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Alexander Severus

Alexander Severus


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Alexander Severus

Severus Alexander (Latin language: Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander Augustus Ώ] 1 October 208 – 18 or 19 March 235) was Roman Emperor from 222 to 235. Alexander was the last emperor of the Severan dynasty. He succeeded his cousin Elagabalus upon the latter's assassination in 222, and was ultimately assassinated himself, marking the epoch event for the Crisis of the Third Century — nearly fifty years of civil wars, foreign invasion, and collapse of the monetary economy.

Alexander was the heir apparent to his cousin, the eighteen-year-old Emperor who had been murdered along with his mother by his own guards, who, as a mark of contempt, had their remains cast into the Tiber river. ΐ] He and his cousin were both grandsons of the influential and powerful Julia Maesa, who had arranged for Elagabalus' acclamation as emperor by the famous Third Gallic Legion. It was the rumor of Alexander's death that triggered the assassination of Elagabalus and his mother. Α]

As emperor, Alexander's peace time reign was prosperous. Assessment of military conflict against the rising Sassanid Empire is mixed, though the Sassanid threat was checked. However, when campaigning against Germanic tribes of Germania, Alexander attempted to bring peace by engaging in diplomacy and bribery. This apparently alienated many in the legions and led to a conspiracy to assassinate and replace him.


Sisällysluettelo

Marcus Julius Gessius Bassianus Alexianus syntyi Arca Caesareassa (nykyinen Arqa, Libanonissa), Syria Phoenicessa 1. lokakuuta 208. Hänen vanhempansa olivat isä syyrialainen senaattori Gessius Marcianus ja äiti Julia Avita Mamaea, joka oli Julia Maesan tytär. Julia Maesalla oli myös toinen tytär nimeltään Julia Soaemias, jolla oli poika Varius Avitus Bassianus, joka tunnetaan paremmin keisari Elagabaluksena. Alexianus oli siis Elagabaluksen serkku. [2] [3] [4] Alexianuksen isoisä Julius Avitus Alexianus oli roomalainen aatelinen, joka kävi menestyksekkään virkauran. [5]

Alexianus sai hyvän koulutuksen ja hänestä tuli serkkunsa Elagabaluksen kanssa Emesan auringonjumalan Elagabalin pappi. Keisari Caracalla murhattiin huhtikuussa 217, jonka jälkeen valtaan nousi pretoriaaniprefekti Marcus Opellius Macrinus. Alexianus ja hänen äitinsä joutuivat vähäksi aikaa maanpakoon, kunnes toukokuussa 218 Julia Maesa onnistui lahjomaan sotilaat julistamaan 14-vuotias Elagabalus keisariksi. Kesäkuussa Macrinus kukistettiin taistelussa ja teloitettiin, jonka jälkeen Elagabaluksesta tuli keisari.

Elagabaluksen toimet Roomassa aiheuttivat kuitenkin levottomuutta kansan ja armeijan keskuudessa, jolloin Julia Maesa yritti etääntyä Elagabaluksesta ja Julia Soaemiaksesta ja suuntasi huomionsa nuoreen Alexianukseen ja tämän äitiin. 26. kesäkuuta 221 Julia Maesa taivutteli keisarin adoptoimaan Alexianuksen ja nimittämään tämän caesariksi eli apulaiskeisariksi ja perijäksi. Samalla Alexianus otti nimen Alexander. Elagabalus ja Soaemias eivät kuitenkaan pitäneet tästä, sillä he alkoivat juonitella Alexanderia vastaan yrittäen kukistaa Maesan vaikutusvallan. Elagabalus yritti poistaa Alexanderilta caesar-arvonimen ja kieltäytyi astumasta konsulin virkaan tämän kanssa 1. tammikuuta 222. Lopulta Elagalabus käski teloittaa Alexanderin, mutta pretoriaanikaartilaiset kapinoivat ja murhasivat Elagabaluksen ja tämän äidin Julia Soaemiaksen 11. tai 13. maaliskuuta 222. Tämän jälkeen 13-vuotias Alexander julistettiin keisariksi ja hänelle myönnettiin tavanomaiset keisarin arvonimet. Hän oli täten Rooman historian nuorin keisari. [3] Alexanderin kerrottiin olevan Caracallan avioton poika ja hänen nimensä vaihdettiin Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexanderiksi. [6] [4] Nimi yhdisti Alexanderin sotilaiden keskuudessa suosittuun Caracallaan, joka tunnettiin Aleksanteri Suuren ihailijana. [7]

