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Book LXXVIII

This webpage reproduces a Book of
Roman History

by
Cassius Dio

published in Vol. IX
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1927

The text is in the public domain.

This text has not yet been proofread.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Book LXXX

Cassius Dio
Roman History

Thayer's Note: Before e-mailing me with questions, comments, or corrections involving the numbering of Books, chapters, and sections in this text, please read the orientation page.

Vol. IX
p341
Epitome of Book LXXIX

1 After this Antoninus made a campaign against the Parthians, on the pretext that Artabanus had refused to give him his daughter in marriage when he sued for her hand; for the Parthian king had realized clearly enough that the emperor, while pretending to want to marry her, was in reality eager to get the Parthian kingdom incidentally for himself. So Antoninus now ravaged a large section of the country around Media by making a sudden incursion, sacked many fortresses, won over Arbela, dug open the royal tombs of the Parthians, and scattered the bones about. This was the easier for him to accomplish inasmuch as the Parthians did not even join battle with him; and accordingly I have found nothing of especial interest to record concerning the incidents of that campaign except the following anecdote. Two soldiers who had seized a skin of wine came to him, each claiming the booty as his alone; and upon being ordered by him to divide the wine equally, they drew their swords and cut the wine skin in half, apparently expecting each to get a half with the wine in it. Thus they had so little reverence for their emperor that they troubled him with such matters as this, and exercised so little intelligence that they lost both the skin and the wine. The barbarians took refuge in the mountains beyond the Tigris in order to complete their preparations, but Antoninus suppressed this fact and took to himself as much credit p343as if he had utterly vanquished these foes, whom as a matter of fact he had not even seen; and he was particularly elated because, as he himself wrote, a lion had suddenly run down from a mountain and fought on his side. 2 Not only in other ways did he live in an unusual manner and violate precedents even on his very campaigns, (but he also invented a costume of his own, etc.)

. . . but truth; for I have read the book written by him about it. He realized so well how he stood with all the senators that the slaves and freedmen and most intimate friends of many of them who were not even under any charge at all were arrested by him and were asked under torture whether So-and‑so loved him or So-and‑so hated him. Indeed, he used to judge, as he said, even by the charts of the stars under which any of the prominent men about him had been born, which one was friendly to him and which was hostile; and on this evidence he honoured many persons and destroyed many others.

3 When the Parthians and the Medes, greatly angered by the treatment they had received, proceeded to raise a large army, he fell into the greatest terror. For, though he was most bold with his threats and most reckless in his undertakings, yet he was the greatest coward in the face of danger and the greatest weakling in the presence of hardships. p345He could no longer bear great heat or the weight of armour, and therefore wore sleeved tunics fashioned more or less like a breastplate, so that, by creating the impression of armour without his weight, he could be safe from plots and at the same time rouse admiration. Indeed, he often wore this dress when not in battle. 3 His mantle was either of pure purple or of purple with a white stripe down the centre; though occasionally the stripe only was of purple, as I myself have seen. In Syria, however, and in Mesopotamia he used German clothing and shoes. He also invented a costume of his own, which was made in a rather foreign fashion out of small pieces of cloth sewed together in a kind of cloak; and he not only wore this most of the time himself (in consequence of which he was given the nickname Caracallus), but he also prescribed it as the regular dress for the soldiers.

The barbarians, now, saw what sort of person he was and also heard that his troops, though numerous, had, in consequence of their previous luxury (among other things they had been passing the winter in houses and using up everything belonging to their hosts as if it were their own) and of their toils and present hardships, become so exhausted in body and so dejected in mind that they no longer cared at all about the largesses which they were constantly receiving in large amounts from Antoninus. Elated, therefore, to think that they were going to p347find them helpers rather than foes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Antoninus made preparations in his turn; but it did not fall to his lot to carry on the war, for he was murdered in the midst of his soldiers, whom he most honoured and in whom he reposed vast confidence. It seems that a seer in Africa had declared, in such a manner that it became noised abroad, that be Macrinus, the prefect, and his son, Diadumenianus, were destined to hold the imperial power; and later this seer, upon being sent to Rome, had revealed this prophecy to Flavius Maternianus, who at the time commanded the soldiers in the city, and this man had at once written a letter to Antoninus. But it happened that this letter was diverted to Antioch to the emperor's mother Julia, since she had been instructed to sort everything that arrived and thus prevent a mass of unimportant letters from being sent to him while he was in the enemy's country; whereas another letter, written by Ulpius Julianus, who was then in charge of the census, went by other couriers direct to Macrinus, informing him of the state of affairs. Thus the message to the emperor was delayed, while the despatch to Macrinus was read by him in good season. And so Macrinus, fearing he should be put to death by Antoninus on this account, especially as a certain Egyptian, Serapio, had told the emperor to his face a few days earlier that he would be short-lived and that Macrinus would succeed him, delayed no longer. 5 Serapio had at first been thrown to a lion for this, but when, as the result of his merely holding out his hand, as is reported, the animal did not touch him, he was slain; and he might have escaped even p349this fate, — or so he declared, — by invoking certain spirits, if he had lived one day longer.

5 Macrinus came to no harm, but hastened his preparations, having a presentiment that otherwise he should perish, especially as Antoninus had suddenly, on the day before his birthday, removed those of Macrinus' companions that were with him, alleging various reasons in different cases, but with the general pretext of showing them honour, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . belong that it was fated for him to secure the throne?, he had also chosen a name suggestive of this. Accordingly, he secured the services of two tribunes assigned to the pretorian guard, Nemesianus and Apollinaris, brothers belonging to the Aurelian gens, and of Julius Martialis, who was enrolled among the evocati and had a private grudge against Antoninus for not having given him the post of centurion when he asked for it, and so formed his plot against Antoninus. It was carried out thus. On the eighth of April, when the emperor had set out from Edessa for Carrhae and had dismounted from his horse to ease himself, Martialis approached as though desiring to say something to him and struck him with a small dagger. Martialis immediately fled and would have escaped detection, had he thrown away his sword; but, as it was, the weapon led to his being recognized by one of the Scythians in attendance upon Antoninus, and he was struck down with a javelin. As for Antoninus, the p351tribunes, pretending to come to his rescue, slew him. The Scythian mentioned was in attendance upon Antoninus, not merely as an ally, but also as a kind of body-guard. 6 For the emperor kept Scythians and Germans about him, freemen and slaves alike, whom he had taken away from their masters and wives and had armed, apparently placing more confidence in them than in the soldiers; and among various honours that he showed them he made them centurions, and called them "lions." Furthermore, he would often converse with the envoys sent to him from time to time by the nations to which these soldiers belonged, when no one else but the interpreters was present, instructing them, in case anything happened to him, to invade Italy and march upon Rome, assuring them that it was very easy to capture; and to prevent any inkling of his conversation from getting to our ears, he would immediately put to death the interpreters. Nevertheless, we learned of it later from the barbarians themselves; and as for the poisons, we learned of them from Macrinus. It seems that Antoninus had been in the habit of requisitioning or even buying great quantities of various poisons from the inhabitants of Upper Asia, spending thirty million sesterces all told upon them, in order that he might secretly kill in different ways great numbers of men, in fact all that he wished; these poisons were later discovered in the royal apartments and were all burned. At the time, however, with which we are concerned the soldiers, both for this reason and also because, in addition to other grievances, they were p353vexed at seeing the barbarians preferred to themselves, were not in any case so delighted with their emperor as formerly, and did not aid him when he became the victim of a plot.

