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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

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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 20 of 24)
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** I am here alone *' is what he said, when he had
surrounded the entire exterior of the senate-house
with heavily armed men and had a number of soldiers
in the senate^house itself. Moreover, he mentioned
our being aware what kind of person he was, and made
us both hate and fear him.

_ J3 _ In this way he got his imperial power confirmed also
by decrees of the senate and returned to the palace*
Finding the dinner that had been prepared for Per-
tinax he made great fun of it, and sending out to every
place from which by any means whatever something
expensive could be procured at that time of day he
satisfied his hunger (the corpse was still lying in the
building) and then proceeded to amuse himself by
dicing. Among his companions was Pylades the dan-
cer. The nest day we went up to visit him, feigning
in looks and behavior much that we did not feel, so
as not to let our grief be detected. The populace,
however, openly frowned upon the affair, spoke its
mind as much at it pleased, and was ready to do what
it could. Finally, when he came to the senate-house
and was about to sacrifice to Janus before the en-

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trance, all bawled out as if by precoiiicerted arrange- -^ ^'}^.
ment, terming him empire-plmiderer and parricide.
He affected not to be angry and promised tbem some
money, whereupon they grew indignant at tiie impli-
cation that they conld be bribed and all cried out to-
gether : * * We don^t want it, we won't take it I ' * The
surrounding buildings echoed back the shout in a way
to make one shudder. When Julianus had heard their
response, he could endure it no longer, but ordered
that those who stood nearest should be slain. That
excited the populace a great deal more, and it did not
cease expressing its longing for Pertinax or its abuse
of Julianus, its invocations of the gods or its curses
upon the soldiers. Though many were wounded and
killed in many parts of the city, they continued to re-
sist and finally seized weapons and made a rush into
the hippodrome. There they spent the night and the en-
suing day without food or drink, calling upon the re-
mainder of the soldiery (especially Pescennius Niger
and his followers in Syria) with prayers for assist-
ance. Later, feeling the effects of their outcries and
fasting and loss of sleep, they separated and kept
quiet, awaiting the hoped for deliverance from abroad.



" I do not assist the populace: for it has not called upon me.**

Julianus after seizing the power in this way man-
aged affairs in a servile fashion, paying court to the
senate as well as to men of any influence. Sometimes
he made offers, again he bestowed gifts, and he
laughed and sported with anybody and everybody. He
was constantly going to the theatre and kept getting

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(t i^'946) ^^ banquets: in fine, he left nothing undone ta win
our favor. However, he was not trusted; his servility
was so abject that it made him an object of suspicion.
Everything out of the common, even if it seems to be
a kindness to somebody, is regarded by men of sense
as a trap.

The senate had at one time voted him a golden statue and he
refused to accept it, saying: "Give me a bronie one so that it maj
last; for I perceive that the gold and silver statues of the emperors
that ruled before me have been torn down, whereas the bronze ones
remain." In this he was not right: since 'tis excellence that safe-
guards the memory of potentates. And the bronze statue that wma
bestowed upon him was torn down after he was overthrown.

This was what went on in Rome. Now I shall speak
about what happened outside and the various revo-
lutions. There were three men at this time who were
commanding each three legions of citizens and many
foreigners besides, and they all asserted their claims,
— Severus, Niger, and Albinus. The last-named gov-
erned Britain, Severus Pannonia, and Niger Syria.
These were the three persons darkly indicated by the
three stars that suddenly came to view surrounding
the sun, when Julianus in our presence was offering
the Sacrifices of Entrance in front of the senate-house.
These heavenly bodies were so very brilliant that the
soldiers kept continually looking at them and pointing
them out to one another, declaring moreover that some
dreadful fate would befall the usurper. As for us,
however much we hoped and prayed that it might so
prove, yet the fear of the moment would not permit us
to gaze at them, save by occasional glances. Such are
the facts that I know about the matter.

