Page 0952



Verus and Lucins Verus-the former the nephew of Aurelius and the latter a

son of that Verus who had recently died in Pannonia-were accordingly

adopted as a kind of grandsons of the Empire.

In A. D. 138 Hadrian died. His last years were passed in bodily affliction

which finally soured his temper and led to several acts of cruelty. It is

said that he abandoned himself to the quacks and star-doctors, in the vain

hope of finding relief; but, disappointed of all succor, he gave way to

despair and besought his friends to take his life. Nor is it certain

whether his decease was to be immediately attributed to natural or to

artificial causes. In his dying hour he addressed to his departing spirit

those celebrated verses which even the genius of Byron but half grasped in


"Ah , I gentle, fleeting, wavering sprite, Friend and associate of this

clay, To what unknown region borne Wilt thou now wing thy distant flight,

No more with wonted humor gay, But pallid, cheerless, and forlorn?"


Here we enter upon the full moon of what is known in Roman history as the

"Age of the Antonines"-the brightest of all the epochs from the founding to

the downfall of the city. Titus Aurelius acceded to the throne in his

fifty-second year, and entered upon a long and virtuous reign. He was a

scholar, a philosopher; as a man, refined in his tastes; as a ruler,

inclined to peace. It was from his library on the Palatine rather than from

the military council chamber that he ruled the vast Empire. His accession

was cordially received by the general public of Rome, though a meager

senatorial conspiracy against him was presently discovered and suppressed.

He was honored with the title of Pius, and perhaps deserved the epithet.

His administration was preeminently mild and benign. He refused the

stipend, which was customary on the coronation of a new monarch, and

limited the expenses of his household to things necessary rather than

luxurious. When the treasury of the state ran low, he replenished it by the

sale of articles collected in the basilica by the extravagance of preceding

rulers. He kept faith even with the dead, being careful to complete

according to promises made to Hadrian many of the unfinished buildings of


With the exception of slight tribal agitations on the borders of the Empire

the foreign relations of the government were undisturbed. On the line of

the Danube the public peace was constantly menaced by the Dacians and the

Alani, but the frontier was easily maintained. In Britain a revolt of the

Brigantes was suppressed by Lollius Urbicus, who completed the unfinished

wall of Agricola from the Forth to the Clyde, and many additional Roman

colonies were established in the country. Meanwhile the civil authority of

the Empire was stretched to the uttermost limits of the provinces, and the

voice of the Imperator was heard with respect even beyond the borders of

civilization. It was no unusual thing for the tribute sent in by barbarian

tribes, anxious to secure their own interests by establishing relations

with the Empire, to be returned by Antoninus rather than entangle himself

in unpleasant ways abroad. By the judgment of his own and after times the

Emperor ruled the state with an eye single to the maintenance of public

order, and to secure the happiness of the people. In literature the

energies of the human mind were not so much directed as in the Augustan Age

to great imaginative productions, but rather to certain useful essays

intended for the diffusion of knowledge among men. To this epoch belong the

valuable works of the geographer Ptolemy; of Antoninus himself, to whom is

attributed the celebrated Itinerary, and of