« ForrigeFortsett »
The feeble elegance of Italy and the internal provinces could no longer port the weight of arms. The hardy frontier of the Rhine and Danube still produced minds and bodies equal to #. labours of the camp; but a perpetual series of wars had gradually diminished their numbers. The infrequency of marriage, and the ruin of agriculture, affected the principles of population, and not only destroyed the strength of the present, but intercepted the hope of future generations. The wisdom of Probus embraced a great and beneficial
lan of replenishing the exhausted frontiers, by new colonies of captive or ugitive barbarians, on whom he bestowed lands, cattle, instruments of husbandry, and every encouragement that might engage them to educate a race of soldiers for the service of the republic. .#. and most probably into Cambridgeshire,(46) he transported a considerable body of Vandals. The . of an escape reconciled them to their situation, and in the subsequent troubles of that island, they approved themselves the most faithful ser. wants of the state.(47) Great numbers of Franks and Gepidae were settled on the banks of the Danube and the Rhine. A hundred thousand Bastarnae, #. from their own country, cheerfully accepted an establishment in Thrace, and soon imbibed the manners and sentiments of Roman *ś But the expectations of Probus were too often disappointed. The impatiénce and idleness of the barbarians could ill brook the slow labours of agriculture. Their unconquerable love of freedom, rising against ol. provoked them into hasty rebellions, alike fatal to themselves and to the provinces;(49) nor could these artificial supplies, however repeated by succeeding emperors, restore the important limit of Gaul and Illyricum to its ancient and native vigour.
Of all the barbarians who abandoned their new settlements, and disturbed the public tranquillity, a very small number returned to their own country. For a short season, they might wander in arms through the empire; but in the end they were surely destroyed by the power of a warlike emperor. The successful rashness of a party of Franks was attended, however, with such memorable consequences, that it ought not to be passed unnoticed. They had been established by Probus, on the sea-coast of Pontus, with a view of strengthening the frontier against the inroads of the Alani. A fleet stationed in one of the harbours of the Euxine, fell into the hands of the Franks; and they resolved, through unknown seas, to explore their way from the mouth of the Phasis to that of the Rhine. They easily escaped through the Bosphorus and the Hellespont, and cruising 3. the Mediterranean, indulged their appetite for revenge and plunder, by frequent descents on the unsuspecting shores of Asia, Greece, and Africa. %. opulent city of Syracuse, in whose port the navies of Athens and Carthage had formerly been sunk, was sacked by a handful of barbarians, who massacred the greatest part of the trembling inhabitants. From the island of Sicily, the Franks proceeded to the columns of Hercules, trusted themselves to the ocean, coasted round Spain and Gaul, and steering their triumphant course through the British channel, at length finished their surprising voyage, by landing in safety on the Batavian or Frisian shores.(50). The example of their success, instructing their countrymen to conceive the advantages, and to despise the dangers of the sea, pointed out to their enterprising spirit, a new road to wealth and glory.
Notwithstanding the vigilance . activity of Probus, it was almost impos: sible that he could at once contain in obedience every part of his wide-extended dominions. The barbarians, who broke their chains, had seized the favourable §. of a domestic war. . When the emperor marched to the relief of Gaul, he devolved the command of the East on Saturninus. That general, a man of merit and experience, was driven into rebellion by the absence of his
(46) Camden's Britannia, Introduction, p. 136; but he speaks from a very doubtful conjecture.
(50; Panegyr. Wet. v. 18. Zosimus, l. i. p. 66.
