New History/Book the First
When Polybius of Megalopolis proposed to write the history of all the remarkable occurrences of his own times, he thought it proper to demonstrate by facts, that the Romans, who were continually at war with the neighbouring states, for six hundred years after the building of their city, acquired in that space of time no considerable extent of dominion. But after they had subdued a small part of Italy, which upon the invasion of Hannibal they lost at the battle of Cannae, and viewed their enemies under their own walls; they made so great a progress in good fortune, that in less than fifty-three years, they became masters, not only of all Italy and Africa, but likewise of Spain. And being still desirous to enlarge their empire, they crossed the Ionian sea, conquered Greece, and ruined the Macedonians, whose king they carried to Rome in chains. No person can therefore suppose that all this proceeded from causes merely human, but either from fatal necessity, the influence of the planets, or the will of the Deity, which regards with favour all our actions, while they are just and virtuous. For these provide for future contingencies by such a train of apparent causes, that thinking persons must conclude the administration of human affairs to be in the hands of a divine Providence; so that when the energy of nations by the divine influence is roused and alert, they flourish in prosperity; and on the contrary, when they becoming displeasing to the gods, their affairs decline to a state resembling that which now exists.
But it being my design to demonstrate by actual circumstances the truth of my observations, I shall begin by stating, that from the Trojan war to the battle of Marathon the Greeks performed no exploits worthy of being mentioned either against each other or any foreign power. But when Darius with his prefects brought against them an army of immense magnitude, eight thousand Athenians, as if inspired from Heaven, and armed by mere chance, advanced to oppose him, and met with such success as to kill ninety thousand, and compel the remainder to fly from their country. And it was this engagement that enabled the Greeks to improve their condition. But Xerxes, after the death of Darius, invaded Greece with a force so much more considerable, that he appeared to carry all Asia along with him into Greece; for the sea was covered with his ships, and the land with his soldiers. Finding it necessary to cross from Asia into Europe, he constructed a bridge over the Hellespont for the passage of his foot soldiers, and, as if the two elements of earth and water were not capable of receiving his army without depriving them of their natural use, cut a channel through Mount Athos, in which his ships rode as in the sea. In the mean time the Greeks, though terrified at the bare report of the approach of such an enemy, prepared to oppose him with their utmost strength. In a naval engagement at Artemisium, and another at Salamis, they so far exceeded their former victory, that Xerxes was glad to escape with his life, having lost the greater part of his army; and the destruction of the remainder of them at Plateae gave such a completion to the renown of the Greeks, that, by the force of the reputation they had acquired, they not only liberated the Greeks that were settled in Asia, but possessed themselves of almost all the islands.
And indeed, had they continued amicable with each other, and contented with the condition they then stood in, and had the Athenians and Lacedemonians not quarrelled for the government of Greece, they would never have had to submit to any foreign power. But the strength of Greece being exhausted by the Peloponnesian war, and its cities impoverished, Philip found opportunity to enlarge the kingdom left him by his father, by arts and stratagems, though in strength inferior to all his neighbours. For by his money he so bound to him his own soldiers, and all others that would fight under his banners, that he became sufficiently powerful to contend with the Athenians at Cheronea, and after that victory by his courtesy and affability insinuated himself so much into the regard of all, that he thought himself able to march against the king of Persia, but died before he could levy a competent force.
Alexander, who succeeded to the throne, having settled the affairs of Greece, crossed into Asia with a considerable army. Having there conquered the Satrapes who opposed him, he advanced towards Darius himself, who had fixed himself with an innumerable host in all the places near to Issus. There he gained in an engagement with the Persians an incredible victory, routed Darius, and proceeded through Phoenicia and Syria into Palestine. His actions at Tyre, and Gaza may be read in the historians of his life. From thence he marched into Egypt, and having paid his devotions to Jupiter Ammon, and ordered Alexandria to be erected, he returned to finish the Persian war. On his march, finding that he was esteemed by all people, he proceeded into Mesopotamia; and though he heard that Darius was prepared to receive him with a greater army than before, yet he advanced with the force he then had, and engaged at Arbela; where he gained so important a victory, as to destroy all the troops of Darius, and overturn the Persian monarchy, although the king himself escaped. Darius being murdered by Bessus, Alexander, after performing great achievements in India, returned to Babylon, where he died. After his decease, the dominion of the Macedonians being divided into several principalities, which were enfeebled by continual wars against each other, the remaining part of Europe was subdued by the Romans. Crossing afterwards into Asia, they contended with the king of Pontus and Antiochus, then with the Dynastes or sovereigns of Egypt; thus enlarging their empire every year, so long as their senate retained its authority, because their consuls were ambitious of emulating each other. But the commonwealth being ruined by the civil wars between Sulla and Marius, and between Julius Caesar and Pompey, the aristocracy, or government of the nobles, was set aside, without the consideration, that it was like throwing the hopes and interests of all the people on the hazard of a die, and placing that vast empire at the risk of the inclination and authority of a single ruler. For were it the inclination of such a ruler to govern according to justice and moderation, he could not hope to give satisfaction to all, not being able to protect such as were at a considerable distance in any convenient time, nor to select so many officers, that would fear the disgrace of not performing their duty; nor could he suit his own disposition to the different humours of so many. But if he should wish to break through the bonds of imperial and regal government, and exercise absolute tyranny, by subverting the existing establishments, conniving at great crimes, selling of justice, and regarding his subjects as slaves (as most, and indeed with few exceptions, almost all the emperors have done), it must of necessity follow, that his unbounded savage authority would prove a common calamity. It is the very nature of such a despotism, that fawning miscreants and parasites are preferred to situations of the greatest trust, whilst modest quiet men, who are averse to so base a manner of living, resent with justice that they themselves cannot enjoy similar benefits. Hence cities are filled with sedition and tumult; for when all offices, both civil and military, are conferred upon ill disposes magistrates, it both renders the citizens restless in peace, and discourages the soldiers in war.
That this is the case has been plainly shewn by experience, and the train of events that took place soon afterwards, in the reign of Octavianus. For the dance called Pantomimus, which signifies a dance in imitation of every one, was introduced into Rome at that period; it never having before been in use in Italy, being invented by Pylades and Bathyllus; besides many other innovations, that still are productive of great evil. Octavianus however appears to have ruled with great moderation, more particularly after he listened to the counsel of Athenodorus the stoic, and when compared to Tiberius his successor. The tyranny of the latter was so severe as to be intolerable to his subjects, who expelled him to an island, where he secreted himself for some time and then died. To him succeeded Caius Caligula, who far exceeded Tiberius in every species of wickedness, and was slain by Chaereas, who resolved by that bold action to deliver the state from his cruel tyranny. The next emperor was Claudius, who intrusted the management of all his affairs to Libertini (the sons of those who had been slaves) that were eunuchs, and his end was disgraceful. Nero and his successors were then raised to the imperial throne. Of whom I shall not state any thing, in order that the world may not be pained by the repetition of the impious and monstrous enormities of which they were guilty. But Vespasian, and Titus his son, acted during their reigns with greater moderation. On the contrary, Domitian exceeded all his predecessors in cruelty, luxury, and avarice; for which reason, after he had for fifteen successive years tormented the commonwealth, he was put to death by Stephanus, one of his freed men; thus receiving the punishment which his actions merited.
