The Ancient Library

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of the Thundering Legion. Those who may desire to investigate this question will find the subject fully discussed in the correspondence between King and Moyle. (Moyle's Works, vol. ii. Lond. 1726.) There is an excellent summary of the whole argu­ment in Lardner's "Jewish and Heathen Testimo­nies" (chap, xv.), and many useful remarks are to be found in Milman's History of Christianity (chap, vii.), and in the Bishop of Lincoln's " Illustrations, &c. from Tertullian" (p. 105). An attempt has been made recently to restore the credit of the sup­posed miracle, in the essay by Mr. Newman, prefixed to a portion of Fleury's " Ecclesiastical History," published at Oxford in 1842.

Whatever opinion we may form upon the sub­ject of debate, we may feel certain of the fact, that the Romans were rescued from a very critical situation by a sudden storm, and gained an im­portant victory over their opponents. That they attributed their preservation to the direct interpo­sition of heaven is proved by the testimonies of the ancient historians, and also by the sculptures of the Antonine column, where a figure supposed to represent Jupiter Pluvius is seen sending down streams of water from his arms and head, which the Roman soldiers below catch in the hollow of their shields.

This success, and the circumstances by which it was accompanied, seem to have struck terror into the surrounding nations, who now tendered sub­mission or claimed protection. But the fruits were in a great measure lost, for the emperor was pre­vented from following up the advantage gained, in consequence of the alarm caused by unexpected disturbances which had broken out in the East, and had quickly assumed a very formidable aspect. Faustina had long watched with anxiety the de­clining health of her husband, and anticipating his speedy death, was filled with alarm lest, from the youth and incapacity of her son Commodus, the empire might pass away into other hands. She had, therefore, opened a correspondence with Avi-dius Cassius, who had gained great fame in the Parthian war commemorated above, who had sub­sequently suppressed a serious insurrection in Egypt, and had acted as supreme governor of the Eastern provinces after the departure of Lucius Verus. Her object was to persuade him to hold himself in readiness to aid her projects, and she offered him her hand and the throne as his rewards. While Cassius was meditating upon these propo­sals, he suddenly received intelligence that Marcus was dead, and forthwith, without waiting for a confirmation of the news, caused himself to be pro­claimed his successor. The falseness of the rumour soon became known, but deeming that his offence was beyond forgiveness, he determined to prose­cute the enterprise; within a short period he made himself master of all Asia within Mount Taurus, and resolved to maintain his pretensions by force. A report of these transactions was forthwith trans­mitted to Rome by M.Verus, the legate commanding in Cappadocia. Aurelius, who was still in Panno-nia, summoned his son to his presence in all haste, and bestowed on him the manly gown, intending to set out instantly for the seat of war. But in the midst of active preparations for a campaign Cassius was assassinated by two of his own officers, after having enjoyed a nominal sovereignty for three months and six days. His son soon after shared the same fate.- The conduct of Marcus throughout



the whole of this rebellion can scarcely fail to ex­cite the warmest admiration. In the mournful address delivered to his soldiers, he bitterly de­plores that he should be forced to engage in a con­test so revolting to his feelings as civil strife. His chief dread was that Cassius, from shame or re­morse, might put an end to his own life, or fall by the hand of some loyal subject—his fondest wish, that he might have an opportunity of granting a free pardon. Nor did this forgiving temper exhaust itself in words. When the head of the traitor was laid at his feet, he rejected with horror the bloody offering, and refused to admit the murderers to his presence. On repairing to the East, where his presence was thought necessary to restore tran­quillity and order, he displayed the greatest lenity towards those provinces which had acknowledged the usurper, and towards those senators and per­sons of distinction who were proved to have fa­voured his designs. Not one individual suffered death; few were punished in any shape, except such as had been guilty of other crimes ; and finally, to establish perfect confidence in all, he ordered the papers of Cassius to be destroyed with­out suffering them to be read. During this expe­dition, Faustina, who had accompanied her husband, died in a village among the defiles of Taurus. According to some, her end was caused by an at­tack of gout ; according to others, it was hastened by her own act, in order to escape the punishment which she feared would inevitably follow the dis­covery of her negotiations with Cassius. Her guilt in this matter is spoken of by Dion without any expression of doubt; is mentioned by Capitolinus as a report only, and positively denied by Vulcatius; but the arguments employed by the latter are of no weight.

After visiting Egypt, the emperor set out for Italy, touched at Athens on his homeward journey, reached Brundusium towards the end of the year 176, and celebrated a triumph along with Commo­dus, now consul elect, on the 23rd of December. Scarcely was this ceremony concluded, when fresh tumults arose upon the Danube, where the presence of the emperor was once more required. According­ly, after concluding somewhat earlier than he had intended the nuptials of. Commodus and Crispina, he quitted Rome along with his son, in the month of August (177), and hastened to Germany. During the two following years his operations were attended with the most prosperous results. The Marcomanni, the Hermanduri, the Sarmatae, and the Quadi, were repeatedly routed, their confederacy was broken up, and everything seemed to promise that they would at length be effectually crushed. But the shat­tered constitution of Marcus now sunk beneath the pressure of mental and bodily fatigue. He died in Pannonia, either at Vindobona (Vienna) or at Sir-mium, on the 17th of March, 180, in the 59th year of his age and the 20th of his reign. A strong suspicion prevailed that his death had been accelerated by the machinations of his son, who was accused of having tampered with the physi­cians, and persuaded them to administer poison.

The leading feature in the character of M. Aure­lius was his devotion to philosophy and literature. When only twelve years old he adopted the dress and practised the austerities of the Stoics, whose doctrines were imparted to him by the most cele­brated teachers of the day—Diognotus, Apollonius, and Junius Rusticus. He studied the principles

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