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easy to compute the multitudes, who, from an honorable station and a
prosperous fortune, were suddenly reduced to the miserable condition
of captives and exiles. As the Barbarians had more occasion for money
than for slaves, they fixed at a moderate price the redemption of
their indigent prisoners; and the ransom was often paid by the
benevolence of their friends, or the charity of strangers. The
captives, who were regularly sold, either in open market, or by
private contract, would have legally regained their native freedom,
which it was impossible for a citizen to lose, or to alienate. But as
it was soon discovered that the vindication of their liberty would
endanger their lives; and that the Goths, unless they were tempted to
sell, might be provoked to murder, their useless prisoners; the civil
jurisprudence had been already qualified by a wise regulation, that
they should be obliged to serve the moderate term of five years, till
they had discharged by their labor the price of their redemption. The
nations who invaded the Roman empire, had driven before them, into
Italy, whole troops of hungry and affrighted provincials, less
apprehensive of servitude than of famine. The calamities of Rome and
Italy dispersed the inhabitants to the most lonely, the most secure,
the most distant places of refuge. While the Gothic cavalry spread
terror and desolation along the sea-coast of Campania and Tuscany, the
little island of Igilium, separated by a narrow channel from the
Argentarian promontory, repulsed, or eluded, their hostile attempts;
and at so small a distance from Rome, great numbers of citizens were
securely concealed in the thick woods of that sequestered spot. The
ample patrimonies, which many senatorian families possessed in Africa,
invited them, if they had time, and prudence, to escape from the ruin
of their country, to embrace the shelter of that hospitable province.
The most illustrious of these fugitives was the noble and pious Proba,
the widow of the præfect Petronius. After the death of her husband,
the most powerful subject of Rome, she had remained at the head of the
Anician family, and successively supplied, from her private fortune,
the expense of the consulships of her three sons. When the city was
besieged and taken by the Goths, Proba supported, with Christian
resignation, the loss of immense riches; embarked in a small vessel,
from whence she beheld, at sea, the flames of her burning palace, and
fled with her daughter Læta, and her granddaughter, the celebrated
virgin, Demetrias, to the coast of Africa. The benevolent profusion
with which the matron distributed the fruits, or the price, of her
estates, contributed to alleviate the misfortunes of exile and
captivity. But even the family of Proba herself was not exempt from
the rapacious oppression of Count Heraclian, who basely sold, in
matrimonial prostitution, the noblest maidens of Rome to the lust or
avarice of the Syrian merchants. The Italian fugitives were dispersed
through the provinces, along the coast of Egypt and Asia, as far as
Constantinople and Jerusalem; and the village of Bethlem, the solitary
residence of St. Jerom and his female converts, was crowded with
illustrious beggars of either sex, and every age, who excited the
public compassion by the remembrance of their past fortune. This awful
catastrophe of Rome filled the astonished empire with grief and
terror. So interesting a contrast of greatness and ruin, disposed the
fond credulity of the people to deplore, and even to exaggerate, the
afflictions of the queen of cities. The clergy, who applied to recent
events the lofty metaphors of oriental prophecy, were sometimes
tempted to confound the destruction of the capital and the dissolution
of the globe.

There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the
advantages, and to magnify the evils, of the present times. Yet, when
the first emotions had subsided, and a fair estimate was made of the
real damage, the more learned and judicious contemporaries were forced
to confess, that infant Rome had formerly received more essential
injury from the Gauls, than she had now sustained from the Goths in
her declining age. The experience of eleven centuries has enabled
posterity to produce a much more singular parallel; and to affirm with
confidence, that the ravages of the Barbarians, whom Alaric had led
from the banks of the Danube, were less destructive than the
hostilities exercised by the troops of Charles the Fifth, a Catholic
prince, who styled himself Emperor of the Romans. The Goths evacuated
the city at the end of six days, but Rome remained above nine months
in the possession of the Imperialists; and every hour was stained by
some atrocious act of cruelty, lust, and rapine. The authority of
Alaric preserved some order and moderation among the ferocious
multitude which acknowledged him for their leader and king; but the
constable of Bourbon had gloriously fallen in the attack of the walls;
and the death of the general removed every restraint of discipline
from an army which consisted of three independent nations, the
Italians, the Spaniards, and the Germans. In the beginning of the
sixteenth century, the manners of Italy exhibited a remarkable scene
of the depravity of mankind. They united the sanguinary crimes that
prevail in an unsettled state of society, with the polished vices
which spring from the abuse of art and luxury; and the loose
adventurers, who had violated every prejudice of patriotism and
superstition to assault the palace of the Roman pontiff, must deserve
to be considered as the most profligate of the Italians
. At the same æra, the Spaniards were the terror both of the Old and
New World: but their high- spirited valor was disgraced by gloomy
pride, rapacious avarice, and unrelenting cruelty. Indefatigable in
the pursuit of fame and riches, they had improved, by repeated
practice, the most exquisite and effectual methods of torturing their
prisoners: many of the Castilians, who pillaged Rome, were familiars
of the holy inquisition; and some volunteers, perhaps, were lately
returned from the conquest of Mexico The Germans were less corrupt
than the Italians, less cruel than the Spaniards; and the rustic, or
even savage, aspect of those Tramontane warriors, often disguised a
simple and merciful disposition. But they had imbibed, in the first
fervor of the reformation, the spirit, as well as the principles of
Luther. It was their favorite amusement to insult, or destroy, the
consecrated objects of Catholic superstition; they indulged, without
pity or remorse, a devout hatred against the clergy of every
denomination and degree, who form so considerable a part of the
inhabitants of modern Rome; and their fanatic zeal might aspire to
subvert the throne of Antichrist, to purify, with blood and fire, the
abominations of the spiritual Babylon.

The retreat of the victorious Goths, who evacuated Rome on the sixth
day, might be the result of prudence; but it was not surely the effect
of fear. At the head of an army encumbered with rich and weighty
spoils, their intrepid leader advanced along the Appian way into the
southern provinces of Italy, destroying whatever dared to oppose his
passage, and contenting himself with the plunder of the unresisting
country. The fate of Capua, the proud and luxurious metropolis of
Campania, and which was respected, even in its decay, as the eighth
city of the empire, is buried in oblivion; whilst the adjacent town of
Nola has been illustrated, on this occasion, by the sanctity of
Paulinus, who was successively a consul, a monk, and a bishop. At the
age of forty, he renounced the enjoyment of wealth and honor, of
society and literature, to embrace a life of solitude and penance; and
the loud applause of the clergy encouraged him to despise the
reproaches of his worldly friends, who ascribed this desperate act to
some disorder of the mind or body. An early and passionate attachment
determined him to fix his humble dwelling in one of the suburbs of
Nola, near the miraculous tomb of St. Fælix, which the public devotion
had already surrounded with five large and populous churches. The
remains of his fortune, and of his understanding, were dedicated to
the service of the glorious martyr; whose praise, on the day of his
festival, Paulinus never failed to celebrate by a solemn hymn; and in
whose name he erected a sixth church, of superior elegance and beauty,
which was decorated with many curious pictures, from the history of
the Old and New Testament. Such assiduous zeal secured the favor of
the saint, or at least of the people; and, after fifteen years'
retirement, the Roman consul was compelled to accept the bishopric of
Nola, a few months before the city was invested by the Goths. During
the siege, some religious persons were satisfied that they had seen,
either in dreams or visions, the divine form of their tutelar patron;
yet it soon appeared by the event, that Fælix wanted power, or
inclination, to preserve the flock of which he had formerly been the
shepherd. Nola was not saved from the general devastation; and the
captive bishop was protected only by the general opinion of his
innocence and poverty. Above four years elapsed from the successful
invasion of Italy by the arms of Alaric, to the voluntary retreat of
the Goths under the conduct of his successor Adolphus; and, during the
whole time, they reigned without control over a country, which, in the
opinion of the ancients, had united all the various excellences of
nature and art. The prosperity, indeed, which Italy had attained in
the auspicious age of the Antonines, had gradually declined with the
decline of the empire. The fruits of a long peace perished under the
rude grasp of the Barbarians; and they themselves were incapable of
tasting the more elegant refinements of luxury, which had been
prepared for the use of the soft and polished Italians. Each soldier,
however, claimed an ample portion of the substantial plenty, the corn
and cattle, oil and wine, that was daily collected and consumed in the
Gothic camp; and the principal warriors insulted the villas and
gardens, once inhabited by Lucullus and Cicero, along the beauteous
coast of Campania. Their trembling captives, the sons and daughters of
Roman senators, presented, in goblets of gold and gems, large draughts
of Falernian wine to the haughty victors; who stretched their huge
limbs under the shade of plane-trees, artificially disposed to exclude
the scorching rays, and to admit the genial warmth, of the sun. These
delights were enhanced by the memory of past hardships: the comparison
of their native soil, the bleak and barren hills of Scythia, and the
frozen banks of the Elbe and Danube, added new charms to the felicity
of the Italian climate.

Whether fame, or conquest, or riches, were the object or Alaric, he
pursued that object with an indefatigable ardor, which could neither
be quelled by adversity nor satiated by success. No sooner had he
reached the extreme land of Italy, than he was attracted by the
neighboring prospect of a fertile and peaceful island. Yet even the
possession of Sicily he considered only as an intermediate step to the
important expedition, which he already meditated against the continent
of Africa. The Straits of Rhegium and Messina are twelve miles in
length, and, in the narrowest passage, about one mile and a half
broad; and the fabulous monsters of the deep, the rocks of Scylla, and
the whirlpool of Charybdis, could terrify none but the most timid and
unskilful mariners. Yet as soon as the first division of the Goths had
embarked, a sudden tempest arose, which sunk, or scattered, many of
the transports; their courage was daunted by the terrors of a new
element; and the whole design was defeated by the premature death of
Alaric, which fixed, after a short illness, the fatal term of his
conquests. The ferocious character of the Barbarians was displayed in
the funeral of a hero whose valor and fortune they celebrated with
mournful applause. By the labor of a captive multitude, they forcibly
diverted the course of the Busentinus, a small river that washes the
walls of Consentia. The royal sepulchre, adorned with the splendid
spoils and trophies of Rome, was constructed in the vacant bed; the
waters were then restored to their natural channel; and the secret
spot, where the remains of Alaric had been deposited, was forever
concealed by the inhuman massacre of the prisoners, who had been
employed to execute the work.

Chapter XXXI: Invasion Of Italy, Occupation Of Territories By
Barbarians. -- Part VI.

The personal animosities and hereditary feuds of the Barbarians were
suspended by the strong necessity of their affairs; and the brave
Adolphus, the brother-in-law of the deceased monarch, was unanimously
elected to succeed to his throne. The character and political system
of the new king of the Goths may be best understood from his own
conversation with an illustrious citizen of Narbonne; who afterwards,
in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, related it to St. Jerom, in the
presence of the historian Orosius. "In the full confidence of valor
and victory, I once aspired (said Adolphus) to change the face of the
universe; to obliterate the name of Rome; to erect on its ruins the
dominion of the Goths; and to acquire, like Augustus, the immortal
fame of the founder of a new empire. By repeated experiments, I was
gradually convinced, that laws are essentially necessary to maintain
and regulate a well-constituted state; and that the fierce,
untractable humor of the Goths was incapable of bearing the salutary
yoke of laws and civil government. From that moment I proposed to
myself a different object of glory and ambition; and it is now my
sincere wish that the gratitude of future ages should acknowledge the
merit of a stranger, who employed the sword of the Goths, not to
subvert, but to restore and maintain, the prosperity of the Roman
empire." With these pacific views, the successor of Alaric suspended
the operations of war; and seriously negotiated with the Imperial
court a treaty of friendship and alliance. It was the interest of the
ministers of Honorius, who were now released from the obligation of
their extravagant oath, to deliver Italy from the intolerable weight
of the Gothic powers; and they readily accepted their service against
the tyrants and Barbarians who infested the provinces beyond the Alps.
Adolphus, assuming the character of a Roman general, directed his
march from the extremity of Campania to the southern provinces of
Gaul. His troops, either by force of agreement, immediately occupied
the cities of Narbonne, Thoulouse, and Bordeaux; and though they were
repulsed by Count Boniface from the walls of Marseilles, they soon
extended their quarters from the Mediterranean to the Ocean. The
oppressed provincials might exclaim, that the miserable remnant, which
the enemy had spared, was cruelly ravished by their pretended allies;
yet some specious colors were not wanting to palliate, or justify the
violence of the Goths. The cities of Gaul, which they attacked, might
perhaps be considered as in a state of rebellion against the
government of Honorius: the articles of the treaty, or the secret
instructions of the court, might sometimes be alleged in favor of the
seeming usurpations of Adolphus; and the guilt of any irregular,
unsuccessful act of hostility might always be imputed, with an
appearance of truth, to the ungovernable spirit of a Barbarian host,
impatient of peace or discipline. The luxury of Italy had been less
effectual to soften the temper, than to relax the courage, of the
Goths; and they had imbibed the vices, without imitating the arts and
institutions, of civilized society.