sovereign, the levity of the Alexandrian people, the pressing instances of his friends, and his own fears; but from the moment of his elevation, he never entertained a hope of empire, or even of life. “Alas!" he said, “the republic has lost a useful servant, and the rashness of an hour has destroyed the services of many years. , You know not,” continued he, “the misery of sovereign power; a sword is perpetually suspended over our head. We dread our very #. we distrust our companions. The choice of action or of repose is no onger in our disposition, nor is there * o or character, or conduct, that can F. us from the censure of envy. In thus exalting me to the throne, you ave doomed me to a life of cares, and to an untimely fate. The only consolation which remains is, the assurance that I shall not fall alone.”(51). But as the former part of his prediction was verified by the victory, so the latter was jo by the clemency of Probus. That amiable prince attempted even to save the unhappy Saturninus from the fury of the soldiers. [A. D. #79.] He had more than once solicited the usurper himself, to place some confidence in the mercy of a sovereign who so highly esteemed his character, that he had punished, as a malicious informer, the first who related the improbable news of his o Saturninus might, perhaps, have embra the generous offer, had he not been restrained by the obstinate distrust of his adherents. Their guilt was deeper, and their hopes more sanguine, than those of their experienced leader. A. D. 280.] The revolt of Saturninus was scarcely extinguished in the East, before new troubles were excited in the West, by the rebellion of Bonosus and Proculus in Gaul. The most distinguished merit of those two officers was their respective prowess, of the one in the combats of Bacchus, of the other in those cf Venus,(53) yet neither of them were destitute of cou and capacity, and both sustained, with honour, the august character which fear of punishment had engaged them to assume, till they sunk at length beneath the superior genius of Probus. He used the victory with his accustomed moderation, and spared the fortunes as well as the lives of their innocent families.(54) [A. D. 28í.]. The arms of Probus had now suppressed all the foreign and domestic enemies of the state. His mild but steady administration confirmed the re-establishment of the public tranquillity; nor was there left in the provinces a hostile barbarian, a tyrant, or even a robber, to revive the memory of E. disorders. . It was time inat the emperor should revisit Rome, and celerate his own glory and the general happiness. The triumph due to the valour of Probus was conducted with a magnificence suitable to his fortune, and the people who had so lately admired the trophies of Aurelian, gazed with equal leasure on those of his heroic successor.(55). We cannot, on this occasion, orget the desperate courage of about fourscore gladiators, reserved with near six hundred others, for the inhuman sports of the amphitheatre. , Disdaining to shed their blood for the amusement of the populace, they killed their keepers, broke from the place of their confinement, and filled the streets of Rome with blood and confusion. After an obstinate resistance, they were overpowered and cut in pieces by the regular forces; but they obtained at least an ble death, and the satisfaction of a just revenge.(56) The military discipline which reigned in the camps of Probus, was less cruel than that of Aurelian, but it was equally rigid and exact. The latter had punished the irregularities of the oil. with unrelenting severity, the former
(51) Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 245,246. The unfortunate orator had studied rhetoric at Carthage, and was, therefore, more probably a Moor (Zosimus, l. i. p. 60) than a Gaul, as Vopiscus calls him.
(53) Zonaras, l. xii. p. 638.
(53) A very surprising instance is recorded of the prowess of Proculus. He had taken one hundred Sarmatian virgins. The rest of the story he must relate in his own language; Ex his una nocte decem inivi : omnestamen, quod in me eral, mulieres intra dies quindecim reddidi. Vopiscus in Hist. August
246. *: Proculus, who was a native of Albengue on the Genoese coast, armed two thousand of his own slaves. His riches were great, but they were acquired by robbery. It was afterward a saying of his family, Nec latrones esse, nec principes sibi placere. Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 247. (55) Rist. August. p. 240. (56) Zosim. l. i. p. 66.
cation; though a senator, he was invested with the first dignity of the army; and in an age, when the civil and military professions began to be irrecoverably separated from each other, they were united in the person of Carus. Notwithstanding the severe justice which he exercised against the assassins of Probus, to whose favour and esteem he was highly indebted, he could not escape the suspicion of being accessary to a deed from whence he derived the principal advantage. He enjoyed, at least before his elevation, an acknowledged character of virtue and abilities;(65) but his austere temper insensibly degenerated into moroseness and cruelty; and the imperfect writers of his life almost hesitate whether they shall not rank him in the number of Roman tyrants.(66) When Carus assumed the purple, he was about sixty years of age, and his i. o Carinus and Numerian had already to the season of man..(67 The authority of the senate expired with Probus; nor was the repentance of the soldiers displayed by the same dutiful regard for the civil power, which they had testified after the unfortunate death of Aurelian. The election of Carus was decided without o the approbation of the senate, and the new emperor contented himself with announcing, in a cold and stately epistle, that he had ascended the vacant throne.(68) A behaviour so very opposite to that of his amiable predecessor, afforded no favourable presage of the new reign; and the Romans, deprived of power and freedom, asserted their privilege of licentious o The voice of congratulation and flattery was not however silent; and we may still peruse with pleasure and contempt, an eclogue, which was composed on the accession of the emperor Carus. Two shepherds, avoiding the noon-tide heat, retire into the cave of Faunus. On a spreading beach they discover some recent characters. The rural deity had escribed in prophetic verses, the felicity promised to the empire, under the reign of so great a prince. Faunus hails the approach of that hero, who, receiving on his shoulders the sinking weight of the Roman world,shall extinguish war § faction, and once again restore the innocence and security of the golden e.(70 *i; is more than probable, that these elegant trifles never reached the ears of a veteran general, who, with the consent of the legions, was preparing to execute the long suspended design of the Persian war. Before his departure for this distant expedition, Carus conferred on his two sons, Carinus and Numerian, the title of Cesar, and investing the former with almost an equal share of the imperial power, directed the young prince, first to suppress some troubles which had arisen in Gaul, and afterward to fix the seat of his residence at Rome, and to assume the government of the Western provinces.(71) The safety of lllyricum was confirmed by a memorable defeat of the Sarmatians; sixteen thousand of those barbarians remained on the field of battle, and the number of captives amounted to twenty thousand. The old emperor, animated with the same and prospect of victory, pursued his march in the midst of winter through the countries of Thrace and Asia Minor, and at length, with his ounger son Numerian, arrived on the confines of the Persian monarchy here encamping on the summit of a lofty mountain, he pointed out to his . the opulence and luxury of the enemy whom they were about to In Wadle.
noble Roman. Carus himself was educated in the capital. See Scaliger, Animadversion, ad Euseb. Chron. p. 241.
