Ædesius, formerly keeper of the records, whom this prefect had contrived to have elected consul, as being liis dearest friend. He then with a sponge effaced the contents of the letters, leaving nothing but the address, and inserted a text materially differing from the original writing, as if Silvanus had asked, by indirect hints, and entreated his friends who were within the palace and those who had no office (among whom was Albinus of Etruria, and many others), to aid him in projects of loftier anibition, as one who would soon attain the imperial throne. This bundle of letters he thus made up, inventing at his leisure, in order with them to endanger the life of this innocent man.

5. Dynamius was appointed to investigate these charges on behalf of the emperor; and while he was artfully weaving these and similar plans, he contrived to enter alone into the imperial chamber, choosing his opportunity, and hoping to entangle firmly in his meshes the most vigilant guardian of the emperor's safety. And being full of wicked cunning, after he had read the forged packet of letters in the council chamber, the tribunes were ordered to be committed to custody, and also several private individuals were commanded to be arrested and brought up from the provinces, whose names were mentioned in those letters.

6. But presently Malarichus, the commander of the Gentiles, being struck with the iniquity of the business, and taking his colleagues to his counsel, spoke out loudly that men devoted to the preservation of the emperor ought not to be circumvented by factions and treachery. He accordingly demanded that he himself, his nearest relations being left as hostages, and Mallobaudes, the tribune of the beavy-armed soldiers, giving bail that he would return, might be commissioned to go with speed to bring back Silvanus, who he was certain had never entertained the idea of any such attempt as these bitter plotters had imputed to him. Or, as an alternative, he entreated that he might become security for Mallobaudes, and that their officers might be permitted to go and do what he had proposed to take upon himself.

7. For he affirmed that he knew beyond all question that, if any stranger were sent, Silvanus, who was inclined tu be somewhat apprehensive of danger, even when no

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]


circumstances were really calculated to alarm him, would very likely throw matters into confusion.

8. But, although the advice which he gave was useful and necessary, he spoke as to the winds, to no purpose. For by the counsels of Arbetio, Apodemius, who was a persevering and bitter enemy to all good men, was sent with letters to summon Silvanus to the presence. When he had arrived in Gaul, taking no heed of the commission with which he was charged, and caring but little for anything that might happen, he remained inactive, without either seeing Silvanus, or delivering the letters which commanded him to appear at court. And having taken the receiver of the province into his counsels, he began with arrogance and malevolence to harass the clients and servants of the master of the horse, as if that officer had been already condemned and was on the point of being executed.

9. In the mean time, while the arrival of Silvanus was looked for, and while Apodemius was throwing everything, though quiet before, into commotion, Dynamius, that he might by still more convincing proofs establish belief in his wicked plots, had sent other forged letters (agreeing with the previous ones which he had brought under the emperor's notice by the agency of the prefect) to the tribune of the factory at Cremona : these were written in the names of Silvanus and Malarichus, in which the tribune, as one privy to their secrets, was warned to lose no time in having everything in readiness.

10. But when this tribune had read the whole of the letters, he was for some time in doubt and perplexity as to what they could mean (for he did not recollect that those persons whose letters he had thus received had ever spoken with him upon private transactions of any kind); and accordingly he sent the letters themselves, by the courier who had brought them, to Malarichus, sending a soldier also with him; and entreated Malarichus to explain in intelligible language what he wanted, and not to use such obscure terms. For he declared that he, being but a plain and somewhat rude man, had not in the least understood what was intimated so obscurely.

11. Malarichus the moment he received the letters, being already in sorrow and anxiety, and alarmed for his own

fate and that of his countryman Silvanus, called around hin the Franks, of whom at that time there was a great multitude in the palace, and in resolute language laid open and proved the falsehood of the machinations by which their lives were threatened, and was loud in his complaints.

12. When these things became known to the emperor, he appointed the members of his secret conncil and the chief officers of his army to make further investigation of the matter. And when the judges appeared to make light of it, Florentius the son of Nigridianus, who at that time filled the post of master of the offices,' having examined the writings carefully, and detecting beneath them some vestiges of the tops of the former words which had been effaced, perceived, as was indeed the case, that by interpolations of the original letter, matters very different from any of which Silvanus was author had been written over them, according to the fancy of the contriver of this forgery.

13. On this the cloud of treachery was dispersed, and the emperor, inforıned of the truth by a faithful report, recalled the powers granted to the prefect, and ordered him to be submitted to an examination. Nevertheless he was acquitted through the active combination of many of his friends; while Eusebius, the former treasurer of the emperor's secret purse, being put to the torture, confessed that these things had been done with his privity.

