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dress and manners, which, towards the decline of life, he chose to affect, served only to degrade him in the eyes of mankind. The Asiatic pomp, which had been adopted by the pride of Diocletian, assumed an air of softness and effeminacy in the person of Constantine. He is represented with false hair of various colours, laboriously arranged by the skilful artists of the times; a diadem of a new and more expensive fashion; a profusion of gems and pearls, of collars and bracelets, and a variegated flowing robe of silk, most curiously embroidered with flowers of gold. In such apparel, scarcely to be excused by the youth and folly of Elagabalus, we are at a loss to discover the wisdom of an aged monarch, and the simplicity of a Roman veteran/ A mind thus relaxed by prosperity and indulgence, was incapable of rising to that magnanimity which disdains suspicion, and dares to forgive. The deaths of Maximian and Licinius may perhaps be justified by the maxims of policy, as they are taught in the schools of tyrants; but an impartial narrative of the executions, or rather murders, which sullied the declining age of Constantine, will suggest to our most candid thoughts the idea of a prince, who could sacrifice without reluctance the laws of justice, and the feelings of nature, to the dictates either of his passions or of his interest.
His family. ^ne same fortune which so invariably followed the standard of Constantine, seemed to secure the hopes and comforts of his domestic life. Those among his predecessors who had enjoyed the longest and most prosperous reigns, Augustus, Trajan, and Diocletian, had been disappointed of posterity; and the frequent revolutions had never allowed sufficient time for any imperial family to grow up and multiply under the shade of the purple. But the -royalty of the Flavian line, which had been first ennobled by the Gothic Claudius, descended through several generations; and Constantine himself derived from his royal father the hereditary honours which he transmitted to his children. The emperor had been twice married. Minervina, the obscure but" lawful object of his youthful attachment,' had left him only one son who was called Crispus. By Fausta, the daughter of Maximian, he had three daughters, and three sons, known by the kindred names of Constantine, Constantius, and Constans. The unambitious brothers of the great Constantine, Julius Constantius, Dalmatius, and Hannibal ianus,h were permitted to enjoy the most honourable rank, and the most affluent fortune, that could be consistent with a private station. The youngest of the three lived without a name, and died without posterity. His two elder brothers obtained in marriage the daughters of wealthy senators, and propagated new branches of the imperial race. Gallus and Julian afterward became the most illustrious of the children of Julius Constantius, the patrician. The two sons of Dalmatius, who had been decorated with the vain title of Censor, were named Dalmatius and Hannibalianus. The two sisters of the great Constantine, Anastasia and Eutropia, were bestowed on Optatus and Nepotianus, two senators of noble birth and of consular dignity. His third sister, Constantia, was distinguished by her pre-eminence of greatness and of misery. She remained the widow of the vanquished Licinius; and it was by her entreaties, that an innocent boy, the offspring of their marriage, preserved for some time his life, the title of Caesar, and a precarious hope of the succession. Besides the females, and the allies of the Flavian house, ten or twelve males, to whom the language of modern courts would apply the title of princes of the blood, seemed according to the order of their birth, to be destined either to inherit or to support the throne of Con stantine. But in less than thirty years, this numerous and increasing family was reduced to the persons of Constantius and Julian, who alone had survived a series of crimes and calamities, such as the tragic poets have deplored in the devoted lines of Pelops and of Cadmus. Virtues of Crispus, the eldest son of Constantine, and the Cnspus. presumptive heir of the empire, is represented by impartial historians as an amiable and accomplished youth. The care of his education, or at least of his studies, was intrusted to Lactantius, the most eloquent of the Christians; a preceptor admirably qualified to form the taste, and to excite the virtues, of his illustrious disciple.1 At the age of seventeen, Crispus was invested with the title of Caesar, and the administration of the Gallic provinces, where the inroads of the Germans gave him an early occasion of signalizing his military prowess. In the civil war which broke out soon afterward, the father and son divided their powers; and this history has already celebrated the valour as well as conduct displayed by the latter, in forcing the straits of the Hellespont, so obstinately defended by the superior fleet of Licinius. This naval victory contributed to determine the event of the war; and the names of Constantine and of Crispus were united in the joyful acclamations of their eastern subjects, who loudly proclaimed, that the world had been subdued, and was now governed, by an emperor endowed with every virtue; and by his illustrious son, a prince beloved of heaven, and the lively image of his father's perfections. The public favour, which seldom accompanies old age, diffused its lustre over the youth of Crispus. He deserved the esteem, and he engaged the affections, of the court, the army, and the people. The experienced merit of a reigning monarch is acknowledged by his subjects with reluctance, and frequently denied with partial and discontented murmurs; while, from the opening virtues of his successor, they fondly conceive the most unbounded hopes of private as well as public felicity.k
1 Julian, in the Caesars, attempts to ridicule his uncle. His suspicious testimony is confirmed however by the learned Spanheim, with the authority of medals. (See Commentaire, p. 156. Si99. 397. 459.) Eusebius (Orat. c. 5.) alleges, that Constantine dressed for the public, not for himself. Were this admitted, the vainest coxcomb could never want an excuse.
