Copyright
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 23 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 23 of 24)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Aper, Kaximus. (A. D. 207 = a. u. 960 = Fifteenth of Sev-
erus.)

X. Aur. Antoninus Aug. (m), P. Septim. Oeta Csesar (11).
(A. D. 208 =: a. u. 961 =1 Sixteenth of Severus.)

Civioa Pompeianus, Lollianus Avitus. (A. D. 209 = a. u. 968
=; Seventeenth of Severus.)

K' Acilius Faustinus, Triarius Bufinus. (A. D. 210 = a. u.
963 = Eighteenth of Severus.)

Q. Epid. Buf . Lollianus Ctentianus, Pomponius Bassus. (A. B.
211 = a. u. 964 = nineteenth of Severus, to Feb, 4th.)



Digiti



zed by Google



{BOOK 77, BOISSEVAIN.)

Severus to celebrate the first decade of his reign pre- — * —

A. D. 202

sented to the entire populace accastomed to receive (a. i*. 966)
dole and to the soldiers of the pretorian guard gold
pieces equal in number to the years of his sovereignty.
He took the greatest delight in this achievement, and, as
a matter of fact, no one had ever before given so much
to whole masses of people. Upon this gift five hundred
myriads of denarii were expended. Another event was
the marriage between Antoninus, son of Severus, and
Plautilla, the daughter of Plautianus. The latter gave
as much for his daughter's dowry as would have suf-
ficed for fifty women of royal rank. We saw tl\e gifts
as they were being carried through the Forum into the
palace. We were banqueted, likewise, in the meantime,
partly in royal and partly in barbarian fashion on
whatever is regularly eaten cooked or raw, an4 we
received other animal food also alive. At this time,
too, there occurred all sorts of spectacles in honor of
Severus 's return, the completion of his first decade,
and his victories. At these spectacles sixty wild boars
of Plautianus upon a given signal began a combat with
one another, and there were slain (besides many other
beasts) an elephant and a crocotta.^ The last named

iHesycIiiuB says of this beast merely that it is a quadruped of
Ethiopia. Strabo calls it a cross between wolf and d(^.

Pliny (Natural History, VIII, 21 (30)) gives the n>llowing descrip-
tion:

" Crocottas are apparently the offspring of dog and wolf; they crush
all their food with their teeth and forthwith gulp it down to be assimi-
lated by the belly."

Again, of the Leucroootta:

«<A most destructive beast about the size of an ass^ with legs of a

371



Digiti



zed by Google



DIO'S ROMAN HISTORY

A. D. SMM5 animal is of Indiait origiiL and. was then for the first

(a. u. 955) ° '

time, so far as I am aware, introduced into Borne. It
has the skin of lion and tiger mingled and the appear-
ance of those animals, as also of the wolf and fox, cori-
onsly blended. The entire cage in the theatre had
been so constructed as to resemble a boat in form, so
that it would both receive and discharge four hundred
beasts at once,^ and then, as it suddenly fell apart,
there came rushing up bears, lionesses, panthers^ lions,
ostriches, wild asses, bisons (this is a kind of cattle of
foreign species and appearance),— the result being
that altogether seven hundred wild and tame beasts
at once were seen running about and were slaughtered.
For, to correspond with the duration of the festival,
seven days, the number of animals was also seven
times one hundred.
— s— On Mount Vesuvius a great gush of fire burst out
and there were bellowings mighty enough to be heard in
Capua, where I live whenever I am in Italy. This place
I have selected for various reasons, chief of which is
its quiet, that enables me to get leisure from city affairs
and to write on this compilation. As a result of the
Vesuvian phenomena it was believed that there would
be a change in the political status of Plautianus. In

deer, the neck, tail and breast of a lion, a badger's head, cloyen hoof,
mouth slit to the ears, and, in place of teeth, a solid line of bone."

Also, in VIII, 30 (45), he says:

''The lioness of Ethiopia by copulation vdth a hysna brings forth
the crocotta."

Capitolinus (Life of Antoninus Pius, 10, 9) remarks that the first
AntoninuB had exhibited the animal in Rome.

Further, see ^lian, VII« 22.

2 These cages were often made in various odd shapes and opened
Automatically. Compare the closing sentences of the preceding book.

