« ForrigeFortsett »
tn»Tiu him only one son, who was called Crispus. By Fausta, the cnspu»:n. daughter of Maximian, he had three daughters, and three sons, suatinm, n. known by the kindred names of Constantine, Constantius, and "jotti". n- Constans. The unambitious brothers of the great Constantine, Julius Constantius, Dalmatius, and Hannibalianus,8 were permitted to enjoy the most honourable rank, and the most affluent fortune, that could be consistent with a private station. The youngest of the three lived without a name, and died without posterity. His two elder brothers obtained in marriage the daughters of wealthy senators, and propagated new branches of the Imperial race. Gallus and Julian afterwards became the most illustrious of the children of Julius Constantius, the Patrician. The two sons of Dalmatius, who had been decorated with the vain title of censor, were named Dalmatius and Hannibalianus. The two sisters of the great Constantine, Anastasia and Eutropia, were bestowed on Optatus and Nepotianus, two senators of noble birth and of consular dignity. His third sister, Constantia, was distinguished by her pre-eminence of greatness and of misery. She remained the widow of the vanquished Licinius; and it was by her entreaties that an innocent boy, the offspring of their marriage, preserved for some time, his life, the title of Caesar, and a precarious hope of the succession. Besides the females and the allies of the Flavian house, ten or twelve males, to whom the language of modern courts would apply the title of princes of the blood, seemed, according to the order of their birth, to be destined either to inherit or to support the throne of Constantine. But in less than thirty years, this numerous and increasing family was reduced to the persons of Constantius and Julian, who alone had survived a series of crimes and calamities, such as the tragic poets have deplored in the devoted lines of Pelops and of Cadmus. vtrtuMof Crispus, the eldest son of Constantine, and the presumptive
cruinu heir of the empire, is represented by impartial historians as an amiable and accomplished youth. The care of his education, or at least of his studies, was entrusted to Lactantius, the most eloquent of the Christians; a praeceptor admirably qualified to
the children of Fausta; Zosimus denies it (ii. 39). We have to accept the fact that the first eight years of the marriage were fruitless, Constantine being born in 315-16 if Julian's statement is true. Or. i. 10, p. 25. Mommsen thinks they may have been adopted by Fausta: C. I. L. 10, 678.J
"Ducange (Familiae Byzantinae, p. 44) bestows on him, after Zonaras, the name of Constantine; a name somewhat unlikely, as it was already occupied by the elder brother. That of Hannibalianus is mentioned in the Paschal Chronicle, and is approved by Tillemont, Hist, des Empereurs, torn. iv. p. 527. [The correct form of the second brother's name is Delmatius.]
form the taste, and to excite the virtues, of his illustrious dis-
This dangerous popularity soon excited the attention of Con- Jmioot or stantine, who, both as a father and as a king, was impatient of A.d. Sm, * an equal. Instead of attempting to secure the allegiance of his son, by the generous ties of confidence and gratitude, he resolved [a D Sm, to prevent the mischiefs which might be apprehended from dissatisfied ambition. Crispus soon had reason to complain that, while his infant brother Constantius was sent, with the title of Caesar, to reign over his peculiar department of the Gallic provinces,11 he, a prince of mature years, who had performed such
'Jerom. in Chron. The poverty of Lactantius may be applied either to the praise of the disinterested philosopher or to the shame of the unfeeling patron. See Tillemont. Mem. Ecclesiast. torn. vi. part i. p. 345. Unpin, Bibliotheque Ecclesiast. torn i. p. 205. Lardner's Credibility of the Gospel History, part Il vol. vii. p. 66.
l»Euseb. Hist. Ecclesiast 1. x. c. 9. Butropius (x. 6) styles him "egregium vi ram " ; and J uhan (Orat. i.) very plainly alludes to the exploits of Crispus in the civil war. See Spanheim, Comment, p. 02.
