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Book I
Chapter 10

This webpage reproduces a chapter of

Italy and Her Invaders

Thomas Hodgkin

2nd edition
Oxford University Press
London, 1892

The text, and illustrations except as noted,
are in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Book I
Note F

Book 1 (continued)

Vol. I
Chapter XI

Eugenius and Arbogast


Sources: —

The ecclesiastical historians furnish us with our best materials for this part of the history. In addition to the authors of this class noticed on p280, special mention must be made of Rufinus, to whom we owe the fullest details of the destruction of the Serapeum. This author, the compatriot, friend, and afterwards bitter adversary of Jerome, was born in the neighbourhood of Aquileia (probably at Concordia) about 345, spent twenty years as a monk on the Mount of Olives, returned to Aquileia, intending to pass the last years of his life there, but was driven forth by the Gothic invasion, and died at Messina in 410. His continuation of the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius embraces the period from 324 to the death of Theodosius (395). Socrates, who to some extent built upon his foundation, complains of his chronological errors; he is extravagantly fond of relating marvels and miracles, and altogether his standpoint is that of a bigoted and credulous monk. Still he sometimes (as in the case above-mentioned, of the destruction of the Serapeum) gives us details which we find nowhere else.

We begin in this chapter to draw from a source which flows for us very copiously for the next nine years, the poet Claudian.​a Claudius Claudianus, a native of Alexandria, the years of whose birth and death are both unknown to us, appears to have come to Rome about the year 395, and to have soon established himself as a kind of poet-laureate of the young Emperor Honorius and his guardian Stilicho. His literary activity seems to have been confined to the period 395‑404. By the influence of Serena, wife of Stilicho, he obtained the hand of an African  p536 heiress, to whose estate he may possibly have retired in the early years of the century. If we may trust an inscription said to have been seen by Pomponius Laetus on the Quirinal in 1495 (recorded by Gruter, p391), Claudian received the offices of a Tribunus et Notarius, which gave him the rank of Clarissimus, and had a statue raised to him in the Forum of Trajan, 'though his poems would alone have sufficed to make his memory eternal.'

Poetry of Claudian. The literary and religious position of Claudian is interesting and peculiar. A Greek-Egyptian by birth, to whom Latin was probably a foreign tongue, he nevertheless succeeded in imitating, not altogether unsuccessfully, the great bards of Latium. Undisturbed by the memories of the Isis, Osiris, and Serapis of his fatherland, and equally disdainful of the saints and angels, the virgins and martyrs of the now dominant Christian faith, he calmly imports the stage machinery of Olympus from the pages of Homer and Virgil, and applies it without a moment's hesitation to the events of his own day, to the defeat of Maximus and the elevation of Rufinus. He attaches himself always to some powerful patron, whose exploits are all but superhuman and whose character is stainless, while the patron's enemies are painted in tints of unredeemed blackness. This utter want of atmosphere in his colouring wearies the eye, and the perpetual rhetoric of his verse palls upon the ear; but with all his faults it is to him that we must look to make the dry bones of epitomists and church historians live again before us, and though his thought may often be poor, his expression is not always unworthy of his great master, Virgil. In this power over words he may perhaps be fitly compared to our own Byron, whose apostrophe to Rome

'O Rome, my country, city of my soul!'

seems to remind one of the untranslateable grandeur of Claudian's epithet,

'Urbs aequaeva polo.'

A poet inferior in merit to Claudian, yet not devoid of poetic faculty, is Aurelius Prudentius Clemens, a Spaniard, born in 348, and as zealous on behalf of Christianity as Claudian is emphatic in his Paganism. He was trained as a rhetorician. 'Twice' (as he says) 'held the reins of power in noble cities,' and was promoted  p537 to some high position at Court. At the age of fifty-seven he resolved to retire from the service of the world, and devote himself to God's service as a Christian poet. The year of his death is unknown. The poems with which we are chiefly concerned — the two books Contra Symmachum — were composed, or, at any rate, published, ten years after the time that we have now reached, but they relate to the controversy about the Altar of Victory, the recrudescence of heathenism under Eugenius, and its final defeat by Theodosius. The literary talent of Prudentius seems to me to have been somewhat unfairly under-estimated. Gibbon (chap. xxviii n. 17) speaks of 'poetry, if it may deserve that name, of Prudentius,' and it is a common remark that in his reply to Symmachus he only versifies the arguments of Ambrose. But there are, to my thinking, many noble lines and some genuine poetry in the work in question; and though Prudentius necessarily travels over a good deal of the same ground as the Bishop of Milan, he rejects his weaker arguments and handles his stronger ones with a force and freedom which make his defence of the Christian faith far more satisfactory than his predecessor's. I can find nothing in Ambrose's polemic nearly so good as Prudentius' argument that the union of all the nations under the sceptre of Rome was ordained by God in order to prepare the way for the kingdom of Christ (II.601‑64). His allusions to Symmachus 'the glory of Roman eloquence,'

'Quo nunc nemo disertior

Exultat, fremit, intonat,

Ventisque eloquii tumet,'

are in the best style of courteous debate, and the appeal put into the mouth of Theodosius to spare the statues of the gods for their beauty's sake (I.500‑505) shows that we are here dealing with no vulgar and narrow-minded iconoclast.

(I can strongly recommend to English readers Translations from Prudentius, with an introduction and notes by Rev. F. St. John Thackeray, London, 1890.)

Guides: —

In this, as in a previous chapter, I am much indebted to Professor Lanciani's Ancient Rome in the light of recent discoveries (Boston, 1889).​b

 p538  The whole religious history of the reign of Theodosius is well presented in the Duc de Broglie's great work, L'Église et l'Empire Romain au IVe Siècle. He takes a far more favourable view of the character of Theodosius than I am able to do.

Theodosius returns to the East. In August 391 Theodosius left Italy and entered the eastern half of that which was all virtually his Empire. Valentinian II, trained by his counsels, reconciled by him to Ambrose and to orthodoxy, was now, apparently, strong enough to rule alone. The Eastern realm, over which the boy Arcadius had nominally presided, really administered by the Praetorian Prefect Tatian, an able, but not immaculate minister, might well seem now to require the largest share of the attention of the Earthly Providence.

He visits Thessalonica. Barbarians or freebooters, enough to trouble the tranquillity of the province, though not enough to effect any serious political damage, were roving up and down in Macedonia. Thither accordingly Theodosius first repaired: and to deliver Macedonia it was needful that he should take up his residence in the same place which had welcomed his dawning royalty twelve years before, the city of the Axius, Thessalonica. Willingly would we learn with what emotions, whether of penitence or of still smouldering resentment, he trod those streets which had so lately been filled with slaughter by the ministers of his cruelty; but no letter or oration here lights up our darkness. Instead, we have only a wild romantic story from Zosimus (who is silent as to the years of Emperor's residence in Italy), with reference to his exploits among the barbarian freebooters. Skirmishes with the barbarians of the marshes. These marauders, he tells us, hiding among the marshes by day and sallying forth at night for plunder, could not be exterminated by the processes  p539 of regular warfare, and the campaign against them seemed like fighting with ghosts. Theodosius, accordingly, disguising his rank, took five horsemen as his companions, each leading three or four reserve horses, and scoured the country with these. At length they came to a little lonely inn kept by an old woman, who received the unknown Emperor courteously and gave him food and shelter. In that mean abode he lay down to sleep, but as he did so he espied a mysterious and silent stranger in the sleeping room. The old woman, when questioned, denied all knowledge of the name and calling of the stranger, who was absent all day but came back each night tired and hungry. To all questions he preserved the same sullen silence: but at length Theodosius made known his rank, and ordered his soldiers to hack him to pieces with their swords. The man then confessed that he was a spy of the barbarians, who spent his days in informing them of the movements of the army, and pointing out to them when and where they might safely make their next foray. Having cut off the head of this spy, the Emperor galloped with his men to the main body of his army, which was encamped at no great distance, fell with them upon the marauders whose ambush he had thus learned, 'dragged forth some from their hiding-places in the marshes, killed others as they were in the water, and, in short, made that night a great slaughter of the barbarians.'

Defeat of Timasius and victory of Promotus. The confidence bred of this success brought upon the Imperial army a great disaster. Timasius, the Master of the Infantry under the Emperor, regaled his troops so lavishly from the spoils of the barbarians, that, while the camp was all abandoned to drunken slumber, some  p540 still unvanquished horde of freebooters came upon them, and, wreaking dire slaughter on their sleeping foes, brought for some critical moments the sacred person of the Emperor himself into jeopardy. But Promotus, the brave and wary Master of the Cavalry,​1 hastening up to the scene rescued Theodosius from his peril, and turning the tide of battle inflicted a crushing defeat on the barbarians.

Theodosius enters Constantinople. After these labours and dangers Theodosius returned to the splendid repose of the city which he probably loved best of any in his Empire. It was on the 10th of November, 391, that he, with his little son Honorius, entered Constantinople, passing through the Golden Gate, the Gate of Conquest, which he himself had gilded in honour of his victory over Maximus, and was slowly drawn by harnessed elephants through acclaiming crowds, till he reached the palace of the welcoming Arcadius.2

Ascendancy of Rufinus. When Theodosius was once again established in his Eastern capital, and when the pageants and the feastings which commemorated his return​3 were ended he took again into his hand the dropped strings of administration: and now the influence of Rufinus, the  p541 new counsellor whom he had brought with him from the West, became quickly manifest. The two great Civil officers, Tatian, Consul for the year and Praetorian Prefect of the East, and his son Proclus, Prefect of the City, who had been practically regents during the absence of Theodosius; the two great military commanders, Promotus and Timasius, one of whom had lately saved the Emperor himself in the night attack of the barbarians; all found themselves treated with the insolence of a conscious favourite by the upstart Gascon. High words and stormy discussions were frequent in the Imperial Consistory. During one of these scenes the language used by Rufinus was so audacious, that Promotus, who was assailed by it, forgot what was due to the Sacred Presence-chamber and slapped his adversary in the face. Rufinus at once presented himself before the Emperor with his cheek yet red from the palm of Promotus, and Theodosius, coming forth in a rage, told the trembling Counsellors that if they would not lay aside their jealousy of Rufinus they should soon see him wearing the diadem.​4 Disgrace and death of Promotus. By the favourite's influence Promotus was soon ordered off to the dreary Danubian frontier, and fell a victim to some barbarian assassins who waylaid him on the journey. His death was attributed, but probably without justice, to the machinations of Rufinus.

