« ForrigeFortsett »
The introduction of Barbarians into the Roman ar- CHAP. mies became every day more universal, more necessary, and more fatal. The most daring of the Scythians, of the Goths, and of the Germans, who delighted in of Barbawar, and who found it more profitable to defend than man
"liaries. to ravage the provinces, were enrolled, not only in the auxiliaries of their respective nations, but in the legions themselves, and among the most distinguished of the Palatine troops. As they freely mingled with the subjects of the empire, they gradually learned to despise their manners, and to imitate their arts. They abjured the implicit reverence which the pride of Rome had exacted from their ignorance, while they acquired the knowledge and possession of those advantages by which alone she supported her declining greatness. The Barbarian soldiers who displayed any military talents, were advanced, without exception, to the most important commands; and the names of the tribunes, of the counts and dukes, and of the generals themselves, betray a foreign origin, which they no longer condescended to disguise. They were often intrusted with the conduct of a war against their countrymen; and though most of them preferred the ties of alle. giance to those of blood, they did not always avoid the guilt, or at least the suspicion, of holding a treasonable correspondence with the enemy, of inviting his invasion, or of sparing his retreat. The camps, and the palace of the son of Constantine, were govern. ed by the powerful faction of the Franks, who pre. served the strictest connection with each other, and with their country, and who resented every personal affront as a national indignity14. When the tyrant Caligula was suspected of an intention to invest a very extraordinary candidate with the consular robes, the sacrilegious profanation would have scarcely excited
to denote a lazy and cowardly person, who, according to Arnobius and Augustin, was under the immediate proiection of the goddess Murcia. From this particular instance of cowardice, murcare is used synonimous to mutilare, by the writers of the iniddle Latinity. See Lindenbrogius, and Valesius ad Ammian). Marcellin. l. xv. c. 12.
140 Malarichus-adhibitis Francis quorum ea tempestate in palatio monliitudo florebat, erectius jam loquebatur tumultuabaturque, Ammian. 1. IV. c. 5. VOL, IL.
CHAP. less astonishment, if, instead of a horse, thc poblest XVII. chieftain of Germany or Britain had been the object of
his choice. The revolution of three centuries had produced so remarkable a change in the prejudices of the people, that, with the public approbation, Constantine shewed his successors the example of bestowing the honours of the consulship on the barbarians, who, by their merit and services, had deserved to be ranked among the first of the Romaus!“. But as thesc hardy veterans, who had been educated in the ignorance or contempt of the laws, were incapable of exercising any civil offices, the powers of the human mind were contracted by the irreconcileable separation of talents as well as of professions. The accomplished citizens of the Greek and Roman republics, whose characters could adapt themselves to the bar, the senate, the camp, or tlie schools, had learned to write, to speak, and to
act with the same spirit, and with equal abilities. Seren mi. IV. Besides the magistrates and generals, who at a the palace.
of distance from the court diffused their delegated autho
rity over the provinces and armies, the emperor conferred the rank of Illustrious on seven of his more immediate servants, to whose fidelity he entrusted his safety, or his counsels, or his treasures. 1. The private apartments of the palace were governed by a fa
vourite eunuch, who, in the language of that age, was Theclam-styled the propositus, or præfect of the sacred bed. berluin.
chamber. His duty was to attend the emperor in bis, hours of state, or in those of amusement, and to perform about his person all those menial services, which can only derive their splendor from the influence of royalty. Under a prince who deserved to reign, the great chamberlain (for such we may call him) was an useful and humble domestic; but an artful domestic, who improves every occasion of unguarded confidence, will insensibly acquire over a feeble mind that ascen
141 Barbaros omnium primus, ad usque fasces auxerat et trabeas corsclares. Ammian. 1. xx. c. 10. Eusebius in Vit. Constantin. I. iv. c. 7.) and Aurelius Victor seem to confirm the truth of this assertion ; yet in the thirty-two consular Fasti of the reign of Constantine, I cannot discover the nuine of a single Barbarian. I should therefore interpret the liberality of that prince, as relative to the ornaments, rather than to the office, of the consulship.
clant which harsh wisdom and uncomplying virtue can CHAP. seldom obtain. The degenerate grandsons of Theodo.. sius, who were invisible to their subjects, and contemptible to their enemies, exalted the præfects of their bedchamber above the heads of all the ministers of the palace!^2; and even his deputy, the first of the splendid train of slaves who waited in the presence, was thought worthy to rank before the respectable proconsuls of Greece or Asia. The jurisdiction of the chamberlain was acknowlcdged by the counts, or superintendents, who regulated the two important provinces, of the magnificence of the wardrobe, and of the luxury of the Imperial table143. 2. The principal administration of the mas, public affairs was committed to the diligence and abi- offices. lities of the master of the offices!44. He was the supreme magistrate of the palace, inspected the discipline of the civil and military schools, and received appeals from all parts of the empire, in the causes which related to that numerous army of privileged persons, who, as the servants of the court, had obtained for themselves and families, a right to decline the authority of the ordinary judges. The correspondence between the prince and his subjects was managed by the four scrinia, or offices of this minister of state. The first was appro. priated to memorials, the second to epistles, the third to petitions, and the fourth to papers and orders of a miscellaneous kind. Each of these was directed by an inferior master of respectable dignity, and the whole business was despatched by an hundred and forty-eight secretaries, chosen for the most part from the profes. sion of the law, ou account of the variety of abstracts
142 Cod. Theod. I. vi. tit. 8.
143 By a very singular metaphor, borrowed from the military character of the first einperors, the steward of their household was styled the count of their camp (comes castrensis). Cassiodorius very seriously repre. sents to him, that his own fame, and that of the empire, must depend on the opinion which foreign ambassadors may conceive of the plenty and magnificence of the royal table (Variar. I. vi. epistol. 9).
