The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire
By Edward Gibbon
Greatness and discontent of Severus
          THE ascent to  greatness,  however  steep and dangerous, may
          entertain  an  active  spirit  with  the  consciousness  and
          exercise of its  own  powers; but the possession of a throne
          could  never  yet   afford  a  lasting  satisfaction  to  an
          ambitious  mind.  This   melancholy   truth   was  felt  and
          acknowledged by Severus.  Fortune  and  merit  had,  from an
          humble  station, elevated  him  to  the  first  place  among
          mankind. "He had  been all things," as he said himself, "and
          all was of little value."(1) Distracted with the care, not of 
          acquiring, but of  preserving  an empire, oppressed with age
          and infirmities, careless  of  fame, (2)  and  satiated  with 
          power, all his  prospects of life were closed. The desire of
          perpetuating  the greatness  of  his  family  was  the  only
          remaining wish of his ambition and paternal tenderness.

His wife the empress Julia
          Like most of the Africans, Severus was passionately addicted
          to the vain  studies  of magic and divination, deeply versed
          in the interpretation  of  dreams  and  omens, and perfectly
          acquainted with the science of judicial astrology; which, in
          almost every age,  except  the  present,  has maintained its
          dominion over the  mind  of  man. He had lost his first wife
          whilst he was governor of the Lyonnese Gaul.(3) In the choice 
          of a second,  he  sought  only  to connect himself with some
          favourite of fortune;  and as soon as he had discovered that
          a young lady  of  Emesa in Syria  had a royal nativity he
          solicited, and obtained  her  hand.(4) Julia Domna (for that 
          was her name) deserved all that the stars could promise her.
          She possessed, even  in  an advanced age, the attractions of
          beauty,(5) and  united  to a lively imagination a firmness of 
          mind, and strength  of judgment, seldom bestowed on her sex.
          Her amiable qualities  never made any deep impression on the
          dark and jealous  temper  of  her  husband, but in her son's
          reign she administered  the principal affairs of the empire,
          with a prudence  that  supported  his  authority; and with a
          moderation that sometimes  corrected his wild extravagances.
         (6) Julia applied herself to letters and philosophy, with some 
          success, and with  the most splendid reputation. She was the
          patroness of every  art,  and  the  friend  of  every man of
          genius. (7)  The   grateful   flattery  of  the  learned  has 
          celebrated her virtue;  but, if we may credit the scandal of
          ancient history, chastity  was  very far from being the most
          conspicuous virtue of the empress Julia.(8) 

          Two sons, Caracalla (9)  and  Geta,  were  the  fruit of this 
          marriage, and the  destined  heirs  of  the empire. The fond
          hopes of the  father,  and  of  the  Roman  world, were soon
          disappointed  by  these   vain  youths,  who  displayed  the
          indolent security of  hereditary  princes; and a presumption
          that  fortune  would   supply   the   place   of  merit  and
          application. Without any  emulation  of  virtue  or talents,
          they discovered, almost  from  their  infancy,  a  fixed and
          implacable antipathy  for   each   other.  Their  aversion,
          confirmed by years,  and  fomented  by  the  arts  of  their
          interested favourites, broke  out in childish, and gradually
          in more serious,  competitions;  and, at length, divided the
          theatre, the circus,  and  the  court,  into  two  factions;
          actuated by the hopes and fears of their respective leaders.
          The  prudent emperor  endeavoured,  by  every  expedient  of
          advice and authority,  to  allay this growing animosity. The
          unhappy discord of  his  sons clouded all his prospects, and
          threatened to overturn  a throne raised with so much labour,
          cemented with so  much blood, and guarded with every defence
          of arms and  treasure.  With an impartial hand he maintained
          between them an  exact  balance of favour, conferred on both
          the rank of  Augustus,  with  the revered name of Antoninus;
          and  for  the  first  time  the  Roman  world  beheld three
          emperors.(10) Yet  even  this  equal  conduct  served only to 
          inflame the contest,  whilst  the  fierce Caracalla asserted
          the right of  primogeniture, and the milder Geta courted the
          affections of the people and the of soldiers. In the anguish
          of a disappointed  father,  Severus foretold that the weaker
          of his sons  would fall a sacrifice to the stronger; who, in
          his turn, would be ruined by his own vices.(11) 

The Caledonian war.
          In these circumstances  the intelligence of a war in Britain
          and of an  invasion  (A.D.  208)  of  the  province  by  the
          barbarians of the  North,  was  received  with  pleasure  by
          Severus. Though the  vigilance of his lieutenants might have
          been sufficient to  repel  the distant enemy, he resolved to
          embrace the honourable  pretext of withdrawing his sons from
          the  luxury  of   Rome,  which  enervated  their  minds  and
          irritated their passions;  and of inuring their youth to the
          toils of war  and  government.  Notwithstanding his advanced
          age (for he  was  above  threescore),  and  his  gout, which
          obliged him to  be  carried  in  a  litter,  he  transported
          himself in person  into  that remote island, attended by his
          two  sons, his  whole  court,  and  a  formidable  army.  He
          immediately passed the  walls  of Hadrian and Antoninus, and
          entered the enemy's country, with a design of completing the
          long attempted conquest  of  Britain.  He  penetrated to the
          northern extremity of  the  island without meeting an enemy.
          But the concealed  ambuscades  of  the Caledonians, who hung
          unseen on the  rear  and flanks of his army, the coldness of
          the climate, and  the  severity of a winter march across the
          hills and morasses  of  Scotland,  are reported to have cost
          the Romans above  fifty  thousand  men.  The  Caledonians at
          length yielded to  the  powerful  and obstinate attack, sued
          for peace, and surrendered a part of their arms, and a large
          tract of territory.  But their apparent submission lasted no
          longer than the present terror. As soon as the Roman legions
          had retired, they  resumed their hostile independence. Their
          restless spirit provoked  Severus  to  send  a new army into
          Caledonia, with the most bloody orders, not to subdue but to
          extirpate the natives. They were saved by the death of their
          haughty enemy.(12) 

Fingal and his heroes
          This Caledonian war,  neither marked by decisive events, nor
          attended with any  important consequences, would ill deserve
          our attention but it is supposed, not without a considerable
          degree of probability,  that  the  invasion  of  Severus  is
          connected  with the  most  shining  period  of  the  British
          history or fable.  Fingal,  whose  fame,  with  that  of his
          heroes and bards,  has  been  revived  in  our language by a
          recent  publication,  is   said   to   have   commanded  the
          Caledonians in that  memorable  juncture, to have eluded the
          power of Severus,  and  to have obtained a signal victory on
          the banks of  the Carun, in which the son of the King of the
          World, Caracul, fled  from  his arms along the fields of his
          pride.(13) Something  of  a  doubtful  mist  still hangs over 
          these Highland traditions;  nor can it be entirely dispelled
          by the most ingenious researches of modern criticism:(14) but 
          if we could,  with safety, indulge the pleasing supposition,
          that  Fingal lived,  and  that  Ossian  sung,  the  striking
          contrast of the  situation  and  manners  of  the contending
          nations might amuse  a  philosophic mind. The parallel would
          be little to  the advantage of the more civilised people, if
          we compared the  unrelenting  revenge  of  Severus  with the
          generous clemency of Fingal, the timid and brutal cruelty of
          Caracalla, with the  bravery,  the  tenderness,  the elegant
          genius of Ossian;  the mercenary chiefs who, from motives of
          fear or interest,  served  under the Imperial standard, with
          the freeborn warriors  who  started  to arms at the voice of
          the king of  Morven;  if,  in  a  word,  we contemplated the
          untutored Caledonians, glowing  with  the  warm  virtues  of
          nature, and the  degenerate  Romans,  polluted with the mean
          vices of wealth and slavery.

Ambition of Caracalla
          The declining health  and  last  illness of Severus inflamed
          the wild ambition  and  black  passions of Caracalla's soul.
          Impatient of any  delay or division of empire, he attempted,
          more than once,  to  shorten  the  small  remainder  of  his
          father's days, and  endeavoured,  but  without  success,  to
          excite a mutiny  among  the  troops. (15) The old emperor had 
          often censured the  misguided  lenity  of  Marcus, who, by a
          single act of  justice, might have saved the Romans from the
          tyranny of his  worthless son. Placed in the same situation,
          he experienced how  easily  the  rigour of a judge dissolves
          away in the  tenderness  of  a  parent.  He  deliberated, he
          threatened, but he  could not punish; and this last and only
          instance of mercy  was  more fatal to the empire than a long
          series of cruelty.(16) The disorder of his mind irritated the 
          pains of his  body;  he  wished  impatiently  for  death and
          hastened the instant  of  it  by  his impatience. He expired
          (A.D. 211, February  4th) at York in the sixty-fifth year of
          his life, and in the eighteenth of a glorious and successful
          reign. In his  last  moments  he  recommended concord to his
          sons, and his  sons  to  the army. The salutary advice never
          reached  the  heart,  or  even  the  understanding,  of  the
          impetuous youths; but  the  more obedient troops, mindful of
          their oath of  allegiance,  and  of  the  authority of their
          deceased master, resisted  the  solicitations  of Caracalla,
          and proclaimed both  brothers  emperors  of  Rome.  The  new
          princes soon left  the Caledonians in peace, returned to the
          capital,  celebrated  their  father's  funeral  with  divine
          honours,  and  were   cheerfully   acknowledged   as  lawful
          sovereigns, by the  senate,  the  people, and the provinces.
          Some pre-eminence of  rank seems to have been allowed to the
          elder brother; but  they  both  administered the empire with
          equal and independent power.(17) 

