Page 0969

969

ROME-AGE OF THE ANTONINES.

while collecting his forces on the Danube he fell sick and died, leaving

the diadem to his general Lucius Domitius Aurelianus, son of Illyrian

peasant. The latter had won the pseudonym of Manu ad Ferrum, or Sword-in-

Hand. His nomination was ratified by the Senate, and the Emperor soon

justified the wisdom of the choice by notable successes over the Goths.

Having secured quiet on the Danubian frontier, he turned attention to the

Orient. There in Palmyra, the beautiful Zenobia, not improperly called the

Queen of the East-for her husband Odenatus was now dead-was attempting to

uphold the freedom of her capital and country alike against the Persian and

the Roman. During the last two reigns she had successfully defended herself

against the armies of Gallienus and Claudius, but in 272 she was defeated

by Aurelian and driven into Palmyra. Here she made a vigorous defense. When

the city was driven to the point of surrender, she made her escape and fled

as far as the Euphrates. Being captured and brought back to Aurelian, she

was asked why she had taken up arms. Her reply was worthy of her Arab

blood: "Because," said she, "I disdain to consider as Roman emperors an

Aureolus or a Gallienus; you alone I acknowledge as my conqueror and my

sovereign." She was taken by Aurelian to Rome to grace his triumph, but

such was the native dignity of her character that she won the respect even

of a Roman Emperor. She was given an elegant villa on the Tiber, and here

her daughters, when grown to womanhood were sought in marriage by the most

honorable noblemen of the city. As late as the fifth century, her

descendants were still held in esteem as an element in the best society of

the ancient capital.

In the last year of his life, A. D. 275, Aurelian disgraced his reign by

organizing a savage persecution of the Christians; but before the butchery

began, he was himself, while starting on a campaign against the Persians,

murdered by a secretary whom he had offended. His soldiers speedily and

signally avenged his death, and then by a singular freak of subordination

waited for six months on the Senate to declare a successor. That body chose

for the imperial office the venerable Marcus Cladius Tacitus already more

than seventy years of age. Although unfitted for the duties of the camp he

courageously undertook an expedition against the Alani, but before he could

bring a campaign to a close he yielded to old age and exposure, and died A.

D. 276, after a reign of but a few months duration.

The next Emperor was Aurelius Probus, officer of the army of Germany. He

was chosen by the legions, and recognized by the Senate. A certain

Florianus, brother of Tacitus, had in the mean time assumed the purple

without recognition by either the civil or the military power; but

presently finding himself abandoned, he made an end by suicide. Probus, who

was a soldier and man of worth, was thus left in undisputed possession of

the throne. His reign of six years was almost wholly occupied in war. In

his first campaign