Dio's Rome, Volume V., Books 61-76 (A.D. 54-211)
by Cassius Dio
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[Sidenote:—7—] Pertinax appointed as prefect of the city his father-in-law, Flavius Sulpicianus, a man who in any case deserved the position. Yet he was unwilling to make his wife Augusta or his son Caesar, though we voted him permission. He rejected emphatically each proposition, whether because he had not yet firmly rooted his own power, or because he did not choose to let his unchaste consort sully the name of Augusta. As for his son, who was still a child, he did not care to have him spoiled by the dignity [Footnote: Reading [Greek: ogkho] (Reimar) for the MS. [Greek: horkho].] and the hope implied in the name before he should be educated. Indeed, he would not even bring him up in the palace, but on the very first day of his sovereignty he put aside everything that had belonged to him previously and divided it between his children—he had also a daughter—and gave orders that they should live at their grandfather's house; there he visited them occasionally in the capacity of father and not of emperor.

[Sidenote:—8—] Now, since the soldiers were no longer allowed to plunder nor the Caesarians to indulge their licentiousness, they hated him bitterly. The Caesarians attempted no revolt, because they were unarmed, but the Pretorian soldiers and Laetus formed a plot against him. In the first place they selected Falco the consul for emperor, because he was prominent for both wealth and family, and purposed to bring him to the camp while Pertinax was at the coast investigating the corn supply. The latter, learning of the plan, returned in haste to the City, and coming before the senate said: "You should not be ignorant, Conscript Fathers, that though I found but twenty-five myriad denarii, I have distributed as much to the soldiers as did Marcus and Lucius, to whom were left sixty-seven thousand five hundred myriads. It is the surprising Caesarians who have been responsible for this deficiency of funds." Pertinax told a lie when he said that he had bestowed upon the soldiers an equal amount with Lucius and Marcus; for the one had given them about five thousand and the other about three thousand denarii apiece. The soldiers and the Caesarians, who were present in the senate in great numbers, became mightily indignant and muttered dangerously. But as we were about to condemn Falco [and were already declaring him an enemy] Pertinax rose and cried out: "Heaven forbid that any senator, while I am ruler, be put to death even for a just cause!" [And in this way Falco's life was saved, and thenceforth he lived in the country, preserving a cautious and respectful demeanor.]

[Sidenote:—9—] But Laetus, using Falco as a starting point, destroyed many of the soldiers on the pretence that the emperor ordered it. The rest, when they became aware of it, were afraid that they should perish, too, and raised a tumult. Two hundred bolder than their mates invaded the palace with drawn swords. Pertinax had no warning of their approach until they had got upstairs. Then his wife rushed in and informed him what had happened. On learning this he behaved in a way which one may call noble or senseless or however one pleases. For, whereas he might probably have killed his assailants (since he had the night-guard and the cavalry by to protect him and there were also many other people in the palace at the time), or might at any rate have concealed himself and made his escape to some place or other, and might have closed the doors of the palace and the other intervening doors, he, nevertheless, adopted neither alternative. Instead, hoping to awe them by his presence and thus gain a hearing and persuade them to their duty, he confronted the approaching band, which was already indoors. No one of their fellow soldiers had barred the way, and the porters and other Caesarians so far from making any door fast had opened absolutely all the entrances. The soldiers, seeing him, at first were [Sidenote:—10—] abashed, save one, and rested their eyes on the floor and began thrusting their swords back into their scabbards. But the one exception leaped forward, exclaiming: "This sword the soldiers have sent you," and forthwith made a dash at him, striking him a blow. Then his comrades did not restrain themselves and felled their emperor together with Eclectus. The latter alone had not deserted him and defended him as far as he was able, even to the extent of wounding several. Wherefore I, who still earlier believed that he had shown himself a man of worth, now thoroughly admired him. The soldiers cut off the head of Pertinax and stuck it on a spear, glorying in the deed. Thus did Pertinax, who undertook to restore everything in a brief interval, meet his end. He did not comprehend, though a well trained man of affairs, that it is impossible with safety to reform everything at once, but that the constitution of a government requires, if anything does, both time and wisdom. He had lived sixty-seven years lacking four months and three days. He had reigned eighty-seven days.

[Sidenote:—11—] When the fate of Pertinax was reported, some ran to their homes and some to those of the soldiers, and paid heed to their own safety. It happened that Sulpicianus had been despatched by Pertinax to the camp to set in order matters there, and he consequently stayed there and took action looking to the appointment of an emperor. But there was a certain Didius Julianus [of senatorial rank but eccentric character], an insatiate money-getter and reckless spender, always anxious for a change in the government, who on account of the last named proclivity had been driven out by Commodus to his own city, Mediolanum. He, accordingly, on hearing of the death of Pertinax, hastily made his way to the camp, and standing near the gates of the fort made offers to the soldiers in regard to the Roman throne. Then ensued a most disgraceful affair and one unworthy of Rome. For just as is done in some market and auction-room, both the city and her whole empire were bid off. The sellers were the people who had killed their emperor, and the would-be buyers were Sulpicianus and Julianus, who vied to outbid each other, one from within, the other from without. By their increases they speedily reached the sum of five thousand denarii per man. Some of the guard kept reporting and saying to Julianus: "Sulpicianus is willing to give so much; now what will you add?" And again to Sulpicianus: "Julianus offers so much; how much more do you make it?" Sulpicianus would have won the day, since he was inside and was prefect of the city and was the first to say five thousand, had not Julianus raised his bid, and no longer by small degrees but by twelve hundred and fifty denarii at once, which he offered with a great shout, indicating the amount likewise on his fingers. Captivated by the difference and at the same time through fear that Sulpicianus might avenge Pertinax (an idea that Julianus put into their heads) they received the highest bidder inside and designated him emperor.

[Sidenote:—12—] So toward evening the new ruler turned his steps with speed toward the Forum and senate-house. He was escorted by a vast number of Pretorians with numerous standards as if prepared for action, his object being to scare both us and the populace and thereby secure our allegiance. The soldiers called him "Commodus," and exalted him in various other ways. As the news was brought to us each individually, and we ascertained the truth, we were possessed with fear of Julianus and the soldiers, especially all of us who had [Lacuna] any favors for Pertinax. [Footnote: A slight gap in the MS., where we should perhaps read: "all of us who had done any favors for Pertinax or anything to displease Julianus" (Boissevain).] [Lacuna] I was one of them, for I had been honored by Pertinax in various ways, owing to him my appointment as praetor, and when acting as advocate for others at trials I had frequently proved Julianus in the wrong on many points. Nevertheless, we put in an appearance, and partly for this very reason, since it did not seem to us to be safe to hide at home, for fear that act in itself might arouse suspicion. So when bath [Footnote: Reading [Greek: leloumenoi] (Reiske) for the MS. [Greek: dedoulomenoi].] and dinner were both over, we pushed our way through the soldiers, entered the senate-house, and heard the potentate deliver a characteristic speech, in the course of which he said: "I see that you need a ruler, and I myself am better fitted than any one else to direct you. And I should mention all the advantages I can offer, if you did not know them perfectly and had not already had experience with me. Consequently, I felt no need of being attended by many soldiers, but have come to you alone, that you may ratify what has been given me by them." "I am here alone" is what he said, when he had surrounded the entire exterior of the senate-house with heavily armed men and had a number of soldiers in the senate-house itself. Moreover, he mentioned our being aware what kind of person he was, and made us both hate and fear him.

[Sidenote:—13—] In this way he got his imperial power confirmed also by decrees of the senate and returned to the palace. Finding the dinner that had been prepared for Pertinax he made great fun of it, and sending out to every place from which by any means whatever something expensive could be procured at that time of day he satisfied his hunger (the corpse was still lying in the building) and then proceeded to amuse himself by dicing. Among his companions was Pylades the dancer. The next day we went up to visit him, feigning in looks and behavior much that we did not feel, so as not to let our grief be detected. The populace, however, openly frowned upon the affair, spoke its mind as much at it pleased, and was ready to do what it could. Finally, when he came to the senate-house and was about to sacrifice to Janus before the entrance, all bawled out as if by preconcerted arrangement, terming him empire-plunderer and parricide. He affected not to be angry and promised them some money, whereupon they grew indignant at the implication that they could be bribed and all cried out together: "We don't want it, we won't take it!" The surrounding buildings echoed back the shout in a way to make one shudder. When Julianus had heard their response, he could endure it no longer, but ordered that those who stood nearest should be slain. That excited the populace a great deal more, and it did not cease expressing its longing for Pertinax or its abuse of Julianus, its invocations of the gods or its curses upon the soldiers. Though many were wounded and killed in many parts of the city, they continued to resist and finally seized weapons and made a rush into the hippodrome. There they spent the night and the ensuing day without food or drink, calling upon the remainder of the soldiery (especially Pescennius Niger and his followers in Syria) with prayers for assistance. Later, feeling the effects of their outcries and fasting and loss of sleep, they separated and kept quiet, awaiting the hoped for deliverance from abroad.

"I do not assist the populace: for it has not called upon me."

[Sidenote:—14—] Julianus after seizing the power in this way managed affairs in a servile fashion, paying court to the senate as well as to men of any influence. Sometimes he made offers, again he bestowed gifts, and he laughed and sported with anybody and everybody. He was constantly going to the theatre and kept getting up banquets: in fine, he left nothing undone to win our favor. However, he was not trusted; his servility was so abject that it made him an object of suspicion. Everything out of the common, even if it seems to be a kindness to somebody, is regarded by men of sense as a trap.

The senate had at one time voted him a golden statue and he refused to accept it, saying: "Give me a bronze one so that it may last; for I perceive that the gold and silver statues of the emperors that ruled before me have been torn down, whereas the bronze ones remain." In this he was not right: since 'tis excellence that safeguards the memory of potentates. And the bronze statue that was bestowed upon him was torn down after he was overthrown.