Jealousy and hatred of the two emperors
          Such a divided form of government would have proved a source
          of discord between  the  most  affectionate brothers. It was
          impossible that it could long subsist between two implacable
          enemies,   who   neither   desired   nor   could   trust   a
          reconciliation. It was  visible  that  one only could reign,
          and that the  other  must  fall; and each of them judging of
          his rival's designs  by  his  own, guarded his life with the
          most jealous vigilance  from  the repeated attacks of poison
          or the sword.  Their  rapid  journey through Gaul and Italy,
          during which they  never  ate at the same table, or slept in
          the  same house,  displayed  to  the  provinces  the  odious
          spectacle of fraternal  discord.  On  their arrival at Rome,
          they immediately divided  the  vast  extent  of the Imperial
          palace.(18) No  communication  was  allowed   between   their 
          apartments:  the  doors   and   passages   were   diligently
          fortified, and guards  posted  and  relieved  with  the same
          strictness as in  a besieged place. The emperors met only in
          public, in the  presence of their afflicted mother; and each
          surrounded by a  numerous  train of armed followers. Even on
          these occasions of  ceremony,  the  dissimulation  of courts
          could ill disguise the rancour of their hearts.(19) 

Fruitless negotiation for dividing the empire between them
          This  latent  civil   war   already   distracted  the  whole
          government, when a  scheme  was  suggested  that  seemed  of
          mutual benefit to  the  hostile  brothers.  It was proposed,
          that since it  was impossible to reconcile their minds, they
          should  separate  their  interest,  and  divide  the  empire
          between them. The  conditions  of  the  treaty  were already
          drawn with some  accuracy.  It was agreed that Caracalla, as
          the elder brother, should remain in possession of Europe and
          the  western Africa;  and  that  he  should  relinquish  the
          sovereignty of Asia  and  Egypt  to  Geta, who might fix his
          residence at Alexandria  or  Antioch, cities little inferior
          to Rome itself in wealth and greatness; that numerous armies
          should be constantly encamped on either side of the Thracian
          Bosphorus, to guard  the  frontiers of the rival monarchies;
          and  that  the   senators   of  European  extraction  should
          acknowledge the sovereign  of  Rome,  whilst  the natives of
          Asia followed the  emperor  of  the  East.  The tears of the
          empress Julia interrupted the negotiation, the first idea of
          which  had filled  every  Roman  breast  with  surprise  and
          indignation. The mighty  mass  of conquest was so intimately
          united by the  hand of time and policy, that it required the
          most forcible violence  to  rend  it asunder. The Romans had
          reason to dread  that  the  disjoined  members would soon be
          reduced by a civil war under the dominion of one master; but
          if  the  separation  was  permanent,  the  division  of  the
          provinces must terminate  in  the  dissolution  of an empire
          whose unity had hitherto remained inviolate.(20) 

Murder of Geta 
          Had the treaty been carried into execution, the sovereign of
          Europe might soon  have  been  the  conqueror  of  Asia; but
          Caracalla obtained an  easier  though a more guilty victory.
          He  artfully  listened   to  his  mother's  entreaties,  and
          consented (A.D. 212,  27th  February) to meet his brother in
          her apartment, on  terms of peace and reconciliation. In the
          midst  of  their  conversation,  some  centurions,  who  had
          contrived to conceal  themselves,  rushed  with drawn swords
          upon the unfortunate  Geta.  His distracted mother strove to
          protect him in  her  arms;  but, in the unavailing struggle,
          she was wounded  in  the hand, and covered with the blood of
          her younger son,  while  she  saw  the  elder  animating and
          assisting(21) the  fury of the assassins. As soon as the deed 
          was perpetrated, Caracalla,  with hasty steps, and horror in
          his countenance, ran towards the Praetorian camp as his only
          refuge, and threw  himself  on the ground before the statues
          of the tutelar  deities. (22) The soldiers attempted to raise 
          and comfort him.  In broken and disordered words he informed
          them  of  his   imminent   danger   and   fortunate  escape;
          insinuating that he  had prevented the designs of his enemy,
          and  declared his  resolution  to  live  and  die  with  his
          faithful  troops.  Geta   had  been  the  favourite  of  the
          soldiers; but complaint  was useless, revenge was dangerous,
          and  they  still   reverenced  the  son  of  Severus.  Their
          discontent died away  in  idle  murmurs,  and Caracalla soon
          convinced them of  the justice of his cause, by distributing
          in one lavish  donative  the  accumulated  treasures  of his
          father's reign.(23) The real sentiments of the soldiers alone 
          were of importance to his power or safety. Their declaration
          in his favour  commanded  the  dutiful professions  of  the
          senate.  The obsequious  assembly  was  always  prepared  to
          ratify the decision  of  fortune; but as Caracalla wished to
          assuage the first  emotions  of public indignation, the name
          of Geta was  mentioned  with  decency,  and  he received the
          funeral honours of a Roman emperor.(24) Posterity, in pity to 
          his misfortune, has  cast a veil over his vices. We consider
          that young prince  as  the  innocent victim of his brother's
          ambition, without recollecting that he himself wanted power,
          rather than inclination,  to consummate the same attempts of
          revenge and murder.

Remorse and cruelty of Caracalla
          The  crime  went   not  unpunished.  Neither  business,  nor
          pleasure, nor flattery,  could  defend  Caracalla  from  the
          stings of a  guilty  conscience;  and  he  confessed, in the
          anguish of a  tortured mind, that his disordered fancy often
          beheld the angry  forms of his father and his brother rising
          into life, to threaten and upbraid him.(25) The consciousness 
          of his crime should have induced him to convince mankind, by
          the virtues of  his reign, that the bloody deed had been the
          involuntary effect of fatal necessity. But the repentance of
          Caracalla  only  prompted  him  to  remove  from  the  world
          whatever could remind him of his guilt, or recall the memory
          of his murdered  brother.  On  his return from the senate to
          the palace, he  found  his  mother in the company of several
          noble matrons, weeping over the untimely fate of her younger
          son. The jealous emperor threatened them with instant death;
          the  sentence  was   executed   against  Fadilla,  the  last
          remaining daughter of  the  emperor  Marcus;  and  even  the
          afflicted Julia was  obliged to silence her lamentations, to
          suppress her sighs,  and to receive the assassin with smiles
          of joy and  approbation.  It  was  computed  that, under the
          vague appellation of  the  friends  of  Geta,  above  twenty
          thousand persons of  both  sexes  suffered death. His guards
          and freedmen, the ministers of his serious business, and the
          companions of his  looser  hours,  those who by his interest
          had been promoted  to any commands in the army or provinces,
          with the long-connected  chain  of  their  dependents,  were
          included in the  proscription;  which  endeavoured  to reach
          every one who  had  maintained  the  smallest correspondence
          with Geta, who lamented his death, or who even mentioned his
          name.(26) Helvius  Pertinax,  son to the prince of that name, 
          lost his life  by  an  unseasonable  witticism. (27) It was a 
          sufficient crime of  Thrasea Priscus, to be descended from a
          family in which  the  love  of  liberty seemed an hereditary
          quality.(28) The  particular  causes of calumny and suspicion 
          were at length  exhausted; and when a senator was accused of
          being a secret  enemy  to  the  government,  the emperor was
          satisfied with the  general  proof  that  he  was  a  man of
          property and virtue.  From  this  well-grounded principle he
          frequently drew the most bloody inferences.

          The execution of  so  many innocent citizens was bewailed by
          the secret tears of their friends and families. The death of
          Papinian, the Praetorian  praefect, was lamented as a public
          calamity. During the  last  seven  years  of Severus, he had
          exercised the most  important  office  of the state, and, by
          his salutary influence,  guided  the  emperor's steps in the
          paths of justice  and  moderation.  In full assurance of his
          virtues and abilities Severus, on his deathbed, had conjured
          him to watch  over  the prosperity and union of the Imperial
          family.(29) The  honest  labours  of  Papinian served only to 
          inflame the hatred  which  Caracalla  had  already conceived
          against his father's minister. After the murder of Geta, the
          Praefect was commanded  to exert the powers of his skill and
          eloquence in a  studied apology for that atrocious deed. The
          philosophic Seneca had  condescended  to  compose  a similar
          epistle to the  senate,  in the name of the son and assassin
          of Agrippina.(30)  That  it  was  easier  to  commit  than to 
          justify a "parricide,"  was  the glorious reply of Papinian,
         (31) who did not hesitate between the loss of life and that of 
          honour. Such intrepid  virtue,  which  had  escaped pure and
          unsullied  from the  intrigues  of  courts,  the  habits  of
          business, and the  arts  of  his  profession,  reflects more
          lustre  on the  memory  of  Papinian,  than  all  his  great
          employments,  his  numerous   writings,   and  the  superior
          reputation as a lawyer, which he has preserved through every
          age of the Roman jurisprudence.(32) 

