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This webpage reproduces a Book of
Roman History

Cassius Dio

published in Vol. IX
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1927

The text is in the public domain.

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(Vol. IX) Cassius Dio
Roman History

Thayer's Note: Before e-mailing me with questions, comments, or corrections involving the numbering of Books, chapters, and sections in this text, please read the orientation page.

Vol. IX
Epitome of Book LXXII


3 Cassius, however, was ordered by Marcus to have charge of all Asia. The emperor himself fought for a long time, almost his entire life, one might say, with the barbarians in the region of the Ister, with both the Iazyges and the Marcomani, one after the other, using Pannonia as his base.

Six thousand Langobardi and Obii crossed the Ister, but the cavalry under Vindex issued forth and the infantry commanded by Candidus arrived, so that the barbarians were completely routed. Then, thrown into consternation by such an outcome to their very first undertaking, the barbarians sent envoys to Iallius Bassus, the governor of Pannonia, choosing for the purpose Ballomarius, king of the Marcomani, and ten others, one for each nation. These envoys made peace, which they ratified with oaths, and then returned home.

2 Many of the Germans, too, from across the Rhine, advanced as far Italy and inflicted many injuries upon the Romans. They were in turn attacked by Marcus, who opposed to them his lieutenants Pompeianus and Pertinax; and Pertinax (who later became emperor) greatly distinguished himself. Among the corpses of the barbarians there were  p13 found even women's bodies in armour. 3 Yet, though a mighty struggle had taken place and a brilliant victory had been won, the emperor nevertheless refused the request of the soldiers for a donative, declaring that whatever they obtained over and above the regular amount would be wrung from the blood of their parents and kinsmen; 4 as for the fate of the sovereignty, Heaven alone could determine that.​1 So temperately and so firmly did he rule them, that, even when involved in so many and so great wars, he did naught that was unseemly either by way of flattery or as the result of fear.

11 Marcus Antoninus remained in Pannonia in order to give audience to the embassies of the barbarians; for many came to him at this time also. Some of them, under the leader­ship of Battarius, a boy twelve years old, promised an alliance; these received a gift of money and succeeded in restraining Tarbus, a neighbouring chieftain, who had come into Dacia and was demanding money and threatening to make war if he should fail to get it. Others, like the Quadi, asked for peace, which was granted them, both in the hope that they might be detached from the Marcomani, and also because they gave him many horses and cattle and promised to surrender all the deserters and the captives, besides, — thirteen thousand at first, and later all the others as well. The right to attend the markets, however, was not  p15 granted to them, for fear that the Iazyges and the Marcomani, whom they had sworn not to receive nor to allow to pass through their country, should mingle with them, and passing themselves off for Quadi, should reconnoitre the Roman positions and purchase provisions. Besides these that came to Marcus, many others sent envoys, some by tribes and some by nations, and offered to surrender. Some of them were sent on campaigns elsewhere, as were also the captives and deserters who were fit for service; others received land in Dacia, Pannonia, Moesia, the province of Germany, and in Italy itself. Some of them, now, who settled at Ravenna, made an uprising and even went so far as to seize possession of the city: and for this reason Marcus did not again bring any of the barbarians into Italy, but even banished those who had previously come there.

Both the Astingi and the Lacringi came to the assistance of Marcus.

12 The Astingi, led by their chieftains Raüs and Raptus, came into Dacia with their entire households, hoping to secure both money and land in return for their alliance. But failing of their purpose, they left their wives and children under the protection of Clemens, until they should acquire the land of the Costoboci by their arms; but upon conquering that people, they proceeded to injure Dacia no less than before. The Lacringi, fearing that Clemens in his dread of them might lead these  p17 newcomers into the land which they themselves were inhabiting, attacked them while off their guard and won a decisive victory. As a result, the Astingi committed no further acts of hostility against the Romans, but in response to urgent supplications addressed to Marcus they received from him both money and the privilege of asking for land in case they should inflict some injury upon those who were then fighting against him. Now this tribe really did fulfill some of its promises; whereas the Cotini, though they made similar offers, nevertheless, upon receiving Tarrutenius Paternus, the secretary in charge of the emperor's Latin correspondence, on the pretext that they wished to make a campaign with him against the Marcomani, not only failed to do so, but even treated Paternus himself shamefully, thereby bringing about their own destruction later.

3 5 When the Marcomani were success­ful in a certain battle and slew Marcus Vindex, the prefect, the emperor erected three statues in his honour; and after conquering the foe he himself received the title of Germanicus (for we give the name of Germans to those who dwell in the northern regions).

