Page 0962

962

UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.

degraded and disarmed them, and sent them a hundred miles from the city. A

new national guard of fifty thousand men was organized in place of the

praetorian body. Having thus made solid his support in Italy, Severus

advanced against Niger in the East. The latter was beaten partly by

stratagem and partly by force of arms, and pursued from the Hellespont into

Cilicia, where he was captured and slain. The year 194 was occupied with

the siege of Byzantium, which yielded at last to famine rather than the

Roman battering ram; and the triumph of Severus in the East was thus

completed. In the West he overthrew Albinus at Lugdunum, and crowned his

triumph by putting him to death. Returning to Rome, he set up his savage

winnowing fan in the Senate House, and forty members of the ancient body

wont to assemble there were executed on suspicion or proof of disloyalty.

The rest were glad to escape from the rough and conscienceless soldier who

had thus broken like a wild boar into the halls of the depraved city and

carried off the Imperial diadem on his bloody tusks.

At first Severus chose Plautianus as his minister of state, but he was soon

distrusted and deposed to make room for the celebrated lawyer, Papinian. To

the latter was entrusted the civil management of the state; while the

Emperor, not to be weaned from his old habits of warfare, sought

opportunity for the exercise of his faculties, first in Asia Minor, and

afterwards in Britain. In the latter country he penetrated the wilds of

Caledonia, and determined to conquer the entire island. He after- wards

decided, however, to make the northern limit of the Empire the line which

had been previously established by Hadrian. A second chain of defenses,

parallel with the earthworks already constructed, was drawn across the

country from the Tyne to the Solway firth. Having thus strengthened the

northern border of the Roman dominion, the Emperor began to look for

another field of operations, when he was taken sick and died in the camp at

Eburacum. When about to expire he gave to his attendants-acting after the

manner of his predecessors-the word Laboremus as a motto, an expression not

out of keeping with the activity and energy of his own character.

In determining the Imperial succession, a woman was again the most

important agent. The late Emperor had taken for his queen a certain Julia

Domna, who being Syrian by birth possessed the gift, or at least the

reputation, of magic. One might well suppose, judging from the character of

the two princes whom she bore to Severus, that her claims to be regarded as

one of the mistresses of the Black Art were not unfounded. The name of the

elder son, to which he himself added that of Antoninus, was Bassianus; but

the title by which he is almost universally known was the pseudonym of

Caracalla, or Spotted Jacket, being so named from the style of Gallic tunic

which he introduced into Rome. The younger brother was called Geta. Both of

them were taken by the father on his military campaigns, but neither had

any taste for the soldier life. They were vicious youths, even under the

savage surveillance of Severus. After the Emperor's death, they sped to

Rome, quarreling en route, camping apart and entering the city in