Fall of Tatian and Proclus. Tatian and his son still stood in the way of the upward-pushing favourite, who was already designated  p542 as Consul for the next year (392), but who also aspired to the great place of Praetorian Prefect of the East. The administration of the father and son had perhaps not been altogether spotless, but on the whole they appear to have been faithful servants of Theodosius.​5 However, the ambition of Rufinus required their removal, and Theodosius, in the blindness of his favouritism, nominated the Gascon member of a commission which was to try the very men for whose offices he hungered. Tatian was of course deprived of his dignity. Proclus, hearing of the commencement of the trial, fled the country. He was tempted back again by promises, oaths, assurances of friendly intentions, in which even Theodosius is accused of having participated. Once back in the power of his enemies he was thrown into prison, and, after appearing many times before his judges, was sentenced to death. Theodosius, relenting, sent a message of pardon, but Rufinus took good care that the bearer of it should be slower than the messenger of vengeance, and Proclus was beheaded in the suburb of Sycae, where now the streets of many-nationed Galata border on the Golden Horn. As for the aged Tatian he was banished in disgrace to his native Lycia. And not only so, but by a strange act of tyranny, less cruel indeed but not more logical than the massacre of Thessalonica, all other natives of the province of Lycia were for Tatian's fault rendered  p543 incapable of rising to the higher dignities of the State.6

Campaign against heathenism. In the East as in the West the campaign of crowned and triumphant Christianity against the out‑worn creeds of heathenism was being actively pursued. We should, perhaps, say more actively in the East than in the West, since in few Oriental cities was there that scornful hate of the new faith which still lingered in the palaces of the Roman aristocracy. It has been already mentioned​7 that Cynegius, one of the highest ministers of the State, had been despatched to Egypt (probably about the year 384) to close the temples dedicated to heathen worship, and it seems that his commission, though primarily applicable to Egypt, had reference also to other Eastern provinces. The order then given, however, was only to close, not to demolish the temples. It might be hoped that when the smoke of the incense no longer curled round the feet of the sacred statues, when the steps of the temple were no longer worn by the feet of eager worshippers, and a rusty chain closed the gates of the pronaos, the sanctuaries left in dingy desolation would cease to possess any fascination for the minds of their former visitants. In one case, however, at any rate, the heathen temple was still mighty enough to be dangerous, and was still the object of an enthusiasm which proved its ruin.

The Serapeum of Alexandria. The stately Serapeum of Alexandria, rising on that little eminence where now stands the lonely pillar of  p544 Diocletian,​8 over­looking from afar the busy harbour and the historic Pharos, was the proudest monument reared by the Greek Ptolemies in honour of that Egyptian worship to which they paid their politic homage. The temple stood on a great square platform, to which the worshippers ascended by one hundred steps. Many shrines, and chapels, and vestries, and cells for hierophants surrounded the main building, which rose in pillared magnificence in the centre, a mountain of marble, which we cannot help mentally comparing with the Temple at Jerusalem, and which a Roman historian​9 who beheld its glory thought unsurpassed save by the Capitol. In the innermost recess stood the statue of the god Serapis, that compound divinity formed of Osiris and Apis, whom the Ptolemies set forth for the adoration of their subjects. So gigantic was the statue that the right hand touched one wall and the left hand the other, of the great hall in which it stood. Plates of brass, of silver, and of gold lined the walls of that spacious hall, and there was one tiny window through which on a certain day the beams of the rising sun were poured, as the priests said, 'in salutation of Serapis.' But the statue itself, though overlaid with gold and silver and studded with sapphires, with topazes and with emeralds, bore the impress of the barbaric East in its form as well as in its gorgeous magnificence: for the head was not like the majestic Zeus of Olympia, but a monstrous medley of a lion's head in the centre with a ravening wolf on its left side and a fawning dog on  p545 its right. So had the strange symbolic animal-worship of Egypt prevailed over the instincts of beauty in the mind of the Greek artist who fashioned the image of Serapis.

The heathen garrison of the temple. Theophilus, the Bishop of Alexandria, a restless and ambitious man, had aroused the wrath of the still considerable heathen population of the city by his exposure of the mechanical contrivances whereby the priests had been wont to work miracles in one of their temples. The idolaters, who knew of the war which a devout Emperor was waging against their worship, felt that they were being driven to the last ditch in the defence of their ancestral faith. They assembled in the still strong and stately Serapeum, and making that their citadel, sallied forth at intervals into the streets and squares of the city, did battle with the excited Christians (among whom the fanatical monks from the desert were probably conspicuous), and then returned into their stronghold, often dragging with them a number of Christian captives, whom rumour accused them, probably without truth, of torturing in the recesses of the Serapeum. Two grammarians, Helladius and Ammonius, were captains in this religious war, but the General, as we may term him, was a man named Olympius, clad in a philosopher's cloak, who seems to have been an orator of considerable power. Now he was lashing his hearers to fury, telling them that 'they ought to die rather than neglect the god of their fathers.' Then, in calmer tone, he reasoned with them as to the theory of idolatry. 'Be not dismayed,' said he, 'if some of the statues of the gods are overthrown and destroyed by the Nazarenes. Of course the statues are made of corruptible things, and are subject to decay: but they  p546 typify a divine and indestructible power which escapes from the broken image, even as the soul of man flies from its shattered tenement and returns to the heavens whence it first descended.'​10 Feebleness of the authorities at Alexandria. While these commotions were occurring, and while the blood of Roman citizens was being actually shed on one side or the other, the Praetorian prefect and the Master of the Soldiery feebly represented the outraged majesty of the laws. They visited the temple, and mildly enquired of its disorderly garrison what was the cause of their insurrection, and why they were so daring as to shed the blood of their fellow-citizens. A confused and angry murmur was the only reply, and they retired to make a report of all these proceedings to Theodosius. It is probable, though the Church historians do not inform us of the fact, that the authority of these Imperial officers was set at nought by Theophilus and his monks as much as by Olympius and the idolaters. During the weeks or months that were required for messages to go and return between Alexandria and Milan (for these events probably occurred while Theodosius was still in Italy) a sullen truce perhaps prevailed between the Cathedral and the Serapeum. The order for the demolition of the Serapeum arrives from Theodosius. At length the Imperial rescript arrived, a wiser and more temperate document than might have been expected from the chastiser of Thessalonica. 'The Christians who have fallen in these disturbances are martyrs. Their blessed state exempts us from the necessity of seeking to avenge their blood: and accordingly free pardon is given to the idolaters who have been concerned in the late disturbances. But we condemn the vain superstition of the Gentiles, and we order  p547 the destruction of their temple.' A loud shout of applause burst from the Christians when they heard these words, and they proceeded straightway to the temple to put the edict in force. The defenders heard the shouts and were dismayed. Olympius, it was said, had heard on the previous night the voices of unseen spirits singing Alleluia in the very presence of the three-headed idol, and silently, and by stealth, had quitted the temple and embarked for Italy.

The temple destroyed. The Church Militant, with Theophilus at its head, entered the doomed sanctuary. The assailants pressed through the corridors, the chapels, the cells of the hierophants, they entered the great hall where stood the mighty beast-statue, which had been saluted for the last time by the rising sun. Even in that Christian multitude there were many who looked upon it with awe, remembering an ancient prophecy, that if anyone approached that statue an earthquake would follow in which the whole world would be swallowed up. Theophilus smiled with contempt at these old wives' fables, and, beckoning to a soldier, ordered him to strike the statue. Full of faith the soldier raised his axe, and brought it down with all his force on the idol's jaw. The people shrieked with fear, but their panic was turned into laughter when from the broken head a troop of frightened mice came running forth. The soldier struck again and again. Fire was applied to hasten the work of destruction. The legs and feet were chopped off and dragged through the streets, the head was exhibited in scorn to its late worshippers, and, last of all, the huge trunk of the idol was drawn to the great amphitheatre and there burned in the presence of a vast concourse of people.

 p548  As the work of demolition went forward the secret mechanism of the temple, and all the pretty artifices of miraculous fraud were laid bare to the vulgar gaze. A Christian Basilica was built among the ruins of the overthrown sanctuary. It, too, has had its day, and now neither Christ nor Serapis is worshipped on the bare hill-slope where once stood the splendid Serapeum.11

From the destruction of temples we return to the fall of thrones. It was probably in the month of June, 392, in the midst of the palace revolution which gave to Rufinus the Praetorian mantle of Tatian, that disastrous tidings arrived at Constantinople, informing Theodosius that another of his young colleagues, the last male representative of the house of Valentinian, had been cut off in the dawn of his manhood.

Character of Valentinian II. Valentinian II, like his brother Gratian, is one of those princes on whose characters it is difficult for history to pronounce judgment, because she sees but the half-opened bud and can only guess at the fashion of the flower. In the earlier part of his reign he of course represented merely the beliefs or misbeliefs, the usurpations or the grievances of his mother, the beautiful but impulsive Justina. Her influence was now removed; the arguments of Theodosius, founded chiefly on such mundane considerations as the prosperity of the orthodox Constantine and the tragical end of the heterodox Valens,​12 had won him over to the creed of Nicaea, and he spent the last year of his life in warm friendship  p549 with his old antagonist Ambrose; a friendship which was maintained by frequent letters, when the young Emperor quitted Milan in order to superintend for a time the defence and government of Gaul. Valentinian delighted the soul of the great churchman, not only by his new‑born orthodoxy, but by the spotless purity of his morals. When he heard that a certain actress in Rome was ruining many of the young nobles by her fatal charms, he sent her a twofold summons to the Imperial Court (the first messenger having been bribed to withhold his message), refused to see her himself, and sent back the humbled Delilah with a severe reprimand to the Eternal City. He was at one time accused of giving too much of his attention to the combats of the Amphitheatre; and having heard that this part of his conduct excited reprobation, he suddenly gave up that pastime, and ordered all the beasts which had been collected for the purpose to be at once slain. He loved his two unmarried sisters, Justa and Grata, with devotion. It was considered a distinguished mark of Imperial condescension that he bestowed upon them those innocent caresses which brothers in a humbler position usually confer upon their sisters.​13 Though he had attained his twentieth year, for their sake he still postponed wedlock.

The picture here brought before us seems to be that of an amiable, if somewhat limited, nature, with some of the weakness, but little of the passionate selfishness, which is often found in those who are born in the purple. But we remember the strain of wild and savage cruelty, bordering on insanity, which marred the noble  p550 nature of his father, and we see in the closing scenes of the life of Valentinian II some lack of that strong and steady patience which made Edward III of England, and Charles VII of France, victorious over their fathers' foes.

