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Part 1

This webpage reproduces part of the
Historia Augusta

published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1932

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!


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Part 3

(Vol. III) Historia Augusta

p223 The Life of Aurelian
Part 2

16 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam So then, raised to a high position by these many expressions of approval and these rewards, Aurelian became so illustrious during the time of Claudius58 that, after this emperor's death and the murder of his brother Quintillus,59 he alone received the imperial power; for Aureolus, with whom Gallienus had made peace, had been put to death. 2 Concerning this matter there is great diversity of opinion among the historians, even among the Greeks, for some say that Aureolus was killed by Aurelian against Claudius' will,60 others that it was by his p225command and desire, others again that he was killed by Aurelian after assuming the imperial power, and still others that it was while he was yet a commoner. 3 But these things, too, we shall leave undiscussed, to be learned from those who have put them in writing. 4 This much, however, is agreed among all, namely, that the Deified Claudius entrusted the whole conduct of the war against the Maeotidae61 to no one in preference to Aurelian.

17 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam There is still in existence a letter, which, for the sake of accuracy, as is my wont, or rather because I see that other writers of annals have done so, I have thought I should insert: 2 "From Flavius Claudius to his dear Valerius62 Aurelian greeting: Our commonwealth demands of you your wonted services. Up then! Why this delay? I wish the soldiers to reap the benefit of your command, the tribunes of your leadership. The Goths must be crushed, they must be driven from Thrace. For large numbers of them are ravaging Haemimontum63 and Europe, those very ones who fled when you fought against them. 3 I now place under your command all the armies in Thrace, all in Illyricum, and, in fact, the whole frontier; come now, show us your wonted prowess. My brother Quintillus, as soon as he meets you, will also give you his aid. 4 Busied as I am with other tasks, I am entrusting to your valour the whole of this war. I am sending you, moreover, ten horses, two cuirasses, and all else which necessity bids me equip one going out to fight."

5 So, making use of success won in battles fought under Claudius' auspices, he brought back the empire p227to its previous condition and was at once, as we have related before, declared emperor by the unanimous vote of all the legions.64

18 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Aurelian, in fact, commanded all the cavalry before he received the power and while Claudius was still ruling, after the leaders of the horse had incurred reproach for having fought rashly and without the Emperor's orders.65

2 Aurelian, too, during that same time, fought with the greatest vigour against the Suebi66 and the Sarmatians67 and won a most splendid victory.68 3 Under him, it is true, a disaster was inflicted by the Marcomanni69 as the result of his blunder. For, while he was making no plan to meet them face to face during a sudden invasion, but was preparing to pursue them from the rear, they wrought great devastation in all the region around Milan. Later on, however, he conquered even the Marcomanni also.

4 During that panic, moreover, while the Marcomanni were devastating far and wide, great revolts arose at Rome,70 for all were afraid that what had happened p229under Gallienus71 might occur once more. 5 Therefore they even consulted the Sibylline Books, famed for their benefits to the State, and in these it was found that sacrifices should be made in certain places, which the barbarians then would not be able to pass. 6 And so all those measures which were ordered were carried out with divers kinds of ceremonies, and thus the barbarians were checked, all of whom, as they wandered about in small divisions, Aurelian later destroyed.72

7 It is my desire to give in full the text of the senate's decree73 itself, in which the authority of that most illustrious body ordained that the Books should be consulted:

19 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam On the third day before the Ides of January Fulvius Sabinus,74 the city-praetor, spoke as follows: "We bring before you, Conscript Fathers, the recommendation of the pontiffs and a message from Aurelian our prince, bidding us consult the Books of Fate, in which, by the sacred command of the gods, are contained our hopes of ending the war. 2 For you yourselves are aware that, whenever any serious commotion arose, they were always consulted, and that never have the public ills been brought to an end until there issued from them the command to make sacrifice." 3 Then Ulpius Silanus, whose right it was to give his opinion first, arose and spoke as follows: "It is over late, Conscript Fathers, for us to be consulted now concerning the safety of the commonwealth, and over late for us to look to the commands of Fate, even as do the sick who do not send for the greatest physicians save when in the greatest despair, exactly as though more skilful men must needs give p231a more certain cure, whereas it were better far to meet every disease at the outset. 4 For you remember, Conscript Fathers, that I often said in this body, when the invasion of the Marcomanni was first announced, that we should consult the commands of the Sibyl, make use of the benefits of Apollo, and submit ourselves to the bidding of the immortal gods; but some objected, and objected, too, with cruel guile, saying in flattery that such was the valour of the Emperor Aurelian that there was no need to consult the deities, just as though that great man does not himself revere the gods and found his hopes on the dwellers in Heaven. 5 Why say more? We have heard his message asking the help of the gods, which never causes shame to any. Now let this most courageous man receive our assistance. 6 Therefore come, ye pontiffs, and do ye, pure and cleansed and holy, attired as is meet and with spirits sanctified, ascend to the temple, deck the benches with laurel, and with veiled hands unroll the volumes, and inquire into the fate of the commonwealth, that fate which is unchanging. And finally, do ye also enjoin a sacred song upon those boys who may lawfully aid in the ceremonies.75 We, for our part, will decree the money to be expended for the sacred rites and all that is needful for the sacrifices, and we will proclaim for the fields the festival of the Ambarvalia."76 20Legamen ad paginam Latinam After this speech many of the senators were asked for their opinions and gave them, but these it would be too long to include. 2 Then, while some raised their p233hands and others went on foot to give their votes and others again expressed their assent in words, the senate's decree was enacted. 3 Then they went to the temple, consulted the Books, brought forth the verses, purified the city, chanted the hymns, celebrated the Amburbium,77 and proclaimed the Ambarvalia, and thus the sacred ceremony which was commanded was carried out.

