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memorable example of a noble matron, who preserved her chastity by a voluntary death. The soldiers were the only order of men whom he appeared to respect, or studied to please. He filled Rome and Italy with armed troops, connived at their tumults, suffered them with impunity to plunder, and even to massacre, the defenceless people ;z and, indulging them in the same licentiousness which their emperor enjoyed, Maxentius often bestowed on his military favourites the splendid villa, or the beautiful wife, of a senator. A prince of such a character, alike incapable of governing either in peace or in war, might purchase the support, but he could never obtain the esteem, of the army. Yet his pride was equal to his other vices. Whilst he passed his indolent life, either within the walls of his palace, or in the neighbouring gardens of Sallust, he was repeatedly heard to declare, that he alone was emperor, and that the other princes were no more than his lieutenants, on whom he had devolved the defence of the frontier provinces, that he might enjoy without interruption the elegant luxury of the capital. Rome, which had so long regretted the absence, lamented, during the six years of his reign, the presence, of her sovereign."
Civil war Though Constantine might view the conduct between of Maxentius with abhorrence, and the situation of the Romans with compassion, we have no 'reasonto presume that he would have taken up arms to punish the one, or to relieve the other. But the tyrant of Italy rashly ventured to provoke a formidable enemy, whose ambition had been hitherto restrained by considerations of prudence, rather than by principles of justice.6 After the.death of Maximian, his titles, according to the established custom, had been erased, and his statues thrown down, with ignominy. His son, who had persecuted and deserted him when alive, affected to display the most pious regard to his memory, and gave orders that a similar treatment should be immediately inflicted on all the statues that had been erected in Italy and Africa to the honour of Constantine. That wise prince, who sincerely wished to decline a war, with the difficulty and importance of which he was sufficiently acquainted, at first dissembled the insult, and sought for redress by the milder expedients of negotiation, till he was convinced, that the hostile and ambitious designs of the Italian emperor made it necessary for him to arm in his own defence. Maxentius, who openly avowed his pretensions to the whole monarchy of the west, had already prepared a very considerable force to invade the Gallic provinces on the side of Rhaetia; and, though he could not expect any assistance from Licinius, he was flattered with the hope that the legions of Illyrieum, allured by his presents and promises, would desert the standard of that prince, and unanimously declare themselves his soldiers and subjects.0 Constantine no longer hesitated. He had deliberated with caution; he acted with vigour. He gave a private audience to the ambassadors, who, in the name of the senate and people, eonjured him to deliver Rome from a detested -tyrant; and, without regarding the timid remonstrances of his council, he resolved to prevent the enemy, and to carry the war into the heart of Italyid
* Pratorianis caedem vulgi quondam annueret, is the vague expression of Aurelius Victor. See more particular, though somewhat different, accounts of a tumult and ma-t..ii r.' which happened at Rome, in Eusebins (lib. 8. c. 14.) and in Zosimus, lib. 2. p. M.
• a See in the Panegyrics (9. 14.) a lively description of the indolence and vain pride of Maxentius. In another place the orator observes, that the riches which Rome had accumulated in a period of one thousand and sixty years were lavished by the tyrant on his mercenary bands; redemptis ad civile latrocinium manibus ingesserat.
b After the victory of Constantine, it was universally allowed, that the motive of delivering the republic from a detested tyrant would, at any time, have justified his expedition in to Italy. Euseb.in Vit. Constantin. lib. 1. c. M. Panegyr. Vet, 9. 2.
c Zosinms, lib. 2. p. 84, 85. Nazarius in Panegyr. 10. 7—13. • * See Panegyr. Vet. 9. 2. Omnibus fere tuis comitibus et ducibus non solum tarite xnnssantibas, sed etiam aperte timentibus; contra consilia homimim, contra Hamspicnm monita, ipse per temet liberamhc urbis tempos venisse sentires. The embassy of the Romans is mentioned only by Zonaras (lib. 13.) and by Cedrenus; (in Compend. Hist. p. 270.) but those modem Greeks had the opportunity of consulting many writers which have since been lost, among which we may reckon the Life of Constantine by Praxagoras. Photius (p. 63.) has made a short extract from that historical work.
