Cassius Dio Cocceianus.

Dio's Rome; an historical narrative originally composed in Greek during the reigns of Septimus Severus, Geta and Caracalla, Macrinus, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus: and now presented in English form online

. (page 17 of 24)
Online LibraryCassius Dio CocceianusDio's Rome; an historical narrative originally composed in Greek during the reigns of Septimus Severus, Geta and Caracalla, Macrinus, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus: and now presented in English form → online text (page 17 of 24)
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tributed to them two hundred denarii apiece, more than
they had ever received before. — In addition to doing
this, he forgave all persons all their debts to the im-
perial and to the public treasury for a space of f orty-



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six years, outside of the sixteen granted by Hadrian. ^ ^- ^^^
And all the documents relating to these debts he or-
dered burned in the Forum.— He gave money to many
cities, one of them being Smyrna, that had suffered ^^ ^; IH^
terribly by an earthquake ; he also assigned the duty of
building up this place to an ex-prsetor of senatorial
rank. Therefore I am surprised at the censures even
now passed upon him to the effect that he was not a
man of large calibre. For, whereas in ordinary mat-
ters he was really quite frugal, he never demurred at a
single necessary expenditure (though, as I have said,*
he hurt no one by levies), and he necessarily laid out
very large sums beyond the ordinary requirements.

The Scythian imbroglio, which needed his attention, —38 —
caused him to give his son a wife, Crispina, sooner than
he actually wished. The Quintilii could not end the
war, although there were two of them and they pos-
sessed prudence, courage, and considerable experience.
Consequently the rulers themselves were forced to take
the field. Marcus also asked the senate for money
from the public treasury, not because it had not been (^ J* ggf ^

1 The reference here made by Dio ma^ very possibly be to a passage
reproduced by Zonaras (XII, 1), regarding the authenticity of which
Boissevain is nevertheless somewhat doubtful. For the sake of com-
pleteness a translation is here given ( oufiiju i^tdffaro ) •

** Yet he was not thereby induced to secure money from the subject
nati<ms. On one occasion, indeed, with wars impending, he had com6
short for funds and still did not devise any new tax nor endure to
ask money from any one. Instead, he exposed in the Forum all the
heirlooms of the palace, even down to this or that piece of finery
belonging to his wife, and solicited their purchase by any person so
disposed. This brought him a store of coin, which he distributed to
the soldiers. By success in the war he gained many times the amount
in question, and he issued a proclamation to the effect than any one
so disposed among the purchasers of the imperial property might return
the article purchased and receive its value. Some did so, « but the
majority declined. And nobody was compelled to restore any object
thus acquired."



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A. D. 178 placed in the sovereign's authority, but because Mar-
cus was wont to declare that this and everything else
belonged to the senate and the people. *' We,'' said
he (speaking to the senate), ** are so far from having
anything of our own that we even live in a house of
yours." He set out, therefore, after these remarks,
and after hurling the bloody spear, that lay in the
temple of Bellona, into hostile territory. (I heard this

A. D. 179 from men who accompanied him.) Patemus was
given a large detachment and sent to the scene of fight-
ing. The barbarians held out the entire day, but were
all cut down by the Romans. And Marcus was for the
tenth time saluted as imperator.

— 18— [The lazyges sent an embassy and asked to be re-

A.D. 179-180 . ,« «., .,, ,,

leased from some of the agreements they had made,
and a certain leniency was shown them, to prevent
their being entirely alienated. Yet neither they nor
the Buri were willing to join the Roman alliance until
they received pledges from Marcus tiiat he would with-
out fail prosecute the war to the uttermost. They
were afraid that he might make a treaty with the
Quadi, as before, and leave enemies dwelling at their
— 19 — [Marcus gave audience to such persons as came in the
capacity of envoys from outside nations, but all were
not received on the same footing. This varied according
as the individual states were worthy to receive citizen-
ship, or freedom from taxes, or perpetual or tempor-
ary exemption from tribute, or to enjoy permanent sup-
port. And when the lazyges proved themselves most
useful to him, he released them from many of the re-
strictions imposed upon them,— indeed, from all, save



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from the arrangements made in regard to their gather- A.D.179-I8O

ings and mutual intercourse, and the provisions that

they should not use boats of their own and should keep

away from the islands in the Ister. And he permitted

them to go through Dacia and have dealings with the

Rhoxolani as often as the governor of Dacia would give

them permission.]

