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sustained as long a siege as it formerly did against the arms of Caesar, if the garrison, conscious either of their fault or their danger, had not purchased their pardon b delivering up the city, and the person of Maximian. secret but irrevocable sentence of death was pronounced against the usurper; he obtained only the same favour which he had indulged to Severus; and it was published to the world, that oppressed by the remorse of his repeated crimes, he strangled himself with his own hands. After he had lost the assistance, and disdained the moderate counsels, of Diocletian, the second period of his active life was a series of public calamities and personal mortifications, which were terminated, in about three years, by an ignominious death. He deserved his fate; but we should find more reason to o the humanity of Constantine, if he had spared an old man, the benefactor of his father, and the father of his wife. During the whole of this melancholy transaction, it appears that Fausta sacrificed the sentiments of nature to her conjugal duties.*
The last years of Galerius were less shameful and unfortunate; and though he had filled with more glory the subordinate station of Caesar than the superior rank of Augustus, he preserved, till the moment of his death, the first place among the princes of the Roman world. He survived his retreat from Italy about four years; and wisely relinquishing his views of universal empire, he devoted the re:Jainder of his life to the enjoyment of pleasure, and to sions, gave the right-hand place to his father-in-law. Panegyr. Wet. 7, 15. * Zosim. lib. 2, p. 82. Eumenius in Panegyr. Wet. 7, 16–21. The latter of these has undoubtedly represented the whole affair in the most favourable light for his sovereign. Yet even from this partial narrative we may conclude, that the repeated clemency of Constantine, and the reiterated treasons of Maximian, as they are described by Lactantius (de M. P. c. 29, 30), and copied by the moderns, are destitute of any historical foundation. [The same is, however, related, and was believed, by some pagan writers. Aurel. Victor says, that Maximian, under a specious pretence of duty, but for the purpose of carrying into effect insidious schemes, gave his son-in-law just reason for putting him to death. We find also in Eutropius that Maximian pretended to have been sent to Gaul by his son, that he might join his son-in-law, but his plot for assassinating Constantine at a fit opportunity having been discovered, he was justly punished with death.GUIZOT.] [These passages confirm Gibbon's narrative, and the share of merit which he allows to Constantine. Jerome says, that Fausta detected her father's plans.—ED.]
4S8 DEATH OF GALERIUS. [CH. XIv.
the execution of some works of public utility, among which we may distinguish the discharging into the Danube the superfluous waters of the Lake Pelso, and the cutting down the immense forests that encompassed it; an operation worthy of a monarch, since it gave an extensive country to the agriculture of his Pannonian subjects.” His death was occasioned by a very painful and lingering disorder. His body, swelled by an intemperate course of life to an unwieldy corpulence, was covered with ulcers, and devoured by innumerable swarms of those insects who have given their name to a most loathsome disease;t but, as Galerius had offended a very zealous and powerful party among his subjects, his sufferings, instead of exciting their compassion, have been celebrated as the visible effects of divine justice.: He had no sooner expired in his palace of Nicomedia, than the two emperors who were indebted for their purple to his favour, began to collect their forces, with the intention either of disputing, or of dividing, the dominions which he had left without a master. They were persuaded, however, to desist from the former design, and to agree in the latter. The provinces of Asia fell to the share of Maximin, and those of Europe augmented the portion of Licinius. The Hellespont and the Thracian Bosphorus formed their mutual boundary; and the banks of those narrow seas, which flowed in the midst of the Roman world, were covered with soldiers, with arms, and with fortifications. The deaths of Maximian and of Galerius reduced the number of emperors to four. The sense of their true interest soon connected Licinius and Constantine; a secret alliance was concluded between Maximin and Maxentius; and their unhappy subjects ex* Aurelius Victor, c. 40. But that lake was situated in the Upper Pannonia, near the borders of Noricum ; and the province of Waleria (a name which the wife of Galerius gave to the drained country) undoubtedly lay between the Drave and the Danube. (Sextus Rufus, c. 9.) I should therefore suspect that Victor has confounded the lake Pelso with the Wolocean marshes, or, as they are now called, the sake Sabaton. It is placed in the heart of Valeria, and its present extent is not less than twelve Hungarian miles (about seventy English) in length, and two in breadth. See Severini Pannonia, lib. 1, c. 9. + Lactantius (de M. P. c. 33) and Eusebius (lib. 8. c. 16) describe the symptoms and progress of his disorder with singular accuracy and apparent pleasure. : If any like the late Dr. Jortin, (Remarks on Ecclesiastical History vol. ii, p. 307–356), still delight in recording the wonderful deaths of the persecutors, I would recommend to their pected with terror the bloody consequences of their inevitable dissensions, which were no longer restrained by the fear or the respect which they had entertained for Galerius.” Among so many crimes and misfortunes occasioned by the passions of the Roman princes, there is some pleasure in discovering a single action which may be ascribed to their virtue. In the sixth year of his reign, Constantine visited the city of Autun, and generously remitted the arrears of tribute, reducing at the same time the proportion of their assessment, from twenty-five to eighteen thousand heads, subject to the real and personal capitation.f Yet even this indulgence affords the most unquestionable proof of the public misery. This tax was so extremely oppressive, either in itself or in the mode of collecting it, that whilst the revenue was increased by extortion, it was diminished by despair; a considerable part of the territory of Autun was left uncultivated; and great numbers of the provincials rather chose to live as exiles and outlaws, than to support the weight of civil society. It is but too probable, that the bountiful emperor relieved, by a partial act of liberality, one among the many evils which he had caused by his general maxims of administration. But even those maxims were less the effect of choice than of necessity; and, if we except the death of Maximian, the reign of Constantine in Gaul seems to have been the most innocent and even virtuous period of his life. The provinces were protected by his j from the inroads of the barbarians, who either readed or experienced his active valour. After a signal victory over the Franks and Allemanni, several of their princes were exposed by his order to the wild beasts in the amphitheatre of Treves; and the people seem to have enjoyed the spectacle without discovering, in such a treatment of royal captives, anything that was repugnant to the laws of nations or of humanity.; The virtues of Constantine were rendered more illustrious
perusal an admirable passage of Grotius (Hist. lib. 7, p. 332), concern
ing the last illness of Philip II. of Spain. * See Eusebius, lib. 9, 6, 10. Lactantius de M. P. c. 36. Zosimus is less exact, and evidently confounds Maximian with Maximin. + See the eighth Panegyr.
