The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. II
Edward Gibbon

Part 3 out of 16

honorable appellation. ^182 ^! As we are unacquainted with the
degree of episcopal zeal and courage which prevailed at that
time, it is not in our power to draw any useful inferences from
the former of these facts: but the latter may serve to justify a
very important and probable conclusion. According to the
distribution of Roman provinces, Palestine may be considered as
the sixteenth part of the Eastern empire: ^183 and since there
were some governors, who from a real or affected clemency had
preserved their hands unstained with the blood of the faithful,
^184 it is reasonable to believe, that the country which had
given birth to Christianity, produced at least the sixteenth part
of the martyrs who suffered death within the dominions of
Galerius and Maximin; the whole might consequently amount to
about fifteen hundred, a number which, if it is equally divided
between the ten years of the persecution, will allow an annual
consumption of one hundred and fifty martyrs. Allotting the same
proportion to the provinces of Italy, Africa, and perhaps Spain,
where, at the end of two or three years, the rigor of the penal
laws was either suspended or abolished, the multitude of
Christians in the Roman empire, on whom a capital punishment was
inflicted by a judicia, sentence, will be reduced to somewhat
less than two thousand persons. Since it cannot be doubted that
the Christians were more numerous, and their enemies more
exasperated, in the time of Diocletian, than they had ever been
in any former persecution, this probable and moderate computation
may teach us to estimate the number of primitive saints and
martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the important purpose of
introducing Christianity into the world.

[Footnote *: Perhaps there never was an instance of an author
committing so deliberately the fault which he reprobates so
strongly in others. What is the dexterous management of the more
inartificial historians of Christianity, in exaggerating the
numbers of the martyrs, compared to the unfair address with which
Gibbon here quietly dismisses from the account all the horrible
and excruciating tortures which fell short of death? The reader
may refer to the xiith chapter (book viii.) of Eusebius for the
description and for the scenes of these tortures. - M.]

[Footnote 182: Eusebius de Martyr. Palestin. c. 13. He closes
his narration by assuring us that these were the martyrdoms
inflicted in Palestine, during the whole course of the
persecution. The 9th chapter of his viiith book, which relates
to the province of Thebais in Egypt, may seem to contradict our
moderate computation; but it will only lead us to admire the
artful management of the historian. Choosing for the scene of
the most exquisite cruelty the most remote and sequestered
country of the Roman empire, he relates that in Thebais from ten
to one hundred persons had frequently suffered martyrdom in the
same day. But when he proceeds to mention his own journey into
Egypt, his language insensibly becomes more cautious and
moderate. Instead of a large, but definite number, he speaks of
many Christians, and most artfully selects two ambiguous words,
which may signify either what he had seen, or what he had heard;
either the expectation, or the execution of the punishment.
Having thus provided a secure evasion, he commits the equivocal
passage to his readers and translators; justly conceiving that
their piety would induce them to prefer the most favorable sense.

There was perhaps some malice in the remark of Theodorus
Metochita, that all who, like Eusebius, had been conversant with
the Egyptians, delighted in an obscure and intricate style. (See
Valesius ad loc.)

[Footnote !: This calculation is made from the martyrs, of whom
Eusebius speaks by name; but he recognizes a much greater number.

Thus the ninth and tenth chapters of his work are entitled, "Of
Antoninus, Zebinus, Germanus, and other martyrs; of Peter the
monk. of Asclepius the Maroionite, and other martyrs." [Are
these vague contents of chapters very good authority? - M.]
Speaking of those who suffered under Diocletian, he says, "I will
only relate the death of one of these, from which, the reader may
divine what befell the rest." Hist. Eccl. viii. 6. [This relates
only to the martyrs in the royal household. - M.] Dodwell had
made, before Gibbon, this calculation and these objections; but
Ruinart (Act. Mart. Pref p. 27, et seq.) has answered him in a
peremptory manner: Nobis constat Eusebium in historia infinitos
passim martyres admisisse. quamvis revera paucorum nomina
recensuerit. Nec alium Eusebii interpretem quam ipsummet
Eusebium proferimus, qui (l. iii. c. 33) ait sub Trajano
plurimosa ex fidelibus martyrii certamen subiisse (l. v. init.)
sub Antonino et Vero innumerabiles prope martyres per universum
orbem enituisse affirmat. (L. vi. c. 1.) Severum persecutionem
concitasse refert, in qua per omnes ubique locorum Ecclesias, ab
athletis pro pietate certantibus, illustria confecta fuerunt
martyria. Sic de Decii, sic de Valeriani, persecutionibus
loquitur, quae an Dodwelli faveant conjectionibus judicet aequus
lector. Even in the persecutions which Gibbon has represented as
much more mild than that of Diocletian, the number of martyrs
appears much greater than that to which he limits the martyrs of
the latter: and this number is attested by incontestable
monuments. I will quote but one example. We find among the
letters of St. Cyprian one from Lucianus to Celerinus, written
from the depth of a prison, in which Lucianus names seventeen of
his brethren dead, some in the quarries, some in the midst of
tortures some of starvation in prison. Jussi sumus (he proceeds)
secundum prae ceptum imperatoris, fame et siti necari, et reclusi
sumus in duabus cellis, ta ut nos afficerent fame et siti et
ignis vapore. - G.]

[Footnote 183: When Palestine was divided into three, the
praefecture of the East contained forty-eight provinces. As the
ancient distinctions of nations were long since abolished, the
Romans distributed the provinces according to a general
proportion of their extent and opulence.]

[Footnote 184: Ut gloriari possint nullam se innocentium
poremisse, nam et ipse audivi aloquos gloriantes, quia
administratio sua, in hac paris merit incruenta. Lactant.
Institur. Divin v. 11.]

We shall conclude this chapter by a melancholy truth, which
obtrudes itself on the reluctant mind; that even admitting,
without hesitation or inquiry, all that history has recorded, or
devotion has feigned, on the subject of martyrdoms, it must still
be acknowledged, that the Christians, in the course of their
intestine dissensions, have inflicted far greater severities on
each other, than they had experienced from the zeal of infidels.
During the ages of ignorance which followed the subversion of the
Roman empire in the West, the bishops of the Imperial city
extended their dominion over the laity as well as clergy of the
Latin church. The fabric of superstition which they had erected,
and which might long have defied the feeble efforts of reason,
was at length assaulted by a crowd of daring fanatics, who from
the twelfth to the sixteenth century assumed the popular
character of reformers. The church of Rome defended by violence
the empire which she had acquired by fraud; a system of peace and
benevolence was soon disgraced by proscriptions, war, massacres,
and the institution of the holy office. And as the reformers
were animated by the love of civil as well as of religious
freedom, the Catholic princes connected their own interest with
that of the clergy, and enforced by fire and the sword the
terrors of spiritual censures. In the Netherlands alone, more
than one hundred thousand of the subjects of Charles V. are said
to have suffered by the hand of the executioner; and this
extraordinary number is attested by Grotius, ^185 a man of genius
and learning, who preserved his moderation amidst the fury of
contending sects, and who composed the annals of his own age and
country, at a time when the invention of printing had facilitated
the means of intelligence, and increased the danger of detection.

If we are obliged to submit our belief to the authority of
Grotius, it must be allowed, that the number of Protestants, who
were executed in a single province and a single reign, far
exceeded that of the primitive martyrs in the space of three
centuries, and of the Roman empire. But if the improbability of
the fact itself should prevail over the weight of evidence; if
Grotius should be convicted of exaggerating the merit and
sufferings of the Reformers; ^186 we shall be naturally led to
inquire what confidence can be placed in the doubtful and
imperfect monuments of ancient credulity; what degree of credit
can be assigned to a courtly bishop, and a passionate declaimer,
^* who, under the protection of Constantine, enjoyed the
exclusive privilege of recording the persecutions inflicted on
the Christians by the vanquished rivals or disregarded
predecessors of their gracious sovereign.

[Footnote 185: Grot. Annal. de Rebus Belgicis, l. i. p. 12, edit.
[Footnote 186: Fra Paola (Istoria del Concilio Tridentino, l.
iii.) reduces the number of the Belgic martyrs to 50,000. In
learning and moderation Fra Paola was not inferior to Grotius.
The priority of time gives some advantage to the evidence of the
former, which he loses, on the other hand, by the distance of
Venice from the Netherlands.]

[Footnote *: Eusebius and the author of the Treatise de Mortibus
Persecutorum. It is deeply to be regretted that the history of
this period rest so much on the loose and, it must be admitted,
by no means scrupulous authority of Eusebius. Ecclesiastical
history is a solemn and melancholy lesson that the best, even the
most sacred, cause will eventually the least departure from
truth! - M.]

Chapter XVII: Foundation Of Constantinople.

Part I.

Foundation Of Constantinople. - Political System
Constantine, And His Successors. - Military Discipline. - The
Palace. - The Finances.

The unfortunate Licinius was the last rival who opposed the
greatness, and the last captive who adorned the triumph, of
Constantine. After a tranquil and prosperous reign, the
conquerer bequeathed to his family the inheritance of the Roman
empire; a new capital, a new policy, and a new religion; and the
innovations which he established have been embraced and
consecrated by succeeding generations. The age of the great
Constantine and his sons is filled with important events; but the
historian must be oppressed by their number and variety, unless
he diligently separates from each other the scenes which are
connected only by the order of time. He will describe the
political institutions that gave strength and stability to the
empire, before he proceeds to relate the wars and revolutions
which hastened its decline. He will adopt the division unknown
to the ancients of civil and ecclesiastical affairs: the victory
of the Christians, and their intestine discord, will supply
copious and distinct materials both for edification and for

