam sub rege pio . . .

But the freedom which depends on royal piety scarcely deserves that appellation.


See the Theodosian Code, l. ix. tit. xxxix. leg. 3, tit. xl. leg. 19.


Stilicho, who claimed an equal share in all the victories of Theodosius and his son, particularly asserts that Africa was recovered by the wisdom of his counsels (see an inscription produced by Baronius). [Gruter, p. 412. See Appendix 5.]


I have softened the narrative of Zosimus, which, in its crude simplicity, is almost incredible (l. v. p. 303 [c. 11]). Orosius damns the victorious general (p. 538 [7, 33]) for violating the right of sanctuary.


Claudian, as the poet laureate, composed a serious and elaborate epithalamium of 340 lines: besides some gay Fescennines, which were sung in a more licentious tone on the wedding-night.

  • . . . Calet obvius re
  • Jam princeps, tardumque cupit discedere solem.
  • Nobilis haud aliter sonipes.

(de Nuptiis Honor. et Mariæ, 587) and more freely in the Fescennines (112-126 [iv. 14-29, ed. Koch]).

  • Dices “Oquotiens, “hoc mihi dulcius
  • Quam flavos decies vincere Sarmatas.”
  • . . . . . . . .
  • Tum victor madido prosilias toro
  • Nocturni referens vulnera prœlii.

See Zosimus, l. v. p. 333 [c. 28].


Procopius de Bell. Gothico, l. i. c. 2. I have borrowed the general practice of Honorius, without adopting the singular and, indeed, improbable tale which is related by the Greek historian.


The lessons of Theodosius, or rather Claudian (iv. Cons. Honor. 214-418), might compose a fine institution for the future prince of a great and free nation. It was far above Honorius and his degenerate subjects.


The revolt of the Goths and the blockade of Constantinople are distinctly mentioned by Claudian (in Rufin. l. ii. 7-100), Zosimus (l. v. p. 292 [c. 5]), and Jornandes (de Rebus Geticis, c. 29). [Alaric approached Constantinople, but did not blockade it. Cp. Keller, Stilicho, p. 31.]

  • — Alii per terga ferocis
  • Danubii solidata ruunt expertaque remis
  • Frangunt stagna rotis
  • [ib. 26].

Claudian and Ovid often amuse their fancy by interchanging the metaphors and properties of liquid water and solid ice. Much false wit has been expended in this easy exercise.


Jerom, tom. i. p. 26 [ep. 60]. He endeavours to comfort his friend Heliodorus, bishop of Altinum, for the loss of his nephew Nepotian, by a curious recapitulation of all the public and private misfortunes of the times. See Tillemont, Mém. Ecclés. tom. xii. p. 200, &c.


Baltha or bold: origo mirifica, says Jornandes (c. 29). [The meaning of the passage of Jordanes may be, as Köpke thinks, that owing to his bravery Alaric was described inter suos as a true Baltha (ὀρθώνυμος).] This illustrious race long continued to flourish in France, in the Gothic province of Septimania or Languedoc; under the corrupted appellation of Baux: and a branch of that family afterwards settled in the kingdom of Naples (Grotius in Prolegom. ad Hist. Gothic. p. 53). The lords of Baux, near Arles, and of seventy-nine subordinate places, were independent of the counts of Provence (Longuerue, Description de la France, tom. i. p. 357).


Zosimus (l. v. p. 293-295 [c. 5]) is our best guide for the conquest of Greece; but the hints and allusion of Claudian are so many rays of historic light.


Compare Herodotus (l. vii. c. 176) and Livy (xxxvi. 15). The narrow entrance of Greece was probably enlarged by each successive ravisher. [The sea has retreated far from the pass.]


He passed, says Eunapius (in Vit. Philosoph. p. 93, edit. Commelin, 1596), through the straits, διὰ τω̂ν πυλω̂ν (of Thermopylæ) παρη̂λθεν, ὥσπερ διὰ σταδίου καὶ ὶπποκρότου πεδίου τρέχων. [On Alaric in Greece, cp. App. 7.]


In obedience to Jerom and Claudian (in Rufin. l. ii. 191), I have mixed some darker colours in the mild representation of Zosimus, who wished to soften the calamities of Athens.

Nec fera Ceropias traxissent vincula matres.

Synesius (Epist. clvi. [leg. 135], p. 272, edit. Petav.) observes that Athens, whose sufferings he imputes to the proconsul’s avarice, was at that time less famous for her schools of philosophy than for her trade of honey.

