The Life of Severus Alexander


Historia Augusta


1

1

After the murder of Varius Elagabalus — for thus we prefer to call him rather than Antoninus, for, plague that he was, he showed none of the traits of the Antonines,

2

and his name Antoninus, furthermore, was expunged from the public records by order of the senate — for the curing of the human race the imperial power passed to Aurelius Alexander. He was born in the city of Arca and he was the son of Varius, the grandson of Varia, and the cousin of Elagabalus himself. The name of Caesar had been bestowed on him by the senate previously, that is, after the death of Macrinus;

3

now he was given the name of Augustus, and it was further granted him by the senate that on the same day he should take the title of Father of his Country, the proconsular command, the tribunician power, and the privilege of making five proposals to the House.

4

Now lest this quick succession of honours may seem precipitate, I will set forth the reasons which moved the senate to grant and the Emperor to accept them.

5

For it befitted neither the senate's dignity to bestow all of them together, nor yet a good prince to seize upon so many honours at one time.

6

But the soldiers had now grown accustomed to appoint their own emperors, often in a disorderly fashion, and also to change them at will, sometimes alleging in their own defence that they had taken action only because they did not know that the senate had named a ruler.

7

For they had chosen as emperors Pescennius Niger, Clodius Albinus, Avidius Cassius, and, in earlier years, Lucius Vindex and Lucius Antonius; and they had chosen even Severus too, after the senate had already named Julianus as prince. And thus were sown the seeds of civil wars, in which it necessarily happened that soldiers enlisted to fight against a foreign foe fell at the hands of their brothers.


2

1

For this reason, then, the senate hastened to bestow all these honours on Alexander at the same time, as though he had long been emperor.

2

To this, moreover, must be added the great desire of the senate and people for Alexander, now that they had been delivered from that scourge who had not only sullied the name of the Antonines but brought shame upon the Roman Empire.

3

Indeed, they vied with one another in bestowing on him all manner of titles and powers.

4

He, then, was the first of all the emperors to receive at one time all insignia and all forms of honour, commended to them, as he was, by the name of Caesar, earned some years previously, but commended still more by his life and morals. He had won great favour, too, from the fact that Elagabalus had tried to slay him, but without success because of the resistance of the soldiers and the opposition of the senate.

5

All these considerations, however, would have availed him little, had he not shown himself worthy that the senate should honour him, that the soldiers should be eager for his preservation, and the voice of all good citizens name him their prince.


3

1

Alexander, then, the son of Mamaea (for so he is called by many), had been nurtured from his earliest boyhood in all excellent arts, civil and military. Not a single day, indeed, did he allow to pass in which he did not train himself for literature and for military service.

2

His teachers were: during his early childhood, Valerius Cordus, Titus Veturius, and Aurelius Philippus (his father's freedman who afterwards wrote his life);

3

while he lived in his native town, the Greek grammarian, Neho, the rhetorician Serapio, and the philosopher Stilio; and when he was at Rome, the grammarian Scaurinus (the son of Scaurinus and a most famous teacher), and the rhetoricians Julius Frontinus, Baebius Macrianus, and Julius Granianus, whose exercises in rhetoric are in use today. In Latin literature, however, he was not very proficient, as is shown by the orations which he delivered in the senate, and also by the speeches which he made before the soldiers or the people.

4

And indeed he did not greatly value the power to speak in Latin, although he was very fond of men of letters, fearing them at the same time, lest they might write something harsh about him.

5

Indeed, it was his wish that those whom he found worthy of the privilege should be informed of all that he did, both officially and in his private life, and he even gave them information himself if they chanced to be absent at the time, begging them that if it were true, they should include it in their books.


4

1

He forbade men to call him Lord, and he gave orders that people should write to him as they would to a commoner, retaining only the title Imperator.

2

He removed from the imperial footwear and garments all the jewels that had been used by Elagabalus, and he wore a plain white robe without any gold, just as he is always depicted, and ordinary cloaks and togas.

3

He associated with his friends on such familiar terms that he would sit with them as equals, attend their banquets, have some of them as his own daily guests, even when they were not formally summoned, and hold a morning levee like any senator with open curtains and without the presence of ushers, or, at least, with none but those who acted as attendants at the doors, whereas previously it was not possible for people to pay their respects to the emperor for the reason that he could not see them.

4

As to his physique, in addition to the grace and the manly beauty still to be seen in his portraits and statues, he had the strength and height of a soldier and the vigour of the military man who knows the power of his body and always maintains it.

5

Besides this, he endeared himself to all men; some even called him Pius, but all regarded him as a holy man and one of great value to the state.

6

And when Elagabalus was plotting against him, he received in the temple owing to the Praenestine Goddess20 the following oracle:

"If ever thou breakest the Fates' cruel power, Thou a Marcellus shalt be."


5

1

He was given the name Alexander because he was born in a temple dedicated to Alexander the Great in the city of Arca, whither his father and mother had chanced to go on the feast-day of Alexander for the purpose of attending the sacred festival.

2

The proof of this is the fact that this Alexander, the son of Mamaea, celebrated as his birthday that very day on which Alexander the Great departed this life.

3

The name Antoninus was proffered him by the senate, but he refused it, although he was connected with Caracalla by a closer degree of kinship than the spurious Antoninus.

4

For, as Marius Maximus narrates in his Life of Severus, Severus, at that time only a commoner and a man of no great position, married a noble-woman from the East, whose horoscope, he learned, declared that she should be the wife of an emperor; and she was a kinswoman of Alexander, to whom Varius Elagabalus, as a matter of fact, was a cousin on his mother's side.

5

He refused also the title of "the Great," which, because he was an Alexander, was offered to him by vote of the senate.


6

1

It will not be without interest to re‑read the oration in which Alexander refused the names of Antoninus and "the Great," which were offered him by the senate. But before I quote it, I will insert the acclamations of the senate, by which these names were decreed.

2

Extract from the City Gazette; On the day before the Nones of March, when the senate met in full session in the Senate-Chamber (that is, in the Temple of Concord, a formally consecrated sanctuary), and when Aurelius Alexander Caesar Augustus had been requested to proceed thither and, after at first refusing for the reason that he knew that action was to be taken with regard to his titles, had finally appeared before the senate,

3

the following acclamations were uttered: "Augustus, free from all guilt, may the gods keep you! Alexander, our Emperor, may the gods keep you! The gods have given you to us, may the gods preserve you! The gods have rescued you from the hands of the foul man, may the gods preserve you forever!

4

You too have endured the foul tyrant, you too had reason to grieve that the filthy and foul one lived. The gods have cast him forth root and branch, and you have they saved. The infamous emperor has been duly condemned.

5

Happy are we in your rule, happy to is the state. The infamous emperor has been dragged with the hook, as an example of what men should fear; justly punished is the voluptuous emperor, punished justly he who defiled the public honours. May the gods in Heaven grant long life to Alexander! Thus are the judgments of the gods revealed."


7

1

And when Alexander had expressed his thanks the acclamations arose again: "Antoninus Alexander, may the gods keep you! Aurelius Antoninus, may the gods keep you! Antoninus Pius, may the gods keep you!

2

Receive the name Antoninus, we beseech you. Grant to our righteous emperors this boon, that you should be called Antoninus. Purify the name of the Antonines. Purify what he has defiled. Restore to its former glory the name of the Antonines. Let the blood of the Antonines know itself once more.

3

Avenge the wrongs of Marcus. Avenge the wrongs of Verus. Avenge the wrongs of Bassianus.

4

Worse than Commodus is Elagabalus alone. No emperor he, nor Antoninus, nor citizen, nor senator, nor man of noble blood, nor Roman.

5

In you is our salvation, in you our life. That we may have joy in living, long life to Alexander of the house of the Antonines! The temples of the Antonines let an Antoninus consecrate. The Parthians and the Persians let an Antoninus vanquish.

6

The sacred name let the consecrated receive. The sacred name let the pure receive. May the gods remember the name of Antoninus, may the gods preserve the honours of the Antonines! In you are all things, through you are all things. Hail, O Antoninus!"


8

1

After these acclamations Aurelius Alexander Caesar Augustus spoke: "I thank you, O Conscript Fathers, and not now for the first time, both for the name of Caesar and for the life that has been spared to me, and also because you have bestowed on me the name of Augustus, the office of Pontifex Maximus, the tribunician power, and the proconsular command, all of which you have conferred on me without precedent on a single day."

2

And when he had spoken, they cried out: "These honours you have accepted, now accept also the name Antoninus.

3

Let the senate be deemed worthy of this boon, let the Antonines be deemed worthy. Antoninus Augustus, may the gods keep you, may the gods preserve you as Antoninus! Let the name of Antoninus appear again on our coins. Let an Antoninus consecrate the temples of the Antonines."

4

Then Aurelius Alexander Augustus spoke again: "Do not, I beseech you, O Conscript Fathers, do not force upon me the necessity of so difficult a task, that I should be constrained to do justice to so great a name, when even this very name which I now bear, albeit a foreign one, seems to weigh heavily upon me.

5

For all illustrious names are burdensome indeed. Who, pray, would give the name of Cicero to one who was dumb, or Varro to one who was unlearned, or Metellus to one who was undutiful? And who would endure — though this may the gods forfend! — that the man who failed to live up to the tradition of his name should continue to dwell amid the most illustrious forms of honour?"


9

1

Again the same acclamations as above. Again the Emperor spoke: "How great was the name, or rather the divinity, of the Antonines, Your Clemency remembers well. If you think of righteousness, who more honest than Verus? If of bravery, who more brave than Bassianus?

2

For on Commodus I have no wish to dwell, who was the more depraved for this very reason, that with those evil ways of his he still held the name of Antoninus.

3

Diadumenianus, moreover, had neither the time nor the years, and it was only through his father's artifice that he seized upon this name."

4

Again the same acclamations as above. Again the Emperor spoke: "Surely, not long ago, O Conscript Fathers, when that filthiest of all creatures, both two-footed and four-footed, vaunted the name of Antoninus, and in baseness and debauchery outdid a Nero, a Vitellius, and a Commodus, you remember what groanings arose from all, and how in the gatherings of the populace and of all honourable men there was but a single cry — that he was unworthy to bear the name of Antoninus, and that by such a plague as he that great name was profaned."

5

When he had spoken, there were again acclamations: "May the gods avert such evils! We fear them not with you as our emperor. We are safe from them with you as our leader. You have triumphed over vice, you have triumphed over crime, you have triumphed over dishonour.

