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This webpage reproduces part of the
Historia Augusta

published in the Loeb Classical Library,

The text is in the public domain.

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(Vol. II) Historia Augusta

 p49  The Life of Opellius​1 Macrinus

1 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] The lives of such emperors, usurpers or Caesars, as held their throne for no long time lie hidden away in darkness, because, in the first place, there is nothing in their private lives worth telling, since they would have remained totally unknown had they not aspired to the throne; and, in the second place, not much can be said about their sovereignty, because they did not hold it long. None the less, we shall bring forward what we have discovered in various historical works — and they shall be facts that are worthy to be related. 2 For there is no man who has not done something or other every day of his life; it is the business of the biographer, however, to relate only those events that are worth the knowing. 3 Junius Cordus,​2 indeed, was fond of publishing the lives of those emperors whom he considered the more obscure. 4 He did not, however, accomplish much; for he found but little information and that not worth noting. He openly declared that he would search out the most trivial details, as though, in dealing with a Trajan, a Pius, or  p51 a Marcus, it should be known how often he went out walking, when he varied his diet, and when he changed his clothes, whom he advanced in public life and at what time. 5 By searching out all this sort of thing and recording it, he filled his books with gossip, whereas either nothing at all should be said of petty matters or certainly very little, and then only when light can thereby be thrown on character. It is character, of course, that we really want to know, but only to a certain extent, that from this the rest may be inferred.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 2 1 Now after the murder of Antoninus Bassianus,​3 Opellius Macrinus, who was his prefect of the guard and had previously been the steward of his private property,​4 laid hold upon the imperial power. Though of humble origin​5 and shameless in spirit as well as in countenance, and though hated by all, both civilians and soldiers, he nevertheless proclaimed himself now Severus and now Antoninus.​6 2 Then he set out at once for the Parthian war​7 and thus gave no opportunity either for the soldiers to form an opinion of him, or for the gossip by which he was beset to gain its full strength. 3 The senators, however, out of hatred for Antoninus Bassianus, received him as emperor gladly, and in all the senate there was but the one cry: 4 "Anyone rather than the fratricide, anyone rather than the incestuous, anyone rather than the filthy, anyone rather than the slayer of the senate and people!"8

5 It may perhaps seem to all a matter for wonder  p53 that Macrinus wished his son Diadumenianus​9 to receive the name Antoninus, when he himself, it was reported, was responsible for the murder of an Antoninus. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 3 1 Concerning this matter I will relate what has been recorded in books of history. The priestess of Caelestis​10 at Carthage was wont, when inspired by the goddess, to predict the truth. Now once, in the reign of Antoninus Pius, she was foretelling the future to the proconsul, who, according to custom, was consulting about the public welfare as well as his own hopes of power, and when she came to the emperors she bade him in a loud voice count the number of times she said Antoninus. Then, to the amazement of all, she uttered the name Antoninus eight times. 2 All interpreted this to mean that Antoninus Pius would reign for eight years, but he exceeded this number and those who had faith in the priestess, either then or later, felt sure that her words had some different meaning. 3 And in fact, if all who bore the name Antoninus be counted, this will be found to be their number. 4 For Pius first, Marcus second, Verus third, Commodus fourth, Caracalla fifth, Geta sixth, Diadumenianus seventh, Elagabalus eighth — all bore the name Antoninus; 5 while the two Gordians, on the other hand, must not be placed among the Antonini, for they either had only their praenomen or were called Antonii, not Antonini.​11 6 Hence it came about that Severus called himself Antoninus, as most writers relate, and Pertinax too and Julianus, and likewise Macrinus;​12 7 and the Antonines themselves, who were the true successors of Antoninus, used this name  p55 rather than their own personal names. Thus some have related it. 8 Others, however, assert that Macrinus gave the name Antoninus to his son Diadumenianus merely for the purpose of removing the soldiers' suspicion that he himself had slain Antoninus. 9 Others, again, declare that so great was the love for this name that the people and soldiers would not deem a man worthy of the imperial power did they not hear him called by the name Antoninus.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 4 1 Now with regard to Macrinus himself, many of the senators, when the news had been brought that Varius Elagabalus was emperor,​13 and when the senate had hailed Alexander as Caesar, related such things as to make it clear that he was ignoble, low, and base. 2 In fact, such statements​14 as these were made by Aurelius Victor, surnamed Pinius:​15 3 that Macrinus under the reign of Commodus was a freedman and a public prostitute, engaged in servile tasks about the imperial palace; that his honour could be purchased and his manner of life was base; that Severus had even dismissed him from his wretched duties and banished him to Africa, where, in order to conceal the disgrace of his condemnation, he devoted himself to reading, pleaded minor cases, engaged in declamation, and finally administered the law; 4 further, that through the support of his fellow-freedman Festus, he was presented with the golden ring,​16 and under Verus Antoninus​17 was made pleader for the privy-purse.​18 5 But not only are these statements reported as doubtful, but others are made by various authors, which also we will not fail to relate. For many have said that he fought in a gladiatorial  p57 combat, received the honorary staff,​19 and then went to Africa; 6 that he was first of all a huntsman in the arena, then a notary, and after that a pleader for the privy-purse — an office from which he was advanced to the very highest honours. 7 Then, when prefect of the guard, after his colleague was banished, he slew his emperor, Antoninus Caracalla,​20 employing such treachery that it did not appear that the Emperor had been slain by him. 8 For by bribing the imperial equerry and holding out great hopes, he caused the report to spread that the Emperor was killed by a conspiracy of the soldiers, because he had incurred their displeasure through his fratricide or his incest.21

