Sidebilder
PDF

Ln. 306.] mocorms SALUTE!) EMPEROR. 421

trembling so as to be unable to speak, he stood for some time in silence. Presently when he began, with a broken and languid voice, to say a few words, in which he spoke of his relationship to the imperial family, he was met at first with but a faint murmur of applause from those whom he had bribed ; but presently he was hailed by the tumultuous clamours of the populace -in general as emperor, and hurried ofl" to the senate-house, where he found none of the nobles, but only a small number of the rabble of the city ; and so he went on with speed, but in an ignoble style, to the palace.

19. One might marvel that this ridiculous beginning, so improvidently and rashly engaged in, should have led to melancholy disasters for the republic, if one were ignorant of previous history, and imagined that this was the first time any such thing had happened. But, in truth, it was in a similar manner that Andriscus of Adramyttium, a man of the very lowest class, assuming the name of Philip, added a. third calamitous war to the previous Macedonian wars. Again, while the emperor Macrinus was at Antioch, it was then that Antoninus Heliogabalns issued forth from Emessa. Thus also Alexander, and his mother Mamsea, were put to death by the unexpected enterprise of Maximinus. And in Africa the elder Gordian was raised to the imperial authority, till, being overwhelmed with agony at the dangers which threatened him, he put an end to his life by hanging himself.

VIL

§ 1. So the dealers in cheap luxuries, and those who were about the palace, or who had ceased to serve, and all who, having been in the ranks of the army, had retired to a. more tranquil life, now embarked in this unusual and doubtful enterprise, some against their will, and others willingly. Some, however, thinking anything better than the present state of affairs, escaped secretly from the city, and hastened with all speed to the emperor’s camp.

2. They were all outstripped by the amazing celerity of Sophronius, at that time a secretary, afterwards prefect of Constantinople, who reached Valens as he was just about to set out from Cassarea in Cappadocia, in order, now that the hot weather of Gilicia was over. $0110 Antioch; and having related to him all that had taken place, brought him, though wholly amazed and bewildered at so doubtful and perplexing a crisis, back into Galatia to encounter the danger before it had risen to a head.

3. While Valens was pushing forward with all speed, Procopius was using all his energy day and night, producing different persons who with cunning boldness pretended that they had arrived, some from the east, some from Gaul, and who reported that Valentinian was dead, and that everything was easy for the new and favoured emperor.

4. And because enterprises suddenly and wantonly attempted are often strengthened by promptness of action, and in order to neglect nothing, Nebridius, who had been recently promoted through the influence of Petronius to be prefect of the preetorinm in the place of Sallust, and Caesarius, the prefect of Constantinople, were at once thrown into prison; and Phronemius was intrusted with the government of the city, with the customary powers; and Euphrasius was made master of the oflices, both being Gauls, and men of known accomplishments and good character. The government of the camp was in~ trusted to Gomoarius and Agile, who were recalled to military service with that object—a very ill-judged appointment, as was seen by the result.

5. Now because Count Julius, who was commanding the forces in Thrace, was feared as likely to employ the troops at the nearest stations to crush the rebels if he received information of what was being done, a vigorous measure was adopted ; and he was summoned to Constantinople by letter, which Nebridins, while still in prison, was compelled to write, as if he had been appointed by Valens to conduct some serious measures in connection with the movements of the barbarians; and as soon as he arrived he was seized and kept in close custody. By this cunning artifice the warlike tribes of Thrace were brought over without bloodshed, and proved a great assistance to this disorderly enterprise.

6. After this success, Araxins, by a court intrigue, was made prefect of the pratorium, as if at the recommendation of Agilo, his son-in-law. Many others were admitted

. with solemn oaths fidelity

[ocr errors]

to various posts in the palace, and to the government of provinces; some against their will, others voluntarily, and even giving bribes for their promotion.

7. And, as often happens in times of intestine commotion, some men, from the very dregs of the populace, rose to a high position, led by desperate boldness and insane expectations; while, on the contrary, others of noble birth fell from the highest elevation down to exile and death.

8. When by these and similar acts the party of Procopius seemed firmly established, the next thing was to assemble a. suflicient military force; and that was easily managed, though sometimes, in times of public disorder, a failure here has hindered great enterprises, and even some which had a lawful origin.

9. The divisions of cavalry and infantry which were passing through Thrace were easily gained over, and being kindly and liberally treated, were collected into one body, and at once presented the appearance of an army; and being excited by magnificent promises, they swore to Procopius, promising to defend him with unswerving loyalty.

