« ForrigeFortsett »
union* But whenever the offence inspires less horror than the punishment, the rigour of penal law is obliged to give way to the common feelings of mankind. The most odious parts of this edict were softened or repealed in the subsequent reigns ;d and even Constantine himself very frequently alleviated, by partial acts of mercy, the stern temper of his general institutions. Such, indeed, was the singular humour of that emperor, who shewed himself as indulgent, and even remiss, in the execution of his laws, as he was severe, and even cruel, in the enacting of them. It is scarcely possible to observe a more decisive symptom of weakness, either in the character of the prince, or in the constitution of the government.'
Thego_ The civil administration was sometimes inter22 '"Ft6<* by tne military defence of the empire. Crispus, a youth of the most amiable character, who had received with the title of Caesar the command of the Rhine, distinguished his conduct, as well as valour, in several victories over the Franks and Alemanni; and taught the barbarians of that frontier to dread the eldest son of Constantine, and the grandson of Constantius/ The emperor himself had assumed the more difficult and important province of the Danube. The Goths, who in the time of Claudius and Aurelian had felt the weight of the Roman arms, respected the power of the empire, even in the midst of its intestine divisions. But the strength of that warlike nation was now restored by a peace of near fifty years; a new generation had arisen, who no longer remembered the misfortunes of ancient days: the
e See the edict of Constantine, addressed to the Roman people, in the Theodosian code, lib. 9. tit. 24. tom. 3. p. 189.
* His son very fairly assigns tie true reason of the repeal, " Ne sub specie atrociorisjudiciialiqua in ulciscendo orimine dilatio nasceretur." Cod. Theod. tom. 3. p. 193.
- Eusebius (in Vita Constant, lib. 3. c. 1.) chooses to affirm, that in the reign of this hero, the sword of justice hung idle in the hands of the magistrates. Eusebias himself (lib. 4. c. 29. 54.) and the Theodosian code will inform us, that this excessive lenity was not owing to the want either of atrocious criminals, or of penal laws.
'Nazarlus in Panegyr. Vet. 10. The victory of Crispus over the Alemanni is expressed on some medals.
Sarmatians of the lake Mceotis followed the Gothic standard, either as subjects, or as allies; and their united force was poured upon the countries of Illyricum. Campona, Margus, and Bononia, appear to have been the scenes of several memorable sieges and battles ;s and though Constantine encountered a very obstinate resistance, he prevailed at length in the contest, and the Goths were compelled to purchase an ignominious retreat, by restoring the booty and prisoners which they had taken. Nor was this advantage sufficient to satisfy the indignation of the emperor. He resolved to chastise, as well as to repulse, the insolent barbarians who had dared to invade the territories of Rome. At the head of his legions he passed the Danube, after repairing the bridge which had been constructed by Trajan, penetrated into the strongest recesses of Dacia ;h and when he had inflicted a severe revenge, condescended to give peace to the suppliant Goths, on condition that, as often as they were required, they should supply his armies with a body of forty thousand soldiers.' Exploits like these were no doubt honourable to Constantine, and beneficial to the state; but it may surely be questioned, whether they can justify the exaggerated assertion of Eusebius, that all Scythia, as far as the extremity of the north, divided as it was into so many names and nations of the most various and savage manners, had been added by his victorious arms to the Roman empire.k
t See Zosimus, lib. 2. p. 93, 94: though the narrative of that historian is neither clear nor consistent. The panegyric of Optatianus (c. 33.) mentions the alliance of the Sarmatians with the Carpi and Getae, and points out the several fields of battle. It is supposed that the Sarmatian games, celebrated in the month of November, derived their origin from the success of this war.
h In the Caesars of Julian, (p. 329. Commentaire de Spanheim, p. 252.) Constantine boasts, that he had recovered the province (Dacia) which Trajan had subdued. But it is insinuated by Silenus, that the conquests of Constantine were like the gardens of Adonis, which fade and wither almost the moment they appear.
'Jomandes de Rebus (ink-is, c. 21. I know not whether we may entirely depend on his authority. Such an alliance has a very recent air, and scarcely is suited to the maxims of the beginning of the fourth century.
k Eusebius in Vit. Constantin. lib. 1. c. 8. This passage, however, is taken from a general declamation on the greatness of Constantine, and not from any particular account of the Gothic war.