4 Aurelian's letter concerning the Sibylline Books — for I have included it also as evidence for my statements: 5 "I marvel, revered Fathers, that you have hesitated for so long a time to open the Sibylline Books, just as though you were consulting in a gathering of Christians and not in the temple of all the gods. 6 Come, therefore, and by means of the purity of the pontiffs and the sacred ceremonies bring aid to your prince who is harassed by the plight of the commonwealth. 7 Let the Books be consulted; let all that should be done be performed; whatever expenses are needful, whatever captives of any race, whatever princely animals, I will not refuse, but will offer them gladly, for it is not an unseemly thing to win victories by the aid of the gods. It was with this that our ancestors brought many wars to an end and with this that they began them. 8 Whatever costs there may be I have ordered to be paid by the prefect of the treasury, to whom I have sent a letter. You have, moreover, under your own control the money-chest of the State, which I find more full than were my desire."

21 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Aurelian, however, since he wished, by massing his forces together, to meet all the enemy at once, suffered such a defeat near Placentia78 that the empire of Rome was almost destroyed. 2 This p235peril, in fact, was caused by the cunning and perfidy of the barbarians' mode of attack. 3 For, being unable to meet him in open battle, they fell back into the thickest forests, and thus as evening came on they routed our forces. 4 And, indeed, if the power of the gods, after the Books had been consulted and the sacrifices performed, had not confounded the barbarians by means of certain prodigies and heaven-sent visions, there would have been no victory for Rome.

5 When the war with the Marcomanni was ended, Aurelian, over-violent by nature, and now filled with rage, advanced to Rome eager for the revenge which the bitterness of the revolts had prompted.79 Though at other times a most excellent man, he did, in fact, employ his power too much like a tyrant, for in slaying the leaders of the revolts he used too bloody a method of checking what should have been cured by milder means. 6 For he even killed some senators of noble birth,80 though the charges against them were trivial and could have been held in disdain by a more lenient prince, and they were attested either by a single witness or by one who was himself trivial or held in but little esteem. 7 Why say more? By the blow of a graver ill-repute he then marred that rule which had previously been great and of which high hopes were cherished, and not without reason. 8 Then men ceased to love and began to fear an excellent prince, some asserting that such an emperor should be hated and not desired, others that he was a good physician indeed, but the methods he used for healing were bad. 9 Then, since all that happened made it p237seem possible that some such thing might occur again, as had happened under Gallienus, after asking advice from the senate, he extended the walls of the city of Rome.81 The pomerium,82 however, he did not extend at that time, but later. 10 For no emperor may extend the pomerium save one who has added to the empire of Rome some portion of foreign territory. 11 It was, indeed, extended by Augustus, by Trajan, and by Nero, under whom the districts of Pontus Polemoniacus83 and the Cottian Alps84 were brought under the sway of Rome.

22 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam And so, having arranged for all that had to do with the fortifications and the general state of the city and with civil affairs as a whole, he directed his march against the Palmyrenes, or rather against Zenobia, who, in the name of her sons, was wielding the imperial power in the East.85 2 On this march he ended many great wars of various kinds. For in p239Thrace and Illyricum he defeated the barbarians86 who came against him, and on the other side of the Danube he even slew the leader of the Goths, Cannabas, or Cannabaudes as he is also called, and with him five thousand men. 3 From there he crossed over by way of Byzantium into Bithynia, and took possession of it without a struggle.87 4 Many were the great and famous things that he said and did, but we cannot include them all in our book without causing a surfeit, nor, indeed, do we wish to do so, but for the better understanding of his character and valour a few of them must be selected. 5 For instance, when he came to Tyana88 and found its gates closed against him, he became enraged and exclaimed, it is said: "In this town I will not leave even a dog alive." 6 Then, indeed, the soldiers, in the hope of plunder, pressed on with greater vigour, but a certain Heraclammon, fearing that he would be killed along with the rest, betrayed his native-place, and so the city was captured. 23Legamen ad paginam Latinam Aurelian, however, with the true spirit of an emperor, at once performed two notable deeds, one of which showed his severity, the other his leniency. 2 For, like a wise victor, he put to death Heraclammon, the betrayer of his native-place, and when the soldiers clamoured for the destruction of the city in accordance with the words in which he had declared that he would not leave a dog alive in Tyana, he answered them, saying: "I did, indeed, declare that I would not leave a dog alive in this city; well, then, kill all the dogs." 3 Notable, indeed, were the prince's words, but more p241notable still was the deed of the soldiers; for the entire army, just as though it were gaining riches thereby, took up the prince's jest, by which both booty was denied them and the city preserved intact.89

4 The letter concerning Heraclammon: "From Aurelian Augustus to Mallius Chilo.90 I have suffered the man to be put to death by whose kindness, as it were, I recovered Tyana. But never have I been able to love a traitor and I was pleased that the soldiers killed him; for he who spared not his native city would not have been able to keep faith with me. 5 He, indeed, is the only one of all who opposed me that the earth now holds. The fellow was rich, I cannot deny it, but the property I have restored to the children of him to whom it belonged, that no one may charge me with having permitted a man who was rich to be slain for the sake of his money."

24 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam The city, moreover, was captured in a wonderful way. For after Heraclammon had shown Aurelian a place where the ground sloped upward by nature in the form of a siege-mound, up which he could climb in full attire, the emperor ascended there, and holding aloft his purple cloak he showed himself to the towns-folk within and the soldiers without, and so the city was captured, just as though Aurelian's entire army had been within the walls.