This was what went on in Rome. Now I shall speak about what happened outside and the various revolutions. There were three men at this time who were commanding each three legions of citizens and many foreigners besides, and they all asserted their claims,—Severus, Niger, and Albinus. The last-named governed Britain, Severus Pannonia, and Niger Syria. These were the three persons darkly indicated by the three stars that suddenly came to view surrounding the sun, when Julianus in our presence was offering the Sacrifices of Entrance in front of the senate-house. These heavenly bodies were so very brilliant that the soldiers kept continually looking at them and pointing them out to one another, declaring moreover that some dreadful fate would befall the usurper. As for us, however much we hoped and prayed that it might so prove, yet the fear of the moment would not permit us to gaze at them, save by occasional glances. Such are the facts that I know about the matter.

[Sidenote:—15—] Of the three leaders that I have mentioned Severus [was] the shrewdest [in being able to foresee the future with accuracy, to manage present affairs successfully, to ascertain everything concealed as well as if it had been laid bare and to work out every complicated situation with the greatest ease.] He understood in advance that after deposing Julianus the three would fall to blows with one another and offer combat for the possession of the empire, and therefore determined to win over the rival who was nearest him. So he sent a letter by one of his trusted managers to Albinus, creating him Caesar. Of Niger, who was proud of having been invoked by the people, he had no hopes. Albinus on the supposition that he was going to share the empire with Severus remained where he was: Severus made all strategic points in Europe, save Byzantium, his own and hastened toward Rome. He did not venture outside a protecting circle of weapons, having selected his six hundred most valiant men in whose midst he passed his time day and night; these did not once put off their breastplates until they reached Rome.

[This Fulvius [Footnote: The name, so far as can be discerned in the MS., may be Fulvius or Flavius or Fabius. The position and import of the fragment are alike doubtful.] (?) too, who when governor of Africa had been tried and condemned by Pertinax for rascality, avarice, and licentiousness, was later elevated to the highest position by the same man, now become emperor, as a favor to Severus.]

[Sidenote:—16—] Julianus on learning the condition of affairs had the senate make Severus an enemy and proceeded to prepare against him. [In the suburbs he constructed a rampart, wherein he set gates, that he might take up a position there outside and fight from that base.] The City during these days became nothing more nor less than a camp, pitched, as it were, in hostile territory. There was great turmoil from the various bodies of those bivouacked and exercising,—men, horses, elephants. The mass of the population stood in great fear of the armed men [because the latter hated them.] Occasionally laughter would overcome us. The Pretorians did nothing that was expected of their name and reputation, for they had learned to live delicately. The men summoned from the fleet that lay at anchor in Misenum did not even know how to exercise. The elephants found the towers oppressive and so would not even carry their drivers any longer [but threw them off also]. What caused us most amusement was his strengthening the palace with latticed gates and strong doors. For, as it seemed likely that the soldiers would never have slain Pertinax so easily if the building had been securely fastened, Julianus harbored the belief that in case of defeat he would be able to shut himself up there and survive.

Moreover, he put to death both Laetus and Marcia, so that all the conspirators against Commodus had now perished. Later Severus gave Narcissus also to the beasts, making the proclamation (verbatim): "This is the man that strangled Commodus." The emperor likewise killed many boys for purposes of enchantments, thinking that he could avert some future calamities, if he should ascertain them in advance. And he kept sending man after man to find Severus and assassinate him. [Vespronius Candidus, a man of very distinguished rank but still more remarkable for his sullenness and boorishness, came near meeting his end at the hands of the soldiers.]

[Sidenote:—17—] The avenger had now reached Italy and without striking a blow took possession of Ravenna. The men whom his opponent kept sending to him to either persuade him to turn back or else block his approaches were won over. The Pretorians, in whom Julianus reposed most confidence, were becoming worn out by constant toil and were getting terribly alarmed at the report of Severus's proximity. At this juncture Julianus called us together and bade us vote for Severus to be his colleague in office.

The soldiers were led to believe by communications from Severus that, if they would surrender the assassins of Pertinax and themselves offer no hostile demonstration, they should receive no harm; therefore they arrested the men who had killed Pertinax and announced this very fact to Silius Messala, the consul. The latter assembled us in the Athenaeum, [Footnote: Located on the Capitol, and established by Hadrian.] so called from the fact that it was a seat of educational activity, and informed us of the news from the soldiers. We then sentenced Julianus to death, named Severus emperor, and bestowed heroic honors upon Pertinax. So it was that Julianus came to be slain as he was reclining in the palace itself; he had only time to say: "Why, what harm have I done? Whom have I killed?" He had lived sixty years, four months, and the same number of days, out of which he had reigned sixty-six days.

Dio, 74th Book: "Men of intelligence should neither begin a war nor seek to evade it when it is thrust upon them. They should rather grant pardon to him who voluntarily conducts himself properly, in spite Of any previous transgression, [Lacuna]


Severus takes vengeance on the Pretorians who were the assassins of Pertinax and enters the city (chapters 1, 2).

Prodigies which portended the sovereignty to Severus (chapter 3).

Funeral procession which he superintended, in honor of Pertinax (chapters 4, 5).

War of Severus Augustus against Pescennius Niger (chapters 6-9).

The storming of Byzantium (chapters 10-14).


Q. Sosius Falco, C. Erucius Clarus. (A.D. 193 = a.u. 946 = First of Severus, from the Calends of June).

I. Septimius Severus Aug. (II), D. Clodius Septimius Albinus Caes. (A.D. 194 = a.u. 947 = Second of Severus).

Scapula Tertullus, Tineius Clemens. (A.D. 195 = a.u. 948 = Third of Severus).

C. Domitius Dexter (II), L. Valerius Messala Priscus. (A.D. 196 = a.u. 949 = Fourth of Severus).

[Sidenote: 1 ] Severus upon becoming emperor in the manner described punished with death the Pretorians who had contrived the fate of Pertinax. Before reaching Rome he summoned those remaining [Pretorians], surrounded them in a plain while they still did not know what was going to happen to them, and having reproached them long and bitterly for their transgression against their emperor he relieved them of their arms, took away their horses, and expelled them from Rome. The majority reluctantly proceeded to throw away their arms and let their horses go, and scattered uninjured, in their tunics. One man, as his horse refused to leave him, but kept following him and neighing, slew both the beast and himself. To the spectators it seemed that the horse also was glad to die.

When he had attended to this matter Severus entered Rome; he went as far as the gates on horseback and in cavalry costume, but from that point on changed to citizen's garb and walked. The entire army, both, infantry and cavalry, in full armor accompanied him. The spectacle proved the most brilliant of all that I have witnessed, for the whole city had been decked with wreaths of blossoms and laurel and besides being adorned with richly colored stuffs blazed with lights and burning incense. The population, clad in white and jubilant, gave utterance to many hopeful expressions. The soldiers were present, conspicuous by their arms, as if participating [Footnote: Reading [Greek: pompeyontes] (Dindorf, after Bekker).] in some festival procession, and we, too, were walking about in our best attire. The crowd chafed in their eagerness to see him and to hear him say something, as if his voice had been somehow changed by his good fortune, and some of them held one another up aloft to get a look at him from a higher position.

[Sidenote:—2—] Having entered in this style he began to make us rash promises, such as the good emperors of old had given, to the effect that he would not put any senator to death. He not only took oath concerning this matter, but what was of greater import he also ordered it ratified by public decree, and passed an ordinance that both the emperor and the person who helped him in any such deed should be considered an enemy,—themselves and also their children. Yet he was himself the first to break the law and instead of keeping it caused the death of many persons. Even Julius Solon himself, who framed this decree according to imperial mandate, was a little later murdered. The emperor did many things that were not to our liking. [He was blamed for making the city turbulent by the multitude of soldiers and he oppressed the commonwealth by excessive expenditure of funds: he was blamed most of all for placing his hope of safety in the strength of his army and not in the good-will of his companions.] But some found fault with him especially because, whereas it had been the custom for the body-guard to be drawn from Italy, Spain, Macedonia and Noricum only,—a plan which furnished men more distinguished in appearance and of simpler habits,—he had abolished this method, [He ruled that any vacancies should be filled from all the legions alike; this he did with the idea that he should find them as a result more conversant with military practices and should be setting up warfare as a kind of prize for the excellent. As a matter of fact he incidentally ruined all the most reliable men of military age in Italy, who turned their attention to robbery and gladiatorial fighting in place of the service that had previously claimed it.] and filled the city with a throng of motley soldiers, most savage in appearance, most terrifying in their talk, and most uncultured to associate with.

[Sidenote:—3—] The signs which led him to expect the sovereignty were these. When he had been registered in the senate-house, it seemed to him in a vision that a she-wolf suckled him, as was the case with Romulus. On the occasion of his marrying Julia, Faustina, the wife of Marcus, prepared their bedchamber in the temple of Venus opposite the palace; and once, when he was asleep, water gushed from his hand as from a spring; and when he was governor of Lugdunum, the whole Roman domain approached and greeted him,—all this in dreams, I mean. At another time he was taken by some one to a point affording a wide view; and as he gazed from it over all the earth and all the sea he laid his fingers on them as one might on some instrument [Footnote: Compare Plato, Republic, 399 C.] capable of all harmonies, and they answered to his touch. Again, he thought that in the Roman Forum a horse threw Pertinax, who was already mounted, but readily took him on its back. These things he had already learned from dreams, but in his waking hours he had, while a youth, ignorantly seated himself upon the imperial chair. This accident, taken with the rest, indicated rulership to him in advance.

