§ 1 The Life of Aurelian
At the festival of the Hilaria — when, as we know, everything that is said and done should be of a joyous nature — when the ceremonies had been completed, Junius Tiberianus, the prefect of the city, an illustrious man and one to be named only with a prefix of deep respect, took me up into his carriage, that is to say, his official coach. 2 There his mind being now at leisure, relaxed and freed from law-pleas and public business, he engaged in much conversation all the way from the Palatine Hill to the Gardens of Varius, his theme being chiefly the lives of the emperors. 3 And when we had reached the Temple of the Sun, consecrated by the Emperor Aurelian, he asked me — for he derived his descent in some degree from him — who had written down the record of the life of that prince. 4 When I replied that I had read none in Latin, though several in Greek, that revered man poured forth in the following words the sorrow that his groan implied: 5 "And so Thersites and Sinon and other such monsters of antiquity are well known to us and will be spoken of by our descendants; but shall the Deified Aurelian, that most famous of princes, that most firm of rulers, who restored the whole world to the sway of Rome, be unknown to posterity? God prevent such madness! 6 And yet, if I am not mistaken, we possess the written journal of that great man and also his wars recorded in detail in the manner of a history, and these I should like you to procure and set forth in order, adding thereto all that pertains to his life. 7 All these things you may learn in your zeal for research from the linen books, for he gave instructions that in these all that he did each day should be written down. I will arrange, moreover, that the Ulpian Library shall provide you with the linen books themselves. 8 It would be my wish that you write a work on Aurelian, representing him, to the best of your ability, just as he really was." 9 I have carried out these instructions, my dear Ulpianus, I have procured the Greek books and laid my hands on all that I needed, and from these sources I have gathered together into one little book all that was worthy of mention. 10 You I should wish to think kindly of my work, and, if you are not content therewith, to study the Greeks and even to demand the linen books themselves, which the Ulpian Library will furnish you whenever you desire.
§ 2 Now, when in the same carriage our talk had fallen on Trebellius Pollio, who has handed down to memory all the emperors, both illustrious and obscure, from the two Philips to the Deified Claudius and his brother Quintillus, Tiberianus asserted that much of Pollio's work was too careless and much was too brief; but when I said in reply that there was no writer, at least in the realm of history, who had not made some false statement, and even pointed out the places in which Livy and Sallust, Cornelius Tacitus, and, finally, Trogus could be refuted by manifest proofs, he came over wholly to my opinion, and, throwing up his hands, he jestingly said besides: 2 "Well then, write as you will. You will be safe in saying whatever you wish, since you will have as comrades in falsehood those authors whom we admire for the style of their histories."
§ 3 So then — lest I become tiresome by weaving too many trifles into my preface — the Deified Aurelian was born of a humble family, at Sirmium according to most writers, but in Dacia Ripensis according to some. 2 I remember, moreover, having read one author who declared that he was born in Moesia; and, indeed, it often comes to pass that we are ignorant of the birthplaces of those who, born in a humble position, frequently invent a birthplace for themselves, that they may give their descendants a glamour derived from the lustre of the locality. 3 However, in writing of the deeds of a great emperor, the chief thing to be known is not in what place he was born, but how great he was in the State. 4 Do we value Plato more highly because he was born at Athens than because he stands out illumined as the peerless gift of philosophy? 5 Or do we hold Aristotle of Stagira or Zeno of Elea or Anacharsis of Scythia in less esteem because they were born in the tiniest villages, when the virtue of philosophy has exalted them all to the skies?
§ 4 And so — to return to the course of events — Aurelian, born of humble parents and from his earliest years very quick of mind and famous for his strength, never let a day go by, even though a feast-day or a day of leisure, on which he did not practise with the spear, the bow and arrow, and other exercises in arms. 2 As to his mother, Callicrates of Tyre, by far the most learned writer of the Greeks, says that she was a priestess of the temple of his own Sun-god in the village in which his parents lived; 3 she even had the gift of prophecy to a certain extent, for once, when she was quarrelling with her husband and reviling him for his stupidity and low estate, she shouted at him, "Behold the father of an emperor!" From which it is clear that the woman knew something of fate. 4 The same writer says also that there were the following omens of the rule of Aurelian: First of all, when he was a child, a serpent wound itself many times around his wash-basin, and no one was able to kill it; finally, his mother, who had seen the occurrence, refused to have the serpent killed, saying that it was a member of the household. 5 Furthermore, it is said, the priestess made swaddling-clothes for her son from a purple cloak, which the emperor of the time had dedicated to the Sun-god. 6 This, too, is related, that Aurelian, while wrapped in his swaddling-clothes, was lifted out of his cradle by an eagle, but without suffering harm, and was laid on an altar in a neighbouring shrine which happened to have no fire upon it. 7 The same writer asserts that on his mother's land a calf was born of marvellous size, white but with purple spots, which formed on one side the word "hail," on the other a crown.
§ 5 I remember also reading in this same author much that has no importance; he even asserts that where Aurelian was born there sprang up in this same woman's courtyard roses of a purple colour, having the fragrance of the rose but a golden centre. 2 Later, when he was in military service, there were also many omens predicting, as events showed, his future rule. 3 For instance, when he entered Antioch in a carriage, for the reason that because of a wound he could not ride his horse, a purple cloak, which had been spread out in his honour, fell down on him in such a way as to cover his shoulders. 4 Then, when he desired to change to a horse, because at that time the use of a carriage in a city was attended with odium, a horse belonging to the emperor was led up to him, and in Thracia he mounted it. But when he discovered to whom it belonged, he changed to one of his own. 5 Furthermore, when he had gone as envoy to the Persians, he was presented with a sacrificial saucer, of the kind that the king of the Persians is wont to present to the emperor, on which was engraved the Sun-god in the same attire in which he was worshipped in the very temple where the mother of Aurelian had been a priestess. 6 He was also presented with an elephant of unusual size, which he then gave to the emperor, and Aurelian was the only commoner of them all who ever owned an elephant.
§ 6 But, to omit these and similar details, he was a comely man, good to look upon because of his manly grace, rather tall in stature, and very strong in his muscles; he was a little too fond of wine and food, but he indulged his passions rarely; he exercised the greatest severity and a discipline that had no equal, being extremely ready to draw his sword. 2 And, in fact, since there were in the army two tribunes, both named Aurelian, this man and another, who later was captured with Valerian, the soldiers gave him the nickname of "Sword-in-hand," so that, if anyone chanced to ask which Aurelian had done anything or performed any exploit, the reply would be made "Aurelian Sword-in-hand," and so he would be identified.
3 Many of the remarkable deeds which he did as a commoner are still well known: For instance, he and three hundred men of his garrison alone destroyed the Sarmatians when they burst into Illyricum. 4 Theoclius, who wrote of the reigns of the Caesars, relate that in the war against the Sarmatians Aurelian with his own hand slew forty-eight men in a single day and that in the course of several days he slew over nine hundred and fifty, so that the boys even composed in his honour the following jingles and dance-ditties, to which they would dance on holidays in soldier fashion:
5 "Thousand, thousand, thousand we've beheaded now.
One alone, a thousand we've beheaded now.
He shall drink a thousand who a thousand slew.
So much wine is owned by no one as the blood which he has shed."
6 I perceive, indeed, that these verses are very trivial, but since the author mentioned before has included them in his writings, in Latin just as they are here, I have thought they ought not to be omitted.
§ 7 Likewise, when at Mainz as tribune of the Sixth Legion, the Gallican, he completely crushed the Franks, who had burst into Gaul and were roving about through the whole country, killing seven hundred of them and capturing three hundred, whom he then sold as slaves. 2 And so a song was again composed about him:
"Franks, Sarmatians by the thousand, once and once again we've slain.
Now we seek a thousand Persians."
