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

Part 2 out of 14

produce an immediate effect, the archbishop, from his pulpit, ^93
publicly addressed the emperor on his throne; ^94 nor would he
consent to offer the oblation of the altar, till he had obtained
from Theodosius a solemn and positive declaration, which secured
the impunity of the bishop and monks of Callinicum. The
recantation of Theodosius was sincere; ^95 and, during the term
of his residence at Milan, his affection for Ambrose was
continually increased by the habits of pious and familiar

[Footnote *: Raeca, on the Euphrates - M.]

[Footnote 92: See the whole transaction in Ambrose, (tom. ii.
Epist. xl. xli. p. 950 - 956,) and his biographer Paulinus, (c.
23.) Bayle and Barbeyrac (Morales des Peres, c. xvii. p. 325,
&c.) have justly condemned the archbishop.]

[Footnote 93: His sermon is a strange allegory of Jeremiah's rod,
of an almond tree, of the woman who washed and anointed the feet
of Christ. But the peroration is direct and personal.]

[Footnote 94: Hodie, Episcope, de me proposuisti. Ambrose
modestly confessed it; but he sternly reprimanded Timasius,
general of the horse and foot, who had presumed to say that the
monks of Callinicum deserved punishment.]
[Footnote 95: Yet, five years afterwards, when Theodosius was
absent from his spiritual guide, he tolerated the Jews, and
condemned the destruction of their synagogues. Cod. Theodos. l.
xvi. tit. viii. leg. 9, with Godefroy's Commentary, tom. vi. p.

When Ambrose was informed of the massacre of Thessalonica,
his mind was filled with horror and anguish. He retired into the
country to indulge his grief, and to avoid the presence of
Theodosius. But as the archbishop was satisfied that a timid
silence would render him the accomplice of his guilt, he
represented, in a private letter, the enormity of the crime;
which could only be effaced by the tears of penitence. The
episcopal vigor of Ambrose was tempered by prudence; and he
contented himself with signifying ^96 an indirect sort of
excommunication, by the assurance, that he had been warned in a
vision not to offer the oblation in the name, or in the presence,
of Theodosius; and by the advice, that he would confine himself
to the use of prayer, without presuming to approach the altar of
Christ, or to receive the holy eucharist with those hands that
were still polluted with the blood of an innocent people. The
emperor was deeply affected by his own reproaches, and by those
of his spiritual father; and after he had bewailed the
mischievous and irreparable consequences of his rash fury, he
proceeded, in the accustomed manner, to perform his devotions in
the great church of Milan. He was stopped in the porch by the
archbishop; who, in the tone and language of an ambassador of
Heaven, declared to his sovereign, that private contrition was
not sufficient to atone for a public fault, or to appease the
justice of the offended Deity. Theodosius humbly represented,
that if he had contracted the guilt of homicide, David, the man
after God's own heart, had been guilty, not only of murder, but
of adultery. "You have imitated David in his crime, imitate then
his repentance," was the reply of the undaunted Ambrose. The
rigorous conditions of peace and pardon were accepted; and the
public penance of the emperor Theodosius has been recorded as one
of the most honorable events in the annals of the church.
According to the mildest rules of ecclesiastical discipline,
which were established in the fourth century, the crime of
homicide was expiated by the penitence of twenty years: ^97 and
as it was impossible, in the period of human life, to purge the
accumulated guilt of the massacre of Thessalonica, the murderer
should have been excluded from the holy communion till the hour
of his death. But the archbishop, consulting the maxims of
religious policy, granted some indulgence to the rank of his
illustrious penitent, who humbled in the dust the pride of the
diadem; and the public edification might be admitted as a weighty
reason to abridge the duration of his punishment. It was
sufficient, that the emperor of the Romans, stripped of the
ensigns of royalty, should appear in a mournful and suppliant
posture; and that, in the midst of the church of Milan, he should
humbly solicit, with sighs and tears, the pardon of his sins. ^98
In this spiritual cure, Ambrose employed the various methods of
mildness and severity. After a delay of about eight months,
Theodosius was restored to the communion of the faithful; and the
edict which interposes a salutary interval of thirty days between
the sentence and the execution, may be accepted as the worthy
fruits of his repentance. ^99 Posterity has applauded the
virtuous firmness of the archbishop; and the example of
Theodosius may prove the beneficial influence of those
principles, which could force a monarch, exalted above the
apprehension of human punishment, to respect the laws, and
ministers, of an invisible Judge. "The prince," says Montesquieu,
"who is actuated by the hopes and fears of religion, may be
compared to a lion, docile only to the voice, and tractable to
the hand, of his keeper." ^100 The motions of the royal animal
will therefore depend on the inclination, and interest, of the
man who has acquired such dangerous authority over him; and the
priest, who holds in his hands the conscience of a king, may
inflame, or moderate, his sanguinary passions. The cause of
humanity, and that of persecution, have been asserted, by the
same Ambrose, with equal energy, and with equal success.
[Footnote 96: Ambros. tom. ii. Epist. li. p. 997 - 1001. His
epistle is a miserable rhapsody on a noble subject. Ambrose
could act better than he could write. His compositions are
destitute of taste, or genius; without the spirit of Tertullian,
the copious elegance of Lactantius the lively wit of Jerom, or
the grave energy of Augustin.]

[Footnote 97: According to the discipline of St. Basil, (Canon
lvi.,) the voluntary homicide was four years a mourner; five a
hearer; seven in a prostrate state; and four in a standing
posture. I have the original (Beveridge, Pandect. tom. ii. p. 47
- 151) and a translation (Chardon, Hist. des Sacremens, tom. iv.
p. 219 - 277) of the Canonical Epistles of St. Basil.]
[Footnote 98: The penance of Theodosius is authenticated by
Ambrose, (tom. vi. de Obit. Theodos. c. 34, p. 1207,) Augustin,
(de Civitat. Dei, v. 26,) and Paulinus, (in Vit. Ambros. c. 24.)
Socrates is ignorant; Sozomen (l. vii. c. 25) concise; and the
copious narrative of Theodoret (l. v. c. 18) must be used with

[Footnote 99: Codex Theodos. l. ix. tit. xl. leg. 13. The date
and circumstances of this law are perplexed with difficulties;
but I feel myself inclined to favor the honest efforts of
Tillemont (Hist. des Emp. tom. v. p. 721) and Pagi, (Critica,
tom. i. p. 578.)]

[Footnote 100: Un prince qui aime la religion, et qui la craint,
est un lion qui cede a la main qui le flatte, ou a la voix qui
l'appaise. Esprit des Loix, l. xxiv. c. 2.]

Chapter XXVII: Civil Wars, Reign Of Theodosius.

Part V.

After the defeat and death of the tyrant of Gaul, the Roman
world was in the possession of Theodosius. He derived from the
choice of Gratian his honorable title to the provinces of the
East: he had acquired the West by the right of conquest; and the
three years which he spent in Italy were usefully employed to
restore the authority of the laws, and to correct the abuses
which had prevailed with impunity under the usurpation of
Maximus, and the minority of Valentinian. The name of
Valentinian was regularly inserted in the public acts: but the
tender age, and doubtful faith, of the son of Justina, appeared
to require the prudent care of an orthodox guardian; and his
specious ambition might have excluded the unfortunate youth,
without a struggle, and almost without a murmur, from the
administration, and even from the inheritance, of the empire. If
Theodosius had consulted the rigid maxims of interest and policy,
his conduct would have been justified by his friends; but the
generosity of his behavior on this memorable occasion has
extorted the applause of his most inveterate enemies. He seated
Valentinian on the throne of Milan; and, without stipulating any
present or future advantages, restored him to the absolute
dominion of all the provinces, from which he had been driven by
the arms of Maximus. To the restitution of his ample patrimony,
Theodosius added the free and generous gift of the countries
beyond the Alps, which his successful valor had recovered from
the assassin of Gratian. ^101 Satisfied with the glory which he
had acquired, by revenging the death of his benefactor, and
delivering the West from the yoke of tyranny, the emperor
returned from Milan to Constantinople; and, in the peaceful
possession of the East, insensibly relapsed into his former
habits of luxury and indolence. Theodosius discharged his
obligation to the brother, he indulged his conjugal tenderness to
the sister, of Valentinian; and posterity, which admires the pure
and singular glory of his elevation, must applaud his unrivalled
generosity in the use of victory.

[Footnote 101: It is the niggard praise of Zosimus himself, (l.
iv. p. 267.) Augustin says, with some happiness of expression,
Valentinianum .... misericordissima veneratione restituit.]
The empress Justina did not long survive her return to Italy;
and, though she beheld the triumph of Theodosius, she was not
allowed to influence the government of her son. ^102 The
pernicious attachment to the Arian sect, which Valentinian had
imbibed from her example and instructions, was soon erased by the
lessons of a more orthodox education. His growing zeal for the
faith of Nice, and his filial reverence for the character and
authority of Ambrose, disposed the Catholics to entertain the
most favorable opinion of the virtues of the young emperor of the
West. ^103 They applauded his chastity and temperance, his
contempt of pleasure, his application to business, and his tender
affection for his two sisters; which could not, however, seduce
his impartial equity to pronounce an unjust sentence against the
meanest of his subjects. But this amiable youth, before he had
accomplished the twentieth year of his age, was oppressed by
domestic treason; and the empire was again involved in the
horrors of a civil war. Arbogastes, ^104 a gallant soldier of the
nation of the Franks, held the second rank in the service of
Gratian. On the death of his master he joined the standard of
Theodosius; contributed, by his valor and military conduct, to
the destruction of the tyrant; and was appointed, after the
victory, master-general of the armies of Gaul. His real merit,
and apparent fidelity, had gained the confidence both of the
prince and people; his boundless liberality corrupted the
allegiance of the troops; and, whilst he was universally esteemed
as the pillar of the state, the bold and crafty Barbarian was
secretly determined either to rule, or to ruin, the empire of the
West. The important commands of the army were distributed among
the Franks; the creatures of Arbogastes were promoted to all the
honors and offices of the civil government; the progress of the
conspiracy removed every faithful servant from the presence of
Valentinian; and the emperor, without power and without
intelligence, insensibly sunk into the precarious and dependent
condition of a captive. ^105 The indignation which he expressed,
though it might arise only from the rash and impatient temper of
youth, may be candidly ascribed to the generous spirit of a
prince, who felt that he was not unworthy to reign. He secretly
invited the archbishop of Milan to undertake the office of a
mediator; as the pledge of his sincerity, and the guardian of his
safety. He contrived to apprise the emperor of the East of his
helpless situation, and he declared, that, unless Theodosius
could speedily march to his assistance, he must attempt to escape
from the palace, or rather prison, of Vienna in Gaul, where he
had imprudently fixed his residence in the midst of the hostile
faction. But the hopes of relief were distant, and doubtful:
and, as every day furnished some new provocation, the emperor,
without strength or counsel, too hastily resolved to risk an
immediate contest with his powerful general. He received
Arbogastes on the throne; and, as the count approached with some
appearance of respect, delivered to him a paper, which dismissed
him from all his employments. "My authority," replied
Arbogastes, with insulting coolness, "does not depend on the
smile or the frown of a monarch;" and he contemptuously threw the
paper on the ground. The indignant monarch snatched at the sword
of one of the guards, which he struggled to draw from its
scabbard; and it was not without some degree of violence that he
was prevented from using the deadly weapon against his enemy, or
against himself. A few days after this extraordinary quarrel, in
which he had exposed his resentment and his weakness, the
unfortunate Valentinian was found strangled in his apartment; and
some pains were employed to disguise the manifest guilt of
Arbogastes, and to persuade the world, that the death of the
young emperor had been the voluntary effect of his own despair.
^106 His body was conducted with decent pomp to the sepulchre of
Milan; and the archbishop pronounced a funeral oration to
commemorate his virtues and his misfortunes. ^107 On this
occasion the humanity of Ambrose tempted him to make a singular
breach in his theological system; and to comfort the weeping
sisters of Valentinian, by the firm assurance, that their pious
brother, though he had not received the sacrament of baptism, was
introduced, without difficulty, into the mansions of eternal
bliss. ^108

[Footnote 102: Sozomen, l. vii. c. 14. His chronology is very
[Footnote 103: See Ambrose, (tom. ii. de Obit. Valentinian. c.
15, &c. p. 1178. c. 36, &c. p. 1184.) When the young emperor gave
an entertainment, he fasted himself; he refused to see a handsome
actress, &c. Since he ordered his wild beasts to to be killed,
it is ungenerous in Philostor (l. xi. c. 1) to reproach him with
the love of that amusement.]