2 We must not omit one event which enhances the fame of a venerated man. 3 For, it is said, Aurelian did indeed truly speak and truly think of destroying the city of Tyana; but Apollonius of Tyana,91 a sage of the greatest renown and authority, a philosopher of former days, the true friend of the gods, and himself even to be regarded as a supernatural being, as Aurelian was withdrawing to his tent, suddenly p243appeared to him in the form in which he is usually portrayed, and spoke to him as follows, using Latin in order that he might be understood by a man from Pannonia: 4 "Aurelian, if you wish to conquer, there is no reason why you should plan the death of my fellow-citizens. Aurelian, if you wish to rule, abstain from the blood of the innocent. Aurelian, act with mercy if you wish to live long." 5 Aurelian recognized the countenance of the venerated philosopher, and, in fact, he had seen his portrait in many a temple. 6 And so, at once stricken with terror, he promised him a portrait and statues and a temple, and returned to his better self. 7 This incident I have learned from trustworthy men and read over again in the books in the Ulpian Library, and I have been the more ready to believe it because of the reverence in which Apollonius is held. 8 For who among men has ever been more venerated, more revered, more renowned, or more holy than that very man? He brought the dead back to life, he said and did many things beyond the power of man. If any one should wish to learn these, let him read the Greek books which have been composed concerning his life.92 9 I myself, moreover, if the length of my life shall permit and the plan shall continue to meet with his favour, will put into writing the deeds of this great man, even though it be briefly, not because his achievements need the tribute of my discourse, but in order that these wondrous things may be proclaimed by the voice of every man.

25 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam After thus recovering Tyana, Aurelian, by means of a brief engagement near Daphne,93 gained p245possession of Antioch, having promised forgiveness to all; and thereupon, obeying, as far as is known, the injunctions of that venerated man, Apollonius, he acted with greater kindness and mercy. 2 After this, the whole issue of the war was decided near Emesa in a mighty battle fought against Zenobia and Zaba,94 her ally. 3 When Aurelian's horsemen, now exhausted, were on the point of breaking their ranks and turning their backs, suddenly by the power of a supernatural agency, as was afterwards made known, a divine form spread encouragement throughout the foot-soldiers and rallied even the horsemen. Zenobia and Zaba were put to flight, and a victory was won in full. 4 And so, having reduced the East to its former state, Aurelian entered Emesa as a conqueror, and at once made his way to the Temple of Elagabalus,95 to pay his vows as if by a duty common to all. 5 But there he beheld that same divine form which he had seen supporting his cause in the battle. 6 Wherefore he not only established temples there, dedicating gifts of great value, but he also built a temple to the Sun at Rome, which he consecrated with still greater pomp, as we shall relate in the proper place.96

26 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam After this he directed his march toward Palmyra,97 in order that, by storming it, he might put an end to his labours. But frequently on the march his army met with a hostile reception from the brigands of Syria, and after suffering many mishaps he incurred great danger during the siege, being even wounded by an arrow.

2 A letter of his is still in existence, addressed to p247Mucapor,98 in which, without the wonted reserve of an emperor he confesses the difficulty of this war: 3 "The Romans are saying that I am merely waging a war with a woman, just as if Zenobia alone and with her own forces only were fighting against me, and yet, as a matter of fact, there is as great a force of the enemy as if I had to make war against a man, while she, because of her fear and her sense of guilt, is a much baser foe. 4 It cannot be told what a store of arrows is here, what great preparations for war, what a store of spears and of stones; there is no section of the wall that is not held by two or three engines of war, and their machines can even hurl fire. 5 Why say more? She fears like a woman, and fights as one who fears punishment. I believe, however, that the gods will truly bring aid to the Roman commonwealth, for they have never failed our endeavours."

6 Finally, exhausted and worn out by reason of ill-success, he despatched a letter to Zenobia, asking her to surrender and promising to spare her life; of this letter I have inserted a copy:

7 "From Aurelian, Emperor of the Roman world and recoverer of the East, to Zenobia and all others who are bound to her by alliance in war. 8 You should have done of your own free will what I now command in my letter. For I bid you surrender, promising that your lives shall be spared, and with the condition that you, Zenobia, together with your children shall dwell wherever I, acting in accordance with the wish of the most noble senate, shall appoint a place. 9 Your jewels, your gold, your silver, your silks, your horses, your camels, you shall all hand over to the Roman treasury. As for the people of Palmyra, their rights shall be preserved."

p249 27 1   Legamen ad paginam Latinam On receiving this letter Zenobia responded with more pride and insolence than befitted her fortunes, I suppose with a view to inspiring fear; for a copy of her letter, too, I have inserted:

2 "From Zenobia, Queen of the East, to Aurelian Augustus. None save yourself has ever demanded by letter what you now demand. Whatever must be accomplished in matters of war must be done by valour alone. 3 You demand my surrender as though you were not aware that Cleopatra preferred to die a Queen rather than remain alive, however high her rank. 4 We shall not lack reinforcements from Persia, which we are even now expecting. On our side are the Saracens, on our side, too, the Armenians. 5 The brigands of Syria have defeated your army, Aurelian. What more need be said? If those forces, then, which we are expecting from every side, shall arrive, you will, of a surety, lay aside that arrogance with which you now command my surrender, as though victorious on every side."

6 This letter, Nicomachus99 says, was dictated by Zenobia herself and translated by him into Greek from the Syrian tongue. For that earlier letter of Aurelian's was written in Greek.

28 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam On receiving this letter Aurelian felt no shame, but rather was angered, and at once he gathered together from every side his soldiers and leaders and laid siege to Palmyra; and that brave man gave his attention to everything that seemed incomplete or neglected. 2 For he cut off the reinforcements which the Persians had sent,100 and he tampered with the squadrons of Saracens and Armenians, bringing them over to his own side, some by forcible means and some by cunning. Finally, by p251a mighty effort he conquered that most powerful woman.101 3 Zenobia, then, conquered, fled away on camels (which they call dromedaries), but while seeking to reach the Persians she was captured by the horseman sent after her, and thus she was brought into the power of Aurelian.

