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Firmus et al.

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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(Vol. III) Historia Augusta

p417 The Lives of Carus, Carinus and Numerian

1 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] That it is Fate which governs the commonwealth, now exalting it to the heights and again thrusting it down to the depths, was made very clear by the death of Probus. 2 For the state, in its course through the ages, was by turns raised up and dashed down by divers commotions, and, in the changes wrought now by some tempest and again by a time of prosperity, it suffered well nigh all the ills that human life may suffer in the case of a single man; but at last, after a diversity of evils, it seemed about to abide in assured and unbroken felicity, when, after the reign of Aurelian, a vigorous prince, both the laws and the helm of the state were directed by Probus in accordance with the wish of the senate and people.1 3 Nevertheless, a mighty disaster, coming like a shipwreck or a conflagration, when the soldiers had been fired with a fated madness and this great prince had been removed from our midst, reduced the hopes of the state to such despair that all feared a Domitian, p419or a Vitellius, or a Nero. 4 For they felt more fear than hope from the ways of a prince yet unknown, especially since the commonwealth, stricken by recent wounds, was still in a state of sorrow from having endured the capture of Valerian, the excesses of Gallienus, and also the power of well nigh thirty pretenders, who could lay claim to naught but the mangled limbs of their fellow-citizens.

2 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Now if we should wish, beginning with the origin of the city, to review all the changes that the Roman commonwealth endured, we shall find that no state abounded more in blessings or suffered more from evils. 2 For, to begin with Romulus, the true father and founder of the commonwealth, what felicity was his, who founded, established and strengthened this state, and alone among founders left a completed city! 3 Why should I speak of Numa, the next in order, who by means of religious observances safeguarded a state which resounded with wars and was swollen with triumphs? 4 From then on, therefore, our commonwealth prospered until the time of Tarquinius Superbus, when it endured a tempest arising from the evil ways of the monarch and avenged itself only at the cost of grave disaster. 5 Then it increased in strength until the time of the Gallic war, when it was overwhelmed, as it were, by shipwreck, the city, save only the citadel, being captured, and it suffered evils greater, indeed, than the prosperity with which it was swollen. 6 Again it returned to its former strength, but was brought so low by the Punic Wars and the terror caused by Pyrrhus that in the fear of its heart it came to know all the ills of human life. 3Legamen ad paginam Latinam Next, having conquered Carthage and extended its empire over the seas, it p421waxed great, but afflicted by strife with allies it lost all sense of happiness, and crushed by civil wars it wasted away in weakness until the time of Augustus. He then restored it once more, if indeed we may say that it was restored when it gave up its freedom. 2 Nevertheless, in some way or other, though mourning at home, it enjoyed great fame among nations abroad. Next, after enduring so many of the house of Nero,2 it reared its head again under Vespasian, 3 and though having no joy from all the good fortune of Titus and bleeding from Domitian's brutality, it was happier than had been its wont under Nerva and Trajan and his successors as far as Marcus, but was sorely stricken by the madness and cruelty of Commodus. 4 Thereafter, save for the diligent care of Severus, it knew naught that was good until Alexander, the son of Mamaea. 5 All that ensued thereafter is too long to relate; for it was not permitted to enjoy the rule of Valerian and it endured Gallienus for fifteen years. 6 Then Claudius was begrudged a long-lasting rule by Fortune, which loves a change and is almost always a foe to justice. 7 For in such wise was Aurelian slain and Tacitus carried off by disease3 and Probus put to death, that it became clear that Fortune takes pleasure in nothing so much as in changing, by means of a varied succession of events, all that pertains to the public business. 8 To what end, however, do we dwell on such lamentations and the misfortunes of the times? Let us, rather, pass on to Carus,4 a mediocre man, so to speak, but one to be ranked with the good rather than the evil princes, yet a better ruler by far, had he not left Carinus to be his heir.

