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

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[Footnote 103: In the Persian war, Aper was suspected of a design
to betray Carus. Hist. August. p. 250.]

It was not till eight months after the death of Carus, that
the Roman army, returning by slow marches from the banks of the
Tigris, arrived on those of the Thracian Bosphorus. The legions
halted at Chalcedon in Asia, while the court passed over to
Heraclea, on the European side of the Propontis. ^104 But a
report soon circulated through the camp, at first in secret
whispers, and at length in loud clamors, of the emperor's death,
and of the presumption of his ambitious minister, who still
exercised the sovereign power in the name of a prince who was no
more. The impatience of the soldiers could not long support a
state of suspense. With rude curiosity they broke into the
Imperial tent, and discovered only the corpse of Numerian. ^105
The gradual decline of his health might have induced them to
believe that his death was natural; but the concealment was
interpreted as an evidence of guilt, and the measures which Aper
had taken to secure his election became the immediate occasion of
his ruin Yet, even in the transport of their rage and grief, the
troops observed a regular proceeding, which proves how firmly
discipline had been reestablished by the martial successors of
Gallienus. A general assembly of the army was appointed to be
held at Chalcedon, whither Aper was transported in chains, as a
prisoner and a criminal. A vacant tribunal was erected in the
midst of the camp, and the generals and tribunes formed a great
military council. They soon announced to the multitude that
their choice had fallen on Diocletian, commander of the domestics
or body-guards, as the person the most capable of revenging and
succeeding their beloved emperor. The future fortunes of the
candidate depended on the chance or conduct of the present hour.
Conscious that the station which he had filled exposed him to
some suspicions, Diocletian ascended the tribunal, and raising
his eyes towards the Sun, made a solemn profession of his own
innocence, in the presence of that all-seeing Deity. ^106 Then,
assuming the tone of a sovereign and a judge, he commanded that
Aper should be brought in chains to the foot of the tribunal.
"This man," said he, "is the murderer of Numerian;" and without
giving him time to enter on a dangerous justification, drew his
sword, and buried it in the breast of the unfortunate praefect.
A charge supported by such decisive proof was admitted without
contradiction, and the legions, with repeated acclamations,
acknowledged the justice and authority of the emperor Diocletian.
^107 [Footnote 104: We are obliged to the Alexandrian Chronicle,
p. 274, for the knowledge of the time and place where Diocletian
was elected emperor.]
[Footnote 105: Hist. August. p. 251. Eutrop. ix. 88. Hieronym.
in Chron. According to these judicious writers, the death of
Numerian was discovered by the stench of his dead body. Could no
aromatics be found in the Imperial household?]

[Footnote 106: Aurel. Victor. Eutropius, ix. 20. Hieronym. in
[Footnote 107: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 252. The reason why
Diocletian killed Aper, (a wild boar,) was founded on a prophecy
and a pun, as foolish as they are well known.]

Before we enter upon the memorable reign of that prince, it
will be proper to punish and dismiss the unworthy brother of
Numerian. Carinus possessed arms and treasures sufficient to
support his legal title to the empire. But his personal vices
overbalanced every advantage of birth and situation. The most
faithful servants of the father despised the incapacity, and
dreaded the cruel arrogance, of the son. The hearts of the
people were engaged in favor of his rival, and even the senate
was inclined to prefer a usurper to a tyrant. The arts of
Diocletian inflamed the general discontent; and the winter was
employed in secret intrigues, and open preparations for a civil
war. In the spring, the forces of the East and of the West
encountered each other in the plains of Margus, a small city of
Maesia, in the neighborhood of the Danube. ^108 The troops, so
lately returned from the Persian war, had acquired their glory at
the expense of health and numbers; nor were they in a condition
to contend with the unexhausted strength of the legions of
Europe. Their ranks were broken, and, for a moment, Diocletian
despaired of the purple and of life. But the advantage which
Carinus had obtained by the valor of his soldiers, he quickly
lost by the infidelity of his officers. A tribune, whose wife he
had seduced, seized the opportunity of revenge, and, by a single
blow, extinguished civil discord in the blood of the adulterer.

[Footnote 108: Eutropius marks its situation very accurately; it
was between the Mons Aureus and Viminiacum. M. d'Anville
(Geographic Ancienne, tom. i. p. 304) places Margus at Kastolatz
in Servia, a little below Belgrade and Semendria.

Not: Kullieza - Eton Atlas - M.]

[Footnote 109: Hist. August. p. 254. Eutropius, ix. 20.
Aurelius Victor et Epitome]

Chapter XIII: Reign Of Diocletian And This Three Associates.

Part I.

The Reign Of Diocletian And His Three Associates, Maximian,
Galerius, And Constantius. - General Reestablishment Of Order And
Tranquillity. - The Persian War, Victory, And Triumph. - The New
Form Of Administration. - Abdication And Retirement Of Diocletian
And Maximian.

As the reign of Diocletian was more illustrious than that of
any of his predecessors, so was his birth more abject and
obscure. The strong claims of merit and of violence had
frequently superseded the ideal prerogatives of nobility; but a
distinct line of separation was hitherto preserved between the
free and the servile part of mankind. The parents of Diocletian
had been slaves in the house of Anulinus, a Roman senator; nor
was he himself distinguished by any other name than that which he
derived from a small town in Dalmatia, from whence his mother
deduced her origin. ^1 It is, however, probable that his father
obtained the freedom of the family, and that he soon acquired an
office of scribe, which was commonly exercised by persons of his
condition. ^2 Favorable oracles, or rather the consciousness of
superior merit, prompted his aspiring son to pursue the
profession of arms and the hopes of fortune; and it would be
extremely curious to observe the gradation of arts and accidents
which enabled him in the end to fulfil those oracles, and to
display that merit to the world. Diocletian was successively
promoted to the government of Maesia, the honors of the
consulship, and the important command of the guards of the
palace. He distinguished his abilities in the Persian war; and
after the death of Numerian, the slave, by the confession and
judgment of his rivals, was declared the most worthy of the
Imperial throne. The malice of religious zeal, whilst it
arraigns the savage fierceness of his colleague Maximian, has
affected to cast suspicions on the personal courage of the
emperor Diocletian. ^3 It would not be easy to persuade us of the
cowardice of a soldier of fortune, who acquired and preserved the
esteem of the legions as well as the favor of so many warlike
princes. Yet even calumny is sagacious enough to discover and to
attack the most vulnerable part. The valor of Diocletian was
never found inadequate to his duty, or to the occasion; but he
appears not to have possessed the daring and generous spirit of a
hero, who courts danger and fame, disdains artifice, and boldly
challenges the allegiance of his equals. His abilities were
useful rather than splendid; a vigorous mind, improved by the
experience and study of mankind; dexterity and application in
business; a judicious mixture of liberality and economy, of
mildness and rigor; profound dissimulation, under the disguise of
military frankness; steadiness to pursue his ends; flexibility to
vary his means; and, above all, the great art of submitting his
own passions, as well as those of others, to the interest of his
ambition, and of coloring his ambition with the most specious
pretences of justice and public utility. Like Augustus,
Diocletian may be considered as the founder of a new empire.
Like the adopted son of Caesar, he was distinguished as a
statesman rather than as a warrior; nor did either of those
princes employ force, whenever their purpose could be effected by

[Footnote 1: Eutrop. ix. 19. Victor in Epitome. The town seems
to have been properly called Doclia, from a small tribe of
Illyrians, (see Cellarius, Geograph. Antiqua, tom. i. p. 393;)
and the original name of the fortunate slave was probably Docles;
he first lengthened it to the Grecian harmony of Diocles, and at
length to the Roman majesty of Diocletianus. He likewise assumed
the Patrician name of Valerius and it is usually given him by
Aurelius Victor.]

[Footnote 2: See Dacier on the sixth satire of the second book of
Horace Cornel. Nepos, 'n Vit. Eumen. c. l.]

[Footnote 3: Lactantius (or whoever was the author of the little
treatise De Mortibus Persecutorum) accuses Diocletian of timidity
in two places, c. 7. 8. In chap. 9 he says of him, "erat in omni
tumultu meticulosu et animi disjectus."]

The victory of Diocletian was remarkable for its singular
mildness. A people accustomed to applaud the clemency of the
conqueror, if the usual punishments of death, exile, and
confiscation, were inflicted with any degree of temper and
equity, beheld, with the most pleasing astonishment, a civil war,
the flames of which were extinguished in the field of battle.
Diocletian received into his confidence Aristobulus, the
principal minister of the house of Carus, respected the lives,
the fortunes, and the dignity, of his adversaries, and even
continued in their respective stations the greater number of the
servants of Carinus. ^4 It is not improbable that motives of
prudence might assist the humanity of the artful Dalmatian; of
these servants, many had purchased his favor by secret treachery;
in others, he esteemed their grateful fidelity to an unfortunate
master. The discerning judgment of Aurelian, of Probus, and of
Carus, had filled the several departments of the state and army
with officers of approved merit, whose removal would have injured
the public service, without promoting the interest of his
successor. Such a conduct, however, displayed to the Roman world
the fairest prospect of the new reign, and the emperor affected
to confirm this favorable prepossession, by declaring, that,
among all the virtues of his predecessors, he was the most
ambitious of imitating the humane philosophy of Marcus Antoninus.

[Footnote 4: In this encomium, Aurelius Victor seems to convey a
just, though indirect, censure of the cruelty of Constantius. It
appears from the Fasti, that Aristobulus remained praefect of the
city, and that he ended with Diocletian the consulship which he
had commenced with Carinus.]
[Footnote 5: Aurelius Victor styles Diocletian, "Parentum potius
quam Dominum." See Hist. August. p. 30.]

The first considerable action of his reign seemed to evince
his sincerity as well as his moderation. After the example of
Marcus, he gave himself a colleague in the person of Maximian, on
whom he bestowed at first the title of Caesar, and afterwards
that of Augustus. ^6 But the motives of his conduct, as well as
the object of his choice, were of a very different nature from
those of his admired predecessor. By investing a luxurious youth
with the honors of the purple, Marcus had discharged a debt of
private gratitude, at the expense, indeed, of the happiness of
the state. By associating a friend and a fellow-soldier to the
labors of government, Diocletian, in a time of public danger,
provided for the defence both of the East and of the West.
Maximian was born a peasant, and, like Aurelian, in the territory
of Sirmium. Ignorant of letters, ^7 careless of laws, the
rusticity of his appearance and manners still betrayed in the
most elevated fortune the meanness of his extraction. War was
the only art which he professed. In a long course of service, he
had distinguished himself on every frontier of the empire; and
though his military talents were formed to obey rather than to
command, though, perhaps, he never attained the skill of a
consummate general, he was capable, by his valor, constancy, and
experience, of executing the most arduous undertakings. Nor were
the vices of Maximian less useful to his benefactor. Insensible
to pity, and fearless of consequences, he was the ready
instrument of every act of cruelty which the policy of that
artful prince might at once suggest and disclaim. As soon as a
bloody sacrifice had been offered to prudence or to revenge,
Diocletian, by his seasonable intercession, saved the remaining
few whom he had never designed to punish, gently censured the
severity of his stern colleague, and enjoyed the comparison of a
golden and an iron age, which was universally applied to their
opposite maxims of government. Notwithstanding the difference of
their characters, the two emperors maintained, on the throne,
that friendship which they had contracted in a private station.
The haughty, turbulent spirit of Maximian, so fatal, afterwards,
to himself and to the public peace, was accustomed to respect the
genius of Diocletian, and confessed the ascendant of reason over
brutal violence. ^8 From a motive either of pride or
superstition, the two emperors assumed the titles, the one of
Jovius, the other of Herculius. Whilst the motion of the world
(such was the language of their venal orators) was maintained by
the all-seeing wisdom of Jupiter, the invincible arm of Hercules
purged the earth from monsters and tyrants. ^9

[Footnote 6: The question of the time when Maximian received the
honors of Caesar and Augustus has divided modern critics, and
given occasion to a great deal of learned wrangling. I have
followed M. de Tillemont, (Histoire des Empereurs, tom. iv. p.
500-505,) who has weighed the several reasons and difficulties
with his scrupulous accuracy.