His tyranny extended over the whole empire
          It had hitherto  been  the  peculiar felicity of the Romans,
          and in the worst of times their consolation, that the virtue
          of  the  emperors  was  active,  and  their  vice  indolent.
          Augustus,  Trajan,  Hadrian,   and   Marcus,  visited  their
          extensive dominions in person, and their progress was marked
          by acts of  wisdom and beneficence. The tyranny of Tiberius,
          Nero, and Domitian,  who  resided almost constantly at Rome,
          or in the  adjacent  villas,  was confined to the senatorial
          and equestrian orders.(33) But Caracalla was the common enemy 
          of mankind. He  left  (A.D.  213)  the capital (and he never
          returned to it)  about  a year after the murder of Geta. The
          rest of his  reign was spent in the several provinces of the
          empire, particularly those  of  the East, and every province
          was by turns  the  scene  of  his  rapine  and  cruelty. The
          senators,  compelled  by   fear  to  attend  his  capricious
          motions, were obliged  to provide daily entertainments at an
          immense expense, which  he  abandoned  with  contempt to his
          guards and to  erect, in every city, magnificent palaces and
          theatres, which he  either disdained to visit, or ordered to
          be immediately thrown  down.  The most wealthy families were
          ruined by partial  fines  and  confiscations,  and the great
          body of his  subjects  oppressed by ingenious and aggravated
          taxes.(34) In  the  midst  of  peace,  and upon the slightest 
          provocation, he issued his commands, at Alexandria in Egypt,
          for a general  massacre. From a secure post in the temple of
          Serapis,  he viewed  and  directed  the  slaughter  of  many
          thousand   citizens,   as   well   as   strangers,   without
          distinguishing  either  the  number  or  the  crime  of  the
          sufferers; since, as  he coolly informed the senate, all the
          Alexandrians, those who  had  perished  and  those  who  had
          escaped, were alike guilty.(35) 

Relaxation of discipline
          The wise instructions  of  Severus  never  made  any lasting
          impression  on the  mind  of  his  son,  who,  although  not
          destitute of imagination  and  eloquence, was equally devoid
          of judgment and  humanity.(36) One dangerous maxim, worthy of 
          a tyrant, was remembered and abused by Caracalla, "To secure
          the affections of  the  army,  and to esteem the rest of his
          subjects as of  little moment."(37) But the liberality of the 
          father had been  restrained  by prudence, and his indulgence
          to the troops  was  tempered  by firmness and authority. The
          careless profusion of  the  son was the policy of one reign,
          and the inevitable  ruin both of the army and of the empire.
          The vigour of  the  soldiers,  instead of being confirmed by
          the severe discipline of camps, melted away in the luxury of
          cities. The excessive increase of their pay and donatives(38) 
          exhausted the state  to  enrich  the  military  order, whose
          modesty in peace,  and service in war, is best secured by an
          honourable poverty. The  demeanour  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.

Murder of Caracalla. A.D. 217, 8th March.
          It was impossible  that such a character, and such a 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  an 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 favour 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  Praetorian  Praefect,  directing  him  to
          dispatch  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. (39)  He  (A.D.  217,  8th  March)  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 human nature, and whose reign accused the patience
          of  the Romans.  The  grateful  soldiers  forgot  his  vices
          remembered only 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
          ensigns 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 the Twelfth (though he still wanted the more elegant
          accomplishments of the  son of Philip) might boast of having
          rivalled his valour 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) 

Election and character of Macrinus
          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 little regarded)  hung  in  an  anxious  suspense; as no
          candidate presented 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 honour to the crafty ambition of his colleague
          Macrinus, whose well-dissembled  grief removed all suspicion
          of his being  accessory 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  (A.D. 217,
          March 11th ) 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 was hoped, the favour
          of the army, and secure the doubtful throne of Macrinus.

Discontent of the senate
          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 transports of  joy  and  surprise  had  subsided, they
          began to scrutinise  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 of 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.(42) The sudden elevation of the 
          Praetorian praefects betrayed  the meanness of their origin;
          and the equestrian  order  was  still  in possession of that
          great office, which  commanded with arbitrary sway the lives
          and fortunes of  the  senate.  A  murmur  of indignation was
          heard, that a man whose obscure(43) 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
          splendour 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 candour, accused at once 
          his indolent tameness and his excessive severity.(44) 

and the army
          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  Caracalla  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.

Macrinus attempts a reformation of the army.
          In the management  of  this  necessary reformation, Macrinus
          proceeded  with  a   cautious  prudence,  which  would  have
          restored health and vigour 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
          their  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  labours  were  increased while its rewards
          were diminished by  a covetous and unwarlike sovereign.  The
          murmurs of the  army  swelled  with  impunity into seditious
          clamours; and the  partial  mutinies  betrayed  a  spirit of
          discontent  and  disaffection,  that  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.

Death of the empress Julia
          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 weep over the 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 by a voluntary death from
          the anxious and  humiliating  dependence.   Julia Maosa, her
          sister, was ordered  to  leave the court and Antioch.(46) She 
          retired to Emesa  with  an  immense  fortune,  the  fruit of
          twenty years' favour,  accompanied  by  her  two  daughters,
          Soaemias and Mamma,  each  of whom was a widow, and each had
          an only son. Bassianus, for that was the name of the son of
          Soaemias, was consecrated to the honourable ministry of high
          priest of the  Sun;  and this holy vocation, embraced either
          from prudence or  superstition,  contributed  to  raise  the
          Syrian youth to  the  empire  of  Rome.   A numerous body of
          troops was stationed at Emesa; and, as the severe discipline
          of  Macrinus  had   constrained  them  to  pass  the  winter
          encamped, they were  eager  to  revenge  the cruelty of such
          unaccustomed hardships. The soldiers, who resorted in crowds
          to the temple of the Sun, beheld with veneration and delight
          the elegant dress  and  figure  of  a  young  Pontiff:  they
          recognised,  or  they  thought  that  they  recognised,  the
          features of Caracalla,  whose  memory  they  now adored. The
          artful Maosa saw  and cherished their rising partiality, and
          readily sacrificing her daughter's reputation to the fortune
          of her grandson,  she  insinuated  that  Bassianus  was  the
          natural  son  of   their   murdered   sovereign.   The  sums
          distributed by her  emissaries  with  a lavish hand silenced
          every objection, and  the  profusion sufficiently proved the
          affinity, or at least the resemblance, of Bassianus with the
          great original. The  young Antoninus (for he had assumed and
          polluted that respectable  name)  was  (A.D. 218, May 16)
          declared  emperor by  the  troops  of  Emesa,  asserted  his
          hereditary right, and  called  aloud on the armies to follow
          the standard of a young and liberal prince, who had taken up
          arms to revenge his father's death and the oppression of the
          military order.(47) 

Defeat and death of Macrinus
          Whilst a conspiracy  of women and eunuchs was concerted with
          prudence, and conducted with rapid vigour, Macrinus, who, by
          a decisive motion,  might  have  crushed  his  infant enemy,
          floated  between  the   opposite   extremes  of  terror  and
          security, which alike  fixed  him  inactive  at  Antioch.  A
          spirit of rebellion  diffused  itself  through all the camps
          and  garrisons of  Syria,  successive  detachments  murdered
          their officers,(48)  and  joined the party of the rebels; and 
          the tardy restitution  of  military  pay  and privileges was
          imputed to the  acknowledged weakness of Macrinus. At length
          he marched out  of  Antioch,  to  meet  the  increasing  and
          zealous army of  the  young pretender. His own troops seemed
          to take the  field  with faintness and reluctance; but (A.D.
          218, June 7),  in  the heat of the battle,(49) the Praetorian 
          guards,  almost by  an  involuntary  impulse,  asserted  the
          superiority of their  valour and discipline. The rebel ranks
          were broken; when  the  mother and grandmother of the Syrian
          prince, who, according to their eastern custom, had attended
          the army, threw themselves from their covered chariots, and,
          by exciting the  compassion  of the soldiers, endeavoured to
          animate their drooping  courage.  Antoninus himself, who, in
          the rest of  his  life,  never  acted  like  a  man, in this
          important  crisis of  his  fate  approved  himself  a  hero,
          mounted his horse,  and,  at the head of his rallied troops,
          charged sword in  hand  among  the  thickest  of  the enemy;
          whilst  the  eunuch   Gannys,  whose  occupations  had  been
          confined to female  cares  and  the  soft  luxury  of  Asia,
          displayed the talents  of  an  able and experienced general.
          The battle still  raged with doubtful violence, and Macrinus
          might have obtained the victory, had he not betrayed his own
          cause by a  shameful  and  precipitate flight. His cowardice
          served only to  protract  his  life a few days, and to stamp
          deserved  ignominy  on   his  misfortunes.  It  is  scarcely
          necessary to add, that his son Diadumenianus was involved in
          the same fate.  As soon as the stubborn Praetorians could be
          convinced that they  fought  for  a  prince  who  had basely
          deserted  them,  they  surrendered  to  the  conqueror;  the
          contending parties of  the Roman army, mingling tears of joy
          and tenderness, united under the banners of the imagined son
          of Caracalla, and  the  East  acknowledged with pleasure the
          first emperor of Asiatic extraction.