After the defeat and abdication of Licinius, his victorious
rival proceeded to lay the foundations of a city destined to
reign in future times, the mistress of the East, and to survive
the empire and religion of Constantine. The motives, whether of
pride or of policy, which first induced Diocletian to withdraw
himself from the ancient seat of government, had acquired
additional weight by the example of his successors, and the
habits of forty years. Rome was insensibly confounded with the
dependent kingdoms which had once acknowledged her supremacy; and
the country of the Caesars was viewed with cold indifference by a
martial prince, born in the neighborhood of the Danube, educated
in the courts and armies of Asia, and invested with the purple by
the legions of Britain. The Italians, who had received
Constantine as their deliverer, submissively obeyed the edicts
which he sometimes condescended to address to the senate and
people of Rome; but they were seldom honored with the presence of
their new sovereign. During the vigor of his age, Constantine,
according to the various exigencies of peace and war, moved with
slow dignity, or with active diligence, along the frontiers of
his extensive dominions; and was always prepared to take the
field either against a foreign or a domestic enemy. But as he
gradually reached the summit of prosperity and the decline of
life, he began to meditate the design of fixing in a more
permanent station the strength as well as majesty of the throne.
In the choice of an advantageous situation, he preferred the
confines of Europe and Asia; to curb with a powerful arm the
barbarians who dwelt between the Danube and the Tanais; to watch
with an eye of jealousy the conduct of the Persian monarch, who
indignantly supported the yoke of an ignominious treaty. With
these views, Diocletian had selected and embellished the
residence of Nicomedia: but the memory of Diocletian was justly
abhorred by the protector of the church: and Constantine was not
insensible to the ambition of founding a city which might
perpetuate the glory of his own name. During the late operations
of the war against Licinius, he had sufficient opportunity to
contemplate, both as a soldier and as a statesman, the
incomparable position of Byzantium; and to observe how strongly
it was guarded by nature against a hostile attack, whilst it was
accessible on every side to the benefits of commercial
intercourse. Many ages before Constantine, one of the most
judicious historians of antiquity ^1 had described the advantages
of a situation, from whence a feeble colony of Greeks derived the
command of the sea, and the honors of a flourishing and
independent republic. ^2
[Footnote 1: Polybius, l. iv. p. 423, edit. Casaubon. He
observes that the peace of the Byzantines was frequently
disturbed, and the extent of their territory contracted, by the
inroads of the wild Thracians.]
[Footnote 2: The navigator Byzas, who was styled the son of
Neptune, founded the city 656 years before the Christian aera.
His followers were drawn from Argos and Megara. Byzantium was
afterwards rebuild and fortified by the Spartan general
Pausanias. See Scaliger Animadvers. ad Euseb. p. 81. Ducange,
Constantinopolis, l. i part i. cap 15, 16. With regard to the
wars of the Byzantines against Philip, the Gauls, and the kings
of Bithynia, we should trust none but the ancient writers who
lived before the greatness of the Imperial city had excited a
spirit of flattery and fiction.]
If we survey Byzantium in the extent which it acquired with
the august name of Constantinople, the figure of the Imperial
city may be represented under that of an unequal triangle. The
obtuse point, which advances towards the east and the shores of
Asia, meets and repels the waves of the Thracian Bosphorus. The
northern side of the city is bounded by the harbor; and the
southern is washed by the Propontis, or Sea of Marmara. The basis
of the triangle is opposed to the west, and terminates the
continent of Europe. But the admirable form and division of the
circumjacent land and water cannot, without a more ample
explanation, be clearly or sufficiently understood.
The winding channel through which the waters of the Euxine
flow with a rapid and incessant course towards the Mediterranean,
received the appellation of Bosphorus, a name not less celebrated
in the history, than in the fables, of antiquity. ^3 A crowd of
temples and of votive altars, profusely scattered along its steep
and woody banks, attested the unskilfulness, the terrors, and the
devotion of the Grecian navigators, who, after the example of the
Argonauts, explored the dangers of the inhospitable Euxine. On
these banks tradition long preserved the memory of the palace of
Phineus, infested by the obscene harpies; ^4 and of the sylvan
reign of Amycus, who defied the son of Leda to the combat of the
cestus. ^5 The straits of the Bosphorus are terminated by the
Cyanean rocks, which, according to the description of the poets,
had once floated on the face of the waters; and were destined by
the gods to protect the entrance of the Euxine against the eye of
profane curiosity. ^6 From the Cyanean rocks to the point and
harbor of Byzantium, the winding length of the Bosphorus extends
about sixteen miles, ^7 and its most ordinary breadth may be
computed at about one mile and a half. The new castles of Europe
and Asia are constructed, on either continent, upon the
foundations of two celebrated temples, of Serapis and of Jupiter
Urius. The old castles, a work of the Greek emperors, command
the narrowest part of the channel in a place where the opposite
banks advance within five hundred paces of each other. These
fortresses were destroyed and strengthened by Mahomet the Second,
when he meditated the siege of Constantinople: ^8 but the Turkish
conqueror was most probably ignorant, that near two thousand
years before his reign, Darius had chosen the same situation to
connect the two continents by a bridge of boats. ^9 At a small
distance from the old castles we discover the little town of
Chrysopolis, or Scutari, which may almost be considered as the
Asiatic suburb of Constantinople. The Bosphorus, as it begins to
open into the Propontis, passes between Byzantium and Chalcedon.
The latter of those cities was built by the Greeks, a few years
before the former; and the blindness of its founders, who
overlooked the superior advantages of the opposite coast, has
been stigmatized by a proverbial expression of contempt. ^10

[Footnote 3: The Bosphorus has been very minutely described by
Dionysius of Byzantium, who lived in the time of Domitian,
(Hudson, Geograph Minor, tom. iii.,) and by Gilles or Gyllius, a
French traveller of the XVIth century. Tournefort (Lettre XV.)
seems to have used his own eyes, and the learning of Gyllius.
[Add Von Hammer, Constantinopolis und der Bosphoros, 8vo. - M.]
[Footnote 4: There are very few conjectures so happy as that of
Le Clere, (Bibliotehque Universelle, tom. i. p. 148,) who
supposes that the harpies were only locusts. The Syriac or
Phoenician name of those insects, their noisy flight, the stench
and devastation which they occasion, and the north wind which
drives them into the sea, all contribute to form the striking

[Footnote 5: The residence of Amycus was in Asia, between the old
and the new castles, at a place called Laurus Insana. That of
Phineus was in Europe, near the village of Mauromole and the
Black Sea. See Gyllius de Bosph. l. ii. c. 23. Tournefort,
Lettre XV.]

[Footnote 6: The deception was occasioned by several pointed
rocks, alternately sovered and abandoned by the waves. At
present there are two small islands, one towards either shore;
that of Europe is distinguished by the column of Pompey.]

[Footnote 7: The ancients computed one hundred and twenty stadia,
or fifteen Roman miles. They measured only from the new castles,
but they carried the straits as far as the town of Chalcedon.]

[Footnote 8: Ducas. Hist. c. 34. Leunclavius Hist. Turcica
Mussulmanica, l. xv. p. 577. Under the Greek empire these
castles were used as state prisons, under the tremendous name of
Lethe, or towers of oblivion.]
[Footnote 9: Darius engraved in Greek and Assyrian letters, on
two marble columns, the names of his subject nations, and the
amazing numbers of his land and sea forces. The Byzantines
afterwards transported these columns into the city, and used them
for the altars of their tutelar deities. Herodotus, l. iv. c.

[Footnote 10: Namque arctissimo inter Europam Asiamque divortio
Byzantium in extrema Europa posuere Greci, quibus, Pythium
Apollinem consulentibus ubi conderent urbem, redditum oraculum
est, quaererent sedem oecerum terris adversam. Ea ambage
Chalcedonii monstrabantur quod priores illuc advecti, praevisa
locorum utilitate pejora legissent Tacit. Annal. xii. 63.]
The harbor of Constantinople, which may be considered as an
arm of the Bosphorus, obtained, in a very remote period, the
denomination of the Golden Horn. The curve which it describes
might be compared to the horn of a stag, or as it should seem,
with more propriety, to that of an ox. ^11 The epithet of golden
was expressive of the riches which every wind wafted from the
most distant countries into the secure and capacious port of
Constantinople. The River Lycus, formed by the conflux of two
little streams, pours into the harbor a perpetual supply of fresh
water, which serves to cleanse the bottom, and to invite the
periodical shoals of fish to seek their retreat in that
convenient recess. As the vicissitudes of tides are scarcely
felt in those seas, the constant depth of the harbor allows goods
to be landed on the quays without the assistance of boats; and it
has been observed, that in many places the largest vessels may
rest their prows against the houses, while their sterns are
floating in the water. ^12 From the mouth of the Lycus to that of
the harbor, this arm of the Bosphorus is more than seven miles in
length. The entrance is about five hundred yards broad, and a
strong chain could be occasionally drawn across it, to guard the
port and city from the attack of a hostile navy. ^13

[Footnote 11: Strabo, l. vii. p. 492, [edit. Casaub.] Most of the
antlers are now broken off; or, to speak less figuratively, most
of the recesses of the harbor are filled up. See Gill. de
Bosphoro Thracio, l. i. c. 5.]
[Footnote 12: Procopius de Aedificiis, l. i. c. 5. His
description is confirmed by modern travellers. See Thevenot,
part i. l. i. c. 15. Tournefort, Lettre XII. Niebuhr, Voyage
d'Arabie, p. 22.]
[Footnote 13: See Ducange, C. P. l. i. part i. c. 16, and his
Observations sur Villehardouin, p. 289. The chain was drawn from
the Acropolis near the modern Kiosk, to the tower of Galata; and
was supported at convenient distances by large wooden piles.]

Between the Bosphorus and the Hellespont, the shores of
Europe and Asia, receding on either side, enclose the sea of
Marmara, which was known to the ancients by the denomination of
Propontis. The navigation from the issue of the Bosphorus to the
entrance of the Hellespont is about one hundred and twenty miles.

Those who steer their westward course through the middle of the
Propontis, may at once descry the high lands of Thrace and
Bithynia, and never lose sight of the lofty summit of Mount
Olympus, covered with eternal snows. ^14 They leave on the left a
deep gulf, at the bottom of which Nicomedia was seated, the
Imperial residence of Diocletian; and they pass the small islands
of Cyzicus and Proconnesus before they cast anchor at Gallipoli;
where the sea, which separates Asia from Europe, is again
contracted into a narrow channel.

[Footnote 14: Thevenot (Voyages au Levant, part i. l. i. c. 14)
contracts the measure to 125 small Greek miles. Belon
(Observations, l. ii. c. 1.) gives a good description of the
Propontis, but contents himself with the vague expression of one
day and one night's sail. When Sandy's (Travels, p. 21) talks of
150 furlongs in length, as well as breadth we can only suppose
some mistake of the press in the text of that judicious
The geographers who, with the most skilful accuracy, have
surveyed the form and extent of the Hellespont, assign about
sixty miles for the winding course, and about three miles for the
ordinary breadth of those celebrated straits. ^15 But the
narrowest part of the channel is found to the northward of the
old Turkish castles between the cities of Sestus and Abydus. It
was here that the adventurous Leander braved the passage of the
flood for the possession of his mistress. ^16 It was here
likewise, in a place where the distance between the opposite
banks cannot exceed five hundred paces, that Xerxes imposed a
stupendous bridge of boats, for the purpose of transporting into
Europe a hundred and seventy myriads of barbarians. ^17 A sea
contracted within such narrow limits may seem but ill to deserve
the singular epithet of broad, which Homer, as well as Orpheus,
has frequently bestowed on the Hellespont. ^* But our ideas of
greatness are of a relative nature: the traveller, and especially
the poet, who sailed along the Hellespont, who pursued the
windings of the stream, and contemplated the rural scenery, which
appeared on every side to terminate the prospect, insensibly lost
the remembrance of the sea; and his fancy painted those
celebrated straits, with all the attributes of a mighty river
flowing with a swift current, in the midst of a woody and inland
country, and at length, through a wide mouth, discharging itself
into the Aegean or Archipelago. ^18 Ancient Troy, ^19 seated on a
an eminence at the foot of Mount Ida, overlooked the mouth of the
Hellespont, which scarcely received an accession of waters from
the tribute of those immortal rivulets the Simois and Scamander.
The Grecian camp had stretched twelve miles along the shore from
the Sigaean to the Rhaetean promontory; and the flanks of the
army were guarded by the bravest chiefs who fought under the
banners of Agamemnon. The first of those promontories was
occupied by Achilles with his invincible myrmidons, and the
dauntless Ajax pitched his tents on the other. After Ajax had
fallen a sacrifice to his disappointed pride, and to the
ingratitude of the Greeks, his sepulchre was erected on the
ground where he had defended the navy against the rage of Jove
and of Hector; and the citizens of the rising town of Rhaeteum
celebrated his memory with divine honors. ^20 Before Constantine
gave a just preference to the situation of Byzantium, he had
conceived the design of erecting the seat of empire on this
celebrated spot, from whence the Romans derived their fabulous
origin. The extensive plain which lies below ancient Troy,
towards the Rhaetean promontory and the tomb of Ajax, was first
chosen for his new capital; and though the undertaking was soon
relinquished the stately remains of unfinished walls and towers
attracted the notice of all who sailed through the straits of the
Hellespont. ^21

[Footnote 15: See an admirable dissertation of M. d'Anville upon
the Hellespont or Dardanelles, in the Memoires tom. xxviii. p.
318 - 346. Yet even that ingenious geographer is too fond of
supposing new, and perhaps imaginary measures, for the purpose of
rendering ancient writers as accurate as himself. The stadia
employed by Herodotus in the description of the Euxine, the
Bosphorus, &c., (l. iv. c. 85,) must undoubtedly be all of the
same species; but it seems impossible to reconcile them either
with truth or with each other.]

[Footnote 16: The oblique distance between Sestus and Abydus was
thirty stadia. The improbable tale of Hero and Leander is
exposed by M. Mahudel, but is defended on the authority of poets
and medals by M. de la Nauze. See the Academie des Inscriptions,
tom. vii. Hist. p. 74. elem. p. 240.
Note: The practical illustration of the possibility of
Leander's feat by Lord Byron and other English swimmers is too
well known to need particularly reference - M.]

[Footnote 17: See the seventh book of Herodotus, who has erected
an elegant trophy to his own fame and to that of his country.
The review appears to have been made with tolerable accuracy; but
the vanity, first of the Persians, and afterwards of the Greeks,
was interested to magnify the armament and the victory. I should
much doubt whether the invaders have ever outnumbered the men of
any country which they attacked.]