Such was the end to which Antoninus came, after living twenty-nine years and four days (for he had been born on the fourth of April), and after ruling six years, two months, and two days. 7 At this point also in my narrative many things come to mind to arouse my astonishment. For instance, when he was about to set out from Antioch on his last journey, his father appeared to him in a dream, wearing a sword and saying, "As you killed your brother, so will I slay you"; and the soothsayers warned him to beware of that day, bluntly telling him in so many words that the gates of the victim's liver were shut. After this he went out through a certain door, paying no heed to the fact that the lion which he was wont to call "Rapier" and had for a table-companion and bedfellow seized him as he went out and even tore his clothing. For he used to keep many lions and always had some of them around him, but this one he would often caress even in public. Besides these prodigies, a little while before his death a great fire, as I have heard, suddenly filled the entire interior of the temple of Serapis at Alexandria, but did no damage beyond destroying the sword with which Antoninus had slain his brother; and later, when the fire had stopped, many stars became visible. In Rome, moreover, a spirit having the appearance of a man p355led an ass up to the Capitol and afterwards to the palace, seeking its master, as he claimed, and stating that Antoninus was dead and Jupiter was now emperor. Upon being arrested for this and sent by Maternianus to Antoninus, he said: "I go, as you bid; but I shall face, not this emperor, but another." And when he reached Capua a little later, he vanished. 8 This took place while Antoninus was still alive; and at the horse-race held in honour of Severus' reign the statue of Mars, while being borne in the procession, fell down. This perhaps would not cause so much astonishment; but now comes the greatest marvel of all. The Green faction had been defeated, whereupon, catching sight of a jackdaw, which was cawing very loudly on the top of the obelisk, they all looked toward him and suddenly, as if by pre-arrangement, all cried out: "Martialis, hail! Martialis, it is a long time since we saw you last." It was not that the jackdaw was ever thus called, but that through him they were greeting, apparently under some divine inspiration, Martialis, the slayer of Antoninus. There were, indeed, some who thought that Antoninus had foretold his own end, inasmuch as in the last letter he sent to the senate he had said: "Cease praying that I may be emperor a hundred years"; for from the beginning of his rule this wish had always been expressed as an acclamation, and this was the first and only time that he had found fault with it. Thus, while his words were simply meant p357to rebuke them for offering a prayer impossible of fulfilment, he was really predicting that he should not rule any longer at all. And when certain persons had once called attention to this fact, I also recalled that when he was giving us a banquet in Nicomedeia at the Saturnalia and had talked a good deal, as was natural at a symposium, he had called to me, as we rose to depart, and remarked: "Well and truly, Dio, has Euripides said:

'Of the works of the gods — in manifold wise they reveal them:

Manifold things unhoped for the gods to accomplishment bring.

And the things that we looked for, the god deign not to fulfil them;

And the paths undiscerned out of our eyes, the gods unseal them,

So fell this marvellous thing.' "

At the time these verses seemed to have been quoted with no particular meaning, but when he perished not long afterward and these words proved to be the last he ever uttered to me, it was felt that he had foretold in a truly oracular manner what was to befall him. Similar importance was attached to the utterance of Zeus called Belus, a god worshipped at Apamea in Syria; for this god, years before, while Severus was still a private citizen, had spoken these words to him:

"Eyes and head like those of Zeus, who delights in the thunder,

Slender his waist like Ares, his chest like that of Poseidon."

p359 And later, when he had become emperor and a consulted this oracle, the god gave him this response:

"Thy house shall perish utterly in blood."

9 The body of Antoninus was burned and his bones were deposited in the tomb of the Antonines, after being brought into Rome secretly at night; for absolutely everybody, both senators and the rest of the population, men and women alike, hated him most violently, so that they treated him like the bitterest foe in all that they said and did in relation to him. No decree, indeed, was passed dishonouring him, inasmuch as the soldiers failed to obtain from Macrinus the peace that they hoped to get from a new emperor and also because they were deprived of the rewards which they had been wont to receive from Antoninus, so that they began to long for him again; indeed, their wishes so far prevailed later that he was actually enrolled among the demigods, the senate, of course, passing the decree. But in general, much evil was continually spoken of him by everybody; in fact, people no longer called him Antoninus, but some called him Bassianus, his original name, others Caracallus, as I have stated, and yet others Tarautas, from the nickname of a gladiator who was most insignificant and ugly in appearance and most reckless and bloodthirsty in spirit.

10 Such, then, is the story of this man, by whatever name he be called. As for me, even before he came to the throne, it was foretold to me in a way by his father that I should write of these events also. For p361just after his death methought I saw in a great plain the whole power of the Romans arrayed in arms, and it seemed that Severus was seated on a knoll there, on a lofty tribunal, and conversing with them; and seeing me standing near to hear what was spoken, he said: "Come here, Dio; draw near, that you may both learn accurately and write an account of all that is said and done." Such was the life and the end of Tarautas. His death was followed by that of those who had taken part in the plot against him, some of whom perished at once and others a little later; and his intimate friends and freedmen also perished. Thus it would appear that it was his doom to bring a bloody fate upon his enemies and his friends alike.

11 Macrinus was a Moor by birth, from Caesarea, and the son of most obscure parents, so that he was very appropriately likened to the ass that was led up to the palace by the spirit; in particular, one of his ears had been bored in accordance with the custom followed by most of the Moors. But his integrity threw even this drawback into the shade. As for his attitude toward law and precedent, his knowledge of them was not so accurate as his observance of them was faithful. It was thanks to this latter quality, as displayed in his advocacy of a friend's cause, that he had become known to Plautianus, whose steward he then became for a time. Later he came near perishing with his patron, but was unexpectedly saved by the intercession of Cilo, and was appointed p363by Severus as superintendent of traffic along the Flaminian Way. From Antoninus he first received some brief appointments as procurator, than was made prefect, and discharged the duties of this office in a most satisfactory and just manner, in so far as he was free to follow his own judgment.

