lunes, 16 de febrero de 2009


¡Atención! El anónimo podría ser un niño


castral.los a todos, como a mi pilbul, que va como una seda
anonimos somos todos
Hijo de la gran puta!!!
Vaya hostia que tiene el niño
Creo que el padre del anónimo debería pegarle (al ídem) una observación.
eso é ilegá
pero e menesté
lo de capar al mostrenco hijoputa este me parece buena idea
Teneis que ver a mi pilbul, con su cofia y su plumero, tan mono, arreglando la casa, anunciando a las visitas, con unos modales, un estilo...
Un serie española

Se llama el hipnotisador. Aparece él en un club de noche con los amigo y dice uno que no toca una polla en su vida ni aunque lo apunten con la pistola. El actor dice que le mire a los ojos y lo repita y lo hipnotisa y el amigo le hase la felacion en el miembro viril delante de todo. Luego lo contrata la cia para resolber un crimen. Los créditos son con espirales. Al final primer plano de su cara con las gafas.
Sa cagao por la patabaho anca lagüela
No aserle caso que mu pesao to lo dia encaramao la puerta loh shimpansé der solohico de heré asiendose paha enfrente lo niño ustede no sabei lo que eso un homosesua que acosa la muhere cuando se levanta
er valensia e mehón
po lah casha der canservero
History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire

Vol. 1 (of 6)

by Edward Gibbon, Esq.

With notes by the Rev. H. H. Milman

1782 (Written), 1845 (Revised)


Preface By The Editor.

The great work of Gibbon is indispensable to the student of
history. The literature of Europe offers no substitute for "The
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." It has obtained undisputed
possession, as rightful occupant, of the vast period which it
comprehends. However some subjects, which it embraces, may have
undergone more complete investigation, on the general view of the
whole period, this history is the sole undisputed authority to
which all defer, and from which few appeal to the original
writers, or to more modern compilers. The inherent interest of
the subject, the inexhaustible labor employed upon it; the immense
condensation of matter; the luminous arrangement; the general
accuracy; the style, which, however monotonous from its uniform
stateliness, and sometimes wearisome from its elaborate ar., is
throughout vigorous, animated, often picturesque always commands
attention, always conveys its meaning with emphatic energy,
describes with singular breadth and fidelity, and generalizes with
unrivalled felicity of expression; all these high qualifications
have secured, and seem likely to secure, its permanent place in
historic literature.

This vast design of Gibbon, the magnificent whole into which he
has cast the decay and ruin of the ancient civilization, the
formation and birth of the new order of things, will of itself,
independent of the laborious execution of his immense plan, render
"The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" an unapproachable
subject to the future historian: ^* in the eloquent language of
his recent French editor, M. Guizot: - [Footnote * A considerable
portion of this preface has already appeared before us public in
the Quarterly Review.

"The gradual decline of the most extraordinary dominion which has
ever invaded and oppressed the world; the fall of that immense
empire, erected on the ruins of so many kingdoms, republics, and
states both barbarous and civilized; and forming in its turn, by
its dismemberment, a multitude of states, republics, and kingdoms;
the annihilation of the religion of Greece and Rome; the birth and
the progress of the two new religions which have shared the most
beautiful regions of the earth; the decrepitude of the ancient

world, the spectacle of its expiring glory and degenerate manners;
the infancy of the modern world, the picture of its first
progress, of the new direction given to the mind and character of
man - such a subject must necessarily fix the attention and excite
the interest of men, who cannot behold with indifference those
memorable epochs, during which, in the fine language of Corneille

'Un grand destin commence, un grand destin s'acheve.'" This extent
and harmony of design is unquestionably that which distinguishes
the work of Gibbon from all other great historical compositions.
He has first bridged the abyss between ancient and modern times,
and connected together the two great worlds of history. The great
advantage which the classical historians possess over those of
modern times is in unity of plan, of course greatly facilitated by
the narrower sphere to which their researches were confined.
Except Herodotus, the great historians of Greece - we exclude the
more modern compilers, like Diodorus Siculus - limited themselves
to a single period, or at 'east to the contracted sphere of
Grecian affairs. As far as the Barbarians trespassed within the
Grecian boundary, or were necessarily mingled up with Grecian
politics, they were admitted into the pale of Grecian history; but
to Thucydides and to Xenophon, excepting in the Persian inroad of
the latter, Greece was the world. Natural unity confined their
narrative almost to chronological order, the episodes were of rare
occurrence and extremely brief. To the Roman historians the
course was equally clear and defined. Rome was their centre of
unity; and the uniformity with which the circle of the Roman
dominion spread around, the regularity with which their civil
polity expanded, forced, as it were, upon the Roman historian that
plan which Polybius announces as the subject of his history, the
means and the manner by which the whole world became subject to
the Roman sway. How different the complicated politics of the
European kingdoms! Every national history, to be complete, must,
in a certain sense, be the history of Europe; there is no knowing
to how remote a quarter it may be necessary to trace our most
domestic events; from a country, how apparently disconnected, may
originate the impulse which gives its direction to the whole
course of affairs.

In imitation of his classical models, Gibbon places Rome as the
cardinal point from which his inquiries diverge, and to which they
bear constant reference; yet how immeasurable the space over which
those inquiries range; how complicated, how confused, how
apparently inextricable the causes which tend to the decline of
the Roman empire! how countless the nations which swarm forth, in
mingling and indistinct hordes, constantly changing the
geographical limits - incessantly confounding the natural
boundaries! At first sight, the whole period, the whole state of
the world, seems to offer no more secure footing to an historical
adventurer than the chaos of Milton -to be in a state of

irreclaimable disorder, best described in the language of the

- "A dark Illimitable ocean, without bound, Without dimension,
where length, breadth, and height, And time, and place, are lost:
where eldest Night And Chaos, ancestors of Nature, hold Eternal
anarchy, amidst the noise Of endless wars, and by confusion
We feel that the unity and harmony of narrative, which shall
comprehend this period of social disorganization, must be ascribed
entirely to the skill and luminous disposition of the historian.
It is in this sublime Gothic architecture of his work, in which
the boundless range, the infinite variety, the, at first sight,
incongruous gorgeousness of the separate parts, nevertheless are
all subordinate to one main and predominant idea, that Gibbon is
unrivalled. We cannot but admire the manner in which he masses
his materials, and arranges his facts in successive groups, not
according to chronological order, but to their moral or political
connection; the distinctness with which he marks his periods of
gradually increasing decay; and the skill with which, though
advancing on separate parallels of history, he shows the common
tendency of the slower or more rapid religious or civil
innovations. However these principles of composition may demand
more than ordinary attention on the part of the reader, they can
alone impress upon the memory the real course, and the relative
importance of the events. Whoever would justly appreciate the
superiority of Gibbon's lucid arrangement, should attempt to make
his way through the regular but wearisome annals of Tillemont, or
even the less ponderous volumes of Le Beau. Both these writers
adhere, almost entirely, to chronological order; the consequence
is, that we are twenty times called upon to break off, and resume
the thread of six or eight wars in different parts of the empire;
to suspend the operations of a military expedition for a court
intrigue; to hurry away from a siege to a council; and the same
page places us in the middle of a campaign against the barbarians,
and in the depths of the Monophysite controversy. In Gibbon it is
not always easy to bear in mind the exact dates but the course of
events is ever clear and distinct; like a skilful general, though
his troops advance from the most remote and opposite quarters,
they are constantly bearing down and concentrating themselves on
one point - that which is still occupied by the name, and by the
waning power of Rome. Whether he traces the progress of hostile
religions, or leads from the shores of the Baltic, or the verge of
the Chinese empire, the successive hosts of barbarians - though
one wave has hardly burst and discharged itself, before another
swells up and approaches -all is made to flow in the same
direction, and the impression which each makes upon the tottering
fabric of the Roman greatness, connects their distant movements,
and measures the relative importance assigned to them in the
panoramic history. The more peaceful and didactic episodes on the
development of the Roman law, or even on the details of

ecclesiastical history, interpose themselves as resting-places or
divisions between the periods of barbaric invasion. In short,
though distracted first by the two capitals, and afterwards by the
formal partition of the empire, the extraordinary felicity of
arrangement maintains an order and a regular progression. As our
horizon expands to reveal to us the gathering tempests which are
forming far beyond the boundaries of the civilized world - as we
follow their successive approach to the trembling frontier - the
compressed and receding line is still distinctly visible; though
gradually dismembered and the broken fragments assuming the form
of regular states and kingdoms, the real relation of those
kingdoms to the empire is maintained and defined; and even when
the Roman dominion has shrunk into little more than the province
of Thrace - when the name of Rome, confined, in Italy, to the
walls of the city - yet it is still the memory, the shade of the
Roman greatness, which extends over the wide sphere into which the
historian expands his later narrative; the whole blends into the
unity, and is manifestly essential to the double catastrophe of
his tragic drama.

But the amplitude, the magnificence, or the harmony of design,
are, though imposing, yet unworthy claims on our admiration,
unless the details are filled up with correctness and accuracy.
No writer has been more severely tried on this point than Gibbon.
He has undergone the triple scrutiny of theological zeal quickened
by just resentment, of literary emulation, and of that mean and
invidious vanity which delights in detecting errors in writers of
established fame. On the result of the trial, we may be permitted
to summon competent witnesses before we deliver our own judgment.

M. Guizot, in his preface, after stating that in France and
Germany, as well as in England, in the most enlightened countries
of Europe, Gibbon is constantly cited as an authority, thus
"I have had occasion, during my labors, to consult the writings of
philosophers, who have treated on the finances of the Roman
empire; of scholars, who have investigated the chronology; of
theologians, who have searched the depths of ecclesiastical
history; of writers on law, who have studied with care the Roman
jurisprudence; of Orientalists, who have occupied themselves with
the Arabians and the Koran; of modern historians, who have entered
upon extensive researches touching the crusades and their
influence; each of these writers has remarked and pointed out, in
the 'History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,' some
negligences, some false or imperfect views some omissions, which
it is impossible not to suppose voluntary; they have rectified
some facts combated with advantage some assertions; but in general
they have taken the researches and the ideas of Gibbon, as points
of departure, or as proofs of the researches or of the new
opinions which they have advanced.

M. Guizot goes on to state his own impressions on reading Gibbon's
history, and no authority will have greater weight with those to
whom the extent and accuracy of his historical researches are
"After a first rapid perusal, which allowed me to feel nothing but
the interest of a narrative, always animated, and, notwithstanding
its extent and the variety of objects which it makes to pass
before the view, always perspicuous, I entered upon a minute
examination of the details of which it was composed; and the
opinion which I then formed was, I confess, singularly severe.
discovered, in certain chapters, errors which appeared to me
sufficiently important and numerous to make me believe that they
had been written with extreme negligence; in others, I was struck
with a certain tinge of partiality and prejudice, which imparted
to the exposition of the facts that want of truth and justice,
which the English express by their happy term misrepresentation.
Some imperfect (tronquees) quotations; some passages, omitted
unintentionally or designedly cast a suspicion on the honesty
(bonne foi) of the author; and his violation of the first law of
history - increased to my eye by the prolonged attention with
which I occupied myself with every phrase, every note, every
reflection - caused me to form upon the whole work, a judgment far
too rigorous. After having finished my labors, I allowed some
time to elapse before I reviewed the whole. A second attentive
and regular perusal of the entire work, of the notes of the
author, and of those which I had thought it right to subjoin,
showed me how much I had exaggerated the importance of the
reproaches which Gibbon really deserved; I was struck with the
same errors, the same partiality on certain subjects; but I had
been far from doing adequate justice to the immensity of his
researches, the variety of his knowledge, and above all, to that
truly philosophical discrimination (justesse d'esprit) which
judges the past as it would judge the present; which does not
permit itself to be blinded by the clouds which time gathers
around the dead, and which prevent us from seeing that, under the
toga, as under the modern dress, in the senate as in our councils,
men were what they still are, and that events took place eighteen
centuries ago, as they take place in our days. I then felt that
his book, in spite of its faults, will always be a noble work
and that we may correct his errors and combat his prejudices,
without ceasing to admit that few men have combined, if we are not
to say in so high a degree, at least in a manner so complete, and
so well regulated, the necessary qualifications for a writer of

The present editor has followed the track of Gibbon through many
parts of his work; he has read his authorities with constant
reference to his pages, and must pronounce his deliberate
judgment, in terms of the highest admiration as to his general
accuracy. Many of his seeming errors are almost inevitable from
the close condensation of his matter. From the immense range of

his history, it was sometimes necessary to compress into a single
sentence, a whole vague and diffuse page of a Byzantine
chronicler. Perhaps something of importance may have thus
escaped, and his expressions may not quite contain the whole
substance of the passage from which they are taken. His limits, at
times, compel him to sketch; where that is the case, it is not
fair to expect the full details of the finished picture. At times
he can only deal with important results; and in his account of
war, it sometimes requires great attention to discover that the
events which seem to be comprehended in a single campaign, occupy
several years. But this admirable skill in selecting and giving
prominence to the points which are of real weight and importance
this distribution of light and shade - though perhaps it may
occasionally betray him into vague and imperfect statements, is
one of the highest excellencies of Gibbon's historic manner. It
is the more striking, when we pass from the works of his chief
authorities, where, after laboring through long, minute, and
wearisome descriptions of the accessary and subordinate
circumstances, a single unmarked and undistinguished sentence,
which we may overlook from the inattention of fatigue, contains
the great moral and political result.

Gibbon's method of arrangement, though on the whole most favorable
to the clear comprehension of the events, leads likewise to
apparent inaccuracy. That which we expect to find in one part is
reserved for another. The estimate which we are to form, depends
on the accurate balance of statements in remote parts of the work;
and we have sometimes to correct and modify opinions, formed from
one chapter by those of another. Yet, on the other hand, it is
astonishing how rarely we detect contradiction; the mind of the
author has already harmonized the whole result to truth and
probability; the general impression is almost invariably the same.
The quotations of Gibbon have likewise been called in question;
I have, in general, been more inclined to admire their exactitude,
than to complain of their indistinctness, or incompleteness.
Where they are imperfect, it is commonly from the study of
brevity, and rather from the desire of compressing the substance
of his notes into pointed and emphatic sentences, than from
dishonesty, or uncandid suppression of truth.

These observations apply more particularly to the accuracy and
fidelity of the historian as to his facts; his inferences, of
course, are more liable to exception. It is almost impossible to
trace the line between unfairness and unfaithfulness; between
intentional misrepresentation and undesigned false coloring. The
relative magnitude and importance of events must, in some respect,
depend upon the mind before which they are presented; the estimate
of character, on the habits and feelings of the reader.
Christians, like M. Guizot and ourselves, will see some things,
and some persons, in a different light from the historian of the
Decline and Fall. We may deplore the bias of his mind; we may
ourselves be on our guard against the danger of being misled, and

be anxious to warn less wary readers against the same perils; but
we must not confound this secret and unconscious departure from
truth, with the deliberate violation of that veracity which is the
only title of an historian to our confidence. Gibbon, it may be
fearlessly asserted, is rarely chargeable even with the
suppression of any material fact, which bears upon individual
character; he may, with apparently invidious hostility, enhance
the errors and crimes, and disparage the virtues of certain
persons; yet, in general, he leaves us the materials for forming
fairer judgment; and if he is not exempt from his own prejudices,
perhaps we might write passions, yet it must be candidly
acknowledged, that his philosophical bigotry is not more unjust
than the theological partialities of those ecclesiastical writers
who were before in undisputed possession of this province of

We are thus naturally led to that great misrepresentation which
pervades his history - his false estimate of the nature and
influence of Christianity.

But on this subject some preliminary caution is necessary, lest
that should be expected from a new edition, which it is impossible
that it should completely accomplish. We must first be prepared
with the only sound preservative against the false impression
likely to be produced by the perusal of Gibbon; and we must see
clearly the real cause of that false impression. The former of
these cautions will be briefly suggested in its proper place, but
it may be as well to state it, here, somewhat more at length. The
art of Gibbon, or at least the unfair impression produced by his
two memorable chapters, consists in his confounding together, in
one indistinguishable mass, the origin and apostolic propagation
of the new religion, with its later progress. No argument for the
divine authority of Christianity has been urged with greater
force, or traced with higher eloquence, than that deduced from its
primary development, explicable on no other hypothesis than
heavenly origin, and from its rapid extension through great part
of the Roman empire. But this argument - one, when confined within
reasonable limits, of unanswerable force - becomes more feeble and
disputable in proportion as it recedes from the birthplace, as it
were, of the religion. The further Christianity advanced, the
more causes purely human were enlisted in its favor; nor can it be
doubted that those developed with such artful exclusiveness by
Gibbon did concur most essentially to its establishment. It is in
the Christian dispensation, as in the material world. In both it
is as the great First Cause, that the Deity is most undeniably
manifest. When once launched in regular motion upon the bosom of
space, and endowed with all their properties and relations of
weight and mutual attraction, the heavenly bodies appear to pursue
their courses according to secondary laws, which account for all
their sublime regularity. So Christianity proclaims its Divine
Author chiefly in its first origin and development. When it had
once received its impulse from above - when it had once been

infused into the minds of its first teachers - when it had gained
full possession of the reason and affections of the favored few
it might be - and to the Protestant, the rationa Christian, it is
impossible to define when it really was - left to make its way by
its native force, under the ordinary secret agencies of all-ruling
Providence. The main question, the divine origin of the religion,
was dexterously eluded, or speciously conceded by Gibbon; his plan
enabled him to commence his account, in most parts, below the
apostolic times; and it was only by the strength of the dark
coloring with which he brought out the failings and the follies of
the succeeding ages, that a shadow of doubt and suspicion was
thrown back upon the primitive period of Christianity.

"The theologian," says Gibbon, "may indulge the pleasing task of
describing religion as she descended from heaven, arrayed in her
native purity; a more melancholy duty is imposed upon the
historian: - he must discover the inevitable mixture of error and
corruption which she contracted in a long residence upon earth
among a weak and degenerate race of beings." Divest this passage
of the latent sarcasm betrayed by the subsequent tone of the whole
disquisition, and it might commence a Christian history written in
the most Christian spirit of candor. But as the historian, by
seeming to respect, yet by dexterously confounding the limits of
the sacred land, contrived to insinuate that it was an Utopia
which had no existence but in the imagination of the theologian
as he suggested rather than affirmed that the days of Christian
purity were a kind of poetic golden age; - so the theologian, by
venturing too far into the domain of the historian, has been
perpetually obliged to contest points on which he had little
chance of victory - to deny facts established on unshaken evidence

-and thence, to retire, if not with the shame of defeat, yet with
but doubtful and imperfect success. Paley, with his intuitive
sagacity, saw through the difficulty of answering Gibbon by the
ordinary arts of controversy; his emphatic sentence, "Who can
refute a sneer?" contains as much truth as point. But full and
pregnant as this phrase is, it is not quite the whole truth; it is
the tone in which the progress of Christianity is traced, in
comparison with the rest of the splendid and prodigally ornamented
work, which is the radical defect in the "Decline and Fall.
Christianity alone receives no embellishment from the magic of
Gibbon's language; his imagination is dead to its moral dignity;
it is kept down by a general zone of jealous disparagement, or
neutralized by a painfully elaborate exposition of its darker and
degenerate periods. There are occasions, indeed, when its pure
and exalted humanity, when its manifestly beneficial influence,
can compel even him, as it were, to fairness, and kindle his
unguarded eloquence to its usual fervor; but, in general, he soon
relapses into a frigid apathy; affects an ostentatiously severe
impartiality; notes all the faults of Christians in every age with
bitter and almost malignant sarcasm; reluctantly, and with
exception and reservation, admits their claim to admiration. This

inextricable bias appears even to influence his manner of
composition. While all the other assailants of the Roman empire,
whether warlike or religious, the Goth, the Hun, the Arab, the
Tartar, Alaric and Attila, Mahomet, and Zengis, and Tamerlane, are
each introduced upon the scene almost with dramatic animation
their progress related in a full, complete, and unbroken narrative

-the triumph of Christianity alone takes the form of a cold and
critical disquisition. The successes of barbarous energy and
brute force call forth all the consummate skill of composition;
while the moral triumphs of Christian benevolence - the tranquil
heroism of endurance, the blameless purity, the contempt of guilty
fame and of honors destructive to the human race, which, had they
assumed the proud name of philosophy, would have been blazoned in
his brightest words, because they own religion as their principle
-sink into narrow asceticism. The glories of Christianity, in
short, touch on no chord in the heart of the writer; his
imagination remains unkindled; his words, though they maintain
their stately and measured march, have become cool, argumentative,
and inanimate. Who would obscure one hue of that gorgeous
coloring in which Gibbon has invested the dying forms of Paganism,
or darken one paragraph in his splendid view of the rise and
progress of Mahometanism? But who would not have wished that the
same equal justice had been done to Christianity; that its real
character and deeply penetrating influence had been traced with
the same philosophical sagacity, and represented with more sober,
as would become its quiet course, and perhaps less picturesque,
but still with lively and attractive, descriptiveness? He might
have thrown aside, with the same scorn, the mass of ecclesiastical
fiction which envelops the early history of the church, stripped
off the legendary romance, and brought out the facts in their
primitive nakedness and simplicity - if he had but allowed those
facts the benefit of the glowing eloquence which he denied to them
alone. He might have annihilated the whole fabric of post-
apostolic miracles, if he had left uninjured by sarcastic
insinuation those of the New Testament; he might have cashiered,
with Dodwell, the whole host of martyrs, which owe their existence
to the prodigal invention of later days, had he but bestowed fair
room, and dwelt with his ordinary energy on the sufferings of the
genuine witnesses to the truth of Christianity, the Polycarps, or
the martyrs of Vienne. And indeed, if, after all, the view of the
early progress of Christianity be melancholy and humiliating we
must beware lest we charge the whole of this on the infidelity of
the historian. It is idle, it is disingenuous, to deny or to
dissemble the early depravations of Christianity, its gradual but
rapid departure from its primitive simplicity and purity, still
more, from its spirit of universal love. It may be no unsalutary
lesson to the Christian world, that this silent, this unavoidable,
perhaps, yet fatal change shall have been drawn by an impartial,
or even an hostile hand. The Christianity of every age may take
warning, lest by its own narrow views, its want of wisdom, and its
want of charity, it give the same advantage to the future
unfriendly historian, and disparage the cause of true religion.

The design of the present edition is partly corrective, partly
supplementary: corrective, by notes, which point out (it is hoped,
in a perfectly candid and dispassionate spirit with no desire but
to establish the truth) such inaccuracies or misstatements as may
have been detected, particularly with regard to Christianity; and
which thus, with the previous caution, may counteract to
considerable extent the unfair and unfavorable impression created
against rational religion: supplementary, by adding such
additional information as the editor's reading may have been able
to furnish, from original documents or books, not accessible at
the time when Gibbon wrote.

The work originated in the editor's habit of noting on the margin
of his copy of Gibbon references to such authors as had discovered
errors, or thrown new light on the subjects treated by Gibbon.
These had grown to some extent, and seemed to him likely to be of
use to others. The annotations of M. Guizot also appeared to him
worthy of being better known to the English public than they were
likely to be, as appended to the French translation.

The chief works from which the editor has derived his materials
are, I. The French translation, with notes by M. Guizot; 2d
edition, Paris, 1828. The editor has translated almost all the
notes of M. Guizot. Where he has not altogether agreed with him,
his respect for the learning and judgment of that writer has, in
general, induced him to retain the statement from which he has
ventured to differ, with the grounds on which he formed his own
opinion. In the notes on Christianity, he has retained all those
of M. Guizot, with his own, from the conviction, that on such
subject, to many, the authority of a French statesman,
Protestant, and a rational and sincere Christian, would appear
more independent and unbiassed, and therefore be more commanding,
than that of an English clergyman.

The editor has not scrupled to transfer the notes of M. Guizot to
the present work. The well-known??eal for knowledge, displayed in
all the writings of that distinguished historian, has led to the
natural inference, that he would not be displeased at the attempt
to make them of use to the English readers of Gibbon. The notes
of M. Guizot are signed with the letter G.

II. The German translation, with the notes of Wenck.
Unfortunately this learned translator died, after having completed
only the first volume; the rest of the work was executed by a very
inferior hand.
The notes of Wenck are extremely valuable; many of them have been
adopted by M. Guizot; they are distinguished by the letter W. ^

[Footnote *: The editor regrets that he has not been able to find
the Italian translation, mentioned by Gibbon himself with some

respect. It is not in our great libraries, the Museum or the
Bodleian; and he has never found any bookseller in London who has
seen it.

III. The new edition of Le Beau's "Histoire du Bas Empire, with
notes by M. St. Martin, and M. Brosset." That distinguished
Armenian scholar, M. St. Martin (now, unhappily, deceased) had
added much information from Oriental writers, particularly from
those of Armenia, as well as from more general sources. Many of
his observations have been found as applicable to the work of
Gibbon as to that of Le Beau.
IV. The editor has consulted the various answers made to Gibbon on
the first appearance of his work; he must confess, with little
profit. They were, in general, hastily compiled by inferior and
now forgotten writers, with the exception of Bishop Watson, whose
able apology is rather a general argument, than an examination of
misstatements. The name of Milner stands higher with a certain
class of readers, but will not carry much weight with the severe
investigator of history.
V. Some few classical works and fragments have come to light,
since the appearance of Gibbon's History, and have been noticed in
their respective places; and much use has been made, in the latter
volumes particularly, of the increase to our stores of Oriental
literature. The editor cannot, indeed, pretend to have followed
his author, in these gleanings, over the whole vast field of his
inquiries; he may have overlooked or may not have been able to
command some works, which might have thrown still further light on
these subjects; but he trusts that what he has adduced will be of
use to the student of historic truth.
The editor would further observe, that with regard to some other
objectionable passages, which do not involve misstatement or
inaccuracy, he has intentionally abstained from directing
particular attention towards them by any special protest.

The editor's notes are marked M.

A considerable part of the quotations (some of which in the later
editions had fallen into great confusion) have been verified, and
have been corrected by the latest and best editions of the

June, 1845.

In this new edition, the text and the notes have been carefully
revised, the latter by the editor.

Some additional notes have been subjoined, distinguished by the
signature M. 1845.

Preface Of The Author.

It is not my intention to detain the reader by expa??iating on the
variety or the importance of the subject, which I have undertaken
to treat; since the merit of the choice would serve to render the
weakness of the execution still more apparent, and still less
excusable. But as I have presumed to lay before the public
first volume only ^1 of the History of the Decline and Fall of the
Roman Empire, it will, perhaps, be expected that I should explain,
in a few words, the nature and limits of my general plan.

[Footnote 1: The first volume of the quarto, which contained the
sixteen first chapters.

The memorable series of revolutions, which in the course of about
thirteen centuries gradually undermined, and at length destroyed,
the solid fabric of human greatness, may, with some propriety, be
divided into the three following periods:

I. The first of these periods may be traced from the age of
Trajan and the Antonines, when the Roman monarchy, having attained
its full strength and maturity, began to verge towards its
decline; and will extend to the subversion of the Western Empire,
by the barbarians of Germany and Scythia, the rude ancestors of
the most polished nations of modern Europe. This extraordinary
revolution, which subjected Rome to the power of a Gothic
conqueror, was completed about the beginning of the sixth century.
II. The second period of the Decline and Fall of Rome may be
supposed to commence with the reign of Justinian, who, by his
laws, as well as by his victories, restored a transient splendor
to the Eastern Empire. It will comprehend the invasion of Italy
by the Lombards; the conquest of the Asiatic and African provinces
by the Arabs, who embraced the religion of Mahomet; the revolt of
the Roman people against the feeble princes of Constantinople; and
the elevation of Charlemagne, who, in the year eight hundred,
established the second, or German Empire of the West
III. The last and longest of these periods includes about six
centuries and a half; from the revival of the Western Empire, till
the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, and the extinction of
degenerate race of princes, who continued to assume the titles of
Caesar and Augustus, after their dominions were contracted to the
limits of a single city; in which the language, as well as
manners, of the ancient Romans, had been long since forgotten.
The writer who should undertake to relate the events of this
period, would find himself obliged to enter into the general
history of the Crusades, as far as they contributed to the ruin of
the Greek Empire; and he would scarcely be able to restrain his
curiosity from making some inquiry into the state of the city of
Rome, during the darkness and confusion of the middle ages.

As I have ventured, perhaps too hastily, to commit to the press
work which in every sense of the word, deserves the epithet of
imperfect. I consider myself as contracting an engagement to
finish, most probably in a second volume, ^2 the first of these
memorable periods; and to deliver to the Public the complete
History of the Decline and Fall of Rome, from the age of the
Antonines to the subversion of the Western Empire. With regard to
the subsequent periods, though I may entertain some hopes, I dare
not presume to give any assurances. The execution of the
extensive plan which I have described, would connect the ancient
and modern history of the world; but it would require many years
of health, of leisure, and of perseverance. [Footnote 2: The
Author, as it frequently happens, took an inadequate measure of
his growing work. The remainder of the first period has filled
two volumes in quarto, being the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth
volumes of the octavo edition.

Bentinck Street, February 1, 1776.

P. S. The entire History, which is now published, of the Decline
and Fall of the Roman Empire in the West, abundantly discharges my
engagements with the Public. Perhaps their favorable opinion may
encourage me to prosecute a work, which, however laborious it may
seem, is the most agreeable occupation of my leisure hours.
Bentinck Street, March 1, 1781.

An Author easily persuades himself that the public opinion is
still favorable to his labors; and I have now embraced the serious
resolution of proceeding to the last period of my original design,
and of the Roman Empire, the taking of Constantinople by the
Turks, in the year one thousand four hundred and fifty-three. The
most patient Reader, who computes that three ponderous ^3 volumes
have been already employed on the events of four centuries, may,
perhaps, be alarmed at the long prospect of nine hundred years.
But it is not my intention to expatiate with the same minuteness
on the whole series of the Byzantine history. At our entrance
into this period, the reign of Justinian, and the conquests of the
Mahometans, will deserve and detain our attention, and the last
age of Constantinople (the Crusades and the Turks) is connected
with the revolutions of Modern Europe. From the seventh to the
eleventh century, the obscure interval will be supplied by
concise narrative of such facts as may still appear either
interesting or important. [Footnote 3: The first six volumes of
the octavo edition.] Bentinck Street, March 1, 1782.

Preface To The First Volume.

Diligence and accuracy are the only merits which an historical
writer may ascribe to himself; if any merit, indeed, can be
assumed from the performance of an indispensable duty. I may
therefore be allowed to say, that I have carefully examined all

the original materials that could illustrate the subject which
had undertaken to treat. Should I ever complete the extensive
design which has been sketched out in the Preface, I might perhaps
conclude it with a critical account of the authors consulted
during the progress of the whole work; and however such an attempt
might incur the censure of ostentation, I am persuaded that it
would be susceptible of entertainment, as well as information.

At present I shall content myself with a single observation. The
biographers, who, under the reigns of Diocletian and Constantine,
composed, or rather compiled, the lives of the Emperors, from
Hadrian to the sons of Carus, are usually mentioned under the
names of Aelius Spartianus, Julius Capitolinus, Aelius Lampridius,
Vulcatius Gallicanus, Trebellius Pollio and Flavius Vopiscus. But
there is so much perplexity in the titles of the MSS., and so many
disputes have arisen among the critics (see Fabricius, Biblioth.
Latin. l. iii. c. 6) concerning their number, their names, and
their respective property, that for the most part I have quoted
them without distinction, under the general and well-known title
of the Augustan History.

Preface To The Fourth Volume Of The Original Quarto Edition. I now
discharge my promise, and complete my design, of writing the
History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, both in the
West and the East. The whole period extends from the age of
Trajan and the Antonines, to the taking of Constantinople by
Mahomet the Second; and includes a review of the Crusades, and the
state of Rome during the middle ages. Since the publication of
the first volume, twelve years have elapsed; twelve years,
according to my wish, "of health, of leisure, and of
perseverance." I may now congratulate my deliverance from a long
and laborious service, and my satisfaction will be pure and
perfect, if the public favor should be extended to the conclusion
of my work.

It was my first intention to have collected, under one view, the
numerous authors, of every age and language, from whom I have
derived the materials of this history; and I am still convinced
that the apparent ostentation would be more than compensated by
real use. If I have renounced this idea, if I have declined an
undertaking which had obtained the approbation of a master-artist,
^* my excuse may be found in the extreme difficulty of assigning
proper measure to such a catalogue. A naked list of names and
editions would not be satisfactory either to myself or my readers:
the characters of the principal Authors of the Roman and Byzantine
History have been occasionally connected with the events which
they describe; a more copious and critical inquiry might indeed
deserve, but it would demand, an elaborate volume, which might
swell by degrees into a general library of historical writers.
For the present, I shall content myself with renewing my serious
protestation, that I have always endeavored to draw from the
fountain-head; that my curiosity, as well as a sense of duty, has

always urged me to study the originals; and that, if they have
sometimes eluded my search, I have carefully marked the secondary
evidence, on whose faith a passage or a fact were reduced to

[Footnote *: See Dr. Robertson's Preface to his History of

I shall soon revisit the banks of the Lake of Lausanne, a country
which I have known and loved from my early youth. Under a mild
government, amidst a beauteous landscape, in a life of leisure and
independence, and among a people of easy and elegant manners,
have enjoyed, and may again hope to enjoy, the varied pleasures of
retirement and society. But I shall ever glory in the name and
character of an Englishman: I am proud of my birth in a free and
enlightened country; and the approbation of that country is the
best and most honorable reward of my labors. Were I ambitious of
any other Patron than the Public, I would inscribe this work to
Statesman, who, in a long, a stormy, and at length an unfortunate
administration, had many political opponents, almost without
personal enemy; who has retained, in his fall from power, many
faithful and disinterested friends; and who, under the pressure of
severe infirmity, enjoys the lively vigor of his mind, and the
felicity of his incomparable temper. Lord North will permit me to
express the feelings of friendship in the language of truth: but
even truth and friendship should be silent, if he still dispensed
the favors of the crown.

In a remote solitude, vanity may still whisper in my ear, that my
readers, perhaps, may inquire whether, in the conclusion of the
present work, I am now taking an everlasting farewell. They shall
hear all that I know myself, and all that I could reveal to the
most intimate friend. The motives of action or silence are now
equally balanced; nor can I pronounce, in my most secret thoughts,
on which side the scale will preponderate. I cannot dissemble
that six quartos must have tried, and may have exhausted, the
indulgence of the Public; that, in the repetition of similar
attempts, a successful Author has much more to lose than he can
hope to gain; that I am now descending into the vale of years; and
that the most respectable of my countrymen, the men whom I aspire
to imitate, have resigned the pen of history about the same period
of their lives. Yet I consider that the annals of ancient and
modern times may afford many rich and interesting subjects; that
am still possessed of health and leisure; that by the practice of
writing, some skill and facility must be acquired; and that, in
the ardent pursuit of truth and knowledge, I am not conscious of
decay. To an active mind, indolence is more painful than labor;
and the first months of my liberty will be occupied and amused in
the excursions of curiosity and taste. By such temptations, I have
been sometimes seduced from the rigid duty even of a pleasing and
voluntary task: but my time will now be my own; and in the use or
abuse of independence, I shall no longer fear my own reproaches or

those of my friends. I am fairly entitled to a year of jubilee:
next summer and the following winter will rapidly pass away; and
experience only can determine whether I shall still prefer the
freedom and variety of study to the design and composition of
regular work, which animates, while it confines, the daily
application of the Author. Caprice and accident may influence my
choice; but the dexterity of self-love will contrive to applaud
either active industry or philosophic repose.

Downing Street, May 1, 1788.

P. S. I shall embrace this opportunity of introducing two verbal
remarks, which have not conveniently offered themselves to my
notice. 1. As often as I use the definitions of beyond the Alps,
the Rhine, the Danube, &c., I generally suppose myself at Rome,
and afterwards at Constantinople; without observing whether this
relative geography may agree with the local, but variable,
situation of the reader, or the historian. 2. In proper names of
foreign, and especially of Oriental origin, it should be always
our aim to express, in our English version, a faithful copy of the
original. But this rule, which is founded on a just regard to
uniformity and truth, must often be relaxed; and the exceptions
will be limited or enlarged by the custom of the language and the
taste of the interpreter. Our alphabets may be often defective;
harsh sound, an uncouth spelling, might offend the ear or the eye
of our countrymen; and some words, notoriously corrupt, are fixed,
and, as it were, naturalized in the vulgar tongue. The prophet
Mohammed can no longer be stripped of the famous, though improper,
appellation of Mahomet: the well-known cities of Aleppo, Damascus,
and Cairo, would almost be lost in the strange descriptions of
Haleb, Demashk, and Al Cahira: the titles and offices of the
Ottoman empire are fashioned by the practice of three hundred
years; and we are pleased to blend the three Chinese
monosyllables, Con-fu- tzee, in the respectable name of Confucius,
or even to adopt the Portuguese corruption of Mandarin. But
would vary the use of Zoroaster and Zerdusht, as I drew my
information from Greece or Persia: since our connection with
India, the genuine Timour is restored to the throne of Tamerlane:
our most correct writers have retrenched the Al, the superfluous
article, from the Koran; and we escape an ambiguous termination,
by adopting Moslem instead of Musulman, in the plural number. In
these, and in a thousand examples, the shades of distinction are
often minute; and I can feel, where I cannot explain, the motives
of my choice.
Chapter I: The Extend Of The Empire In The Age Of The Anoninies.
Part I.


The Extent And Military Force Of The Empire In The Age Of The

In the second century of the Christian Aera, the empire of Rome
comprehended the fairest part of the earth, and the most civilized
portion of mankind. The frontiers of that extensive monarchy were
guarded by ancient renown and disciplined valor. The gentle but
powerful influence of laws and manners had gradually cemented the
union of the provinces. Their peaceful inhabitants enjoyed and
abused the advantages of wealth and luxury. The image of a free
constitution was preserved with decent reverence: the Roman senate
appeared to possess the sovereign authority, and devolved on the
emperors all the executive powers of government. During a happy
period of more than fourscore years, the public administration was
conducted by the virtue and abilities of Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian,
and the two Antonines. It is the design of this, and of the two
succeeding chapters, to describe the prosperous condition of their
empire; and after wards, from the death of Marcus Antoninus, to
deduce the most important circumstances of its decline and fall;
revolution which will ever be remembered, and is still felt by the
nations of the earth.

The principal conquests of the Romans were achieved under the
republic; and the emperors, for the most part, were satisfied with
preserving those dominions which had been acquired by the policy
of the senate, the active emulations of the consuls, and the
martial enthusiasm of the people. The seven first centuries were
filled with a rapid succession of triumphs; but it was reserved
for Augustus to relinquish the ambitious design of subduing the
whole earth, and to introduce a spirit of moderation into the
public councils. Inclined to peace by his temper and situation,
it was easy for him to discover that Rome, in her present exalted
situation, had much less to hope than to fear from the chance of
arms; and that, in the prosecution of remote wars, the undertaking
became every day more difficult, the event more doubtful, and the
possession more precarious, and less beneficial. The experience
of Augustus added weight to these salutary reflections, and
effectually convinced him that, by the prudent vigor of his
counsels, it would be easy to secure every concession which the
safety or the dignity of Rome might require from the most
formidable barbarians. Instead of exposing his person and his
legions to the arrows of the Parthians, he obtained, by an
honorable treaty, the restitution of the standards and prisoners
which had been taken in the defeat of Crassus. ^

[Footnote 1: Dion Cassius, (l. liv. p. 736,) with the annotations
of Reimar, who has collected all that Roman vanity has left upon
the subject. The marble of Ancyra, on which Augustus recorded his
own exploits, asserted that he compelled the Parthians to restore
the ensigns of Crassus.

His generals, in the early part of his reign, attempted the
reduction of Ethiopia and Arabia Felix. They marched near
thousand miles to the south of the tropic; but the heat of the

climate soon repelled the invaders, and protected the un-warlike
natives of those sequestered regions. ^2 The northern countries of
Europe scarcely deserved the expense and labor of conquest. The
forests and morasses of Germany were filled with a hardy race of
barbarians, who despised life when it was separated from freedom;
and though, on the first attack, they seemed to yield to the
weight of the Roman power, they soon, by a signal act of despair,
regained their independence, and reminded Augustus of the
vicissitude of fortune. ^3 On the death of that emperor, his
testament was publicly read in the senate. He bequeathed, as
valuable legacy to his successors, the advice of confining the
empire within those limits which nature seemed to have placed as
its permanent bulwarks and boundaries: on the west, the Atlantic
Ocean; the Rhine and Danube on the north; the Euphrates on the
east; and towards the south, the sandy deserts of Arabia and
Africa. ^

[Footnote 2: Strabo, (l. xvi. p. 780,) Pliny the elder, (Hist.
Natur. l. vi. c. 32, 35, [28, 29,] and Dion Cassius, (l. liii. p.
723, and l. liv. p. 734,) have left us very curious details
concerning these wars. The Romans made themselves masters of
Mariaba, or Merab, a city of Arabia Felix, well known to the
Orientals. (See Abulfeda and the Nubian geography, p. 52) They
were arrived within three days' journey of the spice country, the
rich object of their invasion.

Note: It is the city of Merab that the Arabs say was the residence
of Belkis, queen of Saba, who desired to see Solomon. A dam, by
which the waters collected in its neighborhood were kept back,
having been swept away, the sudden inundation destroyed this city,
of which, nevertheless, vestiges remain. It bordered on a country
called Adramout, where a particular aromatic plant grows: it is
for this reason that we real in the history of the Roman
expedition, that they were arrived within three days' journey of
the spice country. - G. Compare Malte-Brun, Geogr. Eng. trans.
vol. ii. p. 215. The period of this flood has been copiously
discussed by Reiske, (Program. de vetusta Epocha Arabum, ruptura
cataractae Merabensis.) Add. Johannsen, Hist. Yemanae, p. 282.
Bonn, 1828; and see Gibbon, note 16. to Chap. L. - M.

Note: Two, according to Strabo. The detailed account of Strabo
makes the invaders fail before Marsuabae: this cannot be the same
place as Mariaba. Ukert observes, that Aelius Gallus would not
have failed for want of water before Mariaba. (See M. Guizot's
note above.) "Either, therefore, they were different places, or
Strabo is mistaken." (Ukert, Geographic der Griechen und Romer,
vol. i. p. 181.) Strabo, indeed, mentions Mariaba distinct from
Marsuabae. Gibbon has followed Pliny in reckoning Mariaba among
the conquests of Gallus. There can be little doubt that he is
wrong, as Gallus did not approach the capital of Sabaea. Compare
the note of the Oxford editor of Strabo. - M.] [Footnote 3: By the
slaughter of Varus and his three legions. See the first book of

the Annals of Tacitus. Sueton. in August. c. 23, and Velleius
Paterculus, l. ii. c. 117, &c. Augustus did not receive the
melancholy news with all the temper and firmness that might have
been expected from his character.

[Footnote 4: Tacit. Annal. l. ii. Dion Cassius, l. lvi. p. 833,
and the speech of Augustus himself, in Julian's Caesars. It
receives great light from the learned notes of his French
translator, M. Spanheim.

Happily for the repose of mankind, the moderate system recommended
by the wisdom of Augustus, was adopted by the fears and vices of
his immediate successors. Engaged in the pursuit of pleasure, or
in the exercise of tyranny, the first Caesars seldom showed
themselves to the armies, or to the provinces; nor were they
disposed to suffer, that those triumphs which their indolence
neglected, should be usurped by the conduct and valor of their
lieutenants. The military fame of a subject was considered as an
insolent invasion of the Imperial prerogative; and it became the
duty, as well as interest, of every Roman general, to guard the
frontiers intrusted to his care, without aspiring to conquests
which might have proved no less fatal to himself than to the
vanquished barbarians. ^

[Footnote 5: Germanicus, Suetonius Paulinus, and Agricola were
checked and recalled in the course of their victories. Corbulo
was put to death. Military merit, as it is admirably expressed by
Tacitus, was, in the strictest sense of the word, imperatoria

The only accession which the Roman empire received, during the
first century of the Christian Aera, was the province of Britain.
In this single instance, the successors of Caesar and Augustus
were persuaded to follow the example of the former, rather than
the precept of the latter. The proximity of its situation to the
coast of Gaul seemed to invite their arms; the pleasing though
doubtful intelligence of a pearl fishery, attracted their avarice;
^6 and as Britain was viewed in the light of a distinct and
insulated world, the conquest scarcely formed any exception to the
general system of continental measures. After a war of about
forty years, undertaken by the most stupid, ^7 maintained by the
most dissolute, and terminated by the most timid of all the
emperors, the far greater part of the island submitted to the
Roman yoke. ^8 The various tribes of Britain possessed valor
without conduct, and the love of freedom without the spirit of
union. They took up arms with savage fierceness; they laid them
down, or turned them against each other, with wild inconsistency;
and while they fought singly, they were successively subdued.
Neither the fortitude of Caractacus, nor the despair of Boadicea,
nor the fanaticism of the Druids, could avert the slavery of their
country, or resist the steady progress of the Imperial generals,
who maintained the national glory, when the throne was disgraced

by the weakest, or the most vicious of mankind. At the very time
when Domitian, confined to his palace, felt the terrors which he
inspired, his legions, under the command of the virtuous Agricola,
defeated the collected force of the Caledonians, at the foot of
the Grampian Hills; and his fleets, venturing to explore an
unknown and dangerous navigation, displayed the Roman arms round
every part of the island. The conquest of Britain was considered
as already achieved; and it was the design of Agricola to complete
and insure his success, by the easy reduction of Ireland, for
which, in his opinion, one legion and a few auxiliaries were
sufficient. ^9 The western isle might be improved into a valuable
possession, and the Britons would wear their chains with the less
reluctance, if the prospect and example of freedom were on every
side removed from before their eyes.

[Footnote 6: Caesar himself conceals that ignoble motive; but it
is mentioned by Suetonius, c. 47. The British pearls proved,
however, of little value, on account of their dark and livid
color. Tacitus observes, with reason, (in Agricola, c. 12,) that
it was an inherent defect. "Ego facilius crediderim, naturam
margaritis deesse quam nobis avaritiam."

[Footnote 7: Claudius, Nero, and Domitian. A hope is expressed by
Pomponius Mela, l. iii. c. 6, (he wrote under Claudius,) that, by
the success of the Roman arms, the island and its savage
inhabitants would soon be better known. It is amusing enough to
peruse such passages in the midst of London.] [Footnote 8: See the
admirable abridgment given by Tacitus, in the life of Agricola,
and copiously, though perhaps not completely, illustrated by our
own antiquarians, Camden and Horsley.

[Footnote 9: The Irish writers, jealous of their national honor,
are extremely provoked on this occasion, both with Tacitus and
with Agricola.

But the superior merit of Agricola soon occasioned his removal
from the government of Britain; and forever disappointed this
rational, though extensive scheme of conquest. Before his
departure, the prudent general had provided for security as well
as for dominion. He had observed, that the island is almost
divided into two unequal parts by the opposite gulfs, or, as they
are now called, the Friths of Scotland. Across the narrow
interval of about forty miles, he had drawn a line of military
stations, which was afterwards fortified, in the reign of
Antoninus Pius, by a turf rampart, erected on foundations of
stone. ^10 This wall of Antoninus, at a small distance beyond the
modern cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, was fixed as the limit of
the Roman province. The native Caledonians preserved, in the
northern extremity of the island, their wild independence, for
which they were not less indebted to their poverty than to their
valor. Their incursions were frequently repelled and chastised;
but their country was never subdued. ^11 The masters of the

fairest and most wealthy climates of the globe turned with
contempt from gloomy hills, assailed by the winter tempest, from
lakes concealed in a blue mist, and from cold and lonely heaths,
over which the deer of the forest were chased by a troop of naked
barbarians. ^12

[Footnote 10: See Horsley's Britannia Romana, l. i. c. 10. Note:
Agricola fortified the line from Dumbarton to Edinburgh,
consequently within Scotland. The emperor Hadrian, during his
residence in Britain, about the year 121, caused a rampart of
earth to be raised between Newcastle and Carlisle. Antoninus Pius,
having gained new victories over the Caledonians, by the ability
of his general, Lollius, Urbicus, caused a new rampart of earth to
be constructed between Edinburgh and Dumbarton. Lastly, Septimius
Severus caused a wall of stone to be built parallel to the rampart
of Hadrian, and on the same locality. See John Warburton's Vallum
Romanum, or the History and Antiquities of the Roman Wall.
London, 1754, 4to. - W. See likewise a good note on the Roman wall
in Lingard's History of England, vol. i. p. 40, 4to edit - M.

[Footnote 11: The poet Buchanan celebrates with elegance and
spirit (see his Sylvae, v.) the unviolated independence of his
native country. But, if the single testimony of Richard of
Cirencester was sufficient to create a Roman province of
Vespasiana to the north of the wall, that independence would be
reduced within very narrow limits.

[Footnote 12: See Appian (in Prooem.) and the uniform imagery of
Ossian's Poems, which, according to every hypothesis, were
composed by a native Caledonian.

Such was the state of the Roman frontiers, and such the maxims of
Imperial policy, from the death of Augustus to the accession of
Trajan. That virtuous and active prince had received the
education of a soldier, and possessed the talents of a general.
^13 The peaceful system of his predecessors was interrupted by
scenes of war and conquest; and the legions, after a long
interval, beheld a military emperor at their head. The first
exploits of Trajan were against the Dacians, the most warlike of
men, who dwelt beyond the Danube, and who, during the reign of
Domitian, had insulted, with impunity, the Majesty of Rome. ^14 To
the strength and fierceness of barbarians they added a contempt
for life, which was derived from a warm persuasion of the
immortality and transmigration of the soul. ^15 Decebalus, the
Dacian king, approved himself a rival not unworthy of Trajan; nor
did he despair of his own and the public fortune, till, by the
confession of his enemies, he had exhausted every resource both of
valor and policy. ^16 This memorable war, with a very short
suspension of hostilities, lasted five years; and as the emperor
could exert, without control, the whole force of the state, it was
terminated by an absolute submission of the barbarians. ^17 The
new province of Dacia, which formed a second exception to the

precept of Augustus, was about thirteen hundred miles in
circumference. Its natural boundaries were the Niester, the Teyss
or Tibiscus, the Lower Danube, and the Euxine Sea. The vestiges
of a military road may still be traced from the banks of the
Danube to the neighborhood of Bender, a place famous in modern
history, and the actual frontier of the Turkish and Russian
empires. ^18

[Footnote 13: See Pliny's Panegyric, which seems founded on

[Footnote 14: Dion Cassius, l. lxvii.

[Footnote 15: Herodotus, l. iv. c. 94. Julian in the Caesars,
with Spanheims observations.

[Footnote 16: Plin. Epist. viii. 9.

[Footnote 17: Dion Cassius, l. lxviii. p. 1123, 1131. Julian in
Caesaribus Eutropius, viii. 2, 6. Aurelius Victor in Epitome.
[Footnote 18: See a Memoir of M. d'Anville, on the Province of
Dacia, in the Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xxviii. p. 444

Trajan was ambitious of fame; and as long as mankind shall
continue to bestow more liberal applause on their destroyers than
on their benefactors, the thirst of military glory will ever be
the vice of the most exalted characters. The praises of
Alexander, transmitted by a succession of poets and historians,
had kindled a dangerous emulation in the mind of Trajan. Like him,
the Roman emperor undertook an expedition against the nations of
the East; but he lamented with a sigh, that his advanced age
scarcely left him any hopes of equalling the renown of the son of
Philip. ^19 Yet the success of Trajan, however transient, was
rapid and specious. The degenerate Parthians, broken by intestine
discord, fled before his arms. He descended the River Tigris in
triumph, from the mountains of Armenia to the Persian Gulf. He
enjoyed the honor of being the first, as he was the last, of the
Roman generals, who ever navigated that remote sea. His fleets
ravaged the coast of Arabia; and Trajan vainly flattered himself
that he was approaching towards the confines of India. ^20 Every
day the astonished senate received the intelligence of new names
and new nations, that acknowledged his sway. They were informed
that the kings of Bosphorus, Colchos, Iberia, Albania, Osrhoene,
and even the Parthian monarch himself, had accepted their diadems
from the hands of the emperor; that the independent tribes of the
Median and Carduchian hills had implored his protection; and that
the rich countries of Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria, were
reduced into the state of provinces. ^21 But the death of Trajan
soon clouded the splendid prospect; and it was justly to be
dreaded, that so many distant nations would throw off the
unaccustomed yoke, when they were no longer restrained by the

powerful hand which had imposed it. [Footnote 19: Trajan's
sentiments are represented in a very just and lively manner in the
Caesars of Julian.

[Footnote 20: Eutropius and Sextus Rufus have endeavored to
perpetuate the illusion. See a very sensible dissertation of M.
Freret in the Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xxi. p. 55.
[Footnote 21: Dion Cassius, l. lxviii.; and the Abbreviators.

Chapter I: The Extend Of The Empire In The Age Of The Anoninies.

Part II.

It was an ancient tradition, that when the Capitol was founded by
one of the Roman kings, the god Terminus (who presided over
boundaries, and was represented, according to the fashion of that
age, by a large stone) alone, among all the inferior deities,
refused to yield his place to Jupiter himself. A favorable
inference was drawn from his obstinacy, which was interpreted by
the augurs as a sure presage that the boundaries of the Roman
power would never recede. ^22 During many ages, the prediction, as
it is usual, contributed to its own accomplishment. But though
Terminus had resisted the Majesty of Jupiter, he submitted to the
authority of the emperor Hadrian. ^23 The resignation of all the
eastern conquests of Trajan was the first measure of his reign.
He restored to the Parthians the election of an independent
sovereign; withdrew the Roman garrisons from the provinces of
Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria; and, in compliance with the
precept of Augustus, once more established the Euphrates as the
frontier of the empire. ^24 Censure, which arraigns the public
actions and the private motives of princes, has ascribed to envy,
a conduct which might be attributed to the prudence and moderation
of Hadrian. The various character of that emperor, capable, by
turns, of the meanest and the most generous sentiments, may afford
some color to the suspicion. It was, however, scarcely in his
power to place the superiority of his predecessor in a more
conspicuous light, than by thus confessing himself unequal to the
task of defending the conquests of Trajan.

[Footnote 22: Ovid. Fast. l. ii. ver. 667. See Livy, and
Dionysius of Halicarnassus, under the reign of Tarquin.

[Footnote 23: St. Augustin is highly delighted with the proof of
the weakness of Terminus, and the vanity of the Augurs. See De
Civitate Dei, iv. 29.

Note *: The turn of Gibbon's sentence is Augustin's: "Plus
Hadrianum regem bominum, quam regem Deorum timuisse videatur."

[Footnote 24: See the Augustan History, p. 5, Jerome's Chronicle,
and all the Epitomizers. It is somewhat surprising, that this
memorable event should be omitted by Dion, or rather by Xiphilin.

The martial and ambitious of spirit Trajan formed a very singular
contrast with the moderation of his successor. The restless
activity of Hadrian was not less remarkable when compared with the
gentle repose of Antoninus Pius. The life of the former was
almost a perpetual journey; and as he possessed the various
talents of the soldier, the statesman, and the scholar, he
gratified his curiosity in the discharge of his duty. Careless of
the difference of seasons and of climates, he marched on foot, and
bare- headed, over the snows of Caledonia, and the sultry plains
of the Upper Egypt; nor was there a province of the empire which,
in the course of his reign, was not honored with the presence of
the monarch. ^25 But the tranquil life of Antoninus Pius was spent
in the bosom of Italy, and, during the twenty-three years that he
directed the public administration, the longest journeys of that
amiable prince extended no farther than from his palace in Rome to
the retirement of his Lanuvian villa. ^26

[Footnote 25: Dion, l. lxix. p. 1158. Hist. August. p. 5, 8. If
all our historians were lost, medals, inscriptions, and other
monuments, would be sufficient to record the travels of Hadrian.
Note: The journeys of Hadrian are traced in a note on Solvet's
translation of Hegewisch, Essai sur l'Epoque de Histoire Romaine
la plus heureuse pour Genre Humain Paris, 1834, p. 123. - M.

[Footnote 26: See the Augustan History and the Epitomes.

Notwithstanding this difference in their personal conduct, the
general system of Augustus was equally adopted and uniformly
pursued by Hadrian and by the two Antonines. They persisted in
the design of maintaining the dignity of the empire, without
attempting to enlarge its limits. By every honorable expedient
they invited the friendship of the barbarians; and endeavored to
convince mankind that the Roman power, raised above the temptation
of conquest, was actuated only by the love of order and justice.
During a long period of forty-three years, their virtuous labors
were crowned with success; and if we except a few slight
hostilities, that served to exercise the legions of the frontier,
the reigns of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius offer the fair prospect
of universal peace. ^27 The Roman name was revered among the most
remote nations of the earth. The fiercest barbarians frequently
submitted their differences to the arbitration of the emperor; and
we are informed by a contemporary historian that he had seen
ambassadors who were refused the honor which they came to solicit
of being admitted into the rank of subjects. ^28 [Footnote 27: We
must, however, remember, that in the time of Hadrian, a rebellion
of the Jews raged with religious fury, though only in a single
province. Pausanias (l. viii. c. 43) mentions two necessary and
successful wars, conducted by the generals of Pius: 1st. Against

the wandering Moors, who were driven into the solitudes of Atlas.
2d. Against the Brigantes of Britain, who had invaded the Roman
province. Both these wars (with several other hostilities) are
mentioned in the Augustan History, p. 19.

[Footnote 28: Appian of Alexandria, in the preface to his History
of the Roman Wars.

Part II.

The terror of the Roman arms added weight and dignity to the
moderation of the emperors. They preserved peace by a constant
preparation for war; and while justice regulated their conduct,
they announced to the nations on their confines, that they were as
little disposed to endure, as to offer an injury. The military
strength, which it had been sufficient for Hadrian and the elder
Antoninus to display, was exerted against the Parthians and the
Germans by the emperor Marcus. The hostilities of the barbarians
provoked the resentment of that philosophic monarch, and, in the
prosecution of a just defence, Marcus and his generals obtained
many signal victories, both on the Euphrates and on the Danube.
^29 The military establishment of the Roman empire, which thus
assured either its tranquillity or success, will now become the
proper and important object of our attention.

[Footnote 29: Dion, l. lxxi. Hist. August. in Marco. The
Parthian victories gave birth to a crowd of contemptible
historians, whose memory has been rescued from oblivion and
exposed to ridicule, in a very lively piece of criticism of

In the purer ages of the commonwealth, the use of arms was
reserved for those ranks of citizens who had a country to love,
property to defend, and some share in enacting those laws, which
it was their interest as well as duty to maintain. But in
proportion as the public freedom was lost in extent of conquest,
war was gradually improved into an art, and degraded into a trade.
^30 The legions themselves, even at the time when they were
recruited in the most distant provinces, were supposed to consist
of Roman citizens. That distinction was generally considered,
either as a legal qualification or as a proper recompense for the
soldier; but a more serious regard was paid to the essential merit
of age, strength, and military stature. ^31 In all levies, a just
preference was given to the climates of the North over those of
the South: the race of men born to the exercise of arms was sought
for in the country rather than in cities; and it was very
reasonably presumed, that the hardy occupations of smiths,
carpenters, and huntsmen, would supply more vigor and resolution
than the sedentary trades which are employed in the service of
luxury. ^32 After every qualification of property had been laid
aside, the armies of the Roman emperors were still commanded, for
the most part, by officers of liberal birth and education; but the

common soldiers, like the mercenary troops of modern Europe, were
drawn from the meanest, and very frequently from the most
profligate, of mankind.

[Footnote 30: The poorest rank of soldiers possessed above forty
pounds sterling, (Dionys. Halicarn. iv. 17,) a very high
qualification at a time when money was so scarce, that an ounce of
silver was equivalent to seventy pounds weight of brass. The
populace, excluded by the ancient constitution, were
indiscriminately admitted by Marius. See Sallust. de Bell.
Jugurth. c. 91.

Note: On the uncertainty of all these estimates, and the
difficulty of fixing the relative value of brass and silver,
compare Niebuhr, vol. i. p. 473, &c. Eng. trans. p. 452.
According to Niebuhr, the relative disproportion in value, between
the two metals, arose, in a great degree from the abundance of
brass or copper. - M. Compare also Dureau 'de la Malle Economie
Politique des Romains especially L. l. c. ix. - M. 1845.

[Footnote 31: Caesar formed his legion Alauda of Gauls and
strangers; but it was during the license of civil war; and after
the victory, he gave them the freedom of the city for their

[Footnote 32: See Vegetius, de Re Militari, l. i. c. 2 - 7.] That
public virtue, which among the ancients was denominated
patriotism, is derived from a strong sense of our own interest in
the preservation and prosperity of the free government of which we
are members. Such a sentiment, which had rendered the legions of
the republic almost invincible, could make but a very feeble
impression on the mercenary servants of a despotic prince; and it
became necessary to supply that defect by other motives, of
different, but not less forcible nature - honor and religion. The
peasant, or mechanic, imbibed the useful prejudice that he was
advanced to the more dignified profession of arms, in which his
rank and reputation would depend on his own valor; and that,
although the prowess of a private soldier must often escape the
notice of fame, his own behavior might sometimes confer glory or
disgrace on the company, the legion, or even the army, to whose
honors he was associated. On his first entrance into the service,
an oath was administered to him with every circumstance of
solemnity. He promised never to desert his standard, to submit
his own will to the commands of his leaders, and to sacrifice his
life for the safety of the emperor and the empire. ^33 The
attachment of the Roman troops to their standards was inspired by
the united influence of religion and of honor. The golden eagle,
which glittered in the front of the legion, was the object of
their fondest devotion; nor was it esteemed less impious than it
was ignominious, to abandon that sacred ensign in the hour of
danger. ^34 These motives, which derived their strength from the
imagination, were enforced by fears and hopes of a more

substantial kind. Regular pay, occasional donatives, and a stated
recompense, after the appointed time of service, alleviated the
hardships of the military life, ^35 whilst, on the other hand, it
was impossible for cowardice or disobedience to escape the
severest punishment. The centurions were authorized to chastise
with blows, the generals had a right to punish with death; and it
was an inflexible maxim of Roman discipline, that a good soldier
should dread his officers far more than the enemy. From such
laudable arts did the valor of the Imperial troops receive
degree of firmness and docility unattainable by the impetuous and
irregular passions of barbarians.

[Footnote 33: The oath of service and fidelity to the emperor was
annually renewed by the troops on the first of January.

[Footnote 34: Tacitus calls the Roman eagles, Bellorum Deos. They
were placed in a chapel in the camp, and with the other deities
received the religious worship of the troops.

Note: See also Dio. Cass. xl. c. 18. - M.

[Footnote 35: See Gronovius de Pecunia vetere, l. iii. p. 120, &c.
The emperor Domitian raised the annual stipend of the legionaries
to twelve pieces of gold, which, in his time, was equivalent to
about ten of our guineas. This pay, somewhat higher than our own,
had been, and was afterwards, gradually increased, according to
the progress of wealth and military government. After twenty
years' service, the veteran received three thousand denarii,
(about one hundred pounds sterling,) or a proportionable allowance
of land. The pay and advantages of the guards were, in general,
about double those of the legions.] And yet so sensible were the
Romans of the imperfection of valor without skill and practice,
that, in their language, the name of an army was borrowed from the
word which signified exercise. ^36 Military exercises were the
important and unremitted object of their discipline. The recruits
and young soldiers were constantly trained, both in the morning
and in the evening, nor was age or knowledge allowed to excuse the
veterans from the daily repetition of what they had completely
learnt. Large sheds were erected in the winter- quarters of the
troops, that their useful labors might not receive any
interruption from the most tempestuous weather; and it was
carefully observed, that the arms destined to this imitation of
war, should be of double the weight which was required in real
action. ^37 It is not the purpose of this work to enter into any
minute description of the Roman exercises. We shall only remark,
that they comprehended whatever could add strength to the body,
activity to the limbs, or grace to the motions. The soldiers were
diligently instructed to march, to run, to leap, to swim, to carry
heavy burdens, to handle every species of arms that was used
either for offence or for defence, either in distant engagement or
in a closer onset; to form a variety of evolutions; and to move to
the sound of flutes in the Pyrrhic or martial dance. ^38 In the

midst of peace, the Roman troops familiarized themselves with the
practice of war; and it is prettily remarked by an ancient
historian who had fought against them, that the effusion of blood
was the only circumstance which distinguished a field of battle
from a field of exercise. ^39 It was the policy of the ablest
generals, and even of the emperors themselves, to encourage these
military studies by their presence and example; and we are
informed that Hadrian, as well as Trajan, frequently condescended
to instruct the unexperienced soldiers, to reward the diligent,
and sometimes to dispute with them the prize of superior strength
or dexterity. ^40 Under the reigns of those princes, the science
of tactics was cultivated with success; and as long as the empire
retained any vigor, their military instructions were respected as
the most perfect model of Roman discipline.

[Footnote 36: Exercitus ab exercitando, Varro de Lingua Latina, l.

iv. Cicero in Tusculan. l. ii. 37. [15.] There is room for a very
interesting work, which should lay open the connection between the
languages and manners of nations.
Note I am not aware of the existence, at present, of such a work;
but the profound observations of the late William von Humboldt, in
the introduction to his posthumously published Essay on the
Language of the Island of Java, (uber die Kawi-sprache, Berlin,
1836,) may cause regret that this task was not completed by that
accomplished and universal scholar. - M.

[Footnote 37: Vegatius, l. ii. and the rest of his first book.
[Footnote 38: The Pyrrhic dance is extremely well illustrated by

M. le Beau, in the Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xxxv. p. 262,
&c. That learned academician, in a series of memoirs, has
collected all the passages of the ancients that relate to the
Roman legion.
[Footnote 39: Joseph. de Bell. Judaico, l. iii. c. 5. We are
indebted to this Jew for some very curious details of Roman

[Footnote 40: Plin. Panegyr. c. 13. Life of Hadrian, in the
Augustan History.

Nine centuries of war had gradually introduced into the service
many alterations and improvements. The legions, as they are
described by Polybius, ^41 in the time of the Punic wars, differed
very materially from those which achieved the victories of Caesar,
or defended the monarchy of Hadrian and the Antonines. The
constitution of the Imperial legion may be described in a few
words. ^42 The heavy-armed infantry, which composed its principal
strength, ^43 was divided into ten cohorts, and fifty-five
companies, under the orders of a correspondent number of tribunes
and centurions. The first cohort, which always claimed the post
of honor and the custody of the eagle, was formed of eleven

hundred and five soldiers, the most approved for valor and
fidelity. The remaining nine cohorts consisted each of five
hundred and fifty-five; and the whole body of legionary infantry
amounted to six thousand one hundred men. Their arms were
uniform, and admirably adapted to the nature of their service: an
open helmet, with a lofty crest; a breastplate, or coat of mail;
greaves on their legs, and an ample buckler on their left arm. The
buckler was of an oblong and concave figure, four feet in length,
and two and a half in breadth, framed of a light wood, covered
with a bull's hide, and strongly guarded with plates of brass.
Besides a lighter spear, the legionary soldier grasped in his
right hand the formidable pilum, a ponderous javelin, whose utmost
length was about six feet, and which was terminated by a massy
triangular point of steel of eighteen inches. ^44 This instrument
was indeed much inferior to our modern fire-arms; since it was
exhausted by a single discharge, at the distance of only ten or
twelve paces. Yet when it was launched by a firm and skilful
hand, there was not any cavalry that durst venture within its
reach, nor any shield or corselet that could sustain the
impetuosity of its weight. As soon as the Roman had darted his
pilum, he drew his sword, and rushed forwards to close with the
enemy. His sword was a short well-tempered Spanish blade, that
carried a double edge, and was alike suited to the purpose of
striking or of pushing; but the soldier was always instructed to
prefer the latter use of his weapon, as his own body remained less
exposed, whilst he inflicted a more dangerous wound on his
adversary. ^45 The legion was usually drawn up eight deep; and the
regular distance of three feet was left between the files as well
as ranks. ^46 A body of troops, habituated to preserve this open
order, in a long front and a rapid charge, found themselves
prepared to execute every disposition which the circumstances of
war, or the skill of their leader, might suggest. The soldier
possessed a free space for his arms and motions, and sufficient
intervals were allowed, through which seasonable reenforcements
might be introduced to the relief of the exhausted combatants. ^47
The tactics of the Greeks and Macedonians were formed on very
different principles. The strength of the phalanx depended on
sixteen ranks of long pikes, wedged together in the closest array.
^48 But it was soon discovered by reflection, as well as by the
event, that the strength of the phalanx was unable to contend with
the activity of the legion. ^49

[Footnote 41: See an admirable digression on the Roman discipline,
in the sixth book of his History.

[Footnote 42: Vegetius de Re Militari, l. ii. c. 4, &c.

Considerable part of his very perplexed abridgment was taken from
the regulations of Trajan and Hadrian; and the legion, as he
describes it, cannot suit any other age of the Roman empire.
[Footnote 43: Vegetius de Re Militari, l. ii. c. 1. In the purer
age of Caesar and Cicero, the word miles was almost confined to

the infantry. Under the lower empire, and the times of chivalry,
it was appropriated almost as exclusively to the men at arms, who
fought on horseback.

[Footnote 44: In the time of Polybius and Dionysius of
Halicarnassus, (l. v. c. 45,) the steel point of the pilum seems
to have been much longer. In the time of Vegetius, it was reduced
to a foot, or even nine inches. I have chosen a medium.
[Footnote 45: For the legionary arms, see Lipsius de Militia
Romana, l. iii. c. 2 - 7.

[Footnote 46: See the beautiful comparison of Virgil, Georgic ii.

v. 279.
[Footnote 47: M. Guichard, Memoires Militaires, tom. i. c. 4, and
Nouveaux Memoires, tom. i. p. 293 - 311, has treated the subject
like a scholar and an officer.

[Footnote 48: See Arrian's Tactics. With the true partiality of
Greek, Arrian rather chose to describe the phalanx, of which he
had read, than the legions which he had commanded.

[Footnote 49: Polyb. l. xvii. (xviii. 9.)

The cavalry, without which the force of the legion would have
remained imperfect, was divided into ten troops or squadrons; the
first, as the companion of the first cohort, consisted of
hundred and thirty-two men; whilst each of the other nine amounted
only to sixty-six. The entire establishment formed a regiment, if
we may use the modern expression, of seven hundred and twenty-six
horse, naturally connected with its respective legion, but
occasionally separated to act in the line, and to compose a part
of the wings of the army. ^50 The cavalry of the emperors was no
longer composed, like that of the ancient republic, of the noblest
youths of Rome and Italy, who, by performing their military
service on horseback, prepared themselves for the offices of
senator and consul; and solicited, by deeds of valor, the future
suffrages of their countrymen. ^51 Since the alteration of manners
and government, the most wealthy of the equestrian order were
engaged in the administration of justice, and of the revenue; ^52
and whenever they embraced the profession of arms, they were
immediately intrusted with a troop of horse, or a cohort of foot.
^53 Trajan and Hadrian formed their cavalry from the same
provinces, and the same class of their subjects, which recruited
the ranks of the legion. The horses were bred, for the most part,
in Spain or Cappadocia. The Roman troopers despised the complete
armor with which the cavalry of the East was encumbered. Their
more useful arms consisted in a helmet, an oblong shield, light
boots, and a coat of mail. A javelin, and a long broad sword,
were their principal weapons of offence. The use of lances and of
iron maces they seem to have borrowed from the barbarians. ^54

[Footnote 50: Veget. de Re Militari, l. ii. c. 6. His positive
testimony, which might be supported by circumstantial evidence,
ought surely to silence those critics who refuse the Imperial
legion its proper body of cavalry. Note: See also Joseph. B. J.

iii. vi. 2. - M.
[Footnote 51: See Livy almost throughout, particularly xlii. 61.

[Footnote 52: Plin. Hist. Natur. xxxiii. 2. The true sense of
that very curious passage was first discovered and illustrated by

M. de Beaufort, Republique Romaine, l. ii. c. 2.
[Footnote 53: As in the instance of Horace and Agricola. This
appears to have been a defect in the Roman discipline; which
Hadrian endeavored to remedy by ascertaining the legal age of

Note: These details are not altogether accurate. Although, in the
latter days of the republic, and under the first emperors, the
young Roman nobles obtained the command of a squadron or a cohort
with greater facility than in the former times, they never
obtained it without passing through a tolerably long military
service. Usually they served first in the praetorian cohort,
which was intrusted with the guard of the general: they were
received into the companionship (contubernium) of some superior
officer, and were there formed for duty. Thus Julius Caesar,
though sprung from a great family, served first as contubernalis
under the praetor, M. Thermus, and later under Servilius the
Isaurian. (Suet. Jul. 2, 5. Plut. in Par. p. 516. Ed. Froben.
The example of Horace, which Gibbon adduces to prove that young
knights were made tribunes immediately on entering the service,
proves nothing. In the first place, Horace was not a knight; he
was the son of a freedman of Venusia, in Apulia, who exercised the
humble office of coactor exauctionum, (collector of payments at
auctions.) (Sat. i. vi. 45, or 86.) Moreover, when the poet was
made tribune, Brutus, whose army was nearly entirely composed of
Orientals, gave this title to all the Romans of consideration who
joined him. The emperors were still less difficult in their
choice; the number of tribunes was augmented; the title and honors
were conferred on persons whom they wished to attack to the court.
Augustus conferred on the sons of senators, sometimes the
tribunate, sometimes the command of a squadron. Claudius gave to
the knights who entered into the service, first the command of
cohort of auxiliaries, later that of a squadron, and at length,
for the first time, the tribunate. (Suet in Claud. with the notes
of Ernesti.) The abuses that arose caused by the edict of Hadrian,
which fixed the age at which that honor could be attained.
(Spart. in Had. &c.) This edict was subsequently obeyed; for the
emperor Valerian, in a letter addressed to Mulvius Gallinnus,
praetorian praefect, excuses himself for having violated it in
favor of the young Probus afterwards emperor, on whom he had

conferred the tribunate at an earlier age on account of his rare
talents. (Vopisc. in Prob. iv.) - W. and G. Agricola, though
already invested with the title of tribune, was contubernalis in
Britain with Suetonius Paulinus. Tac. Agr. v. - M.

[Footnote 54: See Arrian's Tactics.

The safety and honor of the empire was principally intrusted to
the legions, but the policy of Rome condescended to adopt every
useful instrument of war. Considerable levies were regularly made
among the provincials, who had not yet deserved the honorable
distinction of Romans. Many dependent princes and communities,
dispersed round the frontiers, were permitted, for a while, to
hold their freedom and security by the tenure of military service.
^55 Even select troops of hostile barbarians were frequently
compelled or persuaded to consume their dangerous valor in remote
climates, and for the benefit of the state. ^56 All these were
included under the general name of auxiliaries; and howsoever they
might vary according to the difference of times and circumstances,
their numbers were seldom much inferior to those of the legions
themselves. ^57 Among the auxiliaries, the bravest and most
faithful bands were placed under the command of praefects and
centurions, and severely trained in the arts of Roman discipline;
but the far greater part retained those arms, to which the nature
of their country, or their early habits of life, more peculiarly
adapted them. By this institution, each legion, to whom a certain
proportion of auxiliaries was allotted, contained within itself
every species of lighter troops, and of missile weapons; and was
capable of encountering every nation, with the advantages of its
respective arms and discipline. ^58 Nor was the legion destitute
of what, in modern language, would be styled a train of artillery.
It consisted in ten military engines of the largest, and fifty-
five of a smaller size; but all of which, either in an oblique or
horizontal manner, discharged stones and darts with irresistible
violence. ^59 [Footnote 55: Such, in particular, was the state of
the Batavians. Tacit. Germania, c. 29.

[Footnote 56: Marcus Antoninus obliged the vanquished Quadi and
Marcomanni to supply him with a large body of troops, which he
immediately sent into Britain. Dion Cassius, l. lxxi. (c. 16.)
[Footnote 57: Tacit. Annal. iv. 5. Those who fix a regular
proportion of as many foot, and twice as many horse, confound the
auxiliaries of the emperors with the Italian allies of the

[Footnote 58: Vegetius, ii. 2. Arrian, in his order of march and
battle against the Alani.

[Footnote 59: The subject of the ancient machines is treated with
great knowledge and ingenuity by the Chevalier Folard, (Polybe,
tom. ii. p. 233- 290.) He prefers them in many respects to our
modern cannon and mortars. We may observe, that the use of them

in the field gradually became more prevalent, in proportion as
personal valor and military skill declined with the Roman empire.
When men were no longer found, their place was supplied by
machines. See Vegetius, ii. 25. Arrian.

Chapter I: The Extend Of The Empire In The Age Of The Anoninies.

Part III.

The camp of a Roman legion presented the appearance of a fortified
city. ^60 As soon as the space was marked out, the pioneers
carefully levelled the ground, and removed every impediment that
might interrupt its perfect regularity. Its form was an exact
quadrangle; and we may calculate, that a square of about seven
hundred yards was sufficient for the encampment of twenty thousand
Romans; though a similar number of our own troops would expose to
the enemy a front of more than treble that extent. In the midst
of the camp, the praetorium, or general's quarters, rose above the
others; the cavalry, the infantry, and the auxiliaries occupied
their respective stations; the streets were broad and perfectly
straight, and a vacant space of two hundred feet was left on all
sides between the tents and the rampart. The rampart itself was
usually twelve feet high, armed with a line of strong and
intricate palisades, and defended by a ditch of twelve feet in
depth as well as in breadth. This important labor was performed
by the hands of the legionaries themselves; to whom the use of the
spade and the pickaxe was no less familiar than that of the sword
or pilum. Active valor may often be the present of nature; but
such patient diligence can be the fruit only of habit and
discipline. ^61

[Footnote 60: Vegetius finishes his second book, and the
description of the legion, with the following emphatic words:
"Universa quae ix quoque belli genere necessaria esse creduntur,
secum Jegio debet ubique portare, ut in quovis loco fixerit
castra, arma'am faciat civitatem."

[Footnote 61: For the Roman Castrametation, see Polybius, l. vi.
with Lipsius de Militia Romana, Joseph. de Bell. Jud. l. iii. c.

5. Vegetius, i. 21 - 25, iii. 9, and Memoires de Guichard, tom.
i. c. 1.
Whenever the trumpet gave the signal of departure, the camp was
almost instantly broke up, and the troops fell into their ranks
without delay or confusion. Besides their arms, which the
legendaries scarcely considered as an encumbrance, they were laden
with their kitchen furniture, the instruments of fortification,
and the provision of many days. ^62 Under this weight, which would
oppress the delicacy of a modern soldier, they were trained by
regular step to advance, in about six hours, near twenty miles.
^63 On the appearance of an enemy, they threw aside their baggage,
and by easy and rapid evolutions converted the column of march

into an order of battle. ^64 The slingers and archers skirmished
in the front; the auxiliaries formed the first line, and were
seconded or sustained by the strength of the legions; the cavalry
covered the flanks, and the military engines were placed in the

[Footnote 62: Cicero in Tusculan. ii. 37, [15.] - Joseph. de Bell.
Jud. l. iii. 5, Frontinus, iv. 1.

[Footnote 63: Vegetius, i. 9. See Memoires de l'Academie des
Inscriptions, tom. xxv. p. 187.

[Footnote 64: See those evolutions admirably well explained by M.
Guichard Nouveaux Memoires, tom. i. p. 141 - 234.

Such were the arts of war, by which the Roman emperors defended
their extensive conquests, and preserved a military spirit, at
time when every other virtue was oppressed by luxury and
despotism. If, in the consideration of their armies, we pass from
their discipline to their numbers, we shall not find it easy to
define them with any tolerable accuracy. We may compute, however,
that the legion, which was itself a body of six thousand eight
hundred and thirty-one Romans, might, with its attendant
auxiliaries, amount to about twelve thousand five hundred men. The
peace establishment of Hadrian and his successors was composed of
no less than thirty of these formidable brigades; and most
probably formed a standing force of three hundred and seventy-five
thousand men. Instead of being confined within the walls of
fortified cities, which the Romans considered as the refuge of
weakness or pusillanimity, the legions were encamped on the banks
of the great rivers, and along the frontiers of the barbarians.
As their stations, for the most part, remained fixed and
permanent, we may venture to describe the distribution of the
troops. Three legions were sufficient for Britain. The principal
strength lay upon the Rhine and Danube, and consisted of sixteen
legions, in the following proportions: two in the Lower, and three
in the Upper Germany; one in Rhaetia, one in Noricum, four in
Pannonia, three in Maesia, and two in Dacia. The defence of the
Euphrates was intrusted to eight legions, six of whom were planted
in Syria, and the other two in Cappadocia. With regard to Egypt,
Africa, and Spain, as they were far removed from any important
scene of war, a single legion maintained the domestic tranquillity
of each of those great provinces. Even Italy was not left
destitute of a military force. Above twenty thousand chosen
soldiers, distinguished by the titles of City Cohorts and
Praetorian Guards, watched over the safety of the monarch and the
capital. As the authors of almost every revolution that
distracted the empire, the Praetorians will, very soon, and very
loudly, demand our attention; but, in their arms and institutions,
we cannot find any circumstance which discriminated them from the
legions, unless it were a more splendid appearance, and a less
rigid discipline. ^65

[Footnote 65: Tacitus (Annal. iv. 5) has given us a state of the
legions under Tiberius; and Dion Cassius (l. lv. p. 794) under
Alexander Severus. I have endeavored to fix on the proper medium
between these two periods. See likewise Lipsius de Magnitudine
Romana, l. i. c. 4, 5.