[Footnote *: Gibbon does not allow greater width between the two
nearest points of the shores of the Hellespont than between those
of the Bosphorus; yet all the ancient writers speak of the
Hellespontic strait as broader than the other: they agree in
giving it seven stadia in its narrowest width, (Herod. in Melp.
c. 85. Polym. c. 34. Strabo, p. 591. Plin. iv. c. 12.) which
make 875 paces. It is singular that Gibbon, who in the fifteenth
note of this chapter reproaches d'Anville with being fond of
supposing new and perhaps imaginary measures, has here adopted
the peculiar measurement which d'Anville has assigned to the
stadium. This great geographer believes that the ancients had a
stadium of fifty-one toises, and it is that which he applies to
the walls of Babylon. Now, seven of these stadia are equal to
about 500 paces, 7 stadia = 2142 feet: 500 paces = 2135 feet 5
inches. - G. See Rennell, Geog. of Herod. p. 121. Add Ukert,
Geographie der Griechen und Romer, v. i. p. 2, 71. - M.]

[Footnote 18: See Wood's Observations on Homer, p. 320. I have,
with pleasure, selected this remark from an author who in general
seems to have disappointed the expectation of the public as a
critic, and still more as a traveller. He had visited the banks
of the Hellespont; and had read Strabo; he ought to have
consulted the Roman itineraries. How was it possible for him to
confound Ilium and Alexandria Troas, (Observations, p. 340, 341,)
two cities which were sixteen miles distant from each other?

Note: Compare Walpole's Memoirs on Turkey, v. i. p. 101. Dr.
Clarke adopted Mr. Walpole's interpretation of the salt
Hellespont. But the old interpretation is more graphic and
Homeric. Clarke's Travels, ii. 70. - M.]
[Footnote 19: Demetrius of Scepsis wrote sixty books on thirty
lines of Homer's catalogue. The XIIIth Book of Strabo is
sufficient for our curiosity.]

[Footnote 20: Strabo, l. xiii. p. 595, [890, edit. Casaub.] The
disposition of the ships, which were drawn upon dry land, and the
posts of Ajax and Achilles, are very clearly described by Homer.
See Iliad, ix. 220.]
[Footnote 21: Zosim. l. ii. [c. 30,] p. 105. Sozomen, l. ii. c.
3. Theophanes, p. 18. Nicephorus Callistus, l. vii. p. 48.
Zonaras, tom. ii. l. xiii. p. 6. Zosimus places the new city
between Ilium and Alexandria, but this apparent difference may be
reconciled by the large extent of its circumference. Before the
foundation of Constantinople, Thessalonica is mentioned by
Cedrenus, (p. 283,) and Sardica by Zonaras, as the intended
capital. They both suppose with very little probability, that
the emperor, if he had not been prevented by a prodigy, would
have repeated the mistake of the blind Chalcedonians.]

We are at present qualified to view the advantageous
position of Constantinople; which appears to have been formed by
nature for the centre and capital of a great monarchy. Situated
in the forty-first degree of latitude, the Imperial city
commanded, from her seven hills, ^22 the opposite shores of
Europe and Asia; the climate was healthy and temperate, the soil
fertile, the harbor secure and capacious; and the approach on the
side of the continent was of small extent and easy defence. The
Bosphorus and the Hellespont may be considered as the two gates
of Constantinople; and the prince who possessed those important
passages could always shut them against a naval enemy, and open
them to the fleets of commerce. The preservation of the eastern
provinces may, in some degree, be ascribed to the policy of
Constantine, as the barbarians of the Euxine, who in the
preceding age had poured their armaments into the heart of the
Mediterranean, soon desisted from the exercise of piracy, and
despaired of forcing this insurmountable barrier. When the gates
of the Hellespont and Bosphorus were shut, the capital still
enjoyed within their spacious enclosure every production which
could supply the wants, or gratify the luxury, of its numerous
inhabitants. The sea-coasts of Thrace and Bithynia, which
languish under the weight of Turkish oppression, still exhibit a
rich prospect of vineyards, of gardens, and of plentiful
harvests; and the Propontis has ever been renowned for an
inexhaustible store of the most exquisite fish, that are taken in
their stated seasons, without skill, and almost without labor.
^23 But when the passages of the straits were thrown open for
trade, they alternately admitted the natural and artificial
riches of the north and south, of the Euxine, and of the
Mediterranean. Whatever rude commodities were collected in the
forests of Germany and Scythia, and far as the sources of the
Tanais and the Borysthenes; whatsoever was manufactured by the
skill of Europe or Asia; the corn of Egypt, and the gems and
spices of the farthest India, were brought by the varying winds
into the port of Constantinople, which for many ages attracted
the commerce of the ancient world. ^24

[See Basilica Of Constantinople]

[Footnote 22: Pocock's Description of the East, vol. ii. part ii.
p. 127. His plan of the seven hills is clear and accurate. That
traveller is seldom unsatisfactory.]

[Footnote 23: See Belon, Observations, c. 72 - 76. Among a
variety of different species, the Pelamides, a sort of Thunnies,
were the most celebrated. We may learn from Polybius, Strabo,
and Tacitus, that the profits of the fishery constituted the
principal revenue of Byzantium.]
[Footnote 24: See the eloquent description of Busbequius,
epistol. i. p. 64. Est in Europa; habet in conspectu Asiam,
Egyptum. Africamque a dextra: quae tametsi contiguae non sunt,
maris tamen navigandique commoditate veluti junguntur. A
sinistra vero Pontus est Euxinus, &c.]

The prospect of beauty, of safety, and of wealth, united in
a single spot, was sufficient to justify the choice of
Constantine. But as some decent mixture of prodigy and fable
has, in every age, been supposed to reflect a becoming majesty on
the origin of great cities, ^25 the emperor was desirous of
ascribing his resolution, not so much to the uncertain counsels
of human policy, as to the infallible and eternal decrees of
divine wisdom. In one of his laws he has been careful to
instruct posterity, that in obedience to the commands of God, he
laid the everlasting foundations of Constantinople: ^26 and
though he has not condescended to relate in what manner the
celestial inspiration was communicated to his mind, the defect of
his modest silence has been liberally supplied by the ingenuity
of succeeding writers; who describe the nocturnal vision which
appeared to the fancy of Constantine, as he slept within the
walls of Byzantium. The tutelar genius of the city, a venerable
matron sinking under the weight of years and infirmities, was
suddenly transformed into a blooming maid, whom his own hands
adorned with all the symbols of Imperial greatness. ^27 The
monarch awoke, interpreted the auspicious omen, and obeyed,
without hesitation, the will of Heaven The day which gave birth
to a city or colony was celebrated by the Romans with such
ceremonies as had been ordained by a generous superstition; ^28
and though Constantine might omit some rites which savored too
strongly of their Pagan origin, yet he was anxious to leave a
deep impression of hope and respect on the minds of the
spectators. On foot, with a lance in his hand, the emperor
himself led the solemn procession; and directed the line, which
was traced as the boundary of the destined capital: till the
growing circumference was observed with astonishment by the
assistants, who, at length, ventured to observe, that he had
already exceeded the most ample measure of a great city. "I shall
still advance," replied Constantine, "till He, the invisible
guide who marches before me, thinks proper to stop." ^29 Without
presuming to investigate the nature or motives of this
extraordinary conductor, we shall content ourselves with the more
humble task of describing the extent and limits of
Constantinople. ^30

[Footnote 25: Datur haec venia antiquitati, ut miscendo humana
divinis, primordia urbium augustiora faciat. T. Liv. in prooem.]

[Footnote 26: He says in one of his laws, pro commoditate urbis
quam aeteras nomine, jubente Deo, donavimus. Cod. Theodos. l.
xiii. tit. v. leg. 7.]
[Footnote 27: The Greeks, Theophanes, Cedrenus, and the author of
the Alexandrian Chronicle, confine themselves to vague and
general expressions. For a more particular account of the vision,
we are obliged to have recourse to such Latin writers as William
of Malmesbury. See Ducange, C. P. l. i. p. 24, 25.]

[Footnote 28: See Plutarch in Romul. tom. i. p. 49, edit. Bryan.
Among other ceremonies, a large hole, which had been dug for that
purpose, was filled up with handfuls of earth, which each of the
settlers brought from the place of his birth, and thus adopted
his new country.]

[Footnote 29: Philostorgius, l. ii. c. 9. This incident, though
borrowed from a suspected writer, is characteristic and

[Footnote 30: See in the Memoires de l'Academie, tom. xxxv p. 747
- 758, a dissertation of M. d'Anville on the extent of
Constantinople. He takes the plan inserted in the Imperium
Orientale of Banduri as the most complete; but, by a series of
very nice observations, he reduced the extravagant proportion of
the scale, and instead of 9500, determines the circumference of
the city as consisting of about 7800 French toises.]

In the actual state of the city, the palace and gardens of
the Seraglio occupy the eastern promontory, the first of the
seven hills, and cover about one hundred and fifty acres of our
own measure. The seat of Turkish jealousy and despotism is
erected on the foundations of a Grecian republic; but it may be
supposed that the Byzantines were tempted by the conveniency of
the harbor to extend their habitations on that side beyond the
modern limits of the Seraglio. The new walls of Constantine
stretched from the port to the Propontis across the enlarged
breadth of the triangle, at the distance of fifteen stadia from
the ancient fortification; and with the city of Byzantium they
enclosed five of the seven hills, which, to the eyes of those who
approach Constantinople, appear to rise above each other in
beautiful order. ^31 About a century after the death of the
founder, the new buildings, extending on one side up the harbor,
and on the other along the Propontis, already covered the narrow
ridge of the sixth, and the broad summit of the seventh hill.
The necessity of protecting those suburbs from the incessant
inroads of the barbarians engaged the younger Theodosius to
surround his capital with an adequate and permanent enclosure of
walls. ^32 From the eastern promontory to the golden gate, the
extreme length of Constantinople was about three Roman miles; ^33
the circumference measured between ten and eleven; and the
surface might be computed as equal to about two thousand English
acres. It is impossible to justify the vain and credulous
exaggerations of modern travellers, who have sometimes stretched
the limits of Constantinople over the adjacent villages of the
European, and even of the Asiatic coast. ^34 But the suburbs of
Pera and Galata, though situate beyond the harbor, may deserve to
be considered as a part of the city; ^35 and this addition may
perhaps authorize the measure of a Byzantine historian, who
assigns sixteen Greek (about fourteen Roman) miles for the
circumference of his native city. ^36 Such an extent may not seem
unworthy of an Imperial residence. Yet Constantinople must yield
to Babylon and Thebes, ^37 to ancient Rome, to London, and even
to Paris. ^38

[Footnote 31: Codinus, Antiquitat. Const. p. 12. He assigns the
church of St. Anthony as the boundary on the side of the harbor.
It is mentioned in Ducange, l. iv. c. 6; but I have tried,
without success, to discover the exact place where it was

[Footnote 32: The new wall of Theodosius was constructed in the
year 413. In 447 it was thrown down by an earthquake, and rebuilt
in three months by the diligence of the praefect Cyrus. The
suburb of the Blanchernae was first taken into the city in the
reign of Heraclius Ducange, Const. l. i. c. 10, 11.]

[Footnote 33: The measurement is expressed in the Notitia by
14,075 feet. It is reasonable to suppose that these were Greek
feet, the proportion of which has been ingeniously determined by
M. d'Anville. He compares the 180 feet with 78 Hashemite cubits,
which in different writers are assigned for the heights of St.
Sophia. Each of these cubits was equal to 27 French inches.]
[Footnote 34: The accurate Thevenot (l. i. c. 15) walked in one
hour and three quarters round two of the sides of the triangle,
from the Kiosk of the Seraglio to the seven towers. D'Anville
examines with care, and receives with confidence, this decisive
testimony, which gives a circumference of ten or twelve miles.
The extravagant computation of Tournefort (Lettre XI) of
thirty-tour or thirty miles, without including Scutari, is a
strange departure from his usual character.]

[Footnote 35: The sycae, or fig-trees, formed the thirteenth
region, and were very much embellished by Justinian. It has
since borne the names of Pera and Galata. The etymology of the
former is obvious; that of the latter is unknown. See Ducange,
Const. l. i. c. 22, and Gyllius de Byzant. l. iv. c. 10.]

