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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 24 of 24)
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vaded Caledonia. While traversing the territory he
had untold trouble in cutting down the forests, reducing
the levels of heights, filling up the swamps, and bridg-
ing the rivers. He fought no battle and beheld no ad-
versary in battle array. The enraay purposely put
sheep and cattle in front of them for the soldiers to

1 The reading is a little doubtful. Possibly " in such cases " ( -Kopdi
raora ). ( Boissevain. )

3 Compare Book Thirty-nine, chapter 50, which, in turn, refers to Book
Sixty-six, chapter 20.

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seize, in order that the latter might be deceived for a ,'^' ^- ^^^

' ° (a. u. 961)

longer time and wear themselves out The Romans re-
ceived great damage from the streams and were made
objects of attack when they were scattered. After-
ward, being unable to walk, they were slain by their
own friends to avoid capture, so that nearly as many
as fifty thousand died.

But the emperor did not desist till he had approached
the extremity of the island. Here he observed very
accurately to how slight a degree the sun declined be-
low the horizon^ and the length of days and nights both
Bununer and winter. Thus having been conveyed
through practically the whole of the hostile region,—
for he was really conveyed in a covered chair most of
the way on account of his weakness,— he returned to a. d. 210
friendly territory, first forcing the Britons to come to
terms on condition that he should abandon a good part
of their territory.

Antoninus also disturbed him and involved him in —14—
vain worry by his intemperate life, by his evident iu-
tention to murder his brother if the chance should pre-
sent itself, and finally by plotting against his own
father. Once he leaped suddenly out of his quarters,
shouting and bawling and feigning to have been
wronged by Castor. This man was the best of the
Caesarians attending upon Severus, had been trusted
with his opinions, and had been assigned the duties of
chamberlain. Certain soldiers with whom previous ar-
rangements had been made hereupon gathered and ^

1 Compare Tacitus, Agrioola, chapter 12 (two sentencea, Diemm . ^
afBrmant).



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ia' u,' jwm 3^^^°^ *^® outcry ; but they were checked in short order,
as SeveruB himBelf appeared on the scene and punished
the more unruly among them.

On another occasion both were riding to meet the
Caledonians for the purpose of receiving them and
holding a conference about a truce, and Antoninus un-
dertook to kill his father outright with his own hand.
They were going along on their horses, for Severus, al-
though his feet were rather shrunken^ by an ailment,
nevertheless was on horseback himself and the rest of
the army was following: the enemy's force, too, was
likewise a spectator. At this juncture, in the midst of
the silence and order, Antoninus reined up his horse
and drew his sword, apparently intending to strike his
father in the back. Seeing this, the other horsemen in
the detachment raised a cry of alarm, which scared the
son, so that he did nothing further. Severus turned at
their shout and saw the sword ; however, he uttered not
a syllable but ascended the tribunal, finished what he
had to do, and returned to the general's tent. Then he
called his son and Papinianus and Castor, ordered a
sword to be placed within easy reach, and upbraided the
youth for having dared to do such a thing at all and
especially for having been on the point of committing
so great a crime in the presence of all the allies and the
enemy. Finally he said: ** Now if you desire to slay
me and have done, put an end to me here. You are
strong: I am an old man and prostrate. If you have
no objection to this, but shrink from becoming my ac-

1 Heading Worm^xc^? (suggestion^ Boisserain, who does not regard
Nabc^s emendation, Mnemosyne, XVI, p. 113, as feasible).

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tual murderer, there stands by your side Papinianns .^ ^'JlVl
the prefect, whom yon may order to pnt me ont of the
way. He will certainly do anythinig that yon command,
since yon are emperor/' Thongh he spoke in this
fashion, he still did the plotter no harm, in spite of the
fact that he had often blamed Marcus for not ending
the life of Commodus and that he had himself often
threatened his son with this treatment. Such words,
however, were invariably spoken in a fit of anger : <m
this occasion he allowed his love of offspring to get the
better of his love of country ; yet in doing so he simply
betrayed his other child, for he well knew what would
happen.

