Gesta Romanorum Vol. II (1871)/Of Christ's Clemency

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Gesta Romanorum Vol. II  (1871) 
Anonymous, translated by Charles Swan
Of Christ's Clemency



In the chronicles of Eusebius we read of an emperor who governed the Roman people with the greatest equity, sparing none, whether rich or poor; but measuring the punishment according to the extent of the crime. The factious senators however deposed him; and expelled every poor person from the kingdom. Immediately he fled to Constantine, and entering into a close compact with him, on all occasions, conducted himself so boldly and prudently that he succeeded him to the sovereignty of the empire. Then assembling an army, he besieged the city of Rome; and so vigilantly did he watch the motions of the Roman people, that both ingress and egress were equally precluded. By this means, the city being reduced to the most deplorable situation, the people sent out to him their senators, and young men and women, with their feet bare, who prostrated themselves before him, and humbly requested the forgiveness which he refused to grant. At length they despatched his parents, who were resident in the city, upon this embassy. His mother wept and intreated; conjuring him by the breasts which he had sucked, to spare the place of his nativity. Unable to resist the force of natural affection, he pardoned on her account their offences. He then marched into the city, and was honourably entertained[1].


My beloved, the emperor is Christ; the city is the human heart, from which he is expelled; Constantine is God; the senators, &c. are the prophets, and patriarchs, and apostles.

  1. We have here, evidently, a new version of the story of Coriolanus.