Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Caracalla

Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Caracalla

From volume V of the work.
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CARACALLA, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (188219 A.D.), a Roman emperor, son of the Emperor Septimius Severus, was born at Lyons in 188. His original name, Bassianus, has been entirely dropped in favour, either of the nickname Caracalla (taken from the long hooded tunic which he wore, and introduced into the army), or of the imperial title of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, which he received at the time when his father declared himself the adopted son of M. Aurelius. Dion Cassius regularly calls him Tarantus, from his resemblance to a certain coarse and bloodthirsty gladiator. The heartless cruelty of his dis position was early displayed in an attempt to assassinate his father; and when, on his father's death, he mounted the throne (211) as colleague of his brother Geta, he did not shrink from murdering him in the presence of his mother, to seize the supreme power, nor from making himself secure by butchering 20,000 persons whom he suspected. It is said that he was, however, unable to rid himself of remorse, and that it was the torment of conscience which drove him to spend the rest of his life in the maddest acts of destruction and bloodshed. He visited Gaul, Germany, France, Egypt, and various parts of Asia, plundering everywhere, and committing the most atrocious crimes. In Alexandria he took vengeance for the sarcasms of the people by a general massacre; and he laid Mesopotamia waste because Artabanus, the Parthian king, refused to give him his daughter in marriage. In 217 he was killed at the instigation of Macrinus, who succeeded him. See Roman History.