Such then was the general character and such were the steps in the advancement of this man, who, even while Tarautas was still living, conceived in his mind, for the reason I have given, the hope of becoming emperor. Nevertheless, after the death of Tarautas, he did not, either on that day or during the two following days, openly enter upon the office, lest he should appear to have killed him on that account; but for that space of time the Roman State was entirely without a supreme ruler, though people did not know it. He did, however, communicate with the soldiers on every side, that is to say, with those who were in Mesopotamia by reason of the war, but were nevertheless scattered in various places instead of being together in one body; and he gained their allegiance, with the help of his friends, by making them various promises and in particular by encouraging them to hope for a cessation of the war, which was especially burdensome to them. And so on the fourth day, which was Severus' birthday, he was chosen emperor by them, after he had made a show of resistance. 12 He delivered to them a long and excellent address and held out hopes of many advantages to the rest of mankind. Those who had been sentenced to some life punishment or other for an act of "impiety" (I mean the "impiety," as it is called, that has reference to the person of the p365emperor) had their sentences remitted, and complaints of that nature which were pending were dismissed; he also rescinded the measures that had been enacted by Caracallus relating to inheritances and emancipations. Furthermore, by insisting that it was impious to put a senator to death, he succeeded in begging off Aurelianus, whose surrender was demanded by the soldiers because he had become most obnoxious to them in the course of many previous campaigns. Not for long, however, was it in his power to play the part of a brave man . . . . . . and Aurelianus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . soldiers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . this . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . by him . . . . . . . . . . . . . absolute . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and in wrath . . . . . . . . . and one thousand sesterces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . to give more . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . fearing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aurelianus, the only one then present not only of the ex-consuls but even of all who were then senators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . by money . . . . . . . . to him . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . blame for Caracallus' death . . . . . . . . . turning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and about . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . great p367quantities of furniture and other possessions of the emperors. But as not even this on account of the soldiers sufficed for the . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . of senators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . kill no one, but putting some under guard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . of the knights and the freedmen, including the imperial freedmen, and . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . causing those who erred in even the slightest respect to be punished, so that to all . . . . . . . . . of them . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . both the procuratorships . . . . . . . . . . the excessive . . . . . and the larger part of the . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tarautas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . of the games . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . multitude . . . . . . . . . . and, further, collecting the presents which had been bestowed upon various persons without good reason, and he forbade any silver image of himself to be made weighing more than five pounds or any gold image of more than three pounds. Most important of all, he fixed the pay of those serving in the pretorian guard . . at the amount established . . . by Severus.

13 Nevertheless, though he was praised by some for this, and not without reason, yet he incurred on the part of sensible people a censure that fairly counterbalanced it, because he gave some the rank of ex-consuls and immediately appointed them to the governorship of provinces; and yet he himself refused to have the name of being "consul for the second time" in the following year merely on the basis of p369the consular rank that he already had — a practice that had been begun by Severus and continued by his son. But, though his course was most regular in this matter, which affected both himself and Adventus, yet he acted most unreasonably in sending out Marcius Agrippa as governor, first to Pannonia, and then to Dacia. For he had at once summoned the governors of those provinces, Sabinus and Castinus, pretending that he wanted their company, but really because he feared their proud spirit and their friendship for Caracallus; and thus he sent Agrippa to Dacia and Decius Triccianus to Pannonia. The former had been a slave acting as tireman for some woman and had stood trial before Severus for that very reason, though he had been counsel for the imperial treasury; banished later to an island for the betrayal of some cause, he had subsequently been recalled, along with the others, by Tarautas, had had charge of his judicial decisions and correspondence, and finally had been relegate to the position of senator with the rank of ex-praetor, because he had admitted immature lads into the army. Triccianus had served as a private soldier in the contingent from Pannonia, had once been doorkeeper to the governor of that province, and was at this time commanding the Alban legion.

14 Another thing for which many criticized him was his elevation of Adventus. This man had first served in the mercenary force among the spies and scouts, and upon quitting that position had been made one p371of the couriers and appointed their leader, and still later had been advanced to a procuratorship; and now the emperor appointed him senator, fellow-consul, and prefect of the city, though he could neither see by reason of old age nor read for lack of education nor accomplish anything for want of experience. The reason for the advancement of Adventus was that he had made bold to say to the soldiers after the death of Caracallus: "The sovereignty belongs to me, since I am older than Macrinus; but since I am extremely old, I yield it to him." Yet it seemed that he must be jesting when he said this, and that Macrinus must be jesting, too, when he granted the highest dignity of the senate to such a man, who could not even carry on a respectable conversation when consul with anyone in the senate and who accordingly on the day of the elections feigned illness. Hence it was not long until Macrinus assigned the oversight of the city to Marius Maximus in his stead; indeed, it looked as if he had made Adventus city prefect with the sole purpose of polluting the senate-chamber, inasmuch as the man had not only served in the mercenary force and had performed the various duties of executioners, scouts, and centurions, but had furthermore obtained the rule over the city prior to performing the duties of the consulship, that is, had become city prefect before being senator. Macrinus had really acted thus in the case of Adventus with the purpose of throwing his own record into the background, since he himself had seized the imperial office while still a knight. p373

15 But these were not the only acts for which he met with well-deserved censure; he was also blamed for appointing as prefects Ulpius Julianus and Julianus Nestor, men who possessed no excellence at all and had not been widely tested in affairs, but had become quite notorious for knavery in Caracallus' reign; for, being in command his couriers, they had been of great assistance to him in satisfying his unholy curiosity. Only a few people, however, paid heed to these matters, which did not tend wholly to reassure them; the majority of the ordinary citizens, in view of their having got rid of Tarautas so promptly, which was more than they could have hoped for, and in view of the promise the new ruler gave, in the few indications afforded, that his course in all other respects would be similar, did not really have time to condemn him in so short a period, and for this reason they mourned him exceedingly when he was dead, though they would certainly have held him in hatred had he lived longer. For he began to live rather more luxuriously and he took official notice of those who found any fault with him. His putting Maternianus and Datus to death was not justifiable, to be sure, — for what wrong had they done in being attentive to their emperor? — yet it was not inconsistent with human nature, since he had been in great peril; but he made a mistake when he vented his wrath upon the others, who were suspected of being displeased at his low birth and his unwarranted desire for the supreme power. He ought, of course, to have done precisely the opposite: realizing what he had been at the outset and what his position was now, he should not have been haughty, but should have p375acted with moderation and cultivated the genius of his household, and thus encouraged people by kindness and a uniform display of excellence everywhere alike.