"Compare Idatius and the Paschal Chronicle with Ammianus, I. xiv. c. 5. The war in which Constantius was created Caesar seems to be more accurately fixed by the two chronologists; but the historian who lived in his court could not be ignorant of the day of the anniversary. [The day is Nov. 8; so Idatius, conrecent and signal services, instead of being raised to the superior rank of Augustus, was confined almost a prisoner to his father's court; and exposed, without power or defence, to every calumny which the malice of his enemies could suggest. Under such painful circumstances, the royal youth might not always be able to compose his behaviour, or suppress his discontent; and we may be assured that he was encompassed by a train of indiscreet or perfidious followers, who assiduously studied to inflame, and who were perhaps instructed to betray, the unguarded warmth of his A.d 328, resentment. An edict of Constantine, published about this time, manifestly indicates his real or affected suspicions that a secret conspiracy had been formed against his person and government. By all the allurements of honours and rewards, he invites informers of every degree to accuse without exception his magistrates or ministers, his friends or his most intimate favourites, protesting, with a solemn asseveration, that he himself will listen to the charge, that he himself will revenge his injuries; and concluding with a prayer, which discovers some apprehension of danger, that the providence of the Supreme Being may still continue to protect the safety of the emperor and of the empire.13 Thrice and The informers, who complied with so liberal an invitation, jm*. A.d. were sufficiently versed in the arts of courts to select the friends and adherents of Crispus as the guilty persons; nor is there any reason to distrust the veracity of the emperor, who had promised an ample measure of revenge and punishment. The policy of Constantine maintained, however, the same appearances of regard and confidence towards a son whom he began to consider as his most irreconcileable enemy. Medals were struck with the customary vows for the long and auspicious reign of the young Caesar;I3 and as the people, who was not admitted into the secrets of the palace, still loved his virtues and respected his dignity, a poet who solicits his recall from exile, adores with equal devotion the majesty of the father and that of the son.14 The time was now arrived for celebrating
firmed by the Fasti of Philocalus, C. I. L. i. p. 379. Ammian's Oct. is a slip for
M Cod. Theod. 1. ix. tit. iv. [leg. 1,4]. Godefroy suspected the secret motives of this law. Comment, torn. iii. p. 9. [But it is very doubtful whether such secret motives, and not rather flagrant abuses, led to this edict.]
"Ducange, Fam. Byzant. p. 28. Tillemont, torn. iv. p. 610.
"His name was Porphyrius Optatianus. The date of his panegyric, written the august ceremony of the twentieth year of the reign of Constantine; and the emperor, for that purpose, removed his court from Nicomedia to Rome, where the most splendid preparations had been made for his reception. Every eye and every tongue affected to express their sense of the general happiness, and the veil of ceremony and dissimulation was drawn for a while over the darkest designs of revenge and murder.15 In the midst of the festival, the unfortunate Crispus was apprehended by order of the emperor, who laid aside the tenderness of a father, without assuming the equity of a judge. The examination was short and private ;"; and, as it was thought decent to conceal the fate of the young prince from the eyes of the Roman people, he was sent under a strong guard to Cola, in Istria, where, soon afterwards, he was put to death, either by the hand of the executioner or by the more gentle operation of poison.17 The Caesar Licinius, a youth of amiable manners, was involved in the ruin of Crispus ;18 and the stern [ad. Uu jealousy of Constantine was unmoved by the prayers and tears of his favourite sister, pleading for the life of a son, whose rank was his only crime, and whose loss she did not long survive. The story of these unhappy princes, the nature and evidence of their guilt, the forms of their trial, and the circumstances of their death, were buried in mysterious obscurity; and the
according to the taste of the age in vile acrostics, is settled by Scaliger ad Euseb. p. 250. Tillemont, torn. iv. p. 607 [cp. p. 221], and Fabricius, Biblioth. Latin. 1. i». c. 1. [Clinton gives the date as 325 A.D. Jerome, Chron., enters it under 329 A.D.J
"Zosnn. L ii. p. 103 . Godefroy, Chronol. Legum, p. 28.
