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THE

HISTORY

OF

THE DECLINE AND FALL

OF THE

ROMAN EMPIRE.

CHAPTER XIV.

Troubles after the abdication of Diocletian.—Death of Constantius.-Elevation of Constantine and Mawentius.-Sia emperors at the same time.— Death of Marimian and Galerius.—Wictories of Constantine over Maalentius and Licinius.-Reunion of the empire under the authority of Constantine.

THE balance of power established by Diocletian CHAP. subsisted no longer than while it was sustained by the firm and dexterous hand of the founder. It required Period of such a fortunate mixture of different tempers and .." abilities, as could scarcely be found or even expected on, a second time; two emperors without jealousy, two-oo: Caesars without ambition, and the same general interest invariably pursued by four independent princes. The abdication of Diocletian and Maximian was succeeded by eighteen years of discord and confusion. The empire was afflicted by five civil wars; and the remainder of the time was not so much a state of

VOL. II. B

CHAP.
XIV.

Character and situa

tranquillity as a suspension of arms between several
hostile monarchs, who, viewing each other with an
eye of fear and hatred, strove to increase their re-
spective forces at the expense of their subjects.
As soon as Diocletian and Maximian had resigned

ion the purple, their station, according to the rules of the

stantius.

new constitution, was filled by the two Caesars, Constantius and Galerius, who immediately assumed the title of Augustus." The honours of seniority and precedence were allowed to the former of those princes, and he continued, under a new appellation, to administer his ancient department of Gaul, Spain, and Britain. The government of those ample provinces was sufficient to exercise his talents, and to satisfy his ambition. Clemency, temperance, and moderation, distinguished the amiable character of Constantius, and his fortunate subjects had frequently occasion to compare the virtues of their sovereign with the passions of Maximian, and even with the arts of Diocletian." Instead of imitating their eastern pride and magnificence, Constantius preserved the modesty of a Roman prince. He declared, with unaffected sincerity, that his most valued treasure was in the hearts of his people, and that, whenever the dignity of the throne, or the danger of the state, required any extraordinary supply, he could depend with confidence on their gratitude and liberality." The provincials of Gaul, Spain, and Britain, sensible CHAP.

* M. de Montesquieu (Considerations sur la Grandeur et la Decadence des Romains, c. 17.) supposes, on the authority of Orosius and Eusebius, that, on this occasion, the empire, for the first time, was really divided into two parts. It is difficult, however, to discover in what respect the plan of Galerius differed from that of Diocletian.

* Hic non modo amabilis, sed etiam venerabilis Gallis fuit; praecipue quðd Diocletiani suspectam prudentiam, et Maximiani sanguinariam violentiam imperio ejus evaserant. Eutrop. Breviar. x, i.

• Divitiis Provincialium (mel. provinciarum) ac privatorum studens, fisci commodanon admodum affectans; ducensque melius publicas opes a privatis haberi, quam intra umum claustrum reservari. Id. ibid. He carried this maxim so far, that whenever he gave an entertainment, he was obliged to borrow a service of plate.

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of his worth, and of their own happiness, reflected with anxiety on the declining health of the emperor Constantius, and the tender age of his numerous family, the issue of his second marriage with the daughter of Maximian.

The stern temper of Galerius was cast in a very Q. Gale

different mould ; and while he commanded the esteem
of his subjects, he seldom condescended to solicit their
affections. His fame in arms, and above all, the
success of the Persian war, had elated his haughty
mind, which was naturally impatient of a superior, or
even of an equal. If it were possible to rely on the
partial testimony of an injudicious writer, we might
ascribe the abdication of Diocletian to the menaces
of Galerius, and relate the particulars of a private
conversation between the two princes, in which the
former discovered as much pusillanimity as the latter
displayed ingratitude and arrogance." But these
obscure anecdotes are sufficiently refuted by an im-
partial view of the character and conduct of Dio-
cletian. Whatever might otherwise have been his
intentions, if he had apprehended any danger from
the violence of Galerius, his good sense would have
instructed him to prevent the ignominious contest;
and as he had held the sceptre with glory, he would
have resigned it without disgrace.
After the elevation of Constantius and Galerius to
the rank of Augusti, two new Caesars were required

XIV.

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to supply their place, and to complete the system of *

the imperial government. Diocletian was sincerely desirous of withdrawing himself from the world; he

d Lactantius de Mort. Persecutor. c. 18. Were the particulars of this conference more consistent with truth and decency, we might still ask, how they came to the knowledge of an obscure rhetorician P But there are many historians who put us in mind of the admirable saying of the great Condé to Cardinal de Retz; “Ces coquins nous font parler et agir, commeils auroient fait eux-memes à notre place.”

XIV.

CHAP. considered Galerius, who had married his daughter,

as the firmest support of his family and of the empire; and he consented, without reluctance, that his successor should assume the merit as well as the envy of the important nomination. It was fixed without consulting the interest or o of the princes of the West. Each of them had a son who was arrived at the age of manhood, and who might have been deemed the most natural candidates for the vacant honour. But the impotent resentment of Maximian was no longer to be dreaded; and the moderate Constantius, though he might despise the dangers, was humanely apprehensive of the calamities of civil war. The two persons whom Galerius promoted to the rank of Caesar were much better suited to serve the views of his ambition; and their principal recommendation seems to have consisted in the want of merit or personal consequence. The first of these was Daza, or, as he was afterwards called, Maximin, whose mother was the sister of Galerius. The unexperienced youth still betrayed by his manners and language his rustic education, when, to his own astonishment, as well as that of the world, he was invested by Diocletian with the purple, exalted to the dignity of Caesar, and intrusted with the sovereign command of Egypt and Syria." At the same time, Severus, a faithful servant, addicted to pleasure, but not incapable of business, was sent to Milan, to receive, from the reluctant hands of Maximian, the Caesarian ornaments, and the possession of Italy and Africa." According to the forms of the constitution, Severus acknowledged the supremacy of the western emperor; but he was absolutely devoted to the com

* Sublatus nuper a pecoribus et silvis (says Lactantius de M. P. c. 19.) statim Scutarius, continuo Protector, mox Tribunus, postridie Caesar, accepit Orientem. Aurelius Victor is too liberal in giving him the whole portion of Diocletian.

* His diligence and fidelity are acknowledged even by Lactantius, de M. P. c. 18.

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