The navy maintained by the emperors might seem inadequate to their
greatness; but it was fully sufficient for every useful purpose of
government. The ambition of the Romans was confined to the land;
nor was that warlike people ever actuated by the enterprising
spirit which had prompted the navigators of Tyre, of Carthage, and
even of Marseilles, to enlarge the bounds of the world, and to
explore the most remote coasts of the ocean. To the Romans the
ocean remained an object of terror rather than of curiosity; ^66
the whole extent of the Mediterranean, after the destruction of
Carthage, and the extirpation of the pirates, was included within
their provinces. The policy of the emperors was directed only to
preserve the peaceful dominion of that sea, and to protect the
commerce of their subjects. With these moderate views, Augustus
stationed two permanent fleets in the most convenient ports of
Italy, the one at Ravenna, on the Adriatic, the other at Misenum,
in the Bay of Naples. Experience seems at length to have
convinced the ancients, that as soon as their galleys exceeded
two, or at the most three ranks of oars, they were suited rather
for vain pomp than for real service. Augustus himself, in the
victory of Actium, had seen the superiority of his own light
frigates (they were called Liburnians) over the lofty but unwieldy
castles of his rival. ^67 Of these Liburnians he composed the two
fleets of Ravenna and Misenum, destined to command, the one the
eastern, the other the western division of the Mediterranean; and
to each of the squadrons he attached a body of several thousand
marines. Besides these two ports, which may be considered as the
principal seats of the Roman navy, a very considerable force was
stationed at Frejus, on the coast of Provence, and the Euxine was
guarded by forty ships, and three thousand soldiers. To all these
we add the fleet which preserved the communication between Gaul
and Britain, and a great number of vessels constantly maintained
on the Rhine and Danube, to harass the country, or to intercept
the passage of the barbarians. ^68 If we review this general state
of the Imperial forces; of the cavalry as well as infantry; of the
legions, the auxiliaries, the guards, and the navy; the most
liberal computation will not allow us to fix the entire
establishment by sea and by land at more than four hundred and
fifty thousand men: a military power, which, however formidable it
may seem, was equalled by a monarch of the last century, whose
kingdom was confined within a single province of the Roman empire.

[Footnote 66: The Romans tried to disguise, by the pretence of
religious awe their ignorance and terror. See Tacit. Germania, c.

[Footnote 67: Plutarch, in Marc. Anton. [c. 67.] And yet, if we
may credit Orosius, these monstrous castles were no more than ten
feet above the water, vi. 19.

[Footnote 68: See Lipsius, de Magnitud. Rom. l. i. c. 5. The
sixteen last chapters of Vegetius relate to naval affairs.
[Footnote 69: Voltaire, Siecle de Louis XIV. c. 29. It must,
however, be remembered, that France still feels that extraordinary

We have attempted to explain the spirit which moderated, and the
strength which supported, the power of Hadrian and the Antonines.
We shall now endeavor, with clearness and precision, to describe
the provinces once united under their sway, but, at present,
divided into so many independent and hostile states. Spain, the
western extremity of the empire, of Europe, and of the ancient
world, has, in every age, invariably preserved the same natural
limits; the Pyrenaean Mountains, the Mediterranean, and the
Atlantic Ocean. That great peninsula, at present so unequally
divided between two sovereigns, was distributed by Augustus into
three provinces, Lusitania, Baetica, and Tarraconensis. The
kingdom of Portugal now fills the place of the warlike country of
the Lusitanians; and the loss sustained by the former on the side
of the East, is compensated by an accession of territory towards
the North. The confines of Grenada and Andalusia correspond with
those of ancient Baetica. The remainder of Spain, Gallicia, and
the Asturias, Biscay, and Navarre, Leon, and the two Castiles,
Murcia, Valencia, Catalonia, and Arragon, all contributed to form
the third and most considerable of the Roman governments, which,
from the name of its capital, was styled the province of
Tarragona. ^70 Of the native barbarians, the Celtiberians were the
most powerful, as the Cantabrians and Asturians proved the most
obstinate. Confident in the strength of their mountains, they were
the last who submitted to the arms of Rome, and the first who
threw off the yoke of the Arabs.

[Footnote 70: See Strabo, l. ii. It is natural enough to suppose,
that Arragon is derived from Tarraconensis, and several moderns
who have written in Latin use those words as synonymous. It is,
however, certain, that the Arragon, a little stream which falls
from the Pyrenees into the Ebro, first gave its name to a country,
and gradually to a kingdom. See d'Anville, Geographie du Moyen
Age, p. 181.

Ancient Gaul, as it contained the whole country between the
Pyrenees, the Alps, the Rhine, and the Ocean, was of greater
extent than modern France. To the dominions of that powerful
monarchy, with its recent acquisitions of Alsace and Lorraine, we
must add the duchy of Savoy, the cantons of Switzerland, the four
electorates of the Rhine, and the territories of Liege,
Luxemburgh, Hainault, Flanders, and Brabant. When Augustus gave

laws to the conquests of his father, he introduced a division of
Gaul, equally adapted to the progress of the legions, to the
course of the rivers, and to the principal national distinctions,
which had comprehended above a hundred independent states. ^71 The
sea-coast of the Mediterranean, Languedoc, Provence, and Dauphine,
received their provincial appellation from the colony of Narbonne.
The government of Aquitaine was extended from the Pyrenees to the
Loire. The country between the Loire and the Seine was styled the
Celtic Gaul, and soon borrowed a new denomination from the
celebrated colony of Lugdunum, or Lyons. The Belgic lay beyond the
Seine, and in more ancient times had been bounded only by the
Rhine; but a little before the age of Caesar, the Germans, abusing
their superiority of valor, had occupied a considerable portion of
the Belgic territory. The Roman conquerors very eagerly embraced
so flattering a circumstance, and the Gallic frontier of the
Rhine, from Basil to Leyden, received the pompous names of the
Upper and the Lower Germany. ^72 Such, under the reign of the
Antonines, were the six provinces of Gaul; the Narbonnese,
Aquitaine, the Celtic, or Lyonnese, the Belgic, and the two

[Footnote 71: One hundred and fifteen cities appear in the Notitia
of Gaul; and it is well known that this appellation was applied
not only to the capital town, but to the whole territory of each
state. But Plutarch and Appian increase the number of tribes to
three or four hundred.] [Footnote 72: D'Anville. Notice de
l'Ancienne Gaule.

We have already had occasion to mention the conquest of Britain,
and to fix the boundary of the Roman Province in this island. It
comprehended all England, Wales, and the Lowlands of Scotland, as
far as the Friths of Dumbarton and Edinburgh. Before Britain lost
her freedom, the country was irregularly divided between thirty
tribes of barbarians, of whom the most considerable were the
Belgae in the West, the Brigantes in the North, the Silures in
South Wales, and the Iceni in Norfolk and Suffolk. ^73 As far as
we can either trace or credit the resemblance of manners and
language, Spain, Gaul, and Britain were peopled by the same hardy
race of savages. Before they yielded to the Roman arms, they
often disputed the field, and often renewed the contest. After
their submission, they constituted the western division of the
European provinces, which extended from the columns of Hercules to
the wall of Antoninus, and from the mouth of the Tagus to the
sources of the Rhine and Danube.

[Footnote 73: Whittaker's History of Manchester, vol. i. c. 3.
Before the Roman conquest, the country which is now called
Lombardy, was not considered as a part of Italy. It had been
occupied by a powerful colony of Gauls, who, settling themselves
along the banks of the Po, from Piedmont to Romagna, carried their
arms and diffused their name from the Alps to the Apennine. The
Ligurians dwelt on the rocky coast which now forms the republic of

Genoa. Venice was yet unborn; but the territories of that state,
which lie to the east of the Adige, were inhabited by the
Venetians. ^74 The middle part of the peninsula, that now composes
the duchy of Tuscany and the ecclesiastical state, was the ancient
seat of the Etruscans and Umbrians; to the former of whom Italy
was indebted for the first rudiments of civilized life. ^75 The
Tyber rolled at the foot of the seven hills of Rome, and the
country of the Sabines, the Latins, and the Volsci, from that
river to the frontiers of Naples, was the theatre of her infant
victories. On that celebrated ground the first consuls deserved
triumphs, their successors adorned villas, and their posterity
have erected convents. ^76 Capua and Campania possessed the
immediate territory of Naples; the rest of the kingdom was
inhabited by many warlike nations, the Marsi, the Samnites, the
Apulians, and the Lucanians; and the sea-coasts had been covered
by the flourishing colonies of the Greeks. We may remark, that
when Augustus divided Italy into eleven regions, the little
province of Istria was annexed to that seat of Roman sovereignty.

[Footnote 74: The Italian Veneti, though often confounded with the
Gauls, were more probably of Illyrian origin. See M. Freret,
Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xviii.

Note: Or Liburnian, according to Niebuhr. Vol. i. p. 172. - M.
[Footnote 75: See Maffei Verona illustrata, l. i.

Note: Add Niebuhr, vol. i., and Otfried Muller, die Etrusker,
which contains much that is known, and much that is conjectured,
about this remarkable people. Also Micali, Storia degli antichi
popoli Italiani. Florence, 1832 - M.

[Footnote 76: The first contrast was observed by the ancients. See
Florus, i. 11. The second must strike every modern traveller.

[Footnote 77: Pliny (Hist. Natur. l. iii.) follows the division of
Italy by Augustus.

The European provinces of Rome were protected by the course of the
Rhine and the Danube. The latter of those mighty streams, which
rises at the distance of only thirty miles from the former, flows
above thirteen hundred miles, for the most part to the south-east,
collects the tribute of sixty navigable rivers, and is, at length,
through six mouths, received into the Euxine, which appears
scarcely equal to such an accession of waters. ^78 The provinces
of the Danube soon acquired the general appellation of Illyricum,
or the Illyrian frontier, ^79 and were esteemed the most warlike
of the empire; but they deserve to be more particularly considered
under the names of Rhaetia, Noricum, Pannonia, Dalmatia, Dacia,
Maesia, Thrace, Macedonia, and Greece. [Footnote 78: Tournefort,
Voyages en Grece et Asie Mineure, lettre xviii.

[Footnote 79: The name of Illyricum originally belonged to the
sea-coast of the Adriatic, and was gradually extended by the
Romans from the Alps to the Euxine Sea. See Severini Pannonia, l.

i. c. 3.
The province of Rhaetia, which soon extinguished the name of the
Vindelicians, extended from the summit of the Alps to the banks of
the Danube; from its source, as far as its conflux with the Inn.
The greatest part of the flat country is subject to the elector of
Bavaria; the city of Augsburg is protected by the constitution of
the German empire; the Grisons are safe in their mountains, and
the country of Tirol is ranked among the numerous provinces of the
house of Austria.

The wide extent of territory which is included between the Inn,
the Danube, and the Save, - Austria, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola,
the Lower Hungary, and Sclavonia, - was known to the ancients
under the names of Noricum and Pannonia. In their original state
of independence, their fierce inhabitants were intimately
connected. Under the Roman government they were frequently
united, and they still remain the patrimony of a single family.
They now contain the residence of a German prince, who styles
himself Emperor of the Romans, and form the centre, as well as
strength, of the Austrian power. It may not be improper to
observe, that if we except Bohemia, Moravia, the northern skirts
of Austria, and a part of Hungary between the Teyss and the
Danube, all the other dominions of the House of Austria were
comprised within the limits of the Roman Empire.

Dalmatia, to which the name of Illyricum more properly belonged,
was a long, but narrow tract, between the Save and the Adriatic.
The best part of the sea-coast, which still retains its ancient
appellation, is a province of the Venetian state, and the seat of
the little republic of Ragusa. The inland parts have assumed the
Sclavonian names of Croatia and Bosnia; the former obeys an
Austrian governor, the latter a Turkish pacha; but the whole
country is still infested by tribes of barbarians, whose savage
independence irregularly marks the doubtful limit of the Christian
and Mahometan power. ^80

[Footnote 80: A Venetian traveller, the Abbate Fortis, has lately
given us some account of those very obscure countries. But the
geography and antiquities of the western Illyricum can be expected
only from the munificence of the emperor, its sovereign.

After the Danube had received the waters of the Teyss and the
Save, it acquired, at least among the Greeks, the name of Ister.
^81 It formerly divided Maesia and Dacia, the latter of which, as
we have already seen, was a conquest of Trajan, and the only
province beyond the river. If we inquire into the present state
of those countries, we shall find that, on the left hand of the
Danube, Temeswar and Transylvania have been annexed, after many

revolutions, to the crown of Hungary; whilst the principalities of
Moldavia and Wallachia acknowledge the supremacy of the Ottoman
Porte. On the right hand of the Danube, Maesia, which, during the
middle ages, was broken into the barbarian kingdoms of Servia and
Bulgaria, is again united in Turkish slavery.

[Footnote 81: The Save rises near the confines of Istria, and was
considered by the more early Greeks as the principal stream of the

The appellation of Roumelia, which is still bestowed by the Turks
on the extensive countries of Thrace, Macedonia, and Greece,
preserves the memory of their ancient state under the Roman
empire. In the time of the Antonines, the martial regions of
Thrace, from the mountains of Haemus and Rhodope, to the Bosphorus
and the Hellespont, had assumed the form of a province.
Notwithstanding the change of masters and of religion, the new
city of Rome, founded by Constantine on the banks of the
Bosphorus, has ever since remained the capital of a great
monarchy. The kingdom of Macedonia, which, under the reign of
Alexander, gave laws to Asia, derived more solid advantages from
the policy of the two Philips; and with its dependencies of Epirus
and Thessaly, extended from the Aegean to the Ionian Sea. When we
reflect on the fame of Thebes and Argos, of Sparta and Athens, we
can scarcely persuade ourselves, that so many immortal republics
of ancient Greece were lost in a single province of the Roman
empire, which, from the superior influence of the Achaean league,
was usually denominated the province of Achaia.

Such was the state of Europe under the Roman emperors. The
provinces of Asia, without excepting the transient conquests of
Trajan, are all comprehended within the limits of the Turkish
power. But, instead of following the arbitrary divisions of
despotism and ignorance, it will be safer for us, as well as more
agreeable, to observe the indelible characters of nature. The
name of Asia Minor is attributed with some propriety to the
peninsula, which, confined betwixt the Euxine and the
Mediterranean, advances from the Euphrates towards Europe. The
most extensive and flourishing district, westward of Mount Taurus
and the River Halys, was dignified by the Romans with the
exclusive title of Asia. The jurisdiction of that province
extended over the ancient monarchies of Troy, Lydia, and Phrygia,
the maritime countries of the Pamphylians, Lycians, and Carians,
and the Grecian colonies of Ionia, which equalled in arts, though
not in arms, the glory of their parent. The kingdoms of Bithynia
and Pontus possessed the northern side of the peninsula from
Constantinople to Trebizond. On the opposite side, the province
of Cilicia was terminated by the mountains of Syria: the inland
country, separated from the Roman Asia by the River Halys, and
from Armenia by the Euphrates, had once formed the independent
kingdom of Cappadocia. In this place we may observe, that the
northern shores of the Euxine, beyond Trebizond in Asia, and

beyond the Danube in Europe, acknowledged the sovereignty of the
emperors, and received at their hands either tributary princes or
Roman garrisons. Budzak, Crim Tartary, Circassia, and Mingrelia,
are the modern appellations of those savage countries. ^82
[Footnote 82: See the Periplus of Arrian. He examined the coasts
of the Euxine, when he was governor of Cappadocia.

Under the successors of Alexander, Syria was the seat of the
Seleucidae, who reigned over Upper Asia, till the successful
revolt of the Parthians confined their dominions between the
Euphrates and the Mediterranean. When Syria became subject to the
Romans, it formed the eastern frontier of their empire: nor did
that province, in its utmost latitude, know any other bounds than
the mountains of Cappadocia to the north, and towards the south,
the confines of Egypt, and the Red Sea. Phoenicia and Palestine
were sometimes annexed to, and sometimes separated from, the
jurisdiction of Syria. The former of these was a narrow and rocky
coast; the latter was a territory scarcely superior to Wales,
either in fertility or extent. ^* Yet Phoenicia and Palestine will
forever live in the memory of mankind; since America, as well as
Europe, has received letters from the one, and religion from the
other. ^83 A sandy desert, alike destitute of wood and water,
skirts along the doubtful confine of Syria, from the Euphrates to
the Red Sea. The wandering life of the Arabs was inseparably
connected with their independence; and wherever, on some spots
less barren than the rest, they ventured to for many settled
habitations, they soon became subjects to the Roman empire. ^84

[Footnote *: This comparison is exaggerated, with the intention,
no doubt, of attacking the authority of the Bible, which boasts of
the fertility of Palestine. Gibbon's only authorities were that
of Strabo (l. xvi. 1104) and the present state of the country.
But Strabo only speaks of the neighborhood of Jerusalem, which he
calls barren and arid to the extent of sixty stadia round the
city: in other parts he gives a favorable testimony to the
fertility of many parts of Palestine: thus he says, "Near Jericho
there is a grove of palms, and a country of a hundred stadia, full
of springs, and well peopled." Moreover, Strabo had never seen
Palestine; he spoke only after reports, which may be as inaccurate
as those according to which he has composed that description of
Germany, in which Gluverius has detected so many errors. (Gluv.
Germ. iii. 1.) Finally, his testimony is contradicted and refuted
by that of other ancient authors, and by medals. Tacitus says, in
speaking of Palestine, "The inhabitants are healthy and robust;
the rains moderate; the soil fertile." (Hist. v. 6.) Ammianus
Macellinus says also, "The last of the Syrias is Palestine,
country of considerable extent, abounding in clean and well-
cultivated land, and containing some fine cities, none of which
yields to the other; but, as it were, being on a parallel, are
rivals." - xiv. 8. See also the historian Josephus, Hist. vi. 1.
Procopius of Caeserea, who lived in the sixth century, says that
Chosroes, king of Persia, had a great desire to make himself

master of Palestine, on account of its extraordinary fertility,
its opulence, and the great number of its inhabitants. The
Saracens thought the same, and were afraid that Omar. when he went
to Jerusalem, charmed with the fertility of the soil and the
purity of the air, would never return to Medina. (Ockley, Hist.
of Sarac. i. 232.) The importance attached by the Romans to the
conquest of Palestine, and the obstacles they encountered, prove
also the richness and population of the country. Vespasian and
Titus caused medals to be struck with trophies, in which Palestine
is represented by a female under a palm-tree, to signify the
richness of he country, with this legend: Judea capta. Other
medals also indicate this fertility; for instance, that of Herod
holding a bunch of grapes, and that of the young Agrippa
displaying fruit. As to the present state of he country, one
perceives that it is not fair to draw any inference against its
ancient fertility: the disasters through which it has passed, the
government to which it is subject, the disposition of the
inhabitants, explain sufficiently the wild and uncultivated
appearance of the land, where, nevertheless, fertile and
cultivated districts are still found, according to the testimony
of travellers; among others, of Shaw, Maundrel, La Rocque, &c.

G. The Abbe Guenee, in his Lettres de quelques Juifs a Mons. de
Voltaire, has exhausted the subject of the fertility of Palestine;
for Voltaire had likewise indulged in sarcasm on this subject.
Gibbon was assailed on this point, not, indeed, by Mr. Davis, who,
he slyly insinuates,was prevented by his patriotism as a Welshman
from resenting the comparison with Wales, but by other writers.
In his Vindication, he first established the correctness of his
measurement of Palestine, which he estimates as 7600 square
English miles, while Wales is about 7011. As to fertility, he
proceeds in the following dexterously composed and splendid
passage: "The emperor Frederick II., the enemy and the victim of
the clergy, is accused of saying, after his return from his
crusade, that the God of the Jews would have despised his promised
land, if he had once seen the fruitful realms of Sicily and
Naples." (See Giannone, Istor. Civ. del R. di Napoli, ii. 245.
This raillery, which malice has, perhaps, falsely imputed to
Frederick, is inconsistent with truth and piety; yet it must be
confessed that the soil of Palestine does not contain that
inexhaustible, and, as it were, spontaneous principle of
fertility, which, under the most unfavorable circumstances, has
covered with rich harvests the banks of the Nile, the fields of
Sicily, or the plains of Poland. The Jordan is the only navigable
river of Palestine: a considerable part of the narrow space is
occupied, or rather lost, in the Dead Sea whose horrid aspect
inspires every sensation of disgust, and countenances every tale
of horror. The districts which border on Arabia partake of the
sandy quality of the adjacent desert. The face of the country,
except the sea- coast, and the valley of the Jordan, is covered
with mountains, which appear, for the most part, as naked and
barren rocks; and in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, there is
real scarcity of the two elements of earth and water. (See

Maundrel's Travels, p. 65, and Reland's Palestin. i. 238, 395.
These disadvantages, which now operate in their fullest extent,
were formerly corrected by the labors of a numerous people, and
the active protection of a wise government. The hills were clothed
with rich beds of artificial mould, the rain was collected in vast
cisterns, a supply of fresh water was conveyed by pipes and
aqueducts to the dry lands. The breed of cattle was encouraged in
those parts which were not adapted for tillage, and almost every
spot was compelled to yield some production for the use of the

Pater ispe colendi Haud facilem esse viam voluit, primusque par
artem Movit agros; curis acuens mortalia corda, Nec torpere gravi
passus sua Regna veterno.

Gibbon, Misc. Works, iv. 540.

But Gibbon has here eluded the question about the land "flowing
with milk and honey." He is describing Judaea only, without
comprehending Galilee, or the rich pastures beyond the Jordan,
even now proverbial for their flocks and herds. (See Burckhardt's
Travels, and Hist of Jews, i. 178.) The following is believed to
be a fair statement: "The extraordinary fertility of the whole
country must be taken into the account. No part was waste; very
little was occupied by unprofitable wood; the more fertile hills
were cultivated in artificial terraces, others were hung with
orchards of fruit trees the more rocky and barren districts were
covered with vineyards." Even in the present day, the wars and
misgovernment of ages have not exhausted the natural richness of
the soil. "Galilee," says Malte Brun, "would be a paradise were
it inhabited by an industrious people under an enlightened
government. No land could be less dependent on foreign
importation; it bore within itself every thing that could be
necessary for the subsistence and comfort of a simple agricultural
people. The climate was healthy, the seasons regular; the former
rains, which fell about October, after the vintage, prepared the
ground for the seed; that latter, which prevailed during March and
the beginning of April, made it grow rapidly. Directly the rains
ceased, the grain ripened with still greater rapidity, and was
gathered in before the end of May. The summer months were dry and
very hot, but the nights cool and refreshed by copious dews. In
September, the vintage was gathered. Grain of all kinds, wheat,
barley, millet, zea, and other sorts, grew in abundance; the wheat
commonly yielded thirty for one. Besides the vine and the olive,
the almond, the date, figs of many kinds, the orange, the
pomegranate, and many other fruit trees, flourished in the
greatest luxuriance. Great quantity of honey was collected. The
balm-tree, which produced the opobalsamum,a great object of trade,
was probably introduced from Arabia, in the time of Solomon. It
flourished about Jericho and in Gilead." - Milman's Hist. of Jews.

i. 177. - M.

[Footnote 83: The progress of religion is well known. The use of
letter was introduced among the savages of Europe about fifteen
hundred years before Christ; and the Europeans carried them to
America about fifteen centuries after the Christian Aera. But in
a period of three thousand years, the Phoenician alphabet received
considerable alterations, as it passed through the hands of the
Greeks and Romans.

[Footnote 84: Dion Cassius, lib. lxviii. p. 1131.

The geographers of antiquity have frequently hesitated to what
portion of the globe they should ascribe Egypt. ^85 By its
situation that celebrated kingdom is included within the immense
peninsula of Africa; but it is accessible only on the side of
Asia, whose revolutions, in almost every period of history, Egypt
has humbly obeyed. A Roman praefect was seated on the splendid
throne of the Ptolemies; and the iron sceptre of the Mamelukes is
now in the hands of a Turkish pacha. The Nile flows down the
country, above five hundred miles from the tropic of Cancer to the
Mediterranean, and marks on either side of the extent of fertility
by the measure of its inundations. Cyrene, situate towards the
west, and along the sea-coast, was first a Greek colony,
afterwards a province of Egypt, and is now lost in the desert of
Barca. ^

[Footnote 85: Ptolemy and Strabo, with the modern geographers, fix
the Isthmus of Suez as the boundary of Asia and Africa. Dionysius,
Mela, Pliny, Sallust, Hirtius, and Solinus, have preferred for
that purpose the western branch of the Nile, or even the great
Catabathmus, or descent, which last would assign to Asia, not only
Egypt, but part of Libya.

[Footnote *: The French editor has a long and unnecessary note on
the History of Cyrene. For the present state of that coast and
country, the volume of Captain Beechey is full of interesting
details. Egypt, now an independent and improving kingdom,
appears, under the enterprising rule of Mahommed Ali, likely to
revenge its former oppression upon the decrepit power of the
Turkish empire. - M. - This note was written in 1838. The future
destiny of Egypt is an important problem, only to be solved by
time. This observation will also apply to the new French colony
in Algiers. - M. 1845.

From Cyrene to the ocean, the coast of Africa extends above
fifteen hundred miles; yet so closely is it pressed between the
Mediterranean and the Sahara, or sandy desert, that its breadth
seldom exceeds fourscore or a hundred miles. The eastern division
was considered by the Romans as the more peculiar and proper
province of Africa. Till the arrival of the Phoenician colonies,
that fertile country was inhabited by the Libyans, the most savage
of mankind. Under the immediate jurisdiction of Carthage, it
became the centre of commerce and empire; but the republic of

Carthage is now degenerated into the feeble and disorderly states
of Tripoli and Tunis. The military government of Algiers
oppresses the wide extent of Numidia, as it was once united under
Massinissa and Jugurtha; but in the time of Augustus, the limits
of Numidia were contracted; and, at least, two thirds of the
country acquiesced in the name of Mauritania, with the epithet of
Caesariensis. The genuine Mauritania, or country of the Moors,
which, from the ancient city of Tingi, or Tangier, was
distinguished by the appellation of Tingitana, is represented by
the modern kingdom of Fez. Salle, on the Ocean, so infamous at
present for its piratical depredations, was noticed by the Romans,
as the extreme object of their power, and almost of their
geography. A city of their foundation may still be discovered
near Mequinez, the residence of the barbarian whom we condescend
to style the Emperor of Morocco; but it does not appear, that his
more southern dominions, Morocco itself, and Segelmessa, were ever
comprehended within the Roman province. The western parts of
Africa are intersected by the branches of Mount Atlas, a name so
idly celebrated by the fancy of poets; ^86 but which is now
diffused over the immense ocean that rolls between the ancient and
the new continent. ^87

[Footnote 86: The long range, moderate height, and gentle
declivity of Mount Atlas, (see Shaw's Travels, p. 5,) are very
unlike a solitary mountain which rears its head into the clouds,
and seems to support the heavens. The peak of Teneriff, on the
contrary, rises a league and a half above the surface of the sea;
and, as it was frequently visited by the Phoenicians, might engage
the notice of the Greek poets. See Buffon, Histoire Naturelle,
tom. i. p. 312. Histoire des Voyages, tom. ii.] [Footnote 87: M.
de Voltaire, tom. xiv. p. 297, unsupported by either fact or
probability, has generously bestowed the Canary Islands on the
Roman empire.

Having now finished the circuit of the Roman empire, we may
observe, that Africa is divided from Spain by a narrow strait of
about twelve miles, through which the Atlantic flows into the
Mediterranean. The columns of Hercules, so famous among the
ancients, were two mountains which seemed to have been torn
asunder by some convulsion of the elements; and at the foot of the
European mountain, the fortress of Gibraltar is now seated. The
whole extent of the Mediterranean Sea, its coasts and its islands,
were comprised within the Roman dominion. Of the larger islands,
the two Baleares, which derive their name of Majorca and Minorca
from their respective size, are subject at present, the former to
Spain, the latter to Great Britain. ^* It is easier to deplore the
fate, than to describe the actual condition, of Corsica. ^! Two
Italian sovereigns assume a regal title from Sardinia and Sicily.
Crete, or Candia, with Cyprus, and most of the smaller islands of
Greece and Asia, have been subdued by the Turkish arms, whilst the
little rock of Malta defies their power, and has emerged, under
the government of its military Order, into fame and opulence. ^!

[Footnote *: Minorca was lost to Great Britain in 1782. Ann.
Register for that year. - M.

[Footnote !: The gallant struggles of the Corsicans for their
independence, under Paoli, were brought to a close in the year
1769. This volume was published in 1776. See Botta, Storia
d'Italia, vol. xiv. - M.

[Footnote !!: Malta, it need scarcely be said, is now in the
possession of the English. We have not, however, thought it
necessary to notice every change in the political state of the
world, since the time of Gibbon. - M]

This long enumeration of provinces, whose broken fragments have
formed so many powerful kingdoms, might almost induce us to
forgive the vanity or ignorance of the ancients. Dazzled with the
extensive sway, the irresistible strength, and the real or
affected moderation of the emperors, they permitted themselves to
despise, and sometimes to forget, the outlying countries which had
been left in the enjoyment of a barbarous independence; and they
gradually usurped the license of confounding the Roman monarchy
with the globe of the earth. ^88 But the temper, as well as
knowledge, of a modern historian, require a more sober and
accurate language. He may impress a juster image of the greatness
of Rome, by observing that the empire was above two thousand miles
in breadth, from the wall of Antoninus and the northern limits of
Dacia, to Mount Atlas and the tropic of Cancer; that it extended
in length more than three thousand miles from the Western Ocean to
the Euphrates; that it was situated in the finest part of the
Temperate Zone, between the twenty-fourth and fifty-sixth degrees
of northern latitude; and that it was supposed to contain above
sixteen hundred thousand square miles, for the most part of
fertile and well-cultivated land. ^89 [Footnote 88: Bergier, Hist.
des Grands Chemins, l. iii. c. 1, 2, 3, 4, a very useful

[Footnote 89: See Templeman's Survey of the Globe; but I distrust
both the Doctor's learning and his maps.

Chapter II: The Internal Prosperity In The Age Of The Antonines.

Part I.

Of The Union And Internal Prosperity Of The Roman Empire, In The
Age Of The Antonines.

It is not alone by the rapidity, or extent of conquest, that we
should estimate the greatness of Rome. The sovereign of the
Russian deserts commands a larger portion of the globe. In the
seventh summer after his passage of the Hellespont, Alexander
erected the Macedonian trophies on the banks of the Hyphasis. ^

Within less than a century, the irresistible Zingis, and the Mogul
princes of his race, spread their cruel devastations and transient
empire from the Sea of China, to the confines of Egypt and
Germany. ^2 But the firm edifice of Roman power was raised and
preserved by the wisdom of ages. The obedient provinces of Trajan
and the Antonines were united by laws, and adorned by arts. They
might occasionally suffer from the partial abuse of delegated
authority; but the general principle of government was wise,
simple, and beneficent. They enjoyed the religion of their
ancestors, whilst in civil honors and advantages they were
exalted, by just degrees, to an equality with their conquerors.
[Footnote 1: They were erected about the midway between Lahor and
Delhi. The conquests of Alexander in Hindostan were confined to
the Punjab, a country watered by the five great streams of the

Note: The Hyphasis is one of the five rivers which join the Indus
or the Sind, after having traversed the province of the Pendj-ab
a name which in Persian, signifies five rivers. * * * G. The
five rivers were, 1. The Hydaspes, now the Chelum, Behni, or
Bedusta, (Sanscrit, Vitastha, Arrow-swift.) 2. The Acesines, the
Chenab, (Sanscrit, Chandrabhaga, Moon-gift.) 3. Hydraotes, the
Ravey, or Iraoty, (Sanscrit, Iravati.) 4. Hyphasis, the Beyah,
(Sanscrit, Vepasa, Fetterless.) 5. The Satadru, (Sanscrit, the
Hundred Streamed,) the Sutledj, known first to the Greeks in the
time of Ptolemy. Rennel. Vincent, Commerce of Anc. book 2.
Lassen, Pentapotam. Ind. Wilson's Sanscrit Dict., and the valuable
memoir of Lieut. Burnes, Journal of London Geogr. Society, vol.

iii. p. 2, with the travels of that very able writer. Compare
Gibbon's own note, c. lxv. note 25. - M substit. for G.
[Footnote 2: See M. de Guignes, Histoire des Huns, l. xv. xvi. and

I. The policy of the emperors and the senate, as far as it
concerned religion, was happily seconded by the reflections of the
enlightened, and by the habits of the superstitious, part of their
subjects. The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the
Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true;
by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as
equally useful. And thus toleration produced not only mutual
indulgence, but even religious concord.
The superstition of the people was not imbittered by any mixture
of theological rancor; nor was it confined by the chains of any
speculative system. The devout polytheist, though fondly attached
to his national rites, admitted with implicit faith the different
religions of the earth. ^3 Fear, gratitude, and curiosity, a dream
or an omen, a singular disorder, or a distant journey, perpetually
disposed him to multiply the articles of his belief, and to
enlarge the list of his protectors. The thin texture of the Pagan
mythology was interwoven with various but not discordant

materials. As soon as it was allowed that sages and heroes, who
had lived or who had died for the benefit of their country, were
exalted to a state of power and immortality, it was universally
confessed, that they deserved, if not the adoration, at least the
reverence, of all mankind. The deities of a thousand groves and
thousand streams possessed, in peace, their local and respective
influence; nor could the Romans who deprecated the wrath of the
Tiber, deride the Egyptian who presented his offering to the
beneficent genius of the Nile. The visible powers of nature, the
planets, and the elements were the same throughout the universe.
The invisible governors of the moral world were inevitably cast in
a similar mould of fiction and allegory. Every virtue, and even
vice, acquired its divine representative; every art and profession
its patron, whose attributes, in the most distant ages and
countries, were uniformly derived from the character of their
peculiar votaries. A republic of gods of such opposite tempers and
interests required, in every system, the moderating hand of
supreme magistrate, who, by the progress of knowledge and
flattery, was gradually invested with the sublime perfections of
an Eternal Parent, and an Omnipotent Monarch. ^4 Such was the mild
spirit of antiquity, that the nations were less attentive to the
difference, than to the resemblance, of their religious worship.
The Greek, the Roman, and the Barbarian, as they met before their
respective altars, easily persuaded themselves, that under various
names, and with various ceremonies, they adored the same deities.
^5 The elegant mythology of Homer gave a beautiful, and almost
regular form, to the polytheism of the ancient world. [Footnote 3:
There is not any writer who describes in so lively a manner as
Herodotus the true genius of polytheism. The best commentary may
be found in Mr. Hume's Natural History of Religion; and the best
contrast in Bossuet's Universal History. Some obscure traces of an
intolerant spirit appear in the conduct of the Egyptians, (see
Juvenal, Sat. xv.;) and the Christians, as well as Jews, who lived
under the Roman empire, formed a very important exception; so
important indeed, that the discussion will require a distinct
chapter of this work.

Note: M. Constant, in his very learned and eloquent work, "Sur la
Religion," with the two additional volumes, "Du Polytheisme
Romain," has considered the whole history of polytheism in a tone
of philosophy, which, without subscribing to all his opinions, we
may be permitted to admire. "The boasted tolerance of polytheism
did not rest upon the respect due from society to the freedom of
individual opinion. The polytheistic nations, tolerant as they
were towards each other, as separate states, were not the less
ignorant of the eternal principle, the only basis of enlightened
toleration, that every one has a right to worship God in the
manner which seems to him the best. Citizens, on the contrary,
were bound to conform to the religion of the state; they had not
the liberty to adopt a foreign religion, though that religion
might be legally recognized in their own city, for the strangers
who were its votaries." - Sur la Religion, v. 184. Du. Polyth.

Rom. ii. 308. At this time, the growing religious indifference,
and the general administration of the empire by Romans, who, being
strangers, would do no more than protect, not enlist themselves in
the cause of the local superstitions, had introduced great laxity.
But intolerance was clearly the theory both of the Greek and Roman
law. The subject is more fully considered in another place. - M.

[Footnote 4: The rights, powers, and pretensions of the sovereign
of Olympus are very clearly described in the xvth book of the
Iliad; in the Greek original, I mean; for Mr. Pope, without
perceiving it, has improved the theology of Homer.

Note: There is a curious coincidence between Gibbon's expressions
and those of the newly-recovered "De Republica" of Cicero, though
the argument is rather the converse, lib. i. c. 36. "Sive haec ad
utilitatem vitae constitute sint a principibus rerum publicarum,
ut rex putaretur unus esse in coelo, qui nutu, ut ait Homerus,
totum Olympum converteret, idemque et rex et patos haberetur
omnium." - M.

[Footnote 5: See, for instance, Caesar de Bell. Gall. vi. 17.
Within a century or two, the Gauls themselves applied to their
gods the names of Mercury, Mars, Apollo, &c.

The philosophers of Greece deduced their morals from the nature of
man, rather than from that of God. They meditated, however, on
the Divine Nature, as a very curious and important speculation;
and in the profound inquiry, they displayed the strength and
weakness of the human understanding. ^6 Of the four most
celebrated schools, the Stoics and the Platonists endeavored to
reconcile the jaring interests of reason and piety. They have
left us the most sublime proofs of the existence and perfections
of the first cause; but, as it was impossible for them to conceive
the creation of matter, the workman in the Stoic philosophy was
not sufficiently distinguished from the work; whilst, on the
contrary, the spiritual God of Plato and his disciples resembled
an idea, rather than a substance. The opinions of the Academics
and Epicureans were of a less religious cast; but whilst the
modest science of the former induced them to doubt, the positive
ignorance of the latter urged them to deny, the providence of
Supreme Ruler. The spirit of inquiry, prompted by emulation, and
supported by freedom, had divided the public teachers of
philosophy into a variety of contending sects; but the ingenious
youth, who, from every part, resorted to Athens, and the other
seats of learning in the Roman empire, were alike instructed in
every school to reject and to despise the religion of the
multitude. How, indeed, was it possible that a philosopher should
accept, as divine truths, the idle tales of the poets, and the
incoherent traditions of antiquity; or that he should adore, as
gods, those imperfect beings whom he must have despised, as men?
Against such unworthy adversaries, Cicero condescended to employ
the arms of reason and eloquence; but the satire of Lucian was

much more adequate, as well as more efficacious, weapon. We may
be well assured, that a writer, conversant with the world, would
never have ventured to expose the gods of his country to public
ridicule, had they not already been the objects of secret contempt
among the polished and enlightened orders of society. ^

[Footnote 6: The admirable work of Cicero de Natura Deorum is the
best clew we have to guide us through the dark and profound abyss.
He represents with candor, and confutes with subtlety, the
opinions of the philosophers.

[Footnote 7: I do not pretend to assert, that, in this irreligious
age, the natural terrors of superstition, dreams, omens,
apparitions, &c., had lost their efficacy.

Notwithstanding the fashionable irreligion which prevailed in the
age of the Antonines, both the interest of the priests and the
credulity of the people were sufficiently respected. In their
writings and conversation, the philosophers of antiquity asserted
the independent dignity of reason; but they resigned their actions
to the commands of law and of custom. Viewing, with a smile of
pity and indulgence, the various errors of the vulgar, they
diligently practised the ceremonies of their fathers, devoutly
frequented the temples of the gods; and sometimes condescending to
act a part on the theatre of superstition, they concealed the
sentiments of an atheist under the sacerdotal robes. Reasoners of
such a temper were scarcely inclined to wrangle about their
respective modes of faith, or of worship. It was indifferent to
them what shape the folly of the multitude might choose to assume;
and they approached with the same inward contempt, and the same
external reverence, the altars of the Libyan, the Olympian, or the
Capitoline Jupiter. ^8 [Footnote 8: Socrates, Epicurus, Cicero,
and Plutarch always inculcated a decent reverence for the religion
of their own country, and of mankind. The devotion of Epicurus
was assiduous and exemplary. Diogen. Laert. x. 10.

It is not easy to conceive from what motives a spirit of
persecution could introduce itself into the Roman councils. The
magistrates could not be actuated by a blind, though honest
bigotry, since the magistrates were themselves philosophers; and
the schools of Athens had given laws to the senate. They could
not be impelled by ambition or avarice, as the temporal and
ecclesiastical powers were united in the same hands. The pontiffs
were chosen among the most illustrious of the senators; and the
office of Supreme Pontiff was constantly exercised by the emperors
themselves. They knew and valued the advantages of religion, as
it is connected with civil government. They encouraged the public
festivals which humanize the manners of the people. They managed
the arts of divination as a convenient instrument of policy; and
they respected, as the firmest bond of society, the useful
persuasion, that, either in this or in a future life, the crime of
perjury is most assuredly punished by the avenging gods. ^9 But

whilst they acknowledged the general advantages of religion, they
were convinced that the various modes of worship contributed alike
to the same salutary purposes; and that, in every country, the
form of superstition, which had received the sanction of time and
experience, was the best adapted to the climate, and to its
inhabitants. Avarice and taste very frequently despoiled the
vanquished nations of the elegant statues of their gods, and the
rich ornaments of their temples; ^10 but, in the exercise of the
religion which they derived from their ancestors, they uniformly
experienced the indulgence, and even protection, of the Roman
conquerors. The province of Gaul seems, and indeed only seems, an
exception to this universal toleration. Under the specious
pretext of abolishing human sacrifices, the emperors Tiberius and
Claudius suppressed the dangerous power of the Druids: ^11 but the
priests themselves, their gods and their altars, subsisted in
peaceful obscurity till the final destruction of Paganism. ^12

[Footnote 9: Polybius, l. vi. c. 53, 54. Juvenal, Sat. xiii.
laments that in his time this apprehension had lost much of its

[Footnote 10: See the fate of Syracuse, Tarentum, Ambracia,
Corinth, &c., the conduct of Verres, in Cicero, (Actio ii. Orat.
4,) and the usual practice of governors, in the viiith Satire of

[Footnote 11: Seuton. in Claud. - Plin. Hist. Nat. xxx. 1.
[Footnote 12: Pelloutier, Histoire des Celtes, tom. vi. p. 230

Rome, the capital of a great monarchy, was incessantly filled with
subjects and strangers from every part of the world, ^13 who all
introduced and enjoyed the favorite superstitions of their native
country. ^14 Every city in the empire was justified in maintaining
the purity of its ancient ceremonies; and the Roman senate, using
the common privilege, sometimes interposed, to check this
inundation of foreign rites. ^* The Egyptian superstition, of all
the most contemptible and abject, was frequently prohibited: the
temples of Serapis and Isis demolished, and their worshippers
banished from Rome and Italy. ^15 But the zeal of fanaticism
prevailed over the cold and feeble efforts of policy. The exiles
returned, the proselytes multiplied, the temples were restored
with increasing splendor, and Isis and Serapis at length assumed
their place among the Roman Deities. ^16 Nor was this indulgence
departure from the old maxims of government. In the purest ages
of the commonwealth, Cybele and Aesculapius had been invited by
solemn embassies; ^17 and it was customary to tempt the protectors
of besieged cities, by the promise of more distinguished honors
than they possessed in their native country. ^18 Rome gradually
became the common temple of her subjects; and the freedom of the
city was bestowed on all the gods of mankind. ^19

[Footnote 13: Seneca, Consolat. ad Helviam, p. 74. Edit., Lips.

[Footnote 14: Dionysius Halicarn. Antiquitat. Roman. l. ii. (vol.

i. p. 275, edit. Reiske.)
[Footnote *: Yet the worship of foreign gods at Rome was only
guarantied to the natives of those countries from whence they
came. The Romans administered the priestly offices only to the
gods of their fathers. Gibbon, throughout the whole preceding
sketch of the opinions of the Romans and their subjects, has shown
through what causes they were free from religious hatred and its
consequences. But, on the other hand the internal state of these
religions, the infidelity and hypocrisy of the upper orders, the
indifference towards all religion, in even the better part of the
common people, during the last days of the republic, and under the
Caesars, and the corrupting principles of the philosophers, had
exercised a very pernicious influence on the manners, and even on
the constitution. - W.

[Footnote 15: In the year of Rome 701, the temple of Isis and
Serapis was demolished by the order of the Senate, (Dion Cassius,

l. xl. p. 252,) and even by the hands of the consul, (Valerius
Maximus, l. 3.) ^! After the death of Caesar it was restored at
the public expense, (Dion. l. xlvii. p. 501.) When Augustus was in
Egypt, he revered the majesty of Serapis, (Dion, l. li. p. 647;
but in the Pomaerium of Rome, and a mile round it, he prohibited
the worship of the Egyptian gods, (Dion, l. liii. p. 679; l. liv.
p. 735.) They remained, however, very fashionable under his reign
(Ovid. de Art. Amand. l. i.) and that of his successor, till the
justice of Tiberius was provoked to some acts of severity. (See
Tacit. Annal. ii. 85. Joseph. Antiquit. l. xviii. c. 3.
Note: See, in the pictures from the walls of Pompeii, the
representation of an Isiac temple and worship. Vestiges of
Egyptian worship have been traced in Gaul, and, I am informed,
recently in Britain, in excavations at York. - M.

[Footnote !: Gibbon here blends into one, two events, distant
hundred and sixty-six years from each other. It was in the year
of Rome 535, that the senate having ordered the destruction of the
temples of Isis and Serapis, the workman would lend his hand; and
the consul, L. Paulus himself (Valer. Max. 1, 3) seized the axe,
to give the first blow. Gibbon attribute this circumstance to the
second demolition, which took place in the year 701 and which he
considers as the first. - W.

[Footnote 16: Tertullian in Apologetic. c. 6, p. 74. Edit.
Havercamp. I am inclined to attribute their establishment to the
devotion of the Flavian family.

[Footnote 17: See Livy, l. xi. [Suppl.] and xxix.

[Footnote 18: Macrob. Saturnalia, l. iii. c. 9. He gives us
form of evocation.

[Footnote 19: Minutius Faelix in Octavio, p. 54. Arnobius, l. vi.

p. 115.
II. The narrow policy of preserving, without any foreign mixture,
the pure blood of the ancient citizens, had checked the fortune,
and hastened the ruin, of Athens and Sparta. The aspiring genius
of Rome sacrificed vanity to ambition, and deemed it more prudent,
as well as honorable, to adopt virtue and merit for her own
wheresoever they were found, among slaves or strangers, enemies or
barbarians. ^20 During the most flourishing aera of the Athenian
commonwealth, the number of citizens gradually decreased from
about thirty ^21 to twenty-one thousand. ^22 If, on the contrary,
we study the growth of the Roman republic, we may discover, that,
notwithstanding the incessant demands of wars and colonies, the
citizens, who, in the first census of Servius Tullius, amounted to
no more than eighty-three thousand, were multiplied, before the
commencement of the social war, to the number of four hundred and
sixty-three thousand men, able to bear arms in the service of
their country. ^23 When the allies of Rome claimed an equal share
of honors and privileges, the senate indeed preferred the chance
of arms to an ignominious concession. The Samnites and the
Lucanians paid the severe penalty of their rashness; but the rest
of the Italian states, as they successively returned to their
duty, were admitted into the bosom of the republic, ^24 and soon
contributed to the ruin of public freedom. Under a democratical
government, the citizens exercise the powers of sovereignty; and
those powers will be first abused, and afterwards lost, if they
are committed to an unwieldy multitude. But when the popular
assemblies had been suppressed by the administration of the
emperors, the conquerors were distinguished from the vanquished
nations, only as the first and most honorable order of subjects;
and their increase, however rapid, was no longer exposed to the
same dangers. Yet the wisest princes, who adopted the maxims of
Augustus, guarded with the strictest care the dignity of the Roman
name, and diffused the freedom of the city with a prudent
liberality. ^25 [Footnote 20: Tacit. Annal. xi. 24. The Orbis
Romanus of the learned Spanheim is a complete history of the
progressive admission of Latium, Italy, and the provinces, to the
freedom of Rome.
Note: Democratic states, observes Denina, (delle Revoluz. d'
Italia, l. ii. c. l., are most jealous of communication the
privileges of citizenship; monarchies or oligarchies willingly
multiply the numbers of their free subjects. The most remarkable
accessions to the strength of Rome, by the aggregation of
conquered and foreign nations, took place under the regal and
patrician - we may add, the Imperial government. - M.

[Footnote 21: Herodotus, v. 97. It should seem, however, that he
followed a large and popular estimation.

[Footnote 22: Athenaeus, Deipnosophist. l. vi. p. 272. Edit.
Casaubon. Meursius de Fortuna Attica, c. 4.

Note: On the number of citizens in Athens, compare Boeckh, Public
Economy of Athens, (English Tr.,) p. 45, et seq. Fynes Clinton,
Essay in Fasti Hel lenici, vol. i. 381. - M.

[Footnote 23: See a very accurate collection of the numbers of
each Lustrum in M. de Beaufort, Republique Romaine, l. iv. c. 4.
Note: All these questions are placed in an entirely new point of
view by Nicbuhr, (Romische Geschichte, vol. i. p. 464.) He rejects
the census of Servius fullius as unhistoric, (vol. ii. p. 78, et
seq.,) and he establishes the principle that the census
comprehended all the confederate cities which had the right of
Isopolity. - M.

[Footnote 24: Appian. de Bell. Civil. l. i. Velleius Paterculus,

l. ii. c. 15, 16, 17.
[Footnote 25: Maecenas had advised him to declare, by one edict,
all his subjects citizens. But we may justly suspect that the
historian Dion was the author of a counsel so much adapted to the
practice of his own age, and so little to that of Augustus.

Chapter II: The Internal Prosperity In The Age Of The Antonines.

Part II.

Till the privileges of Romans had been progressively extended to
all the inhabitants of the empire, an important distinction was
preserved between Italy and the provinces. The former was
esteemed the centre of public unity, and the firm basis of the
constitution. Italy claimed the birth, or at least the residence,
of the emperors and the senate. ^26 The estates of the Italians
were exempt from taxes, their persons from the arbitrary
jurisdiction of governors. Their municipal corporations, formed
after the perfect model of the capital, ^* were intrusted, under
the immediate eye of the supreme power, with the execution of the
laws. From the foot of the Alps to the extremity of Calabria, all
the natives of Italy were born citizens of Rome. Their partial
distinctions were obliterated, and they insensibly coalesced into
one great nation, united by language, manners, and civil
institutions, and equal to the weight of a powerful empire. The
republic gloried in her generous policy, and was frequently
rewarded by the merit and services of her adopted sons. Had she
always confined the distinction of Romans to the ancient families
within the walls of the city, that immortal name would have been
deprived of some of its noblest ornaments. Virgil was a native of

Mantua; Horace was inclined to doubt whether he should call
himself an Apulian or a Lucanian; it was in Padua that an
historian was found worthy to record the majestic series of Roman
victories. The patriot family of the Catos emerged from Tusculum;
and the little town of Arpinum claimed the double honor of
producing Marius and Cicero, the former of whom deserved, after
Romulus and Camillus, to be styled the Third Founder of Rome; and
the latter, after saving his country from the designs of Catiline,
enabled her to contend with Athens for the palm of eloquence. ^27

[Footnote 26: The senators were obliged to have one third of their
own landed property in Italy. See Plin. l. vi. ep. 19. The
qualification was reduced by Marcus to one fourth. Since the
reign of Trajan, Italy had sunk nearer to the level of the

[Footnote *: It may be doubted whether the municipal government of
the cities was not the old Italian constitution rather than
transcript from that of Rome. The free government of the cities,
observes Savigny, was the leading characteristic of Italy.
Geschichte des Romischen Rechts, i. p. G. - M.

[Footnote 27: The first part of the Verona Illustrata of the
Marquis Maffei gives the clearest and most comprehensive view of
the state of Italy under the Caesars.

Note: Compare Denina, Revol. d' Italia, l. ii. c. 6, p. 100, 4 to

The provinces of the empire (as they have been described in the
preceding chapter) were destitute of any public force, or
constitutional freedom. In Etruria, in Greece, ^28 and in Gaul,
^29 it was the first care of the senate to dissolve those
dangerous confederacies, which taught mankind that, as the Roman
arms prevailed by division, they might be resisted by union. Those
princes, whom the ostentation of gratitude or generosity permitted
for a while to hold a precarious sceptre, were dismissed from
their thrones, as soon as they had per formed their appointed task
of fashioning to the yoke the vanquished nations. The free states
and cities which had embraced the cause of Rome were rewarded with
a nominal alliance, and insensibly sunk into real servitude. The
public authority was every where exercised by the ministers of the
senate and of the emperors, and that authority was absolute, and
without control. ^! But the same salutary maxims of government,
which had secured the peace and obedience of Italy were extended
to the most distant conquests. A nation of Romans was gradually
formed in the provinces, by the double expedient of introducing
colonies, and of admitting the most faithful and deserving of the
provincials to the freedom of Rome.

[Footnote 28: See Pausanias, l. vii. The Romans condescended to
restore the names of those assemblies, when they could no longer
be dangerous.

[Footnote 29: They are frequently mentioned by Caesar. The Abbe
Dubos attempts, with very little success, to prove that the
assemblies of Gaul were continued under the emperors. Histoire de
l'Etablissement de la Monarchie Francoise, l. i. c. 4.] [Footnote
!: This is, perhaps, rather overstated. Most cities retained the
choice of their municipal officers: some retained valuable
privileges; Athens, for instance, in form was still a confederate
city. (Tac. Ann. ii. 53.) These privileges, indeed, depended
entirely on the arbitrary will of the emperor, who revoked or
restored them according to his caprice. See Walther Geschichte
les Romischen Rechts, i. 324 - an admirable summary of the Roman
constitutional history. - M.

"Wheresoever the Roman conquers, he inhabits," is a very just
observation of Seneca, ^30 confirmed by history and experience.
The natives of Italy, allured by pleasure or by interest, hastened
to enjoy the advantages of victory; and we may remark, that, about
forty years after the reduction of Asia, eighty thousand Romans
were massacred in one day, by the cruel orders of Mithridates. ^31
These voluntary exiles were engaged, for the most part, in the
occupations of commerce, agriculture, and the farm of the revenue.
But after the legions were rendered permanent by the emperors, the
provinces were peopled by a race of soldiers; and the veterans,
whether they received the reward of their service in land or in
money, usually settled with their families in the country, where
they had honorably spent their youth. Throughout the empire, but
more particularly in the western parts, the most fertile
districts, and the most convenient situations, were reserved for
the establishment of colonies; some of which were of a civil, and
others of a military nature. In their manners and internal
policy, the colonies formed a perfect representation of their
great parent; and they were soon endeared to the natives by the
ties of friendship and alliance, they effectually diffused
reverence for the Roman name, and a desire, which was seldom
disappointed, of sharing, in due time, its honors and advantages.
^32 The municipal cities insensibly equalled the rank and splendor
of the colonies; and in the reign of Hadrian, it was disputed
which was the preferable condition, of those societies which had
issued from, or those which had been received into, the bosom of
Rome. ^33 The right of Latium, as it was called, ^* conferred on
the cities to which it had been granted, a more partial favor.
The magistrates only, at the expiration of their office, assumed
the quality of Roman citizens; but as those offices were annual,
in a few years they circulated round the principal families. ^34
Those of the provincials who were permitted to bear arms in the
legions; ^35 those who exercised any civil employment; all, in
word, who performed any public service, or displayed any personal
talents, were rewarded with a present, whose value was continually

diminished by the increasing liberality of the emperors. Yet
even, in the age of the Antonines, when the freedom of the city
had been bestowed on the greater number of their subjects, it was
still accompanied with very solid advantages. The bulk of the
people acquired, with that title, the benefit of the Roman laws,
particularly in the interesting articles of marriage, testaments,
and inheritances; and the road of fortune was open to those whose
pretensions were seconded by favor or merit. The grandsons of the
Gauls, who had besieged Julius Caesar in Alcsia, commanded
legions, governed provinces, and were admitted into the senate of
Rome. ^36 Their ambition, instead of disturbing the tranquillity
of the state, was intimately connected with its safety and

[Footnote 30: Seneca in Consolat. ad Helviam, c. 6.

[Footnote 31: Memnon apud Photium, (c. 33,) [c. 224, p. 231, ed
Bekker.] Valer. Maxim. ix. 2. Plutarch and Dion Cassius swell the
massacre to 150,000 citizens; but I should esteem the smaller
number to be more than sufficient.

[Footnote 32: Twenty-five colonies were settled in Spain, (see
Plin. Hist. Nat. iii. 3, 4; iv. 35;) and nine in Britain, of which
London, Colchester, Lincoln, Chester, Gloucester, and Bath still
remain considerable cities. (See Richard of Cirencester, p. 36,
and Whittaker's History of Manchester, l. i. c. 3.)

[Footnote 33: Aul. Gel. Noctes Atticae, xvi 13. The Emperor
Hadrian expressed his surprise, that the cities of Utica, Gades,
and Italica, which already enjoyed the rights of Municipia, should
solicit the title of colonies. Their example, however, became
fashionable, and the empire was filled with honorary colonies.
See Spanheim, de Usu Numismatum Dissertat. xiii.] [Footnote *: The
right of Latium conferred an exemption from the government of the
Roman praefect. Strabo states this distinctly, l. iv. p. 295,
edit. Caesar's. See also Walther, p. 233. - M] [Footnote 34:
Spanheim, Orbis Roman. c. 8, p. 62.

[Footnote 35: Aristid. in Romae Encomio. tom. i. p. 218, edit.

[Footnote 36: Tacit. Annal. xi. 23, 24. Hist. iv. 74.

So sensible were the Romans of the influence of language over
national manners, that it was their most serious care to extend,
with the progress of their arms, the use of the Latin tongue. ^37
The ancient dialects of Italy, the Sabine, the Etruscan, and the
Venetian, sunk into oblivion; but in the provinces, the east was
less docile than the west to the voice of its victorious
preceptors. This obvious difference marked the two portions of
the empire with a distinction of colors, which, though it was in
some degree concealed during the meridian splendor of prosperity,

became gradually more visible, as the shades of night descended
upon the Roman world. The western countries were civilized by the
same hands which subdued them. As soon as the barbarians were
reconciled to obedience, their minds were open to any new
impressions of knowledge and politeness. The language of Virgil
and Cicero, though with some inevitable mixture of corruption, was
so universally adopted in Africa, Spain, Gaul Britain, and
Pannonia, ^38 that the faint traces of the Punic or Celtic idioms
were preserved only in the mountains, or among the peasants. ^39
Education and study insensibly inspired the natives of those
countries with the sentiments of Romans; and Italy gave fashions,
as well as laws, to her Latin provincials. They solicited with
more ardor, and obtained with more facility, the freedom and
honors of the state; supported the national dignity in letters ^40
and in arms; and at length, in the person of Trajan, produced an
emperor whom the Scipios would not have disowned for their
countryman. The situation of the Greeks was very different from
that of the barbarians. The former had been long since civilized
and corrupted. They had too much taste to relinquish their
language, and too much vanity to adopt any foreign institutions.
Still preserving the prejudices, after they had lost the virtues,
of their ancestors, they affected to despise the unpolished
manners of the Roman conquerors, whilst they were compelled to
respect their superior wisdom and power. ^41 Nor was the influence
of the Grecian language and sentiments confined to the narrow
limits of that once celebrated country. Their empire, by the
progress of colonies and conquest, had been diffused from the
Adriatic to the Euphrates and the Nile. Asia was covered with
Greek cities, and the long reign of the Macedonian kings had
introduced a silent revolution into Syria and Egypt. In their
pompous courts, those princes united the elegance of Athens with
the luxury of the East, and the example of the court was imitated,
at an humble distance, by the higher ranks of their subjects.
Such was the general division of the Roman empire into the Latin
and Greek languages. To these we may add a third distinction for
the body of the natives in Syria, and especially in Egypt, the use
of their ancient dialects, by secluding them from the commerce of
mankind, checked the improvements of those barbarians. ^42 The
slothful effeminacy of the former exposed them to the contempt,
the sullen ferociousness of the latter excited the aversion, of
the conquerors. ^43 Those nations had submitted to the Roman
power, but they seldom desired or deserved the freedom of the
city: and it was remarked, that more than two hundred and thirty
years elapsed after the ruin of the Ptolemies, before an Egyptian
was admitted into the senate of Rome. ^44

[Footnote 37: See Plin. Hist. Natur. iii. 5. Augustin. de
Civitate Dei, xix 7 Lipsius de Pronunciatione Linguae Latinae, c.

[Footnote 38: Apuleius and Augustin will answer for Africa; Strabo
for Spain and Gaul; Tacitus, in the life of Agricola, for Britain;

and Velleius Paterculus, for Pannonia. To them we may add the
language of the Inscriptions.

Note: Mr. Hallam contests this assertion as regards Britain. "Nor
did the Romans ever establish their language - I know not whether
they wished to do so - in this island, as we perceive by that
stubborn British tongue which has survived two conquests." In his
note, Mr. Hallam examines the passage from Tacitus (Agric. xxi.
to which Gibbon refers. It merely asserts the progress of Latin
studies among the higher orders. (Midd. Ages, iii. 314.) Probably
it was a kind of court language, and that of public affairs and
prevailed in the Roman colonies. - M.

[Footnote 39: The Celtic was preserved in the mountains of Wales,
Cornwall, and Armorica. We may observe, that Apuleius reproaches
an African youth, who lived among the populace, with the use of
the Punic; whilst he had almost forgot Greek, and neither could
nor would speak Latin, (Apolog. p. 596.) The greater part of St.
Austin's congregations were strangers to the Punic.

[Footnote 40: Spain alone produced Columella, the Senecas, Lucan,
Martial, and Quintilian.

[Footnote 41: There is not, I believe, from Dionysius to Libanus,
a single Greek critic who mentions Virgil or Horace. They seem
ignorant that the Romans had any good writers.

[Footnote 42: The curious reader may see in Dupin, (Bibliotheque
Ecclesiastique, tom. xix. p. 1, c. 8,) how much the use of the
Syriac and Egyptian languages was still preserved.

[Footnote 43: See Juvenal, Sat. iii. and xv. Ammian. Marcellin.

xxii. 16.] [Footnote 44: Dion Cassius, l. lxxvii. p. 1275. The
first instance happened under the reign of Septimius Severus.
It is a just though trite observation, that victorious Rome was
herself subdued by the arts of Greece. Those immortal writers who
still command the admiration of modern Europe, soon became the
favorite object of study and imitation in Italy and the western
provinces. But the elegant amusements of the Romans were not
suffered to interfere with their sound maxims of policy. Whilst
they acknowledged the charms of the Greek, they asserted the
dignity of the Latin tongue, and the exclusive use of the latter
was inflexibly maintained in the administration of civil as well
as military government. ^45 The two languages exercised at the
same time their separate jurisdiction throughout the empire: the
former, as the natural idiom of science; the latter, as the legal
dialect of public transactions. Those who united letters with
business were equally conversant with both; and it was almost
impossible, in any province, to find a Roman subject, of a liberal
education, who was at once a stranger to the Greek and to the
Latin language.

[Footnote 45: See Valerius Maximus, l. ii. c. 2, n. 2. The
emperor Claudius disfranchised an eminent Grecian for not
understanding Latin. He was probably in some public office.
Suetonius in Claud. c. 16.

Note: Causes seem to have been pleaded, even in the senate, in
both languages. Val. Max. loc. cit. Dion. l. lvii. c. 15. - M]

It was by such institutions that the nations of the empire
insensibly melted away into the Roman name and people. But there
still remained, in the centre of every province and of every
family, an unhappy condition of men who endured the weight,
without sharing the benefits, of society. In the free states of
antiquity, the domestic slaves were exposed to the wanton rigor of
despotism. The perfect settlement of the Roman empire was
preceded by ages of violence and rapine. The slaves consisted,
for the most part, of barbarian captives, ^* taken in thousands by
the chance of war, purchased at a vile price, ^46 accustomed to
life of independence, and impatient to break and to revenge their
fetters. Against such internal enemies, whose desperate
insurrections had more than once reduced the republic to the brink
of destruction, ^47 the most severe ^* regulations, ^48 and the
most cruel treatment, seemed almost justified by the great law of
self-preservation. But when the principal nations of Europe, Asia,
and Africa were united under the laws of one sovereign, the source
of foreign supplies flowed with much less abundance, and the
Romans were reduced to the milder but more tedious method of
propagation. ^* In their numerous families, and particularly in
their country estates, they encouraged the marriage of their
slaves. ^! The sentiments of nature, the habits of education, and
the possession of a dependent species of property, contributed to
alleviate the hardships of servitude. ^49 The existence of a slave
became an object of greater value, and though his happiness still
depended on the temper and circumstances of the master, the
humanity of the latter, instead of being restrained by fear, was
encouraged by the sense of his own interest. The progress of
manners was accelerated by the virtue or policy of the emperors;
and by the edicts of Hadrian and the Antonines, the protection of
the laws was extended to the most abject part of mankind. The
jurisdiction of life and death over the slaves, a power long
exercised and often abused, was taken out of private hands, and
reserved to the magistrates alone. The subterraneous prisons were
abolished; and, upon a just complaint of intolerable treatment,
the injured slave obtained either his deliverance, or a less cruel
master. ^50 [Footnote *: It was this which rendered the wars so
sanguinary, and the battles so obstinate. The immortal Robertson,
in an excellent discourse on the state of the world at the period
of the establishment of Christianity, has traced a picture of the
melancholy effects of slavery, in which we find all the depth of
his views and the strength of his mind. I shall oppose
successively some passages to the reflections of Gibbon. The

reader will see, not without interest, the truths which Gibbon
appears to have mistaken or voluntarily neglected, developed by
one of the best of modern historians. It is important to call them
to mind here, in order to establish the facts and their
consequences with accuracy. I shall more than once have occasion
to employ, for this purpose, the discourse of Robertson.

"Captives taken in war were, in all probability, the first persons
subjected to perpetual servitude; and, when the necessities or
luxury of mankind increased the demand for slaves, every new war
recruited their number, by reducing the vanquished to that
wretched condition. Hence proceeded the fierce and desperate
spirit with which wars were carried on among ancient nations.
While chains and slavery were the certain lot of the conquered,
battles were fought, and towns defended with a rage and obstinacy
which nothing but horror at such a fate could have inspired; but,
putting an end to the cruel institution of slavery, Christianity
extended its mild influences to the practice of war, and that
barbarous art, softened by its humane spirit, ceased to be so
destructive. Secure, in every event, of personal liberty, the
resistance of the vanquished became less obstinate, and the
triumph of the victor less cruel. Thus humanity was introduced
into the exercise of war, with which it appears to be almost
incompatible; and it is to the merciful maxims of Christianity,
much more than to any other cause, that we must ascribe the little
ferocity and bloodshed which accompany modern victories." - G.

[Footnote 46: In the camp of Lucullus, an ox sold for a drachma,
and a slave for four drachmae, or about three shillings. Plutarch.
in Lucull. p. 580.

Note: Above 100,000 prisoners were taken in the Jewish war. - G.
Hist. of Jews, iii. 71. According to a tradition preserved by S.
Jerom, after the insurrection in the time of Hadrian, they were
sold as cheap as horse. Ibid. 124. Compare Blair on Roman
Slavery, p. 19. - M., and Dureau de la blalle, Economie Politique
des Romains, l. i. c. 15. But I cannot think that this writer has
made out his case as to the common price of an agricultural slave
being from 2000 to 2500 francs, (80l. to 100l.) He has overlooked
the passages which show the ordinary prices, (i. e. Hor. Sat. ii.

vii. 45,) and argued from extraordinary and exceptional cases.
M. 1845.
[Footnote 47: Diodorus Siculus in Eclog. Hist. l. xxxiv. and

xxxvi. Florus, iii. 19, 20.
[Footnote *: The following is the example: we shall see whether
the word "severe" is here in its place. "At the time in which L.
Domitius was praetor in Sicily, a slave killed a wild boar of
extraordinary size. The praetor, struck by the dexterity and
courage of the man, desired to see him. The poor wretch, highly
gratified with the distinction, came to present himself before the

praetor, in hopes, no doubt, of praise and reward; but Domitius,
on learning that he had only a javelin to attack and kill the
boar, ordered him to be instantly crucified, under the barbarous
pretext that the law prohibited the use of this weapon, as of all
others, to slaves." Perhaps the cruelty of Domitius is less
astonishing than the indifference with which the Roman orator
relates this circumstance, which affects him so little that he
thus expresses himself: "Durum hoc fortasse videatur, neque ego in
ullam partem disputo." "This may appear harsh, nor do I give any
opinion on the subject." And it is the same orator who exclaims in
the same oration, "Facinus est cruciare civem Romanum; scelus
verberare; prope parricidium necare: quid dicam in crucem
tollere?" "It is a crime to imprison a Roman citizen; wickedness
to scourge; next to parricide to put to death, what shall I call
it to crucify?

In general, this passage of Gibbon on slavery, is full, not only
of blamable indifference, but of an exaggeration of impartiality
which resembles dishonesty. He endeavors to extenuate all that is
appalling in the condition and treatment of the slaves; he would
make us consider those cruelties as possibly "justified by
necessity." He then describes, with minute accuracy, the slightest
mitigations of their deplorable condition; he attributes to the
virtue or the policy of the emperors the progressive amelioration
in the lot of the slaves; and he passes over in silence the most
influential cause, that which, after rendering the slaves less
miserable, has contributed at length entirely to enfranchise them
from their sufferings and their chains, - Christianity. It would
be easy to accumulate the most frightful, the most agonizing
details, of the manner in which the Romans treated their slaves;
whole works have been devoted to the description. I content
myself with referring to them. Some reflections of Robertson,
taken from the discourse already quoted, will make us feel that
Gibbon, in tracing the mitigation of the condition of the slaves,
up to a period little later than that which witnessed the
establishment of Christianity in the world, could not have avoided
the acknowledgment of the influence of that beneficent cause, if
he had not already determined not to speak of it.

"Upon establishing despotic government in the Roman empire,
domestic tyranny rose, in a short time, to an astonishing height.
In that rank soil, every vice, which power nourishes in the great,
or oppression engenders in the mean, thrived and grew up apace.
* * It is not the authority of any single detached precept in the
gospel, but the spirit and genius of the Christian religion, more
powerful than any particular command. which hath abolished the
practice of slavery throughout the world. The temper which
Christianity inspired was mild and gentle; and the doctrines it
taught added such dignity and lustre to human nature, as rescued
it from the dishonorable servitude into which it was sunk.

It is in vain, then, that Gibbon pretends to attribute solely to
the desire of keeping up the number of slaves, the milder conduct
which the Romans began to adopt in their favor at the time of the
emperors. This cause had hitherto acted in an opposite direction;
how came it on a sudden to have a different influence? "The
masters," he says, "encouraged the marriage of their slaves; * *
the sentiments of nature, the habits of education, contributed to
alleviate the hardships of servitude." The children of slaves were
the property of their master, who could dispose of or alienate
them like the rest of his property. Is it in such a situation,
with such notions, that the sentiments of nature unfold
themselves, or habits of education become mild and peaceful? We
must not attribute to causes inadequate or altogether without
force, effects which require to explain them a reference to more
influential causes; and even if these slighter causes had in
effect a manifest influence, we must not forget that they are
themselves the effect of a primary, a higher, and more extensive
cause, which, in giving to the mind and to the character a more
disinterested and more humane bias, disposed men to second or
themselves to advance, by their conduct, and by the change of
manners, the happy results which it tended to produce. - G.

I have retained the whole of M. Guizot's note, though, in his zeal
for the invaluable blessings of freedom and Christianity, he has
done Gibbon injustice. The condition of the slaves was
undoubtedly improved under the emperors. What a great authority
has said, "The condition of a slave is better under an arbitrary
than under a free government," (Smith's Wealth of Nations, iv. 7,
is, I believe, supported by the history of all ages and nations.
The protecting edicts of Hadrian and the Antonines are historical
facts, and can as little be attributed to the influence of
Christianity, as the milder language of heathen writers, of
Seneca, (particularly Ep. 47,) of Pliny, and of Plutarch. The
latter influence of Christianity is admitted by Gibbon himself.
The subject of Roman slavery has recently been investigated with
great diligence in a very modest but valuable volume, by Wm.
Blair, Esq., Edin. 1833. May we be permitted. while on the
subject, to refer to the most splendid passage extant of Mr.
Pitt's eloquence, the description of the Roman slave-dealer. on
the shores of Britain, condemning the island to irreclaimable
barbarism, as a perpetual and prolific nursery of slaves?
Speeches, vol. ii. p. 80.

Gibbon, it should be added, was one of the first and most
consistent opponents of the African slave-trade. (See Hist. ch.

xxv. and Letters to Lor Sheffield, Misc. Works) - M.
[Footnote 48: See a remarkable instance of severity in Cicero in
Verrem, v. 3.

[Footnote *: An active slave-trade, which was carried on in many
quarters, particularly the Euxine, the eastern provinces, the
coast of Africa, and British must be taken into the account.
Blair, 23 - 32. - M.

[Footnote !: The Romans, as well in the first ages of the republic
as later, allowed to their slaves a kind of marriage,
(contubernium: ) notwithstanding this, luxury made a greater
number of slaves in demand. The increase in their population was
not sufficient, and recourse was had to the purchase of slaves,
which was made even in the provinces of the East subject to the
Romans. It is, moreover, known that slavery is a state little
favorable to population. (See Hume's Essay, and Malthus on
population, i. 334. - G.) The testimony of Appian (B.C. l. i. c.
7) is decisive in favor of the rapid multiplication of the
agricultural slaves; it is confirmed by the numbers engaged in the
servile wars. Compare also Blair, p. 119; likewise Columella l.

viii. - M.
[Footnote 49: See in Gruter, and the other collectors, a great
number of inscriptions addressed by slaves to their wives,
children, fellow-servants, masters, &c. They are all most
probably of the Imperial age.] [Footnote 50: See the Augustan
History, and a Dissertation of M. de Burigny, in the xxxvth volume
of the Academy of Inscriptions, upon the Roman slaves.

Hope, the best comfort of our imperfect condition, was not denied
to the Roman slave; and if he had any opportunity of rendering
himself either useful or agreeable, he might very naturally expect
that the diligence and fidelity of a few years would be rewarded
with the inestimable gift of freedom. The benevolence of the
master was so frequently prompted by the meaner suggestions of
vanity and avarice, that the laws found it more necessary to
restrain than to encourage a profuse and undistinguishing
liberality, which might degenerate into a very dangerous abuse.
^51 It was a maxim of ancient jurisprudence, that a slave had not
any country of his own; he acquired with his liberty an admission
into the political society of which his patron was a member. The
consequences of this maxim would have prostituted the privileges
of the Roman city to a mean and promiscuous multitude. Some
seasonable exceptions were therefore provided; and the honorable
distinction was confined to such slaves only as, for just causes,
and with the approbation of the magistrate, should receive
solemn and legal manumission. Even these chosen freedmen obtained
no more than the private rights of citizens, and were rigorously
excluded from civil or military honors. Whatever might be the
merit or fortune of their sons, they likewise were esteemed
unworthy of a seat in the senate; nor were the traces of a servile
origin allowed to be completely obliterated till the third or
fourth generation. ^52 Without destroying the distinction of
ranks, a distant prospect of freedom and honors was presented,
even to those whom pride and prejudice almost disdained to number

among the human species. [Footnote 51: See another Dissertation of

M. de Burigny, in the xxxviith volume, on the Roman freedmen.
[Footnote 52: Spanheim, Orbis Roman. l. i. c. 16, p. 124, &c.] It
was once proposed to discriminate the slaves by a peculiar habit;
but it was justly apprehended that there might be some danger in
acquainting them with their own numbers. ^53 Without interpreting,
in their utmost strictness, the liberal appellations of legions
and myriads, ^54 we may venture to pronounce, that the proportion
of slaves, who were valued as property, was more considerable than
that of servants, who can be computed only as an expense. ^55 The
youths of a promising genius were instructed in the arts and
sciences, and their price was ascertained by the degree of their
skill and talents. ^56 Almost every profession, either liberal ^57
or mechanical, might be found in the household of an opulent
senator. The ministers of pomp and sensuality were multiplied
beyond the conception of modern luxury. ^58 It was more for the
interest of the merchant or manufacturer to purchase, than to hire
his workmen; and in the country, slaves were employed as the
cheapest and most laborious instruments of agriculture. To
confirm the general observation, and to display the multitude of
slaves, we might allege a variety of particular instances. It was
discovered, on a very melancholy occasion, that four hundred
slaves were maintained in a single palace of Rome. ^59 The same
number of four hundred belonged to an estate which an African
widow, of a very private condition, resigned to her son, whilst
she reserved for herself a much larger share of her property. ^60
A freedman, under the name of Augustus, though his fortune had
suffered great losses in the civil wars, left behind him three
thousand six hundred yoke of oxen, two hundred and fifty thousand
head of smaller cattle, and what was almost included in the
description of cattle, four thousand one hundred and sixteen
slaves. ^61

[Footnote 53: Seneca de Clementia, l. i. c. 24. The original is
much stronger, "Quantum periculum immineret si servi nostri
numerare nos coepissent."

[Footnote 54: See Pliny (Hist. Natur. l. xxxiii.) and Athenaeus
(Deipnosophist. l. vi. p. 272.) The latter boldly asserts, that he
knew very many Romans who possessed, not for use, but ostentation,
ten and even twenty thousand slaves.

[Footnote 55: In Paris there are not more than 43,000 domestics of
every sort, and not a twelfth part of the inhabitants. Messange,
Recherches sui la Population, p. 186.

[Footnote 56: A learned slave sold for many hundred pounds
sterling: Atticus always bred and taught them himself. Cornel.
Nepos in Vit. c. 13, [on the prices of slaves. Blair, 149.] - M.

[Footnote 57: Many of the Roman physicians were slaves. See Dr.
Middleton's Dissertation and Defence.

[Footnote 58: Their ranks and offices are very copiously
enumerated by Pignorius de Servis.

[Footnote 59: Tacit. Annal. xiv. 43. They were all executed for
not preventing their master's murder.

Note: The remarkable speech of Cassius shows the proud feelings of
the Roman aristocracy on this subject. - M]

[Footnote 60: Apuleius in Apolog. p. 548. edit. Delphin]

[Footnote 61: Plin. Hist. Natur. l. xxxiii. 47.

The number of subjects who acknowledged the laws of Rome, of
citizens, of provincials, and of slaves, cannot now be fixed with
such a degree of accuracy, as the importance of the object would
deserve. We are informed, that when the Emperor Claudius
exercised the office of censor, he took an account of six millions
nine hundred and forty-five thousand Roman citizens, who, with the
proportion of women and children, must have amounted to about
twenty millions of souls. The multitude of subjects of an
inferior rank was uncertain and fluctuating. But, after weighing
with attention every circumstance which could influence the
balance, it seems probable that there existed, in the time of
Claudius, about twice as many provincials as there were citizens,
of either sex, and of every age; and that the slaves were at least
equal in number to the free inhabitants of the Roman world. ^* The
total amount of this imperfect calculation would rise to about one
hundred and twenty millions of persons; a degree of population
which possibly exceeds that of modern Europe, ^62 and forms the
most numerous society that has ever been united under the same
system of government.

[Footnote *: According to Robertson, there were twice as many
slaves as free citizens. - G. Mr. Blair (p. 15) estimates three
slaves to one freeman, between the conquest of Greece, B.C. 146,
and the reign of Alexander Severus, A. D. 222, 235. The
proportion was probably larger in Italy than in the provinces.

M. On the other hand, Zumpt, in his Dissertation quoted below,
(p. 86,) asserts it to be a gross error in Gibbon to reckon the
number of slaves equal to that of the free population. The luxury
and magnificence of the great, (he observes,) at the commencement
of the empire, must not be taken as the groundwork of calculations
for the whole Roman world. The agricultural laborer, and the
artisan, in Spain, Gaul, Britain, Syria, and Egypt, maintained
himself, as in the present day, by his own labor and that of his
household, without possessing a single slave." The latter part of
my note was intended to suggest this consideration. Yet so
completely was slavery rooted in the social system, both in the

east and the west, that in the great diffusion of wealth at this
time, every one, I doubt not, who could afford a domestic slave,
kept one; and generally, the number of slaves was in proportion to
the wealth. I do not believe that the cultivation of the soil by
slaves was confined to Italy; the holders of large estates in the
provinces would probably, either from choice or necessity, adopt
the same mode of cultivation. The latifundia, says Pliny, had
ruined Italy, and had begun to ruin the provinces. Slaves were no
doubt employed in agricultural labor to a great extent in Sicily,
and were the estates of those six enormous landholders who were
said to have possessed the whole province of Africa, cultivated
altogether by free coloni? Whatever may have been the case in the
rural districts, in the towns and cities the household duties were
almost entirely discharged by slaves, and vast numbers belonged to
the public establishments. I do not, however, differ so far from
Zumpt, and from M. Dureau de la Malle, as to adopt the higher and
bolder estimate of Robertson and Mr. Blair, rather than the more
cautious suggestions of Gibbon. I would reduce rather than
increase the proportion of the slave population. The very
ingenious and elaborate calculations of the French writer, by
which he deduces the amount of the population from the produce and
consumption of corn in Italy, appear to me neither precise nor
satisfactory bases for such complicated political arithmetic. I am
least satisfied with his views as to the population of the city of
Rome; but this point will be more fitly reserved for a note on the
thirty-first chapter of Gibbon. The work, however, of M. Dureau
de la Malle is very curious and full on some of the minuter points
of Roman statistics. - M. 1845.