16 These things . . . . . . . . . . in regard to him . . . . . . . . . . I have said . . . . . . . . . . in detail . . . . . . . . . . of some . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . emperor . . . . . . . . . . . . just as . . . . . . . . . . . . nominally . . . . . . . . . . . . . . the rule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . of all . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . that he said? . . . . . . . . . to the soldiers . . . . . . . . was shown . . and he made bold to utter not a few praises of himself and to send still more in letters, saying among other things: "I understood full well that you, too, had agreed with the legions, since I had the consciousness of having conferred many benefits upon the State." And in this letter he subscribed himself Caesar, emperor, and Severus, adding to the name Macrinus the titles Pius, Felix, Augustus, and proconsul, without waiting for any vote on our part, as would have been fitting. He sent the letter with full knowledge that he had on his own responsibility assumed so many and so great titles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . name . . . . . . . . . . . . . of Pretorians . . . . . . . . . . some . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . nevertheless . . . . . . . . so wrote . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . the rule (?) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . war chiefly (?) . . . . . . . . the barbarians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p377near . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . in the letter he used simply the same terms as the emperors before Caracallus, and in fact he did this throughout the whole year . . notebooks found among the soldiers . . . . . . . . . . thus . . . . . . . . . . of things accustomed to be said with a view to flattery and not inspired by truthfulness they became so suspicious as to ask that they be made public; and he sent them to us, and the quaestor read these also, as he did other similar documents later. And on one occasion, when the senate met in special session and none of the quaestors was present, a praetor read the letters of Macrinus himself.

17 When, therefore, the first letter had been read, appropriate measures were passed with reference both to Macrinus and to his son, the latter being declared Patrician, Princeps Iuventutis, and Caesar. Macrinus accepted everything except the horse-race that was voted in honour of the beginning of his reign; but this he declined, claiming that the event had been sufficiently honoured by the games on the birthday of Severus. Of Tarautas he made no mention at this time, either complimentary or disparaging, save only that he referred to him as emperor, not venturing to declare him either a demigod or a public enemy. He hesitated, in my opinion, to take the former course because of the deed of his predecessor and the consequent hatred felt for him by many, or to take the second on account of the soldiers; but some suspected that it was because he wished the p379dishonouring of Tarautas to be the act of the senate and the people rather than his own, especially as he was in the midst of the legions. He also said that Tarautas by his wrongdoing had been chiefly responsible for the war and had added an immense burden to the public treasury by increasing the amount of money given to the barbarians, since it was equal to the pay of the soldiers under arms. No one dared, however, to utter any such bold sentiment publicly against him and go so far as to vote him a public enemy, for fear of immediate destruction at the hands of the soldiers in the City. Nevertheless, in other ways they heaped abuse and insult on him to the best of their ability; they recited the list of his bloody deeds with the name of each victim; they compared him to all the evil tyrants that had ever held sway over them; 18 and they demanded that horse-race celebrated on his birthday should be abolished, that absolutely all the statues, both gold and silver, should be melted down because of him, and that those who had served him in any way as informers should be made known and punished with the utmost speed. For many persons, not only slaves, freedmen, soldiers, and the imperial freedmen, but also knights and senators and even many of the most prominent women, were believed to have made secret reports and brought false accusations against persons during his reign. And although they did not apply to Tarautas the name of public p381enemy, they were forever shouting that Martialis ought to be honoured with encomiums and with statues — taking as their pretext the similarity of his name to that of Mars. Nor did they show any indication of displeasure toward Macrinus for the moment, for the reason that they were so fully taken up with their joy at the death of Tarautas that they had no time to take any thought about Macrinus' humble origin and were content to accept him as emperor, since they were less concerned about whose slaves they should be next than they were about the man whose yoke they had shaken off, and thought that any chance comer, even, would be preferable to their former master. All the irregular expenditures were rehearsed that had been made at any time, not only from the public treasury of the Romans, but also privately by any communities at Tarautas' direction; and thus the abolishing of his enactments and the hope that in the future nothing similar would be required of them inclined people to be satisfied with things as they were.

19 But presently they learned that Aurelianus was dead and that Diadumenianus, the son of Macrinus, had been appointed Caesar, — nominally by the soldiers, through whose ranks he passed when summoned from Antioch to meet his father, but really by Macrinus, — and had also taken the name of Antoninus. (Macrinus had done this in order to curry favour with the soldiers, partly so as not to seem to dishonour the dead emperor's memory entirely, the more so as he had secretly thrown down some of the statues set up p383by Tarautas in Rome to Alexander and also to himself, and partly to afford him an excuse for promising them three thousand sesterces more.) So people now began to feel differently toward him. When they reflected that previously they had held him in no esteem and took into account moreover all the . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . his other . . . . . . . . . . further suspect . . . . . . . . . . . . . they felt ashamed and did not . . . Caracallus any more . . . . . but the things pertaining to him . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . by deprecating the names of Severus and Antoninus . . . they displayed . . . and demigod . . . . . . . . . . . . . because of the . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and absolutely the opinions of all men in Rome changed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . senate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . me . . . . . . . . . . however, when all were asked individually regarding the honours for him, not only others answered ambiguously but also . . . . . . Saturninus . . . . . . . . in a way attributing (?) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . of praetors . . that it was not permissible for him to put any vote about anything, in order that the . . might not . . them. This procedure, now, was contrary to precedent; for it was not lawful that an investigation of any matter should take place in the senate except at the direction of the emperor. p385

20 The populace, however, finding it easy to escape detection at the races and feeling emboldened by their numbers, raised a great outcry at the horse-race on the birthday of Diadumenianus, which fell on the fourteenth of September, uttering many laments and asserting that they alone of all mankind were without a leader and work of art king; and they called upon Jupiter, declaring that he alone should be their leader and adding these very words: "As a master thou wert angry, as a father take pity on us." Nor would they pay any heed at first to either the equestrian or the senatorial order who were . . praising the emperor and the Caesar, to the extent of saying . . in Greek: "Oh, what a glorious day is this! What noble rulers!" and desiring the others, too, to agree with them. But the crowd raised their hands toward heaven and exclaimed: "Yonder is the Romans' Augustus; having him, we have everything." So truly, it would seem, is there innate in mankind a great respect for that which is superior and a great contempt for that which is inferior; and so the populace thenceforth regarded both Macrinus and Diadumenianus as absolutely non-existent, and already trampled upon them as if they were dead. This was one important reason why the soldiers despised him and paid no heed to what he did to win their favour; another still more important reason was the Pergamenians, finding themselves deprived of the privileges that they had formerly received from Tarautas, heaped many and extraordinary insults upon him — conduct for which they were publicly dishonoured by him. p387

21 The behaviour of the soldiers will be described presently. At the time in question Macrinus neither sent to the senate, as they were demanding, nor otherwise published any document of the informers, claiming, whether truly or falsely, in order to avoid great commotion, that none such had been found in the royal residence. (For Tarautas had either destroyed the greater part of the documents containing any accusation or had returned them to the senders themselves, as I have stated, in order that no evidence of their baseness should be left.) But he did reveal the names of three senators whom he himself, from what he had discovered, regarded as especially deserving of hatred. These were Manilius and Julius, together with Sulpicius Arrenianus, who had falsely accused, among others, Bassus, the son of Pomponius, whose lieutenant he had been when Pomponius was governor of Moesia. These men were banished to islands, as the emperor expressly forbade putting any of them to death, "lest," to quote his very words, "we should be found doing ourselves the very things of which we accuse them." Another man to be called to account was Lucius Priscillianus, who was accused by the senate itself, a man notorious alike for his insolent behaviour and for his killing of wild beasts. For he often fought with them, always in large numbers, at Tusculum, so that he bore the scars of their bites, and once unassisted he joined battle with a bear, a panther, a lioness, and a lion all at the same time; but far more numerous than the wild beasts were the men, both knights and p389senators, that he destroyed by his false charges. On both these accounts he had been highly honoured by Caracallus, and had become governor of Achaia, in violation of precedent; but he incurred the violent hatred of the senate, was summoned for trial, and was confined upon an island. These men, then, were punished as described.

