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tine, with a part of his army, to the banks of the Rhine; the remainder of the troops were stationed in the southern provinces of Gaul, which lay exposed to the enterprises of the Italian emperor, and a considerable treasure was deposited in the city of Aries. Maximian either craftily invented, or hastily credited, a vain report of the de*th of Constantine. Without hesitation he ascended the throne, seized the treasure, and scattering it with his accustomed profusion among the soldiers, endeavoured to awake in their minds the memory of his ancient dignity and exploits. Before he could establish his authority, or finish the negotiation which he appears to have entered into with his son Maxentius, the celerity of Constantine defeated all his hopes. On the first news of his perfidy and ingratitude, that prince returned by rapid marches from the Rhine to the Saone, embarked on the last-mentioned river at Chalons* and at Lyons trusting himself to the rapidity of the Rhone, arrived at the gates of Arles, with a military force which it was impossible for Maximian to resist, and which scarcely permitted him to take refuge in the neighbouring city of Marseilles. The narrow neck of land which joined that place to the continent was fortified against the besiegers, whilst the sea was open, either for the escape of Maximian, or for the succours of Maxentius, if the latter should choose to disguise his invasion of Gaul under the honourable pretence of defending a distressed, or, as he might allege, an injured father. Apprehensive of the fatal consequences of delay, Constantine gave orders for an immediate assault; but the scaling-ladders Were found too short for the height of the walls, and Marseilles might have sustained as long a siege as it formerly did against the arms of Caesar, if the garrison, conscious either of their fault or of their danger, had not purchased their pardon by delivering up the eity and the person of Maximian. A secret but irrevocable sentence His death. of death was pronounced against the usurper; he obtained only the same favour which he had indulged to Severus, and it was published to the world, that, oppressed by the remorse of his repeated crimes, he had strangled himself with his own hands. After he had lost the assistance, and disdained the moderate counsels of Diocletian, the second period of his active life was a series of public calamities and personal mortifications, which were terminated, in about three years, by an ignominious death. He deserved his fate; but we should find more reason to applaud the humanity of Constantine, if he had spared an old man, the benefactor of his father, and the father of his wife. During the whole of this melancholy transaction, it appears that Fausta sacrificed the sentiments of nature to her conjugal duties (35).
D. 310. February.
(35) Zosim. l. ii. p. 82. Eumenias in Panegyr. Vet. vii. 16—H. Ihe latter of these has undoubtedly represented the whole affair in the most favourable light to his sovereign. Yet even from this
Death of The last years of Galerius were less shameful and unfortunate; iSiuiu. and though he had filled with more glory the subordinate station of Caesar than the superior rank of Augustus, he preserved, till the moment of his death, the first place among the princes of the Roman world. He survived his retreat from Italy about four years; and wisely relinquishing his views of universal empire, he devoted the remainder of his life to the enjoyment of pleasure, and to the execution of some works of public utility, among which we may distinguish the discharging into the Danube the superfluous waters of the lake Pelso, and the cutting down the immense forests that encompassed it; an operation worthy of a monarch, since it gave an extensive country to the agriculture of his Pannonian subjects (36). His death was occasioned by a very painful and lingering disorder. His body, swelled by an intemperate course of life to an unwieldy corpulence, was covered with ulcers, and devoured by innumerable swarms of those insects who have given their name to a most loathsome disease (37); but as Galerius had offended a very zealous and powerful party among his subjects, his sufferings, instead of exciting their compassion, have been celebrated as the
His dominion visible effects of divine justice (38). He had no sooner expired in bSen his palace of Nicomedia, than the two emperors who were indebted
Ka£SnSi8and for tne*r PurP*e to n*s favours* began to collect their forces, with the intention either of disputing, or of dividing, the dominions which he had left without a master. They were persuaded, however, to desist from the former design, and to agree in the latter. The provinces of Asia fell to the share of Maximin, and those of Europe augmented the portion of Licinius. The Hellespont and the Thracian Bosphorus formed their mutual boundary, and the banks
partial narrative 'we may conclude, that the repeated clemency of Constantinc, and the reiterated treasons of Maximian, as they arc described by Lactantius (de M. P. c. 29, 30.), and copied by the moderns, are destitute of any historical foundation. * *' (36) Aurelius Victor, c. 40. But that lake was situated on the Upper Pannonia, near the borders ofNoricum; and the province of Taleria (a name which the wife of Galerius gave to the drained country) undoubtedly lay between tic Drove and the Danube (Sextul Rufus, c. 9. ). I should therefore suspect that Victor has confounded the lake Pelso with the Volocoan marshes, or, as they are now called, the lake Sabaton. It is platcd in the heart of Valeria, and its present extent is not less than twelve Hungarian miles (about seventy English) in length, and two in breadth. See Severini Pannonia, l. t c. 9.