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Of the three leaders that I have mentioned Sevems — 15 —

A. D. 193

[was] the shrewdest [in being able to foresee the future (a.* f#/946)
with accuraxjy, to manage present adOfairs successfully,
to ascertain everything concealed as well as if it had
been laid bare and to work out every complicated situ-
ation with the greatest ease.] He understood in ad-
vance that after deposing Julianus the three would
fall to blows with one another and offer combat for the
possession of the empire, and therefore determined to
win over the rival who was nearest hinou So he sent a
letter by one of his trusted managers to Albinus, creat-
ing him Caesar. Of Niger, who was proud of having
been invoked by the people, he had no hopes. Albinus
on the supposition that he was going to share the em-
pire with Severus remained where he was: Severus
made all strategic points in Europe, save Byzantium,
his own and hastened toward Bome. He did not ven-
ture outside a protectiQg circle of weapons, having se-
lected his six hundred most valiant men in whose midst
he passed his time day and night; these did not once
put off their breastplates until they reached Rome.

[This Fulvius^ (!) too, who when governor of Africa
had been tried and condemned by Pertinaz for ras-
cality, avarice, and licentiousness, was later elevated
to the highest position by the same man, now become
emperor, as a favor to Severus.]

Julianus on learning the condition of affairs had the — le —
senate make Severus an enemy and proceeded to pre^
pare against hiuL [In the suburbs he constructed a
rampart, wherein he set gates, that he might take up a



iThe name, so far as can be diBoerned in the MS., vulj be Fulviua
iu8 or Fabius. The position ai
ubtfuL

VOL. 5—21 321



, , inr be JB

or Flavius or Fabius. The position and import of the fragment are
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it uJ^ii) P^iti<>^ tJiere outside and fight from that Base.] The
City during these days became nothing more nor less
than a camp, pitched, as it were, in hostile territory.
There was great turmoil from the various bodies of
those bivouacked and exercising,— men, horses, ele-
phants. The mass of the population stood in great
fear of the armed men [because the latter hated them.]
Occasionally laughter would overcome us. The Pre-
torians did nothing that was expected of their name
and reputation, for they had learned to live delicately.
The men summoned from the fleet that lay at anchor
in Misenum did not even know how to exercise. The
elephants found the towers oppressive and so would
not even carry their drivers any longer [but threw
them off also]. What caused us most amusement was
his strengthening the palace with latticed gates and
strong doors. For, as it seemed likely that the soldiers
would never have slain Pertinax so easily if the build-
ing had been securely fastened, Julianus harbored the
belief that in case of defeat he would be able to shut
himself up there and survive.

Moreover, he put to death both Laetus and Marcia,
80 that all the conspirators against Commodus had
now perished. Later Severus gave Narcissus also to
the beasts, making the proclamation (verbatim):
''This is the man that strangled Commodus.^' The
emperor likewise killed' many boys for purposes of en-
chantments, thinTring that he could avert some future
calamities, if he should ascertain them in advance.
And he kept sending man after man to find Severus
and assassinate hiuL [ Vespronius Candidus, a man of
very distinguished rank but still more remarkable for

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Lis stQlemiess and boorislmeeSy came near meeting his ^* i>- 103
end at the hands of the soldiers.] ^ ^'

The avenger had now reached Italy and without — 17 —
striking a blow took possession of Bavenna. The men
whom his opponent kept sending to him to either per-
suade him to turn back or else block his approaches
were won over. The Pretorians, in whom Julianus re-
posed most confidence, were becoming worn out by con-
stant toil and were getting terribly alarmed at the
report of Severus's proximity. At this juncture Juli-
anus called us together and bade us vote for Severus
to be his colleague in office.

The soldiers were led to believe by communicatiouB
from Severus that, if they would surrender the assas-
sins of Pertinax and themselves offer no hostile de-
monstration, they should receive no harm; therefore
they arrested the men who had killed Pertinax and
announced this very fact to Silius Messala, the consul.
The latter assembled us in the Athenaeum,^ so called
from the fact that it was a seat of educational activity,
and informed us of the news from the soldiers. We
then sentenced Julianus to death, named Severus em-
peror, and bestowed heroic honors upon Pertinax. So
it was that Julianus came to be slain as he was reclin-
ing in the palace itself; he had only time to say:
** Why, what harm have I done? Whom have I
killed f He had lived sixty years, four months, and
the same number of days, out of which he had reigned
sixty-six days.

