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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 21 of 24)
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beasts of burden close to it, in order that none of them
should be able to flee in case they should wish it.
Anullinus after making all this out placed in advance
the heavier part of his force and behind it his entire
light-armed contingent, to the end that the latter,
though discharging their weapons from a distance
might still retard the progress of the enemy, while the
solidity of the advance guard rendered the upward
passage safe for them. The cavalry he sent with
Valerianus, bidding him, so far as he could, go around
the forest and xmexpectedly fall upon the troops of
Niger from the rear. When they came to close quar-
ters, the soldiers of Severos placed some of their
shields in front of them and held some above their
heads, making a testudo, and in this formation they
approached the enemy. So the battle waa a drawn one
for a long while, but eventually Niger's men got de-
cidedly the advantage both by their numbers and by
the topography of the country. They would have been
entirely victorious, had not clouds gathered out of a
clear sky and a wind arisen from a perfect cahn, while
there were crashes of thunder and sharp flashes of
lightning and a violent rain beat in their faces. This
did not trouble Severus's troops because it was behind

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— 8 —



DIOS ROMAN HISTORY

(t u.^m *^^^> ^^* threw Niger's men into great confusion since
it came right against them. Most important of all, the
opportnne character of this occarrence infnsed courage
in the one side, which believed it was aided by Heaven,
and fear in the other, which felt that the supernatural
was warring against them; thus it made the former
strong even beyond its own strength and terrified the
latter in spite of real power. Just as they were fleeing
Valerianus came in sight Seeing him, they turned
about, and after that, as Anullinus beat them back, re-
treated once more. Then they wandered about, run-
ning this way and that way, to see where they could
break through.

It turned out that this was the greatest slaughter to
take place during the war in question. Two myriads
of Niger's followers perished utterly. The fact was
indicated also by the priest's vision. While Severus
was in Pannonia, the priest of Jupiter saw in a vision
a black man force his way into the emperor's camps
and meet his death by superior numbers. And by
turning the name of Niger into Greek people recog-
nized that he was the one meant by the '* black " per-
son mentioned. Directly Antioch had been captured
(not long after) Niger fled from it, making the Eu-
phrates his objective point, for he intended to seek
refuge among the barbarians. His pursuers, however,
overtook him; he was taken and had his head struck
off. This head Severus sent to Byzantium and caused
to be reared on a cross, that the sight of it mig^t
incline the Byzantines to his cause. The next move of

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Severus was to mete out justice to those who had ^ ^' ^^*
belonged to Niger's party. [Of the cities and indi-
viduals he chastised some and rewarded others. He
^ecated no Boman senator, but deprived most of them
of their property and confined them on islands. He
was merciless in his search for money. Among other
measures he exacted four times the amount that any
individuals or peoples had given to Niger, whether
fhey had done so voluntarily or under compulsion.
He himself doubtless perceived the injustice of it,^ but
as he required great sums, he paid no attention to the
common talk.

Cassius Clemens, a senator, while on trial before — •—
Severus himself, did not hide the truth but spoke with
such frankness as the following report will show:

'* 1,^' he said, '* was acquainted with neither you
nor Niger, but as I found myself in his part of the
world, I accepted the situation heartily, not with the
idea of being hostile to you but with the purpose of
deposing Julianus. I have, then, committed no wrong
in this, since I labored originally for the same ends as
you, nor should I be censured for failing to desert the
master whom I had once secured by the will of Heaven
and for not transferring my allegiance to you. You
would not yourself have liked to have your intimate
circle and fellow judges here betray your cause and
go over to him. Examine therefore not our bodies nor
our names but the events themselves. For in every
point in which you condemn us you will be passing sen-

1 The MS. text ii faulty, and the translation, ventared inde^endentlj,
corresponds approximatelj to a suggestion bj van Herwerden in Boisse-
▼ain's edition.

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1^" ^'2^^ tence apon yourself and your associatea. However
secure you may be from conviction in any suit or by
any court finding, still, in the report of men, of which
an eternal memory shall survive, you will be repre-
sented as making against yourself the same diarges as
have led to punishment* in the case of others/'—
Severus admired this man for his frankness and al-
lowed him to keep half his property.