Elagabalus writes to the senate
          The letters of  Macrinus  had  condescended  to  inform  the
          senate of the  slight  disturbance occasioned by an impostor
          in Syria, and  a  decree  immediately  passed, declaring the
          rebel and his  family  public  enemies;  with  a  promise of
          pardon, however, to  such of his deluded adherents as should
          merit it by  an  immediate  return to their duty. During the
          twenty days that elapsed from the declaration to the victory
          of Antoninus (for  in  so  short an interval was the fate of
          the Roman world  decided),  the  capital  and the provinces,
          more especially those  of  the  East,  were  distracted with
          hopes and fears,  agitated  with  tumult, and stained with a
          useless effusion of  civil  blood,  since  whosoever  of the
          rivals prevailed in  Syria,  must reign over the empire. The
          specious letters in  which the young conqueror announced his
          victory to the obedient senate, were filled with professions
          of virtue and moderation; the shining examples of Marcus and
          Augustus he should  ever  consider  as the great rule of his
          administration; and he  affected  to dwell with pride on the
          striking resemblance of  his own age and fortunes with those
          of Augustus, Who  in  the  earliest  youth had revenged by a
          successful war the  murder  of  his  father. By adopting the
          style of Marcus  Aurelius  Antoninus,  son  of Antoninus and
          grandson of Severus,  he  tacitly  asserted  his  hereditary
          claim to the  empire;  but,  by assuming the tribunitian and
          proconsular powers before  they had been conferred on him by
          a decree of  the  senate,  he offended the delicacy of Roman
          prejudice.  This  new   and  injudicious  violation  of  the
          constitution was probably  dictated  either by the ignorance
          of his Syrian  courtiers,  or  the  fierce  disdain  of  his
          military followers.(50) 

Picture of Elagabalus
          As the attention of the new emperor was diverted by the most
          trifling amusements, he (A.D. 219) wasted many months in his
          luxurious progress from  Syria to Italy, passed at Nicomedia
          his first winter  after  his  victory, and deferred till the
          ensuing summer his  triumphal  entry  into  the  capital.  A
          faithful picture, however,  which  preceded his arrival, and
          was placed by  his immediate order over the altar of Victory
          in the senate-house,  conveyed  to  the  Romans the just but
          unworthy resemblance of his person and manners. He was drawn
          in his sacerdotal  robes  of  silk and gold, after the loose
          flowing fashion of  the  Medes and Phoenicians; his head was
          covered  with  a  lofty  tiara,  his  numerous  collars  and
          bracelets were adorned  with  gems  of an inestimable value.
          His eyebrows were  tinged with black, and his cheeks painted
          with an artificial  red  and  white. (51)  The grave senators 
          confessed with a  sigh,  that, after having long experienced
          the stern tyranny  of  their  own  countrymen,  Rome  was at
          length humbled beneath  the  effeminate  luxury  of Oriental

His superstition
          The  Sun  was   worshipped  at  Emesa,  under  the  name  of
          Elagabalus,(52) and  under the form of a black conical stone, 
          which, as it  was  universally  believed,  had  fallen  from
          heaven on that  sacred  place.  To  this  protecting  deity,
          Antoninus, not without  some  reason, ascribed his elevation
          to the throne.  The  display  of superstitious gratitude was
          the only serious  business  of his reign. The triumph of the
          God of Emesa  over  all  the religions of the earth, was the
          great object of  his zeal and vanity: and the appellation of
          Elagabalus (for he  presumed  as  pontiff  and  favourite to
          adopt that sacred  name)  was  dearer  to  him  than all the
          titles of Imperial greatness. In a solemn procession through
          the streets of Rome, the way was strewed with gold dust; the
          black stone, set  in  precious gems, was placed on a chariot
          drawn by six milk-white horses richly caparisoned. The pious
          emperor held the  reins,  and,  supported  by his ministers,
          moved slowly backwards,  that he might perpetually enjoy the
          felicity of the  divine  presence.  In  a magnificent temple
          raised on the  Palatine  Mount, the sacrifices of the god of
          Elagabalus were celebrated  with  every circumstance of cost
          and solemnity. The  richest  wines,  the  most extraordinary
          victims, and the  rarest  aromatics, were profusely consumed
          on his altar.  Around  the  altar a chorus of Syrian damsels
          performed their lascivious  dances to the sound of barbarian
          music, whilst the  gravest personages of the state and army,
          clothed in long Phoenician tunics, officiated in the meanest
          functions, with affected zeal and secret indignation.(53) 

          To  this temple,  as  to  the  common  centre  of  religious
          worship,  the  Imperial  fanatic  attempted  to  remove  the
          Ancilia, the Palladium,(54) and all the sacred pledges of the 
          faith of Numa.  A  crowd  of  inferior  deities  attended in
          various stations the  majesty  of  the god of Emesa; but his
          court was still  imperfect,  till  a female of distinguished
          rank was admitted  to  his bed. Pallas had been first chosen
          for his comfort;  but  as  it  was  dreaded lest her warlike
          terrors might affright  the soft delicacy of a Syrian deity,
          the Moon, adored  by the Africans under the name of Astarte,
          was deemed a more suitable companion for the Sun. Her image,
          with the rich  offerings of her temple as a marriage portion
          was transported with  solemn pomp from Carthage to Rome, and
          the day of  these  mystic nuptials was a general festival in
          the capital and throughout the empire.(55) 

His profligate and effeminate luxury
          A rational voluptuary adheres with invariable respect to the
          temperate   dictates   of    nature,    and   improves   the
          gratifications of sense  by  social  intercourse,  endearing
          connections,  and  the  soft  colouring  of  taste  and  the
          imagination. But Elagabalus  (I speak of the emperor of that
          name), corrupted by his youth, his country, and his fortune,
          abandoned himself to  the grossest pleasures with ungoverned
          fury, and soon found disgust and satiety in the midst of his
          enjoyments. The inflammatory  powers of art were summoned to
          his aid: the  confused  multitude of women, of wines, and of
          dishes, and the  studied  variety  of  attitudes and sauces,
          served to revive  his  languid  appetites. New terms and new
          inventions in these  sciences,  the only ones cultivated and
          patronised by the  monarch, (56)  signalised  his  reign, and 
          transmitted his infamy  to  succeeding  times.  A capricious
          prodigality supplied the  want  of  taste  and elegance; and
          whilst Elagabalus lavished  away the treasures of his people
          in the wildest  extravagance,  his own voice and that of his
          flatterers applauded a  spirit  and  magnificence unknown to
          the tameness of  his  predecessors. To confound the order of
          seasons and climates, (57)  to  sport  with  the passions and 
          prejudices of his  subjects,  and  to  subvert  every law of
          nature and decency, were in the number of his most delicious
          amusements.  A  long   train  of  concubines,  and  a  rapid
          succession  of  wives,  among  whom  was  a  vestal  virgin,
          ravished  by  force   from   her   sacred  asylum, (58)  were 
          insufficient to satisfy  the  impotence of his passions. The
          master of the  Roman  world  affected  to copy the dress and
          manners of the  female  sex,  preferred  the  distaff to the
          sceptre, and dishonoured  the  principal  dignities  of  the
          empire by distributing  them  among his numerous lovers; one
          of whom was  publicly  invested with the title and authority
          of the emperor's, or, as he more properly styled himself, of
          the empress's husband.(59) 

Contempt of decency which distinguished the Roman tyrants
          It may seem  probable,  the  vices and follies of Elagabalus
          have been adorned  by  fancy, and blackened by prejudice.(60) 
          Yet  confining ourselves  to  the  public  scenes  displayed
          before  the  Roman   people,   and  attested  by  grave  and
          contemporary   historians,   their    inexpressible   infamy
          surpasses that of  any  other age or country. The licence of
          an eastern monarch  is secluded from the eye of curiosity by
          the inaccessible walls  of  his  seraglio. The sentiments of
          honour  and  gallantry   have  introduced  a  refinement  of
          pleasure, a regard for decency, and a respect for the public
          opinion, into the  modern  courts of Europe; but the corrupt
          and opulent nobles  of  Rome gratified every vice that could
          be collected from the mighty conflux of nations and manners.
          Secure of impunity,  careless of censure, they lived without
          restraint in the  patient and humble society of their slaves
          and parasites. The  emperor, in his turn, viewing every rank
          of his subjects  with  the  same  contemptuous indifference,
          asserted without control his sovereign privilege of lust and

Discontents of the army
          The most worthless  of  mankind are not afraid to condemn in
          others the same  disorders  which  they allow in themselves;
          and  can readily  discover  some  nice  difference  of  age,
          character, or station,  to  justify the partial distinction.
          The licentious soldiers,  who  had  raised to the throne the
          dissolute son of  Caracalla,  blushed  at  their ignominious
          choice,  and turned  with  disgust  from  that  monster,  to
          contemplate with pleasure  the opening virtues of his cousin
          Alexander the son of Mamaea. The crafty Maesa, sensible that
          her grandson Elagabalus  must  inevitably destroy himself by
          his own vices, had provided another and surer support of her
          family.  Embracing  a  favourable  moment  of  fondness  and
          devotion, she had  persuaded  the  young  emperor  to  adopt
          Alexander, and to  invest  him with the title of Caesar(A.D. 221), 
          that his  own  divine occupations might be no longer
          interrupted by the  care  of  the  earth. In the second rank
          that amiable prince  soon  acquired  the  affections  of the
          public, and excited  the  tyrant's jealousy, who resolved to
          terminate the dangerous  competition,  either  by corrupting
          the manners, or  by  taking away the life, of his rival. His
          arts proved unsuccessful;  his  vain designs were constantly
          discovered by his  own loquacious folly, and disappointed by
          those virtuous and  faithful  servants  whom the prudence of
          Mamaea had placed  about  the  person of her son. In a hasty
          sally of passion,  Elagabalus  resolved  to execute by force
          what he had  been  unable  to  compass  by  fraud,  and by a
          despotic sentence degraded  his  cousin  from  the  rank and
          honours of Caesar.  The  message  was received in the senate
          with silence, and  in  the  camp  with  fury. The Praetorian
          guards  swore to  protect  Alexander,  and  to  revenge  the
          dishonoured majesty of the throne. The tears and promises of
          the trembling Elagabalus,  who only begged them to spare his
          life, and to  leave  him  in  the  possession of his beloved
          Hierocles,  diverted  their   just   indignation   and  they
          contented  themselves with  empowering  their  praefects  to
          watch over the  safety  of Alexander, and the conduct of the

Sedition of the guards, and murder of Elagabalus.
          It was impossible that such a reconciliation should last, or
          that even the  mean  soul of Elagabalus could hold an empire
          on such humiliating  terms of dependence. He soon attempted,
          by  a  dangerous  experiment,  to  try  the  temper  of  the
          soldiers. The report  of  the  death  of  Alexander, and the
          natural suspicion that  he had been murdered, inflamed their
          passions into fury,  and  the tempest of the camp could only
          be appeased by  the  presence  and  authority of the popular
          youth. Provoked at  this new instance of their affection for
          his cousin, and  their  contempt for his persons the emperor
          ventured to punish  some  of  the leaders of the mutiny. His
          unseasonable severity proved instantly fatal to his minions,
          his mother, and  himself.  Elagabalus  was  (A.D.  222, 10th
          March) massacred by the indignant Praetorians, his mutilated
          corpse dragged through  the  streets of the city, and thrown
          into the Tiber.  His  memory was branded with eternal infamy
          by the senate; the justice of whose decree has been ratified
          by posterity.(62) 

Accession of Alexander Severus.
          In the room  of  Elagabalus, his cousin Alexander was raised
          to the throne  by the Praetorian guards. His relation to the
          family of Severus,  whose  name  he assumed, was the same as
          that of his  predecessor;  his  virtue  and  his  danger had
          already endeared him to the Romans, and the eager liberality
          of the senate  conferred  upon  him, in one day, the various
          titles  and powers  of  tin  Imperial  dignity. (63)  But  as 
          Alexander was a  modest and dutiful youth, of only seventeen
          years of age,  the  reins of government were in the hands of
          two  women,  of   his  mother  Mamaea,  and  of  Maesa,  his
          grandmother. After the death of the latter, who survived but
          a short time the elevation of Alexander, Mamaea remained the
          sole regent of her son and of the empire.

