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

Part 3 out of 14

Christianity. Augustin solemnly declares, that he has selected
those miracles only which were publicly certified by the persons
who were either the objects, or the spectators, of the power of
the martyr. Many prodigies were omitted, or forgotten; and Hippo
had been less favorably treated than the other cities of the
province. And yet the bishop enumerates above seventy miracles,
of which three were resurrections from the dead, in the space of
two years, and within the limits of his own diocese. ^80 If we
enlarge our view to all the dioceses, and all the saints, of the
Christian world, it will not be easy to calculate the fables, and
the errors, which issued from this inexhaustible source. But we
may surely be allowed to observe, that a miracle, in that age of
superstition and credulity, lost its name and its merit, since it
could scarcely be considered as a deviation from the ordinary and
established laws of nature.

[Footnote 77: Lucian composed in Greek his original narrative,
which has been translated by Avitus, and published by Baronius,
(Annal. Eccles. A.D. 415, No. 7 - 16.) The Benedictine editors of
St. Augustin have given (at the end of the work de Civitate Dei)
two several copies, with many various readings. It is the
character of falsehood to be loose and inconsistent. The most
incredible parts of the legend are smoothed and softened by
Tillemont, (Mem. Eccles. tom. ii. p. 9, &c.)]

[Footnote 78: A phial of St. Stephen's blood was annually
liquefied at Naples, till he was superseded by St. Jamarius,
(Ruinart. Hist. Persecut. Vandal p. 529.)]

[Footnote 79: Augustin composed the two-and-twenty books de
Civitate Dei in the space of thirteen years, A.D. 413 - 426.
(Tillemont, (Mem. Eccles. tom. xiv. p. 608, &c.) His learning is
too often borrowed, and his arguments are too often his own; but
the whole work claims the merit of a magnificent design,
vigorously, and not unskilfully, executed.]

[Footnote 80: See Augustin de Civitat. Dei, l. xxii. c. 22, and
the Appendix, which contains two books of St. Stephen's miracles,
by Evodius, bishop of Uzalis. Freculphus (apud Basnage, Hist.
des Juifs, tom. vii. p. 249) has preserved a Gallic or a Spanish
proverb, "Whoever pretends to have read all the miracles of St.
Stephen, he lies."]

III. The innumerable miracles, of which the tombs of the
martyrs were the perpetual theatre, revealed to the pious
believer the actual state and constitution of the invisible
world; and his religious speculations appeared to be founded on
the firm basis of fact and experience. Whatever might be the
condition of vulgar souls, in the long interval between the
dissolution and the resurrection of their bodies, it was evident
that the superior spirits of the saints and martyrs did not
consume that portion of their existence in silent and inglorious
sleep. ^81 It was evident (without presuming to determine the
place of their habitation, or the nature of their felicity) that
they enjoyed the lively and active consciousness of their
happiness, their virtue, and their powers; and that they had
already secured the possession of their eternal reward. The
enlargement of their intellectual faculties surpassed the measure
of the human imagination; since it was proved by experience, that
they were capable of hearing and understanding the various
petitions of their numerous votaries; who, in the same moment of
time, but in the most distant parts of the world, invoked the
name and assistance of Stephen or of Martin. ^82 The confidence
of their petitioners was founded on the persuasion, that the
saints, who reigned with Christ, cast an eye of pity upon earth;
that they were warmly interested in the prosperity of the
Catholic Church; and that the individuals, who imitated the
example of their faith and piety, were the peculiar and favorite
objects of their most tender regard. Sometimes, indeed, their
friendship might be influenced by considerations of a less
exalted kind: they viewed with partial affection the places which
had been consecrated by their birth, their residence, their
death, their burial, or the possession of their relics. The
meaner passions of pride, avarice, and revenge, may be deemed
unworthy of a celestial breast; yet the saints themselves
condescended to testify their grateful approbation of the
liberality of their votaries; and the sharpest bolts of
punishment were hurled against those impious wretches, who
violated their magnificent shrines, or disbelieved their
supernatural power. ^83 Atrocious, indeed, must have been the
guilt, and strange would have been the scepticism, of those men,
if they had obstinately resisted the proofs of a divine agency,
which the elements, the whole range of the animal creation, and
even the subtle and invisible operations of the human mind, were
compelled to obey. ^84 The immediate, and almost instantaneous,
effects that were supposed to follow the prayer, or the offence,
satisfied the Christians of the ample measure of favor and
authority which the saints enjoyed in the presence of the Supreme
God; and it seemed almost superfluous to inquire whether they
were continually obliged to intercede before the throne of grace;
or whether they might not be permitted to exercise, according to
the dictates of their benevolence and justice, the delegated
powers of their subordinate ministry. The imagination, which had
been raised by a painful effort to the contemplation and worship
of the Universal Cause, eagerly embraced such inferior objects of
adoration as were more proportioned to its gross conceptions and
imperfect faculties. The sublime and simple theology of the
primitive Christians was gradually corrupted; and the Monarchy of
heaven, already clouded by metaphysical subtleties, was degraded
by the introduction of a popular mythology, which tended to
restore the reign of polytheism. ^85

[Footnote 81: Burnet (de Statu Mortuorum, p. 56 - 84) collects
the opinions of the Fathers, as far as they assert the sleep, or
repose, of human souls till the day of judgment. He afterwards
exposes (p. 91, &c.) the inconveniences which must arise, if they
possessed a more active and sensible existence.]
[Footnote 82: Vigilantius placed the souls of the prophets and
martyrs, either in the bosom of Abraham, (in loco refrigerii,) or
else under the altar of God. Nec posse suis tumulis et ubi
voluerunt adesse praesentes. But Jerom (tom. ii. p. 122) sternly
refutes this blasphemy. Tu Deo leges pones? Tu apostolis
vincula injicies, ut usque ad diem judicii teneantur custodia,
nec sint cum Domino suo; de quibus scriptum est, Sequuntur Agnum
quocunque vadit. Si Agnus ubique, ergo, et hi, qui cum Agno
sunt, ubique esse credendi sunt. Et cum diabolus et daemones
tote vagentur in orbe, &c.]

[Footnote 83: Fleury Discours sur l'Hist. Ecclesiastique, iii p.
[Footnote 84: At Minorca, the relics of St. Stephen converted, in
eight days, 540 Jews; with the help, indeed, of some wholesome
severities, such as burning the synagogue, driving the obstinate
infidels to starve among the rocks, &c. See the original letter
of Severus, bishop of Minorca (ad calcem St. Augustin. de Civ.
Dei,) and the judicious remarks of Basnage, (tom. viii. p. 245 -

[Footnote 85: Mr. Hume (Essays, vol. ii. p. 434) observes, like a
philosopher, the natural flux and reflux of polytheism and
IV. As the objects of religion were gradually reduced to
the standard of the imagination, the rites and ceremonies were
introduced that seemed most powerfully to affect the senses of
the vulgar. If, in the beginning of the fifth century, ^86
Tertullian, or Lactantius, ^87 had been suddenly raised from the
dead, to assist at the festival of some popular saint, or martyr,
^88 they would have gazed with astonishment, and indignation, on
the profane spectacle, which had succeeded to the pure and
spiritual worship of a Christian congregation. As soon as the
doors of the church were thrown open, they must have been
offended by the smoke of incense, the perfume of flowers, and the
glare of lamps and tapers, which diffused, at noonday, a gaudy,
superfluous, and, in their opinion, a sacrilegious light. If they
approached the balustrade of the altar, they made their way
through the prostrate crowd, consisting, for the most part, of
strangers and pilgrims, who resorted to the city on the vigil of
the feast; and who already felt the strong intoxication of
fanaticism, and, perhaps, of wine. Their devout kisses were
imprinted on the walls and pavement of the sacred edifice; and
their fervent prayers were directed, whatever might be the
language of their church, to the bones, the blood, or the ashes
of the saint, which were usually concealed, by a linen or silken
veil, from the eyes of the vulgar. The Christians frequented the
tombs of the martyrs, in the hope of obtaining, from their
powerful intercession, every sort of spiritual, but more
especially of temporal, blessings. They implored the
preservation of their health, or the cure of their infirmities;
the fruitfulness of their barren wives, or the safety and
happiness of their children. Whenever they undertook any distant
or dangerous journey, they requested, that the holy martyrs would
be their guides and protectors on the road; and if they returned
without having experienced any misfortune, they again hastened to
the tombs of the martyrs, to celebrate, with grateful
thanksgivings, their obligations to the memory and relics of
those heavenly patrons. The walls were hung round with symbols
of the favors which they had received; eyes, and hands, and feet,
of gold and silver: and edifying pictures, which could not long
escape the abuse of indiscreet or idolatrous devotion,
represented the image, the attributes, and the miracles of the
tutelar saint. The same uniform original spirit of superstition
might suggest, in the most distant ages and countries, the same
methods of deceiving the credulity, and of affecting the senses
of mankind: ^89 but it must ingenuously be confessed, that the
ministers of the Catholic church imitated the profane model,
which they were impatient to destroy. The most respectable
bishops had persuaded themselves that the ignorant rustics would
more cheerfully renounce the superstitions of Paganism, if they
found some resemblance, some compensation, in the bosom of
Christianity. The religion of Constantine achieved, in less than
a century, the final conquest of the Roman empire: but the
victors themselves were insensibly subdued by the arts of their
vanquished rivals. ^90 ^*
[Footnote 86: D'Aubigne (see his own Memoires, p. 156 - 160)
frankly offered, with the consent of the Huguenot ministers, to
allow the first 400 years as the rule of faith. The Cardinal du
Perron haggled for forty years more, which were indiscreetly
given. Yet neither party would have found their account in this
foolish bargain.]

[Footnote 87: The worship practised and inculcated by Tertullian,
Lactantius Arnobius, &c., is so extremely pure and spiritual,
that their declamations against the Pagan sometimes glance
against the Jewish, ceremonies.]

[Footnote 88: Faustus the Manichaean accuses the Catholics of
idolatry. Vertitis idola in martyres .... quos votis similibus
colitis. M. de Beausobre, (Hist. Critique du Manicheisme, tom.
ii. p. 629 - 700,) a Protestant, but a philosopher, has
represented, with candor and learning, the introduction of
Christian idolatry in the fourth and fifth centuries.]
[Footnote 89: The resemblance of superstition, which could not be
imitated, might be traced from Japan to Mexico. Warburton has
seized this idea, which he distorts, by rendering it too general
and absolute, (Divine Legation, vol. iv. p. 126, &c.)]

[Footnote 90: The imitation of Paganism is the subject of Dr.
Middleton's agreeable letter from Rome. Warburton's
animadversions obliged him to connect (vol. iii. p. 120 - 132,)
the history of the two religions, and to prove the antiquity of
the Christian copy.]

[Footnote *: But there was always this important difference
between Christian and heathen Polytheism. In Paganism this was
the whole religion; in the darkest ages of Christianity, some,
however obscure and vague, Christian notions of future
retribution, of the life after death, lurked at the bottom, and
operated, to a certain extent, on the thoughts and feelings,
sometimes on the actions. - M.]

Chapter XXIX: Division Of Roman Empire Between Sons Of

Part I.