Dio, 74th Book: "Men of intelligeiice should neither begin a war
nor seek to evade it when it is ihrust upon them. They should rather
grant pardon to him who voluntarily conducts himself properly, in spite
of any previous transgression, . . •

1 Located on the Capitol, and established by Hadrian.

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Seremi takes rengetnoe on the Pretoritni who were the
iiMiriTii of Pertinaz and enters the city (chapters 1, 2).

Prodigies which portended the sovereignty to Sevenu (chap-
ter 3).

Fnneral procession which he superintended, in honor of Perti-
nax (chapters 4, 6).

War of Severos Angostas against Pesoennins Higer (chapters
6-8).

The storming of Bysantinm (chapters 10-14).

DURATION OF TIME.

Q. Sosins Palco, C. Emcins Claras. (A. D. 183 = a. n. 946 =
Pirst of Sevems, from the Calends of Tnne.)

L. Septimins Severos Aug. (11), D. Clodins Septimins Alhinns
Css. (A. D. 184 = a. n. 847 = Second of Seyerus.)

Scapnla Tertnllns, Tindns Clemens. (A. D. 186 = a. u. 848
=3 Third of Seyems.)

C. Bomitins Dexter (II), L. Valerius Xessala Prisons. (A. D.
186 = a. n. 848 = Ponrth of ScTeras.)



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(BOOK 75, BOISSEVAIN.)

Severus upon becoming emperor in the manner — i —
described punished with death the | Pretorians | who
had contrived the fate of Pertinax. Before reaching
Rome he summoned those remaining [Pretorians], sur-
rounded them in a plain while they still did not know
what was going to happen to them, and having r^
preached them long and bitterly for their transgression
against their emperor he relieved them of their arms,
took away their horses, and expelled them from Rome.
The majority reluctantly proceeded to throw away
their arms and let their horses go, and scattered unin-
jured, in their tunics. One man, as his horse refused
to leave him, but kept following him and neighing, slew
both the beast and himself. To the spectators it
seemed that the horse also was glad to die.

When he had attended to this matter Severus entered
Eome; he went as far as the gates on horseback and in
cavalry costume, but from that point on changed to
citizen *s garb and walked. The entire army, both
infantry and cavalry, in full armor accompanied him.
The spectacle proved the most brilliant of all that I
have witnessed, for the whole city had been decked with
wreaths of blossoms and laurel and besides being
adorned with richly colored stuffs blazed with lights
and burning incense. The population, clad in white
and jubilant, gave utterance to many hopeful expres-
sions. The soldiers were present, conspicuous by their
arms, as if participating^ in some festival procession,

1 Reading nopLmuoyn^ (Dindorf, after Bekker).

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and W6y too, were walking abont in our best attire.
The crowd chafed in their eagerness to see him and to
hear him say something, as if his voice had been some-
how changed by his good fortune, and some of them
held one another np aloft to get a look at him from a
higher positioni.

Having entered in tiiis style he began to make ns rash
promises, such as the good emperors of old had given,
to the effect that he WQuld not put any senator to death.
He not only took oath concerning this matter, but what
was of greater import he also ordered it ratified by
public decree, and passed an ordinance that both the
emperor and the person who helped him in any sudi
deed should be considered an enemy,— themselves and
also their children. Yet he was himself the first to
break the law and instead of keeping it caused the
death of many persons. Even Julius Solon himself,
who framed this decree according to imperial man-
date, was a little later murdered. The emperor did
many things that were not to our liking. [He was
blamed for making the city turbulent by the multitude
of soldiers and he oppressed the conunonwealth by ex-
cessive expenditure of funds : he was blamed most of
all for placing his hope of safety in the strengtii of his
army and not in the good-will of his companions.] But
some found fault with him especially because, whereas
it had been the custom for the body-guard to be drawn
from Italy, Spain, Macedonia and Noricum only,— a
plan which furnished men more distinguished in ap-
pearance and of simpler habits, — he had abolished this
method, [He ruled that any vacancies should be filled

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from all the legions alike; this he did with the idea that
he should find them as a result more conversant with
military practices and should be setting up warfare as
a kind of prize for the excellent. As a matter of fact
he incidentally ruined all the most reliable men of mili-
tary age in Italy, who turned their attention to robbery
and gladiatorial fighting in place of the service that
had previously claimed it.] and filled the city with a
throng of motley soldiers, most savage in appearance,
most terrifying in their talk, and most uncultured to
associate with.

