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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 22 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 22 of 24)
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Lugdunum is now to be described. At the outset there (a. u! 960)
were a hundred and fifty thousand soldiers on each
side. Both leaders took part in the war, since it was
a race for life and death, though Severus had pre-
viously not been present at any important battle.
Albinus excelled in rank and in education, but his ad-
versary was superior in warfare and was a skillful
commander. It happened that in a former battle Al-
binus had conquered Lupus, one of the generals of
Severus, and had destroyed many of the soldiers at-
tending him. The present conflict took many shapes
and turns. The left wing of Albinus was beaten and
sought refuge behind the ramx>art, whereupon Sev-
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A. D. 107 ems's soldiers in their pursuit burst into the enclosure

(a. u. 950)

with them, slau^tered their opponents and plundered
their tents. Meantime the soldiers of Albinus arrayed
on the right wing, who had trenohes hidden in front
of them and pits in the earth covered over only on the
surface, approached as far as these snares and hurled
javelins from a distance. They did not go very far
but turned back as if frightened, with the purpose of
drawing their foes into pursuit This actually took
place. Severus^s men, nettled by their brief charge
and despising them for their retreat after so short an
advance, rushed upon them without a thought that the
whole intervening space could not be easily traversed*
When they reached the trenches they were involved in
a fearful catastrophe. The men in the front ranks as
soon as the surface covering broke through fell into
the excavations and those immediately behind stum-
bled over them, slipped, and likewise fell. The rest
crowded back in terror, their retreat being so sudden
that they themselves lost their footing, upset those in
the rear, and pushed them into a deep ravine. Of
course there was a terrible slaughter of these soldiers
as well as of those who had fallen into the trenches,
horses and men perishing in one wild mass. In the
midst of this tumult the warriors between the ravine
and the trenches were annihilated by showers of stones
and. arrows.

Severus seeing this came to their assistance with
the Pretorians, but this step proved of so little benefit
that he came near causing the ruin of the Pretorians
and himself ran some risk through the loss of a horse.

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When he saw all his men in flight, he tore off his rid- ^ ^'HL
ing cloak and drawing his sword rushed among the
fugitives, hoping either that they would be ashamed
and turn back or that he might himself perish with
them. Some did stop when they saw him in such an
attitude, and turned back. Brought in this way face
to face with the men dose behind them they cut down
not a few of them, thinking them to be followers of
Albinus, and routed all their pursuers. At this mo-
ment the cavalry under Lsstus came up from the side
and decided the rest of the issue for them. Laetus, so
long as the struggle was close, remained inactive, hop-
ing that both parties would be destroyed and that
whatever soldiers were left on both sides would give
him supreme authority. When, however, he saw Sev-
erus's party getting the upper hand, he contributed to
the result. So it was that Severus conquered.

Boman power had suffered a severe blow, since the —7—
numbers that fell on each side were beyond reckoning.
Many even of the victors deplored the disaster, for
the entire plain was seen to be covered with the bodies
of men and horses. Some of them lay there exhausted
by many wounds, others thoroughly mangled, and still
others unwounded but buried under heaps. Weapons
had been tossed about and blood flowed in streams,
even swelling the rivers. Albinus took refuge in a
house located near the Rhone, but when he saw all its
environs guarded, he slew himself. I am not telling
what Severus wrote about it, but what actually took
place. The emperor after inspecting his body and
feasting his eyes upon it to the full while he let his

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A ^'950) *^^fi^® indulge in appropriate utterances, ordered it,
— all but the hecid,— to be cast out, and that he srat
to Borne to be exposed on a cross. As he showed
clearly by this action that he was very far from being
an excellent ruler, he alarmed even more than before
the populace and us by the commands which he issued.
Now that he had vanquished all forces under arms he
poured out upon the unarmed all the wrath he had
nourished against them during the previous period.
He terrified us most of all by declaring himself the
son of Marcus and brother of Commodus ; and to Corn-
modus, whom but recently he was wont to abuse, he
gave heroic honors. While reading before the senate
a speech in which he praised the severity and cruelty
of Sulla and Marius and Augustus as rather the safer
course, and deprecated the clemency of Pompey and
Caesar because it had proved their ruin, he introduced
a defence of Commodus, and inveighed against the sen-
ate for dishonoring him unjustly though the majority
of their own body lived even worse lives. *' For if '^
said he, ** this is abominable, that he with his own
hands should have killed beasts, yet at Ostia yester-
day or the day before one of your number, an old man
that had been consul, indulged publicly in play with a
prostitute who imitated a leopard. * He fought as a
gladiator,' do you say? By Jupiter, does none of you
fight as gladiator? If not, how is it and for what pur-
pose that some persons have bought his shields and
the famous golden helmets? '* At the conclusion of
this reading he released thirty-five prisoners charged
with having taken Albinus's side and behaved toward

