« ForrigeFortsett »
was computed at fifty-four thousand men, and the slaughter of the conquerors was more considerable than that of the vanquished; " a circumstance which proves the obstinacy of the contest, and justifies the observation of an ancient writer that the forces of the empire were consumed in the fatal battle of Mursa, by the loss of a veteran army, sufficient to defend the frontiers or to add new triumphs to the glory of Rome.91 Notwithstanding the invectives of a servile orator, there is not the least reason to believe that the tyrant deserted his own standard in the beginning of the engagement. He seems to have displayed the virtues of a general and of a soldier till the day was irrecoverably lost, and his camp in the possession of the enemy. Magnentius then consulted his safety, and, throwing away the imperial ornaments, escaped with some difficulty from the pursuit of the light horse, who incessantly followed his rapid flight from the banks of the Drave to the foot of the Julian Alps.” The approach of winter supplied the indolence of Con-gonquest ot.
stantius with specious reasons for deferring the prosecution of **** the war till the ensuing spring. Magnentius had fixed his residence in the city of Aquileia, and shewed a seeming resolution to dispute the passage of the mountains and morasses which fortified the confines of the Venetian province. The surprisal of a castle in the Alps by the secret march of the Imperialists could scarcely have determined him to relinquish the possession of Italy, if the inclinations of the people had supported the cause of their tyrant.” But the memory of
90 According to Zonaras, Constantius, out of 80,000 men, lost 30,000, and Magnentius lost 24,000 out of 36,000. The other articles of this account seem probable and authentic, but the numbers of the tyrant's army must have been mistaken, either by the author or his transcribers. Magnentius had collected the whole force of the West, Romans and Barbarians, into one formidable body, which cannot fairly be estimated at less than 100,000 men. Julian, Orat. i. p. 34, 35 [75,
91 Ingentes R. I. vires ea dimicatione consumptae sunt, ad quaelibet bella externa idoneae, quae multum triumphorum possent securitatisque conferre. Eutropius, x. 13. The younger Victor expresses himself to the same effect. [Cp. Sulpicius Severus, Chron. 2, 38.]
*On this occasion, we must prefer the unsuspected testimony of Zosimus and Zonaras to the flattering assertions of Julian. The younger Victor paints the character of Magnentius in a singular light: “Sermonis acer, animi tumidi, et immodice timidus; artifex tamen ad occultandam audaciae specie formidinem ". Is it most likely that in the battle of Mursa his behaviour was governed by nature or by art? I should incline for the latter.
23 Julian. Orat. i. p. 38, 39 [48, 49]. In that place, however, as well as in Oration ii. p. 97 , he insinuates the general disposition of the senate, the people, and the soldiers of Italy, towards the party of the emperor.
Last defeat and death of Magnentius.
the cruelties exercised by his ministers, after the unsuccessful revolt of Nepotian, had left a deep impression of horror and resentment on the minds of the Romans. That rash youth, the son of the princess Eutropia, and the nephew of Constantine, had seen with indignation the sceptre of the West usurped by a perfidious barbarian. Arming a desperate troop of slaves and gladiators, he overpowered the feeble guard of the domestic tranquillity of Rome, received the homage of the senate, and, assuming the title of Augustus, precariously reigned during a tumult of twenty-eight days. The march of some regular forces put an end to his ambitious hopes: the rebellion was extinguished in the blood of Nepotian, of his mother Eutropia, and of his adherents; and the proscription was extended to all who had contracted a fatal alliance with the name and family of Constantine.” But, as soon as Constantius, after the battle of Mursa, became master of the sea-coast of Dalmatia, a band of noble exiles, who had ventured to equip a fleet in some harbour of the Hadriatic, sought protection and revenge in his victorious camp. By their secret intelligence with their countrymen, Rome and the Italian cities were persuaded to display the banners of Constantius on their walls. The grateful veterans, enriched by the liberality of the father, signalized their gratitude and loyalty to the son. The cavalry, the legions, and the auxiliaries of Italy renewed their oath of allegiance to Constantius; and the usurper, alarmed by the general desertion, was compelled, with the remains of his faithful troops, to retire beyond the Alps into the provinces of Gaul. The detachments, however, which were ordered either to press or to intercept the flight of Magnentius, conducted themselves with the usual imprudence of success; and allowed him, in the plains of Pavia, an opportunity of turning on his pursuers and of gratifying his despair by the carnage of a useless victory.” The pride of Magnentius was reduced, by repeated misfortunes, to sue, and to sue in vain, for peace. He first