6

You will add lustre to the name of Antoninus. We foresee it surely, we foresee it clearly. From your childhood on we have esteemed you, now too we esteem you."

7

Again the Emperor; "It is not that I shrink, O Conscript Fathers, from accepting this revered name merely because I fear that my life may fall into vices which will cause me to feel shame for the name; but I do not desire to take a name which, in the first place, belongs to a house that is no kin to me, and, in the second, I fell assured, will weigh heavily upon me."


10

1

And when he had spoken, there were acclamations as before. Again he spoke:

2

"If indeed I take the name of Antoninus, I may take also the name of Trajan, the name of Titus, and the name of Vespasian."

3

And when he had spoken, there were acclamations: "As you are now Augustus, so also be Antoninus." Again the Emperor: "I see, O Conscript Fathers, what impels you to bestow upon us this name also.

4

The first Augustus was the first founder of this Empire, and to his name we all succeed, either by some form of adoption or by hereditary claim. Even the Antonines themselves bore the name of Augustus.

5

Likewise the first Antoninus gave his name to Marcus and also to Verus by a process of adoption, while in the case of Commodus it was inherited, in Diadumenianus assumed, in Bassianus simulated, but in Aurelius it would be a mockery."

6

And when he had spoken, there were acclamations: "Alexander Augustus, may the gods keep you! May the gods in Heaven look with favour upon your modesty, your wisdom, your integrity, your purity! Hence we can see what an emperor you will be, and hence we esteem you.

7

You will be a proof that the senate can choose its rulers with wisdom. You will be a proof that the choice of the senate is the best of all. Alexander Augustus, may the gods keep you! Let Alexander Augustus consecrate the temples of the Antonines.

8

Our Caesar, our Augustus, our emperor, may the gods keep you! May you be victorious, may you prosper, and may you rule for many years!"

11

1

Alexander the Emperor spoke: I perceive, O Conscript Fathers, that I have obtained my desire, and I count it as gain, feeling and expressing the deepest gratitude. And I will endeavour to make the name which I bring to this office so famous that it will be coveted by future emperors and be bestowed upon the righteous in testimony of your loyalty."

2

Thereupon there were acclamations: "O Great Alexander, may the gods keep you! If you have rejected the surname Antoninus, accept then the praenomen of 'the Great.' O Great Alexander, may the gods keep you!"

3

And when they had cried this out many times, Alexander Augustus spoke: "It would be easier, O Conscript Fathers, to take the name of the Antonines, for in so doing I should make some concession either to kinship or to a joint possession in that imperial name.

4

But why should I accept the name of 'the Great'? What great thing have I done? Alexander, indeed, received it after great achievements, and Pompey after great triumphs.

5

Be silent then, O revered Fathers, and do you in your greatness hold me as one of yourselves rather than force upon me the use of the name of 'the Great.' "


12

1

Thereupon they cried out "Aurelius Alexander Augustus, may the gods keep you!" and all the rest in the usual manner.

2

When the senate had adjourned after the transaction of much other business on that same day, the Emperor returned home in the manner of one celebrating a triumph.

3

For he seemed much more illustrious for refusing to receive names which did not belong to him than if he had received them, and he obtained from this refusal a reputation for steadfastness and mature dignity, since, though but one single man, or rather youth, he could not be moved by the persuasions of the entire senate.

4

Nevertheless, although the entreaties of the senate could not persuade him to take the name of either Antoninus or "the Great," the troops conferred on him the name Severus on account of his great strength of spirit and his marvellous and matchless fortitude in the face of the soldiers' insolence.

5

This won him profound respect in his own time, and great renown among later generations, especially since it came to pass further that he was given this name on account of his courageous spirit; for he is the only one of whom it is known that he dismissed mutinous legions, as I shall tell at the proper place, and, moreover, inflicted the harshest punishments on soldiers who chanced to commit any deed which could seem unlawful, as we shall also relate in its own place.


13

1

The omens that predicted his rule were as follows: First, he was born on the anniversary of that day on which, it is said, Alexander the Great departed this life; secondly, his mother bore him in a temple dedicated to Alexander; and thirdly, he was called by Alexander's name. Furthermore, a dove's egg of purple hue, laid the very day he was born, was presented to his mother by an old woman; and from this the soothsayers prophesied that he would indeed be emperor, but not for long, and that he would speedily succeed to the imperial power.

2

Furthermore, a picture of the Emperor Trajan, which hung over his father's marriage-bed, fell down upon the bed at the time that Alexander was born in the temple.

3

We must add, moreover, that a woman named Olympias acted as his nurse — this was also the name of the mother of Alexander the Great —

4

and it happened by chance that he was reared by a certain peasant named Philip — which was the name of Alexander's father.

5

It is said that on the day after his birth a star of the first magnitude was visible for the entire day at Arca Caesarea, and also that in the neighbourhood of his father's house the sun was encircled with a gleaming ring.

6

And the soothsayers, when they commended his birthday to the favour of the gods, declared that he would some day hold the supreme power, because some sacrificial victims were brought in from a farm of the Emperor Severus, which the tenants had made ready in order to do honour to the Emperor.

7

Also, a laurel sprang up in his house close to a peach-tree, and within a single year it outgrew the peach, and from this the soothsayers predicted that he was destined to conquer the Persians.


14

1

The night before he was born his mother dreamed that she brought forth a purple snake,

2

and on the same night his father saw himself in a dream carried to the sky on the wings of the Victory of Rome which is in the Senate-Chamber.

3

And when Alexander himself consulted a prophet about his future, being still a small child, he received, it is said, the following verses,

4

and first of all, by the oracle

"Thee doth empire await on earth and in Heaven"

it was understood that he was even to have a place among the deified emperors; then came

"Thee doth empire await which rules an empire"

by which it was understood that he should become ruler of the Roman Empire; for where, save at Rome, is there an imperial power that rules an empire? This same story, too, is related with regard to some Greek verses.

5

Moreover, when at his mother's bidding he turned his attention from philosophy and music to other pursuits, he seemed to be alluded to in the following verses from the Vergil-oracle:

"Others, indeed, shall fashion more gracefully life-breathing bronzes,

Well I believe it, and call from the marble faces more lifelike,

Others more skilfully plead in the court-room and measure out closely

Pathways through Heaven above and tell of the stars in their risings;

Thou, O Roman, remember to rule all the nations with power.

These arts ever be thine: The precepts of peace to inculcate,

Those that are proud to cast down from their seats, to the humbled show mercy."

6

There were many other portents, too, which made it clear that he was to be the ruler of all mankind.

His eyes were very brilliant and hard to look at for a long time. He was very often able to read thoughts and he had an exceptional memory for facts — though Acholius used to maintain that he was aided by a mnemonic device.

7

After he succeeded to the imperial power, while still a boy, he used to do everything in conjunction with his mother, so that she seemed to have an equal share in the rule, a woman greatly revered, but covetous and greedy for gold and silver.


15

1

When he began to play the part of emperor, his first acts to remove from their official posts and duties and from all connexion with the government all those judges whom that filthy creature had raised from the lowest class. Next, he purified the senate and the equestrian order;

2

then he purified the tribes and the lists of those whose positions depended on the privileges accorded to soldiers, and the Palace, too, and all his own suite, dismissing from service at the court all the depraved and those of ill-repute. And he permitted none save those who were needed to remain in the retinue of the Palace.

3

Then he bound himself by an oath that he would not retain any supernumeraries, that is, any holders of sinecures, his purpose being to relieve the state of the burden of their rations; for he characterized as a public evil an emperor who fed on the vitals of the provincials any men neither necessary nor useful to the commonwealth.

4

He issued orders that judges guilty of theft should never appear in any city, and that if they did, they should be banished by the ruler of the province.

5

He gave careful attention to the rationing of the troops, and he inflicted capital punishment on tribunes who gave any privileges to soldiers in return for tithes of their rations.

6

He issued instructions that the chiefs of the bureaux and those jurists who were most learned and most loyal to himself, of whom the foremost at that time was Ulpian, should examine and arrange in order all state-business and all law-suits, and then submit them to himself.


16

1

The respective rights of the people and the privy-purse he provided for in innumerable just laws, and he never formally issued an imperial order save in conjunction with twenty of the most learned jurists and at least fifty men of wisdom who were also skilled in speaking, his purpose being to have in his council as many votes as were requisite to pass a decree of the senate.

2

The opinion of a man would be asked and whatever he said written down, but before anyone spoke, he was granted time for inquiry and reflection, in order that he might not be compelled to speak without due thought on matters of great importance.

3

It was his custom, furthermore, when dealing with matters of law or public business, to summon only those who were learned and skilled in speaking, but when matters of war were discussed, to summon former soldiers and old men who had served with honour and had knowledge of strategic positions, warfare, and camps; and he would also send for all the men of letters, particularly those versed in history, and ask them what action in cases like those under discussion had been taken by previous emperors, either of the Romans or of foreign nations.


17

1

Encolpius, with whom Alexander was on most intimate terms, used to say that the Emperor, whenever he saw a thieving judge, had a finger ready to tear out the man's eye; such was his hatred for those whom he found guilty of theft.

2

It is told, furthermore, by Septimius, who has given a good account of Alexander's life, that so great was his indignation at judges, who, although not actually found guilty, yet laboured under the reputation of being dishonest, that, even if he merely chanced to see them, he would vent all the bile of his anger in great perturbation of spirit and with his whole countenance aflame, so that he became unable to speak.

3

Indeed, when a certain Septimius Arabianus, who had been notorious because of accusations of theft, but had been acquitted under Elagabalus, came with the senators to pay his respects to the Emperor, Alexander exclaimed:

4

"O Marna, O Jupiter, O ye gods in Heaven, not only is Arabianus alive, but he comes into the senate, and perhaps he is even hoping for some favour from me; does he consider me so foolish and so stupid?"

In greeting him at his levees it was customary to address him by his name only, that is, "Hail, Alexander".


18

1

And if any man bowed his head or said aught that was over-polite as a flatterer, he was either ejected, in case the degree of his station permitted it, or else, if his rank could not be subjected to graver affront, he was ridiculed with loud laughter.

2

At his levees he granted an audience to all senators, but even so he admitted to his presence none but the honest and those of good report; and — according to the custom said to be observed in the Eleusinian mysteries, where none may enter save those who know themselves to be guiltless — he gave orders that the herald should proclaim that no one who knew himself to be a thief should come to pay his respects to the emperor, lest he might in some way be discovered and receive capital punishment.