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them as if they had incurred no charge at all. They ^- ^- J^J
were among the foremost members of the senate. He
condemned to death twenty-nine men, as one of whom
was reckoned Sulpicianus, the father-in-law of Per-
tinax.

^All pretended to sympathize with Sevems but were confuted as
often as a sudden piece of news arriyed, not being able to conceal
the sentiments hidden in their hearts. When off their guard they
started at reports which happened to assail their ears without warning.
In such ways, as well as through facial expression and habits of behavior,
the feelings of every one of them became manifest. Some also by an
excess of affectation only betrayed their attitude the more.

Severus endeavored in the case of those who were lxxiv, 9, 5

receiving vengeance at his hands*

to employ Erucins Clarus^ as informer against them,
that he might both put the man in an unpleasant posi-
tion and be thought to have more fully justified con-
viction in view of his witnesses family and reputation.
He promised Clarus to grant him safety and immunity.
But when the latter chose rather to die than to make
any such revelations, he turned to JuUanus and per-
suaded him to play the part. For this willingness he
released him in so far as not to kill nor disenfranchise
him; but he carefully verified all his statements by
tortures and regarded as of no value his existing
reputation.]

[In Britain at this period, because the Caledonians ^^^\^j
did not abide by their promises but made preparations («• <»• «50)
to aid the Maeatians, and because Severus at the time
was attending to the war abroad, Lupus was compelled

1 Some words appear to have fallen out at this point (so Dindorf).
2. C luUua Eruciua Clarus Vibianua.

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(^ ^iso) ^ P^irchase peace for the Msatians at a high figure,
and recovered some few captives.]
—9— The next thing Severus did was to make a campaign

(a. I*/ 951) against the Parthians. While he was bnsied with civil
wars, they had been free from molestation and had
thus been able by an expedition in full force to capture
Mesopotamia. They also came very near reducing
Nisbis, and would have done so, had not Laetus, who
was besieged there, preserved the place. Though pre-
viously noted for other political and private and pub-
lic excellences, in peace as well as in wars, he derived
even greater glory from this exploit. Severus on
reaching the aforesaid Nisibis encountered an enor-
mous boar. With its charge it killed a horseman who,
trusting to his own strength, attempted to run it down,
and it was with difficulty stopped and killed by miany
soldiers, — thirty being the number required to stop
it; the beast was then conveyed to Severus.

The Parthians did not wait for him but retired
homeward. (Their leader was VologaBSUs, whose
brother was accompanying Severus.) Hence Severus
equipped boats on the Euphrates and reached him
partly by marching, partly by sailing. The newly con-
structed vessels were exceedingly manageable and well
appointed, for the forest along the Euphrates and
those r^ons in general afforded the emperor an abun-
dant supply of timber. Thus he soon had seized
Seleucia and Babylon, both of which had been aban-
doned. Subsequently he captured Ctesiphon and per-
mitted his soldiers to plunder the whole town, causing

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a great slaughter of men and taking nearly ten myriads ^ ^' ^^f.
alive. However, he did not pursue Vologaesus nor yet
occupy Ctesiphon, but as if the sole purpose of his
campaign had been to plunder it, he thereupon de-
parted. This action was due partly to lack of ac-
quaintance with the country and partly to dearth of
provisions. His return was made by a different route,
because the wood and fodder found on the previous
route had been exhausted. Some of his soldiers made
their retreat by land along the Tigris, following the
stream toward its source, and some on boats.