The professions of Adolphus were probably sincere, and his attachment
to the cause of the republic was secured by the ascendant which a
Roman princess had acquired over the heart and understanding of the
Barbarian king. Placidia, the daughter of the great Theodosius, and of
Galla, his second wife, had received a royal education in the palace
of Constantinople; but the eventful story of her life is connected
with the revolutions which agitated the Western empire under the reign
of her brother Honorius. When Rome was first invested by the arms of
Alaric, Placidia, who was then about twenty years of age, resided in
the city; and her ready consent to the death of her cousin Serena has
a cruel and ungrateful appearance, which, according to the
circumstances of the action, may be aggravated, or excused, by the
consideration of her tender age. The victorious Barbarians detained,
either as a hostage or a captive, the sister of Honorius; but, while
she was exposed to the disgrace of following round Italy the motions
of a Gothic camp, she experienced, however, a decent and respectful
treatment. The authority of Jornandes, who praises the beauty of
Placidia, may perhaps be counterbalanced by the silence, the
expressive silence, of her flatterers: yet the splendor of her birth,
the bloom of youth, the elegance of manners, and the dexterous
insinuation which she condescended to employ, made a deep impression
on the mind of Adolphus; and the Gothic king aspired to call himself
the brother of the emperor. The ministers of Honorius rejected with
disdain the proposal of an alliance so injurious to every sentiment of
Roman pride; and repeatedly urged the restitution of Placidia, as an
indispensable condition of the treaty of peace. But the daughter of
Theodosius submitted, without reluctance, to the desires of the
conqueror, a young and valiant prince, who yielded to Alaric in
loftiness of stature, but who excelled in the more attractive
qualities of grace and beauty. The marriage of Adolphus and Placidia
was consummated before the Goths retired from Italy; and the solemn,
perhaps the anniversary day of their nuptials was afterwards
celebrated in the house of Ingenuus, one of the most illustrious
citizens of Narbonne in Gaul. The bride, attired and adorned like a
Roman empress, was placed on a throne of state; and the king of the
Goths, who assumed, on this occasion, the Roman habit, contented
himself with a less honorable seat by her side. The nuptial gift,
which, according to the custom of his nation, was offered to Placidia,
consisted of the rare and magnificent spoils of her country. Fifty
beautiful youths, in silken robes, carried a basin in each hand; and
one of these basins was filled with pieces of gold, the other with
precious stones of an inestimable value. Attalus, so long the sport of
fortune, and of the Goths, was appointed to lead the chorus of the
Hymeneal song; and the degraded emperor might aspire to the praise of
a skilful musician. The Barbarians enjoyed the insolence of their
triumph; and the provincials rejoiced in this alliance, which
tempered, by the mild influence of love and reason, the fierce spirit
of their Gothic lord.

The hundred basins of gold and gems, presented to Placidia at her
nuptial feast, formed an inconsiderable portion of the Gothic
treasures; of which some extraordinary specimens may be selected from
the history of the successors of Adolphus. Many curious and costly
ornaments of pure gold, enriched with jewels, were found in their
palace of Narbonne, when it was pillaged, in the sixth century, by the
Franks: sixty cups, caps, or chalices; fifteen patens
, or plates, for the use of the communion; twenty boxes, or cases, to
hold the books of the Gospels: this consecrated wealth was distributed
by the son of Clovis among the churches of his dominions, and his
pious liberality seems to upbraid some former sacrilege of the Goths.
They possessed, with more security of conscience, the famous
missorium, or great dish for the service of the table, of massy gold,
of the weight of five hundred pounds, and of far superior value, from
the precious stones, the exquisite workmanship, and the tradition,
that it had been presented by Ætius, the patrician, to Torismond, king
of the Goths. One of the successors of Torismond purchased the aid of
the French monarch by the promise of this magnificent gift. When he
was seated on the throne of Spain, he delivered it with reluctance to
the ambassadors of Dagobert; despoiled them on the road; stipulated,
after a long negotiation, the inadequate ransom of two hundred
thousand pieces of gold; and preserved the missorium, as the pride of
the Gothic treasury. When that treasury, after the conquest of Spain,
was plundered by the Arabs, they admired, and they have celebrated,
another object still more remarkable; a table of considerable size, of
one single piece of solid emerald, encircled with three rows of fine
pearls, supported by three hundred and sixty-five feet of gems and
massy gold, and estimated at the price of five hundred thousand pieces
of gold. Some portion of the Gothic treasures might be the gift of
friendship, or the tribute of obedience; but the far greater part had
been the fruits of war and rapine, the spoils of the empire, and
perhaps of Rome.

After the deliverance of Italy from the oppression of the Goths, some
secret counsellor was permitted, amidst the factions of the palace, to
heal the wounds of that afflicted country. By a wise and humane
regulation, the eight provinces which had been the most deeply
injured, Campania, Tuscany, Picenum, Samnium, Apulia, Calabria,
Bruttium, and Lucania, obtained an indulgence of five years: the
ordinary tribute was reduced to one fifth, and even that fifth was
destined to restore and support the useful institution of the public
posts. By another law, the lands which had been left without
inhabitants or cultivation, were granted, with some diminution of
taxes, to the neighbors who should occupy, or the strangers who should
solicit them; and the new possessors were secured against the future
claims of the fugitive proprietors. About the same time a general
amnesty was published in the name of Honorius, to abolish the guilt
and memory of all the involuntary
offences which had been committed by his unhappy subjects, during the
term of the public disorder and calamity A decent and respectful
attention was paid to the restoration of the capital; the citizens
were encouraged to rebuild the edifices which had been destroyed or
damaged by hostile fire; and extraordinary supplies of corn were
imported from the coast of Africa. The crowds that so lately fled
before the sword of the Barbarians, were soon recalled by the hopes of
plenty and pleasure; and Albinus, præfect of Rome, informed the court,
with some anxiety and surprise, that, in a single day, he had taken an
account of the arrival of fourteen thousand strangers. In less than
seven years, the vestiges of the Gothic invasion were almost
obliterated; and the city appeared to resume its former splendor and
tranquillity. The venerable matron replaced her crown of laurel, which
had been ruffled by the storms of war; and was still amused, in the
last moment of her decay, with the prophecies of revenge, of victory,
and of eternal dominion.

This apparent tranquillity was soon disturbed by the approach of a
hostile armament from the country which afforded the daily subsistence
of the Roman people. Heraclian, count of Africa, who, under the most
difficult and distressful circumstances, had supported, with active
loyalty, the cause of Honorius, was tempted, in the year of his
consulship, to assume the character of a rebel, and the title of
emperor. The ports of Africa were immediately filled with the naval
forces, at the head of which he prepared to invade Italy: and his
fleet, when it cast anchor at the mouth of the Tyber, indeed surpassed
the fleets of Xerxes and Alexander, if all the vessels, including the
royal galley, and the smallest boat, did actually amount to the
incredible number of three thousand two hundred. Yet with such an
armament, which might have subverted, or restored, the greatest
empires of the earth, the African usurper made a very faint and feeble
impression on the provinces of his rival. As he marched from the port,
along the road which leads to the gates of Rome, he was encountered,
terrified, and routed, by one of the Imperial captains; and the lord
of this mighty host, deserting his fortune and his friends,
ignominiously fled with a single ship. When Heraclian landed in the
harbor of Carthage, he found that the whole province, disdaining such
an unworthy ruler, had returned to their allegiance. The rebel was
beheaded in the ancient temple of Memory his consulship was abolished:
and the remains of his private fortune, not exceeding the moderate sum
of four thousand pounds of gold, were granted to the brave
Constantius, who had already defended the throne, which he afterwards
shared with his feeble sovereign. Honorius viewed, with supine
indifference, the calamities of Rome and Italy; but the rebellious
attempts of Attalus and Heraclian, against his personal safety,
awakened, for a moment, the torpid instinct of his nature. He was
probably ignorant of the causes and events which preserved him from
these impending dangers; and as Italy was no longer invaded by any
foreign or domestic enemies, he peaceably existed in the palace of
Ravenna, while the tyrants beyond the Alps were repeatedly vanquished
in the name, and by the lieutenants, of the son of Theodosius. In the
course of a busy and interesting narrative I might possibly forget to
mention the death of such a prince: and I shall therefore take the
precaution of observing, in this place, that he survived the last
siege of Rome about thirteen years.

The usurpation of Constantine, who received the purple from the
legions of Britain, had been successful, and seemed to be secure. His
title was acknowledged, from the wall of Antoninus to the columns of
Hercules; and, in the midst of the public disorder he shared the
dominion, and the plunder, of Gaul and Spain, with the tribes of
Barbarians, whose destructive progress was no longer checked by the
Rhine or Pyrenees. Stained with the blood of the kinsmen of Honorius,
he extorted, from the court of Ravenna, with which he secretly
corresponded, the ratification of his rebellious claims Constantine
engaged himself, by a solemn promise, to deliver Italy from the Goths;
advanced as far as the banks of the Po; and after alarming, rather
than assisting, his pusillanimous ally, hastily returned to the palace
of Arles, to celebrate, with intemperate luxury, his vain and
ostentatious triumph. But this transient prosperity was soon
interrupted and destroyed by the revolt of Count Gerontius, the
bravest of his generals; who, during the absence of his son Constants,
a prince already invested with the Imperial purple, had been left to
command in the provinces of Spain. From some reason, of which we are
ignorant, Gerontius, instead of assuming the diadem, placed it on the
head of his friend Maximus, who fixed his residence at Tarragona,
while the active count pressed forwards, through the Pyrenees, to
surprise the two emperors, Constantine and Constans, before they could
prepare for their defence. The son was made prisoner at Vienna, and
immediately put to death: and the unfortunate youth had scarcely
leisure to deplore the elevation of his family; which had tempted, or
compelled him, sacrilegiously to desert the peaceful obscurity of the
monastic life. The father maintained a siege within the walls of
Arles; but those walls must have yielded to the assailants, had not
the city been unexpectedly relieved by the approach of an Italian
army. The name of Honorius, the proclamation of a lawful emperor,
astonished the contending parties of the rebels. Gerontius, abandoned
by his own troops, escaped to the confines of Spain; and rescued his
name from oblivion, by the Roman courage which appeared to animate the
last moments of his life. In the middle of the night, a great body of
his perfidious soldiers surrounded and attacked his house, which he
had strongly barricaded. His wife, a valiant friend of the nation of
the Alani, and some faithful slaves, were still attached to his
person; and he used, with so much skill and resolution, a large
magazine of darts and arrows, that above three hundred of the
assailants lost their lives in the attempt. His slaves when all the
missile weapons were spent, fled at the dawn of day; and Gerontius, if
he had not been restrained by conjugal tenderness, might have imitated
their example; till the soldiers, provoked by such obstinate
resistance, applied fire on all sides to the house. In this fatal
extremity, he complied with the request of his Barbarian friend, and
cut off his head. The wife of Gerontius, who conjured him not to
abandon her to a life of misery and disgrace, eagerly presented her
neck to his sword; and the tragic scene was terminated by the death of
the count himself, who, after three ineffectual strokes, drew a short
dagger, and sheathed it in his heart. The unprotected Maximus, whom he
had invested with the purple, was indebted for his life to the
contempt that was entertained of his power and abilities. The caprice
of the Barbarians, who ravaged Spain, once more seated this Imperial
phantom on the throne: but they soon resigned him to the justice of
Honorius; and the tyrant Maximus, after he had been shown to the
people of Ravenna and Rome, was publicly executed.

The general, (Constantius was his name,) who raised by his approach
the siege of Arles, and dissipated the troops of Gerontius, was born a
Roman; and this remarkable distinction is strongly expressive of the
decay of military spirit among the subjects of the empire. The
strength and majesty which were conspicuous in the person of that
general, marked him, in the popular opinion, as a candidate worthy of
the throne, which he afterwards ascended. In the familiar intercourse
of private life, his manners were cheerful and engaging; nor would he
sometimes disdain, in the license of convivial mirth, to vie with the
pantomimes themselves, in the exercises of their ridiculous
profession. But when the trumpet summoned him to arms; when he mounted
his horse, and, bending down (for such was his singular practice)
almost upon the neck, fiercely rolled his large animated eyes round
the field, Constantius then struck terror into his foes, and inspired
his soldiers with the assurance of victory. He had received from the
court of Ravenna the important commission of extirpating rebellion in
the provinces of the West; and the pretended emperor Constantine,
after enjoying a short and anxious respite, was again besieged in his
capital by the arms of a more formidable enemy. Yet this interval
allowed time for a successful negotiation with the Franks and Alemanni
and his ambassador, Edobic, soon returned at the head of an army, to
disturb the operations of the siege of Arles. The Roman general,
instead of expecting the attack in his lines, boldly and perhaps
wisely, resolved to pass the Rhone, and to meet the Barbarians. His
measures were conducted with so much skill and secrecy, that, while
they engaged the infantry of Constantius in the front, they were
suddenly attacked, surrounded, and destroyed, by the cavalry of his
lieutenant Ulphilas, who had silently gained an advantageous post in
their rear. The remains of the army of Edobic were preserved by flight
or submission, and their leader escaped from the field of battle to
the house of a faithless friend; who too clearly understood, that the
head of his obnoxious guest would be an acceptable and lucrative
present for the Imperial general. On this occasion, Constantius
behaved with the magnanimity of a genuine Roman. Subduing, or
suppressing, every sentiment of jealousy, he publicly acknowledged the
merit and services of Ulphilas; but he turned with horror from the
assassin of Edobic; and sternly intimated his commands, that the camp
should no longer be polluted by the presence of an ungrateful wretch,
who had violated the laws of friendship and hospitality. The usurper,
who beheld, from the walls of Arles, the ruin of his last hopes, was
tempted to place some confidence in so generous a conqueror. He
required a solemn promise for his security; and after receiving, by
the imposition of hands, the sacred character of a Christian
Presbyter, he ventured to open the gates of the city. But he soon
experienced that the principles of honor and integrity, which might
regulate the ordinary conduct of Constantius, were superseded by the
loose doctrines of political morality. The Roman general, indeed,
refused to sully his laurels with the blood of Constantine; but the
abdicated emperor, and his son Julian, were sent under a strong guard
into Italy; and before they reached the palace of Ravenna, they met
the ministers of death.