Prepare- The enterprise was as full of danger as of tions. glory; and the unsuccessful event of two former invasions was sufficient to inspire the most serious apprehensions. The veteran troops, who revered the name of Maximian, had embraced in both those wars the party of his son, and were now restrained by a sense of honour, as well as of interest, from entertaining an idea of a second desertion. Maxentius, who considered the praetorian guards as the firmest defence of his throne, had increased them to their ancient establishment; and they composed, including the rest" of the Italians who were enlisted into his service, a formidable body of fourscore thousand men. Forty thousand Moors and Carthaginians had been raised since the reduction of Africa. Even Sicily furnished its proportion of troops; and the armies of Maxentius amounted to one hundred and seventy. thousand foot, and eighteen thousand horse. The wealth of Italy supplied the expenses of the war; and the adjacent provinces were exhausted, to form immense magazines of corn and every other kind of provisions. The whole force of Constantine consisted of ninety thousand foot and eight thousand horse ;* and as the defence of the Rhine required an extraordinary attention during the absence of the emperor, it was not in his power to employ above half his troops in the Italian expedition, unless he sacrificed the public safety to his private quarrel/ At the head of about forty thousand soldiers, he marched to encounter an enemy whose numbers were at least four times superior to his own. But the armies of Rome, placed at a secure distance from danger, were enervated by indulgence and luxury. Habituated to the
'Zosimus (lib. 8. p. 86.) has given us this curious account of the forces on both sides. He makes no mention of any naval armaments, though we are assured (Panegyr. Vet. 9.25.) that the war was carried on by sea as well as by land: and that the fleet of Constantine took possession of Sardinia, Corsica, and the ports of Italy.
'Panegyr. Vet. 9. 3. It is not surprising that the orator should diminish the numbers with which his sovereign achieved the conquest of Italy; but it appears somewhat singular that he should esteem the tyrant's army at no more than one hundred thousand men.
baths and theatres of Rome, they took the field with re luctance, and were chiefly composed of veterans who had almost forgotten, or of new levies who had never acquired, the use of arms and the practice of war. The hardy legions of Gaul had long defended the frontiers of the empire against the barbarians of the north; and in the performance of that laborious service, their value was exercised, and their discipline confirmed. There appeared the same difference between the leaders as between the armies. Caprice or flattery had tempted Maxentius with the hopes of conquest; but these aspiring hopes soon gave way to the habits of pleasure and the consciousness of his inexperience. The intrepid mind of Constantine had been trained from his earliest youth to war, to action, and to military command. Cautm- When Hannibal marched from Gaul into tjnepasses Italy, he was obliged, first to discover, and then to open, a way over mountains, and through savage nations, that had never yielded a passage to a regular army.8 The Alps were then guarded by nature; they are now fortified by art. Citadels, constructed with no less skill than labour and expense, command every avenue into the plain, and on that side render Italy almost inaccessible to the enemies of the king of Sardinia.11 But in the course of the intermediate period, the generals who have attempted the passage have seldom experienced any difficulty or resistance. In the age of Constantine, the peasants of the mountains were civilized and obedient subjects; the country was plentifully stocked with provisions; and the stupendous highways, which the Romans had carried over the Alps,
( The three principal passages of the Alps between Gaul and Italy are those of mount St. Bernard, mount Cenis, and mount Genevre. Tradition, and a resemblance of names (Alpei Pennine), had assigned the first of these for the march of II mini bat. (SeeSimlerdeAlpibus.) The chevalier de Folard, (Polyb. torn. 4.) and M. d'AnvUle, have led him over mount Genevre. But notwithstanding the authority of an experienced officer and a learned geographer, the pretensions of mount Cenis are supported in a specious, not to say a convincing, manner by M. Greeley. Ob servations sur 1'Italie, torn. 1. p. 40, etc.
"La Brunette near Suse, Demont, Exiles, Fenestrelles, Con], &c.
VOL. II. G
opened several communications between Gaul and Italy.1 Constantine preferred the road of the Cottian Alps, or, as it is now called, of mount Cenis, and led his troops with such active diligence, that he descended into the plain of Piedmont before the court of Maxentius had received any certain intelligence of his departure from the banks of the Rhine. The city of Susa, however, which is situated at the foot of mount Genis, was surrounded with walls, and provided with a garrison sufficiently numerous to check the progress of an invader; but the impatience of Constantine's troops disdained the tedious forms of a siege. The same day that they appeared before Susa, they applied fire to the gates, and ladders to the walls ; and, mounting to the assault amidst a shower of stones and arrows, they entered the place sword in hand, and cut in pieces the greatest part of the garrison. The flames were extinguished by the care of Constantine, and the remains of Susa preserved from total destruction. About forty miles from thence, a Battle of more severe contest awaited him. A numerous Turin. army of Italians was assembled under the lieutenants of Maxentius in the plains of Turin. Its principal strength consisted in a species of heavy cavalry, which the Romans since the decline of their discipline, had borrowed from the nations of the east. The horses, as well as the men, were clothed in complete armour, the joints of which were artfully adapted to the motions of their bodies. The aspect of this cavalry was formidable, their weight almost irresistible; and as, on this occasion, their generals had drawn them up in a compact column, Op wedge, with a sharp point, and with spreading flanks, they flattered themselves that they should easily break and trample down the army of Constantine. They might perhaps, have succeeded in their design, had not their experienced adversary embraced the same method of
'See Ammian. Marcellin. 15. 10. His description of the roads over the Alps is clear, lively, and accurate.