Final Division Of The Roman Empire Between The Sons Of
Theodosius. - Reign Of Arcadius And Honorius - Administration Of
Rufinus And Stilicho. - Revolt And Defeat Of Gildo In Africa.
The genius of Rome expired with Theodosius; the last of the
successors of Augustus and Constantine, who appeared in the field
at the head of their armies, and whose authority was universally
acknowledged throughout the whole extent of the empire. The
memory of his virtues still continued, however, to protect the
feeble and inexperienced youth of his two sons. After the death
of their father, Arcadius and Honorius were saluted, by the
unanimous consent of mankind, as the lawful emperors of the East,
and of the West; and the oath of fidelity was eagerly taken by
every order of the state; the senates of old and new Rome, the
clergy, the magistrates, the soldiers, and the people. Arcadius,
who was then about eighteen years of age, was born in Spain, in
the humble habitation of a private family. But he received a
princely education in the palace of Constantinople; and his
inglorious life was spent in that peaceful and splendid seat of
royalty, from whence he appeared to reign over the provinces of
Thrace, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, from the Lower Danube to
the confines of Persia and Aethiopia. His younger brother
Honorius, assumed, in the eleventh year of his age, the nominal
government of Italy, Africa, Gaul, Spain, and Britain; and the
troops, which guarded the frontiers of his kingdom, were opposed,
on one side, to the Caledonians, and on the other, to the Moors.
The great and martial praefecture of Illyricum was divided
between the two princes: the defence and possession of the
provinces of Noricum, Pannonia, and Dalmatia still belonged to
the Western empire; but the two large dioceses of Dacia and
Macedonia, which Gratian had intrusted to the valor of
Theodosius, were forever united to the empire of the East. The
boundary in Europe was not very different from the line which now
separates the Germans and the Turks; and the respective
advantages of territory, riches, populousness, and military
strength, were fairly balanced and compensated, in this final and
permanent division of the Roman empire. The hereditary sceptre
of the sons of Theodosius appeared to be the gift of nature, and
of their father; the generals and ministers had been accustomed
to adore the majesty of the royal infants; and the army and
people were not admonished of their rights, and of their power,
by the dangerous example of a recent election. The gradual
discovery of the weakness of Arcadius and Honorius, and the
repeated calamities of their reign, were not sufficient to
obliterate the deep and early impressions of loyalty. The
subjects of Rome, who still reverenced the persons, or rather the
names, of their sovereigns, beheld, with equal abhorrence, the
rebels who opposed, and the ministers who abused, the authority
of the throne.

Theodosius had tarnished the glory of his reign by the
elevation of Rufinus; an odious favorite, who, in an age of civil
and religious faction, has deserved, from every party, the
imputation of every crime. The strong impulse of ambition and
avarice ^1 had urged Rufinus to abandon his native country, an
obscure corner of Gaul, ^2 to advance his fortune in the capital
of the East: the talent of bold and ready elocution, ^3 qualified
him to succeed in the lucrative profession of the law; and his
success in that profession was a regular step to the most
honorable and important employments of the state. He was raised,
by just degrees, to the station of master of the offices. In the
exercise of his various functions, so essentially connected with
the whole system of civil government, he acquired the confidence
of a monarch, who soon discovered his diligence and capacity in
business, and who long remained ignorant of the pride, the
malice, and the covetousness of his disposition. These vices
were concealed beneath the mask of profound dissimulation; ^4 his
passions were subservient only to the passions of his master; yet
in the horrid massacre of Thessalonica, the cruel Rufinus
inflamed the fury, without imitating the repentance, of
Theodosius. The minister, who viewed with proud indifference the
rest of mankind, never forgave the appearance of an injury; and
his personal enemies had forfeited, in his opinion, the merit of
all public services. Promotus, the master-general of the
infantry, had saved the empire from the invasion of the
Ostrogoths; but he indignantly supported the preeminence of a
rival, whose character and profession he despised; and in the
midst of a public council, the impatient soldier was provoked to
chastise with a blow the indecent pride of the favorite. This
act of violence was represented to the emperor as an insult,
which it was incumbent on his dignity to resent. The disgrace
and exile of Promotus were signified by a peremptory order, to
repair, without delay, to a military station on the banks of the
Danube; and the death of that general (though he was slain in a
skirmish with the Barbarians) was imputed to the perfidious arts
of Rufinus. ^5 The sacrifice of a hero gratified his revenge; the
honors of the consulship elated his vanity; but his power was
still imperfect and precarious, as long as the important posts of
praefect of the East, and of praefect of Constantinople, were
filled by Tatian, ^6 and his son Proculus; whose united authority
balanced, for some time, the ambition and favor of the master of
the offices. The two praefects were accused of rapine and
corruption in the administration of the laws and finances. For
the trial of these illustrious offenders, the emperor constituted
a special commission: several judges were named to share the
guilt and reproach of injustice; but the right of pronouncing
sentence was reserved to the president alone, and that president
was Rufinus himself. The father, stripped of the praefecture of
the East, was thrown into a dungeon; but the son, conscious that
few ministers can be found innocent, where an enemy is their
judge, had secretly escaped; and Rufinus must have been satisfied
with the least obnoxious victim, if despotism had not
condescended to employ the basest and most ungenerous artifice.
The prosecution was conducted with an appearance of equity and
moderation, which flattered Tatian with the hope of a favorable
event: his confidence was fortified by the solemn assurances, and
perfidious oaths, of the president, who presumed to interpose the
sacred name of Theodosius himself; and the unhappy father was at
last persuaded to recall, by a private letter, the fugitive
Proculus. He was instantly seized, examined, condemned, and
beheaded, in one of the suburbs of Constantinople, with a
precipitation which disappointed the clemency of the emperor.
Without respecting the misfortunes of a consular senator, the
cruel judges of Tatian compelled him to behold the execution of
his son: the fatal cord was fastened round his own neck; but in
the moment when he expected. and perhaps desired, the relief of
a speedy death, he was permitted to consume the miserable remnant
of his old age in poverty and exile. ^7 The punishment of the two
praefects might, perhaps, be excused by the exceptionable parts
of their own conduct; the enmity of Rufinus might be palliated by
the jealous and unsociable nature of ambition. But he indulged a
spirit of revenge equally repugnant to prudence and to justice,
when he degraded their native country of Lycia from the rank of
Roman provinces; stigmatized a guiltless people with a mark of
ignominy; and declared, that the countrymen of Tatian and
Proculus should forever remain incapable of holding any
employment of honor or advantage under the Imperial government.
^8 The new praefect of the East (for Rufinus instantly succeeded
to the vacant honors of his adversary) was not diverted, however,
by the most criminal pursuits, from the performance of the
religious duties, which in that age were considered as the most
essential to salvation. In the suburb of Chalcedon, surnamed the
Oak, he had built a magnificent villa; to which he devoutly added
a stately church, consecrated to the apostles St. Peter and St.
Paul, and continually sanctified by the prayers and penance of a
regular society of monks. A numerous, and almost general, synod
of the bishops of the Eastern empire, was summoned to celebrate,
at the same time, the dedication of the church, and the baptism
of the founder. This double ceremony was performed with
extraordinary pomp; and when Rufinus was purified, in the holy
font, from all the sins that he had hitherto committed, a
venerable hermit of Egypt rashly proposed himself as the sponsor
of a proud and ambitious statesman. ^9
[Footnote 1: Alecto, envious of the public felicity, convenes an
infernal synod Megaera recommends her pupil Rufinus, and excites
him to deeds of mischief, &c. But there is as much difference
between Claudian's fury and that of Virgil, as between the
characters of Turnus and Rufinus.]
[Footnote 2: It is evident, (Tillemont, Hist. des Emp. tom. v. p.
770,) though De Marca is ashamed of his countryman, that Rufinus
was born at Elusa, the metropolis of Novempopulania, now a small
village of Gassony, (D'Anville, Notice de l'Ancienne Gaule, p.

[Footnote 3: Philostorgius, l. xi c. 3, with Godefroy's Dissert.
p. 440.]
[Footnote 4: A passage of Suidas is expressive of his profound
[Footnote 5: Zosimus, l. iv. p. 272, 273.]

[Footnote 6: Zosimus, who describes the fall of Tatian and his
son, (l. iv. p. 273, 274,) asserts their innocence; and even his
testimony may outweigh the charges of their enemies, (Cod. Theod.
tom. iv. p. 489,) who accuse them of oppressing the Curiae. The
connection of Tatian with the Arians, while he was praefect of
Egypt, (A.D. 373,) inclines Tillemont to believe that he was
guilty of every crime, (Hist. des Emp. tom. v. p. 360. Mem.
Eccles. tom vi. p. 589.)]

[Footnote 7: - Juvenum rorantia colla
Ante patrum vultus stricta cecidere securi.

Ibat grandaevus nato moriente superstes
Post trabeas exsul.

In Rufin. i. 248.

The facts of Zosimus explain the allusions of Claudian; but his
classic interpreters were ignorant of the fourth century. The
fatal cord, I found, with the help of Tillemont, in a sermon of
St. Asterius of Amasea.]
[Footnote 8: This odious law is recited and repealed by Arcadius,
(A.D. 296,) on the Theodosian Code, l. ix. tit. xxxviii. leg. 9.
The sense as it is explained by Claudian, (in Rufin. i. 234,) and
Godefroy, (tom. iii. p. 279,) is perfectly clear.

- Exscindere cives
Funditus; et nomen gentis delere laborat.

The scruples of Pagi and Tillemont can arise only from their zeal
for the glory of Theodosius.]

[Footnote 9: Ammonius .... Rufinum propriis manibus suscepit
sacro fonte mundatum. See Rosweyde's Vitae Patrum, p. 947.
Sozomen (l. viii. c. 17) mentions the church and monastery; and
Tillemont (Mem. Eccles. tom. ix. p. 593) records this synod, in
which St. Gregory of Nyssa performed a conspicuous part.]

The character of Theodosius imposed on his minister the task
of hypocrisy, which disguised, and sometimes restrained, the
abuse of power; and Rufinus was apprehensive of disturbing the
indolent slumber of a prince still capable of exerting the
abilities and the virtue, which had raised him to the throne. ^10
But the absence, and, soon afterwards, the death, of the emperor,
confirmed the absolute authority of Rufinus over the person and
dominions of Arcadius; a feeble youth, whom the imperious
praefect considered as his pupil, rather than his sovereign.
Regardless of the public opinion, he indulged his passions
without remorse, and without resistance; and his malignant and
rapacious spirit rejected every passion that might have
contributed to his own glory, or the happiness of the people.
His avarice, ^11 which seems to have prevailed, in his corrupt
mind, over every other sentiment, attracted the wealth of the
East, by the various arts of partial and general extortion;
oppressive taxes, scandalous bribery, immoderate fines, unjust
confiscations, forced or fictitious testaments, by which the
tyrant despoiled of their lawful inheritance the children of
strangers, or enemies; and the public sale of justice, as well as
of favor, which he instituted in the palace of Constantinople.
The ambitious candidate eagerly solicited, at the expense of the
fairest part of his patrimony, the honors and emoluments of some
provincial government; the lives and fortunes of the unhappy
people were abandoned to the most liberal purchaser; and the
public discontent was sometimes appeased by the sacrifice of an
unpopular criminal, whose punishment was profitable only to the
praefect of the East, his accomplice and his judge. If avarice
were not the blindest of the human passions, the motives of
Rufinus might excite our curiosity; and we might be tempted to
inquire with what view he violated every principle of humanity
and justice, to accumulate those immense treasures, which he
could not spend without folly, nor possess without danger.
Perhaps he vainly imagined, that he labored for the interest of
an only daughter, on whom he intended to bestow his royal pupil,
and the august rank of Empress of the East. Perhaps he deceived
himself by the opinion, that his avarice was the instrument of
his ambition. He aspired to place his fortune on a secure and
independent basis, which should no longer depend on the caprice
of the young emperor; yet he neglected to conciliate the hearts
of the soldiers and people, by the liberal distribution of those
riches, which he had acquired with so much toil, and with so much
guilt. The extreme parsimony of Rufinus left him only the
reproach and envy of ill-gotten wealth; his dependants served him
without attachment; the universal hatred of mankind was repressed
only by the influence of servile fear. The fate of Lucian
proclaimed to the East, that the praefect, whose industry was
much abated in the despatch of ordinary business, was active and
indefatigable in the pursuit of revenge. Lucian, the son of the
praefect Florentius, the oppressor of Gaul, and the enemy of
Julian, had employed a considerable part of his inheritance, the
fruit of rapine and corruption, to purchase the friendship of
Rufinus, and the high office of Count of the East. But the new
magistrate imprudently departed from the maxims of the court, and
of the times; disgraced his benefactor by the contrast of a
virtuous and temperate administration; and presumed to refuse an
act of injustice, which might have tended to the profit of the
emperor's uncle. Arcadius was easily persuaded to resent the
supposed insult; and the praefect of the East resolved to execute
in person the cruel vengeance, which he meditated against this
ungrateful delegate of his power. He performed with incessant
speed the journey of seven or eight hundred miles, from
Constantinople to Antioch, entered the capital of Syria at the
dead of night, and spread universal consternation among a people
ignorant of his design, but not ignorant of his character. The
Count of the fifteen provinces of the East was dragged, like the
vilest malefactor, before the arbitrary tribunal of Rufinus.
Notwithstanding the clearest evidence of his integrity, which was
not impeached even by the voice of an accuser, Lucian was
condemned, almost with out a trial, to suffer a cruel and
ignominious punishment. The ministers of the tyrant, by the
orders, and in the presence, of their master, beat him on the
neck with leather thongs armed at the extremities with lead; and
when he fainted under the violence of the pain, he was removed in
a close litter, to conceal his dying agonies from the eyes of the
indignant city. No sooner had Rufinus perpetrated this inhuman
act, the sole object of his expedition, than he returned, amidst
the deep and silent curses of a trembling people, from Antioch to
Constantinople; and his diligence was accelerated by the hope of
accomplishing, without delay, the nuptials of his daughter with
the emperor of the East. ^12

[Footnote 10: Montesquieu (Esprit des Loix, l. xii. c. 12)
praises one of the laws of Theodosius addressed to the praefect
Rufinus, (l. ix. tit. iv. leg. unic.,) to discourage the
prosecution of treasonable, or sacrilegious, words. A tyrannical
statute always proves the existence of tyranny; but a laudable
edict may only contain the specious professions, or ineffectual
wishes, of the prince, or his ministers. This, I am afraid, is a
just, though mortifying, canon of criticism.]

