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Biography. the public peace, there was devolved upon the Em- substantiate their allegations, should be put to death; Marcus
perur the odious duty of receiving in person charges and that those who did produce sufficient evidence, Opilius From against the loyalty of his subjects, of investigating the should receive, indeed, the pecuniary reward usually
Macrinus. grounds upon which they rested, and even of ordering allowed in such cases, but that, in return, they should
From punishment, without allowing the accused an opportu- be branded with perpetual infamy. The effects of this
nity of confronting the witnesses, or of making a defence. rule were very soon apparent in the mutual confidence 218.
217 In such a state of things no life was safe, and more and safety of all ranks of the People. Peace and especially under a weak or jealous Monarch. His tranquillity, says Herodian, reigned throughout the
218. fears and interests were arrayed against the most Empire ; and the Citizens, who in the time of Carapowerful persons in the Country; and no rumour was calla saw a naked sword continually suspended over likely to be disregarded which respected, however in- their heads, enjoyed under his successor the inestimable directly, the character or the safety of the Head of the blessing of personal security. It is, therefore, to be Government. Besides, as was to be expected, those presumed, that if this Emperor had been endowed with who watched for the preservation of the Emperor did an ordinary degree of courage and Military talent, his not perform an unrequited labour. The trade of In- Administration would have proved exceedingly popuformer became a lucrative calling; and many indi. lar; but his marked deficiency in nearly all the quaviduals, who had no other means of living, supported lities which make a Soldier, brought him into contempt an enviable establishment upon the wages of falsehood with those who placed him on the Throne, while his and blood.
attempt to restrict their privileges and diminish their General To check this dangerous practice, Macrinus enacted, pay, turned decidedly against him the only power which bappiness that such Informers as could not by reasonable proof could have perpetuated his reign.* of the Empire in his
MARCUS AURELIUS ANTONINUS HELIOGABALUS.
FROM A. D. 218 to 222.
Bacgraphy, The combined Army having vowed their allegiance utterance to the strong feelings of malignity which Marcus
to the new Antoninus, solicited, as their reward, a full inflamed his heart against the memory of Macrinus, Aurelius From
Antoninus permission to plunder Antioch, the Capital of the Syrian whom he loaded with every species of abuse and in
HeliogabaProvinces. Unwilling that the beginning of his reign vective. He put to death, at the same time, every lus. 218.
should be disgraced by an act of violence and perfidy person of rank or influence in Syria who was supposed
merely because they had been faithful in the discharge
which he had bound himself to protect, or his conbizations
The passions assumed at an early period the com- tempt for the illustrious persons by whom it was usually di ba fierce plete mastery of this Prince's mind. In the first Letter administered.
which he wrote to the Senate from Antioch, he gave tenpes.
The first months of his reign were disturbed by
Biography. rumours of intrigue and conspiracy. The example precluded. He gave orders that a Picture of himself at Marcus
afforded by his own elevation gave ground for hope to full length should be executed, in the sacerdotal robe Aurelius From
many individuals who would not otherwise have and ornaments, and associated with a representation of Antoninus aspired to supreme power. It could be no longer con- the God to whom his services were consecrated.
cealed, that the gift of the Crown was in the hand of was accordingly drawn in robes of silk and gold, after
despair of obtaining that splendid but fatal prize, who cians : his head was covered with a lofty tiara, and his Conspiracies against had sufficient resolution to ask, and presumption enough numerous collars and bracelets were adorned with gems 213. the new
to promise. Dion Cassius mentions no fewer than five of an inestimable value. His eyebrows were tinged Emperor, attempts of this nature, made by men of no importance with black, and his cheeks painted with an artificial 222. and his
in the State or influence in the Army. Suspicions, at the red and white. This Picture he sent to Rome, with cruelty in suppressing
same time, were not unnaturally directed towards others orders to hang it up in the most conspicuous part of the them.
who might have disputed the government of a boy, had Senate-house, over the Statue of Victory, that the
gratitude the wealth and time which ought to have Murder of But the determination of the Prince to admit no rival been devoted to the prosperity of his People. He deGannys. and to endure no control, was soon rendered manifest termined to establish the worship of his favourite idol
by a very atrocious murder. Gannys, who was the upon the ruins of every other Religion ; and for this
performed their lascivious dances to the sound of their Effeminacy The young Priest of the Sun, ignorant or regardless native music, and the noblest persons in the State, of the of the manners of the Country which he had under- clothed in long Eastern robes, officiated in the meanest Prince.
taken to govern, continued to wear the splendid but duties with outward gravity and inward resentment.