[Sidenote:—4—] Upon attaining that condition he erected a heroum to Pertinax and commanded that his name should be repeated in the course of all prayers and of all oaths. A gold image of him was ordered brought into the hippodrome on a car drawn by elephants and three gilded thrones for him conveyed into the remaining theatres. His funeral, in spite of the time elapsed since his death, took place as follows:

In the Forum Romanum a wooden platform was constructed hard by the stone one, upon which was set a building without walls but encompassed by columns, with elaborate ivory and gold decoration. In it a couch of similar material was placed, surrounded by heads of land and sea creatures, and adorned with purple coverlets interwoven with gold. Upon it had been laid a kind of wax image of Pertinax, arrayed in triumphal attire. A well-formed boy was scaring the flies away from it with peacock feathers, as though it were really a person sleeping. While it was lying there in state, Severus, we senators, and our wives approached, clad in mourning garb. [Footnote: Reading [Greek: penthikos] (Sylburgius, Boissevain et al)..] The ladies sat in the porticos, and we under the open sky. After this there came forward, first, statues of all the famous ancient Romans, then choruses of boys and men, intoning a kind of mournful hymn to Pertinax. Next were all the subject nations, represented by bronze images, attired in native garb. And the guilds in the City itself,—those of the lictors and the scribes and the heralds, and all others of the sort,—followed on. Then came images of other men who were famous for some deed or invention or brilliant trait. Behind them were the cavalry and infantry in armor, the race-horses, and all the funeral offerings that the emperor and we and our wives, together with distinguished knights and peoples and the collegia of the city, had sent. They were accompanied by an altar, entirely gilded, the beauty of which was enhanced by ivory and Indic jewels. [Sidenote:—5—] When these had gone by, Severus mounted the Platform of the Beaks and read a eulogy of Pertinax. We shouted our approval many times in the midst of his discourse, partly praising and partly bewailing Pertinax, but our cries were loudest when he had ceased. Finally, as the couch was about to be moved, we all together uttered our lamentations and all shed tears. Those who carried the bier from the platform were the high priests and the officials who were completing their term of office, as well as any that had been appointed for the ensuing year. These gave it to certain knights to carry. The rank and file of us went ahead of the bier, some beating our breasts and others playing on the flute some dirge-like air; the emperor followed behind all, and in this order we arrived at the Campus Martius. Here there had been built a pyre, tower-shaped and triple pointed, adorned with ivory and gold together with certain statues. On its very summit was lodged a gilded chariot that Pertinax had been wont to drive. Into this the funeral offerings were cast and the bier was placed in it, and next Severus and the relatives of Pertinax kissed the image. Our monarch ascended a tribunal, while we the senate, except officials, took our places on the benches, that with safety and convenience alike we might view what went on. The magistrates and the equestrian order, arrayed in a manner becoming their station, besides the cavalry of the army and the infantry, passed in and out performing intricate evolutions, both traditional and newly invented. Then at length the consuls applied fire to the mound, which being done an eagle flew up from it. In this way was immortality secured for Pertinax [who (although bodies of men engaged in warfare usually turn out savage and those given to peace cowardly) excelled equally in both departments, being an enemy to dread, yet shrewd in the arts of peace. His boldness, wherein bravery appears, he displayed towards foreigners and rebels, but his clemency, wherewith is mingled justice, towards friends and the orderly elements of society. When advanced to preside over the destinies of the world, he was never ensnared by the increase of greatness so as to show himself in some things more subservient and in others more haughty than was fitting. He underwent no change from the beginning to the very end, but was august without sullenness, gentle without humiliating lowliness, prudent, yet did no injury, just without inquisitorial qualities, a close administrator without stinginess, highminded, but devoid of boasts.]

[Sidenote:—6—] Now Severus made a campaign against Niger. The latter was an Italian, one of the knights, remarkable for nothing either very good or very bad, so that one could either greatly praise or greatly censure him. [Wherefore he had been assigned to Syria by Commodus.] He had as a lieutenant, together with others, Aemilianus, who [by remaining neutral and watching the course of events] was thought to surpass all the senators of that day in understanding and in experience of affairs; for he had been tested in many provinces. [These conditions and the fact that he was a relative of Albinus had made him conceited.]

[Sidenote:—7—] [Niger was not in general a well-balanced man and though he had very great abilities still fell into error. But at this time he was more than usually elated, so that he showed how much he liked those who called him "the new Alexander"; and when one man asked, "Who gave you permission to do this?" he pointed to his sword and rejoined, "This did." When the war broke out Niger had gone to Byzantium and from that point conducted a campaign against Perinthus. He was disturbed, however, by unfavorable omens that came to his notice. An eagle perched upon a military shrine and remained there till captured, in spite of attempts to scare it away. Bees made wax around the military standards and about his images most of all. For these reasons he retired to Byzantium.]

[Sidenote: A.D. 194 (a.u. 947)] Now Aemilianus while engaged in conflict with some of the generals of Severus near Cyzicus was defeated by them and slain. After this, between the narrows of Nicaea and Cius, they had a great war of various forms. Some battled in close formation on the plains; others occupied the hill-crests and hurled stones and javelins at their opponents from the higher ground; still others got into boats and discharged their bows at the enemy from the lake. At first the adherents of Severus, under the direction of Candidus, were victorious; for they found their advantage in the higher ground from which they fought. But the moment Niger himself appeared a pursuit in turn was instituted by Niger's men and victory was on their side. Then Candidus caught hold of the standard bearers and turned them to face the enemy, upbraiding the soldiers for their flight; at this his followers were ashamed, turned back, and once more conquered those opposed to them. Indeed, they would have destroyed them utterly, had not the city been near and the night a dark one.

The next event was a tremendous battle at Issus, near the so-called Gates. In this contest Valerianus and Anullinus [Footnote: P. Cornelius Anullinus.] commanded the army of Severus, whereas Niger was with his own ranks and marshaled them for war. This pass, the Cilician "Gates", [Footnote: Compare Xenophon's Anabasis, I, 4, 4-5.] is so named on account of its narrowness. On the one side rise precipitous mountains, and on the other sheer cliffs descend to the sea. So Niger had here made a camp on a strong hill, and he put in front heavy-armed soldiers, next the javelin slingers and stone throwers, and behind all the archers. His purpose was that the foremost might thrust back such as assailed them in hand-to-hand conflict, while the others from a distance might be able to bring their force into play over the heads of the others. The detachment on the left and that on the right were defended by the sea-crags and by the forest, which had no issue. This is the way in which he arranged his army, and he stationed the beasts of burden close to it, in order that none of them should be able to flee in case they should wish it. Anullinus after making all this out placed in advance the heavier part of his force and behind it his entire light-armed contingent, to the end that the latter, though discharging their weapons from a distance might still retard the progress of the enemy, while the solidity of the advance guard rendered the upward passage safe for them. The cavalry he sent with Valerianus, bidding him, so far as he could, go around the forest and unexpectedly fall upon the troops of Niger from the rear. When they came to close quarters, the soldiers of Sevents placed some of their shields in front of them and held some above their heads, making a testudo, and in this formation they approached the enemy. So the battle was a drawn one for a long while, but eventually Niger's men got decidedly the advantage both by their numbers and by the topography of the country. They would have been entirely victorious, had not clouds gathered out of a clear sky and a wind arisen from a perfect calm, while there were crashes of thunder and sharp flashes of lightning and a violent rain beat in their faces. This did not trouble Severus's troops because it was behind them, but threw Niger's men into great confusion since it came right against them. Most important of all, the opportune character of this occurrence infused courage in the one side, which believed it was aided by Heaven, and fear in the other, which felt that the supernatural was warring against them; thus it made the former strong even beyond its own strength and terrified the latter in spite of real power. Just as they were fleeing Valerianus came in sight. Seeing him, they turned about, and after that, as Anullinus beat them back, retreated once more. Then they wandered about, running this way and that way, to see where they could break through.

[Sidenote:—8—] It turned out that this was the greatest slaughter to take place during the war in question. Two myriads of Niger's followers perished utterly. The fact was indicated also by the priest's vision. While Severus was in Pannonia, the priest of Jupiter saw in a vision a black man force his way into the emperor's camps and meet his death by superior numbers. And by turning the name of Niger into Greek people recognized that he was the one meant by the "black" person mentioned. Directly Antioch had been captured (not long after) Niger fled from it, making the Euphrates his objective point, for he intended to seek refuge among the barbarians. His pursuers, however, overtook him; he was taken and had his head struck off. This head Severus sent to Byzantium and caused to be reared on a cross, that the sight of it might incline the Byzantines to his cause. The next move of Severus was to mete out justice to those who had belonged to Niger's party. [Of the cities and individuals he chastised some and rewarded others. He executed no Roman senator, but deprived most of them of their property and confined them on islands. He was merciless in his search for money. Among other measures he exacted four times the amount that any individuals or peoples had given to Niger, whether they had done so voluntarily or under compulsion. He himself doubtless perceived the injustice of it,] [Footnote: The MS. text is faulty, and the translation, ventured independently, corresponds approximately to a suggestion by van Herwerden in Boissevain's edition.] but as he required great sums, he paid no attention to the common talk.

[Sidenote:—9—] Cassius Clemens, a senator, while on trial before Severus himself, did not hide the truth but spoke with such frankness as the following report will show:

"I," he said, "was acquainted with neither you nor Niger, but as I found myself in his part of the world, I accepted the situation heartily, not with the idea of being hostile to you but with the purpose of deposing Julianus. I have, then, committed no wrong in this, since I labored originally for the same ends as you, nor should I be censured for failing to desert the master whom I had once secured by the will of Heaven and for not transferring my allegiance to you. You would not yourself have liked to have your intimate circle and fellow judges here betray your cause and go over to him. Examine therefore not our bodies nor our names but the events themselves. For in every point in which you condemn us you will be passing sentence upon yourself and your associates. However secure you may be from conviction in any suit or by any court finding, still, in the report of men, of which an eternal memory shall survive, you will be represented as making against yourself the same charges as have led to punishment [Footnote: Supplying, with Reiske, [Greek: soi [Lacuna] kolasthaenai].] in the case of others."—Severus admired this man for his frankness and allowed him to keep half his property.

