« ForrigeFortsett »
consummate general; he was alarmed by the intelligence that his rear was suddenly attacked. The heat of the weather had tempted him to lay aside his cuirass; but he snatched a shield from one of his attendants, and hastened, with a sufficient reinforcement, to the relief of the rear guard. A similar danger recalled the intrepid prince to the defence of the front; and, as he galloped between the columns, the centre of the left was attacked, and almost overpowered, by a furious charge of the Persian cavalry and elephants. This huge body was soon defeated, by the well-timed evolution of the light infantry, who aimed their weapons, with dexterity and effect, against the backs of the horsemen, and the legs of the elephants. The barbarians fled: and Julian, who was foremost in every danger, animated the pursuit with his voice and gestures. His trembling guards, scattered and oppressed by the disorderly throng of friends and enemies, reminded their fearless sovereign that he was without armour; and conjured him to decline the fall of the impending ruin. As they exclaimed,83 a cloud of darts and arrows was discharged from the flying squadrons; and a javelin, after razing the skin of his arm, transpierced the ribs, and fixed in the inferior part of the liver. Julian attempted to draw the deadly weapon from his side; but his fingers were cut by the sharpness of the steel, and he fell senseless from hi3 hor3e. His guards flew to his relief; and the wounded emperor was gently raised from the ground, and conveyed out of the tumult of the battle into an adjacent tent. The report of the melancholy event passed from rank to rank; but the grief of the Romans inspired them with invincible valour, and the desire of revenge. The bloody and obstinate conflict was maintained by the two armies till they were separated by the total darkness of the night The Persians derived some honour from the advantage which they obtained against the left wing, where Anatolius, master of the offices, was slain, and the praefect Sallust very narrowly escaped. But the event of the day was adverse to the barbarians. They abandoned the field; their two generals, Meranes and Nohordates,94 fifty nobles or satraps, and a multitude of their bravest soldiers [were slain]:" and the success of the Romans, if Julian had survived, might have been improved into a decisive and useful victory.
w Clamabant hinc inde candidate (see the note of Valerius) quos disjecerat terror, ut fugientium molem tanquam ruinam male compositi culminis declinaret. Ammian. xxv. 3.
M Sapor himself declared to the Romans that it was his practice to comfort the families of his deceased satraps by sending them, as a present, the heads of the guards and officers who had not fallen by their master's side. Libanius, de nece Julian, ulcis. c. xiii. p. 163.
The words in brackets are not in the words or something equivalent were acci4to. edition; but it would seem that these dentally omitted, as the text is nearly a
A.D. 363. HIS LAST MOMENTS. 213
The first words that Julian uttered, after his recovery from the fainting fit into which he had been thrown by loss of blood, The dcath were expressive of his martial spirit. He called for ""mtm* his horse and arms, and was impatient to rush into the June,i6battle. His remaining strength was exhausted by the painful effort; and the surgeons, who examined his wound, discovered the symptoms of approaching death. He employed the awful moments with the firm temper of a hero and a sage; the philosophers who had accompanied him in this fatal expedition compared the tent of Julian with the prison of Socrates; and the spectators, whom duty, or friendship, or curiosity, had assembled round his couch, listened with respectful grief to the funeral oration of their dying emperor.94 "Friends and "fellow-soldiere, the seasonable period of my departure is now "arrived, and I discharge, with the cheerfulness of a ready debtor, "the demands of nature. I have learned from philosophy how "much the soul is more excellent than the body; and that the "separation of the nobler substance should be the subject of joy, "rather than of affliction. I have learned from religion that an "early death has often been the reward of piety ;96 and I accept, "as a favour of the gods, the mortal stroke that secures me from "the danger of disgracing a character which has hitherto been "supported by virtue and fortitude. I die without remorse, as I "have lived without guilt. I am pleased to reflect on the innocence "of my private life; and I can affirm with confidence that the "supreme