Open main menu
The Critical literature concerning the Augustan Histories
The Scope of this Book

The age of the Antonines is an age little understood amongst the present generation. The documents relating thereto are few in number, and for the most part the work of very second-rate scandal-mongers. Like the Senate of the time, these writers had so far lost their sense of personal responsibility that they were quite willing to record anything that their "God and Master" ordered. The pleasures and vices of the age were lurid and extravagant. The menace of official Christianity, with its destruction of literature and philosophy, was almost at the gates of the city. All which facts serve to render this most magnificent period of Roman history unreal and fantastic to men of our more practical and rationalistic age.

The reign of Elagabalus is not a record of great deeds. It shows no advance in science or in military conquest. Save in the realm of jurisprudence, it is not an age of great men, because these are born in the struggles of nations. It is not an age of poverty or distress. It is rather a record of enormous wealth and excessive prodigality, luxury and aestheticism, carried to their ultimate extreme, and sensuality in all the refinements of its Eastern habit. Such were the forces that swayed the minds of these eager, living men, made idle by force of circumstances.

It was a wonderful and a beautiful age, full of colour, full of the joy of living ; and yet, as we look back upon its enervating excitements, who can wonder at the greatness of the decline which followed the triumph of so much magnificence ? Rome was at the apex of her power ; the Empire was consolidated ; the temple of Janus was closed ; the Pax Romana reigned supreme, and with it order and government in the remotest corner of that vast dominion. What mattered the extravagances of a foolish boy to the merchants of Lyons or to the traders of Alexandria, so long as they were undisturbed and taxation was at a minimum ? What mattered the blatant outburst of a Semitic monotheism, when men's minds — amongst the superstitious — were already attuned to the kindred mysteries of Mithra and the spiritual chicanery of Isis ? The harm had been done both to reason and to ancient belief by the secret dissemination of other superstitions, whose effete neuroticism, whose enervating and softening influences had done almost more to ruin the glorious fighting strength of the Empire than all the luxury and effeminacy of the bygone world.

It was a pitiful exhibition, the powers of ignorance and mystery undermining the strength of knowledge and virility, till the barbarians, whom the very name of Rome had conquered and held entranced, overthrew a greatness which, in the age of reason, the world had found irresistible. It is pitiful, but it is true, and the record of merely a part will be found in the Augustan Histories.

The difficulties presented to the student of the Scriptores Historiae Augustae are manifold and ever increasing. Not the least of them lies in the variation of standard by which this collection has been judged, and in the diametrically opposing theories which eminent scholars have drawn from the same passages.

The criticism owes its origin to the confusions which are bound to exist in any series of lives covering a period of 167 years and purporting to be the work of several — though none of them contemporary — writers.

The Biographies which have survived are nominally the work of six authors, to wit, Aelius Spartianus, Julius Capitolinus, Vulcacius Gallicanus, Aelius Lampridius, Trebellius Pollio, and Flavius Vopiscus. The author of the Life of Elagabalus in this series is Aelius Lampridius, of whom personally nothing is known. Peter[1] postulates that he was not a plebeian, as he wrote at Constantine's bidding, and presumably, from the virulence of his attacks, with some ulterior object in view. This was probably an attack on the Imperial author of that species of Mithraic worship which Constantine desired to extirpate, as the most formidable opponent of his own new religion.

Lampridius dedicates his Life of Elagabalus to this Emperor, which at once shows us that at least 1OO years had passed since the events recorded had taken place, and calls for an inquiry into the sources of Lampridius' information. The text as it stands to - day is at times incomprehensible, largely through the efforts of scholars of the Bonus Accursius and Casaubon type,[2] while Dodwell in 1677 played his part in corrupting, according to his lights, what must always have been a document whose need of further mutilation was highly unnecessary. The first attempt at modern criticism of the texts began in 1838, when Becker[3] of Breslau endeavoured to reassign the various lives to their respective authors, without very much success. In 1842 Dirksen[4] of Leipzig attempted to ascertain the sources employed by the various Scriptores, and their use or misuse of the material to their hands. He founded his criticism mainly on the recorded speeches and messages of the Emperors, which, unfortunately for the theories then put forward, were discovered by Czwalina,[5] in 1870, to be largely spurious.

