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conducted the captive emperor to Rome, and gave him CHAP. the most solemn assurances that he had secured his * life by the resignation of the purple. But Severus could obtain only an easy death and an imperial funeral. When the sentence was signified to him, the manner A.D. 307. of executing it was left to his own choice; he pre-” ferred the favourite mode of the ancients, that of opening his veins: and as soon as he expired, his body was carried to the sepulchre which had been constructed for the family of Gallienus." Though the characters of Constantine and Maxen- Maximian tius had very little affinity with each other, their io: situation and interest were the same ; and prudence ..."
the title of seemed to require that they should unite their forces A*.
- - - to Conagainst the common enemy. Notwithstanding the stantine, superiority of his age and dignity, the indefatigable *ś. Maximian passed the Alps, and courting a personal interview with the sovereign of Gaul, carried with him his daughter Fausta as the pledge of the new alliance. The marriage was celebrated at Arles with every circumstance of magnificence; and the ancient colleague of Diocletian, who again asserted his claim to the western empire, conferred on his son-in-law and ally the title of Augustus. By consenting to receive that honour from Maximian, Constantine seemed to embrace the cause of Rome and of the senate ; but his professions were ambiguous, and his assistance slow and ineffectual. He considered with attention the approaching contest between the masters of Italy and the emperor of the East, and was prepared to consult his own safety or ambition in the event of the war.”
" The circumstances of this war, and the death of Severus, are very doubtfully and variously told in our ancient fragments (see Tillemont, Hist, des Empereurs, tom. iv. part i. p. 555). I have endeavoured to extract from them a consistent and probable narration. * The sixth Panegyric was pronounced to celebrate the elevation of Constantine; but the prudent orator avoids the mention either of Galerius or of Maxentius.
The importance of the occasion called for the presence and abilities of Galerius. At the head of a powerful army collected from Illyricum and the East, he entered Italy, resolved to revenge the death of Severus, and to chastise the rebellious Romans; or, as he expressed his intentions, in the furious language of a barbarian, to extirpate the senate, and to destroy the people by the sword. But the skill of Maximian had concerted a prudent system of defence. The invader found every place hostile, fortified, and inaccessible; and though he forced his way as far as Narni, within sixty miles of Rome, his dominion in Italy was confined to the narrow limits of his camp. Sensible of the increasing difficulties of his enterprise, the haughty Galerius made the first advances towards a reconciliation, and despatched two of his most considerable officers to tempt the Roman princes by the offer of a conference, and the declaration of his paternal regard for Maxentius, who might obtain much more from his liberality than he could hope from the doubtful chance of war." The offers of Galerius were rejected with firmness, his perfidious friendship refused with contempt, and it was not long before he discovered, that, unless he provided for his safety by a timely retreat, he had some reason to apprehend the fate of Severus. The wealth, which the Romans defended against his rapacious tyranny, they freely contributed for his destruction. The name of Maximian, the popular arts of his son, the secret distribution of large sums, and the promise of still more liberal rewards, checked the ardour, and corrupted the fidelity, of the Illyrian
He introduces only one slight allusion to the actual troubles, and to the majesty of Rome.
y With regard to this negotiation, see the fragments of an anonymous historian, published by Walesius at the end of his edition of Ammianus Marcellinus, p. 711. These fragments have furnished us with several curious, and, as it should seem, authentic anecdotes.
legions; and when Galerius at length gave the signal §§
of the retreat, it was with some difficulty that he could prevail on his veterans not to desert a banner which had so often conducted them to victory and honour. A contemporary writer assigns two other causes for the failure of the expedition; but they are both of such a nature, that a cautious historian will scarcely venture to adopt them. We are told that Galerius, who had formed a very imperfect notion of the greatness of Rome by the cities of the East, with which he was acquainted, found his forces inadequate to the siege of that immense capital. But the extent of a city serves only to render it more accessible to the enemy; Rome had long since been accustomed to submit on the approach of a conqueror; nor could the temporary enthusiasm of the people have long contended against the discipline and valour of the legions. We are likewise informed, that the legions themselves were struck with horror and remorse, and that those pious sons of the republic refused to violate the sanctity of their venerable parent.” But when we recollect with how much ease, in the more ancient civil wars, the zeal of party, and the habits of military obedience, had converted the native citizens of Rome into her most implacable enemies, we shall be inclined to distrust this extreme delicacy of strangers and barbarians, who had never beheld Italy, till they entered it in a hostile manner. Had they not been restrained by motives of a more interested nature, they would probably have answered Galerius in the words of Caesar's veterans: “If our general wishes to lead us to the banks of the Tyber, we are prepared to trace out his camp. Whatsoever walls he has determined to level
* Lactantius de M. P. c. 28. The former of these reasons is probably taken from Virgil's Shepherd: “Illam ego huic nostrae similem Meliboee putavi, &c.” Lactantius delights in these poetical allusions.
