[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
mail:
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Clicca hic ad Latinam paginam legendam.]
Latine

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]
Italiano

[Link to a series of help pages]
Help
[Link to the next level up]
Up
[Link to my homepage]
Home

[image ALT: link to previous section]
Didius Julianus

This webpage reproduces part of the
Historia Augusta

published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1921

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!


[image ALT: link to next section]
Pescennius Niger

(Vol. I) Historia Augusta

p371 The Life of Septimius Severus

1 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] On the murder of Didius Julianus, Severus, a native of Africa, took possession of the empire. 2 His native city was Leptis, his father was Geta;1 his ancestors were Roman knights before citizenship was made universal.2 Fulvia Pia was his mother, Aper and Severus, both of consular rank,3 his great-uncles. His father's father was Macer, his mother's father Fulvius Pius. 3 He himself was born six days before the Ides of April,4 in the first consulship of Severus and the second of Erucius Clarus. 4 While still a child, even before he had been drilled in the Latin and Greek literatures (with which he was very well acquainted), he would engage in no game with the other children except playing judge, and on such occasions he would have the rods and axes borne before him, and, surrounded by the throng of children, he would take his seat and thus give judgments. 5 In his eighteenth year he delivered an oration in public. Soon after, in order to continue his studies, he came to Rome; and with the support of his kinsman p373Septimius Severus, who had already been consul twice, he sought and secured from the Deified Marcus the broad stripe.5

6 Soon after he had come to Rome he fell in with a stranger who at that very moment was reading the life of the Emperor Hadrian, and he snatched at this incident as an omen of future prosperity. 7 He had still another omen of empire: for once, when he was invited to an imperial banquet and came wearing a cloak, when he should have worn his toga,6 he was lent an official toga of the emperor's own. 8 And that same night he dreamed that he tugged at the udders of a wolf, like Remus and Romulus. 9 He sat down, furthermore, in the emperor's chair, which a servant had carelessly left accessible, being quite unaware that this was not allowed. 10 And once, while he was sleeping in a tavern, a snake coiled about his head, and when his friends awoke from their sleep and shouted at it, it departed without doing him any harm.

2 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] His early manhood was filled with follies and not free from crime. 2 He was charged with adultery, but pleaded his own case and was acquitted by the proconsul Julianus,7 the man who was his immediate predecessor in the proconsulship, his colleague in the consulship, and likewise his predecessor on the throne. 3 Omitting the office of tribune of the soldiers, he became quaestor and performed his duties with diligence. At the expiration of his quaestorship he was allotted the province of Baetica,8 and from there he crossed over to Africa in order to settle his p375domestic affairs, for his father had meanwhile died. 4 But while he was in Africa, Sardinia was assigned him in place of Baetica, because the latter was being ravaged by the Moors.9 5 He therefore served his quaestorship in Sardinia, and afterwards was appointed aide to the proconsul of Africa. 6 While he was in this office, a certain fellow-townsman of his, a plebeian, embraced him as an old comrade, though the fasces were being carried before him; whereupon he had the fellow beaten with clubs and then ordered a proclamation to be made by the herald to this effect: "Let no plebeian embrace without due cause a legate of the Roman people". 7 On account of this incident, legates, who had previously gone on foot, thereafter rode in carriages. 8 About this time, also, being worried about the future, he had recourse to an astrologer in a certain city of Africa. The astrologer, when he had cast the horoscope, saw high destinies in store for him, but added: "Tell me your own nativity and not that of another man". 9 And when Severus swore an oath that it was really his, the astrologer revealed to him all the things that did later come to pass.

3 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] He was promoted to be tribune of the plebs by order of the Emperor Marcus, and he performed his duties with austerity and vigour. 2 It was then that he married Marcia,10 but of her he made no mention in the history of his life as a private man.11 Afterwards, however, while emperor, he erected statues in her honour. 3 In the thirty-second year of his life Marcus appointed him praetor, although he was not p377one of the Emperor's candidates but only one of the ordinary crowd of competitors.12 4 He was thereupon sent to Spain, and here he had a dream, first that he was told to repair the temple of Augustus at Tarraco,13 which at that time was falling into ruin, 5 and then that from the top of a very high mountain he beheld Rome and all the world, while the provinces sang together to the accompaniment of the lyre and flute. Though absent from the city, he gave games.14 6 Presently he was put in command of the Fourth Legion, the Scythica, stationed near Massilia,15 7 and after that he proceeded to Athens — partly in order to continue his studies and perform certain sacred rites, and partly on account of the public buildings and ancient monuments there. Here he suffered certain wrongs at the hands of the Athenians; and on that account he became their foes, and afterwards, as emperor, took vengeance on them by curtailing their rights. 8 After this he was appointed to the province of Lugdunensis as legate. 9 He had meanwhile lost his wife, and now, wishing to take another, he made inquiries about the horoscopes of marriageable women, being himself no mean astrologer; and when he learned that there was a woman in Syria whose horoscope predicted that she would wed a king (I mean Julia,16 of course), he sought her for his wife, and through the mediation of his friends secured her. By her, presently, he became a father.17 4[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] And because he was strict, honourable and self-restrained, he was beloved by the Gauls as was no one else.

p379 2 ºNext he ruled the Pannonias18 with proconsular powers, and after this he drew in the allotment the proconsular province of Sicily. At Rome, meanwhile, he was presented with a second son.19 3 While he was in Sicily he was indicted for consulting about the imperial dignity with seers and astrologers, but, because Commodus was now beginning to be detested,20 he was acquitted by the prefects of the guard to whom he had been handed over for trial, while his accuser was crucified. 4 He now served his first consulship, having Apuleius Rufinus21 for his colleague — an office to which Commodus appointed him from among a large number of aspirants. After the consulship he spent about a year free from public duties; then, on the recommendation of Laetus, he was put in charge of the army in Germany.22 5 Just as he was setting out for Germany, he acquired elaborate gardens, although he had previously kept only an unpretentious dwelling in the city and a single farm in Venetia. 6 And now, when he was reclining on the ground in these gardens, partaking of a frugal supper with his children, his elder son, who was then five years old, divided the fruit, when it was served, with rather a bounteous hand among his young playmates. And when his father reproved him, saying: "Be more sparing; for you have not the riches of a king," the five-year‑old child replied: "No, but I shall have". 7 On coming to Germany, Severus conducted himself in this office in such a manner as to increase a reputation which was already illustrious.

p381 5 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] So far did he pursue his military career as a subject. Now, when it was learned that Commodus had been slain and that Julianus was holding the throne amid general hatred,23 at the behest of many, but against his own will, he was hailed emperor by the German legions; this took place at Carnuntum on the Ides of August.24 2 A thousand sesterces — a sum which no prince had ever given before — were presented to each soldier.25 3 And then, after garrisoning the provinces which he was leaving in his rear, he hastened his march on Rome. Wherever his path lay, all yielded to him, and the legions in Illyricum and Gaul26 had already, under compulsion from their generals, espoused his cause, 4 for he was universally regarded as the avenger of Pertinax. 5 Meanwhile, at Julianus' instigation, the senate declared him a public enemy,27 and legates were sent to his army with a message from the senate ordering his soldiers in the name of the senate to desert him.28 6 And in truth, when Severus heard that legates had been sent by unanimous order of the senate, he was at first terrified; afterwards, however, he managed to bribe the legates to address the army in his favour and then to desert to his side themselves.29 7 When Julianus learned of this, he caused the senate to pass a decree that Severus and he should share the throne.30 8 Whether this was done in good faith or treacherously is not clear; for already, ere this, Julianus had sent certain fellows, notorious assassins of generals, to murder Severus,31 and indeed he had sent men p383to murder Pescennius Niger as well,32 who, at the instigation of the armies in Syria,33 had also declared himself emperor in opposition to Julianus. 9 However, Severus escaped the clutches of the men whom Julianus had sent to kill him and despatched a letter to the guard instructing them either to desert Julianus or to kill him; and his order was immediately obeyed.34 10 For not only was Julianus slain in the Palace, but Severus was invited to Rome. 11 And so, by the mere nod of his head, Severus became the victor — a thing that had befallen no man ever before — and still under arms hastened towards Rome.

