The Ancient Library

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Cisalpine Gaul. When at length overtaken near Placentia, they avoided a battle and sought shelter in a thick forest. Issuing from thence under cloud of night, they attacked and dispersed the Romans with great slaughter, and, advancing into Umbria, threatened the dissolution of the empire. Aurelian, however, having rallied his army, defeated the in­vaders near Fano, and in two subsequent engage­ments.

During the panic caused by the first alarm of this inroad, a formidable sedition had arisen in the city. Aurelian, upon his return from the pursuit, giving way to his natural violence of temper, exe­cuted bloody vengeance upon the authors of the plot, and upon all to whom the slightest suspicion attached. Numbers suffered death, and many no­ble senators were sacrificed upon the most frivolous charges. Ammianus distinctly asserts, that the wealthiest were selected as victims, in order that their confiscated fortunes might replenish an ex­hausted treasury.

Aurelian next turned his arms against the far-famed Zenobia [zenobia], queen of Palmyra, the widow of Odenathus [odenathus], who had been permitted by Gallienus to participate in the title of Augustus, and had extended his sway over a large portion of Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt. The Romans on their march vanquished various barba­rous tribes on the Thracian border, who opposed their progress. Passing over the Bosporus, they continued their triumphant course through Bithy-nia, which yielded without resistance, stormed Tyana, which had closed its gates at their ap­proach, and at length encountered the forces of Zenobia on the banks of the Orontes, not far from Antioch. The Palmyrenians, being driven from their position, retreated to Emesa, where they were a se­cond time overpowered in a bloody battle and forced to retire upon their capital. Aurelian pursued them across the desert, which he passed in safety, al­though harassed by the constant attacks of the Bedouins, and proceeded at once to invest Palmyra, which surrendered after a long and obstinate de­fence, the queen herself having been previously captured in an attempt to effect her escape to Per­sia. A profound sensation was produced by these events, and embassies poured in from all the most powerful nations beyond the Euphrates, bearing gifts and seeking friendship. The affairs of these regions having been fully arranged, the emperor set out on his return to Italy. At Byzantium he was overtaken by the intelligence that the inhabitants of Palmyra had revolted, had murdered the gover­nor and Roman garrison, and proclaimed a relation of Zenobia Augustus. He immediately turned back, marched direct to Palmyra, which he entered unopposed, massacred the whole population, and razed the city to the ground, leaving orders, how­ever, to restore the temple of the Sun, which had been pillaged by the soldiers. While yet in Me­sopotamia, it became known that Egypt had risen in rebellion, and acknowledged a certain Firmus as their prince. Aurelian instantly hurried to Alex­andria, put to death the usurper, and then returned to Rome.

But Aurelian's labours were not yet over. All the provinces of the East, Greece, Italy, Illyria, and Thrace, now owned his sway ; but Gaul, Britain, and Spain were still in the hands of Tetricus [TB-tricus], who had been declared emperor a short time before the death of Gallienus, and had been left



in undisturbed possession by Claudius, who was fully occupied in resisting the Germans and Goths on the Upper and Lower Danube. Tetricus, however, finding that disaffection prevailed among his legions, is said to have privately entered into negotiations with Aurelian. A battle was fought near Chalons, during the heat of which Tetricus surrendered himself, and his soldiers, being then left without a commander, were cut to pieces. Thus the Roman empire, which had been dismembered for more than thirteen years, was now once more restored to its former integrity. In honour of the long series of victories by which this result had been obtained, a magnificent triumph was celebrated at Rome, such as had never been witnessed since the days of Pompey and Jiilius Caesar. Among the long pro­cession of captives which defiled along the Sacred Way, three might be seen, who engrossed the at­tention of all—Zenobia, Tetricus, and his son— a queen, an Augustus, and a Caesar.

For a brief period, the emperor was enabled to devote his attention to domestic improvements and reforms. Several laws were passed to restrain pro­fusion and luxury. The poor were relieved by a liberal distribution of the necessaries of life ; quays were erected along the river, and many works of public utility commenced. The most important of all was the erection of a new line of strongly forti­fied walls, embracing a much more ample circuit than the old ones, which had long since fallen into ruin; but this vast plan was not completed until the reign of Probus.

About this time, a formidable disturbance arose among the persons entrusted with the management of the mint, who had been detected in extensive frauds, and, to escape the punishment of their crimes, had incited to insurrection a great multitude. So fierce was the outbreak, that seven thousand sol­diers are said to have been slain in a fight upon the Coelian hill; but the riot, which almost deserves the name of a civil war, was at length suppressed.

After a short residence in the city, Aurelian re­paired to Gaul, and then visited in succession the provinces on the Danube, checking by his presence the threatened aggressions of the restless tribes who were ever ready to renew their attacks. He at this time carried into effect a measure which, although offensive to the vanity of his countrymen, was dic­tated by the wisest policy. Dacia, which had been first conquered by Trajan, but for a long series of years had been the seat of constant war, was en­tirely abandoned, and the garrisons transported to the south bank of the Danube, which was hence­forward, as in the time of Augustus, considered the boundary of the empire.

A large force was now collected in Thrace in preparation for an expedition against the Persians. But the career of the warlike prince was drawing to a close. A certain Mnestheus, his freedman and private secretary, had betrayed his trust, and, conscious of guilt, contrived by means of forged documents to organise a conspiracy among some of the chief leaders of the army. While Aurelian was on the march between Heracleia and Byzan­tium, he was suddenly assailed, and fell by the hands of an officer of high rank, named Mucapor. The treachery of Mnestheus was discovered when it was too late. He was seized and condemned to be cast to wild beasts.

It will be seen from the above sketch that Au­relian was a soldier of fortune; that he possessed

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