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978 UNIVERSAL HISTORYTHE ANCIENT WORLD.

vicious disposition, until he was slain in a mutiny headed by Magnentius. The latter was

proclaimed Emperor by the soldiers in Gaul;

but the Illyrian legions declared for their own

commander, Vetranio. These disturbances

gave a fine opportunity to Constantius, who

was now engaged in a war with the Persians,

to assert his supremacy over the whole Empire

ruled by his father. Having recently achieved

some marked successes over his enemy in the

East, he turned his attention to the pretender

Vetranio, who on his approach broke down

and threw himself at the Emperor's feet, begging for pardon. A reconciliation was at once

effected, and Constantius advanced against

Magnentius, whom he encountered at Mursa,

in Pannonia. Here was fought one of the

bloodiest battles recorded in Roman history.

The army of Magnentius was routed and

driven into Aquileia. Expelled from this city,

the usurper fled into Gaul, but was followed by

the victor, again defeated and slain. Thus,

in A. D. 353, Constantius found himself sole

ruler of the dominions held by his father.

This great success of the Emperor in the

West was but an episode in Ids conflict with

the Persians. This warlike people, thoroughly

revived by the energy of the Sassanian kings,

held out stoutly against the veteran legions of

the Empire. Nearly the whole reign of Constantius, covering a period of more than forty

years, was occupied in an unintermitting struggle with Sapor II, who for seventy-one years

upheld the honor of his country.

In A. D. 354 Gallus, cousin of the Emperor, who had been honored with a high

command in the East, rebelled against the

government, but was soon defeated and put to

death. Only Julianus, his brother, remained

as a possible rival of Constantius. The latter

now determined to pay a visit to Rome. It

was an occasion of far greater pomp than had

been witnessed in the ancient capital since the

days of Diocletian.

It is opportune at the present point to explain the rapid growth during the fourth century of the power and influence of the bishops

of Rome. The withdrawal of the Emperors

to Constantinople, and even before this movement their residence in Gaul and at other distant points in the Empire, had left Roman

society more and more to the dominion of

local influences. They who had been members

of the Imperial governmentconsuls, censors,

praetors, et id omne genusbecame merely the

officers of a municipality. The wealthier

class of citizens generally professed the ancient paganism. The aggressive and popular

elements of society had for the most part

turned to Christianity. The pagan priesthood

receded and fell away, together with the decline of the secular powers with which it was

associated. The new priesthood rose in influence and was borne along with those tendencies

which, stimulated by the ambiguous support

of Constantine the Great, grew rapidly and

luxuriantly when Rome was finally left to

herself. In the absence or decline of secular

influence in the Imperial power in the Eternal

City there was the most favorable opportunity

for the assumption of power by the young and

vigorous hierarchy; and at the head of this

hierarchy as representing its unity of nature

and purpose stood the bishop. The disputes

between the pagans and Christians of Rome

concerning the person of God and the destiny

of man had become more interesting, more

vital to the Romans than any other questions

of the day, and the bishop became at once the

arbiter of debate and the father of society.

Such was already the high rank which this

functionary had attained that even Constantius, himself unorthodox (for he had become a

follower of Arius), took counsel with Liberius,

the bishop of Rome, respecting the deposition

of Athanasius from the see of Alexandria.

The popefor this name may now be properly

used of the Roman pontiffat first assented

to the excommunication of Athanasius, but

afterwards received him and was himself won

over to orthodoxy. In the disputes which

followed between the Emperor and the Holy

See the tone assumed by Liberius indicated in

an unmistakable way that an Empire had

risen within the Empire which would no longer

down at the Imperial bidding. Constantius

was obliged to content himself with calling a

council (A. D. 359) at Ariminum, in which

the doctrines of Arius were reaffirmed and

those of Athanasius condemned. Two years