of preserving an intermediate power, however imaginary, between the emperor and the army. He disdained to profess himself the servant of an assembly that detested his person and trembled at his frown; he issued his commands, where his request would have proved as effectual; assumed the conduct and style of a sovereign and a conqueror, and exercised, without disguise, the whole legislative, as well as the executive, power. The victory over the senate was easy and inglorious. Every eye and every passion were directed to the supreme magistrate, who possessed the arms and ireasure of the state; while the senate, neither elected by the people, nor guarded by military force, nor animated by public spirit, rested its declining authority on the frail and crumbling basis of ancient opinion. The fine theory of a republic insensibly vanished, and made way for the more natural and substantial feelings of monarchy. As the freedom and honours of Rome were successively communicated to the provinces, in which the old government had been either unknown, or was remembered with abhorrence, the tradition of republican maxims was gradually obliterated. The Greek historians of the age of the Antonines(70) observe with a malicious pleasure, that alt the sovereign of Rome, in compliance with an obsolete prejudice, abstained from the name of king, he possessed the full measure of regal power. In the reign of Severus the senate was filled with polished and eloquent slaves from the eastern provinces, who justified personal flattery by speculative principles of servitude. These new advocates of prerogative were heard with pleasure by the court, and with patience by the people, when they inculcated the duty of É. obedience, and descanted on the inevitable mischiefs of freedom. The awyers and the historians concurred in teaching, that the imperial authority was held, not by the delegated commission, but by the irrevocable resignation of the senate; that the emperor was freed from the restraint of civil laws, could command, by his arbitrary will, the lives and fortunes of his subjects, and might dispose of the empire as of his private o The most eminent of the civil lawyers, and particularly Papinian, Paulus, and Ulpian, flourished under the house of Severus; and the Roman jurisprudence havi closely united itself with the system of monarchy, was supposed to have attaine its full maturity and perfection. The contemporaries of Severus, in the enjoyment of the peace and glory of his reign, forgave the cruelties by which it had been introduced. Posterity, who experienced the fatal effects of his maxims and example, justly considered him as the principal author of the decline of the Roman empire,


The death of Severus-Tyranny of Caracalla–Usurpation of Macrinus—Follies 0. †.F.; of Alexander Severus–Licentiousness of the army— eneral state of the Roman finances.

THE ascent to atness, however steep and dangerous, may entertain an active spirit with the consciousness and exercise of its own powers; but the possession of a throne could never yet afford a lasting satisfaction to an ambitious mind. This melancholy truth was felt and acknowledged by Severus. Fortune and merit had, from an humble station, elevated him to the first place among mankind. “He had been all things,” as he said himself, “and all was of little value.”(1) Distracted with the care, not of acquiring, but of preserving an empire, oppressed with age and infirmities, careless of fame,(2) and satiated with power, all his prospects of life were closed. The desire of per

(70) Appian. in Proin. (71). Didh Cassius seems to have written with no other view than to form these opinions into an hiaworical system. The Pandects will show, how assiduously the lawyers, on their side, laboured in the gause of prerogative. (1) Hist. August. p. 71 “Omnia ful et nihil expedit.” CS) Dion Cassius, l. lxxvi. p. 1284.

petuating the greatness of his family, was the only remaining wish of his ambition and paternal tenderness.

Like most of the Africans, Severus was passionately addicted to the vain studies of magic and divination, deeply versed in the interpretation of dreams and omens, and persectly acquainted with the science of judicial astrology; which, in almost every age, except the present, has maintained its dominion over the mind of man. He had lost his first wife, while he was governor of the Lionnese Gaul.(3) In the choice of a second, he sought only to connect himself with some favourite of fortune; and as soon as he had discovered that a young lady of Emesa in Syria had a royal nativity, he solicited and obtained her o Julia Domna (for that was her name) deserved all that the stars could promise her. She possessed, even in an advanced age, the attractions of beauty,(5) and united to a lively imagination, a firmness of mind, and strength of judgment seldom bestowed on her sex. , Her amiable qualities never made any deep impression on the dark, and jealous temper of her husband; but in her son's reign, she administered the principal affairs of the empire, with a prudence that supported his authority; and with a moderation that sometimes corrected his wild extravagancies.(6), Julia applied herself to letters and philosophy, with some success, and with the most splendid reputation. She was the patroness of every art, and the friend of every man of genius.(7) The

rateful flattery of the learned has celebrated her virtues; but, if we may credit

e scandal of ancient history, chastity was very far from being the most conspicuous virtue of the empress Julia.(8)

Two sons, Caracalla(9) and Geta, were the fruit of this marriage, and the destined heirs of the empire. The fond hopes of the father, and of the Roman world, were soon disappointed by these vain youths, who displayed the indoent security of hereditary princes; and a presumption that fortune would supply the place of merit and application. Without any emulation of virtue or talents, they discovered, almost from their infancy, a fixed and implacable antipathy for each other. Their aversion, confirmed by years, and fomented by the arts of their interested favourites broke out in childish, and, gradually, in more serious competitions; and, at length, divided the theatre, the circus, and the court, into two factions; actuated by the hopes and fears of their respective leaders. The prudent emperor en o by every expedient of advice and authority, to allay this growing animosity. The unhappy discord of his sons clouded all his prospects, and threatened to overturn a throne raised with so much labour, cemented with so much blood, and guarded with every defence of arms and treasure. With an impartial hand he maintained between them an exact balance of favour, conferred on both the rank of Augustus, with the revered name of Antoninus; and for the first time the Roman world beheld three emperors.(10) Yet even this equal conduct served only to inflame the contest, while the fierce Caracalla asserted the right of primogeniture, and the milder Geta courted the affections of the people and .#. In the anguish of a disappointed father, Severus foretold, that the weaker of his sons would fall a * to the stronger; who, in his turn, would be ruined by his own vices.(11