[Footnote 36: One hundred and eleven stadia, which may be
translated into modern Greek miles each of seven stadia, or 660,
sometimes only 600 French toises. See D'Anville, Mesures
Itineraires, p. 53.]

[Footnote 37: When the ancient texts, which describe the size of
Babylon and Thebes, are settled, the exaggerations reduced, and
the measures ascertained, we find that those famous cities filled
the great but not incredible circumference of about twenty-five
or thirty miles. Compare D'Anville, Mem. de l'Academie, tom.
xxviii. p. 235, with his Description de l'Egypte, p. 201, 202.]

[Footnote 38: If we divide Constantinople and Paris into equal
squares of 50 French toises, the former contains 850, and the
latter 1160, of those divisions.]

Chapter XVII: Foundation Of Constantinople.

Part II.

The master of the Roman world, who aspired to erect an
eternal monument of the glories of his reign could employ in the
prosecution of that great work, the wealth, the labor, and all
that yet remained of the genius of obedient millions. Some
estimate may be formed of the expense bestowed with Imperial
liberality on the foundation of Constantinople, by the allowance
of about two millions five hundred thousand pounds for the
construction of the walls, the porticos, and the aqueducts. ^39
The forests that overshadowed the shores of the Euxine, and the
celebrated quarries of white marble in the little island of
Proconnesus, supplied an inexhaustible stock of materials, ready
to be conveyed, by the convenience of a short water carriage, to
the harbor of Byzantium. ^40 A multitude of laborers and
artificers urged the conclusion of the work with incessant toil:
but the impatience of Constantine soon discovered, that, in the
decline of the arts, the skill as well as numbers of his
architects bore a very unequal proportion to the greatness of his
designs. The magistrates of the most distant provinces were
therefore directed to institute schools, to appoint professors,
and by the hopes of rewards and privileges, to engage in the
study and practice of architecture a sufficient number of
ingenious youths, who had received a liberal education. ^41 The
buildings of the new city were executed by such artificers as the
reign of Constantine could afford; but they were decorated by the
hands of the most celebrated masters of the age of Pericles and
Alexander. To revive the genius of Phidias and Lysippus,
surpassed indeed the power of a Roman emperor; but the immortal
productions which they had bequeathed to posterity were exposed
without defence to the rapacious vanity of a despot. By his
commands the cities of Greece and Asia were despoiled of their
most valuable ornaments. ^42 The trophies of memorable wars, the
objects of religious veneration, the most finished statues of the
gods and heroes, of the sages and poets, of ancient times,
contributed to the splendid triumph of Constantinople; and gave
occasion to the remark of the historian Cedrenus, ^43 who
observes, with some enthusiasm, that nothing seemed wanting
except the souls of the illustrious men whom these admirable
monuments were intended to represent. But it is not in the city
of Constantine, nor in the declining period of an empire, when
the human mind was depressed by civil and religious slavery, that
we should seek for the souls of Homer and of Demosthenes.

[Footnote 39: Six hundred centenaries, or sixty thousand pounds'
weight of gold. This sum is taken from Codinus, Antiquit.
Const. p. 11; but unless that contemptible author had derived his
information from some purer sources, he would probably have been
unacquainted with so obsolete a mode of reckoning.]

[Footnote 40: For the forests of the Black Sea, consult
Tournefort, Lettre XVI. for the marble quarries of Proconnesus,
see Strabo, l. xiii. p. 588, (881, edit. Casaub.) The latter had
already furnished the materials of the stately buildings of

[Footnote 41: See the Codex Theodos. l. xiii. tit. iv. leg. 1.
This law is dated in the year 334, and was addressed to the
praefect of Italy, whose jurisdiction extended over Africa. The
commentary of Godefroy on the whole title well deserves to be

[Footnote 42: Constantinopolis dedicatur poene omnium urbium
nuditate. Hieronym. Chron. p. 181. See Codinus, p. 8, 9. The
author of the Antiquitat. Const. l. iii. (apud Banduri Imp.
Orient. tom. i. p. 41) enumerates Rome, Sicily, Antioch, Athens,
and a long list of other cities. The provinces of Greece and Asia
Minor may be supposed to have yielded the richest booty.]
[Footnote 43: Hist. Compend. p. 369. He describes the statue, or
rather bust, of Homer with a degree of taste which plainly
indicates that Cadrenus copied the style of a more fortunate

During the siege of Byzantium, the conqueror had pitched his
tent on the commanding eminence of the second hill. To
perpetuate the memory of his success, he chose the same
advantageous position for the principal Forum; ^44 which appears
to have been of a circular, or rather elliptical form. The two
opposite entrances formed triumphal arches; the porticos, which
enclosed it on every side, were filled with statues; and the
centre of the Forum was occupied by a lofty column, of which a
mutilated fragment is now degraded by the appellation of the
burnt pillar. This column was erected on a pedestal of white
marble twenty feet high; and was composed of ten pieces of
porphyry, each of which measured about ten feet in height, and
about thirty-three in circumference. ^45 On the summit of the
pillar, above one hundred and twenty feet from the ground, stood
the colossal statue of Apollo. It was a bronze, had been
transported either from Athens or from a town of Phrygia, and was
supposed to be the work of Phidias. The artist had represented
the god of day, or, as it was afterwards interpreted, the emperor
Constantine himself, with a sceptre in his right hand, the globe
of the world in his left, and a crown of rays glittering on his
head. ^46 The Circus, or Hippodrome, was a stately building about
four hundred paces in length, and one hundred in breadth. ^47 The
space between the two metoe or goals were filled with statues and
obelisks; and we may still remark a very singular fragment of
antiquity; the bodies of three serpents, twisted into one pillar
of brass. Their triple heads had once supported the golden
tripod which, after the defeat of Xerxes, was consecrated in the
temple of Delphi by the victorious Greeks. ^48 The beauty of the
Hippodrome has been long since defaced by the rude hands of the
Turkish conquerors; ^! but, under the similar appellation of
Atmeidan, it still serves as a place of exercise for their
horses. From the throne, whence the emperor viewed the
Circensian games, a winding staircase ^49 descended to the
palace; a magnificent edifice, which scarcely yielded to the
residence of Rome itself, and which, together with the dependent
courts, gardens, and porticos, covered a considerable extent of
ground upon the banks of the Propontis between the Hippodrome and
the church of St. Sophia. ^50 We might likewise celebrate the
baths, which still retained the name of Zeuxippus, after they had
been enriched, by the munificence of Constantine, with lofty
columns, various marbles, and above threescore statues of bronze.
^51 But we should deviate from the design of this history, if we
attempted minutely to describe the different buildings or
quarters of the city. It may be sufficient to observe, that
whatever could adorn the dignity of a great capital, or
contribute to the benefit or pleasure of its numerous
inhabitants, was contained within the walls of Constantinople. A
particular description, composed about a century after its
foundation, enumerates a capitol or school of learning, a circus,
two theatres, eight public, and one hundred and fifty-three
private baths, fifty-two porticos, five granaries, eight
aqueducts or reservoirs of water, four spacious halls for the
meetings of the senate or courts of justice, fourteen churches,
fourteen palaces, and four thousand three hundred and
eighty-eight houses, which, for their size or beauty, deserved to
be distinguished from the multitude of plebeian inhabitants. ^52
[Footnote 44: Zosim. l. ii. p. 106. Chron. Alexandrin. vel
Paschal. p. 284, Ducange, Const. l. i. c. 24. Even the last of
those writers seems to confound the Forum of Constantine with the
Augusteum, or court of the palace. I am not satisfied whether I
have properly distinguished what belongs to the one and the

[Footnote 45: The most tolerable account of this column is given
by Pocock. Description of the East, vol. ii. part ii. p. 131.
But it is still in many instances perplexed and unsatisfactory.]

[Footnote 46: Ducange, Const. l. i. c. 24, p. 76, and his notes
ad Alexiad. p. 382. The statue of Constantine or Apollo was
thrown down under the reign of Alexius Comnenus.

Note: On this column (says M. von Hammer) Constantine, with
singular shamelessness, placed his own statue with the attributes
of Apollo and Christ. He substituted the nails of the Passion for
the rays of the sun. Such is the direct testimony of the author
of the Antiquit. Constantinop. apud Banduri. Constantine was
replaced by the "great and religious" Julian, Julian, by
Theodosius. A. D. 1412, the key stone was loosened by an
earthquake. The statue fell in the reign of Alexius Comnenus,
and was replaced by the cross. The Palladium was said to be
buried under the pillar. Von Hammer, Constantinopolis und der
Bosporos, i. 162. - M.]

[Footnote 47: Tournefort (Lettre XII.) computes the Atmeidan at
four hundred paces. If he means geometrical paces of five feet
each, it was three hundred toises in length, about forty more
than the great circus of Rome. See D'Anville, Mesures
Itineraires, p. 73.]

[Footnote 48: The guardians of the most holy relics would rejoice
if they were able to produce such a chain of evidence as may be
alleged on this occasion. See Banduri ad Antiquitat. Const. p.
668. Gyllius de Byzant. l. ii. c. 13. 1. The original
consecration of the tripod and pillar in the temple of Delphi may
be proved from Herodotus and Pausanias. 2. The Pagan Zosimus
agrees with the three ecclesiastical historians, Eusebius,
Socrates, and Sozomen, that the sacred ornaments of the temple of
Delphi were removed to Constantinople by the order of
Constantine; and among these the serpentine pillar of the
Hippodrome is particularly mentioned. 3. All the European
travellers who have visited Constantinople, from Buondelmonte to
Pocock, describe it in the same place, and almost in the same
manner; the differences between them are occasioned only by the
injuries which it has sustained from the Turks. Mahomet the
Second broke the under jaw of one of the serpents with a stroke
of his battle axe Thevenot, l. i. c. 17.

Note: See note 75, ch. lxviii. for Dr. Clarke's rejection of
Thevenot's authority. Von Hammer, however, repeats the story of
Thevenot without questioning its authenticity. - M.]

[Footnote !: In 1808 the Janizaries revolted against the vizier
Mustapha Baisactar, who wished to introduce a new system of
military organization, besieged the quarter of the Hippodrome, in
which stood the palace of the viziers, and the Hippodrome was
consumed in the conflagration. - G.]
[Footnote 49: The Latin name Cochlea was adopted by the Greeks,
and very frequently occurs in the Byzantine history. Ducange,
Const. i. c. l, p. 104.]
[Footnote 50: There are three topographical points which indicate
the situation of the palace. 1. The staircase which connected it
with the Hippodrome or Atmeidan. 2. A small artificial port on
the Propontis, from whence there was an easy ascent, by a flight
of marble steps, to the gardens of the palace. 3. The Augusteum
was a spacious court, one side of which was occupied by the front
of the palace, and another by the church of St. Sophia.]
[Footnote 51: Zeuxippus was an epithet of Jupiter, and the baths
were a part of old Byzantium. The difficulty of assigning their
true situation has not been felt by Ducange. History seems to
connect them with St. Sophia and the palace; but the original
plan inserted in Banduri places them on the other side of the
city, near the harbor. For their beauties, see Chron. Paschal.
p. 285, and Gyllius de Byzant. l. ii. c. 7. Christodorus (see
Antiquitat. Const. l. vii.) composed inscriptions in verse for
each of the statues. He was a Theban poet in genius as well as
in birth: -

Baeotum in crasso jurares aere natum.

Note: Yet, for his age, the description of the statues of
Hecuba and of Homer are by no means without merit. See Antholog.
Palat. (edit. Jacobs) i. 37 - M.]

[Footnote 52: See the Notitia. Rome only reckoned 1780 large
houses, domus; but the word must have had a more dignified
signification. No insulae are mentioned at Constantinople. The
old capital consisted of 42 streets, the new of 322.]

