« ForrigeFortsett »
14, and the inconsiderabout this time, 31 diery obstacle.
The firmness of Zenobia was supported by the hope that in a very short time famine would compel the Roman army to repass the desert; and by the reasonable expectation that the master of kings of the East, and particularly the Persian monarch, and of the would arm in the defence of their most natural ally. But ". fortune and the perseverance of Aurelian overcame every obstacle. The death of Sapor, which happened about this time, distracted the councils of Persia, and the inconsiderable succours that attempted to relieve Palmyra were easily intercepted either by the arms or the liberality of the emperor. From every part of Syria a regular succession of convoys safely arrived in the camp, which was increased by the return of Probus with his victorious troops from the conquest of Egypt. It was then that Zenobia resolved to fly. She mounted the flcetest of her dromedaries, 72 and had already reached the banks of the Euphrates, about sixty miles from Palmyra, when she was overtaken by the pursuit of Aurelian's light horse, seized and brought back a captive to the feet of the emperor. Her capital soon afterwards surrendered, and was treated with unex
A.D. 273. pected lenity. The arms, horses, and camels, with an immense treasure of gold, silver, silk, and precious stones, were all delivered to the conqueror, who, leaving only a garrison of six hundred archers, returned to Emesa, and employed some time in the distribution of rewards and punishments at the end of so memorable a war, which restored to the obedience of Rome those provinces that had renounced their allegiance since the captivity of Valerian.
When the Syrian queen was brought into the presence of Aurelian, he sternly asked her, How she had presumed to rise in arms Behaviour against the emperors of Rome? The answer of Zenobia of Zenobia. was a prudent mixture of respect and firmness. “Because I dis“ dained to consider as Roman emperors an Aureolus or a Gallienus. “ You alone I acknowledge as my conqueror and my sovereign.” 73 But as female fortitude is commonly artificial, so it is seldom steady or consistent. The courage of Zenobia deserted her in the hour of trial; she trembled at the angry clamours of the soldiers, who called aloud for her immediate execution, forgot the generous despair of Cleopatra, which she had proposed as her model, and ignominiously
* Froin a very doubtful chronology I have endeavoured to extract the most probable date. *** Hist. August. p. 218. [Vopisc. Aurel. c. 28.] Zosimus, l. i. (c. 55p. 50. Though the camel is a heavy boast of burden, the dromedary, which is either of the same or of a kindred species, is used by the natives of Asia and Africa on all occasions *bich require celerity. The Arabs affirm that he will run over as much ground in vee day as their fleetest horses can perform in eight or ten. See Buffon, Hist. Naturelle, tom. xi. p. 222; and Shaw's Travels, p. 167.
* Pollio in Hist. August. p. 199. [xxx. Tyranni, de Zenobia, c. 29.)
REBELLION AND RUIN OF PALMYRA.
and ruin of
purchased life by the sacrifice of her fame and her friends. It was to their counsels, which governed the weakness of her sex, that she imputed the guilt of her obstinate resistance; it was on their heads that she directed the vengeance of the cruel Aurelian. The fame of Longinus, who was included among the numerous and perhaps innocent victims of her fear, will survive that of the queen who betrayed, or the tyrant who condemned him. Genius and learning were incapable of moving a fierce unlettered soldier, but they had served to elevate and harmonise the soul of Longinus. Without uttering a complaint, he calmly followed the executioner, pitying his unhappy mistress, and bestowing comfort on his afflicted friends. **
Returning from the conquest of the East, Aurelian had already Rebellion crossed the Streights which divide Europe from Asia, when Palmyra. he was provoked by the intelligence that the Palmyrenians had massacred the governor and garrison which he had left among them, and again erected the standard of revolt. Without a moment's deliberation, he once more turned his face towards Syria. Antioch vas alarmed by his rapid approach, and the helpless city of Palmyra felt the irresistible weight of his resentment. We have a letter of Aurelian liimself, in which he acknowledges 75 that old men, women, children, and peasants, had been involved in that dreadful execution, which should have been confined to armed rebellion; and although his principal concern seems directed to the re-establishment of a temple of the Sun, he discovers some pity for the remnant of the Palmyrenians, to whom he grants the permission of rebuilding and inhabiting their city. But it is easier to destroy than to restore.