3 He was, moreover, so feared by the soldiers, as I have said before, that, after he had once punished offences in the camp with the utmost severity, no one offended again. 4 In fact, he alone among all commanders inflicted the following punishment on a soldier who had committed adultery with the wife of the man at whose house he was lodged: bending down the tops of two trees, he fastened them to the soldier's feet and then let them fly upward so suddenly that the man hung there torn in two — a penalty which inspired great terror in all.
5 There is a letter of his, truly that of a soldier, written to his deputy, as follows: "If you wish to be tribune, or rather, if you wish to remain alive, restrain the hands of your soldiers. None shall steal another's fowl or touch his sheep. None shall carry off grapes, or thresh out grain, or exact oil, salt, or firewood, and each shall be content with his own allowance. Let them get their living from the booty taken for the enemy and not from the tears of the provincials. 6 Their arms shall be kept burnished, their implements bright, and their boots stout. Let old uniforms be replaced by new. Let them keep their pay in their belts and not spend it in public-houses. 7 Let them wear their collars, arm-rings, and finger-rings. Let each man curry his own horse and baggage-animal, let no one sell the fodder allowed him for his beast, and let them take care in common of the mule belonging to the century. 8 Let one yield obedience to another as a soldier and no one as a slave, let them be attended by the physicians without charge, let them give no fees to soothsayers, let them conduct themselves in their lodgings with propriety, and let anyone who begins a brawl be thrashed."
§ 8 I have recently found among the linen books in the Ulpian Library a letter, written by the Deified Valerian concerning the Emperor Aurelian, which I have inserted word for word, as seemed right:
2 From Valerian Augustus to Antoninus Gallus, the consul. You find fault with me in a personal letter for confiding my son Gallienus to Postumus rather than to Aurelian, on the ground, of course, that both the boy and the army should be entrusted to the sterner man. Of a truth you will continue to hold this opinion when once you have learned how stern Aurelian is; 3 for he is too stern, much too stern, he is harsh and his actions are not suited to those of our time. 4 Moreover, I call all to witness that I have even feared that he will act too sternly toward my son also, in case he does aught in behaving with too great frivolity — for he is naturally prone to merry-making." 5 This letter shows how great was his sternness, so that even Valerian said that he feared him.
§ 9 There is another letter by the same Valerian, sounding his praises, which I have brought out from the files of the city-prefecture. For when he came to Rome the allowance usually made to his rank was assigned to him. A copy of the letter:
2 'From Valerian Augustus to Ceionius Albinus, the prefect of the city. It had, indeed, been our wish to bestow on each and every man who has been loyal to the commonwealth a much larger recompense than his rank demands, but especially when his manner of life recommends him for honours — for there should be some other reward for merit than rank — , but the public discipline requires that none shall receive for the income of the provinces a greater sum than the grade of his position permits. 3 Wherefore we have now chosen Aurelian, a very brave man, to inspect and set in order all our camps, for, by the general admission of the entire army, both we ourselves and the whole commonwealth as well are so in his debt that a scarcely any rewards that are worthy of him, or, indeed, too great. 4 For what quality has he that is not illustrious? that cannot be compared with the Corvini and the Scipios? He is a liberator of Illyricum, saviour of the provinces of Gaul, and as a general a great and perfect example. 5 And yet there is nothing but this that I can bestow on such a man by way of reward for his services; 6 for a wise and careful administration of the commonwealth will not permit it. Wherefore your Integrity, my dearest kinsman, will supply the aforesaid man, as long as he shall be in Rome, with sixteen loaves of soldiers' read of the finest quality, forty loaves of soldiers' bread of the quality used in camp, forty pints of table-wine, the half of a swine, two fowl, thirty pounds of pork, forty pounds of beef, one pint of oil and likewise one pint of fish-pickle, one pint of salt, and greens and vegetables as much as shall be sufficient. 7 And indeed, since something out of the ordinary must be allowed him, as long as he shall be in Rome, you will allow him fodder beyond the usual amount and for his own expenses, moreover, a daily grant of two aurei of Antoninus, fifty silver minutuli of Philip, and one hundred denarii of bronze. All else will be furnished by the prefects of the treasury."
§ 10 These details may perhaps seem to someone to be paltry and over trivial, but research stops at nothing. 2 He held, then, very many commands as general and very many as tribune, and acted as deputy for generals or tribunes on about forty different occasions. Indeed, he even acted as deputy for Ulpius Crinitus, who used to assert that he was of the house of Trajan — he was, in actual fact, a most brave man and very similar to Trajan — , who was painted together with Aurelian in the Temple of the Sun, and whom Valerian had planned to appoint to the place of a Caesar. He also commanded troops, restored the frontiers, distributed booty among the soldiers, enriched the provinces of Thrace with captured cattle, horses, and slaves, dedicated spoils in the Palace, and brought together to a private estate of Valerian's five hundred slaves, two thousand cows, one thousand mares, ten thousand sheep, and fifteen thousand goats. 3 At this time, then, Ulpius Crinitus gave thanks formally to Valerian as he sat in the public baths at Byzantium, saying that he had done him great honour in giving him Aurelian as deputy. And for this reason he determined to adopt Aurelian.
§ 11 It is of interest to know the letters that were written concerning Aurelian and also the account of his adoption itself. Valerian's letter to Aurelian: "If there were anyone else, my dearest Aurelian, who could fill the place of Ulpius Crinitus, I should be consulting with you in regard to his courage and industry. But now do you — since I could not have found any other — take upon yourself the war around Nicopolis, in order that the illness of Crinitus may cause us no damage. 2 Do whatever you can. I will be brief. The command of the troops will be vested in you. 3 You will have three hundred Ituraean bowmen, six hundred Armenians, one hundred and fifty Arabs, two hundred Saracens, and four hundred irregulars from Mesopotamia; 4 you will have the Third Legion, the Fortunata, and eight hundred mounted cuirassiers. You will also have with you Hariomundus, Haldagates, Hildomundus and Charioviscus. 5 The prefects have arranged for the needful supplies in all the camps. 6 Your duty it is, with the aid of your wisdom and skill, to place your winter and summer camps where you will lack nothing, and, furthermore, to ascertain where the enemy's train is, and to find out exactly how great his forces are and of what kind, in order that no supplies may be used in vain or weapons wasted, for on these depends all success in war. 7 I, for my part, expect as much from you, if the gods but grant their favour, as the commonwealth could expect from Trajan, were he still alive. And indeed, he, in whose place I have made you deputy, is no less great a man. 8 It is, therefore, proper that you should expect the consulship, with this same Ulpius Crinitus as colleague, for the following year, beginning on the eleventh day before the Kalends of June, to fill out the term of Gallienus and Valerian, and your expenses shall be paid from the public funds. 9 For we should aid the poverty of those men — and of none more than those — who after a long life in public affairs are nevertheless poor." 10 This letter also shows how great a man Aurelian was — and truly great, indeed, for no one ever reached the highest place who did not from his earliest years climb up by the ladder of noble character.
§ 12 The letter about the consulship: "From Valerian Augustus to Aelius Xiphidius, the prefect of the treasury. To Aurelian, whom we have named for the consulship, because of his poverty — in which he is great and greater than all others — you will supply for the performance of the races in the Circus three hundred aurei of Antoninus, three thousand silver minutuli of Philip, five million bronze sesterces, ten finely-woven tunics of the kind used by men, twenty tunics of Egyptian linen, two pairs of Cyprian table-covers, ten African carpets, ten Moorish couch-covers, one hundred swine, and one hundred sheep. 2 You will order, moreover, that a banquet shall be given at the state's expense to the senators and Roman knights, and that there shall be two sacrificial victims of major and four of minor size."