After him several worthy sovereigns succeeded to the empire: Nerva, Trajan, and afterwards Adrian, Antoninus Pius, and the brothers Verus and Lucius, who reformed many abuses in the state, and not only recovered what their predecessors had lost, but made likewise some new additions. But Commodus, the son of Marcus, on becoming emperor, addicted himself not only to tyranny, but to other monstrous vices, until his concubine Marcia assumed the courage of a man and put him to death, and the empire was conferred on Pertinax. But the imperial guards being unable to submit to the strictness of his discipline, which caused them to mutiny and to murder him, Rome was on the point of becoming a seat of anarchy and disorder, while the pretorian soldiers, who were intended for the protection of the palace, attempted to deprive the senate of the power of appointing a sole ruler. And the empire being now put up as it were to sale, Didius Julianus, at the instigation of his wife, assisted by his own folly, produced a sum of money with which he purchased the empire; and exhibited such a spectacle as the people had never before witnessed. The soldiers who raised him to the dignity, by violence put him in possession of the palace and all that it contained. But he was called to account and deprived of life by the very men who were the means of his exaltation, nor was his life more than a momentary golden dream.
At his removal, the Senate consulted whom to elect Emperor, and fixed on Severus. But Albinus and Niger pretending a right to the throne at the same time, a furious civil war broke out between the competitors; the cities being divided between the different parties. On this great commotions were excited in Egypt and the eastern parts of the empire, and the Byzantines, who espoused the cause of Niger, and entertained him, were ready for the most dangerous enterprizes, until he was vanquished by Severus and killed. After him Albinus likewise took leave of the empire and the world together, and thus the sole power now devolved on Severus. He therefore applied himself to the correction of the enormities that had sprung up, punishing severely the soldiers that had murdered Pertinax, and delivered the empire to Julianus. Having done this, and regulated the army, he marched against the Persians, and in this expedition took Ctesiphon and Babylon, over-ran the Arabians, called Scenites from their dwelling in tents, conquered the principal part of Arabia, and performed many other great achievements. He was besides inexorable to delinquents, and made public distribution of the property of those who were guilty of any heinous offence.
Having adorned many cities with sumptuous edifices, he declared his son Antoninus emperor, but at his death left his other son Geta co-heir with him in the government, appointing for their guardian Papinianus, a person eminent for his strict justice, and for his ability in the knowledge and interpretation of the law, in which he excelled every Roman either before or since his time. But this worthy man in a short time, became odious to Antoninus, because he used his utmost endeavours to frustrate a design which he had discovered, formed by Antoninus against his brother Geta. He resolved therefore to remove this obstacle, and concerted with the soldiers the destruction of Papinianus. This being effected, and his hands at liberty, he slew his brother, whom his own mother could not save, though he fled to her for protection.
But not long after Antoninus was remunerated for the murder of his brother, and it was never known who was the person that killed him. The soldiers at Rome then chose for emperor Macrinus, the prefect of the court; while those in the east set up Emisenus, who was related to the mother of Antoninus. Each army was now so tenacious of its choice, that a civil disturbance arose between them, and while the supporters of Emisenus Antoninus were bringing him to Rome, those of Macrinus advanced from Italy. The two armies engaging at Antioch in Syria, Macrinus was so completely routed, that he was compelled to fly from the camp, and was taken and put to death between Byzantium and Chalcedon.
Antoninus, after his victory, punished all that had espoused the cause of Macrinus as enemies, and led so dissolute and shameful a life, and held such frequent communication with magicians and jugglers, that the Romans, unable to endure his excessive luxury, murdered him, tore his body in pieces, and proclaimed Alexander emperor, who likewise was of the family of Severus. He, though very young, gave such signs of a good disposition, as inspired the people with hope that he would prove a mild ruler. He made Flavianus and Chrestus prefects of his court, men not only well acquainted with military affairs, but excelling in the management of civil business. But Mamaea, the emperor’s mother, placed over them Ulpianus, as an inspector of their conduct, and indeed as a partner in their office, he being an excellent lawyer, and knowing not only how to regulate present affairs, but to provide prudently for the future. This gave such offence to the two soldiers, that they secretly planned his destruction. When Mamaea understood this, she prevented their design by putting aside the conspirators, and making Ulpianus the sole prefect of the court. But afterwards becoming suspected by the army, for reasons which I am unable to state, there being many various reports concerning his inclination, he lost his life in a tumult, which the emperor himself could not prevent.
The soldiers after this event, forgetting by degrees their former regard for Alexander, appeared unwilling to put his commands in execution, and in order to prevent being punished for their negligence, excited public commotions, in which they promoted a person, named Antoninus, to the empire. But he, being incapable of sustaining so weighty a charge, declined it. They chose in his stead Uranius, a man of low and servile condition, whom they immediately placed before Alexander, drest in purple, by which they intended to express more strongly their contempt for the emperor. Alexander, finding himself surrounded with so many difficulties, became changed, both in bodily constitution, and in disposition; and was infected with an insatiable avarice, amassing riches with the utmost solicitude, which he confided to the care of his mother.
While his affairs were thus unfortunately situated, the armies in Pannonia and Moesia, which were far from respecting him previously, now became more disposed to revolt, and being therefore determined on an innovation, raised to the empire Maximinus, the captain of a Pannonian troop. Having collected all his forces, he marched into Italy with the utmost speed, thinking it the safest to attack the emperor by surprise. But Alexander, who was then in the vicinity of the Rhine, having received intelligence of their intended revolt, proceeded to Rome without loss of time. He offered pardon to the soldiers and to Maximinus upon the condition that they would desist from their attempt; he could not however appease them, and therefore desperately exposed himself to death. Mamaea his mother, and the prefects, who issued from the palace to allay the tumult, were likewise murdered. Maximinus thus became well established in the throne, but the people universally regretted the change of a moderate emperor for a cruel tyrant. Maximinus was of obscure birth, and therefore on his exaltation to the imperial dignity, his excessive insolence in his new authority eclipsed those good qualities with which nature had endowed him. He thus became intolerable to all men, not only doing injuries to those that were in honourable offices, but being guilty of the greatest cruelties in the exercise of his power, bestowing favours only upon sycophants who laid information against quiet persons, by charging them with being debtors to the imperial treasury. At length he went so far as to murder persons out of avarice, before he heard them plead in their own defence, seized on the towns as his own, and plundered the inhabitants.
The nations subject to the Romans being unable to endure his monstrous cruelty, and greatly distressed by the ravages he committed, the Africans proclaimed Gordianus and his son, of the same name, emperors, and sent ambassadors to Rome, one of whom was Valerianus, a man of consular rank, who afterwards himself became emperor. This was highly gratifying to the senate, which deliberated how to remove the tyrant, inciting the soldiers to revolt, and reminding the people of the injuries they had sustained as well in their individual capacities, as in that of members of so mighty a state. Having thus agreed how to act, they selected out of the whole senate twenty persons who understood military discipline, and out of that number appointed two, Balbinus and Maximus, to hold the chief command, and proceeded towards Rome, being ready for an insurrection. But Maximinus, hearing of their intention, marched with great precipitation towards Rome, with the Moors and Gauls that were under his command, and on the way laid siege to the garrison of Aquileia, because they closed their gates against him. His own party, at length consulting the public benefit, with great reluctance consented to those who wished to put him to death, and he was thereby reduced to such extremity, as to be under the necessity of making his son a petitioner in his behalf, supposing that his tender age would abate their anger and incline them to compassion. But at this they became more enraged, and after they had murdered the boy in a most barbarous manner, they dispatched the father likewise; on which one of them cut off his head, and carried it to Rome, as an evidence and a trophy of their victory. Being thus delivered from all their apprehensions, they waited for the arrival of the two emperors from Africa.
These princes being wrecked in a storm, the senate conferred the supreme direction of affairs on Gordianus, the son of one of them. In his reign, the Romans relaxed a little from their former melancholy, being treated by the emperor with plays and other amusements. But awaking as it were from a profound sleep, they formed a secret conspiracy against the emperor, instigated by the counsel of Balbinus and Maximus, who incited some of the soldiers against him. This being detected, the heads of the conspiracy, and many of the accomplices, were put to death.