Note: Eckbel concurs in this view, viii p. 15. - M.]

[Footnote 7: In an oration delivered before him, (Panegyr. Vet.
ii. 8,) Mamertinus expresses a doubt, whether his hero, in
imitating the conduct of Hannibal and Scipio, had ever heard of
their names. From thence we may fairly infer, that Maximian was
more desirous of being considered as a soldier than as a man of
letters; and it is in this manner that we can often translate the
language of flattery into that of truth.]

[Footnote 8: Lactantius de M. P. c. 8. Aurelius Victor. As
among the Panegyrics, we find orations pronounced in praise of
Maximian, and others which flatter his adversaries at his
expense, we derive some knowledge from the contrast.]

[Footnote 9: See the second and third Panegyrics, particularly
iii. 3, 10, 14 but it would be tedious to copy the diffuse and
affected expressions of their false eloquence. With regard to
the titles, consult Aurel. Victor Lactantius de M. P. c. 52.
Spanheim de Usu Numismatum, &c. xii 8.]

But even the omnipotence of Jovius and Herculius was
insufficient to sustain the weight of the public administration.
The prudence of Diocletian discovered that the empire, assailed
on every side by the barbarians, required on every side the
presence of a great army, and of an emperor. With this view, he
resolved once more to divide his unwieldy power, and with the
inferior title of Caesars, ^* to confer on two generals of
approved merit an unequal share of the sovereign authority. ^10
Galerius, surnamed Armentarius, from his original profession of a
herdsman, and Constantius, who from his pale complexion had
acquired the denomination of Chlorus, ^11 were the two persons
invested with the second honors of the Imperial purple. In
describing the country, extraction, and manners of Herculius, we
have already delineated those of Galerius, who was often, and not
improperly, styled the younger Maximian, though, in many
instances both of virtue and ability, he appears to have
possessed a manifest superiority over the elder. The birth of
Constantius was less obscure than that of his colleagues.
Eutropius, his father, was one of the most considerable nobles of
Dardania, and his mother was the niece of the emperor Claudius.
^12 Although the youth of Constantius had been spent in arms, he
was endowed with a mild and amiable disposition, and the popular
voice had long since acknowledged him worthy of the rank which he
at last attained. To strengthen the bonds of political, by those
of domestic, union, each of the emperors assumed the character of
a father to one of the Caesars, Diocletian to Galerius, and
Maximian to Constantius; and each, obliging them to repudiate
their former wives, bestowed his daughter in marriage or his
adopted son. ^13 These four princes distributed among themselves
the wide extent of the Roman empire. The defence of Gaul, Spain,
^14 and Britain, was intrusted to Constantius: Galerius was
stationed on the banks of the Danube, as the safeguard of the
Illyrian provinces. Italy and Africa were considered as the
department of Maximian; and for his peculiar portion, Diocletian
reserved Thrace, Egypt, and the rich countries of Asia. Every one
was sovereign with his own jurisdiction; but their united
authority extended over the whole monarchy, and each of them was
prepared to assist his colleagues with his counsels or presence.
The Caesars, in their exalted rank, revered the majesty of the
emperors, and the three younger princes invariably acknowledged,
by their gratitude and obedience, the common parent of their
fortunes. The suspicious jealousy of power found not any place
among them; and the singular happiness of their union has been
compared to a chorus of music, whose harmony was regulated and
maintained by the skilful hand of the first artist. ^15

[Footnote *: On the relative power of the Augusti and the
Caesars, consult a dissertation at the end of Manso's Leben
Constantius des Grossen - M.]
[Footnote 10: Aurelius Victor. Victor in Epitome. Eutrop. ix.
22. Lactant de M. P. c. 8. Hieronym. in Chron.]

[Footnote 11: It is only among the modern Greeks that Tillemont
can discover his appellation of Chlorus. Any remarkable degree
of paleness seems inconsistent with the rubor mentioned in
Panegyric, v. 19.]
[Footnote 12: Julian, the grandson of Constantius, boasts that
his family was derived from the warlike Maesians. Misopogon, p.
348. The Dardanians dwelt on the edge of Maesia.]

[Footnote 13: Galerius married Valeria, the daughter of
Diocletian; if we speak with strictness, Theodora, the wife of
Constantius, was daughter only to the wife of Maximian.
Spanheim, Dissertat, xi. 2.]

[Footnote 14: This division agrees with that of the four
praefectures; yet there is some reason to doubt whether Spain was
not a province of Maximian. See Tillemont, tom. iv. p. 517.

Note: According to Aurelius Victor and other authorities,
Thrace belonged to the division of Galerius. See Tillemont, iv.
36. But the laws of Diocletian are in general dated in Illyria
or Thrace. - M.]
[Footnote 15: Julian in Caesarib. p. 315. Spanheim's notes to
the French translation, p. 122.]

This important measure was not carried into execution till
about six years after the association of Maximian, and that
interval of time had not been destitute of memorable incidents.
But we have preferred, for the sake of perspicuity, first to
describe the more perfect form of Diocletian's government, and
afterwards to relate the actions of his reign, following rather
the natural order of the events, than the dates of a very
doubtful chronology.

The first exploit of Maximian, though it is mentioned in a
few words by our imperfect writers, deserves, from its
singularity, to be recorded in a history of human manners. He
suppressed the peasants of Gaul, who, under the appellation of
Bagaudae, ^16 had risen in a general insurrection; very similar
to those which in the fourteenth century successively afflicted
both France and England. ^17 It should seem that very many of
those institutions, referred by an easy solution to the feudal
system, are derived from the Celtic barbarians. When Caesar
subdued the Gauls, that great nation was already divided into
three orders of men; the clergy, the nobility, and the common
people. The first governed by superstition, the second by arms,
but the third and last was not of any weight or account in their
public councils. It was very natural for the plebeians, oppressed
by debt, or apprehensive of injuries, to implore the protection
of some powerful chief, who acquired over their persons and
property the same absolute right as, among the Greeks and Romans,
a master exercised over his slaves. ^18 The greatest part of the
nation was gradually reduced into a state of servitude; compelled
to perpetual labor on the estates of the Gallic nobles, and
confined to the soil, either by the real weight of fetters, or by
the no less cruel and forcible restraints of the laws. During
the long series of troubles which agitated Gaul, from the reign
of Gallienus to that of Diocletian, the condition of these
servile peasants was peculiarly miserable; and they experienced
at once the complicated tyranny of their masters, of the
barbarians, of the soldiers, and of the officers of the revenue.
[Footnote 16: The general name of Bagaudoe (in the signification
of rebels) continued till the fifth century in Gaul. Some
critics derive it from a Celtic word Bagad, a tumultuous
assembly. Scaliger ad Euseb. Du Cange Glossar. (Compare S.
Turner, Anglo-Sax. History, i. 214. - M.)]
[Footnote 17: Chronique de Froissart, vol. i. c. 182, ii. 73, 79.

The naivete of his story is lost in our best modern writers.]

[Footnote 18: Caesar de Bell. Gallic. vi. 13. Orgetorix, the
Helvetian, could arm for his defence a body of ten thousand

[Footnote 19: Their oppression and misery are acknowledged by
Eumenius (Panegyr. vi. 8,) Gallias efferatas injuriis.]

Their patience was at last provoked into despair. On every
side they rose in multitudes, armed with rustic weapons, and with
irresistible fury. The ploughman became a foot soldier, the
shepherd mounted on horseback, the deserted villages and open
towns were abandoned to the flames, and the ravages of the
peasants equalled those of the fiercest barbarians. ^20 They
asserted the natural rights of men, but they asserted those
rights with the most savage cruelty. The Gallic nobles, justly
dreading their revenge, either took refuge in the fortified
cities, or fled from the wild scene of anarchy. The peasants
reigned without control; and two of their most daring leaders had
the folly and rashness to assume the Imperial ornaments. ^21
Their power soon expired at the approach of the legions. The
strength of union and discipline obtained an easy victory over a
licentious and divided multitude. ^22 A severe retaliation was
inflicted on the peasants who were found in arms; the affrighted
remnant returned to their respective habitations, and their
unsuccessful effort for freedom served only to confirm their
slavery. So strong and uniform is the current of popular
passions, that we might almost venture, from very scanty
materials, to relate the particulars of this war; but we are not
disposed to believe that the principal leaders, Aelianus and
Amandus, were Christians, ^23 or to insinuate, that the
rebellion, as it happened in the time of Luther, was occasioned
by the abuse of those benevolent principles of Christianity,
which inculcate the natural freedom of mankind.

[Footnote 20: Panegyr. Vet. ii. 4. Aurelius Victor.]

[Footnote 21: Aelianus and Amandus. We have medals coined by
them Goltzius in Thes. R. A. p. 117, 121.]

[Footnote 22: Levibus proeliis domuit. Eutrop. ix. 20.]

[Footnote 23: The fact rests indeed on very slight authority, a
life of St. Babolinus, which is probably of the seventh century.
See Duchesne Scriptores Rer. Francicar. tom. i. p. 662.]

Maximian had no sooner recovered Gaul from the hands of the
peasants, than he lost Britain by the usurpation of Carausius.
Ever since the rash but successful enterprise of the Franks under
the reign of Probus, their daring countrymen had constructed
squadrons of light brigantines, in which they incessantly ravaged
the provinces adjacent to the ocean. ^24 To repel their desultory
incursions, it was found necessary to create a naval power; and
the judicious measure was prosecuted with prudence and vigor.
Gessoriacum, or Boulogne, in the straits of the British Channel,
was chosen by the emperor for the station of the Roman fleet; and
the command of it was intrusted to Carausius, a Menapian of the
meanest origin, ^25 but who had long signalized his skill as a
pilot, and his valor as a soldier. The integrity of the new
admiral corresponded not with his abilities. When the German
pirates sailed from their own harbors, he connived at their
passage, but he diligently intercepted their return, and
appropriated to his own use an ample share of the spoil which
they had acquired. The wealth of Carausius was, on this
occasion, very justly considered as an evidence of his guilt; and
Maximian had already given orders for his death. But the crafty
Menapian foresaw and prevented the severity of the emperor. By
his liberality he had attached to his fortunes the fleet which he
commanded, and secured the barbarians in his interest. From the
port of Boulogne he sailed over to Britain, persuaded the legion,
and the auxiliaries which guarded that island, to embrace his
party, and boldly assuming, with the Imperial purple, the title
of Augustus defied the justice and the arms of his injured
sovereign. ^26

[Footnote 24: Aurelius Victor calls them Germans. Eutropius (ix.
21) gives them the name of Saxons. But Eutropius lived in the
ensuing century, and seems to use the language of his own times.]

[Footnote 25: The three expressions of Eutropius, Aurelius
Victor, and Eumenius, "vilissime natus," "Bataviae alumnus," and
"Menapiae civis," give us a very doubtful account of the birth of
Carausius. Dr. Stukely, however, (Hist. of Carausius, p. 62,)
chooses to make him a native of St. David's and a prince of the
blood royal of Britain. The former idea he had found in Richard
of Cirencester, p. 44.

Note: The Menapians were settled between the Scheldt and the
Meuse, is the northern part of Brabant. D'Anville, Geogr. Anc.
i. 93. - G.]
[Footnote 26: Panegyr. v. 12. Britain at this time was secure,
and slightly guarded.]

