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165 See Eusebius in Vit, Constantin, l. ii. c. 56 Go. In the ser
C H. A. P. XXI. --"
mon to the assembly of saints, which the emperor pronourced when
be was mature in years and piety, he declares to the idolaters (c. xi.), that they are permitted to offer sacrifices, and to exercise every part of their religious worship.
7 of * See Eusebius, in Vit. Constantin. I. iii. c. 54–58. and in c. 23. 25. These atts of authority may be compared with the sup, pression. of the Bacchanals, and the denolition of the temple of Isis,
406 THE DECLINE AND FALL
c H A P. of the wisest of his predecessors, he condemned, XXI. under the most rigorous penalties, the occult and ‘TT impious arts of divination; which excited the vain hopes, and sometimes the criminal attempts, of those who were discontented with their present condition. An ignominious filence was imposed on the oracles, which had been publicly con. vićted of fraud and falsehood; the effeminate priests of the Nile were abolished ; and Constan. tine discharged the duties of a Roman censor, when he gave orders for the demolition of several temples of Phoenicia; in which every mode of prostitution was devoutly praślised in the face of day, and to the honour of Venus *. The Im. perial city of Constantinople was, in some mea. fure, raised at the expence, and was adorned with the spoils, of the opulent temples of Greece and Afia; the sacred property was confiscated; the statues of gods and heroes were transported, with rude familiarity, among a people who con. sidered them as objects, not of adoration, but of curiosity: the gold and silver were restored to cir. culation; and the magistrates, the bishops, and the eunuchs, improved the fortunate occasion of gratifying, at once, their zeal, their avarice, and their resentment. But these depredations were confined to a small part of the Roman world; and the provinces had been long fince accustomed to
by the magistrates of Pagan Raing. . . . : , ; *: . - - . . . . endure
*7 Eusebius (in Vit. Constant. l. iii. c. 54.) and Libanius (Orat. pro Templis, p. 9, 10. edit. Gothofred.), both mention the pious sacrilege of Constantine, which they viewed in very diff rent lights: The latter expressly declares, that “he made use of the sacred ino“ney, but made no alteration in the legal worship ; the temples “ indeed were impoverished, but the sacred rites were performed “ there.” Lardner's Jewish and Heathen Testimonies, vol. iv. P. 14o.
* Ammianus (xxii. 4.) speaks of some court eunuchs who were spoliis templorum pasti. Libanius says (Orat. pro Templ. p. 23.), that the emperor often gave away a temple, like a dog, or a horse, or a slave, or a gold cup : but the devout philosopher takes care to observe, that these sacrilegious favourites very seldom prospered.
** See Gothofred. Cod. Theodos. tom. vi. p. 262. Liban. Orat. Parental. c. x. in Fabric. Bibi, Giac. tom, vii. P. 235.
37° Placuit omnibus locis atque urbibus universis claudi protimus templa, et accessu vetitis omnibus licentiam delinquendi perditis abnegari. Volumus etiam cunétos a sacrificiis abstinere. Quod fiquis aliquid forte hujusmedi perpetraverit, gladio sternatur: facultates etiam perempti fisco decernimus vindicari: et similiter adfligi reetores provinciarum fi facinora vindicare neglexerint. Cod. Theodos, 1. xvi. tit.x. leg. 4. Chronology has discovered some contradićtion in the date of this extravagant law the only one, perhaps, by which the negligence of magistrates is punished by death and confiscation, M. de la Bastie (Mem. de l'Academie, tom. xv. p. 98.) conjeaures, with a shew of reason, that this was no more than the minutes of a law, the heads of an intended bill, which were found in Scriniis Memoriae, among the papers of Constantius, and afterwards in
sorted, as a worthy model, in the Theodosian code, bloody