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284 NUMBER OF MARTYRS. Cuap. XVI.
time, it is not in our power to draw any useful inferences from the former of these facts: but the latter may serve to justify a very important and probable conclusion. According to the distribution of Roman provinces, Palestine may be considered as the sixteenth part of the Eastern empire:'*3 and since there were some governors who, from a real or affected clemency, had preserved their hands unstained with the blood of the faithful,184 it is reasonable to believe that the country which had given birth to Christianity produced at least the sixteenth part of the martyrs who suffered death within the dominions of Galerius and Maximin; the whole might consequently amount to about fifteen hundred, a number which, if it is equally divided between the ten years of the persecution, will allow an annual consumption of one hundred and fifty martyrs. Allotting the same proportion to the provinces of Italy, Africa, and perhaps Spain, where, at the end of two or three years, the rigour of the penal laws was either suspended or abolished, the multitude of Christians in the Roman empire, on whom a capital punishment was inflicted by a judicial sentence, will be reduced to somewhat less than two thousand persons. Since it cannot be doubted that the Christians were more numerous, and their enemies more exasperated, in the time of Diocletian than they had ever been in any former persecution, this probable and moderate computation may teach us to estimate the number of primitive saints and martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the important purpose of introducing Christianity into the world. We shall conclude this chapter by a melancholy truth which obtrudes itself on the reluctant mind; that, even admitting:.
Conclusion. . , ... . . , . . p'
without hesitation or inquiry, all that history has recorded, or devotion has feigned, on the subject of martyrdoms, it must still be acknowledged that the Christians, in the course of their intestine dissensions, have inflicted far greater severities on each other than
load us to admire the artful management of the historian. Choosing for the scene of the most exquisite cruelty the most remote and sequestered country of the Koinan empire, he relates that in Thebais from ten to one hundred persons had frequently suffered martyrdom iu the same day. But when he proceeds to mention his own journey into Egypt, his language insensibly becomes more cautious and moderate. Instead of a large but definite number, he speaks of many Christians (rXtiun), and most artfully selects two ambiguous words (i*re^nirt/fiif and uToftn\avras•) which may signify either what he had seen or what he had heard ; either the expectation or the execution of the punishment. Having thus provided a secure evasion, he commits the equivocal passage to his readers and translators; justly conceiving that their piety would induce them to prefer the most favourable sense. There was perhaps some malice in the remark of Theodoras Metochita, that all who, like Eusebius, had been conversant with the Egyptians, delighted in an obscure and intricate style. (See Valesius ad loc.)
183 Wheu Palestine was divided into three, the prefecture of the East contained forty-eight provinces. As the ancient distinctions of nations were long since abolished, the Romans distributed the provinces according to a general proportion of their extent and opulence.
1M Ut gloriari possint nullum se innocentium peremisse, nam et ipse audivi aliquos gloriantes, quia administrate sua, in hac parte, fuerit incruenta. Lactant. Institut. Divin. v. 11.
Chap. XVI. CONCLUSION. 285
they had experienced from the zeal of infidels. During the ages of ignorance which followed the subversion of the Roman empire in the West, the bishops of the Imperial city extended their dominion over the laity as well as clergy of the Latin church. The fabric of superstition which they had erected, and which might long have defied the feeble efforts of reason, was at length assaulted by a crowd of daring fanatics, who, from the twelfth to the sixteenth century, assumed the popular character of reformers. The church of Rome defended by violence the empire which she had acquired by fraud; a system of peace and benevolence was soon disgraced by proscriptions, wars, massacres, and the institution of the holy office. And as the reformers were animated by the love of civil as well as of religious freedom, the Catholic princes connected their own interest with that of the clergy, and enforced by fire and the sword the terrors of spiritual censures. In the Netherlands alone more than one hundred thousand of the subjects of Charles V. are said to have suffered by the hand of the executioner; and this extraordinary number is attested by Grotius,186 a man of genius and learning, who preserved his moderation amidst the fury of contending sects, and who composed the annals of his own age and country at a time when the invention of printing had facilitated the means of intelligence and increased the danger of detection. If we are obliged to submit our belief to the authority of Grotius, it must be allowed that the number of Protestants who were executed in a single province and a single reign far exceeded that of the primitive martyrs in the space of three centuries and of the Roman empire. But if the improbability of the fact itself should prevail over the weight of evidence; if Grotius should be convicted of exaggerating the merit and sufferings of the reformers ;186 we shall be naturally led to inquire what confidence can be placed in the doubtful and imperfect monuments of ancient credulity; what degree of credit can be assigned to a courtly bishop and a passionate declaimer," who, under the protection of Constantine, enjoyed the exclusive privilege of recording the persecutions inflicted on the Christians by the vanquished rivals or disregarded predecessors of their gracious sovereign.