[Many who had never even seen Niger and had not cooperated with him were victims of abuse on the charge that they had been members of his party.]

[Sidenote: A.D. 195 (a.u. 948)] [Sidenote:—10—] The Byzantines performed many remarkable deeds both during the life and after the death of Niger. This city is favorably located with reference both to the continents and to the sea that lies between them, and is strongly intrenched by the nature of its position as well as by that of the Bosporus. The town sits on high ground extending into the sea. The latter, rushing down from the Pontus with the speed of a mountain torrent assails the headland and in part is diverted to the right, forming there the bay and harbors. But the greater part of the water passes on with great energy past the city itself toward the Propontis. Moreover, the place had walls that were very strong. Their face was constructed of thick squared stones, fastened together by bronze plates, and the inner side of it had been strengthened with mounds and buildings so that the whole seemed to be one thick wall and the top of it formed a circuit betraying no flaws and easy to guard. Many large towers occupied an exposed position outside it, with windows set close together on every side so that those assaulting the fortification in a circle would be cut off between them. Being built at a short distance from the wall and not in a regular line, but one here and another there over a rather crooked route, they were sure to command both sides of any attacking party. Of the entire circuit the part on the land side reached a great height so as to repel any who came that way: the portion next to the sea was lower. There, the rocks on which it had been reared and the dangerous character of the Bosporus were effective allies. The harbors within the wall had both been closed with chains and their breakwaters carried towers projecting far out on each side, making approach impossible for the enemy. And, in fine, the Bosporus was of the greatest aid to the citizens. It was quite inevitable that once any person became entangled in its current he should willy-nilly be cast up on the land. This was a feature quite satisfactory to friends, but impossible for foes to deal with.

[Sidenote:—11—] It was thus that Byzantium had been fortified. The engines, besides, the whole length of the wall, were of the most varied description. In one place they threw rocks and wooden beams upon parties approaching and in another they discharged stones and missiles and spears against such as stood at a distance. Hence over a considerable extent of territory no one could draw near them without danger. Still others had hooks, which they would let down suddenly and shortly after draw up boats and machines. Priscus, a fellow-citizen of mine, had designed most of them, and this fact both caused him to incur the death penalty and saved his life. For Severus, on learning his proficiency, prevented his being executed. Subsequently he employed him on various missions, among others at the siege of Hatra, and his contrivances were the only ones not burned by the barbarians. He also furnished the Byzantines with five hundred boats, mostly of one bank, but some of two banks, and equipped with beaks. A few of them were provided with rudders at both ends, stern and prow, and had a double quota of pilots and sailors in order that they might both attack and retire without turning around and damage their opponents while sailing back as well as while sailing forward.

[Sidenote:—12—] Many, therefore, were the exploits and sufferings of the Byzantines, since for the entire space of three years they were besieged by the armaments of practically the whole world. A few of their experiences will be mentioned that seem almost marvelous. They captured, by making an opportune attack, some boats that sailed by and captured also some of the triremes that were in their opponents' roadstead. This they did by having divers cut their anchors under water, after which they drove nails into the ship's bottom and with cords attached thereto and running from friendly territory they would draw the vessel towards them. Hence one might see the ships approaching shore by themselves, with no oarsman nor wind to urge them forward. There were cases in which merchants purposely allowed themselves to be captured by the Byzantines, though pretending unwillingness, and after selling their wares for a huge price made their escape by sea.

[Sidenote: A.D. 196 (a.u. 949)] When all the supplies in the town had been exhausted and the people had been set fairly in a strait with regard to both their situation and the expectations that might be founded upon it, at first, although beset by great difficulties (because they were cut off from all outside resources), they nevertheless continued to resist; and to make ships they used lumber taken from the houses and braided ropes of the hair of their women. Whenever any troops assaulted the wall, they would hurl upon them stones from the theatres, bronze horses, and whole statues of bronze. When even their normal food supply began to fail them, they proceeded to soak and eat hides. Then these, too, were used up, and the majority, having waited for rough water and a squall so that no one might man a ship to oppose them, sailed out with the determination either to perish or to secure provender. They assailed the countryside without warning and plundered every quarter indiscriminately. Those left behind committed a monstrous deed; for when they grew very faint, they turned against and devoured one another.

[Sidenote:—13—] This was the condition of the men in the city. The rest, when they had laden their boats with more than the latter could bear, set sail after waiting this time also for a great storm. They did not succeed, however, in making any use of it. The Romans, noticing [Sidenote: A.D. 196 a.u. 949] that their vessels were overheavy and depressed almost to the water's edge, put out against them. They assailed the company, which was scattered about as wind and flood chose to dispose them, and really engaged in nothing like a naval contest but crushed the enemy's boats mercilessly, striking many with their boat-hooks, ripping up many with their beaks, and actually capsizing some by their mere onset. The victims were unable to do anything, however much they might have wished it: and when they attempted to flee in any direction either they would be sunk by force of the wind, which encountered them with the utmost violence, or else they would be overtaken by the enemy and destroyed. The inhabitants of Byzantium, as they watched this, for a time called unceasingly upon the gods and kept uttering now one shout and now another at the various events, according as each one was affected by the spectacle or the disaster enacted before his eyes. But when they saw their friends perishing all together, the united throng sent up a chorus of groans and wailings, and thereafter they mourned for the rest of the day and the whole night. The entire number of wrecks proved so great that some drifted upon the islands and the Asiatic coast, and the defeat became known by these relics before it was reported. The next day the Byzantines had the horror increased even above what it had been. For, when the surf had subsided, the whole sea in the vicinity of Byzantium was covered with corpses and wrecks with blood, and many of the remains were cast up on shore, with the result that the catastrophe, now seen in its details, appeared even worse than when in process of consummation.

[Sidenote:—14—] The Byzantines straightway, though against their will, surrendered their city. The Romans executed all the soldiers and magistrates except the pugilist who had greatly aided the Byzantines and injured the Romans. He perished also, for in order to make the soldiers angry enough to destroy him he immediately hit one with his fist and with a leap gave another a violent kick.

Severus was so pleased at the capture of Byzantium that to his soldiers in Mesopotamia (where he was at this time) he said unreservedly: "We have taken Byzantium, too!" He deprived the city of its independence and of its civil rank, and made it tributary, confiscating the property of the citizens. He granted the town and its territory to the Perinthians, and the latter, treating it after the manner of a village, committed innumerable outrages. So far he seemed in a way to be justified in what he did. His demolition of the walls of the city grieved the inhabitants no more than did the loss of that reputation which the appearance of the walls had caused them to enjoy; and incidentally he had abolished a strong Roman outpost and base of operations against the barbarians from the Pontus and Asia. I was one that viewed the walls after they had fallen, and a person would have judged that they had been taken by some other people than the Romans. I had also seen them standing and had heard them "speak." There were seven towers extending from the Thracian gates to the sea. If a man approached any of these but the first, it was silent; but if he shouted a few words at that one or threw a stone at it, it not only echoed and spoke itself but caused the second to do the same thing. In this way the sound passed through them all alike, and they did not interrupt one another, but all in their proper turn, one receiving the impulse from the one before it, took up the echo and the voice and sent it on.


Severus's war against the Osrhoeni, Adiabeni, and Arabians (chapters 1-3).

Severus's war against Albinus Caesar (chapters 4, 5).

How Albinus was vanquished by Severus and perished (chapters 6, 7).

The arrogance of Severus after his victory (chapters 7, 8).

Severus's Parthian expedition (chapter 9).

How he besieged the Atreni, but found his endeavors fruitless (chapters 10-12).

How he started for Egypt: and about the source of the Nile (chapter 13).

About the power and tyrannous conduct of Plautianus (chapters 14-16).


Scapula Tertullus, Tineius Clemens, (A.D. 195 = a.u. 948 = Third of Severus, from the Calends of June).

C. Domitius Dexter (II), L. Valerius Messala Priscus. (A.D. 196 = a.u. 949 = Fourth of Severus).

Ap. Claudius Lateranus, Rufinus. (A.D. 197 = a.u. 950 = Fifth of Severus).

Ti. Saturninus, C. Gallus. (A.D. 198 = a.u. 951 = Sixth of Severus).

P. Cornelius Anullinus, M. Aufidius Fronto. (A.D. 199 = a.u. 952 = Seventh of Severus).

Ti. Claudius Severus, C. Aufidius Victorinus. (A.D. 200 = a.u. 953 = Eighth of Severus).

L. Annius Fabianus, M. Nonius Mucianus. (A.D. 201 = a.u. 954 = Ninth of Severus).

L. Septimius Severus Aug. (III), M. Aurel. Antoninus Aug. (A.D. 202 = a.u. 955 = Tenth of Severus).

[Sidenote: A.D. 195 (a.u. 948)] [Sidenote:—1—] Of such a nature were the walls of Byzantium. During the progress of this siege Severus out of a desire for fame had made a campaign against the barbarians,—the Osrhoeni, the Adiabeni, and the Arabians. [The Osrhoeni and Adiabeni having revolted were besieging Nisibis: defeated by Severus they sent an embassy to him after the death of Niger, not to beg his clemency as wrongdoers but to demand reciprocal favors, pretending to have brought about the outcome for his benefit. It was for his sake, they said, that they had destroyed the soldiers who belonged to Niger's party. Indeed, they sent a few gifts to him and promised to restore the captives and whatever spoils were left. However, they were not willing either to abandon the walled towns they had captured or to accept the imposition of tributes, but they desired those in existence to be lifted from the country. It was this that led to the war just mentioned.]