The populousness of his favored city was the next and most
serious object of the attention of its founder. In the dark ages
which succeeded the translation of the empire, the remote and the
immediate consequences of that memorable event were strangely
confounded by the vanity of the Greeks and the credulity of the
Latins. ^53 It was asserted, and believed, that all the noble
families of Rome, the senate, and the equestrian order, with
their innumerable attendants, had followed their emperor to the
banks of the Propontis; that a spurious race of strangers and
plebeians was left to possess the solitude of the ancient
capital; and that the lands of Italy, long since converted into
gardens, were at once deprived of cultivation and inhabitants.
^54 In the course of this history, such exaggerations will be
reduced to their just value: yet, since the growth of
Constantinople cannot be ascribed to the general increase of
mankind and of industry, it must be admitted that this artificial
colony was raised at the expense of the ancient cities of the
empire. Many opulent senators of Rome, and of the eastern
provinces, were probably invited by Constantine to adopt for
their country the fortunate spot, which he had chosen for his own
residence. The invitations of a master are scarcely to be
distinguished from commands; and the liberality of the emperor
obtained a ready and cheerful obedience. He bestowed on his
favorites the palaces which he had built in the several quarters
of the city, assigned them lands and pensions for the support of
their dignity, ^55 and alienated the demesnes of Pontus and Asia
to grant hereditary estates by the easy tenure of maintaining a
house in the capital. ^56 But these encouragements and
obligations soon became superfluous, and were gradually
abolished. Wherever the seat of government is fixed, a
considerable part of the public revenue will be expended by the
prince himself, by his ministers, by the officers of justice, and
by the domestics of the palace. The most wealthy of the
provincials will be attracted by the powerful motives of interest
and duty, of amusement and curiosity. A third and more numerous
class of inhabitants will insensibly be formed, of servants, of
artificers, and of merchants, who derive their subsistence from
their own labor, and from the wants or luxury of the superior
ranks. In less than a century, Constantinople disputed with Rome
itself the preeminence of riches and numbers. New piles of
buildings, crowded together with too little regard to health or
convenience, scarcely allowed the intervals of narrow streets for
the perpetual throng of men, of horses, and of carriages. The
allotted space of ground was insufficient to contain the
increasing people; and the additional foundations, which, on
either side, were advanced into the sea, might alone have
composed a very considerable city. ^57
[Footnote 53: Liutprand, Legatio ad Imp. Nicephornm, p. 153. The
modern Greeks have strangely disfigured the antiquities of
Constantinople. We might excuse the errors of the Turkish or
Arabian writers; but it is somewhat astonishing, that the Greeks,
who had access to the authentic materials preserved in their own
language, should prefer fiction to truth, and loose tradition to
genuine history. In a single page of Codinus we may detect
twelve unpardonable mistakes; the reconciliation of Severus and
Niger, the marriage of their son and daughter, the siege of
Byzantium by the Macedonians, the invasion of the Gauls, which
recalled Severus to Rome, the sixty years which elapsed from his
death to the foundation of Constantinople, &c.]
[Footnote 54: Montesquieu, Grandeur et Decadence des Romains, c.
[Footnote 55: Themist. Orat. iii. p. 48, edit. Hardouin.
Sozomen, l. ii. c. 3. Zosim. l. ii. p. 107. Anonym. Valesian.
p. 715. If we could credit Codinus, (p. 10,) Constantine built
houses for the senators on the exact model of their Roman
palaces, and gratified them, as well as himself, with the
pleasure of an agreeable surprise; but the whole story is full of
fictions and inconsistencies.]

[Footnote 56: The law by which the younger Theodosius, in the
year 438, abolished this tenure, may be found among the Novellae
of that emperor at the end of the Theodosian Code, tom. vi. nov.
12. M. de Tillemont (Hist. des Empereurs, tom. iv. p. 371) has
evidently mistaken the nature of these estates. With a grant
from the Imperial demesnes, the same condition was accepted as a
favor, which would justly have been deemed a hardship, if it had
been imposed upon private property.]

[Footnote 57: The passages of Zosimus, of Eunapius, of Sozomen,
and of Agathias, which relate to the increase of buildings and
inhabitants at Constantinople, are collected and connected by
Gyllius de Byzant. l. i. c. 3. Sidonius Apollinaris (in Panegyr.
Anthem. 56, p. 279, edit. Sirmond) describes the moles that were
pushed forwards into the sea, they consisted of the famous
Puzzolan sand, which hardens in the water.]

The frequent and regular distributions of wine and oil, of
corn or bread, of money or provisions, had almost exempted the
poorest citizens of Rome from the necessity of labor. The
magnificence of the first Caesars was in some measure imitated by
the founder of Constantinople: ^58 but his liberality, however it
might excite the applause of the people, has in curred the
censure of posterity. A nation of legislators and conquerors
might assert their claim to the harvests of Africa, which had
been purchased with their blood; and it was artfully contrived by
Augustus, that, in the enjoyment of plenty, the Romans should
lose the memory of freedom. But the prodigality of Constantine
could not be excused by any consideration either of public or
private interest; and the annual tribute of corn imposed upon
Egypt for the benefit of his new capital, was applied to feed a
lazy and insolent populace, at the expense of the husbandmen of
an industrious province. ^59 ^* Some other regulations of this
emperor are less liable to blame, but they are less deserving of
notice. He divided Constantinople into fourteen regions or
quarters, ^60 dignified the public council with the appellation
of senate, ^61 communicated to the citizens the privileges of
Italy, ^62 and bestowed on the rising city the title of Colony,
the first and most favored daughter of ancient Rome. The
venerable parent still maintained the legal and acknowledged
supremacy, which was due to her age, her dignity, and to the
remembrance of her former greatness. ^63

[Footnote 58: Sozomen, l. ii. c. 3. Philostorg. l. ii. c. 9.
Codin. Antiquitat. Const. p. 8. It appears by Socrates, l. ii.
c. 13, that the daily allowance of the city consisted of eight
myriads of which we may either translate, with Valesius, by the
words modii of corn, or consider us expressive of the number of
loaves of bread.

Note: At Rome the poorer citizens who received these
gratuities were inscribed in a register; they had only a personal
right. Constantine attached the right to the houses in his new
capital, to engage the lower classes of the people to build their
houses with expedition. Codex Therodos. l. xiv. - G.]
[Footnote 59: See Cod. Theodos. l. xiii. and xiv., and Cod.
Justinian. Edict. xii. tom. ii. p. 648, edit. Genev. See the
beautiful complaint of Rome in the poem of Claudian de Bell.
Gildonico, ver. 46-64.

Cum subiit par Roma mihi, divisaque sumsit
Aequales aurora togas; Aegyptia rura
In partem cessere novam.]

[Footnote *: This was also at the expense of Rome. The emperor
ordered that the fleet of Alexandria should transport to
Constantinople the grain of Egypt which it carried before to
Rome: this grain supplied Rome during four months of the year.
Claudian has described with force the famine occasioned by this
measure: -

Haec nobis, haec ante dabas; nunc pabula tantum
Roma precor: miserere tuae; pater optime, gentis:
Extremam defende famem.

Claud. de Bell. Gildon. v. 34.

- G.

It was scarcely this measure. Gildo had cut off the African
as well as the Egyptian supplies. - M.]

[Footnote 60: The regions of Constantinople are mentioned in the
code of Justinian, and particularly described in the Notitia of
the younger Theodosius; but as the four last of them are not
included within the wall of Constantine, it may be doubted
whether this division of the city should be referred to the

[Footnote 61: Senatum constituit secundi ordinis; Claros vocavit.

Anonym Valesian. p. 715. The senators of old Rome were styled
Clarissimi. See a curious note of Valesius ad Ammian.
Marcellin. xxii. 9. From the eleventh epistle of Julian, it
should seem that the place of senator was considered as a burden,
rather than as an honor; but the Abbe de la Bleterie (Vie de
Jovien, tom. ii. p. 371) has shown that this epistle could not
relate to Constantinople. Might we not read, instead of the
celebrated name of the obscure but more probable word Bisanthe or
Rhoedestus, now Rhodosto, was a small maritime city of Thrace.
See Stephan. Byz. de Urbibus, p. 225, and Cellar. Geograph. tom.
i. p. 849.]

[Footnote 62: Cod. Theodos. l. xiv. 13. The commentary of
Godefroy (tom. v. p. 220) is long, but perplexed; nor indeed is
it easy to ascertain in what the Jus Italicum could consist,
after the freedom of the city had been communicated to the whole

Note: "This right, (the Jus Italicum,) which by most writers
is referred with out foundation to the personal condition of the
citizens, properly related to the city as a whole, and contained
two parts. First, the Roman or quiritarian property in the soil,
(commercium,) and its capability of mancipation, usucaption, and
vindication; moreover, as an inseparable consequence of this,
exemption from land-tax. Then, secondly, a free constitution in
the Italian form, with Duumvirs, Quinquennales. and Aediles, and
especially with Jurisdiction." Savigny, Geschichte des Rom.
Rechts i. p. 51 - M.]

[Footnote 63: Julian (Orat. i. p. 8) celebrates Constantinople as
not less superior to all other cities than she was inferior to
Rome itself. His learned commentator (Spanheim, p. 75, 76)
justifies this language by several parallel and contemporary
instances. Zosimus, as well as Socrates and Sozomen, flourished
after the division of the empire between the two sons of
Theodosius, which established a perfect equality between the old
and the new capital.]

As Constantine urged the progress of the work with the
impatience of a lover, the walls, the porticos, and the principal
edifices were completed in a few years, or, according to another
account, in a few months; ^64 but this extraordinary diligence
should excite the less admiration, since many of the buildings
were finished in so hasty and imperfect a manner, that under the
succeeding reign, they were preserved with difficulty from
impending ruin. ^65 But while they displayed the vigor and
freshness of youth, the founder prepared to celebrate the
dedication of his city. ^66 The games and largesses which crowned
the pomp of this memorable festival may easily be supposed; but
there is one circumstance of a more singular and permanent
nature, which ought not entirely to be overlooked. As often as
the birthday of the city returned, the statute of Constantine,
framed by his order, of gilt wood, and bearing in his right hand
a small image of the genius of the place, was erected on a
triumphal car. The guards, carrying white tapers, and clothed in
their richest apparel, accompanied the solemn procession as it
moved through the Hippodrome. When it was opposite to the throne
of the reigning emperor, he rose from his seat, and with grateful
reverence adored the memory of his predecessor. ^67 At the
festival of the dedication, an edict, engraved on a column of
marble, bestowed the title of Second or New Rome on the city of
Constantine. ^68 But the name of Constantinople ^69 has prevailed
over that honorable epithet; and after the revolution of fourteen
centuries, still perpetuates the fame of its author. ^70

[Footnote 64: Codinus (Antiquitat. p. 8) affirms, that the
foundations of Constantinople were laid in the year of the world
5837, (A. D. 329,) on the 26th of September, and that the city
was dedicated the 11th of May, 5838, (A. D. 330.) He connects
those dates with several characteristic epochs, but they
contradict each other; the authority of Codinus is of little
weight, and the space which he assigns must appear insufficient.
The term of ten years is given us by Julian, (Orat. i. p. 8;) and
Spanheim labors to establish the truth of it, (p. 69-75,) by the
help of two passages from Themistius, (Orat. iv. p. 58,) and of
Philostorgius, (l. ii. c. 9,) which form a period from the year
324 to the year 334. Modern critics are divided concerning this
point of chronology and their different sentiments are very
accurately described by Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. iv.
p. 619-625.]

[Footnote 65: Themistius. Orat. iii. p. 47. Zosim. l. ii. p.
108. Constantine himself, in one of his laws, (Cod. Theod. l. xv.
tit. i.,) betrays his impatience.]

[Footnote 66: Cedrenus and Zonaras, faithful to the mode of
superstition which prevailed in their own times, assure us that
Constantinople was consecrated to the virgin Mother of God.]