The next work of any importance was done by Richter[6] and Peter,[7] when the former tried to date the Scriptores themselves from internal evidence ; the latter threw light on the time when the actual lives were written, and, amongst others, assigns Lampridius' Life of Elagabalus to a period in or about the year a.d. 324. In 1865 the same author[8] placed the study of the Scriptores on a firmer basis altogether, by introducing the system of textual criticism as applied to the sources, both Latin and Greek, from which the writers had drawn their facts.

Amongst Latin sources the chief name mentioned was Marius Maximus, of whose works nothing now remains. He was Consul under Alexander Severus and a devoted servant to that Emperor, at whose direction he attempted to complete Suetonius - by a popular and scandal-mongering edition of recent events. Mueller,[9] in 1870, after a careful investigation of all the references to this author, concluded that his work was the compilation of a volume styled De vita imperatorum, which contained the lives of Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Marcus, Commodus, Pertinax, Julianus, Severus, Caracalla, and Elagabalus. That the last of these lives should have been written by the friend and servant of Elagabalus' murderers is in itself unfortunate, as one immediately suspects that some attempt will be made to justify the crime, or at any rate that veiled malignancy rather than a true historical portrait will be the result. It is easily discovered from the shortest perusal of the wealth of mere abuse which it contains that no veil was considered either necessary or expedient, and that if Lampridius drew his information of the Emperor Elagabalus from Maximus, as a sole source, his work was, historically speaking, as worthless a caricature as that with which Maximus had bolstered up Alexander's government. Mueller, therefore, propounded the theory that though Maximus was the main Latin source, other authors were used by the Scriptores in a supplemental way. In this theory he was supported by Ruebel, Dreinhoefer, and Plew,[10] who cite, amongst other names, that of Aelius Junius Cordus, an author who is quoted with considerable frequency throughout the lives. This theory of one main Latin source — Maximus — held ground until quite recently, when the work of Heer, Schulz, and Kornemann, as we shall see, put a somewhat different, if less satisfactory, complexion on the matter. It may be remarked, in passing, that Niehues,[11] in 1885, attributes the earliest life of Macrinus and his son Diadumenianus — amongst other Emperors whose period does not concern us in this present inquiry — to Cordus rather than Maximus, which may account for a certain amount of impartiality about Macrinus' life, there being no special end to serve either way.

The Greek sources used by the Scriptores are more easily fixed, for, though most of the authors have perished, the work of Herodian is preserved, and the abbreviation of Cassius Dio, which was made by Xiphilinus of Trebizond for ecclesiastical purposes, is still readable. It is perhaps necessary to state Haupt's[12] opinion that the Scriptores did not actually transcribe the Greek sources, and that these can only give one a certain idea as to how the writers used their materials. Unfortunately for the reign in question, neither of these two authors can be considered as unprejudiced authorities. Indeed, circumstances have conspired to obscure the history of Elagabalus at every point. Cassius Dio is by unanimous consent the best historian of the third century, infinitely superior to Maximus as a man of literary ability and historical insight ; he is not highly exciting, and has an annoying habit of mistaking sententious platitudes for speculative philosophy. His impartiality is certainly very questionable, and his obviously superstitious credulity notable. But these defects are easily overlooked by the student, because his work does embody a vast store of information on the workings of the Imperial system. In all probability he was absent from Rome during the reign of Elagabalus, since he tells us (79-7) that Macrinus appointed him Curator of Smyrna and Pergamum in the year 218, from which posts he was not removed by Elagabalus.[13] When next he appears it is as the friend and servant of Maesa, at the beginning of Alexander's reign. He was then — successively — twice Consul, Proconsul of Africa, Governor of Dalmatia and Pannonia Superior, and presumably died under Alexander at 80 years of age, as we have no work from him after that date. As servant of the dominant faction, Dio's history must have been compiled to support Maesa's action in causing the murder of Elagabalus, and to justify the succession of Alexander, when once the women had ' cleared the headstrong boy and his mother from their path. Dio advances his information as that of an eye-witness, and as such it was presumably derived from the same source as that of Maximus — so much so, that Giambelli[14] in 1881 tried to prove that Dio's main source for his history was Maximus throughout and none other.

