Page:Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus.djvu/14

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[Bk. XIV. Ch. i.
AMMIANUS MARCELLINUS.

unexpected honour from the lowest depth of misery to the highest rank, exceeded all the legitimate bounds of the power conferred on him, and with preposterous violence threw everything into confusion. For by his near relationship to the royal family, and his connection with the name of Constantine, he was so inflated with pride, that if he had had more power, he would, as it seemed, have ventured to attack even the author of his prosperity.

2. His wife added fuel to his natural ferocity; she was a woman immoderately proud of her sisterly relationship to Augustus, and had been formerly given in marriage by the elder Constantine to King Hannibalianus,[1] his brother's son. She was an incarnate fury: never weary of inflaming his savage temper, thirsting for human blood as insatiably as her husband. The pair, in process of time, becoming more skilful in the infliction of suffering, employed a gang of underhand and crafty talebearers, accustomed in their wickedness to make random additions to their discoveries, which consisted in general of such falsehoods as they themselves delighted in; and these men loaded the innocent with calumnies, charging them with aiming at kingly power, or with practising infamous acts of magic.

3. And among his less remarkable atrocities, when his power had gone beyond the bounds of moderate crimes, was conspicuous the horrible and sudden death of a certain noble citizen of Alexandria, named Clematius. His mother-in-law, having conceived a passion for him, could not prevail on him to gratify it; and in consequence, as

  1. Hannibalianus was another nephew of Constantine. That emperor raised his own three sons Constantine, Constantius, and Constans, to the dignity of Caesar; and of his two favorite nephews, Dalmacius and Hannibalianus, he raised the first, by the title of Cæsar, to an equality with his cousins: "in favor of the latter he invented the new and singular appellation of Fortitissimus, to which he annexed the flattering distinction of a robe of purple and gold. But of the whole series of Roman princes in any age of the empire Hannibalianus alone was distinguished by the title of king, a name which the subjects of Tiberius would have detested as the profane and cruel insult of capricious tyranny." — Gibbon, cxviii. The editor of Bohn's edition adds in a note: "The title given to Hannibalianus did not apply to him as a Roman prince, but as king of a territory assigned to him in Asia. This territory consisted of Pontus, Cappadocia, and the lesser Armenia, the city of Cæsarea being chosen for his residence." — Gibbon, Bohn's edition, vol. ii. pp. 256, 257.