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and decency always betrays a weak and ill-regulated mind; nor does Eutropius seem to have compensated for the folly of the design by any superior merit or ability in the execution. His former habits of life had not introduced him to the study of the laws, or the exercises of the field; his awkward and unsuccessful attempts provoked the secret contempt of the spectators; the Goths expressed their wish that such a general might always command the armies of Rome; and the name of the minister was branded with ridicule, more pernicious, perhaps, than hatred, to a public character. The subjects of Arcadius were exasperated by the recollection, that this deformed and decrepit eunuch," who so perversely mimicked the actions of a man, was born in the most abject condition of servitude; that before he entered the Imperial palace, he had been successively sold and purchased, by a hundred masters, who had exhausted his youthful strength in every mean and infamous office, and at length dismissed him, in his old age, to freedom and poverty." While these disgraceful stories were circulated, and perhaps exaggerated, in private conversations, the vanity of the favorite was flattered with the most extraordinary honors. In the senate, in the capital, in the provinces, the statues of Eutropius were erected, in brass, or marble, decorated with the symbols of his civil and military virtues, and inscribed with the pompous title of the third founder of Constantinople. He was promoted to the rank of patrician, which began to signify, in a popular, and even legal, acceptation, the father of the emperor; and the last year of the fourth century was polluted by the consulship of a eunuch and a slave. This strange and inexpiable prodigy" awakened, however, the prejudices of the Romans. The effeminate consul was rejected by the West, as an indelible stain to the annals of the republic; and without invoking the shades of IBrutus and Camillus, the colleague of Eutropius, a learned and respectable magistrate,” sufficiently represented the different maxims of the two administrations. The bold and vigorous mind of Rufinus seems to have been actuated by a more sanguinary and revengeful spirit, but the avarice of the eunuch was not less insatiate than that of the praefect.” As long as he despoiled the oppressors, who had enriched themselves with the plunder of the people, Eutropius might gratify his covetous disposition without much envy or injustice; but the progress of his rapine soon invaded the wealth which had been acquired by lawful inheritance, or laudable industry. The usual methods of extortion were practised and improved ; and Claudian has sketched a lively and original picture of the public auction of the state. “The impotence of the eunuch,” says that agreeable satirist, “ has served only to stimulate his avarice; the same hand which, in his servile condition, was exercised in petty thefts, to unlock the coffers of his master, now grasps the riches of the world; and this infamous broker of the empire appreciates and divides the Roman provinces from Mount Haemus to the Tigris. One man, at the expense of his villa, is made proconsul of Asia; a second purchases Syria with his wife's jewels; and a third laments that he has exchanged his paternal estate for the government of Bithynia. In the antechamber of Eutropius, a large tablet is exposed to public view, which marks the respective prices of the provinces. The different value of Pontus, of Galatia, of Lydia, is accurately distinguished. Lycia may be obtained for so many thousand pieces of gold; but the opulence of Phrygia will require a more considerable sum. The eunuch wishes to obliterate, by the general disgrace, his personal ignominy; and as he has been sold himself, he is desirous of selling the rest of mankind. In the eager contention, the balance, which contains the fate and fortunes of the province, often trembles on the beam; and till one of the scales is inclined, by a superior weight, the mind of the impartial judge remains in anxious suspense.” Such,” continues the indignant poet, “are the fruits of Roman valor, of the defeat of Antiochus, and of the triumph of Pompey.” This venal prostitution of public honors secured the impunity of future crimes; but the riches, which Eutropius derived from confiscation, were already stained with injustice; since it was decent to accuse, and to condemn, the proprietors of the wealth, which he was impatient to confiscate. Some noble blood was shed by the hand of the executioner; and the most inhospitable extremities of the empire were filled with innocent and illustrious exiles. Among the generals and consuls of the East, Abundantius * had reason to dread the first effects of the resentment of Eutropius. He had been guilty of the unpardonable crime of introducing that abject slave to the palace of Constantinople; and some degree of praise must be allowed to a powerful and ungrateful favorite, who was satisfied with the disgrace of his benefactor. Abundantius was stripped of his ample fortunes by an Imperial rescript, and banished to Pityus, on the Euxine, the last frontier of the Roman world: where he subsisted by the precarious mercy of the Barbarians, till he could obtain, after the fall of Eutropius, a milder exile at Sidon in Phoenicia. . The destruction of Timasius * required a more serious and regular mode of attack. That great officer, the master-general of the armies of Theodosius, had signalized his valor by a decisive victory, which he obtained over the Goths of Thessaly; but he was too prone, after the example of his sovereign, to enjoy the luxury of peace, and to abandon his confidence to wicked and designing flatterers. Timasius had despised the public clamor, by promoting an infamous dependent to the command of a cohort; and he deserved to
6 The poet's lively description of his deformity (i.110-125) is confirmed by the authentic testimony of Chrysostom (tom. iii. p. 384, edit. Montfaucon); who observes, that when the paint was washed away, the face of Eutropius appeared more ugly and wrinkled than that of an old woman. Claudian remarks (i. 469), and the remark must have been founded on experience, that there was scarcely an interval between the youth and the decrepit age of a eunuch.