When Britain was thus dismembered from the empire, its
importance was sensibly felt, and its loss sincerely lamented.
The Romans celebrated, and perhaps magnified, the extent of that
noble island, provided on every side with convenient harbors; the
temperature of the climate, and the fertility of the soil, alike
adapted for the production of corn or of vines; the valuable
minerals with which it abounded; its rich pastures covered with
innumerable flocks, and its woods free from wild beasts or
venomous serpents. Above all, they regretted the large amount of
the revenue of Britain, whilst they confessed, that such a
province well deserved to become the seat of an independent
monarchy. ^27 During the space of seven years it was possessed by
Carausius; and fortune continued propitious to a rebellion
supported with courage and ability. The British emperor defended
the frontiers of his dominions against the Caledonians of the
North, invited, from the continent, a great number of skilful
artists, and displayed, on a variety of coins that are still
extant, his taste and opulence. Born on the confines of the
Franks, he courted the friendship of that formidable people, by
the flattering imitation of their dress and manners. The bravest
of their youth he enlisted among his land or sea forces; and, in
return for their useful alliance, he communicated to the
barbarians the dangerous knowledge of military and naval arts.
Carausius still preserved the possession of Boulogne and the
adjacent country. His fleets rode triumphant in the channel,
commanded the mouths of the Seine and of the Rhine, ravaged the
coasts of the ocean, and diffused beyond the columns of Hercules
the terror of his name. Under his command, Britain, destined in
a future age to obtain the empire of the sea, already assumed its
natural and respectable station of a maritime power. ^28

[Footnote 27: Panegyr. Vet v 11, vii. 9. The orator Eumenius
wished to exalt the glory of the hero (Constantius) with the
importance of the conquest. Notwithstanding our laudable
partiality for our native country, it is difficult to conceive,
that, in the beginning of the fourth century England deserved all
these commendations. A century and a half before, it hardly paid
its own establishment.]

[Footnote 28: As a great number of medals of Carausius are still
preserved, he is become a very favorite object of antiquarian
curiosity, and every circumstance of his life and actions has
been investigated with sagacious accuracy. Dr. Stukely, in
particular, has devoted a large volume to the British emperor. I
have used his materials, and rejected most of his fanciful

By seizing the fleet of Boulogne, Carausius had deprived his
master of the means of pursuit and revenge. And when, after a
vast expense of time and labor, a new armament was launched into
the water, ^29 the Imperial troops, unaccustomed to that element,
were easily baffled and defeated by the veteran sailors of the
usurper. This disappointed effort was soon productive of a
treaty of peace. Diocletian and his colleague, who justly
dreaded the enterprising spirit of Carausius, resigned to him the
sovereignty of Britain, and reluctantly admitted their perfidious
servant to a participation of the Imperial honors. ^30 But the
adoption of the two Caesars restored new vigor to the Romans
arms; and while the Rhine was guarded by the presence of
Maximian, his brave associate Constantius assumed the conduct of
the British war. His first enterprise was against the important
place of Boulogne. A stupendous mole, raised across the entrance
of the harbor, intercepted all hopes of relief. The town
surrendered after an obstinate defence; and a considerable part
of the naval strength of Carausius fell into the hands of the
besiegers. During the three years which Constantius employed in
preparing a fleet adequate to the conquest of Britain, he secured
the coast of Gaul, invaded the country of the Franks, and
deprived the usurper of the assistance of those powerful allies.

[Footnote 29: When Mamertinus pronounced his first panegyric, the
naval preparations of Maximian were completed; and the orator
presaged an assured victory. His silence in the second panegyric
might alone inform us that the expedition had not succeeded.]

[Footnote 30: Aurelius Victor, Eutropius, and the medals, (Pax
Augg.) inform us of this temporary reconciliation; though I will
not presume (as Dr. Stukely has done, Medallic History of
Carausius, p. 86, &c) to insert the identical articles of the

Before the preparations were finished, Constantius received
the intelligence of the tyrant's death, and it was considered as
a sure presage of the approaching victory. The servants of
Carausius imitated the example of treason which he had given. He
was murdered by his first minister, Allectus, and the assassin
succeeded to his power and to his danger. But he possessed not
equal abilities either to exercise the one or to repel the other.

He beheld, with anxious terror, the opposite shores of the
continent already filled with arms, with troops, and with
vessels; for Constantius had very prudently divided his forces,
that he might likewise divide the attention and resistance of the
enemy. The attack was at length made by the principal squadron,
which, under the command of the praefect Asclepiodatus, an
officer of distinguished merit, had been assembled in the north
of the Seine. So imperfect in those times was the art of
navigation, that orators have celebrated the daring courage of
the Romans, who ventured to set sail with a side-wind, and on a
stormy day. The weather proved favorable to their enterprise.
Under the cover of a thick fog, they escaped the fleet of
Allectus, which had been stationed off the Isle of Wight to
receive them, landed in safety on some part of the western coast,
and convinced the Britons, that a superiority of naval strength
will not always protect their country from a foreign invasion.
Asclepiodatus had no sooner disembarked the imperial troops, then
he set fire to his ships; and, as the expedition proved
fortunate, his heroic conduct was universally admired. The
usurper had posted himself near London, to expect the formidable
attack of Constantius, who commanded in person the fleet of
Boulogne; but the descent of a new enemy required his immediate
presence in the West. He performed this long march in so
precipitate a manner, that he encountered the whole force of the
praefect with a small body of harassed and disheartened troops.
The engagement was soon terminated by the total defeat and death
of Allectus; a single battle, as it has often happened, decided
the fate of this great island; and when Constantius landed on the
shores of Kent, he found them covered with obedient subjects.
Their acclamations were loud and unanimous; and the virtues of
the conqueror may induce us to believe, that they sincerely
rejoiced in a revolution, which, after a separation of ten years,
restored Britain to the body of the Roman empire. ^31

[Footnote 31: With regard to the recovery of Britain, we obtain a
few hints from Aurelius Victor and Eutropius.]

Chapter XIII: Reign Of Diocletian And This Three Associates.

Part II.

Britain had none but domestic enemies to dread; and as long
as the governors preserved their fidelity, and the troops their
discipline, the incursions of the naked savages of Scotland or
Ireland could never materially affect the safety of the province.

The peace of the continent, and the defence of the principal
rivers which bounded the empire, were objects of far greater
difficulty and importance. The policy of Diocletian, which
inspired the councils of his associates, provided for the public
tranquility, by encouraging a spirit of dissension among the
barbarians, and by strengthening the fortifications of the Roman
limit. In the East he fixed a line of camps from Egypt to the
Persian dominions, and for every camp, he instituted an adequate
number of stationary troops, commanded by their respective
officers, and supplied with every kind of arms, from the new
arsenals which he had formed at Antioch, Emesa, and Damascus. ^32
Nor was the precaution of the emperor less watchful against the
well-known valor of the barbarians of Europe. From the mouth of
the Rhine to that of the Danube, the ancient camps, towns, and
citidels, were diligently reestablished, and, in the most exposed
places, new ones were skilfully constructed: the strictest
vigilance was introduced among the garrisons of the frontier, and
every expedient was practised that could render the long chain of
fortifications firm and impenetrable. ^33 A barrier so
respectable was seldom violated, and the barbarians often turned
against each other their disappointed rage. The Goths, the
Vandals, the Gepidae, the Burgundians, the Alemanni, wasted each
other's strength by destructive hostilities: and whosoever
vanquished, they vanquished the enemies of Rome. The subjects of
Diocletian enjoyed the bloody spectacle, and congratulated each
other, that the mischiefs of civil war were now experienced only
by the barbarians. ^34

[Footnote 32: John Malala, in Chron, Antiochen. tom. i. p. 408,
[Footnote 33: Zosim. l. i. p. 3. That partial historian seems to
celebrate the vigilance of Diocletian with a design of exposing
the negligence of Constantine; we may, however, listen to an
orator: "Nam quid ego alarum et cohortium castra percenseam, toto
Rheni et Istri et Euphraus limite restituta." Panegyr. Vet. iv.

[Footnote 34: Ruunt omnes in sanguinem suum populi, quibus ron
contigilesse Romanis, obstinataeque feritatis poenas nunc sponte
persolvunt. Panegyr. Vet. iii. 16. Mamertinus illustrates the
fact by the example of almost all the nations in the world.]

Notwithstanding the policy of Diocletian, it was impossible
to maintain an equal and undisturbed tranquillity during a reign
of twenty years, and along a frontier of many hundred miles.
Sometimes the barbarians suspended their domestic animosities,
and the relaxed vigilance of the garrisons sometimes gave a
passage to their strength or dexterity. Whenever the provinces
were invaded, Diocletian conducted himself with that calm dignity
which he always affected or possessed; reserved his presence for
such occasions as were worthy of his interposition, never exposed
his person or reputation to any unnecessary danger, insured his
success by every means that prudence could suggest, and
displayed, with ostentation, the consequences of his victory. In
wars of a more difficult nature, and more doubtful event, he
employed the rough valor of Maximian; and that faithful soldier
was content to ascribe his own victories to the wise counsels and
auspicious influence of his benefactor. But after the adoption
of the two Caesars, the emperors themselves, retiring to a less
laborious scene of action, devolved on their adopted sons the
defence of the Danube and of the Rhine. The vigilant Galerius
was never reduced to the necessity of vanquishing an army of
barbarians on the Roman territory. ^35 The brave and active
Contsantius delivered Gaul from a very furious inroad of the
Alemanni; and his victories of Langres and Vindonissa appear to
have been actions of considerable danger and merit. As he
traversed the open country with a feeble guard, he was
encompassed on a sudden by the superior multitude of the enemy.
He retreated with difficulty towards Langres; but, in the general
consternation, the citizens refused to open their gates, and the
wounded prince was drawn up the wall by the means of a rope.
But, on the news of his distress, the Roman troops hastened from
all sides to his relief, and before the evening he had satisfied
his honor and revenge by the slaughter of six thousand Alemanni.
^36 From the monuments of those times, the obscure traces of
several other victories over the barbarians of Sarmatia and
Germany might possibly be collected; but the tedious search would
not be rewarded either with amusement or with instruction.

[Footnote 35: He complained, though not with the strictest truth,
"Jam fluxisse annos quindecim in quibus, in Illyrico, ad ripam
Danubii relegatus cum gentibus barbaris luctaret." Lactant. de M.
P. c. 18.]
[Footnote 36: In the Greek text of Eusebius, we read six
thousand, a number which I have preferred to the sixty thousand
of Jerome, Orosius Eutropius, and his Greek translator Paeanius.]

The conduct which the emperor Probus had adopted in the
disposal of the vanquished, was imitated by Diocletian and his
associates. The captive barbarians, exchanging death for
slavery, were distributed among the provincials, and assigned to
those districts (in Gaul, the territories of Amiens, Beauvais,
Cambray, Treves, Langres, and Troyes, are particularly specified
^37) which had been depopulated by the calamities of war. They
were usefully employed as shepherds and husbandmen, but were
denied the exercise of arms, except when it was found expedient
to enroll them in the military service. Nor did the emperors
refuse the property of lands, with a less servile tenure, to such
of the barbarians as solicited the protection of Rome. They
granted a settlement to several colonies of the Carpi, the
Bastarnae, and the Sarmatians; and, by a dangerous indulgence,
permitted them in some measure to retain their national manners
and independence. ^38 Among the provincials, it was a subject of
flattering exultation, that the barbarian, so lately an object of
terror, now cultivated their lands, drove their cattle to the
neighboring fair, and contributed by his labor to the public
plenty. They congratulated their masters on the powerful
accession of subjects and soldiers; but they forgot to observe,
that multitudes of secret enemies, insolent from favor, or
desperate from oppression, were introduced into the heart of the
empire. ^39

[Footnote 37: Panegyr. Vet. vii. 21.]

[Footnote 38: There was a settlement of the Sarmatians in the
neighborhood of Treves, which seems to have been deserted by
those lazy barbarians. Ausonius speaks of them in his Mosella: -

"Unde iter ingrediens nemorosa per avia solum,
Et nulla humani spectans vestigia cultus;
. . . . . . . .
Arvaque Sauromatum nuper metata colonis.]

[Footnote 39: There was a town of the Carpi in the Lower Maesia.
See the rhetorical exultation of Eumenius.]

