Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/145

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struck, not so much by this fact, as by the necessary conclusion that he could never have had the opportunity of being anything else. His faults are admittedly the faults of children, magnified by the fact that he was a child suddenly placed in the unfortunate position where all restraint from outside was impossible, and where his wayward petulancy forbade any to tempt the trial. To him the possession of supreme power meant the holding of limitless privileges, with practically no training for the responsibilities involved. The whole position calls for our pity rather than our censure, if we realise that his only training was neurotic or religious, and phallic at that. All things considered, it is a marvel that no deeds of murder, rapine, envy, hatred, or malice have been laid to his charge, even by his enemies ; such as have been laid to the charge not only of his predecessors, but even at the door of those whom the world honours as the righteous, the salt of the earth. No history is immaculate. If it were, it would relate to a better world ; unable to be immaculate, history is usually stupid, more usually false. Concerning Elagabalus, it has contrived to be absurd, by means of the impossibility of the statements for which it attempts to offer neither proof nor likelihood.

It is during this period at Nicomedia, we are told by the historians of the reign, that his popularity disappears — a statement which, on the evidence of the medals and inscriptions, as well as from what we know of his extraordinary generosity, is and must be utterly false. A further statement that the