372



Digiti



zed by Google



DIO'S ROMAN HISTORY

very tmth Plautianns had grown great and more than ^ ^n^.
greaty so that even the populace at the hippodrome ex-
claimed : * * Why do you tremble? Why are you pale t
You possess more than the three/ ^ They did not say
this to his face, of course, but differently. And by
** three ^* they indicated Severus and his sons, Antoni-
nus and Q^ta. Plautianns 's pallor and his trembling
were in fact due to the life that he lived, the hopes that
he hoped, and the fears that he feared. Still, for a time
most of this eluded Severus 's individual notice, or else
he knew it but pretended the opposite. When, how-
ever, his brother Geta om his deathbed revealed to him
the whole attitude of Plautianus,— for Geta hated the
prefect and now no longer feared him,— the emperor
set up a bronze statue of his brother in the Forum and
no longer held his minister in equal honor; indeed, the
latter was stripped of most of his power. Hence
Plautianus became violently enraged, and whereas he {a. u. 956)
had formerly hated Antoninus for slighting his daugh-
ter, he was now especially indignant, feeling that his
son-in-law was responsible for his present disgrace,
and began to behave more harshly toward him. For
these reasons Antoninus became both disgusted with
his wife (who was a most shameless creature), and
offended at her father himself, because the latter kept
meddling in all his undertakings and rebuking him for
everything that he did. Conceiving a desire to be rid
of the man in some way or other he accordingly had
Euodus^ his nurse, persuade a certain centurion,
Satumiaus, and two others of similar rank to bring

373



— 8 —



Digiti



zed by Google



DIO'S ROMAN HISTORY

A. D 203 ijijji word that Plaxitianus had ordered some ten cen-

(o. u. 956)

turions, to whose number they also belonged, to kill
both Sevems and Antoninus; and they read a certain
writing which they preteaided to have received bearing
upon this very matter. This was done as a surprise at
the observances held in the palace in honor of the
heroes, at a time when the spectacle had ceased and
dinner was about to be served. That fact was largely
instrumental in showing the story to be a fabrication.
Plautianus would never have dared to impose such a
bidding upon ten centurions at once, certainly not in
Rome, certainly not in the palace, nor on that day, nor
at that hour; much less would he have written it.
Nevertheless, Severus believed the information trusts
worthy because he had the night before seen in a dream
Albinus alive and plotting against him. In haste,
therefore, he summoned Plautianus, as if upon some
other business. The latter hurried so (or rather,
Heaven so indicated to him approaching disaster) that
the mules that were carrying him fell in the palace
yard. And when he sought to enter, the porters in
charge of the bolts admitted him alone inside and
would permit no one to enter with him, just as he him-
self had done in the case of Severus at Tyana. He
grew a little suspicious at this and became terrified;
as he had, however, no pretext for withdrawing, he
went in. Severus conversed with him very mildly:
'* Why have you seen fit to do this! For what reaaon
have you wished to kill usT^' He gave him oppor-
tunity to speak and prepared to listen to his defence.

374



— 4 —



Digiti



zed by Google



DIO'S ROMAN HISTORY

In the midst of the accused's denial and surprise at ,^- ^ $22 x

^ (a. K. 956)

what was said, Antoninus rushed up, took away his
sword, and struck him with his fist. He was ready to
put an end to Plautianus with his own hand after the
latter said : * * Ton wanted to get the start of me in any
killing! '* Being prevented, however, by his father,
Antoninus ordered one of his attendants to slay
Plautianus. Somebody plucked out a few hairs from
his chin and carried them to Julia and Plautilla (who
were together) before they had heard a word of the
affair, and said: ** Behold your Plautianus! '* This
speech aroused grief in one and joy in the other.

Thus the man who had possessed the greatest influ-
ence of all my contemporaries, so that everybody both
feared and trembled before him more than before the
very emperors,* the man who had hung poised upon
greater hopes than they, was slain by his son-in-law
and thrown from the top of the palace into some street.
Later, at the order of Severus, he was taken up and
buried.

Severus next called a meeting of the senate in the — 6—
senate-house. He uttered no accusation against
Plautianus, but himself deplored the weakness of
human nature, which was not able to endure excessive
honors, and blamed himself that he had so honored and
loved the man. Those, however, who had informed him
of the victim's plot he bade tell us everything ; but first
he expelled from the senate-chamber some whose pres-
ence was not necessary, and by revealing nothing to
ihem intimated that he did not altogether trust them.