6 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] After the murder of Julianus Severus still remained encamped and in his tents as though he were advancing through a hostile territory; the senate, therefore, sent a delegation of a hundred senators to bear him congratulations and sue for pardon. 2 And when these met him at Interamna,a they were searched for concealed weapons and only then suffered to greet him as he stood armed and in the midst of armed men. 3 But on the following day, after all the palace attendants had arrived, he presented each member of the delegation 4 with seven hundred and twenty pieces of gold,35 and sent them on ahead, granting to such as desired, however, the privilege of remaining and returning to Rome with himself. 5 Without further delay, he appointed as prefect of the guard that Flavius Juvenalis whom Julianus had chosen for his third prefect.36

p385 6 Meanwhile at Rome a mighty panic seized both soldiers and civilians, for they realized that Severus was advancing under arms and against those who had declared him a public enemy. 7 The excitement was further increased when Severus learned that Pescennius Niger had been hailed emperor by the legions in Syria. 8 However, the proclamations and letters that Pescennius sent to the people and senate were, with the connivance of the messengers who had been sent with them, intercepted by Severus, for he wished to prevent their being published among the people or read in the senate-house. 9 At the same time, too, he considered abdicating in favour of Clodius Albinus, to whom, it appeared, the power of a Caesar37 had already been decreed at the instance of Commodus. 10 But instead, he sent Heraclitus to secure Britain38 and Plautianus to seize Niger's children,39 in fear of these men and having formed a correct opinion about them. 11 And when he arrived at Rome, he ordered the guard to meet him clad only in their undergarments and without arms; then, with armed men posted all about him, he summoned them, thus apparelled, to the tribunal.40

7 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Severus, armed himself and attended by armed men, entered the city and went up to the Capitol;41 thence he proceeded, still fully armed, to the Palace, having the standards, which he had taken from the praetorians, borne before him not raised erect but trailing on the ground. 2 And then throughout the whole p387city, in temples, in porticoes, and in the dwellings on the Palatine, the soldiers took up their quarters as though in barracks; 3 and Severus' entry inspired both hate and fear, for the soldiers seized goods they did not pay for and threatened to lay the city waste. 4 On the next day, accompanied not only by armed soldiers but also by a body of armed friends, Severus appeared before the senate, and there, in the senate-house, gave his reasons for assuming the imperial power, alleging in defence thereof that men notorious for assassinating generals had been sent by Julianus to murder him.42 5 He secured also the passage of a senatorial decree to the effect that the emperor should not be permitted to put any senator to death without first consulting the senate.43 6 But while he was still in the senate-house, his soldiers, with threats of mutiny, demanded of the senate ten thousand sesterces each, citing the precedent of those who had conducted Augustus Octavian to Rome and received a similar sum.44 7 And although Severus himself desired to repress them, he found himself unable; eventually, however, by giving them a bounty he managed to appease them and then sent them away.45 8 Thereupon he held for an effigy of Pertinax46 a funeral such as is given a censor,47 elevated him to a place among the deified emperors and gave him, besides, a flamen and a Helvian Brotherhood, composed of the priests who had previously constituted the Marcian Brotherhood.48 9 Moreover, he himself was, at his own command, given the name Pertinax;49 although later he p389wished it withdrawn, for fear that it would prove an omen.

8 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Next he freed his friends from debt. He then settled dowries on his daughters and gave them in marriage to Probus and Aetius. As for his son-in‑law Probus, when he offered to make him prefect of the city, Probus declined, averring that it meant less to him to be prefect of the city than son-in‑law to the emperor. 2 However, he immediately appointed each of them consul and made each rich. 3 Soon thereafter he appeared before the senate, and bringing in accusations against the friends of Julianus, caused them to be outlawed and put to death. 4 He heard a vast number of lawsuits, and magistrates who had been accused by the provincials he punished severely whenever the accusations against them were proved; 5 and finding the grain-supply at a very low ebb, he managed it so well that on departing this life he left the Roman people a surplus to the amount of seven years' tribute.

6 And now he set out to remedy the situation in the East, still making no public mention of Niger. 7 None the less, however, he sent troops to Africa, for fear that Niger might advance through Libya and Egypt and seize this province, and thereby distress the Roman people with a scarcity of grain.50 8 Then, leaving Domitius Dexter as prefect of the city in place of Bassus, within thirty days of his coming to Rome he set out again;51 9 and he had proceeded from the city no farther than Saxa Rubra52 when he had to face a great mutiny in his army, which arose on account of the place selected for pitching camp. 10 Then his brother Geta53 came at once to meet him, but merely received orders to rule the province already p391in his charge, though Geta had other hopes. 11 Niger's children, who were brought to him, he treated with the same care that he showed his own.54 12 Previous to this, he had sent a legion to occupy Greece and Thrace, and thereby prevent Niger from seizing them. 13 But Niger already held Byzantium, and now wishing to seize Perinthus too, he slew a great number of this force and accordingly, together with Aemilianus,55 was declared an enemy to the state.56 14 He next proposed joint rule with Severus; this was rejected with scorn. 15 As a matter of fact, Severus did promise him an unmolested exile if he wished it,57 but refused to pardon Aemilianus. 16 Soon thereafter Aemilianus was defeated by Severus' generals at the Hellespont58 and fled first to Cyzicus and from there to another city, and here he was put to death by order of Severus' generals. 17 Niger's own forces, moreover, were routed by the same generals.59 9[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] On receipt of this news Severus despatched letters to the senate as if the whole affair were finished. And not long afterwards he met with Niger near Cyzicus,60 slew him, and paraded his head on a pike. 2 Niger's children, whom he had maintained in the same state as his own,61 he sent into exile after this event, together with their mother.

3 He sent a letter to the senate announcing the victory,62 but he inflicted no punishment upon any of p393the senators who had sided with Niger,63 with the exception of one man. 4 Towards the citizens of Antioch he was more resentful, because they had laughed at him in his administration of the East and also had aided Niger with supplies. 5 Eventually he deprived them of many privileges. The citizens of Neapolis in Palestine, because they had long been in arms on Niger's side,64 he deprived of all their civic rights, 6 and to many individuals, other than members of the senatorial order, who had followed Niger he meted out cruel punishments. 7 Many communities,65 too, which had been on Niger's side, were punished with fines and degradation; 8 and such senators as had seen active service on Niger's side with the title of general or tribune were put to death.

