Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/135

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route. For many reasons the journey was slow and difficult ; the dignity of the God had to be considered ; the procession across Asia would take some weeks. We have no idea as to the route taken, though Roerth has informed us of an inscription from Prusias, where, he says, the Emperor stayed ; if so, it was probably his last halting-place before Nicomedia, where he had decided to winter instead of trusting himself on the billows of a wintry sea. It was here that Antonine's imperial life actually began ; here, under the eastern sky and surrounded by the pomp and colour of the Orient, that the Emperor shaped his reign, and developed the two main features of his life — his religion and his psychology.

Before discussing either of these, however, it will be well to sum up what we know of the work done during this winter spent in Asia Minor. According to Hydatius' statement, drawn from the Consularia Constantinopolitana, Antonine ordered the records of indebtedness to the fiscus to be burnt, which burning took thirty days. If the story be true, it was either a foolish waste of indebtedness to the government, or an acknowledgment of the hopelessness of collecting the debts, though how the new government could have grasped this fact so quickly is not recorded ; in any case, it was a real bid for popularity.

Much time would also be spent in the legal proceedings which settled the fate of the various pretenders, malcontents, and traitors. Again, the consideration of grants to legions, fitting rewards for assistance given in time of need, in fact the thousand