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Gibbon, Edward, 1737-1794. The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. (NY : Knopf, 1993), v. 2, pp. 529 - 551.
Revolt Of Procopius. - Civil And Ecclesiastical Administration. 355 - 384 A.D.
The tranquility of the East was soon disturbed by rebellion
; and the throne of Valens was threatened by the daring attempts of a rival whose affinity to the emperor Julian 34
was his sole merit, and had been his only crime. Procopius
had been hastily promoted from the obscure station of a tribune, and a notary, to the joint command of the army of Mesopotamia
; the public opinion
already named him as the successor of a prince who was destitute of natural heirs; and a vain rumor was propagated by his friends, or his enemies, that Julian
, before the altar of the Moon at Carrhae
, had privately invested Procopius
with the Imperial purple. 35
He endeavored, by his dutiful and submissive behavior, to disarm the jealousy of Jovian; resigned, without a contest, his military command; and retired, with his wife and family, to cultivate the ample patrimony which he possessed in the province of Cappadocia
. These useful and innocent occupations were interrupted by the appearance of an officer with a band of soldiers, who, in the name of his new sovereigns, Valentinian and Valens, was despatched to conduct the unfortunate Procopius
either to a perpetual prison or an ignominious death. His presence of mind procured him a longer respite, and a more splendid fate. Without presuming to dispute the royal mandate, he requested the indulgence of a few moments to embrace his weeping family; and while the vigilance of his guards was relaxed by a plentiful entertainment, he dexterously escaped to the sea-coast of the Euxine
, from whence he passed over to the country of Bosphorus
. In that sequestered region he remained many months, exposed to the hardships of exile, of solitude, and of want; his melancholy
temper brooding over his misfortunes, and his mind agitated by the just apprehension, that, if any accident should discover his name, the faithless Barbarians would violate, without much scruple, the laws of hospitality. In a moment of impatience and despair, Procopius
embarked in a merchant vessel, which made sail for Constantinople
; and boldly aspired to the rank of a sovereign, because he was not allowed to enjoy the security of a subject. At first he lurked in the villages of Bithynia
, continually changing his habitation and his disguise. 36
By degrees he ventured into the capital, trusted his life and fortune to the fidelity of two friends, a senator and a eunuch, and conceived some hopes of success, from the intelligence which he obtained of the actual state of public affairs. The body of the people was infected with a spirit of discontent: they regretted the justice and the abilities of Sallust
, who had been imprudently dismissed from the praefecture of the East. They despised the character of Valens, which was rude without vigor, and feeble without mildness. They dreaded the influence of his father-in- law, the patrician Petronius, a cruel and rapacious minister, who rigorously exacted all the arrears of tribute that might remain unpaid since the reign of the emperor Aurelian
. The circumstances were propitious to the designs of a usurper. The hostile measures of the Persian
s required the presence of Valens in Syria: from the Danube to the Euphrates
the troops were in motion; and the capital was occasionally filled with the soldiers who passed or repassed the Thracian Bosphorus. Two cohorts of Gaul
were persuaded to listen to the secret proposals of the conspirators; which were recommended by the promise of a liberal donative
; and, as they still revered the memory of Julian
, they easily consented to support the hereditary claim of his proscribed kinsman. At the dawn of day they were drawn up near the baths of Anastasia; and Procopius
, clothed in a purple garment, more suitable to a player than to a monarch, appeared, as if he rose from the dead, in the midst of Constantinople
. The soldiers, who were prepared for his reception, saluted their trembling prince with shouts of joy and vows of fidelity. Their numbers were soon increased by a band of sturdy peasants, collected from the adjacent country; and Procopius
, shielded by the arms of his adherents, was successively conducted to the tribunal, the senate, and the palace. During the first moments of his tumultuous reign, he was astonished and terrified by the gloomy silence of the people; who were either ignorant of the cause, or apprehensive of the event. But his military strength was superior to any actual resistance: the malcontents flocked to the standard of rebellion; the poor were excited by the hopes, and the rich were intimidated by the fear, of a general pillage; and the obstinate credulity of the multitude was once more deceived by the promised advantages of a revolution
. The magistrates were seized; the prisons and arsenals broke open; the gates, and the entrance of the harbor, were diligently occupied; and, in a few hours, Procopius
became the absolute, though precarious, master of the Imperial city. *
The usurper improved this unexpected success with some degree of courage and dexterity. He artfully propagated the rumors and opinions the most favorable to his interest; while he deluded the populace by giving audience to the frequent, but imaginary, ambassadors of distant nations. The large bodies of troops stationed in the cities of Thrace
and the fortresses of the Lower Danube, were gradually involved in the guilt of rebellion
: and the Gothic
princes consented to supply the sovereign of Constantinople
with the formidable strength of several thousand auxiliaries. His generals passed the Bosphorus, and subdued, without an effort, the unarmed, but wealthy provinces of Bithynia
and Asia. After an honorable defence, the city and island of Cyzicus
yielded to his power; the renowned legions of the Jovians and Herculeans embraced the cause of the usurper, whom they were ordered to crush; and, as the veterans were continually augmented with new levies, he soon appeared at the head of an army, whose valor, as well as numbers, were not unequal to the greatness of the contest. The son of Hormisdas, 37
a youth of spirit and ability, condescended to draw his sword against the lawful emperor of the East; and the Persian
prince was immediately invested with the ancient and extraordinary powers of a Roman Proconsul
. The alliance of Faustina
, the widow of the emperor Constantius
, who intrusted herself and her daughter to the hands of the usurper, added dignity and reputation to his cause. The princess Constantia
, who was then about five years of age, accompanied, in a litter, the march of the army. She was shown to the multitude in the arms of her adopted father; and, as often as she passed through the ranks, the tenderness of the soldiers was inflamed into martial fury: 38
they recollected the glories of the house of Constantine
, and they declared, with loyal acclamation, that they would shed the last drop of their blood in the defence of the royal infant. 39
Footnote 34: The uncertain degree of alliance, or consanguinity, is expressed by the words, cognatus, consobrinus, (see Valesius ad Ammian. xxiii. 3.) The mother of Procopius might be a sister of Basilina and Count Julian, the mother and uncle of the Apostate. Ducange, Fam. Byzantin. p. 49.
Footnote 35: Ammian. xxiii. 3, xxvi. 6. He mentions the report with much hesitation: susurravit obscurior fama; nemo enim dicti auctor exstitit verus. It serves, however, to remark, that Procopius was a Pagan. Yet his religion does not appear to have promoted, or obstructed, his pretensions.