4 And so Aurelian, victorious and in possession of the entire East, more proud and insolent now that he held Zenobia in chains, dealt with the Persians, Armenians, and Saracens as the needs of the occasion demanded. 5 Then were brought in those garments, encrusted with jewels, which we now see in the Temple of the Sun, then, too, the Persian dragon-flags102 and head-dresses, and a species of purple such as no nation ever afterward offered or the Roman world beheld.

29 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Concerning this I desire to say at least a few words. For you remember that there was in the Temple of Jupiter Best and Greatest on the Capitolium a short woollen cloak of a purple hue, by the side of which all other purple garments, brought by the matrons and by Aurelian himself, seemed to fade to the colour of ashes in comparison with its divine brilliance. 2 This cloak, brought from the farthest Indies, the King of the Persians is said to have presented as a gift to Aurelian, writing as follows: "Accept a purple robe, such as we ourselves use." 3 But this was untrue. For later both Aurelian and Probus and, most recently, Diocletian made most diligent search for this species of purple, sending out p253their most diligent agents, but even so it could not be found. But indeed it is said that the Indian sandyx103 yields this kind of purple if properly prepared.

30 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam But to return to my undertaking: despite all this, there arose a terrible uproar among all the soldiers, who demanded Zenobia for punishment.104 2 Aurelian, however, deeming it improper that a woman should be put to death, killed many who had advised her to begin and prepare and wage the war, but the woman he saved for his triumph, wishing to show her to the eyes of the Roman people.105 3 It was regarded as a cruel thing that Longinus the philosopher106 should have been among those who were killed. He, it is said, was employed by Zenobia as her teacher in Greek letters, and Aurelian is said to have slain him because he was told that that over-proud letter of hers had been dictated in accord with his counsel, although, in fact, it was composed in the Syrian tongue.

4 And so, having subdued the East, Aurelian returned as a victor to Europe,107 and there he defeated the forces of the Carpi;108 and when the senate gave him in his absence the surname Carpicus, he sent them this message, it is said, as a jest: "It now only remains for you, Conscript Fathers, to call me Carpisculus also" — 5 for it is well known that carpisclum is p255a kind of boot. This surname appeared to him as ignoble, since he was already called both Gothicus and Sarmaticus and Armeniacus and Parthicus and Adiabenicus.109

31 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam It is a rare thing, or rather, a difficult thing, for the Syrians to keep faith. For the Palmyrenes, who had once been defeated and crushed, now that Aurelian was busied with matters in Europe, began a rebellion of no small size.110 2 For they killed Sandario, whom Aurelian had put in command of the garrison there, and with him six hundred bowmen, thus getting the rule for a certain Achilleus, a kinsman of Zenobia's. 3 But Aurelian, indeed, prepared as he always was, came back from Rhodope and, because it deserved it, destroyed the city. 4 In fact, Aurelian's cruelty, or, as some say, his sternness, is so widely known that they even quote a letter of his, revealing a confession of most savage fury;111 of this the following is a copy:

5 "From Aurelian Augustus to Cerronius Bassus.112 The swords of the soldiers should not proceed further. Already enough Palmyrenes have been killed and slaughtered. We have not spared the women, we have slain the children, we have butchered the old men, we have destroyed the peasants. 6 To whom, at this rate, shall we leave the land or the city? Those who still remain must be spared. For it is our belief that the few have been chastened by the punishment p257of the many. 7 Now as to the Temple of the Sun113 at Palmyra, which has been pillaged by the eagle-bearers of the Third Legion, along with the standard-bearers, the dragon-bearer,114 and the buglers and trumpeters, I wish it restored to the condition in which it formerly was. 8 You have three hundred pounds of gold from Zenobia's coffers, you have eighteen hundred pounds of silver from the property of the Palmyrenes, and you have the royal jewels. 9 Use all these to embellish the temple; thus both to me and to the immortal gods you will do a most pleasing service. I will write to the senate and request it to send one of the pontiffs to dedicate the temple." 10 This letter, as we can see, shows that the savagery of the hard-hearted prince had been glutted.

32 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam At length, now more secure, he returned again to Europe, and there, with his well-known valour, he crushed all the enemies who were roving about. 2 Meanwhile, when Aurelian was performing great deeds in the provinces of Thrace as well as in all Europe, there rose up a certain Firmus, who laid claim to Egypt, but without the imperial insignia and as though he purposed to make it into a free state.115 3 Without delay Aurelian turned back against him, and there also his wonted good-fortune did not abandon him. For he recovered Egypt at once and took vengeance on the enterprise — violent in temper, as he always was; and then, being greatly angered that Tetricus still held the provinces of Gaul, he departed to the West and there took over the legions which were surrendered to him116 — for Tetricus betrayed his own troops since he could not endure their evil deeds. 4 And so Aurelian, now ruler over the entire world, having subdued both the East and the Gauls, and p259victor in all lands, turned his march toward Rome, that he might present to the gaze of the Romans a triumph over both Zenobia and Tetricus, that is, over both the East and the West.117

