for the first time, submitted to a female reign. No sooner had Pulcheria ascended the throne, than she indulged her own and the public resentment, by an act of popular justice, Without any legal trial, the eunuch Chrysaphius was exe. cuted before the gates of the city; and the immense riches which had been accumulated by the rapacious favorite, served only to hasten and to justify his punishment.” Amidst the general acclamations of the clergy and people, the empress did not forget the prejudice and disadvantage to which her sex was exposed; and she wisely resolved to prevent their murmurs by the choice of a colleague, who would always respect the superior rank and virgin chastity of his wife. She gave her hand to Marcian, a senator, about sixty years of age; and the nominal husband of Pulcheria was solemnly invested with the Imperial purple. The zeal which he displayed for the orthodox creed, as it was established by the council of Chalcedon, would alone have inspired the grateful eloquence of the Catholics. But the behavior of Marcian in a private life, and afterwards on the throne, may support a more rational belief, that he was qualified to restore and invigorate an empire, which had been almost dissolved by the successive weakness of two hereditary monarchs. He was born in Thrace, and educated to the profession of arms; but Marcian's youth had been severely exercised by poverty and misfortune, since his only resource, when he first arrived at Constantinople, consisted in two hundred pieces of gold, which he had borrowed of a friend. He passed nineteen years in the domestic and military service of Aspar, and his son Ardaburius; followed those powerful generals to the Persian and African wars; and obtained, by their influence, the honorable rank of tribune and senator. His mild disposition, and useful talents, without alarming the jealousy, recommended Marcian to the esteem and favor of his patrons; he had seen, perhaps he had felt, the abuses of a venal and oppressive administration; and his own example gave weight and energy to the laws, which he promulgated for the reformation of manners.” o

* Pulcheria, nuts (ays Count Marcellinus) suá cum avaritiá interemptus est. She abandoned the eunuch to the pious revenge of a son, whose father had suffered at his instigation.*

* Procopius, de Bell. Vandal. l. i. c. 4. Evagrius, 1. ii. c. 1. Theophanes, pp. 90, 91. Novell. ad Calçem. Cod. Theod. tom. vi. p. 30. The praises which St. keo and the Catholics have bestowed on Marcian, are diligently transcribed by Baronius, as an encouragement for future princes.

* Might not the execution of Chrysaphius have been a sacrifice to avert the anger of Attila, whose assassination the eunuch had attempted to contrive?—M.