4 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam In regard to Carus' birthplace there is such divergence of statement among the various writers p423that by reason of the very great difference among them I am unable to tell what it really was. 2 For Onesimus,5 who wrote with great diligence a Life of Probus, maintains that, whereas Carus' parents were Illyrians, he himself was both born and educated at Rome. 3 Fabius Ceryllianus,6 however, who had described with the greatest skill the period of Carus, Carinus and Numerian, declares that he was born, not in Rome, but in Illyricum,7 and that his parents were not Pannonians but Carthaginians. 4 I myself remember having read in a certain journal8 that Carus was born at Milan but enrolled in the official list of the council of the cities of Aquileia. 5 Carus himself, it cannot be denied, wished to appear a Roman, for this is shown by a letter of his, which he wrote when proconsul to his legate, urging him to a faithful performance of duty.

6 The letter of Carus:

"From Marcus Aurelius Carus proconsul of Cilicia9 to Junius his legate. Our forefathers, those great men of Rome, in choosing their legates observed the following principle, namely, to display a sample of their own characters in those to whom they delegated the conduct of public affairs. 7 And even if this were not so, I myself should not do otherwise; and, indeed, I have not done otherwise, if by your aid I shall make no mistake. Wherefore look to it that we may not be found to differ from our forefathers, that is, the men of Rome."

8 You see that throughout his letter he wishes it to be understood that his forefathers were native Romans. 5Legamen ad paginam Latinam A speech of his, moreover, addressed to the senate, affords this same assurance regarding his birth. For p425when he was first made emperor, he wrote to the senatorial order among other things the following: 2 "And so, Conscript Fathers, you should rejoice that one of your own order and your own race has been created emperor. Wherefore we will do our best that no foreigner shall seem to be a better man than one of yourselves." 3 This passage also makes it sufficiently clear that he wished to be thought a Roman, that is, one born in Rome.

4 He, then, after rising through the various civil and military grades, as the inscriptions10 on his statues show, was made prefect of the guard by Probus, and he won such affection among the soldiers that when Probus, that great emperor, was slain, he alone seemed wholly worthy of the imperial power.

6 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam I am not unaware that many have suspected and, in fact, have put it into the records that Probus was slain by the treachery of Carus.11 This, however, neither the kindness of Probus toward Carus nor Carus' own character will permit us to believe, and there is the further reason that he avenged the death of Probus with the utmost severity and steadfastness. 2 Probus' opinion of him, moreover, is shown by a letter written to the senate with regard to the honours conferred on him:

"Probus Augustus to his most devoted senate, greeting." Among other recommendations: "Happy, indeed, were our commonwealth if I had more men engaged in the public business similar to Carus or, in fact, to most of yourselves. 3 Wherefore I recommend, if it be your pleasure, that an equestrian statue be voted to this man of old-time character, adding the further request that a house be erected for him at the public expense, the marble to be furnished by me. p427For it behooves us to reward the uprightness of so great a man," and so forth.

7 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam And so — not to include what is of little importance or what can be found in other writers — as soon as he received the imperial power, by the unanimous wish of all the soldiers he took up the war against the Persians for which Probus had been preparing.12 He gave to his sons the name of Caesar,13 planning to despatch Carinus, with some carefully selected men, to govern the provinces of Gaul, and to take along with himself Numerian, a most excellent and eloquent young man. 2 It is said, moreover, that he often declared that he was grieved that he had to send Carinus to Gaul as prince, and that Numerian was not of an age to be entrusted with the Gallic empire, which most of all needed a steadfast ruler. 3 But of this at another time; for there is still in existence a letter of Carus', in which he complains to his prefect about the character of Carinus, so that it seems to be true, as Onesimus says, that Carus intended to take from Carinus the power of a Caesar. 4 But of this, as I have already said, I must tell later on in the Life of Carinus himself.14 Now we will return to the order of events.