3 And now, inasmuch as I have said in reference to his adoption that I would include certain things which concern so great a prince, 4 I ask you not to consider me too tedious or too wordy in the following statement, which I have thought I should introduce, for the sake of accuracy, from the work of Acholius, the master of admissions under the Emperor Valerian, in the ninth book of his records:
§ 13 When Valerian Augustus had taken his seat in the public baths at Byzantium, in the presence of the army and in the presence of the officials of the Palace, there being seated with him Nummius Tuscus, the consul-regular, Baebius Macer, prefect of the guard, and Quintus Ancharius, governor of the East, and seated on his left hand Avulnius Saturninus, general in command of the Scythian frontier, Murrentius Mauricius, just appointed to Egypt, Julius Trypho, general in command of the frontier of the East, Maecius Brundisinus, prefect of the grain-supply for the East, Ulpius Crinitus, general in command of the Illyrian and Thracian frontier, and Fulvius Boius, general in command of the Raetian frontier, Valerian Augustus spoke as follows: 2 "The commonwealth thanks you, Aurelian, for having set it free from the power of the Goths. Through your efforts we are rich in booty, we are rich in glory and in all that causes the felicity of Rome to increase. 3 Now, therefore, in return for your great achievements receive for yourself four mural crowns, five rampart crowns, two naval crowns, two civic crowns, ten spears without points, four bi-coloured banners, four red general's tunics, two proconsul's cloaks, a bordered toga, a tunic embroidered with palms, a gold-embroidered toga, a long under-tunic, and an ivory chair. 4 For on this day I appoint you consul, and I will write to the senate that it may vote you the sceptre of office and vote you also the fasces; for these insignia the emperor is not wont to give, but, on the contrary, to receive from the senate when he is created consul."
§ 14 After this speech of Valerian's Aurelian arose and bending over the Emperor's hand, he expressed his thanks in words befitting a soldier, and these I have considered suitable and worthy of being quoted here. He spoke as follows: 2 "As for myself, my lord Valerian, Emperor and Augustus, it was with this end in view that I have done all that I did, have suffered wounds with patience, and have exhausted my horses and my sworn comrades, namely, that I might win the approval of the commonwealth and of my own conscience. 3 You, however, have done more. Therefore, I am grateful for your kindness and I will accept the consulship which you offer me. May a god, and a god in whom we can put our trust, now grant that the senate shall form a like judgement concerning me." 4 And so, when all who stood about expressed their thanks, Ulpius Crinitus arose and delivered the following speech: 5 "According to the custom of our ancestors, Valerian Augustus, — a custom which my own family has held particularly dear, — men of the highest birth have always chosen the most courageous to be their sons, in order that those families which either were dying out or had lost their offspring by marriage might gain lustre from the fertility of a borrowed stock. 6 This custom, then, which was followed by Nerva in adopting Trajan, by Trajan in adopting Hadrian, by Hadrian in adopting Antoninus, and by the others after them according to the precedent thus established, I have thought I should now bring back by adopting Aurelian, whom you, by the authority of your approval, have given to me as my deputy. 7 Do you, therefore, give the order that it may be sanctioned by law and that Aurelian may become the heir to the sacred duties, the name, the goods, and the legal rights of Ulpius Crinitus, already a man of consular rank, even as through your decision he is straightway to become a consular."
§ 15 It would be too long to include every detail in full. For Valerian expressed his gratitude to Crinitus, and the adoption was carried out in the wonted form. 2 I remember having read in some Greek book what I have thought I ought not to omit, namely, that Valerian commanded Crinitus to adopt Aurelian, chiefly for the reason that he was poor; but this question I think should be left undiscussed.
3 Now, inasmuch as I have previously inserted the letter in accordance with which Aurelian was furnished with the money needed for his consulship, I have thought I should tell why I inserted a detail apparently trivial. 4 We have recently beheld the consulship of Furius Placidus celebrated in the Circus with so much display that the chariot-drivers seemed to receive not prizes but patrimonies, for they were presented with tunics of part-silk, with embroidered tunics made of fine linen, and even with horses, while right-thinking men groaned aloud. 5 For it has come to pass that the consulship is now a matter of wealth, not of men, because, of course, if it is offered to merit, it ought not to impoverish the holder. 6 Gone are those former days of integrity, destined to disappear still further through the currying of popular favour. But this question, too, as is our wont, we shall leave undiscussed.
§ 16 So then, raised to a high position by these many expressions of approval and these rewards, Aurelian became so illustrious during the time of Claudius that, after this emperor's death and the murder of his brother Quintillus, he alone received the imperial power; for Aureolus, with whom Gallienus had made peace, had been put to death. 2 Concerning this matter there is great diversity of opinion among the historians, even among the Greeks, for some say that Aureolus was killed by Aurelian against Claudius' will, others that it was by his command and desire, others again that he was killed by Aurelian after assuming the imperial power, and still others that it was while he was yet a commoner. 3 But these things, too, we shall leave undiscussed, to be learned from those who have put them in writing. 4 This much, however, is agreed among all, namely, that the Deified Claudius entrusted the whole conduct of the war against the Maeotidae to no one in preference to Aurelian.
§ 17 There is still in existence a letter, which, for the sake of accuracy, as is my wont, or rather because I see that other writers of annals have done so, I have thought I should insert: 2 "From Flavius Claudius to his dear Valerius Aurelian greeting: Our commonwealth demands of you your wonted services. Up then! Why this delay? I wish the soldiers to reap the benefit of your command, the tribunes of your leadership. The Goths must be crushed, they must be driven from Thrace. For large numbers of them are ravaging Haemimontum and Europe, those very ones who fled when you fought against them. 3 I now place under your command all the armies in Thrace, all in Illyricum, and, in fact, the whole frontier; come now, show us your wonted prowess. My brother Quintillus, as soon as he meets you, will also give you his aid. 4 Busied as I am with other tasks, I am entrusting to your valour the whole of this war. I am sending you, moreover, ten horses, two cuirasses, and all else which necessity bids me equip one going out to fight."
5 So, making use of success won in battles fought under Claudius' auspices, he brought back the empire to its previous condition and was at once, as we have related before, declared emperor by the unanimous vote of all the legions.
§ 18 Aurelian, in fact, commanded all the cavalry before he received the power and while Claudius was still ruling, after the leaders of the horse had incurred reproach for having fought rashly and without the Emperor's orders.
2 Aurelian, too, during that same time, fought with the greatest vigour against the Suebi and the Sarmatians and won a most splendid victory. 3 Under him, it is true, a disaster was inflicted by the Marcomanni as the result of his blunder. For, while he was making no plan to meet them face to face during a sudden invasion, but was preparing to pursue them from the rear, they wrought great devastation in all the region around Milan. Later on, however, he conquered even the Marcomanni also.
4 During that panic, moreover, while the Marcomanni were devastating far and wide, great revolts arose at Rome, for all were afraid that what had happened under Gallienus might occur once more. 5 Therefore they even consulted the Sibylline Books, famed for their benefits to the State, and in these it was found that sacrifices should be made in certain places, which the barbarians then would not be able to pass. 6 And so all those measures which were ordered were carried out with divers kinds of ceremonies, and thus the barbarians were checked, all of whom, as they wandered about in small divisions, Aurelian later destroyed.