1 Reading altroxpardpatv (emendation of H. Stephanus).

375



Digiti



zed by Google



DIO'S ROMAN HISTORY

A. D 203 Many were brought into danger by the Plautianns
*** episode and some actually lost their lives. But Ccerar

nus was accustomed to declare (what most people are
given to pretending with reference to the fortunate)
that he was his associate. As often as these friends of
the prefect were wont to be called in before the others
desiring to greet the great man, it was his custom to
accompany them as far as the bars. So he did not
share his secrets, but remained in the space midway,
giving Plautianns the impression that he was outside
and those outside the idea that he was within. This
caused him to be the object of greater suspicion,— a
feeling which was strengthened by the fact that Plau-
tianns once in a dream saw fishes issue from the Tiber
and fall at his feet, whereupon he declared that Ccer-
anus should rule the land and water. This man, after
being confined to an island for seven years, was later
recalled, was the first Egyptian to be enrolled in the
senate, and became consul, like Pompey, without hold-
ing any previous oflSce. Caecilius Agricola, however,
numbered among the deceased ^s foremost flatterers and
second to no man on earth in rascality and licentious-
ness, was sentenced to death. He went home, and after
drinking his fill of chilled wine, shattered the cup which
had cost him five myriads, and cutting his veins fell dead
— «— upon the fragments. As for Satuminus and Euodus,
they were honored at the time but were later executed
by Antoninus. While we were engaged in voting eulo-
gies to Euodus, Severus restrained us by saying: ** It
is disgraceful that in one of your decrees there should
be inscribed such a statement respecting a man that is

376



Digiti



zed by Google



DIO'S ROMAN HISTORY

a CaBsarian. ' ' It was not the only instance of suchi an at- ,^ ^ $22.

*^ {a. u, 956)

titude, but he also refused to allow all the other impe-
rial freedmen either to be insolent or to swagger; for
this he was commended. The senate once, while chant-
ing his praises, uttered witiiout reserve no less a senti-
ment than this : ** All do all things well since you rule
well!''

Plautilla and Plautius, the children; of Plautianus,
were temporarily allowed to live, being banished to
Lipara; but in the reign of Antoninus they were de-
stroyed, though they had been existing in great fear
and wretchedness and though their life was not even
blessed by a goodly store of necessities.

The sons of Severus, Antoninus and Geta, felt as if —7— >
they had got rid of a pedagogue in Plautianus, and
their conduct was from this time on irrespouBible.
They outraged women and abused boys, they embezzled
moneys and made friends of the gladiators and char-
ioteers, emulating each other in the similarity of their
deeds and full of strife in their respective rivalries.
If one attached himself to any cause, the other would
be sure to choose the opposite side. Finally, they were
pitted against each other in some kind of exercise with
teams of ponies and drove with such fierce opposition
that Antoninus fell out of the two-wheeled car and
broke his leg. [During his son's sickness that fol-
lowed this accident Severus neglected not one of his
duties, but held court and managed all afiFairs per-
taining to his office. For this he was praised. But
he waB blamed for murdering Plautianus QuintiUus.*

1 This person's name is properly Jf . PlauHu9 Quint%llu$.

377



Digiti



zed by Google



DIO'S ROMAN HISTORY

la! u m) ^^ executed also many of the senators, some of whom
had been accased before him, and made their defence,
and had been convicted. But Quintillus], a man of
noblest birth, for a long term of years counted among
the foremost members of the senate, standing at the
gates of old age, one who lived in the country, inter-
fered in no one's business and did naught amiss, never-
theless became the prey of sycophants and was put out
of the way. As he waB near death he called for his
funeral garments, which he had long since kept in readi-
ness. On seeing that they had fallen to pieces through
lapse of time, he said: ** Why did we delay thisT "
And as he perfumed the place with burning incense,
he remarked: ** I offer the same prayer as Servianus
offered over Hadrian.'*^— Besides his death there were
also gladiatorial contests, in which among other fea-
tures ten tigers were slaughtered at once.
^3_ After this came the denouement of the Apronianus
affair,— a startling story even in the hearing. He in-
curred censure because his nurse is said to have seen
once in a vision that he should enjoy sovereignty, and
because he was believed to employ some magic to this
end. He was condemned while absent in his governor-
ship of Asia. When the evidence taken in his case was
read to us, there was found written there this state-
ment,— that one person in charge of the investigation
had enquired who had told the dream and who had
heard it, and that the man interrogated had said among
other things: ** I saw a certain baldheaded senator
takiug a peep there.'* On hearing this we all became

1 Compare Book Sixty-nine, chapter 17.

378



Digiti



zed by Google



DIO'S ROMAN HISTORY

terror-stricken, for neither had the man spoken nor ^a. d. 203

' ^^ {a, u. 956)