At a time when it was universally confessed, that almost every man in
the empire was superior in personal merit to the princes whom the
accident of their birth had seated on the throne, a rapid succession
of usurpers, regardless of the fate of their predecessors, still
continued to arise. This mischief was peculiarly felt in the provinces
of Spain and Gaul, where the principles of order and obedience had
been extinguished by war and rebellion. Before Constantine resigned
the purple, and in the fourth month of the siege of Arles,
intelligence was received in the Imperial camp, that Jovinus has
assumed the diadem at Mentz, in the Upper Germany, at the instigation
of Goar, king of the Alani, and of Guntiarius, king of the
Burgundians; and that the candidate, on whom they had bestowed the
empire, advanced with a formidable host of Barbarians, from the banks
of the Rhine to those of the Rhone. Every circumstance is dark and
extraordinary in the short history of the reign of Jovinus. It was
natural to expect, that a brave and skilful general, at the head of a
victorious army, would have asserted, in a field of battle, the
justice of the cause of Honorius. The hasty retreat of Constantius
might be justified by weighty reasons; but he resigned, without a
struggle, the possession of Gaul; and Dardanus, the Prætorian præfect,
is recorded as the only magistrate who refused to yield obedience to
the usurper. When the Goths, two years after the siege of Rome,
established their quarters in Gaul, it was natural to suppose that
their inclinations could be divided only between the emperor Honorius,
with whom they had formed a recent alliance, and the degraded Attalus,
whom they reserved in their camp for the occasional purpose of acting
the part of a musician or a monarch. Yet in a moment of disgust, (for
which it is not easy to assign a cause, or a date,) Adolphus connected
himself with the usurper of Gaul; and imposed on Attalus the
ignominious task of negotiating the treaty, which ratified his own
disgrace. We are again surprised to read, that, instead of considering
the Gothic alliance as the firmest support of his throne, Jovinus
upbraided, in dark and ambiguous language, the officious importunity
of Attalus; that, scorning the advice of his great ally, he invested
with the purple his brother Sebastian; and that he most imprudently
accepted the service of Sarus, when that gallant chief, the soldier of
Honorius, was provoked to desert the court of a prince, who knew not
how to reward or punish. Adolphus, educated among a race of warriors,
who esteemed the duty of revenge as the most precious and sacred
portion of their inheritance, advanced with a body of ten thousand
Goths to encounter the hereditary enemy of the house of Balti. He
attacked Sarus at an unguarded moment, when he was accompanied only by
eighteen or twenty of his valiant followers. United by friendship,
animated by despair, but at length oppressed by multitudes, this band
of heroes deserved the esteem, without exciting the compassion, of
their enemies; and the lion was no sooner taken in the toils, than he
was instantly despatched. The death of Sarus dissolved the loose
alliance which Adolphus still maintained with the usurpers of Gaul. He
again listened to the dictates of love and prudence; and soon
satisfied the brother of Placidia, by the assurance that he would
immediately transmit to the palace of Ravenna the heads of the two
tyrants, Jovinus and Sebastian. The king of the Goths executed his
promise without difficulty or delay; the helpless brothers,
unsupported by any personal merit, were abandoned by their Barbarian
auxiliaries; and the short opposition of Valentia was expiated by the
ruin of one of the noblest cities of Gaul. The emperor, chosen by the
Roman senate, who had been promoted, degraded, insulted, restored,
again degraded, and again insulted, was finally abandoned to his fate;
but when the Gothic king withdrew his protection, he was restrained,
by pity or contempt, from offering any violence to the person of
Attalus. The unfortunate Attalus, who was left without subjects or
allies, embarked in one of the ports of Spain, in search of some
secure and solitary retreat: but he was intercepted at sea, conducted
to the presence of Honorius, led in triumph through the streets of
Rome or Ravenna, and publicly exposed to the gazing multitude, on the
second step of the throne of his invincible conqueror. The same
measure of punishment, with which, in the days of his prosperity, he
was accused of menacing his rival, was inflicted on Attalus himself;
he was condemned, after the amputation of two fingers, to a perpetual
exile in the Isle of Lipari, where he was supplied with the decent
necessaries of life. The remainder of the reign of Honorius was
undisturbed by rebellion; and it may be observed, that, in the space
of five years, seven usurpers had yielded to the fortune of a prince,
who was himself incapable either of counsel or of action.

Chapter XXXI: Invasion Of Italy, Occupation Of Territories By
Barbarians. -- Part VII.

The situation of Spain, separated, on all sides, from the enemies of
Rome, by the sea, by the mountains, and by intermediate provinces, had
secured the long tranquillity of that remote and sequestered country;
and we may observe, as a sure symptom of domestic happiness, that, in
a period of four hundred years, Spain furnished very few materials to
the history of the Roman empire. The footsteps of the Barbarians, who,
in the reign of Gallienus, had penetrated beyond the Pyrenees, were
soon obliterated by the return of peace; and in the fourth century of
the Christian æra, the cities of Emerita, or Merida, of Corduba,
Seville, Bracara, and Tarragona, were numbered with the most
illustrious of the Roman world. The various plenty of the animal, the
vegetable, and the mineral kingdoms, was improved and manufactured by
the skill of an industrious people; and the peculiar advantages of
naval stores contributed to support an extensive and profitable trade.
The arts and sciences flourished under the protection of the emperors;
and if the character of the Spaniards was enfeebled by peace and
servitude, the hostile approach of the Germans, who had spread terror
and desolation from the Rhine to the Pyrenees, seemed to rekindle some
sparks of military ardor. As long as the defence of the mountains was
intrusted to the hardy and faithful militia of the country, they
successfully repelled the frequent attempts of the Barbarians. But no
sooner had the national troops been compelled to resign their post to
the Honorian bands, in the service of Constantine, than the gates of
Spain were treacherously betrayed to the public enemy, about ten
months before the sack of Rome by the Goths. The consciousness of
guilt, and the thirst of rapine, prompted the mercenary guards of the
Pyrenees to desert their station; to invite the arms of the Suevi, the
Vandals, and the Alani; and to swell the torrent which was poured with
irresistible violence from the frontiers of Gaul to the sea of Africa.
The misfortunes of Spain may be described in the language of its most
eloquent historian, who has concisely expressed the passionate, and
perhaps exaggerated, declamations of contemporary writers. "The
irruption of these nations was followed by the most dreadful
calamities; as the Barbarians exercised their indiscriminate cruelty
on the fortunes of the Romans and the Spaniards, and ravaged with
equal fury the cities and the open country. The progress of famine
reduced the miserable inhabitants to feed on the flesh of their
fellow-creatures; and even the wild beasts, who multiplied, without
control, in the desert, were exasperated, by the taste of blood, and
the impatience of hunger, boldly to attack and devour their human
prey. Pestilence soon appeared, the inseparable companion of famine; a
large proportion of the people was swept away; and the groans of the
dying excited only the envy of their surviving friends. At length the
Barbarians, satiated with carnage and rapine, and afflicted by the
contagious evils which they themselves had introduced, fixed their
permanent seats in the depopulated country. The ancient Gallicia,
whose limits included the kingdom of Old Castille, was divided between
the Suevi and the Vandals; the Alani were scattered over the provinces
of Carthagena and Lusitania, from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic
Ocean; and the fruitful territory of Btica was allotted to the
Silingi, another branch of the Vandalic nation. After regulating this
partition, the conquerors contracted with their new subjects some
reciprocal engagements of protection and obedience: the lands were
again cultivated; and the towns and villages were again occupied by a
captive people. The greatest part of the Spaniards was even disposed
to prefer this new condition of poverty and barbarism, to the severe
oppressions of the Roman government; yet there were many who still
asserted their native freedom; and who refused, more especially in the
mountains of Gallicia, to submit to the Barbarian yoke."

The important present of the heads of Jovinus and Sebastian had
approved the friendship of Adolphus, and restored Gaul to the
obedience of his brother Honorius. Peace was incompatible with the
situation and temper of the king of the Goths. He readily accepted the
proposal of turning his victorious arms against the Barbarians of
Spain; the troops of Constantius intercepted his communication with
the seaports of Gaul, and gently pressed his march towards the
Pyrenees: he passed the mountains, and surprised, in the name of the
emperor, the city of Barcelona. The fondness of Adolphus for his Roman
bride, was not abated by time or possession: and the birth of a son,
surnamed, from his illustrious grandsire, Theodosius, appeared to fix
him forever in the interest of the republic. The loss of that infant,
whose remains were deposited in a silver coffin in one of the churches
near Barcelona, afflicted his parents; but the grief of the Gothic
king was suspended by the labors of the field; and the course of his
victories was soon interrupted by domestic treason. He had imprudently
received into his service one of the followers of Sarus; a Barbarian
of a daring spirit, but of a diminutive stature; whose secret desire
of revenging the death of his beloved patron was continually irritated
by the sarcasms of his insolent master. Adolphus was assassinated in
the palace of Barcelona; the laws of the succession were violated by a
tumultuous faction; and a stranger to the royal race, Singeric, the
brother of Sarus himself, was seated on the Gothic throne. The first
act of his reign was the inhuman murder of the six children of
Adolphus, the issue of a former marriage, whom he tore, without pity,
from the feeble arms of a venerable bishop. The unfortunate Placidia,
instead of the respectful compassion, which she might have excited in
the most savage breasts, was treated with cruel and wanton insult. The
daughter of the emperor Theodosius, confounded among a crowd of vulgar
captives, was compelled to march on foot above twelve miles, before
the horse of a Barbarian, the assassin of a husband whom Placidia
loved and lamented.

But Placidia soon obtained the pleasure of revenge, and the view of
her ignominious sufferings might rouse an indignant people against the
tyrant, who was assassinated on the seventh day of his usurpation.
After the death of Singeric, the free choice of the nation bestowed
the Gothic sceptre on Wallia; whose warlike and ambitious temper
appeared, in the beginning of his reign, extremely hostile to the
republic. He marched in arms from Barcelona to the shores of the
Atlantic Ocean, which the ancients revered and dreaded as the boundary
of the world. But when he reached the southern promontory of Spain,
and, from the rock now covered by the fortress of Gibraltar,
contemplated the neighboring and fertile coast of Africa, Wallia
resumed the designs of conquest, which had been interrupted by the
death of Alaric. The winds and waves again disappointed the enterprise
of the Goths; and the minds of a superstitious people were deeply
affected by the repeated disasters of storms and shipwrecks. In this
disposition the successor of Adolphus no longer refused to listen to a
Roman ambassador, whose proposals were enforced by the real, or
supposed, approach of a numerous army, under the conduct of the brave
Constantius. A solemn treaty was stipulated and observed; Placidia was
honorably restored to her brother; six hundred thousand measures of
wheat were delivered to the hungry Goths; and Wallia engaged to draw
his sword in the service of the empire. A bloody war was instantly
excited among the Barbarians of Spain; and the contending princes are
said to have addressed their letters, their ambassadors, and their
hostages, to the throne of the Western emperor, exhorting him to
remain a tranquil spectator of their contest; the events of which must
be favorable to the Romans, by the mutual slaughter of their common
enemies. The Spanish war was obstinately supported, during three
campaigns, with desperate valor, and various success; and the martial
achievements of Wallia diffused through the empire the superior renown
of the Gothic hero. He exterminated the Silingi, who had irretrievably
ruined the elegant plenty of the province of Btica. He slew, in
battle, the king of the Alani; and the remains of those Scythian
wanderers, who escaped from the field, instead of choosing a new
leader, humbly sought a refuge under the standard of the Vandals, with
whom they were ever afterwards confounded. The Vandals themselves, and
the Suevi, yielded to the efforts of the invincible Goths. The
promiscuous multitude of Barbarians, whose retreat had been
intercepted, were driven into the mountains of Gallicia; where they
still continued, in a narrow compass and on a barren soil, to exercise
their domestic and implacable hostilities. In the pride of victory,
Wallia was faithful to his engagements: he restored his Spanish
conquests to the obedience of Honorius; and the tyranny of the
Imperial officers soon reduced an oppressed people to regret the time
of their Barbarian servitude. While the event of the war was still
doubtful, the first advantages obtained by the arms of Wallia had
encouraged the court of Ravenna to decree the honors of a triumph to
their feeble sovereign. He entered Rome like the ancient conquerors of
nations; and if the monuments of servile corruption had not long since
met with the fate which they deserved, we should probably find that a
crowd of poets and orators, of magistrates and bishops, applauded the
fortune, the wisdom, and the invincible courage, of the emperor

Such a triumph might have been justly claimed by the ally of Rome, if
Wallia, before he repassed the Pyrenees, had extirpated the seeds of
the Spanish war. His victorious Goths, forty-three years after they
had passed the Danube, were established, according to the faith of
treaties, in the possession of the second Aquitain; a maritime
province between the Garonne and the Loire, under the civil and
ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Bourdeaux. That metropolis,
advantageously situated for the trade of the ocean, was built in a
regular and elegant form; and its numerous inhabitants were
distinguished among the Gauls by their wealth, their learning, and the
politeness of their manners. The adjacent province, which has been
fondly compared to the garden of Eden, is blessed with a fruitful
soil, and a temperate climate; the face of the country displayed the
arts and the rewards of industry; and the Goths, after their martial
toils, luxuriously exhausted the rich vineyards of Aquitain. The
Gothic limits were enlarged by the additional gift of some neighboring
dioceses; and the successors of Alaric fixed their royal residence at
Thoulouse, which included five populous quarters, or cities, within
the spacious circuit of its walls. About the same time, in the last
years of the reign of Honorius, the Goths, the Burgundians, and the
Franks, obtained a permanent seat and dominion in the provinces of
Gaul. The liberal grant of the usurper Jovinus to his Burgundian
allies, was confirmed by the lawful emperor; the lands of the First,
or Upper, Germany, were ceded to those formidable Barbarians; and they
gradually occupied, either by conquest or treaty, the two provinces
which still retain, with the titles of Duchy
and County, the national appellation of Burgundy. The Franks, the
valiant and faithful allies of the Roman republic, were soon tempted
to imitate the invaders, whom they had so bravely resisted. Treves,
the capital of Gaul, was pillaged by their lawless bands; and the
humble colony, which they so long maintained in the district of
Toxandia, in Brabant, insensibly multiplied along the banks of the
Meuse and Scheld, till their independent power filled the whole extent
of the Second, or Lower Germany. These facts may be sufficiently
justified by historic evidence; but the foundation of the French
monarchy by Pharamond, the conquests, the laws, and even the
existence, of that hero, have been justly arraigned by the impartial
severity of modern criticism.