Virtual regency of Arbogast the Frank. The position in which the young Emperor was left when his mentor and colleague returned within the limits of the Eastern Empire was doubtless a difficult one. He never had yet really ruled. First Justina, and then Theodosius, had guided the helm of the State, while he sat on deck under a silken canopy. Nor had Theodosius intended that the real stress of administration or of war should fall as yet on those boyish shoulders. Bauto, as we have seen, having been apparently for some years dead,​14 the chief command of the western armies and the chief place in the Imperial Councils was assigned to that other valiant Frankish captain, Arbogast, who had shared in the command of the army of Gratian in the Pannonian campaign of 380,​15 of the Theodosian army in the campaign against Maximus, and who had put to death the young and vanquished Victor in Gaul after the downfall of the usurper.​16 This man, now practically chief ruler of Europe west of the Adriatic, belonged apparently to a sort of clan of fortunate barbarians. If the information given us by a somewhat late historian​17 may be depended  p551 upon, he was himself the son of Count Bauto and the nephew of Count Richomer. He was still probably in the vigour of early manhood, a man of reckless courage, a master of the art of war, 'flame-like' in his all‑conquering energy, and adored by his men, not merely for his other soldierly qualities, but especially because they saw that this rugged Frank cared not for gold and was quite inaccessible to all those paltry bribes which were continually soiling the hands of the Generals of Roman extraction. But with many good qualities the man was still a hard, rough, barbarian at heart, intensely fond of power, and impatient of the deference which Imperial etiquette required him to pay to the young and delicately nurtured Augustus, his nominal master. Perhaps, too, even the domestic virtues of Valentinian II, his piety, his chastity, his affection for his sisters, earned for him contempt rather than respect from this hard-featured son of the forest and the camp.

Masterful conduct of Arbogast. Arbogast, we are told,​18 laid violent hands on many of the Emperor's chosen councillors, yet none dared hinder him on account of his renown in war. Probably if we had his version of the story we should learn  p552 that these were corrupt and avaricious men, who had abused the opportunities afforded them by the long minority of the Sovereign. One of these intimate counsellors, who had at least been accused of receiving bribes, was a certain Harmonius,​19 who had the misfortune to offend the all‑powerful Frank. Arbogast drew his sword and Harmonius fled for refuge to the secretum of the Emperor. Even thither the angry barbarian pursued him, and while he was actually covered with the purple of the sovereign the avenging sword was driven through his heart. From that day there was suspicion and scarcely veiled hostility between Valentinian and his too powerful servant.

Valentinian vainly attempts to dismiss him. The young Emperor sent secret messages to his colleague, Theodosius, informing him that he could no longer endure the insolence of Arbogast and praying for assistance against him. Possibly the reply was less speedy or less favourable than Valentinian expected, for he determined to try what that 'master­ship of the world' which State-papers attributed to him was worth, and to see if he could not by his own power rid himself of his tyrannical minister. One day, when he was seated on his throne in full consistory, he put as much severity as he could muster into his boyish features​20 and handed to Arbogast a writing which relieved him from his office of Master of the Soldiery. When the barbarian had spelled  p553 through the wordy document, he tore it in pieces with his nails,​21 trampled the fragments under foot, drew his sword, and, with a voice like the roar of a lion, said, 'Thou neither gavest me this office, nor shalt thou succeed in taking it from me.' With that he turned on his heel and left the consistory.

The court of Valentinian deserted. This scene occurred at Vienne by the Rhone, whither Valentinian had gone in the train of the all‑powerful Master of the Soldiery to assist in providing for the defence of Gaul from the barbarians. But while the inroads of hostile barbarians might be repelled, their peaceful invasion went successfully forward. After this failure to dislodge Arbogast, the palace of Valentinian was almost deserted, and he lived with little more pomp than a private citizen. Commands in the army, dignities in the state, were freely bestowed on the client, and especially the Frankish clients, of Arbogast, while the entreaties and commands of the young Roman Augustus fell on unheeding ears.22

To a young and high-spirited monarch, mocked with the shadow of power and denied the reality, the situation was rapidly becoming intolerable. One day, when Arbogast appeared before him in the palace, roused by some insulting speech, Valentinian drew his sword and seemed about to attack him. A servant who stood by held his arm, and then when Arbogast — perhaps with a sneer — asked what he had meant to do with his unsheathed sword, 'I meant it for myself,' said the over-wrought lad,  p554 'because though I am Emperor I am not allowed to do what I will.'23

Valentinian begs Ambrose to come to him. The health and the spirits of Valentinian were failing: he probably believed his life to be in danger, and since Theodosius was slow to help, he begged his old antagonist, but now dearly loved and honoured friend, Ambrose, to cross the Alps without delay and administer to him the rite of baptism. Besides his fear of dying unbaptized, there was probably working in Valentinian's mind some secret hope that this marvellous prelate, who had obtained an ascendancy over Justina, over Maximus, even over Theodosius himself, might be able to deliver him from the rage of the terrible Arbogast.​24 In fact he added to the petition for baptism a request that Ambrose would be a pledge for his friendly intentions towards 'his Count,' in other words would mediate between the sovereign and his minister.

Mysterious death of Valentinian. The Silentiarius25 who was charged with this message started at evening for Milan. On the morning of the third day after his departure Valentinian, who was evidently in a state of feverish excitement, asked if he had yet returned, if Ambrose had already come. Alas! though the Bishop does not seem to have lingered unduly, he had but just surmounted the crest of the Alps when he learned that his labour was vain and that he must return to Milan. 15 May, 392. The young Emperor had been found dead in the palace, 'self-slain' said  p555 the defendants of Arbogast, 'murdered by the Count's order' has been the general voice of history.26

Arbogast proclaims Eugenius, the rhetorician, Emperor. Though Arbogast was already virtual ruler of the West, and though the death of the young Emperor in no way shook his hold upon the army or the civil functionaries, who obsequiously obeyed him, it was necessary that some one should be found to wear the purple and sign the Imperial decrees, some one also who might demand from Theodosius recognition as his colleague. The remembrance of Arbogast's barbarian extraction was too vivid to make it politic for him to assume the semblance as well as the substance of Imperial power. 235 Since the days of Maximin the Thracian, the murderer of the young Severus Alexander, no full-blooded barbarian had been hailed as Imperator by the troops, and that precedent afforded by the wild tyranny of that savage Thracian was not encouraging. In these circumstances the choice made by Arbogast of an Imperial cipher was a singular one. There was a certain rhetorician named Eugenius who, having once 'occupied,' as a historian says, 'the sophistical throne and being of much account for his eloquence,'​27 in other words being a professor of some eminence, had attracted the notice of Count Richomer, had been by him recommended to his nephew Arbogast as a dexterous and supple subordinate, had been introduced into the civil service, and was now holding a 'respectable' but not illustrious place in the official hierarchy.28  p556 This man, who seems to have borne an unblemished character, besides possessing a fair amount of literary ability, and was just the sort of person who, if he had never donned the fatal Nessus-garment of the purple, might have glided happily enough through life to an undistinguished grave, had been already assailed by Arbogast with the tempting offer of the diadem. Eugenius however refused to accept the dangerous gift, and apparently, so long as Valentinian lived, he persisted in this refusal. After the tragedy in the palace at Vienne he consented, as his tempter expressed it, no longer to throw away the gifts of Fortune.' The usual donative was no doubt given to the army, the acclamations of the soldiers were ready for any one whom their adored general should present to them as his choice, and the clever professor, hailed by the troops as Imperator and Augustus, found himself promoted almost at a bound from 'the sophistical throne' to the throne of the universe, — a strange revolution indeed which, in the scarcely exaggerated language of the poet Claudian,

'Made the barbarian's lackey lord of all.'​29

Funeral rites of Valentinian. The news of Valentinian's death was probably brought to Theodosius by a messenger whom Ambrose sent to learn the Imperial pleasure as to the manner of disposing of the corpse of the young Emperor. Less brutal than Maximus, Arbogast had permitted the body  p557 of his late sovereign to be transported to Milan, where it lay probably in some chapel awaiting burial, and was daily visited by the weeping sisters Justa and Grata. Pale and tearful always, they came back from these said visitations paler than ever, and for their sakes Ambrose pleaded for an early interment, even though the rite might lack some of the gorgeous pageantry with which the body of Valentinian, the father, had been deposited in the Church of the Apostles. Theodosius at once consented. There was a vast porphyry sarcophagus at Milan, resembling that in which the rough soldier Maximian, colleague of Diocletian, had been at last laid to rest after his stormy old age, and herein the young Emperor was inurned, his remains being covered with slabs of most precious porphyry. Ambrose's oration, De Obitu Valentiniani. Ambrose pronounced in his honour a funeral oration, in which some rather commonplace consolations, addressed to the weeping sisters, were mingled with passages of real and pathetic eloquence.

'How are the mighty fallen! How far more swiftly have the wheels of both lives run down than the current of Rhone himself! Oh Gratian and Valentinian! my beautiful and beloved ones! in what narrow limits were your lives confined! How near the places of your dying! How close together your sepulchres! Inseparable in heart while you lived, in death you are not divided. Harmless ye were as doves, swift as eagles, innocent as lambs. The arrow of Gratian turned not back, and the justice of Valentinian returned not empty. How have the mighty fallen without fighting!

'I grieve for thee, my son Gratian, whose love was very sweet to me. In thy perils thou didst ask for me: in thy last extremity thou didst call upon me; thou  p558 didst sorrow for my sorrow more than for thine own. I grieve for thee too, son Valentinian, who wast very beautiful in mine eyes. Through me didst thou think to be delivered from danger: thou didst love me not only as a father but as they redeemer and liberator. Thou saidst, 'Think you that I shall see my father!" Alas! that I did not earlier know thy desire. Alas! that thou didst not sooner in secret send for me. Ah me! what pledges of love have I lost! "How are the mighty fallen and the weapons of war perished!" '

Galla urges Theodosius to avenge her brother's death. Though Justa and Grata could only weep timid tears for their vanished brother, it may easily be imagined that Galla, the wife of the Lord of the East, thought not of sorrow only but of revenge. When she heard of the death of her brother she filled the palace with her cries, and doubtless during the short remainder of his life she ceased not to adjure Theodosius by every motive of gratitude, of honour, and of kinship to avenge the blood of Valentinian. Embassy from Eugenius to Theodosius. Towards the end of 392 an embassy from the Emperor Eugenius appeared at the Court of Constantinople. The chief spokesman was an Athenian named Rufinus — a different person of course from the minister of Theodosius — who, no doubt, pleaded eloquently for peace between the different members of the same Republic, while several obsequious Gaulish Bishops — the same sort of vermin that had applauded the execution of Priscillian and condemned the uncourtliness of Martin — conveyed to Theodosius their valuable assurances that Arbogast was innocent of the death of his colleague.