3

Also, he forbade any one to worship him, whereas Elagabalus had begun to receive adoration in the manner of the king of the Persians.

4

Furthermore, he was the originator of the saying that only thieves complain of poverty — their purpose being to conceal the wickedness of their lives.

5

He used also to quote a well known proverb about thieves, using a Greek version which is rendered into Latin thus: "Whoso steals much but gives a little to his judges, he shall go free." The Greek, however, is as follows:

"Who much has thieved, through payment small shall be absolved."


19

1

He always chose his prefects of the guard subject to the authorization of the senate and the senate actually appointed the prefect of the city. Once he even appointed as second prefect of the guard a man who had tried to avoid the appointment, saying that it was the reluctant and not the seekers of office who should be given positions in the state.

2

He never appointed anyone to the senate without consulting all the senators present; for it was his policy that a senator should be chosen only in accordance with the opinions of all, that men of the highest rank should give their testimony, and that, if either those who gave testimony or those who subsequently expressed their opinion had spoken falsely, they should be degraded to the lowest class of citizens, the sentence being carried out without any prospect of mercy, just as if they had been found guilty of fraud.

3

Moreover, he never appointed senators except on the vote of the men of highest rank in the Palace, asserting that he who created a senator should himself be a great man.

4

And he would never enrol freedmen in the equestrian order, for he always maintained that this order was the nursery for senators.


20

1

So considerate was he that he would never have anyone ordered to stand aside, always showed himself courteous and gracious to all, visited the sick, not merely his friends of the first and second degrees, but also those of lower rank, desired that every man should speak his thoughts freely and heard him when he spoke, and, when he had heard, ordered improvement and reform as the case demanded;

2

but if anything was not done well, he would reprove it in person, though without any arrogance or bitterness of spirit. He would grant an audience to any except those whom persistent rumours charged with dishonesty, and he would always make inquiries concerning the absent.

3

Finally, when his mother Mamaea and his wife Memmia, the daughter of Sulpicius, a man of consular rank, and the grand-daughter of Catulus, would often upbraid him for excessive informality, saying, "You have made your rule too gentle and the authority of the empire less respected," he would reply, "Yes, but I have made it more secure and more lasting."

4

In short, he never allowed a day to pass without doing some kind, some generous, or some righteous deed, and yet he never ruined the public treasury.

21

1

He gave orders that few sentences should be pronounced, but those that were pronounced he would not reverse. He assigned public revenues to individual communities for the advancement of their own special handicrafts.

2

And he loaned out public money on interest at four-per‑cent, but to many of the poor he even advanced money without interest for the purchase of lands, the loans to be repaid from their profits.

3

His prefects of the guard he would promote to the rank of senator in order that they might belong to the class of The Illustrious and be so addressed.

4

Previous to his time such promotions had been made rarely, or, if made at all, had been of short duration; indeed — as Marius Maximus says in many of his biographies — whenever an emperor wished to appoint a successor to the prefect of the guard, he merely had a freedman take him a tunic with the broad stripe.

5

Alexander, however, in wishing the prefects to be senators had this end in view, namely, that no one might pass judgment on a Roman senator who was not a senator himself.

6

He knew all about his soldiers, wherever he might be; even in his bed-chamber he had records containing the numbers of the troops and the length of each man's service, and when he was alone he constantly went over their budgets, their numbers, their several ranks, and their pay, in order that he might be thoroughly conversant with every detail.

7

Finally, whenever there was anything to be done in the presence of the soldiers, he could even call many of them by name.

8

He would also make notes about those whom he was to promote and read through each memorandum, actually making a note at the same time both of the date and the name of the man on whose recommendation the promotion was made.

9

He greatly improved the provisioning of the populace of Rome, for, whereas Elagabalus had wasted the grain-supply, Alexander, by purchasing grain at his own expense, restored it to its former status.


22

1

In order to bring merchants to Rome of their own accord he bestowed the greatest privileges on them,

2

and he established anew the largess of oil which Severus had given to the populace and Elagabalus had reduced when he conferred the prefecture of the grain-supply on the basest.

3

The right of bringing suit, which that same filthy wretch had abrogated, he restored to all.

4

He erected in Rome very many great engineering-works. He respected the privileges of the Jews and allowed the Christians to exist unmolested.

5

He paid great deference to the Pontifices, to the Board of Fifteen, and to the Augurs, even permitting certain cases involving sacred matters, though already decided by himself, to be reopened and presented in a different aspect.

6

Whenever he discovered that the praises accorded to a returning provincial governor were genuine and not the result of intrigue, he would always ask the man to ride in his own carriage with him when on a journey and also help him by means of presents, saying that rogues should be driven from public office and impoverished, but that the upright should be retained and enriched.

7

Once, when the populace of Rome petitioned him for a reduction of prices, he had a herald ask them what kinds of food they considered too dear, and when they cried out immediately "beef and pork"

8

he refused to proclaim a general reduction but gave orders that no one should slaughter a sow or a suckling-pig, a cow or a calf. As a result, in two years or, in fact, in little more than one year, there was such an abundance of pork and beef, that whereas a pound had previously cost eight minutuli, the price of both these meats was reduced to two and even one per pound.


23

1

When soldiers brought charges against their tribunes he would hear them with attention, and whenever he found a tribune guilty, he would punish him in proportion to the degree of his offence, leaving no prospect of pardon.

2

In gathering information about any person he would always use agents whom he could trust, and it was his practice to employ for this purpose men whom no one knew, for he used to say that every man could be bribed.

3

He always had his slaves wear slaves' attire, but his freedmen that of the free-born.

4

He removed all eunuchs from his service and gave orders that they should serve his wife as slaves.

5

And whereas Elagabalus had been the slave of his eunuchs, Alexander reduced them to a limited number and removed them from all duties in the Palace except the care of the women's baths;

6

and whereas Elagabalus had also placed many over the administration of the finances and in procuratorships, Alexander took away from them even their previous positions.

7

For he used to say that eunuchs were a third sex of the human race, one not to be seen or employed by men and scarcely even by women of noble birth.

8

And when one of them sold a false promise in his name and received a hundred aurei from one of the soldiers, he ordered him to be crucified along the road which his slaves used in great numbers on their way to the imperial country-estates.


24

1

Very many provinces which had previously been governed by legates were transferred by him to the class which was ruled by equestrian governors, and the provinces which were under proconsuls were governed according to the wish of the senate.

2

He forbade the maintenance in Rome of baths used by both sexes — which had, indeed, been forbidden previously but had been allowed by Elagabalus.

3

He ordered that the taxes imposed on procurers, harlots, and catamites should not be deposited in the public treasury, but utilized them to meet the state's expenditures for the restoration of the theatre, the Circus, the Amphitheatre, and the Stadium.

4

In fact, he had it in mind to prohibit catamites altogether — which was afterwards done by Philip — but he feared that such a prohibition would merely convert an evil recognized by the state into a vice practised in private — for men when driven on by passion are more apt to demand a vice which is prohibited.

5

He imposed a very profitable tax on makers of trousers, weavers of linen, glass-workers, furriers, locksmiths, silversmiths, goldsmiths, and workers in the other crafts, and gave orders that the proceeds should be devoted to the maintenance of the baths for the use of the populace, not only those that he had himself built, but also those that were previously in existence;

6

he also assigned certain forests as a source of income for the public baths. In addition, he donated oil for the lighting of the baths, whereas previously these were not open before dawn and were closed before sunset.


25

1

Some writers have maintained in their books that Alexander's reign was without bloodshed.

2

This, however, is not the case, for he was given the name of Severus by the soldiers because of his strictness,

3

and his punishments were in come cases much too harsh.

He restored the public works of former emperors and built many new ones himself, among them the bath which was called by his own name adjacent to what had been the Neronian

4

and also the aqueduct which still has the name Alexandriana. Next to this bath he planted a grove of trees on the site of some private dwellings which he purposed and then tore down.

5

One bath-tub he called "the Ocean" — and he was the first of the emperors to do this, for Trajan had not done this but had merely called his tubs after the different days.

6

The Baths of Antoninus Caracalla he completed and beautified by the addition of a portico.

7

Moreover, he was the first to use the so‑called Alexandrian marble-work, which is made of two kinds of stone, porphyry and Lacedaemonian marble, and he employed this kind of material in the ornamentation of the open places in the Palace.

8

He set up in the city many statues of colossal size, calling together sculptors from all places.

9

And he had himself depicted on many of his coins in the costume of Alexander the Great, some of these coins being made of electrum but most of them of gold.

10

He forbade women of evil reputation to attend the levees of his mother and his wife.

11

According to the custom of the ancient tribunes and consuls he made many speeches throughout the city.


26

1

Thrice he presented a largess to the populace, and thrice a gift of money to the soldiers, and to the populace he also gave meat.

2

He reduced the interest demanded by money-lenders to the rate of four-per‑cent — in this measure, too, looking out for the welfare of the poor —

3

and in the case of senators who loaned money, he first ordered them not to take any interest at all save what they might receive as a gift, but afterwards permitted them to exact six-per‑cent, abrogating, however, the privilege of receiving gifts.

4

He placed statues of the foremost men in the Forum of Trajan, moving them thither from all sides.

5

He held in especial honour Ulpian and Paulus, whom, some say, Elagabalus made prefects of the guard, others, Alexander himself.

6

Ulpian, it is related, was a member of Alexander's council as well as chief of a bureau, but both of them are said to have sat on the bench with Papinian.

7

Alexander also began the Basilica Alexandrina, situated between the Campus Martius and the Saepta of Agrippa, one hundred feet broad and one thousand long and so constructed that its weight rested wholly on columns; its completion, however, was prevented by his death.

8

The shrines of Isis and Serapis he supplied with a suitable equipment, providing them with statues, Delian slaves, and all the apparatus used in mystic rites.

9

Toward his mother Mamaea he showed singular devotion, even to the extent of constructing in the Palace at Rome certain apartments named after her (which the ignorant mob of today calls "ad Mammam") and also near Baiae a palace and a pool, still listed officially under the name of Mamaea.

10

He also built in the district of Baiae other magnificent public works in honour of his kinsmen, and huge pools, besides, formed by letting in the sea.

11

The bridges which Trajan had built he restored almost everywhere, and he constructed new ones, too, but on those that he restored he retained Trajan's name.