22 Flaccus was put in charge of the distribution of provisions, an office which Manilius had formerly held after obtaining it as a reward for his false accusation of Flaccus. And this distribution was henceforward discontinued?, together with the distribution of presents, which regularly took place at the games given by the major praetors, except those celebrated in honour of Flora; also the iuridici, who administered justice in Italy, ceased rendering decisions beyond the limits established by Marcus. A certain Domitius Florus, who formerly had been keeper of the senate records and should by right have been aedile next, but had, then, before he could enter on the office, been deprived of all hope of it because of Plautianus, now recovered his standing, thanks to the vigorous canvassing of his followers, and was appointed tribune. Anicius Faustus was sent to govern Asia in place of Asper. The latter had at first obtained very great honour from Macrinus, who thought that he could re-establish order in Asia; but later, when he was already on his way and was nearing his province (for Macrinus had not p391accepted his request for retirement which had been made to Caracallus and referred to him), Macrinus offered him a terrible affront by rejecting him. For reports came to him that Asper had made some improper remarks, and so, as though Asper had asked to be relieved a second time because of his age and illness, he assigned Asia to Faustus, though this man had been overlooked in the order of allotment by Severus; and since his time in office was going to be short, he ordered him to continue to govern for the following year also, in place of Aufidius Fronto. To Fronto he would entrust neither Africa, which he had drawn by lot, since the Africans protested against his appointment, nor yet Asia, though he had at first transferred him to that province. As for the salary, however, that went with the position, — one million sesterces, — he proposed that that should be given to Fronto while he remained at home. Fronto, however, would not accept the salary, saying that it was not money but a governorship that he wanted; and accordingly he later received the province from Sardanapalus.

Besides these arrangements . . . . . . . . . . to the orphans who were being supported in the hope . . . . from the . . ., to the age of military service. 23 Now Julia, the mother of Tarautas, chanced to be in Antioch, and at the first information of her son's death she was so affected that she deal herself a violent blow and tried to starve herself to death. Thus she mourned, now that he was dead, the very man whom she had hated while he lived; yet it was not because she wished that he were alive, but because she was vexed at having to return to private life. This led her to indulge in much bitter abuse p393of Macrinus. 2 Then, as no change was made in her royal retinue or in the guard of Pretorians in attendance upon her, and the new emperor sent her a kindly message, although he had heard what she had said, she took courage, 3 put aside her desire for death, and without writing him any reply, began intriguing with the soldiers she had about her, who were mutinous to begin with, were very fond of her, and were angry with Macrinus, and consequently held her son in pleasanter remembrance; for she hoped to become sole ruler and make herself the equal of Semiramis and Nitocris, inasmuch as she came in a sense from the same parts as they. But as . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . letters . . . . . . . . . . of Macrinus . . . . . . . . . . some for which . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . opinion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . fearing she might be deprived of the title of Augusta and be forced to return to her native country and . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . of Macrinus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . of seeming to do the opposite . . . . . . . . . . . . . how . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . might go . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . when he ordered her to leave Antioch as soon as possible and go whithersoever p395she wished, and she heard, moreover, what was said in Rome about her son, she no longer cared to live, but hastened her death by refusing food, though one might say she was already in a dying condition by reason of the cancer of the breast that she had had for a very long time; it had, however, been quiescent until, on the occasion referred to, she had inflamed it by the blow with which she had smitten her breast on hearing of her son's death.

24 And so this woman, sprung from the people and raised to a high station, who had lived her husband's reign in great unhappiness because of Plautianus, who had beheld her younger son slain in her own bosom and had always from first to last borne ill will toward her elder son while he lived, and finally had received such tidings of his assassination, fell from power during her lifetime and thereupon destroyed herself. Hence no one could, in the light of her career, regard as happy each and all who attain great power, unless some genuine and unalloyed pleasure in life and unmixed and lasting good fortune is theirs. This, then, was the fate of Julia. Her body was brought to Rome and placed in the tomb of Gaius and Lucius. Later, however, both her bones and those of Geta were transferred by her sister Maesa to the precinct of Antoninus.

25 Macrinus was not destined to live long, either, as, indeed, it had been foretold to him. For a mule gave birth to a mule in Rome and a sow to a little pig with four ears, two tongues, and eight p397feet, a great earthquake occurred, blood flowed from a pipe, and bees formed honeycomb in the forum Boarium. 2 The hunting theatre was struck by thunderbolts on the very day of the Vulcanalia, and such a blaze followed that its entire upper circuit and everything in the arena was consumed, and thereupon the rest of the structure was ravaged by the flames and reduced to ruins. Neither human aid could avail against the conflagration, though practically every aqueduct was emptied, nor could the downpour from the sky, which was most heavy and violent, accomplish anything — to such an extent was the water from both sources consumed by the power of the thunderbolts, and, in fact, actually contributed in a measure to the damage done. In consequence of this disaster the gladiatorial show was held in the stadium for many years. This, then, gave an indication beforehand of what was to be. There were numerous other fires, it is true, during Macrinus' reign, and in particular property belonging to the emperor was burned, a thing which in itself has always been regarded as of ill omen; but the conflagration described seemed to have a direct bearing upon the emperor, since it had also put an end to the horse-race in honour of Vulcan. This accordingly gave rise to the conjecture that something out of the ordinary was happening, as did also the behaviour on that same day of the Tiber, which rose until it invaded the Forum and the neighbouring streets with such violence as to p399sweep even people away. And a woman, as I have heard, grim and gigantic, was seen by certain persons and declared that these disasters were insignificant in comparison to what was destined to befall them. 26 And so it proved; for the evil was not confined to the city alone, but laid hold upon the whole world that was under its dominion, with whose inhabitants the theatre was regularly filled. For, in the first place, the Romans were defeated and gave up their war against the barbarians, and, in the second place, they suffered severely from the greed and strife of the soldiers. How both these things came about will now be related.

