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The balance of power established by Diocletian subsisted no Period ofcivii
As soon as Diocletian and Maximian had resigned the purple, Character
The stern temper »f Galerius was cast in a very different mould; and while he commanded the esteem of his subjects, he seldom condescended to solicit their affections. His fame in arms, and above all, the success of the Persian war, had elated his haughty mind, which was naturally impatient of a superior, or even of an equa1. If it were possible to rely on the partial testimony of an injudicious writer, We might ascribe the abdication of Diocletian to the menaces of Galerius, and relate.the particulars of a private conversation between the two princei, in which the former discovered as much pusillanimity as the latter displayed ingratitude and arrogance (4).
(1) M. deKontesquieu (Considerations sur la Grandeur etla Decadence des Romains, c. 17.) supposes, on the authority of Oroshs and EuseDius, that, on this occasion, the empire, for the first time, was really divided into too parts. It is difficult, however, to discover in what respect the plan of Galerius differed from l|at of Diocletian.
(2) Hie non modo amabilis, ski etiam venerabilis Gallis fuit; precipue quod Diocletiani suspectam prudentiam, et Matimiani sangtinariaiu violeirtiam imperio ejus evaserant. Eutrop. Breviar. x. i.
(3) Divitiis Provincialium (mi1. protinciarum) ac privatorum studens, fisci commoda non admodum affectans; ducensque meliis publicas opes a privatis haberi, quam intra unum claustrum redervari. Id. ibid. He carried this maxim so far, that whenever he gave an entertainment, he was obliged to borrow a seiyicl of plate.
(4) Lactantius de Wort. Peneentor. c. 18. 'Were the particulars of this conference more consistent with truth and decency, we might still ask, how they came to the knowledge of an obscure rhetorician? * But there are mjny historians who put us in mind of the admirable saying of the great Conde to Cardinal do iljtz: " Ces coquins nous font parler et agir, comme ils auroient fait "eux-memes a none plaoa." I
* This attack upon Lactantus is unrounded, who invited him to his court, and entrusted to
Lactantius was so far from haVing been an ob- him the education of his son Crispus. The facts
scure rhetorician, that he ha4 taught rhetoric which he relates took place during his own time;
publicly, and with the greatest success, first in he cannot be accused of dishonesty or impos
Africa, and afterwards in Nicojnedia. His repu- ture. Satis me vixisse arbitrabor et oflicium
tation obtained him the esteen of Constantine, hominis implesse si labor meus aliquos homines, But these obscure anecdotes are sufficiently refuted by an impartial view of the character and conduct of Diocletian. Whatever might otherwise have been his intentions, if he had apprehended any danger from the violence of Galerius, his good sense would have instructed him to prevent the ignominious contest; and as he had held the sceptre with glory, he would have resigned it without disgrace.
After the elevation of Constantius and Galerius to the rank of Au- w>« two gusti, two new Caesars were required to supply their place, and to Severus and complete the system of the Imperial government. Diocletian was sin- Maximmcerely desirous of withdrawing himself from the world; he considered Galerius, who had married his daughter, as the firmest support of his family and of the empire; .and he consented, without reluctance, that his successor should assume the merit as well as the envy of the important nomination. It was fixed without consulting the interest or inclination of the princes of the West. Each of them had a son who was arrived at the age of manhood, and who might have been deemed the most natural candidates for the vacant honour. But the impotent resentment of Maximian was no longer to be dreaded; and the moderate Constantius, though he might despise the dangers, was humanely apprehensive of the calamities of civil war. The two persons whom Galerius promoted to the rank of Caesar, were much better suited to serve the views of his ambition; and their principal recommendation seems to have consisted in the want of merit or personal consequence. The first of these was Daza, or, as he was afterwards called, Maximin, whose mother was the sister of Galerius. The unexperienced youth still betrayed by his manners and language his rustic education, when, to his own astonishment, as well as that of the world, he was invested by Diocletian with the purple, exalted to the digiity of Caesar, and entrusted with the sovereign command of Egypt and Syria (5). At the same time, Severus, a faithful servant, addicted to pleasure, but not incapable of business, was sent to Milan, to receive, from the reluctant hands of Maximian, the Caesarian ornaments, and the possession of Italy and Africa (6). According to the forns of the constitution, Severus acknowledged the supremacy of the western emperor; but
(5) Sublatos nuper a pecoribus et silvis (sa^-s Lactanthis deM.P. c. 19.) statim Scutarius, continno Protector, mox Tribunus, postridie Caesar, accepit Orienten. AnreUus Victor is too liberal in giving bim the whole portion of Diocletian.
