[237 A.D.]

rank to pay such sums as would have quite ruined them. In despair, they assembled the peasantry on their estates, and having gained over part of the soldiers, they one night surprised the procurator and slew him and those who defended him. Knowing that they had no safety but in a general revolt, they resolved to offer the empire to M. Antonius Gordianus, the governor of the province, an illustrious senator of the venerable age of eighty years. They came to him as he was resting after giving audience in the morning, and flinging the purple of a standard over him hailed him as Augustus. Gordian declined the proffered dignity, but when he reflected that Maximin would never pardon a man who had been proclaimed emperor, he deemed it the safer course to run the hazard of the contest, and he consented to accept the empire, making his son his colleague. He then proceeded to Carthage, whence he wrote to the senate and people, and his friends at Rome, notifying his elevation to the empire.

The intelligence was received with the greatest joy at Rome. The two Gordians were declared Augusti; and Maximin and his son, whom he had ,associated with him in the empire, and their friends, public enemies, and re


wards were promised to those who would kill them; but the decree was ordered to be kept secret till all the necessary preparations should have been made. Soon after it was given out that Maximin was slain. The edicts of the Gordians were then published, their images and letters were carried into the praetorian camp, and forthwith the people rose in fury, cast down and broke the images of Maximin, fell on and massacred his officers and the informers; and many seized this pretext for getting rid of their creditors and their private enemies. Murder and pillage prevailed through the city. The senate meantime having advanced too far to recede, wrote a circular to all the governors of provinces, and appointed twenty of their body to put Italy into a state of defence.

Maximin was preparing to cross the Danube against the Sarmatians when he heard of what had taken place at Rome. His rage and fury passed aM bounds. He menaced the whole of the senate with bonds or death, and promised their properties, and those of the Africans, to his soldiers; but finding that they did not show all the alacrity he had expected, he began to fear for his power. His spirits, however, soon rose When tidings came that his rivals were no more; for Capelianus, governor of Mauretania, being ordered by the Gordians to quit that province, marched against Carthage at the head of a body of legionaries and Moors. The younger Gordian gave him battle, and was defeated and slain, and his father on hearing the [237-238 A.d.]

melancholy tidings strangled himself. Capelianus pillaged Carthage and the other towns, and exercised all the rights of a conqueror (237). When the fatal tidings reached Rome the consternation was great, but the senate, seeing they could not now recede, chose as emperors in the place of the Gordians M. Clodius Pupienus Maximus and D. Caelius Balbinus, the former to conduct the military, the latter the civil affairs of the state. To satisfy the people, a grandson of the elder Gordian, a boy of twelve years of age, was associated with them as caesar. The new emperors were elected about the beginning of July, and Pupienus forthwith left Rome to oppose Maximin. The remainder of the year was spent on both sides in making preparations for the war, and in the following spring (238) Maximin put his troops in motion for Italy. He passed the Alps unopposed, but found the gates of Aquileia closed against him. His offers of pardon being rejected, he laid siege to the town; it was defended with the obstinacy of despair. Ill success augmented the innate ferocity of Maximin; he put to death several of his officers; these executions irritated the soldiers, who were besides suffering all kinds of privations, and discontent became general. As Maximin was reposing one day at noon in his tent, a party of the Alban soldiers approached it with the intention of killing him. They were joined by his guards, and when he awoke and came forth with his son they would not listen to him, but killed them both on the spot, and cut off their heads. Maximin's principal ministers shared his fate. His reign had lasted only three years.

Pttpienus (M. Clodius Pupienus Maximus), Balbinus (D. C^elius Balbinus), And Gordian (M. Antonius Gokdianus), 238-244 A.d. The joy at Rome was extreme when the news of the death of Maximin arrived. Pupienus, who was at Ravenna, hastened to Aquileia, and received the submission of the army. He distributed money to the legions, and then sending them back to their usual quarters returned to Rome with the praetorians and a part of the army of the Rhine, in which he could confide. He and his colleagues entered the city in a kind of triumph. The administration of Pupienus and Balbinus was of the best kind, and the senate and people congratulated themselves on the choice they had made. But the praetorians were far from being contented; they felt as if robbed of their right of appointing an emperor; and they were annoyed at the German troops being retained in the city, as arguing a distrust of themselves. Unfortunately, too, there prevailed a secret jealousy between the two emperors, and it is probable that concord would not long have subsisted between them under any circumstances. The praetorians, having to no purpose sought a pretext for getting rid of the emperors, at length took advantage of the celebration of the Capitoline games, at which almost everyone was present, and the emperors remained nearly alone in the palace. They proceeded thither in fury. Pupienus, when aware of their approach, proposed to send for the Germani, but Balbinus, fearing that it was meant to employ them against himself, refused his consent. Meantime the praetorians arrived, forced the entrance, seized the two aged emperors, tore their garments, treated them with every kind of indignity, and were dragging them to their camp, till hearing that the Germans were coming to their aid, they killed them and left their bodies lying in the street. They carried the young Gordian with them to their camp, [238-248 A.D.J