(3) About the year 186, M. de Tillemont is miserably embarrassed with a passage of Dion, in which the empress Faustina, who died in the year 175, is introduced as having contributed to the marriage of Severus and Julia (l. lxxiv. p. 1243). The learned compiler forgot, that Dion is relating, not a real fact, but a dream of Severus; and dreams are circumscribed to no limits of time or space. Tid M. de Tillemont imagine that marriages were consummated in the temple of Venus at Rome? Hist. des Empereurs, tom. iii. p. 389, Note 6. (4) Hist. August. p. 65. (5) Hist. August. p. 85. (6) Dion Cassius, l. lxxvii. p. 1304–1314. (7) See a Dissertation of Menage, at the end of his edition of Diogenes Laertius, de Foeminis Philosophis. 8) Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1285. Aurelius Victor. (9) Bassianus was his first name, as it had been that of his maternal grandfather. During his reign he assumed the appellation of Antoninus, which is employed by lawyers and ancient historians. After his death, the public indignation loaded him with the nick-names of Tarantus and Caracalla. The first was borrowed }. a celebrated gladiator, the second from a long Gallic gown which he distributed to the ple of Rome. (iO) The elevation of Caracalla is fixed by the accurate M. de Tillemont to the year 198; the association of Geta to the year 208. (11) Herodian, liii. p. 130. The lives of Caracalla and Geta in the Augustan History.


the tyranny of his worthless son. Placed in the same situation, he experienced how easily the rigour of a judge dissolves away in the tenderness of a parent. He deliberated, he threatened, but he could not punish; and this last and onl instance of mercy, was more fatal to the empire than a long series of cruelty.(16 The disorder of {i, mind irritated the pains of his body; he wished impatiently for death, and hastened the instant of it by his impatience. He expired at York in the sixty-fifth year of his life, and in the eighteenth of a glorious and successful reign. In his last moments he recommended concord to his sons and his sons to the army. The salutary advice never reached the heart, or even the understanding of the impetuous youths; but the more obedient troops, mindful of their oath of allegiance, and of the authority of their deceased master, resisted the solicitations of Caracalla, and proclaimed both brothers emperors of Rome. The new princes soon left the Caledonians in peace, returned to the capital, celebrated their father's funeral with divine honours, and were cheerfully acknowledged as lawful sovereigns, by the senate, the people, and the provinces. Some pre-eminence of rank seems to have been allowed to the ić. brother, but they both administered the empire with equal and independent power.(17) Such a divided form of government would have proved a source of discord between the most affectionate brothers. It was impossible that it could long subsist between two implacable enemies, who neither desired nor could trust a reconciliation. It was visible that one only could reign, and that the other must fall; and each of them judging of his rival’s designs by his own, guarded his life with the most jealous vigilance from the repeated attacks of poison or the sword. Their rapid journey through Gaul and Italy, during which they never ate at the same ol. or slept in the same house, displayed to the provinces the odious spectacle of fraternal discord, Qn their arrival at Rome, they immediately divided the vast extent of the imperial palace.(18) No communication was allowed between their apartments; the doors and passages were diligently fortified, and guards posted and relieved with the same strictness as in a besieged place. The emperors met only in public, in the presence of their j mother; and each surrounded by a numerous train of armed followers. Even on these occasions of ceremony, the dissimulation of courts could ill disguise the rancour of their hearts.(19) This latent civil war already distracted the whole government, when a scheme Was . that seemed of mutual benefit to the hostile brothers. It was proposed, that since it was impossible to reconcile their minds, they should separate their interest, and divide the empire between them. The conditions of the treaty were already drawn with some accuracy. It was agreed, that Caracalla, as the elder brother, should remain in possession of Europe and the western Africa; and that he should relinquish the sovereignty of Asia and Egypt to Geta, who might fix his residence at Alexandria or Antioch, cities #. inferior to Rome itself in wealth and greatness; that numerous armies should be constantly encamped on either side of the Thracian o: to guard the frontiers of the rival monarchies; and that the senators of European extraction should acknowledge the sovereign of Rome, while the natives of Asia followed the emperor of the East. The tears of the empress Julia interrupted the negotiation, the first idea of which had filled every Roman


(16) Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1283. Hist. August. p. 89. (17) Dion, l. lxxvi. p. 1284. Herodian, 1. #. 135. (18) Mr. Hume is justly surprised at a passage in Herodian, (l. iv. p. 139) who, on this occasion, represents the imperial palace, as equal in extent to the rest of Rome. The whole region of the Palatine Mount on which it was built, occupied, at most, a circumference of eleven or twelve thousand feet (see the Notitia and Victor, in Nardini's Roma Antica). But we should recollect that the opulent senators had almost surrounded the city with their extensive gardens and superb palaces, the greatest part of which had been gradually confiscated by the emperors. If Geta resided in the gardens that bore his name on the Janiculum; and if Caracalla inhabited the gardens of Maecenas on the Esqueline, the rival brothers were separated from each other by the distance of several miles; and yet the intermediate space was filled by the imperial gardens of Sallust, of Lucullus, of Agrippa, of Domitian, of Caius, &c. all skirting round the city, and all connected with each other, and with the palace, by bridges thrown over the Tiber and the streets. But this explanation of Herodian would require, though it ill deserves, a particular dissertation, illustrated by a map of ancient Rome (19). Herodian, l. iv. p. 139.

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