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CIIAEACTEE AND BEIGN [CH. XXXVI.
The private life of the senator Petronius Maximus* was often alleged as a rare example of human felicity. Hia birth was noble and illustrious, since he descended from the Anieian family; his dignity was supported by an adequate patrimony in land and money; and these advantages of fortune were accompanied with liberal arts and decent manners, which adorn or imitate the inestimable gifts of genius and virtue. The luxury of his palace and table was hospitable and elegant. Whenever Maximus appeared in public, he was surrounded by a train of grateful and obsequioua clients: f and it is possible that, among these clients, he might deserve and possess some real friends. His merit was rewarded by the favour of the prince and senate: he thrice exercised the office of pr&torian prefect of Italy; he was twice invested with the consulship, and he obtained the rank of patrician. These civil honours were not incompatible with the enjoyment of leisure and tranquillity; hia hours, according to the demands of pleasure or reason, were accurately distributed by a water-clock; and this avarice of time may be allowed to prove the sense which Maximus entertained of his own happiness. The injury which he received from the emperor Valentinian, appears to excuse the most bloody revenge. Yet a philosopher might have reflected, that, if the resistance of his wife had been sincere, her chastity was still inviolate, and that it could never be restored if she had consented to the will of the adulterer. A patriot would have hesitated, before he plunged himself and his country into those inevitable calamities, which must follow the extinction of the royal house of Theodosius. The imprudent Maximus disregarded these salutary considerations ; he gratified his resentment and ambition; he saw the bleeding corpse of Valentinian at his feet; and heard himself saluted emperor by the unanimous voice of the senate and people. But the day of his inauguration was the last day of his happiness. He was imprisoned (such is the lively
* Sidonius Apollinaris composed the thirteenth epistle of the second book, to refute the paradox of his friend Serranus, who entertained a singular, though generous, enthusiasm for the deceased emperor. This epistle, with some indulgence, may claim the praise of an elegant composition; and it throws much light on the character of Maximus.
+ Clientum, prsevia, pedisequa, circumfusa, populositas, is the train which Sidonius himself (1. 1, epist. 0) assigns to another senator of consular rank.
expression of Sidonius) in the palace; and, after passing a sleepless night, he sighed that he had attained the summit of his wishes, and aspired only to descend from the dangerous elevation. Oppressed hy the weight of the diadem, he communicated his anxious thoughts to his friend and quaestor Eulgentius ; and when he looked back with unavailing regret on the secure pleasures of his former life, the emperor exclaimed,—" 0 fortunate Damocles,* thy reign began and ended with the same dinner!" a well-known allusion, which Fulgentius afterwards repeated as an instructive lesson for princes and subjects.
The reign of Maximus continued about three months. His hours, of which he had lost the command, were disturbed by remorse, or guilt, or terror; and his throne was shaken by the seditions of the soldiers, the people, and the confederate barbarians. The marriage of his son Palladius with the eldest daughter of the late emperor, might tend to establish the hereditary succession of his family; but the "violence which he offered to the empress Eudoxia, could proceed only from'the blind impulse of lust or revenge. His own wife, the cause of these tragic events, had been seasonably removed by death; and the widow of Valentinian was compelled to violate her decent mourning, perhaps her real grief, and to submit to the embraces of a presumptuous usurper, whom she suspected as the assassin of her deceased husband. These suspicions were soon justified by the indiscreet confession of Maximus himself; and ho wantonly provoked the hatred of his reluctant bride, who was still conscious that she was descended from a line of emperors. From the East, however, Eudoxia could not hope to obtain any effectual assistance; her father and her auut Pulcheria were dead; her mother languished at Jerusalem in disgrace and exile; and the sceptre of Constantinople was in the hands of a stranger. She directed her eyes towards Carthage; secretly implored the aid of the king of the Vandals; and
* Districtus ensis cui super impia
Horat. Carm. 3.1.
Sidonius concludes his letter with the story of Damocles, which Cicero (Tusculan. v. 2U, 21) had so inimitably told.
persuaded Genseric to improve the fair opportunity of disguising his rapacious designs by the specious names of honour, justice, and compassion.* Whatever abilities Masimus might have shewn in a subordinate station, he was found incapable of administering an empire; and though he might easily have been informed of the naval preparations which were made on the opposite shores of Africa, he expected with supine indifference the approach of the enemy, without adopting any measures of defence, of negotiation, or of a timely retreat. "When the Vandals disembarked at the mouth of the Tiber, the emperor was suddenly roused from his lethargy by the clamours of a trembling and exasperated multitude. The only hope which presented itself to his astonished mind was that of a precipitate flight, and he exhorted the senators to imitate the example of their prince. But no sooner did Maximus appear in the streets, than he was assaulted by a shower of stones; a Roman, or a Burgundian soldier, claimed the honour of the first wound; his mangled body was ignominiously cast into the Tiber; the Roman people rejoiced in the punishment which they had inflicted on the author of the public calamities; and the domestics of Eudoxia signalized their zeal in the service of their mistress.f
On the third day after the tumult, Genseric boldly advanced from the port of Ostia to the gates of the defenceless city. Instead of a sally of the Roman youth, there issued from the gates an unarmed and venerable procession of the bishop at the head of his clergy.J The fearless spirit of Leo, his authority and eloquence, again mitigated the fierce
* Notwithstanding the evidence of Procopius, Evagrius, Idatius, Marcellinus, &c. the learned Muratori (Annali d'ltalia, tom. iv, p. 249) doubts the reality of this invitation, and observes, with great truth— "Non si pu5 dir quanto sia facile il popolo a sognare e spacciar voci false." But his argument, from the interval of time and place, is extremely feeble. The figs which grew near Carthage were produced to the senate of Rome on the third day.
