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stale to enrich the military order, whose modesty in peace, »nd service in war, is best secured by an honorable poverty. The demeanor of Caracalla was haughty and full of pride; but with the troops he forgot even the proper dignity of his rank, encouraged their insolent familiarity, and, neglecting the essential duties of a general, affected to imitate the dress and manners of a common soldier.
It was impossible that such a character, and such conduct as that of Caracalla, could inspire either love or esteem; but as long as his vices were beneficial to the armies, he was secure from the danger of rebellion. A secret conspiracy, provoked by his own jealousy, was fatal to the tyrant. The Praetorian praefecture was divided between two ministers. The military department was intrusted to Adventus, an experienced rather than able soldier; and the civil affairs were transacted by Opilius Macrinus, who, by his dexterity in business, had raised himself, with a fair character, to that high office.' But his favor varied with the caprice of the emperor, and his life might depend on the slightest suspicion, or the most casual circumstance. Malice or fanaticism had suggested to an African, deeply skilled in the knowledge of futurity, a very dangerous prediction, that Macrinus and his son were destined to reign over the empire. The report was soon diffused through the province; and when the man was sent in chains to Rome, he still asserted, in the presence of the praefect of the city, the faith of his prophecy. That magistrate, who had received the most pressing instructions to inform himself of the successors of Caracalla, immediately communicated the examination of the African to the Imperial court, which at that time resided in Syria. But, notwithstanding the diligence of the public messengers, a friend of Macrinus found means to apprise him of the approaching danger. The emperor received the letters from Rome; and as he was then engaged in the conduct of a chariot race, he delivered them unopened to the Prffitorian
have been transposed, and that Caracalla added 5000 drachms to the donations made to the Praetorians, 1250 to those of the legionaries. The Praetorians, in fact, always received more than the others. The error of Gibbon arose from his considering that this referred to the annual pay of the soldiers, while it relates to the sum they received as a reward for their services on their discharge: iOXov rtli arparttat means recompense for service. Augustus had settled that the Praetorians, after sixteen campaigns, should receive 5000 drachms: the legionaries received only 3000 after twenty years. Caracalla added 5000 drachms to the donative of the Fraetorians, 1250 to that of the legionaries. Gibbon appears to have been mistaken Loth in confounding this donative on discharge with the annual w, and m not paying attention to the remark of ValoU on the '.-ansposiaoa ot the nam Mrs in the text. — G
Praefect, directing him to despatch the ordinary affairs, and to report the more important business that might be contained in them. Macrinus read his fate, and resolved to prevent it He inflamed the discontents of some inferior officers, and employed the hand of Martialis, a desperate soldier, who had been refused the rank of centurion. The devotion of Caracalla prompted him to make a pilgrimage from Edessa to the celebrated temple of the Moon at Carrhae.* He was attended by a body of cavalry; but having stopped on the road for some necessary occasion, his guards preserved a respectful distance, and Martialis, approaching his person under a pretence of duty, stabbed him with a dagger. The bold assassin was instantly killed by a Scythian archer of the Imperial guard. Such was the end of a monster whose life disgraced luman nature, and whose reign accused the patience of the Romans.39 The grateful soldiers forgot his vices, remembered Dnly his partial liberality, and obliged the senate to prostitute their own dignity and that of religion, by granting him a place among the gods. Whilst he was upon earth, Alexander the Great was the only hero whom this god deemed worthy his admiration. He assumed the name and qpsigns of Alexander, formed a Macedonian phalanx of guards, persecuted the disciples of Aristotle, and displayed, with a puerile enthusiasm, the only sentiment by which he discovered any regard for virtue or glory. We can easily conceive, that after the battle of Narva, and the conquest of Poland, Charles XII. (though he still wanted the more elegant accomplishments of the son of Philip) might boast of having rivalled his valor and magnanimity; but in no one action of his life did Caracalla express the faintest resemblance of the Macedonian hero, except in the murder of a great number of his own and of his father's friends.40
After the extinction of the house of Severus, the Roman world remained three days without a master. The choice of the army (for the authority of a distant and feeble senate was
"Dion, 1 . lxxviii. p. 1312. Herodian, 1 . iv. p. 168.
40 The fondness of Caracalla for the name and ensigns of Alexander is still preserved on the medals of that emperor. See Spanheim. de Usu Numismatum, Dissertat. xii. Herodian (1 . iv. p. 154) had seen very ridiculous pictures, in which a figure was drawn with ona side of the face liko Alexander, and the other like Caracalla.
* Carrhae, now Harran, between Edessa and Nisibis, famous for the defeat of Crassus — the Haran from whence Abraham sot o~it for the land if Canaan. This city has always been remarkable for its attachment to 3abaitm. — G.
little regarded) hung in anxious suspense, as no candidate piisented himself whose distinguished birth and merit could engage their attachment and unite their suffrages. The decisive weight of the Praetorian guards elevated the hopes of their praefects, and these powerful ministers began to assert their legal claim to fill the vacancy of the Imperial throne. Adventus, however, the senior praefect, conscious of his age and infirmities, of his small reputation, and his smaller abilities, resigned the dangerous honor to the crafty ambition of his colleague Macrinus, whose well-dissembled grief removed all suspicion of his being accessary to his master's death.41 The troops neither loved nor esteemed his character. They cast their eyes around in search of a competitor, and at last yielded with reluctance to his promises of unbounded liberality and indulgence. A short time after his accession, he conferred on his son Diadumenianus, at the age of only ten years, the Imperial title, and the popular name of Antoninus. The beautiful figure of the youth, assisted by an additional donative, for which the ceremony furnished a pretext, might attract, it waa hoped, the favor of the army, and secure the doubtful throne of Macrinus.
