Dio's Rome, Vol VI.
by Cassius Dio
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Besides these events aid was extended to the orphans, whose hopes of support were small, from the [lacuna] age of childhood to military years. [Footnote: See note 2c, page 58.]

[Sidenote:—23—] Now Julia, the mother of Tarautas, chanced to be in Antioch, and at the first information of her son's death she was so affected that she struck herself violently and undertook to starve herself to death. The presence of this very same man, whom she hated alive, became the object of her longings now that he had ceased to exist; yet not because she desired him to live, but because she was furious at having to return to private life; and this led her to abuse Macrinus also long and bitterly. Subsequently, as no change was made in her royal suite or in the guard of Pretorians attending her, and the new emperor sent her a kind message (not having yet heard what she had said), she took courage, laid aside her longing for death, and, without writing him any response, held some negotiations with the soldiers she had about her, especially [lacuna] and as they were angry with Macrinus [lacuna] as they had a pleasanter remembrance of her son, how she might attain the imperial position, rendering herself the peer of Semiramis and Nitocris, since she came in a way from the same regions as they; [Footnote: Boissevain's conjecture for the succeeding sentences (valuable, of course, only as the guess of an expert) is the following:

But when nobody would cooperate with her and letters came from Macrinus making certain announcements at which, in view of her circumstances, she felt herself depressed in spirits, she renounced her ambitions out of fear that she might be deprived of the title of Augusta and be forced to depart to her native land, and al [lacuna] drea [lacuna] wom [lacuna] ad [lacuna] eake [lacuna] and mos [lacuna] any one behol [lacuna] she decided to do just the reverse and submit lest she be forced eventually to return to Rome and be there compelled by Macrinus to remain at home for the future for appearing to be opposed to his policy. Afterwards, however, she was intending to take measures that would enable her to get away by ship, if possibility still offered, when he ordered her, etc.] as [lacuna] cooeperated [lacuna] and letters [lacuna] of Macrinus [lacuna] some for which [lacuna] judgment [lacuna] fearing that she might be deprived of the title of Augusta and to [lacuna] native country be forced to return [lacuna] to fear [lacuna] go to Rome [lacuna] Macrinus [lacuna] seeming to do the opposite [lacuna] how [lacuna] might depart and he ordered her to depart from Antioch with all speed and go whithersoever she would. [And when she heard what was said in Rome about her son] she no longer cared to live. The cancer in her breast, which, for a very long time had remained stationary in its progress, had been made angry and inflamed by the blow which she struck her chest on hearing of her son's death; this helped to undermine her constitution and she made sure of her demise by voluntary starvation.

[Sidenote:—24—][And so this queen, sprung from a family of common people and raised to a high station, who had lived during her husband's reign in great unhappiness on account of Plautianus, who had beheld her younger son butchered in her own lap and had borne ill-will to her elder son while he lived, finally receiving such tidings of his assassination, withdrew from power while in the full flush of life and thereafter did herself to death. Hence a person reviewing her career could not deem infallibly happy all those who attain great authority; indeed, in no case unless some true and undefiled pleasure in life belongs to them, and unswerving, permanent good fortune.—This, then, was the fate of Julia. Her body was taken to Rome and placed in the tomb of Gaius and Lucius. Later, however, both her bones and those of Geta were transferred by her sister Maesa to the precinct of Antoninus.

[Sidenote:—25—] Nor was Macrinus destined to survive for long,—a fact of which he doubtless had previous indications. A mule bore a mule in Rome and a sow had a little pig with four ears and two tongues and eight feet. A great earthquake occurred, blood flowed from a pipe, and bees formed honeycombs in the Forum Boarium. The hunting-theatre was smitten with thunderbolts on the very day of the Vulcanalia [Footnote: August twenty-third.] and such a blaze ensued that all its upper circumference and the whole circuit of construction and the ground-level were burned and thereupon the rest of it caught fire and fell in ruins. No human aid availed against the conflagration, though every possible stream of water was directed upon the blaze, nor could the downpour from the sky, which came in great amount and violence, accomplish anything. The force of both kinds of water was exhausted by the power of the thunderbolts, and to a certain extent, at least, the building only received additional injury; [Footnote: Reading [Greek: prosesineto](Bekker).] wherefore the gladiatorial spectacle was held in the stadium for many years.

This naturally seemed to foreshow what was to be. There were other fires besides and imperial possessions were burned especially often during his reign,—a thing which in itself has always been regarded as of ill omen; but the fact that it seemed to have overthrown the horse-race of Vulcan had a direct bearing upon the emperor. This accordingly gave rise to a feeling that something out of the ordinary was in process of consummation, and the idea was strengthened by the behavior on that same day of the Tiber, which rose until it invaded the Forum and the roads leading to it with such impetus as to sweep away even human beings. And a woman, as I have heard, grim and gigantic, was seen by some persons and declared that these disasters were insignificant as compared with what was destined to befall them.

[Sidenote:—26—] And so it proved, for the evil did not confine itself to the City alone, but took possession of the whole world under its dominion, with whose inhabitants the theatre was customarily filled. The Romans, defeated, gave up their war against the barbarians and likewise received great detriment from the greed and factional differences of the soldiers. The progress of both these evils I am now to describe.] Macrinus, seeing that Artabanus was exceedingly angry at the way he had been treated and had invaded Mesopotamia with a large force, at first of his own accord sent him the captives and used friendly language, urging him to accept peace and laying the blame for the past upon Tarautas. But the other would not entertain his proposition and furthermore bade him build up the forts and demolished cities, abandon Mesopotamia entirely and offer satisfaction in general, but particularly for the damage to the royal tombs. [For, trusting in the large force that he had gathered and despising Macrinus as an unworthy emperor, he gave reign to his wrath and expected that even without the Roman's consent he could accomplish whatever he wished.] Macrinus had no opportunity to think it over, but, meeting the enemy already on the way to Nisibis, was defeated in a battle begun by the soldiers about water, while encamped opposite each other. And he came very near losing the rampart itself, but some armor-bearers and baggage-carriers happened along and saved it. In their confidence, they had started out ahead and made a rush upon the barbarians; and the unexpectedness of their sally was of advantage to them, making them appear to be armed soldiers and not mere helpers. But the [lacuna] both was not present then and [lacuna] the night [lacuna] the camps [lacuna] and the Romans followed on. The enemy, perceiving the noise that they made in going out, suspected [lacuna] flight, but seeing them at a glance [lacuna] the Romans barbarians [lacuna] forced by their [lacuna] and the flight of Macrinus, they became dejected and were conquered. And as a result [lacuna] from Mesopotamia especially [lacuna] they overran Syria [lacuna] he abandoned.

[Sidenote: A.D. 218 (a.u. 971)] This took place at the season under consideration: but in the autumn and winter, during which Macrinus and Adventus became consuls, they no longer came to blows with each other but kept up an interchange of envoys and heralds until they had reached an agreement.

[Sidenote:—27—] For Macrinus, through native cowardice (being a Moor he was tremendously timorous) and by reason of the soldiers' lack of discipline, did not dare to begin a war. On the contrary] he expended for the sake of peace enormous amounts, in the shape of both gifts and money, to Artabanus himself and to his assistants in the government, so that the entire outlay came to five thousand myriads. [And the emperor was not unwilling to effect a reconciliation, both for the reasons mentioned and because his soldiers were extremely restive,—a condition due to their having been away from home an unusual length of time, as well as to the scarcity of food. No supplies were to be had from stores, since there were no stores ready, nor from the country itself, because part had been devastated and part was controlled by forts. Macrinus, however, did not forward an exact account of all their proceedings to the senate and consequently triumphal sacrifices were voted him and the name of Parthicus was bestowed. But this he would not accept, being apparently ashamed to adopt the appellation of an enemy by whom he had been defeated.

Moreover, the war that had been waged in the regions of the Armenian king subsided. Tiridates received the diadem sent him by Macrinus, and got back his mother (whom Tarautas had confined in prison eleven months), together with the booty captured from Armenia and all the territory that his father possessed in Cappadocia, with hopes of obtaining the annual payment often furnished by the Romans. And the Dacians, after damaging parts of Dacia, held their hands in spite of a desire for further conflict, and got back the hostages that Caracalla, under the name of an alliance, had taken from them. This was the course of these events.

[Sidenote:—28—] But a new war broke upon the heads of the Romans, and no longer a foreign but a civil strife. It was the soldiers who were responsible for the outbreak. They were somewhat irritated by their setbacks, but their behavior was owing still more to the fact that they would no longer endure any hard work if they could help it, but were thoroughly out of training in every respect and wanted to have no emperor that ruled with a firm hand but demanded that they get everything without stint, and chose to perform no task that was fitting for them. They were further angered by the cutting off of their pay and the deprivation of prizes and exemptions (these last among the privileges of the military), which they had gained from Tarautas, even though they personally were not destined to be affected by these measures. Their resolution was definitely strengthened by the delay which they had undergone in practically one and the same spot while wintering in Syria on account of the war. It should be stated that Macrinus seemed to have shown good generalship and to have acted sensibly in debarring the men in arms from no privilege, but preserving to them intact all the rights allowed by his predecessor, whereas he gave notice to such as intended to enlist anew that they would be enrolled only upon the old schedule published by Severus. He hoped that these recruits, entering the army a few at a time, would hold aloof from rebellion, at first through peaceful inclinations and fear and later through the influence of time and custom, and that by having no corrupting effect upon the rest they would quiet them.

