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defence, which in similar circumstances had been practised by Aurelian. The skilful evolutions of Constantine divided and baffled this massy column of cavalry. The troops of Maxentius fled in confusion towards Turin; and as the gates of the city were shut against them, very few escaped the sword of the victorious pursuers. By this important service, Turin deserved to experience the clemency and even favour of the conqueror. He made his entry into the imperial palace of Milan; and almost all the cities in Italy, between the Alps and the Po, not only acknowledged the power, but embraced with zeal the party, of Constantine.k
Kege and From Milan to Rome, the ^Emilian and Flabattle of miniaii highways offered an easy march of about four hundred miles; but though Constantine was impatient to encounter the tyrant, he prudently directed his operations against another army of Italians, who, by their strength and position, might either oppose his progress, or, in case of a misfortune, might intercept his retreat. Ruricius Pompeianus, a general distinguished by his valour and ability, had under his command the city of Verona, and all the troops that were stationed in the province of Venetia. As soon as he was informed that Constantine was advancing towards him, he detached a large body of cavalry, which was defeated in an engagement near Brescia, and pursued by the Gallic legions as far as the gates of Verona. The necessity, the importance, and the difficulties, of the siege of Verona, immediately presented themselves to the sagacious mind of Constantine.1 The city was accessible only by a narrow peninsula towards the west, as the other three sides were surrounded by the Adige, a rapid river, which covered
k Zosimus as well as Eusebiushasten from the passage of the Alps to the decisive action near Rome. We must apply to the two panegyrics for the intermediate actions of Constantine.
1 The Marquis Maffei has examined the siege and battle of Verona, with that degree of attention and accuracy which was due to a memorable action that happened in his native country. The fortifications of that city, constructed byGallienus, were less extensive than the modern walls, and the amphitheatre was not included within their circumference. See Verona Illustrata, part 1. p. 14t.150.
the province of Venetia, from whence the besieged derived an inexhaustible supply of men and provisions. It was not without great difficulty, and after several fruitless attempts, that Constantine found means to pass the river at some distance above the city, and in a place where the torrent was less violent. He then encompassed Verona with strong lines, pushed his attacks with prudent vigour, and repelled a desperate sally of Pompeianus. That intrepid general, when he had used every means of defence that the strength of the place or that of the garrison could afford, secretly escaped from Verona, anxious not for his own but for the public safety. With indefatigable diligence he soon collected an army sufficient either to meet Constantine in the field, or to attack him if he obstinately remained within his lines. The emperor, attentive to the motions, and informed of the approach, of so formidable an enemy, left a part of his legions to continue the operations of the siege, whilst, at the head of those troops on whose valour and fidelity he more particularly depended, he advanced in person to engage the general of Maxentius. The army of Gaul was drawn up in two lines, according to the usual practice of war; but their experienced leader perceiving that the numbers of the Italians far exceeded his own, suddenly changed his disposition, and reducing the second, extended the front of his first line to a just proportion with that of the enemy. Such evolutions, which only veteran troops can execute without confusion in a moment of danger, commonly proves decisive: but as this engagement began towards the close of the day, and was contested with great obstinacy during the whole night, there was less room for the conduct of the generals than for the courage of the soldiers. The return of light displayed the victory of Constantine, and a field of carnage covered with many thousands of the vanquished Italians. Their general, Pompeianus, was found among the slain: Verona immediately surrendered at discretion, and the gar
risen was made prisoners of war.'" When the officers of the victorious army congratulated their master on this important success, they ventured to add some respectful complaints, of such a nature, however, as the most jealous monarchs will listen to without displeasure. They represented to Constantine, that, not contented with performing all the duties of a commander, he had exposed his own person with an excess of valour which almost degenerated into rashness: and they conjured him for the future to pay more regard to the preservation of a life, in which the safety of Rome and of the empire was involved."