authority, that emanation of the Divine Power, has been "preserved in my hands pure and immaculate. Detesting the "corrupt and destructive maxims of despotism, I have considered the "happiness of the people as the end of government. Submitting my "actions to the laws of prudence, of justice, and of moderation, I "have trusted the event to the care of Providence. Peace was the "object of my counsels, as long as peace was consistent with the "public welfare; but when the imperious voice of my country "summoned me to arms, I exposed my person to the dangers of war, "with the clear fore-knowledge (which I had acquired from the art "of divination) that I was destined to fall by the sword. I now offer "my tribute of gratitude to the Eternal Being, who has not suffered "me to perish by the cruelty of a tyrant, by the secret dagger of "conspiracy, or by the slow tortures of lingering disease. He has "given me, in the midst of an honourable career, a splendid and "glorious departure from this world; and I hold it equally absurd, "equally base, to solicit, or to decline, the stroke of fate.—Thus "much I have attempted to say; but my strength fails me, and I "feel the approach of death.—I shall cautiously refrain from any "word that may tend to influence your suffrages in the election of "an emperor. My choice might be imprudent or injudicious; and "if it should not be ratified by the consent of the army, it might be "fatal to the person whom I should recommend. I shall only, as a "good citizen, express my hopes that the Romans may be blessed "with the government of a virtuous sovereign." After this discourse, which Julian pronounced in a firm and gentle tone of voice, he distributed, by a military testament," the remains of his private fortune; and making some inquiry why Anatolius was not present, he understood, from the answer of Sallust, that Anatolius was killed; and bewailed, with amiable inconsistency, the loss of his friend. At the same time he reproved the immoderate grief of the spectators; and conjured them not to disgrace, by unmanly tears, the fate of a prince who in a few moments would be united with heaven and with the stars.98 The spectators were silent; and Julian entered into a metaphysical argument with the philosophers Priscus and Maximus on the nature of the soul. The efforts which he made, of mind as well as body, most probably hastened his death. His wound began to bleed with fresh violence: his respiration was embarrassed by the swelling of the veins: he called for a draught of cold water, and, as soon as he had drunk it, expired without pain, about the hour of midnight. Such was the end of that extraordinary man, in the thirty-second year of his age, after a reign of one year and about eight months from the death of Constantius. In his last moments he displayed, perhaps with some ostentation, the love of virtue and of fame, which had been the ruling passions of his life."
M The character and situation of Julian might countenance the suspicion that he had previously composed the elaborate oration, which Ammianus heard, and baa transcribed. The version of the AbbiS de la Bldterie is faithful and elegant. I have followed him in expressing the Platonic idea of emanations, which is darkly insinuated in the original.
K Herodotus (1. i. c. 31) has displayed that doctrine in an agreeable tale. Yet the Jupiter (in the 16th book of the Iliad), who laments with tears of blood the death of Sarpedou hia son, had a very imperfect notion of happiness or glory beyond the grave.
translation of the following passage of maxima cecidenmt, inter has turbos Merena Ammianus: "Quinquaginta turn Persa- et Nohodare, potissimis ducibus, interrum optimates et satrapa: cum plebe fcctis" (1. xxv. c. 3).—S.
"The soldiers who made their verbal or nuncupatory testaments upon actual service (in procinctu) were exempted from the formalities of the Roman law. See Heineccius (Antiquit. Jur. Roman, torn. i. p. 504) and Montesquieu (Esprit des Loix, 1. xxvii.).
M This union of the human soul with the divine a-therial substance of the universe is the ancient doctrine of Pythagoras and Plato, but it seems to exclude any personal or conscious immortality. See Warburton's learned and rational observations. Divine Legation, vol. ii. p. 199-216.
** The whole relation of the death of Julian is given by Ammianus (xxv. 3), an intelligent spectator. Libanius, who turns with horror from the scene, has supplied some circumstance* (Orat. Parental, c. 136-140, p. 359-362). The calumnies of Oregory, and the legends of more recent saints, may now be silently despised."