Alexanderilla ei ollut kokemusta hallitsemisessa, joten hänen äitinsä ja isoäitinsä olivat suurimmaksi osaksi vastuussa päätöksistä. Julia Maesa tosin kuoli vuonna 223 tai 224, joten Julia Mamaea jatkoi hallitsemista kulissien takana. Alexanderin neuvonantajina toimivat 16 senaattoria ja pretoriaaniprefekti Domitius Ulpianus, [7] joka oli myös tunnettu ja arvostettu oikeusoppinut ja hänet mainitaan useaan otteeseen Justinianuksen lakikokoelmassa, Corpus iuris civiliksessä. [8] Politiikassaan Alexander pyrki rauhoittelemaan uskontoasioista huolestuneita roomalaisia. Elagabalus oli hallituskaudellaan tuonut Roomaan Emesan auringonjumala Elagabalin ja rakennuttanut suuren temppelin tälle mikä oli aiheuttanut tyytymättömyyttä perinteitään kunnioittavien roomalaisten keskuudessa. Alexander lähetti Elagabalin takaisin Syyriaan rauhoitellakseen roomalaisia ja vihki Elagabaluksen rakennuttaman temppelin uudestaan Juppiterille. Alexanderin sanottiin kunnioittaneen ja palvoneen monia jumalia, Historia Augustan mukaan myös Kristusta mihin on kuitenkin syytä suhtautua varauksella. Rangaistuksia lievennettiin ja veroja alennettiin. Alexander piti yllä suhteitaan senaattiin esiintymällä ystävällisesti sen edessä. Juristeja ja kirjailijoita suosittiin: Marius Maximus ja Cassius Dio nimitettiin kumpikin konsuliksi, edellinen vuonna 223 ja jälkimmäinen vuonna 229. [9] Myös rakennusprojekteja aloitettiin: uusi akvedukti, aqua Alexandrina, vihittiin käyttöön vuonna 226. Neron rakennuttamaa kylpylää korjattiin ja laajennettiin ja se nimettiin uudestaan Alexanderin mukaan. Roomaan rakennettiin myös uusi kerrostalo, joka nimettiin Julia Mamaean mukaan. Myös Caracallan kylpylät saatiin valmiiksi Alexanderin aikana. [10] [4]

Alexander meni naimisiin vuonna 225 Sallustia Orbianan kanssa. Orbianan isä oli Lucius Seius Sallustius, joka oli keisarin hovissa vaikutusvaltaisessa asemassa. Joidenkin lähteiden mukaan hänet jopa nimitettiin caesariksi noin vuonna 225. Seiukset joutuivat kuitenkin epäsuosioon kun Julia Mamaea koki heidät uhkaksi asemalleen. Orbiana karkotettiin Libyaan vuonna 227 ja hänen isänsä teloitettiin keisarin murhayrityksestä syytettynä. Tämän jälkeen Alexander ei ilmeisesti mennyt enää naimisiin vaikka Historia Augusta kertookin Memmia-nimisestä naisesta. Luotettavat todisteet Memmian olemassaolosta kuitenkin puuttuvat. [4]

Vaikka armeijan uskollisuus oli erittäin tärkeää hallinnolle, Alexander ja hänen neuvonantajansa eivät pystyneet pitämään kuria yllä armeijan keskuudessa. Alexanderin aikana tapahtui lukuisia kapinoita, joista jotkut olivat vakavia. Tiedetään, että Alexanderin ajalla eräs Taurinus julistautui keisariksi mutta hän hukuttautui pian Eufratiin. [8] Samoihin aikoihin julistautui keisariksi myös Uranius Antonius Syyrian Emesassa mutta hänen kapinansa ajoitus on epävarmaa. Polemius Silviuksen mukaan hän julistautui keisariksi Elagabaluksen aikana. Zosimoksen mukaan taas Severus Alexanderin aikana. Numismaattiset todisteet viittaavat kuitenkin vuosiin 253–254 eli paljon myöhemmäksi. [11] Dion mukaan joukot idässä onnistuivat saamaan itselleen lukuisia mukavuuksia ja käyttivät väärin valtaansa. Moraali oli alhaista ja karkuruus yleistä. [1] Mesopotamiaan sijoitetut roomalaiset sotilaat jopa siirtyivät persialaisten puolelle. Persian kuningas Ardašir I oli karismaattinen ja menestyksekäs sotapäällikkö, jonka vaikutusvalta saattoi aiheuttaa sen, että sotilaat murhasivat Mesopotamian maaherran Flavius Heracleon noin vuonna 228. Provinssin kaksi legioonaa, Legio I ja III Parthica saattoivat kukistaa kapinalliset joukot, sillä molemmille myönnettiin kunnianimi Severiana Alexandrina. [12]