  • — Vallata mari Scironia rupes
  • Et duo continuo connectens æquora muro
  • Isthmos —
  • — Claudian de Bell. Getico, 188.

The Scironian rocks are described by Pausanias (l. i. c. 44, p. 107, edit. Kuhn [§10]), and our modern travellers, Wheeler (p. 436), and Chandler (p. 298). Hadrian made the road passable for two carriages.


Claudian (in Rufin. l. ii. 186, and de Bello Getico, 611, &c.) vaguely, though forcibly, delineates the scene of rapine and destruction.


Τρὶς μάκαρες Δαναοὶ καὶ τετράκις, &c. These generous lines of Homer (Odyss. l. v. 306) were transcribed by one of the captive youths of Corinth; and the tears of Mummius may prove that the rude conqueror, though he was ignorant of the value of an original picture, possessed the purest source of good taste, a benevolent heart (Plutarch, Symposiac. l. ix. tom. ii. p. 737, edit. Wechel).


Homer perpetually describes the exemplary patience of those female captives, who gave their charms, and even their hearts, to the murderers of their fathers, brothers, &c. Such a passion (of Eriphile for Achilles) is touched with admirable delicacy by Racine.


Plutarch (in Pyrrho, tom. ii. p. 471, edit. Brian [c. 26, ad fin.]) gives the genuine answer in the Laconic dialect. Pyrrhus attacked Sparta, with 25,000 foot, 2000 horse, and 24 elephants: and the defence of that open town is a fine comment on the laws of Lycurgus, even in the last stage of decay.


Such, perhaps, as Homer (Iliad, xx. 164) has so nobly painted him.


Eunapius (in Vit. Philosoph. p. 90-93) intimates that a troop of Monks betrayed Greece and followed the Gothic camp. [Cp. Appendix 7.]


For Stilicho’s Greek war, compare the honest narrative of Zosimus (l. v. p. 295, 296 [c. 7]) with the curious circumstantial flattery of Claudian (i. Cons. Stilich. l. 172-186; iv. Cons. Hon. 459-487). As the event was not glorious, it is artfully thrown into the shade. [See Appendix 6.]


The troops who marched through Elis delivered up their arms. This security enriched the Eleans, who were lovers of a rural life. Riches begat pride; they disdained their privilege, and they suffered. Polybius advises them to retire once more within their magic circle. See a learned and judicious discourse on the Olympic games, which Mr. West has prefixed to his translation of Pindar.


Claudian (in iv. Cons. Hon. 480) alludes to the fact, without naming the river: perhaps the Alpheus (i. Cons. Stilich. l. i. 185).

  • ——— Et Alpheus Geticis angustus acervis
  • Tardior ad Siculos etiamnum pergit amores.

Yet I should prefer the Peneus, a shallow stream in a wide and deep bed, which runs through Elis, and falls into the sea below Cyllene. It had been joined with the Alpheus, to cleanse the Augean stable (Cellarius, tom. i. p. 760; Chandler’s Travels, p. 286).


Strabo, l. viii. p. 517; Plin. Hist. Natur. iv. 3; Wheeler, p. 308; Chandler, p. 275. They measured from different points the distance between the two lands.


Synesius passed three years (ad 397-400) at Constantinople, as deputy from Cyrene to the emperor Arcadius. He presented him with a crown of gold, and pronounced before him the instructive oration de Regno (p. 1-32, edit. Petav. Paris, 1612) [ad 399]. The philosopher was made bishop of Ptolemais, ad 410, and died about 430. See Tillemont, Mém. Ecclés. tom. xii. p. 499, 554, 683-685.


Synesius de Regno, p. 21-26.

  • ——— qui fœdera rumpit
  • Ditatur: qui servat, eget: vastator Achivæ
  • Gentis, et Epirum nuper populatus inultam
  • Præsidet Illyrico; jam, quos obsedit, amicos
  • Ingreditur muros; illis responsa daturus
  • Quorum conjugibus potitur natosque peremit.

Claudian in Eutrop. l. ii. 212. Alaric applauds his own policy (de Bell Getic. 533-543) in the use which he had made of this Illyrian jurisdiction. [The precise title is uncertain; but Master-General is probable. From de B. G. 534, ducem, Mr. Hodgkin suggests Dux Daciæ ripensis et Mœsiæ primæ.]


Jornandes, c. 29, p. 651. The Gothic historian adds, with unusual spirit, Cum suis deliberans suasit suo labore quærere regna, quam alienis per otium subjacere. [It is much more probable that he was proclaimed king (thiudans) in 395 ad, after the death of Theodosius; see Hodgkin, i. 653. Isidore gives the date 382, which Clinton accepts.]

