« ForrigeFortsett »
resistance, he prevailed at length in the contest, and the Goths were compel ed to purchise an ignominious retreat, by restoring the booty and prisoners which they had taken. Nor was this advantage sufficient to satisfy the indignation of the em peror. He resolved to chastise as well as to repulse the insolent barbai iana who had dared to invade the territories of Rome. At the head of his legions he passed the Danube, after repairing the bridge which had been constructed by Trajan, penetrated into the strongest recesses of Dacia,100 and when he had inflicted a severe revenge, condescended to give peace to the suppliant Goths, on condition that, as often as they were required, they should supply his armies with a bodv of forty thousand soldiers.101 Exploits like these were no doubt honorable to Constantine, and beneficial to the state; but it may surely be questioned, whether they can justify thu exaggerated as.wirtion of Eusebius, that All Scythia, as far as the extremity of the North, divided as it was into so many names nnd nations of the most various and savage manners had been added by his victorious arms to the Roman empire.10^ In this exalted state of glory it was impossible that Constantine should any longer endure a partner in the empire. Confiding in the superiority of his genius and military power, he determined, without any previous injury, to exert them for the destruction of Licinius, whose advanced age and unpopular vices seemed to offer a very easy conquest.103 But the old emperor, awakened by the approaching danger, deceived .he expectations of his friends, as well as of his enemies. Calling forth that spirit and those abilities by which he had
the Sarmatian games, celebrated in the month of November, derived their origin from the success of this war.
100 In the Ciesara of Julian, (p. 329. Commentaire de Spanheim, p 252.) Constantine boasts, that he had recovered the province (Dacia) which Trajan had subdued. But it is insinuated by Silenus, that the conquests of Constantino were like the gardens of Adonis, which fude and wither almost the moment they appear.
101 Jornandcs de Rebus Geticis, c. 21. I know not whether we may entirely depend on his authority. Such an alliance has a very recent air, and scarcely is suited to the maxims of the beginning of the fourth century.
m Eusebius in Vit Constantin. 1. i. c. 8. This passage, however, is taken from a general declamation on the greatness of Constantine, and not from any particular account of the Oothio war.
103 Constantinus tamcn, vir ingens, et omnia efficere nitens qua) snimo prtrparasset, simul principatum totius orbis affectans, Licinio bcllum iutulit. Eutropius, x. 5. Zosimus, 1. ii. p. 89. The reason* deserved the friendship of Galetius and the Imperial purple, he prepared nimself for the contest, collected the forces of the East, and soon filled the plains of Hadrianople with hi* troops, and the Straits of the Hellespont with his fleet. The army consisted of one hundred and fifty thousand foot, and fifteen thousand horse; and as the cavalry was drawn, for the most part, from Phrygia and Cappadocia, we may conceive a more favorable opinion of the beauty of the horses, than of the courage and dexterity of their riders. The fleet was composed of three hundred and fifty galleys of three ranks of oars. A hundred and thirty of these were furnished by Egypt, and the adjacent coast of Africa. A hundred and ten sailed from the ports of Phoenicia and the Isle of Cyprus; and the maritime countries of Bithynia, Ionia, and Caria were likewise obliged to provide a hundred and ten galleys. The troops of Constantine were ordered to rendezvous at Thessalonica; they amounted to above a hundred and twenty thousand horse and foot.104 Their emperor was satisfied with their martial appearance, and his army contained more soldiers, though fewer men, than that of his eastern competitor. The legions of Constantine were levied in the warlike provinces of Europe; action had confirmed their discipline, victory had elevated their hopes, and there were among them a great number of veterans, who, after seventeen glorious campaigns under the same leader, prepared themselves to deserve an honorable dismission by a last effort of their valor.10^ But the naval preparations of Constantine were in every respect much inferior to those -of Licinius. The maritime cities of Greece sent their respective quotas of men and ships to the celebrated harbor of Piraeus, and their united forces consisted of no more than two hundred small vessels; a very feeble armamerfl, if it is compared with those formidable fleets which were equipped and maintained by the republic of Athens during the Peloponnesian war.106 Since Italy was no longer the seat of government, the naval establishments of Misenum
which they hiive assigned for the first civil war may, with more propriety, be applied to the second. ""'Zosimus, 1. ii. p. 94, 95.
108 Constantine was vory attentive to the privileges and comforts, of his fellow-veterans, (Conveterani,) as he now began to style them. See the Theodosian Code, 1. vii . tit. 10, torn. ii. p. 419, 429.
w* Whilst the Athenians maintained the empire of the sea, their fleet consisted of three, and afterwards of four, hundred galleys of and Ravenna had been gradually neglected; and as the shipping and mariners of the empire were supported by commerce rather than by war, it was natural that they should the most abound in the industrious provinces of Egypt and Asia. It is only surprising that the eastern emperor, who possessed so great a superiority at sea, should have neglected the opportunity of carrying an offensive war into the centre of his rival's dominions.
