his mind by the acquisition of knowledge (11). He was about A, D. 292. eighteen years of age when his father was promoted to the rank of Cæsar; 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 Diocletian, signalised 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 youth 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 of Cæsar, 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 secret revenge (12). Every hour increased the danger of Constantine, and the anxiety of his father, who, by repeated letters, expressed the warmest desire of embracing his son. For some time the policy of Galerius supplied him with delays and excuses, but it was impossible long to refuse so natural a request of his associate, without maintaining his refusal by arms. The permission of the journey was reluctantly granted, and whatever precautions the emperor might have taken to intercept a return, the consequences of which he, with so much reason, apprehended, they were effectually disappointed by the incredible diligence of Constantine (13). Leaving the palace of Nicomedia in the night, he travelled post through Bithynia, Thrace, Dacia, Pannonia, Italy, and Gaul, and amidst the joyful acclamations of the people, reached the port of Boulogne, in the very moment when his father was preparing to embark for Britain (14).


(11) Literis minus instructus. Anonym. ad Ammian. p. 710.

(12) Galerius, or perhaps his own courage, exposed him to single combat with a Sarmatian (Anonym. p. 710.), and with a monstrous lion. See Praxagoras apud Photium, p. 63. Praxagoras, an Athenian philosopher, had written a life of Constantine, in two books, which are now lost. He was a contemporary.

(13) Zosimus, 1. ii. p. 78, 79. Lactantius de M. P. c. 24. The former tells a very foolish story, that Constantine caused all the post-horses which he had used, u be hamstrung. Such a bloody execution, without preventing a pursuit, would have scattered suspicion, and might have stopped his journey.*

(14) Anonym. p. 710. Panegyr. Veter. vii. 4. But Zosimus, l. ii. p. 79. Eusebius de Vit. Constant. I. i. c. 21., and Lactantius de M. P. c. 24. suppose, witbless accuracy, that he found his father on his death-bed.

* Zosimus is not the only 'writer who tells this Manso (Leben Constantins), p. 18., observes story. The younger Victor confirms it. Ad frus- that the story las been exaggerated; he took trandos insequentes, publica jumenta, quaqua this precaution curing the first stage of his jouriter ageret, interficicns. Aurelius Victor de Cæ- ney.-M. sar. says the same thing, G. as also the Anonymus Valesii.- M.

[Constantius, and elevation

Death of The British expedition, and an easy victory over the barbarians

pation of Caledonia, were the last exploits of the reign of Constantius. · He

of ended his life in the Imperial palace of York, fifteen months after he
Constantine. endeu ni
A. D. 306. had received the title of Augustus, and almost fourteen years and a
July 25.

half after he had been promoted to the rank of Cæsar. His death
was immediately succeeded by the elevation of Constantine. The
ideas of inheritance and succession are so very familiar, that the
generality of mankind consider them as founded, not only in reason,
but in nature itself. Our imagination readily transfers the same
principles from private property to public dominion : and whenever
a virtuous father leaves behind him a son whose merit seems to jus-
tify the esteem, or even the hopes, of the people, the joint influence
of prejudice and of affection operates with irresistible weight. The
flower of the western armies had followed Constantius into Britain,
and the national troops were reinforced by a numerous body of
Alemanni, who obeyed the orders of Crocus, one of their hereditary
chieftains (15). The opinion of their own importance, and the as-
surance that Britain, Gaul, and Spain, would acquiesce in their no-
mination, were diligently inculcated to the legions by the adherents
of Constantine. The soldiers were asked, Whether they could
hesitate a moment between the honour of placing at their head the
worthy son of their beloved emperor, and the ignominy of tamely
expecting the arrival of some obscure stranger, on whom it might
please the sovereign of Asia to bestow the armies and provinces of
the West? It was insinuated to them, that gratitude and liberality
held a distinguished place among the virtues of Constantine; nor did
that artful prince show himself to the troops, till they were prepared
to salute him with the names of Augustus and Emperor. The
throne was the object of his desires; and had he been less actuated
by ambition, it was his only means of safety. He was well ac-
quainted with the character and sentiments of Galerius, and suffi-
ciently apprised, that if he wished to live he must determine to
reign. The decent and even obstinate resistance which he chose
to affect (16), was contrived to justify his usurpation; nor did he
yield to the acclamations of the army, till he had provided the proper
materials for a letter, which he immediately despatched to the em-
peror of the East. Constantine informed him of the melancholy
event of his father's leath, modestly asserted his natural claim to
the succession, and respectfully lamented, that the affectionate vio-
lence of his troops had not permitted him to solicit the Imperial
purple in the regular and constitutional manner. The first em.