While the Caesars exercised their valor on the banks of the
Rhine and Danube, the presence of the emperors was required on
the southern confines of the Roman world. From the Nile to Mount
Atlas Africa was in arms. A confederacy of five Moorish nations
issued from their deserts to invade the peaceful provinces. ^40
Julian had assumed the purple at Carthage. ^41 Achilleus at
Alexandria, and even the Blemmyes, renewed, or rather continued,
their incursions into the Upper Egypt. Scarcely any
circumstances have been preserved of the exploits of Maximian in
the western parts of Africa; but it appears, by the event, that
the progress of his arms was rapid and decisive, that he
vanquished the fiercest barbarians of Mauritania, and that he
removed them from the mountains, whose inaccessible strength had
inspired their inhabitants with a lawless confidence, and
habituated them to a life of rapine and violence. ^42 Diocletian,
on his side, opened the campaign in Egypt by the siege of
Alexandria, cut off the aqueducts which conveyed the waters of
the Nile into every quarter of that immense city, ^43 and
rendering his camp impregnable to the sallies of the besieged
multitude, he pushed his reiterated attacks with caution and
vigor. After a siege of eight months, Alexandria, wasted by the
sword and by fire, implored the clemency of the conqueror, but it
experienced the full extent of his severity. Many thousands of
the citizens perished in a promiscuous slaughter, and there were
few obnoxious persons in Egypt who escaped a sentence either of
death or at least of exile. ^44 The fate of Busiris and of Coptos
was still more melancholy than that of Alexandria: those proud
cities, the former distinguished by its antiquity, the latter
enriched by the passage of the Indian trade, were utterly
destroyed by the arms and by the severe order of Diocletian. ^45
The character of the Egyptian nation, insensible to kindness, but
extremely susceptible of fear, could alone justify this excessive
rigor. The seditions of Alexandria had often affected the
tranquillity and subsistence of Rome itself. Since the
usurpation of Firmus, the province of Upper Egypt, incessantly
relapsing into rebellion, had embraced the alliance of the
savages of Aethiopia. The number of the Blemmyes, scattered
between the Island of Meroe and the Red Sea, was very
inconsiderable, their disposition was unwarlike, their weapons
rude and inoffensive. ^46 Yet in the public disorders, these
barbarians, whom antiquity, shocked with the deformity of their
figure, had almost excluded from the human species, presumed to
rank themselves among the enemies of Rome. ^47 Such had been the
unworthy allies of the Egyptians; and while the attention of the
state was engaged in more serious wars, their vexations inroads
might again harass the repose of the province. With a view of
opposing to the Blemmyes a suitable adversary, Diocletian
persuaded the Nobatae, or people of Nubia, to remove from their
ancient habitations in the deserts of Libya, and resigned to them
an extensive but unprofitable territory above Syene and the
cataracts of the Nile, with the stipulation, that they should
ever respect and guard the frontier of the empire. The treaty
long subsisted; and till the establishment of Christianity
introduced stricter notions of religious worship, it was annually
ratified by a solemn sacrifice in the Isle of Elephantine, in
which the Romans, as well as the barbarians, adored the same
visible or invisible powers of the universe. ^48

[Footnote 40: Scaliger (Animadvers. ad Euseb. p. 243) decides, in
his usual manner, that the Quinque gentiani, or five African
nations, were the five great cities, the Pentapolis of the
inoffensive province of Cyrene.]
[Foot]note 41: After his defeat, Julian stabbed himself with a
dagger, and immediately leaped into the flames. Victor in

[Footnote 42: Tu ferocissimos Mauritaniae populos inaccessis
montium jugis et naturali munitione fidentes, expugnasti,
recepisti, transtulisti. Panegyr Vet. vi. 8.]

[Footnote 43: See the description of Alexandria, in Hirtius de
Bel. Alexandrin c. 5.]

[Footnote 44: Eutrop. ix. 24. Orosius, vii. 25. John Malala in
Chron. Antioch. p. 409, 410. Yet Eumenius assures us, that Egypt
was pacified by the clemency of Diocletian.]

[Footnote 45: Eusebius (in Chron.) places their destruction
several years sooner and at a time when Egypt itself was in a
state of rebellion against the Romans.]

[Footnote 46: Strabo, l. xvii. p. 172. Pomponius Mela, l. i. c.
4. His words are curious: "Intra, si credere libet vix, homines
magisque semiferi Aegipanes, et Blemmyes, et Satyri."]

[Footnote 47: Ausus sese inserere fortunae et provocare arma
[Footnote 48: See Procopius de Bell. Persic. l. i. c. 19.
Note: Compare, on the epoch of the final extirpation of the
rites of Paganism from the Isle of Philae, (Elephantine,) which
subsisted till the edict of Theodosius, in the sixth century, a
dissertation of M. Letronne, on certain Greek inscriptions. The
dissertation contains some very interesting observations on the
conduct and policy of Diocletian in Egypt. Mater pour l'Hist. du
Christianisme en Egypte, Nubie et Abyssinie, Paris 1817 - M.]
At the same time that Diocletian chastised the past crimes
of the Egyptians, he provided for their future safety and
happiness by many wise regulations, which were confirmed and
enforced under the succeeding reigns. ^49 One very remarkable
edict which he published, instead of being condemned as the
effect of jealous tyranny, deserves to be applauded as an act of
prudence and humanity. He caused a diligent inquiry to be made
"for all the ancient books which treated of the admirable art of
making gold and silver, and without pity, committed them to the
flames; apprehensive, as we are assumed, lest the opulence of the
Egyptians should inspire them with confidence to rebel against
the empire." ^50 But if Diocletian had been convinced of the
reality of that valuable art, far from extinguishing the memory,
he would have converted the operation of it to the benefit of the
public revenue. It is much more likely, that his good sense
discovered to him the folly of such magnificent pretensions, and
that he was desirous of preserving the reason and fortunes of his
subjects from the mischievous pursuit. It may be remarked, that
these ancient books, so liberally ascribed to Pythagoras, to
Solomon, or to Hermes, were the pious frauds of more recent
adepts. The Greeks were inattentive either to the use or to the
abuse of chemistry. In that immense register, where Pliny has
deposited the discoveries, the arts, and the errors of mankind,
there is not the least mention of the transmutation of metals;
and the persecution of Diocletian is the first authentic event in
the history of alchemy. The conquest of Egypt by the Arabs
diffused that vain science over the globe. Congenial to the
avarice of the human heart, it was studied in China as in Europe,
with equal eagerness, and with equal success. The darkness of
the middle ages insured a favorable reception to every tale of
wonder, and the revival of learning gave new vigor to hope, and
suggested more specious arts of deception. Philosophy, with the
aid of experience, has at length banished the study of alchemy;
and the present age, however desirous of riches, is content to
seek them by the humbler means of commerce and industry. ^51

[Footnote 49: He fixed the public allowance of corn, for the
people of Alexandria, at two millions of medimni; about four
hundred thousand quarters. Chron. Paschal. p. 276 Procop. Hist.
Arcan. c. 26.]

[Footnote 50: John Antioch, in Excerp. Valesian. p. 834. Suidas
in Diocletian.]

[Footnote 51: See a short history and confutation of Alchemy, in
the works of that philosophical compiler, La Mothe le Vayer, tom.

i. p. 32 - 353.]
The reduction of Egypt was immediately followed by the
Persian war. It was reserved for the reign of Diocletian to
vanquish that powerful nation, and to extort a confession from
the successors of Artaxerxes, of the superior majesty of the
Roman empire.

We have observed, under the reign of Valerian, that Armenia
was subdued by the perfidy and the arms of the Persians, and
that, after the assassination of Chosroes, his son Tiridates, the
infant heir of the monarchy, was saved by the fidelity of his
friends, and educated under the protection of the emperors.
Tiridates derived from his exile such advantages as he could
never have obtained on the throne of Armenia; the early knowledge
of adversity, of mankind, and of the Roman discipline. He
signalized his youth by deeds of valor, and displayed a matchless
dexterity, as well as strength, in every martial exercise, and
even in the less honorable contests of the Olympian games. ^52
Those qualities were more nobly exerted in the defence of his
benefactor Licinius. ^53 That officer, in the sedition which
occasioned the death of Probus, was exposed to the most imminent
danger, and the enraged soldiers were forcing their way into his
tent, when they were checked by the single arm of the Armenian
prince. The gratitude of Tiridates contributed soon afterwards
to his restoration. Licinius was in every station the friend and
companion of Galerius, and the merit of Galerius, long before he
was raised to the dignity of Caesar, had been known and esteemed
by Diocletian. In the third year of that emperor's reign
Tiridates was invested with the kingdom of Armenia. The justice
of the measure was not less evident than its expediency. It was
time to rescue from the usurpation of the Persian monarch an
important territory, which, since the reign of Nero, had been
always granted under the protection of the empire to a younger
branch of the house of Arsaces. ^54

[Footnote 52: See the education and strength of Tiridates in the
Armenian history of Moses of Chorene, l. ii. c. 76. He could
seize two wild bulls by the horns, and break them off with his

[Footnote 53: If we give credit to the younger Victor, who
supposes that in the year 323 Licinius was only sixty years of
age, he could scarcely be the same person as the patron of
Tiridates; but we know from much better authority, (Euseb. Hist.
Ecclesiast. l. x. c. 8,) that Licinius was at that time in the
last period of old age: sixteen years before, he is represented
with gray hairs, and as the contemporary of Galerius. See
Lactant. c. 32. Licinius was probably born about the year 250.]

[Footnote 54: See the sixty-second and sixty-third books of Dion
When Tiridates appeared on the frontiers of Armenia, he was
received with an unfeigned transport of joy and loyalty. During
twenty-six years, the country had experienced the real and
imaginary hardships of a foreign yoke. The Persian monarchs
adorned their new conquest with magnificent buildings; but those
monuments had been erected at the expense of the people, and were
abhorred as badges of slavery. The apprehension of a revolt had
inspired the most rigorous precautions: oppression had been
aggravated by insult, and the consciousness of the public hatred
had been productive of every measure that could render it still
more implacable. We have already remarked the intolerant spirit
of the Magian religion. The statues of the deified kings of
Armenia, and the sacred images of the sun and moon, were broke in
pieces by the zeal of the conqueror; and the perpetual fire of
Ormuzd was kindled and preserved upon an altar erected on the
summit of Mount Bagavan. ^55 It was natural, that a people
exasperated by so many injuries, should arm with zeal in the
cause of their independence, their religion, and their hereditary
sovereign. The torrent bore down every obstacle, and the Persian
garrisons retreated before its fury. The nobles of Armenia flew
to the standard of Tiridates, all alleging their past merit,
offering their future service, and soliciting from the new king
those honors and rewards from which they had been excluded with
disdain under the foreign government. ^56 The command of the army
was bestowed on Artavasdes, whose father had saved the infancy of
Tiridates, and whose family had been massacred for that generous
action. The brother of Artavasdes obtained the government of a
province. One of the first military dignities was conferred on
the satrap Otas, a man of singular temperance and fortitude, who
presented to the king his sister ^57 and a considerable treasure,
both of which, in a sequestered fortress, Otas had preserved from
violation. Among the Armenian nobles appeared an ally, whose
fortunes are too remarkable to pass unnoticed. His name was
Mamgo, ^! his origin was Scythian, and the horde which
acknowledge his authority had encamped a very few years before on
the skirts of the Chinese empire, ^58 which at that time extended
as far as the neighborhood of Sogdiana. ^59 Having incurred the
displeasure of his master, Mamgo, with his followers, retired to
the banks of the Oxus, and implored the protection of Sapor. The
emperor of China claimed the fugitive, and alleged the rights of
sovereignty. The Persian monarch pleaded the laws of hospitality,
and with some difficulty avoided a war, by the promise that he
would banish Mamgo to the uttermost parts of the West, a
punishment, as he described it, not less dreadful than death
itself. Armenia was chosen for the place of exile, and a large
district was assigned to the Scythian horde, on which they might
feed their flocks and herds, and remove their encampment from one
place to another, according to the different seasons of the year.

They were employed to repel the invasion of Tiridates; but their
leader, after weighing the obligations and injuries which he had
received from the Persian monarch, resolved to abandon his party.

The Armenian prince, who was well acquainted with this merit as
well as power of Mamgo, treated him with distinguished respect;
and, by admitting him into his confidence, acquired a brave and
faithful servant, who contributed very effectually to his
restoration. ^60

[Footnote 55: Moses of Chorene. Hist. Armen. l. ii. c. 74. The
statues had been erected by Valarsaces, who reigned in Armenia
about 130 years before Christ, and was the first king of the
family of Arsaces, (see Moses, Hist. Armen. l. ii. 2, 3.) The
deification of the Arsacides is mentioned by Justin, (xli. 5,)
and by Ammianus Marcellinus, (xxiii. 6.)]

