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mous arts (added Diocletian), the best and wisest princes are sold to the venal corruption of their courtiers.' A just estimate of greatness, and the assurance of immortal fame, improve our relish for the pleasures of retirement; but the Roman emperor had filled too important a character in the world to enjoy without allay the comforts and security of a private condition. It was impossible that he could remain ignorant of the troubles which afflicted the empire after his abdication. It was impossible that he could be indifferent to their consequences. Fear, sorrow, and discontent, sometimes pursued him into the solitude of Salona. His tenderness, or at least his pride, was deeply wounded by the misfortunes of his wife and daughter; and the last moments of Diocletian were imbittered by some affronts, which Licinius and Constantine might have spared the father of so many emperors, and the first author of their own and death, fortune. A report, though of a very doubtful A.D.313. nature, has reached our times, that he prudently withdrew himself from their power by a voluntary death/
Descrip- Before we dismiss the consideration of the life tion of anci character of Diocletian, we may, for a mo
Salona '»i •
and the ment, direct our view to the place of his retirecountry.* ment. Salona, a principal city of his native provjnce of Dalmatia, was near two hundred Roman miles (according to the measurement of the public highways) from Aquileia and the confines of Italy, and about two hundred and seventy from Surmium, the usual residence of the emperors whenever they visited the Illyrian frontier.2 A miserable village still preserves the name of Salona; but so late as the sixteenth century, the remains of a theatre, and a confused prospect of broken arches and marble columns, continued to attest its ancient splendour." About six or seven miles from the city, Diocletian constructed a magnificent palace; and we may infer from the greatness of the work, how long he had meditated his design of abdicating the empire. The choice of a spot, which united all that could contribute either to health or to luxury, did not require the partiality of a native. The soil was dry and fertile, the air impure and wholesome; and, though extremely hot during the summer months, this country seldom feels those sultry and noxious winds, to which the coast of Istria and some parts of Italy are exposed. The views from the palace are no less beautiful than the soil and climate were inviting. Towards the west lies the fertile shore that stretches along the Hadriatic, in which a number of small islands are scattered in such a manner as to give this part of the sea the appearance of a great lake. On the north side lies the bay which led to the ancient city of Salona; and the country beyond it, appearing in sight, forms a proper con trast to that more extensive prospect of water which the Hadriatic presents both to the south and to the east. Towards the north, the view is terminated by high and irregular mountains, situated at a proper, distance, and, in many places, covered with villages, woods, and vineyards* Of Diode- Though Constantine, from a very obvious tian's pa- prejudice, affects to mention the palace of Diocletian with contempt,0 yet one of their successors, who could only see it in a neglected and mutilated state, celebrates its magnificence in terms of the highest admiration.*1 It covered an extent of ground consisting of between nine and ten English acres. The form was quadrangular, flanked with sixteen towers. Two of the sides were near six hundred, and the other two near seven hundred, feet in length. The whole was constructed of a beautiful freestone, extracted from the neighbouring quarries of Trau or Tragutiurn, and very little inferior to marble itself. Four streets, intersecting each other at right angles, divided the several parts of this great edifice; and the approach to the principal apartment was from a very stately entrance, which is still denominated the Golden Gate. The approach was terminated by a peristylium of granite columns, on one side of which we discover the square temple of JEscnlapius, on the other the octagon temple of Jupiter. The latter of those deities Diocletian revered as the patron of his fortunes, the former as the protector of his health. By comparing the present remains with the precepts of Vitruvius, the several parts of the building, the baths, bedchamber, the atrium, the basilica, and the Cyzicene, Corinthian, and Egyptian halls, have been described with some degree of precision, or at least of probability. Their forms were various, their proportions just; but they were all attended with two imperfections, very repugnant to our modern notions of taste and convenience. These stately rooms had neither windows nor chimneys. They were lighted from the top (for the building seems to have consisted of no more than one story), and they received their heat by the help of pipes that were conveyed along the walls. The range of principal apartments was protected towards the south-west by a portico of five hundred and seventeen feet long, which must have formed a very noble and delightful walk, when the beauties of painting and sculpture were added to those of the prospect.
* Hist . August- p. 223,224. Vopiscus had learned this conversation from his father.
I The younger Victor slightly mentions the report. But as Diocletian had disobliged a powerful and successful party, his memory has been loaded with every crime and misfortune. It has been affirmed that he died raving mad, that he was condemned as a criminal by the Roman senate, &e.
* See the Itinerar. p. 269. 278. Edit. Wessel.;
* The abate Fortis, in his Viaggio in Dalmazia, p. 43. (printed at Venice in the year 1774, in two small volumes in quarto), quotes a MS. account of the antiquities of Salona, composed by Giambattista Giustiniani about the middle of the sixteenth century.