[Sidenote:—2—] When he had crossed the Euphrates and invaded hostile territory, where the country was destitute of water and at this summer season had become especially parched, he came dangerously near losing great numbers of soldiers. Wearied as they were by their tramping and the hot sun, clouds of dust that they encountered harrassed them greatly, so that they could no longer walk nor yet speak, but only utter the word "Water, water!" When [moisture] appeared, on account of [its] strangeness it attracted no more attention than if it had not been found, till Severus called for a cup, and having filled it with water drank it down in full view of all. Upon this some others likewise drank and were invigorated. Soon after Severus entered Nisibis and himself waited there, but despatched Lateranus and Candidus and Laetus severally among the aforementioned barbarians. These upon attaining their goals proceeded to lay waste the land of the barbarians and to capture their cities. While Severus was greatly priding himself upon this achievement and feeling that he surpassed all mankind in both understanding and bravery, a most unexpected event took place. One Claudius, a robber, who overran Judaea and Syria and was sought for in consequence with great hue and cry, came to him one day with horsemen, like some military tribune, and saluted and kissed him. The visitor was not discovered at the time nor was he later arrested. [And the Arabians, because none of their neighbors was willing to aid them, sent an embassy a second time to Severus making quite reasonable propositions. Still, they did not obtain what they wanted, inasmuch as they had not come in person.]

[Sidenote: A.D. 196 (a.u. 949)] [Sidenote:—3—] The Scythians, too, were in fighting humor, when at this juncture during a deliberation of theirs thunder and lightning-flashes with rain suddenly broke over them, and thunderbolts began to fall, killing their three foremost men. This caused them to hesitate.

Severus again made three divisions of his army, and giving one to Laetus, one to Anullinus, and one to Probus, sent them out against ARCHE [Lacuna]; [Footnote: The MS. is corrupt. Adiabene, Atrene and Arbelitis have all been suggested as the district to which Dio actually referred here.] and they, invading it in three divisions, subdued it not without trouble. Severus bestowed some dignity upon Nisibis and entrusted the city to the care of a knight. He declared he had won a mighty territory and had rendered it a bulwark of Syria. It is shown, on the contrary, by the facts themselves that the place is responsible for our constant wars as well as for great expenditures. It yields very little and uses up vast sums. And having extended our borders to include men who are neighbors of the Medes and Parthians rather than of ourselves, we are always, one might say, fighting over those peoples.

[Sidenote:—4—] Before Severus had had time to recover breath from his conflicts with the barbarians he found a civil war on his hands with Albinus, his Caesar. Severus after getting Niger out of the way was still not giving him the rank of Caesar and had ordered other details in that quarter as he pleased; and Albinus aspired to the preeminence of emperor. [Footnote: Omitting [Greek: autou] (as Dindorf).] While the whole world was moved by this state of affairs we senators kept quiet, at least so many of us as inclining openly neither to one man nor the other yet shared their dangers and hopes. But the populace could not restrain itself and showed its grief in the most violent fashion. It was at the last horse-race before the Saturnalia, and a countless throng of people flocked to it. I too was present at the spectacle because the consul was a friend of mine and I heard distinctly everything that was said,—a fact which renders me able to write a little about it.

It came about in this way. There had gathered (as I said) more people than could be computed and they had watched the chariots contesting in six divisions (which had been the way also in Oleander's time), applauding no one in any manner, as was the custom. When these races had ceased and the charioteers were about to begin another event, then they suddenly enjoined silence upon one another and all clapped their hands simultaneously, shouting, besides, and entreating good fortune for the public welfare. They first said this, and afterward, applying the terms "Queen" and "Immortal" to Rome, they roared: "How long are we to suffer such experiences?" and "Until when must we be at war?" And after making a few other remarks of this kind they finally cried out: "That's all there is to it!" and turned their attention to the equestrian contest. In all of this they were surely inspired by some divine afflation. For not otherwise could so many myriads of men have started to utter the same shouts at the same time like some carefully trained chorus or have spoken the words without mistake just as if they had practiced them.

This manifestation caused us still greater disturbance as did also the fact that so great a fire was of a sudden seen by night in the air toward the north that some thought that the whole city and others that the sky itself was burning. But the most remarkable fact I have to chronicle is that in clear weather a fine silvery rain descended upon the forum of Augustus, I did not see it in the air, but noticed it after it had fallen, and with it I silverplated some small bronze coins. These retained the same appearance for three days: on the fourth all the substance rubbed upon them had disappeared.

[Sidenote:—5—] A certain Numerianus, who taught children their letters, started from Rome for Galatia with I know not what object, and by pretending to be a Roman senator sent by Severus to gather an army he collected at first just a small force by means of which he destroyed a few of Albinus's cavalry, whereupon he unblushingly made some further promises in behalf of Severus. Severus heard of this and thinking that he was really one of the senators sent him a message of praise and bade him acquire still greater power. The man did acquire greater power and gave many remarkable exhibitions of ability besides obtaining seventeen hundred and fifty myriads of denarii, which he forwarded to Severus. After the latter's victory Numerianus came to him, making no concealment, and did not ask to become in very truth a senator. Indeed, though he might have been exalted by great honors and wealth, he did not choose to accept them, but passed the remainder of his life in some country place, receiving from the emperor some small allowance for his daily subsistence.

[Sidenote: A.D. 197 (a.u. 950)] [Sidenote:—6—] The struggle between Severus and Albinus near Lugdunum is now to be described. At the outset there were a hundred and fifty thousand soldiers on each side. Both leaders took part in the war, since it was a race for life and death, though Severus had previously not been present at any important battle. Albinus excelled in rank and in education, but his adversary was superior in warfare and was a skillful commander. It happened that in a former battle Albinus had conquered Lupus, one of the generals of Severus, and had destroyed many of the soldiers attending him. The present conflict took many shapes and turns. The left wing of Albinus was beaten and sought refuge behind the rampart, whereupon Severus 's soldiers in their pursuit burst into the enclosure with them, slaughtered their opponents and plundered their tents. Meantime the soldiers of Albinus arrayed on the right wing, who had trenches hidden in front of them and pits in the earth covered over only on the surface, approached as far as these snares and hurled javelins from a distance. They did not go very far but turned back as if frightened, with the purpose of drawing their foes into pursuit. This actually took place. Severus's men, nettled by their brief charge and despising them for their retreat after so short an advance, rushed upon them without a thought that the whole intervening space could not be easily traversed. When they reached the trenches they were involved in a fearful catastrophe. The men in the front ranks as soon as the surface covering broke through fell into the excavations and those immediately behind stumbled over them, slipped, and likewise fell. The rest crowded back in terror, their retreat being so sudden that they themselves lost their footing, upset those in the rear, and pushed them into a deep ravine. Of course there was a terrible slaughter of these soldiers as well as of those who had fallen into the trenches, horses and men perishing in one wild mass. In the midst of this tumult the warriors between the ravine and the trenches were annihilated by showers of stones and arrows.

Severus seeing this came to their assistance with the Pretorians, but this step proved of so little benefit that he came near causing the ruin of the Pretorians and himself ran some risk through the loss of a horse. When he saw all his men in flight, he tore off his riding cloak and drawing his sword rushed among the fugitives, hoping either that they would be ashamed and turn back or that he might himself perish with them. Some did stop when they saw him in such an attitude, and turned back. Brought in this way face to face with the men close behind them they cut down not a few of them, thinking them to be followers of Albinus, and routed all their pursuers. At this moment the cavalry under Laetus came up from the side and decided the rest of the issue for them. Laetus, so long as the struggle was close, remained inactive, hoping that both parties would be destroyed and that whatever soldiers were left on both sides would give him supreme authority. When, however, he saw Severus's party getting the upper hand, he contributed to the result. So it was that Severus conquered.

[Sidenote:—7—] Roman power had suffered a severe blow, since the numbers that fell on each side were beyond reckoning. Many even of the victors deplored the disaster, for the entire plain was seen to be covered with the bodies of men and horses. Some of them lay there exhausted by many wounds, others thoroughly mangled, and still others unwounded but buried under heaps. Weapons had been tossed about and blood flowed in streams, even swelling the rivers. Albinus took refuge in a house located near the Rhone, but when he saw all its environs guarded, he slew himself. I am not telling what Severus wrote about it, but what actually took place. The emperor after inspecting his body and feasting his eyes upon it to the full while he let his tongue indulge in appropriate utterances, ordered it,—all but the head,—to be cast out, and that he sent to Rome to be exposed on a cross. As he showed clearly by this action that he was very far from being an excellent ruler, he alarmed even more than before the populace and us by the commands which he issued. Now that he had vanquished all forces under arms he poured out upon the unarmed all the wrath he had nourished against them during the previous period. He terrified us most of all by declaring himself the son of Marcus and brother of Commodus; and to Commodus, whom but recently he was wont to abuse, he gave heroic honors. [Sidenote:—8—] While reading before the senate a speech in which he praised the severity and cruelty of Sulla and Marius and Augustus as rather the safer course, and deprecated the clemency of Pompey and Caesar because it had proved their ruin, he introduced a defence of Commodus, and inveighed against the senate for dishonoring him unjustly though the majority of their own body lived even worse lives. "For if", said he, "this is abominable, that he with his own hands should have killed beasts, yet at Ostia yesterday or the day before one of your number, an old man that had been consul, indulged publicly in play with a prostitute who imitated a leopard. 'He fought as a gladiator,' do you say? By Jupiter, does none of you fight as gladiator? If not, how is it and for what purpose that some persons have bought his shields and the famous golden helmets?" At the conclusion of this reading he released thirty-five prisoners charged with having taken Albinus's side and behaved toward them as if they had incurred no charge at all. They were among the foremost members of the senate. He condemned to death twenty-nine men, as one of whom was reckoned Sulpicianus, the father-in-law of Pertinax.

