Page:Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire vol 1 (1897).djvu/80

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6
THE DECLINE AND FALL

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 neighbourhood of Bender, a place famous in modern history, and the actual frontier of the Turkish and Russian empires.[1]

Conquests of Trajan in the east 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 on the son of Philip.[2] 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 honour of being the first, as he was the last, of the Roman generals, who ever navigated that remote sea. His fleets ravaged the coasts of Arabia; and Trajan vainly flattered himself that he was approaching towards the confines of India.[3] 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 bands 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.[4] But the death of Trajan soon clouded the splendid prospect;[5] and it was justly

  1. See a Memoir of M. d'Anville, on the Province of Dacia, in the Académie des Inscriptions, tom. xxviii.; p. 444-468.
  2. Trajan's sentiments are represented in a very just and lively manner in the Cæsars of Julian. [The date of the beginning of the Parthian War is 114 A.D.]
  3. Eutropius and Sextus Rufus have endeavored to perpetuate the illusion. See a very sensible dissertation of M. Freret, in the Académiedes Inscriptions, tom. xxi. p. 55.
  4. Dion Cassius, I. lxviii. [18 et sqq.]; and the Abbreviators.
  5. [117 A.D. A triumph in honor of this eastern expedition was celebrated after the emperor's death. On inscriptions he is called Divus Traianus Parthicus, instead of Divus Traianus (Schiller, Gesch. der rom. Kaiserzeit, i. 563).]