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AURELIAN;

OR,

ROME IN THE THIRD CENTURY


IN LETTERS OF LUCIUS M. PISO, FROM ROME, TO FAUSTA,
THE DAUGHTER OF GRACCHUS, AT PALMYRA.

BY

WILLIAM WARE,

AUTHOR OF "ZENOBIA," "JULIAN," ETC.


_FIFTH EDITION._

_TWO VOLUMES COMPLETE IN ONE._

VOL. I.


NEW YORK:
PUBLISHED BY JAMES MILLER,
(SUCCESSOR TO C. S. FRANCIS & CO.)
647 BROADWAY.
1874.




Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1838,
By CHARLES S. FRANCIS,
in the Clerk's office of the Southern District of New York.

* * * * *

Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1866,
By MARY WARE,
in the Clerk's office of the Southern District of New York.




NOTICE.


This book--a sequel to Zenobia--published nearly ten years ago under the
name of 'Probus,' was soon republished, in several places abroad, under
that of 'Aurelian.' So far from complaining of the innovation, I could
not but regard it as a piece of good fortune, as I had myself long
thought the present a more appropriate title than the one originally
chosen. Add to this, that the publisher of the work, on lately proposing
a new edition, urgently advised the adoption of the foreign name, and I
have thought myself sufficiently warranted in an alteration which
circumstances seemed almost to require, or, at least, to excuse.

W. W.


* * * * *


AURELIAN.


The record which follows, is by the hand of me, NICOMACHUS, once the
happy servant of the great Queen of Palmyra, than whom the world never
saw a queen more illustrious, or a woman adorned with brighter virtues.
But my design is not to write her eulogy, or to recite the wonderful
story of her life. That task requires a stronger and a more impartial
hand than mine. The life of Zenobia by Nicomachus, would be the portrait
of a mother and a divinity, drawn by the pen of a child and a
worshipper.

My object is a humbler, but perhaps also a more useful one. It is to
collect and arrange, in their proper order, such of the letters of the
most noble LUCIUS MANLIUS PISO, as shall throw most light upon his
character and times, supplying all defects of incident, and filling up
all chasms that may occur, out of the knowledge which more exactly than
any one else, I have been able to gather concerning all that relates to
the distinguished family of the Pisos, after its connection with the
more distinguished one still, of the Queen of Palmyra.

It is in this manner that I propose to amuse the few remaining days of a
green old age, not without hope both to amuse and benefit others also.
This is a labor, as those will discover who read, not unsuitable to one
who stands trembling on the verge of life, and whom a single rude blast
may in a moment consign to the embraces of the universal mother. I will
not deny that my chief satisfaction springs from the fact, that in
collecting these letters, and binding them together by a connecting
narrative, I am engaged in the honorable task of tracing out some of the
steps by which the new religion has risen to its present height of
power. For whether true or false, neither friend nor foe, neither
philosopher nor fool, can refuse to admit the regenerating and genial
influences of its so wide reception upon the Roman character and
manners. If not the gift of the gods, it is every way worthy a divine
origin; and I cannot but feel myself to be worthily occupied in
recording the deeds, the virtues, and the sufferings, of those who put
their faith in it, and, in times of danger and oppression, stood forth
to defend it. Age is slow of belief. The thoughts then cling with a
violent pertinacity to the fictions of its youth, once held to be the
most sacred realities. But for this I should, I believe, myself long ago
have been a Christian. I daily pray to the Supreme Power that my
stubborn nature may yet so far yield, that I may be able, with a free
and full assent, to call myself a follower of Christ. A Greek by birth,
a Palmyrene by choice and adoption, a Roman by necessity--and these are
all honorable names--I would yet rather be a Christian than either.
Strange that, with so strong desires after a greater good, I should
remain fixed where I have ever been! Stranger still, seeing I have moved
so long in the same sphere with the excellent Piso, the divine
Julia--that emanation of God--and the god-like Probus! But there is no
riddle so hard for man to read as himself. I sometimes feel most
inclined toward the dark fatalism of the stoics, since it places all
things beyond the region of conjecture or doubt.