[Footnote 11: - fluctibus auri
Expleri sitis ista nequit -

- - - - - - -

Congestae cumulantur opes; orbisque ruinas
Accipit una domus.

This character (Claudian, in. Rufin. i. 184 - 220) is confirmed
by Jerom, a disinterested witness, (dedecus insatiabilis
avaritiae, tom. i. ad Heliodor. p. 26,) by Zosimus, (l. v. p.
286,) and by Suidas, who copied the history of Eunapius.]

Footnote 12: - Caetera segnis;
Ad facinus velox; penitus regione remotas
Impiger ire vias.

This allusion of Claudian (in Rufin. i. 241) is again explained
by the circumstantial narrative of Zosimus, (l. v. p. 288, 289.)]

But Rufinus soon experienced, that a prudent minister should
constantly secure his royal captive by the strong, though
invisible chain of habit; and that the merit, and much more
easily the favor, of the absent, are obliterated in a short time
from the mind of a weak and capricious sovereign. While the
praefect satiated his revenge at Antioch, a secret conspiracy of
the favorite eunuchs, directed by the great chamberlain
Eutropius, undermined his power in the palace of Constantinople.
They discovered that Arcadius was not inclined to love the
daughter of Rufinus, who had been chosen, without his consent,
for his bride; and they contrived to substitute in her place the
fair Eudoxia, the daughter of Bauto, ^13 a general of the Franks
in the service of Rome; and who was educated, since the death of
her father, in the family of the sons of Promotus. The young
emperor, whose chastity had been strictly guarded by the pious
care of his tutor Arsenius, ^14 eagerly listened to the artful
and flattering descriptions of the charms of Eudoxia: he gazed
with impatient ardor on her picture, and he understood the
necessity of concealing his amorous designs from the knowledge of
a minister who was so deeply interested to oppose the
consummation of his happiness. Soon after the return of Rufinus,
the approaching ceremony of the royal nuptials was announced to
the people of Constantinople, who prepared to celebrate, with
false and hollow acclamations, the fortune of his daughter. A
splendid train of eunuchs and officers issued, in hymeneal pomp,
from the gates of the palace; bearing aloft the diadem, the
robes, and the inestimable ornaments, of the future empress. The
solemn procession passed through the streets of the city, which
were adorned with garlands, and filled with spectators; but when
it reached the house of the sons of Promotus, the principal
eunuch respectfully entered the mansion, invested the fair
Eudoxia with the Imperial robes, and conducted her in triumph to
the palace and bed of Arcadius. ^15 The secrecy and success with
which this conspiracy against Rufinus had been conducted,
imprinted a mark of indelible ridicule on the character of a
minister, who had suffered himself to be deceived, in a post
where the arts of deceit and dissimulation constitute the most
distinguished merit. He considered, with a mixture of
indignation and fear, the victory of an aspiring eunuch, who had
secretly captivated the favor of his sovereign; and the disgrace
of his daughter, whose interest was inseparably connected with
his own, wounded the tenderness, or, at least, the pride of
Rufinus. At the moment when he flattered himself that he should
become the father of a line of kings, a foreign maid, who had
been educated in the house of his implacable enemies, was
introduced into the Imperial bed; and Eudoxia soon displayed a
superiority of sense and spirit, to improve the ascendant which
her beauty must acquire over the mind of a fond and youthful
husband. The emperor would soon be instructed to hate, to fear,
and to destroy the powerful subject, whom he had injured; and the
consciousness of guilt deprived Rufinus of every hope, either of
safety or comfort, in the retirement of a private life. But he
still possessed the most effectual means of defending his
dignity, and perhaps of oppressing his enemies. The praefect
still exercised an uncontrolled authority over the civil and
military government of the East; and his treasures, if he could
resolve to use them, might be employed to procure proper
instruments for the execution of the blackest designs, that
pride, ambition, and revenge could suggest to a desperate
statesman. The character of Rufinus seemed to justify the
accusations that he conspired against the person of his
sovereign, to seat himself on the vacant throne; and that he had
secretly invited the Huns and the Goths to invade the provinces
of the empire, and to increase the public confusion. The subtle
praefect, whose life had been spent in the intrigues of the
palace, opposed, with equal arms, the artful measures of the
eunuch Eutropius; but the timid soul of Rufinus was astonished by
the hostile approach of a more formidable rival, of the great
Stilicho, the general, or rather the master, of the empire of the
West. ^16

[Footnote 13: Zosimus (l. iv. p. 243) praises the valor,
prudence, and integrity of Bauto the Frank. See Tillemont, Hist.
des Empereurs, tom. v. p. 771.]

[Footnote 14: Arsenius escaped from the palace of Constantinople,
and passed fifty-five years in rigid penance in the monasteries
of Egypt. See Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. tom. xiv. p. 676 - 702;
and Fleury, Hist Eccles. tom. v. p. 1, &c.; but the latter, for
want of authentic materials, has given too much credit to the
legend of Metaphrastes.]

[Footnote 15: This story (Zosimus, l. v. p. 290) proves that the
hymeneal rites of antiquity were still practised, without
idolatry, by the Christians of the East; and the bride was
forcibly conducted from the house of her parents to that of her
husband. Our form of marriage requires, with less delicacy, the
express and public consent of a virgin.]
[Footnote 16: Zosimus, (l. v. p. 290,) Orosius, (l. vii. c. 37,)
and the Chronicle of Marcellinus. Claudian (in Rufin. ii. 7 -
100) paints, in lively colors, the distress and guilt of the

The celestial gift, which Achilles obtained, and Alexander
envied, of a poet worthy to celebrate the actions of heroes has
been enjoyed by Stilicho, in a much higher degree than might have
been expected from the declining state of genius, and of art.
The muse of Claudian, ^17 devoted to his service, was always
prepared to stigmatize his adversaries, Rufinus, or Eutropius,
with eternal infamy; or to paint, in the most splendid colors,
the victories and virtues of a powerful benefactor. In the
review of a period indifferently supplied with authentic
materials, we cannot refuse to illustrate the annals of Honorius,
from the invectives, or the panegyrics, of a contemporary writer;
but as Claudian appears to have indulged the most ample privilege
of a poet and a courtier, some criticism will be requisite to
translate the language of fiction or exaggeration, into the truth
and simplicity of historic prose. His silence concerning the
family of Stilicho may be admitted as a proof, that his patron
was neither able, nor desirous, to boast of a long series of
illustrious progenitors; and the slight mention of his father, an
officer of Barbarian cavalry in the service of Valens, seems to
countenance the assertion, that the general, who so long
commanded the armies of Rome, was descended from the savage and
perfidious race of the Vandals. ^18 If Stilicho had not possessed
the external advantages of strength and stature, the most
flattering bard, in the presence of so many thousand spectators,
would have hesitated to affirm, that he surpassed the measure of
the demi-gods of antiquity; and that whenever he moved, with
lofty steps, through the streets of the capital, the astonished
crowd made room for the stranger, who displayed, in a private
condition, the awful majesty of a hero. From his earliest youth
he embraced the profession of arms; his prudence and valor were
soon distinguished in the field; the horsemen and archers of the
East admired his superior dexterity; and in each degree of his
military promotions, the public judgment always prevented and
approved the choice of the sovereign. He was named, by
Theodosius, to ratify a solemn treaty with the monarch of Persia;
he supported, during that important embassy, the dignity of the
Roman name; and after he return to Constantinople, his merit was
rewarded by an intimate and honorable alliance with the Imperial
family. Theodosius had been prompted, by a pious motive of
fraternal affection, to adopt, for his own, the daughter of his
brother Honorius; the beauty and accomplishments of Serena ^19
were universally admired by the obsequious court; and Stilicho
obtained the preference over a crowd of rivals, who ambitiously
disputed the hand of the princess, and the favor of her adopted
father. ^20 The assurance that the husband of Serena would be
faithful to the throne, which he was permitted to approach,
engaged the emperor to exalt the fortunes, and to employ the
abilities, of the sagacious and intrepid Stilicho. He rose,
through the successive steps of master of the horse, and count of
the domestics, to the supreme rank of master-general of all the
cavalry and infantry of the Roman, or at least of the Western,
empire; ^21 and his enemies confessed, that he invariably
disdained to barter for gold the rewards of merit, or to defraud
the soldiers of the pay and gratifications which they deserved or
claimed, from the liberality of the state. ^22 The valor and
conduct which he afterwards displayed, in the defence of Italy,
against the arms of Alaric and Radagaisus, may justify the fame
of his early achievements and in an age less attentive to the
laws of honor, or of pride, the Roman generals might yield the
preeminence of rank, to the ascendant of superior genius. ^23 He
lamented, and revenged, the murder of Promotus, his rival and his
friend; and the massacre of many thousands of the flying
Bastarnae is represented by the poet as a bloody sacrifice, which
the Roman Achilles offered to the manes of another Patroclus.
The virtues and victories of Stilicho deserved the hatred of
Rufinus: and the arts of calumny might have been successful if
the tender and vigilant Serena had not protected her husband
against his domestic foes, whilst he vanquished in the field the
enemies of the empire. ^24 Theodosius continued to support an
unworthy minister, to whose diligence he delegated the government
of the palace, and of the East; but when he marched against the
tyrant Eugenius, he associated his faithful general to the labors
and glories of the civil war; and in the last moments of his
life, the dying monarch recommended to Stilicho the care of his
sons, and of the republic. ^25 The ambition and the abilities of
Stilicho were not unequal to the important trust; and he claimed
the guardianship of the two empires, during the minority of
Arcadius and Honorius. ^26 The first measure of his
administration, or rather of his reign, displayed to the nations
the vigor and activity of a spirit worthy to command. He passed
the Alps in the depth of winter; descended the stream of the
Rhine, from the fortress of Basil to the marshes of Batavia;
reviewed the state of the garrisons; repressed the enterprises of
the Germans; and, after establishing along the banks a firm and
honorable peace, returned, with incredible speed, to the palace
of Milan. ^27 The person and court of Honorius were subject to
the master-general of the West; and the armies and provinces of
Europe obeyed, without hesitation, a regular authority, which was
exercised in the name of their young sovereign. Two rivals only
remained to dispute the claims, and to provoke the vengeance, of
Stilicho. Within the limits of Africa, Gildo, the Moor,
maintained a proud and dangerous independence; and the minister
of Constantinople asserted his equal reign over the emperor, and
the empire, of the East.
[Footnote 17: Stilicho, directly or indirectly, is the perpetual
theme of Claudian. The youth and private life of the hero are
vaguely expressed in the poem on his first consulship, 35 - 140.]

[Footnote 18: Vandalorum, imbellis, avarae, perfidae, et dolosae,
gentis, genere editus. Orosius, l. vii. c. 38. Jerom (tom. i.
ad Gerontiam, p. 93) call him a Semi-Barbarian.]

[Footnote 19: Claudian, in an imperfect poem, has drawn a fair,
perhaps a flattering, portrait of Serena. That favorite niece of
Theodosius was born, as well as here sister Thermantia, in Spain;
from whence, in their earliest youth, they were honorably
conducted to the palace of Constantinople.]