8 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam With a vast array and all the forces of Probus he set out against the Persians after finishing the greater part of the Sarmatian war,15 in which he had p429been engaged, and without opposition he conquered Mesopotamia and advanced as far as Ctesiphon;16 and while the Persians were busied with internal strife he won the name of Conqueror of Persia.17 2 But when he advanced still further, desirous himself of glory and urged on most of all by his prefect,18 who in his wish to rule was seeking the destruction of both Carus and his sons as well, he met his death, according to some, by disease, according to others, through a stroke of lightning.19 3 Indeed, it cannot be denied that at the time of his death there suddenly occurred such violent thunder that many, it is said, died of sheer fright. And so, while he was ill and lying in his tent, there came up a mighty storm with terrible lightning and, as I have said, still more terrible thunder, and during this he expired. 4 Julius Calpurnius, who used to dictate for the imperial memoranda,20 wrote the following letter about Carus' death to the prefect of the city, saying among other things:

5 "When Carus, our prince for whom we truly care, was lying ill, there suddenly arose a storm of such violence that all things grew black and none could recognize another; then continuous flashes of lightning and peals of thunder, like bolts from a fiery sky, took from us the power of knowing what truly befell. p4316 For suddenly, after an especially violent peal which had terrified all, it was shouted that the emperor was dead. 7 It came to pass, in addition, that the chamberlains, grieving for the death of their prince, fired his tent; and the rumour arose, whatever its source, that he had been killed by the lightning, whereas, as far as we can tell, it seems sure that he died of his illness."

9 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam The letter I have inserted for the reason that many declare that there is a certain decree of Fate that no Roman emperor may advance beyond Ctesiphon, and that Carus was struck by the lightning because he desired to pass beyond the bounds which Fate has set up.21 2 But let cowardice, on which courage should set its heel, keep its devices for itself. 3 For clearly it is granted to us and will always be granted, as our most venerated Caesar Maximian has shown,22 to conquer the Persians and advance beyond them, and methinks this will surely come to pass if only our men fail not to live up to the promised favour of Heaven.

4 That Carus was a good emperor is evident from many of his deeds but especially from this, that as soon as he received the imperial power he crushed the Sarmatians, who were so emboldened by Probus' death that they threatened to invade not only Illyricum but Thrace and Italy as well, and he showed such skill in breaking up the war that in a very few days he made the provinces of Pannonia free from all fear, having killed sixteen thousand Sarmatians and captured twenty thousand of both sexes.

p433 10 1   Legamen ad paginam Latinam This I believe to be enough about Carus;23 let us now pass on to Numerian. His history seems to be more closely connected with that of his father and to have become more noteworthy because of his father-in‑law; and although Carinus was older than he and received the title of Caesar before him, it is necessary, nevertheless, for us to tell first of Numerian, whose death followed that of his father, and afterwards of Carinus, whom Diocletian Augustus, a man indispensable to the state, met in battle and put to death.

11Legamen ad paginam Latinam Numerian,24 the son of Carus, was of excellent character and truly worthy to rule; he was notable, moreover, for his eloquence, so much so, in fact, that even as a boy he declaimed in public, and his writings came to be famous, though more suitable for declamation than in keeping with Cicero's style. 2 In verse, furthermore, he is said to have had such skill that he surpassed all the poets of his time. In fact, he competed with Olympius Nemesianus,25 who wrote On Fishing, On Hunting, and On Seamanship, and shone with conspicuous lustre in all the colonial towns; and as for Aurelius Apollinaris,26 the writer of iambics, who had composed an account of his father's deeds, Numerian, when he published what he had recited, cast him into the shade like a ray of the sun. 3 The speech, moreover, which he sent to the senate is said to have been so eloquent that a statue was voted him not as a Caesar but as a rhetorician, to be set up in p435the Ulpian Library27 with the following inscription: "To Numerian Caesar, the most powerful orator of his time."

