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“1355.1 THE sronr or snvauus. 55
V. A.D. 355. §1. AFTER. these unhappy circumstances, accompanied as they were with equal calamities in the provinces, a whirlwind of new misfortunes arose which seemed likely to destroy the whole state at once, if Fortune, which regulates the events of human life, had not terminated a state of affairs which all regarded with great apprehension, by bringing the dangers to a speedy issue.
2. From the long neglect with which these provinces had been treated, the Gauls, having no assistance on which to rely, had borne cruel massacres, with plunder and conflagration, from barbarians who raged throughout their land with impunity. Silvanus, the commander of the infantry, being a man well suited to correct these evils,
" went thither at the command of the emperor, Arbetio at the same time urging with all his power that this task should be undertaken without delay, with the object of imposing the dangerous burden of this duty on his absent rival, whom he was vexed to see still in prosperity. .
3. There was a certain man named Dynamius, the superintendent of the emperor’s beasts of burden, who had begged of Silvanus recommendatory letters to his friends as of one who was admitted to his most intimate friendship. H'aving obtained this favour, as Silvanus, having no suspicion of any evil intention, had with great simplicity granted what he was asked, Dynamius kept the letters, in order at a future time to plan something to his injury.
4. Therefore, when the aforesaid commander had gone to the Gauls in the service of the republic, and while he was engaged in repelling the barbarians, who already began to distrust their own power, and to be filled with alarm, Dynamius, being restless, like a man of cunning and practised deceitfulness, devised a wicked plot; and in this it is said he had for his accomplices Lampadius, the prefect of the Praetorian guard, Eusebius, who had been the superintendent of the emperor’s privy purse, and was known by the nickname of Mattyoeopa,‘ and
1 From mirror to cut, and para'6a any delicate food: meant as equivalent to our cheeseparer, or skinflint.
Edesius, formerly keeper of the records, whom this prefect had contrived to have elected consul, as being his dearest friend. He then with a sponge effaced the contents of the letters, leaving nothing but the address, and inserted a text materially differing from the original writing, as if Silvanus had asked, by indirect hints, and entreated his friends who were within the palace and those who had no otiice (among whom was Albinus of Etruria, and many others), to aid him in projects of loftier ambition, as one who would soon attain the imperial throne. This bundle of letters he thus made up, inventing at his leisure, in order with them to endanger the life of this innocent man. .
5. Dynamius was appointed to investigate these charges on behalf of the emperor ; and while he was artfully weaving these and similar plans, he contrived to enter alone into the imperial chamber, choosing his opportunity, and hoping to entangle firmly in his meshes the most vigilant guardian of the emperor’s safety. And being full of wicked cunning, after he had read the forged packet of letters in the council chamber, the tribunes were ordered to be committed to custody, and also several private individuals were commanded to be arrested and brought up from the provinces, whose names were mentioned in those letters.
6. But presently Malarichus, the commander of the Gentiles, being struck with the iniquity of the business, and taking his colleagues to his counsel, spoke out loudly that men devoted to the preservation of the emperor ought not to be circumvented by factions and treachery. He accordingly demanded that he himself. his nearest relations being left as hostages, and Mallobaudes, the tribune of the heavy-armed soldiers, giving bail that he would return, might be commissioned to go with speed to bring back Silvanus, who he was certain had never entertained the idea of any such attempt as these bitter plotters had imputed to him. Or, as an alternative, he entreated that he might become security for Mallobaudes, and that their oflicers might be permitted to go and do what he had proposed to take upon himself.
7. For he aflirmcd that he 'knew beyond all question that, if any stranger were sent, Silvanus, who was inclined to be somewhat apprehensive of danger, even when no
mass“ THE sroar or SILVANUS. 57
circumstances were really calculated to alarm him, would very likely throw matters into confusion.
8. But, although the advice which he gave was useful and necessary, he spoke as to the winds, to no purpose. For by the counsels of Arbetio, Apodemius, who was a persevering and bitter enemy to all good men, was sent with letters to summon Silvanus to the presence. When he had arrived in Gaul, taking no heed of the commission with which he was charged, and caring but little for anything that might happen, he remained inactive, without either seeing Silvanus, or delivering the letters which commanded him to appear at court. And having taken the receiver of the province into his counsels, he began with arrogance and malevolence to harass the clients and servants of the master of the horse, as if that oflicer had been already condemned and was on the point of being executed.
