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by a fire which consumed the na or Thibet, the rhinoceros and the tional bank,* and the most sumptu- river-horse from Senegal, with the ous buildings of the city. To these elephant of Ceylon or Siam. The horrors, with a rapidity characteris- ostrich and the cameleopard, the tic of the Roman depravity, and pos- wild ass and the zebra, the chamois sible only under the most extensive and the ibex of Angora, -all brought demoralization of the public mind, their tributes of beauty or deformity succeeded festivals of gorgeous to these vast Aceldamas of Rome : pomp, and amphitheatrical exhibi- their savage voices ascended in tu. tions, upon a scale of grandeur ab- multuous uproar to the chambers of solutely unparalleled by all former the Capitol: a million of spectators attempts. Then were beheld, and sat round them: standing in the familiarized to the eyes of the Ro. centre was a single statuesque fiman mob-to children and to wo, gure-the Imperial sagittary, beautimen, animals as yet known to us, ful as an Antinous, and majestic as a says Herodian, only in pictures. Jupiter, whose hand was so steady Whatever strange or rare animal and whose eye so true, that he was could be drawn from the depths of never known to miss, and who, in India, from Siam and Pegu, or from this accomplishment at least, was so the unvisited nooks of Ethiopia, were absolute in his excellence, that, as now brought together as subjects for we are assured by a writer not disthe archery of the universal lord.+ posed to flatter him, the very foreInvitations (and the invitations of most of the Parthian archers and of kings are commands) had been scate the Mauritanian lancers (Tiagtualwe of tered on this occasion profusely; not, τοξικην ακριβαντες, και Μαυρεσιων οι ακοντιas heretofore, to individuals or to fa- suv ågosor) were not able to contend milies--but, as was in proportion to with him. Juvenal, in a well-known the occasion where an Emperor was passage upon the disproportionate the chief performer, to nations, endings of illustrious careers, drawPeople were summoned by circles ing one of his examples from Maof longitude and latitude to come rius, says, that he ought, for his own and see [Isacépesvar á un apotipov uents glory, and to make his end correiwgarscar per te nxnzoeldav--things that spondent to his life, to have died at eye had not seen nor ear heard of) the the moment when he descended specious miracles of nature brought from his triumphal chariot at the together from Arctic and from Tropic portals of the Capitol. And of Comdeserts, putting forth their strength, modus, in like manner, it their speed, or their beauty, and glo- affirmed, that, had he died in the rifying by their
deaths the matchless exercise of bis peculiar art, with a hand of the Roman king. There hecatomb of victims rendering howas beheld the lion from Bilidul- mage to his miraculous skill, by the gerid, and the leopard from Hindos- regularity of the files which they tan—the rein-deer from Polar lati- presented, as they lay stretched out tudes—the antelope from the Zaara- dying or dead upon the arena,—he and the leigb, or gigantic stag, from would have left a splendid and a Britain. Thither came the buffalo characteristic impression of himself and the bison, the white bull of upon that nation of spectators who Northumberland and Galloway, the had witnessed his performance. He unicorn from the regions of Nepaul was the noblest artist in his own pro
* Viz. the Temple of Peace; at that time the most magnificent edifice in Rome. Temples, it is well known, were the places used in ancient times as banks of deposit. For this function they were admirably fitted by their inviolable sanctity.
