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882 AURELIAN's I,IBERALITY. [CH. x1.
and the sceptre of Gaul, and again receiying at his hands the ornaments of the senatorial dignity. The father was afterwards invested with the government of Lucania; * 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 in 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.t So long and so various was the pomp of Aurelian's triumph, that although it opened with the dawn of day, the slow majesty of the procession ascended not the Capitol before the ninth 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; . the temple of the sun alone received above fifteen thousand pounds of gold. 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 mother had been an inferior priestess in a chapel of the sun; a pecular 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. § The arms of Aurelian had vanquished the foreign and domestic foes of the republic. We are assured, that, by his salutary rigour, crimes and factions, mischievous arts, and pernicious connivance, the luxuriant growth of a feeble and oppressive government, were eradicated throughout the Roman world.” But if we attentively reflect, how much swifter is the progress of corruption than its cure, and if we remember that the years abandoned to public disorders exceeded the months allotted to the martial reign of Aurelian, we must confess that a few short intervals of peace were insuf. ficient for the arduous work of reformation. Even his attempt to restore the integrity of the coin, was opposed by a formidable insurrection. The emperor's vexation breaks out in one of his private letters:– “Surely,” says he, “the gods have decreed that my life should be a perpetual warfare. A sedition within the walls has just now given birth to a very serious civil war. The workmen of the mint, at the instigation of Felicissimus, a slave to whom I had intrusted an employment in the finances, have risen in rebellion. They are at length suppressed; but seven thousand of my soldiers have been slain in the contest, of those troops whose ordinary station is in Dacia, and the camps along the Danube.”f Other writers, who confirm the same fact, add likewise, that it happened soon after Aurelian's triumph; that the decisive engagement was fought on the Caelian hill: that the workmen of the mint had adulterated the coin; and that the emperor restored the public credit, by delivering out good money in exchange for the bad, which the people were commanded to bring into the treasury.f We might content ourselves with relating this extraordinary transaction; but we cannot dissemble how much in its present form it *. to us inconsistent and incredible. The debasement of the coin is indeed well suited to the administration of Gallienus; nor is it unlikely that the instruments of the corruption might dread the inflexible justice of Aurelian. But the guilt, as well as the profit, must have been confined to a very few : nor is it easy to conceive by what arts they could arm a people whom they had injured, against
supposes that Zenobius, bishop of Florence in the time of St. Ambrose, was of her family. * Vopisc. in Hist. August. p. 222. Eutropius, 9, 13. Victor Junior. But Pollio, in Hist. August. p. 196, says, that Tetricus was made corrector of all Italy. + Hist. August. p. 197. : Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 222. Zosimus, lib. 1, p. 56. He placed in it the images of Belus and of the Sun, which he had brought from Palmyra. It was dedicated in the fourth year of his reign (Euseb. in Chron.) but was most assuredly begun immediately on his accession. § See in the Augustan History, p. 210, the omens of his fortune. His devotion to the sun appears in his letters, on his medals, and is mentioned in the Caesars of Julian. Commentaire de Spanheim, p. 109. * Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 221. + Hist. August. p. 222. Aurelian calls those soldiers Hiberi, Riparienses, Castriani, and IMacieci. # Zosimus, l. 1, p. 56. Eutropius, 9, 14. Aurel Victor.