The other Greek contemporary is Herodian, the facts of whose life are by no means certain. Kreutzer[15] thinks that he came to Rome about the beginning of the third century, and subsequently held some minor administrative posts in the government. He stands on a different plane from Dio, as he possessed very small qualifications as a historian. He narrates, it is true, salient features of court life and current foreign affairs, though he has small conception of their bearing and less regard for their chronology. In this matter it is only fair to remember that the ignorant emendations of Bonus Accursius and a tribe of mediaeval scholars may account for much that now looks so outrageous. As regards the sources from which Dio and Herodian took their facts, much has been written, though the attempts[16] made since 1881 to show that both used Maximus are at best poor and inconclusive. Mueller[17] in 1870 pointed out with some considerable weight that the similarities which exist between the parallel accounts found in Herodian and the Scriptores were probably due to the fact that both had used Maximus, This line of argument was developed by Giambelli and Plew[18] on the basis of a supposition that Herodian had been worked over before he was used by the Scriptores, thus endeavouring to account for the discrepancies between Herodian and Maximus, and supporting the Maximus-as-root-base theory of both authors. Boehme[19] in 1882 introduced the name of Dexippus as the probable intermediate writer, and pointed out that the references made by certain Scriptores to Herodian, under the name of Arrianus, are hard to understand if the scriptor had the correct name before him. Certain passages can however be shown to have been taken direct from Herodian, on account of which Peter[20] entirely rejected the Dexippus intermediary theory a few years later. In the main, however, the general authenticity of the sources, whether Greek or Latin, was accepted up to the year 1889, though one or two discoveries had been made which weakened their hold and prepared the way for the general attack.

The first was made by Czwalina[21] of Bonn in 1870, who declared that the documents and letters in the Life of Avidius Cassius were spurious ; and in 1880 Klebs[22] destroyed the authenticity of those at the end of Diadumenianus' Life. Things were more or less quiet until the year 1889, when Dessau[23] opened his attack on the general authenticity of the Scriptores' work, asserting from the strongest internal evidence, such as their mention of persons and things — in lives dedicated to Constantine as Emperor — which did not happen till after his death, that the lives were the work of a forger in the later part of the fourth century ; a man who had been stupid enough to give an appearance of antiquity to his work by the use of names and dedications borrowed from older sources, but not smart enough to avoid the inclusion of glaring anachronisms.

Mommsen[24] at once undertook to defend the authenticity of the collection, asking saliently why a forger of Theodosius' time should undertake to praise the extinct dynasty founded by Constantius. The very patchwork, he says, is enough to prove the collection no forgery. Again, the use of pre-Diocletian geographical names, such as those given to the legions, all date from a period prior to Diocletian. Mommsen then proceeds to his criticism, in the course of which he divides the lives into primary and secondary, which to his mind solved the problem, and on this basis he drew entirely different conclusions from the facts which Dessau had adduced as proofs of forgery. The progress of Mommsen's study forced him to admit what he had so entirely repudiated at first, that the lives do contain hints of a later period, all of which, he asserts, can be accounted for by the manner in which the collection took form. Mommsen's opinion, as finally stated, was that about A.D. 330 an editor collected the available material and then filled in the gaps with his own work. Again, at a later time a reviser retouched this whole collection and added the evidence of the latest period, which has caused all the trouble. By him also the work resembling Eutropius and Victor was inserted. It is not the clearest of statements, and had to be so modified, as it proceeded, that it certainly has not the weight attaching to it that others of Mommsen's works carry.

During the year 1890 two works appeared, the first by Seeck,[25] who attempted to assist Dessau, the other by Klebs,[26] who had accepted a modified Mommsen estimate of the authenticity of the Scriptores. Seeck began by pointing out that a work which was first heard of in the latter part of the fourth[27] century was not likely to arouse sufficient interest to induce any one to revise it during the earlier part of that century. He attacked the work attributed to Vopiscus, Pollio, and Spartianus in particular, pointing out, in the case of Vopiscus, that had he written under Constantine he would not have put him second in the dedication,[28] or, if Pollio had written in the third century, when the title Mater Castrorum was commonly given to the Empresses, he would never have spoken of it as a speciality in Victoria's case.[29] If Spartian wrote under Diocletian, it is obvious that he must have had a prevision of that Emperor's sudden change of plan as to the succession. Klebs[30] in the same year further modified Mommsen's position, and explained the similarities to Victor and Eutropius as due to the use of the same sources by these authors and by the Scriptores, and rejected the idea of a revision by a late hand on the ground that no one would be so foolish as to imitate the style of the original writers for the sake of inserting nonsense ; certainly not the most convincing of the arguments which might have been used by a man who presumably had at least heard the history of the Gospel additions. A later article (1892)[31] was more conclusive, as here he attempted to prove that no one forger could have adopted the variety of attitude towards both the Senate and Christianity which we find expressed in the various sections of the " lives," while the presence of geographical names and official titles, lost before the beginning of the fourth century, point to earlier authenticity, not later forgery.

