Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

provinces of Asia with corn and manufactures, which CHAP. .

they purchased with their only productions, salt, wax,

and hides. Obedient to the requisition of Constantine, they prepared, under the conduct of their magistrate Diogenes, a considerable army, of which the principal strength consisted in cross-bows and military chariots. The speedy march and intrepid attack of the Chersonites, by diverting the attention of the Goths, assisted the operations of the imperial generals. The Goths, vanquished on every side, were driven into the mountains, where, in the course of a severe campaign, above a hundred thousand were computed to have perished by cold and hunger. Peace was at length granted to their humble supplications; the eldest son of Araric was accepted as the most valuable hostage; and Constantine endeavoured to convince their chiefs, by a liberal distribution of honours and rewards, how far the friendship of the Romans was preferable to their enmity. In the expressions of his gratitude towards the faithful Chersonites, the emperor was still more magnificent. The pride of the nation was gratified by the splendid and almost royal decorations bestowed on their magistrate and his successors. A perpetual exemption from all duties was stipulated for their vessels which traded to the ports of the Black Sea. A regular subsidy was promised, of iron, corn, oil, and of every supply which could be useful either in peace or war. But it was thought that the Sarmatians were sufficiently rewarded by their deliverance from impending ruin; and the emperor, perhaps with too strict an economy, deducted some part of the expenses of the war from the customary gratifications which were allowed to that turbulent nation.

XVIII.

Exasperated by this apparent neglect, the Sarma- Expulsion

tians soon forgot, with the levity of barbarians, the

of

e Sar

matians, services which they had so lately received, and the ***

CHAP.

XVIII.

dangers which still threatened their safety. Their _ inroads on the territory of the empire provoked the

indignation of Constantine to leave them to their fate; and he no longer opposed the ambition of Geberic, a renowned warrior, who had recently ascended the Gothic throne. Wisumar, the Vandal king, whilst alone, and unassisted, he defended his dominions with undaunted courage, was vanquished and slain, in a decisive battle, which swept away the flower of the Sarmatian youth. The remainder of the nation embraced the desperate expedient of arming their slaves, a hardy race of hunters and herdsmen, by whose tumultuary aid they revenged their defeat, and expelled the invader from their confines. But they soon discovered that they had exchanged a foreign for a domestic enemy, more dangerous and more implacable. Enraged by their former servitude, elated by their present glory, the slaves, under the name of Limigantes, claimed and usurped the possession of the country which they had saved. Their masters, unable to withstand the ungoverned fury of the populace, preferred the hardships of exile to the tyranny of their servants. Some of the fugitive Sarmatians solicited a less ignominious dependence, under the hostile standard of the Goths. A more numerous band retired beyond the Carpathian mountains, among the Quadi, their German allies, and were easily admitted to share a superfluous waste of uncultivated land. But the far greater part of the distressed nation turned their eyes towards the fruitful provinces of Rome. Imploring the protection and forgiveness of the emperor, they solemnly promised, as subjects

in peace, and as soldiers in war, the most inviolable

fidelity to the empire which should graciously receive them into its bosom. According to the maxims adopted by Probus and his successors, the offers of this barbarian colony were eagerly accepted; and a competent portion of lands in the provinces of Pan- CHAP. nonia, Thrace, Macedonia, and Italy, were imme- XVIII. diately assigned for the habitation and subsistence of three hundred thousand Sarmatians.” By chastising the pride of the Goths, and by ac-Death and cepting the homage of a suppliant nation, Constantine &:. asserted the majesty of the Roman empire; and the o, - - - - yzo. ambassadors of AEthiopia, Persia, and the most remote countries of India, congratulated the peace and prosperity of his government.' If he reckoned, among the favours of fortune, the death of his eldest son, of his nephew, and perhaps of his wife, he enjoyed an uninterrupted flow of private as well as public felicity, till the thirtieth year of his reign; a period which none of his predecessors, since Augustus, had been permitted to celebrate. Constantine survived that solemn festival about ten months; and, at the mature age of sixty-four, after a short illness, he ended his memorable life at the palace of Aquyrion, in the A.D.337, suburbs of Nicomedia, whither he had retired for the ** benefit of the air, and with the hope of recruiting his exhausted strength by the use of the warm baths. The excessive demonstrations of grief, or at least of mourning, surpassed whatever had been practised on any former occasion. Notwithstanding the claims of the senate and people of ancient Rome, the corpse of