To this embassy the Eastern Emperor made a diplomatic reply, not accepting the proffered friendship of the Professor in the purple, nor yet openly threatening  p559 war, which nevertheless all the Roman world probably knew to be inevitable.

Delay on the part of Theodosius. Was it caution, was it indolence, was it reluctance to array one half of the Empire in battle against the other half which again, as in the war against Maximus, caused such inexplicable delay in the movements of Theodosius? Certainly he had some excuse for hesitation, for Arbogast, the 'flame-like' Frank, was, as he well knew, no mere intriguer like Maximus, but a brave and well-tried soldier, probably now the best general in the Empire, for the veteran Richomer (his kinsman according to the historian before-quoted)​30 died at Constantinople shortly before the commencement of the war. But whatever the cause, it is clear that more than two years elapsed after the death of Valentinian II before his brother-in‑law stood with an avenging army on the soil of Italy.

Paganising policy of Eugenius and Arbogast. These two years of waiting were employed by Arbogast and his puppet-Emperor doubtless for the most part in warlike preparations. They were occupied partly by a campaign beyond the Rhine which compelled the Alamanni and the Franks to sue once more for peace with the Empire. But they were also signalised by an attempt such as that which Julian had made thirty years before to roll back the current of men's thoughts into the deserted channels of Paganism. Eugenius, nominally a Christian, but essentially a rhetorician, was willing as a matter of policy to give another lease of existence to the Olympian gods whose names and rivalries and amours he had himself doubtless interwoven many a time as conventional commonplaces in his orations. And his patron Arbogast, probably still,  p560 like the rest of his Frankish countrymen, a heathen, certainly no friend to Christian Bishops and the Christian clergy, was also willing, nay eager, to conciliate the old Conservative aristocracy of Rome by rebuilding the fallen altars and opening again the dust-begrimed temples of their ancestors. Thus did Odin lend a helping hand to the battered Jupiter of the Capitol and assist him to reascend, and for a little while to maintain, his tottering throne.

The heathenism of the Mediterranean countries was all concentrated in the city by the Tiber. It had taken refuge in that old home of Empire as Jews, when Jerusalem was besieged by Titus, took refuge in the Temple of Jehovah, and there it was prepared to make its last desperate stand against the new faith to try

'What reinforcements it might gain from hope,

If not, what resolution from despair.'

We have seen with what strange pertinacity the Senators had urged on successive Emperors their petition for the restoration of the Altar of Victory. During the last sad months of the young Valentinian's life another deputation had waited upon him in Gaul with the same monotonous request, and had received a rebuff which showed that even when not fortified by the presence of Ambrose, Valentinian could, in religious matters, hold his own against the terrible Arbogast. Now, after the accession of Eugenius, they again appeared, preferring the same request. Liberty to re‑erect the altar seems to have been at once conceded. The closed temples of the gods were also opened without delay. It was a harder matter to obtain the restoration of the revenues which had formerly been  p561 devoted to the service of the temples, but which had perhaps now been confiscated to the Imperial exchequer. Twice did a deputation plead in vain for this concession, but at length, when Arbogast also condescended to endorse the petition, Eugenius unbent from his sternness and granted the Temple-revenues, not ostensibly to the Temple-service, but to the petitioners themselves, leaving it to them to bestow these revenues on the gods of the heathen if they were disposed so to do.​31 So might some Stuart king, secretly inclined to the old religion, have re‑granted certain abbey-lands, not directly to one of the old monastic orders, but to some devout Roman Catholic courtier, well knowing that he, on the first opportunity, would re‑convey them to the old uses.

Flavianus, a leader of the Pagan party. A leading member of the deputation which obtained these important concessions from the new Emperor was Virius Nicomachus Flavianus, Praetorian Prefect of Italy. This Roman nobleman, who at the time of the accession of Eugenius was verging on the sixtieth year of his age, has been made strangely real to us by a recent discovery. He was a cousin of Symmachus, and was yet more closely connected with him through the marriage of their children, the son of Symmachus having married the daughter of Flavianus. But the ninety‑one letters addressed to Flavianus by his kinsman Symmachus, though they slightly illustrate the changes in the fortunes of the receiver, and though they have some interest as representing the croakings of one old Roman raven to another over the downfall of the religion and customs of their forefathers, do not add much to our knowledge of the career and character of  p562 Flavianus. Far more valuable for our purpose is a frantic and bitter libel upon him, the work evidently of a Christian scribe, which has lately been discovered at the end of a MS. of the poems of Prudentius.​32 The author repeats in sonorous and tolerably lucid hexameters the commonplaces of Christian apologists as to the disreputable lives of the gods of Olympus. But when from Jupiter and Venus he descends to Flavianus (not named but clearly indicated) he is so furious as to be barely intelligible. Only we can perceive that Flavianus, like most of the pagans of his day, was very eclectic in his religion. No cult seems to have been unwelcome so long as it was not the cult of the Christians. He was 'a worshipper of Serapis, ever friendly to the Etruscans, and learned in their science of infusing poison into the veins.'​33 He had submitted, like many Roman Senators of his day to the disgusting rite of Taurobolium, a literal baptism of blood which formed part of the worship of Mithras, and which, like other rites of that oriental superstition, seems to have aped and exaggerated the symbolic rites of Christianity.34  p563 He took part apparently in the mystic procession on the 5th of March, when the goddess Isis, accompanied by a long train of priests arrayed in white linen, set sail on the Tiber in quest of the slain Osiris. In the seven days' feast of the Great Goddess,​35 Cybele, he, with other Senators, guarded her chariot and pushed on the silver lions which appeared to draw the Mother of the Gods. And, reviving the long-discontinued festival of the Amburbium, a festival which apparently had fallen into disuse since 270‑275 the time of Aurelian, he caused the priests to march in solemn procession round the city​36 with three victims, a sow, a sheep, and a bull, which at the end of the ceremony were offered up on the altars of Mother Earth and of Ceres or of Father Mars. The old wooden statues of the gods were perhaps brought forth and placed on couches in the streets and fora of the city, with costly viands set out on tables before them and incense burning under their nostrils:​37 and the merry but indecent dances with which men and women had once celebrated the gay rites of Flora again twinkled through the streets.38

 p564  The populace of Rome, who for at least two generations had been accustomed to think of Paganism as a defeated religion, existing only by sufferance and celebrating its rites by stealth, were doubtless amazed to see it thus stalking abroad again in full day‑light and asserting itself as the religion of the State. There does not seem to have been any persecution of the Christians, but inducements were not wanting to prevail upon time-servers to desert their faith. One man​39 was persuaded to apostasise by a commission to administer the Imperial domain in Africa, another by the Proconsulate of that wealthy province.​40 The old faith in auguries too began to revive. Flavianus, who was undoubtedly a learned man according to the standard of that age, had studied deeply the old treatises on divination and was perpetually turning over with curious eyes the entrails of the sacrificial victims to read there the will of the gods. Like most augurs, especially political augurs, he could read there the omens which he most desired, and he confidently  p565 assured Eugenius that in the war, which almost men knew to be impending, he should conquer and the religion of the Nazarene should be overthrown.

Anti-Pagan legislation of Theodosius. Of course there was deep indignation in all Christian hearts at these puny attempts to imitate the mighty Apostate. Theodosius, as if to emphasize his unshaken loyalty to the Christian faith, put forth, in November 392, only a few months after he had heard of the death of his young colleague, an edict against idolatry.​41 No one in any station of life, high or low, was to be permitted to offer up innocent victims to senseless idols, nor in the secrecy of his home to seek to propitiate the Lares by fire, the Genius with wine, or the Penates with sweet incense, to kindle sacrificial lights, to throw frankincense on the fire, nor to hang up garlands. The attempt to derive auguries from the examination of the steaming entrails of a sacrifice was pronounced an act of treason against the Emperor; and all places from which the smoke of incense had ascended in honour of an idol were to be confiscated to the Emperor's use. Clearly if the Old Rome was inclined to rebuild the altars of the Capitol, the New Rome would keep the faith of the Cross inviolate.

Ambrose is still erect. In Italy Ambrose withdrew from contact with the powers of darkness. Like Milton's Abdiel,

'Amid innumerable false he stood

Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified.'

He left Milan when Eugenius approached it; he retired to Bologna, to Faenza, finally to Florence. From thence he wrote one of his noblest letters​42 to the new Emperor, describing the earlier phases of the discussion  p566 about the Altar of Victory, and sharply rebuking him for being less true to his Christian faith than either of the young sovereigns, Gratian and Valentinian. 'Though the Imperial power be great, yet consider, oh Emperor, how great is God. He sees the hearts of all, He questions their innermost consciences. He knows all deeds before they are done. He knows the secrets of thy breast. You monarchs will not allow one of your subjects to deceive you and think ye that ye can hide anything from God?'

The relations between the upstart Emperor and the self-exiled Bishop grew doubtless more hostile all through the year 393, and when at length in the summer of 394 Arbogast set forth to war with Theodosius, he and the Prefect Flavianus said in the haughtiness of their hearts as they passed out from the gates of Milan: 'When we come back we will stable our horses in the great Basilica, and all these sleek churchmen shall be drilled to arms by our centurions.' And yet even Arbogast might have learned how mighty and all‑pervading was the power which he had thus arrayed against himself and his Imperial puppet. For in the campaign against the Franks of the Rhine, which probably filled up the summer of 393, he had met one of the many kings of that fierce tribe, who asked him 'Dost thou know Ambrose?' 'Yes,' said Arbogast, 'I know him and he loves me well, and I have often dined with him.' 'Then that is the cause, Sir Count, why you have conquered me, because you are loved by that man who says to the Sun, "Stand still," and it stands.' Already the fame of a great saint had learned to travel over mountains and rivers: already superstitious fears were creeping behind the mail of barbarian  p567 kings and making them feel that it was dangerous to war against the God of the Christians.43

Honorius associated in the Empire. Meanwhile, Theodosius with leisurely calmness, but also with unshaken determination, was making his preparations for the great campaign. All through the year 393 the movement of troops along the roads, and the clang of the armourer's hammer in the arsenals of the East, gave token of the coming fray. In order to secure the succession to his own family, and to mark more emphatically that he recognised no colleague in the rhetorician Eugenius, he associated his younger son Honorius, a boy of nine years old, as Augustus with himself and Arcadius.​44 The people of Constantinople saw with superstitious fear a darkness, almost like that of night, overspread the city on the morning of the ceremony which marked this event. The south wind blew up dense masses of cloud from the Bithynian plains and all the shores of the Bosphorus were wrapped in obscurity. But then, when the soldiers were acclaiming the new Augustus, suddenly the clouds dispersed, Chalcedon again became visible from the capital, and the returning gladness of Nature was hailed as an  p568 augury of happiest promise for the reign of the princely child. Unfortunately, the Roman Empire had reason in after days to look upon the darkness rather than the radiance as a type of the long and disastrous reign of Honorius.