Woelfflin[32] in 1891 supported Mommsen on textual grounds. He traces the differences of style to the fact that certain authors had used Suetonius, others Maximus, while others again had trusted to their own retentive memories, not altogether a safe historical criterion. He states that the traces of similarity running through the works are due certainly to a reviser, but that the reviser was Vopiscus,[33] which either puts Vopiscus at a much later date than had ever been done before, or resigns the idea of a late reviser in the Mommsen sense.

Dessau[34] in 1892 replied with a scathing attack on this same Vopiscus, from the point of view of his age and the impossibility of his having seen and heard all he claims to have done. Seeck[35] in 1894 published a second article supporting Dessau with six points culled from titles and names not known till after the reputed dates of the Scriptores. He now considers that plurality of authors, or forgers, as the case may be, is certain, and that they wrote, or forged, as Diocletian and Constantine gave command, using for their work many sources, including the Imperial Chronicle. But it is an inconclusive article.

In 1899 an American, Dr. Drake[36] of Michigan, published some studies in detail on the life of Caracalla, which tended to establish the genuineness of certain portions which had been thought spurious. Heer[37] of Leipzig followed in 1901 with a critical survey of the life of Commodus, dividing it into two parts, the first chronological, the second biographical, and came to the conclusion that, though the chronological part was trustworthy, the biography was derived from very poor sources, and was only in part contemporaneous. Schulz[38] in 1903 applied the same methods to the lives from Commodus to Caracalla, in 1904 to the life of Hadrian,[39] and in 1907 to the lives of the house of Antonine,[40] unfortunately leaving out Elagabalus.

Kornemann[41] in 1905 attempted to bring together the materials of the lives from Hadrian to Alexander Severus, much on the lines of Schulz's work. He points out that the characteristic note was to be found in the author's interest in the affairs of state, as opposed to those of war, and how Alexander Severus has been raised to his pinnacle of smug propriety on account of supposititious favours to the senatorial body, while extreme animus is betrayed towards the warlike Emperors or those who, like the paternal despots of the Antonine House, trusted in the army and only used the "slaves in togas" for ratifying any decree that they might think necessary, a mode of procedure in government to which that body had long been slavishly subservient. Kornemann goes on to suggest that this fondness for Alexander presupposes the writer's work having been published during that Caesar's reign, especially as no trace is found of his work later. Kornemann then invents a new name for our old friend Marius Maximus, and calls him, with some further show of scholarship, one Lollius Urbicus,[42] a theory which still only interests Kornemann. Heer[43] in 1901 had given him a certain support, however, in refusing to believe that any one could have credited Maximus with any part in the chronological side of the lives, and Schulz in his Life of Hadrian adopted the same view, assigning the references to Maximus to a later hand. It was Peter[44] who, in 1905, asked pertinently why Maximus should be ousted from the authorship of the chronological source in favour of an unknown contemporary, though he admitted, with some freedom, that many of the citations from Maximus stood in passages of questionable value, or seem to have been thrust into the text.

In 1899 Tropea[45] of Padua published a treatise on the general literature of the S.H.A., in which he shows that the aim of the collection was political, and in the interest of the reigning house; in consequence of which he postulates that it is either falsified in fact, or wholly fabricated in the sense that Czwalina had already suggested. Tropea was followed by his pupil Pasciucco,[46] who examined the life of Elagabalus in detail in 1905. The result of this examination was to show that Lampridius had not only failed to examine his sources of information, but had exhibited a singular lack of order and proportion in his imaginations. Pasciucco concluded with the illuminating remark that Lampridius' sources are either fabulous or of little value, and answer only to the political complexion which that writer had adopted.

In 1904 Lécrivain [47] published an admirable conservative presentation of the available material, which, with Schulz's work on the Imperial House of Antonine in 1907, leaves the textual criticism of the sources in a sufficiently nebulous condition to please the majority, at any rate for the time being.