Power of his mother Mamaea.
          In every age  and  country,  the  wiser,  or  at  least  the
          stronger, of the  two  sexes,  has usurped the powers of the
          state, and confined  the other to the cares and pleasures of
          domestic  life.  In   hereditary  monarchies,  however,  and
          especially in those  of modern Europe, the gallant spirit of
          chivalry, and the  law  of succession, have accustomed us to
          allow  a  singular   exception;   and   a   woman  is  often
          acknowledged the absolute  sovereign  of a great kingdom, in
          which  she would  be  deemed  incapable  of  exercising  the
          smallest employment; civil  or  military.  But  as the Roman
          emperors  were  still   considered   as   the  generals  and
          magistrates  of  the  republic,  their  wives  and  mothers,
          although distinguished by  the  name  of Augusta, were never
          associated to their  personal  honours;  and  a female reign
          would have appeared  an  inexpiable  prodigy  in the eyes of
          those primitive Romans,  who  married without love, or loved
          without  delicacy and  respect. (64)  The  haughty  Agrippina 
          aspired, indeed, to  share  the honours of the empire, which
          she had conferred on her son; but her mad ambition, detested
          by every citizen  who  felt  for  the  dignity  of Rome, was
          disappointed by the  artful  firmness of Seneca and Burrhus.
         (65)  The good  sense,  or  the  indifference,  of  succeeding 
          princes, restrained them  from  offending  the prejudices of
          their subjects; and  it  was  reserved  for  the  profligate
          Elagabalus to discharge  the  acts  of  the senate, with the
          name of his  mother  Soaemias, who was placed by the side of
          the  consuls, and  subscribed,  as  a  regular  member,  the
          decrees  of  the  legislative  assembly.  Her  more  prudent
          sister, Mamaea, declined the useless and odious prerogative,
          and a solemn  law was enacted, excluding women for ever from
          the senate, and  devoting  to  the infernal gods the head of
          the wretch by  whom this sanction should be violated.(66) The 
          substance, not the  pageantry,  of  power  was the object of
          Mamaea's manly ambition.  She  maintained  an  absolute. and
          lasting  empire over  the  mind  of  her  son,  and  in  his
          affection the mother  could  not  brook  a rival. Alexander,
          with her consent,  married  the daughter of a Patrician; but
          his respect for his father-in-law, and love for the empress,
          were inconsistent with the tenderness or interest of Mamaea.
          The  Patrician was  executed  on  the  ready  accusation  of
          treason, and the wife of Alexander driven with ignominy from
          the palace, and banished into Africa.(67) 

Wise and moderate administration.
          Notwithstanding this act of jealous cruelty, as well as some
          instances of avarice,  with  which  Mamaea  is  charged, the
          general tenor of  her  administration  was  equally  for the
          benefit of her  son  and of the empire. With the approbation
          of the senate,  she  chose  sixteen  of  the wisest and most
          virtuous senators, as  a  perpetual council of state, before
          whom  every  public  business  of  moment  was  debated  and
          determined. The celebrated  Ulpian, equally distinguished by
          his knowledge of, and his respect for, the laws of Rome, was
          at their head;  and the prudent firmness of this aristocracy
          restored order and  authority  to the government. As soon as
          they had purged  the  city  from  foreign  superstition  and
          luxury, the remains of the capricious tyranny of Elagabalus,
          they applied themselves  to  remove  his worthless creatures
          from  every department  of  public  administration,  and  to
          supply their places with men of virtue and ability. Learning,  
          and the love of justice,  became  the  only   recommendations 
          for civil offices; valour, and the love of discipline,   the   
          only qualifications for military employments.(68) 

Education and virtuous temper of Alexander.
          But  the  most   important  care  of  Mamaea  and  her  wise
          counsellors, was to form the character of the young emperor,
          on whose personal  qualities  the happiness or misery of the
          Roman  world must  ultimately  depend.  The  fortunate  soil
          assisted, and even  prevented,  the  hand of cultivation. An
          excellent  understanding soon  convinced  Alexander  of  the
          advantages of virtue,  the  pleasure  of  knowledge, and the
          necessity of labour.  A  natural  mildness and moderation of
          temper preserved him  from  the assaults of passion, and the
          allurements of vice.  His unalterable regard for his mother,
          and  his  esteem   for   the   wise   Ulpian,   guarded  his
          inexperienced youth from the poison of flattery.

          The simple journal of  his  ordinary occupations exhibits a
          pleasing picture of  an  accomplished  emperor, (69) and with 
          some allowance for  the  difference  of  manners, might well
          deserve the imitation  of  modern  princes.  Alexander  rose
          early; the first  moments  of  the  day  were consecrated to
          private devotion, and  his  domestic  chapel was filled with
          the images of  those  heroes, who, by improving or reforming
          human  life,  had   deserved   the   grateful  reverence  of
          posterity. But, as he deemed the service of mankind the most
          acceptable worship of  the  gods,  the  greatest part of his
          morning  hours  was   employed  in  his  council,  where  he
          discussed public affairs,  and  determined  private  causes,
          with a patience  and discretion above his years. The dryness
          of business was  relieved by the charms of literature; and a
          portion of time  was  always  set  apart  for  his favourite
          studies of poetry,  history,  and  philosophy.  The works of
          Virgil and Horace, the Republics of Plato and Cicero, formed
          his taste, enlarged  his  understanding,  and  gave  him the
          noblest ideas of  man  and  government. The exercises of the
          body succeeded to  those of the mind; and Alexander, who was
          tall, active, and  robust,  surpassed  most of his equals in
          the gymnastic arts.  Refreshed  by the use of the bath and a
          slight dinner, he  resumed, with new vigour, the business of
          the day; and, till the hour of supper, the principal meal of
          the Romans, he was attended by his secretaries, with whom he
          read and answered  the  multitude of letters, memorials, and
          petitions, that must  have  been  addressed to the master of
          the greatest part  of  the  world. His table was served with
          the most frugal  simplicity;  and whenever he was at liberty
          to consult his  own  inclination, the company consisted of a
          few select friends, men of learning and virtue, amongst whom
          Ulpian  was  constantly   invited.  Their  conversation  was
          familiar and instructive;  and  the pauses were occasionally
          enlivened by the recital of some pleasing composition, which
          supplied the place  of  the  dancers,  comedians,  and  even
          gladiators, so frequently summoned to the tables of the rich
          and luxurious Romans. (70)  The  dress of Alexander was plain 
          and modest, his  demeanour  courteous  and  affable:  at the
          proper hours his  palace  was  open to all his subjects, but
          the voice of  a  crier  was  heard,  as  in  the  Eleusinian
          mysteries, pronouncing the  same  salutary  admonition; "Let
          none enter those  holy  walls,  unless  he is conscious of a
          pure and innocent mind."(71) 

General happiness of the Roman world.
          Such an uniform  tenor  of life, which left not a moment for
          vice or folly,  is  a better proof of the wisdom and justice
          of Alexander's government,  than  all  the  trifling details
          preserved  in  the  compilation  of  Lampridius.  Since  the
          accession of Commodus,  the  Roman  world  had  experienced,
          during a term  of  forty  years,  the successive and various
          vices of four  tyrants.  From  the  death  of  Elagabalus it
          enjoyed (A.D. 222-235) an auspicious calm of thirteen years.
          The provinces, relieved  from  the oppressive taxes invented
          by Caracalla and  his pretended son, flourished in peace and
          prosperity, under the  administration  of  magistrates,  who
          were convinced by  experience,  that  to deserve the love of
          the subjects was their best and only method of obtaining the
          favour of their sovereign. While some gentle restraints were
          imposed on the  innocent  luxury  of  the  Roman people, the
          price  of  provisions,  and  the  interest  of  money,  were
          reduced, by the  paternal  care  of Alexander, whose prudent
          liberality, without distressing  the  industrious,  supplied
          the wants and  amusements  of the populace. The dignity, the
          freedom, the authority  of  the  senate  were  restored; and
          every virtuous senator  might  approach  the  person  of the
          emperor, without fear, and without a blush.