9 Next, he engaged in further operations in the region about Arabia66 and brought the Parthians back to allegiance and also the Adiabeni — all of whom had sided with Pescennius. 10 For this exploit, after he returned home, he was given a triumph and the names Arabicus, Adiabenicus, and Parthicus.67 11 He refused the triumph, however, lest he seem to triumph for a victory over Romans; and he declined the name Parthicus lest he hurt the Parthians' feelings.

10 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] And then, just as he was returning to Rome after the civil war caused by Niger, he received news p395of another civil war, caused by Clodius Albinus,68 who had revolted in Gaul.69 It was because of this revolt that Niger's children and their mother were later put to death.70 2 As for Albinus, Severus at once declared him a public foe, and likewise those who, in their letters to him or replies to his letters, had expressed themselves as favourably inclined to him. 3 As he was advancing against Albinus, moreover, and had reached Viminacium71 on his march, he gave his elder son Bassianus the name Aurelius Antoninus72 and the title of Caesar,73 in order to destroy whatever hopes of succeeding to the throne his brother Geta had conceived. 4 His reason for giving his son the name Antoninus was that he had dreamed that an Antoninus would succeed him. 5 It was because of this dream, some believe, that Geta74 also was called Antoninus,75 in order that he too might succeed to the throne. 6 Others, however, think that Bassianus was given the name Antoninus because Severus himself wished to pass over into the family of Marcus.76

7 At first, Severus' generals77 were worsted by those of Albinus;78 but when, in his anxiety, he consulted augurs in Pannonia, he learned that he would be p397the victor, and that his opponent would neither fall into his hands nor yet escape, but would die close by the water. 8 Many of Albinus' friends soon deserted and came over to Severus; and many of his generals were captured, all of whom Severus punished. 11 Meanwhile, after many operations had been carried on in Gaul with varying success, Severus had his first successful encounter with Albinus at Tinurtium.79 2 Through the fall of his horse, however, he was at one time in the utmost peril; and it was even believed that he had been slain by a blow with a ball of lead, and the army almost elected another emperor.80 3 It was at this time that Severus, on reading the resolutions passed by the senate in praise of Clodius Celsinus, who was a native of Hadrumetum and Albinus' kinsman,81 became highly incensed at the senate, as though it had recognized Albinus by this act, and issued a decree that Commodus should be placed among the deified,82 as though he could take vengeance on the senate by this sort of thing.83 4 He proclaimed the deification of Commodus to the soldiers first, and then announced it to the senate in a letter, to which he added a discourse on his own victory. 5 Next, he gave orders that the bodies of the senators who had been slain in the battle should be mutilated. 6 And then, when Albinus' body was brought before him, he had him beheaded while still half alive,84 gave orders that his head should be taken to Rome, and followed up the order with a letter. 7 Albinus was defeated on the eleventh day before the Kalends of March.

p399 The rest of Albinus' body was, by Severus' order, laid out in front of his own home, and kept there for a long time exposed to view. 8 Furthermore, Severus himself rode on horseback over the body, and when the horse shied, he spoke to it and loosed the reins, that it might trample boldly. 9 Some add that he ordered Albinus' body to be cast into the Rhone, and also the bodies of his wife and children.

12 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Countless persons who had sided with Albinus were put to death,85 among them numerous leading men and many distinguished women, and all their goods were confiscated and went to swell the public treasury. Many nobles of the Gauls and Spains were also put to death at this time. 2 Finally, he gave his soldiers sums of money such as no emperor had ever given before. 3 Yet as a result of these confiscations, he left his sons a fortune greater than any other emperor had left to his heirs, for he had made a large part of the gold in the Gauls, Spains, and Italy imperial property. 4 At this time the office of steward for private affairs86 was first established. 5 After Albinus' death many who remained loyal to him were defeated by Severus in battle. 6 At this same time, however, he received word that the legion in Arabia had gone over to Albinus.87

7 And so, after having taken harsh vengeance for Albinus' revolt by putting many men to death and exterminating Albinus' family, he came to Rome filled with wrath at the people and senate. 8 He delivered a eulogy of Commodus before the senate and before an assembly of the people and declared him a god; he averred, moreover, that Commodus had been unpopular p401only among the degraded.88 9 Indeed, it was evident that Severus was openly furious. After this he spoke about the mercy he had shown, whereas he was really exceedingly blood-thirsty and executed the senators enumerated below.89 13[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] He put to death without even a fair trial the following noblemen: Mummius Secundinus, Asellius Claudianus, 2 Claudius Rufus, Vitalius Victor, Papius Faustus, Aelius Celsus, Julius Rufus, Lollius Professus, Aurunculeius Cornelianus, Antonius Balbus, Postumius Severus, Sergius Lustralis, 3 Fabius Paulinus, Nonius Gracchus, Masticius Fabianus, Casperius Agrippinus, Ceionius Albinus, 4 Claudius Sulpicianus, Memmius Rufinus, Casperius Aemilianus, Cocceius Verus, Erucius Clarus, 5 Aelius Stilo, Clodius Rufinus, Egnatuleius Honoratus, 6 Petronius Junior, the six Pescennii, Festus, Veratianus, Aurelianus, Materianus, Julianus, and Albinus; the three Cerellii, Macrinus, Faustinianus, and Julianus; 7 Herennius Nepos, Sulpicius Canus, Valerius Catullinus, Novius Rufus, Claudius Arabianus, and Marcius Asellio. 8 And yet he who murdered all these distinguished men, many of whom had been consuls and many praetors, while all were of high estate, is regarded by the Africans as a god. 9 He falsely accused Cincius Severus of attempting his life by poison, and thereupon put him to death; next, he cast to the lions Narcissus, the man who had strangled Commodus.90 14[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] And besides, he put to death many men from p403the more humble walks of life, not to speak of those whom the fury of battle had consumed.

2 After this, wishing to ingratiate himself with the people, he took the postal service91 out of private hands and transferred its cost to the privy-purse. 3 Then he caused the senate to give Bassianus Antoninus the title of Caesar and grant him the imperial insignia.92 4 Next, when called away by the rumour of a Parthian war,93 he set up at his own expense statues in honour of his father, mother, grandfather and first wife.94 5 He had been very friendly with Plautianus;95 but, on learning his true character, he conceived such an aversion to him as even to declare him a public enemy, overthrow his statues,96 and make him famous throughout the entire world for the severity of his punishment, the chief reason for his anger being that Plautianus had set up his own statue among the statues of Severus' kinsmen and connections. 6 He revoked the punishment which had been imposed upon the people of Palestine97 on Niger's account. 7 Later, he again entered into friendly relations with Plautianus, and after entering the city in his company like one who celebrates an ovation,98 he went up to the Capitol, although in the course of time he killed him. 8 He bestowed the toga virilis on his younger son, p405Geta, and he united his elder son in marriage with Plautianus' daughter.99 9 Those who had declared Plautianus a public enemy were now driven into exile. Thus, as if by a law of nature, do all things ever shift and change. 10 Soon thereafter he appointed his sons to the consulship; also he greatly honoured his brother Geta.100 11 Then, after giving a gladiatorial show and bestowing largess upon the people, he set out for the Parthian war. 12 Many men meanwhile were put to death, some on true and some on trumped-up charges. 13 Several were condemned because they had spoken in jest, others because they had not spoken at all, others again because they had cried out many things with double meaning, such as "Behold an emperor worthy of his name — Pertinacious in very truth, in very truth Severe".