In the light of the foregoing criticism and the almost universal conclusion, drawn by both parties, as to the obvious want of impartiality not only amongst the sources but also in the lives themselves, the scope of this work will limit itself to a psychological criticism of the life of Elagabalus, as contained in the Augustan Histories. These documents, as will be remembered from the foregoing summary, are a collection of heterogeneous and unenlightened compositions, to which Lampridius, by no means the ablest contributor, has added the life of the Syrian boy-emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. Lampridius exhibits to a striking degree the want of method and order, the vain repetitions and frequent contradictions, the lack of historical insight and love of petty detail which characterise the whole collection. This he shows to such a degree that it would be as obviously unfair to regard his biographical compilation on Elagabalus as historical fact, as the more than questionable "ten denzschriften," which were his sources of information; the perusal of which must have left the compiler with a distorted view of events, even had he started with a fair and unprejudiced mind. This certainly was not Lampridius' outlook, as is evinced by the obvious animus against his subject portrayed on every page both in his unsupported accusations and in his puerile fault-finding.

In all probability this series of lives was never intended to be more than a succession of scandal-loving biographies, designed to take the place of the improper little novels which used to be imported from Greece, but whose supply was falling short with the decadence of Greek literature.

In the result, the biographies of the Augustae Historiae Scriptores are for the most part an inartistic farrago of unordered trivialities, which modern criticism has shown to be late in date, and with little or no individual significance. Their whole value depends on their source, or sources, and these have been proved, at least biographically speaking, to have been only too often untrustworth). The Life of Elagabalus, as caricatured by the particular Scriptor, or forger, is not even an attempt to portray historical events in either their chronological or natural order; it makes no mention of the origin of the Emperor, his claims to the throne, his fight with Macrinus, nor yet of the facts of his subsequent government. It is merely one vast stream of personal abuse and ordures, directed against the memory of the great exponent of that monotheism which was the chief danger to Constantine's theories in a similar direction; while Lampridius' sources are vitiated by the fact that they are Imperial attempts to blacken the memory of a murdered Emperor, whose popularity with the masses made his murderer's position insecure on the throne of the world.

It may not be altogether fair to charge the young Alexander personally with the murder of Elagabalus, and even if one does, it is only right to remember that he claimed a certain justification for the deed.[48] Alexander affirmed that he had himself been in danger of death at his cousin's hand on more than one occasion. Undoubtedly, the true instigators of the murder were Mamaea, Alexander's mother, and Maesa, the common grandmother of the cousins. Both of these women saw power and authority passing from their hands, and could ill brook a second place in the direction of the government. By their machinations, bribery, and corruption, they had endeavoured already three times to suborn the Praetorian Guard. But the effort had failed. Sufficient men had always been wanting for the project, and only an unlucky chance threw the Emperor into the hands of those few on the day of his death. Alexander's complicity in this crime might have been overlooked, on account of his youth, had not his strenuous efforts to justify the deed called attention to his attitude, not of regret, but of exultation in the crime. This attitude is most clearly seen in the scandalous literary productions which alone disgrace the name of Elagabalus, all issued from the pens of Cassius Dio, Herodian, and Maximus, — or Lollius Urbicus, — all three servants and bedesmen of Alexander and his female relatives.

Surely if it had been possible to give proof of cruelty, tyranny, bloodthirstiness, deceit, or guile, the record of these deeds would have filled the pages of the paid traducers; but contemporaries, who loved Elagabalus too well for his generosity, charm, and beauty, would know better. The only course open to the writers, therefore, was to attack personal habits of which the outside world knew little and cared less, because they were habits that affected no one save the boy's familiars, who were perfectly free to depart if they objected to his manners or conversation.

As regards the later compilers of Imperial histories, mention must be made of Zosimus and Zonaras, the twelfth-century editors of Cassius Dio, who, however, add little to our knowledge. They are of a certain value because they omit many of the scandals before produced, while the same may be said for Aurelius Victor and the Breviarium of Eutropius.

The Church historians make little mention of the period; they were undisturbed by persecutions, and had no emperor or praefect to abuse. They were, in fact, so busy inventing the difficulty of the diphthong and developing Pauline theories on the doctrine and position of Christ, that they had but little time for the real facts of life and progress around them. Origen is a slight exception, but then his pride had been flattered by a summons to Court, where, Eusebius tells us, he discussed astronomical theology with the now visionary Julia Mamaea — who seems to have aped her aunt, Julia Pia, in these miatters. Origen's pride was further flattered by the dignity of a Praetorian escort on the journey to Antioch — he does not mention the return voyage — which was certainly a most astonishing honour, for which one would like to have other than sacerdotal confirmation.