7 It is my desire to give in full the text of the senate's decree itself, in which the authority of that most illustrious body ordained that the Books should be consulted:
§ 19 On the third day before the Ides of January Fulvius Sabinus, the city-praetor, spoke as follows: "We bring before you, Conscript Fathers, the recommendation of the pontiffs and a message from Aurelian our prince, bidding us consult the Books of Fate, in which, by the sacred command of the gods, are contained our hopes of ending the war. 2 For you yourselves are aware that, whenever any serious commotion arose, they were always consulted, and that never have the public ills been brought to an end until there issued from them the command to make sacrifice." 3 Then Ulpius Silanus, whose right it was to give his opinion first, arose and spoke as follows: "It is over late, Conscript Fathers, for us to be consulted now concerning the safety of the commonwealth, and over late for us to look to the commands of Fate, even as do the sick who do not send for the greatest physicians save when in the greatest despair, exactly as though more skilful men must needs give a more certain cure, whereas it were better far to meet every disease at the outset. 4 For you remember, Conscript Fathers, that I often said in this body, when the invasion of the Marcomanni was first announced, that we should consult the commands of the Sibyl, make use of the benefits of Apollo, and submit ourselves to the bidding of the immortal gods; but some objected, and objected, too, with cruel guile, saying in flattery that such was the valour of the Emperor Aurelian that there was no need to consult the deities, just as though that great man does not himself revere the gods and found his hopes on the dwellers in Heaven. 5 Why say more? We have heard his message asking the help of the gods, which never causes shame to any. Now let this most courageous man receive our assistance. 6 Therefore come, ye pontiffs, and do ye, pure and cleansed and holy, attired as is meet and with spirits sanctified, ascend to the temple, deck the benches with laurel, and with veiled hands unroll the volumes, and inquire into the fate of the commonwealth, that fate which is unchanging. And finally, do ye also enjoin a sacred song upon those boys who may lawfully aid in the ceremonies. We, for our part, will decree the money to be expended for the sacred rites and all that is needful for the sacrifices, and we will proclaim for the fields the festival of the Ambarvalia."
§ 20 After this speech many of the senators were asked for their opinions and gave them, but these it would be too long to include. 2 Then, while some raised their hands and others went on foot to give their votes and others again expressed their assent in words, the senate's decree was enacted. 3 Then they went to the temple, consulted the Books, brought forth the verses, purified the city, chanted the hymns, celebrated the Amburbium, and proclaimed the Ambarvalia, and thus the sacred ceremony which was commanded was carried out.
4 Aurelian's letter concerning the Sibylline Books — for I have included it also as evidence for my statements: 5 "I marvel, revered Fathers, that you have hesitated for so long a time to open the Sibylline Books, just as though you were consulting in a gathering of Christians and not in the temple of all the gods. 6 Come, therefore, and by means of the purity of the pontiffs and the sacred ceremonies bring aid to your prince who is harassed by the plight of the commonwealth. 7 Let the Books be consulted; let all that should be done be performed; whatever expenses are needful, whatever captives of any race, whatever princely animals, I will not refuse, but will offer them gladly, for it is not an unseemly thing to win victories by the aid of the gods. It was with this that our ancestors brought many wars to an end and with this that they began them. 8 Whatever costs there may be I have ordered to be paid by the prefect of the treasury, to whom I have sent a letter. You have, moreover, under your own control the money-chest of the State, which I find more full than were my desire."
§ 21 Aurelian, however, since he wished, by massing his forces together, to meet all the enemy at once, suffered such a defeat near Placentia that the empire of Rome was almost destroyed. 2 This peril, in fact, was caused by the cunning and perfidy of the barbarians' mode of attack. 3 For, being unable to meet him in open battle, they fell back into the thickest forests, and thus as evening came on they routed our forces. 4 And, indeed, if the power of the gods, after the Books had been consulted and the sacrifices performed, had not confounded the barbarians by means of certain prodigies and heaven-sent visions, there would have been no victory for Rome.
5 When the war with the Marcomanni was ended, Aurelian, over-violent by nature, and now filled with rage, advanced to Rome eager for the revenge which the bitterness of the revolts had prompted. Though at other times a most excellent man, he did, in fact, employ his power too much like a tyrant, for in slaying the leaders of the revolts he used too bloody a method of checking what should have been cured by milder means. 6 For he even killed some senators of noble birth, though the charges against them were trivial and could have been held in disdain by a more lenient prince, and they were attested either by a single witness or by one who was himself trivial or held in but little esteem. 7 Why say more? By the blow of a graver ill-repute he then marred that rule which had previously been great and of which high hopes were cherished, and not without reason. 8 Then men ceased to love and began to fear an excellent prince, some asserting that such an emperor should be hated and not desired, others that he was a good physician indeed, but the methods he used for healing were bad. 9 Then, since all that happened made it seem possible that some such thing might occur again, as had happened under Gallienus, after asking advice from the senate, he extended the walls of the city of Rome. The pomerium, however, he did not extend at that time, but later. 10 For no emperor may extend the pomerium save one who has added to the empire of Rome some portion of foreign territory. 11 It was, indeed, extended by Augustus, by Trajan, and by Nero, under whom the districts of Pontus Polemoniacus and the Cottian Alps were brought under the sway of Rome.
§ 22 And so, having arranged for all that had to do with the fortifications and the general state of the city and with civil affairs as a whole, he directed his march against the Palmyrenes, or rather against Zenobia, who, in the name of her sons, was wielding the imperial power in the East. 2 On this march he ended many great wars of various kinds. For in Thrace and Illyricum he defeated the barbarians who came against him, and on the other side of the Danube he even slew the leader of the Goths, Cannabas, or Cannabaudes as he is also called, and with him five thousand men. 3 From there he crossed over by way of Byzantium into Bithynia, and took possession of it without a struggle. 4 Many were the great and famous things that he said and did, but we cannot include them all in our book without causing a surfeit, nor, indeed, do we wish to do so, but for the better understanding of his character and valour a few of them must be selected. 5 For instance, when he came to Tyana and found its gates closed against him, he became enraged and exclaimed, it is said: "In this town I will not leave even a dog alive." 6 Then, indeed, the soldiers, in the hope of plunder, pressed on with greater vigour, but a certain Heraclammon, fearing that he would be killed along with the rest, betrayed his native-place, and so the city was captured.
§ 23 Aurelian, however, with the true spirit of an emperor, at once performed two notable deeds, one of which showed his severity, the other his leniency. 2 For, like a wise victor, he put to death Heraclammon, the betrayer of his native-place, and when the soldiers clamoured for the destruction of the city in accordance with the words in which he had declared that he would not leave a dog alive in Tyana, he answered them, saying: "I did, indeed, declare that I would not leave a dog alive in this city; well, then, kill all the dogs." 3 Notable, indeed, were the prince's words, but more notable still was the deed of the soldiers; for the entire army, just as though it were gaining riches thereby, took up the prince's jest, by which both booty was denied them and the city preserved intact.
4 The letter concerning Heraclammon: "From Aurelian Augustus to Mallius Chilo. I have suffered the man to be put to death by whose kindness, as it were, I recovered Tyana. But never have I been able to love a traitor and I was pleased that the soldiers killed him; for he who spared not his native city would not have been able to keep faith with me. 5 He, indeed, is the only one of all who opposed me that the earth now holds. The fellow was rich, I cannot deny it, but the property I have restored to the children of him to whom it belonged, that no one may charge me with having permitted a man who was rich to be slain for the sake of his money."
§ 24 The city, moreover, was captured in a wonderful way. For after Heraclammon had shown Aurelian a place where the ground sloped upward by nature in the form of a siege-mound, up which he could climb in full attire, the emperor ascended there, and holding aloft his purple cloak he showed himself to the towns-folk within and the soldiers without, and so the city was captured, just as though Aurelian's entire army had been within the walls.