[Footnote 104: Zosimus (l. iv. p. 275) praises the enemy of
Theodosius. But he is detested by Socrates (l. v. c. 25) and
Orosius, (l. vii. c. 35.)]
[Footnote 105: Gregory of Tours (l. ii. c. 9, p. 165, in the
second volume of the Historians of France) has preserved a
curious fragment of Sulpicius Alexander, an historian far more
valuable than himself.]

[Footnote 106: Godefroy (Dissertat. ad. Philostorg. p. 429 - 434)
has diligently collected all the circumstances of the death of
Valentinian II. The variations, and the ignorance, of
contemporary writers, prove that it was secret.]

[Footnote 107: De Obitu Valentinian. tom. ii. p. 1173 - 1196. He
is forced to speak a discreet and obscure language: yet he is
much bolder than any layman, or perhaps any other ecclesiastic,
would have dared to be.]
[Footnote 108: See c. 51, p. 1188, c. 75, p. 1193. Dom Chardon,
(Hist. des Sacramens, tom. i. p. 86,) who owns that St. Ambrose
most strenuously maintains the indispensable necessity of
baptism, labors to reconcile the contradiction.]

The prudence of Arbogastes had prepared the success of his
ambitious designs: and the provincials, in whose breast every
sentiment of patriotism or loyalty was extinguished, expected,
with tame resignation, the unknown master, whom the choice of a
Frank might place on the Imperial throne. But some remains of
pride and prejudice still opposed the elevation of Arbogastes
himself; and the judicious Barbarian thought it more advisable to
reign under the name of some dependent Roman. He bestowed the
purple on the rhetorician Eugenius; ^109 whom he had already
raised from the place of his domestic secretary to the rank of
master of the offices. In the course, both of his private and
public service, the count had always approved the attachment and
abilities of Eugenius; his learning and eloquence, supported by
the gravity of his manners, recommended him to the esteem of the
people; and the reluctance with which he seemed to ascend the
throne, may inspire a favorable prejudice of his virtue and
moderation. The ambassadors of the new emperor were immediately
despatched to the court of Theodosius, to communicate, with
affected grief, the unfortunate accident of the death of
Valentinian; and, without mentioning the name of Arbogastes, to
request, that the monarch of the East would embrace, as his
lawful colleague, the respectable citizen, who had obtained the
unanimous suffrage of the armies and provinces of the West. ^110
Theodosius was justly provoked, that the perfidy of a Barbarian,
should have destroyed, in a moment, the labors, and the fruit, of
his former victory; and he was excited by the tears of his
beloved wife, ^111 to revenge the fate of her unhappy brother,
and once more to assert by arms the violated majesty of the
throne. But as the second conquest of the West was a task of
difficulty and danger, he dismissed, with splendid presents, and
an ambiguous answer, the ambassadors of Eugenius; and almost two
years were consumed in the preparations of the civil war. Before
he formed any decisive resolution, the pious emperor was anxious
to discover the will of Heaven; and as the progress of
Christianity had silenced the oracles of Delphi and Dodona, he
consulted an Egyptian monk, who possessed, in the opinion of the
age, the gift of miracles, and the knowledge of futurity.
Eutropius, one of the favorite eunuchs of the palace of
Constantinople, embarked for Alexandria, from whence he sailed up
the Nile, as far as the city of Lycopolis, or of Wolves, in the
remote province of Thebais. ^112 In the neighborhood of that
city, and on the summit of a lofty mountain, the holy John ^113
had constructed, with his own hands, an humble cell, in which he
had dwelt above fifty years, without opening his door, without
seeing the face of a woman, and without tasting any food that had
been prepared by fire, or any human art. Five days of the week
he spent in prayer and meditation; but on Saturdays and Sundays
he regularly opened a small window, and gave audience to the
crowd of suppliants who successively flowed from every part of
the Christian world. The eunuch of Theodosius approached the
window with respectful steps, proposed his questions concerning
the event of the civil war, and soon returned with a favorable
oracle, which animated the courage of the emperor by the
assurance of a bloody, but infallible victory. ^114 The
accomplishment of the prediction was forwarded by all the means
that human prudence could supply. The industry of the two
master-generals, Stilicho and Timasius, was directed to recruit
the numbers, and to revive the discipline of the Roman legions.
The formidable troops of Barbarians marched under the ensigns of
their national chieftains. The Iberian, the Arab, and the Goth,
who gazed on each other with mutual astonishment, were enlisted
in the service of the same prince; ^* and the renowned Alaric
acquired, in the school of Theodosius, the knowledge of the art
of war, which he afterwards so fatally exerted for the
destruction of Rome. ^115

[Footnote 109: Quem sibi Germanus famulam delegerat exul, is the
contemptuous expression of Claudian, (iv. Cons. Hon. 74.)
Eugenius professed Christianity; but his secret attachment to
Paganism (Sozomen, l. vii. c. 22, Philostorg. l. xi. c. 2) is
probable in a grammarian, and would secure the friendship of
Zosimus, (l. iv. p. 276, 277.)]

[Footnote 110: Zosimus (l. iv. p. 278) mentions this embassy; but
he is diverted by another story from relating the event.]

[Footnote 111: Zosim. l. iv. p. 277. He afterwards says (p. 280)
that Galla died in childbed; and intimates, that the affliction
of her husband was extreme but short.]

[Footnote 112: Lycopolis is the modern Siut, or Osiot, a town of
Said, about the size of St. Denys, which drives a profitable
trade with the kingdom of Senaar, and has a very convenient
fountain, "cujus potu signa virgini tatis eripiuntur." See
D'Anville, Description de l'Egypte, p. 181 Abulfeda, Descript.
Egypt. p. 14, and the curious Annotations, p. 25, 92, of his
editor Michaelis.]

[Footnote 113: The Life of John of Lycopolis is described by his
two friends, Rufinus (l. ii. c. i. p. 449) and Palladius, (Hist.
Lausiac. c. 43, p. 738,) in Rosweyde's great Collection of the
Vitae Patrum. Tillemont (Mem. Eccles. tom. x. p. 718, 720) has
settled the chronology.]

[Footnote 114: Sozomen, l. vii. c. 22. Claudian (in Eutrop. l.
i. 312) mentions the eunuch's journey; but he most contemptuously
derides the Egyptian dreams, and the oracles of the Nile.]
[Footnote *: Gibbon has embodied the picturesque verses of
Claudian: -
.... Nec tantis dissona linguis
Turba, nec armorum cultu diversion unquam]

[Footnote 115: Zosimus, l. iv. p. 280. Socrates, l. vii. 10.
Alaric himself (de Bell. Getico, 524) dwells with more
complacency on his early exploits against the Romans.

.... Tot Augustos Hebro qui teste fugavi.

Yet his vanity could scarcely have proved this plurality of
flying emperors.]
The emperor of the West, or, to speak more properly, his
general Arbogastes, was instructed by the misconduct and
misfortune of Maximus, how dangerous it might prove to extend the
line of defence against a skilful antagonist, who was free to
press, or to suspend, to contract, or to multiply, his various
methods of attack. ^116 Arbogastes fixed his station on the
confines of Italy; the troops of Theodosius were permitted to
occupy, without resistance, the provinces of Pannonia, as far as
the foot of the Julian Alps; and even the passes of the mountains
were negligently, or perhaps artfully, abandoned to the bold
invader. He descended from the hills, and beheld, with some
astonishment, the formidable camp of the Gauls and Germans, that
covered with arms and tents the open country which extends to the
walls of Aquileia, and the banks of the Frigidus, ^117 or Cold
River. ^118 This narrow theatre of the war, circumscribed by the
Alps and the Adriatic, did not allow much room for the operations
of military skill; the spirit of Arbogastes would have disdained
a pardon; his guilt extinguished the hope of a negotiation; and
Theodosius was impatient to satisfy his glory and revenge, by the
chastisement of the assassins of Valentinian. Without weighing
the natural and artificial obstacles that opposed his efforts,
the emperor of the East immediately attacked the fortifications
of his rivals, assigned the post of honorable danger to the
Goths, and cherished a secret wish, that the bloody conflict
might diminish the pride and numbers of the conquerors. Ten
thousand of those auxiliaries, and Bacurius, general of the
Iberians, died bravely on the field of battle. But the victory
was not purchased by their blood; the Gauls maintained their
advantage; and the approach of night protected the disorderly
flight, or retreat, of the troops of Theodosius. The emperor
retired to the adjacent hills; where he passed a disconsolate
night, without sleep, without provisions, and without hopes; ^119
except that strong assurance, which, under the most desperate
circumstances, the independent mind may derive from the contempt
of fortune and of life. The triumph of Eugenius was celebrated
by the insolent and dissolute joy of his camp; whilst the active
and vigilant Arbogastes secretly detached a considerable body of
troops to occupy the passes of the mountains, and to encompass
the rear of the Eastern army. The dawn of day discovered to the
eyes of Theodosius the extent and the extremity of his danger;
but his apprehensions were soon dispelled, by a friendly message
from the leaders of those troops who expressed their inclination
to desert the standard of the tyrant. The honorable and
lucrative rewards, which they stipulated as the price of their
perfidy, were granted without hesitation; and as ink and paper
could not easily be procured, the emperor subscribed, on his own
tablets, the ratification of the treaty. The spirit of his
soldiers was revived by this seasonable reenforcement; and they
again marched, with confidence, to surprise the camp of a tyrant,
whose principal officers appeared to distrust, either the justice
or the success of his arms. In the heat of the battle, a violent
tempest, ^120 such as is often felt among the Alps, suddenly
arose from the East. The army of Theodosius was sheltered by
their position from the impetuosity of the wind, which blew a
cloud of dust in the faces of the enemy, disordered their ranks,
wrested their weapons from their hands, and diverted, or
repelled, their ineffectual javelins. This accidental advantage
was skilfully improved, the violence of the storm was magnified
by the superstitious terrors of the Gauls; and they yielded
without shame to the invisible powers of heaven, who seemed to
militate on the side of the pious emperor. His victory was
decisive; and the deaths of his two rivals were distinguished
only by the difference of their characters. The rhetorician
Eugenius, who had almost acquired the dominion of the world, was
reduced to implore the mercy of the conqueror; and the
unrelenting soldiers separated his head from his body as he lay
prostrate at the feet of Theodosius. Arbogastes, after the loss
of a battle, in which he had discharged the duties of a soldier
and a general, wandered several days among the mountains. But
when he was convinced that his cause was desperate, and his
escape impracticable, the intrepid Barbarian imitated the example
of the ancient Romans, and turned his sword against his own
breast. The fate of the empire was determined in a narrow corner
of Italy; and the legitimate successor of the house of
Valentinian embraced the archbishop of Milan, and graciously
received the submission of the provinces of the West. Those
provinces were involved in the guilt of rebellion; while the
inflexible courage of Ambrose alone had resisted the claims of
successful usurpation. With a manly freedom, which might have
been fatal to any other subject, the archbishop rejected the
gifts of Eugenius, ^* declined his correspondence, and withdrew
himself from Milan, to avoid the odious presence of a tyrant,
whose downfall he predicted in discreet and ambiguous language.
The merit of Ambrose was applauded by the conqueror, who secured
the attachment of the people by his alliance with the church; and
the clemency of Theodosius is ascribed to the humane intercession
of the archbishop of Milan. ^121
[Footnote 116: Claudian (in iv. Cons. Honor. 77, &c.) contrasts
the military plans of the two usurpers: -

.... Novitas audere priorem
Suadebat; cautumque dabant exempla sequentem.
Hic nova moliri praeceps: hic quaerere tuta
Providus. Hic fusis; colectis viribus ille.
Hic vagus excurrens; hic intra claustra reductus
Dissimiles, sed morte pares ......]

[Footnote 117: The Frigidus, a small, though memorable, stream in
the country of Goretz, now called the Vipao, falls into the
Sontius, or Lisonzo, above Aquileia, some miles from the
Adriatic. See D'Anville's ancient and modern maps, and the
Italia Antiqua of Cluverius, (tom. i. c. 188.)]
[Footnote 118: Claudian's wit is intolerable: the snow was dyed
red; the cold ver smoked; and the channel must have been choked
with carcasses the current had not been swelled with blood.
Confluxit populus: totam pater undique secum
Moverat Aurorem; mixtis hic Colchus Iberis,
Hic mitra velatus Arabs, hic crine decoro
Armenius, hic picta Saces, fucataque Medus,
Hic gemmata tiger tentoria fixerat Indus. - De Laud. Stil.
l. 145. - M.]
[Footnote 119: Theodoret affirms, that St. John, and St. Philip,
appeared to the waking, or sleeping, emperor, on horseback, &c.
This is the first instance of apostolic chivalry, which
afterwards became so popular in Spain, and in the Crusades.]
[Footnote 120: Te propter, gelidis Aquilo de monte procellis

Obruit adversas acies; revolutaque tela
Vertit in auctores, et turbine reppulit hastas

O nimium dilecte Deo, cui fundit ab antris
Aeolus armatas hyemes; cui militat Aether,
Et conjurati veniunt ad classica venti.