Further literary authorities, such as Sextus Rufus, Orosius, John of Antioch, and Jordanis, though inferior in weight, have obviously got some of their information from sources other than those open to the Scriptores, and their statements may be accepted with reserve, unless they can be shown to be irrational and contrary to known facts.

When all is gathered in, the sum total of the recorded history, as Mr. Cotter Morison [49] says, is meagre to a degree. The investigation of the various isolated records in the light of what is known of the movements and tendencies of the age — combined with the psychology of the boy's character — is and must be the key to much that at first sight seems contradictory and obscure in the scandals reported — none of which, as Niebuhr has said, are capable of historical treatment with anything like an assurance of accuracy. In this part of the biography Lampridius himself is of considerable use. In the course of his vituperation he is continually letting fall allusions and observations revealing a character, instincts, and religion which he is quite incapable of comprehending, and can only malign with a vitriolic vehemence worthy of a better cause. His very vehemence is fortunate, since it has left the way open for psychology and science to proclaim the abuse, what we now know it to be, both malicious and untruthful.

The evidences from the jurisprudence of the reign are certainly unsatisfactory. Later codifications have left us with but few dated laws of a reign that stands in the golden age of Roman jurisprudence. Ulpian, Papinian, and Paul were not men to allow a break in the order of legal succession, and though Ulpian was presumably banished in connection with Alexander, it was not until within a few months of Elagabalus' death. Sufficient remains to show us that the Empire suffered no break in the perfect autonomy of jurisprudence, justice, and government, throughout a period which Forquet de Dome [50] has dignified under the pseudonym of the reign of military anarchy.

Cohen and Eckhel are of great importance in fixing, as nearly as possible, the chronology of the period, by their records of the medals and coins of the reign. The same may be said of the inscriptions which have escaped the vandalism of the Emperor's enemies. Duruy, in his great history, is unwilling to give the medals much biographical weight, comparing them to the governmental journals of all times, which give only the account of events as seen through official spectacles, and on which as little reliance can be placed as on the published bulletins of victories : witness the Parthian medal of Macrinus, the record of a great victory for the Roman troops over Artabanus ; the real fact being a colossal defeat followed by a peace, the latter purchased in a manner disgraceful to both the people and the arms of Rome.

Inscriptions are unfortunately few and far between, owing to the fury with which Alexander and his relatives pursued Elagabalus' memory. Undoubtedly it was no new thing to call upon the Senate to execrate the memory of a murdered rival. It was, in fact, one of that body's most important functions during the period under discussion. Rarely has the work been done so thoroughly and effectively, which says something for the zeal of Alexander and the money he spent in extirpating all reference to the memory of Elagabalus.

The works of Valsecchius [51] and Turre,[52] amongst seventeenth-century scholars, are illuminating on the subject of the length of Elagabalus' reign. Tristran's [53] attitude shows the slavishness of tradition ; certain of Saumaise's[54] emendations show the same tendency despite his usual impartiality ; in fact, all have accepted the tradition of wickedness without the least question as to its fons et origo. This work proposes to take the texts as they exist, and endeavour from their unwitting statements of the boy's psychology to convict them of untruth. From their unsupported charges of secret crimes, to show that real crimes were largely non-existent, and to throw the burden of all the ordures which have covered this Emperor's name on to the shoulders of his relations and murderers, to whom alone it was a vital object to destroy his fair renown before a world which loved him. That his world did love him, despite all, there are manifold traces. The prodigal Emperors always were adored ; so were their successors, the wicked popes, Man was too near to nature to be aware of shame, and infantile enough to like to be surprised. That was Elagabalus' scheme; he amused his people and surprised them at the same time.

The whole spirit of tolerance of the unusual makes it difficult for us to picture Rome. Modern ink has acquired Nero's blush; yet, however sensitive a writer may be, once Roman history is before him although he may violate it, may even give it a child, he never can make it immaculate. He may skip, indeed; and it is because he has skipped so often that you may fancy Augustus was immaculate. The rain of fire which fell on the cities that mirrored their towers in the Bitter Sea might just as well have fallen on him, on Virgil, on Caligula. Nero, Otho, Vitellius, Titus, or Domitian [55] why, then, condemn Elagabalus alone unheard, save for the fact that his relations hated him, and as far as we can see, hated him without a cause, or perhaps because he was growing too strong, and his unfortunate disease gave them their opportunity to gain that power after which the women were striving like grim death ?