***intuj dispatched a senator, in whose abilities he confided, and afterwards several bishops, whose holy character might obtain a more favourable audience, with the offer of resigning the purple, and the promise of devoting the remainder of his life to the service of the emperor. But Constantius, though he granted fair terms of pardon and reconciliation to all who abandoned the standard of rebellion,” avowed his inflexible resolution to inflict a just punishment on the crimes of an assassin, whom he prepared to overwhelm on every side by the effort of his victorious arms. An Imperial fleet acquired the easy possession of Africa and Spain, confirmed the wavering faith of the Moorish nations, and landed a considerable force, which passed the Pyrenees, and advanced towards Lyons, the last and fatal station of Magnentius." The temper of the tyrant, which was never inclined to clemency, was urged by distress to exercise every act of oppression which could extort an immediate supply from the cities of Gaul.” Their patience was at length exhausted ; and Treves, the seat of praetorian government, gave the signal of revolt by shutting her gates against Decentius, who had been raised by his brother to the rank either of Caesar or of Augustus.” From Treves, Decentius was obliged to retire to Sens, where he was soon surrounded by an Isenomes army of Germans, whom the pernicious arts of Constantius had introduced into the civil dissensions of Rome.100 In the meantime the Imperial troops forced the passages of the Cottian Alps, and in the bloody combat of Mount Seleucus irrevocably fixed the title of Rebels on the party of Magnentius.” He was unable to bring another army into the field; the fidelity of his
*The elder Victor describes in a pathetic manner the miserable condition of Rome: “Cujus stolidum ingenium adeo P. R. patribusque exitio fuit, uti passin, domus, fora, viae, templaque, cruore, cadaveribusque opplerentur bustorum modo". Athanasius (tom. i. p. 677) deplores the fate of several illustrious victims, and Julian (Orat. ii. p. 58 ) execrates the cruelty of Marcellinus, the implacable enemy of the house of Constantine. . [June is given as the date in Idatius and Chron. Pasch. ; but Rossi argues for July; Rev. Arch. 6, 375.] .*Zosim. l. ii. p. 133 . Victor in Epitome. The panegyrists of Constantius. with their usual candour, forget to mention this accidental defeat,
*Zonaras, tom. ii. l. xiii. p. 17. Julian, in several places of the two orations, expatiates on the clemency of Constantius to the rebels. * Zosim. l. ii. p. 133 sib.] Julian, Orat. i. p.40 ; ii. p. 74 . *Ammian. xv. 6. Zosim. l. ii. p. 133. Julian, who (Orat. i. p. 40) inveighs against the cruel effects of the tyrant's despair, mentions (Orat. i. p. 34) the oppressive edicts which were dictated by his necessities, or by his avarice. His subjects were compelled to purchase the Imperial demesnes; a doubtful and dangerous species of property, which, in case of a revolution, might be imputed to them as a treasonable usurpation. *The medals of Magnentius celebrate the victories of the two Augusti, and of the Caesar. The Caesar was another brother, named Desiderius. See Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. iv. p. 757. [Decentius was only Caesar. The two Augusti o:::::::::: on the coins are Magnentius and Constantius. Magnentius posed as the colleague of Constantius.] *Julian, Orat. i. p. 40, ii. p. 74, with Spanheim, p. 263. His Commentary illustrates the transactions of this civil war. Mons Seleuci was a small place in the Cottian Alps, a few miles distant from Vapincum, or Gap, an episcopal city of Dauphiné. See d'Anville, Notice de la Gaule, p. 464; and Longuerue, Description de la France, p. 327. 10, Zosimus, l. ii. p. 134 . Liban. Orat.x. p. 268, 269. The latter most vehemently arraigns this cruel and selfish policy of Constantius.
