« ForrigeFortsett »
tium, who presumed to imitate the dress, and to usurp the dignity, of Roman senators;" and the Greeks had not yet forgot the sentiments of hatred and contempt, which their polished ancestors had so long entertained for the rude inhabitants of the west. The distinction of two governments, which soon produced the separation of two nations, will justify my design of suspending the series of the Byzantine history, to prosecute, without interruption, the disgraceful, but memorable, reign of Honorius. Revolt of The prudent Stilicho, instead of persisting to Gildo in force the inclinations of a prince and people who Africa. A. D. 386 rejected his government, wisely abandoned Ar-398
cadius to his unworthy favourites; and his reluctance to involve the two empires in a civil war, displayed the moderation of a minister who had so often signalized his military spirit and abilities. But if Stilicho had any longer endured the revolt of Africa, he would have betrayed the security of the capital, and the majesty of the western emperor, to the capricious insolence of a Moorish rebel. Gildo, the brother of the tyrant Firmus, had preserved, and obtained, as the reward of his apparent fidelity, the immense patrimony which was forfeited by treason; long and meritorious service, in the armies of Rome, raised him to the dignity of a military count; the narrow policy of the court of Theodosius had adopted the mischievous expedient of supporting a legal government by the interest of a powerful family; and the brother of Firmus was invested with the command of Africa. His ambition soon usurped the administration of justice, and of the finances, without account, and without control; and he maintained, during a reign of twelve years, the possession of an office from which it was impossible to remove him, without the danger of a civil war. During those twelve years, the province of Africa groaned under the dominion of a tyrant, who seemed to unite the unfeeling temper of a stranger, with the partial resentments of domestic faction. The forms of law were often superseded by the use of poison; and if the trembling guests, who were invited to the table of Gildo, presumed to express their fears, the insolent suspicion served only to excite his fury, and he loudly summoned the ministers of death. Gildo alternately indulged the passions of avarice and lust;" and if his days were terrible to the rich, his nights were not less dreadful to husbands and parents. The fairest of their wives and daughters were prostituted to the embraces of the tyrant; and afterward abandoned to a ferocious troop of barbarians and assassins, the black, or swarthy, natives of the desert; whom Gildo considered as the only guardians of his throne. In the civil war between Theodosius and Eugenius, the count, or rather the sovereign, of Africa, maintained a haughty and suspicious neutrality; refused to assist either of the contending parties with troops or vessels, expected the declaration of fortune, and reserved for the conqueror, the vain professions of his allegiance. Such professions would not have satisfied the master of the Roman world; but the death of Theodosius, and the weakness and discord of his sons, confirmed the power of the Moor; who P Instat terribilis vivis, morientibus hares, Virginibus raptor, thalamis obscaenus adulter. Nulla quies: oritur praeda cessante libido, Divitibusque dies, et nox metuenda maritis. auris clarissima quaeque Fastidita datur. Baronius condemns, still more severely, the licentiousness of Gildo; as his wife,
n Claudian turns the consulship of the eunuch Eutropius into a national reflection, (lib. 2. 134.)
- Plaudentem cerne senatum
O patribus plebes, 0 digni consule patres. It is curious to observe the first symptoms of jealousy and schism between old and new Rome, between the Greeks and Latins.
Claudian may have exaggerated the vices of Gildo; but his Moorish extraction, his notorious actions, and the complaints of St. Augustin, may justify the poet's invectives. Baronius (Annal. Eccles. A. D. 398. no. 35-56.) has treated the African rebellion with skill and learning.
his daughter, and his sister, were examples of perfect chastity. The adulteries of the African soldiers are checked by one of the imperial laws.
condescended, as a proof of his moderation, to abstain from the use of the diadem, and to supply Rome with the customary tribute, or rather subsidy, of corn. In every division of the empire, the five provinces of Africa were invariably assigned to the west; and Gildo had consented to govern that extensive country in the name of Honorius; but his knowledge of the character and designs of Stilicho, soon engaged him to address his homage to a more distant and feeble sovereign. The ministers of Arcadius embraced the cause of a perfidious rebel; and the delusive hope of adding the numerous cities of Africa to the empire of the east, tempted them to assert a claim, which they were incapable of supporting, either by reason or by arms.
When Stilicho had given a firm and decisive He is condemned by answer to the pretensions of the Byzantine senate court, he solemnly accused the tyrant of Africa
D.397. before the tribunal, which had formerly judged the kings and nations of the earth; and the image of the republic was revived, after a long interval, under the reign of Honorius. The emperor transmitted an accurate and ample detail of the complaints of the provincials and the crimes of Gildo, to the Roman senate; and the members of that venerable assembly were required to pronounce the condemnation of the rebel. Their unanimous suffrage declared him the enemy of the republic; and the decree of the senate added a sacred and legitimate sanction to the Roman arms." A people, who still remembered, that their ancestors had been the masters of the world, would have applauded, with conscious pride, the representation of ancient freedom; if they had not long since been accustomed
9 Inque tuam sortem numerosas transtulit urbes. Claudian (de Bell. Gildonico, 230_324.) has touched, with political delicacy, the intrigues of the Byzantine court, which are likewise mentioned by Zosimus, (lib. 5. p. 302.)