where they proclaimed him emperor, and the senate, the people, and the provinces readily acquiesced in his elevation.

The youthful emperor was the object of general affection; the soldiers; called him their child, the senate their son, the people their delight. He was of a lively and agreeable temper; and he was zealous in the acquisition of knowledge, in order that he might not be deceived by those about him. In the first years, however, of his reign public affairs were indifferently managed. His mother, who was not a MamEea, allowed her eunuchs and freedmen to sell all the great offices of the state (perhaps she shared in their gains), and in consequence many improper appointments were made. But the marriage of the young emperor (241) brought about a thorough reformation. He espoused the daughter of Misitheus, a man distinguished in the cultivation of letters, and he made his father-in-law his praetorian prefect, and guided himself by his counsels. Misitheus, who was a man of virtue and talent as well as of learning, discharged the duties of his office in the ablest manner.

A Persian war soon called the emperor to the East (242). Sapor (Shapur),. the son and successor of Artaxerxes, had invaded Mesopotamia, taken Nisibis, Carrhae, and other towns, and menaced Antioch. But the able conduct of Misitheus, when the emperor arrived in Syria, speedily assured victory to the Roman arms; the towns were all recovered, and the Persian monarch was obliged to repass the Tigris. Unfortunately for Gordian and the empire, Misitheus died in the following year (243), to the great regret of the whole army, by whom he was both beloved and feared. The office of praetorian prefect was given to M. Julius Philippus, who is accused, though apparently without reason, of having caused the death of his predecessor. Now, however, having in effect the command of the army, Philip aspired tothe empire. He spoke disparagingly of the youth of Gordian; he contrived, by diverting the supplies, to cause the army to be in want, and then laid the; blame on the emperor. At length (244), after a victory gained over the Persians on the banks of the Chaboras, he led the troops into a country where no provisions could be procured: a mutiny in consequence ensued, in which the emperor was slain, and Philip was proclaimed in his place. Gordian was only nineteen years of age when he met his untimely fate; he had reigned five years and eight months. The soldiers raised him a tomb on the spot, and the senate placed him among the gods.

Philip (M. Julius Philippus), 244-249 A.d.

The adventurer who had now attained the imperial purple was an Arabby birth, and it is even pretended a Christian in religion. He probably entered the Roman service in his youth, and gradually rose to rank in the army.

Being anxious to proceed to Rome, Philip lost no time in concluding a treaty with Sapor. He then, after a short stay at Antioch, set out for Italy. At Rome he used every means to conciliate the senators by liberality and kindness, and he never mentioned the late emperor but in terms of respect. To gain the affections of the people, he formed a reservoir to supply with water the part of the city beyond the Tiber.

In the fifth year of his reign (248), Rome having then attained her one thousandth year, Philip, in conjunction with his son, now associated with him in the empire, celebrated with great magnificence the secular gamesT24S-250 Aj>.]

These had been already solemnised by Augustus, by Claudius, by Domitian, and Severus, and Rome now witnessed them for the last time. Philip would appear to have acted unwisely in committing extensive commands to his own relations; for in Syria, where his brother Priscus, and in Moesia, where his father-in-law Severianus commanded, rival emperors were proclaimed. The Syrian rebel was named Jotapianus; the Moesian was a centurion, named P. Carvilius Marinus. Philip, it is said, in alarm, called on the senate to support him or to accept his resignation (249); but while the other senators maintained silence, Decius, a man of rank and talent, reassured him, speaking slightingly of the rebels, and asserting that they could not stand against him. His prediction proved correct, for they both were shortly after slain. Philip then obliged Decius, much, it is said, against his inclination, to take the command of the Moesian and Pannonian legions. But when Decius reached the army, the soldiers insisted on investing him with the purple. He wrote to the A Roman Helmet

emperor assuring him of his fidelity;but Philip would not trust to his declarations, and leaving his son at Rome with a part of the praetorians, he put himself at the head of his troops to chastise him. The armies met near Verona; Philip was defeated and slain, and when the news reached Rome, the praetorians slew his son and proclaimed Decius.