[Footnote 67: The earliest and most complete account of this
extraordinary ceremony may be found in the Alexandrian Chronicle,
p. 285. Tillemont, and the other friends of Constantine, who are
offended with the air of Paganism which seems unworthy of a
Christian prince, had a right to consider it as doubtful, but
they were not authorized to omit the mention of it.]
[Footnote 68: Sozomen, l. ii. c. 2. Ducange C. P. l. i. c. 6.
Velut ipsius Romae filiam, is the expression of Augustin. de
Civitat. Dei, l. v. c. 25.]
[Footnote 69: Eutropius, l. x. c. 8. Julian. Orat. i. p. 8.
Ducange C. P. l. i. c. 5. The name of Constantinople is extant
on the medals of Constantine.]
[Footnote 70: The lively Fontenelle (Dialogues des Morts, xii.)
affects to deride the vanity of human ambition, and seems to
triumph in the disappointment of Constantine, whose immortal name
is now lost in the vulgar appellation of Istambol, a Turkish
corruption of. Yet the original name is still preserved, 1. By
the nations of Europe. 2. By the modern Greeks. 3. By the
Arabs, whose writings are diffused over the wide extent of their
conquests in Asia and Africa. See D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque
Orientale, p. 275. 4. By the more learned Turks, and by the
emperor himself in his public mandates Cantemir's History of the
Othman Empire, p. 51.]

The foundation of a new capital is naturally connected with
the establishment of a new form of civil and military
administration. The distinct view of the complicated system of
policy, introduced by Diocletian, improved by Constantine, and
completed by his immediate successors, may not only amuse the
fancy by the singular picture of a great empire, but will tend to
illustrate the secret and internal causes of its rapid decay. In
the pursuit of any remarkable institution, we may be frequently
led into the more early or the more recent times of the Roman
history; but the proper limits of this inquiry will be included
within a period of about one hundred and thirty years, from the
accession of Constantine to the publication of the Theodosian
code; ^71 from which, as well as from the Notitia ^* of the East
and West, ^72 we derive the most copious and authentic
information of the state of the empire. This variety of objects
will suspend, for some time, the course of the narrative; but the
interruption will be censured only by those readers who are
insensible to the importance of laws and manners, while they
peruse, with eager curiosity, the transient intrigues of a court,
or the accidental event of a battle.

[Footnote 71: The Theodosian code was promulgated A. D. 438. See
the Prolegomena of Godefroy, c. i. p. 185.]

[Footnote *: The Notitia Dignitatum Imperii is a description of
all the offices in the court and the state, of the legions, &c.
It resembles our court almanacs, (Red Books,) with this single
difference, that our almanacs name the persons in office, the
Notitia only the offices. It is of the time of the emperor
Theodosius II., that is to say, of the fifth century, when the
empire was divided into the Eastern and Western. It is probable
that it was not made for the first time, and that descriptions of
the same kind existed before. - G.]

[Footnote 72: Pancirolus, in his elaborate Commentary, assigns to
the Notitia a date almost similar to that of the Theodosian Code;
but his proofs, or rather conjectures, are extremely feeble. I
should be rather inclined to place this useful work between the
final division of the empire (A. D. 395) and the successful
invasion of Gaul by the barbarians, (A. D. 407.) See Histoire des
Anciens Peuples de l'Europe, tom. vii. p. 40.]

Chapter XVII: Foundation Of Constantinople.

Part III.

The manly pride of the Romans, content with substantial
power, had left to the vanity of the East the forms and
ceremonies of ostentatious greatness. ^73 But when they lost even
the semblance of those virtues which were derived from their
ancient freedom, the simplicity of Roman manners was insensibly
corrupted by the stately affectation of the courts of Asia. The
distinctions of personal merit and influence, so conspicuous in a
republic, so feeble and obscure under a monarchy, were abolished
by the despotism of the emperors; who substituted in their room a
severe subordination of rank and office from the titled slaves
who were seated on the steps of the throne, to the meanest
instruments of arbitrary power. This multitude of abject
dependants was interested in the support of the actual government
from the dread of a revolution, which might at once confound
their hopes and intercept the reward of their services. In this
divine hierarchy (for such it is frequently styled) every rank
was marked with the most scrupulous exactness, and its dignity
was displayed in a variety of trifling and solemn ceremonies,
which it was a study to learn, and a sacrilege to neglect. ^74
The purity of the Latin language was debased, by adopting, in the
intercourse of pride and flattery, a profusion of epithets, which
Tully would scarcely have understood, and which Augustus would
have rejected with indignation. The principal officers of the
empire were saluted, even by the sovereign himself, with the
deceitful titles of your Sincerity, your Gravity, your
Excellency, your Eminence, your sublime and wonderful Magnitude,
your illustrious and magnificent Highness. ^75 The codicils or
patents of their office were curiously emblazoned with such
emblems as were best adapted to explain its nature and high
dignity; the image or portrait of the reigning emperors; a
triumphal car; the book of mandates placed on a table, covered
with a rich carpet, and illuminated by four tapers; the
allegorical figures of the provinces which they governed; or the
appellations and standards of the troops whom they commanded Some
of these official ensigns were really exhibited in their hall of
audience; others preceded their pompous march whenever they
appeared in public; and every circumstance of their demeanor,
their dress, their ornaments, and their train, was calculated to
inspire a deep reverence for the representatives of supreme
majesty. By a philosophic observer, the system of the Roman
government might have been mistaken for a splendid theatre,
filled with players of every character and degree, who repeated
the language, and imitated the passions, of their original model.

[Footnote 73: Scilicet externae superbiae sueto, non inerat
notitia nostri, (perhaps nostroe;) apud quos vis Imperii valet,
inania transmittuntur. Tacit. Annal. xv. 31. The gradation from
the style of freedom and simplicity, to that of form and
servitude, may be traced in the Epistles of Cicero, of Pliny, and
of Symmachus.]

[Footnote 74: The emperor Gratian, after confirming a law of
precedency published by Valentinian, the father of his Divinity,
thus continues: Siquis igitur indebitum sibi locum usurpaverit,
nulla se ignoratione defendat; sitque plane sacrilegii reus, qui
divina praecepta neglexerit. Cod. Theod. l. vi. tit. v. leg. 2.]

[Footnote 75: Consult the Notitia Dignitatum at the end of the
Theodosian code, tom. vi. p. 316.

Note: Constantin, qui remplaca le grand Patriciat par une
noblesse titree et qui changea avec d'autres institutions la
nature de la societe Latine, est le veritable fondateur de la
royaute moderne, dans ce quelle conserva de Romain.
Chateaubriand, Etud. Histor. Preface, i. 151. Manso, (Leben
Constantins des Grossen,) p. 153, &c., has given a lucid view of
the dignities and duties of the officers in the Imperial court. -

[Footnote 76: Pancirolus ad Notitiam utriusque Imperii, p. 39.
But his explanations are obscure, and he does not sufficiently
distinguish the painted emblems from the effective ensigns of

All the magistrates of sufficient importance to find a place
in the general state of the empire, were accurately divided into
three classes. 1. The Illustrious. 2. The Spectabiles, or
Respectable. And, 3. the Clarissimi; whom we may translate by
the word Honorable. In the times of Roman simplicity, the
last-mentioned epithet was used only as a vague expression of
deference, till it became at length the peculiar and appropriated
title of all who were members of the senate, ^77 and consequently
of all who, from that venerable body, were selected to govern the
provinces. The vanity of those who, from their rank and office,
might claim a superior distinction above the rest of the
senatorial order, was long afterwards indulged with the new
appellation of Respectable; but the title of Illustrious was
always reserved to some eminent personages who were obeyed or
reverenced by the two subordinate classes. It was communicated
only, I. To the consuls and patricians; II. To the Praetorian
praefects, with the praefects of Rome and Constantinople; III. To
the masters-general of the cavalry and the infantry; and IV. To
the seven ministers of the palace, who exercised their sacred
functions about the person of the emperor. ^78 Among those
illustrious magistrates who were esteemed coordinate with each
other, the seniority of appointment gave place to the union of
dignities. ^79 By the expedient of honorary codicils, the
emperors, who were fond of multiplying their favors, might
sometimes gratify the vanity, though not the ambition, of
impatient courtiers. ^80

[Footnote 77: In the Pandects, which may be referred to the
reigns of the Antonines, Clarissimus is the ordinary and legal
title of a senator.]
[Footnote 78: Pancirol. p. 12-17. I have not taken any notice of
the two inferior ranks, Prefectissimus and Egregius, which were
given to many persons who were not raised to the senatorial

[Footnote 79: Cod. Theodos. l. vi. tit. vi. The rules of
precedency are ascertained with the most minute accuracy by the
emperors, and illustrated with equal prolixity by their learned

[Footnote 80: Cod. Theodos. l. vi. tit. xxii.]

I. As long as the Roman consuls were the first magistrates
of a free state, they derived their right to power from the
choice of the people. As long as the emperors condescended to
disguise the servitude which they imposed, the consuls were still
elected by the real or apparent suffrage of the senate. From the
reign of Diocletian, even these vestiges of liberty were
abolished, and the successful candidates who were invested with
the annual honors of the consulship, affected to deplore the
humiliating condition of their predecessors. The Scipios and the
Catos had been reduced to solicit the votes of plebeians, to pass
through the tedious and expensive forms of a popular election,
and to expose their dignity to the shame of a public refusal;
while their own happier fate had reserved them for an age and
government in which the rewards of virtue were assigned by the
unerring wisdom of a gracious sovereign. ^81 In the epistles
which the emperor addressed to the two consuls elect, it was
declared, that they were created by his sole authority. ^82 Their
names and portraits, engraved on gilt tables of ivory, were
dispersed over the empire as presents to the provinces, the
cities, the magistrates, the senate, and the people. ^83 Their
solemn inauguration was performed at the place of the Imperial
residence; and during a period of one hundred and twenty years,
Rome was constantly deprived of the presence of her ancient
magistrates. ^84

[Footnote 81: Ausonius (in Gratiarum Actione) basely expatiates
on this unworthy topic, which is managed by Mamertinus (Panegyr.
Vet. xi. [x.] 16, 19) with somewhat more freedom and ingenuity.]

[Footnote 82: Cum de Consulibus in annum creandis, solus mecum
volutarem .... te Consulem et designavi, et declaravi, et priorem
nuncupavi; are some of the expressions employed by the emperor
Gratian to his preceptor, the poet Ausonius.]

[Footnote 83: Immanesque. . . dentes

Qui secti ferro in tabulas auroque micantes,
Inscripti rutilum coelato Consule nomen
Per proceres et vulgus eant.

Claud. in ii. Cons. Stilichon. 456.

Montfaucon has represented some of these tablets or dypticks see
Supplement a l'Antiquite expliquee, tom. iii. p. 220.]

[Footnote 84: Consule laetatur post plurima seculo viso

Pallanteus apex: agnoscunt rostra curules
Auditas quondam proavis: desuetaque cingit
Regius auratis Fora fascibus Ulpia lictor.

Claud. in vi. Cons. Honorii, 643.

From the reign of Carus to the sixth consulship of Honorius,
there was an interval of one hundred and twenty years, during
which the emperors were always absent from Rome on the first day
of January. See the Chronologie de Tillemonte, tom. iii. iv. and

On the morning of the first of January, the consuls assumed
the ensigns of their dignity. Their dress was a robe of purple,
embroidered in silk and gold, and sometimes ornamented with
costly gems. ^85 On this solemn occasion they were attended by
the most eminent officers of the state and army, in the habit of
senators; and the useless fasces, armed with the once formidable
axes, were borne before them by the lictors. ^86 The procession
moved from the palace ^87 to the Forum or principal square of the
city; where the consuls ascended their tribunal, and seated
themselves in the curule chairs, which were framed after the
fashion of ancient times. They immediately exercised an act of
jurisdiction, by the manumission of a slave, who was brought
before them for that purpose; and the ceremony was intended to
represent the celebrated action of the elder Brutus, the author
of liberty and of the consulship, when he admitted among his
fellow-citizens the faithful Vindex, who had revealed the
conspiracy of the Tarquins. ^88 The public festival was continued
during several days in all the principal cities in Rome, from
custom; in Constantinople, from imitation in Carthage, Antioch,
and Alexandria, from the love of pleasure, and the superfluity of
wealth. ^89 In the two capitals of the empire the annual games of
the theatre, the circus, and the amphitheatre, ^90 cost four
thousand pounds of gold, (about) one hundred and sixty thousand
pounds sterling: and if so heavy an expense surpassed the
faculties or the inclinations of the magistrates themselves, the
sum was supplied from the Imperial treasury. ^91 As soon as the
consuls had discharged these customary duties, they were at
liberty to retire into the shade of private life, and to enjoy,
during the remainder of the year, the undisturbed contemplation
of their own greatness. They no longer presided in the national
councils; they no longer executed the resolutions of peace or
war. Their abilities (unless they were employed in more effective
offices) were of little moment; and their names served only as
the legal date of the year in which they had filled the chair of
Marius and of Cicero. Yet it was still felt and acknowledged, in
the last period of Roman servitude, that this empty name might be
compared, and even preferred, to the possession of substantial
power. The title of consul was still the most splendid object of
ambition, the noblest reward of virtue and loyalty. The emperors
themselves, who disdained the faint shadow of the republic, were
conscious that they acquired an additional splendor and majesty
as often as they assumed the annual honors of the consular
dignity. ^92

[Footnote 85: See Claudian in Cons. Prob. et Olybrii, 178, &c.;
and in iv. Cons. Honorii, 585, &c.; though in the latter it is
not easy to separate the ornaments of the emperor from those of
the consul. Ausonius received from the liberality of Gratian a
vestis palmata, or robe of state, in which the figure of the
emperor Constantius was embroidered.