These famous lines of Claudian (in iii. Cons. Honor. 93, &c.
A.D. 396) are alleged by his contemporaries, Augustin and
Orosius; who suppress the Pagan deity of Aeolus, and add some
circumstances from the information of eye-witnesses. Within four
months after the victory, it was compared by Ambrose to the
miraculous victories of Moses and Joshua.]

[Footnote *: Arbogastes and his emperor had openly espoused the
Pagan party, according to Ambrose and Augustin. See Le Beau, v.
40. Beugnot (Histoire de la Destruction du Paganisme) is more
full, and perhaps somewhat fanciful, on this remarkable reaction
in favor of Paganism, but compare p 116. - M.]

[Footnote 121: The events of this civil war are gathered from
Ambrose, (tom. ii. Epist. lxii. p. 1022,) Paulinus, (in Vit.
Ambros. c. 26 - 34,) Augustin, (de Civitat. Dei, v. 26,) Orosius,
(l. vii. c. 35,) Sozomen, (l. vii. c. 24,) Theodoret, (l. v. c.
24,) Zosimus, (l. iv. p. 281, 282,) Claudian, (in iii. Cons. Hon.
63 - 105, in iv. Cons. Hon. 70 - 117,) and the Chronicles
published by Scaliger.]

After the defeat of Eugenius, the merit, as well as the
authority, of Theodosius was cheerfully acknowledged by all the
inhabitants of the Roman world. The experience of his past
conduct encouraged the most pleasing expectations of his future
reign; and the age of the emperor, which did not exceed fifty
years, seemed to extend the prospect of the public felicity. His
death, only four months after his victory, was considered by the
people as an unforeseen and fatal event, which destroyed, in a
moment, the hopes of the rising generation. But the indulgence
of ease and luxury had secretly nourished the principles of
disease. ^122 The strength of Theodosius was unable to support
the sudden and violent transition from the palace to the camp;
and the increasing symptoms of a dropsy announced the speedy
dissolution of the emperor. The opinion, and perhaps the
interest, of the public had confirmed the division of the Eastern
and Western empires; and the two royal youths, Arcadius and
Honorius, who had already obtained, from the tenderness of their
father, the title of Augustus, were destined to fill the thrones
of Constantinople and of Rome. Those princes were not permitted
to share the danger and glory of the civil war; ^123 but as soon
as Theodosius had triumphed over his unworthy rivals, he called
his younger son, Honorius, to enjoy the fruits of the victory,
and to receive the sceptre of the West from the hands of his
dying father. The arrival of Honorius at Milan was welcomed by a
splendid exhibition of the games of the Circus; and the emperor,
though he was oppressed by the weight of his disorder,
contributed by his presence to the public joy. But the remains
of his strength were exhausted by the painful effort which he
made to assist at the spectacles of the morning. Honorius
supplied, during the rest of the day, the place of his father;
and the great Theodosius expired in the ensuing night.
Notwithstanding the recent animosities of a civil war, his death
was universally lamented. The Barbarians, whom he had vanquished
and the churchmen, by whom he had been subdued, celebrated, with
loud and sincere applause, the qualities of the deceased emperor,
which appeared the most valuable in their eyes. The Romans were
terrified by the impending dangers of a feeble and divided
administration, and every disgraceful moment of the unfortunate
reigns of Arcadius and Honorius revived the memory of their
irreparable loss.

[Footnote 122: This disease, ascribed by Socrates (l. v. c. 26)
to the fatigues of war, is represented by Philostorgius (l. xi.
c. 2) as the effect of sloth and intemperance; for which Photius
calls him an impudent liar, (Godefroy, Dissert. p. 438.)]

[Footnote 123: Zosimus supposes, that the boy Honorius
accompanied his father, (l. iv. p. 280.) Yet the quanto
flagrabrant pectora voto is all that flattery would allow to a
contemporary poet; who clearly describes the emperor's refusal,
and the journey of Honorius, after the victory (Claudian in iii.
Cons. 78 - 125.)]

In the faithful picture of the virtues of Theodosius, his
imperfections have not been dissembled; the act of cruelty, and
the habits of indolence, which tarnished the glory of one of the
greatest of the Roman princes. An historian, perpetually adverse
to the fame of Theodosius, has exaggerated his vices, and their
pernicious effects; he boldly asserts, that every rank of
subjects imitated the effeminate manners of their sovereign; and
that every species of corruption polluted the course of public
and private life; and that the feeble restraints of order and
decency were insufficient to resist the progress of that
degenerate spirit, which sacrifices, without a blush, the
consideration of duty and interest to the base indulgence of
sloth and appetite. ^124 The complaints of contemporary writers,
who deplore the increase of luxury, and depravation of manners,
are commonly expressive of their peculiar temper and situation.
There are few observers, who possess a clear and comprehensive
view of the revolutions of society; and who are capable of
discovering the nice and secret springs of action, which impel,
in the same uniform direction, the blind and capricious passions
of a multitude of individuals. If it can be affirmed, with any
degree of truth, that the luxury of the Romans was more shameless
and dissolute in the reign of Theodosius than in the age of
Constantine, perhaps, or of Augustus, the alteration cannot be
ascribed to any beneficial improvements, which had gradually
increased the stock of national riches. A long period of
calamity or decay must have checked the industry, and diminished
the wealth, of the people; and their profuse luxury must have
been the result of that indolent despair, which enjoys the
present hour, and declines the thoughts of futurity. The
uncertain condition of their property discouraged the subjects of
Theodosius from engaging in those useful and laborious
undertakings which require an immediate expense, and promise a
slow and distant advantage. The frequent examples of ruin and
desolation tempted them not to spare the remains of a patrimony,
which might, every hour, become the prey of the rapacious Goth.
And the mad prodigality which prevails in the confusion of a
shipwreck, or a siege, may serve to explain the progress of
luxury amidst the misfortunes and terrors of a sinking nation.
[Footnote 124: Zosimus, l. iv. p. 244.]

The effeminate luxury, which infected the manners of courts
and cities, had instilled a secret and destructive poison into
the camps of the legions; and their degeneracy has been marked by
the pen of a military writer, who had accurately studied the
genuine and ancient principles of Roman discipline. It is the
just and important observation of Vegetius, that the infantry was
invariably covered with defensive armor, from the foundation of
the city, to the reign of the emperor Gratian. The relaxation of
discipline, and the disuse of exercise, rendered the soldiers
less able, and less willing, to support the fatigues of the
service; they complained of the weight of the armor, which they
seldom wore; and they successively obtained the permission of
laying aside both their cuirasses and their helmets. The heavy
weapons of their ancestors, the short sword, and the formidable
pilum, which had subdued the world, insensibly dropped from their
feeble hands. As the use of the shield is incompatible with that
of the bow, they reluctantly marched into the field; condemned to
suffer either the pain of wounds, or the ignominy of flight, and
always disposed to prefer the more shameful alternative. The
cavalry of the Goths, the Huns, and the Alani, had felt the
benefits, and adopted the use, of defensive armor; and, as they
excelled in the management of missile weapons, they easily
overwhelmed the naked and trembling legions, whose heads and
breasts were exposed, without defence, to the arrows of the
Barbarians. The loss of armies, the destruction of cities, and
the dishonor of the Roman name, ineffectually solicited the
successors of Gratian to restore the helmets and the cuirasses of
the infantry. The enervated soldiers abandoned their own and the
public defence; and their pusillanimous indolence may be
considered as the immediate cause of the downfall of the empire.

[Footnote 125: Vegetius, de Re Militari, l. i. c. 10. The series
of calamities which he marks, compel us to believe, that the
Hero, to whom he dedicates his book, is the last and most
inglorious of the Valentinians.]

Chapter XXVIII: Destruction Of Paganism.

Part I.

Final Destruction Of Paganism. - Introduction Of The Worship
Of Saints, And Relics, Among The Christians.

The ruin of Paganism, in the age of Theodosius, is perhaps
the only example of the total extirpation of any ancient and
popular superstition; and may therefore deserve to be considered
as a singular event in the history of the human mind. The
Christians, more especially the clergy, had impatiently supported
the prudent delays of Constantine, and the equal toleration of
the elder Valentinian; nor could they deem their conquest perfect
or secure, as long as their adversaries were permitted to exist.
The influence which Ambrose and his brethren had acquired over
the youth of Gratian, and the piety of Theodosius, was employed
to infuse the maxims of persecution into the breasts of their
Imperial proselytes. Two specious principles of religious
jurisprudence were established, from whence they deduced a direct
and rigorous conclusion, against the subjects of the empire who
still adhered to the ceremonies of their ancestors: that the
magistrate is, in some measure, guilty of the crimes which he
neglects to prohibit, or to punish; and, that the idolatrous
worship of fabulous deities, and real daemons, is the most
abominable crime against the supreme majesty of the Creator. The
laws of Moses, and the examples of Jewish history, ^1 were
hastily, perhaps erroneously, applied, by the clergy, to the mild
and universal reign of Christianity. ^2 The zeal of the emperors
was excited to vindicate their own honor, and that of the Deity:
and the temples of the Roman world were subverted, about sixty
years after the conversion of Constantine.

[Footnote 1: St. Ambrose (tom. ii. de Obit. Theodos. p. 1208)
expressly praises and recommends the zeal of Josiah in the
destruction of idolatry The language of Julius Firmicus Maternus
on the same subject (de Errore Profan. Relig. p. 467, edit.
Gronov.) is piously inhuman. Nec filio jubet (the Mosaic Law)
parci, nec fratri, et per amatam conjugera gladium vindicem
ducit, &c.]

[Footnote 2: Bayle (tom. ii. p. 406, in his Commentaire
Philosophique) justifies, and limits, these intolerant laws by
the temporal reign of Jehovah over the Jews. The attempt is

From the age of Numa to the reign of Gratian, the Romans
preserved the regular succession of the several colleges of the
sacerdotal order. ^3 Fifteen Pontiffs exercised their supreme
jurisdiction over all things, and persons, that were consecrated
to the service of the gods; and the various questions which
perpetually arose in a loose and traditionary system, were
submitted to the judgment of their holy tribunal Fifteen grave
and learned Augurs observed the face of the heavens, and
prescribed the actions of heroes, according to the flight of
birds. Fifteen keepers of the Sibylline books (their name of
Quindecemvirs was derived from their number) occasionally
consulted the history of future, and, as it should seem, of
contingent, events. Six Vestals devoted their virginity to the
guard of the sacred fire, and of the unknown pledges of the
duration of Rome; which no mortal had been suffered to behold
with impunity. ^4 Seven Epulos prepared the table of the gods,
conducted the solemn procession, and regulated the ceremonies of
the annual festival. The three Flamens of Jupiter, of Mars, and
of Quirinus, were considered as the peculiar ministers of the
three most powerful deities, who watched over the fate of Rome
and of the universe. The King of the Sacrifices represented the
person of Numa, and of his successors, in the religious
functions, which could be performed only by royal hands. The
confraternities of the Salians, the Lupercals, &c., practised
such rites as might extort a smile of contempt from every
reasonable man, with a lively confidence of recommending
themselves to the favor of the immortal gods. The authority,
which the Roman priests had formerly obtained in the counsels of
the republic, was gradually abolished by the establishment of
monarchy, and the removal of the seat of empire. But the dignity
of their sacred character was still protected by the laws, and
manners of their country; and they still continued, more
especially the college of pontiffs, to exercise in the capital,
and sometimes in the provinces, the rights of their
ecclesiastical and civil jurisdiction. Their robes of purple,
chariotz of state, and sumptuous entertainments, attracted the
admiration of the people; and they received, from the consecrated
lands, and the public revenue, an ample stipend, which liberally
supported the splendor of the priesthood, and all the expenses of
the religious worship of the state. As the service of the altar
was not incompatible with the command of armies, the Romans,
after their consulships and triumphs, aspired to the place of
pontiff, or of augur; the seats of Cicero ^5 and Pompey were
filled, in the fourth century, by the most illustrious members of
the senate; and the dignity of their birth reflected additional
splendor on their sacerdotal character. The fifteen priests, who
composed the college of pontiffs, enjoyed a more distinguished
rank as the companions of their sovereign; and the Christian
emperors condescended to accept the robe and ensigns, which were
appropriated to the office of supreme pontiff. But when Gratian
ascended the throne, more scrupulous or more enlightened, he
sternly rejected those profane symbols; ^6 applied to the service
of the state, or of the church, the revenues of the priests and
vestals; abolished their honors and immunities; and dissolved the
ancient fabric of Roman superstition, which was supported by the
opinions and habits of eleven hundred years. Paganism was still
the constitutional religion of the senate. The hall, or temple,
in which they assembled, was adorned by the statue and altar of
Victory; ^7 a majestic female standing on a globe, with flowing
garments, expanded wings, and a crown of laurel in her
outstretched hand. ^8 The senators were sworn on the altar of the
goddess to observe the laws of the emperor and of the empire: and
a solemn offering of wine and incense was the ordinary prelude of
their public deliberations. The removal of this ancient monument
was the only injury which Constantius had offered to the
superstition of the Romans. The altar of Victory was again
restored by Julian, tolerated by Valentinian, and once more
banished from the senate by the zeal of Gratian. ^10 But the
emperor yet spared the statues of the gods which were exposed to
the public veneration: four hundred and twenty-four temples, or
chapels, still remained to satisfy the devotion of the people;
and in every quarter of Rome the delicacy of the Christians was
offended by the fumes of idolatrous sacrifice. ^11
[Footnote 3: See the outlines of the Roman hierarchy in Cicero,
(de Legibus, ii. 7, 8,) Livy, (i. 20,) Dionysius
Halicarnassensis, (l. ii. p. 119 - 129, edit. Hudson,) Beaufort,
(Republique Romaine, tom. i. p. 1 - 90,) and Moyle, (vol. i. p.
10 - 55.) The last is the work of an English whig, as well as of
a Roman antiquary.]

