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The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Volume 3
by Edward Gibbon
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[Footnote 43: We may choose between the date of Marcellinus (A.D. 389) or that of Prosper, ( A.D. 391.) Tillemont (Hist. des Emp. tom. v. p. 310, 756) prefers the former, and Pagi the latter.]

[Footnote 44: Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. 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.]

[Footnote 4411: No doubt a temple of Osiris. St. Martin, iv 398-M.]

[Footnote 45: Lardner (Heathen Testimonies, vol. iv. p. 411) has alleged beautiful passage from Suidas, or rather from Damascius, which show the devout and virtuous Olympius, not in the light of a warrior, but of a prophet.]

[Footnote 46: Nos vidimus armaria librorum, quibus direptis, exinanita ea a nostris hominibus, nostris temporibus memorant. Orosius, l. vi. c. 15, p. 421, edit. Havercamp. Though a bigot, and a controversial writer. Orosius seems to blush.]

[Footnote 47: Eunapius, in the Lives of Antoninus and Aedesius, execrates the sacrilegious rapine of Theophilus. Tillemont (Mem. Eccles. 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.]

[Footnote 4711: An English traveller, Mr. Wilkinson, has discovered the secret of the vocal Memnon. There was a cavity in which a person was concealed, and struck a stone, which gave a ringing sound like brass. The Arabs, who stood below when Mr. Wilkinson performed the miracle, described sound just as the author of the epigram.—M.]

[Footnote 48: 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 Aeschines, (see Bayle, Dictionnaire Critique, Scamandre,) and the adventure of Mudus, (Joseph. Antiquitat. Judaic. l. xviii. c. 3, p. 877 edit. Havercamp,) may prove that such amorous frauds have been practised with success.]

[Footnote 49: 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.]

[Footnote 50:

Sed fortes tremuere manus, motique verenda 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)]

[Footnote 51: The history of the reformation affords frequent examples of the sudden change from superstition to contempt.]

[Footnote 52: 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 Freret, in the Mem. de l'Academie 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. * Note: Compare Wilkinson's Thebes and Egypt, p. 313.—M.]

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 opposed 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 honor 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. [53] Whatever might be the truth of the facts, or the merit of the distinction, [54] these vain pretences were swept away by the last edict of Theodosius, which inflicted a deadly wound on the superstition of the Pagans. [55] [5511] 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 honor 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 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. [56]

[Footnote 53: 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.]

[Footnote 54: Honorius tolerated these rustic festivals, (A.D. 399.) "Absque ullo sacrificio, atque ulla 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.)]

[Footnote 55: 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.]

[Footnote 5511: Paganism maintained its ground for a considerable time in the rural districts. Endelechius, a poet who lived at the beginning of the fifth century, speaks of the cross as Signum quod perhibent esse crucis Dei, Magnis qui colitur solus inurbibus. In the middle of the same century, Maximus, bishop of Turin, writes against the heathen deities as if their worship was still in full vigor in the neighborhood of his city. Augustine complains of the encouragement of the Pagan rites by heathen landowners; and Zeno of Verona, still later, reproves the apathy of the Christian proprietors in conniving at this abuse. (Compare Neander, ii. p. 169.) M. Beugnot shows that this was the case throughout the north and centre of Italy and in Sicily. But neither of these authors has adverted to one fact, which must have tended greatly to retard the progress of Christianity in these quarters. It was still chiefly a slave population which cultivated the soil; and however, in the towns, the better class of Christians might be eager to communicate "the blessed liberty of the gospel" to this class of mankind; however their condition could not but be silently ameliorated by the humanizing influence of Christianity; yet, on the whole, no doubt the servile class would be the least fitted to receive the gospel; and its general propagation among them would be embarrassed by many peculiar difficulties. The rural population was probably not entirely converted before the general establishment of the monastic institutions. Compare Quarterly Review of Beugnot. vol lvii. p. 52—M.]

[Footnote 56: 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 nostrum, quis vestrum non laudat leges ab Imperatoribus datas adversus sacrificia Paganorum? Et certe longe ibi poera severior constituta est; illius quippe impietatis capitale supplicium est." Epist. xciii. No. 10, quoted by Le Clerc, (Bibliotheque Choisie, tom. viii. p. 277,) who adds some judicious reflections on the intolerance of the victorious Christians. * Note: Yet Augustine, with laudable inconsistency, disapproved of the forcible demolition of the temples. "Let us first extirpate the idolatry of the hearts of the heathen, and they will either themselves invite us or anticipate us in the execution of this good work," tom. v. p. 62. Compare Neander, ii. 169, and, in p. 155, a beautiful passage from Chrysostom against all violent means of propagating Christianity.—M.]



