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Elagabalus

This webpage reproduces part of the
Historia Augusta

published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1924

The text is in the public domain.

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


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Part 2

(Vol. II) Historia Augusta

p179 The Life of Severus Alexander
Part 1

1 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] After the murder of Varius Elagabalus — for thus we prefer to call him rather than Antoninus, for, plague that he was, he showed none of the traits of the Antonines, 2 and his name Antoninus, furthermore, was expunged from the public records by order of the senate1 — for the curing of the human race the imperial power passed to Aurelius Alexander.2 He was born in the city of Arca3 and he was the son of Varius,4 the grandson of Varia,5 and the cousin of Elagabalus himself. The name of Caesar had been bestowed on him by the senate previously, that is, after the death of Macrinus;6 3 now he was given the name of Augustus, and it was further granted him by the senate that on the same day he should take the title of Father of his Country, the proconsular command, the tribunician power,7 and the privilege of making five proposals to the House.8

4 Now lest this quick succession of honours may seem precipitate,9 I will set forth the reasons which p181moved the senate to grant and the Emperor to accept them. 5 For it befitted neither the senate's dignity to bestow all of them together, nor yet a good prince to seize upon so many honours at one time. 6 But the soldiers had now grown accustomed to appoint their own emperors, often in a disorderly fashion, and also to change them at will, sometimes alleging in their own defence that they had taken action only because they did not know that the senate had named a ruler. 7 For they had chosen as emperors Pescennius Niger, Clodius Albinus, Avidius Cassius, and, in earlier years, Lucius Vindex and Lucius Antonius;10 and they had chosen even Severus too, after the senate had already named Julianus as prince.11 And thus were sown the seeds of civil wars, in which it necessarily happened that soldiers enlisted to fight against a foreign foe fell at the hands of their brothers. 2Legamen ad paginam Latinam For this reason, then, the senate hastened to bestow all these honours on Alexander at the same time, as though he had long been emperor. 2 To this, moreover, must be added the great desire of the senate and people for Alexander,12 now that they had been delivered from that scourge who had not only sullied the name of the Antonines but brought shame upon the Roman Empire. 3 Indeed, they vied with one another in bestowing on him all manner of titles and powers. 4 He, then, was the first of all the emperors to receive at one time all insignia and all forms of honour, commended to them, as he was, by the name of Caesar, earned some years previously, but commended still more by his life and morals. He had won great favour, too, from the fact that Elagabalus had tried to slay him, but without success because of the resistance of the soldiers p183and the opposition of the senate.13 5 All these considerations, however, would have availed him little, had he not shown himself worthy that the senate should honour him, that the soldiers should be eager for his preservation, and the voice of all good citizens name him their prince.

3 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Alexander, then, the son of Mamaea (for so he is called by many),14 had been nurtured from his earliest boyhood in all excellent arts, civil and military. Not a single day, indeed, did he allow to pass in which he did not train himself for literature and for military service. 2 His teachers were:15 during his early childhood, Valerius Cordus, Titus Veturius, and Aurelius Philippus (his father's freedman who afterwards wrote his life); 3 while he lived in his native town, the Greek grammarian, Neho, the rhetorician Serapio, and the philosopher Stilio; and when he was at Rome, the grammarian Scaurinus (the son of Scaurinus16 and a most famous teacher), and the rhetoricians Julius Frontinus, Baebius Macrianus, and Julius Granianus, whose exercises in rhetoric are in use today. In Latin literature, however, he was not very proficient, as is shown by the orations which he delivered in the senate, and also by the speeches which he made before the soldiers or the people. 4 And indeed he did not greatly value the power to speak in Latin, although he was very fond of men of letters, fearing them at the same time, lest they might write something harsh about him. 5 Indeed, it was his wish that those whom he found worthy of the privilege should be informed of all p185that he did, both officially and in his private life, and he even gave them information himself if they chanced to be absent at the time, begging them that if it were true, they should include it in their books.

4 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam He forbade men to call him Lord,17 and he gave orders that people should write to him as they would to a commoner, retaining only the title Imperator. 2 He removed from the imperial footwear and garments all the jewels that had been used by Elagabalus,18 and he wore a plain white robe without any gold, just as he is always depicted, and ordinary cloaks and togas. 3 He associated with his friends19 on such familiar terms that he would sit with them as equals, attend their banquets, have some of them as his own daily guests, even when they were not formally summoned, and hold a morning levee like any senator with open curtains and without the presence of ushers, or, at least, with none but those who acted as attendants at the doors, whereas previously it was not possible for people to pay their respects to the emperor for the reason that he could not see them.

4 As to his physique, in addition to the grace and the manly beauty still to be seen in his portraits and statues, he had the strength and height of a soldier and the vigour of the military man who knows the power of his body and always maintains it. 5 Besides this, he endeared himself to all men; some even called him Pius, but all regarded him as a holy man and one of great value to the state. 6 And when Elagabalus was plotting against him, he received in p187the temple owing to the Praenestine Goddess20 the following oracle:

"If ever thou breakest the Fates' cruel power,

Thou a Marcellus shalt be."21

5 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam He was given the name Alexander because he was born in a temple dedicated to Alexander the Great22 in the city of Arca, whither his father and mother had chanced to go on the feast-day of Alexander for the purpose of attending the sacred festival. 2 The proof of this is the fact that this Alexander, the son of Mamaea, celebrated as his birthday that very day on which Alexander the Great departed this life.23 3 The name Antoninus was proffered him by the senate, but he refused it, although he was connected with Caracalla by a closer degree of kinship than the spurious Antoninus.24 4 For, as Marius Maximus narrates in his Life of Severus, Severus, at that time only a commoner and a man of no great position, married a noble-woman from the East, whose horoscope, he learned, declared that she should be the wife of an emperor;25 and she was a kinswoman of Alexander, to whom Varius Elagabalus, as a matter of fact, was a cousin on his mother's side. 5 He refused also the title of "the Great," which, because he was an Alexander, was offered to him by vote of the senate.