Footnote 36: One of his retreats was a country-house of Eunomius, the heretic. The master was absent, innocent, ignorant; yet he narrowly escaped a sentence of death, and was banished into the remote parts of Mauritania, (Philostorg. l. ix. c. 5, 8, and Godefroy's Dissert. p. 369- 378.)
Footnote *: It may be suspected, from a fragment of Eunapius, that the heathen and philosophic party espoused the cause of Procopius. Heraclius, the Cynic, a man who had been honored by a philosophic controversy with Julian, striking the ground with his staff, incited him to courage with the line of Homer Eunapius. Mai, p. 207 or in Niebuhr's edition, p. 73. - M.
Footnote 37: Hormisdae maturo juveni Hormisdae regalis illius filio, potestatem Proconsulis detulit; et civilia, more veterum, et bella, recturo. Ammian. xxvi. 8. The Persian prince escaped with honor and safety, and was afterwards (A. D. 380) restored to the same extraordinary office of proconsul of Bithynia, (Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. v. p. 204) I am ignorant whether the race of Sassan was propagated. I find (A. D. 514) a pope Hormisdas; but he was a native of Frusino, in Italy, (Pagi Brev. Pontific. tom. i. p. 247)
Footnote 38: The infant rebel was afterwards the wife of the emperor Gratian but she died young, and childless. See Ducange, Fam. Byzantin. p. 48, 59.
Footnote 39: Sequimini culminis summi prosapiam, was the language of Procopius, who affected to despise the obscure birth, and fortuitous election of the upstart Pannonian. Ammian. xxvi. 7.
In the mean while Valentinian was alarmed and perplexed by the doubtful intelligence of the revolt of the East. *
The difficulties of a German was forced him to confine his immediate care to the safety of his own dominions; and, as every channel of communication was stopped or corrupted, he listened, with doubtful anxiety, to the rumors which were industriously spread, that the defeat and death of Valens had left Procopius
sole master of the Eastern provinces. Valens was not dead: but on the news of the rebellion
, which he received at Caesarea
, he basely despaired of his life and fortune; proposed to negotiate with the usurper, and discovered his secret inclination to abdicate the Imperial purple. The timid monarch was saved from disgrace and ruin by the firmness of his ministers, and their abilities soon decided in his favor the event of the civil war
. In a season of tranquility, Sallust
had resigned without a murmur; but as soon as the public safety was attacked, he ambitiously solicited the preeminence of toil and danger; and the restoration of that virtuous minister to the prefecture
of the East, was the first step which indicated the repentance of Valens, and satisfied the minds of the people. The reign of Procopius
was apparently supported by powerful armies and obedient provinces. But many of the principal officers, military as well as civil, had been urged, either by motives of duty or interest, to withdraw themselves from the guilty scene; or to watch the moment of betraying, and deserting, the cause of the usurper. Lupicinus
advanced by hasty marches, to bring the legions of Syria to the aid of Valens. Arintheus, who, in strength, beauty, and valor, excelled all the heroes of the age, attacked with a small troop a superior body of the rebels. When he beheld the faces of the soldiers who had served under his banner, he commanded them, with a loud voice, to seize and deliver up their pretended leader; and such was the ascendant of his genius, that this extraordinary order was instantly obeyed. 40
Arbetio, a respectable veteran of the great Constantine
, who had been distinguished by the honors of the consulship, was persuaded to leave his retirement, and once more to conduct an army into the field. In the heat of action, calmly taking off his helmet, he showed his gray hairs and venerable countenance: saluted the soldiers of Procopius
by the endearing names of children and companions, and exhorted them no longer to support the desperate cause of a contemptible tyrant; but to follow their old commander, who had so often led them to honor and victory. In the two engagements of Thyatira 41
and Nacolia, the unfortunate Procopius
was deserted by his troops, who were seduced by the instructions and example of their perfidious officers. After wandering some time among the woods and mountains of Phyrgia
, he was betrayed by his desponding followers, conducted to the Imperial camp, and immediately beheaded. He suffered the ordinary fate of an unsuccessful usurper; but the acts of cruelty which were exercised by the conqueror, under the forms of legal justice, excited the pity and indignation of mankind. 42
Footnote *: Symmachus describes his embarrassment. "The Germans are the common enemies of the state, Procopius the private foe of the Emperor; his first care must be victory, his second revenge." Symm. Orat. p. 11. - M.
Footnote 40: Et dedignatus hominem superare certamine despicabilem, auctoritatis et celsi fiducia corporis ipsis hostibus jussit, suum vincire rectorem: atque ita turmarum, antesignanus umbratilis comprensus suorum manibus. The strength and beauty of Arintheus, the new Hercules, are celebrated by St. Basil, who supposed that God had created him as an inimitable model of the human species. The painters and sculptors could not express his figure: the historians appeared fabulous when they related his exploits, (Ammian. xxvi. and Vales. ad loc.)
Footnote 41: The same field of battle is placed by Ammianus in Lycia, and by Zosimus at Thyatira, which are at the distance of 150 miles from each other. But Thyatira alluitur Lyco, (Plin. Hist. Natur. v. 31, Cellarius, Geograph. Antiq. tom. ii. p. 79;) and the transcribers might easily convert an obscure river into a well-known province.
Note: Ammianus and Zosimus place the last battle at Nacolia in Phrygia; Ammianus altogether omits the former battle near Thyatira. Procopius was on his march (iter tendebat) towards Lycia. See Wagner's note, in c. - M.
Footnote 42: The adventures, usurpation, and fall of Procopius, are related, in a regular series, by Ammianus, (xxvi. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,) and Zosimus, (l. iv. p. 203-210.) They often illustrate, and seldom contradict, each other. Themistius (Orat. vii. p. 91, 92) adds some base panegyric; and Euna pius (p. 83, 84) some malicious satire.
Footnote !: Symmachus joins with Themistius in praising the clemency of Valens dic victoriae moderatus est, quasi contra se nemo pugnavit. Symm. Orat. p. 12. - M.