† What a prodigious opportunity for the Zoologist !- And considering that these shows prevailed for 500 years, during all which period the Amphitheatre gave bounties, as it were, to the hunter and the fowler of every climate, and that, by means of a stimulus so constantly applied, scarcely any animal, the shyest—rarest-fiercest, escaped the demands of the arena,—no one fact so much illustrates the inertia of the public mind in those days, and the indifference to all scientific pursuits, as that no annotator should have arisen to Pliny the elder---no rival to the immortal tutor of Alexander,
fession that the world has seen-in Emperor and by Marcia; that she archery he was the Robin Hood of had immediately called to her aid, Rome: he was in the very meridian and to the participation of her plot, of bis youth; and he was the most those who participated in her dans beautiful man of his own times ger; and that the proximity of their [τω καθ' εαυτον ανθρωπων καλλει ευπρεπισ- own intended fate had prescribed to 6a7*]. He would therefore have them an immediate attempt; the looked the part admirably of the circumstances of which were these. dying gladiator; and he would have At mid-day the Emperor was accusdied in his natural vocation. But it tomed to bathe, and at the same time was ordered otherwise : his death to take refreshments. On this occawas destined to private malice, and sion, Marcia, agreeably to her custo an ignoble hand. And much ob- tom, presented him with a goblet of scurity still rests upon the motives wine, medicated with poison. Of of the assassins, though its circum. this wine, having just returned from stances are reported with unusual the fatigues of the chase, Commodus micuteness of detail. One thing is drank freely, and almost immediately evident, that the public and patriotic fell into heavy slumbers; from which, motives assigned by the perpetrators however, he was soon aroused by as the remote causes of their con- deadly sickness. That was a case spiracy, cannot have been the true which the conspirators had not taken ones. The grave historian may into their calculations; and they now sum up his character of Commodus began to fear that the violent vomitby saying that, however richly en ing which succeeded might throw dowed with natural gifts, he abused off the poison. There was no time to them all to bad purposes; that he be lost; and the barbarous Marcia, derogated from his noble ancestors, who had so often slept in the arms and disavowed the obligations of of the young Emperor, was the per• his illustrious name; and, as the cli
son to propose that he should now max of his offences, that he dishonour- be strangled. A young gladiator, ed the purple--airceous étirndruparin named Narcissus, was therefore inby the baseness of his pursuits. All troduced into the room : what passed that is true, and more than that. But is not known circumstantially; but, these considerations were not of a as the Emperor was young and nature to affect his parasitical attend- athletic, though off his guard at the ants very nearly or keenly, Yet the moment, and under the disadvantage story runs—that Marcia, his privi- of sickness, and as he had himself leged mistress, deeply affected by the been regularly trained in the gladiaanticipation of some further outrages torial discipline, there can be little upon his high dignity which he was doubt that the vile assassin would then meditating, had carried the im- meet with a desperate resistance. portunity of her deprecations too And thus, after all, there is good far; that the irritated Emperor had reason to think that the Emperor consequently inscribed her name, in resigned his life in the character of company with others, (whom he had
a dying gladiator.* reason to tax with the same offence,
So perished the eldest and sole or whom he suspected of similar surviving son of the great Marcus sentiments,) in his little black book, Antoninus; and the crown passed or pocket souvenir of death; that into the momentary possession of this book, being left under the two old men, who reigned in succescushion of a sofa, had been conveyed sion each for a few weeks. The first into the hands of Marcia by a little of these was Pertinax, an upright pet boy, called Philo-Commodus, man, a good officer, and an unseawho was caressed equally by the sonable reformer; unseasonable for
• It is worthy of notice, that, under any suspension of the Imperatorial power or office, the Senate was the body to whom the Roman mind even yet continued to turn. In this case, both to colour their crime with a shew of public motives, and to interest this great body in their own favour by associating them in their own dangers, the conspirators pretended to have found a long roll of senatorial names included in the same page of condemnation with their own, A manifest fabrication !
those times, but more so for himself. who belonged peronally to the last, Lætus, the ringleader in the assassic and still retained his influence with nation of Commodus, had been at the first. Possibly his fears were that time the. Prætorian prefect-an alarmed; but, at all events, his cupioffice which a German writer consi. dity was not satisfied. He conceived ders as best represented to modern himself to have been ill rewarded ; ideas by the Turkish post of Grand and immediately resorting to the Vizier. Needing a protector at this same weapons which he had used moment, he naturally fixed his eyes against Commodus, he stimulated upon Pertinax-as then holding the the Prætorian guards to murder powerful command of city prefect their Emperor. Three hundred of (or governor of Rome). Him there- them pressed into the palace : Pertifore he recommended to the soldiery nax attempted to harangue them, -that is, to the Prætorian cohorts. and to vindicate himself; but not The soldiery had no particular ob- being able to obtain a hearing, he jection to the old general, if he and folded his robe about his head, called they could agree upon terms; his upon Jove the Avenger, and was image being doubtless appreciated as a mediately despatched. first-rate recommendation, in a case The throne was again empty after where it ensured a speedy renewal a reign of about eighty days; and of the lucrative bargain.
now came the memorable scandal of The only demur arose with Pertinax putting up the Empire to auction. himself: he had been leader of the There were two bidders, Sulpicianus troops in Britain, then superintendo and Didius Julianus.
