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SEVERUS LUCIUS SEPTIMUS, [italy.
About this lime he assumed the imperial title; and, wearied of inaction, marched his forces into the east, where he made numerous conquests. He was recalled from Asia by the revolt of the Britons, whom he reduced to obedience. To defend the island from the incursions of (he Picts, he built a wall across the northern part,—of which some vestiges remain. While in Britain, his son Caracalla, whom he had appointed his successor, made an attempt upon his life. Aware of the conspiracy, he had the weakness to pardon him, but compelled him to witness the death of his accomplices; and alluding to his infirmities, which furnished Caracalla with a pretext for his unnatural crime, he said, " Know, young man, it is the head only that governs, and while that remains sound, the rest of the body is in health." Worn out at length by a complication of disorders, he died at York, in the year 211, at the age of 66.
The ambitious Mœsa had succeeded in elevating Heliogabalus, her grandson, to the empire, but she was soon sensible that the depravity which he early evinced, would occasion her destruction. She therefore persuaded him to adopt her cousin germain, of whom she was likewise the grandmother, and who then took the name of Alexander Severus.
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Heliogabalus endeavoured, at first, to make this young prince, who was then only thirteen, the companion of his excesses. Mœsa, and Mammaea, the mother of Alexander, disconcerted all his projects by their vigilance. This monster, in a fit of resentment, meditated his ruin, but his aims were likewise frustrated. Fresh attempts tended to the revolt of his troops. Heliogabalus and his mother were massacred, and Alexander was proclaimed emperor, and acknowledged by the senate at the age of thirteen and a half.
Mœsa and Mammaea reigned for a time in his name. The former died a little time after; and when in the end, Alexander assumed the reins of government, his mother maintained so much influence, and was treated by him with such respect and defen nee, as to induce his enemies to make it a subject of accusation.
Upon the elevation of Alexander to the empire, sixteen senators, distinguished for their valour and their virtue, were chosen to form his couneil. Of this number, was the celebrated lawyer Ulpianus. Tbeir first care was to displace, by estimable men, the comedians and debauched characters to whom Heliogabalus had entrusted the government of the provinces, and the most important offices in the state; at the same time it was necessary to restore order into every department of the government, to give the senate its proper dignity, and to re-establish the finances, exhausted by insensible profusion. This Alexander effected by his moderation and ceconomy; although he materially reduced the taxes, which had been imposed by his predecessors. "An emperor," he said, "is only the steward of the people, and has no right to expend the property of his master.
Simple in his furniture and his apparel, he conceived "that princes should only be distinguished from their subjects by the brilliancy of their actions." A severe dispenser of justice, he punished with the utmost rigour those who abused his confidence. Vitronius Tuvinus availing himself of the favour with the emperor, which he appeared to enjoy, to secure, at an extravagant price, imaginary protections and pretended recommendations, which he called selling smoke, was attached to. a gibbet, encompassed with green wood, and suffocated by the smoke which issued from it when lighted. During the execution a public crier exclaimed in a loud voice, The dealer in smoke perishing by smoke. . . .. .
Do to others as you would be done by, was a maxim repeated frequently by Severus. He ordered it to be engraven upon the door of his palace, and inviolably observed it. He favoured Christianity, from the morality of which he borrowed his favourite axiom, and placed the