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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
Maximinus Thrax. Bust at the Capitoline Museums. Photo Jona Lendering.
Maximinus Thrax (Musei Capitolini)

7.7: Revolt in Rome

[January-February 238] When these reports became known, the people milled about as if possessed. The fact is that all peoples are eager for a change of government, but the Roman mob, because of its tremendous size and diverse elements, is unusually prone to instability and vacillation.

Therefore the statues, paintings, and all of Maximinus' emblems of honor were destroyed,[1] and the hatred which fear had hitherto suppressed now poured forth without hindrance, freely and fearlessly. The senators met before they received accurate information concerning Maximinus and, placing their trust for the future in the present situation, proclaimed Gordian Augustus, together with his son, and destroyed Maximinus' emblems of honor.

Informers and men who were bringing lawsuits either fled or were killed by those against whom they had brought unjust charges; officials and judges who had been the instruments of his savagery were dragged about the city by the mob and were then thrown into the sewers. There was great slaughter of those innocent of wrongdoing: without warning, men broke into the houses of their creditors and their opponents in lawsuits, indeed into the house of anyone they hated for some trivial reason; after threatening and abusing them as informers, their attackers robbed and killed them.

Acts of civil war were committed in the name of freedom and peace and security; for example, the man who had been appointed prefect of the city after having held many consular offices (his name was Sabinus) was struck on the head by a stone and killed while he was trying to prevent what was happening in the city.

This is what the people did, but the Senate, once it recognized the danger, did everything in its power to induce the provinces to revolt against Maximinus.

Embassies composed of senators and distinguished equestrians were sent to all the governors with letters which clearly revealed the attitude of the Senate and the Roman people. These letters requested the governors to aid the common fatherland and the Senate with their counsel, and urged the provinces to remain loyal to Rome, where the power and authority from the beginning had been in the hands of the people, whose friends and subjects the provinces were from the time of their ancestors.

The majority of the governors welcomed the embassies and had no difficulty in arousing the provinces to revolt because of the general hatred of Maximinus. After killing the provincial officials who favored Maximinus, the governors came to the support of the Romans. A few of the governors, however, killed the envoys who came to them or sent them to Maximinus under guard; these, upon their arrival, he tortured to death in savage fashion.



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Note 1:
Cf. the painting near the Senate house mentioned in 7.2.8.
Online 2007
Revision: 24 July 2007
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