Soon after this, the Carthaginians became discontented with the emperor, and attempted to substitute Sabianus in his stead; but Gordianus raised a force from Africa, which quickly caused them to submit. Upon this they delivered up the intended usurper, solicited pardon for their offences, and were freed from the danger that hung over them. Meantime Gordianus married the daughter of Timesicles, a man in high estimation for his learning, and appointed him prefect of the court; by which he seemed to supply the deficiency of his own youth in the administration of public affairs. Having secured the empire, he was in continual expectation that the Persians would make an attack on the eastern provinces, Sapores having succeeded in that kingdom to Artaxerxes, who had restored the government to the Persians from the Parthians. For after the death of Alexander the son of Philip, and of his successors in the empire of the Macedonians, at the period when those provinces were under the authority of Antiochus, Arsaces a Parthian, being exasperated at an injury done to his brother Teridates, made war upon the satrap of Antiochus, and caused the Parthians to drive away the Macedonians, and form a government of their own. The emperor therefore made all possible preparations for marching against the Persians. Although he appeared in the first battle to have obtained the victory, yet the confidence of the emperor in the success of this enterprize was considerably diminished by the death of Timesicles, the prefect of the court. Philip being chosen in his place, the emperor’s popularity in the army was gradually dissipated and vanished. Philip was a native of Arabia, a nation in bad repute, and had advanced his fortune by no very honourable means. As soon as he was fixed in his office, he aspired at the imperial divinity, and endeavoured to seduce all the soldiers that were disposed to innovation. Observing that abundance of military provisions was supplied, while the emperor was staying about Carrae and Nisibis, he ordered the ships that brought those provisions to go further up the country, in order that the army, being oppressed with famine, might be provoked to mutiny. His design succeeded to his wish; for the soldiers, under pretence of want of necessaries, surrounded Gordianus in a violent manner, and having killed him, as the chief cause of so many perishing, conferred the purple on Philip according to their engagement. He therefore made peace with Sapores, and marched towards Rome; and as he had bound the soldiers to him by large presents, he sent messengers to Rome to report that Gordianus had died of a disease. On his arrival at Rome, having made the senate his friends, he thought it most politic to confer the highest preferments on his near relations. From this motive he made his brother Priscus general of the army in Syria, and intrusted the forces in Moesia and Macedonia to his son-in-law Severianus.
Thinking that he had by these means established himself in the possession of the empire, he made an expedition against the Carpi, who had plundered all the country about the Ister. When an engagement took place, the Barbarians not being able to withstand the impetuous charge of the Romans, fled into a castle in which they were besieged. But finding that their troops, who were dispersed in various directions, had again rallied in a body, they resumed their courage, and sallying from the castle attacked the Roman army. Being unable to bear the brisk onset of the Moors, the army solicited for peace, to which Philip readily assented, and marched away. As there were at that time many disturbances in the empire, the eastern provinces, which were uneasy, partly, owing to the exactions of exorbitant tributes, and partly to their dislike of Priscus, their governor, who was a man of an intolerably evil disposition, wished for innovation, and set up Papianus for emperor, while the inhabitants of Moesia and Pannonia were more inclined to Marinus.
Philip, being disturbed by these events, desired the senate either to assist him against such imminent dangers, or, if they were displeased with his government, to suffer him to lay it down and dismiss him quietly. No person making a reply to this, Decius, a person of illustrious birth and rank, and moreover gifted, with every virtue, observed, that he was unwise in being so much concerned at those events, for they would vanish of themselves, and could not possibly long subsist. And though the event corresponded with the conjecture of Decius, which long experience in the world had enabled him to make, Papianus and Marinus being taken off, yet Philip was still in fear, knowing how obnoxious, the officers in that country were to the army. He therefore desired Decius to assume the command of the legions in Moesia and Pannonia. As he refused this under the plea that it was inconvenient both for Philip and himself, Philip made use of the rhetoric of necessity, as the Thessalians term it, and compelled him to go to Pannonia to punish the accomplices of Marinus. The army in that country, finding that Decius punished all that had offended, thought it most politic, to avoid the present danger, and to set up a sovereign who would better consult the good of the state, and who, being more expert both in civil and military affairs, might without difficulty conquer Philip.
For this purpose they clothed Decius in purple, and notwithstanding all his apprehensions of future mischances, compelled him to assume the supreme authority. Philip therefore, on hearing that Decius was thus made emperor, collected all his forces to overpower him. The supporters of Decius, though they knew that the enemy had greatly the advantage in numbers, still retained their confidence, trusting to the general skill and prudence of Decius in affairs. And when the two armies engaged, although the one was superior in number, yet the other so excelled it in discipline and conduct, that a great number of Philip’s partizans were slain and he himself amongst them, together with his son, on whom he had conferred the title of Caesar. Decius thus acquired the empire.
The Scythians, taking advantage of the disorder which every where prevailed through the negligence of Philip, crossed the Tanais, and pillaged the countries in the vicinity of Thrace. But Decius, marching against them, was not only victorious in every battle, but recovered the spoils they had taken, and endeavoured to cut off their retreat to their own country, intending to destroy them all, to prevent their ever again, making a similar incursion. For this purpose he posted Gallus on the bank of the Tanais with a competent force, and led in person the remainder of his army against the enemy. This expedition exceeded to his utmost wish; but Gallus, who was disposed to innovation, sent agents to the Barbarians, requesting their concurrence in a conspiracy against Decius. To this they gave a willing assent, and Gallus retained his post on the bank of the Tanais, but the Barbarians divided themselves into three battalions, the first of which posted itself behind a marsh. Decius having destroyed a considerable number of the first battalion, the second advanced, which he likewise defeated, and discovered a part of the third, which lay near the marsh. Gallus sent intelligence to him, that he might march against them across the fen. Proceeding therefore incautiously in an unknown place, he and his army became entangled in the mire, and under that disadvantage were so assailed by the missiles of the Barbarians, that not one of them escaped with life. Thus ended the life of the excellent emperor Decius.
To him succeeded Gallus; who declared his son Volusianus his associate in the empire, and published an open declaration, that Decius and his army perished by his contrivance. The Barbarians now became more prosperous than before. For Gallus not only permitted them to return home with the plunder, but promised to pay them annually a sum of money, and allowed them to carry off all the noblest captives; most of whom had been taken at Philippopolis in Thrace.
Gallus, having made these regulations, came to Rome, priding himself on the peace he had made with the Barbarians. And though he at first spoke with approbation of Decius’s mode of government, and adopted one of his sons, yet, after some time was elapsed, fearing that some of them who were fond of new projects might recur to a recapitulation of the princely virtues of Decius, and therefore might at some opportunity give the empire to his son, he concerted the young man’s destruction, without regard either to his own adoption of him, or to common honour and justice.
Gallus was so supine in the administration of the empire, that the Scythians in the first place terrified all the neighbouring nations, and then laid waste all the countries as far by degrees as the sea coast; not leaving one nation subject to the Romans unpillaged, and taking almost all the unfortified towns, and many that were fortified. Besides the war on every side, which was insupportably burdensome to them, the cities and villages were infested with a pestilence, which swept away the remainder of mankind in those regions; nor was so great a mortality ever known in any former period.
At this crisis, observing that the emperors were unable to defend the state, but neglected all without the walls of Rome, the Goths, the Borani, the Urugundi, and the Carpi once more plundered the cities of Europe of all that had been left in them; while in another quarter, the Persians invaded Asia, in which they acquired possession of Mesopotamia, and proceeded even as far as Antioch in Syria, took that city, which is the metropolis of all the east, destroyed many of the inhabitants, and carried the remainder into captivity, returning home with immense plunder, after they had destroyed all the buildings in the city, both public and private, without meeting with the least resistance. And indeed the Persians had a fair opportunity to have made themselves masters of all Asia, had they not been so overjoyed at their excessive spoils, as to be contented with keeping and carrying home what they had acquired.
