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CLEMENCY AND JUSTICE OF CLAUDIUS.
Such ostentatious clemency discovers less of the real character of Claudius than a trifling circumstance in which he seems to have consulted only the dictates of his heart. The frequent and justice rebellions of the provinces had involved almost every person in the guilt of treason, almost every estate in the case of confiscation ; and Gallienus often displayed his liberality by distributing among his officers the property of his subjects. On the accession of Claudius, an old woman threw herself at his feet and complained that a general of the late emperor had obtained an arbitrary grant of her patrimony. This general was Claudius himself, who had not entirely escaped the contagion of the times. The emperor blushed at the reproach, but deserved the confidence which she had reposed in his equity. The confession of his fault was accompanied with immediate and ample restitution.
In the arduous task which Claudius had undertaken of restoring the empire to its ancient splendour, it was first necessary to He underrevive among his troops a sense of order and obedience. takes the With the authority of a veteran commander, he repre
of the army. sented to them that the relaxation of discipline had introduced a long train of disorders, the effects of which were at length experienced by the soldiers themselves; that a people ruined by oppression, and indolent from despair, could no longer supply a numerous army with the means of luxury, or even of subsistence; that the danger of each individual bad increased with the despotism of the military order, since princes who tremble on the throne will guard their safety by the instant sacrifice of every obnoxious subject. The emperor expatiated on the mischiefs of a lawless caprice, which the soldiers could only gratify at the expense of their own blood, as their seditious elections had so frequently been followed by civil wars, which consumed the flower of the legions either in the field of battle or in the cruel abuse of victory. He painted in the most lively colours the exhausted state of the treasury, the desolation of the provinces, the disgrace of the Roman name, and the insolent triumph of rapacious barbarians. It was against those barbarians, he declared, that he intended to point the first effort of their arms. Tetricus might reign for a while over the West, and even Zenobia might preserve the
the damnation of Gallienus. The senate decreed that his relations and servants abould be thrown down headlong from the Gemonian stairs. An obnoxious officer of the revenge had his eyes torn out whilst under examination.
Zonaras, 1. xii. (c. 205) p. 635 (ed. Paris; p. 604, ed. Bonn).
The expression is curious : "terram matrem deosque inferos precaretur, rodes impian uti Gallieno dareut."- M.
A.D. 269. The Goths invade the
doininion of the East. These usurpers were his personal adversaries, nor could he think of indulging any private resentment till he had saved an empire whose impending ruin would, unless it was timely prevented, crush both the army and the people. The various nations of Germany and Sarmatia who fought under
the Gothic standard had already collected an armament
more formidable than any which had yet issued from empire. the Euxine. On the banks of the Dniester, one of the great rivers that discharge themselves into that sea, they constructed a fleet of two thousand, or even of six thousand vessels ;' numbers which, however incredible they may seem, would have been insufficient to transport their pretended army of three hundred and twenty thousand barbarians. Whatever might be the real strength of the Goths, the vigour and success of the expedition were not adequate to the greatness of the preparations. In their passage through the Bosphorus the unskilful pilots were overpowered by the violence of the current; and while the multitude of their ships were crowded in a narrow channel, many were dashed against each other or against the shore. The barbarians made several descents on the coasts both of Europe and Asia ; but the open country was already plundered, and they were repulsed with shame and loss from the fortified cities which they assaulted. A spirit of discouragement and division arose in the fleet, and some of their chiefs sailed away towards the islands of Crete and Cyprus; but the main body, pursuing a more steady course, anchored at length near the foot of Mount Athos, and assaulted the city of Thessalonica, the wealthy capital of all the Macedonian provinces. Their attacks, in which they displayed a fierce but artless bravery, were soon interrupted by the rapid approach of Claudius, hastening to a scene of action that deserved the presence of a warlike prince at the head of the remaining powers of the empire. Impatient for battle, the Goths immediately broke up their camp, relinquished the siege of Thessalonica, left their navy at the foot of Mount Athos, traversed the hills of Macedonia, and pressed forwards to engage the last defence of Italy.
