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The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus/Chapter VII

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CHAPTER VII
supplementary matter concerning the years
221-222
Antonine's Government from 221 to 222 a.d.

The events of the years 221 and until March 222 are mainly a record of internecine fights and struggles ; the Emperor was trying to retain his position in the state, the women leaving no stone unturned to possess themselves of power in Alexander's name. We have traced the events which led to the adoption of Alexander, and noticed the small amount of power which his position as heir to the Empire actually put into the hands of Maesa and Mamaea. We have seen further how the repudiation of the adoption by Antonine lessened even this modicum of power, and how the successful attempt to make Alexander Consul gained for their puppet the official position from which the terms of his adoption had excluded him. Once that position was secured, we have watched the successful plot against the Emperor's life, which placed Maesa and Mamaea in actual command of the state under the merely nominal headship of Alexander. It only remains for us to follow the governmental acts of these last months of Antonine's life, as far as the authorities will allow.

The first recorded action after the adoption of Alexander was one of religion. The ostensible object of the ceremony on 10th July, or rather earlier, had been to free the chief priest of Elagabal from his secular duties, in order that he might further the worship of the Great God. To this end, Antonine instituted a magnificent religious procession through the city, taking his God from the temple on the Palatine to that in the suburbs. Herodian, with his usual inaccuracy, announces that this ceremony took place each year at midsummer. Now, the temple on the Palatine was not finished by midsummer of the year 220, judging from the coins which celebrate the expansion of the cult, and that near the Porta Praenestina was even later in its completion. The inference is, therefore, that the procession could not possibly have taken place in the year 220 at midsummer. Further evidence is, however, forthcoming; Cohen mentions certain Roman coins struck in honour of the procession; they show the God on a car, and date from the latter part of the year 221, by which time the suburban temple was finished and the procession certainly took place.

Before midsummer in the year 222, according to Dion, Antonine was dead. He did not therefore conduct the Elagabal procession, and as the authors inform us that Alexander sent the God back to Emesa with considerable expedition, after reconsecrating the temple to Jupiter, it is very unlikely Taeh175.jpg Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/223 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/224 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/225 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/226 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/227 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/228 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/229 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/230 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/231 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/232 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/233 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/234 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/235 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/236 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/237 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/238 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/239 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/240 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/241 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/242 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/243 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/244

The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu

Coin of A.D. 220, misread by Cohen as T.P. III Cos. IIII (British Museum).

Coin of A.D. 221, misread by Cohen as T.P. IIII Cos. IIII (British Museum).

Coin of A.D. 222 (British Museum).

Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/247 198 LIFE OF ELAGABALUS chap. there is no need to transpose the numbers, which is an alternative theory to that stated above. The evidence from the coins is quite conclusive. The Emperor renewed his dual powers either on the same day, ist January, or on a day immediately succeeding. As Eckhel pointed out in 1792 there is no coin which, if the date be correctly read, gives any countenance to any other theory, while all such are unnecessary and at variance with known facts. Lampridius gives us a certain amount of evidence that the Emperor took an interest in the affairs of state all through his life, both by his account of Antonine's sagacity as a judge, and his desire to appoint fourteen praefects of the city, under the headship of the Imperial Praefectus Urbis or Urbi. Naturally, the desire is attributed to base motives, namely, in order to benefit unworthy persons. The scheme, Lampridius tells us, was actually carried into operation during Alexander's reign, and is then applauded as useful and necessary, an obvious bit of special pleading on one side or the other. It is with a singularly unanimous voice that the authors announce the general execration against the memory of Antonine, and the joy shown by the populace in dragging his dead body about the city. All are certain that the Senate made a general order to deface the name of Antonine on all monuments and documents through the Empire, as soon as that dishonoured Emperor was safely out of the way. - The unanimity is wonderful ; all the more won- derful because so utterly unusual. Unfortunately, it is in no way borne out by the inscriptions. We have Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/249 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/250 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/251 Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/252

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