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A.d. 337. MASSACRE OF THE TRINCES. 3G5
character. From the hands of the bishop of Nicomedia, Constantius received a fatal scroll, affirmed to be the genuine testament of his father; in which the emperor expressed his suspicions that he had been poisoned by his brothers; and conjured his sons to revenge his death, and to consult their own safety, by the punishment of the guilty.50 Whatever reasons might have been alleged by these unfortunate princes to defend their life and honour against so incredible an accusation, they were silenced by the furious clamours of the soldiers, who declared themselves, at once, their enemies, their judges, and their executioners. The spirit, and even the forms, of legal proceedings were repeatedly violated in a promiscuous massacre; which involved the two uncles of Constantius, seven of his cousins, of whom Dalmatius and Haunibalianus were the most illustrious, the Patrician Optatus, who had married a sister of the late emperor, and the prajfect Ablavius, whose power and riches had inspired him with some hopes of obtaining the purple. If it were necessary to aggravate the horrors of this bloody scene, we might add that Constantius himself had espoused the daughter of his uncle Julius, and that he had bestowed his sister in marriage on his cousin Hannibalianus. These alliances, which the policy of Constantine, regardless of the public prejudice,51 had formed between the several branches of the Imperial house, served only to convince mankind that these princes were as cold to the endearments of conjugal affection, as they were insensible to the ties of consanguinity and the moving entreaties of youth and innocence. Of so numerous a family, Gallus and Julian alone, the two youngest children of Julius Constantius, were saved from the hands of the assassins, till their rage, satiated with slaughter, had in some measure subsided. The emperor Constantius, who, in
40 I have related this singular anecdote on the authority of Philostorgius, 1. ii. c. 16. But if such a pretext was ever used by Constantius and his adherents, it was laid aside with contempt as soon as it served their immediate purpose. Athanasius (torn. i. p. 85G) mentions the oath which Constantius had taken for the security of his kinsmen."
41 Conjugia sobrinarum diu ignorata, tempore addito percrebuiase. Tacit. Anna], xii. 6, and Lipsius ad loc. The repeal of the ancient law, and the practice of five hundred years, were insufficient to eradicate the prejudices of the Romans, who still considered the marriages of cousins-german as a species of imperfect incest (Augustin dc Civitate Dei, rv. 6); and Julian, whose mind was biassed by superstition and resentment, stigmatises these unnatural alliances between his own cousins with the opprobrious epithet of ya/uit Ti ev ynuZi (Orat. vii. p. 228). The jurisprudence of the canons has since revived and enforced this prohibition, without being able to introduce it either into the civil or the common law of Europe. See, on the subject of these marriages, Taylor's Civil Law, p. 331; Brouer, de Jure Connub. 1. ii. c. 12; Hericourt, des Loix Ecclesiastiques, part iii. c. 5; Fleury, Institutions du Droit Canonique, torn. i. p. 331, Paris, 1767; and Fra Paolo, Istoria del Concilio Trident. 1. viii.
* The authority of Philostorgius is so in his history as certain, while in the note suspicious as not to be sufficient to esta- he appears to doubt it.—Q. blish this fact, which Qibbon has inserted
3G6 DIVISION OF THE EMPIRE. Chap. XVIII.
the absence of his brothers, was the most obnoxious to guilt and reproach, discovered, on some future occasions, a faint and transient remorse for those cruelties which the perfidious counsels of his ministers, and the irresistible violence of the troops, had extorted from his unexperienced youth.**
The massacre of the Flavian race was succeeded by a new division DiviBion of of the provinces, which was ratified in a personal interview ^d's?!tm' °f the three brothers. Constantine, the eldest of the sept. 11. Caesars, obtained, with a certain pre-eminence of rank, the possession of the new capital, which bore his own name and that of his father. Thrace and the countries of the East were allotted for the patrimony of Constantius; and Constans was acknowledged as the lawful sovereign of Italy, Africa, and the western Illyricum. The armies submitted to their hereditary right, and they condescended, after some delay, to accept from the Roman senate the title of Augustus. When they first assumed the reins of government, the oldest of these princes was twenty-one, the second twenty, and the third only seventeen, years of age.*'
While the martial nations of Europe followed the standards of his
brothers, Constantius, at the head of the effeminate troops
'oi Persia. of Asia, was left to sustain the weight of the Persian war.