Mission of Eutropius to the Egyptian hermit, John. Though he felt that the war was inevitable, Theodosius had a strange reluctance to commence it. Ill‑health was perhaps already depressing his spirits and making him shrink from the labours and dangers of a campaign. By his own experience of Arbogast as a subordinate he knew how formidable he would be as an antagonist, far more formidable than that mere camp-demagogue and trader in mutiny, Maximus. The road over the Julian Alps, as he well knew, would not be traversed so easily as it had been in 388, for now Arbogast, forewarned of the danger, had stationed some of his best troops to dispute the passage. With an anxious desire to read what Providence might have written on the yet unturned page of his fortunes, Theodosius sent a member of his household, the Eunuch Eutropius, to a cave in the island Egyptian Thebaid to consult the holy hermit John, a man who had the reputation of performing miraculous cures and foretelling future events. The hermit steadfastly declined an invitation to quit his cell for the palace at Constantinople, but sent back by the Eunuch this oracular response. 'The war will be bloody, more bloody than that against Maximus. Theodosius will conquer, but he will not long survive his victory. In Italy will he draw his last breath.'

Death of Galla. So the preparations went on all through the year 393. The Gothic foederati were mustered in their squadrons eager to fight under the open-handed Arbogast  p569 and other barbarians from across the Danube, perhaps the remnant of Athanaric's Visigoths, perhaps Ostrogoths and Gepidae, and even some of their Hunnish conquerors, trooped across the broad river, scenting bloodshed and spoil in the fluttering of the wings of the Roman eagles. When the army was already on the point of marching, she for whose sake the whole campaign was undertaken vanished from her husband's side. May, 394 The beautiful Empress Galla died, having given birth to a little daughter, who was one day to rule the Empire of the West under the title of Galla Placidia Augusta. Theodosius, as a historian​45 says, was mindful of the Homeric maxim —

'In war, with stern hearts we entomb our dead,

And but for one day must our tears be shed,'

and, though with an aching heart, set forth from Constantinople, only pausing to pay his devotions in the Church which he had reared in the suburb of Hebdomon in honour of John the Baptist.

Theodosius' march through Illyricum. As before, he moved his troops along the highway that connected Sirmium with Aquileia. By this road, as has been before hinted, the Alps may be said to be turned rather than crossed. At one point indeed, between Laybachº and Gorizia, a shoulder of the Julian Alps has to be surmounted, but as the highest point of the pass is 2000 feet above the level of the sea, it must not be associated in our minds with those ideas of Alpine hardship which suggest themselves in connection with the St. Bernard, the Splugen, or even the Brenner. On the summit of the pass there grew, at the time of the Roman road-makers, a pear-tree,  p570 conspicuous, we must suppose, from afar by its cloud of white blossoms. This tree gave to the neighbouring station the name of Ad Pirum, and the memory of it has now for many centuries been preserved, in another tongue, by the appellation of the Birnbaumer Wald, given to the whole of the high plateau which the road once traversed. Battle-field of the Frigidus. Standing on the crest of this pass, in the place where probably 2000 years ago the pear-tree was blooming, the spectator beholds spread out before him a landscape with some very distinctive features, which the imagination can easily convert into a battle-field. To his right, all along the northern horizon, soars the bare and lofty ridge of the Tarnovaner Wald, about 4000 feet high. None but a very adventurous or a badly beaten army would seek a passage there. Opposite, to the south and west runs a range of gently swelling hills, somewhat resembling our own Sussex downs, the last outliers in this direction of the Julian Alps. On the left hand, to the south-east, the Birnbaumer Wald rises towards the abrupt cliff of the Nanos Berg, a mountain as high as the Tarnovaner Wald, which, conspicuous from afar, seems by its singular shape to proclaim itself to travellers, both from Italy and from Austria, as the end of the Alps. Set in this framework of hills lies a fruitful and well-cultured valley, 'The Paradise of Carniola,'​46 deriving its name from its river, which, burrowing its way between hay‑fields and orchards, seems disinclined to claim the visitor's notice, though entitled to it for more reasons than one. For this river, the Wipbach of our own day, the Frigidus Fluvius of the age of Theodosius, has not only historic fame, but is a phenomenon full of interest  p571 to the physical geographer. Close to the little town of Wipbach it bursts forth from the foot of the cliffs of the Birnbaumer Wald; no little rivulet such as one spring might nourish, but 'a full‑fed river,' as deep and strong as the Aar at Thun, or the Reuss at Lucerne, like also to both those streams in the colour of its pale-blue waters, and, even in the hottest days of summer, unconquerably cool.​47 Many a Roman legionary, marching along the great high road from Aquileia to Sirmium, has had reason to bless the refreshing waters of the mountain-born Frigidus. We know somewhat more than the philosophers of the camp could tell him of the causes of this welcome phenomenon. The fact is that in the Wipbach Thal we are in the heart of one of those limestone regions where Nature so often amuses us with her wild vagaries. Only half a day's march distant lies the entrance to those vast chambers of imagery, the caverns of Adelsberg. The river Poik, which rushes roaring through those caverns for two or three miles, disappears, reappears, again disappears, again reappears, and thus bears three different names in the course of its short history. A little further from Wipbach lies that other wonder of Carniola, the Zirknitzer See, where fishing in spring, harvesting in summer, and skating in winter, all take place over the same ground. The chilly Wipbach bursting suddenly forth from its seven sources in the Birnbaumer Wald is, it will be seen, but one of a whole family of similar marvels.

[image ALT: missingALT.]

to illustrate the Battle of
the River Frigidus
A.D. 394

[A larger version, fully readable, opens here.]

 p572  Position of the armies. Leaving the blue waters of the Frigidus we remount the hills, and stand with Theodosius by the pear-tree on the crest of the pass. By his unexpected energy he has gained the heights, before the enemy could anticipate him, but that is all. Far away below him stretch the tents of the army of Eugenius; they line the sides of the river and fill all the valley. The regular troops of Theodosius, the so‑called Roman legionaries, are commanded by the veteran Timasius and under him by the Emperor's kinsman Stilicho. But true to his constant policy, Theodosius has surrounded himself with a strong band of barbarian auxiliaries, and the commanders of these skin-clothed Teutons are some of the most influential men in his army. There is Gainas the Goth, the same man who, six years hence, being general-in‑chief of all the forces of the Eastern Empire, will rebel against Arcadius, son of Theodosius, and will all but succeed in capturing Constantinople. Gainas is an Arian Christian, as are most of his countrymen by this time; but by his side, with perhaps equal dignity, rides the Alan Saul, a heathen yet, notwithstanding his Biblical name. There too is the Catholic Bacurius, general of the household troops, who fought under Valens at Hadrianople, a man of Armenian origin, and of royal birth, who is Zosimus, IV.57. 'destitute of all evil inclinations and perfectly versed in the art of war.'​48 There also, carefully noti­cing the lie of these mountain passes, and veiling his eagerness for the first sight of Italy, is a young Visigothic chieftain named Alaric.

Theodosius gave the order to descend into the valley  p573 and join battle. Owing to the roughness of the ground over which they were moving, the baggage-train broke down. A long and vexatious halt followed. Theodosius, to whose mind the religious aspect of this war was ever present, and whose enthusiasm was at least as strongly stirred as was that of Constantine at the battle of the Milvian Bridge, rode forward to the head of his column, and in words borrowed from the old Hebrew Prophet, exclaimed, 'Where is the Lord God of Theodosius?' The troops caught the fervour of his spirit, the obstacle was quickly surmounted, and the army descended to the conflict.

First day's battle, Sept. 5. The weight of that day's battle fell upon the Teutonic auxiliaries of the Emperor, and they were not successful. Bacurius, the brave and loyal-hearted Armenian, fell; 10,000 of the barbarians perished, and the remnant, with their leaders, retired, but not in disorder, from the battle-field. When night fell, Theodosius was not indeed absolutely routed, but his position had become one of extreme peril. Eugenius, considering the victory as good as won, passed the night in feasting and in distributing largesse to the officers and soldiers who had most distinguished themselves in the encounter. Theodosius was advised by his generals to retreat during the night, and adjourn the campaign till next spring. But the soldier could not bear to retire before his grammarian rival, and the Christian refused to allow the standard of the Cross to confess itself vanquished by the figure of Hercules, which adorned the banners of Eugenius. He found a solitary place in a hill behind his army, and there he spent the night in earnest prayer to the Lord of the Universe. When the dawn was creeping over the Birnbaumer Wald he fell  p574 asleep. The Emperor's vision. In his vision two men mounted on white steeds and clothed in white raiment appeared to him. They were not the great twin brethren who stood by Aulus on the margin of the Lake Regillus; they were the Apostles St. John and St. Philip, and they bade Theodosius be of good courage, since they were sent to fight for him in the coming day. The Emperor awoke and resumed his devotions yet more earnestly. While he was thus engaged a centurion came to inform him of a remarkable dream which had visited one of the soldiers in his company. The dream of the soldier was the very same as that of the Augustus, and the marvellous coincidence of course gladdened all hearts.

