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c H. A. P. over the adjacent country. By the labour of the XVIII. Persians, the course of the river was stopt beTT low the town, and the waters were confined on every fide by solid mounds of earth. On this artificial lake, a fleet of armed vessels filled with soldiers, and with engines which discharged stones of five hundred pounds weight, advanced in order of battle, and engaged, almost upon a level, the troops which defended the ramparts. The irresistible force of the waters was alternately fatal to the contending parties, till at length a portion of the walls, unable to sustain the accumulated pressure, gave way at once, and exposed an ample breach of one hundred and fifty-feet. The Perfians were instantly driven to the assault, and the fate of Nisibis depended on the event of the day. The heavy-armed cavalry, who led the van, of a deep column, were embarrassed in the mud, and great numbers were drowned in the unseen holes which had been filled by the rushing waters. The elephants, made furious by their wounds, encreas. ed the disorder, and trampled down thousands of the Persian archers. The Great King, who, from an exalted throne, beheld the misfortunes of his arms, founded, with reluctant indignation, the signal of the retreat, and suspended for some hours the prosecution of the attack. But the vigilant citizens improved the opportunity of the night; *and the return of day discovered a new wall of fix feet in height, rising every moment to fill up the interval of the breach. Notwithstanding the dis. appointment of his hopes, and the loss of more than-twenty thousand men, Sapor still pressed the

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which could have yielded only to the necessity of
defending the eastern provinces of Persia against
a formidable invasion of the Massagetae". Alarm-
ed by this intelligence, he hastily relinquished the
fiege, and marched with rapid diligence from the
banks of the Tigris to those of the Oxus. The
danger and difficulties of the Scythian war en-
gaged him soon afterwards to conclude, or at
least to observe, a truce with the Roman em-
peror, which was equally grateful to both princes;
as Constantius himself, after the deaths of his two
brothers, was involved, by the revolutions of the
west, in a civil contest, which required and seemed
to exceed the most vigorous exertion of his undi-
vided strength.
After the partition of the empire, three years
had scarcely elapsed before the sons of Constan-
tine seemed impatient to convince mankind that
they were incapable of contenting themselves
with the dominions which they were unqualified
to govern. The eldest of those princes soon
complained, that he was defrauded of his just
proportion of the spoils of their murdered kins.
men; and though he might yield to the superior

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Constans, the cession of the African provinces, as an equivalent for the rich countries of Macedonia and Greece, which his brother had acquired

67 We are obliged to Zonaras (tom. ii. 1. xiii. p. 11.) for this invasion of the Massagetae, which is perfectly consistent with the gert eral series of events, to which we are darkly led by the broken history of Ammianus.

Vol. III. Is by

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much perplexity and contradićtion. I have chiefly followed Zo- - naras,

The fate of Constans himself was delayed about ten years longer, and the revenge of his brother's death was reserved for the more ignoble hand of

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e = naras, and the younger Vićtor. The monody (ad calcem Eutrop. edit. Havercamp.) pronounced on the death of Constantine, might have been very instrućtive ; but prudence and false taste engaged the orator to involve himself in vague declamation.

•9 Quarum (gentium) obsides pretio quaesitos pueros venustiores,

quod cultius habuerat, libidine hujusmodi arsiste pro certo habetur. Had not the depraved taste of Constans been publicly avowed, the elder Vićtor, who held a confiderable office in his brother's reign, would not have asserted it in such positive terms. 7o Julian. Orat. i. and ii. Zosion. I. ii. p. 134. Vićtor in Epitome. There is reason to believe that Magnentius was born in one of those Barbarian Colonies which Constantius Chlorus had established in Gaul (see this History, vol. ii. p. 132-). His behaviour may remind us of the patriot earl of Leicester, the famous Simon de Montfort, who could persuade the good people of England, that he, a Frenchman by birth, had taken arms to deliver them from foreign favourites. - * *. - L 2 station

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plied with a liberal hand the means of sedućtion. The soldiers were convinced by the most specious arguments, that the republic summoned them to break the bonds of hereditary servitude; and, by the choice of an active and vigilant prince, to reward the same virtues which had raised the ancestors of the degenerate Constans from a private condition to the throne of the world. As soon as the conspiracy was ripe for execution, Marcellinus, under the pretence of celebrating his son’s birth-day, gave a splendid entertainment to the illustrious and honourable persons of the court of Gaul, which then resided in the city of Autun. . The intemperance of the feast was artfully protracted till a very late hour of the night; and the unsuspecting guests were tempted to indulge. themselves in a dangerous and guilty freedom of conversation. On a sudden the doors were thrown open, and Magnentius, who had retired for a few moments, returned into the apartment, invested with the diadem and purple. The conspirators instantly saluted him with the titles of Augustus and Emperor. The surprise, the terror, the intoxication, the ambitious hopes, and the mutual ignorance of the rest of the assembly,

prompted them to join their voices to the general

acclamation. The guards hastened to take the oath of fidelity ; the gates of the town were shut; and before the dawn of day, Magnentius became master of the troops and treasure of the palace, and city of Autun. By his secrecy and diligence he

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