The seat of commerce, of arts, and of Zenobia, gradually sunk into an obscure town, a trifling fortress, and at length a miserable village. The present citizens of Palmyra, consisting of thirty or forty families, have erected their mud-cottages within the spacious court of a magnificent temple. Another and a last labour still awaited the indefatigable Aurelian;
to suppress a dangerous though obscure rebel, who, during suppresses the revolt of Palmyra, had arisen on the banks of the Nile. of Firmus Firmus, the friend and ally, as he proudly styled himself, in Egypt. of Odenathus and Zenobia, was no more than a wealthy merchant of Egypt. In the course of his trade to India he had formed very intimate connexions with the Saracens and the Blemmyes, whose situation, on either coast of the Red Sea, gave them an easy introduction into the Upper Egypt. The Egyptians he inflamed with the hope of freedom, and, at the head of their furious multitude,
nifice, erected citizens
74 Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 219. [Aurel.c. 30.) Zosimus, 1. i. (c. 56, p. 49]p. 51 :5 Hist. August. p. 219. [Vopisc. Aurel. c. 31.]
broke into the city of Alexandria, where he assumed the Imperial purple, coined money, published edicts, and raised an army, which, as he vainly boasted, he was capable of maintaining from the sole profits of his paper trade. Such troops were a feeble defence against the approach of Aurelian ; and it seems almost unnecessary to relate that Firinus was routed, taken, tortured, and put to death."6 Aurelian might now congratulate the senate, the people, and himself, that, in little more than three years, he had restored universal peace and order to the Roman world.
Since the foundation of Rome no general had more nobly deserved a triumph than Aurelian; nor was a triumph ever cele- A.D. 274.
Triumph of brated with superior pride and magnificence." The pomp Aurelian. was opened by twenty elephants, four royal tigers, and above two hundred of the most curious animals from every climate of the North, the East, and the South. They were followed by sixteen hundred gladiators, devoted to the cruel amusement of the amphitheatre. The wealth of Asia, the arms and ensigns of so many conquered nations, and the magnificent plate and wardrobe of the Syrian queen, were disposed in exact symmetry or artful disorder. The ambassadors of the most remote parts of the earth, of Æthiopia, Arabia, Persia, Bactriana, India, and China, all remarkable by their rich or singular dresses, displayed the fame and power of the Roman emperor, who exposed likewise to the public view the presents that he had received, and particularly a great number of crowns of gold, the offerings of grateful cities. The victories of Aurelian were attested by the long train of captives who reluctantly attended his triumph-Goths, Vandals, Sarmatians, Alemanni, Franks, Gauls, Syrians, and Egyptians. Each people was distinguished by its peculiar inscription, and the title of Amazons was bestowed on ten martial heroines of the Gothic nation who had been taken in arms.78 But every eye, disregarding the crowd of captives, was fixed on the emperor Tetricus
* See Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 220, 242. (Aurel, c. 32; Firmus, c. 2.] As an instance of luxury, it is observed that he had glass windows. He was remarkable for his strength and appetite, his courage and dexterity. Froin the letter of Aurelian we may justly infer that Firmus was the last of the rebels, and consequently that Tetricus was already suppressed.
7 See the triumph of Aurelian, described by Vopiscus. He relates the particulars with his usual minuteness; and on this occasion they happen to be interesting. Hist. August. p. 220. (Vopisc. Aurel. c. 33, seq.]
7e Among barbarous nations women have often combated by the side of their husbands. But it is almost impossible that a society of Amazons should ever have existed either in the old or new world."
* Klaproth's theory on the origin of the females may have endeavoured, for a such traditions is at least recoinmended time, to maintain their independence in by its ingenuity. The males of a tribe their camp or village till their children having gone out on a marauding expedi- grew up. Travels, ch. xxx. Eng. trans tion, and having been cut off to a man, -M.
and the queen of the East. The former, as well as his son, whom he had created Augustus, was dressed in Gallic trowsers, 79 a saffron tunic, and a robe of purple. The beauteous figure of Zenobia was confined by fetters of gold; a slave supported the gold chain which encircled her neck, and she almost fainted under the intolerable weight of jewels. She preceded on foot the magnificent chariot in which she once hoped to enter the gates of Rome. It was followed by two other chariots, still more sumptuous, of Odenathus and of the Persian monarch. The triumphal car of Aurelian (it had formerly been used by a Gothic king) was drawn, on this memorable occasion, either by four stags or by four elephants. The most illustrious of the senate, the people, and the army closed the solemn procession. Unfeigned joy, wonder, and gratitude swelled the acclamations of the multitude; but the satisfaction of the senate was clouded by the appearance of Tetricus; nor could they suppress a rising murmur that the haughty emperor should thus expose to public ignominy the person of a Roman and a magistrate. 81
But, however in the treatment of his unfortunate rivals Aurelian His treat might indulge his pride, he behaved towards them with a Tetricus and generous clemency which was seldom exercised by the Zenobia. ancient conquerors. Princes who, without success, had defended their throne or freedom, were frequently strangled in prison as soon as the triumphal pomp ascended the Capitol. These usurpers, whom their defeat had convicted of the crime of treason, were permitted to spend their lives in affluence and honourable repose. The emperor presented Zenobia with an elegant villa at Tibur or Tivoli, about twenty miles from the capital; the Syrian queen insensibly sunk into a Roman matron, her daughters married into noble families, and her race was not yet extinct in the fifth century.82 Tetricus and his son were reinstated in their rank and fortunes. They crected on the Cælian hill a magnificent palace, and, as soon as it was finished,
79 The use of bracca, breeches, or trowsers, was still considered in Italy as a Gallic and barbarian fashion. The Romans, however, had made great advances towards it. To encircle the legs and thighs with fascice, or bands, was understood, in the time of Pompey and Horace, to be a proof of ill health or effeminacy. In the age of Trajan the custom was confined to the rich and luxurious. It gradually was adopted by the meanest of the people. See a very curious note of Casaubon, ad Sueton. in August. c. 82.