* The Gothic and Sarmatian wars are related in so broken and imperfect a manner, that I have been obliged to compare the following writers, whomutually supply, correct, and illustrate each other. Those who will take the same trouble may acquire a right of criticising my narrative. Ammianus, l. xvii. c. 12. Anonym. Walesian. p. 715. Eutropius, x. 7. Sextus Rufus de Provinciis, c. 26. Julian. Orat. i. p. 9, and Spanheim Comment. p. 94. Hieronym. in Chron. Euseb. in Wit. Constantin. l. iv. c. 6. Socrates, l. i. c. 18. Sozomen, 1. i. c. 8. Zosimus, l. ii. p. 108. Jornandes de Reb. Geticis, c. 22. Isidorus in Chron. p. 709; in Hist. Gothorum Grotii. Constantin. Porphyrogenitus de Administrat. Imperii. c. 53. p. 208. edit. Meursii.

Eusebius (in Vit. Const. l. iv. c. 50) remarks three circumstances relative to these Indians. 1. They came from the shores of the eastern ocean; a description which might be applied to the coast of China or Coromandel. 2. They presented shining gems, and unknown animals. 3. They protested their kings had erected statues to represent the supreme majesty of Constantine.

the deceased emperor, according to his last request, was transported to the city, which was destined to preserve the name and memory of its founder. The body of Constantine, adorned with the vain symbols of greatness, the purple and diadem, was deposited on a golden bed in one of the apartments of the palace, which for that purpose had been splendidly furnished and illuminated. The forms of the court were strictly maintained. Every day, at the appointed hours, the principal officers of the state, the army, and the household, approaching the person of their sovereign with bended knees and a composed countenance, offered their respectful homage as seriously as if he had been still alive. From motives of policy, this theatrical representation was for some time continued; nor could flattery neglect the opportunity of remarking that Constantine alone, by the peculiar indulgence of Heaven, had reigned after his death." But this reign could subsist only in empty pageantry; and it was soon discovered that the will of the most absolute monarch is seldom obeyed, when his subjects have no longer any thing to hope from his favour, or to dread from his resentment. The same ministers and generals, who bowed with such reverential awe before the inanimate corpse of their deceased sovereign, were engaged in secret consultations to exclude his two nephews, Dalmatius and Hannibalianus, from the share which he had assigned them in the succession of the empire. We are too imperfectly acquainted with the court of Constantine to form any judgment of the real motives which influenced the leaders of the conspiracy; unless we should suppose that they were actuated by a spirit of "Funus relatum in urbem sui nominis, quod sane P.R. aegerrime tulit. Aurelius Victor. Constantine had prepared for himself a stately tomb in the church of the Holy Apostles. Euseb. l. iv. c. 60. The best, and indeed almost the only jealousy and revenge against the praefect Ablavius, a §

CHAP.

XVIII.

Factions of

the court.

account of the sickness, death, and funeral of Constantine, is contained in the fourth book of his Life, by Eusebius.

proud favourite, who had long directed the counsels
and abused the confidence of the late emperor. The
arguments, by which they solicited the concurrence
of the soldiers and people, are of a more obvious na-
ture: and they might with decency, as well as truth,
insist on the superior rank of the children of Con-
stantine, the danger of multiplying the number of
sovereigns, and the impending mischiefs which threat-
ened the republic, from the discord of so many rival
princes, who were not connected by the tender sym-
pathy of fraternal affection. The intrigue was con-
ducted with zeal and secrecy, till a loud and unani-
mous declaration was procured from the troops, that
they would suffer none except the sons of their la-
mented monarch to reign over the Roman empire."
The younger Dalmatius, who was united with his
collateral relations by the ties of friendship and in-
terest, is allowed to have inherited a considerable
share of the abilities of the great Constantine: but,
on this occasion, he does not appear to have concerted
any measures for supporting, by arms, the just claims
which himself and his royal brother derived from the
liberality of their uncle. Astonished and overwhelmed
by the tide of popular fury, they seem to have re-
mained, without the power of flight or of resistance,
in the hands of their implacable enemies. Their
fate was suspended till the arrival of Constantius, the
second," and perhaps the most favoured, of the sons
of Constantine.
"Eusebius (l. iv. c. 6) terminates his narrative by this loyal declaration of the
troops, and avoids all the invidious circumstances of the subsequent massacre.
"The character of Dalmatius is advantageously, though concisely, drawn by
Eutropius (x.9). Dalmatius Caesar prosperrimä indole, neque patruo absinnilis,
haud multo post, oppressus est factione militari. As both Jerom and the Alex-
andrian Chronicle mention the third year of the Caesar, which did not commence

till the 18th or 24th of September, A.D. 337, it is certain that these military factions continued above four months.

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »