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The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon

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regular succession of convoys safely arrived in the camp, which
was increased by the return of Probus with his victorious troops
from the conquest of Egypt. It was then that Zenobia resolved to
fly. She mounted the fleetest of her dromedaries, ^72 and had
already reached the banks of the Euphrates, about sixty miles
from Palmyra, when she was overtaken by the pursuit of Aurelian's
light horse, seized, and brought back a captive to the feet of
the emperor. Her capital soon afterwards surrendered, and was
treated with unexpected lenity. The arms, horses, and camels,
with an immense treasure of gold, silver, silk, and precious
stones, were all delivered to the conqueror, who, leaving only a
garrison of six hundred archers, returned to Emesa, and employed
some time in the distribution of rewards and punishments at the
end of so memorable a war, which restored to the obedience of
Rome those provinces that had renounced their allegiance since
the captivity of Valerian.

[Footnote 71: From a very doubtful chronology I have endeavored
to extract the most probable date.]

[Footnote 72: Hist. August. p. 218. Zosimus, l. i. p. 50.
Though the camel is a heavy beast of burden, the dromedary, which
is either of the same or of a kindred species, is used by the
natives of Asia and Africa on all occasions which require
celerity. The Arabs affirm, that he will run over as much ground
in one day as their fleetest horses can perform in eight or ten.
See Buffon, Hist. Naturelle, tom. xi. p. 222, and Shaw's Travels
p. 167]
When the Syrian queen was brought into the presence of
Aurelian, he sternly asked her, How she had presumed to rise in
arms against the emperors of Rome! The answer of Zenobia was a
prudent mixture of respect and firmness. "Because I disdained to
consider as Roman emperors an Aureolus or a Gallienus. You alone
I acknowledge as my conqueror and my sovereign." ^73 But as
female fortitude is commonly artificial, so it is seldom steady
or consistent. The courage of Zenobia deserted her in the hour
of trial; she trembled at the angry clamors of the soldiers, who
called aloud for her immediate execution, forgot the generous
despair of Cleopatra, which she had proposed as her model, and
ignominiously purchased life by the sacrifice of her fame and her
friends. It was to their counsels, which governed the weakness
of her sex, that she imputed the guilt of her obstinate
resistance; it was on their heads that she directed the vengeance
of the cruel Aurelian. The fame of Longinus, who was included
among the numerous and perhaps innocent victims of her fear, will
survive that of the queen who betrayed, or the tyrant who
condemned him. Genius and learning were incapable of moving a
fierce unlettered soldier, but they had served to elevate and
harmonize the soul of Longinus. Without uttering a complaint, he
calmly followed the executioner, pitying his unhappy mistress,
and bestowing comfort on his afflicted friends. ^74

[Footnote 73: Pollio in Hist. August. p. 199.]

[Footnote 74: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 219. Zosimus, l. i.
p. 51.]
Returning from the conquest of the East, Aurelian had
already crossed the Straits which divided Europe from Asia, when
he was provoked by the intelligence that the Palmyrenians had
massacred the governor and garrison which he had left among them,
and again erected the standard of revolt. Without a moment's
deliberation, he once more turned his face towards Syria. Antioch
was alarmed by his rapid approach, and the helpless city of
Palmyra felt the irresistible weight of his resentment. We have
a letter of Aurelian himself, in which he acknowledges, ^75 that
old men, women, children, and peasants, had been involved in that
dreadful execution, which should have been confined to armed
rebellion; and although his principal concern seems directed to
the reestablishment of a temple of the Sun, he discovers some
pity for the remnant of the Palmyrenians, to whom he grants the
permission of rebuilding and inhabiting their city. But it is
easier to destroy than to restore. The seat of commerce, of
arts, and of Zenobia, gradually sunk into an obscure town, a
trifling fortress, and at length a miserable village. The
present citizens of Palmyra, consisting of thirty or forty
families, have erected their mud cottages within the spacious
court of a magnificent temple.
[Footnote 75: Hist. August. p. 219.]

Another and a last labor still awaited the indefatigable
Aurelian; to suppress a dangerous though obscure rebel, who,
during the revolt of Palmyra, had arisen on the banks of the
Nile. Firmus, the friend and ally, as he proudly styled himself,
of Odenathus and Zenobia, was no more than a wealthy merchant of
Egypt. In the course of his trade to India, he had formed very
intimate connections with the Saracens and the Blemmyes, whose
situation on either coast of the Red Sea gave them an easy
introduction into the Upper Egypt. The Egyptians he inflamed
with the hope of freedom, and, at the head of their furious
multitude, broke into the city of Alexandria, where he assumed
the Imperial purple, coined money, published edicts, and raised
an army, which, as he vainly boasted, he was capable of
maintaining from the sole profits of his paper trade. Such
troops were a feeble defence against the approach of Aurelian;
and it seems almost unnecessary to relate, that Firmus was
routed, taken, tortured, and put to death. ^76 Aurelian might now
congratulate the senate, the people, and himself, that in little
more than three years, he had restored universal peace and order
to the Roman world.
[Footnote 76: See Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 220, 242. As an
instance of luxury, it is observed, that he had glass windows.
He was remarkable for his strength and appetite, his courage and
dexterity. From the letter of Aurelian, we may justly infer,
that Firmus was the last of the rebels, and consequently that
Tetricus was already suppressed.]

Since the foundation of Rome, no general had more nobly
deserved a triumph than Aurelian; nor was a triumph ever
celebrated with superior pride and magnificence. ^77 The pomp was
opened by twenty elephants, four royal tigers, and above two
hundred of the most curious animals from every climate of the
North, the East, and the South. They were followed by sixteen
hundred gladiators, devoted to the cruel amusement of the
amphitheatre. The wealth of Asia, the arms and ensigns of so
many conquered nations, and the magnificent plate and wardrobe of
the Syrian queen, were disposed in exact symmetry or artful
disorder. The ambassadors of the most remote parts of the earth,
of Aethiopia, Arabia, Persia, Bactriana, India, and China, all
remarkable by their rich or singular dresses, displayed the fame
and power of the Roman emperor, who exposed likewise to the
public view the presents that he had received, and particularly a
great number of crowns of gold, the offerings of grateful cities.

The victories of Aurelian were attested by the long train of
captives who reluctantly attended his triumph, Goths, Vandals,
Sarmatians, Alemanni, Franks, Gauls, Syrians, and Egyptians.
Each people was distinguished by its peculiar inscription, and
the title of Amazons was bestowed on ten martial heroines of the
Gothie nation who had been taken in arms. ^78 But every eye,
disregarding the crowd of captives, was fixed on the emperor
Tetricus and the queen of the East. The former, as well as his
son, whom he had created Augustus, was dressed in Gallic
trousers, ^79 a saffron tunic, and a robe of purple. The
beauteous figure of Zenobia was confined by fetters of gold; a
slave supported the gold chain which encircled her neck, and she
almost fainted under the intolerable weight of jewels. She
preceded on foot the magnificent chariot, in which she once hoped
to enter the gates of Rome. It was followed by two other
chariots, still more sumptuous, of Odenathus and of the Persian
monarch. The triumphal car of Aurelian (it had formerly been
used by a Gothic king) was drawn, on this memorable occasion,
either by four stags or by four elephants. ^80 The most
illustrious of the senate, the people, and the army closed the
solemn procession. Unfeigned joy, wonder, and gratitude, swelled
the acclamations of the multitude; but the satisfaction of the
senate was clouded by the appearance of Tetricus; nor could they
suppress a rising murmur, that the haughty emperor should thus
expose to public ignominy the person of a Roman and a magistrate.
[Footnote 77: See the triumph of Aurelian, described by Vopiscus.

He relates the particulars with his usual minuteness; and, on
this occasion, they happen to be interesting. Hist. August. p.

[Footnote 78: Among barbarous nations, women have often combated
by the side of their husbands. But it is almost impossible that
a society of Amazons should ever have existed either in the old
or new world.

Note: Klaproth's theory on the origin of such traditions is
at least recommended by its ingenuity. The males of a tribe
having gone out on a marauding expedition, and having been cut
off to a man, the females may have endeavored, for a time, to
maintain their independence in their camp village, till their
children grew up. Travels, ch. xxx. Eng. Trans - M.]
[Footnote 79: The use of braccoe, breeches, or trousers, was
still considered in Italy as a Gallic and barbarian fashion. The
Romans, however, had made great advances towards it. To encircle
the legs and thighs with fascioe, or bands, was understood, in
the time of Pompey and Horace, to be a proof of ill health or
effeminacy. In the age of Trajan, the custom was confined to the
rich and luxurious. It gradually was adopted by the meanest of
the people. See a very curious note of Casaubon, ad Sueton. in
August. c. 82.]
[Footnote 80: Most probably the former; the latter seen on the
medals of Aurelian, only denote (according to the learned
Cardinal Norris) an oriental victory.]

[Footnote 81: The expression of Calphurnius, (Eclog. i. 50)
Nullos decet captiva triumphos, as applied to Rome, contains a
very manifest allusion and censure.]

But however, in the treatment of his unfortunate rivals,
Aurelian might indulge his pride, he behaved towards them with a
generous clemency, which was seldom exercised by the ancient
conquerors. Princes who, without success, had defended their
throne or freedom, were frequently strangled in prison, as soon
as the triumphal pomp ascended the Capitol. These usurpers, whom
their defeat had convicted of the crime of treason, were
permitted to spend their lives in affluence and honorable repose.

The emperor presented Zenobia with an elegant villa at Tibur, or
Tivoli, about twenty miles from the capital; the Syrian queen
insensibly sunk into a Roman matron, her daughters married into
noble families, and her race was not yet extinct in the fifth
century. ^82 Tetricus and his son were reinstated in their rank
and fortunes. They erected on the Caelian hill a magnificent
palace, and as soon as it was finished, invited Aurelian to
supper. On his entrance, he was agreeably surprised with a
picture which represented their singular history. They were
delineated offering to the emperor a civic crown and the sceptre
of Gaul, and again receiving at his hands the ornaments of the
senatorial dignity. The father was afterwards invested with the
government of Lucania, ^83 and Aurelian, who soon admitted the
abdicated monarch to his friendship and conversation, familiarly
asked him, Whether it were not more desirable to administer a
province of Italy, than to reign beyond the Alps. The son long
continued a respectable member of the senate; nor was there any
one of the Roman nobility more esteemed by Aurelian, as well as
by his successors. ^84
[Footnote 82: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 199. Hieronym. in
Chron. Prosper in Chron. Baronius supposes that Zenobius,
bishop of Florence in the time of St. Ambrose, was of her

[Footnote 83: Vopisc. in Hist. August. p. 222. Eutropius, ix.
13. Victor Junior. But Pollio, in Hist. August. p. 196, says,
that Tetricus was made corrector of all Italy.]

[Footnote 84: Hist. August. p. 197.]