A.d. 363. CHOICE OF A SUCCESSOR. 215
The triumph of Christianity, and the calamities of the empire, may, in some measure, be ascribed to Julian himself, who
i j i . j -lp ■ „,.,. Election of
nad neglected to secure the future execution of his designs the emperor by the timely and judicious nomination of an associate and A.d 363, successor. But the royal race of Constantius Chlorus was une reduced to his own person; and if he entertained any serious thoughts of investing with the purple the most worthy among the Romans, he was diverted from his resolution by the difficulty of the choice, the jealousy of power, the fear of ingratitude, and the natural presumption of health, of youth, and of prosperity. His unexpected death left the empire without a master, and without an heir, in a state of perplexity and danger which, in the space of fourscore years, had never been experienced, since the election of Diocletian. In a government which had almost forgotten the distinction of pure and noble blood, the superiority of birth was of little moment; the claims of official rank were accidental and precarious; and the candidates who might aspire to ascend the vacant throne could be supported only by the consciousness of personal merit, or by the hopes of popular favour. But the situation of a famished army, encompassed on all sides by an host of barbarians, shortened the moments of grief and deliberation. In this scene of terror and distress, the body of the deceased prince, according to his own directions, was decently embalmed; and, at the dawn of day, the generals convened a military senate, at which the commanders of the legions, and the officers both of cavalry and infantry, were invited to assist. Three or four hours of the night had not passed away without some secret cabals; and when the election of an emperor was proposed, the spirit of faction began to agitate the assembly. Victor and Arintheeus collected the remains of the court of Constantius; the friends of Julian attached themselves to the Gallic chiefs Dagalaiphus and Nevitta; and the most fatal consequences might be apprehended from the discord of two factions, so opposite in their character and interest, in their maxims of government, and perhaps in their religious principles. The superior virtues of Sallust could alone reconcile their divisions and unite their suffrages; and the venerable praefect would immediately have been declared the successor of Julian, if he himself, with sincere and modest firmness, had not alleged his age and infirmities, so unequal to the weight of the diadem. The generals, who were surprised and perplexed by his refusal, showed some disposition to adopt the salutary advice of an inferior officer,100 that they should act as they would have acted in the absence of the emperor; that they should exert their abilities to extricate the army from the present distress; and, if they were fortunate enough to reach the confines of Mesopotamia, they should proceed with united and deliberate counsels in the election of a lawful sovereign. While they debated, a few voices saluted Jovian, who was no more than firgtm of the domestics, with the names of Emperor and Augustus. The tumultuary acclamation* was instantly repeated by the guards who surrounded the tent, and passed, in a few minutes, to the extremities of the line. The new prince, astonished with his own fortune, was hastily invested with the Imperial ornaments, and received an oath of fidelity from the generals, whose favour and protection he so lately solicited. The strongest recommendation of Jovian was the merit of his father, Count Varronian, who enjoyed, in honourable retirement, the fruit of his long services. In the obscure freedom of a private station, the son indulged his taste for wine and women; yet he supported, with credit, the character of a Christian102 and a soldier. Without being conspicuous for any of the ambitious qualifications which excite the admiration and envy of mankind, the comely person of Jovian, his cheerful temper, and familiar wit, had gained the affection of his fellow-soldiers; and the generals of both parties acquiesced in a popular election which had not been conducted by the arts of their enemies. The pride of this unexpected elevation was moderated by
* A very remarkable fragment of Eu- held commerce with immaterial beings napius describes, not without spirit, the while yet in the material body—who construggle between the terror of the army descended to rule because a ruler was on account of their perilous situation, and necessary to the welfare of mankind." their grief for the death of Julian.— Mai, Nov. Coll. ii. 261. Eunapius, ed. "Even the vulgar felt that they would Niebuhr, p. 69.—The r\urrit Bui, to soon provide a general, but such a general which Julian is thus advantageously comas Julian they would never find, even pared, is manifestly, as M. Mai observes, though a god in the form of man—trk*r- a bitter sneer at the Incarnate Deity of •"! Siit. Julian, who, with a mind equal the Christians. The fragment is followed to the divinity, triumphed over the evil by an indignant comment by some Chrispropensities of human nature,— • * who tiau writer. Ibid.—M.
100 Honoratior aliquis miles; perhaps Ammianus himself. The modest and judicious historian describes the scene of the election, at which he was undoubtedly present (xxv. 5).
101 The primus or primicerim enjoyed tho dignity of a senator; and, though only a tribune, he ranked with the military dukes. Cod. Theodosian. 1. vi. tit. xxiv. [leg. 111. These privileges are perhaps more recent than the time of Jovian.
'w The ecclesiastical historians, Socrates (1. iii. c. 22), Sozomen (1. vi. c. 3), and Thoodoret (1. iv. c. 1), ascribe to Jovian the merit of a confessor under the preceding reign, and piously suppose that he refused the purple till the whole army unanimously exclaimed that they wei-e Christians. Ammianus, calmly pursuing his narrative, overthrows the legend by a single, sentence. Hostiis pro Joviano extisque inspectis, pronuntiatum est, &c. (xxv. 6).
* The soldiers supposed that the accla- stored, as they fondly thought, to health, mations proclaimed the name of Julian, re- not that of Jovian. Amm. in loc.—M.