Roomassakaan tilanne ei ollut sen parempi. Pretoriaanikaartilaiset eivät pitäneet historioitsija Cassius Diosta, joka oli ollut kova kurinpitäjä Pannonia Superiorin maaherrana toimiessaan. Pretoriaanit vaativat päällikköään Ulpianusta luovuttamaan Dio heille mutta hän kieltäytyi. Vuonna 224 kuri pretoriaanien keskuudessa oli laskenut niin alas, että kaupungissa puhkesi kolmen päivän ajan taisteluita pretoriaanien ja asukkaiden välillä. Taisteluiden aikana pretoriaanit sytyttivät osan kaupunkia palamaan. Pretoriaanit vihasivat prefektiään Ulpianusta suuresti. Viljahuollosta vastaavan prefektin Marcus Aurelius Epagathuksen yllytyksestä joukko pretoriaaneja lähti leiristään eräänä iltana myöhään kesällä 223 ja suuntasi Ulpianuksen kotiin. Ulpianus pakeni keisarin palatsiin mutta pretoriaanit seurasivat häntä ja murhasivat hänet Alexanderin ja Julia Mamaean edessä. Epagathusta ei pystytty syyttämään avoimesti Ulpianuksen murhasta. Sen sijaan hänet nimitettiin Egyptin prefektiksi ja myöhemmin teloitettiin Kyproksella. Alexander ei pystynyt pistämään sotilaita kuriin ja hän pelkäsi, että pretoriaanit murhaisivat Dion kun tämä oli konsulina vuonna 229. Alexander pyysikin Diota viettämään konsulinvirkansa poissa Roomasta. [1] [13] Roomassa oli levotonta, mutta aikalaislähteet eivät kerro tapahtumista tarkasti. [14]

Ensimmäinen suuri haaste Alexanderille tapahtui idässä kun persialainen sassanidien dynastia kaappasi vallan parthialaisilta vuonna 227. Persian kuningas Ardašir I suunnitteli vanhan Persian valtakunnan loiston ja maa-alueiden palauttamista. Näihin kuului myös roomalaisten hallinnassa oleva Vähä-Aasia, joten tilanne oli otollinen sotaan Roomaa vastaan. Vuonna 230 Ardaširin joukot hyökkäsivät Pohjois-Mesopotamiaan ja valtasivat Nisibiksen ja Carrhaen uhaten Kappadokiaa ja Syyriaa. Alexander yritti aluksi neuvotella Ardaširin kanssa mutta turhaan. [10] Alexander ja hänen äitinsä lähtivät sotaretkelle itään keväällä 231. He matkasivat Balkanin halki keräten joukkoja armeijaansa. Alexander pääsi Syyrian Antiokiaan myöhään kesällä tai aikaisin syksyllä ja alkoi kouluttamaan armeijaansa. Samoihin aikoihin Legio II Traianaan kuuluneet sotilaat kapinoivat mutta se tukahdutettiin pian. Tämä osoitti, että keisarin ja sotilaiden välinen suhde ei ollut parantunut. [1] [15] [16]

Kesällä 232 roomalaiset hyökkäsivät Persiaan kolmen armeijan voimin. Ensimmäisen piti hyökätä Armenian kautta pohjoisesta ja hyökätä Meediaan, toinen Eufratia pitkin etelään ja suunnata persialaisten pääkaupunkiin Ktesifoniin. Kolmannen oli määrä ottaa keskimmäinen tie ja marssia Alexanderin komennossa Hatran kautta Mesopotamiaan. Vaikka Alexander ja hänen äitinsä olivatkin paikalla, sotimisesta huolehtivat pääosin heidän sotapäällikkönsä. Alexander ei kuitenkaan tukenut tarpeeksi kahta muuta armeijaa. Mesopotamia vallattiin takaisin mutta hyökkäys Armeniaan epäonnistui ja joukot kärsivät tappioita perääntyessään Armenian vihamielisten alueiden läpi. [17] Ardašir keskittyi Ktesifoniin hyökänneen roomalaisarmeijan torjumiseen. Herodianoksen mukaan armeija ei aluksi kohdannut vastarintaa ja sotilaat tulivat varomattomiksi. Persialaiset hyökkäsivät ja yllättivät roomalaiset joukot. Roomalaiset saarrettiin, ja he pitivät pintansa ylivoimaista vihollista vastaan niin kauan kuin pystyivät, mutta lopulta koko armeija tuhottiin. Loput joukot kärsivät tappioita kuumuuden ja sairauksien takia. Tosin Herodianos on saattanut liioitella eteläisen armeijan tappiota korostaakseen Alexanderin epäonnistumista. Taistelu päättyi ehkä tasapeliin ja molemmat osapuolet kärsivät suuria tappioita, sillä persialaiset eivät hyödyntäneet menestystään. Taistelussa sai surmansa Legio IV Scythican prefekti, jonka muistokirjoitus on löydetty Dura Europoksesta. [12] Sota päättyi ratkaisemattomana. [1] [15] [16]

Alexander ei pystynyt käynnistämään uutta sotaretkeä Ardaširiä vastaan, koska Rooman pohjoisrajalla oli syttynyt uusi kriisi. Alemannien germaaniheimo uhkasi Rooman provinsseja Reinillä ja oli jo hyökännyt useisiin kohteisiin alueella. Tutkimuksissa on paljastunut useita Saksassa sijaitsevan Taunus-Wetteraun alueen roomalaisia linnoituksia, joiden tuhoutuminen on ajoitettu vuoteen 233. Tämä oli varmasti se alue, johon germaanien päähyökkäykset kohdistuivat, ja tätä tukee myös se, että Alexander otti Moguntiacumin kaupungin (nykyinen Mainz) tukikohdakseen. [17] Alexander vietti talven Antiokiassa ja palasi sitten äitinsä kanssa Roomaan, jossa hän vietti 25. syyskuuta 233 triumfin Persiasta saadun "voiton" kunniaksi. Hän otti myös arvonimen Parthicus (tai Persicus) Maximus (suom. suurin parthialaisten/persialaisten voittaja ). [1] [15] [16]

