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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.
Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine
Caracalla. Antikensammlung, Berlin (Germany). Photo Jona Lendering.
Caracalla (Altes Museum, Berlin)

4.1: Caracalla and Geta become emperor

The activities of Severus during his eighteen years as emperor I have recounted in the preceding book. His sons, who were now young men, quarreled continually on the return journey to Rome with their mother. They did not use the same lodgings or even dine together, since they were extremely suspicious of all they ate and drank; each feared that the other would secretly get prior access to the kitchens and bribe the servants to use poison.

This fear led the youths to complete the journey with even greater haste; for they believed that they would be safer in Rome where, by dividing the palace between them, each could manage his own affairs as he pleased in the most spacious dwelling in the entire city.


Bust of Geta. Louvre, Paris (France). Photo Marco Prins.
Geta (Louvre)

[May 211] When they arrived in Rome, the people welcomed them with laurel branches and the Senate, too, came out to greet them. The two youths headed the procession, wearing the imperial purple; the consuls for that year followed, carrying the urn which held the ashes of Severus. Then those who had come out to greet the young emperors passed by the urn and paid their respects to the emperor.

The procession escorted the urn to the mausoleum where the remains of Marcus and his imperial predecessors are to be seen.[1] After performing the rites prescribed for new emperors, the youths entered the imperial palace.

Each brother now took up residence in his half of the palace. Barricading the inner doors, they used in common only the public outer doors. Caracalla and Geta stationed their own private guards and were never seen together except briefly during their infrequent public appearances. But before doing anything else, the emperors performed the funeral rites for their father.



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Note 1:
The Mausoleum of Hadrian.
Online 2007
Revision: 1 July 2007
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