[The Quadi and the Marcomani sent envoys to Mar- — »—
cus, saying that the two myriads of soldiers that were
in the forts would not allow^ them to pasture or till tiie
soil or do anything else with freedom, but kept receiv-
ing many deserters from them and captives of theirs ;
yet the soldiers themselves were enduring no great
hardships, inasmuch as they had bath-houses and all
necessary provisions in abundance. The Quadi; conse-
quently, would not endure the watch kept on them from
fortifications and undertook to withdraw en masse to
the territory of the Semnones. But Antoninus learned
beforehand of their intention and by barring the roads
thither prevwited them. This showed that he desired
not to acquire their territory, but to pimish the mem-
bers of the tribe.]

[And the Naristi, having encountered hardships, de- — «i —
serted to the number of three thousand at once and
received land in our territory.]

Had he lived longer, he would have subdued tiie (—33 - )
whole region: as it was, he passed away on the seven- (a. 1*.* 9J3)
teenth of March, not from tiie effects of the sickness
that he had at the time, but by the connivance of his
physicians, as I have heard on good evidence, who
wanted to do a favor to Commodus. Wh^i at the —84—

1 Supplying, with Reiske, Mrpsnov.
VOL. 5— 18. 273


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it' u' Izz) P^^* ^^ death he commended his son to the protection
of the soldiers (for he did not wish his death to appear
to be his fault) ; and to the military tribunes, who asked
him for the watchword, he said : ** Go to the rising sun :
I am already setting/' After he was dead he obtained
many marks of honor and was set up in gold within
the senate-house itself.

So this was the manner of Marcus's demise, [who
besides all other virtues was so godfearing that even
on the dies nefasti he sacrificed at home; and he ruled
better than any that had ever been in power. To be
sure, he could not display many feats of physical prow-
ess ; yet in his own person he made a very strong body-
out of a very weak one.] Most of his life he passed in
the service of beneficence, and therefore he erected on
the Capitol a temple to that goddess and called her by
a most peculiar name, which had never before been cur-
rent.* He himself refrained from all offences, [and
committed no faults voluntarily:] but the offences of
others, particularly those of his wife, he endured, and
neither investigated them nor punished them. In case
any person did anything good, he would praise him and
use liirn for the service in which he excelled, but about
others he did not trouble himself, [saying: ** It is im-
possible for one to create such men as one wishes to
have, but it is proper to employ those in existence for
that in which each of them may be useful to the com-
monwealth. ' ^] That all his actions were prompted not
by pretence but by real virtue is strikingly clear. He
lived fifty-eight years, ten months, and twenty-two
days, and of this time he had spent considerable as

1 What this name was no <me knows. Sylburgius conjectured that it
might be ^quanimitas.



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assistant to the previous Antoninus and had himself ,^- ^- 1^.
been emperor nineteen years and eleven days, yet from
first to last he remained the same and changed not a
particle. So truly was he a good man, without any pre-
tence about him. He was vastly helped by his educa- —85—
tion, being an expert in rhetoric and in philosophical
argument. In the one he had Cornelius Fronto and
Claudius Herodes for teachers, and in the other, Junius
Kusticus and ApoUonius of Nicomedea,* both of whom
followed Zeno's school. As a result, great numbers
pretended to engage in philosophy, in order that they
might be enriched by the emperor.

After all, however, he owed his great attainments
chiefly to his natural disposition; for even before he
enjoyed the society of those men he was unflinchingly
set upon virtue. While still a boy he delighted all his
relations, who were numerous and influential and
wealthy, and was loved by all of them. This, most of
all, led Hadrian to adopt him into his family, and Mar-
cus, for his part, did not grow haughty [but, though
young and a Caesar he dutifully played the part of
servant to Antoninus through all the latter 's reign and
ungrudgingly did honor to the other men of eminence.
Before going to see his father he used to greet the most
worthy men in the house near tiie Tiber where he lived,
and in the very apartment where he slept; and all this
time, instead of wearing the attire allowed by his rank,
he went dressed as a private citizen. He visited many
who were sick and invariably met his teachers at the
proper time. Dark garments were what he wore on
going out when not in his father's company, and he

1 Since ApoUonius was really from Chaloedon, an error may here
be charged to Dio's or some one else's account.



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,^' ^' i??v never nsed the attendant for himself alone. Upon

(a. u. 933) ^

being appointed leader of the knights he entered the
Fomm with the rest, although he was Caesar. This
shows how excellent was his own natural disposition,
though it was aided to the greatest degree by educa-
tion.] He was always steeped in Greek and Latin
rhetorical and philosophical learning [though he had
reached man's estate and had hopes of becoming
— 86 — Before he was made Caesar he had a dream in which
he seemed to have shoulders and hands of ivory and to
use them in all respects as he did his real limbs.

