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absolute possession of his enemies. Olympius, who had assumed the dominion of Honorius, was speedily informed, that his rival had embraced, as a suppliant, the altar of the Christian church. The base and cruel disposition of the hypocrite was incapable of pity or remorse; but he piously affected to elude, rather than to violate, the privilege of the sanctuary. Count Heraclian, with a troop of soldiers, appeared, at the dawn of day, before the gates of the church of Ravenna. The bishop was satisfied, by a solemn oath, that the imperial mandate only directed them to secure the person of Stilicho: but, as soon as the unfortunate minister had been tempted beyond the holy threshold, he produced the warrant for his instant execution. Stilicho supported with calm resignation, the injurious names of traitor and parricide; repressed the unseasonable zeal of his followers, who were ready to attempt an ineffectual rescue; and, with a firmness not unworthy of the last of the Roman generals, submitted his neck to the sword of Heraclian.0
Hi S me ^^e serv^e crowd of the palace, who had so r- long adored the fortune of Stilicho, affected to
insult his fall; and the most distant connexion with the master-general of the west, which had so lately been a title to wealth and honours, was studiously denied, and rigorously punished. His family, united by a triple alliance with the family of Theodosius, might envy the condition of the meanest peasant. The flight of his son Eucherius was intercepted; and the death of that innocent youth soon followed the divorce of Thermantia, who filled the place of her sister Maria; and who, like Maria, had remained a virgin in the imperial bed.p The friends of Stilicho, who had
0 Zosimus (lib. 5. p. 336 — 345.) has copiously, though not clearly, related the disgrace and death of Stilicho. Olympiodorus, (apud Phot. p. 177.) Orosius, (lib. 7. c. 38. p. 571, 572.) Sozomen, (lib. 9. c.-4.) and Philostorgius, (lib. 11. c. 3. lib. I'-'- c. 2.) afford supplemental hints.
P Zosimus, lib. 5. p. 333. The marriage of a Christian with two sisters, scandalizes Tillemont, (Hiat. des Empereurs, tom. 5. p. 557.) who expects, in vain, that Pope Innocent I. should have done something in the way, either of censure, or of dispensation.
escaped the massacre of Pavia, were persecuted by the implacable revenge of Olympius: and the most exquisite cruelty was employed to extort the confession of a treasonable and sacrilegious conspiracy. They died in silence: their firmness justified the choice,' and perhaps absolved the innocence, of their patron; and the despotic power, which could take his life without a trial, and stigmatize his memory without a proof, has no jurisdiction over the impartial suffrage of posterity/ The services of Stilicho are great and manifest; his crimes, as they are vaguely stated in the language of flattery and hatred, are obscure, at least, and improbable. . About four months after his death, an edict was published in the name of Honorius, to restore the free communication of the two empires, which had been so long interrupted by the public enemy* The minister, whose fame and fortune depended on the prosperity of the state, was accused of betraying Italy to the barbarians: whom he repeatedly vanquished at Pollentia, at Verona, and before the walls of Florence. His pretended design of placing the diadem on the head of his son Eucherius, could not have been conducted without preparations or accomplices; and the ambitious father would not surely have left the future emperor, till the twentieth year pf his age, in the humble station of tribune of the notaries. Even the religion of Stilicho was arraigned by the malice of his rival. The seasonable, and almost miraculous, deliverance was devoutly celebrated by the applause of the clergy; who asserted, that the restoration of idols, and the persecution of the church, would have been the first measure of the reign of Eucherius. The son of Stilicho, however, was educated in the bosom of Christianity, which his father had uniformly professed, and zealously supported.' Serena had borrowed her magnificent necklace from the statue of Vesta," and the Pagans execrated the memory of the sacrilegious minister, by whose order the Sibylline books, the oracles of Rome, had been committed to the flames.1 The pride and power of Stilicho constituted his real guilt. An honourable reluctance to shed the blood of his countrymen, appears to have contributed to the success of his unworthy rival; and it is the last humiliation of the character of Honorius, that posterity has not condescended to reproach him with his base ingratitude to the guardian of his youth, and the support of his empire.
i 7'wo of his friends are honourably mentioned, (Zosimus, lib. 5. p. 346.) Peter, chief of the school of notaries, and the great chamberlain Deuterius. Stilicho had «ecurnd the bedchamber; and it is surprising, that, under a feeble prince, the bedchamber was not able to secure him.
* Orosins (lib. 7. c. 38. p. 571, 672.) seems to copy the false and furious manifestoes, which were dispersed through the provinces by the new administration.
