The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Maxentius


ambition was next turned towards the more im­portant acquisitions of Rhodes and Cos ; and it was apparently as a preliminary step to that object that he overthrew the democracy in the former 'island, and established there an oligarchical govern­ment in the hands of his own friends. (Dem. de Rhod. Lib. pp. 191,198.) Shortly after (b. c. 358) he joined with the Rhodians, Byzantians, and Chians in the war waged by them against the Athenians, known by the name of the Social War, of which indeed he was, according to Demosthenes, the prime mover and instigator, though we do not hear of his taking any farther part in it than sending a body of troops to assist in the defence of Chios. (Dem. I. c, ; Diod. xvi. 7.) He died, ac­cording to Diodorus (xvi. 36) in b. c. 353, after a reign of twenty-four years, leaving no children, and was succeeded by his wife and sister Arte-misia. The extravagant grief of. the latter for his death, and the honours she paid to his memory—• especially by the erection of the costly monument, which was called from him the Mausoleum, and was accounted one of the seven wonders of the world—are well known. [artemisia.] On oc­casion of the consecration of that monument, a prize was proposed by Artemisia for the best panegyric of her husband, and th* praises of Mausolus were celebrated by rival orators, among whom Theo-pompus was the successful candidate. (Gell. x. 18.) Nevertheless, the character transmitted to us of the Carian prince is by no means one of un-mixed praise. He is said to have been very greedy of money, which he sought to accumulate by every means in his power, and thus amassed vast trea­sures at the expense of his subjects. The sums thus accumulated were in great part expended upon the decoration of his new capital, Halicar-nassjis, to which he had transferred the seat of government from Mylasa, the residence of the former princes of Caria, and where he not only constructed a splendid palace for himself, but adorned the city with a new agora, temples, and many other public works. So much taste and judgment, as well as magnificence, were displayed by him in these improvements, that they are cited by Vitruvius as a model in their kind. (Vitruv. ii. 8. §§11, 13.) The reception afforded by him to the. astronomer Eudoxus (Diog. Lae'rt. viii. 87) is also a sign that he was not without tastes of an elevated character. (Strab. xiv. p. 656 j Lucian. /. c. ; Theopomp. ap. Harpocrat. et Suid. s. vv. Mav-crcwAos, 'ApTG/uLLo-ia ; Polyaen.vii.23. $ 1; Plin. H. N. xxxvi. 6.) Concerning the chronology of his reign see Clinton, F. H. vol. ii. p. 286. [E. H. B.]


MAXENTIUS, Roman emperor A. d. 306— 312. M. aurelius valerius maxentius, the son of Maximianus Herculius and Eutropia, re­ceived in marriage the daughter of Galerius; but in consequence, it would seem; of his indolent and



dissolute habits, was altogether passed over in the division of the empire which followed the abdica­tion of his father and Diocletian in A. d. 305. A strong feeling of disaffection towards the existing government prevailed at this time in Rome, arising from the pressure of increased taxation upon the nobles and wealthier classes, from the discontent of the praetorians who had been recently deprived of all their exclusive privileges, and from the indigna­tion which pervaded the whole community, in con­sequence of the degradation of the ancient metro­polis by the selection of Nicomedeia and Milan as the residences of the Augusti. It proved no diffi­cult task for the neglected prince to turn this angry spirit to his own advantage, and to place himself at the head of the party who styled themselves patriots* A regular conspiracy was soon organised and eagerly supported by men of all ranks, the standard of open revolt was raised, the feeble re­sistance of the few magistrates who remained true to their allegiance was easily overcome, Maxentius was proclaimed emperor on the 28th of October, a. d. 306, amidst the most enthusiastic demonstra­tions of zeal by the senate, the populace, and the soldiery; all Italy followed the example of the capital; and Africa, acquiescing in the choice, struck medals in honour of the new ruler. Severus [severus flavius valerius], to whom the guardianship of these provinces had been com­mitted, straightway marched upon Rome to sup­press what he vainly deemed a trifling insurrection; but a large body of his troops having deserted to their old commander, Maximianus, who, upon the invitation of his son, had quitted his retreat in Lu-cania, and had again assumed the purple, the Caesar was compelled to retreat in all haste to Ravenna, hotly pursued by the veteran. In an evil hour he was persuaded by treacherous representations to quit this almost impregnable stronghold, and to trust to the clemency of his foe, who, having once ob­tained possession of his person, granted him nothing save the liberty of choosing the manner of his death (a. d. 307). Galerius, enraged by these disasters, hastened, at the head of a numerous host, drawn from Illyria and the East, to chastise the usurper ; but the military talents of Maximianus devised a system of defence which paralysed the energies of his opponent. The invader found him­self in a desert, the whole population had quitted the open country, every town capable of resistance shut its gates, and thus, although he penetrated almost unmolested to within less than a hundred miles of the city, the embarrassments by which he was surrounded, from want of supplies, from ene­mies in his rear, and from the doubtful fidelity of his soldiers, proved so numerous, that he considered it prudent to make overtures of peace ; and when they were contemptuously rejected, commenced a hasty retreat. Maxentius, relieved from these im­minent dangers, proceeded to disentangle himself from the control which his father sought to exer­cise ; and having succeeded in driving him from the court [maximianus], turned his arms against Africa, where a certain Alexander had established an independent sway. The contest was quickly terminated by the destruction of the pretender, and the victory was savagely abused i The whole country was ravaged with fire and sword ; Car­thage, at that epoch one of the most splendid cities in the world, was made the scene of a general con­flagration and massacre, after which the conqueror

3 r 2

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of