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

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a hundred and twenty-seven marble columns of the Ionic order.
They were the gifts of devout monarchs, and each was sixty feet
high. The altar was adorned with the masterly sculptures of
Praxiteles, who had, perhaps, selected from the favorite legends
of the place the birth of the divine children of Latona, the
concealment of Apollo after the slaughter of the Cyclops, and the
clemency of Bacchus to the vanquished Amazons. ^129 Yet the
length of the temple of Ephesus was only four hundred and
twenty-five feet, about two thirds of the measure of the church
of St. Peter's at Rome. ^130 In the other dimensions, it was
still more inferior to that sublime production of modern
architecture. The spreading arms of a Christian cross require a
much greater breadth than the oblong temples of the Pagans; and
the boldest artists of antiquity would have been startled at the
proposal of raising in the air a dome of the size and proportions
of the Pantheon. The temple of Diana was, however, admired as
one of the wonders of the world. Successive empires, the
Persian, the Macedonian, and the Roman, had revered its sanctity
and enriched its splendor. ^131 But the rude savages of the
Baltic were destitute of a taste for the elegant arts, and they
despised the ideal terrors of a foreign superstition. ^132

[Footnote 128: Hist. Aug. p. 178. Jornandes, c. 20.]

[Footnote 129: Strabo, l. xiv. p. 640. Vitruvius, l. i. c. i.
praefat l vii. Tacit Annal. iii. 61. Plin. Hist. Nat. xxxvi.

[Footnote 130: The length of St. Peter's is 840 Roman palms; each
palm is very little short of nine English inches. See Greaves's
Miscellanies vol. i. p. 233; on the Roman Foot.

Note: St. Paul's Cathedral is 500 feet. Dallaway on
Architecture - M.]
[Footnote 131: The policy, however, of the Romans induced them to
abridge the extent of the sanctuary or asylum, which by
successive privileges had spread itself two stadia round the
temple. Strabo, l. xiv. p. 641. Tacit. Annal. iii. 60, &c.]

[Footnote 132: They offered no sacrifices to the Grecian gods.
See Epistol Gregor. Thaumat.]

Another circumstance is related of these invasions, which
might deserve our notice, were it not justly to be suspected as
the fanciful conceit of a recent sophist. We are told, that in
the sack of Athens the Goths had collected all the libraries, and
were on the point of setting fire to this funeral pile of Grecian
learning, had not one of their chiefs, of more refined policy
than his brethren, dissuaded them from the design; by the
profound observation, that as long as the Greeks were addicted to
the study of books, they would never apply themselves to the
exercise of arms. ^133 The sagacious counsellor (should the truth
of the fact be admitted) reasoned like an ignorant barbarian. In
the most polite and powerful nations, genius of every kind has
displayed itself about the same period; and the age of science
has generally been the age of military virtue and success.
[Footnote 133: Zonaras, l. xii. p. 635. Such an anecdote was
perfectly suited to the taste of Montaigne. He makes use of it
in his agreeable Essay on Pedantry, l. i. c. 24.]

IV. The new sovereign of Persia, Artaxerxes and his son
Sapor, had triumphed (as we have already seen) over the house of
Arsaces. Of the many princes of that ancient race. Chosroes,
king of Armenia, had alone preserved both his life and his
independence. He defended himself by the natural strength of his
country; by the perpetual resort of fugitives and malecontents;
by the alliance of the Romans, and above all, by his own courage.

Invincible in arms, during a thirty years' war, he was at length
assassinated by the emissaries of Sapor, king of Persia. The
patriotic satraps of Armenia, who asserted the freedom and
dignity of the crown, implored the protection of Rome in favor of
Tiridates, the lawful heir. But the son of Chosroes was an
infant, the allies were at a distance, and the Persian monarch
advanced towards the frontier at the head of an irresistible
force. Young Tiridates, the future hope of his country, was
saved by the fidelity of a servant, and Armenia continued above
twenty-seven years a reluctant province of the great monarchy of
Persia. ^134 Elated with this easy conquest, and presuming on the
distresses or the degeneracy of the Romans, Sapor obliged the
strong garrisons of Carrhae and Nisibis ^* to surrender, and
spread devastation and terror on either side of the Euphrates.
[Footnote 134: Moses Chorenensis, l. ii. c. 71, 73, 74. Zonaras,
l. xii. p. 628. The anthentic relation of the Armenian historian
serves to rectify the confused account of the Greek. The latter
talks of the children of Tiridates, who at that time was himself
an infant. (Compare St Martin Memoires sur l'Armenie, i. p. 301.
- M.)]

[Footnote *: Nisibis, according to Persian authors, was taken by
a miracle, the wall fell, in compliance with the prayers of the
army. Malcolm's Persia, l. 76. - M]

The loss of an important frontier, the ruin of a faithful
and natural ally, and the rapid success of Sapor's ambition,
affected Rome with a deep sense of the insult as well as of the
danger. Valerian flattered himself, that the vigilance of his
lieutenants would sufficiently provide for the safety of the
Rhine and of the Danube; but he resolved, notwithstanding his
advanced age, to march in person to the defence of the Euphrates.

During his progress through Asia Minor, the naval enterprises of
the Goths were suspended, and the afflicted province enjoyed a
transient and fallacious calm. He passed the Euphrates,
encountered the Persian monarch near the walls of Edessa, was
vanquished, and taken prisoner by Sapor. The particulars of this
great event are darkly and imperfectly represented; yet, by the
glimmering light which is afforded us, we may discover a long
series of imprudence, of error, and of deserved misfortunes on
the side of the Roman emperor. He reposed an implicit confidence
in Macrianus, his Praetorian praefect. ^135 That worthless
minister rendered his master formidable only to the oppressed
subjects, and contemptible to the enemies of Rome. ^136 By his
weak or wicked counsels, the Imperial army was betrayed into a
situation where valor and military skill were equally unavailing.
^137 The vigorous attempt of the Romans to cut their way through
the Persian host was repulsed with great slaughter; ^138 and
Sapor, who encompassed the camp with superior numbers, patiently
waited till the increasing rage of famine and pestilence had
insured his victory. The licentious murmurs of the legions soon
accused Valerian as the cause of their calamities; their
seditious clamors demanded an instant capitulation. An immense
sum of gold was offered to purchase the permission of a
disgraceful retreat. But the Persian, conscious of his
superiority, refused the money with disdain; and detaining the
deputies, advanced in order of battle to the foot of the Roman
rampart, and insisted on a personal conference with the emperor.
Valerian was reduced to the necessity of intrusting his life and
dignity to the faith of an enemy. The interview ended as it was
natural to expect. The emperor was made a prisoner, and his
astonished troops laid down their arms. ^139 In such a moment of
triumph, the pride and policy of Sapor prompted him to fill the
vacant throne with a successor entirely dependent on his
pleasure. Cyriades, an obscure fugitive of Antioch, stained with
every vice, was chosen to dishonor the Roman purple; and the will
of the Persian victor could not fail of being ratified by the
acclamations, however reluctant, of the captive army. ^140

[Footnote 135: Hist. Aug. p. 191. As Macrianus was an enemy to
the Christians, they charged him with being a magician.]

[Footnote 136: Zosimus, l. i. p. 33.]

[Footnote 137: Hist. Aug. p. 174.]

[Footnote 138: Victor in Caesar. Eutropius, ix. 7.]

[Footnote 139: Zosimus, l. i. p. 33. Zonaras, l. xii. p. 630.
Peter Patricius, in the Excerpta Legat. p. 29.]

[Footnote 140: Hist. August. p. 185. The reign of Cyriades
appears in that collection prior to the death of Valerian; but I
have preferred a probable series of events to the doubtful
chronology of a most inaccurate writer]
The Imperial slave was eager to secure the favor of his
master by an act of treason to his native country. He conducted
Sapor over the Euphrates, and, by the way of Chalcis, to the
metropolis of the East. So rapid were the motions of the Persian
cavalry, that, if we may credit a very judicious historian, ^141
the city of Antioch was surprised when the idle multitude was
fondly gazing on the amusements of the theatre. The splendid
buildings of Antioch, private as well as public, were either
pillaged or destroyed; and the numerous inhabitants were put to
the sword, or led away into captivity. ^142 The tide of
devastation was stopped for a moment by the resolution of the
high priest of Emesa. Arrayed in his sacerdotal robes, he
appeared at the head of a great body of fanatic peasants, armed
only with slings, and defended his god and his property from the
sacrilegious hands of the followers of Zoroaster. ^143 But the
ruin of Tarsus, and of many other cities, furnishes a melancholy
proof that, except in this singular instance, the conquest of
Syria and Cilicia scarcely interrupted the progress of the
Persian arms. The advantages of the narrow passes of Mount
Taurus were abandoned, in which an invader, whose principal force
consisted in his cavalry, would have been engaged in a very
unequal combat: and Sapor was permitted to form the siege of
Caesarea, the capital of Cappadocia; a city, though of the second
rank, which was supposed to contain four hundred thousand
inhabitants. Demosthenes commanded in the place, not so much by
the commission of the emperor, as in the voluntary defence of his
country. For a long time he deferred its fate; and when at last
Caesarea was betrayed by the perfidy of a physician, he cut his
way through the Persians, who had been ordered to exert their
utmost diligence to take him alive. This heroic chief escaped
the power of a foe who might either have honored or punished his
obstinate valor; but many thousands of his fellow-citizens were
involved in a general massacre, and Sapor is accused of treating
his prisoners with wanton and unrelenting cruelty. ^144 Much
should undoubtedly be allowed for national animosity, much for
humbled pride and impotent revenge; yet, upon the whole, it is
certain, that the same prince, who, in Armenia, had displayed the
mild aspect of a legislator, showed himself to the Romans under
the stern features of a conqueror. He despaired of making any
permanent establishment in the empire, and sought only to leave
behind him a wasted desert, whilst he transported into Persia the
people and the treasures of the provinces. ^145

[Footnote 141: The sack of Antioch, anticipated by some
historians, is assigned, by the decisive testimony of Ammianus
Marcellinus, to the reign of Gallienus, xxiii. 5.

Note: Heyne, in his note on Zosimus, contests this opinion
of Gibbon and observes, that the testimony of Ammianus is in fact
by no means clear, decisive. Gallienus and Valerian reigned
together. Zosimus, in a passage, l. iiii. 32, 8, distinctly
places this event before the capture of Valerian. - M.]

[Footnote 142: Zosimus, l. i. p. 35.]

[Footnote 143: John Malala, tom. i. p. 391. He corrupts this
probable event by some fabulous circumstances.]

[Footnote 144: Zonaras, l. xii. p. 630. Deep valleys were filled
up with the slain. Crowds of prisoners were driven to water like
beasts, and many perished for want of food.]

[Footnote 145: Zosimus, l. i. p. 25 asserts, that Sapor, had he
not preferred spoil to conquest, might have remained master of

At the time when the East trembled at the name of Sapor, he
received a present not unworthy of the greatest kings; a long
train of camels, laden with the most rare and valuable
merchandises. The rich offering was accompanied with an epistle,
respectful, but not servile, from Odenathus, one of the noblest
and most opulent senators of Palmyra. "Who is this Odenathus,"
(said the haughty victor, and he commanded that the present
should be cast into the Euphrates,) "that he thus insolently
presumes to write to his lord? If he entertains a hope of
mitigating his punishment, let him fall prostrate before the foot
of our throne, with his hands bound behind his back. Should he
hesitate, swift destruction shall be poured on his head, on his
whole race, and on his country." ^146 The desperate extremity to
which the Palmyrenian was reduced, called into action all the
latent powers of his soul. He met Sapor; but he met him in arms.

Infusing his own spirit into a little army collected from the
villages of Syria ^147 and the tents of the desert, ^148 he
hovered round the Persian host, harassed their retreat, carried
off part of the treasure, and, what was dearer than any treasure,
several of the women of the great king; who was at last obliged
to repass the Euphrates with some marks of haste and confusion.
^149 By this exploit, Odenathus laid the foundations of his
future fame and fortunes. The majesty of Rome, oppressed by a
Persian, was protected by a Syrian or Arab of Palmyra.

