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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 19 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 19 of 24)
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I think it is — **a thousand.'*

was written by Lucius Commodus Hercules,

and upon it was inscribed the well-known couplet, viz. :

** Hercules I, Jove's son. Lord of Fair Fame«
Not Lucius, howsoe'er constrained thereto."

For these reasons Lsetus and Eclectus, making Mar-
cia their confidante, attacked him. At night on the last
day of the year, when people were busy with merry-

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A. D. 192 making, they had Marcia administer poison to him in

(a. 1*. 946) o7 ^ MT

cooked beef. The wine he had consumed and his
always immoderate nse of the baths kept him from
snccnmbing at once, and instead he vomited; this
caused him to suspect the attempt and he uttered some
threats. Then they sent Narcissus, an athlete, to him
and had this man strangle him in the midst of a batiL
This was the end that Commodus met after ruling
twelve years, nine months, and fourteen days. He had
lived thirty-one years and four months, and with him
the imperial house of the true Aurelii ceased.
—28 — After this there occurred most violent wars and fac-
tional disturbances. The compilation of facts in this
work of mine has been due to the following chance. I
had written and published a book about the dreams and
signs which caused Severus to expect the imperial
power; and he, happening to look at a copy that was
sent him by me, wrote me a long and complimentary
acknowledgment. This letter I received about night-
fall and soon after went to sleep. And in my slumbers
Heaven commanded me that a history be written. So
it came about that I wrote the narrative with which I
am at this moment concerned. And because it pleased
Severus himself and other people very much, I then
conceived a desire to compile a record of all other mat-
ters of Soman interest. Therefore I decided no longer
to leave that treatise as a separate composition, but to
incorporate it in this present history, in order that in
one undertaking I might write positively everything
from the beginning as far as Fortune sees fit to permit.

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I have obtained this goddess, it appears, as the guide /^ J; ^^1^
of the conduct of my life, and therefore I am depend-
ent on her entirely: she gives me strength for my his-
torical research when I am respectful and subdued
before her, and wins me back to work by means of
dreams when I am discouraged and give up the task:
she grants me delightful hopes in regard to the future,
that time will allow this history to survive and never
let its brightness be dimmed. To gather an account of
everything done by the Romans from the beginning
until the death of Severus has taken me ten years, and
to arrange it in literary form twelve years more. The
rest will be written as opportunity offers.

Prior to the death of Commodus there were the fol- —24 —
lowing signs. Many ill-boding eagles wandered about
the Capitol uttering cries that portended naught of
peace, and an owl hooted there. A fire, starting by (a. u! 944)
night in some dwelling, laid hold of the temple of
Peace and spread to the stores of Egyptian and
Arabian wares : then, leaping to a great height, it en-
tered the palace and burned a very large portion of it,
so that the documents belonging to the empire almost
all perished. This as much as anything made it clear
that the injury would not stop in the City but extend .
over the entire civilized world. The conflagration
could not be extinguished by human hands, although
great numbers of civilians and great numbers of sol-
diers were carrying water and Commodus himself came
from the suburbs to cheer them on. Only after it had
destroyed everything on which it had fastened did it
spend its force and reach a limit.



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Pertintz, throngli the agency of Eolectne and Istni, ii cre-
ated emperor by the toldien and by the eenate (chapter 1).

Commodns ii declared an enemy and ii made a lubjeet to
jcft (chapter 2).

EindncM of Pertinax toward Pompeianni, Glabrio^ and the
senators (chapters).

Omens portending snpreme power for him (chapter 4).

Pertinax reforms pernicious practices: he sells Commodni'i
apparatus of licentionsness (chapter 5, 6).

His moderation with regard to his own family (chapter 7).

At the instigation of Lsetns Falco the consul is slated for
emperor (chapter 8).

Death of Pertinax Augustus (chapter 9, 10).

PlaYius Sulpieianus and Tulianus strive in outbidding each
other for the sovereignty (chapter 11).

Tulianus is made emperor contrary to the wishes of the senate
and the Boman people (chapters 12, 13).

About the three leaders, Seyraus, Niger, Albinus (chapter 14).

Severus forms an alliance with Albinus and proceeds against
Tulianus (chapter 15).