6 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam It will not be without interest to re‑read the p189oration in which Alexander refused the names of Antoninus and "the Great," which were offered him by the senate. But before I quote it, I will insert the acclamations of the senate,26 by which these names were decreed. 2 Extract from the City Gazette;27 On the day before the Nones of March,28 when the senate met in full session in the Senate-Chamber (that is, in the Temple of Concord,29 a formally consecrated sanctuary), and when Aurelius Alexander Caesar Augustus had been requested to proceed thither and, after at first refusing for the reason that he knew that action was to be taken with regard to his titles, had finally appeared before the senate, 3 the following acclamations were uttered: "Augustus, free from all guilt, may the gods keep you! Alexander, our Emperor, may the gods keep you! The gods have given you to us, may the gods preserve you! The gods have rescued you from the hands of the foul man, may the gods preserve you forever! 4 You too have endured the foul tyrant, you too had reason to grieve that the filthy and foul one lived. The gods have cast him forth root and branch, and you have they saved. The infamous emperor has been duly condemned. 5 Happy are we in your rule, happy to is the state. The infamous emperor has been dragged with the hook,30 as an example of what men should fear; justly punished is the voluptuous emperor, punished justly he who defiled the public honours. May the gods in Heaven grant long life to Alexander! Thus are the judgments of the gods revealed." 7Legamen ad paginam Latinam And when Alexander had expressed his thanks the acclamations arose again: "Antoninus Alexander, may p191the gods keep you! Aurelius Antoninus, may the gods keep you! Antoninus Pius, may the gods keep you! 2 Receive the name Antoninus, we beseech you. Grant to our righteous emperors this boon, that you should be called Antoninus. Purify the name of the Antonines. Purify what he has defiled. Restore to its former glory the name of the Antonines. Let the blood of the Antonines know itself once more. 3 Avenge the wrongs of Marcus. Avenge the wrongs of Verus. Avenge the wrongs of Bassianus. 4 Worse than Commodus is Elagabalus alone. No emperor he, nor Antoninus, nor citizen, nor senator, nor man of noble blood, nor Roman. 5 In you is our salvation, in you our life. That we may have joy in living, long life to Alexander of the house of the Antonines! The temples of the Antonines let an Antoninus consecrate. The Parthians and the Persians let an Antoninus vanquish. 6 The sacred name let the consecrated receive. The sacred name let the pure receive. May the gods remember the name of Antoninus, may the gods preserve the honours of the Antonines! In you are all things, through you are all things. Hail, O Antoninus!"

8 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam After these acclamations Aurelius Alexander Caesar Augustus spoke: "I thank you, O Conscript Fathers, and not now for the first time, both for the name of Caesar and for the life that has been spared to me, and also because you have bestowed on me the name of Augustus, the office of Pontifex Maximus, the tribunician power, and the proconsular command, all of which you have conferred on me without precedent on a single day." 2 And when he p193had spoken, they cried out: "These honours you have accepted, now accept also the name Antoninus. 3 Let the senate be deemed worthy of this boon, let the Antonines be deemed worthy. Antoninus Augustus, may the gods keep you, may the gods preserve you as Antoninus! Let the name of Antoninus appear again on our coins. Let an Antoninus consecrate the temples of the Antonines."

4 Then Aurelius Alexander Augustus spoke again: "Do not, I beseech you, O Conscript Fathers, do not force upon me the necessity of so difficult a task, that I should be constrained to do justice to so great a name, when even this very name which I now bear, albeit a foreign one, seems to weigh heavily upon me. 5 For all illustrious names are burdensome indeed. Who, pray, would give the name of Cicero to one who was dumb, or Varro31 to one who was unlearned, or Metellus32 to one who was undutiful? And who would endure — though this may the gods forfend! — that the man who failed to live up to the tradition of his name should continue to dwell amid the most illustrious forms of honour?" 9Legamen ad paginam Latinam Again the same acclamations as above. Again the Emperor spoke: "How great was the name, or rather the divinity, of the Antonines, Your Clemency remembers well. If you think of righteousness, who more honest than Verus? If of bravery, who more brave than Bassianus? 2 For on Commodus I have no wish to dwell, who was the more depraved for this very reason, that with those evil ways of his he still held the name of Antoninus. 3 Diadumenianus, moreover, had neither the time nor the years, and it was only through his father's p195artifice that he seized upon this name."33 4 Again the same acclamations as above. Again the Emperor spoke: "Surely, not long ago, O Conscript Fathers, when that filthiest of all creatures, both two-footed and four-footed, vaunted the name of Antoninus, and in baseness and debauchery outdid a Nero, a Vitellius, and a Commodus, you remember what groanings arose from all, and how in the gatherings of the populace and of all honourable men there was but a single cry — that he was unworthy to bear the name of Antoninus, and that by such a plague as he that great name was profaned." 5 When he had spoken, there were again acclamations: "May the gods avert such evils! We fear them not with you as our emperor. We are safe from them with you as our leader. You have triumphed over vice, you have triumphed over crime, you have triumphed over dishonour. 6 You will add lustre to the name of Antoninus. We foresee it surely, we foresee it clearly. From your childhood on we have esteemed you, now too we esteem you." 7 Again the Emperor; "It is not that I shrink, O Conscript Fathers, from accepting this revered name merely because I fear that my life may fall into vices which will cause me to feel shame for the name; but I do not desire to take a name which, in the first place, belongs to a house that is no kin to me, and, in the second, I fell assured, will weigh heavily upon me." 10Legamen ad paginam Latinam And when he had spoken, there were acclamations as before. Again he spoke: 2 "If indeed I take the name of Antoninus, I may take also the name of Trajan, the name of Titus, and the name of Vespasian." 3 And when he had spoken, there were acclamations: "As you are now Augustus, so also be Antoninus." Again the p197Emperor: "I see, O Conscript Fathers, what impels you to bestow upon us this name also. 4 The first Augustus was the first founder of this Empire, and to his name we all succeed, either by some form of adoption or by hereditary claim. Even the Antonines themselves bore the name of Augustus. 5 Likewise the first Antoninus gave his name to Marcus and also to Verus by a process of adoption, while in the case of Commodus it was inherited, in Diadumenianus assumed, in Bassianus simulated, but in Aurelius it would be a mockery." 6 And when he had spoken, there were acclamations: "Alexander Augustus, may the gods keep you! May the gods in Heaven look with favour upon your modesty, your wisdom, your integrity, your purity! Hence we can see what an emperor you will be, and hence we esteem you. 7 You will be a proof that the senate can choose its rulers with wisdom. You will be a proof that the choice of the senate is the best of all. Alexander Augustus, may the gods keep you! Let Alexander Augustus consecrate the temples of the Antonines. Our 8 Caesar, our Augustus, our emperor, may the gods keep you! May you be victorious, may you prosper, and may you rule for many years!" 11Legamen ad paginam Latinam Alexander the Emperor spoke: I perceive, O Conscript Fathers, that I have obtained my desire, and I count it as gain, feeling and expressing the deepest gratitude. And I will endeavour to make the name which I bring to this office so famous that it will be coveted by future emperors and be bestowed upon the righteous in testimony of your loyalty." 2 Thereupon there were acclamations: "O Great Alexander, may the gods keep you! If you have rejected the surname Antoninus, accept then the praenomen of p199'the Great.'34 O Great Alexander, may the gods keep you!" 3 And when they had cried this out many times, Alexander Augustus spoke: "It would be easier, O Conscript Fathers, to take the name of the Antonines, for in so doing I should make some concession either to kinship or to a joint possession in that imperial name. 4 But why should I accept the name of 'the Great'? What great thing have I done? Alexander, indeed, received it after great achievements, and Pompey after great triumphs. 5 Be silent then, O revered Fathers, and do you in your greatness hold me as one of yourselves rather than force upon me the use of the name of 'the Great.' " 12Legamen ad paginam Latinam Thereupon they cried out "Aurelius Alexander Augustus, may the gods keep you!" and all the rest in the usual manner.