Severus written any one's name. In their state of
panic even those who had never visited the house of
Apronianus, and not only the baldbeaded but those
whose foreheads were indifferently bare grew afraid.
No one felt easy save those who had unusually thick
hair. We all looked around at such men, and a whisper
ran about: **It's so-and-so. No, it's so-and-so.'' I
will not conceal' how I was then affected, however
absurd it may be. I felt with my hand to see whether
I had any hair on my head ; and a number of others
behaved in the very same way. We were very careful
to direct our gaze upon baldish persons bb if we could
thereby divert our own danger upon them. This we
did until it was further read that the particular bald-
head in question wore a purple toga. When this state-
ment came out, we turned our eyes upon Baebius Mar-
cellinus. He had been aedile at the time and was
extremely bald. So he stood up and coming forward
said: ** He will certainly be able to point me out, if he
has seen me." We conmiended this speech, the in-
former was brought in while the senator stood by, and
for a long time was silent, looking about for the man
to point out. Finally, following the direction of an
almost imperceptible nod that somebody gave, he said
that this was he.

Thus was Marcellinus convicted of a baldhead's — -9—
peeping,^ and bewailing his fate he was conducted out

iThe phrase ^aXaxpoo napaxu<p9w^ Iuib a humorous ring to it,
and I am inclined to belieTe, especially considering the situation, that
Dio had in his mind while writing this the familiar proverb Svou napa^
xu<p€w^, a famous respoQse given by a careless ass-driver, whose

379



Digiti



zed by Google



DIO'S ROMAN HISTORY

(t^ 2* »M) ^' ^^ senate-house. When he had passed through the
Forum, he refused to advance f arther, but right where
he was took leave of his children, four in number, and
uttered this most affecting speech: '^ There is only*
one thing that I am sorry for, children; it is that I must
leave you behind alive.'' Then he had his head cut off
before Severus learned even that he had been con-
demned.

Just vengeance, however, befell Pollenius Sebennus,
who had preferred the charge that caused his death.
He was delivered by Sabinus to the Norici, for whom
he had shown scant consideration during his governor-
ship of them, and went through a most disgraceful
experience. We saw him stretched on the ground,
pleading piteously, and had he not obtained mercy,
thanks to his uncle Auspex,^ he would have perished
pitiably. This Auspex was the cleverest imaginable
man for jokes and chit-diat, for despising all mankind,
gratifying his friends, and making reprisals upon his
enemy. Miany bitter and witty epigrams of his spok^i
to various people are reported, and many to Severus
himself. Here is one of the latter. When the emperor
was enrolled in the family of Marcus, Auspex said:
** I congratulate you, Caesar, upon having found a
father. '' This implied that up to this time his obscure
origux had made him as good as fatherless.

animal being sereral rods in advance of its lagging master had stuck
its head into an open doorway and thereby scattered the nucleus of
a promising aviary. The fellow was haled to court to answer to a
charge of contributory negligence and when some bystander asked him
for what misdeed he had been brought to that place, he rejoined with
a great air of injured innocence: '' For an ass's peeping !"
A A. Pollemu$ Awpem.

380



Digiti



zed by Google



DIO'S ROMAN HISTORY

It was at this period that one Bulla, an Italian, estab- ^ ~"^^ ~ ^

^ ' * A. D. 206-7

lished a robber band of about six hundred men and for ( ?)
two years continued to plunder Italy under the very
noses of the emperors and of so great bodies of soldiers.
Pursuit was instituted by numerous persons, and Sev-
erus emulously followed his trail, but the fellow was
never really seen when seen, never found when found,
never apprehended when caught. This was due to
his great bribes and his cleverness. He got wind of
everybody that was setting out from Rome and every-
body that was putting into port at Brundusium, learn-
ing who and how many they were, and what and how
much they had with them. His general method was to
take a part of what they had and then let them go at
once. Artisans, however, he detained for a time and
after making use of their skill dismissed them with
something extra as a present Once two of his robbers
had been captured and were to be given to beasts,
whereupon the chief paid a visit to the keeper of the
prison, pretending that he was the governor of his
native place ( t) and needed some such men, and in this
way he secured and saved them. Again, he approached
the centurion who was charged with abolishing brig-
andage and in disguise accused his own self; he further
promised, if the centurion would accompany him, to
deliver the robber to him. So, pretending that he was
leading him to Felix (this was another name of the
chief) , he brought him to a hill-encompassed spot, suita-
ble for ambuscade, and easily seized him. Later he
assumed the garb of a magistrate^ ascended the tri-

381



Digiti



zed by Google



DIO'S ROMAN HISTORY

i^T'^ bunal, and having called the centurion caused his head
ta be shaved, and said: ^' Take this message to your
masters : * Feed your slaves, if you want to make an
end of brigandage.' '^ Bulla had, indeed, a very great
number of CaBsarians, some who had been poorly paid
and some who had gone absolutely without pay.