Macrinus, perceiving that Artabanus was exceedingly angry because of the way he had been treated and that he had invaded Mesopotamia with a large force, at first of his own accord sent him the captives and a friendly message, urging him to accept peace and laying the blame for the past upon Tarautas. But Artabanus would not entertain this proposal and further more bade him rebuild the forts and the demolished cities, abandon Mesopotamia entirely, and make reparation for the injury done to the royal tombs as well as for other damage. For, trusting in the large force that he had gathered and despising Macrinus as an unworthy emperor, he gave free rein to his wrath and hoped even without the Roman's consent to accomplish whatever he desired. Macrinus had no opportunity even for deliberation, but encountering him as he was already approaching Nisibis, was defeated in a battle that was begun by p401the soldiers in a struggle over the water supply while they were encamped opposite each other. And he came near losing his very camp; but the armour-bearers and baggage-carriers who happened to be there saved it. For in their confidence these rushed out first and charged upon the barbarians, and the very unexpectedness of their opposition proved an advantage to them, causing them to appear to be armed soldiers rather than mere helpers. But . . . . . . . . . . . . . . both then not . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . the night . . . . . . . . . . . . . . the legions? . . . . . . . . . . and the Romans . . . . . . . . . . . . and the enemy the noise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . of them . . . . . . . . . . . . . . suspected . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . them . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . the Romans . . . . of the barbarians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . overcome by their numbers and by the flight of Macrinus, became dejected and were conquered. And as a result . . . . . . Mesopotamia, especially . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Syria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . These were the events that took place at that time; and in the autumn and winter, during which Macrinus and Adventus became consuls, they no longer came to blows with each other, but kept sending envoys and heralds back and forth until p403they reached an agreement. 27 For Macrinus, both because of his natural cowardice (for, being a Moor, he was exceedingly timorous) and because of the soldiers' lack of discipline, did not dare to fight the war out, but instead expended enormous sums in the form of gifts as well as money, which he presented both to Artabanus himself and to the powerful men around him, the entire outlay amounting to two hundred million sesterces. And the Parthia was not loath to come to terms, both for this reason and because his troops were exceedingly restive, due to their having been kept away from home an unusually long time as well as to the scarcity of food; for they had no food supplies available, either from stores previously made ready, or from the country itself, inasmuch as the food either had been destroyed or else was in the forts. Macrinus, however, did not forward a full account of all their arrangements to the senate, and consequently sacrifices of victory were voted in his honour and the name of Parthicus was bestowed upon him. But this he declined, being ashamed, apparently, to take a title from an enemy by whom he had been defeated.

Moreover, the warfare carried on against the Armenian king, to which I have referred, now came to an end, after Tiridates had accepted the crown sent him by Macrinus and received back his mother (whom Tarautas had imprisoned for eleven months) together with the booty captured in Armenia, and also entertained hopes of obtaining all the territory that his father had possessed in Cappadocia as well p405as the annual payment that had been made by the Romans. And the Dacians, after ravaging portions of Dacia and showing an eagerness for further war, now desisted, when they got back the hostages that Caracallus, under the name of an alliance, had taken from them.

28 In addition to these events, a new war burst upon the Romans, and this time not a foreign conflict but civil strife; for the soldiers were becoming turbulent. They were angered by their reverses, for one thing, but, more important still, they would no longer submit to any hardship if they could help it, but were thoroughly out of training in every respect and wanted to have no emperor who ruled them with a firm hand, but demanded that they should receive everything without limit while deigning to perform no task that was worthy of them. They were further angered by the withdrawal of prizes and exemption from military duties which they had gained from Tarautas, even though they would not themselves derive any benefit from these privileges; and the long sojourn that they made in practically one and the same spot while wintering in Syria on account of the war strengthened them in their purpose. Macrinus, indeed, seemed to have shown good generalship and discretion in that he took away no privilege from the men already under arms but preserved to them intact all the privileges established by his predecessor, while at the same time he gave notice to those who intended to enlist in future that they would be enrolled on the old terms fixed by Severus. For he hoped that these new recruits, entering the army a few at a time, would refrain from rebellion, at p407first through peaceful inclination and fear, and later through the influence of time and habit, and that the others, inasmuch as they were losing nothing themselves, would remain quiet. 29 Now if this had only been done after the troops had retired to their several fortresses and were thus scattered, it would have been a wise measure. For perhaps some of them would not have felt any indignation at all, believing that they were really not going to suffer the loss of any privileges themselves, inasmuch as they had experienced nothing of the sort immediately; and even if they had been vexed, yet, each body being few in number and under the command of the governors sent out by the senate, they could have done no great harm. But, united as they now were in Syria, they suspected, on the one head, that innovations would be made affecting them, too, if they should once be scattered (for they thought they were being pampered for the time being on account of the demands of the war), and, again, they were exasperated because of their defeat; and thus they caused greater harm to the State than the Parthians themselves (?). For, while the Parthians killed a few soldiers and ravaged portions of Mesopotamia, these men cut down many of their own number and also overthrew their emperor; and, with is still worse than that, they set up a successor just like him, one by whom nothing was done that was not evil and base.

30 It seems to me that this also had been indicated in advance as clearly as any event that ever happened. For a very distinct eclipse of the sun occurred just before that time and the comet was seen for a considerable period; also another star, whose tail p409extended from the west to the east for several nights, caused us terrible alarm, so that this verse of Homer's was ever on our lips:

"Rang the vast welkin with clarion calls, and Zeus heard the tumult."

These things came about in the following manner.

