« AnteriorContinuar »
size, in the room of the Ægyptian obelisk of stone. And thus Julian does what had been blamed in Constantine. He robs and strips Alexandria, to enrich and adorn Constantinople.
All which, as seems to me, is sufficient to shew that Constantine's choice of Byzantium was approved of by succeeding emperors, and that his conduct therein was justified by them. But I think that somewhat more may be said ; and that what Constantine did now, had been in effect done before. Dioclesian, who was the first and eldest emperor, had for some while resided chiefly at Nicomedia ; and Maximian in Italy. Dioclesian's resignation in the year 305, was performed at a place near Nicomedia, and T.Iaximian's at Milan. Dioclesian and Galerius were at Nicomedia, when the edict for a general persecution of the Christians was published in 303, and had been there some while before. There Dioclesian had a palace. He also endeavoured to increase the confluence of people there, by making Nicomedia the seat of learning. For that end he invited the professors of other countries, most eminent for their skill in the arts and sciences, to come and make it the place of their residence. One of these was the celebrated Firmianus Lactantius,who was invited to set up there a school of rhetoric, which he did. And, as we learn from Jerom, Flavius Grammaticus was invited at the same time, who was in repute for his skill in medicine ; and likewise had a talent for poetry. And if Constantine be censured for the expenses of building, so was Dioclesian likewise, and for a design to make Nicomedia equal to Rome. And Ammianus Marcellinus says, that · Nicomedia in the time of its prosperity, resembled Rome itself for the number and grandeur of its private and public buildings with which it had been adorned by divers princes.
Zosimus, as may be remembered, in a place above cited, says: “When a day came that, ac*cording to custom, the army should go up to the capitol, Constantine spoke slightly of that
custom. And then abandoning the sacred rites, he lost the affections of the senate, and people • of Rome. And not being able to endure the reproaches caśt upon him upon that account, he * thought of chusing another city for the seat of the empire. At length he fixed upon the city • of Byzantium, afterwards called Constantinople.'
So says Zosimus. Nevertheless that might not be the whole of the reason why Constantine determined to make Byzantium the place of his residence. For, as I apprehend, the authority and influence of the senate had been for some while troublesome to the emperors; they therefore chose to be generally at a considerable distance from it. And the present extent of the empire, and the state of things called them much into the eastern part of it. And to ine it seems not improbable that, if Constantine had never been converted to Christianity, and if Gentilism had continued to subsist in its ancient splendour, Nicomedia, or some other city near it, would have been chosen for the place of the chief residence, for the emperor, or for the first of the emperors if there were more than one. And at length a senate likewise might have been appointed in it, with suitable privileges, as a rival with the ancient senate at Rome.
And for certain, Constantine in the choice of Byzantium shewed his judgment and sagacity: For no place could be pitched upon, as to its situation, more agreeable, or more convenient for an imperial seat, in the whole extent of the Roman empire, nor perhaps upon the face of the whole earth.
These thoughts are my own, and therefore are proposed, as they ought to be, with diffidence. But I was willing to mention them for abating the reproaches cast upon Constantine upon this account: which have often appeared to me invidious, excessive, and unreasonable. They came originally from Gentile writers, who laid hold of every occasion to disparage the first Christian emperor. And others, as seems to me, not being duly upon their guard, have incautiously embraced them.
a Firmianus, qui et Lactantius, Arnobii discipulus, sub ribus necessaria Repente magna pars civitatis exceditur. Diocletiano principe, accitus cum Flavio grammatico, cujus Migrabant omnes cum conjugibus et liberis, quasi urbe ab de medicinalibus versu compositi extant libri, Nicomediæ hostibus capta-Ita semper dementabat, Nicomediam sturhetoricam docuit. Hiero. De V. I. cap. 8. Ego cum in dens urbi Romæ coæquare. Cæc. de M. P. cap. vii. Bithynia oratorias literas accitus docerem. &c. Lact. Inst. c Inde Nicomediam venit, urbem antehac inclytam, ita 1. 5. cap. 2.
