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history_of_the_decline_and_fall_of_the_roman_empire_edward_gibbon_volume_1_pg2 [2018/04/21 03:40] (current)
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 +====== History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire ======
  
 +{{ :​edward-gibbon-2-sized.jpg?​nolink|Edward Gibbon}}
 +
 +===== Edward Gibbon, Esq. =====
 +
 +With notes by the Rev. H. H. Milman
 +
 +1782 (Written), 1845 (Revised)
 +
 +==== Volume 1 (of 6) Chapter 4,5,6 ====
 +
 +[[history_of_the_decline_and_fall_of_the_roman_empire_edward_gibbon|]]
 +
 +====== Chapter IV: The Cruelty, Follies And Murder Of Commodus. ======
 +
 +===== Part I. =====
 +
 +The Cruelty, Follies, And Murder Of Commodus - Election Of Pertinax - His Attempts To Reform The State - His Assassination By The Praetorian Guards.
 +
 +The mildness of Marcus, which the rigid discipline of the Stoics was unable to eradicate, formed, at the same time, the most amiable, and the only defective part of his character. ​ His excellent understanding was often deceived by the unsuspecting goodness of his heart. ​ Artful men, who study the passions of princes, and conceal their own, approached his person in the disguise of philosophic sanctity, and acquired riches and honors by affecting to despise them. ^1 His excessive indulgence to his brother, ^* his wife, and his son, exceeded the bounds of private virtue, and became a public injury, by the example and consequences of their vices.
 +
 +[Footnote 1: See the complaints of Avidius Cassius, Hist. August. p. 45. These are, it is true, the complaints of faction; but even faction exaggerates,​ rather than invents.]
 +
 +[Footnote *: His brother by adoption, and his colleague, L. Verus. ​ Marcus Aurelius had no other brother. - W.]
 +
 +Faustina, the daughter of Pius and the wife of Marcus, has been as much celebrated for her gallantries as for her beauty. The grave simplicity of the philosopher was ill calculated to engage her wanton levity, or to fix that unbounded passion for variety, which often discovered personal merit in the meanest of mankind. ^2 The Cupid of the ancients was, in general, a very sensual deity; and the amours of an empress, as they exact on her side the plainest advances, are seldom susceptible of much sentimental delicacy. Marcus was the only man in the empire who seemed ignorant or insensible of the irregularities of Faustina; which, according to the prejudices of every age, reflected some disgrace on the injured husband. ​ He promoted several of her lovers to posts of honor and profit, ^3 and during a connection of thirty years, invariably gave her proofs of the most tender confidence, and of a respect which ended not with her life.  In his Meditations,​ he thanks the gods, who had bestowed on him a wife so faithful, so gentle, and of such a wonderful simplicity of manners. ^4 The obsequious senate, at his earnest request, declared her a goddess. ​ She was represented in her temples, with the attributes of Juno, Venus, and Ceres; and it was decreed, that, on the day of their nuptials, the youth of either sex should pay their vows before the altar of their chaste patroness. ^5
 +
 +[Footnote 2: Faustinam satis constat apud Cajetam conditiones sibi et nauticas et gladiatorias,​ elegisse. ​ Hist. August. p. 30. Lampridius explains the sort of merit which Faustina chose, and the conditions which she exacted. ​ Hist. August. p. 102.]
 +
 +[Footnote 3: Hist. August. p. 34.]
 +
 +[Footnote 4: Meditat. l. i.  The world has laughed at the credulity of Marcus but Madam Dacier assures us, (and we may credit a lady,) that the husband will always be deceived, if the wife condescends to dissemble.] [Footnote 5: Dion Cassius, l. lxxi. [c. 31,] p. 1195.  Hist. August. p. 33. Commentaire de Spanheim sur les Caesars de Julien, p. 289.  The deification of Faustina is the only defect which Julian'​s criticism is able to discover in the all-accomplished character of Marcus.]
 +
 +The monstrous vices of the son have cast a shade on the purity of the father'​s virtues. ​ It has been objected to Marcus, that he sacrificed the happiness of millions to a fond partiality for a worthless boy; and that he chose a successor in his own family, rather than in the republic. ​ Nothing however, was neglected by the anxious father, and by the men of virtue and learning whom he summoned to his assistance, to expand the narrow mind of young Commodus, to correct his growing vices, and to render him worthy of the throne for which he was designed. ​ But the power of instruction is seldom of much efficacy, except in those happy dispositions where it is almost superfluous. ​ The distasteful lesson of a grave philosopher was, in a moment, obliterated by the whisper of a profligate favorite; and Marcus himself blasted the fruits of this labored education, by admitting his son, at the age of fourteen or fifteen, to a full participation of the Imperial power. He lived but four years afterwards: but he lived long enough to repent a rash measure, which raised the impetuous youth above the restraint of reason and authority.
 +
 +Most of the crimes which disturb the internal peace of society, are produced by the restraints which the necessary but unequal laws of property have imposed on the appetites of mankind, by confining to a few the possession of those objects that are coveted by many.  Of all our passions and appetites, the love of power is of the most imperious and unsociable nature, since the pride of one man requires the submission of the multitude. In the tumult of civil discord, the laws of society lose their force, and their place is seldom supplied by those of humanity. ​ The ardor of contention, the pride of victory, the despair of success, the memory of past injuries, and the fear of future dangers, all contribute to inflame the mind, and to silence the voice of pity.  From such motives almost every page of history has been stained with civil blood; but these motives will not account for the unprovoked cruelties of Commodus, who had nothing to wish and every thing to enjoy. ​ The beloved son of Marcus succeeded to his father, amidst the acclamations of the senate and armies; ^6 and when he ascended the throne, the happy youth saw round him neither competitor to remove, nor enemies to punish. ​ In this calm, elevated station, it was surely natural that he should prefer the love of mankind to their detestation,​ the mild glories of his five predecessors to the ignominious fate of Nero and Domitian.
 +
 +[Footnote 6: Commodus was the first Porphyrogenitus,​ (born since his father'​s accession to the throne.) By a new strain of flattery, the Egyptian medals date by the years of his life; as if they were synonymous to those of his reign. ​ Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. ii. p. 752.]
 +
 +Yet Commodus was not, as he has been represented,​ a tiger born with an insatiate thirst of human blood, and capable, from his infancy, of the most inhuman actions. ^7 Nature had formed him of a weak rather than a wicked disposition. ​ His simplicity and timidity rendered him the slave of his attendants, who gradually corrupted his mind.  His cruelty, which at first obeyed the dictates of others, degenerated into habit, and at length became the ruling passion of his soul. ^8
 +
 +[Footnote 7: Hist. August. p. 46.]
 +
 +[Footnote 8: Dion Cassius, l. lxxii. p. 1203.]
 +
 +Upon the death of his father, Commodus found himself embarrassed with the command of a great army, and the conduct of a difficult war against the Quadi and Marcomanni. ^9 The servile and profligate youths whom Marcus had banished, soon regained their station and influence about the new emperor. They exaggerated the hardships and dangers of a campaign in the wild countries beyond the Danube; and they assured the indolent prince that the terror of his name, and the arms of his lieutenants,​ would be sufficient to complete the conquest of the dismayed barbarians, or to impose such conditions as were more advantageous than any conquest. ​ By a dexterous application to his sensual appetites, they compared the tranquillity,​ the splendor, the refined pleasures of Rome, with the tumult of a Pannonian camp, which afforded neither leisure nor materials for luxury. ^10 Commodus listened to the pleasing advice; but whilst he hesitated between his own inclination and the awe which he still retained for his father'​s counsellors,​ the summer insensibly elapsed, and his triumphal entry into the capital was deferred till the autumn. ​ His graceful person, ^11 popular address, and imagined virtues, attracted the public favor; the honorable peace which he had recently granted to the barbarians, diffused a universal joy; ^12 his impatience to revisit Rome was fondly ascribed to the love of his country; and his dissolute course of amusements was faintly condemned in a prince of nineteen years of age.
 +
 +[Footnote 9: According to Tertullian, Apolog. c. 25,) he died at Sirmium. But the situation of Vindobona, or Vienna, where both the Victors place his death, is better adapted to the operations of the war against the Marcomanni and Quadi.]
 +
 +[Footnote 10: Herodian, l. i. p. 12.]
 +
 +[Footnote 11: Herodian, l. i. p. 16.]
 +
 +[Footnote 12: This universal joy is well described (from the medals as well as historians) by Mr. Wotton, Hist. of Rome, p. 192, 193.] During the three first years of his reign, the forms, and even the spirit, of the old administration,​ were maintained by those faithful counsellors,​ to whom Marcus had recommended his son, and for whose wisdom and integrity Commodus still entertained a reluctant esteem. ​ The young prince and his profligate favorites revelled in all the license of sovereign power; but his hands were yet unstained with blood; and he had even displayed a generosity of sentiment, which might perhaps have ripened into solid virtue. ^13 A fatal incident decided his fluctuating character.
 +
 +[Footnote 13: Manilius, the confidential secretary of Avidius Cassius, was discovered after he had lain concealed several years. ​ The emperor nobly relieved the public anxiety by refusing to see him, and burning his papers without opening them.  Dion Cassius, l. lxxii. p. 1209.]
 +
 +One evening, as the emperor was returning to the palace, through a dark and narrow portico in the amphitheatre,​ ^14 an assassin, who waited his passage, rushed upon him with a drawn sword, loudly exclaiming, "The senate sends you this." The menace prevented the deed; the assassin was seized by the guards, and immediately revealed the authors of the conspiracy. ​ It had been formed, not in the state, but within the walls of the palace. Lucilla, the emperor'​s sister, and widow of Lucius Verus, impatient of the second rank, and jealous of the reigning empress, had armed the murderer against her brother'​s life.  She had not ventured to communicate the black design to her second husband, Claudius Pompeiarus, a senator of distinguished merit and unshaken loyalty; but among the crowd of her lovers (for she imitated the manners of Faustina) she found men of desperate fortunes and wild ambition, who were prepared to serve her more violent, as well as her tender passions. The conspirators experienced the rigor of justice, and the abandoned princess was punished, first with exile, and afterwards with death. ^15 [Footnote 14: See Maffei degli Amphitheatri,​ p. 126.]
 +
 +[Footnote 15: Dion, l. lxxi. p. 1205 Herodian, l. i. p. 16 Hist. August p. 46.]
 +
 +But the words of the assassin sunk deep into the mind of Commodus, and left an indelible impression of fear and hatred against the whole body of the senate. ^* Those whom he had dreaded as importunate ministers, he now suspected as secret enemies. ​ The Delators, a race of men discouraged,​ and almost extinguished,​ under the former reigns, again became formidable, as soon as they discovered that the emperor was desirous of finding disaffection and treason in the senate. ​ That assembly, whom Marcus had ever considered as the great council of the nation, was composed of the most distinguished of the Romans; and distinction of every kind soon became criminal. ​ The possession of wealth stimulated the diligence of the informers; rigid virtue implied a tacit censure of the irregularities of Commodus; important services implied a dangerous superiority of merit; and the friendship of the father always insured the aversion of the son.  Suspicion was equivalent to proof; trial to condemnation. The execution of a considerable senator was attended with the death of all who might lament or revenge his fate; and when Commodus had once tasted human blood, he became incapable of pity or remorse. [Footnote *: The conspirators were senators, even the assassin himself. Herod. 81. - G.]
 +
 +Of these innocent victims of tyranny, none died more lamented than the two brothers of the Quintilian family, Maximus and Condianus; whose fraternal love has saved their names from oblivion, and endeared their memory to posterity. ​ Their studies and their occupations,​ their pursuits and their pleasures, were still the same.  In the enjoyment of a great estate, they never admitted the idea of a separate interest: some fragments are now extant of a treatise which they composed in common; ^* and in every action of life it was observed that their two bodies were animated by one soul.  The Antonines, who valued their virtues, and delighted in their union, raised them, in the same year, to the consulship; and Marcus afterwards intrusted to their joint care the civil administration of Greece, and a great military command, in which they obtained a signal victory over the Germans. ​ The kind cruelty of Commodus united them in death. ^16
 +
 +[Footnote *: This work was on agriculture,​ and is often quoted by later writers. ​ See P. Needham, Proleg. ad Geoponic. Camb. 1704. - W.] [Footnote 16: In a note upon the Augustan History, Casaubon has collected a number of particulars concerning these celebrated brothers. ​ See p. 96 of his learned commentary.]
 +
 +The tyrant'​s rage, after having shed the noblest blood of the senate, at length recoiled on the principal instrument of his cruelty. ​ Whilst Commodus was immersed in blood and luxury, he devolved the detail of the public business on Perennis, a servile and ambitious minister, who had obtained his post by the murder of his predecessor,​ but who possessed a considerable share of vigor and ability. ​ By acts of extortion, and the forfeited estates of the nobles sacrificed to his avarice, he had accumulated an immense treasure. The Praetorian guards were under his immediate command; and his son, who already discovered a military genius, was at the head of the Illyrian legions. Perennis aspired to the empire; or what, in the eyes of Commodus, amounted to the same crime, he was capable of aspiring to it, had he not been prevented, surprised, and put to death. ​ The fall of a minister is a very trifling incident in the general history of the empire; but it was hastened by an extraordinary circumstance,​ which proved how much the nerves of discipline were already relaxed. ​ The legions of Britain, discontented with the administration of Perennis, formed a deputation of fifteen hundred select men, with instructions to march to Rome, and lay their complaints before the emperor. ​ These military petitioners,​ by their own determined behaviour, by inflaming the divisions of the guards, by exaggerating the strength of the British army, and by alarming the fears of Commodus, exacted and obtained the minister'​s death, as the only redress of their grievances. ^17 This presumption of a distant army, and their discovery of the weakness of government, was a sure presage of the most dreadful convulsions. [Footnote 17: Dion, l. lxxii. p. 1210.  Herodian, l. i. p. 22. Hist. August. p. 48.  Dion gives a much less odious character of Perennis, than the other historians. ​ His moderation is almost a pledge of his veracity. Note: Gibbon praises Dion for the moderation with which he speaks of Perennis: he follows, nevertheless,​ in his own narrative, Herodian and Lampridius. ​ Dion speaks of Perennis not only with moderation, but with admiration; he represents him as a great man, virtuous in his life, and blameless in his death: perhaps he may be suspected of partiality; but it is singular that Gibbon, having adopted, from Herodian and Lampridius, their judgment on this minister, follows Dion's improbable account of his death. What likelihood, in fact, that fifteen hundred men should have traversed Gaul and Italy, and have arrived at Rome without any understanding with the Praetorians,​ or without detection or opposition from Perennis, the Praetorian praefect? Gibbon, foreseeing, perhaps, this difficulty, has added, that the military deputation inflamed the divisions of the guards; but Dion says expressly that they did not reach Rome, but that the emperor went out to meet them: he even reproaches him for not having opposed them with the guards, who were superior in number. Herodian relates that Commodus, having learned, from a soldier, the ambitious designs of Perennis and his son, caused them to be attacked and massacred by night. - G. from W.  Dion's narrative is remarkably circumstantial,​ and his authority higher than either of the other writers. ​ He hints that Cleander, a new favorite, had already undermined the influence of Perennis. - M.]
 +
 +The negligence of the public administration was betrayed, soon afterwards, by a new disorder, which arose from the smallest beginnings. ​ A spirit of desertion began to prevail among the troops: and the deserters, instead of seeking their safety in flight or concealment,​ infested the highways. ​ Maternus, a private soldier, of a daring boldness above his station, collected these bands of robbers into a little army, set open the prisons, invited the slaves to assert their freedom, and plundered with impunity the rich and defenceless cities of Gaul and Spain. ​ The governors of the provinces, who had long been the spectators, and perhaps the partners, of his depredations,​ were, at length, roused from their supine indolence by the threatening commands of the emperor. ​ Maternus found that he was encompassed,​ and foresaw that he must be overpowered. ​ A great effort of despair was his last resource. ​ He ordered his followers to disperse, to pass the Alps in small parties and various disguises, and to assemble at Rome, during the licentious tumult of the festival of Cybele. ^18 To murder Commodus, and to ascend the vacant throne, was the ambition of no vulgar robber. ​ His measures were so ably concerted that his concealed troops already filled the streets of Rome.  The envy of an accomplice discovered and ruined this singular enterprise, in a moment when it was ripe for execution. ^19 [Footnote 18: During the second Punic war, the Romans imported from Asia the worship of the mother of the gods.  Her festival, the Megalesia, began on the fourth of April, and lasted six days. The streets were crowded with mad processions,​ the theatres with spectators, and the public tables with unbidden guests. ​ Order and police were suspended, and pleasure was the only serious business of the city.  See Ovid. de Fastis, l. iv. 189, &c.] [Footnote 19: Herodian, l. i. p. 23, 23.]
 +
 +Suspicious princes often promote the last of mankind, from a vain persuasion, that those who have no dependence, except on their favor, will have no attachment, except to the person of their benefactor. ​ Cleander, the successor of Perennis, was a Phrygian by birth; of a nation over whose stubborn, but servile temper, blows only could prevail. ^20 He had been sent from his native country to Rome, in the capacity of a slave. ​ As a slave he entered the Imperial palace, rendered himself useful to his master'​s passions, and rapidly ascended to the most exalted station which a subject could enjoy. ​ His influence over the mind of Commodus was much greater than that of his predecessor;​ for Cleander was devoid of any ability or virtue which could inspire the emperor with envy or distrust. ​ Avarice was the reigning passion of his soul, and the great principle of his administration. The rank of Consul, of Patrician, of Senator, was exposed to public sale; and it would have been considered as disaffection,​ if any one had refused to purchase these empty and disgraceful honors with the greatest part of his fortune. ^21 In the lucrative provincial employments,​ the minister shared with the governor the spoils of the people. ​ The execution of the laws was penal and arbitrary. ​ A wealthy criminal might obtain, not only the reversal of the sentence by which he was justly condemned, but might likewise inflict whatever punishment he pleased on the accuser, the witnesses, and the judge. [Footnote 20: Cicero pro Flacco, c. 27.]
 +
 +[Footnote 21: One of these dear-bought promotions occasioned a current... that Julius Solon was banished into the senate.]
 +
 +By these means, Cleander, in the space of three years, had accumulated more wealth than had ever yet been possessed by any freedman. ^22 Commodus was perfectly satisfied with the magnificent presents which the artful courtier laid at his feet in the most seasonable moments. ​ To divert the public envy, Cleander, under the emperor'​s name, erected baths, porticos, and places of exercise, for the use of the people. ^23 He flattered himself that the Romans, dazzled and amused by this apparent liberality, would be less affected by the bloody scenes which were daily exhibited; that they would forget the death of Byrrhus, a senator to whose superior merit the late emperor had granted one of his daughters; and that they would forgive the execution of Arrius Antoninus, the last representative of the name and virtues of the Antonines. ​ The former, with more integrity than prudence, had attempted to disclose, to his brother-in-law,​ the true character of Cleander. An equitable sentence pronounced by the latter, when proconsul of Asia, against a worthless creature of the favorite, proved fatal to him. ^24 After the fall of Perennis, the terrors of Commodus had, for a short time, assumed the appearance of a return to virtue. He repealed the most odious of his acts; loaded his memory with the public execration, and ascribed to the pernicious counsels of that wicked minister all the errors of his inexperienced youth. But his repentance lasted only thirty days; and, under Cleander'​s tyranny, the administration of Perennis was often regretted. [Footnote 22: Dion (l. lxxii. p. 12, 13) observes, that no freedman had possessed riches equal to those of Cleander. ​ The fortune of Pallas amounted, however, to upwards of five and twenty hundred thousand pounds; Ter millies.] [Footnote 23: Dion, l. lxxii. p. 12, 13.  Herodian, l. i. p. 29. Hist. August. p. 52.  These baths were situated near the Porta Capena. ​ See Nardini Roma Antica, p. 79.]
 +
 +[Footnote 24: Hist. August. p. 79.]
 +
 +====== Chapter IV: The Cruelty, Follies And Murder Of Commodus. ======
 +
 +===== Part II. =====
 +
 +Pestilence and famine contributed to fill up the measure of the calamities of Rome. ^25 The first could be only imputed to the just indignation of the gods; but a monopoly of corn, supported by the riches and power of the minister, was considered as the immediate cause of the second. The popular discontent, after it had long circulated in whispers, broke out in the assembled circus. ​ The people quitted their favorite amusements for the more delicious pleasure of revenge, rushed in crowds towards a palace in the suburbs, one of the emperor'​s retirements,​ and demanded, with angry clamors, the head of the public enemy. ​ Cleander, who commanded the Praetorian guards, ^26 ordered a body of cavalry to sally forth, and disperse the seditious multitude. ​ The multitude fled with precipitation towards the city; several were slain, and many more were trampled to death; but when the cavalry entered the streets, their pursuit was checked by a shower of stones and darts from the roofs and windows of the houses. ​ The foot guards, ^27 who had been long jealous of the prerogatives and insolence of the Praetorian cavalry, embraced the party of the people. ​ The tumult became a regular engagement, and threatened a general massacre. ​ The Praetorians,​ at length, gave way, oppressed with numbers; and the tide of popular fury returned with redoubled violence against the gates of the palace, where Commodus lay, dissolved in luxury, and alone unconscious of the civil war.  It was death to approach his person with the unwelcome news.  He would have perished in this supine security, had not two women, his eldest sister Fadilla, and Marcia, the most favored of his concubines, ventured to break into his presence. Bathed in tears, and with dishevelled hair, they threw themselves at his feet; and with all the pressing eloquence of fear, discovered to the affrighted emperor the crimes of the minister, the rage of the people, and the impending ruin, which, in a few minutes, would burst over his palace and person. ​ Commodus started from his dream of pleasure, and commanded that the head of Cleander should be thrown out to the people. ​ The desired spectacle instantly appeased the tumult; and the son of Marcus might even yet have regained the affection and confidence of his subjects. ^28
 +
 +[Footnote 25: Herodian, l. i. p. 28.  Dion, l. lxxii. p. 1215. The latter says that two thousand persons died every day at Rome, during a considerable length of time.]
 +
 +[Footnote 26: Tuneque primum tres praefecti praetorio fuere: inter quos libertinus. ​ From some remains of modesty, Cleander declined the title, whilst he assumed the powers, of Praetorian praefect. ​ As the other freedmen were styled, from their several departments,​ a rationibus, ab epistolis, Cleander called himself a pugione, as intrusted with the defence of his master'​s person. Salmasius and Casaubon seem to have talked very idly upon this passage.
 +
 +Note: M. Guizot denies that Lampridius means Cleander as praefect a pugione. ​ The Libertinus seems to me to mean him. - M.]
 +
 +[Footnote 27: Herodian, l. i. p. 31.  It is doubtful whether he means the Praetorian infantry, or the cohortes urbanae, a body of six thousand men, but whose rank and discipline were not equal to their numbers. Neither Tillemont nor Wotton choose to decide this question.]
 +
 +[Footnote 28: Dion Cassius, l. lxxii. p. 1215.  Herodian, l. i. p. 32.  Hist. August. p. 48.]
 +
 +But every sentiment of virtue and humanity was extinct in the mind of Commodus. ​ Whilst he thus abandoned the reins of empire to these unworthy favorites, he valued nothing in sovereign power, except the unbounded license of indulging his sensual appetites. ​ His hours were spent in a seraglio of three hundred beautiful women, and as many boys, of every rank, and of every province; and, wherever the arts of seduction proved ineffectual,​ the brutal lover had recourse to violence. ​ The ancient historians ^29 have expatiated on these abandoned scenes of prostitution,​ which scorned every restraint of nature or modesty; but it would not be easy to translate their too faithful descriptions into the decency of modern language. ​ The intervals of lust were filled up with the basest amusements. ​ The influence of a polite age, and the labor of an attentive education, had never been able to infuse into his rude and brutish mind the least tincture of learning; and he was the first of the Roman emperors totally devoid of taste for the pleasures of the understanding. ​ Nero himself excelled, or affected to excel, in the elegant arts of music and poetry: nor should we despise his pursuits, had he not converted the pleasing relaxation of a leisure hour into the serious business and ambition of his life. But Commodus, from his earliest infancy, discovered an aversion to whatever was rational or liberal, and a fond attachment to the amusements of the populace; the sports of the circus and amphitheatre,​ the combats of gladiators, and the hunting of wild beasts. ​ The masters in every branch of learning, whom Marcus provided for his son, were heard with inattention and disgust; whilst the Moors and Parthians, who taught him to dart the javelin and to shoot with the bow, found a disciple who delighted in his application,​ and soon equalled the most skilful of his instructors in the steadiness of the eye and the dexterity of the hand. [Footnote 29: Sororibus suis constupratis. ​ Ipsas concubinas suas sub oculis ...stuprari jubebat. ​ Nec irruentium in se juvenum carebat infamia, omni parte corporis atque ore in sexum utrumque pollutus. ​ Hist. Aug. p. 47.] The servile crowd, whose fortune depended on their master'​s vices, applauded these ignoble pursuits. ​ The perfidious voice of flattery reminded him, that by exploits of the same nature, by the defeat of the Nemaean lion, and the slaughter of the wild boar of Erymanthus, the Grecian Hercules had acquired a place among the gods, and an immortal memory among men.  They only forgot to observe, that, in the first ages of society, when the fiercer animals often dispute with man the possession of an unsettled country, a successful war against those savages is one of the most innocent and beneficial labors of heroism. ​ In the civilized state of the Roman empire, the wild beasts had long since retired from the face of man, and the neighborhood of populous cities. ​ To surprise them in their solitary haunts, and to transport them to Rome, that they might be slain in pomp by the hand of an emperor, was an enterprise equally ridiculous for the prince and oppressive for the people. ^30 Ignorant of these distinctions,​ Commodus eagerly embraced the glorious resemblance,​ and styled himself (as we still read on his medals ^31) the Roman Hercules. ^* The club and the lion's hide were placed by the side of the throne, amongst the ensigns of sovereignty;​ and statues were erected, in which Commodus was represented in the character, and with the attributes, of the god, whose valor and dexterity he endeavored to emulate in the daily course of his ferocious amusements. ^32 [Footnote 30: The African lions, when pressed by hunger, infested the open villages and cultivated country; and they infested them with impunity. ​ The royal beast was reserved for the pleasures of the emperor and the capital; and the unfortunate peasant who killed one of them though in his own defence, incurred a very heavy penalty. ​ This extraordinary game-law was mitigated by Honorius, and finally repealed by Justinian. ​ Codex Theodos. tom. v. p. 92, et Comment Gothofred.]
 +
 +[Footnote 31: Spanheim de Numismat. Dissertat. xii. tom. ii. p. 493.] [Footnote *: Commodus placed his own head on the colossal statue of Hercules with the inscription,​ Lucius Commodus Hercules. ​ The wits of Rome, according to a new fragment of Dion, published an epigram, of which, like many other ancient jests, the point is not very clear. It seems to be a protest of the god against being confounded with the emperor. ​ Mai Fragm. Vatican. ii. 225. - M.]