2 When the senate had adjourned after the transaction of much other business on that same day, the Emperor returned home in the manner of one celebrating a triumph. 3 For he seemed much more illustrious for refusing to receive names which did not belong to him than if he had received them, and he obtained from this refusal a reputation for steadfastness and mature dignity, since, though but one single man, or rather youth, he could not be moved by the persuasions of the entire senate. 4 Nevertheless, although the entreaties of the senate could not persuade him to take the name of either Antoninus or "the Great," the troops conferred on him the name Severus35 on account of his great strength of spirit and his marvellous and matchless fortitude in the face of the soldiers' insolence. 5 This won him p201profound respect in his own time, and great renown among later generations, especially since it came to pass further that he was given this name on account of his courageous spirit; for he is the only one of whom it is known that he dismissed mutinous legions, as I shall tell at the proper place,36 and, moreover, inflicted the harshest punishments on soldiers who chanced to commit any deed which could seem unlawful, as we shall also relate in its own place.37

13 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam The omens that predicted his rule were as follows: First, he was born on the anniversary of that day on which, it is said, Alexander the Great departed this life; secondly, his mother bore him in a temple dedicated to Alexander; and thirdly, he was called by Alexander's name. Furthermore, a dove's egg of purple hue,38 laid the very day he was born, was presented to his mother by an old woman; and from this the soothsayers prophesied that he would indeed be emperor, but not for long, and that he would speedily succeed to the imperial power. 2 Furthermore, a picture of the Emperor Trajan, which hung over his father's marriage-bed, fell down upon the bed at the time that Alexander was born in the temple. 3 We must add, moreover, that a woman named Olympias acted as his nurse — this was also the name of the mother of Alexander the Great — 4 and it happened by chance that he was reared by a certain peasant named Philip — which was the name of Alexander's father.39 5 It is said that on the day p203after his birth a star of the first magnitude was visible for the entire day at Arca Caesarea,40 and also that in the neighbourhood of his father's house the sun was encircled with a gleaming ring. 6 And the soothsayers, when they commended his birthday to the favour of the gods, declared that he would some day hold the supreme power, because some sacrificial victims were brought in from a farm of the Emperor Severus, which the tenants had made ready in order to do honour to the Emperor. 7 Also, a laurel sprang up in his house close to a peach-tree, and within a single year it outgrew the peach, and from this the soothsayers predicted that he was destined to conquer the Persians.41 14Legamen ad paginam Latinam The night before he was born his mother dreamed that she brought forth a purple snake, 2 and on the same night his father saw himself in a dream carried to the sky on the wings of the Victory of Rome which is in the Senate-Chamber. 3 And when Alexander himself consulted a prophet about his future, being still a small child, he received, it is said, the following verses, 4 and first of all, by the oracle

"Thee doth empire await on earth and in Heaven"

it was understood that he was even to have a place among the deified emperors; then came

"Thee doth empire await which rules an empire"

by which it was understood that he should become ruler of the Roman Empire; for where, save at Rome, is there an imperial power that rules an empire? This same story, too, is related with regard to some Greek verses. 5 Moreover, when at his mother's bidding he turned his attention from philosophy and music to p205other pursuits, he seemed to be alluded to in the following verses from the Vergil-oracle:42

"Others, indeed, shall fashion more gracefully life-breathing bronzes,
Well I believe it, and call from the marble faces more lifelike,
Others more skilfully plead in the court-room and measure out closely
Pathways through Heaven above and tell of the stars in their risings;
Thou, O Roman, remember to rule all the nations with power.
These arts ever be thine: The precepts of peace to inculcate,
Those that are proud to cast down from their seats, to the humbled show mercy."

6 There were many other portents, too, which made it clear that he was to be the ruler of all mankind.

His eyes were very brilliant and hard to look at for a long time. He was very often able to read thoughts and he had an exceptional memory for facts — though Acholius43 used to maintain that he was aided by a mnemonic device. 7 After he succeeded to the imperial power, while still a boy, he used to do everything in conjunction with his mother, so that she seemed to have an equal share in the rule,44 a woman greatly revered, but covetous and greedy for gold and silver.45

15 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam When he began to play the part of emperor, his first acts to remove from their official posts and p207duties and from all connexion with the government all those judges whom that filthy creature had raised from the lowest class. Next, he purified the senate and the equestrian order; 2 then he purified the tribes46 and the lists of those whose positions depended on the privileges accorded to soldiers,47 and the Palace, too, and all his own suite, dismissing from service at the court all the depraved and those of ill-repute. And he permitted none save those who were needed to remain in the retinue of the Palace. 3 Then he bound himself by an oath that he would not retain any supernumeraries, that is, any holders of sinecures, his purpose being to relieve the state of the burden of their rations; for he characterized as a public evil an emperor who fed on the vitals of the provincials any men neither necessary nor useful to the commonwealth. 4 He issued orders that judges guilty of theft should never appear in any city, and that if they did, they should be banished by the ruler of the province. 5 He gave careful attention to the rationing of the troops, and he inflicted capital punishment on tribunes who gave any privileges to soldiers in return for tithes of their rations.48 6 He issued instructions that the chiefs of the bureaux and those jurists who were most learned and most loyal to himself,49 of whom the foremost at that time was Ulpian,50 should examine and arrange in order all state-business and all law-suits, and then submit them to himself.

16 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam The respective rights of the people and the privy-purse he provided for in innumerable just laws, p209and he never formally issued an imperial order save in conjunction with twenty of the most learned jurists and at least fifty men of wisdom who were also skilled in speaking, his purpose being to have in his council as many votes as were requisite to pass a decree of the senate.51 2 The opinion of a man would be asked and whatever he said written down, but before anyone spoke, he was granted time for inquiry and reflection, in order that he might not be compelled to speak without due thought on matters of great importance. 3 It was his custom, furthermore, when dealing with matters of law or public business, to summon only those who were learned and skilled in speaking,52 but when matters of war were discussed, to summon former soldiers and old men who had served with honour and had knowledge of strategic positions, warfare, and camps; and he would also send for all the men of letters, particularly those versed in history, and ask them what action in cases like those under discussion had been taken by previous emperors, either of the Romans or of foreign nations.