Chapter XXVIII: Destruction Of Paganism.—Part III.

In the cruel reigns of Decius and Dioclesian, 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 costumes 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 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. [57] 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 favorite 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. [58] 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 opposition [59] of the peasants of Syria, and the populace of Alexandria, to the rage of private fanaticism, was silenced by the name and 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 apostasy; 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 labored to deserve the favor of Heaven by the extirpation of idolatry. [60]

[Footnote 57: Orosius, l. vii. c. 28, p. 537. Augustin (Enarrat. in Psalm cxl apud Lardner, Heathen Testimonies, vol. iv. p. 458) insults their cowardice. "Quis eorum comprehensus est in sacrificio (cum his legibus sta prohiberentur) et non negavit?"]

[Footnote 58: Libanius (pro Templis, p. 17, 18) mentions, without censure the occasional conformity, and as it were theatrical play, of these hypocrites.]

[Footnote 59: Libanius concludes his apology (p. 32) by declaring to the emperor, that unless he expressly warrants the destruction of the temples, the proprietors will defend themselves and the laws.]

[Footnote 60: Paulinus, in Vit. Ambros. c. 26. Augustin de Civitat. Dei, l. v. c. 26. Theodoret, l. v. c. 24.]

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. [61] 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 honors of the empire. [6111] Theodosius distinguished his liberal regard for virtue and genius by the consular dignity, which he bestowed on Symmachus; [62] and by the personal friendship which he expressed to Libanius; [63] 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 philosophic remains of Eunapius, Zosimus, [64] 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. [65] 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 or 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, 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. [66] 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. [67]

[Footnote 61: 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.]

[Footnote 6111: The most remarkable instance of this, at a much later period, occurs in the person of Merobaudes, a general and a poet, who flourished in the first half of the fifth century. A statue in honor of Merobaudes was placed in the Forum of Trajan, of which the inscription is still extant. Fragments of his poems have been recovered by the industry and sagacity of Niebuhr. In one passage, Merobaudes, in the genuine heathen spirit, attributes the ruin of the empire to the abolition of Paganism, and almost renews the old accusation of Atheism against Christianity. He impersonates some deity, probably Discord, who summons Bellona to take arms for the destruction of Rome; and in a strain of fierce irony recommends to her other fatal measures, to extirpate the gods of Rome:—

Roma, ipsique tremant furialia murmura reges. Jam superos terris atque hospita numina pelle: Romanos populare Deos, et nullus in aris Vestoe exoratoe fotus strue palleat ignis. Ilis instructa dolis palatia celsa subibo; Majorum mores, et pectora prisca fugabo Funditus; atque simul, nullo discrimine rerum, Spernantur fortes, nec sic reverentia justis. Attica neglecto pereat facundia Phoebo: Indignis contingat honos, et pondera rerum; Non virtus sed casus agat; tristique cupido; Pectoribus saevi demens furor aestuet aevi; Omniaque hoec sine mente Jovis, sine numine sumimo.

Merobaudes in Niebuhr's edit. of the Byzantines, p. 14.—M.]

[Footnote 62: Denique pro meritis terrestribus aequa rependens

Munera, sacricolis summos impertit honores.

Dux bonus, et certare sinit cum laude suorum, Nec pago implicitos per debita culmina mundi Ire viros prohibet. Ipse magistratum tibi consulis, ipse tribunal

Contulit. Prudent. in Symmach. i. 617, &c.

Note: I have inserted some lines omitted by Gibbon.—M.]

[Footnote 63: 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.]

[Footnote 64: 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. * Note: Heyne in his Disquisitio in Zosimum Ejusque Fidem. places Zosimum towards the close of the fifth century. Zosim. Heynii, p. xvii.—M.]

[Footnote 65: 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.]

[Footnote 66: 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.)]

[Footnote 67: Paganos qui supersunt, quanquam jam nullos esse credamus, &c. Cod. Theodos. l. xvi. tit. x. leg. 22, A.D. 423. The younger Theodosius was afterwards satisfied, that his judgment had been somewhat premature. Note: The statement of Gibbon is much too strongly worded. M. Beugnot has traced the vestiges of Paganism in the West, after this period, in monuments and inscriptions with curious industry. Compare likewise note, p. 112, on the more tardy progress of Christianity in the rural districts.—M.]