[Footnote 56: The Armenian nobility was numerous and powerful.
Moses mentions many families which were distinguished under the
reign of Valarsaces, (l. ii. 7,) and which still subsisted in his
own time, about the middle of the fifth century. See the preface
of his Editors.]
[Footnote 57: She was named Chosroiduchta, and had not the os
patulum like other women. (Hist. Armen. l. ii. c. 79.) I do not
understand the expression.

Note: Os patulum signifies merely a large and widely opening
mouth. Ovid (Metam. xv. 513) says, speaking of the monster who
attacked Hippolytus, patulo partem maris evomit ore. Probably a
wide mouth was a common defect among the Armenian women. - G.]

[Footnote !: Mamgo (according to M. St. Martin, note to Le Beau.
ii. 213) belonged to the imperial race of Hon, who had filled the
throne of China for four hundred years. Dethroned by the
usurping race of Wei, Mamgo found a hospitable reception in
Persia in the reign of Ardeschir. The emperor of china having
demanded the surrender of the fugitive and his partisans, Sapor,
then king, threatened with war both by Rome and China, counselled
Mamgo to retire into Armenia. "I have expelled him from my
dominions, (he answered the Chinese ambassador;) I have banished
him to the extremity of the earth, where the sun sets; I have
dismissed him to certain death." Compare Mem. sur l'Armenie, ii.
25. - M.]

[Footnote 58: In the Armenian history, (l. ii. 78,) as well as in
the Geography, (p. 367,) China is called Zenia, or Zenastan. It
is characterized by the production of silk, by the opulence of
the natives, and by their love of peace, above all the other
nations of the earth.

Note: See St. Martin, Mem. sur l'Armenie, i. 304.]

[Footnote 59: Vou-ti, the first emperor of the seventh dynasty,
who then reigned in China, had political transactions with
Fergana, a province of Sogdiana, and is said to have received a
Roman embassy, (Histoire des Huns, tom. i. p. 38.) In those ages
the Chinese kept a garrison at Kashgar, and one of their
generals, about the time of Trajan, marched as far as the Caspian
Sea. With regard to the intercourse between China and the
Western countries, a curious memoir of M. de Guignes may be
consulted, in the Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xxii. p. 355.

Note: The Chinese Annals mention, under the ninth year of
Yan-hi, which corresponds with the year 166 J. C., an embassy
which arrived from Tathsin, and was sent by a prince called
An-thun, who can be no other than Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, who
then ruled over the Romans. St. Martin, Mem. sur l'Armaenic. ii.
30. See also Klaproth, Tableaux Historiques de l'Asie, p. 69.
The embassy came by Jy-nan, Tonquin. - M.]

[Footnote 60: See Hist. Armen. l. ii. c. 81.]

For a while, fortune appeared to favor the enterprising
valor of Tiridates. He not only expelled the enemies of his
family and country from the whole extent of Armenia, but in the
prosecution of his revenge he carried his arms, or at least his
incursions, into the heart of Assyria. The historian, who has
preserved the name of Tiridates from oblivion, celebrates, with a
degree of national enthusiasm, his personal prowess: and, in the
true spirit of eastern romance, describes the giants and the
elephants that fell beneath his invincible arm. It is from other
information that we discover the distracted state of the Persian
monarchy, to which the king of Armenia was indebted for some part
of his advantages. The throne was disputed by the ambition of
contending brothers; and Hormuz, after exerting without success
the strength of his own party, had recourse to the dangerous
assistance of the barbarians who inhabited the banks of the
Caspian Sea. ^61 The civil war was, however, soon terminated,
either by a victor or by a reconciliation; and Narses, who was
universally acknowledged as king of Persia, directed his whole
force against the foreign enemy. The contest then became too
unequal; nor was the valor of the hero able to withstand the
power of the monarch, Tiridates, a second time expelled from the
throne of Armenia, once more took refuge in the court of the
emperors. ^* Narses soon reestablished his authority over the
revolted province; and loudly complaining of the protection
afforded by the Romans to rebels and fugitives, aspired to the
conquest of the East. ^62

[Footnote 61: Ipsos Persas ipsumque Regem ascitis Saccis, et
Russis, et Gellis, petit frater Ormies. Panegyric. Vet. iii. 1.
The Saccae were a nation of wandering Scythians, who encamped
towards the sources of the Oxus and the Jaxartes. The Gelli
where the inhabitants of Ghilan, along the Caspian Sea, and who
so long, under the name of Dilemines, infested the Persian
monarchy. See d'Herbelot, Bibliotheque]

[Footnote *: M St. Martin represents this differently. Le roi de
Perse * * * profits d'un voyage que Tiridate avoit fait a Rome
pour attaquer ce royaume. This reads like the evasion of the
national historians to disguise the fact discreditable to their
hero. See Mem. sur l'Armenie, i. 304. - M.]
[Footnote 62: Moses of Chorene takes no notice of this second
revolution, which I have been obliged to collect from a passage
of Ammianus Marcellinus, (l. xxiii. c. 5.) Lactantius speaks of
the ambition of Narses: "Concitatus domesticis exemplis avi sui
Saporis ad occupandum orientem magnis copiis inhiabat." De Mort.
Persecut. c. 9.]

Neither prudence nor honor could permit the emperors to
forsake the cause of the Armenian king, and it was resolved to
exert the force of the empire in the Persian war. Diocletian,
with the calm dignity which he constantly assumed, fixed his own
station in the city of Antioch, from whence he prepared and
directed the military operations. ^63 The conduct of the legions
was intrusted to the intrepid valor of Galerius, who, for that
important purpose, was removed from the banks of the Danube to
those of the Euphrates. The armies soon encountered each other
in the plains of Mesopotamia, and two battles were fought with
various and doubtful success; but the third engagement was of a
more decisive nature; and the Roman army received a total
overthrow, which is attributed to the rashness of Galerius, who,
with an inconsiderable body of troops, attacked the innumerable
host of the Persians. ^64 But the consideration of the country
that was the scene of action, may suggest another reason for his
defeat. The same ground on which Galerius was vanquished, had
been rendered memorable by the death of Crassus, and the
slaughter of ten legions. It was a plain of more than sixty
miles, which extended from the hills of Carrhae to the Euphrates;
a smooth and barren surface of sandy desert, without a hillock,
without a tree, and without a spring of fresh water. ^65 The
steady infantry of the Romans, fainting with heat and thirst,
could neither hope for victory if they preserved their ranks, nor
break their ranks without exposing themselves to the most
imminent danger. In this situation they were gradually
encompassed by the superior numbers, harassed by the rapid
evolutions, and destroyed by the arrows of the barbarian cavalry.

The king of Armenia had signalized his valor in the battle, and
acquired personal glory by the public misfortune. He was pursued
as far as the Euphrates; his horse was wounded, and it appeared
impossible for him to escape the victorious enemy. In this
extremity Tiridates embraced the only refuge which appeared
before him: he dismounted and plunged into the stream. His armor
was heavy, the river very deep, and at those parts at least half
a mile in breadth; ^66 yet such was his strength and dexterity,
that he reached in safety the opposite bank. ^67 With regard to
the Roman general, we are ignorant of the circumstances of his
escape; but when he returned to Antioch, Diocletian received him,
not with the tenderness of a friend and colleague, but with the
indignation of an offended sovereign. The haughtiest of men,
clothed in his purple, but humbled by the sense of his fault and
misfortune, was obliged to follow the emperor's chariot above a
mile on foot, and to exhibit, before the whole court, the
spectacle of his disgrace. ^68

[Footnote 63: We may readily believe, that Lactantius ascribes to
cowardice the conduct of Diocletian. Julian, in his oration,
says, that he remained with all the forces of the empire; a very
hyperbolical expression.]
[Footnote 64: Our five abbreviators, Eutropius, Festus, the two
Victors, and Orosius, all relate the last and great battle; but
Orosius is the only one who speaks of the two former.]

[Footnote 65: The nature of the country is finely described by
Plutarch, in the life of Crassus; and by Xenophon, in the first
book of the Anabasis]
[Footnote 66: See Foster's Dissertation in the second volume of
the translation of the Anabasis by Spelman; which I will venture
to recommend as one of the best versions extant.]

[Footnote 67: Hist. Armen. l. ii. c. 76. I have transferred this
exploit of Tiridates from an imaginary defeat to the real one of
[Footnote 68: Ammian. Marcellin. l. xiv. The mile, in the hands
of Eutropoius, (ix. 24,) of Festus (c. 25,) and of Orosius, (vii
25), easily increased to several miles]

As soon as Diocletian had indulged his private resentment,
and asserted the majesty of supreme power, he yielded to the
submissive entreaties of the Caesar, and permitted him to
retrieve his own honor, as well as that of the Roman arms. In
the room of the unwarlike troops of Asia, which had most probably
served in the first expedition, a second army was drawn from the
veterans and new levies of the Illyrian frontier, and a
considerable body of Gothic auxiliaries were taken into the
Imperial pay. ^69 At the head of a chosen army of twenty-five
thousand men, Galerius again passed the Euphrates; but, instead
of exposing his legions in the open plains of Mesopotamia he
advanced through the mountains of Armenia, where he found the
inhabitants devoted to his cause, and the country as favorable to
the operations of infantry as it was inconvenient for the motions
of cavalry. ^70 Adversity had confirmed the Roman discipline,
while the barbarians, elated by success, were become so negligent
and remiss, that in the moment when they least expected it, they
were surprised by the active conduct of Galerius, who, attended
only by two horsemen, had with his own eyes secretly examined the
state and position of their camp. A surprise, especially in the
night time, was for the most part fatal to a Persian army.
"Their horses were tied, and generally shackled, to prevent their
running away; and if an alarm happened, a Persian had his housing
to fix, his horse to bridle, and his corselet to put on, before
he could mount." ^71 On this occasion, the impetuous attack of
Galerius spread disorder and dismay over the camp of the
barbarians. A slight resistance was followed by a dreadful
carnage, and, in the general confusion, the wounded monarch (for
Narses commanded his armies in person) fled towards the deserts
of Media. His sumptuous tents, and those of his satraps,
afforded an immense booty to the conqueror; and an incident is
mentioned, which proves the rustic but martial ignorance of the
legions in the elegant superfluities of life. A bag of shining
leather, filled with pearls, fell into the hands of a private
soldier; he carefully preserved the bag, but he threw away its
contents, judging that whatever was of no use could not possibly
be of any value. ^72 The principal loss of Narses was of a much
more affecting nature. Several of his wives, his sisters, and
children, who had attended the army, were made captives in the
defeat. But though the character of Galerius had in general very
little affinity with that of Alexander, he imitated, after his
victory, the amiable behavior of the Macedonian towards the
family of Darius. The wives and children of Narses were
protected from violence and rapine, conveyed to a place of
safety, and treated with every mark of respect and tenderness,
that was due from a generous enemy to their age, their sex, and
their royal dignity. ^73
[Footnote 69: Aurelius Victor. Jornandes de Rebus Geticis, c.
[Footnote 70: Aurelius Victor says, "Per Armeniam in hostes
contendit, quae fermo sola, seu facilior vincendi via est." He
followed the conduct of Trajan, and the idea of Julius Caesar.]

[Footnote 71: Xenophon's Anabasis, l. iii. For that reason the
Persian cavalry encamped sixty stadia from the enemy.]

[Footnote 72: The story is told by Ammianus, l. xxii. Instead of
saccum, some read scutum.]

[Footnote 73: The Persians confessed the Roman superiority in
morals as well as in arms. Eutrop. ix. 24. But this respect and
gratitude of enemies is very seldom to be found in their own

Chapter XIII: Reign Of Diocletian And This Three Associates.

Part III.

