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On this page: Niger – Nigfdius Ffgulus – Nigrfnus – Nileus

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NIGER.

prince. After intelligence had reached the East of the death of Commodus, of the shameful elevation and of the miserable end of Julianus, Pescennius was saluted emperor by his troops, A. d. 193. Nor were his prospects altogether hopeless. Severus, his former friend, was, indeed, in possession of the capital, but it was well known that he was re­garded with evil eyes by the senate, who, as well as the populace, had even before the death of Julianus openly declared their partiality to Niger. His chances of success, moreover, were perhaps rendered more complicated, but by no means dimi­nished, by the pretensions of Clodius Albinus, who, although he had for the time being, acknowledged the claims of Severus, and professed himself satis­fied with the second title of Caesar, was holding the armies of Gaul in hand, ready to take advan­tage of any opportunity which might offer. But Pescennius was no match for the vigorous activity of his rival. While still loitering listlessly in fan­cied security at Antioch, he received information that Severus was already marching to the East, at the head of a powerful force. Then, at length, he occupied Thrace and Northern Greece, threw strong garrisons into Byzantium and the most im­portant cities of Asia, fortified the defiles of Taurus, and, at the same time, attempted, but without suc­cess, to open negotiations by offering to divide the empire. The first battle was fought by his chief legate Aemilianus, who having encountered the general of Severus in the vicinity of Cyzicus was routed and slain. This engagement was followed by a second near Nicaea in Bithynia, in which Pescennius commanded in person with no better fortune ; the third encounter, which took place on the gulph of Issus near the Cilician gates, decided the war, for having been defeated after a bloody contest in which no less than 20,000 of his men are said to have fallen, and Antioch having soon after been captured, the pretender fled towards the Euphrates, was overtaken, brought back, and put to death A. d. 194. His wife, his sons, together with his whole family, shared the same fate, and his property was confiscated. His head, fixed upon a pole, was despatched to Byzantium, which still held out against the conqueror, and was ex­hibited to the besieged as a significant warning of what they might expect should they continue to offer an obstinate resistance.

Dion Cassius speaks of Niger as a person not very conspicuous for good or for evil, deserving neither much censure nor much praise. His most marked characteristics, both physical and -moral, were all of a military cast, and he is said to have set up Ca-millus,-Annibal, and Marius as his models. He was tall of stature, muscular in limb, but graceful withal, a proficient in athletic exercises, and gifted with a voice so loud and clear, that he could be heard distinctly at the distance of a mile. His cognomen of Niger is said to have been derived from the extreme swarthiness of his throat, although otherwise fair skinned and of ruddy complexion. Spartianus has preserved many anecdotes of the firmness with which he enforced the most rigid discipline upon all under his command, but he preserved his popularity by the strict impartiality which he displayed, and by the bright example of frugality, temperance, and hardy endurance of toil which he exhibited in his own person. We are told that he proposed to M. Aurelius and to Commodus many salutary regulations for the better govern-

NILEUS.

ment of the provinces, and he might undoubtedly have proved most useful to the state could he have remained satisfied with filling a subordinate sta­tion, but he was led astray by the counsels of Severus Aurelianus whose daughters were betrothed to his sons, and who persuaded him to persevere, against his own better judgment, in the attempt to mount the throne. The invectives of the emperor Severus, who represented him as a hypocrite and a debauchee, must be attributed to jealous rancour ; and, although he was but moderately versed in litera­ture, harsh in his address, and under the dominion of strong and vehement passions, he is well entitled to the comprehensive praise of having been a good soldier, a good officer, and good general. (Dion Cass. Ixxii. 8, Ixxiii. 13, 14, Ixxiv. 6—8 ; Spartian. Julian. 5, Sever. 6—9, Pescenn. Niger ; Aur. Vict. de Caes. 20, Epit. 20 ; Eutrop. viii. 10.) [W. R.]

COIN OF PESCENNIUS NIGER.

NIGER, TRE'BIUS, one of the companions of L. Lucullus, proconsul in Hispania Baetica, r. c. 150, wrote a work on natural historv which is re­ferred to by Pliny (H. N. ix. 25. s/41, 30. s. 48, xxxii. 2. s. 6).

NIGFDIUS FFGULUS. [FiGULUS.] NIGRINIA'NUS, a Roman Caesar or Augustus, known to us from medals only, and these struck after his death. They are very rare, but exist in all the three metals, bearing upon the obverse a head, either bare or radiated, with the legend divo nigriniano ; on the reverse, a funeral pyre, or an eagle, or an altar, or an eagle upon an altar, with the word consecratio. It has been conjectured that he was the son of Alexander, who assumed the purple in Africa, a. d. 311, and was soon after destroyed by Maxentius. There is not, however, a jot of evidence in favour of this hypothesis. (Eckhel, vol. vii. p. 520.) [W. R.]

COIN OP NIGRINIANUS.

NIGRFNUS, AVFDIUS, was proconsul in a province in the reign of Domitian, but his name does not occur in the Fasti. (Plin. Ep. x. 71. s. 74, 72. s. 75.)

NIGRFNUS, C. PETRO'NIUS PONTIUS, consul A. d. 37» the year in which the emperor Tiberius died. (Dion Cass. Iviii. 27 ; Suet. Tib. 73 ; Tac. Ann. vi. 45.)

NILEUS (Nei'Aeus), a Greek physician, whose name is sometimes written Nilus (NeiAos) and

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