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 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 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." [68] 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 honors of the martyrs. One hundred and fifty years after the glorious deaths of St. Peter and St. Paul, the Vatican and the Ostian road were distinguished by the tombs, or rather by the trophies, of those spiritual heroes. [69] In the age which followed the conversion of Constantine, the emperors, the consuls, and the generals of armies, devoutly visited the sepulchres of a tentmaker and a fisherman; [70] and their venerable bones were deposited under the altars of Christ, on which the bishops of the royal city continually offered the unbloody sacrifice. [71] The new 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 transported, in solemn pomp, to the church of the apostles, which the magnificence of Constantine had founded on the banks of the Thracian Bosphorus. [72] About fifty years afterwards, the same banks were honored 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. [73] The example of Rome and Constantinople confirmed the faith and discipline of the Catholic world. The honors of the saints and martyrs, after a feeble and ineffectual murmur of profane reason, [74] were 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.

[Footnote 68: See Eunapius, in the Life of the sophist Aedesius; in that of Eustathius he foretells the ruin of Paganism.]

[Footnote 69: Caius, (apud Euseb. Hist. Eccles. l. ii. c. 25,) a Roman presbyter, who lived in the time of Zephyrinus, (A.D. 202-219,) is an early witness of this superstitious practice.]

[Footnote 70: Chrysostom. Quod Christus sit Deus. Tom. i. nov. edit. No. 9. I am indebted for this quotation to Benedict the XIVth's pastoral letter on the Jubilee of the year 1759. See the curious and entertaining letters of M. Chais, tom. iii.]

[Footnote 71: Male facit ergo Romanus episcopus? qui, super mortuorum hominum, Petri & Pauli, secundum nos, ossa veneranda ... offeri Domino sacrificia, et tumulos eorum, Christi arbitratur altaria. Jerom. tom. ii. advers. Vigilant. p. 183.]

[Footnote 72: Jerom (tom. ii. p. 122) bears witness to these translations, which are neglected by the ecclesiastical historians. The passion of St. Andrew at Patrae is described in an epistle from the clergy of Achaia, which Baronius (Annal. Eccles. A.D. 60, No. 34) wishes to believe, and Tillemont is forced to reject. St. Andrew was adopted as the spiritual founder of Constantinople, (Mem. Eccles. tom. i. p. 317-323, 588-594.)]

[Footnote 73: Jerom (tom. ii. p. 122) pompously describes the translation of Samuel, which is noticed in all the chronicles of the times.]

[Footnote 74: 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 Daemon, (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.]

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 stones, [75] 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. [76] 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.

[Footnote 75: M. de Beausobre (Hist. du Manicheisme, 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.]

[Footnote 76: 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?]

II. But the progress of superstition would have been 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, [77] 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 odor, 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 peaceful residence of Caphargamala: but the relics of the first martyr were transported, in solemn procession, to a church constructed in their honor on Mount Sion; and the minute particles of those relics, a drop of blood, [78] 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, [79] 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 favorably 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. [80] 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 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.

[Footnote 77: Lucian composed in Greek his original narrative, which has been translated by Avitus, and published by Baronius, (Annal. Eccles. A.D. 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, (Mem. Eccles. tom. ii. p. 9, &c.)]

[Footnote 78: A phial of St. Stephen's blood was annually liquefied at Naples, till he was superseded by St. Jamarius, (Ruinart. Hist. Persecut. Vandal p. 529.)]

[Footnote 79: Augustin composed the two-and-twenty books de Civitate Dei in the space of thirteen years, A.D. 413-426. Tillemont, (Mem. Eccles. 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.]

[Footnote 80: 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. vii. p. 249) has preserved a Gallic or a Spanish proverb, "Whoever pretends to have read all the miracles of St. Stephen, he lies."]

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. [81] 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. [82] 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 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 favorite 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. [83] 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. [84] The immediate, and almost instantaneous, effects that were supposed to follow the prayer, or the offence, satisfied the Christians of the ample measure of favor 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 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. [85]

[Footnote 81: 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 inconveniences which must arise, if they possessed a more active and sensible existence.]