Next, Severus crossed Mesopotamia and made *^ A'D^^Mm
attempt on Hatra, which was not far off, but accom-
plished nothing. In fact, even the engines were
burned, many soldiers perished, and vast numbers
were wounded. Therefore Severus retired from the
place and shifted his quarters. While he was at war,
he also put to death two distinguished men. The first
was Julius Crispus, a tribune of the Pretorians. The
cause of his execution was that indignant at the dam-
age done by the war he had casually uttered a verse
of the poet Maro, in which one of the soldiers fighting
on the side of Tumus against .tineas bewails his lot
and says: ** To enable Tumus to marry Lavinia we
are meanwhile perishing, without heed being paid to
us.^'* Severus made Valerius, the soldier who had
accused him, tribune in his place. The other whom he
killed was Laetus, and the reason was that Laetus was
proud and was beloved by the soldiers. They often
said they would not march, unless Laetus would lead

1 Two and a half lines beginning with Terse 371 in Book Eleven of
Virgil's Aeneid.

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i>. iWKt) ti^^m^ Th^ responsibility for this murder, for whidi
he had no clear reason save jealousy, he fastened upon
the soldiers, making it appear that they had ventored
upon the act contrary to his will.

— 11 — After laying in a large store of food and preparing
^ many engines he in person again led an attadc upon
Hatra. He deemed it a disgrace, now that other
points had been subdued, that this one alone, occupy-
ing a central position, should continue to resist. And
he lost a large amount of money and all his engines
except those of Prisons, as I stated earlier,^ besides
many soldiers. Numbers were annihilated in foraging
expeditions, as the barbarian cavalry (I mean Ihat of
the Arabians) kept everywhere assailing them with
precision and violence. The archery of the Atreni,
too, was effective over a very long range. Some mis-
siles they hurled from engines, striking many of Sev-
erus's men-at-arms, for they discharged two missiles
in one and the same shot and there were also many
hands and many arrows to inflict injury. They did
their assailants the utmost damage, however, when
the latter approached the wall, and in an even greater
degree after they had broken down a little of it. Then
they threw at them among other things the bituminous
naphtha of which I wrote above' and set fire to the
engines and all the soldiers that were struck with it
Severus observed proceedings from a lofty tribunaL

_18«. A portion of the outer circuit had fallen in one place
and all the soldiers were eager to force their way in-

1 Compare Book Seventy-four, chapter 11.

s Compare the beginning of Book Thirty-six (Bupplied from Xiphil-
inuB).

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side the remainder, when Severus checked them from ^ ^- 2^^>
doing so by giving orders that the signal for retreat
be sounded clearly on all sides. The fame of the place
was great, since it contained enormous offerings to
the Sun God and vast stores of valuables ; and he ex-
pected that the Arabians would voluntarily come to
terms in order to avoid being forcibly captured and
enslaved. When, after letting one day elapse, no one
made any formal proposition to him, he commanded
the soldiers again to assault the wall, though it had
been built up in the night. The Europeans who had
the power to accomplish something were so angry that
not one of them would any longer obey him, and some
others, Syrians, compelled to go to the assault in their
stead, were miserably destroyed. Thus Heaven, that
rescued the city, caused Severus to recall the soldiers
that could have entered it, and in turn when he later
wished to take it caused the soldiers to prevent him
from doing so. The situation placed Severus in sudi
a dilemma that when some one of his followers prom-
ised him that, if he would give him only five hundred
and fifty of the Europeans, he would get possession of
the city without any risk to the rest, the emperor said
within hearing of all : * * And where can I get so many
soldiers? '* (referring to the disobedience of the sol-
diers).
Having prosecuted the siege for twenty days he T"??"^

£^m Urn iSUU

next came to Palestine and sacrificed to the spirit of (a. u. 963)
Pompey: and into [upper] Egypt [he sailed along the
Nile and viewed the whole country, with some small
exceptions. For instance, he was unable to pass the

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<t'?.'9W) fro^ti^r of Ethiopia on account of pestilence.] And
he made a search of everything, including what was
very carefully hidden, for he was the sort of man to
leave nothing, human or divine, uninvestigated. Fol-
lowing this tendency he drew from practically all their
hiding places all the books that he could find contain-
ing anything secret, and he closed the monument of
Alexander, to the end that no one should either behold
his body any more or read what was written in these
books.