At the decease of Constantine, the throne of the East was filled by Sapor, son of Hormouz, or Hormisdas, and grandson of Narses, who, after the victory of Galerius, had humbly confessed the superiority of the Roman power. Although Sapor was in the thirtieth year of his long reign, he was still in the vigour of youth, as the date of his accession, by a very strange fatality, had preceded that of his birth. The wife of HormoUz remained pregnant at the time of her husband's death, and the uncertainty of the sex, as well as of the event, excited the ambitious hopes of the princes of the house of Sassan. The apprehensions of civil war were at length removed by the positive assurance of the Magi that the widow of Hormouz had conceived, and would safely produce a son. Obedient to the voice of superstition, the Persians prepared, without delay, the ceremony of his coronation. A royal bed, on which the queen lay in state, was exhibited in the midst of the palace; the diadem was placed on the
^ Julian (ad S. P. Q. Athon. p. 270) charges his cousin Constantius with the whole guilt of a massacre from which he himself so narrowly escaped. His assertion is confirmed by Athanasius, who, for reasons of a very different nature, was not less an enemy of Constantius (torn. i. p. 856). Zosimus [ii. 40] joins in the same accusation. But the three abbreviators, Eutropius and the Victors, use very qualifying expressions :—" sinente potius quumjubentc;" "incertum quo suasorc;" "vi inilitum."
M Euseb. in Vit. Constuntin. 1. iv. c. 69. Zosimus, 1. ii. [c. 39] p. 117. Idat. in Chron. See two notes of Tillemont, Hist, des Empereurs, torn. iv. p. 1080-1091. The reign of the eldest brother at Constantinople is noticed only in the Alexandrian Chronicle.
A.l>. 337. SAPOE KING OF PERSIA. 367
spot which might he supposed to conceal the future heir of Artaxerxes, and the prostrate satraps adored the majesty of their invisible and insensible sovereign.5* If any credit can be given to this marvellous tale, which seems, however, to be countenanced by the manners of the people and by the extraordinary duration of his reign, we must admire not only the fortune but the genius of Sapor. In the soft sequestered education of a Persian harem the royal youth could discover the importance of exercising the vigour of his mind and body, and by his personal merit deserved a throne on which he had been seated while he was yet unconscious of the duties and temptations of absolute power. His minority was exposed to the almost inevitable calamities of domestic discord; his capital was surprised and plundered by Thair, a powerful king of Yemen or Arabia, and the majesty of the royal family was degraded by the captivity of a princess, the sister of the deceased king. But as soon as Sapor attained the age of manhood the presumptuous Thair, his nation, and his country, fell beneath the first effort of the young warrior, who used his victory with so judicious a mixture of rigour and clemency that he obtained from the fears and gratitude of the Arabs the title of Dhoulaonaf, or protector of the nation.55
The ambition of the Persian, to whom his enemies ascribe the virtues of a soldier and a statesman, was animated by the desire of revenging the disgrace of his fathers, and of Mesopotamia wresting from the hands of the Romans the five provinces beyond the Tigris. The military fame of Constantine, and the real or apparent strength of his government, suspended the attack, and, while the hostile conduct of Sapor provoked the resentment, his artful negociations amused the patience of the Imperial court. The death of Constantine was the signal of war,56 and the actual condition of
M Agathias, who lived in the Bixth century, ia the author of this story (1. iv. p. 135, edit. Louvre [c. 25, p. 262, ed. Bonn]). He derived his information from some extracts of the Persian Chronicles, obtained and translated by the interpreter SergiuB during his embassy at that court. The coronation of the mother of Sapor is likewise mentioned by Schikard (Tarikh, p. 11G) and d'Herbelot (Bibliotheque Orientate, p. 763).'
a D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 764.b
16 Sextus ltufus (c. 26), who on this occasion is no contemptible authority, affirms that the Persians sued in vain for peace, and that Constantine was preparing to inarch
* The author of the Zenut-ul-Tarikh name; it means Zoolaktaf, the Lord of the
states that the lady herself affirmed her Shoulders, from his directing the shoulders
belief of this from the extraordinary live- of his captives to be pierced and then dis
liness of the infant, and its lying on the located by a string passed through them,
right side. Those who are sage ou such Eastern authors are agreed with respect
subjects must determine what right she to the origin of this title. Malcolm, i. 84.
had to be positive from these symptoms. Gibbon took his derivation from d'Her
Malcolm, Hist, of Persia, i. 83.—M. belot, who gives both, the latter on the
b Gibbon, according to Sir J. Malcolm, authority of the Leb. Tarikh.—M. has greatly mistaken the derivation of this