 +
 +[Footnote 32: Dion, l. lxxii. p. 1216.  Hist. August. p. 49.] Elated with these praises, which gradually extinguished the innate sense of shame, Commodus resolved to exhibit before the eyes of the Roman people those exercises, which till then he had decently confined within the walls of his palace, and to the presence of a few favorites. ​ On the appointed day, the various motives of flattery, fear, and curiosity, attracted to the amphitheatre an innumerable multitude of spectators; and some degree of applause was deservedly bestowed on the uncommon skill of the Imperial performer. ​ Whether he aimed at the head or heart of the animal, the wound was alike certain and mortal. ​ With arrows whose point was shaped into the form of crescent, Commodus often intercepted the rapid career, and cut asunder the long, bony neck of the ostrich. ^33 A panther was let loose; and the archer waited till he had leaped upon a trembling malefactor. ​ In the same instant the shaft flew, the beast dropped dead, and the man remained unhurt. ​ The dens of the amphitheatre disgorged at once a hundred lions: a hundred darts from the unerring hand of Commodus laid them dead as they run raging round the Arena. Neither the huge bulk of the elephant, nor the scaly hide of the rhinoceros, could defend them from his stroke. ​ Aethiopia and India yielded their most extraordinary productions;​ and several animals were slain in the amphitheatre,​ which had been seen only in the representations of art, or perhaps of fancy. ^34 In all these exhibitions,​ the securest precautions were used to protect the person of the Roman Hercules from the desperate spring of any savage, who might possibly disregard the dignity of the emperor and the sanctity of the god. ^35
 +
 +[Footnote 33: The ostrich'​s neck is three feet long, and composed of seventeen vertebrae. ​ See Buffon, Hist. Naturelle.]
 +
 +[Footnote 34: Commodus killed a camelopardalis or Giraffe, (Dion, l. lxxii. p. 1211,) the tallest, the most gentle, and the most useless of the large quadrupeds. ​ This singular animal, a native only of the interior parts of Africa, has not been seen in Europe since the revival of letters; and though M. de Buffon (Hist. Naturelle, tom. xiii.) has endeavored to describe, he has not ventured to delineate, the Giraffe.
 +
 +Note: The naturalists of our days have been more fortunate. London probably now contains more specimens of this animal than have been seen in Europe since the fall of the Roman empire, unless in the pleasure gardens of the emperor Frederic II., in Sicily, which possessed several. Frederic'​s collections of wild beasts were exhibited, for the popular amusement, in many parts of Italy. ​ Raumer, Geschichte der Hohenstaufen,​ v. iii. p. 571. Gibbon, moreover, is mistaken; as a giraffe was presented to Lorenzo de Medici, either by the sultan of Egypt or the king of Tunis. Contemporary authorities are quoted in the old work, Gesner de Quadrupedibum p. 162. - M.] [Footnote 35: Herodian, l. i. p. 37.  Hist. August. p. 50.] But the meanest of the populace were affected with shame and indignation when they beheld their sovereign enter the lists as a gladiator, and glory in a profession which the laws and manners of the Romans had branded with the justest note of infamy. ^36 He chose the habit and arms of the Secutor, whose combat with the Retiarius formed one of the most lively scenes in the bloody sports of the amphitheatre. ​ The Secutor was armed with a helmet, sword, and buckler; his naked antagonist had only a large net and a trident; with the one he endeavored to entangle, with the other to despatch his enemy. ​ If he missed the first throw, he was obliged to fly from the pursuit of the Secutor, till he had prepared his net for a second cast. ^37 The emperor fought in this character seven hundred and thirty-five several times. These glorious achievements were carefully recorded in the public acts of the empire; and that he might omit no circumstance of infamy, he received from the common fund of gladiators a stipend so exorbitant that it became a new and most ignominious tax upon the Roman people. ^38 It may be easily supposed, that in these engagements the master of the world was always successful; in the amphitheatre,​ his victories were not often sanguinary; but when he exercised his skill in the school of gladiators, or his own palace, his wretched antagonists were frequently honored with a mortal wound from the hand of Commodus, and obliged to seal their flattery with their blood. ^39 He now disdained the appellation of Hercules. ​ The name of Paulus, a celebrated Secutor, was the only one which delighted his ear.  It was inscribed on his colossal statues, and repeated in the redoubled acclamations ^40 of the mournful and applauding senate. ^41 Claudius Pompeianus, the virtuous husband of Lucilla, was the only senator who asserted the honor of his rank.  As a father, he permitted his sons to consult their safety by attending the amphitheatre. ​ As a Roman, he declared, that his own life was in the emperor'​s hands, but that he would never behold the son of Marcus prostituting his person and dignity. ​ Notwithstanding his manly resolution Pompeianus escaped the resentment of the tyrant, and, with his honor, had the good fortune to preserve his life. ^42
 +
 +[Footnote 36: The virtuous and even the wise princes forbade the senators and knights to embrace this scandalous profession, under pain of infamy, or, what was more dreaded by those profligate wretches, of exile. ​ The tyrants allured them to dishonor by threats and rewards. ​ Nero once produced in the arena forty senators and sixty knights. ​ See Lipsius, Saturnalia, l. ii. c. 2.  He has happily corrected a passage of Suetonius in Nerone, c. 12.] [Footnote 37: Lipsius, l. ii. c. 7, 8.  Juvenal, in the eighth satire, gives a picturesque description of this combat.]
 +
 +[Footnote 38: Hist. August. p. 50.  Dion, l. lxxii. p. 1220.  He received, for each time, decies, about 8000l. sterling.]
 +
 +[Footnote 39: Victor tells us, that Commodus only allowed his antagonists a ...weapon, dreading most probably the consequences of their despair.] [Footnote 40: They were obliged to repeat, six hundred and twenty-six times, Paolus first of the Secutors, &c.]
 +
 +[Footnote 41: Dion, l. lxxii. p. 1221.  He speaks of his own baseness and danger.]
 +
 +[Footnote 42: He mixed, however, some prudence with his courage, and passed the greatest part of his time in a country retirement; alleging his advanced age, and the weakness of his eyes.  "I never saw him in the senate,"​ says Dion, "​except during the short reign of Pertinax."​ All his infirmities had suddenly left him, and they returned as suddenly upon the murder of that excellent prince. ​ Dion, l. lxxiii. p. 1227.]
 +
 +Commodus had now attained the summit of vice and infamy. Amidst the acclamations of a flattering court, he was unable to disguise from himself, that he had deserved the contempt and hatred of every man of sense and virtue in his empire. ​ His ferocious spirit was irritated by the consciousness of that hatred, by the envy of every kind of merit, by the just apprehension of danger, and by the habit of slaughter, which he contracted in his daily amusements. ​ History has preserved a long list of consular senators sacrificed to his wanton suspicion, which sought out, with peculiar anxiety, those unfortunate persons connected, however remotely, with the family of the Antonines, without sparing even the ministers of his crimes or pleasures. ^43 His cruelty proved at last fatal to himself. ​ He had shed with impunity the noblest blood of Rome: he perished as soon as he was dreaded by his own domestics. ​ Marcia, his favorite concubine, Eclectus, his chamberlain,​ and Laetus, his Praetorian praefect, alarmed by the fate of their companions and predecessors,​ resolved to prevent the destruction which every hour hung over their heads, either from the mad caprice of the tyrant, ^* or the sudden indignation of the people. ​ Marcia seized the occasion of presenting a draught of wine to her lover, after he had fatigued himself with hunting some wild beasts. Commodus retired to sleep; but whilst he was laboring with the effects of poison and drunkenness,​ a robust youth, by profession a wrestler, entered his chamber, and strangled him without resistance. ​ The body was secretly conveyed out of the palace, before the least suspicion was entertained in the city, or even in the court, of the emperor'​s death. ​ Such was the fate of the son of Marcus, and so easy was it to destroy a hated tyrant, who, by the artificial powers of government, had oppressed, during thirteen years, so many millions of subjects, each of whom was equal to their master in personal strength and personal abilities. ^44
 +
 +[Footnote 43: The prefects were changed almost hourly or daily; and the caprice of Commodus was often fatal to his most favored chamberlains. ​ Hist. August. p. 46, 51.]
 +
 +[Footnote *: Commodus had already resolved to massacre them the following night they determined o anticipate his design. ​ Herod. i. 17. - W.] [Footnote 44: Dion, l. lxxii. p. 1222.  Herodian, l. i. p. 43. Hist. August. p. 52.]
 +
 +The measures of he conspirators were conducted with the deliberate coolness and celerity which the greatness of the occasion required. ​ They resolved instantly to fill the vacant throne with an emperor whose character would justify and maintain the action that had been committed. ​ They fixed on Pertinax, praefect of the city, an ancient senator of consular rank, whose conspicuous merit had broke through the obscurity of his birth, and raised him to the first honors of the state. ​ He had successively governed most of the provinces of the empire; and in all his great employments,​ military as well as civil, he had uniformly distinguished himself by the firmness, the prudence, and the integrity of his conduct. ^45 He now remained almost alone of the friends and ministers of Marcus; and when, at a late hour of the night, he was awakened with the news, that the chamberlain and the praefect were at his door, he received them with intrepid resignation,​ and desired they would execute their master'​s orders. ​ Instead of death, they offered him the throne of the Roman world. ​ During some moments he distrusted their intentions and assurances. ​ Convinced at length of the death of Commodus, he accepted the purple with a sincere reluctance, the natural effect of his knowledge both of the duties and of the dangers of the supreme rank. ^46 [Footnote 45: Pertinax was a native of Alba Pompeia, in Piedmont, and son of a timber merchant. ​ The order of his employments (it is marked by Capitolinus) well deserves to be set down, as expressive of the form of government and manners of the age.  1. He was a centurion. ​ 2. Praefect of a cohort in Syria, in the Parthian war, and in Britain. ​ 3. He obtained an Ala, or squadron of horse, in Maesia. ​ 4. He was commissary of provisions on the Aemilian way.  5. He commanded the fleet upon the Rhine. ​ 6. He was procurator of Dacia, with a salary of about 1600l. a year. 7. He commanded the veterans of a legion. ​ 8. He obtained the rank of senator. ​ 9. Of praetor. ​ 10. With the command of the first legion in Rhaetia and Noricum. 11. He was consul about the year 175.  12. He attended Marcus into the East. 13. He commanded an army on the Danube. ​ 14. He was consular legate of Maesia. 15. Of Dacia. ​ 16. Of Syria. ​ 17. Of Britain. ​ 18. He had the care of the public provisions at Rome.  19. He was proconsul of Africa. ​ 20. Praefect of the city.  Herodian (l. i. p. 48) does justice to his disinterested spirit; but Capitolinus,​ who collected every popular rumor, charges him with a great fortune acquired by bribery and corruption.] [Footnote 46: Julian, in the Caesars, taxes him with being accessory to the death of Commodus.]
 +
 +Laetus conducted without delay his new emperor to the camp of the Praetorians,​ diffusing at the same time through the city a seasonable report that Commodus died suddenly of an apoplexy; and that the virtuous Pertinax had already succeeded to the throne. The guards were rather surprised than pleased with the suspicious death of a prince, whose indulgence and liberality they alone had experienced;​ but the emergency of the occasion, the authority of their praefect, the reputation of Pertinax, and the clamors of the people, obliged them to stifle their secret discontents,​ to accept the donative promised by the new emperor, to swear allegiance to him, and with joyful acclamations and laurels in their hands to conduct him to the senate house, that the military consent might be ratified by the civil authority. This important night was now far spent; with the dawn of day, and the commencement of the new year, the senators expected a summons to attend an ignominious ceremony. ^* In spite of all remonstrances,​ even of those of his creatures who yet preserved any regard for prudence or decency, Commodus had resolved to pass the night in the gladiators'​ school, and from thence to take possession of the consulship, in the habit and with the attendance of that infamous crew.  On a sudden, before the break of day, the senate was called together in the temple of Concord, to meet the guards, and to ratify the election of a new emperor. For a few minutes they sat in silent suspense, doubtful of their unexpected deliverance,​ and suspicious of the cruel artifices of Commodus: but when at length they were assured that the tyrant was no more, they resigned themselves to all the transports of joy and indignation. ​ Pertinax, who modestly represented the meanness of his extraction, and pointed out several noble senators more deserving than himself of the empire, was constrained by their dutiful violence to ascend the throne, and received all the titles of Imperial power, confirmed by the most sincere vows of fidelity. ​ The memory of Commodus was branded with eternal infamy. ​ The names of tyrant, of gladiator, of public enemy resounded in every corner of the house. ​ They decreed in tumultuous votes, ^* that his honors should be reversed, his titles erased from the public monuments, his statues thrown down, his body dragged with a hook into the stripping room of the gladiators, to satiate the public fury; and they expressed some indignation against those officious servants who had already presumed to screen his remains from the justice of the senate. ​ But Pertinax could not refuse those last rites to the memory of Marcus, and the tears of his first protector Claudius Pompeianus, who lamented the cruel fate of his brother-in- law, and lamented still more that he had deserved it. ^47
 +
 +[Footnote *: The senate always assembled at the beginning of the year, on the night of the 1st January, (see Savaron on Sid. Apoll. viii. 6,) and this happened the present year, as usual, without any particular order. - G from W.]
 +
 +[Footnote *: What Gibbon improperly calls, both here and in the note, tumultuous decrees, were no more than the applauses and acclamations which recur so often in the history of the emperors. The custom passed from the theatre to the forum, from the forum to the senate. ​ Applauses on the adoption of the Imperial decrees were first introduced under Trajan. ​ (Plin. jun. Panegyr. 75.) One senator read the form of the decree, and all the rest answered by acclamations,​ accompanied with a kind of chant or rhythm. ​ These were some of the acclamations addressed to Pertinax, and against the memory of Commodus. ​ Hosti patriae honores detrahantur. ​ Parricidae honores detrahantur. ​ Ut salvi simus, Jupiter, optime, maxime, serva nobis Pertinacem. ​ This custom prevailed not only in the councils of state, but in all the meetings of the senate. ​ However inconsistent it may appear with the solemnity of a religious assembly, the early Christians adopted and introduced it into their synods, notwithstanding the opposition of some of the Fathers, particularly of St. Chrysostom. ​ See the Coll. of Franc. Bern. Ferrarius de veterum acclamatione in Graevii Thesaur. Antiq. Rom. i. 6. - W. This note is rather hypercritical,​ as regards Gibbon, but appears to be worthy of preservation. - M.]
 +
 +[Footnote 47: Capitolinus gives us the particulars of these tumultuary votes, which were moved by one senator, and repeated, or rather chanted by the whole body.  Hist. August. p. 52.]
 +
 +These effusions of impotent rage against a dead emperor, whom the senate had flattered when alive with the most abject servility, betrayed a just but ungenerous spirit of revenge.
 +
 +The legality of these decrees was, however, supported by the principles of the Imperial constitution. ​ To censure, to depose, or to punish with death, the first magistrate of the republic, who had abused his delegated trust, was the ancient and undoubted prerogative of the Roman senate; ^48 but the feeble assembly was obliged to content itself with inflicting on a fallen tyrant that public justice, from which, during his life and reign, he had been shielded by the strong arm of military despotism. ^*
 +
 +[Footnote 48: The senate condemned Nero to be put to death more majorum. Sueton. c. 49.]
 +
 +[Footnote *: No particular law assigned this right to the senate: it was deduced from the ancient principles of the republic. Gibbon appears to infer, from the passage of Suetonius, that the senate, according to its ancient right, punished Nero with death. The words, however, more majerum refer not to the decree of the senate, but to the kind of death, which was taken from an old law of Romulus. ​ (See Victor. Epit. Ed. Artzen p. 484, n. 7. - W.]
 +
 +Pertinax found a nobler way of condemning his predecessor'​s memory; by the contrast of his own virtues with the vices of Commodus. ​ On the day of his accession, he resigned over to his wife and son his whole private fortune; that they might have no pretence to solicit favors at the expense of the state. ​ He refused to flatter the vanity of the former with the title of Augusta; or to corrupt the inexperienced youth of the latter by the rank of Caesar. ​ Accurately distinguishing between the duties of a parent and those of a sovereign, he educated his son with a severe simplicity, which, while it gave him no assured prospect of the throne, might in time have rendered him worthy of it.  In public, the behavior of Pertinax was grave and affable. ​ He lived with the virtuous part of the senate, (and, in a private station, he had been acquainted with the true character of each individual,​) without either pride or jealousy; considered them as friends and companions, with whom he had shared the danger of the tyranny, and with whom he wished to enjoy the security of the present time.  He very frequently invited them to familiar entertainments,​ the frugality of which was ridiculed by those who remembered and regretted the luxurious prodigality of Commodus. ^49 [Footnote 49: Dion (l. lxxiii. p. 1223) speaks of these entertainments,​ as a senator who had supped with the emperor; Capitolinus,​ (Hist. August. p. 58,) like a slave, who had received his intelligence from one the scullions.] To heal, as far as I was possible, the wounds inflicted by the hand of tyranny, was the pleasing, but melancholy, task of Pertinax. ​ The innocent victims, who yet survived, were recalled from exile, released from prison, and restored to the full possession of their honors and fortunes. ​ The unburied bodies of murdered senators (for the cruelty of Commodus endeavored to extend itself beyond death) were deposited in the sepulchres of their ancestors; their memory was justified and every consolation was bestowed on their ruined and afflicted families. ​ Among these consolations,​ one of the most grateful was the punishment of the Delators; the common enemies of their master, of virtue, and of their country. ​ Yet even in the inquisition of these legal assassins, Pertinax proceeded with a steady temper, which gave every thing to justice, and nothing to popular prejudice and resentment. The finances of the state demanded the most vigilant care of the emperor. ​ Though every measure of injustice and extortion had been adopted, which could collect the property of the subject into the coffers of the prince, the rapaciousness of Commodus had been so very inadequate to his extravagance,​ that, upon his death, no more than eight thousand pounds were found in the exhausted treasury, ^50 to defray the current expenses of government, and to discharge the pressing demand of a liberal donative, which the new emperor had been obliged to promise to the Praetorian guards. ​ Yet under these distressed circumstances,​ Pertinax had the generous firmness to remit all the oppressive taxes invented by Commodus, and to cancel all the unjust claims of the treasury; declaring, in a decree of the senate, "that he was better satisfied to administer a poor republic with innocence, than to acquire riches by the ways of tyranny and dishonor. ​ "​Economy and industry he considered as the pure and genuine sources of wealth; and from them he soon derived a copious supply for the public necessities. ​ The expense of the household was immediately reduced to one half.  All the instruments of luxury Pertinax exposed to public auction, ^51 gold and silver plate, chariots of a singular construction,​ a superfluous wardrobe of silk and embroidery, and a great number of beautiful slaves of both sexes; excepting only, with attentive humanity, those who were born in a state of freedom, and had been ravished from the arms of their weeping parents. ​ At the same time that he obliged the worthless favorites of the tyrant to resign a part of their ill- gotten wealth, he satisfied the just creditors of the state, and unexpectedly discharged the long arrears of honest services. ​ He removed the oppressive restrictions which had been laid upon commerce, and granted all the uncultivated lands in Italy and the provinces to those who would improve them; with an exemption from tribute during the term of ten years. ^52 [Footnote 50: Decies. ​ The blameless economy of Pius left his successors a treasure of vicies septies millies, above two and twenty millions sterling. Dion, l. lxxiii. p. 1231.]
 +
 +[Footnote 51: Besides the design of converting these useless ornaments into money, Dion (l. lxxiii. p. 1229) assigns two secret motives of Pertinax. ​ He wished to expose the vices of Commodus, and to discover by the purchasers those who most resembled him.]
 +
 +[Footnote 52: Though Capitolinus has picked up many idle tales of the private life of Pertinax, he joins with Dion and Herodian in admiring his public conduct.]
 +
 +Such a uniform conduct had already secured to Pertinax the noblest reward of a sovereign, the love and esteem of his people. Those who remembered the virtues of Marcus were happy to contemplate in their new emperor the features of that bright original; and flattered themselves, that they should long enjoy the benign influence of his administration. ​ A hasty zeal to reform the corrupted state, accompanied with less prudence than might have been expected from the years and experience of Pertinax, proved fatal to himself and to his country. ​ His honest indiscretion united against him the servile crowd, who found their private benefit in the public disorders, and who preferred the favor of a tyrant to the inexorable equality of the laws. ^53
 +
 +[Footnote 53: Leges, rem surdam, inexorabilem esse.  T. Liv. ii. 3.] Amidst the general joy, the sullen and angry countenance of the Praetorian guards betrayed their inward dissatisfaction. They had reluctantly submitted to Pertinax; they dreaded the strictness of the ancient discipline, which he was preparing to restore; and they regretted the license of the former reign. Their discontents were secretly fomented by Laetus, their praefect, who found, when it was too late, that his new emperor would reward a servant, but would not be ruled by a favorite. ​ On the third day of his reign, the soldiers seized on a noble senator, with a design to carry him to the camp, and to invest him with the Imperial purple. ​ Instead of being dazzled by the dangerous honor, the affrighted victim escaped from their violence, and took refuge at the feet of Pertinax. ​ A short time afterwards, Sosius Falco, one of the consuls of the year, a rash youth, ^54 but of an ancient and opulent family, listened to the voice of ambition; and a conspiracy was formed during a short absence of Pertinax, which was crushed by his sudden return to Rome, and his resolute behavior. ​ Falco was on the point of being justly condemned to death as a public enemy had he not been saved by the earnest and sincere entreaties of the injured emperor, who conjured the senate, that the purity of his reign might not be stained by the blood even of a guilty senator.
 +
 +[Footnote 54: If we credit Capitolinus,​ (which is rather difficult,) Falco behaved with the most petulant indecency to Pertinax, on the day of his accession. ​ The wise emperor only admonished him of his youth and in experience. ​ Hist. August. p. 55.]
 +
 +These disappointments served only to irritate the rage of the Praetorian guards. ​ On the twenty-eighth of March, eighty-six days only after the death of Commodus, a general sedition broke out in the camp, which the officers wanted either power or inclination to suppress. ​ Two or three hundred of the most desperate soldiers marched at noonday, with arms in their hands and fury in their looks, towards the Imperial palace. ​ The gates were thrown open by their companions upon guard, and by the domestics of the old court, who had already formed a secret conspiracy against the life of the too virtuous emperor. ​ On the news of their approach, Pertinax, disdaining either flight or concealment,​ advanced to meet his assassins; and recalled to their minds his own innocence, and the sanctity of their recent oath.  For a few moments they stood in silent suspense, ashamed of their atrocious design, and awed by the venerable aspect and majestic firmness of their sovereign, till at length, the despair of pardon reviving their fury, a barbarian of the country of Tongress ^55 levelled the first blow against Pertinax, who was instantly despatched with a multitude of wounds. ​ His head, separated from his body, and placed on a lance, was carried in triumph to the Praetorian camp, in the sight of a mournful and indignant people, who lamented the unworthy fate of that excellent prince, and the transient blessings of a reign, the memory of which could serve only to aggravate their approaching misfortunes. ^56
 +
 +[Footnote 55: The modern bishopric of Liege. ​ This soldier probably belonged to the Batavian horse-guards,​ who were mostly raised in the duchy of Gueldres and the neighborhood,​ and were distinguished by their valor, and by the boldness with which they swam their horses across the broadest and most rapid rivers. Tacit. Hist. iv. 12 Dion, l. lv p. 797 Lipsius de magnitudine Romana, l. i. c. 4.]
 +
 +[Footnote 56: Dion, l. lxxiii. p. 1232.  Herodian, l. ii. p. 60. Hist. August. p. 58.  Victor in Epitom. et in Caesarib. Eutropius, viii. 16.]
 +
 +====== Chapter V: Sale Of The Empire To Didius Julianus. ======
 +
 +===== Part I. =====
 +
 +Public Sale Of The Empire To Didius Julianus By The Praetorian Guards - Clodius Albinus In Britain, Pescennius Niger In Syria, And Septimius Severus In Pannonia, Declare Against The Murderers Of Pertinax - Civil Wars And Victory Of Severus Over His Three Rivals - Relaxation Of Discipline - New Maxims Of Government.
 +
 +The power of the sword is more sensibly felt in an extensive monarchy, than in a small community. ​ It has been calculated by the ablest politicians,​ that no state, without being soon exhausted, can maintain above the hundredth part of its members in arms and idleness. ​ But although this relative proportion may be uniform, the influence of the army over the rest of the society will vary according to the degree of its positive strength. ​ The advantages of military science and discipline cannot be exerted, unless a proper number of soldiers are united into one body, and actuated by one soul. With a handful of men, such a union would be ineffectual;​ with an unwieldy host, it would be impracticable;​ and the powers of the machine would be alike destroyed by the extreme minuteness or the excessive weight of its springs. To illustrate this observation,​ we need only reflect, that there is no superiority of natural strength, artificial weapons, or acquired skill, which could enable one man to keep in constant subjection one hundred of his fellow-creatures:​ the tyrant of a single town, or a small district, would soon discover that a hundred armed followers were a weak defence against ten thousand peasants or citizens; but a hundred thousand well-disciplined soldiers will command, with despotic sway, ten millions of subjects; and a body of ten or fifteen thousand guards will strike terror into the most numerous populace that ever crowded the streets of an immense capital. The Praetorian bands, whose licentious fury was the first symptom and cause of the decline of the Roman empire, scarcely amounted to the last- mentioned number ^1 They derived their institution from Augustus. ​ That crafty tyrant, sensible that laws might color, but that arms alone could maintain, his usurped dominion, had gradually formed this powerful body of guards, in constant readiness to protect his person, to awe the senate, and either to prevent or to crush the first motions of rebellion. ​ He distinguished these favored troops by a double pay and superior privileges; but, as their formidable aspect would at once have alarmed and irritated the Roman people, three cohorts only were stationed in the capital, whilst the remainder was dispersed in the adjacent towns of Italy. ^2 But after fifty years of peace and servitude, Tiberius ventured on a decisive measure, which forever rivetted the fetters of his country. ​ Under the fair pretences of relieving Italy from the heavy burden of military quarters, and of introducing a stricter discipline among the guards, he assembled them at Rome, in a permanent camp, ^3 which was fortified with skilful care, ^4 and placed on a commanding situation. ^5
 +
 +[Footnote 1: They were originally nine or ten thousand men, (for Tacitus and son are not agreed upon the subject,) divided into as many cohorts. Vitellius increased them to sixteen thousand, and as far as we can learn from inscriptions,​ they never afterwards sunk much below that number. ​ See Lipsius de magnitudine Romana, i. 4.]
 +
 +[Footnote 2: Sueton. in August. c. 49.]
 +
 +[Footnote 3: Tacit. Annal. iv. 2.  Sueton. in Tiber. c. 37.  Dion Cassius, l. lvii. p. 867.]