Such indeed are the common and natural fruits of despotism
. But the inquisition into the crime of magic, !! which, under the reign of the two brothers, was so rigorously prosecuted both at Rome and Antioch, was interpreted as the fatal symptom, either of the displeasure of Heaven, or of the depravity of mankind. 43
Let us not hesitate to indulge a liberal pride, that, in the present age, the enlightened
part of Europe has abolished 44
a cruel and odious prejudice, which reigned in every climate of the globe, and adhered to every system of religious opinions. 45
The nations, and the sects, of the Roman world, admitted with equal credulity, and similar abhorrence, the reality of that infernal art, 46
which was able to control the eternal order of the planets, and the voluntary operations of the human mind. They dreaded the mysterious power of spell
s and incantation
s, of potent herbs, and execrable rites; which could extinguish or recall life, inflame the passions
of the soul, blast the works of creation, and extort from the reluctant daemons the secrets of futurity
. They believed, with the wildest inconsistency, that this preternatural dominion of the air, of earth, and of hell, was exercised, from the vilest motives of malice or gain, by some wrinkled hags and itinerant sorcerers, who passed their obscure lives in penury
The arts of magic were equally condemned by the public opinion, and by the laws of Rome; but as they tended to gratify the most imperious passions of the heart of man, they were continually proscribed, and continually practiced. 48 An imaginary cause is capable of producing the most serious and mischievous effects.
The dark predictions of the death of an emperor, or the success of a conspiracy, were calculated only to stimulate the hopes of ambition, and to dissolve the ties of fidelity
; and the intentional guilt of magic was aggravated by the actual crimes of treason and sacrilege. 49
Such vain terrors disturbed the peace of society, and the happiness of individuals; and the harmless flame which insensibly melted a waxen image, might derive a powerful and pernicious energy from the affrighted fancy of the person whom it was maliciously designed to represent. 50
From the infusion of those herbs, which were supposed to possess a supernatural influence, it was an easy step to the use of more substantial poison; and the folly of mankind sometimes became the instrument, and the mask, of the most atrocious crimes. As soon as the zeal of informers was encouraged by the ministers of Valens and Valentinian, they could not refuse to listen to another charge, too frequently mingled in the scenes of domestic guilt; a charge of a softer and less malignant nature, for which the pious, though excessive, rigor of Constantine
had recently decreed the punishment of death. 51 This deadly and incoherent mixture of treason and magic, of poison and adultery, afforded infinite gradations of guilt and innocence, of excuse and aggravation, which in these proceedings appear to have been confounded by the angry or corrupt passions of the judges.
They easily discovered that the degree of their industry and discernment was estimated, by the Imperial court, according to the number of executions that were furnished from the respective tribunals. It was not without extreme reluctance that they pronounced a sentence of acquittal; but they eagerly admitted such evidence as was stained with perjury, or procured by torture, to prove the most improbable charges against the most respectable characters. The progress of the inquiry continually opened new subjects of criminal prosecution; the audacious informer, whose falsehood was detected, retired with impunity; but the wretched victim, who discovered his real or pretended accomplices, were seldom permitted to receive the price of his infamy. From the extremity of Italy and Asia, the young, and the aged, were dragged in chains to the tribunals of Rome and Antioch. Senators, matrons, and philosophers, expired in ignominious and cruel tortures.
The soldiers, who were appointed to guard the prisons, declared, with a murmur of pity and indignation, that their numbers were insufficient to oppose the flight, or resistance, of the multitude of captives. The wealthiest families were ruined by fines and confiscations; the most innocent citizens trembled for their safety; and we may form some notion of the magnitude of the evil, from the extravagant assertion of an ancient writer, that, in the obnoxious provinces, the prisoners, the exiles, and the fugitives, formed the greatest part of the inhabitants. 52
Footnote !!: This infamous inquisition into sorcery and witchcraft has been of greater influence on human affairs than is commonly supposed. The persecutions against philosophers and their libraries was carried on with so much fury, that from this time (A. D. 374) the names of the Gentile philosophers became almost extinct; and the Christian philosophy and religion, particularly in the East, established their ascendency. I am surprised that Gibbon has not made this observation. Heyne, Note on Zosimus, l. iv. 14, p. 637. Besides vast heaps of manuscripts publicly destroyed throughout the East, men of letters burned their whole libraries, lest some fatal volume should expose them to the malice of the informers and the extreme penalty of the law. Amm. Marc. xxix. 11. - M.
Footnote 43: Libanius de ulciscend. Julian. nece, c. ix. p. 158, 159. The sophist deplores the public frenzy, but he does not (after their deaths) impeach the justice of the emperors.
Footnote 44: The French and English lawyers, of the present age, allow the theory, and deny the practice, of witchcraft, (Denisart, Recueil de Decisions de Jurisprudence, au mot Sorciers, tom. iv. p. 553. Blackstone's Commentaries, vol. iv. p. 60.) As private reason always prevents, or outstrips, public wisdom, the president Montesquieu (Esprit des Loix, l. xii. c. 5, 6) rejects the existence of magic.
Footnote 45: See Oeuvres de Bayle, tom. iii. p. 567-589. The sceptic of Rotterdam exhibits, according to his custom, a strange medley of loose knowledge and lively wit.
Footnote 46: The pagans distinguished between good and bad magic, the Theurgic and the Goetic, (Hist. de l'Academie, &c., tom. vii. p. 25.) But they could not have defended this obscure distinction against the acute logic of Bayle. In the Jewish and Christian system, all daemons are infernal spirits; and all commerce with them is idolatry, apostasy &c., which deserves death and damnation.
Footnote 47: The Canidia of Horace (Carm. l. v. Od. 5, with Dacier's and Sanadon's illustrations) is a vulgar witch. The Erictho of Lucan (Pharsal. vi. 430-830) is tedious, disgusting, but sometimes sublime. She chides the delay of the Furies, and threatens, with tremendous obscurity, to pronounce their real names; to reveal the true infernal countenance of Hecate; to invoke the secret powers that lie below hell, &c.
Footnote 48: Genus hominum potentibus infidum, sperantibus fallax, quod in civitate nostra et vetabitur semper et retinebitur. Tacit. Hist. i. 22. See Augustin. de Civitate Dei, l. viii. c. 19, and the Theodosian Code l. ix. tit. xvi., with Godefroy's Commentary.
Footnote 49: The persecution of Antioch was occasioned by a criminal consultation. The twenty-four letters of the alphabet were arranged round a magic tripod: and a dancing ring, which had been placed in the centre, pointed to the four first letters in the name of the future emperor, O. E. O Triangle. Theodorus (perhaps with many others, who owned the fatal syllables) was executed. Theodosius succeeded. Lardner (Heathen Testimonies, vol. iv. p. 353-372) has copiously and fairly examined this dark transaction of the reign of Valens.
Footnote 50: Limus ut hic durescit, et haec ut cera liquescit
Uno eodemque igni - Virgil. Bucolic. viii. 80.
Devovet absentes, simulacraque cerea figit.
Ovid. in Epist. Hypsil. ad Jason 91.
Such vain incantations could affect the mind, and increase the disease of Germanicus. Tacit. Annal. ii. 69.