27

1

It was his intention to assign a peculiar type of clothing to each imperial staff, not only to the various ranks — in order that they might be distinguished by their garments — but also to the slaves as a class — that they might be easily recognized when among the populace and held in check in case of disorder, and also that they might be prevented from mingling with the free-born.

2

This measure, however, was regarded with disapproval by Ulpian and Paulus, who declared that it would cause much brawling in case the men were at all quick to quarrel.

3

Thereupon it was held to be sufficient to make a distinction between Roman knights and senators by means of the width of the purple stripe.

4

But permission was given to old men to wear cloaks in the city as a protection against the cold, whereas previously this kind of garment had not been used except on journeys or in rainy weather. Matrons, on the other hand, were forbidden to wear cloaks in the city but permitted to use them while on a journey.

5

He could deliver orations in Greek better than in Latin, he wrote verse that was not lacking in charm, and he had a taste for music. He was expert in astrology, and in accordance with his command astrologers even established themselves officially in Rome and professed their art openly for the purpose of supplying information.

6

He was also well versed in divination, and so skilled an observer of birds was he that he surpassed both the Spanish Vascones and the augurs of the Pannonians.

7

He was a student of geometry, he painted marvellously, and he sang with distinction, though he never allowed any listeners to be present except his slaves.

8

He composed in verse the lives of the good emperors.

9

He could play the lyre, the clarinet, and the organ, and he could even blow the trumpet, but this he never did openly while emperor. Moreover, he was a wrestler of the first rank,

10

and he was great in arms, winning many wars and with great glory.


28

1

He held the regular consulship only three times, merely entering upon the office and on the first legal day always appointing some one else in his place.

2

As a judge he was especially harsh towards thieves, referring to them as guilty of daily crime, and he would pronounce most severe sentences on them, declaring that they were the only real enemies and foes of the state.

3

When a clerk at a meeting of the imperial council brought in a falsified brief of a case, he ordered the tendons of his fingers to be cut, in order that he might never be able to write again, and then banished him.

4

Once a certain man, who had held public office and had at some time been accused of evil living and theft, sought by means of undue intriguing to enter military service and was admitted because he had paid court to certain friendly kings; but immediately thereafter he was detected in a theft, even in the very presence of his patrons, and was ordered to plead his case before the kings, and his guilt being established he was convicted.

5

Thereupon the kings were asked what penalty thieves suffered at their hands, and they replied "the cross," and at this reply the man was crucified. So not only was the intriguer condemned by his own patrons, but also Alexander's policy of clemency, which he particularly desired to maintain, was duly upheld.

6

In the Forum of Nerva (which they call the Forum Transitorium) he set up colossal statues of the deified emperors, some on foot and nude, others on horseback, with all their titles and with columns of bronze containing lists of their exploits, doing this after the example of Augustus, who erected in his forum marble statues of the most illustrious men, together with the record of their achievements.

7

He wished it to be thought that he derived his descent from the race of the Romans, for he felt shame at being called a Syrian, especially because, on the occasion of a certain festival, the people of Antioch and of Egypt and Alexandria had annoyed him with jibes, as is their custom, calling him a Syrian synagogue-chief and a high priest.


29

1

Before I tell of his wars and his campaigns and his victories, I will relate a few details of his private every-day life.

2

His manner of living was as follows: First of all, if it were permissible, that is to say, if he had not lain with his wife, in the early morning hours he would worship in the sanctuary of his Lares, in which he kept statues of the deified emperors — of whom, however, only the best had been selected — and also of certain holy souls, among them Apollonius, and, according to a contemporary writer, Christ, Abraham, Orpheus, and others of this same character and, besides, the portraits of his ancestors.

3

If this act of worship were not possible, he would ride about, or fish, or walk, or hunt, according to the character of the place in which he was.

4

Next, if the hour permitted, he would give earnest attention to public business, for all matters both military and civil, were, as I have said previously, worked over by his friends — who were, however, upright and faithful and never open to bribes — and when they had been thus worked over they were given his endorsement, except when it pleased him to make some alteration.

5

Of course, if necessity demanded it, he would give his attention to public business even before dawn and continue at it up to an advanced hour, never growing weary or giving up in irritation or anger, but always with a serene brow and cheerful in every task.

6

He was, indeed, a man, of great sagacity, and he could not be tricked, and whoever tried to impose on him by some sharp practice was always found out and punished.


30

1

After the public business, whether military or civil, he would give even greater attention to reading Greek, usually Plato's Republic.

2

When he read Latin, there was nothing that he would read in preference to Cicero on Duties and on the State, but sometimes he would read speeches or the poets, among them Serenus Sammonicus, whom he himself had known and loved, and also Horace.

3

He would read, too, the life of Alexander the Great, whom he particularly sought to resemble, although he always denounced his drunkenness and his brutality toward his friends, in spite of the fact that these vices were denied by trustworthy writers, whom Alexander in most cases believed.

4

After his reading he would devote himself to exercise, either ball-playing or running or some mild wrestling. Then, after having himself rubbed with oil, he would bathe, but rarely, if ever, in a hot bath, for he always used a swimming-pool, remaining in it about an hour; and before he took any food he would drink about a pint of cold water from the Claudian aqueduct.

5

On coming out of the bath he would take a quantity of milk and bread, some eggs, and then a drink of mead. Thus refreshed, he would sometimes proceed to luncheon, sometimes put off eating until the evening meal, but more frequently he took luncheon.

6

And he often partook of Hadrian's tetrapharmacum, which Marius Maximus describes in his work on the life of Hadrian.

31

1

The afternoon hours he always devoted to signing and reading letters. Meanwhile, the heads of the bureaus of the Imperial Correspondence, the Petitions, and the Memoranda would always stand beside him, or occasionally, if unable to stand on account of ill-health, they would be seated, while the secretaries and those who administered the particular bureau re‑read everything to him; then he would add with his own hand whatever was to be added, but in conformity with the opinion of the man who was regarded as the most expert.

2

After attending to the letters, he would receive his friends, all of them at once, and speak with all equally, and he never received anyone alone except the prefect of the guard, Ulpian that is, who, because he was so pre‑eminently just, had always been his assistant on the bench.

3

Moreover, whenever he sent for anyone for a consultation, he would give orders to summon Ulpian also.

4

He used to call Vergil the Plato of poets and he kept his portrait, together with a likeness of Cicero, in his second sanctuary of the Lares, where he also had portraits of Achilles and the great heroes.

5

But Alexander the Great he enshrined in his greater sanctuary along with the most righteous men and the deified emperors.


32

1

He never showed harshness to any of his friends or companions, or, for that matter, to any of the heads of the bureaus or the chiefs of staff.

2

Indeed, he would always refer their cases to the prefects of the guard, declaring that if any one deserved harsh treatment from the emperor, he ought to be condemned and not dismissed.

3

Whenever he appointed a successor to anyone in the man's own presence, he would always add, "The State is grateful to you"; he would reward him, too, in order that after his retirement he might live respectably and in keeping with his rank, presenting him with such gifts as lands, cattle, horses, grain, tools, the cost of building a house, marbles for beautifying it, and the labour which the character of the construction demanded.

4

He rarely distributed gold or silver except to the soldiers, maintaining that it was a sin for the steward of the state to use for his own pleasures or those of his friends that which was contributed by the people of the provinces.

5

But to the city of Rome he remitted the tax on merchants and the crown-gold.


33

1

He appointed fourteen overseers of the city of Rome, chosen from among the ex-consuls, and these he commanded to hear city-cases in conjunction with the prefect of the city,

2

giving orders that all of them, or at least a majority, should be present whenever the records were made. He also formed guilds of all the wine-dealers, the green-grocers, the boot-makers, and in short, of all the trades, and he granted them advocates chosen from their own numbers and designated the judge to whose jurisdiction each should belong.

3

To actors he never presented either gold or silver, and rarely money. He did away with the costly garments which Elagabalus had provided, and he dressed the soldiers who are called the Paraders, in bright uniforms, not costly, indeed, but elegant. Nor did he ever spend much for their standards or for the royal outfit of gold and silk, declaring that the imperial power was based, not on outward show, but on valour.

4

For his own use he re‑introduced the rough cloaks worn by Severus and tunics without the purple stripe and those with long sleeves and purple ones of small size.


34

1

Moreover, his banquets were utterly devoid of gold plate, and his goblets were always moderate in size though elegant. And his service of plate never exceeded the weight of two hundred pounds of silver.

2

All the dwarfs, both male and female, fools, catamites who had good voices, all kinds of entertainers at table, and actors of pantomimes he made public property; those, however, who were not of any use were assigned, each to a different town, for support, in order that no one town might be burdened by a new kind of beggars.

3

The eunuchs, whom Elagabalus had had in his base councils and had promoted, he presented to his friends, adding a statement to the effect that if they did not return to honest ways, it should be lawful to put them to death without authority from the courts.

4

Women of ill repute, of whom he arrested an enormous number, he ordered to become public prostitutes, and he deported all catamites, some of them, with whom that scourge had carried on a most pernicious intimacy, being drowned by shipwreck.

5

None of his servants ever wore a garment ornamented with gold, not even at a public banquet.

6

When he dined with the members of his household, he would invite Ulpian or some other man of learning, in order to have conversation of a literary character, for this, he used to say, refreshed and nourished him.

7

When he dined in private he would even keep a book on the table and read, usually Greek; Latin poets, however, he used to read also.

8

His state-dinners were conducted with the same simplicity as his private ones, except that the number of covers and the crowd of guests was greatly increased, though this was always displeasing to him, and he would say that he was feeding in a theatre or a circus.


35

1

He heard orators and poets with pleasure — not, indeed, when they made laudatory addresses to himself, which, following the example of Pescennius Niger, he considered a foolish custom, but when they recited speeches or the deeds of ancient men of eminence — and with still greater pleasure, when they related the praises of Alexander the Great or of the better emperors of the past, or of the great men of the city of Rome.

2

Moreover, he often resorted to the Athenaeum to hear both Greek and Latin rhetoricians and poets,

3

and he would listen to the orators of the Forum, as they read aloud the pleas which they had already delivered before himself or the city-prefects.

4

And he used to preside at contests, particularly at the Hercules-contest, which was held in honour of Alexander the Great.

5

There were certain men that he always refused to see alone in the afternoon or, for that matter, in the morning hours, because he found out that they had said many things about him falsely, and chief among them was Verconius Turinus.