B Most probably the former; the latter, seen on the medals of Aurelian, only denote (according to the learned Cardinal Norris) an oriental victory.
81 The expression of Calpurnius (Eclog. i. 50), Nullos ducet captiva triumphos, as applied to Rome, contains a very manifest allusion and censure.
82 Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 199. [xxx. Tyranni, Zenobia, c. 29.] Hieronym. in Chron. *Prosper in Chron. Baronius supposes that Zenobius, bishop of Florence in the time of St. Ambrose, was of her family.
Although Gibbon quotes Calpurnius his date is quite uncertain. omitb's Dict us a contemporary (see below, note 93), of Biogr. vol. i. p. 582.-S.
invited Aurelian to supper. On his entrance he was agreeably surprised with a picture which represented their singular history,
They were delincated offering to the emperor a civic crown and the sceptre of Gaul, and again receiving at his hands the ornaments of the senatorial dignity. The father was afterwards invested with the government of Lucania,83 and Aurelian, who soon admitted the abdicated monarch to his friendship and conversation, familiarly asked him, Whether it were not more desirable to administer a province of Italy than to reign beyond the Alps? The son long continued a respectable member of the senate ; nor was there any one of the Roman nobility more esteemed by Aurelian, as well as by his successors. 84
So long and so various was the pomp of Aurelian's triumph, that, although it opened with the dawn of day, the slow majesty His magi. of the procession ascended not the Capitol before the ninth devotion. hour; and it was already dark when the emperor returned to the palace. The festival was protracted by theatrical representations, the games of the circus, the hunting of wild beasts, combats of gladiators, and naval engagements. Liberal donatives were distributed to the army and people, and several institutions, agreeable or beneficial to the city, contributed to perpetuate the glory of Aurelian. A considerable portion of his oriental spoils was consecrated to the gods of Rome; the Capitol, and every other temple, glittered with the offerings of his ostentatious piety; and the temple of the Sun alone received above fifteen thousand pounds of gold.85 This last was a magnificent structure, erected by the emperor on the side of the Quirinal hill, and dedicated, soon after the triumph, to that deity whom Aurelian adored as the parent of his life and fortunes. His inother had been an inferior priestess in a chapel of the Sun; a peculiar devotion to the god of Light was a sentiment which the fortunate peasant imbibed in his infancy; and every step of his elevation, every victory of his reign, fortified superstition by gratitude. 86
The arms of Aurelian had vanquished the foreign and domestic foes of the republic. We are assured that, by his salutary Heo rigour, crimes and factions, mischievous arts and pernicious presses a connivance, the luxuriant growth of a feeble and oppressive Rome.
* Vopisc. in Hist. August. p. 222. [Aurel. c. 39.] Eutropius, ix, 13 . Victor junior. "But Pollio, in Hist. August. p. 196 (xxx. Tyranni de Tetrico, sen. c. 23), says that Tetricus was inade corrector of all Italy.
Hist. August. p. 197. [Vopisc, xxx. Tyranni, de Tetrico jun. c. 24.)
Vopiscus in Hist. August. 222. (Aurel, c. 39.] Zosimus, 1. i. (c. 61, p. 53) p. 56. He placed in it the inages of Belus and of the Sun, which he had brought from Palrayra. It was dedicated in the fourth year of his reign (Euseb. in Chron. [an. CCLXXV.]), but was most assuredly begun immediately on his accession.
* See in the Augustan History, p. 210 [Vopisc. Aurel. c. 5), the omens of his fortune. His devotion to the sun appears in his letters, on his medals, and is inen woned in the Cæsars of Julian. Cominentaire de Spanheim, p. 109.