33Legamen ad paginam Latinam It is not without advantage to know what manner of triumph Aurelian had,118 for it was a most brilliant spectacle. 2 There were three royal chariots, of which the first, carefully wrought and adorned with silver and gold and jewels, had belonged to Odaenathus, the second, also wrought with similar care, had been given to Aurelian by the king of the Persians, and the third Zenobia had made for herself, hoping in it to visit the city of Rome. And this hope was not unfulfilled; for she did, indeed, enter the city in it, but vanquished and led in triumph.119 3 There was also another chariot, drawn by four stags and said to have once belonged to the king of the Goths.120 In this — so many have handed down to memory — Aurelian rode up to the Capitol, purposing there to slay the stags, which he had captured along with this chariot and then vowed, it was said, to Jupiter Best and Greatest. 4 There advanced, moreover, twenty elephants, and two hundred tamed beasts of divers kinds from Libya and Palestine, which Aurelian at once presented to private citizens, that the privy-purse might not be burdened with the cost of their food; furthermore, there were led along in order four tigers and also giraffes and elks and other such animals, also eight hundred pairs of gladiators besides p261the captives from the barbarian tribes. There were Blemmyes, Axomitae,121 Arabs from Arabia Felix, Indians, Bactrians, Hiberians,122 Saracens and Persians, all bearing their gifts; there were Goths, Alans,123 Roxolani, Sarmatians, Franks, Suebians,124 Vandals and Germans — all captive, with their hands bound fast. 5 There also advanced among them certain men of Palmyra, who had survived its fall, the foremost of the State, and Egyptians, too, because of their rebellion. 34Legamen ad paginam Latinam There were led along also ten women, who, fighting in male attire, had been captured among the Goths after many others had fallen; these a placard declared to be of the race of the Amazons — for placards were borne before all, displaying the names of their nations. 2 In the procession was Tetricus also, arrayed in scarlet cloak, a yellow tunic, and Gallic trousers,125 and with him his son, whom he had proclaimed in Gaul as emperor.126 3 And there came Zenobia, too, decked with jewels and in golden chains, the weight of which was borne by others. There were carried aloft golden crowns presented by all the cities, made known by placards carried aloft. 4 Then came the Roman people itself, the flags of the guilds and the camps, the mailed cuirassiers,127 the wealth of the kings, the entire army, and, lastly, the senate (albeit somewhat sadly, since they saw senators, too, being led in triumph) — all adding much to the splendour of the procession. 5 Scarce did they reach the Capitol by the ninth hour of the day, and when they arrived at the Palace it p263was late indeed. 6 On the following days amusements were given to the populace, plays in the theatres, races in the Circus, wild-beast hunts, gladiatorial fights and also a naval battle.

35 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam I think that I should not omit what both the people remember and the truth of history has made current, namely, that Aurelian, at the time of his setting out for the East, promised, if he came back victorious, to give to the populace crowns weighing two pounds apiece; the populace, however, expected crowns of gold, and these Aurelian either could not or would not give, and so he had crowns made of the bread now called wheaten and gave one to each separate man, providing that each and every one might receive his wheaten bread every day of his life and hand on his right to his heirs.128 2 The same Aurelian, too, gave the allowance of pork to the Roman people which is given them also to‑day.

3 He enacted very many laws, and salutary ones indeed.129 He set the priesthoods in order, he constructed p265the Temple of the Sun,130 and he founded its college of pontiffs;131 and he also allotted funds for making repairs and paying attendants.

4 After doing these things, he set out for the regions of Gaul and delivered the Vindelici from a barbarian inroad;132 then he returned to Illyricum and having made ready an army, which was large, though not of inordinate size, he declared war on the Persians, whom he had already defeated with the greatest glory at the time that he conquered Zenobia.133 5 While on his way thither, however, he was murdered at Caenophrurium,134 a station between Heraclea and Byzantium, through the hatred of his clerk but by the hand of Mucapor.135

36 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Both the reason for his murder and the manner in which he was slain I will set forth briefly, that a matter of such moment may not remain concealed. 2 Aurelian — it cannot be denied — was a stern, a savage, and a blood-thirsty prince. 3 And so, when he pushed his sternness to the length of slaying his sister's daughter136 without any good or sufficient reason, he incurred, first of all, the hate of his own p267kinsmen. 4 It came to pass, moreover, as things do happen by decree of fate, that he roused the anger of a certain Mnestheus137 — his freedman, some say — whom he had employed as his confidential clerk, because he had threatened him, suspecting him on some ground or other. 5 Now Mnestheus, knowing that Aurelian neither threatened in vain nor pardoned when he had threatened, drew up a list of names, in which he mixed together both those at whom Aurelian was truly angry and those toward whom he bore no ill-will, including his own name also, in order thereby to lend greater credence to the fear that he sought to inspire. This list he read to the various persons whose names were contained therein, adding that Aurelian had made arrangements to have them all put to death, and that, if they were really men, they should save their lives. 6 Thereupon all were aroused, those who had deserved his anger being moved by fear, and those who were innocent by sorrow, since Aurelian seemed ungrateful for their services and their fidelity, and so they suddenly attacked the Emperor while on the march in the aforesaid place, and put him to death.

37 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Such was the end of Aurelian, a prince who was necessary rather than good. After he was slain and the facts became known, those very men who had killed him gave him a mighty tomb and a temple. 2 Mnestheus, however, was afterward haled away to a stake and exposed to wild beasts, as is shown by the marble statues set up on either hand in that same place, where also statues were erected p269on columns in honour of the Deified Aurelian. 3 The senate mourned his death greatly, but the Roman people still more, for they commonly used to say that Aurelian was the senators' task-master. 4 He ruled six years save for a few days,138 and because of his great exploits he was given a place among the deified princes.139

(For the end of chapter 37, continue to Part 3.)


The Editor's Notes:

58 The vita omits any mention of Aurelian's participation in Gallienus' campaign against Aureolus at Milan (see Zonaras, XII.25) and of his share in the conspiracy for the murder of Gallienus (see Gall. xiv.1 and note).

59 See Claud. xii.2‑6.

60 There is no reason to suppose that Aurelian had anything (p223)to do with the death of Aureolus, who was killed by his soldiers; see Claud. v.1‑3.