As a result of his great labors and studies he was
extremely frail in body, yet from the very start he en-
joyed such good health that he used to fight in armor
and on a hunt struck down wild boars while on horse-
back. [And not only in his early youth but even later
he wrote most of his letters to his intimate friends with
bis own hand.] However, he did not meet the good
fortune that he deserved, for he was not strong [in
body] and was involved in the greatest variety of
troubles throughout practically the whole period that
he was ruler. But I am sure I admire him all the more
for tills very reason, that amid unusual and extraordi-
nary happenings he both himself survived and pre-
served the empire. One thing in particular contributed
to his lack of happiness,— the fact that after rearing
and educating his son in the best possible way he was
monstrously disappointed in him. This matter must
now form the subject of our discourse, 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.

1 Reading xariwfiivrjv (Dindorf, following Beiake).



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About Cominodnc Ang^utiis (chapter 1).

How Commodufl made terms of peace with the ICarcomani,
the Quadi, and the Buri (chapters 2, 3).

Intrigues of Pompeianna against Commodus (chapter 4).

About the killing of the Qointilii (chapters 6-7).

About the war in Britain, and the captain, TTlpins Harcellns
(chapter 8).

How Perennisi pretorian prefect, was slain (chapters 9, 10).

Statne erected to Victorinns (chapter 11).

Crimes and death of Cleander, a Ceesarian (chapters 12, 13).

Fresh assassinations occur (chapter 15).

Commodus's titles (chapter 15).

About the spectacles presented by Commodus, and his insolent
behavior (chapters 16-21).

Commodus is killed as the result of a conspiracy (chapter

Dio begins to lay the foundations of his history (chapter

Portents indicating the death of Comn»>dus (chapter 24).


£. Fulvius Bruttius Presens (11), Seztus Quintilius Con-
dianus. (A. D. 180 = a. u. 933 = First of Commodus, from
Itarch 17th.)

Commodus Aug. (m), Antistius Burrus. (A. D. 181 == a. u.
934=; Second of Commodus.)

C. Petronius Mamertinus, Cornelius Bufu|. (A. D. 182 =
a. u. 935 =: Third of Commodus.)

Commodus Aug. (IV), Aufldius Victorinus (II). (A. D. 183
=: a. u. 936 = Fourth of Commodus.)

£. Eggius Marullus, Cn. Papirius 2!lianus. (A. B. 184 =
a. u. 937 =: Fifth of Commodus.)

Hatemus, Bradua. (A. D. 185 = a. u. 938 = Sixth of Com-

Commodus Aug. (V), Acilius Olabrio (11). (A. B. 186 =
a. u. 939 = Seventh of Commodus.)


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Criipmnc, ^ilianus. (A. B. 187 =i a. u. 940 = £iglLtlL of

C. Allins Fusoianus (11), DniUius SHaniu (11). (A. D. 188
= a. TL. 941 =1 Ninth of Commodus.)

Innins Silanns, Servilins Silanus. (A. D. 189 = a. u. 942 =
Tenth of Conunodns.)

Commodns Aug. (VI), H. Petronins Septimianns. (A. D.
190 =? a. n. 943 => Eleventh of Conunodns.)

Apronianus, Bradna. (A. B. 191 = a. n. 944 = Twelfth of

Conunodns Ang. (711), P, Helvins Pertinaz (11). (A. B. 192
= a. n. 945 =: Thirteentii of Conunodns, to Beo. 31st.)


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This [Commodus] was not naturally wicked, but waa — i —
originally as free from taint as any man ever was. (^' ^' 933)
His gp:eat simplicity, however, and likewise his cow-
ardice made him a slave of his companions and it was
through them that he first, out of ignorance, missed
the better life and then was attracted into licentious-
ness and bloodthirsty habits, which soon became second
nature. [And this, I think, Marcus clearly perceived
beforehand.] He was nineteen years old when his
father died, leaving him many guardians, among whom
were numbered the best men of the senate. But to
their suggestions and counsels Commodus bade fare^
well, and, after making a truce with the barbarians, he
hastened to Rome.