While the East anxiously expected the decision of this great
contest, the emperor Diocletian, having assembled in Syria a
strong army of observation, displayed from a distance the
resources of the Roman power, and reserved himself for any future
emergency of the war. On the intelligence of the victory he
condescended to advance towards the frontier, with a view of
moderating, by his presence and counsels, the pride of Galerius.
The interview of the Roman princes at Nisibis was accompanied
with every expression of respect on one side, and of esteem on
the other. It was in that city that they soon afterwards gave
audience to the ambassador of the Great King. ^74 The power, or
at least the spirit, of Narses, had been broken by his last
defeat; and he considered an immediate peace as the only means
that could stop the progress of the Roman arms. He despatched
Apharban, a servant who possessed his favor and confidence, with
a commission to negotiate a treaty, or rather to receive whatever
conditions the conqueror should impose. Apharban opened the
conference by expressing his master's gratitude for the generous
treatment of his family, and by soliciting the liberty of those
illustrious captives. He celebrated the valor of Galerius,
without degrading the reputation of Narses, and thought it no
dishonor to confess the superiority of the victorious Caesar,
over a monarch who had surpassed in glory all the princes of his
race. Notwithstanding the justice of the Persian cause, he was
empowered to submit the present differences to the decision of
the emperors themselves; convinced as he was, that, in the midst
of prosperity, they would not be unmindful of the vicissitudes of
fortune. Apharban concluded his discourse in the style of
eastern allegory, by observing that the Roman and Persian
monarchies were the two eyes of the world, which would remain
imperfect and mutilated if either of them should be put out.

[Footnote 74: The account of the negotiation is taken from the
fragments of Peter the Patrician, in the Excerpta Legationum,
published in the Byzantine Collection. Peter lived under
Justinian; but it is very evident, by the nature of his
materials, that they are drawn from the most authentic and
respectable writers.]

"It well becomes the Persians," replied Galerius, with a
transport of fury, which seemed to convulse his whole frame, "it
well becomes the Persians to expatiate on the vicissitudes of
fortune, and calmly to read us lectures on the virtues of
moderation. Let them remember their own moderation, towards the
unhappy Valerian. They vanquished him by fraud, they treated him
with indignity. They detained him till the last moment of his
life in shameful captivity, and after his death they exposed his
body to perpetual ignominy." Softening, however, his tone,
Galerius insinuated to the ambassador, that it had never been the
practice of the Romans to trample on a prostrate enemy; and that,
on this occasion, they should consult their own dignity rather
than the Persian merit. He dismissed Apharban with a hope that
Narses would soon be informed on what conditions he might obtain,
from the clemency of the emperors, a lasting peace, and the
restoration of his wives and children. In this conference we may
discover the fierce passions of Galerius, as well as his
deference to the superior wisdom and authority of Diocletian.
The ambition of the former grasped at the conquest of the East,
and had proposed to reduce Persia into the state of a province.
The prudence of the latter, who adhered to the moderate policy of
Augustus and the Antonines, embraced the favorable opportunity of
terminating a successful war by an honorable and advantageous
peace. ^75

[Footnote 75: Adeo victor (says Aurelius) ut ni Valerius, cujus
nutu omnis gerebantur, abnuisset, Romani fasces in provinciam
novam ferrentur Verum pars terrarum tamen nobis utilior

In pursuance of their promise, the emperors soon afterwards
appointed Sicorius Probus, one of their secretaries, to acquaint
the Persian court with their final resolution. As the minister
of peace, he was received with every mark of politeness and
friendship; but, under the pretence of allowing him the necessary
repose after so long a journey, the audience of Probus was
deferred from day to day; and he attended the slow motions of the
king, till at length he was admitted to his presence, near the
River Asprudus in Media. The secret motive of Narses, in this
delay, had been to collect such a military force as might enable
him, though sincerely desirous of peace, to negotiate with the
greater weight and dignity. Three persons only assisted at this
important conference, the minister Apharban, the praefect of the
guards, and an officer who had commanded on the Armenian
frontier. ^76 The first condition proposed by the ambassador is
not at present of a very intelligible nature; that the city of
Nisibis might be established for the place of mutual exchange,
or, as we should formerly have termed it, for the staple of
trade, between the two empires. There is no difficulty in
conceiving the intention of the Roman princes to improve their
revenue by some restraints upon commerce; but as Nisibis was
situated within their own dominions, and as they were masters
both of the imports and exports, it should seem that such
restraints were the objects of an internal law, rather than of a
foreign treaty. To render them more effectual, some stipulations
were probably required on the side of the king of Persia, which
appeared so very repugnant either to his interest or to his
dignity, that Narses could not be persuaded to subscribe them.
As this was the only article to which he refused his consent, it
was no longer insisted on; and the emperors either suffered the
trade to flow in its natural channels, or contented themselves
with such restrictions, as it depended on their own authority to
[Footnote 76: He had been governor of Sumium, (Pot. Patricius in
Excerpt. Legat. p. 30.) This province seems to be mentioned by
Moses of Chorene, (Geograph. p. 360,) and lay to the east of
Mount Ararat.

Note: The Siounikh of the Armenian writers St. Martin i.
142. - M.]
As soon as this difficulty was removed, a solemn peace was
concluded and ratified between the two nations. The conditions
of a treaty so glorious to the empire, and so necessary to Persia
Persian, may deserve a more peculiar attention, as the history of
Rome presents very few transactions of a similar nature; most of
her wars having either been terminated by absolute conquest, or
waged against barbarians ignorant of the use of letters. I. The
Aboras, or, as it is called by Xenophon, the Araxes, was fixed as
the boundary between the two monarchies. ^77 That river, which
rose near the Tigris, was increased, a few miles below Nisibis,
by the little stream of the Mygdonius, passed under the walls of
Singara, and fell into the Euphrates at Circesium, a frontier
town, which, by the care of Diocletian, was very strongly
fortified. ^78 Mesopotomia, the object of so many wars, was ceded
to the empire; and the Persians, by this treaty, renounced all
pretensions to that great province. II. They relinquished to the
Romans five provinces beyond the Tigris. ^79 Their situation
formed a very useful barrier, and their natural strength was soon
improved by art and military skill. Four of these, to the north
of the river, were districts of obscure fame and inconsiderable
extent; Intiline, Zabdicene, Arzanene, and Moxoene; ^! but on the
east of the Tigris, the empire acquired the large and mountainous
territory of Carduene, the ancient seat of the Carduchians, who
preserved for many ages their manly freedom in the heart of the
despotic monarchies of Asia. The ten thousand Greeks traversed
their country, after a painful march, or rather engagement, of
seven days; and it is confessed by their leader, in his
incomparable relation of the retreat, that they suffered more
from the arrows of the Carduchians, than from the power of the
Great King. ^80 Their posterity, the Curds, with very little
alteration either of name or manners, ^* acknowledged the nominal
sovereignty of the Turkish sultan. III. It is almost needless
to observe, that Tiridates, the faithful ally of Rome, was
restored to the throne of his fathers, and that the rights of the
Imperial supremacy were fully asserted and secured. The limits
of Armenia were extended as far as the fortress of Sintha in
Media, and this increase of dominion was not so much an act of
liberality as of justice. Of the provinces already mentioned
beyond the Tigris, the four first had been dismembered by the
Parthians from the crown of Armenia; ^81 and when the Romans
acquired the possession of them, they stipulated, at the expense
of the usurpers, an ample compensation, which invested their ally
with the extensive and fertile country of Atropatene. Its
principal city, in the same situation perhaps as the modern
Tauris, was frequently honored by the residence of Tiridates; and
as it sometimes bore the name of Ecbatana, he imitated, in the
buildings and fortifications, the splendid capital of the Medes.
^82 IV. The country of Iberia was barren, its inhabitants rude
and savage. But they were accustomed to the use of arms, and
they separated from the empire barbarians much fiercer and more
formidable than themselves. The narrow defiles of Mount Caucasus
were in their hands, and it was in their choice, either to admit
or to exclude the wandering tribes of Sarmatia, whenever a
rapacious spirit urged them to penetrate into the richer climes
of the South. ^83 The nomination of the kings of Iberia, which
was resigned by the Persian monarch to the emperors, contributed
to the strength and security of the Roman power in Asia. ^84 The
East enjoyed a profound tranquillity during forty years; and the
treaty between the rival monarchies was strictly observed till
the death of Tiridates; when a new generation, animated with
different views and different passions, succeeded to the
government of the world; and the grandson of Narses undertook a
long and memorable war against the princes of the house of

[Footnote 77: By an error of the geographer Ptolemy, the position
of Singara is removed from the Aboras to the Tigris, which may
have produced the mistake of Peter, in assigning the latter river
for the boundary, instead of the former. The line of the Roman
frontier traversed, but never followed, the course of the Tigris.

Note: There are here several errors. Gibbon has confounded
the streams, and the towns which they pass. The Aboras, or
rather the Chaboras, the Araxes of Xenophon, has its source above
Ras-Ain or Re-Saina, (Theodosiopolis,) about twenty-seven leagues
from the Tigris; it receives the waters of the Mygdonius, or
Saocoras, about thirty-three leagues below Nisibis. at a town now
called Al Nahraim; it does not pass under the walls of Singara;
it is the Saocoras that washes the walls of that town: the latter
river has its source near Nisibis. at five leagues from the
Tigris. See D'Anv. l'Euphrate et le Tigre, 46, 49, 50, and the

To the east of the Tigris is another less considerable
river, named also the Chaboras, which D'Anville calls the
Centrites, Khabour, Nicephorius, without quoting the authorities
on which he gives those names. Gibbon did not mean to speak of
this river, which does not pass by Singara, and does not fall
into the Euphrates. See Michaelis, Supp. ad Lex. Hebraica. 3d
part, p. 664, 665. - G.]

[Footnote 78: Procopius de Edificiis, l. ii. c. 6.]

[Footnote 79: Three of the provinces, Zabdicene, Arzanene, and
Carduene, are allowed on all sides. But instead of the other
two, Peter (in Excerpt. Leg. p. 30) inserts Rehimene and Sophene.

I have preferred Ammianus, (l. xxv. 7,) because it might be
proved that Sophene was never in the hands of the Persians,
either before the reign of Diocletian, or after that of Jovian.
For want of correct maps, like those of M. d'Anville, almost all
the moderns, with Tillemont and Valesius at their head, have
imagined, that it was in respect to Persia, and not to Rome, that
the five provinces were situate beyond the Tigris.]

[Footnote !: See St. Martin, note on Le Beau, i. 380. He would
read, for Intiline, Ingeleme, the name of a small province of
Armenia, near the sources of the Tigris, mentioned by St.
Epiphanius, (Haeres, 60;) for the unknown name Arzacene, with
Gibbon, Arzanene. These provinces do not appear to have made an
integral part of the Roman empire; Roman garrisons replaced those
of Persia, but the sovereignty remained in the hands of the
feudatory princes of Armenia. A prince of Carduene, ally or
dependent on the empire, with the Roman name of Jovianus, occurs
in the reign of Julian. - M.]
[Footnote 80: Xenophon's Anabasis, l. iv. Their bows were three
cubits in length, their arrows two; they rolled down stones that
were each a wagon load. The Greeks found a great many villages
in that rude country.] [Footnote *: I travelled through this
country in 1810, and should judge, from what I have read and seen
of its inhabitants, that they have remained unchanged in their
appearance and character for more than twenty centuries Malcolm,
note to Hist. of Persia, vol. i. p. 82. - M.]

[Footnote 81: According to Eutropius, (vi. 9, as the text is
represented by the best Mss.,) the city of Tigranocerta was in
Arzanene. The names and situation of the other three may be
faintly traced.]

[Footnote 82: Compare Herodotus, l. i. c. 97, with Moses
Choronens. Hist Armen. l. ii. c. 84, and the map of Armenia
given by his editors.]
[Footnote 83: Hiberi, locorum potentes, Caspia via Sarmatam in
Armenios raptim effundunt. Tacit. Annal. vi. 34. See Strabon.
Geograph. l. xi. p. 764, [edit. Casaub.]

[Footnote 84: Peter Patricius (in Excerpt. Leg. p. 30) is the
only writer who mentions the Iberian article of the treaty.]