Cernis et armorum proceres legumque potentes:
Patricios sumunt habitus; et more Gabino
Discolor incedit legio, positisque parumper
Bellorum signis, sequitur vexilla Quirini.
Lictori cedunt aquilae, ridetque togatus
Miles, et in mediis effulget curia castris.

Claud. in iv. Cons. Honorii, 5.

- strictaque procul radiare secures.

In Cons. Prob. 229]

[Footnote 87: See Valesius ad Ammian. Marcellin. l. xxii. c. 7.]

[Footnote 88: Auspice mox laeto sonuit clamore tribunal;
Te fastos ineunte quater; solemnia ludit
Omina libertas; deductum Vindice morem
Lex servat, famulusque jugo laxatus herili
Ducitur, et grato remeat securior ictu.

Claud. in iv Cons. Honorii, 611]

[Footnote 89: Celebrant quidem solemnes istos dies omnes ubique
urbes quae sub legibus agunt; et Roma de more, et
Constantinopolis de imitatione, et Antiochia pro luxu, et
discincta Carthago, et domus fluminis Alexandria, sed Treviri
Principis beneficio. Ausonius in Grat. Actione.]

[Footnote 90: Claudian (in Cons. Mall. Theodori, 279-331)
describes, in a lively and fanciful manner, the various games of
the circus, the theatre, and the amphitheatre, exhibited by the
new consul. The sanguinary combats of gladiators had already
been prohibited.]

[Footnote 91: Procopius in Hist. Arcana, c. 26.]

[Footnote 92: In Consulatu honos sine labore suscipitur.
(Mamertin. in Panegyr. Vet. xi. [x.] 2.) This exalted idea of
the consulship is borrowed from an oration (iii. p. 107)
pronounced by Julian in the servile court of Constantius. See
the Abbe de la Bleterie, (Memoires de l'Academie, tom. xxiv. p.
289,) who delights to pursue the vestiges of the old
constitution, and who sometimes finds them in his copious fancy]

The proudest and most perfect separation which can be found
in any age or country, between the nobles and the people, is
perhaps that of the Patricians and the Plebeians, as it was
established in the first age of the Roman republic. Wealth and
honors, the offices of the state, and the ceremonies of religion,
were almost exclusively possessed by the former who, preserving
the purity of their blood with the most insulting jealousy, ^93
held their clients in a condition of specious vassalage. But
these distinctions, so incompatible with the spirit of a free
people, were removed, after a long struggle, by the persevering
efforts of the Tribunes. The most active and successful of the
Plebeians accumulated wealth, aspired to honors, deserved
triumphs, contracted alliances, and, after some generations,
assumed the pride of ancient nobility. ^94 The Patrician
families, on the other hand, whose original number was never
recruited till the end of the commonwealth, either failed in the
ordinary course of nature, or were extinguished in so many
foreign and domestic wars, or, through a want of merit or
fortune, insensibly mingled with the mass of the people. ^95 Very
few remained who could derive their pure and genuine origin from
the infancy of the city, or even from that of the republic, when
Caesar and Augustus, Claudius and Vespasian, created from the
body of the senate a competent number of new Patrician families,
in the hope of perpetuating an order, which was still considered
as honorable and sacred. ^96 But these artificial supplies (in
which the reigning house was always included) were rapidly swept
away by the rage of tyrants, by frequent revolutions, by the
change of manners, and by the intermixture of nations. ^97 Little
more was left when Constantine ascended the throne, than a vague
and imperfect tradition, that the Patricians had once been the
first of the Romans. To form a body of nobles, whose influence
may restrain, while it secures the authority of the monarch,
would have been very inconsistent with the character and policy
of Constantine; but had he seriously entertained such a design,
it might have exceeded the measure of his power to ratify, by an
arbitrary edict, an institution which must expect the sanction of
time and of opinion. He revived, indeed, the title of
Patricians, but he revived it as a personal, not as an hereditary
distinction. They yielded only to the transient superiority of
the annual consuls; but they enjoyed the pre-eminence over all
the great officers of state, with the most familiar access to the
person of the prince. This honorable rank was bestowed on them
for life; and as they were usually favorites, and ministers who
had grown old in the Imperial court, the true etymology of the
word was perverted by ignorance and flattery; and the Patricians
of Constantine were reverenced as the adopted Fathers of the
emperor and the republic. ^98

[Footnote 93: Intermarriages between the Patricians and Plebeians
were prohibited by the laws of the XII Tables; and the uniform
operations of human nature may attest that the custom survived
the law. See in Livy (iv. 1-6) the pride of family urged by the
consul, and the rights of mankind asserted by the tribune

[Footnote 94: See the animated picture drawn by Sallust, in the
Jugurthine war, of the pride of the nobles, and even of the
virtuous Metellus, who was unable to brook the idea that the
honor of the consulship should be bestowed on the obscure merit
of his lieutenant Marius. (c. 64.) Two hundred years before, the
race of the Metelli themselves were confounded among the
Plebeians of Rome; and from the etymology of their name of
Coecilius, there is reason to believe that those haughty nobles
derived their origin from a sutler.]
[Footnote 95: In the year of Rome 800, very few remained, not
only of the old Patrician families, but even of those which had
been created by Caesar and Augustus. (Tacit. Annal. xi. 25.) The
family of Scaurus (a branch of the Patrician Aemilii) was
degraded so low that his father, who exercised the trade of a
charcoal merchant, left him only teu slaves, and somewhat less
than three hundred pounds sterling. (Valerius Maximus, l. iv. c.
4, n. 11. Aurel. Victor in Scauro.) The family was saved from
oblivion by the merit of the son.]

[Footnote 96: Tacit. Annal. xi. 25. Dion Cassius, l. iii. p.
698. The virtues of Agricola, who was created a Patrician by the
emperor Vespasian, reflected honor on that ancient order; but his
ancestors had not any claim beyond an Equestrian nobility.]

[Footnote 97: This failure would have been almost impossible if
it were true, as Casaubon compels Aurelius Victor to affirm (ad
Sueton, in Caesar v. 24. See Hist. August p. 203 and Casaubon
Comment., p. 220) that Vespasian created at once a thousand
Patrician families. But this extravagant number is too much even
for the whole Senatorial order. unless we should include all the
Roman knights who were distinguished by the permission of wearing
the laticlave.]

[Footnote 98: Zosimus, l. ii. p. 118; and Godefroy ad Cod.
Theodos. l. vi. tit. vi.]

II. The fortunes of the Praetorian praefects were
essentially different from those of the consuls and Patricians.
The latter saw their ancient greatness evaporate in a vain title.

The former, rising by degrees from the most humble condition,
were invested with the civil and military administration of the
Roman world. From the reign of Severus to that of Diocletian,
the guards and the palace, the laws and the finances, the armies
and the provinces, were intrusted to their superintending care;
and, like the Viziers of the East, they held with one hand the
seal, and with the other the standard, of the empire. The
ambition of the praefects, always formidable, and sometimes fatal
to the masters whom they served, was supported by the strength of
the Praetorian bands; but after those haughty troops had been
weakened by Diocletian, and finally suppressed by Constantine,
the praefects, who survived their fall, were reduced without
difficulty to the station of useful and obedient ministers. When
they were no longer responsible for the safety of the emperor's
person, they resigned the jurisdiction which they had hitherto
claimed and exercised over all the departments of the palace.
They were deprived by Constantine of all military command, as
soon as they had ceased to lead into the field, under their
immediate orders, the flower of the Roman troops; and at length,
by a singular revolution, the captains of the guards were
transformed into the civil magistrates of the provinces.
According to the plan of government instituted by Diocletian, the
four princes had each their Praetorian praefect; and after the
monarchy was once more united in the person of Constantine, he
still continued to create the same number of Four Praefects, and
intrusted to their care the same provinces which they already
administered. 1. The praefect of the East stretched his ample
jurisdiction into the three parts of the globe which were subject
to the Romans, from the cataracts of the Nile to the banks of the
Phasis, and from the mountains of Thrace to the frontiers of
Persia. 2. The important provinces of Pannonia, Dacia,
Macedonia, and Greece, once acknowledged the authority of the
praefect of Illyricum. 3. The power of the praefect of Italy was
not confined to the country from whence he derived his title; it
extended over the additional territory of Rhaetia as far as the
banks of the Danube, over the dependent islands of the
Mediterranean, and over that part of the continent of Africa
which lies between the confines of Cyrene and those of
Tingitania. 4. The praefect of the Gauls comprehended under that
plural denomination the kindred provinces of Britain and Spain,
and his authority was obeyed from the wall of Antoninus to the
foot of Mount Atlas. ^99
[Footnote 99: Zosimus, l. ii. p. 109, 110. If we had not
fortunately possessed this satisfactory account of the division
of the power and provinces of the Praetorian praefects, we should
frequently have been perplexed amidst the copious details of the
Code, and the circumstantial minuteness of the Notitia.]

After the Praetorian praefects had been dismissed from all
military command, the civil functions which they were ordained to
exercise over so many subject nations, were adequate to the
ambition and abilities of the most consummate ministers. To
their wisdom was committed the supreme administration of justice
and of the finances, the two objects which, in a state of peace,
comprehend almost all the respective duties of the sovereign and
of the people; of the former, to protect the citizens who are
obedient to the laws; of the latter, to contribute the share of
their property which is required for the expenses of the state.
The coin, the highways, the posts, the granaries, the
manufactures, whatever could interest the public prosperity, was
moderated by the authority of the Praetorian praefects. As the
immediate representatives of the Imperial majesty, they were
empowered to explain, to enforce, and on some occasions to
modify, the general edicts by their discretionary proclamations.
They watched over the conduct of the provincial governors,
removed the negligent, and inflicted punishments on the guilty.
From all the inferior jurisdictions, an appeal in every matter of
importance, either civil or criminal, might be brought before the
tribunal of the praefect; but his sentence was final and
absolute; and the emperors themselves refused to admit any
complaints against the judgment or the integrity of a magistrate
whom they honored with such unbounded confidence. ^100 His
appointments were suitable to his dignity; ^101 and if avarice
was his ruling passion, he enjoyed frequent opportunities of
collecting a rich harvest of fees, of presents, and of
perquisites. Though the emperors no longer dreaded the ambition
of their praefects, they were attentive to counterbalance the
power of this great office by the uncertainty and shortness of
its duration. ^102

[Footnote 100: See a law of Constantine himself. A praefectis
autem praetorio provocare, non sinimus. Cod. Justinian. l. vii.
tit. lxii. leg. 19. Charisius, a lawyer of the time of
Constantine, (Heinec. Hist. Romani, p. 349,) who admits this law
as a fundamental principle of jurisprudence, compares the
Praetorian praefects to the masters of the horse of the ancient
dictators. Pandect. l. i. tit. xi.]

