Chapter XII.—Of Valentinianus the great Emperor.
Valentinianus, 637 who shortly afterwards became emperor, was at that time a Tribune and commanded the Hastati quartered in the palace. He made no secret of his zeal for the true religion. On one occasion when the infatuated emperor was going in solemn procession into the sacred enclosure of the Temple of Fortune, on either side of the gates stood the temple servants purifying, as they supposed, all who were coming in, with their sprinkling whisks. As Valentinianus walked before the emperor, he noticed that a drop had fallen on his own cloak and gave the attendant a blow with his fist, “for,” said he, “I am not purified but defiled.” For this deed he won two empires. On seeing what had happened Julian the accursed sent him to a fortress in the desert, and ordered him there to remain, but after the lapse of a year and a few months he received the empire as a reward of his confession of the faith, for not only in the life that is to come does the just Judge honour them that care for holy things, but sometimes even here below He bestows recompense for good deeds, confirming the hope of guerdons yet to be received by what he gives in abundance now.
But the tyrant devised another contrivance against the truth, for when according to ancient custom he had taken his seat upon the imperial throne to distribute gold among the ranks of his soldiery, contrary to custom he had an altar full of hot coals introduced, and incense put upon a table, and ordered each man who was to receive the p. 102 gold first to throw incense on the altar, and then to take the gold from his own right hand. The majority were wholly unaware of the trap thus laid; but those who were forewarned feigned illness and so escaped this cruel snare. Others in their eagerness for the money made light of their salvation while another group abandoned their faith through cowardice.
Valentinianus, a native of Cibalis (on the Save) in Pannonia (Bosnia) was elected Feb. 26, 364, and reigned till Nov. 17, 375. Though a Christian, he was tolerant of paganism, or the peasants religion, as in his reign heathenism began to be named (Codex Theod. xvi. ii. 18). The “shortly after” of the text means some two years.