By Jacob Burckhardt
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Extra resources for Age of Constantine the Great
As historical sources these speeches must naturally be used with caution, but they tell us much ~at is valuable, and they are by nO means neghgIble as "terature. Their flattery is doubtless a continuation of the style which clulracterized the lost panegyrics of the thtrd century. With realism bordering on Impertinence the rhetor Identifies himself with the Emperor present III person, whom he conceives in the most exalted tenns. One after the other he divines the Emperor's thoughts, plans, and sentiments; here the subtle courtier exercises restraint, because even idealizing Rctron, let alone truth, may be incllscreet.
Valerian, at least as Emperor, seems to be the very soul of this corps. His mIlitary correspondence, part of which was dehberately preserved m the Historia Augusta, demonstrates precise knowledge of men and therr capacities and gives us a high opimon of the man who could recognize and promote Posthumus, Claudius Gothicus, Aurelian, and Probus. If there had been peace on the frontiers, perhaps the Senate would have had a regnlar share in goverument, as Decius and Aemilian deSigned. But since simultaneous barbaric incurSIOns from all directions threatened to overwhelm the Empire entirely and smce the true Rome had long abandoned the seven hills by the Tiber and was now to be found in the brave camps of Roman military leaders, It was only natural that the power of the state should also gravitate into the hands of the generals.
His colleagues in the Empire are almost equally devoted to superstition, without which, indeed, their long obedlence is hardly explIcable. They must have known that even theu elevation was due to superstitious considerations. What strange anxiehes, to us qUlte unintelligible, preceded Diocletian's adoptionsl A figure appeared to him in a dream, for example, and peremptorily commanded that he choose as Successor a certain man whose name was speCified. " We do not know to whom this palace anecdote refers, nor indeed whether it is correctly repOlted; it is surely significant nevertheless.
Age of Constantine the Great by Jacob Burckhardt