[Footnote 62: Compute twenty millions in France, twenty-two in
Germany, four in Hungary, ten in Italy with its islands, eight in
Great Britain and Ireland, eight in Spain and Portugal, ten or
twelve in the European Russia, six in Poland, six in Greece and
Turkey, four in Sweden, three in Denmark and Norway, four in the
Low Countries. The whole would amount to one hundred and five, or
one hundred and seven millions. See Voltaire, de l'Histoire

Note: The present population of Europe is estimated at
227,700,000. Malts Bran, Geogr. Trans edit. 1832 See details in
the different volumes Another authority, (Almanach de Gotha,
quoted in a recent English publication, gives the following

France, 32,897,521 Germany, (including Hungary, Prussian and
Austrian Poland,) 56,136,213 Italy, 20,548,616 Great Britain and
Ireland, 24,062,947 Spain and Portugal, 13,953,959 3,144,000
Russia, including Poland, 44,220,600 Cracow, 128,480 Turkey,
(including Pachalic of Dschesair,) 9,545,300 Greece, 637,700
Ionian Islands, 208,100 Sweden and Norway, 3,914,963 Denmark,
2,012,998 Belgium, 3,533,538 Holland, 2,444,550 Switzerland,
985,000 Total, 219,344,116

Since the publication of my first annotated edition of Gibbon, the
subject of the population of the Roman empire has been
investigated by two writers of great industry and learning; Mons.
Dureau de la Malle, in his Economie Politique des Romains, liv.

ii. c. 1. to 8, and M. Zumpt, in a dissertation printed in the
Transactions of the Berlin Academy, 1840. M. Dureau de la Malle
confines his inquiry almost entirely to the city of Rome, and
Roman Italy. Zumpt examines at greater length the axiom, which he
supposes to have been assumed by Gibbon as unquestionable, "that
Italy and the Roman world was never so populous as in the time of
the Antonines." Though this probably was Gibbon's opinion, he has
not stated it so peremptorily as asserted by Mr. Zumpt. It had
before been expressly laid down by Hume, and his statement was
controverted by Wallace and by Malthus. Gibbon says (p. 84) that
there is no reason to believe the country (of Italy) less populous
in the age of the Antonines, than in that of Romulus; and Zumpt
acknowledges that we have no satisfactory knowledge of the state
of Italy at that early age. Zumpt, in my opinion with some reason,
takes the period just before the first Punic war, as that in which
Roman Italy (all south of the Rubicon) was most populous. From
that time, the numbers began to diminish, at first from the
enormous waste of life out of the free population in the foreign,
and afterwards in the civil wars; from the cultivation of the soil
by slaves; towards the close of the republic, from the repugnance
to marriage, which resisted alike the dread of legal punishment
and the offer of legal immunity and privilege; and from the
depravity of manners, which interfered with the procreation, the
birth, and the rearing of children. The arguments and the
authorities of Zumpt are equally conclusive as to the decline of
population in Greece. Still the details, which he himself adduces
as to the prosperity and populousness of Asia Minor, and the whole
of the Roman East, with the advancement of the European provinces,
especially Gaul, Spain, and Britain, in civilization, and
therefore in populousness, (for I have no confidence in the vast
numbers sometimes assigned to the barbarous inhabitants of these
countries,) may, I think, fairly compensate for any deduction to
be made from Gibbon's general estimate on account of Greece and
Italy. Gibbon himself acknowledges his own estimate to be vague
and conjectural; and I may venture to recommend the dissertation
of Zumpt as deserving respectful consideration. - M 1815.
Chapter II: The Internal Prosperity In The Age Of The Antonines.

Part III.

Domestic peace and union were the natural consequences of the
moderate and comprehensive policy embraced by the Romans. If we
turn our eyes towards the monarchies of Asia, we shall behold
despotism in the centre, and weakness in the extremities; the
collection of the revenue, or the administration of justice,
enforced by the presence of an army; hostile barbarians

established in the heart of the country, hereditary satraps
usurping the dominion of the provinces, and subjects inclined to
rebellion, though incapable of freedom. But the obedience of the
Roman world was uniform, voluntary, and permanent. The vanquished
nations, blended into one great people, resigned the hope, nay,
even the wish, of resuming their independence, and scarcely
considered their own existence as distinct from the existence of
Rome. The established authority of the emperors pervaded without
an effort the wide extent of their dominions, and was exercised
with the same facility on the banks of the Thames, or of the Nile,
as on those of the Tyber. The legions were destined to serve
against the public enemy, and the civil magistrate seldom required
the aid of a military force. ^63 In this state of general
security, the leisure, as well as opulence, both of the prince and
people, were devoted to improve and to adorn the Roman empire.

[Footnote 63: Joseph. de Bell. Judaico, l. ii. c. 16. The oration
of Agrippa, or rather of the historian, is a fine picture of the
Roman empire.

Among the innumerable monuments of architecture constructed by the
Romans, how many have escaped the notice of history, how few have
resisted the ravages of time and barbarism! And yet, even the
majestic ruins that are still scattered over Italy and the
provinces, would be sufficient to prove that those countries were
once the seat of a polite and powerful empire. Their greatness
alone, or their beauty, might deserve our attention: but they are
rendered more interesting, by two important circumstances, which
connect the agreeable history of the arts with the more useful
history of human manners. Many of those works were erected at
private expense, and almost all were intended for public benefit.

It is natural to suppose that the greatest number, as well as the
most considerable of the Roman edifices, were raised by the
emperors, who possessed so unbounded a command both of men and
money. Augustus was accustomed to boast that he had found his
capital of brick, and that he had left it of marble. ^64 The
strict economy of Vespasian was the source of his magnificence.
The works of Trajan bear the stamp of his genius. The public
monuments with which Hadrian adorned every province of the empire,
were executed not only by his orders, but under his immediate
inspection. He was himself an artist; and he loved the arts, as
they conduced to the glory of the monarch. They were encouraged
by the Antonines, as they contributed to the happiness of the
people. But if the emperors were the first, they were not the
only architects of their dominions. Their example was universally
imitated by their principal subjects, who were not afraid of
declaring to the world that they had spirit to conceive, and
wealth to accomplish, the noblest undertakings. Scarcely had the
proud structure of the Coliseum been dedicated at Rome, before the
edifices, of a smaller scale indeed, but of the same design and
materials, were erected for the use, and at the expense, of the

cities of Capua and Verona. ^65 The inscription of the stupendous
bridge of Alcantara attests that it was thrown over the Tagus by
the contribution of a few Lusitanian communities. When Pliny was
intrusted with the government of Bithynia and Pontus, provinces by
no means the richest or most considerable of the empire, he found
the cities within his jurisdiction striving with each other in
every useful and ornamental work, that might deserve the curiosity
of strangers, or the gratitude of their citizens. It was the duty
of the proconsul to supply their deficiencies, to direct their
taste, and sometimes to moderate their emulation. ^66 The opulent
senators of Rome and the provinces esteemed it an honor, and
almost an obligation, to adorn the splendor of their age and
country; and the influence of fashion very frequently supplied the
want of taste or generosity. Among a crowd of these private
benefactors, we may select Herodes Atticus, an Athenian citizen,
who lived in the age of the Antonines. Whatever might be the
motive of his conduct, his magnificence would have been worthy of
the greatest kings.

[Footnote 64: Sueton. in August. c. 28. Augustus built in Rome
the temple and forum of Mars the Avenger; the temple of Jupiter
Tonans in the Capitol; that of Apollo Palatine, with public
libraries; the portico and basilica of Caius and Lucius; the
porticos of Livia and Octavia; and the theatre of Marcellus. The
example of the sovereign was imitated by his ministers and
generals; and his friend Agrippa left behind him the immortal
monument of the Pantheon.

[See Theatre Of Marcellus: Augustus built in Rome the theatre of

[Footnote 65: See Maffei, Veroni Illustrata, l. iv. p. 68.
[Footnote 66: See the xth book of Pliny's Epistles. He mentions
the following works carried on at the expense of the cities. At
Nicomedia, a new forum, an aqueduct, and a canal, left unfinished
by a king; at Nice, a gymnasium, and a theatre, which had already
cost near ninety thousand pounds; baths at Prusa and Claudiopolis,
and an aqueduct of sixteen miles in length for the use of Sinope.

The family of Herod, at least after it had been favored by
fortune, was lineally descended from Cimon and Miltiades, Theseus
and Cecrops, Aeacus and Jupiter. But the posterity of so many
gods and heroes was fallen into the most abject state. His
grandfather had suffered by the hands of justice, and Julius
Atticus, his father, must have ended his life in poverty and
contempt, had he not discovered an immense treasure buried under
an old house, the last remains of his patrimony. According to the
rigor of the law, the emperor might have asserted his claim, and
the prudent Atticus prevented, by a frank confession, the
officiousness of informers. But the equitable Nerva, who then
filled the throne, refused to accept any part of it, and commanded

him to use, without scruple, the present of fortune. The cautious
Athenian still insisted, that the treasure was too considerable
for a subject, and that he knew not how to use it. Abuse it then,
replied the monarch, with a good- natured peevishness; for it is
your own. ^67 Many will be of opinion, that Atticus literally
obeyed the emperor's last instructions; since he expended the
greatest part of his fortune, which was much increased by an
advantageous marriage, in the service of the public. He had
obtained for his son Herod the prefecture of the free cities of
Asia; and the young magistrate, observing that the town of Troas
was indifferently supplied with water, obtained from the
munificence of Hadrian three hundred myriads of drachms, (about
hundred thousand pounds,) for the construction of a new aqueduct.
But in the execution of the work, the charge amounted to more than
double the estimate, and the officers of the revenue began to
murmur, till the generous Atticus silenced their complaints, by
requesting that he might be permitted to take upon himself the
whole additional expense. ^68

[Footnote 67: Hadrian afterwards made a very equitable regulation,
which divided all treasure-trove between the right of property and
that of discovery. Hist. August. p. 9.

[Footnote 68: Philostrat. in Vit. Sophist. l. ii. p. 548.] The
ablest preceptors of Greece and Asia had been invited by liberal
rewards to direct the education of young Herod. Their pupil soon
became a celebrated orator, according to the useless rhetoric of
that age, which, confining itself to the schools, disdained to
visit either the Forum or the Senate.

He was honored with the consulship at Rome: but the greatest part
of his life was spent in a philosophic retirement at Athens, and
his adjacent villas; perpetually surrounded by sophists, who
acknowledged, without reluctance, the superiority of a rich and
generous rival. ^69 The monuments of his genius have perished;
some considerable ruins still preserve the fame of his taste and
munificence: modern travellers have measured the remains of the
stadium which he constructed at Athens. It was six hundred feet
in length, built entirely of white marble, capable of admitting
the whole body of the people, and finished in four years, whilst
Herod was president of the Athenian games. To the memory of his
wife Regilla he dedicated a theatre, scarcely to be paralleled in
the empire: no wood except cedar, very curiously carved, was
employed in any part of the building. The Odeum, ^* designed by
Pericles for musical performances, and the rehearsal of new
tragedies, had been a trophy of the victory of the arts over
barbaric greatness; as the timbers employed in the construction
consisted chiefly of the masts of the Persian vessels.
Notwithstanding the repairs bestowed on that ancient edifice by
king of Cappadocia, it was again fallen to decay. Herod restored
its ancient beauty and magnificence. Nor was the liberality of
that illustrious citizen confined to the walls of Athens. The

most splendid ornaments bestowed on the temple of Neptune in the
Isthmus, a theatre at Corinth, a stadium at Delphi, a bath at
Thermopylae, and an aqueduct at Canusium in Italy, were
insufficient to exhaust his treasures. The people of Epirus,
Thessaly, Euboea, Boeotia, and Peloponnesus, experienced his
favors; and many inscriptions of the cities of Greece and Asia
gratefully style Herodes Atticus their patron and benefactor. ^70
[Footnote 69: Aulus Gellius, in Noct. Attic. i. 2, ix. 2, xviii.
10, xix. 12. Phil ostrat. p. 564.

[Footnote *: The Odeum served for the rehearsal of new comedies as
well as tragedies; they were read or repeated, before
representation, without music or decorations, &c. No piece could
be represented in the theatre if it had not been previously
approved by judges for this purpose. The king of Cappadocia who
restored the Odeum, which had been burnt by Sylla, was
Araobarzanes. See Martini, Dissertation on the Odeons of the
Ancients, Leipsic. 1767, p. 10 - 91. - W.

[Footnote 70: See Philostrat. l. ii. p. 548, 560. Pausanias, l.

i. and vii. 10. The life of Herodes, in the xxxth volume of the
Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions.
In the commonwealths of Athens and Rome, the modest simplicity of
private houses announced the equal condition of freedom; whilst
the sovereignty of the people was represented in the majestic
edifices designed to the public use; ^71 nor was this republican
spirit totally extinguished by the introduction of wealth and
monarchy. It was in works of national honor and benefit, that the
most virtuous of the emperors affected to display their
magnificence. The golden palace of Nero excited a just
indignation, but the vast extent of ground which had been usurped
by his selfish luxury was more nobly filled under the succeeding
reigns by the Coliseum, the baths of Titus, the Claudian portico,
and the temples dedicated to the goddess of Peace, and to the
genius of Rome. ^72 These monuments of architecture, the property
of the Roman people, were adorned with the most beautiful
productions of Grecian painting and sculpture; and in the temple
of Peace, a very curious library was open to the curiosity of the
learned. ^* At a small distance from thence was situated the Forum
of Trajan. It was surrounded by a lofty portico, in the form of
quadrangle, into which four triumphal arches opened a noble and
spacious entrance: in the centre arose a column of marble, whose
height, of one hundred and ten feet, denoted the elevation of the
hill that had been cut away. This column, which still subsists in
its ancient beauty, exhibited an exact representation of the
Dacian victories of its founder. The veteran soldier contemplated
the story of his own campaigns, and by an easy illusion of
national vanity, the peaceful citizen associated himself to the
honors of the triumph. All the other quarters of the capital, and
all the provinces of the empire, were embellished by the same
liberal spirit of public magnificence, and were filled with amphi

theatres, theatres, temples, porticoes, triumphal arches, baths
and aqueducts, all variously conducive to the health, the
devotion, and the pleasures of the meanest citizen. The last
mentioned of those edifices deserve our peculiar attention. The
boldness of the enterprise, the solidity of the execution, and the
uses to which they were subservient, rank the aqueducts among the
noblest monuments of Roman genius and power. The aqueducts of the
capital claim a just preeminence; but the curious traveller, who,
without the light of history, should examine those of Spoleto, of
Metz, or of Segovia, would very naturally conclude that those
provincial towns had formerly been the residence of some potent
monarch. The solitudes of Asia and Africa were once covered with
flourishing cities, whose populousness, and even whose existence,
was derived from such artificial supplies of a perennial stream of
fresh water. ^73

[Footnote 71: It is particularly remarked of Athens by
Dicaearchus, de Statu Graeciae, p. 8, inter Geographos Minores,
edit. Hudson.

[Footnote 72: Donatus de Roma Vetere, l. iii. c. 4, 5, 6. Nardini
Roma Antica, l. iii. 11, 12, 13, and a Ms. description of ancient
Rome, by Bernardus Oricellarius, or Rucellai, of which I obtained
a copy from the library of the Canon Ricardi at Florence. Two
celebrated pictures of Timanthes and of Protogenes are mentioned
by Pliny, as in the Temple of Peace; and the Laocoon was found in
the baths of Titus.

[Footnote *: The Emperor Vespasian, who had caused the Temple of
Peace to be built, transported to it the greatest part of the
pictures, statues, and other works of art which had escaped the
civil tumults. It was there that every day the artists and the
learned of Rome assembled; and it is on the site of this temple
that a multitude of antiques have been dug up. See notes of
Reimar on Dion Cassius, lxvi. c. 15, p. 1083. - W.

[Footnote 73: Montfaucon l'Antiquite Expliquee, tom. iv. p. 2, l.

i. c. 9. Fabretti has composed a very learned treatise on the
aqueducts of Rome.
We have computed the inhabitants, and contemplated the public
works, of the Roman empire. The observation of the number and
greatness of its cities will serve to confirm the former, and to
multiply the latter. It may not be unpleasing to collect a few
scattered instances relative to that subject without forgetting,
however, that from the vanity of nations and the poverty of
language, the vague appellation of city has been indifferently
bestowed on Rome and upon Laurentum.

I. Ancient Italy is said to have contained eleven hundred and
ninety- seven cities; and for whatsoever aera of antiquity the
expression might be intended, ^74 there is not any reason to

believe the country less populous in the age of the Antonines,
than in that of Romulus. The petty states of Latium were
contained within the metropolis of the empire, by whose superior
influence they had been attracted. ^* Those parts of Italy which
have so long languished under the lazy tyranny of priests and
viceroys, had been afflicted only by the more tolerable calamities
of war; and the first symptoms of decay which they experienced,
were amply compensated by the rapid improvements of the Cisalpine
Gaul. The splendor of Verona may be traced in its remains: yet
Verona was less celebrated than Aquileia or Padua, Milan or
Ravenna. II. The spirit of improvement had passed the Alps, and
been felt even in the woods of Britain, which were gradually
cleared away to open a free space for convenient and elegant
habitations. York was the seat of government; London was already
enriched by commerce; and Bath was celebrated for the salutary
effects of its medicinal waters. Gaul could boast of her twelve
hundred cities; ^75 and though, in the northern parts, many of
them, without excepting Paris itself, were little more than the
rude and imperfect townships of a rising people, the southern
provinces imitated the wealth and elegance of Italy. ^76 Many were
the cities of Gaul, Marseilles, Arles, Nismes, Narbonne,
Thoulouse, Bourdeaux, Autun, Vienna, Lyons, Langres, and Treves,
whose ancient condition might sustain an equal, and perhaps
advantageous comparison with their present state. With regard to
Spain, that country flourished as a province, and has declined as
a kingdom. Exhausted by the abuse of her strength, by America,
and by superstition, her pride might possibly be confounded, if we
required such a list of three hundred and sixty cities, as Pliny
has exhibited under the reign of Vespasian. ^77 III. Three hundred
African cities had once acknowledged the authority of Carthage,
^78 nor is it likely that their numbers diminished under the
administration of the emperors: Carthage itself rose with new
splendor from its ashes; and that capital, as well as Capua and
Corinth, soon recovered all the advantages which can be separated
from independent sovereignty. IV. The provinces of the East
present the contrast of Roman magnificence with Turkish barbarism.
The ruins of antiquity scattered over uncultivated fields, and
ascribed, by ignorance to the power of magic, scarcely afford
shelter to the oppressed peasant or wandering Arab. Under the
reign of the Caesars, the proper Asia alone contained five hundred
populous cities, ^79 enriched with all the gifts of nature, and
adorned with all the refinements of art. Eleven cities of Asia
had once disputed the honor of dedicating a temple of Tiberius,
and their respective merits were examined by the senate. ^80 Four
of them were immediately rejected as unequal to the burden; and
among these was Laodicea, whose splendor is still displayed in its
ruins. ^81 Laodicea collected a very considerable revenue from its
flocks of sheep, celebrated for the fineness of their wool, and
had received, a little before the contest, a legacy of above four
hundred thousand pounds by the testament of a generous citizen.
^82 If such was the poverty of Laodicea, what must have been the
wealth of those cities, whose claim appeared preferable, and

particularly of Pergamus, of Smyrna, and of Ephesus, who so long
disputed with each other the titular primacy of Asia? ^83 The
capitals of Syria and Egypt held a still superior rank in the
empire; Antioch and Alexandria looked down with disdain on a crowd
of dependent cities, ^84 and yielded, with reluctance, to the
majesty of Rome itself.

[Footnote 74: Aelian. Hist. Var. lib. ix. c. 16. He lived in the
time of Alexander Severus. See Fabricius, Biblioth. Graeca, l.

iv. c. 21.
[Footnote *: This may in some degree account for the difficulty
started by Livy, as to the incredibly numerous armies raised by
the small states around Rome where, in his time, a scanty stock of
free soldiers among a larger population of Roman slaves broke the
solitude. Vix seminario exiguo militum relicto servitia Romana ab
solitudine vindicant, Liv. vi. vii. Compare Appian Bel Civ. i. 7.

-M. subst. for G.
[Footnote 75: Joseph. de Bell. Jud. ii. 16. The number, however,
is mentioned, and should be received with a degree of latitude.
Note: Without doubt no reliance can be placed on this passage of
Josephus. The historian makes Agrippa give advice to the Jews, as
to the power of the Romans; and the speech is full of declamation
which can furnish no conclusions to history. While enumerating the
nations subject to the Romans, he speaks of the Gauls as
submitting to 1200 soldiers, (which is false, as there were eight
legions in Gaul, Tac. iv. 5,) while there are nearly twelve
hundred cities. - G. Josephus (infra) places these eight legions
on the Rhine, as Tacitus does. - M.

[Footnote 76: Plin. Hist. Natur. iii. 5.

[Footnote 77: Plin. Hist. Natur. iii. 3, 4, iv. 35. The list
seems authentic and accurate; the division of the provinces, and
the different condition of the cities, are minutely

[Footnote 78: Strabon. Geograph. l. xvii. p. 1189.

[Footnote 79: Joseph. de Bell. Jud. ii. 16. Philostrat. in Vit.
Sophist. l. ii. p. 548, edit. Olear.

[Footnote 80: Tacit. Annal. iv. 55. I have taken some pains in
consulting and comparing modern travellers, with regard to the
fate of those eleven cities of Asia. Seven or eight are totally
destroyed: Hypaepe, Tralles, Laodicea, Hium, Halicarnassus,
Miletus, Ephesus, and we may add Sardes. Of the remaining three,
Pergamus is a straggling village of two or three thousand
inhabitants; Magnesia, under the name of Guzelhissar, a town of
some consequence; and Smyrna, a great city, peopled by a hundred

thousand souls. But even at Smyrna, while the Franks have
maintained a commerce, the Turks have ruined the arts.

[Footnote 81: See a very exact and pleasing description of the
ruins of Laodicea, in Chandler's Travels through Asia Minor, p.
225, &c.

[Footnote 82: Strabo, l. xii. p. 866. He had studied at Tralles.

[Footnote 83: See a Dissertation of M. de Boze, Mem. de
l'Academie, tom. xviii. Aristides pronounced an oration, which is
still extant, to recommend concord to the rival cities.] [Footnote

84: The inhabitants of Egypt, exclusive of Alexandria, amounted to
seven millions and a half, (Joseph. de Bell. Jud. ii. 16.) Under
the military government of the Mamelukes, Syria was supposed to
contain sixty thousand villages, (Histoire de Timur Bec, l. v. c.
Chapter II: The Internal Prosperity In The Age Of The Antonines.
Part IV.

All these cities were connected with each other, and with the
capital, by the public highways, which, issuing from the Forum of
Rome, traversed Italy, pervaded the provinces, and were terminated
only by the frontiers of the empire. If we carefully trace the
distance from the wall of Antoninus to Rome, and from thence to
Jerusalem, it will be found that the great chain of communication,
from the north-west to the south-east point of the empire, was
drawn out to the length if four thousand and eighty Roman miles.
^85 The public roads were accurately divided by mile-stones, and
ran in a direct line from one city to another, with very little
respect for the obstacles either of nature or private property.
Mountains were perforated, and bold arches thrown over the
broadest and most rapid streams. ^86 The middle part of the road
was raised into a terrace which commanded the adjacent country,
consisted of several strata of sand, gravel, and cement, and was
paved with large stones, or, in some places near the capital, with
granite. ^87 Such was the solid construction of the Roman
highways, whose firmness has not entirely yielded to the effort of
fifteen centuries. They united the subjects of the most distant
provinces by an easy and familiar intercourse; out their primary
object had been to facilitate the marches of the legions; nor was
any country considered as completely subdued, till it had been
rendered, in all its parts, pervious to the arms and authority of
the conqueror. The advantage of receiving the earliest
intelligence, and of conveying their orders with celerity, induced
the emperors to establish, throughout their extensive dominions,
the regular institution of posts. ^88 Houses were every where
erected at the distance only of five or six miles; each of them
was constantly provided with forty horses, and by the help of
these relays, it was easy to travel a hundred miles in a day along

the Roman roads. ^89 ^* The use of posts was allowed to those who
claimed it by an Imperial mandate; but though originally intended
for the public service, it was sometimes indulged to the business
or conveniency of private citizens. ^90 Nor was the communication
of the Roman empire less free and open by sea than it was by land.
The provinces surrounded and enclosed the Mediterranean: and
Italy, in the shape of an immense promontory, advanced into the
midst of that great lake. The coasts of Italy are, in general,
destitute of safe harbors; but human industry had corrected the
deficiencies of nature; and the artificial port of Ostia, in
particular, situate at the mouth of the Tyber, and formed by the
emperor Claudius, was a useful monument of Roman greatness. ^91
From this port, which was only sixteen miles from the capital,
favorable breeze frequently carried vessels in seven days to the
columns of Hercules, and in nine or ten, to Alexandria in Egypt.

[See Remains Of Claudian Aquaduct]

[Footnote 85: The following Itinerary may serve to convey some
idea of the direction of the road, and of the distance between the
principal towns. I. From the wall of Antoninus to York, 222 Roman
miles. II. London, 227. III. Rhutupiae or Sandwich, 67. IV.
The navigation to Boulogne, 45. V. Rheims, 174. VI. Lyons, 330.

VII. Milan, 324. VIII. Rome, 426. IX. Brundusium, 360. X.
The navigation to Dyrrachium, 40. XI. Byzantium, 711. XII.
Ancyra, 283. XIII. Tarsus, 301. XIV. Antioch, 141. XV. Tyre,
252. XVI. Jerusalem, 168. In all 4080 Roman, or 3740 English
miles. See the Itineraries published by Wesseling, his
annotations; Gale and Stukeley for Britain, and M. d'Anville for
Gaul and Italy.
[Footnote 86: Montfaucon, l'Antiquite Expliquee, (tom. 4, p. 2, l.

i. c. 5,) has described the bridges of Narni, Alcantara, Nismes,
&c.] [Footnote 87: Bergier, Histoire des grands Chemins de
l'Empire Romain, l. ii. c. l. l - 28.
[Footnote 88: Procopius in Hist. Arcana, c. 30. Bergier, Hist.
des grands Chemins, l. iv. Codex Theodosian. l. viii. tit. v.
vol. ii. p. 506 - 563 with Godefroy's learned commentary.

[Footnote 89: In the time of Theodosius, Caesarius, a magistrate
of high rank, went post from Antioch to Constantinople. He began
his journey at night, was in Cappadocia (165 miles from Antioch)
the ensuing evening, and arrived at Constantinople the sixth day
about noon. The whole distance was 725 Roman, or 665 English
miles. See Libanius, Orat. xxii., and the Itineria, p. 572 - 581.
Note: A courier is mentioned in Walpole's Travels, ii. 335, who
was to travel from Aleppo to Constantinople, more than 700 miles,
in eight days, an unusually short journey. - M.

[Footnote *: Posts for the conveyance of intelligence were
established by Augustus. Suet. Aug. 49. The couriers travelled
with amazing speed. Blair on Roman Slavery, note, p. 261. It is
probable that the posts, from the time of Augustus, were confined
to the public service, and supplied by impressment Nerva, as it
appears from a coin of his reign, made an important change; "he
established posts upon all the public roads of Italy, and made the
service chargeable upon his own exchequer. * * Hadrian,
perceiving the advantage of this improvement, extended it to all
the provinces of the empire." Cardwell on Coins, p. 220. - M.

[Footnote 90: Pliny, though a favorite and a minister, made an
apology for granting post-horses to his wife on the most urgent
business. Epist. x. 121, 122.

[Footnote 91: Bergier, Hist. des grands Chemins, l. iv. c. 49.
[Footnote 92: Plin. Hist. Natur. xix. i. [In Prooem.

Note: Pliny says Puteoli, which seems to have been the usual
landing place from the East. See the voyages of St. Paul, Acts

xxviii. 13, and of Josephus, Vita, c. 3 - M.
Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to
extensive empire, the power of Rome was attended with some
beneficial consequences to mankind; and the same freedom of
intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise the
improvements, of social life. In the more remote ages of
antiquity, the world was unequally divided. The East was in the
immemorial possession of arts and luxury; whilst the West was
inhabited by rude and warlike barbarians, who either disdained
agriculture, or to whom it was totally unknown. Under the
protection of an established government, the productions of
happier climates, and the industry of more civilized nations, were
gradually introduced into the western countries of Europe; and the
natives were encouraged, by an open and profitable commerce, to
multiply the former, as well as to improve the latter. It would
be almost impossible to enumerate all the articles, either of the
animal or the vegetable reign, which were successively imported
into Europe from Asia and Egypt: ^93 but it will not be unworthy
of the dignity, and much less of the utility, of an historical
work, slightly to touch on a few of the principal heads. 1.
Almost all the flowers, the herbs, and the fruits, that grow in
our European gardens, are of foreign extraction, which, in many
cases, is betrayed even by their names: the apple was a native of
Italy, and when the Romans had tasted the richer flavor of the
apricot, the peach, the pomegranate, the citron, and the orange,
they contented themselves with applying to all these new fruits
the common denomination of apple, discriminating them from each
other by the additional epithet of their country. 2. In the time
of Homer, the vine grew wild in the island of Sicily, and most
probably in the adjacent continent; but it was not improved by the
skill, nor did it afford a liquor grateful to the taste, of the

savage inhabitants. ^94 A thousand years afterwards, Italy could
boast, that of the fourscore most generous and celebrated wines,
more than two thirds were produced from her soil. ^95 The blessing
was soon communicated to the Narbonnese province of Gaul; but so
intense was the cold to the north of the Cevennes, that, in the
time of Strabo, it was thought impossible to ripen the grapes in
those parts of Gaul. ^96 This difficulty, however, was gradually
vanquished; and there is some reason to believe, that the
vineyards of Burgundy are as old as the age of the Antonines. ^97

3. The olive, in the western world, followed the progress of
peace, of which it was considered as the symbol. Two centuries
after the foundation of Rome, both Italy and Africa were strangers
to that useful plant: it was naturalized in those countries; and
at length carried into the heart of Spain and Gaul. The timid
errors of the ancients, that it required a certain degree of heat,
and could only flourish in the neighborhood of the sea, were
insensibly exploded by industry and experience. ^98 4. The
cultivation of flax was transported from Egypt to Gaul, and
enriched the whole country, however it might impoverish the
particular lands on which it was sown. ^99 5. The use of
artificial grasses became familiar to the farmers both of Italy
and the provinces, particularly the Lucerne, which derived its
name and origin from Media. ^100 The assured supply of wholesome
and plentiful food for the cattle during winter, multiplied the
number of the docks and herds, which in their turn contributed to
the fertility of the soil. To all these improvements may be added
an assiduous attention to mines and fisheries, which, by employing
a multitude of laborious hands, serve to increase the pleasures of
the rich and the subsistence of the poor. The elegant treatise of
Columella describes the advanced state of the Spanish husbandry
under the reign of Tiberius; and it may be observed, that those
famines, which so frequently afflicted the infant republic, were
seldom or never experienced by the extensive empire of Rome. The
accidental scarcity, in any single province, was immediately
relieved by the plenty of its more fortunate neighbors.
[Footnote 93: It is not improbable that the Greeks and Phoenicians
introduced some new arts and productions into the neighborhood of
Marseilles and Gades.] [Footnote 94: See Homer, Odyss. l. ix. v.

[Footnote 95: Plin. Hist. Natur. l. xiv.

[Footnote 96: Strab. Geograph. l. iv. p. 269. The intense cold of
a Gallic winter was almost proverbial among the ancients.

Note: Strabo only says that the grape does not ripen. Attempts had
been made in the time of Augustus to naturalize the vine in the
north of Gaul; but the cold was too great. Diod. Sic. edit.
Rhodom. p. 304. - W. Diodorus (lib. v. 26) gives a curious picture
of the Italian traders bartering, with the savages of Gaul, a cask
of wine for a slave. - M.

It appears from the newly discovered treatise of Cicero de
Republica, that there was a law of the republic prohibiting the
culture of the vine and olive beyond the Alps, in order to keep up
the value of those in Italy. Nos justissimi homines, qui
transalpinas gentes oleam et vitem serere non sinimus, quo pluris
sint nostra oliveta nostraeque vineae. Lib. iii. 9. The
restrictive law of Domitian was veiled under the decent pretext of
encouraging the cultivation of grain. Suet. Dom. vii. It was
repealed by Probus Vopis Strobus, 18. - M.

[Footnote 97: In the beginning of the fourth century, the orator
Eumenius (Panegyr. Veter. viii. 6, edit. Delphin.) speaks of the
vines in the territory of Autun, which were decayed through age,
and the first plantation of which was totally unknown. The Pagus
Arebrignus is supposed by M. d'Anville to be the district of
Beaune, celebrated, even at present for one of the first growths
of Burgundy.

Note: This is proved by a passage of Pliny the Elder, where he
speaks of a certain kind of grape (vitis picata. vinum picatum)
which grows naturally to the district of Vienne, and had recently
been transplanted into the country of the Arverni, (Auvergne,) of
the Helvii, (the Vivarias.) and the Burgundy and Franche Compte.
Pliny wrote A.D. 77. Hist. Nat. xiv. 1. - W.] [Footnote 98: Plin.
Hist. Natur. l. xv.

[Footnote 99: Plin. Hist. Natur. l. xix.

[Footnote 100: See the agreeable Essays on Agriculture by Mr.
Harte, in which he has collected all that the ancients and moderns
have said of Lucerne.] Agriculture is the foundation of
manufactures; since the productions of nature are the materials of
art. Under the Roman empire, the labor of an industrious and
ingenious people was variously, but incessantly, employed in the
service of the rich. In their dress, their table, their houses,
and their furniture, the favorites of fortune united every
refinement of conveniency, of elegance, and of splendor, whatever
could soothe their pride or gratify their sensuality. Such
refinements, under the odious name of luxury, have been severely
arraigned by the moralists of every age; and it might perhaps be
more conducive to the virtue, as well as happiness, of mankind, if
all possessed the necessaries, and none the superfluities, of
life. But in the present imperfect condition of society, luxury,
though it may proceed from vice or folly, seems to be the only
means that can correct the unequal distribution of property. The
diligent mechanic, and the skilful artist, who have obtained no
share in the division of the earth, receive a voluntary tax from
the possessors of land; and the latter are prompted, by a sense of
interest, to improve those estates, with whose produce they may
purchase additional pleasures. This operation, the particular
effects of which are felt in every society, acted with much more

diffusive energy in the Roman world. The provinces would soon
have been exhausted of their wealth, if the manufactures and
commerce of luxury had not insensibly restored to the industrious
subjects the sums which were exacted from them by the arms and
authority of Rome. As long as the circulation was confined within
the bounds of the empire, it impressed the political machine with
a new degree of activity, and its consequences, sometimes
beneficial, could never become pernicious.

But it is no easy task to confine luxury within the limits of an
empire. The most remote countries of the ancient world were
ransacked to supply the pomp and delicacy of Rome. The forests of
Scythia afforded some valuable furs. Amber was brought over land
from the shores of the Baltic to the Danube; and the barbarians
were astonished at the price which they received in exchange for
so useless a commodity. ^101 There was a considerable demand for
Babylonian carpets, and other manufactures of the East; but the
most important and unpopular branch of foreign trade was carried
on with Arabia and India. Every year, about the time of the summer
solstice, a fleet of a hundred and twenty vessels sailed from
Myos-hormos, a port of Egypt, on the Red Sea. By the periodical
assistance of the monsoons, they traversed the ocean in about
forty days. The coast of Malabar, or the island of Ceylon, ^102
was the usual term of their navigation, and it was in those
markets that the merchants from the more remote countries of Asia
expected their arrival. The return of the fleet of Egypt was fixed
to the months of December or January; and as soon as their rich
cargo had been transported on the backs of camels, from the Red
Sea to the Nile, and had descended that river as far as
Alexandria, it was poured, without delay, into the capital of the
empire. ^103 The objects of oriental traffic were splendid and
trifling; silk, a pound of which was esteemed not inferior in
value to a pound of gold; ^104 precious stones, among which the
pearl claimed the first rank after the diamond; ^105 and a variety
of aromatics, that were consumed in religious worship and the pomp
of funerals. The labor and risk of the voyage was rewarded with
almost incredible profit; but the profit was made upon Roman
subjects, and a few individuals were enriched at the expense of
the public. As the natives of Arabia and India were contented with
the productions and manufactures of their own country, silver, on
the side of the Romans, was the principal, if not the only ^
instrument of commerce. It was a complaint worthy of the gravity
of the senate, that, in the purchase of female ornaments, the
wealth of the state was irrecoverably given away to foreign and
hostile nations. ^106 The annual loss is computed, by a writer of
an inquisitive but censorious temper, at upwards of eight hundred
thousand pounds sterling. ^107 Such was the style of discontent,
brooding over the dark prospect of approaching poverty. And yet,
if we compare the proportion between gold and silver, as it stood
in the time of Pliny, and as it was fixed in the reign of
Constantine, we shall discover within that period a very
considerable increase. ^108 There is not the least reason to

suppose that gold was become more scarce; it is therefore evident
that silver was grown more common; that whatever might be the
amount of the Indian and Arabian exports, they were far from
exhausting the wealth of the Roman world; and that the produce of
the mines abundantly supplied the demands of commerce.

[Footnote 101: Tacit. Germania, c. 45. Plin. Hist. Nat. xxxvii.

13. The latter observed, with some humor, that even fashion had
not yet found out the use of amber. Nero sent a Roman knight to
purchase great quantities on the spot where it was produced, the
coast of modern Prussia.
[Footnote 102: Called Taprobana by the Romans, and Serindib by the
Arabs. It was discovered under the reign of Claudius, and
gradually became the principal mart of the East.

[Footnote 103: Plin. Hist. Natur. l. vi. Strabo, l. xvii.
[Footnote 104: Hist. August. p. 224. A silk garment was
considered as an ornament to a woman, but as a disgrace to a man.

[Footnote 105: The two great pearl fisheries were the same as at
present, Ormuz and Cape Comorin. As well as we can compare
ancient with modern geography, Rome was supplied with diamonds
from the mine of Jumelpur, in Bengal, which is described in the
Voyages de Tavernier, tom. ii. p. 281.] [Footnote *: Certainly not
the only one. The Indians were not so contented with regard to
foreign productions. Arrian has a long list of European wares,
which they received in exchange for their own; Italian and other
wines, brass, tin, lead, coral, chrysolith, storax, glass, dresses
of one or many colors, zones, &c. See Periplus Maris Erythraei in
Hudson, Geogr. Min. i. p. 27. - W. The German translator observes
that Gibbon has confined the use of aromatics to religious worship
and funerals. His error seems the omission of other spices, of
which the Romans must have consumed great quantities in their
cookery. Wenck, however, admits that silver was the chief article
of exchange. - M.

In 1787, a peasant (near Nellore in the Carnatic) struck, in
digging, on the remains of a Hindu temple; he found, also, a pot
which contained Roman coins and medals of the second century,
mostly Trajans, Adrians, and Faustinas, all of gold, many of them
fresh and beautiful, others defaced or perforated, as if they had
been worn as ornaments. (Asiatic Researches, ii. 19.) - M.

[Footnote 106: Tacit. Annal. iii. 53. In a speech of Tiberius.
[Footnote 107: Plin. Hist. Natur. xii. 18. In another place he
computes half that sum; Quingenties H. S. for India exclusive of
Arabia.] [Footnote 108: The proportion, which was 1 to 10, and 12
1/2, rose to 14 2/5, the legal regulation of Constantine. See
Arbuthnot's Tables of ancient Coins, c. 5.

Notwithstanding the propensity of mankind to exalt the past, and
to depreciate the present, the tranquil and prosperous state of
the empire was warmly felt, and honestly confessed, by the
provincials as well as Romans. "They acknowledged that the true
principles of social life, laws, agriculture, and science, which
had been first invented by the wisdom of Athens, were now firmly
established by the power of Rome, under whose auspicious influence
the fiercest barbarians were united by an equal government and
common language. They affirm, that with the improvement of arts,
the human species were visibly multiplied. They celebrate the
increasing splendor of the cities, the beautiful face of the
country, cultivated and adorned like an immense garden; and the
long festival of peace which was enjoyed by so many nations,
forgetful of the ancient animosities, and delivered from the
apprehension of future danger." ^109 Whatever suspicions may be
suggested by the air of rhetoric and declamation, which seems to
prevail in these passages, the substance of them is perfectly
agreeable to historic truth.

[Footnote 109: Among many other passages, see Pliny, (Hist. Natur.

iii. 5.) Aristides, (de Urbe Roma,) and Tertullian, (de Anima, c.
30.)] It was scarcely possible that the eyes of contemporaries
should discover in the public felicity the latent causes of decay
and corruption. This long peace, and the uniform government of
the Romans, introduced a slow and secret poison into the vitals of
the empire. The minds of men were gradually reduced to the same
level, the fire of genius was extinguished, and even the military
spirit evaporated. The natives of Europe were brave and robust.
Spain, Gaul, Britain, and Illyricum supplied the legions with
excellent soldiers, and constituted the real strength of the
monarchy. Their personal valor remained, but they no longer
possessed that public courage which is nourished by the love of
independence, the sense of national honor, the presence of danger,
and the habit of command. They received laws and governors from
the will of their sovereign, and trusted for their defence to
mercenary army. The posterity of their boldest leaders was
contented with the rank of citizens and subjects. The most
aspiring spirits resorted to the court or standard of the
emperors; and the deserted provinces, deprived of political
strength or union, insensibly sunk into the languid indifference
of private life.
The love of letters, almost inseparable from peace and refinement,
was fashionable among the subjects of Hadrian and the Antonines,
who were themselves men of learning and curiosity. It was
diffused over the whole extent of their empire; the most northern
tribes of Britons had acquired a taste for rhetoric; Homer as well
as Virgil were transcribed and studied on the banks of the Rhine
and Danube; and the most liberal rewards sought out the faintest
glimmerings of literary merit. ^110 The sciences of physic and
astronomy were successfully cultivated by the Greeks; the
observations of Ptolemy and the writings of Galen are studied by

those who have improved their discoveries and corrected their
errors; but if we except the inimitable Lucian, this age of
indolence passed away without having produced a single writer of
original genius, or who excelled in the arts of elegant
composition. ^! The authority of Plato and Aristotle, of Zeno and
Epicurus, still reigned in the schools; and their systems,
transmitted with blind deference from one generation of disciples
to another, precluded every generous attempt to exercise the
powers, or enlarge the limits, of the human mind. The beauties of
the poets and orators, instead of kindling a fire like their own,
inspired only cold and servile mitations: or if any ventured to
deviate from those models, they deviated at the same time from
good sense and propriety. On the revival of letters, the youthful
vigor of the imagination, after a long repose, national emulation,
a new religion, new languages, and a new world, called forth the
genius of Europe. But the provincials of Rome, trained by
uniform artificial foreign education, were engaged in a very
unequal competition with those bold ancients, who, by expressing
their genuine feelings in their native tongue, had already
occupied every place of honor. The name of Poet was almost
forgotten; that of Orator was usurped by the sophists. A cloud of
critics, of compilers, of commentators, darkened the face of
learning, and the decline of genius was soon followed by the
corruption of taste.

[Footnote 110: Herodes Atticus gave the sophist Polemo above eight
thousand pounds for three declamations. See Philostrat. l. i. p.

538. The Antonines founded a school at Athens, in which
professors of grammar, rhetoric, politics, and the four great
sects of philosophy were maintained at the public expense for the
instruction of youth. The salary of a philosopher was ten thousand
drachmae, between three and four hundred pounds a year. Similar
establishments were formed in the other great cities of the
empire. See Lucian in Eunuch. tom. ii. p. 352, edit. Reitz.
Philostrat. l. ii. p. 566. Hist. August. p. 21. Dion Cassius, l.
lxxi. p. 1195. Juvenal himself, in a morose satire, which in
every line betrays his own disappointment and envy, is obliged,
however, to say,
" - O Juvenes, circumspicit et stimulat vos. Materiamque sibi
Ducis indulgentia quaerit." - Satir. vii. 20. Note: Vespasian
first gave a salary to professors: he assigned to each professor
of rhetoric, Greek and Roman, centena sestertia. (Sueton. in
Vesp. 18. Hadrian and the Antonines, though still liberal, were
less profuse. - G. from W. Suetonius wrote annua centena L. 807,
5, 10. - M.] [Footnote !: This judgment is rather severe: besides
the physicians, astronomers, and grammarians, among whom there
were some very distinguished men, there were still, under Hadrian,
Suetonius, Florus, Plutarch; under the Antonines, Arrian,
Pausanias, Appian, Marcus Aurelius himself, Sextus Empiricus, &c.
Jurisprudence gained much by the labors of Salvius Julianus,
Julius Celsus, Sex. Pomponius, Caius, and others. - G. from W.

Yet where, among these, is the writer of original genius, unless,
perhaps Plutarch? or even of a style really elegant? - M.

The sublime Longinus, who, in somewhat a later period, and in the
court of a Syrian queen, preserved the spirit of ancient Athens,
observes and laments this degeneracy of his contemporaries, which
debased their sentiments, enervated their courage, and depressed
their talents. "In the same manner," says he, "as some children
always remain pygmies, whose infant limbs have been too closely
confined, thus our tender minds, fettered by the prejudices and
habits of a just servitude, are unable to expand themselves, or to
attain that well-proportioned greatness which we admire in the
ancients; who, living under a popular government, wrote with the
same freedom as they acted." ^111 This diminutive stature of
mankind, if we pursue the metaphor, was daily sinking below the
old standard, and the Roman world was indeed peopled by a race of
pygmies; when the fierce giants of the north broke in, and mended
the puny breed. They restored a manly spirit of freedom; and
after the revolution of ten centuries, freedom became the happy
parent of taste and science.

[Footnote 111: Longin. de Sublim. c. 44, p. 229, edit. Toll. Here,
too, we may say of Longinus, "his own example strengthens all his
laws." Instead of proposing his sentiments with a manly boldness,
he insinuates them with the most guarded caution; puts them into
the mouth of a friend, and as far as we can collect from
corrupted text, makes a show of refuting them himself.

Chapter III: The Constitution In The Age Of The Antonines.

Part I.

Of The Constitution Of The Roman Empire, In The Age Of The

The obvious definition of a monarchy seems to be that of a state,
in which a single person, by whatsoever name he may be
distinguished, is intrusted with the execution of the laws, the
management of the revenue, and the command of the army. But,
unless public liberty is protected by intrepid and vigilant
guardians, the authority of so formidable a magistrate will soon
degenerate into despotism. The influence of the clergy, in an age
of superstition, might be usefully employed to assert the rights
of mankind; but so intimate is the connection between the throne
and the altar, that the banner of the church has very seldom been
seen on the side of the people. ^* A martial nobility and stubborn
commons, possessed of arms, tenacious of property, and collected
into constitutional assemblies, form the only balance capable of
preserving a free constitution against enterprises of an aspiring

[Footnote *: Often enough in the ages of superstition, but not in
the interest of the people or the state, but in that of the church
to which all others were subordinate. Yet the power of the pope
has often been of great service in repressing the excesses of
sovereigns, and in softening manners. -W. The history of the
Italian republics proves the error of Gibbon, and the justice of
his German translator's comment. - M.

Every barrier of the Roman constitution had been levelled by the
vast ambition of the dictator; every fence had been extirpated by
the cruel hand of the triumvir. After the victory of Actium, the
fate of the Roman world depended on the will of Octavianus,
surnamed Caesar, by his uncle's adoption, and afterwards Augustus,
by the flattery of the senate. The conqueror was at the head of
forty-four veteran legions, ^1 conscious of their own strength,
and of the weakness of the constitution, habituated, during twenty
years' civil war, to every act of blood and violence, and
passionately devoted to the house of Caesar, from whence alone
they had received, and expected the most lavish rewards. The
provinces, long oppressed by the ministers of the republic, sighed
for the government of a single person, who would be the master,
not the accomplice, of those petty tyrants. The people of Rome,
viewing, with a secret pleasure, the humiliation of the
aristocracy, demanded only bread and public shows; and were
supplied with both by the liberal hand of Augustus. The rich and
polite Italians, who had almost universally embraced the
philosophy of Epicurus, enjoyed the present blessings of ease and
tranquillity, and suffered not the pleasing dream to be
interrupted by the memory of their old tumultuous freedom. With
its power, the senate had lost its dignity; many of the most noble
families were extinct. The republicans of spirit and ability had
perished in the field of battle, or in the proscription . The
door of the assembly had been designedly left open, for a mixed
multitude of more than a thousand persons, who reflected disgrace
upon their rank, instead of deriving honor from it. ^

[Footnote 1: Orosius, vi. 18.

Note: Dion says twenty-five, (or three,) (lv. 23.) The united
triumvirs had but forty-three. (Appian. Bell. Civ. iv. 3.) The
testimony of Orosius is of little value when more certain may be
had. - W. But all the legions, doubtless, submitted to Augustus
after the battle of Actium. - M.] [Footnote 2: Julius Caesar
introduced soldiers, strangers, and half- barbarians into the
senate (Sueton. in Caesar. c. 77, 80.) The abuse became still more
scandalous after his death.

The reformation of the senate was one of the first steps in which
Augustus laid aside the tyrant, and professed himself the father
of his country. He was elected censor; and, in concert with his
faithful Agrippa, he examined the list of the senators, expelled
few members, ^* whose vices or whose obstinacy required a public

example, persuaded near two hundred to prevent the shame of an
expulsion by a voluntary retreat, raised the qualification of
senator to about ten thousand pounds, created a sufficient number
of patrician families, and accepted for himself the honorable
title of Prince of the Senate, ^! which had always been bestowed,
by the censors, on the citizen the most eminent for his honors and
services. ^3 But whilst he thus restored the dignity, he destroyed
the independence, of the senate. The principles of a free
constitution are irrecoverably lost, when the legislative power is
nominated by the executive.

[Footnote *: Of these Dion and Suetonius knew nothing. - W. Dion
says the contrary. - M.

[Footnote !: But Augustus, then Octavius, was censor, and in
virtue of that office, even according to the constitution of the
free republic, could reform the senate, expel unworthy members,
name the Princeps Senatus, &c. That was called, as is well known,
Senatum legere. It was customary, during the free republic, for
the censor to be named Princeps Senatus, (S. Liv. l. xxvii. c. 11,

l. xl. c. 51;) and Dion expressly says, that this was done
according to ancient usage. He was empowered by a decree of the
senate to admit a number of families among the patricians.
Finally, the senate was not the legislative power. - W]
[Footnote 3: Dion Cassius, l. liii. p. 693. Suetonius in August.

c. 35.] Before an assembly thus modelled and prepared, Augustus
pronounced a studied oration, which displayed his patriotism, and
disguised his ambition. "He lamented, yet excused, his past
conduct. Filial piety had required at his hands the revenge of
his father's murder; the humanity of his own nature had sometimes
given way to the stern laws of necessity, and to a forced
connection with two unworthy colleagues: as long as Antony lived,
the republic forbade him to abandon her to a degenerate Roman, and
a barbarian queen. He was now at liberty to satisfy his duty and
his inclination. He solemnly restored the senate and people to
all their ancient rights; and wished only to mingle with the crowd
of his fellow-citizens, and to share the blessings which he had
obtained for his country." ^
[Footnote 4: Dion (l. liii. p. 698) gives us a prolix and bombast
speech on this great occasion. I have borrowed from Suetonius and
Tacitus the general language of Augustus.

It would require the pen of Tacitus (if Tacitus had assisted at
this assembly) to describe the various emotions of the senate,
those that were suppressed, and those that were affected. It was
dangerous to trust the sincerity of Augustus; to seem to distrust
it was still more dangerous. The respective advantages of
monarchy and a republic have often divided speculative inquirers;
the present greatness of the Roman state, the corruption of
manners, and the license of the soldiers, supplied new arguments

to the advocates of monarchy; and these general views of
government were again warped by the hopes and fears of each
individual. Amidst this confusion of sentiments, the answer of
the senate was unanimous and decisive. They refused to accept the
resignation of Augustus; they conjured him not to desert the
republic, which he had saved. After a decent resistance, the
crafty tyrant submitted to the orders of the senate; and consented
to receive the government of the provinces, and the general
command of the Roman armies, under the well-known names of
Proconsul and Imperator. ^5 But he would receive them only for ten
years. Even before the expiration of that period, he hope that
the wounds of civil discord would be completely healed, and that
the republic, restored to its pristine health and vigor, would no
longer require the dangerous interposition of so extraordinary
magistrate. The memory of this comedy, repeated several times
during the life of Augustus, was preserved to the last ages of the
empire, by the peculiar pomp with which the perpetual monarchs of
Rome always solemnized the tenth years of their reign. ^

[Footnote 5: Imperator (from which we have derived Emperor)
signified under her republic no more than general, and was
emphatically bestowed by the soldiers, when on the field of battle
they proclaimed their victorious leader worthy of that title.
When the Roman emperors assumed it in that sense, they placed it
after their name, and marked how often they had taken it.
[Footnote 6: Dion. l. liii. p. 703, &c.

Without any violation of the principles of the constitution, the
general of the Roman armies might receive and exercise an
authority almost despotic over the soldiers, the enemies, and the
subjects of the republic. With regard to the soldiers, the
jealousy of freedom had, even from the earliest ages of Rome,
given way to the hopes of conquest, and a just sense of military
discipline. The dictator, or consul, had a right to command the
service of the Roman youth; and to punish an obstinate or cowardly
disobedience by the most severe and ignominious penalties, by
striking the offender out of the list of citizens, by confiscating
his property, and by selling his person into slavery. ^7 The most
sacred rights of freedom, confirmed by the Porcian and Sempronian
laws, were suspended by the military engagement. In his camp the
general exercise an absolute power of life and death; his
jurisdiction was not confined by any forms of trial, or rules of
proceeding, and the execution of the sentence was immediate and
without appeal. ^8 The choice of the enemies of Rome was regularly
decided by the legislative authority. The most important
resolutions of peace and war were seriously debated in the senate,
and solemnly ratified by the people. But when the arms of the
legions were carried to a great distance from Italy, the general
assumed the liberty of directing them against whatever people, and
in whatever manner, they judged most advantageous for the public
service. It was from the success, not from the justice, of their
enterprises, that they expected the honors of a triumph. In the

use of victory, especially after they were no longer controlled by
the commissioners of the senate, they exercised the most unbounded
despotism. When Pompey commanded in the East, he rewarded his
soldiers and allies, dethroned princes, divided kingdoms, founded
colonies, and distributed the treasures of Mithridates. On his
return to Rome, he obtained, by a single act of the senate and
people, the universal ratification of all his proceedings. ^9 Such
was the power over the soldiers, and over the enemies of Rome,
which was either granted to, or assumed by, the generals of the
republic. They were, at the same time, the governors, or rather
monarchs, of the conquered provinces, united the civil with the
military character, administered justice as well as the finances,
and exercised both the executive and legislative power of the
state. [Footnote 7: Livy Epitom. l. xiv. [c. 27.] Valer. Maxim.

vi. 3.] [Footnote 8: See, in the viiith book of Livy, the conduct
of Manlius Torquatus and Papirius Cursor. They violated the laws
of nature and humanity, but they asserted those of military
discipline; and the people, who abhorred the action, was obliged
to respect the principle.] [Footnote 9: By the lavish but
unconstrained suffrages of the people, Pompey had obtained
military command scarcely inferior to that of Augustus. Among the
extraordinary acts of power executed by the former we may remark
the foundation of twenty-nine cities, and the distribution of
three or four millions sterling to his troops. The ratification
of his acts met with some opposition and delays in the senate See
Plutarch, Appian, Dion Cassius, and the first book of the epistles
to Atticus.
From what has already been observed in the first chapter of this
work, some notion may be formed of the armies and provinces thus
intrusted to the ruling hand of Augustus. But as it was
impossible that he could personally command the regions of so many
distant frontiers, he was indulged by the senate, as Pompey had
already been, in the permission of devolving the execution of his
great office on a sufficient number of lieutenants. In rank and
authority these officers seemed not inferior to the ancient
proconsuls; but their station was dependent and precarious. They
received and held their commissions at the will of a superior, to
whose auspicious influence the merit of their action was legally
attributed. ^10 They were the representatives of the emperor. The
emperor alone was the general of the republic, and his
jurisdiction, civil as well as military, extended over all the
conquests of Rome. It was some satisfaction, however, to the
senate, that he always delegated his power to the members of their
body. The imperial lieutenants were of consular or praetorian
dignity; the legions were commanded by senators, and the
praefecture of Egypt was the only important trust committed to
Roman knight.

[Footnote 10: Under the commonwealth, a triumph could only be
claimed by the general, who was authorized to take the Auspices in
the name of the people. By an exact consequence, drawn from this

principle of policy and religion, the triumph was reserved to the
emperor; and his most successful lieutenants were satisfied with
some marks of distinction, which, under the name of triumphal
honors, were invented in their favor.

Within six days after Augustus had been compelled to accept so
very liberal a grant, he resolved to gratify the pride of the
senate by an easy sacrifice. He represented to them, that they
had enlarged his powers, even beyond that degree which might be
required by the melancholy condition of the times. They had not
permitted him to refuse the laborious command of the armies and
the frontiers; but he must insist on being allowed to restore the
more peaceful and secure provinces to the mild administration of
the civil magistrate. In the division of the provinces, Augustus
provided for his own power and for the dignity of the republic.
The proconsuls of the senate, particularly those of Asia, Greece,
and Africa, enjoyed a more honorable character than the
lieutenants of the emperor, who commanded in Gaul or Syria. The
former were attended by lictors, the latter by soldiers. ^* A law
was passed, that wherever the emperor was present, his
extraordinary commission should supersede the ordinary
jurisdiction of the governor; a custom was introduced, that the
new conquests belonged to the imperial portion; and it was soon
discovered that the authority of the Prtnce, the favorite epithet
of Augustus, was the same in every part of the empire. [Footnote
*: This distinction is without foundation. The lieutenants of the
emperor, who were called Propraetors, whether they had been
praetors or consuls, were attended by six lictors; those who had
the right of the sword, (of life and death over the soldiers.
M.) bore the military habit (paludamentum) and the sword. The
provincial governors commissioned by the senate, who, whether they
had been consuls or not, were called Pronconsuls, had twelve
lictors when they had been consuls, and six only when they had but
been praetors. The provinces of Africa and Asia were only given
to ex- consuls. See, on the Organization of the Provinces, Dion,

liii. 12, 16 Strabo, xvii 840.- W]
In return for this imaginary concession, Augustus obtained an
important privilege, which rendered him master of Rome and Italy.
By a dangerous exception to the ancient maxims, he was authorized
to preserve his military command, supported by a numerous body of
guards, even in time of peace, and in the heart of the capital.
His command, indeed, was confined to those citizens who were
engaged in the service by the military oath; but such was the
propensity of the Romans to servitude, that the oath was
voluntarily taken by the magistrates, the senators, and the
equestrian order, till the homage of flattery was insensibly
converted into an annual and solemn protestation of fidelity.

Although Augustus considered a military force as the firmest
foundation, he wisely rejected it, as a very odious instrument of
government. It was more agreeable to his temper, as well as to

his policy, to reign under the venerable names of ancient
magistracy, and artfully to collect, in his own person, all the
scattered rays of civil jurisdiction. With this view, he
permitted the senate to confer upon him, for his life, the powers
of the consular ^11 and tribunitian offices, ^12 which were, in
the same manner, continued to all his successors. The consuls had
succeeded to the kings of Rome, and represented the dignity of the
state. They superintended the ceremonies of religion, levied and
commanded the legions, gave audience to foreign ambassadors, and
presided in the assemblies both of the senate and people. The
general control of the finances was intrusted to their care; and
though they seldom had leisure to administer justice in person,
they were considered as the supreme guardians of law, equity, and
the public peace. Such was their ordinary jurisdiction; but
whenever the senate empowered the first magistrate to consult the
safety of the commonwealth, he was raised by that decree above the
laws, and exercised, in the defence of liberty, a temporary
despotism. ^13 The character of the tribunes was, in every
respect, different from that of the consuls. The appearance of
the former was modest and humble; but their persons were sacred
and inviolable. Their force was suited rather for opposition than
for action. They were instituted to defend the oppressed, to
pardon offences, to arraign the enemies of the people, and, when
they judged it necessary, to stop, by a single word, the whole
machine of government. As long as the republic subsisted, the
dangerous influence, which either the consul or the tribune might
derive from their respective jurisdiction, was diminished by
several important restrictions. Their authority expired with the
year in which they were elected; the former office was divided
between two, the latter among ten persons; and, as both in their
private and public interest they were averse to each other, their
mutual conflicts contributed, for the most part, to strengthen
rather than to destroy the balance of the constitution. ^* But
when the consular and tribunitian powers were united, when they
were vested for life in a single person, when the general of the
army was, at the same time, the minister of the senate and the
representative of the Roman people, it was impossible to resist
the exercise, nor was it easy to define the limits, of his
imperial prerogative.

[Footnote 11: Cicero (de Legibus, iii. 3) gives the consular
office the name of egia potestas; and Polybius (l. vi. c. 3)
observes three powers in the Roman constitution. The monarchical
was represented and exercised by the consuls.

[Footnote 12: As the tribunitian power (distinct from the annual
office) was first invented by the dictator Caesar, (Dion, l. xliv.

p. 384,) we may easily conceive, that it was given as a reward for
having so nobly asserted, by arms, the sacred rights of the
tribunes and people. See his own Commentaries, de Bell. Civil. l.

[Footnote 13: Augustus exercised nine annual consulships without
interruption. He then most artfully refused the magistracy, as
well as the dictatorship, absented himself from Rome, and waited
till the fatal effects of tumult and faction forced the senate to
invest him with a perpetual consulship. Augustus, as well as his
successors, affected, however, to conceal so invidious a title.

[Footnote *: The note of M. Guizot on the tribunitian power
applies to the French translation rather than to the original. The
former has, maintenir la balance toujours egale, which implies
much more than Gibbon's general expression. The note belongs
rather to the history of the Republic than that of the Empire.

To these accumulated honors, the policy of Augustus soon added the
splendid as well as important dignities of supreme pontiff, and of
censor. By the former he acquired the management of the religion,
and by the latter a legal inspection over the manners and
fortunes, of the Roman people. If so many distinct and
independent powers did not exactly unite with each other, the
complaisance of the senate was prepared to supply every deficiency
by the most ample and extraordinary concessions. The emperors, as
the first ministers of the republic, were exempted from the
obligation and penalty of many inconvenient laws: they were
authorized to convoke the senate, to make several motions in the
same day, to recommend candidates for the honors of the state, to
enlarge the bounds of the city, to employ the revenue at their
discretion, to declare peace and war, to ratify treaties; and by
most comprehensive clause, they were empowered to execute
whatsoever they should judge advantageous to the empire, and
agreeable to the majesty of things private or public, human of
divine. ^14

[Footnote 14: See a fragment of a Decree of the Senate, conferring
on the emperor Vespasian all the powers granted to his
predecessors, Augustus, Tiberius, and Claudius. This curious and
important monument is published in Gruter's Inscriptions, No.

Note: It is also in the editions of Tacitus by Ryck, (Annal. p.
420, 421,) and Ernesti, (Excurs. ad lib. iv. 6;) but this fragment
contains so many inconsistencies, both in matter and form, that
its authenticity may be doubted - W.

When all the various powers of executive government were committed
to the Imperial magistrate, the ordinary magistrates of the
commonwealth languished in obscurity, without vigor, and almost
without business. The names and forms of the ancient
administration were preserved by Augustus with the most anxious
care. The usual number of consuls, praetors, and tribunes, ^15
were annually invested with their respective ensigns of office,
and continued to discharge some of their least important

functions. Those honors still attracted the vain ambition of the
Romans; and the emperors themselves, though invested for life with
the powers of the consul ship, frequently aspired to the title of
that annual dignity, which they condescended to share with the
most illustrious of their fellow-citizens. ^16 In the election of
these magistrates, the people, during the reign of Augustus, were
permitted to expose all the inconveniences of a wild democracy.
That artful prince, instead of discovering the least symptom of
impatience, humbly solicited their suffrages for himself or his
friends, and scrupulously practised all the duties of an ordinary
candidate. ^17 But we may venture to ascribe to his councils the
first measure of the succeeding reign, by which the elections were
transferred to the senate. ^18 The assemblies of the people were
forever abolished, and the emperors were delivered from
dangerous multitude, who, without restoring liberty, might have
disturbed, and perhaps endangered, the established government.

[Footnote 15: Two consuls were created on the Calends of January;
but in the course of the year others were substituted in their
places, till the annual number seems to have amounted to no less
than twelve. The praetors were usually sixteen or eighteen,
(Lipsius in Excurs. D. ad Tacit. Annal. l. i.) I have not
mentioned the Aediles or Quaestors Officers of the police or
revenue easily adapt themselves to any form of government. In the
time of Nero, the tribunes legally possessed the right of
intercession, though it might be dangerous to exercise it (Tacit.
Annal. xvi. 26.) In the time of Trajan, it was doubtful whether
the tribuneship was an office or a name, (Plin. Epist. i. 23.)

[Footnote 16: The tyrants themselves were ambitious of the
consulship. The virtuous princes were moderate in the pursuit,
and exact in the discharge of it. Trajan revived the ancient
oath, and swore before the consul's tribunal that he would observe
the laws, (Plin. Panegyric c. 64.)

[Footnote 17: Quoties Magistratuum Comitiis interesset. Tribus
cum candidatis suis circunbat: supplicabatque more solemni.
Ferebat et ipse suffragium in tribubus, ut unus e populo.
Suetonius in August c. 56.] [Footnote 18: Tum primum Comitia
campo ad patres translata sunt. Tacit. Annal. i. 15. The word
primum seems to allude to some faint and unsuccessful efforts
which were made towards restoring them to the people. Note: The
emperor Caligula made the attempt: he rest red the Comitia to the
people, but, in a short time, took them away again. Suet. in
Caio. c. 16. Dion. lix. 9, 20. Nevertheless, at the time of Dion,
they preserved still the form of the Comitia. Dion. lviii. 20.

By declaring themselves the protectors of the people, Marius and
Caesar had subverted the constitution of their country. But as
soon as the senate had been humbled and disarmed, such an
assembly, consisting of five or six hundred persons, was found

much more tractable and useful instrument of dominion. It was on
the dignity of the senate that Augustus and his successors founded
their new empire; and they affected, on every occasion, to adopt
the language and principles of Patricians. In the administration
of their own powers, they frequently consulted the great national
council, and seemed to refer to its decision the most important
concerns of peace and war. Rome, Italy, and the internal
provinces, were subject to the immediate jurisdiction of the
senate. With regard to civil objects, it was the supreme court of
appeal; with regard to criminal matters, a tribunal, constituted
for the trial of all offences that were committed by men in any
public station, or that affected the peace and majesty of the
Roman people. The exercise of the judicial power became the most
frequent and serious occupation of the senate; and the important
causes that were pleaded before them afforded a last refuge to the
spirit of ancient eloquence. As a council of state, and as
court of justice, the senate possessed very considerable
prerogatives; but in its legislative capacity, in which it was
supposed virtually to represent the people, the rights of
sovereignty were acknowledged to reside in that assembly. Every
power was derived from their authority, every law was ratified by
their sanction. Their regular meetings were held on three stated
days in every month, the Calends, the Nones, and the Ides. The
debates were conducted with decent freedom; and the emperors
themselves, who gloried in the name of senators, sat, voted, and
divided with their equals. To resume, in a few words, the system
of the Imperial government; as it was instituted by Augustus, and
maintained by those princes who understood their own interest and
that of the people, it may be defined an absolute monarchy
disguised by the forms of a commonwealth. The masters of the
Roman world surrounded their throne with darkness, concealed their
irresistible strength, and humbly professed themselves the
accountable ministers of the senate, whose supreme decrees they
dictated and obeyed. ^19 [Footnote 19: Dion Cassius (l. liii. p.
703 - 714) has given a very loose and partial sketch of the
Imperial system. To illustrate and often to correct him, I have
meditated Tacitus, examined Suetonius, and consulted the following
moderns: the Abbe de la Bleterie, in the Memoires de l'Academie
des Inscriptions, tom. xix. xxi. xxiv. xxv. xxvii. Beaufort
Republique Romaine, tom. i. p. 255 - 275. The Dissertations of
Noodt aad Gronovius de lege Regia, printed at Leyden, in the year
1731 Gravina de Imperio Romano, p. 479 - 544 of his Opuscula.
Maffei, Verona Illustrata, p. i. p. 245, &c.] The face of the
court corresponded with the forms of the administration. The
emperors, if we except those tyrants whose capricious folly
violated every law of nature and decency, disdained that pomp and
ceremony which might offend their countrymen, but could add
nothing to their real power. In all the offices of life, they
affected to confound themselves with their subjects, and
maintained with them an equal intercourse of visits and
entertainments. Their habit, their palace, their table, were
suited only to the rank of an opulent senator. Their family,

however numerous or splendid, was composed entirely of their
domestic slaves and freedmen. ^20 Augustus or Trajan would have
blushed at employing the meanest of the Romans in those menial
offices, which, in the household and bedchamber of a limited
monarch, are so eagerly solicited by the proudest nobles of
Britain. [Footnote 20: A weak prince will always be governed by
his domestics. The power of slaves aggravated the shame of the
Romans; and the senate paid court to a Pallas or a Narcissus.
There is a chance that a modern favorite may be a gentleman.

The deification of the emperors ^21 is the only instance in which
they departed from their accustomed prudence and modesty. The
Asiatic Greeks were the first inventors, the successors of
Alexander the first objects, of this servile and impious mode of
adulation. ^* It was easily transferred from the kings to the
governors of Asia; and the Roman magistrates very frequently were
adored as provincial deities, with the pomp of altars and temples,
of festivals and sacrifices. ^22 It was natural that the emperors
should not refuse what the proconsuls had accepted; and the divine
honors which both the one and the other received from the
provinces, attested rather the despotism than the servitude of
Rome. But the conquerors soon imitated the vanquished nations in
the arts of flattery; and the imperious spirit of the first Caesar
too easily consented to assume, during his lifetime, a place among
the tutelar deities of Rome. The milder temper of his successor
declined so dangerous an ambition, which was never afterwards
revived, except by the madness of Caligula and Domitian. Augustus
permitted indeed some of the provincial cities to erect temples to
his honor, on condition that they should associate the worship of
Rome with that of the sovereign; he tolerated private
superstition, of which he might be the object; ^23 but he
contented himself with being revered by the senate and the people
in his human character, and wisely left to his successor the care
of his public deification. A regular custom was introduced, that
on the decease of every emperor who had neither lived nor died
like a tyrant, the senate by a solemn decree should place him in
the number of the gods: and the ceremonies of his apotheosis were
blended with those of his funeral. ^! This legal, and, as it
should seem, injudicious profanation, so abhorrent to our stricter
principles, was received with a very faint murmur, ^24 by the easy
nature of Polytheism; but it was received as an institution, not
of religion, but of policy. We should disgrace the virtues of the
Antonines by comparing them with the vices of Hercules or Jupiter.
Even the characters of Caesar or Augustus were far superior to
those of the popular deities. But it was the misfortune of the
former to live in an enlightened age, and their actions were too
faithfully recorded to admit of such a mixture of fable and
mystery, as the devotion of the vulgar requires. As soon as their
divinity was established by law, it sunk into oblivion, without
contributing either to their own fame, or to the dignity of
succeeding princes.

[Footnote 21: See a treatise of Vandale de Consecratione
Principium. It would be easier for me to copy, than it has been
to verify, the quotations of that learned Dutchman.

[Footnote *: This is inaccurate. The successors of Alexander were
not the first deified sovereigns; the Egyptians had deified and
worshipped many of their kings; the Olympus of the Greeks was
peopled with divinities who had reigned on earth; finally, Romulus
himself had received the honors of an apotheosis (Tit. Liv. i. 16)
a long time before Alexander and his successors. It is also an
inaccuracy to confound the honors offered in the provinces to the
Roman governors, by temples and altars, with the true apotheosis
of the emperors; it was not a religious worship, for it had
neither priests nor sacrifices. Augustus was severely blamed for
having permitted himself to be worshipped as a god in the
provinces, (Tac. Ann. i. 10: ) he would not have incurred that
blame if he had only done what the governors were accustomed to
do. - G. from W. M. Guizot has been guilty of a still greater
inaccuracy in confounding the deification of the living with the
apotheosis of the dead emperors. The nature of the king-worship
of Egypt is still very obscure; the hero-worship of the Greeks
very different from the adoration of the "praesens numen" in the
reigning sovereign. - M.

[Footnote 22: See a dissertation of the Abbe Mongault in the first
volume of the Academy of Inscriptions.

[Footnote 23: Jurandasque tuum per nomen ponimus aras, says Horace
to the emperor himself, and Horace was well acquainted with the
court of Augustus. Note: The good princes were not those who alone
obtained the honors of an apotheosis: it was conferred on many
tyrants. See an excellent treatise of Schaepflin, de
Consecratione Imperatorum Romanorum, in his Commentationes
historicae et criticae. Bale, 1741, p. 184. - W.

[Footnote !: The curious satire in the works of Seneca, is the
strongest remonstrance of profaned religion. - M.

[Footnote 24: See Cicero in Philippic. i. 6. Julian in
Caesaribus. Inque Deum templis jurabit Roma per umbras, is the
indignant expression of Lucan; but it is a patriotic rather than
devout indignation.

In the consideration of the Imperial government, we have
frequently mentioned the artful founder, under his well-known
title of Augustus, which was not, however, conferred upon him till
the edifice was almost completed. The obscure name of Octavianus
he derived from a mean family, in the little town of Aricia. ^! It
was stained with the blood of the proscription; and he was
desirous, had it been possible, to erase all memory of his former
life. The illustrious surname of Caesar he had assumed, as the
adopted son of the dictator: but he had too much good sense,

either to hope to be confounded, or to wish to be compared with
that extraordinary man. It was proposed in the senate to dignify
their minister with a new appellation; and after a serious
discussion, that of Augustus was chosen, among several others, as
being the most expressive of the character of peace and sanctity,
which he uniformly affected. ^25 Augustus was therefore
personal, Caesar a family distinction. The former should naturally
have expired with the prince on whom it was bestowed; and however
the latter was diffused by adoption and female alliance, Nero was
the last prince who could allege any hereditary claim to the
honors of the Julian line. But, at the time of his death, the
practice of a century had inseparably connected those appellations
with the Imperial dignity, and they have been preserved by a long
succession of emperors, Romans, Greeks, Franks, and Germans, from
the fall of the republic to the present time. A distinction was,
however, soon introduced. The sacred title of Augustus was always
reserved for the monarch, whilst the name of Caesar was more
freely communicated to his relations; and, from the reign of
Hadrian, at least, was appropriated to the second person in the
state, who was considered as the presumptive heir of the empire.

[Footnote !: Octavius was not of an obscure family, but of
considerable one of the equestrian order. His father, C.
Octavius, who possessed great property, had been praetor, governor
of Macedonia, adorned with the title of Imperator, and was on the
point of becoming consul when he died. His mother Attia, was
daughter of M. Attius Balbus, who had also been praetor. M.
Anthony reproached Octavius with having been born in Aricia,
which, nevertheless, was a considerable municipal city: he was
vigorously refuted by Cicero. Philip. iii. c. 6. - W. Gibbon
probably meant that the family had but recently emerged into
notice. - M.

[Footnote 25: Dion. Cassius, l. liii. p. 710, with the curious
Annotations of Reimar.

[Footnote *: The princes who by their birth or their adoption
belonged to the family of the Caesars, took the name of Caesar.
After the death of Nero, this name designated the Imperial dignity
itself, and afterwards the appointed successor. The time at which
it was employed in the latter sense, cannot be fixed with
certainty. Bach (Hist. Jurisprud. Rom. 304) affirms from Tacitus,

H. i. 15, and Suetonius, Galba, 17, that Galba conferred on Piso
Lucinianus the title of Caesar, and from that time the term had
this meaning: but these two historians simply say that he
appointed Piso his successor, and do not mention the word Caesar.
Aurelius Victor (in Traj. 348, ed. Artzen) says that Hadrian first
received this title on his adoption; but as the adoption of
Hadrian is still doubtful, and besides this, as Trajan, on his
death-bed, was not likely to have created a new title for his
successor, it is more probable that Aelius Verus was the first who

was called Caesar when adopted by Hadrian. Spart. in Aelio Vero,
102.- W.

Chapter III: The Constitution In The Age Of The Antonines.

Part II.

The tender respect of Augustus for a free constitution which he
had destroyed, can only be explained by an attentive consideration
of the character of that subtle tyrant. A cool head, an unfeeling
heart, and a cowardly disposition, prompted him at the age of
nineteen to assume the mask of hypocrisy, which he never
afterwards laid aside. With the same hand, and probably with the
same temper, he signed the proscription of Cicero, and the pardon
of Cinna. His virtues, and even his vices, were artificial; and
according to the various dictates of his interest, he was at first
the enemy, and at last the father, of the Roman world. ^26 When he
framed the artful system of the Imperial authority, his moderation
was inspired by his fears. He wished to deceive the people by an
image of civil liberty, and the armies by an image of civil

[Footnote 26: As Octavianus advanced to the banquet of the
Caesars, his color changed like that of the chameleon; pale at
first, then red, afterwards black, he at last assumed the mild
livery of Venus and the Graces, (Caesars, p. 309.) This image,
employed by Julian in his ingenious fiction, is just and elegant;
but when he considers this change of character as real and
ascribes it to the power of philosophy, he does too much honor to
philosophy and to Octavianus.

I. The death of Caesar was ever before his eyes. He had lavished
wealth and honors on his adherents; but the most favored friends
of his uncle were in the number of the conspirators. The fidelity
of the legions might defend his authority against open rebellion;
but their vigilance could not secure his person from the dagger of
a determined republican; and the Romans, who revered the memory of
Brutus, ^27 would applaud the imitation of his virtue. Caesar had
provoked his fate, as much as by the ostentation of his power, as
by his power itself. The consul or the tribune might have reigned
in peace. The title of king had armed the Romans against his
life. Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names;
nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people
would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured
that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom. A feeble senate and
enervated people cheerfully acquiesced in the pleasing illusion,
as long as it was supported by the virtue, or even by the
prudence, of the successors of Augustus. It was a motive of self-
preservation, not a principle of liberty, that animated the
conspirators against Caligula, Nero, and Domitian. They attacked
the person of the tyrant, without aiming their blow at the
authority of the emperor.

[Footnote 27: Two centuries after the establishment of monarchy,
the emperor Marcus Antoninus recommends the character of Brutus as
a perfect model of Roman virtue.

Note: In a very ingenious essay, Gibbon has ventured to call in
question the preeminent virtue of Brutus. Misc Works, iv. 95.
M.] There appears, indeed, one memorable occasion, in which the
senate, after seventy years of patience, made an ineffectual
attempt to re-assume its long-forgotten rights. When the throne
was vacant by the murder of Caligula, the consuls convoked that
assembly in the Capitol, condemned the memory of the Caesars, gave
the watchword liberty to the few cohorts who faintly adhered to
their standard, and during eight-and-forty hours acted as the
independent chiefs of a free commonwealth. But while they
deliberated, the praetorian guards had resolved. The stupid
Claudius, brother of Germanicus, was already in their camp,
invested with the Imperial purple, and prepared to support his
election by arms. The dream of liberty was at an end; and the
senate awoke to all the horrors of inevitable servitude. Deserted
by the people, and threatened by a military force, that feeble
assembly was compelled to ratify the choice of the praetorians,
and to embrace the benefit of an amnesty, which Claudius had the
prudence to offer, and the generosity to observe. ^28

[See The Capitol: When the throne was vacant by the murder of
Caligula, the consuls convoked that assembly in the Capitol.

[Footnote 28: It is much to be regretted that we have lost the
part of Tacitus which treated of that transaction. We are forced
to content ourselves with the popular rumors of Josephus, and the
imperfect hints of Dion and Suetonius.

II. The insolence of the armies inspired Augustus with fears of
still more alarming nature. The despair of the citizens could
only attempt, what the power of the soldiers was, at any time,
able to execute. How precarious was his own authority over men
whom he had taught to violate every social duty! He had heard
their seditious clamors; he dreaded their calmer moments of
reflection. One revolution had been purchased by immense rewards;
but a second revolution might double those rewards. The troops
professed the fondest attachment to the house of Caesar; but the
attachments of the multitude are capricious and inconstant.
Augustus summoned to his aid whatever remained in those fierce
minds of Roman prejudices; enforced the rigor of discipline by the
sanction of law; and, interposing the majesty of the senate
between the emperor and the army, boldly claimed their allegiance,
as the first magistrate of the republic.
During a long period of two hundred and twenty years from the
establishment of this artful system to the death of Commodus, the
dangers inherent to a military government were, in a great

measure, suspended. The soldiers were seldom roused to that fatal
sense of their own strength, and of the weakness of the civil
authority, which was, before and afterwards, productive of such
dreadful calamities. Caligula and Domitian were assassinated in
their palace by their own domestics: ^* the convulsions which
agitated Rome on the death of the former, were confined to the
walls of the city. But Nero involved the whole empire in his
ruin. In the space of eighteen months, four princes perished by
the sword; and the Roman world was shaken by the fury of the
contending armies. Excepting only this short, though violent
eruption of military license, the two centuries from Augustus ^29
to Commodus passed away unstained with civil blood, and
undisturbed by revolutions. The emperor was elected by the
authority of the senate, and the consent of the soldiers. ^30 The
legions respected their oath of fidelity; and it requires a minute
inspection of the Roman annals to discover three inconsiderable
rebellions, which were all suppressed in a few months, and without
even the hazard of a battle. ^31

[Footnote *: Caligula perished by a conspiracy formed by the
officers of the praetorian troops, and Domitian would not,
perhaps, have been assassinated without the participation of the
two chiefs of that guard in his death. - W.] [Footnote 29:
Augustus restored the ancient severity of discipline. After the
civil wars, he dropped the endearing name of Fellow-Soldiers, and
called them only Soldiers, (Sueton. in August. c. 25.) See the use
Tiberius made of the Senate in the mutiny of the Pannonian
legions, (Tacit. Annal. i.)] [Footnote 30: These words seem to
have been the constitutional language. See Tacit. Annal. xiii. 4.

Note: This panegyric on the soldiery is rather too liberal.
Claudius was obliged to purchase their consent to his coronation:
the presents which he made, and those which the praetorians
received on other occasions, considerably embarrassed the
finances. Moreover, this formidable guard favored, in general,
the cruelties of the tyrants. The distant revolts were more
frequent than Gibbon thinks: already, under Tiberius, the legions
of Germany would have seditiously constrained Germanicus to assume
the Imperial purple. On the revolt of Claudius Civilis, under
Vespasian, the legions of Gaul murdered their general, and offered
their assistance to the Gauls who were in insurrection. Julius
Sabinus made himself be proclaimed emperor, &c. The wars, the
merit, and the severe discipline of Trajan, Hadrian, and the two
Antonines, established, for some time, a greater degree of
subordination. - W] [Footnote 31: The first was Camillus
Scribonianus, who took up arms in Dalmatia against Claudius, and
was deserted by his own troops in five days, the second, L.
Antonius, in Germany, who rebelled against Domitian; and the
third, Avidius Cassius, in the reign of M. Antoninus. The two
last reigned but a few months, and were cut off by their own
adherents. We may observe, that both Camillus and Cassius colored

their ambition with the design of restoring the republic; a task,
said Cassius peculiarly reserved for his name and family.