4 The people called the Bucoli​2 began a disturbance in Egypt and under the leader­ship of one Isidorus, a priest, caused the rest of the Egyptians to revolt. At first, arrayed in women's garments, they had deceived the Roman centurion, causing him to believe that they were women of the Bucoli and were going to give him gold as ransom for their  p19 husbands, and had then struck down when he approached them. They also sacrificed his companion, and after swearing an oath over his entrails, they devoured them. 2 Isidorus surpassed all his contemporaries in bravery. Next, having conquered the Romans in Egypt in a pitched battle, they came near capturing Alexandria, too, and would have succeeded, had not Cassius been sent against them from Syria. He contrived to destroy their mutual accord and to separate them from one another (for because of their desperation as well as of their numbers he had not ventured to attack them while they were united), and thus, when they fell to quarrelling, he subdued them.

5 It was during Marcus' war against the Germans that the following incidents occurred (I hope these anecdotes may be thought worthy of record). A captive lad, on being asked a question by him, replied: "I cannot answer you because of the cold. So, if you want to find out anything, command that a coat be given me, if you have one." And a soldier who was doing guard duty one night on the Ister, upon hearing a shout from his fellow-soldiers in captivity on the other side, at once swam across just as he was, released them, and then returned.

One of the prefects of Marcus was Bassaeus Rufus, who was a good man in other respects, but was uneducated because of his rustic origin and had been reared in poverty in his youth. On a certain occasion someone had checked him while he was engage in pruning a vine that grew upon a tree, and when he did not come down at the first summons, the man had rebuked him and said: "Come now, prefect, get down." That is, he had  p21 used this title in speaking to him as to one who was now bearing himself haughtily but had formerly been of lowly station; and it was precisely this title that Fortune subsequently gave him.

Once when Marcus was talking to someone in Latin and not only the man addressed but no one else of the bystanders, either, knew what he had said, Rufus, the prefect, exclaimed: "No wonder, Caesar, that he does not know what you said; for he does not understand Greek either." Indeed, he himself was ignorant of what had been said.

6 The emperor, as often as he had leisure from war, would hold court; he used to allow abundant time to the speakers,​3 and entered into the preliminary inquiries and examinations at great length, so as to ensure strict justice by every possible means. In consequence, he would often be trying the same case for as much as eleven or twelve days, even though he sometimes held court at night. For he was industrious and applied himself diligently to all the duties of his office; and he neither said, wrote, nor did anything as if it were a minor matter, but  p23 sometimes he would consume whole days over the minutest point, not thinking it right that the emperor should do anything hurriedly. For he believed that if he should slight even the smallest detail, this would bring reproach upon all his other actions. Yet he was so frail in body that at first he could not endure the cold, but even after the soldiers had assembled at his command he would retire before addressing a word to them; and he took but very little food and that always at night. It was never his practice to eat during the daytime, unless it were some of the drug called theriac. This drug he took, not so much because he feared anything, as because his stomach and chest were in bad condition; and it is reported that this practice enabled him to endure both this and other maladies.

7 The Iazyges were conquered by the Romans on land at this time and later on the river. By this I do not mean that any naval battle took place, but that the Romans pursued them as they fled over the frozen Ister and fought there as on dry land. The Iazyges, perceiving that they were being pursued, awaited their opponents' onset, expecting to overcome them easily, as the others were not accustomed to the ice. Accordingly, some of the barbarians dashed straight at them, while others rode round to attack their flanks, as their horses had been trained to run safely even over a surface of this kind. The Romans upon observing this were not alarmed, but formed in a compact body, facing all their foes at once, and most of them laid down their shields and rested one  p25 foot upon them, so that they might not slip so much; and thus they received the enemy's charge. Some seized the bridles, others the shields and spearshafts of their assailants, and drew the men toward them; and thus, becoming involved in close conflict, they knocked down both men and horses, since the barbarians by reason of their momentum could no longer keep from slipping. The Romans, to be sure, also slipped; but in case one of them fell on his back, he would drag his adversary down on top of him and then with his feet would hurl him backwards, as in a wrestling match, and so would get on top of him; and if one fell on his face, he would actually seize with his teeth his antagonist, who had fallen first. For the barbarians, being unused to a contest of this sort, and having lighter equipment, were unable to resist, so that but few escaped out of a large force.

13 Envoys were sent to Marcus by the Iazyges to request peace, but they did not obtain anything. For Marcus, both because he knew their race to be untrustworthy and also because he had been deceived by the Quadi, wished to annihilate them utterly. For the Quadi had not only fought on the side of the Iazyges at this time, but on an earlier occasion, too, had received in their own and any Marcomanian fugitives who were hard pressed while that tribe was still at war with the Romans. Moreover, they were not carrying out any of their agreements; in particular, they had not restored all the captives, but only a few, and these such as they could neither sell nor employ at any labour. Or, if they ever did give up any of those who were in good physical  p27 condition, they would keep their relatives back in order that the men given up might desert again to rejoin these. They also expelled their king Furtius, and on their own responsibility made Ariogaesus their king instead. In consequence, the emperor neither recognized Ariogaesus as their legally constituted king nor renewed the treaty of peace, though they promised to give up fifty thousand captives if he would do so.