[Sidenote:—29—] If this had been done after the members of the army had retired to their individual fortresses and were consequently scattered, it would have been a correct move. Perhaps some of them would not have shown indignation, believing that they would really be put at no disadvantage because temporarily they suffered no loss: and even if they had been vexed, yet, each body being few in number and subservient to the commanders sent by the senate, they could have accomplished no great harm. But, united in Syria, they suspected that they should be liable to innovations if they separated;—for the time being they could well believe they were being pampered on account of the demands of war. And again [lacuna] So the others killed certain soldiers and ravaged portions of Mesopotamia, and these men butchered not a few of their own number and also overthrew their emperor; and, what is still worse, they set up another similar ruler, by whom nothing was done save what was evil and base. [Sidenote:—30—] It seems to me that this occurrence had been foreshadowed more clearly, perhaps, than any previous event. A very distinct eclipse of the sun [had taken place] about that time, [and the comet-star was seen for a considerable period. And another] luminary, whose tail extended from the west to the east, for several nights caused us terrible alarm, so that this verse of Homer's was ever on our lips:

"Rang the vast welkin with clarion calls, and Zeus heard the tumult." [Footnote: From Homer's Iliad, XXI, verse 388.]

It was brought about in the following way:

Maesa, the sister of Julia Augusta, had two daughters, Soaemias and Mammaea, by her husband Julius, an ex-consul. She had also two male grandchildren. One was Avitus, the child of Soaemias and Varius Marcellus, a man of the same race,—he was from Apamea,—who had been occupied in procuratorships, had been enrolled in the senate, and soon after died. The other was Bassianus, the child of Mammaea and Gessius Marcianus, who was himself also a Syrian, from a city called Arca, and had been assigned to various positions as procurator. Now Maesa at home in Emesa her life [lacuna] her sister Julia, with whom she had made her abode during the entire period of the latter's reign, having perished. For Avitus, after governing in Asia, sent by Caracalla from Mesopotamia into Cyprus, was seen to be limited to the position of adviser to some magistrate who suffered from old age and sickness; and again [lacuna] him, when [lacuna] he died, one Eutychianus, that had given satisfaction in games and exercises, and for that reason [lacuna] who [lacuna] [Sidenote:—31—] [lacuna] upon [lacuna] becoming aware of the strong dislike of the soldiers for Macrinus [lacuna] wall [lacuna] and partly persuaded by the Sun, whom they name Elagabalus and worship devotedly, and by some other prophecies, he undertook to overthrow Macrinus and put up Avitus, the grandson of Maesa and a mere child, as emperor in his stead. And he accomplished both projects, although he had himself as yet not fully reached manhood and had as helpers only a few freedmen and soldiers [lacuna] and Emesenian senators [lacuna] pretending that he was a natural son of Tarautas and arraying him in clothing which the latter had worn when a child, Caesar by the [lacunae] introduced into the camp at night, without the knowledge of his mother or his grandmother, and at dawn on the sixteenth of May he persuaded the soldiers, who were eager to get some starting-point for an uprising, to revolt. Julianus, the prefect, learning this (for he happened to be not far distant), caused both a daughter and a son-in-law of Marcianus, together with some others, to be assassinated. Then, after collecting as many of the soldiers remaining as he could in the short time at his disposal, he made an attack upon what was, to all intents and purposes, a most hostile fortress. [Sidenote:—32—] He might have taken it that very day, for the Moors sent to Tarautas according to the terms of alliance fought most valiantly for Macrinus, who was a countryman of theirs, and even broke through some of the gates. But he refused the opportunity, either because he was afraid to rush in or because he expected that he could win the men inside to surrender voluntarily. As no propositions were made to him, and they furthermore built up all the gates during the night, so that they were now in a securer position, he again assaulted the place but effected nothing. For they carried Avitus (whom they were already saluting as "Marcus Aurelius Antoninus") all about upon the ramparts, and exhibited some likeness of Caracalla when a child as bearing some resemblance to their new ruler, declaring that the latter was truly Caracalla's child and his proper successor in the imperial office. "Why do you do this, fellow-soldiers?" they exclaimed. "Why do you thus fight against your benefactor's son?" By this means they corrupted all the soldiers with Julianus, especially as the troops were anxious to have a change, so that the attackers killed their commanders, save Julianus (for he effected his escape), and surrendered themselves to the False Antoninus. For when an attempt to restrain them was made by their centurions and the other subordinates, and they were, as a result, hesitating, Eutychianus sent Festus (thus—according to the cubicularius of Tarautas—was one of the Caesarians named) [Footnote: The text is emended in accordance with a tentative suggestion of Boissevain.] and persuaded them to kill all such officers and offered as a prize to each soldier who should slay his man the victim's property and military rank. The boy also harangued them from the wall with fictitious statements, praising his "father" and [lacuna] Macrinus, as [lacuna]

[Fourteen lines are lacking.]

* * * * *

[Sidenote:—33—] [lacuna] those left to be restored to their original property and status as citizens. But the most effective means by which he attached them to himself was his promise to give each and every one unlimited amounts of money, and to restore the exiles,—an act which would seem to make him out in truth a legitimate son of Tarautas [lacuna]

* * * * *

[Fourteen lines are lacking.]

[Sidenote:—34—] [lacuna] Marcianus [lacuna] Macrinus [lacuna] (for Marcellus was dead) he put this person to death; but, lacking courage to proceed further on his own responsibility without Macrinus, he sent for the latter. Macrinus came quickly to the Alban soldiers at Apamea and appointed his son emperor in spite of the lad's being but ten years old, in order that with this excuse he might mollify the soldiers by various means, chief among which should be the promise of five thousand denarii; he assigned them a thousand each on the spot and restored to the rest complete allowances of food and everything else of which they had been deprived: in this way he hoped to appease them. With this same end in view he bestowed upon the populace a dinner worth one hundred and fifty denarii a head before revealing to them anything about the uprising; for he wanted it to be thought that he was banqueting them not because of that event but to show honor to his son. And on that occasion first one of the revolted soldiers approached him carrying the head of Julianus (who had been found somewhere in hiding and slain), in many linen cloths and tied up very strongly indeed with ropes, pretending it was the head of the False Antoninus. He had sealed the package with the finger ring of Julianus. After doing that the soldier ran out when the head was uncovered. Macrinus, upon discovering what had been done, no longer dared either to stay where he was or to assault the fortification, but returned to Antioch with all speed. So the Alban legion and the rest who were wintering in that region likewise revolted. The opposing parties continued their preparations and both sides sent messengers and letters to the provinces and to the legions. As a result perturbation was caused in many places by the first communication of each side about the other and by the constant messages contradicting each other. In the course of the uncertainty numerous letter-carriers on both sides lost their lives, and numbers of those who had slain the followers of Antoninus, or had not immediately attached themselves to their cause, were censured. Some perished on this account and some merely incurred a small loss. Hence I will pass over most of this (it is all very much alike and permits of no considerable description in detail) and will give a summary of what took place in Egypt.

[Sidenote:—35—] The governor of that country was Basilianus, whom Macrinus had also made prefect in place of Julianus. Some interests were managed also by Marius Secundus, although he had been created senator by Macrinus and was at the head of affairs in Phoenicia. In this way both of them were dependent upon Macrinus and for that reason put to death the runners of the False Antoninus. As long, therefore, as the outcome of the business was still in dispute, they and the soldiers and the individuals were in suspense, some wishing and praying and reporting one thing and others the opposite, as always in factional disturbances. When the news of the defeat of Macrinus arrived, a riot of some magnitude followed, in which many of the populace and not a few of the soldiers were destroyed. Secundus found himself in a dilemma; and Basilianus, fearing that he should lose his life instanter, effected his escape from Egypt. After coming to the vicinity of Brundusium in Italy he was discovered, having been betrayed by a friend in Rome to whom he had sent a secret message asking for food. So he was later taken back to Nicomedea and executed.

[Sidenote:—36—] Macrinus wrote also to the senate about the False Antoninus [as he did also to the governors everywhere], calling him "boy" and saying that he was mad. He wrote also to Maximus, the praefectus urbi, giving him such information as one might expect, and further stating that the soldiers recently enlisted insisted upon receiving all that they were wont to have before, and that the rest, who had been deprived of nothing, made common cause with them in their anger at what was withheld. And to omit a recital, he said, of all the many means devised by Severus and his son for the ruin of rigid discipline, it was impossible for the troops to be given their entire pay in addition to the donatives which they were receiving; for the increase in their pay granted by Tarautas amounted to seven thousand myriads annually, and could not be given, partly because the soldiers and again because [lacuna] righteous [lacuna] but the recognized expenditures [lacuna] and the [lacuna] could he himself and the child as [lacuna] himself [lacuna] and he commiserated himself upon having a son, but said that he found it a solace in his disaster to think that he had outlived the fratricide who attempted to destroy the whole world. He also added to the missive something like the following: "I know that there are many who are more anxious to have emperors killed than to have them live, but this is one thing I can not say in respect to myself, that any one could either desire or pray that I should perish." At which Fulvius Diogenianus exclaimed: "We have all prayed for it!"