12 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam He accompanied his father in the Persian war, and after his father's death, when he had begun to suffer from a disease of the eyes — for that kind of ailment is most frequent with those exhausted, as he was, by too much loss of sleep — and was being carried in a litter, he was slain28 by the treachery of his father-in‑law Aper, who was attempting to seize the rule. 2 But the soldiers continued for several days to ask after the emperor's health, and Aper kept haranguing them, saying that he could not appear before them for the reason that he must protect his weakened eyes from the wind and the sun, but at last the stench of his body revealed the facts. Then all fell upon Aper, whose treachery could no longer be hidden, and they dragged him before the standards in front of the general's tent. Then a huge assembly was held and a tribunal, too, was constructed. 13Legamen ad paginam Latinam And when the question was asked who would be the most lawful avenger of Numerian and who could be given to the commonwealth as a good emperor, then all, with a heaven-sent unanimity, conferred the title of Augustus on Diocletian,29 who, it was said, had already received many omens of future rule. He was at this time in command of the household-troops, an outstanding man and wise, devoted to the commonwealth, devoted to his kindred, duly prepared to face whatever the p437occasion demanded, forming plans that were always deep though sometimes over-bold, and one who could by prudence and exceeding firmness hold in check the impulses of a restless spirit. 2 This man, then, having ascended the tribunal was hailed as Augustus, and when someone asked how Numerian had been slain, he drew his sword and pointing to Aper, the prefect of the guard, he drove it through him, saying as he did so, "It is he who contrived Numerian's death." So Aper, a man who lived an evil life and in accordance with vicious counsels, met with the end that his ways deserved. 3 My grandfather used to relate30 that he was present at this assembly when Aper was slain by the hand of Diocletian; and he used to say that Diocletian, after slaying him, shouted, "Well may you boast, Aper, ' 'Tis by the hand of the mighty Aeneas you perish.' "31 4 I do, indeed, wonder at this in a military man, although I know perfectly well that very many soldiers use sayings in both Greek and Latin taken from the writers of comedy and other such poets. 5 In fact, the comic poets themselves frequently introduce soldiers in such a way as to make them use familiar sayings; for "You are a hare yourself and yet are you looking for game?" is a saying which is taken for Livius Andronicus,32 and many others were given by Plautus and Caecilius.a

14 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam I do not consider it too painstaking or yet too much in the ordinary manner to insert a story about Diocletian Augustus that seems not out of place here — an incident which he regarded as an omen of p439his future rule. This story my grandfather related to me, having heard it from Diocletian himself. 2 "When Diocletian," he said, "while still serving in a minor post, was stopping at a certain tavern in the land of the Tungri33 in Gaul, and was making up his daily reckoning with a woman, who was a Druidess, she said to him, 'Diocletian, you are far too greedy and far too stingy,' to which Diocletian replied, it is said, not in earnest, but only in jest, 'I shall be generous enough when I become emperor.' 3 At this the Druidess said,34 so he related, 'Do not jest, Diocletian, for you will become emperor when you have slain a Boar (Aper).' " 15Legamen ad paginam Latinam Now Diocletian always had in his mind a desire to rule, as Maximian35 knew and my grandfather also, to whom he himself told these words of the Druidess. Then, however, reticent, as was his wont, he laughed and said nothing. 2 Nevertheless, in hunting, whenever there was opportunity, he always killed the boars with his very own hand. 3 In fact, when Aurelian received the imperial power, then Probus, then Tacitus, and then Carus himself, Diocletian remarked, "I am always killing boars, but the other man enjoys the meat." 4 It is now well known and a common story that when he had killed Aper, the prefect of the guard, he declared, it is said, "At last I have killed my fated Boar." 5 My grandfather also used to say that Diocletian himself declared that he had no other reason for killing him with his own hand than to fulfill the Druidess' prophecy and to ensure his own rule. 6 For he would not have wished to become known for such cruelty, especially in the first few days of his power, if Fate had not impelled him to this brutal act of murder.

