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CHAP. subjects have no longer any thing to hope from his fa. XVIII.
vour, or to dread from his resentment. The same ministers and generals who bowed with such reverential awe before the inanimate corpse of their deceased sove. reign, were engaged in secret consultations to exclude his two nephews, Dalmatius and Hannibalianus, from the share which he had assigned them in the succes sion of the empire. We are too imperfectly acquainted with the court of Constantine to form any judgment of the real motives which influenced the leaders of the conspiracy ; unless we should suppose that they were actuated by a spirit of jealousy and revenge against the præfect Ablavius, a proud favourite, who had long directed the counsels and abused'the confidence of the late emperor. The arguments by which they solicited the concurrence of the soldiers and people, are of a more obvious nature; and they might with decency, as well as truth, insist on the superior rank of the chil. dren of Constantine, the danger of multiplying the number of sovereigns, and the impending mischiefs which threatened the republic, from the discord of so many rival princes, who were not connected by the tender sympathy of fraternal affection. The intrigue was conducted with zeal and secrecy, till a load and unanimous declaration was procured from the troops, that they would suffer none except the sons of their lamented monarchi, to reign over the Roman empire“. The younger Dalmatius, who was united with bis col. lateral relations by the ties of friendship and interest, is allowed to have inherited a considerable share of the abilities of the great Constantine: but, on this occasion, he does not appear to have concerted any measures for supporting, by arms, the just claims which himself and his royal brother derived from the liberality of their uncle. Astonished and overwhelmed by the tide of popular fury, they seem to have remained without the power of flight or of resistance, in the hands of their implacable enemies. Their fate was suspended
48 Eusebius (1; iv. c. 6.) terminates his narrative by this loyal declars. tion of the troops, and avoids all the invidious circumstances of the subsequent massacre.
till the arrival of Constantius, the second“, and per. CHAP.
XVIII. haps the most favoured, of the sons of Constantine.
The voice of the dying emperor had recommended Masse the care of his funeral to the piety of Constantius; and of the that prince, by the vicinity of bis eastern station, could princes. easily prevent the diligence of his brothers, who resided in their distant government of Italy and Gaul. As soon as he had taken possession of the palace of Constantinople, his first care was to remove the apprehensions of his kinsmen by a solemn oath, which he pledg
ed for their security. His next cmployment was to , find some specious pretence which might release his
conscience from the obligation of an imprudent promise. The arts of fraud were made subservient to the designs of cruelty; and a manifest forgery was attested by a person of the most sacred character. From the hands of the bishop of Nicomedia, Constantius received a fatal scroll, affirmed to be the genuine testament of his father; in which the emperor expressed his suspicions that he had been poisoned by his brothers; and conjured his suns to revenge his death, and to consult their own safety by the punishment of the guilty50. Whatever reasons might have been alleged by these unfortunate princes to defend their life and honour against so incredible an accusation, they were silenced by the furious clamours of the soldiers, who declared themselves, at once, their enemies, their judges, and their executioners. The spirit, and even the forms of legal proceedings were repeatedly violated in a promiscuous massacre ; which involved the two uncles of Constantius, seven of his cousins, of whom Dalmatius and Hannibalianus were the most illustrious, the Patrician Optatus, who had married a sis
49 The character of Dalmatius is advantageously, though concisely drawn by Eutropius (x. 9). Dalmatius Cæsar prosperrimâ indole, neque patruo absimilis, haud multo post, oppressus est factione militari. As both Jerom and the Alexandrian Chronicle mention the third year of the Cæsar, which did not commence till thc 18th or 24th of September, A. D. 337, it is certain that these military factions continued above four months.
50 I have related this singular anecdote on the authority of Philostorgius, I. ü. c. 16. But if such a pretext was ever used by Constantius and his adherents, it was laid aside with contempt, as soon as it had served their immediate purpose. Athanasius (tom. i. p. 856.) mentions the oath which Constantius had taken for the security of his kinsmen.
anche prejudicoolicy of
CHAP. ter of the late emperor, and the Præfect Ablarias, XVIII.
whose power and riches had inspired him with some hopes of obtaining the purple. If it were necessary to aggravate the horrors of this bloody scene, we might add, that Constantius himself had espoused the daughter of his uncle Julius, and that he had bestowed his sister in marriage on his cousin Hannibalianus. These alliances, which the policy of Constantine, regardless of the public prejudices, had formed between the several branches of the Imperial house, served only to convince mankind, that these princes were as cold to the endearments of conjugal affection, as they were insensible to the ties of consanguinity, and the moving entreaties of youth and innocence. Of so numerous & family, Gallus and Julian alone, the two youngest children of Julius Constantius, were saved from the hands of the assassins, till their rage, satiated with slaughter, had in some measure subsided. The emperor Constantius, who, in the absence of his brothers, was the most obnoxious to guilt and reproach, discor. ered, on some future occasions, a faint and transient remorse for those cruelties which the perfidious counsels of his ministers, and the irresistible violence of the
troops, had extorted from bis unexperienced youths, Division of The massacre of the Flavian race was succeeded by
em- a new division of the provinces; which was ratified in pire. A. D. 337. , Sept. 11.