In elective monarchies, the vacancy of the throne is a moment big
with danger and mischief. The Roman emperors, desirous to spare
the legions that interval of suspense, and the temptation of an
irregular choice, invested their designed successor with so large
a share of present power, as should enable him, after their
decease, to assume the remainder, without suffering the empire to
perceive the change of masters. Thus Augustus, after all his
fairer prospects had been snatched from him by untimely deaths,
rested his last hopes on Tiberius, obtained for his adopted son
the censorial and tribunitian powers, and dictated a law, by which
the future prince was invested with an authority equal to his own,
over the provinces and the armies. ^32 Thus Vespasian subdued the
generous mind of his eldest son. Titus was adored by the eastern
legions, which, under his command, had recently achieved the
conquest of Judaea. His power was dreaded, and, as his virtues
were clouded by the intemperance of youth, his designs were
suspected. Instead of listening to such unworthy suspicions, the
prudent monarch associated Titus to the full powers of the
Imperial dignity; and the grateful son ever approved himself the
humble and faithful minister of so indulgent a father. ^33

[Footnote 32: Velleius Paterculus, l. ii. c. 121. Sueton. in
Tiber. c. 26.] [Footnote 33: Sueton. in Tit. c. 6. Plin. in
Praefat. Hist. Natur.] The good sense of Vespasian engaged him
indeed to embrace every measure that might confirm his recent and
precarious elevation. The military oath, and the fidelity of the
troops, had been consecrated, by the habits of a hundred years, to
the name and family of the Caesars; and although that family had
been continued only by the fictitious rite of adoption, the Romans
still revered, in the person of Nero, the grandson of Germanicus,
and the lineal successor of Augustus. It was not without
reluctance and remorse, that the praetorian guards had been
persuaded to abandon the cause of the tyrant. ^34 The rapid
downfall of Galba, Otho, and Vitellus, taught the armies to
consider the emperors as the creatures of their will, and the
instruments of their license. The birth of Vespasian was mean:
his grandfather had been a private soldier, his father a petty
officer of the revenue; ^35 his own merit had raised him, in an
advanced age, to the empire; but his merit was rather useful than
shining, and his virtues were disgraced by a strict and even
sordid parsimony. Such a prince consulted his true interest by
the association of a son, whose more splendid and amiable
character might turn the public attention from the obscure origin,
to the future glories, of the Flavian house. Under the mild
administration of Titus, the Roman world enjoyed a transient
felicity, and his beloved memory served to protect, above fifteen
years, the vices of his brother Domitian. [Footnote 34: This idea
is frequently and strongly inculcated by Tacitus. See Hist. i. 5,
16, ii. 76.

[Footnote 35: The emperor Vespasian, with his usual good sense,
laughed at the genealogists, who deduced his family from Flavius,
the founder of Reate, (his native country,) and one of the
companions of Hercules Suet in Vespasian, c. 12.

Nerva had scarcely accepted the purple from the assassins of
Domitian, before he discovered that his feeble age was unable to
stem the torrent of public disorders, which had multiplied under
the long tyranny of his predecessor. His mild disposition was
respected by the good; but the degenerate Romans required a more
vigorous character, whose justice should strike terror into the
guilty. Though he had several relations, he fixed his choice on
stranger. He adopted Trajan, then about forty years of age, and
who commanded a powerful army in the Lower Germany; and
immediately, by a decree of the senate, declared him his colleague
and successor in the empire. ^36 It is sincerely to be lamented,
that whilst we are fatigued with the disgustful relation of Nero's
crimes and follies, we are reduced to collect the actions of
Trajan from the glimmerings of an abridgment, or the doubtful
light of a panegyric. There remains, however, one panegyric far
removed beyond the suspicion of flattery. Above two hundred and
fifty years after the death of Trajan, the senate, in pouring out
the customary acclamations on the accession of a new emperor,
wished that he might surpass the felicity of Augustus, and the
virtue of Trajan. ^37

[Footnote 36: Dion, l. lxviii. p. 1121. Plin. Secund. in
Panegyric.] [Footnote 37: Felicior Augusto, Melior Trajano.
Eutrop. viii. 5.] We may readily believe, that the father of his
country hesitated whether he ought to intrust the various and
doubtful character of his kinsman Hadrian with sovereign power.
In his last moments the arts of the empress Plotina either fixed
the irresolution of Trajan, or boldly supposed a fictitious
adoption; ^38 the truth of which could not be safely disputed, and
Hadrian was peaceably acknowledged as his lawful successor. Under
his reign, as has been already mentioned, the empire flourished in
peace and prosperity. He encouraged the arts, reformed the laws,
asserted military discipline, and visited all his provinces in
person. His vast and active genius was equally suited to the most
enlarged views, and the minute details of civil policy. But the
ruling passions of his soul were curiosity and vanity. As they
prevailed, and as they were attracted by different objects,
Hadrian was, by turns, an excellent prince, a ridiculous sophist,
and a jealous tyrant. The general tenor of his conduct deserved
praise for its equity and moderation. Yet in the first days of his
reign, he put to death four consular senators, his personal
enemies, and men who had been judged worthy of empire; and the
tediousness of a painful illness rendered him, at last, peevish
and cruel. The senate doubted whether they should pronounce him
god or a tyrant; and the honors decreed to his memory were granted
to the prayers of the pious Antoninus. ^39

[Footnote 38: Dion (l. lxix. p. 1249) affirms the whole to have
been a fiction, on the authority of his father, who, being
governor of the province where Trajan died, had very good
opportunities of sifting this mysterious transaction. Yet Dodwell
(Praelect. Camden. xvii.) has maintained that Hadrian was called
to the certain hope of the empire, during the lifetime of Trajan.

[Footnote 39: Dion, (l. lxx. p. 1171.) Aurel. Victor.

The caprice of Hadrian influenced his choice of a successor. After
revolving in his mind several men of distinguished merit, whom he
esteemed and hated, he adopted Aelius Verus a gay and voluptuous
nobleman, recommended by uncommon beauty to the lover of Antinous.
^40 But whilst Hadrian was delighting himself with his own
applause, and the acclamations of the soldiers, whose consent had
been secured by an immense donative, the new Caesar ^41 was
ravished from his embraces by an untimely death. He left only one
son. Hadrian commended the boy to the gratitude of the Antonines.
He was adopted by Pius; and, on the accession of Marcus, was
invested with an equal share of sovereign power. Among the many
vices of this younger Verus, he possessed one virtue; a dutiful
reverence for his wiser colleague, to whom he willingly abandoned
the ruder cares of empire. The philosophic emperor dissembled his
follies, lamented his early death, and cast a decent veil over his

[Footnote 40: The deification of Antinous, his medals, his
statues, temples, city, oracles, and constellation, are well
known, and still dishonor the memory of Hadrian. Yet we may
remark, that of the first fifteen emperors, Claudius was the only
one whose taste in love was entirely correct. For the honors of
Antinous, see Spanheim, Commentaire sui les Caesars de Julien, p.

[Footnote 41: Hist. August. p. 13. Aurelius Victor in Epitom.] As
soon as Hadrian's passion was either gratified or disappointed, he
resolved to deserve the thanks of posterity, by placing the most
exalted merit on the Roman throne. His discerning eye easily
discovered a senator about fifty years of age, clameless in all
the offices of life; and a youth of about seventeen, whose riper
years opened a fair prospect of every virtue: the elder of these
was declared the son and successor of Hadrian, on condition,
however, that he himself should immediately adopt the younger. The
two Antonines (for it is of them that we are now peaking,
governed the Roman world forty-two years, with the same invariable
spirit of wisdom and virtue. Although Pius had two sons, ^42 he
preferred the welfare of Rome to the interest of his family, gave
his daughter Faustina, in marriage to young Marcus, obtained from
the senate the tribunitian and proconsular powers, and, with
noble disdain, or rather ignorance of jealousy, associated him to
all the labors of government. Marcus, on the other hand, revered

the character of his benefactor, loved him as a parent, obeyed him
as his sovereign, ^43 and, after he was no more, regulated his own
administration by the example and maxims of his predecessor. Their
united reigns are possibly the only period of history in which the
happiness of a great people was the sole object of government.

[Footnote 42: Without the help of medals and inscriptions, we
should be ignorant of this fact, so honorable to the memory of
Pius. Note: Gibbon attributes to Antoninus Pius a merit which he
either did not possess, or was not in a situation to display.

1. He was adopted only on the condition that he would adopt, in
his turn, Marcus Aurelius and L. Verus.
2. His two sons died children, and one of them, M. Galerius,
alone, appears to have survived, for a few years, his father's
coronation. Gibbon is also mistaken when he says (note 42) that
"without the help of medals and inscriptions, we should be
ignorant that Antoninus had two sons." Capitolinus says expressly,
(c. 1,) Filii mares duo, duae-foeminae; we only owe their names to
he medals. Pagi. Cont. Baron, i. 33, edit Paris. - W.] [Footnote
43: During the twenty-three years of Pius's reign, Marcus was only
two nights absent from the palace, and even those were at
different times. Hist. August. p. 25.
Titus Antoninus Pius has been justly denominated a second Numa.
The same love of religion, justice, and peace, was the
distinguishing characteristic of both princes. But the situation
of the latter opened a much larger field for the exercise of those
virtues. Numa could only prevent a few neighboring villages from
plundering each other's harvests. Antoninus diffused order and
tranquillity over the greatest part of the earth. His reign is
marked by the rare advantage of furnishing very few materials for
history; which is, indeed, little more than the register of the
crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind. In private life, he
was an amiable, as well as a good man. The native simplicity of
his virtue was a stranger to vanity or affectation. He enjoyed
with moderation the conveniences of his fortune, and the innocent
pleasures of society; ^44 and the benevolence of his soul
displayed itself in a cheerful serenity of temper. [Footnote 44:
He was fond of the theatre, and not insensible to the charms of
the fair sex. Marcus Antoninus, i. 16. Hist. August. p. 20, 21.
Julian in Caesar.

The virtue of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was of severer and more
laborious kind. ^45 It was the well-earned harvest of many
learned conference, of many a patient lecture, and many a midnight
lucubration. At the age of twelve years he embraced the rigid
system of the Stoics, which taught him to submit his body to his
mind, his passions to his reason; to consider virtue as the only
good, vice as the only evil, all things external as things
indifferent. ^46 His meditations, composed in the tumult of the

camp, are still extant; and he even condescended to give lessons
of philosophy, in a more public manner than was perhaps consistent
with the modesty of sage, or the dignity of an emperor. ^47 But
his life was the noblest commentary on the precepts of Zeno. He
was severe to himself, indulgent to the imperfections of others,
just and beneficent to all mankind. He regretted that Avidius
Cassius, who excited a rebellion in Syria, had disappointed him,
by a voluntary death, ^* of the pleasure of converting an enemy
into a friend;; and he justified the sincerity of that sentiment,
by moderating the zeal of the senate against the adherents of the
traitor. ^48 War he detested, as the disgrace and calamity of
human nature; ^!! but when the necessity of a just defence called
upon him to take up arms, he readily exposed his person to eight
winter campaigns, on the frozen banks of the Danube, the severity
of which was at last fatal to the weakness of his constitution.
His memory was revered by a grateful posterity, and above
century after his death, many persons preserved the image of
Marcus Antoninus among those of their household gods. ^49

[Footnote 45: The enemies of Marcus charged him with hypocrisy,
and with a want of that simplicity which distinguished Pius and
even Verus. (Hist. August. 6, 34.) This suspicions, unjust as it
was, may serve to account for the superior applause bestowed upon
personal qualifications, in preference to the social virtues. Even
Marcus Antoninus has been called a hypocrite; but the wildest
scepticism never insinuated that Caesar might probably be
coward, or Tully a fool. Wit and valor are qualifications more
easily ascertained than humanity or the love of justice.

[Footnote 46: Tacitus has characterized, in a few words, the
principles of the portico: Doctores sapientiae secutus est, qui
sola bona quae honesta, main tantum quae turpia; potentiam,
nobilitatem, aeteraque extra... bonis neque malis adnumerant.
Tacit. Hist. iv. 5.

[Footnote 47: Before he went on the second expedition against the
Germans, he read lectures of philosophy to the Roman people,
during three days. He had already done the same in the cities of
Greece and Asia. Hist. August. in Cassio, c. 3.

[Footnote *: Cassius was murdered by his own partisans. Vulcat.
Gallic. in Cassio, c. 7. Dion, lxxi. c. 27. - W.

[Footnote 48: Dion, l. lxxi. p. 1190. Hist. August. in Avid.
Cassio. Note: See one of the newly discovered passages of Dion
Cassius. Marcus wrote to the senate, who urged the execution of
the partisans of Cassius, in these words: "I entreat and beseech
you to preserve my reign unstained by senatorial blood. None of
your order must perish either by your desire or mine." Mai. Fragm.
Vatican. ii. p. 224. - M.

[Footnote !!: Marcus would not accept the services of any of the
barbarian allies who crowded to his standard in the war against
Avidius Cassius. "Barbarians," he said, with wise but vain
sagacity, "must not become acquainted with the dissensions of the
Roman people." Mai. Fragm Vatican l. 224. - M.

[Footnote 49: Hist. August. in Marc. Antonin. c. 18.

If a man were called to fix the period in the history of the
world, during which the condition of the human race was most happy
and prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name that which
elapsed from the death of Domitian to the accession of Commodus.
The vast extent of the Roman empire was governed by absolute
power, under the guidance of virtue and wisdom. The armies were
restrained by the firm but gentle hand of four successive
emperors, whose characters and authority commanded involuntary
respect. The forms of the civil administration were carefully
preserved by Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the Antonines, who
delighted in the image of liberty, and were pleased with
considering themselves as the accountable ministers of the laws.
Such princes deserved the honor of restoring the republic, had the
Romans of their days been capable of enjoying a rational freedom.

The labors of these monarchs were overpaid by the immense reward
that inseparably waited on their success; by the honest pride of
virtue, and by the exquisite delight of beholding the general
happiness of which they were the authors. A just but melancholy
reflection imbittered, however, the noblest of human enjoyments.
They must often have recollected the instability of a happiness
which depended on the character of single man. The fatal moment
was perhaps approaching, when some licentious youth, or some
jealous tyrant, would abuse, to the destruction, that absolute
power, which they had exerted for the benefit of their people.
The ideal restraints of the senate and the laws might serve to
display the virtues, but could never correct the vices, of the
emperor. The military force was a blind and irresistible
instrument of oppression; and the corruption of Roman manners
would always supply flatterers eager to applaud, and ministers
prepared to serve, the fear or the avarice, the lust or the
cruelty, of their master. These gloomy apprehensions had been
already justified by the experience of the Romans. The annals of
the emperors exhibit a strong and various picture of human nature,
which we should vainly seek among the mixed and doubtful
characters of modern history. In the conduct of those monarchs we
may trace the utmost lines of vice and virtue; the most exalted
perfection, and the meanest degeneracy of our own species. The
golden age of Trajan and the Antonines had been preceded by an age
of iron. It is almost superfluous to enumerate the unworthy
successors of Augustus. Their unparalleled vices, and the
splendid theatre on which they were acted, have saved them from
oblivion. The dark, unrelenting Tiberius, the furious Caligula,
the feeble Claudius, the profligate and cruel Nero, the beastly

Vitellius, ^50 and the timid, inhuman Domitian, are condemned to
everlasting infamy. During fourscore years (excepting only the
short and doubtful respite of Vespasian's reign) ^51 Rome groaned
beneath an unremitting tyranny, which exterminated the ancient
families of the republic, and was fatal to almost every virtue and
every talent that arose in that unhappy period.

[Footnote 50: Vitellius consumed in mere eating at least six
millions of our money in about seven months. It is not easy to
express his vices with dignity, or even decency. Tacitus fairly
calls him a hog, but it is by substituting for a coarse word
very fine image. "At Vitellius, umbraculis hortorum abditus, ut
ignava animalia, quibus si cibum suggeras, jacent torpentque,
praeterita, instantia, futura, pari oblivione dimiserat. Atque
illum nemore Aricino desidem et marcentum," &c. Tacit. Hist. iii.
36, ii. 95. Sueton. in Vitell. c. 13. Dion. Cassius, l xv. p.
1062.] [Footnote 51: The execution of Helvidius Priscus, and of
the virtuous Eponina, disgraced the reign of Vespasian.

Under the reign of these monsters, the slavery of the Romans was
accompanied with two peculiar circumstances, the one occasioned by
their former liberty, the other by their extensive conquests,
which rendered their condition more completely wretched than that
of the victims of tyranny in any other age or country. From these
causes were derived, 1. The exquisite sensibility of the
sufferers; and, 2. The impossibility of escaping from the hand of
the oppressor.

I. When Persia was governed by the descendants of Sefi, a race of
princes whose wanton cruelty often stained their divan, their
table, and their bed, with the blood of their favorites, there is
a saying recorded of a young nobleman, that he never departed from
the sultan's presence, without satisfying himself whether his head
was still on his shoulders. The experience of every day might
almost justify the scepticism of Rustan. ^52 Yet the fatal sword,
suspended above him by a single thread, seems not to have
disturbed the slumbers, or interrupted the tranquillity, of the
Persian. The monarch's frown, he well knew, could level him with
the dust; but the stroke of lightning or apoplexy might be equally
fatal; and it was the part of a wise man to forget the inevitable
calamities of human life in the enjoyment of the fleeting hour.
He was dignified with the appellation of the king's slave; had,
perhaps, been purchased from obscure parents, in a country which
he had never known; and was trained up from his infancy in the
severe discipline of the seraglio. ^53 His name, his wealth,his
honors, were the gift of a master, who might, without injustice,
resume what he had bestowed. Rustan's knowledge, if he possessed
any, could only serve to confirm his habits by prejudices. His
language afforded not words for any form of government, except
absolute monarchy. The history of the East informed him, that such
had ever been the condition of mankind. ^54 The Koran, and the
interpreters of that divine book, inculcated to him, that the

sultan was the descendant of the prophet, and the vicegerent of
heaven; that patience was the first virtue of a Mussulman, and
unlimited obedience the great duty of a subject.

[Footnote 52: Voyage de Chardin en Perse, vol. iii. p. 293.
[Footnote 53: The practice of raising slaves to the great offices
of state is still more common among the Turks than among the
Persians. The miserable countries of Georgia and Circassia supply
rulers to the greatest part of the East.

[Footnote 54: Chardin says, that European travellers have diffused
among the Persians some ideas of the freedom and mildness of our
governments. They have done them a very ill office.

The minds of the Romans were very differently prepared for
slavery. Oppressed beneath the weight of their own corruption and
of military violence, they for a long while preserved the
sentiments, or at least the ideas, of their free-born ancestors.
The education of Helvidius and Thrasea, of Tacitus and Pliny, was
the same as that of Cato and Cicero. From Grecian philosophy,
they had imbibed the justest and most liberal notions of the
dignity of human nature, and the origin of civil society. The
history of their own country had taught them to revere a free,
virtuous, and a victorious commonwealth; to abhor the successful
crimes of Caesar and Augustus; and inwardly to despise those
tyrants whom they adored with the most abject flattery. As
magistrates and senators they were admitted into the great
council, which had once dictated laws to the earth, whose
authority was so often prostituted to the vilest purposes of
tyranny. Tiberius, and those emperors who adopted his maxims,
attempted to disguise their murders by the formalities of justice,
and perhaps enjoyed a secret pleasure in rendering the senate
their accomplice as well as their victim. By this assembly, the
last of the Romans were condemned for imaginary crimes and real
virtues. Their infamous accusers assumed the language of
independent patriots, who arraigned a dangerous citizen before the
tribunal of his country; and the public service was rewarded by
riches and honors. ^55 The servile judges professed to assert the
majesty of the commonwealth, violated in the person of its first
magistrate, ^56 whose clemency they most applauded when they
trembled the most at his inexorable and impending cruelty. ^57 The
tyrant beheld their baseness with just contempt, and encountered
their secret sentiments of detestation with sincere and avowed
hatred for the whole body of the senate.

[Footnote 55: They alleged the example of Scipio and Cato, (Tacit.
Annal. iii. 66.) Marcellus Epirus and Crispus Vibius had acquired
two millions and a half under Nero. Their wealth, which
aggravated their crimes, protected them under Vespasian. See
Tacit. Hist. iv. 43. Dialog. de Orator. c. 8. For one accusation,
Regulus, the just object of Pliny's satire, received from the
senate the consular ornaments, and a present of sixty thousand

pounds.] [Footnote 56: The crime of majesty was formerly
treasonable offence against the Roman people. As tribunes of the
people, Augustus and Tiberius applied tit to their own persons,
and extended it to an infinite latitude. Note: It was Tiberius,
not Augustus, who first took in this sense the words crimen laesae
majestatis. Bachii Trajanus, 27. - W.] [Footnote 57: After the
virtuous and unfortunate widow of Germanicus had been put to
death, Tiberius received the thanks of the senate for his
clemency. she had not been publicly strangled; nor was the body
drawn with a hook to the Gemoniae, where those of common male
factors were exposed. See Tacit. Annal. vi. 25. Sueton. in
Tiberio c. 53.

II. The division of Europe into a number of independent states,
connected, however, with each other by the general resemblance of
religion, language, and manners, is productive of the most
beneficial consequences to the liberty of mankind. A modern
tyrant, who should find no resistance either in his own breast, or
in his people, would soon experience a gentle restrain form the
example of his equals, the dread of present censure,d the advice
of his allies, and the apprehension of his enemies. The object of
his displeasure, escaping from the narrow limits of his dominions,
would easily obtain, in a happier climate, a secure refuge, a new
fortune adequate to his merit, the freedom of complaint, and
perhaps the means of revenge. But the empire of the Romans filled
the world, and when the empire fell into the hands of a single
person, he wold became a safe and dreary prison for his enemies.
The slave of Imperial despotism, whether he was condemned to drags
his gilded chain in rome and the senate, or to were out a life of
exile on the barren rock of Seriphus, or the frozen bank of the
Danube, expected his fate in silent despair. ^58 To resist was
fatal, and it was impossible to fly. On every side he was
encompassed with a vast extent of sea and land, which he could
never hope to traverse without being discovered, seized, and
restored to his irritated master. Beyond the frontiers, his
anxious view could discover nothing, except the ocean,
inhospitable deserts, hostile tribes of barbarians, of fierce
manners and unknown language, or dependent kings, who would gladly
purchase the emperor's protection by the sacrifice of an obnoxious
fugitive. ^59 "Wherever you are," said Cicero to the exiled
Marcellus, "remember that you are equally within the power of the
conqueror." ^60
[Footnote 58: Seriphus was a small rocky island in the Aegean Sea,
the inhabitants of which were despised for their ignorance and
obscurity. The place of Ovid's exile is well known, by his just,
but unmanly lamentations. It should seem, that he only received an
order to leave rome in so many days, and to transport himself to
Tomi. Guards and jailers were unnecessary.] [Footnote 59: Under
Tiberius, a Roman knight attempted to fly to the Parthians. He
was stopped in the straits of Sicily; but so little danger did

there appear in the example, that the most jealous of tyrants
disdained to punish it. Tacit. Annal. vi. 14.

[Footnote 60: Cicero ad Familiares, iv. 7.

Chapter IV: The Cruelty, Follies And Murder Of Commodus.

Part I.

The Cruelty, Follies, And Murder Of Commodus - Election Of
Pertinax - His Attempts To Reform The State - His Assassination By
The Praetorian Guards.

The mildness of Marcus, which the rigid discipline of the Stoics
was unable to eradicate, formed, at the same time, the most
amiable, and the only defective part of his character. His
excellent understanding was often deceived by the unsuspecting
goodness of his heart. Artful men, who study the passions of
princes, and conceal their own, approached his person in the
disguise of philosophic sanctity, and acquired riches and honors
by affecting to despise them. ^1 His excessive indulgence to his
brother, ^* his wife, and his son, exceeded the bounds of private
virtue, and became a public injury, by the example and
consequences of their vices.

[Footnote 1: See the complaints of Avidius Cassius, Hist. August.

p. 45. These are, it is true, the complaints of faction; but even
faction exaggerates, rather than invents.
[Footnote *: His brother by adoption, and his colleague, L. Verus.
Marcus Aurelius had no other brother. - W.

Faustina, the daughter of Pius and the wife of Marcus, has been as
much celebrated for her gallantries as for her beauty. The grave
simplicity of the philosopher was ill calculated to engage her
wanton levity, or to fix that unbounded passion for variety, which
often discovered personal merit in the meanest of mankind. ^2 The
Cupid of the ancients was, in general, a very sensual deity; and
the amours of an empress, as they exact on her side the plainest
advances, are seldom susceptible of much sentimental delicacy.
Marcus was the only man in the empire who seemed ignorant or
insensible of the irregularities of Faustina; which, according to
the prejudices of every age, reflected some disgrace on the
injured husband. He promoted several of her lovers to posts of
honor and profit, ^3 and during a connection of thirty years,
invariably gave her proofs of the most tender confidence, and of
respect which ended not with her life. In his Meditations, he
thanks the gods, who had bestowed on him a wife so faithful, so
gentle, and of such a wonderful simplicity of manners. ^4 The
obsequious senate, at his earnest request, declared her a goddess.
She was represented in her temples, with the attributes of Juno,
Venus, and Ceres; and it was decreed, that, on the day of their

nuptials, the youth of either sex should pay their vows before the
altar of their chaste patroness. ^

[Footnote 2: Faustinam satis constat apud Cajetam conditiones sibi
et nauticas et gladiatorias, elegisse. Hist. August. p. 30.
Lampridius explains the sort of merit which Faustina chose, and
the conditions which she exacted. Hist. August. p. 102.

[Footnote 3: Hist. August. p. 34.

[Footnote 4: Meditat. l. i. The world has laughed at the
credulity of Marcus but Madam Dacier assures us, (and we may
credit a lady,) that the husband will always be deceived, if the
wife condescends to dissemble.] [Footnote 5: Dion Cassius, l.

lxxi. [c. 31,] p. 1195. Hist. August. p. 33. Commentaire de
Spanheim sur les Caesars de Julien, p. 289. The deification of
Faustina is the only defect which Julian's criticism is able to
discover in the all-accomplished character of Marcus.
The monstrous vices of the son have cast a shade on the purity of
the father's virtues. It has been objected to Marcus, that he
sacrificed the happiness of millions to a fond partiality for
worthless boy; and that he chose a successor in his own family,
rather than in the republic. Nothing however, was neglected by
the anxious father, and by the men of virtue and learning whom he
summoned to his assistance, to expand the narrow mind of young
Commodus, to correct his growing vices, and to render him worthy
of the throne for which he was designed. But the power of
instruction is seldom of much efficacy, except in those happy
dispositions where it is almost superfluous. The distasteful
lesson of a grave philosopher was, in a moment, obliterated by the
whisper of a profligate favorite; and Marcus himself blasted the
fruits of this labored education, by admitting his son, at the age
of fourteen or fifteen, to a full participation of the Imperial
power. He lived but four years afterwards: but he lived long
enough to repent a rash measure, which raised the impetuous youth
above the restraint of reason and authority.

Most of the crimes which disturb the internal peace of society,
are produced by the restraints which the necessary but unequal
laws of property have imposed on the appetites of mankind, by
confining to a few the possession of those objects that are
coveted by many. Of all our passions and appetites, the love of
power is of the most imperious and unsociable nature, since the
pride of one man requires the submission of the multitude. In the
tumult of civil discord, the laws of society lose their force, and
their place is seldom supplied by those of humanity. The ardor of
contention, the pride of victory, the despair of success, the
memory of past injuries, and the fear of future dangers, all
contribute to inflame the mind, and to silence the voice of pity.
From such motives almost every page of history has been stained
with civil blood; but these motives will not account for the

unprovoked cruelties of Commodus, who had nothing to wish and
every thing to enjoy. The beloved son of Marcus succeeded to his
father, amidst the acclamations of the senate and armies; ^6 and
when he ascended the throne, the happy youth saw round him neither
competitor to remove, nor enemies to punish. In this calm,
elevated station, it was surely natural that he should prefer the
love of mankind to their detestation, the mild glories of his five
predecessors to the ignominious fate of Nero and Domitian.

[Footnote 6: Commodus was the first Porphyrogenitus, (born since
his father's accession to the throne.) By a new strain of
flattery, the Egyptian medals date by the years of his life; as if
they were synonymous to those of his reign. Tillemont, Hist. des
Empereurs, tom. ii. p. 752.

Yet Commodus was not, as he has been represented, a tiger born
with an insatiate thirst of human blood, and capable, from his
infancy, of the most inhuman actions. ^7 Nature had formed him of
a weak rather than a wicked disposition. His simplicity and
timidity rendered him the slave of his attendants, who gradually
corrupted his mind. His cruelty, which at first obeyed the
dictates of others, degenerated into habit, and at length became
the ruling passion of his soul. ^

[Footnote 7: Hist. August. p. 46.

[Footnote 8: Dion Cassius, l. lxxii. p. 1203.

Upon the death of his father, Commodus found himself embarrassed
with the command of a great army, and the conduct of a difficult
war against the Quadi and Marcomanni. ^9 The servile and
profligate youths whom Marcus had banished, soon regained their
station and influence about the new emperor. They exaggerated the
hardships and dangers of a campaign in the wild countries beyond
the Danube; and they assured the indolent prince that the terror
of his name, and the arms of his lieutenants, would be sufficient
to complete the conquest of the dismayed barbarians, or to impose
such conditions as were more advantageous than any conquest. By
dexterous application to his sensual appetites, they compared the
tranquillity, the splendor, the refined pleasures of Rome, with
the tumult of a Pannonian camp, which afforded neither leisure nor
materials for luxury. ^10 Commodus listened to the pleasing
advice; but whilst he hesitated between his own inclination and
the awe which he still retained for his father's counsellors, the
summer insensibly elapsed, and his triumphal entry into the
capital was deferred till the autumn. His graceful person, ^11
popular address, and imagined virtues, attracted the public favor;
the honorable peace which he had recently granted to the
barbarians, diffused a universal joy; ^12 his impatience to
revisit Rome was fondly ascribed to the love of his country; and
his dissolute course of amusements was faintly condemned in
prince of nineteen years of age.

[Footnote 9: According to Tertullian, Apolog. c. 25,) he died at
Sirmium. But the situation of Vindobona, or Vienna, where both the
Victors place his death, is better adapted to the operations of
the war against the Marcomanni and Quadi.

[Footnote 10: Herodian, l. i. p. 12.

[Footnote 11: Herodian, l. i. p. 16.

[Footnote 12: This universal joy is well described (from the
medals as well as historians) by Mr. Wotton, Hist. of Rome, p.
192, 193.] During the three first years of his reign, the forms,
and even the spirit, of the old administration, were maintained by
those faithful counsellors, to whom Marcus had recommended his
son, and for whose wisdom and integrity Commodus still entertained
a reluctant esteem. The young prince and his profligate favorites
revelled in all the license of sovereign power; but his hands were
yet unstained with blood; and he had even displayed a generosity
of sentiment, which might perhaps have ripened into solid virtue.
^13 A fatal incident decided his fluctuating character.

[Footnote 13: Manilius, the confidential secretary of Avidius
Cassius, was discovered after he had lain concealed several years.
The emperor nobly relieved the public anxiety by refusing to see
him, and burning his papers without opening them. Dion Cassius,

l. lxxii. p. 1209.
One evening, as the emperor was returning to the palace, through
dark and narrow portico in the amphitheatre, ^14 an assassin, who
waited his passage, rushed upon him with a drawn sword, loudly
exclaiming, "The senate sends you this." The menace prevented the
deed; the assassin was seized by the guards, and immediately
revealed the authors of the conspiracy. It had been formed, not
in the state, but within the walls of the palace. Lucilla, the
emperor's sister, and widow of Lucius Verus, impatient of the
second rank, and jealous of the reigning empress, had armed the
murderer against her brother's life. She had not ventured to
communicate the black design to her second husband, Claudius
Pompeiarus, a senator of distinguished merit and unshaken loyalty;
but among the crowd of her lovers (for she imitated the manners of
Faustina) she found men of desperate fortunes and wild ambition,
who were prepared to serve her more violent, as well as her tender
passions. The conspirators experienced the rigor of justice, and
the abandoned princess was punished, first with exile, and
afterwards with death. ^15 [Footnote 14: See Maffei degli
Amphitheatri, p. 126.

[Footnote 15: Dion, l. lxxi. p. 1205 Herodian, l. i. p. 16 Hist.
August p. 46.

But the words of the assassin sunk deep into the mind of Commodus,
and left an indelible impression of fear and hatred against the
whole body of the senate. ^* Those whom he had dreaded as
importunate ministers, he now suspected as secret enemies. The
Delators, a race of men discouraged, and almost extinguished,
under the former reigns, again became formidable, as soon as they
discovered that the emperor was desirous of finding disaffection
and treason in the senate. That assembly, whom Marcus had ever
considered as the great council of the nation, was composed of the
most distinguished of the Romans; and distinction of every kind
soon became criminal. The possession of wealth stimulated the
diligence of the informers; rigid virtue implied a tacit censure
of the irregularities of Commodus; important services implied
dangerous superiority of merit; and the friendship of the father
always insured the aversion of the son. Suspicion was equivalent
to proof; trial to condemnation. The execution of a considerable
senator was attended with the death of all who might lament or
revenge his fate; and when Commodus had once tasted human blood,
he became incapable of pity or remorse. [Footnote *: The
conspirators were senators, even the assassin himself. Herod. 81.

Of these innocent victims of tyranny, none died more lamented than
the two brothers of the Quintilian family, Maximus and Condianus;
whose fraternal love has saved their names from oblivion, and
endeared their memory to posterity. Their studies and their
occupations, their pursuits and their pleasures, were still the
same. In the enjoyment of a great estate, they never admitted the
idea of a separate interest: some fragments are now extant of
treatise which they composed in common; ^* and in every action of
life it was observed that their two bodies were animated by one
soul. The Antonines, who valued their virtues, and delighted in
their union, raised them, in the same year, to the consulship; and
Marcus afterwards intrusted to their joint care the civil
administration of Greece, and a great military command, in which
they obtained a signal victory over the Germans. The kind cruelty
of Commodus united them in death. ^16

[Footnote *: This work was on agriculture, and is often quoted by
later writers. See P. Needham, Proleg. ad Geoponic. Camb. 1704.
W.] [Footnote 16: In a note upon the Augustan History, Casaubon
has collected a number of particulars concerning these celebrated
brothers. See p. 96 of his learned commentary.

The tyrant's rage, after having shed the noblest blood of the
senate, at length recoiled on the principal instrument of his
cruelty. Whilst Commodus was immersed in blood and luxury, he
devolved the detail of the public business on Perennis, a servile
and ambitious minister, who had obtained his post by the murder of
his predecessor, but who possessed a considerable share of vigor
and ability. By acts of extortion, and the forfeited estates of
the nobles sacrificed to his avarice, he had accumulated an

immense treasure. The Praetorian guards were under his immediate
command; and his son, who already discovered a military genius,
was at the head of the Illyrian legions. Perennis aspired to the
empire; or what, in the eyes of Commodus, amounted to the same
crime, he was capable of aspiring to it, had he not been
prevented, surprised, and put to death. The fall of a minister is
a very trifling incident in the general history of the empire; but
it was hastened by an extraordinary circumstance, which proved how
much the nerves of discipline were already relaxed. The legions
of Britain, discontented with the administration of Perennis,
formed a deputation of fifteen hundred select men, with
instructions to march to Rome, and lay their complaints before the
emperor. These military petitioners, by their own determined
behaviour, by inflaming the divisions of the guards, by
exaggerating the strength of the British army, and by alarming the
fears of Commodus, exacted and obtained the minister's death, as
the only redress of their grievances. ^17 This presumption of
distant army, and their discovery of the weakness of government,
was a sure presage of the most dreadful convulsions. [Footnote 17:
Dion, l. lxxii. p. 1210. Herodian, l. i. p. 22. Hist. August. p.

48. Dion gives a much less odious character of Perennis, than the
other historians. His moderation is almost a pledge of his
veracity. Note: Gibbon praises Dion for the moderation with which
he speaks of Perennis: he follows, nevertheless, in his own
narrative, Herodian and Lampridius. Dion speaks of Perennis not
only with moderation, but with admiration; he represents him as
great man, virtuous in his life, and blameless in his death:
perhaps he may be suspected of partiality; but it is singular that
Gibbon, having adopted, from Herodian and Lampridius, their
judgment on this minister, follows Dion's improbable account of
his death. What likelihood, in fact, that fifteen hundred men
should have traversed Gaul and Italy, and have arrived at Rome
without any understanding with the Praetorians, or without
detection or opposition from Perennis, the Praetorian praefect?
Gibbon, foreseeing, perhaps, this difficulty, has added, that the
military deputation inflamed the divisions of the guards; but Dion
says expressly that they did not reach Rome, but that the emperor
went out to meet them: he even reproaches him for not having
opposed them with the guards, who were superior in number.
Herodian relates that Commodus, having learned, from a soldier,
the ambitious designs of Perennis and his son, caused them to be
attacked and massacred by night. - G. from W. Dion's narrative is
remarkably circumstantial, and his authority higher than either of
the other writers. He hints that Cleander, a new favorite, had
already undermined the influence of Perennis. - M.
The negligence of the public administration was betrayed, soon
afterwards, by a new disorder, which arose from the smallest
beginnings. A spirit of desertion began to prevail among the
troops: and the deserters, instead of seeking their safety in
flight or concealment, infested the highways. Maternus, a private
soldier, of a daring boldness above his station, collected these

bands of robbers into a little army, set open the prisons, invited
the slaves to assert their freedom, and plundered with impunity
the rich and defenceless cities of Gaul and Spain. The governors
of the provinces, who had long been the spectators, and perhaps
the partners, of his depredations, were, at length, roused from
their supine indolence by the threatening commands of the emperor.
Maternus found that he was encompassed, and foresaw that he must
be overpowered. A great effort of despair was his last resource.
He ordered his followers to disperse, to pass the Alps in small
parties and various disguises, and to assemble at Rome, during the
licentious tumult of the festival of Cybele. ^18 To murder
Commodus, and to ascend the vacant throne, was the ambition of no
vulgar robber. His measures were so ably concerted that his
concealed troops already filled the streets of Rome. The envy of
an accomplice discovered and ruined this singular enterprise, in
moment when it was ripe for execution. ^19 [Footnote 18: During
the second Punic war, the Romans imported from Asia the worship of
the mother of the gods. Her festival, the Megalesia, began on the
fourth of April, and lasted six days. The streets were crowded
with mad processions, the theatres with spectators, and the public
tables with unbidden guests. Order and police were suspended, and
pleasure was the only serious business of the city. See Ovid. de
Fastis, l. iv. 189, &c.] [Footnote 19: Herodian, l. i. p. 23, 23.

Suspicious princes often promote the last of mankind, from a vain
persuasion, that those who have no dependence, except on their
favor, will have no attachment, except to the person of their
benefactor. Cleander, the successor of Perennis, was a Phrygian
by birth; of a nation over whose stubborn, but servile temper,
blows only could prevail. ^20 He had been sent from his native
country to Rome, in the capacity of a slave. As a slave he
entered the Imperial palace, rendered himself useful to his
master's passions, and rapidly ascended to the most exalted
station which a subject could enjoy. His influence over the mind
of Commodus was much greater than that of his predecessor; for
Cleander was devoid of any ability or virtue which could inspire
the emperor with envy or distrust. Avarice was the reigning
passion of his soul, and the great principle of his
administration. The rank of Consul, of Patrician, of Senator, was
exposed to public sale; and it would have been considered as
disaffection, if any one had refused to purchase these empty and
disgraceful honors with the greatest part of his fortune. ^21 In
the lucrative provincial employments, the minister shared with the
governor the spoils of the people. The execution of the laws was
penal and arbitrary. A wealthy criminal might obtain, not only
the reversal of the sentence by which he was justly condemned, but
might likewise inflict whatever punishment he pleased on the
accuser, the witnesses, and the judge. [Footnote 20: Cicero pro
Flacco, c. 27.

[Footnote 21: One of these dear-bought promotions occasioned
current... that Julius Solon was banished into the senate.

By these means, Cleander, in the space of three years, had
accumulated more wealth than had ever yet been possessed by any
freedman. ^22 Commodus was perfectly satisfied with the
magnificent presents which the artful courtier laid at his feet in
the most seasonable moments. To divert the public envy, Cleander,
under the emperor's name, erected baths, porticos, and places of
exercise, for the use of the people. ^23 He flattered himself that
the Romans, dazzled and amused by this apparent liberality, would
be less affected by the bloody scenes which were daily exhibited;
that they would forget the death of Byrrhus, a senator to whose
superior merit the late emperor had granted one of his daughters;
and that they would forgive the execution of Arrius Antoninus, the
last representative of the name and virtues of the Antonines. The
former, with more integrity than prudence, had attempted to
disclose, to his brother-in-law, the true character of Cleander.
An equitable sentence pronounced by the latter, when proconsul of
Asia, against a worthless creature of the favorite, proved fatal
to him. ^24 After the fall of Perennis, the terrors of Commodus
had, for a short time, assumed the appearance of a return to
virtue. He repealed the most odious of his acts; loaded his memory
with the public execration, and ascribed to the pernicious
counsels of that wicked minister all the errors of his
inexperienced youth. But his repentance lasted only thirty days;
and, under Cleander's tyranny, the administration of Perennis was
often regretted. [Footnote 22: Dion (l. lxxii. p. 12, 13)
observes, that no freedman had possessed riches equal to those of
Cleander. The fortune of Pallas amounted, however, to upwards of
five and twenty hundred thousand pounds; Ter millies.] [Footnote

23: Dion, l. lxxii. p. 12, 13. Herodian, l. i. p. 29. Hist.
August. p. 52. These baths were situated near the Porta Capena.
See Nardini Roma Antica, p. 79.
[Footnote 24: Hist. August. p. 79.

Chapter IV: The Cruelty, Follies And Murder Of Commodus.

Part II.

Pestilence and famine contributed to fill up the measure of the
calamities of Rome. ^25 The first could be only imputed to the
just indignation of the gods; but a monopoly of corn, supported by
the riches and power of the minister, was considered as the
immediate cause of the second. The popular discontent, after it
had long circulated in whispers, broke out in the assembled
circus. The people quitted their favorite amusements for the more
delicious pleasure of revenge, rushed in crowds towards a palace
in the suburbs, one of the emperor's retirements, and demanded,
with angry clamors, the head of the public enemy. Cleander, who
commanded the Praetorian guards, ^26 ordered a body of cavalry to
sally forth, and disperse the seditious multitude. The multitude
fled with precipitation towards the city; several were slain, and

many more were trampled to death; but when the cavalry entered the
streets, their pursuit was checked by a shower of stones and darts
from the roofs and windows of the houses. The foot guards, ^27
who had been long jealous of the prerogatives and insolence of the
Praetorian cavalry, embraced the party of the people. The tumult
became a regular engagement, and threatened a general massacre.
The Praetorians, at length, gave way, oppressed with numbers; and
the tide of popular fury returned with redoubled violence against
the gates of the palace, where Commodus lay, dissolved in luxury,
and alone unconscious of the civil war. It was death to approach
his person with the unwelcome news. He would have perished in
this supine security, had not two women, his eldest sister
Fadilla, and Marcia, the most favored of his concubines, ventured
to break into his presence. Bathed in tears, and with dishevelled
hair, they threw themselves at his feet; and with all the pressing
eloquence of fear, discovered to the affrighted emperor the crimes
of the minister, the rage of the people, and the impending ruin,
which, in a few minutes, would burst over his palace and person.
Commodus started from his dream of pleasure, and commanded that
the head of Cleander should be thrown out to the people. The
desired spectacle instantly appeased the tumult; and the son of
Marcus might even yet have regained the affection and confidence
of his subjects. ^28

[Footnote 25: Herodian, l. i. p. 28. Dion, l. lxxii. p. 1215. The
latter says that two thousand persons died every day at Rome,
during a considerable length of time.

[Footnote 26: Tuneque primum tres praefecti praetorio fuere: inter
quos libertinus. From some remains of modesty, Cleander declined
the title, whilst he assumed the powers, of Praetorian praefect.
As the other freedmen were styled, from their several departments,
a rationibus, ab epistolis, Cleander called himself a pugione, as
intrusted with the defence of his master's person. Salmasius and
Casaubon seem to have talked very idly upon this passage.

Note: M. Guizot denies that Lampridius means Cleander as praefect
a pugione. The Libertinus seems to me to mean him. - M.

[Footnote 27: Herodian, l. i. p. 31. It is doubtful whether he
means the Praetorian infantry, or the cohortes urbanae, a body of
six thousand men, but whose rank and discipline were not equal to
their numbers. Neither Tillemont nor Wotton choose to decide this

[Footnote 28: Dion Cassius, l. lxxii. p. 1215. Herodian, l. i. p.

32. Hist. August. p. 48.
But every sentiment of virtue and humanity was extinct in the mind
of Commodus. Whilst he thus abandoned the reins of empire to
these unworthy favorites, he valued nothing in sovereign power,
except the unbounded license of indulging his sensual appetites.

His hours were spent in a seraglio of three hundred beautiful
women, and as many boys, of every rank, and of every province;
and, wherever the arts of seduction proved ineffectual, the brutal
lover had recourse to violence. The ancient historians ^29 have
expatiated on these abandoned scenes of prostitution, which
scorned every restraint of nature or modesty; but it would not be
easy to translate their too faithful descriptions into the decency
of modern language. The intervals of lust were filled up with the
basest amusements. The influence of a polite age, and the labor
of an attentive education, had never been able to infuse into his
rude and brutish mind the least tincture of learning; and he was
the first of the Roman emperors totally devoid of taste for the
pleasures of the understanding. Nero himself excelled, or
affected to excel, in the elegant arts of music and poetry: nor
should we despise his pursuits, had he not converted the pleasing
relaxation of a leisure hour into the serious business and
ambition of his life. But Commodus, from his earliest infancy,
discovered an aversion to whatever was rational or liberal, and
fond attachment to the amusements of the populace; the sports of
the circus and amphitheatre, the combats of gladiators, and the
hunting of wild beasts. The masters in every branch of learning,
whom Marcus provided for his son, were heard with inattention and
disgust; whilst the Moors and Parthians, who taught him to dart
the javelin and to shoot with the bow, found a disciple who
delighted in his application, and soon equalled the most skilful
of his instructors in the steadiness of the eye and the dexterity
of the hand. [Footnote 29: Sororibus suis constupratis. Ipsas
concubinas suas sub oculis ...stuprari jubebat. Nec irruentium in
se juvenum carebat infamia, omni parte corporis atque ore in sexum
utrumque pollutus. Hist. Aug. p. 47.] The servile crowd, whose
fortune depended on their master's vices, applauded these ignoble
pursuits. The perfidious voice of flattery reminded him, that by
exploits of the same nature, by the defeat of the Nemaean lion,
and the slaughter of the wild boar of Erymanthus, the Grecian
Hercules had acquired a place among the gods, and an immortal
memory among men. They only forgot to observe, that, in the first
ages of society, when the fiercer animals often dispute with man
the possession of an unsettled country, a successful war against
those savages is one of the most innocent and beneficial labors of
heroism. In the civilized state of the Roman empire, the wild
beasts had long since retired from the face of man, and the
neighborhood of populous cities. To surprise them in their
solitary haunts, and to transport them to Rome, that they might be
slain in pomp by the hand of an emperor, was an enterprise equally
ridiculous for the prince and oppressive for the people. ^30
Ignorant of these distinctions, Commodus eagerly embraced the
glorious resemblance, and styled himself (as we still read on his
medals ^31) the Roman Hercules. ^* The club and the lion's hide
were placed by the side of the throne, amongst the ensigns of
sovereignty; and statues were erected, in which Commodus was
represented in the character, and with the attributes, of the god,
whose valor and dexterity he endeavored to emulate in the daily

course of his ferocious amusements. ^32 [Footnote 30: The African
lions, when pressed by hunger, infested the open villages and
cultivated country; and they infested them with impunity. The
royal beast was reserved for the pleasures of the emperor and the
capital; and the unfortunate peasant who killed one of them though
in his own defence, incurred a very heavy penalty. This
extraordinary game-law was mitigated by Honorius, and finally
repealed by Justinian. Codex Theodos. tom. v. p. 92, et Comment

[Footnote 31: Spanheim de Numismat. Dissertat. xii. tom. ii. p.
493.] [Footnote *: Commodus placed his own head on the colossal
statue of Hercules with the inscription, Lucius Commodus Hercules.
The wits of Rome, according to a new fragment of Dion, published
an epigram, of which, like many other ancient jests, the point is
not very clear. It seems to be a protest of the god against being
confounded with the emperor. Mai Fragm. Vatican. ii. 225. - M.

[Footnote 32: Dion, l. lxxii. p. 1216. Hist. August. p. 49.
Elated with these praises, which gradually extinguished the innate
sense of shame, Commodus resolved to exhibit before the eyes of
the Roman people those exercises, which till then he had decently
confined within the walls of his palace, and to the presence of
few favorites. On the appointed day, the various motives of
flattery, fear, and curiosity, attracted to the amphitheatre an
innumerable multitude of spectators; and some degree of applause
was deservedly bestowed on the uncommon skill of the Imperial
performer. Whether he aimed at the head or heart of the animal,
the wound was alike certain and mortal. With arrows whose point
was shaped into the form of crescent, Commodus often intercepted
the rapid career, and cut asunder the long, bony neck of the
ostrich. ^33 A panther was let loose; and the archer waited till
he had leaped upon a trembling malefactor. In the same instant
the shaft flew, the beast dropped dead, and the man remained
unhurt. The dens of the amphitheatre disgorged at once a hundred
lions: a hundred darts from the unerring hand of Commodus laid
them dead as they run raging round the Arena. Neither the huge
bulk of the elephant, nor the scaly hide of the rhinoceros, could
defend them from his stroke. Aethiopia and India yielded their
most extraordinary productions; and several animals were slain in
the amphitheatre, which had been seen only in the representations
of art, or perhaps of fancy. ^34 In all these exhibitions, the
securest precautions were used to protect the person of the Roman
Hercules from the desperate spring of any savage, who might
possibly disregard the dignity of the emperor and the sanctity of
the god. ^35

[Footnote 33: The ostrich's neck is three feet long, and composed
of seventeen vertebrae. See Buffon, Hist. Naturelle.

[Footnote 34: Commodus killed a camelopardalis or Giraffe, (Dion,

l. lxxii. p. 1211,) the tallest, the most gentle, and the most

useless of the large quadrupeds. This singular animal, a native
only of the interior parts of Africa, has not been seen in Europe
since the revival of letters; and though M. de Buffon (Hist.
Naturelle, tom. xiii.) has endeavored to describe, he has not
ventured to delineate, the Giraffe.

Note: The naturalists of our days have been more fortunate. London
probably now contains more specimens of this animal than have been
seen in Europe since the fall of the Roman empire, unless in the
pleasure gardens of the emperor Frederic II., in Sicily, which
possessed several. Frederic's collections of wild beasts were
exhibited, for the popular amusement, in many parts of Italy.
Raumer, Geschichte der Hohenstaufen, v. iii. p. 571. Gibbon,
moreover, is mistaken; as a giraffe was presented to Lorenzo de
Medici, either by the sultan of Egypt or the king of Tunis.
Contemporary authorities are quoted in the old work, Gesner de
Quadrupedibum p. 162. - M.] [Footnote 35: Herodian, l. i. p. 37.
Hist. August. p. 50.] But the meanest of the populace were
affected with shame and indignation when they beheld their
sovereign enter the lists as a gladiator, and glory in
profession which the laws and manners of the Romans had branded
with the justest note of infamy. ^36 He chose the habit and arms
of the Secutor, whose combat with the Retiarius formed one of the
most lively scenes in the bloody sports of the amphitheatre. The
Secutor was armed with a helmet, sword, and buckler; his naked
antagonist had only a large net and a trident; with the one he
endeavored to entangle, with the other to despatch his enemy. If
he missed the first throw, he was obliged to fly from the pursuit
of the Secutor, till he had prepared his net for a second cast.
^37 The emperor fought in this character seven hundred and thirty-
five several times. These glorious achievements were carefully
recorded in the public acts of the empire; and that he might omit
no circumstance of infamy, he received from the common fund of
gladiators a stipend so exorbitant that it became a new and most
ignominious tax upon the Roman people. ^38 It may be easily
supposed, that in these engagements the master of the world was
always successful; in the amphitheatre, his victories were not
often sanguinary; but when he exercised his skill in the school of
gladiators, or his own palace, his wretched antagonists were
frequently honored with a mortal wound from the hand of Commodus,
and obliged to seal their flattery with their blood. ^39 He now
disdained the appellation of Hercules. The name of Paulus,
celebrated Secutor, was the only one which delighted his ear. It
was inscribed on his colossal statues, and repeated in the
redoubled acclamations ^40 of the mournful and applauding senate.
^41 Claudius Pompeianus, the virtuous husband of Lucilla, was the
only senator who asserted the honor of his rank. As a father, he
permitted his sons to consult their safety by attending the
amphitheatre. As a Roman, he declared, that his own life was in
the emperor's hands, but that he would never behold the son of
Marcus prostituting his person and dignity. Notwithstanding his
manly resolution Pompeianus escaped the resentment of the tyrant,

and, with his honor, had the good fortune to preserve his life.

[Footnote 36: The virtuous and even the wise princes forbade the
senators and knights to embrace this scandalous profession, under
pain of infamy, or, what was more dreaded by those profligate
wretches, of exile. The tyrants allured them to dishonor by
threats and rewards. Nero once produced in the arena forty
senators and sixty knights. See Lipsius, Saturnalia, l. ii. c. 2.
He has happily corrected a passage of Suetonius in Nerone, c. 12.
[Footnote 37: Lipsius, l. ii. c. 7, 8. Juvenal, in the eighth
satire, gives a picturesque description of this combat.

[Footnote 38: Hist. August. p. 50. Dion, l. lxxii. p. 1220. He
received, for each time, decies, about 8000l. sterling.

[Footnote 39: Victor tells us, that Commodus only allowed his
antagonists a ...weapon, dreading most probably the consequences
of their despair.] [Footnote 40: They were obliged to repeat, six
hundred and twenty-six times, Paolus first of the Secutors, &c.

[Footnote 41: Dion, l. lxxii. p. 1221. He speaks of his own
baseness and danger.

[Footnote 42: He mixed, however, some prudence with his courage,
and passed the greatest part of his time in a country retirement;
alleging his advanced age, and the weakness of his eyes. "I never
saw him in the senate," says Dion, "except during the short reign
of Pertinax." All his infirmities had suddenly left him, and they
returned as suddenly upon the murder of that excellent prince.
Dion, l. lxxiii. p. 1227.

Commodus had now attained the summit of vice and infamy. Amidst
the acclamations of a flattering court, he was unable to disguise
from himself, that he had deserved the contempt and hatred of
every man of sense and virtue in his empire. His ferocious spirit
was irritated by the consciousness of that hatred, by the envy of
every kind of merit, by the just apprehension of danger, and by
the habit of slaughter, which he contracted in his daily
amusements. History has preserved a long list of consular
senators sacrificed to his wanton suspicion, which sought out,
with peculiar anxiety, those unfortunate persons connected,
however remotely, with the family of the Antonines, without
sparing even the ministers of his crimes or pleasures. ^43 His
cruelty proved at last fatal to himself. He had shed with
impunity the noblest blood of Rome: he perished as soon as he was
dreaded by his own domestics. Marcia, his favorite concubine,
Eclectus, his chamberlain, and Laetus, his Praetorian praefect,
alarmed by the fate of their companions and predecessors, resolved
to prevent the destruction which every hour hung over their heads,
either from the mad caprice of the tyrant, ^* or the sudden
indignation of the people. Marcia seized the occasion of

presenting a draught of wine to her lover, after he had fatigued
himself with hunting some wild beasts. Commodus retired to sleep;
but whilst he was laboring with the effects of poison and
drunkenness, a robust youth, by profession a wrestler, entered his
chamber, and strangled him without resistance. The body was
secretly conveyed out of the palace, before the least suspicion
was entertained in the city, or even in the court, of the
emperor's death. Such was the fate of the son of Marcus, and so
easy was it to destroy a hated tyrant, who, by the artificial
powers of government, had oppressed, during thirteen years, so
many millions of subjects, each of whom was equal to their master
in personal strength and personal abilities. ^44

[Footnote 43: The prefects were changed almost hourly or daily;
and the caprice of Commodus was often fatal to his most favored
chamberlains. Hist. August. p. 46, 51.

[Footnote *: Commodus had already resolved to massacre them the
following night they determined o anticipate his design. Herod.

i. 17. - W.] [Footnote 44: Dion, l. lxxii. p. 1222. Herodian, l.
i. p. 43. Hist. August. p. 52.
The measures of he conspirators were conducted with the deliberate
coolness and celerity which the greatness of the occasion
required. They resolved instantly to fill the vacant throne with
an emperor whose character would justify and maintain the action
that had been committed. They fixed on Pertinax, praefect of the
city, an ancient senator of consular rank, whose conspicuous merit
had broke through the obscurity of his birth, and raised him to
the first honors of the state. He had successively governed most
of the provinces of the empire; and in all his great employments,
military as well as civil, he had uniformly distinguished himself
by the firmness, the prudence, and the integrity of his conduct.
^45 He now remained almost alone of the friends and ministers of
Marcus; and when, at a late hour of the night, he was awakened
with the news, that the chamberlain and the praefect were at his
door, he received them with intrepid resignation, and desired they
would execute their master's orders. Instead of death, they
offered him the throne of the Roman world. During some moments he
distrusted their intentions and assurances. Convinced at length
of the death of Commodus, he accepted the purple with a sincere
reluctance, the natural effect of his knowledge both of the duties
and of the dangers of the supreme rank. ^46 [Footnote 45: Pertinax
was a native of Alba Pompeia, in Piedmont, and son of a timber
merchant. The order of his employments (it is marked by
Capitolinus) well deserves to be set down, as expressive of the
form of government and manners of the age. 1. He was a centurion.

2. Praefect of a cohort in Syria, in the Parthian war, and in
Britain. 3. He obtained an Ala, or squadron of horse, in Maesia.
4. He was commissary of provisions on the Aemilian way. 5. He
commanded the fleet upon the Rhine. 6. He was procurator of
Dacia, with a salary of about 1600l. a year. 7. He commanded the

veterans of a legion. 8. He obtained the rank of senator. 9. Of
praetor. 10. With the command of the first legion in Rhaetia and
Noricum. 11. He was consul about the year 175. 12. He attended
Marcus into the East. 13. He commanded an army on the Danube. 14.
He was consular legate of Maesia. 15. Of Dacia. 16. Of Syria.

17. Of Britain. 18. He had the care of the public provisions at
Rome. 19. He was proconsul of Africa. 20. Praefect of the city.
Herodian (l. i. p. 48) does justice to his disinterested spirit;
but Capitolinus, who collected every popular rumor, charges him
with a great fortune acquired by bribery and corruption.
[Footnote 46: Julian, in the Caesars, taxes him with being
accessory to the death of Commodus.
Laetus conducted without delay his new emperor to the camp of the
Praetorians, diffusing at the same time through the city
seasonable report that Commodus died suddenly of an apoplexy; and
that the virtuous Pertinax had already succeeded to the throne.
The guards were rather surprised than pleased with the suspicious
death of a prince, whose indulgence and liberality they alone had
experienced; but the emergency of the occasion, the authority of
their praefect, the reputation of Pertinax, and the clamors of the
people, obliged them to stifle their secret discontents, to accept
the donative promised by the new emperor, to swear allegiance to
him, and with joyful acclamations and laurels in their hands to
conduct him to the senate house, that the military consent might
be ratified by the civil authority. This important night was now
far spent; with the dawn of day, and the commencement of the new
year, the senators expected a summons to attend an ignominious
ceremony. ^* In spite of all remonstrances, even of those of his
creatures who yet preserved any regard for prudence or decency,
Commodus had resolved to pass the night in the gladiators' school,
and from thence to take possession of the consulship, in the habit
and with the attendance of that infamous crew. On a sudden,
before the break of day, the senate was called together in the
temple of Concord, to meet the guards, and to ratify the election
of a new emperor. For a few minutes they sat in silent suspense,
doubtful of their unexpected deliverance, and suspicious of the
cruel artifices of Commodus: but when at length they were assured
that the tyrant was no more, they resigned themselves to all the
transports of joy and indignation. Pertinax, who modestly
represented the meanness of his extraction, and pointed out
several noble senators more deserving than himself of the empire,
was constrained by their dutiful violence to ascend the throne,
and received all the titles of Imperial power, confirmed by the
most sincere vows of fidelity. The memory of Commodus was branded
with eternal infamy. The names of tyrant, of gladiator, of public
enemy resounded in every corner of the house. They decreed in
tumultuous votes, ^* that his honors should be reversed, his
titles erased from the public monuments, his statues thrown down,
his body dragged with a hook into the stripping room of the
gladiators, to satiate the public fury; and they expressed some
indignation against those officious servants who had already

presumed to screen his remains from the justice of the senate.
But Pertinax could not refuse those last rites to the memory of
Marcus, and the tears of his first protector Claudius Pompeianus,
who lamented the cruel fate of his brother-in- law, and lamented
still more that he had deserved it. ^47

[Footnote *: The senate always assembled at the beginning of the
year, on the night of the 1st January, (see Savaron on Sid. Apoll.

viii. 6,) and this happened the present year, as usual, without
any particular order. - G from W.
[Footnote *: What Gibbon improperly calls, both here and in the
note, tumultuous decrees, were no more than the applauses and
acclamations which recur so often in the history of the emperors.
The custom passed from the theatre to the forum, from the forum to
the senate. Applauses on the adoption of the Imperial decrees
were first introduced under Trajan. (Plin. jun. Panegyr. 75.) One
senator read the form of the decree, and all the rest answered by
acclamations, accompanied with a kind of chant or rhythm. These
were some of the acclamations addressed to Pertinax, and against
the memory of Commodus. Hosti patriae honores detrahantur.
Parricidae honores detrahantur. Ut salvi simus, Jupiter, optime,
maxime, serva nobis Pertinacem. This custom prevailed not only in
the councils of state, but in all the meetings of the senate.
However inconsistent it may appear with the solemnity of
religious assembly, the early Christians adopted and introduced it
into their synods, notwithstanding the opposition of some of the
Fathers, particularly of St. Chrysostom. See the Coll. of Franc.
Bern. Ferrarius de veterum acclamatione in Graevii Thesaur. Antiq.
Rom. i. 6. - W. This note is rather hypercritical, as regards
Gibbon, but appears to be worthy of preservation. - M.

[Footnote 47: Capitolinus gives us the particulars of these
tumultuary votes, which were moved by one senator, and repeated,
or rather chanted by the whole body. Hist. August. p. 52.

These effusions of impotent rage against a dead emperor, whom the
senate had flattered when alive with the most abject servility,
betrayed a just but ungenerous spirit of revenge.

The legality of these decrees was, however, supported by the
principles of the Imperial constitution. To censure, to depose,
or to punish with death, the first magistrate of the republic, who
had abused his delegated trust, was the ancient and undoubted
prerogative of the Roman senate; ^48 but the feeble assembly was
obliged to content itself with inflicting on a fallen tyrant that
public justice, from which, during his life and reign, he had been
shielded by the strong arm of military despotism. ^

[Footnote 48: The senate condemned Nero to be put to death more
majorum. Sueton. c. 49.

[Footnote *: No particular law assigned this right to the senate:
it was deduced from the ancient principles of the republic. Gibbon
appears to infer, from the passage of Suetonius, that the senate,
according to its ancient right, punished Nero with death. The
words, however, more majerum refer not to the decree of the
senate, but to the kind of death, which was taken from an old law
of Romulus. (See Victor. Epit. Ed. Artzen p. 484, n. 7. - W.

Pertinax found a nobler way of condemning his predecessor's
memory; by the contrast of his own virtues with the vices of
Commodus. On the day of his accession, he resigned over to his
wife and son his whole private fortune; that they might have no
pretence to solicit favors at the expense of the state. He
refused to flatter the vanity of the former with the title of
Augusta; or to corrupt the inexperienced youth of the latter by
the rank of Caesar. Accurately distinguishing between the duties
of a parent and those of a sovereign, he educated his son with
severe simplicity, which, while it gave him no assured prospect of
the throne, might in time have rendered him worthy of it. In
public, the behavior of Pertinax was grave and affable. He lived
with the virtuous part of the senate, (and, in a private station,
he had been acquainted with the true character of each
individual,) without either pride or jealousy; considered them as
friends and companions, with whom he had shared the danger of the
tyranny, and with whom he wished to enjoy the security of the
present time. He very frequently invited them to familiar
entertainments, the frugality of which was ridiculed by those who
remembered and regretted the luxurious prodigality of Commodus.
^49 [Footnote 49: Dion (l. lxxiii. p. 1223) speaks of these
entertainments, as a senator who had supped with the emperor;
Capitolinus, (Hist. August. p. 58,) like a slave, who had received
his intelligence from one the scullions.] To heal, as far as I was
possible, the wounds inflicted by the hand of tyranny, was the
pleasing, but melancholy, task of Pertinax. The innocent victims,
who yet survived, were recalled from exile, released from prison,
and restored to the full possession of their honors and fortunes.
The unburied bodies of murdered senators (for the cruelty of
Commodus endeavored to extend itself beyond death) were deposited
in the sepulchres of their ancestors; their memory was justified
and every consolation was bestowed on their ruined and afflicted
families. Among these consolations, one of the most grateful was
the punishment of the Delators; the common enemies of their
master, of virtue, and of their country. Yet even in the
inquisition of these legal assassins, Pertinax proceeded with
steady temper, which gave every thing to justice, and nothing to
popular prejudice and resentment. The finances of the state
demanded the most vigilant care of the emperor. Though every
measure of injustice and extortion had been adopted, which could
collect the property of the subject into the coffers of the
prince, the rapaciousness of Commodus had been so very inadequate
to his extravagance, that, upon his death, no more than eight
thousand pounds were found in the exhausted treasury, ^50 to

defray the current expenses of government, and to discharge the
pressing demand of a liberal donative, which the new emperor had
been obliged to promise to the Praetorian guards. Yet under these
distressed circumstances, Pertinax had the generous firmness to
remit all the oppressive taxes invented by Commodus, and to cancel
all the unjust claims of the treasury; declaring, in a decree of
the senate, "that he was better satisfied to administer a poor
republic with innocence, than to acquire riches by the ways of
tyranny and dishonor. "Economy and industry he considered as the
pure and genuine sources of wealth; and from them he soon derived
a copious supply for the public necessities. The expense of the
household was immediately reduced to one half. All the
instruments of luxury Pertinax exposed to public auction, ^51 gold
and silver plate, chariots of a singular construction,
superfluous wardrobe of silk and embroidery, and a great number of
beautiful slaves of both sexes; excepting only, with attentive
humanity, those who were born in a state of freedom, and had been
ravished from the arms of their weeping parents. At the same time
that he obliged the worthless favorites of the tyrant to resign
part of their ill- gotten wealth, he satisfied the just creditors
of the state, and unexpectedly discharged the long arrears of
honest services. He removed the oppressive restrictions which had
been laid upon commerce, and granted all the uncultivated lands in
Italy and the provinces to those who would improve them; with an
exemption from tribute during the term of ten years. ^52 [Footnote

50: Decies. The blameless economy of Pius left his successors
treasure of vicies septies millies, above two and twenty millions
sterling. Dion, l. lxxiii. p. 1231.
[Footnote 51: Besides the design of converting these useless
ornaments into money, Dion (l. lxxiii. p. 1229) assigns two secret
motives of Pertinax. He wished to expose the vices of Commodus,
and to discover by the purchasers those who most resembled him.

[Footnote 52: Though Capitolinus has picked up many idle tales of
the private life of Pertinax, he joins with Dion and Herodian in
admiring his public conduct.

Such a uniform conduct had already secured to Pertinax the noblest
reward of a sovereign, the love and esteem of his people. Those
who remembered the virtues of Marcus were happy to contemplate in
their new emperor the features of that bright original; and
flattered themselves, that they should long enjoy the benign
influence of his administration. A hasty zeal to reform the
corrupted state, accompanied with less prudence than might have
been expected from the years and experience of Pertinax, proved
fatal to himself and to his country. His honest indiscretion
united against him the servile crowd, who found their private
benefit in the public disorders, and who preferred the favor of
tyrant to the inexorable equality of the laws. ^53

[Footnote 53: Leges, rem surdam, inexorabilem esse. T. Liv. ii.
3.] Amidst the general joy, the sullen and angry countenance of
the Praetorian guards betrayed their inward dissatisfaction. They
had reluctantly submitted to Pertinax; they dreaded the strictness
of the ancient discipline, which he was preparing to restore; and
they regretted the license of the former reign. Their discontents
were secretly fomented by Laetus, their praefect, who found, when
it was too late, that his new emperor would reward a servant, but
would not be ruled by a favorite. On the third day of his reign,
the soldiers seized on a noble senator, with a design to carry him
to the camp, and to invest him with the Imperial purple. Instead
of being dazzled by the dangerous honor, the affrighted victim
escaped from their violence, and took refuge at the feet of
Pertinax. A short time afterwards, Sosius Falco, one of the
consuls of the year, a rash youth, ^54 but of an ancient and
opulent family, listened to the voice of ambition; and
conspiracy was formed during a short absence of Pertinax, which
was crushed by his sudden return to Rome, and his resolute
behavior. Falco was on the point of being justly condemned to
death as a public enemy had he not been saved by the earnest and
sincere entreaties of the injured emperor, who conjured the
senate, that the purity of his reign might not be stained by the
blood even of a guilty senator.

[Footnote 54: If we credit Capitolinus, (which is rather
difficult,) Falco behaved with the most petulant indecency to
Pertinax, on the day of his accession. The wise emperor only
admonished him of his youth and in experience. Hist. August. p.

These disappointments served only to irritate the rage of the
Praetorian guards. On the twenty-eighth of March, eighty-six days
only after the death of Commodus, a general sedition broke out in
the camp, which the officers wanted either power or inclination to
suppress. Two or three hundred of the most desperate soldiers
marched at noonday, with arms in their hands and fury in their
looks, towards the Imperial palace. The gates were thrown open by
their companions upon guard, and by the domestics of the old
court, who had already formed a secret conspiracy against the life
of the too virtuous emperor. On the news of their approach,
Pertinax, disdaining either flight or concealment, advanced to
meet his assassins; and recalled to their minds his own innocence,
and the sanctity of their recent oath. For a few moments they
stood in silent suspense, ashamed of their atrocious design, and
awed by the venerable aspect and majestic firmness of their
sovereign, till at length, the despair of pardon reviving their
fury, a barbarian of the country of Tongress ^55 levelled the
first blow against Pertinax, who was instantly despatched with
multitude of wounds. His head, separated from his body, and
placed on a lance, was carried in triumph to the Praetorian camp,
in the sight of a mournful and indignant people, who lamented the
unworthy fate of that excellent prince, and the transient

blessings of a reign, the memory of which could serve only to
aggravate their approaching misfortunes. ^56

[Footnote 55: The modern bishopric of Liege. This soldier
probably belonged to the Batavian horse-guards, who were mostly
raised in the duchy of Gueldres and the neighborhood, and were
distinguished by their valor, and by the boldness with which they
swam their horses across the broadest and most rapid rivers.
Tacit. Hist. iv. 12 Dion, l. lv p. 797 Lipsius de magnitudine
Romana, l. i. c. 4.

[Footnote 56: Dion, l. lxxiii. p. 1232. Herodian, l. ii. p. 60.
Hist. August. p. 58. Victor in Epitom. et in Caesarib. Eutropius,

viii. 16.
Chapter V: Sale Of The Empire To Didius Julianus.

Part I.

Public Sale Of The Empire To Didius Julianus By The Praetorian
Guards - Clodius Albinus In Britain, Pescennius Niger In Syria,
And Septimius Severus In Pannonia, Declare Against The Murderers
Of Pertinax - Civil Wars And Victory Of Severus Over His Three
Rivals - Relaxation Of Discipline - New Maxims Of Government.

The power of the sword is more sensibly felt in an extensive
monarchy, than in a small community. It has been calculated by
the ablest politicians, that no state, without being soon
exhausted, can maintain above the hundredth part of its members in
arms and idleness. But although this relative proportion may be
uniform, the influence of the army over the rest of the society
will vary according to the degree of its positive strength. The
advantages of military science and discipline cannot be exerted,
unless a proper number of soldiers are united into one body, and
actuated by one soul. With a handful of men, such a union would be
ineffectual; with an unwieldy host, it would be impracticable; and
the powers of the machine would be alike destroyed by the extreme
minuteness or the excessive weight of its springs. To illustrate
this observation, we need only reflect, that there is no
superiority of natural strength, artificial weapons, or acquired
skill, which could enable one man to keep in constant subjection
one hundred of his fellow-creatures: the tyrant of a single town,
or a small district, would soon discover that a hundred armed
followers were a weak defence against ten thousand peasants or
citizens; but a hundred thousand well-disciplined soldiers will
command, with despotic sway, ten millions of subjects; and a body
of ten or fifteen thousand guards will strike terror into the most
numerous populace that ever crowded the streets of an immense
capital. The Praetorian bands, whose licentious fury was the first
symptom and cause of the decline of the Roman empire, scarcely
amounted to the last- mentioned number ^1 They derived their
institution from Augustus. That crafty tyrant, sensible that laws

might color, but that arms alone could maintain, his usurped
dominion, had gradually formed this powerful body of guards, in
constant readiness to protect his person, to awe the senate, and
either to prevent or to crush the first motions of rebellion. He
distinguished these favored troops by a double pay and superior
privileges; but, as their formidable aspect would at once have
alarmed and irritated the Roman people, three cohorts only were
stationed in the capital, whilst the remainder was dispersed in
the adjacent towns of Italy. ^2 But after fifty years of peace and
servitude, Tiberius ventured on a decisive measure, which forever
rivetted the fetters of his country. Under the fair pretences of
relieving Italy from the heavy burden of military quarters, and of
introducing a stricter discipline among the guards, he assembled
them at Rome, in a permanent camp, ^3 which was fortified with
skilful care, ^4 and placed on a commanding situation. ^

[Footnote 1: They were originally nine or ten thousand men, (for
Tacitus and son are not agreed upon the subject,) divided into as
many cohorts. Vitellius increased them to sixteen thousand, and as
far as we can learn from inscriptions, they never afterwards sunk
much below that number. See Lipsius de magnitudine Romana, i. 4.

[Footnote 2: Sueton. in August. c. 49.

[Footnote 3: Tacit. Annal. iv. 2. Sueton. in Tiber. c. 37. Dion
Cassius, l. lvii. p. 867.

[Footnote 4: In the civil war between Vitellius and Vespasian, the
Praetorian camp was attacked and defended with all the machines
used in the siege of the best fortified cities. Tacit. Hist. iii.

[Footnote 5: Close to the walls of the city, on the broad summit
of the Quirinal and Viminal hills. See Nardini Roma Antica, p.

174. Donatus de Roma Antiqua, p. 46.
Note: Not on both these hills: neither Donatus nor Nardini justify
this position. (Whitaker's Review. p. 13.) At the northern
extremity of this hill (the Viminal) are some considerable remains
of a walled enclosure which bears all the appearance of a Roman
camp, and therefore is generally thought to correspond with the
Castra Praetoria. Cramer's Italy 390. - M.] Such formidable
servants are always necessary, but often fatal to the throne of
despotism. By thus introducing the Praetorian guards as it were
into the palace and the senate, the emperors taught them to
perceive their own strength, and the weakness of the civil
government; to view the vices of their masters with familiar
contempt, and to lay aside that reverential awe, which distance
only, and mystery, can preserve towards an imaginary power. In the
luxurious idleness of an opulent city, their pride was nourished
by the sense of their irresistible weight; nor was it possible to
conceal from them, that the person of the sovereign, the authority

of the senate, the public treasure, and the seat of empire, were
all in their hands. To divert the Praetorian bands from these
dangerous reflections, the firmest and best established princes
were obliged to mix blandishments with commands, rewards with
punishments, to flatter their pride, indulge their pleasures,
connive at their irregularities, and to purchase their precarious
faith by a liberal donative; which, since the elevation of
Claudius, was enacted as a legal claim, on the accession of every
new emperor. ^

[Footnote 6: Claudius, raised by the soldiers to the empire, was
the first who gave a donative. He gave quina dena, 120l. (Sueton.
in Claud. c. 10: ) when Marcus, with his colleague Lucius Versus,
took quiet possession of the throne, he gave vicena, 160l. to each
of the guards. Hist. August. p. 25, (Dion, l. lxxiii. p. 1231.
We may form some idea of the amount of these sums, by Hadrian's
complaint that the promotion of a Caesar had cost him ter millies,
two millions and a half sterling.

The advocate of the guards endeavored to justify by arguments the
power which they asserted by arms; and to maintain that, according
to the purest principles of the constitution, their consent was
essentially necessary in the appointment of an emperor. The
election of consuls, of generals, and of magistrates, however it
had been recently usurped by the senate, was the ancient and
undoubted right of the Roman people. ^7 But where was the Roman
people to be found? Not surely amongst the mixed multitude of
slaves and strangers that filled the streets of Rome; a servile
populace, as devoid of spirit as destitute of property. The
defenders of the state, selected from the flower of the Italian
youth, ^8 and trained in the exercise of arms and virtue, were the
genuine representatives of the people, and the best entitled to
elect the military chief of the republic. These assertions,
however defective in reason, became unanswerable when the fierce
Praetorians increased their weight, by throwing, like the
barbarian conqueror of Rome, their swords into the scale. ^

[Footnote 7: Cicero de Legibus, iii. 3. The first book of Livy,
and the second of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, show the authority
of the people, even in the election of the kings.

[Footnote 8: They were originally recruited in Latium, Etruria,
and the old colonies, (Tacit. Annal. iv. 5.) The emperor Otho
compliments their vanity with the flattering titles of Italiae,
Alumni, Romana were juventus. Tacit. Hist. i. 84.

[Footnote 9: In the siege of Rome by the Gauls. See Livy, v. 48.
Plutarch. in Camill. p. 143.] The Praetorians had violated the
sanctity of the throne by the atrocious murder of Pertinax; they
dishonored the majesty of it by their subsequent conduct. The
camp was without a leader, for even the praefect Laetus, who had
excited the tempest, prudently declined the public indignation.

Amidst the wild disorder, Sulpicianus, the emperor's father-in-
law, and governor of the city, who had been sent to the camp on
the first alarm of mutiny, was endeavoring to calm the fury of the
multitude, when he was silenced by the clamorous return of the
murderers, bearing on a lance the head of Pertinax. Though history
has accustomed us to observe every principle and every passion
yielding to the imperious dictates of ambition, it is scarcely
credible that, in these moments of horror, Sulpicianus should have
aspired to ascend a throne polluted with the recent blood of so
near a relation and so excellent a prince. He had already begun
to use the only effectual argument, and to treat for the Imperial
dignity; but the more prudent of the Praetorians, apprehensive
that, in this private contract, they should not obtain a just
price for so valuable a commodity, ran out upon the ramparts; and,
with a loud voice, proclaimed that the Roman world was to be
disposed of to the best bidder by public auction. ^10

[Footnote 10: Dion, L. lxxiii. p. 1234. Herodian, l. ii. p. 63.
Hist. August p. 60. Though the three historians agree that it was
in fact an auction, Herodian alone affirms that it was proclaimed
as such by the soldiers.

This infamous offer, the most insolent excess of military license,
diffused a universal grief, shame, and indignation throughout the
city. It reached at length the ears of Didius Julianus, a wealthy
senator, who, regardless of the public calamities, was indulging
himself in the luxury of the table. ^11 His wife and his daughter,
his freedmen and his parasites, easily convinced him that he
deserved the throne, and earnestly conjured him to embrace so
fortunate an opportunity. The vain old man hastened to the
Praetorian camp, where Sulpicianus was still in treaty with the
guards, and began to bid against him from the foot of the rampart.
The unworthy negotiation was transacted by faithful emissaries,
who passed alternately from one candidate to the other, and
acquainted each of them with the offers of his rival. Sulpicianus
had already promised a donative of five thousand drachms (above
one hundred and sixty pounds) to each soldier; when Julian, eager
for the prize, rose at once to the sum of six thousand two hundred
and fifty drachms, or upwards of two hundred pounds sterling. The
gates of the camp were instantly thrown open to the purchaser; he
was declared emperor, and received an oath of allegiance from the
soldiers, who retained humanity enough to stipulate that he should
pardon and forget the competition of Sulpicianus. ^

[Footnote 11: Spartianus softens the most odious parts of the
character and elevation of Julian.

[Footnote *: One of the principal causes of the preference of
Julianus by the soldiers, was the dexterty dexterity with which he
reminded them that Sulpicianus would not fail to revenge on them
the death of his son-in-law. (See Dion, p. 1234, 1234. c. 11.
Herod. ii. 6.) - W.