[Many who had never even seen Niger and had not
cooperated with him were victims of abuse on the
charge that they had been members of his party.]
— 10— The Byzantines performed many remarkable deeds
(a. u\ 948) l^th during the life and after the death of Niger.
This city is favorably located with reference both to
the continents and to the sea that lies between them,
and is strongly intrenched by the nature of its position
as well as by that of the Bosporus. The town sits on
high ground extending into the sea. The latter, rush-
ing down from the Pontus with the speed of a moun-
tain torrent assails the headland and in part is di-
verted to the right, forming there the bay and harbors.
But the greater part of the water passes on with great
energy past the city itself toward the Propontis.
Moreover, the place had walls that were very strong.
Their face was constructed of thick squared stones,
fastened together by bronze plates, and the inner side
of it had been strengthened with mounds and buildings
so that the whole seemed to be one thick wall and the
top of it formed a circuit betraying no flaws and easy
to guard. Many large towers occupied an exposed

1 Supplying, with Reiske^ tfoc > . . . xoXac^^vat,

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position outside it, wiUi windows set close together on ^ ^- i^'
every side so that those assaulting the fortification in
a circle wonld be cat off between them. Being built at
a short distance from the wall and not in a regular
line, but one here and another there over a rather
crooked route, they were sure to command both sides
of any attacking party. Of the entire circuit the part
on the land side reached a great height so as to repel
any who came that way: the portion next to the sea
was lower. There, the rocks on whidi it had been
reared and the dangerous character of the Bosporus
were effective allies. The harbors within the wall had
both been closed with chains and their breakwaters
carried towers projecting far out on each side, making
approach impossible for the enemy. And, in fine, the
Bosporus was of the greatest aid to the citizens. It
was quite inevitable that once any person became en-
tangled in its current he should willy-nilly be cast up
on the land. This was a feature quite satisfactory to
friends, but impossible for foes to deal with.

It was thus that Byzantium had been fortified. The — u —
engines, besides, the whole length of the wall, were of
the most varied description. In one place they threw
rocks and wooden beams upon parties approaching
and in another they discharged stones and missiles
and spears against such as stood at a distance. Hence
over a considerable extent of territory no one could
draw near them without danger. Still others had
hooks, which they would let down suddenly and shortly
after draw up boats and machines. Prisons, a f ellow-

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^ ^' }^^. citizen of mine, had designed most of them, and this

(a. I*. 948) ' ^ '

fact both caused him to incur the death penalty and
saved his life. For Severus, on learning his pro-
ficiency, prevented his being executed. Subsequentlj
he employed him on various missions, among others at
the siege of Hatra, and his contrivances were the only
ones not burned by the barbarians. He also furnished
the Byzantines with five hundred boats, mostly of one
bank, but some of two banks, and equipped with beaks.
A few of them were provided with rudders at both
ends, stem and prow, and had a double quota of pilots
and sailors in order that they might both attack and
retire without turning around and damage their oi>-
ponents while sailing back as well as while sailing
forward.
— 19— Many, therefore, were the exploits and sufferings ol
the Byzantines, since for the entire space of three
years they were besieged by the armaments of practi-
cally the whole world. A few of their experiences will
be m^itioned that seem almost marvelous. They cap-
tured, by making an opportune attack, some boats that
sailed by and captured also some of the trir^nes that
were in their opponrats' roadstead. This they did by
having divers cut their andi$^rs under water, aftei
which they drove nails into the ship's bottom and with
cords attached thereto and running from friendly ter-
ritory they would draw the vessel towards thent
Hence one might see the ships approaching shore hj
themselves, with no oarsman nor wind to urge th^n
forward. There were cases in which merdiants pur-

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posely allowed themselves to be captured by the -^ ^- iw

*^ "^ (a. i». 948)

ByzantmeSy though pretending unwillingness, and
after selling their wares for a huge price made their
escape by sea.

