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4 DEATH OF AUREOLUS. Chat. XI.
"but conduct your negotiation with secrecy; let it not reach the "knowledge of the Dacian troops; they are already provoked, and "it might inflame their fury. I myself have sent him some presents: "be it your care that he accept them with pleasure. Above all, let "him not suspect that I am made acquainted with his imprudence. "The fear of my anger might urge him to desperate counsels." 5 The presents which accompanied this humble epistle, in which the monarch solicited a reconciliation with his discontented subject, consisted of a considerable sum of money, a splendid wardrobe, and a valuable service of silver and gold plate. By such arts Gallienus softened the indignation and dispelled the fears of his Illyrian general, and during the remainder of that reign the formidable sword of Claudius was always drawn in the cause of a master whom he despised. At last, indeed, he received from the conspirators the bloody purple of Gallienus; but he had been absent from their camp and counsels; and however he might applaud the deed, we may candidly presume that he was innocent of the knowledge of it.6 When Claudius ascended the throne he was about fifty-four years of age.
The siege of Milan was still continued, and Aureolus soon disDeoih of covered that the success of his artifices had only raised up a Aureoius. more determined adversary. He attempted to negotiate with Claudius a treaty of alliance and partition. "Tell him," replied the intrepid emperor, " that such proposals should have been made to "Gallienus; he, perhaps, might have listened to them with patience, "and accepted a colleague as despicable as himself."' This stern refusal, and a last unsuccessful effort, obliged Aureolus to yield the city and himself to the discretion of the conqueror. The judgment of the army pronounced him worthy of death, and Claudius, after a feeble resistance, consented to the execution of the sentence. Nor was the zeal of the senate less ardent in the cause of their new sovereign. They ratified, perhaps with a sincere transport of zeal, the election of Claudius; and as his predecessor had shown himself the personal enemy of their order, they exercised, under the name of justice, a severe revenge against his friends and family. The senate was permitted to discharge the ungrateful office of punishment, and the emperor reserved for himself the pleasure and merit of obtaining by his intercession a general act of indemnity.8
4 Hist. August, p. 208. [Pollio, Claud, c. 17.] Gallienus describes the plate, vestments, &c, like a man who loved and understood those splendid trifles.
6 Julian (Orat. i. p. 6) affirms that Claudius acquired the empire in a just and even holy manner. But we may distrust the partiality of a kinsman.
* Hist. August, p. 203. [Pollio, Claud, c. 5.] There are some trifling differences concerning the circumstances of the last defeat and death of Aureolus.
"Auralius Victor in Gallieu. [De Cresar. c. 33.] The people loudly prayed for the damnation of Gallienua.n The senate decreed that his relations and servants should be thrown down headlong from the Gemonian stairs. An obnoxious officer of the revenue had his eyes torn out whilst under examination. • Zonaras, 1. xii. [c. 26] p. 635 [ed. Paris; p. 604, ed. Bonn].
A.D. 268. CLEMENCY AXD JUSTICE OF CLAUDIUS. 5
Such ostentatious clemency discovers less of the real character of Claudius than a trifling circumstance in which he seems to have consulted only the dictates of his heart. The frequent and justice rebellions of the provinces had involved almost every person in the guilt of treason, almost every estate in the case of confiscation; and Gallienus often displayed his liberality by distributing among his officers the property of his subjects. On the accession of Claudius, an old woman threw herself at his feet and complained that a general of the late emperor had obtained an arbitrary grant of her patrimony. This general was Claudius himself, who had not entirely escaped the contagion of the times. The emperor blushed at the reproach, but deserved the confidence which she had reposed in his equity. The confession of his fault was accompanied with immediate and ample restitution.9
In the arduous task which Claudius had undertaken of restoring the empire to its ancient splendour, it was first necessary to He underrevive among his troops a sense of order and obedience, reformation With the authority of a veteran commander, he repre- °ftheaTMy. sented to them that the relaxation of discipline had introduced a long train of disorders, the effects of which were at length experienced by the soldiers themselves; that a people ruined by oppression, and indolent from despair, could no longer supply a numerous army with the means of luxury, or even of subsistence; that the danger of each individual had increased with the despotism of the military order, since princes who tremble on the throne will guard their safety by the instant sacrifice of every obnoxious subject. The emperor expatiated on the mischiefs of a lawless caprice, which the soldiers could only gratify at the expense of their own blood, as their seditious elections had so frequently been followed by civil wars, which consumed the flower of the legions either in the field of battle or in the cruel abuse of victory. He painted in the most lively colours the exhausted state of the treasury, the desolation of the provinces, the disgrace of the Roman name, and the insolent triumph of rapacious barbarians. It was against those barbarians, he declared, that he intended to point the first effort of their arms. Tetricus might reign for a while over the West, and even Zenobia might preserve the
"The expression is curious: "terram matrem deosque inferos precaretur, sedes impias uti Gallieno darent."—M.