Instead of embracing such an active resolution, w hich might have changed the whole face of the war, the prudent Licinius expected the approach of his rival in a camp near Hadrianopie, which he had fortified with an anxious care, that betrayed his apprehension of the event. Constantino directed his march from Thessalonica towards that part of Thrace, till he found himself stopped by the broad and rapid stream of the Hebrus, and discovered the numerous army of Licinius, which filled the steep ascent of the hill, from the river to the city of Hadrianople. Many days were spent in doubtful and distant skirmishes; but at length the obstacles of the passage and of the attack were removed by the intrepid conduct of Constantine. In this place we might relate a wonderful exploit of Constantine, which, though it can scarcely be paralleled eithei in poetry or romance, is celebrated, not by a venal orator devoted to his fortune, but by an historian, the partial enemy of his fame. We are assured than the valiant emperor threw himself into the River Hebrus, accompanied only by twelve horsemen, and that by the effort or terror of his invincible arm, he broke, slaughtered, and put to flight a host of a hundred and fifty thousand men. The credulity of Zosimus prevailed so strongly over his passion, that among the events of the memorable battle of Hadrianople, he seems to have selected and embellished, not the most important, but the most marvellous. The valor and danger of Constantine are attested by a slight wound which he received in the thigh; but it may be discovered even from an imperfect narration, and perhaps a corrupted text, that the victory was obtained no less by the conduct of the general than by the courage of the hero; that a body of five thousand archers marched round to occupy a thick wood
three ranks of oars, all completely equipped and ready for Immediate service. The arsenal in the port of Pireeus had cost the republic a thousand talents, about two hundred and sixteen thousand pounds. See Thucydidea de Be1. Polopon-1 . ii. c. IS, and Menrsrci de Foituna Attica, c. 19.
in the rear of the enemy, whose attention was diverted by the construction of a bridge, and that Licinius, perplexed by Mo many artful evolutions, was reluctantly drawn from his advantageous post to combat on equal ground in the plain. The contest was no longer equal. His confused multitude of new levies was easily vanquished by the experienced veterans of the West. Thirty-four thousand men are reported to have been slain. The fortified camp of Licinius was taken by assault the evening of the battle; the greater part of the fugitives, who had retired to the mountains, surrendered themselves the next day to the discretion of the conqueror; and hia rival, who could no longer keep the field, confined himself within the walls of Byzantium.107
The siege of Byzantium, which was immediately undertaken by Constantino, was attended with great labor and uncertainty. In the late civil wars, the fortifications of that place, so justly considered as the key of Europe and Asia, had been repaired and strengthened; and as long as Licinius remained master of the sea, the garrison was much less exposed to the danger of famine than the army of the besiegers. The naval commanders of Constantine were summoned to his camp, and received his positive orders to force the passage of the Hellespont, as the fleet of Licinius, instead of seeking and destroying their feeble enemy, continued inactive in those njj-row straits, where its superiority of numbers was of little use t>r advantage. Crispus, the emperor's eldest son, was intrusted with the execution of this daring enterprise, which he performed with so much courage and success, that he deserved the esteem, and most probably excited the jealousy, of his father. The engagement lasted two days; and in the evening of the first, the contending fleets, after a considerable and mutual loss, retired into their respective harbors of Europe and Asia. The second day, about noon, a strong south wind108 sprang up, which
"" Zosimus, 1. ii. p. 95, 96. This great battle is described in the Valesian fragment, (p. 714,) in a clear though concise manner. "Licinius vero circum Hadrianopolin maximo exercitu latcra ardui tnontis implevcrat; illuc toto agmine Constantinus ioflexit. Cum bellum terra marique trahcretur, quamvis per arduum suis nitentibus, attamen discipline militari et felicitate, Constantinus Licinii confutom et sine ordine agentcm vicit oxercitum; leviter femore sautiatus."
"* Zosimus, 1. ii . p. 97, 98. The current always sets out of the Qelletpont; and when it is assisted by a north wind, no vessel can carried the vessels of Crispus against the enemy, and as tl.s casual advantage was improved by his skilful intrepidity, he soon obtained a complete victory. A hundred and thirty vessels were destroyed, five thousand men were slain, and Amandus, the admiral of the Asiatic fleet, escaped with the utmost difficulty to the shores of Chalcedon. As soon as the Hellespont was open, a plentiful convoy of provisions flowed into the camp of Constantine, who had already advanced the operations of the siege. He constructed artificial mounds of earth of an equal height with the ramparts of Byzantium. The lofty towers which were erected on that foundation galled .he besieged with large stones and darts from the military engines, and the battering rams had shaken the walls in several places. If Licinius persisted much longer in the defence, he exposed himself to be involved in the ruin of the place. Before he was surrounded, he prudently removed his person and treasures to Chalcedon in Asia; and as he was always desirous of associating companions to the hopes and dangers of his fortune, he now bestowed the title of Caesar on Martinianus, who exercised one of the most important offices of the empire.100
Such were still the resources, and such the abilities, of Licinius, that, after so many successive defeats, he collected in Bithynia a new army of fifty or sixty thousand men, while the activity of Constantine was employed in the siege of Byzantium. The vigilant emperor did not, however, neglect the last struggles of his antagonist. A considerable part of his victorious army was transported over the Bosphorus in small vessels, and the decisive engagement was fought soon after their landing on the heights of Chrysopolis, or, as it is now called, of Scutari. The troops of Licinius, though they were lately raised, ill armed, and worse disciplined, made head against their conquerors with fruitless but desperate valor, till a total defeat, and a slaughter of five and twenty thousand men, irretrievably determined the fate of their leader.110 He
attempt the passage. A south wind renders the force of the current almost imperceptible. See Tournefort's Voyage au Levant, Let. xi.
Aurelius Victor. Zosimus, 1 . ii. p. 93. According to the latter, Martinianus was Magister Officioruin, (he uses the Latin appellation in Greek.) Some medals seem to intimate, that during his short reign he received the title of Augustus.
"o Eusebius (in YitA Constantin. 1. ii. c. lfi, 17) ascribes this decisive victory to the pious prayers of the emperor. The Valosian frag