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mency, temperance, and moderation, ... the amiable character of Constantius, and his fortunate subjects had o occasion to compare the virtues of their sovereign with the passions of Maximian, and even with the arts of Dioclesian.(2) 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.(3) The provincials of Gaul, Spain, and Britain, sensible 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 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 Dioclesian to the menaces | Galerius, and relate the particulars of a private conversation between the two princes, in which the former discovered as much F. as the latter displayed ingratitude and arro ...} But these obscure anecdotes are suf#. refuted by an ...i view of the character and conduct of Dioclesian. W. might otherwise have been his intentions, if he had apprehended any danger from the violence of Galerius, his good sense would have instructed ii. to prevent the ignominious contest; and as he had held the sceptre with glory, he would have resigned it without disgrace. fter the §. of Constantius and Galerius to the rank of A i, two new Cesars were required to supply their place, and to complete the system of the imperial government. Dioclesian was sincerely desirous of withdrawing himself from the world; he considered Galerius, who had married his daugh. ter, 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 inclination 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 Cesar, were much better suited to serve the views of his ambition; and their principal recommendation seems to have consisted in their want of merit or personal consequence. The first of these was Daza, or, as he was afterward called, Maximian, 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 Dioclesian with the purple, exalted to the dignity of Cesar, and intrusted with the sovereign command of Egypt and Syria.(5) 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 Cesarean ornaments and
the possession of Italy and Africa.(6) A. to the forms of the constitution, Severus acknowledged the supremacy of the western emperor; but he was absolutely devoted to the commands of his benefactor Galerius, who, reserving to himself the intermediate countries from the confines of Italy to those of Syria, firmly established his power over three-fourths of the monarchy. In the full confidence, that the approaching death of Constantius would leave him sole master of the Roman world, we are assured that he had arranged in his mind a long succession of future princes, and that, he meditated his own retreat from public life, after he should have accomplished a glorious reign of about twenty years.(7) But within less than eighteen months, two unexpected revolutions overturned the ambitious schemes of Galerius. The hopes of uniting the western provinces to his empire, were disappointed by the elevation of Constantine, while Italy and Africa were lost by the successful revolt of Maxentius. I. The fame of Constantine has rendered posterity attentive to the most minute circumstances of his life and actions. The place of his birth, as well as the condition of his mother Helena, have been the subject not only of literary, but of national disputes. . Notwithstanding the recent tradition, which assigns for her father, a British king, we are obliged to confess, that Helena was the daughter of an innkeeper;(8) but at the same time we may defend the legality of her marriage, #. those who have represented her as the concubine of Constantius. ; he great Constantine was most probably born at Naissus, in Dacia;(10) and it is not surprising, that in a family and province distinguished only by the profession of arms, the youth should discover very little inclination to improve his mind by the acquisition of ...}} e was about eighteen years of age when his father was promoted to the rank of Cesar; but that fortunate event was attended with his mother's divorce; and the splendour of an imperial alliance reduced the son of Helena to a state of disgrace and humiliation. Instead of following Constantius in the West, he remained in the service of Dioclesian, ol. his valour in the wars of Egypt and Persia, and gradually rose to the honourable station of a tribune of the first order. The figure of Constantine was tall and majestic; he was dexterous in all his exercises, intrepid in war, affable in peace; in his whole conduct, the active spirit of i. was tempered by habitual prudence; and while his mind was engrossed by ambition, he appeared cold and insensible to the allurements of pleasure. The favour of the people and soldiers, who had named him as a worthy candidate for the rank oCesar, served only to exasperate the jealousy of Galerius; and though prudence might restrain him from exercising any open violence, an absolute monarch is seldom at a loss how to execute a sure and
(6) His diligence and fidelity are acknowledged even by Lactantius, de M. P. c. 18.
(7) These schemes, however, rest only on the very doubtful authority of Lactantius, de M. P. c. 20.
(8) This tradition, unknown to the contemporaries of Constantine, was invented in the darkness of monasteries, was embellished by Jeffrey of Monmouth, and the writers of the twelfth century, has been defended by our antiquarians of the last age, and is seriously related in the ponderous history of England, compiled by Mr. Carte (vol. i. p. 147). He transports, however, the kingdom of Coil, the imaginary father of Helena, from Essex to the wall of Antoninus.
(9) Eutropius &. 2) expresses, in a few words, the real truth, and the occasion of the error, “ez obscuriori matrimonio ejus filius.” Zosimus (l. ii. p. 78,) eagerly seized the most unfavourable report, and is followed by Orosius (vii.25), whose authority is oddly enough overlooked by the indefatigable but partial Tillemont. By insisting on the divorce of Helena, Dioclesian acknowledged her marriage.