Alexander refuses the name of Antoninus.
          The name of  Antoninus,  ennobled by the virtues of Pius and
          Marcus, had been  communicated  by adoption to the dissolute
          Verus, and by  descent  to the cruel Commodus. It became the
          honourable appellation of  the sons of Severus, was bestowed
          on young Diadumenianus,  and  at  length  prostituted to the
          infamy  of the  high  priest  of  Emesa.  Alexander,  though
          pressed by the  studied, and perhaps sincere, importunity of
          the senate, nobly  refused  the  borrowed  lustre  of a name
          whilst in his  whole  conduct  he  laboured  to  restore the
          glories and felicity of the awe of the genuine Antonines.(72) 

 He attempts to reform the army.
          In  the  civil   administration  of  Alexander,  wisdom  was
          enforced by power,  and  the  people, sensible of the public
          felicity,  repaid  their  benefactor  with  their  love  and
          gratitude. There still remained a greater, a more necessary,
          but a more  difficult  enterprise;  the  reformation  of the
          military order, whose interest and temper, confirmed by long
          impunity,  rendered them  impatient  of  the  restraints  of
          discipline,  and  careless   of   the  blessings  of  public
          tranquillity. In the  execution  of  his  design the emperor
          affected to display  his  love,  and to conceal his fear, of
          the army. The  most  rigid  economy in every other branch of
          the administration, supplied  a  fund of gold and silver for
          the  ordinary pay  and  the  extraordinary  rewards  of  the
          troops. In their marches he relaxed the severe obligation of
          carrying seventeen days' provision on their shoulders. Ample
          magazines were formed along the public roads, and as soon as
          they entered the  enemy's country, a numerous train of mules
          and camels waited  on  their  haughty laziness. As Alexander
          despaired of correcting  the  luxury  of  his  soldiers,  he
          attempted, at least, to direct it to objects at martial pomp
          and  ornament,  fine  horses  splendid  armour,  and  shield
          enriched with silver  and  gold. He shared whatever fatigues
          he vas obliged  to  impose, visited, in person, the sick and
          wounded, preserved an  exact  register of their services and
          his own gratitude,  and  expressed  on  every  occasion, the
          warmest regard for body of men whose welfare, as he affected
          to declare, was so closely connected with that of the State.
         (73) By the most gentle arts he laboured to inspire the fierce 
          multitude with a  sense  of  duty, and to restore at least a
          faint image of  that  discipline  to  which  the Romans owed
          their empire over so many other nations, as warlike and more
          powerful than themselves.  But  his  prudence  was vain, his
          courage fatal, and  the attempt towards a reformation served
          only to inflame the ills it was meant to cure.

Seditions of the Praetorian guards, and murder of Ulpian.
          The  Praetorian  guards   were  attached  to  the  Youth  of
          Alexander. They loved  him  as a tender pupil, whom they had
          saved from a  tyrant's  fury,  and  placed  on  the Imperial
          throne. That amiable  prince was sensible of; the obligation
          but as his  gratitude  was  restrained  within the limits of
          reason and justice,  they  soon  were more dissatisfied with
          the virtues of  Alexander,  than they had ever been with the
          vices of Elagabalus.  Their  praefect,  the wise Ulpian, was
          the friend of  the laws and of the people; he was considered
          as the enemy of the soldiers, and to his pernicious counsels
          every  scheme of  reformation  was  imputed.  Some  trifling
          accident blew up their discontent into a furious mutiny; and
          a civil war  raged,  during  three days, in Rome, whilst the
          life of that excellent minister was defended by the grateful
          people. Terrified, at length, by the sight of some houses in
          flames, and by  the  threats of a general conflagration, the
          people yielded with  a  sigh,  and  left  the  virtuous, but
          unfortunate, Ulpian to  his  fate.  He  was pursued into the
          Imperial palace, and  massacred  at  the feet of his master,
          who vainly strove  to  cover  him  with  the  purple, and to
          obtain his pardon from the inexorable soldiers. Such was the
          deplorable weakness of  government,  that  the  emperor  was
          unable to revenge  his  murdered  friend  and  his  insulted
          dignity,  without stooping  to  the  arts  of  patience  and
          dissimulation.  Epagathus,  the   principal  leader  of  the
          mutiny, was removed  from Rome, by the honourable employment
          of praefect of  Egypt;  from  that  high  rank he was gently
          degraded to the  government  of  Crete; and when, at length,
          his popularity among  the  guards  was  effaced  by time and
          absence,  Alexander  ventured  to  inflict  the  tardy,  but
          deserved punishment of  his  crimes.(74) Under the reign of a 
          just and virtuous prince, the tyranny of the army threatened
          with instant death  his  most  faithful  ministers, who were
          suspected  of an  intention  to  correct  their  intolerable
          disorders. The historian  Dion  Cassius  had  commanded  the
          Pannonian legions with  the  spirit  of  ancient discipline.
          Their  brethren of  Rome,  embracing  the  common  cause  of
          military  licence,  demanded   the  head  of  the  reformer.
          Alexander, however, instead  of  yielding to their seditious
          clamours, showed a  just sense of his merit and services, by
          appointing  him  his   colleague   in  the  consulship,  and
          defraying from his  own  treasury  the  expense of that vain
          dignity: but as  it  was  justly  apprehended,  that  if the
          soldiers beheld him  with  the  ensigns  of his office, they
          would revenge the  insult  in  his  blood, the nominal first
          magistrate of the  state  retired,  by the emperor's advice,
          from the city, and spent the greatest part of his consulship
          at his villas in Campania.(75) 

Tumult of the legions.
          The lenity of  the  emperor  confirmed  the insolence of the
          troops; the legions  imitated the example of the guards, and
          defended their prerogative  of  licentiousness with the same
          furious obstinacy. The  administration  of  Alexander was an
          unavailing struggle against  the  corruption  of his age. In
          Illyricum, in Mauritania,  in  Armenia,  in  Mesopotamia, in
          Germany, fresh mutinies  perpetually broke out; his officers
          were murdered, his  authority  was insulted, and his life at
          last sacrificed to  the  fierce  discontents of the army.(76) 
Firmness of  One particular fact  well  deserves  to  be  recorded, as it
the emperor, illustrates  the manners  of  the  troops,  and  exhibits  a
          singular instance of  their  return  to  a sense of duty and
          obedience. Whilst the emperor lay at Antioch, in his Persian
          expedition, the particulars  of  which  we  shall  hereafter
          relate,  the punishment  of  some  soldiers,  who  had  been
          discovered in the  baths of women, excited a sedition in the
          legion  to  which  they  belonged.  Alexander  ascended  his
          tribunal, and with  a  modest  firmness  represented  to the
          armed  multitude the  absolute  necessity  as  well  as  his
          inflexible resolution of  correcting the vices introduced by
          his impure predecessor,  and  of maintaining the discipline,
          which could not  be  relaxed  without  the ruin of the Roman
          name  and  empire.   Their  clamours  interrupted  his  mild
          expostulation. "Reserve your  shouts,"  said  the  undaunted
          emperor, "till you  take the field against the Persians, the
          Germans, and the  Sarmatians.  Be  silent in the presence of
          your sovereign and  benefactor,  who  bestows  upon  you the
          corn, the clothing,  and  the  money  of  the  provinces; Be
          silent,  or I  shall  no  longer  style  you  soldiers,  but
          citizens,(77) if  those  indeed who disclaim the laws of Rome 
          deserve to be  ranked  among the meanest of the people." His
          menaces  inflamed  the   fury   of  the  legion,  and  their
          brandished  arms  already   threatened   his  person.  "Your
          courage," resumed the  intrepid  Alexander,  "would  be more
          nobly displayed in  the field of battle; me you may destroy,
          you  cannot  intimidate;  and  the  severe  justice  of  the
          republic would punish  your  crime,  and revenge my death. "
          The legion still  persisted  in clamorous sedition, when the
          emperor  pronounced,  with   a   loud  voice,  the  decisive
          sentence, "Citizens! lay down your arms, and depart in peace
          to your respective  habitations."  The tempest was instantly
          appeased the soldiers, filled with grief and shame, silently
          confessed the justice  of  their punishment and the power of
          discipline, yielded up  their arms and military ensigns, and
          retired in confusion,  not to their camp, but to the several
          inns of the city. Alexander enjoyed, during thirty days, the
          edifying spectacle of  their  repentance; nor did he restore
          them to their  former rank in the army, till he had punished
          with death those  tribunes  whose  connivance had occasioned
          the mutiny. The  grateful  legion served the emperor, whilst
          living, and revenged him when dead.(78) 

Defects of his reign and character.
          The resolutions of  the  multitude  generally  depend  on  a
          moment; and the  caprice  of passion might equally determine
          the seditious legion to lay down their arms at the emperor's
          feet, or to  plunge  them  into  his breast. Perhaps, if the
          singular   transaction  had   been   investigated   by   the
          penetration of a philosophers, we should discover the secret
          causes which on that occasion authorised the boldness of the
          prince, and commanded  the  obedience  of  the  troops;  and
          perhaps, if it had been related by a judicious historian, we
          should find this  action,  worthy of Caesar himself, reduced
          nearer to the  level  of probability and the common standard
          of the character of Alexander Severus. The abilities of that
          amiable  prince  seem   to   have  been  inadequate  to  the
          difficulties of his  situation,  the firmness of his conduct
          inferior to the  purity  of  his  intentions. His virtues as
          well as the  vices  of  Elagabalus, contracted a tincture of
          weakness and effeminacy  from  the soft climate of Syria, of
          which he was  a  native;  though  he  blushed at his foreign
          origin,  and  listened   with  a  vain  complacency  to  the
          flattering  genealogists, who  derived  his  race  from  the
          ancient stock of Roman nobility.(79) The pride and avarice of 
          his mother cast  a shade on the glories of his reign; and by
          exacting from his  riper  years  the  sage dutiful obedience
          which she had  justly  claimed from his inexperienced youth,
          Mamaea exposed to  public ridicule, both her son's character
          and her own. (80)  The  fatigues of the Persian war irritated 
          the military discontent; the unsuccessful event degraded the
          reputation of the  emperor  as  a  general,  and  even  as a
          soldier.  Every  cause   prepared,  and  every  circumstance
          hastened, a revolution,  which  distracted the Roman, empire
          with a long series of intestine calamities