[Footnote 4: These mystic, and perhaps imaginary, symbols have
given birth to various fables and conjectures. It seems
probable, that the Palladium was a small statue (three cubits and
a half high) of Minerva, with a lance and distaff; that it was
usually enclosed in a seria, or barrel; and that a similar barrel
was placed by its side to disconcert curiosity, or sacrilege.
See Mezeriac (Comment. sur les Epitres d'Ovide, tom i. p. 60 -
66) and Lipsius, (tom. iii. p. 610 de Vesta, &c. c 10.)]

[Footnote 5: Cicero frankly (ad Atticum, l. ii. Epist. 5) or
indirectly (ad Familiar. l. xv. Epist. 4) confesses that the
Augurate is the supreme object of his wishes. Pliny is proud to
tread in the footsteps of Cicero, (l. iv. Epist. 8,) and the
chain of tradition might be continued from history and marbles.]
[Footnote 6: Zosimus, l. iv. p. 249, 250. I have suppressed the
foolish pun about Pontifex and Maximus.]

[Footnote 7: This statue was transported from Tarentum to Rome,
placed in the Curia Julia by Caesar, and decorated by Augustus
with the spoils of Egypt.]

[Footnote 8: Prudentius (l. ii. in initio) has drawn a very
awkward portrait of Victory; but the curious reader will obtain
more satisfaction from Montfaucon's Antiquities, (tom. i. p.

[Footnote 9: See Suetonius (in August. c. 35) and the Exordium of
Pliny's Panegyric.]

[Footnote 10: These facts are mutually allowed by the two
advocates, Symmachus and Ambrose.]

[Footnote 11: The Notitia Urbis, more recent than Constantine,
does not find one Christian church worthy to be named among the
edifices of the city. Ambrose (tom. ii. Epist. xvii. p. 825)
deplores the public scandals of Rome, which continually offended
the eyes, the ears, and the nostrils of the faithful.]

But the Christians formed the least numerous party in the
senate of Rome: ^12 and it was only by their absence, that they
could express their dissent from the legal, though profane, acts
of a Pagan majority. In that assembly, the dying embers of
freedom were, for a moment, revived and inflamed by the breath of
fanaticism. Four respectable deputations were successively voted
to the Imperial court, ^13 to represent the grievances of the
priesthood and the senate, and to solicit the restoration of the
altar of Victory. The conduct of this important business was
intrusted to the eloquent Symmachus, ^14 a wealthy and noble
senator, who united the sacred characters of pontiff and augur
with the civil dignities of proconsul of Africa and praefect of
the city. The breast of Symmachus was animated by the warmest
zeal for the cause of expiring Paganism; and his religious
antagonists lamented the abuse of his genius, and the inefficacy
of his moral virtues. ^15 The orator, whose petition is extant to
the emperor Valentinian, was conscious of the difficulty and
danger of the office which he had assumed. He cautiously avoids
every topic which might appear to reflect on the religion of his
sovereign; humbly declares, that prayers and entreaties are his
only arms; and artfully draws his arguments from the schools of
rhetoric, rather than from those of philosophy. Symmachus
endeavors to seduce the imagination of a young prince, by
displaying the attributes of the goddess of victory; he
insinuates, that the confiscation of the revenues, which were
consecrated to the service of the gods, was a measure unworthy of
his liberal and disinterested character; and he maintains, that
the Roman sacrifices would be deprived of their force and energy,
if they were no longer celebrated at the expense, as well as in
the name, of the republic. Even scepticism is made to supply an
apology for superstition. The great and incomprehensible secret
of the universe eludes the inquiry of man. Where reason cannot
instruct, custom may be permitted to guide; and every nation
seems to consult the dictates of prudence, by a faithful
attachment to those rites and opinions, which have received the
sanction of ages. If those ages have been crowned with glory and
prosperity, if the devout people have frequently obtained the
blessings which they have solicited at the altars of the gods, it
must appear still more advisable to persist in the same salutary
practice; and not to risk the unknown perils that may attend any
rash innovations. The test of antiquity and success was applied
with singular advantage to the religion of Numa; and Rome
herself, the celestial genius that presided over the fates of the
city, is introduced by the orator to plead her own cause before
the tribunal of the emperors. "Most excellent princes," says the
venerable matron, "fathers of your country! pity and respect my
age, which has hitherto flowed in an uninterrupted course of
piety. Since I do not repent, permit me to continue in the
practice of my ancient rites. Since I am born free, allow me to
enjoy my domestic institutions. This religion has reduced the
world under my laws. These rites have repelled Hannibal from the
city, and the Gauls from the Capitol. Were my gray hairs
reserved for such intolerable disgrace? I am ignorant of the new
system that I am required to adopt; but I am well assured, that
the correction of old age is always an ungrateful and ignominious
office." ^16 The fears of the people supplied what the discretion
of the orator had suppressed; and the calamities, which
afflicted, or threatened, the declining empire, were unanimously
imputed, by the Pagans, to the new religion of Christ and of

[Footnote 12: Ambrose repeatedly affirms, in contradiction to
common sense (Moyle's Works, vol. ii. p. 147,) that the
Christians had a majority in the senate.]

[Footnote 13: The first (A.D. 382) to Gratian, who refused them
audience; the second (A.D. 384) to Valentinian, when the field
was disputed by Symmachus and Ambrose; the third (A.D. 388) to
Theodosius; and the fourth (A.D. 392) to Valentinian. Lardner
(Heathen Testimonies, vol. iv. p. 372 - 399) fairly represents
the whole transaction.]

[Footnote 14: Symmachus, who was invested with all the civil and
sacerdotal honors, represented the emperor under the two
characters of Pontifex Maximus, and Princeps Senatus. See the
proud inscription at the head of his works.

Note: Mr. Beugnot has made it doubtful whether Symmachus was
more than Pontifex Major. Destruction du Paganisme, vol. i. p.
459. - M.]
[Footnote 15: As if any one, says Prudentius (in Symmach. i. 639)
should dig in the mud with an instrument of gold and ivory. Even
saints, and polemic saints, treat this adversary with respect and
[Footnote 16: See the fifty-fourth Epistle of the tenth book of
Symmachus. In the form and disposition of his ten books of
Epistles, he imitated the younger Pliny; whose rich and florid
style he was supposed, by his friends, to equal or excel,
(Macrob. Saturnal. l. v. c. i.) But the luxcriancy of Symmachus
consists of barren leaves, without fruits, and even without
flowers. Few facts, and few sentiments, can be extracted from
his verbose correspondence.]

But the hopes of Symmachus were repeatedly baffled by the
firm and dexterous opposition of the archbishop of Milan, who
fortified the emperors against the fallacious eloquence of the
advocate of Rome. In this controversy, Ambrose condescends to
speak the language of a philosopher, and to ask, with some
contempt, why it should be thought necessary to introduce an
imaginary and invisible power, as the cause of those victories,
which were sufficiently explained by the valor and discipline of
the legions. He justly derides the absurd reverence for
antiquity, which could only tend to discourage the improvements
of art, and to replunge the human race into their original
barbarism. From thence, gradually rising to a more lofty and
theological tone, he pronounces, that Christianity alone is the
doctrine of truth and salvation; and that every mode of
Polytheism conducts its deluded votaries, through the paths of
error, to the abyss of eternal perdition. ^17 Arguments like
these, when they were suggested by a favorite bishop, had power
to prevent the restoration of the altar of Victory; but the same
arguments fell, with much more energy and effect, from the mouth
of a conqueror; and the gods of antiquity were dragged in triumph
at the chariot-wheels of Theodosius. ^18 In a full meeting of the
senate, the emperor proposed, according to the forms of the
republic, the important question, Whether the worship of Jupiter,
or that of Christ, should be the religion of the Romans. ^* The
liberty of suffrages, which he affected to allow, was destroyed
by the hopes and fears that his presence inspired; and the
arbitrary exile of Symmachus was a recent admonition, that it
might be dangerous to oppose the wishes of the monarch. On a
regular division of the senate, Jupiter was condemned and
degraded by the sense of a very large majority; and it is rather
surprising, that any members should be found bold enough to
declare, by their speeches and votes, that they were still
attached to the interest of an abdicated deity. ^19 The hasty
conversion of the senate must be attributed either to
supernatural or to sordid motives; and many of these reluctant
proselytes betrayed, on every favorable occasion, their secret
disposition to throw aside the mask of odious dissimulation. But
they were gradually fixed in the new religion, as the cause of
the ancient became more hopeless; they yielded to the authority
of the emperor, to the fashion of the times, and to the
entreaties of their wives and children, ^20 who were instigated
and governed by the clergy of Rome and the monks of the East.
The edifying example of the Anician family was soon imitated by
the rest of the nobility: the Bassi, the Paullini, the Gracchi,
embraced the Christian religion; and "the luminaries of the
world, the venerable assembly of Catos (such are the high-flown
expressions of Prudentius) were impatient to strip themselves of
their pontifical garment; to cast the skin of the old serpent; to
assume the snowy robes of baptismal innocence, and to humble the
pride of the consular fasces before tombs of the martyrs." ^21
The citizens, who subsisted by their own industry, and the
populace, who were supported by the public liberality, filled the
churches of the Lateran, and Vatican, with an incessant throng of
devout proselytes. The decrees of the senate, which proscribed
the worship of idols, were ratified by the general consent of the
Romans; ^22 the splendor of the Capitol was defaced, and the
solitary temples were abandoned to ruin and contempt. ^23 Rome
submitted to the yoke of the Gospel; and the vanquished provinces
had not yet lost their reverence for the name and authority of
Rome. ^*

[Footnote 17: See Ambrose, (tom. ii. Epist. xvii. xviii. p. 825 -
833.) The former of these epistles is a short caution; the latter
is a formal reply of the petition or libel of Symmachus. The
same ideas are more copiously expressed in the poetry, if it may
deserve that name, of Prudentius; who composed his two books
against Symmachus (A.D. 404) while that senator was still alive.
It is whimsical enough that Montesquieu (Considerations, &c. c.
xix. tom. iii. p. 487) should overlook the two professed
antagonists of Symmachus, and amuse himself with descanting on
the more remote and indirect confutations of Orosius, St.
Augustin, and Salvian.]
[Footnote 18: See Prudentius (in Symmach. l. i. 545, &c.) The
Christian agrees with the Pagan Zosimus (l. iv. p. 283) in
placing this visit of Theodosius after the second civil war,
gemini bis victor caede Tyranni, (l. i. 410.) But the time and
circumstances are better suited to his first triumph.]

