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Visigoths in his cause, but of securing his person and treasures in the sanctuary of Julian, one of the tutelar saints of Auvergne.” Disease, or the hand of the executioner, arrested him on the road; yet his remains were decently transported to Brivas, or Brioude, in his native province, and he reposed at the feet of his holy patron.” Avitus left only one daughter, the wife of Sidonius Apollinaris, who inherited the patrimony of his father-in-law ; lamenting, at the same time, the disappointment of his public and private expectations. His resentment prompted him to join, or at least to countenance, the measures of a rebellious faction in Gaul; and the poet had contracted some guilt, which it was incumbent on him to expiate, by a new tribute of flattery to the succeeding emperor.” The successor of Avitus presents the welcome discovery of a great and heroic character, such as sometimes arise, in a degenerate age, to vindicate the honor of the human species. The emperor Majorian has deserved the praises of his contemporaries, and of posterity; and these praises may be strongly expressed in the words of a judicious and disinterested historian: “That he was gentle to his subjects; that he was terrible to his enemies; and that he excelled, in every virtue, all his predecessors who had reigned over the Romans.” Such a testimony may justify at least the panegyric of Sidonius; and we may acquiesce in the assurance, that, although the obsequious orator would have flattered, with equal zeal, the most worthless of princes, the extraordinary merit of his object confined him, on this occasion, within the bounds of truth.” Majorian derived his name
20 He suffered, as it is supposed, in the persecution of Diocletian (Tillemont, Mém. Eccles. tom. v. pp. 279, 696), Gregory of Tours, his peculiar votary, has dedicated to the glory of Julian the Martyr an entire book (de Gloriá Martyrum, 1. ii. in Max. Bibliot. Patrum, tom. xi. pp. 861–871), in which he relates about fifty foolish miracles performed by his relics.
30 Gregory of Tours (l. ii. c. xi. p. 168) is concise, but correct, in the reign of his countrymen. The words of Idatius, “cadet imperio, caret et vitā,” seem to imply, that the death cf Avitus was violent; but it must have been secret, since Evagrius (1. ii. c. 7) could suppose, that he died of the plague.
St. After a modest appeal to the examples of his brethren, Virgil and Horace Sidonius honestly confesses the debt, and promises payment.
Sic mihi diverso nuper sub Marte cadenti Jussisti placido Victor ut essem animo. Serviat ergo tibi servati lingua poetae, Atque meas vitae laus tua sit pretium. Sidon. Apoll. Carm. iv. p. 308. See Dubos, Hist. Critique, tom. i. p. 448, &c. 32 The words of Procopius deserve to be transcribed; otros yāp 6 Mātopsvos §§u travras rows momore “Populatov BeBaoru Aevkóras itepaipov &pitfi réorm ; and afterwards, &vino rā uévets rows virnróovs werptos yeyovals, hobepos 8& ré is roos troAsutovs, (de Bell. Vandal. 1. i. c. 7, p. 194); a concise but comprehensive definition of royal virtue. 89 The Panegyric was pronounced at Lyons before the end of the year 458,
from his maternal grandfather, who, in the reign of the great Theodosius, had commanded the troops of the Illyrian frontier. IIe gave his daughter in marriage to the father of Majorian, a respectable officer, who administered the revenues of Gaul with skill and integrity; and generously preferred the friendship of Aëtius to the tempting offer of an insidious court. His son, the future emperor, who was educated in the profession of arms, displayed, from "his early youth, intrepid courage, premature wisdom, and unbounded liberality in a scanty fortune. He followed the standard of Aëtius, contributed to his success, shared, and sometimes eclipsed, his glory, and at last excited the jealousy of the patrician, or rather of his wife, who forced him to retire from the service.” Majorian, after the death of Aëtius, was recalled and promoted; and his intimate connection with Count Ricimer was the immediate step by which he ascended the throne of the Western empire. Turing the vacancy that succeeded the abdication of Avitus, the ambitious Barbarian, whose birth excluded him from the Imperial dignity, governed Italy with the title of Patrician ; resigned to his friend the conspicuous station of master-general of the cavalry and infantry; and, after an interval of some months, consented to the unanimous wish of the Romans, whose favor Majorian had solicited by a recent victory over the Alemanni.” He was invested with the purple at Ravenna; and the epistle which he addressed to the senate, will best describe his situation and his sentiments. “Your election, Conscript Fathers! and the ordinance of the most valiant army, have made me your emperor.” May the propitious Deity direct and prosper the while the emperor was still consul. It has more art than genius, and more labor than art. The ornaments are false ortrivial ; the expression is feeble and prolix; and Sidonius wants the skill to exhibit the principal figure in a strong and discounsels and events of my administration, to your advan. tage and to the public welfare For my own part, I did not aspire, I have submitted to reign ; nor should I have discharged the obligations of a citizen if I had refused, with base and selfish ingratitude, to support the weight of those labors, which were imposed by the republic. Assist, therefore, the prince whom you have made, partake the duties which you have enjoined, and may our common endeavors promote the happiness of an empire, which I have accepted from your hands. Be assured, that, in our times, justice shall resume her ancient vigor, and that virtue shall become, not only innocent, but meritorious. Let none, except the authors themselves, be apprehensive of delations,” which, as a subject, I have always condemned, and, as a prince, will severely punish. Our own vigilance, and that of our father, the patrician Ricimer, shall regulate all military affairs, and provide for the safety of the Roman world, which we have saved from foreign and domestic enemies.” You now understand the maxims of my govern. ment; you may confide in the faithful love and sincere as: surances of a prince, who has formerly been the companion of your life and dangers; who still glories in the name of senator, and who is anxious that you should never repent of the judgment which you have pronounced in his favor.” The emperor, who, amidst the ruins of the Roman world, revived the ancient language of law and liberty, which Trajan would not have disclaimed, must have derived those generous sentiments from his own heart; since they were not suggested to