magnis retro Principum amplificatam impensis, ut ædium • Huc accedebat infinita quædam cupiditas ædificandi, non multitudine privatarum et publicaruni recte noscentibus regio ininor provinciarum exactio in exhibendis operariis, artifici- quædam Urbis æstimare:ur æternæ. Ammian, I. 22. c. ix. bus, et plaustris omnibus, quæcumque sint fabricandis ope
7. Among those who were put to death soon after the accession of Constantius, Zosimus says: • Ata that time also was put to death Ablabius, præfect of the Prætorium, in the way
of a just punishment for his procuring the death of the philosopher Sopater, because he en• vied him the friendship of Constantine.'
Eunapius " likewise, who enlarges more than Zosimus in the character of Ablabius, who, from a mean original, arose to great splendour and dignity, ascribes the death of Sopater to the intrigues of Ablabius. Jerom. also in his Chronicle, mentions the death of Ablabius among other executions at the beginning of the reign of Constantius.
I do not think it needful for me to enlarge in the history, or character of Ablabius, who was præfect of the Prætorium from the year 326 to 333, or longer. I shall refer therefore to • Gothofred, and · Tillemont. But perhaps it may be expected that I should here say somewhat of Sopater, who was so much esteemed by the learned men of those times, who were zealous. for Gentilism. He is said to have been a disciple of Jamblichus, who was disciple of Plotinus.. Eunapius says, he was a man of great abilities; and disdaining to live in obscurity, he hast• ened to the court of Constantine, with a view of restraining the impetuosity of that prince
against the old religion, and to govern him by reason. And for a while he was in great esteem, • and was openly favoured and honoured by Constantine. But,' as he says, there being a
scarcity of corn at Constantinople, and the people there thinking that, : by magical arts, he • bound
up the winds, and obstructed the arrival of ships laden with corn for their relief, his enemies, and particularly Ablabius, who envied his credit with the emperor, obtained an order • for putting him to death. Which " order was immediately executed by those who bore him. • ill-will.' That is Eunapius's account of the occasion of Sopater's death. Here I would refer to'Crevier, who has a conjecture concerning the occasion of Sopater's death ; which does not appear to me so material as to deserve to be transcribed.
Sopater is in Suidas, who says: Sopater was of Apamea, a sophist, and a philosopher, • whom the emperor Constantine put to death that he might convince all that he no longer fa• voured Gentilism: for to that time he was very familiar with him, and friendly to him. Не, * wrote a work concerning Providence, and another concerning such as had been
without their own desert happy or unhappy. Constantine however did not do well in killing Sopater. For • no man is good by necessity, but by choice only.'
There follows in Suidas another article, which is to this purpose : Sopater of Apamea, or • rather of Alexandria, sophist. Hek made epitoines of several books. Some ascribe to him a work of historical collections.'
Whether this be the same with the forementioned, and celebrated Sopater of Apamea, may be questioned. However, those works are ascribed to him by some. And in Photius is an article of · Collections, or extracts from several, in twelve books, by Sopater the sophist.' They are indeed out of many authors, and most of them of great note. Photius says, the • work
may be useful to the readers, though there are in it not a few fables, and prodigies, and • false and incredible stories.'
8. In the beginning of the reign of Valentinian all the friends of Julian were looked upon with dislike. But Zosimus says, that • « Valentinian was particularly incensed against the philosopher
Ανηρεθη δε τοτε Αβλαζιος και της αυλης υπαρχος της δικης -αλλα Σωπατρος γε, έφασαν, και παρα σε τιμωμένος, αξιαν αυτω ποινην επιθεισης ανθ' ων επεβαλευσε θανατον τω κατεδησε τες ανεμος δι' υπερβολην σοφιας, κ. λ. Ιd. ib, Σωματρω τα φιλοσοφω, φθονα της Κωνσταντινα προς αυτον οικειότητος. . Zos. I. 2. p. 092.