In this exalted state of glory it was impossible civil war that Constantine should any longer endure a
between J ° ,
Comtan- partner in the empire. Confiding in the supeLicinlus. riority of his genius and military power, he deA.D.3S3. termined, without any previous injury, to exert them for the destruction of Licinius, whose advanced age and unpopular vices seemed to offer a very easy conquest.1 But the old emperor, awakened by the approaching danger, deceived the expectations of his friends, as well as of his enemies. Calling forth that spirit and those abilities by which he had deserved the friendship of Galerius and the imperial purple, he prepared himself for the contest, collected the forces of the east, and soon filled the plains of Hadrianople with his troops, and the straits of the Hellespont with his fleet. The army consisted of one hundred and fifty thousand foot, and fifteen thousand horse; and as the cavalry was drawn, for the most part, from Phrygia and Cappadocia, we may conceive a more favourable opinion of the beauty of the horses, than of the courage and dexterity of their riders. The fleet was composed of three hundred and fifty gallies of three ranks of oars. A hundred and thirty of these were furnished by Egypt and the adjacent coast of Africa. A hundred and ten sailed from the ports of Phoenicia and the isle of Cyprus; and the maritime countries of Bithynia, Ionia, and Caria, were likewise obliged to provide a hundred and ten galley s. The troops of Constantine were ordered to rendezvous at Thessalonica: they amounted to above a hundred and twenty thousand horse and foot." Their emperor was satisfied with their martial appearance, and his army contained more soldiers, though fewer men, than that of his eastern competitor. The legions of Constantine were levied in the warlike provinces of Europe; action had confirmed their discipline, victory had elevated their hopes, and there were among them a great number of veterans, who, after seventeen glorious campaigns under the same leader, prepared themselves to deserve an honourable dismission by a last effort of their valour.n But the naval preparations of Constantine were in every respect much inferior to those of Licinius. The maritime cities of Greece sent their respective quotas of men and ships to the celebrated harbour of Piraeus, and their united forces consisted of no more than two hundred small vessels: a very feeble armament, if it is compared with those formidable fleets which were equipped and maintained by the republic of Athens during the Peloponnesian war.0 Since Italy was no longer the seat of government, the naval establishments of Misenum and Ravenna had been gradually neglected; and as the shipping and mariners of the empire were supported by commerce rather than by war, it was natural that they should the most abound in the industrious provinces of Egypt and Asia. It is only surprising that the eastern emperor, who possessed so great a superiority at sea, should have neglected the opportunity of carrying an offensive war into the centre of his rival's dominions.
'Constantinus tamen, vir ingens, et omnia efficerc nitens quae animo pncparaeset, simul principatum totius orbis affectans, Licinio bellum intulit. Eutropius, 10. 5. Zosimus, lib. 2. p. 89. The reasons which they have assigned for the first civil war may, with more propriety, be applied to the second. "Zosimus, lib. 2. p. 91,95.
Battle of Instead of embracing such an active resolution, Hadrian- wliich might have changed the whole face of the A. D. 323, war, the prudent Licinius expected the approach uy of his rival in a camp near Hadrianople, which he had fortified with an anxious care that betrayed his apprehension of the event. Constantine directed his march from Thessalonica towards that part of Thrace, till he found himself stopped by the broad and rapid stream of the Hebrus, and discovered the numerous army of Licinius, which filled the steep ascent of the hill, from the river to the city of Hadrianople. Many days were spent in doubtful and distant skirmishes; but at length the obstacles of the passage and of the attack were removed by the intrepid conduct of Constantine. In this place we might relate a wonderful exploit of Constantine, which, though it can scarcely be paralleled either in poetry or romance, is celebrated, not by a venal orator, devoted to his fortune, but by an historian, the partial enemy of his fame. We are assured that the valiant emperor threw himself into the river Hebrus, accompanied only by twelve horsemen, and that by the effort or terror of his invincible arm, he broke, slaughtered, and put to flight, a host of a hundred and fifty thousand men. The credulity of Zosimus prevailed so strongly over his passion, that among the events of the memorable battle of Hadrianople, he seems to have selected and embellished, not the most important, but the most marvellous. The valour and danger of Constantine are attested by a slight wound which he received in the thigh: but it may be discovered, even from an imperfect narration, and perhaps a corrupted text, that the victory was obtained no less by the conduct of the general than by the courage of the hero; that abody of five thousand archers marched round to occupy a thick wood in the rear of the enemy, whose attention was diverted by the construction of a bridge, and that Licinius, perplexed by so many artful evolutions, was reluctantly drawn from his advantageous post to combat on equal ground in the plain. The contest was no longer equal. His confused multitude of new levies was easily vanquished by the experienced veterans of the west. Thirty-four thousand men are reported to have been slain. The fortified camp of Licinius was taken by assault the evening of the battle; the greater part of the fugitives, who had retired to the
n Constantine was very attentive to the privileges and comforts of his fellow veterans (Conveterani), as he now began to style them. See the Theodosian code, lib. 7. tit. 20. torn. 2. p. 419. 489.
0 Whilst the Athenians maintained the empire of the sea, their fleet consisted of three, and afterward of four, hundred galleys of three ranks of oar's, all completely equipped and ready for immediate service. The arsenal in the port of Piraeus had cost the republic a thousand talents, about 216.000J. See Thucydides de Bel. Pelopon. lib. 2. c. 13. and Meunius de Fortuna Attica, c. 19.