[Footnote *: M. Beugnot (in his Histoire de la Destruction du
Paganisme en Occident, i. p. 483 - 488) questions, altogether,
the truth of this statement. It is very remarkable that Zosimus
and Prudentius concur in asserting the fact of the question being
solemnly deliberated by the senate, though with directly opposite
results. Zosimus declares that the majority of the assembly
adhered to the ancient religion of Rome; Gibbon has adopted the
authority of Prudentius, who, as a Latin writer, though a poet,
deserves more credit than the Greek historian. Both concur in
placing this scene after the second triumph of Theodosius; but it
has been almost demonstrated (and Gibbon - see the preceding note
- seems to have acknowledged this) by Pagi and Tillemont, that
Theodosius did not visit Rome after the defeat of Eugenius. M.
Beugnot urges, with much force, the improbability that the
Christian emperor would submit such a question to the senate,
whose authority was nearly obsolete, except on one occasion,
which was almost hailed as an epoch in the restoration of her
ancient privileges. The silence of Ambrose and of Jerom on an
event so striking, and redounding so much to the honor of
Christianity, is of considerable weight. M. Beugnot would
ascribe the whole scene to the poetic imagination of Prudentius;
but I must observe, that, however Prudentius is sometimes
elevated by the grandeur of his subject to vivid and eloquent
language, this flight of invention would be so much bolder and
more vigorous than usual with this poet, that I cannot but
suppose there must have been some foundation for the story,
though it may have been exaggerated by the poet, or
misrepresented by the historian. - M]

[Footnote 19: Prudentius, after proving that the sense of the
senate is declared by a legal majority, proceeds to say, (609,
&c.) -
Adspice quam pleno subsellia nostra Senatu
Decernant infame Jovis pulvinar, et omne
Idolum longe purgata ex urbe fugandum,
Qua vocat egregii sententia Principis, illuc
Libera, cum pedibus, tum corde, frequentia transit.

Zosimus ascribes to the conscript feathers a heathenish courage,
which few of them are found to possess.]

[Footnote 20: Jerom specifies the pontiff Albinus, who was
surrounded with such a believing family of children and
grandchildren, as would have been sufficient to convert even
Jupiter himself; an extraordinary proselyted (tom. i. ad Laetam,
p. 54.)]

[Footnote 21: Exultare Patres videas, pulcherrima mundi
Lumina; Conciliumque senum gestire Catonum
Candidiore toga niveum pietatis amictum
Sumere; et exuvias deponere pontificales.

The fancy of Prudentius is warmed and elevated by victory]
[Footnote 22: Prudentius, after he has described the conversion
of the senate and people, asks, with some truth and confidence,

Et dubitamus adhuc Romam, tibi, Christe, dicatam
In leges transisse tuas?]

[Footnote 23: Jerom exults in the desolation of the Capitol, and
the other temples of Rome, (tom. i. p. 54, tom. ii. p. 95.)]
[Footnote *: M. Beugnot is more correct in his general estimate
of the measures enforced by Theodosius for the abolition of
Paganism. He seized (according to Zosimus) the funds bestowed by
the public for the expense of sacrifices. The public sacrifices
ceased, not because they were positively prohibited, but because
the public treasury would no longer bear the expense. The public
and the private sacrifices in the provinces, which were not under
the same regulations with those of the capital, continued to take
place. In Rome itself, many pagan ceremonies, which were without
sacrifice, remained in full force. The gods, therefore, were
invoked, the temples were frequented, the pontificates inscribed,
according to ancient usage, among the family titles of honor; and
it cannot be asserted that idolatry was completely destroyed by
Theodosius. See Beugnot, p. 491. - M.]

Chapter XXVIII: Destruction Of Paganism.

Part II.

The filial piety of the emperors themselves engaged them to
proceed, with some caution and tenderness, in the reformation of
the eternal city. Those absolute monarchs acted with less regard
to the prejudices of the provincials. The pious labor which had
been suspended near twenty years since the death of Constantius,
^24 was vigorously resumed, and finally accomplished, by the zeal
of Theodosius. Whilst that warlike prince yet struggled with the
Goths, not for the glory, but for the safety, of the republic, he
ventured to offend a considerable party of his subjects, by some
acts which might perhaps secure the protection of Heaven, but
which must seem rash and unseasonable in the eye of human
prudence. The success of his first experiments against the
Pagans encouraged the pious emperor to reiterate and enforce his
edicts of proscription: the same laws which had been originally
published in the provinces of the East, were applied, after the
defeat of Maximus, to the whole extent of the Western empire; and
every victory of the orthodox Theodosius contributed to the
triumph of the Christian and Catholic faith. ^25 He attacked
superstition in her most vital part, by prohibiting the use of
sacrifices, which he declared to be criminal as well as infamous;
and if the terms of his edicts more strictly condemned the
impious curiosity which examined the entrails of the victim, ^26
every subsequent explanation tended to involve in the same guilt
the general practice of immolation, which essentially constituted
the religion of the Pagans. As the temples had been erected for
the purpose of sacrifice, it was the duty of a benevolent prince
to remove from his subjects the dangerous temptation of offending
against the laws which he had enacted. A special commission was
granted to Cynegius, the Praetorian praefect of the East, and
afterwards to the counts Jovius and Gaudentius, two officers of
distinguished rank in the West; by which they were directed to
shut the temples, to seize or destroy the instruments of
idolatry, to abolish the privileges of the priests, and to
confiscate the consecrated property for the benefit of the
emperor, of the church, or of the army. ^27 Here the desolation
might have stopped: and the naked edifices, which were no longer
employed in the service of idolatry, might have been protected
from the destructive rage of fanaticism. Many of those temples
were the most splendid and beautiful monuments of Grecian
architecture; and the emperor himself was interested not to
deface the splendor of his own cities, or to diminish the value
of his own possessions. Those stately edifices might be suffered
to remain, as so many lasting trophies of the victory of Christ.
In the decline of the arts they might be usefully converted into
magazines, manufactures, or places of public assembly: and
perhaps, when the walls of the temple had been sufficiently
purified by holy rites, the worship of the true Deity might be
allowed to expiate the ancient guilt of idolatry. But as long as
they subsisted, the Pagans fondly cherished the secret hope, that
an auspicious revolution, a second Julian, might again restore
the altars of the gods: and the earnestness with which they
addressed their unavailing prayers to the throne, ^28 increased
the zeal of the Christian reformers to extirpate, without mercy,
the root of superstition. The laws of the emperors exhibit some
symptoms of a milder disposition: ^29 but their cold and languid
efforts were insufficient to stem the torrent of enthusiasm and
rapine, which was conducted, or rather impelled, by the spiritual
rulers of the church. In Gaul, the holy Martin, bishop of Tours,
^30 marched at the head of his faithful monks to destroy the
idols, the temples, and the consecrated trees of his extensive
diocese; and, in the execution of this arduous task, the prudent
reader will judge whether Martin was supported by the aid of
miraculous powers, or of carnal weapons. In Syria, the divine
and excellent Marcellus, ^31 as he is styled by Theodoret, a
bishop animated with apostolic fervor, resolved to level with the
ground the stately temples within the diocese of Apamea. His
attack was resisted by the skill and solidity with which the
temple of Jupiter had been constructed. The building was seated
on an eminence: on each of the four sides, the lofty roof was
supported by fifteen massy columns, sixteen feet in
circumference; and the large stone, of which they were composed,
were firmly cemented with lead and iron. The force of the
strongest and sharpest tools had been tried without effect. It
was found necessary to undermine the foundations of the columns,
which fell down as soon as the temporary wooden props had been
consumed with fire; and the difficulties of the enterprise are
described under the allegory of a black daemon, who retarded,
though he could not defeat, the operations of the Christian
engineers. Elated with victory, Marcellus took the field in
person against the powers of darkness; a numerous troop of
soldiers and gladiators marched under the episcopal banner, and
he successively attacked the villages and country temples of the
diocese of Apamea. Whenever any resistance or danger was
apprehended, the champion of the faith, whose lameness would not
allow him either to fight or fly, placed himself at a convenient
distance, beyond the reach of darts. But this prudence was the
occasion of his death: he was surprised and slain by a body of
exasperated rustics; and the synod of the province pronounced,
without hesitation, that the holy Marcellus had sacrificed his
life in the cause of God. In the support of this cause, the
monks, who rushed with tumultuous fury from the desert,
distinguished themselves by their zeal and diligence. They
deserved the enmity of the Pagans; and some of them might deserve
the reproaches of avarice and intemperance; of avarice, which
they gratified with holy plunder, and of intemperance, which they
indulged at the expense of the people, who foolishly admired
their tattered garments, loud psalmody, and artificial paleness.
^32 A small number of temples was protected by the fears, the
venality, the taste, or the prudence, of the civil and
ecclesiastical governors. The temple of the Celestial Venus at
Carthage, whose sacred precincts formed a circumference of two
miles, was judiciously converted into a Christian church; ^33 and
a similar consecration has preserved inviolate the majestic dome
of the Pantheon at Rome. ^34 But in almost every province of the
Roman world, an army of fanatics, without authority, and without
discipline, invaded the peaceful inhabitants; and the ruin of the
fairest structures of antiquity still displays the ravages of
those Barbarians, who alone had time and inclination to execute
such laborious destruction.

[Footnote 24: Libanius (Orat. pro Templis, p. 10, Genev. 1634,
published by James Godefroy, and now extremely scarce) accuses
Valentinian and Valens of prohibiting sacrifices. Some partial
order may have been issued by the Eastern emperor; but the idea
of any general law is contradicted by the silence of the Code,
and the evidence of ecclesiastical history.
Note: See in Reiske's edition of Libanius, tom. ii. p. 155.
Sacrific was prohibited by Valens, but not the offering of
incense. - M.]
[Footnote 25: See his laws in the Theodosian Code, l. xvi. tit.
x. leg. 7 - 11.]

[Footnote 26: Homer's sacrifices are not accompanied with any
inquisition of entrails, (see Feithius, Antiquitat. Homer. l. i.
c. 10, 16.) The Tuscans, who produced the first Haruspices,
subdued both the Greeks and the Romans, (Cicero de Divinatione,
ii. 23.)]

[Footnote 27: Zosimus, l. iv. p. 245, 249. Theodoret. l. v. c.
21. Idatius in Chron. Prosper. Aquitan. l. iii. c. 38, apud
Baronium, Annal. Eccles. A.D. 389, No. 52. Libanius (pro
Templis, p. 10) labors to prove that the commands of Theodosius
were not direct and positive.

Note: Libanius appears to be the best authority for the
East, where, under Theodosius, the work of devastation was
carried on with very different degrees of violence, according to
the temper of the local authorities and of the clergy; and more
especially the neighborhood of the more fanatican monks. Neander
well observes, that the prohibition of sacrifice would be easily
misinterpreted into an authority for the destruction of the
buildings in which sacrifices were performed. (Geschichte der
Christlichen religion ii. p. 156.) An abuse of this kind led to
this remarkable oration of Libanius. Neander, however, justly
doubts whether this bold vindication or at least exculpation, of
Paganism was ever delivered before, or even placed in the hands
of the Christian emperor. - M.]

[Footnote 28: Cod. Theodos, l. xvi. tit. x. leg. 8, 18. There is
room to believe, that this temple of Edessa, which Theodosius
wished to save for civil uses, was soon afterwards a heap of
ruins, (Libanius pro Templis, p. 26, 27, and Godefroy's notes, p.

[Footnote 29: See this curious oration of Libanius pro Templis,
pronounced, or rather composed, about the year 390. I have
consulted, with advantage, Dr. Lardner's version and remarks,
(Heathen Testimonies, vol. iv. p. 135 - 163.)]

[Footnote 30: See the Life of Martin by Sulpicius Severus, c. 9 -
14. The saint once mistook (as Don Quixote might have done) a
harmless funeral for an idolatrous procession, and imprudently
committed a miracle.]
[Footnote 31: Compare Sozomen, (l. vii. c. 15) with Theodoret,
(l. v. c. 21.) Between them, they relate the crusade and death of
[Footnote 32: Libanius, pro Templis, p. 10 - 13. He rails at
these black- garbed men, the Christian monks, who eat more than
elephants. Poor elephants! they are temperate animals.]

[Footnote 33: Prosper. Aquitan. l. iii. c. 38, apud Baronium;
Annal. Eccles. A.D. 389, No. 58, &c. The temple had been shut
some time, and the access to it was overgrown with brambles.]
[Footnote 34: Donatus, Roma Antiqua et Nova, l. iv. c. 4, p. 468.