The signs which led him to expect the sovereignty — 3—
were these. When he had been registered in the
senate-house, it seemed to him in a vision that a she-
wolf suckled him, as was the case with Bomulus. On
the occasion of his marrying Julia, Faustina, the wife
of Marcus, prepared their bedchmnber in the temple
of Venus opposite the palace; and once, when he was
asleep, water gushed from his hand as from a spring;
and when he was governor of Lugdunum, the whole
Roman domain approached and greeted him, — all this
in dreams, I mean. At another time he was taken by
some one to a point affording a wide view; and as he
gazed from it over all the earth and all the sea he laid
his fingers on them as one might on some instrument^
capable of all harmonies, and they answered to his
touch. Again, he thought that in the Roman Forum
a horse threw Pertinax, who was already mounted, but
readily took him on its back. These things he had
already learned from dreams, but in his waking hours

1 Compare Plato, RepubUo, 399 C.

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he had^ while a yonth, ignorantly seated himself upon
the imperial chair. This accident, tak^i with the rest,
indicated rulership to him in advance.
— * — Upon attaining that condition he erected a her oum to
Pertinax and commanded that his name should be re-
peated in the conrse of all prayers and of all oaths. A
gold image of him was ordered brought into the hippo-
drome on a car drawn by elephants and three gilded
thrones for him conveyed into the remaining theatres.
His funeral, in spite of the time elapsed since his death,
took place as follows :

In the Forum Bomanum a wooden platform was con-
structed hard by the stone one, upon which was set a
building without walls but encompassed by columns,
with elaborate ivory and gold decoration. In it a coudi
of similar material was placed, surrounded by heads
of land and sea creatures, and adorned with purple
coverlets interwoven with gold. Upon it had been laid
a kind of wax image of Pertinax, arrayed in triumphal
attire. A well-formed boy was scaring the flies away
from it with peacock feathers, as though it were really
a person sleeping. While it was lying there in state,
Severus, we senators, and our wives approached, clad
in mourning garb.* The ladies sat in the porticos,
and we under the open sky. After this there came for-
ward, first, statues of all the famous ancient Romans,
then choruses of boys and men, intoning a kind of
mournful hymn to Pertinax. Next were all the sub-
ject nations, represented by bronze images, attired in
native garb. And the guilds in the City itself,— those

1 Reading it€vdtxwg (Sylburgius, Boissevain et al.)*

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of the lictors and the scribes and the heralds, and all
others of the sort,— followed on. Then came images
of other men who were famous for some deed or in-
vention or brilliant trait. Behind them were the
cavalry and infantry in armor, the race-horses, and
all the funeral offerings that the emperor and we and
our wives, together with distinguished knights and
peoples and the collegia of the city, had sent They were
accompanied by an altar, entirely gilded, the beauty
of which was enhanced by ivory and Indie jewels.
When these had gone by, Severus mounted the Plat- — 5 —
form of the Beaks and read a eulogy of Pertinax. We
shouted our approval many times in the midst of his
discourse, partly praising and partly bewailing Per-
tinax, but our cries were loudest when he had ceased.
Finally, as the couch was about to be moved, we all
together uttered our lamentations and all shed tears.
Those who carried the bier from the platform were the
high priests and the officials who were completing their
term of office, as well as any that had been appointed
for the ensuing year. These gave it to certain knights
to carry. The rank and file of us went ahead of the
bier, some beating our breasts and others playing on
the flute some dirge-like air; the emperor followed be-
hind all, and in 'this order we arrived at the Campus
Martins. Here there had been built a pyre, tower-
shaped and triple pointed, adorned with ivory and gold
together with certain statues. On its very summit
was lodged a gilded chariot that Pertinax had been
wont to drive. Into this the funeral offerings^ were

