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forces; but they obtained at least an honourable death, and the satisfaction of a just revenge.” 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 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 important 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.f It was reported of Hannibal, that, in order to preserve his troops from the dangerous temptations of idleness, he had obliged them to form arge plantations of olive trees along the coast of Africa.: 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.' One of these, known under the name of Mount Almo, was situated near Sirmium, the country where Probus was born, for which he ever retained a partial affeetion, 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 to forget the bounds of moderation; nor did Probus himself sufciently consult the patience and disposition of his fierce legionaries." The dangers of the military profession seem only
* Zosim. lib. 1, p. 66. + Hist. Aug. p. 236. f Aurel. Victor in Prob. 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 immediately lost his army in the decisive battle of Zama. Livius, 30, 37.
§ Hist. August. p. 240. Eutrop. 9, 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 bestows a severe, and indeed excessive, censure on the rigour of Probus, who, as he thinks, almost deserved his fate.
408 roleATH OF PRODUs. lch. xII.
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, b the establishment of universal peace, he should soon o: the necessity of a standing and mercenary force.* . The unguarded expression proved fatal to him. In one of the hottest 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 work.t The tower was instantly forced, and a thousand 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.: When the legions had indulged their grief and repentance for the death of Probus, their unanimous consent declared Carus, his praetorian prefect, the most deserving of the imperial 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.S Though a
* Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 241. He lavishes on this idle hope a large stock of very foolish eloquence. + Turris ferrata. It seems to have been a moveable tower, and cased with iron. † Probus, et vere probus situs est: victor omnium gentium barbararum; victor etiam tyrannorum. § 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. F. 241.
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 accessory to a deed from whence he derived the principal advantage. He enjoyed, at least before his elevation, an acknowledged character of virtue and abilities;* but his austere temper insensibly degenerated into moroseness and cruelty; and the imperfect writers of his life almost hesitate whether they shall not rank him in the number of Roman tyrants.f 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.t The authority of the senate expired with Probus; nor was the repentance of the soldiers displayed by the same dutiful regard for the civil power, which they had testified after the unfortunate death of Aurelian. The election of Carus was 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.S. A behaviour so very opposite to that of his amiable predecessor, afforded no '. presage of the new reign; and the Romans, deprived of power and freedom, asserted their privilege of licentious murmurs." 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 . emperor Carus. . Two shepherds, avoiding the noon-tide heat, retire into the cave of Faunus. On a spreading beech
* 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. + Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 242, 249. Julian excludes the emperor Carus and both his sons from the banquet of the Caesars. # John Malala, tom. i. p. 401. But the authority of that ignorant Greek is very slight. He ridiculously derives from Carus the city of Carrhae, and the province of Caria, the latter of which is mentioned by Homer.
§ Hist. August. p. 249. Carus congratulated the senate, that one of their own order was made emperor. Hist. August. p. 242.
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.” 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 design of the Persian war. Before his departure for this distant expedition, Carus conferred on his two sons, Carinus and Numerian, the title of Caesar; 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.f . The safety of Illyricum was confirmed by a memorable defeat of the Sarmatians; sixteen thousand of those barbarkans 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, Waranes 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, and endeavoured to retard their progress by a negotiation of peace. His ambassadors entered the camp about sunset, at the time when the troops were o their hunger with a frugal repast. The Persians expresse 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
* See the first eclogue of Calpurnius. The design of it is preferred by Fontenelle to that of Virgil's Pollio. See tom. iii, p. 148.
+ Hist. August. p. 353. Eutropius, 9, 18. Pagi, Annal
: Agathias, lib. 4, p. 135. We find one of his sayings in the Bibliobacon 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 o of Rome, he would speedily render Persia as naked of trees, as his own head was destitute of hair.” 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 succeeded Gallienus, had already restored in the Roman camps. The ministers of the great king trembled and retired. The threats of Carus were not without effect. He ravaged Mesopotamia, cut in pieces whatever opposed his passage, made himself master of the great cities of Seleucia and Ctesiphon (which seemed to have surrendered without resistance), and carried his victorious arms beyond the Tigris.t. He had seized the favourable moment for an invasion. The Persian councils were distracted by domestic factions, and the greater part of their forces were detained on the frontiers of India. Rome and the east received with o: the news of such important advantages. . Flattery and hope painted, in the most lively colours, the fall of Persia, the conquest of Arabia, the submission of Egypt, and a lasting deliverance from the inroads of the Scythian nations. But the reign of Carus was destined to expose the vanity of predictions. They were scarcely uttered before they were contradicted by his death; an event attended with such ambiguous circumstances, that it may be related in a letter from his own secretary to the prefect of the city. “Carus,” says he, “our dearest emperor, was confined by sickness to his bed, when a furious tempest arose in the camp. The darkness which overspread the sky was so thick,
thèque Orientale of M. d'Herbelot. “The definition of humanity . includes all other virtues.” * 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. + Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 250. Eutropius, 9, 18. The two Victors. f To the Persian victory of Carus I refer the dialogue of the Philopatris, which has so long been an object of dispute among the learned. But to explain and justify my opinion would require a dissertation. [Compare this with Gessner's observations in the Introduction to his edition of this