5 Και εγενετο δια τας βασκαινοντας ταυτα θαστον η ελεγετό. • Eunap. in Ædes. p. 37.
Eunap. ibid. © Ablabius præfectus Prætorio, et multi nobilium occisi. · History of the Roman Emperors. Vol. x. p. 169, 170. Chron. p. 182.
Επιτoμας πλεισων. Τινες δε και την εκλογιαν των ίςορίων d Gothof. Prosopographia, p. 347.
τ8τ8 ειναι φασι. e L'Emp. Constantin. sect. 60.
| Vide Voss. Hist. Gr. 1. 2. cap. xvii. Σωπατρος, δε ο παντων δεινοτερος, δια τε φυσεως ύψος και. η Ανεγνωσθησαν εκλογαι διαφοροι εν βιβλιοις δυοκαιδεκα ψυχης μεγεθος, εκ ενεγκων τοις άλλοις ανθρωπους ομιλειν, επι
000158. Συνειλεκται δε αυτο το Βιβλιον τας βασιλειας αυλας εδραμεν οξυς, ως την Κωνσταντιν8- πολλων και διαφορων ισοριων και γραμματων. Cod. 101. προφασιν τε και φοραν τυραννησων, και μετανήσων τω λογω. Και ες τοσετον γε εξικετο σοφιας και δυναμεως, ως και " Ibid. p. 344. μεν βασιλευς εαλωκει τε υπ' αυτω, και δημοσια συνεδρον • Zos. 1. 4. p. 735. sub. in. ειχεν, εις τον δεξιον καθιζων τοσον. In Ædesio. p. 34.
* Maximus, bearing in memory a charge which he had brought against him in the time of Julian, of impiety toward the gods, out of respect for the Christian religion.'
However, Maximus was not now put to death, nor till a good while afterwards, as we may shew in another place.
9. Presently afterwards, still at the beginning of the same reign, in the year 364, he says: • Valentinian * made a law forbidding nocturnal sacrifices, intending thereby to prevent the * enormities which were sometimes committed at those seasons. But Prætextatus, then procon• sul of Greece, a man adorned with every virtue, assuring him, that law would do no less than
deprive the Greeks of all the comfort of their lives, if they were hindered from performing * those most sacred mysteries, according to the appointment, upon which the welfare of man• kind depended, he permitted them to be done, his law lying dormant, provided that all
things were done according to the laws of the country, as they had been done from the be. ' ginning.'
The law prohibiting nocturnal sacrifices may be a law dated the ninth day of September, in the
year 364, which • I shall place below with a reference to Gothofred's notes upon it. But Zosimus says that law was suffered to lie dormant, or without effect, for Greece at least. And there is another law, dated May 29, in the year 371, where the practice of soothsaying and other rites of the Gentile religion are allowed of, provided nothing magical or hurtful was done.
And Ammianus Marcellinus commends the Moderation of Valentinian, in that he did not disturb men upon account of their religion, but let every man do as he pleased, without interposing his authority: as was also observed formerly e from the same historian.
Zosimus acknowledgeth that Theodosius was a good soldier, and skilful in the art of war ; but he chargeth him with great luxury and expensiveness in his way of living. I do not transcribe him here. It is sufficient briefly to mention this, and make a reference to what he says.
But by way of balance to his invectives, I would refer to the panegyric of Pacatus, pronounced before the senate of Rome, and as some think in the presence of Theodosius himself, soon after the defeat of the usurper Maximus, in the year 8 391, as some think, or rather in the year 339, and to the younger Victor, who'flourished in the time of Arcadius and Honorius, and published a compendious history of the Roman emperors from Augustus to Theodosius, with whom his history concludes. His honourable character of Theodosius is' truly remarkable.
11. Still, at the beginning of that reign, about the year 379, he says : Under" these afflic. * tions, however, the people made supplications to the Deity, entreating deliverance from so
great calamities. For as yet they had the privilege of frequenting the temples, and appeasing * the anger of the gods, according to the method of the ancient institutions.