[Footnote 146: Peter Patricius in Excerpt. Leg. p. 29.]

[Footnote 147: Syrorum agrestium manu. Sextus Rufus, c. 23.
Rufus Victor the Augustan History, (p. 192,) and several
inscriptions, agree in making Odenathus a citizen of Palmyra.]

[Footnote 148: He possessed so powerful an interest among the
wandering tribes, that Procopius (Bell. Persic. l. ii. c. 5) and
John Malala, (tom. i. p. 391) style him Prince of the Saracens.]

[Footnote 149: Peter Patricius, p. 25.]

The voice of history, which is often little more than the
organ of hatred or flattery, reproaches Sapor with a proud abuse
of the rights of conquest. We are told that Valerian, in chains,
but invested with the Imperial purple, was exposed to the
multitude, a constant spectacle of fallen greatness; and that
whenever the Persian monarch mounted on horseback, he placed his
foot on the neck of a Roman emperor. Notwithstanding all the
remonstrances of his allies, who repeatedly advised him to
remember the vicissitudes of fortune, to dread the returning
power of Rome, and to make his illustrious captive the pledge of
peace, not the object of insult, Sapor still remained inflexible.
When Valerian sunk under the weight of shame and grief, his skin,
stuffed with straw, and formed into the likeness of a human
figure, was preserved for ages in the most celebrated temple of
Persia; a more real monument of triumph, than the fancied
trophies of brass and marble so often erected by Roman vanity.
^150 The tale is moral and pathetic, but the truth ^! of it may
very fairly be called in question. The letters still extant from
the princes of the East to Sapor are manifest forgeries; ^151 nor
is it natural to suppose that a jealous monarch should, even in
the person of a rival, thus publicly degrade the majesty of
kings. Whatever treatment the unfortunate Valerian might
experience in Persia, it is at least certain that the only
emperor of Rome who had ever fallen into the hands of the enemy,
languished away his life in hopeless captivity.

[Footnote 150: The Pagan writers lament, the Christian insult,
the misfortunes of Valerian. Their various testimonies are
accurately collected by Tillemont, tom. iii. p. 739, &c. So
little has been preserved of eastern history before Mahomet, that
the modern Persians are totally ignorant of the victory Sapor, an
event so glorious to their nation. See Bibliotheque Orientale.

Note: Malcolm appears to write from Persian authorities, i.
76. - M.]
[Footnote !: Yet Gibbon himself records a speech of the emperor
Galerius, which alludes to the cruelties exercised against the
living, and the indignities to which they exposed the dead
Valerian, vol. ii. ch. 13. Respect for the kingly character would
by no means prevent an eastern monarch from ratifying his pride
and his vengeance on a fallen foe. - M.]
[Footnote 151: One of these epistles is from Artavasdes, king of
Armenia; since Armenia was then a province of Persia, the king,
the kingdom, and the epistle must be fictitious.]

The emperor Gallienus, who had long supported with
impatience the censorial severity of his father and colleague,
received the intelligence of his misfortunes with secret pleasure
and avowed indifference. "I knew that my father was a mortal,"
said he; "and since he has acted as it becomes a brave man, I am
satisfied." Whilst Rome lamented the fate of her sovereign, the
savage coldness of his son was extolled by the servile courtiers
as the perfect firmness of a hero and a stoic. ^152 It is
difficult to paint the light, the various, the inconstant
character of Gallienus, which he displayed without constraint, as
soon as he became sole possessor of the empire. In every art
that he attempted, his lively genius enabled him to succeed; and
as his genius was destitute of judgment, he attempted every art,
except the important ones of war and government. He was a master
of several curious, but useless sciences, a ready orator, an
elegant poet, ^153 a skilful gardener, an excellent cook, and
most contemptible prince. When the great emergencies of the
state required his presence and attention, he was engaged in
conversation with the philosopher Plotinus, ^154 wasting his time
in trifling or licentious pleasures, preparing his initiation to
the Grecian mysteries, or soliciting a place in the Arcopagus of
Athens. His profuse magnificence insulted the general poverty;
the solemn ridicule of his triumphs impressed a deeper sense of
the public disgrace. ^155 The repeated intelligence of invasions,
defeats, and rebellions, he received with a careless smile; and
singling out, with affected contempt, some particular production
of the lost province, he carelessly asked, whether Rome must be
ruined, unless it was supplied with linen from Egypt, and arras
cloth from Gaul. There were, however, a few short moments in the
life of Gallienus, when, exasperated by some recent injury, he
suddenly appeared the intrepid soldier and the cruel tyrant;
till, satiated with blood, or fatigued by resistance, he
insensibly sunk into the natural mildness and indolence of his
character. ^156

[Footnote 152: See his life in the Augustan History.]

[Footnote 153: There is still extant a very pretty Epithalamium,
composed by Gallienus for the nuptials of his nephews: -

"Ite ait, O juvenes, pariter sudate medullis
Omnibus, inter vos: non murmura vestra columbae,
Brachia non hederae, non vincant oscula conchae."]

[Footnote 154: He was on the point of giving Plotinus a ruined
city of Campania to try the experiment of realizing Plato's
Republic. See the Life of Plotinus, by Porphyry, in Fabricius's
Biblioth. Graec. l. iv.]
[Footnote 155: A medal which bears the head of Gallienus has
perplexed the antiquarians by its legend and reverse; the former
Gallienoe Augustoe, the latter Ubique Pax. M. Spanheim supposes
that the coin was struck by some of the enemies of Gallienus, and
was designed as a severe satire on that effeminate prince. But
as the use of irony may seem unworthy of the gravity of the Roman
mint, M. de Vallemont has deduced from a passage of Trebellius
Pollio (Hist. Aug. p. 198) an ingenious and natural solution.
Galliena was first cousin to the emperor. By delivering Africa
from the usurper Celsus, she deserved the title of Augusta. On a
medal in the French king's collection, we read a similar
inscription of Faustina Augusta round the head of Marcus
Aurelius. With regard to the Ubique Pax, it is easily explained
by the vanity of Gallienus, who seized, perhaps, the occasion of
some momentary calm. See Nouvelles de la Republique des Lettres,
Janvier, 1700, p. 21 - 34.]

[Footnote 156: This singular character has, I believe, been
fairly transmitted to us. The reign of his immediate successor
was short and busy; and the historians who wrote before the
elevation of the family of Constantine could not have the most
remote interest to misrepresent the character of Gallienus.]

At the time when the reins of government were held with so
loose a hand, it is not surprising, that a crowd of usurpers
should start up in every province of the empire against the son
of Valerian. It was probably some ingenious fancy, of comparing
the thirty tyrants of Rome with the thirty tyrants of Athens,
that induced the writers of the Augustan History to select that
celebrated number, which has been gradually received into a
popular appellation. ^157 But in every light the parallel is idle
and defective. What resemblance can we discover between a council
of thirty persons, the united oppressors of a single city, and an
uncertain list of independent rivals, who rose and fell in
irregular succession through the extent of a vast empire? Nor
can the number of thirty be completed, unless we include in the
account the women and children who were honored with the Imperial
title. The reign of Gallienus, distracted as it was, produced
only nineteen pretenders to the throne: Cyriades, Macrianus,
Balista, Odenathus, and Zenobia, in the East; in Gaul, and the
western provinces, Posthumus, Lollianus, Victorinus, and his
mother Victoria, Marius, and Tetricus; in Illyricum and the
confines of the Danube, Ingenuus, Regillianus, and Aureolus; in
Pontus, ^158 Saturninus; in Isauria, Trebellianus; Piso in
Thessaly; Valens in Achaia; Aemilianus in Egypt; and Celsus in
Africa. ^* To illustrate the obscure monuments of the life and
death of each individual, would prove a laborious task, alike
barren of instruction and of amusement. We may content ourselves
with investigating some general characters, that most strongly
mark the condition of the times, and the manners of the men,
their pretensions, their motives, their fate, and their
destructive consequences of their usurpation. ^159

[Footnote 157: Pollio expresses the most minute anxiety to
complete the number.

Note: Compare a dissertation of Manso on the thirty tyrants
at the end of his Leben Constantius des Grossen. Breslau, 1817.
- M.]

[Footnote 158: The place of his reign is somewhat doubtful; but
there was a tyrant in Pontus, and we are acquainted with the seat
of all the others.]
[Footnote *: Captain Smyth, in his "Catalogue of Medals," p. 307,
substitutes two new names to make up the number of nineteen, for
those of Odenathus and Zenobia. He subjoins this list: -
1. 2. 3. Of
those whose coins Those whose coins Those of whom no
are undoubtedly true. are suspected. coins are
known. Posthumus. Cyriades.
Valens. Laelianus, (Lollianus, G.) Ingenuus.
Balista Victorinus Celsus.
Saturninus. Marius. Piso Frugi.
Trebellianus. Tetricus.

- M. 1815 Macrianus.
Regalianus (Regillianus, G.)
Alex. Aemilianus.
Sulpicius Antoninus]

[Footnote 159: Tillemont, tom. iii. p. 1163, reckons them
somewhat differently.]

It is sufficiently known, that the odious appellation of
Tyrant was often employed by the ancients to express the illegal
seizure of supreme power, without any reference to the abuse of
it. Several of the pretenders, who raised the standard of
rebellion against the emperor Gallienus, were shining models of
virtue, and almost all possessed a considerable share of vigor
and ability. Their merit had recommended them to the favor of
Valerian, and gradually promoted them to the most important
commands of the empire. The generals, who assumed the title of
Augustus, were either respected by their troops for their able
conduct and severe discipline, or admired for valor and success
in war, or beloved for frankness and generosity. The field of
victory was often the scene of their election; and even the
armorer Marius, the most contemptible of all the candidates for
the purple, was distinguished, however by intrepid courage,
matchless strength, and blunt honesty. ^160 His mean and recent
trade cast, indeed, an air of ridicule on his elevation; ^* but
his birth could not be more obscure than was that of the greater
part of his rivals, who were born of peasants, and enlisted in
the army as private soldiers. In times of confusion, every
active genius finds the place assigned him by nature: in a
general state of war, military merit is the road to glory and to
greatness. Of the nineteen tyrants Tetricus only was a senator;
Piso alone was a noble. The blood of Numa, through twenty-eight
successive generations, ran in the veins of Calphurnius Piso,
^161 who, by female alliances, claimed a right of exhibiting, in
his house, the images of Crassus and of the great Pompey. ^162
His ancestors had been repeatedly dignified with all the honors
which the commonwealth could bestow; and of all the ancient
families of Rome, the Calphurnian alone had survived the tyranny
of the Caesars. The personal qualities of Piso added new lustre
to his race. The usurper Valens, by whose order he was killed,
confessed, with deep remorse, that even an enemy ought to have
respected the sanctity of Piso; and although he died in arms
against Gallienus, the senate, with the emperor's generous
permission, decreed the triumphal ornaments to the memory of so
virtuous a rebel. ^163
[See Roman Coins: From The British Museum. Number four depicts
[Footnote 160: See the speech of Marius in the Augustan History,
p. 197. The accidental identity of names was the only
circumstance that could tempt Pollio to imitate Sallust.]

[Footnote *: Marius was killed by a soldier, who had formerly
served as a workman in his shop, and who exclaimed, as he struck,
"Behold the sword which thyself hast forged." Trob vita. - G.]

[Footnote 161: "Vos, O Pompilius sanguis!" is Horace's address to
the Pisos See Art. Poet. v. 292, with Dacier's and Sanadon's
[Footnote 162: Tacit. Annal. xv. 48. Hist. i. 15. In the former
of these passages we may venture to change paterna into materna.
In every generation from Augustus to Alexander Severus, one or
more Pisos appear as consuls. A Piso was deemed worthy of the
throne by Augustus, (Tacit. Annal. i. 13;) a second headed a
formidable conspiracy against Nero; and a third was adopted, and
declared Caesar, by Galba.]