 +
 +[Footnote 4: In the civil war between Vitellius and Vespasian, the Praetorian camp was attacked and defended with all the machines used in the siege of the best fortified cities. ​ Tacit. Hist. iii. 84.]
 +
 +[Footnote 5: Close to the walls of the city, on the broad summit of the Quirinal and Viminal hills. ​ See Nardini Roma Antica, p. 174.  Donatus de Roma Antiqua, p. 46.
 +
 +Note: Not on both these hills: neither Donatus nor Nardini justify this position. ​ (Whitaker'​s Review. p. 13.) At the northern extremity of this hill (the Viminal) are some considerable remains of a walled enclosure which bears all the appearance of a Roman camp, and therefore is generally thought to correspond with the Castra Praetoria. ​ Cramer'​s Italy 390. - M.] Such formidable servants are always necessary, but often fatal to the throne of despotism. ​ By thus introducing the Praetorian guards as it were into the palace and the senate, the emperors taught them to perceive their own strength, and the weakness of the civil government; to view the vices of their masters with familiar contempt, and to lay aside that reverential awe, which distance only, and mystery, can preserve towards an imaginary power. In the luxurious idleness of an opulent city, their pride was nourished by the sense of their irresistible weight; nor was it possible to conceal from them, that the person of the sovereign, the authority of the senate, the public treasure, and the seat of empire, were all in their hands. ​ To divert the Praetorian bands from these dangerous reflections,​ the firmest and best established princes were obliged to mix blandishments with commands, rewards with punishments,​ to flatter their pride, indulge their pleasures, connive at their irregularities,​ and to purchase their precarious faith by a liberal donative; which, since the elevation of Claudius, was enacted as a legal claim, on the accession of every new emperor. ^6
 +
 +[Footnote 6: Claudius, raised by the soldiers to the empire, was the first who gave a donative. ​ He gave quina dena, 120l. (Sueton. in Claud. c. 10: ) when Marcus, with his colleague Lucius Versus, took quiet possession of the throne, he gave vicena, 160l. to each of the guards. ​ Hist. August. p. 25, (Dion, l. lxxiii. p. 1231.) We may form some idea of the amount of these sums, by Hadrian'​s complaint that the promotion of a Caesar had cost him ter millies, two millions and a half sterling.]
 +
 +The advocate of the guards endeavored to justify by arguments the power which they asserted by arms; and to maintain that, according to the purest principles of the constitution,​ their consent was essentially necessary in the appointment of an emperor. ​ The election of consuls, of generals, and of magistrates,​ however it had been recently usurped by the senate, was the ancient and undoubted right of the Roman people. ^7 But where was the Roman people to be found? ​ Not surely amongst the mixed multitude of slaves and strangers that filled the streets of Rome; a servile populace, as devoid of spirit as destitute of property. ​ The defenders of the state, selected from the flower of the Italian youth, ^8 and trained in the exercise of arms and virtue, were the genuine representatives of the people, and the best entitled to elect the military chief of the republic. ​ These assertions, however defective in reason, became unanswerable when the fierce Praetorians increased their weight, by throwing, like the barbarian conqueror of Rome, their swords into the scale. ^9
 +
 +[Footnote 7: Cicero de Legibus, iii. 3.  The first book of Livy, and the second of Dionysius of Halicarnassus,​ show the authority of the people, even in the election of the kings.]
 +
 +[Footnote 8: They were originally recruited in Latium, Etruria, and the old colonies, (Tacit. Annal. iv. 5.) The emperor Otho compliments their vanity with the flattering titles of Italiae, Alumni, Romana were juventus. ​ Tacit. Hist. i. 84.]
 +
 +[Footnote 9: In the siege of Rome by the Gauls. ​ See Livy, v. 48. Plutarch. in Camill. p. 143.] The Praetorians had violated the sanctity of the throne by the atrocious murder of Pertinax; they dishonored the majesty of it by their subsequent conduct. ​ The camp was without a leader, for even the praefect Laetus, who had excited the tempest, prudently declined the public indignation. ​ Amidst the wild disorder, Sulpicianus,​ the emperor'​s father-in-law,​ and governor of the city, who had been sent to the camp on the first alarm of mutiny, was endeavoring to calm the fury of the multitude, when he was silenced by the clamorous return of the murderers, bearing on a lance the head of Pertinax. Though history has accustomed us to observe every principle and every passion yielding to the imperious dictates of ambition, it is scarcely credible that, in these moments of horror, Sulpicianus should have aspired to ascend a throne polluted with the recent blood of so near a relation and so excellent a prince. ​ He had already begun to use the only effectual argument, and to treat for the Imperial dignity; but the more prudent of the Praetorians,​ apprehensive that, in this private contract, they should not obtain a just price for so valuable a commodity, ran out upon the ramparts; and, with a loud voice, proclaimed that the Roman world was to be disposed of to the best bidder by public auction. ^10
 +
 +[Footnote 10: Dion, L. lxxiii. p. 1234.  Herodian, l. ii. p. 63. Hist. August p. 60.  Though the three historians agree that it was in fact an auction, Herodian alone affirms that it was proclaimed as such by the soldiers.]
 +
 +This infamous offer, the most insolent excess of military license, diffused a universal grief, shame, and indignation throughout the city.  It reached at length the ears of Didius Julianus, a wealthy senator, who, regardless of the public calamities, was indulging himself in the luxury of the table. ^11 His wife and his daughter, his freedmen and his parasites, easily convinced him that he deserved the throne, and earnestly conjured him to embrace so fortunate an opportunity. ​ The vain old man hastened to the Praetorian camp, where Sulpicianus was still in treaty with the guards, and began to bid against him from the foot of the rampart. ​ The unworthy negotiation was transacted by faithful emissaries, who passed alternately from one candidate to the other, and acquainted each of them with the offers of his rival. ​ Sulpicianus had already promised a donative of five thousand drachms (above one hundred and sixty pounds) to each soldier; when Julian, eager for the prize, rose at once to the sum of six thousand two hundred and fifty drachms, or upwards of two hundred pounds sterling. ​ The gates of the camp were instantly thrown open to the purchaser; he was declared emperor, and received an oath of allegiance from the soldiers, who retained humanity enough to stipulate that he should pardon and forget the competition of Sulpicianus. ^*
 +
 +[Footnote 11: Spartianus softens the most odious parts of the character and elevation of Julian.]
 +
 +[Footnote *: One of the principal causes of the preference of Julianus by the soldiers, was the dexterty dexterity with which he reminded them that Sulpicianus would not fail to revenge on them the death of his son-in-law. (See Dion, p. 1234, 1234. c. 11.  Herod. ii. 6.) - W.]
 +
 +It was now incumbent on the Praetorians to fulfil the conditions of the sale.  They placed their new sovereign, whom they served and despised, in the centre of their ranks, surrounded him on every side with their shields, and conducted him in close order of battle through the deserted streets of the city.  The senate was commanded to assemble; and those who had been the distinguished friends of Pertinax, or the personal enemies of Julian, found it necessary to affect a more than common share of satisfaction at this happy revolution. ^12 After Julian had filled the senate house with armed soldiers, he expatiated on the freedom of his election, his own eminent virtues, and his full assurance of the affections of the senate. The obsequious assembly congratulated their own and the public felicity; engaged their allegiance, and conferred on him all the several branches of the Imperial power. ^13 From the senate Julian was conducted, by the same military procession, to take possession of the palace. ​ The first objects that struck his eyes, were the abandoned trunk of Pertinax, and the frugal entertainment prepared for his supper. ​ The one he viewed with indifference,​ the other with contempt. ​ A magnificent feast was prepared by his order, and he amused himself, till a very late hour, with dice, and the performances of Pylades, a celebrated dancer. ​ Yet it was observed, that after the crowd of flatterers dispersed, and left him to darkness, solitude, and terrible reflection, he passed a sleepless night; revolving most probably in his mind his own rash folly, the fate of his virtuous predecessor,​ and the doubtful and dangerous tenure of an empire which had not been acquired by merit, but purchased by money. ^14 [Footnote 12: Dion Cassius, at that time praetor, had been a personal enemy to Julian, i. lxxiii. p. 1235.]
 +
 +[Footnote 13: Hist. August. p. 61.  We learn from thence one curious circumstance,​ that the new emperor, whatever had been his birth, was immediately aggregated to the number of patrician families. Note: A new fragment of Dion shows some shrewdness in the character of Julian. ​ When the senate voted him a golden statue, he preferred one of brass, as more lasting. ​ He "had always observed,"​ he said, "that the statues of former emperors were soon destroyed. ​ Those of brass alone remained."​ The indignant historian adds that he was wrong. ​ The virtue of sovereigns alone preserves their images: the brazen statue of Julian was broken to pieces at his death. ​ Mai. Fragm. Vatican. p. 226. - M.]
 +
 +[Footnote 14: Dion, l. lxxiii. p. 1235.  Hist. August. p. 61.  I have endeavored to blend into one consistent story the seeming contradictions of the two writers.
 +
 +Note: The contradiction as M. Guizot observed, is irreconcilable. He quotes both passages: in one Julianus is represented as a miser, in the other as a voluptuary. ​ In the one he refuses to eat till the body of Pertinax has been buried; in the other he gluts himself with every luxury almost in the sight of his headless remains. - M.]
 +
 +He had reason to tremble. ​ On the throne of the world he found himself without a friend, and even without an adherent. The guards themselves were ashamed of the prince whom their avarice had persuaded them to accept; nor was there a citizen who did not consider his elevation with horror, as the last insult on the Roman name.  The nobility, whose conspicuous station, and ample possessions,​ exacted the strictest caution, dissembled their sentiments, and met the affected civility of the emperor with smiles of complacency and professions of duty.  But the people, secure in their numbers and obscurity, gave a free vent to their passions. ​ The streets and public places of Rome resounded with clamors and imprecations. ​ The enraged multitude affronted the person of Julian, rejected his liberality, and, conscious of the impotence of their own resentment, they called aloud on the legions of the frontiers to assert the violated majesty of the Roman empire. The public discontent was soon diffused from the centre to the frontiers of the empire. ​ The armies of Britain, of Syria, and of Illyricum, lamented the death of Pertinax, in whose company, or under whose command, they had so often fought and conquered. ​ They received with surprise, with indignation,​ and perhaps with envy, the extraordinary intelligence,​ that the Praetorians had disposed of the empire by public auction; and they sternly refused to ratify the ignominious bargain. ​ Their immediate and unanimous revolt was fatal to Julian, but it was fatal at the same time to the public peace, as the generals of the respective armies, Clodius Albinus, Pescennius Niger, and Septimius Severus, were still more anxious to succeed than to revenge the murdered Pertinax. ​ Their forces were exactly balanced. ​ Each of them was at the head of three legions, ^15 with a numerous train of auxiliaries;​ and however different in their characters, they were all soldiers of experience and capacity.
 +
 +[Footnote 15: Dion, l. lxxiii. p. 1235.]
 +
 +Clodius Albinus, governor of Britain, surpassed both his competitors in the nobility of his extraction, which he derived from some of the most illustrious names of the old republic. ^16 But the branch from which he claimed his descent was sunk into mean circumstances,​ and transplanted into a remote province. ​ It is difficult to form a just idea of his true character. ​ Under the philosophic cloak of austerity, he stands accused of concealing most of the vices which degrade human nature. ^17 But his accusers are those venal writers who adored the fortune of Severus, and trampled on the ashes of an unsuccessful rival. Virtue, or the appearances of virtue, recommended Albinus to the confidence and good opinion of Marcus; and his preserving with the son the same interest which he had acquired with the father, is a proof at least that he was possessed of a very flexible disposition. ​ The favor of a tyrant does not always suppose a want of merit in the object of it; he may, without intending it, reward a man of worth and ability, or he may find such a man useful to his own service. ​ It does not appear that Albinus served the son of Marcus, either as the minister of his cruelties, or even as the associate of his pleasures. ​ He was employed in a distant honorable command, when he received a confidential letter from the emperor, acquainting him of the treasonable designs of some discontented generals, and authorizing him to declare himself the guardian and successor of the throne, by assuming the title and ensigns of Caesar. ^18 The governor of Britain wisely declined the dangerous honor, which would have marked him for the jealousy, or involved him in the approaching ruin, of Commodus. ​ He courted power by nobler, or, at least, by more specious arts.  On a premature report of the death of the emperor, he assembled his troops; and, in an eloquent discourse, deplored the inevitable mischiefs of despotism, described the happiness and glory which their ancestors had enjoyed under the consular government, and declared his firm resolution to reinstate the senate and people in their legal authority. ​ This popular harangue was answered by the loud acclamations of the British legions, and received at Rome with a secret murmur of applause. ​ Safe in the possession of his little world, and in the command of an army less distinguished indeed for discipline than for numbers and valor, ^19 Albinus braved the menaces of Commodus, maintained towards Pertinax a stately ambiguous reserve, and instantly declared against the usurpation of Julian. ​ The convulsions of the capital added new weight to his sentiments, or rather to his professions of patriotism. ​ A regard to decency induced him to decline the lofty titles of Augustus and Emperor; and he imitated perhaps the example of Galba, who, on a similar occasion, had styled himself the Lieutenant of the senate and people. ^20
 +
 +[Footnote 16: The Posthumian and the Ce'​onian;​ the former of whom was raised to the consulship in the fifth year after its institution.] [Footnote 17: Spartianus, in his undigested collections,​ mixes up all the virtues and all the vices that enter into the human composition,​ and bestows them on the same object. ​ Such, indeed are many of the characters in the Augustan History.]
 +
 +[Footnote 18: Hist. August. p. 80, 84.]
 +
 +[Footnote 19: Pertinax, who governed Britain a few years before, had been left for dead, in a mutiny of the soldiers. ​ Hist. August. p 54.  Yet they loved and regretted him; admirantibus eam virtutem cui irascebantur.] [Footnote 20: Sueton. in Galb. c. 10.]
 +
 +Personal merit alone had raised Pescennius Niger, from an obscure birth and station, to the government of Syria; a lucrative and important command, which in times of civil confusion gave him a near prospect of the throne. Yet his parts seem to have been better suited to the second than to the first rank; he was an unequal rival, though he might have approved himself an excellent lieutenant, to Severus, who afterwards displayed the greatness of his mind by adopting several useful institutions from a vanquished enemy. ^21 In his government Niger acquired the esteem of the soldiers and the love of the provincials. ​ His rigid discipline foritfied the valor and confirmed the obedience of the former, whilst the voluptuous Syrians were less delighted with the mild firmness of his administration,​ than with the affability of his manners, and the apparent pleasure with which he attended their frequent and pompous festivals. ^22 As soon as the intelligence of the atrocious murder of Pertinax had reached Antioch, the wishes of Asia invited Niger to assume the Imperial purple and revenge his death. ​ The legions of the eastern frontier embraced his cause; the opulent but unarmed provinces, from the frontiers of Aethiopia ^23 to the Hadriatic, cheerfully submitted to his power; and the kings beyond the Tigris and the Euphrates congratulated his election, and offered him their homage and services. ​ The mind of Niger was not capable of receiving this sudden tide of fortune: he flattered himself that his accession would be undisturbed by competition and unstained by civil blood; and whilst he enjoyed the vain pomp of triumph, he neglected to secure the means of victory. ​ Instead of entering into an effectual negotiation with the powerful armies of the West, whose resolution might decide, or at least must balance, the mighty contest; instead of advancing without delay towards Rome and Italy, where his presence was impatiently expected, ^24 Niger trifled away in the luxury of Antioch those irretrievable moments which were diligently improved by the decisive activity of Severus. ^25 [Footnote 21: Hist. August. p. 76.]
 +
 +[Footnote 22: Herod. l. ii. p. 68.  The Chronicle of John Malala, of Antioch, shows the zealous attachment of his countrymen to these festivals, which at once gratified their superstition,​ and their love of pleasure.] [Footnote 23: A king of Thebes, in Egypt, is mentioned, in the Augustan History, as an ally, and, indeed, as a personal friend of Niger. ​ If Spartianus is not, as I strongly suspect, mistaken, he has brought to light a dynasty of tributary princes totally unknown to history.] [Footnote 24: Dion, l. lxxiii. p. 1238.  Herod. l. ii. p. 67.  A verse in every one's mouth at that time, seems to express the general opinion of the three rivals; Optimus est Niger, [Fuscus, which preserves the quantity. - M.] bonus After, pessimus Albus. Hist. August. p. 75.]
 +
 +[Footnote 25: Herodian, l. ii. p. 71.]
 +
 +The country of Pannonia and Dalmatia, which occupied the space between the Danube and the Hadriatic, was one of the last and most difficult conquests of the Romans. ​ In the defence of national freedom, two hundred thousand of these barbarians had once appeared in the field, alarmed the declining age of Augustus, and exercised the vigilant prudence of Tiberius at the head of the collected force of the empire. ^26 The Pannonians yielded at length to the arms and institutions of Rome.  Their recent subjection, however, the neighborhood,​ and even the mixture, of the unconquered tribes, and perhaps the climate, adapted, as it has been observed, to the production of great bodies and slow minds, ^27 all contributed to preserve some remains of their original ferocity, and under the tame and uniform countenance of Roman provincials,​ the hardy features of the natives were still to be discerned. ​ Their warlike youth afforded an inexhaustible supply of recruits to the legions stationed on the banks of the Danube, and which, from a perpetual warfare against the Germans and Sarmazans, were deservedly esteemed the best troops in the service.
 +
 +[Footnote 26: See an account of that memorable war in Velleius Paterculus, is 110, &c., who served in the army of Tiberius.]
 +
 +[Footnote 27: Such is the reflection of Herodian, l. ii. p. 74. Will the modern Austrians allow the influence?]
 +
 +The Pannonian army was at this time commanded by Septimius Severus, a native of Africa, who, in the gradual ascent of private honors, had concealed his daring ambition, which was never diverted from its steady course by the allurements of pleasure, the apprehension of danger, or the feelings of humanity. ^28 On the first news of the murder of Pertinax, he assembled his troops, painted in the most lively colors the crime, the insolence, and the weakness of the Praetorian guards, and animated the legions to arms and to revenge. ​ He concluded (and the peroration was thought extremely eloquent) with promising every soldier about four hundred pounds; an honorable donative, double in value to the infamous bribe with which Julian had purchased the empire. ^29 The acclamations of the army immediately saluted Severus with the names of Augustus, Pertinax, and Emperor; and he thus attained the lofty station to which he was invited, by conscious merit and a long train of dreams and omens, the fruitful offsprings either of his superstition or policy. ^30
 +
 +[Footnote 28: In the letter to Albinus, already mentioned, Commodus accuses Severus, as one of the ambitious generals who censured his conduct, and wished to occupy his place. ​ Hist. August. p. 80.]
 +
 +[Footnote 29: Pannonia was too poor to supply such a sum.  It was probably promised in the camp, and paid at Rome, after the victory. ​ In fixing the sum, I have adopted the conjecture of Casaubon. ​ See Hist. August. p. 66. Comment. p. 115.]
 +
 +[Footnote 30: Herodian, l. ii. p. 78.  Severus was declared emperor on the banks of the Danube, either at Carnuntum, according to Spartianus, (Hist. August. p. 65,) or else at Sabaria, according to Victor. ​ Mr. Hume, in supposing that the birth and dignity of Severus were too much inferior to the Imperial crown, and that he marched into Italy as general only, has not considered this transaction with his usual accuracy, (Essay on the original contract.)
 +
 +Note: Carnuntum, opposite to the mouth of the Morava: its position is doubtful, either Petronel or Haimburg. ​ A little intermediate village seems to indicate by its name (Altenburg) the site of an old town. D'​Anville Geogr. Anc. Sabaria, now Sarvar. - G.  Compare note 37. - M.]
 +
 +The new candidate for empire saw and improved the peculiar advantage of his situation. ​ His province extended to the Julian Alps, which gave an easy access into Italy; and he remembered the saying of Augustus, That a Pannonian army might in ten days appear in sight of Rome. ^31 By a celerity proportioned to the greatness of the occasion, he might reasonably hope to revenge Pertinax, punish Julian, and receive the homage of the senate and people, as their lawful emperor, before his competitors,​ separated from Italy by an immense tract of sea and land, were apprised of his success, or even of his election. ​ During the whole expedition, he scarcely allowed himself any moments for sleep or food; marching on foot, and in complete armor, at the head of his columns, he insinuated himself into the confidence and affection of his troops, pressed their diligence, revived their spirits, animated their hopes, and was well satisfied to share the hardships of the meanest soldier, whilst he kept in view the infinite superiority of his reward. [Footnote 31: Velleius Paterculus, l. ii. c. 3.  We must reckon the march from the nearest verge of Pannonia, and extend the sight of the city as far as two hundred miles.]
 +
 +The wretched Julian had expected, and thought himself prepared, to dispute the empire with the governor of Syria; but in the invincible and rapid approach of the Pannonian legions, he saw his inevitable ruin.  The hasty arrival of every messenger increased his just apprehensions. ​ He was successively informed, that Severus had passed the Alps; that the Italian cities, unwilling or unable to oppose his progress, had received him with the warmest professions of joy and duty; that the important place of Ravenna had surrendered without resistance, and that the Hadriatic fleet was in the hands of the conqueror. ​ The enemy was now within two hundred and fifty miles of Rome; and every moment diminished the narrow span of life and empire allotted to Julian.
 +
 +He attempted, however, to prevent, or at least to protract, his ruin. He implored the venal faith of the Praetorians,​ filled the city with unavailing preparations for war, drew lines round the suburbs, and even strengthened the fortifications of the palace; as if those last intrenchments could be defended, without hope of relief, against a victorious invader. Fear and shame prevented the guards from deserting his standard; but they trembled at the name of the Pannonian legions, commanded by an experienced general, and accustomed to vanquish the barbarians on the frozen Danube. ^32 They quitted, with a sigh, the pleasures of the baths and theatres, to put on arms, whose use they had almost forgotten, and beneath the weight of which they were oppressed. ​ The unpractised elephants, whose uncouth appearance, it was hoped, would strike terror into the army of the north, threw their unskilful riders; and the awkward evolutions of the marines, drawn from the fleet of Misenum, were an object of ridicule to the populace; whilst the senate enjoyed, with secret pleasure, the distress and weakness of the usurper. ^33
 +
 +[Footnote 32: This is not a puerile figure of rhetoric, but an allusion to a real fact recorded by Dion, l. lxxi. p. 1181.  It probably happened more than once.]
 +
 +[Footnote 33: Dion, l. lxxiii. p. 1233.  Herodian, l. ii. p. 81. There is no surer proof of the military skill of the Romans, than their first surmounting the idle terror, and afterwards disdaining the dangerous use, of elephants in war.
 +
 +Note: These elephants were kept for processions,​ perhaps for the games. Se Herod. in loc. - M.]
 +
 +Every motion of Julian betrayed his trembling perplexity. He insisted that Severus should be declared a public enemy by the senate. ​ He entreated that the Pannonian general might be associated to the empire. ​ He sent public ambassadors of consular rank to negotiate with his rival; he despatched private assassins to take away his life.  He designed that the Vestal virgins, and all the colleges of priests, in their sacerdotal habits, and bearing before them the sacred pledges of the Roman religion, should advance in solemn procession to meet the Pannonian legions; and, at the same time, he vainly tried to interrogate,​ or to appease, the fates, by magic ceremonies and unlawful sacrifices. ^34
 +
 +[Footnote 34: Hist. August. p. 62, 63.
 +
 +Note: Quae ad speculum dicunt fieri in quo pueri praeligatis oculis, incantate...,​ respicere dicuntur. ​ * * * Tuncque puer vidisse dicitur et adventun Severi et Juliani decessionem. ​ This seems to have been a practice somewhat similar to that of which our recent Egyptian travellers relate such extraordinary circumstances. ​ See also Apulius, Orat. de Magia. - M.]
 +
 +====== Chapter V: Sale Of The Empire To Didius Julianus. ======
 +
 +===== Part II. =====
 +
 +Severus, who dreaded neither his arms nor his enchantments,​ guarded himself from the only danger of secret conspiracy, by the faithful attendance of six hundred chosen men, who never quitted his person or their cuirasses, either by night or by day, during the whole march. ​ Advancing with a steady and rapid course, he passed, without difficulty, the defiles of the Apennine, received into his party the troops and ambassadors sent to retard his progress, and made a short halt at Interamnia, about seventy miles from Rome. His victory was already secure, but the despair of the Praetorians might have rendered it bloody; and Severus had the laudable ambition of ascending the throne without drawing the sword. ^35 His emissaries, dispersed in the capital, assured the guards, that provided they would abandon their worthless prince, and the perpetrators of the murder of Pertinax, to the justice of the conqueror, he would no longer consider that melancholy event as the act of the whole body.  The faithless Praetorians,​ whose resistance was supported only by sullen obstinacy, gladly complied with the easy conditions, seized the greatest part of the assassins, and signified to the senate, that they no longer defended the cause of Julian. ​ That assembly, convoked by the consul, unanimously acknowledged Severus as lawful emperor, decreed divine honors to Pertinax, and pronounced a sentence of deposition and death against his unfortunate successor. ​ Julian was conducted into a private apartment of the baths of the palace, and beheaded as a common criminal, after having purchased, with an immense treasure, an anxious and precarious reign of only sixty-six days. ^36 The almost incredible expedition of Severus, who, in so short a space of time, conducted a numerous army from the banks of the Danube to those of the Tyber, proves at once the plenty of provisions produced by agriculture and commerce, the goodness of the roads, the discipline of the legions, and the indolent, subdued temper of the provinces. ^37 [Footnote 35: Victor and Eutropius, viii. 17, mention a combat near the Milvian bridge, the Ponte Molle, unknown to the better and more ancient writers.]
 +
 +[Footnote 36: Dion, l. lxxiii. p. 1240.  Herodian, l. ii. p. 83. Hist. August. p. 63.]
 +
 +[Footnote 37: From these sixty-six days, we must first deduct sixteen, as Pertinax was murdered on the 28th of March, and Severus most probably elected on the 13th of April, (see Hist. August. p. 65, and Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. iii. p. 393, note 7.) We cannot allow less than ten days after his election, to put a numerous army in motion. ​ Forty days remain for this rapid march; and as we may compute about eight hundred miles from Rome to the neighborhood of Vienna, the army of Severus marched twenty miles every day, without halt or intermission.]