Second day's battle, Sept. 6. Yet when in the early dawn the Emperor began again to move his troops down towards the scene of yesterday's encounter, he saw a sight which boded little good. Far back amid the recesses of the mountains were soldiers of the enemy, in ambush though imperfectly concealed, and threatening his line of retreat. The peril seemed more urgent than ever, but he contrived to call a parley with the officers of these troops, invisible probably to Eugenius, though seen by his antagonist, and he found them willing, almost eager, to enter his service, if they could be assured of pay and promotion. The contract (not one of which either party had reason to be proud) was soon concluded, and Theodosius recorded on his tablets the high military office which he bound himself to bestow on Count Arbitrio, the leader of the ambuscade, and on his staff.49  p575 Strengthened by this reinforcement he made the sign of the cross, which was the concerted signal of battle, and his soldiers clashed against the foe, who in the security of victory were perhaps hardly ready for the onset. Yet the second day's battle was obstinately fought, and was at length decided by an event which may well have seemed miraculous to minds already raised to fever-heat by this terribly even contest between the new faith and the old. In the very crisis of the battle a mighty wind arose from the north, that is to say from behind the troops of Theodosius, who were standing on the slopes of the Tarnovaner Wald. The impetuous gusts blew the dust into the faces of the Eugenians, and not only thus destroyed their aim, but even carried back their own weapons upon themselves and made it impossible to wound one of their adversaries with dart or with pilum. The modern traveller, without considering himself bound to acknowledge a miraculous interposition, has no difficulty in admitting the general truth of this narrative, which is strongly vouched for by contemporary authors. All over the Karst (as the high plateau behind Trieste is called) the ravages of the Bora, or north-east wind, have long been notorious.​50 Heavily-laden waggons have been overturned by its fury, and where no shelter is afforded from its blasts houses are not built, and trees will not grow.​51 From the fruitful and well-clothed aspect of  p576 the Wipbach Thal it might be supposed that it was sheltered by its mountain bulwarks from this terrible visitation. But it is not so. All the way up from the village of Heidenschafft to the crest of the pass which bounds the Wipbach Thal, the Bora rages. Not many years ago the commander of a squadron of Austrian cavalry was riding with his men past the very village which probably marks the site of the battle. An old man well versed in the signs of the weather warned him not to proceed, because he saw that the Bora was about to blow. 'No, indeed,' laughed the captain. 'What would people say if soldiers on horseback stopped because of the wind?' He continued his march, the predicted storm arose, and he lost eight men and three horses, swept by its fury into the waters of the Wipbach.​52 The same cause which in our lifetime struck those eight men off the muster-rolls of the imperial-royal army, decided the battle of the Frigidus near fifteen centuries ago, and gave the whole Roman  p577 world to the family of Theodosius and the dominion of the Catholic faith.

Claudian's story of the battle. The poet Claudian, describing the events of this memorable day, with all the audacity of a courtier makes them redound to the glory of his patron Honorius, son of Theodosius, a boy in the eleventh year of his age, who was a thousand miles away from the fighting, but to whose auspices, as he was Consul for the year, his father's victory might, by a determined flatterer, be ascribed.

De III Consulatu Honorii, 93‑101.

'Down from the mountains, summoned by thy name

Upon your foes the chilling north wind came;

Back to the sender's heart his javelin hurled,

And from his powerless grasp the spear-staff whirled.

Oh greatly loved of heaven! from forth his caves

Aeolus sends his armëd Storms, thy slaves.

Aether itself obeys thy sovereign will,

And conscript Winds move to thy bugles shrill.

The Alpine snows grew ruddy: the Cold Stream

Now, with changed waters, glided dank with steam,

And, but that every wave was swoln with gore,

Had fainted 'neath the ghastly load she bore.'

Death of Eugenius. Eugenius, who seems not to have been in the thick of the fight, and who still deemed himself secure of victory, saw some of his soldiers running swiftly towards him. 'Are you bringing me Theodosius in bonds,' he shouted, 'according to my orders?' 'By no means, they answered; 'he is conqueror, and we are pardoned on condition of carrying you to him.' They then loaded him with chains and bore him into the presence of Theodosius, who upbraided him with the murder of Valentinian, and, almost as if it were an equal crime, with setting up the statue of Hercules for worship. Eugenius grovelled at the feet of his rival, begging for  p578 life, but his entreaties were cut short by a soldier who severed his head from his body with a sword. This ghastly proof of failure carried round the camp upon a pole determined the last waverers to throw themselves on the mercy of Theodosius, who was now, at any rate, the only legitimate Roman Emperor. This mercy was easily extended to them, policy as well as religion making it incumbent on the Emperor to convert his late foes as speedily as possible into loyal soldiers. Death of Arbogast. The barbarian Arbogast, of whose general­ship on the second day of the battle we hear nothing, fled to the steepest and most rugged part of the mountains (perhaps the Nanos Berg), and after wandering about for two days, finding every gorge which led down into the plain carefully watched, fell upon his sword, like King Saul among the mountains of Gilboa, and so perished. Thus fell the last of the antagonists of Theodosius.53

 p579  Overthrow of the idols. When the battle was ended, one of the earliest acts of the Emperor was to overturn the statues of Jupiter with which the idolatrous usurper had garnished and, as he seems to have hoped, guarded the Alpine passes. The hand of each statue of the god grasped, and was in act to hurl, a golden thunderbolt. When the statues were overthrown Theodosius distributed these golden bolts among his outriders. 'By such lightnings,' said the laughing soldiers, 'may we often be struck!' And the stately Emperor, according to St. Augustine, unbent from his usual high demeanour and 'permitted the merriment of the soldiers.'

Clemency of Theodosius. As after the defeat of Maximus, so now, Theodosius showed himself humane and moderate in the hour of victory. There was no proscription of the adherents of Eugenius or confiscation of their property. The children of Eugenius and Arbogast, though not members of the Christian Church, had taken refuge in the Basilica at Milan. Ambrose, true to the noble instincts of his nature, at once addressed a letter to Theodosius beseeching him to have mercy on the fallen. The Emperor's reply consigned them provisionally to the protection of an Imperial notary:​54 and before long a full and complete amnesty arrived at Milan, granted to the petition of Ambrose who had visited the Emperor at Aquileia, and had been assured that no reward was too great for the prayers which had earned the fateful victory.

There was, however, some note of censure and  p580 ignominy attached to the name of the deceased Flavianus, for a tablet discovered in the Forum of Trajan records what we should call 'the reversal of his attainder,' thirty‑six years after this time, by the grandson of Theodosius at the request of the grandson of Flavianus.55

Proceedings in Rome as described by Zosimus. That the defeat of Eugenius dealt a real death-blow to the recrudescent Paganism of Rome there can be no doubt, but how the death-blow was administered is by no means clear. Zosimus tells us​56 that Theodosius visited Rome with his little son Honorius; that he presented him to the Romans as their Emperor, and constituted Stilicho his guardian; that he then called the Senate together and exhorted them to forsake the errors of heathenism, and embrace the faith of the Christians, which would free them from every stain of impiety and guilt. The Senate, however, according to this historian refused to abandon the rights which had for near 2000 years secured victory to their city: whereupon Theodosius fell back on a mere financial argument, asserting that the necessities of the military chest forbade the expenditure which had hitherto been lavished upon the heathen sacrifices. The Senate replied that the sacrifices of the State must be offered up at the State's expense; but Theodosius was inexorable, and struck the provision for their maintenance out of the Imperial budget. 'The result of this has been,' says Zosimus, 'that the Roman Empire, cut short in every direction, has become the home of every barbarous tribe or else has been so utterly wasted of its inhabitants, that men  p581 can no longer recognise the places where its great cities stood.'

Proceedings in Rome as described by Prudentius. The poet Prudentius represents the Emperor as delivering to the Senate a long harangue, partaking in some degree of the nature of a sermon, against idolatry.​57 He declaimed against the folly of worshipping senseless and perishable images of stone, of plaster, or of brass, though he uttered a kindly hint to preserve those which were beautiful as works of art, unmutilated but also unstained with sacrificial gore. He reminded the Senate of the cruelties which nearly a century before had been practised by the heathen Maxentius, and of the joy with which their forefathers had hailed the 'In hoc signo vinces' standard of the Christian liberator Constantine. He exhorted them to leave idolatry to the barbarians, and to cultivate 'that mild and reasonable religion which was worthy of the wise trainer of the nations.'

According to the Christian poet 'the benches of the full Senate decreed that the couch of Jupiter was infamous, and that all idolatry was to be driven far from the purified City.' There is at first sight some contradiction between this story and that told by Zosimus, but, on examining the two and making allowance for the prejudices of the heathen and the poetical amplification of the Christian, it seems probable that Theodosius did actually make some proposition to the Senate for the discontinuance of the grants hitherto  p582 made for the great State-sacrifices to Jupiter and the other gods of the Capitol, that in bringing forward this proposal he resorted to some of the usual arguments of Christian controversialists against the folly of idolatry, that this harangue provoked from some brave Senators the declaration that they meant to live and die in the faith of their ancestral gods, but that nevertheless the vote for the discontinuance of the sacrificial grants was carried by a large majority, either Christian at heart or pliant to the will of an omnipotent Emperor.58

But more important, probably, than any formal legislative action of the Emperor was the social influence exercised by him as the unquestioned and victorious head of the great official hierarchy of the Empire, upon the office-seeking Senators of Rome. Prudentius declares that six hundred families of ancient lineage, among whom he enumerates the bearers of the following names — Annius, Probus, Anicius, Olybrius, Paulinus, Bassus, and Gracchus — were 'turned to the ensigns of Christ.' He does not directly assert that all these conversions were caused by the arguments of Theodosius, and in fact we know that the representatives of some of these families had been Christians for many years previous to 395: but he does convey the idea, and probably with truth, that the overthrow of Eugenius  p583 and the visit of Theodosius which followed closely upon it were turning-points in the religious history of the Roman Senate, and that the heathen party in that assembly, which had before been either a majority or nearly equal in number to their opponents, now became a hopeless and dwindling minority.

Consulship of Probinus and Olybrius. The new year (395) was marked by a pleasing event hitherto unknown in Roman annals, and that event was commemorated by a poem of Claudian, the first of a long and important series. The Consulship of the year was conferred on two brothers, Probinus and Olybrius, the sons of that successful golden-woven, but most unsuccessful ruler, Petronius Probus, whose oppressions and 374 whose cowardice twenty years before so nearly brought Illyricum to ruin.​59 Probus, who preyed upon the provincials, was himself preyed upon by a swarm of hungry dependents, and it was perhaps from one of these that Claudian, who is bound to flatter when he does not lampoon, derived the following estimate of the generosity of Probus: —

'Not on his gold was seen the cavern's stain,

The darkness hid it not: for heaven's rain

Falls not so freely on the thirsting sward,

As upon countless crowds his wealth was poured.'​60

Whatever may have been the defects in the character of Probus, he was one of the most powerful nobles of Rome, and it was doubtless a stroke of policy on the part of the Eastern-minded Theodosius to attach him to his party by the magnificent gift of two Consulships for his sons. In the language of poetry this sort of transaction is translated into a dialogue between personified  p584 Rome and the divine Emperor. Claudian represents the god of the Seven-hilled City flying northward to present her suit to Theodosius immediately after the victory of the Frigidus. She alights among the winding passes of the Alps, those passes impenetrable to all but Theodosius.

Lines 112‑123.

'Hard by, the victor on the turf reclined,

The joy of ended battle filled his mind,

The glad earth crowned with flowers her master's rest,

And the grass grew, rejoi­cing to be pressed.

Against a tree he leaned: his helm beneath

Shone his calm brows, but still his panting breath

Came thick and fast, and still the hot sweat poured

Down those vast limbs. He lay like battle's Lord,

Great Mars, when, the Gelonian hosts o'erthrown,

He upon Gothic Haemus lays him down.