[Footnote 163: Hist. August. p. 195. The senate, in a moment of
enthusiasm, seems to have presumed on the approbation of

The lieutenants of Valerian were grateful to the father,
whom they esteemed. They disdained to serve the luxurious
indolence of his unworthy son. The throne of the Roman world was
unsupported by any principle of loyalty; and treason against such
a prince might easily be considered as patriotism to the state.
Yet if we examine with candor the conduct of these usurpers, it
will appear, that they were much oftener driven into rebellion by
their fears, than urged to it by their ambition. They dreaded
the cruel suspicions of Gallienus; they equally dreaded the
capricious violence of their troops. If the dangerous favor of
the army had imprudently declared them deserving of the purple,
they were marked for sure destruction; and even prudence would
counsel them to secure a short enjoyment of empire, and rather to
try the fortune of war than to expect the hand of an executioner.

When the clamor of the soldiers invested the reluctant victims
with the ensigns of sovereign authority, they sometimes mourned
in secret their approaching fate. "You have lost," said
Saturninus, on the day of his elevation, "you have lost a useful
commander, and you have made a very wretched emperor." ^164
[Footnote 164: Hist. August p. 196.]

The apprehensions of Saturninus were justified by the
repeated experience of revolutions. Of the nineteen tyrants who
started up under the reign of Gallienus, there was not one who
enjoyed a life of peace, or a natural death. As soon as they
were invested with the bloody purple, they inspired their
adherents with the same fears and ambition which had occasioned
their own revolt. Encompassed with domestic conspiracy, military
sedition, and civil war, they trembled on the edge of precipices,
in which, after a longer or shorter term of anxiety, they were
inevitably lost. These precarious monarchs received, however,
such honors as the flattery of their respective armies and
provinces could bestow; but their claim, founded on rebellion,
could never obtain the sanction of law or history. Italy, Rome,
and the senate, constantly adhered to the cause of Gallienus, and
he alone was considered as the sovereign of the empire. That
prince condescended, indeed, to acknowledge the victorious arms
of Odenathus, who deserved the honorable distinction, by the
respectful conduct which he always maintained towards the son of
Valerian. With the general applause of the Romans, and the
consent of Gallienus, the senate conferred the title of Augustus
on the brave Palmyrenian; and seemed to intrust him with the
government of the East, which he already possessed, in so
independent a manner, that, like a private succession, he
bequeathed it to his illustrious widow, Zenobia. ^165
[Footnote 165: The association of the brave Palmyrenian was the
most popular act of the whole reign of Gallienus. Hist. August.
p. 180.]
The rapid and perpetual transitions from the cottage to the
throne, and from the throne to the grave, might have amused an
indifferent philosopher; were it possible for a philosopher to
remain indifferent amidst the general calamities of human kind.
The election of these precarious emperors, their power and their
death, were equally destructive to their subjects and adherents.
The price of their fatal elevation was instantly discharged to
the troops by an immense donative, drawn from the bowels of the
exhausted people. However virtuous was their character, however
pure their intentions, they found themselves reduced to the hard
necessity of supporting their usurpation by frequent acts of
rapine and cruelty. When they fell, they involved armies and
provinces in their fall. There is still extant a most savage
mandate from Gallienus to one of his ministers, after the
suppression of Ingenuus, who had assumed the purple in Illyricum.

"It is not enough," says that soft but inhuman prince, "that you
exterminate such as have appeared in arms; the chance of battle
might have served me as effectually. The male sex of every age
must be extirpated; provided that, in the execution of the
children and old men, you can contrive means to save our
reputation. Let every one die who has dropped an expression, who
has entertained a thought against me, against me, the son of
Valerian, the father and brother of so many princes. ^166
Remember that Ingenuus was made emperor: tear, kill, hew in
pieces. I write to you with my own hand, and would inspire you
with my own feelings." ^167 Whilst the public forces of the state
were dissipated in private quarrels, the defenceless provinces
lay exposed to every invader. The bravest usurpers were
compelled, by the perplexity of their situation, to conclude
ignominious treaties with the common enemy, to purchase with
oppressive tributes the neutrality or services of the Barbarians,
and to introduce hostile and independent nations into the heart
of the Roman monarchy. ^168

[Footnote 166: Gallienus had given the titles of Caesar and
Augustus to his son Saloninus, slain at Cologne by the usurper
Posthumus. A second son of Gallienus succeeded to the name and
rank of his elder brother Valerian, the brother of Gallienus, was
also associated to the empire: several other brothers, sisters,
nephews, and nieces of the emperor formed a very numerous royal
family. See Tillemont, tom iii, and M. de Brequigny in the
Memoires de l'Academie, tom xxxii p. 262.]

[Footnote 167: Hist. August. p. 188.]

[Footnote 168: Regillianus had some bands of Roxolani in his
service; Posthumus a body of Franks. It was, perhaps, in the
character of auxiliaries that the latter introduced themselves
into Spain.]

Such were the barbarians, and such the tyrants, who, under
the reigns of Valerian and Gallienus, dismembered the provinces,
and reduced the empire to the lowest pitch of disgrace and ruin,
from whence it seemed impossible that it should ever emerge. As
far as the barrenness of materials would permit, we have
attempted to trace, with order and perspicuity, the general
events of that calamitous period. There still remain some
particular facts; I. The disorders of Sicily; II. The tumults
of Alexandria; and, III. The rebellion of the Isaurians, which
may serve to reflect a strong light on the horrid picture.

I. Whenever numerous troops of banditti, multiplied by
success and impunity, publicly defy, instead of eluding the
justice of their country, we may safely infer, that the excessive
weakness of the government is felt and abused by the lowest ranks
of the community. The situation of Sicily preserved it from the
Barbarians; nor could the disarmed province have supported a
usurper. The sufferings of that once flourishing and still
fertile island were inflicted by baser hands. A licentious crowd
of slaves and peasants reigned for a while over the plundered
country, and renewed the memory of the servile wars of more
ancient times. ^169 Devastations, of which the husbandman was
either the victim or the accomplice, must have ruined the
agriculture of Sicily; and as the principal estates were the
property of the opulent senators of Rome, who often enclosed
within a farm the territory of an old republic, it is not
improbable, that this private injury might affect the capital
more deeply, than all the conquests of the Goths or the Persians.

[Footnote 169: The Augustan History, p. 177. See Diodor. Sicul.
l. xxxiv.]
II. The foundation of Alexandria was a noble design, at
once conceived and executed by the son of Philip. The beautiful
and regular form of that great city, second only to Rome itself,
comprehended a circumference of fifteen miles; ^170 it was
peopled by three hundred thousand free inhabitants, besides at
least an equal number of slaves. ^171 The lucrative trade of
Arabia and India flowed through the port of Alexandria, to the
capital and provinces of the empire. ^* Idleness was unknown.
Some were employed in blowing of glass, others in weaving of
linen, others again manufacturing the papyrus. Either sex, and
every age, was engaged in the pursuits of industry, nor did even
the blind or the lame want occupations suited to their condition.
^172 But the people of Alexandria, a various mixture of nations,
united the vanity and inconstancy of the Greeks with the
superstition and obstinacy of the Egyptians. The most trifling
occasion, a transient scarcity of flesh or lentils, the neglect
of an accustomed salutation, a mistake of precedency in the
public baths, or even a religious dispute, ^173 were at any time
sufficient to kindle a sedition among that vast multitude, whose
resentments were furious and implacable. ^174 After the captivity
of Valerian and the insolence of his son had relaxed the
authority of the laws, the Alexandrians abandoned themselves to
the ungoverned rage of their passions, and their unhappy country
was the theatre of a civil war, which continued (with a few short
and suspicious truces) above twelve years. ^175 All intercourse
was cut off between the several quarters of the afflicted city,
every street was polluted with blood, every building of strength
converted into a citadel; nor did the tumults subside till a
considerable part of Alexandria was irretrievably ruined. The
spacious and magnificent district of Bruchion, ^* with its
palaces and musaeum, the residence of the kings and philosophers
of Egypt, is described above a century afterwards, as already
reduced to its present state of dreary solitude. ^176

[Footnote 170: Plin. Hist. Natur. v. 10.]

[Footnote 171: Diodor. Sicul. l. xvii. p. 590, edit. Wesseling.]

[Footnote *: Berenice, or Myos-Hormos, on the Red Sea, received
the eastern commodities. From thence they were transported to
the Nile, and down the Nile to Alexandria. - M.]

[Footnote 172: See a very curious letter of Hadrian, in the
Augustan History, p. 245.]

[Footnote 173: Such as the sacrilegious murder of a divine cat.
See Diodor. Sicul. l. i.

Note: The hostility between the Jewish and Grecian part of
the population afterwards between the two former and the
Christian, were unfailing causes of tumult, sedition, and
massacre. In no place were the religious disputes, after the
establishment of Christianity, more frequent or more sanguinary.
See Philo. de Legat. Hist. of Jews, ii. 171, iii. 111, 198.
Gibbon, iii c. xxi. viii. c. xlvii. - M.]

[Footnote 174: Hist. August. p. 195. This long and terrible
sedition was first occasioned by a dispute between a soldier and
a townsman about a pair of shoes.]

[Footnote 175: Dionysius apud. Euses. Hist. Eccles. vii. p. 21.
Ammian xxii. 16.]

[Footnote *: The Bruchion was a quarter of Alexandria which
extended along the largest of the two ports, and contained many
palaces, inhabited by the Ptolemies. D'Anv. Geogr. Anc. iii. 10.
- G.]

[Footnote 176: Scaliger. Animadver. ad Euseb. Chron. p. 258.
Three dissertations of M. Bonamy, in the Mem. de l'Academie, tom.
III. The obscure rebellion of Trebellianus, who assumed the
purple in Isauria, a petty province of Asia Minor, was attended
with strange and memorable consequences. The pageant of royalty
was soon destroyed by an officer of Gallienus; but his followers,
despairing of mercy, resolved to shake off their allegiance, not
only to the emperor, but to the empire, and suddenly returned to
the savage manners from which they had never perfectly been
reclaimed. Their craggy rocks, a branch of the wide-extended
Taurus, protected their inaccessible retreat. The tillage of
some fertile valleys ^177 supplied them with necessaries, and a
habit of rapine with the luxuries of life. In the heart of the
Roman monarchy, the Isaurians long continued a nation of wild
barbarians. Succeeding princes, unable to reduce them to
obedience, either by arms or policy, were compelled to
acknowledge their weakness, by surrounding the hostile and
independent spot with a strong chain of fortifications, ^178
which often proved insufficient to restrain the incursions of
these domestic foes. The Isaurians, gradually extending their
territory to the sea-coast, subdued the western and mountainous
part of Cilicia, formerly the nest of those daring pirates,
against whom the republic had once been obliged to exert its
utmost force, under the conduct of the great Pompey. ^179

[Footnote 177: Strabo, l. xiii. p. 569.]

[Footnote 178: Hist. August. p. 197.]

[Footnote 179: See Cellarius, Geogr Antiq. tom. ii. p. 137, upon
the limits of Isauria.]

Our habits of thinking so fondly connect the order of the
universe with the fate of man, that this gloomy period of history
has been decorated with inundations, earthquakes, uncommon
meteors, preternatural darkness, and a crowd of prodigies
fictitious or exaggerated. ^180 But a long and general famine was
a calamity of a more serious kind. It was the inevitable
consequence of rapine and oppression, which extirpated the
produce of the present, and the hope of future harvests. Famine
is almost always followed by epidemical diseases, the effect of
scanty and unwholesome food. Other causes must, however, have
contributed to the furious plague, which, from the year two
hundred and fifty to the year two hundred and sixty-five, raged
without interruption in every province, every city, and almost
every family, of the Roman empire. During some time five
thousand persons died daily in Rome; and many towns, that had
escaped the hands of the Barbarians, were entirely depopulated.

[Footnote 180: Hist August p 177.]

[Footnote 181: Hist. August. p. 177. Zosimus, l. i. p. 24.
Zonaras, l. xii. p. 623. Euseb. Chronicon. Victor in Epitom.
Victor in Caesar. Eutropius, ix. 5. Orosius, vii. 21.]