185 Grot. Anual. de lietms Belgicis, 1. i. p. 12, edit. fol.
ise pra Paolo (Istoria del Concilio Tridentino, 1. iii.) reduces the number of the Belgic martyrs to 50.000. In learning and moderation Fra Paolo was not inferior to Grotius. The priority of time gives some advantage to the evidence of the former, which he loBes on the other hand by the distance of Venice from the Netherlands.
* Eusebius and the author of the Trea- lous, authority of Eusebius. Ecclesiastical
tise de Mortibus Persccutorum. It is history is a solemn and melancholy lesson
deeply to be regretted that the history of that the best, even the most sacred, cause
this period rests so much on the loose, and, will eventually suffer by the least depar
it must be admitted, by no means scrupu- ture from truth! —M.
286 DESIGN OF A NEW CAPITAL. Chap. XVII.
Foundation Of Constantinople. — Political System Of Constantine And His Successors.—Military Discipline.—The Palace.—The Finances.
The unfortunate Licinius was the last rival who opposed the greatness, and the last captive who adorned the triumph, of Constantine. After a tranquil and prosperous reign the conqueror bequeathed to his family the inheritance of the Roman empire; a new capital, a new policy, and a new religion; and the innovations which he established have been embraced and consecrated by succeeding generations. The age of the great Constantine and his sons is filled with important events; but the historian must be oppressed by their number and variety, unless he diligently separates from each other the scenes which are connected only by the order of time. He will describe the political institutions that gave strength and stability to the empire before he proceeds to relate the wars and revolutions which hastened its decline. He will adopt the division unknown to the ancients of civil and ecclesiastical affairs: the victory of the Christians, and their intestine discord, will supply copious and distinct materials both for edification and for scandal.
After the defeat and abdication of Licinius his victorious rival proceeded to lay the foundations of a city destined to rekm
Pcslgn of» f , .,. * T T1 1 • 1
new capital, in future times the mistress of the Last, and to survive the empire and religion of Constantine. The motives, whether of pride or of policy, which first induced Diocletian to withdraw himself from the ancient seat of government, had acquired additional weight by the example of his successors and the habits of forty years. Rome was insensibly confounded with the dependent kingdoms which had once acknowledged her supremacy; and the country of the Cffisars was viewed with cold indifference by a martial prince, born in the neighbourhood of the Danube, educated in the courts and armies of Asia, and invested with the purple by the legions of Britain. The Italians, who had received Constantine as their deliverer, submissively obeyed the edicts which he sometimes condescended to address to the senate and people of Rome; but they were seldom honoured with the presence of their new sovereign. During the vigour of his age Constantine, according to the various exigencies of peace and war, moved with slow dignity or with active diligence
A.d. 324. SITUATION OF BYZANTIUM. 287
along the frontiers of his extensive dominions; and was always prepared to take the field either against a foreign or a domestic enemy. But as he gradually reached the summit of prosperity and the decline of life, he began to meditate the design of fixing in a more permanent station the strength as well as majesty of the throne. In the choice of an advantageous situation he preferred the confines of Europe and Asia; to curb with a powerful arm the barbarians who dwelt between the Danube and the Tanais; to watch with an eye of jealousy the conduct of the Persian monarch, who indignantly supported the yoke of an ignominious treaty. With these views Diocletian had selected and embellished the residence of Nicomedia: but the memory of Diocletian was justly abhorred by the protector of the church; and Constantine was not insensible to the ambition of founding a city which might perpetuate the glory of his own name. During the late operations of the war against Licinius he had sufficient opportunity to contemplate, both as a soldier and as a sltUAt|0n of statesman, the incomparable position of Byzantium; and to By""Uumobserve how strongly it was guarded by nature against an hostile attack, whilst it was accessible on every side to the benefits of commercial intercourse. Many ages before Constantine, one of the most judicious historians of antiquity' had described the advantages of a situation from whence a feeble colony of Greeks derived the command of the sea, and the honours of a flourishing and independent republic.2
If we survey Byzantium in the extent which it acquired with the august name of Constantinople, the figure of the Imperial
. , , 11 * t i • i Inscription
city may be represented under that ot an unequal triangle, of CokstaxThe obtuse point, which advances towards the east and the shores of Asia, meets and repels the waves of the Thracian Bosphorus. The northern side of the city is bounded by the harbour, and the southern is washed by the Propontis or Sea of Marmara. The basis of the triangle is opposed to the west, and terminates the continent of Europe. But the admirable form and division of the circumjacent land and water cannot, without a more ample explanation, be clearly or sufficiently understood.