Severus, informed of these events one at a time, was
moved to anger to think that while having other men
win victory in warfare in Britain, he himself in Italy
had proved no match for a robber. At last he de-
spatched a tribune from his body-guard with many
horsemen and threatened him with terrible punishments
if he should not bring the culprit alive. Then this com-
mander ascertained that the chief was maintaining re-
lations of intimacy with the wife of another, and
through the agency of her husband persuaded her on
promise of immunity to cooperate with them. As a
result the elusive leader was arrested while asleep in a
cave. Papinianus the prefect asked him: " For what
reason did you become a robber t '^ The other re-
joined : * * For what reason are you a pref ect t * ' And
thereafter by solemn proclamation he was given to
beasts. His robber band broke up, for the entire
strength of the six hundred lay in him.
_ Severus, seeing that his children were departing

A. D. 208 from their accustomed modes of life and that his le-
gions were becoming enervated by idleness, set out on
a campaign against Britain, though he knew that he
should not return. He knew this chiefly from the stars
under which he had been bom, for he had them painted

382



Digiti



zed by Google



DIO'S ROMAN HISTORY

upon the ceilings of the two halls in the palace where /^- ^g^?.
he was wont to hold court. Thus they were visible to
all, save the portion which ** regarded-the-hour ^* when
he first saw the light (L e., his horo-scope). This he
had not engraved in the same way in both the rooms.—
He knew it also by the report of the seers. And a
thunderbolt struck a statue of his standing near the
gates through which he intended to march out and look-
ing off along the road leading to his destination, and it
had erased three letters from his name. For this
reason,^ as the seers indicated, he did not come bad:
again but departed from life two years after this. He
took with him very great sums of money.

There are two principal races of the Britons,— the — 1«—
Caledonians and the Masatians. The titles of the rest
have all been reduced to these two. The MaBatians live
near the cross wall which cuts the island in two, and
the Caledonians are behind them. Both inhabit wild
and waterless mountains, desolate and swampy plains,
holding no walls, nor cities, nor tilled fields, but living
by pasturage and hunting and a few fruit trees. The
fish, which are inexhaustible and past computing for
multitude, they do not taste. They dwell coatless and
shoeless in tents, possess their women in common, and
rear all the offspring as a community. Their form of
government is mostly democratic and they are very
fond of plundering.

Consequently they choose their boldest spirits as leaders.

1 The significance of this happening is explained as follows. Taking
the Greek form of Severus, namely SEB HPOS und erasing the first
three letters you have leitHFO£=HFQI=^heT(iB, "hero." When a
thunderbolt substitutes the word "hero" for the emperor's name, the
supposition naturally arises that the ruler will soon be numbered among
the heroes, that is, that he will cease to exist as a mortal man.

383



Digiti



zed by Google



DIO'S ROMAN HISTORY

/^ ^- A^,®, They go into battle on chariots with small, swift

(a. I*. 961) "^ ® ^ '

horses. There are also infantry, very quick at running
and very firm in standing their ground. Their weapons
are shield and short spear, with a bronze apple at-
tached to the end of the ground-spike, so that when
the instrument is shaken it may clash and inspire the
enemy with terror. They also have daggers. They can
endure hunger and cold and any kind of wretchedness.
They plunge into the swamps and exist there for many
days with only their heads above water, and in the
forests they support themselves upon bark and roots
and in all^ cases they have ready a kind of food of which
a piece the size of a bean when eaten prev^its them
from being either hungry or thirsty. Of such a nature
is the island of Britain, and such are the inhabitants
that the enemy's country has. For it is an island, and
the fact (as I have stated)^ was clearly proved at this
time. The length of it is seven thousand one hundred
and thirty-two stades. Its greatest breadth is two
thousand three hundred and ten, and its least is three
— 18— hundred. Of all this we hold a little less than a half.
So Severus, desiring to subjugate the whole of it, in-


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 23

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 23 of 24)