So long and so various was the pomp of Aurelian's triumph,
that although it opened with the dawn of day, the slow majesty of
the procession ascended not the Capitol before the ninth hour;
and it was already dark when the emperor returned to the palace.
The festival was protracted by theatrical representations, the
games of the circus, the hunting of wild beasts, combats of
gladiators, and naval engagements. Liberal donatives were
distributed to the army and people, and several institutions,
agreeable or beneficial to the city, contributed to perpetuate
the glory of Aurelian. A considerable portion of his oriental
spoils was consecrated to the gods of Rome; the Capitol, and
every other temple, glittered with the offerings of his
ostentatious piety; and the temple of the Sun alone received
above fifteen thousand pounds of gold. ^85 This last was a
magnificent structure, erected by the emperor on the side of the
Quirinal hill, and dedicated, soon after the triumph, to that
deity whom Aurelian adored as the parent of his life and
fortunes. His mother had been an inferior priestess in a chapel
of the Sun; a peculiar devotion to the god of Light was a
sentiment which the fortunate peasant imbibed in his infancy; and
every step of his elevation, every victory of his reign,
fortified superstition by gratitude. ^86
[Footnote 85: Vopiscus in Hist. August. 222. Zosimus, l. i. p.
56. He placed in it the images of Belus and of the Sun, which he
had brought from Palmyra. It was dedicated in the fourth year of
his reign, (Euseb in Chron.,) but was most assuredly begun
immediately on his accession.]
[Footnote 86: See, in the Augustan History, p. 210, the omens of
his fortune. His devotion to the Sun appears in his letters, on
his medals, and is mentioned in the Caesars of Julian.
Commentaire de Spanheim, p. 109.]
The arms of Aurelian had vanquished the foreign and domestic
foes of the republic. We are assured, that, by his salutary
rigor, crimes and factions, mischievous arts and pernicious
connivance, the luxurious growth of a feeble and oppressive
government, were eradicated throughout the Roman world. ^87 But
if we attentively reflect how much swifter is the progress of
corruption than its cure, and if we remember that the years
abandoned to public disorders exceeded the months allotted to the
martial reign of Aurelian, we must confess that a few short
intervals of peace were insufficient for the arduous work of
reformation. Even his attempt to restore the integrity of the
coin was opposed by a formidable insurrection. The emperor's
vexation breaks out in one of his private letters. "Surely,"
says he, "the gods have decreed that my life should be a
perpetual warfare. A sedition within the walls has just now
given birth to a very serious civil war. The workmen of the
mint, at the instigation of Felicissimus, a slave to whom I had
intrusted an employment in the finances, have risen in rebellion.

They are at length suppressed; but seven thousand of my soldiers
have been slain in the contest, of those troops whose ordinary
station is in Dacia, and the camps along the Danube." ^88 Other
writers, who confirm the same fact, add likewise, that it
happened soon after Aurelian's triumph; that the decisive
engagement was fought on the Caelian hill; that the workmen of
the mint had adulterated the coin; and that the emperor restored
the public credit, by delivering out good money in exchange for
the bad, which the people was commanded to bring into the
treasury. ^89

[Footnote 87: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 221.]

[Footnote 88: Hist. August. p. 222. Aurelian calls these
soldiers Hiberi Riporiences Castriani, and Dacisci.]

[Footnote 89: Zosimus, l. i. p. 56. Eutropius, ix. 14. Aurel
We might content ourselves with relating this extraordinary
transaction, but we cannot dissemble how much in its present form
it appears to us inconsistent and incredible. The debasement of
the coin is indeed well suited to the administration of
Gallienus; nor is it unlikely that the instruments of the
corruption might dread the inflexible justice of Aurelian. But
the guilt, as well as the profit, must have been confined to a
very few; nor is it easy to conceive by what arts they could arm
a people whom they had injured, against a monarch whom they had
betrayed. We might naturally expect that such miscreants should
have shared the public detestation with the informers and the
other ministers of oppression; and that the reformation of the
coin should have been an action equally popular with the
destruction of those obsolete accounts, which by the emperor's
order were burnt in the forum of Trajan. ^90 In an age when the
principles of commerce were so imperfectly understood, the most
desirable end might perhaps be effected by harsh and injudicious
means; but a temporary grievance of such a nature can scarcely
excite and support a serious civil war. The repetition of
intolerable taxes, imposed either on the land or on the
necessaries of life, may at last provoke those who will not, or
who cannot, relinquish their country. But the case is far
otherwise in every operation which, by whatsoever expedients,
restores the just value of money. The transient evil is soon
obliterated by the permanent benefit, the loss is divided among
multitudes; and if a few wealthy individuals experience a
sensible diminution of treasure, with their riches, they at the
same time lose the degree of weight and importance which they
derived from the possession of them. However Aurelian might
choose to disguise the real cause of the insurrection, his
reformation of the coin could furnish only a faint pretence to a
party already powerful and discontented. Rome, though deprived
of freedom, was distracted by faction. The people, towards whom
the emperor, himself a plebeian, always expressed a peculiar
fondness, lived in perpetual dissension with the senate, the
equestrian order, and the Praetorian guards. ^91 Nothing less
than the firm though secret conspiracy of those orders, of the
authority of the first, the wealth of the second, and the arms of
the third, could have displayed a strength capable of contending
in battle with the veteran legions of the Danube, which, under
the conduct of a martial sovereign, had achieved the conquest of
the West and of the East.

[Footnote 90: Hist. August. p. 222. Aurel Victor.]

[Footnote 91: It already raged before Aurelian's return from
Egypt. See Vipiscus, who quotes an original letter. Hist.
August. p. 244.]
Whatever was the cause or the object of this rebellion,
imputed with so little probability to the workmen of the mint,
Aurelian used his victory with unrelenting rigor. ^92 He was
naturally of a severe disposition. A peasant and a soldier, his
nerves yielded not easily to the impressions of sympathy, and he
could sustain without emotion the sight of tortures and death.
Trained from his earliest youth in the exercise of arms, he set
too small a value on the life of a citizen, chastised by military
execution the slightest offences, and transferred the stern
discipline of the camp into the civil administration of the laws.

His love of justice often became a blind and furious passion and
whenever he deemed his own or the public safety endangered, he
disregarded the rules of evidence, and the proportion of
punishments. The unprovoked rebellion with which the Romans
rewarded his services, exasperated his haughty spirit. The
noblest families of the capital were involved in the guilt or
suspicion of this dark conspiracy. A nasty spirit of revenge
urged the bloody prosecution, and it proved fatal to one of the
nephews of the emperor. The the executioners (if we may use the
expression of a contemporary poet) were fatigued, the prisons
were crowded, and the unhappy senate lamented the death or
absence of its most illustrious members. ^93 Nor was the pride of
Aurelian less offensive to that assembly than his cruelty.
Ignorant or impatient of the restraints of civil institutions, he
disdained to hold his power by any other title than that of the
sword, and governed by right of conquest an empire which he had
saved and subdued. ^94

[Footnote 92: Vopiscus in Hist. August p. 222. The two Victors.
Eutropius ix. 14. Zosimus (l. i. p. 43) mentions only three
senators, and placed their death before the eastern war.]

[Footnote 93: Nulla catenati feralis pompa senatus
Carnificum lassabit opus; nec carcere pleno
Infelix raros numerabit curia Patres.

Calphurn. Eclog. i. 60.]

[Footnote 94: According to the younger Victor, he sometimes wore
the diadem, Deus and Dominus appear on his medals.]

It was observed by one of the most sagacious of the Roman
princes, that the talents of his predecessor Aurelian were better
suited to the command of an army, than to the government of an
empire. ^95 Conscious of the character in which nature and
experience had enabled him to excel, he again took the field a
few months after his triumph. It was expedient to exercise the
restless temper of the legions in some foreign war, and the
Persian monarch, exulting in the shame of Valerian, still braved
with impunity the offended majesty of Rome. At the head of an
army, less formidable by its numbers than by its discipline and
valor, the emperor advanced as far as the Straits which divide
Europe from Asia. He there experienced that the most absolute
power is a weak defence against the effects of despair. He had
threatened one of his secretaries who was accused of extortion;
and it was known that he seldom threatened in vain. The last
hope which remained for the criminal, was to involve some of the
principal officers of the army in his danger, or at least in his
fears. Artfully counterfeiting his master's hand, he showed
them, in a long and bloody list, their own names devoted to
death. Without suspecting or examining the fraud, they resolved
to secure their lives by the murder of the emperor. On his
march, between Byzanthium and Heraclea, Aurelian was suddenly
attacked by the conspirators, whose stations gave them a right to
surround his person, and after a short resistance, fell by the
hand of Mucapor, a general whom he had always loved and trusted.
He died regretted by the army, detested by the senate, but
universally acknowledged as a warlike and fortunate prince, the
useful, though severe reformer of a degenerate state. ^96

[Footnote 95: It was the observation of Dioclatian. See Vopiscus
in Hist. August. p. 224.]

[Footnote 96: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 221. Zosimus, l. i.
p. 57. Eutrop ix. 15. The two Victors.]

Chapter XII: Reigns Of Tacitus, Probus, Carus And His Sons.

Part I.

Conduct Of The Army And Senate After The Death Of Aurelian. -
Reigns Of Tacitus, Probus, Carus, And His Sons.

Such was the unhappy condition of the Roman emperors, that,
whatever might be their conduct, their fate was commonly the
same. A life of pleasure or virtue, of severity or mildness, of
indolence or glory, alike led to an untimely grave; and almost
every reign is closed by the same disgusting repetition of
treason and murder. The death of Aurelian, however, is
remarkable by its extraordinary consequences. The legions
admired, lamented, and revenged their victorious chief. The
artifice of his perfidious secretary was discovered and punished.

The deluded conspirators attended the funeral of their injured
sovereign, with sincere or well-feigned contrition, and submitted
to the unanimous resolution of the military order, which was
signified by the following epistle: "The brave and fortunate
armies to the senate and people of Rome. - The crime of one man,
and the error of many, have deprived us of the late emperor
Aurelian. May it please you, venerable lords and fathers! to
place him in the number of the gods, and to appoint a successor
whom your judgment shall declare worthy of the Imperial purple!
None of those whose guilt or misfortune have contributed to our
loss, shall ever reign over us." ^1 The Roman senators heard,
without surprise, that another emperor had been assassinated in
his camp; they secretly rejoiced in the fall of Aurelian; and,
besides the recent notoriety of the facts, constantly draws his
materials from the Journals of the Senate, and the but the modest
and dutiful address of the legions, when it was communicated in
full assembly by the consul, diffused the most pleasing
astonishment. Such honors as fear and perhaps esteem could
extort, they liberally poured forth on the memory of their
deceased sovereign. Such acknowledgments as gratitude could
inspire, they returned to the faithful armies of the republic,
who entertained so just a sense of the legal authority of the
senate in the choice of an emperor. Yet, notwithstanding this
flattering appeal, the most prudent of the assembly declined
exposing their safety and dignity to the caprice of an armed
multitude. The strength of the legions was, indeed, a pledge of
their sincerity, since those who may command are seldom reduced
to the necessity of dissembling; but could it naturally be
expected, that a hasty repentance would correct the inveterate
habits of fourscore years? Should the soldiers relapse into their
accustomed seditions, their insolence might disgrace the majesty
of the senate, and prove fatal to the object of its choice.
Motives like these dictated a decree, by which the election of a
new emperor was referred to the suffrage of the military order.
[Footnote 1: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 222. Aurelius Victor
mentions a formal deputation from the troops to the senate.]

The contention that ensued is one of the best attested, but
most improbable events in the history of mankind. ^2 The troops,
as if satiated with the exercise of power, again conjured the
senate to invest one of its own body with the Imperial purple.
The senate still persisted in its refusal; the army in its
request. The reciprocal offer was pressed and rejected at least
three times, and, whilst the obstinate modesty of either party
was resolved to receive a master from the hands of the other,
eight months insensibly elapsed; an amazing period of tranquil
anarchy, during which the Roman world remained without a
sovereign, without a usurper, and without a sedition. ^* The
generals and magistrates appointed by Aurelian continued to
execute their ordinary functions; and it is observed, that a
proconsul of Asia was the only considerable person removed from
his office in the whole course of the interregnum.

[Footnote 2: Vopiscus, our principal authority, wrote at Rome,
sixteen years only after the death of Aurelian; and, besides the
recent notoriety of the facts, constantly draws his materials
from the Journals of the Senate, and the original papers of the
Ulpian library. Zosimus and Zonaras appear as ignorant of this
transaction as they were in general of the Roman constitution.]

[Footnote *: The interregnum could not be more than seven months;
Aurelian was assassinated in the middle of March, the year of
Rome 1028. Tacitus was elected the 25th September in the same
year. - G.]

