« ForrigeFortsett »
assembly. In such councils, where the princes and magis. trates sat promiscuously with the bishops, the important af. fairs of the state, as well as of the church, might be freely debated ; differences reconciled, alliances formed, contributions imposed, wise resolutions often concerted, and sometimes executed; and there is reason to believe, that, in moments of extreme danger, a Pendragon, or Dictator, was elected by the general consent of the Britons. These pas. toral cares, so worthy of the episcopal character, were inter. rupted, however, by zeal and superstition; and the British clergy incessantly labored to eradicate the Pelagian heresy, which they abhorred, as the peculiar disgrace of their native country.” It is somewhat remarkable, or rather it is extremely natural, that the revolt of Britain and Armorica should have introduced an appearance of liberty into the obedient provinces of Gaul. In a solemn edict,” filled with the strongest assurances of that paternal affection which princes so often express, and so seldom feel, the emperor Honorius promulgated his intention of convening an annual assembly of the seven provinces: a name peculiarly appropriated to Aquitain and the ancient Narbonnese, which had long since exchanged their Celtic rudeness for the useful and elegant arts of Italy.” Arles, the seat of government and commerce, was appointed for the place of the assembly; which regularly continued twenty-eight days, from the fifteenth of August to the thirteenth of September, of every year. It consisted of the Praetorian praefect of the Gauls; of seven provincial governors, one consular, and six presidents; of the magistrates, and perhaps the bishops, of about sixty cities; and of a competent, though indefinite, number of the most honorable and opulent possessors of land, who might justly be considered as the representatives of their country. They were empowered to interpret and communicate the laws of their sovereign; to expose the grievances and wishes of their constituents; to moderate the excessive or unequal weight of taxes; and to deliberate on every subject
180 Consult Usher, de Antiq. Eccles. Britannicar. c. 8–12.
190 See the correct text of this edict, as published by Sirmond (Not ad. Sidon. Apollin. p. 147). Hincmar of Rheims, who assigns a place to the bishops, had §. seen (in the ninth century) a more perfect copy. Dubos, Hist. Critique
e la Monarchie Françoise, tom. pp. 241-255.
1 1 It is evident from the Notition, that the seven provinces were the Viennensis, the maritime Alps, the first and secood Narbonnese, Novempopulania, and the first and second Aquitain. In the room of the first Aquitain; the Abbé Dubos, on the Authority of Hincmar, desires to introduce the first Lugdunensis, or Lyon: liese. - - - - - -- -
of local or national importance, that could tend to the restoration of the peace and prosperity of the seven provinces. If such an institution, which gave the people an interest in their own government, had been universally established by Trajan or the Antonines, the seeds of public wisdom and virtue might have been cherished and propagated in the empire of Rome. The privileges of the subject would have secured the throne of the monarch; the abuses of an arbitrary administration might have been prevented, in some degree, or corrected, by the interposition of these representative assemblies; and the country would have been defended against a foreign enemy by the arms of natives and freemen. Under the mild and generous influence of liberty, the Roman empire might have remained invincible and immortal; or if its excessive magnitude, and the instability of human affairs, had opposed such perpetual continuance, its vital and constituent members might have separately preserved their vigor and independence. But in the decline of the empire, when every principle of health and life had been exhausted, the tardy application of this partial remedy was incapable of producing any important or salutary effects. The emperor Honorius expresses his surprise, that he must compel the reluctant provinces to accept a privilege which they should ardently have solicited. A fine of three, or even five, pounds of gold, was imposed on the absent representatives; who seemed to have declined this imaginary gift of a free constitution, as the last and most cruel insult of their oppressors.
ARCADIUS EMPEROR OF THE EAST.-ADMINISTRATION AND DISGRACE OF EUTROPIU.S.—REVOLT OF GAINA.S.—PERSECUTION OF ST. Joh N CHRYSOstom.—THEODosi Us II. EMPEROR OF THE EAST.-IIIS SISTER PULCHERIA.—HIS WIFE EUDOCIA.—THE PERSIAN WAIR, AND DIVISION OF ARMENIA.