[Footnote 82: 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 praesentes. But Jerom (tom. ii. p. 122) sternly refutes this blasphemy. Tu Deo leges pones? Tu apostolis vincula injicies, ut usque ad diem judicii teneantur custodia, nec sint cum Domino suo; de quibus scriptum est, Sequuntur Agnum quocunque vadit. Si Agnus ubique, ergo, et hi, qui cum Agno sunt, ubique esse credendi sunt. Et cum diabolus et daemones tote vagentur in orbe, &c.]

[Footnote 83: Fleury Discours sur l'Hist. Ecclesiastique, iii p. 80.]

[Footnote 84: At Minorca, the relics of St. Stephen converted, in eight days, 540 Jews; with the help, indeed, of some wholesome 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.)]

[Footnote 85: Mr. Hume (Essays, vol. ii. p. 434) observes, like a philosopher, the natural flux and reflux of polytheism and theism.]

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, [86] Tertullian, or Lactantius, [87] had been suddenly raised from the dead, to assist at the festival of some popular saint, or martyr, [88] 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 noonday, 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, consisting, for the most part, of strangers and pilgrims, who resorted 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 saint, 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 favors 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: [89] 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 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. [90] [9011]

[Footnote 86: D'Aubigne (see his own Memoires, 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.]

[Footnote 87: 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.]

[Footnote 88: Faustus the Manichaean accuses the Catholics of idolatry. Vertitis idola in martyres.... quos votis similibus colitis. M. de Beausobre, (Hist. Critique du Manicheisme, tom. ii. p. 629-700,) a Protestant, but a philosopher, has represented, with candor and learning, the introduction of Christian idolatry in the fourth and fifth centuries.]

[Footnote 89: The resemblance of superstition, which could not be imitated, might be traced from Japan to Mexico. Warburton has seized this idea, which he distorts, by rendering it too general and absolute, (Divine Legation, vol. iv. p. 126, &c.)]

[Footnote 90: 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.]

[Footnote 9011: But there was always this important difference between Christian and heathen Polytheism. In Paganism this was the whole religion; in the darkest ages of Christianity, some, however obscure and vague, Christian notions of future retribution, of the life after death, lurked at the bottom, and operated, to a certain extent, on the thoughts and feelings, sometimes on the actions.—M.]



Chapter XXIX: Division Of Roman Empire Between Sons Of Theodosius.—Part I.

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 was then 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 Aethiopia. 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 praefecture of Illyricum was divided between the two princes: the 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 intrusted to the valor of Theodosius, were forever 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 favorite, 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 avarice [1] had urged Rufinus to abandon his native country, an obscure corner of Gaul, [2] to advance his fortune in the capital of the East: the talent of bold and ready elocution, [3] qualified him to succeed in the lucrative profession of the law; and his success in that profession was a regular step to the most honorable 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 preeminence 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 favorite. 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 a hero gratified his revenge; the honors of the consulship elated his vanity; but his power was still imperfect and precarious, as long as the important posts of praefect of the East, and of praefect of Constantinople, were filled by Tatian, [6] and his son Proculus; whose united authority balanced, for some time, the ambition and favor of the master of the offices. The two praefects were accused of rapine and corruption in the administration of the laws and finances. For the trial of these illustrious 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 praefecture 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 favorable 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 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 praefects 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; stigmatized a guiltless people with a mark of ignominy; and declared, that the countrymen of Tatian and Proculus should forever remain incapable of holding any employment of honor or advantage under the Imperial government. [8] The new praefect of the East (for Rufinus instantly succeeded to the vacant honors 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 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]

[Footnote 1: Alecto, envious of the public felicity, convenes an infernal synod Megaera 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.]

[Footnote 2: 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 Gassony, (D'Anville, Notice de l'Ancienne Gaule, p. 289.)]

[Footnote 3: Philostorgius, l. xi c. 3, with Godefroy's Dissert. p. 440.]

[Footnote 4: A passage of Suidas is expressive of his profound dissimulation.]

[Footnote 5: Zosimus, l. iv. p. 272, 273.]

[Footnote 6: Zosimus, who describes the fall of Tatian and his son, (l. iv. p. 273, 274,) asserts their innocence; and even his testimony may outweigh the charges of their enemies, (Cod. Theod. tom. iv. p. 489,) who accuse them of oppressing the Curiae. The connection of Tatian with the Arians, while he was praefect of Egypt, (A.D. 373,) inclines Tillemont to believe that he was guilty of every crime, (Hist. des Emp. tom. v. p. 360. Mem. Eccles. tom vi. p. 589.)]

