Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

retire from the business of the state were rejected by Valentinian with the most honourable expressions of friendship and esteem. But among the favourites of the late emperor there were many who had abused his credulity or superstition, and who could no longer hope to be protected either by favour or justice.30 The greater part of the ministers of the palace and the governors of the provinces were removed from their respective stations, yet the eminent merit of some officers was distinguished from the obnoxious crowd, and, notwithstanding the opposite clamours of zeal and resentment, the whole proceedings of this delicate inquiry appear to have been conducted with a reasonable share of wisdom and moderation.31 The festivity of a new reign received a short and suspicious interruption from the sudden illness of the two princes, but as soon as their health was restored they left Constantinople in the beginning of the spring. In the castle or palace of Mediana, only three miles from Naissus, they executed the solemn and final division of the Roman empire. 32 Valentinian bestowed on his brother the rich præfecture of the East, from the Lower Danube to the confines of Persia ; whilst he reserved for his immediate government the warlike a præfectures of Illyricum, Italy, and Gaul, from the extremity of Greece to the Caledonian rampart, and from the rampart of Caledonia to the foot of Mount Atlas. The provincial administration remained on its former basis, but a double supply of generals and magistrates was required for two councils and two courts; the division was made with a just regard to their peculiar merit and situation, and seven master-generals were soon created either of the cavalry or infantry. When this important business had been amicably transacted, Valentinian and Valens embraced for the last time. The emperor of the West established his temporary residence at Milan, and the emperor of the East returned to Constantinople to assume the dominion of fifty provinces, of whose language he was totally ignorant. 33

The tranquillity of the East was soon disturbed by rebellion, and the throne of Valens was threatened by the daring attempts of a rival whose affinity to the emperor Julian 34 was his sole merit, and Revolt of had been his only crime. Procopius had been hastily pro

30 Eunapius celebrates and exaggerates the sufferings of Maximus (p. 82, 83 [p. 102, ed. Comm.)); yet he allows that this sophist or magician, the guilty favourite of Julian, and the personal enemy of Valentinian, was dismissed on the payment of a small fine.

81 The loose assertions of a general disgrace (Zosimus, I. iv. [c. 2] p. 201) are detected and refuted by Tillemont (tom. v. p. 21).

32 Ammianus, xxvi. 5.

33 Ammianus says, in general terms, subagrestis ingenii, nec bellicis nec liberalibus studiis eruditus. Ammian. xxxi. 14. The orator Themistius, with the genuine impertinence of a Greek, wished for the first time to speak the Latin language, the dialect of his sovereign, the diensxtov xparovony. Orat. vi. p. 71.

Ipse supra impacati Rheni semibar- Princeps creatus ad difficilem militiam baras ripas raptim vexilla constituens * * revertisti. Symm. Orat. 81.-M.