14 Against Ariogaesus Marcus was so bitter that he issued a proclamation to the effect that anyone who brought him in alive should receive a thousand gold pieces, and anyone who slew him and exhibited his head, five hundred. Yet in general the emperor was always accustomed to treat even his most stubborn foes humanely; thus, when Tiridates, a satrap, stirred up trouble in Armenia and slew the king of the Heniochi, and then thrust his sword in Verus'​4 face when the latter rebuked him for it, he did not put him to death, but merely sent him to Britain. It can be seen from this, then, how exasperated he was against Ariogaesus at this time; nevertheless, when the man was later captured, he did him no harm, but merely sent him off to Alexandria.

8 So Marcus subdued the Marcomani and the Iazyges after many hard struggles and dangers. A great war against the people called the Quadi also fell to his lot and it was his good fortune to win an unexpected victory, or rather it was vouchsafed him by Heaven. For when the Romans were in peril in the course of the battle, the divine power saved  p29 them in a most unexpected manner. The Quadi had surrounded them at a spot favourable for their purpose and the Romans were fighting valiantly with their shields locked together; then the barbarians ceased fighting, expecting to capture them easily as the result of the heat and their thirst. So they posted guards all about and hemmed them in to prevent their getting water anywhere; for the barbarians were far superior in numbers. The Romans, accordingly, were in a terrible plight from fatigue, wounds, the heat of the sun, and thirst, and so could neither fight nor retreat, but were standing and the line and at their several posts, scorched by the heat, when suddenly many clouds gathered and a mighty rain, not without divine interposition, burst upon them. Indeed, there is a story to the effect that Arnuphis, an Egyptian magician, who was a companion of Marcus, had invoked by means of enchantments various deities and in particular Mercury, the god of the air, and by this means attracted the rain.

9 This is what Dio says about the matter,​5 but he is apparently in error, whether intentionally or otherwise; and yet I am inclined to believe his error was chiefly intentional. It surely must be so, for he was not ignorant of the division of soldiers that bore the special name of the "Thundering" Legion, — indeed he mentions it in the list along with the others,​6 — a title which was given it for no other reason (for no other is reported) than because of the incident that  p31 occurred in this very war. It was precisely this incident that saved the Romans on this occasion and brought destruction upon the barbarians, and not Arnuphis, the magician; for Marcus is not reported to have taken pleasure in the company of magicians or in witchcraft. Now the incident I have reference to is this: Marcus had a division of soldiers (the Romans call a division a legion) from Melitene; and these people are all worshippers of Christ. Now it is stated that in this battle, when Marcus found himself at a loss what to do in the circumstances and feared for his whole army, the prefect approached him and told him that those who are called Christians can accomplish anything whatever by their prayers and that in the army there chanced to be a whole division of this sect. Marcus on hearing this appealed to them to pray to their God; and when they had prayed, their God immediately gave ear and smote the enemy with a thunderbolt and comforted the Romans with a shower of rain. Marcus was greatly astonished at this and not only honoured the Christians by an official decree but also named the legion the "thundering" Legion. It is also reported that there is a letter of Marcus extant on the subject. But the Greeks, though they know that the division was called the "Thundering" Legion and themselves bear witness to the fact, nevertheless make no statement whatever about the reason for its name.

10 Dio goes on to say that when the rain poured down, at first all turned their faces upwards and received the water in their mouths; then some held out their shields and some their helmets to catch it, and they not only took deep draughts themselves  p33 but also gave their horses to drink. And when the barbarians now charged upon them, they drank and fought at the same time; and some, becoming wounded, actually gulped down the blood that flowed into their helmets, along with the water. So intent, indeed, were most of them on drinking that they would have suffered severely from the enemy's onset, had not a violent hail-storm and numerous thunderbolts fallen upon the ranks of the foe. Thus in one and the same place one might have beheld water and fire descending from the sky simultaneously; so that while those on the one side were being consumed by fire and dying; and while the fire, on the one hand, did not touch the Romans, but, if it fell anywhere among them, was immediately extinguished, the shower, on the other hand, did the barbarians no good, but, like so much oil, actually fed the flames that were consuming them, and they had to search for water even while being drenched with rain. Some wounded themselves in order to quench the fire with their blood, and others rushed over to the side of the Romans, convinced that they alone had the saving water; in any case Marcus took pity on them. He was now saluted imperator by the soldiers, for the seventh time; and although he was not wont to accept any such honour before the senate voted it, nevertheless this time he took it as a gift from Heaven, and he sent a despatch to the senate.

