Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/253

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CHAPTER VIII

the wives of the emperor


This Antonine has been accused of building the Cloaca Maxima, into which, a century later, all Rome rolled, largely on the grounds that he divorced at least three wives, and was himself wife of the Chariot Driver Hierocles, amongst others of his unusually numerous acquaintance.

The imputation of excavating in Rome cannot be attributed to Elagabalus alone. Augustus had done a little digging there, but hypocritically, as he did everything else, devising ethical laws as a cloak for turpitudes of his own; Caligula had done the same, so had Nero, Hadrian, and Caracalla. Maecenas divorced himself and remarried twenty times, as both ceremonies were less expensive than they are to-day. Suetonius said of Caligula that it was uncertain which was the vilest, the unions he contracted, their brevity, or their cause. With such examples, it was inevitable that ordinary people should unite but to part, and that insensibly the law should annul as a caprice, a clause that defined marriage as the inseparable life.

Under the Caesars, marriage became a temporary

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