Grolier Club.

The Scriptores historiae augustae with an English translation (Volume 1) online

. (page 1 of 36)
Online LibraryGrolier ClubThe Scriptores historiae augustae with an English translation (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 36)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


I
I

1

i
i
i
i
i
i

i
I
I
I
I
1
I
I


I
i
I
I
i
1
I
i



1



LOEB CLASSICAL LIBRARY



SCRIPTORES
HISTORIAE
AUGUSTAE

I




Translated by
DAVID MAGIE



I
i



i
I
I
i
i

I
I

I
1
I

1
!



L^

1

n

1
i
I



i



1
1



1



[o



m



Complete list of Loeb titles can be
found at the end of each volume



SCRIPTORES HISTORIAE AUGUSTAE
(Historia Augusta) A collection of bio-
graphies (most of them in chronological
order) of Roman emperors and claimants
and heirs presumptive and colleagues
from Hadrian to Numerianus (A.D. 117-
284) compiled by six writers (learned
men, possibly secretaries or librarians
with much knowledge of law) apparently
of the period A.D. 285-335. Their names
may be fictitious, and their work seems to
have been added to by later interpolations.
Their model is Suetonius, their style plain,
their attitude uncritical and courtly but
honest, their method the anecdote without
care for arrangement or much regard
for the importance or the background
of general events. Their considerable
historical value depends on their sources.
The earlier lives rely on two undis-
tinguished authors and possibly a third
much better historian ; the later are based
more on public records, a fact which
enhances their value, in spite of strong
evidence of forgery. The object of the
whole strange collection has been much
discussed in recent times.



s
s

\
\
\



/

/
s
/



923. 137 S

A u g u s t a n h i s t o r



NY PUBLIC


LIBRARY




THE


BRANCH L


IBRARIES

1



-. 1 , 1



The Newlibrk
Public Library

Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations



3 3333 13099 9572



MM





- v ::':






Kf 3 a







a.





IIE.il







MM




The Branch Libraries
MID-MANHATTAN LIBRARY



455 Fifth Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10016

Books and non-print media may be
returned to any branch of The New York
Public Library. Music scores, orchestral
sets and certain materials must be
returned to branch from which borrowed.

All materials must be returned by the last
date stamped on the card. Fines are
charged for overdue items. Form #0692



THE LOEB CLASSICAL LIBRARY

FOUNDED BY JAMES LOEB
EDITED BY

G. P. GOOLD

PREVIOUS EDITORS
T. E. PAGE E. CAPPS

W. H. D. ROUSE L. A. POST

E. H. WARMINGTON



THE SCRIPTORES HISTORIAE
AUGUSTAE



LCL 139



THE SCRIPTORES
HISTORIAE
AUGUSTAE

WITH AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION BY

DAVID MAGIE



VOLUME I




HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS
LONDON, ENGLAND



First published 1921
Reprinted 1930, 1953, 1960, 1967, 1979, 1991



ISBN 0-674-99154-0



Printed in Great Britain by St Edmundsbury Press Ltd,

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, on acid-free paper.
Bound by Hunter 6- Foulis Ltd, Edinburgh, Scotland.






CONTENTS

PREFACE vii

INTRODUCTION xi

EDITORIAL NOTE (1991) xxxviii

HADRIAN 3

AELIUS 83

ANTONINUS PIUS 101

MARCUS AURELIUS ANTONINUS 133

LUCIUS VERUS 207

AVIDIUS CASSIUS 233

COMMODUS 265

PERTINAX 315

DIDIUS JULIANUS 349

SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS 371

PESCENNIUS NIGER 431

CLODIUS ALBINUS 461



PREFACE

IN the preparation of this book others have laboured
and I have entered into the fruits of their labours.
Their co-operation has been of inestimable service.

The translation of the biographies from Antoninus
Pius to Pescennius Niger and from the Maximini to
Maximus and Balbinus inclusive has been furnished
by my friend Mr. Ainsworth O'Brien- Moore. In the
translation of the other lives also his fine taste and
literary discrimination have been responsible for many
a happy phrase. But for the promise of his collabora-
tion the task of preparing this edition had not been
undertaken.