We have the knowledge of a very curious circumstance, of
some use perhaps in the melancholy calculation of human
calamities. An exact register was kept at Alexandria of all the
citizens entitled to receive the distribution of corn. It was
found, that the ancient number of those comprised between the
ages of forty and seventy, had been equal to the whole sum of
claimants, from fourteen to fourscore years of age, who remained
alive after the reign of Gallienus. ^182 Applying this authentic
fact to the most correct tables of mortality, it evidently
proves, that above half the people of Alexandria had perished;
and could we venture to extend the analogy to the other
provinces, we might suspect, that war, pestilence, and famine,
had consumed, in a few years, the moiety of the human species.
[Footnote 182: Euseb. Hist. Eccles. vii. 21. The fact is taken
from the Letters of Dionysius, who, in the time of those
troubles, was bishop of Alexandria.]

[Footnote 183: In a great number of parishes, 11,000 persons were
found between fourteen and eighty; 5365 between forty and
seventy. See Buffon, Histoire Naturelle, tom. ii. p. 590.]

Chapter XI: Reign Of Claudius, Defeat Of The Goths.

Part I.

Reign Of Claudius. - Defeat Of The Goths. - Victories, Triumph,
And Death Of Aurelian.

Under the deplorable reigns of Valerian and Gallienus, the
empire was oppressed and almost destroyed by the soldiers, the
tyrants, and the barbarians. It was saved by a series of great
princes, who derived their obscure origin from the martial
provinces of Illyricum. Within a period of about thirty years,
Claudius, Aurelian, Probus, Diocletian and his colleagues,
triumphed over the foreign and domestic enemies of the state,
reestablished, with the military discipline, the strength of the
frontiers, and deserved the glorious title of Restorers of the
Roman world.
The removal of an effeminate tyrant made way for a
succession of heroes. The indignation of the people imputed all
their calamities to Gallienus, and the far greater part were
indeed, the consequence of his dissolute manners and careless
administration. He was even destitute of a sense of honor, which
so frequently supplies the absence of public virtue; and as long
as he was permitted to enjoy the possession of Italy, a victory
of the barbarians, the loss of a province, or the rebellion of a
general, seldom disturbed the tranquil course of his pleasures.
At length, a considerable army, stationed on the Upper Danube,
invested with the Imperial purple their leader Aureolus; who,
disdaining a confined and barren reign over the mountains of
Rhaetia, passed the Alps, occupied Milan, threatened Rome, and
challenged Gallienus to dispute in the field the sovereignty of
Italy. The emperor, provoked by the insult, and alarmed by the
instant danger, suddenly exerted that latent vigor which
sometimes broke through the indolence of his temper. Forcing
himself from the luxury of the palace, he appeared in arms at the
head of his legions, and advanced beyond the Po to encounter his
competitor. The corrupted name of Pontirolo ^1 still preserves
the memory of a bridge over the Adda, which, during the action,
must have proved an object of the utmost importance to both
armies. The Rhaetian usurper, after receiving a total defeat and
a dangerous wound, retired into Milan. The siege of that great
city was immediately formed; the walls were battered with every
engine in use among the ancients; and Aureolus, doubtful of his
internal strength, and hopeless of foreign succors already
anticipated the fatal consequences of unsuccessful rebellion.

[Footnote 1: Pons Aureoli, thirteen miles from Bergamo, and
thirty-two from Milan. See Cluver. Italia, Antiq. tom. i. p.
245. Near this place, in the year 1703, the obstinate battle of
Cassano was fought between the French and Austrians. The
excellent relation of the Chevalier de Folard, who was present,
gives a very distinct idea of the ground. See Polybe de Folard,
tom. iii. p. 233-248.]

His last resource was an attempt to seduce the loyalty of
the besiegers. He scattered libels through the camp, inviting the
troops to desert an unworthy master, who sacrificed the public
happiness to his luxury, and the lives of his most valuable
subjects to the slightest suspicions. The arts of Aureolus
diffused fears and discontent among the principal officers of his
rival. A conspiracy was formed by Heraclianus the Praetorian
praefect, by Marcian, a general of rank and reputation, and by
Cecrops, who commanded a numerous body of Dalmatian guards. The
death of Gallienus was resolved; and notwithstanding their desire
of first terminating the siege of Milan, the extreme danger which
accompanied every moment's delay obliged them to hasten the
execution of their daring purpose. At a late hour of the night,
but while the emperor still protracted the pleasures of the
table, an alarm was suddenly given, that Aureolus, at the head of
all his forces, had made a desperate sally from the town;
Gallienus, who was never deficient in personal bravery, started
from his silken couch, and without allowing himself time either
to put on his armor, or to assemble his guards, he mounted on
horseback, and rode full speed towards the supposed place of the
attack. Encompassed by his declared or concealed enemies, he
soon, amidst the nocturnal tumult, received a mortal dart from an
uncertain hand. Before he expired, a patriotic sentiment using
in the mind of Gallienus, induced him to name a deserving
successor; and it was his last request, that the Imperial
ornaments should be delivered to Claudius, who then commanded a
detached army in the neighborhood of Pavia. The report at least
was diligently propagated, and the order cheerfully obeyed by the
conspirators, who had already agreed to place Claudius on the
throne. On the first news of the emperor's death, the troops
expressed some suspicion and resentment, till the one was
removed, and the other assuaged, by a donative of twenty pieces
of gold to each soldier. They then ratified the election, and
acknowledged the merit of their new sovereign. ^2

[Footnote 2: On the death of Gallienus, see Trebellius Pollio in
Hist. August. p. 181. Zosimus, l. i. p. 37. Zonaras, l. xii. p.
634. Eutrop. ix. ll. Aurelius Victor in Epitom. Victor in
Caesar. I have compared and blended them all, but have chiefly
followed Aurelius Victor, who seems to have had the best

The obscurity which covered the origin of Claudius, though
it was afterwards embellished by some flattering fictions, ^3
sufficiently betrays the meanness of his birth. We can only
discover that he was a native of one of the provinces bordering
on the Danube; that his youth was spent in arms, and that his
modest valor attracted the favor and confidence of Decius. The
senate and people already considered him as an excellent officer,
equal to the most important trusts; and censured the inattention
of Valerian, who suffered him to remain in the subordinate
station of a tribune. But it was not long before that emperor
distinguished the merit of Claudius, by declaring him general and
chief of the Illyrian frontier, with the command of all the
troops in Thrace, Maesia, Dacia, Pannonia, and Dalmatia, the
appointments of the praefect of Egypt, the establishment of the
proconsul of Africa, and the sure prospect of the consulship. By
his victories over the Goths, he deserved from the senate the
honor of a statue, and excited the jealous apprehensions of
Gallienus. It was impossible that a soldier could esteem so
dissolute a sovereign, nor is it easy to conceal a just contempt.
Some unguarded expressions which dropped from Claudius were
officiously transmitted to the royal ear. The emperor's answer
to an officer of confidence describes in very lively colors his
own character, and that of the times. "There is not any thing
capable of giving me more serious concern, than the intelligence
contained in your last despatch; ^4 that some malicious
suggestions have indisposed towards us the mind of our friend and
parent Claudius. As you regard your allegiance, use every means
to appease his resentment, but conduct your negotiation with
secrecy; let it not reach the knowledge of the Dacian troops;
they are already provoked, and it might inflame their fury. I
myself have sent him some presents: be it your care that he
accept them with pleasure. Above all, let him not suspect that I
am made acquainted with his imprudence. The fear of my anger
might urge him to desperate counsels." ^5 The presents which
accompanied this humble epistle, in which the monarch solicited a
reconciliation with his discontented subject, consisted of a
considerable sum of money, a splendid wardrobe, and a valuable
service of silver and gold plate. By such arts Gallienus
softened the indignation and dispelled the fears of his Illyrian
general; and during the remainder of that reign, the formidable
sword of Claudius was always drawn in the cause of a master whom
he despised. At last, indeed, he received from the conspirators
the bloody purple of Gallienus: but he had been absent from their
camp and counsels; and however he might applaud the deed, we may
candidly presume that he was innocent of the knowledge of it. ^6
When Claudius ascended the throne, he was about fifty-four years
of age.
[Footnote 3: Some supposed him, oddly enough, to be a bastard of
the younger Gordian. Others took advantage of the province of
Dardania, to deduce his origin from Dardanus, and the ancient
kings of Troy.]

[Footnote 4: Notoria, a periodical and official despatch which
the emperor received from the frumentarii, or agents dispersed
through the provinces. Of these we may speak hereafter.]

[Footnote 5: Hist. August. p. 208. Gallienus describes the
plate, vestments, etc., like a man who loved and understood those
splendid trifles.]
[Footnote 6: Julian (Orat. i. p. 6) affirms that Claudius
acquired the empire in a just and even holy manner. But we may
distrust the partiality of a kinsman.]

The siege of Milan was still continued, and Aureolus soon
discovered that the success of his artifices had only raised up a
more determined adversary. He attempted to negotiate with
Claudius a treaty of alliance and partition. "Tell him," replied
the intrepid emperor, "that such proposals should have been made
to Gallienus; he, perhaps, might have listened to them with
patience, and accepted a colleague as despicable as himself." ^7
This stern refusal, and a last unsuccessful effort, obliged
Aureolus to yield the city and himself to the discretion of the
conqueror. The judgment of the army pronounced him worthy of
death; and Claudius, after a feeble resistance, consented to the
execution of the sentence. Nor was the zeal of the senate less
ardent in the cause of their new sovereign. They ratified,
perhaps with a sincere transport of zeal, the election of
Claudius; and, as his predecessor had shown himself the personal
enemy of their order, they exercised, under the name of justice,
a severe revenge against his friends and family. The senate was
permitted to discharge the ungrateful office of punishment, and
the emperor reserved for himself the pleasure and merit of
obtaining by his intercession a general act of indemnity. ^8
[Footnote 7: Hist. August. p. 203. There are some trifling
differences concerning the circumstances of the last defeat and
death of Aureolus]
[Footnote 8: Aurelius Victor in Gallien. The people loudly
prayed for the damnation of Gallienus. The senate decreed that
his relations and servants should be thrown down headlong from
the Gemonian stairs. An obnoxious officer of the revenue had his
eyes torn out whilst under examination.
Note: The expression is curious, "terram matrem deosque
inferos impias uti Gallieno darent." - M.]

Such ostentatious clemency discovers less of the real
character of Claudius, than a trifling circumstance in which he
seems to have consulted only the dictates of his heart. The
frequent rebellions of the provinces had involved almost every
person in the guilt of treason, almost every estate in the case
of confiscation; and Gallienus often displayed his liberality by
distributing among his officers the property of his subjects. On
the accession of Claudius, an old woman threw herself at his
feet, and complained that a general of the late emperor had
obtained an arbitrary grant of her patrimony. This general was
Claudius himself, who had not entirely escaped the contagion of
the times. The emperor blushed at the reproach, but deserved the
confidence which she had reposed in his equity. The confession
of his fault was accompanied with immediate and ample
restitution. ^9
[Footnote 9: Zonaras, l. xii. p. 137.]

In the arduous task which Claudius had undertaken, of
restoring the empire to its ancient splendor, it was first
necessary to revive among his troops a sense of order and
obedience. With the authority of a veteran commander, he
represented to them that the relaxation of discipline had
introduced a long train of disorders, the effects of which were
at length experienced by the soldiers themselves; that a people
ruined by oppression, and indolent from despair, could no longer
supply a numerous army with the means of luxury, or even of
subsistence; that the danger of each individual had increased
with the despotism of the military order, since princes who
tremble on the throne will guard their safety by the instant
sacrifice of every obnoxious subject. The emperor expiated on
the mischiefs of a lawless caprice, which the soldiers could only
gratify at the expense of their own blood; as their seditious
elections had so frequently been followed by civil wars, which
consumed the flower of the legions either in the field of battle,
or in the cruel abuse of victory. He painted in the most lively
colors the exhausted state of the treasury, the desolation of the
provinces, the disgrace of the Roman name, and the insolent
triumph of rapacious barbarians. It was against those barbarians,
he declared, that he intended to point the first effort of their
arms. Tetricus might reign for a while over the West, and even
Zenobia might preserve the dominion of the East. ^10 These
usurpers were his personal adversaries; nor could he think of
indulging any private resentment till he had saved an empire,
whose impending ruin would, unless it was timely prevented, crush
both the army and the people.