An event somewhat similar, but much less authentic, is
supposed to have happened after the death of Romulus, who, in his
life and character, bore some affinity with Aurelian. The throne
was vacant during twelve months, till the election of a Sabine
philosopher, and the public peace was guarded in the same manner,
by the union of the several orders of the state. But, in the
time of Numa and Romulus, the arms of the people were controlled
by the authority of the Patricians; and the balance of freedom
was easily preserved in a small and virtuous community. ^3 The
decline of the Roman state, far different from its infancy, was
attended with every circumstance that could banish from an
interregnum the prospect of obedience and harmony: an immense and
tumultuous capital, a wide extent of empire, the servile equality
of despotism, an army of four hundred thousand mercenaries, and
the experience of frequent revolutions. Yet, notwithstanding all
these temptations, the discipline and memory of Aurelian still
restrained the seditious temper of the troops, as well as the
fatal ambition of their leaders. The flower of the legions
maintained their stations on the banks of the Bosphorus, and the
Imperial standard awed the less powerful camps of Rome and of the
provinces. A generous though transient enthusiasm seemed to
animate the military order; and we may hope that a few real
patriots cultivated the returning friendship of the army and the
senate, as the only expedient capable of restoring the republic
to its ancient beauty and vigor.

[Footnote 3: Liv. i. 17 Dionys. Halicarn. l. ii. p. 115.
Plutarch in Numa, p. 60. The first of these writers relates the
story like an orator, the second like a lawyer, and the third
like a moralist, and none of them probably without some
intermixture of fable.]

On the twenty-fifth of September, near eight months after
the murder of Aurelian, the consul convoked an assembly of the
senate, and reported the doubtful and dangerous situation of the
empire. He slightly insinuated, that the precarious loyalty of
the soldiers depended on the chance of every hour, and of every
accident; but he represented, with the most convincing eloquence,
the various dangers that might attend any further delay in the
choice of an emperor. Intelligence, he said, was already
received, that the Germans had passed the Rhine, and occupied
some of the strongest and most opulent cities of Gaul. The
ambition of the Persian king kept the East in perpetual alarms;
Egypt, Africa, and Illyricum, were exposed to foreign and
domestic arms, and the levity of Syria would prefer even a female
sceptre to the sanctity of the Roman laws. The consul, then
addressing himself to Tacitus, the first of the senators, ^4
required his opinion on the important subject of a proper
candidate for the vacant throne.

[Footnote 4: Vopiscus (in Hist. August p. 227) calls him "primae
sententia consularis;" and soon afterwards Princeps senatus. It
is natural to suppose, that the monarchs of Rome, disdaining that
humble title, resigned it to the most ancient of the senators.]

If we can prefer personal merit to accidental greatness, we
shall esteem the birth of Tacitus more truly noble than that of
kings. He claimed his descent from the philosophic historian,
whose writings will instruct the last generations of mankind. ^5
The senator Tacitus was then seventy-five years of age. ^6 The
long period of his innocent life was adorned with wealth and
honors. He had twice been invested with the consular dignity, ^7
and enjoyed with elegance and sobriety his ample patrimony of
between two and three millions sterling. ^8 The experience of so
many princes, whom he had esteemed or endured, from the vain
follies of Elagabalus to the useful rigor of Aurelian, taught him
to form a just estimate of the duties, the dangers, and the
temptations of their sublime station. From the assiduous study
of his immortal ancestor, he derived the knowledge of the Roman
constitution, and of human nature. ^9 The voice of the people had
already named Tacitus as the citizen the most worthy of empire.
The ungrateful rumor reached his ears, and induced him to seek
the retirement of one of his villas in Campania. He had passed
two months in the delightful privacy of Baiae, when he
reluctantly obeyed the summons of the consul to resume his
honorable place in the senate, and to assist the republic with
his counsels on this important occasion.
[Footnote 5: The only objection to this genealogy is, that the
historian was named Cornelius, the emperor, Claudius. But under
the lower empire, surnames were extremely various and uncertain.]

[Footnote 6: Zonaras, l. xii. p. 637. The Alexandrian Chronicle,
by an obvious mistake, transfers that age to Aurelian.]

[Footnote 7: In the year 273, he was ordinary consul. But he
must have been Suffectus many years before, and most probably
under Valerian.]
[Footnote 8: Bis millies octingenties. Vopiscus in Hist. August
p. 229. This sum, according to the old standard, was equivalent
to eight hundred and forty thousand Roman pounds of silver, each
of the value of three pounds sterling. But in the age of
Tacitus, the coin had lost much of its weight and purity.]

[Footnote 9: After his accession, he gave orders that ten copies
of the historian should be annually transcribed and placed in the
public libraries. The Roman libraries have long since perished,
and the most valuable part of Tacitus was preserved in a single
Ms., and discovered in a monastery of Westphalia. See Bayle,
Dictionnaire, Art. Tacite, and Lipsius ad Annal. ii. 9.]

He arose to speak, when from every quarter of the house, he
was saluted with the names of Augustus and emperor. "Tacitus
Augustus, the gods preserve thee! we choose thee for our
sovereign; to thy care we intrust the republic and the world.
Accept the empire from the authority of the senate. It is due to
thy rank, to thy conduct, to thy manners." As soon as the tumult
of acclamations subsided, Tacitus attempted to decline the
dangerous honor, and to express his wonder, that they should
elect his age and infirmities to succeed the martial vigor of
Aurelian. "Are these limbs, conscript fathers! fitted to sustain
the weight of armor, or to practise the exercises of the camp?
The variety of climates, and the hardships of a military life,
would soon oppress a feeble constitution, which subsists only by
the most tender management. My exhausted strength scarcely
enables me to discharge the duty of a senator; how insufficient
would it prove to the arduous labors of war and government! Can
you hope, that the legions will respect a weak old man, whose
days have been spent in the shade of peace and retirement? Can
you desire that I should ever find reason to regret the favorable
opinion of the senate?" ^10

[Footnote 10: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 227.]

The reluctance of Tacitus (and it might possibly be sincere)
was encountered by the affectionate obstinacy of the senate.
Five hundred voices repeated at once, in eloquent confusion, that
the greatest of the Roman princes, Numa, Trajan, Hadrian, and the
Antonines, had ascended the throne in a very advanced season of
life; that the mind, not the body, a sovereign, not a soldier,
was the object of their choice; and that they expected from him
no more than to guide by his wisdom the valor of the legions.
These pressing though tumultuary instances were seconded by a
more regular oration of Metius Falconius, the next on the
consular bench to Tacitus himself. He reminded the assembly of
the evils which Rome had endured from the vices of headstrong and
capricious youths, congratulated them on the election of a
virtuous and experienced senator, and, with a manly, though
perhaps a selfish, freedom, exhorted Tacitus to remember the
reasons of his elevation, and to seek a successor, not in his own
family, but in the republic. The speech of Falconius was
enforced by a general acclamation. The emperor elect submitted
to the authority of his country, and received the voluntary
homage of his equals. The judgment of the senate was confirmed
by the consent of the Roman people, and of the Praetorian guards.

[Footnote 11: Hist. August. p. 228. Tacitus addressed the
Praetorians by the appellation of sanctissimi milites, and the
people by that of sacratissim. Quirites.]

The administration of Tacitus was not unworthy of his life
and principles. A grateful servant of the senate, he considered
that national council as the author, and himself as the subject,
of the laws. ^12 He studied to heal the wounds which Imperial
pride, civil discord, and military violence, had inflicted on the
constitution, and to restore, at least, the image of the ancient
republic, as it had been preserved by the policy of Augustus, and
the virtues of Trajan and the Antonines. It may not be useless
to recapitulate some of the most important prerogatives which the
senate appeared to have regained by the election of Tacitus. ^13
1. To invest one of their body, under the title of emperor, with
the general command of the armies, and the government of the
frontier provinces. 2. To determine the list, or, as it was then
styled, the College of Consuls. They were twelve in number, who,
in successive pairs, each, during the space of two months, filled
the year, and represented the dignity of that ancient office.
The authority of the senate, in the nomination of the consuls,
was exercised with such independent freedom, that no regard was
paid to an irregular request of the emperor in favor of his
brother Florianus. "The senate," exclaimed Tacitus, with the
honest transport of a patriot, "understand the character of a
prince whom they have chosen." 3. To appoint the proconsuls and
presidents of the provinces, and to confer on all the magistrates
their civil jurisdiction. 4. To receive appeals through the
intermediate office of the praefect of the city from all the
tribunals of the empire. 5. To give force and validity, by their
decrees, to such as they should approve of the emperor's edicts.
6. To these several branches of authority we may add some
inspection over the finances, since, even in the stern reign of
Aurelian, it was in their power to divert a part of the revenue
from the public service. ^14

[Footnote 12: In his manumissions he never exceeded the number of
a hundred, as limited by the Caninian law, which was enacted
under Augustus, and at length repealed by Justinian. See
Casaubon ad locum Vopisci.]
[Footnote 13: See the lives of Tacitus, Florianus, and Probus, in
the Augustan History; we may be well assured, that whatever the
soldier gave the senator had already given.]

[Footnote 14: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 216. The passage is
perfectly clear, both Casaubon and Salmasius wish to correct it.]

Circular epistles were sent, without delay, to all the
principal cities of the empire, Treves, Milan, Aquileia, Thessalo
nica, Corinth, Athens, Antioch, Alexandria, and Carthage, to
claim their obedience, and to inform them of the happy
revolution, which had restored the Roman senate to its ancient
dignity. Two of these epistles are still extant. We likewise
possess two very singular fragments of the private correspondence
of the senators on this occasion. They discover the most
excessive joy, and the most unbounded hopes. "Cast away your
indolence," it is thus that one of the senators addresses his
friend, "emerge from your retirements of Baiae and Puteoli. Give
yourself to the city, to the senate. Rome flourishes, the whole
republic flourishes. Thanks to the Roman army, to an army truly
Roman; at length we have recovered our just authority, the end of
all our desires. We hear appeals, we appoint proconsuls, we
create emperors; perhaps too we may restrain them - to the wise a
word is sufficient." ^15 These lofty expectations were, however,
soon disappointed; nor, indeed, was it possible that the armies
and the provinces should long obey the luxurious and unwarlike
nobles of Rome. On the slightest touch, the unsupported fabric
of their pride and power fell to the ground. The expiring senate
displayed a sudden lustre, blazed for a moment and was
extinguished forever.
[Footnote 15: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 230, 232, 233. The
senators celebrated the happy restoration with hecatombs and
public rejoicings.]
All that had yet passed at Rome was no more than a
theatrical representation, unless it was ratified by the more
substantial power of the legions. Leaving the senators to enjoy
their dream of freedom and ambition, Tacitus proceeded to the
Thracian camp, and was there, by the Praetorian praefect,
presented to the assembled troops, as the prince whom they
themselves had demanded, and whom the senate had bestowed. As
soon as the praefect was silent, the emperor addressed himself to
the soldiers with eloquence and propriety. He gratified their
avarice by a liberal distribution of treasure, under the names of
pay and donative. He engaged their esteem by a spirited
declaration, that although his age might disable him from the
performance of military exploits, his counsels should never be
unworthy of a Roman general, the successor of the brave Aurelian.
[Footnote 16: Hist. August. p. 228.]

Whilst the deceased emperor was making preparations for a
second expedition into the East, he had negotiated with the
Alani, ^* a Scythian people, who pitched their tents in the
neighborhood of the Lake Moeotis. Those barbarians, allured by
presents and subsidies, had promised to invade Persia with a
numerous body of light cavalry. They were faithful to their
engagements; but when they arrived on the Roman frontier,
Aurelian was already dead, the design of the Persian war was at
least suspended, and the generals, who, during the interregnum,
exercised a doubtful authority, were unprepared either to receive
or to oppose them. Provoked by such treatment, which they
considered as trifling and perfidious, the Alani had recourse to
their own valor for their payment and revenge; and as they moved
with the usual swiftness of Tartars, they had soon spread
themselves over the provinces of Pontus, Cappadocia, Cilicia, and
Galatia. The legions, who from the opposite shores of the
Bosphorus could almost distinguish the flames of the cities and
villages, impatiently urged their general to lead them against
the invaders. The conduct of Tacitus was suitable to his age and
station. He convinced the barbarians of the faith, as well as the
power, of the empire. Great numbers of the Alani, appeased by
the punctual discharge of the engagements which Aurelian had
contracted with them, relinquished their booty and captives, and
quietly retreated to their own deserts, beyond the Phasis.
Against the remainder, who refused peace, the Roman emperor
waged, in person, a successful war. Seconded by an army of brave
and experienced veterans, in a few weeks he delivered the
provinces of Asia from the terror of the Scythian invasion. ^17

[Footnote *: On the Alani, see ch. xxvi. note 55. - M.]