Meantime the Scythians of Europe were in perfect security and went over into Asia, spoiling all the country as far as Cappadocia, Pesinus, and Ephesus, until Aemilianus, commander of the Pannonian legions, endeavouring as much as possible to encourage his troops, whom the prosperity of the Barbarians had so disheartened that they durst not face them, and reminding them of the renown of Roman courage, surprised the Barbarians that were in that neighbourhood. Having destroyed great numbers of them, and led his forces into their country, removing every obstruction to his progress, and at length freeing the subjects of the Roman empire from their ferocity, he was appointed emperor by his army. On this he collected all the forces of that country, who were becoming more bold since his successes against the Barbarians, and directed his march towards Italy, with the design of fighting Gallus, who was at yet unprepared to contend with him. For Gallus had never heard of what had occurred in the east, and therefore made only what accidental preparations were in his reach, while Valerianus went to bring the Celtic and German legions. But Aemilianus advanced with great speed into Italy, and the armies were very near to each other, when the soldiers of Gallus, reflecting that his force was much inferior to the enemy both in number and strength, and likewise that he was a negligent indolent man, put him and his son to death, and going over to the party of Aemilianus, appeared to establish his authority.
But Valerianus brought into Italy from beyond the Alps a vast army, with which he deemed himself secure of conquering Aemilianus. The soldiers of Aemilianus, who saw that his conduct was more like that of a private sentinel than of an emperor, now put him to death unfit for so weighty a charge.
By these means Valerianus became emperor with universal consent, and employed himself in the regulation of affairs. But the excursions of the Scythians, and of the Marcomanni, who made an inroad into all the countries adjacent to the empire, reduced Thessalonica to extreme danger; and though they were with much difficulty compelled to raise the siege by the brave defence of those within, yet all Greece was in alarm. The Athenians repaired their walls, which they have never thought worth their care since Sylla threw them down. The Peloponnesians likewise fortified the Isthmus, and all Greece put itself upon its guard for the general security.
Valerianus, perceiving the empire in danger on every side, associated his son Gallienus with himself in the government and went himself into the east to oppose the Persians. He entrusted to his son the care of the forces in Europe, thus leaving him to resist the Barbarians who poured in upon him in every direction. As the Germans were the most troublesome enemies, and harassed the Gauls in the vicinity of the Rhine, Gallienus marched against them in person, leaving his officers to repel with the forces under their command any others that should enter Italy, Illyricum, and Greece. With these designs, he possessed himself of and defended the passages of the Rhine, at one time preventing their crossing, and at another engaging them as soon as they had crossed it. But having only a small force to resist an immense number, he was at a loss how to act, and thought to secure himself by a league with one of the German princes. He thus not only prevented the other Barbarians from so frequently passing the Rhine, but obstructed the access of auxiliaries.
Meanwhile the Borani, the Gothi, the Carpi, and the Urugundi, nations that dwell on the Ister, left no part of Italy or Illyricum unpillaged, but devastated all without any opposition. The Borani, indeed, attempted to pass over into Asia, which they easily effected by the aid of those that reside on the Bosphorus, who were induced more through fear than good-will to supply them with vessels, and to guide them in their passage. For though while they were governed by their own kinds, who succeeded in an hereditary descent, they had always kept the Scythians out of Asia, either from the regard they had for the Romans, or for the sake of their commerce, or out of gratitude for the annual presents sent them by their kings; yet subsequently, when the royal line was extinct, and the authority had fallen into the hands of mean and worthless individuals, they yielded to fear, and gave the Scythians a free ingress into Asia, even carrying them over in their own ships.
While the Scythians plundered all before them, the people who inhabited on the sea-coast of Pontus, removed into the fortified towns in the interior; the barbarians at the same time making an attack on Pityus, which is surrounded by a strong wall, and possesses a convenient harbour. But Successianus, who commanded the army there, made so vigorous a defence, that the Barbarians were routed, and in such dread lest the other garrisons hearing what was done might join with that of Pityus and totally destroy them, that they hastened with the utmost speed to their ships, and returned home under great hazard, having lost many of their companions at the battle of Pityus. Thus the inhabitants of the vicinity of the Euxine sea, who owed their preservation to the conduct of Successianus, were relieved from all present apprehension lest the Scythians after this repulse should pay them another visit. But while Valerianus sent for Successianus, made him prefect of the court, and consulted with him about the repairing of Antioch, the Scythians procured ships from the Bosphorans, and again crossed the streight. The inhabitants of the other side retained the vessels, and would not permit the Bosphorus to take them home again, as they had before done, on which they advanced into the country near to Phasis, where is the temple of Diana, called from the place Phasiana, and the palace of king Aeeta; and having made a fruitless attempt to take that temple, proceeded direct to Pityus. Having there seized on the castle, and turned out the garrison, they advanced forward; and as they had a large navy into which they put all the captives who were able to manage an oar, they sailed with favourable weather, which continued almost the whole summer, towards Trapezus. This is a large and populous city, and was then guarded by ten thousand men above the usual complement. When they commenced a siege of it, they did not therefore even imagine that they should succeed, as it was surrounded by two wall; but when they observed that the soldiers were addicted to sloth and inebriety, and that instead of continuing on guard, they were always in search of pleasures and debauchery, they piled against the walls trees which they had prepared for the purpose of scaling it, on which their troops mounted in the night and took the city. The soldiers within were struck with consternation at the sudden and unexpected assault; some of them succeeded in escaping through the gates; the rest were slaughtered by the enemy. Having thus got possession of the palace, the Barbarians acquired an incredible quantity of money, besides a very great number of slaves; for almost all the inhabitants of the country had fled for refuge into that city, as it was strongly fortified. Having demolished all the temples and houses, and every thing that contributed to the grandeur or ornament of the city, and devastated the adjacent country, they returned home with a great number of ships. When the neighbouring Scythians perceived the booty they had acquired, they determined on making a similar attempt, and for that purpose prepared a fleet, which their captives, and others who through necessity had taken up their abode among them, assisted them in building. They resolved however not to set out as the Borani had, because it was tedious and hazardous to sail that way, and they would have to pass through places that were already plundered. They staid therefore until winter, and then leaving to their left the Euxine sea, and to the right the Ister, Tomes, and Anchialus, while their land forces marched as quickly as they could along the shore, they arrived at the lake of Phileatina, which lies to the west of Byzantium near the Pontus. Finding that the fishermen of that lake had concealed themselves and their vessels in the neighbouring fens, they made an agreement with them, to put their land forces on board the fishermen’s boats, and sailed forward in order to pass the straight between Byzantium and Chalcedon. And though there was a guard from Chalcedon as far as the temple which stands at the entrance of the Pontus, which was strong enough to overpower the Barbarians, yet some of the troops marched away under the pretext of meeting a general whom the emperor had sent there, and others were so terrified that when they first heard of it they fled with all possible precipitation. The Barbarians then crossed over, took Chalcedon without opposition, and got possession of abundance of money, arms, and provisions.
From thence they marched to Nicomedia, a great city, celebrated for its affluence; where, though the citizens on hearing of their approach had escaped with all the riches they could take with them, the Barbarians still were astonished at the vast quantity of valuables they found, and rendered great honour to Chrysogonus, who had formerly advised them to go to Nicomedia. And when they had over-run Nicaea, Cius, Apamaea, and Prusa, and treated those places in the same manner, they proceeded towards Cyzicus; but the river Rhyndacus had so overflown its banks in consequence of the violent rains that had fallen, that they were unable to cross it and were compelled to retire. Then they set fire to Nicomedia and Nicaea, and loading with their spoil waggons and ships, began to think of returning home; which terminated their second incursion.