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 5 1 Then he seized the imperial power at once and advanced his son Diadumenianus to a share in it, immediately ordering the soldiers, as we have said before, to give him the name Antoninus. 2 Next, he sent back Antoninus' body to Rome to be laid in the tomb of his forefathers.​22 3 He charged the prefect of the guard,​23 formerly his colleague, to perform the duties of his office, and particularly to bury Antoninus with all honour, providing a funeral train worthy of a monarch; for he knew that Antoninus had been greatly beloved by the people because of the garments which he had presented as gifts to the plebs.​24 4 There was also the further reason, that he dreaded a soldiers' uprising, fearing that if this occurred he might be barred from the power, which he had purposed to seize but had accepted with a show of reluctance. Such, indeed, is the way of men, for they say that they are forced to accept what they get for themselves, even through crime. 5 Macrinus  p59 moreover, feared also his colleague, lest he too might desire to rule; for all hoped that he would, and, had he received the support of a single company of soldiers, he himself would not have been unwilling. All, indeed, would most gladly have had him because of their hatred for Macrinus on account of his evil life or his humble origin, for all former emperors had been noble in birth. 6 Furthermore, he emblazoned himself with the name of Severus,​25 although not connected with him by any tie of kin. 7 Hence arose the jest, "Macrinus is as much as a Severus as Diadumenianus is an Antoninus". Nevertheless, in order to prevent an uprising among the soldiers, he at once presented a donative​26 to both the legionaries and the praetorians, rewarding them more liberally than was customary, and as a man would who sought to mitigate the crime of having slain the emperor. 8 Thus did money, as often happens, avail a man whom innocence could not have availed. For Macrinus kept himself in power for some time, though addicted to every kind of evil.27