The ruin of the opulent provinces of Gaul may be dated from the
establishment of these Barbarians, whose alliance was dangerous and
oppressive, and who were capriciously impelled, by interest or
passion, to violate the public peace. A heavy and partial ransom was
imposed on the surviving provincials, who had escaped the calamities
of war; the fairest and most fertile lands were assigned to the
rapacious strangers, for the use of their families, their slaves, and
their cattle; and the trembling natives relinquished with a sigh the
inheritance of their fathers. Yet these domestic misfortunes, which
are seldom the lot of a vanquished people, had been felt and inflicted
by the Romans themselves, not only in the insolence of foreign
conquest, but in the madness of civil discord. The Triumvirs
proscribed eighteen of the most flourishing colonies of Italy; and
distributed their lands and houses to the veterans who revenged the
death of Cæsar, and oppressed the liberty of their country. Two poets
of unequal fame have deplored, in similar circumstances, the loss of
their patrimony; but the legionaries of Augustus appear to have
surpassed, in violence and injustice, the Barbarians who invaded Gaul
under the reign of Honorius. It was not without the utmost difficulty
that Virgil escaped from the sword of the Centurion, who had usurped
his farm in the neighborhood of Mantua; but Paulinus of Bourdeaux
received a sum of money from his Gothic purchaser, which he accepted
with pleasure and surprise; and though it was much inferior to the
real value of his estate, this act of rapine was disguised by some
colors of moderation and equity. The odious name of conquerors was
softened into the mild and friendly appellation of the guests of the
Romans; and the Barbarians of Gaul, more especially the Goths,
repeatedly declared, that they were bound to the people by the ties of
hospitality, and to the emperor by the duty of allegiance and military
service. The title of Honorius and his successors, their laws, and
their civil magistrates, were still respected in the provinces of
Gaul, of which they had resigned the possession to the Barbarian
allies; and the kings, who exercised a supreme and independent
authority over their native subjects, ambitiously solicited the more
honorable rank of master-generals of the Imperial armies. Such was the
involuntary reverence which the Roman name still impressed on the
minds of those warriors, who had borne away in triumph the spoils of
the Capitol.

Whilst Italy was ravaged by the Goths, and a succession of feeble
tyrants oppressed the provinces beyond the Alps, the British island
separated itself from the body of the Roman empire. The regular
forces, which guarded that remote province, had been gradually
withdrawn; and Britain was abandoned without defence to the Saxon
pirates, and the savages of Ireland and Caledonia. The Britons,
reduced to this extremity, no longer relied on the tardy and doubtful
aid of a declining monarchy. They assembled in arms, repelled the
invaders, and rejoiced in the important discovery of their own
strength. Afflicted by similar calamities, and actuated by the same
spirit, the Armorican provinces (a name which comprehended the
maritime countries of Gaul between the Seine and the Loire ) resolved
to imitate the example of the neighboring island. They expelled the
Roman magistrates, who acted under the authority of the usurper
Constantine; and a free government was established among a people who
had so long been subject to the arbitrary will of a master. The
independence of Britain and Armorica was soon confirmed by Honorius
himself, the lawful emperor of the West; and the letters, by which he
committed to the new states the care of their own safety, might be
interpreted as an absolute and perpetual abdication of the exercise
and rights of sovereignty. This interpretation was, in some measure,
justified by the event. After the usurpers of Gaul had successively
fallen, the maritime provinces were restored to the empire. Yet their
obedience was imperfect and precarious: the vain, inconstant,
rebellious disposition of the people, was incompatible either with
freedom or servitude; and Armorica, though it could not long maintain
the form of a republic, was agitated by frequent and destructive
revolts. Britain was irrecoverably lost. But as the emperors wisely
acquiesced in the independence of a remote province, the separation
was not imbittered by the reproach of tyranny or rebellion; and the
claims of allegiance and protection were succeeded by the mutual and
voluntary offices of national friendship.

This revolution dissolved the artificial fabric of civil and military
government; and the independent country, during a period of forty
years, till the descent of the Saxons, was ruled by the authority of
the clergy, the nobles, and the municipal towns. I. Zosimus, who alone
has preserved the memory of this singular transaction, very accurately
observes, that the letters of Honorius were addressed to the cities
of Britain. Under the protection of the Romans, ninety-two
considerable towns had arisen in the several parts of that great
province; and, among these, thirty-three cities were distinguished
above the rest by their superior privileges and importance. Each of
these cities, as in all the other provinces of the empire, formed a
legal corporation, for the purpose of regulating their domestic
policy; and the powers of municipal government were distributed among
annual magistrates, a select senate, and the assembly of the people,
according to the original model of the Roman constitution. The
management of a common revenue, the exercise of civil and criminal
jurisdiction, and the habits of public counsel and command, were
inherent to these petty republics; and when they asserted their
independence, the youth of the city, and of the adjacent districts,
would naturally range themselves under the standard of the magistrate.
But the desire of obtaining the advantages, and of escaping the
burdens, of political society, is a perpetual and inexhaustible source
of discord; nor can it reasonably be presumed, that the restoration of
British freedom was exempt from tumult and faction. The preeminence of
birth and fortune must have been frequently violated by bold and
popular citizens; and the haughty nobles, who complained that they
were become the subjects of their own servants, would sometimes regret
the reign of an arbitrary monarch. II. The jurisdiction of each city
over the adjacent country, was supported by the patrimonial influence
of the principal senators; and the smaller towns, the villages, and
the proprietors of land, consulted their own safety by adhering to the
shelter of these rising republics. The sphere of their attraction was
proportioned to the respective degrees of their wealth and
populousness; but the hereditary lords of ample possessions, who were
not oppressed by the neighborhood of any powerful city, aspired to the
rank of independent princes, and boldly exercised the rights of peace
and war. The gardens and villas, which exhibited some faint imitation
of Italian elegance, would soon be converted into strong castles, the
refuge, in time of danger, of the adjacent country: the produce of the
land was applied to purchase arms and horses; to maintain a military
force of slaves, of peasants, and of licentious followers; and the
chieftain might assume, within his own domain, the powers of a civil
magistrate. Several of these British chiefs might be the genuine
posterity of ancient kings; and many more would be tempted to adopt
this honorable genealogy, and to vindicate their hereditary claims,
which had been suspended by the usurpation of the Cæsars. Their
situation and their hopes would dispose them to affect the dress, the
language, and the customs of their ancestors. If the princes of
Britain relapsed into barbarism, while the cities studiously preserved
the laws and manners of Rome, the whole island must have been
gradually divided by the distinction of two national parties; again
broken into a thousand subdivisions of war and faction, by the various
provocations of interest and resentment. The public strength, instead
of being united against a foreign enemy, was consumed in obscure and
intestine quarrels; and the personal merit which had placed a
successful leader at the head of his equals, might enable him to
subdue the freedom of some neighboring cities; and to claim a rank
among the tyrants, who infested Britain after the dissolution of the
Roman government. III. The British church might be composed of thirty
or forty bishops, with an adequate proportion of the inferior clergy;
and the want of riches (for they seem to have been poor ) would compel
them to deserve the public esteem, by a decent and exemplary behavior.
The interest, as well as the temper of the clergy, was favorable to
the peace and union of their distracted country: those salutary
lessons might be frequently inculcated in their popular discourses;
and the episcopal synods were the only councils that could pretend to
the weight and authority of a national assembly. In such councils,
where the princes and magistrates sat promiscuously with the bishops,
the important affairs of the state, as well as of the church, might be
freely debated; differences reconciled, alliances formed,
contributions imposed, wise resolutions often concerted, and sometimes
executed; and there is reason to believe, that, in moments of extreme
danger, a Pendragon, or Dictator, was elected by the general consent
of the Britons. These pastoral cares, so worthy of the episcopal
character, were interrupted, however, by zeal and superstition; and
the British clergy incessantly labored to eradicate the Pelagian
heresy, which they abhorred, as the peculiar disgrace of their native

It is somewhat remarkable, or rather it is extremely natural, that the
revolt of Britain and Armorica should have introduced an appearance of
liberty into the obedient provinces of Gaul. In a solemn edict, filled
with the strongest assurances of that paternal affection which princes
so often express, and so seldom feel, the emperor Honorius promulgated
his intention of convening an annual assembly of the seven provinces
: a name peculiarly appropriated to Aquitain and the ancient
Narbonnese, which had long since exchanged their Celtic rudeness for
the useful and elegant arts of Italy. Arles, the seat of government
and commerce, was appointed for the place of the assembly; which
regularly continued twenty-eight days, from the fifteenth of August to
the thirteenth of September, of every year. It consisted of the
Prætorian præfect of the Gauls; of seven provincial governors, one
consular, and six presidents; of the magistrates, and perhaps the
bishops, of about sixty cities; and of a competent, though indefinite,
number of the most honorable and opulent possessors of land, who might
justly be considered as the representatives of their country. They
were empowered to interpret and communicate the laws of their
sovereign; to expose the grievances and wishes of their constituents;
to moderate the excessive or unequal weight of taxes; and to
deliberate on every subject of local or national importance, that
could tend to the restoration of the peace and prosperity of the seven
provinces. If such an institution, which gave the people an interest
in their own government, had been universally established by Trajan or
the Antonines, the seeds of public wisdom and virtue might have been
cherished and propagated in the empire of Rome. The privileges of the
subject would have secured the throne of the monarch; the abuses of an
arbitrary administration might have been prevented, in some degree, or
corrected, by the interposition of these representative assemblies;
and the country would have been defended against a foreign enemy by
the arms of natives and freemen. Under the mild and generous influence
of liberty, the Roman empire might have remained invincible and
immortal; or if its excessive magnitude, and the instability of human
affairs, had opposed such perpetual continuance, its vital and
constituent members might have separately preserved their vigor and
independence. But in the decline of the empire, when every principle
of health and life had been exhausted, the tardy application of this
partial remedy was incapable of producing any important or salutary
effects. The emperor Honorius expresses his surprise, that he must
compel the reluctant provinces to accept a privilege which they should
ardently have solicited. A fine of three, or even five, pounds of
gold, was imposed on the absent representatives; who seem to have
declined this imaginary gift of a free constitution, as the last and
most cruel insult of their oppressors.

Chapter XXXII: Emperors Arcadius, Eutropius, Theodosius II.

Part I.

Arcadius Emperor Of The East. -- Administration And Disgrace Of
Eutropius. -- Revolt Of Gainas. -- Persecution Of St. John Chrysostom.
-- Theodosius II. Emperor Of The East. -- His Sister Pulcheria. -- His
Wife Eudocia. -- The Persian War, And Division Of Armenia.