15 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] It was commonly rumoured, to be sure, that in planning a war on the Parthians, Septimius Severus was influenced rather by a desire for glory than by any real necessity.101 2 Finally, he transported his army from Brundisium, reached Syria without breaking his voyage, and forced the Parthians to retreat.102 3 After that, however, he returned to Syria in order to make preparations to carry on an offensive war against the Parthians. 4 In the meantime, on the advice of Plautianus, he hunted down the last survivors of Pescennius' revolt, and he even went so far as to bring charges against several of his own friends on the ground that they were plotting to kill him. 5 He put numerous others to death on the charge of having asked Chaldeans or soothsayers how long he was p407destined to live; and he was especially suspicious of anyone who seemed qualified for the imperial power, for his sons were still very young, and he believed or had heard that this fact was being observed by those who were seeking omens regarding their own prospects of the throne. 6 Eventually, however, when several had been put to death, Severus disclaimed all responsibility, and after their death denied that he had given orders to do what had been done. Marius Maximus says that this was particularly true in the case of Laetus.103 7 His sister from Leptis once came to see him, and, since she could scarcely speak Latin, made the emperor blush for her hotly. And so, after giving the broad stripe104 to her son and many presents to the woman herself, he sent her home again, and also her son, who died a short time afterwards.

16 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] When the summer was well-nigh over, Severus invaded Parthia, defeated the king, and came to Ctesiphon; and about the beginning of the winter season he took the city. For indeed in those regions it is better to wage war during the winter, although the soldiers live on the roots of the plants and so contract various ills and diseases. 2 For this reason then, although he could make no further progress, since the Parthian army was blocking the way and his men were suffering from diarrhoea because of the unfamiliar food, he nevertheless held his ground, took the city, put the king to flight, slew a great multitude, and gained the name Parthicus.105 3 For this feat, likewise, the soldiers declared his son, p409Bassianus Antoninus, co-emperor;106 he had already been named Caesar107 and was now in his thirteenth year. 4 And to Geta, his younger son, they gave the name Caesar,108 and called him in addition Antoninus,109 as several men relate in their writings. 5 To celebrate the bestowal of these names Severus gave the soldiers an enormous donative, none other, in truth, than liberty to plunder the Parthian capital,110 a privilege for which they had been clamouring. 6 He then returned victorious to Syria.111 But when the senators offered him a triumph for the Parthian campaign, he declined it because he was so afflicted with gout that he was unable to stand upright in his chariot. 7 Notwithstanding this, he gave permission that his son should celebrate a triumph; for the senate had decreed to him a triumph over Judaea because of the successes achieved by Severus in Syria.112

8 Next, when he had reached Antioch, he bestowed the toga virilis upon his elder son and appointed him consul as colleague to himself; 9 and without further delay, while still in Syria, the two entered upon their consulship. 17[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] After this, having first raised his soldiers' pay, he turned his steps toward Alexandria, and while on his way thither he conferred numerous rights upon the communities of Palestine.113 He forbade conversion to Judaism under heavy penalties and enacted a similar law in regard to the Christians. 2 He then gave the Alexandrians the privilege of a local senate, for they were still without any public council, just as they had been under their own kings,114 and were obliged to be content with p411the single governor appointed by Caesar.115 3 Besides this, he changed many of their laws. 4 In after years Severus himself continually avowed that he had found this journey very enjoyable, because he had taken part in the worship of the god Serapis, had learned something of antiquity, and had seen unfamiliar animals and strange places. For he visited Memphis, Memnon,116 the Pyramids, and the Labyrinth,117 and examined them all with great care.

5 But since it is tedious to mention in detail the less important matters, only the most noteworthy of his deeds are here related.118 He discharged the cohorts of the guard119 after Julianus was defeated and slain; he deified Pertinax against the wishes of the army;120 and he gave orders that the decisions of Salvius Julianus should be annulled,121 though this he did not succeed in accomplishing. 6 Lastly, he was given the surname Pertinax, not so much by his own wish,122 it seems, as because of his frugal ways.123 7 In fact, he was considered somewhat cruel, both on account of his innumerable executions124 and because, when one his enemies came before him on a certain occasion to crave forgiveness and said "What would you have done?",125 8 Severus was not softened by so p413sensible a speech, but ordered him to be put to death. He was determined to crush out conspiracies. He seldom departed from a battle except as victor.126 18[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] He defeated Abgarus, the king of the Persians.127 He extended his sway over the Arabs. He forced the Adiabeni to give tribute.128 2 He built a wall129 across the island of Britain from sea to sea, and thus made the province secure — the crowning glory of his reign; in recognition thereof he was given the name Britannicus.130 3 He freed Tripolis, the region of his birth, from fear of attack by crushing sundry warlike tribes. And he bestowed upon the Roman people, without cost, a most generous daily allowance of oil in perpetuity.131

4 He was implacable toward the guilty; at the same time he showed singular judgment in advancing the efficient. 5 He took a fair interest in philosophy and oratory, and showed a great eagerness for learning in general. 6 He was relentless everywhere toward brigands.132 He wrote a trustworthy account of his own life, both before and after he became emperor,133 in which the only charge that he tried to explain away was that of cruelty. 7 In regard to this charge, the senate declared that Severus either should never have p415been born at all or never should have died, because on the one hand, he had proved too cruel, and on the other, too useful to the state. 8 For all that, he was less careful in his home-life, for he retained his wife Julia even though she was notorious for her adulteries and also guilty of plotting against him.134 9 On one occasion,135 when he so suffered from gout as to delay a campaign, his soldiers in their dismay conferred on his son Bassianus, who was with him at the time, the title of Augustus. Severus, however, had himself lifted up and carried to the tribunal, summoned 10 all the tribunes, centurions, generals, and cohorts responsible for this occurrence, and after commanding his son, who had received the name Augustus, to stand up, gave orders that all the authors of this deed, save only his son, should be punished. When they threw themselves before the tribunal and begged for pardon, Severus touched his head with his hand and said, "Now at last you know that the head does the ruling, and not the feet". 11 And even after fortune had led him step by step through the pursuits of study and of warfare even to the throne, he used to say: "Everything have I been, and nothing have I gained".

19 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] In the eighteenth year of his reign, now an old man and overcome by a most grievous disease, he died at Eboracum in Britain, after subduing various tribes that seemed a possible menace to the p417province.136 2 He left two sons, Antoninus Bassianus and Geta, also named by him Antoninus137 in honour of Marcus. 3 Severus was laid in the tomb of Marcus Antoninus,138 whom of all the emperors he revered so greatly that he even deified Commodus139 and held that all emperors should thenceforth assume the name Antoninus as they did that of Augustus. 4 At the demand of his sons, who gave him a most splendid funeral, he was added by the senateº to the deified.140

5 The principal public works of his now in existence are the Septizonium141 and the Baths of Severus.142 He also built the Septimian Baths in the district across the Tiber near the gate named after him,143 but the aqueduct fell down immediately after its completion and the people were unable to make any use of them.

6 After his death the opinion that all men held of him was high indeed; for, in the long period that followed, no good came to the state from his sons, and after them, when many invaders came pouring in upon the state, the Roman Empire became a thing for free-booters to plunder.

p419 7 His clothing was of the plainest; indeed, even his tunic had scarcely any purple on it, while he covered his shoulders with a shaggy cloak. 8 He was very sparing in his diet,144 was fond of his native beans, liked wine at times, and often went without meat. 9 In person he was large and handsome. His beard was long; his hair was grey and curly, his face was such as to inspire respect. His voice was clear, but retained an African accent even to his old age. 10 After his death he was much beloved, for then all envy of his power or fear of his cruelty had vanished.