Footnote 51: See Heineccius, Antiquitat. Juris Roman. tom. ii. p. 353, &c. Cod. Theodosian. l. ix. tit. 7, with Godefroy's Commentary.
Footnote 52: The cruel persecution of Rome and Antioch is described, and most probably exaggerated, by Ammianus (xxvii. 1. xxix. 1, 2) and Zosimus, (l. iv. p. 216-218.) The philosopher Maximus, with some justice, was involved in the charge of magic, (Eunapius in Vit. Sophist. p. 88, 89;) and young Chrysostom, who had accidentally found one of the proscribed books, gave himself up for lost, (Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. v. p. 340.)
describes the deaths of the innocent and illustrious Romans, who were sacrifice
d to the cruelty of the first Caesars, the art of the historian
, or the merit of the sufferers, excites in our breast the most lively sensations of terror, of admiration, and of pity. The coarse and undistinguishing pencil of Ammianus
has delineated his bloody figures with tedious and disgusting accuracy. But as our attention is no longer engaged by the contrast of freedom and servitude, of recent greatness and of actual misery, we should turn with horror from the frequent executions, which disgraced, both at Rome and Antioch
, the reign of the two brothers. 53
Valens was of a timid, 54
and Valentinian of a choleric, disposition. 55
An anxious regard to his personal safety was the ruling principle of the administration of Valens. In the condition of a subject, he had kissed, with trembling awe, the hand of the oppressor; and when he ascended the throne, he reasonably expected, that the same fears, which had subdued his own mind, would secure the patient submission of his people. The favorites of Valens obtained, by the privilege of rapine and confiscation, the wealth which his economy would have refused. 56
They urged, with persuasive eloquence, that, in all cases of treason, suspicion is equivalent to proof; that the power supposes the intention, of mischief; that the intention is not less criminal than the act; and that a subject no longer deserves to live, if his life may threaten the safety, or disturb the repose, of his sovereign
. The judgment of Valentinian was sometimes deceived, and his confidence abused; but he would have silenced the informers with a contemptuous smile, had they presumed to alarm his fortitude by the sound of danger. They praised his inflexible love of justice; and, in the pursuit of justice, the emperor was easily tempted to consider clemency
as a weakness, and passion as a virtue. As long as he wrestled with his equals, in the bold competition of an active and ambitious life, Valentinian was seldom injured, and never insulted, with impunity: if his prudence was arraigned, his spirit was applauded; and the proudest and most powerful generals were apprehensive of provoking the resentment of a fearless soldier. After he became master of the world, he unfortunately forgot, that where no resistance can be made, no courage can be exerted
; and instead of consulting the dictates of reason and magnanimity
, he indulged the furious emotions of his temper, at a time when they were disgraceful to himself, and fatal to the defenceless objects of his displeasure. In the government of his household, or of his empire, slight, or even imaginary, offences - a hasty word, a casual omission, an involuntary delay - were chastised by a sentence of immediate death. The expressions which issued the most readily from the mouth of the emperor of the West were, "Strike off his head;" "Burn him alive;" "Let him be beaten with clubs till he expires;" 57
and his most favored ministers soon understood, that, by a rash attempt to dispute, or suspend, the execution of his sanguinary
commands, they might involve themselves in the guilt and punishment of disobedience. The repeated gratification of this savage justice hardened the mind of Valentinian against pity and remorse; and the sallies of passion were confirmed by the habits of cruelty. 58
He could behold with calm satisfaction the convulsive agonies of torture and death; he reserved his friendship for those faithful servants whose temper was the most congenial to his own. The merit of Maximin, who had slaughtered the noblest families of Rome, was rewarded with the royal approbation, and the praefecture of Gaul
. Two fierce and enormous bears, distinguished by the appellations of Innocence, and Mica Aurea, could alone deserve to share the favor of Maximin. The cages of those trusty guards were always placed near the bed-chamber of Valentinian, who frequently amused his eyes with the grateful spectacle of seeing them tear and devour the bleeding limbs of the malefactors who were abandoned to their rage.
Their diet and exercises were carefully inspected by the Roman emperor; and when Innocence had earned her discharge, by a long course of meritorious service, the faithful animal was again restored to the freedom of her native woods. 59
Footnote 53: Consult the six last books of Ammianus, and more particularly the portraits of the two royal brothers, (xxx. 8, 9, xxxi. 14.) Tillemont has collected (tom. v. p. 12-18, p. 127-133) from all antiquity their virtues and vices.
Footnote 54: The younger Victor asserts, that he was valde timidus: yet he behaved, as almost every man would do, with decent resolution at the head of an army. The same historian attempts to prove that his anger was harmless. Ammianus observes, with more candor and judgment, incidentia crimina ad contemptam vel laesam principis amplitudinem trahens, in sanguinem saeviebat.
Footnote 55: Cum esset ad acerbitatem naturae calore propensior. . . poenas perignes augebat et gladios. Ammian. xxx. 8. See xxvii. 7
Footnote 56: I have transferred the reproach of avarice from Valens to his servant. Avarice more properly belongs to ministers than to kings; in whom that passion is commonly extinguished by absolute possession.
Footnote 57: He sometimes expressed a sentence of death with a tone of pleasantry: "Abi, Comes, et muta ei caput, qui sibi mutari provinciam cupit." A boy, who had slipped too hastily a Spartan bound; an armorer, who had made a polished cuirass that wanted some grains of the legitimate weight, &c., were the victims of his fury.
Footnote 58: The innocents of Milan were an agent and three apparitors, whom Valentinian condemned for signifying a legal summons. Ammianus (xxvii. 7) strangely supposes, that all who had been unjustly executed were worshipped as martyrs by the Christians. His impartial silence does not allow us to believe, that the great chamberlain Rhodanus was burnt alive for an act of oppression, (Chron. Paschal. p. 392.)
Note: Ammianus does not say that they were worshipped as martyrs. Onorum memoriam apud Mediolanum colentes nunc usque Christiani loculos ubi sepulti sunt, ad innocentes appellant. Wagner's note in loco. Yet if the next paragraph refers to that transaction, which is not quite clear. Gibbon is right. - M.
Footnote 59: Ut bene meritam in sylvas jussit abire Innoxiam. Ammian. xxix. and Valesius ad locum.