17 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Encolpius,53 with whom Alexander was on most intimate terms, used to say that the Emperor, whenever he saw a thieving judge, had a finger ready to tear out the man's eye; such was his hatred for those whom he found guilty of theft. 2 It is told, furthermore, by Septimius, who has given a good account of Alexander's life, that so great was his indignation at judges, who, although not actually found p211guilty, yet laboured under the reputation of being dishonest, that, even if he merely chanced to see them, he would vent all the bile of his anger in great perturbation of spirit and with his whole countenance aflame, so that he became unable to speak. 3 Indeed, when a certain Septimius Arabianus, who had been notorious because of accusations of theft, but had been acquitted under Elagabalus, came with the senators to pay his respects to the Emperor, Alexander exclaimed: 4 "O Marna,54 O Jupiter, O ye gods in Heaven, not only is Arabianus alive, but he comes into the senate, and perhaps he is even hoping for some favour from me; does he consider me so foolish and so stupid?"

In greeting him at his levees it was customary to address him by his name only, that is, "Hail, Alexander".55 18Legamen ad paginam Latinam And if any man bowed his head or said aught that was over-polite as a flatterer, he was either ejected, in case the degree of his station permitted it, or else, if his rank could not be subjected to graver affront, he was ridiculed with loud laughter. 2 At his levees he granted an audience to all senators, but even so he admitted to his presence none but the honest and those of good report; and — according to the custom said to be observed in the Eleusinian mysteries, where none may enter save those who know themselves to be guiltless — he gave orders that the herald should proclaim that no one who knew himself to be a thief should come to pay his respects to the emperor, lest he might in some way be discovered and receive capital punishment. 3 Also, he forbade any one to worship him, whereas Elagabalus had begun to receive adoration in the manner of the king of the Persians. 4 Furthermore, p213he was the originator of the saying that only thieves complain of poverty — their purpose being to conceal the wickedness of their lives. 5 He used also to quote a well known proverb about thieves, using a Greek version which is rendered into Latin thus: "Whoso steals much but gives a little to his judges, he shall go free." The Greek, however, is as follows:

"Who much has thieved, through payment small shall be absolved."

19 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam He always chose his prefects of the guard subject to the authorization of the senate56 and the senate actually appointed the prefect of the city. Once he even appointed as second prefect of the guard57 a man who had tried to avoid the appointment, saying that it was the reluctant and not the seekers of office who should be given positions in the state. 2 He never appointed anyone to the senate without consulting all the senators present; for it was his policy that a senator should be chosen only in accordance with the opinions of all, that men of the highest rank should give their testimony, and that, if either those who gave testimony or those who subsequently expressed their opinion had spoken falsely, they should be degraded to the lowest class of citizens, the sentence being carried out without any prospect of mercy, just as if they had been found guilty of fraud. 3 Moreover, he never appointed senators except on the vote of the men of highest rank in the Palace, asserting that he who created a senator should himself be a great man. 4 And he would never enrol freedmen in the equestrian order, for he always maintained that this order was the nursery for senators.

p215 20 1   Legamen ad paginam Latinam So considerate was he that he would never have anyone ordered to stand aside, always showed himself courteous and gracious to all, visited the sick, not merely his friends of the first and second degrees,58 but also those of lower rank, desired that every man should speak his thoughts freely and heard him when he spoke, and, when he had heard, ordered improvement and reform as the case demanded; 2 but if anything was not done well, he would reprove it in person, though without any arrogance or bitterness of spirit. He would grant an audience to any except those whom persistent rumours charged with dishonesty, and he would always make inquiries concerning the absent. 3 Finally, when his mother Mamaea and his wife Memmia,59 the daughter of Sulpicius, a man of consular rank, and the grand-daughter of Catulus, would often upbraid him for excessive informality, saying, "You have made your rule too gentle and the authority of the empire less respected," he would reply, "Yes, but I have made it more secure and more lasting." 4 In short, he never allowed a day to pass without doing some kind, some generous, or some righteous deed, and yet he never ruined the public treasury.

21 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam He gave orders that few sentences should be pronounced, but those that were pronounced he would not reverse. He assigned public revenues to p217individual communities for the advancement of their own special handicrafts. 2 And he loaned out public money on interest at four-per‑cent,60 but to many of the poor he even advanced money without interest for the purchase of lands, the loans to be repaid from their profits.

3 His prefects of the guard he would promote to the rank of senator61 in order that they might belong to the class of The Illustrious62 and be so addressed. 4 Previous to his time such promotions had been made rarely, or, if made at all, had been of short duration; indeed — as Marius Maximus says in many of his biographies — whenever an emperor wished to appoint a successor to the prefect of the guard,63 he merely had a freedman take him a tunic with the broad stripe. 5 Alexander, however, in wishing the prefects to be senators had this end in view, namely, that no one might pass judgment on a Roman senator who was not a senator himself.64

6 He knew all about his soldiers, wherever he might be; even in his bed-chamber he had records containing the numbers of the troops and the length of each man's service, and when he was alone he constantly went over their budgets, their numbers, their several ranks, and their pay, in order that he might be thoroughly conversant with every detail. 7 Finally, whenever there was anything to be done in the presence of the soldiers, he could even call many of them by name. 8 He would also make notes about those whom he was to promote and read through each memorandum, actually making a note at the same time both of the date and the name of the man on whose recommendation the promotion was made.

9 He greatly improved the provisioning of the p219populace of Rome, for, whereas Elagabalus had wasted the grain-supply, Alexander, by purchasing grain at his own expense, restored it to its former status.65 22Legamen ad paginam Latinam In order to bring merchants to Rome of their own accord he bestowed the greatest privileges on them,66 2 and he established anew the largess of oil which Severus had given to the populace67 and Elagabalus had reduced when he conferred the prefecture of the grain-supply on the basest.68 3 The right of bringing suit,69 which that same filthy wretch had abrogated, he restored to all. 4 He erected in Rome very many great engineering-works.70 He respected the privileges of the Jews and allowed the Christians to exist unmolested.71 5 He paid great deference to the Pontifices, to the Board of Fifteen,72 and to the Augurs, even permitting certain cases involving sacred matters, though already decided by himself, to be reopened and presented in a different aspect. 6 Whenever he discovered that the praises accorded to a returning provincial governor were genuine and not the result of intrigue, he would always ask the man to ride in his own carriage with him when on a journey and also help him by means of presents, saying that rogues should be driven from public office and impoverished, but that the upright should be retained and enriched. 7 Once, when the populace of Rome petitioned him for a reduction of prices, he had a herald ask them what kinds of food they considered too dear, and when they cried out p221immediately "beef and pork" 8 he refused to proclaim a general reduction but gave orders that no one should slaughter a sow or a suckling-pig, a cow or a calf. As a result, in two years or, in fact, in little more than one year, there was such an abundance of pork and beef, that whereas a pound had previously cost eight minutuli,73 the price of both these meats was reduced to two and even one per pound.