p441 7 We have written of Carus, we have written, too, of Numerian, and now there still remains Carinus.36 16Legamen ad paginam Latinam He was the most polluted of men, an adulterer and a constant corrupter of youth (I am ashamed to relate what Onesimus has put into writing), and he even made evil use of the enjoyment of his own sex. 2 He was left by his father as Caesar in Gaul and Italy and in Illyricum, Spain, Britain, and Africa, all of which had been voted to him, and he exercised there a Caesar's powers, but with the permission to perform all the duties of an Augustus.37 Then he defiled himself by unwonted vices and inordinate depravity, 3 he set aside all the best among his friends and retained or picked out all the vilest, and he appointed as city-prefect one of his doorkeepers,38 a baser act than which no one can conceive or relate. 4 He slew the prefect of the guard whom he found in office 5 and put in his place Matronianus, one of his clerks and an old procurer, whom he had always kept with him as accomplice and assistant in debaucheries and lusts. 6 He appeared in public as consul contrary to his father's wish.39 He wrote arrogant letters to the senate, and he even promised the senate's property to the mob of the city of Rome, as though it, forsooth, were the Roman people. 7 By marrying and divorcing p443he took nine wives in all,40 and he put away some even while they were pregnant. He filled the Palace with actors and harlots, pantomimists, singers and pimps. 8 He had such an aversion for the signing of state-papers that he appointed for signing them a certain filthy fellow, with whom he used always to jest at midday,b and then he reviled him because he could imitate his writing so well. 17Legamen ad paginam Latinam He wore jewels on his shoes,41 used only a jewelled clasp and often a jewelled belt also. In fact, in Illyricum most people hailed him as king. 2 He would never come forward to meet the prefects or consuls. He granted favours most of all to the base, and always invited them to banquets. 3 At one of his banquets he often served one hundred pounds of birds, one hundred of fish, and one thousand of meat of different kinds, and he lavished on his guests vast quantities of wine. He swam about among apples and melons and strewed his banqueting-halls and bedrooms with roses from Milan. 4 The baths which he used were as cold as the air of rooms that are under the ground, and his plunge-baths were always cooled by means of snow. 5 Once, when he came in the winter to a certain place in which the spring-water was very tepid — its wonted natural temperature during the winter — and he had bathed in it in the pool, he shouted to the bath-attendants, it is said, "This is water for a woman that you have given me"; and this is reported as his most famous saying. 6 When his father heard of all that he did, he exclaimed, "He is no son of mine," and at last he determined to appoint p445Constantius42 — afterwards made Caesar but at that time serving as governor of Dalmatia — in the place of Carinus, for the reason that no one even then seemed to be better, and he even planned, as Onesimus relates, to put Carinus to death. 7 It would be too long to tell more, even if I should desire to do so, about his excesses. If anyone wishes to learn all in detail, he should read Fulvius Asprianus43 also, who tells the whole tale of his deeds even to the point of boredom.44

18 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam When he learned that his father had been killed by lightning and his brother slain by his own father-in‑law, and that Diocletian had been hailed as Augustus, Carinus committed acts of still greater vice and crime, as though now set free and released by the death of his kindred from all the restraints of filial duty. 2 He did not, however, lack strength of purpose for claiming the imperial power.45 For he fought many battles against Diocletian, but finally, being defeated in a fight near Margus,46 he perished.

3 We have now come to the end of the three emperors, Carus, Numerian and Carinus, after whom the gods gave us Diocletian and Maximian to be our princes, joining to these great men Galerius and Constantius, the one of whom was born to wipe out the p447disgrace incurred by Valerian's capture,47 the other, to bring again the province of Gaul under the laws of Rome.48 4 Four rulers, indeed, of the world were they, brave, wise, kindly, and wholly generous, all of one mind toward the commonwealth, very respectful to the Roman senate, moderate, friends of the people, revered, earnest, and pious, and, in fact, such emperors as we have always desired. 5 Their lives have been related, each in a separate book, by Claudius Eusthenius,49 imperial secretary to Diocletian — a fact which I mention in order that none may demand so great a work from me, especially since the biographies even of living emperors cannot be written without incurring blame.