Bellona hears his arms; Bellona leads

Forth from the yoke his dusty, smoking steeds.

Trembles his weary arm. The quivering gleam

Of his vast spear falls far o'er Hebrus' stream.'

Of course the Imperial City's petition is granted. Proba, the venerable mother of the designated Consuls, prepares for their use the golden-woven trabeae (the consular vestments), 'and shining garments of the tissue which the Chinese shave off from the soft [mulberry] foliage, gathering leafy fleeces from the wool-bearing forest.' Jupiter thunders his approval, and old father Tiber, startled by the sound, leaves his mossy bed and lays him down on the island opposite to the Aventine to watch, delighted, the loving brothers escorted by the Senate to the Forum, and the double set of fasces borne forth from the same door.

Lines 266‑279.

'O Time, well-marked by brother-memories dear

And brother-chiefs, O happy, happy year.

Let Phoebus now his fourfold toil bestow,

Send forth thy Winter first, not white with snow,


Nor numb with cold, nor vexed by tempests wild,

But tempered by the South-wind's whispers mild.

Then let sweet Zephyr bring the Spring serene

And gild with crocuses thy meadows green.

Let Summer deck thee with her cereal crown,

And autumn with full clusters weigh thee down.

To thee alone is given the boast sublime,

Peerless in all the chronicles of Time,

That brothers were thy rulers: all our land

Shall speak thy praise; the Hours with loving hand

Shall write in changing flowers thy honoured name,

And the dim centuries rehearse thy fame.'

It certainly was a memorable year, the one which was thus pompously saluted, though not precisely for the reasons which made the poet welcome it. The 395th year of the Christian era, the 1148th year from the building of the city, brought with it in its earliest weeks the death of Theodosius, and that death was the beginning of the end of all things.

Death of Theodosius. The disease of which Theodosius died in the prime of life (for he had not attained his fiftieth year) was dropsy, caused, we are told, by the fatigues and anxiety of the war with Eugenius. But he was evidently a somewhat free liver, and his long illness at Thessalonica had probably left him with an impaired constitution. When he felt his health failing he sent for his child-partner Honorius, who was brought by Serena from Constantinople to Milan. He arranged for the division of his Empire, the East to Arcadius, the West to Honorius: he made his will, in which he exhorted his sons to the practice of piety, by which victory would be obtained and peace secured. He also recommended the remission of an unpopular tax which he had himself proposed to abolish, but which had been hitherto maintained by the advice of one of his counsellors,  p586 probably Rufinus. Having made these dispositions, he calmly awaited the death which the Egyptian hermit had foretold. There was, however, a transient return of health, during which he gave orders for the celebration of some chariot-races on the 17th of January in honour of his victory. In the morning he was able to preside in the Hippodrome, but, after he had dined, his malady returned with added violence, and he was forced to send the little Honorius to preside in his stead. On that night he died, having reigned sixteen years all but two days.

Funeral rites. The great Emperor lay in state for forty days. His friend and faithful monitor, Ambrose, delivered an oration over his bier, to which we are indebted for some valuable information as to the character and the last days of Theodosius. In an eloquent apostrophe he pictures the soul of the great Christian Emperor winging its way to the halls of light, and there communing with his lost friend and colleague Gratian, as 'day unto day uttereth speech,' while in the realms of darkness Eugenius and Arbogast mingle in dreary colloquy 'as night unto night showeth its unholy knowledge.' But the oration as a whole strikes a modern reader as stilted and diffuse, and does not seem to come so directly from the speaker's heart as that in which he mourned the untimely death of Valentinian II.

The body of Theodosius was eventually removed to Constantinople and laid in the Church of the Apostles, where the great chest of porphyry in which it was entombed was visible till the Turk entered the city of the Caesars.

Character of Theodosius. Thus ended the career of Theodosius, generally  p587 styled the Great. Did he deserve that title, which he probably received at first from the Catholic party for the services, undoubtedly eminent, which he rendered to their cause? In comparison with the infinite littleness of every Roman Emperor during the succeeding century, he is rightly named; but how as to his own essential greatness? There is a certain magnificence and stateliness about him which would seem to justify posterity in naming him 'the Grand,' but of greatness his prematurely interrupted life makes it difficult to judge. Had his conciliatory policy towards the barbarians saved the Empire (and who can say what thirty years more of that policy under a wise and firm ruler might have effected?) he had been greater than Africanus, greater than Caesar. As it is, his life lies like a ruined sea‑wall amidst the fierce barbarian tide, and the ravaged lands beyond it seem to say, but perhaps untruly, 'Thou couldst never have been a barrier to defend us.'

To me, earnestly striving to form an impartial estimate of his character, he seems to have been a true Spaniard both in his virtues and his faults. The comparison may seem fanciful, as many other elements have since combined to form the Spanish character; but let it be taken for what it is worth. The hero of those strange encounters with the Barbarians of the Marshes, replaces the figure of his countryman El Cid Campeador; the author of the Edict concerning the Catholic faith reminds us of the title of 'His Most Catholic Majesty'; his steady perseverance in the suppression of Heresy is worthy of Philip II; his magnificence suggests the Escorial, his ferocity the bull-fight; his procrastination in his dealings with Maximus  p588 and Arbogast, the phrase 'hasta la mañana';​61 his mismanagement of the finances, the wrongs of the Spanish bondholder.

Here is one estimate of the character of Theodosius. Those who desire a more favourable picture may find it often repeated in the pages of the courtly Claudian. His apotheosis of the Emperor is painted with such strength of colour that the very extravagance of the flattery makes it almost sublime. He repents the dying Theodosius adjuring Stilicho, by the ties of gratitude and kindred, to be a faithful guardian to his sons. Then —

'He ceased, nor longer on the earth might stay,

But through the clouds he clove his radiant way.

He enters Luna's sphere; he leaves behind

Arcadian Mercury's threshold. Soon the wind —

The gentle wind of Venus — fans his face,

And thence he seeks the Sun's bright dwelling-place.​62

The sullen flame of Mars and placid Jove

He passes next, and now stands high above,

Where at the summit of the spheres is spread

The zone made hard by Saturn's chilly tread.

The frame of Heaven is loosed, the gleaming gates

Stand open: for this guest Boötes waits

Within his northern home; and southward far

Hunter Orion greets the stranger Star.

Each courts his friendship: each alternate prays

That in his sky the new‑lit fire may blaze.

Oh glory, once of Earth, and now of Air,

Wearied, thou still dost to thy home repair,

For Spain first bore thee on her noble breast,

And in Spain's ocean dost thou sink to rest.


At thy proud rising, oh exultant sire,

Thou seest Arcadius: when thy coursers tire,

The loved Honorius stays thy westering fire,

And wheresoe'er through heaven thine orbit runs,

Thou seest the world-wide kingdom of thy sons:

Thy sons, whose wise serenity of soul

And patient cares the conquered tribes control.'

The Roman Empire certainly held out splendid possibilities to ambition. Never since its fall has a mere Spanish gentleman of respectable birth and talents been turned into a star.63

The Author's Notes:

1 The former victor of the Greuthungi: see p322.º

2 We get the date from Socrates, V.18. The gilding of the Porta Aurea is attested by an inscription: —

'Haec loca Theudosius decorat post fata tyranni;

Aurea saecla gerit qui portam construit auro.'

It is pointed out by Dr. Dethier (Le Bosphore et Constantinople, pp12 and 48) that this Porta Aurea cannot be the same which we now know by that name, and which is in the wall built by Theodosius II; but must have pierced the Wall of Constantine, and been not far from the present Soulu Monastir.

3 To which Zosimus, as usual, gives ill‑natured prominence (IV.50).

4 Εἰ μὴ τὸν κατὰ Ῥουφίνου φθόνον ἀπόθοιντο ταχέως αὐτὸν ὄψονται βασιλεύοντα (Zos. IV.51). Would not αὑτὸν give a better sense? 'If they did not lay aside their jealousy of Rufinus, they should soon see him (Theodosius) assert himself as Emperor!'

5 We are obliged to speak in this hesitating way about the administration of Tatian and his son, because of the extraordinarily varying characters given of each of them by Libanius — characters which almost force Sievers to the conclusion that there were two pairs of relatives of this name holding high office in the East within a short space of time (Libanius, 159).

6 This senseless and unjust law is only made known to us by the Edict of Arcadius (Cod. Theod. IX.38.9) repealing it. This law still speaks of Tatian as 'taeterrimus Judex.'

7 p414.

8 Commonly called 'Pompey's Pillar.' According to some archaeologists, this pillar once formed part of the colonnade of the Serapeum.

9 Ammianus Marcellinus.

10 Sozomen, VII.15. Greek English I have slightly expanded the thought of Olympius as here reported.

11 We have no exact information as to the date of the destruction of the Serapeum, but it seems on the whole that it occurred in 391. It was still standing in all its glory when Ammianus wrote his history, apparently in 390.

12 So says Suidas, s.v. Οὐαλεντινίανος.

13 'Manus, capita sororibus osculabatur, immemor imperii, memor germanitatis' (Ambrose, de Obitu Valentiniani, 36).

Thayer's Note: Far from finding this odd behaviour in some way meritorious, I cannot help being reminded of Caligula's taste for his own sisters (Suet. Cal. 15.3 and especially 24.1 ff.), and I wonder if those who read Ambrose's speech at the time might not have as well. On a different plane, I also would have liked to hear what both sets of women thought about these attentions.

14 See p461.

15 See p305. I have not there alluded to the fact, mentioned below, that, according to the statement of Joannes Antiochenus, Bauto and Arbogast stood to one another in the relation of father and son.

16 See pp466, 468.

17 Joannes Antiochenus says: Ἀρβογάστης ἦν, ἐκ τοῦ Φράγκων γένους, Βαύδωνος . . . υἱός, φλογοειδής τε καὶ βάρβαρος τὴν ψυχήν: and again, Ὁ Ἀρβογάστης . . . Εὐγένιον αὐτῷ . . . ὁ θεῖος ἐπέστησε Ῥιχομήριος, ἡνίκα παρὰ τὸν Θεοδόσιον μετὰ τὴν Μαξίμου νίκην ἐν τοῖς ἑῴοις βασιλείοις ἀπήγετο (Fragm. 187, ap. Müller). Late, comparatively, as is the date of Joannes Antiochenus (the seventh century probably), we know that he drew from some good contemporary sources, and as these statements of his are not contradicted by any other historian, they seem to me deserving of more attention than they have hitherto received. (They were unknown to Tillemont when he prepared his admirable digest of materials for history.) Perhaps the greatest difficulty is in connection with Richomer, who, on this theory, was about to be appointed by Theodosius to the command of the expedition against his own nephew, Arbogast, when his career was closed by his death.