Decius (C. Messius Quintus Trajanus Decius), 249-251 A.d. Decius was born at Bubalia, a town near Sirmium in Pannonia. He was either forty-eight or fifty-eight years of age, it is uncertain which, when he was proclaimed emperor; and from the imperfect accounts which we have of his reign he would seem to have been a man of considerable ability. His reign was, however, brief and unquiet. It had hardly commenced when he had to go in person to quell an insurrection in Gaul, and all the rest of it was occupied in war with the Goths. This people, whose original seat seems to have been the Scandinavian peninsula, had at an early period crossed the Baltic, and settled on its southern coast. They had gradually advanced southwards, and they now had reached the Euxine. In the time of Alexander Severus they had made inroads into Dacia; and in that of Philip they ravaged both that province and Moesia. In the first year of Decius (250) the Gothic king Cniva passed the Danube at the head of seventy thousand warriors, and laid siege to the town of Eustesium (Novi); being repelled by the Roman general Gallus, he advanced against Nicopolis, whence he was driven by the emperor or his son (it is uncertain which) with a loss of thirty thousand men. Undismayed by his reverses he crossed Mount Haemus, in the hope of surprising Philippopolis; Decius followed him, but his camp at Bercea was surprised by the Goths and his troops were cut to pieces. Philippopolis stood a siege of some duration; but it was taken, and the greater part of its inhabitants were massacred. [280-253 A.d.}


The Goths now spread their ravages into Macedonia, the governor of which,. Philip's brother Priscus, assumed the purple under their protection.

It seems most probable that it was the younger Decius who met with these reverses, for the emperor must have been at Rome, as we find that on his leaving it (251) to direct the Gothic war, a person named Julius Valens was declared emperor, to the great joy of the people. He was, however, killed shortly after. Decius, who was worthy of empire, was meantime amidst the cares of war engaged in the visionary project of restoring the longdeparted public virtue which had once ennobled Rome. With this view he proposed to revive the office of censor, and the choice of the person being left to the senate they unanimously voted it (October 27), to P. Licinius Valerianus as being the man most worthy of it. The decree was transmitted to the emperor, who was in Thrace; he read it aloud in a large assembly, and exhorted Valerian, who was present, to accept the proffered dignity. Valerian would fain excuse himself. We know not if the emperor was satisfied with his excuses, but from the turn which public affairs took the censorship was never exercised.

Decius was successful against the Goths, who offered to surrender their booty and prisoners if allowed to repass the Danube; but the emperor, who was resolved to strike such a blow as would daunt the barbarians and make them henceforth respect the Roman arms, refused all terms. The Goths therefore gave him battle in a place where a part of their front was covered by a morass. The younger Decius was slain by an arrow in the beginning of the action; but the emperor crying out that the loss of one soldier did not signify, led on his troops. In the attempt to cross the morass they were pierced by the arrows of the enemy, or swallowed up in the mire, and the body of the emperor was never found.

Gallus (C. Vibius Trebonianus Gallus), 251-253 A.d.

The senate, it is said, but more probably the army, conferred the vacant purple on Gallus, the governor of Moesia. He adopted Hostilianus, the remaining son of Decius, and gave him the title of Augustus; but this youth dying soon after of the plague, Gallus associated his own son Volusianus in the empire. Unable probably to resist the victorious Goths, Gallus agreed that they should depart with their booty and prisoners, and even consented to pay them annually a large sum of gold. He then set out for Rome, where he remained for the rest of his reign, ruling with great mildness and equity.

The Goths and their allies, heedless of treaties, again (253) poured over the Danube; but JEmilianus, the governor of Moesia, gave them a signal defeat, and his victorious troops forthwith proclaimed him emperor. Without a moment's delay he put them in motion for Rome. Gallus advanced to engage him; the troops came in sight of each other at Interamna (Terni), and those of Gallus seeing themselves the weaker, and gained by the promises of JEmilianus, murdered the emperor and his son, and passed over to the side of the rebel.

Jsmilianus (C. Julius .ssmilianus), 253 A.d.

JEmilianus is said to have been a Moor by birth. Of his previous history nothing is known. He wrote to the senate to say that they should have the whole civil administration, and that he would be no more than their general* and that assembly readily acquiesced in his elevation.

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