6 INVASION BY THE GOTHS. CHAP. XI.
dominion of the East.'0 These usurpers were his personal adversaries, nor could he think of indulging any private resentment till he had saved an empire whose impending ruin would, unless it was timely prevented, crush both the army and the people.
The various nations of Germany and Sarmatia who fought under i.e. 2«9. the Gothic standard had already collected an armament ta^ade'tbS more formidable than any which had yet issued from empire. tne Euxine. On the banks of the Dniester, one of the great rivers that discharge themselves into that sea, they constructed a fleet of two thousand, or even of six thousand vessels;11 numbers which, however incredible they may seem, would have been insufficient to transport their pretended army of three hundred and twenty thousand barbarians. Whatever might be the real strength of the Goths, the vigour and success of the expedition were not adequate to the greatness of the preparations. In their passage through the Bosphorus the unskilful pilots were overpowered by the violence of the current; and while the multitude of their ships were crowded in a narrow channel, many were dashed against each other or against the shore. The barbarians made several descents on the coasts both of Europe and Asia; but the open country was already plundered, and they were repulsed with shame and loss from the fortified cities which they assaulted. A spirit of discouragement and division arose in the fleet, and some of their chiefs sailed away towards the islands of Crete and Cyprus; but the main body, pursuing a more steady course, anchored at length near the foot of Mount Athos, and assaulted the city of Thessalonica, the wealthy capital of all the Macedonian provinces. Their attacks, in which they displayed a fierce but artless bravery, were soon interrupted by the rapid approach of Claudius, hastening to a scene of action that deserved the presence of a warlike prince at the head of the remaining powers of the empire. Impatient for battle, the Goths immediately broke up their camp, relinquished the siege of Thessalonica, left their navy at the foot of Mount Athos, traversed the hills of Macedonia, and pressed forwards to engage the last defence of Italy.
We still possess an original letter addressed by Claudius to the Distress and senate and people on this memorable occasion. "Conscript
firmness °f « . ,, , , . r
Claudius. "lathers, says the emperor, " know that three hundred "and twenty thousand Goths have invaded the Roman territory. If
10 Zonaras on this occasion mentions Posthumus; but the registers of the senate (Hist. August, p. 203. [Pollio. Claud, c. 4.]) prove thatTetricus was already emperor of the western provinces.
"The Augustan History mentions the smaller, Zonaras the larger, number; the lively fancy of Montesquieu induced him to prefer the latter.
A.d. 209. VICTORY OF CLAUDIUS. 7
"I vanquish them, your gratitude will reward my services. Should "I fall, remember that I am the successor of Gallienus. The "whole republic is fatigued and exhausted. We shall fight after "Valerian, after Ingenuus, Regillianus, Lollianus, Posthumus, "Celsus, and a thousand others, whom a just contempt for Gallienus "provoked into rebellion. We are in want of darts, of spears, and "of shields. The strength of the empire, Gaul, and Spain, are "usurped by Tetricus; and we blush to acknowledge that the "archers of the East serve under the banners of Zenobia. Whatever "we shall perform will be sufficiently great." 18 The melancholy firmness of this epistle announces a hero careless of his fate, conscious of his danger, but still deriving a well-grounded hope from the resources of his own mind.