61 i.e., the Eruli, thus called because they came from the shores of Lake Maeotis (the Sea of Azov); on their invasion see Claud. vi‑xi. Aurelian seems to have distinguished himself in the course of this war (see also c. xvii.5), and after a serious disaster to the cavalry toward its close (Claud. xi.6‑8) to have been appointed by Claudius to the command of the whole cavalry (c. xviii.1) and thereupon to have avenged the previous defeat.

62 These names were never borne by Claudius and Aurelian; see note to Claud. i.1.

63 See Claud. xi.3 and note.

64 Before 25 May 270, on which day he appears in a papyrus as emperor. Immediately after Claudius' death, in the spring of 270, Quintillus was proclaimed emperor in Italy; see Claud. xii.2‑5 and notes. According to Zonaras, XII.26, Quintillus and Aurelian were proclaimed simultaneously, the former by the senate and the latter by the army. This would seem to mean that the army, recently victorious over the Goths, refused to acknowledge the unwarlike Quintillus and bestowed the imperial power on its most competent general, then in Pannonia, whereupon Quintillus committed suicide (cf. c. xxxvii.6).

65 See Claud. xi.6‑8.

66 More correctly, Juthungi, akin to the Alamanni and, like them, living north of the upper Danube. Taking advantage of the disturbances following Claudius' death, they invaded Raetia in 270 and seem even to have entered northern Italy. On the news of Aurelian's approach from Pannonia they withdrew, but were overtaken south of the Danube by Aurelian and defeated in a great battle. A speech, supposedly delivered by Aurelian to their envoys after this battle, is preserved from the Σκυθικά of Dexippus; see Fragm. Hist. Graec., III p682 f.

67 This invasion seems to have necessitated Aurelian's return to Pannonia immediately after his defeat of the Juthungi.

68 The biographer here omits any mention of Aurelian's journey to Rome, in the late summer of 270, and his reception by the senate, which was soon followed by a rapid return to Pannonia in order to repel an invasion of Vandals; see Zosimus, I.48.

69 More correctly, Alamanni and Juthungi. They invaded Italy in the winter of 270‑271, while Aurelian was absent fighting against the Vandals. Aurelian hurried to meet them, but the vita fails to make his tactics clear; it would seem that he tried to attack them from the north as they were advancing. He then followed them and was badly defeated at Placentia (c. xxi.1‑3), while the invaders continued their advance.

70 See c. xxi.5‑6.

71 i.e., an invasion by Alamanni; see note to Gall. iv.6.

72 They advanced south-eastward along the Via Aemilia as far as the mouth of the Metaurus, where Aurelian defeated them in a great battle at Fano, forcing them to retreat. Thereupon he followed them and again defeated them near the river Ticinus; see Epit. XXXV.2. After this victory the title Germanicus Maximus was conferred on him by the senate, and coins were issued with the legend Victoria Germanica; see Matt.‑Syd., V p305, no. 355.

73 On such "senatus consulta," see note to Val. v.3.

74 Neither he nor Ulpius Silanus (§ 3) is otherwise known.

75 The expression (also used in Heliog. viii.1) means properly "with both parents living"; this was a pre-requisite for service at the sacrifices, sacred meals, and other temple-ceremonies. A similar chorus sang the Carmen Saeculare of Horace.

Thayer's Note: For further details and sources on the boys, see the article Camilli in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities; and since you may have just been lured to this page by a search engine, looking for the famous performance of the Carmen Saeculare, you can find the full details in Chapter 2 of Lanciani's Pagan and Christian Rome: very well told and with further useful links.

76 An ancient ceremony of purification held in May, in which a bull, a ram, and a pig were conducted about the Roman territory and then sacrificed to Mars. It was entrusted by Augustus to the revived priestly college of the Fratres Arvales.

Thayer's Note: For full details on both the Ambarvalia and the Fratres Arvales, see the article Arvales Fratres in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

77 A festival held, apparently, on 2 Feb. for the purification of the city, in which the sacrificial victims (as in the Ambarvalia) were led around its confines.

Thayer's Note: For slightly fuller details, see the article Amburbium in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

78 See note to c. xviii.3.

79 The occasion of this revolt was the successful advance of the Germans (see c. xviii.4), but inasmuch as senators seem to have been involved in it (so also c. xxxix.8 and Zosimus, I.49.2), it may be that the opponents of this emperor created by the army took advantage of the opportunity to attempt his overthrow. It has been suggested that the revolt of the mint-workers (c. xxxviii.2‑3) was a part of this movement.

80 According to Ammianus Marcellinus, XXX.8.8, he confiscated (p235)much property; this was perhaps to provide money for the war against Palmyra.

81 See c. xxxix.2 and note.

82 The ancient ceremonial boundary-line of the city, enclosing the area within which auspices could be taken. Originally surrounding the Palatine Hill only, it was extended to include the Septimontium and then the four Regions. Sulla extended it on the principle stated here (see Aulus Gellius, XIII.14.3‑4), as did, apparently, Julius Caesar and Augustus and, certainly, Claudius, some of whose boundary-stones are extant, and Vespasian also. No extensions made by Nero or Trajan are known.

Thayer's Note: For comprehensive details and sources, see the article Pomoerium in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, noting the further link to the article in Platner and Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome and the journal articles there.

83 The kingdom of Polemo I and his descendants, annexed to the Empire in 63 and incorporated, first, in the province of Galatia and later in Cappadocia. It consisted of a district along the southern coast of the Black Sea, extending eastward from the mouth of the river Isis (Yeshil Irmak) to Cotyora (Ordu) and as far south as Sebasteia (Sivas).

84 Named from Cottius, who ruled the district under Augustus. It lay on both sides of the present Franco-Italian boundary, including Segusio (Susa) on the north-east and Ebrodunum (p237)(Embrun) on the south-west. It was made a province by Nero and put under a procurator et praeses.