It was now incumbent on the Praetorians to fulfil the conditions
of the sale. They placed their new sovereign, whom they served
and despised, in the centre of their ranks, surrounded him on
every side with their shields, and conducted him in close order of
battle through the deserted streets of the city. The senate was
commanded to assemble; and those who had been the distinguished
friends of Pertinax, or the personal enemies of Julian, found it
necessary to affect a more than common share of satisfaction at
this happy revolution. ^12 After Julian had filled the senate
house with armed soldiers, he expatiated on the freedom of his
election, his own eminent virtues, and his full assurance of the
affections of the senate. The obsequious assembly congratulated
their own and the public felicity; engaged their allegiance, and
conferred on him all the several branches of the Imperial power.
^13 From the senate Julian was conducted, by the same military
procession, to take possession of the palace. The first objects
that struck his eyes, were the abandoned trunk of Pertinax, and
the frugal entertainment prepared for his supper. The one he
viewed with indifference, the other with contempt. A magnificent
feast was prepared by his order, and he amused himself, till
very late hour, with dice, and the performances of Pylades,
celebrated dancer. Yet it was observed, that after the crowd of
flatterers dispersed, and left him to darkness, solitude, and
terrible reflection, he passed a sleepless night; revolving most
probably in his mind his own rash folly, the fate of his virtuous
predecessor, and the doubtful and dangerous tenure of an empire
which had not been acquired by merit, but purchased by money. ^14
[Footnote 12: Dion Cassius, at that time praetor, had been
personal enemy to Julian, i. lxxiii. p. 1235.

[Footnote 13: Hist. August. p. 61. We learn from thence one
curious circumstance, that the new emperor, whatever had been his
birth, was immediately aggregated to the number of patrician
families. Note: A new fragment of Dion shows some shrewdness in
the character of Julian. When the senate voted him a golden
statue, he preferred one of brass, as more lasting. He "had
always observed," he said, "that the statues of former emperors
were soon destroyed. Those of brass alone remained." The
indignant historian adds that he was wrong. The virtue of
sovereigns alone preserves their images: the brazen statue of
Julian was broken to pieces at his death. Mai. Fragm. Vatican. p.

226. - M.
[Footnote 14: Dion, l. lxxiii. p. 1235. Hist. August. p. 61.
have endeavored to blend into one consistent story the seeming
contradictions of the two writers.

Note: The contradiction as M. Guizot observed, is irreconcilable.
He quotes both passages: in one Julianus is represented as
miser, in the other as a voluptuary. In the one he refuses to eat
till the body of Pertinax has been buried; in the other he gluts

himself with every luxury almost in the sight of his headless
remains. - M.

He had reason to tremble. On the throne of the world he found
himself without a friend, and even without an adherent. The guards
themselves were ashamed of the prince whom their avarice had
persuaded them to accept; nor was there a citizen who did not
consider his elevation with horror, as the last insult on the
Roman name. The nobility, whose conspicuous station, and ample
possessions, exacted the strictest caution, dissembled their
sentiments, and met the affected civility of the emperor with
smiles of complacency and professions of duty. But the people,
secure in their numbers and obscurity, gave a free vent to their
passions. The streets and public places of Rome resounded with
clamors and imprecations. The enraged multitude affronted the
person of Julian, rejected his liberality, and, conscious of the
impotence of their own resentment, they called aloud on the
legions of the frontiers to assert the violated majesty of the
Roman empire. The public discontent was soon diffused from the
centre to the frontiers of the empire. The armies of Britain, of
Syria, and of Illyricum, lamented the death of Pertinax, in whose
company, or under whose command, they had so often fought and
conquered. They received with surprise, with indignation, and
perhaps with envy, the extraordinary intelligence, that the
Praetorians had disposed of the empire by public auction; and they
sternly refused to ratify the ignominious bargain. Their
immediate and unanimous revolt was fatal to Julian, but it was
fatal at the same time to the public peace, as the generals of the
respective armies, Clodius Albinus, Pescennius Niger, and
Septimius Severus, were still more anxious to succeed than to
revenge the murdered Pertinax. Their forces were exactly
balanced. Each of them was at the head of three legions, ^15 with
a numerous train of auxiliaries; and however different in their
characters, they were all soldiers of experience and capacity.

[Footnote 15: Dion, l. lxxiii. p. 1235.

Clodius Albinus, governor of Britain, surpassed both his
competitors in the nobility of his extraction, which he derived
from some of the most illustrious names of the old republic. ^16
But the branch from which he claimed his descent was sunk into
mean circumstances, and transplanted into a remote province. It
is difficult to form a just idea of his true character. Under the
philosophic cloak of austerity, he stands accused of concealing
most of the vices which degrade human nature. ^17 But his accusers
are those venal writers who adored the fortune of Severus, and
trampled on the ashes of an unsuccessful rival. Virtue, or the
appearances of virtue, recommended Albinus to the confidence and
good opinion of Marcus; and his preserving with the son the same
interest which he had acquired with the father, is a proof at
least that he was possessed of a very flexible disposition. The
favor of a tyrant does not always suppose a want of merit in the

object of it; he may, without intending it, reward a man of worth
and ability, or he may find such a man useful to his own service.
It does not appear that Albinus served the son of Marcus, either
as the minister of his cruelties, or even as the associate of his
pleasures. He was employed in a distant honorable command, when
he received a confidential letter from the emperor, acquainting
him of the treasonable designs of some discontented generals, and
authorizing him to declare himself the guardian and successor of
the throne, by assuming the title and ensigns of Caesar. ^18 The
governor of Britain wisely declined the dangerous honor, which
would have marked him for the jealousy, or involved him in the
approaching ruin, of Commodus. He courted power by nobler, or, at
least, by more specious arts. On a premature report of the death
of the emperor, he assembled his troops; and, in an eloquent
discourse, deplored the inevitable mischiefs of despotism,
described the happiness and glory which their ancestors had
enjoyed under the consular government, and declared his firm
resolution to reinstate the senate and people in their legal
authority. This popular harangue was answered by the loud
acclamations of the British legions, and received at Rome with
secret murmur of applause. Safe in the possession of his little
world, and in the command of an army less distinguished indeed for
discipline than for numbers and valor, ^19 Albinus braved the
menaces of Commodus, maintained towards Pertinax a stately
ambiguous reserve, and instantly declared against the usurpation
of Julian. The convulsions of the capital added new weight to his
sentiments, or rather to his professions of patriotism. A regard
to decency induced him to decline the lofty titles of Augustus and
Emperor; and he imitated perhaps the example of Galba, who, on
similar occasion, had styled himself the Lieutenant of the senate
and people. ^20

[Footnote 16: The Posthumian and the Ce'onian; the former of whom
was raised to the consulship in the fifth year after its
institution.] [Footnote 17: Spartianus, in his undigested
collections, mixes up all the virtues and all the vices that enter
into the human composition, and bestows them on the same object.
Such, indeed are many of the characters in the Augustan History.

[Footnote 18: Hist. August. p. 80, 84.

[Footnote 19: Pertinax, who governed Britain a few years before,
had been left for dead, in a mutiny of the soldiers. Hist.
August. p 54. Yet they loved and regretted him; admirantibus eam
virtutem cui irascebantur.] [Footnote 20: Sueton. in Galb. c. 10.

Personal merit alone had raised Pescennius Niger, from an obscure
birth and station, to the government of Syria; a lucrative and
important command, which in times of civil confusion gave him
near prospect of the throne. Yet his parts seem to have been
better suited to the second than to the first rank; he was an
unequal rival, though he might have approved himself an excellent

lieutenant, to Severus, who afterwards displayed the greatness of
his mind by adopting several useful institutions from a vanquished
enemy. ^21 In his government Niger acquired the esteem of the
soldiers and the love of the provincials. His rigid discipline
foritfied the valor and confirmed the obedience of the former,
whilst the voluptuous Syrians were less delighted with the mild
firmness of his administration, than with the affability of his
manners, and the apparent pleasure with which he attended their
frequent and pompous festivals. ^22 As soon as the intelligence of
the atrocious murder of Pertinax had reached Antioch, the wishes
of Asia invited Niger to assume the Imperial purple and revenge
his death. The legions of the eastern frontier embraced his
cause; the opulent but unarmed provinces, from the frontiers of
Aethiopia ^23 to the Hadriatic, cheerfully submitted to his power;
and the kings beyond the Tigris and the Euphrates congratulated
his election, and offered him their homage and services. The mind
of Niger was not capable of receiving this sudden tide of fortune:
he flattered himself that his accession would be undisturbed by
competition and unstained by civil blood; and whilst he enjoyed
the vain pomp of triumph, he neglected to secure the means of
victory. Instead of entering into an effectual negotiation with
the powerful armies of the West, whose resolution might decide, or
at least must balance, the mighty contest; instead of advancing
without delay towards Rome and Italy, where his presence was
impatiently expected, ^24 Niger trifled away in the luxury of
Antioch those irretrievable moments which were diligently improved
by the decisive activity of Severus. ^25 [Footnote 21: Hist.
August. p. 76.

[Footnote 22: Herod. l. ii. p. 68. The Chronicle of John Malala,
of Antioch, shows the zealous attachment of his countrymen to
these festivals, which at once gratified their superstition, and
their love of pleasure.] [Footnote 23: A king of Thebes, in Egypt,
is mentioned, in the Augustan History, as an ally, and, indeed, as
a personal friend of Niger. If Spartianus is not, as I strongly
suspect, mistaken, he has brought to light a dynasty of tributary
princes totally unknown to history.] [Footnote 24: Dion, l.

lxxiii. p. 1238. Herod. l. ii. p. 67. A verse in every one's
mouth at that time, seems to express the general opinion of the
three rivals; Optimus est Niger, [Fuscus, which preserves the
quantity. - M.] bonus After, pessimus Albus. Hist. August. p. 75.
[Footnote 25: Herodian, l. ii. p. 71.

The country of Pannonia and Dalmatia, which occupied the space
between the Danube and the Hadriatic, was one of the last and most
difficult conquests of the Romans. In the defence of national
freedom, two hundred thousand of these barbarians had once
appeared in the field, alarmed the declining age of Augustus, and
exercised the vigilant prudence of Tiberius at the head of the
collected force of the empire. ^26 The Pannonians yielded at
length to the arms and institutions of Rome. Their recent

subjection, however, the neighborhood, and even the mixture, of
the unconquered tribes, and perhaps the climate, adapted, as it
has been observed, to the production of great bodies and slow
minds, ^27 all contributed to preserve some remains of their
original ferocity, and under the tame and uniform countenance of
Roman provincials, the hardy features of the natives were still to
be discerned. Their warlike youth afforded an inexhaustible
supply of recruits to the legions stationed on the banks of the
Danube, and which, from a perpetual warfare against the Germans
and Sarmazans, were deservedly esteemed the best troops in the

[Footnote 26: See an account of that memorable war in Velleius
Paterculus, is 110, &c., who served in the army of Tiberius.

[Footnote 27: Such is the reflection of Herodian, l. ii. p. 74.
Will the modern Austrians allow the influence?

The Pannonian army was at this time commanded by Septimius
Severus, a native of Africa, who, in the gradual ascent of private
honors, had concealed his daring ambition, which was never
diverted from its steady course by the allurements of pleasure,
the apprehension of danger, or the feelings of humanity. ^28 On
the first news of the murder of Pertinax, he assembled his troops,
painted in the most lively colors the crime, the insolence, and
the weakness of the Praetorian guards, and animated the legions to
arms and to revenge. He concluded (and the peroration was thought
extremely eloquent) with promising every soldier about four
hundred pounds; an honorable donative, double in value to the
infamous bribe with which Julian had purchased the empire. ^29 The
acclamations of the army immediately saluted Severus with the
names of Augustus, Pertinax, and Emperor; and he thus attained the
lofty station to which he was invited, by conscious merit and
long train of dreams and omens, the fruitful offsprings either of
his superstition or policy. ^30

[Footnote 28: In the letter to Albinus, already mentioned,
Commodus accuses Severus, as one of the ambitious generals who
censured his conduct, and wished to occupy his place. Hist.
August. p. 80.

[Footnote 29: Pannonia was too poor to supply such a sum. It was
probably promised in the camp, and paid at Rome, after the
victory. In fixing the sum, I have adopted the conjecture of
Casaubon. See Hist. August. p. 66. Comment. p. 115.

[Footnote 30: Herodian, l. ii. p. 78. Severus was declared
emperor on the banks of the Danube, either at Carnuntum, according
to Spartianus, (Hist. August. p. 65,) or else at Sabaria,
according to Victor. Mr. Hume, in supposing that the birth and
dignity of Severus were too much inferior to the Imperial crown,
and that he marched into Italy as general only, has not considered

this transaction with his usual accuracy, (Essay on the original

Note: Carnuntum, opposite to the mouth of the Morava: its position
is doubtful, either Petronel or Haimburg. A little intermediate
village seems to indicate by its name (Altenburg) the site of an
old town. D'Anville Geogr. Anc. Sabaria, now Sarvar. - G. Compare
note 37. - M.

The new candidate for empire saw and improved the peculiar
advantage of his situation. His province extended to the Julian
Alps, which gave an easy access into Italy; and he remembered the
saying of Augustus, That a Pannonian army might in ten days appear
in sight of Rome. ^31 By a celerity proportioned to the greatness
of the occasion, he might reasonably hope to revenge Pertinax,
punish Julian, and receive the homage of the senate and people, as
their lawful emperor, before his competitors, separated from Italy
by an immense tract of sea and land, were apprised of his success,
or even of his election. During the whole expedition, he scarcely
allowed himself any moments for sleep or food; marching on foot,
and in complete armor, at the head of his columns, he insinuated
himself into the confidence and affection of his troops, pressed
their diligence, revived their spirits, animated their hopes, and
was well satisfied to share the hardships of the meanest soldier,
whilst he kept in view the infinite superiority of his reward.
[Footnote 31: Velleius Paterculus, l. ii. c. 3. We must reckon
the march from the nearest verge of Pannonia, and extend the sight
of the city as far as two hundred miles.

The wretched Julian had expected, and thought himself prepared, to
dispute the empire with the governor of Syria; but in the
invincible and rapid approach of the Pannonian legions, he saw his
inevitable ruin. The hasty arrival of every messenger increased
his just apprehensions. He was successively informed, that
Severus had passed the Alps; that the Italian cities, unwilling or
unable to oppose his progress, had received him with the warmest
professions of joy and duty; that the important place of Ravenna
had surrendered without resistance, and that the Hadriatic fleet
was in the hands of the conqueror. The enemy was now within two
hundred and fifty miles of Rome; and every moment diminished the
narrow span of life and empire allotted to Julian.

He attempted, however, to prevent, or at least to protract, his
ruin. He implored the venal faith of the Praetorians, filled the
city with unavailing preparations for war, drew lines round the
suburbs, and even strengthened the fortifications of the palace;
as if those last intrenchments could be defended, without hope of
relief, against a victorious invader. Fear and shame prevented the
guards from deserting his standard; but they trembled at the name
of the Pannonian legions, commanded by an experienced general, and
accustomed to vanquish the barbarians on the frozen Danube. ^32
They quitted, with a sigh, the pleasures of the baths and

theatres, to put on arms, whose use they had almost forgotten, and
beneath the weight of which they were oppressed. The unpractised
elephants, whose uncouth appearance, it was hoped, would strike
terror into the army of the north, threw their unskilful riders;
and the awkward evolutions of the marines, drawn from the fleet of
Misenum, were an object of ridicule to the populace; whilst the
senate enjoyed, with secret pleasure, the distress and weakness of
the usurper. ^33

[Footnote 32: This is not a puerile figure of rhetoric, but an
allusion to a real fact recorded by Dion, l. lxxi. p. 1181. It
probably happened more than once.

[Footnote 33: Dion, l. lxxiii. p. 1233. Herodian, l. ii. p. 81.
There is no surer proof of the military skill of the Romans, than
their first surmounting the idle terror, and afterwards disdaining
the dangerous use, of elephants in war.

Note: These elephants were kept for processions, perhaps for the
games. Se Herod. in loc. - M.

Every motion of Julian betrayed his trembling perplexity. He
insisted that Severus should be declared a public enemy by the
senate. He entreated that the Pannonian general might be
associated to the empire. He sent public ambassadors of consular
rank to negotiate with his rival; he despatched private assassins
to take away his life. He designed that the Vestal virgins, and
all the colleges of priests, in their sacerdotal habits, and
bearing before them the sacred pledges of the Roman religion,
should advance in solemn procession to meet the Pannonian legions;
and, at the same time, he vainly tried to interrogate, or to
appease, the fates, by magic ceremonies and unlawful sacrifices.

[Footnote 34: Hist. August. p. 62, 63.

Note: Quae ad speculum dicunt fieri in quo pueri praeligatis
oculis, incantate..., respicere dicuntur. * * * Tuncque puer
vidisse dicitur et adventun Severi et Juliani decessionem. This
seems to have been a practice somewhat similar to that of which
our recent Egyptian travellers relate such extraordinary
circumstances. See also Apulius, Orat. de Magia. - M.

Chapter V: Sale Of The Empire To Didius Julianus.

Part II.

Severus, who dreaded neither his arms nor his enchantments,
guarded himself from the only danger of secret conspiracy, by the
faithful attendance of six hundred chosen men, who never quitted
his person or their cuirasses, either by night or by day, during
the whole march. Advancing with a steady and rapid course, he

passed, without difficulty, the defiles of the Apennine, received
into his party the troops and ambassadors sent to retard his
progress, and made a short halt at Interamnia, about seventy miles
from Rome. His victory was already secure, but the despair of the
Praetorians might have rendered it bloody; and Severus had the
laudable ambition of ascending the throne without drawing the
sword. ^35 His emissaries, dispersed in the capital, assured the
guards, that provided they would abandon their worthless prince,
and the perpetrators of the murder of Pertinax, to the justice of
the conqueror, he would no longer consider that melancholy event
as the act of the whole body. The faithless Praetorians, whose
resistance was supported only by sullen obstinacy, gladly complied
with the easy conditions, seized the greatest part of the
assassins, and signified to the senate, that they no longer
defended the cause of Julian. That assembly, convoked by the
consul, unanimously acknowledged Severus as lawful emperor,
decreed divine honors to Pertinax, and pronounced a sentence of
deposition and death against his unfortunate successor. Julian
was conducted into a private apartment of the baths of the palace,
and beheaded as a common criminal, after having purchased, with an
immense treasure, an anxious and precarious reign of only sixty-
six days. ^36 The almost incredible expedition of Severus, who, in
so short a space of time, conducted a numerous army from the banks
of the Danube to those of the Tyber, proves at once the plenty of
provisions produced by agriculture and commerce, the goodness of
the roads, the discipline of the legions, and the indolent,
subdued temper of the provinces. ^37 [Footnote 35: Victor and
Eutropius, viii. 17, mention a combat near the Milvian bridge, the
Ponte Molle, unknown to the better and more ancient writers.

[Footnote 36: Dion, l. lxxiii. p. 1240. Herodian, l. ii. p. 83.
Hist. August. p. 63.

[Footnote 37: From these sixty-six days, we must first deduct
sixteen, as Pertinax was murdered on the 28th of March, and
Severus most probably elected on the 13th of April, (see Hist.
August. p. 65, and Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. iii. p.
393, note 7.) We cannot allow less than ten days after his
election, to put a numerous army in motion. Forty days remain for
this rapid march; and as we may compute about eight hundred miles
from Rome to the neighborhood of Vienna, the army of Severus
marched twenty miles every day, without halt or intermission.

The first cares of Severus were bestowed on two measures the one
dictated by policy, the other by decency; the revenge, and the
honors, due to the memory of Pertinax. Before the new emperor
entered Rome, he issued his commands to the Praetorian guards,
directing them to wait his arrival on a large plain near the city,
without arms, but in the habits of ceremony, in which they were
accustomed to attend their sovereign. He was obeyed by those
haughty troops, whose contrition was the effect of their just
terrors. A chosen part of the Illyrian army encompassed them with

levelled spears. Incapable of flight or resistance, they expected
their fate in silent consternation. Severus mounted the tribunal,
sternly reproached them with perfidy and cowardice, dismissed them
with ignominy from the trust which they had betrayed, despoiled
them of their splendid ornaments, and banished them, on pain of
death, to the distance of a hundred miles from the capital. During
the transaction, another detachment had been sent to seize their
arms, occupy their camp, and prevent the hasty consequences of
their despair. ^38 [Footnote 38: Dion, l. lxxiv. p. 1241.
Herodian, l. ii. p. 84.] The funeral and consecration of Pertinax
was next solemnized with every circumstance of sad magnificence.
^39 The senate, with a melancholy pleasure, performed the last
rites to that excellent prince, whom they had loved, and still
regretted. The concern of his successor was probably less
sincere; he esteemed the virtues of Pertinax, but those virtues
would forever have confined his ambition to a private station.
Severus pronounced his funeral oration with studied eloquence,
inward satisfaction, and well-acted sorrow; and by this pious
regard to his memory, convinced the credulous multitude, that he
alone was worthy to supply his place. Sensible, however, that
arms, not ceremonies, must assert his claim to the empire, he left
Rome at the end of thirty days, and without suffering himself to
be elated by this easy victory, prepared to encounter his more
formidable rivals. [Footnote 39: Dion, (l. lxxiv. p. 1244,) who
assisted at the ceremony as a senator, gives a most pompous
description of it.

The uncommon abilities and fortune of Severus have induced an
elegant historian to compare him with the first and greatest of
the Caesars. ^40 The parallel is, at least, imperfect. Where
shall we find, in the character of Severus, the commanding
superiority of soul, the generous clemency, and the various
genius, which could reconcile and unite the love of pleasure, the
thirst of knowledge, and the fire of ambition? ^41 In one instance
only, they may be compared, with some degree of propriety, in the
celerity of their motions, and their civil victories. In less
than four years, ^42 Severus subdued the riches of the East, and
the valor of the West. He vanquished two competitors of
reputation and ability, and defeated numerous armies, provided
with weapons and discipline equal to his own. In that age, the art
of fortification, and the principles of tactics, were well
understood by all the Roman generals; and the constant superiority
of Severus was that of an artist, who uses the same instruments
with more skill and industry than his rivals. I shall not,
however, enter into a minute narrative of these military
operations; but as the two civil wars against Niger and against
Albinus were almost the same in their conduct, event, and
consequences, I shall collect into one point of view the most
striking circumstances, tending to develop the character of the
conqueror and the state of the empire. [Footnote 40: Herodian, l.

iii. p. 112]

[Footnote 41: Though it is not, most assuredly, the intention of
Lucan to exalt the character of Caesar, yet the idea he gives of
that hero, in the tenth book of the Pharsalia, where he describes
him, at the same time, making love to Cleopatra, sustaining
siege against the power of Egypt, and conversing with the sages of
the country, is, in reality, the noblest panegyric.

Note: Lord Byron wrote, no doubt, from a reminiscence of that
passage - "It is possible to be a very great man, and to be still
very inferior to Julius Caesar, the most complete character, so
Lord Bacon thought, of all antiquity. Nature seems incapable of
such extraordinary combinations as composed his versatile
capacity, which was the wonder even of the Romans themselves. The
first general; the only triumphant politician; inferior to none in
point of eloquence; comparable to any in the attainments of
wisdom, in an age made up of the greatest commanders, statesmen,
orators, and philosophers, that ever appeared in the world; an
author who composed a perfect specimen of military annals in his
travelling carriage; at one time in a controversy with Cato, at
another writing a treatise on punuing, and collecting a set of
good sayings; fighting and making love at the same moment, and
willing to abandon both his empire and his mistress for a sight of
the fountains of the Nile. Such did Julius Caesar appear to his
contemporaries, and to those of the subsequent ages who were the
most inclined to deplore and execrate his fatal genius." Note 47
to Canto iv. of Childe Harold. - M.] [Footnote 42: Reckoning from
his election, April 13, 193, to the death of Albinus, February 19,

197. See Tillemont's Chronology.
Falsehood and insincerity, unsuitable as they seem to the dignity
of public transactions, offend us with a less degrading idea of
meanness, than when they are found in the intercourse of private
life. In the latter, they discover a want of courage; in the
other, only a defect of power: and, as it is impossible for the
most able statesmen to subdue millions of followers and enemies by
their own personal strength, the world, under the name of policy,
seems to have granted them a very liberal indulgence of craft and
dissimulation. Yet the arts of Severus cannot be justified by the
most ample privileges of state reason. He promised only to
betray, he flattered only to ruin; and however he might
occasionally bind himself by oaths and treaties, his conscience,
obsequious to his interest, always released him from the
inconvenient obligation. ^43

[Footnote 43: Herodian, l. ii. p. 85.

If his two competitors, reconciled by their common danger, had
advanced upon him without delay, perhaps Severus would have sunk
under their united effort. Had they even attacked him, at the
same time, with separate views and separate armies, the contest
might have been long and doubtful. But they fell, singly and
successively, an easy prey to the arts as well as arms of their

subtle enemy, lulled into security by the moderation of his
professions, and overwhelmed by the rapidity of his action. He
first marched against Niger, whose reputation and power he the
most dreaded: but he declined any hostile declarations, suppressed
the name of his antagonist, and only signified to the senate and
people his intention of regulating the eastern provinces. In
private, he spoke of Niger, his old friend and intended successor,
^44 with the most affectionate regard, and highly applauded his
generous design of revenging the murder of Pertinax. To punish
the vile usurper of the throne, was the duty of every Roman
general. To persevere in arms, and to resist a lawful emperor,
acknowledged by the senate, would alone render him criminal. ^45
The sons of Niger had fallen into his hands among the children of
the provincial governors, detained at Rome as pledges for the
loyalty of their parents. ^46 As long as the power of Niger
inspired terror, or even respect, they were educated with the most
tender care, with the children of Severus himself; but they were
soon involved in their father's ruin, and removed first by exile,
and afterwards by death, from the eye of public compassion. ^47
[Footnote 44: Whilst Severus was very dangerously ill, it was
industriously given out, that he intended to appoint Niger and
Albinus his successors. As he could not be sincere with respect
to both, he might not be so with regard to either. Yet Severus
carried his hypocrisy so far, as to profess that intention in the
memoirs of his own life.

[Footnote 45: Hist. August. p. 65.

[Footnote 46: This practice, invented by Commodus, proved very
useful to Severus. He found at Rome the children of many of the
principal adherents of his rivals; and he employed them more than
once to intimidate, or seduce, the parents.

[Footnote 47: Herodian, l. iii. p. 95. Hist. August. p. 67, 68.
Whilst Severus was engaged in his eastern war, he had reason to
apprehend that the governor of Britain might pass the sea and the
Alps, occupy the vacant seat of empire, and oppose his return with
the authority of the senate and the forces of the West. The
ambiguous conduct of Albinus, in not assuming the Imperial title,
left room for negotiation. Forgetting, at once, his professions
of patriotism, and the jealousy of sovereign power, he accepted
the precarious rank of Caesar, as a reward for his fatal
neutrality. Till the first contest was decided, Severus treated
the man, whom he had doomed to destruction, with every mark of
esteem and regard. Even in the letter, in which he announced his
victory over Niger, he styles Albinus the brother of his soul and
empire, sends him the affectionate salutations of his wife Julia,
and his young family, and entreats him to preserve the armies and
the republic faithful to their common interest. The messengers
charged with this letter were instructed to accost the Caesar with
respect, to desire a private audience, and to plunge their daggers
into his heart. ^48 The conspiracy was discovered, and the too

credulous Albinus, at length, passed over to the continent, and
prepared for an unequal contest with his rival, who rushed upon
him at the head of a veteran and victorious army. [Footnote 48:
Hist. August. p. 84. Spartianus has inserted this curious letter
at full length.

The military labors of Severus seem inadequate to the importance
of his conquests. Two engagements, ^* the one near the
Hellespont, the other in the narrow defiles of Cilicia, decided
the fate of his Syrian competitor; and the troops of Europe
asserted their usual ascendant over the effeminate natives of
Asia. ^49 The battle of Lyons, where one hundred and fifty
thousand Romans ^50 were engaged, was equally fatal to Albinus.
The valor of the British army maintained, indeed, a sharp and
doubtful contest, with the hardy discipline of the Illyrian
legions. The fame and person of Severus appeared, during a few
moments, irrecoverably lost, till that warlike prince rallied his
fainting troops, and led them on to a decisive victory. ^51 The
war was finished by that memorable day. ^

[Footnote *: There were three actions; one near Cyzicus, on the
Hellespont, one near Nice, in Bithynia, the third near the Issus,
in Cilicia, where Alexander conquered Darius. (Dion, lxiv. c. 6.
Herodian, iii. 2, 4.) - W Herodian represents the second battle as
of less importance than Dion - M.] [Footnote 49: Consult the third
book of Herodian, and the seventy-fourth book of Dion Cassius.

[Footnote 50: Dion, l. lxxv. p. 1260.

[Footnote 51: Dion, l. lxxv. p. 1261. Herodian, l. iii. p. 110.
Hist. August. p. 68. The battle was fought in the plain of
Trevoux, three or four leagues from Lyons. See Tillemont, tom.

iii. p. 406, note 18.] [Footnote *: According to Herodian, it was
his lieutenant Laetus who led back the troops to the battle, and
gained the day, which Severus had almost lost. Dion also
attributes to Laetus a great share in the victory. Severus
afterwards put him to death, either from fear or jealousy. - W.
and G. Wenck and M. Guizot have not given the real statement of
Herodian or of Dion. According to the former, Laetus appeared with
his own army entire, which he was suspected of having designedly
kept disengaged when the battle was still doudtful, or rather
after the rout of severus. Dion says that he did not move till
Severus had won the victory. - M.
The civil wars of modern Europe have been distinguished, not only
by the fierce animosity, but likewise by the obstinate
perseverance, of the contending factions. They have generally
been justified by some principle, or, at least, colored by some
pretext, of religion, freedom, or loyalty. The leaders were
nobles of independent property and hereditary influence. The
troops fought like men interested in the decision of the quarrel;
and as military spirit and party zeal were strongly diffused

throughout the whole community, a vanquished chief was immediately
supplied with new adherents, eager to shed their blood in the same
cause. But the Romans, after the fall of the republic, combated
only for the choice of masters. Under the standard of a popular
candidate for empire, a few enlisted from affection, some from
fear, many from interest, none from principle. The legions,
uninflamed by party zeal, were allured into civil war by liberal
donatives, and still more liberal promises. A defeat, by
disabling the chief from the performance of his engagements,
dissolved the mercenary allegiance of his followers, and left them
to consult their own safety by a timely desertion of an
unsuccessful cause. It was of little moment to the provinces,
under whose name they were oppressed or governed; they were driven
by the impulsion of the present power, and as soon as that power
yielded to a superior force, they hastened to implore the clemency
of the conqueror, who, as he had an immense debt to discharge, was
obliged to sacrifice the most guilty countries to the avarice of
his soldiers. In the vast extent of the Roman empire, there were
few fortified cities capable of protecting a routed army; nor was
there any person, or family, or order of men, whose natural
interest, unsupported by the powers of government, was capable of
restoring the cause of a sinking party. ^52

[Footnote 52: Montesquieu, Considerations sur la Grandeur et la
Decadence des Romains, c. xiii.

Yet, in the contest between Niger and Severus, a single city
deserves an honorable exception. As Byzantium was one of the
greatest passages from Europe into Asia, it had been provided with
a strong garrison, and a fleet of five hundred vessels was
anchored in the harbor. ^53 The impetuosity of Severus
disappointed this prudent scheme of defence; he left to his
generals the siege of Byzantium, forced the less guarded passage
of the Hellespont, and, impatient of a meaner enemy, pressed
forward to encounter his rival. Byzantium, attacked by a numerous
and increasing army, and afterwards by the whole naval power of
the empire, sustained a siege of three years, and remained
faithful to the name and memory of Niger. The citizens and
soldiers (we know not from what cause) were animated with equal
fury; several of the principal officers of Niger, who despaired
of, or who disdained, a pardon, had thrown themselves into this
last refuge: the fortifications were esteemed impregnable, and, in
the defence of the place, a celebrated engineer displayed all the
mechanic powers known to the ancients. ^54 Byzantium, at length,
surrendered to famine. The magistrates and soldiers were put to
the sword, the walls demolished, the privileges suppressed, and
the destined capital of the East subsisted only as an open
village, subject to the insulting jurisdiction of Perinthus. The
historian Dion, who had admired the flourishing, and lamented the
desolate, state of Byzantium, accused the revenge of Severus, for
depriving the Roman people of the strongest bulwark against the
barbarians of Pontus and Asia ^55 The truth of this observation

was but too well justified in the succeeding age, when the Gothic
fleets covered the Euxine, and passed through the undefined
Bosphorus into the centre of the Mediterranean.

[Footnote 53: Most of these, as may be supposed, were small open
vessels; some, however, were galleys of two, and a few of three
ranks of oars.] [Footnote 54: The engineer's name was Priscus.
His skill saved his life, and he was taken into the service of the
conqueror. For the particular facts of the siege, consult Dion
Cassius (l. lxxv. p. 1251) and Herodian, (l. iii. p. 95;) for the
theory of it, the fanciful chevalier de Folard may be looked into.
See Polybe, tom. i. p. 76.

[Footnote 55 : Notwithstanding the authority of Spartianus, and
some modern Greeks, we may be assured, from Dion and Herodian,
that Byzantium, many years after the death of Severus, lay in

Footnote *: There is no contradiction between the relation of Dion
and that of Spartianus and the modern Greeks. Dion does not say
that Severus destroyed Byzantium, but that he deprived it of its
franchises and privileges, stripped the inhabitants of their
property, razed the fortifications, and subjected the city to the
jurisdiction of Perinthus. Therefore, when Spartian, Suidas,
Cedrenus, say that Severus and his son Antoninus restored to
Byzantium its rights and franchises, ordered temples to be built,
&c., this is easily reconciled with the relation of Dion. Perhaps
the latter mentioned it in some of the fragments of his history
which have been lost. As to Herodian, his expressions are
evidently exaggerated, and he has been guilty of so many
inaccuracies in the history of Severus, that we have a right to
suppose one in this passage. - G. from W Wenck and M. Guizot have
omitted to cite Zosimus, who mentions a particular portico built
by Severus, and called, apparently, by his name. Zosim. Hist. ii.

c. xxx. p. 151, 153, edit Heyne. - M.] Both Niger and Albinus were
discovered and put to death in their flight from the field of
battle. Their fate excited neither surprise nor compassion. They
had staked their lives against the chance of empire, and suffered
what they would have inflicted; nor did Severus claim the arrogant
superiority of suffering his rivals to live in a private station.
But his unforgiving temper, stimulated by avarice, indulged
spirit of revenge, where there was no room for apprehension. The
most considerable of the provincials, who, without any dislike to
the fortunate candidate, had obeyed the governor under whose
authority they were accidentally placed, were punished by death,
exile, and especially by the confiscation of their estates. Many
cities of the East were stripped of their ancient honors, and
obliged to pay, into the treasury of Severus, four times the
amount of the sums contributed by them for the service of Niger.
[Footnote 56: Dion, l. lxxiv. p. 1250.

Till the final decision of the war, the cruelty of Severus was, in
some measure, restrained by the uncertainty of the event, and his
pretended reverence for the senate. The head of Albinus,
accompanied with a menacing letter, announced to the Romans that
he was resolved to spare none of the adherents of his unfortunate
competitors. He was irritated by the just auspicion that he had
never possessed the affections of the senate, and he concealed his
old malevolence under the recent discovery of some treasonable
correspondences. Thirty-five senators, however, accused of having
favored the party of Albinus, he freely pardoned, and, by his
subsequent behavior, endeavored to convince them, that he had
forgotten, as well as forgiven, their supposed offences. But, at
the same time, he condemned forty-one ^57 other senators, whose
names history has recorded; their wives, children, and clients
attended them in death, ^* and the noblest provincials of Spain
and Gaul were involved in the same ruin. ^! Such rigid justice
for so he termed it - was, in the opinion of Severus, the only
conduct capable of insuring peace to the people or stability to
the prince; and he condescended slightly to lament, that to be
mild, it was necessary that he should first be cruel. ^58
[Footnote 57: Dion, (l. lxxv. p. 1264;) only twenty-nine senators
are mentioned by him, but forty-one are named in the Augustan
History, p. 69, among whom were six of the name of Pescennius.
Herodian (l. iii. p. 115) speaks in general of the cruelties of

[Footnote *: Wenck denies that there is any authority for this
massacre of the wives of the senators. He adds, that only the
children and relatives of Niger and Albinus were put to death.
This is true of the family of Albinus, whose bodies were thrown
into the Rhone; those of Niger, according to Lampridius, were sent
into exile, but afterwards put to death. Among the partisans of
Albinus who were put to death were many women of rank, multae
foeminae illustres. Lamprid. in Sever. - M.

[Footnote !: A new fragment of Dion describes the state of Rome
during this contest. All pretended to be on the side of Severus;
but their secret sentiments were often betrayed by a change of
countenance on the arrival of some sudden report. Some were
detected by overacting their loyalty, Mai. Fragm. Vatican. p. 227
Severus told the senate he would rather have their hearts than
their votes. - Ibid. - M.

[Footnote 58: Aurelius Victor.

The true interest of an absolute monarch generally coincides with
that of his people. Their numbers, their wealth, their order, and
their security, are the best and only foundations of his real
greatness; and were he totally devoid of virtue, prudence might
supply its place, and would dictate the same rule of conduct.
Severus considered the Roman empire as his property, and had no

sooner secured the possession, than he bestowed his care on the
cultivation and improvement of so valuable an acquisition.
Salutary laws, executed with inflexible firmness, soon corrected
most of the abuses with which, since the death of Marcus, every
part of the government had been infected. In the administration
of justice, the judgments of the emperor were characterized by
attention, discernment, and impartiality; and whenever he deviated
from the strict line of equity, it was generally in favor of the
poor and oppressed; not so much indeed from any sense of humanity,
as from the natural propensity of a despot to humble the pride of
greatness, and to sink all his subjects to the same common level
of absolute dependence. His expensive taste for building,
magnificent shows, and above all a constant and liberal
distribution of corn and provisions, were the surest means of
captivating the affection of the Roman people. ^59 The misfortunes
of civil discord were obliterated. The clam of peace and
prosperity was once more experienced in the provinces; and many
cities, restored by the munificence of Severus, assumed the title
of his colonies, and attested by public monuments their gratitude
and felicity. ^60 The fame of the Roman arms was revived by that
warlike and successful emperor, ^61 and he boasted, with a just
pride, that, having received the empire oppressed with foreign and
domestic wars, he left it established in profound, universal, and
honorable peace. ^62 [Footnote 59: Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1272. Hist.
August. p. 67. Severus celebrated the secular games with
extraordinary magnificence, and he left in the public granaries
provision of corn for seven years, at the rate of 75,000 modii, or
about 2500 quarters per day. I am persuaded that the granaries of
Severus were supplied for a long term, but I am not less
persuaded, that policy on one hand, and admiration on the other,
magnified the hoard far beyond its true contents.

[Footnote 60: See Spanheim's treatise of ancient medals, the
inscriptions, and our learned travellers Spon and Wheeler, Shaw,
Pocock, &c, who, in Africa, Greece, and Asia, have found more
monuments of Severus than of any other Roman emperor whatsoever.

[Footnote 61: He carried his victorious arms to Seleucia and
Ctesiphon, the capitals of the Parthian monarchy. I shall have
occasion to mention this war in its proper place.

[Footnote 62: Etiam in Britannis, was his own just and emphatic
expression Hist. August. 73.

Although the wounds of civil war appeared completely healed, its
mortal poison still lurked in the vitals of the constitution.
Severus possessed a considerable share of vigor and ability; but
the daring soul of the first Caesar, or the deep policy of
Augustus, were scarcely equal to the task of curbing the insolence
of the victorious legions. By gratitude, by misguided policy, by
seeming necessity, Severus was reduced to relax the nerves of
discipline. ^63 The vanity of his soldiers was flattered with the

honor of wearing gold rings their ease was indulged in the
permission of living with their wives in the idleness of quarters.
He increased their pay beyond the example of former times, and
taught them to expect, and soon to claim, extraordinary donatives
on every public occasion of danger or festivity. Elated by
success, enervated by luxury, and raised above the level of
subjects by their dangerous privileges, ^64 they soon became
incapable of military fatigue, oppressive to the country, and
impatient of a just subordination. Their officers asserted the
superiority of rank by a more profuse and elegant luxury. There
is still extant a letter of Severus, lamenting the licentious
stage of the army, ^* and exhorting one of his generals to begin
the necessary reformation from the tribunes themselves; since, as
he justly observes, the officer who has forfeited the esteem, will
never command the obedience, of his soldiers. ^65 Had the emperor
pursued the train of reflection, he would have discovered, that
the primary cause of this general corruption might be ascribed,
not indeed to the example, but to the pernicious indulgence,
however, of the commander-in-chief. [Footnote 63: Herodian, l.

iii. p. 115. Hist. August. p. 68.] [Footnote 64: Upon the
insolence and privileges of the soldier, the 16th satire, falsely
ascribed to Juvenal, may be consulted; the style and circumstances
of it would induce me to believe, that it was composed under the
reign of Severus, or that of his son.
[Footnote *: Not of the army, but of the troops in Gaul. The
contents of this letter seem to prove that Severus was really
anxious to restore discipline Herodian is the only historian who
accuses him of being the first cause of its relaxation. - G. from
W Spartian mentions his increase of the pays. - M.

[Footnote 65: Hist. August. p. 73.

The Praetorians, who murdered their emperor and sold the empire,
had received the just punishment of their treason; but the
necessary, though dangerous, institution of guards was soon
restored on a new model by Severus, and increased to four times
the ancient number. ^66 Formerly these troops had been recruited
in Italy; and as the adjacent provinces gradually imbibed the
softer manners of Rome, the levies were extended to Macedonia,
Noricum, and Spain. In the room of these elegant troops, better
adapted to the pomp of courts than to the uses of war, it was
established by Severus, that from all the legions of the
frontiers, the soldiers most distinguished for strength, valor,
and fidelity, should be occasionally draughted; and promoted, as
an honor and reward, into the more eligible service of the guards.
^67 By this new institution, the Italian youth were diverted from
the exercise of arms, and the capital was terrified by the strange
aspect and manners of a multitude of barbarians. But Severus
flattered himself, that the legions would consider these chosen
Praetorians as the representatives of the whole military order;
and that the present aid of fifty thousand men, superior in arms

and appointments to any force that could be brought into the field
against them, would forever crush the hopes of rebellion, and
secure the empire to himself and his posterity.

[Footnote 66: Herodian, l. iii. p. 131.

[Footnote 67: Dion, l. lxxiv. p. 1243.

The command of these favored and formidable troops soon became the
first office of the empire. As the government degenerated into
military despotism, the Praetorian Praefect, who in his origin had
been a simple captain of the guards, ^* was placed not only at the
head of the army, but of the finances, and even of the law. In
every department of administration, he represented the person, and
exercised the authority, of the emperor. The first praefect who
enjoyed and abused this immense power was Plautianus, the favorite
minister of Severus. His reign lasted above then years, till the
marriage of his daughter with the eldest son of the emperor, which
seemed to assure his fortune, proved the occasion of his ruin. ^68
The animosities of the palace, by irritating the ambition and
alarming the fears of Plautianus, ^* threatened to produce
revolution, and obliged the emperor, who still loved him, to
consent with reluctance to his death. ^69 After the fall of
Plautianus, an eminent lawyer, the celebrated Papinian, was
appointed to execute the motley office of Praetorian Praefect.

[Footnote *: The Praetorian Praefect had never been a simple
captain of the guards; from the first creation of this office,
under Augustus, it possessed great power. That emperor,
therefore, decreed that there should be always two Praetorian
Praefects, who could only be taken from the equestrian order
Tiberius first departed from the former clause of this edict;
Alexander Severus violated the second by naming senators
praefects. It appears that it was under Commodus that the
Praetorian Praefects obtained the province of civil jurisdiction.
it extended only to Italy, with the exception of Rome and its
district, which was governed by the Praefectus urbi. As to the
control of the finances, and the levying of taxes, it was not
intrusted to them till after the great change that Constantine I.
made in the organization of the empire at least, I know no passage
which assigns it to them before that time; and Drakenborch, who
has treated this question in his Dissertation de official
praefectorum praetorio, vi., does not quote one. - W.] [Footnote

68: One of his most daring and wanton acts of power, was the
castration of a hundred free Romans, some of them married men, and
even fathers of families; merely that his daughter, on her
marriage with the young emperor, might be attended by a train of
eunuchs worthy of an eastern queen. Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1271.
[Footnote *: Plautianus was compatriot, relative, and the old
friend, of Severus; he had so completely shut up all access to the
emperor, that the latter was ignorant how far he abused his

powers: at length, being informed of it, he began to limit his
authority. The marriage of Plautilla with Caracalla was
unfortunate; and the prince who had been forced to consent to it,
menaced the father and the daughter with death when he should come
to the throne. It was feared, after that, that Plautianus would
avail himself of the power which he still possessed, against the
Imperial family; and Severus caused him to be assassinated in his
presence, upon the pretext of a conspiracy, which Dion considers
fictitious. - W. This note is not, perhaps, very necessary and
does not contain the whole facts. Dion considers the conspiracy
the invention of Caracalla, by whose command, almost by whose
hand, Plautianus was slain in the presence of Severus. - M.
[Footnote 69: Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1274. Herodian, l. iii. p. 122,

129. The grammarian of Alexander seems, as is not unusual, much
better acquainted with this mysterious transaction, and more
assured of the guilt of Plautianus than the Roman senator ventures
to be.
Till the reign of Severus, the virtue and even the good sense of
the emperors had been distinguished by their zeal or affected
reverence for the senate, and by a tender regard to the nice frame
of civil policy instituted by Augustus. But the youth of Severus
had been trained in the implicit obedience of camps, and his riper
years spent in the despotism of military command. His haughty and
inflexible spirit cou' not discover, or would not acknowledge, the
advantage of preserving an intermediate power, however imaginary,
between the emperor and the army. He disdained to profess himself
the servant of an assembly that detested his person and trembled
at his frown; he issued his commands, where his requests would
have proved as effectual; assumed the conduct and style of
sovereign and a conqueror, and exercised, without disguise, the
whole legislative, as well as the executive power.

The victory over the senate was easy and inglorious. Every eye
and every passion were directed to the supreme magistrate, who
possessed the arms and treasure of the state; whilst the senate,
neither elected by the people, nor guarded by military force, nor
animated by public spirit, rested its declining authority on the
frail and crumbling basis of ancient opinion. The fine theory of
republic insensibly vanished, and made way for the more natural
and substantial feelings of monarchy. As the freedom and honors
of Rome were successively communicated to the provinces, in which
the old government had been either unknown, or was remembered with
abhorrence, the tradition of republican maxims was gradually
obliterated. The Greek historians of the age of the Antonines ^70
observe, with a malicious pleasure, that although the sovereign of
Rome, in compliance with an obsolete prejudice, abstained from the
name of king, he possessed the full measure of regal power. In
the reign of Severus, the senate was filled with polished and
eloquent slaves from the eastern provinces, who justified personal
flattery by speculative principles of servitude. These new
advocates of prerogative were heard with pleasure by the court,

and with patience by the people, when they inculcated the duty of
passive obedience, and descanted on the inevitable mischiefs of
freedom. The lawyers and historians concurred in teaching, that
the Imperial authority was held, not by the delegated commission,
but by the irrevocable resignation of the senate; that the emperor
was freed from the restraint of civil laws, could command by his
arbitrary will the lives and fortunes of his subjects, and might
dispose of the empire as of his private patrimony. ^71 The most
eminent of the civil lawyers, and particularly Papinian, Paulus,
and Ulpian, flourished under the house of Severus; and the Roman
jurisprudence, having closely united itself with the system of
monarchy, was supposed to have attained its full majority and

[Footnote 70: Appian in Prooem.

[Footnote 71: Dion Cassius seems to have written with no other
view than to form these opinions into an historical system. The
Pandea's will how how assiduously the lawyers, on their side,
laboree in the cause of prerogative.

The contemporaries of Severus in the enjoyment of the peace and
glory of his reign, forgave the cruelties by which it had been
introduced. Posterity, who experienced the fatal effects of his
maxims and example, justly considered him as the principal author
of the decline of the Roman empire.

Chapter VI: Death Of Severus, Tyranny Of Caracalla, Usurpation Of

Part I.

The Death Of Severus. - Tyranny Of Caracalla. - Usurpation Of
Macrinus. - Follies Of Elagabalus. - Virtues Of Alexander Severus.

-Licentiousness Of The Army. - General State Of The Roman
The ascent to greatness, however steep and dangerous, may
entertain an active spirit with the consciousness and exercise of
its own powers: but the possession of a throne could never yet
afford a lasting satisfaction to an ambitious mind. This
melancholy truth was felt and acknowledged by Severus. Fortune and
merit had, from an humble station, elevated him to the first place
among mankind. "He had been all things," as he said himself, "and
all was of little value" ^1 Distracted with the care, not of
acquiring, but of preserving an empire, oppressed with age and
infirmities, careless of fame, ^2 and satiated with power, all his
prospects of life were closed. The desire of perpetuating the
greatness of his family was the only remaining wish of his
ambition and paternal tenderness.

[Footnote 1: Hist. August. p. 71. "Omnia fui, et nihil expedit."
[Footnote 2: Dion Cassius, l. lxxvi. p. 1284.

Like most of the Africans, Severus was passionately addicted to
the vain studies of magic and divination, deeply versed in the
interpretation of dreams and omens, and perfectly acquainted with
the science of judicial astrology; which, in almost every age
except the present, has maintained its dominion over the mind of
man. He had lost his first wife, while he was governor of the
Lionnese Gaul. ^3 In the choice of a second, he sought only to
connect himself with some favorite of fortune; and as soon as he
had discovered that the young lady of Emesa in Syria had a royal
nativity, he solicited and obtained her hand. ^4 Julia Domna (for
that was her name) deserved all that the stars could promise her.
She possessed, even in advanced age, the attractions of beauty, ^
and united to a lively imagination a firmness of mind, and
strength of judgment, seldom bestowed on her sex. Her amiable
qualities never made any deep impression on the dark and jealous
temper of her husband; but in her son's reign, she administered
the principal affairs of the empire, with a prudence that
supported his authority, and with a moderation that sometimes
corrected his wild extravagancies. ^6 Julia applied herself to
letters and philosophy, with some success, and with the most
splendid reputation. She was the patroness of every art, and the
friend of every man of genius. ^7 The grateful flattery of the
learned has celebrated her virtues; but, if we may credit the
scandal of ancient history, chastity was very far from being the
most conspicuous virtue of the empress Julia. ^

[Footnote 3: About the year 186. M. de Tillemont is miserably
embarrassed with a passage of Dion, in which the empress Faustina,
who died in the year 175, is introduced as having contributed to
the marriage of Severus and Julia, (l. lxxiv. p. 1243.) The
learned compiler forgot that Dion is relating not a real fact, but
a dream of Severus; and dreams are circumscribed to no limits of
time or space. Did M. de Tillemont imagine that marriages were
consummated in the temple of Venus at Rome? Hist. des Empereurs,
tom. iii. p. 389. Note 6.

[Footnote 4: Hist. August. p. 65.

[Footnote 5: Hist. August. p. 5.

[Footnote 6: Dion Cassius, l. lxxvii. p. 1304, 1314.

[Footnote 7: See a dissertation of Menage, at the end of his
edition of Diogenes Laertius, de Foeminis Philosophis.

[Footnote 8: Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1285. Aurelius Victor.

Two sons, Caracalla ^9 and Geta, were the fruit of this marriage,
and the destined heirs of the empire. The fond hopes of the

father, and of the Roman world, were soon disappointed by these
vain youths, who displayed the indolent security of hereditary
princes; and a presumption that fortune would supply the place of
merit and application. Without any emulation of virtue or
talents, they discovered, almost from their infancy, a fixed and
implacable antipathy for each other.

[Footnote 9: Bassianus was his first name, as it had been that of
his maternal grandfather. During his reign, he assumed the
appellation of Antoninus, which is employed by lawyers and ancient
historians. After his death, the public indignation loaded him
with the nicknames of Tarantus and Caracalla. The first was
borrowed from a celebrated Gladiator, the second from a long
Gallic gown which he distributed to the people of Rome.] Their
aversion, confirmed by years, and fomented by the arts of their
interested favorites, broke out in childish, and gradually in more
serious competitions; and, at length, divided the theatre, the
circus, and the court, into two factions, actuated by the hopes
and fears of their respective leaders. The prudent emperor
endeavored, by every expedient of advice and authority, to allay
this growing animosity. The unhappy discord of his sons clouded
all his prospects, and threatened to overturn a throne raised with
so much labor, cemented with so much blood, and guarded with every
defence of arms and treasure. With an impartial hand he
maintained between them an exact balance of favor, conferred on
both the rank of Augustus, with the revered name of Antoninus; and
for the first time the Roman world beheld three emperors. ^10 Yet
even this equal conduct served only to inflame the contest, whilst
the fierce Caracalla asserted the right of primogeniture, and the
milder Geta courted the affections of the people and the soldiers.
In the anguish of a disappointed father, Severus foretold that the
weaker of his sons would fall a sacrifice to the stronger; who, in
his turn, would be ruined by his own vices. ^11

[Footnote 10: The elevation of Caracalla is fixed by the accurate

M. de Tillemont to the year 198; the association of Geta to the
year 208.] [Footnote 11: Herodian, l. iii. p. 130. The lives of
Caracalla and Geta, in the Augustan History.
In these circumstances the intelligence of a war in Britain, and
of an invasion of the province by the barbarians of the North, was
received with pleasure by Severus. Though the vigilance of his
lieutenants might have been sufficient to repel the distant enemy,
he resolved to embrace the honorable pretext of withdrawing his
sons from the luxury of Rome, which enervated their minds and
irritated their passions; and of inuring their youth to the toils
of war and government. Notwithstanding his advanced age, (for he
was above threescore,) and his gout, which obliged him to be
carried in a litter, he transported himself in person into that
remote island, attended by his two sons, his whole court, and
formidable army. He immediately passed the walls of Hadrian and
Antoninus, and entered the enemy's country, with a design of

completing the long attempted conquest of Britain. He penetrated
to the northern extremity of the island, without meeting an enemy.
But the concealed ambuscades of the Caledonians, who hung unseen
on the rear and flanks of his army, the coldness of the climate
and the severity of a winter march across the hills and morasses
of Scotland, are reported to have cost the Romans above fifty
thousand men. The Caledonians at length yielded to the powerful
and obstinate attack, sued for peace, and surrendered a part of
their arms, and a large tract of territory. But their apparent
submission lasted no longer than the present terror. As soon as
the Roman legions had retired, they resumed their hostile
independence. Their restless spirit provoked Severus to send
new army into Caledonia, with the most bloody orders, not to
subdue, but to extirpate the natives. They were saved by the
death of their haughty enemy. ^12

[Footnote 12: Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1280, &c. Herodian, l. iii. p.
132, &c.] This Caledonian war, neither marked by decisive events,
nor attended with any important consequences, would ill deserve
our attention; but it is supposed, not without a considerable
degree of probability, that the invasion of Severus is connected
with the most shining period of the British history or fable.
Fingal, whose fame, with that of his heroes and bards, has been
revived in our language by a recent publication, is said to have
commanded the Caledonians in that memorable juncture, to have
eluded the power of Severus, and to have obtained a signal victory
on the banks of the Carun, in which the son of the King of the
World, Caracul, fled from his arms along the fields of his pride.
^13 Something of a doubtful mist still hangs over these Highland
traditions; nor can it be entirely dispelled by the most ingenious
researches of modern criticism; ^14 but if we could, with safety,
indulge the pleasing supposition, that Fingal lived, and that
Ossian sung, the striking contrast of the situation and manners of
the contending nations might amuse a philosophic mind. The
parallel would be little to the advantage of the more civilized
people, if we compared the unrelenting revenge of Severus with the
generous clemency of Fingal; the timid and brutal cruelty of
Caracalla with the bravery, the tenderness, the elegant genius of
Ossian; the mercenary chiefs, who, from motives of fear or
interest, served under the imperial standard, with the free-born
warriors who started to arms at the voice of the king of Morven;
if, in a word, we contemplated the untutored Caledonians, glowing
with the warm virtues of nature, and the degenerate Romans,
polluted with the mean vices of wealth and slavery.

[Footnote 13: Ossian's Poems, vol. i. p. 175.

[Footnote 14: That the Caracul of Ossian is the Caracalla of the
Roman History, is, perhaps, the only point of British antiquity in
which Mr. Macpherson and Mr. Whitaker are of the same opinion; and
yet the opinion is not without difficulty. In the Caledonian war,
the son of Severus was known only by the appellation of Antoninus,

and it may seem strange that the Highland bard should describe him
by a nickname, invented four years afterwards, scarcely used by
the Romans till after the death of that emperor, and seldom
employed by the most ancient historians. See Dion, l. lxxvii. p.
1317. Hist. August. p. 89 Aurel. Victor. Euseb. in Chron. ad
ann. 214. Note: The historical authority of Macpherson's Ossian
has not increased since Gibbon wrote. We may, indeed, consider it
exploded. Mr. Whitaker, in a letter to Gibbon (Misc. Works, vol.

ii. p. 100,) attempts, not very successfully, to weaken this
objection of the historian. - M.] The declining health and last
illness of Severus inflamed the wild ambition and black passions
of Caracalla's soul. Impatient of any delay or division of empire,
he attempted, more than once, to shorten the small remainder of
his father's days, and endeavored, but without success, to excite
a mutiny among the troops. ^15 The old emperor had often censured
the misguided lenity of Marcus, who, by a single act of justice,
might have saved the Romans from the tyranny of his worthless son.
Placed in the same situation, he experienced how easily the rigor
of a judge dissolves away in the tenderness of a parent. He
deliberated, he threatened, but he could not punish; and this last
and only instance of mercy was more fatal to the empire than
long series of cruelty. ^16 The disorder of his mind irritated the
pains of his body; he wished impatiently for death, and hastened
the instant of it by his impatience. He expired at York in the
sixty-fifth year of his life, and in the eighteenth of a glorious
and successful reign. In his last moments he recommended concord
to his sons, and his sons to the army. The salutary advice never
reached the heart, or even the understanding, of the impetuous
youths; but the more obedient troops, mindful of their oath of
allegiance, and of the authority of their deceased master,
resisted the solicitations of Caracalla, and proclaimed both
brothers emperors of Rome. The new princes soon left the
Caledonians in peace, returned to the capital, celebrated their
father's funeral with divine honors, and were cheerfully
acknowledged as lawful sovereigns, by the senate, the people, and
the provinces. Some preeminence of rank seems to have been
allowed to the elder brother; but they both administered the
empire with equal and independent power. ^17
[Footnote 15: Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1282. Hist. August. p. 71.
Aurel. Victor.] [Footnote 16: Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1283. Hist.
August. p. 89] [Footnote 17: Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1284. Herodian,

l. iii. p. 135.] Such a divided form of government would have
proved a source of discord between the most affectionate brothers.
It was impossible that it could long subsist between two
implacable enemies, who neither desired nor could trust
reconciliation. It was visible that one only could reign, and that
the other must fall; and each of them, judging of his rival's
designs by his own, guarded his life with the most jealous
vigilance from the repeated attacks of poison or the sword. Their
rapid journey through Gaul and Italy, during which they never ate
at the same table, or slept in the same house, displayed to the

provinces the odious spectacle of fraternal discord. On their
arrival at Rome, they immediately divided the vast extent of the
imperial palace. ^18 No communication was allowed between their
apartments; the doors and passages were diligently fortified, and
guards posted and relieved with the same strictness as in
besieged place. The emperors met only in public, in the presence
of their afflicted mother; and each surrounded by a numerous train
of armed followers. Even on these occasions of ceremony, the
dissimulation of courts could ill disguise the rancor of their
hearts. ^19 [Footnote 18: Mr. Hume is justly surprised at
passage of Herodian, (l. iv. p. 139,) who, on this occasion,
represents the Imperial palace as equal in extent to the rest of
Rome. The whole region of the Palatine Mount, on which it was
built, occupied, at most, a circumference of eleven or twelve
thousand feet, (see the Notitia and Victor, in Nardini's Roma
Antica.) But we should recollect that the opulent senators had
almost surrounded the city with their extensive gardens and suburb
palaces, the greatest part of which had been gradually confiscated
by the emperors. If Geta resided in the gardens that bore his
name on the Janiculum, and if Caracalla inhabited the gardens of
Maecenas on the Esquiline, the rival brothers were separated from
each other by the distance of several miles; and yet the
intermediate space was filled by the Imperial gardens of Sallust,
of Lucullus, of Agrippa, of Domitian, of Caius, &c., all skirting
round the city, and all connected with each other, and with the
palace, by bridges thrown over the Tiber and the streets. But
this explanation of Herodian would require, though it ill
deserves, a particular dissertation, illustrated by a map of
ancient Rome. (Hume, Essay on Populousness of Ancient Nations.

[Footnote 19: Herodian, l. iv. p. 139]

This latent civil war already distracted the whole government,
when a scheme was suggested that seemed of mutual benefit to the
hostile brothers. It was proposed, that since it was impossible to
reconcile their minds, they should separate their interest, and
divide the empire between them. The conditions of the treaty were
already drawn with some accuracy. It was agreed that Caracalla, as
the elder brother should remain in possession of Europe and the
western Africa; and that he should relinquish the sovereignty of
Asia and Egypt to Geta, who might fix his residence at Alexandria
or Antioch, cities little inferior to Rome itself in wealth and
greatness; that numerous armies should be constantly encamped on
either side of the Thracian Bosphorus, to guard the frontiers of
the rival monarchies; and that the senators of European extraction
should acknowledge the sovereign of Rome, whilst the natives of
Asia followed the emperor of the East. The tears of the empress
Julia interrupted the negotiation, the first idea of which had
filled every Roman breast with surprise and indignation. The
mighty mass of conquest was so intimately united by the hand of
time and policy, that it required the most forcible violence to

rend it asunder. The Romans had reason to dread, that the
disjointed members would soon be reduced by a civil war under the
dominion of one master; but if the separation was permanent, the
division of the provinces must terminate in the dissolution of an
empire whose unity had hitherto remained inviolate. ^20

[Footnote 20: Herodian, l. iv. p. 144.

Had the treaty been carried into execution, the sovereign of
Europe might soon have been the conqueror of Asia; but Caracalla
obtained an easier, though a more guilty, victory. He artfully
listened to his mother's entreaties, and consented to meet his
brother in her apartment, on terms of peace and reconciliation. In
the midst of their conversation, some centurions, who had
contrived to conceal themselves, rushed with drawn swords upon the
unfortunate Geta. His distracted mother strove to protect him in
her arms; but, in the unavailing struggle, she was wounded in the
hand, and covered with the blood of her younger son, while she saw
the elder animating and assisting ^21 the fury of the assassins.
As soon as the deed was perpetrated, Caracalla, with hasty steps,
and horror in his countenance, ran towards the Praetorian camp, as
his only refuge, and threw himself on the ground before the
statues of the tutelar deities. ^22 The soldiers attempted to
raise and comfort him. In broken and disordered words he informed
them of his imminent danger, and fortunate escape; insinuating
that he had prevented the designs of his enemy, and declared his
resolution to live and die with his faithful troops. Geta had
been the favorite of the soldiers; but complaint was useless,
revenge was dangerous, and they still reverenced the son of
Severus. Their discontent died away in idle murmurs, and
Caracalla soon convinced them of the justice of his cause, by
distributing in one lavish donative the accumulated treasures of
his father's reign. ^23 The real sentiments of the soldiers alone
were of importance to his power or safety. Their declaration in
his favor commanded the dutiful professions of the senate. The
obsequious assembly was always prepared to ratify the decision of
fortune; ^* but as Caracalla wished to assuage the first emotions
of public indignation, the name of Geta was mentioned with
decency, and he received the funeral honors of a Roman emperor.
^24 Posterity, in pity to his misfortune, has cast a veil over his
vices. We consider that young prince as the innocent victim of
his brother's ambition, without recollecting that he himself
wanted power, rather than inclination, to consummate the same
attempts of revenge and murder. ^

[Footnote 21: Caracalla consecrated, in the temple of Serapis, the
sword with which, as he boasted, he had slain his brother Geta.
Dion, l. lxxvii p. 1307.

[Footnote 22: Herodian, l. iv. p. 147. In every Roman camp there
was a small chapel near the head-quarters, in which the statues of
the tutelar deities were preserved and adored; and we may remark

that the eagles, and other military ensigns, were in the first
rank of these deities; an excellent institution, which confirmed
discipline by the sanction of religion. See Lipsius de Militia
Romana, iv. 5, v. 2.

[Footnote 23: Herodian, l. iv. p. 148. Dion, l. lxxvii. p. 1289.
[Footnote *: The account of this transaction, in a new passage of
Dion, varies in some degree from this statement. It adds that the
next morning, in the senate, Antoninus requested their indulgence,
not because he had killed his brother, but because he was hoarse,
and could not address them. Mai. Fragm. p. 228. - M.

[Footnote 24: Geta was placed among the gods. Sit divus, dum non
sit vivus said his brother. Hist. August. p. 91. Some marks of
Geta's consecration are still found upon medals.

[Footnote !: The favorable judgment which history has given of
Geta is not founded solely on a feeling of pity; it is supported
by the testimony of contemporary historians: he was too fond of
the pleasures of the table, and showed great mistrust of his
brother; but he was humane, well instructed; he often endeavored
to mitigate the rigorous decrees of Severus and Caracalla. Herod

iv. 3. Spartian in Geta. - W.
The crime went not unpunished. Neither business, nor pleasure,
nor flattery, could defend Caracalla from the stings of a guilty
conscience; and he confessed, in the anguish of a tortured mind,
that his disordered fancy often beheld the angry forms of his
father and his brother rising into life, to threaten and upbraid
him. ^25 The consciousness of his crime should have induced him to
convince mankind, by the virtues of his reign, that the bloody
deed had been the involuntary effect of fatal necessity. But the
repentance of Caracalla only prompted him to remove from the world
whatever could remind him of his guilt, or recall the memory of
his murdered brother. On his return from the senate to the
palace, he found his mother in the company of several noble
matrons, weeping over the untimely fate of her younger son. The
jealous emperor threatened them with instant death; the sentence
was executed against Fadilla, the last remaining daughter of the
emperor Marcus; ^* and even the afflicted Julia was obliged to
silence her lamentations, to suppress her sighs, and to receive
the assassin with smiles of joy and approbation. It was computed
that, under the vague appellation of the friends of Geta, above
twenty thousand persons of both sexes suffered death. His guards
and freedmen, the ministers of his serious business, and the
companions of his looser hours, those who by his interest had been
promoted to any commands in the army or provinces, with the long
connected chain of their dependants, were included in the
proscription; which endeavored to reach every one who had
maintained the smallest correspondence with Geta, who lamented his
death, or who even mentioned his name. ^26 Helvius Pertinax, son
to the prince of that name, lost his life by an unseasonable

witticism. ^27 It was a sufficient crime of Thrasea Priscus to be
descended from a family in which the love of liberty seemed an
hereditary quality. ^28 The particular causes of calumny and
suspicion were at length exhausted; and when a senator was accused
of being a secret enemy to the government, the emperor was
satisfied with the general proof that he was a man of property and
virtue. From this well-grounded principle he frequently drew the
most bloody inferences. ^! [Footnote 25: Dion, l. lxxvii. p. 1307]

[Footnote *: The most valuable paragraph of dion, which the
industry of M. Manas recovered, relates to this daughter of
Marcus, executed by Caracalla. Her name, as appears from Fronto,
as well as from Dion, was Cornificia. When commanded to choose
the kind of death she was to suffer, she burst into womanish
tears; but remembering her father Marcus, she thus spoke: - "O my
hapless soul, (... animula,) now imprisoned in the body, burst
forth! be free! show them, however reluctant to believe it, that
thou art the daughter of Marcus." She then laid aside all her
ornaments, and preparing herself for death, ordered her veins to
be opened. Mai. Fragm. Vatican ii p. 220. - M.] [Footnote 26:
Dion, l. lxxvii. p. 1290. Herodian, l. iv. p. 150. Dion (p. 2298)
says, that the comic poets no longer durst employ the name of Geta
in their plays, and that the estates of those who mentioned it in
their testaments were confiscated.

[Footnote 27: Caracalla had assumed the names of several conquered
nations; Pertinax observed, that the name of Geticus (he had
obtained some advantage over the Goths, or Getae) would be
proper addition to Parthieus, Alemannicus, &c. Hist. August. p.

[Footnote 28: Dion, l. lxxvii. p. 1291. He was probably descended
from Helvidius Priscus, and Thrasea Paetus, those patriots, whose
firm, but useless and unseasonable, virtue has been immortalized
by Tacitus. Note: M. Guizot is indignant at this "cold"
observation of Gibbon on the noble character of Thrasea; but he
admits that his virtue was useless to the public, and unseasonable
amidst the vices of his age. - M.] [Footnote !: Caracalla
reproached all those who demanded no favors of him. "It is clear
that if you make me no requests, you do not trust me; if you do
not trust me, you suspect me; if you suspect me, you fear me; if
you fear me, you hate me." And forthwith he condemned them as
conspirators, a good specimen of the sorites in a tyrant's logic.
See Fragm. Vatican p. - M.

Chapter VI: Death Of Severus, Tyranny Of Caracalla, Usurpation Of

Part II.

The execution of so many innocent citizens was bewailed by the
secret tears of their friends and families. The death of

Papinian, the Praetorian Praefect, was lamented as a public
calamity. ^!! During the last seven years of Severus, he had
exercised the most important offices of the state, and, by his
salutary influence, guided the emperor's steps in the paths of
justice and moderation. In full assurance of his virtue and
abilities, Severus, on his death-bed, had conjured him to watch
over the prosperity and union of the Imperial family. ^29 The
honest labors of Papinian served only to inflame the hatred which
Caracalla had already conceived against his father's minister.
After the murder of Geta, the Praefect was commanded to exert the
powers of his skill and eloquence in a studied apology for that
atrocious deed. The philosophic Seneca had condescended to
compose a similar epistle to the senate, in the name of the son
and assassin of Agrippina. ^30 "That it was easier to commit than
to justify a parricide," was the glorious reply of Papinian; ^31
who did not hesitate between the loss of life and that of honor.
Such intrepid virtue, which had escaped pure and unsullied from
the intrigues courts, the habits of business, and the arts of his
profession, reflects more lustre on the memory of Papinian, than
all his great employments, his numerous writings, and the superior
reputation as a lawyer, which he has preserved through every age
of the Roman jurisprudence. ^32

[Footnote !!: Papinian was no longer Praetorian Praefect.
Caracalla had deprived him of that office immediately after the
death of Severus. Such is the statement of Dion; and the
testimony of Spartian, who gives Papinian the Praetorian
praefecture till his death, is of little weight opposed to that of
a senator then living at Rome. - W.

[Footnote 29: It is said that Papinian was himself a relation of
the empress Julia.

[Footnote 30: Tacit. Annal. xiv. 2.] [Footnote 31: Hist. August.

p. 88.
[Footnote 32: With regard to Papinian, see Heineccius's Historia
Juris Roma ni, l. 330, &c.

It had hitherto been the peculiar felicity of the Romans, and in
the worst of times the consolation, that the virtue of the
emperors was active, and their vice indolent. Augustus, Trajan,
Hadrian, and Marcus visited their extensive dominions in person,
and their progress was marked by acts of wisdom and beneficence.
The tyranny of Tiberius, Nero, and Domitian, who resided almost
constantly at Rome, or in the adjacent was confined to the
senatorial and equestrian orders. ^33 But Caracalla was the common
enemy of mankind. He left capital (and he never returned to it)
about a year after the murder of Geta. The rest of his reign was
spent in the several provinces of the empire, particularly those
of the East, and province was by turns the scene of his rapine and
cruelty. The senators, compelled by fear to attend his capricious

motions,were obliged to provide daily entertainments at an immense
expense, which he abandoned with contempt to his guards; and to
erect, in every city, magnificent palaces and theatres, which he
either disdained to visit, or ordered immediately thrown down.
The most wealthy families ruined by partial fines and
confiscations, and the great body of his subjects oppressed by
ingenious and aggravated taxes. ^34 In the midst of peace, and
upon the slightest provocation, he issued his commands, at
Alexandria, in Egypt for a general massacre. From a secure post in
the temple of Serapis, he viewed and directed the slaughter of
many thousand citizens, as well as strangers, without
distinguishing the number or the crime of the sufferers; since as
he coolly informed the senate, all the Alexandrians, those who
perished, and those who had escaped, were alike guilty. ^35

[Footnote 33: Tiberius and Domitian never moved from the
neighborhood of Rome. Nero made a short journey into Greece. "Et
laudatorum Principum usus ex aequo, quamvis procul agentibus.
Saevi proximis ingruunt." Tacit. Hist. iv. 74.

[Footnote 34: Dion, l. lxxvii. p. 1294.

[Footnote 35: Dion, l. lxxvii. p. 1307. Herodian, l. iv. p. 158.
The former represents it as a cruel massacre, the latter as
perfidious one too. It seems probable that the Alexandrians has
irritated the tyrant by their railleries, and perhaps by their

Note: After these massacres, Caracalla also deprived the
Alexandrians of their spectacles and public feasts; he divided the
city into two parts by a wall with towers at intervals, to prevent
the peaceful communications of the citizens. Thus was treated the
unhappy Alexandria, says Dion, by the savage beast of Ausonia.
This, in fact, was the epithet which the oracle had applied to
him; it is said, indeed, that he was much pleased with the name
and often boasted of it. Dion, lxxvii. p. 1307. - G.

The wise instructions of Severus never made any lasting impression
on the mind of his son, who, although not destitute of imagination
and eloquence, was equally devoid of judgment and humanity. ^36
One dangerous maxim, worthy of a tyrant, was remembered and abused
by Caracalla. "To secure the affections of the army, and to
esteem the rest of his subjects as of little moment." ^37 But the
liberality of the father had been restrained by prudence, and his
indulgence to the troops was tempered by firmness and authority.
The careless profusion of the son was the policy of one reign, and
the inevitable ruin both of the army and of the empire. The vigor
of the soldiers, instead of being confirmed by the severe
discipline of camps, melted away in the luxury of cities. The
excessive increase of their pay and donatives ^38 exhausted the
state to enrich the military order, whose modesty in peace, and
service in war, is best secured by an honorable poverty. The

demeanor of Caracalla was haughty and full of pride; but with the
troops he forgot even the proper dignity of his rank, encouraged
their insolent familiarity, and, neglecting the essential duties
of a general, affected to imitate the dress and manners of
common soldier.

[Footnote 36: Dion, l. lxxvii. p. 1296.

[Footnote 37: Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1284. Mr. Wotton (Hist. of Rome,

p. 330) suspects that this maxim was invented by Caracalla
himself, and attributed to his father.
[Footnote 38: Dion (l. lxxviii. p. 1343) informs us that the
extraordinary gifts of Caracalla to the army amounted annually to
seventy millions of drachmae (about two millions three hundred and
fifty thousand pounds.) There is another passage in Dion,
concerning the military pay, infinitely curious, were it not
obscure, imperfect, and probably corrupt. The best sense seems to
be, that the Praetorian guards received twelve hundred and fifty
drachmae, (forty pounds a year,) (Dion, l. lxxvii. p. 1307.) Under
the reign of Augustus, they were paid at the rate of two drachmae,
or denarii, per day, 720 a year, (Tacit. Annal. i. 17.) Domitian,
who increased the soldiers' pay one fourth, must have raised the
Praetorians to 960 drachmae, (Gronoviue de Pecunia Veteri, l. iii.

c. 2.) These successive augmentations ruined the empire; for, with
the soldiers' pay, their numbers too were increased. We have seen
the Praetorians alone increased from 10,000 to 50,000 men. Note:
Valois and Reimar have explained in a very simple and probable
manner this passage of Dion, which Gibbon seems to me not to have
understood. He ordered that the soldiers should receive, as the
reward of their services the Praetorians 1250 drachms, the other
5000 drachms. Valois thinks that the numbers have been transposed,
and that Caracalla added 5000 drachms to the donations made to the
Praetorians, 1250 to those of the legionaries. The Praetorians,
in fact, always received more than the others. The error of Gibbon
arose from his considering that this referred to the annual pay of
the soldiers, while it relates to the sum they received as
reward for their services on their discharge: donatives means
recompense for service. Augustus had settled that the
Praetorians, after sixteen campaigns, should receive 5000 drachms:
the legionaries received only 3000 after twenty years. Caracalla
added 5000 drachms to the donative of the Praetorians, 1250 to
that of the legionaries. Gibbon appears to have been mistaken
both in confounding this donative on discharge with the annual
pay, and in not paying attention to the remark of Valois on the
transposition of the numbers in the text. - G] It was impossible
that such a character, and such conduct as that of Caracalla,
could inspire either love or esteem; but as long as his vices were
beneficial to the armies, he was secure from the danger of
rebellion. A secret conspiracy, provoked by his own jealousy, was
fatal to the tyrant. The Praetorian praefecture was divided
between two ministers. The military department was intrusted to

Adventus, an experienced rather than able soldier; and the civil
affairs were transacted by Opilius Macrinus, who, by his dexterity
in business, had raised himself, with a fair character, to that
high office. But his favor varied with the caprice of the
emperor, and his life might depend on the slightest suspicion, or
the most casual circumstance. Malice or fanaticism had suggested
to an African, deeply skilled in the knowledge of futurity, a very
dangerous prediction, that Macrinus and his son were destined to
reign over the empire. The report was soon diffused through the
province; and when the man was sent in chains to Rome, he still
asserted, in the presence of the praefect of the city, the faith
of his prophecy. That magistrate, who had received the most
pressing instructions to inform himself of the successors of
Caracalla, immediately communicated the examination of the African
to the Imperial court, which at that time resided in Syria. But,
notwithstanding the diligence of the public messengers, a friend
of Macrinus found means to apprise him of the approaching danger.
The emperor received the letters from Rome; and as he was then
engaged in the conduct of a chariot race, he delivered them
unopened to the Praetorian Praefect, directing him to despatch the
ordinary affairs, and to report the more important business that
might be contained in them. Macrinus read his fate, and resolved
to prevent it. He inflamed the discontents of some inferior
officers, and employed the hand of Martialis, a desperate soldier,
who had been refused the rank of centurion. The devotion of
Caracalla prompted him to make a pilgrimage from Edessa to the
celebrated temple of the Moon at Carrhae. ^* He was attended by
body of cavalry: but having stopped on the road for some necessary
occasion, his guards preserved a respectful distance, and
Martialis, approaching his person under a presence of duty,
stabbed him with a dagger. The bold assassin was instantly killed
by a Scythian archer of the Imperial guard. Such was the end of
monster whose life disgraced human nature, and whose reign accused
the patience of the Romans. ^39 The grateful soldiers forgot his
vices, remembered only his partial liberality, and obliged the
senate to prostitute their own dignity and that of religion, by
granting him a place among the gods. Whilst he was upon earth,
Alexander the Great was the only hero whom this god deemed worthy
his admiration. He assumed the name and ensigns of Alexander,
formed a Macedonian phalanx of guards, persecuted the disciples of
Aristotle, and displayed, with a puerile enthusiasm, the only
sentiment by which he discovered any regard for virtue or glory.
We can easily conceive, that after the battle of Narva, and the
conquest of Poland, Charles XII. (though he still wanted the more
elegant accomplishments of the son of Philip) might boast of
having rivalled his valor and magnanimity; but in no one action of
his life did Caracalla express the faintest resemblance of the
Macedonian hero, except in the murder of a great number of his own
and of his father's friends. ^40

[Footnote *: Carrhae, now Harran, between Edessan and Nisibis,
famous for the defeat of Crassus - the Haran from whence Abraham

set out for the land of Canaan. This city has always been
remarkable for its attachment to Sabaism -G]

[Footnote 39: Dion, l. lxxviii. p. 1312. Herodian, l. iv. p.
168.] [Footnote 40: The fondness of Caracalla for the name and
ensigns of Alexander is still preserved on the medals of that
emperor. See Spanheim, de Usu Numismatum, Dissertat. xii.
Herodian (l. iv. p. 154) had seen very ridiculous pictures, in
which a figure was drawn with one side of the face like Alexander,
and the other like Caracalla.

After the extinction of the house of Severus, the Roman world
remained three days without a master. The choice of the army (for
the authority of a distant and feeble senate was little regarded)
hung in anxious suspense, as no candidate presented himself whose
distinguished birth and merit could engage their attachment and
unite their suffrages. The decisive weight of the Praetorian
guards elevated the hopes of their praefects, and these powerful
ministers began to assert their legal claim to fill the vacancy of
the Imperial throne. Adventus, however, the senior praefect,
conscious of his age and infirmities, of his small reputation, and
his smaller abilities, resigned the dangerous honor to the crafty
ambition of his colleague Macrinus, whose well-dissembled grief
removed all suspicion of his being accessary to his master's
death. ^41 The troops neither loved nor esteemed his character.
They cast their eyes around in search of a competitor, and at last
yielded with reluctance to his promises of unbounded liberality
and indulgence. A short time after his accession, he conferred on
his son Diadumenianus, at the age of only ten years, the Imperial
title, and the popular name of Antoninus. The beautiful figure of
the youth, assisted by an additional donative, for which the
ceremony furnished a pretext, might attract, it was hoped, the
favor of the army, and secure the doubtful throne of Macrinus.

[Footnote 41: Herodian, l. iv. p. 169. Hist. August. p. 94.] The
authority of the new sovereign had been ratified by the cheerful
submission of the senate and provinces. They exulted in their
unexpected deliverance from a hated tyrant, and it seemed of
little consequence to examine into the virtues of the successor of
Caracalla. But as soon as the first transports of joy and
surprise had subsided, they began to scrutinize the merits of
Macrinus with a critical severity, and to arraign the nasty choice
of the army. It had hitherto been considered as a fundamental
maxim of the constitution, that the emperor must be always chosen
in the senate, and the sovereign power, no longer exercised by the
whole body, was always delegated to one of its members. But
Macrinus was not a senator. ^42 The sudden elevation of the
Praetorian praefects betrayed the meanness of their origin; and
the equestrian order was still in possession of that great office,
which commanded with arbitrary sway the lives and fortunes of the
senate. A murmur of indignation was heard, that a man, whose
obscure ^43 extraction had never been illustrated by any signal

service, should dare to invest himself with the purple, instead of
bestowing it on some distinguished senator, equal in birth and
dignity to the splendor of the Imperial station. As soon as the
character of Macrinus was surveyed by the sharp eye of discontent,
some vices, and many defects, were easily discovered. The choice
of his ministers was in many instances justly censured, and the
dissastified dissatisfied people, with their usual candor, accused
at once his indolent tameness and his excessive severity. ^44

[Footnote 42: Dion, l. lxxxviii. p. 1350. Elagabalus reproached
his predecessor with daring to seat himself on the throne; though,
as Praetorian praefect, he could not have been admitted into the
senate after the voice of the crier had cleared the house. The
personal favor of Plautianus and Sejanus had broke through the
established rule. They rose, indeed, from the equestrian order;
but they preserved the praefecture, with the rank of senator and
even with the annulship.

