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After indulging himself with a plentiful, perhaps an intemperate supper, he retired to rest, and the next morning the emperor Jovian Death of was f°und dead in his bed. The cause of this sudden death ilb'ii was variously understood. By some it was ascribed to the consequences of an indigestion, occasioned either by the quantity of the wine or the quality of the mushrooms which he had swallowed in the evening. According to others, he was suffocated in his sleep by the vapour of charcoal, which extracted from the walls of the apartment the unwholesome moisture of the fresh plaster.16 But the want of a regular inquiry into the death of a prince whose reign and person were soon forgotten appears to have been the only circumstance which countenanced the malicious whispers of poison and domestic guilt.17 The body of Jovian was sent to Constantinople to be interred with his predecessors, and the sad procession was met on the road by his wife Charito, the daughter of Count Lucillian, who still wept the recent death of her father, and was hastening to dry her tears in the embraces of an Imperial husband. Her disappointment and grief were embittered by the anxiety of maternal tenderness. Six weeks before the death of Jovian, his infant son had been placed in the curule chair, adorned with the title of Nobilmimm and the vain ensigns of the consulship. Unconscious of his fortune, the royal youth, who from his grandfather assumed the name of Varronian, was reminded only by the jealousy of the government that he was the son of an emperor. Sixteen years afterwards he was still alive; but he had already been deprived of an eye, and his afflicted mother expected, every hour, that the innocent victim would be torn from her arms, to appease with his blood the suspicions of the reigning prince.18
After the death of Jovian the throne of the Roman world remained vacancy of ten days19 without a master. The ministers and generals February*1 still continued to meet in council, to exercise their respective i»-2B. functions, to maintain the public order, and peaceably to
conduct the army to the city of Nice in Bithynia, which was chosen
"Sea Ammianus (xxv. 10), Eutropius (x. 18 ), who might likewise be present; Jerom (torn. i. p. 26 [torn. i. p. 341 ed. Vallars.] ad Heliodorum), Orosius (vii. 31), Sozomen (1. vi. c. 6), Zosimus (1. iii. [c. 35] p. 197, 198), and Zonaras (torn. ii. 1. xiii. [c. 14] p. 28, 29). We cannot expect a perfect agreement, and we shall not discuss minute differences.
17 Ammianus, unmindful of his usual candour and good sense, compares the death of the harmless Jovian to that of the second Africanus, who had excited the fears and resentment of the popular faction.
"Chrysostom, torn. i. p. 336-349, edit. Montfaucon. The Christian orator attempts to comfort a widow by the examples of illustrious misfortunes; and observes, that, of nine emperors (including the Cwsar Oallus) who had reigned in his time, only two (Constantino and Constantius) died a natural death. Such vague consolations have never wiped away a single tear.
19 Ten days appear scarcely sufficient for the march and election. But it may be observed—1. That the generals might command the expeditious use of the public Marina or Severa = Valentiniantjs I. = JuBtina, Valens,
A.D. 364. VACANCY OF THE THRONE. 233
for the place of the election.20 In a solemn assembly of the civil and military powers of the empire, the diadem was again unanimously offered to the prefect Sallust. He enjoyed the glory of a second refusal; and, when the virtues of the father were alleged in favour 01 his son, the praefect, with the firmness of a disinterested patriot, declared to the electors that the feeble age of the one, and the unexperienced youth of the other, were equally incapable of the laborious duties of government. Several candidates were proposed, and, after weighing the objections of character or situation, they were successively rejected: but as soon as the name of Valentinian was pronounced, the merit of that officer united the suffrages of the whole assembly, and obtained the sincere approbation of Sallust himself. Valentinian21 was the son of Count Gratian,0 a native of Cibalis, in Pannonia, who from an obscure condition had raised himself, Election by matchless strength and dexterity, to the military com- ofy^*^"1, mands of Africa and Britain, from which he retired with an Un'<ulample fortune and suspicious integrity. The rank and services of Gratian contributed, however, to smooth the first steps of the promoposts for themselves, their attendants, and messengers. 2. That the troops, for the ease of the cities, marched in many divisions; and that the head of the column might arrive at Nice, when the rear halted at Ancyra.
*• Ammianus, xxvi. 1; Zosimus, 1. iii. [c. 36] p. 198; PhilostorgiuB, 1. viii. o. 8; and Qodefroy, Dissertat. p. 334. Philostorgius, who appears to have obtained some curious and authentic intelligence, ascribes the choice of Valentinian to the prefect Sallust,* the master-general Arintheus, Dagalaiphus count of the domestics, and the patrician Datianus, whose pressing recommendations from Ancyra had a weighty influence in the election.
