Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

formerly Domitius Corbulo, that faithful and wise defender of our provinces, is said to have been slain in the miserable period of Nero's cruelty.

6. And after the matter had been thus arranged, while the men destined for the service of seizing Ursicinus were waiting for the appointed time, the emperor's mind changed co mercy, and so this impious deed was put off for further consideration.

7. Then the engine of calumny was directed against Julian, who had lately been brought to court; a prince who afterwards became memorable, but who was now attacked with a two-fold accusation, as the iniquity of his enemies thought requisite. First, that he had gone from the Park of Macellum, which lies in Cappadocia, into Asia, from a desire of acquiring polite learning. Secondly, that he had seen his brother as he passed through Constantinople.

8. And when he had explained away the charges thus brought against him, and had proved that he had not done either of these things without being ordered, he would still have perished through the intrigues of the abandoned court of flatterers, if he had not been saved by the favour of the supreme Deity, with the assistance of Queen Eusebia. By her intercession he obtained leave to be conducted to the town of Como, in the neighbourhood of Milan; and after he had remained there a short time ho was permitted to go to Greece for the purpose of cultivating his literary tastes, as he was very eager to do.

9. Nor were there wanting other incidents arising out of these occurrences, which might be looked upon as events under the direction of Providence, as some of them were rightly punished, while others failed of their design, proving vain and ineffective. But it occasionally happened that rich men, relying on the protection of those in office, and clinging to them as the ivy clings to lofty trees, bought acquittals at immense prices; and that poor men who had little or no means of purchasing safety were condemned out of hand. And therefore truth was overshadowed by falsehood, and sometimes falsehood obtained the authority of truth.

10. In these days Gorgonius also was summoned to court, the man who had been the Caesor's principal cham

aJ>.3M.] SEVERE TREATMENT OF GALLUS*S FRIENDS. 49

berlain. And ihough it was made plain by his own confession that he had been a partner in his undertakings, and sometimes a chief instigator of them, yet through the conspiracy of the eunuchs justice was overpowered bv dexterously arranged falsehoods, and he was acquitted and so escaped the danger.

III.

§ 1. While these events were taking place at Milan, battalions of soldiers were brought from the East to Aquileia, with a number of members of the court, who, being broken in spirit, while their limbs were enfeebled by the weight of their chains, cursed the protraction of their lives which were surrounded with every variety of misery. For they were accused of having been the ministers of the ferocity of Gallus, and it was believed to be owing to them that Domitian had been torn to pieces, and that Montius and others had been brought to destruction.

2. Arboreus, and Eusebius, at that time high chamberlain, both men of insane arrogance, and equally unjust and cruel, were appointed to try these men. And they, without any careful examination, or making any distinction between the innocent and the guilty, condemned some to scourgings, others to torture and exile, some they adjudged to serve in the lowest ranks of the army, and the rest they condemned to death. And when they had thus filled the sepulchres with dead bodies, they returned as if in triumph, and brought an account of their exploits to the emperor, who was notoriously severe and implacable against all offences of the kind.

3. After this, throughout the rest of his reign, Constantius. as if resolved to reverse the prescribed arrangement of the Fates, behaved with greater violence than ever, and opened his heart to numbers of designing plotters. And owing to this conduct, many men arose who watched for all kinds of reports, at first attacking, as with the appetite of wild beasts, those in the enjoyment of the highest honours and rank, and afterwards both poor and rich indiscriminately. Not like those Cibyratae in the time of Verres,1 fawning on the tribunal of a single lieutenant,

1 Tlepolemns and Hiero, whom Cicero, Verres iii. 11, calls Cibyratici canes.

K

but harassing tho limbs of the whole republic by means of all the evils that arose anywhere.

4. Among these men Paulus and Mercurius were especially conspicuous, the first a Dacian born, the latter a Persian. Mercurius was a notary, and Paulus had been promoted from being a steward of the emperor's table to a receivership in the provinces. Paulus, as l have already mentioned, had been nicknamed The Chain, because in weaving knots of calumnies he was invincible, scattering around foul poisons and destroying poople by various means, as some skilful wrestlers are wont in their contests to catch hold of their antagonists by the heel.

5. Morcurius was nicknamed Count of Dreams, because (as a dog fond of biting secretly fawns and wags his tail whilo full of inward spite) he forced his way into feasts and companies, and if any one in his sleep (when nature roves about with an extraordinary degree of freedom) communicated to a friend that he had seen anything, exaggerated it, colouring it for the most part with envenomed arts, and bore it to the open ears of the emperor. And for such speeches men were attacked with formidable accusations, as if they had committed inexpiable crimes.