  • ——— Discors odiisque anceps civibus orbis
  • Non sua vis tutata diu, dum fœdera fallax
  • Ludit, et alternæ perjuria venditat aulæ.
  • —Claudian de Bell. Get. 565.

Alpibus Italiæ ruptis penetrabis ad Urbem. This authentic prediction was announced by Alaric, or at least by Claudian (de Bell. Getico, 547), seven years before the event. But, as it was not accomplished within the term which has been rashly fixed, the interpreters escaped through an ambiguous meaning. [For Claudian’s acrostich in this passage, see Appendix 8.]


Our best materials are 970 verses of Claudian, in the poem on the Getic war, and the beginning of that which celebrates the sixth consulship of Honorius. Zosimus is totally silent; and we are reduced to such scraps, or rather crumbs, as we can pick from Orosius and the Chronicles.


Notwithstanding the gross errors of Jornandes, who confounds the Italian wars of Alaric (c. 29), his date of the consulship of Stilicho and Aurelian (ad 400) is firm and respectable. It is certain from Claudian (Tillemont, Hist. des Emp. tom. v. p. 804) that the battle of Pollentia was fought ad 403; but we cannot easily fill the interval. [The right date is 402; see Appendix 9.]


Tantum Romanæ urbis judicium fugis, ut magis obsidionem barbaricam, quam pacatæ urbis judicium velis sustinere. Jerom, tom. ii. p. 239. Rufinus understood his danger: the peaceful city was inflamed by the beldam Marcella and the rest of Jerom’s faction. [Cp. vol. iv. Appendix 5.]


Jovinian, the enemy of fasts and celibacy, who was persecuted and insulted by the furious Jerom (Jortin’s Remarks, vol. iv. p. 104, &c.). See the original edict of banishment in the Theodosian Code, l. xvi. tit. v. leg. 43.


This epigram (de Sene Veronensi qui suburbium nusquam egressus est) is one of the earliest and most pleasing compositions of Claudian. Cowley’s imitation (Hurd’s edition, vol. ii. p. 241) has some natural and happy strokes: but it is much inferior to the original portrait, which is evidently drawn from the life.

  • Ingentem meminit parvo qui germine quercum
  • Æquævum que videt consenuisse nemus.
  • A neighbouring wood born with himself he sees,
  • And loves his old contemporary trees.

In this passage, Cowley is perhaps superior to his original; and the English poet, who was a good botanist, has concealed the oaks under a more general expression.


Claudian de Bell. Get. 192-266. He may seem prolix: but fear and superstition occupied as large a space in the minds of the Italians.


From the passages of Paulinus, which Baronius has produced (Annal. Eccles. ad 403, No. 51), it is manifest that the general alarm had pervaded all Italy, as far as Nola in Campania, where that famous penitent had fixed his abode.


Solus erat Stilicho, &c., is the exclusive commendation which Claudian bestows (de Bell. Get. 267) without condescending to except the emperor. How insignificant must Honorius have appeared in his own court!


The face of the country, and the hardiness of Stilicho, are finely described (de Bell. Get. 340-363). [The danger which Stilicho had to meet in Rætia and Vindelicia was an attack of the Goth Radagaisus, who was in league with Alaric; see Prosper, sub anno 400, a notice which has been improperly confounded with that under 505, and cp. Appendix 9.]

  • Venit et extremis legio prætenta Britannis
  • Quæ Scoto dat frena truci.
  • — De Bell. Get. 416.

Yet the most rapid march from Edinburgh, or Newcastle, to Milan must have required a longer space of time than Claudian seems willing to allow for the duration of the Gothic war.


Every traveller must recollect the face of Lombardy (see Fontenelle, tom. v. p. 279), which is often tormented by the capricious and irregular abundance of waters. The Austrians, before Genoa, were encamped in the dry bed of the Polcevera. “Ne sarebbe” (says Muratori) “mai passato per mente a que’ buoni Alemanni, che quel picciolo torrente potesse, per cosi dire, in un instante cangiarsi in un terribil gigante” (Annal. d’Italia, tom. xvi. p. 443. Milan, 1753, 8vo edit.).


Claudian does not clearly answer our question, Where was Honorius himself? Yet the flight is marked by the pursuit; and my idea of the Gothic war is justified by the Italian critics, Sigonius (tom. i. P. ii. p. 369, de Imp. Occident, l. x.) and Muratori (Annali d’Italia, tom. iv. p. 45).


One of the roads may be traced in the Itineraries (p. 98, 288, 294, with Wesseling’s notes). Asta lay some miles on the right hand.