[For the Marcomani by reason of the number of
their people that were perishing and the damage con-
stantly being done to their farms no longer had either
food or men in any numbers. Thus they sent only two
of their foremost representatives and two others that
were of inferior rank as envoys in regard to peace.
And whereas he might easily have put an end to their
resistance, he so detested exertion and was so eager
for the comforts of city life that he made terms with
them. Besides tiie conditions which his father had
settled upon with them new ones were now imposed re^
quiring them to restore to him the deserters and the
captives that they took after this time and to contribute
annually a stipulated amount of grain,— a demand
from which he subsequently released them. He ob-
tained some weapons from them and also soldiers,—


— a—


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^' ^' i??. thirteen thousand from the Qoadi and a smaller nnm-

(a. u. 933) ,

ber from the Marcomani. In return for this contin-
gent he relieved them of tiie requirement of an annual
levy. However, he issued further orders that they
should not assemble often nor in many parts of t^e
country, but once each month, in one place, in the pres-
ence of a Roman centurion ; and again, that they should
not make war upon the lazyges, the Buri, or the Van-
dili. On these terms a reconciliation was effected and
all the garrisons in their country beyond the detached
border territory were abandoned.

—8— [Commodus also granted peace to an embassy from
the Buri. Previously he would not have it, though
often asked, because they were strong and because
it was not peace they wanted, but the securing of a
respite for further preparations. Now, however, since
they were exhausted, he made terms with them and
accepted hostages. From the Buri he received back
many captives and from the others^ fifteen thousand,
and he compelled the others^ to take oath that they
would never dwell in nor use as pasture forty stadia
of their territory, nearest to Dacia. The same ( t) Sabi-
nianus also reduced twelve thousand of the neighbor-
ing Dacians who had been driven out of their own
country and were on the point of aiding the rest.^ He
promised these that some land in our Dacia should be
given them.]

_4_ Frequent plots were formed by various persons
against Commodus [for he did many reprehensible
deeds] and he murdered great numbers both of men
and of women, some openly and some by secret poison,

1 The MS. is here very poBsibly corrupt.



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— in a word, practically all those who had attained emi- A. D. I8i(?)
nence during his father's lifetime and his own. Ex-
ceptions were Pompeianus and Pertinax and Victori-
nus : these for some reason nnknown to me he did not
coming to Rome he had a conference with the senate,
at which he talked a great deal of nonsense, one thing
that he said in praise of himself being that he had once
on horseback saved the life of his father, who had
fallen into a deep mire. Of such a nature were his
lofty pratings. As he was entering the hunting a. d. 182
theatre, Claudius Pompeianus laid a snare for him. *** ^* ^^^^
He held up a sword in the narrow passage which
served as an entrance and said : * * See, this is what the
senate has sent you.^*

This man had taken as his spouse the daughter of
Lucilla, but had intimate relations both with the
daughter herself and with the girPs mother; in this
way he had become friendly with Commodus, so that
he was his companion at banquets and in the diversions
of youth. Lucilla, who was neither more respectable
nor more continent than her brother Commodus, de-
tested the girl's husband, Pompeianus. It was for this
reason that she persuaded the aforementioned to
undertake the attack upon Commodus, and she not only
caused his destruction, but was herself detected and
put out of the way. Commodus killed also Crispina,
because he was angry with her for some act of adul-
tery. Previous to their execution both women had
been banished to the island of Caprese.

There was a certain Marcia, mistress of Quadratus



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(a. I? 935) (^^® ^^ ^^ ^®^ murdered at this time) and Eclectiis,
his cubicularius: the latter became also the cnbiou-
larius of Commodus, and the former, first, the emper-
or's mistress and later the wife of Eclectas; and she
beheld them also perish by violence. The tradition is
that she very much favored the Christians and did
them many kindnesses, as she was enabled to do
through possessing all influence with Commodus.
—5— Commodus killed also Julianus [Salvius,* and Tar-
rutenius Patemus, who was numbered among the ex-
consuls, and others with them; he furthermore put to
death some woman of the nobility." Yet Julianus
after tiie death of Marcus could at once have done any-
thing at all that he pleased against him, since he pos-
sessed great renown, was in charge of a large army,
and enjoyed the devotion of his soldiers: and he re^
fused to make any rebellious move, both because of his
own uprightness and because of the good will that he
bore to Marcus, though dead. And Patemus, if he had
plotted against Commodus^ as he was accused of doing,
could easily have murdered him while he himself still
commanded the Pretorians ; but he had not done it]

