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command; and his son, who already discovered a military genius, was at the head of the Illyrian legions. Perennis aspired to the empire; or what, in the eyes of Commodus, amounted to the same crime, he was capable of aspiring to it, had he not been prevented, o and put to death. The fall of a minister is a very trifling incident in the general history of the empire; but it was hastened by an extraordinary circumstance, which proved how much the nerves of discipline were already ol. The legions of Britain, discontented with the administration of Perennis, formed a deputation of fifteen hundred select men, with instructions to march to Rome, and lay their complaints before the emperor. These military pétitioners, by their own determined behaviour, by inflaming the divisions of the guards, by exaggerating the strength of the British army, and by alarming the fears of Commodus, exacted and obtained the minister's death, as the only redress of their grievances.” This presumption of a distant army, and their

* Dion, l. 72, p. 1210; Herodian, 1. 1, p. 22; Hist. August. p. 48. Dion gives a much less odious character of Perennis, than the other historians. His moderation is almost a pledge of his veracity. [Gibbon praises the moderation with which Dion speaks of Perennis, and nevertheless follows the narrative of Herodian and Lampridium. The tone of Dion, when speaking of Perennis, is more than moderate, it expresses admiration. He represents him as a great man, whose life was disinterestedly and virtuously devoted to the public good, and who died innocent. The character which Herodian and Lampridius give him, seems to be most suitable to the minister of a Commodus, and accords best with what followed. Dion, who became a senator about that time, may have been indebted to the favourite for the commencement of his good fortune, and expected further favours from him. He may have been as partial in his praises of a bad minister, who possibly was his benefactor, as he was in his censures of such truly great men as Cicero and Seneca, his opinion of whom expresses the jealousy with which a Greek regarded literary merit in a Roman. But it is remarkable that Gibbon, after having adopted the opinion of Herodian and Lampridius, with regard to the minister, should copy Dion's improbable account of his death. It is scarcely credible that fifteen hundred men should have passed through Gaul and Italy, on their way to Rome, without any private understanding with the Praetorian guards, without the knowledge of Perennis, who was their praefect, and without meeting any resistance. Such armed embassies can be sent only to the Rome of the present day, and by such monarchs as Louis XIV. Gibbon, aware perhaps of this difficulty, added, that “these military petitioners inflamed the divisions of the guards, and exaggerated the strength of the British army,” the actual numbers of which must have been known to the government. Yet Dion saws expressly, that

118 REVOLT OF MATERNUs. [CH. Iv.

discovery of the weakness of government, was a sure presage of the most dreadful convulsions. The negligence of the public administration was betrayed soon afterwards, by a new disorder, which arose from the smallest beginnings. A spirit of desertion began to prevail among the troops; and the deserters, instead of seeking their safety in flight or concealment, infested the highways. Maternus, a private soldier, of a daring boldness above his station, collected these bands of robbers into a little army, set open the prisons, invited the slaves to assert their freedom;ond plundered with impunity the rich and defenceless cities of Gaul and Spain. The governors of the provinces, who had long been the spectators, and perhaps the partners, of his depredations, were at length roused from their supine indolence by the threatening commands of the emperor. Maternus found that he was encompassed, and foresaw that be must be overpowered. A great effort of despair was his last resource. e ordered his followers to disperse, to pass the A. in small parties and various disguises, and to assemble, at Rome, during the licentious tumult of the festival of Cybele.” To murder Commodus, and to ascend

they did not get so far as Rome, and blames the emperor for going out to meet them, instead of overwhelming them by the superior forces of the Praetorians. Herodian relates, that Commodus apprised by a soldier of ambitious designs entertained by Perennis and his son, who commanded the legions of Illyrium, ordered them to be seized during the night and put to death. WENck.] Where historians differ so widely, their means of information ought to be considered. Dion Cassius, was in the full vigour of life when these events took place. When he composed his history of them, no expected favours could induce him to flatter the memory of the long-departed Perennis, whose former patronage, too, is altogether conjectural. His character for probity stood so high, that the excellent Pertinax, who for a few months succeeded Commodus on the throne, employed him in an important office, in which other emperors retained him. This, no doubt, gave him also access to documents, from which he could gather facts not publicly known. Herodian did not write till fifty years later, and if, as he says, he has related nothing of which he was not an eyewitness, (by which, of course, he means, what occurred in his days) he must, at least, have been very young at the fall of Perennis. ... Lamp-idius was still later by a century, and a very second-rate authority.—ED] uring the second Punic war, the Romans imported from Asia the worship of the mother of the gods. Her festival, the Megalesia, began ora, the 4th of April, and lasted six days. The streets were crowded with *d processions, the theatres with spectators, and the public tablo” with unbidden guests. Order and police were suspended, and