Valerianus had by this time heard of the disturbances in Bithynia, but his district would not allow him to confide the defence of it to any of his generals. He therefore sent Felix to Byzantium, and went in person from Antioch into Cappadocia, and after he had done some injury to every city by which he passed, he returned homeward. But the plague then attacked his troops, and destroyed most of them, at the time when Sapor made an attempt upon the east, and reduced most of it into subjection. In the mean time, Valerianus became so effeminate and indolent, that he dispaired of ever recovering from the present ill state of affairs, and would have concluded the war by a present of money; had not Sapor sent back the ambassadors who were sent to him with that proposal, without their errand, desiring the emperor to come and speak with him in person concerning the affairs he wished to adjust; to which he most imprudently consented, and going without consideration to Sapor with a small retinue, to treat for a peace, was presently laid hold of by the enemy, and so ended his days in the capacity of a slave among the Persians, to the disgrace of the Roman name in all future times.
Such being the state of the east, an universal confusion and feebleness prevailed at that period. The Scythians unanimously collected into one body out of every nation and country within their territory, one part of their forces plundering Illyricum, and laying waste its towns, while the remainder penetrated into Italy as far as Rome.
Gallienus in the mean time still continued beyond the Alps, intent on the German war, while the Senate, seeing Rome in such imminent danger, armed all the soldiers that were in the city, and the strongest of the common people, and formed an army, which exceeded the Barbarians in number. This so alarmed the Barbarians, that they left Rome, but ravaged all the rest of Italy. At this period, when Illyricum groaned under the oppression of the Barbarians, and the whole Roman empire was in such a helpless state as to be on the very verge of ruin, a plague happened to break out in several of the towns, more dreadful than any that had preceded it. The miseries inflicted on them by the Barbarians were thus alleviated, even the sick esteeming themselves fortunate. The cities that had been taken by the Scythians were thus deserted.
Gallienus, being disturbed by these occurrences, was returning to Rome to relieve Italy from the war which the Scythians were thus carrying on. It was at this time, that Cecrops, a Moor, Aureolus and Antoninus, with many others, conspired against him, of whom the greater part were punished and submitted. Aureolus alone retained his animosity against the emperor.
After this, Posthumus, who commanded the Celtic army, was also inclined towards innovation, and accompanied some soldiers that revolted at the same time to Agrippina, which is the principal city on the Rhine, in which he besieged Salonius, the son of Gallienus, threatening to remain before the walls until he was given up to him. On this account the soldiers found it necessary to surrender both him and Silvanus, whom his father had appointed his guardian, both of whom Posthumus put to death, and made himself sovereign of the Celtae.
The Scythians, who had dreadfully afflicted the whole of Greece, had now taken Athens, when Gallienus advanced against those who were already in possession of Thrace, and ordered Odonathus of Palmyra, a person whose ancestors had always been highly respected by the emperors, to assist the eastern nations which were then in a very distressed condition. Accordingly, having joined to the remainder of an army that still remained in the country many of his own troops, he attacked Sapor with great boldness; and having taken several cities belonging to the Persians, he retook Nisibis also, which Sapor had formerly taken, and ravaged it at the same time. Then advancing, not once merely, but a second time, as far as Ctesiphon, he blocked up the Persians in their fortifications, and rendered them content to save their wives, their children and themselves, while he disposed of the pillaged country at his pleasure. Shortly afterwards, whilst residing at Emisa, he lost his life by a conspiracy as he was celebrating the birth-day of a friend. Zenobia then took upon her the administration of affairs. She was the wife of Odonathus, but had the courage of a man, and with the assistance of her husband’s friends, acted in every respect as well as he had done.
While affairs were thus situated in the east, intelligence was brought to Gallienus, who was then occupied in the Scythian war, that Aurelianus, or Aureolus, who was commander of the cavalry posted in the neighbourhood of Milan to watch the motions of Posthumus, had formed some new design, and was ambitious to be emperor. Being alarmed at this he went immediately to Italy, leaving the command against the Scythians with Marcianus, a person of great experience in military affairs. While he carried on the war with great ability, Gallienus, in his journey towards Italy, had a plot formed against him by Heraclianus, prefect of the court, who communicated his design to Claudius, in whom the chief management of affairs was vested. The design was to murder Gallienus. Having found a man very ready for such an undertaking, who commanded a troop of Dalmatians, he entrusted the action to him. To effect it, the party stood by Gallienus at supper and informed him that some of the spies had brought intelligence, that Aureolus and his army were close at hand. By this they considerably alarmed him. Calling immediately for his horse and arms, he mounted, ordering his men to follow him in their armour, and rode away without any attendance. Thus the captain finding him alone killed him.
When the troops were calmed by their commanders, Claudius was chosen emperor, having previously been designed for that dignity by general consent. Aureolus, who had for a long time kept himself out of the hands of Gallienus, presently sent agents to Claudius, to effect a peace. Surrendering himself, he was killed by the guards of the emperor, who still remembered the hatred they bore against him for his treachery.
The Scythians were by this time so elated by their former success, that they appointed a place of meeting with the Heruli, Peucae, and Gothi, near the river Tyra, which empties itself into the Pontus; where having built six thousand vessels, and put on board them three hundred and twenty thousand men, they sailed across the Pontus, and made an attempt on Tomes, a fortified town, but were repulsed from it. From thence they proceeded to Marcianopolis, a city of Mysia, but failing there likewise in their attack on it, they took the opportunity of a favourable wind and sailed forward. On their arrival at the streights of Propontis, they could not manage their vessels in so violent a current, and while they were carried down by it without any order, they fell foul on each other, by which some of them were sunk, and others driven on shore, to the great destruction both of men and ships. On this account the Barbarians departed from the Propontis, and sailed towards Cyzicus. Being obliged to return from thence without success, they passed through the Hellespont, and arrived at Mount Athos. Having there refitted and careened their vessels, they laid siege to Cassandria and Thessalonica, which they were near taking by means of machines which they raised against the walls. But hearing that the emperor was advancing with an army, they went into the interior, plundering all the neighbourhood of Doberus and Pelagonia. There they sustained a loss of three thousand men, who were met with by the Dalmatian cavalry, and with the rest of their force engaged the army of the emperor. Great numbers were slain in this battle on both sides, but the Romans, by a pretended flight, drew the Barbarians into an ambuscade and killed more than fifty thousand of them. The remainder of the Scythians sailed round Thessaly and Greece to pillage all the country, and as they were not strong enough to attack the towns which had fortified themselves, and provided for their own security, they carried off all the men that they found in the open country.
The Scythians being thus dispersed, with the loss of great part of their troops, Zenobia began to think of extending her dominion, and therefore sent Zabdas into Egypt, became Timagenes an Egyptian attempted to place Egypt under the government of the Palmyrenians. He had for this purpose raised an army of Palmyrenians, Syrians, and Barbarians, to the number of seventy thousand, which was opposed by fifty thousand Egyptians. A sharp engagement ensued between them, in which the Palmyrenians had greatly the advantage. He then departed, leaving them a garrison of five thousand men.
During these transactions, Probus, who had been appointed by the emperor to clear the sea of pirates, having heard of the subjugation of Egypt by the Palmyrenians, marched against them with his own forces, and with as many of the Egyptians as were averse to the Palmyrenians, and drove out their garrison. The Palmyrenians rallying with fresh forces, Probus, having levied a body of Egyptians and Africans, gained another victory, and drove the Palmyrenians out of Egypt. But as Probus was encamped on a mountain near Babylon, thereby cutting off the passage of the enemy into Syria, Timagenes, who was well acquainted with the country, seized on the summit of the mountain with two thousand men, and attacked the Egyptians by surprize. Probus being taken with the rest killed himself.
