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abilities of an experienced general.31 It might naturally be 3.xpected, lhat a prince of such a character, instead of suffering the rebellion to gain stability by delay, should immediately have marched from the batiks of the Danube to those of the Tyber, and that his victorious army, instigated by contempt for the senate, and eager to gather the spoils of Italy, should have burned with impatience to finish the easy and lucrative conquest Yet as far as we can trust to the obscure chronology of that period,39 it appears that the operations of some
"In Hcrodian, L vii. p. 249, and in the Augustan History. we have three several orations of Maximin to his army, on the rebellion of Africa and Home: M. de Tillemont has very justly observed that they neither agree with each other nor with truth. Histoire, des Empcrcurs, torn. iii. p. 799.
M The carelessness of the writers of that age, leaves us in a singular perplexity. 1. We know that Maximus and lialbinus were killed during the Capitoline games. Herodian, 1. viii. p. 285. The authority of Censorinus (de Die Natali, c. 18) enables us to fix those games with certainty to the year 238, but leaves us in ignorance of the month or day. 2. The election of Gordian by the senate is fixed with equal certainty to the 27th of May; but we are at a loss to discover whether it was in the same or the preceding year. Tillemont and Muratori, who maintain the two opposite opinions, bring into the field a desultory troop of authorities, conjectures, and probabilities. The one seems to draw out, the other to contract, the scries of events between those periods, more than can be well reconciled to reason and history. Yet it is necessary to choose between thom.*
* Eckhel has more recently treated these chronological questions with a perspicuity which gives great probability to his conclusions. Setting aside all the historians whose contradictions are irreconcilable, he has only consulted 'he medals, and has arranged the events before us in the following order:—
Maxirain, A. U. 990, after having conquered the Germans, reenters Pannonia, establishes his winter quarters at Sirmium, and prepares himself to make war against the people or the North. In the year 991, in the calends of January, commences his fourth tribunate. The Gordians are
March. The senate confirms this election with joy, and declares Maximin the enemy of Rome. Five days after he had heard of this revolt, Maximin jets out from Sirmium on his march to Italy. These events took place about the beginning of April; a little after, the Gordians are slam in Africa by Capellianus, procurator of Mauritania. The senate, in its alarm, names as emperors Balbus and Maximus Pupianus, and intrusts the latter with the war against Maximin. Maximin is stopped on his road near Aquileia, by the want of provisions, and by the melting of the snows: he begins the siege of Aquileia at the end of April. Pupianus assembles his army at Ravenna. Maximin and his son are assassinated by the soldiers enraged at the resistance of Aqu:leia; and this was probably in the middle of May. Pupianus returns to Rome, and assumes the govem
Gordian the voucger ascends the throne. Eckhel de Dt<* Num. Vet. 206.-Q.
chosen emperors in Africa, probably
foreign war deferred the Italiai expedition till the ensuing spring. From the prudent conduct of Maximin, wc may learn that the savage features of his character have been exaggerated by the pencil of party, that his passions, however impetuous, submitted to the force of reason, and that the bar barian possessed something of the generous spirit of Sylla who subdued the enemies of Rome before he suffered him self to revenge his private injuries.33
When the troops of Maximin, advancing in excellent order, arrived at the foot of the Julian Alps, they were terrified by the silence and desolation that reigned on the frontiers of Italy. The villages and open towns had been abandoned on their approach by the inhabitants, the cattle was driven away, the provisions removed or destroyed, the bridges broken down, nor was any thing left which could afford either shelter or subsistence to an invader. Such had been the wise orders of the generals of the senate: whose design was to protract the war, to ruin the army of Maximin by the slow operation of famine, and to consume his strength in the sieges of the principal cities of Italy, which they had plentifully stored with men and provisions from the deserted counVy. Aquileia received and withstood the first shock of the invasion. The streams that issue from the head of the Hadriatic Gulf, swelled by the melting of the winter snows,34 opposed an unexpected obstacle to the arms of Maximin. At length, on a singular bridge, constructed with art and difficulty, of large hogsheads, he transported his army to the opposite bank, rooted up the beautiful vineyards in the neighborhood of Aquileia, demolished the suburbs, and employed .the timber of the buildings in the
u Velleius Paterculus, 1. ii. c. 24. The president de Montesquieu (in his dialogue between Sylla and Eucrates) expresses the sentiments of the dictator in a spirited, and even a sublime manner.
M Muratori (Annali d' Italia, torn. ii. p. 294) thinks the melting of the snows suits better with the months of June or July, than with those of February. The opinion of a man who passed his life between the Alps and the Apennines, is undoubtedly of great weight; yet I observe, 1. That the long winter, of which Muratori takes advantage, is to be found only in the Latin version, and not in the Greek text of Herodian. 2. That the vicissitudes of suns and rains, to which the soldiers of Maximin were exposed, (Herodian, 1. via. p. 277,) denoto the spring rather than the summer. We may observe, likewise, that these several streams, as they melted into one, composed the Timavus, so poetically (in every sense of the word) described by Virgil. They are about twelve miles to the nast ol Aquiloia. See Cluver. Italia Antiqua, torn. i p. 189, Stc .