7 Eutropius appears to have been a native of Armenia or Assyria. His three services, which Claudian more particularly describes, were these : 1. He spent many years as the catamite of Ptolemy, a groom or soldier of the Imperial stables. 2. Ptolemy gave him to the old general Arintheus, for whom he very skilfully exercised the profession of a pimp. 3. He was given, on her marriage, to the daughter of Arintheus; and the future consul was employed to comb her hair, * present the silver ewer to wash, and to fan his mistress in hot weather. Seel.
8 Claudian (l. i. in Eutrop. 1–22), after enumerating the various prodigies of monstrous births, speaking animals, showers of blood or stones, double suns, &c., adds, with some exaggeration,
Omnia cesserunt eunucho consule monstra.
The first book.concludes with a noble speech of the goddess of Rome to her favor ite Honorius, deprecating the new ignominy to which she was exposed.
9 Fl. Mallius Theodorus, whose civil honors, and philosophical works, have been celebrated by Claudian in a very elegant panegyric.
10 Me6 stov Šē #6m to trao ro, drunk with riches, is the forcible expression of Zosimus (l. v. p. 301); and the avarice of Eutropius is equally execrated in the Ilexicon of Suidas and the Chronicle of Marcellinus. Chrysostôm had often admonished the favorite, of the vanity aud danger of immoderate wealth, toua. iii,
certantum saepe duorum
Claudian (i, 102–200) so curiously distinguishes the circumstances of the sale, that they all seem to allude to particular anecdotes.
# Claudian (i. 154–170) mentions the guilt and exile of Abundantius; nor could he fail to quote the example of the artist, who made the first trial of the brazen bull, which he presented to Phalaris. See Zosimus, l. v. p. 302. Jerom. tom. i. p. 26. The difference of place is easily reconciled ; but the decisive authority of Asterius of Amasia (Orat. iv. p. 76, apud Tillemont, Hist, des Empereurs, tom v. p. 435) must turn the scale in favor of Pityus.
* Suidas (most probably from the history of Eunapius) has given a very unfavorable picture of Tirnasius. The account of his accuser, the judges, trial, &c. is perfectly agreeable to the practice of ancient and modern courts (see Zosimus' l. v. pp. 238, 299, 300). I am almost tempted to quote the romance of a great master (Fielding's Works, vol. iv. p. 49, &c., 8vo edit.), which may be considered as the history of human nature.
