The Ancient Library

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rious other honours and privileges befitting his station. From this time forward he was the con­stant companion and adviser of the monarch, and the most perfect confidence subsisted between the son and his adopted father until the death of the latter, which happened on the 7th of March, 161.

The first act of the new ruler was the admission of Ceionius Commodus to a full participation in the sovereign power, and these emperors henceforward bore respectively the names of M. Aurelius Anto­ninus and L. Aurelius Verus. When the double adoption by Antoninus Pius took place, it was settled that the son of Aelius Caesar should be considered as the younger brother. Thus, on the coins struck before the death of Pius, M. Aurelius alone bears the appellation of Caesar, to him alone Pius committed the empire with his dying breath, and to him alone did the senate formally offer the vacant throne. Hence his conduct towards L. Verus was purely an act of grace. But the alliance pro­mised to prove advantageous both to the parties themselves, and also to the general interests of the state. Marcus was weak in constitution, and took more delight in philosophy and literary pursuits than in politics and war, while Lucius, young, active, and skilled in all manly exercises, was likely to be better fitted for the toils of a military life. His aptitude for such a career was soon put to the proof. The war, which had been long-threatening the east, at length burst forth. Verus, after being betrothed to Lucilla, the daughter of his colleague, was despatched in all haste to the Parthian frontier towards the end of 161, while M. Aurelius remained in the city to watch an irruption of the Catti into the Rhenish provinces and a threatened insurrection in Britain.

Vologeses III., who had been induced to aban­don a meditated attack upon Armenia by the re­monstrances of Antoninus Pius, thinking that a fitting season had now arrived for the execution of his long-cherished schemes, had destroyed a whole Roman legion quartered at Elegeia, and advancing at the head of a great army, had spread devasta­tion throughout Syria. Lucius having collected his troops, proceeded to Antioch, where he deter­mined to remain, and entrusted the command of his army to Cassius and others of his generals. Cassius compelled the Parthians to retreat, invaded Mesopotamia, plundered and burnt Seleuceia, razed to the ground the royal palace at Ctesiphon, and penetrated as far as Babylon ; while Statius Priscus, who was sent into Armenia, stormed Artaxata, and, rescuing the country from the usurper, rein­stated the lawful but dethroned monarch Soaemus. Vologeses was thus constrained to conclude an igno­minious peace, in virtue of which Mesopotamia was ceded to the Romans. These events took place in ] 62 and the three following years. In 166, Lucius returned home, and the two emperors celebrated jointly a magnificent triumph, assuming the titles of ArmeniacuS) Parthicus Maodmus^ and Medicus. But although this campaign had terminated so gloriously, little praise was due to the commander-in-chief. Twice he was unwillingly prevailed upon to advance as far as the Euphrates, and he made a journey to Ephesus (in 164) to meet his bride on her arrival from Italy; but with these exceptions he passed his winters at Laodiceia, and the rest of his time at Daphne or at Antioch, abandon­ing himself to gaming, drunkenness, and dissolute pleasures of every kind. All the achievements of


the war were performed by his legates, and all the general arrangements conducted by M. Aurelius at Rome.

A still heavier danger was now impending, which threatened to crush Italy itself. A combination had been formed among the numerous tribes, dwelling along the whole extent of the northern limits of the empire, from the sources of the Danube to the Illyrian border, including the Marcomanni, the Alani, the Jazyges, the Quadi, the Sarmatae, and many others. In addition to the danger from without, the city was hard pressed by numerous calamities from within. Inundations had destroy­ed many buildings and much property, among which were vast granaries with their contents, the poor were starving in consequence of the deficiency thus caused in the supplies of corn, and numbers were perishing by a fearful pestilence, said to have been brought from the east by the troops of Verus. So great was the panic, that it was resolved that both emperors should go forth to encounter the foe. Previous to their departure, in order to restore confidence to the populace, priests were summoned from all quarters, a multitude of expiatory sacri­fices were performed, many of them according to strange and foreign rites, and victims were offered to the gods with the most unsparing profusion.

The contest which had now commenced with the northern nations was continued with varying success during the whole life of M. Aurelius, whose head-quarters were generally fixed in Pannonia ; but the details preserved by the historians who treat of this period are so confused and so utterly destitute of all chronological arrangement, that it becomes impossible to draw up anything like a regular and well-connected narrative of the progress of the struggle. Medals are our only sure guide, and the information afforded by these is neces­sarily meagre and imperfect. It would appear that the barbarians, overawed by the extensive pre­parations of the Romans and by the presence of the two Augusti, submitted for a time and sued for peace, and that the brothers returned to Rome in the course of 168. They set out again, however, in 3 69, but before they reached the army, L. Verus was seized with apoplexy, and expired at Aetinum, in the territory of Veneti. Marcus hastened back to Rome, paid the last honours to the memory of his colleague, and returned to Germany towards the close of the year. He now prosecuted the war against the Marcomanni with great vigour, although from the ravages caused by the plague among the troops, he was forced to enrol gladiators, slaves, and exiles, and, from the exhausted state of the public treasury, was compelled to raise money by selling the precious jewels and furniture of the imperial palace. In consequence of the success which attended these extraordinary efforts, the legends Germanicus and Germania Subacta now appear upon the coins, while Parthicus, Armeniacus, and Medicus are dropped, as having more especi­ally appertained to L. Verus. Among the nume­rous engagements which took place at this epoch, a battle fought on the frozen Danube has been very graphically described by Dion Cassius (Ixxii. 7); but by far the most celebrated and important was the victory gained over the Quadi in 174, which having been attended by certain circum­stances believed to be supernatural, gave rise to the famous controversy among the historians of Chris­tianity upon what is commonly termed the Miracle

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