[Footnote 43: He was a native of Caesarea, in Numidia, and began
his fortune by serving in the household of Plautian, from whose
ruin he narrowly escaped. His enemies asserted that he was born
slave, and had exercised, among other infamous professions, that
of Gladiator. The fashion of aspersing the birth and condition of
an adversary seems to have lasted from the time of the Greek
orators to the learned grammarians of the last age.

[Footnote 44: Both Dion and Herodian speak of the virtues and
vices of Macrinus with candor and impartiality; but the author of
his life, in the Augustan History, seems to have implicitly copied
some of the venal writers, employed by Elagabalus, to blacken the
memory of his predecessor.] His rash ambition had climbed a height
where it was difficult to stand with firmness, and impossible to
fall without instant destruction. Trained in the arts of courts
and the forms of civil business, he trembled in the presence of
the fierce and undisciplined multitude, over whom he had assumed
the command; his military talents were despised, and his personal
courage suspected; a whisper that circulated in the camp,
disclosed the fatal secret of the conspiracy against the late
emperor, aggravated the guilt of murder by the baseness of
hypocrisy, and heightened contempt by detestation. To alienate
the soldiers, and to provoke inevitable ruin, the character of
reformer was only wanting; and such was the peculiar hardship of
his fate, that Macrinus was compelled to exercise that invidious
office. The prodigality of Caracalla had left behind it a long
train of ruin and disorder; and if that worthless tyrant had been
capable of reflecting on the sure consequences of his own conduct,
he would perhaps have enjoyed the dark prospect of the distress
and calamities which he bequeathed to his successors.

In the management of this necessary reformation, Macrinus
proceeded with a cautious prudence, which would have restored
health and vigor to the Roman army in an easy and almost

imperceptible manner. To the soldiers already engaged in the
service, he was constrained to leave the dangerous privileges and
extravagant pay given by Caracalla; but the new recruits were
received on the more moderate though liberal establishment of
Severus, and gradually formed to modesty and obedience. ^45 One
fatal error destroyed the salutary effects of this judicious plan.
The numerous army, assembled in the East by the late emperor,
instead of being immediately dispersed by Macrinus through the
several provinces, was suffered to remain united in Syria, during
the winter that followed his elevation. In the luxurious idleness
of their quarters, the troops viewed their strength and numbers,
communicated their complaints, and revolved in their minds the
advantages of another revolution. The veterans, instead of being
flattered by the advantageous distinction, were alarmed by the
first steps of the emperor, which they considered as the presage
of his future intentions. The recruits, with sullen reluctance,
entered on a service, whose labors were increased while its
rewards were diminished by a covetous and unwarlike sovereign.
The murmurs of the army swelled with impunity into seditious
clamors; and the partial mutinies betrayed a spirit of discontent
and disaffection that waited only for the slightest occasion to
break out on every side into a general rebellion. To minds thus
disposed, the occasion soon presented itself.

[Footnote 45: Dion, l. lxxxiii. p. 1336. The sense of the author
is as the intention of the emperor; but Mr. Wotton has mistaken
both, by understanding the distinction, not of veterans and
recruits, but of old and new legions. History of Rome, p. 347.

The empress Julia had experienced all the vicissitudes of fortune.
From an humble station she had been raised to greatness, only to
taste the superior bitterness of an exalted rank. She was doomed
to weep over the death of one of her sons, and over the life of
the other. The cruel fate of Caracalla, though her good sense
must have long taught' er to expect it, awakened the feelings of
mother and of an empress. Notwithstanding the respectful civility
expressed by the usurper towards the widow of Severus, she
descended with a painful struggle into the condition of a subject,
and soon withdrew herself, by a voluntary death, from the anxious
and humiliating dependence. ^46 ^* Julia Maesa, her sister, was
ordered to leave the court and Antioch. She retired to Emesa with
an immense fortune, the fruit of twenty years' favor accompanied
by her two daughters, Soaemias and Mamae, each of whom was
widow, and each had an only son. Bassianus, ^! for that was the
name of the son of Soaemias, was consecrated to the honorable
ministry of high priest of the Sun; and this holy vocation,
embraced either from prudence or superstition, contributed to
raise the Syrian youth to the empire of Rome. A numerous body of
troops was stationed at Emesa; and as the severe discipline of
Macrinus had constrained them to pass the winter encamped, they
were eager to revenge the cruelty of such unaccustomed hardships.
The soldiers, who resorted in crowds to the temple of the Sun,

beheld with veneration and delight the elegant dress and figure of
the young pontiff; they recognized, or they thought that they
recognized, the features of Caracalla, whose memory they now
adored. The artful Maesa saw and cherished their rising
partiality, and readily sacrificing her daughter's reputation to
the fortune of her grandson, she insinuated that Bassianus was the
natural son of their murdered sovereign. The sums distributed by
her emissaries with a lavish hand silenced every objection, and
the profusion sufficiently proved the affinity, or at least the
resemblance, of Bassianus with the great original. The young
Antoninus (for he had assumed and polluted that respectable name)
was declared emperor by the troops of Emesa, asserted his
hereditary right, and called aloud on the armies to follow the
standard of a young and liberal prince, who had taken up arms to
revenge his father's death and the oppression of the military
order. ^47 [Footnote 46: Dion, l. lxxviii. p. 1330. The
abridgment of Xiphilin, though less particular, is in this place
clearer than the original.] [Footnote *: As soon as this princess
heard of the death of Caracalla, she wished to starve herself to
death: the respect shown to her by Macrinus, in making no change
in her attendants or her court, induced her to prolong her life.
But it appears, as far as the mutilated text of Dion and the
imperfect epitome of Xiphilin permit us to judge, that she
conceived projects of ambition, and endeavored to raise herself to
the empire. She wished to tread in the steps of Semiramis and
Nitocris, whose country bordered on her own. Macrinus sent her an
order immediately to leave Antioch, and to retire wherever she
chose. She returned to her former purpose, and starved herself to
death. - G.

[Footnote !: He inherited this name from his great-grandfather of
the mother's side, Bassianus, father of Julia Maesa, his
grandmother, and of Julia Domna, wife of Severus. Victor (in his
epitome) is perhaps the only historian who has given the key to
this genealogy, when speaking of Caracalla. His Bassianus ex avi
materni nomine dictus. Caracalla, Elagabalus, and Alexander
Seyerus, bore successively this name. - G.

[Footnote 47: According to Lampridius, (Hist. August. p. 135,
Alexander Severus lived twenty-nine years three months and seven
days. As he was killed March 19, 235, he was born December 12,
205 and was consequently about this time thirteen years old, as
his elder cousin might be about seventeen. This computation suits
much better the history of the young princes than that of
Herodian, (l. v. p. 181,) who represents them as three years
younger; whilst, by an opposite error of chronology, he lengthens
the reign of Elagabalus two years beyond its real duration. For
the particulars of the conspiracy, see Dion, l. lxxviii. p. 1339.
Herodian, l. v. p. 184.] Whilst a conspiracy of women and eunuchs
was concerted with prudence, and conducted with rapid vigor,
Macrinus, who, by a decisive motion, might have crushed his infant
enemy, floated between the opposite extremes of terror and

security, which alike fixed him inactive at Antioch. A spirit of
rebellion diffused itself through all the camps and garrisons of
Syria, successive detachments murdered their officers, ^48 and
joined the party of the rebels; and the tardy restitution of
military pay and privileges was imputed to the acknowledged
weakness of Macrinus. At length he marched out of Antioch, to meet
the increasing and zealous army of the young pretender. His own
troops seemed to take the field with faintness and reluctance;
but, in the heat of the battle, ^49 the Praetorian guards, almost
by an involuntary impulse, asserted the superiority of their valor
and discipline. The rebel ranks were broken; when the mother and
grandmother of the Syrian prince, who, according to their eastern
custom, had attended the army, threw themselves from their covered
chariots, and, by exciting the compassion of the soldiers,
endeavored to animate their drooping courage. Antoninus himself,
who, in the rest of his life, never acted like a man, in this
important crisis of his fate, approved himself a hero, mounted his
horse, and, at the head of his rallied troops, charged sword in
hand among the thickest of the enemy; whilst the eunuch Gannys, ^
whose occupations had been confined to female cares and the soft
luxury of Asia, displayed the talents of an able and experienced
general. The battle still raged with doubtful violence, and
Macrinus might have obtained the victory, had he not betrayed his
own cause by a shameful and precipitate flight. His cowardice
served only to protract his life a few days, and to stamp deserved
ignominy on his misfortunes. It is scarcely necessary to add,
that his son Diadumenianus was involved in the same fate. As soon
as the stubborn Praetorians could be convinced that they fought
for a prince who had basely deserted them, they surrendered to the
conqueror: the contending parties of the Roman army, mingling
tears of joy and tenderness, united under the banners of the
imagined son of Caracalla, and the East acknowledged with pleasure
the first emperor of Asiatic extraction.

[Footnote 48: By a most dangerous proclamation of the pretended
Antoninus, every soldier who brought in his officer's head became
entitled to his private estate, as well as to his military

[Footnote 49: Dion, l. lxxviii. p. 1345. Herodian, l. v. p. 186.
The battle was fought near the village of Immae, about two-and-
twenty miles from Antioch.

[Footnote *: Gannys was not a eunuch. Dion, p. 1355. - W] The
letters of Macrinus had condescended to inform the senate of the
slight disturbance occasioned by an impostor in Syria, and
decree immediately passed, declaring the rebel and his family
public enemies; with a promise of pardon, however, to such of his
deluded adherents as should merit it by an immediate return to
their duty. During the twenty days that elapsed from the
declaration of the victory of Antoninus, (for in so short an
interval was the fate of the Roman world decided,) the capital and

the provinces, more especially those of the East, were distracted
with hopes and fears, agitated with tumult, and stained with
useless effusion of civil blood, since whosoever of the rivals
prevailed in Syria must reign over the empire. The specious
letters in which the young conqueror announced his victory to the
obedient senate were filled with professions of virtue and
moderation; the shining examples of Marcus and Augustus, he should
ever consider as the great rule of his administration; and he
affected to dwell with pride on the striking resemblance of his
own age and fortunes with those of Augustus, who in the earliest
youth had revenged, by a successful war, the murder of his father.
By adopting the style of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, son of
Antoninus and grandson of Severus, he tacitly asserted his
hereditary claim to the empire; but, by assuming the tribunitian
and proconsular powers before they had been conferred on him by
decree of the senate, he offended the delicacy of Roman prejudice.
This new and injudicious violation of the constitution was
probably dictated either by the ignorance of his Syrian courtiers,
or the fierce disdain of his military followers. ^50 [Footnote 50:
Dion, l. lxxix. p. 1353.

As the attention of the new emperor was diverted by the most
trifling amusements, he wasted many months in his luxurious
progress from Syria to Italy, passed at Nicomedia his first winter
after his victory, and deferred till the ensuing summer his
triumphal entry into the capital. A faithful picture, however,
which preceded his arrival, and was placed by his immediate order
over the altar of Victory in the senate house, conveyed to the
Romans the just but unworthy resemblance of his person and
manners. He was drawn in his sacerdotal robes of silk and gold,
after the loose flowing fashion of the Medes and Phoenicians; his
head was covered with a lofty tiara, his numerous collars and
bracelets were adorned with gems of an inestimable value. His
eyebrows were tinged with black, and his cheeks painted with an
artificial red and white. ^51 The grave senators confessed with
sigh, that, after having long experienced the stern tyranny of
their own countrymen, Rome was at length humbled beneath the
effeminate luxury of Oriental despotism. [Footnote 51: Dion, l.

lxxix. p. 1363. Herodian, l. v. p. 189.] The Sun was worshipped
at Emesa, under the name of Elagabalus, ^52 and under the form of
a black conical stone, which, as it was universally believed, had
fallen from heaven on that sacred place. To this protecting
deity, Antoninus, not without some reason, ascribed his elevation
to the throne. The display of superstitious gratitude was the
only serious business of his reign. The triumph of the god of
Emesa over all the religions of the earth, was the great object of
his zeal and vanity; and the appellation of Elagabalus (for he
presumed as pontiff and favorite to adopt that sacred name) was
dearer to him than all the titles of Imperial greatness. In
solemn procession through the streets of Rome, the way was strewed
with gold dust; the black stone, set in precious gems, was placed
on a chariot drawn by six milk-white horses richly caparisoned.

The pious emperor held the reins, and, supported by his ministers,
moved slowly backwards, that he might perpetually enjoy the
felicity of the divine presence. In a magnificent temple raised
on the Palatine Mount, the sacrifices of the god Elagabalus were
celebrated with every circumstance of cost and solemnity. The
richest wines, the most extraordinary victims, and the rarest
aromatics, were profusely consumed on his altar. Around the
altar, a chorus of Syrian damsels performed their lascivious
dances to the sound of barbarian music, whilst the gravest
personages of the state and army, clothed in long Phoenician
tunics, officiated in the meanest functions, with affected zeal
and secret indignation. ^53

[Footnote 52: This name is derived by the learned from two Syrian
words, Ela a God, and Gabal, to form, the forming or plastic god,
a proper, and even happy epithet for the sun. Wotton's History of
Rome, p. 378 Note: The name of Elagabalus has been disfigured in
various ways. Herodian calls him; Lampridius, and the more modern
writers, make him Heliogabalus. Dion calls him Elegabalus; but
Elegabalus was the true name, as it appears on the medals.
(Eckhel. de Doct. num. vet. t. vii. p. 250.) As to its etymology,
that which Gibbon adduces is given by Bochart, Chan. ii. 5; but
Salmasius, on better grounds. (not. in Lamprid. in Elagab.,
derives the name of Elagabalus from the idol of that god,
represented by Herodian and the medals in the form of a mountain,
(gibel in Hebrew,) or great stone cut to a point, with marks which
represent the sun. As it was not permitted, at Hierapolis, in
Syria, to make statues of the sun and moon, because, it was said,
they are themselves sufficiently visible, the sun was represented
at Emesa in the form of a great stone, which, as it appeared, had
fallen from heaven. Spanheim, Caesar. notes, p. 46. - G. The
name of Elagabalus, in "nummis rarius legetur." Rasche, Lex. Univ.
Ref. Numm. Rasche quotes two. - M]

[Footnote 53: Herodian, l. v. p. 190.

Chapter VI: Death Of Severus, Tyranny Of Caracalla, Usurpation Of

Part III.

To this temple, as to the common centre of religious worship, the
Imperial fanatic attempted to remove the Ancilia, the Palladium,
^54 and all the sacred pledges of the faith of Numa. A crowd of
inferior deities attended in various stations the majesty of the
god of Emesa; but his court was still imperfect, till a female of
distinguished rank was admitted to his bed. Pallas had been first
chosen for his consort; but as it was dreaded lest her warlike
terrors might affright the soft delicacy of a Syrian deity, the
Moon, adorned by the Africans under the name of Astarte, was

deemed a more suitable companion for the Sun. Her image, with the
rich offerings of her temple as a marriage portion, was
transported with solemn pomp from Carthage to Rome, and the day of
these mystic nuptials was a general festival in the capital and
throughout the empire. ^55

[Footnote 54: He broke into the sanctuary of Vesta, and carried
away a statue, which he supposed to be the palladium; but the
vestals boasted that, by a pious fraud, they had imposed
counterfeit image on the profane intruder. Hist. August., p.

[Footnote 55: Dion, l. lxxix. p. 1360. Herodian, l. v. p. 193.
The subjects of the empire were obliged to make liberal presents
to the new married couple; and whatever they had promised during
the life of Elagabalus was carefully exacted under the
administration of Mamaea.

A rational voluptuary adheres with invariable respect to the
temperate dictates of nature, and improves the gratifications of
sense by social intercourse, endearing connections, and the soft
coloring of taste and the imagination. But Elagabalus, (I speak
of the emperor of that name,) corrupted by his youth, his country,
and his fortune, abandoned himself to the grossest pleasures with
ungoverned fury, and soon found disgust and satiety in the midst
of his enjoyments. The inflammatory powers of art were summoned
to his aid: the confused multitude of women, of wines, and of
dishes, and the studied variety of attitude and sauces, served to
revive his languid appetites. New terms and new inventions in
these sciences, the only ones cultivated and patronized by the
monarch, ^56 signalized his reign, and transmitted his infamy to
succeeding times. A capricious prodigality supplied the want of
taste and elegance; and whilst Elagabalus lavished away the
treasures of his people in the wildest extravagance, his own voice
and that of his flatterers applauded a spirit of magnificence
unknown to the tameness of his predecessors. To confound the
order of seasons and climates, ^57 to sport with the passions and
prejudices of his subjects, and to subvert every law of nature and
decency, were in the number of his most delicious amusements.
long train of concubines, and a rapid succession of wives, among
whom was a vestal virgin, ravished by force from her sacred
asylum, ^58 were insufficient to satisfy the impotence of his
passions. The master of the Roman world affected to copy the
dress and manners of the female sex, preferred the distaff to the
sceptre, and dishonored the principal dignities of the empire by
distributing them among his numerous lovers; one of whom was
publicly invested with the title and authority of the emperor's,
or, as he more properly styled himself, of the empress's husband.
^59 [Footnote 56: The invention of a new sauce was liberally
rewarded; but if it was not relished, the inventor was confined to
eat of nothing else till he had discoveredanother more agreeable
to the Imperial palate Hist. August. p. 111.

[Footnote 57: He never would eat sea-fish except at a great
distance from the sea; he then would distribute vast quantities of
the rarest sorts, brought at an immense expense, to the peasants
of the inland country. Hist. August. p. 109.

[Footnote 58: Dion, l. lxxix. p. 1358. Herodian, l. v. p. 192.
[Footnote 59: Hierocles enjoyed that honor; but he would have been
supplanted by one Zoticus, had he not contrived, by a potion, to
enervate the powers of his rival, who, being found on trial
unequal to his reputation, was driven with ignominy from the
palace. Dion, l. lxxix. p. 1363, 1364. A dancer was made
praefect of the city, a charioteer praefect of the watch, a barber
praefect of the provisions. These three ministers, with many
inferior officers, were all recommended enormitate membrorum.
Hist. August. p. 105.] It may seem probable, the vices and follies
of Elagabalus have been adorned by fancy, and blackened by
prejudice. ^60 Yet, confining ourselves to the public scenes
displayed before the Roman people, and attested by grave and
contemporary historians, their inexpressible infamy surpasses that
of any other age or country. The license of an eastern monarch is
secluded from the eye of curiosity by the inaccessible walls of
his seraglio. The sentiments of honor and gallantry have
introduced a refinement of pleasure, a regard for decency, and
respect for the public opinion, into the modern courts of Europe;
^* but the corrupt and opulent nobles of Rome gratified every vice
that could be collected from the mighty conflux of nations and
manners. Secure of impunity, careless of censure, they lived
without restraint in the patient and humble society of their
slaves and parasites. The emperor, in his turn, viewing every rank
of his subjects with the same contemptuous indifference, asserted
without control his sovereign privilege of lust and luxury.

[Footnote 60: Even the credulous compiler of his life, in the
Augustan History (p. 111) is inclined to suspect that his vices
may have been exaggerated.

[Footnote *: Wenck has justly observed that Gibbon should have
reckoned the influence of Christianity in this great change. In
the most savage times, and the most corrupt courts, since the
introduction of Christianity there have been no Neros or
Domitians, no Commodus or Elagabalus. - M.] The most worthless of
mankind are not afraid to condemn in others the same disorders
which they allow in themselves; and can readily discover some nice
difference of age, character, or station, to justify the partial
distinction. The licentious soldiers, who had raised to the
throne the dissolute son of Caracalla, blushed at their
ignominious choice, and turned with disgust from that monster, to
contemplate with pleasure the opening virtues of his cousin
Alexander, the son of Mamaea. The crafty Maesa, sensible that her
grandson Elagabalus must inevitably destroy himself by his own
vices, had provided another and surer support of her family.

Embracing a favorable moment of fondness and devotion, she had
persuaded the young emperor to adopt Alexander, and to invest him
with the title of Caesar, that his own divine occupations might be
no longer interrupted by the care of the earth. In the second
rank that amiable prince soon acquired the affections of the
public, and excited the tyrant's jealousy, who resolved to
terminate the dangerous competition, either by corrupting the
manners, or by taking away the life, of his rival. His arts
proved unsuccessful; his vain designs were constantly discovered
by his own loquacious folly, and disappointed by those virtuous
and faithful servants whom the prudence of Mamaea had placed about
the person of her son. In a hasty sally of passion, Elagabalus
resolved to execute by force what he had been unable to compass by
fraud, and by a despotic sentence degraded his cousin from the
rank and honors of Caesar. The message was received in the senate
with silence, and in the camp with fury. The Praetorian guards
swore to protect Alexander, and to revenge the dishonored majesty
of the throne. The tears and promises of the trembling Elagabalus,
who only begged them to spare his life, and to leave him in the
possession of his beloved Hierocles, diverted their just
indignation; and they contented themselves with empowering their
praefects to watch over the safety of Alexander, and the conduct
of the emperor. ^61 [Footnote 61: Dion, l. lxxix. p. 1365.
Herodian, l. v. p. 195 - 201. Hist. August. p. 105. The last of
the three historians seems to have followed the best authors in
his account of the revolution.

It was impossible that such a reconciliation should last, or that
even the mean soul of Elagabalus could hold an empire on such
humiliating terms of dependence. He soon attempted, by
dangerous experiment, to try the temper of the soldiers. The
report of the death of Alexander, and the natural suspicion that
he had been murdered, inflamed their passions into fury, and the
tempest of the camp could only be appeased by the presence and
authority of the popular youth. Provoked at this new instance of
their affection for his cousin, and their contempt for his person,
the emperor ventured to punish some of the leaders of the mutiny.
His unseasonable severity proved instantly fatal to his minions,
his mother, and himself. Elagabalus was massacred by the
indignant Praetorians, his mutilated corpse dragged through the
streets of the city, and thrown into the Tiber. His memory was
branded with eternal infamy by the senate; the justice of whose
decree has been ratified by posterity. ^62

[See Island In The Tiber: Elagabalus was thrown into the Tiber
[Footnote 62: The aera of the death of Elagabalus, and of the
accession of Alexander, has employed the learning and ingenuity of
Pagi, Tillemont, Valsecchi, Vignoli, and Torre, bishop of Adria.
The question is most assuredly intricate; but I still adhere to
the authority of Dion, the truth of whose calculations is
undeniable, and the purity of whose text is justified by the
agreement of Xiphilin, Zonaras, and Cedrenus. Elagabalus reigned

three years nine months and four days, from his victory over
Macrinus, and was killed March 10, 222. But what shall we reply to
the medals, undoubtedly genuine, which reckon the fifth year of
his tribunitian power? We shall reply, with the learned Valsecchi,
that the usurpation of Macrinus was annihilated, and that the son
of Caracalla dated his reign from his father's death? After
resolving this great difficulty, the smaller knots of this
question may be easily untied, or cut asunder. Note: This
opinion of Valsecchi has been triumphantly contested by Eckhel,
who has shown the impossibility of reconciling it with the medals
of Elagabalus, and has given the most satisfactory explanation of
the five tribunates of that emperor. He ascended the throne and
received the tribunitian power the 16th of May, in the year of
Rome 971; and on the 1st January of the next year, 972, he began
new tribunate, according to the custom established by preceding
emperors. During the years 972, 973, 974, he enjoyed the
tribunate, and commenced his fifth in the year 975, during which
be was killed on the 10th March. Eckhel de Doct. Num. viii. 430
&c. - G.] In the room of Elagabalus, his cousin Alexander was
raised to the throne by the Praetorian guards. His relation to the
family of Severus, whose name he assumed, was the same as that of
his predecessor; his virtue and his danger had already endeared
him to the Romans, and the eager liberality of the senate
conferred upon him, in one day, the various titles and powers of
the Imperial dignity. ^63 But as Alexander was a modest and
dutiful youth, of only seventeen years of age, the reins of
government were in the hands of two women, of his mother, Mamaea,
and of Maesa, his grandmother. After the death of the latter, who
survived but a short time the elevation of Alexander, Mamaea
remained the sole regent of her son and of the empire. [Footnote

63: Hist. August. p. 114. By this unusual precipitation, the
senate meant to confound the hopes of pretenders, and prevent the
factions of the armies.] In every age and country, the wiser, or
at least the stronger, of the two sexes, has usurped the powers of
the state, and confined the other to the cares and pleasures of
domestic life. In hereditary monarchies, however, and especially
in those of modern Europe, the gallant spirit of chivalry, and the
law of succession, have accustomed us to allow a singular
exception; and a woman is often acknowledged the absolute
sovereign of a great kingdom, in which she would be deemed
incapable of exercising the smallest employment, civil or
military. But as the Roman emperors were still considered as the
generals and magistrates of the republic, their wives and mothers,
although distinguished by the name of Augusta were never
associated to their personal honors; and a female reign would have
appeared an inexpiable prodigy in the eyes of those primitive
Romans, who married without love, or loved without delicacy and
respect. ^64 The haughty Agripina aspired, indeed, to share the
honors of the empire which she had conferred on her son; but her
mad ambition, detested by every citizen who felt for the dignity
of Rome, was disappointed by the artful firmness of Seneca and
Burrhus. ^65 The good sense, or the indifference, of succeeding

princes, restrained them from offending the prejudices of their
subjects; and it was reserved for the profligate Elagabalus to
discharge the acts of the senate with the name of his mother
Soaemias, who was placed by the side of the consuls, and
subscribed, as a regular member, the decrees of the legislative
assembly. Her more prudent sister, Mamaea, declined the useless
and odious prerogative, and a solemn law was enacted, excluding
women forever from the senate, and devoting to the infernal gods
the head of the wretch by whom this sanction should be violated.
^66 The substance, not the pageantry, of power. was the object of
Mamaea's manly ambition. She maintained an absolute and lasting
empire over the mind of her son, and in his affection the mother
could not brook a rival. Alexander, with her consent, married the
daughter of a patrician; but his respect for his father-in-law,
and love for the empress, were inconsistent with the tenderness of
interest of Mamaea. The patrician was executed on the ready
accusation of treason, and the wife of Alexander driven with
ignominy from the palace, and banished into Africa. ^67 [Footnote

64: Metellus Numidicus, the censor, acknowledged to the Roman
people, in a public oration, that had kind nature allowed us to
exist without the help of women, we should be delivered from
very troublesome companion; and he could recommend matrimony only
as the sacrifice of private pleasure to public duty. Aulus
Gellius, i. 6.] [Footnote 65: Tacit. Annal. xiii. 5.] [Footnote
66: Hist. August. p. 102, 107.] [Footnote 67: Dion, l. lxxx. p.
1369. Herodian, l. vi. p. 206. Hist. August. p. 131. Herodian
represents the patrician as innocent. The Augustian History, on
the authority of Dexippus, condemns him, as guilty of a conspiracy
against the life of Alexander. It is impossible to pronounce
between them; but Dion is an irreproachable witness of the
jealousy and cruelty of Mamaea towards the young empress, whose
hard fate Alexander lamented, but durst not oppose.
Notwithstanding this act of jealous cruelty, as well as some
instances of avarice, with which Mamaea is charged, the general
tenor of her administration was equally for the benefit of her son
and of the empire. With the approbation of the senate, she chose
sixteen of the wisest and most virtuous senators as a perpetual
council of state, before whom every public business of moment was
debated and determined. The celebrated Ulpian, equally
distinguished by his knowledge of, and his respect for, the laws
of Rome, was at their head; and the prudent firmness of this
aristocracy restored order and authority to the government. As
soon as they had purged the city from foreign superstition and
luxury, the remains of the capricious tyranny of Elagabalus, they
applied themselves to remove his worthless creatures from every
department of the public administration, and to supply their
places with men of virtue and ability. Learning, and the love of
justice, became the only recommendations for civil offices; valor,
and the love of discipline, the only qualifications for military
employments. ^68 [Footnote 68: Herodian, l. vi. p. 203. Hist.
August. p. 119. The latter insinuates, that when any law was to be
passed, the council was assisted by a number of able lawyers and

experienced senators, whose opinions were separately given, and
taken down in writing.] But the most important care of Mamaea
and her wise counsellors, was to form the character of the young
emperor, on whose personal qualities the happiness or misery of
the Roman world must ultimately depend. The fortunate soil
assisted, and even prevented, the hand of cultivation. An
excellent understanding soon convinced Alexander of the advantages
of virtue, the pleasure of knowledge, and the necessity of labor.
A natural mildness and moderation of temper preserved him from the
assaults of passion, and the allurements of vice. His unalterable
regard for his mother, and his esteem for the wise Ulpian, guarded
his unexperienced youth from the poison of flattery. ^* [Footnote
*: Alexander received into his chapel all the religions which
prevailed in the empire; he admitted Jesus Christ, Abraham,
Orpheus, Apollonius of Tyana, &c. It was almost certain that his
mother Mamaea had instructed him in the morality of Christianity.
Historians in general agree in calling her a Christian; there is
reason to believe that she had begun to have a taste for the
principles of Christianity. (See Tillemont, Alexander Severus)
Gibbon has not noticed this circumstance; he appears to have
wished to lower the character of this empress; he has throughout
followed the narrative of Herodian, who, by the acknowledgment of
Capitolinus himself, detested Alexander. Without believing the
exaggerated praises of Lampridius, he ought not to have followed
the unjust severity of Herodian, and, above all, not to have
forgotten to say that the virtuous Alexander Severus had insured
to the Jews the preservation of their privileges, and permitted
the exercise of Christianity. Hist. Aug. p. 121. The Christians
had established their worship in a public place, of which the
victuallers (cauponarii) claimed, not the property, but possession
by custom. Alexander answered, that it was better that the place
should be used for the service of God, in any form, than for
victuallers. - G. I have scrupled to omit this note, as it
contains some points worthy of notice; but it is very unjust to
Gibbon, who mentions almost all the circumstances, which he is
accused of omitting, in another, and, according to his plan,
better place, and, perhaps, in stronger terms than M. Guizot. See
Chap. xvi. - M.] The simple journal of his ordinary occupations
exhibits a pleasing picture of an accomplished emperor, ^69 and,
with some allowance for the difference of manners, might well
deserve the imitation of modern princes. Alexander rose early: the
first moments of the day were consecrated to private devotion, and
his domestic chapel was filled with the images of those heroes,
who, by improving or reforming human life, had deserved the
grateful reverence of posterity. But as he deemed the service of
mankind the most acceptable worship of the gods, the greatest part
of his morning hours was employed in his council, where he
discussed public affairs, and determined private causes, with
patience and discretion above his years. The dryness of business
was relieved by the charms of literature; and a portion of time
was always set apart for his favorite studies of poetry, history,
and philosophy. The works of Virgil and Horace, the republics of

Plato and Cicero, formed his taste, enlarged his understanding,
and gave him the noblest ideas of man and government. The
exercises of the body succeeded to those of the mind; and
Alexander, who was tall, active, and robust, surpassed most of his
equals in the gymnastic arts. Refreshed by the use of the bath and
a slight dinner, he resumed, with new vigor, the business of the
day; and, till the hour of supper, the principal meal of the
Romans, he was attended by his secretaries, with whom he read and
answered the multitude of letters, memorials, and petitions, that
must have been addressed to the master of the greatest part of the
world. His table was served with the most frugal simplicity, and
whenever he was at liberty to consult his own inclination, the
company consisted of a few select friends, men of learning and
virtue, amongst whom Ulpian was constantly invited. Their
conversation was familiar and instructive; and the pauses were
occasionally enlivened by the recital of some pleasing
composition, which supplied the place of the dancers, comedians,
and even gladiators, so frequently summoned to the tables of the
rich and luxurious Romans. ^70 The dress of Alexander was plain
and modest, his demeanor courteous and affable: at the proper
hours his palace was open to all his subjects, but the voice of
crier was heard, as in the Eleusinian mysteries, pronouncing the
same salutary admonition: "Let none enter these holy walls, unless
he is conscious of a pure and innocent mind." ^71 [Footnote 69:
See his life in the Augustan History. The undistinguishing
compiler has buried these interesting anecdotes under a load of
trivial unmeaning circumstances.] [Footnote 70: See the 13th
Satire of Juvenal.] [Footnote 71: Hist. August. p. 119.] Such
uniform tenor of life, which left not a moment for vice or folly,
is a better proof of the wisdom and justice of Alexander's
government, than all the trifling details preserved in the
compilation of Lampridius. Since the accession of Commodus, the
Roman world had experienced, during the term of forty years, the
successive and various vices of four tyrants. From the death of
Elagabalus, it enjoyed an auspicious calm of thirteen years. ^
The provinces, relieved from the oppressive taxes invented by
Caracalla and his pretended son, flourished in peace and
prosperity, under the administration of magistrates, who were
convinced by experience that to deserve the love of the subjects,
was their best and only method of obtaining the favor of their
sovereign. While some gentle restraints were imposed on the
innocent luxury of the Roman people, the price of provisions and
the interest of money, were reduced by the paternal care of
Alexander, whose prudent liberality, without distressing the
industrious, supplied the wants and amusements of the populace.
The dignity, the freedom, the authority of the senate was
restored; and every virtuous senator might approach the person of
the emperor without a fear and without a blush. [Footnote *
Wenck observes that Gibbon, enchanted with the virtue of Alexander
has heightened, particularly in this sentence, its effect on the
state of the world. His own account, which follows, of the
insurrections and foreign wars, is not in harmony with this

beautiful picture. - M.] The name of Antoninus, ennobled by the
virtues of Pius and Marcus, had been communicated by adoption to
the dissolute Verus, and by descent to the cruel Commodus. It
became the honorable appellation of the sons of Severus, was
bestowed on young Diadumenianus, and at length prostituted to the
infamy of the high priest of Emesa. Alexander, though pressed by
the studied, and, perhaps, sincere importunity of the senate,
nobly refused the borrowed lustre of a name; whilst in his whole
conduct he labored to restore the glories and felicity of the age
of the genuine Antonines. ^72 [Footnote 72: See, in the Hist.
August. p. 116, 117, the whole contest between Alexander and the
senate, extracted from the journals of that assembly. It happened
on the sixth of March, probably of the year 223, when the Romans
had enjoyed, almost a twelvemonth, the blessings of his reign.
Before the appellation of Antoninus was offered him as a title of
honor, the senate waited to see whether Alexander would not assume
it as a family name.] In the civil administration of Alexander,
wisdom was enforced by power, and the people, sensible of the
public felicity, repaid their benefactor with their love and
gratitude. There still remained a greater, a more necessary, but
more difficult enterprise; the reformation of the military order,
whose interest and temper, confirmed by long impunity, rendered
them impatient of the restraints of discipline, and careless of
the blessings of public tranquillity. In the execution of his
design, the emperor affected to display his love, and to conceal
his fear of the army. The most rigid economy in every other branch
of the administration supplied a fund of gold and silver for the
ordinary pay and the extraordinary rewards of the troops. In their
marches he relaxed the severe obligation of carrying seventeen
days' provision on their shoulders. Ample magazines were formed
along the public roads, and as soon as they entered the enemy's
country, a numerous train of mules and camels waited on their
haughty laziness. As Alexander despaired of correcting the luxury
of his soldiers, he attempted, at least, to direct it to objects
of martial pomp and ornament, fine horses, splendid armor, and
shields enriched with silver and gold. He shared whatever fatigues
he was obliged to impose, visited, in person, the sick and
wounded, preserved an exact register of their services and his own
gratitude, and expressed on every occasion, the warmest regard for
a body of men, whose welfare, as he affected to declare, was so
closely connected with that of the state. ^73 By the most gentle
arts he labored to inspire the fierce multitude with a sense of
duty, and to restore at least a faint image of that discipline to
which the Romans owed their empire over so many other nations, as
warlike and more powerful than themselves. But his prudence was
vain, his courage fatal, and the attempt towards a reformation
served only to inflame the ills it was meant to cure. [Footnote

73: It was a favorite saying of the emperor's Se milites magis
servare, quam seipsum, quod salus publica in his esset. Hist. Aug.
p. 130.] The Praetorian guards were attached to the youth of
Alexander. They loved him as a tender pupil, whom they had saved
from a tyrant's fury, and placed on the Imperial throne. That

amiable prince was sensible of the obligation; but as his
gratitude was restrained within the limits of reason and justice,
they soon were more dissatisfied with the virtues of Alexander,
than they had ever been with the vices of Elagabalus. Their
praefect, the wise Ulpian, was the friend of the laws and of the
people; he was considered as the enemy of the soldiers, and to his
pernicious counsels every scheme of reformation was imputed. Some
trifling accident blew up their discontent into a furious mutiny;
and the civil war raged, during three days, in Rome, whilst the
life of that excellent minister was defended by the grateful
people. Terrified, at length, by the sight of some houses in
flames, and by the threats of a general conflagration, the people
yielded with a sigh, and left the virtuous but unfortunate Ulpian
to his fate. He was pursued into the Imperial palace, and
massacred at the feet of his master, who vainly strove to cover
him with the purple, and to obtain his pardon from the inexorable
soldiers. ^* Such was the deplorable weakness of government, that
the emperor was unable to revenge his murdered friend and his
insulted dignity, without stooping to the arts of patience and
dissimulation. Epagathus, the principal leader of the mutiny, was
removed from Rome, by the honorable employment of praefect of
Egypt: from that high rank he was gently degraded to the
government of Crete; and when at length, his popularity among the
guards was effaced by time and absence, Alexander ventured to
inflict the tardy but deserved punishment of his crimes. ^74 Under
the reign of a just and virtuous prince, the tyranny of the army
threatened with instant death his most faithful ministers, who
were suspected of an intention to correct their intolerable
disorders. The historian Dion Cassius had commanded the Pannonian
legions with the spirit of ancient discipline. Their brethren of
Rome, embracing the common cause of military license, demanded the
head of the reformer. Alexander, however, instead of yielding to
their seditious clamors, showed a just sense of his merit and
services, by appointing him his colleague in the consulship, and
defraying from his own treasury the expense of that vain dignity:
but as was justly apprehended, that if the soldiers beheld him
with the ensigns of his office, they would revenge the insult in
his blood, the nominal first magistrate of the state retired, by
the emperor's advice, from the city, and spent the greatest part
of his consulship at his villas in Campania. ^75 ^* [Footnote *
Gibbon has confounded two events altogether different - the
quarrel of the people with the Praetorians, which lasted three
days, and the assassination of Ulpian by the latter. Dion relates
first the death of Ulpian, afterwards, reverting back according to
a manner which is usual with him, he says that during the life of
Ulpian, there had been a war of three days between the Praetorians
and the people. But Ulpian was not the cause. Dion says, on the
contrary, that it was occasioned by some unimportant circumstance;
whilst he assigns a weighty reason for the murder of Ulpian, the
judgment by which that Praetorian praefect had condemned his
predecessors, Chrestus and Flavian, to death, whom the soldiers
wished to revenge. Zosimus (l. 1, c. xi.) attributes this sentence

to Mamaera; but, even then, the troops might have imputed it to
Ulpian, who had reaped all the advantage and was otherwise odious
to them. - W.] [Footnote 74: Though the author of the life of
Alexander (Hist. August. p. 182) mentions the sedition raised
against Ulpian by the soldiers, he conceals the catastrophe, as it
might discover a weakness in the administration of his hero. From
this designed omission, we may judge of the weight and candor of
that author.] [Footnote 75: For an account of Ulpian's fate and
his own danger, see the mutilated conclusion of Dion's History, l.

lxxx. p. 1371.] [Footnote *: Dion possessed no estates in
Campania, and was not rich. He only says that the emperor advised
him to reside, during his consulate, in some place out of Rome;
that he returned to Rome after the end of his consulate, and had
an interview with the emperor in Campania. He asked and obtained
leave to pass the rest of his life in his native city, (Nice, in
Bithynia: ) it was there that he finished his history, which
closes with his second consulship. - W.]
Chapter VI: Death Of Severus, Tyranny Of Caracalla, Usurpation Of

Part IV.

The lenity of the emperor confirmed the insolence of the troops;
the legions imitated the example of the guards, and defended their
prerogative of licentiousness with the same furious obstinacy.
The administration of Alexander was an unavailing struggle against
the corruption of his age. In llyricum, in Mauritania, in
Armenia, in Mesopotamia, in Germany, fresh mutinies perpetually
broke out; his officers were murdered, his authority was insulted,
and his life at last sacrificed to the fierce discontents of the
army. ^76 One particular fact well deserves to be recorded, as it
illustrates the manners of the troops, and exhibits a singular
instance of their return to a sense of duty and obedience. Whilst
the emperor lay at Antioch, in his Persian expedition, the
particulars of which we shall hereafter relate, the punishment of
some soldiers, who had been discovered in the baths of women,
excited a sedition in the legion to which they belonged.
Alexander ascended his tribunal, and with a modest firmness
represented to the armed multitude the absolute necessity, as well
as his inflexible resolution, of correcting the vices introduced
by his impure predecessor, and of maintaining the discipline,
which could not be relaxed without the ruin of the Roman name and
empire. Their clamors interrupted his mild expostulation.
"Reserve your shout," said the undaunted emperor, "till you take
the field against the Persians, the Germans, and the Sarmatians.
Be silent in the presence of your sovereign and benefactor, who
bestows upon you the corn, the clothing, and the money of the
provinces. Be silent, or I shall no longer style you solders, but
citizens, ^77 if those indeed who disclaim the laws of Rome
deserve to be ranked among the meanest of the people." His menaces
inflamed the fury of the legion, and their brandished arms already

threatened his person. "Your courage," resumed the intrepid
Alexander, "would be more nobly displayed in the field of battle;
me you may destroy, you cannot intimidate; and the severe justice
of the republic would punish your crime and revenge my death." The
legion still persisted in clamorous sedition, when the emperor
pronounced, with a cud voice, the decisive sentence, "Citizens!
lay down your arms, and depart in peace to your respective
habitations." The tempest was instantly appeased: the soldiers,
filled with grief and shame, silently confessed the justice of
their punishment, and the power of discipline, yielded up their
arms and military ensigns, and retired in confusion, not to their
camp, but to the several inns of the city. Alexander enjoyed,
during thirty days, the edifying spectacle of their repentance;
nor did he restore them to their former rank in the army, till he
had punished with death those tribunes whose connivance had
occasioned the mutiny. The grateful legion served the emperor
whilst living, and revenged him when dead. ^78 [Footnote 76:
Annot. Reimar. ad Dion Cassius, l. lxxx. p. 1369.] [Footnote 77:
Julius Caesar had appeased a sedition with the same word,
Quirites; which, thus opposed to soldiers, was used in a sense of
contempt, and reduced the offenders to the less honorable
condition of mere citizens. Tacit. Annal. i. 43.

[Footnote 78: Hist. August. p. 132.

The resolutions of the multitude generally depend on a moment; and
the caprice of passion might equally determine the seditious
legion to lay down their arms at the emperor's feet, or to plunge
them into his breast. Perhaps, if this singular transaction had
been investigated by the penetration of a philosopher, we should
discover the secret causes which on that occasion authorized the
boldness of the prince, and commanded the obedience of the troops;
and perhaps, if it had been related by a judicious historian, we
should find this action, worthy of Caesar himself, reduced nearer
to the level of probability and the common standard of the
character of Alexander Severus. The abilities of that amiable
prince seem to have been inadequate to the difficulties of his
situation, the firmness of his conduct inferior to the purity of
his intentions. His virtues, as well as the vices of Elagabalus,
contracted a tincture of weakness and effeminacy from the soft
climate of Syria, of which he was a native; though he blushed at
his foreign origin, and listened with a vain complacency to the
flattering genealogists, who derived his race from the ancient
stock of Roman nobility. ^79 The pride and avarice of his mother
cast a shade on the glories of his reign; an by exacting from his
riper years the same dutiful obedience which she had justly
claimed from his unexperienced youth, Mamaea exposed to public
ridicule both her son's character and her own. ^80 The fatigues of
the Persian war irritated the military discontent; the
unsuccessful event ^* degraded the reputation of the emperor as
general, and even as a soldier. Every cause prepared, and every

circumstance hastened, a revolution, which distracted the Roman
empire with a long series of intestine calamities.

[Footnote 79: From the Metelli. Hist. August. p. 119. The choice
was judicious. In one short period of twelve years, the Metelli
could reckon seven consulships and five triumphs. See Velleius
Paterculus, ii. 11, and the Fasti.

[Footnote 80: The life of Alexander, in the Augustan History, is
the mere idea of a perfect prince, an awkward imitation of the
Cyropaedia. The account of his reign, as given by Herodian, is
rational and moderate, consistent with the general history of the
age; and, in some of the most invidious particulars, confirmed by
the decisive fragments of Dion. Yet from a very paltry prejudice,
the greater number of our modern writers abuse Herodian, and copy
the Augustan History. See Mess de Tillemont and Wotton. From the
opposite prejudice, the emperor Julian (in Caesarib. p. 315)
dwells with a visible satisfaction on the effeminate weakness of
the Syrian, and the ridiculous avarice of his mother.

[Footnote *: Historians are divided as to the success of the
campaign against the Persians; Herodian alone speaks of defeat.
Lampridius, Eutropius, Victor, and others, say that it was very
glorious to Alexander; that he beat Artaxerxes in a great battle,
and repelled him from the frontiers of the empire. This much is
certain, that Alexander, on his return to Rome, (Lamp. Hist. Aug.

c. 56, 133, 134,) received the honors of a triumph, and that he
said, in his oration to the people. Quirites, vicimus Persas,
milites divites reduximus, vobis congiarium pollicemur, cras ludos
circenses Persicos donabimus. Alexander, says Eckhel, had too
much modesty and wisdom to permit himself to receive honors which
ought only to be the reward of victory, if he had not deserved
them; he would have contented himself with dissembling his losses.
Eckhel, Doct. Num. vet. vii. 276. The medals represent him as in
triumph; one, among others, displays him crowned by Victory
between two rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris. P. M. TR. P.
xii. Cos. iii. PP. Imperator paludatus D. hastam. S. parazonium,
stat inter duos fluvios humi jacentes, et ab accedente retro
Victoria coronatur. Ae. max. mod. (Mus. Reg. Gall.) Although
Gibbon treats this question more in detail when he speaks of the
Persian monarchy, I have thought fit to place here what
contradicts his opinion. - G]
The dissolute tyranny of Commodus, the civil wars occasioned by
his death, and the new maxims of policy introduced by the house of
Severus, had all contributed to increase the dangerous power of
the army, and to obliterate the faint image of laws and liberty
that was still impressed on the minds of the Romans. The internal
change, which undermined the foundations of the empire, we have
endeavored to explain with some degree of order and perspicuity.
The personal characters of the emperors, their victories, laws,
follies, and fortunes, can interest us no farther than as they are

connected with the general history of the Decline and Fall of the
monarchy. Our constant attention to that great object will not
suffer us to overlook a most important edict of Antoninus
Caracalla, which communicated to all the free inhabitants of the
empire the name and privileges of Roman citizens. His unbounded
liberality flowed not, however, from the sentiments of a generous
mind; it was the sordid result of avarice, and will naturally be
illustrated by some observations on the finances of that state,
from the victorious ages of the commonwealth to the reign of
Alexander Severus. The siege of Veii in Tuscany, the first
considerable enterprise of the Romans, was protracted to the tenth
year, much less by the strength of the place than by the
unskillfulness of the besiegers. The unaccustomed hardships of so
many winter campaigns, at the distance of near twenty miles from
home, ^81 required more than common encouragements; aud the senate
wisely prevented the clamors of the people, by the institution of
a regular pay for the soldiers, which was levied by a general
tribute, assessed according to an equitable proportion on the
property of the citizens. ^82 During more than two hundred years
after the conquest of Veii, the victories of the republic added
less to the wealth than to the power of Rome. The states of Italy
paid their tribute in military service only, and the vast force,
both by sea and land, which was exerted in the Punic wars, was
maintained at the expense of the Romans themselves. That high-
spirited people (such is often the generous enthusiasm of freedom)
cheerfully submitted to the most excessive but voluntary burdens,
in the just confidence that they should speedily enjoy the rich
harvest of their labors. Their expectations were not
disappointed. In the course of a few years, the riches of
Syracuse, of Carthage, of Macedonia, and of Asia, were brought in
triumph to Rome. The treasures of Perseus alone amounted to near
two millions sterling, and the Roman people, the sovereign of so
many nations, was forever delivered from the weight of taxes. ^83
The increasing revenue of the provinces was found sufficient to
defray the ordinary establishment of war and government, and the
superfluous mass of gold and silver was deposited in the temple of
Saturn, and reserved for any unforeseen emergency of the state.

[Footnote 81: According to the more accurate Dionysius, the city
itself was only a hundred stadia, or twelve miles and a half, from
Rome, though some out-posts might be advanced farther on the side
of Etruria. Nardini, in a professed treatise, has combated the
popular opinion and the authority of two popes, and has removed
Veii from Civita Castellana, to a little spot called Isola, in the
midway between Rome and the Lake Bracianno.

Note: See the interesting account of the site and ruins of Veii in
Sir W Gell's topography of Rome and its Vicinity. v. ii. p. 303.
M.] [Footnote 82: See the 4th and 5th books of Livy. In the Roman
census, property, power, and taxation were commensurate with each

other.] [Footnote 83: Plin. Hist. Natur. l. xxxiii. c. 3. Cicero
de Offic. ii. 22. Plutarch, P. Aemil. p. 275.

[Footnote 84: See a fine description of this accumulated wealth of
ages in Phars. l. iii. v. 155, &c.

History has never, perhaps, suffered a greater or more irreparable
injury than in the loss of the curious register ^* bequeathed by
Augustus to the senate, in which that experienced prince so
accurately balanced the revenues and expenses of the Roman empire.
^85 Deprived of this clear and comprehensive estimate, we are
reduced to collect a few imperfect hints from such of the ancients
as have accidentally turned aside from the splendid to the more
useful parts of history. We are informed that, by the conquests
of Pompey, the tributes of Asia were raised from fifty to one
hundred and thirty-five millions of drachms; or about four
millions and a half sterling. ^86 ^! Under the last and most
indolent of the Ptolemies, the revenue of Egypt is said to have
amounted to twelve thousand five hundred talents; a sum equivalent
to more than two millions and a half of our money, but which was
afterwards considerably improved by the more exact economy of the
Romans, and the increase of the trade of Aethiopia and India. ^87
Gaul was enriched by rapine, as Egypt was by commerce, and the
tributes of those two great provinces have been compared as nearly
equal to each other in value. ^88 The ten thousand Euboic or
Phoenician talents, about four millions sterling, ^89 which
vanquished Carthage was condemned to pay within the term of fifty
years, were a slight acknowledgment of the superiority of Rome,
^90 and cannot bear the least proportion with the taxes afterwards
raised both on the lands and on the persons of the inhabitants,
when the fertile coast of Africa was reduced into a province. ^91

[Footnote *: See Rationarium imperii. Compare besides Tacitus,
Suet. Aug. c. ult. Dion, p. 832. Other emperors kept and
published similar registers. See a dissertation of Dr. Wolle, de
Rationario imperii Rom. Leipsig, 1773. The last book of Appian
also contained the statistics of the Roman empire, but it is lost.

[Footnote 85: Tacit. in Annal. i. ll. It seems to have existed in
the time of Appian.

[Footnote 86: Plutarch, in Pompeio, p. 642.

[Footnote !: Wenck contests the accuracy of Gibbon's version of
Plutarch, and supposes that Pompey only raised the revenue from
50,000,000 to 85,000,000 of drachms; but the text of Plutarch
seems clearly to mean that his conquests added 85,000,000 to the
ordinary revenue. Wenck adds, "Plutarch says in another part,
that Antony made Asia pay, at one time, 200,000 talents, that is
to say, 38,875,000l. sterling." But Appian explains this by saying

that it was the revenue of ten years, which brings the annual
revenue, at the time of Antonv, to 3,875 000l. sterling. - M.

[Footnote 87: Strabo, l. xvii. p. 798.

[Footnote 88: Velleius Paterculus, l. ii. c. 39. He seems to give
the preference to the revenue of Gaul.

[Footnote 89: The Euboic, the Phoenician, and the Alexandrian
talents were double in weight to the Attic. See Hooper on ancient
weights and measures, p. iv. c. 5. It is very probable that the
same talent was carried from Tyre to Carthage.

[Footnote 90: Polyb. l. xv. c. 2.

[Footnote 91: Appian in Punicis, p. 84.

Spain, by a very singular fatality, was the Peru and Mexico of the
old world. The discovery of the rich western continent by the
Phoenicians, and the oppression of the simple natives, who were
compelled to labor in their own mines for the benefit of
strangers, form an exact type of the more recent history of
Spanish America. ^92 The Phoenicians were acquainted only with the
sea-coast of Spain; avarice, as well as ambition, carried the arms
of Rome and Carthage into the heart of the country, and almost
every part of the soil was found pregnant with copper, silver, and
gold. ^* Mention is made of a mine near Carthagena which yielded
every day twenty-five thousand drachmns of silver, or about three
hundred thousand pounds a year. ^93 Twenty thousand pound weight
of gold was annually received from the provinces of Asturia,
Gallicia, and Lusitania. ^94

[Footnote 92: Diodorus Siculus, l. 5. Oadiz was built by the
Phoenicians a little more than a thousand years before Christ. See
Vell. Pa ter. i.2.] [Footnote *: Compare Heeren's Researches vol.

i. part ii. p.] [Footnote 93: Strabo, l. iii. p. 148.
[Footnote 94: Plin. Hist. Natur. l. xxxiii. c. 3. He mentions
likewise a silver mine in Dalmatia, that yielded every day fifty
pounds to the state.] We want both leisure and materials to pursue
this curious inquiry through the many potent states that were
annihilated in the Roman empire. Some notion, however, may be
formed of the revenue of the provinces where considerable wealth
had been deposited by nature, or collected by man, if we observe
the severe attention that was directed to the abodes of solitude
and sterility. Augustus once received a petition from the
inhabitants of Gyarus, humbly praying that they might be relieved
from one third of their excessive impositions. Their whole tax
amounted indeed to no more than one hundred and fifty drachms, or
about five pounds: but Gyarus was a little island, or rather
rock, of the Aegean Sea, destitute of fresh water and every
necessary of life, and inhabited only by a few wretched fishermen.

^95 [Footnote 95: Strabo, l. x. p. 485. Tacit. Annal. iu. 69, and

iv. 30. See Tournefort (Voyages au Levant, Lettre viii.) a very
lively picture of the actual misery of Gyarus.
From the faint glimmerings of such doubtful and scattered lights,
we should be inclined to believe, 1st, That (with every fair
allowance for the differences of times and circumstances) the
general income of the Roman provinces could seldom amount to less
than fifteen or twenty millions of our money; ^96 and, 2dly, That
so ample a revenue must have been fully adequate to all the
expenses of the moderate government instituted by Augustus, whose
court was the modest family of a private senator, and whose
military establishment was calculated for the defence of the
frontiers, without any aspiring views of conquest, or any serious
apprehension of a foreign invasion.

[Footnote 96: Lipsius de magnitudine Romana (l. ii. c. 3) computes
the revenue at one hundred and fifty millions of gold crowns; but
his whole book, though learned and ingenious, betrays a very
heated imagination. Note: If Justus Lipsius has exaggerated the
revenue of the Roman empire Gibbon, on the other hand, has
underrated it. He fixes it at fifteen or twenty millions of our
money. But if we take only, on a moderate calculation, the taxes
in the provinces which he has already cited, they will amount,
considering the augmentations made by Augustus, to nearly that
sum. There remain also the provinces of Italy, of Rhaetia, of
Noricum, Pannonia, and Greece, &c., &c. Let us pay attention,
besides, to the prodigious expenditure of some emperors, (Suet.
Vesp. 16;) we shall see that such a revenue could not be
sufficient. The authors of the Universal History, part xii.
assign forty millions sterling as the sum to about which the
public revenue might amount. - G. from W.

Notwithstanding the seeming probability of both these conclusions,
the latter of them at least is positively disowned by the language
and conduct of Augustus. It is not easy to determine whether, on
this occasion, he acted as the common father of the Roman world,
or as the oppressor of liberty; whether he wished to relieve the
provinces, or to impoverish the senate and the equestrian order.
But no sooner had he assumed the reins of government, than he
frequently intimated the insufficiency of the tributes, and the
necessity of throwing an equitable proportion of the public burden
upon Rome and Italy. ^! In the prosecution of this unpopular
design, he advanced, however, by cautious and well-weighed steps.
The introduction of customs was followed by the establishment of
an excise, and the scheme of taxation was completed by an artful
assessment on the real and personal property of the Roman
citizens, who had been exempted from any kind of contribution
above a century and a half. [Footnote !: It is not astonishing
that Augustus held this language. The senate declared also under
Nero, that the state could not exist without the imposts as well
augmented as founded by Augustus. Tac. Ann. xiii. 50. After the

abolition of the different tributes paid by Italy, an abolition
which took place A. U. 646, 694, and 695, the state derived no
revenues from that great country, but the twentieth part of the
manumissions, (vicesima manumissionum,) and Ciero laments this in
many places, particularly in his epistles to ii. 15. - G. from W.

I. In a great empire like that of Rome, a natural balance of
money must have gradually established itself. It has been already
observed, that as the wealth of the provinces was attracted to the
capital by the strong hand of conquest and power, so
considerable part of it was restored to the industrious provinces
by the gentle influence of commerce and arts. In the reign of
Augustus and his successors, duties were imposed on every kind of
merchandise, which through a thousand channels flowed to the great
centre of opulence and luxury; and in whatsoever manner the law
was expressed, it was the Roman purchaser, and not the provincial
merchant, who paid the tax. ^97 The rate of the customs varied
from the eighth to the fortieth part of the value of the
commodity; and we have a right to suppose that the variation was
directed by the unalterable maxims of policy; that a higher duty
was fixed on the articles of luxury than on those of necessity,
and that the productions raised or manufactured by the labor of
the subjects of the empire were treated with more indulgence than
was shown to the pernicious, or at least the unpopular commerce of
Arabia and India. ^98 There is still extant a long but imperfect
catalogue of eastern commodities, which about the time of
Alexander Severus were subject to the payment of duties; cinnamon,
myrrh, pepper, ginger, and the whole tribe of aromatics a great
variety of precious stones, among which the diamond was the most
remarkable for its price, and the emerald for its beauty; ^99
Parthian and Babylonian leather, cottons, silks, both raw and
manufactured, ebony ivory, and eunuchs. ^100 We may observe that
the use and value of those effeminate slaves gradually rose with
the decline of the empire.
[Footnote 97: Tacit. Annal. xiii. 31.

Note: The customs (portoria) existed in the times of the ancient
kings of Rome. They were suppressed in Italy, A. U. 694, by the
Praetor, Cecilius Matellus Nepos. Augustus only reestablished
them. See note above. - W.] [Footnote 98: See Pliny, (Hist.
Natur. l. vi. c. 23, lxii. c. 18.) His observation that the Indian
commodities were sold at Rome at a hundred times their original
price, may give us some notion of the produce of the customs,
since that original price amounted to more than eight hundred
thousand pounds.

[Footnote 99: The ancients were unacquainted with the art of
cutting diamonds.

[Footnote 100: M. Bouchaud, in his treatise de l'Impot chez les
Romains, has transcribed this catalogue from the Digest, and
attempts to illustrate it by a very prolix commentary.

Note: In the Pandects, l. 39, t. 14, de Publican. Compare Cicero
in Verrem. c. 72 - 74. - W.

II. The excise, introduced by Augustus after the civil wars, was
extremely moderate, but it was general. It seldom exceeded one
per cent.; but it comprehended whatever was sold in the markets or
by public auction, from the most considerable purchases of lands
and houses, to those minute objects which can only derive a value
from their infinite multitude and daily consumption. Such a tax,
as it affects the body of the people, has ever been the occasion
of clamor and discontent. An emperor well acquainted with the
wants and resources of the state was obliged to declare, by
public edict, that the support of the army depended in a great
measure on the produce of the excise. ^101
[Footnote 101: Tacit. Annal. i. 78. Two years afterwards, the
reduction of the poor kingdom of Cappadocia gave Tiberius
pretence for diminishing the excise of one half, but the relief
was of very short duration.] III. When Augustus resolved to
establish a permanent military force for the defence of his
government against foreign and domestic enemies, he instituted
peculiar treasury for the pay of the soldiers, the rewards of the
veterans, and the extra-ordinary expenses of war. The ample
revenue of the excise, though peculiarly appropriated to those
uses, was found inadequate. To supply the deficiency, the emperor
suggested a new tax of five per cent. on all legacies and
inheritances. But the nobles of Rome were more tenacious of
property than of freedom. Their indignant murmurs were received
by Augustus with his usual temper. He candidly referred the whole
business to the senate, and exhorted them to provide for the
public service by some other expedient of a less odious nature.
They were divided and perplexed. He insinuated to them, that
their obstinacy would oblige him to propose a general land tax and
capitation. They acquiesced in silence. ^102. The new imposition
on legacies and inheritances was, however, mitigated by some
restrictions. It did not take place unless the object was of
certain value, most probably of fifty or a hundred pieces of gold;
^103 nor could it be exacted from the nearest of kin on the
father's side. ^104 When the rights of nature and poverty were
thus secured, it seemed reasonable, that a stranger, or a distant
relation, who acquired an unexpected accession of fortune, should
cheerfully resign a twentieth part of it, for the benefit of the
state. ^105

[Footnote 102: Dion Cassius, l. lv. p. 794, l. lvi. p. 825. Note:
Dion neither mentions this proposition nor the capitation. He
only says that the emperor imposed a tax upon landed property, and
sent every where men employed to make a survey, without fixing how

much, and for how much each was to pay. The senators then
preferred giving the tax on legacies and inheritances. - W.

[Footnote 103: The sum is only fixed by conjecture.

[Footnote 104: As the Roman law subsisted for many ages, the
Cognati, or relations on the mother's side, were not called to the
succession. This harsh institution was gradually undermined by
humanity, and finally abolished by Justinian.

[Footnote 105: Plin. Panegyric. c. 37.

Such a tax, plentiful as it must prove in every wealthy community,
was most happily suited to the situation of the Romans, who could
frame their arbitrary wills, according to the dictates of reason
or caprice, without any restraint from the modern fetters of
entails and settlements. From various causes, the partiality of
paternal affection often lost its influence over the stern
patriots of the commonwealth, and the dissolute nobles of the
empire; and if the father bequeathed to his son the fourth part of
his estate, he removed all ground of legal complaint. ^106 But
rich childish old man was a domestic tyrant, and his power
increased with his years and infirmities. A servile crowd, in
which he frequently reckoned praetors and consuls, courted his
smiles, pampered his avarice, applauded his follies, served his
passions, and waited with impatience for his death. The arts of
attendance and flattery were formed into a most lucrative science;
those who professed it acquired a peculiar appellation; and the
whole city, according to the lively descriptions of satire, was
divided between two parties, the hunters and their game. ^107 Yet,
while so many unjust and extravagant wills were every day dictated
by cunning and subscribed by folly, a few were the result of
rational esteem and virtuous gratitude. Cicero, who had so often
defended the lives and fortunes of his fellow-citizens, was
rewarded with legacies to the amount of a hundred and seventy
thousand pounds; ^108 nor do the friends of the younger Pliny seem
to have been less generous to that amiable orator. ^109 Whatever
was the motive of the testator, the treasury claimed, without
distinction, the twentieth part of his estate: and in the course
of two or three generations, the whole property of the subject
must have gradually passed through the coffers of the state.

[Footnote 106: See Heineccius in the Antiquit. Juris Romani, l.
ii.] [Footnote 107: Horat. l. ii. Sat. v. Potron. c. 116, &c.
Plin. l. ii. Epist. 20.

[Footnote 108: Cicero in Philip. ii. c. 16.

[Footnote 109: See his epistles. Every such will gave him an
occasion of displaying his reverence to the dead, and his justice
to the living. He reconciled both in his behavior to a son who
had been disinherited by his mother, (v.l.)

In the first and golden years of the reign of Nero, that prince,
from a desire of popularity, and perhaps from a blind impulse of
benevolence, conceived a wish of abolishing the oppression of the
customs and excise. The wisest senators applauded his
magnanimity: but they diverted him from the execution of a design
which would have dissolved the strength and resources of the
republic. ^110 Had it indeed been possible to realize this dream
of fancy, such princes as Trajan and the Antonines would surely
have embraced with ardor the glorious opportunity of conferring so
signal an obligation on mankind. Satisfied, however, with
alleviating the public burden, they attempted not to remove it.
The mildness and precision of their laws ascertained the rule and
measure of taxation, and protected the subject of every rank
against arbitrary interpretations, antiquated claims, and the
insolent vexation of the farmers of the revenue. ^111 For it is
somewhat singular, that, in every age, the best and wisest of the
Roman governors persevered in this pernicious method of collecting
the principal branches at least of the excise and customs. ^112

[Footnote 110: Tacit. Annal. xiii. 50. Esprit des Loix, l. xii.

c. 19.] [Footnote 111: See Pliny's Panegyric, the Augustan
History, and Burman de Vectigal. passim.
[Footnote 112: The tributes (properly so called) were not farmed;
since the good princes often remitted many millions of arrears.

The sentiments, and, indeed, the situation, of Caracalla were very
different from those of the Antonines. Inattentive, or rather
averse, to the welfare of his people, he found himself under the
necessity of gratifying the insatiate avarice which he had excited
in the army. Of the several impositions introduced by Augustus,
the twentieth on inheritances and legacies was the most fruitful,
as well as the most comprehensive. As its influence was not
confined to Rome or Italy, the produce continually increased with
the gradual extension of the Roman City. The new citizens, though
charged, on equal terms, ^113 with the payment of new taxes, which
had not affected them as subjects, derived an ample compensation
from the rank they obtained, the privileges they acquired, and the
fair prospect of honors and fortune that was thrown open to their
ambition. But the favor which implied a distinction was lost in
the prodigality of Caracalla, and the reluctant provincials were
compelled to assume the vain title, and the real obligations, of
Roman citizens. ^* Nor was the rapacious son of Severus contented
with such a measure of taxation as had appeared sufficient to his
moderate predecessors. Instead of a twentieth, he exacted a tenth
of all legacies and inheritances; and during his reign (for the
ancient proportion was restored after his death) he crushed alike
every part of the empire under the weight of his iron sceptre.

[Footnote 113: The situation of the new citizens is minutely
described by Pliny, (Panegyric, c. 37, 38, 39). Trajan published
a law very much in their favor.

[Footnote *: Gibbon has adopted the opinion of Spanheim and of
Burman, which attributes to Caracalla this edict, which gave the
right of the city to all the inhabitants of the provinces. This
opinion may be disputed. Several passages of Spartianus, of
Aurelius Victor, and of Aristides, attribute this edict to Marc.
Aurelius. See a learned essay, entitled Joh. P. Mahneri Comm. de
Marc. Aur. Antonino Constitutionis de Civitate Universo Orbi
Romano data auctore. Halae, 1772, 8vo. It appears that Marc.
Aurelius made some modifications of this edict, which released the
provincials from some of the charges imposed by the right of the
city, and deprived them of some of the advantages which it
conferred. Caracalla annulled these modifications. - W.
[Footnote 114: Dion, l. lxxvii. p. 1295.

When all the provincials became liable to the peculiar impositions
of Roman citizens, they seemed to acquire a legal exemption from
the tributes which they had paid in their former condition of
subjects. Such were not the maxims of government adopted by
Caracalla and his pretended son. The old as well as the new taxes
were, at the same time, levied in the provinces. It was reserved
for the virtue of Alexander to relieve them in a great measure
from this intolerable grievance, by reducing the tributes to
thirteenth part of the sum exacted at the time of his accession.
^115 It is impossible to conjecture the motive that engaged him to
spare so trifling a remnant of the public evil; but the noxious
weed, which had not been totally eradicated, again sprang up with
the most luxuriant growth, and in the succeeding age darkened the
Roman world with its deadly shade. In the course of this history,
we shall be too often summoned to explain the land tax, the
capitation, and the heavy contributions of corn, wine, oil, and
meat, which were exacted from the provinces for the use of the
court, the army, and the capital.

[Footnote 115: He who paid ten aurei, the usual tribute, was
charged with no more than the third part of an aureus, and
proportional pieces of gold were coined by Alexander's order.
Hist. August. p. 127, with the commentary of Salmasius.

As long as Rome and Italy were respected as the centre of
government, a national spirit was preserved by the ancient, and
insensibly imbibed by the adopted, citizens. The principal
commands of the army were filled by men who had received a liberal
education, were well instructed in the advantages of laws and
letters, and who had risen, by equal steps, through the regular
succession of civil and military honors. ^116 To their influence
and example we may partly ascribe the modest obedience of the
legions during the two first centuries of the Imperial history.

[Footnote 116: See the lives of Agricola, Vespasian, Trajan,
Severus, and his three competitors; and indeed of all the eminent
men of those times.] But when the last enclosure of the Roman
constitution was trampled down by Caracalla, the separation of
professions gradually succeeded to the distinction of ranks. The
more polished citizens of the internal provinces were alone
qualified to act as lawyers and magistrates. The rougher trade of
arms was abandoned to the peasants and barbarians of the
frontiers, who knew no country but their camp, no science but that
of war no civil laws, and scarcely those of military discipline.
With bloody hands, savage manners, and desperate resolutions, they
sometimes guarded, but much oftener subverted, the throne of the

Chapter VII: Tyranny Of Maximin, Rebellion, Civil Wars, Death Of

Part I.

The Elevation And Tyranny Of Maximin. - Rebellion In Africa And
Italy, Under The Authority Of The Senate. - Civil Wars And
Seditions. - Violent Deaths Of Maximin And His Son, Of Maximus And
Balbinus, And Of The Three Gordians. - Usurpation And Secular
Games Of Philip.

Of the various forms of government which have prevailed in the
world, an hereditary monarchy seems to present the fairest scope
for ridicule. Is it possible to relate without an indignant
smile, that, on the father's decease, the property of a nation,
like that of a drove of oxen, descends to his infant son, as yet
unknown to mankind and to himself; and that the bravest warriors
and the wisest statesmen, relinquishing their natural right to
empire, approach the royal cradle with bended knees and
protestations of inviolable fidelity? Satire and declamation may
paint these obvious topics in the most dazzling colors, but our
more serious thoughts will respect a useful prejudice, that
establishes a rule of succession, independent of the passions of
mankind; and we shall cheerfully acquiesce in any expedient which
deprives the multitude of the dangerous, and indeed the ideal,
power of giving themselves a master.

In the cool shade of retirement, we may easily devise imaginary
forms of government, in which the sceptre shall be constantly
bestowed on the most worthy, by the free and incorrupt suffrage of
the whole community. Experience overturns these airy fabrics, and
teaches us, that in a large society, the election of a monarch can
never devolve to the wisest, or to the most numerous part of the
people. The army is the only order of men sufficiently united to
concur in the same sentiments, and powerful enough to impose them
on the rest of their fellow-citizens; but the temper of soldiers,
habituated at once to violence and to slavery, renders them very
unfit guardians of a legal, or even a civil constitution.

Justice, humanity, or political wisdom, are qualities they are too
little acquainted with in themselves, to appreciate them in
others. Valor will acquire their esteem, and liberality will
purchase their suffrage; but the first of these merits is often
lodged in the most savage breasts; the latter can only exert
itself at the expense of the public; and both may be turned
against the possessor of the throne, by the ambition of a daring

The superior prerogative of birth, when it has obtained the
sanction of time and popular opinion, is the plainest and least
invidious of all distinctions among mankind. The acknowledged
right extinguishes the hopes of faction, and the conscious
security disarms the cruelty of the monarch. To the firm
establishment of this idea we owe the peaceful succession and mild
administration of European monarchies. To the defect of it we
must attribute the frequent civil wars, through which an Asiatic
despot is obliged to cut his way to the throne of his fathers.
Yet, even in the East, the sphere of contention is usually limited
to the princes of the reigning house, and as soon as the more
fortunate competitor has removed his brethren by the sword and the
bowstring, he no longer entertains any jealousy of his meaner
subjects. But the Roman empire, after the authority of the senate
had sunk into contempt, was a vast scene of confusion. The royal,
and even noble, families of the provinces had long since been led
in triumph before the car of the haughty republicans. The ancient
families of Rome had successively fallen beneath the tyranny of
the Caesars; and whilst those princes were shackled by the forms
of a commonwealth, and disappointed by the repeated failure of
their posterity, ^1 it was impossible that any idea of hereditary
succession should have taken root in the minds of their subjects.
The right to the throne, which none could claim from birth, every
one assumed from merit. The daring hopes of ambition were set
loose from the salutary restraints of law and prejudice; and the
meanest of mankind might, without folly, entertain a hope of being
raised by valor and fortune to a rank in the army, in which
single crime would enable him to wrest the sceptre of the world
from his feeble and unpopular master. After the murder of
Alexander Severus, and the elevation of Maximin, no emperor could
think himself safe upon the throne, and every barbarian peasant of
the frontier might aspire to that august, but dangerous station.

[Footnote 1: There had been no example of three successive
generations on the throne; only three instances of sons who
succeeded their fathers. The marriages of the Caesars
(notwithstanding the permission, and the frequent practice of
divorces) were generally unfruitful.

About thirty-two years before that event, the emperor Severus,
returning from an eastern expedition, halted in Thrace, to
celebrate, with military games, the birthday of his younger son,
Geta. The country flocked in crowds to behold their sovereign,

and a young barbarian of gigantic stature earnestly solicited, in
his rude dialect, that he might be allowed to contend for the
prize of wrestling. As the pride of discipline would have been
disgraced in the overthrow of a Roman soldier by a Thracian
peasant, he was matched with the stoutest followers of the camp,
sixteen of whom he successively laid on the ground. His victory
was rewarded by some trifling gifts, and a permission to enlist in
the troops. The next day, the happy barbarian was distinguished
above a crowd of recruits, dancing and exulting after the fashion
of his country. As soon as he perceived that he had attracted the
emperor's notice, he instantly ran up to his horse, and followed
him on foot, without the least appearance of fatigue, in a long
and rapid career. "Thracian," said Severus with astonishment,
"art thou disposed to wrestle after thy race?" "Most willingly,
sir," replied the unwearied youth; and, almost in a breath,
overthrew seven of the strongest soldiers in the army. A gold
collar was the prize of his matchless vigor and activity, and he
was immediately appointed to serve in the horseguards who always
attended on the person of the sovereign. ^

[Footnote 2: Hist. August p. 138.

Maximin, for that was his name, though born on the territories of
the empire, descended from a mixed race of barbarians. His father
was a Goth, and his mother of the nation of the Alani. He
displayed on every occasion a valor equal to his strength; and his
native fierceness was soon tempered or disguised by the knowledge
of the world. Under the reign of Severus and his son, he obtained
the rank of centurion, with the favor and esteem of both those
princes, the former of whom was an excellent judge of merit.
Gratitude forbade Maximin to serve under the assassin of
Caracalla. Honor taught him to decline the effeminate insults of
Elagabalus. On the accession of Alexander he returned to court,
and was placed by that prince in a station useful to the service,
and honorable to himself. The fourth legion, to which he was
appointed tribune, soon became, under his care, the best
disciplined of the whole army. With the general applause of the
soldiers, who bestowed on their favorite hero the names of Ajax
and Hercules, he was successively promoted to the first military
command; ^3 and had not he still retained too much of his savage
origin, the emperor might perhaps have given his own sister in
marriage to the son of Maximin. ^

[Footnote 3: Hist. August. p. 140. Herodian, l. vi. p. 223.
Aurelius Victor. By comparing these authors, it should seem that
Maximin had the particular command of the Tribellian horse, with
the general commission of disciplining the recruits of the whole
army. His biographer ought to have marked, with more care, his
exploits, and the successive steps of his military promotions.

[Footnote 4: See the original letter of Alexander Severus, Hist.
August. p. 149.

Instead of securing his fidelity, these favors served only to
inflame the ambition of the Thracian peasant, who deemed his
fortune inadequate to his merit, as long as he was constrained to
acknowledge a superior. Though a stranger to rea wisdom, he was
not devoid of a selfish cunning, which showed him that the emperor
had lost the affection of the army, and taught him to improve
their discontent to his own advantage. It is easy for faction and
calumny to shed their poison on the administration of the best of
princes, and to accuse even their virtues by artfully confounding
them with those vices to which they bear the nearest affinity.
The troops listened with pleasure to the emissaries of Maximin.
They blushed at their own ignominious patience, which, during
thirteen years, had supported the vexatious discipline imposed by
an effeminate Syrian, the timid slave of his mother and of the
senate. It was time, they cried, to cast away that useless
phantom of the civil power, and to elect for their prince and
general a real soldier, educated in camps, exercised in war, who
would assert the glory, and distribute among his companions the
treasures, of the empire. A great army was at that time assembled
on the banks of the Rhine, under the command of the emperor
himself, who, almost immediately after his return from the Persian
war, had been obliged to march against the barbarians of Germany.
The important care of training and reviewing the new levies was
intrusted to Maximin. One day, as he entered the field of
exercise, the troops either from a sudden impulse, or a formed
conspiracy, saluted him emperor, silenced by their loud
acclamations his obstinate refusal, and hastened to consummate
their rebellion by the murder of Alexander Severus.

The circumstances of his death are variously related. The
writers, who suppose that he died in ignorance of the ingratitude
and ambition of Maximin, affirm, that, after taking a frugal
repast in the sight of the army, he retired to sleep, and that,
about the seventh hour of the day, a part of his own guards broke
into the imperial tent, and, with many wounds, assassinated their
virtuous and unsuspecting prince. ^5 If we credit another, and
indeed a more probable account, Maximin was invested with the
purple by a numerous detachment, at the distance of several miles
from the head-quarters; and he trusted for success rather to the
secret wishes than to the public declarations of the great army.
Alexander had sufficient time to awaken a faint sense of loyalty
among the troops; but their reluctant professions of fidelity
quickly vanished on the appearance of Maximin, who declared
himself the friend and advocate of the military order, and was
unanimously acknowledged emperor of the Romans by the applauding
legions. The son of Mamaea, betrayed and deserted, withdrew into
his tent, desirous at least to conceal his approaching fate from
the insults of the multitude. He was soon followed by a tribune
and some centurions, the ministers of death; but instead of
receiving with manly resolution the inevitable stroke, his
unavailing cries and entreaties disgraced the last moments of his

life, and converted into contempt some portion of the just pity
which his innocence and misfortunes must inspire. His mother,
Mamaea, whose pride and avarice he loudly accused as the cause of
his ruin, perished with her son. The most faithful of his friends
were sacrificed to the first fury of the soldiers. Others were
reserved for the more deliberate cruelty of the usurper; and those
who experienced the mildest treatment, were stripped of their
employments, and ignominiously driven from the court and army. ^
[Footnote 5: Hist. August. p. 135. I have softened some of the
most improbable circumstances of this wretched biographer. From
his ill-worded narration, it should seem that the prince's buffoon
having accidentally entered the tent, and awakened the slumbering
monarch, the fear of punishment urged him to persuade the
disaffected soldiers to commit the murder.] [Footnote 6: Herodian,

l. vi. 223-227.
The former tyrants, Caligula and Nero, Commodus, and Caracalla,
were all dissolute and unexperienced youths, ^7 educated in the
purple, and corrupted by the pride of empire, the luxury of Rome,
and the perfidious voice of flattery. The cruelty of Maximin was
derived from a different source, the fear of contempt. Though he
depended on the attachment of the soldiers, who loved him for
virtues like their own, he was conscious that his mean and
barbarian origin, his savage appearance, and his total ignorance
of the arts and institutions of civil life, ^8 formed a very
unfavorable contrast with the amiable manners of the unhappy
Alexander. He remembered, that, in his humbler fortune, he had
often waited before the door of the haughty nobles of Rome, and
had been denied admittance by the insolence of their slaves. He
recollected too the friendship of a few who had relieved his
poverty, and assisted his rising hopes. But those who had
spurned, and those who had protected, the Thracian, were guilty of
the same crime, the knowledge of his original obscurity. For this
crime many were put to death; and by the execution of several of
his benefactors, Maximin published, in characters of blood, the
indelible history of his baseness and ingratitude. ^9 [Footnote 7:
Caligula, the eldest of the four, was only twenty-five years of
age when he ascended the throne; Caracalla was twenty-three,
Commodus nineteen, and Nero no more than seventeen.

[Footnote 8: It appears that he was totally ignorant of the Greek
language; which, from its universal use in conversation and
letters, was an essential part of every liberal education.

[Footnote 9: Hist. August. p. 141. Herodian, l. vii. p. 237. The
latter of these historians has been most unjustly censured for
sparing the vices of Maximin.