in which Eumenius displays, in the presence of Constantine, the misery and the gratitude of the city of Autun. f Eutropius, 10, 3. Panegyr. Veter. 7, 10–12. A great number of the French youth were likewise exposed to the same cruel and ignominious death.
490 CRUELTY AND PROF LIGACY [ch. xiv.
by the vices of Maxentius. Whilst the Gallie provinces enjoyed as much happiness as the condition of the times was capable of receiving, Italy and Africa groaned under the dominion of a tyrant as contemptible as he was odious. The zeal of flattery and faction has indeed too frequently sacrificed the reputation of the vanquished to the glory of their successful rivals; but even those writers who have revealed, with the most freedom and pleasure, the faults of Constantine, unanimously confess that Maxentius was cruel, rapacious, and profligate.” He had the good fortune to suppress a slight rebellion in Africa. The governor and a few adherents had been guilty; the province suffered for their crime. The flourishing cities of Cirtha and Carthage, and the whole extent of that fertile country, were wasted by fire and sword. The abuse of victory was followed by the abuse of law and justice. A formidable army of sycophants and delators invaded Africa; the rich and the noble were easily convicted of a connexion with the rebels; and those among them, who experienced the emperor's clemency, were only punished by the confiscation of their estates.t So signal a victory was celebrated by a magnificent triumph; and Maxentius exposed to the eyes of the people the spoils and captives of a Roman province. The state of the capital was no less deserving of compassion than that of Africa. The wealth of Rome supplied an inexhaustible fund for his vain and prodigal expenses, and the ministers of his revenue were skilled in the arts of rapine. It was under his reign that the method of exacting a free gift from the senators was first invented; and as the sum was insensibly increased, the pretences of levying it, a victory, a birth, a marriage, or an imperial consulship, were proportionably multiplied. Maxentius had imbibed the same implacable aversion to the senate, which had characterized most of the former tyrants of Rome; nor was it possible for his ungrateful temper to forgive the generous fidelity which had raised him to the throne, and supported him against all his enemies. The lives of the senators were exposed to his jealous suspicions; the dishonour of their wives ard daughters heightened the gratification of his sensual passions.” It may be presumed that an imperial lover was seldom reduced to sigh in vain; but whenever persuasion proved ineffectual, he had recourse to violence; and there remains one memorable example of a noble matron, who preserved her chastity by a voluntary death. The soldiers were the only order of men whom he appeared to respect, or studied to please. He filled Rome and Italy with armed troops, connived at their tumults, suffered them with impunity to plunder, and ever to massacre the defenceless people;t and indulging them in the same licentiousness which their emperor enjoyed, Maxentius often bestowed on his military favourites the splendid villa, or the beautiful wife, of a senator. A prince of such a character, alike incapable of governing either in peace or in war, might purchase the support, but he could never obtain the esteem of the army. Yet his pride was equal to his other vices. Whilst he passed his indolent life, either within the walls of his palace, or in the neigbouring gardens of Sallust, he was repeatedly heard to declare, that he alone was emperor, and that the other princes were no more than his lieutenants, on whom he had devolved the defence of the frontier provinces, that he might enjoy without interruption the elegant luxury of the capital. Rome, which had so long regretted the absence, lamented, during the six years of his reign, the presence of her sovereign. Though Constantine might view the conduct of Maxentius with abhorrence, and the situation of the Romans with compassion, we have no reason to presume that he would have taken up arms to punish the one, or to relieve the
* Julian excludes Maxentius from the banquet of the Caesars with abhorrence and contempt; and Zosimus (lib. 2, p. 85) accuses him of every kind of cruelty and profligacy. + Zosimus, lib. 2, p. 83—S5. Aurelius Victor. f The passage of Aurelius Victor should be read in the following manner: Primus instituto pessimo, munervon specie, patres oratoresque pecuniam conferre prodigenti sibi cogeret. * Panegyr. Wet. 9, 3. Euseb. Hist. Eccles. 8, 14, et in Vit. Constant. 1, 33, 34. Rufinus, c. 17. The virtuous matron, who stabbed herself to escape the violence of Maxentius, was a Christian, wife to the prefect of the city, and her name was Sophronia. It still remains a question among the casuists, whether, on such occasions, suicide is justifiable. t Praetorianis caedem vulgi quondam annueret, is the vague expression of Aurelius Victor. See more particular, though somewhat different accounts of a tumult and massacre which happened at Rome, in Eusebius (lib. 8, c. 14) and in Zosimus, (lib. 2, p. 84). it See in the Panegyrics (9, 14) a lively description of the indolence and vain pride of Maxentius. In another lace the orator observes, that the riches which Rome had accumu