[Sidenote:—37—] The speaker was one of the ex-consuls, but not of very sound mind, and consequently he caused himself as much exasperation as he did other people. He also [lacuna] the subscription [lacuna] of letter [lacuna] and to the [lacuna] leather it had been entrusted to read [lacuna] and those [lacuna] and [lacuna] others and also [lacuna] be sent [lacuna] directly as [lacuna] hesitating [lacuna] ordering [lacuna] by the [lacuna] and both to others [lacuna] of foremost to the [lacuna] any care for the common preserver [lacuna] over [lacuna] that the False Antoninus finding in the chests of Macrinus not yet [lacuna] he himself voluntarily [lacuna] published [lacuna] calumny [lacuna] making with reference to the soldiers. And he marched so quickly against him that Macrinus could with difficulty encounter him in a village of the Antiochians one hundred and fifty stades distant from the city. There, so far as the zeal of the Pretorians went, he had him conquered (he had taken from them their breastplates scales and their grooved shields and had thus rendered them lighter for the battle): but he was beaten by his own cowardice, as Heaven had foreshown to him. For on that day when his first letter about the imperial office was read to us a pigeon had lighted upon an image of Severus (whose name he had applied to himself) that stood in the senate-chamber. [And subsequently, when the communication about his son was sent, we had convened, not at the bidding of the consuls or the praetors (for they did not happen to be present) but of the tribunes,—a practice which by this time had fallen more or less into disuse. And he had not written even his name in the preface of the letter, though he termed him Caesar and emperor and indicated that the contents emanated from them both. Also, in the rehearsal of events, he mentioned the name Diadumenianus, but left out that of Antoninus, though he had this title too. Such was the state of these [Sidenote:—38—] affairs; and, by Jupiter, when he sent word about the uprising of the False Antoninus, the consuls uttered certain formulae against him, as is regularly done under such circumstances, and one of the praetors and another of the tribunes did the same. War was declared and solemnly proclaimed against the usurper and his cousin and their mothers and their grandmother, and immunity was granted to those that had taken part in the uprising, in case they should submit, according as Macrinus had promised them. For the conversation he had had with the soldiers was read aloud.] As a result of this, we all condemned still more strongly his abasement and folly. [For one thing] he was most constantly calling himself "father" and Diadumenianus his "son," and he kept holding up to reproach the age of the False Antoninus, though he had designated as emperor his son, who was much younger. [Now in the battle Gannys hurriedly took possession of the narrow place in front of the village and disposed his soldiers in good order for warfare, regardless of the fact that he was most inexperienced in military matters. Of such surpassing importance is good fortune in comparison with other qualifications, that it actually bestows understanding upon the ignorant.] But his army made a very weak fight and the men would not have stood their ground, had not Maesa and Soaemias [for they were already in the boy's retinue] leaped down from their vehicles and, rushing among the fugitives, by their lamentations restrained them from flight, and had not the lad himself been seen by them (by some divine disposition of affairs) with drawn sword on horseback charging the enemy. Even so they would have turned their backs again, had not Macrinus fled at sight of their resistance.

[Sidenote:—39—] The latter, having been thus defeated on the eighth of June, sent his son in charge of Epagathus and some other attendants, to Artabanus, king of the Parthians. He himself went to Antioch, giving out that victory was his, to the end that he might be offered shelter there. Then, when the news of his defeat became noised abroad, in the midst of many consequent slaughters both along the roads and in the city, springing from somebody's favoring the one side or the other, he made his escape. From Antioch he proceeded by night, on horseback, with his head and whole chin shaved, and attired in a dark garment worn over his purple robe in order that he might, so far as possible, resemble an ordinary citizen. In this way, with a few companions, he reached AEgae in Cilicia, and there, by pretending to be one of the soldiers that carried messages, he got a wagon, on which he drove through Cappadocia and Galatia and Bithynia as far as the shipyard of Eribolus, which is opposite the city of Nicomedea. It was his intention to make his way back to Rome, expecting that there he could gain some assistance from the senate and from the people. And, if he had escaped thither, he would certainly have accomplished something. For their disposition was decidedly more favorable to him, in view of the hardihood of the Syrians, the age of the False Antoninus, and the uncontrolledness of Gannys and Comazon, so that even the soldiers would either voluntarily [Footnote: Reading [Greek: 'hechhontast'] instead of [Greek: thnheschontast].] have changed their attitude or, refusing to do so, would have been overpowered. As it turned out, however, if any one recognized him in the course of his journey so far described, at least no one ventured to lay hands on him: but he came to grief on his voyage from Eribolus to Chalcedon. He did not dare to enter Nicomedea [through fear of the governor of Bithynia, Caecilius Aristo], and so he sent to one of the procurators asking for money, and in this way he became known. He was overtaken [while still] in Chalcedon and, on the arrival of those sent by the False Antoninus in order that [lacuna] now if ever [lacuna] he was arrested [by Aurelius Celsus, a centurion,] and taken to Cappadocia [like a man held in no honor]. Ascertaining there that his son had also been captured [(Claudius Pollio, the centurion of the legion, had arrested him while driving through Zeugma, where, in the course of a previous journey, he had been designated Caesar)], he threw himself from the conveyance (for he had not been bound) and at the time suffered a fracture of his shoulder; but subsequently (though not a great deal later) being sentenced to die before entering Antioch, he was slain by Marcianus Taurus, a centurion, and his body remained unburied until the False Antoninus could come from Syria into Bithynia and gloat over it.

[Sidenote:—40—] So Macrinus, when an old man,—for he was fifty-four years of age [lacking three or five days],—and eminent in experience of affairs, displaying some degree of excellence and commanding so many legions, was overthrown by a mere child of whose very name he had previously been ignorant,—even as the oracle had foretold to him; [[lacuna]] for upon his applying [to Zeus Belus] it had answered him:

"Old man, verily warriors young harass and exhaust thee: Utterly spent is thy strength, and a grievious eld comes upon thee!" [Footnote: From Homer's Iliad, VIII, verses 102-103.]

And fleeing [lacuna] or [lacuna], having played part of runaway slave through the provinces which he had ruled, arrested like some robber by common officers, beholding himself with villains most dishonored [lacuna] guarded before whom often many senators had been brought; and his death was ordered who had the authority to punish or to release any Roman whomsoever, and he was arrested and beheaded by centurions, when he had authority to put to death both them and others, inferior and superior. And his son likewise perished.

[Sidenote:—41—] This proves that no one, even of those whose foundations seem unshakable, is sure of his position, but the exceeding prosperous, equally with the rest, are poised in the balance.

And this man would have been lauded beyond all mankind, if he had not himself desired to become emperor, but had chosen some person enrolled in the senate to stand at the head of the Roman empire and had appointed him emperor; and only in this way could he have avoided blame for the plot against Caracalla, for by such action he would have demonstrated that he resorted to it to secure his own safety and not on account of a desire for supremacy. Whereas, instead, he got himself into disrepute and ruined his career, becoming subject to reproach, and finally falling a victim to a disaster that he richly deserved. And having grasped at sole sovereignty before he had even the title of senator, he lost it very quickly and in the most disappointing way. He had ruled only a year and two months, lacking three days (a result obtained by reckoning to the date of the battle).



Dio's Roman History 79:—

About Avitus, called also Pseudantoninus, and the slaughter that he wrought (chapters 1-7).

About his transgression of law and how he married the Vestal (chapters 8-10).

About Eleogabalus [Footnote: It will be noted that the spelling of this word in the Greek "arguments" of the MSS. differs from that in the Greek text of the same.] and how he summoned Urania to Rome and united her in bonds of wedlock with Eleogabalus (chapters 11-12).

About his licentiousness (chapters 13-16).

How he adopted his cousin and also renamed him Alexander (chapters 17, 18).

How he was overthrown and slain (chapters 19-21).


The remainder of the consulship of Macrinus and Adventus, together with four additional years, in which there were the following magistrates, here enumerated. Pseudantoninus (II) and Q. Tineius Sacerdos. (A.D. 219 = a.u. 972 = Second of Eleogabalus, from June 8th.)

Pseudantoninus (III) and M. Valerius Comazon. (A.D. 220 = a.u. 973 = Third of Elagabalus.)

C. Vettius Gratus Sabinianus and M. Flavius Vitellius Seleucus. (A.D. 221 = a.u. 974 = Fourth of Elagabalus.)

Pseudantoninus (IV) and M. Amelius Severus Alexander. (A.D. 222 = a.u. 975 = Fifth of Elagabalus to March 11th.)


[Sidenote: A.D. 218 (a.u. 971)] [Sidenote:—1—] Now Avitus, alias False Antoninus, alias Assyrian or again Sardanapalus and also Tiberinus (he secured the last appellation after he had been slain and his body thrown into the Tiber) [on the very next day after the victory entered Antioch, first promising the soldiers attending him five hundred denarii apiece on condition that they should not sack the town,—a thing which they were very anxious to do. This amount he levied upon the people. And he sent to Rome such a despatch as might have been expected, speaking much evil of Macrinus, especially with reference to his low birth and his plot against Antoninus. Here is a sample of what he said: "He who was not permitted to enter even the senate-house after the proclamation debarring everybody other than senators from doing so, this man, I say, dared treacherously to murder the emperor whom he had been trusted to guard, dared to appropriate his office and to become emperor before he was senator." About himself he made many promises, not only to the soldiers but also to the senate and the people. He asserted that he should do everything without exception to emulate Augustus (to whose youth he likened his own) and also Marcus Antoninus. Yes, and he wrote also the following, alluding to the derogatory remarks made about him by Macrinus: "He undertook to censure my age, when he himself appointed a five-year old son."