 +
 +The first cares of Severus were bestowed on two measures the one dictated by policy, the other by decency; the revenge, and the honors, due to the memory of Pertinax. ​ Before the new emperor entered Rome, he issued his commands to the Praetorian guards, directing them to wait his arrival on a large plain near the city, without arms, but in the habits of ceremony, in which they were accustomed to attend their sovereign. ​ He was obeyed by those haughty troops, whose contrition was the effect of their just terrors. ​ A chosen part of the Illyrian army encompassed them with levelled spears. Incapable of flight or resistance, they expected their fate in silent consternation. ​ Severus mounted the tribunal, sternly reproached them with perfidy and cowardice, dismissed them with ignominy from the trust which they had betrayed, despoiled them of their splendid ornaments, and banished them, on pain of death, to the distance of a hundred miles from the capital. During the transaction,​ another detachment had been sent to seize their arms, occupy their camp, and prevent the hasty consequences of their despair. ^38 [Footnote 38: Dion, l. lxxiv. p. 1241.  Herodian, l. ii. p. 84.] The funeral and consecration of Pertinax was next solemnized with every circumstance of sad magnificence. ^39 The senate, with a melancholy pleasure, performed the last rites to that excellent prince, whom they had loved, and still regretted. ​ The concern of his successor was probably less sincere; he esteemed the virtues of Pertinax, but those virtues would forever have confined his ambition to a private station. ​ Severus pronounced his funeral oration with studied eloquence, inward satisfaction,​ and well-acted sorrow; and by this pious regard to his memory, convinced the credulous multitude, that he alone was worthy to supply his place. ​ Sensible, however, that arms, not ceremonies, must assert his claim to the empire, he left Rome at the end of thirty days, and without suffering himself to be elated by this easy victory, prepared to encounter his more formidable rivals. [Footnote 39: Dion, (l. lxxiv. p. 1244,) who assisted at the ceremony as a senator, gives a most pompous description of it.]
 +
 +The uncommon abilities and fortune of Severus have induced an elegant historian to compare him with the first and greatest of the Caesars. ^40 The parallel is, at least, imperfect. ​ Where shall we find, in the character of Severus, the commanding superiority of soul, the generous clemency, and the various genius, which could reconcile and unite the love of pleasure, the thirst of knowledge, and the fire of ambition? ^41 In one instance only, they may be compared, with some degree of propriety, in the celerity of their motions, and their civil victories. ​ In less than four years, ^42 Severus subdued the riches of the East, and the valor of the West.  He vanquished two competitors of reputation and ability, and defeated numerous armies, provided with weapons and discipline equal to his own. In that age, the art of fortification,​ and the principles of tactics, were well understood by all the Roman generals; and the constant superiority of Severus was that of an artist, who uses the same instruments with more skill and industry than his rivals. ​ I shall not, however, enter into a minute narrative of these military operations; but as the two civil wars against Niger and against Albinus were almost the same in their conduct, event, and consequences,​ I shall collect into one point of view the most striking circumstances,​ tending to develop the character of the conqueror and the state of the empire. [Footnote 40: Herodian, l. iii. p. 112]
 +
 +[Footnote 41: Though it is not, most assuredly, the intention of Lucan to exalt the character of Caesar, yet the idea he gives of that hero, in the tenth book of the Pharsalia, where he describes him, at the same time, making love to Cleopatra, sustaining a siege against the power of Egypt, and conversing with the sages of the country, is, in reality, the noblest panegyric.
 +
 +Note: Lord Byron wrote, no doubt, from a reminiscence of that passage - "It is possible to be a very great man, and to be still very inferior to Julius Caesar, the most complete character, so Lord Bacon thought, of all antiquity. ​ Nature seems incapable of such extraordinary combinations as composed his versatile capacity, which was the wonder even of the Romans themselves. ​ The first general; the only triumphant politician; inferior to none in point of eloquence; comparable to any in the attainments of wisdom, in an age made up of the greatest commanders, statesmen, orators, and philosophers,​ that ever appeared in the world; an author who composed a perfect specimen of military annals in his travelling carriage; at one time in a controversy with Cato, at another writing a treatise on punuing, and collecting a set of good sayings; fighting and making love at the same moment, and willing to abandon both his empire and his mistress for a sight of the fountains of the Nile.  Such did Julius Caesar appear to his contemporaries,​ and to those of the subsequent ages who were the most inclined to deplore and execrate his fatal genius."​ Note 47 to Canto iv. of Childe Harold. - M.] [Footnote 42: Reckoning from his election, April 13, 193, to the death of Albinus, February 19, 197.  See Tillemont'​s Chronology.]
 +
 +Falsehood and insincerity,​ unsuitable as they seem to the dignity of public transactions,​ offend us with a less degrading idea of meanness, than when they are found in the intercourse of private life.  In the latter, they discover a want of courage; in the other, only a defect of power: and, as it is impossible for the most able statesmen to subdue millions of followers and enemies by their own personal strength, the world, under the name of policy, seems to have granted them a very liberal indulgence of craft and dissimulation. ​ Yet the arts of Severus cannot be justified by the most ample privileges of state reason. ​ He promised only to betray, he flattered only to ruin; and however he might occasionally bind himself by oaths and treaties, his conscience, obsequious to his interest, always released him from the inconvenient obligation. ^43
 +
 +[Footnote 43: Herodian, l. ii. p. 85.]
 +
 +If his two competitors,​ reconciled by their common danger, had advanced upon him without delay, perhaps Severus would have sunk under their united effort. ​ Had they even attacked him, at the same time, with separate views and separate armies, the contest might have been long and doubtful. ​ But they fell, singly and successively,​ an easy prey to the arts as well as arms of their subtle enemy, lulled into security by the moderation of his professions,​ and overwhelmed by the rapidity of his action. ​ He first marched against Niger, whose reputation and power he the most dreaded: but he declined any hostile declarations,​ suppressed the name of his antagonist, and only signified to the senate and people his intention of regulating the eastern provinces. ​ In private, he spoke of Niger, his old friend and intended successor, ^44 with the most affectionate regard, and highly applauded his generous design of revenging the murder of Pertinax. ​ To punish the vile usurper of the throne, was the duty of every Roman general. ​ To persevere in arms, and to resist a lawful emperor, acknowledged by the senate, would alone render him criminal. ^45 The sons of Niger had fallen into his hands among the children of the provincial governors, detained at Rome as pledges for the loyalty of their parents. ^46 As long as the power of Niger inspired terror, or even respect, they were educated with the most tender care, with the children of Severus himself; but they were soon involved in their father'​s ruin, and removed first by exile, and afterwards by death, from the eye of public compassion. ^47 [Footnote 44: Whilst Severus was very dangerously ill, it was industriously given out, that he intended to appoint Niger and Albinus his successors. ​ As he could not be sincere with respect to both, he might not be so with regard to either. ​ Yet Severus carried his hypocrisy so far, as to profess that intention in the memoirs of his own life.]
 +
 +[Footnote 45: Hist. August. p. 65.]
 +
 +[Footnote 46: This practice, invented by Commodus, proved very useful to Severus. ​ He found at Rome the children of many of the principal adherents of his rivals; and he employed them more than once to intimidate, or seduce, the parents.]
 +
 +[Footnote 47: Herodian, l. iii. p. 95.  Hist. August. p. 67, 68.] Whilst Severus was engaged in his eastern war, he had reason to apprehend that the governor of Britain might pass the sea and the Alps, occupy the vacant seat of empire, and oppose his return with the authority of the senate and the forces of the West.  The ambiguous conduct of Albinus, in not assuming the Imperial title, left room for negotiation. ​ Forgetting, at once, his professions of patriotism, and the jealousy of sovereign power, he accepted the precarious rank of Caesar, as a reward for his fatal neutrality. Till the first contest was decided, Severus treated the man, whom he had doomed to destruction,​ with every mark of esteem and regard. ​ Even in the letter, in which he announced his victory over Niger, he styles Albinus the brother of his soul and empire, sends him the affectionate salutations of his wife Julia, and his young family, and entreats him to preserve the armies and the republic faithful to their common interest. ​ The messengers charged with this letter were instructed to accost the Caesar with respect, to desire a private audience, and to plunge their daggers into his heart. ^48 The conspiracy was discovered, and the too credulous Albinus, at length, passed over to the continent, and prepared for an unequal contest with his rival, who rushed upon him at the head of a veteran and victorious army. [Footnote 48: Hist. August. p. 84.  Spartianus has inserted this curious letter at full length.]
 +
 +The military labors of Severus seem inadequate to the importance of his conquests. ​ Two engagements,​ ^* the one near the Hellespont, the other in the narrow defiles of Cilicia, decided the fate of his Syrian competitor; and the troops of Europe asserted their usual ascendant over the effeminate natives of Asia. ^49 The battle of Lyons, where one hundred and fifty thousand Romans ^50 were engaged, was equally fatal to Albinus. The valor of the British army maintained, indeed, a sharp and doubtful contest, with the hardy discipline of the Illyrian legions. ​ The fame and person of Severus appeared, during a few moments, irrecoverably lost, till that warlike prince rallied his fainting troops, and led them on to a decisive victory. ^51 The war was finished by that memorable day. ^*
 +
 +[Footnote *: There were three actions; one near Cyzicus, on the Hellespont, one near Nice, in Bithynia, the third near the Issus, in Cilicia, where Alexander conquered Darius. ​ (Dion, lxiv. c. 6. Herodian, iii. 2, 4.) - W Herodian represents the second battle as of less importance than Dion - M.] [Footnote 49: Consult the third book of Herodian, and the seventy-fourth book of Dion Cassius.]
 +
 +[Footnote 50: Dion, l. lxxv. p. 1260.]
 +
 +[Footnote 51: Dion, l. lxxv. p. 1261.  Herodian, l. iii. p. 110. Hist. August. p. 68.  The battle was fought in the plain of Trevoux, three or four leagues from Lyons. ​ See Tillemont, tom. iii. p. 406, note 18.] [Footnote *: According to Herodian, it was his lieutenant Laetus who led back the troops to the battle, and gained the day, which Severus had almost lost. Dion also attributes to Laetus a great share in the victory. ​ Severus afterwards put him to death, either from fear or jealousy. - W. and G.  Wenck and M. Guizot have not given the real statement of Herodian or of Dion. According to the former, Laetus appeared with his own army entire, which he was suspected of having designedly kept disengaged when the battle was still doudtful, or rather after the rout of severus. ​ Dion says that he did not move till Severus had won the victory. - M.]
 +
 +The civil wars of modern Europe have been distinguished,​ not only by the fierce animosity, but likewise by the obstinate perseverance,​ of the contending factions. ​ They have generally been justified by some principle, or, at least, colored by some pretext, of religion, freedom, or loyalty. ​ The leaders were nobles of independent property and hereditary influence. ​ The troops fought like men interested in the decision of the quarrel; and as military spirit and party zeal were strongly diffused throughout the whole community, a vanquished chief was immediately supplied with new adherents, eager to shed their blood in the same cause. ​ But the Romans, after the fall of the republic, combated only for the choice of masters. ​ Under the standard of a popular candidate for empire, a few enlisted from affection, some from fear, many from interest, none from principle. ​ The legions, uninflamed by party zeal, were allured into civil war by liberal donatives, and still more liberal promises. ​ A defeat, by disabling the chief from the performance of his engagements,​ dissolved the mercenary allegiance of his followers, and left them to consult their own safety by a timely desertion of an unsuccessful cause. ​ It was of little moment to the provinces, under whose name they were oppressed or governed; they were driven by the impulsion of the present power, and as soon as that power yielded to a superior force, they hastened to implore the clemency of the conqueror, who, as he had an immense debt to discharge, was obliged to sacrifice the most guilty countries to the avarice of his soldiers. ​ In the vast extent of the Roman empire, there were few fortified cities capable of protecting a routed army; nor was there any person, or family, or order of men, whose natural interest, unsupported by the powers of government, was capable of restoring the cause of a sinking party. ^52
 +
 +[Footnote 52: Montesquieu,​ Considerations sur la Grandeur et la Decadence des Romains, c. xiii.]
 +
 +Yet, in the contest between Niger and Severus, a single city deserves an honorable exception. ​ As Byzantium was one of the greatest passages from Europe into Asia, it had been provided with a strong garrison, and a fleet of five hundred vessels was anchored in the harbor. ^53 The impetuosity of Severus disappointed this prudent scheme of defence; he left to his generals the siege of Byzantium, forced the less guarded passage of the Hellespont, and, impatient of a meaner enemy, pressed forward to encounter his rival. Byzantium, attacked by a numerous and increasing army, and afterwards by the whole naval power of the empire, sustained a siege of three years, and remained faithful to the name and memory of Niger. ​ The citizens and soldiers (we know not from what cause) were animated with equal fury; several of the principal officers of Niger, who despaired of, or who disdained, a pardon, had thrown themselves into this last refuge: the fortifications were esteemed impregnable,​ and, in the defence of the place, a celebrated engineer displayed all the mechanic powers known to the ancients. ^54 Byzantium, at length, surrendered to famine. ​ The magistrates and soldiers were put to the sword, the walls demolished, the privileges suppressed, and the destined capital of the East subsisted only as an open village, subject to the insulting jurisdiction of Perinthus. ​ The historian Dion, who had admired the flourishing,​ and lamented the desolate, state of Byzantium, accused the revenge of Severus, for depriving the Roman people of the strongest bulwark against the barbarians of Pontus and Asia ^55 The truth of this observation was but too well justified in the succeeding age, when the Gothic fleets covered the Euxine, and passed through the undefined Bosphorus into the centre of the Mediterranean.
 +
 +[Footnote 53: Most of these, as may be supposed, were small open vessels; some, however, were galleys of two, and a few of three ranks of oars.] [Footnote 54: The engineer'​s name was Priscus. ​ His skill saved his life, and he was taken into the service of the conqueror. For the particular facts of the siege, consult Dion Cassius (l. lxxv. p. 1251) and Herodian, (l. iii. p. 95;) for the theory of it, the fanciful chevalier de Folard may be looked into.  See Polybe, tom. i. p. 76.]
 +
 +[Footnote 55 : Notwithstanding the authority of Spartianus, and some modern Greeks, we may be assured, from Dion and Herodian, that Byzantium, many years after the death of Severus, lay in ruins.
 +
 +Footnote *: There is no contradiction between the relation of Dion and that of Spartianus and the modern Greeks. ​ Dion does not say that Severus destroyed Byzantium, but that he deprived it of its franchises and privileges, stripped the inhabitants of their property, razed the fortifications,​ and subjected the city to the jurisdiction of Perinthus. ​ Therefore, when Spartian, Suidas, Cedrenus, say that Severus and his son Antoninus restored to Byzantium its rights and franchises, ordered temples to be built, &c., this is easily reconciled with the relation of Dion. Perhaps the latter mentioned it in some of the fragments of his history which have been lost.  As to Herodian, his expressions are evidently exaggerated,​ and he has been guilty of so many inaccuracies in the history of Severus, that we have a right to suppose one in this passage. - G. from W Wenck and M. Guizot have omitted to cite Zosimus, who mentions a particular portico built by Severus, and called, apparently, by his name.  Zosim. Hist. ii. c. xxx. p. 151, 153, edit Heyne. - M.] Both Niger and Albinus were discovered and put to death in their flight from the field of battle. ​ Their fate excited neither surprise nor compassion. They had staked their lives against the chance of empire, and suffered what they would have inflicted; nor did Severus claim the arrogant superiority of suffering his rivals to live in a private station. ​ But his unforgiving temper, stimulated by avarice, indulged a spirit of revenge, where there was no room for apprehension. ​ The most considerable of the provincials,​ who, without any dislike to the fortunate candidate, had obeyed the governor under whose authority they were accidentally placed, were punished by death, exile, and especially by the confiscation of their estates. ​ Many cities of the East were stripped of their ancient honors, and obliged to pay, into the treasury of Severus, four times the amount of the sums contributed by them for the service of Niger. ^56
 +
 +[Footnote 56: Dion, l. lxxiv. p. 1250.]
 +
 +Till the final decision of the war, the cruelty of Severus was, in some measure, restrained by the uncertainty of the event, and his pretended reverence for the senate. ​ The head of Albinus, accompanied with a menacing letter, announced to the Romans that he was resolved to spare none of the adherents of his unfortunate competitors. ​ He was irritated by the just auspicion that he had never possessed the affections of the senate, and he concealed his old malevolence under the recent discovery of some treasonable correspondences. ​ Thirty-five senators, however, accused of having favored the party of Albinus, he freely pardoned, and, by his subsequent behavior, endeavored to convince them, that he had forgotten, as well as forgiven, their supposed offences. ​ But, at the same time, he condemned forty-one ^57 other senators, whose names history has recorded; their wives, children, and clients attended them in death, ^* and the noblest provincials of Spain and Gaul were involved in the same ruin. ^! Such rigid justice - for so he termed it - was, in the opinion of Severus, the only conduct capable of insuring peace to the people or stability to the prince; and he condescended slightly to lament, that to be mild, it was necessary that he should first be cruel. ^58 [Footnote 57: Dion, (l. lxxv. p. 1264;) only twenty-nine senators are mentioned by him, but forty-one are named in the Augustan History, p. 69, among whom were six of the name of Pescennius. Herodian (l. iii. p. 115) speaks in general of the cruelties of Severus.]
 +
 +[Footnote *: Wenck denies that there is any authority for this massacre of the wives of the senators. ​ He adds, that only the children and relatives of Niger and Albinus were put to death. This is true of the family of Albinus, whose bodies were thrown into the Rhone; those of Niger, according to Lampridius, were sent into exile, but afterwards put to death. ​ Among the partisans of Albinus who were put to death were many women of rank, multae foeminae illustres. ​ Lamprid. in Sever. - M.]
 +
 +[Footnote !: A new fragment of Dion describes the state of Rome during this contest. ​ All pretended to be on the side of Severus; but their secret sentiments were often betrayed by a change of countenance on the arrival of some sudden report. ​ Some were detected by overacting their loyalty, Mai. Fragm. Vatican. p. 227 Severus told the senate he would rather have their hearts than their votes. - Ibid. - M.]
 +
 +[Footnote 58: Aurelius Victor.]
 +
 +The true interest of an absolute monarch generally coincides with that of his people. ​ Their numbers, their wealth, their order, and their security, are the best and only foundations of his real greatness; and were he totally devoid of virtue, prudence might supply its place, and would dictate the same rule of conduct. ​ Severus considered the Roman empire as his property, and had no sooner secured the possession, than he bestowed his care on the cultivation and improvement of so valuable an acquisition. ​ Salutary laws, executed with inflexible firmness, soon corrected most of the abuses with which, since the death of Marcus, every part of the government had been infected. ​ In the administration of justice, the judgments of the emperor were characterized by attention, discernment,​ and impartiality;​ and whenever he deviated from the strict line of equity, it was generally in favor of the poor and oppressed; not so much indeed from any sense of humanity, as from the natural propensity of a despot to humble the pride of greatness, and to sink all his subjects to the same common level of absolute dependence. ​ His expensive taste for building, magnificent shows, and above all a constant and liberal distribution of corn and provisions, were the surest means of captivating the affection of the Roman people. ^59 The misfortunes of civil discord were obliterated. The clam of peace and prosperity was once more experienced in the provinces; and many cities, restored by the munificence of Severus, assumed the title of his colonies, and attested by public monuments their gratitude and felicity. ^60 The fame of the Roman arms was revived by that warlike and successful emperor, ^61 and he boasted, with a just pride, that, having received the empire oppressed with foreign and domestic wars, he left it established in profound, universal, and honorable peace. ^62 [Footnote 59: Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1272.  Hist. August. p. 67. Severus celebrated the secular games with extraordinary magnificence,​ and he left in the public granaries a provision of corn for seven years, at the rate of 75,000 modii, or about 2500 quarters per day.  I am persuaded that the granaries of Severus were supplied for a long term, but I am not less persuaded, that policy on one hand, and admiration on the other, magnified the hoard far beyond its true contents.]
 +
 +[Footnote 60: See Spanheim'​s treatise of ancient medals, the inscriptions,​ and our learned travellers Spon and Wheeler, Shaw, Pocock, &c, who, in Africa, Greece, and Asia, have found more monuments of Severus than of any other Roman emperor whatsoever.]
 +
 +[Footnote 61: He carried his victorious arms to Seleucia and Ctesiphon, the capitals of the Parthian monarchy. ​ I shall have occasion to mention this war in its proper place.]
 +
 +[Footnote 62: Etiam in Britannis, was his own just and emphatic expression Hist. August. 73.]
 +
 +Although the wounds of civil war appeared completely healed, its mortal poison still lurked in the vitals of the constitution. Severus possessed a considerable share of vigor and ability; but the daring soul of the first Caesar, or the deep policy of Augustus, were scarcely equal to the task of curbing the insolence of the victorious legions. ​ By gratitude, by misguided policy, by seeming necessity, Severus was reduced to relax the nerves of discipline. ^63 The vanity of his soldiers was flattered with the honor of wearing gold rings their ease was indulged in the permission of living with their wives in the idleness of quarters. ​ He increased their pay beyond the example of former times, and taught them to expect, and soon to claim, extraordinary donatives on every public occasion of danger or festivity. Elated by success, enervated by luxury, and raised above the level of subjects by their dangerous privileges, ^64 they soon became incapable of military fatigue, oppressive to the country, and impatient of a just subordination. ​ Their officers asserted the superiority of rank by a more profuse and elegant luxury. ​ There is still extant a letter of Severus, lamenting the licentious stage of the army, ^* and exhorting one of his generals to begin the necessary reformation from the tribunes themselves; since, as he justly observes, the officer who has forfeited the esteem, will never command the obedience, of his soldiers. ^65 Had the emperor pursued the train of reflection, he would have discovered, that the primary cause of this general corruption might be ascribed, not indeed to the example, but to the pernicious indulgence, however, of the commander-in-chief. [Footnote 63: Herodian, l. iii. p. 115.  Hist. August. p. 68.] [Footnote 64: Upon the insolence and privileges of the soldier, the 16th satire, falsely ascribed to Juvenal, may be consulted; the style and circumstances of it would induce me to believe, that it was composed under the reign of Severus, or that of his son.]
 +
 +[Footnote *: Not of the army, but of the troops in Gaul.  The contents of this letter seem to prove that Severus was really anxious to restore discipline Herodian is the only historian who accuses him of being the first cause of its relaxation. - G. from W Spartian mentions his increase of the pays. - M.]
 +
 +[Footnote 65: Hist. August. p. 73.]
 +
 +The Praetorians,​ who murdered their emperor and sold the empire, had received the just punishment of their treason; but the necessary, though dangerous, institution of guards was soon restored on a new model by Severus, and increased to four times the ancient number. ^66 Formerly these troops had been recruited in Italy; and as the adjacent provinces gradually imbibed the softer manners of Rome, the levies were extended to Macedonia, Noricum, and Spain. ​ In the room of these elegant troops, better adapted to the pomp of courts than to the uses of war, it was established by Severus, that from all the legions of the frontiers, the soldiers most distinguished for strength, valor, and fidelity, should be occasionally draughted; and promoted, as an honor and reward, into the more eligible service of the guards. ^67 By this new institution,​ the Italian youth were diverted from the exercise of arms, and the capital was terrified by the strange aspect and manners of a multitude of barbarians. But Severus flattered himself, that the legions would consider these chosen Praetorians as the representatives of the whole military order; and that the present aid of fifty thousand men, superior in arms and appointments to any force that could be brought into the field against them, would forever crush the hopes of rebellion, and secure the empire to himself and his posterity.
 +
 +[Footnote 66: Herodian, l. iii. p. 131.]
 +
 +[Footnote 67: Dion, l. lxxiv. p. 1243.]
 +
 +The command of these favored and formidable troops soon became the first office of the empire. ​ As the government degenerated into military despotism, the Praetorian Praefect, who in his origin had been a simple captain of the guards, ^* was placed not only at the head of the army, but of the finances, and even of the law.  In every department of administration,​ he represented the person, and exercised the authority, of the emperor. ​ The first praefect who enjoyed and abused this immense power was Plautianus, the favorite minister of Severus. ​ His reign lasted above then years, till the marriage of his daughter with the eldest son of the emperor, which seemed to assure his fortune, proved the occasion of his ruin. ^68 The animosities of the palace, by irritating the ambition and alarming the fears of Plautianus, ^* threatened to produce a revolution, and obliged the emperor, who still loved him, to consent with reluctance to his death. ^69 After the fall of Plautianus, an eminent lawyer, the celebrated Papinian, was appointed to execute the motley office of Praetorian Praefect.
 +
 +[Footnote *: The Praetorian Praefect had never been a simple captain of the guards; from the first creation of this office, under Augustus, it possessed great power. ​ That emperor, therefore, decreed that there should be always two Praetorian Praefects, who could only be taken from the equestrian order Tiberius first departed from the former clause of this edict; Alexander Severus violated the second by naming senators praefects. ​ It appears that it was under Commodus that the Praetorian Praefects obtained the province of civil jurisdiction. it extended only to Italy, with the exception of Rome and its district, which was governed by the Praefectus urbi.  As to the control of the finances, and the levying of taxes, it was not intrusted to them till after the great change that Constantine I. made in the organization of the empire at least, I know no passage which assigns it to them before that time; and Drakenborch,​ who has treated this question in his Dissertation de official praefectorum praetorio, vi., does not quote one. - W.] [Footnote 68: One of his most daring and wanton acts of power, was the castration of a hundred free Romans, some of them married men, and even fathers of families; merely that his daughter, on her marriage with the young emperor, might be attended by a train of eunuchs worthy of an eastern queen. Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1271.]
 +
 +[Footnote *: Plautianus was compatriot, relative, and the old friend, of Severus; he had so completely shut up all access to the emperor, that the latter was ignorant how far he abused his powers: at length, being informed of it, he began to limit his authority. ​ The marriage of Plautilla with Caracalla was unfortunate;​ and the prince who had been forced to consent to it, menaced the father and the daughter with death when he should come to the throne. ​ It was feared, after that, that Plautianus would avail himself of the power which he still possessed, against the Imperial family; and Severus caused him to be assassinated in his presence, upon the pretext of a conspiracy, which Dion considers fictitious. - W.  This note is not, perhaps, very necessary and does not contain the whole facts. ​ Dion considers the conspiracy the invention of Caracalla, by whose command, almost by whose hand, Plautianus was slain in the presence of Severus. - M.] [Footnote 69: Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1274.  Herodian, l. iii. p. 122, 129.  The grammarian of Alexander seems, as is not unusual, much better acquainted with this mysterious transaction,​ and more assured of the guilt of Plautianus than the Roman senator ventures to be.]
 +
 +Till the reign of Severus, the virtue and even the good sense of the emperors had been distinguished by their zeal or affected reverence for the senate, and by a tender regard to the nice frame of civil policy instituted by Augustus. ​ But the youth of Severus had been trained in the implicit obedience of camps, and his riper years spent in the despotism of military command. His haughty and inflexible spirit cou' not discover, or would not acknowledge,​ the advantage of preserving an intermediate power, however imaginary, between the emperor and the army.  He disdained to profess himself the servant of an assembly that detested his person and trembled at his frown; he issued his commands, where his requests would have proved as effectual; assumed the conduct and style of a sovereign and a conqueror, and exercised, without disguise, the whole legislative,​ as well as the executive power.