2 We must not omit one event which enhances the fame of a venerated man. 3 For, it is said, Aurelian did indeed truly speak and truly think of destroying the city of Tyana; but Apollonius of Tyana, a sage of the greatest renown and authority, a philosopher of former days, the true friend of the gods, and himself even to be regarded as a supernatural being, as Aurelian was withdrawing to his tent, suddenly appeared to him in the form in which he is usually portrayed, and spoke to him as follows, using Latin in order that he might be understood by a man from Pannonia: 4 "Aurelian, if you wish to conquer, there is no reason why you should plan the death of my fellow-citizens. Aurelian, if you wish to rule, abstain from the blood of the innocent. Aurelian, act with mercy if you wish to live long." 5 Aurelian recognized the countenance of the venerated philosopher, and, in fact, he had seen his portrait in many a temple. 6 And so, at once stricken with terror, he promised him a portrait and statues and a temple, and returned to his better self. 7 This incident I have learned from trustworthy men and read over again in the books in the Ulpian Library, and I have been the more ready to believe it because of the reverence in which Apollonius is held. 8 For who among men has ever been more venerated, more revered, more renowned, or more holy than that very man? He brought the dead back to life, he said and did many things beyond the power of man. If any one should wish to learn these, let him read the Greek books which have been composed concerning his life. 9 I myself, moreover, if the length of my life shall permit and the plan shall continue to meet with his favour, will put into writing the deeds of this great man, even though it be briefly, not because his achievements need the tribute of my discourse, but in order that these wondrous things may be proclaimed by the voice of every man.
§ 25 After thus recovering Tyana, Aurelian, by means of a brief engagement near Daphne, gained possession of Antioch, having promised forgiveness to all; and thereupon, obeying, as far as is known, the injunctions of that venerated man, Apollonius, he acted with greater kindness and mercy. 2 After this, the whole issue of the war was decided near Emesa in a mighty battle fought against Zenobia and Zaba, her ally. 3 When Aurelian's horsemen, now exhausted, were on the point of breaking their ranks and turning their backs, suddenly by the power of a supernatural agency, as was afterwards made known, a divine form spread encouragement throughout the foot-soldiers and rallied even the horsemen. Zenobia and Zaba were put to flight, and a victory was won in full. 4 And so, having reduced the East to its former state, Aurelian entered Emesa as a conqueror, and at once made his way to the Temple of Elagabalus, to pay his vows as if by a duty common to all. 5 But there he beheld that same divine form which he had seen supporting his cause in the battle. 6 Wherefore he not only established temples there, dedicating gifts of great value, but he also built a temple to the Sun at Rome, which he consecrated with still greater pomp, as we shall relate in the proper place.
§ 26 After this he directed his march toward Palmyra, in order that, by storming it, he might put an end to his labours. But frequently on the march his army met with a hostile reception from the brigands of Syria, and after suffering many mishaps he incurred great danger during the siege, being even wounded by an arrow.
2 A letter of his is still in existence, addressed to Mucapor, in which, without the wonted reserve of an emperor he confesses the difficulty of this war: 3 "The Romans are saying that I am merely waging a war with a woman, just as if Zenobia alone and with her own forces only were fighting against me, and yet, as a matter of fact, there is as great a force of the enemy as if I had to make war against a man, while she, because of her fear and her sense of guilt, is a much baser foe. 4 It cannot be told what a store of arrows is here, what great preparations for war, what a store of spears and of stones; there is no section of the wall that is not held by two or three engines of war, and their machines can even hurl fire. 5 Why say more? She fears like a woman, and fights as one who fears punishment. I believe, however, that the gods will truly bring aid to the Roman commonwealth, for they have never failed our endeavours."
6 Finally, exhausted and worn out by reason of ill-success, he despatched a letter to Zenobia, asking her to surrender and promising to spare her life; of this letter I have inserted a copy:
7 "From Aurelian, Emperor of the Roman world and recoverer of the East, to Zenobia and all others who are bound to her by alliance in war. 8 You should have done of your own free will what I now command in my letter. For I bid you surrender, promising that your lives shall be spared, and with the condition that you, Zenobia, together with your children shall dwell wherever I, acting in accordance with the wish of the most noble senate, shall appoint a place. 9 Your jewels, your gold, your silver, your silks, your horses, your camels, you shall all hand over to the Roman treasury. As for the people of Palmyra, their rights shall be preserved."
§ 27 On receiving this letter Zenobia responded with more pride and insolence than befitted her fortunes, I suppose with a view to inspiring fear; for a copy of her letter, too, I have inserted:
2 "From Zenobia, Queen of the East, to Aurelian Augustus. None save yourself has ever demanded by letter what you now demand. Whatever must be accomplished in matters of war must be done by valour alone. 3 You demand my surrender as though you were not aware that Cleopatra preferred to die a Queen rather than remain alive, however high her rank. 4 We shall not lack reinforcements from Persia, which we are even now expecting. On our side are the Saracens, on our side, too, the Armenians. 5 The brigands of Syria have defeated your army, Aurelian. What more need be said? If those forces, then, which we are expecting from every side, shall arrive, you will, of a surety, lay aside that arrogance with which you now command my surrender, as though victorious on every side."
6 This letter, Nicomachus says, was dictated by Zenobia herself and translated by him into Greek from the Syrian tongue. For that earlier letter of Aurelian's was written in Greek.
§ 28 On receiving this letter Aurelian felt no shame, but rather was angered, and at once he gathered together from every side his soldiers and leaders and laid siege to Palmyra; and that brave man gave his attention to everything that seemed incomplete or neglected. 2 For he cut off the reinforcements which the Persians had sent, and he tampered with the squadrons of Saracens and Armenians, bringing them over to his own side, some by forcible means and some by cunning. Finally, by a mighty effort he conquered that most powerful woman. 3 Zenobia, then, conquered, fled away on camels (which they call dromedaries), but while seeking to reach the Persians she was captured by the horseman sent after her, and thus she was brought into the power of Aurelian.
4 And so Aurelian, victorious and in possession of the entire East, more proud and insolent now that he held Zenobia in chains, dealt with the Persians, Armenians, and Saracens as the needs of the occasion demanded. 5 Then were brought in those garments, encrusted with jewels, which we now see in the Temple of the Sun, then, too, the Persian dragon-flags and head-dresses, and a species of purple such as no nation ever afterward offered or the Roman world beheld.
§ 29 Concerning this I desire to say at least a few words. For you remember that there was in the Temple of Jupiter Best and Greatest on the Capitolium a short woollen cloak of a purple hue, by the side of which all other purple garments, brought by the matrons and by Aurelian himself, seemed to fade to the colour of ashes in comparison with its divine brilliance. 2 This cloak, brought from the farthest Indies, the King of the Persians is said to have presented as a gift to Aurelian, writing as follows: "Accept a purple robe, such as we ourselves use." 3 But this was untrue. For later both Aurelian and Probus and, most recently, Diocletian made most diligent search for this species of purple, sending out their most diligent agents, but even so it could not be found. But indeed it is said that the Indian sandyx yields this kind of purple if properly prepared.
§ 30 But to return to my undertaking: despite all this, there arose a terrible uproar among all the soldiers, who demanded Zenobia for punishment. 2 Aurelian, however, deeming it improper that a woman should be put to death, killed many who had advised her to begin and prepare and wage the war, but the woman he saved for his triumph, wishing to show her to the eyes of the Roman people. 3 It was regarded as a cruel thing that Longinus the philosopher should have been among those who were killed. He, it is said, was employed by Zenobia as her teacher in Greek letters, and Aurelian is said to have slain him because he was told that that over-proud letter of hers had been dictated in accord with his counsel, although, in fact, it was composed in the Syrian tongue.
4 And so, having subdued the East, Aurelian returned as a victor to Europe, and there he defeated the forces of the Carpi; and when the senate gave him in his absence the surname Carpicus, he sent them this message, it is said, as a jest: "It now only remains for you, Conscript Fathers, to call me Carpisculus also" — 5 for it is well known that carpisclum is a kind of boot. This surname appeared to him as ignoble, since he was already called both Gothicus and Sarmaticus and Armeniacus and Parthicus and Adiabenicus.
