Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Julian was not insensible of the advantages of freedom.” From his studies he had imbibed the spirit of ancient sages and heroes; his life and fortunes had depended on the caprice of a tyrant; and, when he ascended the throne, his pride was sometimes mortified by the reflection that the slaves who would not dare to censure his defects were not worthy to applaud his virtues.” He sincerely abhorred the system of Oriental des. potism which Diocletian, Constantine, and the patient habits of fourscore years had established in the empire. A motive of superstition prevented the execution of the design which Julian had frequently meditated, of relieving his head from the weight of a costly diadem:74 but he absolutely refused the title of Dominus or Lord,” a word which was grown so familiar to the ears of the Romans that they no longer remembered its servile and humiliating origin. The office, or rather the name, of consul, was cherished by a prince who contemplated with reverence the ruins of the republic; and the same behaviour which had been assumed by the prudence of Augustus was adopted by Julian from choice and inclination. On the calends of January, at break of day, the new consuls, Mamertinus and Nevitta, hastened to the palace to salute the emperor. As soon as he was informed of their approach, he leaped from his throne, eagerly advanced to meet them, and compelled the blushing magistrates to receive the demonstrations of his affected humility. From the palace they proceeded to the senate. The emperor, on foot, marched before their litters; and the gazing multitude admired the image of ancient times, or secretly blamed a conduct which, in their eyes, degraded

His love of
freedom and
the republic

A.D. 363,
January 1

life at Antioch, are described by Ammianus (xxii. 9, 1o, and Vales. ad loc.), and
Libanius (Orat. Parent. c. 99, p. 323).
7* According to some, says Aristotle (as he is quoted by Julian ad Themist. p.
261 sp. 338, ed. H.]), the form of absolute government, the rausagiaeta, is contrary
to nature. [Politics, iii. 16, 2 = 1287a.] Both the prince and the philosopher
choose, however, to involve this eternal truth in artful and laboured obscurity.
*That sentiment is expressed almost in the words of Julian himself. Ammian.
xxii. Io.
* Libanius (Orat. Parent. c. 95, p. 320), who mentions the wish and design
of Julian, insinuates, in mysterious language (Beàr otore Yvévrew . . . dAA ov dueiror
* **Aver), that the emperor was restrained by some particular revelation.
* Julian in Misopogon. p. 343 (p. 442, ed. H.l. As he never abolished, by any
public law, the proud appellations of Despot or Dominus, they are still extant on
his medals (Ducange, Fam. Byzantin. p. 38, 39); and the private displeasure
which he affected to express only gave a different tone to the servility of the
court. The Abbé de la Bléterie (Hist. de Jovien, tom. ii. p. 99-102) has curiously
traced the origin and progress of the word Dominas under the Imperial
government.

the majesty of the purple.” But the behaviour of Julian was uniformly supported. During the games of the Circus, he had, imprudently or designedly, performed the manumission of a slave in the presence of the consul. The moment he was reminded that he had trespassed on the jurisdiction of another magistrate, he condemned himself to pay a fine of ten pounds of gold; and embraced this public occasion of declaring to the world that he was subject, like the rest of his fellow-citizens, to the laws,” and even to the forms, of the republic. The spirit of his administration, and his regard for the place of his nativity, induced Julian to confer on the senate of Constantinople, the same honours, privileges, and authority, which were still enjoyed by the senate of ancient Rome.” A legal fiction was introduced, and gradually established, that one half of the national council had migrated into the East: and the despotic successors of Julian, accepting the title of Senators, acknowledged themselves the members of a respectable body, which was permitted to represent the majesty of the Roman name. From Constantinople, the attention of the monarch was extended to the municipal senates of the provinces. He abolished, by repeated edicts, the unjust and pernicious exemptions which had withdrawn so many idle citizens from the service of their country; and by imposing an equal distribution of public duties he restored the strength, the splendour, or, according to the glowing expression of Libanius,” the soul of the expiring cities •f his empire. The venerable age of Greece excited the most #: tender compassion in the mind of Julian; which kindled into it." rapture when he recollected the gods, the heroes, and the men,

7° Ammian. xxii. 7. The consul Mamertinus o Panegyr. Vet. xi. 28, 29, 30) celebrates the auspicious day, like an eloquent slave, astonished and intoxicated by the condescension of his master.

