A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

Maximianus Herculius having equipped a naval force at Boulogne for the purpose of repressing the outrages of the Franks, who cruising from place to place in their light sloops were devastating the coasts of Holland, Gaul, and Spain, gave the command of the armament to a certain Carausius, a main of humble extraction, born in Menapia, a district between the Scheldt and Meuse, who had been bred a pilot and had distinguished himself as a soldier in the war against the Bagaudae. Carausius was by no means deficient in zeal and energy, but after a time his peculiar tactics and rapidly increasing wealth gave rise to a suspicion, probably not ill founded, that he permitted the pirates to commit their ravages unmolested, and then watching for their return, seized the ships laden with plunder and appropriated to his own use the greater portion of the spoils thus captured. Herculius accordingly gave orders for his death, but the execution of this mandate was anticipated by the vigilance of the intended victim, who having crossed the channel with the fleet, which was devoted to his interests, and having succeeded in gaining over the troops quartered in Britain, established himself in that island and assumed the title of Augustus. His subsequent measures were characterised by the greatest vigour and prudence. A number of new galleys was constructed with all speed, alliances were formed with various barbarous tribes, who were carefully disciplined as sailors, and the usurper soon became master of all the western seas. After several ineffectual attempts to break his power, Diocletian and Maximianus found it necessary to acknowledge him as their colleague in the empire, an event commemorated by a medal bearing as a device three busts with appropriate emblems and the legend CARAVSIVS. ET. FRATRES. SVL, while on the reverse we read the, words PAX,

AVGGG., or, in some cases, LAETITIA. AVGGG., or HILARITAS. AVGGG. On a second coin we find a laurelled head with IMP. C. CARAVSIVS. P. F. AVG., and on the reverse JOVI. ET. HERCVLI. CONS. AVG., indicating Jovius Diocletianus and Herculius Maximinianus, and to a third we are indebted for the name M. AURELIUS VALERIUS, an appellation probably borrowed from his recently adopted brother. These transactions took place about A. D. 287, and for six years the third Augustus maintained his authority without dispute; but upon the elevation of Constantius the efforts of the new Caesar were at once directed to the recovery of Britain. Boulogne fell after a protracted siege, and Constantius was making active and extensive preparations for a descent upon the opposite coast, when Carausius was murdered by his chief officer, Allectus. This happened in 293. Such are the only facts known to us with regard to this remarkable man. Of his private character and domestic policy we are unable to speak, for the abusive epithets applied to him so liberally by the panegyrists indicate nothing except the feelings entertained at the imperial court, which could have been of no friendly description. (Eutrop. 9.21; Aurel. Vict. Caes. xxxix., Epit. xxxix., who calls this emperor Charausio; Oros. 7.25; Panegyr. Vet. 2.12, 4.6-8, 12, 5.4, 11, 6.5, 8, 7.9, 8.25; Genebrier, l'Histoire de Carausius prouvée par les Médailles, Paris, 4to. 1740; Stukely, Medallic History of Carausius, London, 4to. 1757-59, full of the most extravagant conjectures and inventions.)