When all the supplies in the town had been exhausted a. d. 196
and the people had been set fairly in a strait with re-
gard to both their situation and the expectations that
might be founded upon it, at first, although beset by
great difficulties (because they were cut off from all
outside resources), they nevertheless continued to re-
sist; and to make ships they used lumber taken from
the houses and braided ropes of the hair of their
women. Whenever any troops assaulted the wall, they
would hurl upon th^n stones from the theatres, bronze
horses, and whole statues of bronze. When even their
normal food supply began to fail them, they proceeded
to soak and eat hides. Then these, too, were used up,
and the majority, having waited for rough water and a
squall so that no one might man a ship to oppose them,
sailed out with the determination either to perish or to
secure provender. They assailed the countryside with-
out warning and plundered every quarter indiscrimi-
nately. Those left behind committed B( monstrous
deed; for when they grew very faint, they turned
against and devoured one another.

This was the condition of the men in the city. The — is*-
rest, when they had laden their boats with more than
the latter could bear, set sail after waiting this time
also for a great storm. They did not succeed, how-
ever, in making any use of it The Bomans, noticing

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(a! u! 949) ^^^ *^®^^ vessels were overheavy and depressed al-
most to the water ^s edge^ put out against them. They
assaUed the company, which was scattered about as
wind and flood chose to dispose them, and really en-
gaged in nothing like a naval contest but crushed the
enemy's boats mercilessly, striking many with their
boat-hooks, ripping up many with their beaks, and
actually capsizing some by their mere onset. The
victims were unable to do anything, however much they
might have wished it : and when they attempted to flee
in any direction either they would be sunk by force of
the wind, which encountered them with the utmost vio-
lence, or else they would be overtaken by the enemy
and destroyed. The inhabitants of Byzantium, as they
watched this, for a time called unceasingly upon the
gods and kept uttering now one shout and now another
at the various events, according as each one was af-
fected by the spectacle or the disaster enacted before
his eyes. But when they saw their friends perishing
all together, the united throng sent up a chorus of
groans and wailings, and thereafter they mourned for
the rest of the day and the whole night. The entire
number of wrecks proved so great that some drifted
upon the islands and the Asiatic coast, and the defeat
became known by these relics before it was reported.
The next day the Byzantines had the horror increased
even above what it had been. For, when the surf had
subsided, the whole sea in the vicinity of Byzantium
was covered with corpses and wrecks with blood, and
many of the remains were cast up on shore, with the

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resnlt that the catastrophe, now seen in its details, ap- /^' ^^^g.
peared even worse than when in process of consumma-
tion.

The Byzantines straightway, though against their — 14—
will, surrendered their city. The Bomans executed all
the soldiers and magistrates except the pugilist who
had greatly aided the Byzantines and injured the
Bomans. He perished also, for in order to make the
soldiers angry enough to destroy him he immediately
hit one with his fist and with a leap gave another a
violent kick.

Severus was so pleased at the capture of Byzantium
that to his soldiers in Mesopotamia (where he was at
this time) he said unreservedly: **We have taken
Byzantium, tool ^' He deprived the city of its inde-
pendence and of its civil rank, and made it tributary,
confiscating the property of the citizens. He granted
the town and its territory to the Perinthians, and the
latter, treating it after the manner of a village, com-
mitted innumerable outrages. So far he seemed in a
way to be justified in what he did. His demolition of
the walls of the city grieved the inhabitants no more
than did the loss of that reputation which the appear-
ance of the walls had caused them to enjoy; and inci-
dentally he had abolished a strong Boman outpost and
base of operations against the barbarians from the
Pontus and Asia. I was one that viewed the walls
after they had fallen, and a person would have judged
that they had been taken by some other people than
the Bomans. I had also seen them standing and had
heard them ** speak.*' There were seven towers ex-

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A. D. 106 tending from the Thracian gates to the sea. If a man

(a. «. 949)

approached any of these bnt the first, it was silent; bnt
if he shouted a few words at that one or threw a stone
at it, it not only echoed and spoke itself but caused
the second to do the same thing. In this way the sound
passed through them all aliie, and they did not inter-
rupt one another^ but all in their prqper turn, one re-
ceiving the impulse from the one before it, took up the
echo and the voice and sent it on.



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Serenii'i war agtintt the Onrhoeni, Adiabeni, tad AiaUanf
(ohaptert 1-S).

Seremi't war againit Albiniu Cstar (ohapten 4, 6).