Digression on the finances of the empire.
          The dissolute tyranny of Commodus, the civil wars occasioned
          by his death, and the new maxims of policy introduced by the
          house  of Severus,  had  all  contributed  to  increase  the
          dangerous power of  the  army,  and  to obliterate the faint
          image of laws  and  liberty  that was still impressed on the
          minds of the  Romans. This internal change, which undermined
          the  foundations of  the  empire,  we  have  endeavoured  to
          explain with some  degree  of  order  and  perspicuity.  The
          personal characters of  the emperors, their victories, laws,
          follies, and fortunes,  can  interest  us no farther than as
          they are connected  with  the general history of the Decline
          and Fall of  the  monarchy.  Our  constant attention to that
          great object will not suffer us to overlook a most important
          edict of Antoninus  Caracalla, which communicated to all the
          free inhabitants of  the  empire  the name and privileges of
          Roman  citizens.  His   unbounded   liberality  flowed  not,
          however, from the  sentiments of a generous mind; it was the
          sordid result of  avarice, and will naturally be illustrated
          by some observations on the finances of that state, from the
          victorious  ages  of   the  commonwealth  to  the  reign  of
          Alexander Severus.

         The  siege  of  Veii  in  Tuscany,  the  first  considerable
          enterprise of the  Romans, was protracted to the tenth year,
          much  less  by  the  strength  of  the  place  than  by  the
          unskilfulness of the  besiegers.  The unaccustomed hardships
          of so many  winter campaigns, at the distance of near twenty
          miles   from   home,   (81)  required   more   than   common 
          encouragements; and the senate wisely prevented the clamours
          of the people,  by  the institution of a regular pay for the
          soldiers, which was  levied  by  a general tribute, assessed
          according to an  equitable proportion on the property of the
          citizens.(82) During  more  than  two hundred years after the 
          conquest of Veii,  the  victories of the republic added less
          to the wealth than to the power of Rome. The states of Italy
          paid their tribute  in  military  service only, and the vast
          force both by  sea  and land, which was exerted in the Punic
          wars,  was  maintained   at   the   expense  of  the  Romans
          themselves. That high-spirited  people  (such  is  often the
          generous enthusiasm of  freedom) cheerfully submitted to the
          most excessive but voluntary burdens, in the just confidence
          that they should  speedily  enjoy  the rich harvest of their
          labours. Their expectations  were  not  disappointed. In the
and abolitioncourse of a  few years, the riches of Syracuse, of Carthage,
of the tributeof Macedonia, and  of Asia, were brought in triumph to Rome.
on Roman    The treasures of Perseus alone amounted to near two millions
citizens    sterling and the  Roman  people,  the  sovereign  of so many
          nations, was for ever delivered from the weight of taxes.(83) 
          The increasing revenue of the provinces was found sufficient
          to defray the  ordinary  establishment of war and government
          and the superfluous mass of gold and silver was deposited in
          the  temple of  Saturn,  and  reserved  for  any  unforeseen
          emergency of the state.(84) 

Tributes of the provinces.
          History  has  never  perhaps  suffered  a  greater  or  more
          irreparable injury, than in the loss of the curious register
          bequeathed  by  Augustus   to  the  senate,  in  which  that
          experienced prince so  accurately  balanced the revenues and
          expenses of the  Roman empire.(85) Deprived of this clear and 
          comprehensive estimate, we  are  reduced  to  collect  a few
          imperfect  hints  from   such   of   the  ancients  as  have
          accidentally turned aside  from  the  splendid  to  the more
          useful parts of  history.  We  are  informed  that,  by  the
          conquests of Pompey,  the  tributes of Asia were raised from
          fifty to one hundred and thirty-five millions of drachms; or
          about four millions  and  a half sterling.(86) Under the last 
          and most indolent  of the Ptolemies, the revenue of Egypt is
          said  to have  amounted  to  twelve  thousand  five  hundred
          talents; a sum  equivalent  to  more than two millions and a
          half of our  money,  but  which  was afterwards considerably
          improved by the  more  exact  economy of the Romans, and the
of Gaul     increase of the  trade  of  Ethiopia  and India.(87) Gaul was 
          enriched by rapine,  as  Egypt  was  by  commerce,  and  the
          tributes of those  two great provinces have been compared as
          nearly equal to  each  other  in  value.(88) The ten thousand 
of Africa   Euboic or Phoenician  talents, about four millions sterling,
         (89) which vanquished Carthage was condemned to pay within the 
          term of fifty  years,  were  a  slight acknowledgment of the
          superiority of Rome,(90) and cannot bear the least proportion 
          with the taxes  afterwards  raised  both on the lands and on
          the persons of  the  inhabitants,  when the fertile coast of
          Africa was reduced into a province.(91) 

          Spain, by a  very singular fatality, was the Peru and Mexico
          of  the  old  world.  The  discovery  of  the  rich  western
          continent by the  Phoenicians,  and  the  oppression  of the
          simple natives, who  were  compelled  to labour in their own
          mines for the  benefit  of  strangers, form an exact type of
          the  more  recent   history   of  Spanish  America. (92)  The 
          Phoenicians  were acquainted  only  with  the  sea-coast  of
          Spain; avarice, as  well  as  ambition,  carried the arms of
          Rome and Carthage  into the heart of the country, and almost
          every part of  the  soil  was  found  pregnant  with copper,
          silver, and gold.  Mention is made of a mine near Carthagena
          which yielded every  day  twenty-five  thousand  drachms  of
          silver, or about  three  hundred  thousand pounds a year.(93) 
          Twenty thousand pound  weight  of gold was annually received
          from the provinces of Asturia, Gallicia, and Lusitania.(94) 

of the isle of Gyarus  
          We want both  leisure  and  materials to pursue this curious
          inquiry through the many potent states that were annihilated
          in the Roman  empire. Some notion, however, may be formed of
          the revenue of  the  provinces where considerable wealth had
          been deposited by nature, or collected by man, if we observe
          the severe attention  that  was  directed  to  the abodes of
          solitude and sterility.  Augustus  once  received a petition
          from the inhabitants  of  Gyarus,  humbly  praying that they
          might  be  relieved   from   one-third  of  their  excessive
          impositions. Their whole tax amounted indeed to no more than
          one hundred and  fifty  drachms,  or  about five pounds; but
          Cyarus was a  little island, or rather a rock, of the AEgean
          Sea, destitute of  fresh  water and every necessary of life,
          and inhabited only by a few wretched fishermen.(95) 

Amount of the revenue  
          From the faint  glimmerings  of  such doubtful and scattered
          lights we should  be  inclined  to  believe, 1st, That (with
          every  fair  allowance  for  the  difference  of  times  and
          circumstances) the general  income  of  the  Roman provinces
          could seldom amount  to less than fifteen or twenty millions
          of our money; (96)  and,  2ndly, That so ample a revenue must 
          have been fully adequate to all the expenses of the moderate
          government  instituted by  Augustus,  whose  court  was  the
          modest family of  a  private  senator,  and  whose  military
          establishment  was  calculated   for   the  defence  of  the
          frontiers, without any  aspiring  views  of conquest, or any
          serious apprehension of a foreign invasion.

Taxes on Roman citizens instituted by Augustus  
          Notwithstanding  the  seeming   probability  of  both  these
          conclusions, the latter  of  them  at  least  is  positively
          disowned by the  language and conduct of Augustus. It is not
          easy to determine whether, on this occasion, he acted as the
          common father of  the  Roman  world,  or as the oppressor of
          liberty; whether he  wished  to relieve the provinces, or to
          impoverish the senate  and  the  equestrian  order.  But  no
          sooner had he  assumed  the  reins  of  government  than  he
          frequently intimated the  insufficiency of the tributes, and
          the necessity of  throwing  an  equitable  proportion of the
          public burden upon  Rome  and  Italy.  In the prosecution of
          this unpopular design, he advanced, however, by cautious and
          well-weighed steps. The introduction of customs was followed
          by  the establishment  of  an  excise,  and  the  scheme  of
          taxation was completed  by  an artful assessment on the real
          and personal property  of  the  Roman citizens, who had been
          exempted from any kind of contribution above a century and a

The customs.  
          I. In a great empire like that of Rome, a natural balance of
          money must have  gradually  established  itself. It has been
          already observed, that  as  the  wealth of the provinces was
          attracted to the  capital by the strong hand of conquest and
          power, so a  considerable  part  of  it  was restored to the
          industrious provinces by  the  gentle  influence of commerce
          and arts. In  the  reign  of  Augustus  and  his successors,
          duties were imposed  on  every  kind  of  merchandise, which
          through a thousand  channels  flowed  to the great centre of
          opulence and luxury;  and  in  whatsoever manner the law was
          expressed,  it  was   the   Roman  purchaser,  and  not  the
          provincial merchant, who  paid  the  tax.(97) The rate of the 
          customs varied from  the  eighth to the fortieth part of the
          value of the  commodity; and we have a right to suppose that
          the variation was  directed  by  the  unalterable  maxims of
          policy: that a  higher  duty  was  fixed  on the articles of
          luxury than on  those of necessity, and that the productions
          raised or manufactured  by the labour of the subjects of the
          empire were treated  with  more indulgence than was shown to
          the pernicious, or  at  least  the  unpopular,  commerce  of
          Arabia and India. (98)  There  is  still  extant  a  long but 
          imperfect catalogue of  eastern commodities, which about the
          time of Alexander  Severus  were  subject  to the payment of
          duties; cinnamon, myrrh, pepper, ginger, and the whole tribe
          of aromatics, a  great  variety  of  precious  stones, among
          which the diamond was the most remarkable for its price, and
          the emerald for  its  beauty, (99)  Parthian  and  Babylonian 
          leather, cottons, silks,  both  raw and manufactured, ebony,
          ivory, and eunuchs. (100)  We  may  observe  that the use and 
          value of those  effeminate  slaves  gradually  rose with the
          decline of the empire.