6

For Turinus had been treated by him as an intimate friend, and all the while he had sold favours under false pretences, with the result that he brought Alexander's rule into disrepute, for he made the Emperor seem a mere fool whom he, Turinus, had completely in his power and could persuade to do anything; in this way he made all believe that the Emperor did everything at his beck and call.


36

1

He was finally caught, however, by the following trick: A certain man was deputed to present a petition to the Emperor publicly, but secretly to ask Turinus, as it were for protection, namely, that he would privately plead with Alexander in his behalf.

2

All this was done, and Turinus promised him his support and later told him that he had said certain things to the Emperor (whereas in reality he had said nothing at all), and that it now depended on him alone whether or not the request would be granted; he then offered a favourable decision in return for money. And when Alexander ordered the petitioner to be summoned for a second hearing, Turinus, though apparently occupied in doing something else, signalled to the man by nodding his head, but said nothing to him in the room; then his petition was granted, and Turinus, in return for a favour sold under false pretences, received a huge reward from the successful petitioner. Thereupon Alexander ordered him to be indicted, and when all the charges had been proved by witnesses, of whom some were present and saw what Turinus had received and others heard what he had promised, he issued instructions to bind him to a stake in the Forum Transitorium. Then he ordered a fire of straw and wet logs to be made and had him suffocated by the smoke, and all the while a herald cried aloud, "The seller of smoke is punished by smoke."

3

And in order that it might not be thought that he was too cruel in thus punishing one single offence, he made a careful investigation before sentencing Turinus, and found that when selling a decision in a law-suit he had often taken money from both parties, and that he had also accepted bribes from all who had obtained appointments to commands or provinces.


37

1

He used to attend the public spectacles, but he was very niggardly in giving presents, saying that the actors and wild-beast hunters and chariot-drivers should be treated as if they were our slaves, or huntsmen, or grooms, or ministers to our pleasure.

2

His banquets were neither sumptuous nor yet too frugal, but always characterized by the greatest good-taste. None but white napkins were used, though they often had a scarlet stripe; but they were never embroidered in gold, though these had been introduced by Elagabalus, and even before his time, they say, by Hadrian.

3

The daily provision for his table was as follows: thirty pints of wine for a whole day, thirty pounds of bread of the first quality, and fifty pounds of bread of the second quality used for giving away —

4

for he always gave away to his table-servants not only bread but also portions of greens or meat or vegetables, all with his own hand, playing the part of the father of a household with all the maturity of an old man.

5

The provision further included thirty pounds of various meats and two fowls.

6

On feast-days, however, a goose was served, and a pheasant on the Kalends of January and also during the Hilaria of the Great Mother, the Games of Apollo, the Feast of Jupiter, the Saturnalia, and other festivals of this kind, and sometimes even a brace was brought in besides the two fowls.

7

He had a hare every day and often game, but this he would share with his friends, chiefly those whom he knew to have none of their own.

8

For he never gave any of these gifts to the rich, though he was always ready to receive presents from them.

9

Every day he had four pints of mead without pepper and two with pepper. In short, lest it be too tedious to give an account of all that he ate, which has been done in great detail by Gargilius, a contemporary writer, everything was served to him in due measure and according to reason.

10

But he was inordinately fond of fruit and usually had it served to him as dessert; hence arose the witticism that Alexander had, not a second course, but a second meal.

11

He himself would consume the greatest amount of food and he would drink wine neither too sparingly nor yet in large quantities, but nevertheless in fair amounts.

12

He always drank pure cold water as well, but in summer he would add wine flavoured with essence of roses — the only one of Elagabalus's various kinds of flavourings that he retained.


38

1

Now — since mention has been made of hares — his custom of having a hare every day gave rise to a witticism in verse; for many say that those who have eaten a hare are beautiful for the next seven days, and this belief is also indicated in an epigram of Martial's directed at a woman named Gellia as follows:

2

"When you send me a hare, dear Gellia, you send me a message plain:

'For the next seven days, dear Marcus, a beautiful man you'll remain.'

If you tell me the truth, dear Gellia, if you send me a promise fair,

You have never yourself, dear Gellia, you have never eaten a hare."

3

These verses, however, Martial wrote to a woman who was ugly, but a poet of Alexander's time wrote to him the following:

4

"If you see our king is fair, Fair the child of Syrian race, 'Tis the hunt and meals of hare Give him everlasting grace."

5

And when one of his friends brought him these lines, he replied, it is said, in Greek verses to the following effect:

6

"Since you think your king is fair, Fool, by vulgar stories taught, I'm not angry — if you're right. But I wish you'd eat a hare And remove your ugly thought; Cease to hate the fair with spite."


39

1

When he had with him friends of the military class he would observe a custom which Trajan had introduced, namely, that of drinking after the dessert as many as five goblets; he, however, would serve his friends one goblet only, to be drunk in honour of Alexander the Great, and it was a rather small one too, though it was always permissible to ask openly for a larger one.

2

In the enjoyment of love he was temperate, and he would have nothing to do with catamites, in fact, he even wished to have a law passed, as I have said before, doing away with them altogether.

3

He built a public store-house in each region of the city, and to this anyone who had no store-house of his own might take his property. He built a bath, too in every region which happened to have none,

4

and even today many of these are still called Alexander's.

5

And he also constructed magnificent dwellings and presented them to his friends, especially to the upright.

6

The taxes paid to the state were so reduced that those whose tax under Elagabalus had amounted to ten aurei now paid a third of an aureus, a thirtieth, that is, of their former tax.

7

Then for the first time half-aurei were minted, and also third-aurei, after the tax had been reduced to this amount; and Alexander declared that quarter-aurei too would be issued — for he could not issue a smaller coin.

8

And he did indeed coin these, but kept them in the mint, waiting to issue them until he could reduce the tax; however, when this proved impossible because of the needs of the state, he had them melted down and issued only third-aurei and solidi.

9

He also melted down the pieces of two, three, four, and ten aurei, and the coins of larger denominations even up to the value of a pound and of a hundred aurei — which had been introduced by Elagabalus — and so withdrew them from circulation.

10

The coins made therefrom were designated only by the name of the metal itself, for, as he himself said, it would result in the emperor's giving too generous largesses, if, when it were possible for him to bestow many pieces of smaller value, he should be compelled to bestow thirty or fifty or a hundred by giving the value of ten or more in a single piece.


40

1

He himself had very few silk garments, and he never wore one that was wholly silk or gave away one that was even partly silk. He envied no man his wealth.

2

He gave aid to the poor; and in the case of men who had held public office, when he saw that their poverty was genuine, and not simulated or due to extravagance, he would always help them with many useful gifts, such as lands, slaves, draught-animals, herds, and farm-implements.

3

He always kept his robes in his treasury for a year and then ordered them to be given away at once. Every garment that he gave away he inspected in person.

4

He would give away all his gold and silver, and very frequently too.

5

He would also give away equipment for the troops, such as leggings, trousers, and boots.

6

He would always insist most rigorously on having purple of the brightest hue, not for his own use but for that of matrons, in case they were able or eager to have it, and in any case with a view to having it put on sale; and even today that purple is still called Alexandrian, which is commonly spoken of as Probian merely because Aurelius Probus, the superintendent of the dye-works, invented this kind of dye.

7

He himself usually wore a scarlet cloak, but when in Rome and the cities of Italy he was always dressed in the toga.

8

On the other hand, he never assumed the bordered or the gold-embroidered toga except when consul, and then it was always the one which was brought out from the temple of Jupiter and assumed by all the other praetors and consuls.

9

He also assumed the bordered toga when he performed sacrifices, but then only as pontifex maximus, and not as emperor.

10

He was always eager to get good linen, without any purple in it, for he used to say, "If these garments are made of linen in order to prevent their being rough, what is the use of having purple in the linen?"

11

And as for inserting gold threads, he deemed it madness, since in addition to being rough they also made the garment stiff. He always wore bands on his legs, and he used white trousers, not scarlet ones, as had formerly been the custom.

41

1

All the jewels that he had he sold and the proceeds he deposited in the public treasury, saying that men had no need of jewels, and that the women of the royal household should be content with one hair-net, a pair of earrings, a necklace of pearls, a diadem to wear while sacrificing, a single cloak ornamented with gold, and one robe with an embroidered border, not to contain more than six ounces of gold.

2

In every way he exercised a censorship on the customs of his age quite in keeping with his own manner of life, for illustrious men followed his example and noble matrons that of his wife.

3

The palace-servants were so reduced in number that in each department there were no more than absolute necessity demanded; and the fullers, the tailors, the bakers, the cup-bearers, and all the court-servants were granted rations but not any official rank, as had been the practice of that scourge, and only single rations too, rarely double ones.

4

And since he never had more than two hundred pounds of silver-plate in his table service, and a correspondingly small number of servants, when he gave banquets he would borrow from his friends silver-plate, servants, and couch-covers — a custom still in vogue to‑day when the prefects give banquets in the emperor's absence.

5

He never had dramatic entertainments at his banquets, but his chief amusement consisted in having young dogs play with little pigs, or partridges fight with one another, or tiny little birds fly about to and fro.

6

He did have one kind of amusement in the Palace which gave him the greatest pleasure and afforded him relief from the cares of state;

7

for he arranged aviaries of pea-fowl, pheasants, hens, ducks, and partridges, and from these he derived great amusement, but most of all from his doves, of which he had, it is said, as many as twenty thousand. And in order that the food for these might not become a burden to the grain-supply, he had slaves to provide the necessary income, who maintained the doves on the proceeds of the eggs and the squabs and the young birds.


42

1

He frequently used the public baths in company with the populace, especially in summer, using both those built by himself and the older ones, and he would return to the Palace in his bathing-costume, retaining only this much of the emperor, namely, that he put on a scarlet cloak.

2

As runners he had none but slaves, for he said that a free-born man ought not to run except in a contest held in honour of a god; and he had none but slaves as cooks, bakers, fullers, and bath-keepers, buying more if there was any lack.

3

During his reign only one palace-physician received a salary, while all the others, of whom there were never more than six, received double or triple rations, one being of the finest kind, the others of different quality.

4

Whenever he advanced judicial officers he provided them, after the custom of the ancients (described also by Cicero), with silver and all needed equipment, providing a provincial governor with twenty pounds of silver, six she-mules, a pair of mules, a pair of horses, two garments for use in the forum, two for use at home, and one for the bath, one hundred aurei, one cook, one muleteer, and a concubine in the case of a man who had no wife and could not live without a woman. Of these, the mules and the horses, the muleteer and the cook were to be returned when the governor laid down his office; the rest, however, he might keep if he had governed well, but if ill, he must return them fourfold and also undergo the punishment imposed for embezzlement or extortion.


