Page:Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire vol 1 (1897).djvu/253

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
179
OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

invasion of Maximin. A number of deputies, chosen from the most illustrious of the senatorian and equestrian orders, were despatched at the same time to the governors of the several provinces, earnestly conjuring them to fly to the assistance of their country, and to remind the nations of their ancient ties of friendship with the Roman senate and people. The general respect with which these deputies were received, and the zeal of Italy and the provinces in favour of the senate, sufficiently prove that the subjects of Maximin were reduced to that uncommon distress, in which the body of the people has more to fear from oppression than from resistance. The consciousness of that melancholy truth inspires a degree of persevering fury seldom to be found in those civil wars which are artificially supported for the benefit of a few factious and designing leaders.[1]

Defeat and death of the two Gordians A.D. 237, 3rd July (238, April) For, while the cause of the Gordians was embraced with such diffusive ardour, the Gordians themselves were no more. The feeble court of Carthage was alarmed with the rapid approach of Capelianus, governor of Mauritania,[2] who, with a small band of veterans[3] and a fierce host of barbarians, attacked a faithful but unwarlike province. The younger Gordian sallied out to meet the enemy at the head of a few guards, and a numerous undisciplined multitude, educated in the peaceful luxury of Carthage. His useless valour served only to procure him an honourable death in the field of battle. His aged father, whose reign had not exceeded thirty-six days, put an end to his life on the first news of the defeat. Carthage, destitute of defence, opened her gates to the conqueror, and Africa was exposed to the rapacious cruelty of a slave, obliged to satisfy his unrelenting master with a large account of blood and treasure.[4]
  1. Herodian, 1. vii. p. 247 [7], 1. viii. p. 277 [6]. Hist. August, p. 156-158 [xx, 13 sqq.]. [See Corp. Insc. Lat. iii. 1422, 1423, 1456.]
  2. [Not of Mauritania, but of Numidia. See C. I. L. viii. 2170.]
  3. [The legion iii. Augusta.]
  4. Herodian, 1. vii. p. 254 [9]. Hist. August, p. 158-160 [xx. 15 sqq.]. We may observe that one month and six days for the reign of Gordian is a just correction of Casaubon and Panvinius, instead of the absurd reading of one year and six months. See Commentar. p. 193. Zosimus relates, 1. i. p. 17 [16], that the two Gordians perished by a tempest in the midst of their navigation. A strange ignorance of history, or a strange abuse of metaphors! [The date of the death of the Gordians is now known to be 238, but the month is uncertain. See Appendix 12. The meeting of the senate is stated to have taken place on the 9th June or July (see next note). It is clear that this meeting followed quickly on the news from Africa; the words of Capitolinus are — senatus prætrepidus in aedem Concordiae concurrit. Thus the view of Eckhel and Clinton that the Gordians fell in April, or March, 238, implies the rejection of this date.]