(37) Lactantius (de M. P. c. 33.) ind Eusehius (l. viii. c. 16.) describe the symptoms and progress of his disorder with singular accuracy and apparent pleasure.
(38) If any (like the late Dr. Jortin, Remarks on- Ecclesiastical History, vol. ii. p. 307—356.) still delight in recording the wonderful deaths of the persecutors, I would recommend to their perusal an admirable passage of Grotius (Hist. !. vii. p. 332.) concerning the last illness.of Philip II. of Spain.
* Tet some pagan authors relate and confirm tamen Constantinum, reperta occasione, fnterfithem. Aurelius Victor speaking of tfiximian says, cere, poenas dedit justissimo exitu. Eutrop. x. cumquc specie officii, dolis composes, Constau- p. 661. (Anon. Gent.) — G. tinum geuerum tentaret acerbe, jure tamen in- These writers hardly confirm move than Gibterierat. Aur. Vict. de Caesar. i. p. 618. Eutropius hon admits; he denies the repeated clemency of also says, imle ad Gallias profectus est (Uaximi- Constantinc, and the reiterated treasons of Muxianus) dolo composito tamfluam a Alio esset ex- mian. Compare Manso, p. 302.—M. pulsus,utConstantino generojungerAur; inolicns
of those narrow seas, which flowed in the midst of the Roman world, were covered with soldiers, with arms, and with fortifications. The deaths of Maximian and of Galerius reduced the number of emperors to four. The sense of their true interest soon connected Licinius and Constantine; a secret alliance was concluded between Maximin and Maxentius, and their unhappy subjects expected with terror the bloody consequences of their inevitable dissensions, which were no longer restrained by the fear or the respect which they had entertained for Galerius (39).
Among so many crimes and misfortunes, occasioned by the pas- Administrasions of the Roman princes, there is some pleasure in discovering co^tantine a single action which may be ascribed to their virtue. In the sixth S» 6julyear of his reign, Constantine visited the city of Autun, and ge- 306-312. nerously remitted the arrears of tribute, reducing at the same time the proportion of their assessment, from twenty-five to eighteen thousand heads, subject to the real and personal capitation (40). Yet even this indulgence affords the most unquestionable proof of the public misery. This tax was so extremely oppressive, either in itself or in the mode of collecting it, that whilst the revenue was increased by extortion, it was diminished by despair : a considerable part of the territory of Autun was left uncultivated; and great numbers of the provincials rather chose to live as exiles and outlaws, than to support the weight of civil society. It is but too probable, that the bountiful emperor relieved, by a partial act of liberality, one among the many evils which he had caused by his general maxims of administration. But even those maxims were less the effect of choice than of necessity. And if we except the death of Maximian, the reign of Constantine in Gaul seems to have been the most innocent and even virtuous period of his life. The provinces were protected by his presence from the inroads of the barbarians, who either dreaded or experienced his active valour. After a signal victory over the Franks and Alemanni, several of their princes were exposed by his order to the wild beasts in the amphitheatre of Treves, and the people seem to have epjoyed the spectacle, without discovering, in such a treatment of royal captives, any thing that was repugnant to the laws of nations or of humanity (41) .*
The virtues of Constantine were rendered more illustrious by the
(39) See Ensebius, 1. be. 6. 10. Lactantius do M. P. c. 36. Zosimus is less exact, and evidently confounds Maximian with Maximin.
(40) See the viiith Panegyr. in which Eumenius displays, in the presence of Constantine, the misery and the gratitude of the city of Autun.
(41) Eutropins, x. 3. Panegyr. Veter. vii. 10, 11,12. A great number of the French youth were likewise exposed to the same cruel and ignominious death.
* Yet the panegyric assumes something of an est enim vera virtus, ut non ament et quiescant.
apologetic tone. Tevcro, Constantine, quantum- The orator appeals to the ancient usage of the re
libet oderint hostes, dum perhorrescant. Haec public—11.