[image ALT: A marble bust of an old man with curly hair and a curly shaggy beard. It is a portrait of the Roman emperor Septimius Severus.]
	
[image ALT: A marble head of an old man with curly hair and a curly shaggy beard. It is a close-up of a portrait-bust of the Roman emperor Septimius Severus.]

Contemporary portrait-bust in the Stanza degli Imperatori in the Capitoline Museums in Rome,
identified as that of the emperor Severus.

20 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I can remember reading in Aelius Maurus, the freedman of that Phlegon145 who was Hadrian's freedman, that Septimius Severus rejoiced exceedingly at the time of his death, because he was leaving two Antonini to rule the state with equal powers,146 herein following the example of Pius, who left to the state Verus and Marcus Antoninus, his two sons by adoption; 2 and that he rejoiced all the more, because, while Pius had left only adopted sons, he was leaving sons of his own blood to rule the Roman state, namely Antoninus Bassianus, whom he had begotten from his first marriage,147 and Geta, whom Julia had borne him. 3 In these high hopes, however, he was grievously deceived; for the state was denied the one by murder,148 the other149 by his own character. And in scarcely any case did that revered name150 long or creditably survive. 4 Indeed, when I reflect on the matter, Diocletian Augustus, it is quite clear to me p421that practically no great man has left the world a son of real excellence or value. 5 In short, most of them either died without issue of their own, or had such children that it would have been better for humanity had they departed without offspring. 21[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] As for Romulus, to begin with him, he left no children who might have proved useful to the state, nor did Numa Pompilius. What of Camillus? Did he have children like himself? What of Scipio?151 What of the Catos, who were so distinguished? 2 Indeed, for that matter, what shall I say of Homer, Demosthenes, Vergil, Crispus,152 Terence, Plautus, and such as they? What of Caesar? What of Tully? — for whom, particularly, it had been better had he had no son.153 3 What of Augustus, who could not get a worthy son even by adoption, though he had the whole world to choose from? Even Trajan was deceived when he chose for his heir his fellow-townsman and nephew.154 4 But let us except sons by adoption, lest our thoughts turn to those two guardian spirits of the state, Pius and Marcus Antoninus, and let us proceed to sons by birth. 5 What could have been more fortunate for Marcus than not to have left Commodus as his heir? 6 What more fortunate for Septimius Severus than not to have even begotten Bassianus? — a man who speedily charged his brother with contriving plots against him — a murderous falsehood — and put him to death; 7 who took his own stepmother to wife155 — stepmother did I say? — nay rather the mother on whose bosom he had slain Geta, her son;156 8 who slew, because p423he refused to absolve him of his brother's murder,157 Papinian, a sanctuary of law and treasure-house of jurisprudence, who had been raised to the office of prefect that a man who had become illustrious through his own efforts and his learning might not lack official rank. 9 In short, not to mention other things, I believe that it was because of this man's character that Severus, a gloomier man in every way, nay even a crueller one, was considered righteous and worthy of the worship of a god. 10 Once indeed, it is said, Severus, when laid low by sickness, sent to his elder son that divine speech in Sallust in which Micipsa urges his sons to the ways of peace.158 In vain, however. . . . 11 For a long time, finally, the people hated Antoninus, and that venerable name was long less beloved, even though he gave the people clothing (whence he got his name Caracallus)159 and built the most splendid baths.160 12 There is a colonnade of Severus at Rome,161 I might mention, depicting his exploits, which was built by his son, or so most men say.

22 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] The death of Severus was foreshadowed by the following events: he himself dreamed that he was snatched up to the heavens in a jewelled car drawn by four eagles, whilst some vast shape, I know not what, but resembling a man, flew on before. And while he was being snatched up, he counted out the numbers eighty and nine,162 and beyond this number of years he did not live so much as one, for he was an old man when he came to the throne. 2 And then, after he p425had been placed in a huge circle in the air, for a long time he stood alone and desolate, until finally, when he began to fear that he might fall headlong, he saw himself summoned by Jupiter and placed among the Antonines. 3 Again, on the day of the circus-games, when three plaster figures of Victory were set up in the customary way, with palms in their hands, the one in the middle, which held a sphere inscribed with his name, struck by a gust of wind, fell down from the balcony163 in an upright position and remained on the ground in this posture; while the one on which Geta's name was inscribed was dashed down and completely shattered, and the one which bore Bassianus' name lost its palm and barely managed to keep its place, such was the whirling of the wind. 4 On another occasion, when he was returning to his nearest quarters from an inspection of the wall at Luguvallum164 in Britain, at a time when he had not only proved victorious but had concluded a perpetual peace, just as he was wondering what omen would present itself, an Ethiopian soldier, who was famous among buffoons and always a notable jester, met him with a garland of cypress-boughs. 5 And when Severus in a rage ordered that the man be removed from his sight, troubled as he was by the man's ominous colour and the ominous nature of the garland, the Ethiopian by way of jest cried, it is said, "You have been all things,165 you have conquered all things, now, O conqueror, be a god." 6 And when on reaching the town he wished to perform a sacrifice, in the first place, through a misunderstanding on the part of the rustic soothsayer, he was taken to the Temple of Bellona, and, in the second place, the victims provided him were black. 7 And then, when p427he abandoned the sacrifice in disgust and betook himself to the Palace,166 through some carelessness on the part of the attendants the black victims followed him up to its very doors.

23 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] In many communities there are public buildings erected by him which are famous, but particularly noteworthy among the achievements of his life was the restoration of all the public sanctuaries in Rome, which were then falling to ruin through the passage of time. And seldom did he inscribe his own name on these restorations or fail to preserve the names of those who built them. 2 At his death he left a surplus of grain to the amount of seven years' tribute,167 or enough to distribute seventy-five thousand pecks a day, and so much oil,168 indeed, that for five years there was plenty for the uses, not only of the city, but also for as much as of Italy as was in need of it.

3 His last words, it is said, were these: "The state, when I received it, was harassed on every side; I leave it at peace, even in Britain; old now and with crippled feet, I bequeath to my two Antonini an empire which is strong, if they prove good, feeble, if they prove bad." 4 After this, he issued orders to give the tribune the watchword "Let us toil," because Pertinax, when he assumed the imperial power, had given the word "Let us be soldiers".169 5 He then ordered a duplicate made of the royal statue of Fortune which was customarily carried about with the emperors and placed in their bedrooms,170 in order that he might leave this most holy statue to each of his sons; 6 but later, when he realized that the hour of death was upon him, he gave instructions, they say, that the original should be placed in the bed-chambers p429of each of his sons, the co-emperors, on alternate days. 7 As for this direction, Bassianus ignored it and then murdered his brother.

24 1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] His body was borne from Britain to Rome, and was everywhere received by the provincials with profound reverence. 2 Some men say, however, that only a golden urn171 containing Severus' ashes was so conveyed, and that this was laid in the tomb of the Antonines,172 while Septimius himself was cremated where he died.