Asta, or Asti, a Roman colony, is now the capital of a pleasant country, which, in the sixteenth century, devolved to the dukes of Savoy (Leandro Alberti, Descrizzione d’Italia, p. 382). [The town meant by Claudian is Milan; see Appendix 9.]


Nec me timor impulit ullus. He might hold this proud language the next year at Rome, five hundred miles from the scene of danger (vi. Cons. Hon. 449).

  • Hanc ego vel victor regno vel morte tenebo
  • Victus humum ——

The speeches (de Bell. Get. 479-549) of the Gothic Nestor and Achilles are strong, characteristic, adapted to the circumstances, and possibly not less genuine than those of Livy.


Orosius (l. vii. c. 37) is shocked at the impiety of the Romans who attacked, on Easter Sunday, such pious Christians. Yet, at the same time, public prayers were offered at the shrine of St. Thomas of Edessa, for the destruction of the Arian robber. See Tillemont (Hist. des Emp. tom. v. p. 529), who quotes an homily, which has been erroneously ascribed to St. Chrysostom. [For date see Appendix 9.]


The vestiges of Pollentia are twenty-five miles to the south-east of Turin. Urbs [River Urbis= Borbo; see Tillemont, H. des Emp. v. 530], in the same neighbourhood, was a royal chace of the Kings of Lombardy, and a small river, which excused the prediction, “penetrabis ad urbem.” Cluver. Ital. Antiq. tom. i. p. 83-85.


Orosius wishes, in doubtful words, to insinuate the defeat of the Romans. “Pugnantes vicimus, victores victi sumus.” Prosper (in Chron.) makes it an equal and bloody battle; but the Gothic writers, Cassiodorius (in Chron.) and Jornandes (de Reb. Get. c. 29) claim a decisive victory. [The Goths may have been slightly victorious on the field of battle; but they clearly received a decisive strategic defeat.]

  • Demens Ausonidum gemmata monilia matrum,
  • Romanasque alta famulas cervice petebat.
  • — De Bell. Get. 627.

[The capture of Alaric’s wife is a totally unjustifiable inference from these lines. Cp. Von Wietersheim, Gesch. der Völkerwanderung (ed. Dahn), 2, 189.]


Claudian (de Bell. Get. 586-647) and Prudentius (in Symmach. l. ii. 694-719) celebrate, without ambiguity, the Roman victory of Pollentia. They are poetical and party writers; yet some credit is due to the most suspicious witnesses, who are checked by the recent notoriety of facts.


Claudian’s peroration is strong and elegant; but the identity of the Cimbric and Gothic fields must be understood (like Virgil’s Philippi, Georgic i. 490) according to the loose geography of a poet. Vercellæ and Pollentia are sixty miles from each other; and the latitude is still greater, if the Cimbri were defeated in the wide and barren plain of Verona (Maffei, Verona Illustrata, P. i. p. 54-62).


Claudian and Prudentius must be strictly examined, to reduce the figures, and extort the historic sense of those poets.

  • Et gravant en airain ses frêles avantages.
  • De mes états conquis enchaîner les images.

The practice of exposing in triumph the images of kings and provinces was familiar to the Romans. The bust of Mithridates himself was twelve feet high, of massy gold (Freinshem. Supplement. Livian. ciii. 47).


[Alaric was retreating and had no idea of advancing on Rome. He was obliged to retreat towards the Apennines (Claud. de vi. Cons. Hon. 183). Stilicho let him go once more (as before in the Peloponnesus). Cp. von Wietersheim, op. cit. 2, 230.]


[Claudian alone mentions this battle. See for date, Appendix 9.]


The Getic war and the sixth consulship of Honorius obscurely connect the events of Alaric’s retreat and losses.


Taceo de Alarico . . . sæpe victo, sæpe concluso, semperque dimisso. Orosius, l. vii. c. 37, p. 567. Claudian (vi. Cons. Hon. 320) drops the curtain with a fine image.


The remainder of Claudian’s poem on the sixth consulship of Honorius describes the journey, the triumph, and the games (330-660).


See the inscription in Mascou’s History of the Ancient Germans, viii. 12. The words are positive and indiscreet, Getarum nationem in omne ævum domitam [leg. docuere extingui], &c. [C.I.L. 6, 1196. It probably refers to the defeat of Radagaisus, ad 405. See Appendix 5.]


On the curious, though horrid, subject of the gladiators, consult the two books of the Saturnalia of Lipsius, who, as an antiquarian, is inclined to excuse the practice of antiquity (tom. iii. p. 483-545).