The division of the Roman world between the sons of Theodosius marks
the final establishment of the empire of the East, which, from the
reign of Arcadius to the taking of Constantinople by the Turks,
subsisted one thousand and fifty-eight years, in a state of premature
and perpetual decay. The sovereign of that empire assumed, and
obstinately retained, the vain, and at length fictitious, title of
Emperor of the Romans; and the hereditary appellation of Cæsar and
Augustus continued to declare, that he was the legitimate successor of
the first of men, who had reigned over the first of nations. The place
of Constantinople rivalled, and perhaps excelled, the magnificence of
Persia; and the eloquent sermons of St. Chrysostom celebrate, while
they condemn, the pompous luxury of the reign of Arcadius. "The
emperor," says he, "wears on his head either a diadem, or a crown of
gold, decorated with precious stones of inestimable value. These
ornaments, and his purple garments, are reserved for his sacred person
alone; and his robes of silk are embroidered with the figures of
golden dragons. His throne is of massy gold. Whenever he appears in
public, he is surrounded by his courtiers, his guards, and his
attendants. Their spears, their shields, their cuirasses, the bridles
and trappings of their horses, have either the substance or the
appearance of gold; and the large splendid boss in the midst of their
shield is encircled with smaller bosses, which represent the shape of
the human eye. The two mules that drew the chariot of the monarch are
perfectly white, and shining all over with gold. The chariot itself,
of pure and solid gold, attracts the admiration of the spectators, who
contemplate the purple curtains, the snowy carpet, the size of the
precious stones, and the resplendent plates of gold, that glitter as
they are agitated by the motion of the carriage. The Imperial pictures
are white, on a blue ground; the emperor appears seated on his throne,
with his arms, his horses, and his guards beside him; and his
vanquished enemies in chains at his feet." The successors of
Constantine established their perpetual residence in the royal city,
which he had erected on the verge of Europe and Asia. Inaccessible to
the menaces of their enemies, and perhaps to the complaints of their
people, they received, with each wind, the tributary productions of
every climate; while the impregnable strength of their capital
continued for ages to defy the hostile attempts of the Barbarians.
Their dominions were bounded by the Adriatic and the Tigris; and the
whole interval of twenty-five days' navigation, which separated the
extreme cold of Scythia from the torrid zone of Æthiopia, was
comprehended within the limits of the empire of the East. The populous
countries of that empire were the seat of art and learning, of luxury
and wealth; and the inhabitants, who had assumed the language and
manners of Greeks, styled themselves, with some appearance of truth,
the most enlightened and civilized portion of the human species. The
form of government was a pure and simple monarchy; the name of the
Roman Republic, which so long preserved a faint tradition of freedom,
was confined to the Latin provinces; and the princes of Constantinople
measured their greatness by the servile obedience of their people.
They were ignorant how much this passive disposition enervates and
degrades every faculty of the mind. The subjects, who had resigned
their will to the absolute commands of a master, were equally
incapable of guarding their lives and fortunes against the assaults of
the Barbarians, or of defending their reason from the terrors of

The first events of the reign of Arcadius and Honorius are so
intimately connected, that the rebellion of the Goths, and the fall of
Rufinus, have already claimed a place in the history of the West. It
has already been observed, that Eutropius, one of the principal
eunuchs of the palace of Constantinople, succeeded the haughty
minister whose ruin he had accomplished, and whose vices he soon
imitated. Every order of the state bowed to the new favorite; and
their tame and obsequious submission encouraged him to insult the
laws, and, what is still more difficult and dangerous, the manners of
his country. Under the weakest of the predecessors of Arcadius, the
reign of the eunuchs had been secret and almost invisible. They
insinuated themselves into the confidence of the prince; but their
ostensible functions were confined to the menial service of the
wardrobe and Imperial bed-chamber. They might direct, in a whisper,
the public counsels, and blast, by their malicious suggestions, the
fame and fortunes of the most illustrious citizens; but they never
presumed to stand forward in the front of empire, or to profane the
public honors of the state. Eutropius was the first of his artificial
sex, who dared to assume the character of a Roman magistrate and
general. Sometimes, in the presence of the blushing senate, he
ascended the tribunal to pronounce judgment, or to repeat elaborate
harangues; and, sometimes, appeared on horseback, at the head of his
troops, in the dress and armor of a hero. The disregard of custom and
decency always betrays a weak and ill-regulated mind; nor does
Eutropius seem to have compensated for the folly of the design by any
superior merit or ability in the execution. His former habits of life
had not introduced him to the study of the laws, or the exercises of
the field; his awkward and unsuccessful attempts provoked the secret
contempt of the spectators; the Goths expressed their wish that such a
general might always command the armies of Rome; and the name of the
minister was branded with ridicule, more pernicious, perhaps, than
hatred, to a public character. The subjects of Arcadius were
exasperated by the recollection, that this deformed and decrepit
eunuch, who so perversely mimicked the actions of a man, was born in
the most abject condition of servitude; that before he entered the
Imperial palace, he had been successively sold and purchased by a
hundred masters, who had exhausted his youthful strength in every mean
and infamous office, and at length dismissed him, in his old age, to
freedom and poverty. While these disgraceful stories were circulated,
and perhaps exaggerated, in private conversation, the vanity of the
favorite was flattered with the most extraordinary honors. In the
senate, in the capital, in the provinces, the statues of Eutropius
were erected, in brass, or marble, decorated with the symbols of his
civil and military virtues, and inscribed with the pompous title of
the third founder of Constantinople. He was promoted to the rank of
, which began to signify in a popular, and even legal, acceptation,
the father of the emperor; and the last year of the fourth century was
polluted by the consulship of a eunuch and a slave. This strange and
inexpiable prodigy awakened, however, the prejudices of the Romans.
The effeminate consul was rejected by the West, as an indelible stain
to the annals of the republic; and without invoking the shades of
Brutus and Camillus, the colleague of Eutropius, a learned and
respectable magistrate, sufficiently represented the different maxims
of the two administrations.

The bold and vigorous mind of Rufinus seems to have been actuated by a
more sanguinary and revengeful spirit; but the avarice of the eunuch
was not less insatiate than that of the præfect. As long as he
despoiled the oppressors, who had enriched themselves with the plunder
of the people, Eutropius might gratify his covetous disposition
without much envy or injustice: but the progress of his rapine soon
invaded the wealth which had been acquired by lawful inheritance, or
laudable industry. The usual methods of extortion were practised and
improved; and Claudian has sketched a lively and original picture of
the public auction of the state. "The impotence of the eunuch," says
that agreeable satirist, "has served only to stimulate his avarice:
the same hand which in his servile condition, was exercised in petty
thefts, to unlock the coffers of his master, now grasps the riches of
the world; and this infamous broker of the empire appreciates and
divides the Roman provinces from Mount Hæmus to the Tigris. One man,
at the expense of his villa, is made proconsul of Asia; a second
purchases Syria with his wife's jewels; and a third laments that he
has exchanged his paternal estate for the government of Bithynia. In
the antechamber of Eutropius, a large tablet is exposed to public
view, which marks the respective prices of the provinces. The
different value of Pontus, of Galatia, of Lydia, is accurately
distinguished. Lycia may be obtained for so many thousand pieces of
gold; but the opulence of Phrygia will require a more considerable
sum. The eunuch wishes to obliterate, by the general disgrace, his
personal ignominy; and as he has been sold himself, he is desirous of
selling the rest of mankind. In the eager contention, the balance,
which contains the fate and fortunes of the province, often trembles
on the beam; and till one of the scales is inclined, by a superior
weight, the mind of the impartial judge remains in anxious suspense.
Such," continues the indignant poet, "are the fruits of Roman valor,
of the defeat of Antiochus, and of the triumph of Pompey." This venal
prostitution of public honors secured the impunity of future
crimes; but the riches, which Eutropius derived from confiscation,
were already stained with injustice; since it was decent to accuse,
and to condemn, the proprietors of the wealth, which he was impatient
to confiscate. Some noble blood was shed by the hand of the
executioner; and the most inhospitable extremities of the empire were
filled with innocent and illustrious exiles. Among the generals and
consuls of the East, Abundantius had reason to dread the first effects
of the resentment of Eutropius. He had been guilty of the unpardonable
crime of introducing that abject slave to the palace of
Constantinople; and some degree of praise must be allowed to a
powerful and ungrateful favorite, who was satisfied with the disgrace
of his benefactor. Abundantius was stripped of his ample fortunes by
an Imperial rescript, and banished to Pityus, on the Euxine, the last
frontier of the Roman world; where he subsisted by the precarious
mercy of the Barbarians, till he could obtain, after the fall of
Eutropius, a milder exile at Sidon, in Phnicia. The destruction of
Timasius required a more serious and regular mode of attack. That
great officer, the master-general of the armies of Theodosius, had
signalized his valor by a decisive victory, which he obtained over the
Goths of Thessaly; but he was too prone, after the example of his
sovereign, to enjoy the luxury of peace, and to abandon his confidence
to wicked and designing flatterers. Timasius had despised the public
clamor, by promoting an infamous dependent to the command of a cohort;
and he deserved to feel the ingratitude of Bargus, who was secretly
instigated by the favorite to accuse his patron of a treasonable
conspiracy. The general was arraigned before the tribunal of Arcadius
himself; and the principal eunuch stood by the side of the throne to
suggest the questions and answers of his sovereign. But as this form
of trial might be deemed partial and arbitrary, the further inquiry
into the crimes of Timasius was delegated to Saturninus and Procopius;
the former of consular rank, the latter still respected as the
father-in-law of the emperor Valens. The appearances of a fair and
legal proceeding were maintained by the blunt honesty of Procopius;
and he yielded with reluctance to the obsequious dexterity of his
colleague, who pronounced a sentence of condemnation against the
unfortunate Timasius. His immense riches were confiscated in the name
of the emperor, and for the benefit of the favorite; and he was doomed
to perpetual exile a Oasis, a solitary spot in the midst of the sandy
deserts of Libya. Secluded from all human converse, the master-general
of the Roman armies was lost forever to the world; but the
circumstances of his fate have been related in a various and
contradictory manner. It is insinuated that Eutropius despatched a
private order for his secret execution. It was reported, that, in
attempting to escape from Oasis, he perished in the desert, of thirst
and hunger; and that his dead body was found on the sands of Libya. It
has been asserted, with more confidence, that his son Syagrius, after
successfully eluding the pursuit of the agents and emissaries of the
court, collected a band of African robbers; that he rescued Timasius
from the place of his exile; and that both the father and the son
disappeared from the knowledge of mankind. But the ungrateful Bargus,
instead of being suffered to possess the reward of guilt was soon
after circumvented and destroyed, by the more powerful villany of the
minister himself, who retained sense and spirit enough to abhor the
instrument of his own crimes.

The public hatred, and the despair of individuals, continually
threatened, or seemed to threaten, the personal safety of Eutropius;
as well as of the numerous adherents, who were attached to his
fortune, and had been promoted by his venal favor. For their mutual
defence, he contrived the safeguard of a law, which violated every
principal of humanity and justice. I. It is enacted, in the name, and
by the authority of Arcadius, that all those who should conspire,
either with subjects or with strangers, against the lives of any of
the persons whom the emperor considers as the members of his own body,
shall be punished with death and confiscation. This species of
fictitious and metaphorical treason is extended to protect, not only
the illustrious
officers of the state and army, who were admitted into the sacred
consistory, but likewise the principal domestics of the palace, the
senators of Constantinople, the military commanders, and the civil
magistrates of the provinces; a vague and indefinite list, which,
under the successors of Constantine, included an obscure and numerous
train of subordinate ministers. II. This extreme severity might
perhaps be justified, had it been only directed to secure the
representatives of the sovereign from any actual violence in the
execution of their office. But the whole body of Imperial dependants
claimed a privilege, or rather impunity, which screened them, in the
loosest moments of their lives, from the hasty, perhaps the
justifiable, resentment of their fellow-citizens; and, by a strange
perversion of the laws, the same degree of guilt and punishment was
applied to a private quarrel, and to a deliberate conspiracy against
the emperor and the empire. The edicts of Arcadius most positively and
most absurdly declares, that in such cases of treason, thoughts and
actions ought to be punished with equal severity; that the knowledge
of a mischievous intention, unless it be instantly revealed, becomes
equally criminal with the intention itself; and that those rash men,
who shall presume to solicit the pardon of traitors, shall themselves
be branded with public and perpetual infamy. III. "With regard to the
sons of the traitors," (continues the emperor,) "although they ought
to share the punishment, since they will probably imitate the guilt,
of their parents, yet, by the special effect of our Imperial lenity,
we grant them their lives; but, at the same time, we declare them
incapable of inheriting, either on the father's or on the mother's
side, or of receiving any gift or legacy, from the testament either of
kinsmen or of strangers. Stigmatized with hereditary infamy, excluded
from the hopes of honors or fortune, let them endure the pangs of
poverty and contempt, till they shall consider life as a calamity, and
death as a comfort and relief." In such words, so well adapted to
insult the feelings of mankind, did the emperor, or rather his
favorite eunuch, applaud the moderation of a law, which transferred
the same unjust and inhuman penalties to the children of all those who
had seconded, or who had not disclosed, their fictitious conspiracies.
Some of the noblest regulations of Roman jurisprudence have been
suffered to expire; but this edict, a convenient and forcible engine
of ministerial tyranny, was carefully inserted in the codes of
Theodosius and Justinian; and the same maxims have been revived in
modern ages, to protect the electors of Germany, and the cardinals of
the church of Rome.