[Footnote 10: Zonaras on this occasion mentions Posthumus but the
registers of the senate (Hist. August. p. 203) prove that
Tetricus was already emperor of the western provinces.]

The various nations of Germany and Sarmatia, who fought
under the Gothic standard, had already collected an armament more
formidable than any which had yet issued from the Euxine. On the
banks of the Niester, one of the great rivers that discharge
themselves into that sea, they constructed a fleet of two
thousand, or even of six thousand vessels; ^11 numbers which,
however incredible they may seem, would have been insufficient to
transport their pretended army of three hundred and twenty
thousand barbarians. Whatever might be the real strength of the
Goths, the vigor and success of the expedition were not adequate
to the greatness of the preparations. In their passage through
the Bosphorus, the unskilful pilots were overpowered by the
violence of the current; and while the multitude of their ships
were crowded in a narrow channel, many were dashed against each
other, or against the shore. The barbarians made several
descents on the coasts both of Europe and Asia; but the open
country was already plundered, and they were repulsed with shame
and loss from the fortified cities which they assaulted. A
spirit of discouragement and division arose in the fleet, and
some of their chiefs sailed away towards the islands of Crete and
Cyprus; but the main body, pursuing a more steady course,
anchored at length near the foot of Mount Athos, and assaulted
the city of Thessalonica, the wealthy capital of all the
Macedonian provinces. Their attacks, in which they displayed a
fierce but artless bravery, were soon interrupted by the rapid
approach of Claudius, hastening to a scene of action that
deserved the presence of a warlike prince at the head of the
remaining powers of the empire. Impatient for battle, the Goths
immediately broke up their camp, relinquished the siege of
Thessalonica, left their navy at the foot of Mount Athos,
traversed the hills of Macedonia, and pressed forwards to engage
the last defence of Italy.
[Footnote 11: The Augustan History mentions the smaller, Zonaras
the larger number; the lively fancy of Montesquieu induced him to
prefer the latter.]
We still posses an original letter addressed by Claudius to
the senate and people on this memorable occasion. "Conscript
fathers," says the emperor, "know that three hundred and twenty
thousand Goths have invaded the Roman territory. If I vanquish
them, your gratitude will reward my services. Should I fall,
remember that I am the successor of Gallienus. The whole
republic is fatigued and exhausted. We shall fight after
Valerian, after Ingenuus, Regillianus, Lollianus, Posthumus,
Celsus, and a thousand others, whom a just contempt for Gallienus
provoked into rebellion. We are in want of darts, of spears, and
of shields. The strength of the empire, Gaul, and Spain, are
usurped by Tetricus, and we blush to acknowledge that the archers
of the East serve under the banners of Zenobia. Whatever we
shall perform will be sufficiently great." ^12 The melancholy
firmness of this epistle announces a hero careless of his fate,
conscious of his danger, but still deriving a well-grounded hope
from the resources of his own mind.
[Footnote 12: Trebell. Pollio in Hist. August. p. 204.]

The event surpassed his own expectations and those of the
world. By the most signal victories he delivered the empire from
this host of barbarians, and was distinguished by posterity under
the glorious appellation of the Gothic Claudius. The imperfect
historians of an irregular war ^13 do not enable as to describe
the order and circumstances of his exploits; but, if we could be
indulged in the allusion, we might distribute into three acts
this memorable tragedy. I. The decisive battle was fought near
Naissus, a city of Dardania. The legions at first gave way,
oppressed by numbers, and dismayed by misfortunes. Their ruin
was inevitable, had not the abilities of their emperor prepared a
seasonable relief. A large detachment, rising out of the secret
and difficult passes of the mountains, which, by his order, they
had occupied, suddenly assailed the rear of the victorious Goths.

The favorable instant was improved by the activity of Claudius.
He revived the courage of his troops, restored their ranks, and
pressed the barbarians on every side. Fifty thousand men are
reported to have been slain in the battle of Naissus. Several
large bodies of barbarians, covering their retreat with a movable
fortification of wagons, retired, or rather escaped, from the
field of slaughter. II. We may presume that some insurmountable
difficulty, the fatigue, perhaps, or the disobedience, of the
conquerors, prevented Claudius from completing in one day the
destruction of the Goths. The war was diffused over the province
of Maesia, Thrace, and Macedonia, and its operations drawn out
into a variety of marches, surprises, and tumultuary engagements,
as well by sea as by land. When the Romans suffered any loss, it
was commonly occasioned by their own cowardice or rashness; but
the superior talents of the emperor, his perfect knowledge of the
country, and his judicious choice of measures as well as
officers, assured on most occasions the success of his arms. The
immense booty, the fruit of so many victories, consisted for the
greater part of cattle and slaves. A select body of the Gothic
youth was received among the Imperial troops; the remainder was
sold into servitude; and so considerable was the number of female
captives, that every soldier obtained to his share two or three
women. A circumstance from which we may conclude, that the
invaders entertained some designs of settlement as well as of
plunder; since even in a naval expedition, they were accompanied
by their families. III. The loss of their fleet, which was
either taken or sunk, had intercepted the retreat of the Goths.
A vast circle of Roman posts, distributed with skill, supported
with firmness, and gradually closing towards a common centre,
forced the barbarians into the most inaccessible parts of Mount
Haemus, where they found a safe refuge, but a very scanty
subsistence. During the course of a rigorous winter in which
they were besieged by the emperor's troops, famine and
pestilence, desertion and the sword, continually diminished the
imprisoned multitude. On the return of spring, nothing appeared
in arms except a hardy and desperate band, the remnant of that
mighty host which had embarked at the mouth of the Niester.

[Footnote 13: Hist. August. in Claud. Aurelian. et Prob.
Zosimus, l. i. p. 38-42. Zonaras, l. xii. p. 638. Aurel. Victor
in Epitom. Victor Junior in Caesar. Eutrop. ix ll. Euseb. in

The pestilence which swept away such numbers of the
barbarians, at length proved fatal to their conqueror. After a
short but glorious reign of two years, Claudius expired at
Sirmium, amidst the tears and acclamations of his subjects. In
his last illness, he convened the principal officers of the state
and army, and in their presence recommended Aurelian, ^14 one of
his generals, as the most deserving of the throne, and the best
qualified to execute the great design which he himself had been
permitted only to undertake. The virtues of Claudius, his valor,
affability, justice, and temperance, his love of fame and of his
country, place him in that short list of emperors who added
lustre to the Roman purple. Those virtues, however, were
celebrated with peculiar zeal and complacency by the courtly
writers of the age of Constantine, who was the great grandson of
Crispus, the elder brother of Claudius. The voice of flattery
was soon taught to repeat, that gods, who so hastily had snatched
Claudius from the earth, rewarded his merit and piety by the
perpetual establishment of the empire in his family. ^15
[Footnote 14: According to Zonaras, (l. xii. p. 638,) Claudius,
before his death, invested him with the purple; but this singular
fact is rather contradicted than confirmed by other writers.]

[Footnote 15: See the Life of Claudius by Pollio, and the
Orations of Mamertinus, Eumenius, and Julian. See likewise the
Caesars of Julian p. 318. In Julian it was not adulation, but
superstition and vanity.]
Notwithstanding these oracles, the greatness of the Flavian
family (a name which it had pleased them to assume) was deferred
above twenty years, and the elevation of Claudius occasioned the
immediate ruin of his brother Quintilius, who possessed not
sufficient moderation or courage to descend into the private
station to which the patriotism of the late emperor had condemned
him. Without delay or reflection, he assumed the purple at
Aquileia, where he commanded a considerable force; and though his
reign lasted only seventeen days, ^* he had time to obtain the
sanction of the senate, and to experience a mutiny of the troops.

As soon as he was informed that the great army of the Danube had
invested the well-known valor of Aurelian with Imperial power, he
sunk under the fame and merit of his rival; and ordering his
veins to be opened, prudently withdrew himself from the unequal
contest. ^16

[Footnote *: Such is the narrative of the greater part of the
older historians; but the number and the variety of his medals
seem to require more time, and give probability to the report of
Zosimus, who makes him reign some months. - G.]

[Footnote 16: Zosimus, l. i. p. 42. Pollio (Hist. August. p.
107) allows him virtues, and says, that, like Pertinax, he was
killed by the licentious soldiers. According to Dexippus, he
died of a disease.]

The general design of this work will not permit us minutely
to relate the actions of every emperor after he ascended the
throne, much less to deduce the various fortunes of his private
life. We shall only observe, that the father of Aurelian was a
peasant of the territory of Sirmium, who occupied a small farm,
the property of Aurelius, a rich senator. His warlike son
enlisted in the troops as a common soldier, successively rose to
the rank of a centurion, a tribune, the praefect of a legion, the
inspector of the camp, the general, or, as it was then called,
the duke, of a frontier; and at length, during the Gothic war,
exercised the important office of commander- in-chief of the
cavalry. In every station he distinguished himself by matchless
valor, ^17 rigid discipline, and successful conduct. He was
invested with the consulship by the emperor Valerian, who styles
him, in the pompous language of that age, the deliverer of
Illyricum, the restorer of Gaul, and the rival of the Scipios.
At the recommendation of Valerian, a senator of the highest rank
and merit, Ulpius Crinitus, whose blood was derived from the same
source as that of Trajan, adopted the Pannonian peasant, gave him
his daughter in marriage, and relieved with his ample fortune the
honorable poverty which Aurelian had preserved inviolate. ^18
[Footnote 17: Theoclius (as quoted in the Augustan History, p.
211) affirms that in one day he killed with his own hand
forty-eight Sarmatians, and in several subsequent engagements
nine hundred and fifty. This heroic valor was admired by the
soldiers, and celebrated in their rude songs, the burden of which
was, mille, mile, mille, occidit.]

[Footnote 18: Acholius (ap. Hist. August. p. 213) describes the
ceremony of the adoption, as it was performed at Byzantium, in
the presence of the emperor and his great officers.]

The reign of Aurelian lasted only four years and about nine
months; but every instant of that short period was filled by some
memorable achievement. He put an end to the Gothic war, chastised
the Germans who invaded Italy, recovered Gaul, Spain, and Britain
out of the hands of Tetricus, and destroyed the proud monarchy
which Zenobia had erected in the East on the ruins of the
afflicted empire.

It was the rigid attention of Aurelian, even to the minutest
articles of discipline, which bestowed such uninterrupted success
on his arms. His military regulations are contained in a very
concise epistle to one of his inferior officers, who is commanded
to enforce them, as he wishes to become a tribune, or as he is
desirous to live. Gaming, drinking, and the arts of divination,
were severely prohibited. Aurelian expected that his soldiers
should be modest, frugal, and laborous; that their armor should
be constantly kept bright, their weapons sharp, their clothing
and horses ready for immediate service; that they should live in
their quarters with chastity and sobriety, without damaging the
cornfields, without stealing even a sheep, a fowl, or a bunch of
grapes, without exacting from their landlords, either salt, or
oil, or wood. "The public allowance," continues the emperor, "is
sufficient for their support; their wealth should be collected
from the spoils of the enemy, not from the tears of the
provincials." ^19 A single instance will serve to display the
rigor, and even cruelty, of Aurelian. One of the soldiers had
seduced the wife of his host. The guilty wretch was fastened to
two trees forcibly drawn towards each other, and his limbs were
torn asunder by their sudden separation. A few such examples
impressed a salutary consternation. The punishments of Aurelian
were terrible; but he had seldom occasion to punish more than
once the same offence. His own conduct gave a sanction to his
laws, and the seditious legions dreaded a chief who had learned
to obey, and who was worthy to command.
[Footnote 19: Hist. August, p. 211 This laconic epistle is truly
the work of a soldier; it abounds with military phrases and
words, some of which cannot be understood without difficulty.
Ferramenta samiata is well explained by Salmasius. The former of
the words means all weapons of offence, and is contrasted with
Arma, defensive armor The latter signifies keen and well

Chapter XI: Reign Of Claudius, Defeat Of The Goths.