81 Ammianus (xxx. 7, 9) and the younger Victor [Epit. c. 45] have furnished the portrait of Valentinian, which naturally precedes and illustrates the history of his reign.b
* Not the prefect Sallust, but Secundus re attentius examinata hunc Secundum (SiKmtScu ri Tou ir£«x*u). Gibbon seems deprehendi alium esse a Salustio," &c. to have been misled by a note of Gode- Vol. iii. p. 523, ed. Cant.—S. froy: Valois says, "Gothofredus in an- b Symmachus, in a fragment of an notationibus ad hunc locum, notat hunc oration published by M. Mai, describes Secundum Prefectum Pratorio eundem Valentinian as born among the snows of esse cum Salustio; et olim quidem ita Illyria, and habituated to military labour senseram in Annot. ad lib. 22, Amm. amid the heat and dust of Libya: genitus Marc. p. 266, meamque opinionem secutus in frigoribus, educatus in solibus. Symm. est Gothofr. in dicto loco. Verum postea Orat. Frag. edit. Niebuhr, p. 5.—M.
c The following table exhibits the members of the family:—
Imp. b. 321, ob. 375.
widow of Imp. b. 329, slain 378.
Gbatianub, Valentinianus II.
Imp. b. 359, slain 383. Imp. b. 371, slain 392.
m. 1, Constantia, d. of Constantius II. (see Vol. II. p. 349);
2, Lajta. —S.
tion of his son, and afforded him an early opportunity of displaying those solid and useful qualifications which raised his character above the ordinary level of his fellow-soldiers. The person of Valentinian was tall, graceful, and majestic. His manly countenance, deeply marked with the impression of sense and spirit, inspired his friends with awe, and his enemies with fear; and, to second the efforts of his undaunted courage, the son of Gratian had inherited the advantages of a strong and healthy constitution. By the habits of chastity and temperance, which restrain the appetites and invigorate the faculties, Valentinian preserved his own and the public esteem. The avocations of a military life had diverted his youth from the elegant pursuits of literature ;a he was ignorant of the Greek language and the arts of rhetoric; but, as the mind of the orator was never disconcerted by timid perplexity, he was able, as often as the occasion prompted him, to deliver his decided sentiments with bold and ready elocution. The laws of martial discipline were the only laws that he had studied, and he was soon distinguished by the laborious diligence and inflexible severity with which he discharged and enforced the duties of the camp. In the time of Julian he provoked the danger of disgrace by the contempt which he publicly expressed for the reigning religion ;22 and it should seem, from his subsequent conduct, that the indiscreet and unseasonable freedom of Valentinian was the effect of military spirit rather than of Christian zeal. He was pardoned, however, and still employed, by a prince who esteemed his merit,23 and in the various events of the Persian war he improved the reputation which he had already acquired on the banks of the Rhine. The celerity and success with which he executed an important commission recommended him to the favour of Jovian, and to the honourable command of the second school, or company, of Targeteers of the domestic guards. In the march from Antioch he had reached his quarters at Ancyra, when he was unexpectedly summoned, without guilt and without intrigue, to assume, in the forty-third year of his age, the absolute government of the Roman empire.
The invitation of the ministers and generals at Nice was of little
n At Antioch, where ho was obliged to attend the emperor to the temple, he struck a priest who had presumed to purify him with luBtral water (Sozorueu, 1. vi. c. 6. Theodoret, 1. iii. e. 10). Such public defiance might become Valentinian; but it could leave no room for the unworthy delation of the philosopher Maximus, which supposes some more private offence (Zosimus, 1. iv. [c. '2] p. 200, 201).
** Socrates, 1. iv. A previous exile to Meliteue, or Thebais (the first might be possible), is interposed by Sozomon (1. vi. c. G) and Philostorgius (1. vii. c. 7, with Godefroy's Dissertations, p. 293).
* According to Ammiamis, he wrote modelling. Scribcns decore, venustiquo elegantly, and was skilled in painting and pingens et fingons, xxx. 9.—M.