The arduous work of rescuing the distressed empire from
tyrants and barbarians had now been completely achieved by a
succession of Illyrian peasants. As soon as Diocletian entered
into the twentieth year of his reign, he celebrated that
memorable aera, as well as the success of his arms, by the pomp
of a Roman triumph. ^85 Maximian, the equal partner of his power,
was his only companion in the glory of that day. The two Caesars
had fought and conquered, but the merit of their exploits was
ascribed, according to the rigor of ancient maxims, to the
auspicious influence of their fathers and emperors. ^86 The
triumph of Diocletian and Maximian was less magnificent, perhaps,
than those of Aurelian and Probus, but it was dignified by
several circumstances of superior fame and good fortune. Africa
and Britain, the Rhine, the Danube, and the Nile, furnished their
respective trophies; but the most distinguished ornament was of a
more singular nature, a Persian victory followed by an important
conquest. The representations of rivers, mountains, and
provinces, were carried before the Imperial car. The images of
the captive wives, the sisters, and the children of the Great
King, afforded a new and grateful spectacle to the vanity of the
people. ^87 In the eyes of posterity, this triumph is remarkable,
by a distinction of a less honorable kind. It was the last that
Rome ever beheld. Soon after this period, the emperors ceased to
vanquish, and Rome ceased to be the capital of the empire.
[Footnote 85: Euseb. in Chron. Pagi ad annum. Till the discovery
of the treatise De Mortibus Persecutorum, it was not certain that
the triumph and the Vicennalia was celebrated at the same time.]

[Footnote 86: At the time of the Vicennalia, Galerius seems to
have kept station on the Danube. See Lactant. de M. P. c. 38.]

[Footnote 87: Eutropius (ix. 27) mentions them as a part of the
triumph. As the persons had been restored to Narses, nothing
more than their images could be exhibited.]

The spot on which Rome was founded had been consecrated by
ancient ceremonies and imaginary miracles. The presence of some
god, or the memory of some hero, seemed to animate every part of
the city, and the empire of the world had been promised to the
Capitol. ^88 The native Romans felt and confessed the power of
this agreeable illusion. It was derived from their ancestors,
had grown up with their earliest habits of life, and was
protected, in some measure, by the opinion of political utility.
The form and the seat of government were intimately blended
together, nor was it esteemed possible to transport the one
without destroying the other. ^89 But the sovereignty of the
capital was gradually annihilated in the extent of conquest; the
provinces rose to the same level, and the vanquished nations
acquired the name and privileges, without imbibing the partial
affections, of Romans. During a long period, however, the
remains of the ancient constitution, and the influence of custom,
preserved the dignity of Rome. The emperors, though perhaps of
African or Illyrian extraction, respected their adopted country,
as the seat of their power, and the centre of their extensive
dominions. The emergencies of war very frequently required their
presence on the frontiers; but Diocletian and Maximian were the
first Roman princes who fixed, in time of peace, their ordinary
residence in the provinces; and their conduct, however it might
be suggested by private motives, was justified by very specious
considerations of policy. The court of the emperor of the West
was, for the most part, established at Milan, whose situation, at
the foot of the Alps, appeared far more convenient than that of
Rome, for the important purpose of watching the motions of the
barbarians of Germany. Milan soon assumed the splendor of an
Imperial city. The houses are described as numerous and well
built; the manners of the people as polished and liberal. A
circus, a theatre, a mint, a palace, baths, which bore the name
of their founder Maximian; porticos adorned with statues, and a
double circumference of walls, contributed to the beauty of the
new capital; nor did it seem oppressed even by the proximity of
Rome. ^90 To rival the majesty of Rome was the ambition likewise
of Diocletian, who employed his leisure, and the wealth of the
East, in the embellishment of Nicomedia, a city placed on the
verge of Europe and Asia, almost at an equal distance between the
Danube and the Euphrates. By the taste of the monarch, and at
the expense of the people, Nicomedia acquired, in the space of a
few years, a degree of magnificence which might appear to have
required the labor of ages, and became inferior only to Rome,
Alexandria, and Antioch, in extent of populousness. ^91 The life
of Diocletian and Maximian was a life of action, and a
considerable portion of it was spent in camps, or in the long and
frequent marches; but whenever the public business allowed them
any relaxation, they seemed to have retired with pleasure to
their favorite residences of Nicomedia and Milan. Till
Diocletian, in the twentieth year of his reign, celebrated his
Roman triumph, it is extremely doubtful whether he ever visited
the ancient capital of the empire. Even on that memorable
occasion his stay did not exceed two months. Disgusted with the
licentious familiarity of the people, he quitted Rome with
precipitation thirteen days before it was expected that he should
have appeared in the senate, invested with the ensigns of the
consular dignity. ^92

[Footnote 88: Livy gives us a speech of Camillus on that subject,
(v. 51 - 55,) full of eloquence and sensibility, in opposition to
a design of removing the seat of government from Rome to the
neighboring city of Veii.]
[Footnote 89: Julius Caesar was reproached with the intention of
removing the empire to Ilium or Alexandria. See Sueton. in
Caesar. c. 79. According to the ingenious conjecture of Le Fevre
and Dacier, the ode of the third book of Horace was intended to
divert from the execution of a similar design.]
[Footnote 90: See Aurelius Victor, who likewise mentions the
buildings erected by Maximian at Carthage, probably during the
Moorish war. We shall insert some verses of Ausonius de Clar.
Urb. v.

Et Mediolani miraeomnia: copia rerum;
Innumerae cultaeque domus; facunda virorum
Ingenia, et mores laeti: tum duplice muro
Amplificata loci species; populique voluptas
Circus; et inclusi moles cuneata Theatri;
Templa, Palatinaeque arces, opulensque Moneta,
Et regio Herculei celebris sub honore lavacri.
Cunctaque marmoreis ornata Peristyla signis;
Moeniaque in valli formam circumdata labro,
Omnia quae magnis operum velut aemula formis
Excellunt: nec juncta premit vicinia Romae.]

[Footnote 91: Lactant. de M. P. c. 17. Libanius, Orat. viii. p.
[Footnote 92: Lactant. de M. P. c. 17. On a similar occasion,
Ammianus mentions the dicacitas plebis, as not very agreeable to
an Imperial ear. (See l. xvi. c. 10.)]

The dislike expressed by Diocletian towards Rome and Roman
freedom, was not the effect of momentary caprice, but the result
of the most artful policy. That crafty prince had framed a new
system of Imperial government, which was afterwards completed by
the family of Constantine; and as the image of the old
constitution was religiously preserved in the senate, he resolved
to deprive that order of its small remains of power and
consideration. We may recollect, about eight years before the
elevation, of Diocletian the transient greatness, and the
ambitious hopes, of the Roman senate. As long as that enthusiasm
prevailed, many of the nobles imprudently displayed their zeal in
the cause of freedom; and after the successes of Probus had
withdrawn their countenance from the republican party, the
senators were unable to disguise their impotent resentment. As
the sovereign of Italy, Maximian was intrusted with the care of
extinguishing this troublesome, rather than dangerous spirit, and
the task was perfectly suited to his cruel temper. The most
illustrious members of the senate, whom Diocletian always
affected to esteem, were involved, by his colleague, in the
accusation of imaginary plots; and the possession of an elegant
villa, or a well-cultivated estate, was interpreted as a
convincing evidence of guilt. ^93 The camp of the Praetorians,
which had so long oppressed, began to protect, the majesty of
Rome; and as those haughty troops were conscious of the decline
of their power, they were naturally disposed to unite their
strength with the authority of the senate. By the prudent
measures of Diocletian, the numbers of the Praetorians were
insensibly reduced, their privileges abolished, ^94 and their
place supplied by two faithful legions of Illyricum, who, under
the new titles of Jovians and Herculians, were appointed to
perform the service of the Imperial guards. ^95 But the most
fatal though secret wound, which the senate received from the
hands of Diocletian and Maximian, was inflicted by the inevitable
operation of their absence. As long as the emperors resided at
Rome, that assembly might be oppressed, but it could scarcely be
neglected. The successors of Augustus exercised the power of
dictating whatever laws their wisdom or caprice might suggest;
but those laws were ratified by the sanction of the senate. The
model of ancient freedom was preserved in its deliberations and
decrees; and wise princes, who respected the prejudices of the
Roman people, were in some measure obliged to assume the language
and behavior suitable to the general and first magistrate of the
republic. In the armies and in the provinces, they displayed the
dignity of monarchs; and when they fixed their residence at a
distance from the capital, they forever laid aside the
dissimulation which Augustus had recommended to his successors.
In the exercise of the legislative as well as the executive
power, the sovereign advised with his ministers, instead of
consulting the great council of the nation. The name of the
senate was mentioned with honor till the last period of the
empire; the vanity of its members was still flattered with
honorary distinctions; ^96 but the assembly which had so long
been the source, and so long the instrument of power, was
respectfully suffered to sink into oblivion. The senate of Rome,
losing all connection with the Imperial court and the actual
constitution, was left a venerable but useless monument of
antiquity on the Capitoline hill.

[Footnote 93: Lactantius accuses Maximian of destroying fictis
criminationibus lumina senatus, (De M. P. c. 8.) Aurelius Victor
speaks very doubtfully of the faith of Diocletian towards his
[Footnote 94: Truncatae vires urbis, imminuto praetoriarum
cohortium atque in armis vulgi numero. Aurelius Victor.
Lactantius attributes to Galerius the prosecution of the same
plan, (c. 26.)]

[Footnote 95: They were old corps stationed in Illyricum; and
according to the ancient establishment, they each consisted of
six thousand men. They had acquired much reputation by the use
of the plumbatoe, or darts loaded with lead. Each soldier
carried five of these, which he darted from a considerable
distance, with great strength and dexterity. See Vegetius, i.

[Footnote 96: See the Theodosian Code, l. vi. tit. ii. with
Godefroy's commentary.]

Chapter XIII: Reign Of Diocletian And This Three Associates.

Part IV.

When the Roman princes had lost sight of the senate and of
their ancient capital, they easily forgot the origin and nature
of their legal power. The civil offices of consul, of proconsul,
of censor, and of tribune, by the union of which it had been
formed, betrayed to the people its republican extraction. Those
modest titles were laid aside; ^97 and if they still
distinguished their high station by the appellation of Emperor,
or Imperator, that word was understood in a new and more
dignified sense, and no longer denoted the general of the Roman
armies, but the sovereign of the Roman world. The name of
Emperor, which was at first of a military nature, was associated
with another of a more servile kind. The epithet of Dominus, or
Lord, in its primitive signification, was expressive, not of the
authority of a prince over his subjects, or of a commander over
his soldiers, but of the despotic power of a master over his
domestic slaves. ^98 Viewing it in that odious light, it had been
rejected with abhorrence by the first Caesars. Their resistance
insensibly became more feeble, and the name less odious; till at
length the style of our Lord and Emperor was not only bestowed by
flattery, but was regularly admitted into the laws and public
monuments. Such lofty epithets were sufficient to elate and
satisfy the most excessive vanity; and if the successors of
Diocletian still declined the title of King, it seems to have
been the effect not so much of their moderation as of their
delicacy. Wherever the Latin tongue was in use, (and it was the
language of government throughout the empire,) the Imperial
title, as it was peculiar to themselves, conveyed a more
respectable idea than the name of king, which they must have
shared with a hundred barbarian chieftains; or which, at the
best, they could derive only from Romulus, or from Tarquin. But
the sentiments of the East were very different from those of the
West. From the earliest period of history, the sovereigns of
Asia had been celebrated in the Greek language by the title of
Basileus, or King; and since it was considered as the first
distinction among men, it was soon employed by the servile
provincials of the East, in their humble addresses to the Roman
throne. ^99 Even the attributes, or at least the titles, of the
Divinity, were usurped by Diocletian and Maximian, who
transmitted them to a succession of Christian emperors. ^100 Such
extravagant compliments, however, soon lose their impiety by
losing their meaning; and when the ear is once accustomed to the
sound, they are heard with indifference, as vague though
excessive professions of respect.