19 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam The most noteworthy event of the rule of Carus, Carinus and Numerian was the series of games that they gave the Roman people, distinguished by some novel spectacles, a painting of which we have seen in the Palace near the portico of the stables.50 2 For there was exhibited a rope-walker, who in his buskins seemed to be walking on the winds, also a wall-climber, who, eluding a bear, ran up a wall, also some bears which acted a farce, and, besides, one hundred trumpeters who blew one single blast together, one hundred horn-blowers, one hundred flute-players, also one hundred flute-players who accompanied songs, one thousand pantomimists and gymnasts, moreover, a mechanical scaffold,51 which, however, burst into flames and burned up the stage — though this Diocletian later restored on a p449more magnificent scale. Furthermore, actors were gathered together from every side. 3 They were given also Sarmatian games,52 than which nothing affords greater pleasure, and, besides, a Cyclops-performance.53 And they bestowed on the Greek artists and gymnasts and actors and musicians both gold and silver and they bestowed on them also garments of silk.

20 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam But although all these things have a certain charm for the populace, they are of no importance in a good emperor. 2 In fact, a saying of Diocletian's is current, uttered when one of his treasury-officials54 was speaking to him with praise of Carus' exhibition, saying that he and his sons, while emperors, had gained great favour by means of theatrical spectacles and spectacles in the circus. "And so," he remarked, "Carus caused great laughter during his rule." 3 In fact, when Diocletian himself presented spectacles, after inviting all nations thereto, he was most sparing in his liberality, declaring that there should be more continence in games when a censor was looking on.

4 I should like this passage to be read by Junius Messalla,55 with whom I will dare to find fault frankly. For he has cut off his natural heirs and bestowed his ancestral fortune on players, giving a tunic of his mother's to an actress and a cloak of his father's to an actor — and rightly so, I suppose, if a gold and purple mantle of his grandmother's could be used as a costume by a tragic actor! 5 Indeed, the name of Messalla's wife is still embroidered on the violet mantle of a flute-player, who exults in it as the spoils p451of a noble house. Why, now, should I speak of those linen garments imported from Egypt? Why of those garments from Tyre and Sidon, so fine and transparent, of gleaming purple and famed for their embroidery-work? 6 He has presented, besides, capes brought from the Atrabati56 and capes from Canusium57 and Africa, such splendour as never before was seen on the stage. 21Legamen ad paginam Latinam All of this I have put into writing in order that future givers of spectacles may be touched by a sense of shame and so be deterred from cutting off their lawful heirs and squandering their inheritances on actors and mountebanks.

2 And now, my friend, accept this gift of mine, which, as I have often said, I have brought out to the light of day, not because of its elegance of style but because of its learned research, chiefly with this purpose in view, that if any gifted stylist should wish to reveal the deeds of the emperors, he might not lack the material, having, as he will, my little books as ministers to his eloquence. 3 I pray you, then, to be content and to contend that in this work I had the wish to write better than I had the power.


The Editor's Notes:

1 On the tendency of the author of this group of biographiesº to eulogise Probus see note to Prob. i.3.

2 i.e., the Julio-Claudian emperors.

3 See Tac. xiii.5 and note.

4 M. Aurelius Carus Augustus (282‑283).

5 See note to Firm. xiii.1.

6 Unknown.

7 At Narbona (more correctly Narona), now the ruins of Vid in Dalmatia, near the mouth of the river Naretva, according to Epit. 38.1, probably the most correct version (see note to Aur. iii.1).

8 Fictitious, like most of the author's "sources."

9 There was no such office in his time; see note to Aur. xlii.2.

10 None are known to us.

11 See note to Prob. xxi.3.

12 See Prob. xx.1.

13 The titles Nobilissimus Caesar and Princeps Iuventutis appear on their coins minted before they were entitled Augustus.

14 Cf. c. xvii.6.

15 See c. ix.4. This war seems to have included a campaign against the Quadi also, for Numerian (as Augustus) issued coins with the legend Triunfu. (sic) Quador(um) and a representation of his father and himself in a quadriga with an attendant Victory and captives; see Cohen VI2 p378, no. 91. It would (p427)appear that Carus fought this war on the Danube and then set out for the East without going to Rome. We are told by Zonaras (XII.30) that he defeated the Persians and then returned to Rome, whence he set out against the Sarmatians but was killed during a campaign against the Huns, or, as some say, on the river Tigris, as the result of a stroke of lightning; but this can hardly be correct, as his reign of one year was not long enough to permit of so much activity.