9 He then sent the senate a letter relating the death of Antoninus, in which he gave him the title of the Deified, at the same time clearing himself of guilt and swearing that he knew nothing of the murder. Thus to his crime (as is the manner of evil men) he added perjury — an act with which it well became a scoundrel to begin.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 6 1 It is of interest to know what manner of oration that was in which he cleared himself when writing to the senate, for thus his shamelessness may be understood, and the sacrilege with which this evil  p61 emperor began his reign. 2 Passages from the speech of the Emperors Macrinus and Diadumenianus:​28 "We could have wished, O Conscript Fathers, to behold Your Clemency, with our beloved Antoninus safe and riding back in triumph. For then indeed would the state be happy and all of us be joyous, were we under the rule of an emperor whom the gods had given us in the place of the Antonines. 3 But inasmuch as an uprising of the soldiers had prevented this from coming to pass, we would inform you, in the first place, of what the army has done concerning ourselves, 4 and, in the second, we decree for him to whom we swore our allegiance the honours of a god, as is indeed our first duty. For the army has deemed no one a more worthy avenger of the murder of Bassianus than his own prefect, whom he himself would certainly have charged with the punishing of the conspiracy, could it have been in his power to detect it while yet alive." 5 And farther on: "They have offered me the imperial power, O Conscript Fathers, and for the time being I have accepted its guardian­ship, but I will retain its governance only if you also desire what has been the desire of the soldiers, to whom I have already ordered a donative to be given as well as all other things, according to the custom of emperors." 6 Likewise, farther on: "To my son Diadumenianus, who is known to you, the soldiers have given both the imperial power and the name — for they have called him Antoninus — that he might be honoured, first with this name, but also with the office of monarch. 7 And this act we beseech you, O Conscript Fathers, to approve with all good and prospering auspices, in order that you may still have with you the name of the Antonines, which  p63 you so greatly love." 8 Likewise, farther on: "For Antoninus,​29 moreover, both the soldiers have decreed divine honours and we decree them, and we request you — though by our power as emperor we might command you — to decree them also, and we ourselves shall dedicate to him statues, two on horseback, two on foot clad in the garb of a soldier, and two seated clad in civil garb, and likewise to the Deified Severus two, clad in the robes of a triumphant general. 9 These measures, O Conscript Fathers, you will order to be carried out in accordance with our dutiful solicitation in behalf of our predecessors."

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 7 1 So, when this letter had been read to the senate, contrary to the general expectation the senate not only received with pleasure the news of Antoninus' death​30 but expressed the hope that Opellius Macrinus would be guardian of the public liberty, first of all enrolling him among the patricians, though he was a man without ancestry​31 and had been only a short time before the steward of the emperor's private property.​32 2 This man, though he had been merely one of the pontifical clerks (whom they now call the Minor Pontifices),​33 the senate made Pontifex Maximus,​34 decreeing him also the surname Pius.​35 3 Nevertheless, for a long time after the letter was read there was silence, for no one at all believed the news of Antoninus' death. 4 But when it was certain that he was slain, the senate reviled him as a tyrant, and forthwith offered Macrinus both the proconsular command and the tribunician power.36

 p65  5 Now to his son, previously called Diadumenianus, he gave the name Antoninus (after he had himself assumed the appellation Felix)​37 in order to avert the suspicion of having slain Antoninus. 6 This same name was afterwards taken by Varius Elagabalus also,​38 who claimed to be the son of Bassianus, a most filthy creature and the son of a harlot.​39 7 Indeed, there are still in existence some verses written by a certain poet, which relate how the name of the Antonines, which began with Pius, gradually sank from one Antonine to another to the lowest degradation; for Marcus alone by his manner of life exalted that holy name, while Verus lowered, and Commodus even profaned the reverence due to the consecrated name. 8 And what can we say of Caracalla Antoninus, and who of this youth Diadumenianus? And finally, what of Elagabalus, the last of the Antonines, who is said to have lived in the lowest depths of foulness?

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 8 1 And so, having been acclaimed emperor, Macrinus assumed the imperial power and set out against the Parthians with a great array,​40 eager to blot out the lowliness of his family and the infamy of his early life by a magnificent victory. 2 But after fighting a battle with the Parthians he was killed in a revolt of the legions, which had deserted to Varius Elagabalus.​41 He reigned, however, for more than a year.

3 Though defeated in the war which Antoninus had waged — for Artabanus exacted a cruel revenge for the death of his subjects — Macrinus, nevertheless, at first fought stoutly. But later he sent out envoys and sued for peace, which, now that Antoninus was  p67 slain, the Parthian granted readily.​42 4 Thereupon he proceeded to Antioch and gave himself over to luxury and thus furnished the army just grounds for putting him to death and taking up the cause of the supposed son of Bassianus, Elagabalus Bassianus Varius, afterwards called both Bassianus and Antoninus.43