Vuonna 234 Alexander saapui äitinsä kanssa Ylä-Germanian provinssin pääkaupunkiin Moguntiacumiin. Vuoden 234 aikana alemannit ajettiin Rooman alueilta ja vuoden lopussa roomalaiset valmistelivat sotaretkeä germaanien kotiseuduille. Sotaretkeä varten oli kerätty joukkoja Syyriasta ja Mauretaniasta ja sitä varten Reinin yli oli rakennettu silta. Alexander päätti kuitenkin ostaa rauhan germaaneilta tarjoamalla heille rahaa ja ruokaa. Hän on saattanut olettaa, että nämä olivat juuri niitä asioita mitä heimosoturit halusivat, ja että oli parempi antaa heille haluamansa kuin odottaa, että he ottaisivat ne itse. Olipa tämä sitten viisasta tai ei, roomalaissotilaiden keskuudessa päätös aiheutti laajaa tyytymättömyyttä. Tässä vaiheessa sotilaat olivat jo erittäin vihamielisiä Alexanderia kohtaan, jota pidettiin heikkona ja epäröivänä. Sota Persiaa vastaan oli päättynyt huonosti ja kun läntisestä Euroopasta kotoisin olevat sotilaat palasivat koteihinsa, he huomasivat niiden joutuneet germaanien ryöstöretkien kohteiksi. Sotilailta oli evätty mahdollisuus tuottoisaan sotaretkeen ja lisäksi ne, jotka olivat menettäneet läheisiään germaanien hyökkäyksissä, olivat varmasti myös vihaisia keisarin päätöksestä ja olivat sitä mieltä, että germaaneja oli pikemminkin palkittu kuin rangaistu Rooman alueille hyökkäämisestä. [17] Sotilaat saivat tarpeekseen Alexanderista. Rekryyttien koulutuksesta vastannut Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus julistettiin keisariksi ja Alexanderin joukot siirtyivät Maximinuksen puolelle. Maximinuksen lähettämät sotilaat murhasivat Alexanderin ja Julia Mamaean keväällä 235. Alexander oli tällöin 26-vuotias. [1] Murhan ajankohta on epäselvä. Historioitsija David Potter arvelee sen tapahtuneen myöhään helmikuussa tai aikaisin maaliskuussa. [15] Herbert W. Benario taas maaliskuun puolivälissä. [16] Michael Grant esittää päivämäärät 18. tai 19. maaliskuuta. [18]

Rooman senaatti julisti myöhemmin Alexanderin jumalaksi ja kunnioitti häntä erilaisilla kunnianosoituksilla. Hän oli viimeinen Severusten hallitsijasuvun keisari. [16] Alexander osoittautui kyvyttömäksi ajan haasteisiin. Sotilaskokemus oli nyt erittäin tärkeää keisarille, mutta Alexanderilla ei sitä ollut, mikä koitui lopulta hänen kohtalokseen. [19]

Kirjallisista lähteistä laajin on Historia Augustan Severus Alexanderin elämäkerta. Teos on erittäin suosiollinen Alexanderille mutta se sisältää kuitenkin runsaasti fiktiivistä tai epäilyttävää tietoa ja siihen pitää suhtautua varauksella. Herodianos, joka oli Alexanderin aikalainen, on erittäin tärkeä lähde ja hänen teoksensa keisarin valtakaudesta on kattava. Toisen Alexanderin aikalaisen, Cassius Dion, teos keisarin valtakaudesta on kuitenkin säilynyt vain lyhennelmänä. Aurelius Victor, Eutropius, Epitome de Caesaribus, ja muut latinankieliset lähteet ovat sisällöltään erittäin niukkoja. Kristilliset lähteet eivät myöskään kerro paljoa. Muita lähteitä ovat juristien, kuten Ulpianuksen kirjoitukset. Kolikot, piirtokirjoitukset, papyrukset ja arkeologia auttavat paikkaamaan kirjallisten lähteiden jättämiä aukkoja. [20]


The History of Zonaras : From Alexander Severus to the Death of Theodosius the Great

While an exile from Constantinople, the twelfth-century Byzantine functionary and canonist John Zonaras culled earlier chronicles and histories to compose an account of events from creation to the reign of Alexius Comnenus. For topics where his sources are lost or appear elsewhere in more truncated form, his testimony and the identification of the texts on which he depends are of critical importance.

