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where the most splendid preparations had been made for his reception. Every eye and every tongue affected to express their sense of the general happiness, and the veil of ceremony and dissimulation was drawn for a while over the darkest designs of revenge and murder. In the midst of the festival, the unfortunate Crispus was apprehended by order of the emperor, who laid aside the tenderness of a father, without assuming the equity of a judge. The examination was short and private;o and, as it was thought decent to conceal the fate of the young prince from the eyes of the Roman people, he was sent under a strong guard to Pola, in Istria, where, soon afterward he was put to death, either by the hand of the executioner, or by the more gentle operation of poison.' The Cæsar Licinius, a youth of amiable manners," was involved in the ruin of Crispus: and the stern jealousy of Constantine was unmoved by the prayers and tears of his favourite sister, pleading for the life of a son; whose rank was his only crime, and whose loss she did not long survive. The story of these unhappy princes, the nature and evidence of their guilt, the forms of their trial, and the circumstances of their death, were buried in mysterious obscurity; and the courtly bishop, who has celebrated in an elaborate work the virtues and piety of his hero, observes a prudent silence on the subject of these tragic events. Such haughty contempt for the
p Zosim. lib. 2. p. 103. Godefroy Chronol. Legum, p. 28. 9 Axpites, without a trial, and most probably the just expression of Suidas. The elder Victor, who wrote under the next reign, speaks with becoming caution. “ Natù grandior incertum quà causà, patris judicio occidisset.” If we consult the succeeding writers, Eutropius, the younger Victor, Orosius, Jerome, Zosimus, Philostorgius, and Gregory of Tours, their knowledge will appear gradually to increase, as their means of information must have diminished; a circumstance which frequently occurs in historical disquisition.
r Ammianus (lib. 14. c. 11.) uses the general expression of peremptum. Codinus (p. 34.) bebeads the young prince; but Sidonius Apollinaris, (epistol. 5. 8.) for the sake perbaps of an antithesis to Fausta's warm bath, chooses to administer a draught of cold poison.
* Sororis filium, commodæ indolis juvenem. Eutropius, 10. 6. May I not be permitted to conjecture, that Crispus had married Helena, the daughter of the emperor Licinius, and that on the happy delivery of the princess, in the year 324, a general pardon was granted by Constantine ? See Ducange, Fam. Byzant. p. 47. and the law (lib. 9. tit. 37.) of the Theodosian Code, wbich has so much embarrassed the interpreters. Godefroy, tom. 3. p. 267.
See the life of Constantine, particularly lib. 2. c. 19, 20. Two hundred and
opinion of mankind, whilst it imprints an indelible stain on the memory of Constantine, must remind us of the very different behaviour of one of the greatest monarchs of the present age. The Czar Peter, in the full possession of despotic power, submitted to the judgment of Russia, of Europe, and of posterity, the reasons which had compelled him to subscribe the condemnation of a criminal, or at least of a degenerate son."
The innocence of Crispus was so universally empress acknowledged, that the modern Greeks, who
adore the memory of their founder, are reduced to palliate the guilt of the parricide, which the common feelings of human nature forbade them to justify. They pretend, that as soon as the afflicted father discovered the falsehood of the accusation by which his credulity had been so fatally misled, he published to the world his repentance and remorse; that he mourned forty days, during which he abstained from the use of the bath, and all the ordinary comforts of life; and that, for the lasting instruction of posterity, he erected a golden statue of Crispus, with this memorable inscription: To my son, whom I unjustly condemned. A tale so moral and so interesting would deserve to be supported by less exceptionable authority; but if we consult the more ancient and authentic writers, they will inform us, that the repentance of Constantine was manifested only in acts of blood and revenge; and that he atoned for the murder of an innocent son, by the execution, perhaps, of a guilty wife. They ascribe the misfortunes of Crispus to the arts of his stepmother Fausta, whose implacable hatred, or whose disappointed love, renewed in the palace of Constantine the ancient tragedy of Hippolitus and of
fifty years afterward, Evagrius (lib. 3. c. 41.) deduced from the silence of Eusebius a vain argument against the reality of the fact.
u Histoire de Pierre le Grand, par Voltaire, part 2. c. 10. * In order to prove that the statue was erected by Constantine, and afterward concealed by the malice of the Arians, Codinus very readily creates (p. 34.) two witnesses, Hippolitus and the younger Herodotus, to whose imaginary histories he appeals with unblushing confidence.
Phædra." Like the daughter of Minos, the daughter of Maximian accused her son-in-law of an incestuous attempt on the chastity of his father's wife; and easily obtained, from the jealousy of the emperor, a sentence of death against a young prince, whom she considered with reason as the most formidable rival of her own children. But Helena, the aged mother of Constantine, lamented and revenged the untimely fate of her grandson Crispus; nor was it long before a real or pretended discovery was made, that Fausta herself entertained a criminal connexion with a slave belonging to the imperial stables." Her condemnation and punishment were the instant consequences of the charge; and the adulteress was suffocated by the steam of a bath, which for that purpose
had been heated to an extraordinary degree." By some it will perhaps be thought, that the remembrance of a conjugal union of twenty years, and the honour of their common offspring, the destined heirs of the throne, might have softened the obdurate heart of Constantine; and persuaded him to suffer his wife, however guilty she might appear, to expiate her offences in a solitary prison. But it seems a superfluous labour to weigh the propriety, unless we could ascertain the truth, of this singular event; which is attended with some circumstances of doubt and perplexity. Those who have attacked, and those who have defended, the character of Constantine, have alike disregarded two very remarkable passages of two orations pronounced under the succeeding reign. The former celebrates the
Zosimus (lib. 2. p. 103.) may be considered as our original. The ingenuity of the modems, assisted by a few hints from the ancients, has illustrated and improved his obscure and imperfect narrative.
