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pompous festiv .Is.39 As soon as the intelligence of the atrocious murder of Pertinax had reached Antioch, the wishes of Asia invited Niger to assume 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 jEthiopia33 to the Hadriatic, 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 l>e 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,94 Niger trifled away in the luxury of Antioch those irretrievable moments which were diligently improved by the decisive activity of Severus.95
The country of Pannonia and Dalmatia, which occupied the space between the Danube and the Hadriatic, 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 exercised the vigilant prudence of Tiberius at the head of the collected force of the empire.96 The Pannonians yielded at length to the arms and institutions of Rome. Their recent subjection, however, the neighborhood, and oven the mixture, of the unconquered tribes, and perhaps
** Herod. 1. ii. 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.
u 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 history,
44 Dion, 1. lxxiii. p. 1238. Herod. 1 . ii. p. 67. A verse in every one's mouth at that time, seems to express the general opinion of the three rivals ; Optimus est Niger, [Ftucvs, which preserves the quantitv, —M.J bonus A/er, pessimus AUna. Hist. August, p. 75.
a Herodian, 1 . ii. p. 71.
** See an account of that memorable war in Velleius Paterculu*, ii 110, fcc, who served in the army of Tiberius.
im climate, adapted, is it has been observed, to the producing uf great bodies ind slow minds,87 all contributed to preserve some remains of their original ferocity, and under th» lame and uniform countenance of Roman provincials, the lardy features of tne natives were still to be discerned. Their warlike youth afforded an inexhaustible supply of recruits U> rite legions stationed on the banks of the Danube, and which, "ium a perpetual warfare against the Germans and Sarma!mns, were deservedly esteemed the best troops in the service.
The Paononian army was at this time commanded by Septimius Severus, a native of Africa, who, in the gradual ascent of private honors, had concealed his daring ambition, which was never diverted from its steady course by the allurements of pleasure, the apprehension of danger, or the feelings of humanity.38 On the first news of the murder of Pertinax, he assembled his troops, painted in the most lively colors the crime, the insolence, and the 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 honorable donative, double in value to the infamous bribe with which Julian had purchased the empire.99 The acclamations of the army immediately saluted Severus with the names of Augustus, Pertinax, and Emperor; and ho thus attained the lofty station to which he was invited, by conscious merit and a long train of dreams and omens, the fruitful otfsprings either of his superstition or policy.30
*' Such is the reflection of Horodian, 1.ilp. 74. Will the modern Austrian* allow the influence?
M 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.
m Pannonia was too poor to supply such a sum. It was probably promised in the camp, and paid at Rome, after the victory. In fixing the sum, I have adopted the conjecture of Casaubon. See Hist: August. p. 66. Comment. p. li5.
*o Herodian, 1 . ii. p. 78. Severus was declared emperor on the banks of the Danube, either at Carnuntum, according to Spartianus, rHist. August. p. 65,) or else at Sabaria, according to Victor. Mr. Hume, in supposing that the birth and dignity of Severus were too much inferioi 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, opposite to the mouth of the Morava: its position is Joubtful, either Fettonel or Haimburg. A littls intermediate Tillage seems VOL. I. 12
The new candidate for empire saw and improved the pecu liar 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 Punnonian army might in ten days appear in sight of Rome.31 By a celerity proportioned to the greatness of the occasion, he might reasonably hope to revenge Pertinax, punish Julian, and receive tho homage of the senate and people, as their lawful emperor, before his competitors, separated from Italy by an immense tract of sea and land, were apprised 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 armor, at the head of his columns, no 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 the hardships of the meanest soldier, whilst he kept in view the infinite superiority of his reward.
The wretched Julian had expected, and thought himself prepared, to dispute the empire with the governor of Syria, but 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 passed the Alps; that the Italian cities, unwilling or unable to oppose his progress, had received him with the warmest professions of joy and duty; that the important place of Ravenna had surrendered without resistance, and that the Hadriatic fleet was in the hands of the conqueror. The enemy was now within two hundred and fifty miles of Rome; and every moment diminished the narrow span of life and empire allotted to Julian.