[Footnote 17: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 230. Zosimus, l. i.
p. 57. Zonaras, l. xii. p. 637. Two passages in the life of
Probus (p. 236, 238) convince me, that these Scythian invaders of
Pontus were Alani. If we may believe Zosimus, (l. i. p. 58,)
Florianus pursued them as far as the Cimmerian Bosphorus. But he
had scarcely time for so long and difficult an expedition.]

But the glory and life of Tacitus were of short duration.
Transported, in the depth of winter, from the soft retirement of
Campania to the foot of Mount Caucasus, he sunk under the
unaccustomed hardships of a military life. The fatigues of the
body were aggravated by the cares of the mind. For a while, the
angry and selfish passions of the soldiers had been suspended by
the enthusiasm of public virtue. They soon broke out with
redoubled violence, and raged in the camp, and even in the tent
of the aged emperor. His mild and amiable character served only
to inspire contempt, and he was incessantly tormented with
factions which he could not assuage, and by demands which it was
impossible to satisfy. Whatever flattering expectations he had
conceived of reconciling the public disorders, Tacitus soon was
convinced that the licentiousness of the army disdained the
feeble restraint of laws, and his last hour was hastened by
anguish and disappointment. It may be doubtful whether the
soldiers imbrued their hands in the blood of this innocent
prince. ^18 It is certain that their insolences was the cause of
his death. He expired at Tyana in Cappadocia, after a reign of
only six months and about twenty days. ^19

[Footnote 18: Eutropius and Aurelius Victor only say that he
died; Victor Junior adds, that it was of a fever. Zosimus and
Zonaras affirm, that he was killed by the soldiers. Vopiscus
mentions both accounts, and seems to hesitate. Yet surely these
jarring opinions are easily reconciled.]
[Footnote 19: According to the two Victors, he reigned exactly
two hundred days.]

The eyes of Tacitus were scarcely closed, before his brother
Florianus showed himself unworthy to reign, by the hasty
usurpation of the purple, without expecting the approbation of
the senate. The reverence for the Roman constitution, which yet
influenced the camp and the provinces, was sufficiently strong to
dispose them to censure, but not to provoke them to oppose, the
precipitate ambition of Florianus. The discontent would have
evaporated in idle murmurs, had not the general of the East, the
heroic Probus, boldly declared himself the avenger of the senate.

The contest, however, was still unequal; nor could the most able
leader, at the head of the effeminate troops of Egypt and Syria,
encounter, with any hopes of victory, the legions of Europe,
whose irresistible strength appeared to support the brother of
Tacitus. But the fortune and activity of Probus triumphed over
every obstacle. The hardy veterans of his rival, accustomed to
cold climates, sickened and consumed away in the sultry heats of
Cilicia, where the summer proved remarkably unwholesome. Their
numbers were diminished by frequent desertion; the passes of the
mountains were feebly defended; Tarsus opened its gates; and the
soldiers of Florianus, when they had permitted him to enjoy the
Imperial title about three months, delivered the empire from
civil war by the easy sacrifice of a prince whom they despised.

[Footnote 20: Hist. August, p. 231. Zosimus, l. i. p. 58, 59.
Zonaras, l. xii. p. 637. Aurelius Victor says, that Probus
assumed the empire in Illyricum; an opinion which (though adopted
by a very learned man) would throw that period of history into
inextricable confusion.]
The perpetual revolutions of the throne had so perfectly
erased every notion of hereditary title, that the family of an
unfortunate emperor was incapable of exciting the jealousy of his
successors. The children of Tacitus and Florianus were permitted
to descend into a private station, and to mingle with the general
mass of the people. Their poverty indeed became an additional
safeguard to their innocence. When Tacitus was elected by the
senate, he resigned his ample patrimony to the public service;
^21 an act of generosity specious in appearance, but which
evidently disclosed his intention of transmitting the empire to
his descendants. The only consolation of their fallen state was
the remembrance of transient greatness, and a distant hope, the
child of a flattering prophecy, that at the end of a thousand
years, a monarch of the race of Tacitus should arise, the
protector of the senate, the restorer of Rome, and the conqueror
of the whole earth. ^22

[Footnote 21: Hist. August. p. 229]

[Footnote 22: He was to send judges to the Parthians, Persians,
and Sarmatians, a president to Taprobani, and a proconsul to the
Roman island, (supposed by Casaubon and Salmasius to mean
Britain.) Such a history as mine (says Vopiscus with proper
modesty) will not subsist a thousand years, to expose or justify
the prediction.]

The peasants of Illyricum, who had already given Claudius
and Aurelian to the sinking empire, had an equal right to glory
in the elevation of Probus. ^23 Above twenty years before, the
emperor Valerian, with his usual penetration, had discovered the
rising merit of the young soldier, on whom he conferred the rank
of tribune, long before the age prescribed by the military
regulations. The tribune soon justified his choice, by a victory
over a great body of Sarmatians, in which he saved the life of a
near relation of Valerian; and deserved to receive from the
emperor's hand the collars, bracelets, spears, and banners, the
mural and the civic crown, and all the honorable rewards reserved
by ancient Rome for successful valor. The third, and afterwards
the tenth, legion were intrusted to the command of Probus, who,
in every step of his promotion, showed himself superior to the
station which he filled. Africa and Pontus, the Rhine, the
Danube, the Euphrates, and the Nile, by turns afforded him the
most splendid occasions of displaying his personal prowess and
his conduct in war. Aurelian was indebted for the honest courage
with which he often checked the cruelty of his master. Tacitus,
who desired by the abilities of his generals to supply his own
deficiency of military talents, named him commander-in-chief of
all the eastern provinces, with five times the usual salary, the
promise of the consulship, and the hope of a triumph. When
Probus ascended the Imperial throne, he was about forty-four
years of age; ^24 in the full possession of his fame, of the love
of the army, and of a mature vigor of mind and body.
[Footnote 23: For the private life of Probus, see Vopiscus in
Hist. August p. 234 - 237]

[Footnote 24: According to the Alexandrian chronicle, he was
fifty at the time of his death.]

His acknowledge merit, and the success of his arms against
Florianus, left him without an enemy or a competitor. Yet, if we
may credit his own professions, very far from being desirous of
the empire, he had accepted it with the most sincere reluctance.
"But it is no longer in my power," says Probus, in a private
letter, "to lay down a title so full of envy and of danger. I
must continue to personate the character which the soldiers have
imposed upon me." ^25 His dutiful address to the senate displayed
the sentiments, or at least the language, of a Roman patriot:
"When you elected one of your order, conscript fathers! to
succeed the emperor Aurelian, you acted in a manner suitable to
your justice and wisdom. For you are the legal sovereigns of the
world, and the power which you derive from your ancestors will
descend to your posterity. Happy would it have been, if
Florianus, instead of usurping the purple of his brother, like a
private inheritance, had expected what your majesty might
determine, either in his favor, or in that of other person. The
prudent soldiers have punished his rashness. To me they have
offered the title of Augustus. But I submit to your clemency my
pretensions and my merits." ^26 When this respectful epistle was
read by the consul, the senators were unable to disguise their
satisfaction, that Probus should condescend thus numbly to
solicit a sceptre which he already possessed. They celebrated
with the warmest gratitude his virtues, his exploits, and above
all his moderation. A decree immediately passed, without a
dissenting voice, to ratify the election of the eastern armies,
and to confer on their chief all the several branches of the
Imperial dignity: the names of Caesar and Augustus, the title of
Father of his country, the right of making in the same day three
motions in the senate, ^27 the office of Pontifex, Maximus, the
tribunitian power, and the proconsular command; a mode of
investiture, which, though it seemed to multiply the authority of
the emperor, expressed the constitution of the ancient republic.
The reign of Probus corresponded with this fair beginning. The
senate was permitted to direct the civil administration of the
empire. Their faithful general asserted the honor of the Roman
arms, and often laid at their feet crowns of gold and barbaric
trophies, the fruits of his numerous victories. ^28 Yet, whilst
he gratified their vanity, he must secretly have despised their
indolence and weakness. Though it was every moment in their
power to repeal the disgraceful edict of Gallienus, the proud
successors of the Scipios patiently acquiesced in their exclusion
from all military employments. They soon experienced, that those
who refuse the sword must renounce the sceptre.
[Footnote 25: This letter was addressed to the Praetorian
praefect, whom (on condition of his good behavior) he promised to
continue in his great office. See Hist. August. p. 237.]

[Footnote 26: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 237. The date of the
letter is assuredly faulty. Instead of Nen. Februar. we may read
Non August.]
[Footnote 27: Hist. August. p. 238. It is odd that the senate
should treat Probus less favorably than Marcus Antoninus. That
prince had received, even before the death of Pius, Jus quintoe
relationis. See Capitolin. in Hist. August. p. 24.]

[Footnote 28: See the dutiful letter of Probus to the senate,
after his German victories. Hist. August. p. 239.]

Chapter XII: Reigns Of Tacitus, Probus, Carus And His Sons.

Part II.

The strength of Aurelian had crushed on every side the
enemies of Rome. After his death they seemed to revive with an
increase of fury and of numbers. They were again vanquished by
the active vigor of Probus, who, in a short reign of about six
years, ^29 equalled the fame of ancient heroes, and restored
peace and order to every province of the Roman world. The
dangerous frontier of Rhaetia he so firmly secured, that he left
it without the suspicion of an enemy. He broke the wandering
power of the Sarmatian tribes, and by the terror of his arms
compelled those barbarians to relinquish their spoil. The Gothic
nation courted the alliance of so warlike an emperor. ^30 He
attacked the Isaurians in their mountains, besieged and took
several of their strongest castles, ^31 and flattered himself
that he had forever suppressed a domestic foe, whose independence
so deeply wounded the majesty of the empire. The troubles
excited by the usurper Firmus in the Upper Egypt had never been
perfectly appeased, and the cities of Ptolemais and Coptos,
fortified by the alliance of the Blemmyes, still maintained an
obscure rebellion. The chastisement of those cities, and of
their auxiliaries the savages of the South, is said to have
alarmed the court of Persia, ^32 and the Great King sued in vain
for the friendship of Probus. Most of the exploits which
distinguished his reign were achieved by the personal valor and
conduct of the emperor, insomuch that the writer of his life
expresses some amazement how, in so short a time, a single man
could be present in so many distant wars. The remaining actions
he intrusted to the care of his lieutenants, the judicious choice
of whom forms no inconsiderable part of his glory. Carus,
Diocletian, Maximian, Constantius, Galerius, Asclepiodatus,
Annibalianus, and a crowd of other chiefs, who afterwards
ascended or supported the throne, were trained to arms in the
severe school of Aurelian and Probus. ^33

[Footnote 29: The date and duration of the reign of Probus are
very correctly ascertained by Cardinal Noris in his learned work,
De Epochis Syro-Macedonum, p. 96 - 105. A passage of Eusebius
connects the second year of Probus with the aeras of several of
the Syrian cities.]

[Footnote 30: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 239.]

[Footnote 31: Zosimus (l. i. p. 62 - 65) tells us a very long and
trifling story of Lycius, the Isaurian robber.]

[Footnote 32: Zosim. l. i. p. 65. Vopiscus in Hist. August. p.
239, 240. But it seems incredible that the defeat of the savages
of Aethiopia could affect the Persian monarch.]

