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SIX WRITERS OF THE AUGUSTAN HISTORY.
I. A general account of these authors. II. Passages of
Spartian concerning Septimius Severus and Caracalla. III. Passages of Lampridius concerning Heliogabalus and Alexander Severus. IV. Passages of Flavius Vopiscus concerning Adrian and Aurelian.
I. THERE are six authors, called writers of the Augustan History, who have written the history, or rather the lives of the Roman emperors from Adrian to Carinus. Their names are Elius Spartianus, Julius Capitolinus, Ælius Lampridius, Vulcatius Gallicanus, Trebellius Pollio, and Flavius Vopiscus, who lived in the times of Dioclesian, Constantius Chlorus, and his son Constantine the Great. Some of these Lives are inscribed to Dioclesian, others to the fore-mentioned Constantius, others to Constantine; some are without an inscription, nor does it appear to whom they are addresseil; nor is it absolutely certain to which author every life belongs; for those which are generally ascribed to Lampridius, are by some ascribed to Spartian. They all lived much about the same time, under Dioclesian and his successors, near the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth century. I place them all, as at a mean, in the year 306; but I bring them in here a little before the true order of their time, partly that we might not be interrupted in our accounts of Dioclesian's persecution; and partly, because the testimonies of these several authors relate to things near the beginning of the third century, or however some good while before the end of it.
Most of their passages concerning the christians have been already alleged in this work, under the several
emperors of whom they write; nevertheless, I have a mind to take here a general review of them all together in this place, adding now one or two which have not yet been taken notice of.
II. Spartian, in his Life of Septimius Severus, addressed a Vid. Voss. de Hist. Lat. 1. ii. cap. 5, 6, 7. Fabr. Bib. Lat. 1. iii. cap. vi. T. i. p. 546, &c. et T. iii. p. 83, &c. Tillernont, Dioclesian, art. 26, et 27. H. E. T. iv. p. 98, &c.
to the emperor Dioclesian, says of Severus : " Heb forbade * under a severe penalty, that any should become Jews. • A like edict was published by him against the christians.'
Spartian intends the persecution of the christians begun in the tenth year of Severus, A. D. 202, mentioned by Eusebius and otlier ecclesiastical writers, and of which we gave a distinct account some while
ago. 2. The same historian in the Lifed of Antoninus Caracalla, son and successor of Severus, says of himn : • Ate the
age of seven years, when he heard that a boy his play• fellow had been grievously beaten, because he was of the • Jewish religion, he would not for a good while after so • much as look upon his own father, nor the father of the boy, nor those who had beaten bim.'
It is probable, that by the Jewish' is here intended the . christian religion ;' forasinuch as Tertullian,' who lived at that tiine, says, that Caracalla was pursed by a christian
Of this likewise we took notice 8 formerly. III. Lampridius, in his Life of Antoninus Heliogabalus, [who succeeded Macrinus, and reigned from 218 to 222,] addressed to Dioclesian, says: “ Heli erected a temple upon • Mount Palatine, near the imperial palace, to the god Heli
ogabalus, intending to bring into that temple the image • of the mother of the gods, and the fire of Vesta, and the • Palladium, and the shields of Mars, and every object of • the veneration of the Romans, that no god might be wor
shipped at Rome beside Heliogabalus. He said likewise, * that the religion of the Jews and the Samaritans, and the • devotion of the christians, must be transferred thither, that • the priesthood of Heliogabalus might comprehend in it * the mysteries of all religions.' This is the passage which I promised some while ago.
• Judæos fieri sub gravi pænâ vetuit. Idem etiam de christianis sanxit. Spartian. Sever. cap. 17. p. 618. quoted before in this volume, p. 313. c See before, p. 309, &c.
d It is not certainly known to whom that Life is addressed.
Septennis puer, quum collusorem suum puerum, ob judaïcam religionem gravius verberatum audîsset, neque patrem suum, neque patrem pueri, vel auctores verberum diu respexit. Spartian. Carac. cap. i. † Ad. Scap. cap. 4.
& See p. 309. h Sed ubi primum ingressus est Urbem, omissis iis, quæ in provincia gerebantur, Heliogabalum in Palatino monte juxta ædes imperatorias consecravit, eique templum fecit, studens et Matris typum, et Vestæ ignem, et Palladium, et Ancilia, et omnia Romanorum veneranda in illud transferre templum, et id agens, ne quis Romæ deus nisi Heliogabalus coleretur. Dicebat præterea, Judæorum et Samaritanorum religiones, et christianam devotionem illuc transferendam, ut omnium culturarum secretum Heliogabali sacerdotium teneret. Lamprid. Heliog. cap. iii. p. 796.