77 Personal satire was condemned by the laws of the twelve tables:

Si male condiderit in quem quis carmina, jus est
Judiciumque

Julian (in Misopogon. p. 337 sad init.])ownshimself subject to the law; and the Abbé de la Bléterie (Hist. de Jovien, tom. ii. p. 92) has eagerly embraced a declaration so agreeable to his own system, and indeed to the true spirit of the imperial constitution.

7° Zosimus, l. iii. p. 158.

*H is Bovais iovs wox" rosés oriv, See Libanius (Orat. Parent. c. 71, p. 296), Ammianus (xxii. 9), and the Theodosian Code (l. xii. tit. i. leg. 50-55), with Godefroy's Commentary (tom. iv. p. 390-402). Yet the whole subject of the Curiae, notwithstanding very ample materials, still remains the most obscure in the legal history of the empire.

superior to heroes and to gods, who had bequeathed to the latest posterity the monuments of their genius or the example of their virtues. He relieved the distress, and restored the beauty, of the cities of Epirus and Peloponnesus.* Athens acknowledged him for her benefactor; Argos, for her deliverer. The pride of Corinth, again rising from her ruins with the honours of a Roman colony, exacted a tribute from the adjacent republics, for the purpose of defraying the games of the Isthmus, which were celebrated in the amphitheatre with the hunting of bears and panthers. From this tribute the cities of Elis, of Delphi, and of Argos, which had inherited from their remote ancestors the sacred office of perpetuating the Olympic, the Pythian, and the Nemean games, claimed a just exemption. The immunity of Elis and Delphi was respected by the Corinthians; but the poverty of Argos tempted the insolence of oppression; and the feeble complaints of its deputies were silenced by the decree of a provincial magistrate, who seems to have consulted only the interest of the capital in which he resided. Seven years after this sentence, Julian *, allowed the cause to be referred to a superior tribunal; and his eloquence was interposed, most probably with success, in the defence of a city which had been the royal seat of Agamemnon * and had given to Macedonia a race of kings and conquerors.”

Julian, an The laborious administration of military and civil affairs,

j...' * * which were multiplied in proportion to the extent of the empire, exercised the abilities of Julian; but he frequently assumed the two characters of Orator” and of Judge,85 which are almost unknown to the modern sovereigns of Europe. The arts of persuasion, so diligently cultivated by the first Caesars, were neglected by the military ignorance, and Asiatic pride, of their successors; and, if they condescended to harangue the soldiers, whom they feared, they treated with silent disdain the senators, whom they despised. The assemblies of the senate, which Constantius had avoided, were considered by Julian as the place where he could exhibit, with the most propriety, the maxims of a republican and the talents of a rhetorician. He alternately practised, as in a school of declamation, the several modes of praise, of censure, of exhortation; and his friend Libanius has remarked that the study of Homer taught him to imitate the simple, concise style of Menelaus, the copiousness of Nestor, whose words descended like the flakes of a winter's snow, or the pathetic and forcible eloquence of Ulysses. The functions of a judge, which are sometimes incompatible with those of a prince, were exercised by Julian, not only as a duty, but as an amusement: and, although he might have trusted the mtegrity and discernment of his Praetorian praefects, he often placed himself by their side on the seat of judgment. The acute penetration of his mind was agreeably occupied in detecting and defeating the chicanery of the advocates, who laboured to disguise the truth of facts and to pervert the sense of the laws. He sometimes forgot the gravity of his station, asked indiscreet or unseasonable questions, and betrayed, by the loudness of his voice and the agitation of his body, the earnest vehemence with which he maintained his opinion against the judges, the advocates, and their clients. But his knowledge of his own temper prompted him to encourage, and even to solicit, the reproof of his friends and ministers; and, whenever they ventured to oppose the irregular sallies of his passions, the spectators could observe the shame, as well as the gratitude, of their monarch. The decrees of Julian were almost always founded on the principles of justice; and he had the firmness to resist the two most dangerous temptations which assault the tribunal of a sovereign under the specious forms of compassion and equity. He decided the merits of the cause without weighing the circumstances of the parties; and the poor, whom he wished to relieve, were condemned to satisfy the just demands of a noble and wealthy adversary. He carefully distinguished the judge from the legislator;% and, though he meditated a necessary reformation of the Roman jurisprudence, he pronounced sentence according to the strict and literal interpretation of those laws which the magistrates were bound to execute and the subjects to obey. his character The generality of princes, if they were stripped of their purple and cast naked into the world, would immediately sink to the lowest rank of society, without a hope of emerging from their obscurity. But the personal merit of Julian was, in some measure, independent of his fortune. Whatever had been his choice of life, by the force of intrepid courage, lively wit, and intense application, he would have obtained, or at least he would have deserved, the highest honours of his profession ; and Julian might have raised himself to the rank of minister, or general, of the state in which he was born a private citizen. If the jealous caprice of power had disappointed his expectations; if he had prudently declined the paths of greatness, the employment of the same talents in studious solitude would have placed, beyond the reach of kings, his present happiness and his immortal fame. When we inspect, with minute or perhaps malevolent attention, the portrait of Julian, something seems wanting to the grace and perfection of the whole figure. His genius was less powerful and sublime than that of Caesar; nor did he possess the consummate prudence of Augustus. The virtues of Trajan appear more steady and natural, and the philosophy of Marcus is more simple and consistent. Yet Julian sustained adversity with firmness, and prosperity with moderation. After an interval of one hundred and twenty years from the death of Alexander Severus, the Romans beheld