Moreover Faustina was given the title of "Mother of the Camp."7  p35 

22 When Pertinax as a reward for his brave exploits obtained the consul­ship, there were nevertheless some who showed displeasure in view of the fact that he was of obscure family, and they quoted this line from tragedy:

"Such things accursed war brings in its train."​8

Little did they realize that he should be emperor as well.9

15 When the Marcomani sent envoys to him, Marcus, in view of the fact that they had fulfilled all the conditions imposed of them, albeit grudgingly and reluctantly, restored to them one-half of the neutral zone along their frontier, so that they might now settle to within a distance of five miles​10 from the Ister; and he established the places and the days for their trading together (for these had not been previously fixed) and exchanged hostages with them.

16 The Iazyges were defeated and came to terms, Zanticus himself appearing as a suppliant before Antoninus. Previously they had imprisoned Banadaspus, their second king, for making overtures to him; but now all the chief men came with Zanticus and made the same compact as that to which the Quadi and the Marcomani had agreed, except that they were required to dwell twice as far away from  p37 the Ister as those tribes. Indeed, the emperor had wished to exterminate them utterly. For that they were still strong at this time and had done the Romans great harm was evident from the fact that they returned a hundred thousand captives that were still in their hands even after the many who had been sold, had died, or had escaped, and that they promptly furnished as their contribution to the alliance eight thousand cavalry, fifty-five hundred of whom he sent to Britain.

17 The revolt of Cassius and Syria forced Marcus Antoninus to make terms with the Iazyges very much against his will; indeed, he was so alarmed by the news that he did not even communicate to the senate the conditions of the peace made with them, as he was wont to do in other cases.

222 When Cassius rebelled in Syria, Marcus in great alarm summoned his son Commodus from Rome, as being now entitled to assume the toga virilis. Cassius, who was a Syrian from Cyrrhus, had shown himself an excellent man and the sort one would desire to have as an emperor, save for the fact that he was the son of one Heliodorus,​11 who had been content to secure the governor­ship of Egypt as the reward of his oratorical ability. 3 But Cassius in rebelling made a terrible mistake, due to his having been deceived by Faustina. The latter, who was the daughter of Antoninus Pius, seeing that her husband had fallen ill and expecting that he would die at any moment, was afraid that the throne might fall  p39 to some outsider, inasmuch as Commodus was both too young and also rather simple-minded, and that she might thus find herself reduced to a private station.​12 Therefore she secretly​13 induced Cassius to make his preparations so that, if anything should happen to Antoninus, he might obtain both her and the imperial power. 23 Now while he was considering this project, a message came that Marcus was dead (in such circumstances reports always represent matters as worse than they really are), and immediately, without waiting to confirm the rumor, he laid claim to the throne, on the ground that he had already been elected by the soldiers who were then in Pannonia. And in spite of the fact that he learned the whole truth before long, nevertheless, having once made a beginning, he did not change his course, but speedily won over the whole region south of the Taurus and was making preparations to gain the throne by war. Marcus, on being informed of his uprising by Verus, the governor of Cappadocia, concealed the news for a time; but as the soldiers were becoming greatly disturbed by the reports and were talking a great deal, he called them together and read an address to the following purport:  p41 

24 "Fellow-soldiers: I have come before you, not to express indignation, but to bewail my fate. For why become angry at Heaven, which is all-powerful? But it is necessary, perhaps, for those who meet with undeserved misfortune to indulge in lamentations; and that is now my case. Is it not dreadful that we become engaged in war after war? Is it not horrible that we are even involved in civil war? And are not both these evils surpassed in dreadfulness and horror by the discovery that there is no such thing as loyalty among men? For a plot has been formed against me by my dearest friend and I have been forced into a conflict against my will, though I have done nothing wrong or amiss. What virtue, what friendship shall henceforth be deemed secure after this experience of mine? Has not faith, has not confident hope perished? Now if the danger were mine alone, I should have regarded the matter as of no moment (for I presume I was not born to be immortal!), but since there has been a public secession, or rather rebellion, and the war touches us all alike, I could have wished, had it been possible, to invite Cassius here and to argue before you or the senate the matter at issue between us; and I would gladly have yielded the supreme power to him without a struggle, if this had seemed to be for the good of the State. For it is on behalf of the State that I continue to toil and to undergo dangers and that I have spent so much time here outside of Italy, though already an old man and weak, unable to take either food without pain or sleep without anxiety.  p43 

25 "But since Cassius would never consent to adopt this course, — for how could he trust me after having shown himself so untrustworthy toward me? — you, at least, fellow-soldiers, ought to be of good cheer. For surely Cilicians, Syrians, Jews, and Egyptians have never proved superior to you and never will, even if they should muster as many tens of thousands more than you as they now muster fewer. Nor would even Cassius himself appear to deserve any consideration now, however much he may seem to possess high qualities of general­ship or however many successes he may seem to have gained. For an eagle is not formidable when in command of an army of daws nor a lion when in command of fawns; and as for those Arabian and Parthian wars, it was not Cassius, but you, that brought them to an end. Again, even though he is renowned because of his achievements against the Parthians, yet you have Verus, who has been no less success­ful than he, but, on the contrary, more success­ful, in winning many victories and in acquiring much territory. But Cassius has perhaps already changed his mind on hearing that I am alive; for surely he has done this thing on no other assumption than that I was dead. But even if he persists in his course, yet when he learns that we are approaching, he will surely think better of it, both out of fear of you and out of respect for me.

