Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/276

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224
CHAP.
LIFE OF ELAGABALUS

ing the adoption. Dion relates that he then took two nameless women to wife, finally returning to Aquilia Severa. The first part of the statement is obviously a fiction. All Antonine, or any one of his temperament, wanted from a wife was friendship and affection; this he certainly had in Aquilia, whom he only divorced as a precautionary measure, and whom he certainly took back just as soon as he could get rid of Annia.

Of course, to divorce Annia, a really important imperial lady, was a disagreeable step; it would alienate the whole of the upper classes, unless he could show reason for the change. Annia, by the extreme eagerness with which she had jumped at the chance of being Empress, was certainly not going to be party to the divorce—not that her consent was necessary in such times of freedom, when divorce was of daily occurrence, even in the best regulated families. Cicero divorced his wife, we are told, because she did not idolise him; Caesar his, on the pretext that she ought to be above suspicion. Certainly no actual misconduct was necessary, unless the whim of the moment be regarded as such. Antonine exercised this right to act on his whim, or rather on his knowledge that the lady was an unnecessary burden, but it cost him dear, the lady was not born to take such snubs in a chastened spirit, even if her imperial relations liked to adopt that attitude, which is, to say the least of it, an unlikely supposition.

The odd ladies may be ignored. Dion says they were wives, not concubines. But time did not