his imitation by the customs of his age, or the example of his predecessors.” The private and public actions of Majorian are very imperfectly known ; but his laws, remarkable for an original cast of thought and expression, faithfully represent the character of a sovereign who loved his people, who sympathized in their distress, who had studied the causes of the decline of the empire, and who was capable of applying (as far as such reformation was practicable) judicious and ef. fectual remedies to the public disorders.” His regulations concerning the finances manifestly tended to remove, or at least to mitigate, the most intolerable grievances. I. From the first hour of his reign, he was solicitous (I translate his own words) to relieve the weary fortunes of the provincials, oppressed by the accumulated weight of indictions and superindictions.” With this view, he granted a universal amnesty, a final and absolute discharge of all arrears of tribute, of all debts, which, under any pretence, the fiscal officers might demand from the people. This wise dereliction of obsolete, vexatious, and unprofitable claims, improved and purified the sources of the public revenue; and the subject, who could now look back without despair, might labor with hope and gratitude for himself and for his country. II. In the assessment and collection of taxes, Majorian restored the ordinary jurisdiction of the provincial magistrates; and suppressed the extraordinary commissions which had been introduced, in the name of the emperor himself, or of the Praetorian praefects. The favorite servants, who obtained such irregular powers, were insolent in their behavior, and arbitrary in their demands; they affected to despise the subordinate tribunals, and they were discontented, if their fees and profits did not twice exceed the sum which they condescended to pay into the treasury. One instance of their extortion would appear incredible, were it not authenticated by the legislator himself. They exacted the whole payment in gold; but they refused the current coin of the empire, and would accept only such ancient pieces as were stamped with the names of Faustina or the Antonines. The subject, who was unprovided with these curious medals, had recourse to the expedient of compounding with their rapacious demands; or, if he succeeded in the research, his imposition was doubled, according to the weight and value of the money of former times.” III. “The municipal corporations (says
tinct light. The private life of Majorian occupies about two hundred lines, 107–
Ordo omnis regnum dederat; plebs, curia, miles,
This language is ancient and constitutional; and we may observe, that the clergy were not yet considered as a distinct order of the state.
37 Either dilationes, or delationes, would afford a tolerable reading; but there is much more sense and spirit in the latter, to which I have therefore given the preference.
38 Ab externo hoste et a domestică clade liberavimus: by the latter, Majorian must understand the tyranny of Avitus; whose death he consequently avowed as a meritorious act. n this occasion, Sidonius is fearful and obscure ; he describes the twelve Caesars, the nations of Africa, &c., that he may escape the dangerous name of Avitus (305–369).
89 See the whole edict or epistle of Majorian to the senate (Novell. tit. iv. p. 34). Yet the expression, regnum mostrum, bears some taint of the age, and does Riot mix kindly with the word respublica, which he frequently repeats.
* See the laws of Majorian (they are only nine in number, but very long, and various) at the end of the Theodosian Code, Novell. l. iv. pp. 32–37. Godefroy has not given any commentary on these additional pieces.
* Fessas provincialium variä atque multiplici tributorum exactione fortunas, : extraordinariis fiscalium solutionum oneribus attritas, &c. Novell. Majorian, it. iv. p. 34.
*The learned Greaves (vol. i. pp. 329, 330,331) has found, by a diligentinquiry, that aurei of the Antonines weighed one hundred and eighteen, and those of the fifth century only sixty-eight, English grains. Majorian gives currency to all gold coin, excepting only the Gallic solidus, from its deficiency, not in the weight, but in the standard.
the emperor), the lesser senates (so antiquity has justly styled them), deserve to be considered as the heart of the cities, and the sinews of the republic. And yet so low are they now reduced, by the injustice of magistrates and the venality of collectors, that many of their members, renouncing their dignity and their country, have taken refuge in distant and obscure exile.” He urges, and even compels, their return to their respective cities; but he removes the grievance which had forced them to desert the exercise of their municipal functions. They are directed, under the authority of the provincial magistrates, to resume their office of levying the tribute; but, instead of being made responsible for the whole sum assessed on their district, they are only required to produce a regular account of the payments which they have actually received, and of the defaulters who are still indebted to the public. IV. But Majorian was not ignorant that these corporate bodies were too much inclined to retaliate the injustice and oppression which they had suffered ; and he therefore revives the useful office of the defenders of cities. He exhorts the people to elect, in a full and free assembly, some man of discretion and integrity, who would dare to assert their privileges, to represent their grievances, to protect the poor from the tyranny of the rich, and to inform the emperor of the abuses that were committed under the sanction of his name and authority. The spectator, who casts a mournful view over the ruins of ancient Rome, is tempted to accuse the memory of the Goths and Vandals, for the mischief which they had neither leisure, nor power, nor perhaps inclination, to perpetrate. The tempest of war might strike some lofty turrets to the ground; but the destruction which undermined the foundations of those massy fabrics was prosecuted, slowly and silently, during a period of ten centuries; and the motives of interest, that afterwards operated without shame or control, were severely checked by the taste and spirit of the emperor Majorian. The decay of the city had gradually impaired the value of the public works. The circus and theatres might still excite, but they seldom gratified, the desires of the people: the temples, which had escaped the zeal of the Christians, were no longer inhabited, either by gods or men; the diminished crowds of the Romans were lost in the immense space of their baths and porticos; and the stately libraries and halls of justice became useless to an indolent