This consecration was performed by Pope Boniface IV. I am
ignorant of the favorable circumstances which had preserved the
Pantheon above two hundred years after the reign of Theodosius.]
In this wide and various prospect of devastation, the
spectator may distinguish the ruins of the temple of Serapis, at
Alexandria. ^35 Serapis does not appear to have been one of the
native gods, or monsters, who sprung from the fruitful soil of
superstitious Egypt. ^36 The first of the Ptolemies had been
commanded, by a dream, to import the mysterious stranger from the
coast of Pontus, where he had been long adored by the inhabitants
of Sinope; but his attributes and his reign were so imperfectly
understood, that it became a subject of dispute, whether he
represented the bright orb of day, or the gloomy monarch of the
subterraneous regions. ^37 The Egyptians, who were obstinately
devoted to the religion of their fathers, refused to admit this
foreign deity within the walls of their cities. ^38 But the
obsequious priests, who were seduced by the liberality of the
Ptolemies, submitted, without resistance, to the power of the god
of Pontus: an honorable and domestic genealogy was provided; and
this fortunate usurper was introduced into the throne and bed of
Osiris, ^39 the husband of Isis, and the celestial monarch of
Egypt. Alexandria, which claimed his peculiar protection,
gloried in the name of the city of Serapis. His temple, ^40
which rivalled the pride and magnificence of the Capitol, was
erected on the spacious summit of an artificial mount, raised one
hundred steps above the level of the adjacent parts of the city;
and the interior cavity was strongly supported by arches, and
distributed into vaults and subterraneous apartments. The
consecrated buildings were surrounded by a quadrangular portico;
the stately halls, and exquisite statues, displayed the triumph
of the arts; and the treasures of ancient learning were preserved
in the famous Alexandrian library, which had arisen with new
splendor from its ashes. ^41 After the edicts of Theodosius had
severely prohibited the sacrifices of the Pagans, they were still
tolerated in the city and temple of Serapis; and this singular
indulgence was imprudently ascribed to the superstitious terrors
of the Christians themselves; as if they had feared to abolish
those ancient rites, which could alone secure the inundations of
the Nile, the harvests of Egypt, and the subsistence of
Constantinople. ^42

[Footnote 35: Sophronius composed a recent and separate history,
(Jerom, in Script. Eccles. tom. i. p. 303,) which has furnished
materials to Socrates, (l. v. c. 16.) Theodoret, (l. v. c. 22,)
and Rufinus, (l. ii. c. 22.) Yet the last, who had been at
Alexandria before and after the event, may deserve the credit of
an original witness.]

[Footnote 36: Gerard Vossius (Opera, tom. v. p. 80, and de
Idoloaltria, l. i. c. 29) strives to support the strange notion
of the Fathers; that the patriarch Joseph was adored in Egypt, as
the bull Apis, and the god Serapis.

Note: Consult du Dieu Serapis et son Origine, par J D.
Guigniaut, (the translator of Creuzer's Symbolique,) Paris, 1828;
and in the fifth volume of Bournouf's translation of Tacitus. -

[Footnote 37: Origo dei nondum nostris celebrata. Aegyptiorum
antistites sic memorant, &c., Tacit. Hist. iv. 83. The Greeks,
who had travelled into Egypt, were alike ignorant of this new

[Footnote 38: Macrobius, Saturnal, l. i. c. 7. Such a living
fact decisively proves his foreign extraction.]

[Footnote 39: At Rome, Isis and Serapis were united in the same
temple. The precedency which the queen assumed, may seem to
betray her unequal alliance with the stranger of Pontus. But the
superiority of the female sex was established in Egypt as a civil
and religious institution, (Diodor. Sicul. tom. i. l. i. p. 31,
edit. Wesseling,) and the same order is observed in Plutarch's
Treatise of Isis and Osiris; whom he identifies with Serapis.]
[Footnote 40: Ammianus, (xxii. 16.) The Expositio totius Mundi,
(p. 8, in Hudson's Geograph. Minor. tom. iii.,) and Rufinus, (l.
ii. c. 22,) celebrate the Serapeum, as one of the wonders of the
[Footnote 41: See Memoires de l'Acad. des Inscriptions, tom. ix.
p. 397 - 416. The old library of the Ptolemies was totally
consumed in Caesar's Alexandrian war. Marc Antony gave the whole
collection of Pergamus (200,000 volumes) to Cleopatra, as the
foundation of the new library of Alexandria.]

[Footnote 42: Libanius (pro Templis, p. 21) indiscreetly provokes
his Christian masters by this insulting remark.]

At that time ^43 the archiepiscopal throne of Alexandria was
filled by Theophilus, ^44 the perpetual enemy of peace and
virtue; a bold, bad man, whose hands were alternately polluted
with gold and with blood. His pious indignation was excited by
the honors of Serapis; and the insults which he offered to an
ancient temple of Bacchus, ^* convinced the Pagans that he
meditated a more important and dangerous enterprise. In the
tumultuous capital of Egypt, the slightest provocation was
sufficient to inflame a civil war. The votaries of Serapis,
whose strength and numbers were much inferior to those of their
antagonists, rose in arms at the instigation of the philosopher
Olympius, ^45 who exhorted them to die in the defence of the
altars of the gods. These Pagan fanatics fortified themselves in
the temple, or rather fortress, of Serapis; repelled the
besiegers by daring sallies, and a resolute defence; and, by the
inhuman cruelties which they exercised on their Christian
prisoners, obtained the last consolation of despair. The efforts
of the prudent magistrate were usefully exerted for the
establishment of a truce, till the answer of Theodosius should
determine the fate of Serapis. The two parties assembled,
without arms, in the principal square; and the Imperial rescript
was publicly read. But when a sentence of destruction against
the idols of Alexandria was pronounced, the Christians set up a
shout of joy and exultation, whilst the unfortunate Pagans, whose
fury had given way to consternation, retired with hasty and
silent steps, and eluded, by their flight or obscurity, the
resentment of their enemies. Theophilus proceeded to demolish
the temple of Serapis, without any other difficulties, than those
which he found in the weight and solidity of the materials: but
these obstacles proved so insuperable, that he was obliged to
leave the foundations; and to content himself with reducing the
edifice itself to a heap of rubbish, a part of which was soon
afterwards cleared away, to make room for a church, erected in
honor of the Christian martyrs. The valuable library of
Alexandria was pillaged or destroyed; and near twenty years
afterwards, the appearance of the empty shelves excited the
regret and indignation of every spectator, whose mind was not
totally darkened by religious prejudice. ^46 The compositions of
ancient genius, so many of which have irretrievably perished,
might surely have been excepted from the wreck of idolatry, for
the amusement and instruction of succeeding ages; and either the
zeal or the avarice of the archbishop, ^47 might have been
satiated with the rich spoils, which were the reward of his
victory. While the images and vases of gold and silver were
carefully melted, and those of a less valuable metal were
contemptuously broken, and cast into the streets, Theophilus
labored to expose the frauds and vices of the ministers of the
idols; their dexterity in the management of the loadstone; their
secret methods of introducing a human actor into a hollow statue;
^* and their scandalous abuse of the confidence of devout
husbands and unsuspecting females. ^48 Charges like these may
seem to deserve some degree of credit, as they are not repugnant
to the crafty and interested spirit of superstition. But the
same spirit is equally prone to the base practice of insulting
and calumniating a fallen enemy; and our belief is naturally
checked by the reflection, that it is much less difficult to
invent a fictitious story, than to support a practical fraud.
The colossal statue of Serapis ^49 was involved in the ruin of
his temple and religion. A great number of plates of different
metals, artificially joined together, composed the majestic
figure of the deity, who touched on either side the walls of the
sanctuary. The aspect of Serapis, his sitting posture, and the
sceptre, which he bore in his left hand, were extremely similar
to the ordinary representations of Jupiter. He was distinguished
from Jupiter by the basket, or bushel, which was placed on his
head; and by the emblematic monster which he held in his right
hand; the head and body of a serpent branching into three tails,
which were again terminated by the triple heads of a dog, a lion,
and a wolf. It was confidently affirmed, that if any impious
hand should dare to violate the majesty of the god, the heavens
and the earth would instantly return to their original chaos. An
intrepid soldier, animated by zeal, and armed with a weighty
battle-axe, ascended the ladder; and even the Christian multitude
expected, with some anxiety, the event of the combat. ^50 He
aimed a vigorous stroke against the cheek of Serapis; the cheek
fell to the ground; the thunder was still silent, and both the
heavens and the earth continued to preserve their accustomed
order and tranquillity. The victorious soldier repeated his
blows: the huge idol was overthrown, and broken in pieces; and
the limbs of Serapis were ignominiously dragged through the
streets of Alexandria. His mangled carcass was burnt in the
Amphitheatre, amidst the shouts of the populace; and many persons
attributed their conversion to this discovery of the impotence of
their tutelar deity. The popular modes of religion, that propose
any visible and material objects of worship, have the advantage
of adapting and familiarizing themselves to the senses of
mankind: but this advantage is counterbalanced by the various and
inevitable accidents to which the faith of the idolater is
exposed. It is scarcely possible, that, in every disposition of
mind, he should preserve his implicit reverence for the idols, or
the relics, which the naked eye, and the profane hand, are unable
to distinguish from the most common productions of art or nature;
and if, in the hour of danger, their secret and miraculous virtue
does not operate for their own preservation, he scorns the vain
apologies of his priests, and justly derides the object, and the
folly, of his superstitious attachment. ^51 After the fall of
Serapis, some hopes were still entertained by the Pagans, that
the Nile would refuse his annual supply to the impious masters of
Egypt; and the extraordinary delay of the inundation seemed to
announce the displeasure of the river-god. But this delay was
soon compensated by the rapid swell of the waters. They suddenly
rose to such an unusual height, as to comfort the discontented
party with the pleasing expectation of a deluge; till the
peaceful river again subsided to the well-known and fertilizing
level of sixteen cubits, or about thirty English feet. ^52
[Footnote 43: We may choose between the date of Marcellinus (A.D.
389) or that of Prosper, ( A.D. 391.) Tillemont (Hist. des Emp.
tom. v. p. 310, 756) prefers the former, and Pagi the latter.]
[Footnote 44: Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. tom. xi. p. 441 - 500. The
ambiguous situation of Theophilus - a saint, as the friend of
Jerom a devil, as the enemy of Chrysostom - produces a sort of
impartiality; yet, upon the whole, the balance is justly inclined
against him.]

[Footnote *: No doubt a temple of Osiris. St. Martin, iv 398 -
[Footnote 45: Lardner (Heathen Testimonies, vol. iv. p. 411) has
alleged beautiful passage from Suidas, or rather from Damascius,
which show the devout and virtuous Olympius, not in the light of
a warrior, but of a prophet.]

[Footnote 46: Nos vidimus armaria librorum, quibus direptis,
exinanita ea a nostris hominibus, nostris temporibus memorant.
Orosius, l. vi. c. 15, p. 421, edit. Havercamp. Though a bigot,
and a controversial writer. Orosius seems to blush.]

[Footnote 47: Eunapius, in the Lives of Antoninus and Aedesius,
execrates the sacrilegious rapine of Theophilus. Tillemont (Mem.
Eccles. tom. xiii. p. 453) quotes an epistle of Isidore of
Pelusium, which reproaches the primate with the idolatrous
worship of gold, the auri sacra fames.]
[Footnote *: An English traveller, Mr. Wilkinson, has discovered
the secret of the vocal Memnon. There was a cavity in which a
person was concealed, and struck a stone, which gave a ringing
sound like brass. The Arabs, who stood below when Mr. Wilkinson
performed the miracle, described sound just as the author of the
epigram. - M.]

[Footnote 48: Rufinus names the priest of Saturn, who, in the
character of the god, familiarly conversed with many pious ladies
of quality, till he betrayed himself, in a moment of transport,
when he could not disguise the tone of his voice. The authentic
and impartial narrative of Aeschines, (see Bayle, Dictionnaire
Critique, Scamandre,) and the adventure of Mudus, (Joseph.
Antiquitat. Judaic. l. xviii. c. 3, p. 877 edit. Havercamp,) may
prove that such amorous frauds have been practised with success.]

[Footnote 49: See the images of Serapis, in Montfaucon, (tom. ii.
p. 297:) but the description of Macrobius (Saturnal. l. i. c. 20)
is much more picturesque and satisfactory.]

[Footnote 50: Sed fortes tremuere manus, motique verenda
Majestate loci, si robora sacra ferirent
In sua credebant redituras membra secures.

(Lucan. iii. 429.) "Is it true," (said Augustus to a veteran of
Italy, at whose house he supped) "that the man who gave the first
blow to the golden statue of Anaitis, was instantly deprived of
his eyes, and of his life?" - "I was that man, (replied the
clear-sighted veteran,) and you now sup on one of the legs of the
goddess." (Plin. Hist. Natur. xxxiii. 24)]
[Footnote 51: The history of the reformation affords frequent
examples of the sudden change from superstition to contempt.]
[Footnote 52: Sozomen, l. vii. c. 20. I have supplied the
measure. The same standard, of the inundation, and consequently
of the cubit, has uniformly subsisted since the time of
Herodotus. See Freret, in the Mem. de l'Academie des
Inscriptions, tom. xvi. p. 344 - 353. Greaves's Miscellaneous
Works, vol. i. p. 233. The Egyptian cubit is about twenty- two
inches of the English measure.

