Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

10

REIGN OF AURELIAN.

CHAP. XI

Aurelian's successful

conduct. He was invested with the consulship by the emperor Valerian, who styles him, in the pompous language of that age, the deliverer of Illyricum, the restorer of Gaul, and the rival of the Scipios. At the recommendation of Valerian, a senator of the highest rank and merit, Ulpius Crinitus, whose blood was derived from the same source as that of Trajan, adopted the Pannonian peasant, gave him his daughter in marriage, and relieved with his ample fortune the honourable poverty which Aurelian had preserved inviolate. 18

The reign of Aurelian lasted only four years and about nine Aurelian's months; but every instant of that short period was filled reign. by some memorable achievement. He put an end to the Gothic war, chastised the Germans who invaded Italy, recovered Gaul, Spain, and Britain out of the hands of Tetricus, and destroyed the proud monarchy which Zenobia had erected in the East on the ruins of the afflicted empire.

It was the rigid attention of Aurelian even to the minutest articles His severe of discipline which bestowed such uninterrupted success on discipline. his arms. His military regulations are contained in a very concise epistle to one of his inferior officers, who is commanded to enforce them, as he wishes to become a tribune, or as he is desirous to live. Gaming, drinking, and the arts of divination were severely prohibited. Aurelian expected that his soldiers should be modest, frugal, and laborious; that their armour should be constantly kept bright, their weapons sharp, their clothing and horses ready for immediate service; that they should live in their quarters with chastity and sobriety, without damaging the corn-fields, without stealing even a sheep, a fowl, or a bunch of grapes, without exacting from their landlords either salt, or oil, or wood. “ The public allow“ ance,” continues the emperor, “is sufficient for their support; their “ wealth should be collected from the spoil of the enemy, not from “ the tears of the provincials.” 19 A single instance will serve to display the rigour, and even cruelty, of Aurelian. One of the soldiers had seduced the wife of his host. The guilty wretch was fastened to two trees forcibly drawn towards each other, and his limbs were torn asunder by their sudden separation. A few such examples impressed a salutary consternation. The punishments of Aurelian were terrible; but he had seldom occasion to punish more than once the same

18 Acholius (ap. Hist. August. p. 213 [Vopisc. Aurel. c. 13]) describes the ceremony of the adoption, as it was performed at Byzantium, in the presence of the emperor and his great officers.

19 Hist. August. p. 211. (Vopisc. Aurel. c. 7.] This laconic epistle is truly the work of a soldier; it abounds with military phrases and words, some of which cannot be understood without difficulty. Ferramenta samiata is well explained by Salmasius. The former of the words means all weapons of offence, and is contrasted with Arma, defensive armour. The latter signifies keen and well sharpened.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

cludes a treaty with

offence. His own conduct gave a sanction to bis laws, and the seditious legions dreaded a chief who had learned to obey, and who was worthy to command.

The death of Claudius had revived the fainting spirit of the Gothis. The troops which guarded the passes of Mount Hæmus He and the banks of the Danube had been drawn away by the time apprehension of a civil war; and it seems probable that the the Goths, remaining body of the Gothic and Vandalic tribes embraced the favourable opportunity, abandoned their settlements of the Ukraine, traversed the rivers, and swelled with new multitudes the destroying host of their countrymen. Their united numbers were at length encountered by Aurelian, and the bloody and doubtful conflict ended only with the approach of night.20 Exhausted by so many calamities, which they had mutually endured and inflicted during a twenty years' war, the Goths and the Romans consented to a lasting and beneficial treaty. It was earnestly solicited by the barbarians, and cheerfully ratified by the legions, to whose suffrage the prudence of Aurelian referred the decision of that important question. The Gothic nation engaged to supply the armies of Rome with a body of two thousand auxiliaries, consisting entirely of cavalry, and stipulated in return an undisturbed retreat, with a regular market as far as the Danube, provided by the emperor's care, but at their own expense. The treaty was ubserved with such religious fidelity, that, when a party of five hundred men straggled from the camp in quest of plunder, the king or general of the barbarians commanded that the guilty leader should be apprehended and shot to death with darts, as a victim devoted to the sanctity of their engagements. It is, however, not unlikely that the precaution of Aurelian, who had exacted as hostages the sons and daughters of the Gothic chiefs, contributed something to this pacific temper. The youths he trained in the exercise of arms, and near his own person ; to the damsels he gave a liberal and Roman education, and, by bestowing them in marriage on some of his principal officers, gradually introduced between the two nations the closest and most endearing connections. 21