[Footnote 20: Some doubt may be entertained, whether this
adoption was legal or only metaphorical, (see Ducange, Fam.
Byzant. p. 75.) An old inscription gives Stilicho the singular
title of Pro-gener Divi Theodosius]
[Footnote 21: Claudian (Laus Serenae, 190, 193) expresses, in
poetic language "the dilectus equorum," and the "gemino mox idem
culmine duxit agmina." The inscription adds, "count of the
domestics," an important command, which Stilicho, in the height
of his grandeur, might prudently retain.]

[Footnote 22: The beautiful lines of Claudian (in i. Cons.
Stilich. ii. 113) displays his genius; but the integrity of
Stilicho (in the military administration) is much more firmly
established by the unwilling evidence of Zosimus, (l. v. p.

[Footnote 23: - Si bellica moles
Ingrueret, quamvis annis et jure minori,

Cedere grandaevos equitum peditumque magistros

Adspiceres. Claudian, Laus Seren. p. 196, &c. A
modern general would deem their submission either heroic
patriotism or abject servility.]

[Footnote 24: Compare the poem on the first consulship (i. 95 -
115) with the Laus Serenoe (227 - 237, where it unfortunately
breaks off.) We may perceive the deep, inveterate malice of

[Footnote 25: - Quem fratribus ipse
Discedens, clypeum defensoremque dedisti.
Yet the nomination (iv. Cons. Hon. 432) was private, (iii. Cons.
Hon. 142,) cunctos discedere ... jubet; and may therefore be
suspected. Zosimus and Suidas apply to Stilicho and Rufinus the
same equal title of guardians, or procurators.]

[Footnote 26: The Roman law distinguishes two sorts of minority,
which expired at the age of fourteen, and of twenty-five. The
one was subject to the tutor, or guardian, of the person; the
other, to the curator, or trustee, of the estate, (Heineccius,
Antiquitat. Rom. ad Jurisprudent. pertinent. l. i. tit. xxii.
xxiii. p. 218 - 232.) But these legal ideas were never accurately
transferred into the constitution of an elective monarchy.]
[Footnote 27: See Claudian, (i. Cons. Stilich. i. 188 - 242;) but
he must allow more than fifteen days for the journey and return
between Milan and Leyden.]

Chapter XXIX: Division Of Roman Empire Between Sons Of

Part II.

The impartiality which Stilicho affected, as the common
guardian of the royal brothers, engaged him to regulate the equal
division of the arms, the jewels, and the magnificent wardrobe
and furniture of the deceased emperor. ^28 But the most important
object of the inheritance consisted of the numerous legions,
cohorts, and squadrons, of Romans, or Barbarians, whom the event
of the civil war had united under the standard of Theodosius.
The various multitudes of Europe and Asia, exasperated by recent
animosities, were overawed by the authority of a single man; and
the rigid discipline of Stilicho protected the lands of the
citizens from the rapine of the licentious soldier. ^29 Anxious,
however, and impatient, to relieve Italy from the presence of
this formidable host, which could be useful only on the frontiers
of the empire, he listened to the just requisition of the
minister of Arcadius, declared his intention of reconducting in
person the troops of the East, and dexterously employed the rumor
of a Gothic tumult to conceal his private designs of ambition and
revenge. ^30 The guilty soul of Rufinus was alarmed by the
approach of a warrior and a rival, whose enmity he deserved; he
computed, with increasing terror, the narrow space of his life
and greatness; and, as the last hope of safety, he interposed the
authority of the emperor Arcadius. Stilicho, who appears to have
directed his march along the sea-coast of the Adriatic, was not
far distant from the city of Thessalonica, when he received a
peremptory message, to recall the troops of the East, and to
declare, that his nearer approach would be considered, by the
Byzantine court, as an act of hostility. The prompt and
unexpected obedience of the general of the West, convinced the
vulgar of his loyalty and moderation; and, as he had already
engaged the affection of the Eastern troops, he recommended to
their zeal the execution of his bloody design, which might be
accomplished in his absence, with less danger, perhaps, and with
less reproach. Stilicho left the command of the troops of the
East to Gainas, the Goth, on whose fidelity he firmly relied,
with an assurance, at least, that the hardy Barbarians would
never be diverted from his purpose by any consideration of fear
or remorse. The soldiers were easily persuaded to punish the
enemy of Stilicho and of Rome; and such was the general hatred
which Rufinus had excited, that the fatal secret, communicated to
thousands, was faithfully preserved during the long march from
Thessalonica to the gates of Constantinople. As soon as they had
resolved his death, they condescended to flatter his pride; the
ambitious praefect was seduced to believe, that those powerful
auxiliaries might be tempted to place the diadem on his head; and
the treasures which he distributed, with a tardy and reluctant
hand, were accepted by the indignant multitude as an insult,
rather than as a gift. At the distance of a mile from the
capital, in the field of Mars, before the palace of Hebdomon, the
troops halted: and the emperor, as well as his minister,
advanced, according to ancient custom, respectfully to salute the
power which supported their throne. As Rufinus passed along the
ranks, and disguised, with studied courtesy, his innate
haughtiness, the wings insensibly wheeled from the right and
left, and enclosed the devoted victim within the circle of their
arms. Before he could reflect on the danger of his situation,
Gainas gave the signal of death; a daring and forward soldier
plunged his sword into the breast of the guilty praefect, and
Rufinus fell, groaned, and expired, at the feet of the affrighted
emperor. If the agonies of a moment could expiate the crimes of
a whole life, or if the outrages inflicted on a breathless corpse
could be the object of pity, our humanity might perhaps be
affected by the horrid circumstances which accompanied the murder
of Rufinus. His mangled body was abandoned to the brutal fury of
the populace of either sex, who hastened in crowds, from every
quarter of the city, to trample on the remains of the haughty
minister, at whose frown they had so lately trembled. His right
hand was cut off, and carried through the streets of
Constantinople, in cruel mockery, to extort contributions for the
avaricious tyrant, whose head was publicly exposed, borne aloft
on the point of a long lance. ^31 According to the savage maxims
of the Greek republics, his innocent family would have shared the
punishment of his crimes. The wife and daughter of Rufinus were
indebted for their safety to the influence of religion. Her
sanctuary protected them from the raging madness of the people;
and they were permitted to spend the remainder of their lives in
the exercise of Christian devotions, in the peaceful retirement
of Jerusalem. ^32

[Footnote 28: I. Cons. Stilich. ii. 88 - 94. Not only the robes
and diadems of the deceased emperor, but even the helmets,
sword-hilts, belts, rasses, &c., were enriched with pearls,
emeralds, and diamonds.]

[Footnote 29: - Tantoque remoto
Principe, mutatas orbis non sensit habenas. This
high commendation (i. Cons. Stil. i. 149) may be justified by the
fears of the dying emperor, (de Bell. Gildon. 292 - 301;) and the
peace and good order which were enjoyed after his death, (i.
Cons. Stil i. 150 - 168.)]
[Footnote 30: Stilicho's march, and the death of Rufinus, are
described by Claudian, (in Rufin. l. ii. 101 - 453,) Zosimus, l.
v. p. 296, 297,) Sozomen (l. viii. c. 1,) Socrates, (l. vi. c.
1,) Philostorgius, (l. xi c. 3, with Godefory, p. 441,) and the
Chronicle of Marcellinus.]

[Footnote 31: The dissection of Rufinus, which Claudian performs
with the savage coolness of an anatomist, (in Rufin. ii. 405 -
415,) is likewise specified by Zosimus and Jerom, (tom. i. p.

[Footnote 32: The Pagan Zosimus mentions their sanctuary and
pilgrimage. The sister of Rufinus, Sylvania, who passed her life
at Jerusalem, is famous in monastic history. 1. The studious
virgin had diligently, and even repeatedly, perused the
commentators on the Bible, Origen, Gregory, Basil, &c., to the
amount of five millions of lines. 2. At the age of threescore,
she could boast, that she had never washed her hands, face, or
any part of her whole body, except the tips of her fingers to
receive the communion. See the Vitae Patrum, p. 779, 977.]
The servile poet of Stilicho applauds, with ferocious joy,
this horrid deed, which, in the execution, perhaps, of justice,
violated every law of nature and society, profaned the majesty of
the prince, and renewed the dangerous examples of military
license. The contemplation of the universal order and harmony
had satisfied Claudian of the existence of the Deity; but the
prosperous impunity of vice appeared to contradict his moral
attributes; and the fate of Rufinus was the only event which
could dispel the religious doubts of the poet. ^33 Such an act
might vindicate the honor of Providence, but it did not much
contribute to the happiness of the people. In less than three
months they were informed of the maxims of the new
administration, by a singular edict, which established the
exclusive right of the treasury over the spoils of Rufinus; and
silenced, under heavy penalties, the presumptuous claims of the
subjects of the Eastern empire, who had been injured by his
rapacious tyranny. ^34 Even Stilicho did not derive from the
murder of his rival the fruit which he had proposed; and though
he gratified his revenge, his ambition was disappointed. Under
the name of a favorite, the weakness of Arcadius required a
master, but he naturally preferred the obsequious arts of the
eunuch Eutropius, who had obtained his domestic confidence: and
the emperor contemplated, with terror and aversion, the stern
genius of a foreign warrior. Till they were divided by the
jealousy of power, the sword of Gainas, and the charms of
Eudoxia, supported the favor of the great chamberlain of the
palace: the perfidious Goth, who was appointed master-general of
the East, betrayed, without scruple, the interest of his
benefactor; and the same troops, who had so lately massacred the
enemy of Stilicho, were engaged to support, against him, the
independence of the throne of Constantinople. The favorites of
Arcadius fomented a secret and irreconcilable war against a
formidable hero, who aspired to govern, and to defend, the two
empires of Rome, and the two sons of Theodosius. They
incessantly labored, by dark and treacherous machinations, to
deprive him of the esteem of the prince, the respect of the
people, and the friendship of the Barbarians. The life of
Stilicho was repeatedly attempted by the dagger of hired
assassins; and a decree was obtained from the senate of
Constantinople, to declare him an enemy of the republic, and to
confiscate his ample possessions in the provinces of the East.
At a time when the only hope of delaying the ruin of the Roman
name depended on the firm union, and reciprocal aid, of all the
nations to whom it had been gradually communicated, the subjects
of Arcadius and Honorius were instructed, by their respective
masters, to view each other in a foreign, and even hostile,
light; to rejoice in their mutual calamities, and to embrace, as
their faithful allies, the Barbarians, whom they excited to
invade the territories of their countrymen. ^35 The natives of
Italy affected to despise the servile and effeminate Greeks of
Byzantium, who presumed to imitate the dress, and to usurp the
dignity, of Roman senators; ^36 and the Greeks had not yet forgot
the sentiments of hatred and contempt, which their polished
ancestors had so long entertained for the rude inhabitants of the
West. The distinction of two governments, which soon produced
the separation of two nations, will justify my design of
suspending the series of the Byzantine history, to prosecute,
without interruption, the disgraceful, but memorable, reign of

[Footnote 33: See the beautiful exordium of his invective against
Rufinus, which is curiously discussed by the sceptic Bayle,
Dictionnaire Critique, Rufin. Not. E.]

[Footnote 34: See the Theodosian Code, l. ix. tit. xlii. leg. 14,
15. The new ministers attempted, with inconsistent avarice, to
seize the spoils of their predecessor, and to provide for their
own future security.]
[Footnote 35: See Claudian, (i. Cons. Stilich, l. i. 275, 292,
296, l. ii. 83,) and Zosimus, (l. v. p. 302.)]

[Footnote 36: Claudian turns the consulship of the eunuch
Eutropius into a national reflection, (l. ii. 134): -

- Plaudentem cerne senatum,
Et Byzantinos proceres Graiosque Quirites:
O patribus plebes, O digni consule patres.

It is curious to observe the first symptoms of jealousy and
schism between old and new Rome, between the Greeks and Latins.]