ocebus, moted from the obscure station of a tribune and a notary Sept. 28. to the joint command of the army of Mesopotamia ; the public opinion already named him as the successor of a prince who was destitute of natural heirs; and a vain rumour was propagated by his friends or his enemies, that Julian, before the altar of the Moon at Carrhæ, had privately invested Procopius with the Imperial purple.35 He endeavoured, by his dutiful and submissive behaviour, to disarm the jealousy of Jovian, resigned without a contest his military command, and retired, with his wife and family, to cultivate the ample patrimony which he possessed in the province of Cappadocia. These useful and innocent occupations were interrupted by the appearance of an officer with a band of soldiers, who, in the name of his new sovereigns, Valentinian and Valens, was despatched to conduct the unfortunate Procopius either to a perpetual prison or an ignominious death. His presence of mind procured him a longer respite and a more splendid fate. Without presuming to dispute the royal mandate, he requested the indulgence of a few moments to embrace his weeping family, and, while the vigilance of his guards was relaxed by a plentiful entertainment, he dexterously escaped to the sea-coast of the Euxine, from whence he passed over to the country of Bosphorus. In that sequestered region he remained many months, exposed to the hardships of exile, of solitude, and of want; his melancholy temper brooding over his misfortunes, and his mind agitated by the just apprehension that, if any accident should discover his name, the faithless barbarians would violate, without much scruple, the laws of hospitality. In a moment of impatience and despair, Procopius embarked in a merchant-vessel which made sail for Constantinople, and boldly aspired to the rank of a sovereign because he was not allowed to enjoy the security of a subject. At first he lurked in the villages of Bithynia, continually changing his habitation and his disguise.36 By degrees he ventured into the capital, trusted his life and fortune to the fidelity of two friends, a senator and an eunuch, and conceived some hopes of success from the intelligence which he obtained of the actual state of public affairs. The body of the people was infected with a spirit of discontent: they regretted the justice and the abilities of Sallust, who had been imprudently dismissed from the præfecture of the East. They despised the character of Valens, which was rude without vigour, and feeble without mildness. They dreaded the influence of his father-in-law, the patrician Petronius, a cruel and rapacious minister, who rigorously exacted all the arrears of tribute that might remain unpaid since the reign of the emperor Aurelian. The circumstances were propitious to the designs of an usurper. The hostile measures of the Persians required the presence of Valens in Syria ; from the Danube to the Euphrates the troops were in motion, and the capital was occasionally filled with the soldiers who passed or repassed the Thracian Bosphorus. Two cohorts of Gauls were persuaded to listen to the secret proposals of the conspirators, which were recommended by the promise of a liberal donative ; and, as they still revered the memory of Julian, they easily consented to support the hereditary claim of his proscribed kinsman. At the dawn of day they were drawn up near the baths of Anastasia, and Procopius, clothed in a purple garment more suitable to a player than to a monarch, appeared, as if he rose from the dead, in the midst of Constantinople. The soldiers, who were prepared for his reception, saluted their trembling prince with shouts of joy and vows of fidelity. Their numbers were soon increased by a sturdy band of peasants collected from the adjacent country, and Procopius, shielded by the arms of his adherents, was successively conducted to the tribunal, the senate, and the palace. During the first moments of his tumultuous reign he was astonished and terrified by the gloomy silence of the people, who were either ignorant of the cause or apprehensive of the event. But his military strength was superior to any actual resistance; the malecontents flocked to the standard of rebellion ; the poor were excited by the hopes, and the rich were intimidated by the fear, of a general pillage ; and the obstinate credulity of the multitude was once more deceived by the promised advantages of a revolution. The magistrates were seized, the prisons and arsenals broke open, the gates and the entrance of the harbour were diligently occupied, and, in a few hours, Procopius became the absolute, though precarious, master of the Imperial city. The usurper improved this unexpected success with

A.D. 365,

34 The uncertain degree of alliance, or consanguinity, is expressed by the words aviy nos, cognatus, consobrinus (see Valesius ad Ammian. xxii. 3). The mother of Procopius might be a sister of Basilina and Count Julian, the mother and uncle of the Apostate. Ducange, Fam. Byzantin. p. 49.

35 Ammian, xxiii. 3, xxvi. 6. He mentions the report with much hesitation: susurravit obscurior fama; nemo enim dicti auctor exstitit verus. It serves, however, to mark that Procopius was a Pagan. Yet his religion does not appear to have promoted, or obstructed, his pretensions.

36 One of his retreats was a country-house of Eunomius, the heretic. The master was absent, innocent, ignorant; yet he narrowly escaped a sentence of death, and was banished into the remote parts of Mauritania (Philostorg. I. ix. c. 5, 8, and Godefroy's Dissert. p. 369-378).

" It may be suspected, from a fragment troversy with Julian, striking the ground of Eunapius, that the heathen and philo- with his staff, incited him to courage with sophic party espoused the cause of Proco- the line of Homer, ülh xipos incorre ris pius. Heraclius, the Cynic, a man who os xvà ófogów sê sian. Eunapius, Mai, had been honoured by a philosophic con. p. 267, or in Niebuhr's edition, p. 73.-M.

some degree of courage and dexterity. He artfully propagated the rumours and opinions the most favourable to his interest, while he deluded the populace by giving audience to the frequent but imaginary ambassadors of distant nations. The large bodies of troops stationed in the cities of Thrace and the fortresses of the Lower Danube were gradually involved in the guilt of rebellion, and the Gothic princes consented to supply the sovereign of Constantinople with the formidable strength of several thousand auxiliaries. His generals passed the Bosphorus, and subdued, without an effort, the unarmed but wealthy provinces of Bithynia and Asia. “After an honourable defence the city and island of Cyzicus yielded to his power, the renowned legions of the Jovians and Herculians embraced the cause of the usurper whom they were ordered to crush, and, as the veterans were continually augmented with new levies, he soon appeared at the head of an army whose valour, as well as numbers, were not unequal to the greatness of the contest. The son of Hormisdas, 37 a youth of spirit and ability, condescended to draw his sword against the lawful emperor of the East, and the Persian prince was immediately invested with the ancient and extraordinary powers of a Roman proconsul. The alliance of Faustina, the widow of the emperor Constantius, who intrusted herself and her daughter to the hands of the usurper, added dignity and reputation to his cause. The princess Constantia, who was then about five years of age, accompanied, in a litter, the march of the army. She was shown to the multitude in the arms of her adopted father, and, as often as she passed through the ranks, the tenderness of the soldiers was inflamed into martial fury :38 they recollected the glories of the house of Constantine, and they declared, with loyal acclamation, that they would shed the last drop of their blood in the defence of the royal infant.39