Sun and addressed to him, but instead of complying with the joy. The Prince first thought of selecting Pallas, the Moon, advice which was founded upon them, he proposed an patroness of wisdom and of war, as a proper wife for expedient whereby all the disadvantages which his his Divinity; but upon reflection, he rejected this idea, grandmother anticipated would, he thought, be entirely on the ground that a female so stern and active would
* Dion Cassius, apud Vales. p. 761. Lamprid. in Heliogab.c. 3,4 Herodian. lib. v. p. 560—568.
† rierodian. lib. v. p. 567. Dion Cassius, p. 368, 369.
* Dion Cassius, Epitom. Xiphilin. lib. lxxix, Herodian. lib. v.p.578. + Dion Cassius, lib. lxxix. Herodian. lib. v. Lamprid. in Heliogab. c. 3.
Biography, pot prove agreeable to the soft manners of his volup- Syrian voluptuary. To soothe the public indignation, Marcus
tuous master. He therefore fixed upon the Moon, therefore, Julia Mæsa, whose powerful mind still re- Aurelius From adored by the Phænicians under the name of Astarte, tained a considerable influence over the passions of her
Heliogabaand adopted by the People of Carthage as the Goddess dissolute grandson, suggested to him the expediency of
of their ancestors. Her Statue was accordingly brought adopting his cousin Alexianus, and of investing him
Imperial power. His shame- The luxury and extravagance of Heliogabalus have The Emperor, whose habits of thinking never led And raises ful extrava. been a theme for declamation from the days of Lam- him to anticipate remote consequences
, acceded without him to the grace and pridius down to the present times. The expense of his reserve to the proposal of his grandmother. Full of a Cæsar. lurury:
'table, and the caprice which he manifested in the choice scheme which promised to gratify his favourite inclinaof his food, have exposed his memory to just contempt. tions, he repaired to the Senate, accompanied by Mæsa A wasteful profusion supplied the place of taste and and Soæmis, and declared that he had adopted Alexelegance. The invention of a sauce, or the composition ianus, and bestowed upon him the dignity of Cæsar. of a new dish, conferred upon the fortunate artist a The apparent absurdity of a youth, who had scarcely degree of fame which was denied to the highest attained to seventeen years of age, adopting for his son eminence in the Sciences, and to the most brilliant a Prince not more than four years younger, gave way triumphs of Literature. It is said, that he never ate to considerations of greater importance; and the Senafish but at a great distance from the sea ; and then he tors were not disposed to interrupt Heliogabalus when took pleasure in distributing to the peasants of the in- they heard him congratulating the Empire upon the land country vast quantities of the rarest sorts; con- measure which he had just published in their hearing. veyed to him at an immense expense. We are assured, He pronounced himself happy in having been able to that not satisfied with having on his own table the most find such a son ; adding, that he had no desire to see costly viands that imagination could suggest, he fed his his family increased by the issue of his own body, bedogs on the livers of geese, and his lions with peacocks cause, from his experience of domestic life, he could and pheasants. Nor was his dress less extravagant only anticipate therefrom much dissension and rivalry. than his board. He wore garments formed of cloth of He assured his auditors, that the God in whose service gold, enriched with precious stones, so heavy that he he spent his days had inspired him with the patriotic himself could not refrain from remarking, that he almost resolution upon which he now acted; and that it was sank under the weight of his magnificence. Even the pleasure of the same Divinity that the young Cæsar his shoes were adorned with jewels of the most exqui- should thenceforth be called Alexander, in compliment site workmanship. The pavement of the porticues to the admiration of Caracalla for the Macedonian through which he passed, when about to mount his Conqueror. By the act of adoption, accordingly, he horse or step into his carriage, was strewed with the communicated to the son of Mamæa not only the name dust of gold or silver. His attendants imitated his just mentioned, but also that of Marcus Aurelius and luxury and applauded his spirit; and while he squan- Severus.* dered away the treasures of his People, they extolled The opening virtues of Alexander, fostered and pro- Repents, him as more beneficent than Augustus, and more tected by the excellent discipline of his mother, soon and wishes patriotic than Trajan.*