(15) Cunctis qui aderant annitentibus, sed præcipue Croco (alii Eroco) [Erich ?] Alamannorum Rege, auxilii gratia Constantium comitato, imperium capit. Victor Junior, c. 41. This is perhaps the first instance of a barbarian king, who assisted the Roman arms with an independent body of his own subjects. The practice grew familiar, and at last became fatal.

(16) His panegyrist Eumenius (vii. 8.) ventures to affirm, in the presence of Constantine, that he put spurs to bis horse, and tried, but in vain, to escape from the hands of his soldiers.



title of

that of


and sisters of Constantine.

tions of Galerius were those of surprise, disappointment, and rage; and as he could seldom restrain his passions, he loudly threatened, that he would commit to the flames both the letter and the messenger. But his resentment insensibly subsided; and when he re- He is collected the doubtful chance of war, when he had weighed the

ged by character and strength of his adversary, he consented to embrace che the honourable accommodation which the prudence of Constantine him only the had left open to him. Without either condemning or ratifying the Cæsar, and choice of the British army, Galerius accepted the son of his deceased Augustus to colleague, as the sovereign of the provinces beyond the Alps; but he gave him only the title of Cæsar, and the fourth rank among the Roman princes, whilst 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 the brothers number, three of either sex, and whose Imperial descent might com 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 eld est 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 eldest son the 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 they were invested, attest the fraternal affection of Constantine; and as those princes possessed a mild and grateful disposition, they submitted without reluctance to the superiority of his genius and fortune (19).

II. The ambitious spirit of Galerius was scarcely reconciled to Discontent of the disappointment of his views upon the Callie provinces, before the aromans the unexpected loss of Italy wounded his pride as well as power in apprehension a still more sensible part. The long, absence of the emperors had filled Rome with discontent and indignation; and the people gradually discovered, that the preference given to Nicomedia and Milan

the Romans

at the

(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 unexcepionable authority, the concurring evidence of Lactantius (de M. P. c. 24.) and of Libanius (Oratio i), of Eusebius (in Vit. Constantin. 1. i. c. 18. 21.) and of Julian (Oratio i.).

(19) of the three sisters of Constantine, Constantia married the emperor Licinius, Anastasia the Cæsar Bassianus, and Eutropia the consul Nepotianus. "The three brothers were, Dalmatius, Julius Constantius, and Annibalianus, of whom we shall have occasion to speak hereafter.

was not to be ascribed to the particular inclination of Diocletian, 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 which had exalted Italy above the rank of the provinces were 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 of freedom had been utterly extinguished, 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 could 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 Prætorian guards, who had reason to apprehend their own dissolution, embraced so honourable a pretence, and declared their readiness to draw their swords in


(20) See Gruter Iuscrip. p. 178. The six princes are all mentioned, Diocletian and Maximian as ņēmēņ222/22ti2§Â2Ò2ÂÒ2ÂòÂ?2/2/2/2/2/2/2 /2/2§2§Â§Â2Ò2Â?2?Â2Ò2Âòtiffimâ tim2tiņņēÂòÂņģētiņēmēģū2\/ffitiū2/22 / Romans, this magnificent edifice. The architects bave delineated the ruins of these Therme ; and the antiquarians, particularly Dondus 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. 96. 31.

* Savigny, in his memoir on Raman taxation a necessary consequence of the division of the (Mem. Berl. Academ. 1822, 1823, p. 5.), dates empire : it became impossible to maintain a sefrom this period the abolition of the Jus Italicum. cond court and executive, and leave so large and He quotes a remarkable passage of Aurelius Vica fruitful a part of the territory exempt from contor. Hinc denique parti Italiæ iwectum tribu- tribution.-M. torum ingens malum. Aur. Vict. 6. 39. It was

A. D. 306.

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. Maxentius was the son of the emperor Maximian, and he had Maxentius

declared married the daughter of Galerius. His birth and alliance seemed to emperorat offer him the fairest promise of succeeding to the empire; but his a. vices and incapacity procured him the same exclusion from the dig- Oct. 28. nity of Cæsar, 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 enjoy 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 hopes of Maxentius revived with the public discontent, and he was easily persuaded to unite his personal injury and pretensions with the cause of the Roman people. Two Prætorian 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 præfect 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 people 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 Maximian of rebellion was erected at Rome, the old emperor broke from the heart retirement where the authority of Diocletian 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. His 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 Defeat and emperor Severus immediately hastened to Fome, in the full confidence that, by his unexpected celerity, he should easily suppress the tumult of an unwarlike populace, commanded by a licentious youth.


death of Severus.

(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, 1. ii. p.79., and Lactantius de M. P. c. 26.

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