The Ancient Library

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Arbogastes, who had served Gratian with fidelity, and had contributed under Theodosius to the over­throw of Maximus, was appointed master-general of the forces in Gaul. But he aspired to govern a master who had not vigour enough to command obedience, and the emperor's authority gradually declined. In A. d. 392 Valentinian made a last effort to resume his power, and he personally an­nounced to Arbogastes that he was dismissed from all his employments. The general received the announcement with contempt j and in a few days after Valentinian was found dead. It was believed that he had been strangled by order of Arbogastes. The barbarian, who did not think it prudent to assume the imperial purple, set up Eugenius, a rhetorician, and formerly his secretary, as emperor of the West. Theodosius received the ambassadors of Eugenius, who announced his elevation, with dissembled indignation, for he was ill disposed to renew a war in the west, which he had only just ended. But his own pride, and the tears of his wife Galla, the sister of Valentinian, urged him to punish the usurper. Two years were spent in the preparation for this war ; but the emperor, with prudent precaution, imitating the example of those who consulted the god of Delphi in the times of heathenism, sent a favourite eunuch to ask the advice of John of Lycopolis, an Egyptian anchorite, whether he should make war on Eugenius, or wait till Eugenius attacked him. John declared that Theodosius would be victorious, but yet not without loss and bloodshed, as in the war with Maximus ; that he would die in Italy after his victory, and leave to his son the empire of the west. " Thus Theodosius did not engage in this war any more than in the other, except by the order which God gave to him by his prophet." (Tillemont).

Theodosius prepared himself to fulfil the prophecy by recruiting his legions, with the aid of his two master-generals Stilicho and Timasius. Arbogastes, who commanded for Eugenius, posted himself on the border of Italy, but allowed Theodosius to pass the Julian Alps, and enter the plains which extend to Aquileiu. Here he found the formidable army of Arbogastes, consisting of hardy Gauls and Ger­mans. Theodosius attacked the enemy, but he was compelled to retire with great loss, particularly of his Gothic allies. Arbogastes now occupied the passes in his rear, and the emperor's position was most critical. But he was saved by the treachery of the generals of Eugenius, who sent to express their readiness to desert, if the rewards which they asked were granted. Theodosius accepted their conditions, and led his troops to a fresh attack on the camp of the enemy. A tempest, that rose during the battle, and blew full in the face of the troops of Eugenius, contributed to their discomfiture and the victory of Theodosius. The head of Eugenius was separated from his body, while he was suing for mercy at the feet of his conqueror; and Arbo­gastes, after wandering in the mountains, terminated his fortunes by his own sword. Theodosius re­ceived the submission of the west, and, at the intercession of Arnbrosius, used his victory with moderation.

Theodosius died on the seventeenth of January A. D. 395, four months after the defeat of Eugenius, whether, as some say, in consequence of the fatigues of war, or, as others, in consequence of intemperate habits, it is not possible to decide. The two sons, Arcadius and Honorius, had already been elevated



to the rank of Augusti, and it was arranged that the empire should be divided between them. Honorius was not in the war against Eugenius, but he came to Milan before his father died, and received from him the gift of the empire of the west. The arrival of Honorius was celebrated by the games of the Circus, at which the dying em­peror assisted.

The formal destruction of paganism marks the reign of this orthodox emperor. " The ruin of paganism, in the age of Theodosius," says Gibbon, " is perhaps the only example of the total extir­pation of any ancient and popular superstition, and may therefore deserve to be considered as a singular event in the history of the human mind." Without admitting the truth of this remark as to the total extirpation of paganism, we must assign to Theo­dosius the design to extirpate it. His rigorous steps towards the overthrow of the ancient religion are traced by Tillemont with minute diligence (vol. v. p. 229, &c.). In December 381 he prohibited sacrifices, either by day or by night, in the temples or out of the temples ; and also he forbade the curious inquisition into futurity by the examination of the viscera of animals. Libanius, in his oration in defence of the temples, written probably about A. d. 384, savs, that the laws of Theodosius at that

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time had not closed the temples, nor prohibited persons from going there, nor the burning of incense, but only the sacrifice of animals. But so long as the temples existed, the old religion would subsist; and therefore to destroy it the temples must be destroyed. Libanius complains that people, clothed in black (no doubt he means monks,) ran in bodies to the temples, overthrew the altars, pulled down the roofs and the walls, and sometimes killed the priests who resisted. He says, however, that soldiers were also employed in this work of demolition, and that in fact no temples were destroyed without the order of the emperor. Some few temples were converted into Christian churches, and thus pre­served ; " but in almost every province of the Roman world, an army of fanatics, without autho­rity and without discipline, invaded the peaceful inhabitants ; arid the ruin of the fairest structures of antiquity still displays the ravages of those bar­barians, who alone had time and inclination to execute such laborious destruction." (Gibbon.) The lands of the temples were probably given to the Christian churches as a general rule. (Tillemont.) Cynegius, the praetorian prefect of the East, was sent by Theodosius in 386 into Egypt, the seat of all monstrous superstitions, with a commission to prohibit idolatry, and to close the temples. It does not appear that he had any power to destroy them. It was probably not till 389 that the Christians obtained their great triumph over the idolatry of Egypt, by the destruction of the magnificent temple of Serapis at Alexandria. The fall of this great idol shook the popular belief of Egypt to its found­ation. The emperor had given his orders to destroy the statue of Serapis ; but the heathens believed that the deity would resent the slightest affront to his majesty. A soldier, bolder than the rest, en­couraged by the archbishop Theophilus, dealt a blow against the cheek of Serapis with a ponderous axe, and the face of the idol fell to the ground. The deity silently submitted to his fate ; the idol was broken in pieces, and dragged through the streets of Alexandria. The overthrow of the old religion, which was still practised, was accomplished

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