« ForrigeFortsett »
TRIUMPH OF PHOBUS.
adherents. Their guilt was deeper, and their hopes more sanguine, than those of their experienced leader.
The revolt of Saturninus was scarcely extinguished in the East, A.D. 280, before new troubles were excited in the West by the rebel
lion of Bonosus and Proculus in Gaul. The most distino guished merit of those two officers was their respective prowess, of the one in the combats of Bacchus, of the other in those of Venus,53 yet neither of them were destitute of courage and capacity, and both sustained with honour the august character which the fear of punishment had engaged them to assume, till they sunk at length beneath the superior genius of Probus. He used the victory with his accustomed moderation, and spared the fortunes as well as the lives of their innocent families.54
The arms of Probus had now suppressed all the foreign and
31. domestic enemies of the state. His mild but steady admiricmper of nistration confirmed the re-establishment of the public tranProbus. quillity; nor was there left in the provinces a hostile barbarian, a tyrant, or even a robber, to revive the memory of past disorders. It was time that the emperor should revisit Rome, and celebrate his own glory and the general happiness. The triumph due to the valour of Probus was conducted with a magnificence suitable to his fortune; and the people, who had so lately admired the trophies of Aurelian, gazed with equal pleasure on those of his heroic successor. 55 We cannot on this occasion forget the desperate courage of about fourscore gladiators, reserved, with near six hundred others, for the inhuman sports of the amphitheatre. Disdaining to shed their blood for the amusement of the populace, they killed their keepers, broke from the place of their confinement, and filled the streets of Rome with blood and confusion. After an obstinate resistance, they were overpowered and cut in pieces by the regular forces; but they obtained at least an honourable death, and the satisfaction of a just revenge. 56
streeters, broke from the amusemef the amphi
The military discipline which reigned in the camps of Probus was ... less cruel than that of Aurelian, but it was equally rigid
and exact. The latter had punished the irregularities of 53 A very surprising instance is recorded of the prowess of Proculus. He had taken one hundred Sarmatian virgins. The rest of the story he must relate in his own language: Ex his unâ nocte decem inivi; omnes tamen, quod in me erat, mulieres intra dies quindecim reddidi. Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 246 [in Proculo, 12].
54 Proculus, who was a native of Albengue on the Genoese coast, armed two thousand of his own slaves. His riches were great, but they were acquired by robbery. It was afterwards a saying of his family, sibi non placere esse vel principes vel latrones Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 247 [in Proculo, 13].
sf Hist. August. p. 240. (Vopisc. in Probo, c. 19.] so Zosim. 1. i. [c. 71] p. 66.
sticoes, and by turns Hannibal that of idleness; he coast
the soldiers with unrelenting severity, the former prevented them by employing the legions in constant and useful labours. When Probus commanded in Egypt, he executed many considerable works for the splendour and benefit of that rich country. The navigation of the Nile, so iinportant to Rome itself, was improved; and temples, bridges, porticoes, and palaces, were constructed by the hands of the soldiers, who acted by turns as architects, as engineers, and as husbandmen. It was reported of Hannibal that, in order to preserve his troops from the dangerous temptations of idleness, he had obliged them to form large plantations of olive-trees along the coast of Africa.58 From a similar principle, Probus exercised his legions in covering with rich vineyards the hills of Gaul and Pannonia, and two considerable spots are described which were entirely dug and planted by military labour.59 One of these, known under the name of Mount Alma, was situated near Sirmium, the country where Probus was born, for which he ever retained a partial affection, and whose gratitude he endeavoured to secure, by converting into tillage a large and unhealthy tract of marshy ground. An army thus employed constituted perhaps the most useful as well as the bravest portion of Roman subjects.
But, in the prosecution of a favourite scheme, the best of men, satisfied with the rectitude of their intentions, are subject
His death. to forget the bounds of moderation ; nor did Probus himself sufficiently consult the patience and disposition of his fierce legionaries. The dangers of the military profession seem only to be compensated by a life of pleasure and idleness; but if the duties of the soldier are incessantly aggravated by the labours of the peasant, he will at last sink under the intolerable burden or shake it off with indignation. The imprudence of Probus is said to have inflamed the discontent of his troops. More attentive to the interests of mankind than to those of the army, he expressed the vain hope that, by the establishment of universal peace, he should soon abolish the necessity of a standing and mercenary force. The unguarded ex
Legionaries Sotly consult moderation :
37 Hist. August. p. 236. (Vopisc. in Probo, c. 9.]
Aurel. Victor. in Prob. [De Cæsar. c. 37.] But the policy of Hannibal, unnoticed by any more ancient writer, is irreconcileable with the history of his life. He left Africa when he was nine years old, returned to it when he was forty-five, and immo diately lost his army in the decisive battle of Zama. Livius, XXX. 35.