The Latin text of the first six biographies has been
supplied by Miss Susan H. Ballou of Bryn Mawr
College, who had in mind the preparation of a new
text of these biographies, based on her study of the
manuscripts. Unfortunately, however, other interests
have claimed her time and her efforts and she has
been unable to complete the work for this edition.
It is to be earnestly hoped that she will yet publish
a critical text of the entire series.

In the lack of Miss Ballou's text I nave been
forced to base this edition, from the Commodus



Vll



PREFACE

onward, on the text of Hermann Peter, for the long-
promised edition by Dr. Ernst Hohl has not yet
appeared. Its aid would have been invaluable.
While only too well aware of the inadequacies of
Peter's text, I have not felt able to introduce many
changes. The suggestions offered bv various scholars

O - v *

since the appearance of Peter's second edition have
been carefully considered, and a few have been
adopted. The text, therefore, is that of the Codex
Palatinus (P), with the introduction of a few emen-
dations and whatever changes in punctuation and
spelling might seem in accordance with modern
usage. All the more important variations from P,
as well as the most significant of the variant readings

O

afforded by the later correctors of the manuscript,
and, in ad'ditiou, the divergencies from the text of
Peter have been entered in the critical notes.

In the Introduction I have sought to give a brief
account of the Historia Augusta, the authors, their
method and style, and a summary of the study ex-
pended on it from the close of the classical period to
the present and its use by later historians. A dis-
cussion of its authorship an.l sources and of the
theories which have found in it a work of the late
fourth or early fifth century has, for reasons of space,
been reserved for the second volume.

The somewhat voluminous commentary has seemed
necessary on account of the obscurity of the narrative
and the abundance of technical terms. In the pre-
paration of it I have tried to keep in mind not only
the needs of the general reader but also those of the
student of Roman History, and it is for the benefit
of the latter that some of the more technical material
has been included.



vin



PREFACE

A list of the books and articles to which I am in-
debted would fill many pages. The greatest amount
of aid has been furnished by Lessing's Lexicon,
Mommsen's Romisches Staatsrecht, the Prosopographia
Imperil Romani, and the admirable articles on the
various Emperors that have appeared in the Real-
Encyclopadie of Pauly-Wissowa-Kroll. In the com-
mentary to the biography of Hadrian valuable
assistance has been rendered by Wilhelm Weber's
Untersuchwigen zur Geschickte des Kaisers Hadrian.
A complete bibliography will be included in the
second volume.

Of the work as a whole, perhaps it can be said :
"Sunt bona, sunt quaedam mediocria, sunt mala plura,
quae legis hie ".

DAVID MAGIE.



PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY,
15th June, 1921.



IX



INTRODUCTION



THE SCOPE AND LITERARY CHARACTER

OF THE

HISTORIA AUGUSTA

AMONG the remnants of Roman literature preserved
by the whims of fortune is a collection of biographies
of the emperors from Hadrian to Carinus the Vitae
Diversorum Principum et Tyrannorum a Divo Hadriano
usque ad Numerianum Diversis compositae, as it is en-
titled in the principal manuscript, the Codex Palatinus
of the Vatican Library. It is popularly known, ap-
parently for convenience' sake, as the Hutoria Augusta,
a name applied to it by Casaubon, whereas the original
title was probably de Vita Caesarum or Vitae Caesarum. 1
The collection, as extant, comprises thirty biographies,
most of which contain the life of a single emperor,
while some include a group of two or more, classed
together merely because these emperors were either
akin or contemporary. Not only the emperors who
actually reigned, the " Augusti," but also the heirs



Mommsen, Hermes, ziii. (1878), p. 301 = Gesammelte
Schriften, vii. p. 301.

xi



INTRODUCTION

presumptive, the " Caesares/' and the various claim-
ants to the empire, the <x Tyranni," are included in the
series.