85 See note to Tyr. Trig. xxx.1. After the death of Odaenathus she had, while acting as regent for her son (c. xxxviii.1), developed an imperialistic policy, sending an army to Egypt, which succeeded in holding most of that country (see Claud. xi.1 and note), and extending her sway northward over Syria, including Antioch, and Asia Minor as far as Ancyra (Angora). Without actually rebelling against Roman rule, she had created what seems to have been virtually an independent kingdom. Encouraged, however, by Aurelian's ill-success against the Alamanni, she determined on a definite break with Rome, and in the spring or early summer of 271 coins were issued in Antioch and Alexandria, bearing the portrait of her son Vabalathus, with the titles of Imperator and Augustus. She seems to have now formed the plan of setting up in the East a rival power after the pattern of the independent empire in Gaul, and a war with Aurelian was inevitable.

86 i.e., the Goths, who invaded the country south of the Danube in the summer of 271. On the spoils and captives taken by Aurelian see c. xxxiii.3‑4 and xxxiv.1. He commemorated the victory by assuming the name Gothicus Maximus and by coins with the legend Victoria Gothica; see Matt.‑Syd. V p303, no. 339. It was probably at this time that the districts north of the Danube were evacuated; see note to c. xxxix.7.

87 Meanwhile the Palmyrenes were driven out of Egypt by Probus, according to Prob. ix.5. This happened after 11 Mar. 271 (of which date there is a papyrus dated in the joint reign of Aurelian and Vaballathus) and before 29 Aug. 271, after which there are no Alexandrian coins of Vaballathus.

88 Mod. Kizli-Hissar in SW Cappadocia, whence led the route over the Taurus into Cilicia.

89 Aurelian apparently wished to appear as the deliverer of Asia Minor and Syria from the Palmyrenes, for he followed a similar policy at Antioch; see c. xxv.1.

90 Otherwise unknown.

91 See note to Alex. xxix.2.

92 The only one extant is the biography written by Flavius Philostratos early in the third century (trans. by F. C. Coneybeare in the L. C. L.)

93 The best account of the war against Zenobia is in Zosimus, I.50‑56. According to this, the battle took place on the Orontes, whereas the engagement at Daphne occurred during the retreat of the Palmyrenes. Zenobia herself was present at the main battle, the victory at which was due to a skilful (p243)manoeuvre of the Roman cavalry, the infantry taking no part in the fight.

94 Septimius Zabdas (Zaba, see Claud. xi.1), who had commanded in the battle near Antioch, after abandoning the city to Aurelian, fell back to the south along the Orontes to Emesa (Homs), where the great battle of the war was fought. Zenobia's troops, 70,000 strong, greatly outnumbered the Romans, and her cavalry drove the Roman horse from the field, but her infantry was badly defeated by Aurelian. The defeated remnants of the Queen's army took refuge in the city, but the hostility of the towns-folk forced her to retreat across the desert to Palmyra, 90 miles distant, leaving behind a great amount of treasure.

95 See note to Heliog. i.5.

96 See c. xxxv.3.

97 Early in 272.

98 See c. xxxv.5.

99 Otherwise unknown.

100 These were probably not very numerous, for the old enemy of the Romans, Sapor I, was nearing his end; he died in the autumn of 272, after making his son Hormizd I king in his stead.

101 According to Zosimus, the supplies of the Palmyrenes were exhausted and it was decided that Zenobia should go in person to the Persians to seek aid, but she was captured after crossing the Euphrates. Soon afterwards the peace-party in Palmyra gained the upper hand and surrendered the city after exacting from Aurelian the promise that no punishment should be inflicted.

102 A flag depicting a dragon was used by the Orientals and by the northern barbarians as shown on the Columns of Trajan and M. Aurelius. It was later adopted by the Romans also and carried by a draconarius (c. xxxi.7).

103 Usually the term given to a mixture of red sulphide of arsenic and red ochre, but here, apparently, the name of a plant, as also in Vergil, Buc. IV.45; see Pliny, Nat. Hist. XXXV.40.

104 This was at Emesa, whither Aurelian withdrew after the surrender of Palmyra, summoning there for trial both Zenobia and her counsellors. The latter were accused by the Queen in an effort to save herself, and many of them were then put to death.

105 See c. xxxiii‑xxxiv.

106 Cassius Longinus, Neo-Platonist philosopher, rhetorician and philologian. After a long career as a teacher in Athens he withdrew to the court of Zenobia. Of his many works (p253)there remain only fragments of his Rhetoric, although the essay Περὶ Ὕψους, by an unknown author, was long attributed to him.

107 He seems to have made some sort of a punitive expedition into Persian territory; see c. xxxv.4; xli.9. He received from the senate the title of Persicus Maximus or Parthicus Maximus and issued coins with the legend Victoria Parthica; see Matt.‑Syd. V p291, no. 240.

108 On the Lower Danube; see note to Max.‑Balb. xvi.3.

109 Of these names, Gothicus, Parthicus, and Carpicus, as well as Germanicus, appear in an inscription of Aurelian's last year (CIL VI.1112); the others do not seem to have been borne by him.

110 According to the fuller account in Zosimus, I.60‑61, the Palmyrenes under the leadership of Apsaios (perhaps the Septimius Apsaios to whom CIG 4487 is dedicated) tried to persuade Marcellinus, who had been left in charge of the Euphrates frontier, to take part in a revolt. He put them off (p255)with ambiguous replies and sent word of the plot to Aurelian. Meanwhile the Palmyrenes invested ahs (whom the vita calls Achilleus) with the royal insignia. This seems to have been in the early summer of 272.