§ 31 It is a rare thing, or rather, a difficult thing, for the Syrians to keep faith. For the Palmyrenes, who had once been defeated and crushed, now that Aurelian was busied with matters in Europe, began a rebellion of no small size. 2 For they killed Sandario, whom Aurelian had put in command of the garrison there, and with him six hundred bowmen, thus getting the rule for a certain Achilleus, a kinsman of Zenobia's. 3 But Aurelian, indeed, prepared as he always was, came back from Rhodope and, because it deserved it, destroyed the city. 4 In fact, Aurelian's cruelty, or, as some say, his sternness, is so widely known that they even quote a letter of his, revealing a confession of most savage fury; of this the following is a copy:
5 "From Aurelian Augustus to Cerronius Bassus. The swords of the soldiers should not proceed further. Already enough Palmyrenes have been killed and slaughtered. We have not spared the women, we have slain the children, we have butchered the old men, we have destroyed the peasants. 6 To whom, at this rate, shall we leave the land or the city? Those who still remain must be spared. For it is our belief that the few have been chastened by the punishment of the many. 7 Now as to the Temple of the Sun at Palmyra, which has been pillaged by the eagle-bearers of the Third Legion, along with the standard-bearers, the dragon-bearer, and the buglers and trumpeters, I wish it restored to the condition in which it formerly was. 8 You have three hundred pounds of gold from Zenobia's coffers, you have eighteen hundred pounds of silver from the property of the Palmyrenes, and you have the royal jewels. 9 Use all these to embellish the temple; thus both to me and to the immortal gods you will do a most pleasing service. I will write to the senate and request it to send one of the pontiffs to dedicate the temple." 10 This letter, as we can see, shows that the savagery of the hard-hearted prince had been glutted.
§ 32 At length, now more secure, he returned again to Europe, and there, with his well-known valour, he crushed all the enemies who were roving about. 2 Meanwhile, when Aurelian was performing great deeds in the provinces of Thrace as well as in all Europe, there rose up a certain Firmus, who laid claim to Egypt, but without the imperial insignia and as though he purposed to make it into a free state. 3 Without delay Aurelian turned back against him, and there also his wonted good-fortune did not abandon him. For he recovered Egypt at once and took vengeance on the enterprise — violent in temper, as he always was; and then, being greatly angered that Tetricus still held the provinces of Gaul, he departed to the West and there took over the legions which were surrendered to him — for Tetricus betrayed his own troops since he could not endure their evil deeds. 4 And so Aurelian, now ruler over the entire world, having subdued both the East and the Gauls, and victor in all lands, turned his march toward Rome, that he might present to the gaze of the Romans a triumph over both Zenobia and Tetricus, that is, over both the East and the West.
§ 33 It is not without advantage to know what manner of triumph Aurelian had, for it was a most brilliant spectacle. 2 There were three royal chariots, of which the first, carefully wrought and adorned with silver and gold and jewels, had belonged to Odaenathus, the second, also wrought with similar care, had been given to Aurelian by the king of the Persians, and the third Zenobia had made for herself, hoping in it to visit the city of Rome. And this hope was not unfulfilled; for she did, indeed, enter the city in it, but vanquished and led in triumph. 3 There was also another chariot, drawn by four stags and said to have once belonged to the king of the Goths. In this — so many have handed down to memory — Aurelian rode up to the Capitol, purposing there to slay the stags, which he had captured along with this chariot and then vowed, it was said, to Jupiter Best and Greatest. 4 There advanced, moreover, twenty elephants, and two hundred tamed beasts of divers kinds from Libya and Palestine, which Aurelian at once presented to private citizens, that the privy-purse might not be burdened with the cost of their food; furthermore, there were led along in order four tigers and also giraffes and elks and other such animals, also eight hundred pairs of gladiators besides the captives from the barbarian tribes. There were Blemmyes, Axomitae, Arabs from Arabia Felix, Indians, Bactrians, Hiberians, Saracens and Persians, all bearing their gifts; there were Goths, Alans, Roxolani, Sarmatians, Franks, Suebians, Vandals and Germans — all captive, with their hands bound fast. 5 There also advanced among them certain men of Palmyra, who had survived its fall, the foremost of the State, and Egyptians, too, because of their rebellion.
§ 34 There were led along also ten women, who, fighting in male attire, had been captured among the Goths after many others had fallen; these a placard declared to be of the race of the Amazons — for placards were borne before all, displaying the names of their nations. 2 In the procession was Tetricus also, arrayed in scarlet cloak, a yellow tunic, and Gallic trousers, and with him his son, whom he had proclaimed in Gaul as emperor. 3 And there came Zenobia, too, decked with jewels and in golden chains, the weight of which was borne by others. There were carried aloft golden crowns presented by all the cities, made known by placards carried aloft. 4 Then came the Roman people itself, the flags of the guilds and the camps, the mailed cuirassiers, the wealth of the kings, the entire army, and, lastly, the senate (albeit somewhat sadly, since they saw senators, too, being led in triumph) — all adding much to the splendour of the procession. 5 Scarce did they reach the Capitol by the ninth hour of the day, and when they arrived at the Palace it was late indeed. 6 On the following days amusements were given to the populace, plays in the theatres, races in the Circus, wild-beast hunts, gladiatorial fights and also a naval battle.
§ 35 I think that I should not omit what both the people remember and the truth of history has made current, namely, that Aurelian, at the time of his setting out for the East, promised, if he came back victorious, to give to the populace crowns weighing two pounds apiece; the populace, however, expected crowns of gold, and these Aurelian either could not or would not give, and so he had crowns made of the bread now called wheaten and gave one to each separate man, providing that each and every one might receive his wheaten bread every day of his life and hand on his right to his heirs. 2 The same Aurelian, too, gave the allowance of pork to the Roman people which is given them also to-day.
3 He enacted very many laws, and salutary ones indeed. He set the priesthoods in order, he constructed the Temple of the Sun, and he founded its college of pontiffs; and he also allotted funds for making repairs and paying attendants.
4 After doing these things, he set out for the regions of Gaul and delivered the Vindelici from a barbarian inroad; then he returned to Illyricum and having made ready an army, which was large, though not of inordinate size, he declared war on the Persians, whom he had already defeated with the greatest glory at the time that he conquered Zenobia. 5 While on his way thither, however, he was murdered at Caenophrurium, a station between Heraclea and Byzantium, through the hatred of his clerk but by the hand of Mucapor.
§ 36 Both the reason for his murder and the manner in which he was slain I will set forth briefly, that a matter of such moment may not remain concealed. 2 Aurelian — it cannot be denied — was a stern, a savage, and a blood-thirsty prince. 3 And so, when he pushed his sternness to the length of slaying his sister's daughter without any good or sufficient reason, he incurred, first of all, the hate of his own kinsmen. 4 It came to pass, moreover, as things do happen by decree of fate, that he roused the anger of a certain Mnestheus — his freedman, some say — whom he had employed as his confidential clerk, because he had threatened him, suspecting him on some ground or other. 5 Now Mnestheus, knowing that Aurelian neither threatened in vain nor pardoned when he had threatened, drew up a list of names, in which he mixed together both those at whom Aurelian was truly angry and those toward whom he bore no ill-will, including his own name also, in order thereby to lend greater credence to the fear that he sought to inspire. This list he read to the various persons whose names were contained therein, adding that Aurelian had made arrangements to have them all put to death, and that, if they were really men, they should save their lives. 6 Thereupon all were aroused, those who had deserved his anger being moved by fear, and those who were innocent by sorrow, since Aurelian seemed ungrateful for their services and their fidelity, and so they suddenly attacked the Emperor while on the march in the aforesaid place, and put him to death.
§ 37 Such was the end of Aurelian, a prince who was necessary rather than good. After he was slain and the facts became known, those very men who had killed him gave him a mighty tomb and a temple. 2 Mnestheus, however, was afterward haled away to a stake and exposed to wild beasts, as is shown by the marble statues set up on either hand in that same place, where also statues were erected on columns in honour of the Deified Aurelian. 3 The senate mourned his death greatly, but the Roman people still more, for they commonly used to say that Aurelian was the senators' task-master. 4 He ruled six years save for a few days, and because of his great exploits he was given a place among the deified princes.