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with the ground, our hands are ready to work the engines: nor shall we hesitate, should the name of the devoted city be Rome itself.” These are indeed the expressions of a poet; but of a poet who has been distinguished, and even censured, for his strict
adherence to the truth of history."
The legions of Galerius exhibit a very melancholy proof of their disposition, by the ravages.which they committed in their retreat. They murdered, they ravished, they plundered, they drove away the flocks and herds of the Italians; they burnt the villages through which they passed, and they endeavoured to destroy the country which it had not been in their power to subdue. During the whole march, Maxentius hung on their rear, but he very prudently declined a general engagement with those brave and desperate veterans. His father had undertaken a secondjourney into Gaul, with the hope of persuading Constantine, who had assembled an army on the frontier, to join the pursuit, and to complete the victory. But the actions of Constantine were guided by reason, and not by resentment. He persisted in the wise resolution of maintaining a balance of power in the divided empire, and he no longer hated Galerius, when that aspiring prince had ceased to be an object of terror.”
The mind of Galerius was the most susceptible of the sterner passions, but it was not, however, incapable of a sincere and lasting friendship. Licinius, whose manners as well as character were not unlike his own, seems to have engaged both his affection o
* Castra super Tusci si ponere Tybridis undas; (jubeas)
Hesperios audax veniam metator in agros.
Tu quoscunque voles in planum effundere muros,
His aries actus disperget saxa lacertis;
Illa licet penitus tolli quam jusseris urbem
Roma sit. Lucan. Pharsal. i. 381.
* Lactantius de M. P. c. 27. Zosim. l. ii. p. 82. The latter insinuates,
that Constantine, in his interview with Maximian, had promised to declare war against Galerius.
and esteem. Their intimacy had commenced in the happier period perhaps of their youth and obscurity. It had been cemented by the freedom and dangers of a military life; they had advanced almost by equal steps through the successive honours of the service; and as soon as Galerius was invested with the imperial dignity, he seems to have conceived the design of raising his companion to the same rank with himself. During the short period of his prosperity, he considered the rank of Caesar as unworthy of the age and merit of Licinius, and rather chose to reserve for him the place of Constantius, and the empire of the West. While the emperor was employed in the Italian war, he intrusted his friend with the defence of the Danube; and immediately after his return from that unfortunate expedition, he invested Licinius with the vacant purple of Severus, resigning to his immediate command the provinces of Illyricum." The news of his promotion was no sooner carried into the East, than Maximin, who governed, or rather oppressed, the countries of Egypt and Syria, betrayed his envy and discontent, disdained the inferior name of Caesar, and, notwithstanding the prayers as well as arguments of Galerius, exacted, almost by violence, the equal title of Augustus." For the first, and indeed for the last time, the Roman world was ad
ministered by six emperors. In the West, Constantine six en
- - perors. and Maxentius affected to reverence their father A.D.308.
• M. de Tillemont (Hist, des Empereurs, tom. iv. part i. p. 559) has proved, that Licinius, without passing through the intermediate rank of Caesar, was declared Augustus, the llth of November, A. D. 307, after the return of Galerius from Italy.
* Lactantius de M. P. c. 32. When Galerius declared Licinius Augustus with himself, he tried to satisfy his younger associates, by inventing for Constantine and Marimin (not Marentius, see Baluze, p. 81), the new title of sons of the Augusti. But when Maximin acquainted him that he had been saluted Augustus by the army, Galerius was obliged to acknowledge him, as well as Constantine, as equal associates in the imperial dignity.