Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/139

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whose residence was the Pantheon and whose rites were obscene ; but such was not Antonine's scheme, even primus inter pares was impossible. Elagabal was over all supreme ; even Jupiter Capitolinus, Jehovah, and Vesta must serve the one God. But Rome, whose atriums dripped not blood but metaphysics, knew too well the futility of all Gods to wish for any exclusive cult ; such must fall to the washerwomen, because they were unwanted, unlearned, barbaric, and out of date. But the Emperor persisted, which annoyed his grandmother and other people hugely (she seems to have been generally annoyed, however, so this may be taken as said on other occasions). She had told the boy at Emesa that religion was only a means to the end, and he, with his usual contrariness, had flouted her opinion, backed up by his mother, and persisted in making it the main end of his life. In so doing he went clean contrary to the Zeitgeist, and eventually suffered for his folly in not hanging up the fishing-net when once the fish was landed. Xiphilinus makes another egregious mistake in declaring that Antonine caused the Senate to declare him priest of Elagabal, since it was the possession of that hereditary rank or office which had paved the way to empire at all. Again, we are asked to believe that to this period belong his circumcision and resolve to abstain from hogs' flesh, whereas Cheyne considers that these two religious peculiarities were common to all Syrian religious, as well as to the Egyptian and Semitic peoples, and dated with him in all probability from the usual age at which