According to the tradition of the manuscripts the
biographies are the work of six different authors ;
some of them are addressed to the Emperor
Diocletian, others to Constantine, and others to im-
portant personages in Rome. The biographies of
the emperors from Hadrian to Gordian are attributed
to four various authors, apparently on no principle
whatsoever, for not only are the lives of successive,
or even contemporary, princes ascribed to different
authors and those of emperors widely separated in
time to the same writer, but in the case of two of
the authors some lives are dedicated to Diocletian
and some to Constantine.

In the traditional arrangement the biographies are
assigned to the various authors as follows :

I. Aelius Spartianus : the vitae of Hadrian, Aelius,
Didius Julianus, Severus, Pescennius Niger, Caracalla,
and Geta. Of these, the Aelius, Julianus, Severus,
and Niger are addressed to Diocletian, the Geta to
Constantine. The preface of the Aelius 1 contains
mention of the Caesars Galerius Maximianus and
Constantius Chlorus, and from this it may be inferred
that the vitae of the Diocletian group were written
between 293, the year of the nomination of these
Caesars, and 305, the year of Diocletian's retirement.
In the same preface 2 Spartianus announces that it is
his purpose to write the biographies, not only of the
emperors who preceded Hadrian, but also of all the
princes who followed, including the Caesars and the
pretenders.

l Ael.,u. 2.
xii



INTRODUCTION

II. Julius Capitolinus : the mlae of Pius, Marcus
Aurelius, Verus, Pertinax, Clodius Albinus, Macrinus,
the Maximini, the Gordiani, and Maximus and
Balbinus. Of these, the Marcus, Verus, and Macrinus
are addressed to Diocletian, while the Albinus, the
Maximiui, and the Gordiani are addressed to
Constantine, evidently after the fall of Licinius in
324. 1 Like Spartianus, Capitolinus announces his
purpose of composing an extended series of imperial
biographies. 2

III. Vulcacius Gallicanus : the vita of Avidius
Cassius, addressed to Diocletian. He too announces
an ambitious programme 3 the composition of bio-
graphies of all who have worn the imperial purple,
both regnant emperors and pretenders to the throne.

IV. Aelius Lampridius : the vilae of Commodus,
Diadumenianus, Elagabalus, and Severus Alexander.
Of these, the last two are addressed to Constantine ;
according to the author, they were composed at the
Emperor's own request, 4 and they were written after
the defeat of Licinius at Adrianople in 323. 5 Lam-
pridius claims to have written the biographies of at
least some of the predecessors of Elagabalus and to
cherish the plan of composing biographies of the
emperors who reigned subsequently, beginning with
Alexander and including in his work not only Dio-
cletian but Licinius and Maxentius, the rivals of
Constantine. 6

1 Gord., xxxiv. 5 ; see H. Peter, Die Scriptores Historiae
Augustae (Leipzig, 1892), p. 35.

2 Max., i. 1-3 ; Gord., i. 1-5.

3 Av. Cass., iii. 3.
*Heliog., xxxv. 1.

6 Heliog., vii. 7 ; see Peter, Scri2)tores, p. 32.
., xxxv. ; Alex., Ixiv. 1.



Xlll



INTRODUCTION

V. Trebellius Pollio : the vitae from Philip to
Claudius ; of his work, however, the earlier part,
containing the biographies from Philip to Valerian,
has been lost from the collection/ and we have only
the vitae of the Valerian! (in part), the Gallieni. the
Tyranni Triginta, and Claudius. Pollio's biographies
were dedicated, not to the emperor, but to a friend,
apparently an official of high degree. His name has
been lost, together with the preface which must have
preceded the vita of Philip. The only clue to his
id-entity is a passage in which he is addressed as a
kinsman of an Herennius Celsus, a candidate for the
consulship. 2 The extant biographies were written
after Constantius' nomination as Caesar in 293, 3 and,
in the case of the Tyranni Triginta, after the com-
mencement of the Baths of Diocletian in 298. 4 The
collection was finished, according to his successor and
continuer Vopiscus, in 303. 5

VI. Flavius Vopiscus : the vitae of Aurelian, Tacitus,
Probus, Firmus and his three fellow-tyrants, and
Carus and his sons. These biographies, like those of
Pollio, are not dedicated to any emperor, but to
various friends of the author. Vopiscus wrote, he
declares in his elaborate preface, 6 at the express
request of his friend Junius Tiberianus, the city-
prefect. Tiberianus was city-prefect for the second
time in 303-4, 7 and, even granting that his con-
versation with the author as well as his promise of

1 These biographies were included in the collection by Pollio ;
see Aur., ii. 1.

*Tyr. Trig., xxii. 12.

