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the nations the vigour and activity of a spirit worthy to command. He passed the Alps in the depth of winter; descended the stream of the Rhine, from the fortress of Basil to the marshes of Batavia; reviewed the state of the garrisons ; repressed the enterprises of the Germans; and, after establishing along the banks a firm and honourable peace, returned with incredible speed to the palace of Milan.d The person and court of Honorius were subject to the master-general of the west; and the armies and provinces of Europe obeyed, without hesitation, a regular authority, which was exercised in the name of their young sovereign. Two rivals only remained to dispute the claims, and to provoke the vengeance, of Stilicho. Within the limits of Africa, Gildo; the Moor, maintained a proud and dangerous independence; and the minister of Constantinople asserted his equal reign over the emperor, and the empire, of the east.
The fail 'The impartiality which Stilicho affected, as the common guardian of the royal brothers, en
A. D, 395. gaged him to regulate the equal division of the arms, the jewels, and the magnificent wardrobe and furniture of the deceased emperor.' But the most important object of the inheritance consisted of the numerous legions, cohorts, and squadrons of Romans, or barbarians, whom the event of the civil war had united under the standard of Theodosius. The various multitudes of Europe and Asia, exasperated by recent animosities, were overawed by the authority of a single man; and the rigid discipline of Stilicho protected the land of the citizens from the rapine of the licentious soldiers/ Anxious, however, and impatient,
•* S«e Claudian, (1. Cons. Stilich. 1. 188—242.) but he must allow more than fifteen days for the joumey and retum between Milan and Leyden.
• 1. Coos. Stilich. 2. 88 — 94. Not only the robes and diadem of the deceased emperor, but even the helmets, sword-hilts, belts, cuirasses, &c. were enriched with pearls, emeralds, and diamonds.
'- Tan toque remoto Principe, mut.tt.is orbis non sensit habenas. This high commendation (1. Cons. Stil. 1.149.) may be justified by the fears of the
to relieve Italy from the presence of this formidable host, which could be useful only on the frontiers of the empire, he listened to the just requisition of the minister of Arcadius, declared his intention of reconducting in person the troops of the east; and dexterously employed the rumour of a Gothic tumult, to conceal his private designs of ambition and revenge.8 The guilty soul of Rufinus was alarmed by the approach of a warrior and a rival, whose enmity he deserved; he computed, with increasing terror, the narrow space of his life and greatness; and, as the last hope of safety, he interposed the authority of the emperor Arcadius. Stilicho, who appears to have directed his march along the sea-coast of the Hadriatic, was not far distant from the city of Thessalonica, when he received a peremptory message, to recall the troops of the east, and to declare that his nearer approach would be considered, by the Byzantine court, as an act of hostility. The prompt and unexpected obedienqe of the general of the west, convinced the vulgar of his loyalty and moderation; and, as he had already engaged the affection of the eastern troops, he recommended to their zeal the execution of his bloody design, which might be accomplished in his absence, •with less danger perhaps, and with less reproach. Stilicho left the command of the troops of the east to Gainas, the Goth, on whose fidelity he firmly relied; with an assurance, at least, that the hardy barbarian would never be diverted from his purpose by any consideration of fear or remorse. The soldiers were easily persuaded to punish the enemy of Stilicho, and of Rome; and such was the general hatred which Rufinus had excited, that the fatal secret, communicated to thousands, was faithfully preserved during the long march from Thessalonica to the gates of Constantinople. As soon as they had resolved his death, they condescended to flatter his pride; the ambitious prefect was seduced to believe, that those powerful auxiliaries might be tempted to place the diadem on his head; and the treasures which he distributed, with a tardy and reluctant hand, were accepted by the indignant multitude, as an insult rather than as a gift. At the distance of a mile from the capital, in the field of Mars, before the palace of Hebdomon, the troops halted; and the emperor, as well as his minister, advanced, according to ancient custom, respectfully to salute the power, which supported their throne. As Rufinus passed along the ranks, and disguised with studied courtesy, his innate haughtiness, the wings insensibly wheeled from the right and left, and inclosed the devoted victim within the circle of their arms. Before he could reflect on the danger of his situation, Gainas gave the signal of death; a daring and forward soldier plunged his sword into the breast of the guilty prefect, and Rufinus fell, groaned, and expired, at the feet of the affrighted emperor. If the agonies of a moment could expiate the crimes of a whole life, or if the outrages inflicted on a breathless corpse could be the object of pity, our humanity might perhaps be affected by the horrid circumstances which accompanied the murder of Rufinus. His mangled body was abandoned to the brutal fury of the populace of either sex, who hastened in crowds from every quarter of the city, to trample on the remains of the haughty minister, at whose frown they had so lately trembled. His right hand was cut off and carried through the streets of Constantinople, in cruel mockery, to extort contributions for the avaricious tyrant, whose head was publicly exposed, borne aloft on the point of a long lance.11 According to the savage maxims of the Greek republics, his innocent
dying emperor, (de Bell. Gildon. 292—301.) and the peace and good order which were enjoyed after his death, (1. Cons. Stil.-l. 150—168.)
r Stilicho's march, and the death of Rufinus, are described by Claudian, (m Rufin. lib. 2. 101—453.) Zosimus, (lib. 5. p. 296, 297.) Sozomen, (lib. 8. c. 1.) Socrates, (lib. 6. c. 1.) Philostorgius, (lib. 11. c. 3. with Godefroy, p. 441.) and tha Chronicle of Marcellinus.