 +
 +The victory over the senate was easy and inglorious. ​ Every eye and every passion were directed to the supreme magistrate, who possessed the arms and treasure of the state; whilst the senate, neither elected by the people, nor guarded by military force, nor animated by public spirit, rested its declining authority on the frail and crumbling basis of ancient opinion. The fine theory of a republic insensibly vanished, and made way for the more natural and substantial feelings of monarchy. ​ As the freedom and honors of Rome were successively communicated to the provinces, in which the old government had been either unknown, or was remembered with abhorrence, the tradition of republican maxims was gradually obliterated. ​ The Greek historians of the age of the Antonines ^70 observe, with a malicious pleasure, that although the sovereign of Rome, in compliance with an obsolete prejudice, abstained from the name of king, he possessed the full measure of regal power. ​ In the reign of Severus, the senate was filled with polished and eloquent slaves from the eastern provinces, who justified personal flattery by speculative principles of servitude. ​ These new advocates of prerogative were heard with pleasure by the court, and with patience by the people, when they inculcated the duty of passive obedience, and descanted on the inevitable mischiefs of freedom. ​ The lawyers and historians concurred in teaching, that the Imperial authority was held, not by the delegated commission, but by the irrevocable resignation of the senate; that the emperor was freed from the restraint of civil laws, could command by his arbitrary will the lives and fortunes of his subjects, and might dispose of the empire as of his private patrimony. ^71 The most eminent of the civil lawyers, and particularly Papinian, Paulus, and Ulpian, flourished under the house of Severus; and the Roman jurisprudence,​ having closely united itself with the system of monarchy, was supposed to have attained its full majority and perfection.
 +
 +[Footnote 70: Appian in Prooem.]
 +
 +[Footnote 71: Dion Cassius seems to have written with no other view than to form these opinions into an historical system. ​ The Pandea'​s will how how assiduously the lawyers, on their side, laboree in the cause of prerogative.]
 +
 +The contemporaries of Severus in the enjoyment of the peace and glory of his reign, forgave the cruelties by which it had been introduced. ​ Posterity, who experienced the fatal effects of his maxims and example, justly considered him as the principal author of the decline of the Roman empire.
 +
 +====== Chapter VI: Death Of Severus, Tyranny Of Caracalla, Usurpation Of Marcinus. ======
 +
 +===== Part I. =====
 +
 +The Death Of Severus. - Tyranny Of Caracalla. - Usurpation Of Macrinus. - Follies Of Elagabalus. - Virtues Of Alexander Severus. - Licentiousness Of The Army. - General State Of The Roman Finances.
 +
 +The ascent to greatness, however steep and dangerous, may entertain an active spirit with the consciousness and exercise of its own powers: but the possession of a throne could never yet afford a lasting satisfaction to an ambitious mind.  This melancholy truth was felt and acknowledged by Severus. Fortune and merit had, from an humble station, elevated him to the first place among mankind. ​ "He had been all things,"​ as he said himself, "and all was of little value" ^1 Distracted with the care, not of acquiring, but of preserving an empire, oppressed with age and infirmities,​ careless of fame, ^2 and satiated with power, all his prospects of life were closed. ​ The desire of perpetuating the greatness of his family was the only remaining wish of his ambition and paternal tenderness.
 +
 +[Footnote 1: Hist. August. p. 71.  "Omnia fui, et nihil expedit."​] [Footnote 2: Dion Cassius, l. lxxvi. p. 1284.]
 +
 +Like most of the Africans, Severus was passionately addicted to the vain studies of magic and divination, deeply versed in the interpretation of dreams and omens, and perfectly acquainted with the science of judicial astrology; which, in almost every age except the present, has maintained its dominion over the mind of man.  He had lost his first wife, while he was governor of the Lionnese Gaul. ^3 In the choice of a second, he sought only to connect himself with some favorite of fortune; and as soon as he had discovered that the young lady of Emesa in Syria had a royal nativity, he solicited and obtained her hand. ^4 Julia Domna (for that was her name) deserved all that the stars could promise her. She possessed, even in advanced age, the attractions of beauty, ^5 and united to a lively imagination a firmness of mind, and strength of judgment, seldom bestowed on her sex.  Her amiable qualities never made any deep impression on the dark and jealous temper of her husband; but in her son's reign, she administered the principal affairs of the empire, with a prudence that supported his authority, and with a moderation that sometimes corrected his wild extravagancies. ^6 Julia applied herself to letters and philosophy, with some success, and with the most splendid reputation. ​ She was the patroness of every art, and the friend of every man of genius. ^7 The grateful flattery of the learned has celebrated her virtues; but, if we may credit the scandal of ancient history, chastity was very far from being the most conspicuous virtue of the empress Julia. ^8
 +
 +[Footnote 3: About the year 186.  M. de Tillemont is miserably embarrassed with a passage of Dion, in which the empress Faustina, who died in the year 175, is introduced as having contributed to the marriage of Severus and Julia, (l. lxxiv. p. 1243.) The learned compiler forgot that Dion is relating not a real fact, but a dream of Severus; and dreams are circumscribed to no limits of time or space. ​ Did M. de Tillemont imagine that marriages were consummated in the temple of Venus at Rome?  Hist. des Empereurs, tom. iii. p. 389.  Note 6.]
 +
 +[Footnote 4: Hist. August. p. 65.]
 +
 +[Footnote 5: Hist. August. p. 5.]
 +
 +[Footnote 6: Dion Cassius, l. lxxvii. p. 1304, 1314.]
 +
 +[Footnote 7: See a dissertation of Menage, at the end of his edition of Diogenes Laertius, de Foeminis Philosophis.]
 +
 +[Footnote 8: Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1285.  Aurelius Victor.]
 +
 +Two sons, Caracalla ^9 and Geta, were the fruit of this marriage, and the destined heirs of the empire. ​ The fond hopes of the father, and of the Roman world, were soon disappointed by these vain youths, who displayed the indolent security of hereditary princes; and a presumption that fortune would supply the place of merit and application. ​ Without any emulation of virtue or talents, they discovered, almost from their infancy, a fixed and implacable antipathy for each other.
 +
 +[Footnote 9: Bassianus was his first name, as it had been that of his maternal grandfather. ​ During his reign, he assumed the appellation of Antoninus, which is employed by lawyers and ancient historians. ​ After his death, the public indignation loaded him with the nicknames of Tarantus and Caracalla. ​ The first was borrowed from a celebrated Gladiator, the second from a long Gallic gown which he distributed to the people of Rome.] Their aversion, confirmed by years, and fomented by the arts of their interested favorites, broke out in childish, and gradually in more serious competitions;​ and, at length, divided the theatre, the circus, and the court, into two factions, actuated by the hopes and fears of their respective leaders. ​ The prudent emperor endeavored, by every expedient of advice and authority, to allay this growing animosity. ​ The unhappy discord of his sons clouded all his prospects, and threatened to overturn a throne raised with so much labor, cemented with so much blood, and guarded with every defence of arms and treasure. ​ With an impartial hand he maintained between them an exact balance of favor, conferred on both the rank of Augustus, with the revered name of Antoninus; and for the first time the Roman world beheld three emperors. ^10 Yet even this equal conduct served only to inflame the contest, whilst the fierce Caracalla asserted the right of primogeniture,​ and the milder Geta courted the affections of the people and the soldiers. ​ In the anguish of a disappointed father, Severus foretold that the weaker of his sons would fall a sacrifice to the stronger; who, in his turn, would be ruined by his own vices. ^11
 +
 +[Footnote 10: The elevation of Caracalla is fixed by the accurate M. de Tillemont to the year 198; the association of Geta to the year 208.] [Footnote 11: Herodian, l. iii. p. 130.  The lives of Caracalla and Geta, in the Augustan History.]
 +
 +In these circumstances the intelligence of a war in Britain, and of an invasion of the province by the barbarians of the North, was received with pleasure by Severus. ​ Though the vigilance of his lieutenants might have been sufficient to repel the distant enemy, he resolved to embrace the honorable pretext of withdrawing his sons from the luxury of Rome, which enervated their minds and irritated their passions; and of inuring their youth to the toils of war and government. ​ Notwithstanding his advanced age, (for he was above threescore,​) and his gout, which obliged him to be carried in a litter, he transported himself in person into that remote island, attended by his two sons, his whole court, and a formidable army.  He immediately passed the walls of Hadrian and Antoninus, and entered the enemy'​s country, with a design of completing the long attempted conquest of Britain. ​ He penetrated to the northern extremity of the island, without meeting an enemy. ​ But the concealed ambuscades of the Caledonians,​ who hung unseen on the rear and flanks of his army, the coldness of the climate and the severity of a winter march across the hills and morasses of Scotland, are reported to have cost the Romans above fifty thousand men.  The Caledonians at length yielded to the powerful and obstinate attack, sued for peace, and surrendered a part of their arms, and a large tract of territory. ​ But their apparent submission lasted no longer than the present terror. ​ As soon as the Roman legions had retired, they resumed their hostile independence. ​ Their restless spirit provoked Severus to send a new army into Caledonia, with the most bloody orders, not to subdue, but to extirpate the natives. ​ They were saved by the death of their haughty enemy. ^12
 +
 +[Footnote 12: Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1280, &​c. ​ Herodian, l. iii. p. 132, &c.] This Caledonian war, neither marked by decisive events, nor attended with any important consequences,​ would ill deserve our attention; but it is supposed, not without a considerable degree of probability,​ that the invasion of Severus is connected with the most shining period of the British history or fable. ​ Fingal, whose fame, with that of his heroes and bards, has been revived in our language by a recent publication,​ is said to have commanded the Caledonians in that memorable juncture, to have eluded the power of Severus, and to have obtained a signal victory on the banks of the Carun, in which the son of the King of the World, Caracul, fled from his arms along the fields of his pride. ^13 Something of a doubtful mist still hangs over these Highland traditions; nor can it be entirely dispelled by the most ingenious researches of modern criticism; ^14 but if we could, with safety, indulge the pleasing supposition,​ that Fingal lived, and that Ossian sung, the striking contrast of the situation and manners of the contending nations might amuse a philosophic mind. The parallel would be little to the advantage of the more civilized people, if we compared the unrelenting revenge of Severus with the generous clemency of Fingal; the timid and brutal cruelty of Caracalla with the bravery, the tenderness, the elegant genius of Ossian; the mercenary chiefs, who, from motives of fear or interest, served under the imperial standard, with the free-born warriors who started to arms at the voice of the king of Morven; if, in a word, we contemplated the untutored Caledonians,​ glowing with the warm virtues of nature, and the degenerate Romans, polluted with the mean vices of wealth and slavery.
 +
 +[Footnote 13: Ossian'​s Poems, vol. i. p. 175.]
 +
 +[Footnote 14: That the Caracul of Ossian is the Caracalla of the Roman History, is, perhaps, the only point of British antiquity in which Mr. Macpherson and Mr. Whitaker are of the same opinion; and yet the opinion is not without difficulty. ​ In the Caledonian war, the son of Severus was known only by the appellation of Antoninus, and it may seem strange that the Highland bard should describe him by a nickname, invented four years afterwards, scarcely used by the Romans till after the death of that emperor, and seldom employed by the most ancient historians. ​ See Dion, l. lxxvii. p. 1317.  Hist. August. p. 89 Aurel. Victor. ​ Euseb. in Chron. ad ann. 214. Note: The historical authority of Macpherson'​s Ossian has not increased since Gibbon wrote. ​ We may, indeed, consider it exploded. ​ Mr. Whitaker, in a letter to Gibbon (Misc. Works, vol. ii. p. 100,) attempts, not very successfully,​ to weaken this objection of the historian. - M.] The declining health and last illness of Severus inflamed the wild ambition and black passions of Caracalla'​s soul. Impatient of any delay or division of empire, he attempted, more than once, to shorten the small remainder of his father'​s days, and endeavored, but without success, to excite a mutiny among the troops. ^15 The old emperor had often censured the misguided lenity of Marcus, who, by a single act of justice, might have saved the Romans from the tyranny of his worthless son.  Placed in the same situation, he experienced how easily the rigor of a judge dissolves away in the tenderness of a parent. ​ He deliberated,​ he threatened, but he could not punish; and this last and only instance of mercy was more fatal to the empire than a long series of cruelty. ^16 The disorder of his mind irritated the pains of his body; he wished impatiently for death, and hastened the instant of it by his impatience. ​ He expired at York in the sixty-fifth year of his life, and in the eighteenth of a glorious and successful reign. ​ In his last moments he recommended concord to his sons, and his sons to the army.  The salutary advice never reached the heart, or even the understanding,​ of the impetuous youths; but the more obedient troops, mindful of their oath of allegiance, and of the authority of their deceased master, resisted the solicitations of Caracalla, and proclaimed both brothers emperors of Rome. The new princes soon left the Caledonians in peace, returned to the capital, celebrated their father'​s funeral with divine honors, and were cheerfully acknowledged as lawful sovereigns, by the senate, the people, and the provinces. ​ Some preeminence of rank seems to have been allowed to the elder brother; but they both administered the empire with equal and independent power. ^17
 +
 +[Footnote 15: Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1282.  Hist. August. p. 71. Aurel. Victor.] [Footnote 16: Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1283.  Hist. August. p. 89] [Footnote 17: Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1284.  Herodian, l. iii. p. 135.] Such a divided form of government would have proved a source of discord between the most affectionate brothers. ​ It was impossible that it could long subsist between two implacable enemies, who neither desired nor could trust a reconciliation. It was visible that one only could reign, and that the other must fall; and each of them, judging of his rival'​s designs by his own, guarded his life with the most jealous vigilance from the repeated attacks of poison or the sword. ​ Their rapid journey through Gaul and Italy, during which they never ate at the same table, or slept in the same house, displayed to the provinces the odious spectacle of fraternal discord. ​ On their arrival at Rome, they immediately divided the vast extent of the imperial palace. ^18 No communication was allowed between their apartments; the doors and passages were diligently fortified, and guards posted and relieved with the same strictness as in a besieged place. The emperors met only in public, in the presence of their afflicted mother; and each surrounded by a numerous train of armed followers. ​ Even on these occasions of ceremony, the dissimulation of courts could ill disguise the rancor of their hearts. ^19 [Footnote 18: Mr. Hume is justly surprised at a passage of Herodian, (l. iv. p. 139,) who, on this occasion, represents the Imperial palace as equal in extent to the rest of Rome.  The whole region of the Palatine Mount, on which it was built, occupied, at most, a circumference of eleven or twelve thousand feet, (see the Notitia and Victor, in Nardini'​s Roma Antica.) But we should recollect that the opulent senators had almost surrounded the city with their extensive gardens and suburb palaces, the greatest part of which had been gradually confiscated by the emperors. ​ If Geta resided in the gardens that bore his name on the Janiculum, and if Caracalla inhabited the gardens of Maecenas on the Esquiline, the rival brothers were separated from each other by the distance of several miles; and yet the intermediate space was filled by the Imperial gardens of Sallust, of Lucullus, of Agrippa, of Domitian, of Caius, &c., all skirting round the city, and all connected with each other, and with the palace, by bridges thrown over the Tiber and the streets. ​ But this explanation of Herodian would require, though it ill deserves, a particular dissertation,​ illustrated by a map of ancient Rome.  (Hume, Essay on Populousness of Ancient Nations. - M.)]
 +
 +[Footnote 19: Herodian, l. iv. p. 139]
 +
 +This latent civil war already distracted the whole government, when a scheme was suggested that seemed of mutual benefit to the hostile brothers. It was proposed, that since it was impossible to reconcile their minds, they should separate their interest, and divide the empire between them.  The conditions of the treaty were already drawn with some accuracy. It was agreed that Caracalla, as the elder brother should remain in possession of Europe and the western Africa; and that he should relinquish the sovereignty of Asia and Egypt to Geta, who might fix his residence at Alexandria or Antioch, cities little inferior to Rome itself in wealth and greatness; that numerous armies should be constantly encamped on either side of the Thracian Bosphorus, to guard the frontiers of the rival monarchies; and that the senators of European extraction should acknowledge the sovereign of Rome, whilst the natives of Asia followed the emperor of the East.  The tears of the empress Julia interrupted the negotiation,​ the first idea of which had filled every Roman breast with surprise and indignation. ​ The mighty mass of conquest was so intimately united by the hand of time and policy, that it required the most forcible violence to rend it asunder. ​ The Romans had reason to dread, that the disjointed members would soon be reduced by a civil war under the dominion of one master; but if the separation was permanent, the division of the provinces must terminate in the dissolution of an empire whose unity had hitherto remained inviolate. ^20
 +
 +[Footnote 20: Herodian, l. iv. p. 144.]
 +
 +Had the treaty been carried into execution, the sovereign of Europe might soon have been the conqueror of Asia; but Caracalla obtained an easier, though a more guilty, victory. ​ He artfully listened to his mother'​s entreaties, and consented to meet his brother in her apartment, on terms of peace and reconciliation. In the midst of their conversation,​ some centurions, who had contrived to conceal themselves, rushed with drawn swords upon the unfortunate Geta.  His distracted mother strove to protect him in her arms; but, in the unavailing struggle, she was wounded in the hand, and covered with the blood of her younger son, while she saw the elder animating and assisting ^21 the fury of the assassins. ​ As soon as the deed was perpetrated,​ Caracalla, with hasty steps, and horror in his countenance,​ ran towards the Praetorian camp, as his only refuge, and threw himself on the ground before the statues of the tutelar deities. ^22 The soldiers attempted to raise and comfort him.  In broken and disordered words he informed them of his imminent danger, and fortunate escape; insinuating that he had prevented the designs of his enemy, and declared his resolution to live and die with his faithful troops. ​ Geta had been the favorite of the soldiers; but complaint was useless, revenge was dangerous, and they still reverenced the son of Severus. ​ Their discontent died away in idle murmurs, and Caracalla soon convinced them of the justice of his cause, by distributing in one lavish donative the accumulated treasures of his father'​s reign. ^23 The real sentiments of the soldiers alone were of importance to his power or safety. Their declaration in his favor commanded the dutiful professions of the senate. ​ The obsequious assembly was always prepared to ratify the decision of fortune; ^* but as Caracalla wished to assuage the first emotions of public indignation,​ the name of Geta was mentioned with decency, and he received the funeral honors of a Roman emperor. ^24 Posterity, in pity to his misfortune, has cast a veil over his vices. ​ We consider that young prince as the innocent victim of his brother'​s ambition, without recollecting that he himself wanted power, rather than inclination,​ to consummate the same attempts of revenge and murder. ^!
 +
 +[Footnote 21: Caracalla consecrated,​ in the temple of Serapis, the sword with which, as he boasted, he had slain his brother Geta.  Dion, l. lxxvii p. 1307.]
 +
 +[Footnote 22: Herodian, l. iv. p. 147.  In every Roman camp there was a small chapel near the head-quarters,​ in which the statues of the tutelar deities were preserved and adored; and we may remark that the eagles, and other military ensigns, were in the first rank of these deities; an excellent institution,​ which confirmed discipline by the sanction of religion. ​ See Lipsius de Militia Romana, iv. 5, v. 2.]
 +
 +[Footnote 23: Herodian, l. iv. p. 148.  Dion, l. lxxvii. p. 1289.] [Footnote *: The account of this transaction,​ in a new passage of Dion, varies in some degree from this statement. ​ It adds that the next morning, in the senate, Antoninus requested their indulgence, not because he had killed his brother, but because he was hoarse, and could not address them.  Mai. Fragm. p. 228. - M.]
 +
 +[Footnote 24: Geta was placed among the gods.  Sit divus, dum non sit vivus said his brother. ​ Hist. August. p. 91.  Some marks of Geta's consecration are still found upon medals.]
 +
 +[Footnote !: The favorable judgment which history has given of Geta is not founded solely on a feeling of pity; it is supported by the testimony of contemporary historians: he was too fond of the pleasures of the table, and showed great mistrust of his brother; but he was humane, well instructed; he often endeavored to mitigate the rigorous decrees of Severus and Caracalla. Herod iv. 3.  Spartian in Geta. - W.]
 +
 +The crime went not unpunished. ​ Neither business, nor pleasure, nor flattery, could defend Caracalla from the stings of a guilty conscience; and he confessed, in the anguish of a tortured mind, that his disordered fancy often beheld the angry forms of his father and his brother rising into life, to threaten and upbraid him. ^25 The consciousness of his crime should have induced him to convince mankind, by the virtues of his reign, that the bloody deed had been the involuntary effect of fatal necessity. ​ But the repentance of Caracalla only prompted him to remove from the world whatever could remind him of his guilt, or recall the memory of his murdered brother. ​ On his return from the senate to the palace, he found his mother in the company of several noble matrons, weeping over the untimely fate of her younger son. The jealous emperor threatened them with instant death; the sentence was executed against Fadilla, the last remaining daughter of the emperor Marcus; ^* and even the afflicted Julia was obliged to silence her lamentations,​ to suppress her sighs, and to receive the assassin with smiles of joy and approbation. ​ It was computed that, under the vague appellation of the friends of Geta, above twenty thousand persons of both sexes suffered death. His guards and freedmen, the ministers of his serious business, and the companions of his looser hours, those who by his interest had been promoted to any commands in the army or provinces, with the long connected chain of their dependants, were included in the proscription;​ which endeavored to reach every one who had maintained the smallest correspondence with Geta, who lamented his death, or who even mentioned his name. ^26 Helvius Pertinax, son to the prince of that name, lost his life by an unseasonable witticism. ^27 It was a sufficient crime of Thrasea Priscus to be descended from a family in which the love of liberty seemed an hereditary quality. ^28 The particular causes of calumny and suspicion were at length exhausted; and when a senator was accused of being a secret enemy to the government, the emperor was satisfied with the general proof that he was a man of property and virtue. From this well-grounded principle he frequently drew the most bloody inferences. ^! [Footnote 25: Dion, l. lxxvii. p. 1307]
 +
 +[Footnote *: The most valuable paragraph of dion, which the industry of M. Manas recovered, relates to this daughter of Marcus, executed by Caracalla. Her name, as appears from Fronto, as well as from Dion, was Cornificia. ​ When commanded to choose the kind of death she was to suffer, she burst into womanish tears; but remembering her father Marcus, she thus spoke: - "O my hapless soul, (... animula,) now imprisoned in the body, burst forth! be free! show them, however reluctant to believe it, that thou art the daughter of Marcus."​ She then laid aside all her ornaments, and preparing herself for death, ordered her veins to be opened. ​ Mai. Fragm. Vatican ii p. 220. - M.] [Footnote 26: Dion, l. lxxvii. p. 1290.  Herodian, l. iv. p. 150. Dion (p. 2298) says, that the comic poets no longer durst employ the name of Geta in their plays, and that the estates of those who mentioned it in their testaments were confiscated.]
 +
 +[Footnote 27: Caracalla had assumed the names of several conquered nations; Pertinax observed, that the name of Geticus (he had obtained some advantage over the Goths, or Getae) would be a proper addition to Parthieus, Alemannicus,​ &​c. ​ Hist. August. p. 89.]
 +
 +[Footnote 28: Dion, l. lxxvii. p. 1291.  He was probably descended from Helvidius Priscus, and Thrasea Paetus, those patriots, whose firm, but useless and unseasonable,​ virtue has been immortalized by Tacitus. Note: M. Guizot is indignant at this "​cold"​ observation of Gibbon on the noble character of Thrasea; but he admits that his virtue was useless to the public, and unseasonable amidst the vices of his age. - M.] [Footnote !: Caracalla reproached all those who demanded no favors of him. "It is clear that if you make me no requests, you do not trust me; if you do not trust me, you suspect me; if you suspect me, you fear me; if you fear me, you hate me." And forthwith he condemned them as conspirators,​ a good specimen of the sorites in a tyrant'​s logic. ​ See Fragm. Vatican p. - M.]
 +
 +====== Chapter VI: Death Of Severus, Tyranny Of Caracalla, Usurpation Of Marcinus. ======
 +
 +===== Part II. =====
 +
 +The execution of so many innocent citizens was bewailed by the secret tears of their friends and families. ​ The death of Papinian, the Praetorian Praefect, was lamented as a public calamity. ^!! During the last seven years of Severus, he had exercised the most important offices of the state, and, by his salutary influence, guided the emperor'​s steps in the paths of justice and moderation. ​ In full assurance of his virtue and abilities, Severus, on his death-bed, had conjured him to watch over the prosperity and union of the Imperial family. ^29 The honest labors of Papinian served only to inflame the hatred which Caracalla had already conceived against his father'​s minister. After the murder of Geta, the Praefect was commanded to exert the powers of his skill and eloquence in a studied apology for that atrocious deed.  The philosophic Seneca had condescended to compose a similar epistle to the senate, in the name of the son and assassin of Agrippina. ^30 "That it was easier to commit than to justify a parricide,"​ was the glorious reply of Papinian; ^31 who did not hesitate between the loss of life and that of honor. Such intrepid virtue, which had escaped pure and unsullied from the intrigues courts, the habits of business, and the arts of his profession, reflects more lustre on the memory of Papinian, than all his great employments,​ his numerous writings, and the superior reputation as a lawyer, which he has preserved through every age of the Roman jurisprudence. ^32
 +
 +[Footnote !!: Papinian was no longer Praetorian Praefect. Caracalla had deprived him of that office immediately after the death of Severus. ​ Such is the statement of Dion; and the testimony of Spartian, who gives Papinian the Praetorian praefecture till his death, is of little weight opposed to that of a senator then living at Rome. - W.]
 +
 +[Footnote 29: It is said that Papinian was himself a relation of the empress Julia.]
 +
 +[Footnote 30: Tacit. Annal. xiv. 2.] [Footnote 31: Hist. August. p. 88.]
 +
 +[Footnote 32: With regard to Papinian, see Heineccius'​s Historia Juris Roma ni, l. 330, &c.]
 +
 +It had hitherto been the peculiar felicity of the Romans, and in the worst of times the consolation,​ that the virtue of the emperors was active, and their vice indolent. ​ Augustus, Trajan, Hadrian, and Marcus visited their extensive dominions in person, and their progress was marked by acts of wisdom and beneficence. The tyranny of Tiberius, Nero, and Domitian, who resided almost constantly at Rome, or in the adjacent was confined to the senatorial and equestrian orders. ^33 But Caracalla was the common enemy of mankind. ​ He left capital (and he never returned to it) about a year after the murder of Geta.  The rest of his reign was spent in the several provinces of the empire, particularly those of the East, and province was by turns the scene of his rapine and cruelty. ​ The senators, compelled by fear to attend his capricious motions,​were obliged to provide daily entertainments at an immense expense, which he abandoned with contempt to his guards; and to erect, in every city, magnificent palaces and theatres, which he either disdained to visit, or ordered immediately thrown down.  The most wealthy families ruined by partial fines and confiscations,​ and the great body of his subjects oppressed by ingenious and aggravated taxes. ^34 In the midst of peace, and upon the slightest provocation,​ he issued his commands, at Alexandria, in Egypt for a general massacre. From a secure post in the temple of Serapis, he viewed and directed the slaughter of many thousand citizens, as well as strangers, without distinguishing the number or the crime of the sufferers; since as he coolly informed the senate, all the Alexandrians,​ those who perished, and those who had escaped, were alike guilty. ^35
 +
 +[Footnote 33: Tiberius and Domitian never moved from the neighborhood of Rome.  Nero made a short journey into Greece. "Et laudatorum Principum usus ex aequo, quamvis procul agentibus. Saevi proximis ingruunt."​ Tacit. ​ Hist. iv. 74.]
