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XVIII.

Oct. 1.

could suggest. Under such painful circumstances, the CHAP. 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 resentment. An edict A. D. 325. 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 bis 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 empire12.

The informers, who complied with so liberal an in- Disgrace vitation, were sufficiently versed in the arts of courts to select the friends and adherents of Crispus as the A. D. $26. guilty persons ; nor is there any reason to distrust the July. 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 lie began to consider as his most irreconcileable eneniy. Medals were struck with the customary vows for the long and auspicious reign of the young Cæsar'3; and as the people, who were not admitted into the secrets of the palace, still loved his virtues and respected his dignity, a poet who solicits his recal from exile, adores with equal devotion the majesty of the father and that of the son'. The time was now arrived for

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· 12 Cod. Theod. 1. ix. tit. iv. Godefroy suspected the secret motives of
this law. Comment. tom. iii. p. 9.

13 Ducange Fam. Byzant. p. 28. Tillemont, tom. iv. p. 610.
14 His name was Porphyrius Optatianus. The date of his Panegyric,

1

CHAP. celebrating the august ceremony of the twentieth year
XVIII.

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, af-
fected 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
murders. 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 as-
suming the equity of a judge. The examination was
short and privatel“; 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 Pola, 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"?. The Cæsar
Licinius, a youth of amiable manners, was involved
in the ruin of Crispuss; and the stern jealousy of
Constantine was unmoved by the prayers and tears of
his favourite sister, pleading for the life of a son ;

written according to the taste of the age in vile acrostics, is settled br Scaliger ad Euseb. p. 250. Tillemont, tom. iv. p. 607. and Fabricius Biblioth. Latin. I. iv. c. 1.

15 Zosimus, I. ii. p. 103. Godefroy Chronol. Legum, p. 28.

16 Axgetws, without a trial, is the strong, and most probably the just er. pression of Suidas. The elder Victor, who wrote under the next reign, speaks with becoming caution. “Natû grandior incertum quâ causà, pa. tris judicio occidisset.” If we consult the succeeding writers, Eutropius, the younger Victor, Orosius, Jerom, Zosimus, Philostorgius, and Gregory of Tours : their knowledge will appear gradually to increase, as their means of information must have diminished : & circumstance which fre. quently occurs in historical disquisition.

17 Ammianus (l. xiv. c. 11.) uses the general expression of peremptum. Codinus (p. 34.) beheads the young prince; but Sidonius Apollinaris (Epistol. v. 8.), for the sake perhaps of an antithesis to Fausta's war bath, chuses to administer a draught of cold poison.

18 Sororis filium, commodæ indolis juvenem. Eutropius, X. 6. 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? See Ducange Fam. Byzant. p. 47, and the law (l. ix. tit. Xxxvii.) of the Theodosian Code, which has so much embarrassed the interpreters.-Godefroy, tom. iii. p. 267.

whose rank was his only crime, and whose loss she CHAP. did not long survive. The story of these unhappy,

XVII. 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 courtly bishop, who has celebrated in an elaborate work the virtues and piety of bis bero, observes a prudent silence on the subject of these tragic events. 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 the condemnation of a criminal, or at least of a degenerate sono.

The innocence of Crispus was so universally ac- The em. knowledged, that the modern Greeks, wbo adore the per

To Fausta. 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 false. hood of the accusation by which his credulity had been so fatally misled, he published to the world bis 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'. 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

press

19 See the life of Constantine, particularly l.ji. c. 19, 20. Two hundred and fifty years afterwards Evagrius (1. iii. c. 41.) deduced from the silence of Eusebius a vain argument against the reality of the fact.

20 Histoire de Pierre le Grand, par Voltaire, part ii. c. X.

21 In order to prove that the statue was erected by Constantine, and af. terwards concealed by the malice of the Arians, Codinus very readily creates (p. 34.) two witnesses, Hippolitus, and the younger Herodotus, to whose imaginary histories he appeals with unblusbing confidence. VOL. II.

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XVIII.