See before, p. 330.
Thisk mad emperor, remarkable for the worst follies and vices, was a native of Emesa in Syria, where the sun was worshipped under the appellation of Heliogabalus, or Elagabalus, to whom this emperor himself was! priest.
There is no need to make many remarks upon this story of Lampridius. It shows, however, that the christian religion, though mentioned last here as being of the latest original, was then well known in the world, and was so considerable, as not to be onnitted in this emperor's design of uniting the devotions of all men in the worship of the god to whom he was priest.
They who are desirous to inform themselves concerning the origin of the name Heliogabalus may consult divers learned men, whose works are in every body's hands.
2. The same writer, in his Life of Alexander Severus, successor of Heliogabalus, has several passages relating to the christians, wbich have been already transcribed with remarks; to which therefore the reader is now referred.
IV. Flavius Vopiscus of Syracuse is the sixth and last of the Augustan writers, but not the worst of them; for he is generally reckoned as learned a man, and as regular an historian, as any of them; as was observed • before.
I have already taken froin him a large article in the chapter of the emperor Adrian, to which the reader is referred. It is taken out of bis Life of Saturninus,9 who was proclaimed emperor by the soldiers at Alexandria in the time of Probus," and after a short reign, or rebellion and tyranny, was put to death; and, as Eusebius $ says, at Apamea.
k Vitam Heliogabali Antonini impurissimam, qui Varius etiam dictus est, nunquam in literas misissem, ne quis fuisse Romanorum principem sciret, nisi ante Caligulas, et Nerones, et Vitellios, hoc idem habuisset imperiun). Lamprid. ibid. cap. i. p. 790.
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Antonini Caracallæ, ut putabatur, filius, et sacerdos, Eliogabali templi, adeo impudice in imperio suo vixit, ut nullum genus obscenitatis omiserit. Euseb. Chron. p. 173.
| Fuit autem Heliogabalus vel Jovis vel Solis sacerdos, atque Antonini sibi nomen asciverat, &c. Lamprid. ibid. p. 793.
Joseph. Scaliger. Animadv. in Euseb. Chron. p. 231. Basnag. ann. p. 218. num. viii. n See before, p. 331-333, &c.
° See p. 385. P See this vol. p. 94, &c.
9 Fl. Vopisc. Saturninus. cap. 7, 8. Et, ne longius progrediar, dicendum est quod præcipue ad hunc pertinet. Errare quosdam scio, et putare hunc esse Saturninum, qui Gallieni temporibus imperium occupavit: quum hic longe alius fuerit, et Probo pene nolente sit occisus.--Obsessum denique in castro quodam ab iis, quos Probus miscrat, invito Probo esse jugulatum. Id. ib. cap. xi. p. 734. s Saturninus, magister exercitûs, novam civitatem Antiochiæ exorsus est condere. Qui postea imperium molitus invadere Apamiæ occiditur. Euseb. Chron. p. 177. Conf. Scaligeri Animadv. p. 386
2. The same writer, in his Life of the einperor Aurelian, speaks of a letter of his to the senate of Roine, written probably in the beginning of his reign, in the year 270 or 271, where the christians are inentioned; the passage was transcribed formerly u with remarks; to which therefore I now refer my readers.
TWO AUTHORS WHO WROTE AGAINST THE CHRISTIANS IN THE TIME OF DIOCLESIAN'S PERSECUTION, ONE ANONY
MOUS, THE OTHER SUPPOSED TO BE HIEROCLES. WHERE ALSO OF APOLLONIUS TYANÆUS, AND THE TWO
LIVES OF PYTHAGORAS, WRITTEN BY PORPHYRY AND JAMBLICHUS.
1. An anonymous author against the christians. II. Hie
rocles, with a large account of his work from Lactantius and Eusebius. Il. A great cruelty of Hierocles, in the time of Dioclesian's persecution, when he was præfect of Alexandria. IV. Remarks upon the accounts of his work, as given by Lactantius and Euscbius. V. That Apollonius was not so considerable as many learned men of late times have supposed. VI. A large account of the Life of Apollonius Tyaneus written by Philostratus, with remarks upon it, showing that it was not written with a design to oppose the miracles of our Saviour. VII. An account of the Lives of' Pythagoras, written by Porphyry and Jamblichus, with remarks upon them, showing, that in those works there was not any intention to oppose the christian religion. VIII. Another work of Jamblichus, concerning the images of the gods.