All pretended to sympathize with Severus but were confuted as often as a sudden piece of news arrived, not being able to conceal the sentiments hidden in their hearts. When off their guard they started at reports which happened to assail their ears without warning. In such ways, as well as through facial expression and habits of behavior, the feelings of every one of them became manifest. Some also by an excess of affectation only betrayed their attitude the more.

[Sidenote: LXXIV, 9, 5] Severus endeavored in the case of those who were receiving vengeance at his hands [Lacuna] [Footnote: Some words appear to have fallen out at this point (so Dindorf).] to employ Erucius Clarus [Footnote: C. Iulius Erucius Clarus Vibianus.] as informer against them, that he might both put the man in an unpleasant position and be thought to have more fully justified conviction in view of his witness's family and reputation. He promised Clarus to grant him safety and immunity. But when the latter chose rather to die than to make any such revelations, he turned to Julianus and persuaded him to play the part. For this willingness he released him in so far as not to kill nor disenfranchise him; but he carefully verified all his statements by tortures and regarded as of no value his existing reputation.

[Sidenote: LXXV, 5] [In Britain at this period, because the Caledonians did not abide by their promises but made preparations to aid the Maeatians, and because Severus at the time was attending to the war abroad, Lupus was compelled to purchase peace for the Maeatians at a high figure, and recovered some few captives.]

[Sidenote: A.D. 198 (a.u. 951)] [Sidenote:—9—] The next thing Severus did was to make a campaign against the Parthians. While he was busied with civil wars, they had been free from molestation and had thus been able by an expedition in full force to capture Mesopotamia. They also came very near reducing Nisbis, and would have done so, had not Laetus, who was besieged there, preserved the place. Though previously noted for other political and private and public excellences, in peace as well as in wars, he derived even greater glory from this exploit. Severus on reaching the aforesaid Nisibis encountered an enormous boar. With its charge it killed a horseman who, trusting to his own strength, attempted to run it down, and it was with difficulty stopped and killed by many soldiers,—thirty being the number required to stop it; the beast was then conveyed to Severus.

The Parthians did not wait for him but retired homeward. (Their leader was Vologaesus, whose brother was accompanying Severus). Hence Severus equipped boats on the Euphrates and reached him partly by marching, partly by sailing. The newly constructed vessels were exceedingly manageable and well appointed, for the forest along the Euphrates and those regions in general afforded the emperor an abundant supply of timber. Thus he soon had seized Seleucia and Babylon, both of which had been abandoned. Subsequently he captured Ctesiphon and permitted his soldiers to plunder the whole town, causing a great slaughter of men and taking nearly ten myriads alive. However, he did not pursue Vologaesus nor yet occupy Ctesiphon, but as if the sole purpose of his campaign had been to plunder it, he thereupon departed. This action was due partly to lack of acquaintance with the country and partly to dearth of provisions. His return was made by a different route, because the wood and fodder found on the previous route had been exhausted. Some of his soldiers made their retreat by land along the Tigris, following the stream toward its source, and some on boats.

[Sidenote: A.D. 199(?)] [Sidenote:—10—] Next, Severus crossed Mesopotamia and made an attempt on Hatra, which was not far off, but accomplished nothing. In fact, even the engines were burned, many soldiers perished, and vast numbers were wounded. Therefore Severus retired from the place and shifted his quarters. While he was at war, he also put to death two distinguished men. The first was Julius Crispus, a tribune of the Pretorians. The cause of his execution was that indignant at the damage done by the war he had casually uttered a verse of the poet Maro, in which one of the soldiers fighting on the side of Turnus against Aeneas bewails his lot and says: "To enable Turnus to marry Lavinia we are meanwhile perishing, without heed being paid to us." [Footnote: Two and a half lines beginning with verse 371 in Book Eleven of Virgil's Aeneid.] Severus made Valerius, the soldier who had accused him, tribune in his place. The other whom he killed was Laetus, and the reason was that Laetus was proud and was beloved by the soldiers. They often said they would not march, unless Laetus would lead them. The responsibility for this murder, for which he had no clear reason save jealousy, he fastened upon the soldiers, making it appear that they had ventured upon the act contrary to his will.

[Sidenote: A.D. 200(?)] [Sidenote:—11—] After laying in a large store of food and preparing many engines he in person again led an attack upon Hatra. He deemed it a disgrace, now that other points had been subdued, that this one alone, occupying a central position, should continue to resist. And he lost a large amount of money and all his engines except those of Priscus, as I stated earlier, [Footnote: Compare Book Seventy-four, chapter 11.] besides many soldiers. Numbers were annihilated in foraging expeditions, as the barbarian cavalry (I mean that of the Arabians) kept everywhere assailing them with precision and violence. The archery of the Atreni, too, was effective over a very long range. Some missiles they hurled from engines, striking many of Severus's men-at-arms, for they discharged two missiles in one and the same shot and there were also many hands and many arrows to inflict injury. They did their assailants the utmost damage, however, when the latter approached the wall, and in an even greater degree after they had broken down a little of it. Then they threw at them among other things the bituminous naphtha of which I wrote above [Footnote: Compare the beginning of Book Thirty-six (supplied from Xiphilinus).] and set fire to the engines and all the soldiers that were struck with it. Severus observed proceedings from a lofty tribunal. [Sidenote:—12—] A portion of the outer circuit had fallen in one place and all the soldiers were eager to force their way inside the remainder, when Severus checked them from doing so by giving orders that the signal for retreat be sounded clearly on all sides. The fame of the place was great, since it contained enormous offerings to the Sun God and vast stores of valuables; and he expected that the Arabians would voluntarily come to terms in order to avoid being forcibly captured and enslaved. When, after letting one day elapse, no one made any formal proposition to him, he commanded the soldiers again to assault the wall, though it had been built up in the night. The Europeans who had the power to accomplish something were so angry that not one of them would any longer obey him, and some others, Syrians, compelled to go to the assault in their stead, were miserably destroyed. Thus Heaven, that rescued the city, caused Severus to recall the soldiers that could have entered it, and in turn when he later wished to take it caused the soldiers to prevent him from doing so. The situation placed Severus in such a dilemma that when some one of his followers promised him that, if he would give him only five hundred and fifty of the Europeans, he would get possession of the city without any risk to the rest, the emperor said within hearing of all: "And where can I get so many soldiers?" (referring to the disobedience of the soldiers).

[Sidenote: A.D. 200 (a.u. 953)] [Sidenote:—13—] Having prosecuted the siege for twenty days he next came to Palestine and sacrificed to the spirit of Pompey: and into [upper] Egypt [he sailed along the Nile and viewed the whole country, with some small exceptions. For instance, he was unable to pass the frontier of Ethiopia on account of pestilence.] And he made a search of everything, including what was very carefully hidden, for he was the sort of man to leave nothing, human or divine, uninvestigated. Following this tendency he drew from practically all their hiding places all the books that he could find containing anything secret, and he closed the monument of Alexander, to the end that no one should either behold his body any more or read what was written in these books.

This was what he did. For myself, there is no need that I should write in general about Egypt, but what I know about the Nile through verifying statements from many sources I am bound to mention. It clearly rises in Mount Atlas. This lies in Macennitis, close to the Western ocean itself, and towers far above all mountains, wherefore the poets have called it "Pillar of the Sky." No one ever ascended its summits nor saw its topmost peaks. Hence it is always covered with snow, which in summer time sends down great quantities of water. The whole country about its base is in general marshy, but at this season becomes even more so, with the result that it swells the size of the Nile at harvest time. This is the river's source, as is evidenced by the crocodiles and other beasts that are born alike on both sides of it. Let no one be surprised that we have made pronouncements unknown to the ancient Greeks. The Macennitae live near lower Mauretania and many of the people who go on campaigns there also visit Atlas. It is thus that the matter stands.

[Sidenote:—14—] Plautianus, who enjoyed the special favor of Severus and had the authority of prefect, besides possessing the fullest and greatest influence on earth, had put to death many men of renown and his own peers [Lacuna] [After killing Aemilius Saturninus he took away all the most important prerogatives belonging to the minor officers of the Pretorians, his subordinates, in order that none of them might be so elated by his position of eminence as to lie in wait for the captaincy of the body-guards. Already it was his wish to be not simply the only but a perpetual prefect.] He wanted everything, asked everything from everybody, and got everything. He left no province and no city unplundered, but sacked and gathered everything from all sides. All sent a great deal more to him than they did to Severus. Finally he sent centurions and stole tiger-striped horses sacred [Footnote: Supplying [Greek: therous] (Reiske's conjecture).] to the Sun God from the island in the Red Sea. This mere statement, I think, must instantly make plain all his officiousness and greediness. Yet, on second thought, I will add one thing more. At home he castrated one hundred nobly born Roman citizens, though none of us knew of it until after he was dead. From this fact one may comprehend the extent alike of his lawlessness and of his authority. He castrated not merely boys or youths, but grown men, some of whom had wives; his object was that Plautilla his daughter (whom Antoninus afterward married) should be waited upon entirely by eunuchs [and also have them to give her instruction in music and other branches of art. So we beheld the same persons eunuchs and men, fathers and impotent, gelded and bearded. In view of this one might not improperly declare that Plautianus had power beyond all men, over even the emperors themselves. For one thing, his portrait statues were not only far more numerous but also larger than theirs, and this not simply in outside cities but in Rome itself, and they were at this time reared not merely by individuals but by no less a body than the senate itself. All the soldiers and the senators took oaths by his Fortune and all publicly offered prayer for his preservation.