Part II.

The death of Claudius had revived the fainting spirit of the
Goths. The troops which guarded the passes of Mount Haemus, and
the banks of the Danube, had been drawn away by the apprehension
of a civil war; and it seems probable that the remaining body of
the Gothic and Vandalic tribes embraced the favorable
opportunity, abandoned their settlements of the Ukraine,
traversed the rivers, and swelled with new multitudes the
destroying host of their countrymen. Their united numbers were
at length encountered by Aurelian, and the bloody and doubtful
conflict ended only with the approach of night. ^20 Exhausted by
so many calamities, which they had mutually endured and inflicted
during a twenty years' war, the Goths and the Romans consented to
a lasting and beneficial treaty. It was earnestly solicited by
the barbarians, and cheerfully ratified by the legions, to whose
suffrage the prudence of Aurelian referred the decision of that
important question. The Gothic nation engaged to supply the
armies of Rome with a body of two thousand auxiliaries,
consisting entirely of cavalry, and stipulated in return an
undisturbed retreat, with a regular market as far as the Danube,
provided by the emperor's care, but at their own expense. The
treaty was observed with such religious fidelity, that when a
party of five hundred men straggled from the camp in quest of
plunder, the king or general of the barbarians commanded that the
guilty leader should be apprehended and shot to death with darts,
as a victim devoted to the sanctity of their engagements. ^* It
is, however, not unlikely, that the precaution of Aurelian, who
had exacted as hostages the sons and daughters of the Gothic
chiefs, contributed something to this pacific temper. The youths
he trained in the exercise of arms, and near his own person: to
the damsels he gave a liberal and Roman education, and by
bestowing them in marriage on some of his principal officers,
gradually introduced between the two nations the closest and most
endearing connections. ^21
[Footnote 20: Zosimus, l. i. p. 45.]

[Footnote *: The five hundred stragglers were all slain. - M.]
[Footnote 21: Dexipphus (ap. Excerpta Legat. p. 12) relates the
whole transaction under the name of Vandals. Aurelian married
one of the Gothic ladies to his general Bonosus, who was able to
drink with the Goths and discover their secrets. Hist. August.
p. 247.]

But the most important condition of peace was understood
rather than expressed in the treaty. Aurelian withdrew the Roman
forces from Dacia, and tacitly relinquished that great province
to the Goths and Vandals. ^22 His manly judgment convinced him of
the solid advantages, and taught him to despise the seeming
disgrace, of thus contracting the frontiers of the monarchy. The
Dacian subjects, removed from those distant possessions which
they were unable to cultivate or defend, added strength and
populousness to the southern side of the Danube. A fertile
territory, which the repetition of barbarous inroads had changed
into a desert, was yielded to their industry, and a new province
of Dacia still preserved the memory of Trajan's conquests. The
old country of that name detained, however, a considerable number
of its inhabitants, who dreaded exile more than a Gothic master.
^23 These degenerate Romans continued to serve the empire, whose
allegiance they had renounced, by introducing among their
conquerors the first notions of agriculture, the useful arts, and
the conveniences of civilized life. An intercourse of commerce
and language was gradually established between the opposite banks
of the Danube; and after Dacia became an independent state, it
often proved the firmest barrier of the empire against the
invasions of the savages of the North. A sense of interest
attached these more settled barbarians to the alliance of Rome,
and a permanent interest very frequently ripens into sincere and
useful friendship. This various colony, which filled the ancient
province, and was insensibly blended into one great people, still
acknowledged the superior renown and authority of the Gothic
tribe, and claimed the fancied honor of a Scandinavian origin.
At the same time, the lucky though accidental resemblance of the
name of Getae, ^* infused among the credulous Goths a vain
persuasion, that in a remote age, their own ancestors, already
seated in the Dacian provinces, had received the instructions of
Zamolxis, and checked the victorious arms of Sesostris and
Darius. ^24

[Footnote 22: Hist. August. p. 222. Eutrop. ix. 15. Sextus
Rufus, c. 9. de Mortibus Persecutorum, c. 9.]

[Footnote 23: The Walachians still preserve many traces of the
Latin language and have boasted, in every age, of their Roman
descent. They are surrounded by, but not mixed with, the
barbarians. See a Memoir of M. d'Anville on ancient Dacia, in
the Academy of Inscriptions, tom. xxx.]

[Footnote *: The connection between the Getae and the Goths is
still in my opinion incorrectly maintained by some learned
writers - M.]
[Footnote 24: See the first chapter of Jornandes. The Vandals,
however, (c. 22,) maintained a short independence between the
Rivers Marisia and Crissia, (Maros and Keres,) which fell into
the Teiss.]

While the vigorous and moderate conduct of Aurelian restored
the Illyrian frontier, the nation of the Alemanni ^25 violated
the conditions of peace, which either Gallienus had purchased, or
Claudius had imposed, and, inflamed by their impatient youth,
suddenly flew to arms. Forty thousand horse appeared in the
field, ^26 and the numbers of the infantry doubled those of the
cavalry. ^27 The first objects of their avarice were a few cities
of the Rhaetian frontier; but their hopes soon rising with
success, the rapid march of the Alemanni traced a line of
devastation from the Danube to the Po. ^28

[Footnote 25: Dexippus, p. 7 - 12. Zosimus, l. i. p. 43.
Vopiscus in Aurelian in Hist. August. However these historians
differ in names,) Alemanni Juthungi, and Marcomanni,) it is
evident that they mean the same people, and the same war; but it
requires some care to conciliate and explain them.]

[Footnote 26: Cantoclarus, with his usual accuracy, chooses to
translate three hundred thousand: his version is equally
repugnant to sense and to grammar.]

[Footnote 27: We may remark, as an instance of bad taste, that
Dexippus applies to the light infantry of the Alemanni the
technical terms proper only to the Grecian phalanx.]

[Footnote 28: In Dexippus, we at present read Rhodanus: M. de
Valois very judiciously alters the word to Eridanus.]

The emperor was almost at the same time informed of the
irruption, and of the retreat, of the barbarians. Collecting an
active body of troops, he marched with silence and celerity along
the skirts of the Hercynian forest; and the Alemanni, laden with
the spoils of Italy, arrived at the Danube, without suspecting,
that on the opposite bank, and in an advantageous post, a Roman
army lay concealed and prepared to intercept their return.
Aurelian indulged the fatal security of the barbarians, and
permitted about half their forces to pass the river without
disturbance and without precaution. Their situation and
astonishment gave him an easy victory; his skilful conduct
improved the advantage. Disposing the legions in a semicircular
form, he advanced the two horns of the crescent across the
Danube, and wheeling them on a sudden towards the centre,
enclosed the rear of the German host. The dismayed barbarians,
on whatsoever side they cast their eyes, beheld, with despair, a
wasted country, a deep and rapid stream, a victorious and
implacable enemy.

Reduced to this distressed condition, the Alemanni no longer
disdained to sue for peace. Aurelian received their ambassadors
at the head of his camp, and with every circumstance of martial
pomp that could display the greatness and discipline of Rome.
The legions stood to their arms in well- ordered ranks and awful
silence. The principal commanders, distinguished by the ensigns
of their rank, appeared on horseback on either side of the
Imperial throne. Behind the throne the consecrated images of the
emperor, and his predecessors, ^29 the golden eagles, and the
various titles of the legions, engraved in letters of gold, were
exalted in the air on lofty pikes covered with silver. When
Aurelian assumed his seat, his manly grace and majestic figure
^30 taught the barbarians to revere the person as well as the
purple of their conqueror. The ambassadors fell prostrate on the
ground in silence. They were commanded to rise, and permitted to
speak. By the assistance of interpreters they extenuated their
perfidy, magnified their exploits, expatiated on the vicissitudes
of fortune and the advantages of peace, and, with an ill-timed
confidence, demanded a large subsidy, as the price of the
alliance which they offered to the Romans. The answer of the
emperor was stern and imperious. He treated their offer with
contempt, and their demand with indignation, reproached the
barbarians, that they were as ignorant of the arts of war as of
the laws of peace, and finally dismissed them with the choice
only of submitting to this unconditional mercy, or awaiting the
utmost severity of his resentment. ^31 Aurelian had resigned a
distant province to the Goths; but it was dangerous to trust or
to pardon these perfidious barbarians, whose formidable power
kept Italy itself in perpetual alarms.

[Footnote 29: The emperor Claudius was certainly of the number;
but we are ignorant how far this mark of respect was extended; if
to Caesar and Augustus, it must have produced a very awful
spectacle; a long line of the masters of the world.]

[Footnote 30: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 210.]

[Footnote 31: Dexippus gives them a subtle and prolix oration,
worthy of a Grecian sophist.]

Immediately after this conference, it should seem that some
unexpected emergency required the emperor's presence in Pannonia.

He devolved on his lieutenants the care of finishing the
destruction of the Alemanni, either by the sword, or by the surer
operation of famine. But an active despair has often triumphed
over the indolent assurance of success. The barbarians, finding
it impossible to traverse the Danube and the Roman camp, broke
through the posts in their rear, which were more feebly or less
carefully guarded; and with incredible diligence, but by a
different road, returned towards the mountains of Italy. ^32
Aurelian, who considered the war as totally extinguished,
received the mortifying intelligence of the escape of the
Alemanni, and of the ravage which they already committed in the
territory of Milan. The legions were commanded to follow, with
as much expedition as those heavy bodies were capable of
exerting, the rapid flight of an enemy whose infantry and cavalry
moved with almost equal swiftness. A few days afterwards, the
emperor himself marched to the relief of Italy, at the head of a
chosen body of auxiliaries, (among whom were the hostages and
cavalry of the Vandals,) and of all the Praetorian guards who had
served in the wars on the Danube. ^33

[Footnote 32: Hist. August. p. 215.]

[Footnote 33: Dexippus, p. 12.]

As the light troops of the Alemanni had spread themselves
from the Alps to the Apennine, the incessant vigilance of
Aurelian and his officers was exercised in the discovery, the
attack, and the pursuit of the numerous detachments.
Notwithstanding this desultory war, three considerable battles
are mentioned, in which the principal force of both armies was
obstinately engaged. ^34 The success was various. In the first,
fought near Placentia, the Romans received so severe a blow,
that, according to the expression of a writer extremely partial
to Aurelian, the immediate dissolution of the empire was
apprehended. ^35 The crafty barbarians, who had lined the woods,
suddenly attacked the legions in the dusk of the evening, and, it
is most probable, after the fatigue and disorder of a long march.

The fury of their charge was irresistible; but, at length, after
a dreadful slaughter, the patient firmness of the emperor rallied
his troops, and restored, in some degree, the honor of his arms.
The second battle was fought near Fano in Umbria; on the spot
which, five hundred years before, had been fatal to the brother
of Hannibal. ^36 Thus far the successful Germans had advanced
along the Aemilian and Flaminian way, with a design of sacking
the defenceless mistress of the world. But Aurelian, who,
watchful for the safety of Rome, still hung on their rear, found
in this place the decisive moment of giving them a total and
irretrievable defeat. ^37 The flying remnant of their host was
exterminated in a third and last battle near Pavia; and Italy was
delivered from the inroads of the Alemanni.

[Footnote 34: Victor Junior in Aurelian.]

[Footnote 35: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 216.]

[Footnote 36: The little river, or rather torrent, of, Metaurus,
near Fano, has been immortalized, by finding such an historian as
Livy, and such a poet as Horace.]

[Footnote 37: It is recorded by an inscription found at Pesaro.
See Gruter cclxxvi. 3.]