For his account of the first two centuries of the Principate, Zonaras employed now-lost portions of Cassius Dio. From the point where Dio’s History ended, to the reign of Theodosius the Great (d. 395), he turned to other sources to produce a uniquely full historical narrative of the critical years 235-395, making Books XII.15-XIII.19 of the Epitome central to the study of both late Roman history and late Roman and Byzantine historiography.

This key section of the Epitome, together with Zonaras’ Prologue, here appears in English for the first time, both complemented by a historical and historiographical commentary. A special feature of the latter is a first-ever English translation of a broad range of sources which illuminate Zonaras’ account and the historiographical traditions it reflects. Among the authors whose newly translated works occupy a prominent place in the commentary are George Cedrenus, George the Monk, John of Antioch, Peter the Patrician, Symeon Magister, and Theodore Scutariotes. Specialized indices facilitate the use of the translations and commentary alike.

The result is an invaluable guide and stimulus to further research for scholars and students of the history and historiography of Rome and Byzantium.


Sources

LAMPRIDIUS, Vita Alexandri in Script. Hist. Aug., TILLEMONT, Hist. des empereurs romains, III (Paris, 1740), 475 GIBBON, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, I SCHILLER, Gesch. d, rom. Kaiserzeit (Stuttgart, 1880) SMITH, Dict. of Greek and Roman Biogr., s.v. REVILLE, Religion a Rome sous les Severes (Paris, 1886) ALLARD, Hist. des persecutions pendant la premiere moitie du III siecle (Paris 1886) TROPLONG, De l'influence du Christianisme sur le droit civil des romains (Paris, 1842 1902).


Bible Encyclopedias

Roman emperor from 222 to 235 was especially friendly to both Jews and Christians. It was on this account, and not because of his Syrian descent, that the mocking inhabitants of Antioch and Alexandria, while celebrating their festivals, called him a Syrian synagogue-overseer and a high priest (Syrum archisynagogum et archierum see Ælius Lampridius in his biography of Alexander Severus, chap. ). It seems that the emperor was accustomed to announce in advance the names of those whom he would appoint to important positions of state, in the same manner as the Jews and Christians used to call out in their synagogues and churches the names of their candidates for public office (ibid. chap. ).

His Liberal Attitude.

Either from Jews or Christians he had learned the golden rule, "Do unto others as thou wouldst have them do unto thee" (Hillel, Shab. 31a) and he adopted it as his motto, inculcating it upon his subjects whenever they were about to inflict a wrong on any one (ibid. Ælius Lampridius, ). He caused this maxim to be inscribed also upon his palace and upon public buildings (ibid.). In his private chapel (lararium), where he was accustomed to pray every morning, he had, besides the images of Apollonius, Orpheus, and Jesus, also an effigy of Abraham (ibid. chap. ). The reign of Alexander Severus was, indeed, a happy period for the Jews as well as for the whole Roman empire. He continued all former privileges of the Jews (Judœis privilegia reservavit, ibid. chap. ). The verse in Daniel 11:34 , "Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help," was interpreted by the Jews, says Jerome, as referring to Severus and Antoninus (De Severo et Antonino), "whom the Jews loved very much." Grätz, in his "Gesch. d. Juden," 4th ed., 4:452, explains the words of Jerome as referring to one emperor only, Alexander Severus, whom he identifies with the Antoninus of whose friendly attitude toward Judaism and of his friendship for Judah the Patriarch the Talmudic sources frequently speak. Jerome refers very probably to Alexander Severus and to Antoninus Pius, whom he mentions after Alexander because he treats history retrogressively.

In the Talmud.

Alexander Severus is mentioned also in the Talmud and Midrash, but in the confused manner not uncommon in these authorities. A certain Justina, daughter of "Severus, son of Antoninus," is said to have told "Rabbi" that she was married at an extraordinarily early age (Niddah, 45a). "Severus, the son of Antoninus," became, according to the Talmud ('Ab. Zarah, 10a), emperor during the life of his father, and through the efforts of the latter. At this time Antoninus promised "Rabbi" that Tiberias should be raised to the rank of a colony. Since Severus appears in these passages to have been friendly toward the Jews, it is rather surprising that the selection of his reign as an era to count from was looked upon as a punishment on Israel (Midrash Shir ha-Shirim Zuṭṭa, ed. Buber, 1:6, Berlin, 1894 also "Jew. Quart. Rev." 6:685). He is mentioned in this account as having reigned eighteen years, although he actually reigned only thirteen. Other passages in the rabbinical writings, in which is mentioned, refer perhaps to Verus.

The Severus Synagogue.