Yet these sanguinary laws, which spread terror among a disarmed and
dispirited people, were of too weak a texture to restrain the bold
enterprise of Tribigild the Ostrogoth. The colony of that warlike
nation, which had been planted by Theodosius in one of the most
fertile districts of Phrygia, impatiently compared the slow returns of
laborious husbandry with the successful rapine and liberal rewards of
Alaric; and their leader resented, as a personal affront, his own
ungracious reception in the palace of Constantinople. A soft and
wealthy province, in the heart of the empire, was astonished by the
sound of war; and the faithful vassal who had been disregarded or
oppressed, was again respected, as soon as he resumed the hostile
character of a Barbarian. The vineyards and fruitful fields, between
the rapid Marsyas and the winding Mæander, were consumed with fire;
the decayed walls of the cities crumbled into dust, at the first
stroke of an enemy; the trembling inhabitants escaped from a bloody
massacre to the shores of the Hellespont; and a considerable part of
Asia Minor was desolated by the rebellion of Tribigild. His rapid
progress was checked by the resistance of the peasants of Pamphylia;
and the Ostrogoths, attacked in a narrow pass, between the city of
Selgæ, a deep morass, and the craggy cliffs of Mount Taurus, were
defeated with the loss of their bravest troops. But the spirit of
their chief was not daunted by misfortune; and his army was
continually recruited by swarms of Barbarians and outlaws, who were
desirous of exercising the profession of robbery, under the more
honorable names of war and conquest. The rumors of the success of
Tribigild might for some time be suppressed by fear, or disguised by
flattery; yet they gradually alarmed both the court and the capital.
Every misfortune was exaggerated in dark and doubtful hints; and the
future designs of the rebels became the subject of anxious conjecture.
Whenever Tribigild advanced into the inland country, the Romans were
inclined to suppose that he meditated the passage of Mount Taurus, and
the invasion of Syria. If he descended towards the sea, they imputed,
and perhaps suggested, to the Gothic chief, the more dangerous project
of arming a fleet in the harbors of Ionia, and of extending his
depredations along the maritime coast, from the mouth of the Nile to
the port of Constantinople. The approach of danger, and the obstinacy
of Tribigild, who refused all terms of accommodation, compelled
Eutropius to summon a council of war. After claiming for himself the
privilege of a veteran soldier, the eunuch intrusted the guard of
Thrace and the Hellespont to Gainas the Goth, and the command of the
Asiatic army to his favorite, Leo; two generals, who differently, but
effectually, promoted the cause of the rebels. Leo, who, from the bulk
of his body, and the dulness of his mind, was surnamed the Ajax of the
East, had deserted his original trade of a woolcomber, to exercise,
with much less skill and success, the military profession; and his
uncertain operations were capriciously framed and executed, with an
ignorance of real difficulties, and a timorous neglect of every
favorable opportunity. The rashness of the Ostrogoths had drawn them
into a disadvantageous position between the Rivers Melas and
Eurymedon, where they were almost besieged by the peasants of
Pamphylia; but the arrival of an Imperial army, instead of completing
their destruction, afforded the means of safety and victory. Tribigild
surprised the unguarded camp of the Romans, in the darkness of the
night; seduced the faith of the greater part of the Barbarian
auxiliaries, and dissipated, without much effort, the troops, which
had been corrupted by the relaxation of discipline, and the luxury of
the capital. The discontent of Gainas, who had so boldly contrived and
executed the death of Rufinus, was irritated by the fortune of his
unworthy successor; he accused his own dishonorable patience under the
servile reign of a eunuch; and the ambitious Goth was convicted, at
least in the public opinion, of secretly fomenting the revolt of
Tribigild, with whom he was connected by a domestic, as well as by a
national alliance. When Gainas passed the Hellespont, to unite under
his standard the remains of the Asiatic troops, he skilfully adapted
his motions to the wishes of the Ostrogoths; abandoning, by his
retreat, the country which they desired to invade; or facilitating, by
his approach, the desertion of the Barbarian auxiliaries. To the
Imperial court he repeatedly magnified the valor, the genius, the
inexhaustible resources of Tribigild; confessed his own inability to
prosecute the war; and extorted the permission of negotiating with his
invincible adversary. The conditions of peace were dictated by the
haughty rebel; and the peremptory demand of the head of Eutropius
revealed the author and the design of this hostile conspiracy.

Chapter XXXII: Emperors Arcadius, Eutropius, Theodosius II. -- Part

The bold satirist, who has indulged his discontent by the partial and
passionate censure of the Christian emperors, violates the dignity,
rather than the truth, of history, by comparing the son of Theodosius
to one of those harmless and simple animals, who scarcely feel that
they are the property of their shepherd. Two passions, however, fear
and conjugal affection, awakened the languid soul of Arcadius: he was
terrified by the threats of a victorious Barbarian; and he yielded to
the tender eloquence of his wife Eudoxia, who, with a flood of
artificial tears, presenting her infant children to their father,
implored his justice for some real or imaginary insult, which she
imputed to the audacious eunuch. The emperor's hand was directed to
sign the condemnation of Eutropius; the magic spell, which during four
years had bound the prince and the people, was instantly dissolved;
and the acclamations that so lately hailed the merit and fortune of
the favorite, were converted into the clamors of the soldiers and
people, who reproached his crimes, and pressed his immediate
execution. In this hour of distress and despair, his only refuge was
in the sanctuary of the church, whose privileges he had wisely or
profanely attempted to circumscribe; and the most eloquent of the
saints, John Chrysostom, enjoyed the triumph of protecting a prostrate
minister, whose choice had raised him to the ecclesiastical throne of
Constantinople. The archbishop, ascending the pulpit of the cathedral,
that he might be distinctly seen and heard by an innumerable crowd of
either sex and of every age, pronounced a seasonable and pathetic
discourse on the forgiveness of injuries, and the instability of human
greatness. The agonies of the pale and affrighted wretch, who lay
grovelling under the table of the altar, exhibited a solemn and
instructive spectacle; and the orator, who was afterwards accused of
insulting the misfortunes of Eutropius, labored to excite the
contempt, that he might assuage the fury, of the people. The powers of
humanity, of superstition, and of eloquence, prevailed. The empress
Eudoxia was restrained by her own prejudices, or by those of her
subjects, from violating the sanctuary of the church; and Eutropius
was tempted to capitulate, by the milder arts of persuasion, and by an
oath, that his life should be spared. Careless of the dignity of their
sovereign, the new ministers of the palace immediately published an
edict to declare, that his late favorite had disgraced the names of
consul and patrician, to abolish his statues, to confiscate his
wealth, and to inflict a perpetual exile in the Island of Cyprus. A
despicable and decrepit eunuch could no longer alarm the fears of his
enemies; nor was he capable of enjoying what yet remained, the
comforts of peace, of solitude, and of a happy climate. But their
implacable revenge still envied him the last moments of a miserable
life, and Eutropius had no sooner touched the shores of Cyprus, than
he was hastily recalled. The vain hope of eluding, by a change of
place, the obligation of an oath, engaged the empress to transfer the
scene of his trial and execution from Constantinople to the adjacent
suburb of Chalcedon. The consul Aurelian pronounced the sentence; and
the motives of that sentence expose the jurisprudence of a despotic
government. The crimes which Eutropius had committed against the
people might have justified his death; but he was found guilty of
harnessing to his chariot the sacred
animals, who, from their breed or color, were reserved for the use of
the emperor alone.

While this domestic revolution was transacted, Gainas openly revolted
from his allegiance; united his forces at Thyatira in Lydia, with
those of Tribigild; and still maintained his superior ascendant over
the rebellious leader of the Ostrogoths. The confederate armies
advanced, without resistance, to the straits of the Hellespont and the
Bosphorus; and Arcadius was instructed to prevent the loss of his
Asiatic dominions, by resigning his authority and his person to the
faith of the Barbarians. The church of the holy martyr Euphemia,
situate on a lofty eminence near Chalcedon, was chosen for the place
of the interview. Gainas bowed with reverence at the feet of the
emperor, whilst he required the sacrifice of Aurelian and Saturninus,
two ministers of consular rank; and their naked necks were exposed, by
the haughty rebel, to the edge of the sword, till he condescended to
grant them a precarious and disgraceful respite. The Goths, according
to the terms of the agreement, were immediately transported from Asia
into Europe; and their victorious chief, who accepted the title of
master-general of the Roman armies, soon filled Constantinople with
his troops, and distributed among his dependants the honors and
rewards of the empire. In his early youth, Gainas had passed the
Danube as a suppliant and a fugitive: his elevation had been the work
of valor and fortune; and his indiscreet or perfidious conduct was the
cause of his rapid downfall. Notwithstanding the vigorous opposition
of the archbishop, he importunately claimed for his Arian sectaries
the possession of a peculiar church; and the pride of the Catholics
was offended by the public toleration of heresy. Every quarter of
Constantinople was filled with tumult and disorder; and the Barbarians
gazed with such ardor on the rich shops of the jewellers, and the
tables of the bankers, which were covered with gold and silver, that
it was judged prudent to remove those dangerous temptations from their
sight. They resented the injurious precaution; and some alarming
attempts were made, during the night, to attack and destroy with fire
the Imperial palace. In this state of mutual and suspicious hostility,
the guards and the people of Constantinople shut the gates, and rose
in arms to prevent or to punish the conspiracy of the Goths. During
the absence of Gainas, his troops were surprised and oppressed; seven
thousand Barbarians perished in this bloody massacre. In the fury of
the pursuit, the Catholics uncovered the roof, and continued to throw
down flaming logs of wood, till they overwhelmed their adversaries,
who had retreated to the church or conventicle of the Arians. Gainas
was either innocent of the design, or too confident of his success; he
was astonished by the intelligence that the flower of his army had
been ingloriously destroyed; that he himself was declared a public
enemy; and that his countryman, Fravitta, a brave and loyal
confederate, had assumed the management of the war by sea and land.
The enterprises of the rebel, against the cities of Thrace, were
encountered by a firm and well-ordered defence; his hungry soldiers
were soon reduced to the grass that grew on the margin of the
fortifications; and Gainas, who vainly regretted the wealth and luxury
of Asia, embraced a desperate resolution of forcing the passage of the
Hellespont. He was destitute of vessels; but the woods of the
Chersonesus afforded materials for rafts, and his intrepid Barbarians
did not refuse to trust themselves to the waves. But Fravitta
attentively watched the progress of their undertaking As soon as they
had gained the middle of the stream, the Roman galleys, impelled by
the full force of oars, of the current, and of a favorable wind,
rushed forwards in compact order, and with irresistible weight; and
the Hellespont was covered with the fragments of the Gothic shipwreck.
After the destruction of his hopes, and the loss of many thousands of
his bravest soldiers, Gainas, who could no longer aspire to govern or
to subdue the Romans, determined to resume the independence of a
savage life. A light and active body of Barbarian horse, disengaged
from their infantry and baggage, might perform in eight or ten days a
march of three hundred miles from the Hellespont to the Danube; the
garrisons of that important frontier had been gradually annihilated;
the river, in the month of December, would be deeply frozen; and the
unbounded prospect of Scythia was opened to the ambition of Gainas.
This design was secretly communicated to the national troops, who
devoted themselves to the fortunes of their leader; and before the
signal of departure was given, a great number of provincial
auxiliaries, whom he suspected of an attachment to their native
country, were perfidiously massacred. The Goths advanced, by rapid
marches, through the plains of Thrace; and they were soon delivered
from the fear of a pursuit, by the vanity of Fravitta, * who, instead
of extinguishing the war, hastened to enjoy the popular applause, and
to assume the peaceful honors of the consulship. But a formidable ally
appeared in arms to vindicate the majesty of the empire, and to guard
the peace and liberty of Scythia. The superior forces of Uldin, king
of the Huns, opposed the progress of Gainas; a hostile and ruined
country prohibited his retreat; he disdained to capitulate; and after
repeatedly attempting to cut his way through the ranks of the enemy,
he was slain, with his desperate followers, in the field of battle.
Eleven days after the naval victory of the Hellespont, the head of
Gainas, the inestimable gift of the conqueror, was received at
Constantinople with the most liberal expressions of gratitude; and the
public deliverance was celebrated by festivals and illuminations. The
triumphs of Arcadius became the subject of epic poems; and the
monarch, no longer oppressed by any hostile terrors, resigned himself
to the mild and absolute dominion of his wife, the fair and artful
Eudoxia, who was sullied her fame by the persecution of St. John

After the death of the indolent Nectarius, the successor of Gregory
Nazianzen, the church of Constantinople was distracted by the ambition
of rival candidates, who were not ashamed to solicit, with gold or
flattery, the suffrage of the people, or of the favorite. On this
occasion Eutropius seems to have deviated from his ordinary maxims;
and his uncorrupted judgment was determined only by the superior merit
of a stranger. In a late journey into the East, he had admired the
sermons of John, a native and presbyter of Antioch, whose name has
been distinguished by the epithet of Chrysostom, or the Golden Mouth.
A private order was despatched to the governor of Syria; and as the
people might be unwilling to resign their favorite preacher, he was
transported, with speed and secrecy in a post- chariot, from Antioch
to Constantinople. The unanimous and unsolicited consent of the court,
the clergy, and the people, ratified the choice of the minister; and,
both as a saint and as an orator, the new archbishop surpassed the
sanguine expectations of the public. Born of a noble and opulent
family, in the capital of Syria, Chrysostom had been educated, by the
care of a tender mother, under the tuition of the most skilful
masters. He studied the art of rhetoric in the school of Libanius; and
that celebrated sophist, who soon discovered the talents of his
disciple, ingenuously confessed that John would have deserved to
succeed him, had he not been stolen away by the Christians. His piety
soon disposed him to receive the sacrament of baptism; to renounce the
lucrative and honorable profession of the law; and to bury himself in
the adjacent desert, where he subdued the lusts of the flesh by an
austere penance of six years. His infirmities compelled him to return
to the society of mankind; and the authority of Meletius devoted his
talents to the service of the church: but in the midst of his family,
and afterwards on the archiepiscopal throne, Chrysostom still
persevered in the practice of the monastic virtues. The ample
revenues, which his predecessors had consumed in pomp and luxury, he
diligently applied to the establishment of hospitals; and the
multitudes, who were supported by his charity, preferred the eloquent
and edifying discourses of their archbishop to the amusements of the
theatre or the circus. The monuments of that eloquence, which was
admired near twenty years at Antioch and Constantinople, have been
carefully preserved; and the possession of near one thousand sermons,
or homilies has authorized the critics of succeeding times to
appreciate the genuine merit of Chrysostom. They unanimously attribute
to the Christian orator the free command of an elegant and copious
language; the judgment to conceal the advantages which he derived from
the knowledge of rhetoric and philosophy; an inexhaustible fund of
metaphors and similitudes of ideas and images, to vary and illustrate
the most familiar topics; the happy art of engaging the passions in
the service of virtue; and of exposing the folly, as well as the
turpitude, of vice, almost with the truth and spirit of a dramatic