Tyranny of vices of Maxentius. Whilst the Gallic provinces enjoyed as much Haxenuua m happiness ^ tne condition of the times was capable of receiving, andAAD.'ca' Italy and Africa groaned under the dominion of a tyrant, as con306-3'2- temptible as he was odious. The zeal of flattery and faction has indeed too frequently sacrificed the reputation of the vanquished to the glory of their successful rivals; but even those writers who have revealed, with the most freedom and pleasure, the faults of Congtantine, unanimously confess that Maxentius was cruel, rapacious, and profligate (42). He had the good fortune to suppress a slight rebellion in Africa. The governor and a few adherents had been guilty; the province suffered for their crime. The flourishing cities of Cirtha and Carthage, and the whole extent of that fertile country, were wasted by fire and sword. The abuse of victory was followed by the abuse of law and justice. A formidable army of sycophants and delators invaded Africa; the rich and the noble were easily convicted of a connection with the rebels; and those among them who experienced the emperor's clemency, were only punished by the confiscation of their estates (4-3). So signal a victory was celebrated by a magnificent triumph, and Maxentius exposed to the eyes of the people the spoils and captives of a Roman province. The state of the capital was no less deserving of compassion than that of Africa. The wealth of Rome supplied an inexhaustible fund for his vain and prodigal expenses, and the ministers of his revenue were skilled in the arts of rapine. It was under his reign that the method of exacting a free gift from the senators was first invented; and as the sum was insensibly increased, the pretences of levying it, a victory, a birth, a marriage, or an Imperial consulship, were proporiionably multiplied (44). Maxentius had imbibed the same implacable aversion to the senate, which had characterised most of the former tyrants of Rome: nor was it possible for his ungrateful temper to forgive the generous fidelity which had raised him to the throne, and supported him against all his enemies. The lives of the senators were exposed to his jealous suspicions, the dishonour of their wives and daughters heightened the gratification of his sensual passions (45). It may be presumed, that an Imperial lover was seldom reduced to sigh in vain; but whenever persuasion proved ineffectual, he had recourse to violence; and there remains one memorable example of a noble matron, who preserved her chastity by
(42) Julian excludes Maxentius from the banquet ef the Caesars -with abhorrence and eontempt;
and (Zosimns 1. ii. p. 85.) accuses him of every kind of cruelty and profligacy.
(43) Zosimns, 1. ii. p. 83—85. Aurelius Victor.
(44) The passage of Aurelius Victor should be read in the following manner: Primus instituto pessimo, munerum specie, Patres Oraioresque pecuniam conferre prodigenti sibi cogeret.
(45) Panegyr. Vet. ix. 3. Euseb. Hist. Eccles. viii. 14. et in Vit. Constant. i. 33, 34. Rufinus, c. 17. Thpvirtuous matron, who stabbed herself to escape the -violence of Maxentius, was a Christian, wife to the prefect of the city, and Iter name was Snphronia. It still remains a question among the casuists, Whether, on such occasions, suicide is justifiable?
a voluntary death. The soldiers were the only order of men whom he appeared to respect, or studied to please. He filled Rome and Italy with armed troops, connived at their tumults, suffered them with impunity to plunder, and even to massacre, the defenceless people (46); and indulging them in the same licentiousness which their emperor enjoyed, Maxentius often bestowed on his military favourites the splendid villa, or the beautiful wife, of a senator. A prince of such a character, alike incapable of governing either in peace or in war, might purchase the support, but he could never obtain the esteem, of the army. Yet his pride was equal to his other vices. Whilst he passed his indolent life, either within the walls of his palace, or in the neighbouring gardens of Sallust, he was repeatedly heard to declare, that he alone was emperor, and that the other princes were no more than his lieutenants, on whom he had devolved the defence of the frontier provinces, that he might enjoy without interruption the elegant luxury of the capital. Rome, which had so long regretted the absence, lamented, during the six years of his reign, the presence of her sovereign (4.7).
Though Constantine might view the conduct of Masentius with civil war abhorrence, and the situation of the Romans with compassion, we coEESe have no reason to presume that he would have taken up arms to „ and. punish the one, or to relieve the other. But the tyrant of Italy A. D. 312'. rashly ventured to provoke a formidable enemy, whose amhition had been hitherto restrained by considerations of prudence, rather than by principles of justice (48). After the death of Maximian, his titles, according to the established custom, had been erased, and hig statues thrown down with ignominy. His son, who had persecuted and deserted him when alive, affected to display the most pious regard for his memory, and gave orders that a similar treatment should be immediately inflicted on all the statues that had been erected in Italy and Africa to the honour of Constantine. That wise prince,- who sincerely wished to decline a war, with the difficulty and importance of which he was sufficiently acquainted, at first dissembled the insult, and sought for redress by the milder expedients of negotiation, till he was convinced that the hostile and amhitious designs of the Italian emperor made it necessary for him to arm in his own defence. Maxentius, who openly avowed his pretensions to the whole monarchy of the West, had already pre
(46) Pratorianis eeedem vulgi quondam annaeret, is the vagae expression of Anrelius Victor. See wore particular, though somewhat different, accounts of a tumult and Massacre which happened at Bome, in Eusehius (l. viii. c. 14.), and in Zosimus (l. ii. p. 84.).
(47) Sec in the Panegyries (ix. 14.), a lively description of the indolence and vain pride of Maxenims. In another place, the orator observes, that the riches which Rome had accumulated in a period of 1060 years, were lavished by the tyrant on his mercenary bands; redemptis ad civile latrocinium manibus ingesserat.
(48) After the victory of Constantine, it was universally allowed, that the motive of delivering the republic from a detested tyrant would, at any time, have justified his expedition into Italy. Euseb. in Tit. Constantin. l. i. c. 26. Panegyr. Vet. ix. ».