111 Yet, according to Zosimus, he spared Antiochus' life.

112 Otherwise unknown.

113 Still the chief glory of the ruins of Palmyra.

114 See note to c. xxviii.5.

115 See Firm. iii‑v. According to the more correct version of Zosimus (I.61.1), Aurelian marched directly from Palmyra to Alexandria.

116 See Tyr. Trig. xxiv.1‑2 and notes.

117 He had, in fact, re-united the Roman Empire, divided ever since 258, when Postumus established his independent power in Gaul. His successes were commemorated by the official assumption of the title Restitutor Orbis, which appears in inscriptions and on coins; the latter bear also the titles Pacator Orbis, Restitutor Saeculi, Restitutor Gentis, Restitutor Orientis, Pacator Orientis, Pax Aeterna, Pax Augusti.

118 In 273.

119 According to an account preserved in Zosimus, I.59, Zenobia died on the way to Europe either by disease or by her (p259)own hand. All other writers, however, agreed with the version given in the text, and it may be supposed that the account in Zosimus was invented for the purpose of likening her to Cleopatra.

120 See c. xxii.2.

121 From the kingdom of Axomis (mod. Axum) in the district of Tigré in northern Abyssinia; see Mommsen, Hist. Rom. Prov. (Eng. Trans.), II p305 f. The king seems to have extended his sway over the Blemmyes (see also Prob. xvii.2; xix.1; Firm. iii.3), a robber nomad-people in lower Nubia, and also over the Arabs of the Yemen (the Homeritai, see Mommsen, ibid., p321). It would appear that Aurelian had entered into friendly relations with this ruler during his expedition to Egypt.

122 From Trans-Caucasia.

123 See note to Pius v.5.

124 i.e., Juthungi and Alamanni; see notes to c. xviii.2‑3.

125 See note to Alex. xl.11.

126 See note to Tyr. Trig. xxv.1.

127 See note to Alex. lvi.5.

128 His daily distribution of bread (mentioned also in c. xlviii.1 and Zosimus, I.61.3) took the place of the monthly distribution. It was commemorated by issues of coins with the legends Annona Aug. and Liberalitas Aug.; see Matt.‑Syd. V p268, no. 21, and p290, no. 229. The cost was covered by additional appropriations from the revenues from Egypt, and the boatmen on the Nile and the Tiber were organised into compulsory guilds in order that the service might be improved; see c. xlv.1 and xlvii.1‑3. This distribution, like that of pork, which was now added to the previous allowances of salt and oil (c. xlviii.1), seems to have been due to the necessity of relieving (p263)the needs of Rome, impoverished by the economic decline of Italy and threatened with starvation; see Rostovtzeff, Social and Econ. Hist. of the Roman Emp., p611 f. and p618.

129 The vita omits any mention of the reform of the coinage, which is recorded in Zosimus, I.61.3, and attested by the coins themselves. As the result of lack of uniformity in coining and the absence of any fixed standard, the "Antoninianus" had become worthless. This coin was now replaced by a new piece, which not only was better made and contained more silver, but also bore a fixed relation (20 : 1) to a coin of definite value, perhaps the aureus or the denarius of real silver or even the reduced denarius; see Matt.‑Syd. V, p9 f. Also a smaller coin (the denarius) and bronze coins (the sestertius and dupondius) were issued again after a lapse of many years.

130 This temple, in campo Agrippae according to the Notitiae, has been identified with a temple that stood on the western edge of the Quirinal Hill, just above the gardens of the Palazzo Colonna, where some magnificent remains are preserved; but it is perhaps more probable that it was the temple that stood farther north, on the east side of the Corso, where the Via Frattina now enters it. It contained, according to Zosimus, 1.61, statues of Helios and Belos. The latter was the patron-god of Palmyra, and he seems to have been the particular deity in whose honour Aurelian erected the temple, but transformed into a Roman god with the usual national priests and festival and evidently intended to be the centre of worship for the whole Empire, since on coins of Aurelian he is called Sol Dominus Imperii Romani; see Wissowa, Relig. u. Kultus der Römer, p307, and Matt.‑Syd. V p301, nos. 319‑22.

Thayer's Note: For comprehensive details on the temple see the article Templum Solis in Platner & Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

131 The Pontifices Solis, modelled on the ancient college of the Pontifices and equal to it in rank; see Wissowa, p307.

132 Early in 275. These invaders are also mentioned in c. xli.8, but it is not known who they were. The statement in Tac. iii.4 (cf. Prob. xiii.5), that the barbarians, after Aurelian's death, broke through the Limes Transrhenanus suggests that he entered Germany and restored this boundary.

133 See note to c. xxx.4.

134 Near the modern station of Sinekli, about 50 m. W of Constantinople.

135 Addressed in the fictitious letter in c. xxvi.2‑5. In Aur. Victor, Caes. 36.2, he is called dux and is said to have been tortured to death by Tacitus.

136 See c. xxxix.9.

137 In Zosimus, I.62.1, and Zonaras, XII.27, he is called Eros. The name Mnestheus, found only here, has been supposed to be an error for μηνυτής, which occurs in the expression τῶν ἔξωθεν φερομένων ἀποκρίσεων μηνυτής, by which both Zosimus and Zonaras (and consequently their source) describe his office. (p276)According to Aur. Victor, Caes. 35.7‑8, the conspiracy was due to Aurelian's sternness in repressing the extortion practised by the officials in the provinces.

138 5 yrs. 6 mos., according to Epit. 35.1; 5 yrs. 4 mos. 20 days, according to the "Chronographer of 354." He was killed probably in October or November, 275; see Stein in Arch. f. Pap.-Forsch., VII p46.

139 The portion of the vita that follows (cc. xxxvii.5‑xli.15) seems to be a sort of appendix, containing many instances of repetition of what has been already told. Much of it shows a close resemblance to the material in Eutropius and Aurelius Victor and seems to have been taken from a common source.


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