3 Gall., vii. 1 and elsewhere.

4 Tyr. Trig., xxi. 7 ; see Peter, ticriptores, p. 36 f.

6 Aur., ii. 1. *Aur., i.-ii.

7 B. Borghesi, Oeuvres Comytttex (Paris, 1862-97), ix. p. 392.

xiv



INTRODUCTION

the documents from Trajan's library are merely
rhetorical ornaments/ this date is usually regarded
as marking the beginning of Vopiscus' work. It is
confirmed by an allusion to Constantius as imperator 2
(305-306) and to Diocletian as iam privatus (after
305). 3 This collection was completed, according to
internal evidence, before the death of Diocletian in
316, 4 perhaps even before that of Galerius in 31 1. 5
The series written by Vopiscus has been preserved in
its entirety, for it was his intention to conclude his
work with the lives of Carus and his sons, leaving to
others the task of writing the biographies of Dio-
cletian and his associates. 6

The plan to include in the collection not only
"August!," but also "Caesares" and " Tyranni," has
resulted in a double series of biographies in that
section of the Historia Augusta which includes the
emperors between Hadrian and Alexander. To the
life of a regnant emperor is attached that of an heir-
presumptive, a colleague, or a rival. In each case
the minor vita stands in a close relationship to the
major, and, in many instances, passages seem to have
been transcribed bodily from the biography of the
" Augustus " to that of the " Caesar " or " Tyrannus ".

In the composition of these biographies the model
used by the authors, -according to the testimony of
two of them, 7 was Suetonius. The Lives of Suetonius
are not biographies in the modern sense of the word,
but merely collections of material arranged according

1 Peter, Scnptores, p. 39.

*Aur., xliv. 5. 3 Aui., xliii. 2.

4 Car., xviii. 5; see Peter, Scriptores, p. 45 f.

5 Car., ix. 3.

6 Prob., i. 5; Bonos., xv. 10.

1 Max. Balb., iv. 5; Prob., ii. 7; Firm., i. 2.

xv



INTRODUCTION

to certain definite categories, 1 and this method of
composition is, in fact, employed also by the authors
of the Historia Augusta. An analysis of the Pius, the
most simply constructed of the series, shows the
general sciieme most clearly. 2 This vita falls natur-
ally into the following divisions: ancestry (i. 1-7);
life previous to his accession to the throne (i. 8 v. 2) ;
policy and events of his reign (v. 3 vii. 4) ; personal
traits (vii. 5 xii. 3) ; death (xii. 4-9) ; personal
appearance (xiii. 1-2); honours after death (xiii.
3-4).

A fundamental scheme similar to this, in which
the several sections are more or less clearly marked,
serves as the basis for all the biographies. The series
of categories is compressed or extended according
to the importance of the events to be narrated or the
material that was available, and at times the prin-
ciple of composition is obscured by the elaboration of
a particular topic to an altogether disproportionate
length. Thus the mention of the peculiar cults to
which Commodus was addicted (the category religioner)
leads to a long and detailed list of acts of cruelty, 3
while nearly one half of the life of Elagabalus is de-
voted to an enumeration of instances of his luxury
and extravagance, 4 and in the biography of Severus
Alexander the fundamental scheme is almost unre-
cognizable as a result of the confused combination
of various narratives. 6

1 Proposita vitae eius velut summa paries singillatim neque
per tempora sed per species exsequar ; Suetonius, Aug., ix.

- Peter, Scriptores, p. 106 f. ; F. Leo, Die Griechisch-
Romische Biographie (Leipzig, 1901), p. 273 f.