43

1

He enacted laws without number. He permitted every senator to use a carriage in the city and to have a coach ornamented with silver, thinking that it enhanced the dignity of Rome that these should be used by the senators of so great a city.

2

In appointing consuls, either regular or substitute, he always asked for the opinion of the senate; he reduced their expenses, furthermore, and arranged for the days of their entry into office in accordance with the ancient system.

3

He issued an order that a quaestor who was the nominee of the emperor should give games to the people at his own expense, but with the understanding that after the quaestorship he was to receive a praetorship and then govern a province;

4

ordinary quaestors, on the other hand, were authorized to pay for their games — which were less lavish — out of the revenues of the privy-purse. And it was his intention to have the games given at regular intervals throughout the whole year, in order that the people might have a spectacle every thirty days, but this plan, for some unknown reason, was never carried out.

5

Every seven days, when he was in the city, he went up to the Capitolium, and he visited the other temples frequently.

6

He also wished to build a temple to Christ and give him a place among the gods — a measure, which, they say, was also considered by Hadrian. For Hadrian ordered a temple without an image to be built in every city, and because these temples, built by him with this intention, so they say, are dedicated to no particular deity, they are called today merely Hadrian's temples.

7

Alexander, however, was prevented from carrying out this purpose, because those who examined the sacred victims ascertained that if he did, all men would become Christians and the other temples would of necessity be abandoned.


44

1

He was very kindly in his jests, agreeable in his conversation, and generous at his banquets, so much so, in fact, that anyone might ask for whatever he wished.

2

He was diligent in amassing gold, careful in keeping it, and zealous in procuring it, and he never put any one to death.

3

He did not like to be called a Syrian and asserted that his ancestors were Romans, and he had his family-tree depicted, showing that he was descended from the Metelli.

4

To rhetoricians, grammarians, physicians, soothsayers, astrologers, engineers, and architects he paid regular salaries and assigned lecture-rooms, and he ordered rations to be given to their pupils, provided these were sons of poor men and free-born.

5

Also in the provinces he granted many privileges to pleaders in the courts, and to some, whom he appointed to plead cases without remuneration, he even gave rations.

6

The laws governing literary contests he made more stringent, always observing them most scrupulously himself, and he frequently attended performances in the theatre.

7

He planned to repair the Theatre of Marcellus,

8

and in many cities, which had been rendered unsightly by earthquakes, he made an appropriation from the public revenues to pay for the restoration of both public and private buildings.

9

But to temples he never made donations of more than four or five pounds of silver, and of gold not even a mite or the thinnest leaf, and he was even heard to murmur a line of Persius Flaccus:

"What place has gold in sanctuaries?"


45

1

He conducted military expeditions, which I shall describe in their proper place. But first I will tell of his way of dealing with matters to be kept secret or announced publicly.

2

He always kept secret the plan for a campaign, but announced openly the length of each day's march; and he would even issue a proclamation two months beforehand, in which was written, "On such and such a day, and at such and such an hour, I shall depart from the city, and, if the gods so will, I shall tarry at the first halting-place." Then were listed in order all the halting-places, next the camping-stations, and next the places where provisions were to be found, for the whole length of the march as far as the boundaries of the barbarians' country.

3

From here on everything was kept secret and all took every precaution to keep the barbarians in ignorance of the plans of the Romans.

4

It is certain, moreover, that he never practised any deception in anything that he announced publicly, for he declared that he would not allow the palace-officials to sell his plans, as had been done under Elagabalus, when everything was sold by the eunuchs -

5

a class of men who desire that all the palace-affairs should be kept secret, solely in order that they alone may seem to have knowledge of them and thus possess the means of obtaining influence or money.

6

Now since we happen to have made mention of his practice of announcing his plans publicly — whenever Alexander desired to name any man governor of a province, or make him an officer in the army, or appoint him a procurator, that is to say, a revenue-officer, he always announced his name publicly and charged the people, in case anyone wished to bring an accusation against him, to prove it by irrefutable evidence, declaring that anyone who failed to prove his charge should suffer capital punishment.

7

For, he used to say, it was unjust that, when Christians and Jews observed this custom in announcing the names of those who were to be ordained priests, it should not be similarly observed in the case of governors of provinces, to whose keeping were committed the fortunes and lives of men.


46

1

Furthermore, the assistants of the governors were granted regular salaries, though he often said that only those men ought to be promoted who could carry on the administration of the state by their own efforts and did not need the aid of assistants, adding that soldiers had their own particular sphere, and scholars theirs, and that accordingly it was the duty of every man to do whatever he could.

2

Treasure-trove he always gave to the finders, and if these were numerous he would include among them the officials of his various departments.

3

He always remembered and wrote down the names of those to whom he had granted some favour, and if he knew that there was a man who had not asked for something, or at any rate not much, which would cause his expenses to increase, he would call him and say, "Why is it, that you do not ask for some present? Is it because you wish me to be your debtor? ask for something, then, that you may not, by remaining a private citizen, have cause to complain of me."

4

When he granted favours, moreover, he would grant those which would not damage his reputation, such as, for instance, the property of those who had suffered punishment, but never the gold or the silver or the jewels, for all these he deposited in the public treasury; or he would grant civil offices, but never military, or else those posts which had to do with the collection of the revenues.

5

His revenue-officers he would change frequently, and none held office for longer than a year; and even if the officers were upright, he detested them and referred to them as a necessary evil. And when he appointed governors of provinces, proconsuls, or legates, it was never as a favour but solely on the basis of his own judgment or that of the senate.


47

1

During his campaigns he made such careful provision for the soldiers that they were furnished with supplies at each halting-place and were never compelled to carry food for the usual period of seventeen days, except in the enemy's country. And even then he lightened their burdens by using mules and camels, saying that he was more concerned for the soldiers' welfare than for his own, for on them depended the safety of the state.

2

When any of the soldiers were ill he would visit them personally in their tents, even those of the lowest rank, and have them carried in carts and provided with every necessity;

3

and if by any chance they grew worse, he would quarter them on the most upright house-holders or highly esteemed matrons in the cities and the country-districts, paying back the expenses which they incurred, whether they recovered or died.


48

1

Once, when a certain Ovinius Camillus, a senator of ancient family but very pleasure-loving, made plans to rebel and seize the throne, and this was reported to Alexander and forthwith proved, he summoned him to the Palace and thanked him for voluntarily offering to assume the responsibility for the state, which had been imposed on many a good man against his will.

2

Then he proceeded to the senate and greeted as partner in the imperial power this trembling wretch now overcome with weakness at the realization of his guilt. Next, he conducted him to the Palace, invited him to a banquet, and presented him with the imperial insignia, of a better quality, even, than his own.

3

Later, when an expedition against the barbarians was announced, he urged him either to set forth on his own responsibility, did he so desire, or to proceed in company with himself.

4

And since he himself travelled on foot, he invited Camillus to share his labours, but when the man fell behind after five miles, he bade him ride a horse, and again, when after two days' journey he was tired out by riding, he had him put in a carriage.

5

And when Camillus refused even this, either through fear or in sincerity, and even resigned his power and made ready to die, Alexander sent him away, commending him to the soldiers, by whom he himself was singularly beloved, and bidding him go in safety to his country-estate.

6

Here he lived for a long time, but afterwards he was put to death by the Emperor's command, and, because he was a soldier, he was put to death by soldiers. The common crowd, I know, ascribes this incident, which I have just related, to Trajan, but Marius Maximus has not published it in his Life of Trajan, nor yet Fabius Marcellinus or Aurelius Verus or Statius Valens, all of whom have written accounts of Trajan's entire life.

7

On the other hand, Septimius and Acholius and Encolpius and his other biographers have related just such stories as this about Alexander,

8

and I have included this one here in order that no one may accept common rumour rather than real history, which at least will be found more authentic than the talk of the crowd.


49

1

The right of wearing the sword he would never allow to be sold, for he said: "It must inevitably happen that he who buys will also sell, and I will not tolerate traffickers in offices or men on whom, if they should plunder, I could not impose sentence. For I blush at the thought that a man who buys and sells should be able to inflict punishment."

2

The office of pontifex and also membership in the College of Fifteen and the augurship he bestowed by imperial mandate, but always on condition that the appointment be ratified by the senate.

3

Dexippus has related that Alexander married the daughter of a certain Macrinus and that he gave this man the name of Caesar;

4

moreover, that when Macrinus tried to kill him by treachery, Alexander, on detecting the plot, not only put Macrinus to death but also divorced his wife.

5

The same writer says also that Antoninus Elagabalus was the uncle of Alexander, and not the son of his mother's sister.

6

And when the Christians took possession of a certain place, which had previously been public property, and the keepers of an eating-house maintained that it belonged to them, Alexander rendered the decision that it was better for some sort of a god to be worshipped there than for the place to be handed to the keepers of an eating-house.


50

1

And so, after showing himself such a great and good emperor at home and abroad, he embarked upon a campaign against the Parthians; and this he conducted with such discipline and amid such respect, that you would have said that senators, not soldiers, were passing that way.

2

Wherever the legions directed their march, the tribunes were orderly, the centurions modest, and the soldiers courteous, and as for Alexander himself, because of these many great acts of consideration, the inhabitants of the provinces looked up to him as to a god.

3

And the soldiers too loved their youthful emperor like a brother, or a son, or a father; for they were respectably clad, well shod, even to the point of elegance, excellently armed, and even provided with horses and suitable saddles and bridles, so that all who saw the army of Alexander immediately realized the power of Rome.

4

In short, he made every effort to appear worthy of his name and even to surpass the Macedonian king, and he used to say that there should be a great difference between a Roman and a Macedonian Alexander.

5

Finally, he provided himself with soldiers armed with silver shields and with golden, and also a phalanx of thirty thousand men, whom he ordered to be called phalangarii, and with these he won many victories in Persia. This phalanx, as a matter of fact, was formed from six legions, and was armed like the other troops, but after the Persian wars received higher pay.

51

1

Gifts presented to him by kings he would always dedicate in a temple, but the jewels that were given to him he sold, maintaining that jewels were for women and that they should not be given to a soldier or be worn by a man.

2

And when one of his legates presented to the Emperor's wife through Alexander himself two pearls of great weight and uncommon size, he ordered them to be sold.