The prudent Stilicho, instead of persisting to force the
inclinations of a prince, and people, who rejected his
government, wisely abandoned Arcadius to his unworthy favorites;
and his reluctance to involve the two empires in a civil war
displayed the moderation of a minister, who had so often
signalized his military spirit and abilities. But if Stilicho
had any longer endured the revolt of Africa, he would have
betrayed the security of the capital, and the majesty of the
Western emperor, to the capricious insolence of a Moorish rebel.
Gildo, ^37 the brother of the tyrant Firmus, had preserved and
obtained, as the reward of his apparent fidelity, the immense
patrimony which was forfeited by treason: long and meritorious
service, in the armies of Rome, raised him to the dignity of a
military count; the narrow policy of the court of Theodosius had
adopted the mischievous expedient of supporting a legal
government by the interest of a powerful family; and the brother
of Firmus was invested with the command of Africa. His ambition
soon usurped the administration of justice, and of the finances,
without account, and without control; and he maintained, during a
reign of twelve years, the possession of an office, from which it
was impossible to remove him, without the danger of a civil war.
During those twelve years, the provinces of Africa groaned under
the dominion of a tyrant, who seemed to unite the unfeeling
temper of a stranger with the partial resentments of domestic
faction. The forms of law were often superseded by the use of
poison; and if the trembling guests, who were invited to the
table of Gildo, presumed to express fears, the insolent suspicion
served only to excite his fury, and he loudly summoned the
ministers of death. Gildo alternately indulged the passions of
avarice and lust; ^38 and if his days were terrible to the rich,
his nights were not less dreadful to husbands and parents. The
fairest of their wives and daughters were prostituted to the
embraces of the tyrant; and afterwards abandoned to a ferocious
troop of Barbarians and assassins, the black, or swarthy, natives
of the desert; whom Gildo considered as the only of his throne.
In the civil war between Theodosius and Eugenius, the count, or
rather the sovereign, of Africa, maintained a haughty and
suspicious neutrality; refused to assist either of the contending
parties with troops or vessels, expected the declaration of
fortune, and reserved for the conqueror the vain professions of
his allegiance. Such professions would not have satisfied the
master of the Roman world; but the death of Theodosius, and the
weakness and discord of his sons, confirmed the power of the
Moor; who condescended, as a proof of his moderation, to abstain
from the use of the diadem, and to supply Rome with the customary
tribute, or rather subsidy, of corn. In every division of the
empire, the five provinces of Africa were invariably assigned to
the West; and Gildo had to govern that extensive country in the
name of Honorius, but his knowledge of the character and designs
of Stilicho soon engaged him to address his homage to a more
distant and feeble sovereign. The ministers of Arcadius embraced
the cause of a perfidious rebel; and the delusive hope of adding
the numerous cities of Africa to the empire of the East, tempted
them to assert a claim, which they were incapable of supporting,
either by reason or by arms. ^39

[Footnote 37: Claudian may have exaggerated the vices of Gildo;
but his Moorish extraction, his notorious actions, and the
complaints of St. Augustin, may justify the poet's invectives.
Baronius (Annal. Eccles. A.D. 398, No. 35 - 56) has treated the
African rebellion with skill and learning.]

[Footnote 38: Instat terribilis vivis, morientibus haeres,
Virginibus raptor, thalamis obscoenus adulter.
Nulla quies: oritur praeda cessante libido,
Divitibusque dies, et nox metuenda maritis.
- Mauris clarissima quaeque
Fastidita datur.

De Bello Gildonico, 165, 189.

Baronius condemns, still more severely, the licentiousness of
Gildo; as his wife, his daughter, and his sister, were examples
of perfect chastity. The adulteries of the African soldiers are
checked by one of the Imperial laws.]

[Footnote 39: Inque tuam sortem numerosas transtulit urbes.
Claudian (de Bell. Gildonico, 230 - 324) has touched, with
political delicacy, the intrigues of the Byzantine court, which
are likewise mentioned by Zosimus, (l. v. p. 302.)]

When Stilicho had given a firm and decisive answer to the
pretensions of the Byzantine court, he solemnly accused the
tyrant of Africa before the tribunal, which had formerly judged
the kings and nations of the earth; and the image of the republic
was revived, after a long interval, under the reign of Honorius.
The emperor transmitted an accurate and ample detail of the
complaints of the provincials, and the crimes of Gildo, to the
Roman senate; and the members of that venerable assembly were
required to pronounce the condemnation of the rebel. Their
unanimous suffrage declared him the enemy of the republic; and
the decree of the senate added a sacred and legitimate sanction
to the Roman arms. ^40 A people, who still remembered that their
ancestors had been the masters of the world, would have
applauded, with conscious pride, the representation of ancient
freedom; if they had not since been accustomed to prefer the
solid assurance of bread to the unsubstantial visions of liberty
and greatness. The subsistence of Rome depended on the harvests
of Africa; and it was evident, that a declaration of war would be
the signal of famine. The praefect Symmachus, who presided in
the deliberations of the senate, admonished the minister of his
just apprehension, that as soon as the revengeful Moor should
prohibit the exportation of corn, the and perhaps the safety, of
the capital would be threatened by the hungry rage of a turbulent
multitude. ^41 The prudence of Stilicho conceived and executed,
without delay, the most effectual measure for the relief of the
Roman people. A large and seasonable supply of corn, collected
in the inland provinces of Gaul, was embarked on the rapid stream
of the Rhone, and transported, by an easy navigation, from the
Rhone to the Tyber. During the whole term of the African war,
the granaries of Rome were continually filled, her dignity was
vindicated from the humiliating dependence, and the minds of an
immense people were quieted by the calm confidence of peace and
plenty. ^42

[Footnote 40: Symmachus (l. iv. epist. 4) expresses the judicial
forms of the senate; and Claudian (i. Cons. Stilich. l. i. 325,
&c.) seems to feel the spirit of a Roman.]

[Footnote 41: Claudian finely displays these complaints of
Symmachus, in a speech of the goddess of Rome, before the throne
of Jupiter, (de Bell Gildon. 28 - 128.)]

[Footnote 42: See Claudian (in Eutrop. l. i 401, &c. i. Cons.
Stil. l. i. 306, &c. i. Cons. Stilich. 91, &c.)]

The cause of Rome, and the conduct of the African war, were
intrusted by Stilicho to a general, active and ardent to avenge
his private injuries on the head of the tyrant. The spirit of
discord which prevailed in the house of Nabal, had excited a
deadly quarrel between two of his sons, Gildo and Mascezel. ^43
The usurper pursued, with implacable rage, the life of his
younger brother, whose courage and abilities he feared; and
Mascezel, oppressed by superior power, refuge in the court of
Milan, where he soon received the cruel intelligence that his two
innocent and helpless children had been murdered by their inhuman
uncle. The affliction of the father was suspended only by the
desire of revenge. The vigilant Stilicho already prepared to
collect the naval and military force of the Western empire; and
he had resolved, if the tyrant should be able to wage an equal
and doubtful war, to march against him in person. But as Italy
required his presence, and as it might be dangerous to weaken the
of the frontier, he judged it more advisable, that Mascezel
should attempt this arduous adventure at the head of a chosen
body of Gallic veterans, who had lately served exhorted to
convince the world that they could subvert, as well as defend the
throne of a usurper, consisted of the Jovian, the Herculian, and
the Augustan legions; of the Nervian auxiliaries; of the soldiers
who displayed in their banners the symbol of a lion, and of the
troops which were distinguished by the auspicious names of
Fortunate, and Invincible. Yet such was the smallness of their
establishments, or the difficulty of recruiting, that these seven
bands, ^44 of high dignity and reputation in the service of Rome,
amounted to no more than five thousand effective men. ^45 The
fleet of galleys and transports sailed in tempestuous weather
from the port of Pisa, in Tuscany, and steered their course to
the little island of Capraria; which had borrowed that name from
the wild goats, its original inhabitants, whose place was
occupied by a new colony of a strange and savage appearance.
"The whole island (says an ingenious traveller of those times) is
filled, or rather defiled, by men who fly from the light. They
call themselves Monks, or solitaries, because they choose to live
alone, without any witnesses of their actions. They fear the
gifts of fortune, from the apprehension of losing them; and, lest
they should be miserable, they embrace a life of voluntary
wretchedness. How absurd is their choice! how perverse their
understanding! to dread the evils, without being able to support
the blessings, of the human condition. Either this melancholy
madness is the effect of disease, or exercise on their own bodies
the tortures which are inflicted on fugitive slaves by the hand
of justice." ^46 Such was the contempt of a profane magistrate
for the monks as the chosen servants of God. ^47 Some of them
were persuaded, by his entreaties, to embark on board the fleet;
and it is observed, to the praise of the Roman general, that his
days and nights were employed in prayer, fasting, and the
occupation of singing psalms. The devout leader, who, with such
a reenforcement, appeared confident of victory, avoided the
dangerous rocks of Corsica, coasted along the eastern side of
Sardinia, and secured his ships against the violence of the south
wind, by casting anchor in the and capacious harbor of Cagliari,
at the distance of one hundred and forty miles from the African
shores. ^48

[Footnote 43: He was of a mature age; since he had formerly (A.D.
373) served against his brother Firmus (Ammian. xxix. 5.)
Claudian, who understood the court of Milan, dwells on the
injuries, rather than the merits, of Mascezel, (de Bell. Gild.
389 - 414.) The Moorish war was not worthy of Honorius, or
Stilicho, &c.]

[Footnote 44: Claudian, Bell. Gild. 415 - 423. The change of
discipline allowed him to use indifferently the names of Legio
Cohors, Manipulus. See Notitia Imperii, S. 38, 40.]

[Footnote 45: Orosius (l. vii. c. 36, p. 565) qualifies this
account with an expression of doubt, (ut aiunt;) and it scarcely
coincides with Zosimus, (l. v. p. 303.) Yet Claudian, after some
declamation about Cadmus, soldiers, frankly owns that Stilicho
sent a small army lest the rebels should fly, ne timeare times,
(i. Cons. Stilich. l. i. 314 &c.)]

[Footnote 46: Claud. Rutil. Numatian. Itinerar. i. 439 - 448. He
afterwards (515 - 526) mentions a religious madman on the Isle of
Gorgona. For such profane remarks, Rutilius and his accomplices
are styled, by his commentator, Barthius, rabiosi canes diaboli.
Tillemont (Mem. Eccles com. xii. p. 471) more calmly observes,
that the unbelieving poet praises where he means to censure.]
[Footnote 47: Orosius, l. vii. c. 36, p. 564. Augustin commends
two of these savage saints of the Isle of Goats, (epist. lxxxi.
apud Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. tom. xiii. p. 317, and Baronius,
Annal Eccles. A.D. 398 No. 51.)]
[Footnote 48: Here the first book of the Gildonic war is
terminated. The rest of Claudian's poem has been lost; and we
are ignorant how or where the army made good their landing in

Gildo was prepared to resist the invasion with all the
forces of Africa. By the liberality of his gifts and promises, he
endeavored to secure the doubtful allegiance of the Roman
soldiers, whilst he attracted to his standard the distant tribes
of Gaetulia and Aethiopia. He proudly reviewed an army of
seventy thousand men, and boasted, with the rash presumption
which is the forerunner of disgrace, that his numerous cavalry
would trample under their horses' feet the troops of Mascezel,
and involve, in a cloud of burning sand, the natives of the cold
regions of Gaul and Germany. ^49 But the Moor, who commanded the
legions of Honorius, was too well acquainted with the manners of
his countrymen, to entertain any serious apprehension of a naked
and disorderly host of Barbarians; whose left arm, instead of a
shield, was protected only by mantle; who were totally disarmed
as soon as they had darted their javelin from their right hand;
and whose horses had never He fixed his camp of five thousand
veterans in the face of a superior enemy, and, after the delay of
three days, gave the signal of a general engagement. ^50 As
Mascezel advanced before the front with fair offers of peace and
pardon, he encountered one of the foremost standard-bearers of
the Africans, and, on his refusal to yield, struck him on the arm
with his sword. The arm, and the standard, sunk under the weight
of the blow; and the imaginary act of submission was hastily
repeated by all the standards of the line. At this the
disaffected cohorts proclaimed the name of their lawful
sovereign; the Barbarians, astonished by the defection of their
Roman allies, dispersed, according to their custom, in tumultuary
flight; and Mascezel obtained the of an easy, and almost
bloodless, victory. ^51 The tyrant escaped from the field of
battle to the sea-shore; and threw himself into a small vessel,
with the hope of reaching in safety some friendly port of the
empire of the East; but the obstinacy of the wind drove him back
into the harbor of Tabraca, ^52 which had acknowledged, with the
rest of the province, the dominion of Honorius, and the authority
of his lieutenant. The inhabitants, as a proof of their
repentance and loyalty, seized and confined the person of Gildo
in a dungeon; and his own despair saved him from the intolerable
torture of supporting the presence of an injured and victorious
brother. ^53 The captives and the spoils of Africa were laid at
the feet of the emperor; but more sincere, in the midst of
prosperity, still affected to consult the laws of the republic;
and referred to the senate and people of Rome the judgment of the
most illustrious criminals. ^54 Their trial was public and
solemn; but the judges, in the exercise of this obsolete and
precarious jurisdiction, were impatient to punish the African
magistrates, who had intercepted the subsistence of the Roman
people. The rich and guilty province was oppressed by the
Imperial ministers, who had a visible interest to multiply the
number of the accomplices of Gildo; and if an edict of Honorius
seems to check the malicious industry of informers, a subsequent
edict, at the distance of ten years, continues and renews the
prosecution of the which had been committed in the time of the
general rebellion. ^55 The adherents of the tyrant who escaped
the first fury of the soldiers, and the judges, might derive some
consolation from the tragic fate of his brother, who could never
obtain his pardon for the extraordinary services which he had
performed. After he had finished an important war in the space
of a single winter, Mascezel was received at the court of Milan
with loud applause, affected gratitude, and secret jealousy; ^56
and his death, which, perhaps, was the effect of passage of a
bridge, the Moorish prince, who accompanied the master-general of
the West, was suddenly thrown from his horse into the river; the
officious haste of the attendants was on the countenance of
Stilicho; and while they delayed the necessary assistance, the
unfortunate Mascezel was irrecoverably drowned. ^57

[Footnote 49: Orosius must be responsible for the account. The
presumption of Gildo and his various train of Barbarians is
celebrated by Claudian, Cons. Stil. l. i. 345 - 355.]