Tulianus, in the midst of laughable preparations, is killed by
order of the senate (chapters 16, 17).

DURATION OF TIME, five months (from the Calends of Jano-
mry to the Calends of Jane), In which the followln]^ were
coBsnls:

1. Quintus Sosius Falco, C. Erucius Clams.

2. PlaTius Sulpieianus, Fabius Cilo Septiminus (from the
Calends of March).

3. Silius Kessala (from the Calends of lEay). (A. D. 193
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(BOOK 74. BOISSEVAIN.)

Pertinax was one of those men to whom no exception £^^ "^93
can be taken, but he ruled only for an exceedingly brief («• ^ •*«)
space of time and was then put out of the way by the
soldiers. While the fate of Commodus was still a
secret the party of Eclectus and Lsstus came to him and
acknowledged^ what had been done. On account of his
excellence and reputation they were glad to select him.
He, after seeing them and hearing their story, sent his
most trustworthy comrade to view the body of Com-
modus. When the man confirmed the report of the
act, he was then conveyed secretly into the camp and
caused the soldiers consternation; but through the
presence of the adherents of Lsstus and by means of
promises^ to give them three thousand denarii per man,
he won them over. They would certainly have re-
mained content, had he not phrased the conclusion of
his speech somewhat as follows : ' * There are many un-
pleasant features, fellow-soldiers, in the present sit-
uation, but the rest with your help shall be set right
again. ' ' On hearing this they took occasion to suspect
that all the irregular privileges granted them by Com-
modus would be abolished. Though irritated, they
nevertheless remained quiet, concealing their anger.

On leaving the fortifications he came to the senate-
house while it was still night, and after greeting us (so
far as a man might approach him in the midst of such
a jostling throng) he said in an impromptu way: ^^ I

1 Reading ipLrjvoirav (Dindorf, after H. Stephanui).
^Reading iitrirr^aaro (Dindorf, after Bekker).

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A. D. 193 have been named emperar by the soldiers; however, I
don't desire the office and am going to resign it this
very day because of my age and health and the unpleas-
ant condition of affairs.'' This was no sooner said
than we gave the selection onr gennine approbation
and chose him in very truth ; for he was noble in spirit
and strong in body, except that he walked a little lame.

—2— In this way was Pertinax declared emperor and
Commodus an enemy, while both senate and people de-
nounced the latter long and savagely. They desired to
hale away his body and tear it limb from limb, as they
did his images; but, when Pertinax told them that the
corpse had already been interred, they spared his re-
mains but glutted their rage on his representations,
calling him all sorts of names. But '^ Commodus " or
* * emperor ' ' were two that no one applied to him. In
stead, they termed him *' wretch " and *' tyrant," add-
ing in jest titles like '*the gladiator," **the char-
ioteer, " ' * the lef trhanded, ' " * the ruptured man. ' ' To
the senators, who had been excited most by fear of
Commodus, the crowd called out: ** Huzza^ huzza, you
are saved, you have conquered! " All the shouts that
they had been accustomed to raise with a kind of
rhythmic swing to pay court to Commodus in the
theatres they now chanted metamorphosed into the
most ridiculous nonsense. Since they had got rid of one
ruler, and as yet had nothing to fear from his suc-
cessor, they made the most of their freedom in the
intervening time and secured a reputation for frank-
ness by their fearlessness. They were not satisfied
merely to be relieved of further terror, but desired to
show their courage by wanton insolence.

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Pertinax was a Ligurian from Alba Pompeia; his ^jf "^3
father was not of noble birth and he himself had just (a. «. 946)
enough literary training for ordinary needs. Under
these conditions he had become an associate of Clandins
Pompeianns, through whose influence he had become a
commander in the cavalry, and had reached such a
height that he now came to be emperor over his former
friend. And I at that time, during the reign of Per-
tinax, saw Pompeianus for the first and last occasion.
He was wont to live mostly in the country on account
of Commodus [and very seldom came down to the
city], making his age and a disease of the eyes his
excuse [and he had never before, when I was present,
entered the senate]. Moreover, after Pertinax he waa
always ill. [During his reign he saw and was welP
and advised.] Pertinax honored him mightily in every-
way and in the senate made him take the seat beside
him. [The same privilege he accorded also to Acilius
Glabrio. This man, too, at that period both heard and
saw. It was to these, then, that he granted such sur-
passing honor.] Toward us also he behaved in a very
sociable way. He was easy of access, listened read-
ily to any one's request, and cordially answered as he
thought right Again, he gave us banquets marked by
moderation. Whenever he failed to invite us^ he would
send to various persons various foods, even the least
costly. For this the wealthy and vainglorious made
great sport of him, but the rest of us, who valued ex-
cellence above debauchery, approved his course.