[Footnote 33: Besides these well-known chiefs, several others are
named by Vopiscus, (Hist. August. p. 241,) whose actions have not
reached knowledge.]
But the most important service which Probus rendered to the
republic was the deliverance of Gaul, and the recovery of seventy
flourishing cities oppressed by the barbarians of Germany, who,
since the death of Aurelian, had ravaged that great province with
impunity. ^34 Among the various multitude of those fierce
invaders we may distinguish, with some degree of clearness, three
great armies, or rather nations, successively vanquished by the
valor of Probus. He drove back the Franks into their morasses; a
descriptive circumstance from whence we may infer, that the
confederacy known by the manly appellation of Free, already
occupied the flat maritime country, intersected and almost
overflown by the stagnating waters of the Rhine, and that several
tribes of the Frisians and Batavians had acceded to their
alliance. He vanquished the Burgundians, a considerable people
of the Vandalic race. ^* They had wandered in quest of booty from
the banks of the Oder to those of the Seine. They esteemed
themselves sufficiently fortunate to purchase, by the restitution
of all their booty, the permission of an undisturbed retreat.
They attempted to elude that article of the treaty. Their
punishment was immediate and terrible. ^35 But of all the
invaders of Gaul, the most formidable were the Lygians, a distant
people, who reigned over a wide domain on the frontiers of Poland
and Silesia. ^36 In the Lygian nation, the Arii held the first
rank by their numbers and fierceness. "The Arii" (it is thus
that they are described by the energy of Tacitus) "study to
improve by art and circumstances the innate terrors of their
barbarism. Their shields are black, their bodies are painted
black. They choose for the combat the darkest hour of the night.

Their host advances, covered as it were with a funeral shade; ^37
nor do they often find an enemy capable of sustaining so strange
and infernal an aspect. Of all our senses, the eyes are the
first vanquished in battle." ^38 Yet the arms and discipline of
the Romans easily discomfited these horrid phantoms. The Lygii
were defeated in a general engagement, and Semno, the most
renowned of their chiefs, fell alive into the hands of Probus.
That prudent emperor, unwilling to reduce a brave people to
despair, granted them an honorable capitulation, and permitted
them to return in safety to their native country. But the losses
which they suffered in the march, the battle, and the retreat,
broke the power of the nation: nor is the Lygian name ever
repeated in the history either of Germany or of the empire. The
deliverance of Gaul is reported to have cost the lives of four
hundred thousand of the invaders; a work of labor to the Romans,
and of expense to the emperor, who gave a piece of gold for the
head of every barbarian. ^39 But as the fame of warriors is built
on the destruction of human kind, we may naturally suspect, that
the sanguinary account was multiplied by the avarice of the
soldiers, and accepted without any very severe examination by the
liberal vanity of Probus.
[Footnote 34: See the Caesars of Julian, and Hist. August. p.
238, 240, 241.]
[Footnote *: It was only under the emperors Diocletian and
Maximian, that the Burgundians, in concert with the Alemanni,
invaded the interior of Gaul; under the reign of Probus, they did
no more than pass the river which separated them from the Roman
Empire: they were repelled. Gatterer presumes that this river
was the Danube; a passage in Zosimus appears to me rather to
indicate the Rhine. Zos. l. i. p. 37, edit H. Etienne, 1581. -
On the origin of the Burgundians may be consulted Malte
Brun, Geogr vi. p. 396, (edit. 1831,) who observes that all the
remains of the Burgundian language indicate that they spoke a
Gothic dialect. - M.]
[Footnote 35: Zosimus, l. i. p. 62. Hist. August. p. 240. But
the latter supposes the punishment inflicted with the consent of
their kings: if so, it was partial, like the offence.]

[Footnote 36: See Cluver. Germania Antiqua, l. iii. Ptolemy
places in their country the city of Calisia, probably Calish in

Note: Luden (vol ii. 501) supposes that these have been
erroneously identified with the Lygii of Tacitus. Perhaps one
fertile source of mistakes has been, that the Romans have turned
appellations into national names. Malte Brun observes of the
Lygii, "that their name appears Sclavonian, and signifies
'inhabitants of plains;' they are probably the Lieches of the
middle ages, and the ancestors of the Poles. We find among the
Arii the worship of the two twin gods known in the Sclavian
mythology." Malte Brun, vol. i. p. 278, (edit. 1831.) - M.

But compare Schafarik, Slawische Alterthumer, 1, p. 406.
They were of German or Keltish descent, occupying the Wendish (or
Slavian) district, Luhy. - M. 1845.]

[Footnote 37: Feralis umbra, is the expression of Tacitus: it is
surely a very bold one.]

[Footnote 38: Tacit. Germania, (c. 43.)]

[Footnote 39: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 238]

Since the expedition of Maximin, the Roman generals had
confined their ambition to a defensive war against the nations of
Germany, who perpetually pressed on the frontiers of the empire.
The more daring Probus pursued his Gallic victories, passed the
Rhine, and displayed his invincible eagles on the banks of the
Elbe and the Necker. He was fully convinced that nothing could
reconcile the minds of the barbarians to peace, unless they
experienced, in their own country, the calamities of war.
Germany, exhausted by the ill success of the last emigration, was
astonished by his presence. Nine of the most considerable princes
repaired to his camp, and fell prostrate at his feet. Such a
treaty was humbly received by the Germans, as it pleased the
conqueror to dictate. He exacted a strict restitution of the
effects and captives which they had carried away from the
provinces; and obliged their own magistrates to punish the more
obstinate robbers who presumed to detain any part of the spoil.
A considerable tribute of corn, cattle, and horses, the only
wealth of barbarians, was reserved for the use of the garrisons
which Probus established on the limits of their territory. He
even entertained some thoughts of compelling the Germans to
relinquish the exercise of arms, and to trust their differences
to the justice, their safety to the power, of Rome. To
accomplish these salutary ends, the constant residence of an
Imperial governor, supported by a numerous army, was
indispensably requisite. Probus therefore judged it more
expedient to defer the execution of so great a design; which was
indeed rather of specious than solid utility. ^40 Had Germany
been reduced into the state of a province, the Romans, with
immense labor and expense, would have acquired only a more
extensive boundary to defend against the fiercer and more active
barbarians of Scythia.

[Footnote 40: Hist. August. 238, 239. Vopiscus quotes a letter
from the emperor to the senate, in which he mentions his design
of reducing Germany into a province.]

Instead of reducing the warlike natives of Germany to the
condition of subjects, Probus contented himself with the humble
expedient of raising a bulwark against their inroads. The
country which now forms the circle of Swabia had been left desert
in the age of Augustus by the emigration of its ancient
inhabitants. ^41 The fertility of the soil soon attracted a new
colony from the adjacent provinces of Gaul. Crowds of
adventurers, of a roving temper and of desperate fortunes,
occupied the doubtful possession, and acknowledged, by the
payment of tithes the majesty of the empire. ^42 To protect these
new subjects, a line of frontier garrisons was gradually extended
from the Rhine to the Danube. About the reign of Hadrian, when
that mode of defence began to be practised, these garrisons were
connected and covered by a strong intrenchment of trees and
palisades. In the place of so rude a bulwark, the emperor Probus
constructed a stone wall of a considerable height, and
strengthened it by towers at convenient distances. From the
neighborhood of Newstadt and Ratisbon on the Danube, it stretched
across hills, valleys, rivers, and morasses, as far as Wimpfen on
the Necker, and at length terminated on the banks of the Rhine,
after a winding course of near two hundred miles. ^43 This
important barrier, uniting the two mighty streams that protected
the provinces of Europe, seemed to fill up the vacant space
through which the barbarians, and particularly the Alemanni,
could penetrate with the greatest facility into the heart of the
empire. But the experience of the world, from China to Britain,
has exposed the vain attempt of fortifying any extensive tract of
country. ^44 An active enemy, who can select and vary his points
of attack, must, in the end, discover some feeble spot, on some
unguarded moment. The strength, as well as the attention, of the
defenders is divided; and such are the blind effects of terror on
the firmest troops, that a line broken in a single place is
almost instantly deserted. The fate of the wall which Probus
erected may confirm the general observation. Within a few years
after his death, it was overthrown by the Alemanni. Its
scattered ruins, universally ascribed to the power of the Daemon,
now serve only to excite the wonder of the Swabian peasant.
[Footnote 41: Strabo, l. vii. According to Valleius Paterculus,
(ii. 108,) Maroboduus led his Marcomanni into Bohemia; Cluverius
(German. Antiq. iii. 8) proves that it was from Swabia.]

[Footnote 42: These settlers, from the payment of tithes, were
denominated Decunates. Tacit. Germania, c. 29]

[Footnote 43: See notes de l'Abbe de la Bleterie a la Germanie de
Tacite, p. 183. His account of the wall is chiefly borrowed (as
he says himself) from the Alsatia Illustrata of Schoepflin.]

[Footnote 44: See Recherches sur les Chinois et les Egyptiens,
tom. ii. p. 81 - 102. The anonymous author is well acquainted
with the globe in general, and with Germany in particular: with
regard to the latter, he quotes a work of M. Hanselman; but he
seems to confound the wall of Probus, designed against the
Alemanni, with the fortification of the Mattiaci, constructed in
the neighborhood of Frankfort against the Catti.

Note: De Pauw is well known to have been the author of this
work, as of the Recherches sur les Americains before quoted. The
judgment of M. Remusat on this writer is in a very different, I
fear a juster tone. Quand au lieu de rechercher, d'examiner,
d'etudier, on se borne, comme cet ecrivain, a juger a prononcer,
a decider, sans connoitre ni l'histoire. ni les langues, sans
recourir aux sources, sans meme se douter de leur existence, on
peut en imposer pendant quelque temps a des lecteurs prevenus ou
peu instruits; mais le mepris qui ne manque guere de succeder a
cet engouement fait bientot justice de ces assertions hazardees,
et elles retombent dans l'oubli d'autant plus promptement,
qu'elles ont ete posees avec plus de confiance. Sur les l angues
Tartares, p. 231. - M.]

Among the useful conditions of peace imposed by Probus on
the vanquished nations of Germany, was the obligation of
supplying the Roman army with sixteen thousand recruits, the
bravest and most robust of their youth. The emperor dispersed
them through all the provinces, and distributed this dangerous
reenforcement, in small bands of fifty or sixty each, among the
national troops; judiciously observing, that the aid which the
republic derived from the barbarians should be felt but not seen.
^45 Their aid was now become necessary. The feeble elegance of
Italy and the internal provinces could no longer support the
weight of arms. The hardy frontiers of the Rhine and Danube
still produced minds and bodies equal to the labors of the camp;
but a perpetual series of wars had gradually diminished their
numbers. The infrequency of marriage, and the ruin of
agriculture, affected the principles of population, and not only
destroyed the strength of the present, but intercepted the hope
of future, generations. The wisdom of Probus embraced a great
and beneficial plan of replenishing the exhausted frontiers, by
new colonies of captive or fugitive barbarians, on whom he
bestowed lands, cattle, instruments of husbandry, and every
encouragement that might engage them to educate a race of
soldiers for the service of the republic. Into Britain, and most
probably into Cambridgeshire, ^46 he transported a considerable
body of Vandals. The impossibility of an escape reconciled them
to their situation, and in the subsequent troubles of that
island, they approved themselves the most faithful servants of
the state. ^47 Great numbers of Franks and Gepidae were settled
on the banks of the Danube and the Rhine. A hundred thousand
Bastarnae, expelled from their own country, cheerfully accepted
an establishment in Thrace, and soon imbibed the manners and
sentiments of Roman subjects. ^48 But the expectations of Probus
were too often disappointed. The impatience and idleness of the
barbarians could ill brook the slow labors of agriculture. Their
unconquerable love of freedom, rising against despotism, provoked
them into hasty rebellions, alike fatal to themselves and to the
provinces; ^49 nor could these artificial supplies, however
repeated by succeeding emperors, restore the important limit of
Gaul and Illyricum to its ancient and native vigor.
[Footnote 45: He distributed about fifty or sixty barbarians to a
Numerus, as it was then called, a corps with whose established
number we are not exactly acquainted.]

[Footnote 46: Camden's Britannia, Introduction, p. 136; but he
speaks from a very doubtful conjecture.]