The pastoral labors of the archbishop of Constantinople provoked, and
gradually united against him, two sorts of enemies; the aspiring
clergy, who envied his success, and the obstinate sinners, who were
offended by his reproofs. When Chrysostom thundered, from the pulpit
of St. Sophia, against the degeneracy of the Christians, his shafts
were spent among the crowd, without wounding, or even marking, the
character of any individual. When he declaimed against the peculiar
vices of the rich, poverty might obtain a transient consolation from
his invectives; but the guilty were still sheltered by their numbers;
and the reproach itself was dignified by some ideas of superiority and
enjoyment. But as the pyramid rose towards the summit, it insensibly
diminished to a point; and the magistrates, the ministers, the
favorite eunuchs, the ladies of the court, the empress Eudoxia
herself, had a much larger share of guilt to divide among a smaller
proportion of criminals. The personal applications of the audience
were anticipated, or confirmed, by the testimony of their own
conscience; and the intrepid preacher assumed the dangerous right of
exposing both the offence and the offender to the public abhorrence.
The secret resentment of the court encouraged the discontent of the
clergy and monks of Constantinople, who were too hastily reformed by
the fervent zeal of their archbishop. He had condemned, from the
pulpit, the domestic females of the clergy of Constantinople, who,
under the name of servants, or sisters, afforded a perpetual occasion
either of sin or of scandal. The silent and solitary ascetics, who had
secluded themselves from the world, were entitled to the warmest
approbation of Chrysostom; but he despised and stigmatized, as the
disgrace of their holy profession, the crowd of degenerate monks, who,
from some unworthy motives of pleasure or profit, so frequently
infested the streets of the capital. To the voice of persuasion, the
archbishop was obliged to add the terrors of authority; and his ardor,
in the exercise of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, was not always exempt
from passion; nor was it always guided by prudence. Chrysostom was
naturally of a choleric disposition. Although he struggled, according
to the precepts of the gospel, to love his private enemies, he
indulged himself in the privilege of hating the enemies of God and of
the church; and his sentiments were sometimes delivered with too much
energy of countenance and expression. He still maintained, from some
considerations of health or abstinence, his former habits of taking
his repasts alone; and this inhospitable custom, which his enemies
imputed to pride, contributed, at least, to nourish the infirmity of a
morose and unsocial humor. Separated from that familiar intercourse,
which facilitates the knowledge and the despatch of business, he
reposed an unsuspecting confidence in his deacon Serapion; and seldom
applied his speculative knowledge of human nature to the particular
character, either of his dependants, or of his equals. Conscious of
the purity of his intentions, and perhaps of the superiority of his
genius, the archbishop of Constantinople extended the jurisdiction of
the Imperial city, that he might enlarge the sphere of his pastoral
labors; and the conduct which the profane imputed to an ambitious
motive, appeared to Chrysostom himself in the light of a sacred and
indispensable duty. In his visitation through the Asiatic provinces,
he deposed thirteen bishops of Lydia and Phrygia; and indiscreetly
declared that a deep corruption of simony and licentiousness had
infected the whole episcopal order. If those bishops were innocent,
such a rash and unjust condemnation must excite a well- grounded
discontent. If they were guilty, the numerous associates of their
guilt would soon discover that their own safety depended on the ruin
of the archbishop; whom they studied to represent as the tyrant of the
Eastern church.

This ecclesiastical conspiracy was managed by Theophilus, archbishop
of Alexandria, an active and ambitious prelate, who displayed the
fruits of rapine in monuments of ostentation. His national dislike to
the rising greatness of a city which degraded him from the second to
the third rank in the Christian world, was exasperated by some
personal dispute with Chrysostom himself. By the private invitation of
the empress, Theophilus landed at Constantinople with a stout body of
Egyptian mariners, to encounter the populace; and a train of dependent
bishops, to secure, by their voices, the majority of a synod. The
synod was convened in the suburb of Chalcedon, surnamed the Oak, where
Rufinus had erected a stately church and monastery; and their
proceedings were continued during fourteen days, or sessions. A bishop
and a deacon accused the archbishop of Constantinople; but the
frivolous or improbable nature of the forty-seven articles which they
presented against him, may justly be considered as a fair and
unexceptional panegyric. Four successive summons were signified to
Chrysostom; but he still refused to trust either his person or his
reputation in the hands of his implacable enemies, who, prudently
declining the examination of any particular charges, condemned his
contumacious disobedience, and hastily pronounced a sentence of
deposition. The synod of the Oak
immediately addressed the emperor to ratify and execute their
judgment, and charitably insinuated, that the penalties of treason
might be inflicted on the audacious preacher, who had reviled, under
the name of Jezebel, the empress Eudoxia herself. The archbishop was
rudely arrested, and conducted through the city, by one of the
Imperial messengers, who landed him, after a short navigation, near
the entrance of the Euxine; from whence, before the expiration of two
days, he was gloriously recalled.

The first astonishment of his faithful people had been mute and
passive: they suddenly rose with unanimous and irresistible fury.
Theophilus escaped, but the promiscuous crowd of monks and Egyptian
mariners was slaughtered without pity in the streets of
Constantinople. A seasonable earthquake justified the interposition of
Heaven; the torrent of sedition rolled forwards to the gates of the
palace; and the empress, agitated by fear or remorse, threw herself at
the feet of Arcadius, and confessed that the public safety could be
purchased only by the restoration of Chrysostom. The Bosphorus was
covered with innumerable vessels; the shores of Europe and Asia were
profusely illuminated; and the acclamations of a victorious people
accompanied, from the port to the cathedral, the triumph of the
archbishop; who, too easily, consented to resume the exercise of his
functions, before his sentence had been legally reversed by the
authority of an ecclesiastical synod. Ignorant, or careless, of the
impending danger, Chrysostom indulged his zeal, or perhaps his
resentment; declaimed with peculiar asperity against female
vices; and condemned the profane honors which were addressed, almost
in the precincts of St. Sophia, to the statue of the empress. His
imprudence tempted his enemies to inflame the haughty spirit of
Eudoxia, by reporting, or perhaps inventing, the famous exordium of a
sermon, "Herodias is again furious; Herodias again dances; she once
more requires the head of John;" an insolent allusion, which, as a
woman and a sovereign, it was impossible for her to forgive. The short
interval of a perfidious truce was employed to concert more effectual
measures for the disgrace and ruin of the archbishop. A numerous
council of the Eastern prelates, who were guided from a distance by
the advice of Theophilus, confirmed the validity, without examining
the justice, of the former sentence; and a detachment of Barbarian
troops was introduced into the city, to suppress the emotions of the
people. On the vigil of Easter, the solemn administration of baptism
was rudely interrupted by the soldiers, who alarmed the modesty of the
naked catechumens, and violated, by their presence, the awful
mysteries of the Christian worship. Arsacius occupied the church of
St. Sophia, and the archiepiscopal throne. The Catholics retreated to
the baths of Constantine, and afterwards to the fields; where they
were still pursued and insulted by the guards, the bishops, and the
magistrates. The fatal day of the second and final exile of Chrysostom
was marked by the conflagration of the cathedral, of the senate-house,
and of the adjacent buildings; and this calamity was imputed, without
proof, but not without probability, to the despair of a persecuted

Cicero might claim some merit, if his voluntary banishment preserved
the peace of the republic; but the submission of Chrysostom was the
indispensable duty of a Christian and a subject. Instead of listening
to his humble prayer, that he might be permitted to reside at Cyzicus,
or Nicomedia, the inflexible empress assigned for his exile the remote
and desolate town of Cucusus, among the ridges of Mount Taurus, in the
Lesser Armenia. A secret hope was entertained, that the archbishop
might perish in a difficult and dangerous march of seventy days, in
the heat of summer, through the provinces of Asia Minor, where he was
continually threatened by the hostile attacks of the Isaurians, and
the more implacable fury of the monks. Yet Chrysostom arrived in
safety at the place of his confinement; and the three years which he
spent at Cucusus, and the neighboring town of Arabissus, were the last
and most glorious of his life. His character was consecrated by
absence and persecution; the faults of his administration were no
longer remembered; but every tongue repeated the praises of his genius
and virtue: and the respectful attention of the Christian world was
fixed on a desert spot among the mountains of Taurus. From that
solitude the archbishop, whose active mind was invigorated by
misfortunes, maintained a strict and frequent correspondence with the
most distant provinces; exhorted the separate congregation of his
faithful adherents to persevere in their allegiance; urged the
destruction of the temples of Phnicia, and the extirpation of heresy
in the Isle of Cyprus; extended his pastoral care to the missions of
Persia and Scythia; negotiated, by his ambassadors, with the Roman
pontiff and the emperor Honorius; and boldly appealed, from a partial
synod, to the supreme tribunal of a free and general council. The mind
of the illustrious exile was still independent; but his captive body
was exposed to the revenge of the oppressors, who continued to abuse
the name and authority of Arcadius. An order was despatched for the
instant removal of Chrysostom to the extreme desert of Pityus: and his
guards so faithfully obeyed their cruel instructions, that, before he
reached the sea-coast of the Euxine, he expired at Comana, in Pontus,
in the sixtieth year of his age. The succeeding generation
acknowledged his innocence and merit. The archbishops of the East, who
might blush that their predecessors had been the enemies of
Chrysostom, were gradually disposed, by the firmness of the Roman
pontiff, to restore the honors of that venerable name. At the pious
solicitation of the clergy and people of Constantinople, his relics,
thirty years after his death, were transported from their obscure
sepulchre to the royal city. The emperor Theodosius advanced to
receive them as far as Chalcedon; and, falling prostrate on the
coffin, implored, in the name of his guilty parents, Arcadius and
Eudoxia, the forgiveness of the injured saint.

Chapter XXXII: Emperors Arcadius, Eutropius, Theodosius II. -- Part

Yet a reasonable doubt may be entertained, whether any stain of
hereditary guilt could be derived from Arcadius to his successor.
Eudoxia was a young and beautiful woman, who indulged her passions,
and despised her husband; Count John enjoyed, at least, the familiar
confidence of the empress; and the public named him as the real father
of Theodosius the younger. The birth of a son was accepted, however,
by the pious husband, as an event the most fortunate and honorable to
himself, to his family, and to the Eastern world: and the royal
infant, by an unprecedented favor, was invested with the titles of
Cæsar and Augustus. In less than four years afterwards, Eudoxia, in
the bloom of youth, was destroyed by the consequences of a
miscarriage; and this untimely death confounded the prophecy of a holy
bishop, who, amidst the universal joy, had ventured to foretell, that
she should behold the long and auspicious reign of her glorious son.
The Catholics applauded the justice of Heaven, which avenged the
persecution of St. Chrysostom; and perhaps the emperor was the only
person who sincerely bewailed the loss of the haughty and rapacious
Eudoxia. Such a domestic misfortune afflicted him
more deeply than the public calamities of the East; the licentious
excursions, from Pontus to Palestine, of the Isaurian robbers, whose
impunity accused the weakness of the government; and the earthquakes,
the conflagrations, the famine, and the flights of locusts, which the
popular discontent was equally disposed to attribute to the incapacity
of the monarch. At length, in the thirty-first year of his age, after
a reign (if we may abuse that word) of thirteen years, three months,
and fifteen days, Arcadius expired in the palace of Constantinople. It
is impossible to delineate his character; since, in a period very
copiously furnished with historical materials, it has not been
possible to remark one action that properly belongs to the son of the
great Theodosius.

The historian Procopius has indeed illuminated the mind of the dying
emperor with a ray of human prudence, or celestial wisdom. Arcadius
considered, with anxious foresight, the helpless condition of his son
Theodosius, who was no more than seven years of age, the dangerous
factions of a minority, and the aspiring spirit of Jezdegerd, the
Persian monarch. Instead of tempting the allegiance of an ambitious
subject, by the participation of supreme power, he boldly appealed to
the magnanimity of a king; and placed, by a solemn testament, the
sceptre of the East in the hands of Jezdegerd himself. The royal
guardian accepted and discharged this honorable trust with unexampled
fidelity; and the infancy of Theodosius was protected by the arms and
councils of Persia. Such is the singular narrative of Procopius; and
his veracity is not disputed by Agathias, while he presumes to dissent
from his judgment, and to arraign the wisdom of a Christian emperor,
who, so rashly, though so fortunately, committed his son and his
dominions to the unknown faith of a stranger, a rival, and a heathen.
At the distance of one hundred and fifty years, this political
question might be debated in the court of Justinian; but a prudent
historian will refuse to examine the propriety
, till he has ascertained the truth, of the testament of Arcadius. As
it stands without a parallel in the history of the world, we may
justly require, that it should be attested by the positive and
unanimous evidence of contemporaries. The strange novelty of the
event, which excites our distrust, must have attracted their notice;
and their universal silence annihilates the vain tradition of the
succeeding age.