(6) His diligence and fidelity are acknowledged even by Lactantas, de M. P. c. 18.
ab erroribus liberatos, ad iter cceleste direxerit. of Gibbon's sevce sentence. But the authorship
De Opif. Dei, cap. 20. The eloquence of Lac- of the treatise ii by no means certain. Ihefame
tantius has caused bim to be called the Chris- of Lactantius fo' eloquence as well as for truth,
tian Cicero. Anon. Gent.— G. would suffer nc loss if it should be adjudged to
Yet 'no unprejudiced person can read this some more " obaeure rhetorician." Manso, in his
coarse and particular private conversation of the Leben Constanins des grossen, concurs on this
two emperors, without assenting to tho justice point with Gibkm. Jleyiage, iv.— M.
he was absolutely devoted to the commands of his benefactor Galerius, who, reserving to himself the intermediate countries from the confines of Italy to those of Syria, firmly established his power over three-fourths of the monarchy. In the full confidence, that the approaching death of Constantius would leave him sole master of the Roman world, we are assured that he had arranged in his mind a long succession of future princes, and that he meditated his own retreat from public life, after he should have accomplished a glorious reign of about twenty years (7). Amhition of But within less than eighteen months, two unexpected revoludirapSted ^ons overturned the amhitious schemes of Galerius. The hopes of revolutions un't'n8 'ne western provinces to his empire were disappointed by revo u ion». ^ elevation of Constantine, whilst Italy and Africa were lost by V the successful revolt of Maxentius.
Binh, l. The fame of Constantine has rendered posterity attentive to and'Sap" oftne mos* minute circumstances of his life and actions. The place cTM^taniine. of his hirth, as well as the condition of his mother Helena, have been the subject not only of literary but of national disputes. Notwithstanding the recent tradition, which assigns for her father a British king (8), we are obliged to confess, that Helena was the daughter of an innkeeper; but at the same time, we may defend the legality of her marriage, against those who have represented her as the concuhine of Constantius (9). The great Constantine was most probably born at Naisius, in Dacia (10); and it is not surprising that in a family and province distinguished only by the profession of arms, the youth should discover very little inclination to improve
(7) These schemes, however, rat only on the very doubtful authority of Lactantius, de M. P. c. 20.
(8) This tradition, unknown to the contemporaries of Constantine, was invented in the darkness of monasteries, was cmhcllishedby Jeffrey of Monmouth, and the writers of the xiith century, has been defended by our antiquariais of the last age, and is seriously related in the ponderous History of England, compiled by Mr. Carte (vol. l. p. 147.). He transports, however, the kingdom of Coil, the imaginary father of Helena, rom Essex to the wall of Antoninus.
(9) Eutropius (x. 2.) expresses) in a few words, the real truth, and the occasion of the error, ** ex obseuriori matrimonio ejuslilius." Zosimus (I. ii. p. 78.) eagerly seized the most unfavourable report, and is followed by Irosius (vii. 25.), whose authority is oddly enough overlooked by the indefatigable but partial Tillcnont. By insisting on the divorce of Helena, Diocletian acknowledged her marriage.
(10) There are three opinions with regard to the place of Constantino's hirth. t. Our English antiquarians were used to dwell with rapture on the -words of his panegyrist; " Britaunias illic "oriendo nohiles fecisti." But bis celebrated passage may be referred with as much propriety to the accession as to the nativity if Coostantine. 2. Some of the modern Greeks have ascribed the honour of his hirth to Drepanua, a town on the gulf of Nicomedia (Cellarius, tom. ii. p. 174.), which Constantine dignified wilt the name of Helenopolis, and Justiuian adorned with many splendid buildings (Procop. de Elificiis, v. 2.). It is indeed probable enough, that Helena's father kept an inn at Drepanum ; and itat Constantius might lodge there when he returned from a Persian embassy, in the reign of AuJelian. But in the wandering life of a soldier, the place of his marriage, and the places where his children are born, have very little connection with each other. 3. The claim of Naissus is supponed by the anonymous writer, published at the end of Ammianus, p. 710., and who in general copidl very good materials : and it is confirmed by Julius Firmicus (de Astrologia, l. i. c. 4.), who tlourihed under the reign of Constantine himself. Some objections have been raised against the integrity Df the text, and the application of the passage of Firmicus; but the former is established by the bei MSS. and the latter is very ably defended by Lipsius de Magnitudine Romana, l. iv. et Supplement.