indolence While Constantine signalized his conduct and of Mmtm valour in the field, the sovereign of Italy appeared entius. insensible of the calamities and dangers of a civil war which raged in the heart of his dominions. Pleasure was still the only business of Maxentius. Concealing, or at least attempting to conceal, from the public knowledge the misfortunes of his arms," he indulged himself in a vain confidence, which deferred the remedies of the approaching evil, without deferring the evil itself.p The rapid progress of Constantineq was scarcely sufficient to awaken him from this fatal security: he flattered himself that his well-known liberality, and the majesty of the Roman name, which had already delivered him from two invasions, would dissipate with the same facility the rebellious army of Gaul. The officers of experience and ability, who had served under the banners of Maximian, were at length compelled to inform his effeminate son of the imminent danger to which he was reduced; and with a freedom that at once surprised and convinced him, to urge the necessity of preventing his ruin, by a vigorous exertion of his remaining power. The resources of Maxentius, both of men and money, were still considerable. The praetorian guards felt how strongly their own interest and safety were connected with his cause; and a third army was soon collected, more numerous than those which had been lost in the battles of Turin and Verona. It was far from the intention of the emperor to lead his troops in person. A stranger to the exercises of war, he trembled at the apprehension of so dangerous a contest; and as fear is commonly superstitious, he listened with melancholy attention to the rumours of omens and presages which seemed to menace his life and empire. Shame at length supplied the place of courage, and forced him to take the field. He was unable to sustain the contempt of the Roman people. The circus resounded with their indignant clamours, and they tumultuously besieged the gates of the palace, reproaching the pusillanimity of their indolent sovereign, and celebrating the heroic spirit of Constantine/ Before Maxentius left Rome, he consulted the Sibylline books. The guardians of these ancient oracles were as well versed in the arts of this world, as they were ignorant of the secrets of fate; and they returned him a .very prudent answer, which might adapt itself to the event, and secure their reputation whatever should be the chance of arms.'
TM They wanted chains for so great a multitude of captives; and the whole council was at a loss; but the sagacious conqueror imagined the happy expedient of converting into fetters the swords of the vanquished. Panegyr. Vet. 9. 11. • Panegyr. Vet. 9,10.
'Literas calamitatum suarum indices supprimebat. Panegyr. Vet. 9. 15.
P Remedia malorum potius quam mala differebat, is the fine censure which Tacitus passes on the supine indolence of Vitellius.
i The marquis Maffei has made it extremely probable that Constantine was Mill at Verona, the 1st of September, A. D. 312, and that the memorable era of the minetiojis was dated from his conquest of the Cisalpine Gaul.
• Victory The celerity of Constantine's march has been compared to the rapid conquest of Italy by the first of the Caesars; nor is the flattering pat. rallel repugnant to the truth of history, since 28th Oct. no more than fifty-eight days elapsed between the surrender of Verona and the final decision of the war. Constantine had always apprehended that the tyrant would consult the dictates of fear, and perhaps of prudence; and that, instead of risking his last hopes in a general engagement, he would shut himself up within the walls of Rome. His ample magazine secured him against the danger of famine; and, as the situation of Constantine admitted not of delay, he might have been reduced to the sad necessity of destroying with fire and sword the imperial city, the noblest reward of his victory, and the deliverance of which had been the motive, or rather indeed the pretence, of the civil war.' It was with equal surprise and pleasure, that, on his arrival at a place called Saxa Rubra, about nine miles from Rome," he discovered the army of Maxentius prepared to give him battle." Their long front filled a very spacious plain, and their deep array reached to the banks of the Tyber, which covered their rear, and forbade their retreat. We are informed, and we may believe, that Constantine disposed his troops with consummate skill, and that he chose for himself the post of honour and danger. Distinguished by the splendour of his arms, he charged in person the cavalry of his rival; and his irresistible attack determined the fortune of the day. The cavalry of Maxentius was principally composed either of unwieldy cuirassiers, or of light Moors and Numidians. They yielded to the vigour of the Gallic horse, which possessed more activity than the one, more firmness than the other. The defeat of the two wings left the infantry without any protection on its flanks, and the undisciplined Italians fled without reluctance from the standard of a tyrant whom they had always hated, and whom they no longer feared. The praetorians, conscious that their offences were beyond the
'See Panegyr. Vet. 11. 16. Lactantius de M. P. c. 44.
* IHii die hostem Romanoiulh esse peritururn. The vanquished prince became of course the enemy of Rome.
'See Panegyr. Vet. 9. 16. 10. 27. The former of these orators magnifies the hoards of com which Maxentius had collected from Africa and the islands. And yet, if ih<-r.virt any truth in the scarcity mentioned by Eusebius (in Vit. Constantin. lib. 1. c. :)(-;.>) the imperial granaries must have been open only to the soldiers.
• IVIaxentius . .. tandem urbe in Sma Rubra, millia feme novem aegerrime progresses. Aurelius Victor. See Cellarius Geograph. Antiq. tom. 1. p. 463. Saxa Rubra was in the neighbourhood of the Cremera, a trifling rivulet, illustrated by the valour and glorious death of the three hundred Fabii.
x The post which Maxentius had taken, with the Tyber in his rear, is very clearly described by the two Panegyrists, 9. 16. 10. 28.