This was what he did. For myself, there is no need
that I should write in general about Egypt, but what
I know about the Nile through verifying statements
from many sources I am bound to mention. It
clearly rises in Mount Atlas. This lies in Macen-
nitis, close to the Western ocean itself, and towers far
above all mountains, wherefore the poets have called
it ** Pillar of the Sky ^\ No one ever ascended its
summits nor saw its topmost peaks. Hence it is al-
ways covered with snow, which in summer time sends
down great quantities of water. The whole country
about its base is in general marshy, but at this season
becomes even more so, with the result that it swells
the size of the Nile at harvest time. This is the river's
source, as is evidenced by the crocodiles and other
beasts that are bom alike on both sides of it Let no
one be surprised that we have made pronouncements
unknown to the ancient Greeks. The Macennitae live
near lower Mauretania and many of the people who
go on campaigns there also visit Atlas. It is thus that
the matter stands.

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Plautianus, who enjoyed the special favor of Sev- tI^ZHa

JBL» Urn SSUv

eras and had the authority of prefect, besides pos- <»• «. 963)
sessing the fullest and greatest influence on earth,
had put to death many men of renown and his own

peers [After killing -^Jmilius Saturninus

he took away all the most important prerogatives be-
longing to the minor oflBcers of the Pretorians, his
subordinates, in order that none of them might be
so elated by his position of eminence as to lie in wait
for the captaincy of the body-guards. Already it was
his wish to be not simply the only but a perpetual pre-
fect.] He wanted everything, asked everything from
everybody, and got everything. He left no province
and no city unplundered, but sacked and gathered
everything from all sides. All sent a great deal more
to him than they did to Severus. Finally he sent cen-
turions and stole tiger-striped horses sacred^ to the
Sun God from the island in the Bed Sea. This mere
statement, I think, must instantly make plain all his
officiousness and greediness. Yet, on second thought,
I will add one thing more. At home he castrated one
hundred nobly born Boman citizens, though none of
us knew of it until after he was dead. From this fact
one may comprehend the extent alike of his lawless-
ness and of his authority. He castrated not merely
boys or youths, but grown men, some of whom had
wives; his object was that Plautilla his daughter
(whom Antoninus afterward married) should be
waited upon entirely by eunuchs [and also have them
to give her instruction in music and other branches of
art. So yre beheld the same persons eunuchs and men,

1 Supplying Upou^ (Reiske's conjecture).

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(oI?*963) ^***^^^® ^^^ impotent, gelded and bearded. In view
of this one might not improperly declare that Plau-
tianns had power beyond all men, over even the em-
perors themselves. For one thing, his portrait statues
were not only far more numerous but also larger than
theirs, and this not simply in outside citiee but in
Rome itself, and they were at this time reared not
merely by individuals but by no less a body than the
senate itself. All the soldiers and the senators took
oaths by his Fortune and all publicly offered prayer
for his preservation.

The person principally responsible for this state of
affairs was Severus himself. He yielded to Plautianus
in all matters to such a degree that the latter occupied
the position of emperor and he himself that of prefect
In short, the man knew absolutely everything that Sev-
erus said and did, but not a person was acquainted
with any of Plautianus ^s secrets. The emperor made
advances to his daughter on behalf of his own son,
passing by many other maidens of high rank. He ap-
pointed him consul and virtually showed an anxiety to
have him for successor in the imperial oflBce. Indeed,
once he did say in a letter: ** I love the man so much
that I pray to die before he does.''

80 that some one actually dared to write

to him as to a fourth Cesar.

f Though many decrees in his honor were passed by the senate he
accepted only a few of them, saying to the senators: "It is through
jour hearts that you show your love for me, not through your decrees.''

At temporary stopping-places he endured seeing
biTn located in superior quarters and enjoying better
and more abundant food than he. Hence in Nietea

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(my native country) when he once wanted a hammer- ^ ^- ^,