But in the calmer moments of reflection, when the mind of Valens was not agitated by fear, or that of Valentinian by rage, the tyrant resumed the sentiments, or at least the conduct, of the father of his country. The dispassionate judgment of the Western emperor could clearly perceive, and accurately pursue, his own and the public interest; and the sovereign of the East, who imitated with equal docility the various examples which he received from his elder brother, was sometimes guided by the wisdom and virtue of the prefect Sallust
. Both princes invariably retained, in the purple, the chaste and temperate simplicity which had adorned their private life; and, under their reign, the pleasures of the court never cost the people a blush or a sigh. They gradually reformed many of the abuses of the times of Constantius
; judiciously adopted and improved the designs of Julian
and his successor; and displayed a style and spirit of legislation which might inspire posterity with the most favorable opinion of their character and government. It is not from the master of Innocence, that we should expect the tender regard for the welfare of his subjects, which prompted Valentinian
to condemn the exposition of new-born infants; 60
and to establish fourteen skilful physicians, with stipends and privileges, in the fourteen quarters of Rome. The good sense of an illiterate soldier founded a useful and liberal institution for the education of youth, and the support of declining science. 61
It was his intention, that the arts of rhetoric and grammar should be taught in the Greek and Latin languages, in the metropolis
of every province; and as the size and dignity of the school was usually proportioned to the importance of the city, the academies of Rome and Constantinople
claimed a just and singular preeminence. The fragments of the literary edicts of Valentinian imperfectly represent the school of Constantinople
, which was gradually improved by subsequent regulations. That school consisted of thirty-one professors in different branches of learning. One philosopher, and two lawyers; five sophists, and ten grammarians for the Greek
, and three orators, and ten grammarians for the Latin tongue; besides seven scribes, or, as they were then styled, antiquarians, whose laborious pens supplied the public library with fair and correct copies of the classic writers. The rule of conduct
, which was prescribed to the students, is the more curious, as it affords the first outlines of the form and discipline of a modern university. It was required, that they should bring proper certificates from the magistrates of their native province. Their names, professions, and places of abode, were regularly entered in a public register. The studious youth were severely prohibited from wasting their time in feasts, or in the theatre
; and the term of their education was limited to the age of twenty. The praefect of the city was empowered to chastise the idle and refractory by stripes or expulsion; and he was directed to make an annual report to the master of the offices, that the knowledge and abilities of the scholars might be usefully applied to the public service. The institutions of Valentinian contributed to secure the benefits of peace and plenty; and the cities were guarded by the establishment of the Defensors; 62
freely elected as the tribunes and advocates of the people, to support their rights, and to expose their grievances, before the tribunals of the civil magistrates, or even at the foot of the Imperial throne. The finances were diligently administered by two princes, who had been so long accustomed to the rigid economy of a private fortune; but in the receipt and application of the revenue, a discerning eye might observe some difference between the government of the East
and of the West
was persuaded, that royal liberality can be supplied only by public oppression
, and his ambition never aspired to secure, by their actual distress, the future strength and prosperity of his people. Instead of increasing the weight of taxes, which, in the space of forty years, had been gradually doubled, he reduced, in the first years of his reign, one fourth of the tribute of the East. 63
Valentinian appears to have been less attentive and less anxious to relieve the burdens of his people. He might reform the abuses of the fiscal administration; but he exacted, without scruple, a very large share of the private property
; as he was convinced, that the revenues, which supported the luxury of individuals, would be much more advantageously employed for the defence and improvement of the state. The subjects of the East, who enjoyed the present benefit, applauded the indulgence of their prince. The solid but less splendid, merit of Valentinian was felt and acknowledged by the subsequent generation. 64
Footnote 60: See the Code of Justinian, l. viii. tit. lii. leg. 2. Unusquisque sabolem suam nutriat. Quod si exponendam putaverit animadversioni quae constituta est subjacebit. For the present I shall not interfere in the dispute between Noodt and Binkershoek; how far, or how long this unnatural practice had been condemned or abolished by law philosophy, and the more civilized state of society.
Footnote 61: These salutary institutions are explained in the Theodosian Code, l. xiii. tit. iii. De Professoribus et Medicis, and l. xiv. tit. ix. De Studiis liberalibus Urbis Romoe. Besides our usual guide, (Godefroy,) we may consult Giannone, (Istoria di Napoli, tom. i. p. 105-111,) who has treated the interesting subject with the zeal and curiosity of a man of latters who studies his domestic history.
Footnote 62: Cod. Theodos. l. i. tit. xi. with Godefroy's Paratitlon, which diligently gleans from the rest of the code.
Footnote 63: Three lines of Ammianus (xxxi. 14) countenance a whole oration of Themistius, (viii. p. 101-120,) full of adulation, pedantry, and common-place morality. The eloquent M. Thomas (tom. i. p. 366-396) has amused himself with celebrating the virtues and genius of Themistius, who was not unworthy of the age in which he lived.
Footnote 64: Zosimus, l. iv. p. 202. Ammian. xxx. 9. His reformation of costly abuses might entitle him to the praise of, in provinciales admodum parcus, tributorum ubique molliens sarcinas. By some his frugality was styled avarice, (Jerom. Chron. p. 186)
But the most honorable circumstance of the character of Valentinian, is the firm and temperate impartiality which he uniformly preserved in an age of religious contention. His strong sense, unenlightened, but uncorrupted, by study, declined, with respectful indifference, the subtle questions of theological
debate. The government of the Earth claimed his vigilance
, and satisfied his ambition; and while he remembered that he was the disciple of the church, he never forgot that he was the sovereign of the clergy. Under the reign of an Apostate
, he had signalized his zeal for the honor of Christianity: he allowed to his subjects the privilege which he had assumed for himself; and they might accept, with gratitude and confidence, the general toleration
which was granted by a prince addicted to passion, but incapable of fear or of disguise. 65
, the Jews, and all the various sects which acknowledged the divine authority of Christ
, were protected by the laws from arbitrary power or popular insult; nor was any mode of worship prohibited by Valentinian, except those secret and criminal practices, which abused the name of religion for the dark purposes of vice and disorder. The art of magic
, as it was more cruelly punished, was more strictly proscribed: but the emperor admitted a formal distinction to protect the ancient methods of divination
, which were approved by the senate, and exercised by the Tuscan auspices
. He had condemned, with the consent of the most rational pagans
, the license of nocturnal sacrifice
s; but he immediately admitted the petition of Praetextatus, proconsul of Achaia
, who represented, that the life of the Greeks would become dreary and comfortless, if they were deprived of the invaluable blessing of the Eleusinian mysteries
. Philosophy alone can boast, (and perhaps it is no more than the boast of philosophy,) that her gentle hand is able to eradicate from the human mind the latent and deadly principle of fanaticism.