But the most important condition of peace was understood rather than expressed in the treaty. Aurelian withdrew the Roman forces

20 Zosimus, I. i. (c. 48, p. 43] p. 45.

2 Dexippus (ap. Excerpta Legat. p. 12 [ed. Paris; p. 8, ed. Ven.; p. 19, ed. Bunn]) relates the whole transaction under the name of Vandals. Aureliau married one of the Gothic ladies to his general Bonosus, who was able to drink with the Goths and discover their secrets. Hist. August. p. 247. [Vopisc. Bonosus, c. 10.]

* The five hundred stragglers were all slain.-M

12

DACIA RESIGNED TO THE GOTHS.

CHAP. XI.

to them the

Dacia,

from Dacia, and tacitly relinquished that great province to the Goths and resigns and Vandals.22 His manly judgment convinced him of province of

the solid advantages, and taught him to despise the seeming

disgrace, of thus contracting the frontiers of the monarchy. The Dacian subjects, removed from those distant possessions which they were unable to cultivate or defend, added strength and popillousness to the southern side of the Danube. A fertile territory, which the repetition of barbarous inroads had changed into a desert, was yielded to their industry, and a new province of Dacia still preserved the memory of Trajan's conquests. The old country of that name detained, however, a considerable number of its inhabitants, who dreaded exile more than a Gothic master.23 These degenerate Romans continued to serve the empire, whose allegiance they had renounced, by introducing among their conquerors the first notions of agriculture, the useful arts, and the conveniences of civilised life. An intercourse of commerce and language was gradually established between the opposite banks of the Danube ; and, after Dacia became an independent state, it often proved the firmest barrier of the empire against the invasions of the savages of the North. A sense of interest attached these more settled barbarians to the alliance of Rome, and a permanent interest very frequently ripens into sincere and useful friendship. This various colony, which filled the ancient province, and was insensibly blended into one great people, still acknowledged the superior renown and authority of the Gothic tribe, and claimed the fancied honour of a Scandinavian origin. At the same time the lucky, though accidental, resemblance of the name of Getæ infused among the credulous Goths a vain persuasion that, in a remote age, their own ancestors, already seated in the Dacian provinces, had received the instructions of Zamolxis, and checked the victorious arms of Sesostris and Darius. 2

22 Hist. August. p. 222. (Vopisc. Aurel. c. 39.) Eutrop. ix. 15 [c. 9]. Sextus Rufus, c. 8. Lactantius de Mortibus Persecutorum, c. 9.

23 The Wallachians still preserve many traces of the Latin language, and have boasted, in every age, of their Roman descent They are surrounded by, but not mixed with, the barbarians. See a Memoir of M. d'Anville on ancient Dacia, in the Academy of Inscriptions, tou. xxx."

24 See the first chapter of Jornandes. The Vandals, however (c. 22), maintained a short independence between the rivers Marisia and Grissia (Maros and Keres [Körösz]), wbich fell into the Theiss.

[ocr errors]

The Wallachian language not only by Gibbon, was called Dacia Aureliami, and preserves many traces of the Latin lan- was the district south of the Danube, guage, but is derived from it, like the lying between Upper and Lower Mrusia. Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. -S. The “now prorince of Dacia,” mentioned b See note on vol. i. p. 375.-S.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

While the vigorous and moderate conduct of Aurelian restored the Illyrian frontier, the nation of the Alemanni 2violated The Ale the conditions of peace which either Gallienus had pur- manuic war. chased, or Claudius had imposed, and, inflamed by their impatient youth, suddenly flew to arms. Forty thousand horse appeared in the field, 26 and the numbers of the infantry doubled those of the cavalry.27 The first objects of their avarice were a few cities of the Rhætian frontier ; but their hopes soon rising with success, the rapid march of the Alemanni traced a line of devastation from the Danube to the Po.25

The emperor was almost at the same time informed of the irruption, and of the retreat, of the barbarians. Collecting an a.d. 270. active body of troops, he marched with silence and celerity September. along the skirts of the Hercynian forest; and the Alemanni, laden with the spoils of Italy, arrived at the Danube, without suspecting that on the opposite bank, and in an advantageous post, a Roman army lay concealed and prepared to intercept their return. Aurelian indulged the fatal security of the barbarians, and permitted about half their forces to pass the river without disturbance and without precaution. Their situation and astonishment gave him an easy victory; his skilful couduct improved the advantage. Disposing the legions in a semicircular form, he advanced the two horns of the crescent across the Danube, and, wheeling them on a sudden towards the centre, enclosed the rear of the German host. The dismayed barbarians, on whatsoever side they cast their eyes, belield with despair a wasted country, a deep and rapid stream, a victorious and implacable enemy.