23 1 Legamen ad paginam LatinamWhen soldiers brought charges against their tribunes he would hear them with attention, and whenever he found a tribune guilty, he would punish him in proportion to the degree of his offence, leaving no prospect of pardon. 2 In gathering information about any person he would always use agents whom he could trust, and it was his practice to employ for this purpose men whom no one knew, for he used to say that every man could be bribed. 3 He always had his slaves wear slaves' attire, but his freedmen that of the free-born. 4 He removed all eunuchs from his service and gave orders that they should serve his wife as slaves. 5 And whereas Elagabalus had been the slave of his eunuchs,74 Alexander reduced them to a limited number and removed them from all duties in the Palace except the care of the women's baths; 6 and whereas Elagabalus had also placed many over the administration of the finances and in procuratorships, Alexander took away from them even their previous positions. 7 For he used to say that eunuchs were a third sex of the human race, one not to be seen or employed by men and scarcely even by women of noble birth. 8 And when one of them sold a false promise in his p223name75 and received a hundred aurei from one of the soldiers, he ordered him to be crucified along the road which his slaves used in great numbers on their way to the imperial country-estates.

24 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Very many provinces which had previously been governed by legates were transferred by him to the class which was ruled by equestrian governors,76 and the provinces which were under proconsuls were governed according to the wish of the senate. 2 He forbade the maintenance in Rome of baths used by both sexes — which had, indeed, been forbidden previously77 but had been allowed by Elagabalus. 3 He ordered that the taxes imposed on procurers, harlots, and catamites should not be deposited in the public treasury, but utilized them to meet the state's expenditures for the restoration of the theatre, the Circus, the Amphitheatre, and the Stadium.78 4 In fact, he had it in mind to prohibit catamites altogether — which was afterwards done by Philip79 — but he feared that such a prohibition would merely convert an evil recognized by the state into a vice practised in private — for men when driven on by passion are more apt to demand a vice which is prohibited. 5 He imposed a very profitable tax on makers of trousers, weavers of linen, glass-workers, furriers, locksmiths, silversmiths, goldsmiths, and workers in the other crafts, and gave p225orders that the proceeds should be devoted to the maintenance of the baths for the use of the populace, not only those that he had himself built,80 but also those that were previously in existence; 6 he also assigned certain forests as a source of income for the public baths. In addition, he donated oil for the lighting of the baths, whereas previously these were not open before dawn and were closed before sunset.81

25 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Some writers have maintained in their books that Alexander's reign was without bloodshed.82 2 This, however, is not the case, for he was given the name of Severus by the soldiers because of his strictness,83 3 and his punishments were in come cases much too harsh.

He restored the public works of former emperors84 and built many new ones himself, among them the bath which was called by his own name85 adjacent to what had been the Neronian 4 and also the aqueduct which still has the name Alexandriana.86 Next to this bath he planted a grove of trees on the site of some private dwellings which he purposed and then tore down. 5 One bath-tub he called "the Ocean" — and he was the first of the emperors to do this, for Trajan had not done this87 but had merely called his tubs after the different days. 6 The Baths of Antoninus Caracalla he completed and beautified by the p227addition of a portico.88 7 Moreover, he was the first to use the so‑called Alexandrian marble-work, which is made of two kinds of stone, porphyry and Lacedaemonian marble,89 and he employed this kind of material in the ornamentation of the open places in the Palace. 8 He set up in the city many statues of colossal size,90 calling together sculptors from all places. 9 And he had himself depicted on many of his coins in the costume of Alexander the Great,91 some of these coins being made of electrum92 but most of them of gold.

10 He forbade women of evil reputation to attend the levees of his mother and his wife. 11 According to the custom of the ancient tribunes and consuls he made many speeches throughout the city. 26Legamen ad paginam LatinamThrice he presented a largess to the populace,93 and thrice a gift of money to the soldiers, and to the populace he also gave meat. 2 He reduced the interest demanded by money-lenders to the rate of four-per‑cent94 — in this measure, too, looking out for the welfare of the poor — 3 and in the case of senators who loaned money, he first ordered them not to take any interest at all save what they might receive as a gift, but afterwards permitted them to exact six-per‑cent, abrogating, however, the privilege of receiving gifts. 4 He placed statues of the foremost men in the Forum of Trajan,95 moving them thither from all sides.

5 He held in especial honour Ulpian and Paulus,96 whom, some say, Elagabalus made prefects of the p229guard, others, Alexander himself. 6 Ulpian, it is related, was a member of Alexander's council97 as well as chief of a bureau,98 but both of them are said to have sat on the bench99 with Papinian.100

7 Alexander also began the Basilica Alexandrina,101 situated between the Campus Martius and the Saepta of Agrippa,102 one hundred feet broad and one thousand long and so constructed that its weight rested wholly on columns; its completion, however, was prevented by his death. 8 The shrines of Isis and Serapis103 he supplied with a suitable equipment, providing them with statues, Delian slaves,104 and all the apparatus used in mystic rites. 9 Toward his mother Mamaea he showed singular devotion, even to the extent of constructing in the Palace at Rome certain apartments named after her (which the ignorant mob of today calls "ad Mammam")105 and also near Baiae a palace and a pool, still listed officially under the name of Mamaea. 10 He also built in the district of Baiae other magnificent public works in honour of his kinsmen, and huge pools, besides, formed by letting in the sea. 11 The bridges which Trajan had built he restored almost everywhere, and he constructed new ones, too, but on those that he restored he retained Trajan's name.