A.D. 364. HE IS ACKNOWLEDGED BY TIIE ARMY. 235
moment, unless it were confirmed by the voice of the army. The aged Sallust, who had long observed the irregular fluctuations of He is popular assemblies, proposed, under pain of death, that J^^by none of those persons whose rank in the service might ex- JJ'j;TM3'' cite a party in their favour, should appear in public on the Fcb;i6> day of the inauguration. Yet such was the prevalence of ancient superstition, that a whole day was voluntarily added to this dangerous interval because it happened to be the intercalation of the Bissextile.24 At length, when the hour was supposed to be propitious, Valentinian showed himself from a lofty tribunal; the judicious choice was applauded, and the new prince was solemnly invested with the diadem and the purple, amidst the acclamations of the troops, who were disposed in martial order round the tribunal. But when he stretched forth his hand to address the armed multitude, a busy whisper was accidentally started in the ranks, and insensibly swelled into a loud and imperious clamour, that he should name, without delay, a colleague in the empire. The intrepid calmness of Valentinian obtained silence and commanded respect, and he thus addressed the assembly: "A few minutes since it was in your power, fellow"soldiers, to have left me in the obscurity of a private station. "Judging from the testimony of my past life that I deserved to reign, "you have placed me on the throne. It is now my duty to consult "the safety and interest of the republic. The weight of the universe "is undoubtedly too great for the hands of a feeble mortal. I am "conscious of the limits of my abilities and the uncertainty of my "life, and, far from declining, I am anxious to solicit, the assistance "of a worthy colleague. But, where discord may be fatal, the choice "of a faithful friend requires mature and serious deliberation. That "deliberation shall be my care. Let your conduct be dutiful and "consistent. Retire to your quarters; refresh your minds and "bodies; and expect the accustomed donative on the accession of a "new emperor." 26 The astonished troops, with a mixture of pride, of satisfaction, and of terror, confessed the voice of their master. Their angry clamours subsided into silent reverence, and Valentinian, encompassed with the eagles of the legions and the various banners of the cavalry and infantry, was conducted in warlike pomp to the palace of Nice. As he was sensible, however, of the importance of preventing some rash declaration of the soldiers, he consulted the assembly of the chiefs, and their real sentiments were concisely expressed by the generous freedom of Dagalaiphus. "Most excel"lent prince," said that officer, "if you consider only your family, "you have a brother; if you love the republic, look round for the "most deserving of the Romans." !6 The emperor, who suppressed his displeasure without altering his intention, slowly proceeded from Nice to Nicomedia and Constantinople. In one of the suburbs of andaaio- that capital,2' thirty days after his own elevation, he broi'her1" bestowed the title of Augustus on his brother Valens :a and A Dle3«t *8 *he holdest patriots were convinced that their opposition, Maichas. without being serviceable to their country, would be fatal to themselves, the declaration of his absolute will was received with silent submission. Valens was now in the thirty-sixth year of his age, but his abilities had never been exercised in any employment, military or civil, and his character had not inspired the world with any sanguine expectations. He possessed, however, one quality which recommended him to Valentinian, and preserved the domestic peace of the empire: a devout and grateful attachment to his benefactor, whose superiority of genius, as well as of authority, Valens humbly and cheerfully acknowledged in every action of his life.28 Before Valentinian divided the provinces, he reformed the administration of the empire. All ranks of subjects who had been division of injured or oppressed under the reign of Julian were invited ami western to support their public accusations. The silence of mankind Td.m*. attested the spotless integrity of the prefect Sallust,29 and his own pressing solicitations that he might be permitted to
** Ammianus, in a long, because unseasonable, digression (xxvi. 1, and Valesius ad locum), rashly supposes that he understands an astronomical question, of which his readers are ignorant. It is treated with more judgment and propriety by Censorinua (do Die Natali, c. 20), and Macrobius (Saturnal. 1. i. c. 12-16). The appellation of JOtsextile, which marks the inauspicious year (Augustin. ad Januarium, Kpist. 119), is derived from the repetition of the sixth day of the calends of March."
21 Valentinian's first speech is full in Ammianus (xxvi. 2); concise and sententious in Philostorgius (1. viii. c. 8).
* Gibbon probably meant to write "the Feb. 25 = A.D. VI. Kal. Mart, priorem.
repetition of the sixth day before the Feb. 26 = A.D. V. Kal. Mart,
calends of March," which is tho fact. In Feb. 27 = A.d. IV. Kal. Mart,
the leap-year (to use a modern phrase), Feb. 28 = A.D. III. Kal. Mart,
the last days of February were called— Feb. 29 = Prid. Kal. Mart.
Feb. 23 = A D. VII. Kal. Mart. Smith's Diet, of Greek and Rom. Antiq.,
Feb. 24 = A.d. VI. Kal. Mart, posteri- p. 231, 2nd cd.-S.
* Si tuoB aulas, Impcrator optime, habes fratrem; si Rempublicam, qutere quern vestias. Ammian. xxvi. 4. In the division of the empire, Valentinian retained that sincere counsellor for himself (c. 6).
"In Buburbano, Ammian. xxvi. 4. The famous Hebdomm, or field of Mars, was distant from Constantinople either seven stadia or seven miles. See Valesius and his brother, ad loc.; and Ducange, Const. 1. ii. p. 140, 141, 172, 173.
"Participem quidem legitimum potestatis; sed in modum apparitoris morigerum, ut progrediens aperiet textus. Ammian. xxvi. 4.
*" Notwithstanding the evidence of Zonaras, Suidas, and the Paschal Chronicle, M. de Tillemont (Hist, des Empereurs, torn. v. p. 671) wishes to disbelieve these stories si avantageuses a un payen.
* Symmachus praises the liberality of of Ca?sar. Exigui animi vices munerum Valentinian in raising his brother at once partiuntur, tua liberalitas desideriis nihil to the rank of Augustus, not training him reliquit. Symm. Orat. p. 7, edit. Niebuhr, through the slow and probationary degree Berlin, 1816, reprinted from Mai.—M.