Reduced to this distressed condition, the Alemanni no longer disdained to sue for peace. Aurelian received their ambassadors at the head of his camp, and with every circumstance of martial pomp that could display the greatness and discipline of Rome. The legions stood to their arms in well-ordered ranks and awful silence. The principal commanders, distinguished by the ensigns of their rank, appeared on horseback on either side of the Imperial throne. Behind

* Dexippus, p. 7-12 [ed. Paris; p. 5, sqq ed. Ven.; p. 11, 879. ed Bonn). Zosim 18, 1. i. (c. 49) p. 43. Vopiscus in Aurelian. in Hist. August. However these historians differ in names (Alemanni, Juthungi, and Marcomanni), it is evident that they mean the same people and the same war; but it requires some care to conciliate and explain them.

as Cantoclarus, with his usual accuracy, chooses to translate three hundred thousand; his version is equally repugnant to sense and to grammar.

31 We inay remark, as an instance of bad taste, that Dexippus applies to the light infantry of the Alemanni the technical terms proper only to the Grecian phalanx.

** In Dexippus we at present read Rhodanus: de Valois very judiciously alten the worl to Eridanus. Niebuhr, in his edition of Dexippus (p. 19, ed. Bonn), keeps Rät niiuius.--.i

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

ment.31

the throne the consecrated images of the emperor and his predecessors,

,29 tl e golden eagles, and the various titles of the legions, engraved in letters of gold, were exalted in the air on lofty pikes covered with silver. When Aurelian assumed his seat, his manly grace and majestic figure 30 taught the barbarians to revere the person as well as the purple of their conqueror. The ambassadors fell prostrate on the ground in silence. They were commanded to rise, and permitted to speak. By the assistance of interpreters they extenuated their perfidy, magnified their exploits, expatiated on the vicissitudes of fortune and the advantages of peace, and, with an ill-timed confidence, demanded a large subsidy, as the price of the alliance which they offered to the Romans. The answer of the emperor was stern and imperious. He treated their offer with contempt, and their demand with indignation ; reproached the barbarians that they were as ignorant of the arts of war as of the laws of peace; and finally dismissed them with the choice only of submitting to his unconditioned mercy, or awaiting the utinost severity of his resent

Aurelian had resigned a distant province to the Goths; but it was dangerous to trust or to pardon these perfidious barbarians, whose formidable power kept Italy itself in perpetual alarms. Immediately after this conference it should seem that some un

expected emergency required the emperor's presence in

Pannonia. He devolved on his lieutenants the care of finishing the destruction of the Alemanni, either by the sword, or by the surer operation of famine. But an active despair has often triumphed over the indolent assurance of success. The barbarians, finding it impossible to traverse the Danube and the Roman camp, broke through the posts in their rear, which were more feebly or less carefully guarded ; and with incredible diligence, but by a different road, returned towards the mountains of Italy. Aurelian, who considered the war as totally extinguished, received the mortifying intelligence of the escape of the Alemanni, and of the ravage which they already committed in the territory of Milan. The legions were commanded to follow, with as much expedition as those heavy bodies were capable of exerting, the rapid flight of an enemy, whose infantry and cavalry moved with almost equal swiftness. A few days afterwards the emperor himself marched to the relief of Italy, at the head of a chosen body of auxiliaries (among whom were the hostages and

The Alemanni invade Italy,

29 The emperor Claudius was certainly of the number; but we are ignorant how far this mark of respect was extended; if to Cæsar and Augustus, it must have produced & very awful spectacle; a long line of the masters of the world.

30 Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 210. (Aurel. c. 6.] 31 Dexippus gives them a subtle and prolix oration, worthy of a Grecian sophist 12 Hist. August. p. 215. (Vopisc. Aurel. c. 18.1

« ForrigeFortsett »