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Carus was destined to expose the vanity of prediction. They were scarcely uttered before they were contradicted by hia death; an event attended with such ambiguous circumstances, that it may be related in a letter from his own secretary to the pnefect of the city. "Carus," says he, "our dearest emperor, was confined by sickness to his bed, when a furious tempest arose in the camp. The darkness which overspread the sky was so thick, that we could no longer distinguish each other; and the incessant flashes of lightning took from us the knowledge of all that passed in the general confusion, lrnmeJiately after the most violent clap of thunder, we heard a sudden cry that the emperor was dead; and it soon appeared, that his chamberlains, in a rage of grief, had set fire to the royal pavilion; a circumstance which gave rise to the report that Carus was killed by lightning. But, as far as we have been able to investigate the truth, his death was the natural effect of his disorder." 76
The vacancy of the throne was not productive of any disturbance. The ambition of the aspiring generals was checked by their natural fears, and young Numerian, with his absent brother Carinus, were unanimously acknowledged as Roman emperors. The public expected that the successor of Carus would pursue his father's footsteps, and, without allowing the Persians to recover from their consternation, would advance sword in Itand to the palaces of Susa and Ecbatana.77 But the legions, however strong in numbers and discipline, were
* Hist. August, p. 250. Yet Eutropius, Festus, Bufua, the two Victors, Jerome, Sidonius Apollinaris, Syncellus, and Zonaxas, all
find favorably received by Hase, the learned editor of Leo Diaoonus, commands respectful consideration. But the whole tone of the work appears to me altogether inconsistent with any period in which philosophv aid not stand, as it were, on some ground of equality with Christianity. The doctrine of the Trinity is sarcastically introduced rather as the strange doctrine of a new religion, than the established tenet of a faith universally prevalent. The argument, adopted from Solanus, concerning the formula of the procession of the Holy Ghost, is utterly worthless, as it is a mere quotation in the words of the Gospel of St. John, xv. 26. The only argument of any value is the historic one, from the allusion to toe recent violation of many virgins in the Island of Crete. But neither is the language of Niebuhr quito acctirate, nor his rel'eronce to the Acroases of Theodosius satisfactory. When, then, could this occurrence take place? Why not in the devastation of the island bv the Gothio pirates, during the reign of Claudius. Hist. Aug. in Claud, p. 814. edit. Vai. 1.ugd. Bat
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dismayed by the most abject superstition. Notwithstanding all the arts that were practised to disguise the manner of the late emperor's death, it was found impossible to remove the opinion of the multitude, and the power of opinion is irresistible. Places or persons struck with lightning were considered by the ancients with pious horror, as singularly devoted to the wrath of Heaven.78 An oracle was remembered, which marked the River Tigris as the fatal boundary of the Roman arms. The troops, terrified with the fate of Curus and with their own danger, called aloud on young Numerian to obey the will of the gods, and to" lead them away from this inauspicious scene of war. The feeble emperor was unable to subdue their obstinate prejudice, and the Persians wondered at the unexpected retreat of a victorious enemy.79
The intelligence of the mysterious fate of the late emperor was soon carried from the frontiers of Persia to Rome; and the senate, as well as the provinces, congratulated the accession of the sons of Carus. These fortunate youths were strangers, however, to that conscious superiority, either of birth or of merit, which can alone render the possession of a throne easy, and as it were natural. Born and educated in a private station, the election of their father raised them at once to the rank of princes; and his death, which happened about sixteen months afterwards, left them the unexpected legacy of a vast empire. To sustain with temper this rapid elevation, an uncommon share of virtue and prudence was requisite; and Carinus, the elder of the brothers, was more than commonly deficient in those qualities. In the Gallic war he discovered some degree of personal courage ;80' but from the moment of his arrival at Rome, he abandoned himself to the luxury of the capital, and to the abuse of his fortune. He was soft, yet cruel; devoted to pleasure, but destitute of taste; and though exquisitely susceptible of vanity, indifferent to the public esteem. In the course of a few months, he successively married and divorced nine wives, most of whom he left pregnant; and notwithstanding this legal inconstancy, found time to indulge
n See Festus and his commentators on the word Scribonianum Placet struck by lightning were surrounded' with a wall; thingt were buried with mysterious ceremony.
7* Vopiscus in Hist. August, p. 2fi0. Aurelius Victor deems U believe the prediction, and to approve the retreat.
m Nemcsian Cynrgeticon, v. 69. He wis a contemporary, but a poet.
such a variety of irregular appetites, as brought dishonor on himself and on the noblest houses of Rome. He beheld with inveterate hatred all those who might remember his former obscurity, or censure his present conduct. He banished, or put to death, the friends and counsellors whom his father had placed about him, to guide his inexperienced you'h; and he persecuted with the meanest revenge his school-fellows and companions, who had not sufficiently respected the latent majesty of the emperor. With the senators, Carinus affected a lofty and regal demeanor, frequently declaring, that he designed to distribute their estates among the populace of Rome. From the dregs of that populace he selected his favorites, and even his ministers. The palace, and even the Imperial table, were filled with singers, dancers, prostitutes, and all the various retinne of vice and folly. One of his doorkeepers 81 he intrusted with the government of the city. In the room of the Praetorian preefect, whom he put to death, Carinus substituted one of the ministers of his looser pleasures. Another, who possessed the same, or even a more infamous, title to favor, was invested with the consulship. A confidential secretary, who had acquired uncommon skill in the art of forgery, delivered the indolent emperor, with his own consent, from the irksome duty of signing his name.