We still possess an original letter addressed by Claudius to the Distress and senate and people on this memorable occasion. Conscript
fathers,” says the emperor, “ know that three hundred “and twenty thousand Goths have invaded the Roman territory. If
10 Zonaras on this occasion mentions Posthumus; but the registers of the senate (Hist. August, p. 203. [Pollio. Claud. c. 4.]) prove that Tetricus was already emperor of the western provinces.
"The Augustan History mentions the smaller, Zonaras the larger, aumber; the lively fancy of Montesquieu induced him to prefer the latter.
firmness of Claudius.
“ I vanquish them, your gratitude will reward my services. Should “I fall, remember that I am the successor of Gallienus. The “ whole republic is fatigued and exhausted. We shall fight after “ Valerian, after Ingenuus, Regillianus, Lollianus, Posthumus, “ Celsus, and a thousand others, whom a just contempt for Gallienus “ provoked into rebellion. We are in want of darts, of spears, and " of shields. The strength of the empire, Gaul, and Spain, are “ usurped by Tetricus; and we blush to acknowledge that the “ archers of the East serve under the banners of Zenobia. Whatever “ we shall perform will be sufficiently great." 12 The melancholy firmness of this epistle announces a hero careless of his fate, conscious of his danger, but still deriving a well-grounded hope from the resources of his own mind.
The event surpassed his own expectations and those of the world. By the most signal victories he delivered the empire from His victory this host of barbarians, and was distinguished by posterity Goths. under the glorious appellation of the Gothic Claudius. The imperfect historians of an irregular war 3 do not enable us to describe the order and circumstances of his exploits; but, if we could be indulged in the allusion, we might distribute into three acts this memorable tragedy. I. The decisive battle was fought near Naissus, a city of Dardania. The legions at first gave way, oppressed by numbers and dismayed by misfortunes. Their ruin was inevitable, had not the abilities of their emperor prepared a seasonable relief. A large detachment, rising out of the secret and difficult passes of the mountains, which by his order they had occupied, suddenly assailed the rear of the victorious Goths. The favourable instant was improved by the activity of Claudius. He revived the courage of his troops, restored their ranks, and pressed the barbarians on every side. Fifty thousand men are reported to have been slain in the battle of Naissus. Several large bodies of barbarians, covering their retreat with a moveable fortification of waggons, retired, or rather escaped, from the field of slaughter. II. We may presume that some insurmountable difficulty — the fatigue, perhaps, or the disobedience, of the conquerors — prevented Claudius from completing in one day the destruction of the Goths. The war was diffused over the provinces of Mæsia, Thrace, and Macedonia, and its operations drawn out into a variety of marches, surprises, and tumultuary engagements, as well
ictorious Ger they had
13 Trebell. Pollio in Hist. August. p. 204. [Claud. c. 7.]
13 Hist. August, in Claud. Aurelian, et Prob. Zosimus, l. i. [c. 42-46] p. 38-42. Zonaras, I. xii. [c. 26). p. 636 [ed. Paris; p.605, ed. Bonn). Aurel. Victor ir Epitom, Victor Junior in Crear. Eutrop. ix. 3. Euseb. in Chron. [An. CCLXXI."
DEATH OF CLAUDIUS.