But this truce of twelve years, which was enforced by the wise and vigorous government of Valentinian, by suspending the repetition of mutual injuries, contributed to soften the manners, and abate the prejudices, of the religious factions.
Footnote 65: Testes sunt leges a me in exordio Imperii mei datae; quibus unicuique quod animo imbibisset colendi libera facultas tributa est. Cod. Theodos. l. ix. tit. xvi. leg. 9. To this declaration of Valentinian, we may add the various testimonies of Ammianus, (xxx. 9,) Zosimus, (l. iv. p. 204,) and Sozomen, (l. vi. c. 7, 21.) Baronius would naturally blame such rational toleration, (Annal. Eccles A. D. 370, No. 129-132, A. D. 376, No. 3, 4.)
Footnote *: Comme il s'etait prescrit pour regle de ne point se meler de disputes de religion, son histoire est presque entierement degagee des affaires ecclesiastiques. Le Beau. iii. 214. - M.
The friend of toleration
was unfortunately placed at a distance from the scene of the fiercest controversies. As soon as the Christians of the West had extricated themselves from the snares of the creed of Rimini, they happily relapsed into the slumber of orthodoxy; and the small remains of the Arian party, that still subsisted at Sirmium or Milan, might be considered rather as objects of contempt than of resentment. But in the provinces of the East, from the Euxine to the extremity of Thebais, the strength and numbers of the hostile factions were more equally balanced; and this equality, instead of recommending the counsels of peace, served only to perpetuate the horrors of religious war. The monks and bishops supported their arguments by invectives; and their invectives were sometimes followed by blows. Athanasius
still reigned at Alexandria
; the thrones of Constantinople
were occupied by Arian prelates, and every Episcopal
vacancy was the occasion of a popular tumult. The Homoousians were fortified by the reconciliation of fifty-nine Macelonian, or Semi-Arian, bishops; but their secret reluctance to embrace the divinity of the Holy Ghost, clouded the splendor of the triumph; and the declaration of Valens, who, in the first years of his reign, had imitated the impartial conduct of his brother, was an important victory on the side of Arianism
. The two brothers had passed their private life in the condition of catechumens; but the piety of Valens prompted him to solicit the sacrament
of baptism, before he exposed his person to the dangers of a Gothic war. He naturally addressed himself to Eudoxus, 66 *
bishop of the Imperial city; and if the ignorant monarch was instructed by that Arian pastor in the principles of heterodox theology, his misfortune, rather than his guilt, was the inevitable consequence of his erroneous choice. Whatever had been the determination of the emperor, he must have offended a numerous party of his Christian subjects; as the leaders both of the Homoousians and of the Arians believed, that, if they were not suffered to reign, they were most cruelly injured and oppressed. After he had taken this decisive step, it was extremely difficult for him to preserve either the virtue, or the reputation of impartiality. He never aspired, like Constantius
, to the fame of a profound theologian
; but as he had received with simplicity and respect the tenets of Euxodus, Valens resigned his conscience to the direction of his ecclesiastical guides, and promoted, by the influence of his authority, the reunion of the Athanasian
heretics to the body of the Catholic church. At first, he pitied their blindness; by degrees he was provoked at their obstinacy; and he insensibly hated those sectaries to whom he was an object of hatred. 67
The feeble mind of Valens was always swayed by the persons with whom he familiarly conversed; and the exile or imprisonment of a private citizen are the favors the most readily granted in a despotic court. Such punishments were frequently inflicted on the leaders of the Homoousian party; and the misfortune of fourscore ecclesiastics of Constantinople
, who, perhaps accidentally, were burned on shipboard, was imputed to the cruel and premeditated malice of the emperor, and his Arian ministers. In every contest, the Catholics (if we may anticipate that name) were obliged to pay the penalty of their own faults, and of those of their adversaries. In every election, the claims of the Arian candidate obtained the preference; and if they were opposed by the majority of the people, he was usually supported by the authority of the civil magistrate, or even by the terrors of a military force. The enemies of Athanasius
attempted to disturb the last years of his venerable age; and his temporary retreat to his father's sepulcher
has been celebrated as a fifth exile. But the zeal of a great people, who instantly flew to arms, intimidated the praefect: and the archbishop was permitted to end his life in peace and in glory, after a reign of forty-seven years. The death of Athanasius
was the signal of the persecution of Egypt; and the Pagan minister of Valens, who forcibly seated the worthless Lucius on the archiepiscopal throne, purchased the favor of the reigning party, by the blood and sufferings of their Christian brethren. The free toleration
of the heathen and Jewish worship was bitterly lamented, as a circumstance which aggravated the misery of the Catholics, and the guilt of the impious tyrant of the East. 68
Footnote 66: Eudoxus was of a mild and timid disposition. When he baptized Valens, (A. D. 367,) he must have been extremely old; since he had studied theology fifty-five years before, under Lucian, a learned and pious martyr. Philostorg. l. ii. c. 14-16, l. iv. c. 4, with Godefroy, p 82, 206, and Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. tom. v. p. 471-480, &c.
Footnote *: Through the influence of his wife say the ecclesiastical writers. - M.
Footnote 67: Gregory Nazianzen (Orat. xxv. p. 432) insults the persecuting spirit of the Arians, as an infallible symptom of error and heresy.
Footnote 68: This sketch of the ecclesiastical government of Valens is drawn from Socrates, (l. iv.,) Sozomen, (l. vi.,) Theodoret, (l. iv.,) and the immense compilations of Tillemont, (particularly tom. vi. viii. and ix.)