2--αφ' εςιας ωσπερ αρξαμενος, τας νυκτερινας εκωλυε θυσιας επιτελεισθαι· τοις μυσαφως μεν 8ν πραττομενοις εμποδων δια τα τοιςδε νομο γενεσθαι βολομενος. Εσει δε Πραιτεκστατος, και της Ελλαδος την ανθυπατον εχων αρχην, ανηρ εν πασαις διαπρεπων ταις αρεταις, τατον εφη τον νομον αβιωτον τοις "Ελλησι καταςησειν τον βιον, ει μελλοιεν κωλυεσθαι τα συνεχόντα το ανθρωπειον γενος αγιωτατα μυςηρια κατα θεσμον εκτελειν, επετρεψεν, αργεντος τα νομα: σραττεσθαι δε παντα κατα τα της αρχής πατρια. p. 735, 736.
• Ne quis deinceps nocturnis temporibus, aut nefarias preces, aut magicos apparatus, aut sacrificia funesta celebrare conetur : detectum atque convictum competenti animadversione mactare perenni auctoritate censemus. Cod. Theod. lib. 9. Tit. 16. 1.7. p. 126. Tom. 3.
• Haruspicinam ego nullum cum maleficiorum caussis habere consortium indico : neque ipsam aut aliquam præterea concessam a majoribus religionem genus esse arbitror criminis. Testes sunt leges a me in exordio Imperii mei datæ, quibus, unicuique, quod animo imbibisset, colendi libera facultas tributa est.' Nec haruspicinam reprehendimus, sed
nocenter exerceri vetamus. Ibid. 1. 9. p. 128, 129. T. 3.
d Ammian. 1. xxx. cap. ix.
& La Baune ad Paneg. Vet. p. 308. Fabric. Bib. Lat. T. 2. p: 772.
* Tiliem. L'Emp. Theod. i. art. 47. p. 631. and the Universal History, Vol. 16. p. 425.
i Voss. de Hist. Lat. 1. 2. cap. xv.
k Fuit autem Theodosius moribus et corpore Trajano similis-Illa tamen, quibus Trajanus aspersus est, vinolentiam et cupidinem triumphandi, usque eo detestatus est, ut bella non moverit, sed invenerit, &c. Vict. Epit. cap. 48.
| Vide Basnag. ann. 379. iii. Tillem. L'Emp. Theodose. art. 85.
η Ετι γαρ ην αυτες αδεια τ8 φοιταν εις τα ιερα, και τα θεια κατα της πατριας θεσμες εκμειλιστεσθαι. 1. 4. p. 755.
12. And soon after, about the year 380 or 381 : - Moreover, Theodosius attacked the temples of the gods in the cities, and in the country. And all were in the utmost danger who • believed there were any gods; or who at all looked up to heaven, and worshipped the things « that shine in it.'
13. He gives this account of Gratian's refusing the title of high-priest, or pontifex maximus: Numa Pompilius ‘first had this title: and ever after those called kings [Reges], and
after them Octavianus [Augustus], and other Roman emperors who succeeded him. For at • the same time that they received the supreme government, a priestly vestment was brought to • them by the pontifices (priests so called by the Romans], and immediately he was called pon• tifex maximus. And all the other emperors always appeared to be pleased with that honour;
and have used that title. And even Constantine, although he forsook the true religion and * embraced the faith of the Christians, and others his successors, particularly Valentinian and
Valens, did the same. When therefore the pontifices brought the vestment to Gratian, he rejected their request, thinking it to be an unlawful habit for a Christian. Thed vestment being • returned to the priest, it is said that the chief of them said: “Since the emperor will not be • called pontifex, there will soon be a pontifex maximus.”
There is a point in this last expression; The meaning is, Maximus shall soon be pontifex.. Upon this paragraph of Zosimus some remarks must be made. (1) First of all
, it is not allowed that Constantine, and other Christian emperors after him; did receive the title of pontifex maximus. It is strongly argued by divers of our most learned modern ecclesiastical historians, that they did not. This title, they say, may be given in some inscriptions, and medals still extant. But that will not amount to a proof that any Christian emperors did accept of it and take it upon them.