[Sidenote:—15—] The person principally responsible for this state of affairs was Severus himself. He yielded to Plautianus in all matters to such a degree that the latter occupied the position of emperor and he himself that of prefect. In short, the man knew absolutely everything that Severus said and did, but not a person was acquainted with any of Plautianus's secrets. The emperor made advances to his daughter on behalf of his own son, passing by many other maidens of high rank. He appointed him consul and virtually showed an anxiety to have him for successor in the imperial office. Indeed, once he did say in a letter: "I love the man so much that I pray to die before he does."]

[Lacuna] so that [Lacuna] some one actually dared to write to him as to a fourth Caesar.

Though many decrees in his honor were passed by the senate he accepted only a few of them, saying to the senators: "It is through your hearts that you show your love for me, not through your decrees."

At temporary stopping-places he endured seeing him located in superior quarters and enjoying better and more abundant food than he. Hence in Nicaea (my native country) when he once wanted a hammer-fish, large specimens of which are found in the lake, he sent to Plautianus to get it. So if he thought at all of doing aught to diminish this minister's leadership, yet the opposite party, which contained far greater and more brilliant members, saw to it that any such plan was frustrated. On one occasion Severus went to visit him, when he had fallen sick at Tyana, and the soldiers attached to Plautianus would not allow the visitor's escort to enter with him. Moreover, the person who arranged cases to be pled before Severus was once ordered by the latter in a moment of leisure to bring forward some case or other, whereupon the fellow refused, saying: "I can not do this, unless Plautianus bid me." So greatly did Plautianus have the mastery in every way over the emperor that he [frequently treated] Julia Augusta [in an outrageous way,—for he detested her cordially,—and] was always abusing [her violently] to Severus, and conducted investigations against her as well as tortures of noble women. For this reason she began to study philosophy and passed her days in the company of learned men.—As for Plautianus, he proved himself the most licentious of men, for he would go to banquets and vomit meantime, inasmuch as the mass of foods and wine that he swallowed made it impossible for him to digest anything. And whereas he made use of lads and girls in perfectly notorious fashion, he would not permit his own wife to see or be seen by any person whomsoever, not even by Severus or Julia [to say nothing of others].

[Sidenote:—16—] At this period there took place also a gymnastic [Footnote: Reading [Greek: gymnikon] for [Greek: gynaikon], which is possibly corrupt.] contest, at which so great a multitude assembled under compulsion that we wondered how the race-course could hold them all. And in this contest Alamanni [Footnote: Reading [Greek: Alamannai] for [Greek: alomenai], which is undoubtedly corrupt.] women fought most ferociously, with the result that jokes were made about other ladies, who were very distinguished. Therefore, from this time on every woman, no matter what her origin, was prohibited from fighting in the arena.

On one occasion a good many images of Plautianus were made (what happened is worth relating) and Severus, being displeased at their number, melted down some of them. As a consequence a rumor penetrated the cities to the effect that the prefect had been overthrown and had perished. So some of them demolished his images,—an act for which they were afterward punished. Among these was the governor of Sardinia, Racius Constans, a very famous man, whom I have mentioned, however, for a particular reason. The orator who accused Constans had made this statement in addition to others: "Sooner may the sky collapse than Plautianus suffer any harm at the hands of Severus, and with greater cause might any one believe even that report, were any story of the sort circulated." Now, though the orator made this declaration, and though moreover Severus himself volubly affirmed it to us, who were helping him try the case, and stated "it is impossible for Plautianus to come to any harm at my hands," still, this very Plautianus did not live the year out, but was slain and all his images destroyed.—Previous to this a vast sea-monster had come ashore in the harbor named for Augustus, and had been captured. A representation of him, taken into the hunting-theatre, admitted fifty bears in its interior. Again, for many days a comet star had been seen in Rome and was said to portend nothing favorable.


Festivities on account of Severus's decennial, the marriage of Antoninus and victories (chapter 1).

Death of Plautianus (chapters 2-4).

The friends and children of Plautianus are persecuted by Severus (chapters 5-9).

About Bulla Felix, a noble brigand (chapter 10).

Severus's campaign in Britain: an account of the Britons (chapters 11, 12).

After traversing the whole of Britain Severus makes peace (chapter 13).

How Antoninus desired to slay his father (chapter 14).

Death of Severus Augustus and a summary view of his life (chapters 15-17).


L. Septimius Severus Aug. (III), M. Aur. Antoninus Aug. (A.D. 202 = a.u. 955 = Tenth of Severus, from the Calends of June).

P. Septimius Geta, Fulvius Plautianus (II). (A.D. 203 = a.u. 956 = Eleventh of Severus).

L. Fabius Septimius Cilo (II), L. Flavius Libo. (A.D. 204 = a.u. 957 = Twelfth of Severus).

M. Aur. Antoninus Aug. (II), P. Septimius Geta Caesar. (A.D. 205 = a.u. 958 = Thirteenth of Severus).

Nummius Albinus, Fulv. Aemilianus. (A.D. 206 = a.u. 959 = Fourteenth of Severus).

Aper, Maximus. (A.D. 207 = a.u. 960 = Fifteenth of Severus).

M. Aur. Antoninus Aug. (III), P. Septim. Geta Caesar (II). (A.D. 208 = a.u. 961 = Sixteenth of Severus).

Civica Pompeianus, Lollianus Avitus. (A.D. 209 = a.u. 962 = Seventeenth of Severus).

M. Acilius Faustinus, Triarius Rufinus. (A.D. 210 = a.u. 963 = Eighteenth of Severus).

Q. Epid. Ruf. Lollianus Gentianus, Pomponius Bassus. (A.D. 211 = a.u. 964 = Nineteenth of Severus, to Feb. 4th).

[Sidenote: A.D. 202 (a.u. 955)] [Sidenote:—1—] Severus to celebrate the first decade of his reign presented to the entire populace accustomed to receive dole and to the soldiers of the pretorian guard gold pieces equal in number to the years of his sovereignty. He took the greatest delight in this achievement, and, as a matter of fact, no one had ever before given so much to whole masses of people. Upon this gift five hundred myriads of denarii were expended. Another event was the marriage between Antoninus, son of Severus, and Plautilla, the daughter of Plautianus. The latter gave as much for his daughter's dowry as would have sufficed for fifty women of royal rank. We saw the gifts as they were being carried through the Forum into the palace. We were banqueted, likewise, in the meantime, partly in royal and partly in barbarian fashion on whatever is regularly eaten cooked or raw, and we received other animal food also alive. At this time, too, there occurred all sorts of spectacles in honor of Severus's return, the completion of his first decade, and his victories. At these spectacles sixty wild boars of Plautianus upon a given signal began a combat with one another, and there were slain (besides many other beasts) an elephant and a crocotta. [Footnote: Hesychius says of this beast merely that it is a quadruped of Aethiopia. Strabo calls it a cross between wolf and dog. Pliny (Natural History, VIII, 21 (30)) gives the following description:

"Crocottas are apparently the offspring of dog and wolf; they crush all their food with their teeth and forthwith gulp it down to be assimilated by the belly."

Again, of the Leucrocotta:

"A most destructive beast about the size of an ass, with legs of a deer, the neck, tail and breast of a lion, a badger's head, cloven hoof, mouth slit to the ears, and, in place of teeth, a solid line of bone."

Also, in VIII, 30 (45), he says:

"The lioness of Ethiopia by copulation with a hyaena brings forth the crocotta."

Capitolinus (Life of Antoninus Pius, 10, 9) remarks that the first Antoninus had exhibited the animal in Rome. Further, see Aelian, VII, 22.] The last named animal is of Indian origin, and was then for the first time, so far as I am aware, introduced into Rome. It has the skin of lion and tiger mingled and the appearance of those animals, as also of the wolf and fox, curiously blended. The entire cage in the theatre had been so constructed as to resemble a boat in form, so that it would both receive and discharge four hundred beasts at once, [Footnote: These cages were often made in various odd shapes and opened automatically. Compare the closing sentences of the preceding book.] and then, as it suddenly fell apart, there came rushing up bears, lionesses, panthers, lions, ostriches, wild asses, bisons (this is a kind of cattle of foreign species and appearance),—the result being that altogether seven hundred wild and tame beasts at once were seen running about and were slaughtered. For, to correspond with the duration of the festival, seven days, the number of animals was also seven times one hundred.