How Albiniu was Yanqmihed by Seremi and periihed (ohi^-
ten6, 7).

The arrogance of Seyemi after hit victory (chapten 7, 8).

SeYenu'i Parthian expedition (chapter 9).

How he besieged the Atreni, but fonnd his endearon fruit-
less (chapters 10-12).

How he started for Egypt: and about the sonroe of the Hile
(chapter IS).

About the power and tyrannous conduct of Plautianus (chap-
ters 14-16).

DURATION OF TIME.

Scapula Tertnllus, Tineius Clemens. (A. D. 195 =? a. u. MS
= Third of SeyeruSy from the Calends of June.)

C. Domitius Dexter (11), L. Valerius Hessala Prisons. (A. D.
196 = a. u. 949 = Fourth of Severus.)

Ap. Claudius Lateranus, Buflnus. (A. D. 197 =^ a. u. 9S0 =r
Fifth of Sererus.

TL Satuminus, C. Oallus. (A. D. 19S:=qa. u. 951 = 8ixth of
SeYerof.)

P. Cornelius Anullinus, H. Aulldius Fronto. (A. D. 199 ==
a. u. 962 = Seyenth of Seyerus.)

TL Claudius Seyerus, C. Aulldius Victorinus. (A. D. 200 =
a. u. 953 =: Eighth of Seyems.)

L. Annius Fabianus, H. Nonius Hucianus. (A. D. 201 =
a. u. 954 = Ninth of Seyerus.)

L. Septimius Seyerus Aug. (Ill), M. Aurel. Antoninus Aug.
(A. D. 202 = a. u. 955 => Tenth of Seyerus.)



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Of such a nature were the walls of Byzantium. Dur- ^^'[g^
ing the progress of this siege Severus out of a desire (<»• «• W8)
for fame had made a campaign against the barba-
rians,— the Osrhoeni, the Adiabeni, and the Arabians.
[The Osrhoeni and Adiabeni having revolted were be-
sieging Nisibis: defeated by Severus they sent an
embassy to him after the death of Niger, not to beg
his clemency as wrongdoers but to demand reciprocal
favors, pretending to have brought about the outcome
for his benefit. It was for his sake, they said, that
they had destroyed the soldiers who belonged to
Niger's party. Indeed, they sent a few gifts to him
and promised to. restore the captives and whatever
spoils were left. However, they were not willing
either to abandon the walled towns they had captured
or to accept the imposition of tributes, but they de-
sired those in existence to be lifted from the country.
It was this that led to the war just mentioned.]

When he had crossed the Euphrates and invaded —t-^
hostile territory, where the country was destitute of
water and at this summer season had become espe-
cially parched, he came dangerously near losing great
numbers of soldiers. Wearied as they were by their
tramping and the hot sun, clouds of dust that they
encountered harrassed them greatly, so that they could
no longer walk nor yet speak, but only utter the word
** Water, water!'' When [moisture] appeared, on
account of [its] strangeness it attracted no more at-
tention than if it had not been found, till Severus called
for a cup, and having filled it with water drank it

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(o^' u.'us) <JowJi ^ ^^ view of alL Upon this some others like-
wise drank and were invigorated. Soon after Seve-
ms entered Nisibis and himself waited there, bat
despatched Lateranns and Candidas and Laetus sev-
erally among the aforementioned barbarians. These
npon attaining their goals proceeded to lay waste the
land of the barbarians and to capture their cities.
While Sevems was greatly priding himself npon this
achievement and feeling that he surpassed all man-
kind in both understanding and bravery, a most unex-
pected event took place. One Claudius, a robber, who
overran Judaea and Syria and was sought for in con-
sequence with great hue and cry, came to him one day
with horsemen, like some military tribune, and saluted
and kissed him. The visitor was not discovered at the
time nor was he later arrested. [And the Arabians,
because none of their neighbors was willing to aid
them, sent an embassy a second time to Sevems mak-
ing quite reasonable propositions. Still, they did not
obtain what they wanted, inasmuch as they had not
come in person.]
— 8~ The Scythians, too, were in fighting humor, when at

(a. i».'949) this juncture during a deliberation of theirs thunder
and lightning-flashes with rain suddenly broke over
them, and thunderbolts began to fall, killing their
three foremost men. This caused them to hesitate.