Note: Compare Wilkinson's Thebes and Egypt, p. 313. - M.]

The temples of the Roman empire were deserted, or destroyed;
but the ingenious superstition of the Pagans still attempted to
elude the laws of Theodosius, by which all sacrifices had been
severely prohibited. The inhabitants of the country, whose
conduct was less opposed to the eye of malicious curiosity,
disguised their religious, under the appearance of convivial,
meetings. On the days of solemn festivals, they assembled in
great numbers under the spreading shade of some consecrated
trees; sheep and oxen were slaughtered and roasted; and this
rural entertainment was sanctified by the use of incense, and by
the hymns which were sung in honor of the gods. But it was
alleged, that, as no part of the animal was made a
burnt-offering, as no altar was provided to receive the blood,
and as the previous oblation of salt cakes, and the concluding
ceremony of libations, were carefully omitted, these festal
meetings did not involve the guests in the guilt, or penalty, of
an illegal sacrifice. ^53 Whatever might be the truth of the
facts, or the merit of the distinction, ^54 these vain pretences
were swept away by the last edict of Theodosius, which inflicted
a deadly wound on the superstition of the Pagans. ^55 ^* This
prohibitory law is expressed in the most absolute and
comprehensive terms. "It is our will and pleasure," says the
emperor, "that none of our subjects, whether magistrates or
private citizens, however exalted or however humble may be their
rank and condition, shall presume, in any city or in any place,
to worship an inanimate idol, by the sacrifice of a guiltless
victim." The act of sacrificing, and the practice of divination
by the entrails of the victim, are declared (without any regard
to the object of the inquiry) a crime of high treason against the
state, which can be expiated only by the death of the guilty.
The rites of Pagan superstition, which might seem less bloody and
atrocious, are abolished, as highly injurious to the truth and
honor of religion; luminaries, garlands, frankincense, and
libations of wine, are specially enumerated and condemned; and
the harmless claims of the domestic genius, of the household
gods, are included in this rigorous proscription. The use of any
of these profane and illegal ceremonies, subjects the offender to
the forfeiture of the house or estate, where they have been
performed; and if he has artfully chosen the property of another
for the scene of his impiety, he is compelled to discharge,
without delay, a heavy fine of twenty-five pounds of gold, or
more than one thousand pounds sterling. A fine, not less
considerable, is imposed on the connivance of the secret enemies
of religion, who shall neglect the duty of their respective
stations, either to reveal, or to punish, the guilt of idolatry.
Such was the persecuting spirit of the laws of Theodosius, which
were repeatedly enforced by his sons and grandsons, with the loud
and unanimous applause of the Christian world. ^56

[Footnote 53: Libanius (pro Templis, p. 15, 16, 17) pleads their
cause with gentle and insinuating rhetoric. From the earliest
age, such feasts had enlivened the country: and those of Bacchus
(Georgic. ii. 380) had produced the theatre of Athens. See
Godefroy, ad loc. Liban. and Codex Theodos. tom. vi. p. 284.]
[Footnote 54: Honorius tolerated these rustic festivals, (A.D.
399.) "Absque ullo sacrificio, atque ulla superstitione
damnabili." But nine years afterwards he found it necessary to
reiterate and enforce the same proviso, (Codex Theodos. l. xvi.
tit. x. leg. 17, 19.)]

[Footnote 55: Cod. Theodos. l. xvi. tit. x. leg. 12. Jortin
(Remarks on Eccles. History, vol. iv. p. 134) censures, with
becoming asperity, the style and sentiments of this intolerant

[Footnote *: Paganism maintained its ground for a considerable
time in the rural districts. Endelechius, a poet who lived at
the beginning of the fifth century, speaks of the cross as
Signum quod perhibent esse crucis Dei,
Magnis qui colitur solus inurbibus.

In the middle of the same century, Maximus, bishop of Turin,
writes against the heathen deities as if their worship was still
in full vigor in the neighborhood of his city. Augustine
complains of the encouragement of the Pagan rites by heathen
landowners; and Zeno of Verona, still later, reproves the apathy
of the Christian proprietors in conniving at this abuse.
(Compare Neander, ii. p. 169.) M. Beugnot shows that this was the
case throughout the north and centre of Italy and in Sicily. But
neither of these authors has adverted to one fact, which must
have tended greatly to retard the progress of Christianity in
these quarters. It was still chiefly a slave population which
cultivated the soil; and however, in the towns, the better class
of Christians might be eager to communicate "the blessed liberty
of the gospel" to this class of mankind; however their condition
could not but be silently ameliorated by the humanizing influence
of Christianity; yet, on the whole, no doubt the servile class
would be the least fitted to receive the gospel; and its general
propagation among them would be embarrassed by many peculiar
difficulties. The rural population was probably not entirely
converted before the general establishment of the monastic
institutions. Compare Quarterly Review of Beugnot. vol lvii. p.
52 - M.]

[Footnote 56: Such a charge should not be lightly made; but it
may surely be justified by the authority of St. Augustin, who
thus addresses the Donatists: "Quis nostrum, quis vestrum non
laudat leges ab Imperatoribus datas adversus sacrificia
Paganorum? Et certe longe ibi poera severior constituta est;
illius quippe impietatis capitale supplicium est." Epist. xciii.
No. 10, quoted by Le Clerc, (Bibliotheque Choisie, tom. viii. p.
277,) who adds some judicious reflections on the intolerance of
the victorious Christians.
Note: Yet Augustine, with laudable inconsistency,
disapproved of the forcible demolition of the temples. "Let us
first extirpate the idolatry of the hearts of the heathen, and
they will either themselves invite us or anticipate us in the
execution of this good work," tom. v. p. 62. Compare Neander,
ii. 169, and, in p. 155, a beautiful passage from Chrysostom
against all violent means of propagating Christianity. - M.]
Chapter XXVIII: Destruction Of Paganism.

Part III.

In the cruel reigns of Decius and Dioclesian, Christianity
had been proscribed, as a revolt from the ancient and hereditary
religion of the empire; and the unjust suspicions which were
entertained of a dark and dangerous faction, were, in some
measure, countenanced by the inseparable union and rapid
conquests of the Catholic church. But the same excuses of fear
and ignorance cannot be applied to the Christian emperors who
violated the precepts of humanity and of the Gospel. The
experience of ages had betrayed the weakness, as well as folly,
of Paganism; the light of reason and of faith had already
exposed, to the greatest part of mankind, the vanity of idols;
and the declining sect, which still adhered to their worship,
might have been permitted to enjoy, in peace and obscurity, the
religious costumes of their ancestors. Had the Pagans been
animated by the undaunted zeal which possessed the minds of the
primitive believers, the triumph of the Church must have been
stained with blood; and the martyrs of Jupiter and Apollo might
have embraced the glorious opportunity of devoting their lives
and fortunes at the foot of their altars. But such obstinate
zeal was not congenial to the loose and careless temper of
Polytheism. The violent and repeated strokes of the orthodox
princes were broken by the soft and yielding substance against
which they were directed; and the ready obedience of the Pagans
protected them from the pains and penalties of the Theodosian
Code. ^57 Instead of asserting, that the authority of the gods
was superior to that of the emperor, they desisted, with a
plaintive murmur, from the use of those sacred rites which their
sovereign had condemned. If they were sometimes tempted by a
sally of passion, or by the hopes of concealment, to indulge
their favorite superstition, their humble repentance disarmed the
severity of the Christian magistrate, and they seldom refused to
atone for their rashness, by submitting, with some secret
reluctance, to the yoke of the Gospel. The churches were filled
with the increasing multitude of these unworthy proselytes, who
had conformed, from temporal motives, to the reigning religion;
and whilst they devoutly imitated the postures, and recited the
prayers, of the faithful, they satisfied their conscience by the
silent and sincere invocation of the gods of antiquity. ^58 If
the Pagans wanted patience to suffer they wanted spirit to
resist; and the scattered myriads, who deplored the ruin of the
temples, yielded, without a contest, to the fortune of their
adversaries. The disorderly opposition ^59 of the peasants of
Syria, and the populace of Alexandria, to the rage of private
fanaticism, was silenced by the name and authority of the
emperor. The Pagans of the West, without contributing to the
elevation of Eugenius, disgraced, by their partial attachment,
the cause and character of the usurper. The clergy vehemently
exclaimed, that he aggravated the crime of rebellion by the guilt
of apostasy; that, by his permission, the altar of victory was
again restored; and that the idolatrous symbols of Jupiter and
Hercules were displayed in the field, against the invincible
standard of the cross. But the vain hopes of the Pagans were
soon annihilated by the defeat of Eugenius; and they were left
exposed to the resentment of the conqueror, who labored to
deserve the favor of Heaven by the extirpation of idolatry. ^60
[Footnote 57: Orosius, l. vii. c. 28, p. 537. Augustin (Enarrat.
in Psalm cxl apud Lardner, Heathen Testimonies, vol. iv. p. 458)
insults their cowardice. "Quis eorum comprehensus est in
sacrificio (cum his legibus sta prohiberentur) et non negavit?"]
[Footnote 58: Libanius (pro Templis, p. 17, 18) mentions, without
censure the occasional conformity, and as it were theatrical
play, of these hypocrites.]

[Footnote 59: Libanius concludes his apology (p. 32) by declaring
to the emperor, that unless he expressly warrants the destruction
of the temples, the proprietors will defend themselves and the

[Footnote 60: Paulinus, in Vit. Ambros. c. 26. Augustin de
Civitat. Dei, l. v. c. 26. Theodoret, l. v. c. 24.]

A nation of slaves is always prepared to applaud the
clemency of their master, who, in the abuse of absolute power,
does not proceed to the last extremes of injustice and
oppression. Theodosius might undoubtedly have proposed to his
Pagan subjects the alternative of baptism or of death; and the
eloquent Libanius has praised the moderation of a prince, who
never enacted, by any positive law, that all his subjects should
immediately embrace and practise the religion of their sovereign.
^61 The profession of Christianity was not made an essential
qualification for the enjoyment of the civil rights of society,
nor were any peculiar hardships imposed on the sectaries, who
credulously received the fables of Ovid, and obstinately rejected
the miracles of the Gospel. The palace, the schools, the army,
and the senate, were filled with declared and devout Pagans; they
obtained, without distinction, the civil and military honors of
the empire. ^* Theodosius distinguished his liberal regard for
virtue and genius by the consular dignity, which he bestowed on
Symmachus; ^62 and by the personal friendship which he expressed
to Libanius; ^63 and the two eloquent apologists of Paganism were
never required either to change or to dissemble their religious
opinions. The Pagans were indulged in the most licentious
freedom of speech and writing; the historical and philosophic
remains of Eunapius, Zosimus, ^64 and the fanatic teachers of the
school of Plato, betray the most furious animosity, and contain
the sharpest invectives, against the sentiments and conduct of
their victorious adversaries. If these audacious libels were
publicly known, we must applaud the good sense of the Christian
princes, who viewed, with a smile of contempt, the last struggles
of superstition and despair. ^65 But the Imperial laws, which
prohibited the sacrifices and ceremonies of Paganism, were
rigidly executed; and every hour contributed to destroy the
influence of a religion, which was supported by custom, rather
than by argument. The devotion or the poet, or the philosopher,
may be secretly nourished by prayer, meditation, and study; but
the exercise of public worship appears to be the only solid
foundation of the religious sentiments of the people, which
derive their force from imitation and habit. The interruption of
that public exercise may consummate, in the period of a few
years, the important work of a national revolution. The memory
of theological opinions cannot long be preserved, without the
artificial helps of priests, of temples, and of books. ^66 The
ignorant vulgar, whose minds are still agitated by the blind
hopes and terrors of superstition, will be soon persuaded by
their superiors to direct their vows to the reigning deities of
the age; and will insensibly imbibe an ardent zeal for the
support and propagation of the new doctrine, which spiritual
hunger at first compelled them to accept. The generation that
arose in the world after the promulgation of the Imperial laws,
was attracted within the pale of the Catholic church: and so
rapid, yet so gentle, was the fall of Paganism, that only
twenty-eight years after the death of Theodosius, the faint and
minute vestiges were no longer visible to the eye of the
legislator. ^67
[Footnote 61: Libanius suggests the form of a persecuting edict,
which Theodosius might enact, (pro Templis, p. 32;) a rash joke,
and a dangerous experiment. Some princes would have taken his

[Footnote *: The most remarkable instance of this, at a much
later period, occurs in the person of Merobaudes, a general and a
poet, who flourished in the first half of the fifth century. A
statue in honor of Merobaudes was placed in the Forum of Trajan,
of which the inscription is still extant. Fragments of his poems
have been recovered by the industry and sagacity of Niebuhr. In
one passage, Merobaudes, in the genuine heathen spirit,
attributes the ruin of the empire to the abolition of Paganism,
and almost renews the old accusation of Atheism against
Christianity. He impersonates some deity, probably Discord, who
summons Bellona to take arms for the destruction of Rome; and in
a strain of fierce irony recommends to her other fatal measures,
to extirpate the gods of Rome: -

Roma, ipsique tremant furialia murmura reges.
Jam superos terris atque hospita numina pelle:
Romanos populare Deos, et nullus in aris
Vestoe exoratoe fotus strue palleat ignis.
Ilis instructa dolis palatia celsa subibo;
Majorum mores, et pectora prisca fugabo
Funditus; atque simul, nullo discrimine rerum,
Spernantur fortes, nec sic reverentia justis.
Attica neglecto pereat facundia Phoebo:
Indignis contingat honos, et pondera rerum;
Non virtus sed casus agat; tristique cupido;
Pectoribus saevi demens furor aestuet aevi;
Omniaque hoec sine mente Jovis, sine numine sumimo.