27 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam It was his intention to assign a peculiar type of clothing to each imperial staff, not only to the various ranks — in order that they might be distinguished by their garments — but also to the slaves as p231a class — that they might be easily recognized when among the populace and held in check in case of disorder, and also that they might be prevented from mingling with the free-born. 2 This measure, however, was regarded with disapproval by Ulpian and Paulus, who declared that it would cause much brawling in case the men were at all quick to quarrel. 3 Thereupon it was held to be sufficient to make a distinction between Roman knights and senators by means of the width of the purple stripe.106 4 But permission was given to old men to wear cloaks in the city as a protection against the cold, whereas previously this kind of garment had not been used except on journeys or in rainy weather. Matrons, on the other hand, were forbidden to wear cloaks in the city but permitted to use them while on a journey.

5 He could deliver orations in Greek better than in Latin,107 he wrote verse that was not lacking in charm, and he had a taste for music. He was expert in astrology, and in accordance with his command astrologers even established themselves officially in Rome108 and professed their art openly for the purpose of supplying information. 6 He was also well versed in divination, and so skilled an observer of birds was he that he surpassed both the Spanish Vascones109 and the augurs of the Pannonians. 7 He was a student of geometry, he painted marvellously, and he sang with distinction, though he never allowed any listeners to be present except his slaves. 8 He composed in verse the lives of the good emperors. 9 He could play the lyre, the clarinet, and the organ, and he could even blow the trumpet, but this he never p233did openly while emperor. Moreover, he was a wrestler of the first rank, 10 and he was great in arms, winning many wars and with great glory.

28 1   Legamen ad paginam Latinam He held the regular consulship only three times,110 merely entering upon the office and on the first legal day111 always appointing some one else in his place. 2 As a judge he was especially harsh towards thieves, referring to them as guilty of daily crime, and he would pronounce most severe sentences on them, declaring that they were the only real enemies and foes of the state. 3 When a clerk at a meeting of the imperial council brought in a falsified brief of a case, he ordered the tendons of his fingers to be cut, in order that he might never be able to write again, and then banished him. 4 Once a certain man, who had held public office and had at some time been accused of evil living and theft, sought by means of undue intriguing to enter military service and was admitted because he had paid court to certain friendly kings; but immediately thereafter he was detected in a theft, even in the very presence of his patrons, and was ordered to plead his case before the kings, and his guilt being established he was convicted. 5 Thereupon the kings were asked what penalty thieves suffered at their hands, and they replied "the cross," and at this reply the man was crucified. So not only was the intriguer condemned by his own patrons, but also Alexander's policy of clemency, which he particularly desired to maintain, was duly upheld.

6 In the Forum of Nerva112 (which they call the p235Forum Transitorium) he set up colossal statues of the deified emperors, some on foot and nude, others on horseback, with all their titles and with columns of bronze containing lists of their exploits, doing this after the example of Augustus, who erected in his forum113 marble statues of the most illustrious men, together with the record of their achievements. 7 He wished it to be thought that he derived his descent from the race of the Romans, for he felt shame at being called a Syrian,114 especially because, on the occasion of a certain festival, the people of Antioch and of Egypt and Alexandria had annoyed him with jibes, as is their custom, calling him a Syrian synagogue-chief and a high priest.115


The Editor's Notes:

1 See Heliog. xvii.4 and note.

2 On his name see note to Heliog. v.1.

3 Arca Caesarea or Caesarea ad Libanum in Syria, on the western slope of the Lebanon range, a short distance NE of the modern city of Tripoli.

4 His father's name was Gessius Marcianus. Varius Marcellus was the father of Elagabalus.

5 i.e. Julia Maesa, erroneously called Varia in these biographies; see note to Macr. ix.1.

6 This statement is incorrect; see note to Heliog. v.1.

7 See Pius iv.7 and note.

8 See note to Marc. vi.6.

9 The title of Pater Patriae, particularly, had not been assumed by earlier constitutional emperors until some time after their accession to power; see Hadr. vi.4; Pius vi.6.

10 On Vindex and Antonius Saturninus see notes to Pesc. Nig. ix.2.

11 See Sev. v.1.

12 On his popularity see Heliog. xiii.3 and note.

13 See Heliog. xiii.4 f.

14 So he is called Alexander Mamaeae in c. v.2; Aurel. xlii.4; Car. iii.4. The appellation "son of Mamaea" was, of course, not official, but it is significant as denoting his entire subjection to his mother; see note to c. xiv.7.

15 Nothing is known of any of these.

16 Probably the Terentius Scaurinus who was the teacher of Lucius Verus; see Ver. ii.5.

17 Dominus was the title by which the emperor was usually addressed. Its use had been discouraged by the early emperors, notably by Augustus and Tiberius; see Suetonius, Suet. Aug., liii; Suet. Tib. xxvii; Dio, LVII.8. It was adopted by Domitian and was regularly in use after his time.

18 See Heliog. xxiii.3‑4.

19 See note to Heliog. xi.2.

20 Fortuna Primigenia, whose temple at Praeneste (mod. Palestrina) in Latium) was famous for its oracle. Its responses were issued on sortes, i.e. pieces of wood on which utterances were inscribed.

21 AeneidVI.882‑883, addressed to Marcellus, the nephew of Augustus.

22 Undoubtedly a fiction, invented because of his name.

23 His birthday was 1st October, 208; see the Calendar of (p187)Philocalus, CIL I2 p274. Alexander the Great, on the other hand, died in June.

24 This statement is incorrect, for the mothers of Alexander and Elagabalus were sisters, the daughters of Julia Maesa and hence first cousins of Caracalla.

25 i.e., Julia Domna; see Sev. iii.9.

26 For similar acclamations see c. lvi.9‑10; Avid. Cass. xiii.1‑5; Com. xviii‑xix; Maxim. xvi.3‑7; xxvi; Gord. xi.9‑10; Max.‑Balb. ii.9‑12. Their genuineness is very doubtful.

27 See note to Com. xv.4.

28 The correctness of this date is open to question, for the best evidence points to the 11th March as the day of the murder of Elagabalus; see O. F. Butler, Studies in the Life of Hel. (1910), p105 f.

29 See note to Pert. vi.9.

30 See Heliog. xvii.1‑6.

31 M. Terentius Varro (116‑127 B.C.), a writer of great learning and versatility. He wrote 74 different works in about 620 books, of which only the Res Rusticae and a part of the de Lingua Latina are extant.

32 Q. Caecilius Metellus, surnamed Pius because of his efforts to have his father Metellus Numidicus recalled from the banishment into which he had been driven in 100 B.C. as the result of his opposition to Marius and his party.

33 See Macr. v.1; vi.6; Diad. i‑ii.

34 In fanciful allusion to Alexander the Great.

35 This explanation of the assumption of the name Severus by Alexander (repeated in c. xxv.2) is wholly incorrect. He took the name in order to emphasize his connexion with Septimius Severus, as Elagabalus had assumed the name M. Aurelius Antoninus in order to connect himself more closely with Caracalla. The explanation given here is based on the general fondness of these biographers for punning on (p199)the names of the emperors; see Pert. i.1; Sev. xiv.13; Macr. xi.2.