The first, ent of the police in Rome, thirdly however, at that time governor of proconsul in Africa, and finally con. Rome, lay under a weight of suspisul and governor of Rome. In these cion, being the father-in-law of Pergreat official stations he stood near tinax, and likely enough to exact enough to the throne to observe the vengeance for his murder. He was dangers with which it was surround- besides outbid by Julianus. Sulpied; and it is asserted that he decli- cian offered about one hundred and ned the offered dignity. But it is sixty pounds a-man to the guards ; added, that, finding the choice al- his rival offered two hundred, and lowed him lay between immediate assured them besides of immediate death* and acceptance, he closed payment; “for,” said he, “I have with the proposals of the Prætorian the money at home, without needing cohorts, at the rate of about ninety- to raise it from the possessions of six pounds per man; which largess the crown." Upon this the Empire he paid by bringing to sale the rich was knocked down to the bighest furniture of the last Emperor. The bidder. So shocking, however, was danger which usually threatened a this arrangement to the Roman Roman Cæsar in such cases wag pride, that the guards durst not leave lest he should not be able to fulfil their new creation without military his contract. But in the case of protection. The resentment of an Pertinax the danger began from the unarmed mob, however, soon ceased moment when he had fulfilled it. to be of foremost importance; this Conceiving himself to be now relea- resentment extended rapidly to all sed from his dependency, he com the frontiers of the Empire, where menced his reforms, civil as well as the armies felt tbat the Prætorian military, with a zeal which alarmed cohorts had no exclusive title to all those who had an interest in giveaway the throne, and their leaders maintaining the old abuses. To two felt that in a contest of this nature, great factions he thus made himself their own claims were incomparably especially obnoxious—to the Præto- superior to those of the present ocrian cohorts, and to the courtiers un cupant. Three great candidates der the last reign. The connecting link therefore started forward - Septi. between these two parties was Lætus, mius Severus, who commanded the
• Historians have failed to remark the contradiction between this statement and the allegation that Lætus selected Pertinax for the throne on a consideration of his ability to protect the assassins of Commodus
armies in Illyria, Pescennius Niger the subsistence of the soldier made in Syria, and Albinus in Britain. more insecure, than by diminishing Severus, as the nearest to Rome, the general security of rights and marched and possessed himself of property to those who are not solthat city. Vengeance followed upon diers, from whom, after all, the all parties concerned in the late funds must be sought, by which the murder. Julianus, unable to com soldier himself is to be paid and plete his bargain, had already been nourished. The two sons of Severus, put to death, as a deprecatory offer- whose bitter enmity is so memoraing to the approaching army. Seve- bly put on record by their actions, rus himself inflicted death upon travelled simultaneously to Rome; Lætus, and dismissed the Prætorian but so mistrustful of each other, that cohorts. Thence marching against at every stage the two princes took his Syrian rival, Niger, who had for- up their quarters at different houses. merly been his friend, and who was Geta has obtained the sympathy of not wanting, in military skill, he historians, because he happened to overthrew him in three great bat be the victim; but there is reason to tles. Niger fled to Antioch, the seat think, that each of the brothers was of his late government, and was there conspiring against the other. The decapitated. Meantime Albinus, the weak credulity, rather than the conBritish commander-in-chief, had al- scious innocence, of Geta, led to the ready been won over by the title of catastrophe; he presented himself Cæsar, or adopted heir to the new at a meeting with his brother in the Augustus. But the hollowness of this presence of their common mother, bribe soon became apparent, and and was murdered by Caracalla in the two competitors met to decide his mother's arms. He was, howtheir pretensions at Lyons. In the ever, avenged; the horrors of that great battle which followed, Severus tragedy, and remorse for the twenty fell from his horse, and was at first thousand murders which had fol. supposed to be dead. But recover- lowed, never forsook the guilty Caing, he defeated his rival, who im- racalla. Quitting Rome, but purmediately committed suicide. Se- sued into every region by the bloody verus displayed his ferocious temper image of his brother, the Emperor sufficiently