144. Gutherius (de Officiis Domûs Augustæ. 1. ii. c. 20. 1. ii.) has very accurately explained the functions of the master of the offices, and the constitution of his subordinate scrinia. But he vainly attempts, on the most doubtful authority, to deduce from the time of the Antonines, or even of Nero the origin of a magistrate who cannot be found in history before the reign of Constantine.
CHAP. of reports and references which frequently occurred in XVII.
the exercise of their several functions. From a con. descension, which in former ages would have been esteemed unworthy of the Roman majesty, a particular secretary was allowed for the Greek language; and in. terpreters were appointed to receive the ambassadors of the Barbarians : but the department of foreign affairs, which constitutes so essential a part of modern policy, seldom diverted the attention of the master of the offices. His mind was more seriously engaged by the general direction of the posts and arsenals of the empire. There were thirty-four cities, fifteen in the east, and nineteen in the west, in which regular companies of workmen were perpetually employed in fabricating defensive armour, offensive weapons of all sorts, and military en.
gines, which were deposited in the arsenals, and occaThe quæs-sionally delivered for the service of the troops. 3. In tor.
the course of pine centuries, the office of quæstor had experienced a very singular revolution. In the infancy of Rome, two inferior magistrates were anually elected by the people, to relieve the consuls from the invidious management of the public treasure'45; a similar assis. tant was granted to every proconsul, and to every prætor, who exercised a military or provincial command ; with the extent of conquest, the two quæstors were gra. dually multiplied to the number of four, of eight, of twenty, and, for a short time, perhaps, of forty!16; and the noblest citizens ambitiously solicited an office which gave them a seat in the senate, and a just hope of obtaining the honours of the republic. Wbilst Augustus affected to maintain the freedom of election, he consented to accept the annual privilege of re. coinmending, or rather indeed of nominating, a certain
145 Tacitus (Annal. xi. 22.) says, that the first quæstors were elected by the people, sixty-four years after the foundation of the republic; but he is of opinion, that they had, long before that period, been annually appoint. ed by the consuls, and even by the kings. But this obscure point of anti. quity is contested by other writers.
146 Tacitus (Annal. xi. 22.) seems to consider twenty as the highest number of quæstors; and Dion. (1. xliv. p. 374.) insinuates that if the Die. tator Cæsar once created forty, it was only to facilitate the payment of an immense debt of gratitude. Yet the augmentation which he made of prætors subsisted under the succeeding reigns.
i proportion of candidates; and it was his custom to se- CHAP.
lect one of these distinguished youths, to read his ora- tions or epistles in the assemblies of the senate!47. The
practice of Augustus was imitated by succeeding
princes; the occasional commission was established i as a permanent office, and the favoured quæstor, as
suming a new and more illustrious character, alone survived the suppression of his ancient and useless colleagues148. As the orations, which he composed in the name of the emperorl49, acquired the force, and, at length, the form of absolute edicts, he was considered as the representative of the legislative power, the oracle of the council, and the original source of the civil jurisprudence. He was sometimes invited to take his seat in the supreme judicature of the Imperial consistory, with the Prætorian præfects, and the master of the offices; and he was frequently requested to resolve the doubts of inferior judges : but as he was not oppressed with a variety of subordinate business, his leisure and talents were employed to cultivate that dignified style of eloquence, which, in the corruption of taste and language, still preserves the majesty of the Roman laws150. In some respects, the office of the
147 Sueton. in August. c. 65. and Torrent, ad, loc. Dion. Cas. p. 755.
148 The youth and inexperience of the quæstors, who entered on that important office in their twenty-fifth year (Lips. Excurs. ad Tacit. I. ii. D.) engaged Augustus to remove them from the management of the treasury; and though they were restored by Claudius, they seem to have been finally dismissed by Nero (Tacit. Annal. xxii. 29. Sueton, in Aug. c. 36. in Claud. c. 24. Dion, p. 696. 961, &c. Phin, Epistol. x. 20. & alibi.) In the provinces of the Imperial division, the place of the quæstors was more ably supplied by the procurators (Dion Cas. p. 707. Tacit, in Vit. Agricol. c. 15.); or, as they were afterwards called, rationales. (Hist. August. p. 130.) But in the provinces of the senate we may still discover a series of quæstors till the reign of Marcus Antoninus. (See the inscriptions of Gruter, the Epistles of Pliny, and a decisive fact in the Augustan history, p. 64. From Ulpian we may learn, (Pandect, 1. i. tit. 13.) that under the government of the house of Severus, their provincial administration was abolished : and in the subsequent troubles, the annual or triennial elections of quæstors must have naturally ceased.
149 Cum patris nomine & epistolas ipse dictaret, et edicta conscriberet, orationesque in senatu recitaret, etiam quæstoris vice. Sueton. in Tit. c. 6. The office must have acquired new dignity, which was occasionally executed by the heir apparent of the empire. Trajan entrusted the same care to Hadrian his quæstor and cousin. See Dodwell Prælection. Cambden. X. xi. p. 362-394. • 150
...... Terris edicta daturus; Supplicibus responsa-Oracula regis