«.v«ptTu<, without a trial, is the strong, and most probably the just, expression of Suidas. The elder Victor, who wrote under the next reign, speaks with becoming caution. "Natu grandior incertum qua causa patris judicio occidisset." If we consult the succeeding writers, Eutropius, the younger Victor, Orosius, Jeroni, Zosimus, Philostorgius, and Gregory of Tours; their knowledge will appear gradually to increase, as their means of information must have diminished; a circumstance which frequently occurs in historical disquisition. [See Appendix 14.]
17 Ammianus (1. xiv. c. n) uses the general expression of percmptum. Codinus (p. 34 [63, ed. Bonn] ) beheads the young prince; but Sidonius Apollinaris (EpistoL v. 8), for the sake perhaps of an antithesis to Fausta's warm bath, chooses to administer a draught of cold poison. [All critics are agreed as to the date, 326, though Chron. Alex, gives 325. The true causes of the tragedy are enveloped in a tantalizing veil of obscurity. It may be noted that the name of Crispus was often erased on inscriptions; cp. C. I. L. 10, 517, &c]
wSororis filium, commodse indolis juvenem. Eutropius, x. 6 [date, see Jerome, Chron.]. May I not be permitted to conjecture that Crispus had married Helena, the daughter of the Emperor Licinius, and that on the happy delivery of the princess, in the year 322, a general pardon was granted by Constantine? [So Seeck.] See Ducange, Fam. Byzant. p. 47, and the law (L ix. tit. xxxviii. [leg. 1]) of the Theodosian Code, which has so much embarrassed the interpreters. Godefroy, torn. iii. p. 267. [As to the younger Licinius, cp. Appendix 14. J
VOL. II. 14
courtly bishop, who has celebrated in an elaborate work the virtues and piety of his hero, observes a prudent silence on the subject of these tragic events.19 Such haughty contempt for the opinion of mankind, whilst it imprints an indelible stain on the memory of Constantine, must remind us of the very different behaviour of one of the greatest monarchs of the present age. The Czar Peter, in the full possession of despotic power, submitted to the judgment of Russia, of Europe, and of posterity, the reasons which had compelled him to subscribe to the condemnation of a criminal, or at least of a degenerate, son.20 Thr .mprtti The innocence of Crispus was so universally acknowledged that the modern Greeks, who adore the memory of their founder, are reduced to palliate the guilt of a parricide, which the common feelings of human nature forbade them to justify. They pretend that, as soon as the afflicted father discovered the falsehood of the accusation by which his credulity had been so fatally misled, he published to the world his repentance and remorse; that he mourned forty days, during which he abstained from the use of the bath and all the ordinary comforts of life; and that, for the lasting instruction of posterity, he erected a golden statue of Crispus, with this memorable inscription: To My Son, Whom I Unjustly Condemned.21 A tale so moral and so interesting would deserve to be supported by less exceptionable authority; but, if we consult the more ancient and authentic writers, they will inform us that the repentance of Constantine was manifested only in acts of blood and revenge; and that he atoned for the murder of an innocent son, by the execution, perhaps, of a guilty wife. They ascribe the misfortunes of Crispus to the arts of his stepmother Fausta, whose implacable hatred, or whose disappointed love, renewed in the palace of Constantine the ancient tragedy of Hippolytus and of Phsedra.22 Like the daughter of Minos, the daughter of Maximian accused her son-in-law of an incestuous attempt
u See the Life of Constantine, particularly 1. ii. a 19, 20. Two hundred and fifty years afterwards, Evagrius (1. hi. c. 41) deduced from the silence of Eusebius a vain argument against the reality of the fact.
*> Histoire de Pierre le Grand, par Voltaire, part ii. c. x.
81 In order to prove that the statue was erected by Constantine, and afterwards concealed by the malice of the Arians, Codinus very readily creates (p. 34) two witnesses, Hippolytus and the younger Herodotus, to whose imaginary histories he appeals with unblushing confidence.
^Zosimus (L ii p. 103 ) may be considered as our original. The ingenuity of the moderns, assisted by a few hints from the ancients, has illustrated and improved his obscure and imperfect narrative. [For Seeck's view, see A pp. 14.]