by sending the head of henceforward led a wandering life Albinus to Rome. Other expressions at the head of his legions ; but never of his natural character soon follow was there a better illustration of the ed: he suspected strongly that Albi- poet's maxim, that nus had been favoured by the Senate; Remorse is as the mind in which it grows: forty of that body, with their wives If that be gentle, &c. and children, were immediately sa. For the remorse of Caracalla put on crificed to his wrath ; but he never no shape of repentance. On the conforgave the rest, nor endured to live trary, he carried anger and oppresupon terms of amity amongst them. sion wherever he moved ; and proQuitting Rome in disgust, be em- tected himself from plots only by ployed himself first in making war living in the very centre of a nomaupon the Parthians, who had natu- dic camp. Six years bad passed rally, from situation, befriended his away in this manner, when a mere Syrian rival. Their capital cities he accident led to his assassination. overthrew; and afterwards, by way for the sake of security, the office of of employing his armies, made war Prætorian Prefect had been divided in Britain. At the city of York he between two commissioners, one for died : and to his two sons, Geta and military affairs, the other for civil. Caracalla, he bequeathed, as his dy. The latter of these two officers was ing advice, a maxim of policy, Opilius Macrinus. This man has, which sufficiently indicates the situe by some historians, been supposed ation of the Empire at that period : to bave harboured no bad intentions; it was this—" To enrich the soldiery but, unfortunately, an astrologer had at any price, and to regard the rest foretold that he was destined to the of their subjects as so many ciphers.” throne. The prophet was laid in But, as a critical historian remarks, irons at Rome, and letters were desthis was a shortsighted and self-de- patched to Caracalla, apprizing him stroying policy; since in po way is of the case. These letters, as yet
unopened, were transferred by the death. Heliogabalus succeeded, and Emperor, then occupied in witness- reigned in the monstrous manner ing a race, to Macrinus, who thus which has rendered his name infabecame acquainted with the whole mous in history. In what way, howgrounds of suspicion against himself, ever, he lost the affections of the -grounds which, to the jealousy of army, has never been explained. the Emperor, he well knew would His mother, Soæmias, the eldest appear substantial proofs. Upon this daughter of Mesa, had represented he resolved to anticipate the Empe- herself as the concubine of Caracalla; ror in the work of murder. The and Heliogabalus, being thus accreheadquarters were then at Edessa; dited as the son of that Emperor, and upon his instigation, a disap- whose memory was dear to the solpointed centurion, named Martialis, diery, had enjoyed the full benefit of animated also by revenge for the that descent, nor can it be readily death of his brother, undertook to explained how he came to lose it. assassinate Caracalla. An oppor Here, in fact, we meet with an intunity soon offered, on a visit which stance of that dilemma which is so the Prince made to the celebrated constantly occurring in the history temple of the Moon at Carrhæ. The of the Cæsars :- If a prince is by temattempt was successful: the Empe- perament disposed to severity of ror perished; but Martialis paid the manners, and naturally seeks to impenalty of his crime in the same press his own spirit upon the comhour, being shot by a Scythian archer position and discipline of the army, of the body.guard.
we are sure to find that he was cut Macrinus, after three days' inter- off in his attempts by private assasregnum, being elected Emperor, be- sination or by public rebellion. On gan his reign by purchasing a peace the other hand, if he wallows in senfrom the Parthians. What the Em- suality, and is careless about all dispire chiefly needed at this moment, cipline, civil or military, we then find is evident from the next step taken as commonly that he loses the esteem by this Emperor. He laboured to
He laboured to and affections of the army to some restore the ancient discipline of the rival of severer habits. And in the armies in all its rigour. He was midst of such oscillations, and with aware of the risk he ran in this at- examples of such contradictory intempt; and that he was so, is the terpretation, we cannot wonder that best evidence of the strong necessity the Roman princes did not oftener which existed for reform. Perhaps, take warning by the misfortunes of however, he might have surmounted their predecessors. In the present his difficulties and dangers, had he instance, Alexander, the cousin of met with no competitor round whose Heliogabalus, without intrigues of person the military malcontents his own, and simply (as it appears) could rally. But such a competitor by the purity and sobriety of his soon arose ; and, to tlie astonishment conduct, bad alienated the affections of all the world, in the person of a of the army from the reigning Syrian.. The Emperor Severus, on prince. Either jealousy or prudence losing his first wife, had resolved to had led Heliogabalus to make an atstrengthen the pretensions of his tempt upon his rival's life; and this family by a second marriage with attempt had nearly cost him his own some lady having a regal "genesis," through the mutiny which it caused. that is, whose horoscope promised a
In a second uproar, produced by regal destiny. Julia Domna, a na some fresh intrigues of the Emperor tive of Syria, offered him this dowry, against his cousin, the soldiers beand she became the mother of Geta.
manageable, and they refu. A sister of this Julia, called Mæsa, sed to pause until they had massahad, through two different daughters, cred Heliogabalus, together with his two grandsons-Heliogabalus and mother, and raised his cousin AlexAlexander Severus. The mutineers ander to the throne. of the army rallied round the first of The reforms of this prince, who these; a battle was fought; and Ma- reigned under the name of Alexan. crinus, with his son Diadumenianus, der Severus, were extensive and whom he had adopted to the succes- searching ; not only in bis court, sion, were captured and put to which he purged of all notorious