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142 PESCENNIUS NIGER. sch. v.
discontented generals, and authorizing him to declare him. self the guardian and successor of the throne, by assuming the title and ensigns of Caesar.” The governor of Britain wisely declined the dangerous honour, which would have marked him for the jealousy, or involved him in the approaching ruin, of Commodus. He courted power by nobler, or, at least, by more specious arts. On a premature report of the death of the emperor, he assembled his troops; and, in an eloquent discourse, deplored the inevitable mischief of despotism, described the happiness and glory which their ancestors had enjoyed under the consular government, and declared his firm resolution to reinstate the senate and people in their legal authority. This popular harangue was answered by the loud acclamations of the British legions, and received at Rome with a secret murmur of applause. Safe in the possession of this little world, and in the command of an army less distinguished indeed for discipline than for numbers and valour,t Albinus braved the menaces of Commodus, maintained towards Pertinax a stately ambiguous reserve, and instantly declared against the usurpati. Julian. The convulsions of the capital added new weight to his sentiments, or rather to his professions of patriotism. . A regard to decency induced him to decline the lofty titles of Augustus and emperor; and he imitated perhaps the example of Galba, who, on a similar occasion, had styled himself the lieutenant of the senate and people.: - -
#onal merit alone had raised Pescennius Niger from an obscure birth and station, to the government of Syria; a lucrative and important command, which, in times of civil confusion, gave him a near prospect of the throne. Yet his parts seem to have been better suited to the second than to the first rank; he was an unequal rival, though he might have approved himself an excellent lieutenant, to Severus, who afterwards displayed the greatness of his mind by adopting several useful institutions from a vanquished enemy.S In his government, Niger acquired the esteem of the sol.
• Hist. August. p. 80, 84. + Pertinax, who governed Britain a few years before, had been left for dead, in a mutiny of the soldiers. Hist. August. p. 54. Yet they loved and regretoed him; admiran. tibus eam virtutem cui irascebantur. # Sueton, in Galb. c. 10. § Hist. August. p. 76.
diers and the love of the provinciais. His rigid disciplirie fortified the valour, and confirmed the obedience of the former, whilst the voluptuous Syrians were less delighted with the mild firmness of his administration, than with the affability of his manners, and the apparent pleasure with which he attended their frequent and pompous festivals.” As soon as the intelligence of the atrocious murder of Pertinax had reached Antioch, the wishes of Asia invited Niger to ossurne the imperial purple, and revenge his death. The legions of the eastern frontier embraced his cause; the opulent but unarmed provinces, from the frontiers of Ethiopiaf to the Adriatic, cheerfully submitted to his power; and the kings beyond the Tigris and the Euphrates congratulated. His election, and offered him their homage and services. The mind of Niger was not capable of receiving this sudden tide of fortune; he flattered himself that his accession Would be undisturbed by competition, and unstained by civil blood. and whilst he enjoyed the vain pomp of triumph, he neglected to secure the means of victory. Instead of entering into an effectual negotiation with the powerful armies of the West, whose resolution might decide, or at least must balance, the mighty contest; instead of advancing without delay towards Rome and Italy, where his presence was impatiently expected,: Niger trifled away, in the luxury of Antioch, those irretrievable moments, which were diligently improved by the decisive activity of Severus.; The country of Pannonia and Dalmatia, which occupied the space between the Danube and the Adriatic, was one of the last and most difficult conquests of the Romans. In the defence of national freedom, two hundred thousand of these barbarians had once appeared in the field, alarmed the declining age of Augustus, and exorcised the vigilant prudence
* Herod. l. 2, p. 68. The chronicle of John Malala, of Antioch, shows the zealous attachment of his countrymen, to these festivals, which at once gratified their superstition, and their love of pleasure.
+ A king of Thebes, in Egypt, is mentioned in the Augustan history as an ally, and, indeed, as a personal friend of Niger. If Spartianus is not, as I strongly suspect, mistaken, he has, brought to light a dynasty of tributary Princes totally unknown to hissor S. : Diora, 1.73, p. 1238. Herod. l. 2, p. 37. A verse in evoy, one's mouth , at that time, seems to express the general opinion of the three rivale_: optimus est Nigeo bois Af. pessimuo Albus. Hist- August. P- 7 -.
