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hope from the doubtful chance of war.b The offers of Galerius were rejected with firmness; his perfidious friendship refused with contempt; and it was not long before he discovered, that, unless he provided for his safety by a timely retreat, he had some reason to apprehend the fate of Severus. The wealth which the Romans defended against his rapacious tyranny, they freely contributed for his destruction. The name of Maximian, the popular arts of his son, the secret distribution of large sums, and the promise of still more liberal rewards, checked the ardour, and corrupted the fidelity, of the Illyrian legions; and when Galerius at length gave the signal of the retreat, it was with some difficulty that he could prevail on his veterans not to desert a banner which had so often conducted them to victory and honour. A contemporary writer assigns two other causes for the failure of the expedition; but they are both of such a nature, that a cautious historian will scarcely venture to adopt them. We are told that Galerius, who had formed a very imperfect notion of the greatness of Rome by the cities of the east with which he was acquainted, found his forces inadequate to the siege of that immense capital. But the extent of a city serves only to render it more accessible to the enemy; Rome had long since been accustomed to submit on the approach of a conqueror; nor could the temporary enthusiasm of the people have long contended against the discipline and valour of the legions. We are likewise informed, that the legions themselves were struck with horror and remorse, and that those pious sons of the republic refused to violate the sanctity of their venerable parent.0 But when we recollect with how much ease, in the more ancient civil wars, the zeal of party, and the habits of military obedience, had converted the native citizens of Rome into her most implacable enemies, we shall be inclined to distrust this extreme delicacy of strangers and barbarians, who had never beheld Italy till they entered it in a hostile manner. Had they not been restrained by motives of a more interested nature, they would probably have answered Galerius in the words of Caesar's veterans; If our general wishes to lead us to the banks of the Tyber, we are prepared to trace out his camp. Whatsoever walls he has determined to level with the ground, our hands are ready to work the engines: nor shall we hesitate, should the name of the city be Rome itself. These are indeed the expressions of a poet who has been distinguished and even censured for his strict adherence to the truth of history.d
b With regard to tins negotiation, see the fragments of an anonymous historian, published by Valesius at the end of his addition of Ammianus Marcellinus, p. 711. These fragments have furnished us with several curious, and, as it should seem, authentic anecdotes.
1 Lactantiua de M. P. c. 28. The former of these reasons is probably taken from Virgil's Shepherd: "IHam ego huic nostne sirailem Meliboce putavi," &c. Lartantius delights in those poetical allusions.
Hla The legions of Galerius exhibit a very melan
retreat. cno]y proof Of tjjeir disposition, by the ravages which they committed in their retreat. They murdered, they ravaged, they plundered, they drove away the flocks and herds of the Italians. They burnt the villages through which they passed, and they endeavoured to destroy the country which it had not been in their power to subdue. During the whole march Maxentius hung on their rear; but he very prudently declined a general engagement with those brave and desperate veterans. His father had undertaken a second journey into Gaul, with the hope of persuading Constantine, who had assembled an army on the frontier, to join the pursuit, and to complete the victory. But the actions of Constantine were guided by reason, and not by resentment. He persisted in the wise resolution of maintaining a balance of power in the divided empire, and he no longer hated Galerius, when that aspiring prince had ceased to be an object of terror.'
d Castra super Tusci si ponere Tybridis undas: (jubeas)
Elevation The mmd of Galerius was the most susceptible of lici- of the sterner passions; but it was not, however, the rank incapable of a sincere and lasting friendship, gustus, Licinius, whose manners as well as character A. D. sor, were not unlike his own, seems to have engaged both his affection and esteem. Their intimacy had commenced in the happier period, perhaps, of their youth and obscurity ; it had been cemented by the freedom and dangers of a military life; they had advanced, almost by equal steps, through the successive honours of the service; and as soon as Galerius was invested with the imperial dignity, he seems to have conceived the design of raising his companion to the same rank with himself. During the short period of his prosperity, he considered the rank of Caesar as unworthy of the age and merit of Licinius, and rather chose to reserve for him the place of Constantius, and the empire of the west. While the emperor was employed in the Italian war, he intrusted his friend with the defence of the Danube; and immediately after his return from that unfortunate expedition, he invested Licinius with the vacant purple of Severus, resigning to his immediate command the proand of vinces of Illyricum/ The news of his promoMa»imin. tion was no sooner carried into the east than Maximin, who governed, or rather oppressed, the countries of Egypt and Syria, betrayed his envy and discontent, disdained the inferior name of Caesar, and, notwithstanding the prayers as well as arguments of Galerius, exacted, almost by violence, the equal title of Augustus.8
« Lactentius de M. P. c. 27. Zosirn. lib. 2. p. M. The latter insinuates, that Constantine, in his interview with Maximian, had promised to declare war against Galerius.
