« ForrigeFortsett »
of the love of his army, and of a mature vigour of mind and body. His acknowledged merit, and the success of his arms against Florianus, left him without an enemy or a competitor. Yet, if we may credit his own professions, very far from being desirous of the empire, he É. accepted it with the most sincere reluctance. “But it is no longer in my power,” says Probus, in a private letter, “to lay down a title so full of envy and of danger: I must continue to personate the character which the soldiers have imposed upon me.” His dutiful address to the senate displayed the sentiments, or at least the language, of a Roman patriot: “When you elected one of your order, conscript fathers' to succeed the emperor Aurelian, you acted in a manner suitable to your justice and wisdom; for you are the legal sovereigns of the world, and the power which you derive from your ancestors, will descend to your posterity. Happy would it have been if Florianus, instead of usurping the purple of his brother, like a private inheritance, . expected what your majesty might determine, either in his favour, or in that of any other person. The prudent soldiers have punished his rashness. To me they have offered the title of Augustus. But I submit to your clemency my pretensions and my merits.”t When this respectful epistle was read by the consul, the senators were unable to disguise their satisfaction, that Probus should condescend thus humbly to solicit a sceptre which he already possessed. They celebrated with the warmest gratitude his virtues, his exploits, and, above all, his moderation. A decree io, passed, without a dissenting voice, to ratify the election of the eastern armies, and to confer on their chief all the several branches of the imperial dignity; the names of Caesar and Augustus, the title of father of his country, the right of making in the same day three motions in the senate,f the office of pontifex maximus, the tribunitian power, and the proconsular command; a mode of investiture, which, though it seemed to time of his death. * The letter was addressed to the praetorian prefect, whom, on condition of his good behaviour, he promised to continue in his great office. See Hist. August. p. 237. + Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 237. The date of the letter is assuredly faulty. Instead of Non. Februar, we may read Non. August. f Hist. August. p. 238. It is odd, that the senate should treat Probus less favourably than Marcus Antoninus. That prince had received, even before the
398 SUCU ESS OF THE [CH. XII.
multiply the authority of the emperor, expressed the consti. tution of the ancient republic. The reign of Probus corresponded with this fair beginning. The senate was permitted to direct the civil administration of the empire. Their faithful general asserted the honour of the Roman arms, and often laid at their feet crowns of gold and barbaric trophies, the fruits of his numerous victories.” Yet, whilst he gratified their vanity, he must secretly have despised their indolence and weakness. Though it was every moment in their power to repeal the disgraceful edict of Gallienus, the proud successors of the Scipios patiently acquiesced in their exclusion from all military employments. They soon experienced, that those who refuse the sword, must renounce the Sceptre.
†he strength of Aurelian had crushed on every side the enemies of Rome. After his death they seemed to revive with an increase of fury and of numbers. They were again vanquished by the active vigour of Probus, who, in a short reign of about six years,t equalled the fame of ancient heroes, and restored peace and order to every province of the Roman world. The dangerous frontier of Rhaetia he so firmly secured, that he left it without the suspicion of an enemy. He broke the wandering power of the Sarmatian tribes; and by the terror of his arms compelled those barbarians to relinquish their spoil. The Gothic nation courted the alliance of so warlike an emperor. He attacked the Isaurians in their mountains, besieged and took several of their strongest castles, $ and flattered himself that he had for ever suppressed a domestic foe, whose independence so deeply wounded the majesty of the empire. The troubles excited by the usurper Firmus in the Upper Egypt had never been perfectly appeased; and the cities of Ptolemais and Coptos, fortified by the alliance of the Blemmyes, still maintained an obscure rebellion.* The chastisement of those cities, and of their auxiliaries, the savages of the south, is said to have alarmed the court of Persia:t and the great king sued in vain for the friendship of Probus. Most of the exploits which distinguished his reign, were achieved by the personal valour and conduct of the emperor, insomuch that the writer of his life expresses some amazement how, in so short a time, a single man could be present in so many distant wars. The remaining actions he intrusted to the care of his lieutenants, the judicious choice of whom forms no inconsiderable part of his glory. Carus, Diocletian, Maximian, Constantius, Galerius, Asclepiodatus, Annibalianus, and a crowd of other chiefs, who afterwards ascended or supported the throne, were trained to arms in the severe school of Aurelian and Probus.t But the most important service which Probus rendered to the republic was the deliverance of Gaul, and the recovery of seventy flourishing cities, oppressed by the barbarians of Germany, who, since the death of Aurelian, had ravaged that great province with impunity.S. Among the various multitude of those fierce invaders, we may distinguish, with some degree of clearness, three great armies, or rather nations, successively vanquished by the valour of Probus. He drove back the Franks into their morasses; a descriptive circumstance, from whence we may infer, that the confederacy, known by the manly appellation of free, already occupied the flat maritime country intersected and almost overflown by the stagnating waters of the Rhine, and that several to: of the Frisians and Batavians had acceded to their alliance. He vanquished the Burgundians, a considerable people of the Wandalic race." They hadwandered