26 "There is only one thing I fear, fellow-soldiers, for you shall be told the whole truth, — and that is, that either he will kill himself because ashamed to come into our presence or that someone else will do so upon learning that I am to come and am  p45 already setting out against him. 2 For then I should be deprived of a great prize both of war and of victory, a prize such as no human being has ever yet obtained. And what is this prize? To forgive a man who has wronged one, to remain a friend to one who has transgressed friendship, to continue faithful to one who has broken faith. 3 Perhaps all this seems incredible to you, but you ought not to disbelieve it; for surely all goodness has not yet entirely perished from among men, but there is still in us a remnant of the ancient virtue. And if anyone should disbelieve it, that but renders the more ardent my desire, in order that men may see accomplished what no one would believe could come to pass. 4 For that would be the one profit I could derive from our present ills, if I could settle this affair well and show to all mankind that there is a right way to deal even with civil wars."

27 This is what Marcus both said to the soldiers and wrote to the senate, never abusing Cassius in any way save that he constantly termed him ungrateful. Nor, indeed, did Cassius ever utter or write anything insulting to Marcus.

Marcus, when he was making preparations for the war against Cassius, would accept no barbarian assistance, although many nations rushed to offer their services; for he declared that the barbarians ought not to know of the troubles arising between Romans.

2 While Marcus was making preparations for the  p47 civil war, the death of Cassius was reported to him at the same time with the news of many victories over various barbarians.​14 Cassius, it appears, while proceeding on foot, had encountered Antonius, a centurion, who suddenly wounded him in the neck, though the blow was not exactly a mortal one. Antonius, now, was carried on by the momentum of his horse and left the deed incomplete, so that his victim nearly escaped; but in the meantime the decurion finished what remained to be done. They cut off Cassius' head and set out to meet the emperor.

28 Marcus Antoninus was so greatly grieved at the death of Cassius that he could not bring himself even to look at the severed head of his enemy, but before the murderers drew near gave orders that it should be buried.

27 32Thus was this pretender slain after a dream of empire lasting three months and six days; and his son, who was somewhere else, was also murdered. Marcus, upon reaching the provinces that had joined in Cassius' uprising, treated them all very leniently and did not put anyone to death, whether obscure or prominent.15

 p49  282 This same emperor neither slew nor imprisoned nor put under guard at all any of the senators who had been associated with Cassius. Indeed, he did not so much as bring them before his own court, but merely sent them before the senate, as though charged with some other offence, and set a definite day for their trial. 3 Of the others, he executed a very few, who had been guilty of some overt crime not only in co-operation with Cassius but also on their own account. A proof of this is that he did not slay or deprive of his property Flavius Calvisius,​16 the governor of Egypt, but merely confined him on an island. 4 He also caused the records made in this man's case to be burned, in order that no reproach should attach to him from this source; and he released all who had been associated with him.

29 About this time Faustina also died, either of the gout, from which she suffered, or in some other manner, in order to avoid being convicted of her compact with Cassius. And yet Marcus destroyed all the papers that were found in the chests of Pudens​17 without reading any of them, in order that he might not learn even the name of any of the conspirators who had written anything against him and so be reluctantly forced to hate them. Another story is to the effect that Verus, who had been sent ahead into Syria, of which he had secured the governor­ship, found these papers among the effects of Cassius and destroyed them, remarking that this course would probably be most  p51 agreeable to the emperor, but that, even if he should be angry, it would be better that he himself alone should perish rather than many others. Marcus, indeed, was so averse to bloodshed that he even used to watch the gladiators in Rome contend, like athletes, without risking their lives; for he never gave any of them a sharp weapon, but they all fought with blunted weapons like foils furnished with buttons. And so far was he from countenancing any bloodshed that although he did, at the request of the populace, order a certain lion to be brought in that had been trained to eat men, yet he would not look at the beast nor emancipate his trainer, in spite of the persistent demands of the spectators; instead, he commanded proclamation to be made that the man had done nothing to deserve his freedom.