[Sidenote:—2—] Besides forwarding this communication to the senate, he sent to the senate the records discovered among the soldiers and the letters of Macrinus written, to Maximus, and sent them likewise to the legions, hoping that these would cause them to hold the preceding emperor's memory in greater detestation, and to feel greater affection for him. In both the despatch to the senate and the letter to the people he subscribed himself as emperor and Caesar, son of Antoninus, grandson of Severus, Pius, Felix, Augustus, proconsul, and holder of the tribunician power, assuming these titles before they were voted,[lacuna] the [lacuna] not the [lacuna] but the [lacuna] of [lacuna] used [Footnote: Illegible MS.—Boissevain conjectures: "And he used not the name of Avitus, but that of his father."] [lacuna] the records of the soldiers [lacuna] for of Macrinus [lacuna] Caesar [lacuna] Pretorians and Alban legionaries who were in Italy [lacuna] and as consul should proclaim [Footnote: "He sent another letter to the Pretorians and to the Alban legionaries who were in Italy, in which he stated incidentally that he was consul and high-priest." (Boissevain's conjecture.)] [lacuna] and the [lacuna] Marius Censorinus [lacuna] superintendence [lacuna] accepted [lacuna] Macrinus [lacuna] himself since not sufficiently by his own voice [lacuna] public [lacuna] read [lacuna] the letters of Sardanapalus [lacuna] registered among the ex-consuls and gave him injunctions that if any one should resist him he should use the band of soldiers. As a consequence, though against its will, it read everything to those [lacuna] [Footnote: "Most of it Marius Censorinus, who was their commandant, read aloud, but the news about Macrinus he suppressed, because he thought that his single voice could not give it sufficient publicity; at the same time, however, he took it upon himself to have the letter of Sardanapalus read to the senate through the medium of Claudius Pollio, who had been enrolled among the ex-consuls; thus, if any opposition should develop, he would be in a position to use the band of soldiers. As a consequence the senate, though against its will, read everything to those enlisted." (Boissevain's conjecture.)]

For, by reason of the necessity thrust upon them, they were not able to do anything that they should or had better have done [lacuna] but were panic-stricken by fear [lacuna] and Macrinus, whom they had often commended, they voted should be regarded as a public enemy and they abused him, together with his son; and Tarautas, whom they had often wished to declare an enemy, they now exalted and of course prayed that his son might be like him.

[Sidenote:—3—] This was in Rome. And Avitus assigned [lacuna] Pollio to govern [lacuna] Germany [lacuna] since the latter had very rapidly reduced Bithynia to subjection. He himself, after sojourning some months in Antioch until he had established his authority there in every direction, went into Bithynia, coadjutor [lacuna] often [lacuna] making Gannys, as had been his custom in the case of Antioch.

Having passed the winter here he proceeded into Italy through Thrace and Moesia and both the Pannonias, and there he abode to the end of his life. One action of his was worthy of a thoroughly good emperor: for, whereas many individuals and communities alike,

including the Romans themselves, both knights and senators,

had privately and publicly, by word and deed, heaped insults upon [both Caracalla and] himself as a result of the letters of Macrinus, he [neither threatened to make reprisals] in the case of a single person, nor did he make reprisals. But on the other hand he drifted into all the most obscene and lawless and bloodthirsty practices. [Some of them never before known in Rome, took root and grew like ancestral institutions. Others, taken up tentatively from one time [Footnote: Reading [Greek: allote] (Bekker, Dindorf) in place of [Greek: alla te].] to another by various individuals] flourished for the three years and nine months and four days during which he ruled (to compute from the battle in which he gained supreme control). [In Syria, he caused the assassination of Nestor and Fabius Agrippinus, the governor of the country, as well as of the foremost knights belonging to the party of Macrinus; but he inflicted a similar fate upon men in Rome who were on most friendly terms with him. In Arabia, he executed Pica Caesianus, [Footnote: P. Numicius Pica Caesianus.] entrusted with the administration, because he had not immediately declared his allegiance; and, in Cyprus, Claudius Attalus, because he had fallen out with Comazon. Attalus had once been governor of Thrace, had been expelled from the senate by Severus in the war with Niger, but was restored to it by Tarautas, and had at this time been assigned to Cyprus, as the lot directed. He had incurred Comazon's ill-will by having formerly reduced him to the position of rower in a trireme as a punishment for some villany which the latter committed while serving in Thrace.]

[Sidenote:—4—] This incident sheds some light on the character of Comazon, who got this name from mimes and buffoonery. [Footnote: This statement is an error on the part of Xiphilinus, who thought that "Comazon" (in Greek=The Reveler) was a nickname for a certain Eutychianus. Investigations, however, show that there was a M. Valerius Comazon prominent at this time and that the word should be taken as a proper and not as a vulgar noun.] He commanded the Pretorians and, though holding no position of management or superintendence whatever, except over the camp, [he obtained the consular honors] and subsequently actually became consul. [Also he became city prefect] not merely once, but twice and thrice, as could be recorded in no other case. Wherefore this, too, must be enumerated among the most illegal proceedings. [It was on his account, then, that Attalus was put to death.

Triccianus came to his end on account of the Alban legion, which he commanded with good discipline during Macrinus's reign, and Castinus [Footnote: C. Iulius Septimius Castinus.] because he was energetic and was known to many soldiers in consequence of the commands he had held and his association with Antoninus. He had accordingly been sent out in advance by Macrinus without reference to other events and was living in Bithynia. The emperor put him to death in spite of having written concerning him to the senate that Triccianus had been banished from Rome, like Julius Asper, by Macrinus, and that he had restored him. He took similar vengeance on Sulla, who had been governing Cappadocia but had relinquished it, because Sulla both meddled in some matters that did not concern him and when summoned to Rome by Elagabalus had managed to meet the Celtic soldiers returning home after their winter in Bithynia, a period during which they had raised some little disturbance. These men perished for the reasons specified and no statements about them were communicated to the senate. Seius Carus, the descendant of Fuscianus, who had been city prefect, was killed because he was rich, great, and sensible, on the pretext that he was forming a league of some of the soldiers belonging to the Alban legion; and, on the basis of some charges preferred by the emperor alone, he was accused in the palace, where he was also slain.] Valerianus Paetus lost his life because he had stamped some likeness of himself upon gold pieces to serve as ornaments for his mistresses. [This led to the accusation that he intended to remove to Cappadocia, a country bordering on his own (he was a Gaul), for the purpose of starting a revolution, and that this was why he made gold pieces bearing his own figure.

[Sidenote:—5—] On these charges] Silius Messala and Pomponius Bassus [also were condemned to death by the senate: they] incurred blame because they were not pleased with what he was doing. He did not hesitate to write this statement about them to the senate, and called them investigators of his habits of life and censors of proceedings in the palace. ["The proofs of their plot I have not sent you," he said, "because it would be useless to read them, in view of the fact that the men are already dead."] There was another cause of dislike underlying [the case against Messala,—the point, namely, that he sturdily made public many facts in the senate. This was what led the emperor at the outset to send for him to come to Syria, pretending to have very great need of him, whereas his real fear was that Messala might bring about a change of attitude on the part of the senators.

The cause in] the case of Bassus was that he had a wife both fair to look upon and of noble rank; she was a descendant of Claudius Severus and of Marcus Antoninus. Indeed, the prince married her, not allowing her even to mourn the catastrophe. Now of his marriages, in which he both married and was bestowed in marriage, an account will be given presently. He appeared both as man and as woman, and performed the functions of both in the most licentious fashion [lacuna] about [lacuna] and [lacuna] by whom [lacuna] own [lacuna] Sergius [lacuna] and [lacuna] out of [lacuna] any [lacuna] making [lacuna] him [lacuna] blame for [lacuna] slaughter the [Sidenote:—6—] [lacuna] and of knights [lacuna] Caesarians [lacuna] [lacuna] were destroyed [lacuna] nothing [lacuna] but by killing in Nicomedea at the very start of his reign Gannys, who had arranged the uprising, who had introduced him into the camp and had likewise caused [the soldiers to revolt, who had presented him with the victory over Macrinus, one who had reared and managed him,—by this act he came to be regarded as the most impious of men. To be sure, Gannys was living rather luxuriously and was fond of accepting bribes, but for all that he brought no injury upon anybody and bestowed many benefits upon many people. Most of all, he always showed a deep respect for the emperor, and he was thoroughly satisfactory to Maesa and Soaemias, suiting the former because she had brought him up and the latter because he practically lived with her. But these were not the reasons why the emperor put him out of the way, seeing that he was willing to give him a marriage contract and appoint him Caesar. It was rather that Gannys compelled him to live temperately and prudently. And his own hand was the first to give his minister a mortal blow, since no one of the soldiers had the hardihood to take the initiative in his murder.—These events, then, took place in this way.