engines and towers, with which on every side he attacked the city. The walls, fallen to decay during the security of a long peace, had been hastily repaired on this sudden emergency: but the firmest defence of Aquileia consisted in the constancy of the citizens; all ranks of whom, instead of being dismayed, were animated by the extreme danger, and their knowledge of the tyrant's unrelenting temper. Their courage was supported and directed by Crispinus and Menophilus, two of the twenty lieutenants of the senate, who, with a small body of regular troops, had thrown themselves into the besieged place. The army of Maximin was repulsed in repeated attacks, his machines destroyed by showers of artificial fire; and the generous enthusiasm of the Aquileians was exalted into a confidence of success, by the opinion that Belenus, their tutelar deity, combated in person in the defence of his distressed worshippers.35
The emperor Moximus, who had advanced as far as Ravenna, to secure that important place, and to hasten the military preparations, beheld the event of the war in the mom faithful mirror of reason and policy. He was too sensible, that a single town could not resist the persevering efforts of a great army; and he dreaded, lest the enemy, tired with the obstinate resistance of Aquileia, should on a sudden relinquish the fruitless siege, and march directly towards Rome. The fate of the empire and the cause of freedom must then be committed to the chance of a-battle; and what arms could he oppose to the veteran legions of the Rhine and Danube? Some troops newly levied among the generous but enervated youth of Italy; and a body of Gernjan auxiliaries, on whose firmness, in the hour of trial, it was dangerous to depend. In the midst of these just alarms, the stroke of domestic conspiracy punished the crimes of Maximin, and delivered Rome and the senate from the calamities that would surely have attended the victory of an enraged barbarian.
The people of Aquileia had scarcely experienced any of the common miseries of a siege ; their magazines were plentifully supplied, and several fountains within the walls assured them of an inexhaustible resource of fresh water. The sol
"Hcrodian, 1. tiii. p. 272. The Celtic deity was supposed to be Apollo, and received under that name the thanks of the senate. A temple was likewise built to Venus the Bald, in honor of the women sf Aquileia, who had given up their hair to make ropes for the m litary engines.
diers of Maximin were, on the contrary, exposed to the inclemency of the season, the contagion of disease, and the horror? of famine. The open country was ruined, the rivers filled with the slain, and polluted with blood. A spirit of despair and disaffection began to diffuse itself among the troops; and Is they were cut off from all intelligence, they easily believed hat the whole empire had embraced the cause of the senate. and that they were left as devoted victims to perish under the impregnable walls of Aquileia. The fierce temper of the tyrant was exasperated by disappointments, which he imputed to the cowardice of his army; and his wanton and ill-timed cruelty, instead of striking terror, inspired hatred, and a just desire of revenge. A party of Pra?torian guards, who trem bled for their wives and children in the camp of Alba, near Rome, executed the sentence of the senate. Maximin, abandoned by his guards, was slain in his tent, with his son, (whom he had associated to the honors of the purple,) Anulinus the pitefect, and the principal ministers of his tyTanny.38 The sight of their heads, borne on the point of spears, convinced the citizens of Aquileia that the siege was at an end ; the gates of the city were thrown open, a liberal market was provided for the hungry troops of Maximin, and the whole army joined in solemn protestations of fidelity to the senate and the people of Rome, and to their lawful emperors Maximus and Balbinus. Such was the deserved fate of a brutal savage, destitute, as he has generally been represented, of every sentiment that distinguishes a civilized, or even a human being. The body was suited to the soul. The stature of Maximin exceeded the measure of eight feet, ind circumstances almost incredible are related of his matchless strength and appetite.37 Had he lived in a less enlightened age, tradition and poetry might well have
M Herodian, 1 . viii. p. 279. Hist. August. p. 146. The duration of Maximin's reign has not been defined with much accuracy, except by Eutropius, who allows him three years and a few days, (1. ix. 1;) we may depend on the integrity of the text, as the Latin original is checkod by the Greek version of Famnius.
*7 Eight Roman feet and one third, which are equal to above eight English feet, as the two measures are to each other in the proportion of 967 to 1000. See Graves's discourse on the Roman foot. We are told that Maximin could drink in a day an amI hora (or about seven gallons) of wine, and cat thirty or forty founds of meat. He could move a loaded wagon, break a horse's leg with his fist, crumble ■tones in his hani, and tear up small trees by the roots. See his life Vn the Augustan History.
described him as one of those monstrous giants, whose supernatural power was constantly exerted for the destruction of mankind.
It is easier to conceive than to describe the universal joy of the Roman world on the fall of the tyrant, the news of which is said to have been carried in four days from Aquileia to Rome. The return of Maximus was a triumphal procession; his colleague and young GordiRn went out to meet him, and the three princes made their entry into the capital, attended by the ambassadors of almost all the cities of Italy, saluted with the splendid offerings of gratitude and superstition, and received with the unfeigned acclamations of the senate and people, who persuaded themselves that a golden age would succeed to an age of iron.38 The conduct of the two emperors corresponded with these expectations. They administered justice in person; and the rigor of the one was tempered by the other's clemency. The oppressive taxes with which Maximin had loaded the rights of inheritance and succession, were repealed, or at least moderated. Discipline was revived, and with the advice of the senate many wise laws were enacted by their Imperial ministers, who endeavored to restore a civil constitution on the ruins of military tyranny. "What reward may we expect for delivering Rome from a monster?" was the question asked by Maximus, in a moment of freedom and confidence. Balbinus answered it without hesitation — " The love of the senate, of the people, and of all mankind." "Alas!" replied his more penetrating colleague — "alas! I dread the hatred of the soldiers, and the fatal effects of their resentment."39 His apprehensions were but too well justified by the event
Whilst Maximus was preparing to defend Italy against the common foe, Balbinus, who remained at Rome, had been engaged in scenes of blood and intestine discord. Distrust and jealousy reigned in the senate; and even in the temples where they assembled, every senator carried either open or concealed arms. In the midst of their deliberations, two veterans of the guards, actuated either by curiosity or a sinister motive, audaciously thrust themselves into the house, and advanced by degrees beyond the altar of Victory. Gallicanus,
* See the congratulatory letter of Claudius Julianus, the consul, to the two emperors, in the Augustan History. M llist. August, p. 171.