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 9 1 Now there was a certain woman of the city of Emesa,​44 called Maesa​45 or Varia; she was the sister of Julia, the wife of Severus Pertinax the African,​46 and after the death of Antoninus Bassianus she had been expelled from her home in the palace through the arrogance of Macrinus — though Macrinus did grant to her all her possessions which she had gathered together during a long period. 2 This woman had two daughters, Symiamira​47 and Mamaea,​48 the elder of whom was the mother of Elagabalus; he assumed the names Bassianus and Antoninus, for the Phoenicians give the name Elagabalus to the Sun.​49 3 Elagabalus, moreover, was notable for his beauty and stature​a and for the priesthood which he held, and he was well known to all frequented the temple, and particularly to the soldiers. 4 To these, Maesa, or Varia as she was also called, declared that this Bassianus was the son of Antoninus, and this was  p69 gradually made known to all the soldiers.​50 5 Maesa herself, furthermore, was very rich (whence also Elagabalus was most wasteful of money), and through her promises to the soldiers the legions were persuaded to desert Macrinus. 6 For after she and her household had been received into the town​51 by night, her grandson was hailed as Antoninus and presented with the imperial insignia.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 10 1 When the news of this was brought to Macrinus, then encamped near Antioch, marvelling at the audacity of the women and at the same time regarding them with contempt, he sent Julianus the prefect​52 with the legions to lay siege to them. 2 But when Antoninus was shown to these troops, all turned to him in wonderful affection, and, killing Julianus the prefect, they all went over to him. 3 Then, having a part of the army on his side, Antoninus marched against Macrinus, who was hastening to meet him. A battle was then fought,​53 in which, as a result of the soldiers' treachery to him and their love for Antoninus, Macrinus was defeated. He did, indeed, escape from the battle together with his son and a few others, but he and Diadumenianus were afterwards slain in a certain village of Bithynia,​54 and his head was cut off and carried to Antoninus.

4 It should be recorded, furthermore, that the boy Diadumenianus is said to have been made merely Caesar and not Augustus,​55 for many have related  p71 that he had equal power with his father. 5 The son also was slain, having gotten from his power only this — that he should be killed by the soldiery. 6 For in his life there will be found nothing worthy of being related, save that he was annexed, as a sort of bastard, to the name of the Antonines.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 11 1 Macrinus, in his life as emperor, was, in spite of all, rather rigid and stern, thinking that so he could bury in oblivion all his previous career, though in fact this very sternness of his presented an opportunity for criticising and attacking him. 2 For he wished to bear the names Severus and Pertinax,​56 both of which seemed to him to connote harshness, and when the senate conferred on him the names Pius and Felix, he accepted the name of Felix but refused that of Pius.​57 3 This refusal, it seems, was the cause of an epigram against him, written by a certain Greek poet and not without charm, which has been rendered into Latin in the following vein:

4 "Play-actor agèd and sordid, oppressive, cruel, and wicked,

Blest and unrighteous at once — that was the thing he would be.

Righteous he wished not to be, but yet would gladly be happy;

But this which nature denies, reason will not allow.

Righteous and blessèd together he might have appeared and been surnamed,

Unrighteous, unblessèd too, now and forever is he."

5 These verses some Latin writer or other displayed in the Forum together with those which had been  p73 published in Greek. On hearing them, Macrinus, it is said, replied in the following lines:

6 "Had but the Fates made the Grecian as wretched a poet as this one,

Latin composer of verse, gallows-bird aping a bard,

Naught had the populace learned and naught learned the senate; no huckster

Ever had tried to compose scurrilous verses on me."