3 When he built the Septizonium173 he had no other thought than that his building should strike the eyes of those who came to Rome from Africa. 4 It is said that he wished to make an entrance on this side of the Palatine mansion — the royal dwelling, that is — and he would have done so had not the prefect of the city planted his statue in the centre of it while he was away. 5 Afterwards Alexander174 wished to carry out this plan, but he, it is said, was prevented by the soothsayers, for on making inquiry he obtained unfavourable omens.


The Editor's Notes:

1 His full name was P. Septimius Geta, according to an inscription found at Cirta in Africa; see CIL VIII.19493.

2 Citizenship was granted to all the free inhabitants of the Empire, except the Dediticii and the Latini Juniani,º by an edict of Caracalla, Severus' son, in 212.

3 Aper was consul in some year under Pius; Severus is perhaps to be identified with the Severus who was consul in 155.

4 His birthday was the 11th April, according to Dio, LXXVI.17.4, and this date is confirmed by the Calendar of Philocalus (see CIL I2 p262) and by inscriptions set up on this day; see CIL XI.1322; XIV.168 and 169.

5 See note to Com. iv.7.

6 See Hadr. xxii.2.

7 It is impossible to know who is meant here. The biographer is certainly wrong in identifying him with Didius Julianus, who was proconsul of Africa after Pertinax and shortly before his own elevation to the throne; see Did. Jul. ii.3.

8 He was quaestor in Rome and was then allotted to serve as quaestor (properly proquaestor) of the senatorial province of Hispania Baetica. Such double quaestorships appear frequently in inscriptions.

9 See Marc. xxi.1. The year was about 172, since Severus was quaestor probably about the normal age of twenty-five; see note to Pius vi.10. The invasion of the Moors seems to have made it necessary to administer Baetica as an imperial province, and Sardinia was accordingly temporarily assigned to the senate as a substitute.

10 Her name was Paccia Marciana, according to an inscription from Africa; see CIL VIII.19494 = Dessau, Ins. Sel. 440.

11 i.e. his autobiography, written after the death of Albinus, (p375)apparently with the purpose of accusing his rivals and clearing himself of charges of cruelty; see c. xviii.6; Cl. Alb. vii.1; Dio, LXXV.7.3.

12 A certain number of each board of magistrates were not chosen by the senate but nominated directly by the emperor. These appointments were called technically candidati Caesaris, and the phrase in candida (toga) seems to be only a variation of this expression.

13 See Hadr. xii.3 and note.

14 In the time of the empire the conduct of the public games was one of the most important functions of the praetor.

15 There is some error here, for this legion was never quartered at Marseilles, and from the middle of the first century on it was stationed in Syria.

16 Julia Domna, the elder daughter of Julius Bassianus, high-priest of the god Elagabalus at Emesa in Syria.

17 His elder son Bassianus (Caracalla) was born at Lyons on the 4th April, 186.

18 This item is out of its proper order He was not appointed to Pannonia until after his consulship; see § 4.

19 Geta, born in 189, the year, as it seems, of Severus' consulship; see Get. iii.1.

20 Under the régime of Cleander; see Com. vi.7 f.; vii.1.

21 His name is given as Vitellius in Get. iii.1.

22 An error for Pannonia (cf. § 2), for he was acclaimed emperor at Carnuntum (see c. v.1); see also Dio, LXIII.14.3 and Herodian, II.9.2.

23 Cf. Did. Jul. iv.2 f.

24 An error, for Didius Julianus was killed on the 1st June (see note to Did. Jul. ix.3), and Severus was then not far from Rome. The date was probably the Ides of April.

25 i.e. each legionary.

26 Used inexactly to denote the armies of the Danube and the Rhine. His coins of 193 show the names of fifteen different legions belonging to these armies (see Cohen IV2 p31 f., nos. 255‑278). To these is to be added the Tenth (p381)Legion, the Gemina, stationed in Pannonia Superior, of which, as it happens, no coin has been preserved.

27 Cf. Did. Jul. v.3.

28 Cf. Did. Jul. v.5.

29 Cf. Did. Jul. vi.3.

30 Cf. Did. Jul. vi.9.

31 Cf. Did. Jul. v.8; Pesc. Nig. ii.6.

32 Cf. Did. Jul. v.1; Cf. Pesc. Nig. ii.4.

33 Cf. Pesc. Nig. ii.1.

34 Cf. Did. Jul. viii.5 f.

35 Hirschfeld points out that through the use of base metal the denarius had so depreciated that 25,000 den. (100,000 sesterces) was now equal to only 720 aurei instead of 1000. Accordingly, the sum that was presented to each of the (p383)legates was the equivalent of 100,000 sesterces reckoned according to the later standard. See von Domaszewski in Rhein. Mus. liv (1899), p312.

36 Probably on the death of Tullius Crispinus; see Did. Jul. viii.1.

37 Cf. Cl. Alb. ii.1; vi.4‑5; xiii.4. This is doubtless a fiction.

38 Or Bithynia, according to Pesc. Nig. v.2, but the reading Britannias is probably the correct one. About this time Severus, in order to attach Albinus to his cause, offered him the name Caesar (see note to Cl. Alb. i.2), and Heraclitus may have been sent for this purpose.

39 Cf. Pesc. Nig. v.2. On C. Fulvius Plautianus see c. xiv.5 f..

40 He then reproached them for their treachery to Pertinax, (p385)disarmed and disbanded them, and banished them from the city; see Dio, LXXIV.1.1 and Herodian, II.13.4 f. This took place just outside the walls.

41 A vivid description of his triumphal entry is given in Dio, LXXIV.1.3‑5.

42 Cf. c. v.8; Did. Jul. v.8; Pesc. Nig. ii.5.

43 So also Dio, LXXIV.2.1 and Herodian, II.14.3‑4. Dio observes that Severus violated this decree almost at once.

44 See Dio, XLVI.46.

45 He gave to each one thousand sesterces; see Dio, ibid.

46 This funeral is described in detail in Dio, LXXIV.4‑5.

47 A survival of the republican period, when the senate frequently honoured a dead ex-magistrate by decreeing that he might be buried in his robe of office. Of these robes the purple toga of the censor was considered the highest, and a funus censorium was, accordingly, the most honourable type of public funeral. It was later accorded by vote of the senate to emperors, e.g. to Augustus (Tacitus, AnnalsXII.69) and to Claudius (id.XIII.2).

48 See note to Marc. xv.4; see also Pert. xv.3‑4.

49 According to Herodian, II.10.1, he assumed this name before he left Pannonia. It appears in his inscriptions and on his coins, especially those issued during the first part of his reign.

50 Cf. Pesc. Nig. v.4 f.

51 Before setting out he gave largess; see the coins of 193 with the legend Liberalitas Aug(usti); Cohen, IV2 p32 f., nos. 279‑287.

52 On the Via Flaminia, about ten miles north of Rome.

53 P. Septimius Geta. His province was probably Dacia, of which he was governor in 195; see CIL III.905.

54 See c. vi.10 and ix.2.

55 Asellius Aemilianus, the proconsul of Asia and commander of Niger's army.

56 See Pesc. Nig. v.6‑7.

57 This was after the defeat at Perinthus (§ 16); see Pesc. Nig. v.8.

58 Probably at Perinthus on the Propontis.

59 Near Nicaea in Bithynia; see Dio, LXXIV.6.5 f.

60 This is an error, repeated in Pesc. Nig. v.8. Niger was finally defeated near Issus in Cilicia; see Dio, LXXIV.7 and Herodian, III.4.2 f. The date has recently been determined (p391)as the close of 193. Niger fled but was overtaken by some of Severus' soldiers between Antioch and the Euphrates and beheaded; see Dio, LXXIV.8.3.

