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A.d. 279. REVOLT OF SATURXLVHS. 49
greatest part of the trembling inhabitants. From the island of Sicily the Franks proceeded to the Columns of Hercules, trusted themselves to the ocean, coasted round Spain and Gaul, and, steering their triumphant course through the British Channel, at length finished their surprising voyage by landing in safety on the Batavian or Frisian shores.50 The example of their success, instructing their countrymen to conceive the advantages and to despise the dangers of the sea, pointed out to their enterprising spirit a new road to wealth and glory.
Notwithstanding the vigilance and activity of Probus, it was almost impossible that he could at once contain in obedience every Revolt of part of his wide-extended dominions. The barbarians who intheEiut; broke their chains had seized the favourable opportunity of a domestic war. When the emperor marched to the relief of Gaul, he devolved the command of the East on Saturninus. That general, a man of merit and experience, was driven into rebellion by the absence of his sovereign, the levity of the Alexandrian people, the pressing instances of his friends, and his own fears; but from the moment of his elevation he never entertained a hope of empire or even of life. "Alas!" he said, "the republic has lost a useful servant, and the rashness of "an hour has destroyed the services of many years. You know "not," continued he, "the misery of sovereign power: a sword is "perpetually suspended over our head. We dread our very guards, "we distrust our companions. The choice of action or of repose is "no longer in our disposition, nor is there any age, or character, or "conduct, that can protect us from the censure of envy. In thus "exalting me to the throne, you have doomed me to a life of cares, "and to an untimely fate. The only consolation which remains is "the assurance that I shall not fall alone." M But as the former part of hi3 prediction was verified by the victory, so the latter was disappointed by the clemency, of Probus. That amiable prince attempted even to save the unhappy Saturninus from the fury of the soldiers. He had more than once solicited the usurper himself to place some confidence in the mercy of a sovereign who so highly esteemed his character, that he had punished as a malicious informer the first who related the improbable news of his defection.52 Saturninus might perhaps have embraced the generous offer, had he not been restrained by the obstinate distrust of his
50 Panegyr. Vet. v. 18. Zoaimus, 1. i. [c. 71] p. 66.
*' Vopiscus in Hist. August, p. 245, 246 [in Saturnino, c. 10]. The unfortunate orator had studied rhetoric at Carthage; and was therefore more probably a Moor (Zosim. 1. i. [c. 66] p. 60) than a Gaul, as Vopiscus calls hiin.
« Zonaras, 1. xii. [c. 29J p. 638 [ed. Par.; p. Gu9, ed. Bonn.]
VOL. II. B
50 TRIUMPH OF PROMTS. Chap. XII.
adherents. Their guilt was deeper, and their hopes more sanguine, than those of their experienced leader.
The revolt of Satuniinus was scarcely extinguished in the East, A.d. 280, before new troubles were excited in the West by the rebeland Pro- lion of Bonosus and Proculus in Gaul. The most distinGaui. guished merit of those two officers was their respective
prowess, of the one in the combats of Bacchus, of the other in those of Venus,53 yet neither of them were destitute of courage and capacity, and both sustained with honour the august character which the fear of punishment had engaged them to assume, till they sunk at length beneath the superior genius of Probus. He used the victory with his accustomed moderation, and spared the fortunes as well as the lives of their innocent families.44
The arms of Probus had now suppressed all the foreign and A.d. 38i. domestic enemies of the state. His mild but steady admithe"m^ror mstration confirmed the re-establishment of the public tranlTobus. quillity; nor was there left in the provinces a hostile barbarian, a tyrant, or even a robber, to revive the memory of past disorders. It was time that the emperor should revisit Rome, and celebrate his own glory and the general happiness. The triumph due to the valour of Probus was conducted with a magnificence suitable to his fortune; and the people, who had so lately admired the trophies of Aurelian, gazed with equal pleasure on those of his heroic successor.55 We cannot on this occasion forget the desperate courage of about fourscore gladiators, reserved, with near six hundred others, for the inhuman sports of the amphitheatre. Disdaining to shed their blood for the amusement of the populace, they killed their keepers, broke from the place of their confinement, and filled the streets of Rome with blood and confusion. After an obstinate resistance, they were overpowered and cut in pieces by the regular forces; but they obtained at least an honourable death, and the satisfaction of a just revenge.56
The military discipline which reigned in the camps of Probus was A.d. 281. HIS DISCIPLINE AND DEATH. 51
disd. hiss cruel than that of Aurelian, but it was equally rigid pune. and exact. The latter had punished the irregularities of
43 A very surprising instance is recorded of the prowess of Proculus. He had taken one hundred Sarmatian virgins. The rest of the story he must relate in his own language: Ex his una nocte decern inivi; omnes tamen, quod in me erat, mulieres intra dies quindecim reddidi. Vopiscus in Hist. August, p. 246 [in Proculo, 12].