the vacant throne, was the ambition of no vulgar robber. is measures were so ably concerted that his concealed troops already filled the streets of Rome. The envy of an *çcomplice discovered and ruined this singular enterprise, in the moment when it was ripe for execution.” Suspicious princes often promote the lowest of mankind, m a vain persuasion that those who have no dependence, except on to. favour, will have no attachment, except to the person of their benefactor. Cleander, the successor of erennis, was a Phrygian by birth; of a nation over whose stubborn, but servile temper, blows only could prevail.f He had been sent from his native country to Rome in the o of a slave. As a slave he entered the imperial palace, rendered himself useful to his master's passions, and rapidly ascended to the most exalted station which a subject could enjoy. His influence over the mind of Commodus was much greater than that of his predecessor; for Cleander was devoid of any ability or virtue which could inspire the emperor with envy or distrust. Avarice was the reigning passion of his soul, and the great principle of his administration. The rank of consul, of patrician, of senator, was exposed to public sale; and it would have been considered as disaffection, if any one had refused to purchase these empty and disgraceful honours with the greatest part of his fortune.t In the lucrative provincial employments, the minister shared with the governor the spoils of the people. The execution of the laws was venal and arbitrary. A wealthy criminal might obtain, not only the othe sentence by which he was justly condemned, but might likewise inflict whatever punishment he pleased on the accuser, the witnesses, and the judge. By these means, Cleander, in the space of three years, had accumulated more wealth than ho ever yet been possessed by any freedman.S Commodus was o satisfied with the magnificent presents which the artful courtier laid at his feet in the most seasonable moments. To divert the Fo was the only serious business of the city. See Ovid. de Fastis, 4, 189, &c. * Herodian, 1.1, p. 23, 28. + Cicero pro Flacco c. 27. : One of these dear-bought promotions occasioned a current bon mot, that Julius Solon was banished into the senate. § Dion (l. 72, p. 12, 13) observes, that no freedman had possessed riches equal

to those of Cleander. The fortune of Pallas amounted, however, to upwards of 2,500,000l., termillies.

120 SEDITION AND DEATH [cH. Iv.

o envy, Cleander, under the emperor's name, erected aths, porticos, and places of exercise, for the use of the people.*. He flattered himself that the Romans, dazzled and amused by this apparent liberality, would be less affected by the bloody scenes which were daily exhibited; that they would forget the death of Byrrhus, a senator to whose superior merit the late emperor had granted one of his daughters, and that they would forgive the execution of Arius Antominus, the last representative of the name and virtues of the Antonines. The former, with more integrity than prudence, had attempted to disclose, to his brother-in-law, the true character of Cleander. An equitable sentence pronounced by the latter, when proconsul of Asia, against a worthless creature of the favourite, proved fatal to him.f After the fall of Perennis, the terrors of Commodus had, for a short time, assumed the appearance of a return to virtue. He repealed the most odious of his acts, loaded his memory with the ublic execration, and ascribed to the pernicious counsels §f that wicked minister, all the errors of his inexperienced youth. But his repentance lasted only thirty days; and, under Cleander's tyranny, the administration of Perennis was often regretted. Pestilence and famine contributed to fill up the measure of the calamities of Rome. The first could be only imputed to the just indignation of the gods; but a monopoly of corn, supported by the riches and power of the minister, was considered as the immediate cause of the second.S The opular discontent, after it had long circulated in whispers, |. out in the assembled circus. The people quitted their favourite amusements, for the more delicious pleasure of revenge, rushed in crowds towards a palace in the suburbs, one of the emperor's retirements, and demanded, with angry * Dion, 1.72, p. 12, 18; Herodian, 1.1, p. 29; Hist. August. p. 52. These baths were situated near the Porta Capena. See Nardini Roma Antica, p. 79. + Hist. August. p. 48. : Herodian, l. 1, P.333 Dion, 1.72, p. 1215. The latter says, that two thousand persons died every day at Rome, during a considerable length of time. § {This is only Gibbon's conjecture. From the contradio'ory statements of Dion and Herodian no more can be inferred, than, hat some mismanagement in the supply of corn had excited populo discontent on this point, Lampridius (c. 7) is quite silent, but ..."ges another cause, which may have contributed to the catastrophe, namely, the odium attached to Cleander for the executio" of Arius Antoninus—Wesck.]

clamours, the head of the public enemy. Cleander, who $ommanded the prietorian guards,” ordered a body of caval

to sally forth and disperse the seditious multitude. The multitude fled with precipitation towards, the city; several were slain, and many more were trampled to death; but When the cavalry entered the streets, their pursuit was checked by a shower of stones and darts from the roofs and windows of the houses. The foot-guards,t who had been long jealous of the prerogatives and insolence of the praetorian cavalry, embraced the party of the o: The tumult became a regular engagement, and threatened a general massacre. The praetorians at length gave way, oppressed with numbers; and the tide of popular fury returned with redoubled violence against the gates of the palace, where Commodus lay, dissolved in luxury, and alone unconscious of the civil war. It was death to approach his person with the unwelcome news. He would o perished in this supine Security, had not two women, his elder sister, Fadilla, and Marcia, the most favoured of his concubines, ventured to break into his presence. Bathed in tears, and with dishevelled hair, they threw themselves at his feet; and with all the pressing eloquence of fear, discovered to the affrighted emperor the crimes of the minister, the rage of the people, and the impending ruin which, in a few minutes, would burst over his palace and person. Commodus started from his dream of pleasure, and commanded that the head of Cleander o be thrown out to the people. The

* Tuncque primum tres praefecti praetoriofuere; inter quos libertinus. From some remains of modesty, Cleander declined the title, whilst he assumed the powers of praetorian praefect. As the other freedmen were styled, from their several departments, a rationibus, ab epistolis; Cleander called himself a pugione, as intrusted with the defence of his master's person. Salmasius and Casaubon seem to have talked very idly upon this passage. [The text of Lampridius affords no ground for believing that Cleander was the praefect a pugione : nor do Salmasius and Casaubon appear to have entertained such an opinion. See Hist. Aug. p. 48, with the commentary of Salmasius, p. 116, and that of Casaubon, p. 95.—Guizot.]

t Oi riic tróAswc trigo, arpartórai. Herodian, l. 1, p. 31. It is doubtful whether he means' the praetorian infantry, or the cohortes urbance, a body of six thousand men, but whose rank and discipline were not equal to their numbers. Neither Tillemont nor Wotton chose to decide this question. [Nothing appears to me doubtful in this pas

sage. Herodian clearl designates the cohertes urbana Compare Dion, P. 797—WExck.] y

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