384 REVOLT IN IROME. [Ch. x1.
a monarch whom they had betrayed. We might naturally expect, that such miscreants should have shared the public detestation with the informers and the other ministers of opression; and that the reformation of the coin should have een an action equally popular with the destruction of those obsolete accounts, which by the emperor's order were burnt in the Forum of Trajan.* In an age when the principles of commerce were so imperfectly understood, the most desirable end might perhaps be effected by harsh and injudicious means; but a temporary grievance of such a nature can scarcely excite and support a serious civil war. The repetition of intolerable taxes, imposed either on the land or on the necessaries of life, may at last provoke those who will not, or who cannot, relinquish their country; but the case is far otherwise in every operation which, by whatsoever expedients, restores the just value of money. The transient evil is soon obliterated by the permanent benefit; the loss is divided among multitudes; and if a few wealthy individuals experience a sensible diminution of treasure, with their riches they at the same time lose the degree of weight and importance which they derived from the possession of them. However Aurelian might choose to disguise the real cause of the insurrection, his reformation of the coin could only furnish a faint pretence to a party already |. and discontented. Rome, though deprived of freedom, was distracted by faction. The people, towards whom the emperor, himself a plebeian, always expressed a peculiar fondness, lived in perpetual dissension with the senate, the equestrian order, and the praetorian guards.t. Nothing less than the firm though secret conspiracy of those orders, of the authority of the first, the wealth of the second, and the arins of the third, could have displayed a strength capable of contending in battle with the veteran legions of the Danube, which, under the conduct of a martial sovereign, had achieved the conquest of the west and of the east. Whatever was the cause or the object of this rebellion, imputed with so little probability to the workmen of the mint, Aurelian used his victory with unrelenting rigour.: He was naturally of a severe Šio. A peasant and a soldier, his nerves yielded not easily to the impressions of sympathy, and he could sustain without emotion the sight of tortures and death. Trained from his earliest youth to the exercise of arms, he set too small a value on the life of a citizen, chastised by military execution the slightest offences, and transferred the stern discipline of the camp into the civil administration of the laws. His love of justice often became a blind and furious passion; and whenever he deemed his own or the public safety endangered, he disregarded the rules of evidence, and the proportion of punishments. The unprovoked rebellion with which the Romans rewarded his services exasperated his haughty spirit. The noblest families of the capital were involved in the guilt or suspicion of this dark conspiracy. A hasty spirit of revenge urged the bloody prosecution, and it proved fatal to one of the nephews of the emperor. The executioners (if we may use the expression of a contemporary poet) were fatigued, the prisons were crowded, and the unhappy senate lamented the death or absence of its most illustrious members.” Nor was the pride of Aurelian less offensive to that assembly than his cruelty. Ignorant or impatient of the restraints of civil institutions, he disdained to hold his power by any other title than that of the sword, and governed by right of conquest an empire which he had . and subdued.t It was observed by one of the most sagacious of the Roman princes, that the talents of his predecessor, Aurelian, were better suited to the command of an army, than to the government of an empire. Conscious of the character in which nature and experience had enabled him to excel, he again took the field a few months after his triumph. It was expedient to exercise the restless temper of the legions in some foreign war; and the Persian monarch, exulting in the shame of Walerian, still braved with impunity the offended
* Hist. August. p. 222. Aurel. Victor. + It already raged before Aurelian's return from Egypt. See Vopiscus, who quotes an original letter. Hist. August. p. 244, † Wopiscus iu. Hist. August. p. 222.
The two Victors. Eutropius, 9, 14. Zosimus (lib. 1, p. 43) mentions only three senators, and places their death before the eastern war. * Nulla catenati feralis pompa senatus Carnificum lassabit opus; nec carcere pleno Infelix raros numerabit curia patres.
Calphurn. Eclog. 1, 60. + According to the younger Victor, he sometimes wore the diadem. Dcus and Dominus appear on his medals. # It was the observation
najesty of Rome. At the head of an army less formidable by its numbers than by its discipline and valour, the emperor advanced as far as the straits which divide Europe from Asia. He there experienced, that the most absolute power is a weak defence against the effects of despair. He had threatened one of his secretaries who was accused of extortion; and it was known that he seldom threatened in vain. The last hope which remained for the criminal was to involve some of the principal officers of the army in his danger, or at least in #. fears. Artfully counterfeiting his master's hand, he showed them in a long and bloody list, their own names devoted to death, Without suspecting or examining the fraud, they resolved to secure their lives by the murder of the emperor. On his march, between Byzantium and Heraclea, Aurelian was suddenly attacked by the conspirators, whose stations gave them a right to surround his person, and, after a short resistance, fell by the hands of Mucapor, a general whom he had always loved and trusted. He died regretted by the army, detested by the senate, but universally acknowledged as a warlike and fortunate prince, the useful though severe reformer of a degenerate state.*
CHAPTER XII.-conduct of THE ARMY AND senATE ArtER THE of ATH or AURELLAN.—REIGNS OF TACITUS, PROBUS, CARUS, AND His SQNS.
Such was the unhappy condition of the Roman emperors, that whatever might ". their conduct, their fate was commonly the same. A life of pleasure or virtue, of severity or mildness, of indolence or glory, alike led to an untimely grave; and almost every reign is closed by the same disgusting repetition of treason and murder. The death of Aurelian, however, is remarkable by its extraordinary consequences. The legions admired, lamented, and revenged, their victorious chief. The artifice of his perfidious secretary was discovered and punished. The deluded conspirators attended the funeral of their injured sovereign, with sincere or well-feigned contrition, and submitted to the unanimous resolution of the military order, which was signified by the following epistle: “The brave and fortunate armies to the of Diocletian. See Wopiscus in Hist. August. p. 224. * Vopiscus hu Hist. August. p. 221. Zosimus, lib. 1, p. 57. Eutrop. 9, 15. The