made a deep impression on the love and respect of all to degrade
him: Ha rices
His vices, we are inclined to believe, for the honour orders of the People. Heliogabalus, who soon repented porbably
of human nature, have been somewhat exaggerated. of the step which he had been induced to take, first nied Even Lampridius, who detested his character, seems tried to pervert his cousin, and failing in this, he next ready to admit
, that more has been said against him attempted to put an end to his life. He drove away than ought to be implicitly adopted; although that from the Palace all the masters who had been appointed Historian himself has, with a disgusting minuteness, to superintend his education; banishing some of them, related every anecdote of indecency and madness and putting others to death. But the just indignation which had reached his ears. Yet even if we confine of the Public would not allow him to proceed farther; our estimate of Heliogabalus to the public scenes for when he sent orders to the Senate and to the Præwhich were displayed before the Roman People, and torian Guards to divest Alexander of the title and digwhich have been attested by Writers who had the nity which he had lately conferred upon him, the former best opportunity of ascertaining their truth, we must Body hesitated, and the latter rose in open rebellion. pronounce, that their infamy surpasses that of any other Apprehensive for the safety of the Cæsar, a party of Age or country.
the soldiers seized their arms, and rushed towards the The patience of the Army, as well as that of the Imperial gardens, where it was understood that HelioAruander Citizens, was at length exhausted. However small gabalus was pursuing his pastimes, and waiting for the might be their reverence for virtue in the concerns of result of his machinations against his successor.
The private life, the Soldiers were ashamed to see the Throne interposition of Antiochianus, one of the Prætorian of Marcus Aurelius polluted by the studied vice of a
* Lamprid. in Heliogab. c. 13. Herodian. lib. v. Dion Cassius, Lamprid. in Heliogab. c. 19-24.
But is pre
Biography. Præfects, saved on this occasion the life of the Em- by his actual presence in their Camp. The Emperor Marcus
peror. The enraged veterans retired to their camp, was again forced to yield, Mounting a splendid car, Aurelius From but not before they had received a promise that he adorned with jewels and precious stones
, he presented Antoninus would follow them thither, and give satisfaction to the himself before his mutinous Guards, accompanied by
Army, as to his designs, and particularly with respect his popular cousin ; but finding that while he himself
to the individuals who shared his counsels, and encou- was received with the utmost coldness and even con- From 222. raged his folly.*
tempt, the sight of his colleague drew forth acclamaThe son of Caracalla appeared among the Prætorians tions which rent the air, he lost command of his temper 218. vented by
like a criminal before his judges. He acceded to all so far as to order the punishment of the more zealous the Prætorians.
222. their demands; and when they insisted that he should among the disaffected Prætorians. This injunction was remove from about his person the companions of his the signal for a general revolt. Heliogabalus fled, and debauchery, the buffoons and charioteers, who disgraced even attempted to conceal himself; but he was soon the Palace and heaped ignominy upon its master, he discovered, put to death by the indignant Soldiers, promised to comply; entreating, however, that they dragged through the streets of the City, and finally would exempt from this proscription his favourite thrown into the mud of the Tiber. His mother, as well Minister Hierocles. The Soldiers, softened by the tears as the ministers of his tyranny and vice, shared the of their Prince, ceased to demand the death of that
Hierocles atoned for his numerous crimes
insulting allusion to the worst parts of his character, or
Soldiers, he caused a report to be circulated that the stated, the desire to obliterate the name and GovernInsurrection son of Mamæa was at the point of death. No sooner ment of Macrinus. The same notion of hereditary of the Præ, did this intelligence reach the Camp, than the Præ- right to the Empire, in virtue of his reputed paternity, torians, and torians, inflamed by the suspicion that the young Prince induced him to claim as his own the Consulate of his Emperor.
must have been murdered, became quite outrageous, predecessor, and consequently to reckon the first which
MARCUS AURELIUS ALEXANDER SEVERUS. .