[Footnote 47: Zosimus, l. i. p. 62. According to Vopiscus,
another body of Vandals was less faithful.]
[Footnote 48: Hist. August. p. 240. They were probably expelled
by the Goths. Zosim. l. i. p. 66.]

[Footnote 49: Hist. August. p. 240.]

Of all the barbarians who abandoned their new settlements,
and disturbed the public tranquillity, a very small number
returned to their own country. For a short season they might
wander in arms through the empire; but in the end they were
surely destroyed by the power of a warlike emperor. The
successful rashness of a party of Franks was attended, however,
with such memorable consequences, that it ought not to be passed
unnoticed. They had been established by Probus, on the sea-coast
of Pontus, with a view of strengthening the frontier against the
inroads of the Alani. A fleet stationed in one of the harbors of
the Euxine fell into the hands of the Franks; and they resolved,
through unknown seas, to explore their way from the mouth of the
Phasis to that of the Rhine. They easily escaped through the
Bosphorus and the Hellespont, and cruising along the
Mediterranean, indulged their appetite for revenge and plunder by
frequent descents on the unsuspecting shores of Asia, Greece, and
Africa. The opulent city of Syracuse, in whose port the natives
of Athens and Carthage had formerly been sunk, was sacked by a
handful of barbarians, who massacred the greatest part of the
trembling inhabitants. From the Island of Sicily, the Franks
proceeded to the columns of Hercules, trusted themselves to the
ocean, coasted round Spain and Gaul, and steering their
triumphant course through the British Channel, at length finished
their surprising voyage, by landing in safety on the Batavian or
Frisian shores. ^50 The example of their success, instructing
their countrymen to conceive the advantages and to despise the
dangers of the sea, pointed out to their enterprising spirit a
new road to wealth and glory.

[Footnote 50: Panegyr. Vet. v. 18. Zosimus, l. i. p. 66.]
Notwithstanding the vigilance and activity of Probus, it was
almost impossible that he could at once contain in obedience
every part of his wide- extended dominions. The barbarians, who
broke their chains, had seized the favorable opportunity of a
domestic war. When the emperor marched to the relief of Gaul, he
devolved the command of the East on Saturninus. That general, a
man of merit and experience, was driven into rebellion by the
absence of his sovereign, the levity of the Alexandrian people,
the pressing instances of his friends, and his own fears; but
from the moment of his elevation, he never entertained a hope of
empire, or even of life. "Alas!" he said, "the republic has lost
a useful servant, and the rashness of an hour has destroyed the
services of many years. You know not," continued he, "the misery
of sovereign power; a sword is perpetually suspended over our
head. We dread our very guards, we distrust our companions. The
choice of action or of repose is no longer in our disposition,
nor is there any age, or character, or conduct, that can protect
us from the censure of envy. In thus exalting me to the throne,
you have doomed me to a life of cares, and to an untimely fate.
The only consolation which remains is, the assurance that I shall
not fall alone." ^51 But as the former part of his prediction was
verified by the victory, so the latter was disappointed by the
clemency of Probus. That amiable prince attempted even to save
the unhappy Saturninus from the fury of the soldiers. He had
more than once solicited the usurper himself to place some
confidence in the mercy of a sovereign who so highly esteemed his
character, that he had punished, as a malicious informer, the
first who related the improbable news of his disaffection. ^52
Saturninus might, perhaps, have embraced the generous offer, had
he not been restrained by the obstinate distrust of his
adherents. Their guilt was deeper, and their hopes more
sanguine, than those of their experienced leader.
[Footnote 51: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 245, 246. The
unfortunate orator had studied rhetoric at Carthage; and was
therefore more probably a Moor (Zosim. l. i. p. 60) than a Gaul,
as Vopiscus calls him.]

[Footnote 52: Zonaras, l. xii. p. 638.]

The revolt of Saturninus was scarcely extinguished in the
East, before new troubles were excited in the West, by the
rebellion of Bonosus and Proculus, in Gaul. The most
distinguished merit of those two officers was their respective
prowess, of the one in the combats of Bacchus, of the other in
those of Venus, ^53 yet neither of them was destitute of courage
and capacity, and both sustained, with honor, the august
character which the fear of punishment had engaged them to
assume, till they sunk at length beneath the superior genius of
Probus. He used the victory with his accustomed moderation, and
spared the fortune, as well as the lives of their innocent
families. ^54

[Footnote 53: A very surprising instance is recorded of the
prowess of Procufus. He had taken one hundred Sarmatian virgins.

The rest of the story he must relate in his own language: "Ex his
una necte decem inivi; omnes tamen, quod in me erat, mulieres
intra dies quindecim reddidi. Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 246.]

[Footnote 54: Proculus, who was a native of Albengue, on the
Genoese coast armed two thousand of his own slaves. His riches
were great, but they were acquired by robbery. It was afterwards
a saying of his family, sibi non placere esse vel principes vel
latrones. Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 247.]
The arms of Probus had now suppressed all the foreign and
domestic enemies of the state. His mild but steady
administration confirmed the reestablishment of the public
tranquillity; nor was there left in the provinces a hostile
barbarian, a tyrant, or even a robber, to revive the memory of
past disorders. It was time that the emperor should revisit
Rome, and celebrate his own glory and the general happiness. The
triumph due to the valor of Probus was conducted with a
magnificence suitable to his fortune, and the people who had so
lately admired the trophies of Aurelian, gazed with equal
pleasure on those of his heroic successor. ^55 We cannot, on this
occasion, forget the desperate courage of about fourscore
gladiators, reserved, with near six hundred others, for the
inhuman sports of the amphitheatre. Disdaining to shed their
blood for the amusement of the populace, they killed their
keepers, broke from the place of their confinement, and filled
the streets of Rome with blood and confusion. After an obstinate
resistance, they were overpowered and cut in pieces by the
regular forces; but they obtained at least an honorable death,
and the satisfaction of a just revenge. ^56

[Footnote 55: Hist. August. p. 240.]

[Footnote 56: Zosim. l. i. p. 66.]

The military discipline which reigned in the camps of Probus
was less cruel than that of Aurelian, but it was equally rigid
and exact. The latter had punished the irregularities of the
soldiers with unrelenting severity, the former prevented them by
employing the legions in constant and useful labors. When Probus
commanded in Egypt, he executed many considerable works for the
splendor and benefit of that rich country. The navigation of the
Nile, so important to Rome itself, was improved; and temples,
buildings, porticos, and palaces were constructed by the hands of
the soldiers, who acted by turns as architects, as engineers, and
as husbandmen. ^57 It was reported of Hannibal, that in order to
preserve his troops from the dangerous temptations of idleness,
he had obliged them to form large plantations of olive-trees
along the coast of Africa. ^58 From a similar principle, Probus
exercised his legions in covering with rich vineyards the hills
of Gaul and Pannonia, and two considerable spots are described,
which were entirely dug and planted by military labor. ^59 One of
these, known under the name of Mount Almo, was situated near
Sirmium, the country where Probus was born, for which he ever
retained a partial affection, and whose gratitude he endeavored
to secure, by converting into tillage a large and unhealthy tract
of marshy ground. An army thus employed constituted perhaps the
most useful, as well as the bravest, portion of Roman subjects.

[Footnote 57: Hist. August. p. 236.]

[Footnote 58: Aurel. Victor. in Prob. But the policy of
Hannibal, unnoticed by any more ancient writer, is irreconcilable
with the history of his life. He left Africa when he was nine
years old, returned to it when he was forty- five, and
immediately lost his army in the decisive battle of Zama.
Livilus, xxx. 37.]

[Footnote 59: Hist. August. p. 240. Eutrop. ix. 17. Aurel.
Victor. in Prob. Victor Junior. He revoked the prohibition of
Domitian, and granted a general permission of planting vines to
the Gauls, the Britons, and the Pannonians.]
But in the prosecution of a favorite scheme, the best of
men, satisfied with the rectitude of their intentions, are
subject to forget the bounds of moderation; nor did Probus
himself sufficiently consult the patience and disposition of his
fierce legionaries. ^60 The dangers of the military profession
seem only to be compensated by a life of pleasure and idleness;
but if the duties of the soldier are incessantly aggravated by
the labors of the peasant, he will at last sink under the
intolerable burden, or shake it off with indignation. The
imprudence of Probus is said to have inflamed the discontent of
his troops. More attentive to the interests of mankind than to
those of the army, he expressed the vain hope, that, by the
establishment of universal peace, he should soon abolish the
necessity of a standing and mercenary force. ^61 The unguarded
expression proved fatal to him. In one of the hottest days of
summer, as he severely urged the unwholesome labor of draining
the marshes of Sirmium, the soldiers, impatient of fatigue, on a
sudden threw down their tools, grasped their arms, and broke out
into a furious mutiny. The emperor, conscious of his danger,
took refuge in a lofty tower, constructed for the purpose of
surveying the progress of the work. ^62 The tower was instantly
forced, and a thousand swords were plunged at once into the bosom
of the unfortunate Probus. The rage of the troops subsided as
soon as it had been gratified. They then lamented their fatal
rashness, forgot the severity of the emperor, whom they had
massacred, and hastened to perpetuate, by an honorable monument,
the memory of his virtues and victories. ^63

[Footnote 60: Julian bestows a severe, and indeed excessive,
censure on the rigor of Probus, who, as he thinks, almost
deserved his fate.]
[Footnote 61: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 241. He lavishes on
this idle hope a large stock of very foolish eloquence.]

[Footnote 62: Turris ferrata. It seems to have been a movable
tower, and cased with iron.]

[Footnote 63: Probus, et vere probus situs est; Victor omnium
gentium Barbararum; victor etiam tyrannorum.]

When the legions had indulged their grief and repentance for
the death of Probus, their unanimous consent declared Carus, his
Praetorian praefect, the most deserving of the Imperial throne.
Every circumstance that relates to this prince appears of a mixed
and doubtful nature. He gloried in the title of Roman Citizen;
and affected to compare the purity of his blood with the foreign
and even barbarous origin of the preceding emperors; yet the most
inquisitive of his contemporaries, very far from admitting his
claim, have variously deduced his own birth, or that of his
parents, from Illyricum, from Gaul, or from Africa. ^64 Though a
soldier, he had received a learned education; though a senator,
he was invested with the first dignity of the army; and in an age
when the civil and military professions began to be irrecoverably
separated from each other, they were united in the person of
Carus. Notwithstanding the severe justice which he exercised
against the assassins of Probus, to whose favor and esteem he was
highly indebted, he could not escape the suspicion of being
accessory to a deed from whence he derived the principal
advantage. He enjoyed, at least, before his elevation, an
acknowledged character of virtue and abilities; ^65 but his
austere temper insensibly degenerated into moroseness and
cruelty; and the imperfect writers of his life almost hesitate
whether they shall not rank him in the number of Roman tyrants.
^66 When Carus assumed the purple, he was about sixty years of
age, and his two sons, Carinus and Numerian had already attained
the season of manhood. ^67

[Footnote 64: Yet all this may be conciliated. He was born at
Narbonne in Illyricum, confounded by Eutropius with the more
famous city of that name in Gaul. His father might be an
African, and his mother a noble Roman. Carus himself was
educated in the capital. See Scaliger Animadversion. ad Euseb.
Chron. p. 241.]

[Footnote 65: Probus had requested of the senate an equestrian
statue and a marble palace, at the public expense, as a just
recompense of the singular merit of Carus. Vopiscus in Hist.
August. p. 249.]

[Footnote 66: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 242, 249. Julian
excludes the emperor Carus and both his sons from the banquet of
the Caesars.]
[Footnote 67: John Malala, tom. i. p. 401. But the authority of
that ignorant Greek is very slight. He ridiculously derives from
Carus the city of Carrhae, and the province of Caria, the latter
of which is mentioned by Homer.]