The authority of the new sovereign had been ratified by the cheerful submission of the senate and provinces. They exulted in their unexpected deliverance from a hated tyrant, and it seemed of little consequence to examine into the virtues of the successor of Caracalla. But as soon as the first transport* of joy and surprise had subsided, they began to scrutinize the merits of Macrinus with a critical severity, and to arraign the hasty choice of the army. It had hitherto been considered as a fundamental maxim ot the constitution, that the emperor must be always chosen in the senate, and the sovereign power, no longer exercised by the whole body, was always delegated to one of its members. But Macrinus was not a senator.49 The sudden elevation of the Praetorian presfects betrayed the meanness of their origin; and the equestrian order was still in possession of that great office, which commanded with arbi
41 Herodian, 1. iv. p. 169. Hist August, p. 94.
4* Dion, 1. lxxxviii. p. 1350. Elagabalus reproached his predecessor with daring to seat himself on the throne; though, as Frsetorian prefect, he could not have been admitted into the senate after the voice of the crier had ceared the house. The personal favor of Plautianus and Scjanus had broke through the established rule. They rose, indeed, from the equestrian order; but they preserved the prefecture, with the rank of senator, and even with the coo lulship.
nary sway the lives and fortunes of the senate. A murmur of indignation was heard, that a man whose obscure43 extraction had never been illustrated by any signal service, should dare to invest himself with the purple, instead of bestowing it on some distinguished senator, equal in birth and dignity to the splendor of the Imperial station. As soon as the character of Macrinus was surveyed by the sharp eye of discontent, some vices, and many defects, were easily discovered. The choice of his ministers was in many instances justly censured, and the dissatisfied people, with their usual candor, accused at once his indolent tameness and his excessive severity.44
His rash ambition had climbed a height where it was difficult to stand with firmness, and impossible to fall without instant destruction. Trained in the arts of courts and the forms of civil business, he trembled in the presence of the fierce and undisciplined multitude, over whom he had assumed the command; his military talents were despised, and his personal courage suspected; a whisper that circulated in the camp, disclosed the fatal secret of the conspiracy against the late emperor, aggravated the guilt of murder by the baseness of hypocrisy, and heightened contempt by detestation. To alienate the soldiers, and to provoke inevitable ruin, the character of a reformer was only wanting; and such was the peculiar hardship of his fate, that Macrinus was compelled to exercise that invidious office. The prodigality of Caracal la had left behind it a long train of ruin and disorder; and if that worthless tyrant had been capable of reflecting on the sure consequences of his own conduct, he would perhaps have enjoyed the dark prospect of the distress and calamities which he bequeathed to his successors.
In the management of this necessary reformation, Macrinus proceeded with a cautious prudence, which would have
45 He was a native of Csesarea, in Numidia, and began his fortune by serving in the household of Plautian, from whose ruin he narrowly escaped. His enemies asserted that ho was born a slave, and had exercised, among other infamous professions, that of Gladiator. The fashion of aspersing the birth and condition of an adversary seems to have lasted from the time of the Greek orators to the learned grammarians of the last age.
** Both Dion and Ilerodian speak of the virtues and vices of Macrinus with candor and impartiality: but the author of his life, in the Augustan History, seems to have implicitly copied some of th« venal writers, employed by Elagabalus. to blacken the memory of his predecessor.
restored health and vigor to the Roman army, in an easy and almost imperceptible manner. To the soldiers already engaged in the service, he was constrained to leave the dangerous privileges and extravagant pay given by Caracalla; but the new recruits were received on the more moderate though liberal establishment of Severus, and gradually formed to modesty and obedience.45 One fatal error destroyed the salutary effects of this judicious plan. The numerous army, assembled in the East by the late emperor, instead of being immediately dispersed by Macrinus through the several provinces, was suffered to remain united in Syria, during the winter that followed his elevation. In the luxurious idleness of their quarters, the troops viewed their strength and numbers, communicated their complaints, and revolved in theii minds the advantages of another revolution. The veterans, instead of being flattered by the advantageous distinction, were alarmed by the first steps of the emperor, which they considered as the presage of his future intentions. The recruits, with sullen reluctance, entered on a service, whose labors were increased while its rewards were diminished by a covetous and unwarlike sovereign. The murmurs of the army swelled with impunity into seditious clamors; and the nartial mutinies betrayed a spirit of discontent and disaffection, hat waited only for the slightest occasion to break out on every side into a general rebellion. To minds thus disposed. the occasion soon presented itself.
The empress Julia had experienced all the vicissitudes of fortune. From an humble station she had been raised to greatness, only to taste the superior bitterness of an exalted rank. She was doomed to ween ovei ine death of one of her sons, and over the life of the other. The cruel fate of Caracalla, though her good sense must have long taught her to expect it, awakened the feelings of a mother and of an empress. Notwithstanding the respectful civility expressed by the usurper towards the widow of Severus, she descended with a painful struggle into the condition of a subject, and soon withdrew herself, oy a voluntary death, from the anxious and
4* Dion. 1. lxxxiii. p. 1336. The sense of the author is as clear an the Intention of the emperor ; but Mr. Wotton has mistaken both, by understanding the distinction, not of veterans and recruits, but tit old and new logions. History of Rome, p. 347.