(2.) It is unknown when Gratian rejected the pontifical vestment, there being no authentic account of it in ancient authors.
Other learned men are willing to allow the truth of what Zosimus here says, that'Gratian refused the title of pontifex, and that he was the first who refused it, and consequently, that it was accepted by all preceding Christian emperors.
(3.) İf the priestly vestment was refused by Gratian at the time of his accession in the year 567, or soon afterwards, I may take the liberty to say that, the prediction concerning Maximus's usurpation in the year 382, was invented afterwards. And we must do so much justice to Zosimus, as to observe that he puts the credit of it upon a Oxoi only, it is said.
14. • Theodosius," he says, sent Cynegius præfect of the Prætorium into Ægypt, with • orders to prohibit all worship of the gods, and to shut up the temples. Which orders Cynegius 'punctually executed, and shut up the doors of the temples all over the East, and in all Ægypt, * and in Alexandria itself; and prohibited the sacrifices which had been ever practised hitherto, • and every branch of the ancient religious rites. And what has been the fate of the empire • from that time to this, will appear from the following relation of the things that have • happened.'
Here is no mention made of the demolition of the temples. All that Zosimus says is, that they were shut up: this was done in the year 386, or before, as is supposed: and Cynegius, now præfect of the Prætorium in the East, who was employed in this commission, died in his consulship, in the year 388."
15. Soon afterwards he says, 'Gerontius,' a general of great valour and conduct, com* manded in Tomas in Scythia. Having been insulted by some barbarians in that country, he
& Soon after that, Theodosius began to take up his residence at Constantinople. See Tillemont Theodos. i. art. 17. p. 710, 711.
• Ετι δε και τα των θειων ειδη κατα πασαν επολιορκεί πολιν x21 Xw050v.
Κινδυνος τε πασιν επεκειτο τοις νομιζασιν- είναι θεος, η ολας εις τον ερανον αναβλεπεσι, και τα εν αυτω φαινο. μενα προσκυνάσι. Ιb. p. 758.
c P. 761.
4 Τοις τε ιερεύσι της πολης αναδοθεισης, φασι τον πρωτον εν αυτοις τεταγμενον ειπείν, Ει μη Βολεται Ποντιφιξ ο Βασιλευς Ενομαζεσθαι, ταχιςα γενησεται Ποντιφιέ Μαξιμος. Ιbid.
• Vide Pagi ann. 312. n. xvii. &c. Tillem. L'Emp. Constantin. art. 28.
See Bletterie, Vie de l'Emp. Julien. liv. 3, p. 232, the second edition. Who refers to a Dissertation of M. de la Bastie, which is inserted in Les Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions, et de belles lettres. Tom. xv.
ωςε και Κυνηγιο, τω της αυλης υπαρχω, πεμπομενω κατα την Αιγυπloν, προτεταγμενω τε σασι την εις τα θεια θρησκειαν απαγορευσαι, και κλειθρα τους τεμενεσιν επιθειναι
Lib. 4. p. 702. h Vide Basi). ann. 358. num. vii. Tillemont. Theod. i. art. xix.
i L. 4. p. 764, 765.