[Footnote 101: When Justinian, in the exhausted condition of the
empire, instituted a Praetorian praefect for Africa, he allowed
him a salary of one hundred pounds of gold. Cod. Justinian. l.
i. tit. xxvii. leg. i.]
[Footnote 102: For this, and the other dignities of the empire,
it may be sufficient to refer to the ample commentaries of
Pancirolus and Godefroy, who have diligently collected and
accurately digested in their proper order all the legal and
historical materials. From those authors, Dr. Howell (History of
the World, vol. ii. p. 24-77) has deduced a very distinct
abridgment of the state of the Roman empire]

From their superior importance and dignity, Rome and
Constantinople were alone excepted from the jurisdiction of the
Praetorian praefects. The immense size of the city, and the
experience of the tardy, ineffectual operation of the laws, had
furnished the policy of Augustus with a specious pretence for
introducing a new magistrate, who alone could restrain a servile
and turbulent populace by the strong arm of arbitrary power. ^103
Valerius Messalla was appointed the first praefect of Rome, that
his reputation might countenance so invidious a measure; but, at
the end of a few days, that accomplished citizen ^104 resigned
his office, declaring, with a spirit worthy of the friend of
Brutus, that he found himself incapable of exercising a power
incompatible with public freedom. ^105 As the sense of liberty
became less exquisite, the advantages of order were more clearly
understood; and the praefect, who seemed to have been designed as
a terror only to slaves and vagrants, was permitted to extend his
civil and criminal jurisdiction over the equestrian and noble
families of Rome. The praetors, annually created as the judges of
law and equity, could not long dispute the possession of the
Forum with a vigorous and permanent magistrate, who was usually
admitted into the confidence of the prince. Their courts were
deserted, their number, which had once fluctuated between twelve
and eighteen, ^106 was gradually reduced to two or three, and
their important functions were confined to the expensive
obligation ^107 of exhibiting games for the amusement of the
people. After the office of the Roman consuls had been changed
into a vain pageant, which was rarely displayed in the capital,
the praefects assumed their vacant place in the senate, and were
soon acknowledged as the ordinary presidents of that venerable
assembly. They received appeals from the distance of one hundred
miles; and it was allowed as a principle of jurisprudence, that
all municipal authority was derived from them alone. ^108 In the
discharge of his laborious employment, the governor of Rome was
assisted by fifteen officers, some of whom had been originally
his equals, or even his superiors. The principal departments
were relative to the command of a numerous watch, established as
a safeguard against fires, robberies, and nocturnal disorders;
the custody and distribution of the public allowance of corn and
provisions; the care of the port, of the aqueducts, of the common
sewers, and of the navigation and bed of the Tyber; the
inspection of the markets, the theatres, and of the private as
well as the public works. Their vigilance insured the three
principal objects of a regular police, safety, plenty, and
cleanliness; and as a proof of the attention of government to
preserve the splendor and ornaments of the capital, a particular
inspector was appointed for the statues; the guardian, as it
were, of that inanimate people, which, according to the
extravagant computation of an old writer, was scarcely inferior
in number to the living inhabitants of Rome. About thirty years
after the foundation of Constantinople, a similar magistrate was
created in that rising metropolis, for the same uses and with the
same powers. A perfect equality was established between the
dignity of the two municipal, and that of the four Praetorian
praefects. ^109

[Footnote 103: Tacit. Annal. vi. 11. Euseb. in Chron. p. 155.
Dion Cassius, in the oration of Maecenas, (l. lvii. p. 675,)
describes the prerogatives of the praefect of the city as they
were established in his own time.]
[Footnote 104: The fame of Messalla has been scarcely equal to
his merit. In the earliest youth he was recommended by Cicero to
the friendship of Brutus. He followed the standard of the
republic till it was broken in the fields of Philippi; he then
accepted and deserved the favor of the most moderate of the
conquerors; and uniformly asserted his freedom and dignity in the
court of Augustus. The triumph of Messalla was justified by the
conquest of Aquitain. As an orator, he disputed the palm of
eloquence with Cicero himself. Messalla cultivated every muse,
and was the patron of every man of genius. He spent his evenings
in philosophic conversation with Horace; assumed his place at
table between Delia and Tibullus; and amused his leisure by
encouraging the poetical talents of young Ovid.]

[Footnote 105: Incivilem esse potestatem contestans, says the
translator of Eusebius. Tacitus expresses the same idea in other
words; quasi nescius exercendi.]

[Footnote 106: See Lipsius, Excursus D. ad 1 lib. Tacit. Annal.]
[Footnote 107: Heineccii. Element. Juris Civilis secund ordinem
Pandect i. p. 70. See, likewise, Spanheim de Usu. Numismatum,
tom. ii. dissertat. x. p. 119. In the year 450, Marcian
published a law, that three citizens should be annually created
Praetors of Constantinople by the choice of the senate, but with
their own consent. Cod. Justinian. li. i. tit. xxxix. leg. 2.]
[Footnote 108: Quidquid igitur intra urbem admittitur, ad P. U.
videtur pertinere; sed et siquid intra contesimum milliarium.
Ulpian in Pandect l. i. tit. xiii. n. 1. He proceeds to
enumerate the various offices of the praefect, who, in the code
of Justinian, (l. i. tit. xxxix. leg. 3,) is declared to precede
and command all city magistrates sine injuria ac detrimento
honoris alieni.]

[Footnote 109: Besides our usual guides, we may observe that
Felix Cantelorius has written a separate treatise, De Praefecto
Urbis; and that many curious details concerning the police of
Rome and Constantinople are contained in the fourteenth book of
the Theodosian Code.]

Chapter XVII: Foundation Of Constantinople.

Part IV.

Those who, in the imperial hierarchy, were distinguished by
the title of Respectable, formed an intermediate class between
the illustrious praefects, and the honorable magistrates of the
provinces. In this class the proconsuls of Asia, Achaia, and
Africa, claimed a preeminence, which was yielded to the
remembrance of their ancient dignity; and the appeal from their
tribunal to that of the praefects was almost the only mark of
their dependence. ^110 But the civil government of the empire was
distributed into thirteen great Dioceses, each of which equalled
the just measure of a powerful kingdom. The first of these
dioceses was subject to the jurisdiction of the count of the
east; and we may convey some idea of the importance and variety
of his functions, by observing, that six hundred apparitors, who
would be styled at present either secretaries, or clerks, or
ushers, or messengers, were employed in his immediate office.
^111 The place of Augustal proefect of Egypt was no longer filled
by a Roman knight; but the name was retained; and the
extraordinary powers which the situation of the country, and the
temper of the inhabitants, had once made indispensable, were
still continued to the governor. The eleven remaining dioceses,
of Asiana, Pontica, and Thrace; of Macedonia, Dacia, and
Pannonia, or Western Illyricum; of Italy and Africa; of Gaul,
Spain, and Britain; were governed by twelve vicars or
vice-proefects, ^112 whose name sufficiently explains the nature
and dependence of their office. It may be added, that the
lieutenant-generals of the Roman armies, the military counts and
dukes, who will be hereafter mentioned, were allowed the rank and
title of Respectable.

[Footnote 110: Eunapius affirms, that the proconsul of Asia was
independent of the praefect; which must, however, be understood
with some allowance. the jurisdiction of the vice-praefect he
most assuredly disclaimed. Pancirolus, p. 161.]

[Footnote 111: The proconsul of Africa had four hundred
apparitors; and they all received large salaries, either from the
treasury or the province See Pancirol. p. 26, and Cod. Justinian.
l. xii. tit. lvi. lvii.]
[Footnote 112: In Italy there was likewise the Vicar of Rome. It
has been much disputed whether his jurisdiction measured one
hundred miles from the city, or whether it stretched over the ten
thousand provinces of Italy.]
As the spirit of jealousy and ostentation prevailed in the
councils of the emperors, they proceeded with anxious diligence
to divide the substance and to multiply the titles of power. The
vast countries which the Roman conquerors had united under the
same simple form of administration, were imperceptibly crumbled
into minute fragments; till at length the whole empire was
distributed into one hundred and sixteen provinces, each of which
supported an expensive and splendid establishment. Of these,
three were governed by proconsuls, thirty-seven by consulars,
five by correctors, and seventy-one by presidents. The
appellations of these magistrates were different; they ranked in
successive order, the ensigns of and their situation, from
accidental circumstances, might be more or less agreeable or
advantageous. But they were all (excepting only the pro-consuls)
alike included in the class of honorable persons; and they were
alike intrusted, during the pleasure of the prince, and under the
authority of the praefects or their deputies, with the
administration of justice and the finances in their respective
districts. The ponderous volumes of the Codes and Pandects ^113
would furnish ample materials for a minute inquiry into the
system of provincial government, as in the space of six centuries
it was approved by the wisdom of the Roman statesmen and lawyers.

It may be sufficient for the historian to select two singular and
salutary provisions, intended to restrain the abuse of authority.

1. For the preservation of peace and order, the governors of the
provinces were armed with the sword of justice. They inflicted
corporal punishments, and they exercised, in capital offences,
the power of life and death. But they were not authorized to
indulge the condemned criminal with the choice of his own
execution, or to pronounce a sentence of the mildest and most
honorable kind of exile. These prerogatives were reserved to the
praefects, who alone could impose the heavy fine of fifty pounds
of gold: their vicegerents were confined to the trifling weight
of a few ounces. ^114 This distinction, which seems to grant the
larger, while it denies the smaller degree of authority, was
founded on a very rational motive. The smaller degree was
infinitely more liable to abuse. The passions of a provincial
magistrate might frequently provoke him into acts of oppression,
which affected only the freedom or the fortunes of the subject;
though, from a principle of prudence, perhaps of humanity, he
might still be terrified by the guilt of innocent blood. It may
likewise be considered, that exile, considerable fines, or the
choice of an easy death, relate more particularly to the rich and
the noble; and the persons the most exposed to the avarice or
resentment of a provincial magistrate, were thus removed from his
obscure persecution to the more august and impartial tribunal of
the Praetorian praefect. 2. As it was reasonably apprehended
that the integrity of the judge might be biased, if his interest
was concerned, or his affections were engaged, the strictest
regulations were established, to exclude any person, without the
special dispensation of the emperor, from the government of the
province where he was born; ^115 and to prohibit the governor or
his son from contracting marriage with a native, or an
inhabitant; ^116 or from purchasing slaves, lands, or houses,
within the extent of his jurisdiction. ^117 Notwithstanding these
rigorous precautions, the emperor Constantine, after a reign of
twenty-five years, still deplores the venal and oppressive
administration of justice, and expresses the warmest indignation
that the audience of the judge, his despatch of business, his
seasonable delays, and his final sentence, were publicly sold,
either by himself or by the officers of his court. The
continuance, and perhaps the impunity, of these crimes, is
attested by the repetition of impotent laws and ineffectual
menaces. ^118
[Footnote 113: Among the works of the celebrated Ulpian, there
was one in ten books, concerning the office of a proconsul, whose
duties in the most essential articles were the same as those of
an ordinary governor of a province.]

[Footnote 114: The presidents, or consulars, could impose only
two ounces; the vice-praefects, three; the proconsuls, count of
the east, and praefect of Egypt, six. See Heineccii Jur. Civil.
tom. i. p. 75. Pandect. l. xlviii. tit. xix. n. 8. Cod.
Justinian. l. i. tit. liv. leg. 4, 6.]
[Footnote 115: Ut nulli patriae suae administratio sine speciali
principis permissu permittatur. Cod. Justinian. l. i. tit. xli.
This law was first enacted by the emperor Marcus, after the
rebellion of Cassius. (Dion. l. lxxi.) The same regulation is
observed in China, with equal strictness, and with equal effect.]

[Footnote 116: Pandect. l. xxiii. tit. ii. n. 38, 57, 63.]
[Footnote 117: In jure continetur, ne quis in administratione
constitutus aliquid compararet. Cod. Theod. l. viii. tit. xv.
leg. l. This maxim of common law was enforced by a series of
edicts (see the remainder of the title) from Constantine to
Justin. From this prohibition, which is extended to the meanest
officers of the governor, they except only clothes and
provisions. The purchase within five years may be recovered;
after which on information, it devolves to the treasury.]

[Footnote 118: Cessent rapaces jam nunc officialium manus;
cessent, inquam nam si moniti non cessaverint, gladiis
praecidentur, &c. Cod. Theod. l. i. tit. vii. leg. l. Zeno
enacted that all governors should remain in the province, to
answer any accusations, fifty days after the expiration of their
power. Cod Justinian. l. ii. tit. xlix. leg. l.]

All the civil magistrates were drawn from the profession of


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