Page 0967

967

ROME---AGE OF THE ANTONINES

news of Maximin's usurpation carried across the Mediterranean than Gordian

was proclaimed by his soldiers. This movement was heartily seconded in

Italy, where measures were immediately adopted for the overthrow of

Maximin. Gordian had in the mean time associated with himself his son, also

a commander in Africa, and it appeared that the two able and popular rulers

might on their return to Italy restore some degree of order to the

distracted Empire.

Meanwhile, however, before they could set out from Africa, the governor of

Mauritania rose in revolt and slew the younger Gordian in battle. So great

was the despair of the father on hearing of the death of his son that he

committed suicide. Great was the consternation when the intelligence of

these calamitous events was carried to Rome. The Senate, unable to recede

from its declared hostility to Maximin, immediately proclaimed as Emperors

two of its own number, named Maximus and Albinus. A popular insurrection

ensued in favor of the grandson of the veteran Gordian, and the Senate was

obliged to appease the tumult by associating the youth with the two Augusti

already proclaimed. To Maximus was entrusted the command of the senatorial

army, which, in A. D. 238, marched to the north to encounter Maximin. The

latter had, meanwhile, advanced to the head of the Adriatic and laid siege

to Aquileia. Here, however, his troops broke into mutiny and put him to

death. Maximus and Albinus took up their residence in Rome, but a few

months afterwards a band of malcontent soldiers attacked and slew them in

the basilica. The youthful Gordian was thereupon taken to the camp of the

praetorians, and the Senate was obliged to acknowledge him as sole Emperor.

The new ruler had the good fortune to choose for his minister of state the

able and virtuous Misitheus. For five years (A. D. 238-244) constant

improvements were shown in the manners of the palace and the reviving

decency of the city. Then Misitheus died and was succeeded in his office of

praefect by Philip, the Arabian. The latter soon proved treacherous,

incited the army of the Euphrates to mutiny, and Gordian was slain by the

soldiers. Philip was at once proclaimed in his stead. The chief event of

his reign belongs to the year A. D. 248, which was fixed upon by the

Emperor as the thousandth anniversary of the city. It was determined to

celebrate the event by an elaborate performance of the Secular Games. But

the glory of the occasion was marred not a little by a mutiny of the

soldiers on the Maesian frontier, who set up a certain Marinus as Emperor.

Against him was sent an army under the command of Decius, who, having put

down the revolt, was himself proclaimed by the legionaries as ruler of the

Empire. Philip went forth to meet him, but was defeated and killed in a

battle at Verona.

The accession of the new Augustus was in the nature of a reaction towards

the old paganism which had once made Rome glorious. Decius went back in his

religion and philosophy to the gods of the ancient city. He exacted of the

Christians a strict compliance with the rites and ceremonies prescribed by

the old-time formulae; and when they refused