Page 0970



he defeated the Goths, whom no reverses could long restrain from incursions

across the Danube. The Emperor next proceeded to the East, where he gained

such signal successes over the Persians that he was enabled to dictate an

honorable peace. He then gave some attention to civil affairs, using his

army for the commendable work of draining marshes and planting orchards. He

issued a rescript abrogating the monopoly hitherto possessed by the wine-

growers of Italy, and making free the cultivation of the vine in the

countries beyond the Alps. These useful measures, however, soon aroused the

enmity of the soldiers, and the Emperor was slain in a mutiny.

Next came Carus, chosen by the legions of Gaul. The Senate, as usual,

accepted the nomination, and the nation had little cause to regret the

choice. The new Emperor had many of the tastes and virtues of his

predecessor. The son, Carinus, whom he associated with himself in the

government, was of far less admirable temper, and the people of Italy had

cause to regret that to him was assigned the government of the West. The

Emperor himself assumed command of the legions and began a great campaign

against the Persians. He crossed Asia Minor and Mesopotamia, left behind

the frontier post of Ctesiphon on the Tigris and penetrated the enemy's

country to a greater distance than had ever before been reached by the

Caesars. Fate, however, laid an early limit to his progress. He met a

doubtful death in the camp; for it was said by some that he was struck by

lightning; by others that he died of disease; and still by others that he

was assassinated by his lieutenant, Aper.

Numerian, the son of Carus, a youth of promise, who by his oratorical gifts

and culture had won the esteem of the Romans, was present at his father's

death, and on him, by proclamation of the soldiers, was devolved the

command of the army. Marching hastily toward Rome to place himself in

authority, he, too, was killed, and the command passed to a certain Diodes

or Diocletianus, a Dalmatian by birth, already an officer of the legions.

To him a Druidess had already promised the Imperial dignity, but before

reaching the purple he must slaughter a boar. He now chose to regard Aper,

the murderer of Carus, as the prophetic beast which he must slay. The

vicarious sacrifice was accordingly performed, and it remained for

Diocletian and Carinus to decide by arms the possession of the Empire. In

several engagements the latter was successful, but the assassin's dagger

was again to determine the conflict. Carinus had led astray the wife of one

of his subordinates, who now sought revenge by the murder of his imperial

rival. The dominion of the world was thus, in 284, left to Diocletian,

whose reign was so distinguished as to constitute an epoch in the history

of the Empire.