The maxims of Roman jurisprudence, if they could fairly be transferred
from private property to public dominion, would have adjudged to the
emperor Honorius the guardianship of his nephew, till he had attained,
at least, the fourteenth year of his age. But the weakness of
Honorius, and the calamities of his reign, disqualified him from
prosecuting this natural claim; and such was the absolute separation
of the two monarchies, both in interest and affection, that
Constantinople would have obeyed, with less reluctance, the orders of
the Persian, than those of the Italian, court. Under a prince whose
weakness is disguised by the external signs of manhood and discretion,
the most worthless favorites may secretly dispute the empire of the
palace; and dictate to submissive provinces the commands of a master,
whom they direct and despise. But the ministers of a child, who is
incapable of arming them with the sanction of the royal name, must
acquire and exercise an independent authority. The great officers of
the state and army, who had been appointed before the death of
Arcadius, formed an aristocracy, which might have inspired them with
the idea of a free republic; and the government of the Eastern empire
was fortunately assumed by the præfect Anthemius, who obtained, by his
superior abilities, a lasting ascendant over the minds of his equals.
The safety of the young emperor proved the merit and integrity of
Anthemius; and his prudent firmness sustained the force and reputation
of an infant reign. Uldin, with a formidable host of Barbarians, was
encamped in the heart of Thrace; he proudly rejected all terms of
accommodation; and, pointing to the rising sun, declared to the Roman
ambassadors, that the course of that planet should alone terminate the
conquest of the Huns. But the desertion of his confederates, who were
privately convinced of the justice and liberality of the Imperial
ministers, obliged Uldin to repass the Danube: the tribe of the
Scyrri, which composed his rear-guard, was almost extirpated; and many
thousand captives were dispersed to cultivate, with servile labor, the
fields of Asia. In the midst of the public triumph, Constantinople was
protected by a strong enclosure of new and more extensive walls; the
same vigilant care was applied to restore the fortifications of the
Illyrian cities; and a plan was judiciously conceived, which, in the
space of seven years, would have secured the command of the Danube, by
establishing on that river a perpetual fleet of two hundred and fifty
armed vessels.

But the Romans had so long been accustomed to the authority of a
monarch, that the first, even among the females, of the Imperial
family, who displayed any courage or capacity, was permitted to ascend
the vacant throne of Theodosius. His sister Pulcheria, who was only
two years older than himself, received, at the age of sixteen, the
title of Augusta
; and though her favor might be sometimes clouded by caprice or
intrigue, she continued to govern the Eastern empire near forty years;
during the long minority of her brother, and after his death, in her
own name, and in the name of Marcian, her nominal husband. From a
motive either of prudence or religion, she embraced a life of
celibacy; and notwithstanding some aspersions on the chastity of
Pulcheria, this resolution, which she communicated to her sisters
Arcadia and Marina, was celebrated by the Christian world, as the
sublime effort of heroic piety. In the presence of the clergy and
people, the three daughters of Arcadius dedicated their virginity to
God; and the obligation of their solemn vow was inscribed on a tablet
of gold and gems; which they publicly offered in the great church of
Constantinople. Their palace was converted into a monastery; and all
males, except the guides of their conscience, the saints who had
forgotten the distinction of sexes, were scrupulously excluded from
the holy threshold. Pulcheria, her two sisters, and a chosen train of
favorite damsels, formed a religious community: they denounced the
vanity of dress; interrupted, by frequent fasts, their simple and
frugal diet; allotted a portion of their time to works of embroidery;
and devoted several hours of the day and night to the exercises of
prayer and psalmody. The piety of a Christian virgin was adorned by
the zeal and liberality of an empress. Ecclesiastical history
describes the splendid churches, which were built at the expense of
Pulcheria, in all the provinces of the East; her charitable
foundations for the benefit of strangers and the poor; the ample
donations which she assigned for the perpetual maintenance of monastic
societies; and the active severity with which she labored to suppress
the opposite heresies of Nestorius and Eutyches. Such virtues were
supposed to deserve the peculiar favor of the Deity: and the relics of
martyrs, as well as the knowledge of future events, were communicated
in visions and revelations to the Imperial saint. Yet the devotion of
Pulcheria never diverted her indefatigable attention from temporal
affairs; and she alone, among all the descendants of the great
Theodosius, appears to have inherited any share of his manly spirit
and abilities. The elegant and familiar use which she had acquired,
both of the Greek and Latin languages, was readily applied to the
various occasions of speaking or writing, on public business: her
deliberations were maturely weighed; her actions were prompt and
decisive; and, while she moved, without noise or ostentation, the
wheel of government, she discreetly attributed to the genius of the
emperor the long tranquillity of his reign. In the last years of his
peaceful life, Europe was indeed afflicted by the arms of war; but the
more extensive provinces of Asia still continued to enjoy a profound
and permanent repose. Theodosius the younger was never reduced to the
disgraceful necessity of encountering and punishing a rebellious
subject: and since we cannot applaud the vigor, some praise may be due
to the mildness and prosperity, of the administration of Pulcheria.

The Roman world was deeply interested in the education of its master.
A regular course of study and exercise was judiciously instituted; of
the military exercises of riding, and shooting with the bow; of the
liberal studies of grammar, rhetoric, and philosophy: the most skilful
masters of the East ambitiously solicited the attention of their royal
pupil; and several noble youths were introduced into the palace, to
animate his diligence by the emulation of friendship. Pulcheria alone
discharged the important task of instructing her brother in the arts
of government; but her precepts may countenance some suspicions of the
extent of her capacity, or of the purity of her intentions. She taught
him to maintain a grave and majestic deportment; to walk, to hold his
robes, to seat himself on his throne, in a manner worthy of a great
prince; to abstain from laughter; to listen with condescension; to
return suitable answers; to assume, by turns, a serious or a placid
countenance: in a word, to represent with grace and dignity the
external figure of a Roman emperor. But Theodosius was never excited
to support the weight and glory of an illustrious name: and, instead
of aspiring to support his ancestors, he degenerated (if we may
presume to measure the degrees of incapacity) below the weakness of
his father and his uncle. Arcadius and Honorius had been assisted by
the guardian care of a parent, whose lessons were enforced by his
authority and example. But the unfortunate prince, who is born in the
purple, must remain a stranger to the voice of truth; and the son of
Arcadius was condemned to pass his perpetual infancy encompassed only
by a servile train of women and eunuchs. The ample leisure which he
acquired by neglecting the essential duties of his high office, was
filled by idle amusements and unprofitable studies. Hunting was the
only active pursuit that could tempt him beyond the limits of the
palace; but he most assiduously labored, sometimes by the light of a
midnight lamp, in the mechanic occupations of painting and carving;
and the elegance with which he transcribed religious books entitled
the Roman emperor to the singular epithet of Calligraphes
, or a fair writer. Separated from the world by an impenetrable veil,
Theodosius trusted the persons whom he loved; he loved those who were
accustomed to amuse and flatter his indolence; and as he never perused
the papers that were presented for the royal signature, the acts of
injustice the most repugnant to his character were frequently
perpetrated in his name. The emperor himself was chaste, temperate,
liberal, and merciful; but these qualities, which can only deserve the
name of virtues when they are supported by courage and regulated by
discretion, were seldom beneficial, and they sometimes proved
mischievous, to mankind. His mind, enervated by a royal education, was
oppressed and degraded by abject superstition: he fasted, he sung
psalms, he blindly accepted the miracles and doctrines with which his
faith was continually nourished. Theodosius devoutly worshipped the
dead and living saints of the Catholic church; and he once refused to
eat, till an insolent monk, who had cast an excommunication on his
sovereign, condescended to heal the spiritual wound which he had

The story of a fair and virtuous maiden, exalted from a private
condition to the Imperial throne, might be deemed an incredible
romance, if such a romance had not been verified in the marriage of
Theodosius. The celebrated Athenais was educated by her father
Leontius in the religion and sciences of the Greeks; and so
advantageous was the opinion which the Athenian philosopher
entertained of his contemporaries, that he divided his patrimony
between his two sons, bequeathing to his daughter a small legacy of
one hundred pieces of gold, in the lively confidence that her beauty
and merit would be a sufficient portion. The jealousy and avarice of
her brothers soon compelled Athenais to seek a refuge at
Constantinople; and, with some hopes, either of justice or favor, to
throw herself at the feet of Pulcheria. That sagacious princess
listened to her eloquent complaint; and secretly destined the daughter
of the philosopher Leontius for the future wife of the emperor of the
East, who had now attained the twentieth year of his age. She easily
excited the curiosity of her brother, by an interesting picture of the
charms of Athenais; large eyes, a well- proportioned nose, a fair
complexion, golden locks, a slender person, a graceful demeanor, an
understanding improved by study, and a virtue tried by distress.
Theodosius, concealed behind a curtain in the apartment of his sister,
was permitted to behold the Athenian virgin: the modest youth
immediately declared his pure and honorable love; and the royal
nuptials were celebrated amidst the acclamations of the capital and
the provinces. Athenais, who was easily persuaded to renounce the
errors of Paganism, received at her baptism the Christian name of
Eudocia; but the cautious Pulcheria withheld the title of Augusta,
till the wife of Theodosius had approved her fruitfulness by the birth
of a daughter, who espoused, fifteen years afterwards, the emperor of
the West. The brothers of Eudocia obeyed, with some anxiety, her
Imperial summons; but as she could easily forgive their unfortunate
unkindness, she indulged the tenderness, or perhaps the vanity, of a
sister, by promoting them to the rank of consuls and præfects. In the
luxury of the palace, she still cultivated those ingenuous arts which
had contributed to her greatness; and wisely dedicated her talents to
the honor of religion, and of her husband. Eudocia composed a poetical
paraphrase of the first eight books of the Old Testament, and of the
prophecies of Daniel and Zechariah; a cento of the verses of Homer,
applied to the life and miracles of Christ, the legend of St. Cyprian,
and a panegyric on the Persian victories of Theodosius; and her
writings, which were applauded by a servile and superstitious age,
have not been disdained by the candor of impartial criticism. The
fondness of the emperor was not abated by time and possession; and
Eudocia, after the marriage of her daughter, was permitted to
discharge her grateful vows by a solemn pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Her
ostentatious progress through the East may seem inconsistent with the
spirit of Christian humility; she pronounced, from a throne of gold
and gems, an eloquent oration to the senate of Antioch, declared her
royal intention of enlarging the walls of the city, bestowed a
donative of two hundred pounds of gold to restore the public baths,
and accepted the statues, which were decreed by the gratitude of
Antioch. In the Holy Land, her alms and pious foundations exceeded the
munificence of the great Helena, and though the public treasure might
be impoverished by this excessive liberality, she enjoyed the
conscious satisfaction of returning to Constantinople with the chains
of St. Peter, the right arm of St. Stephen, and an undoubted picture
of the Virgin, painted by St. Luke. But this pilgrimage was the fatal
term of the glories of Eudocia. Satiated with empty pomp, and
unmindful, perhaps, of her obligations to Pulcheria, she ambitiously
aspired to the government of the Eastern empire; the palace was
distracted by female discord; but the victory was at last decided, by
the superior ascendant of the sister of Theodosius. The execution of
Paulinus, master of the offices, and the disgrace of Cyrus, Prætorian
præfect of the East, convinced the public that the favor of Eudocia
was insufficient to protect her most faithful friends; and the
uncommon beauty of Paulinus encouraged the secret rumor, that his
guilt was that of a successful lover. As soon as the empress perceived
that the affection of Theodosius was irretrievably lost, she requested
the permission of retiring to the distant solitude of Jerusalem. She
obtained her request; but the jealousy of Theodosius, or the
vindictive spirit of Pulcheria, pursued her in her last retreat; and
Saturninus, count of the domestics, was directed to punish with death
two ecclesiastics, her most favored servants. Eudocia instantly
revenged them by the assassination of the count; the furious passions
which she indulged on this suspicious occasion, seemed to justify the
severity of Theodosius; and the empress, ignominiously stripped of the
honors of her rank, was disgraced, perhaps unjustly, in the eyes of
the world. The remainder of the life of Eudocia, about sixteen years,
was spent in exile and devotion; and the approach of age, the death of
Theodosius, the misfortunes of her only daughter, who was led a
captive from Rome to Carthage, and the society of the Holy Monks of
Palestine, insensibly confirmed the religious temper of her mind.
After a full experience of the vicissitudes of human life, the
daughter of the philosopher Leontius expired, at Jerusalem, in the
sixty-seventh year of her age; protesting, with her dying breath, that
she had never transgressed the bounds of innocence and friendship.

The gentle mind of Theodosius was never inflamed by the ambition of
conquest, or military renown; and the slight alarm of a Persian war
scarcely interrupted the tranquillity of the East. The motives of this
war were just and honorable. In the last year of the reign of
Jezdegerd, the supposed guardian of Theodosius, a bishop, who aspired
to the crown of martyrdom, destroyed one of the fire-temples of Susa.
His zeal and obstinacy were revenged on his brethren: the Magi excited
a cruel persecution; and the intolerant zeal of Jezdegerd was imitated
by his son Varanes, or Bahram, who soon afterwards ascended the
throne. Some Christian fugitives, who escaped to the Roman frontier,
were sternly demanded, and generously refused; and the refusal,
aggravated by commercial disputes, soon kindled a war between the
rival monarchies. The mountains of Armenia, and the plains of
Mesopotamia, were filled with hostile armies; but the operations of
two successive campaigns were not productive of any decisive or
memorable events. Some engagements were fought, some towns were
besieged, with various and doubtful success: and if the Romans failed
in their attempt to recover the long-lost possession of Nisibis, the
Persians were repulsed from the walls of a Mesopotamian city, by the
valor of a martial bishop, who pointed his thundering engine in the
name of St. Thomas the Apostle. Yet the splendid victories which the
incredible speed of the messenger Palladius repeatedly announced to
the palace of Constantinople, were celebrated with festivals and
panegyrics. From these panegyrics the historians of the age might
borrow their extraordinary, and, perhaps, fabulous tales; of the proud
challenge of a Persian hero, who was entangled by the net, and
despatched by the sword, of Areobindus the Goth; of the ten thousand
, who were slain in the attack of the Roman camp; and of the hundred
thousand Arabs, or Saracens, who were impelled by a panic terror to
throw themselves headlong into the Euphrates. Such events may be
disbelieved or disregarded; but the charity of a bishop, Acacius of
Amida, whose name might have dignified the saintly calendar, shall not
be lost in oblivion. Boldly declaring, that vases of gold and silver

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