36 Alexander seems to have been unable to control the soldiers, and there was a succession of mutinies during his reign; see c. lii.3; liii.3; lix.4, and the final mutiny which led to his murder (see note to c. lix.1). Another mutiny in Mesopotamia is recorded by Dio (LXXX.4) and a mutiny of the praetorian guard led to the murder of Ulpian; see c. li.4.

37 Alexander's strictness in discipline is a favourite topics of the biographer; see c. xxv.2; l.1; li.6; lii‑liv; lix.5; lxiv.3. It is even assigned as the cause of his assassination (c. lix.6) but wholly incorrectly; see note to c. lix.1. (p201)In general, there is no reason to believe that he was a severe disciplinarian, and this quality seems to be attributed to him as part of the tendency of the biography to eulogize him.

38 For a similar portent see Geta iii.2.

39 These statements seem wholly fanciful.

40 The native city of his father; see c. i.2 and note.

41 The peach (malus Persica) was brought to Italy from Persia or Transcaucasia in the first century after Christ.

42 Aeneid, VI.848‑854.

43 Cited also in c. xlviii.7; lxiv.5. In Aurel. xii.4, he is said to have been the magister admissionum of Valerian. Nothing else is known of him, and it is not improbable that he and Encolpius (c. xvii.1; xlviii.7) are inventions of the biographer.

44 Alexander was 13 years old at his accession and the government was carried on entirely by Mamaea after the death of Julia Maesa in 226; see HerodianVI.1, 1‑5. She was clever enough to conceal the weak and indolent character of her son by providing him with excellent advisers, notably Ulpian, and attributing to him all the reforms instituted by them.

45 Her greed is attested by Herodian ( VI.1, 8). It brought the reign of Alexander into great disrepute and was one of the (p205)causes of his downfall. Alexander's own tendency for amassing wealth is alluded to in c. xliv.2 and lxiv.3.

46 i.e. the thirty-five tribes made up of the free citizens.

47 Legionary soldiers received full citizenship when honourably discharged from the service.

48 See note to Pesc. Nig. iii.8.

49 This body was the consilium principis, further described in c. xvi.1‑2. Some of its members are enumerated in c. lxviii.1. It included, besides Ulpian, his fellow-prefect, (p207)the other great jurist of the time, Julius Paulus; see c. xxvi.5; Pesc. Nig. vii.4.

50 On Ulpian see c. xxvi.5 and Heliog. xvi.2.

51 In 11 B.C. this number was lowered by Augustus to under 400; see Dio, LIV.35.1. Afterwards, however, he ordered that the number should vary with the importance of the measure to be enacted; see Dio LV.3. In 356 A.D. a quorum for the election of a praetor consisted of only fifty senators; see Cod. Theodosianus, VI.4.9.

52 Not necessarily members of the consilium but experts summoned to give advice on some particular question.

53 Mentioned also in c. xlviii.7, but not otherwise known. Both he and Septimius (§2, also cited in c. xlviii.7) are (p209)probably, like Acholius (c. xiv.6), wholly fictitious, invented by the biographer in order to embellish his narrative with the citation of sources.

54 The patron-deity of Gaza in Palestine, later identified with Zeus. His cult is frequently mentioned in early Christian writers as an opponent of Christianity.

55 i.e. not as Domine; see c. iv.1.

Thayer's Note: in fact — following the Latin a bit closer and stripping away the spurious pomp of "hail" — "Hello, Alexander."

56 This was in accord with Alexander's general policy of granting the senate a larger share in the administration of the empire and increasing its prestige; see also c. xxiv.1; xliii.2; xlvi.5. It had been customary to advance the prefect of the guard, on his retirement, to membership in the senatorial order (see Hadr. viii.7 and note; Com. iv.7), but now the office was opened to senators as well as knights, and those knights who were appointed to it were raised to senatorial rank; see c. xxi.3.

57 See note to Hadr. ix.5.

58 On the amici see note to Heliog. xi.2. They were divided into amici primae and secundae admissionis, corresponding in general to the senatorial and equestrian orders, although this principle of distinction was not carried out rigidly.

59 She is not mentioned elsewhere. In the autumn of 225 Alexander married Sallustia Barbia Orbiana, mentioned in inscriptions and portrayed on coins of 225‑227. Memmia (if the name is not apocryphal) was perhaps the wife (unnamed) (p215)of whom Herodian records that Mamaea became jealous[ALT: A typographical or similar correction] and had her banished to Africa, at the same time putting to death on the charge of conspiracy her father, who had been promoted to high office by Alexander; see Herodian, VI.1, 9‑10. This event is also alluded to in c. xlix.3‑4, where the father-in‑law is called Macrinus, but he cannot be identified with certainty with the Sulpicius of the present passage.

60 This was a very low rate; see Pius ii.8 and note.

61 See note to c. xix.1.

62 On the title see note to Avid. Cass. i.1.

63 i.e. dismiss him from office; see note to Hadr. ix.4.

64 On this principle see Hadr. vii.4 and note; Sev. vii.5.

65 The coins of Alexander show five different liberalitates, or distributions of grain or money to the people; see Cohen, IV2, p412‑417, nos. 107‑145. This number is not in accord with the statement in c. xxvi.1, which, accordingly, is incorrect.

66 By remitting the tax levied on them; see c. xxxii.5.

67 See Sev. xviii.3.

68 i.e. Claudius, a barber; see Heliog. xii.1.

69 The text is evidently corrupt.

70 Perhaps the buildings described in c. xxv.3‑6.

71 A reversal of Severus' policy; see Sev. xvii.1. On his general interest in Judaism and Christianity see c. xxix.2; xlii.6‑7; xlv.7; xlix.6; li.7.

72 The quindecemviri sacris faciendis, or keepers of the Sibylline Books, which contained formulas or verses officially consulted by the senate at great crises. The emperor was always a member of this board as well as of the pontifices and augures; see note to Marc. vi.3.

Thayer's Note: For comprehensive details and sources, see the section on the quindecemviri in the article Decemviri in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

73 The argenteus minutulus (so also Aurel. ix.7; xii.1) was the small silver coin current in the third century, corresponding to the denarius of the earlier period but much depreciated in value; see Mommsen, Röm. Münzwesen, p783.