1. LACTANTIUS speaks of two professed adversaries of the christian religion, at the beginning of Dioclesian's persecution. I forbear," says he a to take notice of those
Vopisc. Aurelian. cap. 20. p. 463, &c. u See before, p. 385, 386. a Omitto eos, qui prioribus eam temporibus necquicquam lacesserunt. Ego cum in Bithyniâ oratorias literas accitus docerem, contigissetque, ut eodem tempore Dei templum everteretur; duo exstiterunt, qui jacenti atque abjectæ veritati, nescio utrum superbius an importunius, insultarent. Quorum alter antistitem se philosophiæ profitebatur. Verum ita vitiosus, ut continentiæ
• who in former times in vain opposed our religion. When • I taught rhetoric at Nicomedia, having been invited thither • for that purpose, and at the same time the temple of God
was demolished, there were two men who with great pride • unseasonably insulted the injured truth; one of whom
professed himself to be a master of philosophy, but was ' extremely vicious. This man, who overthrew his dis
courses by his manners, or condemned his manners by his • discourses, and thus was a severe censor and bitter reprover
of himself, at that very time when good men were • unrighteously abused, published three books against our
religion, and the christian name; professing likewise to • act therein the part of a philosopher, in delivering men • from their errors, and bringing them back to the way of • truth, that is, to the worship of the gods, by wbose power
and providence, as he said, the world is governed; and * not to suffer ignorant and unskilful men to be misled by magister, non minus avaritiâ quam libidinibus arderet, in victu tam sumtuosus, ut in scholâ virtutis assertor, parsimoniæ, paupertatisque laudator, in palatio pejus cænaret quam domi : tamen vitia sua capillis, et pallin, et (quod maximum est velamentum) divitiis prætegebat; quas ut augeret, ad amicitias judicum miro ambitu penetrabat.--Hic vero, qui suas disputationes moribus destruebat, vel mores suos disputationibus arguebat, ipse adversus se gravis censor, et accusator acerrimus, eodem ipso tempore, quo justus populus nefarie lacerabatur, tres libros evomuit contra religionem nomenque christianum. Professus ante omnia, philosophi officium esse, erroribus hominum subvenire, atque illos ad veram viam revocare, id est, ad cultus deorum, quorum numine ac majestate, ut ille dicebat, mundus gubernetur: nec pati homines imperitos quorundam fraudibus illici; ne simplicitas eorum prædæ ac pabulo sit hominibus astutis. Itaque se suscepisse hoc munus philosophiâ dignum, ut præferret non videntibus lumen sapientiæ, non modo, ut susceptis deorum cultibus resenescant, sed etiam ut pertinaci obstinatione depositâ, corporis cruciamenta devitent, nec sævas membrorum lacerationes frustra perpeti velint. Ut autem appareret, cujus rei gratiâ opus illud elaboråsset, effusus est in principum laudes, quorum pietas et providentia (ut quidem ipse dicebat) cum in cæteris rebus humanis, tum præcipue in defendendis deorum religionibus claruisset : consultum esse tandem rebus humanis, ut, cohibitâ impiâ et anili superstitione, universi homines legitimis sacris vacarent, ac propitios sibi deos experirentur. Ubi autem religionis ejus, contra quam perorabat, infamare voluit rationem, ineptus, varius ridiculus apparuit, quia gravis ille consultor utilitatis alienæ, non modo quid oppugnaret, sed etiam quid loqueretur, nesciebat. Nam si qui nostrorum affuerunt, quamvis temporum gratiâ conniverent, animo tamen derisere; utpote cum viderent hominem profitentem se illuminaturum alios, cum ipse cæcus esset, redacturum alios ab errore, cum ipse ignoraret ubi pedes suos poneret : eruditurum alios ad veritatem, cujus ille ne scintillam quidem unam vidisset aliquando ; quippe cum sapientiæ professor profligare sapientiam niteretur. Omnes tamen id arguebant, quod illo potissimum tempore id opus esset aggressus, quo furebat odiosa crudelitas. O philosophum adulatorem ac tempori servientem! Verum hic suâ inanitate contemtus est; qui et gratiam, quam sperabat, non est adeptus, et gloria, quam captavit, in culpam, reprehensionemque conversa est. Lactant. Inst. I. y.