30 In his great grief over the death of Faustina he wrote to the senate asking that no one of those who had co-operated with Cassius should be put to death, as if in this fact alone he could find some consolation for her loss.​18 "May it never happen," he  p53 continued, "that any one of you should be slain during my reign either by my vote or by yours." And in concluding he said, "If I do not obtain this request, I shall hasten to my death." So pure and excellent and god-fearing did he show himself from first to last; and nothing could force him to do anything inconsistent with his character, neither the wickedness of their rash course nor the expectation of similar uprisings as the result of his pardoning these rebels.​19 So far, indeed, was he from inventing any imaginary conspiracy or concocting any tragedy that had not really occurred, that he actually released those who had in the most open manner risen against him and taken up arms both against him and against his son, whether they were generals or heads of states or kings; and he put none of them to death either by his own action or by that of the senate or on any other pretext whatever. Hence I verily believe that if he had captured Cassius himself alive, he would certainly have spared his life. For he actually conferred benefits upon many who had been the murderers, so far as lay in their power, of both himself and his son.

31 A law was passed at this time that no one should serve as governor in the province from which he had originally come, inasmuch as the revolt of Cassius had occurred during his administration of Syria, which included his native district. And it was decreed by the senate that silver images of Marcus and Faustina should be set up in the temple of  p55 Venus and Rome, and that an altar should be erected whereon all the maidens married in the city and their bridegrooms should offer sacrifice; 2 also that a golden statue of Faustina should be carried in a chair into the theatre, on every occasion when the emperor was to be a spectator, and placed in the special section from which she herself had been wont, when alive, to view the games, and that the most influential women should sit round about it.

3 When Marcus had come to Athens and had been initiated into the Mysteries, he not only bestowed honours upon the Athenians, but also, for the benefit of the whole world, he established teachers at Athens in every branch of knowledge, granting these teachers an annual salary. 32 Then upon his return to Rome he made an address to the people; and while he was saying, among other things, that he had been absent many years, they cried out, "eight," and indicated this also with their hands, in order that they might receive that number of gold pieces​20 for a banquet. He smiled and also said "eight"; and later he distributed to them eight hundred sesterces apiece, a larger amount than they had ever received before. 2 Not only did he do this, but he remitted all debts owed by anyone to the emperor's private treasury or to the public treasury for a period of forty-five years, not including the fifteen years of Hadrian;​21 and he ordered all the documents relating to these debts  p57 to be burned in the Forum. 3 He also gave gifts of money to many cities, including Smyrna, which had suffered terrible destruction by an earthquake; and he assigned the task of rebuilding that city to a senator of praetorian rank. Therefore I am surprised to hear people even to‑day censuring him on the ground that he was not an open-handed prince. For, although in general he was most economical in very truth, yet he never avoided a single necessary expenditure, even though, as I have stated,​22 he burdened no one by levies of money and though he found himself forced to lay out very large sums beyond the ordinary requirements.

33 When the Scythian situation once more demanded his attention, it caused him to give his son a wife, Crispina, sooner than he wished. For the Quintilii had been unable to end the war, although there were two of them and they possessed great shrewdness, courage and experience; and consequently the rulers themselves were forced to take the field. 2 Marcus also asked the senate for money from the public treasury, not because such funds were not already at the emperor's disposal, but because he was wont to declare that all the funds, both these and others, belonged to the senate and to the people. "As for us," he said, in addressing the senate, "we are so far from possessing anything of our own that even the house in which we live is yours." 3 Then, after making this speech and after hurling the bloody spear, that was kept in the temple of  p59 Bellona, into what was supposed to be the enemy's territory​a (as I have heard men who were present relate), he set out; and he gave a large force to Paternus and sent him to the scene of the fighting. The barbarians held out for the entire day, but were all cut down by the Romans; and Marcus was saluted imperator for the tenth time.

18 The Iazyges sent an embassy and asked to be released from certain of the agreements they had made; and some concessions were granted them, to prevent their becoming entirely alienated. Yet neither they nor the Buri were willing to join the Romans as allies until they had received pledges from Marcus that he would without fail prosecute the war to the uttermost; for they were afraid he might make a treaty with the Quadi, as before, and leave enemies dwelling at their doors.

19 Marcus gave audience to those whom came as envoys from outside nations, but did not receive them all on the same footing; for this varied according as the several states were worthy to receive citizen­ship, or freedom from taxes, or perpetual or temporary exemption from the tribute, or even to enjoy permanent support. And when the Iazyges proved most useful to them, he released them from many of the restrictions that had been imposed upon them, — in fact, from all save those affecting their assembling and trading together and the requirements that they should not used boats of their own and should keep away from the islands in the Ister. And he permitted them to pass through Dacia  p61 in order to have dealings with the Rhoxolani, as often as the governor of Dacia should give them permission.