'M. de Tillemont ("Hist- des Emper^urs, torn. 4. part 1. p. 559.) has proved, that Licinius, without passing through the intermediate rank of Caesar, was declared Augustus, the llth of November, A. D. 307. after the return of Galerius from Italy.
f Lactantius de M. P. c. 32. When Galerius declared Licinius Augustus with himself, he tried to satisfy his younger associates by inventing for Constantine and Morimin, (not Waientins, see Baluze, p. 81.) the new title of sons of the Augusti. But when Maximiu acquainted him that he had been saluted Augustus by the army, Galerius was obliged to acknowledge him, as well as Constantine, as equal associates in the imperial dignity. .,,
For the first, and indeed for the last, time the Roman world was administered by six emperors. In the west, Six em- Constantine and Maxentius affected to reverence B t^ie'r fatner Maximian. In the east, Licinius and Maximin honoured with more real consideration their benefactor Galerius. The opposition of interest, and the memory of a recent war, divided the empire into two great hostile powers; but their mutual fears produced an apparent tranquillity, and even a feigned reconciliation, till the death of the elder princes, of Maximian, and more particularly of Galerius, gave a new direction to the views and passions of their surviving associates.
Misfor- When Maximian had reluctantly abdicated the tones of empire, the venal orators of the times applauded Brian. his philosophic moderation. When his ambition excited, or at least encouraged, a civil war, they returned thanks to his generous patriotism, and gently censured that love of ease and retirement which had withdrawn him from the public service.11 But it was impossible that minds like those of Maximian and his son could long possess in harmony an undivided power. Maxentius considered himself as the legal sovereign of Italy, elected by the Roman senate and people; nor would he endure the control of his father, who arrogantly declared, that by his name and abilities the rash youth had been established on the throne. The cause was solemnly pleaded before the praetorian guards; and those troops, who dreaded the severity of the old emperor, espoused the party of Maxentius.' The life and freedom of Maxi* mian were however respected, and he retired from Italy into Illyricum, affecting to lament his past conduct, and secretly contriving new mischiefs. But Galerius, who was well acquainted with his character, soon obliged him to leave his dominions: and the last refuge of the disappointed Maximian was the court of his son-in-law Constantine.k He was received with respect by that artful prince, and with the appearance of filial tenderness by the empress Fausta. That he might remove every suspicion, he resigned the imperial purple a second time,1 professing himself at length convinced of the vanity of greatness and ambition. Had he persevered in this resolution he might have ended his life with less dignity indeed than in his first retirement, yet, however, with comfort and reputation. But the near prospect of a throne brought back to his remembrance the state from whence he was fallen; and he resolved, by a desperate effort, either to reign or to perish. An incursion of the Franks had summoned Constantine, with a part of his army, to the banks of the Rhine; the remainder of the troops were stationed in the southern provinces of Gaul, which lay exposed to the enterprises of the Italian emperor; and a considerable treasure was deposited in the city of Aries. Maximian either craftily invented, or hastily credited, a vain report of the death of Constantine. Without hesitation he ascended the throne, seized the treasure, and scattering it with his accustomed profusion among the soldiers, endeavoured to awake in their minds the memory of his ancient dignity and exploits. Before he could establish his authority, or finish the negotiation which he appears to have entered into with his son Maxentius, the celerity of Constantine defeated all his hopes. On the first news of his perfidy and ingra
11 See Panegyr. Vet. 6. 9. Audi doloris nostri liberam vocem, &c. The whole passage is imagined with artful flattery, and expressed with an easy flow of eloquence.
'Lactantins de M. P. c. 28. Zosim. lib. 2. p. 82. A report was spread, that Maxentius was the son of some obscure Syrian, and had been substituted by the wife of Maximian as her own child. See Aurelius Victor, Anonym. Valesian, and Panegyr. Ver. 9. 3, 4. •• . ••
k Ab urbe pulsum, ab Italia fugatum, ab Illyrico repudiatum, tuis provinciis, tuis copiis, tuo palatio lecepisti. Eumen. in Panegyr. Vet. 7.14.
I Lactantius de M. P. c. 29. Yet after the resignation of the purple, Constantine still continued to Maximian the pomp and honours of the imperial dignity; and, Oh all public occasions, gate the right-hand place to his father-in-law. Panegyr. Vet. 7. 15.