3 Com., ix. 6 xi. 7.

*Heliog., xviii. 4 xxxiii. 1.

5 Leo, p. 280 f .

xvi



INTRODUCTION

It was also characteristic of Suetonius that he
amplified his biographies by means of gossip, anec-
dotes, and documents, but nowhere in his Lives are
these used as freely as in certain of the vitae of the
Hisloria Augusta. The authors take a peculiar de-
light in the introduction of material dealing with the
personality of their subjects. Not content with
including special divisions on personal characteristics,
in which are enumerated the individual qualities of
an emperor, 1 they devote long sections to elaborate
details of their private lives, particularly before their
elevation to the throne. For this more intimate
detail there was much less material available than
for the narration of public events. The careers of
short-lived emperors and pretenders afforded little
of public interest, and consequently their biographies
were padded with trivial anecdotes. In fact, a com-
parison between a major vita and its corresponding
minor biography shows that the latter contains
little historical material that is not in the former.
The rest is made up of amplifications, anecdotes,
speeches, letters and verses, and at best these minor
vitae represent little more than a working over of the
material contained in the major biographies with the
aid of rhetorical expedients and literary embellish-
ments.

The model for the emphasizing of the private life
of an emperor seems to have been not so much
Suetonius as Marius Maximus, the author of a series
of imperial biographies from Nerva to Elagabalus or
Severus Alexander. Not content with the narration

1 e.g. in the Pius, liberalitas et dementia (viii. 5 ix. 5) ;
auctoritas (ix. 6-10) ; pietas (x. 1-5) ; liberalitas (x. 6-9) ;
civilitas (xi.) ; see Peter, Scriptores, p. 157.

xvii



INTRODUCTION

of facts in the manner of Suetonius, Maximus sought
to add interest to his biographies by the introduction
of persona] material. His lives are cited by the
authors of the earlier vitae of the Historia Augusta
as their sources for gossip, scandal, and personal
minutiae, 1 and he is probably justly referred to as
homo omnium verbosissimus qui et myihistoricis se vol-
uminibus implicavit. 2 In gossip and search after
detail, however, Maximus seems to have been out-
done by Aelius Junius Cord us, cited in the vitae of
Albinus, Maximinus, the Gordiani, and Maximus and
Balbinus. He made it a principle to describe the
emperor's appearances in public, and his food and
clothing, 3 and the citations from him include the
enumeration of the amounts of fruit, birds and oysters
consumed by Albinus. 4 Readers who desire further
information 011 trivial or indecent details are scorn-
fully referred to his biographies. 5

The manner of Marius Maximus and Cordus is
most clearly reproduced in the lives attributed to
Vopiscus. The more pretentious biographies of
Aurelian and Probus especially 6 contain a wealth of
personal detail which quite obscures the scant his-
torical material. After an elaborate preface of a
highly rhetorical nature, there follows a description
of the character of the emperor in which the
emphasis is laid on his noble deeds and his virtues.
These are illustrated by anecdotes and attested by
"documents," much to the detriment of the narration

1 Hadr., ii. 10; xxv. 3; AeL, v. 4; Avid. Cass., ix. 9;
Heliog., xi. 6.

2 Firm., i. 2. 3 Macr., i. 4.

4 Cl. Alb., xi. 2-3.

5 Cl. Alb., v. 10 ; Max., xxix. 10 ; Gord., xxi. 3.
R Leo, p. 291 f.

xviii



INTRODUCTION

of facts. No rhetorical device is neglected and the
whole gives the impression of an eulogy rather than a
biography.