* Quae paulo ante arida et siti anhelantia visebantur, ea nunc perlui, mundari, madere; Fora, Deambulacra, Gymnasia, lastis et gaudentibus populis frequentari; dies festos, et celebrari veteres, et novos in honorem principis consecrari (Mamertin. xi. 9). He particularly restored the city of Nicopolis, and the Actiac games, which had been instituted by Augustus.

* Julian, Epist. xxxv, p. 407-411. This epistle, which illustrates the declining age of Greece, is omitted by the Abbé de la Bléterie; and strangely disfigured by the Latin translator, who, by rendering driaeva, tributum, and iówarat, populus, directly contradicts the sense of the original.

82 He reigned in Mycenae, at the distance of fifty stadia, or six miles, from Argos: but these cities, which alternately flourished, are confounded by the Greek poets. Strabo, l. viii. p. 579, edit. Amstel. p. 1707.

83 Marsham, Canon. Chron. p. 421. This pedigree from Temenus and Hercules may be suspicious; yet it was allowed, after a strict inquiry by the judges of the Olympic games (Herodot. l. v. c. 22), at a time when the Macedonian kings were obscure and unpopular in Greece. When the Achaean league declared against Philip, it was thought decent that the deputies of Argos should retire (T. Liv. xxxii. 22).

*His eloquence is celebrated by Libanius (Orat. Parent. c. 75, 76, p. 3oo, 301), who distinctly mentions the orators of Homer. Socrates (l. iii. c. 1) has rashly asserted that Julian was the only prince, since Julius Caesar, who harangued the senate. All the predecessors of Nero (Tacit. Annal. xiii. 3), and many of his successors, possessed the faculty of speaking in public; and it might be proved, by various examples, that they frequently exercised it in the senate.

85 Ammianus (xxii. 10) has impartially stated the merits and defects of his judicial proceedings. Libanius (Orat. Parent. c. 9o, 91, p. 315, &c.) has seen only the fair side, and his picture, if it flatters the person, expresses at least the duties, of the Judge. Gregory Nazianzen (Orat. iv. p. 120), who suppresses the virtues, and exaggerates even the venial faults, of the apostate, triumphantly asks, Whether such a judge was fit to be seated between Minos and Rhadamanthus, in the Elysian fields?

*Of the laws which Julian enacted in a reign of sixteen months, fifty-four have been admitted into the Codes of Theodosius and Justinian (Gothofred. Chron. Legum, p. 64-67). The Abbé de la Bléterie (tom. ii. p. 329-336), has chosen one of these laws to give an idea of Julian's Latin style, which is forcible and elaborate, but less pure than his Greek.

« ForrigeFortsett »