1 Polybius, 1. iv. [c. 45] p. 423, edit. Casaubon. He observes that the peace of the Byzantines was frequently disturbed, and the extent of their territory contracted, by the inroads of the wild Thracians.
* The navigator Byzas, who was styled the son of Neptune, founded the city 65G [rather 667—S.] years before the Christian sera. His followers were drawn from Argos and Megara. Byzantium was afterwards rebuilt and fortified by the Spartan general Pausaoias. See Scaliger, Animadvers. ad Kuseb. p. 81. Ducange, Constantinopolis, 1. i. part i. cap. 15, 16. With regard to the wars of the Byzantines against Philip, the Gauls, and the kings of Bithynin, we should trust none but the ancient writers who lived before the greatness of the Imperial city had excited a spirit of flattery and fiction.
288 COXSTANTIN'OPLE: THE BOSPHORUS. Chap. XVII.
The winding channel through which the waters of the Euxine flow Ii, with a rapid and incessant course towards the Mediter
Busphoras. ranean received the appellation of Bosphorus, a name not less celebrated in the history than in the fables of antiquity.3 A crowd of temples and of votive altars, profusely scattered along its steep and woody banks, attested the unskilfulness, the terrors, and the devotion of the Grecian navigators who, after the example of the Argonauts, explored the dangers of the inhospitable Euxine. On these banks tradition lqng preserved the memory of the palace of Phineus, infested by the obscene harpies ;4 and of the sylvan reign of Amycus, who defied the son of Leda to the combat of the Cestus.5 The straits of the Bosphorus are terminated by the Cyanean rocks, which, according to the description of the poets, had once floated on the face of the waters, and were destined by the gods to protect the entrance of the Euxine against the eye of profane curiosity.6 From the Cyanean rocks to the point and harbour of Byzantium the winding length of the Bosphorus extends about sixteen miles,7 and its most ordinary breadth may be computed at about one mile and a half. The new castles of Europe and Asia are constructed, on either continent, upon the foundations of two celebrated temples, of Serapis and of Jupiter Urius. The old castles, a work of the Greek emperors, command the narrowest part of the channel, in a place where the opposite banks advance within five hundred paces of each other." These fortresses were restored and strengthened by Mahomet the Second when he meditated the siege of Constantinople :8 but the Turkish conqueror was most probably ignorant
* The Bosphorus has been very minutely described by Dionysius of Byzantium, who lived in the time of Domitian (Hudson, Geograph. Minor, torn, iii.), and by Gilles or Gyllius, a French traveller of the XVIth century. Tournefort (I-ettre XV.) seems to have used his own eyes, and the learning of Gyllius. [Add Von Hammer, Constantinopolis und der Bosporos, 8vo.—M.]
* There are very few conjectures so happy as that of Le Clerc (Bibliotheque Universelle, torn. i. p. 148), who supposes that the harpies were only locusts. TheSyriac or Phoenician name of those insects, their noisy flight, the stench and devastation which they occasion, and the north wind which drives them into the sea, all contribute to form the striking resemblance.
4 The residence of Amycus was in Asia, between the old and the new castles, at a place called Laurus Insana. That of Phineus was in Europe, near the village of Mauromole and the Black Sea. See Gyllius de Bosph. 1. ii. c. 23. Tournefort, Lettre XV.
6 The deception was occasioned by several pointed rocks, alternately covered and abandoned by the waves. At present there are two small islands, one towards either shore; that of Europe is distinguished by the column of Pompey.
'The ancients computed one hundred and twenty stadia, or fifteen Roman miles. They measured only from the new castles, but they carried the straits as far as the town of Chalcedon.
8 Ducas. Hist. c. 34 [p. 136, ed. Paris; p. 108, ed. Ven.; p. 242, ed. Bonn].
* The real width at the narrowest point is about 600 yards. See Chesney, Exped. Euphrat. vol. i. p. 326.—S.