 +
 +[Footnote 34: Dion, l. lxxvii. p. 1294.]
 +
 +[Footnote 35: Dion, l. lxxvii. p. 1307.  Herodian, l. iv. p. 158. The former represents it as a cruel massacre, the latter as a perfidious one too.  It seems probable that the Alexandrians has irritated the tyrant by their railleries, and perhaps by their tumults.
 +
 +Note: After these massacres, Caracalla also deprived the Alexandrians of their spectacles and public feasts; he divided the city into two parts by a wall with towers at intervals, to prevent the peaceful communications of the citizens. ​ Thus was treated the unhappy Alexandria, says Dion, by the savage beast of Ausonia. ​ This, in fact, was the epithet which the oracle had applied to him; it is said, indeed, that he was much pleased with the name and often boasted of it.  Dion, lxxvii. p. 1307. - G.]
 +
 +The wise instructions of Severus never made any lasting impression on the mind of his son, who, although not destitute of imagination and eloquence, was equally devoid of judgment and humanity. ^36 One dangerous maxim, worthy of a tyrant, was remembered and abused by Caracalla. ​ "To secure the affections of the army, and to esteem the rest of his subjects as of little moment."​ ^37 But the liberality of the father had been restrained by prudence, and his indulgence to the troops was tempered by firmness and authority. ​ The careless profusion of the son was the policy of one reign, and the inevitable ruin both of the army and of the empire. ​ The vigor of the soldiers, instead of being confirmed by the severe discipline of camps, melted away in the luxury of cities. ​ The excessive increase of their pay and donatives ^38 exhausted the state to enrich the military order, whose modesty in peace, and service in war, is best secured by an honorable poverty. ​ The demeanor of Caracalla was haughty and full of pride; but with the troops he forgot even the proper dignity of his rank, encouraged their insolent familiarity,​ and, neglecting the essential duties of a general, affected to imitate the dress and manners of a common soldier.
 +
 +[Footnote 36: Dion, l. lxxvii. p. 1296.]
 +
 +[Footnote 37: Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1284.  Mr. Wotton (Hist. of Rome, p. 330) suspects that this maxim was invented by Caracalla himself, and attributed to his father.]
 +
 +[Footnote 38: Dion (l. lxxviii. p. 1343) informs us that the extraordinary gifts of Caracalla to the army amounted annually to seventy millions of drachmae (about two millions three hundred and fifty thousand pounds.) There is another passage in Dion, concerning the military pay, infinitely curious, were it not obscure, imperfect, and probably corrupt. ​ The best sense seems to be, that the Praetorian guards received twelve hundred and fifty drachmae, (forty pounds a year,) (Dion, l. lxxvii. p. 1307.) Under the reign of Augustus, they were paid at the rate of two drachmae, or denarii, per day, 720 a year, (Tacit. ​ Annal. i. 17.) Domitian, who increased the soldiers'​ pay one fourth, must have raised the Praetorians to 960 drachmae, (Gronoviue de Pecunia Veteri, l. iii. c. 2.) These successive augmentations ruined the empire; for, with the soldiers'​ pay, their numbers too were increased. ​ We have seen the Praetorians alone increased from 10,000 to 50,000 men. Note: Valois and Reimar have explained in a very simple and probable manner this passage of Dion, which Gibbon seems to me not to have understood. He ordered that the soldiers should receive, as the reward of their services the Praetorians 1250 drachms, the other 5000 drachms. Valois thinks that the numbers have been transposed, and that Caracalla added 5000 drachms to the donations made to the Praetorians,​ 1250 to those of the legionaries. ​ The Praetorians,​ in fact, always received more than the others. The error of Gibbon arose from his considering that this referred to the annual pay of the soldiers, while it relates to the sum they received as a reward for their services on their discharge: donatives means recompense for service. ​ Augustus had settled that the Praetorians,​ after sixteen campaigns, should receive 5000 drachms: the legionaries received only 3000 after twenty years. ​ Caracalla added 5000 drachms to the donative of the Praetorians,​ 1250 to that of the legionaries. ​ Gibbon appears to have been mistaken both in confounding this donative on discharge with the annual pay, and in not paying attention to the remark of Valois on the transposition of the numbers in the text. - G] It was impossible that such a character, and such conduct as that of Caracalla, could inspire either love or esteem; but as long as his vices were beneficial to the armies, he was secure from the danger of rebellion. ​ A secret conspiracy, provoked by his own jealousy, was fatal to the tyrant. The Praetorian praefecture was divided between two ministers. ​ The military department was intrusted to Adventus, an experienced rather than able soldier; and the civil affairs were transacted by Opilius Macrinus, who, by his dexterity in business, had raised himself, with a fair character, to that high office. ​ But his favor varied with the caprice of the emperor, and his life might depend on the slightest suspicion, or the most casual circumstance. ​ Malice or fanaticism had suggested to an African, deeply skilled in the knowledge of futurity, a very dangerous prediction, that Macrinus and his son were destined to reign over the empire. ​ The report was soon diffused through the province; and when the man was sent in chains to Rome, he still asserted, in the presence of the praefect of the city, the faith of his prophecy. ​ That magistrate, who had received the most pressing instructions to inform himself of the successors of Caracalla, immediately communicated the examination of the African to the Imperial court, which at that time resided in Syria. ​ But, notwithstanding the diligence of the public messengers, a friend of Macrinus found means to apprise him of the approaching danger. ​ The emperor received the letters from Rome; and as he was then engaged in the conduct of a chariot race, he delivered them unopened to the Praetorian Praefect, directing him to despatch the ordinary affairs, and to report the more important business that might be contained in them. Macrinus read his fate, and resolved to prevent it.  He inflamed the discontents of some inferior officers, and employed the hand of Martialis, a desperate soldier, who had been refused the rank of centurion. The devotion of Caracalla prompted him to make a pilgrimage from Edessa to the celebrated temple of the Moon at Carrhae. ^* He was attended by a body of cavalry: but having stopped on the road for some necessary occasion, his guards preserved a respectful distance, and Martialis, approaching his person under a presence of duty, stabbed him with a dagger. ​ The bold assassin was instantly killed by a Scythian archer of the Imperial guard. Such was the end of a monster whose life disgraced human nature, and whose reign accused the patience of the Romans. ^39 The grateful soldiers forgot his vices, remembered only his partial liberality, and obliged the senate to prostitute their own dignity and that of religion, by granting him a place among the gods.  Whilst he was upon earth, Alexander the Great was the only hero whom this god deemed worthy his admiration. ​ He assumed the name and ensigns of Alexander, formed a Macedonian phalanx of guards, persecuted the disciples of Aristotle, and displayed, with a puerile enthusiasm, the only sentiment by which he discovered any regard for virtue or glory. ​ We can easily conceive, that after the battle of Narva, and the conquest of Poland, Charles XII. (though he still wanted the more elegant accomplishments of the son of Philip) might boast of having rivalled his valor and magnanimity;​ but in no one action of his life did Caracalla express the faintest resemblance of the Macedonian hero, except in the murder of a great number of his own and of his father'​s friends. ^40
 +
 +[Footnote *: Carrhae, now Harran, between Edessan and Nisibis, famous for the defeat of Crassus - the Haran from whence Abraham set out for the land of Canaan. ​ This city has always been remarkable for its attachment to Sabaism -  G]
 +
 +[Footnote 39: Dion, l. lxxviii. p. 1312.  Herodian, l. iv. p. 168.] [Footnote 40: The fondness of Caracalla for the name and ensigns of Alexander is still preserved on the medals of that emperor. See Spanheim, de Usu Numismatum, Dissertat. xii.  Herodian (l. iv. p. 154) had seen very ridiculous pictures, in which a figure was drawn with one side of the face like Alexander, and the other like Caracalla.]
 +
 +After the extinction of the house of Severus, the Roman world remained three days without a master. ​ The choice of the army (for the authority of a distant and feeble senate was little regarded) hung in anxious suspense, as no candidate presented himself whose distinguished birth and merit could engage their attachment and unite their suffrages. ​ The decisive weight of the Praetorian guards elevated the hopes of their praefects, and these powerful ministers began to assert their legal claim to fill the vacancy of the Imperial throne. ​ Adventus, however, the senior praefect, conscious of his age and infirmities,​ of his small reputation, and his smaller abilities, resigned the dangerous honor to the crafty ambition of his colleague Macrinus, whose well-dissembled grief removed all suspicion of his being accessary to his master'​s death. ^41 The troops neither loved nor esteemed his character. ​ They cast their eyes around in search of a competitor, and at last yielded with reluctance to his promises of unbounded liberality and indulgence. ​ A short time after his accession, he conferred on his son Diadumenianus,​ at the age of only ten years, the Imperial title, and the popular name of Antoninus. ​ The beautiful figure of the youth, assisted by an additional donative, for which the ceremony furnished a pretext, might attract, it was hoped, the favor of the army, and secure the doubtful throne of Macrinus.
 +
 +[Footnote 41: Herodian, l. iv. p. 169.  Hist. August. p. 94.] The authority of the new sovereign had been ratified by the cheerful submission of the senate and provinces. ​ They exulted in their unexpected deliverance from a hated tyrant, and it seemed of little consequence to examine into the virtues of the successor of Caracalla. ​ But as soon as the first transports of joy and surprise had subsided, they began to scrutinize the merits of Macrinus with a critical severity, and to arraign the nasty choice of the army.  It had hitherto been considered as a fundamental maxim of the constitution,​ that the emperor must be always chosen in the senate, and the sovereign power, no longer exercised by the whole body, was always delegated to one of its members. ​ But Macrinus was not a senator. ^42 The sudden elevation of the Praetorian praefects betrayed the meanness of their origin; and the equestrian order was still in possession of that great office, which commanded with arbitrary sway the lives and fortunes of the senate. ​ A murmur of indignation was heard, that a man, whose obscure ^43 extraction had never been illustrated by any signal service, should dare to invest himself with the purple, instead of bestowing it on some distinguished senator, equal in birth and dignity to the splendor of the Imperial station. As soon as the character of Macrinus was surveyed by the sharp eye of discontent, some vices, and many defects, were easily discovered. ​ The choice of his ministers was in many instances justly censured, and the dissastified dissatisfied people, with their usual candor, accused at once his indolent tameness and his excessive severity. ^44
 +
 +[Footnote 42: Dion, l. lxxxviii. p. 1350.  Elagabalus reproached his predecessor with daring to seat himself on the throne; though, as Praetorian praefect, he could not have been admitted into the senate after the voice of the crier had cleared the house. ​ The personal favor of Plautianus and Sejanus had broke through the established rule.  They rose, indeed, from the equestrian order; but they preserved the praefecture,​ with the rank of senator and even with the annulship.]
 +
 +[Footnote 43: He was a native of Caesarea, in Numidia, and began his fortune by serving in the household of Plautian, from whose ruin he narrowly escaped. His enemies asserted that he was born a slave, and had exercised, among other infamous professions,​ that of Gladiator. ​ The fashion of aspersing the birth and condition of an adversary seems to have lasted from the time of the Greek orators to the learned grammarians of the last age.]
 +
 +[Footnote 44: Both Dion and Herodian speak of the virtues and vices of Macrinus with candor and impartiality;​ but the author of his life, in the Augustan History, seems to have implicitly copied some of the venal writers, employed by Elagabalus, to blacken the memory of his predecessor.] His rash ambition had climbed a height where it was difficult to stand with firmness, and impossible to fall without instant destruction. ​ Trained in the arts of courts and the forms of civil business, he trembled in the presence of the fierce and undisciplined multitude, over whom he had assumed the command; his military talents were despised, and his personal courage suspected; a whisper that circulated in the camp, disclosed the fatal secret of the conspiracy against the late emperor, aggravated the guilt of murder by the baseness of hypocrisy, and heightened contempt by detestation. ​ To alienate the soldiers, and to provoke inevitable ruin, the character of a reformer was only wanting; and such was the peculiar hardship of his fate, that Macrinus was compelled to exercise that invidious office. The prodigality of Caracalla had left behind it a long train of ruin and disorder; and if that worthless tyrant had been capable of reflecting on the sure consequences of his own conduct, he would perhaps have enjoyed the dark prospect of the distress and calamities which he bequeathed to his successors.
 +
 +In the management of this necessary reformation,​ Macrinus proceeded with a cautious prudence, which would have restored health and vigor to the Roman army in an easy and almost imperceptible manner. ​ To the soldiers already engaged in the service, he was constrained to leave the dangerous privileges and extravagant pay given by Caracalla; but the new recruits were received on the more moderate though liberal establishment of Severus, and gradually formed to modesty and obedience. ^45 One fatal error destroyed the salutary effects of this judicious plan.  The numerous army, assembled in the East by the late emperor, instead of being immediately dispersed by Macrinus through the several provinces, was suffered to remain united in Syria, during the winter that followed his elevation. ​ In the luxurious idleness of their quarters, the troops viewed their strength and numbers, communicated their complaints, and revolved in their minds the advantages of another revolution. The veterans, instead of being flattered by the advantageous distinction,​ were alarmed by the first steps of the emperor, which they considered as the presage of his future intentions. The recruits, with sullen reluctance, entered on a service, whose labors were increased while its rewards were diminished by a covetous and unwarlike sovereign. ​ The murmurs of the army swelled with impunity into seditious clamors; and the partial mutinies betrayed a spirit of discontent and disaffection that waited only for the slightest occasion to break out on every side into a general rebellion. ​ To minds thus disposed, the occasion soon presented itself.
 +
 +[Footnote 45: Dion, l. lxxxiii. p. 1336.  The sense of the author is as the intention of the emperor; but Mr. Wotton has mistaken both, by understanding the distinction,​ not of veterans and recruits, but of old and new legions. History of Rome, p. 347.]
 +
 +The empress Julia had experienced all the vicissitudes of fortune. ​ From an humble station she had been raised to greatness, only to taste the superior bitterness of an exalted rank.  She was doomed to weep over the death of one of her sons, and over the life of the other. ​ The cruel fate of Caracalla, though her good sense must have long taught'​ er to expect it, awakened the feelings of a mother and of an empress. Notwithstanding the respectful civility expressed by the usurper towards the widow of Severus, she descended with a painful struggle into the condition of a subject, and soon withdrew herself, by a voluntary death, from the anxious and humiliating dependence. ^46 ^* Julia Maesa, her sister, was ordered to leave the court and Antioch. ​ She retired to Emesa with an immense fortune, the fruit of twenty years' favor accompanied by her two daughters, Soaemias and Mamae, each of whom was a widow, and each had an only son.  Bassianus, ^! for that was the name of the son of Soaemias, was consecrated to the honorable ministry of high priest of the Sun; and this holy vocation, embraced either from prudence or superstition,​ contributed to raise the Syrian youth to the empire of Rome.  A numerous body of troops was stationed at Emesa; and as the severe discipline of Macrinus had constrained them to pass the winter encamped, they were eager to revenge the cruelty of such unaccustomed hardships. ​ The soldiers, who resorted in crowds to the temple of the Sun, beheld with veneration and delight the elegant dress and figure of the young pontiff; they recognized, or they thought that they recognized, the features of Caracalla, whose memory they now adored. ​ The artful Maesa saw and cherished their rising partiality, and readily sacrificing her daughter'​s reputation to the fortune of her grandson, she insinuated that Bassianus was the natural son of their murdered sovereign. ​ The sums distributed by her emissaries with a lavish hand silenced every objection, and the profusion sufficiently proved the affinity, or at least the resemblance,​ of Bassianus with the great original. The young Antoninus (for he had assumed and polluted that respectable name) was declared emperor by the troops of Emesa, asserted his hereditary right, and called aloud on the armies to follow the standard of a young and liberal prince, who had taken up arms to revenge his father'​s death and the oppression of the military order. ^47 [Footnote 46: Dion, l. lxxviii. p. 1330.  The abridgment of Xiphilin, though less particular, is in this place clearer than the original.] [Footnote *: As soon as this princess heard of the death of Caracalla, she wished to starve herself to death: the respect shown to her by Macrinus, in making no change in her attendants or her court, induced her to prolong her life.  But it appears, as far as the mutilated text of Dion and the imperfect epitome of Xiphilin permit us to judge, that she conceived projects of ambition, and endeavored to raise herself to the empire. ​ She wished to tread in the steps of Semiramis and Nitocris, whose country bordered on her own. Macrinus sent her an order immediately to leave Antioch, and to retire wherever she chose. She returned to her former purpose, and starved herself to death. - G.]
 +
 +[Footnote !: He inherited this name from his great-grandfather of the mother'​s side, Bassianus, father of Julia Maesa, his grandmother,​ and of Julia Domna, wife of Severus. ​ Victor (in his epitome) is perhaps the only historian who has given the key to this genealogy, when speaking of Caracalla. ​ His Bassianus ex avi materni nomine dictus. ​ Caracalla, Elagabalus, and Alexander Seyerus, bore successively this name. - G.]
 +
 +[Footnote 47: According to Lampridius, (Hist. August. p. 135,) Alexander Severus lived twenty-nine years three months and seven days.  As he was killed March 19, 235, he was born December 12, 205 and was consequently about this time thirteen years old, as his elder cousin might be about seventeen. This computation suits much better the history of the young princes than that of Herodian, (l. v. p. 181,) who represents them as three years younger; whilst, by an opposite error of chronology, he lengthens the reign of Elagabalus two years beyond its real duration. ​ For the particulars of the conspiracy, see Dion, l. lxxviii. p. 1339. Herodian, l.  v. p. 184.] Whilst a conspiracy of women and eunuchs was concerted with prudence, and conducted with rapid vigor, Macrinus, who, by a decisive motion, might have crushed his infant enemy, floated between the opposite extremes of terror and security, which alike fixed him inactive at Antioch. ​ A spirit of rebellion diffused itself through all the camps and garrisons of Syria, successive detachments murdered their officers, ^48 and joined the party of the rebels; and the tardy restitution of military pay and privileges was imputed to the acknowledged weakness of Macrinus. At length he marched out of Antioch, to meet the increasing and zealous army of the young pretender. His own troops seemed to take the field with faintness and reluctance; but, in the heat of the battle, ^49 the Praetorian guards, almost by an involuntary impulse, asserted the superiority of their valor and discipline. The rebel ranks were broken; when the mother and grandmother of the Syrian prince, who, according to their eastern custom, had attended the army, threw themselves from their covered chariots, and, by exciting the compassion of the soldiers, endeavored to animate their drooping courage. ​ Antoninus himself, who, in the rest of his life, never acted like a man, in this important crisis of his fate, approved himself a hero, mounted his horse, and, at the head of his rallied troops, charged sword in hand among the thickest of the enemy; whilst the eunuch Gannys, ^* whose occupations had been confined to female cares and the soft luxury of Asia, displayed the talents of an able and experienced general. ​ The battle still raged with doubtful violence, and Macrinus might have obtained the victory, had he not betrayed his own cause by a shameful and precipitate flight. ​ His cowardice served only to protract his life a few days, and to stamp deserved ignominy on his misfortunes. ​ It is scarcely necessary to add, that his son Diadumenianus was involved in the same fate. As soon as the stubborn Praetorians could be convinced that they fought for a prince who had basely deserted them, they surrendered to the conqueror: the contending parties of the Roman army, mingling tears of joy and tenderness, united under the banners of the imagined son of Caracalla, and the East acknowledged with pleasure the first emperor of Asiatic extraction.
 +
 +[Footnote 48: By a most dangerous proclamation of the pretended Antoninus, every soldier who brought in his officer'​s head became entitled to his private estate, as well as to his military commission.]
 +
 +[Footnote 49: Dion, l. lxxviii. p. 1345.  Herodian, l. v. p. 186. The battle was fought near the village of Immae, about two-and-twenty miles from Antioch.]
 +
 +[Footnote *: Gannys was not a eunuch. ​ Dion, p. 1355. - W] The letters of Macrinus had condescended to inform the senate of the slight disturbance occasioned by an impostor in Syria, and a decree immediately passed, declaring the rebel and his family public enemies; with a promise of pardon, however, to such of his deluded adherents as should merit it by an immediate return to their duty.  During the twenty days that elapsed from the declaration of the victory of Antoninus, (for in so short an interval was the fate of the Roman world decided,) the capital and the provinces, more especially those of the East, were distracted with hopes and fears, agitated with tumult, and stained with a useless effusion of civil blood, since whosoever of the rivals prevailed in Syria must reign over the empire. ​ The specious letters in which the young conqueror announced his victory to the obedient senate were filled with professions of virtue and moderation; the shining examples of Marcus and Augustus, he should ever consider as the great rule of his administration;​ and he affected to dwell with pride on the striking resemblance of his own age and fortunes with those of Augustus, who in the earliest youth had revenged, by a successful war, the murder of his father. ​ By adopting the style of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, son of Antoninus and grandson of Severus, he tacitly asserted his hereditary claim to the empire; but, by assuming the tribunitian and proconsular powers before they had been conferred on him by a decree of the senate, he offended the delicacy of Roman prejudice. ​ This new and injudicious violation of the constitution was probably dictated either by the ignorance of his Syrian courtiers, or the fierce disdain of his military followers. ^50 [Footnote 50: Dion, l. lxxix. p. 1353.]
 +
 +As the attention of the new emperor was diverted by the most trifling amusements, he wasted many months in his luxurious progress from Syria to Italy, passed at Nicomedia his first winter after his victory, and deferred till the ensuing summer his triumphal entry into the capital. ​ A faithful picture, however, which preceded his arrival, and was placed by his immediate order over the altar of Victory in the senate house, conveyed to the Romans the just but unworthy resemblance of his person and manners. ​ He was drawn in his sacerdotal robes of silk and gold, after the loose flowing fashion of the Medes and Phoenicians;​ his head was covered with a lofty tiara, his numerous collars and bracelets were adorned with gems of an inestimable value. ​ His eyebrows were tinged with black, and his cheeks painted with an artificial red and white. ^51 The grave senators confessed with a sigh, that, after having long experienced the stern tyranny of their own countrymen, Rome was at length humbled beneath the effeminate luxury of Oriental despotism. [Footnote 51: Dion, l. lxxix. p. 1363.  Herodian, l. v. p. 189.] The Sun was worshipped at Emesa, under the name of Elagabalus, ^52 and under the form of a black conical stone, which, as it was universally believed, had fallen from heaven on that sacred place. ​ To this protecting deity, Antoninus, not without some reason, ascribed his elevation to the throne. ​ The display of superstitious gratitude was the only serious business of his reign. ​ The triumph of the god of Emesa over all the religions of the earth, was the great object of his zeal and vanity; and the appellation of Elagabalus (for he presumed as pontiff and favorite to adopt that sacred name) was dearer to him than all the titles of Imperial greatness. ​ In a solemn procession through the streets of Rome, the way was strewed with gold dust; the black stone, set in precious gems, was placed on a chariot drawn by six milk-white horses richly caparisoned. ​ The pious emperor held the reins, and, supported by his ministers, moved slowly backwards, that he might perpetually enjoy the felicity of the divine presence. ​ In a magnificent temple raised on the Palatine Mount, the sacrifices of the god Elagabalus were celebrated with every circumstance of cost and solemnity. ​ The richest wines, the most extraordinary victims, and the rarest aromatics, were profusely consumed on his altar. ​ Around the altar, a chorus of Syrian damsels performed their lascivious dances to the sound of barbarian music, whilst the gravest personages of the state and army, clothed in long Phoenician tunics, officiated in the meanest functions, with affected zeal and secret indignation. ^53
 +
 +[Footnote 52: This name is derived by the learned from two Syrian words, Ela a God, and Gabal, to form, the forming or plastic god, a proper, and even happy epithet for the sun. Wotton'​s History of Rome, p. 378 Note: The name of Elagabalus has been disfigured in various ways. Herodian calls him; Lampridius, and the more modern writers, make him Heliogabalus. ​ Dion calls him Elegabalus; but Elegabalus was the true name, as it appears on the medals. (Eckhel. de Doct. num. vet. t. vii. p. 250.) As to its etymology, that which Gibbon adduces is given by Bochart, Chan. ii. 5; but Salmasius, on better grounds. (not. in Lamprid. in Elagab.,) derives the name of Elagabalus from the idol of that god, represented by Herodian and the medals in the form of a mountain, (gibel in Hebrew,) or great stone cut to a point, with marks which represent the sun.  As it was not permitted, at Hierapolis, in Syria, to make statues of the sun and moon, because, it was said, they are themselves sufficiently visible, the sun was represented at Emesa in the form of a great stone, which, as it appeared, had fallen from heaven. ​ Spanheim, Caesar. notes, p. 46. - G.  The name of Elagabalus, in "​nummis rarius legetur."​ Rasche, Lex. Univ. Ref. Numm.  Rasche quotes two. - M]
 +
 +
 +[Footnote 53: Herodian, l. v. p. 190.]
 +
 +
 +====== Chapter VI: Death Of Severus, Tyranny Of Caracalla, Usurpation Of Marcinus. ======
 +
 +===== Part III. =====
 +
 +To this temple, as to the common centre of religious worship, the Imperial fanatic attempted to remove the Ancilia, the Palladium, ^54 and all the sacred pledges of the faith of Numa.  A crowd of inferior deities attended in various stations the majesty of the god of Emesa; but his court was still imperfect, till a female of distinguished rank was admitted to his bed.  Pallas had been first chosen for his consort; but as it was dreaded lest her warlike terrors might affright the soft delicacy of a Syrian deity, the Moon, adorned by the Africans under the name of Astarte, was deemed a more suitable companion for the Sun.  Her image, with the rich offerings of her temple as a marriage portion, was transported with solemn pomp from Carthage to Rome, and the day of these mystic nuptials was a general festival in the capital and throughout the empire. ^55
 +
 +[Footnote 54: He broke into the sanctuary of Vesta, and carried away a statue, which he supposed to be the palladium; but the vestals boasted that, by a pious fraud, they had imposed a counterfeit image on the profane intruder. ​ Hist. August., p. 103.]
 +
 +[Footnote 55: Dion, l. lxxix. p. 1360.  Herodian, l. v. p. 193. The subjects of the empire were obliged to make liberal presents to the new married couple; and whatever they had promised during the life of Elagabalus was carefully exacted under the administration of Mamaea.]