* The diaectim of Kulimis, whichClaudian performs with the savage coolness of an anatomist, (in Rufin. 2. 405—415.) is likewise specified by Zosimus and Jerome, (tom. 1. p. 26.)
VOL. IV. C
family would have shared the punishment of his crimes. The wife and daughter of Rufinus were indebted for their safety to the influence of religion. Her sanctuary protected them from the raging madness of the people; and they were permitted to spend the remainder of their lives in the exercises of Christian devotion, in the peaceful retirement of Jerusalem.'
Discord af ^ne serv^e Poet of Stilicho applauds, with the two ferocious ioy, this horrid deed, which, in the
empires. . J , „. . , , ,
A.d. 396, execution, perhaps, 01 justice, violated every law of nature and society, profaned the majesty of the prince, and renewed the dangerous examples of military licence. The contemplation of the universal order and harmony had satisfied Claudian of the existence of the Deity; but the prosperous impunity of vice appeared to contradict his moral attributes; and the fate of Rufinus was the only event which could dispel the religious doubts of the poet.k Such an act might vindicate the honour of Providence, but it did not much contribute to the happiness of the people. In less than three months they were informed of the maxims of the new administration, by a singular edict, which established the exclusive right of the treasury over the spoils of Rufinus; and silenced, under heavy penalties, the presumptuous claims of the subjects of the eastern empire, who had been injured by his rapacious tyranny.1 Even Stilicho did not derive, from the murder of his rival, the fruit which he had proposed; and though he gratified his revenge, his ambition was disappointed. Under the name
1 The Pagan Zosimus mentions their sanctuary and pilgrimage. The sister of i Rufinus, Sylvania, who passed her life in Jerusalem, is famous in monastic history.
1. The studious virgin had diligently, and even repeatedly, perused the commentators on the Bible, Origen, Gregory, Basil, &c. to the amount of five millions of lines.
2. At tire age of threescore, she could boast, that she had never washed her hands, face, or any part of her whole body, except the tips of her fingers, to receive the communion. See the Vitae Patrum, p. 779. 977.
k See the beautiful exordium of his invective against Rufinus, which is curiously discussed by the sceptic Bayle, Dictionnaire Critique, Ruffin. Not. E.
1 See the Theodosian Code, lib. 9. tit. 42. leg. 14,15. The new ministers attempted, with inconsistent avarice, to seize the spoils of their predecessor, and to provide for their own future security.
of a favourite, the weakness of Arcadius required a master; but he naturally preferred the obsequious arts of the eunuch Eutropius, who had obtained his domestic confidence; and the emperor contemplated, with terror and aversion, the stern genius of a foreign warrior. Till they were divided by the jealousy of power, the sword of Gainas, and the charms of Eudoxia, supported the favour of the great chamberlain of the palace: the perfidious Goth, who was appointed master-general of the east, betrayed, without scruple, the interest of his benefactor; and the same troops, who had so lately massacred the enemy of Stilicho, were engaged to support, against him, the independence of the throne of Constantinople. The favourite of Arcadius fomented a secret and irreconcilable war against a formidable hero, who aspired to govern, and to defend, the two empires of Rome, and the two sons of Theodosius. They incessantly laboured, by dark and treacherous machinations, to deprive him of the esteem of the prince, the respect of the people, and the friendship of the barbarians. The life of Stilicho was repeatedly attempted by the dagger of hired assassins; and a decree was obtained, from the senate of Constantinople, to declare him an enemy to the republic, and to confiscate his ample possessions in the provinces of the east. At a time when the only hope of delaying the ruin of the Roman name, depended on the firm union, and reciprocal aid, of all the nations to whom it had been gradually communicated, the subjects of Arcadius and Honorius were instructed, by their respective masters, to view each other ua a foreign, and even hostile, light; to rejoice in their mutual calamities, and to embrace, as their faithful allies, the barbarians, whom they excited to invade the territories of their countrymen."1 The natives of Italy affected to despise the servile and effeminate Greeks of Byzan
• See Ciaudian (1 Cons. Stilich. lib. 1.275. 29Z. 296. lib. 2. 83.) and /opiums. lib. 5. p. 302.