The triumph of the orthodox party has left a deep stain of persecution on the memory of Valens
; and the character of a prince who derived his virtues, as well as his vices, from a feeble understanding and a pusillanimous
temper, scarcely deserves the labor of an apology. Yet candor may discover some reasons to suspect that the ecclesiastical ministers of Valens often exceeded the orders, or even the intentions, of their master; and that the real measure of facts has been very liberally magnified by the vehement declamation and easy credulity of his antagonists. 69 1
. The silence of Valentinian
may suggest a probable argument that the partial severities, which were exercised in the name and provinces of his colleague, amounted only to some obscure and inconsiderable deviations from the established system of religious toleration
: and the judicious historian
, who has praised the equal temper of the elder brother, has not thought himself obliged to contrast the tranquility of the West with the cruel persecution of the East. 70 2
. Whatever credit may be allowed to vague and distant reports, the character, or at least the behavior, of Valens, may be most distinctly seen in his personal transactions with the eloquent Basil
, archbishop of Caesarea
, who had succeeded Athanasius
in the management of the Trinitarian
The circumstantial narrative has been composed by the friends and admirers of Basil; and as soon as we have stripped away a thick coat of rhetoric and miracle, we shall be astonished by the unexpected mildness of the Arian tyrant, who admired the firmness of his character, or was apprehensive, if he employed violence, of a general revolt in the province of Cappadocia
. The archbishop, who asserted, with inflexible pride, 72
the truth of his opinions, and the dignity of his rank, was left in the free possession of his conscience and his throne. The emperor devoutly assisted at the solemn service of the cathedral; and, instead of a sentence of banishment, subscribed the donation of a valuable estate for the use of a hospital, which Basil had lately founded in the neighborhood of Caesarea
3. I am not able to discover, that any law (such as Theodosius
afterwards enacted against the Arians) was published by Valens against the Athanasian sectaries; and the edict which excited the most violent clamors, may not appear so extremely reprehensible. The emperor had observed, that several of his subjects, gratifying their lazy disposition under the pretence of religion, had associated themselves with the monks of Egypt; and he directed the count of the East to drag them from their solitude; and to compel these deserters of society to accept the fair alternative of renouncing their temporal possessions, or of discharging the public duties of men and citizens. 74
The ministers of Valens seem to have extended the sense of this penal statute, since they claimed a right of enlisting the young and ablebodied monks in the Imperial armies. A detachment of cavalry and infantry, consisting of three thousand men, marched from Alexandria
into the adjacent desert of Nitria
which was peopled by five thousand monks. The soldiers were conducted by Arian
priests; and it is reported, that a considerable slaughter was made in the monasteries which disobeyed the commands of their sovereign. 76
Footnote 69: Dr. Jortin (Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, vol. iv. p. 78) has already conceived and intimated the same suspicion.
Footnote 70: This reflection is so obvious and forcible, that Orosius (l. vii. c. 32, 33,) delays the persecution till after the death of Valentinian. Socrates, on the other hand, supposes, (l. iii. c. 32,) that it was appeased by a philosophical oration, which Themistius pronounced in the year 374, (Orat. xii. p. 154, in Latin only.) Such contradictions diminish the evidence, and reduce the term, of the persecution of Valens.
Footnote 71: Tillemont, whom I follow and abridge, has extracted (Mem. Eccles. tom. viii. p. 153-167) the most authentic circumstances from the Panegyrics of the two Gregories; the brother, and the friend, of Basil. The letters of Basil himself (Dupin, Bibliotheque, Ecclesiastique, tom. ii. p. 155-180) do not present the image of a very lively persecution.
Footnote 72: Basilius Caesariensis episcopus Cappadociae clarus habetur ... qui multa continentiae et ingenii bona uno superbiae malo perdidit. This irreverent passage is perfectly in the style and character of St. Jerom. It does not appear in Scaliger's edition of his Chronicle; but Isaac Vossius found it in some old Mss. which had not been reformed by the monks.
Footnote 73: This noble and charitable foundation (almost a new city) surpassed in merit, if not in greatness, the pyramids, or the walls of Babylon. It was principally intended for the reception of lepers, (Greg. Nazianzen, Orat. xx. p. 439.)
Footnote 74: Cod. Theodos. l. xii. tit. i. leg. 63. Godefroy (tom. iv. p. 409-413) performs the duty of a commentator and advocate. Tillemont (Mem. Eccles. tom. viii. p. 808) supposes a second law to excuse his orthodox friends, who had misrepresented the edict of Valens, and suppressed the liberty of choice.
Footnote 75: See D'Anville, Description de l'Egypte, p. 74. Hereafter I shall consider the monastic institutions.
Footnote 76: Socrates, l. iv. c. 24, 25. Orosius, l. vii. c. 33. Jerom. in Chron. p. 189, and tom. ii. p. 212. The monks of Egypt performed many miracles, which prove the truth of their faith. Right, says Jortin, (Remarks, vol iv. p. 79,) but what proves the truth of those miracles.
The strict regulations which have been framed by the wisdom of modern legislators to restrain the wealth and avarice of the clergy, may be originally deduced from the example of the emperor Valentinian. His edict, 77
addressed to Damasus, bishop of Rome, was publicly read in the churches of the city. He admonished the ecclesiastics and monks not to frequent the houses of widows and virgins; and menaced their disobedience with the animadversion of the civil judge. The director was no longer permitted to receive any gift, or legacy, or inheritance, from the liberality of his spiritual-daughter: every testament contrary to this edict was declared null and void; and the illegal donation was confiscated for the use of the treasury
. By a subsequent regulation, it should seem, that the same provisions were extended to nuns and bishops; and that all persons of the ecclesiastical order were rendered incapable of receiving any testamentary gifts, and strictly confined to the natural and legal rights of inheritance. As the guardian of domestic happiness and virtue, Valentinian applied this severe remedy to the growing evil. In the capital of the empire, the females of noble and opulent houses possessed a very ample share of independent property: and many of those devout females had embraced the doctrines of Christianity, not only with the cold assent of the understanding, but with the warmth of affection, and perhaps with the eagerness of fashion. They sacrifice
d the pleasures of dress and luxury; and renounced, for the praise of chastity, the soft endearments of conjugal society. Some ecclesiastic, of real or apparent sanctity, was chosen to direct their timorous conscience, and to amuse the vacant tenderness of their heart: and the unbounded confidence, which they hastily bestowed, was often abused by knaves and enthusiasts; who hastened from the extremities of the East, to enjoy, on a splendid theatre
, the privileges of the monastic profession. By their contempt of the world, they insensibly acquired its most desirable advantages; the lively attachment, perhaps of a young and beautiful woman, the delicate plenty of an opulent household, and the respectful homage of the slaves, the freedmen, and the clients of a senatorial family. The immense fortunes of the Roman ladies were gradually consumed in lavish alms and expensive pilgrimages; and the artful monk, who had assigned himself the first, or possibly the sole place, in the testament of his spiritual daughter, still presumed to declare, with the smooth face of hypocrisy, that he was only the instrument of charity, and the steward of the poor. The lucrative, but disgraceful, trade, 78
which was exercised by the clergy to defraud the expectations of the natural heirs, had provoked the indignation of a superstitious age: and two of the most respectable of the Latin fathers very honestly confess, that the ignominious edict of Valentinian was just and necessary; and that the Christian priests had deserved to lose a privilege, which was still enjoyed by comedians, charioteers, and the ministers of idols. But the wisdom and authority of the legislator are seldom victorious in a contest with the vigilant dexterity of private interest; and Jerome
, or Ambrose, might patiently acquiesce in the justice of an ineffectual or salutary law. If the ecclesiastics were checked in the pursuit of personal emolument, they would exert a more laudable industry to increase the wealth of the church; and dignify their covetousness with the specious names of piety and patriotism. 79
Footnote 77: Cod. Theodos. l. xvi. tit. ii. leg. 20. Godefroy, (tom. vi. p. 49,) after the example of Baronius, impartially collects all that the fathers have said on the subject of this important law; whose spirit was long afterwards revived by the emperor Frederic II., Edward I. of England, and other Christian princes who reigned after the twelfth century.