74 Cf. c. xxxiv.3; xlv.4; lxvi.3.

75 See note to Pius vi.4. For his punishment of one offender see c. xxxvi.2‑3.

76 On the distinction between imperial provinces (here, legatoriae) and senatorial (proconsulares) see note to Hadr. iii.9. In the present passage the word praesidales presents considerable difficulty. The term praeses was used loosely to designate any provincial governor (see DigestaI.18, 1) as in, e.g., c. xxii.6; xlii.4; xlvi.5; Hadr. xiii.10; Pius v.3. Again, it was used in the later period, after the separation of the civil and military powers in the provinces, to designate the civil governor as opposed to the military commander, and this has been thought to be its application here. There is, however, no other evidence that this separation was carried out until the latter part of the third century, and it is very doubtful if this change can be attributed to Alexander. A third use of praeses was its application to a procurator of equestrian rank charged with the governorship of a minor imperial province as opposed to a senatorial legatus (see (p223)Hirschfeld, Verwaltungsbeamten, p385 f.) and it seems most reasonable to interpret it in this sense here.

77 See Hadr. xviii.10; Marc. xxiii.8.

78 The Theatre of Marcellus (see c. xliv.7), the Circus Maximus, the Colosseum, struck by lightning under Macrinus (see Heliog. xvii.8 and note), and the stadium built by Domitian in the Campus Martius — the site of the modern Piazza Navona.

79 See c. xxxix.2; Heliog. xxxii.6.

80 See c. xxv.3.

81 The early closing-hour was restored by the Emperor Tacitus; see Tac. x.2.

82 See c. lii.2.

83 This is not true; see note to c. xii.4.

84 See c. xxiv.3 and note.

85 The Thermae Alexandrianae were a re‑building and extension of the Thermae Neronianae in the Campus Martius immediately NE of the Pantheon; the name was still applied to this locality in the eleventh century. These Thermae are depicted on coins of 226; see Cohen, IV2, p431, no. 297; p449 f., nos. 479‑480; p483 f., nos. 14 and 17.

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

86 It brought the water for his Thermae, conveying it from springs near Gabii A unit conversionabout eleven miles E of the city — the source of the modern Acqua Felice constructed in 1585. It entered the city at the Porta Maggiore, about 3 km outside which, near Vigna Certosa, its ruins are still visible, though all traces of it inside the walls have vanished.

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

87 i.e. in his Thermae, the ruins of which are on the Esquiline Hill, NE of the Colosseum.

Thayer's Note: Platner and Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome places these baths on the contrary near the Pantheon: see the article Thermae Neronianae; what the Loeb editor seems to have in mind is the Baths of Titus or Trajan.

88 See Carac. ix.4; Heliog. xvii.9.

89 See Heliog. xxiv.6 and note.

90 See c. xxvi.4; xxviii.6.

91 Probably an allusion to the many coins on which he appears in full armour, e.g. Cohen, IV2, p442, no. 406.

92 An alloy of silver and gold. Coins made of it were frequently issued by the cities of Greece and Asia Minor and by Carthage, but no such Roman coins appear to be extant.

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

93 See c. xxi.9 and note.

94 See c. xxi.2; Pius ii.8 and note.

95 On its site see Hadr. vii.6 and note.

96 The two famous jurists; see Pesc. Nig. vii.4 and Heliog. xvi.2 and notes. The statement that they were made prefects of the guard by Elagabalus is incorrect, for he seems to (p227)have removed Ulpian from office (see Heliog. xvi.4) and banished Paulus (Victor, Caes. XXIV.6). Alexander's appointment of these two jurists to the prefecture of the guard was an important step in the transformation of this post from a military office to a judicial one.

97 See c. xvi.1 and note.

98 The a libellis under Caracalla; see Pesc. Nig. vii.4 and note. It was probably from this office that he was removed by Elagabalus. In an edict of Alexander's of 31st March, 222 (Codex Justinianus VIII.37, 4) he appears as praefectus annonae; in a later one of 1st Dec., 222 (id.IV.65.4) he is prefect of the guard.

99 On the assessores see notes to Pesc. Nig. vii.3‑4.

100 See Carac. iii.2 and note.

101 Otherwise unknown, but probably connected with his Thermae.

Thayer's Note: For some ideas and references, see the article Basilica Alexandrina in Platner and Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

102 See note to Hadr. xix.10.

103 This double sanctuary was in the Campus Martius between the Pantheon and the Saepta E of the modern church of S. Maria sopra Minerva. Originally founded in 43 B.C. (Dio, (p229)XLVII.15), it was burned under Titus (Dio, LXVI.24) but rebuilt by Domitian (Eutropius, VII.23).

Thayer's Note: Good details about this temple (or these temples) are given by Platner and Ashby, with many additional sources and references, in the article Aedes Isidis of their Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

104 Apparently castrated slaves (see Petronius, Sat. xxiii), named from the island of Delos, famous as a slave-market.

105 Apparently a popular corruption of Mamaea's name.

106 The convention had long been in existence that senators should wear a broad purple stripe on their tunics (see note to Com. iv.7) and knights a narrow one.

Thayer's Note: For comprehensive details and sources, as well as several illustrations, see the article Clavus Latus in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

107 See c. iii.4.

108 See also c. xliv.4. Astrologers, usually called Chaldaei, had always been looked upon with suspicion by the Roman government and were officially banished from Rome as early as 139 B.C. Though periodically ordered to leave the city during the early empire (see Tacitus, Annals, II.32; XII.52; Hist. II.62), they continued to practise their art and were consulted by many and even by the emperors themselves.

109 In mod. Navarre, the ancestors of the Basques. Their skill in augury is not attested elsewhere.

110 In 222, 226, and 229. On the consul ordinarius see note to Carac. iv.8.

111 Originally used to denote the market-day — every eighth day — the word nundinium (nundinae) came to signify the portion of the year during which a pair of consuls (ordinarii or suffecti) held office. This use of the word seems to be due to the fact that in the early period the consul took over the fasces from his colleague on the nundinium; see Mommsen, Röm. Staatsrecht, II3, p84.

112 A narrow forum (35‑40 metres in width), NE of the Forum Romanum. Its purpose was to connect the Forum Augusti with the temple of Pax built by Vespasian, and hence it was called Transitorium. Of the elaborate wall which (p233)surrounded this forum two Corinthian columns with a portion of the frieze are still in situ.

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

113 NW of the Forum Nervae. Its chief adornment was the Temple of Mars Ultor, built by Augustus, extensive ruins of which are still preserved.

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

114 Cf. c. xliv.3; lxiv.3.

115 i.e. ἀρχιερεύς or chief-priest; it was evidently an allusion to the high-priesthood of the god Elagabalus of Emesa, which was hereditary in his mother's family.


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