M Proculus, who was a native of Albengue on the Genoese coast, armed two thousand of his own slaves. His riches were great, but they were acquired by robbery. It was afterwards a saying of his family, sibi non placere esse vel principes vel latrones. Vopiscus in Hist. August, p. 247 [in Proculo, 13],
■ Hist. August, p. 240. [Vopisc. in Probo, c. 19.]
*» Zosim. 1. i. [c. 71] p. 66.
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." It was reported of Hannibal that, in order to preserve his troops from the dangerous temptations of idleness, he had obliged them to form large plantations of olive-trees along the coast of Africa.48 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.59 One of these, known under the name of Mount Alma, was situated near Sirmium, the country where Probus was born, for which he ever retained a partial affection, 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 sufficiently consult the patience and disposition of his fierce legionaries.60 The dangers of the military profession seem only 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, by the establishment of universal peace, he should soon abolish the necessity of a standing and mercenary force.61 The unguarded ex
"Hist. August, p. 236. [Vopisc. in Probo, o. 9.]
"Aurel. Victor, in Prob. [De Caaar. c. 37.] 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, xxx. 35.
48 Hist. August, p. 240. fVopisc. Probus, c. 18.] Eutrop. ix. 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.
60 Julian [Ctcsares, p. 314] bestows a severe, and indeed excessive, censure on the rigour of Probus, who, as he thinks, almost deserved his fate.
41 Vopiscus in Hist. August, p. 241 [in Probo, c. 20]. He lavishes on this idle hope a large stock of very foolish eloquence.
52 ACCESSION OF CARUS. CuAr. XII.
pression 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 A.d. ssa. work.68 The tower was instantly forced, and a thousand August. 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.63 a
When the legions had indulged their grief and repentance for the Election death of Probus, their unanimous consent declared Cams, racier of his Praetorian praefect, the most deserving of the Imperial [a.d. 282.] 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.64 Though a soldier, he had received a learned education; though a senator, be 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 accessary to a deed from whence he derived the principal advantage. He enjoyed, at least before his elevation, an acknowledged character of virtue and abilities ;65 but his austere temper insensibly degenerated into moroseness and cruelty;
61 Tunis ferrata. It seems to have been a moveable tower, and cased with iron.
63 [Hie] Probus, et vere probus situs est; Victor omnium gentium Barbararum: victor etiam tyrannorum. [Vopisc. Prob. c. 21.1
M Yet all this may be conciliated. He was born at Narbonne in Illyricuni, 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. Cams himself was educated in the capital. See Scaliger, Animadversion, ad Euseb. Chron. p. 241.
65 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 Carua. Vopiscus in Hist. August, p. 249 [in Caro, c. 6].
* Probus survived Aug. 29, A.d. 282, at Alexandria. See Clinton, Fasti Rom. because coins after that date were issued vol. i. p. 322.—S.
A.D. 2S2. SENTIMENTS OF THE SENATE AND PEOl'LE. 53
and the imperfect writers of his life almost hesitate whether they shall not rank him in the number of Roman tyrants.66 When Cams assumed the purple he was about sixty years of age, and his two sons, Carinus and Numerian, had already attained the season of manhood.67
The authority of the senate expired with Probus; nor was the repentance of the soldiers displayed by the same dutiful xiiescntiregard for the civil power which they had testified after the S^n^„to unfortunate death of Aurelian. The election of Cams was and P*"1*5decided 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.68 A behaviour so very opposite to that of his amiable predecessor afforded no favourable presage of the new reign: and the Romans, deprived of power and freedom, asserted their privilege of licentious murmurs.69 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 the emperor Cams. Two shepherds, avoiding the noontide heat, retire into the cave of Faunus. On a spreading beech 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.70
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 feats the design of the Persian war. Before his departure for this dis- and marches
.. • « i»'i i • s~i • into the East.
tant expedition, Cams 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.71 The safety of Illyricum
66 Vopiscus in Hist. August, p. 242, 249 [in Probo, c. 24; in Caro, c. 3], Julian excludes the emperor Cams and both his sous from the banquet of the Caisars.
"John Malala, torn. i. p. 401 [ed. Oxon.; p. 129, ed. Ven.; p. 303, ed. Bonn]. But the authority of that ignorant Greek is very slight. He ridiculously derives from Citrus the city of Carrha: and the province of Caria, the latter of which is mentioned by Homer.
M Hist. August, p. 249. [Vopisc. Carus, c. 5.] Cams congratulated the senate that one of their own order was made emperor.
69 Hist. August, p. 242. [Vopisc. Probus, c. 24.]
70 See the first eclogue of Calpurnius. The design of it is preferred by Fontenelle to that of Virgil's Pollio. See torn. iii. p. 148. [See note, p. 28.—S.]
71 Hist. August, p. 250. [Vopisc. Carus, c.7.] Eutropius, ix. 18 . Pagi.Annal