death of Pius, Jus quintae relationis. See Capitolin. in Hist. August. p. 24. * See the dutiful letter of Probus to the senate, after his German victories. Hist. Aug 1st. p. 239. t The date and duration of the reign of Probus are very correctly ascertained by Cardinal Norris, in his learned work, De Epochis Syro-Macedonum, p. 96—105. A passage of Eusebius connects the second year of Probus with the eras of several of the Syrian cities. † Wopiscus in Hist. August p. 239. § Zosimus (lib. 1, p. 62–65) tells us a very long and trifling story of Lycius the Isaurian robber. [Isauria is a small province of Asia Minor, between Pisidia and Cilicia. It was long peopled by robbers and pirates. The chief town, Isaura, was destroyed by the consul
Servilius, who was surnamed Isauricus. D'Anville, tom. ii, p. 86.— Guizot ) * The Blemmyes lived on the banks of the Nile, near the great cataracts. D'Anville, tom. iii. p. 48.—Guizot. + Zosim. lib. 1, p. 65. Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 239, 240. But it seems incredible, that the defeat of the savages of AEthiopia could affect the Persian monarch. : Besides these well-known chiers, several others are named by Vopiscus (Hist. August. p. 241), whose actions have not reached our knowledge. § See the Caesars of Julian, and Hist. August. p. 238, 240, 241. * It was only in the time of the emperors Diocletian and Maximian that the Burgundians, in concert with the Allemanni, invaded the interior ol Gaul. In the
in quest of booty from the banks of the Oder to those of the Seine. They esteemed themselves sufficiently fortunate to purchase, by the restitution of all their booty, the permis. sion of an undisturbed retreat. They attempted to elude that article of the treaty. Their punishment was immediate and terrible.” But of all the invaders of Gaul, the most formidable were the Lygians, a distant people, who reigned over a wide domain on the frontiers of Poland and Silesia.f In the Lygian nation, the Arii held the first rank by their numbers and fierceness. “The Arii (it is thus that they are described by the energy of Tacitus) study to improve by art and circumstances the innate terrors of their barbarism. Their shields are black, their bodies are painted black. They choose for the combat the darkest hour of the night. Their host advances, covered as it were with a funereal shade: nor do they often find an enemy capable of sustaining so strange and infernal an aspect. Of all our senses, the eyes are the first vanquished in battle.”$ Yet the arms and discipline of the Romans easily discomfited these horrid phantoms. The Lygii were defeated in a general engagement; and Semno, the most renowned of their chiefs, fell alive into the hands of Probus. That prudent emperor, unwilling to reduce a brave people to despair, granted them an honourable capitulation, and permitted them to return in safety to their native country. But the losses which they suffered in the march, the battle, and the retreat, broke the power of the nation; nor is the Lygian name ever repeated in the history either of Germany or of the empire, The deliverance of Gaul is reported to have cost the lives of four hundred thousand of the invaders; a work of labour to the Romans, and of expense to the emperor, who gave a piece of gold for the head of every barbarian." But as the fame of warriors is built on the destruction of human kind, we may naturally suspect, that the sanguinary account was multiplied by the avarice of the soldiers, and accepted without any very severe examination by the liberal vanity of Probus. Since the expedition of Maximin, the Roman generals had confined their ambition to a defensive war against the nations of Germany, who perpetually pressed on the frontiers of the empire. The more daring Probus pursued his Gallic victories, passed the Rhine, and displayed his invincible eagles on the banks of the Elbe and the Neckar. He was fully convinced, that nothing could reconcile the minds of the barbarians to peace, unless they experienced in their own country the calamities of war. Germany, exhausted by the ill success of the last emigration, was astonished by his presence. Nine of the most considerable princes repaired to his camp, and fell prostrate at his feet. Such a treaty was humbly received by the Germans, as it pleased the conqueror to dictate. He exacted a strict restitution of the effects and captives which they had carried away from the provinces; and obliged their own magistrates to punish the more obstinate robbers, who presumed to detain any part of the spoil. A considerable tribute of corn, cattle, and horses, the only wealth of barbarians, was reserved for the use of the garrisons which Probus established on the limits of their territory. He even entertained some thoughts of compelling the Germans to relinquish the exercise of arms, and to trust their differences to the justice, their safety to the power, of Rome. To accomplish these salutary ends, the constant residence of an imperial governor, supported by a numerous army, was indispensably requisite. Probus therefore judged it more expedient to defer the execution of so great a design; which was indeed rather of specious than solid utility.” Had Germany been reduced into the state of a province, the Romans, with immense labour and expense, would have acquired only a more extensive boundary to defend against the fiercer and more active barbarians of Scythia. Instead of reducing the warlike natives of Germany to the condition of subjects, Probus contented himself with the humble expedient of raising a bulwark against their August. p. 238. * Hist. August. p. 238,239. Vopiscus quotes a letter from the emperor to the senate, in which he * his design VOL. I. ID
reign of Probus they only crossed the river, and were then driven back out of the Roman empire. Gatterer presumes that this river was the Danube; a passage in Zosimus seems rather to indicate that it was the Rhine. Zosimus, lib. 1, p. 37, edit. Stephan. 1581–GUIzot. * Zosimus, lib. 1, p. 62. Hist August. p. 240. But the latter supposes the punishment inflicted with the cousent of their kings: if so, it was partial, like the oftence. t See Cluver. Germania Antiqua, lib. 3. Ptolemy places in their country the city of Calisia, probably Calish in Silesia. † Feralis umbra is the expression of Tacitus: it is surely a very bold one. § Tacit. Germania, c. 43. "I Wopiscus in liist.