[Sidenote:—7—] [lacuna] Another pair executed were Verus, who had likewise mustered courage to make an attempt upon the sovereignty while in the midst of the third (Gallic) legion, which he was commanding; and Gellius Maximus, on the same sort of charge, though he was lieutenant in Syria proper and at the head of the fourth (Scythian) legion. For to such an extent had everything got upside down, that these men, too, one of whom had been enrolled in the senate from the ranks of the centurions and the other of whom was the son of a physician, took it into their heads to aim at the imperial office. I have mentioned them alone by name, not so much because they were the only ones who appeared entirely insane as because they belonged to the senate; for other attempts were made. A certain centurion's son undertook to throw into disorder the same Gallic legion, and another, a worker in wool, tampered with the Fourth, and a third, a private citizen, with the fleet in harbor at Cyzicus when the False Antoninus was wintering at Nicomedea. And there were many others elsewhere, so that it became a very ordinary thing for those who so wished to hazard the chance of fomenting rebellion and becoming emperor. They were encouraged partly by the fact that many persons had entered upon the supreme office without expecting or deserving it. Let no one be incredulous of my statements, for the facts about the private citizens I ascertained from men who are worthy of confidence, and of what I have written about the fleet I gained an exact knowledge in Pergamum, close at hand, the affairs of which, as also of Smyrna, I managed, having been assigned to duty there by Macrinus. And in view of this attempt none of the others seemed at all incredible to me.

[Sidenote:—8—] This is what he did in the way of murders. His acts which varied from our ancestral precedents, however, were of simple character and inflicted no great harm upon us. Some noteworthy innovations were his applying to himself certain titles connected with his sovereignty before they had been voted, as I have already described, [Footnote: See Chapter 2.] and again his enrolling himself in the consulship in place of Macrinus when he had not been elected to it and did not enter upon any of its duties (the time expiring too soon): yet at first, in three letters, he had referred to the year by the name of Adventus, as if assuming that the latter had been sole consul. Other points were that he undertook to be consul a second time, without having secured any office previously or the privileges of any office, and that while consul in Nicomedea he did not employ the triumphal costume on the Day of Vows. [Footnote: Translated by Sturz "votivorum ludorum die." What festival is meant is uncertain, but it is probably not the Compitalia (III. Non. Ian.). [Sidenote:—11—] With his infractions of law is connected also the matter of Elagabalus. The offence consisted, not in his introducing a foreign god into Rome, or in his exalting him in very strange ways, but in his placing him before even Jupiter and having himself voted his priest, in his circumcising his foreskin and abstaining from swine's flesh [on the ground that his devotion would be purer by this means. He had thought of cutting off his genitals altogether, but that was an idea prompted by salaciousness; the circumcision which he actually accomplished was a part of the priestly requirements of Elagabalus. Hence he mutilated in like manner numerous of his associates.] A further offence was his being frequently seen in public clad in the barbaric dress which the Syrian priests employ, a circumstance which had more to do than anything else with his getting the name of "The Assyrian."

[Sidenote:—12—] A golden statue of False Antoninus was erected, distinguished by its great and varied adornment.

Macrinus, though he found considerable money in the treasury, squandered it all, and incomes did not suffice for expenditures.

[Sidenote: A.D. 219 (a.u. 972)] [Sidenote:—9—] As to his marriage. He espoused Cornelia Paula in order that he might sooner (these are his words) become a father,—he, who could not even be a man. On the occasion of his marriage not only the senate and the equestrian order but also the wives of the senators received some distribution of presents. The people were given a banquet at the per capita rate of one hundred and fifty denarii, and the soldiers had one that cost a hundred more. There were contests of gladiators at which the prince wore a purple-bordered toga, the same as he had done at the ludi votivi. Various beasts were slain, among them an elephant and fifty-one tigers, a greater number than had ever yet been despatched at one time. Afterwards he dismissed Paula on the pretext that she had some blemish on her person and cohabited with Aqulia Severa,—a most flagrant breach of law. She was consecrated to Vesta and yet he most sinfully ravished her and actually dared to say: "I did it in order that godlike children may spring from me, the high-priest, and from her, the high-priestess." He felicitated himself on an act which was destined to lead to his being maltreated in the Forum and thrown into prison and subsequently put to death. However, he did not keep even this woman for long, but married a second, and then a third, and still another; after that he went back to Severa.

[Sidenote:—10—] Portents had been taking place in Rome, one of them on the statue of Isis, which is borne upon a dog above the pediment of her temple: it consisted in her turning her face towards the interior.—Sardanapalus was conducting games and numerous spectacles, in which Helix, the athlete, won renown. How far he surpassed his adversaries is shown by his wishing to contend in both wrestling and pancratium at Olympia, and by his winning victories in both at the Capitolina. The Eleans, being jealous of him, and through fear that he might prove the eighth from Hercules (as the saying is), [Footnote: The history and significance of this proverb are not known.] would not call any wrestler into the stadium, in spite of their having inscribed this contest on the bulletin-board. But in Rome he won each of the two games,—a feat that no one else had accomplished.

[Sidenote:—11—] And here I must omit mention of the barbaric chants which Sardanapalus chanted to Elagabalus, and his mother and grandmother, all three, as also of the secret sacrifices that he offered to him: at these he slaughtered boys, and used charms, besides shutting up in the god's temple a live lion and monkey and snake, throwing in among them human genitals, and practicing other unholy rites, while he wore invariably innumerable amulets. [Sidenote:—12—] But to run briefly over these matters, he actually (most ridiculous of all) courted a wife for Elagabalus, on the assumption that the god wanted marriage and children. Such a wife might be neither poor nor low-born, and so he chose the Carthaginian Urania, summoned her to come thence, and established her in the palace. He gathered wedding gifts for her from all his subjects, as he might have done in the case of his own wives. All these presents that were given during his lifetime were exacted later, but in the way of dowry he declared that nothing should be brought save the gold lions, which were melted down.

[Sidenote:—13—] But this Sardanapalus, who thought it right to make the gods cohabit under the form of marriage, himself lived from first to last most licentiously. [He married many women] and had liaisons with many more [without any lawful title], yet it was not that he cared about them; he simply wanted to imitate their actions when he should lie with his lovers [and get accomplices in his excesses by returning to them indiscriminately]. He used his body for doing and allowing many unheard of things which no one would endure telling or hearing, but his most conspicuous acts, which it would be impossible to conceal, were the following. He would go by night, wearing a wig of long hair, into the taverns and ply the trade of a female huckster. He frequented the notorious brothels, drove out the prostitutes, and prostituted himself. Finally, he set aside a room in the palace and there committed his indecencies, standing all the time naked at the door of it, as the harlots do, and shaking the curtain, which was fastened by gold rings, the while in a soft and melting voice he solicited the passers-by. Certain persons had been given special orders to let themselves be attracted to his abode. For, as in other matters, so in this business, too, he had numerous detectives through whom he sought out the persons who could please him most by their foulness. He would collect money from his Patrons and put on airs over his gains: he would also dispute with his associates in this shameful occupation, saying that he had more lovers than they and took in more money. [Sidenote:—14—] This is the way he behaved to all alike that enjoyed his services. But he had, besides, one chosen man whom he accordingly desired to appoint Caesar.

Also, arrayed in the Green uniform, he drove a chariot privately and at home,—if one can call that place home where contests were conducted by the foremost of his suite [and knights and Caesarians], the very prefects, his grandmother, his mother, his women, and likewise several members of the senate, including Leo, the praefectus urbi, and where they watched him playing charioteer and begging gold coin like any vagabond, and bowing down before the managers of the games and the members of the factions.

[Now in trying anybody in court he really did have the appearance of a man, but everywhere else his actions and the quality of his voice showed the wantonness of youth. For instance, he used to dance not only in the orchestra but more or less also while walking, performing sacrifice, greeting friends or making speeches.

And finally (to go back now to the story which I began) he was bestowed in marriage and was termed wife, mistress, queen. He worked in wool, sometimes wore a hair-net, painted his eyes [daubing them with white lead and alkanet], and once he shaved his chin and celebrated a festival to mark the event. After that he went with smooth face, because it would help him appear like a woman, and he often reclined while greeting the senators. [Sidenote:—15—] "Her" husband was Hierocles, a Carian slave [once the favorite of Gordius], from whom he had learned chariot-driving. It was in this connection, also, that by a most unexpected chance he won the imperial approbation. At a horse-race Heirocles fell out of his chariot just opposite the seat of Sardanapalus, losing his helmet in his fall. Being still beardless and adorned with a crown of yellow hair, he attracted the attention of the prince and was at once carried hastily to the palace; and by his nocturnal feats he captivated Sardanapalus more than ever and rose to still greater power. Consequently his influence became even greater than his patron's and it was thought a small thing that his mother, while still a slave, should be brought to Rome by soldiers and be numbered among the wives of ex-consuls. Certain other persons, too, were not seldom honored by the emperor and became powerful, some because they had joined in his uprising and others because they committed adultery with him. For he was anxious to have the reputation of committing adultery, that in this respect, too, he might imitate the most lascivious women; and he would often get caught voluntarily and in the very act. Then, for his conduct, he would be brutally abused by his husband and would be beaten, so that he had black eyes. His affection for this "husband" was no light inclination, but a serious matter and a firmly fixed passion, so much so that he did not become vexed at any such harsh treatment, but on the contrary loved him the more for it and actually wished to appoint him Caesar;—he threatened his grandmother when she interfered, and chiefly on this man's account he became at odds with the soldiers. It was this that was destined to lead his destruction.