^ -^ "^ ' (a. u. 953)

fishy large specimens of which are found in the lake,
he sent to Plautianus to get it. So if he thought at all
of doing aught to diminish this minister's leadership,
yet the opposite party, which contained far greater
and more brilliant members, saw to it that any such
plan was frustrated. On one occasion Severus went
to visit him, when he had fallen sick at Tyana, and the
soldiers attached to Plautianus would not allow the
visitor's escort to enter with him. Moreover, the per-
son who arranged cases to be pled before Severus was
once ordered by the latter in a moment of leisure to
bring forward some case or other, whereupon the fel-
low refused, saying: ** I can not do this, unless Plau-
tianus bid me." So greatly did Plautianus have the
mastery in every way over the emperor that he [fre-
quently treated] Julia Augusta [in an outrageous
way, — for he detested her cordially,— and] was al-
ways abusing [her violently] to Severus, and con-
ducted investigations against her as well as tortures
of noble women. For this reason she b^an to study
philosophy and passed her days in the company of
learned men.— As for Plautianus, he proved himself
the most licentious of men, for he would go to ban-
quets and vomit meantime, inasmuch as the mass of
foods and wine that he swallowed made it impossible
for him to digest anything. And whereas he made use
of lads and girls in perfectly notorious fashion, he
would not permit his own wife to see or be seen by any
person whomsoever, not even by Severus or Julia [to
say nothing of others].

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ArD^2oo ^^ *^® period there took place also a gymnastio'
(a. u. 963) contest, at which so great a multitude assembled under
compulsion that we wondered how the race-course
could hold them alL And in this contest Alamanni*
women fought most ferociously, with the result that
jokes were made about other ladies, who were very
distinguished. Therefore, from this time on every
woman, no matter what her origin, was prohibited
from fighting in the arena.

On one occasion a good many images of Plautianus
were made (what happened is worth relating) and
Severus, being displeased at their number, melted
down some of them. As a consequence a rumor pene-
trated the cities to the effect that the prefect had been
overthrown and had perished. So some of them de-
molished his images, — an act for which they were
afterward punished. Among these was the governor
of Sardinia, Bacius Constans, a very famous man,
whom I have mentioned, however, for a particular
reason. The orator who accused Constans had made
this statement in addition to others: ** Sooner may
the sky collapse than Plautianus suffer any harm at the
hands of Severus, and with greater cause might any
one believe even that report, were any story of the
sort circulated.^' Now, though the orator made this
declaration, and though moreover Severus himself
volubly affirmed it to us, who were helping him try the
case, and stated ** it is impossible for Plautianus to
come to any harm at my hands,'* still, this very Plau-

1 Reading j^u/uftxiBy tor ^uvatx&v^ which is possibly corrupt.

2 Reading ^AXofAdwac for dXe»fuvat, which is undoubtedly corrupt.

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tianas did not live the year out, but was slain and all ^' ^- 2(H)

•^ ' (a. u. 963)

his images destroyed. — Previous to this a vast sea-
monster had come ashore in the harbor named for
Augustus, and had been captured. A representation
of him, taken into the hunting-theatre, admitted fifty
bears in its interior. Again, for many days a comet
star had been seen in Bome and was said to portend
nothing favorable.



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ROMAN HISTORY

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vol. 6 — 24 369



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F«ftiTitiet on aooannt of Sevenu'i deoenniali the marriage of
AjLtoninni and vietoriei (chapter 1).

Death of Plautianni (chapters 2-4).

The friendi and children of Plantianni are persecuted by
Severof (chapters 5-8).

Abont Bulla Felix, a noble brigand (chapter 10).

Severus's campaign in Britain: an account of the Britoni
(chapters ll^ 12).

After traversing the whole of Britain Severus makes peace
(chapter 13).

How Antoninus desired to slay his father (chapter 14).

Death of Severus Augustus and a summary view of his life
(chapters 16-17).

DURATION OF TIME.

L. Septimius Severus Aug. (Ill), X. Aur. Antoninus Aug.
(A. D. 202 = a. u. 966 = Tenth of Severus, from the Calends of
June.)

P. Septimius Oeta, Fulvius Plautianus (II). (A. D. 203 =
a. u. 866 =1 Eleventh of Severus.)

L. Fabius Septimius Gilo (II), L. Flavins libo. (A. D. 204 =
a. u. 967 = Twelfth of Severus.)

M. Aur. Antoninus Aug. (11), P.Septimius Oeta Csesar. (A. D.
206 =) a. u. 968 = Thirteenth of Severus.)

Hummius Albinus, Fulv. JSmilianus. (A. D. 206 =: a. u. 959
= Fourteenth of Severus.)


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 22 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 22 of 24)