The ambitious mother of Alexander Severus, Mammæa, seems also to have found a place in rabbinical literature. A passage in the Hebrew Apocalypse of Elijah (published by M. Buttenwieser, Leipsic, 1897, and previously in Jellinek's "Bet ha-Midrash," 3:65-68), wherein a Roman emperor is called, in veiled words, the son of a slave named Gigit, appears to refer to Mammæa, whose name may be construed to mean a "pipe" or "tube." Mammæa, who, while in Antioch, was wont to discuss religious matters with Origen (Gibbon, "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," chap. ), probably took an interest in Jewish matters also, and in this way became known to the Jews. A synagogue in Rome was called the Synagogue of Severus (, also ). It was so called either out of gratitude to Severus, or because a scroll of the Law, presented by Alexander Severus to the Temple in Jerusalem, was preserved here. Variants of this scroll from the Masoretic text are contained in "Bereshit Rabbati" (see A. Epstein, in "Monatsschrift," 1885, pp. 337 et seq. "Recueil des Travaux Rédigés en l'Honneur de D. Chwolson," pp. 49 et seq., Berlin, 1899). Although it is proved beyond a doubt that Alexander Severus was favorably inclined toward the Jews, nevertheless the opinion Grätz (4th ed., 4:224), that the Talmudic tradition which describes "Rabbi" and "Antoninus" as on terms of intimate friendship refers to Alexander Severus (in which case "Rabbi" would mean Judah II.), is open to serious doubt. For in the first place it is historically certain that Alexander Severus refused to bear the name of Antoninus secondly, the Talmudic passages quoted abovedistinguish between Severus, son of Antoninus, and Antoninus himself and thirdly, Christians were just as much favored by Alexander as Jews he was tolerant toward all. See Antoninus.


Alexander

Alexander Severus (Marcus Aurelius Alexander Severus 208) was a Roman emperor 222&ndash35 C.E. Relations between the Severi and the Jews were notably favorable, and in this framework one "Severus, the son of Antoninus" mentioned in talmudic literature has been identified with Alexander Severus (Nid. 45a Av. Zar. 10a cf. S. Krauss, JE 1, 356). Although this identification is not altogether certain, it has also been suggested that the synagogue in Rome known as the "Synagogue of Severus" (כנשתא דאסוירס cf. Bereshit Rabbati, ed. Albeck, p. 209 Frey, Corpus, 1 (1936), 501, and p. lxxxi) is named after Alexander Severus. These proposals are supported primarily by the biography of Alexander Severus in the Scriptores Historiae Augustae, which states that among those images in the private chapel of Severus was also one of Abraham. Although written in the middle of the fourth century, the general impression in this work of a continuation of good relations between the emperor and the Jews is probably a definite one.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

M. Avi-Yonah, Bi-Ymei Roma u-Bizantiyyon (1961 3 ), 53 A.F.V. Jardé, Etudes critiques sur la vie et la règne de Sévère Alexandre (1925).

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.

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Severus Alexander VII

oration in which Alexander refused the names of Antoninus and “the Great,” which were offered him by the senate. But before I quote it, I will insert the acclamations of the senate, 1 by which these names were decreed. Extract from the City Gazette 2 On the day before the Nones of March, 3 when the 6 Mar., 222 senate met in full session in the Senate-Chamber (that is, in the Temple of Concord, 4 a formally consecrated sanctuary), and when Aurelius Alexander Caesar Augustus had been requested to proceed thither and, after at first refusing for the reason that he knew that action was to be taken with regard to his titles, had finally appeared before the senate, the following acclamations were uttered: “Augustus, free from all guilt, may the gods keep you! Alexander, our Emperor, may the gods keep you! The gods have given you to us, may the gods preserve you! The gods have rescued you from the hands of the foul man, may the gods preserve you forever! You too have endured the foul tyrant, you too had reason to grieve that the filthy and foul one lived. The gods have cast him forth root and branch, and you have they saved. The infamous emperor has been duly condemned. Happy are we in your rule, happy too is the state. The infamous emperor has been dragged with the hook, 5 as an example of what men should fear justly punished is the voluptuous emperor, punished justly he who defiled the public honours. May the gods in Heaven grant long life to Alexander! Thus are the judgments of the gods revealed.’

VII. And when Alexander had expressed his thanks the acclamations arose again: “Antoninus Alexander, may


The African Presence in the Roman World

Great African men and women have played an important part in Roman history and culture from an exceptionally remote period. The distinguished writer Publius Terentius Afer (190-158 B.C.E.), for example, was the African who penned such immortal sentences as, “I am a man, and reckon nothing human is alien to me” and “While there is life, there’s hope.”

Terence was born in Carthage. In 158 B.C.E., Terence Afer departed on a journey to Greece to study the works of Greek writers. He never returned to Rome. Tradition says that Terence was drowned. His dramatic works influenced Cervantes, Shakespeare and Moliere, among others. Julius, Cicero and Horace used him as a model.

Arch of Septimius Severus

About 350 years after Terence, another outstanding African, Lucius Apuleius, wrote the classic work known as The Golden Ass, or Metamorphoses. Apuleius (ca. 124-180 C.E.) was born in Madaurus, Numidia (modern Algeria), on the North African coast and greedily imbibed Roman culture. His other works include On the God of Socrates. The Golden Ass is the only Latin novel that has survived in its entirety and ends with the hero, also named Lucius, being rescued by the goddess Isis — African goddess par excellence.

