Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/256

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206
CHAP.
LIFE OF ELAGABALUS

that he had published many volumes before the death of Septimius Severus, in whose council, according to Digest xxix., he had a place. His first office seems to have been that of Praetor, and thence by regular stages he climbed to that of Praefect of Rome, finishing with the height of all ambition, the Praefecture of the Praetorium, and as such he was a Senator of the Empire. Tristran—who knew about as much of the lady personally as you or I can—has remarked that Julia was beautiful. His taste is certainly not a modern one, as her effigy represents her with a sharp beaky face, and a long scraggy neck. This author, with some show of fairness, attempts to justify his statement by a truism, namely, that the Emperor was such a connoisseur of beauty that he would never have chosen a lady who had not this necessary qualification. Precisely, but did Antonine choose the lady at all? The probabilities are that she was well over thirty at the time of the marriage, and that the Emperor had neither seen nor heard of her before she was presented to him by his relations, on his arrival in Rome; in fact, that this marriage was a political move by means of which the official classes were closely allied with the imperial house.

We have already described the pomp and circumstance with which this wedding was celebrated, the games, with their lavish waste of animal life, amongst the rarest of known beasts, the congiary and donative. As this is the sole mention of such splendour on the occasion of Antonine's committing matrimony, which holy estate he is said to have