CHAP. is, that the repentance of Constantine was manifested

only in acts of blood and revenge; and that he atoned
för the murder of an innocent son, by the execution,
perhaps, of a guilty wise. They ascribe the misfor-
tunes of Crispus to the arts of his step-mother Fausta,
whose implacable hatred, or whose disappointed lore,
renewed in the palace of Constantine the ancient tra-
gedy of Ilippolitus and of Phadra22. Like the daugh-
ter of Minos, the daughter of Maximian accused her
son-in-law of an incestuous attempt on the chastity of
his father's wife; and easily obtained, from the jea-
lousy of the emperor, a sentence of death against a
young prince, whom she considered with reason as
the most formidable rival of her own children. But
IIelena, the aged mother of Constantine, lamented and
l'evenged the untimely fate of her grandson Crispus :
nor was it long before a real or pretended discovery
was made, that Fausta herself entertained a criminal
connection with a slave belonging to the Imperial sta-
bles23. Her condemnation and punishment were the
instant consequences of the charge ; and the adultress
was suffocated by the steam of a bath, which, for that
purpose, had been heated to an extraordinary degrees.
By some it will perhaps be thought, that the remem-
brance of a conjugal union of twenty years, and the ho-
nour of their common offspring, the destined heirs of
the throne, might have softened the obdurate heart of
Constantine; and persuaded him to suffer his wife, how-
ever guilty she might appear, to expiate her offences
in a solitary prison. But it seems a superfluous labour
to weigh the propriety, unless we could ascertain the
truth, of this singular event; which is attended with

22 Zosimus (l. ii. p. 103 ) inay he 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.

23 Philostorgius, 1. ij. c. 4. Zosimus (1. ii. p. 104, 116.) imputes to Constantine the death of two wives, of the innocent Fausta, and of an adultress who was the mother of his three successors. According to Jerom, three or four years elapsed between the death of Crispus and that of Fausta. The elder Victor is prudently silent.

24 If Fausta was put to death, it is reasonable to believe that the private apartments of the palace were the scene of her execution. The orator Chrysostoin indulges his fancy by exposing the naked empress on a desert mountain, to be devoured by wild beasts.

so me circumstances of doubt and perplexity. Those CHAP. who have attacked, and those who have dcfeniled, the XVII character of Constantine, have alike disregarded two very remarkable passages of two orations pronounced under the succeeding reign. The former celebrates the virtues, the beauty, and the fortune of the empress Fausta, the daughter, wife, sister, and mother of so mapy princess. The latter asserts, in explicit terms, that the mother of the younger Constantine, who was slain three years after his father's death, survived to weep over the fate of her son26. Notwithstanding the positive testimony of several writers of the Pagan as well as of the Christian religion, there may still remain some reason to believe, or at least to suspect, that Fausta escaped the blind and suspicious cruelty of her husband. The deaths of a son, and of a nephew, with the execution of a great number of respectable, and perhaps innocent friends27, who were involved in their fall, may be sufficient, however, to justify the discontent of the Roman people, and to explain the satirical verses affixed to the palace-gate, comparing the splendid and bloody reigns of Constantine and Nero28. By the death of Crispus, the inheritance of the em- The sons

to and nepire seemed to devolve on the three sons of Fausta, a

til, phews of who have been already mentioned under the names of ConstanConstantine, of Constantius, and of Constans. These tine. Do young princes were successively invested with the title of Cæsar; and the dates of their promotion may be referred to the tenth, the twentieth, and the thirtieth,

25 Julian. Orat. i. He seems to call her the mother of Crispus. She might assume that title by adoption. At least she was not considered as his mortal enemy. Julian compares the fortune of Fausta with that of Py rasatis, the Persian queen. A Roman would have more naturally recollected the second Agrippina :

Et moi, qui sur le trone ai suivi mes ancetres;

Moi, fille, femme, sæur et mere de vos maitres. 26 Monod. in Constantin. Jun. c. 4. ad Calcem Eutrop. cdit. Haver, camp. The orator styles her the most divine and pious of queens.

27 Interfecit numerosos amicos. Eutrop. xx. 6.
28 Saturni aurea sæcula quis requirat?
Sunt hæc gemmea, sed Neroniana.

Sidon. Apollinar. v. 8. It is somewhat singular, that these satirical lines should be attributed, not to an obscure libeller, or a disappointed patriot, but to Ablavius, prime mi. nister and favourite of the emperor. We may now perceive that the imprecations of the Roman people were dictated by humanity, as well as by superstition. Zosim. I. ii. p. 105.

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