2 Maesa, the sister of Julia Augusta, had two daughters, Soaemis and Mamaea, by her husband Julius Avitus, an ex-consul. She had also two grandsons. One was Avitus, the son of Soaemis and Varius Marcellus, a man of the same race (for he was from Apamea, her own native city), who had held various procuratorships and had been enrolled in the senate, and later had died. 3 The other was Bassianus, the son of Mamaea and Gessius Marcianus, who was also a Syrian from the city of Arca, and had been appointed to various procuratorships. Maesa was living at home in Emesa, now that her sister Julia, with whom she had lived during the entire period of the latter's reign, had perished. 4 For Avitus, who after his governorship of Asia had been sent by Caracallus from Mesopotamia to Cyprus as adviser to a governor appointed by the senate, had died from old age and sickness. But . . the . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . of him . . . . . . died, 31 a certain Eutychianus, who had given people pleasure in amusements and gymnastic exercises, and for that reason . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . who . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p411and becoming aware of the strong dislike of the soldiers for Macrinus . . . . . . . . . (for both . . . . not . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and the . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . camp (?) . . . . . . . . . . ever . . . . . . . . . .) and partly persuaded year the Sun-god, whom they call Elagabalus and worship devotedly, and also by some other oracular utterances, he undertook to overthrow Macrinus and to set up as emperor in his stead Avitus, Maesa's grandson, who was still a mere boy. And he accomplished both purposes, though he himself had not as yet fully reached manhood, and though he had as helpers only a few freedmen and soldiers and six (?) men of the equestrian order and senators of Emesa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pretending that he was a natural son of Tarautas and dressing him in clothing which the latter had worn as a child. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and brought him into the camp at night, without the knowledge of either his mother or his grandmother, and at dawn on the sixteenth of May persuaded the soldiers, who were eager to get an excuse for an uprising, to revolt. Julianus, the prefect, on learning of this (for he happened to be at no great distance) slew both a daughter and son-in‑law of Marcianus, along with some others, 34 and then, after collecting as many of the remaining soldiers as he could in the short time at his disposal, p413he attacked the camp as if it had been the most hostile fortress. 32 And though he might have captured it that very day (for the Moors who had been sent to Tarautas in fulfilment of the terms of the alliance fought most valiantly for Macrinus, as he was a fellow-countryman of theirs, and even broke through some of the gates), yet he refused the opportunity, either because he was afraid to rush in or because he expected to be able to induce the men inside to surrender voluntarily. When, however, no one made overtures to him and they furthermore built up all the gates during the night, he again attacked them, but accomplished nothing. For they carried Avitus, whom they were already styling Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, round about upon the ramparts, and exhibited some likenesses of Caracallus when a child as bearing some resemblance to the boy, at the same time declaring that the latter was truly Caracallus' son, and the only rightful heir to the throne. "Why do you do this, fellow-soldiers?" they exclaimed, "Why do you thus fight against your benefactor's son?" By this means they corrupted all the soldiers who were with Julianus, the more so as these were eager to revolt, so that the assailants slew their commanders, with the exception of Julianus, who escaped in flight, and surrendered themselves and their arms to the False Antoninus. For when an attempt to restrain them was made by their centurions and the other under-officers and p415they were consequently hesitating, Eutychianus sent Festus (for thus one of the imperial freedmen had been named after the cubicularius of Tarautas) and persuaded them to kill all those officers, offering as a prize to each soldier who should slay his man the victim's property and his position in the army. The boy also harangued them from the wall with words that had been put into his mouth, praising his father, as he already styled him, and . . Macrinus as . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 those who had been sentenced . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . those who had deserted the army . . . to be restored to their original property and civil status. But the most effective means by which he attached them to himself was his promise to give a . . . and to restore the exiles, an act which was calculated to make him appear in truth the legitimate descendant of Tarautas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p417Marcianus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Macrinus . . . (for Marcellus was dead), he put this man to death; but, lacking courage to proceed further on his own responsibility without Macrinus, he sent for the emperor. So Macrinus came speedily to the Alban troops at Apamea and appointed his son emperor, though the boy was only in his tenth year, in order that he might have this as an excuse for courting the favour of the soldiers in various ways, especially by the promise of twenty thousand sesterces apiece; and he distributed to them four thousand apiece on the spot, and also restored to the others their full rations and everything else of which he had previously deprived them, hoping to appease them by these measures. With this same end in view, he bestowed on the populace a dinner costing six hundred sesterces per man, before revealing to them anything about the uprising; for he wished it to be thought that he was banqueting them, not because of that situation, but to show honour to his son. While he was thus engaged, one of the revolted soldiers approached him carrying the head of Julianus (who had been found somewhere in hiding and slain) wrapped in many cloths and tied up very firmly with cords, pretending that it was the head of the False Antoninus, — in fact, it was sealed with the signet-ring of Julianus; than the soldier ran out while the head was being uncovered. Macrinus, on discovering the truth of the matter, no longer dared either to remain where he was or to make an assault upon the camp, but returned to Antioch with all p419speed. Accordingly, both the Alban legion and the other troops that were wintering in that region also revolted. And now each side was making its preparations against the other and sending rival messengers and letters to the provinces and to the legions, in consequence of which no little perturbation was caused in many places by the first communication of a side about the other and by the constant messages that contradicted one another. Thus it came about that many of the courtiers who had slain the adherent of Antoninus or had not immediately attached themselves to their cause were accused, some losing their lives in consequence and others incurring other penalties. Most of the incidents I shall omit, as they are all very much alike and their details have no particular importance; but I will mention in summary fashion the course of events in Egypt.

35 The governor of Egypt was Basilianus, whom Macrinus had also made prefect in place of Julianus. Some interests were also managed by Marius Secundus, although he had been appointed senator by Macrinus and was at the head of affairs in Phoenicia. In this way both of them were attached to Macrinus and consequently they put to death the couriers of the False Antoninus. As long, now, as affairs remained in uncertainty, both they and the soldiers, and also the civilians, were likewise in suspense, some of them wishing, praying for, and reporting one thing, and others the opposite, as always happens in factional strife. But when the news of Macrinus' defeat arrived, violent strife broke out in which many of the populace and not a few of the soldiers p421perished. Secundus was at his wits' end; and Basilianus, fearing that he should lose his life at once, fled from Egypt, but, after reaching the neighbourhood of Brundisium in Italy, he was discovered, having been betrayed by a friend in Rome to whom he had sent secretly asking for food. He was later taken back to Nicomedeia and slain.

36 Macrinus wrote also to the senate about the False Antoninus in the same strain as he did to the governors everywhere, calling him a boy and claiming that he was mad. He wrote a letter also to Maximus, the prefect of the city, in which, after mentioning various matters of a routine nature, he stated that even the newly-enlisted soldiers insisted on receiving everything that others had been getting, and that these others, who head not been deprived of anything, made common cause with the new recruits in their anger at what was being withheld from them. And, to omit a recital, he said, of all the many means devised by Severus and his son for the undermining of military discipline, it was impossible, on the one hand, to give the troops their full pay in addition to the donatives that they were receiving (for the increase in their pay granted by Tarautas amounted to two hundred and eighty million sesterces annually), and impossible, on the other hand, not to give it, partly because . . . . . . . . . that . . . . . . . . . . . . . just . . . . . . . . . . . . . . but the customary expenditures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and the public . . . . . . . . . . . . . military . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ruin . . . . . . . . . . could . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p423boy as . . . . . . . . . . . . . and upon himself . . . . . . . . . . . . himself . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and he bewailed his lot in that he had a son, but said that he found it a solace in his misfortune to have outlived the fratricide who had attempted to destroy the whole world. Then he added in his letter something to the following effect: "I realize that there are many who are more eager to see an emperor killed than they are to live themselves. But this I do not say with reference to myself, that anyone could either desire or pray that I should perish." At which Fulvius Diogenianus exclaimed: "We have all prayed for it."