[Sidenote:—16—] As for Aurelius Zoticus, a native of Smyrna, whom they also called "Cook" (from his father's trade), he incurred the sovereign's thorough love and thorough hatred, and consequently his life was saved. This Aurelius had a body that was beautiful all over, as if ready for a gymnastic contest, and he surpassed everybody in the size of his private parts. The fact was reported to the emperor by those who were on the lookout for such features and the man was suddenly snatched away from the games and taken to Rome, accompanied by an immense procession, larger than Abgarus had in the reign of Severus or Tiridates in that of Nero. He was appointed cubicularius before he had been even seen by the emperor, [was honored by the name of his grandfather, Avitus, was adorned with garlands as at a festival,] and entered the palace the center of a great glare of lights. Sardanapalus, on seeing him, rose with modesty; the newcomer addressed him, as was usual, "My Lord Emperor, hail!" whereupon the other, bending his neck so as to assume a ravishing feminine pose, and turning his eyes wide open upon him, answered without hesitation: "Call me Not Lord, for I am a Lady." Then Sardanapalus immediately took a bath with him, and, finding his guest when stripped to correspond to the report of him, burned with even greater lust, reposed upon his breast, and took dinner, like some loved mistress, in his bosom. Hierocles began to fear that Zoticus would bring the emperor into a greater state of subjection than he himself was able to effect, and that he might suffer some terrible fate at his hands, as often happens in the case of rival lovers. Therefore he had the wine-bearers, who were well-disposed to him, administer some drug that abated the visitor's ferocity. And so Zoticus after a whole night of embarrassment, being unable to secure an erection, was deprived of all that he had obtained, and was driven out of the palace, out of Rome, and later out of the remainder of Italy; and this saved his life. [However, the emperor drove himself to such a frenzy of lewdness that he asked the physicians to contrive a woman's vagina in his person by means of an incision, and held out to them the hope of great pay for this achievement.]

[Sidenote:—17—] Sardanapalus himself was destined not much later to receive his well-deserved pay for his own defilement. For his acting in this way and for making himself the object of these actions he became hated by the populace and by the soldiers to whom he was most attached, and at last he was slain by them in the very camp.

The False Antoninus was despised and put out of the way by the soldiers. When any persons, particularly if armed, have accustomed themselves to feel contempt for their rulers, they set no limits on their right to do what they please but keep their arms ready to use even against the very man who gave them whatever rights they possess.

[Sidenote: A.D. 221 (a.u. 974)] This is how it happened. He introduced his cousin Bassianus before the senate, and, having stationed Maesa and Soaemias on either hand, adopted him as his child. Then did he congratulate himself on being suddenly the father of so large a child (as if he surpassed him in age) and declared that he needed no other offspring to keep his house free from despondency.

Elagabalus, he said, had ordered him to do this and further to call his son's name Alexander. And I for my part am persuaded that it came about in very truth by some divine intention, and I base my inference not upon what he said but upon what was said to him by some one, viz., that an Alexander would come from Emesa to succeed him, and again on what took place in upper Moesia and in Thrace. [Sidenote:—18—] A little before this a spirit, declaring that he was the famous Alexander of Macedon, wearing his appearance and all his apparatus, started from the regions near the Ister, appearing there in I know not what way. It traversed Thrace and Asia, reveling in company with four hundred male attendants, who were equipped with thyrsi and fawn-skins and did no harm. The fact was admitted by all those who lived in Thrace at that time that lodgings and all the provisions for It were provided at public expense. And no one dared to oppose It either by word or by deed,—no governor, no soldier, no procurator, no heads of provinces,—but It proceeded, as if in a daylight procession prescribed by proclamation, to the confines of Bithynia. Leaving that point, it approached the Chalcedonian land and there, after performing some sacred rite by night and burying a wooden horse, it vanished. These facts I ascertained while still in Asia, as I stated, and before anything at all had been done about Bassianus in Rome.

One day the same man said this: "I have no need of titles derived, from war and blood. It suffices me to have you call me 'Pious' and 'Fortunate'."

The False Antoninus on receiving praise from the senate one day remarked: "Yes, you love me and, by Jupiter, so does the populace and likewise the foreign legions. But I do not satisfy the Pretorians, to whom I keep giving so much."

[Sidenote: A.D. 222 (a.u. 975)] [Sidenote:—19—] So long as Sardanapalus continued to love his cousin, he was safe. But, since he was suspicious of all men, and learned that their favor was turning solely and absolutely to the boy, he dared to change his mind and worked in every way to effect his overthrow.

Some persons were conversing with the False Antoninus and remarked how fortunate he was to be consul along with his son. He rejoined: "I shall be more fortunate next year, for then I'm going to be consul with my truly-begotten son."

The moment, though, that he tried to destroy him, he not only accomplished nothing but ran the risk of being killed himself. Alexander was sedulously guarded by his mother and his grandmother and the soldiers, and the Pretorians, on becoming aware of the attempt of Sardanapalus, raised a terrible tumult. They would not cease their rebellious attitude until Sardanapalus, with Alexander, visited the camp; and he poured out his supplications and under compulsion gave up such of his companions in lewdness as the soldiers demanded. In behalf of Hierocles he pled piteously and lamented him with tears, foretelling his own death, and adding: "Grant me this one man, whatever you are pleased to suspect about him, or else kill me!" and thus with difficulty he succeeded in appeasing them. On this occasion, then, he was saved, though with difficulty. His grandmother hated him for his practices (which seemed to show that he was not the son of Antoninus) and was coming to favor Alexander, as being really sprung from him.

[Sidenote:—20—] Later he again made a plot against Alexander and, as the Pretorians raised an outcry at this, entered the camp with him. Then, he became aware that he was under guard and awaiting execution, for the mothers of the two, being more openly at variance with each other than before, were stirring up the soldiers to action. He then made an attempt to flee, and intended to escape to some point by being placed in a box, but was discovered and slain, having reached eighteen years of age. His mother, who embraced and clung tightly to him, perished with him; their heads were cut off and their bodies, after being stripped naked, were first dragged all over the city, and then the woman's trunk was cast off in some corner, while his was thrown into the river.

[Sidenote:—21—] With him perished Hierocles, and others, and the prefects; and Aurelius Eubulus, who was an Emesenian by race [and had gone so far in lewdness and defilement that his surrender had earlier been demanded by the populace]. He had been entrusted with the general accounts [Footnote: One of the rationales summarum.] and there was nothing that escaped his confiscations. So now he was torn to pieces by the populace and the soldiers, and Fulvius, the city prefect, with him. Comazon succeeded the latter, as he had succeeded Fulvius's predecessor. Just as a mask used to be carried into the theatres to occupy the stage during the intervals in the acting, when it was left vacant by the comedians, so was Comazon put in the vacant place of the men who had been prefects in his day over the city of Rome.—As for Elagabalus, [Footnote: Elagabalus, the god.] he was banished from Rome altogether.

Such was the story of Tiberinus: and none of those even who helped him arrange the uprising and attained great power in return, save perhaps a single individual, [Footnote: This probably refers to Comazon.] survived.



Why Dio was not able to relate in detail the history of the reign of Alexander (chapter 1).

About Ulpian, Pretorian Prefect, and his death (chapter 2).

Undertakings of Artaxerxes the Persian against the Parthians and Romans (chapters 3, 4).

Dio's second consulship, his return to his own country, and conclusion of the History (chapter 5).


Duration of time eight years, in which the following are enumerated as consuls.

Antoninus Elagabalus (IV), M. Aurelius Severus Alexander Coss. (A.D. 222 = a.u. 975 = First of Alexander, from March 11th.)

L. Marius Maximus (II), L. Roscius AElianus. (A.D. 223 = a.u. 976 = Second of Alexander.)

Iulianus (II), Crispinus. (A.D. 224 = a.u. 977 = Third of Alexander.)

Fuscus (II), Dexter. (A.D. 225 = a.u. 978 = Fourth of Alexander.)

Alexander Aug. (II), C. Marcellus Quintilianus (II). (A.D. 226 = a.u. 979 = Fifth of Alexander.)

Lucius Albinus, Max. AEmilius AEmilianus. (A.D. 227 = a.u. 980 = Sixth of Alexander.)

T. Manilius Modestus, Ser. Calpurnius Probus. (A.D. 228 = a.u. 981 = Seventh of Alexander.)

Alexander Aug. (III), Cassius Dio (II). (A.D. 229 = a.u. 982 = Eighth of Alexander.)

[Sidenote: A.D. 222-229 (a.u. 975-982)] [Sidenote:—1—] Alexander became emperor immediately after him [and at once proclaimed Augusta, his own mother, Mammaea, who had in hand the administration of affairs and gathered wise men about her son, that by their guidance he might be duly trained in morals; and she chose out of the senate the better class of counselors, to whom she communicated everything that had to be done]. He entrusted to one Domitius Ulpianus the command of the Pretorians and the remaining business of the empire.—These matters I have set down in detail, so far as I was able, in each case, but of the rest I have not found it feasible to give a detailed account, for the reason that for a long time I did not sojourn in Rome. After going from Asia to Bithynia I fell sick, and from there I hurried to my duties as head of Africa. On returning to Italy I was almost immediately sent to govern in Dalmatia and from there into Upper Pannonia. After that I came back to Rome and on reaching Campania at once set out for home.

