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From this epoch forward the barbarian nations, hovering in ominous clouds

along the northeastern frontiers of Rome, exhibited unwonted commotion.

Anon, the scattered tribes beyond the Rhine and the Danube were gathered

into three principal confederations. Beyond the Lower Rhine the tribes of

the Chatti, the Chauci and the Cherusci were united in a league for

purposes of offense and defense against Rome. These nations, afterwards

known by the general name of Franks, will reappear as turbulent and

powerful factors in the history of the Barbarian Age. On the Upper Rhine a

similar aggregation of tribes occurred, embracing the powerful Suevi, the

Boii, the Marcomanni, and the Quadi, all known in subsequent history by the

common name of Alemanni. These were the peoples who in the times past and

present of the Empire made frequent and daring incursions into Rhaetia and

Pannonia, and kept Cisalpine Gaul forever in alarm. In the year A. D. 272

the Alemanni burst through the passes of the Eastern Alps, and advanced

into Italy as far as Ravenna. Here they were absorbed rather than

conquered, but not until thoughtful men of Rome had been led to see that

another barbarian expedition somewhat more audacious than the last might

penetrate to the capital itself, and there repeat the work of Brennus.

The third division of the tribes beyond the border included the Goths and

the Getae on the Lower Danube. These people were justly noted for their

courage and persistency. After the Trans-Danubian province of Dacia had

been surrendered to its original populations, the Goths made almost yearly

excursions across the river, or, passing down that stream and crossing the

Euxine, laid waste the coasts of Asia Minor. In the East, Persian power was

now fully revived under Sapor, the second of the Sassanidae and successor

of Artaxerxes. Such was the strength of the new kingdom that the whole

Roman dominion in Asia was threatened with extinction. In the direction of

Palestine and Egypt the borders of the Empire were now for the first time

harassed by those wandering tribes of Arabs known as Saracens or Men of the

Desert. In the mountain lairs of Isauria bands of brigands and pirates were

again gathered as in the later days of the Republic. The outlook was any

thing other than auspicious for the further development and glory of Rome.

It remains to sketch as briefly as possible the careers of the Emperors who

pass in rapid and inglorious succession, beginning with Maximin and ending

with Carinus.

The assumption of the Thracian giant was received with indignation by the

Senate. The time called for a leader, and he was found in the aged senator,

Gordianus, praefect of the province of Africa, now commanding the legions

in that country. No sooner was the