+ - - - Infidoque tibi Burgundio ductu
Sidon in Panegyr. Avit. 442. A remarkable line, which insinuates that Rome and Maximus were betrayed by their Burgundian mercenaries. f The apparent
success of pope Leo may be justified by Prosper, and the Historia Miscellan.; but the improbable notion of Baronius (a.d. 455, no. 13) that Genseric spared the three apostolical churches, is not countenanced even by tire-doubtful testimony of the Liber Pontificalis.
ness of a barbarian conqueror; the king of the Vandals promised to spare the unresisting multitude, to protect the buildings from fire, and to exempt the captives from torture ; and although such orders were neither seriously given, nor strictly obeyed, the mediation of Leo was glorious to himself, and in some degree beneficial to his country. But Home and its inhabitants were delivered to the licentiousness of the Vandals and Moors, whose blind passions revenged the injuries of Carthage. The pillage lasted fourteen days and nights; and all that yet remained of public or private wealth, of sacred or profane treasure, was diligently transported to the vessels of Genseric. Among the spoils, the splendid relics of two temples, or rather of two religions, exhibited a memorable example of the vicissitudes of human and divine things. Since the abolition of Paganism, the capitol had been violated and abandoned; yet the statues of the gods and heroes were still respected, and the curious roof of gilt bronze was reserved for the rapacious hands of Genseric.* The holy instruments of the Jewish worship,f the gold table, and the gold candlestick with seven branches, originally framed according to the particular instructions of God himself, and which were placed in the sanctuary of his temple, had been ostentatiously displayed to the Roman people in the triumph of Titus. They were afterwards deposited in the temple of Peace : and, at the end of four hundred years, the spoils of Jerusalem were transferred from Rome to Carthage, by a barbarian who derived his origin from the shores of the Baltic. These ancient monuments might attract the notice of curiosity, as well aa
* The profusion of Catulus, the first who gilt the roof of the Capitol, was not universally approved (Plin. Hist. Nattir. 33. 18); but it was far exceeded by the emperor's; and the external gilding of the temple cost Domitian twelve thousand talents (2,400,0002.) The expressions of Claudian and Rutilius (luce metalli cemida . . . fastigia ustris, and confunduntque vagos delubra micantia visus) manifestly prove that this splendid covering was not removed either by the Christians or the Goths. (See Donatus, Roma Antiqua, 1. 2, c. 6, p. 125). It should seem that the roof of the Capitol was decorated with gilt statues, and chariots drawn by four horses. [The "Capitolium fulgens," which Horace (Carm. 3. 3) makes Juno utter, at the apotheosis of Romulus, must be regarded as prophetic ol the splendour which Catulus and Augustus created seven centuries afterwards. —Ed.] t The curious reader may consult the learned and accurate treatiso of Hadrian Reland, de Spoliis Templi Hierosolymitani in Arcu Titiano Romce conspicuis, in 12mo. Trajecti ad Rhenum, 1716.
TEEATHEJTT OF KUDOXtA. iCH. XXXVI.
of avarice. But the Christian churches, enriched and adorned by the prevailing superstition of the times, afforded more plentiful materials for sacrilege: and the pious liberality of pope Leo, who melted six silver vases, the gift of Constantino, each of a hundred pounds weight, is evidence of the damage which he attempted to repair. In the forty-five years that had elapsed since the Gothic invasion, the pomp and luxury of llome were in some measure restored; and it was difficult either to escape or to satisfy the avarice of a conqueror, who possessed leisure to collect, and ships to transport, the wealth of the capital. The imperial ornaments of the palace, the magnificent furniture and wardrobe, the sideboards of massy plate, were accumulated with disorderly rapme; the gold and silver amounted to several thousand talents; yet even the brass and copper were laboriously removed. Eudoxia herself, who advanced to meet her friend and deliverer, soon bewailed the imprudence of her own conduct. She was rudely stripped of her jewels; and the unfortunate empress, with her two daughters, the only surviving remains of the great Theodosius. was compelled, as a. captive, to follow the haughty Vandal; who immediately hoisted sail, and returned with a prosperous navigation to the port of Carthage.* Many thousand Bomans of both sexes, chosen for some useful or agrseablo qualifications, reluctantly embarked on board the fleet of Grenseric; and their distress was aggravated by the unfeeling barbarians, who, in the division of the booty, separated the wives from their husbands, and the children from their parents. The charity of Deogratias, bishop of Carthage,t
* The vessel which transported the relics of the Capitol, was the only one of the whole fleet that suffered shipwreck. If a bigoted sophist, a Pagan bigot, had mentioned the accident, he might have rejoiced that this cargo of sacrilege was lost in the sea.
t See Victor Vitensis, de Persecut. Vandal. 1. 1, c. 8, p. 11, 12, edit. Kuinart. Deogratias governed the church of Carthage only three years. If he had not been privately buried, his corpse would have been torn piecemeal by the mad devotion of the people. [" Deo Gratias," was a common salutation among the early Christians. It rarely occurs as a name, yet the benevolent bishop of Carthage, who bore it, made it honourable. For the space of fifteen years, no ecclesiastic would venture among the dreaded Vandals, and the see remained vacant. Deogratias at last undertook its dangers and its duties. He is not exalted, as he ought to be, by the contrast which Gibbon has drawn between him and Hannibal. His services v/era rendered without regard to difference of creed, for he was anAiian,