African Military Commanders

African soldiers, specifically identified as Moors, were actively recruited for Roman military service and were stationed in such places as Britain, France, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Poland and Romania. Many of these Africans rose to high rank. Lusius Quietus, for example, was one of Rome’s greatest generals and was named by Roman Emperor Trajan (98-117 C.E.) as his successor. Of purely African origin, Lusius is described as a “man of Moorish race and considered the ablest soldier in the Roman army.”

African Theologians and Saints

Among the most important theologians in early Christianity was Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus. Known as Tertullian, this African was the first of the church writers to make Latin the language of Christianity.

Tertullian was born into a rich family in Carthage in 170 C.E. He was the son of a centurion and was well-educated. He wrote Greek and Latin fluently and was well-trained in the school of rhetoric where Apuleius (another African) had been a student a generation earlier. Tertullian’s wife was a Christian, and he himself a convert. A man of fiery temperament and evangelical spirit, Tertullian became probably the most formidable defender of Christianity during his time.

Thaschus Caecilius Cyprianus, known as St. Cyprian, is called the greatest of the bishops of Carthage, the first African martyr-bishop and the man who, more than anyone, organized the African Church. His reputation was such that the Churches of Gaul and Spain appealed to him as an arbiter.

As an orator, Cyprian was such that only three years after becoming a Christian he, in 248 C.E., was elected bishop of Carthage. Sixty of Cyprian’s letters have survived as testament to his great intellectual gifts.

On Sept. 14, 258 C.E., St. Cyprian, amid great drama and after paying his executioner 25 gold pieces, and surrounded by a large crowd of Christians, was beheaded.

It is to St. Cyprian that we attribute the statement, “Whatever a man prefers to God, that he makes a god to himself.”

St. Augustine may have been the greatest theologian in the history of the Catholic Church. Augustine was the son of St. Monica, and largely because of her desires, he converted to Christianity in 386 C.E. In 395 C.E., he became bishop of Hippo, North Africa. His teaching on free will, original sin and the operation of God’s grace has been illuminated in numerous publications, particularly in his City of God. Augustine died during the siege of Hippo in 430 C.E.

African Martyrs

It was in 180 C.E. that the first known Christian martyrs of Africa were executed. One of the most famous and most outstanding acts of martyrdom, however, occurred in the year 203 C.E. and centers around two young, incredibly brave African women — Perpetua and Felicity. The account of their deaths, known as “The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity,” was so inspiring and popular in the early centuries that it was read during liturgies.

In the year 203 C.E., Perpetua made the decision to become a Christian, although she knew it could mean her death. Her father was frantic with worry and tried to talk her out of her decision. His motivation is understandable for at 22 years of age, this well-educated, high-spirited woman had every reason to want to live — including an infant son she was still nursing.

Perpetua was arrested with four others, including Felicity, the other African woman in our story. Perpetua was baptized before being taken to prison — a prison that was so crowded with people that the heat was suffocating. For Felicity, it was even worse as she suffered from the stifling heat, overcrowding and rough handling while being eight months pregnant.

The officers of the prison began to recognize the power and the faith and the strength and leadership of Perpetua, and the warden himself became a believer. There was a feast the day before the public spectacle so that the crowd could see the martyrs and make fun of them. But the martyrs turned this all around by laughing at the crowd for not being Christians and exhorting them to follow their example.

Bears, leopards and wild boars attacked the men, while the women were stripped to face a wild cow. When the assembled crowd, however, saw the two African young women, one of whom had obviously just given birth, milk running from her breasts, they were horrified and ashamed, and the two women were removed from the arena and clothed again. In spite of everything, however, Perpetua and Felicity were thrown roughly and brutally back into the arena. Regardless of her own pain and suffering though, Perpetua, filled with compassion and still thinking of others, went to help Felicity to her feet. The two then stood side-by-side, dignity intact, heads raised high as all of the martyrs assembled in the arena had their throats cut.

African Popes

There were at least three African popes at Rome. St. Victor I, the first we are aware of, became the first known African bishop of Rome in 189 C.E. and reigned until 199 C.E. Victor I, the first pope to write in Latin and the first pope known to have had dealings with the imperial household, is described as “the most forceful of the 2nd-century popes.”

St. Miltiades, a Black priest from Africa, was elected the 32nd pope after St. Peter in 311 C.E. Under Miltiades, after the issuance of an edict of tolerance signed by the Emperors Galerius, Licinius and Constantine, the great persecution of the Christians came to an end, and they were allowed to practice their religion in peace. St. Miltiades is regarded as a Christian martyr and died in early January 314 C.E.

The third of the African popes and the 49th pope overall was St. Gelasius I. He was born in Rome of African parents and governed from 492 to 496 C.E. He is described as “famous all over the world for his learning and holiness” and “more a servant than a sovereign.” He died on Nov. 19, 496 C.E. and like St. Victor I and St. Miltiades, St. Gelasius I was canonized. As a saint, his Feast-day is held on the 21st of November.

