Young Folks' History of Rome eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 189 pages of information about Young Folks' History of Rome.

CHAPTER XXXIX.

VALENTINIAN AND HIS FAMILY.

364-392.

When Jovian died, the army chose another soldier named Valentinian, a stout, brave, rough man, with little education, rude and passionate, but a Catholic Christian.  As soon as he reached Constantinople, he divided the empire with his brother Valens, whom he left to rule the East, while he himself went to govern the West, chiefly from Milan, for the Emperors were not fond of living at Rome, partly because the remains of the Senate interfered with their full grandeur, and partly because there were old customs that were inconvenient to a Christian Emperor.  He was in general just and honest in his dealings, but when he was angry he could be cruel, and it is said he had two bears to whom criminals were thrown.  His brother Valens was a weaker and less able man, and was an Arian, who banished Athanasius once more for the fifth time; but the Church of Alexandria prevailed, and he was allowed to remain and die in peace.  The Creed that bears his name is not thought to be of his writing, but to convey what he taught.  There was great talk at this time all over the cities about the questions between the Catholics and Arians, and good men were shocked by hearing the holiest mysteries of the faith gossiped about by the idlers in baths and market-places.

[Illustration:  ALEXANDRIA.]

At this time Damasus, the Pope, desired a very learned deacon of his church, named Jerome, to make a good translation of the whole of the Scriptures into Latin, comparing the best versions, and giving an account of the books.  For this purpose Jerome went to the Holy Land, and lived in a cell at Bethlehem, happy to be out of the way of the quarrels at Rome and Constantinople.  There, too, was made the first translation of the Gospels into one of the Teutonic languages, namely, the Gothic.  The Goths were a great people, of the same Teutonic race as the Germans, Franks, and Saxons—­tall, fair, brave, strong, and handsome—­and were at this time living on the north bank of the Danube.  Many of their young men hired themselves to fight as soldiers in the Roman army; and they were learning Christianity, but only as Arians.  It was for them that their Bishop Ulfilas translated the Gospels into Gothic, and invented an alphabet to write them in.  A copy of this translation is still to be seen at Upsal in Sweden, written on purple vellum in silver letters.

[Illustration:  GOTHS.]

Another great and holy man of this time was Ambrose, the Archbishop of Milan, who was the guide and teacher of Gratian, Valentinian’s eldest son, a good and promising youth so far as he went, but who, after the habit of the time, was waiting to be baptized till he should be further on in life.  Valentinian’s second wife was named Justina; and when he died, as it is said, from breaking a blood-vessel in a fit of rage, in 375, the Western Empire was shared between her little son Valentinian and Gratian.

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Young Folks' History of Rome from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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