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Herodian's Roman History


Marcus Aurelius. Equestrian statue on the Capitol, Rome. Photo Marco Prins.
Herodian (late second, first half third century): Greek historian, author of a History of the Roman Empire since the Death of Marcus Aurelius (table of contents) in which he describes the reign of Commodus (180-192), the Year of the Five Emperors (193), the age of the Severan dynasty (211-235), and the Year of the Six Emperors (238).

The translation was made by Edward C. Echols (Herodian of Antioch's History of the Roman Empire, 1961 Berkeley and Los Angeles) and was put online for the first time by Roger Pearse (Tertullian.Org). The version offered on these pages is hyperlinked and contains notes by Jona Lendering.
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Coin of Clodius Albinus as caesar. Obverse.
Coin of Clodius Albinus as caesar. Obverse (©!!)

2.15: Clodius Albinus recognized as caesar

[Summer 193]  Severus made preparations for the war with great care. A thorough and cautious man, he had his doubts about the army in Britain, which was large and very  powerful, manned by excellent soldiers. Britain was then under the command of Albinus, a man of the senatorial order who had been reared in luxury on money inherited from his ancestors.

Severus, wishing to gain the friendship of this man, deceived him by a trick; he feared that Albinus, having strong stimuli to encourage him to seize the throne, and made bold by his ancestry and wealth, a powerful army, and his popularity among the Romans, might seize the empire and occupy Rome while Severus was busy with affairs in the East.

And so he deceived the man by pretending to do him honor. Albinus, conceited and somewhat naive in his judgment, really believed the many things which Severus swore on oath in his letters. Severus appointed him caesar, to anticipate his hope and desire for a share of the imperial power. 

He wrote Albinus the friendliest of letters, deceitful, of course, in which he begged the man to devote his attention to the welfare of the empire. He wrote him that the situation required a man of the nobility in the prime of life; he himself was old and afflicted with gout, and his sons were still very young. Believing Severus, Albinus gratefully accepted the honor, delighted to be getting what he wanted without fighting and without risk.

After making these same proposals to the Senate, to increase their faith in him, Severus ordered coins to be struck bearing his likeness, and he increased the favor he had won by erecting statues of himself and assuming the rest of the imperial honors. When he had, by his cunning, arranged matters securely with respect to Albinus and consequently had nothing to fear from Britain, the emperor, accompanied by the entire army of Illyricum, set out against Niger, convinced that he had arranged to his own advantage everything affecting his reign.

Where he halted on his march, what he said in each city, the portents that seemed to appear by divine foresight, the countries and conflicts, the number of men on each side who fell in battle, all these have been recorded fully enough by numerous historians and poets who have made the life of Severus the subject of their entire work. But it is my intent to write a chronological account of the exploits of many emperors over a period of seventy years, exploits about which I have knowledge from personal experience. Therefore I shall record the most significant and distinguished of Severus' achievements in the order in which they occurred, not selecting the favorable ones in order to flatter him, as did the writers of his own day; but, on the other hand, I shall omit nothing worth telling or worth remembering.

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Online 2007
Revision: 29 June 2007
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