10. For a mostseasonable opportunity of gaining them over was found; because he carried in his arms the little daughter of Oonstantius, whose memory was still held in

reverence,'himself also claiming relationship with Julian. _

He also availed himself of another seasonable incident, namely, that it was while Faustina, the mother of the child, was present that he had received the insignia of the imperial rites.

11. He employed also another expedient (though it required great promptitude) ; he chose some persons, as stupid as they were rash, whom he sent to lllyricum, relying on no support except their own impudence; but also well furnished with pieces of gold stamped with -the head of the new emperor, and with other means suited to win over the multitude. But these men were arrested by Equitius, who was the commander of the forces in that country, and were put to death by various methods.

12. And then, fearing similar attempts by Procopius, he blocked up the three narrowest entrances into the northern province ; one through Dacia, along the course of the dif

ferent rivers; another, and that the most frequented, through the Succi; and the third through Macedonia, which is known as the Acontisma. And in consequence of these precautions the usurper was deprived of all hope of becoming master of Illyricum, and lost one great re

source for carrying on the war. 13. In the mean time Valens, overwhelmed with the

strange nature of this intelligence, and being already on his return through Gallo-Graacia, after he had heard what had happened at Constantinople, advanced with great diflidence and alarm; and as his sudden fears deprived him of his usual prudence, he fell into such despondency that he thought of laying aside his imperial robes as too heavy a burden; and in truth he would have done so if those about him had not hindered him from adopting so dishonourable a resolution. So, being encouraged by the opinions of braver men, he ordered two legions, known as the Jovian and the Victorian, to advance in front to storm the rebel camp.

14. And when they approached, Procopius, who had returned from Nicsea, to which city he had lately gone with the legion of Divitenses and a promiscuous body of deserters, which he had collected in a few days, hastened to Mygdus on the Sangarius.

15. And when the legions, being now prepared for battle, assembled there, and while both sides were exchanging missiles as if wishing to provoke an attack, Procopius advanced by himself into the middle, and under the guidance of favourable fortune, he remarked in the opposite ranks a man named Vitalianus (it is uncertain whether he had known him before), and having given him his hand and embraced him, he said, while both armies were equally astonished.

16. °‘ And is this the end of the ancient fidelity of the Roman armies, and of the oaths taken under the strictest obligations of religion l Have you decided, O gallant men, to use your swords in defence of strangers, and that a degenerate Pannonian should undermine and upset everything, and so enjoy a sovereign power which he never even ventured to picture to himself in his prayers, while we lament over your ill-fortune and our own. Follow rather the race of your own noble princes which is now

SIEGE OF CHALCEDON AND NICAEA RAISED. 425

in arms, not with the view of seizing what does not belong to it, but with the hope of recovering its ancestral possessions and hereditary dignities.”

17. All were propitiated by this conciliatory speech, and those who had come with the intention of fighting now readily lowered their standards and eagles, and of their own accord came over to him; instead of uttering their fearful yells, they unanimously saluted Procopius emperor, and escorted him to his camp, calling Jupiter to witness, after their military fashion, that Procopius should prove invincible.

VIII.

§ 1. ANOTHER fortunate circumstance occurred to swell the prosperity of the rebels. A tribune named Rumitalca, who had joined the partisans of Procopius, having been intrusted with the guard of the palace, digested a plan, and after mingling with the soldiers, passed over by sea to the town formerly known as Drepanum, but now as Helenopolis, and thence marched upon Nicaea, and made himself master of it before any one dreamt of such a step. 2. Valens sent Wadomarius, who had formerly been duke and king of the Allemanni, with a body of troops experienced in that kind of work, to besiege Nicaea, and proceeded himself to Nicomedia; and passing on from that city, he pressed the siege of Chalcedon with all his might; but the citizens poured reproaches on him from the walls, calling him Sabaiarius, or beer-drinker. Now Sabai is a drink made of barley or other grain, and is used only by poor people in Illyricum. 3. At last, being worn out by the scarcity of supplies and the exceeding obstinacy of the garrison, he was preparing to raise the siege, when the garrison who were shut up in Nicaea suddenly opened the gates and issued forth, destroying a great portion of the works of the besiegers, and under the command of the faithful Rumitalca hastened on eagerly in the hope of cutting off Valens, who had not yet quitted the suburb of Chalcedon. And they would have succeeded in their attempt if he had not learnt the imminence of his danger from some rumour, and eluded the enemy who were pressing on his track,

« ForrigeFortsett »