or GILDON (the first is the usual form in Latin writers, but Claudian, for metrical reasons, sometimes uses the second), a Moorish chieftain in the latter period of the Western Empire. His father, Nubel, was a man of power and influence "velut regulus," among the Moorish provincials, and left several sons, legitimate and illegitimate, of whom Firmus, Zamma, Gildo, Mascezel (written also Mascizel and Mascezil, and, by Zosimus, Μασκέλδηλος
), Dius, Salmaces, and Mazuca, and a daughter, Cyria, are mentioned by Amminus Marcellinus. Zamma, who was intimate with Count Romanus, was killed by Firmus; and the persecution which this murder provoked Romanus to institute drove Firmus into revolt (A. D. 372).
The revolt, in which Firmus was supported by his sister Cyria and by all his brothers, except Gildo, was quelled by the Count Theodosius, father of the emperor Theodosius the Great. Mazuca was mortally wounded and taken in the course of the war, and Firmus destroyed himself. Gildo rendered good service to Theodosius in this war, and thus apparently paved the way for his future advancement.
He subsequently attained the offices of Comes Africae, and Magister utriusque militiae per Africam. If we can trust to an expression of Claudian, that Africa groaned under his government for twelve years, his appointment to these offices must date from about A. D. 386, in the reign of Valentinian II. How he acted when Africa was seized by the rebel Maximus, A. D. 387 or 388, is not known; but from his continuing to hold the government of the province after the revolt of Maximus was quelled, itis probable that he continued faithful. The Codex Theodosianus (9. tit. 7. s. 9) shows that he possessed his high offices in A. D. 393.
In the war of Theodosius against Arbogastes and Eugenius (A. D. 394), Gildo acted very ambiguously.
It is probable that he professed allegiance to Theodosius, but did not send to him any contributions of ships, money, or men. Claudian intimates that Theodosius, irritated by this, proposed to attack him, but was prevented by death.
In A. D. 397 Gildo was instigated by Eutropius the eunuch to transfer his allegiance and that of his province from the western to the eastern empire, and the emperor Arcadius accepted him as a subject. Stilicho, guardian of Honorius, was not disposed quietly to allow this transfer, and the matter was laid before the Roman senate, which proclaimed Gildo an enemy, and denounced war against him. Just about this time, Mascezel, brother of Gildo, either disapproving his revolt, or having had his life attempted by him, fled into Italy, leaving in Africa two sons, who were serving in the army there, and whom Gildo forthwith put to death. Mascezel, who had shown soldierly qualities in the revolt of Firmus, was placed by Stilicho at the head of the troops (apparently 5000 in number, though Zosimus speaks of "ample forces"), sent against Gildo (A. D. 398). Mascezel, who was a Christian, took with him several monks; and his prayers, fastings, and other religious exercises, were very constant.
He landed in Africa, and marched to a place between Thebeste in Numidia and Metridera in Africa Proper, where he was met by Gildo, who, though not yet fully prepared for defence, had assembled an irregular army of 70,000 men, partly Roman troops who had revolted with him, partly a motley assembly of African tribes. Mascezel, whose enthusiasm was excited by a dream, in which St. Ambrose. lately deceased at Milan, appeared to him and promised him victory, easily routed the forces of his brother; and Gildo, who had managed to escape to the sea, was driven by contrary winds into the harbour of Tabraca, and being taken and imprisoned, put an end to his own life by hanging himself (A. D. 398).
If any confidence may be placed in the representations of Clandian, Gildo was a tyrant detestable alike for cruelty, lust, and avarice: the poet describes him as worn out with age at the time of his revolt.
He was a Pagan, but his wife and his daughter Salvina (who had been married somewhere about A. D. 390 to Nebridius, nephew of Flacilla [FLACILLA], first wife of the emperor Theodosius the Great, and had been left a widow with two children,) were ladies of approved piety, as was also Cyria, sister of Gildo, who had devoted herself to a life of perpetual virginity.
Mascezel did not long survive his brother.
He was received by Stilicho on his return with apparent honour and real jealousy, and while crossing a bridge, apparently at Milan, among the retinue of Stilicho, was, by his order, shoved, as if accidentally, into the river, carried away by the stream, and drowned. Orosius regards his death as a divine judgment for his having been puffed up with pride at his victory, and having forsaken the society of the monks and religious persons with whom he before kept company, and especially for having dragged some accused persons out of a church, where they had taken sanctuary.
This change of demeanour excites a suspicion that his former exercises of piety were a feint to excite the enthusiasm of his own army, or act upon the superstitious fears of his opponents. (Amm. Marc. 29.5
; Oros. 7.36
; Zosim. 5.11; Marcellin. Chron.;
Claudian, de Bell. Gildon.,
and de Laudibus Stilichonis,
lib. i.; Hieronymus, Epist.
lxxxv., ad Salvinam
vol. iv. co.. 663, ed. Benedict; Tillemont, Hist. des Emp.
vol. v.; Gibbon, 100.29.)