[Sidenote:—2—] On Mount Vesuvius a great gush of fire burst out and there were bellowings mighty enough to be heard in Capua, where I live whenever I am in Italy. This place I have selected for various reasons, chief of which is its quiet, that enables me to get leisure from city affairs and to write on this compilation. As a result of the Vesuvian phenomena it was believed that there would be a change in the political status of Plautianus. In very truth Plautianus had grown great and more than great, so that even the populace at the hippodrome exclaimed: "Why do you tremble? Why are you pale? You possess more than the three." They did not say this to his face, of course, but differently. And by "three" they indicated Severus and his sons, Antoninus and Geta. Plautianus's pallor and his trembling were in fact due to the life that he lived, the hopes that he hoped, and the fears that he feared. Still, for a time most of this eluded Severus's individual notice, or else he knew it but pretended the opposite. When, however, his brother Geta on his deathbed revealed to him the whole attitude of Plautianus,—for Geta hated the prefect and now no longer feared him,—the emperor set up a bronze statue of his brother in the Forum and no longer held his minister in equal honor; indeed, the latter was stripped of most of his power. Hence [Sidenote: A.D. 203 (a.u. 956)] Plautianus became violently enraged, and whereas he had formerly hated Antoninus for slighting his daughter, he was now especially indignant, feeling that his son-in-law was responsible for his present disgrace, and began to behave more harshly toward him. [Sidenote:—3—] For these reasons Antoninus became both disgusted with his wife (who was a most shameless creature), and offended at her father himself, because the latter kept meddling in all his undertakings and rebuking him for everything that he did. Conceiving a desire to be rid of the man in some way or other he accordingly had Euodus, his nurse, persuade a certain centurion, Saturninus, and two others of similar rank to bring him word that Plautianus had ordered some ten centurions, to whose number they also belonged, to kill both Severus and Antoninus; and they read a certain writing which they pretended to have received bearing upon this very matter. This was done as a surprise at the observances held in the palace in honor of the heroes, at a time when the spectacle had ceased and dinner was about to be served. That fact was largely instrumental in showing the story to be a fabrication. Plautianus would never have dared to impose such a bidding upon ten centurions at once, certainly not in Rome, certainly not in the palace, nor on that day, nor at that hour; much less would he have written it. Nevertheless, Severus believed the information trustworthy because he had the night before seen in a dream Albinus alive and plotting against him. [Sidenote:—4—] In haste, therefore, he summoned Plautianus, as if upon some other business. The latter hurried so (or rather, Heaven so indicated to him approaching disaster) that the mules that were carrying him fell in the palace yard. And when he sought to enter, the porters in charge of the bolts admitted him alone inside and would permit no one to enter with him, just as he himself had done in the case of Severus at Tyana. He grew a little suspicious at this and became terrified; as he had, however, no pretext for withdrawing, he went in. Severus conversed with him very mildly: "Why have you seen fit to do this! For what reason have you wished to kill us?" He gave him opportunity to speak and prepared to listen to his defence.

In the midst of the accused's denial and surprise at what was said, Antoninus rushed up, took away his sword, and struck him with his fist. He was ready to put an end to Plautianus with his own hand after the latter said: "You wanted to get the start of me in any killing!" Being prevented, however, by his father, Antoninus ordered one of his attendants to slay Plautianus. Somebody plucked out a few hairs from his chin and carried them to Julia and Plautilla (who were together) before they had heard a word of the affair, and said: "Behold your Plautianus!" This speech aroused grief in one and joy in the other.

Thus the man who had possessed the greatest influence of all my contemporaries, so that everybody both feared and trembled before him more than before the very emperors, [Footnote: Reading [Greek: autokratoron] (emendation of H. Stephanus).] the man who had hung poised upon greater hopes than they, was slain by his son-in-law and thrown from the top of the palace into some street. Later, at the order of Severus, he was taken up and buried.

[Sidenote:—5—] Severus next called a meeting of the senate in the senate-house. He uttered no accusation against Plautianus, but himself deplored the weakness of human nature, which was not able to endure excessive honors, and blamed himself that he had so honored and loved the man. Those, however, who had informed him of the victim's plot he bade tell us everything; but first he expelled from the senate-chamber some whose presence was not necessary, and by revealing nothing to them intimated that he did not altogether trust them.

Many were brought into danger by the Plautianus episode and some actually lost their lives. But Coeranus was accustomed to declare (what most people are given to pretending with reference to the fortunate) that he was his associate. As often as these friends of the prefect were wont to be called in before the others desiring to greet the great man, it was his custom to accompany them as far as the bars. So he did not share his secrets, but remained in the space midway, giving Plautianus the impression that he was outside and those outside the idea that he was within. This caused him to be the object of greater suspicion,—a feeling which was strengthened by the fact that Plautianus once in a dream saw fishes issue from the Tiber and fall at his feet, whereupon he declared that Coeranus should rule the land and water. This man, after being confined to an island for seven years, was later recalled, was the first Egyptian to be enrolled in the senate, and became consul, like Pompey, without holding any previous office. Caecilius Agricola, however, numbered among the deceased's foremost flatterers and second to no man on earth in rascality and licentiousness, was sentenced to death. He went home, and after drinking his fill of chilled wine, shattered the cup which had cost him five myriads, and cutting his veins fell dead upon the fragments. [Sidenote:—6—] As for Saturninus and Euodus, they were honored at the time but were later executed by Antoninus. While we were engaged in voting eulogies to Euodus, Severus restrained us by saying: "It is disgraceful that in one of your decrees there should be inscribed such a statement respecting a man that is a Caesarian." It was not the only instance of such an attitude, but he also refused to allow all the other imperial freedmen either to be insolent or to swagger; for this he was commended. The senate once, while chanting his praises, uttered without reserve no less a sentiment than this: "All do all things well since you rule well!"

Plautilla and Plautius, the children of Plautianus, were temporarily allowed to live, being banished to Lipara; but in the reign of Antoninus they were destroyed, though they had been existing in great fear and wretchedness and though their life was not even blessed by a goodly store of necessities.

[Sidenote:—7—] The sons of Severus, Antoninus and Greta, felt as if they had got rid of a pedagogue in Plautianus, and their conduct was from this time on irresponsible. They outraged women and abused boys, they embezzled moneys and made friends of the gladiators and charioteers, emulating each other in the similarity of their deeds and full of strife in their respective rivalries. If one attached himself to any cause, the other would be sure to choose the opposite side. Finally, they were pitted against each other in some kind of exercise with teams of ponies and drove with such fierce opposition that Antoninus fell out of the two-wheeled car and broke his leg. [During his son's sickness that followed this accident Severus neglected not one of his duties, but held court and managed all affairs pertaining to his office. For this he was praised. But he was blamed for murdering Plautianus Quintillus. [Footnote: This person's name is properly M. Plautius Quintillus.] He executed also many of the senators, some of whom had been accused before him, and made their defence and had been convicted. But Quintillus,] a man of noblest birth, for a long term of years counted among the foremost members of the senate, standing at the gates of old age, one who lived in the country, interfered in no one's business and did naught amiss, nevertheless became the prey of sycophants and was put out of the way. As he was near death he called for his funeral garments, which he had long since kept in readiness. On seeing that they had fallen to pieces through lapse of time, he said: "Why did we delay this!" And as he perfumed the place with burning incense, he remarked: "I offer the same prayer as Servianus offered over Hadrian." [Footnote: Compare Book Sixty-nine, chapter 17.]—Besides his death there were also gladiatorial contests, in which among other features ten tigers were slaughtered at once.

[Sidenote:—8—] After this came the denouement of the Apronianus affair,—a startling story even in the hearing. He incurred censure because his nurse is said to have seen once in a vision that he should enjoy sovereignty, and because he was believed to employ some magic to this end. He was condemned while absent in his governorship of Asia. When the evidence taken in his case was read to us, there was found written there this statement,—that one person in charge of the investigation had enquired who had told the dream and who had heard it, and that the man interrogated had said among other things: "I saw a certain baldheaded senator taking a peep there." On hearing this we all became terror-stricken, for neither had the man spoken nor Severus written any one's name. In their state of panic even those who had never visited the house of Apronianus, and not only the baldheaded but those whose foreheads were indifferently bare grew afraid. No one felt easy save those who had unusually thick hair. We all looked around at such men, and a whisper ran about: "It's so-and-so. No, it's so-and-so." I will not conceal how I was then affected, however absurd it may be. I felt with my hand to see whether I had any hair on my head; and a number of others behaved in the very same way. We were very careful to direct our gaze upon baldish persons as if we could thereby divert our own danger upon them. This we did until it was further read that the particular baldhead in question wore a purple toga. When this statement came out, we turned our eyes upon Baebius Marcellinus. He had been aedile at the time and was extremely bald. So he stood up and coming forward said: "He will certainly be able to point me out, if he has seen me." We commended this speech, the informer was brought in while the senator stood by, and for a long time was silent, looking about for the man to point out. Finally, following the direction of an almost imperceptible nod that somebody gave, he said that this was he.

[Sidenote:—9—] Thus was Marcellinus convicted of a baldhead's peeping, [Footnote: The phrase [Greek: phalakrou parakupseos] has a humorous ring to it, and I am inclined to believe, especially considering the situation, that Dio had in his mind while writing this the familiar proverb [Greek: honou parakupseos], a famous response given by a careless ass-driver, whose animal being several rods in advance of its lagging master had stuck its head into an open doorway and thereby scattered the nucleus of a promising aviary. The fellow was haled to court to answer to a charge of contributory negligence and when some bystander asked him for what misdeed he had been brought to that place, he rejoined with a great air of injured innocence: "For an ass's peeping!"] and bewailing his fate he was conducted out of the senate-house. When he had passed through the Forum, he refused to advance farther, but right where he was took leave of his children, four in number, and uttered this most affecting speech: "There is only one thing that I am sorry for, children; it is that I must leave you behind alive." Then he had his head cut off before Severus learned even that he had been condemned.

Just vengeance, however, befell Pollenius Sebennus, who had preferred the charge that caused his death. He was delivered by Sabinus to the Norici, for whom he had shown scant consideration during his governorship of them, and went through a most disgraceful experience. We saw him stretched on the ground, pleading piteously, and had he not obtained mercy, thanks to his uncle Auspex, [Footnote: A. Pollenius Auspex.] he would have perished pitiably. This Auspex was the cleverest imaginable man for jokes and chit-chat, for despising all mankind, gratifying his friends, and making reprisals upon his enemy. Many bitter and witty epigrams of his spoken to various people are reported, and many to Severus himself. Here is one of the latter. When the emperor was enrolled in the family of Marcus, Auspex said: "I congratulate you, Caesar, upon having found a father." This implied that up to this time his obscure origin had made him as good as fatherless.

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