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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Lydus gravely refers this calamitous


no great light on the earlier

history of the Roman magistracy, but gives some curious details of the changes and retrenchments in the offices of state, which took place at this time. The personal history of the author, with the account of his early and rapid advancement, and the emoluments of the posts which he successively held, with the bitter disappointment which he expresses, at finding himself, at the height of his ambition, in an unpaid place, is an excellent illustration of this statement. Gibbon has before, c. iv. n. 45, and c. xvii. n. 112, traced the progress of a Roman citizen to the highest honors of the state under the empire; the steps by which Lydus reached his humbler eminence may likewise throw light on the civil service at this period. He was first received into the office of the Praetorian praefect; became a notary in that office, and made in one year 1000 golden solidi, and that without extortion. His place and the influence of his relatives obtained him a wife with 400 pounds of gold for her dowry. He became chief chartularius, with an annual stipend of twenty-four solidi, and considerable emoluments for all the various services which he performed. He rose to an Augustalis, and finally to the dignity of Corniculus, the highest, and at one time the most lucrative office in the department. But the Praetorian praefect had gradually been deprived of his powers and his honors. He lost the superintendence of the supply and manufacture of arms; the uncontrolled charge of the public posts; the
levying of the troops; the command of the army in war when the emperors ceased nominally to command in person, but really through the Praetorian praefect; that of the household troops, which fell to the magister aulae. At length the office was so completely stripped of its power, as to be virtually abolished, (see de Magist. l. iii. c. 40, p. 220, &c.) This diminution of the office of the praefect destroyed the emoluments of his subordinate officers, and Lydus not only drew no revenue from his dignity, but expended upon it all the gains of his former services. Lydus gravely refers this calamitous, and, as he considers it, fatal degradation of the Praetorian office to the alteration in the style of the official documents from Latin to Greek; and refers to a prophecy of a certain Fonteius, which connected the ruin of the Roman empire with its abandonment of its language. Lydus chiefly owed his promotion to his knowledge of Latin!--M.]

After this precaution, I shall briefly relate the anecdotes of avarice and rapine under the following heads: I. Justinian was so profuse that he could not be liberal. The civil and military officers, when they were admitted into the service of the palace, obtained an humble rank and a moderate stipend; they ascended by seniority to a station of affluence and repose; the annual pensions, of which the most honorable class was abolished by Justinian, amounted to four hundred thousand pounds; and this domestic economy was deplored by the venal or indigent courtiers as the last outrage on the majesty of the empire. The posts, the salaries of physicians, and the nocturnal illuminations, were objects of more general concern; and the cities might justly complain, that he usurped the municipal revenues which had been appropriated to these useful institutions. Even the soldiers were injured; and such was the decay of military spirit, that they were injured with impunity. The emperor refused, at the return of each fifth year, the customary donative of five pieces of gold, reduced his veterans to beg their bread, and suffered unpaid


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