guards was corrupted: and, when he appeared in public to animate them by his exhortations, he was saluted with an unanimous shout of “Long live the emperor Constantius !” The tyrant, who perceived that they were preparing to deserve pardon and rewards by the sacrifice of the most obnoxious criminal, prevented their design by falling on his sword;” a death more easy and more honourable than he could hope to obtain from the hands of an enemy, whose revenge would have been coloured with the specious pretence of justice and fraternal piety. The example of suicide was imitated by Decentius, who strangled himself on the news of his brother's death. The author of the conspiracy, Marcellinus, had long since disappeared in the battle of Mursa,” and the public tranquillity was confirmed by the execution of the surviving leaders of a guilty and unsuccessful faction. A severe inquisition was extended over all who, either from choice or from compulsion, had been involved in the cause of rebellion. Paul, surnamed Catena, from his superior skill in the judicial exercise of tyranny, was sent to explore the latent remains of the conspiracy in the remote province of Britain. The honest indignation expressed by Martin, vice-praefect of the island, was interpreted as an evidence of his own guilt; and the governor was urged to the necessity of turning against his breast the sword with which he had been provoked to wound the Imperial minister. The most innocent subjects of the West were exposed to exile and confiscation, to death and torture; and, as the timid are always cruel, the mind of Constantius was inac, cessible to mercy.”
*Julian, Orat. i. p. 40. Zosimus, l. ii. p. 134 . Socrates, l. ii. c. 32. Sozomen, l. iv. c. 7. The younger Victor describes his death with some horrid circumstances: Transfosso latere, uterat vasti corporis, vulnere naribusque et ore cruorem effundens, exspiravit. If we can give credit to Zonaras, the tyrant, before he expired, had the pleasure of murdering with his own hands his mother and his brother Desiderius. [The date 11th Aug. must be accepted from Idatius Gibbon took 10th Aug. from Chron. Pasch., which gives the wrong year, 354.]
*Julian (Orat i. p. 58, 59) seems at a loss to determine whether he inflicted on himself the punishment of his crimes, whether he was drowned in the Drave, or whether he was carried by the avenging demons from the field of battle to his destined place of eternal tortures.
"Ammian. xiv. 5; xxi. 16. [Several inscriptions are extant celebrating the
victory of Constantius; e.g., C. I. L. 6, 1158: restitutor urbis Romae atque orbis et extinctor pestiferae tyrannidis. Magnentius had been described as liberator orbis form &c. Cod. Theod. 15, 14, 5, and 9, 38, 2, annul all the acts of the tyrant.
Constantius sole Emperor—Elevation and Death of Gallus—Danger and Elevation of Julian–Sarmalian and Persian Wars— Pictories of Julian in Gaul
THE divided provinces of the empire were again united by the to the victory of Constantius; but, as that feeble prince was destitute eunuchs of personal merit, either in peace or war; as he feared his generals and distrusted his ministers; the triumph of his arms served only to establish the reign of the eunuchs over the Roman world. Those unhappy beings, the ancient production of oriental jealousy and despotism," were introduced into Greece and Rome by the contagion of Asiatic luxury.” Their progress was rapid ; and the eunuchs, who, in the time of Augustus, had been abhorred, as the monstrous retinue of an Egyptian queen,” were gradually admitted into the families of matrons, of senators, and of the emperors themselves.” Restrained by the severe edicts of Domitian and Nerva,” cherished by the pride
1 Ammianus (l. xiv. c. 6) imputes the first practice of castration to the cruel ingenuity of Semiramis, who was supposed to have reigned above nineteen hundred ears before Christ. The use of eunuchs is of high antiquity, both in Asia and gypt. They are mentioned in the law of Moses, Deuteron. xxiii. 1. See Goguet, Origines des Loix, &c. part i. l. i. c. 3. 2 Eunuchum dixtivelle te; Quia solae utuntur his reginae –— Terent. Eunuch. Act 1. scene 2. This play is translated from Menander, and the original must have appeared soon after the eastern conquests of Alexander. 3Miles . . . spadonibus Servire rugosis potest. Horat. Carm. v. 9 [Epode 91, and Dacier ad loc. By the word spado the Romans very forcibly expressed their abhorrence of this mutilated condition. The Greek appellation of eunuchs, which insensibly prevailed, had a milder sound and a more ambiguous sense. * We need only mention Posides, a freedman and eunuch of Claudius, in whose favour the emperor prostituted some of the most honourable rewards of military valour. See Sueton. in Claudio, c. 28. Posides employed a great part of his wealth in building. Ut spado vincebat Capitolia nostra Posides. uvenal. Sat. xiv. . o: * Castrari mares vetuit. Sueton, in Domitian. c. 7. Dion Cassius, l. lxvii. p. 11oz. ; l. lxviii. p. 1119 .