The method employed by Marius Maximus and
Cordus was, however, productive of a still more
detrimental element in the Historia Angus! a the
alleged documents which are inserted in many of
the vitae. Suetonius, as secretary to Hadrian, had
had access to the imperial archives and thus obtained
various letters and other documents which he inserted
in his biographies for the illustration or confirmation
of some statement. His practice was continued by
his successors in the field of biographical literature.
Thus Marius Maximus inserted documents, both
speeches and letters, in the body of his text and even
added them in appendices. 1 Some of these may
have been authentic ; but since the references to
them in the Historia Augusta indicate that they were
very numerous, and since there is no reason to sup-
pose that Maximus had access to the official archives,
considerable doubt must arise as to their genuineness.
Cordus, too, inserted in his biographies letters alleged
to have been written by emperors 2 and speeches and
acclamations uttered in the senate-house,* but, to
judge from the specimens preserved in the Historia
Augusta, these "documents" deserve even less cred-
ence than those of Maximus.

The precedent thus established was followed by
some of the authors of the Historia Augusta. The
collection contains in all about 150 alleged docu-
ments, including 68 letters, 60 speeches and proposals

1 Marc., xxv. 8 ; Com., xviii. 1 ; Pert., ii. t> ; xv. 8 ; see Peter,
Scriptores, p. 108 f.

Cl. Alb., vii. 2-6; Max., xii. 5. 3 Gord., xi.

xix



INTRODUCTION

to the people or the senate, and 20 senatorial decrees
and acclamations. 1 The distribution of these, how-
ever, is by no means uniform. Of the major vitae
from Hadrian to Elagabalus inclusive, only the Corn-
modus and the Macrinus are provided with "docu-
ments," and these have but two apiece. 2 On the
other hand, the group of vitae of the Maximini, the
Gordiani, and Maximus and Balbinus contains in all
26 such pieces, and Pollio's Valeriam, Tyranni Triginta
and Claudius 3 have together 27. It is, however,
Vopiscus who heads the list, for his five biographies
contain no less than 59 so-called documents of various
kinds.

In a discussion of the genuineness of these docu-
ments a distinction must be drawn between the
speeches, on the one hand, and the letters and sena-
torial decrees and acclamations on the other. Since
the time of Thucydides it had been customary for an
historian to insert speeches in his history, and it was
an established convention that they might be more
or less fictitious. Accordingly, none would question
the right of the biographer to attribute to the subject
of his biography any speech that he might wish to
insert in his narrative. With the letters and decrees,
however, the case is different. Like those cited by
Suetonius, these claim to be actual documents and it
is from this claim that the question of their authen-
ticity must proceed. In spite of occasional expressions
of scepticism, the genuineness of these documents was
not seriously questioned until 1870, when C. Czwalina
published an examination of the letters contained in

1 C. L6crivain, Etudes sur VHistoire Auguste (Paris, 1904),
p. 45 f.

2 Com., xviii.-xix. ; xx. ; Macr., ii. 4-5; vi. 2-9,
8 There are none in the Oallienus.



INTRODUCTION

the vita of Avidius Cassius. 1 He showed that various
letters, professedly written by different persons, show
the same style and tricks of expression, that they
were all written with the purpose of praising the
clemency and generosity of Marcus, and that they
contain several historical errors. He thus reached
the conclusion that they were forgeries, but not com-
posed by the author of the vita since his comments
on them are inconsistent with their content. 2

A similar examination of the letters and documents
in the other biographies, particularly in those at-
tributed to Pollio and Vopiscus, reveals the hand of
the forger even more plainly. 3 They abound not
only in errors of fact that would be impossible in
genuine documents, but also in the rhetorical bombast
and the stylistic pecularities that are characteristic of
the authors of these series. The documents cited by
Pollio, moreover, show the same aim and purpose as
his text the glorification of Claudius Gothicus as
the reputed ancestor of Constantius Chlorus and the
vilification of his predecessor Gallienus, while the
documents of Vopiscus show the same tendency to
sentimentalize over the past glories of Rome and
over the greatness of the senate that is characteristic
of his own work, and, like those cited by Pollio, they
too have a purpose the praise of Vopiscus' hero
Probus.

An entirely different type of spurious material is
represented by the frequent interpolations in the



Online LibraryGrolier ClubThe Scriptores historiae augustae with an English translation (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 36)