20 With regard to the Quadi and the Marcomani, who sent envoys:— the twenty thousand soldiers that were stationed in forts among each of these tribes would not allow them to pasture their flocks or till the soil or do anything else in security, but kept receiving many deserters from the enemy's ranks and captives of their own; yet the soldiers themselves were enduring no great hardships, inasmuch as they had baths and all the necessaries of life in abundance. The Quadi, accordingly, being unwilling to endure the forts built to keep watch over them, attempted to migrate in a body to the land of the Semnones. But Antoninus learned beforehand of their intention and by barring the roads prevented their departure. This showed that he desired, not to acquire their territory, but to punish the men themselves.

21 And the Naristi, who had suffered hardships, at one and the same time deserted to the number of three thousand and received land in our territory.

33 Now if Marcus had lived longer, he would have subdued that entire region; but as it was, he passed away on the seventeenth of March, not as a result of the disease from which he still suffered, but by the act of his physicians, as I have been plainly told, who wished to do Commodus a favour. 34 When now he was at the point of death, he commended his son to the protection of the soldiers (for he did not wish his death to appear to be due to Commodus), and to the military tribune who asked him for the watchword he said: "Go to the  p63 rising sun; I am already setting." After his death he received many marks of honour; among other things a gold statue of him was set up in the senate-house itself. This then was the manner of Marcus' death.

Marcus was so godfearing that even on the dies nefasti23 he sacrificed at home.

In addition to possessing all the other virtues, he ruled better than any others who had ever been in any position of power. To be sure, he could not display many feats of physical prowess; yet he had developed his body from a very weak one to one capable of the greatest endurance. Most of his life he devoted to beneficence, and that was the reason, perhaps, for his erecting a temple to Beneficence on the Capitol, though he called her by a most peculiar name, that had never been heard before.​24 He himself, then, refrained from all offences and did nothing amiss whether voluntarily or involuntarily; but the offences of the others, particularly those of his wife, he tolerated, and neither inquired into them nor punished them. So long as a person did anything good, he would praise him and use him for the service in which he excelled, but to his other conduct he paid no attention; for he declared that it is impossible for one to create such men as one desires to have, and so it is fitting to employ those who are already in existence for whatever service each of them may be able to render to the State. And that his whole conduct was due to no pretence but to real excellence is clear; for although he lived fifty-eight years, ten months, and  p65 twenty-two days, of which time he had spent a considerable part as assistant to the first Antoninus, and had been emperor himself nineteen years and eleven days, yet from first to last he remained the same and did not change in the least. So truly was he a good man and devoid of all pretence.

35 His education was of great assistance to him, for he had been trained both in rhetoric and in philosophical disputation. In the former he had Cornelius Fronto and Claudius Herodes for teachers, and, in the latter, Junius Rusticus and Apollonius of Nicomedeia,​25 both of whom professed Zeno's doctrines. 2 As a result, great numbers pretended to pursue philosophy, hoping that they might be enriched by the emperor. Most of all, however, he owed his advancement to his own natural gifts; for even before he associated with those teachers he had a strong impulse towards virtue. 3 Indeed, while still a boy he so pleased all his relatives, who were numerous, influential and wealthy, that he was loved by them all; and when Hadrian, chiefly for this reason, had adopted him, he did not become haughty, but, though young and a Caesar, served Antoninus most loyally throughout all the latter's reign and without giving offence showed honour to the others who were foremost in the State. 4 He used always to salute the most worthy men in the House of Tiberius, where he lived, before visiting his father, not only without putting on the attire befitting his rank, but actually dressed as a private citizen, and receiving them in the very apartment  p67 where he slept. He used to visit many who were sick, and never missed going to his teachers. 5 He would wear a dark cloak whenever he went out unaccompanied by his father, and he never employed a torch-bearer for himself alone. Upon being appointed leader of the knights he entered the Forum with the rest, although he was a Caesar. 6 This shows how excellent was his natural disposition, though it was greatly aided by his education. He was always steeping himself in Greek and Latin rhetorical and philosophical learning, even after he had reached man's estate and had hopes of becoming emperor. 36 Even before he was appointed Caesar he had a dream in which he seemed to have shoulders and arms of ivory, and to use them in all respect like his other members.

2 As a result of his close application and study he was extremely frail in body, though in the beginning he had been so vigorous that he used to fight in armour, and on the chase would strike down wild boars while on horseback; and not only in his early youth but even later he wrote most of his letters to his intimate friends with his own hand. 3 However, he did not meet with the good fortune that he deserved, for he was not strong in body and was involved in a multitude of troubles throughout practically his entire reign. But for my part, I admire him all the more for this very reason, that amid unusual and extraordinary difficulties he both survived himself and preserved the empire. 4 Just one thing prevented him from being completely happy, namely, that after rearing and educating his  p69 son in the best possible way he was vastly disappointed in him. This matter must be our next topic; for our history now descends from a kingdom of gold to one of iron and rust, as affairs did for the Romans of that day.