9. In the mean time, while the arrival of Silvanus was looked for, and while Apodemius was throwing everything, though quiet before, into commotion, Dynamius, that he might by still more convincing proofs establish belief in his wicked plots, had sent other forged letters (agreeing with the previous ones which he had brought under the emperor’s notice by the agency of the prefect) to the tribune of the factory at Cremona: these were written in the names of Silvanus and Malan'chus, in which the tribune, as one privy to their secrets, was warned to lose no time in having everything in readiness. '
10. But when this tribune had read the whole of the letters, he was for some time in doubt and perplexity as to what they could mean (for he did not recollect that those persons whose letters he had thus received had ever spoken with him upon private transactions of any kind); and accordingly he sent the letters themselves, by the courier who had brought them, to Malerichus, sending a soldier also with him ; and entreated Malarichus to explain in intelligible language what he wanted, and not to use such obscure terms. For he declared that he, being but a plain and somewhat rude man, had not in the least understood “'hti' was intimated so obscurely.
11. Malarichus the moment he received the letters, being already in sorrow and anxiety, and alarmed for his own
fate and that of his countryman Silvanus, called around him the Franks, of whom at that time there was a great multitude in the’ palace, and in resolute language laid open and proved the falsehood of the machinations by which their lives were threatened, and was loud in his complaints.
12. When these things became known to the emperor, he appointed the members of his secret council and the chief oflicers of his army to make further investigation of the matter. And when the judges appeared to make light of it, Florentius the son of Nigridianus, who at that time filled the post of master of the offices,‘ having examined the writings carefully, and detecting beneath them some vestiges of the tops of the former words which had been effaced, perceived, as was indeed the case, that by interpolations of the original letter, matters very different from any of which Silvanus was author had been written over them, according to the fancy of the contriver of this forgery.
13. On this the cloud of treachery was dispersed, and the emperor, informed of the truth by a faithful report, recalled the powers granted to the prefect, and ordered him to be submitted to an examination. Nevertheless he was acquitted through the active combination of many of his friends; while Eusebius, the former treasurer of the emperor’s secret purse, being put to the torture, confessed that these things had been done with his privity.
14. ZEdesius, afi‘irming with obstinate denial that he had never known anything which had been done in the matter, escaped, being adjudged innocent. And thus the transaction was brought to an end, and all those who had
fbeen accused in the original information were acquitted; ,and Dynamius, as a man of exceeding accomplishments and prudence, was appointed to govern Etruria with the rank of corrector.
15. While these affairs were proceeding, Silvanus was living at Agrippina," and having learnt by continual m. 255.] SILVANUS A'ssUMrs THE IMPERIAL DIGNITY. 59
1 This was a very important post ; it seems to have united the functions of a modern chamberlain, chancellor, and secretary of state. The master presented citizens to the emperor, received foreign ambassadors, recommended men for civil employments, decided civil actions of
several kinds, and supen'ntended many of the affairs of the post. ’ Cologne.
information sent to him by his friends what Apodemius was doing with the hope of effecting his ruin; and knowing also how impressible the mind of the feeble emperor was ; began to fear lest in his absence, and without being convicted of any crime, he might still be treated as a criminal. And so, being placed in a situation of the greatest difficulty, he began to think of trusting himself to the good faith of the barbarians.
16. But being dissuaded from this by Laniogaisus, at that time a tribune, whom we have already spoken of as the only person who was present with Constans when he was dying, himself serving at that time as a volunteer; and being assured by Laniogaisus that the Franks, of whom he himself was a countryman, would put him to death, or else betray him for a bribe, he saw no safety anywhere in the present emergency, and so was driven to extreme counsels. And by degrees, having secretly conferred with the chiefs of the principal legions, and having excited them by the magnitude of promised rewards, he tore for use on this occasion the purple silk from the insignia of the dragons ‘ and standards, and so assumed the title of emperor.
17. And while these events are passing in Gaul, one day, a little before sunset, an unexpected messenger arrived at Milan, relating fully that Silvanus, being ambitious to rise above his place as commander of the infantry, had tampered with the army, and assumed the imperial dignity.
18. Constantius, at this amazing and unexpected event, seemed as if struck by a thunderbolt of fate, and having at once summoned a council to meet at the second watch, all the nobles hastened to the palace. No one had either mind to conceive or tongue to recommend what was best to be done; but in suppressed tones they mentioned the name of Ursicinus as a man eminent for skill in affairs of war, and one who had been undeservedly exposed to most injurious treatment. He was immediately sent for by the principal chamberlain, which is the most honourable kind of summons, and as soon as he entered the council-chamber he was offered the purple to salute much more graciously than at any former time. Diocletian was the first who introduced the custom of offering reverence to the emperor
.3 The dragons were the etfigies on some of the standards.