In the mean while Valentinian was alarmed and perplexed by the doubtful intelligence of the revolt of the East. The difficulties of

37 Hormisdæ maturo juveni Hormisdæ regalis illius filio, potestatem Proconsulis detulit; et civilia, more veterum, et bella, recturo. Ammian. xxvi. 8. The Persian prince escaped with honour and safety, and was afterwards (A.D. 380) restored to the same extraordinary office of proconsul of Bithynia (Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom, v. p. 204). I am ignorant whether the race of Sassan was propagated. I find (A.D. 514) a pope Hormisdas; but he was a native of Frusino, in Italy (Pagi. Brev. Pontific. tom. i. p. 247).

38 The infant rebel was afterwards the wife of the emperor Gratian, but she died young and childless. See Ducange, Fam. Byzantin. p. 48, 59.

30 Sequimini culminis summi prosapiam, was the language of Procopius, who affected to despise the obscure birth and fortuitous election of the upstart Pannonian. Ammian. xxvi. 7.

* Symmachus describes his embarrass- vate foe of the emperor; his first care ment. “The Germans are the common must be victory, his second revenge." enemies of the state, Procopius the pri. Symm. Orat. p. 11.-M.

and death,

of ministerarch wasclination

a German war forced him to confine his immediate care to the safety of his own dominions; and, as every channel of His defeat communication was stopped or corrupted, he listened, and. with doubtful anxiety, to the rumours which were indus- May 28. triously spread that the defeat and death of Valens had left Procopius sole master of the Eastern provinces. Valens was not dead; but on the news of the rebellion, which he received at Cæsarea, he basely despaired of his life and fortune, proposed to negociate with the usurper, and discovered his secret inclination to abdicate the Imperial purple. The timid monarch was saved from disgrace and ruin by the firmness of his ministers, and their abilities soon decided in his favour the event of the civil war. In a season of tranquillity Sallust had resigned without a murmur, but, as soon as the public safety was attacked, he ambitiously solicited the pre-eminence of toil and danger, and the restoration of that virtuous minister to the præfecture of the East was the first step which indicated the repentance of Valens, and satisfied the minds of the people. The reign of Procopius was apparently supported by powerful armies and obedient provinces. But many of the principal officers, military as well as civil, had been urged, either by motives of duty or interest, to withdraw themselves from the guilty scene, or to watch the moment of betraying and deserting the cause of the usurper. Lupicinus advanced by hasty marches to bring the legions of Syria to the aid of Valens. Arintheus, who in strength, beauty, and valour excelled all the heroes of the age, attacked with a small troop a superior body of the rebels. When he beheld the faces of the soldiers who had served under his banner, he commanded them, with a loud voice, to seize and deliver up their pretended leader, and such was the ascendant of his genius that this extraordinary order was instantly obeyed.40 Arbetio, a respectable veteran of the great Constantine, who had been distinguished by the honours of the consulship, was persuaded to leave his retirement, and once more to conduct an army into the field. In the heat of action, calmly taking off his helmet, he showed his grey hairs and venerable countenance, saluted the soldiers of Procopius by the endearing names of children and companions, and exhorted them no longer to support the desperate cause of a contemptible tyrant, but to follow their old commander, who had so

40 Et dedignatus hominem superare certamine despicabilem, auctoritatis et celsi fiduciâ corporis, ipsis hostibus jussit, suum vincire rectorem: atque ita turmarum antesignanus umbratilis comprensus suorum manibus. The strength and beauty of Arintheus, the new Hercules, are celebrated by St. Basil, who supposes that God had created him as an inimitable model of the hunian species. The painters and sculptors could not express his figure: the historians appeared fabulous when they related his exploits (Ammian. xxvi. [c. 8) and Vales. ad loc.).

VOL. III.

« ForrigeFortsett »