Page 0957

957

ROME-AGE OF THE ANTONINES.

Arrian, who composed the Periplus of the Euxine and Erythrean seas.

During the twenty-three years of his reign, Antoninus never left Italy. He

gave much attention to the work of education, not neglecting the girls and

the poor children of Rome, for whom he founded schools. The internal

improvement of the Empire was promoted in aspirit of commendable

liberality. At the city of Nimes, in Gaul, were constructed a splendid

amphitheater and an aqueduct, which still survive in ruins. The harbors and

roads, not only of Italy, but of the provinces, were improved and

multiplied. The arts of peace and humanity were substituted for the arts of

destruction and war.

At the age of seventy-five, Antoninus Pius died at Lorium, A. D. 161. He

had lived the life of a philosopher. The long exercise of almost unlimited

authority had wrought no change in his moral character. In him were

concentrated the best elements of paganism- a mixture of rational

indifference derived from the Stoics, and the idea of the supremacy of

human happiness gathered from the doctrines of Epicurus. He died, as he had

lived, in peace, and left to his guard as a watchword and motto the word

"Equanimity."

It will be remembered that, in accordance with the will of Hadrian,

Antoninus had adopted two heirs-Marcus Annius Verus and Lucius Verus. Pius,

however, had greatly discriminated in his treatment of the two princes. On

Marcus Annius he conferred his own name of Aurelius and his daughter in

marriage. On Verus, who was regarded not without good reason as a weakling

sprung from an incompetent ancestor, no public trusts or responsibilities

were imposed. But when Antoninus the Elder died, Marcus Aurelius, inspired

with sincere regard for his brother, made him his colleague and insisted

that the honors bestowed on himself by the Senate should be equally divided

with Verus. To the latter accordingly were given the high titles of

Augustus and Caesar; so that for the first time the throne of the Empire

was occupied by two Augusti of coequal authority; that is, so far as law

and edict could make unequals equal.

Meanwhile destiny had provided for the new reign insurrections and

rebellions. The British praefect, Statius Priscus, was proclaimed Imperator

by the people in that island. The Germanic Chatti made a furious incursion

into Gaul. The Moors made an expedition into Spain, and the Lusitanians

revolted. Affairs on the eastern frontier again assumed a threatening

aspect from the hostility of the Parthians. Verus was sent thither, but was

disastrously defeated. Afterwards, however, the fortune of war was

restored, and the contested territory recovered by the Romans. Ctesiphon

and Seleucia were taken by Avidius Cassius, and peace was concluded with

honor to the Empire.

The army of Verus then returned in triumph to Rome, but brought with it the

germs of some eastern malady, which broke out in the form of a pestilence

and desolated the city. Presently afterwards there came a scarcity of food

and Rome was menaced with famine. Then followed fires in divers places, and

then an earthquake shook the peninsula. Intelligence next came that an

insurrection had broken out on the Danube. What should be the cause of

these multiplied disasters prevalent and impending? Perhaps the gods of

ancient Rome were offended. Doubtless the progress which was making by the

new sect of Christians in undermining the old-time faith of the city had

provoked the displeasure of heaven. So thought Marcus Aurelius, who