Egypt being thus reduced by the Palmyrenians, the Barbarians, who survived the battle of Naissus between Claudius and the Scythians, defending themselves with their carriages which went before them, marched towards Macedon, but were so distressed by the want of necessaries, that many of them and of their beasts perished with hunger. They were met likewise by the Roman cavalry, who having killed many of them, drove the rest towards Mount Haemus; where being surrounded by the Roman army, they lost a vast number of men. But a quarrel ensuing between the Roman horse and foot soldiers, the emperor wishing the foot to engage the Barbarians, the Romans, after a smart engagement, were defeated with considerable loss, but the cavalry, coming up immediately, redeemed in some degree the miscarriage of the infantry. After this battle, the Barbarians proceeded on their march, and were pursued by the Romans. The pirated who cruized about Crete and Rhodes retired without doing any thing worthy of mention; and being attacked by the plague on their way home, some of them died in Thrace and some in Macedon. All that survived were either admitted into the Roman legions, or had lands assigned to them for them to cultivate and so become husbandmen. Nor was the plague confined to the Barbarians alone, but began to infest the Romans, many of whom died, and amongst the rest Claudius, a person adorned with every virtue. His death was a severe loss to his subjects, and was consequently much regretted by them.
Quintillus, the brother of Claudius, was then declared emperor. He had reigned but a few months, and had performed nothing worthy of notice, before Aurelianus was raised to the imperial throne. Some writers inform us, that Quintillus was advised by his friends, as soon as they heard of Aurelianus being made emperor, to die by his own hand, and give place voluntarily to a man of so much greater merit. They report, that he complied by opening a vein and bleeding to death. Aurelianus, having regulated the empire, went from Rome to Aquileia, and from thence into Pannonia, which he was informed the Scythians were preparing to invade. For this reason he sent orders to the inhabitants of that country to carry into the towns all their corn and cattle, and every thing that could be of use to the enemy, in order to distress them with famine, with which they were already afflicted. The Barbarians having crossed the river into Pannonia had an engagement, the result of which was nearly equal. But the same night, the Barbarians recrossed the river, and as soon as day appeared, sent ambassadors to treat for peace.
The Emperor, hearing that the Alemanni and the neighbouring nations intended to over-run Italy, was with just reason more concerned for Rome and the adjacent places, than for the more remote. Having therefore ordered a sufficient force to remain for the defence of Pannonia, he marched towards Italy, and on his route, on the borders of that country, near the Ister, slew many thousands of the Barbarians in one battle. Several members of the senate being at this time accused of conspiring against the emperor were put to death; and Rome, which before had no walls, was now surrounded with them. This work was begun in the reign of Aurelianus, and was finished by Probus. At the same time Epitimius, Urbanus, and Domitianus, were likewise suspected as innovators, and were immediately apprehended and punished. During these occurrences in Italy and Pannonia, the emperor prepared to march against the Palmyrenians, who had subdued all Egypt, and the east, as far as Ancyra in Galatia, and would have acquired Bithynia even as far as Chalcedon, if the inhabitants of that country had not learned that Aurelianus was made emperor, and so shook off the Palmyrenian yoke. As soon as the emperor was on his march thither, Ancyra submitted to the Romans, and afterwards Tuana, and all the cities between that and Antioch. There finding Zenobia with a large army ready to engage, as he himself also was, he met and engaged her as honour obliged him. But observing that the Palmyrene cavalry placed great confidence in their armour, which was very strong and secure, and that they were much better horsemen than his soldiers, he planted his infantry by themselves on the other side of the Orontes. He charged his cavalry not to engage immediately with the vigourous cavalry of the Palmyrenians, but to wait for their attack, and then, pretending to fly, to continue so doing until they had wearied both the men and their horses through excess of heat and the weight of their armour; so that they could pursue them no longer. This project succeeded, and as soon as the cavalry of the emperor saw their enemy tired, and that their horses were scarcely able to stand under them, or themselves to move, they drew up the reins of their horses, and, wheeling round, charged them, and trod them under foot as they fell from their horses. By which means the slaughter was promiscuous, some falling by the sword, and others by their own and the enemies’ horses.
After this defeat, the remains of the enemy fled into Antioch, Zabdas, the general of Zenobia, fearing that the Antiochians on hearing of it should mutiny, chose a man resembling the emperor, and clothing him in a dress such as Aurelianus was accustomed to wear, led him through the city as if he had taken the emperor prisoner. By this contrivance he imposed on the Antiochians, stole out of the city by night, and took with him Zenobia with the remainder of the army to Emisa. In the meantime, the emperor was intent on his affairs, and as soon as it was day called the foot soldiers around him, intending to attack the defeated enemy on both sides; but, hearing of the escape of Zenobia, he entered Antioch, where he was joyfully received by the citizens. Finding that many had left the city, under apprehensions that they should suffer for having espoused the party of Zenobia; he published edicts in every place to recall them, and told them, that such events had happened more through necessity than of his own inclination. When this was known to the fugitives, they returned in crowds, and were kindly received by the emperor; who having arranged affairs in that city proceeded to Emisa. Finding that a party of the Palmyrenians had got possession of a hill above the suburbs of Daphne, thinking that its steepness would enable them to obstruct the enemy’s passage, he commanded his soldiers to march with their bucklers so near to each other, and in so compact a form, as to keep of any darts and stones that might be thrown at them. This being observed, as soon as they ascended the hill, being in all points equal to their adversaries, they put them to flight in such disorder, that some of them were dashed to pieces from the precipices, and others slaughtered in the pursuit by those that were on the hill, and those that were mounting it. Having gained the victory, they marched on with great satisfaction at the satisfaction at the success of the emperor, who was liberally entertained at Apamea, Larissa, and Arethusa. Finding the Palmyrene army drawn up before Emisa, amounting to seventy thousand men, consisting of Palmyrenes and their allies, he opposed to them the Dalmatian cavalry, the Moesians and Pannonians, and the Celtic legions of Noricum and Rhaetia, and besides these the choicest of the imperial regiment selected man by man, the Mauritanian horse, the Tyaneans, the Mesopotamians, the Syrians, the Phoenicians, and the Palestinians, all men of acknowledged valour; the Palestinians besides other arms wielding clubs and staves. At the commencement of the engagement, the Roman cavalry receded, lest the Palmyrenes, who exceeded them in number, and were better horsemen, should by some stratagem surround the Roman army. But the Palmyrene cavalry pursued them so fiercely, though their ranks were broken, that the event was quite contrary to the expectation of the Roman cavalry. For they were pursued by an enemy much their superior in strength, and therefore most of them fell. The foot had to bear the brunt of the action. Observing that the Palmyrenes had broken their ranks when the horse commenced their pursuit, they wheeled about, and attacked them while they were scattered and out of order. Upon which many were killed, because the one side fought with the usual weapons, while those of Palestine brought clubs and staves against coats of mail made of iron and brass. The Palmyrenes therefore ran away with the utmost precipitation, and in their flight trod each other to pieces, as if the enemy did not make sufficient slaughter; the field was filled with dead men and horses, whilst the few that could escape took refuge in the city.
Zenobia was not a little disturbed by this defeat, and therefore consulted on what measures to adopt. It was the opinion of all her friends that it would be prudent to relinquish all pretensions to Emisa, because the Emisenes were disaffected towards her and friendly to the Romans. They advised her to remain within Palmyra, and when they were in security in that strong city, they would deliberate at leisure on their important affairs. This was no sooner proposed than done, with the concurrence of the whole assembly. Aurelianus, upon hearing of the flight of Zenobia, entered Emisa, where he was cordially welcomed by the citizens, and found a treasure which Zenobia could not carry along with her. He then marched immediately to Palmyra, which he invested on every side, while his troops were supplied with provisions of every kind by the neighbouring country. Meantime the Palmyrenes only derided the Romans, as if they thought it impossible for them to take the city; and one man in particular spoke in very indecent terms of the emperor’s own person. Upon this, a Persian who stood by the emperor said, “If you will allow me, sir, you shall see me kill that insolent soldier:” to which the emperor consented, and the Persian, placing himself behind some other men that he might not be seen, shot at the man while in the act of looking over the battlements, and hit him whilst still uttering his insulting language, so that he fell down from the wall before the soldiers and the emperor. The besieged however still held out, in hopes that the enemy would withdraw for want of provisions, and persisted in their resolution, until they were themselves without necessaries. They then called a council, in which it was determined to fly to the Euphrates, and request aid of the Persians against the Romans. Having thus determined, they set Zenobia on a female camel, which is the swiftest of that kind of animals, and much more swift than horses, and conveyed her out of the city.