5 An incident related in history I must not fail to include, inasmuch as it has to do with Aurelian. For it is told by many that Quintillus, Claudius's brother, in command of a garrison in Italy, on hearing of Claudius' death seized the imperial power. 6 But later, when it was known that Aurelian was emperor, he was abandoned by all his army; and when he had made a speech attacking Aurelian and the soldiers refused to listen, he severed his veins and died on the twentieth day of his rule.
7 Now whatever crimes there were, whatever guilty plans or harmful practices, and, lastly, whatever plots — all these Aurelian purged away throughout the entire world.
§ 38 This also, I think, has to do with my theme, namely, that it was in the name of her son Vaballathus and not in that of Timolaus or Hennianus that Zenobia held the imperial power, which she did really hold.
2 There was also during the rule of Aurelian a revolt among the mint-workers, under the leadership of Felicissimus, the supervisor of the privy-purse. This revolt he crushed with the utmost vigour and harshness, but still seven thousand of his soldiers were slain, as is shown by a letter addressed to Ulpius Crinitus, thrice consul, by whom he had formerly been adopted:
3 "From Aurelian Augustus to Ulpius his father. Just as though it were ordained for me by Fate that all the wars that I wage and all commotions only become more difficult, so also a revolt within the city has stirred up for me a most grievous struggle. For under the leadership of Felicissimus, the lowest of all my slaves, to whom I had committed the care of the privy-purse, the mint-workers have shown the spirit of rebellion. 4 They have indeed been crushed, but with the loss of seven thousand men, boatmen, bank-troops, camp-troops and Dacians. Hence it is clear that the immortal gods have granted me no victory without some hardship."
§ 39 Tetricus, whom he had led in triumph, he created supervisor of Lucania, and his son he retained in the senate. 2 The Temple of the Sun he founded with great magnificence. He so extended the wall of the city of Rome that its circuit was nearly fifty miles long. 3 He punished with inordinate harshness both informers and false accusers. In order to increase the sense of security of the citizens in general, he gave orders that the records of debts due the State should be burned once and for all in the Forum of Trajan. 4 Under him also an "amnesty" for offences against the State was decreed according to the example of the Athenians, which Cicero also cites in his Philippics. 5 Thieving officials in the provinces, accused of extortion or embezzlement, he punished with more than the usual military severity, inflicting on them unwonted penalties and sufferings. 6 He dedicated great quantities of gold and jewels in the Temple of the Sun. 7 On seeing that Illyricum was devastated and Moesia was in a ruinous state, he abandoned the province of Trans-Danubian Dacia, which had been formed by Trajan, and led away both soldiers and provincials, giving up hope that it could be retained. The people whom he moved out from it he established in Moesia, and gave to this district, which now divides the two provinces of Moesia, the name of Dacia.
8 It is said, furthermore, that so great was his cruelty that he brought against many senators a false accusation of conspiracy and intention to seize the throne, merely in order that it might be easier to put them to death. 9 Some say, besides, that it was the son of his sister, and not her daughter that he killed, many, however, that he slew the son as well.
§ 40 How difficult it is to choose an emperor in the place of a good ruler is shown both by the dignified action of a revered senate and by the power exerted by a wise army. 2 For when this sternest of princes was slain, the army referred to the senate the business of choosing an emperor, for the reason that it believed that no one of those should be chosen who had slain such an excellent ruler. 3 The senate, however, thrust this selection back on the army, knowing well that the emperors whom the senate selected were no longer gladly received by the troops. 4 Finally, for the third time, the choice was referred, and so for the space of six months the Roman world was without a ruler, and all those governors whom either the senate or Aurelian had chosen remained at their posts, save only that Faltonius Probus was appointed proconsul of Asia in the place of Arellius Fuscus.
§ 41 It is not without interest to insert the letter itself which the army sent to the senate:
"From the brave and victorious troops to the senate and the people of Rome. Aurelian our emperor has been slain through the guile of one man and the blunder of good and evil alike. 2 Do you, now, our revered lords and Conscript Fathers, place Aurelian among the gods and send us as prince one of your own number, whom you deem a worthy man. For none of those who have erred or committed crime will we suffer to be our emperor."
3 To this a reply was made by decree of the senate. When on the third day before the Nones of February the most high senate had assembled in the Senate-house of Pompilius, Aurelius Gordianus, the consul, said: "We now lay before you, Conscript Fathers, the letter from our most victorious army." 4 When this letter was read, Tacitus, whose right it was to give his opinion first (it was he, moreover, who was acclaimed as emperor after Aurelian by the voice of all), spoke as follows: 5 "Well and wisely would the immortal gods have planned, Conscript Fathers, had they but rendered good emperors invulnerable to steel, for so they would have longer lives and those have no power against them who with most grievous intent contrive abominable murder. 6 And if it were so, our emperor Aurelian would still be alive, than whom none was ever more brave or more beneficial. 7 For after the misfortune of Valerian and the evil ways of Gallienus our commonwealth did indeed under Claudius's rule begin to breathe once more, but Aurelian it was who won victories throughout the entire world and restored it again to its former state. 8 He it was who gave us back the provinces of Gaul, he who set Italy free, he who removed from the Vindelici the yoke of barbarian enslavement. He by his victories won back Illyricum and brought again the districts of Thrace under the laws of Rome. 9 He restored to our sway the Orient, crushed down (oh, the shame of it!) beneath the yoke of a woman, he defeated and routed and destroyed the Persians, still vaunting themselves in the death of Valerian. 10 He was revered as a god, almost as though present in person, by the Saracens, the Blemmyes, the Axomitae, the Bactrians, the Seres, the Hiberians, the Albanians, the Armenians, and even by the peoples of India. 11 His donations, won from barbarian tribes, fill the Capitol; by his liberality one temple alone contains fifteen thousand pounds of gold, and with his gifts all the shrines in the city are gleaming. 12 Wherefore, Conscript Fathers, I could justly bring charges against even the very gods, who suffered such a prince to perish, were it not that perchance they preferred to have him among themselves. 13 I therefore propose divine honours, and these I believe you all will bestow. With regard to the choice of an emperor, indeed, you should refer it, I think, to this army. 14 For in a proposal of this kind, unless that which is urged be done, there is both danger for those who are chosen and odium for those who choose." 15 The proposal of Tacitus found favour; but after the matter had been referred back again and again, by decree of the senate Tacitus, as we shall relate in his Life, was chosen as emperor.
§ 42 Aurelian left only a daughter, whose descendants are even now in Rome. 2 For Aurelianus, proconsul of Cilicia, a most excellent senator in his own true right and venerated for his manner of life, who now is living in Sicily, is a grandson of hers.
3 Now what shall I say of this, that whereas so many have borne the name of Caesar, there have appeared among them so few good emperors? For the list of those who have worn the purple from Augustus to the Emperors Diocletian and Maximian is contained in the public records. 4 Among them, however, the best were Augustus himself, Flavius Vespasian, Titus Flavius, Cocceius Nerva, the Deified Trajan, the Deified Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Antoninus, Severus the African, Alexander the son of Mamaea, the Deified Claudius, and the Deified Aurelian. For Valerian, though a most excellent man, was by his misfortune set apart from them all. 5 Observe, I pray you, how few in number are the good emperors, so that it has well been said by a jester on the stage in the time of this very Claudius that the names and the portraits of the good emperors could be engraved on a single ring. 6 But, on the other hand, what a list of the evil! For, to say nought of a Vitellius, a Caligula, or a Nero, who could endure a Maximinus, a Philip, or the lowest dregs of that disorderly crew? I should, however, except the Decii, who in their lives and their deaths should be likened to the ancients.