51 Conjugia sobrinarum diu ignorata, tempore addito percrebusse. T. cit. Annal. xii. 6. and Lipsius ad loc. The repeal of ihe ancient law, and the practice of five hundred years, were insufficient to eradicate the prejudices of the Romans; who still considered the marriage of cousins-ger. man, as a species of imperfect incest (Augustin de Civitate Dei, 18.6.); and Julian, whose mind was biassed by superstition and resentment, stig. matises these unnatural alliances between his own cousins with the opprobrious epithet of 20 uur te ou ga year (Orat, vii. p. 228). The jurisprudence of the canons has since revived and enforced this probibition without being able to introduce it either into the civil or the common law of Europe. See on the subject of these marriages, Taylor's Civil Law, p. 331. Brouer de Jure Connub. l. ii. c. 12. Hericourt des Loix Ecclesiastiques, part ii. 6.5. Fleury Institutions du Droit Canonique, tom. i. p. 331. Paris, 1767, and Fra-Paolo Istoria del Concilio Trident. I. viii.
52 Julian (ad S. P. Q. Athen. p. 270.) charges his cousin Constantius with the whole guilt of a massacre, from which he himself so narrowly escaped. His assertion is confirmed by Athanasius, who, for reasons of a very different nature, was not less an enemy of Constantius (tom.i. p. 856). Zosimus joins in the same accusation. But the three abbreviators, Eutropius and the Victors, use very qualifying expressions; "sinente potius quam jubente ;” “incertum quo suasore;" " vi militum."
i personal interview of the three brothers. Constan. CHAP. 'tine, the eldest of the Cæsars, obtained with a certain.
XVIII. pre-eminence of rank, the possession of the new capital, which bore his own name and that of his father. Thrace, and the countries of the east, were allotted for the patrimony of Constantius; and Constans was acknowledged as the lawful sovereign of Italy, Africa, and the western Illyricum. The armies submitted to their hereditary right; and they condescended, after some delay, to accept from the Roman senate, the title of Augustus. When they first assumed the reins of government, the eldest of these princes was twentyone, the second twenty, and the third only seventeen, years of ages. .; While the martial nations of Europe followed the Sapor standards of his brothers, Constantius, at the head of king of
Persia. the effeminate troops of Asia, was left to sustain the A. D. 310. weight of the Persian war. At the decease of Constantine, the throne of the east was filled by Sapor, son of Hormouz, or Hormisdas, and grandson of Narses, who after the victory of Galerius, had humbly confessed the superiority of the Roman power. Al. though Sapor was in the thirtieth year of his long reign, he was still in the vigour of youth, as the date of his accession, by a very strange fatality, had preced. ed that of his birth. The wife of Hormouz remained pregnant at the time of her husband's death; and the uncertainty of the sex, as well as of the event, excited the ambitious hopes of the princes of the house of Sassan. The apprehensions of civil war were at length removed, by the positive assurance of the Magi, that the widow of Hormouz had conceived, and would safely produce a son. Obedient to the voice of superstition, the Persians prepared, without delay, the ceremony of his coronation. A royal bed, on which the queen lay in state was exhibited in the midst of the palace; the diadem was placed on the spot, which
eriorite thirtieth youth,
53 Eugeb. in Vit. Constantin, 1. iv, c. 69. Zosimus, I. ii, p. 117, Idat. in Chron. See two notes of Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. iv. p. 1086-1091. The reign of the eldest brother at Constantinople is noticed only in the Alexandrian Chronicle.
CHAP. might be supposed to conceal the future heir of ArtaxXVIII.
erxes, and the prostrate Satraps adored the majesty of their invisible and insensible sovereign54. If any credit can be given to this marvellous tale, which seems how. ever to be countenanced by the manners of the people, and by the extraordinary duration of his reign, we must admire not only the fortune, but the genius, of Sapor. In the soft sequestered education of a Persian baram, the royal yonth could discover the importance of exercising the vigour of his mind and body; and, by his personal merit, deserved a throne, on which he had been seated, while he was yet unconscious of the du. ties and temptations of absolute power. His minority was exposed to the almost inevitable calamities of domestic discord; his capital was surprised and plundered by Thair, a powerful king of Yemen, or Arabia ; and the majesty of the royal family was degraded by the captivity of a princess, the sister of the deceased kiug. But as soon as Sapor attained the age of man. hooil, the presumptuous Thair, his nation, and his country, fell beneath the first effort of the young warrior; who used his victory with so judicious a mixture of rigour and clemency, that he obtained from the fears and gratitude of the Arabs, the title of Dhoulac
naf, or protector of the nations. State of The ambition of the Persian, to whom his enemies Mesopota
de ascribe the virtues of a soldier and a statesman, was Armenia. animated by the desire of reveuging the disgrace of
his fathers, and of wresting from the hands of the Romans the five provinces beyond the Tigris. The mili. tary fame of Constantine, and the real or apparent strength of his government, suspended the attack; and while the hostile conduct of Sapor provoked the reseptment, his artful negotiations amused the patience of
54 Agathias, who lived in the sixth century, is the author of this story (l. iv. p. 135. edit. Louvre.) He derived his information from some extracts of the Persian Chronicles, obtained and translated by the interpreter Sergius, during his embassy at that court. The coronation of the mo. ther of Sapor is likewise mentioned by Schikard (Tarikh. p. 116.) and à' Herbelot (Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 763.)
55 D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 764.