IT was the opinion of Marcian, that war should be avoided, as long as it is possible to preserve a secure and honorable peace; but it was likewise his opinion, that peace cannot be honorable or secure, if the sovereign betrays a pusillanimous aversion to war. This temperate courage dictated his reply to the demands of Attila, who insolently pressed the payment of the annual tribute. The emperor signified to the Barbarians, that they must no longer insult the majesty of Rome by the mention of a tribute; that he was disposed to reward, with becoming liberality, the faithful friendship of his allies; but that, if they presumed to violate the public peace, they should feel that he possessed troops, and arms, and resolution, to repel their attacks. The same language, even in the camp of the IHuns, was used by his ambassador Apollonius, whose bold refusal to deliver the presents, till he had been admitted to a personal interview, displayed a sense of dignity, and a contempt of danger, which Attila was not prepared to expect from the degenerate Romans." He threatened to chastise the rash successor of Theodosius; but he hesitated whether he should first direct his invincible arms against the Eastern or the Western empire. While mankind awaited his decision with awful suspense, he sent an equal defiance to the courts of Ravenna and Constantinople; and his ministers saluted the two emperors with the same haughty declaration. “Attila, my lord, and thy lord, commands thee to provide a palace for his immediate reception.”” But as the Barbarian despised, or affected to despise, the Romans of the East, whom he had so often vanquished, he soon declared his resolution of suspending the easy conquest, till he had achieved a more glorious and important enterprise. In the memorable invasions of Gaul and Italy, the Huns were naturally attracted by the wealth and fertility of those provinces; but the particular motives and provocations of Attila can only be explained by the state of the Western empire under the reign of Valentinian, or, to speak more correctly, under the administration of Aëtius.” After the death of his rival Boniface, Aëtius had prudently retired to the tents of the Huns; and he was indebted to their alliance for his safety and his restoration. Instead of the suppliant language of a guilty exile, he solicited his pardon at the head of sixty thousand Barbarians; and the empress Placidia confessed, by a feeble resistance, that the condescension, which might have been ascribed to clemency, was the effect of weakness or fear. She delivered herself, her son Valentinian, and the Western empire, into the hands of an insolent subject; nor could Placidia protect the son-in-law of Boniface, the virtuous and faithful Sebastian,” from the implacable persecution, which urged him from one kingdom to another, till he miserably perished in the service of the Vandals. The fortunate Aëtius, who was immediately promoted to the rank of patrician, and thrice invested with the honors of the consulship, assumed, with the title of master of the cavalry and infantry, the whole military power of the state; and he is sometimes styled, by contemporary writers, the duke, or general, of the Romans of the West. His prudence, rather than his virtue, engaged him to leave the grandson of Theodosius in the possession of the purple; and Valentinian was permitted to enjoy the peace and luxury of Italy, while the patrician appeared in the glorious light of a hero and a patriot, who supported near twenty years the ruins of the Western empire. The Gothic historian ingenuously confesses, that Aëtius was born for the salvation of the Roman republic;" and the solIowing portrait, though it is drawn in the fairest colors, must be allowed to contain a much larger proportion of truth than of flattery.* “His mother was a wealthy and noble Italian, and his father Gaudentius, who held a distinguished rank in the province of Scythia, gradually rose from the station of a military domestic, to the dignity of master of the cavalry. Their son, who was enrolled almost in his infancy in the guards, was given as a hostage, first to Alaric, and afterwards to the Huns; f and he successively obtained the civil and military honors of the palace, for which he was equally qualified by superior merit. The graceful figure of Aëtius was not above the middle stature; but his manly limbs were admirably formed for strength, beauty, and agility; and he excelled in the martial exercises of managing a horse, drawing the bow, and darting the javelin. IIe could patiently endure the want of food, or of sleep; and his mind and body were alike capable of the most laborious efforts. He possessed the genuine courage that can despise not only dangers, but injuries: and it was impossible either to corrupt, or deceive, or intimidate the firm integrity of his soul.”" The Barbarians, who had seated themselves in the Western provinces, were insen, sibly taught to respect the faith and valor of the patrician Aëtius. He soothed their passions, consulted their prejudices, balanced their interests, and checked their ambition.* A seasonable treaty, which he concluded with Genseric, protected Italy from the depredations of the Vandals; the independent Britons implored and acknowledged his salu. tary aid; the Imperial authority was restored and maintained in Gaul and Spain; and he compelled the Franks and the Suevi, whom he had vanquished in the field, to become the useful confederates of the republic. From a principle of interest, as well as gratitude, Aëtius assiduously cultivated the alliance of the Huns. While he resided in their tents as a hostage, or an exile, he had familiarly conversed with Attila himself, the nephew of his benefactor; and the two famous antagonists appear to have been connected by a personal and military friendship, which they afterwards confirmed by mutual gifts, frequent embassies, and the education of Carpilio, the son of Aëtius, in the camp of Attila. By the specious professions of gratitude and voluntary attachment, the patrician might disguise his apprehensions of the Scythian conqueror, who pressed the two empires with his innumerable armies. His demands were obeyed or eluded. When he claimed the spoils of a vanquished city, some vases of gold, which had been fraudulently embezzled, the civil and military governors of Noricum were immediately despatched to satisfy his complaints:" and it is evident, from their conversation with Maximin and Priscus, in the royal village, that the valor and prudence of

*See Priscus, pp. 39, 72.

2 The Alexandrian or Paschal Chronicle, which introduces this haughty mes

e, during the lifetime of Theodosius, may have anticipated the date; but the dull anual's', was incapable of inventing the original and genuine style of Attilä3 The second book of the Histoire Critique de l’Etablissement de la Monarchie Françoise, tom. i. pp. 18–424, throws great light on the state of Gaul, when \t was invaded by Attila ; but the ingenious author, and Abbé Dubos, too ofte it bewilders himself in system and conjecture.