Yet if I may not be a Christian myself--I do not, however, cease both to
hope and pray--I am happy in this, that I am permitted by the Divine
Providence to behold, in these the last days of life, the quiet
supremacy of a faith which has already added so much to the common
happiness, and promises so much more. Having stood in the midst, and
looked upon the horrors of two persecutions of the Christians--the first
by Aurelian and the last by Diocletian--which last seemed at one moment
as if it would accomplish its work, and blot out the very name of
Christian--I have no language in which to express the satisfaction with
which I sit down beneath the peaceful shadows of a Christian throne, and
behold the general security and exulting freedom enjoyed by the many
millions throughout the vast empire of the great Constantine. Now,
everywhere around, the Christians are seen, undeterred by any
apprehension of violence, with busy hands reŽrecting the demolished
temples of their pure and spiritual faith; yet not unmindful, in the
mean time, of the labor yet to be done, to draw away the remaining
multitudes of idolaters from the superstitions which, while they
infatuate, degrade and brutalize them. With the zeal of the early
apostles of this religion, they are applying themselves, with untiring
diligence, to soften and subdue the stony heart of hoary Paganism,
receiving but too often, as their only return, curses and threats--now
happily vain--and retiring from the assault, leading in glad triumph
captive multitudes. Often, as I sit at my window, overlooking, from the
southern slope of the Quirinal, the magnificent Temple of the Sun, the
proudest monument of Aurelian's reign, do I pause to observe the labors
of the artificers who, just as it were beneath the shadow of its
columns, are placing the last stones upon the dome of a Christian
church. Into that church the worshippers shall enter unmolested;
mingling peacefully, as they go and return, with the crowds that throng
the more gorgeous temple of the idolaters. Side by side, undisturbed and
free, do the Pagans and Christians, Greeks, Jews, and Egyptians, now
observe the rites, and offer the worship, of their varying faiths. This
happiness we owe to the wise and merciful laws of the great Constantine.
So was it, long since, in Palmyra, under the benevolent rule of Zenobia.
May the time never come, when Christians shall do otherwise than now;
when, remembering the wrongs they have received, they shall retaliate
torture and death upon the blind adherents of the ancient superstition!

These letters of Piso to Fausta the daughter of Gracchus, now follow.




LETTER I.

FROM PISO TO FAUSTA.


I am not surprised, Fausta, that you complain of my silence. It were
strange indeed if you did not. But as for most of our misdeeds we have
excuses ready at hand, so have I for this. First of all, I was not
ignorant, that, however I might fail you, from your other greater friend
you would experience no such neglect; but on the contrary would be
supplied with sufficient fulness and regularity, with all that could be
worth knowing, concerning either our public or private affairs. For her
sake, too, I was not unwilling, that at first the burden of this
correspondence, if I may so term it, should rest where it has, since it
has afforded, I am persuaded, a pleasure, and provided an occupation
that could have been found nowhere else. Just as a flood of tears brings
relief to a bosom laboring under a heavy sorrow, so has this pouring out
of herself to you in frequent letters, served to withdraw the mind of
the Queen from recollections, which, dwelt upon as they were at first,
would soon have ended that life in which all ours seem bound up.

Then again, if you accept the validity of this excuse, I have another,
which, as a woman, you will at once allow the force of. You will not
deem it a better one than the other, but doubtless as good. It is this:
that for a long time I have been engaged in taking possession of my new
dwelling upon the Coelian, not far from that of Portia. Of this you
may have heard, in the letters which have reached you; but that will not
prevent me from describing to you, with more exactness than any other
can have done it, the home of your old and fast friend, Lucius Manlius
Piso; for I think it adds greatly to the pleasure with which we think of
an absent friend, to be able to see, as in a picture, the form and
material and position of the house he inhabits, and even the very aspect
and furniture of the room in which he is accustomed to pass the most of
his time. This to me is a satisfaction greater than you can well
conceive, when, in my ruminating hours, which are many, I return to
Palmyra, and place myself in the circle with Gracchus, Calpurnius, and
yourself. Your palace having now been restored to its former condition,
I know where to find you at the morning, noon, and evening hour; the
only change you have made in the former arrangements being this: that
whereas when I was your guest, your private apartments occupied the
eastern wing of the palace, they are now in the western, once mine,
which I used then to maintain were the most agreeable and noble of all.
The prospects which its windows afford of the temple, and the distant
palace of the queen, and of the evening glories of the setting sun, are
more than enough to establish its claims to an undoubted superiority;
and if to these be added the circumstance, that for so long a time the
Roman Piso was their occupant, the case is made out beyond all
peradventure.

But I am describing your palace rather than my own.



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