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ROME-AGE OF THE ANTONINES.

undisguised hostility to each other. The mother Julia, undertook to effect

a reconciliation between her darling scions, whereupon the elder in

vindication of his filial love, stabbed the younger in his mother's arms

and killed him. The same delightful quietus was extended to the friends of

Geta, several thousand of whom are said to have been murdered by

Caracalla's orders. Thus perished Fadilla, the daughter of the Emperor

Aurelius; the remaining son of Pertinax, and the jurist Papinian, whose

crime consisted in refusing to defend the assassination of Geta.

Caracalla soon established his reputation as the greatest monster ever clad

in the Imperial purple. The compressed beastliness of Caligula, Nero, and

Commodus together was equaled in the horrid kennel of Caracalla's

animality. He soon left the capital to practice his debauches in the

provinces of the Empire. Nor is it likely that his reign could have been

protracted for six years, had it not been for its removal from place to

place. In Egypt, being gibed at for his beastly visage, he ordered a

frightful massacre of the people. Without pretending to assume the command

of the army, he wandered from one city to another, until at last, in A. D.

217, he was struck down by a private soldier on the borders of Syria.

The assassination was procured by Macrinus, one of the praefects of the

city, who was now proclaimed Emperor, and at once assumed the purple. He

did not return to Rome, but remained with the army in the East. His first

work was an attempt to improve the discipline of the legions, and thus to

control the force by which he had been raised to the throne. The soldiers-

though the Emperor did not at first direct his efforts to the veterans of

the service-quickly perceived and resented the interference of the

Imperator. Meanwhile a second train of causes had been prepared for one of

the strangest revolutions ever witnessed in the Empire. A certain Julia

Maesa, sister of the empress Julia, dwelt now at Antioch, where Macrinus

had established his head-quarters. This princess, now aged, had by her two

daughters, who, like herself, were widows, two grandsons named Bassianus

and Alexander. The former, guided by his mother, had become a priest of the

Sun at Emesa. Here was stationed a strong division of the Roman army.

Bassianus had become well known to the soldiers, and by his personal beauty

and accomplishments had won their favor and applause. When they learned

that Macrinus was pursuing a course which tended manifestly to the

destruction of their power in the state, they proclaimed the Sun-priest

Emperor. The soldiers at Antioch abandoned Macrinus and joined their

brethren at Emesa. The praetorians-for by that name the new guards

organized by Severus were still known -remained loyal to the reigning

Emperor; and in a battle which followed between them and the legionaries,

victory at first inclined to the side of Macrinus; but he himself presently

fled and the praetorians were routed. The fugitive Emperor and his son were

pursued and put to death. Opposition to Bassianus ceased and he ascended

the throne with the Imperial titles of Antoninus and Severus. These names,

however, as well as that given him by his parents, were quickly supplanted

by the title of Elagabalus, the same being the name of the Syrian Sun-god

whom he served.

So the black stone symbolizing the Sun in the tradition of Syria was

introduced among