Upon another revolt of the inhabitants of the island — is—
he summoned the soldiers and bade them invade the
rebels' country, killing whomsoever they should en-
counter. He added these verses:

"Let none escape utter destruction
At oiur hands. Yea, whatso is found in the womb of the mother.
Child unborn though it be, let it not escape utter destruction!" l

When this had been done and the Caledonians as well
as the Mseatians revolted, he proceeded with prepara-
tions to make war upon them in person. While he was
thus engaged his sickness carried him off on the fourth ^ p 211
of February. Antoninus, it is said, contributed some- («• «*• ^w)
thing to the result. Before he closed his eyes he is re-
puted to have spoken these words to his children (I shall
use the exact phraseology without embellishment) :
** Be harmonious, enrich the soldiers, scorn everybody
else.'' After this his body arrayed in military garb

1 Homer's Diad, VI, verse 57, with a slight change at the end.

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— 16 —



DIO'S ROMAN HISTORY

A ^\2i\ ^^s placed upon a pyre, and as a mark of honor the
soldiers and his children ran about it. Those present
who had any military gifts threw them upon it and the
sons applied the fire. Later his bones were put in a jar
of purple stone, conveyed to Borne, and deposited in the
tomb of the Antonines. It is said that Severus sent
for the jar a little before his death and after feeling it
over remarked: '^ Thou shalt hold a man that the
world could not hold.''

He was slow-moulded but strong, though he eventu-
ally grew very weak from gout : mentally he was very
keen and very firm. He wished for more education than
he got and for this reason he was sagacious rather than
a good talker. Toward friends not forgetful, to
enemies most oppressive, he was capable of everything
that he desired to accomplish but careless of everything
said about him. H^ice he gathered money from every
source (save that he killed no one to get it) [and met
all necessary expenditures quite ungrudgingly. He re-
stored very many of the ancient buildings and in-
scribed upon them his own name to signify that he had
repaired them so as to be new structures, and from his
private funds. Also he spent a great deal uselessly
upon renovating and repairing other places], erecting,
for instance, to Bacchus and Hercules a temple of huge
size. Yet, though his expenses were enormous, he left
behind not merely a few myriad denarii, easily reck-
oned, but a great many. Again, he rebuked such per-
sons as were not chaste, even going to the extent of en-
acting certain laws in regard to adultery, with the re-

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suit that there were any number of prosecutians for a. d. 211
that offence. When consul I once found three thousand
entered on the docket. But inasmuch as very few per-
sons appeared to conduct their cases, he too ceased to
trouble his head about it. Apropos of this, a quite
witty remark is reported of the wife of Argentocoxus,
a Caledonian, to Julia Augusta, when the latter after
the treaty was joking her about the free intercourse of
her sex in Britain with men. Thereupon the foreigner
asserted: ** We fulfill the necessities of nature in a
much better way than you Roman women. We have
dealings openly with the best men, whereas you let
yourselves be debauched in secret by the \dlest. ' ' This
is what the British woman said.

The following is the style of life that Severus led in — 17 —
time of peace. He was sure to be doing something be-
fore dawn, while it was still night, and after this he
would go to walk, telling and hearing of the interests
of the empire. Then he held court, and separately (un-
less there were some great festival) ; and indeed, he
did this very well. Those on trial were allowed plenty
of water* and he granted us, his coadjutors, full liberty
to speak.— He continued to preside till noonday. Af-
ter that he went riding as much as he could. Next he
took some kind of exercise and a bath. He then con-
sumed a not meagre lunch, either by himself or with his
children. Next, as a rule, he enjoyed a nap. Later he
rose, attended to his remaining duties of administra-
tion, and while walking about occupied himself with

1 The water-clock again. Compare Book Seventy-one, chapter 6.

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/• ^- 211 discussions of both Greek and Latin lore. Then, toward

(a. u. 964) ^

evening, he would bathe again and dine with his Sitr
tendants. Very seldom did he have any outsider to
dinner and only on days when it waB quite unavoidable
did he arrange expensive banquets.— He lived sixty-
five years, nine months, and twenty-five days, for he
was bom on the eleventh of April. Of this he had ruled
seventeen years, eight months and three days. In fine,
he showed himself so active that even expiring he
gasped: '^ Come, give it to us, if we have anything to
dol^'



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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 24 of 24)