Cod. Theodos. l. xv. tit. xii. leg. 1. The commentary of Godefroy affords large materials (tom. v. p. 396) for the history of gladiators.


See the peroration of Prudentius (in Symmach. l. ii. 1121-1131), who had doubtless read the eloquent invective of Lactantius (Divin. Institut. l. vi. c. 20). The Christian apologists have not spared these bloody games, which were introduced in the religious festivals of Paganism.


Theodoret, l. v. c. 26. I wish to believe the story of St. Telemachus. Yet no church has been dedicated, no altar has been erected, to the holy monk who died a martyr in the cause of humanity. [There is evidence for gladiatorial spectacles some years later.]


Crudele gladiatorum spectaculum et inhumanum nonnullis videri solet, et haud scio an ita sit, ut nunc fit. Cic. Tusculan. ii. 17. He faintly censures the abuse and warmly defends the use of these sports; oculis nulla poterat esse fortior contra dolorem et mortem disciplina. Seneca (epist. vii.) shews the feelings of a man.


This account of Ravenna is drawn from Strabo (l. v. p. 327 [c. i. § 7]), Pliny (iii. 20), Stephen of Byzantium (sub voce Ῥάβεννα, p. 651, edit. Berkel), Claudian (in vi. Cons. Honor. 494, &c.), Sidonius Apollinaris (l. i. epist. v. 8), Jornandes (de Reb. Get. c. 29), Procopius (de Bell. Gothic. l. i. c. 1, p. 309, edit. Louvre), and Cluverius (Ital. Antiq. tom. i. p. 301-307). Yet I still want a local antiquarian, and a good topographical map. [C. Ricci, Ravenna e i suoi dintorni.]


Martial (epigram iii. 56, 57) plays on the trick of the knave who had sold him wine instead of water; but he seriously declares that a cistern at Ravenna is more valuable than a vineyard. Sidonius complains that the town is destitute of fountains and aqueducts, and ranks the want of fresh water among the local evils, such as the croaking of frogs, the stinging of gnats, &c.


The fable of Theodore and Honoria, which Dryden has so admirably transplanted from Boccaccio (Giornata, iii. novell. viii.), was acted in the wood of Chiassi, a corrupt word from Classis, the naval station, which, with the intermediate road or suburb, the Via Caesaris, constituted the triple city of Ravenna.


From the year 404, the dates of the Theodosian Code become sedentary at Constantinople and Ravenna. See Godefroy’s Chronology of the Laws, tom. i. p. cxlviii. &c.


See M. de Guignes, Hist. des Huns, tom. i. p. 179-189, tom. ii. p. 295, 334-338. [His empire “extended east and west from Corea to Harashar and south as far as the country of the Tukuhun and the modern Kan Suh province.” “Northwest of Zarun’s empire were the remains of the Hiungnu, and they were all gradually annexed by him. This modest statement, which precedes the distinct limitation of his dominions in a westerly direction to the north of Harashar — at the utmost Tarbagatai or Kuldja — is evidently the ground for Gibbon’s mistaken statement that he ‘vanquished the Huns to the north of the Caspian.’ ” Mr. E. H. Parker, A Thousand Years of the Tartars, p. 161-2.]


Procopius (de Bell. Vandal. l. i. c. iii. p. 182) has observed an emigration from the Palus Mæotis to the north of Germany, which he ascribes to famine. But his views of ancient history are strangely darkened by ignorance and error.


Zosimus (l. v. p. 331 [c. 26]) uses the general description of the nations beyond the Danube and the Rhine. Their situation, and consequently their names, are manifestly shown, even in the various epithets which each ancient writer may have casually added.


The name of Rhadagast was that of a local deity of the Obotrites (in Mecklenburgh). A hero might naturally assume the appellation of his tutelar god; but it is not probable that the Barbarians should worship an unsuccessful hero. See Mascou, Hist. of the Germans, viii. 14. [His name suggested that Radagaisus was a Slav; but he is now generally supposed to be a Goth.]


Olympiodorus (apud Photium, p. 180 [F.H.G. iv. p. 59, fr. 9]) uses the Greek word Ὀπτιμάτοι; which does not convey any precise idea. I suspect that they were the princes and nobles, with their faithful companions; the knights with their squires, as they would have been styled some centuries afterwards.


Tacit. de Moribus Germanorum, c. 37.

  • — Cujus agendi
  • Spectator vel causa fui,
  • —— Claudian, vi. Cons. Hon. 439.

is the modest language of Honorius, in speaking of the Gothic war, which he had seen somewhat nearer.