The authority of the senate expired with Probus; nor was the
repentance of the soldiers displayed by the same dutiful regard
for the civil power, which they had testified after the
unfortunate death of Aurelian. The election of Carus was decided
without expecting the approbation of the senate, and the new
emperor contented himself with announcing, in a cold and stately
epistle, that he had ascended the vacant throne. ^68 A behavior
so very opposite to that of his amiable predecessor afforded no
favorable presage of the new reign: and the Romans, deprived of
power and freedom, asserted their privilege of licentious
murmurs. ^69 The voice of congratulation and flattery was not,
however, silent; and we may still peruse, with pleasure and
contempt, an eclogue, which was composed on the accession of the
emperor Carus. Two shepherds, avoiding the noontide heat, retire
into the cave of Faunus. On a spreading beech they discover some
recent characters. The rural deity had described, in prophetic
verses, the felicity promised to the empire under the reign of so
great a prince. Faunus hails the approach of that hero, who,
receiving on his shoulders the sinking weight of the Roman world,
shall extinguish war and faction, and once again restore the
innocence and security of the golden age. ^70

[Footnote 68: Hist. August. p. 249. Carus congratulated the
senate, that one of their own order was made emperor.]

[Footnote 69: Hist. August. p. 242.]

[Footnote 70: See the first eclogue of Calphurnius. The design
of it is preferes by Fontenelle to that of Virgil's Pollio. See
tom. iii. p. 148.]
It is more than probable, that these elegant trifles never
reached the ears of a veteran general, who, with the consent of
the legions, was preparing to execute the long-suspended design
of the Persian war. Before his departure for this distant
expedition, Carus conferred on his two sons, Carinus and
Numerian, the title of Caesar, and investing the former with
almost an equal share of the Imperial power, directed the young
prince, first to suppress some troubles which had arisen in Gaul,
and afterwards to fix the seat of his residence at Rome, and to
assume the government of the Western provinces. ^71 The safety of
Illyricum was confirmed by a memorable defeat of the Sarmatians;
sixteen thousand of those barbarians remained on the field of
battle, and the number of captives amounted to twenty thousand.
The old emperor, animated with the fame and prospect of victory,
pursued his march, in the midst of winter, through the countries
of Thrace and Asia Minor, and at length, with his younger son,
Numerian, arrived on the confines of the Persian monarchy.
There, encamping on the summit of a lofty mountain, he pointed
out to his troops the opulence and luxury of the enemy whom they
were about to invade.

[Footnote 71: Hist. August. p. 353. Eutropius, ix. 18. Pagi.
The successor of Artaxerxes, ^* Varanes, or Bahram, though
he had subdued the Segestans, one of the most warlike nations of
Upper Asia, ^72 was alarmed at the approach of the Romans, and
endeavored to retard their progress by a negotiation of peace. ^!

His ambassadors entered the camp about sunset, at the time when
the troops were satisfying their hunger with a frugal repast. The
Persians expressed their desire of being introduced to the
presence of the Roman emperor. They were at length conducted to
a soldier, who was seated on the grass. A piece of stale bacon
and a few hard peas composed his supper. A coarse woollen
garment of purple was the only circumstance that announced his
dignity. The conference was conducted with the same disregard of
courtly elegance. Carus, taking off a cap which he wore to
conceal his baldness, assured the ambassadors, that, unless their
master acknowledged the superiority of Rome, he would speedily
render Persia as naked of trees as his own head was destitute of
hair. ^73 Notwithstanding some traces of art and preparation, we
may discover in this scene the manners of Carus, and the severe
simplicity which the martial princes, who succeeded Gallienus,
had already restored in the Roman camps. The ministers of the
Great King trembled and retired.

[Footnote *: Three monarchs had intervened, Sapor, (Shahpour,)
Hormisdas, (Hormooz,) Varanes; Baharam the First. - M.]

[Footnote 72: Agathias, l. iv. p. 135. We find one of his
sayings in the Bibliotheque Orientale of M. d'Herbelot. "The
definition of humanity includes all other virtues."]

[Footnote !: The manner in which his life was saved by the Chief
Pontiff from a conspiracy of his nobles, is as remarkable as his
saying. "By the advice (of the Pontiff) all the nobles absented
themselves from court. The king wandered through his palace
alone. He saw no one; all was silence around. He became alarmed
and distressed. At last the Chief Pontiff appeared, and bowed
his head in apparent misery, but spoke not a word. The king
entreated him to declare what had happened. The virtuous man
boldly related all that had passed, and conjured Bahram, in the
name of his glorious ancestors, to change his conduct and save
himself from destruction. The king was much moved, professed
himself most penitent, and said he was resolved his future life
should prove his sincerity. The overjoyed High Priest, delighted
at this success, made a signal, at which all the nobles and
attendants were in an instant, as if by magic, in their usual
places. The monarch now perceived that only one opinion
prevailed on his past conduct. He repeated therefore to his
nobles all he had said to the Chief Pontiff, and his future reign
was unstained by cruelty or oppression." Malcolm's Persia, - M.]
[Footnote 73: Synesius tells this story of Carinus; and it is
much more natural to understand it of Carus, than (as Petavius
and Tillemont choose to do) of Probus.]

The threats of Carus were not without effect. He ravaged
Mesopotamia, cut in pieces whatever opposed his passage, made
himself master of the great cities of Seleucia and Ctesiphon,
(which seemed to have surrendered without resistance,) and
carried his victorious arms beyond the Tigris. ^74 He had seized
the favorable moment for an invasion. The Persian councils were
distracted by domestic factions, and the greater part of their
forces were detained on the frontiers of India. Rome and the
East received with transports the news of such important
advantages. Flattery and hope painted, in the most lively
colors, the fall of Persia, the conquest of Arabia, the
submission of Egypt, and a lasting deliverance from the inroads
of the Scythian nations. ^75 But the reign of Carus was destined
to expose the vanity of predictions. They were scarcely uttered
before they were contradicted by his death; an event attended
with such ambiguous circumstances, that it may be related in a
letter from his own secretary to the praefect of the city.
"Carus," says he, "our dearest emperor, was confined by sickness
to his bed, when a furious tempest arose in the camp. The
darkness which overspread the sky was so thick, that we could no
longer distinguish each other; and the incessant flashes of
lightning took from us the knowledge of all that passed in the
general confusion. Immediately after the most violent clap of
thunder, we heard a sudden cry that the emperor was dead; and it
soon appeared, that his chamberlains, in a rage of grief, had set
fire to the royal pavilion; a circumstance which gave rise to the
report that Carus was killed by lightning. But, as far as we
have been able to investigate the truth, his death was the
natural effect of his disorder." ^76
[Footnote 74: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 250. Eutropius, ix.
18. The two Victors.]

[Footnote 75: To the Persian victory of Carus I refer the
dialogue of the Philopatris, which has so long been an object of
dispute among the learned. But to explain and justify my opinion,
would require a dissertation. ^
Note: Niebuhr, in the new edition of the Byzantine
Historians, (vol. x.) has boldly assigned the Philopatris to the
tenth century, and to the reign of Nicephorus Phocas. An opinion
so decisively pronounced by Niebuhr and favorably received by
Hase, the learned editor of Leo Diaconus, commands respectful
consideration. But the whole tone of the work appears to me
altogether inconsistent with any period in which philosophy did
not stand, as it were, on some ground of equality with
Christianity. The doctrine of the Trinity is sarcastically
introduced rather as the strange doctrine of a new religion, than
the established tenet of a faith universally prevalent. The
argument, adopted from Solanus, concerning the formula of the
procession of the Holy Ghost, is utterly worthless, as it is a
mere quotation in the words of the Gospel of St. John, xv. 26.
The only argument of any value is the historic one, from the
allusion to the recent violation of many virgins in the Island of
Crete. But neither is the language of Niebuhr quite accurate,
nor his reference to the Acroases of Theodosius satisfactory.
When, then, could this occurrence take place? Why not in the
devastation of the island by the Gothic pirates, during the reign
of Claudius. Hist. Aug. in Claud. p. 814. edit. Var. Lugd. Bat
1661. - M.]

[Footnote 76: Hist. August. p. 250. Yet Eutropius, Festus,
Rufus, the two Victors, Jerome, Sidonius Apollinaris, Syncellus,
and Zonaras, all ascribe the death of Carus to lightning.]

Chapter XII: Reigns Of Tacitus, Probus, Carus And His Sons.

Part III.

The vacancy of the throne was not productive of any
disturbance. The ambition of the aspiring generals was checked
by their natural fears, and young Numerian, with his absent
brother Carinus, were unanimously acknowledged as Roman emperors.

The public expected that the successor of Carus would pursue his
father's footsteps, and, without allowing the Persians to recover
from their consternation, would advance sword in hand to the
palaces of Susa and Ecbatana. ^77 But the legions, however strong
in numbers and discipline, were dismayed by the most abject
superstition. Notwithstanding all the arts that were practised to
disguise the manner of the late emperor's death, it was found
impossible to remove the opinion of the multitude, and the power
of opinion is irresistible. Places or persons struck with
lightning were considered by the ancients with pious horror, as
singularly devoted to the wrath of Heaven. ^78 An oracle was
remembered, which marked the River Tigris as the fatal boundary
of the Roman arms. The troops, terrified with the fate of Carus
and with their own danger, called aloud on young Numerian to obey
the will of the gods, and to lead them away from this
inauspicious scene of war. The feeble emperor was unable to
subdue their obstinate prejudice, and the Persians wondered at
the unexpected retreat of a victorious enemy. ^79
[Footnote 77: See Nemesian. Cynegeticon, v. 71, &c.]

[Footnote 78: See Festus and his commentators on the word
Scribonianum. Places struck by lightning were surrounded with a
wall; things were buried with mysterious ceremony.]

[Footnote 79: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 250. Aurelius Victor
seems to believe the prediction, and to approve the retreat.]

The intelligence of the mysterious fate of the late emperor
was soon carried from the frontiers of Persia to Rome; and the
senate, as well as the provinces, congratulated the accession of
the sons of Carus. These fortunate youths were strangers,
however, to that conscious superiority, either of birth or of
merit, which can alone render the possession of a throne easy,
and as it were natural. Born and educated in a private station,
the election of their father raised them at once to the rank of
princes; and his death, which happened about sixteen months
afterwards, left them the unexpected legacy of a vast empire. To
sustain with temper this rapid elevation, an uncommon share of
virtue and prudence was requisite; and Carinus, the elder of the
brothers, was more than commonly deficient in those qualities.
In the Gallic war he discovered some degree of personal courage;
^80 but from the moment of his arrival at Rome, he abandoned
himself to the luxury of the capital, and to the abuse of his
fortune. He was soft, yet cruel; devoted to pleasure, but
destitute of taste; and though exquisitely susceptible of vanity,
indifferent to the public esteem. In the course of a few months,
he successively married and divorced nine wives, most of whom he
left pregnant; and notwithstanding this legal inconstancy, found
time to indulge such a variety of irregular appetites, as brought
dishonor on himself and on the noblest houses of Rome. He beheld
with inveterate hatred all those who might remember his former
obscurity, or censure his present conduct. He banished, or put
to death, the friends and counsellors whom his father had placed
about him, to guide his inexperienced youth; and he persecuted
with the meanest revenge his school-fellows and companions who
had not sufficiently respected the latent majesty of the emperor.

With the senators, Carinus affected a lofty and regal demeanor,
frequently declaring, that he designed to distribute their
estates among the populace of Rome. From the dregs of that
populace he selected his favorites, and even his ministers. The
palace, and even the Imperial table, were filled with singers,
dancers, prostitutes, and all the various retinue of vice and
folly. One of his doorkeepers ^81 he intrusted with the
government of the city. In the room of the Praetorian praefect,
whom he put to death, Carinus substituted one of the ministers of
his looser pleasures. Another, who possessed the same, or even a
more infamous, title to favor, was invested with the consulship.
A confidential secretary, who had acquired uncommon skill in the
art of forgery, delivered the indolent emperor, with his own
consent from the irksome duty of signing his name.

[Footnote 80: Nemesian. Cynegeticon, v 69. He was a
contemporary, but a poet.]