7 In these lines, which are much worse even than the other Latin verses, Macrinus believed that he had made adequate reply, but he became no less of a laughing-stock than the poet who tried to translate from the Greek into Latin.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 12 1 Macrinus, then, was arrogant and bloodthirsty and desirous of ruling in military fashion. He found fault even with the discipline of former times and lauded Severus alone above all others. 2 For he even crucified soldiers and always used the punishments meted out to slaves, and when he had to deal with a mutiny among the troops, he usually decimated the soldiers — but sometimes he only centimated them. This last was an expression of his own, for he used to say that he was merciful in putting to death only one in a hundred, whereas they deserved to have one in ten or one in twenty put to death. 3 It would be too long to relate all his acts of brutality, but nevertheless I will describe one, no great one in his belief, yet one which was more distressing than all his tyrannical cruelties. 4 There were some soldiers who had had intercourse with their host's maid-servant, who for some time had led a life of ill-repute. Learning of their offence through one of his spies,​58 5 he  p75 commanded them to be brought before him and questioned them as to whether it were really true. When their guilt was proved, he gave orders that two oxen of extraordinary size should be cut open rapidly while still alive, and that the soldiers should be thrust one into each, with their heads protruding so that they could talk to each other. In this way he inflicted punishment on them, though neither our ancestors nor the men of his own time ever ordained any such penalty, even for those guilty of adultery. 6 Yet in spite of all this, he warred against the Parthians,​59 the Armenians,​60 and the Arabs who are called the Blest,​61 and with no less bravery than success.

7 A tribune who allowed a sentry-post to be left unguarded he caused to be bound under a wheeled waggon and then dragged living or dead all through the entire march. 8 He even reproduced the punishment inflicted by Mezentius,​62 who used to bind live men to dead and thus force them to die consumed by slow decay. 9 Hence it came about that even in the Circus, when general applause broke forth in honour of Diadumenianus, some one cried out:

"Peerless in beauty the youth,"

"Not deserving to have as his father Mezentius."​63

10 He also put living men into walls, which he then built up. Those guilty of adultery he always burned alive, fastening their bodies together. A slave who had fled from his master and had been found he would sentence to a combat with the sword in the public games. 11 A public informer, if he could not make good his accusation, he would condemn to death; if he could make it good, he would present  p77 him with his reward in money and send him away in disgrace.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 13 1 In the administration of the law he was not without wisdom, and he even determined to rescind all decisions of earlier emperors, in order that judgments might be rendered on the basis of the law and not of a decision; for he used to say that it would be a crime to give the force of law to the whims of Commodus and Caracalla and other untrained men, when Trajan had always refused to render decisions in response to petitions, in order that rulings which might seem to have been made out of favour might not be applied to other cases.

2 In bestowing largesses of grain he was most generous, while in gifts of money he was niggardly. 3 But in flogging his palace-attendants he was so unjust, so unreasonable, and so cruel, that his slaves used to call him Macellinus​64 instead of Macrinus, because his palace was so stained with the blood of his household-servants that it looked like a shambles. 4 In his use of food and wine he was most gluttonous, sometimes even to the point of drunkenness, but only in the evening hours. For if he had breakfasted even in private with great simplicity, he would be most extravagant in his dinner. 5 He used to invite literary men to his banquets, as though he would perforce be more sparing in his diet if conversing about liberal studies.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 14 1 But when men thought of his old-fashioned niggardliness and saw the savagery of his ways, they could not bear that so malodorous a man should have the imperial power, and most of all the soldiers, who remembered many deeds of his that were most cruel and sometimes even most base. So, forming a plot,  p79 they murdered him and his son,​65 the boy Diadumenianus, surnamed Antoninus, of whom it was said that he was Antoninus only in his dreams — 2 a saying which gave rise to the following verses:

"This we beheld in our dreams, fellow-citizens, if I mistake not:

How that the Antonine name was borne by that immature stripling,

Sprung from a father corrupt, though virtuous truly his mother;

Lovers a hundred she knew and a hundred were those whom she courted.​66

Lover was also the bald-head, who later was known as her husband;

Pius indeed, aye Marcus indeed, for ne'er was he Verus."​67

3 These lines have been translated from Greek into Latin. In the Greek they are very well written, but they seem to me to have been translated by come commonplace poet. 4 When they were read to Macrinus he composed iambics, which have not been preserved but are said to have been most delightful. 5 They were, for that matter, destroyed in that same uprising in which he himself was slain, when all his possessions were overrun by the soldiers.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 15 1 The manner of his death, as we have previously related,​68 was the following: After the army went over to Elagabalus Antoninus, Macrinus fled, but he was defeated and killed in a rural district of Bithynia,​69 while his followers were partly forced to surrender, partly killed, and partly put to flight. 2 So Elagabalus achieved glory because he was thought to have avenged his father's death,​70 and so established  p81 himself on the throne, which he disgraced by his enormous vices, his extravagance, his baseness, his feasting, his arrogance, and his savagery. He, too, was fated to meet with an end corresponding to his life.71

3 These are the facts we have learned concerning Macrinus, though many give different versions of certain details, according to the character of each man's history; 4 these we have gathered together from many sources and have presented to Your Serenity, Diocletian Augustus, because we have seen that you are desirous of learning about the emperors of former times.