Zosimus (l. v. p. 331 [c. 26]) transports the war and the victory of Stilicho beyond the Danube. A strange error, which is awkwardly and imperfectly cured by reading Ἄρνον for Ἴστρον (Tillemont, Hist. des Emp. tom. v. p. 807). In good policy, we must use the service of Zosimus, without esteeming or trusting him. [But see Appendix 10.]


Codex Theodos. l. vii. tit. xiii. leg. 16. The date of this law (ad 406, 18th May) satisfies me, as it had done Godefroy (tom. ii. p. 387), of the true year of the invasion of Radagaisus. Tillemont, Pagi, and Muratori prefer the preceding year; but they are bound, by certain obligations of civility and respect, to St. Paulinus of Nola. [ad 405 is the true date, given by our best authority, Prosper.]


Soon after Rome had been taken by the Gauls, the senate, on a sudden emergency, armed ten legions, 3000 horse, and 42,000 foot; a force which the city could not have sent forth under Augustus (Livy, vii. 25). This declaration may puzzle an antiquary, but it is clearly explained by Montesquieu.


Machiavel has explained, at least as a philosopher, the origin of Florence, which insensibly descended, for the benefit of trade, from the rock of Fæsulæ to the banks of the Arno (Istoria Fiorentina, tom. i. l. ii. p. 36, Londra, 1747). The Triumvirs sent a colony to Florence, which, under Tiberius (Tacit. Annal. i. 79), deserved the reputation and name of a flourishing city. See Cluver. Ital. Antiq. tom. i. p. 507, &c.


Yet the Jupiter of Radagaisus who worshipped Thor and Woden was very different from the Olympic or Capitoline Jove. The accommodating temper of Polytheism might unite those various and remote deities, but the genuine Romans abhorred the human sacrifices of Gaul and Germany.


Paulinus (in Vit. Ambros. c. 50) relates this story, which he received from the mouth of Pansophia herself, a religious matron of Florence. Yet the archbishop soon ceased to take an active part in the business of the world, and never became a popular saint.


Augustin de Civitat. Dei, v. 23. Orosius, l. vii. c. 37, p. 567-571. The two friends wrote in Africa, ten or twelve years after the victory; and their authority is implicitly followed by Isidore of Seville (in Chron. p. 713, edit. Grot). How many interesting facts might Orosius have inserted in the vacant space which is devoted to pious nonsense!

  • Franguntur montes, planumque per ardua Cæsar
  • Ducit opus: pandit fossas, turritaque summis
  • Disponit castella jugis, magnoque recessu
  • Amplexus fines; saltus nemorosaque tesqua
  • Et silvas vastâque feras indagine claudit.

Yet the simplicity of truth (Cæsar, de Bell. Civ. iii. 44) is far greater than the amplifications of Lucan (Pharsal. l. vi. 29-63).


The rhetorical expressions of Orosius, “In arido et aspero montis jugo,” “in unum ac parvum verticem,” are not very suitable to the encampment of a great army. But Fæsulæ, only three miles from Florence, might afford space for the headquaters of Radagarisus, and would be comprehended within the circuit of the Roman lines.


See Zosimus, l. v. p. 331 [c. 26], and the Chronicles of Prosper and Marcellinus.


Olympiodorus (apud Photium, p. 180) uses an expression (προσηταιρίσατο) which would denote a strict and friendly alliance, and render Stilicho still more criminal [fr. 9, F.H.G. iv. p. 59. The expression refers to Gothic chiefs, not to Radagaisus.]. The paulisper detentus, deinde interfectus, of Orosius is sufficiently odious.


Orosius, piously inhuman, sacrifices the king and people, Agag and the Amalekites, without a symptom of compassion. The bloody actor is less detestable than the cool unfeeling historian.


And Claudian’s muse, was she asleep? had she been ill paid? Methinks the seventh consulship of Honorius (ad 407) would have furnished the subject of a noble poem. [See below, p. 192, and cp. vol. ix. Appendix 5.] Before it was discovered that the state could no longer be saved, Stilicho (after Romulus, Camillus, and Marius) might have been worthily surnamed the fourth founder of Rome.


A luminous passage of Prosper’s Chronicle, “In tres partes, per diversos principes, divisus exercitus,” reduces the miracle of Florence, and connects the history of Italy, Gaul, and Germany.


Orosius and Jerom positively charge him with instigating the invasion. “Excitatæ a Stilichone gentes,” &c. They must mean indirectly. He saved Italy at the expense of Gaul.