feel the ingratitude of Bargus, who was secretly instigated by the favorite to accuse his patron of a treasonable conspiracy. The general was arraigned before the tribunal of Arcadius himself; and the principal eunuch stood by the side of the throne to suggest the questions and answers of his sovereign. But as this form of trial might be deemed partial and arbitrary, the further inquiry into the crimes of Timasius was delegated to Saturninus and Procopius; the former of consular rank, the latter still respected as the father-in-law of the emperor Valens. The appearances of a fair and legal proceeding were maintained by the blunt honesty of Procopius; and he yielded with reluctance to the obsequious dexterity of his colleague, who pronounced a sentence of condemnation against the unfortunate Timasius. His immense riches were confiscated, in the name of the emperor, and for the benefit of the favorite; and he was doomed to perpetual exile at Oasis, a solitary spot in the midst of the sandy deserts of Libya.” Secluded from all human converse, the master-general of the Roman armies was lost forever to the world; but the circumstances of his fate have been related in a various and contradictory manner. It is insinuated that Eutropius despatched a private order for his secret execution.” It was reported, that, in attempting to escape from Oasis, he perished in the desert, of thirst and hunger; and that his dead body was found on the sands of Libya.” It has been asserted, with more confidence, that his son Syagrius, after successfully eluding the pursuit of the agents and emissaries of the court, collected a band of African robbers; that he rescued Timasius from the place of his exile; and that both the father and the son disappeared from the knowledge of mankind.” But the ungrateful Bargus, instead of being suffered to possess the reward of guilt, was soon after circumvented and destroyed, by the more powerful villany of the minister himself, who retained sense and spirit enough to abhor the instrument of his own crimes. The public hatred, and the despair of individuals, continually threatened, or seemed to threaten, the personal safety of Eutropius; as well as of the numerous adherents, who were attached to his fortune, and had been promoted by his venal favor. For their mutual defence, he contrived the safeguard of a law, which violated every principle of humanity and justice.” I. It is enacted, in the name, end by the authority, of Arcadius, that all those who shall conspire, either with subjects or with strangers, against the lives of any of the persons whom the emperor considers as the members of his own body, shall be punished with death and confiscation. This species of fictitious and metaphorical treason is extended to protect, not only the illustrious officers of the state and army, who are admitted into the sacred consistory, but likewise the principal domestics of the palace, the senators of Constantinople, the military commanders, and the civil magistrates of the provinces; a vague and indefinite list, which, under the successors of Constantine, included an obscure and numerous train of subordinate ministers. II. This extreme severity might perhaps be justified, had it been only directed to secure the representatives of the sovereign from any actual violence in the execution of their office. But the whole body of Imperial dependents claimed a privilege, or rather impunity, which screened them, in the loosest moments of their lives, from the hasty, perhaps the justifiable, resentment of their fellowcitizens; and, by a strange perversion of the laws, the same degree of guilt and punishment was applied to a private quarrel, and to a deliberate conspiracy against the emperor and the empire. The edict of Arcadius most positively and most absurdly declares, that in such cases of treason, thoughts and actions ought to be punished with equal severity; that the knowledge of a mischievous intention, unless it be instantly revealed, becomes equally crim
14 The great Oasis was one of the spots in the sands of Libya, watered with springs, and capable of producing wheat, barley and palm-trees. It was about three days’ journey from north to south, about half a day in breadth, and at the distance of about five days' march to the west of Abydus, on the Nile. See I)'Anville, Description de l'Egypte, pp. 186,187, 188. The barren desert which encompasses Oasis (Zosimus, l. v. p. 300) has suggested the idea of comparative fertility, and even the epithet of the happy island (Herodot. iii. 26).
1. The line of Claudian, in Eutrop. 1. i. 180.
Marmaricus claris violatur cardibus Hammon,”
evidently alludes to his persuasion of the death of Timasius. * Sozomen, 1. viii. c. 7. He speaks from report, Ös ruvos ém w8ówev. * Zosimus, l. v. p. 300. Yet he seems to suspect that this rumor was spread by the friends of Eutropius.
* A fragment of Eunapius confirms this account. “Thus having deprived this eat, person of his life—a eunuch, a man, a slave, a consul, a minister of the -chamber, one bred in camps.” Mai, p. 283, in Niebuhr. 87—M.
18 See the Theodosian Code, l. ix. tit. 14, ad legem Corneliam de Sicariis, leg. #, and the Code of Justinian, 1. ix. tit, viii. ad legem Juliam de Majestate, leg. 5. The alteration of the title, from murder to treason, was an improvement of the subtle Tribonian. Godefroy, in a formal dissertation, which he has inserted in his Commentary, illustrates this law of Arcadius, and explains all the difficult passages which had been perverted by the jurisconsults of the darker ages. See tom. iii. pp. 88–111. - -