[Public opinion regarding Pertinax was so different (—2-.)

i Reading ippwro (Dindorf).

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.^' ^'}?^. from that in the case of CommodnB that those who

{a. u. 046)

heard what had happened, suspecting that this story
had been spread by Commodus to test them, in several
instances (governors of provinces being particnlarly
involved) imprisoned the men who brought the news.
It was not that they did not wish it to be true, but they
were more afraid of seeming to have helped destroy
Commodus than of not attaching themselves to Perti-
nax. For under the latter one who even committed an
error of this kind might still breathe freely, but under
the former not even a faultless person could feel safe.]
While he was still in Britain, after that great revolt
which he quelled, and was being accorded praise on all
sides, a horse named Pertinax won a race at Rome. It
belonged to the Greens and was picked as a winner by
Commodus, So, when its partisans raised a great
shout, proclaiming '* It is Pertinax/' the others, their
opponents, in disgust at Commodus likewise prayed
(speaking with reference to the man, not the horse) :
* ' Would that it might be so ! ' ' Later, when this same
horse by reason of age had given up racing and was
in the country, it was sent for by Commodus, who
brought it into the hippodrome, gilded its hoofs, and
adorned its back with a gilded skin. And people sud-
denly seeing it cried out again: '*It is Pertinax!''
The very expression was itself ominous, since it oc-
curred at the last horse-race that year, and immedi-
ately after it the sovereignty passed to Pertinax. A
similar import was attached to the club, for Commodus
when about to fight on the final day had given it to
Pertinax,

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It was in this way that Pertinax came into power, ^^t:.

•^ -^ A. D. 198

He obtained all the proper titles and a new one for (a. u. 946)
wishing to be democratia That is^ he was named
Princeps Senatus, according to ancient custom. He at
once rednced to order everything that was previ-
ously irregular and lacking in discipline. He showed
in his capacity of emperor kindliness and uprightness,
unimpeachable management^ and a most careful con-
sideration for the public welfare. Pertinax did every-
thing, in fact, that a good emperor should do, and he
removed the stigma of disgrace from the memories of
those who had been unjustly put to death ; moreover, he
took oath that he would never sanction such a penalty.
Immediately some recalled their relatives and some
their friends with tears and joy at once; formerly not
even these exhibitions of emotion were allowed.
After this they exhumed the bodies, some of which
were found entire and some in fragments, according as
decay and time had caused each of them to fare, and
they gave them decent treatment and deposited them
in their ancestral tombs.

At this time the treasury was suffering from such
lack of funds that only twenty-five myriad denarii
could be found. Pertinax therefore had difficulty in
raising money from the images and the arms, the
horses and the trappings, and the favorites of Com-
modus, but gave to the Pretorians all that he had
promised and to the people one hundred denarii apiece.
All the articles that Commodus had gathered by way
of luxury and for armed combats and for chariot driv-
ing were exposed in the auction-room; the principal

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A. D. 198 object sought being their sale, though there was a fur-
ther intention to show what were the late emperor's
deeds and practices and to ascertain who would pur-
chase such articles.

— 6 — > Laetus consistently spoke well of Pertinax and abused
Conunodus [relating all the latter 's evil deeds].

He^ sununoned some barbarians that had received a
large sum of gold coin from Commodus in return for
preservation of peace (the party was already on the
road) and demanded its return, saying: ** Tell your
people that Pertinax is ruler.'' The foreigners knew
his name very well as a result of the reverses they had
suffered when he made a campaign against them with
Marcus.— Let me tell you another similar act of his
intended to cast reflections upon Commodus. He found
that some filthy clowns and buffoons, disgusting in ap-
pearance, with still more disgusting names and habits,
had been made extremely wealthy by Commodus on
account of their wantonness and licentiousness; ac-
cordingly, he made public their titles and the amounts
they had acquired. The former caused laughter and
the latter wrath and grief, for there were some of
them that possessed just the sums for which the
emperor had slain numbers of senators. However,
LsBtus did not remain permanently loyal to Pertinax, or
I>erhaps we might even say not for a moment. Since
he did not get what he wanted^ he proceeded to incite
the soldiers against him (as will be related).