VOL. II. 2 A
:•- Zosimus and Zonaras agree in representing Minervina as the concubine of Con stantine , but Ducange has very gallantly rescued her character, by producing a decisive passage from one of the panegyncs : " Ab ipso fine pueritiae to inatrimonii legibus dedisti."
b Ducange (Familie Byzantine, p. 44.) bestows on him, after Zonaras, the name of Constantine; a name somewhat unlikely, as it was already occupied by the elder brother. That of Hannibalianus is mentioned in the Paschal Chronicle, and is approved by Tillemmit, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. 4. p. 527.
'Jerom. in Chron. The poverty of Lactantius may be applied either to the praise of the disinterested philosopher, or to the shame of the unfeeling patron. See Tillemont, Mem. Ecclesiast. tom. 6. part 1. p. 345. Dnpin, Bibliotheque F.cclesiast. tom. 1. p. 205. Lardner's Credibility of the Gospel History, part t. vol. 7. p. 66.
T ai us This dangerous popularity soon excited the of Con- attention of Constantine, who, both as a father A.D.ls?4, and as a king, was impatient of an equal. InOct'10' stead of attempting to secure the allegiance of his son, by the generous ties of confidence and gratitude, he resolved to prevent the mischiefs which-might be apprehended from dissatisfied ambition. Crispus soon had reason to complain, that while his infant brother Constantius was sent, with the title of Caesar, to reign over his peculiar department of the Gallic provinces,1 he, a prince of mature years, who had performed such recent and signal services, instead of being raised to the superior rank of Augustus, was confined almost a prisoner to his father's court; and exposed, without power or defence to every calumny which the malice of his enemies could suggest. Under such painful circumstances, the royal youth might not always be able to compose his behaviour, or suppress his discontent; and we may be assured, that he was encompassed by a train of indiscreet or perfidious followers, who assiduously studied to inflame, and who were perhaps instructed to betray, the A. D. ass. unguarded warmth of his resentment. An edict Oct. i. of Constantine, published about this time, manifestly indicates his real or affected suspicions, that a secret conspiracy had been formed against his person and government. By all the allurements of honours and rewards, he invites informers of every degree to accuse without exception his magistrates or ministers, his friends or his most intimate favourites, protesting, with a solemn asseveration, that he himself will listen to the charge, that he himself will revenge his injuries; and concluding with a prayer, which discovers some apprehension of danger, that the providence of the Supreme Being may still continue to protect the safety of the emperor and of the empire."
k r.nscb. Hist. Kcclcsiast. lib. 10. c. 9. Eutropius (10. 6.) styles him "egregiom virum;" and Julian (Orat. 1.) very plainly alludes to the exploits of Crispy? in the civil war. See Spanbeim. Comment. p. 92.
1 Compare Idatua and the Paschal Chronicle, with Ammianus, (lib. 14. c. 5.) The year in which Constantius was created Caesar, seems to be more accurately fixed by the two chronologisU; but the historian who lived in his court, could not be ignorant of the day of the anniversary. For the appointment of the new Caesar to the provinces of Gaul, see Julian, Orat. 1. p. 12. Godefroy, Cturonol. Legum, p. 26. and Blondel de la Primaut£ de 1'Eglise, p. 1183.
Disgrace The informers, who complied with so liberal and death an invitation, were sufficiently versed in the arts A. D. 3*6, of courts to select the friends and adherents of y' Crispus as the guilty persons; nor is there any reason to distrust the veracity of the emperor, who had promised an ample measure of revenge and punishment. The policy of Constantine maintained, however, the same appearances of regard and confidence towards a son, whom he began to consider as his most irreconcilable enemy. Medals were struck with the customary vows for the long and auspicious reign of the young Caesar," and as the people, who were not admitted into the secrets of the palace, still loved his virtues, and respected his dignity, a poet, who solicits his recall from exile, adores with equal devotion the majesty of the father and that of the son.0 The time was now arrived for celebrating the august ceremony of the twentieth year of the reign of Constantine; and the emperor, for that purpose, removed his court from Nicomedia to Rome,
m Cod. Theod. lib. 9. tit. 4. Godefroy suspected the secret motives of this law. Comment, tom. S. p. 9.
11 Ducange Farn. Byzant. p. 28. Tillemont, tom. 4. p. 610.
0 His name was Porphyrius Optatianus. The date of his panegyric, written, according to the taste of the age, in vile acrostics, is settled by Scaliger ad Enseb. p. 250. Tillemont, tom. 4. p. 607. and Fabricius Biblioth. Latin, lib. 4. c. 1.