The Editor's Notes:

1 In the manuscripts of the Historia Augusta, Victor, and Eutropius, the gentile name of Macrinus is regularly spelled Opilius. On coins and in inscriptions, however, it is invariably given as Opellius, and this is evidently the correct form.

2 On the biographer Aelius Junius Cordus see Introduction to Vol. I p. xviii.

3 See Carac. VI.6‑VII.2.

4 He was procurator rei privatae (see also c. VII.1). On this office see note to Com. XX.1.

5 So also Dio; see LXXVIII.11.1. On the other hand, there seems to be no foundation for the insulting remarks said to have been made about him after his downfall; see c. IV.1‑6.

6 His official name after his accession was M. Opellius (p51)Severus Macrinus Augustus. He never bore the name Antoninus.

7 In the summer of 217; see c. VIII.3 and note.

8 The same attitude is shown in Dio, LXXVIII.18.

9 He is called Diadumenus in the Historia Augusta and by Eutropius and Victor. On coins and in inscriptions, however, and in Dio and Herodian his name is invariably given as Diadumenianus, and this is evidently the correct form. After his father's accession to power he was officially called M. Opellius Antoninus Diadumenianus Caesar.

10 See Pert. IV.2 and note.

11 See Gord. IV.7 and note.

12 None of these four ever assumed the name Antoninus.

13 See c. IXX.

14 On these statements see note to c. II.1.

15 Otherwise unknown and perhaps wholly fictitious.

16 Worn by members of the equestrian order as a sign of their rank.

17 This is, of course, not Lucius Verus, for Macrinus was not born until 164; either Commodus or Severus must be meant. Such an error in the name of the emperor is a fair indication of the value of the whole passage.

18 See note to Hadr. XX.6.

19 Given to a gladiator when honourably discharged.

Thayer's Note: For fuller details and sources, see this section of the article Gladiatores in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

20 See Carac. VI.6‑VII.2.

21 See Carac. X.1 and note.

22 See Carac. IX.12.

23 Oclatinius Adventus. Macrinus made him a member of the senate, appointed him prefect of the city for a short time, and finally had him elected consul with himself for 218; see Dio, LXXVIII.14.2‑4. The statement of §5 that Adventus would not have been unwilling to take the imperial power is also made by Dio; Herodian, on the other hand, records (IV.14.1) that the soldiers offered it to him but he refused it.

24 See Carac. IX.7‑8.

25 See c. II and note.

26 See Dio, LXXVIII.19.2. The language of Dio is obscure, but he seems to say that when the name Antoninus was bestowed on Diadumenianus, Macrinus gave each soldier a second donative of 3000 sesterces, indicating that he had presented the same sum to them on his accession. Entirely different figures are given in the fictitious speech in Diad. II.1.

27 There seems to be no ground for this statement.

28 This speech is, of course, wholly fictitious; see Intro. to Vol. I p. xix f. An altogether different version, probably equally fictitious, is given in Herodian, V.1.

29 i.e. Caracalla; see Carac. XI.5 and note.

30 See note to c. II.4.

31 See c. II.1 and note.

32 See note to Com. XX.1.

33 This statement is taken directly from Livy, XXII.57.3. The pontifices minores were originally servants of the pontifices. In the course of time they formed a corporation of their own and gradually acquired more and more prestige, until, in the imperial period, their office was one of the most respected of the priesthoods open to the equestrian order; see G. Wissowa, Religion u. Kultus d. Römer, p447.