 +
 +A rational voluptuary adheres with invariable respect to the temperate dictates of nature, and improves the gratifications of sense by social intercourse,​ endearing connections,​ and the soft coloring of taste and the imagination. ​ But Elagabalus, (I speak of the emperor of that name,) corrupted by his youth, his country, and his fortune, abandoned himself to the grossest pleasures with ungoverned fury, and soon found disgust and satiety in the midst of his enjoyments. ​ The inflammatory powers of art were summoned to his aid: the confused multitude of women, of wines, and of dishes, and the studied variety of attitude and sauces, served to revive his languid appetites. ​ New terms and new inventions in these sciences, the only ones cultivated and patronized by the monarch, ^56 signalized his reign, and transmitted his infamy to succeeding times. ​ A capricious prodigality supplied the want of taste and elegance; and whilst Elagabalus lavished away the treasures of his people in the wildest extravagance,​ his own voice and that of his flatterers applauded a spirit of magnificence unknown to the tameness of his predecessors. ​ To confound the order of seasons and climates, ^57 to sport with the passions and prejudices of his subjects, and to subvert every law of nature and decency, were in the number of his most delicious amusements. ​ A long train of concubines, and a rapid succession of wives, among whom was a vestal virgin, ravished by force from her sacred asylum, ^58 were insufficient to satisfy the impotence of his passions. ​ The master of the Roman world affected to copy the dress and manners of the female sex, preferred the distaff to the sceptre, and dishonored the principal dignities of the empire by distributing them among his numerous lovers; one of whom was publicly invested with the title and authority of the emperor'​s,​ or, as he more properly styled himself, of the empress'​s husband. ^59 [Footnote 56: The invention of a new sauce was liberally rewarded; but if it was not relished, the inventor was confined to eat of nothing else till he had discoveredanother more agreeable to the Imperial palate Hist. August. p. 111.]
 +
 +[Footnote 57: He never would eat sea-fish except at a great distance from the sea; he then would distribute vast quantities of the rarest sorts, brought at an immense expense, to the peasants of the inland country. ​ Hist. August. p. 109.]
 +
 +[Footnote 58: Dion, l. lxxix. p. 1358.  Herodian, l. v. p. 192.] [Footnote 59: Hierocles enjoyed that honor; but he would have been supplanted by one Zoticus, had he not contrived, by a potion, to enervate the powers of his rival, who, being found on trial unequal to his reputation, was driven with ignominy from the palace. ​ Dion, l. lxxix. p. 1363, 1364.  A dancer was made praefect of the city, a charioteer praefect of the watch, a barber praefect of the provisions. ​ These three ministers, with many inferior officers, were all recommended enormitate membrorum. ​ Hist. August. p. 105.] It may seem probable, the vices and follies of Elagabalus have been adorned by fancy, and blackened by prejudice. ^60 Yet, confining ourselves to the public scenes displayed before the Roman people, and attested by grave and contemporary historians, their inexpressible infamy surpasses that of any other age or country. ​ The license of an eastern monarch is secluded from the eye of curiosity by the inaccessible walls of his seraglio. ​ The sentiments of honor and gallantry have introduced a refinement of pleasure, a regard for decency, and a respect for the public opinion, into the modern courts of Europe; ^* but the corrupt and opulent nobles of Rome gratified every vice that could be collected from the mighty conflux of nations and manners. Secure of impunity, careless of censure, they lived without restraint in the patient and humble society of their slaves and parasites. The emperor, in his turn, viewing every rank of his subjects with the same contemptuous indifference,​ asserted without control his sovereign privilege of lust and luxury.
 +
 +[Footnote 60: Even the credulous compiler of his life, in the Augustan History (p. 111) is inclined to suspect that his vices may have been exaggerated.]
 +
 +[Footnote *: Wenck has justly observed that Gibbon should have reckoned the influence of Christianity in this great change. ​ In the most savage times, and the most corrupt courts, since the introduction of Christianity there have been no Neros or Domitians, no Commodus or Elagabalus. - M.] The most worthless of mankind are not afraid to condemn in others the same disorders which they allow in themselves; and can readily discover some nice difference of age, character, or station, to justify the partial distinction. ​ The licentious soldiers, who had raised to the throne the dissolute son of Caracalla, blushed at their ignominious choice, and turned with disgust from that monster, to contemplate with pleasure the opening virtues of his cousin Alexander, the son of Mamaea. ​ The crafty Maesa, sensible that her grandson Elagabalus must inevitably destroy himself by his own vices, had provided another and surer support of her family. ​ Embracing a favorable moment of fondness and devotion, she had persuaded the young emperor to adopt Alexander, and to invest him with the title of Caesar, that his own divine occupations might be no longer interrupted by the care of the earth. ​ In the second rank that amiable prince soon acquired the affections of the public, and excited the tyrant'​s jealousy, who resolved to terminate the dangerous competition,​ either by corrupting the manners, or by taking away the life, of his rival. ​ His arts proved unsuccessful;​ his vain designs were constantly discovered by his own loquacious folly, and disappointed by those virtuous and faithful servants whom the prudence of Mamaea had placed about the person of her son.  In a hasty sally of passion, Elagabalus resolved to execute by force what he had been unable to compass by fraud, and by a despotic sentence degraded his cousin from the rank and honors of Caesar. The message was received in the senate with silence, and in the camp with fury.  The Praetorian guards swore to protect Alexander, and to revenge the dishonored majesty of the throne. The tears and promises of the trembling Elagabalus, who only begged them to spare his life, and to leave him in the possession of his beloved Hierocles, diverted their just indignation;​ and they contented themselves with empowering their praefects to watch over the safety of Alexander, and the conduct of the emperor. ^61 [Footnote 61: Dion, l. lxxix. p. 1365.  Herodian, l. v. p. 195 - 201.  Hist. August. p. 105.  The last of the three historians seems to have followed the best authors in his account of the revolution.]
 +
 +It was impossible that such a reconciliation should last, or that even the mean soul of Elagabalus could hold an empire on such humiliating terms of dependence. ​ He soon attempted, by a dangerous experiment, to try the temper of the soldiers. ​ The report of the death of Alexander, and the natural suspicion that he had been murdered, inflamed their passions into fury, and the tempest of the camp could only be appeased by the presence and authority of the popular youth. ​ Provoked at this new instance of their affection for his cousin, and their contempt for his person, the emperor ventured to punish some of the leaders of the mutiny. ​ His unseasonable severity proved instantly fatal to his minions, his mother, and himself. ​ Elagabalus was massacred by the indignant Praetorians,​ his mutilated corpse dragged through the streets of the city, and thrown into the Tiber. ​ His memory was branded with eternal infamy by the senate; the justice of whose decree has been ratified by posterity. ^62
 +
 +[See Island In The Tiber: Elagabalus was thrown into the Tiber [Footnote 62: The aera of the death of Elagabalus, and of the accession of Alexander, has employed the learning and ingenuity of Pagi, Tillemont, Valsecchi, Vignoli, and Torre, bishop of Adria. The question is most assuredly intricate; but I still adhere to the authority of Dion, the truth of whose calculations is undeniable, and the purity of whose text is justified by the agreement of Xiphilin, Zonaras, and Cedrenus. Elagabalus reigned three years nine months and four days, from his victory over Macrinus, and was killed March 10, 222. But what shall we reply to the medals, undoubtedly genuine, which reckon the fifth year of his tribunitian power? We shall reply, with the learned Valsecchi, that the usurpation of Macrinus was annihilated,​ and that the son of Caracalla dated his reign from his father'​s death? After resolving this great difficulty, the smaller knots of this question may be easily untied, or cut asunder. ​  Note: This opinion of Valsecchi has been triumphantly contested by Eckhel, who has shown the impossibility of reconciling it with the medals of Elagabalus, and has given the most satisfactory explanation of the five tribunates of that emperor. He ascended the throne and received the tribunitian power the 16th of May, in the year of Rome 971; and on the 1st January of the next year, 972, he began a new tribunate, according to the custom established by preceding emperors. During the years 972, 973, 974, he enjoyed the tribunate, and commenced his fifth in the year 975, during which be was killed on the 10th March. Eckhel de Doct. Num. viii. 430 &c. - G.]   In the room of Elagabalus, his cousin Alexander was raised to the throne by the Praetorian guards. His relation to the family of Severus, whose name he assumed, was the same as that of his predecessor;​ his virtue and his danger had already endeared him to the Romans, and the eager liberality of the senate conferred upon him, in one day, the various titles and powers of the Imperial dignity. ^63 But as Alexander was a modest and dutiful youth, of only seventeen years of age, the reins of government were in the hands of two women, of his mother, Mamaea, and of Maesa, his grandmother. After the death of the latter, who survived but a short time the elevation of Alexander, Mamaea remained the sole regent of her son and of the empire. ​ [Footnote 63: Hist. August. p. 114. By this unusual precipitation,​ the senate meant to confound the hopes of pretenders, and prevent the factions of the armies.] In every age and country, the wiser, or at least the stronger, of the two sexes, has usurped the powers of the state, and confined the other to the cares and pleasures of domestic life. In hereditary monarchies, however, and especially in those of modern Europe, the gallant spirit of chivalry, and the law of succession, have accustomed us to allow a singular exception; and a woman is often acknowledged the absolute sovereign of a great kingdom, in which she would be deemed incapable of exercising the smallest employment, civil or military. But as the Roman emperors were still considered as the generals and magistrates of the republic, their wives and mothers, although distinguished by the name of Augusta were never associated to their personal honors; and a female reign would have appeared an inexpiable prodigy in the eyes of those primitive Romans, who married without love, or loved without delicacy and respect. ^64 The haughty Agripina aspired, indeed, to share the honors of the empire which she had conferred on her son; but her mad ambition, detested by every citizen who felt for the dignity of Rome, was disappointed by the artful firmness of Seneca and Burrhus. ^65 The good sense, or the indifference,​ of succeeding princes, restrained them from offending the prejudices of their subjects; and it was reserved for the profligate Elagabalus to discharge the acts of the senate with the name of his mother Soaemias, who was placed by the side of the consuls, and subscribed, as a regular member, the decrees of the legislative assembly. Her more prudent sister, Mamaea, declined the useless and odious prerogative,​ and a solemn law was enacted, excluding women forever from the senate, and devoting to the infernal gods the head of the wretch by whom this sanction should be violated. ^66 The substance, not the pageantry, of power. was the object of Mamaea'​s manly ambition. She maintained an absolute and lasting empire over the mind of her son, and in his affection the mother could not brook a rival. Alexander, with her consent, married the daughter of a patrician; but his respect for his father-in-law,​ and love for the empress, were inconsistent with the tenderness of interest of Mamaea. The patrician was executed on the ready accusation of treason, and the wife of Alexander driven with ignominy from the palace, and banished into Africa. ^67  [Footnote 64: Metellus Numidicus, the censor, acknowledged to the Roman people, in a public oration, that had kind nature allowed us to exist without the help of women, we should be delivered from a very troublesome companion; and he could recommend matrimony only as the sacrifice of private pleasure to public duty. Aulus Gellius, i. 6.]  [Footnote 65: Tacit. Annal. xiii. 5.]  [Footnote 66: Hist. August. p. 102, 107.] [Footnote 67: Dion, l. lxxx. p. 1369. Herodian, l. vi. p. 206. Hist. August. p. 131. Herodian represents the patrician as innocent. The Augustian History, on the authority of Dexippus, condemns him, as guilty of a conspiracy against the life of Alexander. It is impossible to pronounce between them; but Dion is an irreproachable witness of the jealousy and cruelty of Mamaea towards the young empress, whose hard fate Alexander lamented, but durst not oppose.] Notwithstanding this act of jealous cruelty, as well as some instances of avarice, with which Mamaea is charged, the general tenor of her administration was equally for the benefit of her son and of the empire. With the approbation of the senate, she chose sixteen of the wisest and most virtuous senators as a perpetual council of state, before whom every public business of moment was debated and determined. The celebrated Ulpian, equally distinguished by his knowledge of, and his respect for, the laws of Rome, was at their head; and the prudent firmness of this aristocracy restored order and authority to the government. As soon as they had purged the city from foreign superstition and luxury, the remains of the capricious tyranny of Elagabalus, they applied themselves to remove his worthless creatures from every department of the public administration,​ and to supply their places with men of virtue and ability. Learning, and the love of justice, became the only recommendations for civil offices; valor, and the love of discipline, the only qualifications for military employments. ^68 [Footnote 68: Herodian, l. vi. p. 203. Hist. August. p. 119. The latter insinuates, that when any law was to be passed, the council was assisted by a number of able lawyers and experienced senators, whose opinions were separately given, and taken down in writing.] ​  But the most important care of Mamaea and her wise counsellors,​ was to form the character of the young emperor, on whose personal qualities the happiness or misery of the Roman world must ultimately depend. The fortunate soil assisted, and even prevented, the hand of cultivation. An excellent understanding soon convinced Alexander of the advantages of virtue, the pleasure of knowledge, and the necessity of labor. A natural mildness and moderation of temper preserved him from the assaults of passion, and the allurements of vice. His unalterable regard for his mother, and his esteem for the wise Ulpian, guarded his unexperienced youth from the poison of flattery. ^* [Footnote *: Alexander received into his chapel all the religions which prevailed in the empire; he admitted Jesus Christ, Abraham, Orpheus, Apollonius of Tyana, &c. It was almost certain that his mother Mamaea had instructed him in the morality of Christianity. Historians in general agree in calling her a Christian; there is reason to believe that she had begun to have a taste for the principles of Christianity. (See Tillemont, Alexander Severus) Gibbon has not noticed this circumstance;​ he appears to have wished to lower the character of this empress; he has throughout followed the narrative of Herodian, who, by the acknowledgment of Capitolinus himself, detested Alexander. Without believing the exaggerated praises of Lampridius, he ought not to have followed the unjust severity of Herodian, and, above all, not to have forgotten to say that the virtuous Alexander Severus had insured to the Jews the preservation of their privileges, and permitted the exercise of Christianity. Hist. Aug. p. 121. The Christians had established their worship in a public place, of which the victuallers (cauponarii) claimed, not the property, but possession by custom. Alexander answered, that it was better that the place should be used for the service of God, in any form, than for victuallers. - G. I have scrupled to omit this note, as it contains some points worthy of notice; but it is very unjust to Gibbon, who mentions almost all the circumstances,​ which he is accused of omitting, in another, and, according to his plan, a better place, and, perhaps, in stronger terms than M. Guizot. See Chap. xvi. - M.]   The simple journal of his ordinary occupations exhibits a pleasing picture of an accomplished emperor, ^69 and, with some allowance for the difference of manners, might well deserve the imitation of modern princes. Alexander rose early: the first moments of the day were consecrated to private devotion, and his domestic chapel was filled with the images of those heroes, who, by improving or reforming human life, had deserved the grateful reverence of posterity. But as he deemed the service of mankind the most acceptable worship of the gods, the greatest part of his morning hours was employed in his council, where he discussed public affairs, and determined private causes, with a patience and discretion above his years. The dryness of business was relieved by the charms of literature; and a portion of time was always set apart for his favorite studies of poetry, history, and philosophy. The works of Virgil and Horace, the republics of Plato and Cicero, formed his taste, enlarged his understanding,​ and gave him the noblest ideas of man and government. The exercises of the body succeeded to those of the mind; and Alexander, who was tall, active, and robust, surpassed most of his equals in the gymnastic arts. Refreshed by the use of the bath and a slight dinner, he resumed, with new vigor, the business of the day; and, till the hour of supper, the principal meal of the Romans, he was attended by his secretaries,​ with whom he read and answered the multitude of letters, memorials, and petitions, that must have been addressed to the master of the greatest part of the world. His table was served with the most frugal simplicity, and whenever he was at liberty to consult his own inclination,​ the company consisted of a few select friends, men of learning and virtue, amongst whom Ulpian was constantly invited. Their conversation was familiar and instructive;​ and the pauses were occasionally enlivened by the recital of some pleasing composition,​ which supplied the place of the dancers, comedians, and even gladiators, so frequently summoned to the tables of the rich and luxurious Romans. ^70 The dress of Alexander was plain and modest, his demeanor courteous and affable: at the proper hours his palace was open to all his subjects, but the voice of a crier was heard, as in the Eleusinian mysteries, pronouncing the same salutary admonition: "Let none enter these holy walls, unless he is conscious of a pure and innocent mind." ^71 [Footnote 69: See his life in the Augustan History. The undistinguishing compiler has buried these interesting anecdotes under a load of trivial unmeaning circumstances.] ​ [Footnote 70: See the 13th Satire of Juvenal.] [Footnote 71: Hist. August. p. 119.]   Such a uniform tenor of life, which left not a moment for vice or folly, is a better proof of the wisdom and justice of Alexander'​s government, than all the trifling details preserved in the compilation of Lampridius. Since the accession of Commodus, the Roman world had experienced,​ during the term of forty years, the successive and various vices of four tyrants. From the death of Elagabalus, it enjoyed an auspicious calm of thirteen years. ^* The provinces, relieved from the oppressive taxes invented by Caracalla and his pretended son, flourished in peace and prosperity, under the administration of magistrates,​ who were convinced by experience that to deserve the love of the subjects, was their best and only method of obtaining the favor of their sovereign. While some gentle restraints were imposed on the innocent luxury of the Roman people, the price of provisions and the interest of money, were reduced by the paternal care of Alexander, whose prudent liberality, without distressing the industrious,​ supplied the wants and amusements of the populace. The dignity, the freedom, the authority of the senate was restored; and every virtuous senator might approach the person of the emperor without a fear and without a blush. ​ [Footnote *: Wenck observes that Gibbon, enchanted with the virtue of Alexander has heightened, particularly in this sentence, its effect on the state of the world. His own account, which follows, of the insurrections and foreign wars, is not in harmony with this beautiful picture. - M.]   The name of Antoninus, ennobled by the virtues of Pius and Marcus, had been communicated by adoption to the dissolute Verus, and by descent to the cruel Commodus. It became the honorable appellation of the sons of Severus, was bestowed on young Diadumenianus,​ and at length prostituted to the infamy of the high priest of Emesa. Alexander, though pressed by the studied, and, perhaps, sincere importunity of the senate, nobly refused the borrowed lustre of a name; whilst in his whole conduct he labored to restore the glories and felicity of the age of the genuine Antonines. ^72  [Footnote 72: See, in the Hist. August. p. 116, 117, the whole contest between Alexander and the senate, extracted from the journals of that assembly. It happened on the sixth of March, probably of the year 223, when the Romans had enjoyed, almost a twelvemonth,​ the blessings of his reign. Before the appellation of Antoninus was offered him as a title of honor, the senate waited to see whether Alexander would not assume it as a family name.] ​  In the civil administration of Alexander, wisdom was enforced by power, and the people, sensible of the public felicity, repaid their benefactor with their love and gratitude. There still remained a greater, a more necessary, but a more difficult enterprise; the reformation of the military order, whose interest and temper, confirmed by long impunity, rendered them impatient of the restraints of discipline, and careless of the blessings of public tranquillity. In the execution of his design, the emperor affected to display his love, and to conceal his fear of the army. The most rigid economy in every other branch of the administration supplied a fund of gold and silver for the ordinary pay and the extraordinary rewards of the troops. In their marches he relaxed the severe obligation of carrying seventeen days' provision on their shoulders. Ample magazines were formed along the public roads, and as soon as they entered the enemy'​s country, a numerous train of mules and camels waited on their haughty laziness. As Alexander despaired of correcting the luxury of his soldiers, he attempted, at least, to direct it to objects of martial pomp and ornament, fine horses, splendid armor, and shields enriched with silver and gold. He shared whatever fatigues he was obliged to impose, visited, in person, the sick and wounded, preserved an exact register of their services and his own gratitude, and expressed on every occasion, the warmest regard for a body of men, whose welfare, as he affected to declare, was so closely connected with that of the state. ^73 By the most gentle arts he labored to inspire the fierce multitude with a sense of duty, and to restore at least a faint image of that discipline to which the Romans owed their empire over so many other nations, as warlike and more powerful than themselves. But his prudence was vain, his courage fatal, and the attempt towards a reformation served only to inflame the ills it was meant to cure.  [Footnote 73: It was a favorite saying of the emperor'​s Se milites magis servare, quam seipsum, quod salus publica in his esset. Hist. Aug. p. 130.] The Praetorian guards were attached to the youth of Alexander. They loved him as a tender pupil, whom they had saved from a tyrant'​s fury, and placed on the Imperial throne. That amiable prince was sensible of the obligation; but as his gratitude was restrained within the limits of reason and justice, they soon were more dissatisfied with the virtues of Alexander, than they had ever been with the vices of Elagabalus. Their praefect, the wise Ulpian, was the friend of the laws and of the people; he was considered as the enemy of the soldiers, and to his pernicious counsels every scheme of reformation was imputed. Some trifling accident blew up their discontent into a furious mutiny; and the civil war raged, during three days, in Rome, whilst the life of that excellent minister was defended by the grateful people. Terrified, at length, by the sight of some houses in flames, and by the threats of a general conflagration,​ the people yielded with a sigh, and left the virtuous but unfortunate Ulpian to his fate. He was pursued into the Imperial palace, and massacred at the feet of his master, who vainly strove to cover him with the purple, and to obtain his pardon from the inexorable soldiers. ^* Such was the deplorable weakness of government, that the emperor was unable to revenge his murdered friend and his insulted dignity, without stooping to the arts of patience and dissimulation. Epagathus, the principal leader of the mutiny, was removed from Rome, by the honorable employment of praefect of Egypt: from that high rank he was gently degraded to the government of Crete; and when at length, his popularity among the guards was effaced by time and absence, Alexander ventured to inflict the tardy but deserved punishment of his crimes. ^74 Under the reign of a just and virtuous prince, the tyranny of the army threatened with instant death his most faithful ministers, who were suspected of an intention to correct their intolerable disorders. The historian Dion Cassius had commanded the Pannonian legions with the spirit of ancient discipline. Their brethren of Rome, embracing the common cause of military license, demanded the head of the reformer. Alexander, however, instead of yielding to their seditious clamors, showed a just sense of his merit and services, by appointing him his colleague in the consulship, and defraying from his own treasury the expense of that vain dignity: but as was justly apprehended,​ that if the soldiers beheld him with the ensigns of his office, they would revenge the insult in his blood, the nominal first magistrate of the state retired, by the emperor'​s advice, from the city, and spent the greatest part of his consulship at his villas in Campania. ^75 ^*  [Footnote *: Gibbon has confounded two events altogether different - the quarrel of the people with the Praetorians,​ which lasted three days, and the assassination of Ulpian by the latter. Dion relates first the death of Ulpian, afterwards, reverting back according to a manner which is usual with him, he says that during the life of Ulpian, there had been a war of three days between the Praetorians and the people. But Ulpian was not the cause. Dion says, on the contrary, that it was occasioned by some unimportant circumstance;​ whilst he assigns a weighty reason for the murder of Ulpian, the judgment by which that Praetorian praefect had condemned his predecessors,​ Chrestus and Flavian, to death, whom the soldiers wished to revenge. Zosimus (l. 1, c. xi.) attributes this sentence to Mamaera; but, even then, the troops might have imputed it to Ulpian, who had reaped all the advantage and was otherwise odious to them. - W.]  [Footnote 74: Though the author of the life of Alexander (Hist. August. p. 182) mentions the sedition raised against Ulpian by the soldiers, he conceals the catastrophe,​ as it might discover a weakness in the administration of his hero. From this designed omission, we may judge of the weight and candor of that author.] ​ [Footnote 75: For an account of Ulpian'​s fate and his own danger, see the mutilated conclusion of Dion's History, l. lxxx. p. 1371.] [Footnote *: Dion possessed no estates in Campania, and was not rich. He only says that the emperor advised him to reside, during his consulate, in some place out of Rome; that he returned to Rome after the end of his consulate, and had an interview with the emperor in Campania. He asked and obtained leave to pass the rest of his life in his native city, (Nice, in Bithynia: ) it was there that he finished his history, which closes with his second consulship. - W.]]
 +
 +====== Chapter VI: Death Of Severus, Tyranny Of Caracalla, Usurpation Of Marcinus. ======
 +
 +===== Part IV. =====
 +
 +The lenity of the emperor confirmed the insolence of the troops; the legions imitated the example of the guards, and defended their prerogative of licentiousness with the same furious obstinacy. ​ The administration of Alexander was an unavailing struggle against the corruption of his age.  In llyricum, in Mauritania, in Armenia, in Mesopotamia,​ in Germany, fresh mutinies perpetually broke out; his officers were murdered, his authority was insulted, and his life at last sacrificed to the fierce discontents of the army. ^76 One particular fact well deserves to be recorded, as it illustrates the manners of the troops, and exhibits a singular instance of their return to a sense of duty and obedience. ​ Whilst the emperor lay at Antioch, in his Persian expedition, the particulars of which we shall hereafter relate, the punishment of some soldiers, who had been discovered in the baths of women, excited a sedition in the legion to which they belonged. ​ Alexander ascended his tribunal, and with a modest firmness represented to the armed multitude the absolute necessity, as well as his inflexible resolution, of correcting the vices introduced by his impure predecessor,​ and of maintaining the discipline, which could not be relaxed without the ruin of the Roman name and empire. ​ Their clamors interrupted his mild expostulation. ​ "​Reserve your shout,"​ said the undaunted emperor, "till you take the field against the Persians, the Germans, and the Sarmatians. ​ Be silent in the presence of your sovereign and benefactor, who bestows upon you the corn, the clothing, and the money of the provinces. ​ Be silent, or I shall no longer style you solders, but citizens, ^77 if those indeed who disclaim the laws of Rome deserve to be ranked among the meanest of the people."​ His menaces inflamed the fury of the legion, and their brandished arms already threatened his person. "Your courage,"​ resumed the intrepid Alexander, "would be more nobly displayed in the field of battle; me you may destroy, you cannot intimidate; and the severe justice of the republic would punish your crime and revenge my death."​ The legion still persisted in clamorous sedition, when the emperor pronounced, with a cud voice, the decisive sentence, "​Citizens! ​ lay down your arms, and depart in peace to your respective habitations."​ The tempest was instantly appeased: the soldiers, filled with grief and shame, silently confessed the justice of their punishment, and the power of discipline, yielded up their arms and military ensigns, and retired in confusion, not to their camp, but to the several inns of the city.  Alexander enjoyed, during thirty days, the edifying spectacle of their repentance; nor did he restore them to their former rank in the army, till he had punished with death those tribunes whose connivance had occasioned the mutiny. ​ The grateful legion served the emperor whilst living, and revenged him when dead. ^78 [Footnote 76: Annot. Reimar. ad Dion Cassius, l. lxxx. p. 1369.] [Footnote 77: Julius Caesar had appeased a sedition with the same word, Quirites; which, thus opposed to soldiers, was used in a sense of contempt, and reduced the offenders to the less honorable condition of mere citizens. Tacit. Annal. i. 43.]
 +
 +[Footnote 78: Hist. August. p. 132.]