[Footnote 7:—Juvenum rorantia colla Ante patrum vultus stricta cecidere securi.

Ibat grandaevus nato moriente superstes Post trabeas exsul. —-In Rufin. i. 248.

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.]

[Footnote 8: This odious law is recited and repealed by Arcadius, (A.D. 296,) on the Theodosian Code, l. ix. tit. xxxviii. leg. 9. The sense as it is explained by Claudian, (in Rufin. i. 234,) 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.]

[Footnote 9: Ammonius.... Rufinum propriis manibus suscepit sacro fonte mundatum. See Rosweyde's Vitae Patrum, p. 947. Sozomen (l. viii. c. 17) mentions the church and monastery; and Tillemont (Mem. Eccles. tom. ix. p. 593) records this synod, in which St. Gregory of Nyssa performed a conspicuous part.]

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 praefect 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, 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 favor, which he instituted in the palace of Constantinople. The ambitious candidate eagerly solicited, at the expense of the fairest part of his patrimony, the honors 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 praefect 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 labored 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 dependants served him without 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 praefect, 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 praefect 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 praefect 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 with out a trial, to suffer a cruel and ignominious punishment. The ministers of the tyrant, by the orders, 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 was accelerated by the hope of accomplishing, without delay, the nuptials of his daughter with the emperor of the East. [12]

[Footnote 10: Montesquieu (Esprit des Loix, l. xii. c. 12) praises one of the laws of Theodosius addressed to the praefect 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.]

[Footnote 11:

—fluctibus auri Expleri sitis ista nequit— ***** Congestae cumulantur opes; orbisque ruinas Accipit una domus.

This character (Claudian, in. Rufin. i. 184-220) is confirmed by Jerom, a disinterested witness, (dedecus insatiabilis avaritiae, tom. i. ad Heliodor. p. 26,) by Zosimus, (l. v. p. 286,) and by Suidas, who copied the history of Eunapius.]

[Footnote 12:

—Caetera segnis; Ad facinus velox; penitus regione remotas Impiger ire vias.

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

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 favor, of the absent, are obliterated in a short time from the mind of a weak and capricious sovereign. While the praefect satiated his revenge at Antioch, a secret conspiracy of the favorite 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 ardor 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 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 favor 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, 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 praefect 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 praefect, 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]

[Footnote 13: Zosimus (l. iv. p. 243) praises the valor, prudence, and integrity of Bauto the Frank. See Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. v. p. 771.]

[Footnote 14: Arsenius escaped from the palace of Constantinople, and passed fifty-five years in rigid penance in the monasteries of Egypt. See Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. tom. xiv. p. 676-702; and Fleury, Hist Eccles. tom. v. p. 1, &c.; but the latter, for want of authentic materials, has given too much credit to the legend of Metaphrastes.]

[Footnote 15: This story (Zosimus, l. v. p. 290) 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.]

[Footnote 16: Zosimus, (l. v. p. 290,) Orosius, (l. vii. c. 37,) and the Chronicle of Marcellinus. Claudian (in Rufin. ii. 7-100) paints, in lively colors, the distress and guilt of the praefect.]

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 stigmatize his adversaries, Rufinus, or Eutropius, with eternal infamy; or to paint, in the most splendid colors, the victories and virtues of a powerful 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 of 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 demi-gods 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 valor 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 he return to Constantinople, his merit was rewarded by an intimate and honorable alliance with 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 Serena [19] 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 favor of her adopted 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 valor 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 honor, or of pride, the Roman generals might yield the preeminence 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 Bastarnae 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 labors 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] The first measure of his administration, or rather of his reign, displayed to the nations the vigor 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 Basil 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 honorable 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.

[Footnote 17: 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.]

[Footnote 18: Vandalorum, imbellis, avarae, perfidae, et dolosae, gentis, genere editus. Orosius, l. vii. c. 38. Jerom (tom. i. ad Gerontiam, p. 93) call him a Semi-Barbarian.]

[Footnote 19: Claudian, in an imperfect poem, has drawn a fair, perhaps a flattering, portrait of Serena. That favorite niece of Theodosius was born, as well as here sister Thermantia, in Spain; from whence, in their earliest youth, they were honorably conducted to the palace of Constantinople.]

[Footnote 20: 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 Theodosius]

[Footnote 21: Claudian (Laus Serenae, 190, 193) expresses, in poetic language "the dilectus equorum," and the "gemino mox idem culmine duxit agmina." The inscription adds, "count of the domestics," an important command, which Stilicho, in the height of his grandeur, might prudently retain.]