He attempted, however, to prevent, or at least to protract, his ruin. He implored the venal faith of the Praetorians, filled the city with unavailing preparations for war, drew lines round the suburbs, and even strengthened the fortifications of the palace; as if those last intrenchments could be defended, without hope of relief, against a victorious invader. Fear and
M Velleius Paterculus, 1. ii. c. 3. We must reckon the march from the Dearest verge of Pannonia, and extend the sight of the city as far as two hundred miles.
to indicate by its name (Altenburg) the site of an oil .own. K'Anvill* ©lOgr. Ai c. sabaria, now Sftrvar. — O. Compare note 37- — M.
shame prevented the guards from deserting his standard; but they trembled at the name of the Pannonian legions, commanded by an experienced general, and accustomed to vanquish the barbarians on the frozen Danube.3'2 They quitted with a sigh, the pleasures of the baths and theatres, to pu: Dn arms, whose use they had almost forgotten, and beneath the weight of which they were oppressed. The unpractised elephants, whose uncouth appearance, it was hoped, would strike terror into the army of the north, threw their unskilful riders; and the awkward evolutions of the marines, drawn from the fleet of Misenum, were an object of ridicule to the populace; whilst the senate enjoyed, with secret pleasure, the distress and weakness of the usurper.33
Every 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. 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 Pannonian legions; and, at the same time, he vainly tried to interrogate, or to appease, the fates, by magic ceremonies and unlawful sacrifices.*1
Severus, who dreaded neither his arms nor his enchantments, guarded himself from the only danger of secret conspiracy, by the faithful attendance of six hundred chosen men, who never quitted his person or their cuirasses, either by night
a This is not a puerile figure of rhetoric, but an allusion to a real tact recorded by Dion, 1 . lxxi. p. 1181. It probably happened more than once.
"Dion, 1. Ixxiii. p. 1233. Herodian, 1 . ii. p. 81. There is no surer proof of the military skill of the Romans, than their first surmounting the idle terror, and afterwards disdaining the dangerous use, of elephants in war.*
* Hist. August, p. 62, 63.t
* These elephants were kept for processions, perhaps for the games. See Herod, in loc. — M.
t Qua ad speculum dicunt fieri in qno pueri praeligatis oralis, incantato Tertice, respicere dicuntur. * • • Tuncque puer vidisse dicitur et adventum 8*reri et Juliani decessionem. This seems to have been a practice some•hat similar to that of which our recent Egyptian travellers relate Bucl (xtraor'Unary circumstances. See also Apuleius, Orat. de Magia. «.» M.
or by day, during the whole march. Advancing with a sleuay and rapid course, he passed, without difficulty, the defiles of the Apennine, received into his party the troops and ambas sudors sent to retard his progress, and made a short halt at Interamma, about seventy miles from Rome. His victory was already secure, but the despairof the Praetorians might have rendered it bloody; and Severus had the laudable ambition of ascending the throne without drawing the sword.-15 His emissaries, dispersed in the capital, assured the guards, that provided they would abandon their worthless prince, aud the perpetrators of the murder of Pertinax, to the justice of the conqueror, he would no longer consider that melancholy event as the act of the whole body. The faithless Praetorians, whose resistance was supported only by sullen obstinacy, gladly complied with the easy conditions, seized the greatest part of the assassins, and signified to the senate, that they no longer defended the cause of Julian. That assembly, convoked by the consul, unanimously acknowledged Severus as lawful emperor, decreed divine honors to Pertinax, and pronounced a sentence of deposition and death against his unfortunate successor. Julian was conducted into a private apartment of the baths of the palace, and beheaded as a common criminal, after having purchased, with an immense treasure, an anxious and precarious reign of only sixty-six days.36 The almost incredible expedition of Severus, who, in so short a space of time, conducted a numerous army from the banks of the Danube to those of the Tyber, proves at once the plenty of provisions produced by agriculture and commerce, the goodness of the roads, the discipline of the legions, and the indolent, subdued temper of the provinces.37
* Victor and Eutropius, viii. 17, mention a combat near the Milvian bridge, the Ponte Molle, unknown to the better and more ancient writers.
M Dion, 1. lxxiii. p. 1240. Herodian, 1. ii. p. 83. Hist. August p. 63.
n From these sixty-six days, we must first deduct sixteen, as Pertinax was murdered on the 28th of March, and Severus most probably elected on the 13th of Apri1 . (see Hist. August, p. 65, and Tilleraont. Hist, des Empereurs, torn. iii. p. 393, note 7.) We cannot allow less than ten days after his election, to put a numerous army in motion. Forty days remain for this rapid march; and as we may compute about eight hundred miles from Bome to the neighborhood of Vienna, the army of Severus marched twenty miles every lay without halt or intermission.