* sallied out upon them, and having with difficulty overcome them, they who had escaped, * fled • to a building highly honoured by the Christians, and esteemed an asylum.' This also is supposed to have happened in the year 386.6
16. Having related how Arbogastes and Eugenius were overcome, he proceeds: Things • thus succeeding with Theodosius, when he came to Rome [in the year 394] he declared his
son Honorius emperor, and appointed Stilicho general of the legions in those parts, and left • him to be guardian to his son; and assembling the senate, who still adhered to the ancient • religion of their country, and had not yet chosen to join themselves to those who had fallen • into contempt of the gods, he made a speech to them, and exhorted them to leave the error, (as he called it) which they had been yet in, and to embrace the faith of the Christians, the
great promise of which is the forgiveness of every sin, and every impiety. But none followed • his advice, nor consented to forsake the rites of their country, which had been delivered to them
from the foundation of the city, or to make an unreasonable choice of others in their room." * For they said that, in the observation of them, they had possessed the city unconquered for * almost twelve hundred years; but what might happen, if they should change them for others,
they knew not. Theodosius then told them, that the public was burdened with the expenses • of the temples and sacrifices, and that for the future they should not be allowed, for he did not approve of that kind of expense. And besides, the necessities of the army required more money. The senate answered, that the worship of the gods could not be rightly performed but • at the public charge: and then from that time the public sacrifices ceasing, and all other things • received from ancient tradition being neglected, the Roman empire has gradually declined, till • it is become the habitation of barbarians, or rather is almost destitute of inhabitants; and the * form of it is so altered, that it is not easy to find the places where cities once stood. Theodosius * now assigned Italy, Spain, Gaul, and Africa, to his son Honorius, and died soon afterwards. • His body having been embalmed was carried to Constantinople, and there interred in the imperial sepulchres.'
That is the conclusion of the fourth book of this history. There is no necessity that I should stay to make many remarks. But I think it easy to suppose that the great unanimity of the senate in adhering to the old religion is here magnified. The complaints before made are here renewed, and with aggravations: for I presume the ancient cities were still to be found in their old places, and were most of them as well peopled as in former times. If some had been ruined by wars, or earthquakes, other cities had risen up in their room, and others were more populous, and more splendid, than in former times. This, particularly, was the case of Byzantium, now called Constantinople.
17. Rufinus, who had many honours under Theodosius, and had been some while præfect of the Prætorium, and consul in the year 392, and who, after the death of Theodosius, (which happened in the beginning of the year 395) was for a short time prime minister to Arcadius, was killed at Constantinople, or near it, before the end of the year 395, and his body miserably abused, as Zosimus and others write. Zosimus then adds: • The wife' of Rufinus fearing that * she should likewise perish with her husband, fled with her daughter to a church of the Chris• tians. And Eutropius, then in favour with Arcadius, assured her of her life, and gave them • leave to sail to the city of Jerusalem, formerly inhabited by the Jews, but since the reign of • Constantine, adorned with buildings by the Christians. Here they spent the rest of their days.'
18. And we meet with the end of Eutropius in the year 399.3 The account given of it by Zosimus, is to this purpose: • Arcadius" hearing of these things, sent for Eutropius, and having • taken from him all his honours, let him go. Whereupon he fled to a church of the Christians, * which had been made an asylum by himself. But Gainas,' as Zosimus says, • insisting that Tri
4 Τες δε αποδραντας εδεχετο παρα Χριςιανων τιμωμενον οικοδομημα, νομιζομενον ασυλον. p. 765.
b Vide Tillem. L'Emp. Theodos. i. art. 28. c Lib. iv. p. 779.
d So writes Zosimus. On the contrary, Prudentius says, that about this time many senators of the best families were converted, and embraced the Christian religion. Contr. Symm. 1. i. ver. 545, &c.
e Vide Basnag. ann. 395. iv. Tillem. L'Emp. Arcade. art. iv.
δε Ρουφινε γαμετης συν τη θυγατρι τη των Χριστιανων εκκλησια προσδραμασης, δεει το μη συναπολεσθαι τω ανδρι, πισιν δες ο Ευτροπιος, εφηκεν αυταις εις την κατα Ιεροσόλυμα πολιν εκπλευσαι, παλαι μεν οικητηριον Ιεδαιων εσαν, απο δε της Κωνςαντινε βασιλειας, υπο Χριςιανων τιμωμενην οικοδομημασιν. Εκειναι μεν εν αυτοθι τον λείπομενον το βια διετριψαν Xpovov. I. 5. p. 785-786. 8 Basn. ann. 399. iii. Pagi 399. i. et ii. h Zos. I. 5. p. 793, 794.