—7— Pertinax appointed as prefect of the city his father-
in-law. Flavins Sulpicianus, a man who in any case de-

1 Pertinax is meant.

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served the pofiition. Yet he was unwilling to make his ,^'^'g?I.
wife Augusta or his son CsBsar, though we voted him
permission. He rejected emphatically each proposi-
tion, whether because he had not yet firmly rooted his
own power, or because he did not choose to let his un-
chaste consort sully the name of Augusta. As for his
son, who was still a child, he did not care to have him
spoiled by the dignity^ and the hope implied in the
name before he should be educated. Indeed, he would
not even bring him up in the palace, but on the very
first day of his sovereignty he put aside everything
that had belonged to him previously and divided it
between his children — he had also a daughter — and
gave orders that they should live at their grandfather's
house; there he visited them occasionally in the capac-
ity of father and not of emperor.

Now, since the soldiers were no longer allowed to — 8—
plunder nor the CflBsarians to indulge their licentious-
ness, they hated hun bitterly. The CsBsarians atr
tempted no revolt, because they were unarmed, but the
Pretorian soldiers and Laetus formed a plot agaiust
him. In the first place they selected Falco th^ consul
for OTaperor, because he was prominent for both wealth
and family, and purposed to bring him to the camp
while Pertinax was at the coast investigating the com
supply. The latter, learning of the plan, returned in
haste to the City, and coming before the senate said :
'* You should not be ignorant, Conscript Fathers, that
though I found but twenty-five myriad denarii, I have
distributed as much to the soldiers as did Marcus and

1 Reading iptf (Reimar) for the MS. Spx^.

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.^- ^oi*?. Lucius, to whom were left sixty-seven thousand five
hundred myriads. It is the surprising CsBsarians who
have been responsible for this deficiency of funds."
PertinaK told a lie when he said that he had bestowed
upon the soldiers an equal amount with Lucius and
Marcus ; for the one had given them about five thou-
sand and the other about three thousand denarii apiece.
The soldiers and the Cs&sarians, who were present in
the senate in great numbers, became mightily indignant
and muttered dangerously. But as we were about to
condemn Falco [and were already declaring him an
enemy] Pertinax rose and cried out: ** Heaven forbid
that any senator, while I am ruler, be put to death even
for a just cause I" [And in this way Falco 's life was
saved, and thenceforth he lived in the country, pre-
serving a cautious and respectful demeanor.]

But LsBtus, using Falco as a starting pointy de-
stroyed many of the soldiers on the pretence that the
emperor ordered it. The rest, when they became
aware of it, were afraid that they should perish, too,
and raised a tumult Two hundred bolder than their
mates invaded the palace with drawn swords. Perti-
nax had no warning of their approach until they had
got upstairs. Then his wife rushed in and informed
him what had happened. On learning this he behaved
in a way which one may call noble or senseless or how-
ever one pleases. For, whereas he might probably
have killed his assailants (since he had the night-guard
and the cavalry by to protect him and there were also
many other people in the palace at the time), or might
at any rate have concealed himself and made his es-

