Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race
Page: 33The Dream Realized
After this the thirteen envoys departed, and returned to the emperor in such haste that when their horses failed they gave no heed, but took others and pressed on. When they reached Rome and informed Maxen Wledig of the success of their mission he at once gathered his army and marched across Europe towards Britain. When the Roman emperor had crossed the sea he conquered Britain from Beli the son of Manogan, [Pg 49] and made his way to Arvon. On entering the castle he saw first the two youths, Kynon and Adeon, playing chess, then their father, Eudav, the son of Caradoc, and then his beloved, the beauteous Helena, daughter of Eudav. “Empress of Rome, all hail!” Maxen Wledig said; and the princess bent forward in her chair and kissed him, for she knew he was her destined husband. The next day they were wedded, and the Emperor Maxen Wledig gave Helena as dowry all Britain for her father, the son of the gallant Caradoc, and for herself three castles, Caernarvon, Caerlleon, and Caermarthen, where she dwelt in turn; and in one of them was born her son Constantine, the only British-born Emperor of Rome. To this day in Wales the old Roman roads that connected Helena’s three castles are known as “Sarn Helen.”
CHAPTER III: THE STORY OF CONSTANTINE AND ELENE
The Greatness of Constantine Provokes Attack
IN the year 312, the sixth year after Constantine had become emperor, the Roman Empire had increased on every hand, for Constantine was a mighty leader in war, a gracious and friendly lord in peace; he was a true king and ruler, a protector of all men. So mightily did he prosper that his enemies assembled great armies against him, and a confederation to overthrow him was made by the terrible Huns, the famous Goths, the brave Franks, and the warlike Hugas. This powerful confederation sent against Constantine an overwhelming army of Huns, whose numbers seemed to be countless, and yet the Hunnish leaders feared, when they knew that the emperor himself led the small Roman host.
The Eve of the Battle
The night before the battle Constantine lay sadly in the midst of his army, watching the stars, and dreading the result of the next day’s conflict; for his warriors were few compared with the Hunnish multitude, and even Roman discipline and devotion might not win the day against the mad fury of the barbarous Huns. At last, wearied out, the emperor slept, and a vision came to him in his sleep. He seemed to see, standing by him, a beautiful shining form, a man more glorious than the sons of men, who, as Constantine sprang up ready helmed for war, addressed him by name. The darkness of night fled before the heavenly light that shone from the angel, and the messenger said:
The Lord of all glory, the Master of heaven’s hosts,
Claims from thee homage. Be not thou affrighted,
Though armies of aliens array them for battle,
Though terrible warriors threaten fierce conflict.
Look thou to the sky, to the throne of His glory;
There seest thou surely the symbol of conquest.”