When the emperor Carus undertook the Persian war, he was induced, by motives of affection as well as policy, to secure the fortunes of his family, by leaving in the hands of his eldest son the armies and provinces of the West. The intelligence which he soon received of the conduct of Carinus filled him with shame and regret; nor had he concealed his resolution of satisfying the republic by a severe act of justice, and of adopting, in the place of an unworthy son. the brave and virtuous Constantius, who at that time was governor of Dalmatia. But the elevation of Constantius was for a while deferred; and as soon as the father's death had released Carinus from the control of fear or decency, be displayed to the Romans the extravagancies of Elagabalus, aggravated by the cruelty of Domitian.89
* Cancellarius. This word, so humble in its origin, has, by a singular fortune, risen into the title of the first great office of state in the monarchies of Europe. See Casaubon and Salmoaius, ad Hist. August, p. 253.
■ Vopiscus in Hist. August, p. 253, 254. Eutropins, ix 19. Vic
The only merit of the administration of Carinus that history could record, or poetry celebrate, was the uncommon splendor with which, in his own and his brother's name, he exhibited the Roman games of the theatre, the circus, and tho amphitheatre. More than twenty years afterwards, when the courtiers of Diocletian represented to their frugal sovereign the fume and popularity of his munificent predecessor, ha acknowledged that the reign of Carinus had indeed been a reign of pleasure.83 But this vain prodigality, which the prudence of Diocletian might justly despise, was enjoyed with surprise and transport by the Roman people. The oldest of the citizens, recollecting the spectacles of former days, the triumphal pomp of Probus or Aurelian, and the secular games of the emperor Philip, acknowledged that they were all surpassed by the superior magnificence of Carinus.84
The spectacles of Carinus may therefore be best illustrated by the observation of some particulars, which history has condescended to relate concerning those of his predecessors. If we confine ourselves solely to the hunting of wild beasts, however we may censure the vanity of the design or the cruelty of the execution, we are obliged to confess that neither before nor since the time of the Romans so much art and expense have ever been lavished for tho amusement of the people.85 By the order of Probus, a great quantity of large trees, torn up by the roots, were transplanted into the midst of the circus The spacious and shady forest was immediately filled with a thousand ostriches, a thousand stags: a thousand fallow deer, and a thousand wild boars; and all his variety of game was abandoned to the riotous impetuosity of the multitude. The tragedy of the succeeding day consisied in the massacre of a hundred lions, an equal number of lionesses, two hundred leopards, and three hundred bears.86 1 he collection prepared
tor Junior. The reign of Diocletian indeed was so long and prosperous, that it must have been very unfavorable to the reputation of Carinus.
a Vopiscus in Hist. August. p. 251. He calls hint Carns, but the sense is sufficiently obvious, and the words were often confounded
** See Calphurnius, Eclog. vii. 43. We may observe, that the spectacles of Probus were still recent. and that the poet is seconded by the historian.
• The philosopher Montaigne (Essais, 1, iii. 6) fives a very just and lively view of Roman magnificence in these spectacles. M Vopiscus in Hist. August. p 240
by the younger Gorilian for his triumph, and which his successor exhibited in the secular games, was less remarkable by the number than by the singularity of the animals. Twenty zebras displayed their elegant forms and variegated beauty to the eyes of the Roman people.81 Ten elks, and as many camelopards, the loftiest and most harmless creatures that wander over the plains of Sarmatia and ^Ethiopia, were contrasted with thirty African hyaenas and ten Indian tigers, the most implacable savages of the torrid zone. The unoffending strength with which Nature has endowed the greater quadrupeds, was admired in the rhinoceros, the hippopotamus of the Nile," and a majestic troop of thirty-two elephants.89 While the populace gazed with stupid wonder on the splendid show, the naturalist might indeed observe the figure and properties of so many different species, transported from every part of the ancient world into the amphitheatre of Rome. But this accidental benefit, which science might derive from folly, is surely insufficient to justify such a wanton abuse of the public riches. There occurs, however, a single instance in the first Punic war, in which the senate wisely connected this amusement of the multitude with the interest of the state. A confciderable number of elephants, taken in the defeat of the Carthaginian army, were driven through the circus by a few slaves, armed only with blunt javelins.*0 The useful spectacle served to impress the Roman soldier with a just contempt for those unwieldy animals; and he no longer dreaded to encounter them in the ranks of war.
The hunting or exhibition of wild beasts was conducted with a magnificence suitable to a people who styled themselves the masters of the world; nor was the edifice appropriated to that entertainment less expressive of Roman greatness. Posterity
"They are called Onagri; but the number is too inconsiderable for mere wild asses. Cuper (de Elephantis Exercitat. ii. 7) has proved from Oppian, Dion, and an anonymous Greek, that zebras have been seen at Bome. They were brought from some island of the ocean, perhaps Madagascar.
88 Carinus gave a hippopotamus, (see Calphurn. Eclog. vi. 60.) In the latter spectacles, I do not recollect any crocodiles, of which Augustus once exhibited thirty-six. Dion Cassius, 1. lv. p. 781.
** Capitolin. in Hist. August, p. 164, 165. We are not acquainted with the animals which he calls archeleonta; some read irgaleontet, •tilers agrioleontes: both corrections are very nugatory.
*> Plin. Hist Natur. viii. 6, from the annals of Piso.