16 He captured it, according to all our authorities, and also Seleucia, according to Zonaras, and Coche, according to Eutropius. The importance of his successes — aided by the strife with Bahrâm II, the Persian king, and his brother Hormizd — is shown by the fact that all Mesopotamia was under Roman sway at the accession of Diocletian; see Mommsen, Hist. Rom. Prov. (Eng. Trans.), ii p123.

17 He bears the title of Persicus Maximus in his inscriptions, and on his coins (after deification) those of Persicus and Parthicus.

18 Aper; see c. xii.

19 This is the story given by all our authorities, including Zonaras, though he gives an alternate version; see note to § 1. The rationalized version that he died of disease occurs only in this vita. His death seems to have taken place not much later than 29 August 283, as there are no Alexandrian coins beyond his first year; see J. Vogt, Die Alexandr. Münzen, i p220 f. This would agree with the rule of ten months and five days assigned him by the "Chronographer of 354."

20 See Pesc. Nig. vii.4 and note. Julius Calpurnius is otherwise unknown and, like the letter, probably fictitious.

21 He was warned by an oracle according to Aur. Victor, Caes. 38.4.

22 An allusion to the successes of Galerius Maximianus against Narses, the Persian king, in 296‑297.

23 Coins with the legends Divo Caro and Consecratio show that he was deified; see Cohen VI2 pp352‑353, nos. 14‑24.

24 M. Aurelius Numerius Numerianus Augustus (283‑284). He seems not to have borne the title of Augustus until after Carus' death, when he and Carinus held it conjointly; see Cohen VI2 p404.

25 The author of four Eclogues written in the manner of Vergil. Of the poems cited here we have only 325 lines of his (p433)Cynegetica, composed after the death of Carus but before that of either of his sons, whose deeds he promises to recount (see l. 63 f.)

26 Unknown.

27 See note to Aur. i.7.

28 He was defeated by the Persians, according to Zonaras, XII.30. The biographer omits the account of his homeward march across Asia Minor, in the course of which he was killed. His death seems to have been discovered at the Bosporus; as there are Alexandrian coins of his third year, it could not have taken place until after 29 August 284. He was deified, evidently by order of Carinus; for there are coins of his with the legends Divo Numeriano and Consecratio; see Cohen VI2 p369, nos. 10‑12.

29 C. Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus Augustus (284‑305).

30 See note to Tyr. Trig. xxv.3.

31 Aeneid, x.830.

32 The quotation is from Terence, Eunuchus, 426, but as it is described in the context as a vetus dictum, it may well have come from a comedy of Livius Andronicus. It is evidently an adaptation of the saying recorded by Diogenianus (in (p437)Corpus Paroemiographorum Graecorum), iv.12: Δασύπους κρεῶν ἐπιθυμεῖ· ἐπὶ τῶν παρ᾽ ἄλλων ἐπιζητούντων ἃ παρ᾽ ἑαυτῶν ἔχουσιν.

33 Around mod. Tongres in eastern Belgium.

34 For prophecies by Druid women see Aur. xliv.4 and note.

35 i.e., Diocletian's co-ruler.

36 M. Aurelius Carinus Augustus (283‑285). His debauchery and cruelty are emphasised by all the sources, but this judgement may be due, at least in part, to the desire to flatter the dynasty which succeeded him; cf. note to Gall. i.1.

37 He held the title officially during Carus' lifetime, for it appears in their inscriptions and on coins issued under their joint names; see Cohen VI2 p364 f., nos. 2 and 5‑11. The division of the empire between the two seems similar to that between Valerian and Gallienus, and it probably was not without influence on the subsequent similar partition of powers by Diocletian and Maximian.