61 See c. viii.11. They were afterwards put to death; see c. x.1 and Pesc. Nig. vi.1‑2.

62 He was acclaimed Imperator for the third time; see the coins of 194 with the legends Mars Pacator and Paci Augusti, Cohen, IV2 p35, no. 308, and p40, no. 359.

63 See c. vii.5. This statement is confirmed by Dio; see LXXIV.8.4.

64 Niger's head appears on a coin of Colonia Aelia Capitolina (Jerusalem); see Cohen, III2 p413, no. 82.

65 Notably Byzantium, which his army captured after a long siege; see Dio, LXXIV.14.3.

66 The campaign actually took place in northern Mesopotamia, in the neighbourhood of Nisibis, which had been invaded by the surrounding tribes. Most of the fighting seems to have been done under the command of the legates, Laetus, Anulinus, and Probus, who crossed the Tigris and invaded Adiabene; see Dio, LXXV.1‑3.

67 In the inscriptions and on the coins of this period he is (p393)called Arabicus Adiabenicus, or Parthicus Arabicus Parthicus Adiabenicus; see Dessau, Ins. Sel. 417 f., and Cohen, IV2 p8, nos. 48‑52, and p40 f. nos. 363‑368. The statement in § 11, accordingly, is not accurate. However, the cognomen Parthicus is not used without these qualifying words until after his campaign of 198 (see c. xvi.2). These names were taken in 194, when he was acclaimed Imperator for the fourth time.

68 See c. vi.9; Cl. Alb. viii.4 f.

69 More correctly, Britain, of which he was governor. He had previously received from Severus the title of Caesar (see note to Cl. Alb. i.2), and he now assumed that of Augustus.

70 See c. ix.2 and note.

71 On his march from Byzantium through Moesia to Gaul. As Hirschfeld has pointed out, there is no reason to suppose that Severus went to Rome at this time; see Kl. Schriften (Berlin, 1913), p432.

72 From this time on, in inscriptions and on coins he always bears the name M. Aurelius Antoninus.

73 See note to Ael. i.2. In this instance, the purpose of the step was to nullify Albinus' claim to the name and to the succession (see note to § 1).

74 i.e. Severus' younger son.

75 The statement that Geta was given the name Antoninus is frequently made in these biographies; see c. xvi.4; xix.2; Get. i.1 f.; v.3. It is questioned, on the other hand, in Diad. vi.9, and as this name does not appear in the inscriptions or on the coins of Geta, the statement is probably incorrect.

76 So also Dio, LXXV.7.4, and LXXVI.9.4. In his inscriptions from this time on he appears as Divi Marci Antonini Pii Germ. Sarm. filius, etc. He also assumed the name Pius about this time.

77 See also Cl. Alb. ix.1‑4.

78 In particular, Lupus, who was badly defeated by Albinus about this time; see Dio, LXXV.6.2.

79 Probably the modern Tournus on the Saône about twenty miles north of Mâcon. A description of the engagement is given in Dio, LXXV.6‑7. According to his version, Albinus killed himself after the defeat; but see §§ 6‑9 and Cl. Alb. ix.3.

80 i.e. Julius Laetus; see Herodian, III.7.4; cf. c. xv.6.

81 His brother, according to Cl. Alb. ix.6; xii.9, but this is probably an error.

82 See Com. xvii.11.

83 According to Dio, LXXV.7, the announcement of Commodus' deification did cause the senate great consternation. Severus' real purpose, however, was probably to carry out (p397)further his policy of attaching himself to the house of the Antonines; see c. x.6.

84 See note to § 1.

85 These executions took place in Gaul (Herodian, III.8.2); they are to be distinguished from the later executions at Rome; see c. xiii.

86 See note to Com. xx.1.

87 The Third Legion, the Cyrenaica.

88 A few telling sentences from the speech are recorded in Dio, LXXV.8. Dio also relates that he praised the severity and cruelty of Marius and Sulla; these names were afterwards applied to him; see Pesc. Nig. vi.4.

89 According to Dio, ibid., he executed twenty-nine and pardoned thirty-five. The following list of forty-one probably includes some of the partisans of Niger, whom Severus had previously refrained from putting to death; see c. ix.3.

90 Cf. Com. xvii.2. But according to Dio, Narcissus was put to death by Didius Julianus; see note to Did. Jul. vi.2.

91 See note to Hadr. vii.5.

92 Bassianus had already received the name Caesar (see c. x.3); it was now confirmed by the senate. He was also at this time made a member of some of the priestly colleges to which the emperor belonged (see note to Marc. vi.3), and he was apparently recognized officially as his father's successor, for from now on he bore the title of Imperator Destinatus; see Dessau, Ins. Sel. 442, 446, 447.

93 See c. xv. f.

94 See c. iii.2 and note.

95 C. Fulvius Plautianus, prefect of the guard. For an account of his great power and his influence over Severus see Dio, LXXV.14‑15. He received the ornamenta consularia (see note to Hadr. viii.7), and was consul in 203.

96 This incident is described quite differently in Dio, LXXV.16.2; apparently, an order to melt some of the bronze statues of Plautianus gave rise to the belief that he had been disgraced.

97 See c. ix.5.

98 A minor triumph, in which the general rode through the city instead of driving a chariot. It was celebrated in case the war had not been formally declared, or the vanquished was not a recognized hostis, or the victory had been bloodless; see Gellius, V.6.21.

Thayer's Note: For full details and sources, see the article Ovatio in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

99 Fulvia Plautilla. The marriage took place in 202; she received the title of Augusta, which appears in inscriptions and on her coins (Cohen, IV2 pp243 and 247 f.). When her father was assassinated in the Palace (see Dio, LXXVI.4) in 205, she was banished; later on she was put to death.

100 Apparently after Geta's death — by a public funeral and a statue in the Forum; see Dio, LXXVI.2.4.

101 The Parthians had entered Mesopotamia and were attacking (p405)Nisibis, the seat of Severus' operations in his former campaign; see note to c. ix.9.

102 i.e. from Nisibis.

103 His legate in his former campaign and the defender of Nisibis against the Parthians; see notes to c. xv.1‑2. He was put to death during the siege of Hatra, which followed the capture of Ctesiphon; see Dio, LXXV.10.3.

104 See note to Com. iv.7.

105 Parthicus Maximus; this cognomen appears in his inscriptions and on his coins from 198 onward. On his previous cognomina see note to c. ix.10.

106 He was acclaimed Augustus by the soldiers and received the tribunician power from Severus. The date was prior to the 3rd May, 198 since he is called Augustus in an African inscription of that date; see CIL VIII.2465 = Dessau, Ins. Sel. 2485.