Sevems again made three divisions of his army, and
giving one to Laetus, one to AnuUinus, and one to
Probus, sent them out against ABCHE ....;*

iThe MS. is corrupt. Adiabene, Atrene and Arbelitis haT« aU been
•uggested as the district to which Dio actually referred here.

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and they, invading it in three divisions, subdued it ^- ^' ^^^

(a. M. 049)

not without trouble. Severus bestowed some dignity
upon Nisibis and entrusted the city to the care of a
knight. He declared he had won a mighty territory
and had rendered it a bulwark of Syria. It is shown,
on the contrary, by the facts themselves that the place
is responsible for our constant wars as well as for
great expenditures. It yields very little and uses up
vast sums. And having extended our borders to in-
clude men who are neighbors of the Medes and Par-
thians rather than of ourselves, we are always, one
might say, fighting over those peoples.



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{BOOK 76, BOISSEVAIN.)

Before Severus had had time to recover breath — 4-
from his conflicts with the barbarians he found a civil
war on his hands with Albinns, his Caesar. Severus
after getting Niger out of the way was still not giving
him the rank of CaBsar and had ordered other details
in that quarter as he pleased; and Albinus aspired to
the preeminence of emperor.* While the whole world
was moved by this state of affairs we senators kept
quiet, at least so many of us as inclining openly
neither to one man nor the other yet shared their dan-
gers and hopes. But the populace could not restrain
itself and showed its grief in the most violent fashion.
It was at the last horse-race before the Saturnalia,
and a countless throng of people flocked to it. I too
was present at the spectacle because the consul was a
friend of mine and I heard distinctly everything that
was said, — a fact which renders me able to write a
little about it.

It came about in this way. There had gathered (as
I said) more people than could be computed and they
had watched the chariots contesting in six divisions
(which had been the way also in Oleander's time),
applauding no one in any manner, as was the custom.
When these races had ceased and the charioteers were
about to begin another event, then they suddenly en-

1 Omitting abrou (as Dindorf).

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joined silence npon one another and all clapped their
hands simultaneonsly, shonting, besides, and entreat-
ing good fortune for the pnblic welfare. They first
said this, and afterward, applying the terms ^^ Queen "
and ** Immortal ^' to Borne, they roared: ** How long
are we to suflFer such experiences f and ** Until when
must we be at warf And after making a few other
remarks of this kind they finally cried out: ** That's
all there is to it!" and turned their attention to the
equestrian contest. In all of this they were surely
inspired by some divine afflation. For not otherwise
could so many myriads of men have started to utter
the same shouts at the same time like some carefully
trained chorus or have spoken the words without mis-
take just as if they had practiced them.

This manifestation caused us still greater disturb-
ance as did also the fact that so great a &re was of a
sudden seen by night in the air toward the north that
some thought that the whole city and others that the
sky itself was burning. But the most remarkable fact
I have to chronicle is that in clear weather a fine sil-
very rain descended upon the forum of Augustus. I
did not see it in the air, but noticed it after it had fallen,
and with it I silverplated some small bronze coins.
These retained the same appearance for three days:
on the fourth all the substance rubbed upon them had
disappeared.
— ^— A certain Numerianus, who taught children their
letters, started from Bome for Galatia with I know
not what object, and by pretending to be a Boman
senator sent by Severus to gather an army he col-

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lected at first just a small force by means of which he
destroyed a few of Albinus's cavalry, whereupon he
unblushingly made some further promises in behalf
of Sevems. Sevems heard of this and thinking that
he was really one of the senators sent him a message
of praise and bade him acquire still greater power.
The man did acquire greater power and gave many
remarkable exhibitions of ability besides obtaining
seventeen hundred and fifty myriads of denarii, which
he forwarded to Severus. After the latter 's victory
Numerianus came to him, making no concealment, and
did not ask to become in very truth a senator. Indeed,
though he might have been exalted by great honors
and wealth; he did not choose to accept them, but
passed the r^nainder of his life in some country place,
receiving from the emperor some small allowance for
his daily subsistence.

The struggle between Severus and Albinus near .""•"T^-


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 21 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 21 of 24)