14. Ædesius, affirming with obstinate denial that he had never known anything which had been done in the matter, escaped, being adjudged innocent. And thus the transaction was brought to an end, and all those who had been accused in the original information were acquitted; and Dynamius, as a man of exceeding accomplishments and prudence, was appointed to govern Etruria with the rank of corrector.

15. While these affairs were proceeding, Silvanus was living at Agrippina,' and having learnt by continual 1 This was

very important post; it seems to have united the func. tions of a modern chamberlain, chancellor, and secretary of state. The master presented citizens to the emperor, received foreign ambassadors, recommended men for civil employments, decided civil actions of several kinds, and superintended many of the affairs of the post. 3 Cologne.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

information sent to him by his friends what Apodemius was doing with the hope of effecting his ruin; and knowing also how impressible the mind of the feeblo emperor was: began to fear lest in his absence, and without being convicted of any crime, he might still be treated as a criminal. And so, being placed in a situation of the greatest difficulty, he began to think of trusting himself to the good faith of the barbarians.

16. But being dissuaded from this by Laniogaisus, at that time a tribune, whom we have already spoken of as the only person who was present with Constans when he was dying, himself serving at that time as a volunteer ; and being assured by Laniogaisus that the Franks, of whom he

himself was a countryman, would put him to death, or else betray him for a bribe, he saw no safety anywhere in the present emergency, and so was driven to extreme counsels. And by degrees, having secretly conferred with the chiefs of the principal legions, and having excited them by the magnitude of promised rewards, he tore for use on this occasion the purple silk from the insignia of the dragons' and standards, and so assumed the title of emperor.

17. And while these events are passing in Gaul, one day, a little before sunset, an unexpected messenger arrived at Milan, relating fully that Silvanus, being ambitious to rise above his place as commander of the infantry, had tampered with the army, and assumed the imperial dignity.

18. Constantius, at this amazing and unexpected event, seemed as if struck by a thunderbolt of fate, and having at once summoned a council to meet at the second watch, all the nobles hastened to the palace. No one bad either mind to conceive or tongue to recommend what was best to be done; but in suppressed tones they mentioned the name of Ursicinus as a man eminent for skill in affairs of war, and one who had been undeservedly exposed to most injurious treatment. He was immediately sent for by the principal chamberlain, which is the most honourable kind of summons, and as soon as he entered the council-chamber he was offered the prerplo to salute much more graciously than at any former time. Diocletian was the first who introduced the custom of offering reverence to the emperor

· The dragons were the effigies on some of the standarda.

after this foreign manner and royal pretension ; whereas all former princes, as we read, had been saluted like judges.

19. And so the man who a little while before, through the malevolent persecution of certain of the courtiers, had been termed the whirlpool of the East, and who had been accused of a design to aim at the supreme power for his sons, was now recommended as one who was a most skilful general, who had been the comrade of the great Constan. tine, and as the only man capable of extinguishing the threatened conflagration. And though the reasons for which he was sent for were honest, they were not wholly free from underhand motives. For while great anxiety was felt that Silvanus should be destroyed as a most formidable rebel, yet, if that object miscarried, it was thought that Ursicinus, being damaged by the failure, would himself easily be ruined ; so that no scruple, which else was to be feared, would interpose to save him from destruction.

20. While arrangements were being made for acclerating his journey, the general was preparing to repel the charges which had been brought against him; but the emperor prevented him, forbidding him in conciliatory language, saying that this was not an opportunity suitable for undertaking any controversy in defence of his cause, when the imminent necessity of affairs rather prompted that no delay should be interposed to the restoration of parties to their pristine concord before the disunion got worse.

21. Therefore, after a long deliberation about many things, the first and most important matter in which consultation was held, was by what means Silvanus could be led to think the emperor still ignorant of his conduct. And the most likely manner to confirm him in his confidence appeared to be that he should be informed, in a complimentary despatch, that Ursicinus was appointed his successor, and that he was invited to return to court with undiminished power.

22. After this affair was arranged, the officer who had brought the news to Milan was ordered to depart with some tribunes and ten of the Protectores and domestic guard as an escort, given to him at his own request, to aid him in the discharge of his public duty. And of these I myself was one, with my colleague Verrinianus ; and all the rest were either friends or relations of mine.

« ForrigeFortsett »