Merobaudes in Niebuhr's edit. of the Byzantines, p. 14. - M.]
[Footnote 62: Denique pro meritis terrestribus aequa rependens

Munera, sacricolis summos impertit honores.

Dux bonus, et certare sinit cum laude suorum,
Nec pago implicitos per debita culmina mundi Ire
viros prohibet.
Ipse magistratum tibi consulis, ipse tribunal


Prudent. in Symmach. i. 617, &c.

Note: I have inserted some lines omitted by Gibbon. - M.]
[Footnote 63: Libanius (pro Templis, p. 32) is proud that
Theodosius should thus distinguish a man, who even in his
presence would swear by Jupiter. Yet this presence seems to be no
more than a figure of rhetoric.]
[Footnote 64: Zosimus, who styles himself Count and Ex-advocate
of the Treasury, reviles, with partial and indecent bigotry, the
Christian princes, and even the father of his sovereign. His
work must have been privately circulated, since it escaped the
invectives of the ecclesiastical historians prior to Evagrius,
(l. iii. c. 40 - 42,) who lived towards the end of the sixth

Note: Heyne in his Disquisitio in Zosimum Ejusque Fidem.
places Zosimum towards the close of the fifth century. Zosim.
Heynii, p. xvii. - M.]
[Footnote 65: Yet the Pagans of Africa complained, that the times
would not allow them to answer with freedom the City of God; nor
does St. Augustin (v. 26) deny the charge.]

[Footnote 66: The Moors of Spain, who secretly preserved the
Mahometan religion above a century, under the tyranny of the
Inquisition, possessed the Koran, with the peculiar use of the
Arabic tongue. See the curious and honest story of their
expulsion in Geddes, (Miscellanies, vol. i. p. 1 - 198.)]

[Footnote 67: Paganos qui supersunt, quanquam jam nullos esse
credamus, &c. Cod. Theodos. l. xvi. tit. x. leg. 22, A.D. 423.
The younger Theodosius was afterwards satisfied, that his
judgment had been somewhat premature.
Note: The statement of Gibbon is much too strongly worded.
M. Beugnot has traced the vestiges of Paganism in the West, after
this period, in monuments and inscriptions with curious industry.

Compare likewise note, p. 112, on the more tardy progress of
Christianity in the rural districts. - M.]
The ruin of the Pagan religion is described by the sophists
as a dreadful and amazing prodigy, which covered the earth with
darkness, and restored the ancient dominion of chaos and of
night. They relate, in solemn and pathetic strains, that the
temples were converted into sepulchres, and that the holy places,
which had been adorned by the statues of the gods, were basely
polluted by the relics of Christian martyrs. "The monks" (a race
of filthy animals, to whom Eunapius is tempted to refuse the name
of men) "are the authors of the new worship, which, in the place
of those deities who are conceived by the understanding, has
substituted the meanest and most contemptible slaves. The heads,
salted and pickled, of those infamous malefactors, who for the
multitude of their crimes have suffered a just and ignominious
death; their bodies still marked by the impression of the lash,
and the scars of those tortures which were inflicted by the
sentence of the magistrate; such" (continues Eunapius) 'are the
gods which the earth produces in our days; such are the martyrs,
the supreme arbitrators of our prayers and petitions to the
Deity, whose tombs are now consecrated as the objects of the
veneration of the people." ^68 Without approving the malice, it
is natural enough to share the surprise of the sophist, the
spectator of a revolution, which raised those obscure victims of
the laws of Rome to the rank of celestial and invisible
protectors of the Roman empire. The grateful respect of the
Christians for the martyrs of the faith, was exalted, by time and
victory, into religious adoration; and the most illustrious of
the saints and prophets were deservedly associated to the honors
of the martyrs. One hundred and fifty years after the glorious
deaths of St. Peter and St. Paul, the Vatican and the Ostian road
were distinguished by the tombs, or rather by the trophies, of
those spiritual heroes. ^69 In the age which followed the
conversion of Constantine, the emperors, the consuls, and the
generals of armies, devoutly visited the sepulchres of a
tentmaker and a fisherman; ^70 and their venerable bones were
deposited under the altars of Christ, on which the bishops of the
royal city continually offered the unbloody sacrifice. ^71 The
new capital of the Eastern world, unable to produce any ancient
and domestic trophies, was enriched by the spoils of dependent
provinces. The bodies of St. Andrew, St. Luke, and St. Timothy,
had reposed near three hundred years in the obscure graves, from
whence they were transported, in solemn pomp, to the church of
the apostles, which the magnificence of Constantine had founded
on the banks of the Thracian Bosphorus. ^72 About fifty years
afterwards, the same banks were honored by the presence of
Samuel, the judge and prophet of the people of Israel. His
ashes, deposited in a golden vase, and covered with a silken
veil, were delivered by the bishops into each other's hands. The
relics of Samuel were received by the people with the same joy
and reverence which they would have shown to the living prophet;
the highways, from Palestine to the gates of Constantinople, were
filled with an uninterrupted procession; and the emperor Arcadius
himself, at the head of the most illustrious members of the
clergy and senate, advanced to meet his extraordinary guest, who
had always deserved and claimed the homage of kings. ^73 The
example of Rome and Constantinople confirmed the faith and
discipline of the Catholic world. The honors of the saints and
martyrs, after a feeble and ineffectual murmur of profane reason,
^74 were universally established; and in the age of Ambrose and
Jerom, something was still deemed wanting to the sanctity of a
Christian church, till it had been consecrated by some portion of
holy relics, which fixed and inflamed the devotion of the

[Footnote 68: See Eunapius, in the Life of the sophist Aedesius;
in that of Eustathius he foretells the ruin of Paganism.]

[Footnote 69: Caius, (apud Euseb. Hist. Eccles. l. ii. c. 25,) a
Roman presbyter, who lived in the time of Zephyrinus, (A.D. 202 -
219,) is an early witness of this superstitious practice.]
[Footnote 70: Chrysostom. Quod Christus sit Deus. Tom. i. nov.
edit. No. 9. I am indebted for this quotation to Benedict the
XIVth's pastoral letter on the Jubilee of the year 1759. See the
curious and entertaining letters of M. Chais, tom. iii.]

[Footnote 71: Male facit ergo Romanus episcopus? qui, super
mortuorum hominum, Petri & Pauli, secundum nos, ossa veneranda
... offeri Domino sacrificia, et tumulos eorum, Christi
arbitratur altaria. Jerom. tom. ii. advers. Vigilant. p. 183.]
[Footnote 72: Jerom (tom. ii. p. 122) bears witness to these
translations, which are neglected by the ecclesiastical
historians. The passion of St. Andrew at Patrae is described in
an epistle from the clergy of Achaia, which Baronius (Annal.
Eccles. A.D. 60, No. 34) wishes to believe, and Tillemont is
forced to reject. St. Andrew was adopted as the spiritual
founder of Constantinople, (Mem. Eccles. tom. i. p. 317 - 323,
588 - 594.)]
[Footnote 73: Jerom (tom. ii. p. 122) pompously describes the
translation of Samuel, which is noticed in all the chronicles of
the times.]
[Footnote 74: The presbyter Vigilantius, the Protestant of his
age, firmly, though ineffectually, withstood the superstition of
monks, relics, saints, fasts, &c., for which Jerom compares him
to the Hydra, Cerberus, the Centaurs, &c., and considers him only
as the organ of the Daemon, (tom. ii. p. 120 - 126.) Whoever will
peruse the controversy of St. Jerom and Vigilantius, and St.
Augustin's account of the miracles of St. Stephen, may speedily
gain some idea of the spirit of the Fathers.]

In the long period of twelve hundred years, which elapsed
between the reign of Constantine and the reformation of Luther,
the worship of saints and relics corrupted the pure and perfect
simplicity of the Christian model: and some symptoms of
degeneracy may be observed even in the first generations which
adopted and cherished this pernicious innovation.

I. The satisfactory experience, that the relics of saints
were more valuable than gold or precious stones, ^75 stimulated
the clergy to multiply the treasures of the church. Without much
regard for truth or probability, they invented names for
skeletons, and actions for names. The fame of the apostles, and
of the holy men who had imitated their virtues, was darkened by
religious fiction. To the invincible band of genuine and
primitive martyrs, they added myriads of imaginary heroes, who
had never existed, except in the fancy of crafty or credulous
legendaries; and there is reason to suspect, that Tours might not
be the only diocese in which the bones of a malefactor were
adored, instead of those of a saint. ^76 A superstitious
practice, which tended to increase the temptations of fraud, and
credulity, insensibly extinguished the light of history, and of
reason, in the Christian world.
[Footnote 75: M. de Beausobre (Hist. du Manicheisme, tom. ii. p.
648) has applied a worldly sense to the pious observation of the
clergy of Smyrna, who carefully preserved the relics of St.
Polycarp the martyr.]
[Footnote 76: Martin of Tours (see his Life, c. 8, by Sulpicius
Severus) extorted this confession from the mouth of the dead man.

The error is allowed to be natural; the discovery is supposed to
be miraculous. Which of the two was likely to happen most

II. But the progress of superstition would have been much
less rapid and victorious, if the faith of the people had not
been assisted by the seasonable aid of visions and miracles, to
ascertain the authenticity and virtue of the most suspicious
relics. In the reign of the younger Theodosius, Lucian, ^77 a
presbyter of Jerusalem, and the ecclesiastical minister of the
village of Caphargamala, about twenty miles from the city,
related a very singular dream, which, to remove his doubts, had
been repeated on three successive Saturdays. A venerable figure
stood before him, in the silence of the night, with a long beard,
a white robe, and a gold rod; announced himself by the name of
Gamaliel, and revealed to the astonished presbyter, that his own
corpse, with the bodies of his son Abibas, his friend Nicodemus,
and the illustrious Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian
faith, were secretly buried in the adjacent field. He added,
with some impatience, that it was time to release himself and his
companions from their obscure prison; that their appearance would
be salutary to a distressed world; and that they had made choice
of Lucian to inform the bishop of Jerusalem of their situation
and their wishes. The doubts and difficulties which still
retarded this important discovery were successively removed by
new visions; and the ground was opened by the bishop, in the
presence of an innumerable multitude. The coffins of Gamaliel,
of his son, and of his friend, were found in regular order; but
when the fourth coffin, which contained the remains of Stephen,
was shown to the light, the earth trembled, and an odor, such as
that of paradise, was smelt, which instantly cured the various
diseases of seventy-three of the assistants. The companions of
Stephen were left in their peaceful residence of Caphargamala:
but the relics of the first martyr were transported, in solemn
procession, to a church constructed in their honor on Mount Sion;
and the minute particles of those relics, a drop of blood, ^78 or
the scrapings of a bone, were acknowledged, in almost every
province of the Roman world, to possess a divine and miraculous
virtue. The grave and learned Augustin, ^79 whose understanding
scarcely admits the excuse of credulity, has attested the
innumerable prodigies which were performed in Africa by the
relics of St. Stephen; and this marvellous narrative is inserted
in the elaborate work of the City of God, which the bishop of
Hippo designed as a solid and immortal proof of the truth of


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