[Footnote 50: St. Ambrose, who had been dead about a year,
revealed, in a vision, the time and place of the victory.
Mascezel afterwards related his dream to Paulinus, the original
biographer of the saint, from whom it might easily pass to

[Footnote 51: Zosimus (l. v. p. 303) supposes an obstinate
combat; but the narrative of Orosius appears to conceal a real
fact, under the disguise of a miracle.]

[Footnote 52: Tabraca lay between the two Hippos, (Cellarius,
tom. ii. p. 112; D'Anville, tom. iii. p. 84.) Orosius has
distinctly named the field of battle, but our ignorance cannot
define the precise situation.]

[Footnote 53: The death of Gildo is expressed by Claudian (i.
Cons. Stil. 357) and his best interpreters, Zosimus and Orosius.]

[Footnote 54: Claudian (ii. Cons. Stilich. 99 - 119) describes
their trial (tremuit quos Africa nuper, cernunt rostra reos,) and
applauds the restoration of the ancient constitution. It is here
that he introduces the famous sentence, so familiar to the
friends of despotism:

- Nunquam libertas gratior exstat,
Quam sub rege pio.

But the freedom which depends on royal piety, scarcely deserves

[Footnote 55: See the Theodosian Code, l. ix. tit. xxxix. leg. 3,
tit. xl. leg. 19.]

[Footnote 56: Stilicho, who claimed an equal share in all the
victories of Theodosius and his son, particularly asserts, that
Africa was recovered by the wisdom of his counsels, (see an
inscription produced by Baronius.)]
[Footnote 57: I have softened the narrative of Zosimus, which, in
its crude simplicity, is almost incredible, (l. v. p. 303.)
Orosius damns the victorious general (p. 538) for violating the
right of sanctuary.]
The joy of the African triumph was happily connected with
the nuptials of the emperor Honorius, and of his cousin Maria,
the daughter of Stilicho: and this equal and honorable alliance
seemed to invest the powerful minister with the authority of a
parent over his submissive pupil. The muse of Claudian was not
silent on this propitious day; ^58 he sung, in various and lively
strains, the happiness of the royal pair; and the glory of the
hero, who confirmed their union, and supported their throne. The
ancient fables of Greece, which had almost ceased to be the
object of religious faith, were saved from oblivion by the genius
of poetry. The picture of the Cyprian grove, the seat of harmony
and love; the triumphant progress of Venus over her native seas,
and the mild influence which her presence diffused in the palace
of Milan, express to every age the natural sentiments of the
heart, in the just and pleasing language of allegorical fiction.
But the amorous impatience which Claudian attributes to the young
prince, ^59 must excite the smiles of the court; and his
beauteous spouse (if she deserved the praise of beauty) had not
much to fear or to hope from the passions of her lover. Honorius
was only in the fourteenth year of his age; Serena, the mother of
his bride, deferred, by art of persuasion, the consummation of
the royal nuptials; Maria died a virgin, after she had been ten
years a wife; and the chastity of the emperor was secured by the
coldness, perhaps, the debility,of his constitution. ^60 His
subjects, who attentively studied the character of their young
sovereign, discovered that Honorius was without passions, and
consequently without talents; and that his feeble and languid
disposition was alike incapable of discharging the duties of his
rank, or of enjoying the pleasures of his age. In his early
youth he made some progress in the exercises of riding and
drawing the bow: but he soon relinquished these fatiguing
occupations, and the amusement of feeding poultry became the
serious and daily care of the monarch of the West, ^61 who
resigned the reins of empire to the firm and skilful hand of his
guardian Stilicho. The experience of history will countenance
the suspicion that a prince who was born in the purple, received
a worse education than the meanest peasant of his dominions; and
that the ambitious minister suffered him to attain the age of
manhood, without attempting to excite his courage, or to
enlighten his under standing. ^62 The predecessors of Honorius
were accustomed to animate by their example, or at least by their
presence, the valor of the legions; and the dates of their laws
attest the perpetual activity of their motions through the
provinces of the Roman world. But the son of Theodosius passed
the slumber of his life, a captive in his palace, a stranger in
his country, and the patient, almost the indifferent, spectator
of the ruin of the Western empire, which was repeatedly attacked,
and finally subverted, by the arms of the Barbarians. In the
eventful history of a reign of twenty-eight years, it will seldom
be necessary to mention the name of the emperor Honorius.
[Footnote 58: Claudian,as the poet laureate, composed a serious
and elaborate epithalamium of 340 lines; besides some gay
Fescennines, which were sung, in a more licentious tone, on the
wedding night.]
[Footnote 59: - Calet obvius ire
Jam princeps, tardumque cupit discedere solem.

Nobilis haud aliter sonipes.

(De Nuptiis Honor. et Mariae, and more freely in the Fescennines
112 - 116)
Dices, O quoties,hoc mihi dulcius
Quam flavos decics vincere Sarmatas.


Tum victor madido prosilias toro,
Nocturni referens vulnera proelii.

[Footnote 60: See Zosimus, l. v. p. 333.]

[Footnote 61: Procopius de Bell. Gothico, l. i. c. 2. I have
borrowed the general practice of Honorius, without adopting the
singular, and indeed improbable tale, which is related by the
Greek historian.]
[Footnote 62: The lessons of Theodosius, or rather Claudian, (iv.
Cons. Honor 214 - 418,) might compose a fine institution for the
future prince of a great and free nation. It was far above
Honorius, and his degenerate subjects.]

Chapter XXX: Revolt Of The Goths.

Part I.

Revolt Of The Goths. - They Plunder Greece. - Two Great
Invasions Of Italy By Alaric And Radagaisus. - They Are Repulsed
By Stilicho. - The Germans Overrun Gaul. - Usurpation Of
Constantine In The West. - Disgrace And Death Of Stilicho.
If the subjects of Rome could be ignorant of their
obligations to the great Theodosius, they were too soon
convinced, how painfully the spirit and abilities of their
deceased emperor had supported the frail and mouldering edifice
of the republic. He died in the month of January; and before the
end of the winter of the same year, the Gothic nation was in
arms. ^1 The Barbarian auxiliaries erected their independent
standard; and boldly avowed the hostile designs, which they had
long cherished in their ferocious minds. Their countrymen, who
had been condemned, by the conditions of the last treaty, to a
life of tranquility and labor, deserted their farms at the first
sound of the trumpet; and eagerly resumed the weapons which they
had reluctantly laid down. The barriers of the Danube were
thrown open; the savage warriors of Scythia issued from their
forests; and the uncommon severity of the winter allowed the poet
to remark, "that they rolled their ponderous wagons over the
broad and icy back of the indignant river." ^2 The unhappy
natives of the provinces to the south of the Danube submitted to
the calamities, which, in the course of twenty years, were almost
grown familiar to their imagination; and the various troops of
Barbarians, who gloried in the Gothic name, were irregularly
spread from woody shores of Dalmatia, to the walls of
Constantinople. ^3 The interruption, or at least the diminution,
of the subsidy, which the Goths had received from the prudent
liberality of Theodosius, was the specious pretence of their
revolt: the affront was imbittered by their contempt for the
unwarlike sons of Theodosius; and their resentment was inflamed
by the weakness, or treachery, of the minister of Arcadius. The
frequent visits of Rufinus to the camp of the Barbarians whose
arms and apparel he affected to imitate, were considered as a
sufficient evidence of his guilty correspondence, and the public
enemy, from a motive either of gratitude or of policy, was
attentive, amidst the general devastation, to spare the private
estates of the unpopular praefect. The Goths, instead of being
impelled by the blind and headstrong passions of their chiefs,
were now directed by the bold and artful genius of Alaric. That
renowned leader was descended from the noble race of the Balti;
^4 which yielded only to the royal dignity of the Amali: he had
solicited the command of the Roman armies; and the Imperial court
provoked him to demonstrate the folly of their refusal, and the
importance of their loss. Whatever hopes might be entertained of
the conquest of Constantinople, the judicious general soon
abandoned an impracticable enterprise. In the midst of a divided
court and a discontented people, the emperor Arcadius was
terrified by the aspect of the Gothic arms; but the want of
wisdom and valor was supplied by the strength of the city; and
the fortifications, both of the sea and land, might securely
brave the impotent and random darts of the Barbarians. Alaric
disdained to trample any longer on the prostrate and ruined
countries of Thrace and Dacia, and he resolved to seek a
plentiful harvest of fame and riches in a province which had
hitherto escaped the ravages of war. ^5

[Footnote 1: The revolt of the Goths, and the blockade of
Constantinople, are distinctly mentioned by Claudian, (in Rufin.
l. ii. 7 - 100,) Zosimus, (l. v. 292,) and Jornandes, (de Rebus
Geticis, c. 29.)]
[Footnote 2: - Alii per toga ferocis
Danubii solidata ruunt; expertaque remis
Frangunt stagna rotis.

Claudian and Ovid often amuse their fancy by interchanging the
metaphors and properties of liquid water, and solid ice. Much
false wit has been expended in this easy exercise.]

[Footnote 3: Jerom, tom. i. p. 26. He endeavors to comfort his
friend Heliodorus, bishop of Altinum, for the loss of his nephew,
Nepotian, by a curious recapitulation of all the public and
private misfortunes of the times. See Tillemont, Mem. Eccles.
tom. xii. p. 200, &c.]
[Footnote 4: Baltha or bold: origo mirifica, says Jornandes, (c.
29.) This illustrious race long continued to flourish in France,
in the Gothic province of Septimania, or Languedoc; under the
corrupted appellation of Boax; and a branch of that family
afterwards settled in the kingdom of Naples (Grotius in Prolegom.
ad Hist. Gothic. p. 53.) The lords of Baux, near Arles, and of
seventy-nine subordinate places, were independent of the counts
of Provence, (Longuerue, Description de la France, tom. i. p.
[Footnote 5: Zosimus (l. v. p. 293 - 295) is our best guide for
the conquest of Greece: but the hints and allusion of Claudian
are so many rays of historic light.]