3

But when no offer could be found, fearing that a bad example might be set by the queen, were she to wear jewels too costly to find a buyer, he dedicated them to Venus for earrings.

4

He always treated Ulpian as his guardian — a fact which called forth, first the opposition of his mother, but, later, her gratitude — and he frequently protected him from the soldiers' ill‑will by sheltering him under his own purple robe. In fact, it was because he ruled chiefly in accordance with Ulpian's advice that he was so excellent an emperor.

5

When in the field or on a campaign he lunched and dined in an open tent and ate the soldiers' ordinary food in the sight of all and greatly to their pleasure; and he used to go about to all the tents and never permitted anyone to be absent from the colours.

6

Moreover, if any man turned aside from the road into someone's private property, he was punished in the Emperor's presence according to the character of his rank, either by the club or by the rod or by condemnation to death, or, if his rank placed him above all these penalties, by the sternest sort of a rebuke, the Emperor saying, "Do you desire this to be done to your land which you are doing to another's?"

7

He used often to exclaim what he had heard from someone, either a Jew or a Christian, and always remembered, and he also had it announced by a herald whenever he was disciplining anyone,

8

"What you do not wish that a man should do to you, do not do to him." And so highly did he value this sentiment that he had it written up in the Palace and in public buildings.


52

1

Once, on learning that a soldier had maltreated an old woman, he dismissed the man from the service and gave him to the woman as a slave, in order that he might support her, for he was a waggon-maker. And when the soldiers grumbled at this action, he persuaded them all to submit quietly and actually frightened them.

2

His rule, though harsh and stern, was called bloodless for the reason that he never put a senator to death — or so Herodian, a Greek writer, declares in his history of his own times.

3

Moreover, so stern was he toward the soldiers that frequently he discharged entire legions, addressing the men as "Citizens" instead of "Soldiers"; and he never felt any fear of his troops, for it could not be said as a criticism of his character that his tribunes or generals ever took tithes out of the soldiers' pay, his motto being: "A soldier is not to be feared if he is clothed and armed and shod, and has a full stomach and something in his money-belt." And this was because poverty in a soldier drove him, when in arms, to every desperate deed.

4

Last of all, he did not permit the tribunes and generals to use soldiers as their servants, and he gave orders that four soldiers should walk in front of a tribune, six in front of a general, and ten in front of a legate, and that they should take their men into their quarters.


53

1

Now in order to show his strictness I have thought it right to insert one military harangue, which reveals his methods of dealing with the troops.

2

After his arrival in Antioch the soldiers began to use their leisure in the women's baths and the other pleasures, but when Alexander learned of it he ordered all who did so to be arrested and thrown into chains.

3

When this was made known, a mutiny was attempted by that legion whose members were put in chains.

4

Thereupon, after bringing all those who had been thrown into chains to the tribunal, he mounted the platform, and, with the soldiers standing about him, and that too in arms, he began as follows:

5

"Fellow-soldiers, if, in spite of all, such acts as have been committed by your comrades are to you displeasing, the discipline of our ancestors still governs the state, and if this is weakened, we shall lose both the name and empire of the Romans.

6

For never shall such things be done in my reign which were but recently done under that filthy monster.

7

Soldiers of Rome, your companions, my comrades and fellow-soldiers, are whoring and drinking and bathing and, indeed, conducting themselves in the manner of the Greeks. Shall I tolerate this longer? Shall I not deliver them over to capital punishment?"

8

Thereupon an uproar arose. And again he spoke: "Will you not silence that shouting, needed indeed against the foe in battle but not against your emperor?

9

Of a certainty, your drill-masters have taught you to use this against Sarmatians, and Germans, and Persians, but not against him who gives you rations presented by the men of the provinces, and who gives you clothing and pay.

10

Therefore cease from this fierce shouting, needed only on the battle-field and in war, lest I discharge you all today with one speech and with a single word, calling you "Citizens." But I know not whether I should even call you Citizens;

11

for you are not worthy to be members of the populace of Rome, if you do not observe Rome's laws."


54

1

And when they clamoured still more loudly and even threatened him with their swords, he continued: "Put down your hands, which, if you are brave men, you should raise against the foe, for such things do not frighten me.

2

For if you slay me, who am but one man, the state and the senate and the Roman people will not lack someone to take vengeance for me upon you."

3

And when they clamoured none the less at this, he shouted, "Citizens, withdraw, and lay down your arms."

4

Then in a most marvellous fashion they laid down their arms and also their military coats, and all withdrew, not to the camp, but to various lodgings.

5

And on that occasion, particularly, it was seen how much could be accomplished by his strictness and discipline.

6

Finally, his attendants and those who stood about his person carried the standards back to the camp, and the populace gathering up the arms bore them to the Palace.

7

However, thirty days afterwards, before he set out on the campaign against the Persians, he was prevailed upon to restore the discharged legion to its former status; and it was chiefly through its prowess in the field that he won the victory. Nevertheless, he inflicted capital punishment on its tribunes because it was through their negligence that the soldiers had revelled at Daphne or else with their connivance that the troops had mutinied.


55

1

And so, having set out from there against the Persians with a great array, he defeated Artaxerxes, a most powerful king. In this battle he himself commanded the flanks, urged on the soldiers, exposed himself constantly to missiles, performed many brave deeds with his own hand, and by his words encouraged individual soldiers to praiseworthy actions.

2

At last he routed and put to flight this great king, who had come to the war with seven hundred elephants, eighteen hundred scythed chariots, and many thousand horsemen. Thereupon he immediately returned to Antioch and presented to his troops the booty taken from the Persians, commanding the tribunes and generals and even the soldiers to keep for themselves the plunder they had seized in the country.

3

Then for the first time Romans had Persian slaves, but because the kings of the Persians deem it a disgrace that any of their subjects should serve anyone as slaves, ransoms were offered, and these Alexander accepted and then returned the men, either giving the ransom-money to those who had taken the slaves captive, or depositing it in the public treasury.


56

1

After this, returning to Rome, he conducted a most splendid triumph and then first of all addressed the senate in the following speech:

2

From the transactions of the senate for the seventh day before the Kalends of October: "Conscript Fathers, we have conquered the Persians. There is no need of lengthy rhetoric; you should know, however, this much, namely, what their arms were, and what their array.

3

First of all, there were seven hundred elephants provided with turrets and archers and great loads of arrows. Of these we captured thirty, we have left two hundred slain upon the field, and we have led eighteen in triumph.

4

Moreover, there were scythed chariots, one thousand eight hundred in number. Of these we could have presented to your eyes two hundred, of which the horses have been slain, but since they could easily be counterfeited we have refrained from so doing.

5

One hundred and twenty thousand of their cavalry we have routed, ten thousand of their horsemen clad in full mail, whom they call cuirassiers, we have slain in battle, and with their armour we have armed our own men. We have captured many of the Persians and have sold them into slavery,

6

and we have re‑conquered the lands which lie between the rivers, those of Mesopotamia I mean, abandoned by that filthy monster.

7

Artaxerxes, the most powerful of kings, in fact as well as in name, we have routed and driven from the field, so that the land of the Persians saw him in full flight, and where once our ensigns were led away in triumph, there the king himself fled apace leaving his own standards.

8

These are our achievements, Conscript Fathers, and there is no need of rhetoric. Our soldiers have come back enriched, and in victory no one remembers his hardships.

9

It is now your part to decree a general thanksgiving, that we may not seem to the gods to be ungrateful." Then followed the acclamations of the senate: "Alexander Augustus, may the gods keep you! Parthicus in truth, Persicus in truth. We behold your trophies, we behold your victories too.

10

Hail to the youthful Emperor, the Father of his Country, the Pontifex Maximus! Through you we foresee victory on every hand. He conquers who can rule his soldiers. Rich is the senate, rich the soldiers and rich the Roman people!


57

1

Thereupon he dismissed the senate and went up to the Capitolium, and then, after offering sacrifices and dedicating the tunics of the Persians in the temple, he delivered the following address: "Fellow-citizens, we have conquered the Persians. We have brought back the soldiers laden with riches. To you we promise a largess, and to‑morrow we will give games in the Circus in celebration of our victory over the Persians."

2

All this we have found both in the annals and in many writers. Some assert, however, that he was betrayed by one of his slaves and did not conquer the king at all, but, on the contrary, was forced to flee in order to escape being conquered.

3

But those who have read most of the writers are sure that this assertion is contrary to the general belief. It is also stated that he lost his army through hunger, cold, and disease, and this is the version given by Herodian, but contrary to the belief of the majority.

4

After this, with the greatest glory and accompanied by the senate, the equestrian order, and the whole populace, with the women and children, particularly the wives of the soldiers, crowding about him on every side, he went up on foot to the Palace, while behind him four elephants drew his triumphal chariot.

5

And the populace kept lifting him up in their arms, and for four hours they scarcely permitted him to put his foot to the ground, while on all sides they kept shouting out, "Secure is Rome, secure is the commonwealth, for secure is Alexander."

6

On the following day he gave games in the Circus and spectacles on the stage, and immediately thereafter he presented a largess to the Roman people.

7

And he founded an order of girls and boys, to be called Mamaeanae and Mamaeani, as Antoninus had founded the Faustinianae.


58

1

Other victories also were won — in Mauretania Tingitana by Furius Celsus, in Illyricum by Varius Macrinus, Alexander's kinsman, and in Armenia by Junius Palmatus, and from all these places laurelled letters were sent to Alexander. When these had been read, on different occasions, before the senate and the people and wished-for tidings had arrived from Isauria also, honorary cognomina taken from the names of all these lands were conferred on the Emperor.

2

Moreover, those who had won success in the administration of the state received the consular insignia, with the addition of priestly offices and grants of land for any who were poor and now burdened with age.

3

The captives taken from the various nations, if their childhood or youth permitted it, were given to the Emperor's friends, but those who were of royal blood or noble rank were enrolled for warfare, though not for any of great importance.

4

The lands taken from the enemy were presented to the leaders and soldiers of the frontier-armies, with the provision that they should continue to be theirs only if their heirs entered military service, for, he said, men serve with greater zeal if they are defending their own lands too.

5

He added to these lands, of course, both draught-animals and slaves, in order that they might be able to till what they had received, and that it might not come to pass that, through a lack of inhabitants or the old age of the owners, the lands bordering on the country of the barbarians should be left uninhabited, for this, he thought, would be most discreditable.