  1. Die S.H.A. Sechs litterar-geschichtliche Untersuchingen, Leipzig, 1892.
  2. See Peter, Hist. Crit. cap. ii. ; Bernhardy, Proemii de S.H.A.
  3. Observationtum S.H.A., Breslau, 1838.
  4. Andeutungen zur Texteskritik, 1842.
  5. Czwalina, De epistularum auctorumque quae a S.H.A. proferuntur, Bonn, 1870.
  6. "Uber die S.H.A.," Rhein. Mus. vol. vii.
  7. Peter, Hist. Crit. S.H.A., Leipzig, 1860.
  8. Peter, Jahresbericht, 1865-82, "S.H.A."
  9. "Der Geschichtschreiber Marius Maximus," Untersuch. vol. iii., Leipzig, 1870.
  10. Ruebel, Ruebel, De fontibus quatuor priorum S.H.A., Bonn, 1872; Dreinhoefer, De fontibus et auctoribus vitarum quae feruntur Spartiani, etc., Halle, 1873; Plew, Marius Maximus, als directe und indirekte Quelle der S.H.A., 1878.
  11. De Aelio Cordo rerum Augustarum scriptore conivientatio, Muenster, 1885.
  12. Haupt, Philologus, xliv. 575.
  13. Dio, lxxx. 1.
  14. Gli Scrittori della Storia Augusta, 1881.
  15. De Herodiano rer. Rom. scriptore, 1881.
  16. Giambelli and Plew, opp. citt.
  17. op. cit. p. 82.
  18. Plew, Marius Maximus, als directe und indirekte Quelle der S.H.A., Strassburg, 1878.
  19. Boehme, Dexippi fragmenta, 1882, pp. 10ff.
  20. Die S.A.H., pp. 49, 102.
  21. De epistularum auctorumque quae a S.H.A. proferuntur, Bonn, 1870.
  22. "Die 'Vita' des Avidius Cassius," Rhein. Mus. vol. xliii., 1888.
  23. Dessau, "Uber Zeit und Personlichkeit der S.H.A.," Hermes, xxiv. 337-92, 1899.
  24. "Die S.H.A.," Hermes, xxv. 228-92.
  25. "Die Entstehungszeit der S.H.A.," Neue Jahrhuch Phil. vol. cxli.
  26. "Die Sammlung der S.H.A.," Rhein. Mus. vol. xlv.
  27. Seeck, op. cit.
  28. Carinus, xviii. 3.
  29. T. Pollio, Trig. Tyr. v. 3, etc.
  30. Klebs, " Die Sammlung der S.H.A.," Rhein. Mus., vol. xlv., 1890.
  31. Ibid. vol. xlvii.
  32. " Die S.H.A.," Sitzungsber. der philos.-philol. Klasse der Bayer. Akad., 1891.
  33. Op. cit. p. 479.
  34. "Über die S.H.A.," Hermes, vol. xxvii., 1892.
  35. "Zur Echtheitsfrage der S.H.A.," Rhein. Mus. vol. 49.
  36. "Studies in S.H.A.," Amer. Journ. Phil. vol. xx., Baltimore, 1899.
  37. Der historische Wert der Vita Commodi.
  38. Beiträge zur Kritik der Überlieferung der Zeit von Commudus zu Caracalla, 1903.
  39. Leben des Kaisers Hadrian, Leipzig.
  40. Kaiserhaus der Antonin, Leipzig.
  41. Kaiser Hadrian und der letzte grosse Historiker von Rom, 1905.
  42. Quoting Diadumenianus, ix. 2.
  43. Op. cit. pp. 145 ff.
  44. Berlin. phil. Wochenschriften, xxii. p. 489, xxv. p. 1471.
  45. Studi sugli S.H.A., Messina, 1899.
  46. Elagabalo, Feltre, 1905.
  47. Études sur hist. aug., 1904, Paris.
  48. Vide cap. vi. Vita Alex. Sev.
  49. Life of Gibbon.
  50. Les empereurs syriens.
  51. De M.A.A.E. trib. pot., Florence, 1711.
  52. Bishop of Adria.
  53. Tristran Sieur de St-Amant, Commentaires historiques, Paris, 1635.
  54. C. Saumaise, S.H.A. vi, Notae et emendations, Paris, 1620.
  55. Vide Suetonius, Lives of the Emperors.