THE division of the Toman world between the sons of Theodosius marks the final establishment of the empire of the East, which, from the reign of Arcadius to the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, subsisted one thousand and fifty-eight years, in a state of premature and perpetual decay. The sovereign of that empire assumed, and obstinately retained, the vain, and at length fictitious, title of Emperor of the Roni ANs; and the hereditary appel ations of CESAR and AUGUSTU's continued to declare, that he was the legitimate successor of the first of men, who had reigned over the first of nations. The palace of Constantinople rivalled, and perhaps excelled, the magnificence of Persia; and the eloquent sermons of St. Chrysostom celebrate, while they condemn, the pompous luxury of the reign of Arcadius. “The emperor,” says he, “wears on his head either a diadem, or a crown of gold, decorated with precious stones of inestimable value. These ornaments, and his purple garments, are reserved for his sacred person alone; and his robes of silk are embroidered with the figures of golden dragons. His throne is of massy gold. Whenever he appears in public, he is surrounded by his courtiers, his guards, and his attendants. Their spears, their shields, their cuirasses, the bridles and trappings of their horses, have either the substance or the appearance of gold; and the large splendid boss in the midst of their shield is encircled with smaller bosses, which represent the shape of the human eye. The two mules that 1 Father Montfaucon, who, by the command of his Benedictine superiors, was compelled (see Longeuruana, tom. i. p. 205) to execute the laborious edition of St. Chrysostoa, in thirteen volumes in folio (Paris, 1738), amused himself with extracting from that immense collection of morals, some curious antiquities, which illustrate the manners of the Theodosian age (see Chrysostom, Opéra, tom. xiii. draw the chariot of the monarch are perfectly white, and shining all over with gold. The chariot itself, of pure and solid gold, attracts the admiration of the spectators, who contemplate the purple curtains, the snowy carpet, the size of the precious stones, and the resplendent plates of gold, that glitter as they are agitated by the motion of the carriage. The Imperial pictures are white, on a blue ground; the emperor appears seated on his throne, with his arms, his horses, and his guards beside him; and his vanquished enemies in chains at his feet.” The successors of Constantine established their perpetual residence in the royal city, which he had erected on the verge of Europe and Asia. Inaccessible to the menaces of their enemies, and perhaps to the complaints of their people, they received, with each wind, the tributary productions of every climate; while the impregnable strength of their capital continued for ages to defy the hostile attempts of the Barbarians. Their dominions were bounded by the Adriatic and the Tigris; and the whole interval of twenty-five days' navigation, which separated the extreme cold of Scythia from the torrid zone of AEthiopia,” was comprehended with the limits of the empire of the East. The populous countries of that empire were the seat of art and learning, of luxury and wealth; and the inhabitants, who had assumed the language and manners of Greeks, styled themselves, with some appearance of truth, the most enlightened and civilized portion of the human species. The form of government was a pure and simple monarchy; the name of the Roy AN It EPUBLIC, which so long preserved a faint tradition of freedom, was confined to the Latin provinces; and the princes of Constantinople measured their greatness by the servile obedience of their people. They were ignorant how much this passive disposition enervates and degrades every faculty of the mind. The subjects, who had resigned their will to the absolute commands of a master, were equally incapable of guarding their lives and fortunes against the assaults of the Barbarians, or of defending their reason from the terrors of superstition. * According to the loose reckoning, that a ship could sail, with a fair wind 1000 stadia, or 125 miles, in the revolution of a day and might, I) iodorus Siculus computes ten days from the Palus Moeotis to Rhods, and four days from Rhodes to Alexandria. The navigation of the Nile from A iexandria to Syene, under the tropic of Cancer, required, as it was against the stream, ten days more. Diodor. Sicul. tom. i. 1. iii. p. 200, edit. Wesseling. He might, without much impropriety measure the extreme heat from the verge of the torrid zone ; but he speaks o
pp. 192-196, and his French Dissertation, in the Mémoires de l'Acad. des Incriptions, tom. xiii. pp. 474-490.
The first events of the reign of Arcadius and Honorius are so intimately connected, that the rebellion of the Goths, and the fall of Rufinus, have already claimed a place in the history of the West. It has already been observed, that Eutropius,” one of the principal eunuchs of the palace of Constantinople, succeeded the haughty minister whose ruin he had accomplished, and whose vices he soon imitated. Every order of the state bowed to the new favorite; and their tame and obsequious submission encouraged him to insult the laws, and, what is still more difficult and dangerous, the manners of his country. Under the weakest of the predecessors of Arcadius, the reign of the eunuchs had been secret and almost invisible. They insinuated themselves into the confidence of the prince; but their ostensible functions were confined to the menial service of the wardrobe and Imperial bed-chamber. They might direct, in a whisper, the public counsels, and blast, by their malicious suggestions, the fame and fortunes of the most illustrious citizens; but they never presumed to stand forward in the front of empire,” or to profane the public honors of the state. Eutropius was the first of his artificial sex, who dared to assume the character of a Roman magistrate and general.” Sometimes, in the presence of the blushing senate, he ascended the tribunal to pronounce judgment, or to repeat elaborate harangues; and, sometimes, appeared on horseback, at the head of his troops, in the dress and armor of a hero. The disregard of custom
8 Barthius, who adored his author with the blind superstition of a commentator, gives the preference to the two books which Claudian composed against Eutropius, above all his other productions (Baillet, Jugemens des Savans, tom. iv. p. 227). They are indeed a `. elegant and spirited satire; and would be more valuable in an historical light, if the invective were less vague and more temperate.
4. After lamenting the progress of the eunuchs in the Roman palace, and defining their proper functions, Claudian adds,
— A fronte recedant Imperii.
In Eutrop. i. 422.
Yet it does not appear that the eunuch had assumed any of the efficient offices of
Judicat eunuchus . . . . . . .
Claudian (i. 229–270), with that mixture of indignation and humor, which always
pleases in a satiric poet, describes the insolent folly of the eunuch, the disgrace
of the empire, and the joy of the Goths. . . - - - - - - - Gaudet, cum viderit, hostis, Et sentit jam deesse viros.