(65) #. had requested of the senate an equestrian statue and a marble palace, at the public expense, as a just recompense of the singular merit of Carus. , Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 249.
(66). Vopiscusin Hist. August. p. 243—249. Julian excludes the emperor Carus and both his sons from the banquet of the Cesars.
(67) John Malela, tom. i. p. 401. But the authority of that ignorant Greek is very slight...He ridiculously derives from Carus, the city of Carrhae, and the province of Caria, the latter of which is mentioned by Homer.
(68) Hist. August. p. 249. Carus congratulated the senate, that one of their own order was made enteror. (69) Hist. August. p.242.
§ See the first eclogue of Calphurnius. The design of it is preferred by Fontenelle, to that of
I's Pollio. See tom. iii. p. 148. (71) Hist. August. p. 353. Eutropius, ix. 18. Pagi Annal
[A. D. 283.] The successor of Artaxerxes, Varanes, or Bahram, though he had subdued the Segestans, one of the most warlike nations of Upper Asia,(72) was alarmed at the approach of the Romans, and endeavoured to retard their progress by a negotiation of peace. His ambassadors entered the camp a sunset, at the time when the troops were satisfying their hunger with a frugal repast. . The Persians of their desire oi. introduced to the presence of the Roman emperor. They were at length conducted to a soldier, who was seated on the grass. A piece of stale bacon and a few hard pease composed his supper. A coarse woollen garment of purple was the only circumstance that announced his dignity. The conference was condueted with the same disregard of courtly elegance. Carus, taking off a cap, which he wore to conceal his baldness, assured the ambassadors, #. unless their master acknowledged the superiority of Rome, he would speedily render Persia as naked of trees, as his own head was destitute of hair.(73) Notwithstanding some traces of art and preparation, we may discover in this scene the manners of Carus, and the severe simplicity which the martial princes, who succeeded Gallienus, had already restored in the Roman camps. The ministers of the Great King trembled and retired.
The threats of Carus were not without effect. He ravaged Mesopotamia, cut in pieces whatever opposed his passage, made himself master of the great cities of Seleucia and Ctesiphon, (which seemed to have surrendered without resistance,) and carried his victorious arms beyond the Tigris.(74) He had seized the favourable moment for an invasion. The Persian councils were distracted by domestic factions, and the greater part of their forces were detained on the frontiers of India. Rome and the East received with transport the news of such important advantages. Flattery and hope painted, in the most lively colours, the fall of Persia, the conquest of Arabia, the submission of , and a lasting deliverance from the inroads of the Scythian i.”) ut the reign of Carus was destined to expose the vanity of predictions. They were scarcely uttered before they were contradicted by his death; an event attended with such ambiguous circumstances, that it may be related in a letter from his own secretary to the praefect of the city. ... “Carus,” says he, “our dearest emperor, was confined by sickness to his bed, when a furious tempest arose in the camp. The darkness which overspread the sky was so thick, that we could no longer distinguish each other; and the incessant flashes of lightning took from us the knowledge of all that passed in the general confusion. Immediately after the most violent clap of thunder, we heard a sudden cry, that the emperor was dead! and it soon o, that his chamberlans, in a rage of grief, had set fire to the royal pavilion, a circumstance which gave rise to the report that Carus was killed by lightning. But, as far as we have been able to investigate the truth, his death was the natural effect of his .."o
The vacancy of the throne was not productive of any disturbance. The ambition of the aspiring generals was checked by their mutual fears, and young, Numerian, with his absent brother Carinus, were unanimously acknowledged as Roman emperors. The public expected that the successor of Carus would pursue his father's footsteps, and without allowing the Persians to recover from their consternation, would advance, sword in hand, to the palaces of Susa and Ecbatana.(77). But the legions, however strong in numbers and discipline, were dismayed by the most abject superstition. Notwithstanding all the arts that were practised to disguise the manner of the late emperor's death, it was
so thias, l. iv. p. 135. We find one of his sayings in the Bibliothèque Orientale of M. d'Herbelot. “The definition of humanity includes all other virtues.”t (73) Synesius tells this story of Carinus; and it is much more natural to understand it of Carus, than (as Petavius and Tillemont choose to do) of Probus. (74) Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 250. Eutropius, ix.18. The two Victors. (75) To the Persian Victory of Carus, Irefer the dialogue of the Philopatris, which has so long been an o dispute among the learned. But to explain and justify my opinion would require a dissertation. (78) Hist. August. p. 250. Yet Eutropius, Festus, Rufus, the two Vic Jerome, Sidonius A ris, Syncellus, and Zonaras, all ascribe the death ob. to lightning. tors, r pollina. See Nemesian, Cynegeticon, v.71, &c.