Fear has been the original parent of superstition, and every
new calamity urges trembling mortals to deprecate the wrath of
their invisible enemies. Though the best hope of the republic
was in the valor and conduct of Aurelian, yet such was the public
consternation, when the barbarians were hourly expected at the
gates of Rome, that, by a decree of the senate the Sibylline
books were consulted. Even the emperor himself from a motive
either of religion or of policy, recommended this salutary
measure, chided the tardiness of the senate, ^38 and offered to
supply whatever expense, whatever animals, whatever captives of
any nation, the gods should require. Notwithstanding this liberal
offer, it does not appear, that any human victims expiated with
their blood the sins of the Roman people. The Sibylline books
enjoined ceremonies of a more harmless nature, processions of
priests in white robes, attended by a chorus of youths and
virgins; lustrations of the city and adjacent country; and
sacrifices, whose powerful influence disabled the barbarians from
passing the mystic ground on which they had been celebrated.
However puerile in themselves, these superstitious arts were
subservient to the success of the war; and if, in the decisive
battle of Fano, the Alemanni fancied they saw an army of spectres
combating on the side of Aurelian, he received a real and
effectual aid from this imaginary reenforcement. ^39

[Footnote 38: One should imagine, he said, that you were
assembled in a Christian church, not in the temple of all the

[Footnote 39: Vopiscus, in Hist. August. p. 215, 216, gives a
long account of these ceremonies from the Registers of the

But whatever confidence might be placed in ideal ramparts,
the experience of the past, and the dread of the future, induced
the Romans to construct fortifications of a grosser and more
substantial kind. The seven hills of Rome had been surrounded,
by the successors of Romulus, with an ancient wall of more than
thirteen miles. ^40 The vast enclosure may seem disproportioned
to the strength and numbers of the infant state. But it was
necessary to secure an ample extent of pasture and arable land,
against the frequent and sudden incursions of the tribes of
Latium, the perpetual enemies of the republic. With the progress
of Roman greatness, the city and its inhabitants gradually
increased, filled up the vacant space, pierced through the
useless walls, covered the field of Mars, and, on every side,
followed the public highways in long and beautiful suburbs. ^41
The extent of the new walls, erected by Aurelian, and finished in
the reign of Probus, was magnified by popular estimation to near
fifty, ^42 but is reduced by accurate measurement to about
twenty-one miles. ^43 It was a great but a melancholy labor,
since the defence of the capital betrayed the decline of the
monarchy. The Romans of a more prosperous age, who trusted to the
arms of the legions the safety of the frontier camps, ^44 were
very far from entertaining a suspicion, that it would ever become
necessary to fortify the seat of empire against the inroads of
the barbarians. ^45

[Footnote 40: Plin. Hist. Natur. iii. 5. To confirm our idea, we
may observe, that for a long time Mount Caelius was a grove of
oaks, and Mount Viminal was overrun with osiers; that, in the
fourth century, the Aventine was a vacant and solitary
retirement; that, till the time of Augustus, the Esquiline was an
unwholesome burying-ground; and that the numerous inequalities,
remarked by the ancients in the Quirinal, sufficiently prove that
it was not covered with buildings. Of the seven hills, the
Capitoline and Palatine only, with the adjacent valleys, were the
primitive habitations of the Roman people. But this subject
would require a dissertation.]
[Footnote 41: Exspatiantia tecta multas addidere urbes, is the
expression of Pliny.]

[Footnote 42: Hist. August. p. 222. Both Lipsius and Isaac
Vossius have eagerly embraced this measure.]

[Footnote 43: See Nardini, Roman Antica, l. i. c. 8.

Note: But compare Gibbon, ch. xli. note 77. - M.]

[Footnote 44: Tacit. Hist. iv. 23.]

[Footnote 45: For Aurelian's walls, see Vopiscus in Hist. August.
p. 216, 222. Zosimus, l. i. p. 43. Eutropius, ix. 15. Aurel.
Victor in Aurelian Victor Junior in Aurelian. Euseb. Hieronym.
et Idatius in Chronic]
The victory of Claudius over the Goths, and the success of
Aurelian against the Alemanni, had already restored to the arms
of Rome their ancient superiority over the barbarous nations of
the North. To chastise domestic tyrants, and to reunite the
dismembered parts of the empire, was a task reserved for the
second of those warlike emperors. Though he was acknowledged by
the senate and people, the frontiers of Italy, Africa, Illyricum,
and Thrace, confined the limits of his reign. Gaul, Spain, and
Britain, Egypt, Syria, and Asia Minor, were still possessed by
two rebels, who alone, out of so numerous a list, had hitherto
escaped the dangers of their situation; and to complete the
ignominy of Rome, these rival thrones had been usurped by women.

A rapid succession of monarchs had arisen and fallen in the
provinces of Gaul. The rigid virtues of Posthumus served only to
hasten his destruction. After suppressing a competitor, who had
assumed the purple at Mentz, he refused to gratify his troops
with the plunder of the rebellious city; and in the seventh year
of his reign, became the victim of their disappointed avarice.
^46 The death of Victorinus, his friend and associate, was
occasioned by a less worthy cause. The shining accomplishments
^47 of that prince were stained by a licentious passion, which he
indulged in acts of violence, with too little regard to the laws
of society, or even to those of love. ^48 He was slain at
Cologne, by a conspiracy of jealous husbands, whose revenge would
have appeared more justifiable, had they spared the innocence of
his son. After the murder of so many valiant princes, it is
somewhat remarkable, that a female for a long time controlled the
fierce legions of Gaul, and still more singular, that she was the
mother of the unfortunate Victorinus. The arts and treasures of
Victoria enabled her successively to place Marius and Tetricus on
the throne, and to reign with a manly vigor under the name of
those dependent emperors. Money of copper, of silver, and of
gold, was coined in her name; she assumed the titles of Augusta
and Mother of the Camps: her power ended only with her life; but
her life was perhaps shortened by the ingratitude of Tetricus.

[Footnote 46: His competitor was Lollianus, or Aelianus, if,
indeed, these names mean the same person. See Tillemont, tom.
iii. p. 1177.
Note: The medals which bear the name of Lollianus are
considered forgeries except one in the museum of the Prince of
Waldeck there are many extent bearing the name of Laelianus,
which appears to have been that of the competitor of Posthumus.
Eckhel. Doct. Num. t. vi. 149 - G.]
[Footnote 47: The character of this prince by Julius Aterianus
(ap. Hist. August. p. 187) is worth transcribing, as it seems
fair and impartial Victorino qui Post Junium Posthumium Gallias
rexit neminem existemo praeferendum; non in virtute Trajanum; non
Antoninum in clementia; non in gravitate Nervam; non in
gubernando aerario Vespasianum; non in Censura totius vitae ac
severitate militari Pertinacem vel Severum. Sed omnia haec
libido et cupiditas voluptatis mulierriae sic perdidit, ut nemo
audeat virtutes ejus in literas mittere quem constat omnium
judicio meruisse puniri.]

[Footnote 48: He ravished the wife of Attitianus, an actuary, or
army agent, Hist. August. p. 186. Aurel. Victor in Aurelian.]

[Footnote 49: Pollio assigns her an article among the thirty
tyrants. Hist. August. p. 200.]

When, at the instigation of his ambitious patroness,
Tetricus assumed the ensigns of royalty, he was governor of the
peaceful province of Aquitaine, an employment suited to his
character and education. He reigned four or five years over
Gaul, Spain, and Britain, the slave and sovereign of a licentious
army, whom he dreaded, and by whom he was despised. The valor
and fortune of Aurelian at length opened the prospect of a
deliverance. He ventured to disclose his melancholy situation,
and conjured the emperor to hasten to the relief of his unhappy
rival. Had this secret correspondence reached the ears of the
soldiers, it would most probably have cost Tetricus his life; nor
could he resign the sceptre of the West without committing an act
of treason against himself. He affected the appearances of a
civil war, led his forces into the field, against Aurelian,
posted them in the most disadvantageous manner, betrayed his own
counsels to his enemy, and with a few chosen friends deserted in
the beginning of the action. The rebel legions, though
disordered and dismayed by the unexpected treachery of their
chief, defended themselves with desperate valor, till they were
cut in pieces almost to a man, in this bloody and memorable
battle, which was fought near Chalons in Champagne. ^50 The
retreat of the irregular auxiliaries, Franks and Batavians, ^51
whom the conqueror soon compelled or persuaded to repass the
Rhine, restored the general tranquillity, and the power of
Aurelian was acknowledged from the wall of Antoninus to the
columns of Hercules.
[Footnote 50: Pollio in Hist. August. p. 196. Vopiscus in Hist.
August. p. 220. The two Victors, in the lives of Gallienus and
Aurelian. Eutrop. ix. 13. Euseb. in Chron. Of all these
writers, only the two last (but with strong probability) place
the fall of Tetricus before that of Zenobia. M. de Boze (in the
Academy of Inscriptions, tom. xxx.) does not wish, and Tillemont
(tom. iii. p. 1189) does not dare to follow them. I have been
fairer than the one, and bolder than the other.]

[Footnote 51: Victor Junior in Aurelian. Eumenius mentions
Batavicoe; some critics, without any reason, would fain alter the
word to Bagandicoe.]
As early as the reign of Claudius, the city of Autun, alone
and unassisted, had ventured to declare against the legions of
Gaul. After a siege of seven months, they stormed and plundered
that unfortunate city, already wasted by famine. ^52 Lyons, on
the contrary, had resisted with obstinate disaffection the arms
of Aurelian. We read of the punishment of Lyons, ^53 but there
is not any mention of the rewards of Autun. Such, indeed, is the
policy of civil war; severely to remember injuries, and to forget
the most important services. Revenge is profitable, gratitude is

[Footnote 52: Eumen. in Vet. Panegyr. iv. 8.]

[Footnote 53: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 246. Autun was not
restored till the reign of Diocletian. See Eumenius de
restaurandis scholis.]
Aurelian had no sooner secured the person and provinces of
Tetricus, than he turned his arms against Zenobia, the celebrated
queen of Palmyra and the East. Modern Europe has produced
several illustrious women who have sustained with glory the
weight of empire; nor is our own age destitute of such
distinguished characters. But if we except the doubtful
achievements of Semiramis, Zenobia is perhaps the only female
whose superior genius broke through the servile indolence imposed
on her sex by the climate and manners of Asia. ^54 She claimed
her descent from the Macedonian kings of Egypt, ^* equalled in
beauty her ancestor Cleopatra, and far surpassed that princess in
chastity ^55 and valor. Zenobia was esteemed the most lovely as
well as the most heroic of her sex. She was of a dark
complexion, (for in speaking of a lady these trifles become
important.) Her teeth were of a pearly whiteness, and her large
black eyes sparkled with uncommon fire, tempered by the most
attractive sweetness. Her voice was strong and harmonious. Her
manly understanding was strengthened and adorned by study. She
was not ignorant of the Latin tongue, but possessed in equal
perfection the Greek, the Syriac, and the Egyptian languages.
She had drawn up for her own use an epitome of oriental history,
and familiarly compared the beauties of Homer and Plato under the
tuition of the sublime Longinus.

[Footnote 54: Almost everything that is said of the manners of
Odenathus and Zenobia is taken from their lives in the Augustan
History, by Trebeljus Pollio; see p. 192, 198.]

[Footnote *: According to some Christian writers, Zenobia was a
Jewess. (Jost Geschichte der Israel. iv. 16. Hist. of Jews, iii.
175.) - M.]
[Footnote 55: She never admitted her husband's embraces but for
the sake of posterity. If her hopes were baffled, in the ensuing
month she reiterated the experiment.]

This accomplished woman gave her hand to Odenathus, ^! who,
from a private station, raised himself to the dominion of the
East. She soon became the friend and companion of a hero. In
the intervals of war, Odenathus passionately delighted in the
exercise of hunting; he pursued with ardor the wild beasts of the
desert, lions, panthers, and bears; and the ardor of Zenobia in
that dangerous amusement was not inferior to his own. She had
inured her constitution to fatigue, disdained the use of a
covered carriage, generally appeared on horseback in a military
habit, and sometimes marched several miles on foot at the head of
the troops. The success of Odenathus was in a great measure
ascribed to her incomparable prudence and fortitude. Their
splendid victories over the Great King, whom they twice pursued
as far as the gates of Ctesiphon, laid the foundations of their
united fame and power. The armies which they commanded, and the
provinces which they had saved, acknowledged not any other
sovereigns than their invincible chiefs. The senate and people of
Rome revered a stranger who had avenged their captive emperor,
and even the insensible son of Valerian accepted Odenathus for
his legitimate colleague.