[Footnote 22: The beautiful lines of Claudian (in i. Cons. Stilich. ii. 113) displays 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.)]

[Footnote 23:—Si bellica moles Ingrueret, quamvis annis et jure minori,

Cedere grandaevos equitum peditumque magistros

Adspiceres. Claudian, Laus Seren. p. 196, &c. A modern general would deem their submission either heroic patriotism or abject servility.]

[Footnote 24: Compare the poem on the first consulship (i. 95-115) with the Laus Serenoe (227-237, where it unfortunately breaks off.) We may perceive the deep, inveterate malice of Rufinus.]

[Footnote 25:—Quem fratribus ipse Discedens, clypeum defensoremque dedisti. Yet the nomination (iv. Cons. Hon. 432) 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 guardians, or procurators.]

[Footnote 26: 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.]

[Footnote 27: 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.]



Chapter XXIX: Division Of Roman Empire Between Sons Of Theodosius.—Part II.

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 citizens from 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 reconducting in person the troops of the East, and dexterously employed the rumor 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 Adriatic, 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 Barbarians 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 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 praefect 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, 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 praefect, 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. [31] According to the savage 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 exercise of Christian devotions, in the peaceful retirement of Jerusalem. [32]

[Footnote 28: I. Cons. Stilich. ii. 88-94. Not only the robes and diadems of the deceased emperor, but even the helmets, sword-hilts, belts, rasses, &c., were enriched with pearls, emeralds, and diamonds.]

[Footnote 29:—Tantoque remoto Principe, mutatas orbis non sensit habenas. This high commendation (i. Cons. Stil. 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. Stil i. 150-168.)]

[Footnote 30: Stilicho's march, and the death of Rufinus, are described by Claudian, (in Rufin. l. ii. 101-453, Zosimus, l. v. p. 296, 297,) Sozomen (l. viii. c. 1,) Socrates, l. vi. c. 1,) Philostorgius, (l. xi c. 3, with Godefory, p. 441,) and the Chronicle of Marcellinus.]

[Footnote 31: The dissection of Rufinus, which Claudian performs with the savage coolness of an anatomist, (in Rufin. ii. 405-415,) is likewise specified by Zosimus and Jerom, (tom. i. p. 26.)]

[Footnote 32: 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 the communion. See the Vitae Patrum, p. 779, 977.] 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 license. 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. [33] Such an act might vindicate the honor 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. [34] Even Stilicho did 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 favorite, 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 favor 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 favorites of Arcadius fomented a secret and irreconcilable 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 labored, 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 countrymen. [35] 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; [36] 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.

[Footnote 33: See the beautiful exordium of his invective against Rufinus, which is curiously discussed by the sceptic Bayle, Dictionnaire Critique, Rufin. Not. E.]

[Footnote 34: 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.]

[Footnote 35: See Claudian, (i. Cons. Stilich, l. i. 275, 292, 296, l. ii. 83,) and Zosimus, (l. v. p. 302.)]

[Footnote 36: Claudian turns the consulship of the eunuch Eutropius into a national reflection, (l. ii. 134):—

—-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.]

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 favorites; and his reluctance to involve the two empires in a civil war displayed the moderation of a minister, who had so often signalized 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, [37] 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 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 provinces 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 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; [38] 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 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 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 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. [39]

[Footnote 37: 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. A.D. 398, No. 35-56) has treated the African rebellion with skill and learning.]

[Footnote 38:

Instat terribilis vivis, morientibus haeres, Virginibus raptor, thalamis obscoenus adulter. Nulla quies: oritur praeda cessante libido, Divitibusque dies, et nox metuenda maritis. Mauris clarissima quaeque Fastidita datur. ——De Bello Gildonico, 165, 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.]

[Footnote 39: Inque tuam sortem numerosas transtulit urbes. Claudian (de Bell. Gildonico, 230-324) has touched, with political delicacy, the intrigues of the Byzantine court, which are likewise mentioned by Zosimus, (l. v. p. 302.)]

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. [40] A 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 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 praefect Symmachus, who presided in the deliberations of the senate, admonished the minister of his just apprehension, that as soon as the revengeful Moor should prohibit the exportation of corn, the and perhaps the safety, of the capital would be threatened by the hungry rage of a turbulent multitude. [41] 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 Tyber. 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. [42]

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