[Sidenote:—2—] For these reasons, then, I have not been able to compile an account of what follows similar to that which precedes. I will narrate briefly, however, all the things that were done up to the time of my second consulship.

Ulpianus corrected many of the irregular practices instituted by Sardanapalus; but, after putting to death Flavianus and Chrestus, that he might succeed them, he was himself before long slain by the Pretorians, who attacked him in the night; and it availed nothing that ran to the palace and took refuge with the emperor himself and the latter's mother.—Even during his lifetime a great dispute had arisen between the populace and the Pretorians, from some small cause, with the result that they fought each other for three days, and many were lost by both sides. The soldiers, on getting the worst of it, directed their efforts to firing the buildings, and so the populace, fearing that the whole city would be destroyed, reluctantly came to terms with them. Besides these occurrences, Epagathus, who was believed to have been chiefly [Footnote: Reading [Greek: to pleon] (Reimar, Bekker, Boissevain).] responsible for the death of Ulpianus, was sent into Egypt, supposedly to govern it, but really to prevent any disturbance taking place in Rome when he met with punishment. From there he was taken to Crete and executed. [Alexander's mother, being a slave to money, gathered funds from all sources. She also brought home for her son a spouse, whom she would not allow to be addressed as Augusta. After a time, however, she separated her from her son and drove her away to Libya, in spite of the woman's possessing his affections. Alexander, however, could not oppose his mother, for she ruled him absolutely.]

[Sidenote:—3—] Many uprisings were made by many persons, some of which caused serious alarm, but they were all checked. But affairs in Mesopotamia were still more terrifying, and provoked in the hearts of all, not merely the men of Rome but the rest of mankind, a fear that had a truer foundation. Artaxerxes, a Persian, having conquered the Parthians in three battles and killed their king, Artabanus, [made a campaign against Hatra, which he endeavored to take as a base for attacking the Romans. He did make a breach in the wall but, as he lost a number of soldiers through an ambuscade, he transferred his position into Media. Of this district, as also of Parthia, he acquired no small portion, partly by force and partly by intimidation, and then] marched against Armenia. Here he suffered a reverse at the hands of the natives, some Medes, and the children of Artabanus, and either fled (as some say) or (as others assert) retired to prepare a larger expedition. [Sidenote:—4—] He accordingly became a source of fear to us; for he was encamped with a large army over against not Mesopotamia only but Syria also and boasted that he would win back everything that the ancient Persians had once held, as far as the Grecian Sea. It was, he said, his rightful inheritance from his forefathers. He was of no particular account himself, but our military affairs are in such a condition that some joined his cause and others refused to defend themselves. The troops are so distinguished by wantonness, and arrogance, and freedom from reproof, that those in Mesopotamia dared to kill their commander, Flavius Heracleo, and the Pretorians found fault with me before Ulpianus because I ruled the soldiers in Pannonia with a strong hand; and they demanded my surrender, through fear that some one might compel them to submit to a regime similar to that of the Pannonian troops.

[Sidenote:—5—] Alexander, however, paid no attention to them, but promoted me in various ways, appointing me to be consul for the second time, as his colleague, and taking upon himself personally the responsibility of meeting the expenditures of my office. As the malcontents evinced displeasure at this, he became afraid that they might kill me if they saw me in the insignia of my office, and he bade me spend the period of my consulship in Italy, somewhere outside of Rome. Later, accordingly, I came both to Rome and to Campania to visit him. After spending a few days in his company, during which the soldiers saw me without offering to do me any harm, I started for home, being released on account of the trouble with my feet. Consequently, I expect to spend all the remainder of my life in my own country, as the Divine Presence revealed to me most clearly at the time I was in Bithynia. Once, in a dream there, I thought I saw myself commanded by it to write at the close of my work the following verses:

"Hector was led of Zeus far out of the range of the missiles, Out of the dust and the slaying of men, out of blood and of uproar."

[Footnote: From Homer's Iliad, XI, verses 163-4.]

* * * * *


* * * * *

(The "Fragments" of Dio.)

[Frag. I]

1. Dio says: "I am anxious to write a history of all (that is worth remembering) done by the Romans both at peace and in war, so as to have nothing essential lacking, either of those matters or of others. (Valesius, p. 569.)

2[lacuna] everything about them, so to speak, that has been written by any persons, and I have put in my history not everything but what I have selected. However, let no one entertain any suspicions (as has happened in the case of some other writers), regarding the truth of it merely because I have used elaborate diction to whatever extent the subject matter permitted; for I have been anxious to be equally perfect in both respects so far as was possible. I will begin at the point where I have obtained the clearest accounts of what is reported to have taken place in this land which we inhabit.

This territory in which the city of Rome has been built" [Lacuna] (Mai, p. 135.)

[Frag. II]

1. Ausonia, as Dio Cocceianus writes, is properly the land of the Aurunci only, lying between the Campanians and Volsci along the sea-coast. Many persons, however, thought that Ausonia extended even as far as Latium, so that all of Italy was called from it Ausonia. (Isaac Tzetzes on Lycophron, 44. and 615, 702.)

2. Where now Chone is there was formerly a district called Oenotria, in which Philoctetes settled after the sack of Troy as Dionysius and Dio Cocceianus and all those who write the story of Rome relate. (Idem, v. 912.)

3. About the Etruscans Dio says: "These facts about them required to be written at this point in the narrative, and elsewhere something else and later some still different fact will be told as occasion demands, in whatever way the course of the history may chance to prepare the point temporarily under discussion. Let this same explanation be sufficient [Footnote: The MS. here has [Greek: ekontes] = "being (plural) sufficient." I have adopted the reading [Greek: eketo], suggested by Melber.] to cover also the remaining matters of importance. For I shall recount to the best of my ability all the exploits of the Romans, but as to the rest only what has a bearing on the Romans will be written." (Mai, p. 136.)

[Frag. III]

1. Dio and Dionysius give the story of Cacus (Tzetzes, History, 5, 21).

2. In this way the country was called Italy. Picus was the first king of it, and after him his son Faunus, when Heracles came there with the rest of the kine of Geryon. And he begat Latinus by the wife of Faunus, who was king of the people there, and from him all were called Latins. In the fifty-fifth year after Heracles this AEneas, subsequent to the capture of Troy, came, as we have remarked, to Italy and the Latins. He landed near Laurentum, called also Troy, near the River Numicius along with his own son by Creusa, Ascanius or Ilus. There his followers ate their tables, which were of parsley or of the harder portions of bread loaves (they had no real tables), and likewise a white sow leaped from his boat and running to the Alban mount, named from her, gave birth to a litter of thirty, by which she indicated that in the thirtieth year his children should get fuller possession of both land and sovereignty. As he had heard of this beforehand from an oracle he ceased his wanderings, sacrificed the sow, and prepared to found a city. Latinus would not put up with him, but being defeated in war gave AEneas his daughter Lavinia in marriage. AEneas then founded a city and called it Lavinium. When Latinus and Thurnus, king of the Rutuli, perished in war each at the other's hands, AEneas became king. After AEneas had been killed in war at Laurentum by the same Rutuli and Mezentius the Etruscan, and Lavinia the wife of AEneas was pregnant (of Silvius [Footnote: Reimar thinks this word a later interpolation.]), Ascanius the child of Creusa was king. He finally conquered Mezentius, who had opposed him in war and had refused to receive his embassies but sought to command all the dependents of Latinus for an annual tribute. When the Latins had grown strong because of the arrival of the thirtieth year, they scorned Lavinium and founded a second city named from the sow Alba Longa, i. e. "long white,"—and likewise called the mountain there Albanus. Only, the images from Troy turned back a second time to Lavinium.

After the death of Ascanius it was not Ascanius's son Iulus who became king, but AEneas's son by Lavinia, Silvius,—or, according to some Ascanius's son Silvius. Silvius again begat another AEneas, and he Latinus, and he Capys. Capys had a child Tiberinus, whose son was Amulius, whose son was Aventinus.

So far regarding Alba and Albanians. The story of Rome follows. Aventinus begat Numitor and Amulius. Numitor while king was driven out by Amulius, who killed Numitor's son AEgestes in a hunting party and made the sister of AEgestes, daughter of the aforesaid Numitor, Silvia or Rhea Ilia, a priestess of Vesta, so that she might remain a virgin. He stood in terror of an oracle which foretold his death at the hands of the children of Numitor. For this reason he had killed AEgestes and made the other a priestess of Vesta, that she might continue a virgin and childless. But she while drawing water in Mars's grove conceived, and bore Romulus and Remus. The daughter of Amulius by supplication rescued her from being put to death, but the babes she gave to Faustulus, a shepherd, husband of Laurentia, to expose in the vicinity of the river Tiber. These the shepherd's wife took and reared up; for it happened that she had about that time brought forth a still-born infant.

When Romulus and Remus were grown they kept flocks in the fields of Amulius, but as they killed some of the shepherds of their grandfather Numitor a watch was set for them. Remus being arrested, Romulus ran and told Faustulus, and he ran to narrate everything to Numitor. Finally Numitor recognized them to be his own daughter's children. They with the assistance of many persons killed Amulius, and after bestowing the kingdom of Alba on their grandfather Numitor themselves made a beginning of founding Rome in the eighteenth year of Romulus's life. Prior to this great Rome, which Romulus founded on the Palatine mount about the dwelling of Faustulus, another Rome in the form of a square had been founded by a Romulus and Remus older than these.