The dark and sanguinary soul of the tyrant was open to every
suspicion against those among his subjects who were the most
distinguished by their birth or merit. Whenever he was alarmed
with the sound of treason, his cruelty was unbounded and

unrelenting. A conspiracy against his life was either discovered
or imagined, and Magnus, a consular senator, was named as the
principal author of it. Without a witness, without a trial, and
without an opportunity of defence, Magnus, with four thousand of
his supposed accomplices, was put to death. Italy and the whole
empire were infested with innumerable spies and informers. On the
slightest accusation, the first of the Roman nobles, who had
governed provinces, commanded armies, and been adorned with the
consular and triumphal ornaments, were chained on the public
carriages, and hurried away to the emperor's presence.
Confiscation, exile, or simple death, were esteemed uncommon
instances of his lenity. Some of the unfortunate sufferers he
ordered to be sewed up in the hides of slaughtered animals, others
to be exposed to wild beasts, others again to be beaten to death
with clubs. During the three years of his reign, he disdained to
visit either Rome or Italy. His camp, occasionally removed from
the banks of the Rhine to those of the Danube, was the seat of his
stern despotism, which trampled on every principle of law and
justice, and was supported by the avowed power of the sword. ^10
No man of noble birth, elegant accomplishments, or knowledge of
civil business, was suffered near his person; and the court of
Roman emperor revived the idea of those ancient chiefs of slaves
and gladiators, whose savage power had left a deep impression of
terror and detestation. ^11

[Footnote 10: The wife of Maximin, by insinuating wise counsels
with female gentleness, sometimes brought back the tyrant to the
way of truth and humanity. See Ammianus Marcellinus, l. xiv. c.
l, where he alludes to the fact which he had more fully related
under the reign of the Gordians. We may collect from the medals,
that Paullina was the name of this benevolent empress; and from
the title of Diva, that she died before Maximin. (Valesius ad
loc. cit. Ammian.) Spanheim de U. et P. N. tom. ii. p. 300. Note:
If we may believe Syrcellus and Zonaras, in was Maximin himself
who ordered her death - G]

[Footnote 11: He was compared to Spartacus and Athenio. Hist.
August p. 141.

As long as the cruelty of Maximin was confined to the illustrious
senators, or even to the bold adventurers, who in the court or
army expose themselves to the caprice of fortune, the body of the
people viewed their sufferings with indifference, or perhaps with
pleasure. But the tyrant's avarice, stimulated by the insatiate
desires of the soldiers, at length attacked the public property.
Every city of the empire was possessed of an independent revenue,
destined to purchase corn for the multitude, and to supply the
expenses of the games and entertainments. By a single act of
authority, the whole mass of wealth was at once confiscated for
the use of the Imperial treasury. The temples were stripped of
their most valuable offerings of gold and silver, and the statues
of gods, heroes, and emperors, were melted down and coined into

money. These impious orders could not be executed without tumults
and massacres, as in many places the people chose rather to die in
the defence of their altars, than to behold in the midst of peace
their cities exposed to the rapine and cruelty of war. The
soldiers themselves, among whom this sacrilegious plunder was
distributed, received it with a blush; and hardened as they were
in acts of violence, they dreaded the just reproaches of their
friends and relations. Throughout the Roman world a general cry of
indignation was heard, imploring vengeance on the common enemy of
human kind; and at length, by an act of private oppression,
peaceful and unarmed province was driven into rebellion against
him. ^12 [Footnote 12: Herodian, l. vii. p. 238. Zosim. l. i. p.
15.] The procurator of Africa was a servant worthy of such
master, who considered the fines and confiscations of the rich as
one of the most fruitful branches of the Imperial revenue. An
iniquitous sentence had been pronounced against some opulent
youths of that country, the execution of which would have stripped
them of far the greater part of their patrimony. In this
extremity, a resolution that must either complete or prevent their
ruin, was dictated by despair. A respite of three days, obtained
with difficulty from the rapacious treasurer, was employed in
collecting from their estates a great number of slaves and
peasants blindly devoted to the commands of their lords, and armed
with the rustic weapons of clubs and axes. The leaders of the
conspiracy, as they were admitted to the audience of the
procurator, stabbed him with the daggers concealed under their
garments, and, by the assistance of their tumultuary train, seized
on the little town of Thysdrus, ^13 and erected the standard of
rebellion against the sovereign of the Roman empire. They rested
their hopes on the hatred of mankind against Maximin, and they
judiciously resolved to oppose to that detested tyrant an emperor
whose mild virtues had already acquired the love and esteem of the
Romans, and whose authority over the province would give weight
and stability to the enterprise. Gordianus, their proconsul, and
the object of their choice, refused, with unfeigned reluctance,
the dangerous honor, and begged with tears, that they would suffer
him to terminate in peace a long and innocent life, without
staining his feeble age with civil blood. Their menaces compelled
him to accept the Imperial purple, his only refuge, indeed,
against the jealous cruelty of Maximin; since, according to the
reasoning of tyrants, those who have been esteemed worthy of the
throne deserve death, and those who deliberate have already
rebelled. ^14

[Footnote 13: In the fertile territory of Byzacium, one hundred
and fifty miles to the south of Carthage. This city was
decorated, probably by the Gordians, with the title of colony, and
with a fine amphitheatre, which is still in a very perfect state.
See Intinerar. Wesseling, p. 59; and Shaw's Travels, p. 117.

[Footnote 14: Herodian, l. vii. p. 239. Hist. August. p. 153.
The family of Gordianus was one of the most illustrious of the

Roman senate. On the father's side he was descended from the
Gracchi; on his mother's, from the emperor Trajan. A great estate
enabled him to support the dignity of his birth, and in the
enjoyment of it, he displayed an elegant taste and beneficent
disposition. The palace in Rome, formerly inhabited by the great
Pompey, had been, during several generations, in the possession of
Gordian's family. ^15 It was distinguished by ancient trophies of
naval victories, and decorated with the works of modern painting.
His villa on the road to Praeneste was celebrated for baths of
singular beauty and extent, for three stately rooms of a hundred
feet in length, and for a magnificent portico, supported by two
hundred columns of the four most curious and costly sorts of
marble. ^16 The public shows exhibited at his expense, and in
which the people were entertained with many hundreds of wild
beasts and gladiators, ^17 seem to surpass the fortune of
subject; and whilst the liberality of other magistrates was
confined to a few solemn festivals at Rome, the magnificence of
Gordian was repeated, when he was aedile, every month in the year,
and extended, during his consulship, to the principal cities of
Italy. He was twice elevated to the last-mentioned dignity, by
Caracalla and by Alexander; for he possessed the uncommon talent
of acquiring the esteem of virtuous princes, without alarming the
jealousy of tyrants. His long life was innocently spent in the
study of letters and the peaceful honors of Rome; and, till he was
named proconsul of Africa by the voice of the senate and the
approbation of Alexander, ^18 he appears prudently to have
declined the command of armies and the government of provinces. ^
As long as that emperor lived, Africa was happy under the
administration of his worthy representative: after the barbarous
Maximin had usurped the throne, Gordianus alleviated the miseries
which he was unable to prevent. When he reluctantly accepted the
purple, he was above fourscore years old; a last and valuable
remains of the happy age of the Antonines, whose virtues he
revived in his own conduct, and celebrated in an elegant poem of
thirty books. With the venerable proconsul, his son, who had
accompanied him into Africa as his lieutenant, was likewise
declared emperor. His manners were less pure, but his character
was equally amiable with that of his father. Twenty-two
acknowledged concubines, and a library of sixty-two thousand
volumes, attested the variety of his inclinations; and from the
productions which he left behind him, it appears that the former
as well as the latter were designed for use rather than for
ostentation. ^19 The Roman people acknowledged in the features of
the younger Gordian the resemblance of Scipio Africanus, ^
recollected with pleasure that his mother was the granddaughter of
Antoninus Pius, and rested the public hope on those latent virtues
which had hitherto, as they fondly imagined, lain concealed in the
luxurious indolence of private life.

[Footnote 15: Hist. Aug. p. 152. The celebrated house of Pompey
in carinis was usurped by Marc Antony, and consequently became,
after the Triumvir's death, a part of the Imperial domain. The

emperor Trajan allowed, and even encouraged, the rich senators to
purchase those magnificent and useless places, (Plin. Panegyric.

c. 50;) and it may seem probable, that, on this occasion, Pompey's
house came into the possession of Gordian's great- grandfather.
[Footnote 16: The Claudian, the Numidian, the Carystian, and the
Synnadian. The colors of Roman marbles have been faintly described
and imperfectly distinguished. It appears, however, that the
Carystian was a sea-green, and that the marble of Synnada was
white mixed with oval spots of purple. See Salmasius ad Hist.
August. p. 164.

[Footnote 17: Hist. August. p. 151, 152. He sometimes gave five
hundred pair of gladiators, never less than one hundred and fifty.
He once gave for the use of the circus one hundred Sicilian, and
as many Cappaecian Cappadecian horses. The animals designed for
hunting were chiefly bears, boars, bulls, stags, elks, wild asses,
&c. Elephants and lions seem to have been appropriated to
Imperial magnificence.

[Footnote 18: See the original letter, in the Augustan History, p.
152, which at once shows Alexander's respect for the authority of
the senate, and his esteem for the proconsul appointed by that

[Footnote *: Herodian expressly says that he had administered many
provinces, lib. vii. 10. - W.

[Footnote 19: By each of his concubines, the younger Gordian left
three or four children. His literary productions, though less
numerous, were by no means contemptible.

[Footnote !: Not the personal likeness, but the family descent
from the Scipiod. - W.

As soon as the Gordians had appeased the first tumult of a popular
election, they removed their court to Carthage. They were
received with the acclamations of the Africans, who honored their
virtues, and who, since the visit of Hadrian, had never beheld the
majesty of a Roman emperor. But these vain acclamations neither
strengthened nor confirmed the title of the Gordians. They were
induced by principle, as well as interest, to solicit the
approbation of the senate; and a deputation of the noblest
provincials was sent, without delay, to Rome, to relate and
justify the conduct of their countrymen, who, having long suffered
with patience, were at length resolved to act with vigor. The
letters of the new princes were modest and respectful, excusing
the necessity which had obliged them to accept the Imperial title;
but submitting their election and their fate to the supreme
judgment of the senate. ^20

[Footnote 20: Herodian, l. vii. p. 243. Hist. August. p. 144.
The inclinations of the senate were neither doubtful nor divided.
The birth and noble alliances of the Gordians had intimately
connected them with the most illustrious houses of Rome. Their
fortune had created many dependants in that assembly, their merit
had acquired many friends. Their mild administration opened the
flattering prospect of the restoration, not only of the civil but
even of the republican government. The terror of military
violence, which had first obliged the senate to forget the murder
of Alexander, and to ratify the election of a barbarian peasant,
^21 now produced a contrary effect, and provoked them to assert
the injured rights of freedom and humanity. The hatred of Maximin
towards the senate was declared and implacable; the tamest
submission had not appeased his fury, the most cautious innocence
would not remove his suspicions; and even the care of their own
safety urged them to share the fortune of an enterprise, of which
(if unsuccessful) they were sure to be the first victims. These
considerations, and perhaps others of a more private nature, were
debated in a previous conference of the consuls and the
magistrates. As soon as their resolution was decided, they
convoked in the temple of Castor the whole body of the senate,
according to an ancient form of secrecy, ^22 calculated to awaken
their attention, and to conceal their decrees. "Conscript
fathers," said the consul Syllanus, "the two Gordians, both of
consular dignity, the one your proconsul, the other your
lieutenant, have been declared emperors by the general consent of
Africa. Let us return thanks," he boldly continued, "to the youth
of Thysdrus; let us return thanks to the faithful people of
Carthage, our generous deliverers from a horrid monster - Why do
you hear me thus coolly, thus timidly? Why do you cast those
anxious looks on each other? Why hesitate? Maximin is a public
enemy! may his enmity soon expire with him, and may we long enjoy
the prudence and felicity of Gordian the father, the valor and
constancy of Gordian the son!" ^23 The noble ardor of the consul
revived the languid spirit of the senate. By a unanimous decree,
the election of the Gordians was ratified, Maximin, his son, and
his adherents, were pronounced enemies of their country, and
liberal rewards were offered to whomsoever had the courage and
good fortune to destroy them. [See Temple Of Castor and Pollux]

[Footnote 21: Quod. tamen patres dum periculosum existimant;
inermes armato esistere approbaverunt. - Aurelius Victor.

[Footnote 22: Even the servants of the house, the scribes, &c.
were excluded, and their office was filled by the senators
themselves. We are obliged to the Augustan History. p. 159, for
preserving this curious example of the old discipline of the

[Footnote 23: This spirited speech, translated from the Augustan
historian, p. 156, seems transcribed by him from the origina
registers of the senate] During the emperor's absence,

detachment of the Praetorian guards remained at Rome, to protect,
or rather to command, the capital. The praefect Vitalianus had
signalized his fidelity to Maximin, by the alacrity with which he
had obeyed, and even prevented the cruel mandates of the tyrant.
His death alone could rescue the authority of the senate, and the
lives of the senators from a state of danger and suspense. Before
their resolves had transpired, a quaestor and some tribunes were
commissioned to take his devoted life. They executed the order
with equal boldness and success; and, with their bloody daggers in
their hands, ran through the streets, proclaiming to the people
and the soldiers the news of the happy revolution. The enthusiasm
of liberty was seconded by the promise of a large donative, in
lands and money; the statues of Maximin were thrown down; the
capital of the empire acknowledged, with transport, the authority
of the two Gordians and the senate; ^24 and the example of Rome
was followed by the rest of Italy.

[Footnote 24: Herodian, l. vii. p. 244]

A new spirit had arisen in that assembly, whose long patience had
been insulted by wanton despotism and military license. The
senate assumed the reins of government, and, with a calm
intrepidity, prepared to vindicate by arms the cause of freedom.
Among the consular senators recommended by their merit and
services to the favor of the emperor Alexander, it was easy to
select twenty, not unequal to the command of an army, and the
conduct of a war. To these was the defence of Italy intrusted.
Each was appointed to act in his respective department, authorized
to enroll and discipline the Italian youth; and instructed to
fortify the ports and highways, against the impending invasion of
Maximin. A number of deputies, chosen from the most illustrious
of the senatorian and equestrian orders, were despatched at the
same time to the governors of the several provinces, earnestly
conjuring them to fly to the assistance of their country, and to
remind the nations of their ancient ties of friendship with the
Roman senate and people. The general respect with which these
deputies were received, and the zeal of Italy and the provinces in
favor of the senate, sufficiently prove that the subjects of
Maximin were reduced to that uncommon distress, in which the body
of the people has more to fear from oppression than from
resistance. The consciousness of that melancholy truth, inspires
a degree of persevering fury, seldom to be found in those civil
wars which are artificially supported for the benefit of a few
factious and designing leaders. ^25 [Footnote 25: Herodian, l.

vii. p. 247, l. viii. p. 277. Hist. August. p 156-158.
For while the cause of the Gordians was embraced with such
diffusive ardor, the Gordians themselves were no more. The feeble
court of Carthage was alarmed by the rapid approach of Capelianus,
governor of Mauritania, who, with a small band of veterans, and
fierce host of barbarians, attacked a faithful, but unwarlike
province. The younger Gordian sallied out to meet the enemy at

the head of a few guards, and a numerous undisciplined multitude,
educated in the peaceful luxury of Carthage. His useless valor
served only to procure him an honorable death on the field of
battle. His aged father, whose reign had not exceeded thirty-six
days, put an end to his life on the first news of the defeat.
Carthage, destitute of defence, opened her gates to the conqueror,
and Africa was exposed to the rapacious cruelty of a slave,
obliged to satisfy his unrelenting master with a large account of
blood and treasure. ^26

[Footnote 26: Herodian, l. vii. p. 254. Hist. August. p. 150-160.
We may observe, that one month and six days, for the reign of
Gordian, is a just correction of Casaubon and Panvinius, instead
of the absurd reading of one year and six months. See Commentar.

p. 193. Zosimus relates, l. i. p. 17, that the two Gordians
perished by a tempest in the midst of their navigation. A strange
ignorance of history, or a strange abuse of metaphors!] The fate
of the Gordians filled Rome with just but unexpected terror. The
senate, convoked in the temple of Concord, affected to transact
the common business of the day; and seemed to decline, with
trembling anxiety, the consideration of their own and the public
danger. A silent consternation prevailed in the assembly, till
senator, of the name and family of Trajan, awakened his brethren
from their fatal lethargy. He represented to them that the choice
of cautious, dilatory measures had been long since out of their
power; that Maximin, implacable by nature, and exasperated by
injuries, was advancing towards Italy, at the head of the military
force of the empire; and that their only remaining alternative was
either to meet him bravely in the field, or tamely to expect the
tortures and ignominious death reserved for unsuccessful
rebellion. "We have lost," continued he, "two excellent princes;
but unless we desert ourselves, the hopes of the republic have not
perished with the Gordians. Many are the senators whose virtues
have deserved, and whose abilities would sustain, the Imperial
dignity. Let us elect two emperors, one of whom may conduct the
war against the public enemy, whilst his colleague remains at Rome
to direct the civil administration. I cheerfully expose myself to
the danger and envy of the nomination, and give my vote in favor
of Maximus and Balbinus. Ratify my choice, conscript fathers, or
appoint in their place, others more worthy of the empire." The
general apprehension silenced the whispers of jealousy; the merit
of the candidates was universally acknowledged; and the house
resounded with the sincere acclamations of "Long life and victory
to the emperors Maximus and Balbinus. You are happy in the
judgment of the senate; may the republic be happy under your
administration!" ^27
[Footnote 27: See the Augustan History, p. 166, from the registers
of the senate; the date is confessedly faulty but the coincidence
of the Apollinatian games enables us to correct it.

Chapter VII: Tyranny Of Maximin, Rebellion, Civil Wars, Death Of

Part II.

The virtues and the reputation of the new emperors justified the
most sanguine hopes of the Romans. The various nature of their
talents seemed to appropriate to each his peculiar department of
peace and war, without leaving room for jealous emulation.
Balbinus was an admired orator, a poet of distinguished fame, and
a wise magistrate, who had exercised with innocence and applause
the civil jurisdiction in almost all the interior provinces of the
empire. His birth was noble, ^28 his fortune affluent, his
manners liberal and affable. In him the love of pleasure was
corrected by a sense of dignity, nor had the habits of ease
deprived him of a capacity for business. The mind of Maximus was
formed in a rougher mould. By his valor and abilities he had
raised himself from the meanest origin to the first employments of
the state and army. His victories over the Sarmatians and the
Germans, the austerity of his life, and the rigid impartiality of
his justice, while he was a Praefect of the city, commanded the
esteem of a people whose affections were engaged in favor of the
more amiable Balbinus. The two colleagues had both been consuls,
(Balbinus had twice enjoyed that honorable office,) both had been
named among the twenty lieutenants of the senate; and since the
one was sixty and the other seventy-four years old, ^29 they had
both attained the full maturity of age and experience. [Footnote

28: He was descended from Cornelius Balbus, a noble Spaniard, and
the adopted son of Theophanes, the Greek historian. Balbus
obtained the freedom of Rome by the favor of Pompey, and preserved
it by the eloquence of Cicero. (See Orat. pro Cornel. Balbo.) The
friendship of Caesar, (to whom he rendered the most important
secret services in the civil war) raised him to the consulship and
the pontificate, honors never yet possessed by a stranger. The
nephew of this Balbus triumphed over the Garamantes. See
Dictionnaire de Bayle, au mot Balbus, where he distinguishes the
several persons of that name, and rectifies, with his usual
accuracy, the mistakes of former writers concerning them.
[Footnote 29: Zonaras, l. xii. p. 622. But little dependence is
to be had on the authority of a modern Greek, so grossly ignorant
of the history of the third century, that he creates several
imaginary emperors, and confounds those who really existed.

After the senate had conferred on Maximus and Balbinus an equal
portion of the consular and tribunitian powers, the title of
Fathers of their country, and the joint office of Supreme Pontiff,
they ascended to the Capitol to return thanks to the gods,
protectors of Rome. ^30 The solemn rites of sacrifice were
disturbed by a sedition of the people. The licentious multitude
neither loved the rigid Maximus, nor did they sufficiently fear
the mild and humane Balbinus. Their increasing numbers surrounded

the temple of Jupiter; with obstinate clamors they asserted their
inherent right of consenting to the election of their sovereign;
and demanded, with an apparent moderation, that, besides the two
emperors, chosen by the senate, a third should be added of the
family of the Gordians, as a just return of gratitude to those
princes who had sacrificed their lives for the republic. At the
head of the city-guards, and the youth of the equestrian order,
Maximus and Balbinus attempted to cut their way through the
seditious multitude. The multitude, armed with sticks and stones,
drove them back into the Capitol. It is prudent to yield when the
contest, whatever may be the issue of it, must be fatal to both
parties. A boy, only thirteen years of age, the grandson of the
elder, and nephew ^* of the younger Gordian, was produced to the
people, invested with the ornaments and title of Caesar. The
tumult was appeased by this easy condescension; and the two
emperors, as soon as they had been peaceably acknowledged in Rome,
prepared to defend Italy against the common enemy.

[Footnote 30: Herodian, l. vii. p. 256, supposes that the senate
was at first convoked in the Capitol, and is very eloquent on the
occasion. The Augustar History p. 116, seems much more

[Footnote *: According to some, the son. - G.

Whilst in Rome and Africa, revolutions succeeded each other with
such amazing rapidity, that the mind of Maximin was agitated by
the most furious passions. He is said to have received the news
of the rebellion of the Gordians, and of the decree of the senate
against him, not with the temper of a man, but the rage of a wild
beast; which, as it could not discharge itself on the distant
senate, threatened the life of his son, of his friends, and of all
who ventured to approach his person. The grateful intelligence of
the death of the Gordians was quickly followed by the assurance
that the senate, laying aside all hopes of pardon or
accommodation, had substituted in their room two emperors, with
whose merit he could not be unacquainted. Revenge was the only
consolation left to Maximin, and revenge could only be obtained by
arms. The strength of the legions had been assembled by Alexander
from all parts of the empire. Three successful campaigns against
the Germans and the Sarmatians, had raised their fame, confirmed
their discipline, and even increased their numbers, by filling the
ranks with the flower of the barbarian youth. The life of Maximin
had been spent in war, and the candid severity of history cannot
refuse him the valor of a soldier, or even the abilities of an
experienced general. ^31 It might naturally be expected, that
prince of such a character, instead of suffering the rebellion to
gain stability by delay, should immediately have marched from the
banks of the Danube to those of the Tyber, and that his victorious
army, instigated by contempt for the senate, and eager to gather
the spoils of Italy, should have burned with impatience to finish
the easy and lucrative conquest. Yet as far as we can trust to

the obscure chronology of that period, ^32 it appears that the
operations of some foreign war deferred the Italian expedition
till the ensuing spring. From the prudent conduct of Maximin, we
may learn that the savage features of his character have been
exaggerated by the pencil of party, that his passions, however
impetuous, submitted to the force of reason, and that the
barbarian possessed something of the generous spirit of Sylla, who
subdued the enemies of Rome before he suffered himself to revenge
his private injuries. ^33

[Footnote 31: In Herodian, l. vii. p. 249, and in the Augustan
History, we have three several orations of Maximin to his army, on
the rebellion of Africa and Rome: M. de Tillemont has very justly
observed that they neither agree with each other nor with truth.
Histoire des Empereurs, tom. iii. p. 799.

[Footnote 32: The carelessness of the writers of that age, leaves
us in a singular perplexity. 1. We know that Maximus and Balbinus
were killed during the Capitoline games. Herodian, l. viii. p.

285. The authority of Censorinus (de Die Natali, c. 18) enables
us to fix those games with certainty to the year 238, but leaves
us in ignorance of the month or day. 2. The election of Gordian by
the senate is fixed with equal certainty to the 27th of May; but
we are at a loss to discover whether it was in the same or the
preceding year. Tillemont and Muratori, who maintain the two
opposite opinions, bring into the field a desultory troop of
authorities, conjectures and probabilities. The one seems to draw
out, the other to contract the series of events between those
periods, more than can be well reconciled to reason and history.
Yet it is necessary to choose between them. Note: Eckhel has more
recently treated these chronological questions with a perspicuity
which gives great probability to his conclusions. Setting aside
all the historians, whose contradictions are irreconcilable, he
has only consulted the medals, and has arranged the events before
us in the following order:
Maximin, A. U. 990, after having conquered the Germans, reenters
Pannonia, establishes his winter quarters at Sirmium, and prepares
himself to make war against the people of the North. In the year
991, in the cal ends of January, commences his fourth tribunate.
The Gordians are chosen emperors in Africa, probably at the
beginning of the month of March. The senate confirms this
election with joy, and declares Maximin the enemy of Rome. Five
days after he had heard of this revolt, Maximin sets out from
Sirmium on his march to Italy. These events took place about the
beginning of April; a little after, the Gordians are slain in
Africa by Capellianus, procurator of Mauritania. The senate, in
its alarm, names as emperors Balbus and Maximus Pupianus, and
intrusts the latter with the war against Maximin. Maximin is
stopped on his road near Aquileia, by the want of provisions, and
by the melting of the snows: he begins the siege of Aquileia at
the end of April. Pupianus assembles his army at Ravenna. Maximin

and his son are assassinated by the soldiers enraged at the
resistance of Aquileia: and this was probably in the middle of
May. Pupianus returns to Rome, and assumes the government with
Balbinus; they are assassinated towards the end of July Gordian
the younger ascends the throne. Eckhel de Doct. Vol vii 295.
G.] [Footnote 33: Velleius Paterculus, l. ii. c. 24. The
president de Montesquieu (in his dialogue between Sylla and
Eucrates) expresses the sentiments of the dictator in a spirited,
and even a sublime manner.

When the troops of Maximin, advancing in excellent order, arrived
at the foot of the Julian Alps, they were terrified by the silence
and desolation that reigned on the frontiers of Italy. The
villages and open towns had been abandoned on their approach by
the inhabitants, the cattle was driven away, the provisions
removed or destroyed, the bridges broken down, nor was any thing
left which could afford either shelter or subsistence to an
invader. Such had been the wise orders of the generals of the
senate: whose design was to protract the war, to ruin the army of
Maximin by the slow operation of famine, and to consume his
strength in the sieges of the principal cities of Italy, which
they had plentifully stored with men and provisions from the
deserted country. Aquileia received and withstood the first shock
of the invasion. The streams that issue from the head of the
Hadriatic Gulf, swelled by the melting of the winter snows, ^34
opposed an unexpected obstacle to the arms of Maximin. At length,
on a singular bridge, constructed with art and difficulty, of
large hogsheads, he transported his army to the opposite bank,
rooted up the beautiful vineyards in the neighborhood of Aquileia,
demolished the suburbs, and employed the timber of the buildings
in the engines and towers, with which on every side he attacked
the city. The walls, fallen to decay during the security of
long peace, had been hastily repaired on this sudden emergency:
but the firmest defence of Aquileia consisted in the constancy of
the citizens; all ranks of whom, instead of being dismayed, were
animated by the extreme danger, and their knowledge of the
tyrant's unrelenting temper. Their courage was supported and
directed by Crispinus and Menophilus, two of the twenty
lieutenants of the senate, who, with a small body of regular
troops, had thrown themselves into the besieged place. The army
of Maximin was repulsed in repeated attacks, his machines
destroyed by showers of artificial fire; and the generous
enthusiasm of the Aquileians was exalted into a confidence of
success, by the opinion that Belenus, their tutelar deity,
combated in person in the defence of his distressed worshippers.

[Footnote 34: Muratori (Annali d' Italia, tom. ii. p. 294) thinks
the melting of the snows suits better with the months of June or
July, than with those of February. The opinion of a man who
passed his life between the Alps and the Apennines, is undoubtedly
of great weight; yet I observe, 1. That the long winter, of which

Muratori takes advantage, is to be found only in the Latin
version, and not in the Greek text of Herodian. 2. That the
vicissitudes of suns and rains, to which the soldiers of Maximin
were exposed, (Herodian, l. viii. p. 277,) denote the spring
rather than the summer. We may observe, likewise, that these
several streams, as they melted into one, composed the Timavus, so
poetically (in every sense of the word) described by Virgil. They
are about twelve miles to the east of Aquileia. See Cluver.
Italia Antiqua, tom. i. p. 189, &c.

[Footnote 35: Herodian, l. viii. p. 272. The Celtic deity was
supposed to be Apollo, and received under that name the thanks of
the senate. A temple was likewise built to Venus the Bald, in
honor of the women of Aquileia, who had given up their hair to
make ropes for the military engines.] The emperor Maximus, who had
advanced as far as Ravenna, to secure that important place, and to
hasten the military preparations, beheld the event of the war in
the more faithful mirror of reason and policy. He was too
sensible, that a single town could not resist the persevering
efforts of a great army; and he dreaded, lest the enemy, tired
with the obstinate resistance of Aquileia, should on a sudden
relinquish the fruitless siege, and march directly towards Rome.
The fate of the empire and the cause of freedom must then be
committed to the chance of a battle; and what arms could he oppose
to the veteran legions of the Rhine and Danube? Some troops newly
levied among the generous but enervated youth of Italy; and a body
of German auxiliaries, on whose firmness, in the hour of trial, it
was dangerous to depend. In the midst of these just alarms, the
stroke of domestic conspiracy punished the crimes of Maximin, and
delivered Rome and the senate from the calamities that would
surely have attended the victory of an enraged barbarian.

The people of Aquileia had scarcely experienced any of the common
miseries of a siege; their magazines were plentifully supplied,
and several fountains within the walls assured them of an
inexhaustible resource of fresh water. The soldiers of Maximin
were, on the contrary, exposed to the inclemency of the season,
the contagion of disease, and the horrors of famine. The open
country was ruined, the rivers filled with the slain, and polluted
with blood. A spirit of despair and disaffection began to diffuse
itself among the troops; and as they were cut off from all
intelligence, they easily believed that the whole empire had
embraced the cause of the senate, and that they were left as
devoted victims to perish under the impregnable walls of Aquileia.
The fierce temper of the tyrant was exasperated by
disappointments, which he imputed to the cowardice of his army;
and his wanton and ill-timed cruelty, instead of striking terror,
inspired hatred, and a just desire of revenge. A party of
Praetorian guards, who trembled for their wives and children in
the camp of Alba, near Rome, executed the sentence of the senate.
Maximin, abandoned by his guards, was slain in his tent, with his
son, (whom he had associated to the honors of the purple,

Anulinus the praefect, and the principal ministers of his tyranny.
^36 The sight of their heads, borne on the point of spears,
convinced the citizens of Aquileia that the siege was at an end;
the gates of the city were thrown open, a liberal market was
provided for the hungry troops of Maximin, and the whole army
joined in solemn protestations of fidelity to the senate and the
people of Rome, and to their lawful emperors Maximus and Balbinus.
Such was the deserved fate of a brutal savage, destitute, as he
has generally been represented, of every sentiment that
distinguishes a civilized, or even a human being. The body was
suited to the soul. The stature of Maximin exceeded the measure
of eight feet, and circumstances almost incredible are related of
his matchless strength and appetite. ^37 Had he lived in a less
enlightened age, tradition and poetry might well have described
him as one of those monstrous giants, whose supernatural power was
constantly exerted for the destruction of mankind.

[Footnote 36: Herodian, l. viii. p. 279. Hist. August. p. 146.
The duration of Maximin's reign has not been defined with much
accuracy, except by Eutropius, who allows him three years and
few days, (l. ix. 1;) we may depend on the integrity of the text,
as the Latin original is checked by the Greek version of

[Footnote 37: Eight Roman feet and one third, which are equal to
above eight English feet, as the two measures are to each other in
the proportion of 967 to 1000. See Graves's discourse on the
Roman foot. We are told that Maximin could drink in a day an
amphora (or about seven gallons) of wine, and eat thirty or forty
pounds of meat. He could move a loaded wagon, break a horse's leg
with his fist, crumble stones in his hand, and tear up small trees
by the roots. See his life in the Augustan History.] It is easier
to conceive than to describe the universal joy of the Roman world
on the fall of the tyrant, the news of which is said to have been
carried in four days from Aquileia to Rome. The return of Maximus
was a triumphal procession; his colleague and young Gordian went
out to meet him, and the three princes made their entry into the
capital, attended by the ambassadors of almost all the cities of
Italy, saluted with the splendid offerings of gratitude and
superstition, and received with the unfeigned acclamations of the
senate and people, who persuaded themselves that a golden age
would succeed to an age of iron. ^38 The conduct of the two
emperors corresponded with these expectations. They administered
justice in person; and the rigor of the one was tempered by the
other's clemency. The oppressive taxes with which Maximin had
loaded the rights of inheritance and succession, were repealed, or
at least moderated. Discipline was revived, and with the advice
of the senate many wise laws were enacted by their imperial
ministers, who endeavored to restore a civil constitution on the
ruins of military tyranny. "What reward may we expect for
delivering Rome from a monster?" was the question asked by
Maximus, in a moment of freedom and confidence. Balbinus answered

it without hesitation - "The love of the senate, of the people,
and of all mankind." "Alas!" replied his more penetrating
colleague - "alas! I dread the hatred of the soldiers, and the
fatal effects of their resentment." ^39 His apprehensions were but
too well justified by the event.

[Footnote 38: See the congratulatory letter of Claudius Julianus,
the consul to the two emperors, in the Augustan History.

[Footnote 39: Hist. August. p. 171.

Whilst Maximus was preparing to defend Italy against the common
foe, Balbinus, who remained at Rome, had been engaged in scenes of
blood and intestine discord. Distrust and jealousy reigned in the
senate; and even in the temples where they assembled, every
senator carried either open or concealed arms. In the midst of
their deliberations, two veterans of the guards, actuated either
by curiosity or a sinister motive, audaciously thrust themselves
into the house, and advanced by degrees beyond the altar of
Victory. Gallicanus, a consular, and Maecenas, a Praetorian
senator, viewed with indignation their insolent intrusion: drawing
their daggers, they laid the spies (for such they deemed them)
dead at the foot of the altar, and then, advancing to the door of
the senate, imprudently exhorted the multitude to massacre the
Praetorians, as the secret adherents of the tyrant. Those who
escaped the first fury of the tumult took refuge in the camp,
which they defended with superior advantage against the reiterated
attacks of the people, assisted by the numerous bands of
gladiators, the property of opulent nobles. The civil war lasted
many days, with infinite loss and confusion on both sides. When
the pipes were broken that supplied the camp with water, the
Praetorians were reduced to intolerable distress; but in their
turn they made desperate sallies into the city, set fire to
great number of houses, and filled the streets with the blood of
the inhabitants. The emperor Balbinus attempted, by ineffectual
edicts and precarious truces, to reconcile the factions at Rome.
But their animosity, though smothered for a while, burnt with
redoubled violence. The soldiers, detesting the senate and the
people, despised the weakness of a prince, who wanted either the
spirit or the power to command the obedience of his subjects. ^40

[Footnote 40: Herodian, l. viii. p. 258.

After the tyrant's death, his formidable army had acknowledged,
from necessity rather than from choice, the authority of Maximus,
who transported himself without delay to the camp before Aquileia.
As soon as he had received their oath of fidelity, he addressed
them in terms full of mildness and moderation; lamented, rather
than arraigned the wild disorders of the times, and assured the
soldiers, that of all their past conduct the senate would remember
only their generous desertion of the tyrant, and their voluntary
return to their duty. Maximus enforced his exhortations by

liberal donative, purified the camp by a solemn sacrifice of
expiation, and then dismissed the legions to their several
provinces, impressed, as he hoped, with a lively sense of
gratitude and obedience. ^41 But nothing could reconcile the
haughty spirit of the Praetorians. They attended the emperors on
the memorable day of their public entry into Rome; but amidst the
general acclamations, the sullen, dejected countenance of the
guards sufficiently declared that they considered themselves as
the object, rather than the partners, of the triumph. When the
whole body was united in their camp, those who had served under
Maximin, and those who had remained at Rome, insensibly
communicated to each other their complaints and apprehensions. The
emperors chosen by the army had perished with ignominy; those
elected by the senate were seated on the throne. ^42 The long
discord between the civil and military powers was decided by
war, in which the former had obtained a complete victory. The
soldiers must now learn a new doctrine of submission to the
senate; and whatever clemency was affected by that politic
assembly, they dreaded a slow revenge, colored by the name of
discipline, and justified by fair pretences of the public good.
But their fate was still in their own hands; and if they had
courage to despise the vain terrors of an impotent republic, it
was easy to convince the world, that those who were masters of the
arms, were masters of the authority, of the state.

[Footnote 41: Herodian, l. viii. p. 213.

[Footnote 42: The observation had been made imprudently enough in
the acclamations of the senate, and with regard to the soldiers it
carried the appearance of a wanton insult. Hist. August. p. 170.

When the senate elected two princes, it is probable that, besides
the declared reason of providing for the various emergencies of
peace and war, they were actuated by the secret desire of
weakening by division the despotism of the supreme magistrate.
Their policy was effectual, but it proved fatal both to their
emperors and to themselves. The jealousy of power was soon
exasperated by the difference of character. Maximus despised
Balbinus as a luxurious noble, and was in his turn disdained by
his colleague as an obscure soldier. Their silent discord was
understood rather than seen; ^43 but the mutual consciousness
prevented them from uniting in any vigorous measures of defence
against their common enemies of the Praetorian camp. The whole
city was employed in the Capitoline games, and the emperors were
left almost alone in the palace. On a sudden, they were alarmed
by the approach of a troop of desperate assassins. Ignorant of
each other's situation or designs, (for they already occupied very
distant apartments,) afraid to give or to receive assistance, they
wasted the important moments in idle debates and fruitless
recriminations. The arrival of the guards put an end to the vain
strife. They seized on these emperors of the senate, for such
they called them with malicious contempt, stripped them of their

garments, and dragged them in insolent triumph through the streets
of Rome, with the design of inflicting a slow and cruel death on
these unfortunate princes. The fear of a rescue from the faithful
Germans of the Imperial guards, shortened their tortures; and
their bodies, mangled with a thousand wounds, were left exposed to
the insults or to the pity of the populace. ^44

[Footnote 43: Discordiae tacitae, et quae intelligerentur potius
quam viderentur. Hist. August. p. 170. This well-chosen
expression is probably stolen from some better writer.

[Footnote 44: Herodian, l. viii. p. 287, 288.

In the space of a few months, six princes had been cut off by the
sword. Gordian, who had already received the title of Caesar, was
the only person that occurred to the soldiers as proper to fill
the vacant throne. ^45 They carried him to the camp, and
unanimously saluted him Augustus and Emperor. His name was dear to
the senate and people; his tender age promised a long impunity of
military license; and the submission of Rome and the provinces to
the choice of the Praetorian guards, saved the republic, at the
expense indeed of its freedom and dignity, from the horrors of
new civil war in the heart of the capital. ^46

[Footnote 45: Quia non alius erat in praesenti, is the expression
of the Augustan History.

[Footnote 46: Quintus Curtius (l. x. c. 9,) pays an elegant
compliment to the emperor of the day, for having, by his happy
accession, extinguished so many firebrands, sheathed so many
swords, and put an end to the evils of a divided government. After
weighing with attention every word of the passage, I am of
opinion, that it suits better with the elevation of Gordian, than
with any other period of the Roman history. In that case, it may
serve to decide the age of Quintus Curtius. Those who place him
under the first Caesars, argue from the purity of his style but
are embarrassed by the silence of Quintilian, in his accurate list
of Roman historians.

Note: This conjecture of Gibbon is without foundation. Many
passages in the work of Quintus Curtius clearly place him at an
earlier period. Thus, in speaking of the Parthians, he says, Hinc
in Parthicum perventum est, tunc ignobilem gentem: nunc caput
omnium qui post Euphratem et Tigrim amnes siti Rubro mari
terminantur. The Parthian empire had this extent only in the
first age of the vulgar aera: to that age, therefore, must be
assigned the date of Quintus Curtius. Although the critics (says

M. de Sainte Croix) have multiplied conjectures on this subject,
most of them have ended by adopting the opinion which places
Quintus Curtius under the reign of Claudius. See Just. Lips. ad
Ann. Tac. ii. 20. Michel le Tellier Praef. in Curt. Tillemont
Hist. des Emp. i. p. 251. Du Bos Reflections sur la Poesie, 2d

Partie. Tiraboschi Storia della, Lett. Ital. ii. 149. Examen.
crit. des Historiens d'Alexandre, 2d ed. p. 104, 849, 850. - G.

This interminable question seems as much perplexed as ever. The
first argument of M. Guizot is a strong one, except that Parthian
is often used by later writers for Persian. Cunzius, in his
preface to an edition published at Helmstadt, (1802,) maintains
the opinion of Bagnolo, which assigns Q. Curtius to the time of
Constantine the Great. Schmieder, in his edit. Gotting. 1803,
sums up in this sentence, aetatem Curtii ignorari pala mest. - M.
As the third Gordian was only nineteen years of age at the time of
his death, the history of his life, were it known to us with
greater accuracy than it really is, would contain little more than
the account of his education, and the conduct of the ministers,
who by turns abused or guided the simplicity of his unexperienced
youth. Immediately after his accession, he fell into the hands of
his mother's eunuchs, that pernicious vermin of the East, who,
since the days of Elagabalus, had infested the Roman palace. By
the artful conspiracy of these wretches, an impenetrable veil was
drawn between an innocent prince and his oppressed subjects, the
virtuous disposition of Gordian was deceived, and the honors of
the empire sold without his knowledge, though in a very public
manner, to the most worthless of mankind. We are ignorant by what
fortunate accident the emperor escaped from this ignominious
slavery, and devolved his confidence on a minister, whose wise
counsels had no object except the glory of his sovereign and the
happiness of the people. It should seem that love and learning
introduced Misitheus to the favor of Gordian. The young prince
married the daughter of his master of rhetoric, and promoted his
father-in-law to the first offices of the empire. Two admirable
letters that passed between them are still extant. The minister,
with the conscious dignity of virtue, congratulates Gordian that
he is delivered from the tyranny of the eunuchs, ^47 and still
more that he is sensible of his deliverance. The emperor
acknowledges, with an amiable confusion, the errors of his past
conduct; and laments, with singular propriety, the misfortune of
monarch, from whom a venal tribe of courtiers perpetually labor to
conceal the truth. ^48

[Footnote 47: Hist. August. p. 161. From some hints in the two
letters, I should expect that the eunuchs were not expelled the
palace without some degree of gentle violence, and that the young
Gordian rather approved of, than consented to, their disgrace.

[Footnote 48: Duxit uxorem filiam Misithei, quem causa eloquentiae
dignum parentela sua putavit; et praefectum statim fecit; post
quod, non puerile jam et contemptibile videbatur imperium.

The life of Misitheus had been spent in the profession of letters,
not of arms; yet such was the versatile genius of that great man,
that, when he was appointed Praetorian Praefect, he discharged the
military duties of his place with vigor and ability. The Persians

had invaded Mesopotamia, and threatened Antioch. By the
persuasion of his father-in-law, the young emperor quitted the
luxury of Rome, opened, for the last time recorded in history, the
temple of Janus, and marched in person into the East. On his
approach, with a great army, the Persians withdrew their garrisons
from the cities which they had already taken, and retired from the
Euphrates to the Tigris. Gordian enjoyed the pleasure of
announcing to the senate the first success of his arms, which he
ascribed, with a becoming modesty and gratitude, to the wisdom of
his father and Praefect. During the whole expedition, Misitheus
watched over the safety and discipline of the army; whilst he
prevented their dangerous murmurs by maintaining a regular plenty
in the camp, and by establishing ample magazines of vinegar,
bacon, straw, barley, and wheat in all the cities of the frontier.
^49 But the prosperity of Gordian expired with Misitheus, who died
of a flux, not with out very strong suspicions of poison. Philip,
his successor in the praefecture, was an Arab by birth, and
consequently, in the earlier part of his life, a robber by
profession. His rise from so obscure a station to the first
dignities of the empire, seems to prove that he was a bold and
able leader. But his boldness prompted him to aspire to the
throne, and his abilities were employed to supplant, not to serve,
his indulgent master. The minds of the soldiers were irritated by
an artificial scarcity, created by his contrivance in the camp;
and the distress of the army was attributed to the youth and
incapacity of the prince. It is not in our power to trace the
successive steps of the secret conspiracy and open sedition, which
were at length fatal to Gordian. A sepulchral monument was
erected to his memory on the spot ^50 where he was killed, near
the conflux of the Euphrates with the little river Aboras. ^51 The
fortunate Philip, raised to the empire by the votes of the
soldiers, found a ready obedience from the senate and the
provinces. ^52 [Footnote 49: Hist. August. p. 162. Aurelius
Victor. Porphyrius in Vit Plotin. ap. Fabricium, Biblioth.
Graec. l. iv. c. 36. The philosopher Plotinus accompanied the
army, prompted by the love of knowledge, and by the hope of
penetrating as far as India.

[Footnote 50: About twenty miles from the little town of
Circesium, on the frontier of the two empires.

Note: Now Kerkesia; placed in the angle formed by the juncture of
the Chaboras, or al Khabour, with the Euphrates. This situation
appeared advantageous to Diocletian, that he raised fortifications
to make it the but wark of the empire on the side of Mesopotamia.
D'Anville. Geog. Anc. ii. 196. - G. It is the Carchemish of the
Old Testament, 2 Chron. xxxv. 20. ler. xlvi. 2. - M.

[Footnote 51: The inscription (which contained a very singular
pun) was erased by the order of Licinius, who claimed some degree
of relationship to Philip, (Hist. August. p. 166;) but the

tumulus, or mound of earth which formed the sepulchre, still
subsisted in the time of Julian. See Ammian Marcellin. xxiii. 5.

[Footnote 52: Aurelius Victor. Eutrop. ix. 2. Orosius, vii. 20.
Ammianus Marcellinus, xxiii. 5. Zosimus, l. i. p. 19. Philip,
who was a native of Bostra, was about forty years of age.

Note: Now Bosra. It was once the metropolis of a province named
Arabia, and the chief city of Auranitis, of which the name is
preserved in Beled Hauran, the limits of which meet the desert.
D'Anville. Geog. Anc. ii. 188. According to Victor, (in Caesar.,
Philip was a native of Tracbonitis another province of Arabia.

We cannot forbear transcribing the ingenious, though somewhat
fanciful description, which a celebrated writer of our own times
has traced of the military government of the Roman empire. "What
in that age was called the Roman empire, was only an irregular
republic, not unlike the aristocracy ^53 of Algiers, ^54 where the
militia, possessed of the sovereignty, creates and deposes
magistrate, who is styled a Dey. Perhaps, indeed, it may be laid
down as a general rule, that a military government is, in some
respects, more republican than monarchical. Nor can it be said
that the soldiers only partook of the government by their
disobedience and rebellions. The speeches made to them by the
emperors, were they not at length of the same nature as those
formerly pronounced to the people by the consuls and the tribunes?
And although the armies had no regular place or forms of assembly;
though their debates were short, their action sudden, and their
resolves seldom the result of cool reflection, did they not
dispose, with absolute sway, of the public fortune? What was the
emperor, except the minister of a violent government, elected for
the private benefit of the soldiers?

[Footnote 53: Can the epithet of Aristocracy be applied, with any
propriety, to the government of Algiers? Every military
government floats between two extremes of absolute monarchy and
wild democracy.

[Footnote 54: The military republic of the Mamelukes in Egypt
would have afforded M. de Montesquieu (see Considerations sur la
Grandeur et la Decadence des Romains, c. 16) a juster and more
noble parallel.] "When the army had elected Philip, who was
Praetorian praefect to the third Gordian, the latter demanded that
he might remain sole emperor; he was unable to obtain it. He
requested that the power might be equally divided between them;
the army would not listen to his speech. He consented to be
degraded to the rank of Caesar; the favor was refused him. He
desired, at least, he might be appointed Praetorian praefect; his
prayer was rejected. Finally, he pleaded for his life. The army,
in these several judgments, exercised the supreme magistracy.
According to the historian, whose doubtful narrative the President

De Montesquieu has adopted, Philip, who, during the whole
transaction, had preserved a sullen silence, was inclined to spare
the innocent life of his benefactor; till, recollecting that his
innocence might excite a dangerous compassion in the Roman world,
he commanded, without regard to his suppliant cries, that he
should be seized, stripped, and led away to instant death. After
a moment's pause, the inhuman sentence was executed. ^55

[Footnote 55: The Augustan History (p. 163, 164) cannot, in this
instance, be reconciled with itself or with probability. How
could Philip condemn his predecessor, and yet consecrate his
memory? How could he order his public execution, and yet, in his
letters to the senate, exculpate himself from the guilt of his
death? Philip, though an ambitious usurper, was by no means a mad
tyrant. Some chronological difficulties have likewise been
discovered by the nice eyes of Tillemont and Muratori, in this
supposed association of Philip to the empire.

Note: Wenck endeavors to reconcile these discrepancies. He
supposes that Gordian was led away, and died a natural death in
prison. This is directly contrary to the statement of Capitolinus
and of Zosimus, whom he adduces in support of his theory. He is
more successful in his precedents of usurpers deifying the victims
of their ambition. Sit divus, dummodo non sit vivus. - M.

Chapter VII: Tyranny Of Maximin, Rebellion, Civil Wars, Death Of

Part III.

On his return from the East to Rome, Philip, desirous of
obliterating the memory of his crimes, and of captivating the
affections of the people, solemnized the secular games with
infinite pomp and magnificence. Since their institution or
revival by Augustus, ^56 they had been celebrated by Claudius, by
Domitian, and by Severus, and were now renewed the fifth time, on
the accomplishment of the full period of a thousand years from the
foundation of Rome. Every circumstance of the secular games was
skillfully adapted to inspire the superstitious mind with deep and
solemn reverence. The long interval between them ^57 exceeded the
term of human life; and as none of the spectators had already seen
them, none could flatter themselves with the expectation of
beholding them a second time. The mystic sacrifices were
performed, during three nights, on the banks of the Tyber; and the
Campus Martius resounded with music and dances, and was
illuminated with innumerable lamps and torches. Slaves and
strangers were excluded from any participation in these national
ceremonies. A chorus of twenty-seven youths, and as many virgins,
of noble families, and whose parents were both alive, implored the
propitious gods in favor of the present, and for the hope of the
rising generation; requesting, in religious hymns, that according
to the faith of their ancient oracles, they would still maintain

the virtue, the felicity, and the empire of the Roman people. ^58
The magnificence of Philip's shows and entertainments dazzled the
eyes of the multitude. The devout were employed in the rites of
superstition, whilst the reflecting few revolved in their anxious
minds the past history and the future fate of the empire.

[Footnote 56: The account of the last supposed celebration, though
in an enlightened period of history, was so very doubtful and
obscure, that the alternative seems not doubtful. When the popish
jubilees, the copy of the secular games, were invented by Boniface
VII., the crafty pope pretended that he only revived an ancient
institution. See M. le Chais, Lettres sur les Jubiles.

[Footnote 57: Either of a hundred or a hundred and ten years.
Varro and Livy adopted the former opinion, but the infallible
authority of the Sybil consecrated the latter, (Censorinus de Die
Natal. c. 17.) The emperors Claudius and Philip, however, did not
treat the oracle with implicit respect.

[Footnote 58: The idea of the secular games is best understood
from the poem of Horace, and the description of Zosimus, 1. l. ii.

p. 167, &c.] Since Romulus, with a small band of shepherds and
outlaws, fortified himself on the hills near the Tyber, ten
centuries had already elapsed. ^59 During the four first ages, the
Romans, in the laborious school of poverty, had acquired the
virtues of war and government: by the vigorous exertion of those
virtues, and by the assistance of fortune, they had obtained, in
the course of the three succeeding centuries, an absolute empire
over many countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The last three
hundred years had been consumed in apparent prosperity and
internal decline. The nation of soldiers, magistrates, and
legislators, who composed the thirty-five tribes of the Roman
people, were dissolved into the common mass of mankind, and
confounded with the millions of servile provincials, who had
received the name, without adopting the spirit, of Romans.
mercenary army, levied among the subjects and barbarians of the
frontier, was the only order of men who preserved and abused their
independence. By their tumultuary election, a Syrian, a Goth, or
an Arab, was exalted to the throne of Rome, and invested with
despotic power over the conquests and over the country of the
Scipios. [Footnote 59: The received calculation of Varro assigns
to the foundation of Rome an aera that corresponds with the 754th
year before Christ. But so little is the chronology of Rome to be
depended on, in the more early ages, that Sir Isaac Newton has
brought the same event as low as the year 627 (Compare Niebuhr
vol. i. p. 271. - M.)
The limits of the Roman empire still extended from the Western
Ocean to the Tigris, and from Mount Atlas to the Rhine and the
Danube. To the undiscerning eye of the vulgar, Philip appeared
monarch no less powerful than Hadrian or Augustus had formerly
been. The form was still the same, but the animating health and

vigor were fled. The industry of the people was discouraged and
exhausted by a long series of oppression. The discipline of the
legions, which alone, after the extinction of every other virtue,
had propped the greatness of the state, was corrupted by the
ambition, or relaxed by the weakness, of the emperors. The
strength of the frontiers, which had always consisted in arms
rather than in fortifications, was insensibly undermined; and the
fairest provinces were left exposed to the rapaciousness or
ambition of the barbarians, who soon discovered the decline of the
Roman empire.

Chapter VIII: State Of Persion And Restoration Of The Monarchy.

Part I.

Of The State Of Persia After The Restoration Of The Monarchy By

Whenever Tacitus indulges himself in those beautiful episodes, in
which he relates some domestic transaction of the Germans or of
the Parthians, his principal object is to relieve the attention of
the reader from a uniform scene of vice and misery. From the
reign of Augustus to the time of Alexander Severus, the enemies of
Rome were in her bosom - the tyrants and the soldiers; and her
prosperity had a very distant and feeble interest in the
revolutions that might happen beyond the Rhine and the Euphrates.
But when the military order had levelled, in wild anarchy, the
power of the prince, the laws of the senate, and even the
discipline of the camp, the barbarians of the North and of the
East, who had long hovered on the frontier, boldly attacked the
provinces of a declining monarchy. Their vexatious inroads were
changed into formidable irruptions, and, after a long vicissitude
of mutual calamities, many tribes of the victorious invaders
established themselves in the provinces of the Roman Empire. To
obtain a clearer knowledge of these great events, we shall
endeavor to form a previous idea of the character, forces, and
designs of those nations who avenged the cause of Hannibal and

In the more early ages of the world, whilst the forest that
covered Europe afforded a retreat to a few wandering savages, the
inhabitants of Asia were already collected into populous cities,
and reduced under extensive empires, the seat of the arts, of
luxury, and of despotism. The Assyrians reigned over the East, ^
till the sceptre of Ninus and Semiramis dropped from the hands of
their enervated successors. The Medes and the Babylonians divided
their power, and were themselves swallowed up in the monarchy of
the Persians, whose arms could not be confined within the narrow
limits of Asia. Followed, as it is said, by two millions of men,
Xerxes, the descendant of Cyrus, invaded Greece. Thirty thousand
soldiers, under the command of Alexander, the son of Philip, who
was intrusted by the Greeks with their glory and revenge, were

sufficient to subdue Persia. The princes of the house of Seleucus
usurped and lost the Macedonian command over the East. About the
same time, that, by an ignominious treaty, they resigned to the
Romans the country on this side Mount Tarus, they were driven by
the Parthians, ^* an obscure horde of Scythian origin, from all
the provinces of Upper Asia. The formidable power of the
Parthians, which spread from India to the frontiers of Syria, was
in its turn subverted by Ardshir, or Artaxerxes; the founder of
new dynasty, which, under the name of Sassanides, governed Persia
till the invasion of the Arabs. This great revolution, whose fatal
influence was soon experienced by the Romans, happened in the
fourth year of Alexander Severus, two hundred and twenty-six years
after the Christian era. ^2 ^! [Footnote 1: An ancient
chronologist, quoted by Valleius Paterculus, (l. i. c. 6,
observes, that the Assyrians, the Medes, the Persians, and the
Macedonians, reigned over Asia one thousand nine hundred and
ninety-five years, from the accession of Ninus to the defeat of
Antiochus by the Romans. As the latter of these great events
happened 289 years before Christ, the former may be placed 2184
years before the same aera. The Astronomical Observations, found
at Babylon, by Alexander, went fifty years higher.] [Footnote *
The Parthians were a tribe of the Indo-Germanic branch which dwelt
on the south-east of the Caspian, and belonged to the same race as
the Getae, the Massagetae, and other nations, confounded by the
ancients under the vague denomination of Scythians. Klaproth,
Tableaux Hist. d l'Asie, p. 40. Strabo (p. 747) calls the
Parthians Carduchi, i.e., the inhabitants of Curdistan. - M.

[Footnote 2: In the five hundred and thirty-eighth year of the
aera of Seleucus. See Agathias, l. ii. p. 63. This great event
(such is the carelessness of the Orientals) is placed by Eutychius
as high as the tenth year of Commodus, and by Moses of Chorene as
low as the reign of Philip. Ammianus Marcellinus has so servilely
copied (xxiii. 6) his ancient materials, which are indeed very
good, that he describes the family of the Arsacides as still
seated on the Persian throne in the middle of the fourth century.

[Footnote !: The Persian History, if the poetry of the Shah Nameh,
the Book of Kings, may deserve that name mentions four dynasties
from the earliest ages to the invasion of the Saracens. The Shah
Nameh was composed with the view of perpetuating the remains of
the original Persian records or traditions which had survived the
Saracenic invasion. The task was undertaken by the poet Dukiki,
and afterwards, under the patronage of Mahmood of Ghazni,
completed by Ferdusi. The first of these dynasties is that of
Kaiomors, as Sir W. Jones observes, the dark and fabulous period;
the second, that of the Kaianian, the heroic and poetical, in
which the earned have discovered some curious, and imagined some
fanciful, analogies with the Jewish, the Greek, and the Roman
accounts of the eastern world. See, on the Shah Nameh,
Translation by Goerres, with Von Hammer's Review, Vienna Jahrbuch
von Lit. 17, 75, 77. Malcolm's Persia, 8vo. ed. i. 503. Macan's

Preface to his Critical Edition of the Shah Nameh. On the early
Persian History, a very sensible abstract of various opinions in
Malcolm's Hist. of Persian. - M.

Artaxerxes had served with great reputation in the armies of
Artaban, the last king of the Parthians, and it appears that he
was driven into exile and rebellion by royal ingratitude, the
customary reward for superior merit. His birth was obscure, and
the obscurity equally gave room to the aspersions of his enemies,
and the flattery of his adherents. If we credit the scandal of
the former, Artaxerxes sprang from the illegitimate commerce of
tanner's wife with a common soldier. ^3 The latter represent him
as descended from a branch of the ancient kings of Persian, though
time and misfortune had gradually reduced his ancestors to the
humble station of private citizens. ^4 As the lineal heir of the
monarchy, he asserted his right to the throne, and challenged the
noble task of delivering the Persians from the oppression under
which they groaned above five centuries since the death of Darius.
The Parthians were defeated in three great battles. ^* In the last
of these their king Artaban was slain, and the spirit of the
nation was forever broken. ^5 The authority of Artaxerxes was
solemnly acknowledged in a great assembly held at Balch in
Khorasan. ^! Two younger branches of the royal house of Arsaces
were confounded among the prostrate satraps. A third, more
mindful of ancient grandeur than of present necessity, attempted
to retire, with a numerous train of vessels, towards their
kinsman, the king of Armenia; but this little army of deserters
was intercepted, and cut off, by the vigilance of the conqueror,
^6 who boldly assumed the double diadem, and the title of King of
Kings, which had been enjoyed by his predecessor. But these
pompous titles, instead of gratifying the vanity of the Persian,
served only to admonish him of his duty, and to inflame in his
soul and should the ambition of restoring in their full splendor,
the religion and empire of Cyrus.

[Footnote 3: The tanner's name was Babec; the soldier's, Sassan:
from the former Artaxerxes obtained the surname of Babegan, from
the latter all his descendants have been styled Sassanides.

[Footnote 4: D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, Ardshir.
[Footnote *: In the plain of Hoormuz, the son of Babek was hailed
in the field with the proud title of Shahan Shah, king of kings
a name ever since assumed by the sovereigns of Persia. Malcolm,

i. 71. - M.] [Footnote 5: Dion Cassius, l. lxxx. Herodian, l. vi.
p. 207. Abulpharagins Dynast. p. 80.
[Footnote !: See the Persian account of the rise of Ardeschir
Babegan in Malcolm l 69. - M.

[Footnote 6: See Moses Chorenensis, l. ii. c. 65 - 71.

I. During the long servitude of Persia under the Macedonian and
the Parthian yoke, the nations of Europe and Asia had mutually
adopted and corrupted each other's superstitions. The Arsacides,
indeed, practised the worship of the Magi; but they disgraced and
polluted it with a various mixture of foreign idolatry. ^* The
memory of Zoroaster, the ancient prophet and philosopher of the
Persians, ^7 was still revered in the East; but the obsolete and
mysterious language, in which the Zendavesta was composed, ^
opened a field of dispute to seventy sects, who variously
explained the fundamental doctrines of their religion, and were
all indifferently devided by a crowd of infidels, who rejected the
divine mission and miracles of the prophet. To suppress the
idolaters, reunite the schismatics, and confute the unbelievers,
by the infallible decision of a general council, the pious
Artaxerxes summoned the Magi from all parts of his dominions.
These priests, who had so long sighed in contempt and obscurity
obeyed the welcome summons; and, on the appointed day, appeared,
to the number of about eighty thousand. But as the debates of so
tumultuous an assembly could not have been directed by the
authority of reason, or influenced by the art of policy, the
Persian synod was reduced, by successive operations, to forty
thousand, to four thousand, to four hundred, to forty, and at last
to seven Magi, the most respected for their learning and piety.
One of these, Erdaviraph, a young but holy prelate, received from
the hands of his brethren three cups of soporiferous wine. He
drank them off, and instantly fell into a long and profound sleep.
As soon as he waked, he related to the king and to the believing
multitude, his journey to heaven, and his intimate conferences
with the Deity. Every doubt was silenced by this supernatural
evidence; and the articles of the faith of Zoroaster were fixed
with equal authority and precision. ^9 A short delineation of that
celebrated system will be found useful, not only to display the
character of the Persian nation, but to illustrate many of their
most important transactions, both in peace and war, with the Roman
empire. ^10
[Footnote *: Silvestre de Sacy (Antiquites de la Perse) had proved
the neglect of the Zoroastrian religion under the Parthian kings.

-M.] [Footnote 7: Hyde and Prideaux, working up the Persian
legends and their own conjectures into a very agreeable story,
represent Zoroaster as a contemporary of Darius Hystaspes. But it
is sufficient to observe, that the Greek writers, who lived almost
in the age of Darius, agree in placing the aera of Zoroaster many
hundred, or even thousand, years before their own time. The
judicious criticisms of Mr. Moyle perceived, and maintained
against his uncle, Dr. Prideaux, the antiquity of the Persian
prophet. See his work, vol. ii.
Note: There are three leading theories concerning the age of
Zoroaster: 1. That which assigns him to an age of great and almost
indefinite antiquity - it is that of Moyle, adopted by Gibbon,
Volney, Recherches sur l'Histoire, ii. 2. Rhode, also, (die

Heilige Sage, &c.,) in a very ingenious and ably-developed theory,
throws the Bactrian prophet far back into antiquity 2. Foucher,
(Mem. de l'Acad. xxvii. 253,) Tychsen, (in Com. Soc. Gott. ii.
112), Heeren, (ldeen. i. 459,) and recently Holty, identify the
Gushtasp of the Persian mythological history with Cyaxares the
First, the king of the Medes, and consider the religion to be
Median in its origin. M. Guizot considers this opinion most
probable, note in loc. 3. Hyde, Prideaux, Anquetil du Perron,
Kleuker, Herder, Goerres, (Mythen-Geschichte,) Von Hammer. (Wien.
Jahrbuch, vol. ix.,) Malcolm, (i. 528,) De Guigniaut, (Relig. de
l'Antiq. 2d part, vol. iii.,) Klaproth, (Tableaux de l'Asie, p.
21,) make Gushtasp Darius Hystaspes, and Zoroaster his
contemporary. The silence of Herodotus appears the great
objection to this theory. Some writers, as M. Foucher (resting,
as M. Guizot observes, on the doubtful authority of Pliny,) make
more than one Zoroaster, and so attempt to reconcile the
conflicting theories. - M.] [Footnote 8: That ancient idiom was
called the Zend. The language of the commentary, the Pehlvi,
though much more modern, has ceased many ages ago to be a living
tongue. This fact alone (if it is allowed as authentic)
sufficiently warrants the antiquity of those writings which
d'Anquetil has brought into Europe, and translated into French.

Note: Zend signifies life, living. The word means, either the
collection of the canonical books of the followers of Zoroaster,
or the language itself in which they are written. They are the
books that contain the word of life whether the language was
originally called Zend, or whether it was so called from the
contents of the books. Avesta means word, oracle, revelation:
this term is not the title of a particular work, but of the
collection of the books of Zoroaster, as the revelation of Ormuzd.
This collection is sometimes called Zendavesta, sometimes briefly

The Zend was the ancient language of Media, as is proved by its
affinity with the dialects of Armenia and Georgia; it was already
a dead language under the Arsacides in the country which was the
scene of the events recorded in the Zendavesta. Some critics,
among others Richardson and Sir W. Jones, have called in question
the antiquity of these books. The former pretended that Zend had
never been a written or spoken language, but had been invented in
the later times by the Magi, for the purposes of their art; but
Kleuker, in the dissertations which he added to those of Anquetil
and the Abbe Foucher, has proved that the Zend was a living and
spoken language. - G. Sir W. Jones appears to have abandoned his
doubts, on discovering the affinity between the Zend and the
Sanskrit. Since the time of Kleuker, this question has been
investigated by many learned scholars. Sir W. Jones, Leyden,
(Asiat. Research. x. 283,) and Mr. Erskine, (Bombay Trans. ii.
299,) consider it a derivative from the Sanskrit. The antiquity
of the Zendavesta has likewise been asserted by Rask, the great
Danish linguist, who, according to Malcolm, brought back from the

East fresh transcripts and additions to those published by
Anquetil. According to Rask, the Zend and Sanskrit are sister
dialects; the one the parent of the Persian, the other of the
Indian family of languages. - G. and M. But the subject is more
satisfactorily illustrated in Bopp's comparative Grammar of the
Sanscrit, Zend, Greek, Latin, Lithuanian, Gothic, and German
languages. Berlin. 1833-5. According to Bopp, the Zend is, in
some respects, of a more remarkable structure than the Sanskrit.
Parts of the Zendavesta have been published in the original, by M.
Bournouf, at Paris, and M. Ol. shausen, in Hamburg. - M.

The Pehlvi was the language of the countries bordering on Assyria,
and probably of Assyria itself. Pehlvi signifies valor, heroism;
the Pehlvi, therefore, was the language of the ancient heroes and
kings of Persia, the valiant. (Mr. Erskine prefers the derivation
from Pehla, a border. - M.) It contains a number of Aramaic roots.
Anquetil considered it formed from the Zend. Kleuker does not
adopt this opinion. The Pehlvi, he says, is much more flowing,
and less overcharged with vowels, than the Zend. The books of
Zoroaster, first written in Zend, were afterwards translated into
Pehlvi and Parsi. The Pehlvi had fallen into disuse under the
dynasty of the Sassanides, but the learned still wrote it. The
Parsi, the dialect of Pars or Farristan, was then prevailing
dialect. Kleuker, Anhang zum Zend Avesta, 2, ii. part i. p. 158,
part ii. 31. - G.

Mr. Erskine (Bombay Transactions) considers the existing
Zendavesta to have been compiled in the time of Ardeschir Babegan.

-M.] [Footnote 9: Hyde de Religione veterum Pers. c. 21.
[Footnote 10: I have principally drawn this account from the
Zendavesta of M. d'Anquetil, and the Sadder, subjoined to Dr.
Hyde's treatise. It must, however, be confessed, that the studied
obscurity of a prophet, the figurative style of the East, and the
deceitful medium of a French or Latin version may have betrayed us
into error and heresy, in this abridgment of Persian theology.

Note: It is to be regretted that Gibbon followed the post-
Mahometan Sadder of Hyde. - M.

The great and fundamental article of the system, was the
celebrated doctrine of the two principles; a bold and injudicious
attempt of Eastern philosophy to reconcile the existence of moral
and physical evil with the attributes of a beneficent Creator and
Governor of the world. The first and original Being, in whom, or
by whom, the universe exists, is denominated in the writings of
Zoroaster, Time without bounds; ^! but it must be confessed, that
this infinite substance seems rather a metaphysical, abstraction
of the mind, than a real object endowed with self-consciousness,
or possessed of moral perfections. From either the blind or the
intelligent operation of this infinite Time, which bears but too
near an affinity with the chaos of the Greeks, the two secondary

but active principles of the universe, were from all eternity
produced, Ormusd and Ahriman, each of them possessed of the powers
of creation, but each disposed, by his invariable nature, to
exercise them with different designs. ^* The principle of good is
eternally aborbed in light; the principle of evil eternally buried
in darkness. The wise benevolence of Ormusd formed man capable of
virtue, and abundantly provided his fair habitation with the
materials of happiness. By his vigilant providence, the motion of
the planets, the order of the seasons, and the temperate mixture
of the elements, are preserved. But the malice of Ahriman has
long since pierced Ormusd's egg; or, in other words, has violated
the harmony of his works. Since that fatal eruption, the most
minute articles of good and evil are intimately intermingled and
agitated together; the rankest poisons spring up amidst the most
salutary plants; deluges, earthquakes, and conflagrations attest
the conflict of Nature, and the little world of man is perpetually
shaken by vice and misfortune. Whilst the rest of human kind are
led away captives in the chains of their infernal enemy, the
faithful Persian alone reserves his religious adoration for his
friend and protector Ormusd, and fights under his banner of light,
in the full confidence that he shall, in the last day, share the
glory of his triumph. At that decisive period, the enlightened
wisdom of goodness will render the power of Ormusd superior to the
furious malice of his rival. Ahriman and his followers, disarmed
and subdued, will sink into their native darkness; and virtue will
maintain the eternal peace and harmony of the universe. ^11 ^!

[Footnote !: Zeruane Akerene, so translated by Anquetil and
Kleuker. There is a dissertation of Foucher on this subject, Mem.
de l'Acad. des Inscr. t. xxix. According to Bohlen (das alte
Indien) it is the Sanskrit Sarvan Akaranam, the Uncreated Whole;
or, according to Fred. Schlegel, Sarvan Akharyam the Uncreate
Indivisible. - M.

[Footnote *: This is an error. Ahriman was not forced by his
invariable nature to do evil; the Zendavesta expressly recognizes
(see the Izeschne) that he was born good, that in his origin he
was light; envy rendered him evil; he became jealous of the power
and attributes of Ormuzd; then light was changed into darkness,
and Ahriman was precipitated into the abyss. See the Abridgment
of the Doctrine of the Ancient Persians, by Anquetil, c. ii
Section 2. - G.

[Footnote 11: The modern Parsees (and in some degree the Sadder)
exalt Ormusd into the first and omnipotent cause, whilst they
degrade Ahriman into an inferior but rebellious spirit. Their
desire of pleasing the Mahometans may have contributed to refine
their theological systems.

[Footnote !!: According to the Zendavesta, Ahriman will not be
annihilated or precipitated forever into darkness: at the
resurrection of the dead he will be entirely defeated by Ormuzd,

his power will be destroyed, his kingdom overthrown to its
foundations, he will himself be purified in torrents of melting
metal; he will change his heart and his will, become holy,
heavenly establish in his dominions the law and word of Ormuzd,
unite himself with him in everlasting friendship, and both will
sing hymns in honor of the Great Eternal. See Anquetil's
Abridgment. Kleuker, Anhang part iii. p 85, 36; and the Izeschne,
one of the books of the Zendavesta. According to the Sadder Bun-
Dehesch, a more modern work, Ahriman is to be annihilated: but
this is contrary to the text itself of the Zendavesta, and to the
idea its author gives of the kingdom of Eternity, after the twelve
thousand years assigned to the contest between Good and Evil.

Chapter VIII: State Of Persion And Restoration Of The Monarchy.

Part II.

The theology of Zoroaster was darkly comprehended by foreigners,
and even by the far greater number of his disciples; but the most
careless observers were struck with the philosophic simplicity of
the Persian worship. "That people," said Herodotus, ^12 "rejects
the use of temples, of altars, and of statues, and smiles at the
folly of those nations who imagine that the gods are sprung from,
or bear any affinity with, the human nature. The tops of the
highest mountains are the places chosen for sacrifices. Hymns and
prayers are the principal worship; the Supreme God, who fills the
wide circle of heaven, is the object to whom they are addressed.
Yet, at the same time, in the true spirit of a polytheist, he
accuseth them of adoring Earth, Water, Fire, the Winds, and the
Sun and Moon. But the Persians of every age have denied the
charge, and explained the equivocal conduct, which might appear to
give a color to it. The elements, and more particularly Fire,
Light, and the Sun, whom they called Mithra, ^! were the objects
of their religious reverence, because they considered them as the
purest symbols, the noblest productions, and the most powerful
agents of the Divine Power and Nature. ^13 [Footnote 12:
Herodotus, l. i. c. 131. But Dr. Prideaux thinks, with reason,
that the use of temples was afterwards permitted in the Magian
religion. Note: The Pyraea, or fire temples of the Zoroastrians,
(observes Kleuker, Persica, p. 16,) were only to be found in Media
or Aderbidjan, provinces into which Herodotus did not penetrate.

[Footnote !: Among the Persians Mithra is not the Sun: Anquetil
has contested and triumphantly refuted the opinion of those who
confound them, and it is evidently contrary to the text of the
Zendavesta. Mithra is the first of the genii, or jzeds, created
by Ormuzd; it is he who watches over all nature. Hence arose the
misapprehension of some of the Greeks, who have said that Mithra
was the summus deus of the Persians: he has a thousand ears and
ten thousand eyes. The Chaldeans appear to have assigned him

higher rank than the Persians. It is he who bestows upon the
earth the light of the sun. The sun. named Khor, (brightness,) is
thus an inferior genius, who, with many other genii, bears a part
in the functions of Mithra. These assistant genii to another
genius are called his kamkars; but in the Zendavesta they are
never confounded. On the days sacred to a particular genius, the
Persian ought to recite, not only the prayers addressed to him,
but those also which are addressed to his kamkars; thus the hymn
or iescht of Mithra is recited on the day of the sun, (Khor,) and
vice versa. It is probably this which has sometimes caused them
to be confounded; but Anquetil had himself exposed this error,
which Kleuker, and all who have studied the Zendavesta, have
noticed. See viii. Diss. of Anquetil. Kleuker's Anhang, part iii.

p. 132. - G. M. Guizot is unquestionably right, according to the
pure and original doctrine of the Zend. The Mithriac worship,
which was so extensively propagated in the West, and in which
Mithra and the sun were perpetually confounded, seems to have been
formed from a fusion of Zoroastrianism and Chaldaism, or the
Syrian worship of the sun. An excellent abstract of the question,
with references to the works of the chief modern writers on his
curious subject, De Sacy, Kleuker, Von Hammer, &c., may be found
in De Guigniaut's translation of Kreuzer. Relig. d'Antiquite,
notes viii. ix. to book ii. vol. i. 2d part, page 728. - M.
[Footnote 13: Hyde de Relig. Pers. c. 8. Notwithstanding all
their distinctions and protestations, which seem sincere enough,
their tyrants, the Mahometans, have constantly stigmatized them as
idolatrous worshippers of the fire.

Every mode of religion, to make a deep and lasting impression on
the human mind, must exercise our obedience, by enjoining
practices of devotion, for which we can assign no reason; and must
acquire our esteem, by inculcating moral duties analogous to the
dictates of our own hearts. The religion of Zoroaster was
abundantly provided with the former and possessed a sufficient
portion of the latter. At the age of puberty, the faithful
Persian was invested with a mysterious girdle, the badge of the
divine protection; and from that moment all the actions of his
life, even the most indifferent, or the most necessary, were
sanctified by their peculiar prayers, ejaculations, or
genuflections; the omission of which, under any circumstances, was
a grievous sin, not inferior in guilt to the violation of the
moral duties. The moral duties, however, of justice, mercy,
liberality, &c., were in their turn required of the disciple of
Zoroaster, who wished to escape the persecution of Ahriman, and to
live with Ormusd in a blissful eternity, where the degree of
felicity will be exactly proportioned to the degree of virtue and
piety. ^14

[Footnote 14: See the Sadder, the smallest part of which consists
of moral precepts. The ceremonies enjoined are infinite and
trifling. Fifteen genuflections, prayers, &c., were required

whenever the devout Persian cut his nails or made water; or as
often as he put on the sacred girdle Sadder, Art. 14, 50, 60.

Note: Zoroaster exacted much less ceremonial observance, than at
later period, the priests of his doctrines. This is the progress
of all religions the worship, simple in its origin, is gradually
overloaded with minute superstitions. The maxim of the
Zendavesta, on the relative merit of sowing the earth and of
prayers, quoted below by Gibbon, proves that Zoroaster did not
attach too much importance to these observances. Thus it is not
from the Zendavesta that Gibbon derives the proof of his
allegation, but from the Sadder, a much later work. - G]

But there are some remarkable instances in which Zoroaster lays
aside the prophet, assumes the legislator, and discovers a liberal
concern for private and public happiness, seldom to be found among
the grovelling or visionary schemes of superstition. Fasting and
celibacy, the common means of purchasing the divine favor, he
condemns with abhorrence, as a criminal rejection of the best
gifts of Providence. The saint, in the Magian religion, is
obliged to beget children, to plant useful trees, to destroy
noxious animals, to convey water to the dry lands of Persia, and
to work out his salvation by pursuing all the labors of
agriculture. ^* We may quote from the Zendavesta a wise and
benevolent maxim, which compensates for many an absurdity. "He
who sows the ground with care and diligence acquires a greater
stock of religious merit than he could gain by the repetition of
ten thousand prayers." ^15 In the spring of every year a festival
was celebrated, destined to represent the primitive equality, and
the present connection, of mankind. The stately kings of Persia,
exchanging their vain pomp for more genuine greatness, freely
mingled with the humblest but most useful of their subjects. On
that day the husbandmen were admitted, without distinction, to the
table of the king and his satraps. The monarch accepted their
petitions, inquired into their grievances, and conversed with them
on the most equal terms. "From your labors," was he accustomed to
say, (and to say with truth, if not with sincerity,) "from your
labors we receive our subsistence; you derive your tranquillity
from our vigilance: since, therefore, we are mutually necessary to
each other, let us live together like brothers in concord and
love." ^16 Such a festival must indeed have degenerated, in
wealthy and despotic empire, into a theatrical representation; but
it was at least a comedy well worthy of a royal audience, and
which might sometimes imprint a salutary lesson on the mind of
young prince.

[Footnote *: See, on Zoroaster's encouragement of agriculture, the
ingenious remarks of Heeren, Ideen, vol. i. p. 449, &c., and
Rhode, Heilige Sage, p. 517 - M.

[Footnote 15: Zendavesta, tom. i. p. 224, and Precis du Systeme de
Zoroastre, tom. iii.

[Footnote 16: Hyde de Religione Persarum, c. 19.

Had Zoroaster, in all his institutions, invariably supported this
exalted character, his name would deserve a place with those of
Numa and Confucius, and his system would be justly entitled to all
the applause, which it has pleased some of our divines, and even
some of our philosophers, to bestow on it. But in that motley
composition, dictated by reason and passion, by enthusiasm and by
selfish motives, some useful and sublime truths were disgraced by
a mixture of the most abject and dangerous superstition. The Magi,
or sacerdotal order, were extremely numerous, since, as we have
already seen, fourscore thousand of them were convened in
general council. Their forces were multiplied by discipline.
regular hierarchy was diffused through all the provinces of
Persia; and the Archimagus, who resided at Balch, was respected as
the visible head of the church, and the lawful successor of
Zoroaster. ^17 The property of the Magi was very considerable.
Besides the less invidious possession of a large tract of the most
fertile lands of Media, ^18 they levied a general tax on the
fortunes and the industry of the Persians. ^19 "Though your good
works," says the interested prophet, "exceed in number the leaves
of the trees, the drops of rain, the stars in the heaven, or the
sands on the sea-shore, they will all be unprofitable to you,
unless they are accepted by the destour, or priest. To obtain the
acceptation of this guide to salvation, you must faithfully pay
him tithes of all you possess, of your goods, of your lands, and
of your money. If the destour be satisfied, your soul will escape
hell tortures; you will secure praise in this world and happiness
in the next. For the destours are the teachers of religion; they
know all things, and they deliver all men." ^20 ^

[Footnote 17: Hyde de Religione Persarum, c. 28. Both Hyde and
Prideaux affect to apply to the Magian the terms consecrated to
the Christian hierarchy.

[Footnote 18: Ammian. Marcellin. xxiii. 6. He informs us (as far
as we may credit him) of two curious particulars: 1. That the Magi
derived some of their most secret doctrines from the Indian
Brachmans; and 2. That they were a tribe, or family, as well as

[Footnote 19: The divine institution of tithes exhibits a singular
instance of conformity between the law of Zoroaster and that of
Moses. Those who cannot otherwise account for it, may suppose, if
they please that the Magi of the latter times inserted so useful
an interpolation into the writings of their prophet.

[Footnote 20: Sadder, Art. viii.

[Footnote *: The passage quoted by Gibbon is not taken from the
writings of Zoroaster, but from the Sadder, a work, as has been

before said, much later than the books which form the Zendavesta.
and written by a Magus for popular use; what it contains,
therefore, cannot be attributed to Zoroaster. It is remarkable
that Gibbon should fall into this error, for Hyde himself does not
ascribe the Sadder to Zoroaster; he remarks that it is written
inverse, while Zoroaster always wrote in prose. Hyde, i. p. 27.
Whatever may be the case as to the latter assertion, for which
there appears little foundation, it is unquestionable that the
Sadder is of much later date. The Abbe Foucher does not even
believe it to be an extract from the works of Zoroaster. See his
Diss. before quoted. Mem. de l'Acad. des Ins. t. xxvii. - G.
Perhaps it is rash to speak of any part of the Zendavesta as the
writing of Zoroaster, though it may be a genuine representation of
his. As to the Sadder, Hyde (in Praef.) considered it not above
200 years old. It is manifestly post-Mahometan. See Art. xxv. on
fasting. - M.