z Philostorgius, lib. 2. c. 4. Zosimus (lib. 2. p. 104–116.) imputes to Constantine the death of two wives, of the innocent Fausta, and of an adulteress, who was the mother of his three successors. According to Jerome, three or four years elapsed between the death of Crispus and that of Fausta. The elder Victor is prudently silent.
a If Fausta was put to death, it is reasonable to believe that the private apartments of the palace were the scene of her execution. The orator Chrysostom indulges his fancy by exposing the naked empress on a desert mountain, to be devoured by wild beasts.
virtues, the beauty, and the fortune of the empress Fausta, the daughter, wife, sister, and mother of so many princes. The latter asserts, in explicit terms, that the mother of the younger Constantine, who was slain three years after his father's death, survived to weep over the fate of her son. Notwithstanding the positive testimony of several writers of the Pagan as well as of the Christian religion, there may still remain some reason to believe, or at least to suspect, that Fausta escaped the blind and suspicious cruelty of her husband. The deaths of a son and of a nephew, with the execution of a great number of respectable, and perhaps innocent friends," who were involved in their fall, may be sufficient, however, to justify the discontent of the Roman people, and to explain the satirical verses affixed to the palace-gate, comparing the splendid and bloody reigns of Constantine and Nero. Three
By the death of Crispus, the inheritance of the sons and empire seemed to devolve on the three sons of of Con- Fausta, who have been already mentioned under
the names of Constantine, of Constantius, and of Constans. These young princes were successively invested with the title of Cæsar; and the dates of their promotion may be referred to the tenth, the twentieth, and the thirtieth years of the reign of their father. This conduct, though it tended to multiply the future masters
b Julian. Orat. 1. He seems to call her the mother of Crispus. She might assume that title by adoption. At least, she was not considered as his mortal enemy. Julian compares the fortune of Fausta with that of Parysatis, the Persian queen. A Roman would have more naturally recollected the second Agrippina :
Et moi, qui sur le trone ai suivi mes ancêtres :
Moi, fille, femme, sæur, et mere de vos maitres. c Monod. in Constantin. Jun. c. 4. ad Calcem Eutrop. edit. Havercamp. The orator styles her the most divine and pious of queens.
d Interfecit numerosos amicos. Eutrop. 20. 6.
Sunt hæc gemmea, sed Neroniana. Sidon. Appollinar. 5.8. It is somewhat singular, that these satirical lines should be attributed, not to an obscure libeller, or a disappointed patriot, but to Ablavius, prime-minister and favourite of the emperor. We may now perceive that the imprecations of the Ro. man people were dictated by humanity, as well as by superstition. Zosim. lib. 2.
"Euseb. Orat. in Constantin. c. 3. These dates are sufficiently correct to justify the orator.
of the Roman world, might be excused by the partiality of paternal affection: but it is not easy to understand the motives of the emperor, when he endangered the safety both of his family and of his people, by the unnecessary elevation of his two nephews, Dalmatius and Hannibalianus. The former was raised, by the title of Cæsar, to an equality with his cousins. In favour of the latter, Constantine invented the new and singular appellation of Nobilissimus ;g to which he annexed the flattering distinction of a robe of purple and gold. But of the whole series of Roman princes in any age
of the empire, Hannibalianus alone was distinguished by the title of King; a name which the subjects of Tiberius would have detested, as the profane and cruel insult of capricious tyranny. The use of such a title, even as it appears under the reign of Constantine, is a strange and unconnected fact, which can scarcely be admitted on the joint authority of imperial medals and contemporary writers.
The whole empire was deeply interested in education, the education of these five youths, the acknowledged successors of Constantine. The exercises of the body prepared them for the fatigues of war, and the duties of active life. Those who occasionally mention the education or talents of Constantius, allow that he excelled in the gymnastic arts of leaping and running; that he was a dexterous archer, a skilful horseman, and a master of all the different weapons used
used in the service either of the cavalry or of the infantry. The same assiduous cultivation was bestowed, though not perhaps with equal success, to improve the minds of the sons and
8 Zosim. lib. 2. p. 117. Under the predecessors of Constantine, Nobilissimus was a vague epithet, rather than a legal and determined title.
h Adstruunt nummi veteres ac singulares. Spanheim de Usu Numismat. Dis. sertat. 12. vol. 2. p. 357. Ammianus speaks of this Roman king. (lib. 14. c. 1. and Valesius ad loc.) The Valesian fragment styles him king of kings; and the Paschal Chronicle, (p. 286.) by employing the word Pnya, acquires the weight of Latin evidence.
His dexterity in martial exercise is celebrated by Julian, (Orat. 1. p. 11. Orat. 2. p. 53.) and allowed by Ammianus. (lib. 21. c. 16.)