107 Cf. c. x.3 and xiv.3.

108 He is called Nobilissimus Caesar in inscriptions from 198 onward.

109 See note to c. x.5.

110 Ctesiphon. The sack of the city is also mentioned in Dio, LXXV.9.4.

111 But not until after two unsuccessful sieges of Hatra in Mesopotamia; see Dio, LXXV.10‑12.

112 As Caracalla was only twelve years old it is hardly likely that he won a victory in person.

113 Cf. c. xiv.6.

114 The Ptolemaic dynasty.

115 The iuridicus Alexandriae. Augustus had refused to allow Alexandria to have a local senate; see Dio, LI.17.2.

116 The famous "singing Memnon" at Thebes, a colossal statue of Amenophis III.

117 In the Fayûm in Middle Egypt. A description of it is given by Herodotus, III.148.

118 This section of the biography (xvii.5‑xix.4) bears a close resemblance, often in the actual wording, to Victor, de Caesaribus, xx, and in some passages it seems to be a mere abbreviation of Victor's narrative; see Intro., p. xxii.

119 See note to c. vi.11.

120 Cf. c. vii.8; Pert. xiv.10.

121 In both this passage and the corresponding sentence in Victor (Caes. xx.1) there seems to be a confusion between (p411)Salvius Julianus and his Edictum Perpetuum (see note to Hadr. xviii.1), on the one hand, and Didius Julianus and his Acta, on the other. The Acta were doubtless rescinded, but the Edictum remained in force.

122 But see c. vii.9 and note. He assumed the name in order to strengthen his own position.

123 Cf. c. xix.7‑8. Pertinax was famous for his frugality; see Pert. viii.9‑11; xii.2‑6.

124 See c. xii‑xiii.

125 The story is preserved in complete form in Victor, Caes. XX.11.

126 The ambiguity of this sentence is due to excessive compression of the original as preserved in Victor, Caes. XX.13‑14. The transition from the suppression of conspiracies to success in foreign wars is entirely omitted.

127 Abgar IX, King of Osroene, who joined Severus on his Parthian campaign, gave his sons as hostages and assumed the name Septimius; see Herodian, III.9.2. According to Herodian, this happened in conjunction with Severus' second campaign, in 198, but it has been maintained that the incident should be connected with the first campaign, in 195.

128 Cf. c. ix.9 and note.

129 This does not refer to the construction of a new wall, but to the restoration probably of the wall of Hadrian (see Hadr. xi.2; Pius v.4).

130 Britannicus Maximus; it appears in his inscriptions of 210. The cognomen Britannicus is found on his coins of 211, bearing the legend Victoriae Britannicae; see Cohen, IV2 p75 f., no. 722 f.

131 Cf. c. xxiii.2; Alex. xxii.2. Previous to this time oil, like grain, had been sold by the government at low prices, but from now on until after the time of Constantine it was given to the populace.

132 Especially one famous brigand named Bulla Felix, who with a band of six hundred men terrorized Italy for two years; see Dio, LXXVI.10.

133 See note to c. iii.2.

134 There is no suggestion in Dio that she was guilty of either adultery or conspiracy. Both charges are probably due to the machinations of Plautianus, who tried to poison Severus' mind against her; see Dio, LXXV.15.6; LXXVIII.24.1. The statement of an incestuous relationship between her and Caracalla found in the Historia Augusta (c. xxi.7 and Carac. x.1‑4) and in other writings of a late date (e.g. Victor, Caes. xxi) represents a definite historical tradition composed by a traducer of Julia.

135 The following incident is related in almost exactly the same words in Victor, Caes. XX.25‑26. It probably occurred during the war in Britain, where, according to Dio, LXXVI.14, Caracalla made various plots against his father. The title of Augustus had been conferred on Caracalla some years previously in Mesopotamia; see note to c. xvi.3.

136 Especially the Caledonii and the Maeatae, the former of whom lived north of the "wall which divides the island into two parts," the latter south of it; see Dio, LXXVI.12.1.

137 See note to c. x.5.

138 i.e. the Tomb of Hadrian (see note to Hadr. xix.11), in which Marcus and the other members of the house of the Antonines were buried.

139 See c. xi.3.

140 Commemorated on coins with the legends Divo Severo Pio and Consecratio; see Cohen, IV2 p12 f., nos. 80‑91.

141 This was a three-storied portico at the south-eastern corner of the Palatine Hill. Its purpose was to give an ornamental (p417)front to the Palace at the place where it faced the Appian Way; see c. xxiv.3.

Thayer's Note: For full details and sources, see the article Septizonium in Platner and Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

142 According to an ancient description of Rome dating from the time of Constantine (the Notitia regionum), these baths were in the First Region, the southernmost part of the city. All trace of them, however, has disappeared, and they may have been absorbed in the Thermae Antoninianae, i.e., Baths of Caracalla; see Carac. ix.4 f.

Thayer's Note: See the article Thermae Severianae in Platner and Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, brief but with further ancient sources (including the Notitia and the Curiosum) and modern references.

143 The Porta Septimiana, where the modern Via della Lungara passes through the Wall of Aurelian, probably corresponds with the site of this gate. The Thermae Septimianae (if Zangenmeister's reading be correct) must have been in this neighbourhood. The name seems to be preserved in the expression il Settignano, which was formerly applied to the southern end of the Via della Lungara.

Thayer's Note: See the article Porta Septimiana in Platner and Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

144 Cf. c. xvii.6. Dio also comments on the simplicity of Severus' mode of life; see LXXVI.17.

145 See Hadr. xvi.1.

146 Geta received the title of Augustus in 209; see his coins of 209, Cohen, IV2 p266 f., Nos. 129‑131.

147 This statement is made in other rhetorical portions of the Historia Augusta (Carac. x.1; Geta vii.3) and in historians of the later period (e.g.Victor, Caes. XXI.3). It is not only untrue, but it contradicts the statement of Sev. iii.9 and iv.2.

148 Geta, murdered in 212; see note to c. xxi.7.

149 Bassianus.

150 i.e., Antoninus.

151 Scipio Africanus, the younger, who seems to have left no children.

152 C. Sallustius Crispus, the historian.

153 Cicero's son had none of his father's ability; he had, moreover, a bad reputation for drunkenness.

154 Hadrian. This sentiment represents the tradition hostile to Hadrian which grew up after his death as a result of the enmity felt for him by some of the senators.

155 See note to c. xviii.8.

156 See Carac. ii.4, and, for a detailed description of the murder, Dio, LXXVII.2.

157 See Carac. iv.1 and viii.

158 Sallust, Jugurtha x.

159 See Carac. ix.7.

160 See Carac. ix.4 f.

161 Also mentioned in Carac. ix.6. Its site is unknown.

Thayer's Note: For some slight additional information, see the article Porticus Severi of Platner and Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

162 This same number of the years of his life is given in Pesc. Nig. v.1, but it is in direct contradiction with the positive statement in c. i.3 that he was born in 146. According to Dio's computation, he was born in 145; see LXXVI.17.4.

163 The podium was a platform close to the arena, occupied by members of the imperial family.

164 Now Carlisle.

165 Cf. c. xviii.11.

166 i.e., the imperial residence in the provincial town.

167 Cf. c. viii.5.

168 See c. xviii.3.

169 See Pert. v.7.

170 See Pius xii.5.

171 It was made of porphyry, according to Dio, LXXVI.15.4, of alabaster, according to Herodian, III.15.7.

172 See c. xix.3 and note.

173 See c. xix.5 and note.

174 i.e., Severus Alexander, the emperor.


Thayer's Note:

a Interamna: in full, Interamna Nahars or Interamna Nahartium — the modern Terni, in southern Umbria. It was the first large town on the Via Flaminia beyond the Latium: the senators travelled about 100 kilometers to meet him.


[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 24 Aug 12