Footnote 78: The expressions which I have used are temperate and feeble, if compared with the vehement invectives of Jerom, (tom. i. p. 13, 45, 144, &c.) In his turn he was reproached with the guilt which he imputed to his brother monks; and the Sceleratus, the Versipellis, was publicly accused as the lover of the widow Paula, (tom. ii. p. 363.) He undoubtedly possessed the affection, both of the mother and the daughter; but he declares that he never abused his influence to any selfish or sensual purpose.
Footnote 79: Pudet dicere, sacerdotes idolorum, mimi et aurigae, et scorta, haereditates capiunt: solis clericis ac monachis hac lege prohibetur. Et non prohibetur a persecutoribus, sed a principibus Christianis. Nec de lege queror; sed doleo cur meruerimus hanc legem. Jerom (tom. i. p. 13) discreetly insinuates the secret policy of his patron Damasus.
Damasus, bishop of Rome, who was constrained to stigmatize the avarice of his clergy by the publication of the law of Valentinian, had the good sense, or the good fortune, to engage in his service the zeal and abilities of the learned Jerom; and the grateful saint has celebrated the merit and purity of a very ambiguous character. 80
But the splendid vices of the church of Rome, under the reign of Valentinian
, have been curiously observed by the historian Ammianus
, who delivers his impartial sense in these expressive words: "The praefecture of Juventius was accompanied with peace and plenty, but the tranquillity of his government was soon disturbed by a bloody sedition of the distracted people. The ardor of Damasus and Ursinus, to seize the episcopal seat, surpassed the ordinary measure of human ambition. They contended with the rage of party; the quarrel was maintained by the wounds and death of their followers; and the praefect, unable to resist or appease the tumult, was constrained, by superior violence, to retire into the suburbs. Damasus prevailed: the well-disputed victory remained on the side of his faction; one hundred and thirty-seven dead bodies 81
were found in the Basilica of Sicininus, 82
where the Christians hold their religious assemblies; and it was long before the angry minds of the people resumed their accustomed tranquility. When I consider the splendor of the capital, I am not astonished that so valuable a prize should inflame the desires of ambitious men, and produce the fiercest and most obstinate contests. The successful candidate is secure, that he will be enriched by the offerings of matrons; 83
that, as soon as his dress is composed with becoming care and elegance, he may proceed, in his chariot
, through the streets of Rome; 84
and that the sumptuousness of the Imperial table will not equal the profuse and delicate entertainments provided by the taste, and at the expense, of the Roman pontiff
s. How much more rationally (continues the honest Pagan) would those pontiff
s consult their true happiness
, if, instead of alleging the greatness of the city as an excuse for their manners, they would imitate the exemplary life of some provincial bishops, whose temperance and sobriety, whose mean apparel and downcast looks, recommend their pure and modest virtue to the Deity and his true worshippers!" 85
The schism of Damasus and Ursinus was extinguished by the exile of the latter; and the wisdom of the praefect Praetextatus 86
restored the tranquillity of the city. Praetextatus was a philosophic Pagan, a man of learning, of taste, and politeness; who disguised a reproach in the form of a jest, when he assured Damasus, that if he could obtain the bishopric of Rome, he himself would immediately embrace the Christian religion. 87
This lively picture of the wealth and luxury of the popes in the fourth century becomes the more curious, as it represents the intermediate degree between the humble poverty of the apostolic fishermen, and the royal state of a temporal prince, whose dominions extend from the confines of Naples to the banks of the Po.
Footnote 80: Three words of Jerom, sanctoe memorioe Damasus (tom. ii. p. 109,) wash away all his stains, and blind the devout eyes of Tillemont. (Mem Eccles. tom. viii. p. 386-424.)
Footnote 81: Jerom himself is forced to allow, crudelissimae interfectiones diversi sexus perpetratae, (in Chron. p. 186.) But an original libel, or petition of two presbyters of the adverse party, has unaccountably escaped. They affirm that the doors of the Basilica were burnt, and that the roof was untiled; that Damasus marched at the head of his own clergy, grave-diggers, charioteers, and hired gladiators; that none of his party were killed, but that one hundred and sixty dead bodies were found. This petition is published by the P. Sirmond, in the first volume of his work.
Footnote 82: The Basilica of Sicininus, or Liberius, is probably the church of Sancta Maria Maggiore, on the Esquiline hill. Baronius, A. D. 367 No. 3; and Donatus, Roma Antiqua et Nova, l. iv. c. 3, p. 462.
Footnote 83: The enemies of Damasus styled him Auriscalpius Matronarum the ladies' ear-scratcher.
Footnote 84: Gregory Nazianzen (Orat. xxxii. p. 526) describes the pride and luxury of the prelates who reigned in the Imperial cities; their gilt car, fiery steeds, numerous train, &c. The crowd gave way as to a wild beast.
Footnote 85: Ammian. xxvii. 3. Perpetuo Numini, verisque ejus cultoribus. The incomparable pliancy of a polytheist!
Footnote 86: Ammianus, who makes a fair report of his praefecture (xxvii. 9) styles him praeclarae indolis, gravitatisque senator, (xxii. 7, and Vales. ad loc.) A curious inscription (Grutor MCII. No. 2) records, in two columns, his religious and civil honors. In one line he was pontiff of the Sun, and of Vesta, Augur, Quindecemvir, Hierophant, &c., &c. In the other, 1. Quaestor candidatus, more probably titular. 2. Praetor. 3. Corrector of Tuscany and Umbria. 4. Consular of Lusitania. 5. Proconsul of Achaia. 6. Praefect of Rome. 7. Praetorian praefect of Italy. 8. Of Illyricum. 9. Consul elect; but he died before the beginning of the year 385. See Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom v. p. 241, 736.
Footnote 87: Facite me Romanae urbis episcopum; et ero protinus Christianus (Jerom, tom. ii. p. 165.) It is more than probable that Damasus would not have purchased his conversion at such a price.
To cite original text:
Gibbon, Edward, 1737-1794. The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. (NY : Knopf, 1993), v. 2, pp. 529 - 551.
[The History of the Decline and Fall