The excise  
          II. The excise, introduced by Augustus after the civil wars,
          was  extremely moderate,  but  it  was  general.  It  seldom
          exceeded one per  cent.;  but  it  comprehended whatever was
          sold in the  markets  or  by  public  auction, from the most
          considerable purchases of  lands  and houses to those minute
          objects which can  only  derive  a value from their infinite
          multitude and daily  consumption.  Such a tax, as it affects
          the body of  the  people,  has  ever  been  the  occasion of
          clamour and discontent.  An emperor well acquainted with the
          wants and resources  of the state, was obliged to declare by
          a public edict  that  the  support of the army depended in a
          great measure on the produce of the excise.(101) 

Tax on legacies and inheritances  
          III.  When  Augustus   resolved  to  establish  a  permanent
          military force for  the  defence  of  his government against
          foreign  and domestic  enemies,  he  instituted  a  peculiar
          treasury for the  pay  of  the  soldiers, the rewards of the
          veterans, and the  extraordinary  expenses of war. The ample
          revenue of the  excise,  though  peculiarly  appropriated to
          those uses, was  found inadequate. To supply the deficiency,
          the emperor suggested  a  new  tax  of five per cent. on all
          legacies and inheritances.  But the nobles of Rome were more
          tenacious  of property  than  of  freedom.  Their  indignant
          murmurs were received  by Augustus with his usual temper. He
          candidly referred the  whole  business  to  the  senate, and
          exhorted them to  provide  for  the  public  service by some
          other expedient of  a  less odious nature. They were divided
          and perplexed. He  insinuated  to  them that their obstinacy
          would  oblige  him   to propose  a  general  land-tax  and
          capitation  They  acquiesced   in   silence.  (102)  The  new 
          imposition  on  legacies   and   inheritances   was  however
          mitigated by some restrictions. It did not take place unless
          the object was of a certain value, most probably of fifty or
          an hundred pieces  of gold,(103) nor could it be exacted from 
          the nearest of kin on the father's side.(104) When the rights 
          of  nature  and   poverty   were  thus  secured,  it  seemed
          reasonable that a  stranger,  or  a  distant  relation,  who
          acquired  an  unexpected   accession   of   fortune,  should
          cheerfully resign a  twentieth part of it for the benefit of
          the state.(105) 

Suited to the laws and manners.  
          Such a tax,  plentiful  as  it  must  prove in every wealthy
          community, was most  happily  suited to the situation of the
          Romans, who could  frame their arbitrary wills, according to
          the dictates of  reason  or  caprice,  without any restraint
          from the modern  fetters  of  entails  and settlements. From
          various causes the  partiality  of  paternal affection often
          lost  its  influence   over   the   stern  patriots  of  the
          commonwealth and the  dissolute nobles of the empire; and if
          the father bequeathed  to  his  son  the  fourth part of his
          estate, he removed  all ground of legal complaint.(106) But a 
          rich childless old  man was a domestic tyrant, and his power
          increased with his  years  and infirmities. A servile crowd,
          in  which  he  frequently  reckoned  praetors  and  consuls,
          courted his smiles,  pampered  his  avarice,  applauded  his
          follies, served his passions, and waited with impatience for
          his death. The  arts  of attendance and flattery were formed
          into  a most  lucrative  science;  those  who  professed  it
          acquired  a  peculiar   appellation;  and  the  whole  city,
          according to the  lively descriptions of satire, was divided
          between two parties,  the  hunters  and their game.(107) Yet, 
          while so many  unjust  and  extravagant wills were every day
          dictated by cunning, and subscribed by folly, a few were the
          result of rational  esteem  and  virtuous gratitude. Cicero,
          who had so  often  defended  the  lives  and fortunes of his
          fellow-citizens, was rewarded with legacies to the amount of
          an hundred and  seventy  thousand  pounds; (108)  nor  do the 
          friends of the younger Pliny seem to have been less generous
          to that amiable  orator. (109) Whatever was the motive of the 
          testator, the treasury  claimed,  without  distinction,  the
          twentieth part of  his  estate;  and in the course of two or
          three generations, the  whole  property  of the subject must
          have gradually passed through the coffers of the state.

Regulations of the emperors  
          In the first  and  golden  years  of the reign of Nero, that
          prince, from a  desire  of  popularity,  and  perhaps from a
          blind impulse of  benevolence conceived a wish of abolishing
          the  oppression  of  the  customs  and  excise.  The  wisest
          senators applauded his  magnanimity;  but  they diverted him
          from the execution  of  a design, which would have dissolved
          the strength and  resources  of  the  republic. (110)  Had it 
          indeed been possible  to  realise  this dream of fancy, such
          princes  as Trajan  and  the  Antonines  would  surely  have
          embraced with ardour  the glorious opportunity of conferring
          so signal an obligation on mankind. Satisfied, however, with
          alleviating the public  burden, they attempted not to remove
          it. The mildness and precision of their laws ascertained the
          rule and measure  of  taxation, and protected the subject of
          every  rank against  arbitrary  interpretations,  antiquated
          claims, and the  insolent  vexation  of  the  farmers of the
          revenue.(111) For it is somewhat singular that, in every age, 
          the best and  wisest  of  the  Roman governors persevered in
          this pernicious method  of collecting the principal branches
          at least of the excise and customs.(112) 

Edict of Caracalla  
          The sentiments, and,  indeed,  the  situation  of Caracalla,
          were  very  different   from   those   of   the   Antonines.
          Inattentive, or rather averse, to the welfare of his people,
          he found himself  under  the  necessity  of  gratifying  the
          insatiate avarice, which  he had excited in the army. Of the
          several impositions introduced by Augustus, the twentieth on
          inheritances and legacies  was the most fruitful, as well as
          the most comprehensive. As its influence was not confined to
          Rome or Italy,  the  produce  continually increased with the
          gradual extension of  the  ROMAN  CITY.  The  new  citizens,
          though charged, on  equal terms,(113) with the payment of new 
          taxes, which had  not  affected them as subjects, derived an
          ample  compensation  from   the   rank  they  obtained,  the
          privileges they acquired,  and  the fair prospect of honours
The freedom  and fortune that  was thrown open to their ambition. But the
of the city  favour  which  implied   a  distinction,  was  lost  in  the
given to all prodigality of Caracalla, and the reluctant provincials were
the        compelled  to  assume   the   vain   title,   and  the  real
provincials  obligations, of Roman citizens. Nor was the rapacious son of
for the purpose Severus contented with  such  a  measure of taxation, as had
of taxation.  appeared sufficient to his moderate predecessors. Instead of
          a  twentieth,  he  exacted  a  tenth  of  all  legacies  and
          inheritances;  and  during   his   reign  (for  the  ancient
          proportion was restored  after  his  death) he crushed alike
          every part of  the  empire  under  the  weight  of  his iron

Temporary reduction of tribute   
          When all the  provincials  became  liable  to  the  peculiar
          impositions of Roman  citizens,  they  seemed  to  acquire a
          legal exemption from  the  tributes  which  they had paid in
          their former condition of subjects. Such were not the maxims
          of government adopted  by  Caracalla  and his pretended son.
          The old as  well  as  the  new taxes were, at the same time,
          levied in the  provinces.  It was reserved for the virtue of
          Alexander to relieve  them  in  a  great  measure  from this
          intolerable  grievance,  by   reducing  the  tributes  to  a
          thirtieth part of  the  sum  exacted  at  the  time  of  his
          accession.(115) It  is  impossible  to  conjecture the motive 
          that engaged him  to  spare  so  trifling  a  remnant of the
          public evil, but  the  noxious  weed,  which  had  not  been
          totally eradicated, again  sprang up with the most luxuriant
          growth, and in  the  succeeding age darkened the Roman world
          with its deadly  shade.  In  the  course of this history, we
          shall be too  often  summoned  to  explain the land-tax, the
          capitation, and the  heavy contributions of corn, wine, oily
          and meat, which  were exacted from the provinces for the use
          of the court, the army, and the capital.

Consequences of the universal freedom of Rome   
          As long as  Rome  and  Italy were respected as the centre of
          government, a national  spirit was preserved by the ancient,
          and  insensibly  imbibed   by  the  adopted,  citizens.  The
          principal commands of  the  army  were filled by men who had
          received a liberal  education,  were  well instructed in the
          advantages of laws  and letters, and who had risen, by equal
          steps, through the  regular succession of civil and military
          honours.(116) To  their  influence  and example we may partly 
          ascribe the modest  obedience  of the legions during the two
          first centuries of the Imperial history.

          But when the  last  enclosure  of the Roman constitution was
          trampled down by  Caracalla,  the  separation of professions
          gradually succeeded to  the  distinction  of ranks. The more
          polished  citizens of  the  internal  provinces  were  alone
          qualified to act  as  lawyers  and  magistrates. The rougher
          trade of arms  was  abandoned to the peasants and barbarians
          of the frontiers,  who  knew  no  country but their camp, no
          science but that  of  war, no civil laws, and scarcely those
          of military discipline.  With  bloody hands, savage manners,
          and desperate resolutions,  they sometimes guarded, but much
          oftener subverted, the throne of the emperors.

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