Thayer's Note: For fuller details and sources, see this section of the article Pontifex in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

34 This office was held by every emperor.

35 He frequently bears this name in inscriptions. In c. XI.2, he is said to have refused it.

36 See note to Pius IV.7.

37 So also c. XI.2. He frequently bears this name in inscriptions.

38 Both it and Pius are among the cognomina regularly borne by Elagabalus.

39 See Heliog. II.1‑2.

40 See c. II.2 and VIII.3 and note.

41 See c. IX.

42 This war, begun in the summer of 217, is also mentioned in c. II.2. According to Dio, LXXVIII.26.2‑27.2, Macrinus was defeated at Nisibis in Mesopotamia by the Parthian king Artabanus, and in 218 surrendered all prisoners and gave presents to Artabanus amounting to 200 million sesterces. The account of the battle and the ensuing negotiations, as given by Herodian (IV.15), is as non-committal as that of the biography. According to Dio, LXXVIII.27.3, the senate, on the receipt of Macrinus's account of the battle, voted a supplicatio and conferred on him the cognomen Parthicus — which he refused to accept. Coins were also issued with the legend Victoria Parthica; see Cohen, IV2 pp303‑304, nos. 133‑141.

43 On his names see note to Heliog. I.i.

44 In central Syria, on the Orontes. It is now called Homs.

45 Julia Maesa, the daughter of Bassianus, the high-priest of the Sun-god worshipped at Emesa. There is no evidence that she ever bore the name Varia. Her husband was Julius Avitus.

46 i.e., Septimius Severus.

47 For her name see note to Heliog. II.1.

48 Julia Mamaea, the mother of Severus Alexander; see note to Heliog. V.1.

49 See note to Heliog. I.5.

50 The Third Legion, Gallica, which was encamped near Emesa; see Herodian, V.3.9. The following account of the revolution against Macrinus led by Maesa agrees with the detailed and reasonable narrative of Herodian and the fragments of Dio (LXXVIII.31‑38). It is the only portion of this biography that has any historical value. On Maesa's claim that her grandson was a natural son of Caracalla see note to Heliog. I.1.

51 i.e., the camp of the Third Legion.

52 Ulpius Julianus, the prefect of the guard.

53 At a village 180 stadia from Antioch, on the 8th June, 218, according to Dio, LXXVIII.37.3; 39.1. Both Dio and Herodian relate that Macrinus fled from the field before the battle was finished.

54 Macrinus was captured at Chalcedon on the Bosphorus and put to death on the journey back to Antioch. He had sent Diadumenianus to the Parthian king, but the boy was captured on the way and killed; see Dio, LXXVIII.40.1.

55 This statement is technically correct, for the title of Augustus was never conferred on him officially. On coins of Antioch, however, he has the titles of Αὐτοκράτωρ (Imperator) and Σεβαστός (Augustus); see Eckhel, Doctrina NumorumVII p242. He was created Imperator by his father after the defeat of Julianus; see Dio, LXXVIII.34.2.

56 He never bore the name Pertinax.

57 See c. VII. 2 and 5 and notes.

58 See note to Hadr. XI.4.

59 See c. VIII.3.

60 Tiridates, the claimant to the Armenian throne, went through the usual form of homage and received the diadem from Macrinus; see Dio, LXXVIII.27.4.

61 Nothing is known of any campaign in Arabia Felix.

62 The mythical king of Caere in Etruria, who fought with Turnus against Aeneas. For the punishment here described see Vergil, Aeneid, VIII.485‑488.

63 The first half-line is from AeneidXII.275, where the phrase is used of an Arcadian killed by Tolumnius; the second describes Turnus, son of Mezentius, and is taken from AeneidVII.654.

64 "Butcher," a comic formation from macellum, a meat-market.

65 This is incorrect; see c. X.3 and note.

66 Cf. Diad. V.1.

67 Apparently a pun on the meaning of verus = "true".

68 c. X.3.

69 But see c. X.3 and notes.

70 i.e., Caracalla's; see c. IX.4.

71 See Heliog. XVII.1‑3.

Thayer's Note:

a The only portrait of him I have seen, identified as him by comparison with his coins, is the statue-bust in the Musei Capitolini, is that of a very young man, slightly-built and pretty rather than handsome, with an air of mischievous vapidity: the photo is in a footnote to his own Life.

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