These convenient maxims of reverence and implicit were doubtless
imprinted with care on the tender minds of youth; since the Magi
were the masters of education in Persia, and to their hands the
children even of the royal family were intrusted. ^21 The Persian
priests, who were of a speculative genius, preserved and
investigated the secrets of Oriental philosophy; and acquired,
either by superior knowledge, or superior art, the reputation of
being well versed in some occult sciences, which have derived
their appellation from the Magi. ^22 Those of more active
dispositions mixed with the world in courts and cities; and it is
observed, that the administration of Artaxerxes was in a great
measure directed by the counsels of the sacerdotal order, whose
dignity, either from policy or devotion, that prince restored to
its ancient splendor. ^23

[Footnote 21: Plato in Alcibiad.

[Footnote 22: Pliny (Hist. Natur. l. xxx. c. 1) observes, that
magic held mankind by the triple chain of religion, of physic, and
of astronomy.] [Footnote 23: Agathias, l. iv. p. 134.

The first counsel of the Magi was agreeable to the unsociable
genius of their faith, ^24 to the practice of ancient kings, ^25
and even to the example of their legislator, who had a victim to
religious war, excited by his own intolerant zeal. ^26 By an edict
of Artaxerxes, the exercise of every worship, except that of
Zoroaster, was severely prohibited. The temples of the Parthians,
and the statues of their deified monarchs, were thrown down with
ignominy. ^27 The sword of Aristotle (such was the name given by
the Orientals to the polytheism and philosophy of the Greeks) was
easily broken; ^28 the flames of persecution soon reached the more
stubborn Jews and Christians; ^29 nor did they spare the heretics
of their own nation and religion. The majesty of Ormusd, who was
jealous of a rival, was seconded by the despotism of Artaxerxes,
who could not suffer a rebel; and the schismatics within his vast

empire were soon reduced to the inconsiderable number of eighty
thousand. ^30 ^* This spirit of persecution reflects dishonor on
the religion of Zoroaster; but as it was not productive of any
civil commotion, it served to strengthen the new monarchy, by
uniting all the various inhabitants of Persia in the bands of
religious zeal. ^

[Footnote 24: Mr. Hume, in the Natural History of Religion,
sagaciously remarks, that the most refined and philosophic sects
are constantly the most intolerant.

Note: Hume's comparison is rather between theism and polytheism.
In India, in Greece, and in modern Europe, philosophic religion
has looked down with contemptuous toleration on the superstitions
of the vulgar. - M.] [Footnote 25: Cicero de Legibus, ii. 10.
Xerxes, by the advice of the Magi, destroyed the temples of

[Footnote 26: Hyde de Relig. Persar. c. 23, 24. D'Herbelot,
Bibliotheque Orientale, Zurdusht. Life of Zoroaster in tom. ii.
of the Zendavesta.] [Footnote 27: Compare Moses of Chorene, l. ii.

c. 74, with Ammian. Marcel lin. xxiii. 6. Hereafter I shall make
use of these passages.] [Footnote 28: Rabbi Abraham, in the Tarikh
Schickard, p. 108, 109.] [Footnote 29: Basnage, Histoire des
Juifs, l. viii. c. 3. Sozomen, l. ii. c. 1 Manes, who suffered an
ignominious death, may be deemed a Magian as well as a Christian
[Footnote 30: Hyde de Religione Persar. c. 21.

[Footnote *: It is incorrect to attribute these persecutions to
Artaxerxes. The Jews were held in honor by him, and their schools
flourished during his reign. Compare Jost, Geschichte der
Israeliter, b. xv. 5, with Basnage. Sapor was forced by the people
to temporary severities; but their real persecution did not begin
till the reigns of Yezdigerd and Kobad. Hist. of Jews, iii. 236.
According to Sozomen , i. viii., Sapor first persecuted the
Christians. Manes was put to death by Varanes the First, A. D.

277. Beausobre, Hist. de Man. i. 209. - M.
[Footnote !: In the testament of Ardischer in Ferdusi, the poet
assigns these sentiments to the dying king, as he addresses his
son: Never forget that as a king, you are at once the protector of
religion and of your country. Consider the altar and the throne
as inseparable; they must always sustain each other. Malcolm's
Persia. i. 74 - M]

II. Artaxerxes, by his valor and conduct, had wrested the sceptre
of the East from the ancient royal family of Parthia. There still
remained the more difficult task of establishing, throughout the
vast extent of Persia, a uniform and vigorous administration. The
weak indulgence of the Arsacides had resigned to their sons and

brothers the principal provinces, and the greatest offices of the
kingdom in the nature of hereditary possessions. The vitaxoe, or
eighteen most powerful satraps, were permitted to assume the regal
title; and the vain pride of the monarch was delighted with
nominal dominion over so many vassal kings. Even tribes of
barbarians in their mountains, and the Greek cities of Upper Asia,
^31 within their walls, scarcely acknowledged, or seldom obeyed.
any superior; and the Parthian empire exhibited, under other
names, a lively image of the feudal system ^32 which has since
prevailed in Europe. But the active victor, at the head of
numerous and disciplined army, visited in person every province of
Persia. The defeat of the boldest rebels, and the reduction of the
strongest fortifications, ^33 diffused the terror of his arms, and
prepared the way for the peaceful reception of his authority. An
obstinate resistance was fatal to the chiefs; but their followers
were treated with lenity. ^34 A cheerful submission was rewarded
with honors and riches, but the prudent Artaxerxes suffering no
person except himself to assume the title of king, abolished every
intermediate power between the throne and the people. His
kingdom, nearly equal in extent to modern Persia, was, on every
side, bounded by the sea, or by great rivers; by the Euphrates,
the Tigris, the Araxes, the Oxus, and the Indus, by the Caspian
Sea, and the Gulf of Persia. ^35 That country was computed to
contain, in the last century, five hundred and fifty-four cities,
sixty thousand villages, and about forty millions of souls. ^36 If
we compare the administration of the house of Sassan with that of
the house of Sefi, the political influence of the Magian with that
of the Mahometan religion, we shall probably infer, that the
kingdom of Artaxerxes contained at least as great a number of
cities, villages, and inhabitants. But it must likewise be
confessed, that in every age the want of harbors on the sea-
coast, and the scarcity of fresh water in the inland provinces,
have been very unfavorable to the commerce and agriculture of the
Persians; who, in the calculation of their numbers, seem to have
indulged one of the nearest, though most common, artifices of
national vanity.

[Footnote 31: These colonies were extremely numerous. Seleucus
Nicator founded thirty-nine cities, all named from himself, or
some of his relations, (see Appian in Syriac. p. 124.) The aera of
Seleucus (still in use among the eastern Christians) appears as
late as the year 508, of Christ 196, on the medals of the Greek
cities within the Parthian empire. See Moyle's works, vol. i. p.
273, &c., and M. Freret, Mem. de l'Academie, tom. xix.] [Footnote

32: The modern Persians distinguish that period as the dynasty of
the kings of the nations. See Plin. Hist. Nat. vi. 25.
[Footnote 33: Eutychius (tom. i. p. 367, 371, 375) relates the
siege of the island of Mesene in the Tigris, with some
circumstances not unlike the story of Nysus and Scylla.

[Footnote 34: Agathias, ii. 64, [and iv. p. 260.] The princes of
Segestan de fended their independence during many years. As
romances generally transport to an ancient period the events of
their own time, it is not impossible that the fabulous exploits of
Rustan, Prince of Segestan, many have been grafted on this real

[Footnote 35: We can scarcely attribute to the Persian monarchy
the sea-coast of Gedrosia or Macran, which extends along the
Indian Ocean from Cape Jask (the promontory Capella) to Cape
Goadel. In the time of Alexander, and probably many ages
afterwards, it was thinly inhabited by a savage people of
Icthyophagi, or Fishermen, who knew no arts, who acknowledged no
master, and who were divided by in-hospitable deserts from the
rest of the world. (See Arrian de Reb. Indicis.) In the twelfth
century, the little town of Taiz (supposed by M. d'Anville to be
the Teza of Ptolemy) was peopled and enriched by the resort of the
Arabian merchants. (See Geographia Nubiens, p. 58, and d'Anville,
Geographie Ancienne, tom. ii. p. 283.) In the last age, the whole
country was divided between three princes, one Mahometan and two
Idolaters, who maintained their independence against the
successors of Shah Abbas. (Voyages de Tavernier, part i. l. v. p.

[Footnote 36: Chardin, tom. iii c 1 2, 3.

As soon as the ambitious mind of Artaxerxes had triumphed ever the
resistance of his vassals, he began to threaten the neighboring
states, who, during the long slumber of his predecessors, had
insulted Persia with impunity. He obtained some easy victories
over the wild Scythians and the effeminate Indians; but the Romans
were an enemy, who, by their past injuries and present power,
deserved the utmost efforts of his arms. A forty years'
tranquillity, the fruit of valor and moderation, had succeeded the
victories of Trajan. During the period that elapsed from the
accession of Marcus to the reign of Alexander, the Roman and the
Parthian empires were twice engaged in war; and although the whole
strength of the Arsacides contended with a part only of the forces
of Rome, the event was most commonly in favor of the latter.
Macrinus, indeed, prompted by his precarious situation and
pusillanimous temper, purchased a peace at the expense of near two
millions of our money; ^37 but the generals of Marcus, the emperor
Severus, and his son, erected many trophies in Armenia,
Mesopotamia, and Assyria. Among their exploits, the imperfect
relation of which would have unseasonably interrupted the more
important series of domestic revolutions, we shall only mention
the repeated calamities of the two great cities of Seleucia and
Ctesiphon. [Footnote 37: Dion, l. xxviii. p. 1335.

Seleucia, on the western bank of the Tigris, about forty-five
miles to the north of ancient Babylon, was the capital of the
Macedonian conquests in Upper Asia. ^38 Many ages after the fall

of their empire, Seleucia retained the genuine characters of
Grecian colony, arts, military virtue, and the love of freedom.
The independent republic was governed by a senate of three hundred
nobles; the people consisted of six hundred thousand citizens; the
walls were strong, and as long as concord prevailed among the
several orders of the state, they viewed with contempt the power
of the Parthian: but the madness of faction was sometimes provoked
to implore the dangerous aid of the common enemy, who was posted
almost at the gates of the colony. ^39 The Parthian monarchs, like
the Mogul sovereigns of Hindostan, delighted in the pastoral life
of their Scythian ancestors; and the Imperial camp was frequently
pitched in the plain of Ctesiphon, on the eastern bank of the
Tigris, at the distance of only three miles from Seleucia. ^40 The
innumerable attendants on luxury and despotism resorted to the
court, and the little village of Ctesiphon insensibly swelled into
a great city. ^41 Under the reign of Marcus, the Roman generals
penetrated as far as Ctesiphon and Seleucia. They were received
as friends by the Greek colony; they attacked as enemies the seat
of the Parthian kings; yet both cities experienced the same
treatment. The sack and conflagration of Seleucia, with the
massacre of three hundred thousand of the inhabitants, tarnished
the glory of the Roman triumph. ^42 Seleucia, already exhausted by
the neighborhood of a too powerful rival, sunk under the fatal
blow; but Ctesiphon, in about thirty- three years, had
sufficiently recovered its strength to maintain an obstinate siege
against the emperor Severus. The city was, however, taken by
assault; the king, who defended it in person, escaped with
precipitation; a hundred thousand captives, and a rich booty,
rewarded the fatigues of the Roman soldiers. ^43 Notwithstanding
these misfortunes, Ctesiphon succeeded to Babylon and to Seleucia,
as one of the great capitals of the East. In summer, the monarch
of Persia enjoyed at Ecbatana the cool breezes of the mountains of
Media; but the mildness of the climate engaged him to prefer
Ctesiphon for his winter residence.

[Footnote 38: For the precise situation of Babylon, Seleucia,
Ctesiphon, Moiain, and Bagdad, cities often confounded with each
other, see an excellent Geographical Tract of M. d'Anville, in
Mem. de l'Academie, tom. xxx.] [Footnote 39: Tacit. Annal. xi. 42.
Plin. Hist. Nat. vi. 26.] [Footnote 40: This may be inferred from
Strabo, l. xvi. p. 743.] [Footnote 41: That most curious
traveller, Bernier, who followed the camp of Aurengzebe from Delhi
to Cashmir, describes with great accuracy the immense moving city.
The guard of cavalry consisted of 35,000 men, that of infantry of
10,000. It was computed that the camp contained 150,000 horses,
mules, and elephants; 50,000 camels, 50,000 oxen, and between
300,000 and 400,000 persons. Almost all Delhi followed the court,
whose magnificence supported its industry.

[Footnote 42: Dion, l. lxxi. p. 1178. Hist. August. p. 38.
Eutrop. viii. 10 Euseb. in Chronic. Quadratus (quoted in the

Augustan History) attempted to vindicate the Romans by alleging
that the citizens of Seleucia had first violated their faith.

[Footnote 43: Dion, l. lxxv. p. 1263. Herodian, l. iii. p. 120.
Hist. August. p. 70.

From these successful inroads the Romans derived no real or
lasting benefit; nor did they attempt to preserve such distant
conquests, separated from the provinces of the empire by a large
tract of intermediate desert. The reduction of the kingdom of
Osrhoene was an acquisition of less splendor indeed, but of a far
more solid advantage. That little state occupied the northern and
most fertile part of Mesopotamia, between the Euphrates and the
Tigris. Edessa, its capital, was situated about twenty miles
beyond the former of those rivers; and the inhabitants, since the
time of Alexander, were a mixed race of Greeks, Arabs, Syrians,
and Armenians. ^44 The feeble sovereigns of Osrhoene, placed on
the dangerous verge of two contending empires, were attached from
inclination to the Parthian cause; but the superior power of Rome
exacted from them a reluctant homage, which is still attested by
their medals. After the conclusion of the Parthian war under
Marcus, it was judged prudent to secure some substantia, pledges
of their doubtful fidelity. Forts were constructed in several
parts of the country, and a Roman garrison was fixed in the strong
town of Nisibis. During the troubles that followed the death of
Commodus, the princes of Osrhoene attempted to shake off the yoke;
but the stern policy of Severus confirmed their dependence, ^45
and the perfidy of Caracalla completed the easy conquest.
Abgarus, the last king of Edessa, was sent in chains to Rome, his
dominions reduced into a province, and his capital dignified with
the rank of colony; and thus the Romans, about ten years before
the fall of the Parthian monarchy, obtained a firm and permanent
establishment beyond the Euphrates. ^46

[Footnote 44: The polished citizens of Antioch called those of
Edessa mixed barbarians. It was, however, some praise, that of
the three dialects of the Syriac, the purest and most elegant (the
Aramaean) was spoken at Edessa. This remark M. Bayer (Hist. Edess.
p 5) has borrowed from George of Malatia, a Syrian writer.

[Footnote 45: Dion, l. lxxv. p. 1248, 1249, 1250. M. Bayer has
neglected to use this most important passage.

[Footnote 46: This kingdom, from Osrhoes, who gave a new name to
the country, to the last Abgarus, had lasted 353 years. See the
learned work of M. Bayer, Historia Osrhoena et Edessena.

Prudence as well as glory might have justified a war on the side
of Artaxerxes, had his views been confined to the defence or
acquisition of a useful frontier. but the ambitious Persian
openly avowed a far more extensive design of conquest; and he
thought himself able to support his lofty pretensions by the arms

of reason as well as by those of power. Cyrus, he alleged, had
first subdued, and his successors had for a long time possessed,
the whole extent of Asia, as far as the Propontis and the Aegean
Sea; the provinces of Caria and Ionia, under their empire, had
been governed by Persian satraps, and all Egypt, to the confines
of Aethiopia, had acknowledged their sovereignty. ^47 Their rights
had been suspended, but not destroyed, by a long usurpation; and
as soon as he received the Persian diadem, which birth and
successful valor had placed upon his head, the first great duty of
his station called upon him to restore the ancient limits and
splendor of the monarchy. The Great King, therefore, (such was
the haughty style of his embassies to the emperor Alexander,
commanded the Romans instantly to depart from all the provinces of
his ancestors, and, yielding to the Persians the empire of Asia,
to content themselves with the undisturbed possession of Europe.
This haughty mandate was delivered by four hundred of the tallest
and most beautiful of the Persians; who, by their fine horses,
splendid arms, and rich apparel, displayed the pride and greatness
of their master. ^48 Such an embassy was much less an offer of
negotiation than a declaration of war. Both Alexander Severus and
Artaxerxes, collecting the military force of the Roman and Persian
monarchies, resolved in this important contest to lead their
armies in person.

[Footnote 47: Xenophon, in the preface to the Cyropaedia, gives
clear and magnificent idea of the extent of the empire of Cyrus.
Herodotus (l. iii. c. 79, &c.) enters into a curious and
particular description of the twenty great Satrapies into which
the Persian empire was divided by Darius Hystaspes.] [Footnote 48:
Herodian, vi. 209, 212.

If we credit what should seem the most authentic of all records,
an oration, still extant, and delivered by the emperor himself to
the senate, we must allow that the victory of Alexander Severus
was not inferior to any of those formerly obtained over the
Persians by the son of Philip. The army of the Great King
consisted of one hundred and twenty thousand horse, clothed in
complete armor of steel; of seven hundred elephants, with towers
filled with archers on their backs, and of eighteen hundred
chariots armed with scythes. This formidable host, the like of
which is not to be found in eastern history, and has scarcely been
imagined in eastern romance, ^49 was discomfited in a great
battle, in which the Roman Alexander proved himself an intrepid
soldier and a skilful general. The Great King fled before his
valor; an immense booty, and the conquest of Mesopotamia, were the
immediate fruits of this signal victory. Such are the
circumstances of this ostentatious and improbable relation,
dictated, as it too plainly appears, by the vanity of the monarch,
adorned by the unblushing servility of his flatterers, and
received without contradiction by a distant and obsequious senate.
^50 Far from being inclined to believe that the arms of Alexander
obtained any memorable advantage over the Persians, we are induced

to suspect that all this blaze of imaginary glory was designed to
conceal some real disgrace.

[Footnote 49: There were two hundred scythed chariots at the
battle of Arbela, in the host of Darius. In the vast army of
Tigranes, which was vanquished by Lucullus, seventeen thousand
horse only were completely armed. Antiochus brought fifty-four
elephants into the field against the Romans: by his frequent wars
and negotiations with the princes of India, he had once collected
a hundred and fifty of those great animals; but it may be
questioned whether the most powerful monarch of Hindostan evci
formed a line of battle of seven hundred elephants. Instead of
three or four thousand elephants, which the Great Mogul was
supposed to possess, Tavernier (Voyages, part ii. l. i. p. 198)
discovered, by a more accurate inquiry, that he had only five
hundred for his baggage, and eighty or ninety for the service of
war. The Greeks have varied with regard to the number which Porus
brought into the field; but Quintus Curtius, (viii. 13,) in this
instance judicious and moderate, is contented with eighty-five
elephants, distinguished by their size and strength. In Siam,
where these animals are the most numerous and the most esteemed,
eighteen elephants are allowed as a sufficient proportion for each
of the nine brigades into which a just army is divided. The whole
number, of one hundred and sixty-two elephants of war, may
sometimes be doubled. Hist. des Voyages, tom. ix. p. 260.

Note: Compare Gibbon's note 10 to ch. lvii - M.

[Footnote 50: Hist. August. p. 133.

Note: See M. Guizot's note, p. 267. According to the Persian
authorities Ardeschir extended his conquests to the Euphrates.
Malcolm i. 71. - M.] Our suspicious are confirmed by the authority
of a contemporary historian, who mentions the virtues of Alexander
with respect, and his faults with candor. He describes the
judicious plan which had been formed for the conduct of the war.
Three Roman armies were destined to invade Persia at the same
time, and by different roads. But the operations of the campaign,
though wisely concerted, were not executed either with ability or
success. The first of these armies, as soon as it had entered the
marshy plains of Babylon, towards the artificial conflux of the
Euphrates and the Tigris, ^51 was encompassed by the superior
numbers, and destroyed by the arrows of the enemy. The alliance of
Chosroes, king of Armenia, ^52 and the long tract of mountainous
country, in which the Persian cavalry was of little service,
opened a secure entrance into the heart of Media, to the second of
the Roman armies. These brave troops laid waste the adjacent
provinces, and by several successful actions against Artaxerxes,
gave a faint color to the emperor's vanity. But the retreat of
this victorious army was imprudent, or at least unfortunate. In
repassing the mountains, great numbers of soldiers perished by the
badness of the roads, and the severity of the winter season. It

had been resolved, that whilst these two great detachments
penetrated into the opposite extremes of the Persian dominions,
the main body, under the command of Alexander himself, should
support their attack, by invading the centre of the kingdom. But
the unexperienced youth, influenced by his mother's counsels, and
perhaps by his own fears, deserted the bravest troops, and the
fairest prospect of victory; and after consuming in Mesopotamia an
inactive and inglorious summer, he led back to Antioch an army
diminished by sickness, and provoked by disappointment. The
behavior of Artaxerxes had been very different. Flying with
rapidity from the hills of Media to the marshes of the Euphrates,
he had everywhere opposed the invaders in person; and in either
fortune had united with the ablest conduct the most undaunted
resolution. But in several obstinate engagements against the
veteran legions of Rome, the Persian monarch had lost the flower
of his troops. Even his victories had weakened his power. The
favorable opportunities of the absence of Alexander, and of the
confusions that followed that emperor's death, presented
themselves in vain to his ambition. Instead of expelling the
Romans, as he pretended, from the continent of Asia, he found
himself unable to wrest from their hands the little province of
Mesopotamia. ^53 [Footnote 51: M. de Tillemont has already
observed, that Herodian's geography is somewhat confused.

[Footnote 52: Moses of Chorene (Hist. Armen. l. ii. c. 71)
illustrates this invasion of Media, by asserting that Chosroes,
king of Armenia, defeated Artaxerxes, and pursued him to the
confines of India. The exploits of Chosroes have been magnified;
and he acted as a dependent ally to the Romans.

[Footnote 53: For the account of this war, see Herodian, l. vi. p.
209, 212. The old abbreviators and modern compilers have blindly
followed the Augustan History.

The reign of Artaxerxes, which, from the last defeat of the
Parthians, lasted only fourteen years, forms a memorable aera in
the history of the East, and even in that of Rome. His character
seems to have been marked by those bold and commanding features,
that generally distinguish the princes who conquer, from those who
inherit an empire. Till the last period of the Persian monarchy,
his code of laws was respected as the groundwork of their civil
and religious policy. ^54 Several of his sayings are preserved.
One of them in particular discovers a deep insight into the
constitution of government. "The authority of the prince," said
Artaxerxes, "must be defended by a military force; that force can
only be maintained by taxes; all taxes must, at last, fall upon
agriculture; and agriculture can never flourish except under the
protection of justice and moderation." ^55 Artaxerxes bequeathed
his new empire, and his ambitious designs against the Romans, to
Sapor, a son not unworthy of his great father; but those designs
were too extensive for the power of Persia, and served only to
involve both nations in a long series of destructive wars and

reciprocal calamities. [Footnote 54: Eutychius, tom. ii. p. 180,
vers. Pocock. The great Chosroes Noushirwan sent the code of
Artaxerxes to all his satraps, as the invariable rule of their

[Footnote 55: D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, au mot Ardshir.
We may observe, that after an ancient period of fables, and a long
interval of darkness, the modern histories of Persia begin to
assume an air of truth with the dynasty of Sassanides. [Compare
Malcolm, i. 79. - M.] The Persians, long since civilized and
corrupted, were very far from possessing the martial independence,
and the intrepid hardiness, both of mind and body, which have
rendered the northern barbarians masters of the world. The science
of war, that constituted the more rational force of Greece and
Rome, as it now does of Europe, never made any considerable
progress in the East. Those disciplined evolutions which
harmonize and animate a confused multitude, were unknown to the
Persians. They were equally unskilled in the arts of
constructing, besieging, or defending regular fortifications.
They trusted more to their numbers than to their courage; more to
their courage than to their discipline. The infantry was a half-
armed, spiritless crowd of peasants, levied in haste by the
allurements of plunder, and as easily dispersed by a victory as by
a defeat. The monarch and his nobles transported into the camp
the pride and luxury of the seraglio. Their military operations
were impeded by a useless train of women, eunuchs, horses, and
camels; and in the midst of a successful campaign, the Persian
host was often separated or destroyed by an unexpected famine. ^56
[Footnote 56: Herodian, l. vi. p. 214. Ammianus Marcellinus, l.

xxiii. c. 6. Some differences may be observed between the two
historians, the natural effects of the changes produced by
century and a half.
But the nobles of Persia, in the bosom of luxury and despotism,
preserved a strong sense of personal gallantry and national honor.
From the age of seven years they were taught to speak truth, to
shoot with the bow, and to ride; and it was universally confessed,
that in the two last of these arts, they had made a more than
common proficiency. ^57 The most distinguished youth were educated
under the monarch's eye, practised their exercises in the gate of
his palace, and were severely trained up to the habits of
temperance and obedience, in their long and laborious parties of
hunting. In every province, the satrap maintained a like school
of military virtue. The Persian nobles (so natural is the idea of
feudal tenures) received from the king's bounty lands and houses,
on the condition of their service in war. They were ready on the
first summons to mount on horseback, with a martial and splendid
train of followers, and to join the numerous bodies of guards, who
were carefully selected from among the most robust slaves, and the
bravest adventures of Asia. These armies, both of light and of
heavy cavalry, equally formidable by the impetuosity of their
charge and the rapidity of their motions, threatened, as an

impending cloud, the eastern provinces of the declining empire of
Rome. ^58

[Footnote 57: The Persians are still the most skilful horsemen,
and their horses the finest in the East.

[Footnote 58: From Herodotus, Xenophon, Herodian, Ammianus,
Chardin, &c., I have extracted such probable accounts of the
Persian nobility, as seem either common to every age, or
particular to that of the Sassanides.

Chapter IX: State Of Germany Until The Barbarians.

Part I.

The State Of Germany Till The Invasion Of The Barbarians In The
Time Of The Emperor Decius.

The government and religion of Persia have deserved some notice,
from their connection with the decline and fall of the Roman
empire. We shall occasionally mention the Scythian or Sarmatian
tribes, ^* which, with their arms and horses, their flocks and
herds, their wives and families, wandered over the immense plains
which spread themselves from the Caspian Sea to the Vistula, from
the confines of Persia to those of Germany. But the warlike
Germans, who first resisted, then invaded, and at length
overturned the Western monarchy of Rome, will occupy a much more
important place in this history, and possess a stronger, and, if
we may use the expression, a more domestic, claim to our attention
and regard. The most civilized nations of modern Europe issued
from the woods of Germany; and in the rude institutions of those
barbarians we may still distinguish the original principles of our
present laws and manners. In their primitive state of simplicity
and independence, the Germans were surveyed by the discerning eye,
and delineated by the masterly pencil, of Tacitus, ^* the first of
historians who applied the science of philosophy to the study of
facts. The expressive conciseness of his descriptions has served
to exercise the diligence of innumerable antiquarians, and to
excite the genius and penetration of the philosophic historians of
our own times. The subject, however various and important, has
already been so frequently, so ably, and so successfully
discussed, that it is now grown familiar to the reader, and
difficult to the writer. We shall therefore content ourselves with
observing, and indeed with repeating, some of the most important
circumstances of climate, of manners, and of institutions, which
rendered the wild barbarians of Germany such formidable enemies to
the Roman power.

[Footnote *: The Scythians, even according to the ancients, are
not Sarmatians. It may be doubted whether Gibbon intended to
confound them. - M.] The Greeks, after having divided the world

into Greeks and barbarians. divided the barbarians into four great
classes, the Celts, the Scythians, the Indians, and the
Ethiopians. They called Celts all the inhabitants of Gaul.
Scythia extended from the Baltic Sea to the Lake Aral: the people
enclosed in the angle to the north-east, between Celtica and
Scythia, were called Celto- Scythians, and the Sarmatians were
placed in the southern part of that angle. But these names of
Celts, of Scythians, of Celto-Scythians, and Sarmatians, were
invented, says Schlozer, by the profound cosmographical ignorance
of the Greeks, and have no real ground; they are purely
geographical divisions, without any relation to the true
affiliation of the different races. Thus all the inhabitants of
Gaul are called Celts by most of the ancient writers; yet Gaul
contained three totally distinct nations, the Belgae, the
Aquitani, and the Gauls, properly so called. Hi omnes lingua
institutis, legibusque inter se differunt. Caesar. Com. c. i. It
is thus the Turks call all Europeans Franks. Schlozer, Allgemeine
Nordische Geschichte, p. 289. 1771. Bayer (de Origine et priscis
Sedibus Scytharum, in Opusc. p. 64) says, Primus eorum, de quibus
constat, Ephorus, in quarto historiarum libro, orbem terrarum
inter Scythas, Indos, Aethiopas et Celtas divisit. Fragmentum ejus
loci Cosmas Indicopleustes in topographia Christiana, f. 148,
conservavit. Video igitur Ephorum, cum locorum positus per certa
capita distribuere et explicare constitueret, insigniorum nomina
gentium vastioribus spatiis adhibuisse, nulla mala fraude et
successu infelici. Nam Ephoro quoquomodo dicta pro exploratis
habebant Graeci plerique et Romani: ita gliscebat error
posteritate. Igitur tot tamque diversae stirpis gentes non modo
intra communem quandam regionem definitae, unum omnes Scytharum
nomen his auctoribus subierunt, sed etiam ab illa regionis
adpellatione in eandem nationem sunt conflatae. Sic Cimmeriorum
res cum Scythicis, Scytharum cum Sarmaticis, Russicis, Hunnicis,
Tataricis commiscentur. - G.] [Footnote *: The Germania of Tacitus
has been a fruitful source of hypothesis to the ingenuity of
modern writers, who have endeavored to account for the form of the
work and the views of the author. According to Luden, (Geschichte
des T. V. i. 432, and note,) it contains the unfinished and
disarranged for a larger work. An anonymous writer, supposed by
Luden to be M. Becker, conceives that it was intended as an
episode in his larger history. According to M. Guizot, "Tacite
peint les Germains comme Montaigne et Rousseau les sauvages, dans
un acces d'humeur contre sa patrie: son livre est une satire des
moeurs Romaines, l'eloquente boutade d'un patriote philosophe qui
veut voir la vertu la, ou il ne rencontre pas la mollesse honteuse
et la depravation savante d'une vielle societe." Hist. de la
Civilisation Moderne, i. 258. - M.

Ancient Germany, excluding from its independent limits the
province westward of the Rhine, which had submitted to the Roman
yoke, extended itself over a third part of Europe. ^1 Almost the
whole of modern Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland,
Livonia, Prussia, and the greater part of Poland, were peopled by

the various tribes of one great nation, whose complexion, manners,
and language denoted a common origin, and preserved a striking
resemblance. On the west, ancient Germany was divided by the
Rhine from the Gallic, and on the south, by the Danube, from the
Illyrian, provinces of the empire. A ridge of hills, rising from
the Danube, and called the Carpathian Mountains, covered Germany
on the side of Dacia or Hungary. The eastern frontier was faintly
marked by the mutual fears of the Germans and the Sarmatians, and
was often confounded by the mixture of warring and confederating
tribes of the two nations. In the remote darkness of the north,
the ancients imperfectly descried a frozen ocean that lay beyond
the Baltic Sea, and beyond the Peninsula, or islands ^1 of

[Footnote 1: Germany was not of such vast extent. It is from
Caesar, and more particularly from Ptolemy, (says Gatterer,) that
we can know what was the state of ancient Germany before the wars
with the Romans had changed the positions of the tribes. Germany,
as changed by these wars, has been described by Strabo, Pliny, and
Tacitus. Germany, properly so called, was bounded on the west by
the Rhine, on the east by the Vistula, on the north by the
southern point of Norway, by Sweden, and Esthonia. On the south,
the Maine and the mountains to the north of Bohemia formed the
limits. Before the time of Caesar, the country between the Maine
and the Danube was partly occupied by the Helvetians and other
Gauls, partly by the Hercynian forest but, from the time of Caesar
to the great migration, these boundaries were advanced as far as
the Danube, or, what is the same thing, to the Suabian Alps,
although the Hercynian forest still occupied, from north to south,
a space of nine days' journey on both banks of the Danube.
"Gatterer, Versuch einer all-gemeinen Welt-Geschichte," p. 424,
edit. de 1792. This vast country was far from being inhabited by
a single nation divided into different tribes of the same origin.
We may reckon three principal races, very distinct in their
language, their origin, and their customs. 1. To the east, the
Slaves or Vandals. 2. To the west, the Cimmerians or Cimbri. 3.
Between the Slaves and Cimbrians, the Germans, properly so called,
the Suevi of Tacitus. The South was inhabited, before Julius
Caesar, by nations of Gaulish origin, afterwards by the Suevi.

G. On the position of these nations, the German antiquaries
differ. I. The Slaves, or Sclavonians, or Wendish tribes,
according to Schlozer, were originally settled in parts of Germany
unknown to the Romans, Mecklenburgh, Pomerania, Brandenburgh,
Upper Saxony; and Lusatia. According to Gatterer, they remained
to the east of the Theiss, the Niemen, and the Vistula, till the
third century. The Slaves, according to Procopius and Jornandes,
formed three great divisions. 1. The Venedi or Vandals, who took
the latter name, (the Wenden,) having expelled the Vandals,
properly so called, (a Suevian race, the conquerors of Africa,
from the country between the Memel and the Vistula. 2. The Antes,
who inhabited between the Dneister and the Dnieper. 3. The
Sclavonians, properly so called, in the north of Dacia. During

the great migration, these races advanced into Germany as far as
the Saal and the Elbe. The Sclavonian language is the stem from
which have issued the Russian, the Polish, the Bohemian, and the
dialects of Lusatia, of some parts of the duchy of Luneburgh, of
Carniola, Carinthia, and Styria, &c.; those of Croatia, Bosnia,
and Bulgaria. Schlozer, Nordische Geschichte, p. 323, 335. II.
The Cimbric race. Adelung calls by this name all who were not
Suevi. This race had passed the Rhine, before the time of Caesar,
occupied Belgium, and are the Belgae of Caesar and Pliny. The
Cimbrians also occupied the Isle of Jutland. The Cymri of Wales
and of Britain are of this race. Many tribes on the right bank of
the Rhine, the Guthini in Jutland, the Usipeti in Westphalia, the
Sigambri in the duchy of Berg, were German Cimbrians. III. The
Suevi, known in very early times by the Romans, for they are
mentioned by L. Corn. Sisenna, who lived 123 years before Christ,
(Nonius v. Lancea.) This race, the real Germans, extended to the
Vistula, and from the Baltic to the Hercynian forest. The name of
Suevi was sometimes confined to a single tribe, as by Caesar to
the Catti. The name of the Suevi has been preserved in Suabia.

These three were the principal races which inhabited Germany; they
moved from east to west, and are the parent stem of the modern
natives. But northern Europe, according to Schlozer, was not
peopled by them alone; other races, of different origin, and
speaking different languages, have inhabited and left descendants
in these countries.

The German tribes called themselves, from very remote times, by
the generic name of Teutons, (Teuten, Deutschen,) which Tacitus
derives from that of one of their gods, Tuisco. It appears more
probable that it means merely men, people. Many savage nations
have given themselves no other name. Thus the Laplanders call
themselves Almag, people; the Samoiedes Nilletz, Nissetsch, men,
&c. As to the name of Germans, (Germani,) Caesar found it in use
in Gaul, and adopted it as a word already known to the Romans.
Many of the learned (from a passage of Tacitus, de Mor Germ. c. 2)
have supposed that it was only applied to the Teutons after
Caesar's time; but Adelung has triumphantly refuted this opinion.
The name of Germans is found in the Fasti Capitolini. See Gruter,
Iscrip. 2899, in which the consul Marcellus, in the year of Rome
531, is said to have defeated the Gauls, the Insubrians, and the
Germans, commanded by Virdomar. See Adelung, Aelt. Geschichte der
Deutsch, p. 102. - Compressed from G.

[Footnote 1: The modern philosophers of Sweden seem agreed that
the waters of the Baltic gradually sink in a regular proportion,
which they have ventured to estimate at half an inch every year.
Twenty centuries ago the flat country of Scandinavia must have
been covered by the sea; while the high lands rose above the
waters, as so many islands of various forms and dimensions. Such,
indeed, is the notion given us by Mela, Pliny, and Tacitus, of the
vast countries round the Baltic. See in the Bibliotheque

Raisonnee, tom. xl. and xlv. a large abstract of Dalin's History
of Sweden, composed in the Swedish language.

Note: Modern geologists have rejected this theory of the
depression of the Baltic, as inconsistent with recent observation.
The considerable changes which have taken place on its shores, Mr.
Lyell, from actual observation now decidedly attributes to the
regular and uniform elevation of the land. - Lyell's Geology, b.

ii. c. 17 - M.
Some ingenious writers ^2 have suspected that Europe was much
colder formerly than it is at present; and the most ancient
descriptions of the climate of Germany tend exceedingly to confirm
their theory. The general complaints of intense frost and eternal
winter, are perhaps little to be regarded, since we have no method
of reducing to the accurate standard of the thermometer, the
feelings, or the expressions, of an orator born in the happier
regions of Greece or Asia. But I shall select two remarkable
circumstances of a less equivocal nature. 1. The great rivers
which covered the Roman provinces, the Rhine and the Danube, were
frequently frozen over, and capable of supporting the most
enormous weights. The barbarians, who often chose that severe
season for their inroads, transported, without apprehension or
danger, their numerous armies, their cavalry, and their heavy
wagons, over a vast and solid bridge of ice. ^3 Modern ages have
not presented an instance of a like phenomenon. 2. The reindeer,
that useful animal, from whom the savage of the North derives the
best comforts of his dreary life, is of a constitution that
supports, and even requires, the most intense cold. He is found
on the rock of Spitzberg, within ten degrees of the Pole; he seems
to delight in the snows of Lapland and Siberia: but at present he
cannot subsist, much less multiply, in any country to the south of
the Baltic. ^4 In the time of Caesar the reindeer, as well as the
elk and the wild bull, was a native of the Hercynian forest, which
then overshadowed a great part of Germany and Poland. ^5 The
modern improvements sufficiently explain the causes of the
diminution of the cold. These immense woods have been gradually
cleared, which intercepted from the earth the rays of the sun. ^
The morasses have been drained, and, in proportion as the soil has
been cultivated, the air has become more temperate. Canada, at
this day, is an exact picture of ancient Germany. Although
situated in the same parallel with the finest provinces of France
and England, that country experiences the most rigorous cold. The
reindeer are very numerous, the ground is covered with deep and
lasting snow, and the great river of St. Lawrence is regularly
frozen, in a season when the waters of the Seine and the Thames
are usually free from ice. ^7 [Footnote 2: In particular, Mr.
Hume, the Abbe du Bos, and M. Pelloutier. Hist. des Celtes, tom.

[Footnote 3: Diodorus Siculus, l. v. p. 340, edit. Wessel.
Herodian, l. vi. p. 221. Jornandes, c. 55. On the banks of the

Danube, the wine, when brought to table, was frequently frozen
into great lumps, frusta vini. Ovid. Epist. ex Ponto, l. iv. 7,
9, 10. Virgil. Georgic. l. iii. 355. The fact is confirmed by
soldier and a philosopher, who had experienced the intense cold of
Thrace. See Xenophon, Anabasis, l. vii. p. 560, edit. Hutchinson.
Note: The Danube is constantly frozen over. At Pesth the bridge
is usually taken up, and the traffic and communication between the
two banks carried on over the ice. The Rhine is likewise in many
parts passable at least two years out of five. Winter campaigns
are so unusual, in modern warfare, that I recollect but one
instance of an army crossing either river on the ice. In the
thirty years' war, (1635,) Jan van Werth, an Imperialist partisan,
crossed the Rhine from Heidelberg on the ice with 5000 men, and
surprised Spiers. Pichegru's memorable campaign, (1794-5,) when
the freezing of the Meuse and Waal opened Holland to his
conquests, and his cavalry and artillery attacked the ships frozen
in, on the Zuyder Zee, was in a winter of unprecedented severity.

-M. 1845.
[Footnote 4: Buffon, Histoire Naturelle, tom. xii. p. 79, 116.
[Footnote 5: Caesar de Bell. Gallic. vi. 23, &c. The most
inquisitive of the Germans were ignorant of its utmost limits,
although some of them had travelled in it more than sixty days'

Note: The passage of Caesar, "parvis renonum tegumentis utuntur,
is obscure, observes Luden, (Geschichte des Teutschen Volkes,) and
insufficient to prove the reindeer to have existed in Germany. It
is supported however, by a fragment of Sallust. Germani intectum
rhenonibus corpus tegunt. - M. It has been suggested to me that
Caesar (as old Gesner supposed) meant the reindeer in the
following description. Est bos cervi figura cujus a media fronte
inter aures unum cornu existit, excelsius magisque directum
(divaricatum, qu ?) his quae nobis nota sunt cornibus. At ejus
summo, sicut palmae, rami quam late diffunduntur. Bell. vi. - M.
1845.] [Footnote 6: Cluverius (Germania Antiqua, l. iii. c. 47)
investigates the small and scattered remains of the Hercynian

[Footnote 7: Charlevoix, Histoire du Canada.

It is difficult to ascertain, and easy to exaggerate, the
influence of the climate of ancient Germany over the minds and
bodies of the natives. Many writers have supposed, and most have
allowed, though, as it should seem, without any adequate proof,
that the rigorous cold of the North was favorable to long life and
generative vigor, that the women were more fruitful, and the human
species more prolific, than in warmer or more temperate climates.
^8 We may assert, with greater confidence, that the keen air of
Germany formed the large and masculine limbs of the natives, who
were, in general, of a more lofty stature than the people of the
South, ^9 gave them a kind of strength better adapted to violent

exertions than to patient labor, and inspired them with
constitutional bravery, which is the result of nerves and spirits.
The severity of a winter campaign, that chilled the courage of the
Roman troops, was scarcely felt by these hardy children of the
North, ^10 who, in their turn, were unable to resist the summer
heats, and dissolved away in languor and sickness under the beams
of an Italian sun. ^11

[Footnote 8: Olaus Rudbeck asserts that the Swedish women often
bear ten or twelve children, and not uncommonly twenty or thirty;
but the authority of Rudbeck is much to be suspected.

[Footnote 9: In hos artus, in haec corpora, quae miramur,
excrescunt. Taeit Germania, 3, 20. Cluver. l. i. c. 14.

[Footnote 10: Plutarch. in Mario. The Cimbri, by way of
amusement, often did down mountains of snow on their broad

[Footnote 11: The Romans made war in all climates, and by their
excellent discipline were in a great measure preserved in health
and vigor. It may be remarked, that man is the only animal which
can live and multiply in every country from the equator to the
poles. The hog seems to approach the nearest to our species in
that privilege.

Chapter IX: State Of Germany Until The Barbarians.

Part II.

There is not any where upon the globe a large tract of country,
which we have discovered destitute of inhabitants, or whose first
population can be fixed with any degree of historical certainty.
And yet, as the most philosophic minds can seldom refrain from
investigating the infancy of great nations, our curiosity consumes
itself in toilsome and disappointed efforts. When Tacitus
considered the purity of the German blood, and the forbidding
aspect of the country, he was disposed to pronounce those
barbarians Indigence, or natives of the soil. We may allow with
safety, and perhaps with truth, that ancient Germany was not
originally peopled by any foreign colonies already formed into
political society; ^12 but that the name and nation received their
existence from the gradual union of some wandering savages of the
Hercynian woods. To assert those savages to have been the
spontaneous production of the earth which they inhabited would be
a rash inference, condemned by religion, and unwarranted by
reason. [Footnote 12: Facit. Germ. c. 3. The emigration of the
Gauls followed the course of the Danube, and discharged itself on
Greece and Asia. Tacitus could discover only one inconsiderable
tribe that retained any traces of a Gallic origin.

Note: The Gothini, who must not be confounded with the Gothi,
Suevian tribe. In the time of Caesar many other tribes of Gaulish
origin dwelt along the course of the Danube, who could not long
resist the attacks of the Suevi. The Helvetians, who dwelt on the
borders of the Black Forest, between the Maine and the Danube, had
been expelled long before the time of Caesar. He mentions also
the Volci Tectosagi, who came from Languedoc and settled round the
Black Forest. The Boii, who had penetrated into that forest, and
also have left traces of their name in Bohemia, were subdued in
the first century by the Marcomanni. The Boii settled in Noricum,
were mingled afterwards with the Lombards, and received the name
of Boio Arii (Bavaria) or Boiovarii: var, in some German dialects,
appearing to mean remains, descendants. Compare Malte B-m,
Geography, vol. i. p. 410, edit 1832 - M.

Such rational doubt is but ill suited with the genius of popular
vanity. Among the nations who have adopted the Mosaic history of
the world, the ark of Noah has been of the same use, as was
formerly to the Greeks and Romans the siege of Troy. On a narrow
basis of acknowledged truth, an immense but rude superstructure of
fable has been erected; and the wild Irishman, ^13 as well as the
wild Tartar, ^14 could point out the individual son of Japhet,
from whose loins his ancestors were lineally descended. The last
century abounded with antiquarians of profound learning and easy
faith, who, by the dim light of legends and traditions, of
conjectures and etymologies, conducted the great grandchildren of
Noah from the Tower of Babel to the extremities of the globe. Of
these judicious critics, one of the most entertaining was Oaus
Rudbeck, professor in the university of Upsal. ^15 Whatever is
celebrated either in history or fable, this zealous patriot
ascribes to his country. From Sweden (which formed so
considerable a part of ancient Germany) the Greeks themselves
derived their alphabetical characters, their astronomy, and their
religion. Of that delightful region (for such it appeared to the
eyes of a native) the Atlantis of Plato, the country of the
Hyperboreans, the gardens of the Hesperides, the Fortunate
Islands, and even the Elysian Fields, were all but faint and
imperfect transcripts. A clime so profusely favored by Nature
could not long remain desert after the flood. The learned Rudbeck
allows the family of Noah a few years to multiply from eight to
about twenty thousand persons. He then disperses them into small
colonies to replenish the earth, and to propagate the human
species. The German or Swedish detachment (which marched, if I am
not mistaken, under the command of Askenaz, the son of Gomer, the
son of Japhet) distinguished itself by a more than common
diligence in the prosecution of this great work. The northern
hive cast its swarms over the greatest part of Europe, Africa, and
Asia; and (to use the author's metaphor) the blood circulated from
the extremities to the heart.

[Footnote 13: According to Dr. Keating, (History of Ireland, p.
13, 14,) the giant Portholanus, who was the son of Seara, the son

of Esra, the son of Sru, the son of Framant, the son of Fathaclan,
the son of Magog, the son of Japhet, the son of Noah, landed on
the coast of Munster the 14th day of May, in the year of the world
one thousand nine hundred and seventy-eight. Though he succeeded
in his great enterprise, the loose behavior of his wife rendered
his domestic life very unhappy, and provoked him to such a degree,
that he killed - her favorite greyhound. This, as the learned
historian very properly observes, was the first instance of female
falsehood and infidelity ever known in Ireland.

[Footnote 14: Genealogical History of the Tartars, by Abulghazi
Bahadur Khan.

[Footnote 15: His work, entitled Atlantica, is uncommonly scarce.
Bayle has given two most curious extracts from it. Republique des
Lettres Janvier et Fevrier, 1685.

But all this well-labored system of German antiquities is
annihilated by a single fact, too well attested to admit of any
doubt, and of too decisive a nature to leave room for any reply.
The Germans, in the age of Tacitus, were unacquainted with the use
of letters; ^16 and the use of letters is the principal
circumstance that distinguishes a civilized people from a herd of
savages incapable of knowledge or reflection. Without that
artificial help, the human memory soon dissipates or corrupts the
ideas intrusted to her charge; and the nobler faculties of the
mind, no longer supplied with models or with materials, gradually
forget their powers; the judgment becomes feeble and lethargic,
the imagination languid or irregular. Fully to apprehend this
important truth, let us attempt, in an improved society, to
calculate the immense distance between the man of learning and the
illiterate peasant. The former, by reading and reflection,
multiplies his own experience, and lives in distant ages and
remote countries; whilst the latter, rooted to a single spot, and
confined to a few years of existence, surpasses but very little
his fellow-laborer, the ox, in the exercise of his mental
faculties. The same, and even a greater, difference will be found
between nations than between individuals; and we may safely
pronounce, that without some species of writing, no people has
ever preserved the faithful annals of their history, ever made any
considerable progress in the abstract sciences, or ever possessed,
in any tolerable degree of perfection, the useful and agreeable
arts of life.

[Footnote 16: Tacit. Germ. ii. 19. Literarum secreta viri pariter
ac foeminae ignorant. We may rest contented with this decisive
authority, without entering into the obscure disputes concerning
the antiquity of the Runic characters. The learned Celsius,
Swede, a scholar, and a philosopher, was of opinion, that they
were nothing more than the Roman letters, with the curves changed
into straight lines for the ease of engraving. See Pelloutier,
Histoire des Celtes, l. ii. c. 11. Dictionnaire Diplomatique,

tom. i. p. 223. We may add, that the oldest Runic inscriptions
are supposed to be of the third century, and the most ancient
writer who mentions the Runic characters is Venan tius Frotunatus,
(Carm. vii. 18,) who lived towards the end of the sixth century.

Barbara fraxineis pingatur Runa tabellis.

Note: The obscure subject of the Runic characters has exercised
the industry and ingenuity of the modern scholars of the north.
There are three distinct theories; one, maintained by Schlozer,
(Nordische Geschichte, p. 481, &c.,) who considers their sixteen
letters to be a corruption of the Roman alphabet, post-Christian
in their date, and Schlozer would attribute their introduction
into the north to the Alemanni. The second, that of Frederick
Schlegel, (Vorlesungen uber alte und neue Literatur,) supposes
that these characters were left on the coasts of the Mediterranean
and Northern Seas by the Phoenicians, preserved by the priestly
castes, and employed for purposes of magic. Their common origin
from the Phoenician would account for heir similarity to the Roman
letters. The last, to which we incline, claims much higher and
more venerable antiquity for the Runic, and supposes them to have
been the original characters of the Indo-Teutonic tribes, brought
from the East, and preserved among the different races of that
stock. See Ueber Deutsche Runen von W. C. Grimm, 1821. A Memoir
by Dr. Legis. Fundgruben des alten Nordens. Foreign Quarterly
Review vol. ix. p. 438. - M.] Of these arts, the ancient Germans
were wretchedly destitute. They passed their lives in a state of
ignorance and poverty, which it has pleased some declaimers to
dignify with the appellation of virtuous simplicity. Modern
Germany is said to contain about two thousand three hundred walled
towns. ^17 In a much wider extent of country, the geographer
Ptolemy could discover no more than ninety places which he
decorates with the name of cities; ^18 though, according to our
ideas, they would but ill deserve that splendid title. We can
only suppose them to have been rude fortifications, constructed in
the centre of the woods, and designed to secure the women,
children, and cattle, whilst the warriors of the tribe marched out
to repel a sudden invasion. ^19 But Tacitus asserts, as a well-
known fact, that the Germans, in his time, had no cities; ^20 and
that they affected to despise the works of Roman industry, as
places of confinement rather than of security. ^21 Their edifices
were not even contiguous, or formed into regular villas; ^22 each
barbarian fixed his independent dwelling on the spot to which
plain, a wood, or a stream of fresh water, had induced him to give
the preference. Neither stone, nor brick, nor tiles, were
employed in these slight habitations. ^23 They were indeed no more
than low huts, of a circular figure, built of rough timber,
thatched with straw, and pierced at the top to leave a free
passage for the smoke. In the most inclement winter, the hardy
German was satisfied with a scanty garment made of the skin of
some animal. The nations who dwelt towards the North clothed
themselves in furs; and the women manufactured for their own use

coarse kind of linen. ^24 The game of various sorts, with which
the forests of Germany were plentifully stocked, supplied its
inhabitants with food and exercise. ^25 Their monstrous herds of
cattle, less remarkable indeed for their beauty than for their
utility, ^26 formed the principal object of their wealth. A small
quantity of corn was the only produce exacted from the earth; the
use of orchards or artificial meadows was unknown to the Germans;
nor can we expect any improvements in agriculture from a people,
whose prosperity every year experienced a general change by a new
division of the arable lands, and who, in that strange operation,
avoided disputes, by suffering a great part of their territory to
lie waste and without tillage. ^27

[Footnote *: Luden (the author of the Geschichte des Teutschen
Volkes) has surpassed most writers in his patriotic enthusiasm for
the virtues and noble manners of his ancestors. Even the cold of
the climate, and the want of vines and fruit trees, as well as the
barbarism of the inhabitants, are calumnies of the luxurious
Italians. M. Guizot, on the other side, (in his Histoire de la
Civilisation, vol. i. p. 272, &c.,) has drawn a curious parallel
between the Germans of Tacitus and the North American Indians.
M.] [Footnote 17: Recherches Philosophiques sur les Americains,
tom. iii. p. 228. The author of that very curious work is, if I am
not misinformed, a German by birth. (De Pauw.)

[Footnote 18: The Alexandrian Geographer is often criticized by
the accurate Cluverius.

[Footnote 19: See Caesar, and the learned Mr. Whitaker in his
History of Manchester, vol. i.

[Footnote 20: Tacit. Germ. 15.

[Footnote 21: When the Germans commanded the Ubii of Cologne to
cast off the Roman yoke, and with their new freedom to resume
their ancient manners, they insisted on the immediate demolition
of the walls of the colony. "Postulamus a vobis, muros coloniae,
munimenta servitii, detrahatis; etiam fera animalia, si clausa
teneas, virtutis obliviscuntur." Tacit. Hist. iv. 64.] [Footnote

22: The straggling villages of Silesia are several miles in
length. See Cluver. l. i. c. 13.
[Footnote 23: One hundred and forty years after Tacitus, a few
more regular structures were erected near the Rhine and Danube.
Herodian, l. vii. p. 234.

[Footnote 24: Tacit. Germ. 17.

[Footnote 25: Tacit. Germ. 5.

[Footnote 26: Caesar de Bell. Gall. vi. 21.

[Footnote 27: Tacit. Germ. 26. Caesar, vi. 22.

Gold, silver, and iron, were extremely scarce in Germany. Its
barbarous inhabitants wanted both skill and patience to
investigate those rich veins of silver, which have so liberally
rewarded the attention of the princes of Brunswick and Saxony.
Sweden, which now supplies Europe with iron, was equally ignorant
of its own riches; and the appearance of the arms of the Germans
furnished a sufficient proof how little iron they were able to
bestow on what they must have deemed the noblest use of that
metal. The various transactions of peace and war had introduced
some Roman coins (chiefly silver) among the borderers of the Rhine
and Danube; but the more distant tribes were absolutely
unacquainted with the use of money, carried on their confined
traffic by the exchange of commodities, and prized their rude
earthen vessels as of equal value with the silver vases, the
presents of Rome to their princes and ambassadors. ^28 To a mind
capable of reflection, such leading facts convey more instruction,
than a tedious detail of subordinate circumstances. The value of
money has been settled by general consent to express our wants and
our property, as letters were invented to express our ideas; and
both these institutions, by giving a more active energy to the
powers and passions of human nature, have contributed to multiply
the objects they were designed to represent. The use of gold and
silver is in a great measure factitious; but it would be
impossible to enumerate the important and various services which
agriculture, and all the arts, have received from iron, when
tempered and fashioned by the operation of fire, and the dexterous
hand of man. Money, in a word, is the most universal incitement,
iron the most powerful instrument, of human industry; and it is
very difficult to conceive by what means a people, neither
actuated by the one, nor seconded by the other, could emerge from
the grossest barbarism. ^29

[Footnote 28: Tacit. Germ. 6.

[Footnote 29: It is said that the Mexicans and Peruvians, without
the use of either money or iron, had made a very great progress in
the arts. Those arts, and the monuments they produced, have been
strangely magnified. See Recherches sur les Americains, tom. ii.

p. 153, &c]
If we contemplate a savage nation in any part of the globe,
supine indolence and a carelessness of futurity will be found to
constitute their general character. In a civilized state, every
faculty of man is expanded and exercised; and the great chain of
mutual dependence connects and embraces the several members of
society. The most numerous portion of it is employed in constant
and useful labor. The select few, placed by fortune above that
necessity, can, however, fill up their time by the pursuits of
interest or glory, by the improvement of their estate or of their
understanding, by the duties, the pleasures, and even the follies

of social life. The Germans were not possessed of these varied
resources. The care of the house and family, the management of
the land and cattle, were delegated to the old and the infirm, to
women and slaves. The lazy warrior, destitute of every art that
might employ his leisure hours, consumed his days and nights in
the animal gratifications of sleep and food. And yet, by
wonderful diversity of nature, (according to the remark of
writer who had pierced into its darkest recesses,) the same
barbarians are by turns the most indolent and the most restless of
mankind. They delight in sloth, they detest tranquility. ^30 The
languid soul, oppressed with its own weight, anxiously required
some new and powerful sensation; and war and danger were the only
amusements adequate to its fierce temper. The sound that summoned
the German to arms was grateful to his ear. It roused him from
his uncomfortable lethargy, gave him an active pursuit, and, by
strong exercise of the body, and violent emotions of the mind,
restored him to a more lively sense of his existence. In the dull
intervals of peace, these barbarians were immoderately addicted to
deep gaming and excessive drinking; both of which, by different
means, the one by inflaming their passions, the other by
extinguishing their reason, alike relieved them from the pain of
thinking. They gloried in passing whole days and nights at table;
and the blood of friends and relations often stained their
numerous and drunken assemblies. ^31 Their debts of honor (for in
that light they have transmitted to us those of play) they
discharged with the most romantic fidelity. The desperate
gamester, who had staked his person and liberty on a last throw of
the dice, patiently submitted to the decision of fortune, and
suffered himself to be bound, chastised, and sold into remote
slavery, by his weaker but more lucky antagonist. ^32

[Footnote 30: Tacit. Germ. 15.

[Footnote 31: Tacit. Germ. 22, 23.

[Footnote 32: Id. 24. The Germans might borrow the arts of play
from the Romans, but the passion is wonderfully inherent in the
human species.] Strong beer, a liquor extracted with very
little art from wheat or barley, and corrupted (as it is strongly
expressed by Tacitus) into a certain semblance of wine, was
sufficient for the gross purposes of German debauchery. But those
who had tasted the rich wines of Italy, and afterwards of Gaul,
sighed for that more delicious species of intoxication. They
attempted not, however, (as has since been executed with so much
success,) to naturalize the vine on the banks of the Rhine and
Danube; nor did they endeavor to procure by industry the materials
of an advantageous commerce. To solicit by labor what might be
ravished by arms, was esteemed unworthy of the German spirit. ^33
The intemperate thirst of strong liquors often urged the
barbarians to invade the provinces on which art or nature had
bestowed those much envied presents. The Tuscan who betrayed his
country to the Celtic nations, attracted them into Italy by the

prospect of the rich fruits and delicious wines, the productions
of a happier climate. ^34 And in the same manner the German
auxiliaries, invited into France during the civil wars of the
sixteenth century, were allured by the promise of plenteous
quarters in the provinces of Champaigne and Burgundy. ^35
Drunkenness, the most illiberal, but not the most dangerous of our
vices, was sometimes capable, in a less civilized state of
mankind, of occasioning a battle, a war, or a revolution.

[Footnote 33: Tacit. Germ. 14.

[Footnote 34: Plutarch. in Camillo. T. Liv. v. 33.

[Footnote 35: Dubos. Hist. de la Monarchie Francoise, tom. i. p.
193.] The climate of ancient Germany has been modified, and the
soil fertilized, by the labor of ten centuries from the time of
Charlemagne. The same extent of ground which at present
maintains, in ease and plenty, a million of husbandmen and
artificers, was unable to supply a hundred thousand lazy warriors
with the simple necessaries of life. ^36 The Germans abandoned
their immense forests to the exercise of hunting, employed in
pasturage the most considerable part of their lands, bestowed on
the small remainder a rude and careless cultivation, and then
accused the scantiness and sterility of a country that refused to
maintain the multitude of its inhabitants. When the return of
famine severely admonished them of the importance of the arts, the
national distress was sometimes alleviated by the emigration of
third, perhaps, or a fourth part of their youth. ^37 The
possession and the enjoyment of property are the pledges which
bind a civilized people to an improved country. But the Germans,
who carried with them what they most valued, their arms, their
cattle, and their women, cheerfully abandoned the vast silence of
their woods for the unbounded hopes of plunder and conquest. The
innumerable swarms that issued, or seemed to issue, from the great
storehouse of nations, were multiplied by the fears of the
vanquished, and by the credulity of succeeding ages. And from
facts thus exaggerated, an opinion was gradually established, and
has been supported by writers of distinguished reputation, that,
in the age of Caesar and Tacitus, the inhabitants of the North
were far more numerous than they are in our days. ^38 A more
serious inquiry into the causes of population seems to have
convinced modern philosophers of the falsehood, and indeed the
impossibility, of the supposition. To the names of Mariana and of
Machiavel, ^39 we can oppose the equal names of Robertson and
Hume. ^40

[Footnote 36: The Helvetian nation, which issued from a country
called Switzerland, contained, of every age and sex, 368,000
persons, (Caesar de Bell. Gal. i. 29.) At present, the number of
people in the Pays de Vaud (a small district on the banks of the
Leman Lake, much more distinguished for politeness than for

industry) amounts to 112,591. See an excellent tract of M. Muret,
in the Memoires de la Societe de Born.

[Footnote 37: Paul Diaconus, c. 1, 2, 3. Machiavel, Davila, and
the rest of Paul's followers, represent these emigrations too much
as regular and concerted measures.

[Footnote 38: Sir William Temple and Montesquieu have indulged, on
this subject, the usual liveliness of their fancy.

[Footnote 39: Machiavel, Hist. di Firenze, l. i. Mariana, Hist.
Hispan. l. v. c. 1]

[Footnote 40: Robertson's Charles V. Hume's Political Essays.
Note: It is a wise observation of Malthus, that these nations
"were not populous in proportion to the land they occupied, but to
the food they produced. They were prolific from their pure morals
and constitutions, but their institutions were not calculated to
produce food for those whom they brought into being. - M - 1845.

A warlike nation like the Germans, without either cities, letters,
arts, or money, found some compensation for this savage state in
the enjoyment of liberty. Their poverty secured their freedom,
since our desires and our possessions are the strongest fetters of
despotism. "Among the Suiones (says Tacitus) riches are held in
honor. They are therefore subject to an absolute monarch, who,
instead of intrusting his people with the free use of arms, as is
practised in the rest of Germany, commits them to the safe
custody, not of a citizen, or even of a freedman, but of a slave.
The neighbors of the Suiones, the Sitones, are sunk even below
servitude; they obey a woman." ^41 In the mention of these
exceptions, the great historian sufficiently acknowledges the
general theory of government. We are only at a loss to conceive
by what means riches and despotism could penetrate into a remote
corner of the North, and extinguish the generous flame that blazed
with such fierceness on the frontier of the Roman provinces, or
how the ancestors of those Danes and Norwegians, so distinguished
in latter ages by their unconquered spirit, could thus tamely
resign the great character of German liberty. ^42 Some tribes,
however, on the coast of the Baltic, acknowledged the authority of
kings, though without relinquishing the rights of men, ^43 but in
the far greater part of Germany, the form of government was
democracy, tempered, indeed, and controlled, not so much by
general and positive laws, as by the occasional ascendant of birth
or valor, of eloquence or superstition. ^44

[Footnote 41: Tacit. German. 44, 45. Freinshemius (who dedicated
his supplement to Livy to Christina of Sweden) thinks proper to be
very angry with the Roman who expressed so very little reverence
for Northern queens. Note: The Suiones and the Sitones are the
ancient inhabitants of Scandinavia, their name may be traced in
that of Sweden; they did not belong to the race of the Suevi, but

that of the non-Suevi or Cimbri, whom the Suevi, in very remote
times, drove back part to the west, part to the north; they were
afterwards mingled with Suevian tribes, among others the Goths,
who have traces of their name and power in the isle of Gothland.
G] [Footnote 42: May we not suspect that superstition was the
parent of despotism? The descendants of Odin, (whose race was not
extinct till the year 1060) are said to have reigned in Sweden
above a thousand years. The temple of Upsal was the ancient seat
of religion and empire. In the year 1153 I find a singular law,
prohibiting the use and profession of arms to any except the
king's guards. Is it not probable that it was colored by the
pretence of reviving an old institution? See Dalin's History of
Sweden in the Bibliotheque Raisonneo tom. xl. and xlv.

[Footnote 43: Tacit. Germ. c. 43.

[Footnote 44: Id. c. 11, 12, 13, & c.

Civil governments, in their first institution, are voluntary
associations for mutual defence. To obtain the desired end, it is
absolutely necessary that each individual should conceive himself
obliged to submit his private opinions and actions to the judgment
of the greater number of his associates. The German tribes were
contented with this rude but liberal outline of political society.
As soon as a youth, born of free parents, had attained the age of
manhood, he was introduced into the general council of his
countrymen, solemnly invested with a shield and spear, and adopted
as an equal and worthy member of the military commonwealth. The
assembly of the warriors of the tribe was convened at stated
seasons, or on sudden emergencies. The trial of public offences,
the election of magistrates, and the great business of peace and
war, were determined by its independent voice. Sometimes indeed,
these important questions were previously considered and prepared
in a more select council of the principal chieftains. ^45 The
magistrates might deliberate and persuade, the people only could
resolve and execute; and the resolutions of the Germans were for
the most part hasty and violent. Barbarians accustomed to place
their freedom in gratifying the present passion, and their courage
in overlooking all future consequences, turned away with indignant
contempt from the remonstrances of justice and policy, and it was
the practice to signify by a hollow murmur their dislike of such
timid counsels. But whenever a more popular orator proposed to
vindicate the meanest citizen from either foreign or domestic
injury, whenever he called upon his fellow-countrymen to assert
the national honor, or to pursue some enterprise full of danger
and glory, a loud clashing of shields and spears expressed the
eager applause of the assembly. For the Germans always met in
arms, and it was constantly to be dreaded, lest an irregular
multitude, inflamed with faction and strong liquors, should use
those arms to enforce, as well as to declare, their furious
resolves. We may recollect how often the diets of Poland have

been polluted with blood, and the more numerous party has been
compelled to yield to the more violent and seditious. ^46

[Footnote 45: Grotius changes an expression of Tacitus,
pertractantur into Proetractantur. The correction is equally just
and ingenious.] [Footnote 46: Even in our ancient parliament, the
barons often carried a question, not so much by the number of
votes, as by that of their armed followers.

A general of the tribe was elected on occasions of danger; and, if
the danger was pressing and extensive, several tribes concurred in
the choice of the same general. The bravest warrior was named to
lead his countrymen into the field, by his example rather than by
his commands. But this power, however limited, was still
invidious. It expired with the war, and in time of peace the
German tribes acknowledged not any supreme chief. ^47 Princes
were, however, appointed, in the general assembly, to administer
justice, or rather to compose differences, ^48 in their respective
districts. In the choice of these magistrates, as much regard was
shown to birth as to merit. ^49 To each was assigned, by the
public, a guard, and a council of a hundred persons, and the first
of the princes appears to have enjoyed a preeminence of rank and
honor which sometimes tempted the Romans to compliment him with
the regal title. ^50

[Footnote 47: Caesar de Bell. Gal. vi. 23.

[Footnote 48: Minuunt controversias, is a very happy expression of
Caesar's.] [Footnote 49: Reges ex nobilitate, duces ex virtute
sumunt. Tacit Germ. 7] [Footnote 50: Cluver. Germ. Ant. l. i. c.

The comparative view of the powers of the magistrates, in two
remarkable instances, is alone sufficient to represent the whole
system of German manners. The disposal of the landed property
within their district was absolutely vested in their hands, and
they distributed it every year according to a new division. ^51 At
the same time they were not authorized to punish with death, to
imprison, or even to strike a private citizen. ^52 A people thus
jealous of their persons, and careless of their possessions, must
have been totally destitute of industry and the arts, but animated
with a high sense of honor and independence.

[Footnote 51: Caesar, vi. 22. Tacit Germ. 26.

[Footnote 52: Tacit. Germ. 7.

Chapter IX: State Of Germany Until The Barbarians.

Part III.

The Germans respected only those duties which they imposed on
themselves. The most obscure soldier resisted with disdain the
authority of the magistrates. "The noblest youths blushed not to
be numbered among the faithful companions of some renowned chief,
to whom they devoted their arms and service. A noble emulation
prevailed among the companions, to obtain the first place in the
esteem of their chief; amongst the chiefs, to acquire the greatest
number of valiant companions. To be ever surrounded by a band of
select youths was the pride and strength of the chiefs, their
ornament in peace, their defence in war. The glory of such
distinguished heroes diffused itself beyond the narrow limits of
their own tribe. Presents and embassies solicited their
friendship, and the fame of their arms often insured victory to
the party which they espoused. In the hour of danger it was
shameful for the chief to be surpassed in valor by his companions;
shameful for the companions not to equal the valor of their chief.
To survive his fall in battle, was indelible infamy. To protect
his person, and to adorn his glory with the trophies of their own
exploits, were the most sacred of their duties. The chiefs
combated for victory, the companions for the chief. The noblest
warriors, whenever their native country was sunk into the laziness
of peace, maintained their numerous bands in some distant scene of
action, to exercise their restless spirit, and to acquire renown
by voluntary dangers. Gifts worthy of soldiers - the warlike
steed, the bloody and even victorious lance - were the rewards
which the companions claimed from the liberality of their chief.
The rude plenty of his hospitable board was the only pay that he
could bestow, or they would accept. War, rapine, and the free-
will offerings of his friends, supplied the materials of this
munificence. ^53 This institution, however it might accidentally
weaken the several republics, invigorated the general character of
the Germans, and even ripened amongst them all the virtues of
which barbarians are susceptible; the faith and valor, the
hospitality and the courtesy, so conspicuous long afterwards in
the ages of chivalry. The honorable gifts, bestowed by the chief
on his brave companions, have been supposed, by an ingenious
writer, to contain the first rudiments of the fiefs, distributed
after the conquest of the Roman provinces, by the barbarian lords
among their vassals, with a similar duty of homage and military
service. ^54 These conditions are, however, very repugnant to the
maxims of the ancient Germans, who delighted in mutual presents;
but without either imposing, or accepting, the weight of
obligations. ^55

[Footnote 53: Tacit. Germ. 13, 14.

[Footnote 54: Esprit des Loix, l. xxx. c. 3. The brilliant
imagination of Montesquieu is corrected, however, by the dry, cold
reason of the Abbe de Mably. Observations sur l'Histoire de
France, tom. i. p. 356.] [Footnote 55: Gaudent muneribus, sed nec
data imputant, nec acceptis obligautur. Tacit. Germ. c. 21.

"In the days of chivalry, or more properly of romance, all the men
were brave, and all the women were chaste;" and notwithstanding
the latter of these virtues is acquired and preserved with much
more difficulty than the former, it is ascribed, almost without
exception, to the wives of the ancient Germans. Polygamy was not
in use, except among the princes, and among them only for the sake
of multiplying their alliances. Divorces were prohibited by
manners rather than by laws. Adulteries were punished as rare and
inexpiable crimes; nor was seduction justified by example and
fashion. ^56 We may easily discover that Tacitus indulges an
honest pleasure in the contrast of barbarian virtue with the
dissolute conduct of the Roman ladies; yet there are some striking
circumstances that give an air of truth, or at least probability,
to the conjugal faith and chastity of the Germans. [Footnote 56:
The adulteress was whipped through the village. Neither wealth nor
beauty could inspire compassion, or procure her a second husband.
18, 19.

Although the progress of civilization has undoubtedly contributed
to assuage the fiercer passions of human nature, it seems to have
been less favorable to the virtue of chastity, whose most
dangerous enemy is the softness of the mind. The refinements of
life corrupt while they polish the intercourse of the sexes. The
gross appetite of love becomes most dangerous when it is elevated,
or rather, indeed, disguised by sentimental passion. The elegance
of dress, of motion, and of manners, gives a lustre to beauty, and
inflames the senses through the imagination. Luxurious
entertainments, midnight dances, and licentious spectacles,
present at once temptation and opportunity to female frailty. ^57
From such dangers the unpolished wives of the barbarians were
secured by poverty, solitude, and the painful cares of a domestic
life. The German huts, open, on every side, to the eye of
indiscretion or jealousy, were a better safeguard of conjugal
fidelity, than the walls, the bolts, and the eunuchs of a Persian
haram. To this reason another may be added, of a more honorable
nature. The Germans treated their women with esteem and
confidence, consulted them on every occasion of importance, and
fondly believed, that in their breasts resided a sanctity and
wisdom more than human. Some of the interpreters of fate, such as
Velleda, in the Batavian war, governed, in the name of the deity,
the fiercest nations of Germany. ^58 The rest of the sex, without
being adored as goddesses, were respected as the free and equal
companions of soldiers; associated even by the marriage ceremony
to a life of toil, of danger, and of glory. ^59 In their great
invasions, the camps of the barbarians were filled with
multitude of women, who remained firm and undaunted amidst the
sound of arms, the various forms of destruction, and the honorable
wounds of their sons and husbands. ^60 Fainting armies of Germans
have, more than once, been driven back upon the enemy, by the
generous despair of the women, who dreaded death much less than
servitude. If the day was irrecoverably lost, they well knew how
to deliver themselves and their children, with their own hands,

from an insulting victor. ^61 Heroines of such a cast may claim
our admiration; but they were most assuredly neither lovely, nor
very susceptible of love. Whilst they affected to emulate the
stern virtues of man, they must have resigned that attractive
softness, in which principally consist the charm and weakness of
woman. Conscious pride taught the German females to suppress
every tender emotion that stood in competition with honor, and the
first honor of the sex has ever been that of chastity. The
sentiments and conduct of these high-spirited matrons may, at
once, be considered as a cause, as an effect, and as a proof of
the general character of the nation. Female courage, however it
may be raised by fanaticism, or confirmed by habit, can be only
faint and imperfect imitation of the manly valor that
distinguishes the age or country in which it may be found.

[Footnote 57: Ovid employs two hundred lines in the research of
places the most favorable to love. Above all, he considers the
theatre as the best adapted to collect the beauties of Rome, and
to melt them into tenderness and sensuality,

[Footnote 58: Tacit. Germ. iv. 61, 65.

[Footnote 59: The marriage present was a yoke of oxen, horses, and
arms. See Germ. c. 18. Tacitus is somewhat too florid on the
subject.] [Footnote 60: The change of exigere into exugere is
most excellent correction.

[Footnote 61: Tacit. Germ. c. 7. Plutarch in Mario. Before the
wives of the Teutones destroyed themselves and their children,
they had offered to surrender, on condition that they should be
received as the slaves of the vestal virgins.] The religious
system of the Germans (if the wild opinions of savages can deserve
that name) was dictated by their wants, their fears, and their
ignorance. ^62 They adored the great visible objects and agents of
nature, the Sun and the Moon, the Fire and the Earth; together
with those imaginary deities, who were supposed to preside over
the most important occupations of human life. They were
persuaded, that, by some ridiculous arts of divination, they could
discover the will of the superior beings, and that human
sacrifices were the most precious and acceptable offering to their
altars. Some applause has been hastily bestowed on the sublime
notion, entertained by that people, of the Deity, whom they
neither confined within the walls of the temple, nor represented
by any human figure; but when we recollect, that the Germans were
unskilled in architecture, and totally unacquainted with the art
of sculpture, we shall readily assign the true reason of
scruple, which arose not so much from a superiority of reason, as
from a want of ingenuity. The only temples in Germany were dark
and ancient groves, consecrated by the reverence of succeeding
generations. Their secret gloom, the imagined residence of an
invisible power, by presenting no distinct object of fear or
worship, impressed the mind with a still deeper sense of religious

horror; ^63 and the priests, rude and illiterate as they were, had
been taught by experience the use of every artifice that could
preserve and fortify impressions so well suited to their own
interest. [Footnote 62: Tacitus has employed a few lines, and
Cluverius one hundred and twenty-four pages, on this obscure
subject. The former discovers in Germany the gods of Greece and
Rome. The latter is positive, that, under the emblems of the sun,
the moon, and the fire, his pious ancestors worshipped the Trinity
in unity]

[Footnote 63: The sacred wood, described with such sublime horror
by Lucan, was in the neighborhood of Marseilles; but there were
many of the same kind in Germany.

Note: The ancient Germans had shapeless idols, and, when they
began to build more settled habitations, they raised also temples,
such as that to the goddess Teufana, who presided over divination.
See Adelung, Hist. of Ane Germans, p 296 - G]

The same ignorance, which renders barbarians incapable of
conceiving or embracing the useful restraints of laws, exposes
them naked and unarmed to the blind terrors of superstition. The
German priests, improving this favorable temper of their
countrymen, had assumed a jurisdiction even in temporal concerns,
which the magistrate could not venture to exercise; and the
haughty warrior patiently submitted to the lash of correction,
when it was inflicted, not by any human power, but by the
immediate order of the god of war. ^64 The defects of civil policy
were sometimes supplied by the interposition of ecclesiastical
authority. The latter was constantly exerted to maintain silence
and decency in the popular assemblies; and was sometimes extended
to a more enlarged concern for the national welfare. A solemn
procession was occasionally celebrated in the present countries of
Mecklenburgh and Pomerania. The unknown symbol of the Earth,
covered with a thick veil, was placed on a carriage drawn by cows;
and in this manner the goddess, whose common residence was in the
Isles of Rugen, visited several adjacent tribes of her
worshippers. During her progress the sound of war was hushed,
quarrels were suspended, arms laid aside, and the restless Germans
had an opportunity of tasting the blessings of peace and harmony.
^65 The truce of God, so often and so ineffectually proclaimed by
the clergy of the eleventh century, was an obvious imitation of
this ancient custom. ^66 [Footnote 64: Tacit. Germania, c. 7.

[Footnote 65: Tacit. Germania, c. 40.

[Footnote 66: See Dr. Robertson's History of Charles V. vol. i.
note 10.] But the influence of religion was far more powerful to
inflame, than to moderate, the fierce passions of the Germans.
Interest and fanaticism often prompted its ministers to sanctify
the most daring and the most unjust enterprises, by the
approbation of Heaven, and full assurances of success. The

consecrated standards, long revered in the groves of superstition,
were placed in the front of the battle; ^67 and the hostile army
was devoted with dire execrations to the gods of war and of
thunder. ^68 In the faith of soldiers (and such were the Germans)
cowardice is the most unpardonable of sins. A brave man was the
worthy favorite of their martial deities; the wretch who had lost
his shield was alike banished from the religious and civil
assemblies of his countrymen. Some tribes of the north seem to
have embraced the doctrine of transmigration, ^69 others imagined
a gross paradise of immortal drunkenness. ^70 All agreed, that
life spent in arms, and a glorious death in battle, were the best
preparations for a happy futurity, either in this or in another

[Footnote 67: Tacit. Germania, c. 7. These standards were only
the heads of wild beasts.

[Footnote 68: See an instance of this custom, Tacit. Annal. xiii.
57.] [Footnote 69: Caesar Diodorus, and Lucan, seem to ascribe
this doctrine to the Gauls, but M. Pelloutier (Histoire des
Celtes, l. iii. c. 18) labors to reduce their expressions to
more orthodox sense.

[Footnote 70: Concerning this gross but alluring doctrine of the
Edda, see Fable xx. in the curious version of that book, published
by M. Mallet, in his Introduction to the History of Denmark.

The immortality so vainly promised by the priests, was, in some
degree, conferred by the bards. That singular order of men has
most deservedly attracted the notice of all who have attempted to
investigate the antiquities of the Celts, the Scandinavians, and
the Germans. Their genius and character, as well as the reverence
paid to that important office, have been sufficiently illustrated.
But we cannot so easily express, or even conceive, the enthusiasm
of arms and glory which they kindled in the breast of their
audience. Among a polished people, a taste for poetry is rather
an amusement of the fancy, than a passion of the soul. And yet,
when in calm retirement we peruse the combats described by Homer
or Tasso, we are insensibly seduced by the fiction, and feel
momentary glow of martial ardor. But how faint, how cold is the
sensation which a peaceful mind can receive from solitary study!
It was in the hour of battle, or in the feast of victory, that the
bards celebrated the glory of the heroes of ancient days, the
ancestors of those warlike chieftains, who listened with transport
to their artless but animated strains. The view of arms and of
danger heightened the effect of the military song; and the
passions which it tended to excite, the desire of fame, and the
contempt of death, were the habitual sentiments of a German mind.
^71 ^

[Footnote 71: See Tacit. Germ. c. 3. Diod. Sicul. l. v. Strabo,

l. iv. p. 197. The classical reader may remember the rank of

Demodocus in the Phaeacian court, and the ardor infused by
Tyrtaeus into the fainting Spartans. Yet there is little
probability that the Greeks and the Germans were the same people.
Much learned trifling might be spared, if our antiquarians would
condescend to reflect, that similar manners will naturally be
produced by similar situations.

[Footnote *: Besides these battle songs, the Germans sang at their
festival banquets, (Tac. Ann. i. 65,) and around the bodies of
their slain heroes. King Theodoric, of the tribe of the Goths,
killed in a battle against Attila, was honored by songs while he
was borne from the field of battle. Jornandes, c. 41. The same
honor was paid to the remains of Attila. Ibid. c. 49. According
to some historians, the Germans had songs also at their weddings;
but this appears to me inconsistent with their customs, in which
marriage was no more than the purchase of a wife. Besides, there
is but one instance of this, that of the Gothic king, Ataulph, who
sang himself the nuptial hymn when he espoused Placidia, sister of
the emperors Arcadius and Honorius, (Olympiodor. p. 8.) But this
marriage was celebrated according to the Roman rites, of which the
nuptial songs formed a part. Adelung, p. 382. - G. Charlemagne is
said to have collected the national songs of the ancient Germans.
Eginhard, Vit. Car. Mag. - M.

(to be continued cataplún acomorll)
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