The character of the civil and military officers, on whom
Rufinus had devolved the government of Greece, confirmed the
public suspicion, that he had betrayed the ancient seat of
freedom and learning to the Gothic invader. The proconsul
Antiochus was the unworthy son of a respectable father; and
Gerontius, who commanded the provincial troops, was much better
qualified to execute the oppressive orders of a tyrant, than to
defend, with courage and ability, a country most remarkably
fortified by the hand of nature. Alaric had traversed, without
resistance, the plains of Macedonia and Thessaly, as far as the
foot of Mount Oeta, a steep and woody range of hills, almost
impervious to his cavalry. They stretched from east to west, to
the edge of the sea-shore; and left, between the precipice and
the Malian Gulf, an interval of three hundred feet, which, in
some places, was contracted to a road capable of admitting only a
single carriage. ^6 In this narrow pass of Thermopylae, where
Leonidas and the three hundred Spartans had gloriously devoted
their lives, the Goths might have been stopped, or destroyed, by
a skilful general; and perhaps the view of that sacred spot might
have kindled some sparks of military ardor in the breasts of the
degenerate Greeks. The troops which had been posted to defend
the Straits of Thermopylae, retired, as they were directed,
without attempting to disturb the secure and rapid passage of
Alaric; ^7 and the fertile fields of Phocis and Boeotia were
instantly covered by a deluge of Barbarians who massacred the
males of an age to bear arms, and drove away the beautiful
females, with the spoil and cattle of the flaming villages. The
travellers, who visited Greece several years afterwards, could
easily discover the deep and bloody traces of the march of the
Goths; and Thebes was less indebted for her preservation to the
strength of her seven gates, than to the eager haste of Alaric,
who advanced to occupy the city of Athens, and the important
harbor of the Piraeus. The same impatience urged him to prevent
the delay and danger of a siege, by the offer of a capitulation;
and as soon as the Athenians heard the voice of the Gothic
herald, they were easily persuaded to deliver the greatest part
of their wealth, as the ransom of the city of Minerva and its
inhabitants. The treaty was ratified by solemn oaths, and
observed with mutual fidelity. The Gothic prince, with a small
and select train, was admitted within the walls; he indulged
himself in the refreshment of the bath, accepted a splendid
banquet, which was provided by the magistrate, and affected to
show that he was not ignorant of the manners of civilized
nations. ^8 But the whole territory of Attica, from the
promontory of Sunium to the town of Megara, was blasted by his
baleful presence; and, if we may use the comparison of a
contemporary philosopher, Athens itself resembled the bleeding
and empty skin of a slaughtered victim. The distance between
Megara and Corinth could not much exceed thirty miles; but the
bad road, an expressive name, which it still bears among the
Greeks, was, or might easily have been made, impassable for the
march of an enemy. The thick and gloomy woods of Mount Cithaeron
covered the inland country; the Scironian rocks approached the
water's edge, and hung over the narrow and winding path, which
was confined above six miles along the sea-shore. ^9 The passage
of those rocks, so infamous in every age, was terminated by the
Isthmus of Corinth; and a small a body of firm and intrepid
soldiers might have successfully defended a temporary
intrenchment of five or six miles from the Ionian to the Aegean
Sea. The confidence of the cities of Peloponnesus in their
natural rampart, had tempted them to neglect the care of their
antique walls; and the avarice of the Roman governors had
exhausted and betrayed the unhappy province. ^10 Corinth, Argos,
Sparta, yielded without resistance to the arms of the Goths; and
the most fortunate of the inhabitants were saved, by death, from
beholding the slavery of their families and the conflagration of
their cities. ^11 The vases and statues were distributed among
the Barbarians, with more regard to the value of the materials,
than to the elegance of the workmanship; the female captives
submitted to the laws of war; the enjoyment of beauty was the
reward of valor; and the Greeks could not reasonably complain of
an abuse which was justified by the example of the heroic times.
^12 The descendants of that extraordinary people, who had
considered valor and discipline as the walls of Sparta, no longer
remembered the generous reply of their ancestors to an invader
more formidable than Alaric. "If thou art a god, thou wilt not
hurt those who have never injured thee; if thou art a man,
advance: - and thou wilt find men equal to thyself." ^13 From
Thermopylae to Sparta, the leader of the Goths pursued his
victorious march without encountering any mortal antagonists: but
one of the advocates of expiring Paganism has confidently
asserted, that the walls of Athens were guarded by the goddess
Minerva, with her formidable Aegis, and by the angry phantom of
Achilles; ^14 and that the conqueror was dismayed by the presence
of the hostile deities of Greece. In an age of miracles, it
would perhaps be unjust to dispute the claim of the historian
Zosimus to the common benefit: yet it cannot be dissembled, that
the mind of Alaric was ill prepared to receive, either in
sleeping or waking visions, the impressions of Greek
superstition. The songs of Homer, and the fame of Achilles, had
probably never reached the ear of the illiterate Barbarian; and
the Christian faith, which he had devoutly embraced, taught him
to despise the imaginary deities of Rome and Athens. The
invasion of the Goths, instead of vindicating the honor,
contributed, at least accidentally, to extirpate the last remains
of Paganism: and the mysteries of Ceres, which had subsisted
eighteen hundred years, did not survive the destruction of
Eleusis, and the calamities of Greece. ^15

[Footnote 6: Compare Herodotus (l. vii. c. 176) and Livy, (xxxvi.
15.) The narrow entrance of Greece was probably enlarged by each
successive ravisher.]

[Footnote 7: He passed, says Eunapius, (in Vit. Philosoph. p. 93,
edit. Commelin, 1596,) through the straits, of Thermopylae.]
[Footnote 8: In obedience to Jerom and Claudian, (in Rufin. l.
ii. 191,) I have mixed some darker colors in the mild
representation of Zosimus, who wished to soften the calamities of

Nec fera Cecropias traxissent vincula matres.

Synesius (Epist. clvi. p. 272, edit. Petav.) observes, that
Athens, whose sufferings he imputes to the proconsul's avarice,
was at that time less famous for her schools of philosophy than
for her trade of honey.]
[Footnote 9: - Vallata mari Scironia rupes,
Et duo continuo connectens aequora muro

Claudian de Bel. Getico, 188.

The Scironian rocks are described by Pausanias, (l. i. c.
44, p. 107, edit. Kuhn,) and our modern travellers, Wheeler (p.
436) and Chandler, (p. 298.) Hadrian made the road passable for
two carriages.]

[Footnote 10: Claudian (in Rufin. l. ii. 186, and de Bello
Getico, 611, &c.) vaguely, though forcibly, delineates the scene
of rapine and destruction.]
[Footnote 11: These generous lines of Homer (Odyss. l. v. 306)
were transcribed by one of the captive youths of Corinth: and the
tears of Mummius may prove that the rude conqueror, though he was
ignorant of the value of an original picture, possessed the
purest source of good taste, a benevolent heart, (Plutarch,
Symposiac. l. ix. tom. ii. p. 737, edit. Wechel.)]
[Footnote 12: Homer perpetually describes the exemplary patience
of those female captives, who gave their charms, and even their
hearts, to the murderers of their fathers, brothers, &c. Such a
passion (of Eriphile for Achilles) is touched with admirable
delicacy by Racine.]

[Footnote 13: Plutarch (in Pyrrho, tom. ii. p. 474, edit. Brian)
gives the genuine answer in the Laconic dialect. Pyrrhus
attacked Sparta with 25,000 foot, 2000 horse, and 24 elephants,
and the defence of that open town is a fine comment on the laws
of Lycurgus, even in the last stage of decay.]
[Footnote 14: Such, perhaps, as Homer (Iliad, xx. 164) had so
nobly painted him.]

[Footnote 15: Eunapius (in Vit. Philosoph. p. 90 - 93) intimates
that a troop of monks betrayed Greece, and followed the Gothic

Note: The expression is curious: Vit. Max. t. i. p. 53,
edit. Boissonade. - M.]

The last hope of a people who could no longer depend on
their arms, their gods, or their sovereign, was placed in the
powerful assistance of the general of the West; and Stilicho, who
had not been permitted to repulse, advanced to chastise, the
invaders of Greece. ^16 A numerous fleet was equipped in the
ports of Italy; and the troops, after a short and prosperous
navigation over the Ionian Sea, were safely disembarked on the
isthmus, near the ruins of Corinth. The woody and mountainous
country of Arcadia, the fabulous residence of Pan and the Dryads,
became the scene of a long and doubtful conflict between the two
generals not unworthy of each other. The skill and perseverance
of the Roman at length prevailed; and the Goths, after sustaining
a considerable loss from disease and desertion, gradually
retreated to the lofty mountain of Pholoe, near the sources of
the Peneus, and on the frontiers of Elis; a sacred country, which
had formerly been exempted from the calamities of war. ^17 The
camp of the Barbarians was immediately besieged; the waters of
the river ^18 were diverted into another channel; and while they
labored under the intolerable pressure of thirst and hunger, a
strong line of circumvallation was formed to prevent their
escape. After these precautions, Stilicho, too confident of
victory, retired to enjoy his triumph, in the theatrical games,
and lascivious dances, of the Greeks; his soldiers, deserting
their standards, spread themselves over the country of their
allies, which they stripped of all that had been saved from the
rapacious hands of the enemy. Alaric appears to have seized the
favorable moment to execute one of those hardy enterprises, in
which the abilities of a general are displayed with more genuine
lustre, than in the tumult of a day of battle. To extricate
himself from the prison of Peloponnesus, it was necessary that he
should pierce the intrenchments which surrounded his camp; that
he should perform a difficult and dangerous march of thirty
miles, as far as the Gulf of Corinth; and that he should
transport his troops, his captives, and his spoil, over an arm of
the sea, which, in the narrow interval between Rhium and the
opposite shore, is at least half a mile in breadth. ^19 The
operations of Alaric must have been secret, prudent, and rapid;
since the Roman general was confounded by the intelligence, that
the Goths, who had eluded his efforts, were in full possession of
the important province of Epirus. This unfortunate delay allowed
Alaric sufficient time to conclude the treaty, which he secretly
negotiated, with the ministers of Constantinople. The
apprehension of a civil war compelled Stilicho to retire, at the
haughty mandate of his rivals, from the dominions of Arcadius;
and he respected, in the enemy of Rome, the honorable character
of the ally and servant of the emperor of the East.

[Footnote 16: For Stilicho's Greek war, compare the honest
narrative of Zosimus (l. v. p. 295, 296) with the curious
circumstantial flattery of Claudian, (i. Cons. Stilich. l. i. 172
- 186, iv. Cons. Hon. 459 - 487.) As the event was not glorious,
it is artfully thrown into the shade.]
[Footnote 17: The troops who marched through Elis delivered up
their arms. This security enriched the Eleans, who were lovers of
a rural life. Riches begat pride: they disdained their
privilege, and they suffered. Polybius advises them to retire
once more within their magic circle. See a learned and judicious
discourse on the Olympic games, which Mr. West has prefixed to
his translation of Pindar.]

[Footnote 18: Claudian (in iv. Cons. Hon. 480) alludes to the
fact without naming the river; perhaps the Alpheus, (i. Cons.
Stil. l. i. 185.)
- Et Alpheus Geticis angustus acervis
Tardior ad Siculos etiamnum pergit amores.

Yet I should prefer the Peneus, a shallow stream in a wide and
deep bed, which runs through Elis, and falls into the sea below
Cyllene. It had been joined with the Alpheus to cleanse the
Augean stable. (Cellarius, tom. i. p. 760. Chandler's Travels,
p. 286.)]

[Footnote 19: Strabo, l. viii. p. 517. Plin. Hist. Natur. iv. 3.

Wheeler, p. 308. Chandler, p. 275. They measured from different
points the distance between the two lands.]