308 STATE L>F MESOPOTAMIA AND ARMENIA. CllAr. XVIII.
the Syrian and Armenian frontier seemed to encourage the Persians by the prospect of a rich spoil and an easy conquest. The example of the massacres of the palace diffused a spirit of licentiousness and sedition among the troops of the East, who were no longer restrained by their habits of obedience to a veteran commander. By the prudence of Constantius, who, from the interview with his brothers in Pannonia, immediately hastened to the banks of the Euphrates, the legions were gradually restored to a sense of duty and discipline; but the season of anarchy had permitted Sapor to form the siege of Nisibis, and to occupy several of the most important fortresses of Mesopotamia." In Armenia the renowned Tiridates had long enjoyed the peace and glory which he deserved by his valour and fidelity to the cause of Rome.b The firm alliance which he maintained with Constantine was productive of spiritual as well as of temporal benefits; by the conversion of Tiridates the character of a saint was applied to that of a hero, the Christian faith was preached and established from the Euphrates to the shores of the Caspian, and Armenia was attached to the empire by the double ties of policy and of religion. But as many of the Armenian nobles still refused to abandon the plurality of their gods and of their wives, the public tranquillity was disturbed by a discontented faction, which insulted the feeble age of their sovereign, and impatiently expected the hour Ad.342. of his death. He died at length, after a reign of fifty-six si. M.' years, and the fortune of the Armenian monarchy expired with Tiridates. His lawful heir was driven into exile, the Christian priests were either murdered or expelled from their churches, the barbarous tribes of Albania were solicited to descend from their mountains, and two of the most powerful governors, usurping the ensigns or the powers of royalty, implored the assistance of Sapor, and opened the gates of their cities to the Persian garrisons. The Christian party, under the guidance of the archbishop of Artaxate, the immediate successor of St. Gregory the Illuminator, had recourse to the piety of Constantius. After the troubles had continued about three years, Antiochus, one of the officers of the household, executed
against them : yet the superior weight of the testimony of Euscbius obliges us to a<lmit the pi'eluninaries, if not the ratification, of the treaty. See Tillemont, Hist, des Empereurs, torn. iv. p. 420." "Julian. Orat. i. p. 20.
* Constantine hail endeavoured to allay latter against Christianity. Armenia was the fury of the persecutions which, at the the first nation which embraced Chrisinstigation of the Magi and the Jews, tiauity. About the year 276 it was the Sapor had commenced again«t the Chris- religion of the king, the nobles, and the tians. Euseb. Vit. Hist. Theod. i. 25. people of Armenia. From St. Martin, Sozom. ii. c. 8, 15.—M. Supplement to Le Beau, v. i. p. 78. Com
b Tiridates had sustained a war against pare Preface to History of Vartan, by Pro
Mnximin, caused by the hatred of the fessor Neumann, p. ix.—M.
with success the Imperial commission of restoring Chosroes, the son of Tiridates, to the throne of his fathers, of distributing honours and rewards among the faithful servants of the house of Arsaces, and of proclaiming a general amnesty, which was accepted by the greater part of the rebellious satraps. But the Romans derived more honour than advantage from this revolutioa Chosroes was a prince of a puny stature and a pusillanimous spirit. Unequal to the fatigues of war, averse to the society of mankind, he withdrew from his capital to a retired palace, which he built on the banks of the river Eleutherus, and in the centre of a shady grove, where he consumed his vacant hours in the rural sports of hunting and hawking. To secure this inglorious ease, he submitted to the conditions of peace which Sapor condescended to impose: the payment of an annual tribute, and the restitution of the fertile province of Atropatene, which the courage of Tiridates and the victorious arms ofGalerius had annexed to the Armenian monarchy.68
M Julian. Orat. i. p. 20, 21. Moses of Chorene, 1. ii. c. 89, 1. iii. c. 1-9, p. 226-240. The perfect agreement between the vague hints of the contemporary orator and tho circumstantial narrative of the national historian, gives light to the former and weight to the latter. For the credit of Moses it may be likewise observed that the name of Antiochus is found a few years before in a civil office of inferior dignity. See Godefroy, Cod. Theod. torn. vi. p. 350.*
""Gibbon has endeavoured in his History to make use of the information furnished by Moses of Chorene, the only Armenian historian then translated into Latin. Gibbon has not perceived all the chronological difficulties which occur in the narrative of that writer. He has not thought of all the critical discussions which his text ought to undergo before it can be combined with the relations of the western writers. From want of this attention Gibbon has made the facts which he has drawn from this source more erroneous than they are in the original. This judgment applies to all which the English historian has derived from the Armenian author. I have made the History of Moses a subject of particular attention; and it is with confidence that I offer the results, which I insert here, and which will appear in the course of my notes. In order to form a judgment of the difference which exists between me and Gibbon, I will content myself with remarking that throughout he has committed an anachronism of thirty years, from whence it follows that he assigns to the reign of Constantius many events which took place during that of Constantino. He could not therefore discern the true connection which exists between the Roman history and that of Armenia, or form a correct notion of the
reasons which induced Constantine, at the
The following is St. Martin's account of