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cast and the bier was placed in it, and next Severos and
the relatives of Pertinax kissed the image. Onr
monarch ascended a tribunal, while we the senate, ex-
cept oflSdals, took our places on the benches, that with
safety and convenience alike we might view what went
on. The magistrates and the equestrian order, arrayed
in a manner becoming their station, besides the cavalry
of the army and the infantry, passed in and out per-
forming intricate evolutions, both traditional and
newly invented Th^i at length the consuls applied fire
to the mound, which being done an eagle flew up from,
it. In this way was immortality secured for Pertinax
[who (although bodies of men engaged in warfare
usually turn out savage and those given to peace cow-
ardly) excelled equally in both departments, being an
enemy to dread, yet shrewd in the arts of peace. His
boldness, wherein bravery appears, he displayed to-
wards foreigners and rebels, but his clemency, where-
with is mingled justice, towards friends and the
orderly elements of society. When advanced to pre-
side over the destinies of the world, he was never
ensnared by the increase of greatness so as to show
himself in some things more subservient and in others
more haughty than was fitting. He underwent no
change from the beginning to the very end, but was
august without sullenness, gentle without humiliating
lowliness, prudent, yet did no injury, just without in-
quisitorial qualities, a close administrator without
stinginess, high-minded, but devoid of boasts.]
••— Now Severus made a campaign against Niger. The

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latter was an Italian, one of the knights, r^narkable
for nothing either very good or very bad, so that one
could either greatly praise or greatly censure him.
[Wherefore he had been assigned to Syria by Corn-
modus.] He had as a lieutenant, together with others,
jgEknilianus, who [by remaining neutral and watching
the course of events] was thought to surpass all the
senators of that day in understanding and in experi-
ence of affairs ; for he had been tested in many prov-
inces. [These conditions and the fact that he was a
relative of Albinus had made him conceited.]

[Niger was not in general a well-balanced man and (—7—)
though he had very great abilities still fell into error.
But at this time he was more than usually elated, so
that he showed how much he liked those who called
him '* the new Alexander ^*; and when one man asked,
*' Who gave you permission to do thist *'he pointed
to his sword and rejoined, *' This did.*' When the (— e— )
war broke out Niger had gone to Byzantium and from
that point conducted a campaign against Perinthus.
He was disturbed, however, by unfavorable omens that
came to his notice. An eagle perdied upon a military
shrine and remained there till captured, in spite of at-
tempts to scare it away. Bees made wax around the
military standards and about his images most of alL
Tor these reasons he retired to Byzantium.

Now jShnilianus while engaged in conflict with some a. d. 194
of the generals of Severus near Cyzicus was defeated
by them and slain. After this, between the narrows
of Nicaea and Cius, they had a great war of various

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A ^'}?nx forms. Some battled in dose formation on the plains;

(a. u. 947) ^ ^ '

others occnpied the hill-crests and hurled stones and
javelins at their opponents from the higher ground;
still others got into boats and discharged their bows at
the enemy from the lake. At first the adherents of
Severus, nnder the direction of Candidus, were vic-
torious; for they found their advantage in the higher
ground from which they fought. But the moment
Niger himself appeared a pursuit in turn was insti-
tuted by Niger ^s men and victory was on their side.
Then Candidus caught hold of the standard bearers
and turned them to face the enemy, upbraiding the
soldiers for their flight; at this his followers were
ashamed, turned back, and once more conquered those
opposed to them. Indeed, they would have destroyed
them utterly, had not the city been near and the night
a dark one.

The next event was a tremendous battle at Issue,
near the so-called Gates. In this contest Valerianus
and Anullinus^ commanded the army of Severus,
whereas Niger was with his own ranks and marshaled
them for war. This pass, the Cilician ** Gates '',* is so
named on account of its narrowness. On the one side
rise precipitous mountains, and on the other sheer
cliffs descend to the sea. So Niger had here made a
camp on a strong hill, and he put in front heavy-armed
soldiers, next the javelin slingers and stone throwers,
and behind all the archers. His purpose was that the
foremost might thrust back such as assailed them in

1 p. CameUua Anullinut,

9 Compare Xenophon's AnaboHa, I, 4, 4-5.

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hand-to-hand conflict, while the others from a distance /^ u.'^^)
might be able to bring their force into play over the
heads of the others. The detachment on the left and
that on the right were defended by the sea-crags and
by the forest, which had no issue. This is the way in
which he arranged his army, and he stationed the


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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 20 of 24)