A Grecian philosopher, ^20 who visited Constantinople soon
after the death of Theodosius, published his liberal opinions
concerning the duties of kings, and the state of the Roman
republic. Synesius observes, and deplores, the fatal abuse,
which the imprudent bounty of the late emperor had introduced
into the military service. The citizens and subjects had
purchased an exemption from the indispensable duty of defending
their country; which was supported by the arms of Barbarian
mercenaries. The fugitives of Scythia were permitted to disgrace
the illustrious dignities of the empire; their ferocious youth,
who disdained the salutary restraint of laws, were more anxious
to acquire the riches, than to imitate the arts, of a people, the
object of their contempt and hatred; and the power of the Goths
was the stone of Tantalus, perpetually suspended over the peace
and safety of the devoted state. The measures which Synesius
recommends, are the dictates of a bold and generous patriot. He
exhorts the emperor to revive the courage of his subjects, by the
example of manly virtue; to banish luxury from the court and from
the camp; to substitute, in the place of the Barbarian
mercenaries, an army of men, interested in the defence of their
laws and of their property; to force, in such a moment of public
danger, the mechanic from his shop, and the philosopher from his
school; to rouse the indolent citizen from his dream of pleasure,
and to arm, for the protection of agriculture, the hands of the
laborious husbandman. At the head of such troops, who might
deserve the name, and would display the spirit, of Romans, he
animates the son of Theodosius to encounter a race of Barbarians,
who were destitute of any real courage; and never to lay down his
arms, till he had chased them far away into the solitudes of
Scythia; or had reduced them to the state of ignominious
servitude, which the Lacedaemonians formerly imposed on the
captive Helots. ^21 The court of Arcadius indulged the zeal,
applauded the eloquence, and neglected the advice, of Synesius.
Perhaps the philosopher who addresses the emperor of the East in
the language of reason and virtue, which he might have used to a
Spartan king, had not condescended to form a practicable scheme,
consistent with the temper, and circumstances, of a degenerate
age. Perhaps the pride of the ministers, whose business was
seldom interrupted by reflection, might reject, as wild and
visionary, every proposal, which exceeded the measure of their
capacity, and deviated from the forms and precedents of office.
While the oration of Synesius, and the downfall of the
Barbarians, were the topics of popular conversation, an edict was
published at Constantinople, which declared the promotion of
Alaric to the rank of master-general of the Eastern Illyricum.
The Roman provincials, and the allies, who had respected the
faith of treaties, were justly indignant, that the ruin of Greece
and Epirus should be so liberally rewarded. The Gothic conqueror
was received as a lawful magistrate, in the cities which he had
so lately besieged. The fathers, whose sons he had massacred,
the husbands, whose wives he had violated, were subject to his
authority; and the success of his rebellion encouraged the
ambition of every leader of the foreign mercenaries. The use to
which Alaric applied his new command, distinguishes the firm and
judicious character of his policy. He issued his orders to the
four magazines and manufactures of offensive and defensive arms,
Margus, Ratiaria, Naissus, and Thessalonica, to provide his
troops with an extraordinary supply of shields, helmets, swords,
and spears; the unhappy provincials were compelled to forge the
instruments of their own destruction; and the Barbarians removed
the only defect which had sometimes disappointed the efforts of
their courage. ^22 The birth of Alaric, the glory of his past
exploits, and the confidence in his future designs, insensibly
united the body of the nation under his victorious standard; and,
with the unanimous consent of the Barbarian chieftains, the
master-general of Illyricum was elevated, according to ancient
custom, on a shield, and solemnly proclaimed king of the
Visigoths. ^23 Armed with this double power, seated on the verge
of the two empires, he alternately sold his deceitful promises to
the courts of Arcadius and Honorius; ^24 till he declared and
executed his resolution of invading the dominions of the West.
The provinces of Europe which belonged to the Eastern emperor,
were already exhausted; those of Asia were inaccessible; and the
strength of Constantinople had resisted his attack. But he was
tempted by the fame, the beauty, the wealth of Italy, which he
had twice visited; and he secretly aspired to plant the Gothic
standard on the walls of Rome, and to enrich his army with the
accumulated spoils of three hundred triumphs. ^25

[Footnote 20: Synesius passed three years (A.D. 397 - 400) at
Constantinople, as deputy from Cyrene to the emperor Arcadius.
He presented him with a crown of gold, and pronounced before him
the instructive oration de Regno, (p. 1 - 32, edit. Petav. Paris,
1612.) The philosopher was made bishop of Ptolemais, A.D. 410,
and died about 430. See Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. tom. xii. p. 490,
554, 683 - 685.]
[Footnote 21: Synesius de Regno, p. 21 - 26.]

[Footnote 22: - qui foedera rumpit
Ditatur: qui servat, eget: vastator Achivae

Gentis, et Epirum nuper populatus inultam,

Praesidet Illyrico: jam, quos obsedit, amicos

Ingreditur muros; illis responsa daturus,

Quorum conjugibus potitur, natosque peremit.
Claudian in Eutrop. l. ii. 212. Alaric applauds his own policy
(de Bell Getic. 533 - 543) in the use which he had made of this
Illyrian jurisdiction.]

[Footnote 23: Jornandes, c. 29, p. 651. The Gothic historian
adds, with unusual spirit, Cum suis deliberans suasit suo labore
quaerere regna, quam alienis per otium subjacere.

- Discors odiisque anceps civilibus orbis,
Non sua vis tutata diu, dum foedera fallax
Ludit, et alternae perjuria venditat aulae.

Claudian de Bell. Get. 565]

[Footnote 25: Alpibus Italiae ruptis penetrabis ad Urbem.

This authentic prediction was announced by Alaric, or at
least by Claudian, (de Bell. Getico, 547,) seven years before the
event. But as it was not accomplished within the term which has
been rashly fixed the interpreters escaped through an ambiguous

The scarcity of facts, ^26 and the uncertainty of dates, ^27
oppose our attempts to describe the circumstances of the first
invasion of Italy by the arms of Alaric. His march, perhaps from
Thessalonica, through the warlike and hostile country of
Pannonia, as far as the foot of the Julian Alps; his passage of
those mountains, which were strongly guarded by troops and
intrenchments; the siege of Aquileia, and the conquest of the
provinces of Istria and Venetia, appear to have employed a
considerable time. Unless his operations were extremely cautious
and slow, the length of the interval would suggest a probable
suspicion, that the Gothic king retreated towards the banks of
the Danube; and reenforced his army with fresh swarms of
Barbarians, before he again attempted to penetrate into the heart
of Italy. Since the public and important events escape the
diligence of the historian, he may amuse himself with
contemplating, for a moment, the influence of the arms of Alaric
on the fortunes of two obscure individuals, a presbyter of
Aquileia and a husbandman of Verona. The learned Rufinus, who was
summoned by his enemies to appear before a Roman synod, ^28
wisely preferred the dangers of a besieged city; and the
Barbarians, who furiously shook the walls of Aquileia, might save
him from the cruel sentence of another heretic, who, at the
request of the same bishops, was severely whipped, and condemned
to perpetual exile on a desert island. ^29 The old man, ^30 who
had passed his simple and innocent life in the neighborhood of
Verona, was a stranger to the quarrels both of kings and of
bishops; his pleasures, his desires, his knowledge, were confined
within the little circle of his paternal farm; and a staff
supported his aged steps, on the same ground where he had sported
in his infancy. Yet even this humble and rustic felicity (which
Claudian describes with so much truth and feeling) was still
exposed to the undistinguishing rage of war. His trees, his old
contemporary trees, ^31 must blaze in the conflagration of the
whole country; a detachment of Gothic cavalry might sweep away
his cottage and his family; and the power of Alaric could destroy
this happiness, which he was not able either to taste or to
bestow. "Fame," says the poet, "encircling with terror her
gloomy wings, proclaimed the march of the Barbarian army, and
filled Italy with consternation:" the apprehensions of each
individual were increased in just proportion to the measure of
his fortune: and the most timid, who had already embarked their
valuable effects, meditated their escape to the Island of Sicily,
or the African coast. The public distress was aggravated by the
fears and reproaches of superstition. ^32 Every hour produced
some horrid tale of strange and portentous accidents; the Pagans
deplored the neglect of omens, and the interruption of
sacrifices; but the Christians still derived some comfort from
the powerful intercession of the saints and martyrs. ^33
[Footnote 26: Our best materials are 970 verses of Claudian in
the poem on the Getic war, and the beginning of that which
celebrates the sixth consulship of Honorius. Zosimus is totally
silent; and we are reduced to such scraps, or rather crumbs, as
we can pick from Orosius and the Chronicles.]
[Footnote 27: Notwithstanding the gross errors of Jornandes, who
confounds the Italian wars of Alaric, (c. 29,) his date of the
consulship of Stilicho and Aurelian (A.D. 400) is firm and
respectable. It is certain from Claudian (Tillemont, Hist. des
Emp. tom. v. p. 804) that the battle of Polentia was fought A.D.
403; but we cannot easily fill the interval.]

[Footnote 28: Tantum Romanae urbis judicium fugis, ut magis
obsidionem barbaricam, quam pacatoe urbis judicium velis
sustinere. Jerom, tom. ii. p. 239. Rufinus understood his own
danger; the peaceful city was inflamed by the beldam Marcella,
and the rest of Jerom's faction.]

[Footnote 29: Jovinian, the enemy of fasts and of celibacy, who
was persecuted and insulted by the furious Jerom, (Jortin's
Remarks, vol. iv. p. 104, &c.) See the original edict of
banishment in the Theodosian Code, xvi. tit. v. leg. 43.]

[Footnote 30: This epigram (de Sene Veronensi qui suburbium
nusquam egres sus est) is one of the earliest and most pleasing
compositions of Claudian. Cowley's imitation (Hurd's edition,
vol. ii. p. 241) has some natural and happy strokes: but it is
much inferior to the original portrait, which is evidently drawn
from the life.]

[Footnote 31: Ingentem meminit parvo qui germine quercum
Aequaevumque videt consenuisse nemus.
A neighboring wood born with himself he sees,

And loves his old contemporary trees.

In this passage, Cowley is perhaps superior to his original; and
the English poet, who was a good botanist, has concealed the oaks
under a more general expression.]

[Footnote 32: Claudian de Bell. Get. 199 - 266. He may seem
prolix: but fear and superstition occupied as large a space in
the minds of the Italians.]
[Footnote 33: From the passages of Paulinus, which Baronius has
produced, (Annal. Eccles. A.D. 403, No. 51,) it is manifest that
the general alarm had pervaded all Italy, as far as Nola in
Campania, where that famous penitent had fixed his abode.]
Chapter XXX: Revolt Of The Goths.

Part II.

The emperor Honorius was distinguished, above his subjects,
by the preeminence of fear, as well as of rank. The pride and
luxury in which he was educated, had not allowed him to suspect,
that there existed on the earth any power presumptuous enough to
invade the repose of the successor of Augustus. The arts of
flattery concealed the impending danger, till Alaric approached
the palace of Milan. But when the sound of war had awakened the
young emperor, instead of flying to arms with the spirit, or even
the rashness, of his age, he eagerly listened to those timid
counsellors, who proposed to convey his sacred person, and his
faithful attendants, to some secure and distant station in the
provinces of Gaul. Stilicho alone ^34 had courage and authority
to resist his disgraceful measure, which would have abandoned
Rome and Italy to the Barbarians; but as the troops of the palace
had been lately detached to the Rhaetian frontier, and as the
resource of new levies was slow and precarious, the general of
the West could only promise, that if the court of Milan would
maintain their ground during his absence, he would soon return
with an army equal to the encounter of the Gothic king. Without
losing a moment, (while each moment was so important to the
public safety,) Stilicho hastily embarked on the Larian Lake,
ascended the mountains of ice and snow, amidst the severity of an
Alpine winter, and suddenly repressed, by his unexpected
presence, the enemy, who had disturbed the tranquillity of
Rhaetia. ^35 The Barbarians, perhaps some tribes of the Alemanni,
respected the firmness of a chief, who still assumed the language
of command; and the choice which he condescended to make, of a
select number of their bravest youth, was considered as a mark of
his esteem and favor. The cohorts, who were delivered from the
neighboring foe, diligently repaired to the Imperial standard;
and Stilicho issued his orders to the most remote troops of the
West, to advance, by rapid marches, to the defence of Honorius
and of Italy. The fortresses of the Rhine were abandoned; and
the safety of Gaul was protected only by the faith of the
Germans, and the ancient terror of the Roman name. Even the
legion, which had been stationed to guard the wall of Britain
against the Caledonians of the North, was hastily recalled; ^36
and a numerous body of the cavalry of the Alani was persuaded to
engage in the service of the emperor, who anxiously expected the
return of his general. The prudence and vigor of Stilicho were
conspicuous on this occasion, which revealed, at the same time,
the weakness of the falling empire. The legions of Rome, which
had long since languished in the gradual decay of discipline and
courage, were exterminated by the Gothic and civil wars; and it
was found impossible, without exhausting and exposing the
provinces, to assemble an army for the defence of Italy.
[Footnote 34: Solus erat Stilicho, &c., is the exclusive
commendation which Claudian bestows, (del Bell. Get. 267,)
without condescending to except the emperor. How insignificant
must Honorius have appeared in his own court.]
[Footnote 35: The face of the country, and the hardiness of
Stilicho, are finely described, (de Bell. Get. 340 - 363.)]
[Footnote 36: Venit et extremis legio praetenta Britannis,

Quae Scoto dat frena truci.

De Bell. Get. 416.

Yet the most rapid march from Edinburgh, or Newcastle, to Milan,
must have required a longer space of time than Claudian seems
willing to allow for the duration of the Gothic war.]

Chapter XXX: Revolt Of The Goths.

Part III.

When Stilicho seemed to abandon his sovereign in the
unguarded palace of Milan, he had probably calculated the term of


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