(Is. Tzetzes on Lycophron, 1232. Consequently Dio must have written what is found in Zonaras 7, 3 [vol. II, p. 91, 7-10:]) "Romulus has been described as eighteen years old when he joined in settling Rome. He founded it around the dwelling of Faustulus. The place had been named Palatium."

3. I have related previously at some length the story how AEneas founded Lavinium, though these ignorant persons say Rome. See how they tell the story. AEneas received an oracle to found the city on the spot where his companions should devour their own tables. Now when they came to Italy and were in want of tables they used loaves instead of tables. Finally they ate also the tables—or the loaves. AEneas, consequently, understanding the oracle founded there the Lavinian city, even if the ignorant do say Rome. (Is. Tzetz. on Lycophr. 1250.) (Cp. Frag. III, 4.)

4. Rome is part of the Latin country and the Latins have the same name as Latinus, who is said to be the son of Odysseus and Circe, and the Tiber, once called Albulus, received its change of name from the fact that King Tiberius lost his life in it; this is proclaimed by Dio's history among others. The Tiberius here meant by the history is not the one subsequent to Augustus, but another who came earlier. He, they say, died in battle and was carried away by the stream, and so left his own name to the river. (Eustathius on Dionysius, 350.)

5. Arceisius—Laertes was a son of Arceisius who was so called either from [Greek: arkeo arkeso] [Footnote: These are the first two principal parts of a Greek verb meaning "to be sufficient."] as if he were able merely to be sufficient ([Greek: eparkeo]), whence comes the epithet [Greek: podarkaes] (sufficient with the feet) or else because an arkos or arktos (bear) suckled him, just as some one else was suckled by a horse or goat, and still others by a wolf, among whom were also the Roman chiefs (according to Dio),—Remus, that is to say, and Romulus, whom a wolf (lykaina) suckled, called by the Italians lupa; this name has been aptly used metaphorically as a title for the demi-monde. (Eustathius on the Odyssey, p. 1961, 13-16.)

[Frag. IV]

1. [Lacuna] [lacuna] (for it is not possible that one who is a mortal should either foresee everything, or find a way to turn aside what is destined to occur) children to punish his wrongdoing were born [infinitive] of that maiden. [Footnote: I.e., Rhea Sylvia.] (Mai, p. 136.)

2. Romulus and Remus, by their quarrel together, made it plain that some can bear dangers straight through life altogether more easily than good fortune. (Mai, p. 136.)

3. On Romulus and Remus Dionysius of Halicarnassus makes remarks in his History, and so do Dio and Diodorus. (Scholia of Io. Tzetzes in Exeg. Hom. II. p. 141, 20.)

4. After they had set about the building of the city a dispute arose between the brothers regarding the sovereignty and regarding the city, and they got into a conflict in which Remus was killed. (Zonaras, 7, 3, vol. II, p-90, 7 sqq.) (Cp. Haupt, Hermes XIV.)

5. Whence also the custom arose that he who dared to cross the trench of the camp otherwise than by the usual paths should be put to death. (Zonaras, ib., p. 90, 16-18.)

6. They themselves [Footnote: The Caeninenses, Crustumini, and Antemnates are meant (Bekker).—Compare Livy, I, 10, 11.] learned well and taught others the lesson that those who take vengeance on others are not certainly right merely because the others have previously done wrong, and that those who make demands on stronger men do not necessarily get them, but often lose the rest besides. (Mai, p. 136.)

7. Hersilia and the rest of the women of her kin on discovering them one day drawn up in opposing ranks ran down from the Palatine with their little children (children had already been born), and rushing suddenly into the space between the armies aroused much pity by their words and their actions. Looking now at the one side and now at the other they cried: "Why, fathers, do you do this? Why, husbands, do you do it? When will you stop fighting? When will you stop hating each other? Make peace with your sons-in-law! Make peace with your fathers-in-law! For Pan's sake spare your children, for Quirinus's sake your grandchildren! Pity your daughters, pity your wives! For if you refuse to make peace and some bolt of madness has fallen upon your heads to drive you to frenzy, then kill at once us, the causes of your contention, and slay at once the little children whom you hate, that with no longer any name or bond of kinship between you you may gain the greatest of evils—to slay the grandsires of your children and the fathers of your grandchildren." As they said this they tore open their garments and exposed their breasts and abdomens, while some pressed themselves against the swords and others threw their children against them. Moved by such sounds and sights the men began to weep, so that they desisted from battle and came together for a conference there, just as they were, in the comitium, which received its name from this very event. (Mai, p. 137.)

8. Tribous Trittys; or a third part. Romulus's heavy-armed men, three thousand in number (as Dio tells us in the first book of his History), were divided into three sections called tribous, i. e. trittyes, which the Greeks also termed "tribes." Each trittys was separated into ten Curiae or "thinking bodies"—cura meaning thoughtfulness—and the men who were appointed to each particular curia came together and thought out the business in hand.

Among the Greeks the curiae are called phratriae and phatriae—in other words associations, brotherhoods unions, guilds—from the fact that men of the same phratry phrased or revealed to one another their own intentions without scruple or fear. Hence fathers or kinsmen or teachers are phrators,—those who share in the same phratry. But possibly it was derived from the Roman word frater, which signifies "brother." (—Glossar. Nom. Labbaei.)

9. (And he named the people populus.) Hence in the Law Books the popular assembly has the name popularia. (Zonaras 7, 3 (vol. 11, p. 91, 17 and 18.) Cp. Haupt, Hermes XIV.)

10. She [i. e. Tarpeia] having come down for water was seized and brought to Tatius, and was induced to betray the fathers. (Zonaras, ib., p. 93, 15-17.)

11. It is far better for them [senate-houses?] to be established anew than having existed previously to be named over. (Mai, p. 137.)

12. Romulus assumed a rather harsh attitude toward the senate and behaved toward it rather like a tyrant, and the hostages of the Veientes he returned [Footnote: Mai supplies the missing verb.] on his own responsibility and not by common consent, as was usually done. When he perceived them vexed at this he made a number of unpleasant remarks, and finally said: "I have chosen you, Fathers, not for the purpose of your ruling me, but that I might give directions to you." (Mai, p. 138.)

[What is said of Romulus in John of Antioch, Frag. 32 (Mueller) to have been drawn from the extant books of Dio. Cp. Haupt, Hermes XIV.]

13. Dio I: "Thus by nature, doubtless, mankind will not endure to be ruled by what is similar and ordinary partly through jealousy, partly through contempt of it." [Footnote: This is probably a remark in regard to the quarrels of the Roman elders over the kingdom after the death of Romulus.—Compare Livy. I, 17.] (—Bekker, Anecd. p. 164, 15.)

14. Dio in I: "What time he threw both body and soul into the balance, encountering danger in your behalf." [Footnote: Perhaps a reference to the father of Horatius defending his son, or even to Romulus.] (Ib. p. 165, 27.)

[Frag. V] 1. Romulus had a crown and a sceptre with an eagle on the top and a white cloak reaching to the feet striped with purple embroideries from the shoulders to the feet: the name of the cloak was toga, i. e. "covering," from tegere the corresponding verb (this is the word the Romans use for "cover") and a purple shoe which was called cothurnus, as Cocceius says. (Io. Laur. Lydus, De Magis. Reip. Rom. 1, pp. 20-22.)

Therefore the words of Zonaras II, p. 96, 5, may be attributed to Dio: "(Romulus) also used red sandals."

2. "Shedding ashes from the hearth over the earth, they skillfully traced the prophesies with this wand, as they gazed at the sun and foretold the future. This wand Plutarch terms lituos, but lituoi is what Cocceianus Cassius Dio says." (Io. Tzetzes, Alleg. Iliadis 1, 28.)

3. Numa dwelt on a hill called Quirinal, because he was a Sabine, but he had his official residence in the Sacred Way and used to spend his time near the temple of Vesta and sometimes even remained on the spot. (Valesius, p. 569.)

4. For since he understood well that the majority of mankind hold in contempt what is of like nature and consorts with them through a feeling that it is no better than themselves, but cultivate what is obscure and foreign as being superior, because they believe it divine, he dedicated a certain lot of land to the Muses [lacuna] (Mai, p. 138.)

5. The gods, as guardians of peace and justice, must be pure of murder; and not listen to or look at anything pertaining to divinity in a cursory or neglectful manner, but must exist enjoying leisure from other affairs and fixing their attention on the practice of piety as the most important act.—Zonaras, 7, 5 (vol. II, p. 100).

6. Dio, Book I: "This, then, is what Numa thought" (Bekker, Anecd. p. 158, 23.)

7. Furthermore, also, that they became composed at that time through their own efforts, and took the sacred oath; after which they themselves continued at peace both with one another and with the outside tribes throughout the entire reign of Numa, and they seemed to have lighted upon him by divine guidance no less than in the case of Romulus. Men who know Sabine history best declare that he was born on the same day that Rome was founded. In this way, because of both them the city quickly became strong and well adorned: for the one gave it practice in warfare,—of necessity, since it was but newly founded,—and the other taught it besides the art of peace, so that it was equally distinguished in each of these two particulars. (Valesius, p. 569.)

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