18 By Joannes Antiochenus u. s.

19 Son of Taurus, who was Consul in 361. We are probably safe in identifying this Harmonius with the governor of Arabia (and apparently also of Antioch) who is mentioned by Libanius (Ep. 1302). Libanius vouches strongly for his integrity, but admits that he was accused of bribery.

20 Δριμύτερον ὑποβλέπων (Zosimus, IV.53).

21 Παραχρῆμα τοῖς ὄνυξι διεσπάραξεν (Joan. Ant. u. s.).

22 We get this curious picture from a fragment of Sulpicius Alexander, preserved by Gregory of Tours, H. F. II.9.

23 This story is told us by Philostorgius, XI.1.

24 This request for the presence of Ambrose in Gaul followed an abortive attempt of Valentinian himself to visit Italy, on the plea that he was wanted there to resist a barbarian invasion.

25 Life-guardsman.

26 See Note F at the end of this chapter.

27 Ἐπὶ σοφιστικὸν ἐγκαθήμενον θρόνον, καὶ ὑπὸ γλώττης εὐδοκιμοῦντα (Joan. Ant. Fr. 187).

28 He is called Ἀντιγραφεύς, which is thought to mean that he was one of the four Magistri Scriniorum (which we may perhaps translate Clerks of the Closet): only a 'spectabilis' therefore, not an 'illustris.'

29 Claudian, De III Cons. Honorii, 66; De IV Cons. Honorii, 74. If I rightly understand the evidently corrupted entry in 'Cuspiniani Chronicon,' the elevation of Eugenius did not take place till the end of August, more than three months after the death of Valentinian. This looks like prolonged resistance on the part of Eugenius to the schemes of his patron.

30 Joannes Antiochenus.

31 Ambrose, Epist. I.57.6, and Paulinus, Vita Ambrosii, 26.

32 This MS. in the Imperial Library at Paris (Fonds Latin, No. 8084) was published by Delisle in the 'Bibliothèque de l'École des Chartes,' and afterwards by Morel in the 'Revue Archéologique,' June, 1868. See also an article by Mommsen: Hermes, 1870.


'Sarapidis cultor, Etruscis semper amicus

Fundere qui incautis studuit concreta venena,

Mille nocendi iras, totidem conquireret artes.'

(ll. 50‑52.)

Possibly the satirist only means to accuse Flavianus of instilling the poison of heathenism into the minds of the citizens.

34 The person upon whom the Taurobolium was to be performed was crowned with a mitre and a golden wreath, and was then let down into a hole in the ground, over which a scaffolding had been erected, in which orifices had been pierced at regular intervals. A bull, crowned with garlands, was then brought upon this scaffolding, and stabbed to death by a priest of Mithras. The blood of the victim, showered down through the orifices upon the worshipper below, was held to purify him from sin. He probably wore the blood-stained garments through the banquet feast that followed, and for the rest of the day. The efficacy of this blood-baptism was believed to continue for twenty years (Marquardt, 'Römische Staatsverwaltung,' III.88; quoting Prudentius, 'Peristephanon,' X.1005‑1050).

35 Megalensia, 4‑10 April.

36 This was called 'lustrare Urbem.' In the corresponding rural feast of the Ambarvalia, 'lustrabant agros.'


'Ornaret Lauro postes, convivia daret,

Pollutos panes infectos ture vaporo

Poneret in risum.'

(ll. 41‑43.)

This seems to describe a lectisternium.

38 It is perhaps worth noti­cing that all the rites described by our satirist seem to have taken place in the spring: the Voyage of Isis on the 25th of March, the Megalensia from 4th to 10th of April, Floralia 28th April to 3rd of May, Amburbium on the 29th of May. Perhaps we have here a description of the state of the City during the spring-months of 394, when the heathen party were waiting, in an agony of expectation, for the commencement of the campaign against Theodosius.

39 Leucadius, possibly the Gaulish governor for whom St. Martin interceded (see p452).

40 This Proconsul was Martianus, who had been 'vicarius Italiae' in 384. His son Maximian was Prefect of Rome in 409, and was sent by the Senate on an embassy to Ravenna. These appointments to offices in Africa by the party of Eugenius make me doubt Güldenpenning's statement (p219, n. 43) that Africa remained true to Theodosius.

41 Cod. Theod. XVI.10.12.

42 Ep. I.57.

43 We derive these two stories from the interesting but marvel-loving life of Ambrose written by his notary, Paulinus. He says that the second story was told him by a very religious young man, who was cup‑bearer to Arbogast in his Frankish campaign.

44 The association of Honorius is assigned by Socrates to the 10th January, 393. Some authors, understanding by the darkness an eclipse, have insisted on transferring the ceremony to 20th November, 393, which was the date of an eclipse. But Clinton and Sievers argue, as it seems to me rightly, for Socrates' date. The darkness, which is most fully described by Claudian (though with some fanciful embellishments in honor of his patron) does not seem to have been due to an eclipse, but to an unusually thick canopy of cloud. (See Claudian, IV Cons. Honorii, 170‑196).

45 Zosimus, quoting the Iliad, XIX.228‑9.

46 Schaubach's Die Deutschen Alpen, V.368.

47 The Wipbach has seven large sources besides numberless small ones, all at the foot of the same cliffs. The largest and most picturesque of the sources is behind the palace and in the garden of Count Lantieri.

48 Bacurius, as we learn from the Church historian Rufinus, was originally King of the Iberi. He was a fervent Christian, and Rufinus had made his acquaintance when he was Dux Palaestinae.

49 It seems probable, though I do not think it is distinctly stated by any authority, that the Prefect Flavianus was with these troops, and that, being unable to prevent their destruction, he perished by his own hand. (See Seeck's Prolegomena to the letters of Symmachus, p. cxix.)

50 Is the fury of the Bora owing to the abrupt termination here of the great Alpine wall, or to some conflict between the climate of the Adriatic shores and that of the valleys of the affluents of the Danube?

51 I take the following account of a recent outbreak of the Bora from the Standard of 31 December, 1890: — 'But it is at Trieste that the South has most completely belied its conventional reputation. For there, as our Vienna correspondent informs us, the "Bora" has been blowing with a violence which the Illyrians had begun to regard as a thing of the past. For many years it has not been found necessary to stretch ropes along the streets of Trieste for pedestrians to hold on by, and it was the exception rather than the rule for vessels to be prevented from communicating with the shore, even when the Bora was blowing with its utmost strength. This diminution of its force was attributed to the gradual afforesting of the Karst, the upland plateau over which it swept unchecked in former times. But the ferocity of the present gale showed no abatement of its vigour. The ropes had again to be stretched along the streets, and, though the temperature was only nine degrees below freezing, all the ships in the harbour were covered with ice, and several slipped their anchors, or even had their cables broken.'

52 It was interesting to hear this story (unsolicited by any question on my part, but which at once recalled Claudian's well-known lines) from the mouth of 'Michele il Tedesco,' the vetturino who drove me from Gorizia to Adelsberg (1878).

53 The question of the exact site of the battle of Frigidus should be determined after a careful examination of the topography, such as no historian seems yet to have thought it worth while to institute. The slight consideration which I have been able to give to the subject on the spot leads me to believe that the battle was fought near Heidenschafft; the forces of Theodosius being, as I have said, on the lower slopes of the Tarnovaner Wald, and those of Eugenius in the valley and upon the range of lower hills opposite. There are three names of towns or villages in the valley, all of which might possibly be connected with the battle. Battuglia, about an hour below Heidenschafft, might be a corruption of Battaglia. The town of Heiligenkreuz, conspicuous on its pedestal of rock jutting out into the valley, may perhaps have derived its name originally from some erection by the Emperor in honour of the Holy Cross, which was his battle-signal, and allusions to which were so constantly on his lips during those two critical days. And is it too much to suggest that Heidenschafft itself may, either as a corruption of Heidenschlacht or in some other way, be connected with 'the overthrow of the Heathens'? Three languages, Italian, German, and Slovenic, are jammed up against one another in this corner of Austria, and probably no one of them is spoken with accuracy.

54 'Johannes, tunc tribunus et notarius, qui nunc praefectus est' (Paulinus, Vita Ambrosii, 51). Compare also Augustine, De Civitate Dei, V.26.

55 This inscription is quoted by Seeck (ubi supra) from the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, VI.1783.

56 IV.59.

57 Contra Symmachum, I.415‑505. I cannot find in these lines the justification for Gibbon's statement, 'In a full meeting of the Senate the Emperor proposed, according to the forms of the republic, the important question whether the worship of Jupiter or that of Christ should be the religion of the Romans' (chap. xxviii n. 18).

58 Though reluctant to differ from Tillemont, and (among modern commentators) from Sievers and Güldenpenning, I cannot see sufficient force in their arguments to outweigh the clear testimony of Zosimus and Prudentius as to the visit of Theodosius to Rome, which was certainly possible, between the victory of the Frigidus and his death. S. Lanciani appears to fix at this time the suppression of the order of Vestal Virgins (Ancient Rome, p175). But this seems to me somewhat premature, as Prudentius, writing his poem Contra Symmachum ten years after this date, speaks of the Vestals as a still existing order.

59 See pp 218‑222, 225‑226.

60 Consulat. Probini et Olybrii, 42‑44.

61 'Till to‑morrow.'

62 Of course, as the astronomy is Ptolemaic, the Sun takes the place between Venus and Mars which Copernicus has taught us to assign to the Earth.

63 [I leave my final estimate of the character of Theodosius as it was written fifteen years ago. Closer study of the subject makes me doubtful whether I did not, under the influence of the criticisms of Eunapius and Zosimus, judge that Emperor somewhat too harshly; yet I cannot put my finger on any line in the portrait which is wrongly drawn. But in this case, as in so many others, added knowledge does not make it easier to reduce a complicated group of phenomena to one simple formula, either of praise or blame, and I therefore do not attempt to re‑write my former description. I may say, however, that fitful energy seems to me to be the special note of the character of Theodosius. He does not appear to have been either a patient or an industrious ruler, but he evidently produced a powerful impression on those with whom he came into contact, and when these were not trembling before his paroxysms of rage, I can well believe that they loved him.]

Thayer's Notes:

a Claudian's complete works, both in the original Latin and in English translation, are onsite; as complete a biography of the poet as is now possible is given in the editor's Introduction.

b Lanciani's book is onsite.

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