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pared 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 IIlyricum, allured by his presents and promises, would desert the standard of that prince, and unanimously declare themselves his soldiers and subjects (49). 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, conjured 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 Italy (50).
preparations. The enterprise was as full of danger as of 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 (51); and as the defence of the Rhine required an extraurdinary 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 (52). At the head of about forty thousand soldiers,
(49) Zosiimis, 1. ii. p. 84, 85. Nazarius in Panegyr. x. 7—13.
(50) . See Panegyr. Vet. ix. 2. Omnibus fere tuis Comitibus et Ducibus non solum tacite mussantibus, sed ctiam apertc limeatibus; contra consilia hominum, contra Haruspicum monita, ipse per temet liberamto urbis tenipns venisse sentires, The embassy of the Romans is mentioned only by Zonaras (1. xiii.), and by Cedrenus (in Compeni1. Hist. p. 270.) : but those modern 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.
(51) Zosimus (1. ii. p. 86.) has given us this curious account of the forceson both sides. He makes no mention of any naval armaments, though we are assured (Panegyr. Vet. ix. 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.
(52) Panegyr. Vet. ix. 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 100,000 men.
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 baths and theatres of Rome, they took the field with reluctance, 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 valour 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.
When Hannibal marched from Gaul into Italy, he was obliged, consiantino first, to discover, and then to open, a way over mountains, and paAips.e through savage nations, that had never yielded a passage to a regular army (53). 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 (54). 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, opened several communications between Gaul and Italy (55). 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 si
(53) . The three principal passages of the Alps between Gaul and Italy, arc those of Mount St. Bernard, Mount Cenis, aud Mount Genevre. Tradition, and a resemblance of names [Alpes Pennine), had assigned the lirst of these for the march of Hannibal (see Simler de Alpibus). The Chevalier de Folard (Polyb. tom, iv ) and M. d'Anville have led him over Mount Genevrc. 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. Grosley. Observations sur l'ltalie, tom. i. p. 40, &c. *
(54) La Brunette near Suse, Demont, Exiles, Fenestrelles, Coni, &c.
(55) See Ammian. Marccllin. xv. 10. His description of the roads over the Alps is clear, lively, and accurate.
* The dissertation of Messrs. Cramer and sage. A tract by Mr. Long (London, 1831) has WickhainhasclearlyshowuthattheLittleSt.Ber- added some sensible corrections of Hannibal's nard must claim the honour of Haunibal's pas- march to tho Alps.— M.
tuated at the foot of Mount Cenis, 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 thense, a more severe contest awaited him. Battle of A numerous 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 (his occasion, their generals had drawn them up in a compact column or 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 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 of Italy between the Alps and the Po not only acknowledged the power, but embraced with zeal the party, of Constantine (56). siege and From Milan to Rome, the iEmilian and Flaminian highways ofveronaf fered 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 ahility, 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
(56) Zusimns as well as Eusehius hasten from the passage of the Alps to the decisive action near Rome. We must apply to the two Panegyries, for the intermediate actions of Constantine.
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 (57). 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 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 Constantino 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 Constantino 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 prove 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 vancniished Italians. Their general, Pompeianus, was found among the slain; Verona immediately surrendered at discretion, and the garrison was made prisoners of war (58). When the officers of the victorious army
(57) The Marquis MalTei 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 by Gallienus, were less extensive than the modern walls, and the amphitheatre was not included within their circumference. See Verona Illustrata,' part i. p. 142. 150.
(58) 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.ix.it.
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 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 (59).
Indolence While Constantine signalized his conduct and valour in the field, MaxCTuiu? the sovereign of Italy appeared insensible of the calamities and danger x>f 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 (60), he indulged himself in a vain confidence, which deferred the remedies of the approaching evil, without deferring the evil itself (61). The rapid progress of Constantine (62) 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 Gau1. 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 Praitorian 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, tie 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,
(59) Panegyr. Vet. ix. 10.
(60) Literas calamitatum suarum indices supprimebat. Panegyr. Vet. ix. 15.
(61) Remedia malorum polins quam mala differebat, is the fine censure which Tacitus passes on the supine indolence of Vitellius.
(62) The Marquis Maffei has made it extremely probable that Constantine was still at Verona, the 1st oi September, A. D. 311, and that the memorable aera of the indictions was dated from his conquest of the Cisalpine Gau1.