38 The title of an official of considerable importance at the (p441)Byzantine court. The fact that there is no mention of an imperial cancellarius prior to the fifth century has been used by Seeck as an argument for his theory that the Hist. Aug. is the work of a fifth-century "forger"; see Vol. II Intro., p. x. The point of the present passage, however, seems to lie in the low position of the cancellarius, i.e., as actually a doorkeeper.

39 Since he was consul ordinarius conjointly with Carus in 283, this statement is hardly credible.

40 Only one is known, Magnia Urbica Augusta, whose likeness appears on Carinus' coins as well as on her own; see Cohen VI2 pp405‑408.

41 Also told to the discredit of Elagabalus, as it was to the credit of Severus Alexander that he removed them; see Heliog. xxiii.4; Alex. iv.2.

42 i.e., Constantius I (Chlorus). There seems to be no reason to believe this statement.

43 Otherwise unknown.

44 This vita omits all mention of his campaigns against the Germans and in Britain, as the result of which he assumed the cognomina Germanicus Maximus and Britannicus Maximus.

45 After being called from Rome by the news of Diocletian's assumption of power he overthrew near Verona a usurper named M. Aurelianus Julianus (so his coins, Cohen VI2 pp410‑411; Sabinus Julianus according to Epit. 38.6 and Zosimus, I.73).

46 At the mouth of the river of the same name (mod. Morava), a tributary of the Danube below Belgrade. The scene of the battle is described in Eutropius, IX.20 as between Viminacium (Kostolacz, near the mouth of the Morava) and Aureus Mons (Oresac) about 25 m. further west. According to the Epitome and Zosimus, Carinus was killed by a tribune whose wife he had seduced; according to Eutropius, he was betrayed by his army. As he assumed the consulship (for the third time) on 1 Jan. 285, the battle was after that date.

47 By his victories over the Persians; see note to c. ix.3.

48 By his victories over the Franks and the Alamani and other Germans and his suppression of the revolts of the British pretenders Carausius and Allectus.

49 Unknown.

50 Otherwise unknown, unless it be the place that is mentioned in the title Comes domesticorum et stabuli sacri in an inscription of Stilicho from Rome; see CIL VI.1731 = Dessau, Ins. Sel. 1278.

51 A scaffold suddenly raised aloft and opened to exhibit performers; they are described in Seneca, Epist. 88.22 and Juvenal, iv.122.

52 Probably in celebration of Carus' victory over the Sarmatians (see c. viii.1; ix.4), but the writer seems to be thinking of the Ludi Sarmatici which, according to the Calendar of Philocalus of A.D. 354 (see CIL i2 p276 f.), were held regularly on 25 Nov.‑1 Dec., in honour, apparently, of the victories of Constantine I or Constantius II.

53 See note to Gall. viii.3.

54 The term largitiones came to mean, in the later empire, the public treasury, since largesses from public funds depended entirely on the emperor's generosity.

55 Unknown.

56 See Gall. vi.6.

Thayer's Note: Usually spelled Atrebates. The text here has the unusual form (ab) Atrebatis as from Atrebati (2d decl.); the normal form would be Atrebatibus from Atrebates (3d decl.)

57 Mod. Canosa in Apulia. The wool of this region was famous, and a βίρρος Κανυσεῖνος is valued in the Edict of Diocletian at 4000 denarii (about $25).

Thayer's Note: That 1932 equivalent, in 2004, would be about $330.

Thayer's Notes:

a In finally conceding that a soldier just might pick up a potted quote or two, the author of this vita witnesses only to his own unintelligent taste for stereotypes. If you are embarking on a career as a soldier, you don't need me to tell you, I hope, that very many military men, both in antiquity (to cite just the tip of the iceberg: Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Marcus Aurelius) and in more recent times (T. E. Lawrence, Sir Winston Churchill, Gen. George Patton), have been widely read, and that culture is not only not incompatible with a soldier's career, but downright useful to it.

b Why "at midday" (meridie)? Connecting this with the "filthy fellow", the joking, and the homosexual debauchery earlier suggested, I would read meretrice here, and translate: ". . . a filthy man, with whom he always used to play at being a whore . . ."


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