** Hist. August. p. 240. (Vopisc. Probus, c. 18.) Eutrop. ix. 17 . Aurel. Victor. in Prob. Victor Junior. He revoked the prohibition of Domitian, and granted a general permission of planting vines to the Gauls, the Britons, and the Pannonians.
Julian (Cæsares, p. 314] bestows a severe, and indeed excessive, censure on the rigour of Probus, who, as he thinks, almost deserved his fate.
Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 241 [in Probo, c. 20). He lavishes on this idle hope a large stock of very foolish eloquence.
pression proved fatal to him. In one of the hottes.. days of summer, as he severely urged the unwholesome labour of draining the marshes of Sirmium, the soldiers, impatient of fatigue, on a sudden threw down their tools, grasped their arms, and broke out into a furious mutiny. The emperor, conscious of his danger, took refuge in a lofty tower constructed for the purpose of surveying the progress of the
2. work.62 The tower was instantly forced, and a thousand August. swords were plunged at once into the bosom of the unfortunate Probus. The rage of the troops subsided as soon as it had been gratified. They then lamented their fatal rashness, forgot the severity of the emperor whom they had massacred, and hastened to perpetuate, by an honourable monument, the memory of his virtues and victories.63
When the legions had indulged their grief and repentance for the Election death of Probus, their unanimous consent declared Carus, racter of his Prætorianopræfect, the most deserving of the Imperial (A.D. 282.] throne. Every circumstance that relates to this prince appears of a mixed and doubtful nature. He gloried in the title of Roman Citizen ; and affected to compare the purity of his blood with the foreign, and even barbarous, origin of the preceding emperors; yet the most inquisitive of his contemporaries, very far from admitting his claim, have variously deduced his own birth, or that of his parents, from Illyricum, from Gaul, or from Africa. 64 Though a soldier, he had received a learned education; though a senator, he was invested with the first dignity of the army; and in an age when the civil and military professions began to be irrecoverably separated from each other, they were united in the person of Carus. Notwithstanding the severe justice which he exercised against the assassins of Probus, to whose favour and esteem he was highly indebted, he could not escape the suspicion of being accessary to a deed from whence he derived the principal advantage. He enjoyed, at least before his elevation, an acknowledged character of virtue and abilities ;65 put his austere temper insensibly degenerated into moroseness and cruelty ;
62 Turris ferrata. It seems to have been a moveable tower, and cased with iron.
63 [Hic] Probus, et vere prohus_situs est; Victor omnium gentium Barbararum: victor etiam tyrannorum. (Vopisc. Prob. c. 21.]
64 Yet all this may be conciliated. He was born at Narbonne in Illyricum, confounded by Eutropius with the more famous city of that name in Gaul. His father might be an African, and his mother a noble Roman. Carus himself was educated in the capital. See Scaliger, Animadversion. ad Euseb. Chron. p. 241.
65 Probus had requested of the senate an equestrian statue and a marble palace, at the public expense, as a just recompense of the singular merit of Carus. Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 249 [in Caro, c. 6].
• Probus survived Aug. 29, A.D. 282, at Alexandria. See Clinton, Fasti Rom, because coins after that date were issued vol. i. p. 322.-S.
ments of tbe senate
and the imperfect writers of his life almost hesitate whether they shall not rank him in the number of Roman tyrants.66 When Carus assumed the purple he was about sixty years of age, and his two sons, Carinus and Numerian, had already attained the season of manhood. 67
The authority of the senate expired with Probus; nor was the repentance of the soldiers displayed by the same dutiful the sentiregard for the civil power which they had testified after the most unfortunate death of Aurelian. The election of Carus was and people. decided without expecting the approbation of the senate, and the new emperor contented himself with announcing, in a cold and stately epistle, that he had ascended the vacant throne.68 A behaviour so very opposite to that of his ainiable predecessor afforded no favourable presage of the new reign : and the Romans, deprived of power and freedom, asserted their privilege of licentious murmurs. 69 The voice of congratulation and flattery was not however silent; and we may still peruse, with pleasure and contempt, an eclogue which was composed on the accession of the emperor Carus. Two shepherds, avoiding the noontide heat, retire into the cave of Faunus. On a spreading beech they discover some recent characters. The rural deity had described, in prophetic verses, the felicity promised to the empire under the reign of so great a prince. Faunus hails the approach of that hero, who, receiving on his shoulders the sinking weight of the Roman world, shall extinguish war and faction, and once again restore the innocence and security of the golden age.70
It is more than probable that these elegant trifles never reached the ears of a veteran general who, with the consent of the legions, was preparing to execute the long-suspended feats the design of the Persian war. Before his departure for this dis- and marches tant expedition, Carus conferred on his two sons, Carinus and Numerian, the title of Cæsar, and, investing the former with almost an equal share of the Imperial power, directed the young prince first to suppress some troubles which had arisen in Gaul, and afterwards to fix the seat of his residence at Rome, and to assume the government of the Western provinces. The safety of Illyricum
and marches into the East.