37 The man mentioned was one of the ex-consuls, but decidedly not of sound mind, and consequently he gave little satisfaction either to himself or to anyone else. He also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . the subscription . . . . . . letter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and to the . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . leather . . . . . . . . to read . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and those . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . both others and . . . . . . . . . . be sent to . . . . . . . . . . . . . . directly . . . . . . . . . . . . published . . . . . . . . . . hesitating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . having ordered . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and both to others . . . . . . foremost to the . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . any care for the common preserver . . . . . . . . . . . . . . this . . . . . . . . . . . . . . letter (?) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p425because the False Antoninus, having found . in the chest of Macrinus not yet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . he himself voluntarily . . . . . . published . . . . . . . . . . calumny . . . . . making with reference to the soldiers. And he marched so rapidly against him that Macrinus could only with difficulty engage him at a village of the Antiochians, twenty-four miles distant from the city. There, so far as the zeal of the Pretorians went, he conquered (he had taken away their breastplates of scale-armour and their grooved shields and had thus rendered them lighter for battle); but he was defeated by his own cowardice, as indeed Heaven had foreshown to him. For on that day when his first letter about the imperial office had been read to us a pigeon had alighted on an image of Severus (whose name he had applied to himself) that stood in the senate-chamber; and later, when he sent the communication about his son, we had convened, not at the bidding of the consuls or the praetors (for they did not happen to be present), but of the tribunes, — a practice which in the course of time had fallen largely into disuse. Further more, he had not even written his sons name in the preface to the letter, though he termed him both Caesar and emperor and made it clear at the outset that the contains emanated from them both; and in his recital of events he mentioned the name Diadumenianus, but left out that of Antoninus, though the boy had this title, too. So much for these matters. 38 And what was more, when he sent p427word about the uprising of the False Antoninus, the consuls uttered certain formulae against the usurper, as is regularly done in such cases, and one of the praetors and one of the tribunes did the same. War was declared and solemnly proclaimed against not only the usurper and his cousin but also against their mothers and their grandmother, and immunity was granted to those who had joined him in the uprising, in case of their submission, even as Macrinus had promised them. For his remarks to the soldiers were read; and because of them we all condemned still more strongly his abasement and his folly. In particular, he constantly called himself "father" and Diadumenianus his "son," and kept holding up to reproach the youth of the False Antoninus, though he had appointed as emperor his own son, who was much younger.

Now in the battle Gannys made haste to occupy the pass in front of the village and drew up his troops in good order for fighting, in spite of the fact that he was utterly without experience in military affairs and had spent his life in luxury. But of such great assistance is good fortune in all situations alike that it actually bestows understanding upon the ignorant. His army, however, made a very weak fight, and the men would never have stood their ground, had not Maesa and Soaemis, who were already with the boy, leaped down from their chariots and rushing among the fleeing men restrained them from further flight by their lamentations, and had not the lad himself been seen by them p429dashing along on horseback, with drawn sword, — that same sword with which he had girded himself, — in a headlong rush that seemed divinely inspired, as if about to charge the enemy. Even so they would again have turned their backs, had not Macrinus fled when he saw them offering resistance.

39 Macrinus, after being thus defeated on the eighth day of June, sent his son in charge of Epagathus and some other attendants to Artabanus, king of the Parthians, while he himself entered Antioch, representing that he had conquered, so that he might be received there. Then, when the news of his defeat became noised abroad, and many were being slain both along the roads and in the city on the ground that they had favoured this side or that, he fled from this place also. He left by night on horseback, having first shaved his head and how whole chin, and wearing a dark garment over his purple robe, in order that he might, so far as possible, resemble an ordinary citizen. In this manner he reached Aegae in Cilicia with a few companions, and there, by pretending to be one of the soldiers employed as couriers, he secured a carriage in which he drove through Cappadocia, Galatia, and Bithynia as far as Eribolon, the harbour that lies over again the city of Nicomedeia. It was his intention to make his way back to Rome, in the expectation that there he could gain some assistance from the senate and from the people. And if he had escaped thither, he would certainly have accomplished something; for the disposition of the people there was becoming p431decidedly more favourable toward him, in view of the effrontery of the Syrians, the youth of the False Antoninus, and the arbitrary course of Gannys and Comazon, so that even the soldiers either would have voluntarily changed their minds, or, refusing to do so, would have been overpowered. But this was not to be. Though none of the people through whom he had thus far passed had ventured to lay hands upon him, even if he was recognized, his fortune now changed. For on sailing from Eribolon for Chalcedon (he did not dare to enter Nicomedeia, for fear of the governor of Bithynia, Caecilius Aristo), he sent to one of the procurators asking for money, and becoming known in this way, he was seized while still in Chalcedon; and on the arrival of those who had been sent by the False Antoninus in order that he might now at any rate be put out of the way, he was arrested by Aurelius Celsus, a centurion, and taken as far as Cappadocia like the commonest criminal. 40 Learning there that his son also had been captured (he had been arrested by Claudius Pollio, the centurion of the legion, while riding through Zeugma, where in the course of a previous journey he had been declared Caesar), he threw himself from the conveyance (for he had not been bound), and at the time suffered merely a fracture of the shoulder; but, a little later, having been sentenced to die before entering Antioch, he was slain by Marcianus Taurus, a centurion, and his body remained unburied until the False Antoninus, on his way from Syria to Bithynia, had gloated over it.

Thus Macrinus, though an old man (he was fifty-four p433years of age lacking some three or five months) and distinguished for his practical experience of affairs, a man who displayed signs of excellence and commanded so many legions, was overthrown by a mere boy of whose very name he had previously been ignorant, — as, indeed, the oracle had foretold to him; for upon his consulting the oracle of Zeus Belus the god had answered him:

"Truly indeed, old man, young warriors sorely best thee,
Spent is thy force, and grievous old age is coming upon thee."

And so fleeing . . rather than conquered . . he made off like a runaway slave through the provinces that he had ruled, and was arrested like some robber by the first comer; he beheld himself guarded together with the most despised malefactors, the very man before whom many senators had often been brought for trial; he was condemned to die, though possessing the authority to punish or to release any Roman whomsoever; and he was arrested and beheaded by centurions, though he had authority to put to death both them and others, whether of lower or higher station. And his son, too, perished after him.

41 Thus it is that no one, even of those who seem the strongest, is sure of his power, but the exceeding prosperous are, equally with the rest, unstable. This man, now, might have been praised above all men, if he had not set his heart upon becoming p435emperor himself, but had selected some man belonging to the senate and had declared him emperor; only in this way could he have avoided blame for the plot against Caracallus and showed that he had done the deed in order to secure his own safety and not because of his desire for the rule. But instead of taking such a course, he brought discredit and destruction alike upon himself, so that he became the object of reproach and fell a victim to a disaster that was richly deserved. For, having grasped at the supreme power before he had even the title of senator, he lost it most speedily and disastrously, after ruling only a year and two months, lacking three days, reckoning the time to the date of the battle.


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