[Footnote 81: Cancellarius. This word, so humble in its origin,
has, by a singular fortune, risen into the title of the first
great office of state in the monarchies of Europe. See Casaubon
and Salmasius, ad Hist. August, p. 253.]

When the emperor Carus undertook the Persian war, he was
induced, by motives of affection as well as policy, to secure the
fortunes of his family, by leaving in the hands of his eldest son
the armies and provinces of the West. The intelligence which he
soon received of the conduct of Carinus filled him with shame and
regret; nor had he concealed his resolution of satisfying the
republic by a severe act of justice, and of adopting, in the
place of an unworthy son, the brave and virtuous Constantius, who
at that time was governor of Dalmatia. But the elevation of
Constantius was for a while deferred; and as soon as the father's
death had released Carinus from the control of fear or decency,
he displayed to the Romans the extravagancies of Elagabalus,
aggravated by the cruelty of Domitian. ^82

[Footnote 82: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 253, 254. Eutropius,
x. 19. Vic to Junior. The reign of Diocletian indeed was so
long and prosperous, that it must have been very unfavorable to
the reputation of Carinus.]
The only merit of the administration of Carinus that history
could record, or poetry celebrate, was the uncommon splendor with
which, in his own and his brother's name, he exhibited the Roman
games of the theatre, the circus, and the amphitheatre. More
than twenty years afterwards, when the courtiers of Diocletian
represented to their frugal sovereign the fame and popularity of
his munificent predecessor, he acknowledged that the reign of
Carinus had indeed been a reign of pleasure. ^83 But this vain
prodigality, which the prudence of Diocletian might justly
despise, was enjoyed with surprise and transport by the Roman
people. The oldest of the citizens, recollecting the spectacles
of former days, the triumphal pomp of Probus or Aurelian, and the
secular games of the emperor Philip, acknowledged that they were
all surpassed by the superior magnificence of Carinus. ^84
[Footnote 83: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 254. He calls him
Carus, but the sense is sufficiently obvious, and the words were
often confounded.]
[Footnote 84: See Calphurnius, Eclog. vii. 43. We may observe,
that the spectacles of Probus were still recent, and that the
poet is seconded by the historian.]

The spectacles of Carinus may therefore be best illustrated
by the observation of some particulars, which history has
condescended to relate concerning those of his predecessors. If
we confine ourselves solely to the hunting of wild beasts,
however we may censure the vanity of the design or the cruelty of
the execution, we are obliged to confess that neither before nor
since the time of the Romans so much art and expense have ever
been lavished for the amusement of the people. ^85 By the order
of Probus, a great quantity of large trees, torn up by the roots,
were transplanted into the midst of the circus. The spacious and
shady forest was immediately filled with a thousand ostriches, a
thousand stags, a thousand fallow deer, and a thousand wild
boars; and all this variety of game was abandoned to the riotous
impetuosity of the multitude. The tragedy of the succeeding day
consisted in the massacre of a hundred lions, an equal number of
lionesses, two hundred leopards, and three hundred bears. ^86 The
collection prepared by the younger Gordian for his triumph, and
which his successor exhibited in the secular games, was less
remarkable by the number than by the singularity of the animals.
Twenty zebras displayed their elegant forms and variegated beauty
to the eyes of the Roman people. ^87 Ten elks, and as many
camelopards, the loftiest and most harmless creatures that wander
over the plains of Sarmatia and Aethiopia, were contrasted with
thirty African hyaenas and ten Indian tigers, the most implacable
savages of the torrid zone. The unoffending strength with which
Nature has endowed the greater quadrupeds was admired in the
rhinoceros, the hippopotamus of the Nile, ^88 and a majestic
troop of thirty-two elephants. ^89 While the populace gazed with
stupid wonder on the splendid show, the naturalist might indeed
observe the figure and properties of so many different species,
transported from every part of the ancient world into the
amphitheatre of Rome. But this accidental benefit, which science
might derive from folly, is surely insufficient to justify such a
wanton abuse of the public riches. There occurs, however, a
single instance in the first Punic war, in which the senate
wisely connected this amusement of the multitude with the
interest of the state. A considerable number of elephants, taken
in the defeat of the Carthaginian army, were driven through the
circus by a few slaves, armed only with blunt javelins. ^90 The
useful spectacle served to impress the Roman soldier with a just
contempt for those unwieldy animals; and he no longer dreaded to
encounter them in the ranks of war.

[Footnote 85: The philosopher Montaigne (Essais, l. iii. 6) gives
a very just and lively view of Roman magnificence in these
[Footnote 86: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 240.]

[Footnote 87: They are called Onagri; but the number is too
inconsiderable for mere wild asses. Cuper (de Elephantis
Exercitat. ii. 7) has proved from Oppian, Dion, and an anonymous
Greek, that zebras had been seen at Rome. They were brought from
some island of the ocean, perhaps Madagascar.]
[Footnote 88: Carinus gave a hippopotamus, (see Calphurn. Eclog.
vi. 66.) In the latter spectacles, I do not recollect any
crocodiles, of which Augustus once exhibited thirty-six. Dion
Cassius, l. lv. p. 781.]

[Footnote 89: Capitolin. in Hist. August. p. 164, 165. We are
not acquainted with the animals which he calls archeleontes; some
read argoleontes others agrioleontes: both corrections are very

[Footnote 90: Plin. Hist. Natur. viii. 6, from the annals of
The hunting or exhibition of wild beasts was conducted with
a magnificence suitable to a people who styled themselves the
masters of the world; nor was the edifice appropriated to that
entertainment less expressive of Roman greatness. Posterity
admires, and will long admire, the awful remains of the
amphitheatre of Titus, which so well deserved the epithet of
Colossal. ^91 It was a building of an elliptic figure, five
hundred and sixty-four feet in length, and four hundred and
sixty-seven in breadth, founded on fourscore arches, and rising,
with four successive orders of architecture, to the height of one
hundred and forty feet. ^92 The outside of the edifice was
encrusted with marble, and decorated with statues. The slopes of
the vast concave, which formed the inside, were filled and
surrounded with sixty or eighty rows of seats of marble likewise,
covered with cushions, and capable of receiving with ease about
fourscore thousand spectators. ^93 Sixty-four vomitories (for by
that name the doors were very aptly distinguished) poured forth
the immense multitude; and the entrances, passages, and
staircases were contrived with such exquisite skill, that each
person, whether of the senatorial, the equestrian, or the
plebeian order, arrived at his destined place without trouble or
confusion. ^94 Nothing was omitted, which, in any respect, could
be subservient to the convenience and pleasure of the spectators.

They were protected from the sun and rain by an ample canopy,
occasionally drawn over their heads. The air was continally
refreshed by the playing of fountains, and profusely impregnated
by the grateful scent of aromatics. In the centre of the
edifice, the arena, or stage, was strewed with the finest sand,
and successively assumed the most different forms. At one moment
it seemed to rise out of the earth, like the garden of the
Hesperides, and was afterwards broken into the rocks and caverns
of Thrace. The subterraneous pipes conveyed an inexhaustible
supply of water; and what had just before appeared a level plain,
might be suddenly converted into a wide lake, covered with armed
vessels, and replenished with the monsters of the deep. ^95 In
the decoration of these scenes, the Roman emperors displayed
their wealth and liberality; and we read on various occasions
that the whole furniture of the amphitheatre consisted either of
silver, or of gold, or of amber. ^96 The poet who describes the
games of Carinus, in the character of a shepherd, attracted to
the capital by the fame of their magnificence, affirms that the
nets designed as a defence against the wild beasts, were of gold
wire; that the porticos were gilded; and that the belt or circle
which divided the several ranks of spectators from each other was
studded with a precious mosaic of beautiful stones. ^97
[Footnote 91: See Maffei, Verona Illustrata, p. iv. l. i. c. 2.]
[Footnote 92: Maffei, l. ii. c. 2. The height was very much
exaggerated by the ancients. It reached almost to the heavens,
according to Calphurnius, (Eclog. vii. 23,) and surpassed the ken
of human sight, according to Ammianus Marcellinus (xvi. 10.) Yet
how trifling to the great pyramid of Egypt, which rises 500 feet

[Footnote 93: According to different copies of Victor, we read
77,000, or 87,000 spectators; but Maffei (l. ii. c. 12) finds
room on the open seats for no more than 34,000. The remainder
were contained in the upper covered galleries.]

[Footnote 94: See Maffei, l. ii. c. 5 - 12. He treats the very
difficult subject with all possible clearness, and like an
architect, as well as an antiquarian.]

[Footnote 95: Calphurn. Eclog vii. 64, 73. These lines are
curious, and the whole eclogue has been of infinite use to
Maffei. Calphurnius, as well as Martial, (see his first book,)
was a poet; but when they described the amphitheatre, they both
wrote from their own senses, and to those of the Romans.]

[Footnote 96: Consult Plin. Hist. Natur. xxxiii. 16, xxxvii. 11.]

[Footnote 97: Balteus en gemmis, en inlita porticus auro
Certatim radiant, &c. Calphurn. vii.]

In the midst of this glittering pageantry, the emperor
Carinus, secure of his fortune, enjoyed the acclamations of the
people, the flattery of his courtiers, and the songs of the
poets, who, for want of a more essential merit, were reduced to
celebrate the divine graces of his person. ^98 In the same hour,
but at the distance of nine hundred miles from Rome, his brother
expired; and a sudden revolution transferred into the hands of a
stranger the sceptre of the house of Carus. ^99

[Footnote 98: Et Martis vultus et Apollinis esse putavi, says
Calphurnius; but John Malala, who had perhaps seen pictures of
Carinus, describes him as thick, short, and white, tom. i. p.

[Footnote 99: With regard to the time when these Roman games were
celebrated, Scaliger, Salmasius, and Cuper have given themselves
a great deal of trouble to perplex a very clear subject.]

The sons of Carus never saw each other after their father's
death. The arrangements which their new situation required were
probably deferred till the return of the younger brother to Rome,
where a triumph was decreed to the young emperors for the
glorious success of the Persian war. ^100 It is uncertain whether
they intended to divide between them the administration, or the
provinces, of the empire; but it is very unlikely that their
union would have proved of any long duration. The jealousy of
power must have been inflamed by the opposition of characters.
In the most corrupt of times, Carinus was unworthy to live:
Numerian deserved to reign in a happier period. His affable
manners and gentle virtues secured him, as soon as they became
known, the regard and affections of the public. He possessed the
elegant accomplishments of a poet and orator, which dignify as
well as adorn the humblest and the most exalted station. His
eloquence, however it was applauded by the senate, was formed not
so much on the model of Cicero, as on that of the modern
declaimers; but in an age very far from being destitute of
poetical merit, he contended for the prize with the most
celebrated of his contemporaries, and still remained the friend
of his rivals; a circumstance which evinces either the goodness
of his heart, or the superiority of his genius. ^101 But the
talents of Numerian were rather of the contemplative than of the
active kind. When his father's elevation reluctantly forced him
from the shade of retirement, neither his temper nor his pursuits
had qualified him for the command of armies. His constitution
was destroyed by the hardships of the Persian war; and he had
contracted, from the heat of the climate, ^102 such a weakness in
his eyes, as obliged him, in the course of a long retreat, to
confine himself to the solitude and darkness of a tent or litter.

The administration of all affairs, civil as well as military, was
devolved on Arrius Aper, the Praetorian praefect, who to the
power of his important office added the honor of being
father-in-law to Numerian. The Imperial pavilion was strictly
guarded by his most trusty adherents; and during many days, Aper
delivered to the army the supposed mandates of their invisible
sovereign. ^103

[Footnote 100: Nemesianus (in the Cynegeticon) seems to
anticipate in his fancy that auspicious day.]

[Footnote 101: He won all the crowns from Nemesianus, with whom
he vied in didactic poetry. The senate erected a statue to the
son of Carus, with a very ambiguous inscription, "To the most
powerful of orators." See Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 251.]

[Footnote 102: A more natural cause, at least, than that assigned
by Vopiscus, (Hist. August. p. 251,) incessantly weeping for his
father's death.]

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