Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/269

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VIII
217
WIVES OF THE EMPEROR

was no friend of the elderly Maesa, or the cross-grained mother of Alexianus, both of whom wished her so ill. Serviez is by no means complimentary to Severa, on account of the avidity with which she changed her position. He calls her ambition unbounded, though it is very doubtful whether, placed in a similar position, any one of us would have refused the flattery, and undoubted compliment made to our superlative worth.

The title of Augusta, of which Julia Cornelia Paula had been relieved, was conferred on Aquilia, and doubtless the Emperor looked forward to some considerable degree of felicity in the company of a woman of whose marriage every one disapproved.

As we know, Antonine found out quite soon that he had made a vital mistake; that he had attacked the one superstition that Rome would not allow to be touched, and, with extreme reluctance, he sent both the Goddess and her Vestal back to their appropriate dwellings. Antonine has been censured right royally both for his marriage and for the consequent divorce. Now, if the marriage were wrong, as all the authors say, surely the divorce was right; certainly Rome thought so, since his compliance with national wishes seems to have won men over, and appeased their minds, thus restoring the Emperor to his popularity. Why then did he further alienate them by remarrying Severa in the early part of the next year, as Dion and the coins relate? It is a mystery.

Antonine does not seem to have done anything at all for the family of this wife; there is no record