The event surpassed his own expectations and those of the world. By the most signal victories he delivered the empire from Hi» victory this host of barbarians, and was distinguished by posterity Goths. under the glorious appellation of the Gothic Claudius. The imperfect historians of an irregular war" do not enable us to describe the order and circumstances of his exploits; but, if we could be indulged in the allusion, we might distribute into three acts this memorable tragedy. I. The decisive battle was fought near Naissus, a city of Dardania. The legions at first gave way, oppressed by numbers and dismayed by misfortunes. Their ruin was inevitable, had not the abilities of their emperor prepared a seasonable relief. A large detachment, rising out of the secret and difficult passes of the mountains, which by his order they had occupied, suddenly assailed the rear of the victorious Goths. The favourable instant was improved by the activity of Claudius. He revived the courage of his troops, restored their ranks, and pressed the barbarians on every side. Fifty thousand men are reported to have been slain in the battle of Naissus. Several large bodies of barbarians, covering their retreat with a moveable fortification of waggons, retired, or rather escaped, from the field of slaughter. II. We may presume that some insurmountable difficulty — the fatigue, perhaps, or the disobedience, of the conquerors — prevented Claudius from completing in one day the destruction of the Goths. The war was diffused over the provinces of Maesia, Thrace, and Macedonia, and its operations drawn out into a variety of marches, surprises, and tumultuary engagements, as well
"Trebell. Pollio in Hist. August, p. 204. [Claud, c. 7.]
u Hist. August, in Claud. Aurelian. et Prob. Zosimus, 1. i. [c. 42-46] p. 38^*2. Zonaras, 1. xii. [c. 26], p. 636 [ed. Paris; p.605, ed. Bonn]. Aurel. Victor inEpitom. Victor Junior in Ctesar. Eutrop. ix. 8. Euseb. in Chron. [An. CCLXXI.]
8 DEATH OF CLAUDIUS. Chap. XI.
by sea as by land. When the Romans suffered any loss, it was commonly occasioned by their own cowardice or rashness; but the superior talents of the emperor, his perfect knowledge of the country, and his judicious choice of measures as well as officers, assured on most occasions the success of his arms. The immense booty, the fruit of so many victories, consisted for the greater part of cattle and slaves. A select body of the Gothic youth was received among the Imperial troops; the remainder was sold into servitude; and so considerable was the number of female captives that every soldier obtained to his share two or three women. A circumstance from which we may conclude that the invaders entertained some designs of settlement as well as of plunder; since even in a naval expedition they were accompanied by their families. III. The loss of their fleet, which was either taken or sunk, had intercepted the retreat of the Goths. A vast circle of Roman posts, distributed with skill, supported with firmness, and gradually closing towards a common centre, forced the barbarians into the most inaccessible parts of Mount Hamus, where they found a safe refuge, but a very scanty subsistence. During the course of a rigorous winter, in which they were besieged by the emperor's troops, famine and pestilence, desertion and the sword, continually diminished the imprisoned multitude. On the return of spring nothing appeared in arms except a hardy and desperate band, the remnant of that mighty host which had embarked at the mouth of the Dniester.
The pestilence which swept away such numbers of the barbarians Marcii. at length proved fatal to their conqueror. After a short te'e»' but glorious reign of two years, Claudius expired at Sirmium, 5i amidst the tears and acclamations of his subjects. In his tmhlsmo ^as* illness he convened the principal officers of the state and ceMor- army, and in their presence recommended Aurelian,14 one of his generals, as the most deserving of the throne, and the best qualified to execute the great design which he himself had been permitted only to undertake. The virtues of Claudius, his valour, affability, justice, and temperance, his love of fame and of his country, place him in that short list of emperors who added lustre to the Roman purple. Those virtues, however, were celebrated with peculiar zeal and complacency by the courtly writers of the age of Constantine, who was the great-grandson of Crispus, the elder brother of Claudius. The voice of flattery was soon taught to repeat that the
14 According to Zonaras (1. xii. [c. 26] p. 636 [ed. Par.; p. 605, ed. Bonn]) Claudius, before his death, invested him with the purple; but this singular fact is rather contradicted than confirmed by other writers.