The Count de Buat is satisfied that the Germans who invaded Gaul were the two thirds that yet remained of the army of Radagaisus. See the Histoire Ancienne des Peuples de l’Europe (tom. vii. p. 87-121. Paris, 1772); an elaborate work, which I had not the advantage of perusing till the year 1777. As early as 1771, I find the same idea expressed in a rough draught of the present History. I have since observed a similar intimation in Mascou (viii. 15). Such agreement, without mutual communication, may add some weight to our common sentiment. [That the invaders of Gaul went forth from Noricum and Vindelicia seems probable.]

  • — Provincia missos
  • Expellet citius fasces quam Francia reges
  • Quos dederis.

Claudian (i. Cons. Stil. i. 235 [236], &c.) is clear and satisfactory. These kings of France are unknown to Gregory of Tours; but the author of the Gesta Francorum mentions both Sunno and Marcomir, and names the latter as the father of Pharamond (in tom. ii. p. 543). He seems to write from good materials, which he did not understand. [Mr. Hodgkin places this journey of Stilicho in the first half of ad 396 (i. 660). The source for it is Claudian, de iv. Cons. Hon. 439 sqq.]


See Zosimus (l. vi. p. 373 [c. 3]). Orosius (l. vii. c. 40, p. 576), and the Chronicles. Gregory of Tours (l. ii. c. 9, p. 165, in the second volume of the Historians of France) has preserved a valuable fragment of Renatus Profuturus Frigeridus, whose three names denote a Christian, a Roman subject, and a Semi-barbarian.


Claudian (i. Cons. Stil. l. i. 221, &c., l. ii. 186) describes the peace and prosperity of the Gallic frontier. The Abbé Dubos (Hist. Critique, &c., tom. i. p. 174) would read Alba (a nameless rivulet of the Ardennes) instead of Albis, and expatiates on the danger of the Gallic cattle grazing beyond the Elbe. Foolish enough! In poetical geography, the Elbe, and the Hercynian, signify any river, or any wood in Germany. Claudian is not prepared for the strict examination of our antiquaries.

  • — Geminasque viator
  • Cum videat ripas, quæ sit Romana requirat.

Jerom, tom. i. p. 93. See in the 1st vol. of the Historians of France, p. 777, 782, the proper extracts from the Carmen de Providentiâ Divinâ, and Salvian. The anonymous poet was himself a captive, with his bishop and fellow-citizens.


The Pelagian doctrine, which was first agitated ad 405, was condemned, in the space of ten years at Rome and Carthage. St. Augustin fought and conquered, but the Greek Church was favourable to his adversaries; and (what is singular enough) the people did not take any part in a dispute which they could not understand.


See Mémoires de Guillaume du Bellay, l. vi. In French the original reproof is less obvious and more pointed, from the double sense of the word journée, which signifies a day’s travel or a battle.


Claudian (i. Cons. Stil. l. ii. 250). It is supposed that the Scots of Ireland invaded, by sea, the whole western coast of Britain; and some slight credit may be given even to Nennius and the Irish traditions (Carte’s Hist. of England, vol. i. p. 169. Whitaker’s Genuine History of the Britons, p. 199). The sixty-six lives of St. Patrick, which were extant in the ninth century, must have contained as many thousand lies; yet we may believe that, in one of these Irish inroads, the future apostle was led away captive (Usher, Antiquit. Eccles. Britann. p. 431, and Tillemont, Mém. Ecclés. tom. xvi. p. 456, 782, &c.).


The British usurpers are taken from Zosimus (l. vi. p. 371-375 [c. 2]), Orosius (l. vii. c. 40, p. 576, 577), Olympiodorus (apud Photium, p. 180, 181 [fr. 12]), the ecclesiastical historians, and the Chronicles. The Latins are ignorant of Marcus. [According to Zosimus, the invasion of Gaul by the Vandals caused the revolt in Britain. For the usurpers see Appendix 11 and 12.]


Cum in Constantino inconstantiam . . . execrarentur (Sidonius Apollinaris, l. v. epist. 9, p. 139, edit. secund. Sirmond.). Yet Sidonius might be tempted, by so fair a pun, to stigmatise a prince who had disgraced his grandfather.


Bagaudæ is the name which Zosimus applies to them [Βακαύδαις. vi. 2]; perhaps they deserved a less odious character (see Dubos, Hist. Critique, tom. i. p. 203, and this History, vol. iii. p. 64). We shall hear of them again. [Here they appear as a sort of national militia. Cp. Freeman, in Eng. Hist. Review, i. 63.]