 +
 +The resolutions of the multitude generally depend on a moment; and the caprice of passion might equally determine the seditious legion to lay down their arms at the emperor'​s feet, or to plunge them into his breast. Perhaps, if this singular transaction had been investigated by the penetration of a philosopher,​ we should discover the secret causes which on that occasion authorized the boldness of the prince, and commanded the obedience of the troops; and perhaps, if it had been related by a judicious historian, we should find this action, worthy of Caesar himself, reduced nearer to the level of probability and the common standard of the character of Alexander Severus. ​ The abilities of that amiable prince seem to have been inadequate to the difficulties of his situation, the firmness of his conduct inferior to the purity of his intentions. ​ His virtues, as well as the vices of Elagabalus, contracted a tincture of weakness and effeminacy from the soft climate of Syria, of which he was a native; though he blushed at his foreign origin, and listened with a vain complacency to the flattering genealogists,​ who derived his race from the ancient stock of Roman nobility. ^79 The pride and avarice of his mother cast a shade on the glories of his reign; an by exacting from his riper years the same dutiful obedience which she had justly claimed from his unexperienced youth, Mamaea exposed to public ridicule both her son's character and her own. ^80 The fatigues of the Persian war irritated the military discontent; the unsuccessful event ^* degraded the reputation of the emperor as a general, and even as a soldier. ​ Every cause prepared, and every circumstance hastened, a revolution, which distracted the Roman empire with a long series of intestine calamities.
 +
 +[Footnote 79: From the Metelli. ​ Hist. August. p. 119.  The choice was judicious. ​ In one short period of twelve years, the Metelli could reckon seven consulships and five triumphs. ​ See Velleius Paterculus, ii. 11, and the Fasti.]
 +
 +[Footnote 80: The life of Alexander, in the Augustan History, is the mere idea of a perfect prince, an awkward imitation of the Cyropaedia. ​ The account of his reign, as given by Herodian, is rational and moderate, consistent with the general history of the age; and, in some of the most invidious particulars,​ confirmed by the decisive fragments of Dion.  Yet from a very paltry prejudice, the greater number of our modern writers abuse Herodian, and copy the Augustan History. ​ See Mess de Tillemont and Wotton. From the opposite prejudice, the emperor Julian (in Caesarib. p. 315) dwells with a visible satisfaction on the effeminate weakness of the Syrian, and the ridiculous avarice of his mother.]
 +
 +[Footnote *: Historians are divided as to the success of the campaign against the Persians; Herodian alone speaks of defeat. Lampridius, Eutropius, Victor, and others, say that it was very glorious to Alexander; that he beat Artaxerxes in a great battle, and repelled him from the frontiers of the empire. ​ This much is certain, that Alexander, on his return to Rome, (Lamp. Hist. Aug. c. 56, 133, 134,) received the honors of a triumph, and that he said, in his oration to the people. ​ Quirites, vicimus Persas, milites divites reduximus, vobis congiarium pollicemur, cras ludos circenses Persicos donabimus. ​ Alexander, says Eckhel, had too much modesty and wisdom to permit himself to receive honors which ought only to be the reward of victory, if he had not deserved them; he would have contented himself with dissembling his losses. ​ Eckhel, Doct. Num. vet. vii. 276.  The medals represent him as in triumph; one, among others, displays him crowned by Victory between two rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris. ​ P. M. TR. P. xii. Cos. iii. PP. Imperator paludatus D. hastam. S. parazonium, stat inter duos fluvios humi jacentes, et ab accedente retro Victoria coronatur. ​ Ae. max. mod. (Mus. Reg. Gall.) Although Gibbon treats this question more in detail when he speaks of the Persian monarchy, I have thought fit to place here what contradicts his opinion. - G]
 +
 +The dissolute tyranny of Commodus, the civil wars occasioned by his death, and the new maxims of policy introduced by the house of Severus, had all contributed to increase the dangerous power of the army, and to obliterate the faint image of laws and liberty that was still impressed on the minds of the Romans. ​ The internal change, which undermined the foundations of the empire, we have endeavored to explain with some degree of order and perspicuity. ​ The personal characters of the emperors, their victories, laws, follies, and fortunes, can interest us no farther than as they are connected with the general history of the Decline and Fall of the monarchy. ​ Our constant attention to that great object will not suffer us to overlook a most important edict of Antoninus Caracalla, which communicated to all the free inhabitants of the empire the name and privileges of Roman citizens. ​ His unbounded liberality flowed not, however, from the sentiments of a generous mind; it was the sordid result of avarice, and will naturally be illustrated by some observations on the finances of that state, from the victorious ages of the commonwealth to the reign of Alexander Severus. The siege of Veii in Tuscany, the first considerable enterprise of the Romans, was protracted to the tenth year, much less by the strength of the place than by the unskillfulness of the besiegers. ​ The unaccustomed hardships of so many winter campaigns, at the distance of near twenty miles from home, ^81 required more than common encouragements;​ aud the senate wisely prevented the clamors of the people, by the institution of a regular pay for the soldiers, which was levied by a general tribute, assessed according to an equitable proportion on the property of the citizens. ^82 During more than two hundred years after the conquest of Veii, the victories of the republic added less to the wealth than to the power of Rome.  The states of Italy paid their tribute in military service only, and the vast force, both by sea and land, which was exerted in the Punic wars, was maintained at the expense of the Romans themselves. ​ That high-spirited people (such is often the generous enthusiasm of freedom) cheerfully submitted to the most excessive but voluntary burdens, in the just confidence that they should speedily enjoy the rich harvest of their labors. ​ Their expectations were not disappointed. ​ In the course of a few years, the riches of Syracuse, of Carthage, of Macedonia, and of Asia, were brought in triumph to Rome.  The treasures of Perseus alone amounted to near two millions sterling, and the Roman people, the sovereign of so many nations, was forever delivered from the weight of taxes. ^83 The increasing revenue of the provinces was found sufficient to defray the ordinary establishment of war and government, and the superfluous mass of gold and silver was deposited in the temple of Saturn, and reserved for any unforeseen emergency of the state. ^84
 +
 +[Footnote 81: According to the more accurate Dionysius, the city itself was only a hundred stadia, or twelve miles and a half, from Rome, though some out-posts might be advanced farther on the side of Etruria. ​ Nardini, in a professed treatise, has combated the popular opinion and the authority of two popes, and has removed Veii from Civita Castellana, to a little spot called Isola, in the midway between Rome and the Lake Bracianno.
 +
 +Note: See the interesting account of the site and ruins of Veii in Sir W Gell's topography of Rome and its Vicinity. v. ii. p. 303. - M.] [Footnote 82: See the 4th and 5th books of Livy.  In the Roman census, property, power, and taxation were commensurate with each other.] [Footnote 83: Plin. Hist. Natur. l. xxxiii. c. 3.  Cicero de Offic. ii. 22. Plutarch, P. Aemil. p. 275.]
 +
 +[Footnote 84: See a fine description of this accumulated wealth of ages in Phars. l. iii. v. 155, &c.]
 +
 +History has never, perhaps, suffered a greater or more irreparable injury than in the loss of the curious register ^* bequeathed by Augustus to the senate, in which that experienced prince so accurately balanced the revenues and expenses of the Roman empire. ^85 Deprived of this clear and comprehensive estimate, we are reduced to collect a few imperfect hints from such of the ancients as have accidentally turned aside from the splendid to the more useful parts of history. ​ We are informed that, by the conquests of Pompey, the tributes of Asia were raised from fifty to one hundred and thirty-five millions of drachms; or about four millions and a half sterling. ^86 ^! Under the last and most indolent of the Ptolemies, the revenue of Egypt is said to have amounted to twelve thousand five hundred talents; a sum equivalent to more than two millions and a half of our money, but which was afterwards considerably improved by the more exact economy of the Romans, and the increase of the trade of Aethiopia and India. ^87 Gaul was enriched by rapine, as Egypt was by commerce, and the tributes of those two great provinces have been compared as nearly equal to each other in value. ^88 The ten thousand Euboic or Phoenician talents, about four millions sterling, ^89 which vanquished Carthage was condemned to pay within the term of fifty years, were a slight acknowledgment of the superiority of Rome, ^90 and cannot bear the least proportion with the taxes afterwards raised both on the lands and on the persons of the inhabitants,​ when the fertile coast of Africa was reduced into a province. ^91
 +
 +[Footnote *: See Rationarium imperii. ​ Compare besides Tacitus, Suet. Aug. c. ult.  Dion, p. 832.  Other emperors kept and published similar registers. See a dissertation of Dr. Wolle, de Rationario imperii Rom. Leipsig, 1773. The last book of Appian also contained the statistics of the Roman empire, but it is lost. - W.]
 +
 +[Footnote 85: Tacit. in Annal. i. ll.  It seems to have existed in the time of Appian.]
 +
 +[Footnote 86: Plutarch, in Pompeio, p. 642.]
 +
 +[Footnote !: Wenck contests the accuracy of Gibbon'​s version of Plutarch, and supposes that Pompey only raised the revenue from 50,000,000 to 85,000,000 of drachms; but the text of Plutarch seems clearly to mean that his conquests added 85,000,000 to the ordinary revenue. ​ Wenck adds, "​Plutarch says in another part, that Antony made Asia pay, at one time, 200,000 talents, that is to say, 38,​875,​000l. sterling."​ But Appian explains this by saying that it was the revenue of ten years, which brings the annual revenue, at the time of Antonv, to 3,875 000l. sterling. - M.]
 +
 +[Footnote 87: Strabo, l. xvii. p. 798.]
 +
 +[Footnote 88: Velleius Paterculus, l. ii. c. 39.  He seems to give the preference to the revenue of Gaul.]
 +
 +[Footnote 89: The Euboic, the Phoenician, and the Alexandrian talents were double in weight to the Attic. ​ See Hooper on ancient weights and measures, p. iv. c. 5.  It is very probable that the same talent was carried from Tyre to Carthage.]
 +
 +[Footnote 90: Polyb. l. xv. c. 2.]
 +
 +[Footnote 91: Appian in Punicis, p. 84.]
 +
 +Spain, by a very singular fatality, was the Peru and Mexico of the old world. ​ The discovery of the rich western continent by the Phoenicians,​ and the oppression of the simple natives, who were compelled to labor in their own mines for the benefit of strangers, form an exact type of the more recent history of Spanish America. ^92 The Phoenicians were acquainted only with the sea-coast of Spain; avarice, as well as ambition, carried the arms of Rome and Carthage into the heart of the country, and almost every part of the soil was found pregnant with copper, silver, and gold. ^* Mention is made of a mine near Carthagena which yielded every day twenty-five thousand drachmns of silver, or about three hundred thousand pounds a year. ^93 Twenty thousand pound weight of gold was annually received from the provinces of Asturia, Gallicia, and Lusitania. ^94
 +
 +[Footnote 92: Diodorus Siculus, l. 5.  Oadiz was built by the Phoenicians a little more than a thousand years before Christ. See Vell. Pa ter. i.2.] [Footnote *: Compare Heeren'​s Researches vol. i. part ii. p.] [Footnote 93: Strabo, l. iii. p. 148.]
 +
 +[Footnote 94: Plin. Hist. Natur. l. xxxiii. c. 3.  He mentions likewise a silver mine in Dalmatia, that yielded every day fifty pounds to the state.] We want both leisure and materials to pursue this curious inquiry through the many potent states that were annihilated in the Roman empire. Some notion, however, may be formed of the revenue of the provinces where considerable wealth had been deposited by nature, or collected by man, if we observe the severe attention that was directed to the abodes of solitude and sterility. ​ Augustus once received a petition from the inhabitants of Gyarus, humbly praying that they might be relieved from one third of their excessive impositions. ​ Their whole tax amounted indeed to no more than one hundred and fifty drachms, or about five pounds: but Gyarus was a little island, or rather a rock, of the Aegean Sea, destitute of fresh water and every necessary of life, and inhabited only by a few wretched fishermen. ^95 [Footnote 95: Strabo, l. x. p. 485.  Tacit. Annal. iu. 69, and iv. 30.  See Tournefort (Voyages au Levant, Lettre viii.) a very lively picture of the actual misery of Gyarus.]
 +
 +From the faint glimmerings of such doubtful and scattered lights, we should be inclined to believe, 1st, That (with every fair allowance for the differences of times and circumstances) the general income of the Roman provinces could seldom amount to less than fifteen or twenty millions of our money; ^96 and, 2dly, That so ample a revenue must have been fully adequate to all the expenses of the moderate government instituted by Augustus, whose court was the modest family of a private senator, and whose military establishment was calculated for the defence of the frontiers, without any aspiring views of conquest, or any serious apprehension of a foreign invasion.
 +
 +[Footnote 96: Lipsius de magnitudine Romana (l. ii. c. 3) computes the revenue at one hundred and fifty millions of gold crowns; but his whole book, though learned and ingenious, betrays a very heated imagination. Note: If Justus Lipsius has exaggerated the revenue of the Roman empire Gibbon, on the other hand, has underrated it.  He fixes it at fifteen or twenty millions of our money. ​ But if we take only, on a moderate calculation,​ the taxes in the provinces which he has already cited, they will amount, considering the augmentations made by Augustus, to nearly that sum. There remain also the provinces of Italy, of Rhaetia, of Noricum, Pannonia, and Greece, &c., &​c. ​ Let us pay attention, besides, to the prodigious expenditure of some emperors, (Suet. Vesp. 16;) we shall see that such a revenue could not be sufficient. ​ The authors of the Universal History, part xii., assign forty millions sterling as the sum to about which the public revenue might amount. - G. from W.]
 +
 +Notwithstanding the seeming probability of both these conclusions,​ the latter of them at least is positively disowned by the language and conduct of Augustus. ​ It is not easy to determine whether, on this occasion, he acted as the common father of the Roman world, or as the oppressor of liberty; whether he wished to relieve the provinces, or to impoverish the senate and the equestrian order. ​ But no sooner had he assumed the reins of government, than he frequently intimated the insufficiency of the tributes, and the necessity of throwing an equitable proportion of the public burden upon Rome and Italy. ^! In the prosecution of this unpopular design, he advanced, however, by cautious and well-weighed steps. ​ The introduction of customs was followed by the establishment of an excise, and the scheme of taxation was completed by an artful assessment on the real and personal property of the Roman citizens, who had been exempted from any kind of contribution above a century and a half. [Footnote !: It is not astonishing that Augustus held this language. The senate declared also under Nero, that the state could not exist without the imposts as well augmented as founded by Augustus. ​ Tac. Ann. xiii. 50. After the abolition of the different tributes paid by Italy, an abolition which took place A. U. 646, 694, and 695, the state derived no revenues from that great country, but the twentieth part of the manumissions,​ (vicesima manumissionum,​) and Ciero laments this in many places, particularly in his epistles to ii. 15. - G. from W.]
 +
 +I.  In a great empire like that of Rome, a natural balance of money must have gradually established itself. ​ It has been already observed, that as the wealth of the provinces was attracted to the capital by the strong hand of conquest and power, so a considerable part of it was restored to the industrious provinces by the gentle influence of commerce and arts.  In the reign of Augustus and his successors, duties were imposed on every kind of merchandise,​ which through a thousand channels flowed to the great centre of opulence and luxury; and in whatsoever manner the law was expressed, it was the Roman purchaser, and not the provincial merchant, who paid the tax. ^97 The rate of the customs varied from the eighth to the fortieth part of the value of the commodity; and we have a right to suppose that the variation was directed by the unalterable maxims of policy; that a higher duty was fixed on the articles of luxury than on those of necessity, and that the productions raised or manufactured by the labor of the subjects of the empire were treated with more indulgence than was shown to the pernicious, or at least the unpopular commerce of Arabia and India. ^98 There is still extant a long but imperfect catalogue of eastern commodities,​ which about the time of Alexander Severus were subject to the payment of duties; cinnamon, myrrh, pepper, ginger, and the whole tribe of aromatics a great variety of precious stones, among which the diamond was the most remarkable for its price, and the emerald for its beauty; ^99 Parthian and Babylonian leather, cottons, silks, both raw and manufactured,​ ebony ivory, and eunuchs. ^100 We may observe that the use and value of those effeminate slaves gradually rose with the decline of the empire.
 +
 +[Footnote 97: Tacit. Annal. xiii. 31.
 +
 +Note: The customs (portoria) existed in the times of the ancient kings of Rome.  They were suppressed in Italy, A. U. 694, by the Praetor, Cecilius Matellus Nepos. ​ Augustus only reestablished them.  See note above. - W.] [Footnote 98: See Pliny, (Hist. Natur. l. vi. c. 23, lxii. c. 18.) His observation that the Indian commodities were sold at Rome at a hundred times their original price, may give us some notion of the produce of the customs, since that original price amounted to more than eight hundred thousand pounds.]
 +
 +[Footnote 99: The ancients were unacquainted with the art of cutting diamonds.]
 +
 +[Footnote 100: M. Bouchaud, in his treatise de l'​Impot chez les Romains, has transcribed this catalogue from the Digest, and attempts to illustrate it by a very prolix commentary.
 +
 +Note: In the Pandects, l. 39, t. 14, de Publican. ​ Compare Cicero in Verrem. c. 72 - 74. - W.]
 +
 +II.  The excise, introduced by Augustus after the civil wars, was extremely moderate, but it was general. ​ It seldom exceeded one per cent.; but it comprehended whatever was sold in the markets or by public auction, from the most considerable purchases of lands and houses, to those minute objects which can only derive a value from their infinite multitude and daily consumption. ​ Such a tax, as it affects the body of the people, has ever been the occasion of clamor and discontent. ​ An emperor well acquainted with the wants and resources of the state was obliged to declare, by a public edict, that the support of the army depended in a great measure on the produce of the excise. ^101
 +
 +[Footnote 101: Tacit. Annal. i. 78.  Two years afterwards, the reduction of the poor kingdom of Cappadocia gave Tiberius a pretence for diminishing the excise of one half, but the relief was of very short duration.] III.  When Augustus resolved to establish a permanent military force for the defence of his government against foreign and domestic enemies, he instituted a peculiar treasury for the pay of the soldiers, the rewards of the veterans, and the extra-ordinary expenses of war.  The ample revenue of the excise, though peculiarly appropriated to those uses, was found inadequate. ​ To supply the deficiency, the emperor suggested a new tax of five per cent. on all legacies and inheritances. ​ But the nobles of Rome were more tenacious of property than of freedom. ​ Their indignant murmurs were received by Augustus with his usual temper. ​ He candidly referred the whole business to the senate, and exhorted them to provide for the public service by some other expedient of a less odious nature. ​ They were divided and perplexed. ​ He insinuated to them, that their obstinacy would oblige him to propose a general land tax and capitation. ​ They acquiesced in silence. ^102. The new imposition on legacies and inheritances was, however, mitigated by some restrictions. ​ It did not take place unless the object was of a certain value, most probably of fifty or a hundred pieces of gold; ^103 nor could it be exacted from the nearest of kin on the father'​s side. ^104 When the rights of nature and poverty were thus secured, it seemed reasonable, that a stranger, or a distant relation, who acquired an unexpected accession of fortune, should cheerfully resign a twentieth part of it, for the benefit of the state. ^105
 +
 +[Footnote 102: Dion Cassius, l. lv. p. 794, l. lvi. p. 825. Note: Dion neither mentions this proposition nor the capitation. ​ He only says that the emperor imposed a tax upon landed property, and sent every where men employed to make a survey, without fixing how much, and for how much each was to pay.  The senators then preferred giving the tax on legacies and inheritances. - W.]
 +
 +[Footnote 103: The sum is only fixed by conjecture.]
 +
 +[Footnote 104: As the Roman law subsisted for many ages, the Cognati, or relations on the mother'​s side, were not called to the succession. ​ This harsh institution was gradually undermined by humanity, and finally abolished by Justinian.]
 +
 +[Footnote 105: Plin. Panegyric. c. 37.]
 +
 +Such a tax, plentiful as it must prove in every wealthy community, was most happily suited to the situation of the Romans, who could frame their arbitrary wills, according to the dictates of reason or caprice, without any restraint from the modern fetters of entails and settlements. ​ From various causes, the partiality of paternal affection often lost its influence over the stern patriots of the commonwealth,​ and the dissolute nobles of the empire; and if the father bequeathed to his son the fourth part of his estate, he removed all ground of legal complaint. ^106 But a rich childish old man was a domestic tyrant, and his power increased with his years and infirmities. A servile crowd, in which he frequently reckoned praetors and consuls, courted his smiles, pampered his avarice, applauded his follies, served his passions, and waited with impatience for his death. ​ The arts of attendance and flattery were formed into a most lucrative science; those who professed it acquired a peculiar appellation;​ and the whole city, according to the lively descriptions of satire, was divided between two parties, the hunters and their game. ^107 Yet, while so many unjust and extravagant wills were every day dictated by cunning and subscribed by folly, a few were the result of rational esteem and virtuous gratitude. ​ Cicero, who had so often defended the lives and fortunes of his fellow-citizens,​ was rewarded with legacies to the amount of a hundred and seventy thousand pounds; ^108 nor do the friends of the younger Pliny seem to have been less generous to that amiable orator. ^109 Whatever was the motive of the testator, the treasury claimed, without distinction,​ the twentieth part of his estate: and in the course of two or three generations,​ the whole property of the subject must have gradually passed through the coffers of the state.
 +
 +[Footnote 106: See Heineccius in the Antiquit. ​ Juris Romani, l. ii.] [Footnote 107: Horat. l. ii. Sat. v.  Potron. c. 116, &​c. ​ Plin. l. ii. Epist. 20.]
 +
 +[Footnote 108: Cicero in Philip. ii. c. 16.]
 +
 +[Footnote 109: See his epistles. ​ Every such will gave him an occasion of displaying his reverence to the dead, and his justice to the living. ​ He reconciled both in his behavior to a son who had been disinherited by his mother, (v.l.)]
 +
 +In the first and golden years of the reign of Nero, that prince, from a desire of popularity, and perhaps from a blind impulse of benevolence,​ conceived a wish of abolishing the oppression of the customs and excise. ​ The wisest senators applauded his magnanimity:​ but they diverted him from the execution of a design which would have dissolved the strength and resources of the republic. ^110 Had it indeed been possible to realize this dream of fancy, such princes as Trajan and the Antonines would surely have embraced with ardor the glorious opportunity of conferring so signal an obligation on mankind. Satisfied, however, with alleviating the public burden, they attempted not to remove it.  The mildness and precision of their laws ascertained the rule and measure of taxation, and protected the subject of every rank against arbitrary interpretations,​ antiquated claims, and the insolent vexation of the farmers of the revenue. ^111 For it is somewhat singular, that, in every age, the best and wisest of the Roman governors persevered in this pernicious method of collecting the principal branches at least of the excise and customs. ^112
 +
 +[Footnote 110: Tacit. Annal. xiii. 50.  Esprit des Loix, l. xii. c. 19.] [Footnote 111: See Pliny'​s Panegyric, the Augustan History, and Burman de Vectigal. passim.]
 +
 +[Footnote 112: The tributes (properly so called) were not farmed; since the good princes often remitted many millions of arrears.]
 +
 +The sentiments, and, indeed, the situation, of Caracalla were very different from those of the Antonines. ​ Inattentive,​ or rather averse, to the welfare of his people, he found himself under the necessity of gratifying the insatiate avarice which he had excited in the army.  Of the several impositions introduced by Augustus, the twentieth on inheritances and legacies was the most fruitful, as well as the most comprehensive. ​ As its influence was not confined to Rome or Italy, the produce continually increased with the gradual extension of the Roman City.  The new citizens, though charged, on equal terms, ^113 with the payment of new taxes, which had not affected them as subjects, derived an ample compensation from the rank they obtained, the privileges they acquired, and the fair prospect of honors and fortune that was thrown open to their ambition. ​ But the favor which implied a distinction was lost in the prodigality of Caracalla, and the reluctant provincials were compelled to assume the vain title, and the real obligations,​ of Roman citizens. ^* Nor was the rapacious son of Severus contented with such a measure of taxation as had appeared sufficient to his moderate predecessors. ​ Instead of a twentieth, he exacted a tenth of all legacies and inheritances;​ and during his reign (for the ancient proportion was restored after his death) he crushed alike every part of the empire under the weight of his iron sceptre. ^114
 +
 +[Footnote 113: The situation of the new citizens is minutely described by Pliny, (Panegyric, c. 37, 38, 39).  Trajan published a law very much in their favor.]
 +
 +[Footnote *: Gibbon has adopted the opinion of Spanheim and of Burman, which attributes to Caracalla this edict, which gave the right of the city to all the inhabitants of the provinces. ​ This opinion may be disputed. ​ Several passages of Spartianus, of Aurelius Victor, and of Aristides, attribute this edict to Marc. Aurelius. ​ See a learned essay, entitled Joh. P. Mahneri Comm. de Marc. Aur. Antonino Constitutionis de Civitate Universo Orbi Romano data auctore. ​ Halae, 1772, 8vo.  It appears that Marc. Aurelius made some modifications of this edict, which released the provincials from some of the charges imposed by the right of the city, and deprived them of some of the advantages which it conferred. ​ Caracalla annulled these modifications. - W.] [Footnote 114: Dion, l. lxxvii. p. 1295.]
 +
 +When all the provincials became liable to the peculiar impositions of Roman citizens, they seemed to acquire a legal exemption from the tributes which they had paid in their former condition of subjects. ​ Such were not the maxims of government adopted by Caracalla and his pretended son.  The old as well as the new taxes were, at the same time, levied in the provinces. It was reserved for the virtue of Alexander to relieve them in a great measure from this intolerable grievance, by reducing the tributes to a thirteenth part of the sum exacted at the time of his accession. ^115 It is impossible to conjecture the motive that engaged him to spare so trifling a remnant of the public evil; but the noxious weed, which had not been totally eradicated, again sprang up with the most luxuriant growth, and in the succeeding age darkened the Roman world with its deadly shade. ​ In the course of this history, we shall be too often summoned to explain the land tax, the capitation, and the heavy contributions of corn, wine, oil, and meat, which were exacted from the provinces for the use of the court, the army, and the capital.
 +
 +[Footnote 115: He who paid ten aurei, the usual tribute, was charged with no more than the third part of an aureus, and proportional pieces of gold were coined by Alexander'​s order. Hist. August. p. 127, with the commentary of Salmasius.]
 +
 +As long as Rome and Italy were respected as the centre of government, a national spirit was preserved by the ancient, and insensibly imbibed by the adopted, citizens. ​ The principal commands of the army were filled by men who had received a liberal education, were well instructed in the advantages of laws and letters, and who had risen, by equal steps, through the regular succession of civil and military honors. ^116 To their influence and example we may partly ascribe the modest obedience of the legions during the two first centuries of the Imperial history.
 +
 +[Footnote 116: See the lives of Agricola, Vespasian, Trajan, Severus, and his three competitors;​ and indeed of all the eminent men of those times.] But when the last enclosure of the Roman constitution was trampled down by Caracalla, the separation of professions gradually succeeded to the distinction of ranks. ​ The more polished citizens of the internal provinces were alone qualified to act as lawyers and magistrates. ​ The rougher trade of arms was abandoned to the peasants and barbarians of the frontiers, who knew no country but their camp, no science but that of war no civil laws, and scarcely those of military discipline. ​ With bloody hands, savage manners, and desperate resolutions,​ they sometimes guarded, but much oftener subverted, the throne of the emperors.
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