Page 0964



the statues and emblems of the gods of Rome. Elagabalus came to the capital

wearing the costume of the Oriental priesthood. He appeared in the streets,

where for seven hundred years the Roman toga had been worn as the proudest

garb by the proudest men, wearing the loose and high colored garments in

which the hierarchs of the East were wont to clothe themselves. All this

might have been borne- for Rome was now effeminated and debauched -had

Elagabalus possessed the virtues requisite in manhood or even the abilities

to command. But his disposition was debased by superstition, and his mind

was a stranger to the moral forces. So like, however, in these respects

were the people to the ruler whom the army had imposed upon them that they

accepted him as a necessary evil to be tolerated rather than destroyed. So

great, indeed, had been the influx of foreign elements into Rome, and so

high had risen the vices of corruption and dissipation, that the people

were no longer capable of any heroic indignation on account of the vices of

their sovereigns. Elagabalus confined himself for the most part to the

basilica, and his disgraceful excesses were thus in a measure hidden from

public gaze.

At length popular dissatisfaction began to express itself in the mutterings

of approaching insurrection. Julia Maesa again became a servant of the

state. She secured the appointment of her other grandson, Alexander

Severus, to be the colleague of the Emperor, and so amiable was the

character of this young prince, that public opinion was at once directed to

him as the promise and good omen of the state. Elagabalus was filled with

distrust and jealousy at beholding the affections which were lavished on

his cousin; but the latter waxed more and more, and the former was despised

for his vices and worthlessness. At length the praetorians rose in mutiny

and went over to the side of Severus. It appeared that in this instance

their preference was for the deposition rather than the death of

Elagabalus; but the latter, having by his conduct still further excited the

anger and contempt of the guards, was soon overthrown and assassinated. The

youthful Alexander Severus then reigned alone, being directed for a season

in the affairs of the government by his mother, the princess Mamaea.

Among the long list of Imperial names, that of Severus shines with peculiar

luster. During his reign the prosperity of the Empire was recovered. The

foreign wars of the epoch were few and unimportant. The great interests of

peace were again promoted, as in the time of Antoninus. The work of

Papinian, under whose auspices a digest of the Roman law had been

undertaken, was carried forward by Ulpian, the minister of Alexander, one

of the most distinguished jurists of the age. The