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cape to some place or other, and might have closed /^'^'^^(^\
the doors of the palace and the other intervening
doors, he, nevertheless, adopted neither alternative.
Instead, hoping to awe them by his presence and thus
gain a hearing and persuade them to their duty, he
confronted the approaching band, which was already
indoors. No one of their fellow soldiers had barred the
way, and the porters and other CsBsarians so far from
maMng any door fast had opened absolutely all the
entrances. The soldiers, seeing him, at first were — lo—
abashed, save one, and rested their eyes on the floor
and began thrusting their swords back into their scab-
bards. But the one exception leaped forward, exclaim-
ing: ** This sword the soldiers have sent you,*' and
forthwith made a dash at him, striking him a blow.
Then his comrades did not restrain themselves and
felled their emperor together with Eclectus. The lat-
ter alone had not deserted him and defended him as
far as he was able, even to the extent of wounding sev-
eral. Wherefore I, who still earlier believed that he
had shown himself a man of worth, now thoroughly ad-
mired him. The soldiers cut off the head of Pertinax
and stuck it on a spear, glorying in the deed. Thus
did Pertinax, who undertook to restore everything in
a brief interval, meet his end. He did not comprehend,
though a well trained man of affairs, that it is impos-
sible with safety to reform everything at once, but that
the constitution of a government requires, if anything
does, both time and wisdouL He had lived sixty-seven
years lacking four months and three days. He had
reigned eighty-seven days.

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aT " 193 When the fate of Pertinax wm r^orted, some ran to
(ck II. 946) their homes and some to those of the soldiers^ and paid
heed to their own safety. It happened that Snlpi-
cianns had been despatched by Pertinax to the camp
to set in order matters there, and he consequently
stayed there and took action looking to the appoint-
ment of an emperor. Bnt there was a certain Didins
Julianns [of senatorial rank bnt eccentric character] ,
an insatiate money-getter and reckless spender, always
anxions for a change in the government, who on ac-
count of the last named proclivity had been drivmi out
by Commodus to his own city, Mediolanum. He, accord-
ingly, on hearing of the death of Pertinax, hastily made
Ms way to the camp, and standing near the gates of the
fort made offers to the soldiers in regard to the Roman
throne. Then ensued a most disgraceful affair and one
unworthy of Some. For just as is done in some market
and auction-room, both the city and her whole empire
were bid off. The sellers were the people who had
killed their emperor, and the would-be buyers were
Sulpicianus and Julianus, who vied to outbid each
other, one from within, the other from without By
their increases they speedily reached the sum of five
thousand denarii per man. Some of the guard k^t re-
porting and saying to Julianus : * * Sulpicianus is will-
ing to give so much; now what will you addt *' And
again to Sulpicianus : ^ ' Julianus offers so much ; how
much more do you make itt '* Sulpicianus would have
won the day, since he was inside and was prefect of
the city and was the first to say five thousand, had not
Julianus raised his bid, and no longer by small degrees

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but by twelve hundred and fifty denarii at once, which ,^- ^- \^^,

•^ "^ ' (a. w. 946)

he offered with a great shout, indicating the amount
likewise on his fingers. Captivated by the difference
and at the same time through fear that Sulpicianus
might avenge Pertinax (an idea that Julianus put into
their heads) they received the highest bidder inside
and designated him emperor.

So toward evening the new ruler turned hia steps — la—
with speed toward the Forum and senate-house. He
was escorted by a vast number of Pretorians with
numerous standards as if prepared for action, his
object being to scare both us and the populace and
thereby secure our allegiance. The soldiers called him
** Commodus,'* and exalted him in various other ways.
As the news was brought to us each individually, and
we ascertained the truth, we were possessed with fear
of Julianus and the soldiers, especially all of us who
had . . . any favors for Pertinax.* ... I was
one of them, for I had been honored by Pertinax in
various ways, owing to him my appointment as
praetor, and when acting as advocate for others at
trials I had frequently proved Julianus in the
wrong on many points. Nevertheless, we put in
an appearance, and partly for this very reason,
since it did not seem to us to be safe to hide at
home, for fear that act in itself might arouse sus-
picion. So when bath^ and dinner were both over, we
pushed our way through the soldiers, entered the sen-

1 A slight gap in the MS., where we should perhaps read: " all of us
who had done aify favors for Pertinax or an^hing to displease
Julianus" (Bossevain).

2 Reading XeXoufiivot (Reiske) for the MS. dtdouXoffUvot ,

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(a! u ^w ^*^^^^^^^ ^^d heard the potentate deliver a character-
istic speech, in the course of which he said: *' I see
that you need a ruler, and I myself am better fitted
than any one else to direct you. And I should mention
all the advantages I can offer, if you did not know
them perfectly and had not already had experience
with me. Consequently, I felt no need of being at-
tended by many soldiers, but have come to you alone,
that you may ratify what has been given me by them."


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 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 19 of 24)