Verinianus, Didymus, Theodosius, and Lagodius, who, in modern courts, would be styled princes of the blood, were not distinguished by any rank or privileges above the rest of their fellow-subjects.


These Honoriani, or Honoriaci, consisted of two bands of Scots, or Attacotti, two of Moors, two of Marcomanni, the Victores, the Ascarii, and the Gallicani (Notitia Imperii, sect. xxxviii. edit. Lab.). They were part of the sixty-five Auxilia Palatina, and are properly styled ἐν τῃ̑ αὐλῃ̑ τάξεις by Zosimus (l. vi. p. 374 [c. 4]). [Mr. Hodgkin rightly observes that it is a mistake to suppose that the troops of Aux. Pal., called Honoriani, formed a single division, or necessarily acted together. The Honoriani in Gaul had nothing to do with the Honoriani in Illyricum; and Constantine had only to do with the Honoriani in Gaul. Moreover the phrase of Zosimus does not refer to Auxilia Palatina.]

  • —— Comitatur euntem
  • Pallor et atra fames, et saucia lividus ora
  • Luctus, et inferni stridentes agmine morbi.
  • — Claudian in vi. Cons. Hon. 321, &c.

These dark transactions are investigated by the Count de Buat (Hist. des Peuples de l’Europe, tom. vii. c. iii.-viii. p. 69-206), whose laborious accuracy may sometimes fatigue a superficial reader.


See Zosimus, l. v. p. 334, 335 [c. 29]. He interrupts his scanty narrative, to relate the fable of Æmona, and of the ship Argo, which was drawn over from that place to the Hadriatic. Sozomen (l. viii. c. 25, l. ix. c. 4) and Socrates (l. vii. c. 10) cast a pale and doubtful light; and Orosius (l. vii. c. 38, p. 571) is abominably partial.


Zosimus, l. v. p. 338, 339 [c. 29]. He repeats the words of Lampadius as they were spoke in Latin, “Non est ista pax, sed pactio servitutis,” and then translates them into Greek for the benefit of his readers.


He came from the coast of the Euxine, and exercised a splendid office, λαμπ ρα̂ς δὲ στρατείας ἐν τοɩ̂ς βασιλείοις ἀξιούμενος. His actions justify his character, which Zosimus (l. v. p. 340 [c. 32]) exposes with visible satisfaction. Augustin revered the piety of Olympius, whom he styles a true son of the church (Baronius, Annal. Eccles. ad 408, No. 19, &c. Tillemont, Mém. Ecclés. tom. xiii. p. 467, 468). But these praises, which the African saint so unworthily bestows, might proceed as well from ignorance as from adulation.


Zosimus, l. v. p. 338, 339 [c. 31]. Sozomen, l. ix. c. 4. Stilicho offered to undertake the journey to Constantinople, that he might divert Honorius from the vain attempt. The Eastern empire would not have obeyed, and could not have been conquered.


Zosimus (l. v. p. 336-345 [c. 30]) has copiously, though not clearly, related the disgrace and death of Stilicho. Olympiodorus (apud Phot. p. 177 [fr. 2]), Orosius (l. vii. c. 38, p. 571, 572), Sozomen (l. ix. c. 4), and Philostorgius (l. xi. c. 3, l. xii. c. 2) afford supplemental hints.


Zosimus, l. v. p. 333 [c. 28]. The marriage of a Christian with two sisters scandalises Tillemont (Hist. des Empereurs, tom. v. p. 557), who expects, in vain, that Pope Innocent I. should have done something in the way either of censure or of dispensation.


Two of his friends are honourably mentioned (Zosimus, l. v. p. 346 [c. 35]): Peter, chief of the school of notaries, and the great chamberlain Deuterius. Stilicho had secured the bedchamber, and it is surprising that, under a feeble prince, the bedchamber was not able to secure him.


Orosius (l. vii. c. 38, p. 571, 572) seems to copy the false and furious manifestoes which were dispersed through the provinces by the new administration.


See the Theodosian Code, l. vii. tit. xvi. leg. 1., l. ix. tit. xlii. leg. 22. Stilicho is branded with the name of praedo publicus, who employed his wealth ad omnem ditandam inquietandamque Barbariem. [Especially noteworthy is the measure of Stilicho, mentioned in C. Th. vii. 16, 1, which closed the ports of Italy to all comers from the realm of Arcadius.]


Augustin himself is satisfied with the effectual laws which Stilicho had enacted against heretics and idolaters, and which are still extant in the Code. He only applies to Olympius for their confirmation (Baronius, Annal. Eccles. ad 408, No.