• See the Theodosian Code, lib. 7. tit. 16. leg. 1. lib. 9. tit. 42. leg. 22. Stilicho is branded with the name of fncdo publicus, who employed Ms wealth ad omnem ditaudam, inquietandamqut barbariem*
VOL. IV. G
The poet Among the train of dependants, whose wealth ciaudian. and dignity attracted the notice of their own times, our curiosity is excited by the celebrated name of the poet Ciaudian, who enjoyed the favour of Stilicho, and was overwhelmed in the ruin of his patron. The titular offices of tribune and notary fixed his rank in the imperial court: he was indebted to the powerful intercession of Serena for his marriage with a very rich heiress of the province of Africa ;y and the statue of Ciaudian, erected in the forum of Trajan, was a monument of the taste and liberality of the Roman senate.* After the praises of Stilicho became offensive and criminal, Claudian was exposed to the enmity of a powerful and unforgiving courtier, whom he had provoked by the insolence of wit. He had compared, in a lively epigram, the opposite characters of two praetorian prefects of Italy; he contrasts the innocent repose of a philosopher, who sometimes resigned the hours of business to slumber, perhaps to study, with the interested diligence of a rapacious minister, indefatigable in the pursuit of unjust, or sacrilegious gain. How happy (continues Claudian), how happy might it be for the people of Italy, if Mallius could be constantly awake, and if Hadrian would always sleep!* The repose of Mallius was not disturbed by his friendly and gentle admonition; but the cruel vigilance of Hadrian watched the opportunity of revenge, and easily obtained, from the enemies of Stilicho, the trifling sacrifice of an obnoxious poet. The poet concealed himself, however, during the tumult of the revolution; and, consulting the dictates of prudence rather than of honour, he addressed, in the form of an epistle, a suppliant and humble recantation to the offended prefect. He deplores, in mournful strains, the fatal indiscretion into which he had been hurried by passion and folly; submits to the imitation of his adversary, the generous examples of the clemency of gods, of heroes, and of lions; and expresses his hope, that the magnanimity of Hadrian will not tram
1 Augustin himself is satisfied with the effectual laws, which Stilicho had enacted against heretics and idolaters; and which are still extant in the Code. He only applies to Olympius for their confirmation. (Baronios. AnnaL Eccles. A.D. 408. No. 19.)
0 Zosimus, lib. 5. p. 351. We may observe the bad taste of the age, in dressing their statues with such awkward finery.
v See Rutilus Numatianus, (Itinerar. lib. 2. 41—60.) to whom religious enthusiasm has dictated some elegant and forcible lines. Stilicho likewise stripped the gold plates from the doors of the Capitol, and read a prophetic sentence, which was engraven under them. (Zosimus, lib. 5. p. :<:>'.) These are foolish stories; yet the charge of impiety adds weight and credit to the praise, which Zosimus reluctantly bestows, of his virtues.
J At the nuptials of Orpheus, (a modest comparison!) all the parts of animated nature contributed their various gifts; and the gods themselves euriched their favourite. Ciaudian had neither flocks, nor herds, nor vines, nor olives. His wealthy bride was heiress to them all. But he carried to Africa, a recommendatory letter from Serena, his Juno, and was made happy. (Epist. 2. ad Serenam.)
* Claudian feels the honour like a man who deserved it. (in pi.ilat. Bell. Get.) The original inscription, on marble, was found at Rome, in the fifteenth century, in die house of Pomponius l,;c-tus. The statue of a poet, far superior to Clandian, • 'njl-i have been erected, during his lifetime, by the men of letters, his countryaai, and contemporaries. It was a noble design!
• See Epigram 30.
Mallius indulget somno noctesque diesque:
Insomnia I'harins sacra, profana, rapit.
Mallius nt v igih't, dormiat ut Pharius.
Hadrian was a Pharian (of Alexandria). See his public life in Godefroy, Cod. dos. tom. 6. p. 364. Mallius did not always sleep. He composed some eledialogues on the Greek systems of natural philosophy. (Claud, in Mall. odor. Cons. 61—112.)
ple on a defenceless and contemptible foe, already humbled by disgrace and poverty; and deeply wounded by the exile, the tortures, and the death, of his dearest friends.1* Whatever might be the success of his prayer, or the accidents of his future life, the period of a few years levelled in the grave the minister and the poet: but the name of Hadrian is almost sunk in oblivion, while Claudian is read with pleasure in every country which has retained, or acquired, the knowledge of the Latin language. If we fairly balance his merits and his defects, we shall acknowledge, that Claudian does not either satisfy, or silence, our reason. It would not be easy to produce a passage that deserves the epithet of sublime or pathetic; to select a verse, that melts the heart, or enlarges the imagination. We should vainly seek, in the poems of Claudian, the happy invention, and artificial conduct, of an interesting fable; or the just and lively representation of the characters and situations of real life. For the service of his patron, he published occasional panegyrics and invectives: and the design of these slavish compositions encouraged his propensity to exceed the limits of truth and nature. These imperfections, however, are compensated in some degree by the poetical virtues of Claudian. He was endowed with the rare and precious talent of raising the meanest, and adorning the most barren, and of diversifying the most similar, topics: his colouring, more especially in descriptive poetry, is soft and splendid; and he seldom fails to display, and even to abuse, the advantages of a cultivated understanding, a copious fancy, an easy, and sometimes forcible, expression; and a perpetual flow of harmonious versification. To these commendations, independent of any accidents of time and place, we must add the peculiar merit which Claudian derived from the unfavourable circumstances
'• See Claudian's first epistle. Yet, in some places, an air of irony and indignation betrays his secret reluctance.