The Severan Dynasty

Records state that Septimius Severus was born in Leptis Magna on the North African coast (modern-day Libya) on April 11 in either 145 or 146 C.E. After the death of Emperor Marcus Aurelius and succession by his son Commodus, Septimius received his first military posting, commander of a Roman legion in Syria.

In 193 C.E., Septimius Severus became emperor of Rome. It was just four years earlier, in 189 C.E., that Victor I, an African, became pope. Four years after Septimius became emperor, in 197 C.E., Tertullian’s Apologia was published. In 203, 10 years after Septimius became emperor of Rome, the exceptionally brave St. Perpetua (an African woman) and her companions were martyred. In addition, by the end of the second century of the Christian Era more than one third of all of the members of the Roman Senate were born in Africa and Africans were dominant in Rome’s intellectual life.

This dynasty, known to historians as the Severan Dynasty, began with the accession to the throne of Septimius Severus in 193 C.E.

Septimius spent much of his reign ruling the Roman Empire on the move.

In 203 C.E., Septimius had a mighty arch constructed in the imperial forum. This monument is considered one of Italy’s most important triumphal arches. Septimius is even said to have built a marble tomb for Hannibal Barca — early Rome’s African nemesis. Indeed, because of his own African origins, Septimius has been referred to as “Hannibal’s revenge.” Septimius Severus is also said to have written an autobiography (which, unfortunately, has not survived) late in his life.

After a distinguished career characterized by administration reorganization, exploits on the battlefield, extensive travel, and an intensification of Christian persecution, Septimius, the man from Africa, died conducting yet another military campaign, this one in York in northern Britain, on Feb. 4, 211 C.E. He was 65 years of age and had been in poor health, suffering severely from gout, for years. He had enjoyed a highly distinguished reign of 17 years, eight months and three days, and he was the last Roman emperor to die of natural causes for almost 100 years.

Septimius Severus was succeeded in 211 C.E. by his two sons, Lucius Septimius Geta (211-212 C.E.) and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus aka Caracalla (211-217 C.E.).

Then came the reign of Severus Alexander (222-235 C.E.). Born Marcus Julius Gessius Alexianus in Caesarea, Phoenicia, Severus Alexander was the last representative of the Severan Dynasty. He is responsible for a triumphal arch at Dougga, Tunisia. He restored the Roman Coliseum to its ancient status, and his assassination after a 13-year reign brought the era of Severan domination at Rome to an end. In Rome, Alexander’s body was laid to rest in a specially made tomb. He was deified by the senate in 238 C.E.

This line of rulers, from Septimius Severus to Severus Alexander, 193 C.E. to 235 C.E., is known as the Severan Dynasty.

The African Presence in Rome: A Reading List

Birley, Anthony. Septimius Severus: The African Emperor. Garden City: Doubleday, 1972.

Rashidi, Runoko. Black Star: The African Presence in Early Europe. London: Books of Africa, 2011.

Raven, Susan. Rome in Africa. 3d ed. London: Routledge, 1993.

Snowden, Frank M., Jr. Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1970.

*Runoko Rashidi is a historian and lecturer based in Los Angeles and Paris. His most recent works are Black Star: The African Presence in Early Europe in 2011 and African Star of Asia: The Black Presence in the East in 2012. Runoko is currently leading tours to Europe in August 2014 and Nigeria and Cameroon in December 2014.


Alexander Severus

Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander, pôvodným menom Gessius Alexianus Bassianus, ako cézar Marcus Aurelius Alexander (1. október 208 Arca Caesarea, dnes ʿArká v Libanone [1] – 19. marec 235 Mogontiacum), bol rímsky cisár panujúci v rokoch 222 – 235. Alexander Severus bol posledným cisárom Severovskej dynastie, mal sýrsky pôvod.

Ako vládca nebol príliš schopný a samostatný. Podarilo sa mu potlačiť ambície Peržanov, ktorí ovládli Partskú ríšu a požadovali od Rimanov všetky ich ázijské územia. Za jeho vlády vypuklo povstanie Alamanov v Germánii. Toto ťaženie sa cisárovi stalo osudným, bol zabitý generálom Maximinom, ktorý sa vyhlásil za cisára, čo spôsobilo začiatok dlhých občianskych vojen vedúcich temer k pádu impéria.

"Hovorí sa, že Alexander Severus pociťoval voči všetkým pochlebovačom takú nenávisť, že ak ho niekto pozdravil trochu poníženejšie alebo podlízavejšie pred ním sklonil hlavu, okamžite ho krikom odohnal. A v prípade, ak niekoho od tohto vyhrešenia uchránila váženosť alebo majestát úradu, pokarhal ho svojím prísnym pohľadom." ERASMUS ROTERODAMUS: Institutio principis Christiani. Výchova kresťanského vladára. Prel. I. Nagy. Trnava: Filozofická fakulta TU 2009, s. 147.


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