Aurelianus was much displeased at the escape of Zenobia; and therefore exerted all his industry to send out horsemen in pursuit of her. They succeeded in taking her, as she was crossing the Euphrates in a boat, and brought her to Aurelianus. Though much pleased at this sight, yet being of an ambitious disposition, he became uneasy at the reflection that in future ages it would not redound to his honour to have conquered a woman. Meantime some of the Palmyrenes, that were shut up in the town, resolved to expose themselves courageously, and to hazard their being made captives in defence of their city. While others on the contrary employed humble and submissive gestures from the walls, and intreated pardon for what was past. The emperor accepting these tokens, and commanding them to fear nothing, they poured out of the town with presents and sacrifices in their hands. Aurelianus paid due respect to the holy things, received their gifts, and sent them away without injury.
But having made himself master of the city, with all the treasure it contained, he returned to Emisa, where he brought Zenobia and her accomplices to a judiciary trial. Zenobia coming into court pleaded strongly in excuse of herself, and produced many persons, who had seduced her as a simple woman, and among the rest Longinus, whose writings are highly beneficial to all lovers of learning. Being found guilty of the crimes laid to his charge, he received from the emperor sentence of death, which he bore with so much courage, as to console to his friends who were much concerned at his misfortunes. Several besides Longinus suffered upon the accusation of Zenobia.
I cannot here omit to mention what happened before the ruin of Palmyra, though I profess only to write a transient history. For as Polybius informs us by what means the Romans in a short space of time attained a vast empire, it is my purpose to show on the other hand, that by their ill management in as short a time they lost it. But I am now speaking of the Palmyrenes, who, having as I related, acquired a large portion of the Roman empire, were warned by several declarations from the gods of the overthrew which they afterwards sustained. For example, at Seleucia in Cilicia there was a temple of Apollo (called there Sarpedonius) and in that temple an oracle. It is reported of this deity, that he used to give to those that were infested with locusts a species of birds, called Seleuciades, which used to hover about his temple, and would send them along with any that desired it; that these birds would fly amongst the locusts, catch them in their mouths, and in a moment destroy a vast number of them, thus delivering the people from the mischief they produced. This I ascribe to the felicity of that age; our own generation has not merited such kindness from heaven. The Palmyrenes, having consulted this oracle, to learn if they should ever gain the empire of the east, received this answer,
Accursed race! avoid my sacred fane,
Whose treach’rous deeds the angry gods disdain.
And some persons enquiring there concerning the success of the expedition of Aurelianus against the Palmyrenes, the gods told them,
One falcon many doves commands, whose end
On his destructive pounces must depend.
Another story was likewise much circulated of the Palmyrenes. Between Heliopolis and Bilbis is a place called Aphaca, where is a temple dedicated to Venus Aphacitis, and near it a pond resembling an artificial cistern. Here is frequently seen, near the temple and in the adjacent places, a fire in the air, resembling a lamp, of a round figure, which has appeared even in our time, as often as people have assembled there on particular days. Whoever resorted hither, brought to the pond some offering for the goddess, either in gold, silver, linen, silk, or any thing of like value. If she accepted it, the cloth sunk to the bottom, like substances of greater weight; but if rejected, they would float on the water; and not only cloth and such substances, but even gold, silver, or any other of those materials which usually sink. For an experiment of this miracle, the Palmyrenes, in the year before their overthrow, assembled on a festival, and threw into the pond several presents of gold, silver and cloth, in honour of the goddess, all of which sunk to the bottom. In the following year, at the same festival, they were all seen floating on the surface; by which the goddess foretold what would happen.
In this manner was the regard of heaven shewn to the Romans, as long as they kept up their sacred rites. But it is my lot to speak of these times, wherein the Roman empire degenerated to a species of barbarity, and fell to decay. I shall display the causes of such misfortunes; and point out those oracles, by which such events were predicted. I ought now to return to the place whence I digressed; lest I should appear to leave the order of history imperfect. Aurelianus marched towards Europe, carrying with him Zenobia, her son, and the rest of the confederates in this rebellion. Zenobia is said to have died, either of disease, or want of food, but the rest were all drowned in the straight between Chalcedon and Byzantium. Aurelianus continued his journey into Europe. On his route he was informed by a messenger, that a party he had left at Palmyra, having won over Apsicus, the principal author of all that was past, was tampering with Marcellinus, whom the emperor had appointed prefect of Mesopotamia and of the east, to assume to himself the imperial robe. Under pretence of taking time for deliberation, he delayed them so long, that they again importuned him repeatedly. He was forced therefore to frame ambiguous answers to their demands, until he had given notice to Aurelianus of their design. In the meantime the Palmyrenes, having clothed Antiochus in purple, continued at Palmyra. Aurelianus, being informed of this, hastened into the east, without any preparation, and arriving at Antioch, surprized all the people, who were then attending a horse-race, and were astonished at seeing him. From thence he proceeded to Palmyra, which he took and razed without a content, but not thinking Antiochus worthy of being punished, on account of the meanness of his condition, he dismissed him. After this action, he speedily reduced the Alexandrians, who were disposed to a rebellion, being already in commotion. He then entered Rome in triumph, where he was most magnificently received by the senate and people. At this period also be erected that sumptuous temple of the sun, which he ornamented with all the sacred spoils that he brought from Palmyra; placing in it the statues of the sun and Belus. After this he easily reduced Tatricus with his rebellious accomplices, whom he brought to signal punishment. He likewise called in all the counterfeit money, and issued new, to avoid confusion in trade. Besides which he bestowed on the people a gift of bread, as a mark of his favour; and having arranged all affairs set out on a journey from Rome.
During his stay at Perinthus, now called Heraclea, a conspiracy was thus formed against him. There was in the court a man named Eros, whose office was to carry out the answers of the emperor. This man had been for some fault threatened by the emperor, and put in great fear. Dreading therefore lest the emperor should realize his menaces by actions, he went to some of the guard, whom he knew to be the boldest men in the court; be told them a plausible story, and shewed them a letter of his own writing, in the character of the emperor (which he had long before learned to counterfeit), and persuading them first that they themselves were to be put to death, which was the meaning expressed by the letter, he endeavoured to prevail on them to murder the emperor. The deception answered. Observing Aurelianus to go out of the city with a small retinue, they ran out upon him and murdered him. He was buried on the spot with great magnificence by the army in consideration of the great services he had performed, and the dangers he had undergone for the good of the public.
Upon his death the empire fell into the hands of Tacitus, in whose time the Scythians crossed the Palus Maeotis, and made incursions through Pontus even into Cilicia, until he opposed them. Partly in person, and partly by Florianus, prefect of the court, whom he left in commission for that purpose, this emperor completely routed and destroyed them. He himself was going into Europe, but was thus circumvented and killed. He had committed the government of Syria to his cousin Maximinus, who treated the nobility of that country with such austerity, that he caused them both to hate and fear him. Their hatred became so excessive, that at length conspiring with the murderers of Aurelianus, they assaulted Maximinus, and having killed him, fell on and slew Tacitus also as he was upon his departure.