§ Herodian, 1. 2, p. 71. y
144 SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS. [CH. v.
of Tiberius, at the head of the collected force of the empire.* The Pannonians yielded at length to the arms and institutiole of Rome. Their recent subjection, however, the neighbourhood, and even the mixture, of the unconquered tribes, and perhaps the climate, adapted, as it has been observed, to the production of great bodies and slow mindst all contributed to preserve some remains of their original ferocity, and under the tame and uniform countenance of Roman provincials, the hardy features of the natives were still to be discerned. Their warlike youth afforded an inexhaustible supply of recruits to the legions stationed on the banks of the Danube, and which, from a perpetual warfare against the Germans and Sarmatians, were deservedly esteemed the best troops in the service. T. Pannonian army was at this time commanded by Septimius Sevo, a native of Africa, who, in the gradual ascent of private honours, had concealed his daring ambition, whi. was never diverted from its steady, course by the ailurements of pleasure, the apprehension of danger, or the feelings of humanity. On the first news of the murder of Pertinax, he assembled his troops, painted in the most lively 3. the crime, the insolence, and weakness, of the praetorian guards, and animated the legions to arms and to revenge. He concluded (and the peroration was thought extremely eloquent) with promising every soldier about four hundred pounds; an honourable donative, double in value to the infamous bribe with which Julian had purchased the empire.8 The acclamations of the army immediately saluted seerus with the names of Augustus Pertinax and emperor; . . thus attained the lofty station to which he was invited, by conscious merit, and a long train of dreams and omens, the fruitful offspring either of his superstition or
. See an account of that memorable war in Welleius Paterculus, 2, 110, &c., who served in the army of Tiberius. +. Such is the reflection of Herodian, l. 2, p. 74. Will the modern Austrians allow the influence #
: In the letter to Albinus, already mentioned, Commodus accuses severus, as one of the ambitious generals who censured his conduct, and wished to occupy his place. Hist. August.P. 80. $, Pannonia was too poor to supply such a sum. It was probably promised in the camp, ānāpaid at Rome, after the victory. In fixing the sum, I have adopted the conjecture of Casaubon. See Hist. August. p. 66. Comment. p. 115. | Herodian, l 2, p. 78. Severus was declared emperor on The new candidate for empire saw and improved the peculiar advantage of his situation. His province extended to the Julian Alps, which gave an easy access into Italy; and he remembered the saying of Augustus, that a Pannonian army might in ten days appear in sight of Rome.” By a celerity proportioned to the greatness of the occasion, he o: reasonably hope to revenge Pertinax, punish Julian, and receive the homage of the senate and people, as their lawful emperor, before his competitors, separated from Italy by an immense tract of sea o land, were apprized of his success, or even of his election... During the whole expedition he scarcely allowed himself any moments for sleep or food; marching on foot, and in complete armour, at the head of his columns, he insinuated himself into the confidence and affection of his troops, pressed their diligence, revived their spirits, animated their hopes, and was well satisfied to share §. hardships of the meanest soldier, whilst he kept in view the infinite superiority of his reward. The wretched Julian had expected, and thought himself E. to dispute the empire with the gqvernor of Syria; ut in the invincible and rapid approach of the Pannonian legions, he saw his inevitable ruin. The hasty arrival of every messenger increased his just apprehensions. He was successively informed that Severus had o: the Alps; that the Italian cities, unwilling or unable to oppose his rogress, had received him with the warmest professions of joy and duty; that the important place of Ravenna had surrendered without resistance, and that the Adriatic fleet was in the hands of the conqueror. The enemy was now within two hundred and fifty miles of Rome; and every the banks of the Danube, either at Carnuntum, according to Spartianus, (Hist. August. p. 65,) or else at Sabaria, according to Victor. Mr. Hume, in supposing that the birth and dignity of Severus were too much inferior to the imperial crown, and that he marched into Italy as general only, has not considered this transaction with his usual accuracy, (Essay on the Original Contract.) [Carnuntum was oppo. site to the point where the Morava flows into the Danube. Petronel and Haimburg both claim to be the present occupant of its site. An interjacent village, by its name of Altenburg (Oldborough), seems to indicate an ancient station. D'Anville, Géog. Anc., tom. i, p. 154. Sabaria is now Sarwar—Guizot.] * Welleius Paterculus, i. 2, c. 2. "We must reckon the march from the nearest verge of Pannonia, and extend the sight of the city as far as two hundred miles. [Severus was probably ignorant 2f the saying, and could not call to mind what WQL. I. Le
116 I) EATH OF JULIANU.S. [CH. v.
lmonaent diminished the narrow span of life and empire allotted to Julian. He attempted, however, to prevent, or at least to protract, his ruin. He employed the venal faith of the praetorians, filled the city with unavailing preparations for war, drew limes round the suburbs, and even strengthened the fortieations of the palace; as if those last entrenchments could be defended without, hope of relief against a victorious invader. Fear and shame prevented the guards from deserting his standard; but they trembled at the name of the p.mian legions, commanded by an experienced general, and accustomed to vanquish the barbarians on the frozen Danube.* They quitted, with a sigh, the pleasures of the i. and theatres, to put on arms, whose use they had almost forgoto", and beneath the weight of which the Were oppressed. The unpractised elephants, whose uncout appearance, it Y." hoped would striké terror into the army où. Inorth, threw their unskilful riders; and the awkward ...tions of the marines, drawn from the fleet of Misenum, wo. an object of ridicule to the populace; whilst the senate enjoyed, with secret pleasure, the distress and weakness of the usurper." - E.ry motion of Julian betrayed his trembling perplexity. He insisted that Severus should be declared a public enemy by the senate. He entreated that the Pannonian general might be associated to the empire.f He sent public ambassadors of consular rank to negotiate with his rival; he despatched private assassins to take away his life. He designed that the vestal virgins, and all the colleges of priests, in their sacerdotal habits, and bearing before them the sacred pledges of the Roman religion, should advance, in solemn procession, to meet the Pannonion legions; and, at the same time, he vainly tried to interrogate; or to appease, i. i.ies, by magic ceremonies and unlawful sacrifices.S Gibbon so well remembered—WEscol, ..." This is not a puerile figure of rhetoric, but an allusion to a real fact, recorded by Dion, l. TI, p. 1181. It probably happened more than Once. + Dion, l. 73, i333. Herodian, i. 2, p. 81. There is no surer proof of the mili#o skill of the Romans, than their first surmounting the idle terror, and afterwards disdaining the dangerous use, of elephants in war. + These proceedings will not appear so contradictory, when we consider that he pursued one line of conduct while he hoped to maintain his ground, and the opposite after he despaired.—WENck.] Ś Hist,