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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

THE Sarmatæ after this having made incursions into the Roman territories, the emperor marched against them with a numerous army: but when the barbarians understood the formidable nature of this expedition, they sent an embassy to him to sue for peace on certain conditions. On the ambassadors being introduced to the emperor’s presence, and appearing to him to be a very contemptible set of fellows, he enquired whether all the Sarmatæ were such as they were? They replied that the noblest personages of their whole nation had come to him. At this answer Valentinian became excessively enraged, and exclaimed with great vehemence, that the Roman empire was indeed most wretched in devolving upon him at a time when a nation of such despicable barbarians, not content with being permitted to exist in safety within their own limits, dared to take up arms, invade the Roman territories, and break forth into open war. The violence of his manner and utterance of these words was so great, that his veins were opened by the effort, and the arteries ruptured; and from the vast quantity of blood which thereupon gushed forth he died. This occurred at Bergition Castle, after Gratian’s third consulate in conjunction with Equitius, on the seventeenth day of November, in the fifty-fourth year of his age, and the thirteenth of his reign. Six days after his death the soldiery proclaimed his son Valentinian, then a young child, emperor, at Acincum a city of Italy. This premature act greatly displeased the other two emperors, one of whom (Gratian) was the brother, and the other (Valens) the uncle of young Valentinian; not indeed because of his having been declared emperor, but on account of the military presuming to proclaim him without consulting them, when they themselves wished to have done so. They both however ratified the transaction, and thus was Valentinian junior seated on his father’s throne. Now this Valentinian was born of Justina, whom Valentinian senior married while Severa his former wife was alive, under the following circumstances. Justus the father of Justina, who had been governor of Picenum under the reign of Constantius, had a dream in which he seemed to himself to bring forth the imperial purple out of his right side. When this dream had been told to many persons, it at length came to the knowledge of Constantius, who conjecturing it to be a presage that a descendant of Justus would become emperor, caused him to be assassinated. Justin a being thus bereft of her father, still continued a virgin. Some time after she became known to Severa, wife of the emperor Valentinian, and had frequent intercourse with the empress, until their intimacy at length grew to such an extent that they were accustomed to bathe together. Severa on seeing Justina in the bath was greatly struck with her virgin beauty, and spoke of her to the emperor; saying that the daughter of Justus was so lovely a creature, and possessed of such symmetry of form, that she herself, though a woman, was altogether charmed with her. This discourse having made a strong impression on the emperor’s mind, he considered with himself how he could espouse Justina, without repudiating Severa, who had borne him Gratian, whom he had created Augustus a little while before. He accordingly framed a law, and caused it to be published throughout all the cities, by which any man was permitted to have two lawful wives. Having promulgated this law, he married Justina, by whom he had Valentinian junior, and three daughters, Justa, Grata, and Galla; the two former of whom persisted in their resolution of continuing virgins: but Galla was afterwards married to the emperor Theodosius the Great, who had by her a daughter named Placidia. For that prince had Arcadius and Honorius by Flaccilla his former wife: we shall however enter into particulars respecting Theodosius and his sons in the proper place.








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