The emperor murdered likewise Condianus and Max-
imus Quintilius; for they had a great reputation on
account of education and military ability and fraternal
harmony and wealth. Their notable talents led to the
suspicion that, even if they were not planning any hos-
tile movement, still they were not pleased with the
state of affairs. Thus, even as they had lived together,
so they died together, and one child as well. They had
exhibited the most striking example ever seen of affec-
tion for each other, and at no time had they been

1 p. Salvius Julianu9,
'Vitrasia Faustina by name.



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divided, even in their political offices. They had ctowb /• ^' 1^2
prosperous and exceedingly wealthy and were wont to
govern together and to assist each other in trying cases
at law.

Sextus Condianus, son of Maximos, who surpassed — 6—
the generality of men in character and education, when
he heard that sentence of death had been passed upon
him, too, drank harems blood (he was at that time lo-
cated in Syria) ; and after this he mounted a horse and
purposely fell from it. Then, as he vomited the blood
(which was supposed to be his own), he was taken up
in the expectation of his immediate demise and con-
veyed into a dwelling. The man himself now disap-
peared from view, but a ram's body was placed in a
coffin in his place and burned. Thereafter, by con-
stantly changing his appearance and clothing, he wan-
dered about, now here, now there. And when this
story was reported (for it is impossible to conceal for
a long time so weighty a matter), there was hue and
cry after him in every place, bar none. Many were
punished in his stead on account of their resemblance,
and many, too, who were alleged to have shared his
confidences or to have received and hidden him. Sev-
eral, moreover, who had perhaps never even seen him,
were deprived of their property. But no one knows
whether he was really killed (though a great number
of heads purporting to be his were carried to Rome)
or whether he made good his escape.

Some other person, after the death of Gommodus,
dared to assert that }^ was Sextus and to undertake
the recovery of his wealth and dignities. And he



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— T—


(a u' 93M P^^y®^ ^^ P^^ ^^1^ while many persons asked him
numbers of questions: when, however, Pertinax en-
quired of him something about Grecian aflfairs, with
which the real Sextus had been well acquainted, he suf-
fered the greatest embarrassment, not being able even
to understand what was said. [So it was that nature
had made him like Condianus in form and practice like
hun in other ways, but he did not share in his edu-

This matter came to my own ears, and another thing
that I saw I shall now describe. There is in the city of
Mallus, in Cilicia, an oracle of Amphilochus, that gives
responses by means of dreams. It had given warning
also to Sextus, in a way that he indicated by a drawing.
The picture that he put on a board represented a boy
strangling two serpents and a lion pursuing a fawn* I
was with my father, then governor of Cilicia, and could
not comprehend what they meant until I learned that
Sextus 's brothers had been, as it were, strangled by
Commodus (who later emulated Hercules), ju^t as
Hercules, when an infant, is related to have strangled
the serpents sent against him by Juno : similarly, the
Quintilii were hanged; I learned also that Sextus was
a fugitive and was being pursued by a more powerful

I should render my narrative unduly irksome, were
I to set down carefully every single man put to death
by this ruler,— all tiiat he desjmtched because of false
information, because of unjustified suspicions, because
of notable wealth, because of distinguished family, be-
cause of unusual education, or for any other excellence.



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[Commodus displayed in Eome itself many marks of /^' u*g^)
wealth and very many more, even, of love for the
beautiful. Indeed, he performed one or two acts of
public benefit. Manilius, a kmsman of Cassius, who
had been secretary of his Latin letters and had pos-
sessed the greatest influence with him, was caught after
a flight, but the emperor would not listen to a word of
his, though he promised to lay a great deal of informa-
tion, and burned all the conspirator's documents with-
out reading them.]
He had also some wars with the barbarians beyond —8—

A. D. 184

Dacia, in which Albinus and Niger, who later fought (a. u. »37)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 17 19 20 21 22 23 24

Online LibraryCassius Dio CocceianusDio's Rome; an historical narrative originally composed in Greek during the reigns of Septimus Severus, Geta and Caracalla, Macrinus, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus: and now presented in English form → online text (page 17 of 24)