FROM A. D. 222 to 235.
From A. D. 222.
The accession of Alexander restored for a time the youth, he consented to the appointment of a Regency, Marcus credit of the Roman name, and the confidence of all consisting of sixteen of the gravest and most illustrious Aurelius classes of the People. Guided by the wise counsel of of the Senators, without whose advice no measure of
Severus. his mother, he waited until the Senate conferred upon any importance was adopted. It has been remarked, him the titles of Sovereignty before he presumed to too, of this virtuous Prince, that he resolutely refused From exercise any of its powers; and being still in very early to assume the name of Antoninus ; alleging, that as he
could not hope to equal the renown of so great an Em- 222. * Lamprid. in Heliogab. c. 14.
235. + Ibid. c, 16, 17. Herodian. lib. v. Dion Cassius, lib. Ixxx.
* Lamprid. in Heliogab. c. 14—16.
Biography. peror, he wished to avoid the disadvantage of a direct cruel or unjust is only to be negatively good, and in all
Marcus comparison. But the true reason, it is probable, was ordinary cases, rather exempts a Sovereign from blame
Alexander founded on a determination to disclaim the ambiguous than entitles him to praise. Lampridius, accordingly, Severus.
honour of being the son of Caracalla; a distinction proceeding on this view, collects in his biography of 222.
which Julia Mæsa thought proper to insinuate in his Alexander a thousand minute circumstances which illus- From to
behalf, influenced rather by her own ambitious views, trate his diligence in business, his love of equity, his 235
than by a regard to her daughter's matrimonial reputa- merciful disposition, his self-denial, and the habitual 222. tion.*
command which he exercised over all the strong Purifies the The first cares of the new Government were directed passions. He paints him as a mild, amiable, and com
235. Religious to the purification of such Temples as had been pol- passionate Prince, accessible to good counsel, and rites of the luted by the Foreign worship, introduced into Rome by always more inclined to confer benefits upon others Country.
the Imperial Priest of Emesa. Attention was next than to secure to himself the enjoyment of pleasure, or
into his presence. The death of Mæsa, which took place soon after her Mildness and gentleness were, indeed, so strongly Mildness of doct of
grandson mounted the Throne, left to Mamæa an undi- imprinted in the heart of Alexander, that his Biographer Vanza, and care of
vided influence in public affairs. With the celebrated has bestowed upon him the enviable character of never ber soa's
Ulpian at the head of her Council of State, she con- suffering a single day to pass in which he did not pereducation, ducted the Administration with not less integrity than form some act of kindness or humanity. He is said to
judgment, and gave much satisfaction not only to the have expressed great veneration for the Christian pre-
pretext for stimulating the industry of the individuals Character
The character of Alexander presented so many points whom he had relieved, than for securing a stated reAleman- worthy of praise, that the Writer of his life in the muneration. But his patriotism and good sense shone Herodian
Augustan History exhausts all his powers of description with the greatest lustre in the distribution of public and Larse in the attempt to do it justice. Herodian contents employments. He never looked upon the disposal of
himself with saying, that this Emperor never shed the an office in the Army or in the Civil departments of the
on virtuc doubt, have appeared deserving of the eulogy which us, was so great a lover of Virtue, that he not only
and talent. the Historian has pronounced upon it. But not to be Herodian. lib.
* Lamprid. in Alex. Sever. c. 4–15. Lamprid. in Alex. Sever, c. 1. † Lamprid. in Alex. Sever. c. 3. Dion Cassius, lib. Ixxx.
+ Herodian. lib. vi. Lamprid. in Alex. Sever. c. 17–21. Dion Cassius, lib. Ixxx.