oy sea as by land. When the Romans suffered any loss, it was conmonly occasioned by their own cowardice or rashness; but the superior talents of the emperor, his perfect knowledge of the country, and his judicious choice of measures as well as officers, assured on most occasions the success of his arms. The immense booty, the fruit of so inany victories, consisted for the greater part of cattle and slaves. A select body of the Gothic youth was received among the Imperial troops; the remainder was sold into servitude; and so considerable was the number of female captives that every soldier obtained to his share two or three women. A circumstance from which we may conclude that the invaders entertained some designs of settlement as well as of plunder; since even in a naval expedition they were accompanied by their families. III. The loss of their fleet, which was either taken or sunk, had intercepted the retreat of the Goths. A vast circle of Roman posts, distributed with skill, supported with firmness, and gradually closing towards a common centre, forced the barbarians into the most inaccessible parts of Mount Hæmus, where they found a safe refuge, but a very scanty subsistence. During the course of a rigorous winter, in which they were besieged by the emperor's troops, famine and pestilence, desertion and the sword,
continually diminished the imprisoned multitude. On the
return of spring nothing appeared in arms except a hardy and desperate band, the remuant of that mighty host which had embarked at the mouth of the Dniester. The pestilence which swept away such numbers of the barbarians
at length proved fatal to their conqueror. After a short but glorious reign of two years, Claudius expired at Sirmium, amidst the tears and acclamations of his subjects. In his last illness he convened the principal officers of the state and
army, and in their presence recommended Aurelian, one of his generals, as the most deserving of the throne, and the best qualified to execute the great design which he himself had been permitted only to undertake. The virtues of Claudius, his valour, affability, justice, and temperance, his love of fame and of his country, place him in that short list of emperors who added lustre to the Roman purple. Those virtues, however, were celebrated with peculiar zeal and complacency by the courtly writers of the age of Constantine, who was the great-grandson of Crispus, the elder brother of Claudius. The voice of flattery was soon taught to repeat that the
March. Death of the emperor, who recommends Aurelian for his successor.
" According to Zonaras (1. xii. (c. 26] p. 636 [ed. Par.; p. 605, ed. Bonn]) Claudius, before his death, invested him with the purple; but this singular fact is rather con tradicted than confirmed by other writers.
gods, who so hastily had snatched Claudius from the earth, rewarded his merit and piety by the perpetual establishment of the empire in nis family.15
Notwithstanding these oracles, the greatness of the Flavian family (a name which it had pleased them to assume) was deferred above twenty years, and the elevation of Claudius occa- and full of sioned the immediate ruin of his brother Quintilius," who possessed not sufficient moderation or courage to descend into the private station to which the patriotism of the late emperor had condemned him. Without delay or reflection he assumed the purple at Aquileia, where he commanded a considerable force ; and though his reign lasted only seventeen days, he had time to obtain the sanction of the senate and to experience a mutiny of the troops. As soon as he was informed that the great army of the Danube had invested the well-known valour of Aurelian with Imperial power, he sunk under the fame and merit of his rival; and, ordering his veins to be opened, prudently withdrew himself from the unequal contest.6
The general design of this work will not permit us minutely to relate the actions of every emperor after he ascended the throne,
e Origin and much less to deduce the various fortunes of his private life. Services of We shall only observe that the father of Aurelian was a peasant of the territory of Sirmium, who occupied a small farm, the property of Aurelius, a rich senator. His warlike son enlisted in the troops as a common soldier, successively rose to the rank of a centurion, a tribune, the præfect of a legion, the inspector of the camp, the general, or, as it was then called, the duke of a frontier ; and at length, during the Gothic war, exercised the important office of commander-in-chief of the cavalry. In every station he distinguished himself by matchless valour, 17 rigid discipline, and successful
us See the Life of Claudius by Pollio, and the Orations of Mamertinus, Eumenius, and Julian. See likewise the Cæsars of Julian, p. 313. In Julian it was not adulation, but superstition and vanity.
16 Zosimus, 1. i. (c. 47] p. 42. Pollio (Hist. August. p. 206 Claud. c. 12]) allows him virtues, and says, that, like Pertinax, he was killed by the licentious soldiers, According to Dexippus, he died of a disease."
17 Theoclius (as quoted in the Augustan History, p. 211 [Vopisc. Aurel. c. 6]) affirms that in one day he killed with his own hand forty-eight Sarmatians, and in several subsequent engagements nine hundred and fifty. This heroic valour was arimired by the soldiers, and celebrated in their rude songs, the burden of which was mille, mille, mille, occidit.
The ancient writers call him Quin- reign some months.-G. tillus, not Quintilius.-S.
The citation of Dexippus is not Such is the narrative of the greater correct. The words of Pollio are, “Et part of the older historians; but the num- Dexippus quidem Claudium non dicit ber and the variety of his medals seem to occisum, sed mortuun: nec tamen addidit require more time, and give probability to morbo, ut dubium sentire videatur."-S. the report of Zosinus, who makes him