Herodian 8.7

Herodian (late second, first half third century): Greek historian, author of a History of the Roman Empire since the Death of Marcus Aurelius 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.

Pupienus in Aquileia

[8.7.1] [Late Spring 238] Thus was holiday kept at Rome. Meanwhile, [Pupienus] Maximus left Ravenna and proceeded to Aquileia, crossing on his way the shallows fed by the Eridanus Rivernote and the surrounding marshes; these shallows empty into the sea through seven outlets, and for this reason the natives call the marsh, in their own language, the "Seven Seas."

[8.7.2] The Aquileians immediately opened their gates and welcomed Maximus into the city. Now all the cities of Italy sent embassies to him of their most distinguished citizens, clad in white and carrying laurel branches. Each group brought the statues of its ancestral gods and the gold crowns among the votive offerings. These men cheered Maximus and scattered leaves in his path. The soldiers who were besieging Aquileia now came forward, carrying the laurel branches symbolic of peaceful intent, not because this represented their true feelings but because the presence of the emperor forced them to pretend respect and good will.

[8.7.3] The truth is that most of the soldiers were secretly angered and grieved to see their chosen emperor killed and the emperors elected by the senate in full command. In Aquileia, Maximus attended to the sacrifices on the first and second days; on the third day, however, he summoned the entire army to the plain and from a platform erected for his use addressed them as follows:

[8.7.4] "How much it has profited you to change your minds and support the actions of the Romans you have learned from recent experience. Now you are at peace instead of at war. You are enjoying the protection of the gods by whom you swore. And you are keeping your soldier's oath, that sacred rite of the Roman empire. All good things are yours to enjoy from this time on, for you have confirmed your pledges to the senate and the Roman people and to us, your emperors, chosen by the senate and the people for our nobility of birth, the many positions of authority we have held, and the long succession of offices which made it appear that we had risen to the throne by a regular cursus.

[8.7.5] The empire is the personal property of no man. It is from of old the common possession of the people of Rome, the seat of your empire's fortune. To us and to you have been entrusted the administration and management of that empire. With good discipline and proper behavior, with respect and honor for those who command you, a prosperous life, full of every good thing, will be yours. For all other men in the provinces and the cities, peace will result, and obedience to their governors. You will be able to live as you like among your kinsmen; you will not suffer┬áinjury in some foreign land.

[8.7.6] As to the matter of keeping the barbarian nations quiet, that will be our concern. As two emperors invested with equal power, we shall manage affairs at Rome jointly. Should any difficulty arise abroad, one of us can easily be present wherever and whenever the occasion demands. Let no one of you think that we shall remember what has occurred, either what you did (for you were simply obeying orders) or what the Romans and the other provincials did, for they rebelled because they were unjustly treated. But rather let us proclaim an amnesty for all offenses, and let there be pacts of lasting friendship and pledges of eternal good will and good conduct."

[8.7.7] After this speech, Maximus promised the soldiers lavish gifts of money; then, remaining in Aquileia only a few days longer, he arranged to return to Rome. He sent the rest of the army to the provinces and to duty in their own local garrisons, while he went to Rome with the praetorians, the guards of the imperial palace, and the troops enrolled by Balbinus.

[8.7.8] The auxiliaries from Germany also accompanied him to Rome; he put great faith in their loyalty, relying on the fact that before he became emperor he had governed the province of Germany in moderate fashion. Balbinus came out to meet his co-emperor on the outskirts of Rome, bringing with him Gordian Caesar. The Senate and the people welcomed Maximus with cheers, as if he were celebrating a triumph.