(10) There are three opinions with regard to the place of Constantine's birth. 1. Our English, antiquarians were used to dwell with rapture on the words of his panegyrist: “Britannias illic oriendo nobiles fecisti.” But this celebrated passage may be referred with as much propriety to the accession as to the nativity of Constantine. 2. Some of the modern Greeks have ascribed the honour of his birth to Drepanum, a town on the gulf of Nicomedia (Cellarius, tom. ii. p. 174), which Constantine dignified with the name of Helenopolis, and Justinian adorned with many splendid buildings (Procop. de AEdificiis, v.2). It is indeed probable enough, that Helena's father kept an inn at Drapanum; and that Constantius might lodge there when he returned from a Persian embassy in the reign of Aurelian. But in the wandering life of a soldier, the place of his marriage, and the places where his children are born, have very little connexion with each other. 3. The claim of Naissus is supported by the anonymous writer, published at the end of Ammianus, p. 710, and who in general copied very good materials; and it is confirmed by Julius Firmicius (de Astrologia, l. i. c. 4), who flourished under the reign of Constantine himself. Some o have been raised against the integrity of the text, and the application of the sage of Firmicius; but the former is established by the best MSS. and the latter is very ably defended by Lipsius de Magnitudine Romana, l. iv.c. 11, et Supplement.
(11) Literis minus instructus. Anonym. ad Ammian. p. 710.
and constitutional manner. The first emotions of Galerius were those of surrise, disappointment, and rage; and as he could seldom restrain his passions, É. loudly threatened, that he would commit to the flames both the letter and the messenger. But his resentment insensibly subsided ; and when he recollected the doubtful chance of war, when he had weighed the character and strength of his adversary, he consented to embrace the honourable accommodation which the prudence of Constantine had left open to him. Without either condemning or o the choice of the British army, Galerius accepted the son of his deceased colleague, as the sovereign of the provinces beyond the Alps; but he gave him only the title of Cesar, and the fourth rank among the man princes, while he conferred the vacant place of Augustus on his favourite Severus. . The apparent harmony of the empire was still preserved, and Constantine, who already possessed the substance, expected, without impatience, an opportunity of obtaining the honours, of supreme power.(17) The children of Constantius by his second marriage were six in number, three of either sex, and whose imperial descent might have solicited a preference over the meaner extraction of the son of Helena. But Constantine was in the thirty-second year of his age, in the full vigour both of mind and body, at the time when the eldest of his brothers could not possibly be more than thirteen years old. His claim of superior merit had been allowed and ratified by the dying emperor.(18) In his last moments, Constantius bequeathed to his §. son '. care of the safety as well as greatness of the family; conjuring him to assume both the authority and the sentiments of a father with regard to the children of Theodora. Their liberal education, advantageous marriages, the secure dignity of their lives, and the first honours of the state with which ey were invested, attest the fraternal affection of Constantine; and as those sprinces possessed a mild and grateful disposition, they submitted without reluctance to the superiority of his genius and fortune.(1 o II. The ambitious spirit of Galerius was scarcely reconciled to the disappointment of his views upon the Gallic provinces, before the unexpected loss of Italy wounded his pride as well as power in a still more sensible part. The lo absence of the emperors had #. Rome with discontent and indignation; ; the people ... discovered, that the preference given to Nicomedia and Milan, was not to be ascribed to the particular inclination of Dioclesian, but to the permanent form of government which he had instituted. It was in vain that, a few months after his abdication, his successors dedicated, under his name, those magnificent baths, whose ruins still supply the ground as well as the materials for so many churches and convents.(20). The tranquillity of those elegant recesses of ease and luxury was disturbed by the impatient murmurs of the Romans; and a report was insensibly circulated, that the sums expended in erecting those buildings, would soon be required at their hands. About that time the avarice of Galerius, or perhaps the exigencies of the state, had induced him to make a very strict and rigorous inquisition into the property of his subjects for the purpose of a general taxation, both on their lands, and on their persons. A very minute survey appears to have been taken of their real estates; and wherever there was the slightest suspicion of concealment, torture was very freely employed to obtain a sincere declaration of their personal wealth.(21) The privileges j, had exalted Italy above the rank of the provinces, were
(17) Lactantius de M. P. c. 25. Eumenius (vii. 8) gives a rhetorical turn to the whole transaction. (18) The choice of Constantine, by his dying father, which is warranted by reason, and insinuated by Eumenius, seems to be confirmed by the most unexceptionable authority, the concurring evidence of Lactantius (de M. P. c.24) and of Libanius, (Oration i.) of Eusebius (in Vit. Constantin. I. i. c. 18–24,) and cf Julian (Oration i.) (19) Of the three sisters of Constantine, Constantia married the emperor Licinius, Anastasia the Cesar Bassianus, and Eutropia the consul Nepotianus. The three brothers were, Dalmatius, Julius Constantius, and Annibalianus, of whom we shall have occasion to speak hereafter. (20) See Gruter Inscrip. p. 178. The six princes are all mentioned, Dioclesian and Maximian as the senior Augusti and fathers of the emperors. They jointly dedicate, for the use of their own Romans, this magnificent edifice. The architects have delineated the ruins of these Therma; and the antiquarians, particularly Donatus and Nardini, have ascertained the ground which they covered. One of the great rooms is now the Carthusian church; and even one of the porter's lodges is sufficient to form another church, which belongs to the Feuillans. (21) See Lactantius de M. P. c. 26.31.
