Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/152

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110
CHAP.
LIFE OF ELAGABALUS

1600 miles, would bring the family to Rome some time in the early part of June. It is, of course, conjectural, but allows time for the known events.

Once in Rome, we hear little good of the Emperor's life, conduct, administration, or abilities. Unfortunately, we have to deal in the main with Constantine's friend, Aelius Lampridius, a man whose biography is a cheap glorification of Alexander, combined with ignorant and perpetual abuse of Antonine's religion and psychology. All his statements in the way of fact could be compressed into half a page of any ordinary book of reference, and even these he manages to arrange so badly, or to draw from such conflicting sources, that they comprise simply a mass of futile contradictions.

The entry into the city is the record of a scandal which only Herodian perpetuates. This writer, as we have remarked, is nowhere famed for his accuracy; he tells us that the cortege was a rabble of women, eunuchs, and priests of the Sun who surrounded the Emperor. The boy was dressed in the silken robes worn by the priests of Syria. On his head was a jewelled tiara of Persian design, whilst his body was laden with rings, necklaces of pearls, bracelets, and other signs of vulgar ostentation; his cheeks were painted, his eyebrows darkened; in fact he was the very picture of an Egyptian or Assyrian courtesan. To finish with, we have a bit of morality, which tells us how he not only spoilt his real beauty by such extravagances, but made himself ridiculous in the eyes of gods and men by these borrowed plumes.