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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

A BARBARIAN, named Gaïnas, who had taken refuge among the Romans, and who had risen from the lowest ranks of the army to military command, formed a design to usurp the throne of the Roman empire. With this view, he invited his countrymen, the Goths, to invade the Roman territories; and promoted several of them, who were his particular friends, to the highest posts of the army. Tribigildes, a relative of his, who commanded a large body of troops in Phrygia, commenced an insurrection; and all persons of judgment rightly inferred, that he was acting in concert with Gaïnas. Under the pretext of resenting the devastation of many of the Phrygian cities, which had been committed to his super-intendence, Gaïnas hastened into that province; but on his arrival, he threw aside the mask he had assumed, and openly pillaged some cities, and prepared to take possession of others. He then proceeded to Bithynia, and threatened to attack Chalcedonia. The cities of the East, of Asia, and of the countries bordering on the Euxine, being thus menaced with imminent danger, the emperor and his counsellors judged that it would not be safe at so critical a juncture to give battle to the insurgents without having previously made due preparations, and sent to Gaïnas to offer him whatever he might demand. He requested that two consuls, named Saturninus and Aurelian, whom he suspected of being inimical to him, should be delivered up to him; and when they were in his power, he pardoned them. He afterwards held a conference with the emperor near Chalcedonia, in the house of prayer in which the tomb of St. Euphemius the martyr is deposited; and after he and the emperor had mutually bound themselves by vows of friendship to each other, he threw down his arms, and repaired to Constantinople, where, by an imperial edict, he was appointed general of the infantry and cavalry. Prosperity so far beyond his deserts was more than he could bear with moderation; and as, contrary to all expectation, he had succeeded so wonderfully in his former enterprise, he determined to undermine the peace of the Catholic Church. He was a Christian, and, like the rest of the Goths, had espoused the Arian heresy. Urged either by the solicitations of his party, or by the suggestions of his own ambition, he applied to the emperor to place one of the churches of the city in the hands of the Arians. He represented that it was neither just nor proper that, while he was at the head of the Roman troops, he should be compelled to retire without the walls of the city when he wished to engage in prayer. John did not remain inactive when made acquainted with these proceedings. He assembled all the bishops who were then residing in the city, and went with them to the palace. He spoke at great length in the presence of the emperor and of Gaïnas, reproached the latter with being a stranger and a fugitive, and reminded him that his life had been saved by the father of the emperor, to whom he had sworn fidelity, as likewise to his children, to the Romans, and to the laws which he was striving to violate. Then, addressing himself to the emperor, John exhorted him to maintain the laws which had been established against heretics, and told him that it would be better to be deprived of the empire, than to betray the house of God into the hands of the impious. Thus did John boldly contend in defence of the church that was under his care. Gaïnas, however, regardless of his oaths, attacked the city. His enterprise was pre-announced by the appearance of a comet directly over the city: this comet was of extraordinary magnitude, larger, indeed, than any that had previously been seen. Gaïnas intended to seize first upon the stores of the silversmiths, and to appropriate their enormous wealth. The silversmiths, however, received timely notice of his designs, and concealed the precious commodities, which were usually kept exposed to the view of the public. Gaïnas then sent some of the barbarians by night to set fire to the palace; but fear fell upon them, and they returned without executing the mandate. For when they drew near the edifice, they fancied that they saw before them a multitude of armed men of immense stature, and they returned to inform Gaïnas that fresh troops had just arrived. Gaïnas disbelieved their report, for he was confident that no troops had entered the city. As, however, other individuals whom he despatched to the palace for the same purpose, on the following night, returned with the same report, he went out himself to be an eye-witness of the extraordinary spectacle. Imagining that the army before him consisted of soldiers who had been withdrawn from other cities, and that these troops protected the city and palace by day, and concealed themselves by night, Gaïnas feigned to be possessed of a demon; and under the pretext of offering up prayer, went to the church which the father of the emperor had erected in honour of John the Baptist, at Hebdoma. Some of the Goths remained in Constantinople, and others accompanied Gaïnas, having first clandestinely provided themseves with weapons of war, which they placed in their chariots. The soldiers who guarded the gates of the city, stopped the chariots, and forbad them to carry away arms. The Goths, thereupon, slew the guards, and the city was immediately filled with as much confusion and uproar, as if it had suddenly fallen under the power of an enemy. A timely thought, however, occurred to the emperor at this perilous juncture, which was, to declare Gaïnas a public enemy, and to command that all the Goths within the city should be slain. No sooner was this mandate issued, than the soldiers rushed upon the Goths, and slew the greater number of them; they then set fire to the church which belonged to that people, and in which those who had escaped the sword had taken refuge; as the doors were closed, the barbarians could not effect an exit, and they all perished. On hearing of this calamity, Gaïnas passed through Thrace, and proceeded towards the Chersonnesus, intending to cross the Hellespont, and to subdue some of the Eastern provinces. His expectations proved as futile, however, on this occasion as before; and the Romans were again aided by the intervention of Divine power on their behalf. The emperor sent naval and military forces against the insurgents, under the command of Fravitas, who, although a barbarian by birth, was a good man, and an able general. The Goths, having no ships, imprudently attempted to cross the Hellespont on rafts, which, when the wind arose, were dashed to pieces against the Roman vessels. The greater part of the barbarians and their horses were drowned; but many were slain by the military. Gaïnas, however, with a few of his followers, escaped; but not long after, when making their way through Thrace, they fell in with another detachment of the Roman army, and Gaïnas, with all his barbarians, perished. Such was the termination of the life and daring schemes of Gaïnas.

Fravitas had rendered himself very conspicuous in this war, and was therefore appointed consul. During his consulate, and that of Vincent, a son was born to the emperor. The young prince was named after his grandfather, and, at the commencement of the next consulate, was proclaimed Augustus.








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