An universal civil disturbance now arose, those of the east chusing Probus emperor, and those at Rome Florianus. The former of these governed all Syria, Phoenicia, Palestine, and Egypt; but the latter was in possession of all the countries from Cilicia to Italy; besides which the homage of all the nations beyond the Alps, the Gauls, Spaniards, Britons, and Africans was paid to him. When both therefore were ready for war, Florianus came to Tarsus, resolving to encamp there, leaving his victory over the Scythians at the Bosphorus unfinished, by which he gave them an opportunity of recovering themselves and returning home, though he had cut off their retreat. Probus protracted the time, because he came with less preparation for a battle. By these means it came to pass, that the weather, being exceedingly hot, a pestilential disorder broke out amongst the troops of Florianus, most of whom were Europeans, and consequently unaccustomed to such excessive heat, by which many were taken off. When Probus understood this, he thought it a proper time to attack the enemy. The soldiers of Florianus, attempting what exceeded their strength, fought some slight skirmishes before the city, but nothing being done worthy of notice, some of the troops of Probus deposed Florianus. Having performed this, he was kept in custody for some time, until his own soldiers said, that it was the will of Probus that he should share the empire. Florianus therefore assumed the purple robe again, until the return of those who were sent to know the true resolution of Probus. On their arrival they caused Florianus to be killed by his own soldiers.
Probus, having thus gained the empire, marched forward, and performed a very commendable action for the public good, as a prelude to what he should afterwards do. For he resolved to punish those who had murdered Aurelianus, and conspired against Tacitus; though for fear of an insurrection he did not openly execute his design, but planted a company of men, in whom he had confidence, at a convenient post, near to which he invited the murderers to a feast. Coming there in expectation of being entertained at the emperor’s table, Probus ascended into a balcony from whence he could view the action, which he gave a signal to his men to perform. As soon as they had received it, they fell on the murderers in their defenceless state, and left only one of them alive, whom he caused afterwards to be burnt alive, as a very dangerous criminal.
While Probus was thus employed, Saturnius, a Moor, the most familiar friend of the emperor, and for that reason entrusted with the government of Syria, threw off his allegiance, and rebelled against the emperor. When Probus learned this, he resolved to frustrate his designs, but was anticipated by the soldiers in Britain, by means of Victorinus, a Moor, who had persuaded him to confer the government of Britain upon the leader of the insurgents. Having sent for Victorinus, and chosen him for his consul, he sent him to appease the disturbance; who going presently to Britain, took off the traitor by a stratagem. Having performed these affairs as I have related, Probus obtained several victories over the Barbarians in two different wars; in one of which he himself commanded, but left the other to the conduct of his lieutenant. Perceiving that it was necessary to assist the cities of Germany which lay upon the Rhine, and were harassed by the Barbarians, he inarched with his army towards that river. When the war begun there, a grievous famine prevailed throughout the surrounding country; but a heavy shower of rain and corn fell together, so that in some places were great heaps of it made by its own descent. At this prodigy, all were so astonished that at first they dared not touch the corn to satisfy their hunger; but being at length forced to it by necessity, which expels all fear, they made bread of it, which not only allayed their hunger, but enabled them to gain the victory with great case. The emperor terminated several other wars, with scarcely any trouble; and fought some fierce battles, first against the Logiones, a German nation, whom he conquered, taking Semno their general, and his son, prisoners. These he pardoned upon submission, but took from them all the captives and plunder they had acquired, and dismissed, on certain terms, not only the common soldiers, but even Semno and his son. Another of his battles was against the Franks, whom he subdued through the good conduct of his commanders. He made war on the Burgundi and the Vandili. But seeing that his forces were too weak, he endeavoured to separate those of his enemies, and engage only with apart. His design was favoured by fortune; for the armies lying on both sides of the river, the Romans challenged the Barbarians that were on the further side to fight. This so incensed them, that many of them crossed over, and fought until the Barbarians were all either slain or taken by the Romans; except a few that remained behind, who sued for peace, on condition of giving up their captives and plunder; which was acceded to. But as they did not restore all that they had taken, the emperor was so enraged, that he fell on them as they were retiring, killed many of them, and took prisoner their general Igillus. All of them that were taken alive were sent to Britain, where they settled, and were subsequently very serviceable to the emperor when any insurrection broke out. The wars upon the Rhine being thus terminated, a circumstance happened in Isauria which should not be omitted. There was an Isaurian named Lydius, who had been a robber from his youth, and with a gang like himself had committed depredations throughout Pamphylia and Lycia. This gang being attacked by the soldiers, Lydius, not being able to oppose the whole Roman army, retreated to a place in Lycia called Crymna, which stands on a precipice, and is secured on one side by large and deep ditches. Finding many who had fled there for refuge, and observing that the Romans were very intent on the siege, and that they bore the fatigue of it with great resolution, he pulled down the houses, and making the ground fit for tillage, sowed corn for the maintenance of those that were in the town. But the number being so great that they were in need of much more provisions, he turned out of the place all that were of no service, both male and female. The enemy perceiving his design forced them back again; on which Lydius threw them headlong into the trenches that surrounded the walls, where they died. Having done this, he constructed a mine, from the town beyond the enemies’ camp; through which he sent persons to steal cattle and other provisions. By these means he provided for the besieged a considerable time, until the affair was discovered to the enemy by a woman. Lydius, however, still did not despond; but gradually retrenched his men in their wine, and gave them a smaller allowance of corn. But this not answering the end, he was at length driven to such streights, that he killed all that were in the town, except a few of his adherents, sufficient as he thought to defend it, and some women, whom he ordered to be in common among them all. But when he had resolved to persevere against all dangers, there happened at length this accident. There was with him in the town a man who was expert in making engines, and in using them with such dexterity, that when Lydius ordered him to shoot a dart at any of the enemy, he never missed his aim. It happened that Lydius had ordered him to hit a particular person, whom either accidently or on purpose he missed, for which he was stripped and scourged severely, and, moreover, threatened him with death. The man was so exasperated on account of the blows he had received, and so affrighted at the menaces, that he took an opportunity to steal out of the town; and falling in with some soldiers to whom he gave an account of his actions and sufferings, he shewed them an aperture in the wall, through which Lydius used to inspect all that was done in their camp, and promised them to shoot him as he was looking through it in his usual manner. The commander of the expedition on this took the man into favour; who, having planted his engine, and placed some men before him that he might not be discovered by the enemy, took aim at Lydius as he looked through the aperture, and with a dart shot him and gave him a mortal wound. He had no sooner received this wound, than he became still more strict with some of his own men. Having enjoined them upon oath never to surrender the place, he expired with much struggling.
Ptolemais in Thebais having revolted from the emperor, and commenced a war. Probus, by the good conduct of his officers, compelled both that place and its allies to surrender. He likewise left in Thrace the Bastarnae, a Scythian people, who submitted to him, giving them land to inhabit there; on which account they observed the Roman laws and customs. But the Franks having applied to the emperor, and having a country given to them, a part of them afterwards revolted, and having collected a great number of ships, disturbed all Greece; from whence they proceeded into Sicily, to Syracuse, which they attacked, and killed many people there. At length they arrived in Africa, whence though they were repulsed by a body of men from Carthage, yet they returned home without any great loss. This circumstance likewise happened during the reign of Probus. Eighty gladiators conspiring together, and having killed their keepers, ran out into the city, and plundered all in their way, many other persons, as is usual in such cases, without doubt mixing with them. But the emperor sent a party and suppressed them. When Probus, who was a brave and just prince, had done this * * * * * * *
(The remainder of this book and the beginning of the next are lost, to supply that deficiency in the narrative we have collected from other authors this short account;) “Probus was succeeded by Carus, who marched against the Persians as far as Ctesiphon, where he received the appellation of the Persian emperor, but soon afterwards died, according to some, of a disease, though others state, that he was killed by lightning. He had two sons, Numerianus a very promising youth, from whom the state might have expected all possible happiness and good, had he not been murdered by Aper; and Carinus, a person abandoned to all kinds of vice, who was killed by Diocletian.”