no longer regarded:"and the officers of the revenue already began to number the Roman people, and to settle the proportion of the new taxes. Even when the spirit ofreedom had been utterly o: the tamest subjects have sometimes ventured to resist an unprecedented invasion of their property; but on this occasion the injury was aggravated by the insult, and the sense of private interest was quickened by that of national honour. The conquest of Macedonia, as we have already observed, had delivered the Roman people from the weight of personal taxes. Though they had experienced every form of despotism, they had now enjoyed that exemption near five hundred years; nor .. they patiently brook the insolence of an Illyrian peasant, who, from his distant residence in Asia, presumed to number Rome among the tributary cities of his empire. The rising fury of the people was encouraged by the authority, or at least the connivance, of the senate; and the feeble remains of the praetorian guards, who had reason to apprehend their own dissolution, embraced so honourable a pretence, and declared their readiness to draw their swords in the service of their oppressed country. It was the wish, and it soon became the hope, of every citizen, that after expelling from Italy their foreign tyrants, they should elect a prince who, by the place of his residence, and by his maxims of government, might once more deserve the title of Roman emperor. The name, as well as the situation, of Maxentius, determined in his favour the popular enthusiasm. axentius was the son of the emperor Maximian, and he had married the daughter of Galerius. His birth and alliance seemed to offer him the fairest H. of succeeding to the empire; but his vices and incapacity procured im the same exclusion from the dignity of Cesar, which Constantine had deserved by a dangerous superiority of merit. The policy of Galerius preferred such associates as would never disgrace the choice, nor dispute the commands of their benefactor. An obscure stranger was therefore raised to the throne of Italy, and the son of the late emperor of the West was left to enjo the luxury of a private fortune in a villa a few miles distant from the capital. The gloomy passions of his soul, shame, vexation, and rage, were inflamed by envy on the news of Constantine’s success ; but the . of Maxentius revived with the ". discontent, and he was easily persuaded to unite his personal injury and pretensions with the cause of the Roman people. Two praetorian tribunes and a commissary of provisions undertook the management of the conspiracy; and as every order of men was actuated by the same spirit, the immediate event was neither doubtful nor difficult. The praefect of the city, and a few magistrates, who maintained their fidelity to Severus, were massacred by the guards; and Maxentius, invested with the imperial ornaments, was acknowledged by the applauding senate and i. as the protector of the Roman freedom and dignity. It is uncertain whether Maximian was previously acquainted with the conspiracy; but as soon as the standard of rebellion was erected at Rome, the old emperor broke from the retirement where the authority of Dioclesian had condemned him to pass a life of melancholy solitude, and concealed his returning ambition under the disguise of paternal tenderness. At the request of his son and of the senate, he condescended to re-assume the purple. '#. ancient dignity, his experience, and his fame in arms, added strength as well as reputation to the party of Maxentius.(22) According to the advice, or rather the orders, of his colleague, the emperor Severus immediately hastened to Rome, in the full confidence, that, by his unexpected : he should easily suppress the tumult of an unwarlike populace, commanded by a licentious youth. But he found on his arrival the gates of the city shut against him, the walls filled with men and arms, an £xperienced general at the head of the rebels, and his own troops without spirit or affection. A large body of Moors deserted to the enemy, allured by the promise of a large donative; and, if it be true that they had been levied
(22) The sixth Panegyric represents the conduct of Maximian in the most favourable light; and the ambiguous expression of Aurelius Victor, “retractante diu," may signify, either that he contrived, or that he opposed the conspiracy. See Zosimus, 'd p. 79, and Lactantius de M. P. c. 26. 2