59

1

After this he was regarded with the greatest affection by both the populace and the senate, and when he set out for the war against the Germans, though all hoped for victory, they were unwilling to let him depart and escorted him on his way for a distance of a hundred or a hundred and fifty miles.

2

It was, indeed, a very grave matter both for the state and for himself that Gaul should be plundered by German inroads,

3

and his sense of humiliation was increased by the thought that now that the Parthians had been defeated a nation should still be hanging over the neck of the commonwealth, which, even under insignificant emperors, had seemed to be in a state of subjection.

4

Therefore he hastened against the enemy by long marches, and the soldiers, too, were eager. But on his arrival he found that there also the legions were ready to mutiny, and accordingly he ordered them to be disbanded.

5

The Gallic temper, however, which is rough and surly and frequently a source of danger to emperors, would not brook his excessive strictness, which seemed all the greater after Elagabalus.

6

And finally, while he was in quarters with a few men in Britain, or, according to some, in Gaul, in a village named Sicilia, some soldiers murdered him. This was not done in response to any general sentiment but rather as the act of an assassin, the ringleaders being men who had thriven on the gifts of Elagabalus and would not tolerate a stricter prince.

7

Many, indeed, relate that he was slain by some recruits despatched by Maximinus (to whom they had been assigned for their training), and many others give different accounts.

8

Nevertheless, it is generally agreed that those who killed him were soldiers, for they hurled many insults at him, speaking of him as a child and of his mother as greedy and covetous.


60

1

He ruled for thirteen years and nine days, and he lived for twenty-nine years, three months, and seven days.

2

He did everything in accordance with his mother's advice, and she was killed with him.

3

The omens portending his death were as follows: When he was praying for a blessing for his birthday the victim escaped, all covered with blood, and, as he was standing in the crowd dressed in the clothes of a consideration, it stained the white robe which he wore.

4

In the Palace in a certain city from which he was setting out to the war, an ancient laurel-tree of huge size suddenly fell at full length.

5

Also three fig-trees, which bear the kind of figs known as Alexandrian, fell suddenly before his tent-door, for they were close to the Emperor's quarters.

6

Furthermore, as he went to war a Druid prophetess cried out in the Gallic tongue, "Go, but do not hope for victory, and put no trust in your soldiers."

7

And when he mounted a tribunal in order to make a speech and say something of good omen, he began in this wise: "On the murder of the Emperor Elagabalus".

8

But it was regarded as a portent that when about to go to war he began an address to the troops with words of ill-omen.

61

1

All these portents, however, he looked upon with the profoundest contempt. And having set out for the war, he was slain in the aforementioned village in the following manner.

2

He had lunched, as it happened, in his usual way at a general meal, that is to say, in an open tent and on the same food that was used by the troops — for no other kind of food was found in the tent by the soldiers when they tore it to pieces.

3

And as he was resting after the meal, at about the seventh hour, one of the Germans, who was performing the duties of guard, came in while all were asleep;

4

the Emperor, however, who alone p303was awake at the moment, saw him and said, "What is it, comrade? Do you bring news of the enemy?"

5

But the fellow, terrified by his fears and having no hope that he could escape, seeing that he had burst into the Emperor's tent, went out to his comrades and urged them to kill their rigorous prince.

6

Whereupon a great number in arms quickly entered the tent, and after slaying all who, though unarmed, resisted, they stabbed the Emperor himself with many thrusts.

7

Some relate that nothing at all was said and that the soldiers merely cried out, "Go forth, depart," and thus slaughtered this excellent man.

8

But all the military array, which Maximinus afterwards led to Germany, was Alexander's, and it was a very powerful one, too, by reason of the soldiers from Armenia, Osroene, and Parthia, composed, as it was, of men of every race.


62

1

Alexander's contempt for death is clearly shown both by the intrepid spirit with which he always put down the soldiery, and also by the following incident.

2

When Thrasybulus the astrologer, with whom he was on the most friendly terms, told him that it was his destiny to fall by the sword of a barbarian, he first expressed his joy, thinking that he was fated to die in battle in a manner worthy of an emperor;

3

then, speaking at length he pointed out that all the noblest men had died a violent death, mentioning Alexander himself, whose name he bore, then Pompey, Caesar, Demosthenes, Cicero, and other men of note, none of whom had met with a peaceful end.

4

And such was his courage that he thought that he ought to be likened to the gods, were he to perish in battle.

5

But the result deceived his hopes; for he did, indeed, fall by the sword of a barbarian and by the hand of a barbarian guard, but it was not in battle, though during the course of a war.


63

1

His death was greatly lamented by the soldiers, even by those whom he had discharged, and they slew the men who had committed the murder.

2

But the Roman people and all the senate and all the inhabitants of the provinces never mourned anything with greater sorrow and bitterness of spirit; and at the same time the cruel necessity of fate seemed to be shown in the harshness and roughness of his successor Maximinus (natural enough in a soldier), on whom, together with his son, the imperial power was conferred after Alexander.

3

The senate raised him to the rank of the gods, and he was granted the honour of a cenotaph in Gaul and a magnificent tomb in Rome.

4

Moreover, a college of priests was appointed in his honour, called Alexandrian, and a feast-day, too, was decreed, called by his mother's name as well as by his, which even today is scrupulously observed at Rome on the anniversary of his birth.

5

The cause of his murder, so others maintain, was this, namely, that his mother wished to abandon the war against the Germans and return to the East in order to display her power there, and at this the soldiers grew angry.

6

But this is only a fiction of the friends of Maximinus, who did not wish to let it appear that the best of emperors had been slain by a friend in defiance of all law, both human and divine.


64

1

Up to this time the Roman Empire had been governed by princes who had reigns of considerable length, but after Alexander various men seized the power in rivalry with one another, of whom some reigned only six months, others for a year, and a number, again, for two or, at the most, three years, down to the time of those emperors, who extended the Empire to wider bounds — Aurelian, I mean, and his successors,

2

concerning whom, if life be granted me, I shall publish all I have learned.

3

The following charges were brought against Alexander: That he did not like to be regarded as a Syrian, that he was too fond of gold, that he was full of suspicions, that he invented many new taxes, that he wished to seem a second Alexander the Great, that he was too harsh toward the soldiers, and that he conducted all public business on his private responsibility.

4

There are many indeed, I know, who assert that he was given the name of Caesar, not by the senate, but by the soldiers. These writers, however, are wholly ignorant of the truth; and they say, besides, that he was not the cousin of Elagabalus.

5

But in order to follow my version they need only to read the historians of that time, particularly Acholius, who also wrote about Alexander's journeys.


65

1

You are wont to inquire, most mighty Constantine, why it was that a man who was a Syrian and an alien-born became so great an emperor, whereas so many of Roman stock and so many from other provinces proved to be evil, filthy, cruel, base, unjust, and lustful.

2

I might say in reply, following the opinion of many good men, that, in the first place, it is possible for a good prince to be produced by Nature, who is the one universal mother, and that, in the second, it was fear that made this man the best of emperors, because the worst had been slain;

3

but since I must lay the truth before you, I shall disclose the fruits of my reading to Your Clemency and Piety.

4

It is well known to Your Piety, since you have read it in the work of Marius Maximus, that the state in which the ruler is evil is happier and almost safer than the one in which he has evil friends; for, indeed, one evil man can be made better by many righteous, but in no way can many evil men be held in check by one man, however righteous he may be.

5

And this very thing was told even to Trajan by Homullus, who said that Domitian was, indeed, a most evil man but had righteous friends, whereas Trajan was held in greater hatred because he entrusted the state to men of evil ways, for it is better to endure one evil man than many.


66

1

But as for Alexander, to return to my theme, he was himself a most righteous man and followed the counsels of a righteous mother;

2

and, moreover, he had friends who were upright and revered, not spiteful, or thieving, or seditious, or crafty, or leagued together for evil, or haters of the righteous, or lustful, or cruel, or deceivers of their prince, or mockers, or desirous of hoodwinking him like a fool, but, on the other hand, upright, revered, temperate, pious, fond of their prince, men who neither mocked him themselves nor wished him to become an object of mockery to others, who sold nothing, who lied in nothing, who falsified nothing, and who never fell short of the expectations of their prince but were always devoted to him.

3

It must be added, furthermore, that he never had eunuchs in his councils or in official positions — these creatures alone cause the downfall of emperors, for they wish them to live in the manner of foreign nations or as the kings of the Persians, and keep them well removed from the people and from their friends, and they are go-betweens, often delivering messages other than the emperor's reply, hedging him about, and aiming, above all things, to keep knowledge from him. And since they are nothing but purchased chattels and slaves, how, pray, can they have knowledge of the right?

4

And indeed, this was Alexander's own opinion too; for he used to say, "I will not permit slaves purchased with money to sit in judgment on the lives of prefects and consuls and senators."


67

1

I know, O Prince, that it is perilous to say these words to an emperor who has been in subjection to such creatures, but now that, greatly to the welfare of the state, you have learned how much evil resides in these pests, and how they mislead rulers, you too keep them in their proper place, and never bid them wear a soldier's cloak but assign them only to the necessary duties of your household.

2

Now this too is a noteworthy thing, that never did Alexander grant an audience in the Palace to anyone except the prefect of the guard, that is Ulpian, and he never gave anyone an opportunity of selling false promises in his name or of telling him evil things about others, especially after the death of Turinus, who had often sold the promises of the Emperor as though he were a fool and a weakling.

3

And to this we must add that if Alexander discovered that his friends or his kinsmen were dishonest he always punished them, but if the length of their friendship or degree of kinship did not permit of their punishment, he dismissed them from his presence, saying, "Dearer to me than all of these is the commonwealth."


68

1

And that you may know what men were in his council, he had Fabius Sabinus, the son of the famous Sabinus and the Cato of his time; Domitius Ulpianus, the learned jurist; Aelius Gordianus, a relative of Gordian the Emperor and a famous man; Julius Paulus, the learned jurist; Claudius Venacus, a most distinguished orator; Catilius Severus, his own kinsman, the most learned of them all; Aelius Serenianus, the most highly revered of them all; Quintilius Marcellus, a more righteous man than whom is not found in history.

2

What wicked thing could be planned or executed by all these men and others like them, when they were leagued together for good?

3

In his early days, indeed, a band of evil men, which surrounded Alexander, had thrust these men aside, but when this company were slain or driven away by the young man's good sense, these upright friends held sway.

4

These are the men who made the Syrian a good emperor, as likewise evil friends caused native Romans to seem evil, even to posterity, for they burdened them with the weight of their own iniquities.