Symmachus (lib. 4. epist. 4.) expresses the judicial forms of the senate ; and Claudian (1 Cons. Stilich. lib. 1. 325, &c.) seems to feel the spirit of a Roman.
to prefer the solid assurance of bread, to the unsubstantial visions of liberty and greatness. The subsistence of Rome depended on the harvests of Africa ; and it was evident, that a declaration of war would be the signal of famine. The prefect Symmachus, who presided in the deliberations of the senate, admonished the minister of his just apprehension, that as soon as the revengeful Moor should prohibit the exportation of corn, the tranquillity, and perhaps the safety, of the capital, would be threatened by the hungry rage of a turbulent multitude. The prudence of Stilicho conceived, and executed, without delay, the most effectual measure for the relief of the Roman people. A large and seasonable supply of corn, collected in the inland provinces of Gaul, was embarked on the rapid stream of the Rhone, and transported, by an easy navigation, from the Rhone to the Tiber. During the whole term of the African war, the granaries of Rome were continually filled, her dignity was vindicated from the humiliating dependance, and the minds of an immense people were quieted by the calm confidence of peace and plenty
The cắuse of Rome, and the conduct of the. The Afri can war. African war, were intrusted by Stilicho, to a A. D. 398,
ve general, active and ardent to avenge his private injuries on the head of the tyrant. The spirit of discord, which prevailed in the house of Nabal, had excited a deadly quarrel between two of his sons, Gildo and Mascezel." The usurper pursued, with implacable rage, the life of his younger brother, whose courage and abilities he feared ; and Mascezel, oppressed by the superior power, took refuge in the court of Milan;
• Claudian finely displays these complaints of Symmachus, in a speech of the goddess of Rome, before the throne of Jupiter, (de Bell. Gildon. 28–128.)
"See Claudian. (in Eutrop. lib. 1. 401, &c. 1. Cons. Stil. lib. 1. 306, &c. 2. Cons. Stilich. 91, &c.)
"He was of a mature age, since he had formerly (A. D. 373.) served against his brother Firmus. (Ammian. 29. 5.) Claudian, who understood the court of Milan, dwells on the injuries, rather than the merits, of Mascezel, (de Bell. Gild. 389–414.) The Moorish war was not worthy of Honorius or Stilicho, &c.
where he soon received the cruel intelligence, that his two innocent and helpless children had been murdered by their inhuman uncle. The affliction of the father was suspended only by the desire of revenge. The vigilant Stilicho already prepared to collect the naval and military forces of the western empire; and he had resolved, if the tyrant should be able to wage an equal and doubtful war, to march against him in person. But as Italy required his presence, and as it might be dangerous to weaken the defence of the frontier, he judged it more advisable, that Mascezel should attempt this arduous adventure, at the head of a chosen body of the Gallic veterans, who had lately served under the standard of Eugenius. These troops, who were exhorted to convince the world that they could subvert, as well as defend, the throne of a usurper, consisted of the Jovian, the Herculian, and the Augustan, legions ; of the Nervian auxiliaries ; of the soldiers, who displayed in their banners the symbol of a lion, and of the troops which were distinguished by the auspicious names of Fortunate and Invincible. Yet such was the smallness of their establishments, or the difficulty of recruiting, that these seven bands, of high dignity and reputation in the service of Rome, amounted to no more than five thousand effective men. The fleet of galleys and transports sailed in tempestuous weather from the port of Pisa, in Tuscany, and steered their course to the little island of Capraria; which had borrowed that name from the wild goats, its original inhabitants, whose place was now occupied by a new colony of a strange and savage appearance. The whole island (says the ingenious traveller of those times) is
x Claudian, Bell. Gild. 415–423. The change of discipline allowed him to use indifferently, the names of Legio, Cohors, Manipulus. See the Notitia Imperii S. 38.40.
y Orosius (lib. 7. c. 36. p. 565.) qualifies this account with an expression of doubt; (ut aiunt) and it scarcely coincides with the duvapeis adeas of Zosimus, (lib. 5. p. 303.) Yet Claudian, after some declamation about Cadmus's soldiers, frankly owns, that Stilicho sent a small army; lest the rebel should fly, ne timeare times, (1 Cons. Stilich. lib. 1. 314, &c.)