6. The news of these events having got abroad, men were so cautious of even relating nocturnal dreams, that, in the presence of a stranger, they would scarcely confess they had slept at all. And some accomplished men lamented that they had not been born in the country of Mount Atlas,1 whore it is said that dreams never occur, though what the cause of such a fact is, we must leave to those who are learned in such matters to decide.

7. Amid all these terrible investigations and punishments, another disaster took place in lllyricum, which from some empty words involved many in danger. At an. entertainment given by Africanus, the governor of tho second Pannonia, at Sirmium, some men having drunk rather too much, and thinking there was no witness of their proceedings, spoke freely of the existing imperial government, accusing it as most vexatious to the people. And somo of them expressed a hope that a change, such as was wished for by all, might be at hand, affirming that

1 Herodotus, iv. 184, records that in Africa, in tho country about Mount Atlas, dreams are unknown.

U.3U.] SLVERE TREATMENT OF GALLUS S FRIENT>S. 61

this was portended by omens, while some, with incredible rashness, affirmed that the auguries of their ancestral house promised the same thing.

8. Among those present at the banquet was Gaudentius, one of the secretaries, a stupid man, and of a hasty disposition. And he looking upon the matter as serious, reported it to Rufinus, who was at that time the chief commander of the guard of the praetorian prefecture, a man always eager for the most cruel measures, and infamous for every kind of wickedness.

9. lie immediately, as if borne on wings, flew to the court of the emperor, and so bitterly inflamed him, always easy of access and susceptible of impressions from suspicious circumstances of this kind, that without a moment's deliberation he oulered Africanus and all who had been partakers of his fatal banquet to be seized. And when this was done, the wicked informer, always fond of whatever is contrary to popular manners, obtained what he most coveted, a continuation of his existing office for two years.

10. To arrest these men, Teutomeres, the chief of the Protectores, was sent with his colleague; and ho loaded them all with chains, and conducted them, as ho had been ordered, to the emperor's court. But when they arrived at Aquileia, Marinus, who from having been a drillmaster had been promoted to a tribuneship, but who at that time had had no particular duty, being a man who had held dangerous language, and who was in other respects of an intemperate disposition, oeing left in an inn while things necessary for the journey were being prepared, stabbed himself with a knife which he accidentally found, and his bowels gushed out, so that he died. The rest were conducted to Milan, and subjected to torture; and having been forced by their agony to confess that while at the banquet they had used some petulant expressions, were ordered to be kept in penal confinement, with some hope, though an uncertain one, of eventual release. But Teutomeres and his colleague, being aocused of having allowed Marinus to kill himself, were condemned to banishment, though they were afterwards pardoned through the intercession of Arbetio.

IV.

§ 1. Soon after this transaction had been thus terminated, war was declared against the tribes of the Allemanni around Lentia,1 who had often made extensive incursions into the contiguous Roman territories. The emperor himself set out on the expedition, and went as far as Rhaetia, and the district of the Canini.* And there, after long and careful deliberation, it was decided to be both honourable and expedient that Arbetio, the master of the horse, should march with a division of the troops, in fact with the greater part of the army, along the borders of the lake of Brigantia, with the object of coming to an immediate engagement with the barbarians. And I will here describe the character of the ground briefly, as well as I can.

2. The Rhine rising among the defiles of lofty mountains, and forcing its way with immense violence through steep rocks, stretches its onward course without receiving any foreign waters, in the same manner as the Nile pours down with headlong descent through the cataracts. And it is so abundantly full by its own natural riches that it would be navigable up to its very source were it not like a torrent rather than a stream.

3. And soon after it has disentangled itself from its defiles, rolling onward between high banks, it enters a vast lake of circular form, which the Rhaetian natives call Brigantia,8 being four hundred and sixty furlongs in length, and of nearly equal extent in breadth, unapproachable on account of a vast mass of dark woods, except where the energy of the Romans has made a wide road through them, in spite of the hostility of the barbarians, and the unfavourable character both of the ground and the climate.

4. The Rhine forcing its way into this pool, and roaring with its foaming eddies, pierces the sluggish quiet of the waters, and rushes through tho middle from one end to tho other. And like an element separated from some other element by eternal discord, without any increase or diminution of the volume of water which it has brought into the lake, it comes forth from it again with its old

1 Lintz. - The district around Bellinzona.

* Tho Bodensec, more generally known as the Lake of Constance: at its south-eastern end is the town of Bregenz, tho ancient Brigantia.

« ForrigeFortsett »