6 Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 242, 249 (in Probo, c. 24 ; in Caro, c. 3]. Julian excludes the emperor Carus and both his sons from the banquet of the Cæsars.
* John Malala, tom. i. p. 401 [ed. Oxon.; p. 129, ed. Ven.; p. 303, ed. Bonn). But the authority of that ignorant Greek is very slight. He ridiculously derives from Carus the city of Carrhæ and the province of Caria, the latter of which is mentioned by Homer.
* Hist. August. p. 249. Vopisc. Carus, c. 5.] Carus congratulated the senate that one of their own order was made emperor.
$ Hist. August. p. 242. (Vopisc. Probus, c. 24.]
70 Soe the first eclogue of Calpurnius. The design of it is preferred by Fontenelle to that of Virgil's Pollio. See toin, iii. p. 148. [See note, p. 28.-S.]
7 Hist. August. p. 250. (Vopisc. Carus, c.7.] Eutropius, ix. 18 (12]. Pagi. A unal 72 Agathias, l. iv. p. 135 [ed. Paris; p. 94, ed. Ven.; C, 24, p. 261, ed. Bonn). We find one of his sayings in the Bibliothèque Orientale of M. d'Herbelot. “The defini. tion of humanity includes all other virtues.” b.
A.D. 283, He gives audience to the Persian ambas
was confirmed by a memorable defeat of the Sarmatians; sixteen thousand of those barbarians remained on the field of battle, and the number of captives amounted to twenty thousand. The old emperor, animated with the fame and prospect of victory, pursued his march, in the midst of winter, through the countries of Thrace and Asia Minor, and at length, with his younger son Numerian, arrived on the confines of the Persian monarchy. There, encamping on the summit of a lofty mountain, he pointed out to his troops the opulence and luxury of the enemy whom they were about to invade. The successor of Artaxerxes," Varanes, or Bahram, though he had
subdued the Segestans, one of the most warlike nations of
Upper Asia," was alarmed at the approach of the Romans,
s and endeavoured to retard their progress by a negotiation sadors. of peace. His ambassadors entered the camp about sunset, at the time when the troops were satisfying their hunger with a frugal repast. The Persians expressed their desire of being introduced to the presence of the Roman emperor. They were at length conducted to a soldier who was seated on the grass. A piece of stale bacon and a few hard peas composed his supper. A coarse woollen garment of purple was the only circumstance that announced his dignity. The conference was conducted with the same disregard of courtly elegance. Carus, taking off a cap which he wore to conceal his baldness, assured the ambassadors that, unless their master acknowledged the superiority of Rome, he would speedily render Persia as naked of trees as his own head was destitute of hair. 73 Notwithstanding some traces of art and preparation, we may discover in this scene the manners of Carus, and the severe simplicity which the martial princes who suc
73 Synesius tells this story of Carinus; and it is much more natural to understand it of Carus than (as Petavius and Tillemont choose to do) of Probus.
* Three monarchs had intervened, Sapor all that had passed, and conjured Bahram, (Shahpour), Hormisdas (Hormooz), Ÿa- in the name of his glorious ancestors, to ranes or Baharam the First.-M. (See change his conduct and save himself from vol. i. p. 348.-S.)
destruction. The king was much moved, The manner in which his life was saved professed himself most penitent, and saií by the Chief Pontiff from a conspiracy of he was resolved his future life should his nobles is as remarkable as his saying. prove his sincerity. The overjoyed High“ By the advice (of the pontiff) all the Priest, delighted at this success, made a nobles absented themselves from court. signal, at which all the nobles and attend. The king wandered through his palace ants were in an instant, as if by magic, in alone: he saw no one: all was silence their usual places. The monarch now around. He became alarmed and dis- perceived that only one opinion prevailed tressed. At last the Chief Pontiff ap- on his past conduct. He repeated therepeared, and bowed his head in apparent fore to his nobles all he had said to the misery, but spoke not a word. The king Chief Pontiff, and his future reign was entreated him to declare what had hap- unstained by cruelty or oppression," Hal. pened. The virtuous man boldly related colm's Persia, i. 79,-M.