4 Victor Witensis (de Persecut. Vandal. 1. i. 6, p. 8, edit. Ruinarls calls him, acer consilio et strenuus in bello; but his courage, when he became unfortunate, was censured as desperate rashness; and Selastian deserved, or ob'aimed, the epithet of praeceps (Sidon, Apollinar. Carmen ix. 181.) His adventul es in Constantinople, in Sicily, Gaul, Spain, and Africa, are faintly marked in the Chronicies of Marcelinus and idatius. "in his distress, he was always followed by a numérous train ; since he could ravage the Hellespont and Propontis, and seize the city of Barcelona.

5 Reipublica Itomanæ singulariter natus, qui superbiam Suevorum, Francorumque barbariem immensis caedibus servire Imperio Romano coegisseu. Jormandes de Rebus Geticis, c. 34, p. 660. * Some valuable fragments of a poetical panegyric on Aëtius by Merobaudes, a Spaniard, have been recovered from a palimpsest MS. by the sagacity and industry of Niebuhr. They have been reprinted in the new edition of Byzantine His: to:ians. The poet, speaks in glowing, terms of the long (annosa) peace enjoyed under the administration of Aëtius. The verses are very spirited. The poet was rewarded by a statue publicly dedicated to his honor in Rome.

I)anuvii cum pace redit, Tanaimaue furore
Exuit, et nigro candentes aethere terras
Marte suo caruisse jubet. I) edit otia ferro
Caucasus, et s evi condemnant praelia reges.
Addidit liberni fannulantia foedera Ikhemus
Orbis # # # # #
Lustrat Aremoricos jam mitior incola saltus;
Perdidit et mores tellus, adsuetaque saevo
Crimine quaesitas silvis celare rapinas,
JDiscit inexpertis Cererem committere campis;
Caesareoque diu manus obluctata labori
Sustinet acceptas nostro sub consule leges;
Et quamvis Geticis sulcum confundat aratris,
Barbara vicinae refugit consortia gentis.
Merobaudes, p. 11.-M,

—cum Scythicis succumberet ensibus orbis,
Telaque Tarpeias premierent Arctoa secures,
Hostilem fregit rabiem, pignusque superbi
Foederis et mundi pretium fuit. Hinc modo voti
Rata fides, validis quod dux premat impiger armis
Edom uit quos pace puer; bellumque repressit
Ignarus quid bella forent. Stupuere feroces
In tenero jam membra Getae. Rex ipse, verendum
Miratus pueri decus et prodentia fatum
Aumina, primaevas dederat gestare faretras,
audabatdue manus librantem et tela gerentem
Qblitus quod noster erat. Pro nescia regis
Corda, feris quanto populis discrimine constet
Quod Latium docet arma ducern.
Merobaudes, Panegyr. p. 15.-M.

* This portrait is drawn by Renatus Profuturus Frigeridus, a contemporary historian, known, only by some extracts, which are preserved by Gregory of Tours (l. ii. c. 8, in tom. ii. p. 163). It was probably the duty, or at least the interest, of Renatus, to magnify the virtues of Aëtius; but he would have shown more dexterity if he had not insisted on his patient, forgiving disposition.

7 The embassy consisted of Count Romulus; of Promotus, president of Noricum ; and of Romanus, the military duke. They were accompanied by Tatullus, an illustrious citizen of Petovio, in the same provingo, and father of Orestes, who had married the daughter of Count Romulus. See Priscus, pp. 57, 65. Cassiodorus (Variar. i. 4), mentions another embassy, which was executed by his father and Carpilio, the son of Aëtius; and, as Attila was no more, he could Bafely boast of their manly, intrepid behavior in his presence.

* Insessor Libyes...quamvis, fatalibus armis
Ausus Elisaei solium rescindere regni,
Milibus Arctois Tyrias compleverat arces,
Nunc hostem exutus pactis proprioribus arsit
Romanam vincire fidem, Latiosque parentes
Adnumerare sibi, sociamque intexere prolem.
Merobaudes, p. 12.-M.

« ForrigeFortsett »