Yet he did not on this account collect money from the subject nations. On one occasion when, with wars impending, he found himself at a loss for funds, he neither devised any new tax nor brought himself to ask anyone for money, but instead exposed in the Forum all the heirlooms of the palace together with any ornaments that belonged to his wife, and urged any who so desired to buy them. In this way he raised funds which he paid to the soldiers. Then, after winning the war and gaining many times the amount in question, he issued a proclamation to the effect that any one of the purchasers of the imperial property who wished might return the article purchased and receive its value. Some did this, but the majority declined; and he compelled no one to return to him any object that had been thus acquired.

Marcus Antoninus, when the treasuries had become exhausted in the course of the war, could not bring himself to make levies of money contrary to precedent, but took all the imperial ornaments to the Forum and sold them for gold. When the barbarian uprising had been put down, he returned the purchase price to those who voluntarily brought back the imperial possessions, but used no compulsion in the case of those who were unwilling to do so.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Or, as Patricius puts it: "the power of the sovereignty depended, not on the soldiers, but on God."

2 This name (literally "Herdsmen") was given to the population of a district in the Delta near Alexandria.

3 Literally, "used to order a most liberal supply of water to be measured out for the speakers." The time allowed the speakers in Greek and Roman courts was measured by the clepsydra, or water-clock.

4 P. Martius Verus.

5 This paragraph, it will be observed, is simply Xiphilinus' own comment on Dio's narrative.

6 The reference is evidently to Book LV.23, but it should be observed that the names, though very possibly having the same sense, are not identical; the legion is here called κεραυνοβόλος (Fulminatrix), but in the former passage κεραυνοφόρος (Fulminifera, Fulminata).

7 Mater Castrorum; cf. Hist. Aug., Marc. 26.8, Corp. Inscr. Lat. XIV.40.

8 Euripides, Suppl. 119.

9 Cf. Petr. Patric.: "Marcus fell so gravely ill that he entertained slight hopes of recovery, and he frequently used to utter during his illness this verse of tragedy: 'Such things accursed war brings in its train.' "

10 Literally, "about 38 stades." The excerptor here evidently follows Dio in reckoning 7½ stades to the mile; but compare the same excerptor in LXXII (LXXIII).3, where apparently the same distance is called 40 stades (8 stades often being counted to the mile).

11 C. Avidius Heliodorus (cf. LXIX.3).

12 Cf. Joann. Ant.: "Cassius, the governor of Syria, a skilful general who had performed many notable achievements in the course of the Parthian war, was naturally inclined toward rebellion and was now encouraged to revolt, being led to this thought by Faustina, the wife of Marcus. For when Marcus fell ill, she, believing that he would die, especially as he was always sickly, became afraid," etc.

13 Joan. Ant. says: "secretly sending some of those who were loyal to her."

14 Cf. Joan. Antioch.: "And he set out for Syria from Paeonia [Pannonia?], but he had no need of arms against the rebels, for Cassius had already perished at the hands of one of his followers."

15 Cf. Joan. Antioch.: "And coming peacefully to Syria and Egypt, he neither investigated nor punished any who appeared to have favoured Cassius, whether nation or city, private citizen or official."

16 Identified by Klebs with C. Calvisius Statianus.

17 Reimar suggested that perhaps Pudens was secretary of the Greek correspondence of Cassius, as Manilius (cf. LXXII [LXXIII].7.4) was of his Latin correspondence.

18 Cf. Joan. Antioch.: "But also on behalf of those arrested in Rome (for even there many of the senators had been convicted of openly favouring the cause of Cassius) he sent a message to the senate asking them not to pass any harsh decree, his exact words being as follows (for I shall give his very words, which clearly show the excellence of the man): "I implore you, the senate, to keep my reign unstained by the blood of any senator. May it never happen," etc.

Petr. Patric.: "When the senate was insisting on the death of those who had co‑operated with Cassius, together with their relatives, he wrote back to them among other things: 'I beseech and implore you to keep my reign unstained,' " etc.

19 Cf. Joann. Antioch.: "And nothing roused Marcus or induced him to depart from his customary principles of action — neither the injustice and wickedness of their rash course nor the faithlessness of those who had ventured upon it nor yet the fear of similar uprisings in the future."

20 The gold piece (aureus) was worth 100 sesterces.

21 Literally, forty-six and sixteen years, reckoning inclusively; cf. LXIX.8.12. There was an interval of sixty years (4 × 15) between Hadrian's order (A.D. 118) and that of Marcus (A.D. 178). See Mommsen Röm. Staatsrecht II2.1015, n4.

22 The reference may possibly be to a passage preserved by Zonaras (12, 1), and printed as a fragment at the end of this book (pp70‑71).

23 Days on which no public business could be transacted; some were festal days and some unlucky days.

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

24 Wissowa identifies this goddess with Indulgentia.

25 An error for Chalcedon.

Thayer's Note:

a See Platner & Ashby, s.v. Columna Bellica.

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