§ 43 The question, indeed, is often asked what it is that makes emperors evil; first of all, my friend, it is freedom from restraint, next, abundance of wealth, furthermore, unscrupulous friends, pernicious attendants, the greediest eunuchs, courtiers who are fools or knaves, and — it cannot be denied — ignorance of public affairs. 2 And yet I have heard from my father that the emperor Diocletian, while still a commoner, declared that nothing was harder than to rule well. 3 Four or five men gather together and form one plan for deceiving the emperor, and then they tell him to what he must give his approval. 4 Now the emperor, who is shut up in his palace, cannot know the truth. He is forced to know only what these men tell him, he appoints as judges those who should not be appointed, and removes from public office those whom he ought to retain. Why say more? As Diocletian himself was wont to say, the favour of even a good and wise and righteous emperor is often sold. 5 These were Diocletian's own words, and I have inserted them here for the very purpose that your wisdom might understand that nothing is harder than to be a good ruler.
§ 44 Now Aurelian, indeed, is placed by many among neither the good nor the evil emperors for the reason that he lacked the quality of mercy, that foremost dowry of an emperor. 2 In fact, Verconnius Herennianus, Diocletian's prefect of the guard, used often to say — or so Asclepiodotus bears witness — that Diocletian, in finding fault with Maximian's harshness, frequently said that Aurelian ought to have been a general rather than an emperor. So displeasing to Diocletian was Aurelian's excessive ferocity.
3 This may perhaps seem a marvellous thing that was learned by Diocletian and is said to have been related by Asclepiodotus to Celsinus his counsellor, but concerning it posterity will be the judge. 4 For he used to relate that on a certain occasion Aurelian consulted the Druid priestesses in Gaul and inquired of them whether the imperial power would remain with his descendants, but they replied, he related, that none would have a name more illustrious in the commonwealth than the descendants of Claudius. 5 And, in fact, Constantius is now our emperor, a man of Claudius' blood, whose descendants, I ween, will attain to that glory which the Druids foretold. And this I have put in the Life of Aurelian for the reason that this response was made to him when he inquired in person.
§ 45 Aurelian set aside for the city of Rome the revenues from Egypt, consisting of glass, paper, linen, and hemp, in fact, the products on which a perpetual tax was paid in kind. 2 He planned to erect a public bath in the Transtiberine district as a winter bath since here there was no supply of fairly cold water.a He began to construct a forum, named after himself, at Ostia on the sea, in the place where, later, the public magistrates' office was built. 3 He gave wealth to his friends with wisdom and moderation, in order that they might avoid the ills of poverty and yet, because of the moderate size of their fortunes, escape the envy that riches bring. 4 Clothing made wholly of silk he would neither keep in his own wardrobe nor present to anyone else for his use; 5 and when his wife besought him to keep a single robe of purple silk, he replied, "God forbid that a fabric should be worth its weight in gold." For at that time a pound of silk was worth a pound of gold.
§ 46 He had in mind to forbid the use of gold on ceilings and tunic and leather and also the gilding of silver, but the gold was wasted by being used variously as gold-leaf, spun gold, and gold that is melted down, while the silver was kept for its proper use. 2 He had, indeed, given permission that those who wished might use golden vessels and goblets. 3 He furthermore granted permission to commoners to have coaches adorned with silver, whereas they had previously had only carriages ornamented with bronze or ivory. 4 He also allowed matrons to have tunics and other garments of purple, whereas they had had before only fabrics of changeable colours, or, as frequently, of a bright pink. 5 He also was the first to allow private soldiers to have clasps of gold, whereas formerly they had had them of silver. 6 He, too, was the first to give tunics having bands of embroidery to his troops, whereas previously they had received only straight-woven tunics of purple, and to some he presented tunics with one band, to others those having two bands or three bands and even up to five bands, like the tunics to-day made of linen.
§ 47 To the loaves of bread for the city of Rome he added one ounce, which he got from the revenues from Egypt, as he himself boasts in a certain letter addressed to the prefect of the city's supply of grain:
2 "From Aurelian Augustus to Flavius Arabianus, the prefect of the grain supply. Among the various ways in which, with the aid of the gods, we have benefited the Roman commonwealth, there is nothing in which I take greater pride than that by adding an ounce I have increased every kind of grain for the city. 3 And to the end that this may be lasting, I have appointed additional boatmen on the Nile in Egypt and on the river in Rome, I have built up the banks of the Tiber, I have dug out the shallow places in its rising bed, I have taken vows to the god and the Goddess of Perpetual Harvests, and I have consecrated a statue of fostering Ceres. 4 It is now your task, my dearest Arabianus, to make every effort that my arrangements may not be in vain. For nothing can be more joyous than the Roman people when sufficiently fed."
§ 48 He had planned also to give free wine to the people of Rome, in order that they might be supplied with it as they were with oil and bread and pork, all free of cost, and he had designed to make this perpetual by means of the following arrangement. 2 In Etruria, all along the Aurelian Way as far as the Maritime Alps, there are vast tracts of land, rich and well wooded. He planned, therefore, to pay their price to the owners of these uncultivated lands, provided they wished to sell, and to settle thereon families of slaves captured in war, and then to plant the hills with vines, and by this means to produce wine, which was to yield no profit to the privy-purse but to be given entirely to the people of Rome. He had also made provision for the vats, the casks, the ships, and the labour. 3 Many, however, say that Aurelian was cut off before he carried this out, others that he was restrained by his prefect of the guard, who is said to have remarked: "If we give wine to the Roman people, it only remains for us to give them also chickens and geese." 4 There is, indeed, proof that Aurelian really considered this measure, or, rather, made arrangements for carrying it out and even did so to some extent; for wine belonging to the privy-purse is stored in the porticos of the Temple of the Sun, which the people could obtain, not free of cost but at a price. 5 It should be known, however, that he thrice distributed largess among them, and that he gave to the Roman people white tunics with long sleeves, brought from the various provinces, and pure linen ones from Africa and Egypt, and that he was the first to give handkerchiefs to the Roman people, to be waved in showing approval.
§ 49 He disliked, when at Rome, to reside in the Palace, and preferred to live in the Gardens of Sallust or the Gardens of Domitia. 2 In fact, he built a portico in the Gardens of Sallust one thousand feet long, in which he would exercise daily both himself and his horses, even though he were not in good health. 3 His slaves and attendants who were guilty of crime he would order to be slain in his own presence, for the purpose, some say, of keeping up discipline, or, according to others, through sheer love of cruelty. 4 One of his maid-servants, who had committed adultery with a fellow-slave, he punished with death, 5 and many slaves from his own household, who had committed offences, he delivered over to public courts to be heard according to law.
6 He had planned to restore to the matrons their senate, or rather senaculum, with the provision that those should rank first therein who had attained to priesthoods with the senate's approval. 7 He forbade men to wear boots of purple or wax-colour or white or the colour of ivy, but allowed them to women. He permitted the senators to have runners dressed like his own. 8 He forbade the keeping of free-born women as concubines, and limited the possession of eunuchs to those who had a senator's rating, for the reason that they had reached inordinate prices. 9 His silver vessels never went beyond thirty pounds in weight, and his banquets consisted mostly of roasted meats. He took most pleasure in red wine.
§ 50 When ill he never summoned a physician, but always cured himself, chiefly by abstaining from food. 2 He held a yearly celebration of the Sigillaria for his wife and daughter, like any private citizen. 3 To his slaves he gave when emperor the same kind of clothing that he had given them when a commoner, save for two old men, Antistius and Gillo, who received many privileges from him, just as though they were freedmen, and who after his death were set free by vote of the senate. 4 His amusements, indeed, were few, but he took marvellous pleasure in actors and had the greatest delight in a gourmand, who could eat vast amounts to such an extent that in one single day he devoured, in front of Aurelian's own table, an entire wild boar, one hundred loaves of bread, a sheep and a pig, and, putting a funnel to his mouth, drank more than a caskful.
5 Except for certain internal riotings his reign was most prosperous. The Roman people loved him, while the senate held him in fear.