[Footnote !: According to Zosimus, Odenathus was of a noble
family in Palmyra and according to Procopius, he was prince of
the Saracens, who inhabit the ranks of the Euphrates. Echhel.
Doct. Num. vii. 489. - G.]

Chapter XI: Reign Of Claudius, Defeat Of The Goths.

Part III.

After a successful expedition against the Gothic plunderers
of Asia, the Palmyrenian prince returned to the city of Emesa in
Syria. Invincible in war, he was there cut off by domestic
treason, and his favorite amusement of hunting was the cause, or
at least the occasion, of his death. ^56 His nephew Maeonius
presumed to dart his javelin before that of his uncle; and though
admonished of his error, repeated the same insolence. As a
monarch, and as a sportsman, Odenathus was provoked, took away
his horse, a mark of ignominy among the barbarians, and chastised
the rash youth by a short confinement. The offence was soon
forgot, but the punishment was remembered; and Maeonius, with a
few daring associates, assassinated his uncle in the midst of a
great entertainment. Herod, the son of Odenathus, though not of
Zenobia, a young man of a soft and effeminate temper, ^57 was
killed with his father. But Maeonius obtained only the pleasure
of revenge by this bloody deed. He had scarcely time to assume
the title of Augustus, before he was sacrificed by Zenobia to the
memory of her husband. ^58

[Footnote 56: Hist. August. p. 192, 193. Zosimus, l. i. p. 36.
Zonaras, l. xii p. 633. The last is clear and probable, the
others confused and inconsistent. The text of Syncellus, if not
corrupt, is absolute nonsense.]
[Footnote 57: Odenathus and Zenobia often sent him, from the
spoils of the enemy, presents of gems and toys, which he received
with infinite delight.]
[Footnote 58: Some very unjust suspicions have been cast on
Zenobia, as if she was accessory to her husband's death.]

With the assistance of his most faithful friends, she
immediately filled the vacant throne, and governed with manly
counsels Palmyra, Syria, and the East, above five years. By the
death of Odenathus, that authority was at an end which the senate
had granted him only as a personal distinction; but his martial
widow, disdaining both the senate and Gallienus, obliged one of
the Roman generals, who was sent against her, to retreat into
Europe, with the loss of his army and his reputation. ^59 Instead
of the little passions which so frequently perplex a female
reign, the steady administration of Zenobia was guided by the
most judicious maxims of policy. If it was expedient to pardon,
she could calm her resentment; if it was necessary to punish, she
could impose silence on the voice of pity. Her strict economy
was accused of avarice; yet on every proper occasion she appeared
magnificent and liberal. The neighboring states of Arabia,
Armenia, and Persia, dreaded her enmity, and solicited her
alliance. To the dominions of Odenathus, which extended from the
Euphrates to the frontiers of Bithynia, his widow added the
inheritance of her ancestors, the populous and fertile kingdom of
Egypt. ^60 ^* The emperor Claudius acknowledged her merit, and
was content, that, while he pursued the Gothic war, she should
assert the dignity of the empire in the East. ^61 The conduct,
however, of Zenobia, was attended with some ambiguity; not is it
unlikely that she had conceived the design of erecting an
independent and hostile monarchy. She blended with the popular
manners of Roman princes the stately pomp of the courts of Asia,
and exacted from her subjects the same adoration that was paid to
the successor of Cyrus. She bestowed on her three sons ^61 a
Latin education, and often showed them to the troops adorned with
the Imperial purple. For herself she reserved the diadem, with
the splendid but doubtful title of Queen of the East.
[Footnote 59: Hist. August. p. 180, 181.]

[Footnote 60: See, in Hist. August. p. 198, Aurelian's testimony
to her merit; and for the conquest of Egypt, Zosimus, l. i. p.
39, 40.]
[Footnote *: This seems very doubtful. Claudius, during all his
reign, is represented as emperor on the medals of Alexandria,
which are very numerous. If Zenobia possessed any power in Egypt,
it could only have been at the beginning of the reign of
Aurelian. The same circumstance throws great improbability on
her conquests in Galatia. Perhaps Zenobia administered Egypt in
the name of Claudius, and emboldened by the death of that prince,
subjected it to her own power. - G.]

[Footnote 61: Timolaus, Herennianus, and Vaballathus. It is
supposed that the two former were already dead before the war.
On the last, Aurelian bestowed a small province of Armenia, with
the title of King; several of his medals are still extant. See
Tillemont, tom. 3, p. 1190.]
When Aurelian passed over into Asia, against an adversary
whose sex alone could render her an object of contempt, his
presence restored obedience to the province of Bithynia, already
shaken by the arms and intrigues of Zenobia. ^62 Advancing at the
head of his legions, he accepted the submission of Ancyra, and
was admitted into Tyana, after an obstinate siege, by the help of
a perfidious citizen. The generous though fierce temper of
Aurelian abandoned the traitor to the rage of the soldiers; a
superstitious reverence induced him to treat with lenity the
countrymen of Apollonius the philosopher. ^63 Antioch was
deserted on his approach, till the emperor, by his salutary
edicts, recalled the fugitives, and granted a general pardon to
all, who, from necessity rather than choice, had been engaged in
the service of the Palmyrenian Queen. The unexpected mildness of
such a conduct reconciled the minds of the Syrians, and as far as
the gates of Emesa, the wishes of the people seconded the terror
of his arms. ^64

[Footnote 62: Zosimus, l. i. p. 44.]

[Footnote 63: Vopiscus (in Hist. August. p. 217) gives us an
authentic letter and a doubtful vision, of Aurelian. Apollonius
of Tyana was born about the same time as Jesus Christ. His life
(that of the former) is related in so fabulous a manner by his
disciples, that we are at a loss to discover whether he was a
sage, an impostor, or a fanatic.]

[Footnote 64: Zosimus, l. i. p. 46.]

Zenobia would have ill deserved her reputation, had she
indolently permitted the emperor of the West to approach within a
hundred miles of her capital. The fate of the East was decided
in two great battles; so similar in almost every circumstance,
that we can scarcely distinguish them from each other, except by
observing that the first was fought near Antioch, ^65 and the
second near Emesa. ^66 In both the queen of Palmyra animated the
armies by her presence, and devolved the execution of her orders
on Zabdas, who had already signalized his military talents by the
conquest of Egypt. The numerous forces of Zenobia consisted for
the most part of light archers, and of heavy cavalry clothed in
complete steel. The Moorish and Illyrian horse of Aurelian were
unable to sustain the ponderous charge of their antagonists. They
fled in real or affected disorder, engaged the Palmyrenians in a
laborious pursuit, harassed them by a desultory combat, and at
length discomfited this impenetrable but unwieldy body of
cavalry. The light infantry, in the mean time, when they had
exhausted their quivers, remaining without protection against a
closer onset, exposed their naked sides to the swords of the
legions. Aurelian had chosen these veteran troops, who were
usually stationed on the Upper Danube, and whose valor had been
severely tried in the Alemannic war. ^67 After the defeat of
Emesa, Zenobia found it impossible to collect a third army. As
far as the frontier of Egypt, the nations subject to her empire
had joined the standard of the conqueror, who detached Probus,
the bravest of his generals, to possess himself of the Egyptian
provinces. Palmyra was the last resource of the widow of
Odenathus. She retired within the walls of her capital, made
every preparation for a vigorous resistance, and declared, with
the intrepidity of a heroine, that the last moment of her reign
and of her life should be the same.
[Footnote 65: At a place called Immae. Eutropius, Sextus Rufus,
and Jerome, mention only this first battle.]

[Footnote 66: Vopiscus (in Hist. August. p. 217) mentions only
the second.]
[Footnote 67: Zosimus, l. i. p. 44 - 48. His account of the two
battles is clear and circumstantial.]

Amid the barren deserts of Arabia, a few cultivated spots
rise like islands out of the sandy ocean. Even the name of
Tadmor, or Palmyra, by its signification in the Syriac as well as
in the Latin language, denoted the multitude of palm-trees which
afforded shade and verdure to that temperate region. The air was
pure, and the soil, watered by some invaluable springs, was
capable of producing fruits as well as corn. A place possessed
of such singular advantages, and situated at a convenient
distance ^68 between the Gulf of Persia and the Mediterranean,
was soon frequented by the caravans which conveyed to the nations
of Europe a considerable part of the rich commodities of India.
Palmyra insensibly increased into an opulent and independent
city, and connecting the Roman and the Parthian monarchies by the
mutual benefits of commerce, was suffered to observe an humble
neutrality, till at length, after the victories of Trajan, the
little republic sunk into the bosom of Rome, and flourished more
than one hundred and fifty years in the subordinate though
honorable rank of a colony. It was during that peaceful period,
if we may judge from a few remaining inscriptions, that the
wealthy Palmyrenians constructed those temples, palaces, and
porticos of Grecian architecture, whose ruins, scattered over an
extent of several miles, have deserved the curiosity of our
travellers. The elevation of Odenathus and Zenobia appeared to
reflect new splendor on their country, and Palmyra, for a while,
stood forth the rival of Rome: but the competition was fatal, and
ages of prosperity were sacrificed to a moment of glory. ^69
[Footnote 68: It was five hundred and thirty-seven miles from
Seleucia, and two hundred and three from the nearest coast of
Syria, according to the reckoning of Pliny, who, in a few words,
(Hist. Natur. v. 21,) gives an excellent description of Palmyra.

Note: Talmor, or Palmyra, was probably at a very early
period the connecting link between the commerce of Tyre and
Babylon. Heeren, Ideen, v. i. p. ii. p. 125. Tadmor was
probably built by Solomon as a commercial station. Hist. of
Jews, v. p. 271 - M.]

[Footnote 69: Some English travellers from Aleppo discovered the
ruins of Palmyra about the end of the last century. Our
curiosity has since been gratified in a more splendid manner by
Messieurs Wood and Dawkins. For the history of Palmyra, we may
consult the masterly dissertation of Dr. Halley in the
Philosophical Transactions: Lowthorp's Abridgment, vol. iii. p.
In his march over the sandy desert between Emesa and
Palmyra, the emperor Aurelian was perpetually harassed by the
Arabs; nor could he always defend his army, and especially his
baggage, from those flying troops of active and daring robbers,
who watched the moment of surprise, and eluded the slow pursuit
of the legions. The siege of Palmyra was an object far more
difficult and important, and the emperor, who, with incessant
vigor, pressed the attacks in person, was himself wounded with a
dart. "The Roman people," says Aurelian, in an original letter,
"speak with contempt of the war which I am waging against a
woman. They are ignorant both of the character and of the power
of Zenobia. It is impossible to enumerate her warlike
preparations, of stones, of arrows, and of every species of
missile weapons. Every part of the walls is provided with two or
three balistoe and artificial fires are thrown from her military
engines. The fear of punishment has armed her with a desperate
courage. Yet still I trust in the protecting deities of Rome,
who have hitherto been favorable to all my undertakings." ^70
Doubtful, however, of the protection of the gods, and of the
event of the siege, Aurelian judged it more prudent to offer
terms of an advantageous capitulation; to the queen, a splendid
retreat; to the citizens, their ancient privileges. His
proposals were obstinately rejected, and the refusal was
accompanied with insult.

[Footnote 70: Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 218.]

The firmness of Zenobia was supported by the hope, that in a
very short time famine would compel the Roman army to repass the
desert; and by the reasonable expectation that the kings of the
East, and particularly the Persian monarch, would arm in the
defence of their most natural ally. But fortune, and the
perseverance of Aurelian, overcame every obstacle. The death of
Sapor, which happened about this time, ^71 distracted the
councils of Persia, and the inconsiderable succors that attempted
to relieve Palmyra, were easily intercepted either by the arms or
the liberality of the emperor. From every part of Syria, a

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