» Adams's Antiquities of Diocletian's Palace at Spalatro, p. 6. We may add a' circumstance or two from the abate Fortis: the little stream of the Hynder, mentioned by Lucan, produces most excellent trout, which a sagacious writer, perhaps' a monk, supposes to have been one of the principal reasons that determined Diocletian in the choice of his retirement. Fortis, p. 45. The same author (p. 38.) observes, that a taste for agriculture is reviving at Spalatro; and that an experimental farm has lately been established near the city by a society of gentlemen.
e Constant in. Orat. ad Cortum Sanct. c. 25. In this sermon, the emperor, or the bishop who composed it for him, affects to relate the miserable end of all the persecutors of the church.
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Had this magnificent edifice remained in a solitary country, it would have been exposed to the ravages of time; but it might, perhaps, have escaped the rapacious industry of man. The village of Aspalathus," and, long afterward, the provincial town of Spalatro, had grown out of its ruins. The Golden Gate now opens into the market-place. St. John the Baptist has usurped the honours of ^Esculapius; and the temple of Jupiter, under the protection of the Virgin, is converted into the cathedral church. For this account of Diocletian's palace, we are principally indebted to an ingenious artist of our own time and country, whom a very liberal curiosity carried into the heart of Dalmatia/ But there is room to suspect, that the elegance of his designs and engraving has somewhat flattered the objects which it was their Decline of purpose to represent. We are informed by a1 the arts. more recent and very judicious traveller, that the awful ruins of Spalatro are not less expressive of the decline of the arts, than of the greatness of the Roman empire in the time of Diocletian.8 If such was indeed the state of architecture, we must naturally believe that painting and sculpture had experienced a still more sensible decay. The practice of architecture is directed by a few general and even mechanical rules. But sculpture, and, above all, painting, propose to themselves the imitation not only of the forms of nature, but of the characters and passions of the human soul. In those sublime arts, the dexterity of the hand is of little avail, unless it is animated by fancy, and guided by the most correct taste and observation.
It is almost unnecessary to remark, that the civil distractions of the empire, the licence of the soldiers, the inroads of the barbarians, and the progress of despotism, had proved very unfavourable to genius, and even to learning. The succession of Illyrian princes restored the empire, without restoring the sciences. Their military education was not calculated to inspire them with a love of letters; and even the mind of Diocletian, however active and capacious in business, was totally uninformed by study or speculation. The professions of law and physic are of such common use and certain profit, that they will always secure a sufficient number of practitioners, endowed with a reasonable degree of abilities and knowledge; but it does not appear that the students in those two faculties appeal to any celebrated masters who have flourished within that period. The voice of poetry was silent. History was reduced to dry and confused abridgments, alike destitute of amusement and instruction. A languid and affected eloquence was still retained in the pay and service of the emperors, who encouraged not any arts except those which contributed to the gratification of their pride, or the defence of their power.h
e D'Anville, Geographie Ancienno, torn. 1. p. 162.
1MessieuTes Adam and Clarisseau, attended by two draughtsmen, visited Spalatro in the month of July, 1737. The magnificent work which their journey produced, was published in London seven years afterward.
> I shall quote the words of the abate Fortis. " E'bastevolmente nota agli amaton dell' Architettura, e dell' Antichita, 1'opera del signor Adams, che a donato molto a que' superbi vestigi coll' abituale eleganza del suo toccalapis e de! bolintr. In generale la rozzezza del scalpello, e'l cativo gusto del secolo vi gareggiano colla magnificenza del fabricato." See Viaggio in Dalmazia, p. 40.
The new The declining age of learning and of manpiatonists.kind is marked, however, by the rise and happy progress of the new Platonists. The school of Alexandria silenced those of Athens; and the ancient sects enrolled themselves under the banners of the more fashionable teachers, who recommended their system by the novelty of their method, and the austerity of their manners. Several of these masters, Ammonius, Plotinus, Amelius, and Porphyry,1 were men of profound
* The orator Eumenius was secretary to the emperors Marimian and Constantius, and professor of rhetoric in the college of Autun. His salary was six hundred thousand sesterces, which, according to the lowest computation of that age, must have exceeded .'OiKM. a year. He generously requested the permission of employing it in rebuilding the college. See his Oration de Restaurandis Scbolis; which, though not exempt from vanity, may atone for his panegyrics.
1 Porphyry died about the time of Diocletian's abdication. The life of his mac ter Plotinus, which he composed, will give us the most complete idea of the genius of the sect and the manners of its professors. This very curious piece is inserted in Tabricius, Bibliotheca Graeca, tom. 4. p. 88—148.