[Footnote 97: See the 12th dissertation in Spanheim's excellent
work de Usu Numismatum. From medals, inscriptions, and
historians, he examines every title separately, and traces it
from Augustus to the moment of its disappearing.]

[Footnote 98: Pliny (in Panegyr. c. 3, 55, &c.) speaks of Dominus
with execration, as synonymous to Tyrant, and opposite to Prince.

And the same Pliny regularly gives that title (in the tenth book
of the epistles) to his friend rather than master, the virtuous
Trajan. This strange contradiction puzzles the commentators, who
think, and the translators, who can write.]
[Footnote 99: Synesius de Regno, edit. Petav. p. 15. I am
indebted for this quotation to the Abbe de la Bleterie.]

[Footnote 100: Soe Vandale de Consecratione, p. 354, &c. It was
customary for the emperors to mention (in the preamble of laws)
their numen, sacreo majesty, divine oracles, &c. According to
Tillemont, Gregory Nazianzen complains most bitterly of the
profanation, especially when it was practised by an Arian

Note: In the time of the republic, says Hegewisch, when the
consuls, the praetors, and the other magistrates appeared in
public, to perform the functions of their office, their dignity
was announced both by the symbols which use had consecrated, and
the brilliant cortege by which they were accompanied. But this
dignity belonged to the office, not to the individual; this pomp
belonged to the magistrate, not to the man. * * The consul,
followed, in the comitia, by all the senate, the praetors, the
quaestors, the aediles, the lictors, the apparitors, and the
heralds, on reentering his house, was served only by freedmen and
by his slaves. The first emperors went no further. Tiberius
had, for his personal attendance, only a moderate number of
slaves, and a few freedmen. (Tacit. Ann. iv. 7.) But in
proportion as the republican forms disappeared, one after
another, the inclination of the emperors to environ themselves
with personal pomp, displayed itself more and more. * * The
magnificence and the ceremonial of the East were entirely
introduced by Diocletian, and were consecrated by Constantine to
the Imperial use. Thenceforth the palace, the court, the table,
all the personal attendance, distinguished the emperor from his
subjects, still more than his superior dignity. The organization
which Diocletian gave to his new court, attached less honor and
distinction to rank than to services performed towards the
members of the Imperial family. Hegewisch, Essai, Hist. sur les
Finances Romains.

Few historians have characterized, in a more philosophic
manner, the influence of a new institution. - G.

It is singular that the son of a slave reduced the haughty
aristocracy of Home to the offices of servitude. - M.]

From the time of Augustus to that of Diocletian, the Roman
princes, conversing in a familiar manner among their
fellow-citizens, were saluted only with the same respect that was
usually paid to senators and magistrates. Their principal
distinction was the Imperial or military robe of purple; whilst
the senatorial garment was marked by a broad, and the equestrian
by a narrow, band or stripe of the same honorable color. The
pride, or rather the policy, of Diocletian, engaged that artful
prince to introduce the stately magnificence of the court of
Persia. ^101 He ventured to assume the diadem, an ornament
detested by the Romans as the odious ensign of royalty, and the
use of which had been considered as the most desperate act of the
madness of Caligula. It was no more than a broad white fillet
set with pearls, which encircled the emperor's head. The
sumptuous robes of Diocletian and his successors were of silk and
gold; and it is remarked with indignation, that even their shoes
were studded with the most precious gems. The access to their
sacred person was every day rendered more difficult by the
institution of new forms and ceremonies. The avenues of the
palace were strictly guarded by the various schools, as they
began to be called, of domestic officers. The interior apartments
were intrusted to the jealous vigilance of the eunuchs, the
increase of whose numbers and influence was the most infallible
symptom of the progress of despotism. When a subject was at
length admitted to the Imperial presence, he was obliged,
whatever might be his rank, to fall prostrate on the ground, and
to adore, according to the eastern fashion, the divinity of his
lord and master. ^102 Diocletian was a man of sense, who, in the
course of private as well as public life, had formed a just
estimate both of himself and of mankind: nor is it easy to
conceive, that in substituting the manners of Persia to those of
Rome, he was seriously actuated by so mean a principle as that of
vanity. He flattered himself, that an ostentation of splendor
and luxury would subdue the imagination of the multitude; that
the monarch would be less exposed to the rude license of the
people and the soldiers, as his person was secluded from the
public view; and that habits of submission would insensibly be
productive of sentiments of veneration. Like the modesty
affected by Augustus, the state maintained by Diocletian was a
theatrical representation; but it must be confessed, that of the
two comedies, the former was of a much more liberal and manly
character than the latter. It was the aim of the one to
disguise, and the object of the other to display, the unbounded
power which the emperors possessed over the Roman world.

[Footnote 101: See Spanheim de Usu Numismat. Dissert. xii.]
[Footnote 102: Aurelius Victor. Eutropius, ix. 26. It appears
by the Panegyrists, that the Romans were soon reconciled to the
name and ceremony of adoration.]

Ostentation was the first principle of the new system
instituted by Diocletian. The second was division. He divided
the empire, the provinces, and every branch of the civil as well
as military administration. He multiplied the wheels of the
machine of government, and rendered its operations less rapid,
but more secure. Whatever advantages and whatever defects might
attend these innovations, they must be ascribed in a very great
degree to the first inventor; but as the new frame of policy was
gradually improved and completed by succeeding princes, it will
be more satisfactory to delay the consideration of it till the
season of its full maturity and perfection. ^103 Reserving,
therefore, for the reign of Constantine a more exact picture of
the new empire, we shall content ourselves with describing the
principal and decisive outline, as it was traced by the hand of
Diocletian. He had associated three colleagues in the exercise
of the supreme power; and as he was convinced that the abilities
of a single man were inadequate to the public defence, he
considered the joint administration of four princes not as a
temporary expedient, but as a fundamental law of the
constitution. It was his intention, that the two elder princes
should be distinguished by the use of the diadem, and the title
of Augusti; that, as affection or esteem might direct their
choice, they should regularly call to their assistance two
subordinate colleagues; and that the Coesars, rising in their
turn to the first rank, should supply an uninterrupted succession
of emperors. The empire was divided into four parts. The East
and Italy were the most honorable, the Danube and the Rhine the
most laborious stations. The former claimed the presence of the
Augusti, the latter were intrusted to the administration of the
Coesars. The strength of the legions was in the hands of the
four partners of sovereignty, and the despair of successively
vanquishing four formidable rivals might intimidate the ambition
of an aspiring general. In their civil government, the emperors
were supposed to exercise the undivided power of the monarch, and
their edicts, inscribed with their joint names, were received in
all the provinces, as promulgated by their mutual councils and
authority. Notwithstanding these precautions, the political
union of the Roman world was gradually dissolved, and a principle
of division was introduced, which, in the course of a few years,
occasioned the perpetual separation of the Eastern and Western
[Footnote 103: The innovations introduced by Diocletian are
chiefly deduced, 1st, from some very strong passages in
Lactantius; and, 2dly, from the new and various offices which, in
the Theodosian code, appear already established in the beginning
of the reign of Constantine.]

The system of Diocletian was accompanied with another very
material disadvantage, which cannot even at present be totally
overlooked; a more expensive establishment, and consequently an
increase of taxes, and the oppression of the people. Instead of
a modest family of slaves and freedmen, such as had contented the
simple greatness of Augustus and Trajan, three or four
magnificent courts were established in the various parts of the
empire, and as many Roman kings contended with each other and
with the Persian monarch for the vain superiority of pomp and
luxury. The number of ministers, of magistrates, of officers,
and of servants, who filled the different departments of the
state, was multiplied beyond the example of former times; and (if
we may borrow the warm expression of a contemporary) "when the
proportion of those who received, exceeded the proportion of
those who contributed, the provinces were oppressed by the weight
of tributes." ^104 From this period to the extinction of the
empire, it would be easy to deduce an uninterrupted series of
clamors and complaints. According to his religion and situation,
each writer chooses either Diocletian, or Constantine, or Valens,
or Theodosius, for the object of his invectives; but they
unanimously agree in representing the burden of the public
impositions, and particularly the land tax and capitation, as the
intolerable and increasing grievance of their own times. From
such a concurrence, an impartial historian, who is obliged to
extract truth from satire, as well as from panegyric, will be
inclined to divide the blame among the princes whom they accuse,
and to ascribe their exactions much less to their personal vices,
than to the uniform system of their administration. ^* The
emperor Diocletian was indeed the author of that system; but
during his reign, the growing evil was confined within the bounds
of modesty and discretion, and he deserves the reproach of
establishing pernicious precedents, rather than of exercising
actual oppression. ^105 It may be added, that his revenues were
managed with prudent economy; and that after all the current
expenses were discharged, there still remained in the Imperial
treasury an ample provision either for judicious liberality or
for any emergency of the state.
[Footnote 104: Lactant. de M. P. c. 7.]

[Footnote *: The most curious document which has come to light
since the publication of Gibbon's History, is the edict of
Diocletian, published from an inscription found at Eskihissar,
(Stratoniccia,) by Col. Leake. This inscription was first copied
by Sherard, afterwards much more completely by Mr. Bankes. It is
confirmed and illustrated by a more imperfect copy of the same
edict, found in the Levant by a gentleman of Aix, and brought to
this country by M. Vescovali. This edict was issued in the name
of the four Caesars, Diocletian, Maximian, Constantius, and
Galerius. It fixed a maximum of prices throughout the empire,
for all the necessaries and commodities of life. The preamble
insists, with great vehemence on the extortion and inhumanity of
the venders and merchants. Quis enim adeo obtunisi (obtusi)
pectores (is) et a sensu inhumanitatis extorris est qui ignorare
potest immo non senserit in venalibus rebus quaevel in
mercimoniis aguntur vel diurna urbium conversatione tractantur,
in tantum se licen liam defusisse, ut effraenata libido rapien -
rum copia nec annorum ubertatibus mitigaretur. The edict, as Col.
Leake clearly shows, was issued A. C. 303. Among the articles of
which the maximum value is assessed, are oil, salt, honey,
butchers' meat, poultry, game, fish, vegetables, fruit the wages
of laborers and artisans, schoolmasters and skins, boots and
shoes, harness, timber, corn, wine, and beer, (zythus.) The
depreciation in the value of money, or the rise in the price of
commodities, had been so great during the past century, that
butchers' meat, which, in the second century of the empire, was
in Rome about two denaril the pound, was now fixed at a maximum
of eight. Col. Leake supposes the average price could not be
less than four: at the same time the maximum of the wages of the
agricultural laborers was twenty-five. The whole edict is,
perhaps, the most gigantic effort of a blind though
well-intentioned despotism, to control that which is, and ought
to be, beyond the regulation of the government. See an Edict of
Diocletian, by Col. Leake, London, 1826.
Col. Leake has not observed that this Edict is expressly
named in the treatise de Mort. Persecut. ch. vii. Idem cum
variis iniquitatibus immensam faceret caritatem, legem pretiis
rerum venalium statuere conatus. - M]
[Footnote 105: Indicta lex nova quae sane illorum temporum
modestia tolerabilis, in perniciem processit. Aurel. Victor.,
who has treated the character of Diocletian with good sense,
though in bad Latin.]
It was in the twenty first year of his reign that Diocletian
executed his memorable resolution of abdicating the empire; an
action more naturally to have been expected from the elder or the
younger Antoninus, than from a prince who had never practised the
lessons of philosophy either in the attainment or in the use of
supreme power. Diocletian acquired the glory of giving to the
world the first example of a resignation, ^106 which has not been
very frequently imitated by succeeding monarchs. The parallel of
Charles the Fifth, however, will naturally offer itself to our
mind, not only since the eloquence of a modern historian has
rendered that name so familiar to an English reader, but from the
very striking resemblance between the characters of the two
emperors, whose political abilities were superior to their
military genius, and whose specious virtues were much less the
effect of nature than of art. The abdication of Charles appears
to have been hastened by the vicissitude of fortune; and the
disappointment of his favorite schemes urged him to relinquish a
power which he found inadequate to his ambition. But the reign
of Diocletian had flowed with a tide of uninterrupted success;
nor was it till after he had vanquished all his enemies, and
accomplished all his designs, that he seems to have entertained

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